Archive for June, 2012

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger

With apologies to the writers of the famous song by the same title, I came across a small news item that didn’t make the big headlines this past week.  Our friends in Georgia just don’t seem to get the idea that their citizen soldiers deserve the same right to vote that on military members enjoy.  In the upcoming primary elections and general election cycle, Georgia has violated the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) by not providing military members the minimum amount of time between elections in order to assure that their absentee ballots arrive in time to actually be counted in the respective elections.  At least the Justice Department thinks Georgia does not have the military on its mind! (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Katherine Eban of Fortune has published the results of a six-month investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal that turns the previous narrative on its head. Eban notes a fundamental misconception at the heart of the scandal: while no one disputes that straw purchasers repeatedly bought guns that fell into the hands of criminals, “five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic.”

Eban points out the irony of Republicans, who support the National Rifle Association’s attempts to weaken gun laws, chiding the ATF for not interdicting enough guns.

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Cute Kitteh Picture

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

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Psychotic Reaction

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger 


We present Count Five in glorious STEREO!

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“Un-Civil” Wars

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Like many of us, I’ve read the back-and-forth exchanges between our host, Professor Turley, and Wisconsin law professor, Ann Althouse, about Prf. Turley’s Washington Post (WaPo) article proposing an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS)  to nineteen members. It’s been a fascinating glimpse into what passes for dialog among American intelligentsia. Professor Turley reiterates a proposal he’s made years before, suggesting SCOTUS needs to keep up with the times and expand to reduce the power of a lone swing voter. Prf. Althouse responds that the reasons for the proposal cited by Prf. Turley are pure BS and that she knows better what’s in JT’s heart. Prf. Turley responds by saying her research into his position and attitude is deficient and laments the loss of civility among colleagues. Althouse replies that she’s just “plain talking” and that her real point was the manipulation of  the timing of Turley’s article by the newspaper even as it drives its own pro-Obama agenda.

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Immigration officials have declared Shera Bechard former Miss November and girlfriend of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner to be pure genius. Bechard was allowed a visa by immigration officials as an “individual with extraordinary ability.” The specific extraordinary ability was left unstated on immigration forms but it is believed that the matter was fully researched by officials.
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Someone sent me this screen shot from yesterday’s coverage and asked how I was able to join Chief Justice John Roberts in discussing the health care ruling. Frankly, I thought arriving at the studio in his robe was a bit much but I appreciate his participation in the coverage. It is, however, a bit unfair to reply to analysis by your co-panelist with “well, that is not what I meant.” I think I have a slightly better handle on his own intentions, fears, and feelings after doing this type of work for a couple decades. Indeed, I have been known to go into a deep trance on television and channel the thoughts of James Madison (as well as Thomas Paine’s bartender).
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Police in Evansville, Indiana were alarmed to find threatening comments from someone on the Internet toward local police. They responded by sending a SWAT team to a home to capture the person who left the Topix postings. They invited a camera crew to watch them take down the villain — and it did not exactly turn into the camera-ready moment that they had hoped for.

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A Virginia woman has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, its bishop, and an anti-abortion ministry for what she alleges was sexual assault during an exorcism. The woman claims that the Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, then president of Front Royal-based Human Life International Inc., made her repeatedly take off her clothes and then caressed and kissed her — saying that he was “blowing the Holy Spirit” into her. She said it gradually dawned on her that this was not your standard exorcism. The case will apparently explore the difference between showing why “Jesus Loves You” and showing how “Jesus loves you.”
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Below is today’s column in USA Today on the health care decision. Though I support President Obama’s effort to establish health care, I have always opposed the individual mandate as a violation of federalism principles. What is fascinating is how some challengers have heralded yesterday’s decision as a victory of federalism. As shown below, I do not take that view.

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In an important win for free speech, the Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit in striking down the Stolen Valor Act — legislation that I have previously criticized (here and here) as a threat to the first amendment. The nice thing is that it was not particularly close and Chief Justice Roberts again broke with his more conservative colleagues. In United States v. Alvarez, No. 11-210, the Court held 6-3 that it is unconstitutional to criminalize lies — in that case lying about receiving military decorations or medals. Ironically, Alvarez now has something to brag about but no one will believe him.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

I am still at NBC but, as many have heard, the Supreme Court delivered a clear victory to the Obama Administration in upholding the individual mandate. However, the response may be a bit too gleeful for both those following the implications for the Court and the White House.

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The U.S. Supreme Court

I am currently scheduled to discuss the Supreme Court cases starting with MSNBC and then NPR’s Here and Now followed by Fox (Special Report) and CNN. I have been encouraging people to keep in mind that we are not just waiting for the Health Care ruling but the Stolen Valor case, the latter being a case with sweeping potential for free speech in the country.

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Anthony Chase, a former tenured professor at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center in Florida is suing the law school for firing him due to its fear that he was “mentally deranged enough to engage in a campus shooting rampage.” His attorney has charged that the school not only did not give him a fair investigation but “buried the entire paper trail” to justify the termination. The lawsuit raises a novel claim under Americans with Disabilities Act alleging that Chase was fired based on the school’s perception of a mental disability.

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Every once in a while a story comes along that it both horrific and inspiring. The story of Heather Town, 32, is one such story. Heather’s 3-year-old girl Anne Marie was found alive in her arms after a tornado lifted her home off its foundation and threw her hundreds of feet. Heather held the child safely to the very end and was found alive and cradling her child by rescuers. After the child was pulled from her arms, Heather died.

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Saudi police have been dealing with a bizarre form of reckless driving called “Hagawalah” where men (women still are prohibited from driving in the Kingdom) skid their cars at high speeds as crowds cheer. Drifters often skid into opposing traffic or into awaiting crowds. One man identified only as “Mutannish” (or “he who ignores”) has been sentenced to be beheaded for killing two people while drifting.

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Below is my column in today’s Guardian newspaper — a further discussion of my proposal to expand the Supreme Court. While overlapping a bit with the column on Sunday in the Washington Post, the piece adds a few new details on the proposal that I first made over ten years ago.

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12,000,000

This afternoon, the blog passed 12,000,000 all-time hits. While still smaller than some of other sites in the top ten legal blogs, we just passed 11,000,000 not long ago and we have continued to grow. I am very proud of our community and our attempt to offer a place for civil and responsible conversation. I encourage our regulars and visitors to continue to avoid the personal attacks and name calling common elsewhere on the Internet.

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A federal judge has ruled that a Tampa rape victim known as R.W. can sue the Hillsborough County Sheriff after a jail guard refused to give her an emergency contraception pill because it was against her religious beliefs. Jail employee Michele Spinelli explained to R.W. that she would not give her the pill approved by a doctor because she viewed them to be a sin.

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It may be me but there is something particularly unnerving about Germans declaring circumcisions illegal. Yet, a court in Cologne has declared that Jewish and Muslim parents who circumcise their sons for religious reasons are committing child abuse.

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We have been following the runaway trademark and copyright laws with common phrases, symbols, and images being claimed as private property. (here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Now New Orleans Hornets Draft pick Anthony Davis is moving to trademark his unibrow signature phrases like “Fear the Brow” and “Raise the Brow.” To avoid one of the thuggish firms enforcing these claims, I am showing what I hope to be an unprotected unibrow.

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Given Above the Law’s helpful advice yesterday that civility on blogs has been replaced by “a tradition of ad hominem attacks, hyperbole, and pictures of cats,” I give you a cat picture.

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A new report shows that the day after killing Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman passed a police lie detector test. He registered truthful in stating that he was afraid for his life before shooting the teen. The report does not materially affect the trial since such tests are not admissible but may explain the the resistance of local officials to bring the case. It also further supports the view, again, that Angela Corey overcharged the case. She was no doubt aware of the test which, while not admissible as evidence because their reliability is questioned, can be considered by the prosecutors in determining the appropriate charge. UPDATE: A police report shows a critical view of Zimmerman’s account and says that he missed two opportunities to defuse the situation.

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James Hackett, 26, is accused of assault with a dangerous weapon in Lowell, Massachusetts. The weapon: french fries. Hackett was arguing with this wife when his stepdaughter stepped in. Hackett responded by throwing french fries in her face. We have seem assault with everything from flatulence to a hug to a pillow attack to bubble, but not a french fry.

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Alex Filippenko and colleagues have caused a stir by observing that the law of physics can now explain the Big Bang without one common element: God. The University of California (Berkeley) professor observed that . “With the laws of physics, you can get universes.” Before we replace the statement on our money to read “In the Law of Physics, We Trust” there is a fallback. If the law of physics can explain the Big Bang, God may have still invented the law of physics.

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We have followed ludicrous examples of the bureaucratic rules in schools with regard to the denial of aspirin or inhalers to students. Now it appears that school officials across the country are allowing students to develop serious sun burns because they consider sun block to be a drug requiring parental permission. It sounds like something straight out of The Onion but it is true. In the meantime, school officials in the Washington area have successfully blocked a measure to require parental notification of police interrogations of their children, even in cases of serious alleged misconduct.

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Former President Jimmy Carter has joined civil libertarians in denouncing President Barack Obama for his “widespread abuse of human rights” by authorizing drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists. Obama has continued the drones strikes despite the public demand of Pakistan and other countries that he stop the attacks on sovereign territory. While the United States would never tolerate such attacks on our soil and would treat them as an act of war, Obama officials have said that the attacks will continue so long as it views them to be in our national interest. Carter also denounced Obama’s continued use of Guantanamo Bay, his continuation of abusive surveillance programs, denial of privacy protections of citizens and other violations.

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As we anticipated, the United States Supreme Court has reversed and upheld the Ninth Circuit in part in the immigration case. Most parts — Sections 3, 5, and 6 — are preempted. In this case, Justice Kagan recused herself and the opinion is written by Justice Kennedy. Both sides can claim some victory, though the Administration can claim the invalidation of most of the law. Yet, the most controversial provision remains unpreempted.

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As many on this blog know, I rarely respond to criticism of columns that I run in USA Today or other newspapers. As a columnist, I feel that I am given a rare opportunity to express my views and criticism comes with the territory. However, I was taken aback by many of the comments in response to my Sunday column in The Washington Post discussing my proposal for the expansion of the United States Supreme Court. Though the proposal was given serious and supportive reviews by some sites like Forbes, some conservatives immediately assumed that I was a liberal simply upset with the anticipated ruling striking down the individual mandate provision of the health care law. When another law professor and blogger (Ann Althouse) joined this ill-informed and uncivil chorus, I thought I would respond. This blog has always strived to maintain a strict civility rule — distinguishing it from many other blogs by discouraging and sometimes eliminating ad hominem and personal attacks. Yet, I am still surprised by the lack of civility and responsibility by many — particularly fellow lawyers and academics — in responding to such proposals. [Update: Professor Ann Althouse has responded to my call for greater civility with a new blog entitled "Jonathan Turley's civility bullshit about my calling 'bullshit' on his Court-packing plan." Notably, Professor Althouse does not address the fact that she was completely wrong in claiming that I was motivated by dislike for the anticipated ruling striking down the individual mandate in the health care case. (Apparently both civility and factual accuracy fall into the same "BS" category for Professor Althouse).]

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I have previously and repeatedly written against the use of shaming and novel sentencing by judges around the country (here and here and here). Judges often thrill the public by imposing their own forms of justices — departing from conventional criminal sentences to force people to clean courtroom with toothbrushes, wear demeaning placards, or carry out publicly humiliating tasks. Now, Utah District Juvenile Judge Scott Johansen has joined this circus of judicial Caesars after giving a mother the choice to cut off his daughter’s ponytail in front of him or accept a longer sentence. The mother, Valerie Bruno, relented and cut off Kaytlen Lopan, 13,in the courtroom.

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The Illinois Supreme Court handed down an interesting decision on Thursday where it ruled that it was not illegal for an adult man to have sex with a 17-year-old girl but it was illegal to film it. Marshall Hollins, 32, was arrested in March 2009 and charged with three counts of child pornography after photographing himself having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend. The sex was fine but the photos were the crime.

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University of Oregon Professor Azim Shariff and University of Kansas Professor Mijke Rhemtulla published an interesting study in the scientific journal PloS One finding that people who believe in heaven are more likely to commit a crime. It appears that the promise of fire and brimstone of hell is a far greater motivator for good conduct than the harps and cherubs of Heaven.

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Roman Glass Bead
Photo By Nara National Research Institute/AFP (c) 2012, Used without permission.

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

In the 5th Century CE, the world was a much more isolated place than it is today but it was still interconnected. Most people lived and died within 30 miles of where they were born. Yet even then, the world was an interconnected place where the far reaches could touch one another. Travel was restricted to by foot, horseback or boat. Regular communication depended upon trade routes or carrier pigeons. However, distance and geographical isolation did not prevent distant parts of the world from knowing about each other. The impact of foreign countries within a given country in the ancient world, both near and far, raises some interesting questions about interconnectedness, influence and the impact of telecommunications and air travel on the modern world. For context, let’s consider this recent archaeological find announced by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

That’s the kind of science nonsense that Louisiana’s taxpayers are going to be funding this upcoming school year. Governor Bobby Jindal’s bill will divert public school funds to pay for vouchers for students to attend private Christian schools like Eternity Christian Academy, in Westlake, LA.

The Eternity Christian Academy follows the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. What comprises the ACE science curriculum?

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New Orleans

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger 


We present Gary U.S. Bonds in glorious STEREO!

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Below is today’s column in The Washington Post Sunday Outlook. Due to the normal space restraints, the original article had to be cut down. Given the high number of comments and questions about the proposal (which I first made years ago) for the expansion of the Supreme Court, I have posted the longer, original piece. That longer version addresses some of the questions raised by readers.

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It could all be in the hands of just one justice. After a 14-month fight in Congress and an unprecedented challenge by states to the power of the federal government, the fate of health care in this country is likely to be decided by a 5-4 vote.

The same may be true when the court rules on Arizona’s immigration law and a sweeping free speech case.

As speculation and anxiety grow over these cases, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently alluded in a speech to “sharp disagreement” in the Supreme Court’s outstanding opinions, while saying that “those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.”

It’s not terribly productive to try to guess how the court will rule in these cases — we’ll find out soon enough. It’s far more important to ask whether “those who know” are too few and whether “those who don’t know” should demand to reform the court.

The power of the Supreme Court will always be controversial because of the fact that the justices are the final word in legal disputes. Justice Robert Jackson wrote in 1953, “We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” An individual’s view of the court can depend on whose ox is being gored by its decisions; a “judicial activist” is often just a jurist who doesn’t do what you want. Any Supreme Court of any size will always render unpopular decisions. It is supposed to. Federal judges are given life tenure to insulate them from public opinion, so they can protect minority interests and basic liberties.

But how many people should it take to come up with the final word on such questions? Our highest court is so small that the views of individual justices have a distorting and idiosyncratic effect on our laws. The deep respect for the Supreme Court as an institution often blinds us to its flaws, the greatest of which is that it is demonstrably too small. Nine members is one of the worst numbers you could pick — and it’s certainly not what the founders chose. The Constitution does not specify the number of justices, and the court’s size has fluctuated through the years. It’s time for it to change again.

A national poll this month showed that the public overwhelmingly opposes how the court functions. Only 44 percent of citizens approved of how the court is doing its job, and 60 percent thought that appointing Supreme Court justices for life is a “bad thing” because it “gives them too much power.”

Many people started looking critically at the court’s structure after the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000 — and the power that case gave to just five unelected individuals. One of the most disturbing aspects of the case was not simply that some justices appeared to depart from prior legal views but that the court insisted that its opinion could not be used as precedent and was “limited to the present circumstances.” Five justices did not want their reasoning used for anything other than selecting the next president of the United States.

The health-care decision comes 75 years after the famous “court packing” effort of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As it is today, the country in 1937 was in the midst of an economic crisis, and Roosevelt was saddled with four conservative justices — known as the “Four Horsemen” — who opposed his New Deal. Three justices, called the “Three Musketeers,” were predictably liberal but could not carry the day against the Four Horsemen and Associate Justice Owen Roberts, who was often a swing vote.

Roosevelt decided to introduce a bill to allow him to appoint up to six additional justices. This could have led to a real crisis. But disaster was averted when Roberts voted to support a critical New Deal case and “Horseman” Justice Willis Van Devanter retired — the “switch in time that saved nine” moment for the court. However, Roosevelt may have had the right idea for the wrong reason.

The nine-member court is a product not of some profound debate or study, but pure happenstance. The first Supreme Court had an even more ill-conceived number of justices: six. In fact, when the court first convened in 1790 at the Royal Exchange Building in New York, only two justices were present (fortunately, it had no cases on its docket). After that time, the size of the court expanded and shrank, largely with the number of federal circuits. Since justices once “rode circuit” and sat as judges in lower courts, Congress would add a justice when it added a circuit or reduce the number with the elimination of a circuit. Thus, when a 10th circuit was added in 1863, a 10th justice was added. In 1869, the court happened to have nine members for nine circuits. And that is where its size settled.

Justices detested riding circuit and persuaded Congress to end the practice in 1869. The court remained at nine members despite the fact that some federal courts of appeal now have as many as 29 judges. Ever since, we have repeatedly had 5-4 split decisions, with one or two swing justices dictating the outcome of cases. With the increasing longevity of justices, such divisions have become stagnant and bitter. Before Justice Anthony Kennedy was the primary swing vote, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was often the deciding vote and for years shaped the law according to her shifting views on subjects from the death penalty to privacy.

Some proposed Supreme Court reforms seek to break justices’ hold by rotating these positions among federal judges, while others call for mandatory retirement dates. But I believe that many of the court’s problems come back to its dysfunctionally small size. This is something that countries with larger high courts manage to avoid: Germany (16 members), Japan (15), United Kingdom (12) and Israel (15). France uses 124 judges and deputy judges, while Spain has 74. These systems have structural differences, but they eliminate the concentration-of-power problem that we have in the United States.

While the best number is debatable, I believe that a 19-member court — roughly the average size of a circuit court — would be ideal. Just because we settled on the number 9 arbitrarily does not mean that any number is as good as any other. A court with 19 or so members have been shown to work efficiently where a larger court would likely be unwieldy. Appellate circuits are often divided between liberal and conservative judges. Yet, it is rare that one or two of those judges consistently provide the swing votes on all issues when they sit “en banc,” or as a whole. Appellate courts of this size have proved to be manageable while allowing for more diversity in their members. More important, the power of individual judges is diluted.

The exaggerated power of each justice has also undermined the confirmation process. That, too, would improve with a larger bench. Because there are now so few positions, confirmation fights have become increasingly bitter, and presidents have become increasingly risk-averse in their nominations. Jurists are often selected because they have never said or written anything remotely provocative or even interesting. Many are chosen precisely because they are relative unknowns — such as O’Connor, David Souter, Clarence Thomas and most recently Elena Kagan. Bypassing clear intellectual leaders in courts, the bar and academia, modern nominees are picked as a type of judicial blind date. The chances that we could have a legal virtuoso such as Louis Brandeis or Joseph Story on the court in the current system are at best accidental.

How would we get to a court of 19? Gradually. If Congress ordered such an expansion, no president would be allowed to appoint more than two additional justices in a term. Once fully staffed, the court would have a more regular natural turnover. This would allow greater variety and a more consistent opportunity for each president to name members to the bench. It would also decrease the importance of individual justices hewing so closely to party lines — potentially allowing nominees with broader experience and ideas.

An expansion might also allow Congress to force justices to return to the worthwhile practice of sitting on lower courts for periods of time. One of the greatest complaints from lawyers and judges is that the justices are out of touch with the reality of legal practice. Having a 19-member court would allow two justices to sit on an appellate court each year by designation — and be forced to apply the rulings that the Supreme Court sends down.

We treat institutions such as the Supreme Court as inviolate. However, the framers not only gave us a brilliant system of government but the ability to improve it to better meet contemporary demands. The respect that most of us hold for the court should motivate us, not deter us, from reforming it. Just as the philosopher Jeremy Bentham called for “the greatest good for the greatest number,” sometimes the greatest good can be found in the greater number. When it comes to the Supreme Court, that number may be 19.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro professor of public interest law at George Washington University, where he teaches a course on the Supreme Court.

Washington Post Sunday June 24, 2012

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Blazing Parody or Not?

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Georgia is in the news again concerning the Ku Klux Klan.  But unlike the recent story where the KKK were denied the right to adopt a stretch of highway, the current scandal surrounds Roger Garrison.  Garrison is a 30 year law enforcement veteran and is currently running for re-election as Sheriff of Cherokee County, a position he has held for the last 20 years. The issue is a photograph of Garrison at a 1985 costume party obtained from an anonymous source by WSBT television reporter, Jodie Fleischer. The costumes of choice? KKK robes and hoods.  (Picture below the fold.)

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Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

“There were 154 suicides among active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year, according to a recent report from the Associated Press, a number that is 50 percent higher than the number of U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan over that time period. It is the highest rate in 10 years of war.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/panetta-calls-rise-in-military-suicide-troubling-and-tragic/2012/06/22/gJQAnQSPvV_blog.html

The above quote was taken from an article in yesterday’s Washington Post. The article was about a statement made by Defense Secretary Leo Panetta http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Panetta speaking to a Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs annual conference on suicide prevention in the military.

“Panetta called suicide in the military “perhaps the most frustrating challenge” he has faced since becoming secretary of defense last year.

 There are no easy answers, but that is no damn reason for not finding the answer to the problem of suicide,” Panetta told attendees at the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs annual conference on suicide prevention in the military.

 The conference heard Thursday from a panel of family members who spoke of what they said was the military services’ failure to provide appropriate and timely mental health care to service members who had sought help.

 “The stories told by the family panel members run counter to the prevailing wisdom that the biggest hurdle in trying to prevent suicide in the military is the stigma associated with seeking help, noted Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a military family group that organized the panel.

 “We were hearing about folks who said, ‘I want to get help, I want to be better, I have a lot to live for,’ but were not getting that help,” Carroll said.

 “In his address Friday morning, Panetta said that it is the responsibility of leaders from non-commissioned officers on up to ensure that troops showing signs of stress be “aggressively” encouraged to seek help. “We have to make clear we will not tolerate actions that belittle, that haze individuals, particularly those who seek help,” he said. Panetta said concerns about access to behavioral health care prompted his decision earlier this month to order a service-wide review of mental health diagnoses. The action followed an Army investigation into concerns that some soldiers had their diagnoses reversed because of the costs of caring for them. “

Let me be fair and say that I have no doubt as to the sincerity of Secretary Panetta in wanting to deal with this issue and I approve of all efforts to get treatment both psychologically and emotionally to provide our troops with all the assistance they need. However, as much effort as is put into solving this problem by the powers that be, the essential issue is that war is horrible and our country has now engaged in two wars that have lasted almost a decade. Beyond that, as these wars have worn on it has become increasingly obvious to all concerned that there was no need to fight them in the first place. Our troops are not stupid and I believe despite the great efforts to indoctrinate them with purpose, they recognize the futility of their efforts. If I’m correct then how does a rational human being connect the constant dangers and bloody revulsion they must feel, with the reality of their service? (more…)

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-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the socialistic nature of state liquor boards even in conservative states. Radley Balko takes exception to the “salvo” at conservatives and links to two states, Virginia and Pennsylvania, wherein he claims Republicans are trying to privatize their state’s liquor business, while Democrats oppose their efforts.

Alcohol distribution uses a three-tier system: producers, distributors, and retailers. Eighteen states exert varying degrees of control over the three tiers, and, in some states, the control depends on the alcohol content of the beverage.

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By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Va. Tech’s HITS. See video below from Discovery Science

The NFL is facing a daunting number of lawsuits contending it knew of the dangers of traumatic brain injury resulting from concussions but hid that information from its players. Those suits have been consolidated and a local Richmond, VA resident is the lead plaintiff. The widow of former Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling, Mary Ann, has continued a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the NFL following her husband’s suicide in April. The former all-pro free safety suffered from depression and insomnia following his playing days on the famous “Grits Blitz” defense during the 1970s.  Nineteen Hall of fame players have joined the roughly 2400 other plaintiffs in the suits. Among them are legendary tough-guys Eric Dickerson,Tony Dorsett (and his son, Anthony), Rickey Jackson, John Hannah, Bill Bergey,  Bob Lilly, John Randle, the late Lee Roy Selmon and Randy White.

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Find The Kitteh Contest

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Click to enlarge.

Maximum bonus points available.

Solution below the fold.

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Help Me Rhonda

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger


Grab your headphones/earbuds, we present The Beach Boys in glorious STEREO!

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The Washington Post has posted my column for Sunday on expanding the Supreme Court. Due to space limitations, the original piece had to be cut back significantly, so below is the longer column. I will post the actual column on Sunday.

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Exactly how stupid is this? Gay rights leaders and supporters are invited to the White House for a party and some take the time to flip off Ronald Reagan’s portrait, take a picture of the act, and then release the picture to third parties. It is now the rage on the Internet  from Drudge to Yahoo to dozens of conservative sites — giving opponents of both Obama and gay rights the perfect photo foil to use against them. It is a disgraceful and contemptible display that is being used to paint an entire movement in the worst possible light. (UPDATE: The White House has rebuked the activists for their actions.)

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We have now reached the 2000 mark in our dead military personnel in Afghanistan. I have spoken to journalists who are friends and recently returned from Afghanistan. They describe a situation getting progressively worse in the country and military contacts privately stating that they have given up any notion of “winning” the war. Yet, the Obama Administration continues to pour billions into the country and we continue to lose Americans in this senseless civil war as well as Iraq (that passes this mark seven years ago).

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Gainesville couple Luis Enrique Quinones, 29, and Myres Luanny Thomas, 29, are under arrest today for the death of their pet parrot. Police say that Quinones slammed the bird on the floor during an argument with Thomas.

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We previously discussed the decision of prosecutors to grant ultra-Orthodox Jewish defendants anonymity — denied to other defendants — in facing sex-crime charges. It is, in my view, a highly problematic form of favoritism shown to a powerful community in Brooklyn. Moreover, as discussed earlier, it is highly unlikely in this tight-knit community that the identification of both the accused and victims would not be known. Now, four Hasidic men have been arrested for alleged harassment and obstruction of witnesses, including the offer of a $500,000 bribe to refuse to testify against a Hasidic leader. The prominent accused man in the Satmar Hasidic community, Nechemya Weberman, has been accused of 88 counts of sexual misconduct, including oral sex with a child younger than 13 years old. In addition to the money, the men are accused of threatening to withdraw the kosher certification from the restaurant of the boyfriend, Hershy Deutsch, unless the woman dropped her claims.
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Canine Car Salesman

Would you buy a car from this canine?

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As a parent, this video of middle school students taunting a grandmother Karen Klein, 68, on a school bus is nothing short of revolting. The grandmother was on the bus as a monitor and is reduced to tears by the cruel comments and threats of the children. The bus belongs to the Greece Central School District in New York.

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Norwegian prosecutors today did something that U.S. prosecutors appear incapable of doing in high-visibility case — admit that a defendant is legally insane. Prosecutors in the case of confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik’s trial told the court that he should be committed to compulsory psychiatric care instead of prison. They stated that their were too many doubts about his sanity when the 33-year-old Norwegian killed 77 people in a bomb and gun rampage on July 22.

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