Friday, July 31, 2009

Black Panther Justice

The dismissal of a civil suit brought against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has created some controversy over the anti-Republican bias within the United States Department of Justice. Political appointees within the DOJ agreed not to pursue a default judgment obtained by DOJ staffers.

While the behavior is not unexpected, it’s always irritating to see justice selectively applied by an organization dedicated to “equal justice under the law.” Maybe the political stakes were just too high for a case of voter intimidation.

But what about the electioneering issue? Electioneering is broadly defined as working actively for a candidate or a political party. Where I live in Colorado, electioneering is prohibited within 100 feet of a polling place on Election Day. You can’t even conduct an exit interview of a voter unless you are outside the 100-foot limit. Other jurisdictions around the country have similar rules.

Although wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon may not constitute voter intimidation in Pennsylvania, might it be electioneering? Was there a particular candidate or party being promoted? News stories indicate there might have been.

There certainly was a strong message being delivered: “If you are voting for a Republican, you are not welcome.”

I’m hoping this is an unusual message to deliver to voters on Election Day. Apparently, in the birthplace of our nation, it is not.

UPDATE 10/15/2010:
Evidently electioneering offenses are not enforced.

UPDATE 3/14/2013:
J. Christian Adams reviews a report by the inspector general of the Department of Justice that describes the political bias of Tom Perez (since nominated by President Obama for Secretary of Labor).  The DOJ has apparently become a political arm of the Democratic Party over the last four years.

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That's a Republican, dear.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “A teaching moment.” I thought of that as I saw Mike Keefe’s 7-30-2009 cartoon from The Denver Post.

What went through my mind was a scene where a youngster is at the family breakfast table, looking at the cartoon. She turns to her mother and there is this exchange:

Youngster: “Who is that crazy person they are carting away, Mom?”
Mother: “That’s a Republican, dear.”

As I’ve said before, you’ve got to have an understanding of the issue being represented by the cartoon. Without that understanding, the cartoon doesn’t make sense.

Here, the intent is to silence dissent on the government healthcare proposal being pushed through Congress. Republicans have concerns about the proposal, and want to see tax incentives for individuals and small businesses, portability in the insurance plans, and medical malpractice litigation reform.

What do you do if you want to silence their voices?

Characterize Republicans as being CRAZY!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The President and the Professor

Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. from Harvard University recently created a kerfuffle when he characterized a police officer from a Massachusetts community as engaging in racial profiling. The President of the United States followed up in support of the Professor by characterizing the Police Department of Cambridge, Massachusetts as having “…acted stupidly…”

The facts of the incident are still coming in. However, one might ask where the legitimacy of the accusations of the President and the Professor are derived? Could it be our anti-Republican culture?

Certainly there are societal factors at play, but Professor Gates works at an institution that values racial diversity. His home is in a community whose mayor has dark skin tone. He lives in a state whose governor has dark skin tone. It would seem that his concern for racial profiling would have to arise from some inner set of perceptions that are not offset by the societal circumstances.

Similarly, the President’s characterization of the Cambridge Police Department must come from some inner perception that is not necessarily based on the facts of this specific situation. It might also be that in his mind, this incident rises to the level of outrage that necessitates a person such as the President of the United States to speak out.

Back in the 1950s, Rosa Parks took a stand against racial profiling in Montgomery, Alabama. At the time, her only protection was the Constitution of the United States.

Nowadays, our culture has shifted to the point where we have training classes that celebrate racial diversity and teach ways to avoid profiling of any sort. With that degree of change already in place, why does our culture leap to support charges of racism, both veiled and direct?

I think it is because we are in the process of elevating political power above Constitutional power.

When Professor Gates makes his accusation, he is not relying on the Constitution to back him; he is relying on a political party. He knows that racism is perceived to reside only in Republicans, and that charges of racism benefit his political beliefs. It is his source of power and authority.

The President’s reaction to all of this bears watching. He has a sworn obligation to the Constitution of the United States, and must be careful to avoid elevating his political beliefs above his responsibility to the Constitution.

Luckily for the President, it is Sgt. Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department who is most at risk. The outcome of this incident will most certainly impact Sgt. Crowley’s reputation and his career.

And Sergeant James Crowley is like Rosa Parks. He must look to the Constitution for his protection.

UPDATE 6/25/2010:
The Boston Globe reports that racial profiling was not involved in the arrest of Professor Gates.

It takes a long time for these facts to come out (over one year) and when they do, our anti-Republican culture makes sure they are not afforded front-page prominence.  You can almost hear some of the readers of the Globe growling, "They may have gotten away with it this time, but I know those Republicans are racists!"
(H/T Opinion Journal)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Wise Latina

Judge Sonia Sotomayor is slated for confirmation as a justice to the Supreme Court of the United States. When she places her hand on the Bible and takes the oath of office, I will reflect on the words contained within that oath:

"I…do solemnly swear…that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me…under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

The phrase that stands out to me is “…I will administer justice without respect to persons…”

This is an important issue within our Constitution: the idea of equal justice under the law. Justice is not to be dispensed with preference for one group of people or another. It is a principle that is basic to Republican thought.

Judge Sotomayor does not subscribe to this principle. Her rulings and speech favor giving preferences to one type of person over another. The recurring theme is that her preferences must disadvantage Republicans, either by eroding Republican principles or by ruling against Republicans themselves.

How do I come up with this? A good place to start is with the Constitution, where Americans are guaranteed equal justice under the law. Unfortunately, there are instances where this has not been the case. Because of this imperfection, individual justices feel they must bend the law to make it more “just” for selected groups.

In the case of Ricci v. DeStefano, Judge Sotomayor ruled that firefighters with dark skin tone deserve preference in achieving promotion. She gave preference to a group that overwhelmingly votes against Republicans, and in so doing, disadvantaged another group.

Our anti-Republican culture generally approves of this tactic. We accept that it is an honorable task to try to improve on the concept of equal justice for all. The problem is that when you deviate from the principle, you give selected human beings the power to decide who gets preferences and who doesn’t. Judge Sotomayor seems to relish the power that comes with this philosophical break from the Constitution, and characterizes herself as “a wise Latina.”

At least one person is not happy with her use of anti-Republican power. Take the case of Jeffrey Deskovic. Mr. Deskovic spent 16 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Photo by James Estrin/The New York Times

When Mr. Deskovic’s appeal reached Judge Sotomayor’s court, it was turned down. Apparently, Judge Sotomayor did not think Mr. Deskovic was deserving. However, as Mr Deskovic says, “Innocence can never be ruled as out of order in court.”

Rather than rule “without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” Judge Sotomayor prefers to be above this standard and issue preferences to those who support her political beliefs.

When she takes her oath of office, will it be done with a wink?

As she recites the oath, perhaps her fingers will be crossed behind her back.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Page Two

The Denver Post has a column on page two of its first section titled “Morning Brew.” It is a rotating column, shared principally by two columnists for the Denver Post, Mike Littwin and Tina Griego.

The front page of the Denver Post tells us what events are the “news of the day.” The second page tells us how we should feel about the news.

Why is this important? It’s related to the structure of our printed media. In an earlier post, I noted how anti-Republican characterizations are reported as news, while pro-Republican facts show up as opinion. Page two of the Denver Post tells us how we should feel about the news, and often that feeling is portrayed with anti-Republican themes.

Perhaps an example is in order. Here are the first few paragraphs from a "Morning Brew" column by Tina Griego:

A move to integrate — not to assimilate

By Tina Griego
Denver Post Columnist
Posted: 06/27/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

On Thursday, while President Barack Obama was meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform, about 300 people gathered in downtown Denver to talk about how to best integrate immigrants into American society.

Before I go any further, let me first take you back to City Councilman Paul Lopez's congreso last weekend, where people from his southwest Denver district spent three hours discussing their community's problems and what to do about them.

They rattled off issues like graffiti and illegal dumping and too much noise and not enough parking. I waited for someone to say, "illegal immigration," but no one did.
I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was. But I had forgotten one of the lessons of my year reporting on Border Street, which is in Lopez's district.

The American citizens, white and Latino, on that block all told me the same thing: The issue for them was not so much that their neighbor might be an illegal immigrant. The issue was that the neighbor was washing her laundry in a tub in the front yard and hanging wet underwear on rope strung from the porch to the tree to the fence post. The issue was that 14 people lived next door. The issue was that they could not communicate with their Spanish-speaking neighbors.

The silence between native-born and immigrant had become grudging and accusatory. The long-timers had reached the conclusion that the newcomers did not want to talk to them, did not respect them or this country and its rules. The immigrants, here legally and illegally, likewise decided their neighbors did not respect them and so withdrew or moved away only to be replaced by other immigrants. And so the dysfunctional dance began again...

The article purports to be about the difference between assimilation and integration. But the one thing that stands out is the contrast between the use of the words “immigrant” and “illegal immigrant.” Note how the last paragraph characterizes “immigrants, here legally and illegally” as having the same mindset. The idea is that whether or not you have gone through the American naturalization process, you think the same.

Is this true? An illegal immigrant does not have to demonstrate an ability to read, write, and speak English; does not have to demonstrate a knowledge of U. S. History; does not have to take an Oath of Allegiance that declares that he or she will support and defend the Constitution and will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, while renouncing fidelity to any sovereignty where the immigrant has been a citizen. To me, this is an important difference. Ms. Griego doesn’t see it that way. She believes legal immigrants and illegal immigrants have the same point of view. Pledging allegiance to the Constitution is apparently a trivial matter.

You are probably wondering how this fits in with our anti-Republican culture. Take a look at a recent article by Daniel Henninger in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Henninger talks about “the official dumbing down of democracy,” and emphasizes his point by quoting Russian Foreign Minister Sergio Lavrov’s characterization of the Iranian election of June, 2009: “No one is willing to condemn the election process because it’s an exercise in democracy.”

The Iranian election process as an exercise in democracy? Republicans venerate things like democracy, our Constitution and natural law. Evidently, on a larger stage, these words and their respective ideas are merely props. They are meant to lack significance and meaning.

Ms. Griego doesn’t sense that illegal immigration is an offense of trespassing, as real as seizure by eminent domain. Our government is charged with protecting individual property rights and the rights of American citizenship. To say that these rights are no more important than “hanging wet underwear on a rope” is an argument that offends. Legitimizing activities that demean the underpinnings of our American life are, as President Obama might say, “disturbing” and a matter of “concern.”

While the intent is not openly acknowledged, the second page of the Denver Post attacks Republicans by marginalizing the principles Republicans hold dear. Mr. Littwin does it by openly mocking Republicans. Ms. Griego does it by legitimizing anti-Republican thought.

Welcome to Page Two of our 21st century news.

UPDATE 1/4/2011:
As of today, the Denver Post has modified its format so that Ms. Griego and Mr. Littwin are no longer on page two.  Ms. Griego has moved to the first page of the "Denver & the West" section (regional news and opinion) and Mr. Littwin is now on the op-ed page.  Page two of the front section of the Denver Post now contains actual news stories, rather than columns that tell you how you should feel about the news.

Gregory L. Moore, Editor of the Denver Post appears to be "getting the message" that newspapers with structural bias are becoming marginalized.


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