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So many people don’t get it.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-Ben Franklin

Story of the day: Most travelers don’t seem to care that low-level government agents are seeing them naked or sticking fingers into their crotches.

I’ve been hearing and reading this constant refrain of “as long as we’re safe…”

Advanced Imaging Technology is likely medically harmful and may not detect the very threats it’s intended to find. According to this site, which takes information from Columbia University scientist Dr. David Brenner, 85 percent of skin cancer first develops in the scalp and the majority of radiation emitted by AIT machines goes to the scalp.  Why even scan the head and neck?  What are the chances that a weapon or explosive is concealed on the head?

I don’t have exact statistics but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that more people in the United States are killed by unregistered guns than by airborne terrorists.  What if the government said they were going to send agents into every house in America to search every nook and cranny of your home to see if you had an unregistered weapon?  Would people just roll over and say “it’s keeping us safe”?

An unreasonable search without probable cause is the same unconstitutional act whether it’s your home or your body at an airport.

 


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What’s a conservative anyway?

So mostly this post is just me paraphrasing a Huffington Post article and Gallup poll results.

A May 2010 Gallup poll asked respondents to identify themselves as conservative, moderate, or liberal.  The results:

42% Conservative

35% Moderate

20% Liberal

With all the attention Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party have been getting, you might think that sounds about right, but if you look at a breakdown of the issues in the very same poll, most Americans take moderate or liberal positions.

47% referred to themselves as “pro-life” but only 19% oppose abortion in all circumstances.

65% believe civil liberties should not be violated in efforts to prevent terrorism.

Half believe protecting the environment should have priority over economic development.

70% say gays should be allowed to be to be out in the military and 67% support giving same-sex domestic partners the same employee benefits as spouses.

Only 12% want less strict firearms laws.

59% believe research on stem cells from human embryos is “morally acceptable.”

In separate Gallup polls this year:

Even 32% of those identifying as Republicans think the Bush tax cuts should expire for people making over $250K/yr.

67% think it’s a “good idea” to tax ALL income for Social Security rather than setting a cap.

So maybe the Republicans have succeeded in making “liberal” a dirty word, but liberal ideals are alive and well in the American people.

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Justice system needs to do more to protect cops

Back in December I wrote that Maurice Clemmons’ ambush, which left four Lakewood police officers dead, could have been prevented.  Clemmons had multiple felony convictions and parole violations, and his latest crime of punching a sheriff’s deputy in the face showed he had no respect for the law or the people tasked with enforcing the law.  Despite these facts, a Pierce County judge set his bail at $15,000.  It is Washington law to set bail in all cases except capital cases, but it was the judge’s prerogative to set it so low for a violent, repeat offender.  Clemmons did come up with that $15,000 and less than a week later took the lives of Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, and Officer Greg Richards.

Currently in the news spotlight is the story about Seattle Officer Ian Walsh punching a 17-year-old girl in the face.  This girl was trying to intervene in the arrest of 19-year-old Marilyn Levias, and when she shoved and grabbed at Officer Walsh, he punched her in the face to get the situation under control.  Levias had a prior charge of assault on an officer from when she knocked down a King County Sheriff’s Deputy.  She was able to get a deferred disposition, meaning she would get the assault charge dropped if she stayed out of trouble for a set period of time.  I don’t know if it was a judge or a prosecutor who made this decision, but the arrangement sounds like something even less severe than “a slap on the wrist.”  I got deferred disposition on a speeding ticket–a bit different than assaulting a deputy.  Even though Levias isn’t the one who shoved the officer, I think her history sets an example to her and her friends than you can get rough with a cop and get away with it.

I see both of these cases illustrating the poor decisions of the justice system to be soft on people who have acted violently against law enforcement officers.  If we want to have cops around to protect us, we need to do a better job of protecting them.

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Seattle cop punched 17-year-old girl in the face

I’ve seen the video, and I think he was right to.

I’m glad that the majority of comments I’ve seen have been in support of Officer Ian Walsh.

Say what you want about citing jaywalkers, the girls in this incident reacted inappropriately and got what they deserved.

You don’t touch an officer while the person he’s trying to ticket is cussing him out.

Here’s my comment on YouTube:

What if the officer hadn’t gotten the situation under control? What if he said, “I’ve got this one girl cussing and refusing to listen to me, I’ve got this other girl shoving me and a bunch of people gathering around, I think I’ll let this one go”? I say good job for this officer standing his ground and not setting an example that if you protest and harass a cop enough, that you can get away with illegal activities.

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Headlines I’m looking at today

Scott Roeder given life sentence with no chance of parole until he is 102 years old for stalking and murdering Dr. George Tiller and assaulting 2 other members of Tiller’s Wichita, Kansas church.

Gonorrhea could become drug resistant

RNC fundraising letter, not only looks like a census form but also mistakenly directs donors to a phone sex number

HPV vaccine may start being recommended for boys as the virus is linked to head and neck cancers

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@#$&*!!!

First of all, sorry I’ve been away so long. The baby is keeping me busy and when I get a chance at some downtime, blogging isn’t the first thing on my mind.

October 31, Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton was shot and killed while sitting in his patrol car after a routine traffic stop. Trainee Officer Britt Sweeney was hit by gunfire but survived. The accused killer, Christopher Monfort, was shot and apprehended by police November 12th. Monfort is now also suspected in an arson that destroyed three police cars and a mobile precinct on October 22.

November 29, four Lakewood Police officers were gunned down in a coffee shop. Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, Mark Renninger, and Greg Richards lost their lives as they prepared to begin their shifts. Authorities are now on a massive manhunt for Maurice Clemmons.

Neither of these shootings were cases of officers responding to a crime-in-progress. These were ambushes, assassinations. And as I see it, both of these could have been avoided.

Monfort doesn’t have much of a record, just three traffic violations in the past two years. He graduated from University of Washington in March 2008 and appeared to be headed to graduate or law school. He “wanted to make a difference in society” according to his advisor at Highline Community College. So maybe it isn’t anything about Monfort himself that should have drawn red flags, but there was a threatening note left at the scene of the October 22 arsons. One officer told SeattleCrime.com that higher-ups didn’t release the note to other officers, who would have used the information to be more cautious in their surroundings. Not parking on the side of the road after a traffic stop, for example.

The case against Maurice Clemmons seems more clear. He was supposed to be serving 95 years in prison in Arkansas, but Gov. Huckabee commuted his sentence. He violated his parole and went back to jail for a few years. One source said he has been convicted of 13 felonies, but another said that he had five felony convictions in Arkansas and eight felony charges in Washington.  Clemmons was most recently arrested for child rape and assaulting a sheriff’s deputy.  Unfortunately it is Washington law that bail must be set for all crimes except capital offenses.  He came up with the necessary $15,000 to be released and five days later murdered four police officers.  As of my writing this, Clemmons is still evading capture.

Five cops, all with at least 11 years experience are dead, and it seems that they would still be with us were it not for some procedural screw ups.  Officer Brenton (and all other area law enforcement) should have been alerted to the threat found at the arson scene.  And it’s baffling as to how a repeat offender and parole violator with an obvious lack of respect for the law (punching a deputy in the face) and questionable mental stability (his wife says he told his rape victim he was Jesus) was let out on bail.

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New fiction

A week or two ago, I wrote a short story which is my first piece of fiction in years. Also, I haven’t been on WordPress lately, and it looks a little different. Anyways, I thought I’d post my new story. Yes it’s first person, but it’s fictional. I have not done all the things the narrator has done, and I have done a few of the things she says she’s never. My American History TA did have red Chucks, though. Enjoy.

I arrived to the classroom early. I quickly found a desk by the window and shoved my books underneath. I laid my notebook on the desk and fished through the big pockets of my brown coat, searching for my favorite blue pen. As the room filled, I paged through the notebook looking for a blank sheet. I handled it carefully. Some of the pages were wrinkled or stained, others barely held onto the spiral binding. Here it was second semester of my senior year, and I was still carrying the same notebook that I had taken to every other writing class of my college career. The first section was filled with first drafts of argumentative essays from composition class. I had debated over culturally offensive mascots, privatized space exploration, and the effectiveness of gun control in preventing suicides. The second section was supposed to be from my poetry writing class. I hadn’t been very inspired, and the pages were covered more with my geometric doodles than actual verses. Looking back at that section, I could remember the days I was especially bored by the numerous colors of ink on a single page. I had heard from several people that this was a really interesting and useful class. I hoped so. I actually wanted this third section of the notebook to be filled with funny words and thoughtful insights, not statistics like the first section or colorful drawings like the second.

The bell rang and I looked up. I was so busy going through my old notebook, I hadn’t noticed the instructor until now. She didn’t look much older than me. She had long, wavy brown hair and a great complexion. She had a fuzzy gray scarf around her neck that reminded me of my German 102 TA from freshman year and a black sweater. With her skinny jeans and black flats, she was decidedly more hip than any of my other instructors. Well, there was my American History TA who always wore red and white Chucks, but he was a he, and that didn’t interest me.

“I hope everyone had a lovely winter break,” she began. Her eyes were bright and her voice clear. “Welcome to spring semester and welcome to Creative Writing. I’m Julie Siddell. I’m working on my Masters in American Literature. My thesis is looking at drug and alcohol use in American Lit. Two of the books I’m focusing on are Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Sun Also Rises. Was anyone here in my Modern American Novels class last semester? No? Okay, well I will be teaching it again next fall and we’ll be reading both of those books.”

Damn, I thought. I missed my chance. I’m graduating in May. No “next fall” for me. I’ve already read both of those books, but I would probably take any class this girl would teach.

“This is a fairly big class, but I would still like everyone to try to get to know each other’s names,” she continued. I looked around, probably 35 people in here. “So let’s start in this front corner by the door and everyone say their name, major, year in school, and one activity you do outside of class.”

The first girl recited the required answers. We will probably be doing peer reviews and critiquing each other. I should probably get to know them. I tore my attention off of Julie and tried to listen to my classmates. A lot of freshman and sophomores. A lot of undecided majors. Ugh, a lot of girls citing their sorority as their extracurricular. There were a couple people I’d had other classes with, including Rob, a guy from my major. I recognized two guys and a girl from the LGBT tutoring center.

It was my turn. “I’m Katie Nelson. I’m a senior in broadcast journalism. I’m involved with a lot of activities around campus, but I’ve been in Student ACLU all four years.”

“Are you going to be an on-air personality?” Julie asked.

She hadn’t asked Rob that. “Oh no, I want to be a radio producer,” I answered.

“I see.” I think she blushed as we moved onto the next person.

When introductions were finished, Julie picked up a stack of papers from her desk. “This is the syllabus,” she said. “I know a lot of professors go over these on the first day of class, but I think you’re big kids and can read it on your own. I want to get right down to writing. I’m sure you are all on different levels with your writing skills as well as your creative thinking, so I want to do a little in-class exercise so I can get a feel for where all of you are at. Write a list of twenty rules you’ve broken. Don’t elaborate too much, we only have 30 minutes of class time left.”

Twenty rules I’ve broken? Twenty? Does she expect us all to be little deviants? I’ve broken the speed limit. I’ve exceeded the time limit on parking spots. I drank underage and I’ve bought alcohol for minors. This wasn’t creative. Everyone has done these things. I used to get into bars with a fake ID, and one time I rolled at my friend’s apartment. The time was ticking away and I’d only thought of six violations. I broke curfew in high school. I never did the algebra homework. I called in sick to my cafeteria job when I wasn’t really sick. I used my cellphone at the hospital when the sign said it was supposed to be turned off. I snuck my video camera into a Tegan and Sara concert. Okay this might be cheesy, but I wrote down that I’ve broken the rules of grammar and wore white shoes after Labor Day. Maybe this was the creativity Julie was looking for. I got a girl’s number and called her the next day instead of waiting three days like my friends said you’re supposed to. I always read my new issue of Vanity Fair in Geology 101. Hmm, that’s probably not against a specific rule, just frowned upon. I didn’t write that one down. I had come up with fourteen, but class was almost over and I couldn’t think of any more. I racked my brain. I’ve never cheated on a test. I’ve never cheated on someone I was dating. I have lied, fifteen. I’ve never dated my friends’ sisters or my exes’ friends. I’ve never revealed a secret someone told me. I’ve never shoplifted. I trespassed on an old railroad bridge hiking with my friends, sixteen. At a laundry mat, I drank coffee that was for customers only, seventeen. I jaywalk constantly, eighteen. I started thinking about how much I was revealing about myself to Julie. She was beautiful, but a stranger nonetheless. I waded in a fountain that people aren’t supposed to play in, nineteen. It had been in the back of mind for the whole assignment and I decided to risk it. For number twenty I wrote, “I’ve never dated my teacher, but if you’ll call me sometime, that’ll be a rule I’ve broken.” I thought about scribbling it out, but the bell rang and Julie was already walking around the room collecting the lists. My chest tightened as I handed her my paper. She smiled at me, and I hoped she would still be smiling at me the next time our class met.

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How terrible

I never would have thought that I could actually hope that someone was enormously ignorant–til now.

She denies knowing spouse raped stepdaughters

1.  I hope she didn’t know he was raping her children, because what kind of mother would allow her daughters to be abused for four years?

2.  I hope she didn’t know he served eight years in prison and is a registered sex offender for “lewd acts on a child,” because what kind of mother would even risk exposing her children to that degree of harm?

If she was aware of these facts, she’s almost as much of a monster as her husband.  If she is as ignorant as I hope she is, I still don’t find her totally blameless.  You have to know what is happening in your own home with your own children.  And–sad as it is to say–in this day and age you have to know who you are letting near your family.

UPDATE:  I’ve done some further reading on the case, and it seems that the mother knew of her husband’s past.  This article claims that she had to wait to marry him since not having contact with children was part of his parole agreement.

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Be a little more Christian, pt 2

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Galatians 6:7 — “Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a man shall sow, that also shall he reap.”

You’ve heard it before, and probably in reference to Dr. Tiller– “You reap what you sow.”

The problem with this line of thinking is that they’re forgetting that God is the judge.  Who are we to decide who has done wrong and how they deserve to pay for their deeds?  If God wants George Tiller to burn in Hell, he’ll make that happen.  It wasn’t anyone’s job to speed up God’s decision.

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. –Matthew 7:1-5

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Killed at church. WTF??

George Tiller, a 67-year-old abortion provider, was murdered during church services in Wichita, Kansas.  The latest reports say a suspect is in custody.

This isn’t the first time Tiller had been targeted with violence.  He was shot in both arms in 1993 and his clinic was bombed in 1986.

Now I’m not much of a supporter of late-term abortions, which Tiller was (in)famous for providing, but you can’t just go out and murder people who do things you don’t like.

In my mind, you have to be pro-life all around to have a credible anti-abortion argument.

Pro-life groups have been quick to issue statements condemning Tiller’s murder.  Operation Rescue’s founder, Randall Terry, came out with a bit different of a statement:

George Tiller was a mass-murderer. We grieve for him that he did not have time to properly prepare his soul to face God. I am more concerned that the Obama Administration will use Tiller’s killing to intimidate pro-lifers into surrendering our most effective rhetoric and actions. Abortion is still murder. And we still must call abortion by its proper name; murder.

Those men and women who slaughter the unborn are murderers according to the Law of God. We must continue to expose them in our communities and peacefully protest them at their offices and homes, and yes, even their churches.

Despite saying they “peacefully protest,” pro-life (or perhaps more accurately called anti-abortion) groups have been stirring the pot for years.  They called him “Tiller the Killer” and his clinic a “murder mill.”

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