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It seems Pope Francis needs to brush up on his Tertullian!

It has been reported (in The ChristLast Media, I must note) that the current Pope does not like the phrase "lead us not into temptation...

"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Jose Pagan, Requiescat In Pace.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Former Pirate Jose Pagan dies at 76

Former Pirates player Jose Pagan, who drove in the winning run in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series, died Tuesday at age 76.

Pagan, who played 15 seasons in the major leagues, joined the Pirates in 1965 after the San Francisco Giants traded him for Dick Schofield. He spent the next seven seasons with the Pirates.

Pagan played numerous positions, including shortstop, first base, third base and outfield.

Born May 5, 1935 in Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, Pagan was 24 when he broke into the majors with the Giants in 1959.

He was a career .250 batter and had 138 doubles, 52 home runs and 372 RBI. He finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1973.

With the Pirates leading the Baltimore Orioles, 1-0, in the eighth inning in Game 7 of the '71 World Series, Pagan doubled to drive in Willie Stargell, securing a 2-1 victory.

The Pirates observed a moment of silence before last night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at PNC Park.

Jose Pagan

This Oct. 17, 1971, file photo shows Pittsburgh Pirates' Jose Pagan (11) hitting a double, off Baltimore Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar, to drive in the eventual winning run in Game 7 of the World Series, in Baltimore. The catcher is Ellie Hendricks and the umpire is Nestor Chylak. The Pirates announced that Pagan died after learning of it from Pagan's family. No cause was given for his death Tuesday, June 7, 2011. (AP Photo/File)

The Michael and Cathryn Borden Memorial Book of the Day.*

Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon

by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner

A better title would have been "The Communist/Wall Street Conspiracy To Destroy America". Of course, all you good little kiddies know you don't need a conspiracy if everybody thinks the same way.

Here's a review [and then some]:

Fanniegate: Gamechanger For The GOP?

Democrats, watch out.

The Republican Party and especially its Tea Party wing have just acquired a new weapon of mass destruction — and it has nothing to do with any of Congressman Wiener’s rogue body parts. If they deploy this weapon effectively in the next election cycle — a big if — then they have the biggest opportunity to move the country rightward since Ronald Reagan took the oath of office back in 1981.

The Tea Party WMD stockpile is currently stored in book form: Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. By Gretchen Morgenson, one of America’s best business journalists who is currently at The New York Times, and noted financial analyst Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment gives the best available account of how the growing chaos in the mortgage and personal finance markets and the rampant bundling of dubious loans into exotically toxic securities plunged the world, and millions of American families, into the gravest financial crisis since World War Two. It is gripping reading as well, and its explanations are clear enough that readers without any background in finance will have no trouble following the plot. The villains? An unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros. (Frank got a cushy job for a lover, Pelosi got a job and layoff protection for a son, Cisneros apparently got a license to mint money bilking Mexican-Americans of their life savings in cheesy housing developments.)

If the GOP can make this narrative mainstream, and put this picture into the heads of voters nationwide, the Democrats are toast. The party will have to reinvent itself (or as often happens in American politics, be rescued by equally stupid Republican missteps) before it can flourish.

If Morgenstern and Rosner are to be believed, the American dream didn’t die of old age; it was murdered and most of the fingerprints on the corpse come from Democratic insiders. Democratic power brokers stoked the housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the increasingly rampant corruption and incompetence at Fannie Mae and the associated predatory lenders who sheltered under its umbrella; core Democratic ideas may well be at fault.

This is catnip to Republicans, arsenic to Dems. If Morgenson and Rosner are right, there is someone the American people can blame for our current economic woes and it is exactly the cast of characters that a lot of Americans love to hate. Big government, affirmative action and influence peddling among Democratic insiders came within inches of smashing the US economy.

The Morgenson/Rosner story is a simple and easily grasped one. It is made for campaign ads. The Great Villain, the man who almost ruined America according to the book, is James Johnson, long one of the most important members of the Democratic establishment. He ran Walter Mondale’s campaign. He chaired John Kerry’s search for a vice-president — the brilliantly executed search that chose the revered anti-poverty warrior John Edwards.

Barack Obama, impressed by this track record of discernment, reportedly asked him to lead Obama’s search in 2008 — though Johnson withdrew when word got out that he benefited from the disgraced and disgusting Angelo Mozilo’s corrupt program of ‘special’ mortgages for political friends. (Mozilo was the head of Countrywide, a massively fraudulent and predatory lender which benefited hugely from its business connections with Fannie Mae.) He is a director of the much hated Goldman Sachs, a former director of Lehman Brothers, has chaired the board of the Brookings Institution, is a major Democratic Party fundraiser who bundled several hundred thousand dollars for President Obama, helped bring old Clinton friends into the Obama organization, and has been at the center of Democratic finance and politics for a generation.

Named CEO of Fannie Mae (a government backed mortgage corporation) Johnson decided to make untold wealth by making and securitizing junk housing loans and by massaging the financial reports to ensure that he qualified for the obscenely generous maximum bonus no matter what was actually happening to the company under his care.

Fannie Mae, a historically staid and predictable government linked company, needed to turn into a cutting edge speculative growth engine to make the hundreds of millions Johnson wanted. Since taxpayers stand behind Fannie Mae’s debts, Johnson needed to get the politicians to back his desire to turn this milkwagon into a Porsche. Fortunately for him — and unfortunately for the country and the world — he found a way.

Fannie Mae would adopt the goal of increasing the percentage of Americans who owned their own homes, targeting the inner city poor who, allegedly, were blocked from home ownership by racial discrimination. (A bogus study to this effect was widely circulated; devastating criticisms and rebuttals quietly ignored.) This is where such luminaries of the American political scene as ACORN and La Raza get into the act. They served as cheerleaders for Johnson’s self-enrichment plan, camouflaging a Wall Street rip-off by hymning its benefits for the poor.

The purpose of no doc, no money down loans wasn’t, Heaven forbid, to generate rich fees and high interest rates for mortgage brokers and Wall Street. No, the smarmy defenders of the Great American Rip-off told us, those features were necessary to make sure that poor people (so cruelly, unfairly locked out of mortgages because they didn’t qualify for the stuffy old-fashioned kind) could participate in the American Dream. Anybody who opposed Jim Johnson’s get rich scheme was a racist who hated the poor. Political correctness married Wall Street chicanery as Maxine Waters, Chris Dodd and Barney Frank led the band; crooked accountants and clueless rating agencies performed the ceremony; big government dowered the couple with a debt guarantee and bankers dressed as flower girls showered the happy pair in a confetti of junk mortgages and junk bonds.

Fannie Mae and the housing market were off to the races — and where Fannie Mae led the way, the financial markets followed. Regulators were captured by the interests they were supposed to regulate; favors were dispensed with a lavish hand; taxpayer-provided money was used to assemble a vast lobby focused on extracting more money from hapless taxpayers to make James Johnson even richer. In the process, millions of financially unsophisticated low income people were stuck with obscenely unfair mortgages, honest whistle blowers were subjected to savage personal attacks, home prices lost all touch with reality, taxpayers were stuck with losses that may approach one trillion dollars, and financial markets were poisoned almost beyond repair.

But there’s a bright side. Mondale-Kerry-Obama confidant Johnson made a boatload of money, and Fannie Mae was able to pay many of his personal bills — at least until it went broke.

That at least is the story of Reckless Endangerment. No doubt Johnson’s memoirs will tell the story in a different way. The housing bubble and the financial market meltdown were very complex phenomena, many cooks were required to spoil this broth and the arguments over what caused the crash may never end.

Truth is one thing; politics is another. Politically, this story is a killer app for the GOP. It demonizes Dems, lends itself to attack ads, divides Democrats between their Wall Street and union bases, and combines GOP hate figures in ways calculated to unify the GOP and heighten the intensity of the faithful.

The story illustrates everything the Tea Party thinks about the corrupt Washington establishment and the evils of big government. It demonstrates the limits on the ability of government programs to help the poor. It converts a complicated economic story into a simple morality play — with Dems as the villain. It allows Republicans to capitalize on public fury at the country’s economic problems. It links the Democrats to Wall Street — the one part of the private sector that the Republican base loathes. It exposes that mix of incompetence and arrogance that is the hallmark of the modern American liberal establishment and links this condescending cluelessness to the real problems of real American families. It links President Obama (through appointments, associations and friendships) with the worst elements of the Clinton legacy and it blunts some key Democratic talking points.

The story can also be a devastating wedge issue. The Democratic Party today is a fragile coalition of elite liberals, traditionally Democratic ethnic blue collar whites, African Americans and Hispanics. The Fannie Mae story is essentially a story of how liberal Wall Streeters raped every one else — and how the organized leadership of the other groups colluded in the attack. Hammering this picture home will demoralize and divide the Democratic Party, reducing enthusiasm among minorities and pulling swing white ethnic votes toward the GOP.

The story builds GOP unity even as it divides the Democrats, allowing GOP populists and establishment figures to find some common ground. For one thing, it builds the idea that Wall Street is a liberal Democratic institution rather than a conservative Republican one. In fact, Wall Street is in love with power and cuts deals with whoever can make them, but for years Democrats have prospered by making running on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s platform against ‘the malefactors of great wealth’. There are many powerful Wall Street figures who are closely linked to the Democrats, however, and the James Johnson story puts a face on that alliance. Socially and culturally, most of Wall Street stands closer to the Democratic establishment than to the Republican Party these days; linking the Democrats to Wall Street, teacher unions and race hustlers is an easy and compelling way to push the Democrats closer to the cliff even as it allows GOP candidates to lace their speeches with populist anti-Wall Street rhetoric without embracing anti-business policy.

The story doesn’t just attack a failure of Democratic policy execution; it exposes a key flaw in New Democratic thinking. The Third Way as dreamed up by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sought to harness the power of financial markets to a public service agenda. Old style command and control liberalism believed in directly mandating business to do what politicians thought should be done. AT&T had to serve rural communities, but in exchange it had a phone monopoly and regulators made sure that it made a good profit. The airlines and bus companies had to service unprofitable routes, but regulators made sure that their route networks as a whole were profitable.

As competition became more global and the inflexible regulations of the old liberalism proved less workable, a new and updated liberalism appeared. Instead of old fashioned mandates, liberals would use new approaches that capitalized on the power of the market. Use cap and trade schemes rather than command and control to control carbon through the market — and by creating an international market that will make money for financial firms. Tweak the mortgage regulations to spread home ownership to the poor. Both Britain and the US are looking at fun new ideas like ‘infrastructure banks’ that can fund projects that liberals like without putting large new debts on the public accounts. Private profits can grow even as the public interest is served: this was the Clinton-Blair dream that was billed as liberalism’s response to the Thatcher revolution. Additionally, liberal politicians like Al Gore and James Johnson were well placed to capitalize on the new arrangements. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair have both become much wealthier after leaving office than old style liberals like Harry Truman ever could.

The story also undercuts what little is left of the credibility and the moral authority of the American establishment. What is especially shocking in this story is that the higher up and more powerful people are usually the most venal and corrupt. Low level researchers and bureaucrats are constantly raising questions and preparing devastating reports that expose the flawed premises behind Fannie Mae’s policies. They are being constantly slapped down by the well connected and the well paid. The American establishment does not have the necessary moral strength and intellectual acuity to run the affairs of this country; Tea Party believers will find much in this book that confirms their worst fears.

Republicans of course have a few financial scandals of their own that Democrats can take out and rattle. But because Fanniegate offers a clear storyline, identifiable villains linked to specific disasters that have hit tens of millions of Americans in the pocketbook, and is overwhelming a story of Democratic abuses of Democratic ideas, it is potentially a game changing event. It is also an issue that a GOP candidate for the nomination can use to break away from the field; it is an issue a contender could ride all the way to the White House.

Paul Krugman once told me that he thought that Enron would have a greater impact on American politics than 9/11. He was wrong about that scandal, but if the GOP plays its cards right, Fanniegate could push this country into a new political era.

*Huh? Look here.

The herd mentality of the best and brightest.

Ann Coulter whacks the fascist left once again. She knows them better than anyone this side of David Mamet. [Huh? See David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' . It is possible for leftists to grow up.]

Obama: Hope, Change, and The Occasional Sex Dream
by Ann Coulter

In Part One of my new book -- released this week! -- Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America, I demonstrate that liberals have all the earmarks of mob psychology.

Their myths, slogans, demands for immediate action, messianic goals, demonization of opponents, creation of political idols and occasional resorts to violence -- all this is classic herd behavior.

Because mobs are irrational, immature, subject to wild passions and infatuations, they cannot be reasoned with. And they are always dangerous.

The mob attributes of liberals we will review this week are a crowd's inability to perceive contradictions and its tendency to form an infatuation for an individual.

Consider just one blinding contradiction recently embraced by liberals.

Immediately after Jared Loughner's shooting spree in Tucson, Americans were lectured on civility by the likes of Keith "the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party" Olbermann.

Two days after the shooting, The New York Times ran an op-ed by former Democratic congressman Paul Kanjorski (Pa.) calling for "an atmosphere of civility" to eliminate a "fear of violent confrontation." Only months earlier, Kanjorski had said of the Republican candidate for governor in Florida (now governor), Rick Scott: "They ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him."

But the media turned to one man more than any other to discuss how rhetoric can lead to violence: Al Sharpton -- someone whose rhetoric actually had inspired violent mobs.

In addition to libeling innocent men in the Tawana Brawley hoax, ginning up angry mobs outside the Central Park jogger's rapists' trial, whipping up mobs after a car accident in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood killed a black child and a rabbinical student was stabbed to death, Sharpton famously incited an anti-Semitic pogrom against a Jewish-owned clothing store in Harlem, saying, "We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business."

Someone who was listening to Sharpton later decided to storm the store and start shooting, wounding several employees, and setting a fire that killed seven people.

Of course, after all this, Sharpton became a pariah -- oh wait! In the opposite of being exiled, he became famous, ran for president as a Democrat and Al Gore kissed his ring, after these events.

In January of this year, Sharpton was repeatedly rolled out as the expert commentator on civil discourse -- on NBC's "Meet the Press," NPR, CNN and MSNBC. As MSNBC's Ed Schultz said in introducing him, "Al Sharpton is on a crusade against hate speech on talk radio."

In light of Sharpton's history, you'd think that, in the middle of the Arizona shooting being blamed on "rhetoric," someone in his organization might have said: "Boss, I'd keep a low profile for the next couple of weeks. We just don't want you to be on TV right now because someone is going to say -- 'Hey, how about Freddy's? What about Gavin Cato's funeral? Weren't you the guy stirring up the violent rabble at the trial for the Central Park jogger's rape?'"

They needn't have worried. No one brought up any of the mayhem that had followed Sharpton's speeches.

As Gustave Le Bon, the father of groupthink, explains: A crowd's "complete lack of critical spirit does not allow of its perceiving these contradictions."

Second and most obviously, liberals fanatically worship their leaders. FDR, JFK, Clinton, Obama -- they're all "rock stars" to Democrats. They're the Beatles, Elvis, Abraham Lincoln or Jesus, depending on which cliche liberals are searching for.

See "the cult of personality".

Nearly seven decades after FDR was president and five decades after JFK was, we still have to listen to liberals drone on about their stupendousness. It's as if Republicans demanded constant praise for Calvin Coolidge.

Even Republicans are forced to pretend to admire these profligate Democrats in order to court Democratic voters. Republicans don't mention Reagan as much, and he was a better president.

In 1992, Time magazine quoted The Boomer Report editor Cheryl Russell, saying, "Every woman I know is having sex dreams about Bill Clinton." (If you call nightmares about Bill Clinton dropping his pants "sex dreams," I guess I was, too.)

When Obama came along, guess who liberals started having sex dreams about? Yes, the big-eared beanpole. The New York Times' Judith Warner reported: "Many women -- not too surprisingly -- were dreaming about sex with the president."

Meanwhile, during Reagan's first year in office, conservatives didn't even rank him as their favorite conservative. He was assailed from the right throughout his presidency.

Republicans certainly never had sex dreams about Reagan -- nor Coolidge, Nixon or Bush. Most of the time, conservatives can barely stand their leaders. They aren't a mob.

As Gustave Le Bon explains, the "convictions of crowds assume those characteristics of blind submission, fierce intolerance, and the need of violent propaganda which are inherent in the religious sentiment."

They are guilty of the crimes with which they slander Christians.

Perhaps if they believed in a real God, liberals wouldn't have to keep creating an endless stream of human gods.

Amen to that, sister.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

You see, kiddies, the penis is bad in this case because babies are their mothers' chattel and may be discarded at will.

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man's decision to lash out with a billboard ad saying his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes has touched off a legal debate over free speech and privacy rights.

The sign on Alamogordo's main thoroughfare shows 35-year-old Greg Fultz holding the outline of an infant. The text reads, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!"

Fultz's ex-girlfriend has taken him to court for harassment and violation of privacy. A domestic court official has recommended the billboard be removed.

But Fultz's attorney argues the order violates his client's free speech rights.

"As distasteful and offensive as the sign may be to some, for over 200 years in this country the First Amendment protects distasteful and offensive speech," Todd Holmes said.

The woman's friends say she had a miscarriage, not an abortion, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.

Holmes disputes that, saying his case is based on the accuracy of his client's statement.

"My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth," Holmes said.

The woman's lawyer said she had not discussed the pregnancy with her client. But for Ellen Jessen, whether her client had a miscarriage or an abortion is not the point. The central issue is her client's privacy and the fact that the billboard has caused severe emotional distress, Jessen said.

That is obfuscation. Her client is not named on the billboard. Mr. Fultz is the one whose private life has been laid bare.

"Her private life is not a matter of public interest," she told the Alamogordo Daily News.

Jessen says her client's ex-boyfriend has crossed the line.

"Nobody is stopping him from talking about father's rights. ... but a person can't invade someone's private life."

For his part, Holmes invoked the U.S. Supreme Court decision from earlier this year concerning the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-gay protests at military funerals and other high-profile events. He believes the high court's decision to allow the protests, as hurtful as they are, is grounds for his client to put up the abortion billboard.

"Very unpopular offensive speech," he told the Alamogordo Daily News. "The Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, said that is protected speech."

Holmes says he is going to fight the order to remove the billboard through a District Court appeal.

Hee-hee. Jackass Party members are once again outsmarted by a housewife.

From the Boston Herald:

Experts back Sarah Palin's historical account

Sarah Palin yesterday insisted her claim at the Old North Church last week that Paul Revere “warned the British” during his famed 1775 ride — remarks that Democrats and the media roundly ridiculed — is actually historically accurate. And local historians are backing her up.

Palin prompted howls of partisan derision when she said on Boston’s Freedom Trail that Revere “warned the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.”

Palin insisted yesterday on Fox News Sunday she was right: “Part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there. That, hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms.”

In fact, Revere’s own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin’s claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them “there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.”

Boston University history professor Brendan McConville said, “Basically when Paul Revere was stopped by the British, he did say to them, ‘Look, there is a mobilization going on that you’ll be confronting,’ and the British are aware as they’re marching down the countryside, they hear church bells ringing — she was right about that — and warning shots being fired. That’s accurate.”

Mrs. Palin is hated because she is normal, unlike the psychotic freaks and perverts who try to make fun of her at every turn.

She also refused to murder her handicapped child to make her life easier.

She is therefore more qualified to be president than that blood-soaked pansy in the White House.

Patrick Leehey of the Paul Revere House said Revere was probably bluffing his British captors, but reluctantly conceded that it could be construed as Revere warning the British.


“I suppose you could say that,” Leehey said. “But I don’t know if that’s really what Mrs. Palin was referring to.”


McConville said he also is not convinced that Palin’s remarks reflect scholarship.

“I would call her lucky in her comments,” McConville said.


Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic Party held a thin blue line on the issue, insisting on mocking Palin despite a brief historical review of the matter. State party chairman John Walsh wise-cracked that the region welcomes all tourists, even those with “an alternative view of history.”

“If you believe he was riding through the countryside sending text messages and Tweets to the British, still come to Boston,” he said. “There are a lot of things to do and see.”

But Cornell law professor William Jacobson, who asserted last week that Palin was correct, linking to Revere quotes on his conservative blog Legalinsurrection.com, said Palin’s critics are the ones in need of a history lesson. “It seems to be a historical fact that this happened,” he said. “A lot of the criticism is unfair and made by people who are themselves ignorant of history.”

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Michael and Cathryn Borden Memorial Book of the Day.*

*Huh? Look here.

Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey

There is no doubt. Mr. Musial is the most underrated ballplayer of all time. [Hank Aaron is a close second.]

When baseball fans voted on the top twenty-five players of the twentieth century in 1999, Stan Musial didn’t make the cut. This glaring omission—later rectified by a panel of experts—raised an important question: How could a first-ballot Hall of Famer, widely considered one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, still rank as the most underrated athlete of all time?

In Stan Musial, veteran sports journalist George Vecsey finally gives this twenty-time All-Star and St. Louis Cardinals icon the kind of prestigious biographical treatment previously afforded to his more celebrated contemporaries Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. More than just a chronological recounting of the events of Musial’s life, this is the definitive portrait of one of the game’s best-loved but most unappreciated legends, told through the remembrances of those who played beside, worked with, and covered “Stan the Man” over the course of his nearly seventy years in the national spotlight.

Stan Musial never married a starlet. He didn’t die young, live too hard, or squander his talent. There were no legendary displays of temper or moodiness. He was merely the most consistent superstar of his era, a scarily gifted batsman who compiled 3,630 career hits (1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road), won three World Series titles, and retired in 1963 in possession of seventeen major-league records. Away from the diamond, he proved a savvy businessman and a model of humility and graciousness toward his many fans in St. Louis and around the world. From Keith Hernandez’s boyhood memories of Musial leaving tickets for him when the Cardinals were in San Francisco to the little-known story of Musial’s friendship with novelist James Michener—and their mutual association with Pope John Paul II—Vecsey weaves an intimate oral history around one of the great gentlemen of baseball’s Greatest Generation.

There may never be another Stan the Man, a fact that future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols—reluctantly nicknamed “El Hombre” in Musial’s honor—is quick to acknowledge. But thanks to this long-overdue reappraisal, even those who took his greatness for granted will learn to appreciate him all over again.

SEX IS DEATH. (Isn't this a Hemingway story?)

I came to Carthage, where I found myself in the midst of a hissing cauldron of lusts. I had not yet fallen in love, but I was in love with the idea of it, and this feeling that something was missing made me despise myself for not being more anxious to satisfy the need. I began to look around for some object for my love, since I badly wanted to love something. —St. Augustine, Confessions

From the AP via Yahoo! News:

Virginia inmate sues after gruesome tries at sex change

DILLWYN, Va. – Crouched in her cell, Ophelia De'lonta hoped three green disposable razors from the prison commissary would give her what the Virginia Department of Corrections will not — a sex change.

It had been several years since she had felt the urges, but she had been fighting them for weeks. But like numerous other times, she failed to get rid of what she calls "that thing" between her legs, the last evidence she was born a male.

Months after the October castration attempt, De'lonta filed a federal lawsuit Friday claiming the state has failed its duty to provide adequate medical care because it won't give her the operation. She says the surgery is needed to treat her gender identity disorder, a mental illness in which people believe they were born the wrong gender.

If she wins, De'lonta would be the nation's first inmate to receive a state-funded sex change operation. Similar lawsuits have failed in a handful of other states, and lawmakers in some states are trying to ban the use of taxpayer money for the operations.

If she loses, she says she will continue to try self-surgery — acknowledging another attempt could kill her.

"That's a possibility," the 50-year-old said during a recent prison interview, pausing then smiling contently. "But at the end I would have peace."

May God have mercy on this poor, deluded man.

Some physical changes have already taken place. Hormones won under a 2004 court order have caused her to develop noticeable breasts. Her eyebrows are perfectly plucked, and makeup accentuates her smooth cocoa complexion.

Still, special allowances such as feminine clothing and psychotherapy aren't enough to keep her mind off wanting to become the woman she says she was born. She longs for permission to grow out her short salt and pepper hair like female inmates, even though she's housed in the all-male Buckingham Correctional Center.

Experts say that De'lonta's behavior is an unusual — but not surprising — manifestation of her disorder. At least 12 other inmates in Idaho, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky and North Carolina have castrated themselves over the past 14 years, and several others have tried, said psychiatry professor George R. Brown at East Tennessee State University.

"This is not a choice. Transsexuals are born and not made," said Brown, an expert in gender identity disorder. "If you didn't have this condition, why would you want to have your genitals removed, if not by a competent surgeon but by your own hand?"

While many with gender identity disorder wish to get rid of their genitals, the majority never act — often because hormones and other treatments help make them feel more comfortable, Brown said.

According to research by Brown, about 27,000 people nationwide have gender identity disorder. Experts estimate 500 to 750 Americans undergo the surgery each year, with hundreds more seeking the procedure abroad.

Treatment is more readily available outside prison, though dozens of other inmates nationwide have won the right to hormones and psychotherapy. Based on counts of inmates with gender identity disorder in a half dozen states and personal correspondence with inmates during his research, Brown estimates that at least 750 of the more than 2 million prisoners nationwide had gender identity disorder in 2007, his latest count.

Inmates in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Idaho also have sued to try to get the surgery, making arguments similar to De'lonta's that denying treatment violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment. All but one of those have failed; a decision in the decade-old Massachusetts lawsuit by convicted killer Michelle — born Robert — Kosilek is still pending.

Kosilek says that for her, sex reassignment surgery is a medical necessity, not a frivolous desire to change her appearance.

"Everybody has the right to have their health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the streets. People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or knees have surgery to repair those things," Kosilek told The Associated Press in a recent phone interview from a state prison in Norfolk, Mass.

"My medical needs are no less important or more important than the person in the cell next to me."

Federal courts have said prisons must provide adequate medical care, and that they must protect inmates from themselves. But correctional officials and lawmakers balk at using taxpayer money for sex-change operations that can cost up to $20,000.

A Massachusetts bill to ban the use of public funds for sex change procedures, hormones and other treatments has been before a joint committee since January. Wisconsin lawmakers passed the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act in 2006, but a federal judge declared it unconstitutional last year. The state appealed, and a decision is expected soon.

Republican Virginia Del. Todd Gilbert says he would seek state legislation if De'lonta's lawsuit is successful.

"The notion that taxpayers are going to fund a sex change is just ridiculous," says Gilbert.

Harold Clarke, who became Virginia's corrections director last year, says it would be a security risk to allow the surgeries because Virginia's inmates are housed according to their gender at birth, not anatomy. While De'lonta sleeps and showers alone, she is not segregated from male inmates. Her lawsuit also asks that she be moved to a women's prison.

Federal courts have said mental health professionals — not prison officials — should dictate treatment.

But Rudolph Alexander, an Ohio State University professor who has studied the treatment of inmates with gender identity disorder, believes mental health providers are reluctant to say the surgery is medically necessary because they fear for their jobs. Almost always, the deciding physician is a state employee or has a contract with it.

Advocates argue that treating repeated self-mutilations costs more than the surgeries. De'lonta, for example, has needed expensive airlifts three times for self-inflicted wounds.

The hormones and other treatments had kept her urges in check for years. She snapped Oct. 8 when an officer used a male pronoun toward her, despite a court order that prison workers refer to her as a woman.

"I screamed `She, damnit!' becoming so overwhelmed it was hard to breathe," De'lonta said.

Looking down, she felt repulsed and helpless. She cried herself to sleep, then hours later she prepared for her surgery attempt by covering her cell door's window with paper and putting towels around the commode.

Using knowledge gained from mail-order anatomy books, De'lonta cut on and off for three hours before she passed out. It took 21 stitches to repair the damage.

"It's like if this doesn't exist, then I won't have any more problems," she said.

Born Michael Stokes, she didn't understand from an early age why other girls' names were different from hers, or why she felt no connection to the boys in her gym class.

She constantly looked in mirrors and couldn't understand why the reflection was so unlike how she envisioned herself.

Years ago she legally changed her name. Ophelia was chosen for the Shakespearean woman who died for love; De'lonta because it was the last name of a slain friend; middle name Azriel for the angel who helps one cross over.

De'lonta first tried to cut herself when she was 12. By 17, she was robbing banks with the hopes of getting enough money to have a sex change operation. By 18, she was in prison, sentenced to more than 70 years for robbery, drugs, weapons and other charges.

I was wrong. This is a Pacino movie.

She is eligible for parole this year, but a wide range of prison infractions mean it's unlikely she'll be released any time soon. Asked why she can't just wait until she's free to get the surgery, De'lonta says she would if she could.

"This is not something that I have any control over," she says. "This is just how I was born."

Do you know whom to thank for this marvelous technology, kiddies?

From the Lancaster Sunday Snooze:

E-town firm fits Carlisle man with bionic knee

Meet the man with the $100,000 bionic knee.

  • Jake Schrom sits down to get an adjustment to his bionic knee prosthetic let at Hanger Prosthetics in Elizabethtown.

Meet the man with the $100,000 bionic knee.

With a mechanical hum, Jake Schrom stands and then begins to step deliberately across the lobby of an Elizabethtown business.

He extends a muscular leg and then a leg made from aluminum and composite materials, carefully alternating the size 11 1/2 sneakers he wears on his natural foot and his artificial foot.

With a mechanical hum, Jake Schrom stands and then begins to step deliberately across the lobby of an Elizabethtown business.

He extends a muscular leg and then a leg made from aluminum and composite materials, carefully alternating the size 11 1/2 sneakers he wears on his natural foot and his artificial foot.

Three years ago, the 23-year-old was recovering from having his right leg amputated 7 inches above the knee, after a dump truck rolled on top of him and crushed his leg.

Today, Schrom, who just graduated from Penn State University, works at a tree and landscaping service in Carlisle, goes to the mall with his girlfriend, drives a car and shops at Walmart.

"I don't consider myself disabled, for the most part. I do what I want to do," said Schrom, a muscular guy who can bench-press 385 pounds in the powerlifting contest of the Paralympics, a competition for disabled athletes.

Schrom recently got a Power Knee, a high-tech device contained in a sleek-looking artificial leg. He was fitted for the device at Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, which is on the west side of Elizabethtown.

Schrom was just the 10th civilian to receive the high-tech knee, said Jerry Max, a certified prosthetist at Hanger.

There's a hint.

Known as an "intelligent knee," it has a rechargeable battery that powers or propels the user, helping him to stand up from a sitting position, go up stairs foot over foot, step over curbs and do other activities. It even provides a small amount of resistance for walking downhill.

About 30 soldiers also have received the same high-tech knee, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.


The limb is the second artificial leg that Schrom has received since his May 2008 accident.

It is a definite step up.

"It's a huge development," Max said. "It's like a bicycle versus a motorcycle, and he has the motorcycle."

Schrom lost his leg the summer after his sophomore year at Penn State, where he was studying forestry at the Mont Alto campus.

Working for his grandfather's tree service company, he was driving a dump truck when its brakes failed.

Schrom steered the truck into a drainage ditch and it rolled, throwing him out of a window and trapping him underneath for 45 minutes.

He was taken into surgery. When he came to four days later, he didn't realize that his right leg had been amputated until his brother sat down on his hospital bed right where his leg should have been.

In the months after his accident, Schrom worked through the pain of his recovery and, with the encouragement of other amputees, quickly decided he wanted an artificial leg.

"I never doubted that I would be able to do what I wanted to do," he said.

Five months after his accident, he got his first prosthetic device, called a C-Leg, eventually returning to Penn State.

That leg was more passive. To use it, Schrom had to learn to "throw" the artificial leg in front of him as he walked. It took effort to stand and to go up steps. The process was very tiring, he said.

His new leg, which weighs about seven pounds, has multiple sensors that monitor the position and the movement of the knee. A computer helps to figure out what the user is doing and then predicts the next movement he will make.

Schrom said he qualified for the expensive knee through workers' compensation insurance. Most private insurance companies will not pay for the knee, Max said.

He's getting adjustments and help at Hanger's Elizabethtown office. That is the national company's main branch in this region, and it also has satellite offices in Lancaster, York, Harrisburg and other cities.

Since his graduation, Schrom, who lives in Carlisle, has worked full time in the family tree and landscaping service. His job takes him from an office out into clients' backyards. With practice, he anticipates being able to navigate over steppingstones and up and down hills with ease.

Self-conscious at first about his artificial leg, he no longer is. Schrom said people see or hear his Power Knee, and it turns heads.

"It's a lot more advanced than people have ever seen," he said. "It's a cool robotic deal."

And it's improved his life.

"Before, I walked because I had to," he said. "Now, I walk more for fun."


From the Middletown Journal:

Jonah Goldberg: The shifting ground of race

Princeton’s Cornel West, one of the most famous black intellectuals in America, says that President Obama is afraid of “free black men.” Because of Obama’s atypical upbringing, West says, “when he meets these independent black folk who have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow and so on, he is very apprehensive. He has a certain rootlessness, a de-racination.”

With whom does the rootless cosmopolitan-in-chief find himself most comfortable? Jews and rich white men, says West. No surprise given the professor’s view that Obama is a “black mascot” and a “black puppet” for Wall Street and corporate America.

Meanwhile, Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking Democrat in the House, offers a far more familiar if no more persuasive take: “The president’s problems are in large measure because of his skin color.”

If forced to choose, I’d say West has the slightly more plausible position, only insofar as there’s an argument to be made that Obama has been a puppet of Wall Street. What that has to do with his skin color is beyond me (a community organizer with a phobia about “black folk,” married to a black woman, strikes me as the recipe for a hilarious Tyler Perry sitcom).

Still, I find the whole thing fascinating. Here are West and Clyburn, two of the most influential black people in America, bitterly clinging, as Obama might say, to ideologically racial views — He’s not black enough! He’s too black for racist Americans! — that have less and less relevance. This is not to say that there is no racial animus against Obama. Of course there is. But is it significant, as Clyburn suggests? Well, certainly not enough to keep him from being elected president of the United States (!) or being the establishment favorite to be re-elected.

Clyburn’s take strikes me as the left-wing version of the right-wing theory — popularized by Dinesh D’Souza — that everything Obama does can be explained by his allegedly “post-colonial” worldview. Simpler explanations are available. Obama’s a liberal Democrat. He does things a white liberal Democrat would do, and he receives mostly the same opposition a white liberal Democrat would receive. If a President John Edwards (shudder) had rammed through the economic stimulus or “EdwardsCare” the same way Obama did, Republicans wouldn’t say, “Well, since he’s white, it’s OK.”

Take the “tea parties,” which have been accused of racism by the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, mainstream media outlets and entertainer-activists such as Janeane Garofalo, who proclaimed they are “about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up.” So, after nearly two years of “experts” telling us that the typical tea party member is two holes in a white sheet shy of being a Klansman, guess who is arguably the most popular tea party candidate for president? Herman Cain, a black businessman.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the changing racial landscape comes with voting patterns, though not at the ballot box. Blacks — particularly among the young and educated — are voting with their feet by leaving cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit in huge numbers and moving to places like Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas. Clement Price, a Rutgers history professor, told the New York Times, “The black urban experience has essentially lost its appeal with blacks in America.”

(One reason that might be the case: Black entrepreneurialism skyrocketed from 2002-07, according to the census. Perhaps the rise in black-owned small businesses breeds disenchantment with big-city bureaucracy?)

For years, liberals have glibly smeared the GOP as racist because it is disproportionately Southern. Obviously there are historical reasons behind the charge, but in 2011? If the region is so racist, why are blacks so eager to flee to the less “progressive” South?

Blacks are still largely lockstep Democratic voters and will probably remain so for a while. But when you listen to the likes of West and Clyburn, never mind silly white liberals like Garofalo, one cannot help but be reassured that the ground is shifting under their feet as inexorably as it shifted under the feet of racists more than a generation ago.

Jonah Goldberg is a syndicated columnist. Email: JonahsColumn@aol.com.


Roto-Reuters: Obama's rating on economy hits new low: poll


Will Weiner the weiner and his weiner [known henceforth as Tiny Tony] stay in Congress?

I'm joking, of course. In the Pervert Party, what Weiner did is considered cute and clever. His Democrass pals wouldn't force him out even if they found a harem of pubescent Thai transvestites chained in his crawlspace. [Don't you get any ideas, Barney Chokesondick!]

Congressthingee Anthony Weiner admits tweeting lewd photo, and more

The Democratic congressman from New York admits sending a sexually suggestive photo to a college student and inappropriate contact with other women online. He says he won't resign. Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner was a nearly ubiquitous media presence last week, making the rounds of TV news shows to protest his innocence: No, the New York congressman said repeatedly, he did not tweet a sexually ...
- Los Angeles Times

Monday, June 06, 2011

John Henry Johnson, Requiescat In Pace.

Mr. Johnson was a bright light on some Steeler teams who weren't quite championship material.

John Henry Johnson Dies at 81; Inspired Fear on the Field - NY Times

John Henry Johnson, a brawny but agile runner and a powerful blocker who starred for the San Francisco 49ers, the Detroit Lions and the Pittsburgh Steelers in a Hall of Fame career spanning 13 professional football seasons, died Friday in Tracy, Calif. He was 81.

John Henry Johnson, left, with quarterback Bobby Layne, a fellow Hall of Famer, in 1962. Layne called him “my bodyguard.”

The 49ers announced Johnson’s death but did not report the cause. He was found to have Alzheimer’s disease in 1989, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported in 1999, when his wife, Leona, enrolled him in a research program for the disease while they were living in Cleveland.

Playing halfback and fullback, Johnson, 6 feet 2 inches and 210 pounds or so, looked to intimidate opposing linemen by charging directly at them, and when he did not run over them, he used his quickness to cut and then head downfield.

“You’ve got to scare your opponent,” Johnson was quoted by Lew Freedman as saying in “Pittsburgh Steelers: The Complete Illustrated History.”

“It sort of upsets their concentration. I find I can run away from a lot of guys after I get them afraid of a collision with me.”

In his first three seasons in the National Football League, Johnson teamed with quarterback Y. A. Tittle, fullback Joe Perry and halfback Hugh McElhenny, all four of them future Hall of Famers, in the 49ers’ Million Dollar Backfield of the mid-1950s. They played long before six- and seven-figure salaries, earning the nickname for their offensive prowess.

After three seasons with San Francisco, Johnson was traded to the Lions in 1957 and led them in rushing yardage when they won the N.F.L. championship that season.

But Johnson’s best seasons came while playing for the Steelers from 1960 to 1965. He became the first Steeler to gain 1,000 yards rushing in a season, exceeding that milestone twice.

When he retired after the 1966 season, playing his final year with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League, Johnson was pro football’s No. 4 career rusher, behind Jim Brown, Jim Taylor and his former 49er teammate Perry, who died in April at 84. A four-time Pro Bowl player, Johnson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Johnson was born on Nov. 24, 1929, in Waterproof, La., but grew up in the Bay Area. After playing at St. Mary’s College in California and at Arizona State, he was the Steelers’ second-round draft selection in 1953. He played one season for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League, then joined the 49ers.

In his rookie year, Johnson was the runner-up for the N.F.L. rushing title, behind Perry, whom he often sprang with his blocks. He was also formidable in protecting quarterbacks.

“John Henry is my bodyguard,” the star passer Bobby Layne, who played with Johnson on the Lions and the Steelers, once remarked, as related by NFL.com. “Half the good runners will get a passer killed if you keep them around long enough. But a quarterback hits the jackpot when he gets a combination runner-blocker like Johnson.”

Johnson ran for 6,803 career yards, averaging 4.3 yards a carry. He scored 48 rushing touchdowns and 7 as a receiver.

His survivors include five children, The San Francisco Chronicle said. Johnson’s bruising play as a runner and a blocker impressed his teammates, but it brought mixed feelings for at least one of his offensive linemen when the 49ers would approach an opponent’s goal line.

“I just hoped there would be a hole there, because if there wasn’t, John was running up my back,” the star offensive tackle Bob St. Clair told The Contra Costa Times in 2006. “I could feel those cleats going up to my spine, and into the end zone he’d go.”

Armand Chevalier, Requiescat In Pace.

Papa Joe was one of the very few sports-talk hosts worth a tinker's cuss. He was a Pittsburgher, a conservative, and a true sports fan. He hated the Yankees [Ptooey!] and was never afraid to tell the powers that be to "Bite Me!"

In a world filled with corporate white bread talking heads, he was a real mensch.

May God welcome you into his loving embrace, Papa, and thanks.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

'Papa Joe' Chevalier Dies At Age 62

Armand "Papa Joe" Chevalier, a longtime Las Vegas resident who built a wide following with his local and syndicated sports talk radio show, died Friday from complications of a stroke at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas. He was 62.

Chevalier, popular for expressing views that largely represented the average sports fan, suffered a stroke in late March that resulted in paralysis to his right side. His speech and cognitive processes were not affected.

"You know how people say I've fallen and I can't get up? Well, I've fallen and I can't get up," Chevalier said April 7 at Desert Springs Hospital.

Although he was in good spirits then, family members said Chevalier grew despondent over his situation and the long rehabilitation ahead.

"I don't know if he had given up or what," said Art Chevalier, Joe's brother. "He just wasn't eating enough, wasn't sleeping enough to keep going after it."

Former Las Vegas sportscaster Ron Futrell worked alongside Chevalier at Sports Fan Radio Network, which broadcast from 1996 to 2001 in Las Vegas, and considered Chevalier a close friend.

"What I really liked about him was that his view was the fan's view, and he took great pride in that," Futrell said.

"When I think of Las Vegas sports talk radio, I think of Joe and Lee Pete. They were the legends, and within the last two years, we have lost them both."

Chevalier was born and raised in Pittsburgh but made his name in Las Vegas. He eventually moved to Chicago, where "The Papa Joe Show" was nationally syndicated by the Sporting News Radio Network until 2005.

Before returning to Las Vegas, Chevalier became known for "Bite Me Wednesday," in which he would encourage fans to call in and air grievances, and his show was featured in "Sports Talk: A Journey Inside the World of Sports Talk Radio," a 2001 book by Alan Eisenstock about the genre's growing popularity.

Art Chevalier said his brother was the same person off the air as on it, which resonated with his fans and friends.

"He didn't mince words, and that's why people loved him," Art Chevalier said. "You might not agree with him, but you knew where he stood."

Joe Chevalier was single and lived alone in Las Vegas. Plans for a service or memorial are pending.

About Me

My photo
First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.


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