That Wacky Ninth Circuit Fires Up Some Contradictory Rulings.

The genesis of this post is actually an article from Education Week with the following headline concerning a case out of the Fifth Circuit:

Court Rules Young Students Have Religious-Speech Rights

This is what infuriates people like us so much. It is as if people continually have to re-litigate the established and recognized law of the land time and time again.

As written, the headline and the ruling in Morgan v. Swanson makes it seem that people – even kids – have rights is some sort of new revelation.

We hold that the First Amendment protects all students from viewpoint discrimination against private, non-disruptive, student-to-student speech,” Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in a part of her opinion, joined by nine of the 16 participating judges. “Therefore, the principals’ alleged conduct—discriminating against student speech solely on the basis of religious viewpoint—is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

However, a separate majority said the two principals were entitled to qualified immunity from personal liability in the lawsuit because rulings on student religious speech in public schools are far from clear for administrators.

Really? No rulings or guidance at all? Not even from the Department of Education?

The Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District:

First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.

Why is this some new revelation to the members of the Fifth Circuit?

Optical Illusion

Via our friends over at Mighty Optical Illusions, comes this nifty and confounding optical illusion.

The image below is reminiscent of the ol’ screensaver that came out with Windows giving the illusion of flying through a star field. It was a neat effect years ago and still a neat effect.

To see the illusion, use your hand to cover the middle of your screen as shown to the right.

The movement of the stars will appear to be faster. Conversely, if you cover the edges of the screen, the stars will appear to be moving slower even though the actual lotion is constant.

Cool, eh?

New Government Proposal – Debt Collectors Calling Cell Phones.

There are times when we wonder about the disconnect in the logic behind some governmental thinking.

This is one of those times.

As part of President Obama’s economic plan, Obama has called for a change in the law to allow the Federal government to call your cell phone if the government believes you owe then money.

On page 28 of the plan, there is this one, brief paragraph:

Allow agencies to contact delinquent debtors via their cellular phones. The Administration also proposes to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to facilitate collection of debts owed to or guaranteed by the Federal Government, by facilitating contact of delinquent debtors who are most readily reached on their cell phones. This provision is expected to provide substantial increases in collections, particularly as an increasing share of households no longer have landlines and rely instead on cell phones.

This follows a bi-partisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives seeking to change the law on bill collectors calling cell phones.

The Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011 will modernize the [Telephone Consumer Protection Act] TCPA by exempting informational calls to wireless phones from auto-dialer restrictions; clarify the “prior express consent” requirement; and continue the prohibition against the use of assistive technologies to call wireless numbers for telemarketing purposes.

The text of the bill specifically addresses “prior express consent” through an amended definition:

The term “prior express consent” means the oral or written approval of a person —

(A) for the initiation of a telephone call to such person by or on behalf of an entity with which such person has an established business relationship; and
(B) that is provided when such person purchases a good or service or at any other point during such relationship.

A person who provides a telephone number as a means of contact evidences consent under this paragraph.

How will these proposals change the law?

Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me

We humbly suggest you send this to everyone on your mailing list.


Quick Hits

Another day – another quick hit.

Via our friends over at Cold Fury and the Doug Ross comes a comment by Mary Frances Berry who previously served as the head of the US Civil Rights Commission. We remember Berry as the head of the commission that looked into the 2000 presidential election and whose staff leaked reports and documents that were later removed from the final report for lack of support.

As part of a blog on, participants were asked to comment on the “racist” allegations made against the Tea Party and its members.

Berry’s response is telling:

Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.

Berry’s position is clear. It is acceptable to brand a label opponents as “racists” when there is none. It is acceptable to play the “race card” when there is no bigotry.

That alone should speak volumes about the Berry herself and the party of which she is a member.

CNN is reporting on a press credential badge issued by the White House for reporters who are traveling with the president as he makes stops in Washington state, California, and Colorado.

The three states the president will visit are highlighted in white on the badge.

Only one problem: Wyoming, not Colorado, is highlighted.


To be fair, both states are rectangular, nearly identical in size, and stacked next to each other. But we doubt our third grade teachers would buy that!

If this were the Bush White House, the press and left would be all over this as an example of how “stupid Bush is.” As it is the Obama White House, there isn’t much commentary other than to laugh it off.

Wonder how the people of Colorado think knowing the White House can’t identify their state?

Or maybe it is one of those 57 states candidate Obama visited?

Federal Employees Upset with Obama Deficit Plan. A Blind Squirrel Rejoices.

Uh oh. There are people that are unhappy with President Obama’s deficit reduction and jobs bill and the group may surprise you.

Federal employee unions lashed out at President Barack Obama’s proposal Monday to make civilian federal workers contribute more of their pay to their retirement plans as part of a proposal to trim budget deficits.

We don’t give Obama much praise around here because, well, because there isn’t much that he does right. But in this case, he is right, proving the ol’ adage of a “blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile.”

The President is asking for Federal workers to contribute an additional 1.2 percent to their retirement funds which will be phased in over three years.

There are some key points to make here.

First, according to the White House, Federal workers contribute 33% to their retirement funds, while private workers contribute 45%. The additional 1.2% contribution from Federal workers will help with the budget deficit assuming (and this is a huge assumption) the saved money is not spent elsewhere.

Secondly, Federal workers make more money from comparable jobs than their private sector counterparts.

Thirdly, Federal workers are nearly impossible to get rid of – even for incompetency.

To some extent, this is the “fairness” argument coming back to bite the workers in their unionized butt. Unions have long argued that the “wealthy” pay their “fair share” of taxes (even though the wealthy are paying more in percentages and dollar amounts than the average union worker.) Yet when it comes down to the fairness of being on par with private sector jobs, the unions scream “foul!”

Washington Monument During August 23 Earthquake.

The Washington Monument in Washington DC was damaged in the 5.8 earthquake that struck the area on August 23, 2010. After inspecting the inside of the monument, the National Park Service has begun to inspect the exterior of the monument by using repelling ropes.

The Park Service has also released a video of the interior of the monument taken during the earthquake. The video shows some the violent shaking of the structure, as well as debris, mortar and stone falling.

Letter to the Editor from Someone Who Votes. Be Very Afraid.

The Florida Today newspaper ran a “Your Opinion” letter to the editor from a John Cunningham pf West Melbourne.

Cunningham starts by saying:

As we approach the 2012 election season, the right wing has trotted out its time-tested bromide of “class warfare” to decry the notion wealthy people should pay their fair share to ensure we have a functioning society.

We wanted to make sure we represented Cunningham’s ideas fairly, so we looked up the word “bromide.” According to, a “bromide” is a a platitude or trite saying.” Right off the bat, Cunningham launched into a unsubstantiated attack in framing the message as “trite.” Yet later on, as we will see, he agrees liberals are engaged in and should support”class warfare.”

Liberals typically run from this intended slur, when we should embrace it. Of course, it’s class warfare, and the right has been annihilating us for 30-plus years.

We guess saying “class warfare” wasn’t a “bromide” after all.

FLORIDA TODAY’s pompous columnists moan that a substantial portion of Americans pay little or no federal taxes. That’s what happens when the top 1¤percent control 24 percent of the wealth. They think it would be swell for the working poor to cough up a little more in addition to the payroll tax, sales tax and other and taxes everyone pays.

Cunningham needs to be introduced to facts instead of rhetoric.

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