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Monday, December 29, 2003

 
More Terrorism Idiocy According to an article appearing on AP on Monday, people carrying almanacs now are considered potential terrorists.

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning. In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning." It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways. "The practice of researching potential targets is consistent with known methods of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations that seek to maximize the likelihood of operational success through careful planning," the FBI wrote.
When the FBI starts issuing bulletins like this one, it really makes me wonder whether the people charged with managing the so-called “war on terror” have any active brain cells at all. There are so many potential uses for almanacs that a blanket alert such as this can serve no useful purpose. How many millions of almanacs are sold in the U.S. each year? And is the information provided in almanacs really that useful to potential terrorists? I mean, I realize that the “Farmer’s Almanac” includes lists of the “best days” to engage in various types of activities. For example, according to the “Farmer’s Almanac”, December 1, 2, 17, 18, 21, 22, and 25-29 are the best days to cut your hair, and December 1, 2, and 21-29 are the best days to castrate farm animals. But to my knowledge, the Almanac includes no categories such as “the best day to carry out a suicide bombing”. Does everyone who happens to carry an almanac around in their car, or have one in their home, now have to worry about being harassed by overzealous law enforcement agents? More importantly, does this kind of an alert actually do anything concrete to make anyone safer from potential acts of terrorism?

posted by gunther at 3:19 PM Link

Friday, December 19, 2003

 
Heartwarming Stories of the Week From Ananova.com, here are this week’s most heartwarming stories: An incapacitated 86-year old lady is recovering after being chewed on by her cats for a week.

A Californian stroke victim is recovering in hospital after being chewed on by her cats. Mae Lowrie, from Panorama City, was found lying on the floor of her apartment after the alarm was raised by concerned neighbours. The 86-year-old may have been incapacitated for a week, and it's possible the animals bit into her because they were starving. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells said the woman had bites on her hands and feet. Her small, sick terrier also had been attacked. It's believed she had seven cats, reports the Los Angeles Times. Neighbours said Lowrie had lived alone for about 20 years. They became worried about her after noticing that she hadn't picked up a bag of goods on her doorstep for a number of days.
In Osaka, Japan, a man’s dead body lingered on a busy street corner for two months in one of the busiest areas of the city.
Police in Japan say a man's dead body was ignored by crowds on a busy street corner for two months. The body was found in front of a popular department store in the crowded downtown area of Osaka, Japan's second-largest city. It is believed to be that of a homeless man in his late 60s or early 70s and was only removed after a taxi driver finally alerted authorities. A police spokesman said it was partially decomposed by the time authorities collected it earlier this month. The corner is among the busiest in the city, with about a million people passing through the area each day. The spokesman said the cause of death had not been determined, but foul play was not suspected.
And finally, the commander of a U.S. military base near Southampton, U.K. has a unique way of instilling the holiday spirit in his troops.
The commander of a US base near Southampton has warned staff they face disciplinary action if they miss their Christmas party. Commander Raymond Langlais wrote to the 200-strong workforce, all but three of whom are British, saying they'll lose pay if they miss the party tonight. ….In a memo to staff, he wrote: "If you feel like I am trying to force FUN upon you, then you are correct." He added: "Let me make it clear that every employee's duty on December 19 is the Base Christmas Party. All employees not on approved leave will participate in the party." He said those who didn't attend "will be considered absent, will receive no pay and are subject to disciplinary measures", reports the Daily Telegraph.


posted by gunther at 3:20 PM Link

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

 
Texas Republicans Versus The ADA In the world of conservative Republicans, it often seems as if the “golden rule” that they follow is not, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, but “Do as we say, not as we do”. The latest installment of this sordid legacy of hypocrisy has just been brought to my attention by a helpful friend who sent me an email about this story. Apparently, Texas Attorney general Greg Abbott is suing to allow the State government to be exempted from Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to a story in the Austin American Statesman, Abbott is trying to have the ADA provision requiring State entities adhere to Title II declared unconstitutional.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wants the courts to strike down a 1990 federal law that requires public buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities. Abbott's staff of state lawyers is fighting the Americans with Disabilities Act, saying the section of the law that prohibits public entities from discriminating against people with disabilities, Title II, is unconstitutional. The case stems from a class-action lawsuit filed by two advocacy groups over waiting lists for services but could ultimately affect other areas, including government services and the requirement that public buildings be accessible. Ted Cruz, solicitor general for the attorney general's office, said Abbott is trying to protect the state's interests and limited economic resources. Abbott's office is not challenging the part of the act that bars discrimination by private entities. "Our argument is that Congress lacks the authority to dictate how states operate," Cruz said. "The attorney general has a constitutional duty to defend the State of Texas. That's the oath General Abbott took." …The disabilities act provides comprehensive civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, government services and tele- communications. …Texas' debate began in September 2002, when Arc of Texas and Advocacy Inc. filed a class action against the state. Their complaint: Texas did not provide community-based services to enough people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities. More than 25,000 people have been waiting years for services such as respite, rehabilitation and group home care. "We're talking about basic needs," said Mike Bright, executive director of the Arc of Texas. In their lawsuit, the groups ask that the state be forced to expand services for disabled people. No one knows how much that will cost. "That's the $64,000 question," said Garth Corbett, lawyer for Advocacy Inc. Although the case specifically targets the waiting lists, the attorney general's defense -- that Title II is unconstitutional -- could leave disabled Texans in the hands of state law, which advocates say offers narrower protections than the federal disabilities act and which does not allow individuals to sue over violations of the act.
Abbott himself is confined to a wheelchair, but check out these passages from later in the same article:
…In 1995, Abbott lauded the act after the Civil Rights Project settled a lawsuit to make the Texas Supreme Court Building accessible to disabled people. After Abbott's appointment [to the Supreme Court] the building was renovated. "It is kind of ironic that the Supreme Court Building, the gatekeeper of the law, had to be sued," Abbott told the Austin American-Statesman at that time. "Unfortunately, there are occasions where you do have recalcitrant business owners or entities that do not understand the requirements of the ADA, or, even worse, who do understand the requirements of the ADA and refuse to comply despite attempts at negotiations. And in those circumstances, a lawsuit is certainly warranted." In 1996, commenting on a Civil Rights Project report that showed that many Texas courthouses were not accessible, Abbott told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that it was "appalling but not surprising." In July 1999, Abbott suggested that the Civil Rights Project file suit after he could not gain access to a Houston hotel, Harrington said. Abbott's spokeswoman, Angela Hale, says the two scenarios are totally different.
As should be noted in the story, the original lawsuits that prompted this decision by the AG this aren’t a case of advocates for the disabled trying to get wheelchair ramps installed in public buildings. Such access is pretty much the norm now. Rather, the case stems from the fact that access to special services for the disabled in Texas suffer from obscenely long waiting lists. If you have a child with severe mental retardation, autism, or some other problem, for example, possibly one with severe behavioral management issues, you have a waiting list of maybe 5 or 6 years to get into a group home or facility where appropriate care and treatment might be available. Solving this problem is not going to be easy, nor will it be cheap. So rather than spend the money necessary, the AG’s office is arguing that Title II should not apply to state governments, and that they, but not private entities, should be exempt from it. Note especially in the article Abbott’s earlier quotes when it came to lawsuits that directly affected him. First, when the Texas Supreme Court building was forced to provide access ramps, conveniently just before he joined the court, and later when he could not get access to a Houston hotel. In itself, this would be a rather hypocritical and self-serving strategy on the part of Abbott and his ilk, but the background on Abbott shows what utter sleazebags these guys are. Abbott has been described by one commentator as a corporate judicial hack and tort-tycoon-hypocrite, which is a fairly accurate analysis. Abbott uses a wheelchair because a tree fell on him when he was jogging as a young man. Subsequent to the accident, he sued the tree’s owner and a company that had inspected it. He obtained a tax-free settlement that made him a millionaire, and may eventually receive as much as $10.3 million. The irony of this is that later in life, when Abbott was running for Attorney General, he based his campaign in large part on a platform of criticizing greedy trial lawyers, and advocating limits on court awards in some civil damage cases. While accusing his opponent for AG of raking in millions in medical malpractice suits and of abusing the system, Abbott said at the time that his own case was a “justified claim.” During his run for AG, Abbott had to deal with questions concerning his previous work with the law firm Bracewell & Patterson, which had earned hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for Enron, just then in the throes of bankruptcy. Abbott also had to return $12,600 Enron-related contributions he had received for his earlier Supreme Court races. (see also here). His Supreme Court campaigns were directed by none other than Karl Rove. Abbott was also in the news earlier this year during the months long struggle over redistricting. When Department of Public Safety was sued to prevent it from destroying documents concerning the pursuit of absent Democratic Senators, Abbott was criticized for being more interested in finding the whistle blower than in preventing the document’s destruction. He also tried to block legal depositions from three DPS officers and a Texas Ranger. So, the lessons are; it’s OK for Republicans to gain millions in civil suits after they are injured, but it's not OK for others to do the same. It’s OK for disabled people to sue the State as long as Republican Judges stand to gain, but it’s not OK for ‘ordinary’ disabled people to sue the State when they are being discriminated against.

posted by gunther at 4:03 PM Link

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

 
Parody or Travesty? You decide Tbogg, for those of you who haven’t yet visited his site, is a veritable cornucopia of humor and general snarkiness, most if not all with a leftish flavor. Today the site features a link to this site to Objective: Christian Ministries. The site leaves Tbogg “…speechless. And amused. And appalled”. That pretty much summed it up for me, too. However, there’s a bit of a mystery involved, namely whether the site is real or not. First the details. Among the highlights of the “Objective: Christian Ministries” site are this suggestion for children, on “how to treat an athiest”.

If you find an Atheist in your neighborhood, TELL A PARENT OR PASTOR RIGHT AWAY! You may be moved to try and witness to these poor lost souls yourself, however AVOID TALKING TO THEM! Atheists are often very grumpy and bitter and will lash out at children or they may even try to trick you into neglecting God's Word. Very advanced witnessing techniques are needed for these grouches. Let the adults handle them.
There’s a lot more, also summarized by Tbogg, but it’s well worth checking out. Personally, I was more curious to find out about Lambuel’s friend Peggy, so I clicked on this, which took me to a page describing some of the people working in this particular ministry. Apparently they are a bit upset about something called “Americhrist Ltd.” (more about that later). The background of some of them is quite colorful.
Jim Carlson: Jim is the creator and maintainer of the OBJECTIVE: Landover Baptist Shutdown website, providing our movement with an Internet presence and witness portal for the unsaved Web surfers… Dr. Andrew Miller: The Pastor of Mt. Fellowship Baptist. …has the uncanny ability to inspire and empower his congregation with his fiery sermon stylings and preternatural exegesics. [Time for the thesaurus! “exegesis: n. explanation, especially of Bible.”] Timothy Allmon: Treasurer, … As an accountant, he has to deal daily with the soulless secular world and so he takes great pleasure in putting his knowledge of accountancy to use in the righteous cause of Our Lord. If you ever need your taxes filed, come see Tim. He gives a 5% discount for all Christians and 10% discount for non-Christians willing to convert on the spot.. Dr. Richard Paley: comes to our movement through his involvement in fighting other forms of anti-Christian hatecrimes. He has lead successful boycotts against Sears and Piggly-Wiggly… Dr. Troy Franklin: has built a career around researching the occult and its attempts to destroy Christianity. Considered one of the foremost in the new school of Baptist demon exorcism specialists, Dr. Franklin has battled Satan up close and personal on many occasions, yet he always manages to come through unscathed thanks to the power of Christ. "Diamond" Jack Holgroth: is a Game Theoretician. Jack … enjoys vexillology and can signal Bible passages from memory in fluent semaphore. Wendy Tullar: works as a Consumer Rehabilitator and Mall Missionary …; was personally responsible for the removal of cursing Sesame Street dolls from toy stores nationwide in 1998. Kyle Goldman: Kyle started out hating Christians. He listened to anti-Christian music, played violent video games, and created a website attacking various Christian organizations while praising the work of Chris Harper [see below]. Kyle was a troubled boy. However, this all changed when he found Jesus. Since then he has gotten himself cleaned up, has started listening to Christian rock, and is now a respectable looking young lad. His parents - being Jewish - were hesitant to accept his new found faith, but they do consider it better that Kyle is now following Jesus instead of Marilyn Manson… Fred “Skeet” Hoskins”: Fred is a valuable member of the Mt. Fellowship Baptist congregation as well as having his own youth ministry rock band: Zounds!. He was recently appointed Abstinence Czar by the Fellowship Baptist Convention. [From the Zounds! page: ”We offer Totally Radical Salvation for today's totally radical kids!”]
All of this is wonderfully amusing for those of us who delight in the bizarre excesses of some religious types. The site, including the personnel descriptions, almost reads as a parody of Christians. So good a parody, in fact, that it’s worth checking into exactly who this “Chris Harper” character is. Chris Harper is the person behind Landover Baptist Church, a rather elaborate parody of a Christian website. The attacks on Carter and Landover featured in the OCM site may be entirely serious, but it has occurred to a number of people out there that the OCM site itself may be a parody. See this site or this one or this one. This site in particular makes me lean towards deciding that OCM is itself, in fact, a parody. But a good, subtle one. I mean we’re really into Andy Kaufman territory here now. If OCM is a parody, you have to wonder whether it’s intended target is the Christians it objectively appears to be mock, or the non-Christians who assume that it’s over the top references actually represent the thoughts of real people. [I see that even Tbogg has acknowledged this possibility in his latest update]

posted by gunther at 10:53 AM Link

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

 
An Email From David Bereit In the aftermath of last week's events surrounding the pro-life rally in Houston I posted a couple of brief pieces, the main one of which summarized my thoughts on the evening. Since I am not in the habit of checking my email I only noticed after the weekend that I had subsequently received an email from David Bereit. I also received an anonymous one asking me if I wanted to get to know Paris Hilton. After much reflection on which one I should read first, I opted for the Bereit message. I have no immediate desire to start up a mutual correspondence with him, but I thought that his comments might be of interest to those of you out there who have been following my minor obsession with the ongoing events in Austin. I've posted it in it's entirety, not with the implication that I endorse or agree with anything included in the letter (except, of course, where it reflects well on myself), but simply to have a public record. I plan on ignoring it for at least a couple of days before deciding whether there's anything in it that I'd like to comment on myself, either to him directly or using this venue. Your comments and opinions on his piece are welcome.

Dear Gunther, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for the SECOND posting on your blog today... (OK, I have to be honest- I wasn't thrilled with the tone of the first one, but then I realized the time it was sent: 2 AM. I got home around that time last night as well, and would not want to think about what I would write at that late hour. I'll move on without further comment!) I really appreciate that you shared your feelings and thoughts openly and honestly in the second posting. To be frank, some of your comments were more charitable than I would have expected. Thank you for saying what you did about me as a speaker. I realize that the content of the talk differed from your personal views, and as such, I was humbled by your comments about my delivery. I also want to ask your forgiveness for one thing. I did not really plan to discuss you and your blog, so I did not measure my words as carefully as other parts of my presentation. As a result, when I made the "hypocritical" comment, it obviously came across to you differently than I would have wanted. I meant to communicate that it appeared like a double standard to me (and I am obviously biased), but I meant to separate that from you as a person. I did not in any way mean to insinuate that you were a hypocrite, though it is clear that my comments were interpreted that way by you. I hope that you will forgive me for those words. Also, we videotaped the entire event and plan to make it available to anyone who wants it. Please let me know if you would like a copy (free of charge) to quote directly from rather than paraphrasing. It will probably be available in a couple of weeks. Sorry that I didn't give the website address for your blog last night to help with traffic. Let me know if you ever want to come to another one of our events in the future, and maybe I'll get another opportunity to put in a plug for you! :) As a last thought, I wanted to respond to a recurring theme from your postings... Unfortunately, some people who are opposed to abortion have used tactics that I (and the Coalition for Life) do not in any way condone. As an organization, we have tried to use our small platform to encourage people to only respond to abortion through peaceful, and legal means. Any time there has been an act of violence or threat against an abortion facility or a person involved with abortion, we have publicly condemned it via press releases, e-mails to our listserv, and letters to the editor. (I would be happy to forward any of those along to you to read, if you wish.) We have also spoken out on numerous occasions in large public venues against some of the other troubling tactics described in your postings, encouraging people to instead choose "the high road." There are many accusations that abortion advocates have circulated about our organization and about me personally. Many of them have been false, others exaggerated or twisted. I recognize that that comes with the territory. But it also causes me to continue to evaluate myself and how I can do a better job at what I do so that their are no misunderstandings about our efforts or intents. Your postings have helped me to do just that, and I thank you for that. I realize that some people may disagree with what we stand for, but I want to do a better job at communicating what we will NOT stand for. Personally, I am a big fan of Martin Luther King, Jr. and have always been impressed that he didn't just identify an injustice, he took the next step to encourage people to only use nonviolent means to combat segregation, disparity in voting rights, etc. Unfortunately some people who became aware of the problems of that day opted to use hatred and violence. But King always preached that there was a better way. I feel very strongly that whenever I speak out about the abortion issue, I need to challenge pro-lifers to act with peace and prayer. I can't control everyone, but I can keep preaching the recurring theme that there is a better way, and hopefully people will listen. I'm not perfect, and I do make mistakes, but I will continue to work on doing even more to channel people's energies in a positive way. Gunther, you and I obviously differ on the issue of abortion, and I won't try to change your mind. But I again want to thank you for expressing your thoughts with clarity and passion, and for helping me to be a better person. Have a great weekend! David Bereit Executive Director


posted by gunther at 7:28 PM Link

 
Challenging Sauron Charles Kuffner has an interesting interview with a Houston area environmental lawyer named Richard Morrison, who is planning on challenging Tom Delay for his congressional seat next fall. The tentative run is contingent on the outcome of the legal challenge to the Texas redistricting plan; if the new districts are upheld, it is likely that one of the Democrats displaced by redistricting will challenge DeLay. But if the plan is rejected, or an injunction keeps it from being enforced until after next year’s election, Morrison plans on running. Morrison seems to be, at least at this stage, taking a smart course by challenging DeLay primarily on the basis of local issues. If he can get the message across that DeLay has abandoned the area he is supposed to be representing, and that he isn’t effectively serving the local community’s interests, there might be some hope for an upset. The traffic situation in particular, and Delay’s legendary opposition to light rail as an alternative to building more highways, has the potential of revealing some deep-seated grass-roots level dissatisfaction with the Dark Lord.

posted by gunther at 9:49 AM Link

Monday, December 08, 2003

 
Yikes This story got my attention this morning.

An autopsy has determined a Winnipeg disc jockey who disappeared more than a year ago crawled behind the wall of a city nightclub, got stuck and choked to death. But police say they have no idea how 21-year-old Eduardo Sanchez got behind the wall in the club's basement. His body was discovered late Wednesday after police acted on rumours of a suspicious odour.
A different article about the same story provides the following unappealing detail:
This week, police found the mummified body of Eduardo Sanchez entombed behind a wall in the basement of the popular nightclub, 14 months after he was last seen alive. Police were called back to the nightclub -- the last place Mr. Sanchez was seen alive -- when neighbours complained about a foul odour coming from the Village Cabaret. If not for a recent citywide ban on smoking in bars, investigators said, they might never have found the body. Neighbours of the club, in a trendy downtown Winnipeg neighbourhood, said they noticed the foul smell more than a year ago, but put it down to spilled beer and stale cigarette smoke.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think that if your bar is so dirty that the patrons can’t tell that there’s a rotting human carcass on the premises, it might be time for a cleanup.

posted by gunther at 1:12 PM Link

 
Is Texas Becoming Too Liberal? The Free Republic message boards are speaking up on the results of Saturday’s mayoral election in Houston. Democratic candidate Bill White defeated Orlando Sanchez by 62% to 38%. In between a lot of discussion about the relative impact of Sanchez’s Cuban heritage and the possible impact that may have had, there were a few comments such as these:

- First off, let's be clear on this.....Mayor-Elect Bill White is a "TRIAL ATTORNEY" (aka Ambulance Chaser) as well as the former Head Of the DemocRAT Party of Tejas (opps! Texas!). Hardly qualified to call himself a "businessman". - I had already made plans to move out of the state of Texas, but, now I am really happy to see that day grow close. The Houston area (as well as Austin) is being overtaken by SOCIALIST SCUM and I pity the poor slobs that decide to either stay her, or move here. All that I can suggest, is to (1) learn Spanish, and (2) lock your wallets and or valuables up nice and tight. - Sigh, another city to avoid travelling to. And that's too bad, I remember some great friends and good times in Houston.
Wow. It’s more than a little disconcerting that there are people out there who are ready to move out of Texas because they think it's not conservative enough. I guess having a Republican Governor, control of both state legislatures, two Republican senators, and a gerrymandered congressional delegation favoring Republicans just isn’t enough for some people. Might I suggest Mississippi? There’s no point living in a state that’s ranked 43rd in child poverty when you can live in one that’s ranked 50th!

posted by gunther at 11:53 AM Link

Friday, December 05, 2003

 
Houston Rally for Life: or, How I Almost Came to Believe in the Power of God Rule No. 1: Do not announce on your pseudonymous blog that you will be attending and videotaping a pro-life rally, and then proceed to show up and be the only person in the audience with a video camera. More on that later. Well, the big rally for life tour wound itself up in Houston yesterday evening, and yours truly was there as had been previously announced. There were no fireworks, unlike the case apparently in the Austin rally, where pro-choice protesters attempted to disrupt the proceedings. Seeing everyone I’d been reading about up-close and personal was certainly an interesting experience. It wasn’t quite the Nuremburg rally I had been expecting, but all the same it was an experience that I’d just as soon not repeat any time soon. The audience of about 140 had a fairly broad distribution of ages, and was split about 50:50 between men and women. There were lots of people with babies, including one couple with twins who I would say were about 6 months old (the babies, not the couple). The thing I noticed about them was that even though they were so young, they had stereotypical clothing on them. I mean, the full getup. Boy dressed entirely in blue, with a baseball cap on backwards, girl dressed entirely in pink with a big ribbon and some kind of a pom-pom on top of her head. Obviously the parents are trying to reinforce the respective gender roles right from the get go. There were a fair number of somewhat hip looking kids in attendance (“hip” for this particular audience being a decidedly relative term). Basically college age. I first thought that maybe (yes! yes!) they might be affiliated with some pro-choice activist group, and that perhaps I'd get to tape Chris Danze or Jim Sedlak getting pied in the face. Either that or they’d chain themselves to the podium and chant “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!” until security hauled them away. That at least would have been entertaining. Sadly, they were all pro-lifers, and in fact were some of the most enthusiastic of those in attendance. The crowd was pretty much entirely white; before the event started I was starting to wonder whether I’d wandered into an ice hockey game by mistake. I saw one Asian woman and there were another couple of people who may have been Hispanic, but other than that it was pretty homogenous. The opening speaker was Jim Sedlak, of Stop Planned Parenting (STOPP) and the American Life League (ALL). He spent about 35 minutes attacking Planned Parenthood, but basically his speech was all about sex. Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex, Sex. And more sex. The gist of his diatribe was that PP is trying to replace religion and spirituality with secular humanism, which means that illicit sex and promiscuity are infesting society. This is against God’s law and must be stopped. There was the usual tripe about PP being a racist organization with a hidden agenda, but during his entire speech I swear I didn’t hear a single word about the sanctity of life. To listen to his talk, the entire rally could have been about protesting sex education in schools, not ending abortion. Chris Danze would later describe Sedlak as “Planned Parenthood’s worst nightmare”. Chris Danze spoke next. While he was obviously less practiced than Sedlak, who does this kind of thing for a living, Danze struck me as more effective because his speech seemed less practiced and more direct. He is not a flashy type, and it’s easy to see why he comes across as a straight shooter. He recounted a number of stories about how individual contractors who had been working on the PP site came to join the boycott. The gist of it being that they looked at how much money they stood to make from the PP job, and how much they stood to lose over the next 10 to 15 years if they got blacklisted. They did the math and the decision was easy. At one point in the talk, Danze told the audience, “You know what my preferred weapon is in this battle?” With that he pulled out a string of rosary beads and held it aloft. So rosary beads, prayer, is the weapon that has helped them in their battle against PP. That, plus a prominent position in the local construction industry, and a good rolodex. He made no bones about how unpopular this thing has made him, but said “We’ve been called to serve, we haven’t been called to be popular”. The final speaker was David Bereit of Coalition for Life. I have to say that he was quite an impressive speaker, and may well have a national platform some day, as Chris Danze said that he should during his speech. He described a litany of some recent successes against PP in Texas, and painted Texas as ground zero in the battle over abortion. Success or failure against PP in Texas would determine the fate of the anti-abortion struggle in the whole country, according to Bereit. Which brings me to the title of today’s post. Towards the end of his talk, in a section talking about how difficult the struggle against PP would be, Bereit said something to the effect of the following:

“Everyone’s familiar with the internet. Have you heard of these things called “blogs”? Well, I’ve come across some and there’s one guy that has one that’s been really attacking Chris [Danze] and myself on his. Just slamming him. And you know what, he criticizes Chris for the boycott, and calling people up, and do you know what his solution is? He posted Chris’s phone number on his site, and he encouraged people to call him up! How hypocritical is that? He also has my phone number on there too, and my wife got one nasty phone call….”
At this point my ears pricked up. It had been a long evening, and by this time in the proceedings I was wishing that I could just lie down somewhere and rest. I thought, “I’m almost sort of famous!” What Bereit said next nearly floored me:
“And you know, he’s in this room tonight. And he’s been trying to videotape what’s going on here, having some problems with his camera, but he’s here. And what’s our response to this? Our response to all of our enemies is love. “[at which point people applauded]
I was busted. Two thoughts went through my mind in quick succession. I remember thinking, “Wow, how did they do that? How is it possible for them to identify me, and to know who I am? Do they have some type of super spy network or something?” This paranoia was immediately replaced by an alternative theory. For one brief instant, I wondered to myself whether I was wrong and they were right. Perhaps there was some type of divine intervention in this. Perhaps David Bereit got a sign from God telling him I was there and identifying me. Perhaps a tongue of flame appeared over my head, or else some disembodied hand pointed a finger at me. Might they actually have a hot-line to the guy upstairs, who was helping them in their struggle, in which case I’d have to reassess my thinking? Then it occurred to me, “You schmuck. He was just talking about your blog. He’s read it. You said that you [Gunther] were coming here and were going to tape the rally. You put that on your website, the one he just said he was reading. Look around. Do you see any other cameras here? NO. That’s how he knows who you are, idiot. That, and it probably didn’t help that you haven’t joined in the applause once, or that you were the only one who didn’t join in the standing ovation for Chris Danze. You don’t have to assume that some type of spiritual guidance played any role in this. You’re just an idiot”. My belief in secular humanism restored, I watched the remainder of the proceedings in a slightly more comforted frame of mind. I mentioned earlier that the crowd was virtually entirely white. Despite this demographic, a striking number of references were made to the issue of racism during the evening. In Sedlak’s talk, it concerned the alleged racist history and agenda of PP. In David Bereit’s talk, he compared Chris Danze to Rosa Parks. Given the whiteness of the audience, this concern with civil rights for minorities was rather surprising, especially considering the connections that many in the anti-choice movement have to extremist organizations with racist beliefs themselves. Since David Bereit saw fit to publicly accuse me of hypocrisy for posting contact information for those involved in the boycott, I’ll take this opportunity to clarify my position. Let me say first that I’d prefer it if Danze would call off the boycott efforts. Since he’s apparently not inclined to so, the question then becomes how to respond to it. I don’t think it’s hypocritical to believe that a tactic employed by the anti-choice side is cheap and low, but at the same time be prepared to use the same methods against them. That’s just common sense. If someone punches me in the nose during an argument, it’s perfectly reasonable for me to say that they’ve crossed the line. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t defend myself using as much force as necessary. And while we’re on the topic of hypocrisy, my previous posting makes it clear that there’s ample circumstantial evidence implicating supporters of Bereit’s “Coalition for Life” group as being responsible for harassing and threatening PP clinic workers. So public claims from him that the anti-choice movement rejects violence, threats or intimidation as tactics ring pretty hollow. The thing to remember about David Bereit is that he used to be a salesman for pharmaceuticals. I had a (mercifully) brief and unsuccessful career in sales a few years back. The one thing that I learned during that period was that the only job that a salesman has is getting other people to give him their money, using any means necessary short of pulling out a gun. A good salesman uses lot’s of mind games, lies and acting. I knew one guy who could cry on cue, and was able to get a number of sales in this manner, by convincing unsuspecting old ladies that he would be in dire straits if his sales didn’t pick up. I’ve seen enough motivational talks from those types to last me a lifetime, and what I saw from Bereit last night wasn’t any different. Only instead of motivating people to go out and sell $2000 vacuum cleaners to retirees who live in uncarpeted one room apartments, he was motivating people to go out and shut down Planned Parenthood. [David – Since you apparently don’t work for a living and have time to cruise the internet, I assume you’ll come across this sooner or later. Thanks for mentioning me during your talk. But the least you could have done was mention my website’s name; I could certainly use the hits. The meager number of phone calls that you and Danze have been getting are solely due to the relatively low profile of my efforts in this regard. Here’s hoping the count goes up in the future.] Continuing on the topic of hypocrisy, earlier this week I had a brief but civil exchange with Sheri Danze in the comments section of another website, which will go unnamed. I was interested in probing how she felt about a number of issues, and at one point asked what her opinion was of people who post pictures, videos, or identifying information about abortion clinic staff on the internet, or around town. Her response was basically that if people were embarrassed to have the fact that they worked at an abortion clinic publicized, then they should find a more respectable line of work. Is this attitude hypocritical? You be the judge. In this day and age, clinic workers have legitimate fears about the possible consequences of having information about themselves distributed in this manner. Pro-lifers who fail to recognize this are either in complete denial about the tactics used by some on their side, or else they implicitly endorse them. I came away from the night’s event with mixed feelings about how this is all going to play out. The anti-choice side is well organized and extremely motivated. A reasonable conclusion is that the strategies and tactics used by the pro-choice side need to undergo a serious reevaluation if they are going to be able to withstand the efforts of these people. But what does this entail? There’s a scene in “Apocalypse Now” where Marlon Brando, as Colonel Kurtz, is explaining why he became a renegade and began to use military tactics that the brass in the Pentagon thought went over the line. He said that years before, he had been a military adviser, and that a team had visited a village to inoculate all of the young children. After leaving the village some time later, an old man ran and caught up with them, tears streaming down his face, begging the Americans to return to the village. Kurtz returned to learn that after the advisers had left, the Viet Cong had come into the village and hacked off the arm of every child who had been inoculated. Kurtz saw a pile of small arms sitting on the ground. With this, he had a sudden insight, “Like a diamond bullet into my brain”, that the Viet Cong were going to win, because they were stronger. They were men with families and children of their own, yet they could do something like that, he said. I was thinking about this scene last night while driving home from the rally. The basic question is, when you are facing an enemy who is so fanatically devoted to his own side that he is willing to do just about anything to win, how do you successfully compete against him without losing part of your humanity? How can the pro-choice side compete against a movement that has as much fanatical devotion as the pro-lifers do? Is resorting to the same tactics that the anti-choice side uses something that is going to be necessary in order to defeat them? And is this something that pro-choicers would even have the stomach for? I don’t think that there are any easy answers, but after witnessing the level of intensity shown by many of the people at last night’s rally I can say that holding them off is not going to be easy. [Update 12/9/03: Apparently I was not the only pro-choicer in attendance at Thursday’s big rally. Ginger was there, as well as Charles Kuffner. Check out their sites for a pair of independent observations on how things went. This article in the Austin Chronicle also appeared in Friday with an update on the situation in Austin.]

posted by gunther at 1:11 PM Link

 
Rally For Life, Houston: Prelude I attended the big “Rally for Life” event in Houston this evening. I’ll have a full post about the evening’s events sometime tomorrow. It’s late, and I just want to say one thing: David Bereit: Fuck you. If you’re going to call me a hypocrite in public, have the decency to permit me to respond to you in that same venue. Please read the following closely:

1. Webster's 1913 Dictionary Definition:\Hyp"o*crite\, n. [F., fr. L. hypocrita, Gr. ? one who plays a part on the stage, a dissembler, feigner. See {Hypocrisy}.] One who plays a part; especially, one who, for the purpose of winning approbation of favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who simulates virtue or piety. The hypocrite's hope shall perish. --Job viii. 13. I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart. --Shak. Syn: Deceiver; pretender; cheat. See {Dissembler}. 2. Definition: [n] a person who professes beliefs and opinions that they do not hold Synonyms: dissembler, phoney, phony, pretender See Also: beguiler, charmer, cheat, cheater, deceiver, slicker, smoothie, smoothy, sweet talker, Tartufe, Tartuffe, trickster, whited sepulcher, whited sepulcher 3. Definition: one who puts on a mask and feigns himself to be what he is not; a dissembler in religion. Our Lord severely rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16). "The hypocrite's hope shall perish" (Job 8:13). The Hebrew word here rendered "hypocrite" rather means the "godless" or "profane," as it is rendered in Jer. 23:11, i.e., polluted with crimes. 4. One who plays a part; especially, one who, for the purpose of winning approbation of favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who simulates virtue or piety. "The hypocrite's hope shall perish." (Job viii. 13) "I dare swear he is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart." (Shak) Synonym: Deceiver, pretender, cheat. See Dissembler. Origin: F, fr. L. Hypocrita, Gr. One who plays a part on the stage, a dissembler, feigner. See Hypocrisy. Source: Websters Dictionary 5. Hypocrite - (n.) One who plays a part; especially, one who, for the purpose of winning approbation of favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who simulates virtue or piety.
Suits you to a tee, I think. Don’t profess to be against violence in your public statements and allow your followers to use the kind of tactics described below. Please read the following, and think about it for a bit [I’ve posted this previously]:
”With our local Planned Parenthood going full speed toward building a new clinic here in Austin, they've attracted the attention of the Pro Lifers, who seem to be concentrated in Bryan, TX, rallying around their head propagandist, David Bereit.” “Apparently last week Mr. Bereit sent an email to our local chapter requesting more information about The Choice Project (the campaign raising funds for the new clinic). My friend who works at PP admin offices received the message, which was from a B.E. Reit. Sensing something odd, my friend Googled and they soon discovered that "B.E. Reit" is actually David Bereit, an outspoken Anti-Choice activist.” “Let me share with you some of the tactics employed by these "activists." If you or someone in your car visit the PP clinic (abortions are just one of the services offered there), the Anti-Choice police will note your license plate number and send a letter to you stating that someone visited PP for an abortion (whether it is true or not). The "activists" also harass clinic employees to the tune of, "Hello, Jane Doe, we know you work at the abortion clinic. Now, we're sure you enjoy your nice life, enjoy going to First United on Sundays with your son and daughter, who attend John Doe Elementary School. We're sure you wouldn't want anything to happen..."” “Now, these are factual accounts of things that have happened, told to me by my friend who works at PP. I'm recounting them here, because these people, purporting to be doing God's work, employ the most terroristic methods of deception. I cannot believe it is God's work they're doing, and it strikes me as not only hypocritical, but pathological and criminal. It's sickening and infuriating.” So David Bereit gives false identities over the phone in order to gain access to information about the organization that is raising funds for the new clinic. Very interesting. I'm sure that all he wanted to do was send all the donors a "Thank You" note. Here is some more information concerning the activities of "Coalition for Life", the group that Bereit heads: “Seven days a week, ten hours a day, picketers line the sidewalk, trying to change hearts and minds. “What anyone passing by the squat, beige building on Twenty-ninth Street cannot see is the human drama that plays out each day inside the clinic. This is not just a place where questions of faith, conscience, and biology collide. It is also a place where a task as simple as opening the mail is done with caution. Here, the fear of violence has lingered for so long that its presence has become almost ordinary, as much a part of the fabric of life as the bulletproof vests that are casually slung over the backs of staffers' chairs. What rattles employees more than the protesters who stand at the gates is the enemy they cannot see--the people in their community who have, for four years, waged a campaign of intimidation. "Wanted" posters bearing a photograph of the clinic's doctor have been tacked to telephone poles all over town. Postcards with pictures of dismembered fetuses have been sent to clinic employees' neighbors, warning them of the "baby killer" in their midst. Nurses have been followed, volunteers harassed. Even clients have not been spared. The parents of several A&M students have learned of their daughters' abortions from postcards that arrived in the mail....” “DYANN SANTOS FIRST SAW THE "Wanted" posters as she drove to work one morning in the summer of 1999. They were hard to miss. Every time she stopped at a red light or took a right turn on her route from College Station to Bryan, a poster bearing a photo of the clinic's doctor fluttered at eye level from a street sign or a telephone pole. "Someone knew my way to work," she said. "Someone had planned this out for me to see."” “Soon her neighbors began receiving postcards. "Under current Texas law, abortion providers, like convicted sex offenders, are required by state law to register with the State," they read, listing her home address. Farther down, the tone became more informal: "Please feel free to call Dyann at [her home number] or possibly catch her in the Wal-Mart parking lot. She drives a small 1999 silver Honda with Texas Tag [her license plate number]." Dozens more postcards arrived without return addresses. One listed the "body count" Santos was responsible for and the warning "God has his own way of keeping score!" And so she took precautions. She transferred her teenage son to a private school. She took different routes home. She changed her phone number, twice. She stopped taking walks at night.” “Not all the harassment has been anonymous. Debbie McCall, the clinic's community service director, was manning a Planned Parenthood booth at an A&M health fair two years ago when a man she had never seen before ran up and threw a note at her, then disappeared into the crowd. Across the piece of paper was written one word: "Murderer." At another health fair that year, a man whom McCall had observed picketing the clinic before approached her. "I'm keeping an eye on you," he said with a grin. "You should be careful driving home down that lonely highway." McCall commutes from the town of Crockett, 72 miles away, along a two-lane road that threads through farmland. "I felt the hair stand up on the back of my neck," she recalled. Still, she had little recourse. As with the anonymous mail and the "Wanted" posters, no one had broken the law. No threats of "imminent bodily injury," as the law requires, had been made. "They go right up to the edge of the law," observed Melissa Reyna, a nurse who worked at the clinic for three years. "They keep pushing that line a little further. The concern when I worked there was that someday, someone--that one loose cannon out there--would step over the line."” Planned Parenthood believes that the coalition has either participated in the anonymous mail campaign or knows who is carrying it out. "The coalition's members stand outside the clinic and write down license plate numbers," said Dr. Elizabeth Berigan, a local internist and a member of the Planned Parenthood board. "The postcards have slowed down, but when clients used to get them, it was always a few days after they visited the clinic, at the address their cars were registered to. This isn't rocket science. If the coalition isn't sending the postcards, they're not keeping very good control over their notes."
Once again, David, fuck you.

posted by gunther at 2:00 AM Link

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

 
Worst Movies Off The Kuff and Atrios have done it, so t appears to be the trendy thing. Here is my list of the 10 worst movies I’ve seen, in no particular order. This is limited to movies I’ve actually sat through, not ones that I heard were bad but haven’t seen. Tank Girl The only thing memorable about this movie was the fact that the night I saw it, I was literally the only person in the theater. Exorcist 2: The Heretic This one had Richard Burton, James Earl Jones, and Louis Fletcher (fresh off of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), and STILL sucked. The climactic scene between good and evil was a house-destroying bit of drama between Burton and Linda Blair on a four-poster bed, and was the first time I remember laughing out loud in a movie theater. I also remember James Earl Jones spitting out a plum. Manos: The Hands of Fate. First saw this on Mystery Science Theatre. Director Hal Warren (up to the time of the film a fertilizer salesman) rented most of his equipment and rushed shots so as to return equipment before the deadline. The wife of the cinematographer remembered slinking out of the theater on the night of the movie's premiere in El Paso while the lights were still off. Can’t say I blame her. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I remember really cheesy special effects, i.e. the lava flows. Also lots of cheap thrills, e.g. eating monkey brains, bugs, etc. Seeing this movie made me first realize that Steven Spielberg just might have been more interested in making money than he was in making quality films. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians I remember thinking that this film was great fun when I was 7. It hasn’t aged well. Lambada: The Forbidden Dance Churned out during the 15 minute period in the late 80s when the Lambada was popular, this one starred the dark haired chick from "Mulholland Drive" (former Miss U.S.A.) as an Amazonian princess who goes to L.A., where she has to enter and win a Lambada contest in order to save the rain forest from an evil oil company. Man, hasn’t that plot been done to death? Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Starring the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, and a cast of thousands, including appearances by Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, and George Burns. This movie would have sucked even if there had not been a previous album by the Beatles with the same title and songs. I can do no better than to direct you to this review of the soundtrack album, which ranks it as the worst album ever made. I remember seeing this film in an old theatre that had a balcony, and I was sorely tempted to jump over the edge to end the pain. Can’t Stop the Music They should have renamed it “Can’t Stand the Music”. Starring the Village people, Valerie Perrine, Bruce Jenner, and Steve Guttenberg, in a film that even he is probably embarrassed to have been in. By the time this hit theater’s, disco was pretty much dead. Directed by “Rhoda”’s TV mother (Nancy Walker). Moulin Rouge One of the most annoying spectacles I have ever had to endure. The movie’s version of “Like a Virgin”, sung by a prancing middle aged man with sideburns, made me long for Madonna to appear and end the travesty. And if you knew how much I hated Madonna, you’d understand just how much I hated this movie. A long, loud, bad music video with not very good music. “Sheena” Starring Tanya Roberts as the Queen of the Jungle. Features Sheena riding a white horse painted with stripes to make it look like a zebra.

posted by gunther at 9:00 AM Link

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

 
Sheri Danze to Pro-Choice Protesters: “Let’s Do Lunch” Well, not exactly, but pretty close. A group affiliated with “Anti Racist Action Network” took to the streets this past weekend and staged a protest outside of the home of Chris Danze, the main organizer of the Planned Parenthood boycott in Austin. Actually, it wasn’t outside of his home, it was outside of the entrance to the gated community that he lives in. And neither Danze nor his wife was at home at the time. And only 20 people showed up. Still, it’s a start. Here’s the message sent out last Friday by “Central Texas Anti Racist Action” [the typos are in the original]:

Anti Racist Action vs. religous bigots LIVE by john brown 1:59pm Fri Nov 28 '03 (Modified on 5:07pm Mon Dec 1 '03) osowatamie@yahoo.com HOME DEMONSTATION of anti-choice and religous fundamentalists Chris and Sheri Danze.They are the mouthpieces and co-organizers of a well orchestrated campaign of intimidation to stop a Planned Parenthood facility from being built in Austin. The media has portrayed Chris as a down home contractor. He is in fact a long time anti-choice orgnanizer with his wife Sheri. They are part of the 'Gabriel Project" which is an anti-choice front for "other options" that ues intimidation and scare tactics on women and their choice on abortion. More info to come soon. Join us as we confornt them and say no to religous bigotry in Texas. Media Advisory A.R.A. TO CONFRONT RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY Demonstration of anti-choice organizer Chris Danze at his HOME Saturday November 29, 2003 2:00pm who: Central Texas Anti Racist Action, and other concerned citizens committed to supporting reproductive freedom for ALL women. what: Home demonstration at the residence of anti-choice organizers Chris and Sheri Danze at the cross streets of Navidad and Barton Creek Blvd. Great Photo opportunity. Spanish speaker will be available when: 2:00PM November 29, 2003 where: Navidad and Barton Creek Blvd. why: -To end to the harassment and intimidation of clinic staff and contracting firms in Texas. -To bring it home and make it personal in their lives as they have for others. -Give Chris and Sheri Danze a taste of their own tactics. -Increase awareness with his neighbors that they live next door to a fascist. -Show support for those in the reproductive choice field. …Central Texas A.R.A. has started this campaign because they saw the need for street actions to counter the religious right wing in Texas. The home demonstrations make the issues personal and hold the individuals accountable to their communities by not letting them hide behind institutions. These tactics have been used very effectively over the years.
The original posting was followed by a couple of comments, including, interestingly, one from Sheri Danze, Chris’s wife.
What institution are we hiding behind? by Sheri 5:07pm Mon Dec 1 '03 I find your information has some innacuracies about my husband and myself. Surely you do believe in truth. What institutions are we supposed to be hiding behind? If you are referring to the Gabriel Project there is no hiding there. We have been providing assistance and shelter for needy women of all colors and backgrounds for the last ten years. We have 3 Godchildren who are all a different race than we are. We give the moms accurate information about all of their options and they make their own decision about what to do with their pregnancy. We offer financial assistance, emotional, material and spiritual support. My husband and I don't just talk about the evil of abortion, which basically is another form of genocide which instead of assisting women in need just destroys their babies and their dignity but we put our time and resources into helping women. If you want to dialogue about it we are here. If we had been home we would have had you come in for refreshments. Glad to see you are practicing your free speech rights as are we. God Bless, Sheri Danze
There was also an article on the protest in the Daily Texan, the UT newspaper.
…"[Danze] was integral in spearheading a project to harass and intimidate contractors who were working on the new Planned Parenthood clinic," said protester Caren Panzer, a journalism senior. "This is just a reversal of his own tactics." They gave passersby pictures of Danze and his wife, along with the Danzes' contact information. Panzer said the protesters were out from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. …Central Texas Planned Parenthood Executive Director Glenda Parks said her organization was not involved in the protest, and she exchanged e-mails with protest leaders urging them not to go through with it. "We don't endorse boycotts, especially at anybody's home," Parks said. Danze, who was out of town during the protest, said he did not mind the opposition. "It's a free country, and people should exercise their freedom of speech at every opportunity," Danze said. "If I'd been around, I would have invited them into the house."
Sheri Danze’s offer to “dialogue” over “refreshments” was a nice gesture. Considering how well off the Danze’s are I’m sure there might have been some mighty good eating. It would also have been a good opportunity for the ARA people to case the joint (just kidding). On a more serious note, the “dialogue” offer is obviously meaningless. Chris Danze will be speaking at three rallies this week, sponsored by (among others) the American Life League and Life Dynamics. ALL’s motto is: “Pro Life – without exception, without compromise, without apology”. Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics envisions a world where abortion is perfectly legal, but impossible to obtain. It’s hard to find any reason to hold a dialog with people who think like that, and I have no doubt that the Danze’s feel the same way as their backers.

posted by gunther at 2:58 PM Link

Monday, December 01, 2003

 
What “IT” Is A couple of weeks ago I posted something that I pulled from an anti-abortion website, indicating that the zealots in Texas had something big planned for the evening of December 4th. Here was the message:

BIG NEWS COMING... If you haven't already noticed, there is a tremendous momentum building around the efforts of the Coalition for Life and other Pro-Life groups fighting Planned Parenthood around the state. Recognizing that we are in an unprecedented position to do incredible good, the Coalition for Life is taking the lead on a bold initiative that will capitalize on the many successes and educate millions of people across the state about the danger posed by Planned Parenthood. We can't release the specifics yet, since Planned Parenthood monitors this e-mail list, but please pray that God blesses the preparation going into these efforts. One thing we can tell you... You want to mark your calendar for the evening of Thursday, December 4th. Something BIG will be happening!
I have now learned exactly what the “big event” in question is. Fortunately, it’s not a bombing or assassination, although I’m sure that many of those attending and perhaps speaking would be sympathetic to such behavior if it was directed at Planned Parenthood. What is happening is that there will be a traveling road show, a rally, that will take place in Austin, College Station, and Houston. It will be in a different city starting on the 2nd, with the Houston event scheduled for December 4th. Featured speakers at each of the rallies will be Chris Danze and Jim Sedlak (the background on Sedlak can be found here, and his photo is here). Coalition for Life, the sponsors of the event, is of course David Bereit’s group out of Bryan, Texas. Here’s the posting from the message board announcing the rallies:
URGENT: Please forward this message on to people across Texas!!! ************************************************** This is the news you've been waiting for. You are invited to attend the most important Texas Pro-Life event of 2003... RALLY FOR LIFE: Building a united front ************************************************** AUSTIN City-wide event in response to the proposed Planned Parenthood abortion facility Tuesday, December 2, 7 - 9 PM Doubletree Hotel, 6505 IH-35 North (at the intersection of Hwy. 290) COLLEGE STATION Wednesday, December 3, 7 - 9 PM College Station Conference Center, 1300 George Bush Drive HOUSTON Thursday, December 4, 7:30 - 9:30 PM Jones Hall Auditorium, University of St. Thomas, 3900 Yoakum Blvd. Map ************************************************** FEATURED SPEAKERS AT ALL EVENTS INCLUDE: * CHRIS DANZE, organizer of the Austin contractor boycott that gained national attention by halting construction on a $6.2 million Planned Parenthood abortion facility * JIM SEDLAK, Vice President of American Life League, and President of Stop Planned Parenthood International (STOPP), widely recognized as the nation's leading expert on Planned Parenthood There will be other dynamic speakers at each location, testimonials, and much more! ************************************************** The momentum is building rapidly. The time has come for state-wide public Pro-Life rallies to educate Texans about Planned Parenthood's true agenda, and to unite individuals and organizations together to end abortion in Texas. Come join the Rally for Life as part of this historic movement. ************************************************** PARTNERING ORGANIZATIONS The following is a list of organizations uniting together for the Rally for Life events: * Coalition for Life * Houston Coalition for Life * Texas Alliance for Life * Texas Contractors and Suppliers for Life * Foundation for Life * Texans for Life Coalition * Aggies for Life * University Life Advocates * Silent No More * Greater Houston Pastors for Life * Houston-Area Help After Abortion * American Life League * Stop Planned Parenthood International (STOPP) * Life Dynamics * L.E.A.R.N.
I plan on attending the Houston event and videotaping it, if possible. I have no idea how large the venue is or how big a crowd is expected. But i’ll be there and will get into it if I can. Just last month, Jim Sedlak was attending a Right-to-Life convention in Oregon where he was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that Planned Parenthood actually promoted bestiality.
Sedlak and Shaneyfelt suggested that Planned Parenthood officials’ goals include encouraging sex among young children and bestiality. "There’s sex with animals," said Shaneyfelt. "They won’t say it up front, it’s not blatant, but it’s there."
The inclusion of Sedlak as a main speaker at the events is significant. Sedlak’s organization, STOPP, has a national profile, and it was Sedlak who trained David Bereit in the “how to’s” of anti-abortion activism when the latter decided he wanted to get involved in that activity. STOPP is also affiliated with the American Life League (ALL), an extremist anti-choice group and another of the rally sponsors. The people supporting the boycott clearly plan on taking this strategy national, and the three rallies planned for Texas are only the beginning, as this article that appeared on the weekend makes clear. How extremist is ALL? Here’s just a hint. At their main website, ALL used to have a document called the “Pro-Life Activists Encyclopedia”. It was an extremely long document (140 chapters plus appendices) that addressed a large number of issues and gave detailed insights into what these people actually believe. The information was so explosive that it no longer exists at the ALL website. Fortunately, at least one other site exists that links to the original documents (search for “pro-life encyclopedia”). Reading them is a real eye opener. For example, in Chapter 2, “Wellspring and Nature of the Anti-Life mentality”, we learn that abortion, homosexuality, atheism, infanticide; euthanasia, witchcraft; Communism and pornography are all linked through a common cause. It includes phrases such as, ”Pro-abortionists love death; 30 million babies have died and they still are not satisfied; they want tens of millions more to die, and scream like animals when they cannot kill freely.” In Chapter 12, titled “Anti-Life Groups: The Holocaust Enablers and Promoters”, we learn that ”There are very strong connections between the right-to-die groups, abortion rights organizations, and homosexuals. The sodomites commonly work in abortion mills and often lesbians and homosexuals act as clinic escorts. These are the most unpredictable and violent people of all; they do not tolerate anyone opposing them in any way. Pickets and sidewalk counselors are physically attacked with alarming frequency by so-called 'gays.' In Chapter 19, “Anti-Lifers: Violent to the Core”, we learn that “All anti-choicers are violent fanatics who should sit in jail until they renounce their terroristic movement.” This chapter also includes the following stunner, and this is an exact quote from the original:
The pro-life movement has the physical means to stop the abortion Holocaust right now. If only a small percentage of true Christians and Jews say five percent, or about two hundred thousand followed the lead of the Communists and repeatedly and simultaneously bombed every abortion clinic, killed all known abortionists, and pronounced the death sentence on any legislator who voted against life or any judge who rendered a pro-abortion decision, legal abortion would stop immediately. The "system" simply could not handle such mass violence. Pro-lifers could then root out and ruthlessly exterminate the Neofeminists who would turn to the underground "Jane" illegal abortion networks and serve notice that any woman who obtained an abortion, legal or illegal, was likely to be visited by a gang of vigilantes in the middle of the night. …Violence, if practiced on a wide enough scale, will prevail but it will always prevail temporarily. People instinctively rebel against its use and will eventually turn away from it. God will disavow it and defeat those who use it.
Note the neat little twist here. The ALL document tries to straddle both sides of the fence, simultaneously implying that violence could easily be used to eliminate all abortions, while simultaneously saying that it should not be used. But the only arhument raised against the use of violence is the belief that it wouldn’t work in the long run, not that there is anything inherently wrong with it as a tactic. So this is ALL, one of the sponsors of the rallies and home to one of it’s featured speakers, Jim Sedlak. The inclusion of Life Dynamics as one of the event sponsors should also raise a few eyebrows. Let me tell you a little bit about Life Dynamics, Inc. This organization is based in Denton, Texas. Their motto is "Pro-Life: without compromise, without exception, without apology." It’s director is Mark Crutcher. Crutcher has publicly supported James Kopp, who murdered Dr. Barnett Slepian, a Buffalo area abortion provider. Crutcher and Jim Sedlak both serve on the board of advisors of ProLife PAC, an organization that seeks to direct campaign contributions to pro-life candidates. According to NARAL, “Life Dynamics use a hostile direct mail campaign, a campaign to give lawyers tools and strategies to sue abortion providers, and spies to "cripple" the provision of reproductive health”. The NARAL report on Life Dynamics reveals the following:
Crutcher envisions “an America where abortion may indeed be perfectly legal, but no one can get one.” Crutcher … created LDI to serve as [an] “anti-abortion guerrilla campaign center,” a base from which to further his stated goal: “to make abortion unavailable by any means necessary” Crutcher and LDI use threats and intimidation to carry out their anti-choice agenda:
More on LDI can be found here. Interestingly, there is a Jim Phillips associated with LDI as Marketing Director. I can’t determine if this is the same Jim Phillips who helped start the Austin boycott, but regardless of whether they are the same individual, the activities of the one who works for LDI gives some insight regarding their strategies and views. Jim Phillips, the Marketing Director, has appeared in a number of ,“Life Talk” videos, a mail order series of videotaped programs distributed by LDI. He has also sent emails promoting the bogus “Child Predators” project that LDI started. This is an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood as a protector of pedophiles. Here’s an email from Phillips:
We are asking pro-lifers to help in getting the Child Predators information out to the public. In this regard, please consider posting a link (or links) for this project on your web site. We have designed a variety of button/banner links for the www.ChildPredators.com site. Visit http://ChildPredators.com/LinkToUs.cfm to view the current sizes and shapes. There are two basic themes on the current selection: A) Beware of Child Predators / Beware of Planned Parenthood B) Caught! Planned Parenthood / Caught! National Abortion Federation Contact LDI if you need us to do a different size or theme variation for your web site. We offer to sent a free printed copy of this report to anyone who would like one. It can be requested online at: http://childpredators.com/FreeReport.cfm or by calling 800-800-LIFE, so please feel free to offer this publication to everyone on your newsletter or e-mail list. Any help you can provide in this regard will be appreciated. Thank you. Yours truly, Jim Phillips, Dir. of Mktg. Life Dynamics (www.LifeDynamics.com) 940-380-8800
This page also suggests an interesting set of connections for Phillips and LDI. It shows up on the website of a Dave Leach, who sometimes goes by the name of Uncle Ed. In the passage written by Philips, he addresses the issue of anti-abortion activists photographing or videotaping patients as they enter Planned Parenthood clinics. This strategy is clearly meant to intimidate, but note that Phillips praises the efforts of Leach and Jonathan O'Toole in “photojournalism”. Leach had intended to show the video footage on his cable access show in Des Moines, “The Uncle Ed Show”. The page that includes the contribution from Phillips praising Leach’s efforts includes a link to this script for a racist play, presumably written by Leach for use on his show It has been widely assumed that Leach and O’Toole (who apparently works for the Army of God) were acting as agents for Neil Horsley, who has at various times had a website that features pictures and identifying information about abortion providers. [Here is a photo of Horsley and O’Toole together] The site has been described as a “hit list”, and Horsley was interested in taking the video strategy national. Horsley’s site had also included video footage from abortion clinics; the move to bring this technique to TV was a natural progression. Horsley’s original website is difficult to find, mostly because service providers remove it once they learn of it’s contents. As for Horsley himself, amongst other things, he advocates secession of Georgia from the U.S.A. through nuclear 'civil' warfare. He thinks that homosexuals should be arrested. He hates pornography, especially gay pornography. So much so that he collects it and posts it on his website. [One final note on Jonathan O’Toole, Neil Horsley’s protégé and videographer. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried, but I came across this website, for The Natasha Club. It lists brief descriptions from a number of “gentlemen” who are searching for a mail order Russian bride. And whose name do you think popped up there? None other than Jonathan O’Toole’s, who apparently spends so much time running around the country attending anti-abortion events and videotaping clinics that he doesn’t have time to meet girls. Here’s what he has to say about himself:
Jonathan O'Toole j.otoole@att.net Profile submitted: Sunday, July 25, 1999 Age: 20 Kids: None. Weight: 225 lbs. Height: 6'4" Education: I have attended college for three years. Occupation: I am a student. During the summer, I work for a tree nursery as a salesman and landscaper. Race: Irish-American Interests: Reading the Bible, prayer and meditation, hunting, fishing, swimming, reading history, writing short stories & poetry, debating, thinking, hiking, telling stories, & singing music (especially after a hard day's work) About: Most importantly, I am a Christian. I love the Lord with all my heart. I am currently renting an apartment in the small town square of Liberty, Missouri. I am a hard worker, and I plan to finish college as soon as possible, and begin building a traditional family. I am strong (I work all summer digging trees at a nursery, and shoveling gravel) and tall (6 feet 3 inches). I am very dark haired and fairly well-built at 225 lbs. If you write, I will send a photograph. I'm a big brother to 5 kids, the youngest of whom is my 2 year old brother, Sean. I love kids and animals, too. My little brothers have beagle hounds and hunting dogs which they and my father take rabbit and duck hunting. I'm a lover of the outdoors and fishing, hiking, biking. Do you like to travel in the mountains? Music? Dancing? I do. I have attended college since I was 16 and have spent the past two years in various internships. In addition to my regular college studies, I am learning Greek and Hebrew to prepare for Christian ministry. For the past year I have been working in Carrollton, Georgia with a political party and pro-life (anti-abortion) activist group. I am a communicator, a reader of the classics, and a thinker. I write poetry too, to express my feelings. I am committed to preparing for and maintaining my family securely to the best of my earthly ability. I am prepared to do whatever I must to utilize my abilities and resources to provide for those God entrusts to me. Such is my attitude toward family responsibility. Requirements: She should be younger than 26, traditional, physically strong and healthy, and interested in being the queen of a large Christian household. She should be a capable hard worker. She should be willing to wait on and be waited on, to serve and be served, and have an understanding of marriage as the sacred union of two persons to become one under God. She should be modest and comely; intellectual and communicative.
So let’s sum up. The rallies next week will feature Jim Sedlak, who is the head of STOPP, an anti-choice organization with a national profile. The rallies are sponsored by (among others), STOPP, the American Life League (which is affiliated with STOPP), and Life Dynamics, Inc. It is known that LDI has contacts and sympathies with people like Jonathan O’Toole (Army of God) and David Leach, who have links with Neal Horsley, who thinks that America should nuked so that Georgia can secede. It cannot be emphasized enough that the groups that are behind this series of rallies, as well as the Austin boycott, have a loose but consistent pattern of associations with some of the most extremist elements in the country. You don’t have to dig very far to find out some astonishing and disturbing connections.

posted by gunther at 1:16 PM Link