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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Birther Orly Taitz Compares Self To Mandela, Wants Judge Tried For Treason



In an interview with TPM just now, Birther evangelist Orly Taitz fired back at Clay Land, the U.S. district court judge who tore apart Birtherism and threatened Taitz with sanctions in an order today, saying that "somebody should consider trying [the judge] for treason and aiding and abetting this massive fraud known as Barack Hussein Obama."

"This is so outrageous what this judge did -- it goes in the face of law and order," said Taitz, reached at her office in Mission Viego, CA. "Not every judge is as corrupt as Judge Land. Some judges believe in the Constitution. And some judges believe in the rule of law."

The withering 14-page order by Land, a George W. Bush appointee, tossed out a "birther soldier" case brought by Taitz and Army Capt. Connie Rhodes, who wants to defy a deployment order because she believes Barack Obama does not legitimately possess the presidency.

A clearly frustrated Land called Taitz's suit -- the second filed in the Middle District of Georgia -- "frivolous" and threatened her with sanctions if she kept at it.

I asked Taitz what she will do next with the Rhodes case, which was filed and tossed out in another district before it was refiled with Land. "This is the decision of Connie," she said. "I will be talking to her and making a decision."

And if Rhodes is open to continuing the fight, would Taitz go along?

"Oh absolutely, absolutely," she said. "Listen, Nelson Mandela stayed in prison for years in order to get to the truth and justice."

And Taitz brushed off the possibility of sanctions. "I'm not afraid of sanctions. Because I know this is not frivolous. I know this is extremely important -- the most important issue in this country today."

"Judge Land is a typical puppet of the regime -- just like in the Soviet Union," she said.

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Your request is being processed... Jimmy Carter: Wilson's Outburst 'Based On Racism' (VIDEO) Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

ATLANTA (AP) -- Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act "based on racism" and rooted in fears of a black president.

"I think it's based on racism," Carter said at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. "There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president."

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

"Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care," he said. "It's deeper than that."

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote for shouting "You lie!" during Obama's speech to Congress last Wednesday.

The shout came after the president commented that illegal aliens would be ineligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance. Republicans expressed their disbelief with sounds of disapproval, punctuated by Wilson's outburst.

Tuesday's rebuke was a rare resolution of disapproval pushed through by Democrats who insisted that Wilson had violated basic rules of decorum and civility. Republicans characterized the measure as a witch hunt and Wilson, who had already apologized to Obama, insisted he owed the House no apology.

Wilson's spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but his eldest son defended his father.

"There is not a racist bone in my dad's body," said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general. "He doesn't even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won't comment on former President Carter, because I don't know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it's just not in him."

"It's unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree -- and appropriately disagree -- on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it's absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race."

South Carolina's former Democratic Party chairman said that he doesn't believe Wilson was motivated by racism, but said the outburst encouraged racist views.

"I think Joe's conduct was asinine, but I think it would be asinine no matter what the color of the president," said Dick Harpootlian, who has known Wilson for decades. "I don't think Joe's outburst was caused by President Obama being African-American. I think it was caused by no filter being between his brain and his mouth."

Harpootlian said he received scores of racial e-mails from outside South Carolina after he talked about the vote on Fox News.

"You have a bunch of folks out there looking for some comfort in their racial issues. They have a problem with an African-American president," he said. "But was he motivated by that? I don't think so. I respectfully disagree with President Carter, though it gives validity to racism."

Carter called Wilson's comment "dastardly" and an aftershock of racist views that have permeated American politics for decades.

"The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state," he said. "And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect."

The South Carolina Republican lawmaker was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote divided by party lines. Wilson shouted "You lie!" during Obama's speech to Congress last Wednesday.

Carter was responding to a question submitted Tuesday night at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta.

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Do You Have the Right to Flip Off a Cop?

By Sean Scully / Philadelphia

David Hackbart was mad, and he wanted to show it, but he didn't think he would end up in federal court protecting his right to a rude gesture and demanding that the city of Pittsburgh stop violating the First Amendment rights of its residents.

Hackbart, 34, was looking for a parking space on busy Murray Avenue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood on April 10, 2006. Spotting one, he attempted to back into it, but the driver of the car behind him refused to back up and give him sufficient room. Hackbart responded in the classic way. "I stuck my hand out the window and gave him the finger to say 'Hey, jerk, thanks,' " says Hackbart. "That's all I was trying to say — 'Thanks, thanks a lot.' "

At that moment, a voice rang out telling Hackbart not to make the rude gesture in public. "So I was like, How dare that person tell me? They obviously didn't see what happened. Who are they to tell me what to say?" he says. "So I flipped that person off. And then I looked, and it was a city of Pittsburgh cop in his car right next to me."

That turned out to be police sergeant Brian Elledge, who happened to be passing in the other direction in his cruiser. Elledge whipped around and pulled Hackbart over, citing him under the state's disorderly-conduct law, which bans obscene language and gestures. And here's where the problem lies, says state American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal director Witold (Vic) Walczak: the middle finger and equivalent swear words are not legally obscene. In fact, courts have consistently ruled that foul language is a constitutionally protected form of expression. A famous 1971 Supreme Court case upheld the right of a young man to enter the Los Angeles County Court House wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words "F___ the Draft." (Read about how disorderly conduct is often a cop's call.)

"The law is clear that people have the constitutional right to use profanity, especially when it comes to government officials, because that is a form of political speech," Walczak says. "But despite that, we have police officers regularly misapplying the law to punish people who offend them — that's really what it comes down to." (Read a brief history of disorderly conduct.)

U.S. District Judge David Cercone ruled in March that the citation, along with the $119.75 court costs imposed by a city court, was clearly unconstitutional. The question, however, is whether the city has a pattern of tolerating this kind of constitutional violation. The ACLU says it found 188 cases from 2005 to 2007 in which people were cited under similar circumstances, despite an entry in the police department's training manual making clear that vulgar speech is not illegal.

The question was set to go to trial in Federal District Court last week, but the matter was delayed at the last moment while the two sides explored a settlement. The city's law department declined to comment on the case.

The problem is not confined to Pittsburgh. In 2007, a woman in Scranton, Pa., was cited for yelling obscenities at an overflowing toilet in her home — a tirade overheard by her neighbor, an off-duty police officer. She was later acquitted on constitutional grounds, and the city paid her a $19,000 settlement. "We probably handle a dozen of these cases every year," Walczak says. "We're actually negotiating with the state police right now, trying to force them to change their training and written materials to make clear you can't do this."

It is, of course, part of a larger question. The recent controversy over the arrest of historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. — who was charged with disorderly conduct in his home after police arrived to investigate an erroneous report of a burglary in progress — was cast in racial terms: a white officer distrusting a black homeowner. But Walczak says this issue seems to have more to do with a police officer being confronted by an angry and disrespectful person and turning disorderly-conduct laws into a "contempt of cop" law, as he puts it. "Frankly, I think having someone dropping the F-bomb is better than resisting arrest or taking a swipe at a police officer," Walczak says. "But what we're seeing too often is that police who are offended by a lack of respect, often manifested by profanity or cursing, will punish people for that." (Read Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Henry Louis Gates Jr. affair.)

Elledge and the city police department have consistently refused to comment on the case. But Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, says police officers are not out to systematically punish people who mouth off. "There is certainly no substitute for good judgment on the street," says Pasco, whose organization represents officers nationwide, including Pittsburgh, "and if in the officer's judgment, maintenance of order is going to be preserved by giving a citation or making an arrest, then the officer is going to use his judgment to make that arrest or issue that citation." (See pictures of Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

Officers clearly have varying levels of tolerance for rudeness from the people they encounter, he says, but he expressed little sympathy for anyone making rude remarks to or gestures toward officers. "Police officers have better things to do than give people citations," he says. "And if people are doing things to distract police officers from doing those things, then they should be held accountable in some way."

But Hackbart, a paralegal who learned about court rulings on vulgar language in a communications-law class, says police should not be able to punish people by issuing citations they know to be unconstitutional. Elledge "shouldn't be allowed to conduct himself like that with no repercussions," he says. "Does everybody have to go through this to defend themselves against a bogus charge?"

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Texting to Death

A leading road safety group, the Governors Highway Safety Association, has reversed field and announced its support for state laws banning drivers from sending and receiving text messages. The move is a welcome response to growing evidence that texting creates a greater risk of crashing than even drunken driving.

Studies suggest that drivers who send or receive a text message tend to take their eyes off the road for about five seconds, enough time for a vehicle going at highway speed to travel more than 100 yards. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that truckers sending text messages are 23 times more likely to cause a crash or near-crash than a nontexting trucker.

Texting car drivers, according to a University of Utah study using a driving simulator, are eight times more likely to crash. But fewer than 20 states prohibit texting while driving. And some of those statutes, like New York’s new law, impose minor fines and a negligible enforcement scheme that allows police officers to penalize a driver for the offense only if stopped for another infraction, such as a broken taillight or speeding.

While stronger state laws are essential, texting at the wheel is a national hazard that calls for a firm federal response. One answer would be to condition federal highway money on state compliance with reasonable safety standards. This has helped produce stronger laws against drunken driving.

A promising Senate bill — the Alert Drivers Act of 2009 — would do exactly that. It would require states to adopt federally set minimum penalties for texting while driving or forfeit 25 percent of highway financing. States would have two years to comply and could recover lost funds once they passed acceptable laws. A companion bill has been introduced in the House.

The need to crack down on this dangerous practice is abundantly clear.

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Prankster Introduces Ballot Initiative to Ban Divorce

John Marcotte, a California man with a history of pulling social pranks, is collecting signatures to get the "California Protection of Marriage Act," which would ban divorce, on the ballot.

Marcotte calls his voter initiative "the logical extension of Proposition 8," the controversial measure which last year added "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," to the state's constitution.

Marcotte has tongue firmly in cheek -- his Web site is subtitled, "Safeguarding marriage from the evils of divorce," and supporters can buy a T-shirt of a chained-together bride and groom reading "You said, 'Til death do us part.' You're not dead yet."

But his point is valid -- since many of Prop 8 supporters cited defending traditional marriage as their reason for pushing for the gay marriage ban, shouldn't they also be supportive of the "California Protection of Marriage Act," which eliminates the greatest threat to marriage that exists?

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