Saturday, December 01, 2007

In Defense of Religious Expression

The next time one of your conservative friends speaks poorly of the American Civil Liberties Union, have them look here (and here). The ACLU exists to defend the civil liberties of all Americans.

The ACLU vigorously defends the right of Americans to practice religion. But because the ACLU is often better known for its work preventing the government from promoting and funding selected religious activities, it is often wrongly assumed that the ACLU does not zealously defend the rights of religious believers, including Christians, to practice their religion. The cases below - including several where the ACLU even defended the rights of religious believers to condemn homosexuality or abortion - reveal just how mistaken such assumptions are.

Although the cases described below emphasize "the free exercise of religion," the guarantees of the Establishment Clause also protect the rights of religious believers (and non-believers) from having the government promote some religious beliefs over others.

Defending the Rights of Those Identifying Themselves as Christian

The ACLU of Florida (2007) argued in favor of the right of Christians to protest against a gay pride event held in the City of St. Petersburg. The City had proposed limiting opposition speech, including speech motivated by religious beliefs, to restricted "free speech zones." After receiving the ACLU's letter, the City revised its proposed ordinance.

The ACLU of Oregon (2007) defended the right of students at a private religious school not to be pressured to violate their Sabbath day by playing in a state basketball tournament. The Oregon School Activities Association scheduled state tournament games on Saturdays, the recognized Sabbath of students and faculty of the Portland Adventist Academy. The ACLU argued that the school's team, having successfully made it to the tournament, should not be required to violate their religious beliefs in order to participate.

The ACLU of West Virginia (2007) sued on behalf of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) university student who won a prestigious scholarship to West Virginia University. Although the state scholarship board provided leaves of absence for military, medical, and family reasons, it denied the ACLU's client a leave of absence to serve on a 2-year mission for his church. The ACLU filed a religious freedom claim in federal court.

The ACLU of Eastern Missouri (2007) represents Shirley L. Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose religious beliefs lead her to condemn homosexuality as a sin and insist that God is punishing the United States. The protests in which she has been involved have been confrontational and have involved funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. While the ACLU does not endorse her message, it does believe that she has both religious and free-speech rights to express her viewpoint criticizing homosexuality.

The ACLU of Wisconsin (2007) filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that individual pharmacists should be able to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their religious scruples, provided that patients can obtain prescriptions from willing providers in a safe and timely manner. 20070201_Pharm_Refusal_amicus_complete.pdf

The ACLU of New Jersey (2007) defended the right of an elementary school student who was prohibited from singing "Awesome God" in a voluntary, after-school talent show for which students selected their own material. The ACLU submitted a friend-of-the-Court brief. After a favorable settlement was reached for the student, the federal lawsuit was dismissed.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania (2007) prevailed in their case on behalf of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who had been detained and who claimed he had been tortured by the Egyptian government because he refused to convert to Islam. After permitting Sameh Khouzam to stay in the United States for nine years based on evidence that he would probably be tortured if he returned to Egypt, the U.S. government changed its position in 2007 and sought to deport Mr. Khouzam based on diplomatic assurances from the Egyptian government that Mr. Khouzam would not be tortured upon return. As a result of the ACLU's advocacy, a federal court granted Mr. Khouzam an indefinite stay of deportation to Egypt.

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) wrote a letter to the Dismas Charities Community Correction Center on behalf of a former resident who was not allowed to consume wine during communion services while staying at the Center. After the ACLU advised the Center of its obligations under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, the Center revised its policy to comply with federal law.

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) challenged a North Carolina Department of Corrections policy making all religious services in prison English-only, thereby denying access to many inmates. The North Carolina Division of Prisons agreed to review the policy and the need for religious services in languages other than English in the state correctional system.

The ACLU of Delaware (2007) prevailed in a lawsuit brought on behalf of Christians, pagans, and Wiccans, alleging that a department store violated a Delaware public accommodations law by canceling community courses after individuals complained about the religious beliefs that were being taught in the centers. (This case is also listed in Part II.)

The ACLU of North Carolina (2007) assisted with the naturalization of a Jehovah's Witness who had been told he could not obtain United States citizenship because of his conscientious refusal to swear an oath that he would be willing to bear arms on behalf of the country.

The ACLU of Rhode Island (2007) prevailed in its arguments on behalf of a Christian inmate, Wesley Spratt, who had been preaching in prison for over seven years before administrators told him to stop based on vague and unsubstantiated security concerns. After the ACLU prevailed in the First Circuit, the parties reached a settlement under which Mr. Spratt is free to preach again. Preacher_07-31-07_T76IHBQ.34294dd.html

The ACLU of the National Capital Area (2007) brought suit on behalf of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish firefighters and paramedics who wear beards as a matter of religious observance. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed with the ACLU that the District of Columbia's policy prohibiting these individuals from wearing beards violated their religious freedom rights. (This case is also listed in Part II.)

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) reached a favorable settlement after filing a federal suit against the Department of Corrections on behalf of an inmate who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). The inmate, Norman Sanders, was denied access to religious services and religious texts including The Book of Mormon.

The ACLU of Texas (2006) filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a Christian pastor and his faith-based rehabilitation facility in Sinton, Texas. The ACLU of Texas urged the court to reverse a decision that prohibited the pastor from operating his rehabilitation program near his church and also sharply limited the reach of the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) filed a lawsuit defending the right of a Christian who wished to exercise both religious and speech rights by protesting against homosexuality in front of a Wal-Mart store with a sign that read: "Christians: Wal-Mart Supports Gay Marriage and Gay Lifestyles. Don't Shop There."

The ACLU of Georgia (2006) filed a federal lawsuit to help obtain a zoning permit for a house of worship on behalf of the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church after the city of East Point denied the request.

The ACLU of Nevada (2006) defended the free exercise and free speech rights of evangelical Christians to preach on the sidewalks of Las Vegas. When the County government refused to change its unconstitutional policy, the ACLU filed suit in federal court.

The ACLU of Louisiana (2006) reached a favorable settlement on behalf of a student teacher at a public school who objected to classroom prayers led by her supervising teacher. After disagreeing with her supervisor's unconstitutional practice of telling children how to pray, the student teacher received a failing grade and was not permitted to graduate from the teaching program. Under the settlement obtained by the ACLU of Louisiana, the university removed the failing grade and allowed the student to reenroll and complete her graduation requirements. aclu_settlement_ThompsonvSLU_Oct0306.htm

The ACLU and its affiliates (1999-2006) have been instrumental supporters of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which gives religious organizations added protection in erecting religious buildings and enhances the religious freedom rights of prisoners and other institutionalized persons. The ACLU worked with a broad coalition of organizations to secure the law's passage in 2000. After the law was enacted, the ACLU (2005) defended its constitutionality in a friend-of-the-court brief before the United States Supreme Court and the ACLU of Virginia (2006) opposed a challenge to the law before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 20956res20041230039877/20956res20041230.html

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2005) defended the rights of two teenage girls who, for religious reasons, sought to wear anti-abortion t-shirts to school after school officials threatened to punish them.

The ACLU of New Mexico (2005) helped release a street preacher who had been incarcerated in Roosevelt County jail for 109 days. The case was brought to the ACLU by the preacher's wife and was supported by the American Family Association.

The ACLU of Michigan (2005) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Joseph Hanas, a Roman Catholic who was punished for not completing a drug rehabilitation program run by a Pentecostal group whose religious beliefs he did not share. Part of the program required reading the Bible for seven hours a day, proclaiming one's salvation at the altar, and being tested on Pentecostal principles. The staff confiscated Mr. Hanas's rosary beads and told him Catholicism was witchcraft.

The ACLU of Southern California (2005) defended an evangelical scholar who monitored the fundraising practices of several ministries and their leaders after a defamation suit was brought against him in order to silence him.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004-2005) won two cases on behalf of predominantly African-American churches that were denied permits to worship in churches previously occupied by white congregations. In 2005, the ACLU of Pennsylvania settled a case against Turtle Creek Borough brought on behalf of Ekklesia church. After the ACLU of Pennsylvania's advocacy, the Borough of West Mifflin granted Second Baptist Church of Homestead an occupancy permit in 2002 and, in 2004, agreed to pay it damages and compensate it for its losses.

The ACLU of New Jersey (2004) appeared as amicus curiae to argue that a prosecutor violated the New Jersey Constitution by striking individuals from a jury pool after deciding that they were "demonstrative about their religion." One potential juror was a missionary; the other was wearing Muslim religious garb, including a skull cap. The ACLU-NJ also argued that permitting strikes based on jurors' display of their religion would often amount to discrimination against identifiable religious minorities.

The ACLU of Nebraska (2004) defended the Church of the Awesome God, a Presbyterian church, from forced eviction under the city of Lincoln's zoning laws. The ACLU of Nebraska also challenged city ordinances requiring religious organizations to meet safety standards not imposed on non-religious groups.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania (2004) prevailed in its arguments that the government had to allow Amish drivers to use highly reflective gray tape on their buggies instead of orange triangles, to which the drivers objected for religious reasons.

The ACLU of Virginia (2004) threatened to file suit against the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority after the Park Authority enacted an unconstitutional policy prohibiting religious activity in the park and the Park Manager stopped a Cornerstone Baptist Church minister from conducting baptisms in the park. Under pressure from the ACLU, the Park Authority revoked the prohibition and allowed baptisms in the park.

The ACLU of Washington (2004) reached a favorable settlement on behalf of Donald Ausderau, a Christian minister, who wanted to preach to the public and distribute leaflets on the sidewalks around a downtown bus station in Spokane, WA.

With the help of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter (2004), an Episcopal social services group was able to keep its program of feeding the homeless running. The County Health Department reversed its decision that meals served to homeless people in a church must be cooked on the premises, as opposed to in individual homes. Had the decision not been reversed, the ministry would have been forced to cease the program.

The ACLU of Virginia (2004) told the city of Richmond that it would file suit unless Richmond officials reconsidered their decision to close a Sunday meal program for the homeless at a local church because of zoning violations. "[T]he right of a church to perform a core function of its religious mission," the ACLU wrote, "is protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993." w091196b.html

The ACLU of Nevada (2004) represented a Mormon high school student, Kim Jacobs, whom school authorities suspended and then attempted to expel for wearing T-shirts with religious messages. Jacobs won a preliminary victory in court when a judge ruled that the school could not expel her for not complying with the dress code.

The ACLU of Michigan (2004) represented Abby Moler, a student at Sterling Stevenson High School, whose yearbook entry, a Bible verse, was deleted because of its religious content. A settlement was reached under which the school placed a sticker with Moler's original entry in the yearbooks and agreed not to censor students' yearbook entries based on their religious or political viewpoints in the future.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union (2004) filed suit on behalf of the Old Paths Baptist Church against the City of Scottsburg after the city repeatedly threatened to cite or arrest members who held demonstrations regarding various subjects dealing with their religious beliefs.

The ACLU of Massachusetts (2003) intervened on behalf of a group of students at Westfield High School who were suspended for distributing candy canes and a religious message in school.

The ACLU succeeded in having the suspensions revoked and filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit brought on behalf of the students against the school district.

The ACLU of Rhode Island (2003) interceded on behalf of an interdenominational group of carolers who were told they could not sing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve to inmates at the women's prison in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The ACLU of Virginia (2002) and the late Rev. Jerry Falwell prevailed in a lawsuit arguing that a Virginia constitutional provision banning religious organizations from incorporating was unconstitutional.

The ACLU of Ohio (2002) filed a brief in support of preacher who wanted to protest abortion at a parade, but was prohibited from doing so in an Akron suburb.

The Iowa Civil Liberties Union (2002) filed a friend-of-the court brief supporting a group of Christian students who filed a lawsuit against Davenport Schools asserting their right to distribute religious literature during non-instructional time.

The ACLU of Nebraska (2002) filed a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit challenging the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission's definition of a church as excluding religious organizations that do not own property. ACLU lawyer Amy Miller said the "definition of a church established by the Liquor Control Commission violated the rights of members of the House of Faith to the free exercise of their religion."

Friday, November 30, 2007


Save Us from Fools

I've been trying to stay away.

Other than the minor fact that abortion is still a legal medical procedure in this state when performed by a licensed physician and with the concurrence of the woman , is there anything about this post by Jessica McBride that even resembles logical thought ... oh hell, how about adult thought?

An Appleton man is correctly charged with "first-degree murder of an unborn child."

So why aren't women who abort their unborn children charged with the same offense?

The only difference is who's taking the life. But the life is the same no matter who's taking it. If it wasn't a life, he wouldn't have been charged. So, logically, if it's a life, as the system has thus conceded, why do some people have the right to take it? Can you think of any other crime where the victim is the same, and there is the intentional taking of life, but there's different legal consequence for different perpetrators? The only analogy I can think of is for mentally ill defendants or juveniles - same victim, different punishment.
Another example of the “brilliance” and “genius” of the right side of the cheddarsphere, I guess.

Laugh of the Day – Sexual Enticement “Tangential” Issue

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette and h/t to Uppity Wisconsin

MADISON — The Republican Party of Brown County will be reorganized after recent vacancies in key offices created a constitutional technicality, the chairman of the state party said today.

Reince Priebus, state chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, said the Brown County group has been decertified by the state, but not because of the recent legal troubles of its former chairman, Donald Fleischman of Allouez. Fleischman resigned in September after charges of child enticement were brought against him in Brown County Circuit Court; they have since been dropped.

Priebus called the reorganization “tangential” to Fleischman’s predicament.Fleischman’s resignation created two vacancies in the party’s officer corps. Holly Arnold, the first vice-chair, did not want the top spot, and the second vice-chair position already was vacant, Priebus said.That meant the party didn’t have enough officers to call a caucus to elect new officers, Priebus said. At Arnold’s request, the state GOP decertified the county party on Nov. 13.
As goofticket surmised, is it really any surprise that no one wanted “... to volunteer for a party that harbored a sex offender for 8 months? Answer questions about that, and why they did nothing about it? ...and then ask for money?”

As Freddy the Clown might say, "Oh, the hypocrisy."

Free Speech Still Lives

Amidst the fun of showing that Walid Shoebat is likely a charlatan cooked up by someone on the right to provide some sort of legitimacy to their war against humanity, I forgot to express my disdain for the actions by the UW-Milwaukee administration for attaching an extra fee of $2,500 for security purposes. There have been other speakers who provoked heated reactions. This action seemed punitive and preemptive.

I may not like the Conservative Union's politics, but free speech is guaranteed to all. If the Muslim students have a right to speak (no thanks to hypocrite Charlie Sykes) and Shoebat has a right to speak, then the conservative students have a right to unencumbered speech as well.

Now if only those on the right would understand that criticism of their speech does not equal attempts to censor.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Next Time ...

The next time you hear some clown named Fred say, "Yeah, but Congress' poll numbers are even lower," check this "brilliant" Tom Tomorrow cartoon out.

Milwaukee Police Officers Sentenced

Good. There's been enough said.

Illegal Aliens Invade Canada

Another Internet phenomenon sent to me by my Mother.

From the Manitoba Herald (a very underground paper):*

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.

The actions of President Bush are prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O'Reilly. Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.

"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. "The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. I didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay."

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers and blared Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.

"A lot of these people are not prepared for the ugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR races. In recent days, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs.

After catching a half-dozen young Vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the '50s. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies. "I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

*The Manitoba Herald was published daily from January 11, 1877 until August 2, 1877. Its intention was to defend the interests of Manitoba and to keep an eye on the behaviour of the province’s representatives.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shoebat A Charlatan

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we learn that Walid Shoebat, ostensibly a former terrorist (PLO member) and now a Christian fundamentalist anti-Islamic speaker, was asked to give a speech at UW-Milwaukee on December 4 by the Conservative Union, a student group that promotes conservative issues.

We also learned that Muslim Student Association President Mohamed Elsayed and Palestinian Student Organization President Lina Abdulkarim wrote a Nov. 20 e-mail to UWM administrators demanding that they cancel the Shoebat program. They apparently described his appearance as a "direct attack" on Muslim students. Of course Charlie Sykes and the right wing blogosphere jumped all over this and the fact that UWM has asked for additional funds to pay for added security, thereby imposing additional financial burden on the Conservative Union (ask Sensenbrenner for the money). As usual, one's outrage is another's reasonable request. And so it goes.

Whatever. In any case, I think this is a good lesson for our visiting Muslim friends. They made a request to have Shoebat's visit cancelled, it was rejected. They had a right to make the request as much as the Conservative Union had to invite Shoebat. Done deal. First Amendment wins. The Muslim students have said they will not venture out to cause trouble, instead they plan to hold a forum to discuss Shoebat's accusations. I'd bet much of the local "talent" on the right side of the blogosphere wouldn't be so understanding.

I'm always on the side of the marketplace of ideas. Shoebat should be allowed to speak. But I couldn't help but be a little curious. I knew very little about this man, so I spent a significant amount of time (more than I would normally considering I actually have a life) doing some Internet research. What I found was summed up nicely by this person, Moshe Katz (a commenter at Daniel Pipe's blog).

Has anyone heard of this supposed "Palestinian" darling of the Zionist movement, Walid Shoebat? I've read his articles and something doesn't sound right with this guy. He claims to be Palestinian but nobody in the territories has ever heard of him. He says he was a former PLO fighter but strangely enough he doesn't have any documentation or proof to back up his claims.

Lately, he's been selling his services to many different Jewish organizations. My cousin saw him at a college lecture and was shocked at his insistence that Palestinians are actually Nazis in disguise. I'm the first to condemn Palestinian terror but we should never discount the fact that it was European Christians who slaughtered six million Jews. Nobody should ever be compared to the Nazis - they have a special place in the wrath of Hashem.

Have you ever heard the phrase "never trust a man who sells out his own people". That sums up Shoebat. He is too right wing in his rhetoric. He claims to be a former Moslem who now embraces Christianity and loves Israel. Well, how can you love Israel if the only road to salvation is through Jesus Christ? How can you proclaim your admiration for the Jewish people if you feel they are lost in not accepting Christ as the Messiah?

From what I've read on many posts, Shoebat is a former Lebanese militiaman who was brought over to Israel after the Southern Lebanon fiasco. He then set out to proclaim himself a Palestinian. In the end he is a former member of the Christian Phangist (Fascist) party who's making a living telling Jews what they want to hear. I'm one who will plant a tree in Israel before I give this man a dime.

G*D help us all if Jewish organizations keep buying snakeoil from charlatans.
SourceWatch had this to say about Shoebat:

To be generous, Shoebat is an oddball. But for propaganda purposes people like Shoebat are useful fools, and they are taken on tour in the United States, Canada, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe to score cheap propaganda points to denigrate Palestinians in general, smearing all of them with broad smears, and to equate Islam with a "malevolent Jihadist ideology". Shoebat's statements are offensive and smear most Palestinians and Islamic groups with broad denigrating brushstrokes. Often his comments are contradictory, but this is no bar for putting him on an international tour. For example, since Shoebat is billed as a "PLO terrorist" then this would give him some credibility to smear the PLO, but he is also used to smear some Islamic groups, and Islam in general; he also denigrates/smears the ISM (a non-violent solidarity movement run by Christians, Jews, and Muslims) by accusing it of supporting a malevolent and violent jihadist ideology.

Back to Moshe Katz and Daniel Pipes. I shouldn't have been surprised that Daniel Pipes, noted Arab hater, would show up as a Shoebat supporter. He actually responded to Mr. Katz, though the response left a bit to be desired factwise.

(1) Mr. Shoebat showed me a number of documents in several languages - official papers, newspaper clippings, and the like. I read them when he visited me but did not keep copies.

(2) He admits that he can document his life but not his having been a near-terrorist. He asks that that be taken on faith, given that the rest of his life is as he says it is. I see no reason to doubt him.

Hey, okay. That clinches it, I believe him now ... not. Let's take a look at Mr. Pipes. From Christopher Hitchinson we get this:

On more than one occasion, Pipes has called for the extension of Israel's already ruthless policy of collective punishment, arguing that leveling Palestinian villages is justifiable if attacks are launched from among their inhabitants. It seems to me from observing his style that he came to this conclusion with rather more relish than regret.

Hitchinson concludes with:

The objection to Pipes is not, in any case, strictly a political one. It is an objection to a person who confuses scholarship with propaganda and who pursues petty vendettas with scant regard for objectivity. Okay, I'll admit no where does it say he wants to eliminate Palestinians, but there is some groundwork laid for feeling unkind things for Palestinians.

Here's more about Pipes:

He is best known for his strident and often racist denunciations of Arabs and Islam. In an effort to divide Americans -- one that if you inserted "blacks" for "Muslims" and "whites" for "Jews," would be vigorously damned as KKK-speech -- he told the American Jewish Congress a year ago that he worries "the presence and increased stature, and affluence, and enfranchisement of American Muslims...will present true dangers to American Jews."

I contacted Pipes, and he not only confirmed his quote but, incredibly, added: "It is accurate in itself but you must note that this was spoken to a Jewish audience. I make the same point respectively to audiences of women, gays, civil libertarians, Hindus, Evangelical Christians, atheists, and scholars of Islam, among others, all of whom face 'true dangers' as the number of Muslims increases..." --John Sugg, Creative Loafing, 10/2/02

Based in Philadelphia and headed by anti-Arab propagandist Daniel Pipes, Campus Watch unleashed an Internet firestorm in late September, when it posted "dossiers" on eight scholars who have had the audacity to criticize US foreign policy and the Israeli occupation. As a gesture of solidarity, more than 100 academics subsequently contacted the Middle East Forum asking to be added to the list…

Pipes is notorious in the academy for calling Muslims "barbarians" and "potential killers" in a 2001 National Review article and accusing them of scheming to "replace the [US] Constitution with the Koran," in a similar piece in Insight on the News. Along these lines, a 1990 National Review article insisted that "Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene....

All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most." In addition to running the Middle East Forum, serving on a Defense Department antiterrorism task force and writing columns for the Jerusalem and New York Post, Pipes is also a regular contributor to the website of Gamla, an organization founded by former Israeli military officers and settlers that endorses the ethnic cleansing of every Palestinian as "the only possible solution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict… --Kristine McNeil, The Nation, 11/11/02

Israel needs to take more active steps ... Bury suicide bombers in potter's fields rather than deliver their bodies to relatives (who turn their funerals into frenzied demonstrations)…Permit no transportation of people or goods beyond basic necessities. Shut off utilities to the PA...Raze the PA's illegal offices in Jerusalem, its security infrastructure and villages from which attacks are launched. --The National Post, 7/18/01

As Danish politicians, we are offended by the way integration problems in Denmark were portrayed by Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard and we wish to set the record straight (Muslim Extremism: Denmark's had Enough, Daniel Pipes and Lars Hedegaard, Aug. 27). The authors claim that 40% of Danish welfare expenses are consumed by Muslim immigrants … Muslim immigrants do not receive 40% of those allocations even though they represent a substantial part of the clients. The main reason being: It is hard to compete on a job market not interested in employing immigrants. The further assumption that more than half of all rapists in Denmark are Muslims is without any basis in fact, as criminal registers do not record religion. NOTE: In the article referenced above, Daniel Pipes smears the Muslim community in Denmark with several accusations eerily similar to those leveled against the Jewish community in Europe by anti-Semitic propagandists prior to World War II. These include: 1) being parasites on the society, 2) being disproportionately engaged in criminal behavior, 3) having "unacceptable" customs, 4) seeking to take over the country, and 5) sexual aggression against women in the dominant culture. --Elisabeth Arnold and Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen, National Post, 9/6/02

Well, I think you get the idea. Anyone supported by Pipes has got to be a little questionable.

The Greatest Game

Inspiration for this post provided by that paragon of Wigginess, Mr. James Wigderson at Wigderson Library & Pub, a happily demented Dallas Cowboys fan. For another game and another take on the rivalry, here's a link to the Brew City Brawler, who takes you down memory lane for a recap of a recent shellacking of the Cowgirlsboys by the Pack.

From Wikipedia:

The 1967 National Football League Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys was the 35th championship game in NFL history. Popularly known as the Ice Bowl, it is widely considered one of the greatest games in NFL history, due in part to the hostile conditions in which it was played, the importance of the game, the rivalry between the two teams and the dramatic conclusion.

This was the second consecutive NFL championship game played between the two teams. In the previous season, the Packers defeated the Cowboys 34-27 by preventing Dallas from scoring a touchdown on four consecutive plays starting from the Packers 2-yard line on the game's final drive.

The 1967 game, played on December 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, remains the coldest NFL game on record. The official game-time temperature was -13°F / -25°C, with a wind chill around -48°F / -44°C. The bitter cold overwhelmed Lambeau's new turf heating system, leaving the playing surface hard as a rock and nearly as smooth as ice. The officials were unable to use their whistles after the opening kickoff; the referee blew his metal whistle to signal the start of play and it froze to his lips. For the rest of the game, the officials used their voices to end plays.

Several players, including Dallas defensive tackle Jethro Pugh and Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, still claim to suffer occasional mild effects of the frostbite they developed that day. The Dallas quarterback, Don Meredith, came down with pneumonia after the game and was hospitalized on his return to Texas. In addition to the effects of the weather, Starr absorbed a lot of punishment from Dallas players during the game; he was sacked eight times.

Furthermore, the Wisconsin State University - La Crosse Marching Chiefs band were supposed to perform the pregame and halftime shows. During warmups in the brutal cold, the woodwind instruments froze and wouldn't play, the mouthpieces of brass instruments got stuck to the players' lips, and seven members of the band were transported to local hospitals for hypothermia. The band's performances were canceled.

The Packers jumped to an early 14-0 lead with a pair of touchdown passes from Starr to wide receiver Boyd Dowler. But Green Bay committed two costly turnovers in the second quarter that led to 10 Dallas points. First Starr lost a fumble while being sacked by Cowboys lineman Willie Townes; Dallas defensive end George Andrie recovered the ball and returned it 7 yards for a touchdown, cutting the lead in half. Then, with time almost out in the second quarter, Packers safety Willie Wood fumbled a Dallas punt after calling for a fair catch, and Cowboys rookie defensive back Phil Clark recovered the ball at the Green Bay 17-yard line. The Packers were able to keep Dallas out of the end zone, but kicker Danny Villanueva kicked a 21-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-10 by halftime.

Neither team was able to score any points in the third quarter, but then on the first play of the final period, the Cowboys took a 17-14 lead with running back Dan Reeves' 50-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lance Rentzel on a halfback option play. Later in the quarter, the Packers drove into scoring range and had a chance to tie the game, but kicker Don Chandler missed a 40-yard field goal attempt.

Starting from his own 32-yard line with 4:54 left in the game, Starr led his team down the field with three key completions: a 13-yard pass to Dowler, a 12-yarder to running back Donny Anderson, and a 19-yard throw to fullback Chuck Mercein. Then Mercein ran 8 yards to a first down on the Cowboys' 3-yard line on the next play. Twice Anderson attempted to run the ball into the end zone, but both times he was tackled at the 1-yard line, the second time after his footing failed on the icy field.

After Anderson's second attempt, Starr called the Packers' final timeout with only 16 seconds left in the game to confer with coach Vince Lombardi and decide on the next play. Starr asked for a sneak, and Lombardi's response was "Well run it, and let's get the Hell out of here". Some observers (and Dallas players) expected the play would be a pass because a completion would win the game, while an incompletion would stop the clock, allowing the Packers another play to attempt a touchdown or kick a field goal to send the game into overtime. But Green Bay's pass protection had been poor, and Starr's throws late in the game had been mostly short and out in the flat; in this treacherous footing, the touchdown-or-incompletion alternative was not guaranteed. So Green Bay had other ideas. After taking the snap, Starr executed a quarterback sneak behind center Ken Bowman and guard Jerry Kramer's block through defensive tackle Jethro Pugh, scoring a touchdown that gave the Packers a 21-17 win and their unprecedented third consecutive NFL championship.

The Packers' final play was selected in a sideline conference between Starr and Lombardi. As reported in the book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, by David Maraniss (1999), the coach wanted to get the game over with, one way or another, before conditions became worse, rather than attempting a tying field goal. The field goal try was no certainty given the conditions; and if it were successful, it would have sent the game into a grueling overtime period. As reported in the Maraniss book and also in The Packers!, by Steve Cameron (1995), the called play was a handoff to Mercein. Starr decided, but did not tell anyone, that he would keep the ball and avoid the risk of a fumble. Following the touchdown, the Packers had to kick off to the Cowboys, but Dallas was unable to advance the ball in the few remaining seconds, and Green Bay had the victory.

The Starr dive became legendary. It was the climax of Jerry Kramer's Instant Replay, a diary-style account of the whole 1967 season that illustrated the theretofore anonymous life of an offensive lineman. Overlooked sometimes is the long, desperate fourth-quarter drive that led to the score, wherein a host of offensive players contributed, as well as the heroic efforts of the players on both teams for the entire game.

Green Bay went on to finish the postseason by easily defeating the American Football League (AFL) champion Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II, which at the time was still considered by many to be of lesser importance than the NFL championship itself. However, Lombardi made it clear that losing the game was not an option, and the Packers gave it all they had.

The game was the end of several eras. With Green Bay having won five championships in seven years, Lombardi retired. The following year age and injuries caught up to the team and they had a losing record; it would be almost 30 years before the team would become a dominant force again, in the Brett Favre era of the 1990s. Dallas rebounded to one of the top teams of the 1970s, winning two Super Bowls in that decade, but Don Meredith would never win a championship, and he would soon become more famous as an announcer for Monday Night Football than he had been as a player. This would also be the last year that the NFL championship game was considered more important than the Super Bowl, for in the following year Joe Namath and the New York Jets staged an upset victory over the Baltimore Colts that would bring the AFL to full legitimacy.

Lambeau Field supposedly got its nickname, "The Frozen Tundra", from an NFL Films highlight film of the game that included in its narration the phrase, "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field," spoken by "the voice of God," John Facenda. However, Steve Sabol of NFL Films has denied that Facenda used the phrase; it is believed that an imitation of Facenda by ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman popularized the phrase.

One reason this game is so famous is because it featured numerous players who would later be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the head coaches of both teams.

Cowboys future hall of famers in the game
Tex Schramm (GM)
Tom Landry (coach)
Bob Lilly (defensive lineman)
Mel Renfro (defensive back)

Packers future hall of famers in the game
Vince Lombardi (coach)
Bart Starr (quarterback)
Forrest Gregg (offensive lineman)
Herb Adderley (defensive back)
Willie Wood (defensive back)
Willie Davis (defensive lineman)
Ray Nitschke (linebacker)
Henry Jordan (defensive lineman)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just Shocked

Shocked, I tell you. I was shocked to discover that Republican party strategists are turning to wealthy individuals to mount candidacies for congressional races, because Republican fund-raising is lagging behind Democratic Party efforts. According to an article in the NY Times:

... Democrats, who have been closely monitoring the Republican millionaires, assert that the recruiting underscores the Republicans’ financial weakness since they lost control of Congress in 2006.

The most recent figures show that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $56.6 million and has $29.2 million at its disposal. By contrast, the National Republican Congressional Committee has raised $40.7 million with a cash balance of $2.5 million.

That is a striking turnabout for the Republicans, who have outraised the Democrats by considerable margins for years. As recently as 2006, the Republican Congressional campaign committee raised $40 million more than its Democratic counterpart, $179.5 million to $139.9 million.

“National Republicans are in disarray, forcing them to recruit inexperienced and unprepared self-funders,” said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

I think the message is becoming clearer that the fractious principles and convenient morals of the Republican Party, and conservatism generally, are not those held by the majority of Americans. The citizenry is rediscovering that the Republicans were always about two things: protecting the interests of the wealthy, and providing a home for those elements that think calling people "chihuahuas" because they may be "Mexican" is somehow appropriate. The same elements that think slandering a religion because of the violent actions of a small minority is somehow serious discourse.

The fact that fundraising is lagging is a clear sign that Americans are tiring of this type of message.

h/t Brew City Brawler