Saturday, December 14, 2002

Lott's Dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the one he used to know. *sigh* I predict this alone will cost the GOP at least one percentage point in the presidential election in 2004, and it will continue to have a ripple effect for years to come.

"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. . ." - Clarence, It's a Wonderful Life.

Friday, December 13, 2002

(We don't need no) Colour Code. Today, at the end of 2003, I wonder as I wander why we are dwelling on the 1948 Democratic Party Platform and a 50-year old statute that has successfully prevented cross-burning. Yes, I wander -- I meander. For that, I hope you forgive me, but allow me to wander...
Not Here

First, Trent Lott should show that he has some honor and step down as the leader of the Senate. What he did was not to endorse a person but to endorse a way of life that some, including that person, were seeking to hold on to. Moreover it was a vile, evil system.

Just last month I was in a building that was the main train depot for Raleigh, NC -- as many renovated buildings do, it had the blueprints for the building on the wall as kind of a nostalgic decoration. But if you looked at it closely, you saw a white waiting room and a colored waiting room, half it's size. Moreover when you looked at those rooms -- when you stood in them and felt the environment and looked at the original walls and ceilings, it was evident that the colored room was designed to be minimally functional -- worse than a jail. There is a BBQ in Alexandria, VA I took my daughter too. It has a sit-down restaurant and, behind the kitchen, there is a take out window. It's an old place -- this was originally designed as a whites restaurant and a blacks take-out. My father tells me when he played football in college, his nationally ranked team had to forfeit a game because they had a black player on the team and the Texas school wouldn't let them in the town if they brought that player. (This was four years after that 1948 election.) I could go on an on with innumerable examples -- these are three simple ones that come to mind.

To borrow from Abraham Lincoln, who said in his second inaugural address:
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
I want nothing more for this affliction visited on our country by our pragmatic forefathers to end. But it can not end until we get beyond foolish statements (and wishes) like that by Trent Lott.

A subpoint on this subject -- yesterday afternoon, I'd finished my audiobook -- stuck in traffic, I turned on Sean Hannity, in part because of what Mark Byron wrote yesterday. I found the show nauseating and quickly switched. Basically, the thrust I was hearing was a whiny "it's time to move on." And this was no self-parody, nor was it done with any irony. It sounded just like I was back in the late 90's listening to the Clinton defenders. Those folks were sick then and they're sick now in their current incarnation as Lott defenders. (BTW, I don't mean to lump Dr. Byron in the latter. And Mark, with all due respect, I think the people of America can distinguish between a gaffe and a statement of support for intollerant way of life.)

Sorry, I really didn't intend to do anything on Lott -- it's actually the second subject of this meander that I'm more interested in.

Second, this week the Supremes heard oral arguments in Virginia v. Black, Docket No. 01-1107, the attack on the Virginia cross-burning statute. MoDowd wannabe, Dahlia Lithwick, came in first with a summary of the orals (although she flubbed the number of justices on the Virginia Supreme Court, a mistake since corrected), noting that the contemplative Justice Clarence Thomas focused the issue:
Out of nowhere booms the great, surprising "Luke-I-am-your-father" voice of He Who Never Speaks. Justice Clarence Thomas suddenly asks a question and everyone's head pops up and starts looking madly around, like the Muppets on Veterinarian Hospital. "Aren't you understating the effects ... of 100 years of lynching?" he booms. "This was a reign of terror, and the cross was a sign of that. ... It is unlike any symbol in our society. It was intended to cause fear, terrorize."
And this is precisely why the statute should stand, as well as the convictions. Or, as Justice Antonin Scalia observed (via Lithwick): "Scalia demands to know why brandishing a burning cross is protected speech while "brandishing a weapon and saying 'you're next,' " isn't.

I confess, I'm not fond of hate speech laws and speech codes and so on (in fact, I loathe them), but there is a distinction between protected speech and a threat, and I believe the Virginia statute correctly draws the line. For a more complete defense of the statute, I would recommend Virginia Justice Leroy Roundtree Hassell, Sr. dissent, which may be found here. Justice Hassell wrote, in part,
Initially, I observe that Code § 18.2-423, by its express terms, does not proscribe every act of burning a cross. Rather, Code § 18.2-423 only proscribes the act of burning a cross when such act is performed "with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons" and the act is
committed "on the property of another, a highway or other public place." In the context of our criminal statutes, specifically Code § 18.2-61, we have defined intimidation as acts which put the victim "in fear of bodily harm. Such fear must arise from the willful conduct of the accused, rather than from some mere temperamental timidity of the victim; however, the fear of the victim need not be so great as to result in terror, panic, or hysteria." [cite omitted]
In brief, like Scalia noted, it's like brandishing a pistol and saying you're next. [See also, the opinion of the Virginia Court of Appeals affirming the sentence.]

[On a side note, Justice Hassel, who is black, has been elected to serve as the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by his peers on the Court, his term starting in February 2003. Those of you familiar with Regent University might be interested in this press release. This is one of those ways that the South is changing that I am so proud of -- to hell with the idea that the Dixiecrat platform was the right way to go.]

BTW, in a brief in support of the defendants in this case, brought by the Council of Conservative Citizens, to whom Trent Lott gave a keynote address in 1992, we learn that
"the burning cross, the traditional symbol of the Ku Klux Klan, [i]s an expression of unyielding opposition" by "Euro-American militants" "to what they plausibly believe to be a minority-liberal agenda that threatens to diminish and to eventually eliminate traditional Euro-American influence in this country."

Last, credit for the title on this post goes to Steve Taylor and his song about BJU.

Update. See this note for a good explanation as to why the Sup.Ct. will uphold the Virginia statute -- I hope Kyle is right.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Football III The Cumulative Average NFL Power Rankings. But first, we have a consensus -- the Bengals are the unanimous number 32 ranked team. Congratulations.
No. Team Avg. Hi Lo
1 Raiders 1.88 1 3
2 Eagles 2.13 1 4
3 Bucs 2.13 1 4
4 Packers 5.38 4 8
5 Falcons 6.25 3 9
6 Saints 6.5 3 11
7 Dolphins 7.25 4 13
8 49ers 7.38 4 14
9 Patriots 9.63 6 15
10 Chargers 11.5 7 18
11 Jets 11.75 5 15
12 Titans 12 10 17
13 Colts 12.13 10 15
14 Chiefs 13.38 9 17
15 Broncos 13.63 8 18
16 Steelers 14 10 17
17 Giants 17.5 15 20
18 Browns 17.88 15 21
19 Bills 18 16 19
20 Ravens 20.25 19 23
21 Rams 22.5 19 27
22 Cowboys 22.75 21 26
23 Jaguars 23.13 21 25
24 Redskins 23.5 22 26
25 Seahawks___ 25.63____ 24__ 26__
26 Vikings 26 19 30
27 Panthers 26.25 23 27
28 Texans 27.63 25 31
29 Cardinals 28.13 26 31
30 Bears 29 28 30
31 Lions 30.63 29 31
32 Bengals 32 32 32

Sources: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, War Room, CBS, Sagarin (USA Today), Sports Central,
and the AP.
Football II -- Yay! I'm the Blogger Bowl 2K3 regular season champion -- but as countless teams of yore are well aware, regular season doesn't mean anything once the playoffs start. My team's first game is against Mark Byron's Florida Blogistas. Mark and I have had a couple of close games this year and I figure this one will be equally close. The Blogistas lost probably the most key player of the year, Donovan McNabb, earlier and Randy Moss hasn't performed up to expectations (but he's still ahead of most). On my roster I've been carrying Shaun Alexander who has been similarly disappointing. I'm most pleased with my waiver pick-up of Chad Johnson (Cin.) a few weeks ago. My workhorse, of course, has been LaDainian Tomlinson.

In setting the roster this week, I've had to decide between Jerry Porter, who's been somewhat off the past couple of weeks, and Rod Smith, who seems to have become the number two receiver for the Broncos. Similarly, I don't expect Charlie Garner to have a big day against Miami, but can't see James Stewart having one against TB. I agree with Mark's starting picks except, perhaps kicker Steve Christie going against Buffalo -- I figure he should have at least 4 PAs and maybe one FG. I think Morton Anderson (against Denver) should have 2-4 FGs and 2-4 PAs. But these things are always so iffy -- both Mark and I left big points on the bench last week (QBs Brad Johnson and Jeff Garcia). It's for fun.

Update. Another reason why it's wise for Mark to start Brad Johnson -- something I didn't know: "15: Touchdowns thrown in the last six weeks by Brad Johnson, three more than any other quarterback." Kind of surprising, eh?
Football I. Like Earl Warren, I'll ease back into things by starting with the Sports page and save the front page. First up, I see the NFL has given the Vikings a big "Tuck You" (sorry, couldn't resist) regarding the officiating by Walt "Snow Job" Coleman: nine mistakes, eight being in the fourth quarter. Still a loss for the Vikes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Excuse the Interruption. All of us -- the entire family of six -- was hit by an especially bad bug starting late Friday night. My wife and I were scrubbing carpets, floors, walls and doing boatloads of laundry, that is until Mrs. Idiot got it on Monday. (I kept up laundry duty -- by Monday we'd pretty much trained the kids to use a bucket -- sorry for the gross details). I was the last to get it -- and seem to be getting over it. I'm on-line so I can check my work e-mail and let you know I'll be back soon.

I'll try to post the football rankings tonight.