Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Germany Struggling with Prospect of 800,000 Refugees This Year

From the Washington Post:
BERLIN — Bracing for at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year — more than any other nation in Europe — Germany is rolling out one of the region’s largest emergency responses since World War II. Yet as it scrambles to shelter the refugees in tent cities, at sports centers and even on the grounds of a former Nazi labor camp, a nation known for its efficiency is struggling to absorb them.
Outside the main refugee processing center in Berlin, for instance, asylum seekers are caught in a bureaucratic hell. Dozens are camping out on cold sidewalks — some for weeks — as they wait for their numbers to flash on a screen inside to secure temporary housing. But each day, it’s a crapshoot. At closing time on a recent afternoon, hundreds of asylum seekers were left empty-handed, including Ahmed Hamadich, 27, who walked toward his blanket for another night outdoors.
. . .
The national and local governments are racing to hire thousands of new police officers and bureaucrats to manage refugees. Schools, meanwhile, are desperately looking for new teachers to help with an estimated 300,000 new students. Irina Wissmann, principal at Berlin’s An der Bäke Elementary School, said none of the 300 qualified instructors provided to her in a list by city officials were available to work. She said that with 20 new refugee students already and double that number expected by year’s end, she is afraid of surging class sizes as well as issues with traumatized children.

Some ironies here. Germany hasn't helped a whit with problems festering in the Middle East. It has been content to depend on the U.S. paying for its defense*. So, taking responsibility for helping refugees sounds pretty fair.

As for schools, Germany has imprisoned homeschoolerstaken away their children, and is making them refugees. So, refugees and public schools seem to go together for Germany. A few hundred thousand refugee children should test their public schooling mettle.

The stated reason for not allowing homeschooling is to prevent "parallel societies" and "ensure that children learn to live tolerantly with each other."

The 800,000 refugees should be a good trial for their no parallel societies goal--not to mention living tolerantly with each other. And maybe Germany will learn a thing or two about the necessity of getting involved in stopping a crisis before it results in the sort of misery that causes a million refugees. But, that's probably wishing for too much.
*This year Germany is set to spend only 1.16% of its GDP on defense (less than 60% of what NATO asks its member nations to spend). To put that in perspective, in 2007 the U.S. spent 5.2% of its GDP versus Germany's 1.5% of its GDP on military spending. Even for NATO the US provides about 23% of the military funding, Germany less than 17%, Canada only 5%.

H/T Byron York

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Super Moon Eclipse

A super moon. God's super show. I'm thankful I was in the audience (with my new Canon superzoom).

Here's some video. This is the earliest I could get any real image. Before this point in the eclipse (about 8:30 pm) the camera optics couldn't sense an image to video.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Thank You, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman

John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman (NY Daily News)
This is our third year with MLB.TV. Because the Seattle games are blacked out for TV, we came to know about John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman who do the radio broadcast for the Yankees.

Nothing against the TV broadcasters, but half the fun now is spending time with John and Suzyn. And with baseball that's three to four hours.

They enjoy the game even when the Yankees are playing poorly. Meaning they bring their happiness with them and share it with the listener. I especially like John's chuckles and asides and Suzyn's special interest stories.

There are apparently people out there who don't like John and Suzyn. Each to his own. Some don't like it that John sometimes starts his home run call and then when the ball is foul or is caught he has to correct the call. Or that he amends a double play call. They prefer that he wait and make the call only after it is done. Bosh. When I'm watching baseball, the excitement comes in seeing a ball hit hard and anticipating that it might be a home run or a double play. I don't sit without excitement until after a play is over. And no one in the stadium does either. That's why roars go up at the crack of the bat irrespective of if the ball is caught.

Before the newest version of the MLB media player, I would open up two windows. One with the TV feed and one with the radio feed and turn down the TV feed audio to spend the time with John and Suzyn. The only down side was that the radio feed was anywhere from 10 to 40 seconds ahead of the TV feed. So, I knew what was going to happen before it happened on screen. Thanks to the newest MLB media player one can click the audio feed as an overlay, and they sync it to the video feed. So, I'm even happier.

It's one reason why I keep signing up with MLB.TV.  A hundred and sixty two (3 to 4 hour) games can become a little boring (even though we don't watch them all or the whole game of the ones we do watch). Not with John and Suzyn. They help make the MLB.TV season plan ($129.99) worth every cent of the subscription price.

Other than spending time with my dad at a game, my second favorites are John and Suzyn. They are very nice people who have a talent for making the game fun (even when the Yankees are losing). Thank you, John and Suzyn!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ben Carson Apologizes to Donald Trump; Trump Doesn't Concur

UPDATE: I think Donald Trump apologized in his own way last night to Carly Fiorina when he said "I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful woman." That showed some character.

Good for Ben Carson for apologizing.
“I said something that sounded like I was questioning his faith. I really wasn’t, I was really talking more about mine,” the former physician told The Wall Street Journal Monday. “But it was said in an inappropriate way, which I recognized and I apologized for that. It’s never my intention to impugn other people.”
However, Donald Trump didn't seem to accept the apology.
Trump on Saturday continued to slam Carson on the faith issue a day after the other candidate had apologized.
"In all fairness, Ben hit me on my faith, and you don’t hit a person on his faith," Trump said. "I don’t know him, he knows nothing about me."
[emphasis added]
Appears like Donald Trump is hitting himself on his faith. Forgiveness is a hard issue for Mr. Trump.
Moderator Frank Luntz asked Trump whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness for his actions.
"I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't."
Trump said that while he hasn't asked God for forgiveness, he does participate in Holy Communion.
"When I drink my little wine -- which is about the only wine I drink -- and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed," he said. "I think in terms of 'let's go on and let's make it right.'"
Maybe his church isn't very good at teaching the basics of Christianity or Mr. Trump isn't good at listening. In any case, Trump seems never to have said the Lord's prayer or understood the words in it if he has said it. It includes: And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Yale's Priscilla Smith: Being Torn Limb from Limb Is a Humane Way to Die

Yale's Priscilla Smith thinks being torn limb from limb is a humane death.

Priscilla Smith
Now we know why being drawn and quartered was a popular punishment with some from the 1200's to the 1800's.

See also LifeNews.com.

H/T Patterico's Pontifications

Now for a mature, loving woman's response:

Sunday, September 06, 2015

More on the Kim Davis Case; Kentucky Attorney General Allowed a Conscience Exemption for Not Carrying out His Duties as Regards Same Sex Marriage

County Clerk Kim Davis
Lots of interesting things about the Kim Davis case are coming out. Things you can easily get from legal documents she filed, but no one in the media is reporting on.

Davis is not asking that same sex couples not be issued marriage licenses. Only that her name not be required on the licenses. This is a remedy provided for regarding other Kentucky licenses.
Importantly, Davis is not claiming a substantial burden on her religious freedom or free speech rights if someone else authorizes and approves a SSM license devoid of her name. Davis is also not claiming that her religious freedom or free speech rights are substantially burdened if she must complete an opt-out form to be exempted from issuing SSM licenses, as Kentucky law already permits for other licensing schemes. (p. 18)
Davis suggests a whole list of easy fixes. (pp. 30-31)

There's a whole lot of not inventing the wheel going on here. What she asks for has already been granted on the same sex marriage issue to another high Kentucky official.

Governor Steve Beshear
Apparently only Kim Davis is not allowed a religious/conscience exemption from fulfilling her duties regarding same sex marriages. Kentucky Governor Steven L. Beshear not only accepted Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway's refusal to carry out his legal duties in 2014, but actually paid over $200,000 to hire other people to do those duties. And the issue was the same as in Kim Davis' case, same sex marriage. However, Conway's conscience was on the other side. He didn't believe he could in good conscience support "discrimination" against same sex couples.
Notably, Gov. Beshear did not provide the same ultimatum to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway (“Atty. Gen. Conway”) when he refused to defend the Kentucky Constitution and democratically-enacted marriage law. VC, ¶¶ 15, 34. According to Atty. Gen. Conway in his tearful and prayer-induced proclamation at the time, “There are those who believe it’s my mandatory duty, regardless of my personal opinion, to continue to defend this case…I can only say that I am doing what I think is right. In the final analysis, I had to make a decision that I could be proud of – for me now, and my daughters’ judgment in the future.” VC, ¶ 14 (emphasis added). Gov. Beshear did not force Atty. Gen. Conway to abandon his “inescapable” conscience and instead hired outside counsel to represent Kentucky in defending its own Constitution and
democratically-enacted laws—which cost the Commonwealth upwards of $200,000. VC, ¶¶ 14-15, 34-36. (p. 7, footnote 6)
Attorney General Jack Conway
Attorney General Jack Conway, who himself claimed a conscience exemption and refused to do his duties, is threatening to prosecute any county clerks who do not obey the same sex marriage licensing requirements.
In addition to his unmitigated “approve or resign” rule, Gov. Beshear has ominously
declared that “the courts” will deal with county clerks who do not comply with his SSM Mandate. See VTC, ¶ 35. Moreover, immediately after issuance of the SSM Mandate, Atty. Gen. Conway even threatened possible legal action against county clerks who did not comply with the SSM Mandate, even seemingly inviting this very lawsuit against Davis: “Any clerk that refuses to issue marriage licenses is opening himself or herself to potential legal liability and sanctions. Any couple or person denied a license may seek remedy in federal court, but should consult with a private attorney about their particular situation.” See, e.g., Several county clerks defy same-sex marriage ruling, refuse to issue marriage licenses, Lexington Herald-Leader, June 29, 2015, available at http://www.kentucky.com/2015/06/29/3923157_some-kentucky-county-clerksrefusing.html?rh=1 (last accessed August 28, 2015); Steve Beshear and Jack Conway: On refusing marriage licenses, WTVQ.com, June 30, 2015, available at
http://www.wtvq.com/story/d/story/steve-beshear-and-jack-conway-on-refusingmarriage/39801/_4cM2DBkQ0aBolGpMeZz_A (last accessed August 28, 2015). (pp. 27-28, footnote 18)
Actually, according to the New York Times, seven Democratic state Attorney Generals declined to do their duty. But, the Times did not call for their resignation or jailing.
Mr. Conway became the seventh state attorney general — all Democrats — to refuse to defend laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, generating criticism by Republicans that they were ignoring their duties and thwarting the will of voters who had enacted the bans.
This resulted in "criticism" not a call for jailing or resignation. Who are the hypocrites here (beside the media which is fine with public officials refusing to fulfill their sworn duties as long as the media also opposes the same issue)?

H/T MaxRedline

Friday, September 04, 2015

Kim Davis in Jail; Other Elected Federal Law Breakers Not

UPDATE: MaxRedline has pointed to a great resource on this issue: Law professor Eugene Volokh's analysis in the Washington Post. Read the whole thing. It is very illuminating. But cutting to the chase, here is his conclusion:
So if Kim Davis does indeed go through the state courts, and ask for a modest exemption under the state RFRA — simply to allow her to issue marriage licenses (opposite-sex or same-sex) without her name on them — she might indeed prevail. Rightly or wrongly, under the logic of Title VII’s religious accommodation regime and the RFRA religious accommodation regime, she probably should prevail.
There’s a lot of appeal to the “you take the job, you follow the rules — if you have a religious objection to the rules, quit the job” approach may be. But it’s not the approach that modern American federal employment law has taken, or the approach that the state religious exemption law in Kentucky and many other states has taken.
- - - - - - -

Kim Davis
Sean Davis over at the Federalist points out how many federal law breakers in office are still there with no repercussions, while Kim Davis, a Democrat clerk in Kentucky, is in jail. Regarding federal drug laws, immigration laws, and security laws, the Federal government and Federal courts wink at those who defy them.

Colorado, Washington and Oregon elected officials don't have to abide by federal drug laws on marijuana.

Then there are lots and lots of city officials who don't enforce federal immigration laws.

But not a one of these officials have been fined, let alone jailed, by a Federal judge. And they even get federal funds.

Officials who refuse to comply with federal law just because they or their constituents don't want to are okay. But, let a local official refuse to do something for religious convictions on an action that is not even codified in federal legislation (at this point it's just a Supreme Court generic ruling) with no clear requirements or penalties and all hell breaks loose.

The New York Sun editors point out that the U.S. Constitution forbids a religious test for any public office.
Yet the right to the marriage contract is not the only right vouchsafed in the Constitution. There is also the right — just to pick one that is being pressed in this case — to be free of religious tests for public office.
That is the most emphatic statement in the entire American parchment. “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States,” the Constitution says in Article IV. “No . . . ever . . . any.” It’s hard to imagine it being put any clearer. Yet Ms. Davis has been clapped into prison when her claim to protection under the religious tests clause has been heard on but a preliminary basis. Why can’t Rowan County manage to get marriage licenses to all who seek them without forcing the religious county clerk, Kim Davis, to attach her name to them?
We do not suggest this case is easy. But Ms. Davis has been cast into prison despite a law that requires that the government use the least restrictive means whenever it burdens the free exercise of religion. More broadly, wouldn’t all sides feel better were an accommodation to be found? Isn’t it possible for the state of Kentucky to be allowed to find a way to get same sex couples in Rowan and other counties marriage licenses in a speedy and dignified fashion while accommodating a religious clerk? 
As the Sun says, the Supreme Court has required that there be an accommodation for religious belief/practice by requiring a least restrictive means standard (as in the recent Hobby Lobby decision). The import of that is the Federal government must show "that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion." (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., pp. 40-45)

The Federal courts have not yet found that all ministers performing state recognized marriages have to perform same sex marriages. In effect those who perform state recognized marriages act as representatives of the state in performing those marriages since the marriages are officially registered with the state. So, they are not much different than a county clerk. There is a least restrictive means out there for a religious exemption. And, of course, not only for people with clear religious beliefs. Most anyone can get ordained in order to perform weddings.

U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning has taken it upon himself to write laws and penalties contrary to the U.S. Constitution which explicitly gives the power of federal legislation only to the U.S. Congress and contrary to U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Though it looks like the dissenters in the Obergefell v. Hodges same sex marriage case (not to mention the majority in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case) are not fast tracking what they wrote since none of the justices approved hearing her emergency appeal (an emergency stay requires five justices). But, we'll see what happens when the case is actually presented to the Supreme Court on appeal.

Among the Republican presidential candidates I've leaned toward, Carly Fiorina is backing the jailing of Davis. Strike one. Ben Carson is silent. Ted Cruz is clearly saying jailing Davis is wrong. Good for him.

So, you see, certain local officials who break laws are OK. But, others go directly to jail; do not pass Go; do not collect $200. All animals are equal but some are more equal than others if they agree with the opinions of those in power.

Other information on the case here.