July 2006

Tonight is the first much-anticipated debate between incumbant (and nutjob) Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Democratic challenger Hank Johnson for Georgia’s Fourth District. She actually agreed to now show up to two debates, after skipping the debates that were held prior to the primary (per WSBTV). Apparently her calendar is now clear. I’m not sure how a debate will actually change anyones’ minds with regards to Rep. McKinney… but at least there will be an opportunity for something outrageous to be said. Looking forward to that!

Today, I heard various radio news reports saying that a Zogby poll showed Johnson with a lead at 47%, McKinney with 21%, and undecided at 32%. I don’t believe that for a minute. During the actual primary, McKinney bested Johnson 47%-44%, although neither could reach the 50% majority, hence the run-off. There may be a sudden influx of donations and attentions in Johnson’s camp from Democrats who might finally see a chance to get rid of this embarrasment. But I can not believe that the people in the district have had a change of heart to that extent in the last two weeks. If Johnson starts to believe these polls, I’m afraid he might be in for a rude awakening.

Most interesting nugget of info I came across: today’s AJC indicates that 65% of contributions McKinney received actually come from outside the state of Georgia (let alone her district), vs. a mean of 27% for an incumbant congressman (Donors line up to support McKinney challenger). At least that alone shows that she’s not about her district… just her “causes”. They further quote:

As in the past, McKinney raised much of her money from out of state, with unions, Muslims — including A.S. Nakadar, founder of the Muslim Media Network and Faroque Khan, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island — and liberal activists making up a large part of her donor pool. Reports for the first half of 2006 listed about five times more money from out of state as from McKinney’s district or Atlanta. That does not include those who gave small amounts and were not separately listed by the campaign.

In Georgia, you do not register your affliation with a political party. When you enter the polling place on primary day, you can request a ballot from either party. It’s certain that some Republicans, believing that a Republican can not win the race anyway, decided to cross-over and vote for Johnson just to deprive Cynthia of a majority. But I still do not understand this. Let the Democrats pick the candidate who they want. If they really want “truth to power” Cynthia… then so be it. I understand donating money to Johnson’s campain even less.

Dick Yarbrough had a great synopsis of the McKinney/Johnson democratic race in his column (Losing column fodder the real election tragedy ):

In Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, Ambassador to Outer Space Cynthia McKinney is in a runoff with an earthling named Hank Johnson, a former DeKalb County commissioner. Stumping the district for the ambassador is media publicity hound Cindy Sheehan, as well as Darth Vader and E.T., the Extra Terrestrial — none of whom are qualified to vote in the district. Needless to say, I have a great interest in the outcome of this race. The ambassador is worth a minimum of four columns a year — six, if she slaps a police officer.

Cindy Sheehan came to McKinney’s “Victory Party” on primary election night… but there was no victory. No word yet if she’ll be waiting for the runoff results to come in on August 8th.

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I’m not a lawyer. I am neither a psychologist, a psychiatrist, nor a mental health professional.

If I were one of these people with their training, then I’m sure I would understand why it doesn’t make sense to have a verdict of “Guilty, but Insane” or “Guilty, but Mentally Ill”… but “Innocent by Reason of Insanity” does make sense.

The Andra Yates verdict makes no sense to me. And by “sense”, I am referring to “common sense”. Maybe it’s fine in the legal sense… but doesn’t pass a sniff test.

I understand that the reasoning is that the accused is not guilty because they are unable to comprehend that the action they have taken is wrong. You are only guilty of a crime if you intended to commit the crime. Because you can not comprehend it… you couldn’t have intended it. Therefore, you are absolved. (I guess the “insanity” is guilty, but the person is not).

I’m sure that this makes perfect sense to a philosophy student.

In the Andrea Yates case, we are talking about five dead innocent children. They did not die because of a tragic accident. There was no mistake. It’s not my place to render an expert judgement about whether she met the criteria for insanity. (But I will add… if she did have the presence of mind to immediately call 911 after commiting the crimes, she knew at least on some level that what she had done was wrong. But I digress). Let’s just say for the sake of argument that she was not only mentally ill, but that her actions were also clouded by insanity, whatever the non common-sense definition.

The children had their lives, in fact, cut short. And there is someone who was responsible: their mother. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Five children had to struggle against the cruelty of their mother, but eventually died that day.

Now, I have no problem if the good doctors and lawyers can determine that Andrea Yates was so delugional that she didn’t know what she was doing. If she needs to be placed in a high-security mental hospital rather than a prison, then that sounds fine to me. Who knows what she harm she might cause to herself or to others. But if the wise doctors were to ever pronounce her “sane” again, instead of releasing her back to the world… then send her to prison for the balance of her sentance. She still might spend all of the time in the hospital, but at least there would be some sense of punishment for the deaths. If she needs treatment, then by all means, provide the treatment. But don’t pretend that the actions didn’t take place.

That’s what I would mean by “guilty, but insane”. The children died. The insanity does not exist apart from the person. So don’t try to seperate it.

Those children never had a chance to make any such distinction.

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This has nothing to do with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the DNC or any other current hotspots.

I wonder how we are doing on Bush’s mandate to “Return to the Moon”? Is it completely forgotten yet?

To recap, in January 2004, with much fanfare, there were some pretty big announcements made President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program :

  • Today, President Bush announced a new vision for the Nation’s space exploration program. The President committed the United States to a long-term human and robotic program to explore the solar system, starting with a return to the Moon that will ultimately enable future exploration of Mars and other destinations.
  • The President’s vision affirms our Nation’s commitment to manned space exploration. It gives NASA a new focus and clear objectives. It will be affordable and sustainable while maintaining the highest levels of safety.
  • The benefits of space technology are far-reaching and affect the lives of every American. Space exploration has yielded advances in communications, weather forecasting, electronics, and countless other fields. For example, image processing technologies used in lifesaving CAT Scanners and MRIs trace their origins to technologies engineered for use in space.

So the goals outlined were:

  • Complete its work on the International Space Station by 2010
  • Retire the current space shuttle fleet by the end of the decade
  • Develop the new Crew Exploration Vehicle; Develop & test by 2008, conduct first mission no later than 2014
  • Series of robotic missions to the Moon beginning no later than 2008
  • Return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020
  • Develop extended missions to the moon as a stepping stone towards a mission to Mars.

NASA… how are we doing? Other than naming the rockets ‘Ares’… are we really on track?

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Via AccessNorthGeorgia.com:

State Supreme Court rules on gay marriage
by The Associated Press

ATLANTA – The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, reversing a ruling by a lower court judge.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the ban did not violate the state’s single-subject rule for ballot measures. Superior Court Judge Constance Russell of Fulton County had ruled that it did.

Seventy-six percent of Georgia voters approved the ban when it was on the ballot in 2004.

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Headline from today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution (print edition): “Coke Secrets Plot Foiled.”

They are reporting that an employee is accused of offering secrets to rival Pepsi, who turned it over to the FBI who then conducted a sting operation as they attempted to pass stolen intellectual property for cash.

Said Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco: “We only did what any responsible company would do. Competition can sometimes be fierce, but it also must be fair and legal.”

I guess no one at the NY Times has been reached for comment on the matter. I’m sure that they will soon be publishing the Coca Cola formulations on the front page under the public’s right to know. Besides, how secret is it anyway… “hundreds if not thousands” of people drink Coke products every day!

“One man’s breach of security is another man’s public relations…”

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Courtesy of the ACLU, your July 4th reflection:

On July 4, 1776, Americans chose freedom from a king who ‘refused his Assent to Laws.’ These days, our own government is choosing unprecedented abuses of power over individual liberty or the rule of law.

Nice… of course “rule of law” does not apply to actually enforcing immigration laws, but never mind that!

Instead, hear something from Ronald Reagan from over twenty years ago… but the words have never been more true Address to the Nation on the Observance of Independence Day, July 4, 1984):

My fellow Americans:

Happy Fourth of July! I’ve been thinking about the Fourth of July, 1976 — 8 years ago. Do you remember that great Bicentennial Day?

In New York, the tall ships came sailing up the Hudson, and in Boston, the rousing music of Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops had all of that city standing and cheering. In Baltimore, they had great parades, and in Philadelphia, they brought out the Liberty Bell and had a group of schoolchildren pat it with their hands so that it would make a sound without upsetting the crack in the bell.

A person who was there tells me that thousands of people surrounded the Liberty Bell, quietly and with respect. And then, a young fellow started to sing “God Bless America.” And it spread through the crowd. And people were left quite hushed with happiness when it was over.

It was a wonderful day, and ever since, the Fourth of July has been as special as it was back in older times when it ranked with Christmas as an important day, a time for families to come together and for neighborhoods to explode with bright lights.

America still has so much to celebrate on this day — unity and affection, prosperity and freedom. Today, on July 4, 1984, there will be fireworks to commemorate that moment when Francis Scott Key saw through the glare of the rockets that our flag was still there. Somewhere a chorus will sing the old songs of love and affection for our country. Somewhere a family will gather and salute the flag. Somewhere a veteran will be told, “Thanks for what you did.” And in a courthouse somewhere, some of the newest Americans, the most recent immigrants to our country, will take the oath of citizenship.

Maybe today, someone will put his hand on the shoulder of one of those new citizens and say, “Welcome,” and not just as a courtesy, but to say welcome to a great land, a place of unlimited possibilities. Welcome to the American family.

There are all kinds of people in that family, and they live in all kinds of conditions and circumstances. Perhaps you know an older person, a senior citizen who feels a little left out by all the younger people around him. Maybe you could take that person aside and ask, “What was the Fourth of July like in your earliest memories?” You might hear some pretty interesting stories. Perhaps there’s someone who’s lonely in your neighborhood, someone whose friends all left for the holidays, or a girl or boy who are pretty much on their own. Maybe today someone will invite one of them over to the barbecue.

Somewhere today I hope we will all pause for a brief moment and think of all we have to be thankful for and of the great future that lies before us.

The spirit of our nation is strong. The freedoms our forefathers won for us endure. We still stand for freedom throughout the world, which is why immigrants still come to us. No one emigrates to Cuba or jumps over the wall into East Berlin or seeks refuge in the Soviet Union. Those who look for freedom seek sanctuary here.

The United States is a leader in a world turning, day by day, toward freedom. In Central America and Africa and elsewhere, the tide of the future is a freedom tide. The impulse to create democratic government not only endures; it grows, and that, in spite of real resistance from those who believe in freedom not a bit.

Other countries see our entrepreneurial spirit and seek to emulate it. They see how a vigorous, free society allows man to move on and grow. They see how we’re trying to make life better for man through scientific inquiry. They see us pushing into space. Other systems are locked on to the land, prisoners of a gravity of their own devising. America is a rocket, pushing upward and outward into space, into human history.

We have 208 years of history behind us. But somehow, these days, we know the whole world is before us. And we can feel as Teddy Roosevelt did when he surveyed the world at the turn of the century. He said, “We Americans see across the dangers the great future that lies beyond, and we rejoice as a giant refreshed, as a strong man ready for the race. The great victories are yet to be won; the greatest deeds yet to be done. There are yet in store for our people and for the causes we uphold, grander triumphs than have ever yet been scored.”

Well, so it is, and it will be. Despite our differences and disagreements, this is a happy, decent, united country. The bells still ring for America. A philosopher said recently, “And for that, we must be truly grateful.”

Happy Fourth of July! May God bless you, and may He continue to bless the Nation He showered with His love for more than two centuries.

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1.     My country,' tis of thee, 
	sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing; 
	land where my fathers died, 
	land of the pilgrims' pride, 
	from every mountainside let freedom ring! 

2.     My native country, thee, 
	land of the noble free, thy name I love; 
	I love thy rocks and rills, 
	thy woods and templed hills; 
	my heart with rapture thrills, like that above. 

3.	Let music swell the breeze, 
	and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song; 
	let mortal tongues awake; 
	let all that breathe partake; 
	let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong. 

4.	Our fathers' God, to thee, 
	author of liberty, to thee we sing; 
	long may our land be bright 
	with freedom's holy light; 
	protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

Samuel F. Smith, 1808-1895 [Lyrics]

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