October 2006

As the kids lie in the post-Halloween tatters of empty candy wrappers, it’s also time to remind us that today is Reformation Day. In honor of this, here are Martin Luther’s own words describing his conversion experience:

I greatly longed to understand Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, “the justice of God,” because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that “the just shall live by his faith.” Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the “justice of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.

If you have a true faith that Christ is your Savior, then as once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God’s heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon His fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see Him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud had been drawn across His face.

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“Mexcian National” Oscar Hernandez-Hernandez was arrested in Duluth, GA on burglary, battery, stalking and criminal attempt to commit rape.

You can read the AJC report (Lost wallet leads to arrest). Police tracked down Hernandez after he left his wallet at the scene of the crime. But this is not some story about dumb criminals. This is a terrible story about how a woman was forced to fight off an attack in her own home.

Hopefully he will be returning home after a long prison sentance.

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The hot topic on talk radio today is John Kerry’s comments from this weekend. Mary Katherine Ham and Michelle Malkin also lead the blogosphere coverage.

In case you somehow didn’t hear it:

Said Kerry: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

Sure sounds like a condemnation of soldiers serving in Iraq. Of course, as Michelle points out, the only coverage by the MSM is over the White House reaction, not to the comments themselves. So we were left to wonder exactly what he meant.

My first reaction when hearing the audio was that it sounded like he was trying to slip in yet another “Bush is stupid” remark… but somehow it came out awkwardly. As southern expression goes, “his tongue got wrapped around his eye tooth and he couldn’t see what he was saying!” (But meanwhile the audience cheered him – I wonder which meaning (anti-military or anti-Bush) they thought they were cheering!!!).

Of course, either way he intended it, the remark doesn’t make a lick of sense. We’ve talked before how Bush is so stupid but at the same time he’s the evil genius who has manipulated all of the smart people in the Intelligence Services, Congress, and foreign governments as well. But I digress.

Later Kerry did manage to spin that he meant it to be a remark aimed at Bush. Washington Post gives the Kerry reaction. Of course, it’s not “I’m sorry”. Not even “I mis-spoke.” But rather… “It’s all Bush’s fault.”

He said he had been criticizing Bush, not the “heroes serving in Iraq,” and said the president and his administration are the ones who owe U.S. troops an apology because they “misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it.”
“This is the classic GOP playbook,” Kerry said in a harshly worded statement. “I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did. I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium.”

So Tony Snow is a “chickenhawk” and Bush should somehow apologize to someone for something. I guess that’s what Kerry means when he takes the fight to the enemy.

Coincidentally, earlier in the weekend Kerry was out baiting reaction with chickenhawk accusations on behalf of Pat Murphy’s campaign in Pennsylvania (per the Boston Globe):

“Attacking Patrick Murphy for his service is a little bit like Jessica Simpson attacking Albert Einstein’s IQ,” the Massachusetts Democrat proclaimed Thursday at a chilly outdoor rally at Bucks County Community College.
“A lot of these people in the GOP, the Republican Party — they think somehow that they served because they played with GI dolls when they were little,” Kerry said. “The guys who really served understand what it means, and we’ve had enough of these lies.”

Nice. Sounds more like Dean than someone who might have been President.

Anyway, I guess it’s Kerry who’s the smartest of all… he screws up his insult of the President and turns it into an insult of the troops, and that’s George Bush’s fault. Pretty “smart”.

UPDATE: Texas Rainmaker notes that the Boston Globe actually calls Kerry out on this one. Amazing! From their editorial: “The real shame is that while John Kerry stumps around the country, building up chits for his own possible presidential campaign rerun, he still has that D-Mass. after his name. And that’s an embarrassment to the good people of this state who sent him to the U.S. Senate.” Amen.

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Funny how sometimes you lift something up, only to see it immediately brought down. Earlier today I mentioned a welcome change in the Cobb County government, as they decided to participate more closely with federal officials when identifying criminals who have been arrested within the county.

At the same time, the AJC reports today that Roswell, GA police chief Edwin Williams daily faxes a list of inmates suspected of being illegal immigrants (or where citizenship status is unclear). He claims to have sent some 1,396 names in the first nine months of 2006 alone, and estimates having sent around 10,000 names over the years. Of those reported this year, only three have been picked up by the Immigration & Customs Enforcement officials.

Year Arrests Reported to INS/ICE Picked up by INS/ICE
2000 3,343 749 NA
2001 4,018 831 NA
2002 4,899 1,055 NA
2003 4,319 979 NA
2004 4,407 1,232 2
2005 4,838 1,209 7
2006* 4,151 1,396 3

*Through September

I give Williams credit on his persistence in his Quixotic quest to try to get someone to take notice of the illegal immigrants passing through his jail.

Overwhelmed immigration agents say they only have time to deport the worst of the worst – terrorists, murderers and violent gang members. “It’s a simple question of priorities,” said ICE’s [Kenneth] Smith. “If we’re using resources to respond to somebody charged with a misdemeanor in Roswell, who are we missing?”

No wonder some say that the deportation of illegal immigrants is impossible… because we do not have the will to do what that would take. Including for those who commit crimes while they are here. I can’t imagine what the three did when they actually did trigger the ICE?!?

And maybe they are only misdemeanors and only one city in Fulton County, GA, but a full third of arrests involve suspected illegals immigrants. That’s astounding to me.
And it should be a wake-up call to everyone.

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The Associated Press is reporting that Cobb County (Georgia) Commission has approved a request by the sheriff to work more closely with federal officials to deport jailed illegal immigrants.

“Our focus will continue to be on identifying, prosecuting and deporting illegal aliens who are in our country illegally and committing crimes,” [Cobb County Sheriff Neil] Warren said.

What a great (and obvious) step towards enforcing the immigration laws already on the books. You commit a crime in this country and are found to be here illegally – then start to work with the federal immigration authorities. (Of course this assumes that they also have the will to actually send people home, but that’s another story). The most amazing part? That since 1996, only seven other agencies around the country have joined the program. Seven!

As Mike King notes:

A Government Accountability Office study in 2005 found that illegal immigrants jailed in this country, on average, are arrested eight times before being deported. And as homicides and other serious crimes rise in metro Atlanta counties — fueled, at least in part by immigrant-on-immigrant crime and gang violence — perceptions change. Residents of affected neighborhoods are demanding that something be done.

Of course, reporting this story could not go by without hearing from the counter argument:

Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said the county’s recent actions “send a chilling message” to Hispanics in the county.

Let’s hope it does… to those here in the US illegally.

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Today President Bush gave a speech about Iraq. You can read the transcript here. This seems like a good (if overdue) idea, given the current election campaigning which seeks to cast the congressional election as a referendum on Iraq.

Is it just me, or do all of these headlines of news stories covering the same speech sound fairly negative? (I’m not saying that they are mischaracterizing the speech, but rather that they capture snippets here and there from the message, but not really conveying the meaning. Is it a conscious attempt to “Dowdify” something more?)

In contrast, here’s at least one headline that seems to capture more completely the message from Bush’s speech: Bush Says Iraq Goal the Same Even as Tactics Change (Bloomberg). But that’s the one I could pick out from Google News.

Is Bush ‘not satisfied’? Yes, but there’s much more that was said:

I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I’m not satisfied, either. And that is why we’re taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat. But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war. We must not look at every success of the enemy as a mistake on our part, cause for an investigation, or a reason to call for our troops to come home. We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems.

If I did not think our mission in Iraq was vital to America’s security, I’d bring our troops home tomorrow. I met too many wives and husbands who have lost their partners in life, too many children who won’t ever see their mom and dad again. I owe it to them and to the families who still have loved ones in harm’s way to ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain.

Our country has faced adversity before during times of war. In past wars, we’ve lost young Americans who gave everything to protect our freedom and way of life. In this war, we’ve lost good men and women who’ve given their lives for a cause that is necessary and it is just. We mourn every loss, and we must gird ourselves for the sacrifices that are yet to come. America’s men and women in uniform are the finest in the world. I’m awed by their strength and their character. As General Casey reported yesterday in Iraq, “the men and women of the Armed Forces… have never lost a battle in over three years in the war.” Every American can take pride in our troops, and the vital work they are doing to protect us.

Our troops are fighting a war that will set the course for this new century. The outcome will determine the destiny of millions across the world. Defeating the terrorists and extremists is the challenge of our time and the calling of this generation. I’m confident this generation will answer that call and defeat an ideology that is bent on destroying America and all that we stand for.

Is patience limited? Yes… But that’s not all that was said in response to a question about having the US set benchmarks to judge the success of the Iraqi government:

It will also be beneficial for the American people to be able to see that this Iraqi government is going to make the difficult decisions necessary to move forward, to achieve the goal. And that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to benchmarks. It’s — again, I repeat: One should not expect our government to impose these benchmarks on a sovereign government. You’d expect us to work closely with that government to come up with a way forward that the government feels comfortable with. And there’s probably going to be some bones of contention during these discussions, but, nevertheless, we’ll respect the fact that the Iraq government is sovereign, and they must respect the fact that we’ve got patience, but not unlimited patience.

That doesn’t sound to me that he was ‘warning’ anyone that we have lost patience, but rather that we are in this together. The US can not dictate, but also needs to see progress.

I am surprised that there were no headlines saying “Bush says military ineffective” when characterizing the following section:

A military solution alone will not stop violence. In the end, the Iraqi people and their government will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve these problems. So, in addition to refining our military tactics to defeat the enemy, we’re also working to help the Iraqi government achieve a political solution that brings together Shia and Sunnis and Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups.

Yesterday, our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad laid out a three-step approach. First, we’re working with political and religious leaders across Iraq, urging them to take steps to restrain their followers and stop sectarian violence.

Second, we’re helping Iraqi leaders to complete work on a national compact to resolve the most difficult issues dividing their country. The new Iraqi government has condemned violence from all quarters and agreed to a schedule for resolving issues, such as disarming illegal militias and death squads, sharing oil revenues, amending the Iraqi constitution, and reforming the de-Baathification process.

Third, we’re reaching out to Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan, and asking them to support the Iraqi government’s efforts to persuade Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and accept national reconciliation. The international community is also supporting the international compact that outlines the support that will be provided to Iraq as it moves forward with its own program of reform.

These are difficult tasks for any government. It is important for Americans to recognize that Prime Minister Maliki’s unity government has been in office for just over five months. Think about that. This young government has to solve a host of problems created by decades of tyrannical rule. And they have to do it in the midst of raging conflict, against extremists from outside and inside the country who are doing everything they can to stop this government from succeeding.

But for those is misunderstand (or misrepresent) that the phrase “Stay the Course” should mean that we should just keep doing the things the same way:

As the enemy shifts tactics, we are shifting our tactics, as well. Americans have no intention of taking sides in a sectarian struggle or standing in the crossfire between rival factions. Our mission is to help the elected government in Iraq defeat common enemies, to bring peace and stability to Iraq, and make our nation more secure. Our goals are unchanging. We are flexible in our methods to achieving those goals.

This is an unprecedented activity taking place in Iraq right now. It’s amazing to see just how far it has come in such a relatively short time. Of course everything is not perfect. Is there more violence this month? Of course… especially timed to coincide with the latest election in the US. But, more than ever, this is a nation’s transformation that can help to serve as a blueprint in a region far too used to tyrannical control.

I hope that more people will read the speech, and not just the headlines. (Sadly, I know most won’t).

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I don’t like spam emails. The over the years it started off small. One here. One there. Who is this person? Then more and more. Delete-delete-delete. Then came spam as the carrier medium for computer viruses and privacy intrusions. Now we have to add spam detection schemes to our email servers and clients. Today they are just a part of life in the internet age. Something you have to live with, but hope to control as best you can.

If one were to take a poll of computer users, would there be anyone who said that they really enjoy receiving unsolicited emails?

But there must be enough people who respond to the solicitations to buy the male enhancement formulas or refinance their mortgage or invest in these can’t-miss financial schemes in order to make it worthwhile for the senders of spam to continue to bother with the practice.

It seems to be a case of “no one” liking the practice… but it proves too effective of a tool to cease to be practiced. So mostly, I think that people learn to live with spam email and get on with their lives. If we’re really lucky (and our spam filter works particularly well), maybe we can even ignore them for the most part.

In the same way, each election it seems that we hear the campaigns described as having the most mudslinging, dirty tricks, mischaracterizations, and outright negative campaigning ever. Call it by whatever term you’d like, such as “Politics of Personal Destruction” or some other catchy name. And it seems that usually, just like this year, we hear analysts proclaim something like “Campaign ‘X’ has gotten very negative and I’m sure it has turned off a lot of people in the middle.”

I wonder if that’s really true? Now I’m sure, like the poll on spam, if you simply ask voters whether or not they like negative campaigning, they will respond emphatically that they do not! And they would certainly punish the scoundrel who dares to engage in it.

But when push comes to shove — does that really happen?

I’m sure that there are localized differences, but it sure seems that neither Republicans or Democrats can lay claim to any intellectual “high ground” on this topic – it comes from both sides. And clearly it must be effective.

We usually hear from one candidate that the other’s attacks are worse than theirs, and somehow this is “turning off” voters.

But have we crossed a similar threshold like we have with spam? Have we reached a point where most people may be annoyed, but have effectively ‘tuned out’ the negative ads for the most part? Do a significant number of people get “turned off” to the extent that it truly influences their vote?

I really wonder if it does…

That doesn’t mean that I advocate or enjoy the application of negative campaigning. But maybe that’s ‘just the way it is’. Just like spam.

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Just last week, the ACLU was upset about Bush signing the Military Commissions Act, which the ACLU called “the new law one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history.” That’s pretty tough stuff. A serious charge.

It also led to this breathless condemnation of Bush from Anthony Romero, their Executive Director:

With his signature, President Bush enacts a law that is both unconstitutional and un-American. This president will be remembered as the one who undercut the hallmark of habeas in the name of the war on terror. Nothing separates America more from our enemies than our commitment to fairness and the rule of law, but the bill signed today is an historic break because it turns Guantánamo Bay and other U.S. facilities into legal no-man’s-lands.

Or how about this gem, when discussing the SWIFT banking program:

The revelation of the CIA’s financial spying program is another example of the Bush administration’s abuse of power. The invasion of our personal financial information, without notification or judicial review, is contrary to the fundamental American value of privacy and must be stopped now. It seems the administration feels entitled to flip through all of our checkbooks. How many other secret spying programs has the Bush administration enacted without Congress, the courts or the public knowing? We need a full accounting of what information has been demanded by the U.S. government, how they have used it, with whom it was shared, and how they intend to repair this grave breach of trust. This program is a glaring example of how this government thinks nothing of widespread abuse of power.

Un-American activities. Invasion of privacy. Abuse of power. Other secret spying. Bush is really having his way flexing his control and power.

Or is he?

I meant to link this post earlier this weekend, but it’s not too late to read Public Figures… Beware’s excellent post: George W. Bush and Our Civil Liberties: A History Lesson. I won’t spoil it, other than to say it’s a great round-up of many actions which have occurred through the years during various conflicts.

As PFB summarizes:

While the existence of the Patriot Act or Military Commissions Act undoubtedly places restrictions upon some citizens that did not exist before their passage, neither of them (or any of the other pieces of legislation or actions taken by George Bush) even remotely rivals the legislative acts and actions of our past Presidents, Congresses, or Supreme Courts, even though we live in times of unprecedented vulnerability. I should note that we don’t even have a draft, despite the fact that liberals promised us one if George Bush was reelected in 2004.

Read it all. The ACLU should also read it before throwing around charges like “one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history”.

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It’s hard to believe that someone campaigning for the Senate would think for even a minute that pulling a stunt like driving their bus up to their opponents campaign appearance so that you can try to confront them. But that’s exactly what Harold Ford, Jr. did in Tennessee.

The most interesting pseudo-question: “So what do you think about this Iraq thing?” Very well put, for a Senate hopeful.

An excellent analysis over at Volunteer Voters site and Bill Hobbs.

Ali Bubba also has a good summary of the race.

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In what might shape up to become the most lengthy and expensive misdemeanor case in recent memory, Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner refused to consider motions from Bill McKinney and Nancy Walter that this case was selective prosecution and being tried in the wrong jurisdiction. The two are charged with being involved in a smear campaign against Kevin Kenerly during the primary season. It still remains to be seen if the “beatkevin.com” annonymous campaign will be tied in any way to the Jodie Rosser campaign for Gwinnett County Commission.

More from the AJC and Gwinnett Daily Post.

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