October 9, 2005

Questions for the Thought Police at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and The Cincinnati Enquirer

Item–A tavern owner faces sanctions for his “For Service, Speak English” sign:

A tavern owner near Cincinnati is vowing not to take down a window sign that declares, “For Service, Speak English.”

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled this week that the sign at the Pleasure Inn in Mason (Ohio) violates state discrimination laws and creates an affront to Hispanics.

But tavern owner Tom Ullum says the sign is meant to be tongue in cheek. He says he has Mexican customers all the time and he doesn’t discriminate.

Questions for The OCRC:

  • Do you know of any instance where Mr. Ullum has failed to serve a customer who does not speak English? (information appearing in the editorial below indicates that there are none–Ed.)
  • What makes you assume that Mr. Ullum is only “creating an affront” to Hispanics, and not every person in the whole wide world who doesn’t speak English?
  • Are you going to start going after manufacturing and distribution companies that, for safety reasons, have requirements that employees be fluent in English?
  • Are you going to force retailers to hire people who only speak a non-English language, and thereby force customers who only speak English to endure customer-service nightmares?
  • How many languages does a person need to understand before you will deign to allow him or her to go into or stay in business?

From a Cincinnati Enquirer October 8 editorial entitled “‘Speak English’ a sign of bigotry” (HT to the R-Rated WhistleBlower):

The commission wrote that Ullum said he does not discriminate against anyone, but believes immigrants who live in the country should learn to speak English.

Ullum has a right to his opinion, and there are plenty of others who share his philosophy, but placing a sign on a window sends a hostile message.

If he truly does not discriminate, why did he put up a sign making it clear that non-English-speaking people aren’t welcome in his bar? He could prove he doesn’t discriminate, embracing the change going on in his community, by hiring a bilingual employee. That might even attract more business for him.

Questions for The Enquirer:

  • Since you acknowledge that the OCRC could not find that Ullum actually discriminated against anyone, exactly what does he have to “prove”?
  • It’s so nice of you to be so free with Mr. Ullum’s money and so concerned about his marketing. On the safe assumption that Mr. Ullum as a small business has all the employees he can afford, who do you suggest that he fire so that he can take on this bilingual employee you are recommending?
  • (New question, 4:15 PM) It’s so sporting of you to acknowledge Mr. Ullum’s “right to his opinion.” Based on your position in this case, exactly where and how does he have a right to express it without incurring your wrath?

Questions for the OCRC, the Enquirer, and all of you who support them:

  • Which one of you will pay for Mr. Ullum’s legal costs if he serves the wrong food or drink to an allergic non-English-speaking person he or one of his employees couldn’t understand?
  • How long will it be until you require public employees (or anyone for that matter) to be bilingual to keep their jobs? (Item: Some Dallas Principals Must Learn Spanish)
  • How long will it be until I have to order my food at Wendy’s in Spanish (which I speak passably, in case you care), so as not to force the Hispanics waiting on me to endure the agony of learning English?
  • Do you really think that anyone who believes, as Mr. Ullum does (and as I do), that “immigrants who live in the country should learn to speak English” is a guilty of unlawful discrimination and bigotry, even though he does not discriminate?


UPDATE: Oct. 9–The Kirk is on a roll. Oct. 13–I mean, really on a roll.

Serenity Fans Won’t Be Pleased about This (10-day Box Office Results)

Filed under: General — Tom @ 1:32 pm

This has to be disappointing to Universal, Joss Whedon, and the cast of Serenity:

  • The film’s first full-week take (Sept. 30 – Oct. 6) was $12.67 million.
  • The estimate actual for Friday, October 7 is $1.48 million, a drop of over 60% from opening night (Friday, Sept. 30). That’s good for only 10th place in what to me looks like a very weak movie lineup.
  • The estimate for weekend of 10/7-10/9 is $4.93 million, a drop of over 50% from the previous weekend, good for only 9th place.

This tells me that the Firefly fans have all seen it, and there’s very little general audience left. Ouch.

At this rate, the film may get pulled in two weeks, and Universal may not recover their reported cost of $39 million (which I suspect is significantly higher than their true out-of-pocket cost) until the DVD gets released–if then.

On the plus side, at least one blogger has become a fully converted Browncoat.

I don’t think this negates the positive results of the Blogger Sneak Preview–I think it shows that the film was going to have a tough time from the get-go. The Blogger Sneak probably enhanced what looked to be, in hindsight, a box-office performance that was destined to be mediocre. It’s too bad; I thought the movie was great, and so did a lot of others.

It’s Should Not Be This Tough to Get to News Like This (Iraqi Constitution’s Passage Looks Very Likely)

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Ignorance,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:23 pm

Via the infrequently posting but obviously vigilant SeanO at KelliPundit, who is the only one I’ve seen with this heartening news (Washington Times link may require registration):

Iraqi charter gains wide backing

BAGHDAD — Recent polling shows widespread support for a new Iraqi constitution to be voted on Oct. 15, even in strongholds of Sunni Arab groups that are fighting to derail the charter.
    Mehdi Hafedh, director of the Iraqi Center for Development and International Dialogue, said his latest survey showed that Iraqis are exhausted by the continuing violence and that most are hoping the new constitution will be a first step toward the restoration of order.
    “The Iraqi people want to finalize the political process as soon as possible. … They want to establish a normal government and institutions,” Mr. Hafedh said yesterday, adding: “Iraqis want this situation to end. It is untenable.”
    The poll of 3,625 Iraqis, conducted Sept. 14 to 19, showed 79 percent in favor of the draft constitution and 8 percent opposed. The remainder did not respond.
    A high percentage of respondents said they intended to vote and that the level of violence likely would be reduced after the referendum.

It’s not over until the votes are counted, but the margins are impressive.

I guess it doesn’t fit the “Iraq is failing” template.

World Wide Web of Bureaucrats Kleptocrats

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:25 pm

Two free market think tankers analyze the catastrophe that would ensue if the UN gains any kind of control over Internet in The Wall Street Journal (requires subscription; Sunday update–free OpinionJournal link is here, subtitled “Keep Your UN Off My Internet”):

Nevertheless the “U.N. for the Internet” crowd say they want to “resolve” who should have authority over Internet traffic and domain-name management; how to close the global “digital divide”; and how to “harness the potential of information” for the world’s impoverished. Also on the table: how much protection free speech and expression should receive online.

While WSIS conferees have agreed to retain language enshrining free speech (despite the disapproval of countries that clearly oppose it) this is not a battle we’ve comfortably won. Some of the countries clamoring for regulation under the auspices of the U.N. — such as China and Iran — are among the most egregious violators of human rights.

Meanwhile, regulators across the globe have long lobbied for greater control over Internet commerce and content. A French court has attempted to force Yahoo! to block the sale of offensive Nazi materials to French citizens. An Australian court has ruled that the online edition of Barron’s (published by Dow Jones, parent company of this newspaper), could be subjected to Aussie libel laws — which, following the British example, is much more intolerant of free speech than our own law. Chinese officials — with examples too numerous for this space — continue to seek to censor Internet search engines.

The implications for online commerce are profound. The moment one puts up a Web site, one has “gone global” — perhaps even automatically subjected oneself to the laws of every country on the planet.

A global Internet regulatory state could mean that We Are the World — on speech and libel laws, sales taxes, privacy policies, antitrust statutes and intellectual property. How then would a Web site operator or even a blogger know how to act or do business? Compliance with some 190 legal codes would be confusing, costly and technically possible for all but the most well-heeled firms. The safest option would be to conform online speech or commercial activities to the most restrictive laws to ensure global compliance. If you like the idea of Robert Mugabe setting legal standards for everyone, then WSIS is for you.

So what’s their suggestion?

….. We favor the non-regulatory approach. But where laissez-faire is not an option, the second-best solution is that the legal standards governing Web content should be those of the “country of origin.” Ideally, governments should assert authority only over citizens physically within its geographic borders. This would protect sovereignty and the principle of “consent of the governed” online. It would also give companies and consumers a “release valve” or escape mechanism to avoid jurisdictions that stifle online commerce or expression.

The Internet helps overcome artificial restrictions on trade and communications formerly imposed by oppressive or meddlesome governments. Allowing these governments to reassert control through a U.N. backdoor would be a disaster.

The authors don’t mention the very real possibility that UN control of the Internet could lead to something UN lovers see as their Holy Grail: the ability to collect taxes, in this case on e-commerce and communications, or perhaps on domain name registration. Anyone who believes in national sovreignty must realize that this cannot be allowed.

UPDATE: From Instapundit“Given Kofi Annan’s efforts to suppress books critical of his operations, as well as such past crimes as the “New International Information Order,” I don’t trust the U.N. with the Internet at all.”

UPDATE 2: A previously plugged post from Atlas Shrugs deserves another plug, especially since commenter Tyranno also picks up on the “UN Tax” angle.

UPDATE 3: Roger Simon thinks “World Wide Web of Criminals” would have been a better title. A Simon commenter warns that “Somebody in the Pentagon needs to make a note that retaining control of the internet should be a key national security objective. And this needs to be widely circulated in the government. Congress should adopt a resolution telling the autocrats to shove it.

Previous Posts:
- July 5–US Retains Control of Internet Directory: AP Has Hissy Fit
- September 29–Internet Control Stays in the US (I should think so)
- October 3–The Whining About “Control” of the Internet Continues (Plus the “Gobbled Up” Internet Addresses Canard)
- October 7–This Had Better Not Be True (US to Give Up “Root Server Control” of the Internet?)

A Column, an Editorial, and Letters Expose “Betcha Didn’t Knows” about Delay Indictments

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:33 am

From Wes Pruden, the take-no-prisoners editor of The Washington Times (link may require registration and will move early Tuesday morning), on the Tom Delay indictments:

You can’t find anyone in Austin, the seat of Travis County, who thinks county prosecutor) Ronnie Earle will get a conviction. Few believe that the indictments, such as they are, will even get to trial. That’s not the point of this kind of partisan barn-burning. The indictments themselves get a lot of ink and airtime, and Mr. Earle understands that the public often conflates indictment with conviction, as exacerbated by history. So many officers of the House, beginning with Jim Wright and Dan Rostenkowski and continuing with Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, have been booted out of office reeking of various body odors that an indictment alone might be enough to destroy the Hammer. It’s a stunning abuse of the law and manipulation of a grand jury, even circa 2005, but it testifies eloquently to the times we live in.

Meanwhile, the ultra-liberal Austin American-Statesman is questioning Earle’s judgment, and not just on the case itself:

Working on its last day, a second grand jury declined to indict DeLay on Friday. Earle’s office said it received new information over the weekend, so it went to yet a third grand jury empaneled on Monday, the last possible day under the statute of limitations. That grand jury returned the new indictments.

Earle’s panicked rush lends credence to those who complain that he is a partisan playing politics with the grand jury, and it gives ammunition to critics who argue that he has been hapless in his three-year probe.

Earle also didn’t help himself by becoming Austin’s newest movie star, allowing a documentary crew to film his pursuit of possible financial wrongdoing by Republican operatives in 2002.

Earle had to know he would be summoning a GOP storm by investigating the party’s powerful lobbying and fund-raising organizations. After all, he’s been there before. Since Earle’s failed prosecution of U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in 1994, he has been saddled with the “partisan Democrat” label. He must have realized he would face the same wrath if DeLay’s political action committees and the GOP business lobby were indicted.

Yet none of that history caused him to doubt the wisdom of inviting a documentary crew to film his probe of GOP fund-raising. It should have. News of the independent film crew’s two-year-long access to Earle and his inner sanctum did not serve him well.

Earle disagrees, saying that he was just doing his job. Sorry, but his job is to prosecute, not be red meat for filmmakers looking for a big score. By starring in “The Big Buy,” a documentary, Earle gives every appearance of having scripted a vendetta against one of the most powerful Republicans in the country.

It might not have been unethical for the district attorney to give such unprecedented access to a documentary crew, but it wasn’t wise. Earle should have known better than to make himself the focus of attention.

Readers are also weighing in with their not-supportive thoughts at the Statesman’s Letters to the Editor (may require registration):

Reader Greg Solcher–Travis County’s circus

Ronnie Earle, a liberal Democratic district attorney in a liberal Democratic county, completed a three-year investigation by indicting former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay under the wrong statute, presented the case to a second grand jury, failed to get an indictment and then went to yet a third grand jury, which indicted DeLay after hearing one day of evidence. All of this occurred in a week. On top of that, we learned that a documentary about the investigation is being filmed, which will likely run nationwide during the next election cycle.

Reader Geoffrey Puryear–Money Out the Window

How is David Barrett’s investigation of Henry Cisneros (editorially criticized by the Statesman–Ed.) any more wasteful than Ronnie Earle’s politically motivated train wreck?

Faulty indictments aside, the DeLay “investigation” has served as nothing more than a nationally reported publicity campaign for Earle at the expense of Travis County taxpayers. I guess when the target is a Republican, expensive vendettas are more palatable.

Reader R.H. Goodrich–Earle’s Flimsy Case

So Democratic Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle’s indictment last week of former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had to be done over because it was so flawed and flimsy. Apparently, Earle’s office overlooked the law in its rush to judgment. Isn’t that what DeLay’s attorneys have pointed out from the outset?

And the new indictments took hours to present to the new grand jury, not years like the original indictment. Doesn’t that make Earle’s contention that grand juries indict, not district attorneys, look ridiculous?

The county’s case against DeLay is only a week old, and already it’s falling apart. Earle’s office has been exposed as either patently partisan and vindictive or simply inept and incompetent.

I also understand, but have not been able to confirm, that Mr. Earle is not running for reelection when his term ends. The theory is that this could explain the “Hail Mary” nature of his work on this case to date. But even if it is true that he won’t run again, this Travis County link (warning: PDF) notes that he is not up for reelection until 2008. It seems that three years should allow Earle plenty of time to see his vendetta through to its conclusion, or (as would appear from the above) fall apart.

From here, it seems that Ronnie Earle is making Rathergate fake document source Bill Burkett (requires registration) look sane by comparison.

UPDATE: (HT Drudge) DeLay lawyers: “D.A. Tried to Coerce Grand Jurors”:

WASHINGTON — A conspiracy charge against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should be thrown out because a Texas district attorney tried to “browbeat and coerce” grand jurors into filing criminal charges, the Republican congressman’s attorneys say.

DeLay’s legal team alleged prosecutorial misconduct in a court filing Friday in Austin, Texas.

DeLay attorney Dick DeGuerin said prosecutor Ronnie Earle “and his staff engaged in an extraordinarily irregular and desperate attempt to contrive a viable charge and get a substitute indictment of Tom DeLay before the expiration of the statute of limitations.”

The sounds of silence (HS Football Team at TX School for the Deaf)

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 7:05 am

From the Austin American-Statesman (may require registration):


AP Poll Numbers Cooked, As Usual; They Don’t Care, As Usual

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 12:01 am

You would think that the Associated Press would care that every time their periodic poll numbers are skewed to yield anti-Bush results, they get caught. But they don’t.

The latest:

The AP: Fun with Poll Numbers
Posted by Lisa Fabrizio on October 7, 2005 – 19:40.

The Associated Press is up to its old tricks again. In its latest doom and gloom piece, “Poll: Groups Unhappy with Bush Performance,” they report that the president’s approval rating dropped to 39% in the most recent AP/Ipsos poll. Add to that today’s CBS poll that has the number at 37% and Bush supporters might have reason to squirm…except that they don’t.

As is usual, these anti-Bush organizations under-poll Republicans while over-polling Democrats. The AP survey contained only 40% Republicans versus 48% Democrats, while the CBS boys tilted the playing field an amazing 43% to 57% in favor of the Dems.

As the NewsBusters entry notes, bias permeates not only the numbers but also the article text.

For AP, it’s mission accomplished. They know that those who don’t dig deeper will think Bush is in decline. Those like Newsbusters who yell “foul” will pierce the darkness a bit and get through to some, but not most.

News consumers cannot trust their media to compile and report even the most basic information honestly. This is why efforts by blogs and others to gather and report basic news need to be encouraged.