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May 30, 2008

Good night, Hedley

Harvey Korman
RIP, Harvey Korman.

LOS ANGELES -- Harvey Korman, the tall, versatile comedian who won four Emmys for his outrageously funny contributions to "The Carol Burnett Show" and was seen to hilarious effect on the big screen in "Blazing Saddles," died Thursday. He was 81. [...]

"A world without Harvey Korman - it's a more serious world," said "Blazing Saddles" director Mel Brooks in an AP interview. "It was very dangerous for me to work with him because if our eyes met we'd crash to floor in comic ecstasy. ... It was comedy heaven to make Harvey Korman laugh."

My favorite bits: Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles and the Gone with the Wind skit on the Carol Burnett show.

Posted by Darleen at 05:56 AM | Comments (3)

May 29, 2008


Texas Supreme Court ...

...ruled that the state must return some 130 children taken into state custody following an early April raid on a polygamous sect's West Texas ranch.

However, the decision likely will affect about 320 other children from the ranch who now are living in foster homes and shelters throughout the state, attorneys for their parents said.

By a six-to-three majority, the justices decided that a district court judge improperly removed the children, like their parents members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Families and Protective Services, which had asked the court to rule in its favor, said the agency was "disappointed but we understand and respect the court's decision and will take immediate steps to comply. Child Protective Services has one purpose in this case - to protect the children.

"Our goal is to reunite families whenever we can do so, and make sure the children will be safe," Meisner said.


And I don't believe for a moment Meisner and ilk are going to roll over and return the children to their parents.

Posted by Darleen at 08:03 PM | Comments (584)

May 26, 2008

Social Workers Behaving Badly

The saga of the Texas CPS's abbrogation of the civil rights of the residents of the FLDS continues

ELDORADO, Texas (CNN) -- An 18-year-old who gave birth in state custody after she was incorrectly seized in a raid on a polygamist sect ranch says the state kept her in foster care in an effort to seize her baby. [...]

The state apparently agreed that Jessop was not a minor. A caseworker signed a statement saying Jessop gave her age as 18. Her birth certificate says so, along with a "bishop's list" collected as evidence from the sect's records.

There was also no denying she was weeks away from giving birth to her second child. And that, she believes, is why she wound up in foster care.

Of course, Texas CPS is denying everything. They maintain she never offered any id nor ever asked to be released from imprisonment foster care.

However, how much credibility can we give CPS at this point?

Jessop stands by her story, and her attorneys say they are considering a federal lawsuit against Texas officials for violating her civil rights.
That lawsuit, too, may benefit from a little noticed ruling last Monday, May 19, Michael C. v. Gresbach. It was a case in which a social worker entered a private school, without warrant and demanded to see two children she suspected had been spanked by their parents. She demanded the school not contact the parents and also denied any school official to be in the room while she "questioned" the children. The course of her "questioning" also included her forcing the children to partially disrobe in order for her to "examine" them for evidence of abuse. What was particularly alarming, according to the parents' and children's attorney, is the fact that this social worker's behavior was not unusual
“The social worker performed these strip searches as a matter of routine, estimating that in perhaps one-half of the 300 or so cases she handled every year she subjected kids to a partial disrobing,” he said. “In fact, she testified that she considered it so routine that she did not bother to discuss her intentions with her supervisor, even though she spoke to her on her way to the school.”

The state had several social workers file affidavits saying they would have followed the same procedure. Crampton said, “That is an alarming admission, and we suspect you would find a similar pattern in social service offices all over America.”

The social worker maintained not only did she have a "right" to conduct such a search but that she was immune from lawsuit.

Happily, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously disagreed with the social worker

"While we recognize that 'child welfare caseworkers are often called upon to make difficult decisions without the benefit of extended deliberation' in order to prevent 'the most vulnerable members of society, children of tender years, from being physically abused,' Heck, 327 F.3d at 525, we do not believe that requiring a child welfare caseworker to act in accordance with basic Fourth Amendment principles is an undue burden on the child welfare system, particularly when it is necessary to conduct an examination of a child's body, which is undoubtedly 'frightening, humiliating, and intrusive' to the child. At the time Gresbach conducted the searches at Good Hope in 2004, there was a clearly established doctrine as to what actions a Bureau caseworker must take when conducting a child abuse investigation at a private school."
What do you know? Parents do have Constitutional rights! Even parents in private, Christianist schools.

Whodda thunk it?

Posted by Darleen at 10:07 PM | Comments (674)

May 24, 2008

California Democrat Follies

Fabian NunezWhat do you get when an entitled Democrat state dictator legislator has his own job-security proposition thwarted at the polls and is termed out?

Some of the funniest "criticism of me is racist" schtick this side of O!'s campaign.

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, saying he now can speak more openly, is blasting accusations that he spent lavishly on overseas trips and retail purchases as racially motivated. [...]

The Los Angeles Democrat said he has no regrets over his spending of campaign funds, despite controversy over tens of thousands of dollars spent on high-priced hotels, wine, gifts and other purchases.

"Everyone's done it like this," Núñez said of previous legislative leaders. "The difference is there are some in politics who want to judge me in a certain manner.

"Because of the fact I am Mexican, they think I have to sleep under a cactus and eat from taco stands."

I could point out the irony that while Nunez is dissing taco stands, a lot of white collar workers in Los Angeles are trying to save 'em, but even the upper-middle-class taxpayers cannot help but look askance at Nunez attempting to pass off wine parties, shopping sprees in Paris and sharing a penthouse with a powerful Democrat fundraiser as just routine and normal.
In the interview on Univision's Voz y Voto program, Núñez defended in Spanish his accommodations in fine hotels overseas.

"What's a luxury hotel? A stay at a Sheraton? … I am, you could say, like a head of state. I'm the leader of the Assembly of the state of California. Where am I supposed to sleep?"

Núñez's spending became a target last year in the campaign against Proposition 93, which would have altered term limits and allowed him to serve as Assembly leader an extra six years.

"The only thing that really results out of this is that groups that don't like Latinos use this as a weapon to inflame anti-Mexican, anti-Latino politics," he said.

As George M. Cohan once said, Always leave them laughing when you say goodbye.

Thanks, Fabian, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Posted by Darleen at 10:10 AM | Comments (687)

May 14, 2008

Democrat long knives

Democrats don't even try anymore to hide their contempt of people who are successful.

House Democrats are proposing a tax surcharge on millionaires to pay for a big increase in education benefits for veterans of the war in Iraq, lawmakers said Tuesday. [...]

What we're talking about is a one-half percent income tax surcharge on incomes above $1 million," said Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., a leader of the Blue Dog group. "So someone who earns $2 million a year would pay $5,000. ... They're not going to miss it."

The $1 million income level would apply to couples. Individuals would pay the surcharge on income exceeding $500,000.

The idea earned support from House leaders at a late afternoon meeting of top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. [...]

... the development allows House Democrats to keep promises to adhere to pay-as-you-go budget rules that were a top campaign plank in 2006.

The usual justification that pops out of a shoplifter's piehole, "hey, it's not like the store is going to miss it. They're rich enough."

Mike Ross has the morals of a thug.

From each according to his ability ...

Posted by Darleen at 06:38 AM | Comments (572)

May 09, 2008

Will work for taxes

More Californication

As state leaders hunt for politically palatable solutions to the swelling budget shortfall, some Democrats are proposing unorthodox ways to generate cash. [...]

Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello), chairman of the Revenue and Taxation Committee [... ] has proposed some of the Legislature's more unconventional measures, including taxes on digital downloads and adult entertainment. [...]

Calderon said he was moved to push for levies on downloads such as iTunes because state sales tax laws do not reflect the high volume of purchasing that Californians do online. Consumers can download music from the Internet through Apple's iTunes and other services tax-free, Calderon noted, while they pay sales tax for buying the same music on a compact disc at a store.

His proposal would empower state authorities to collect sales tax on the downloads, increasing the cost of a typical 99-cent song to roughly $1.07. Calderon projects that the bill (AB 1956), which could also apply to pornography downloads, cellphone ring-tones, online books and feature films distributed on the Internet, would raise about $500 million for the state budget. [...]

Calderon said the resistance to his bill did not surprise him. But he is perplexed that he hasn't been able to get more traction for another proposal: a 25% tax on sex toys, strip shows, pornographic magazines and videos and anything else sold in an "adult entertainment venue." [...]

Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles) is targeting a wider group of consumers. Almost every Californian would bear some of the brunt of his proposal to charge a 25-cent tax on every plastic carryout bag from stores. [...]

"A person is going to think carefully before spending a quarter to get a bag," Davis said. [...]

AB 2388 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) would place a surcharge on vehicles based on their weight and the amount of carbon dioxide they emit. Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose) wants to collect new fees from drivers of luxury vehicles that get less than 15 miles per gallon. His bill is AB 2638.

But Mike Davis is quick to prove California's socialists Democrats aren't just about tax levying. They are there to help out your poor, suffering grandparents, too.
Davis says he knows people are suffering financially and has proposed a property tax break for low-income seniors. There's a catch: The proposal (AB 2459) would require seniors to "work off" their taxes in county offices, doing such jobs as gardening, record filing or data entry.

So the next time you walk into a state office, court or the DMV and see grandma on the other side of the counter balancing a stack of files on her walker, remember Mike Davis and the true face of Democrat fairness.

Yeah, baby.

Posted by Darleen at 06:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2008

All your carz belong ...

"It's for your own good" is the sincere, if often times wrong-headed, excuse for creeping Nannystatism. A minor kerfuffle has kicked up with the use of Lindsay Lohan's mugshot in an American Beverage Association Institute ad in USA Today opposing the broadening use of ignition interlock devices ("breathalizers" in cars that drivers must use, and pass, before the car will turn on).

The full-page black-and-white ad appeared in USA Today on Friday and was paid for by the American Beverage Institute, a trade group that supports the interests of the alcohol industry. The ad reads "Ignition interlocks are a good idea for" above Lohan's mug shot from her July 24, 2007 arrest and "But a bad idea for us" above smaller photos of people drinking.

Ms. Lohan's spokeshole whined about USA Today's irresponsibility in running such an ad on May 2nd "suggesting that drinking and driving is some kind of American 'tradition' we should protect" yet the ad seems more of a response to USA Today's article on April 24, reporting on the push to mandate IID for all first-time DUI offenders and eventually as standard equipment on all cars
New York state legislators are considering requiring the devices on all cars and trucks by 2009. And automakers, already close to offering the devices as optional equipment on all Volvo and Saab models in Sweden, are considering whether to bring the technology here. [...]

The New York bill was introduced by Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who also sponsored the bill that became the first law banning the use of handheld cellphones while driving. To those who say neither the public nor the technology is ready for such a universal application, Ortiz says he heard similar complaints about the cellphone ban and hands-free technology. He compares the criticism to early complaints about mandatory safety belts.

"Slippery-slope" arguments from people concerned about encroaching Nannystatism are routinely dismissed, yet such authoritarians as Ortiz use passage of prior, ostensibly reasonable measures, as justification for dismissing current concerns and precedent for current advocacy.
For automakers, anything that keeps a car from starting sounds too much like the public relations nightmare that came out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 1973 decision to require devices that would prevent cars from starting if seat belts weren't buckled. After a huge public outcry and widespread disconnections, Congress passed a law the following year prohibiting NHTSA from requiring seat belt interlocks or warning buzzers lasting more than eight seconds.

Some critics say alcohol-related interlocks would be even more problematic than seat belt interlocks because about 40% of adults say they don't drink at all. MADD's Hurley says most people don't steal or have their cars stolen, but keys still have built-in anti-theft technology.

[Assemblyman Felix] Ortiz agrees: "This is a tool that will save lives. We have to stop putting parameters on it."

But does it "save lives?" How effective is the IID? Money quote:
The results of these studies have been mixed, although most of the results suggested that IIDs have reduced DUI reoccurrences in offenders. That’s only if the instrument remains in the car. However, once the IID is removed from the car, the chances of another DUI incident occurring goes back up. This suggests that IIDs are not going to actually change people’s behavior. It only prevents them from driving their own car when they’re drunk. They’re going to continue to drink whether or not the instrument is installed.

And there's the rub busybodies like Ortiz miss (or ignore).

Most first-time, low-level (.08-.1) DUI offenders are going to be mortified and they will change their behavior -- i.e. doubling down on making sure never to drive even if they have had one drink. The multiple offenders, or those that are caught with very high BAC are people who are alcoholics, people who already have a problem with alcohol that even an IID is not going to "fix" even as it protects others from them. Those are the people who are and should be the target of IID technology and have it made a permanent part of their driving privileges.

I dare say I've seen more DUI police reports than Mr. Ortiz and I opine that his (and other universal IID advocates) are less driven by "safety for all" than by a desire to demonize even social drinking.

I realized just how much even mild social drinking as been frowned upon in American culture when, on a trip to France, I found myself mildly scandalized seeing people having a glass of wine with lunch on a workday. There is no American business today whose HR department doesn't have a "zero-tolerance" policy to any alcohol consumption during work hours. Even public schools are into monitoring student behavior even when the student isn't on campus.

The more intrusive and controlling the law, then less commitment to personal responsibility.

Because we are teh victims!

**Please let me apologize for mis-identifying the sponsor of the ad in question

Posted by Darleen at 01:33 PM | Comments (7)