Tag Archives: Jonathan Turley

The “Where’s The Beef?” Lady Is Probably Dead By Now

Erik Hayden at The Atlantic:

Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” appears to be a clever mirage. That’s what an Alabama law firm is alleging when it slapped the chain with a “false advertising” suit for misleading customers about the actual content of its Taco fillings. Surprise! The “meat” is only 36 percent actual beef.

Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo:

Taco Bell “beef” pseudo-Mexican delicacies are really made of a gross mixture called “Taco Meat Filling” as shown on their big container’s labels, like the one pictured here. The list of ingredients is gruesome. Updated.

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

It looks bad but passable… until you learn that—according to the Alabama law firm suing Taco Bell—only 36% of that is beef. Thirty-six percent. The other 64% is mostly tasteless fibers, various industrial additives and some flavoring and coloring. Everything is processed into a mass that actually looks like beef, and packed into big containers labeled as “taco meat filling.” These containers get shipped to Taco Bell’s outlets and cooked into something that looks like beef, is called beef and is advertised as beef by the fast food chain.

Can you call beef something that looks like ground beef but it’s 64% lots-of-other-stuff? Taco Bell thinks they can.

Jonathan Turley:

Taco Bell Corporation spokesman Rob Poetsch responded by saying that “Taco Bell prides itself on serving high quality Mexican inspired food with great value. We’re happy that the millions of customers we serve every week agree. We deny our advertising is misleading in any way and we intend to vigorously defend the suit.” That is an interesting statement. It does not appear to deny that it is serving marginal beef products but that the company never really promised anything more than it serves. Presumably, if the company issued a statement that it was in fact serving “beef” in response to this lawsuit, it could be cited as part of the alleged effort to deceive in advertising (assuming they are not serving “beef” as defined by federal law).

The class action alleges the company is serving what is referred to as “taco meat filling, which is comprised mainly of “extenders” and other non-meat substances, including wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate as well as beef and seasonings. Of course, the company could claim that it is the anti-dusting agents and maltrodrexin that gives it that “high quality Mexican inspired food” taste but it would not actually have most Americans “running to the border.”

MB Quirk at The Consumerist:

Hey, at least they’re making the distinction of “Mexican inspired food,” although that might be stretching it, too.

Robert Sietsema at The Village Voice:

Five Reasons You Should Hate Taco Bell, Besides the Lack of Real Meat

1. Meat, schmeat – are you ever certain of the meat supply at any fast food outlet? A few years ago, there was a website that claimed the average McDonald’s hamburger had been lodged in permafrost for around three years before it was thawed and served at an outlet. The rancid meat explains the odd smell you associate with stepping into a McDonalds.

2. When you order something made with ground meat (we used to call it “mystery meat” in school), you get exactly what you deserve. I’m much more annoyed by the other ingredients at Taco Bell – the gummy flour tortillas that turn into glue in your mouth, or the weird micro-“cheese” curls that seem to be poking out of every orifice: The white ones look exactly like pinworms.

3. The astonishing lack of spice in nearly everything you get at TB (that’s Taco Bell, not tuberculosis – though maybe you’ll get that, too, if you linger long enough). And the little plastic packets containing what tastes like Tabasco — when there are zillions of authentic Mexican hot sauces available — don’t help at all.

4. What Taco Bell has done to Mexican food, which – with its dependence on minimally refined corn products, beans, and fresh vegetables – must be one of the healthiest cuisines on earth, is criminal! The chiles, cumin, oregano, scallions, and other herbs and spices seem to be entirely missing, and in their place, bad mayo.

5. Have you ever seen a Mexican eating in Taco Bell?

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Filed under Economics, Food

Paging Chris Rock…

Marc Schultz at Publishers Weekly:

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic by most any measure—T.S. Eliot called it a masterpiece, and Ernest Hemingway pronounced it the source of “all modern American literature.” Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation’s most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single, singularly offensive word: “nigger.”

Twain himself defined a “classic” as “a book which people praise and don’t read.” Rather than see Twain’s most important work succumb to that fate, Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn, in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, that does away with the “n” word (as well as the “in” word, “Injun”) by replacing it with the word “slave.”

“This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind,” said Gribben, speaking from his office at Auburn University at Montgomery, where he’s spent most of the past 20 years heading the English department. “Race matters in these books. It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

The idea of a more politically correct Finn came to the 69-year-old English professor over years of teaching and outreach, during which he habitually replaced the word with “slave” when reading aloud. Gribben grew up without ever hearing the “n” word (“My mother said it’s only useful to identify [those who use it as] the wrong kind of people”) and became increasingly aware of its jarring effect as he moved South and started a family. “My daughter went to a magnet school and one of her best friends was an African-American girl. She loathed the book, could barely read it.”

Keith Staskiewicz at Daily Caller:

Unsurprisingly, there are already those who are yelling “Censorship!” as well as others with thesauruses yelling “Bowdlerization!” and “Comstockery!” Their position is understandable: Twain’s book has been one of the most often misunderstood novels of all time, continuously being accused of perpetuating the prejudiced attitudes it is criticizing, and it’s a little disheartening to see a cave-in to those who would ban a book simply because it requires context.

Jack Turner at Jack and Jill:

My immediate reaction was  that this is taking the easy way out, is ignoring the truth of the history of language at the time and is diluting a piece of great literature from one of America’s greatest commenters. How are people to discuss the history of language and dehumanization and racism inherent in it if you replace “nigger” and “injun” both with the generic “slave?” However, I also believe that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer have value far beyond their use of the word “nigger,” and if that word is preventing a generation from accessing something other than Snooki’s new novel, then I understand the motivation to create a more “accessible” version for young readers who might perhaps graduate to untampered versions later in life.

Jonathan Turley:

Replacing this word with “slave” can change the meaning and certainly the intent of Twain. Consider the following line:

“Oh, yes, this is a wonderful govment, wonderful. Why, looky here. There was a free nigger slave there from Ohio – a mulatter, most as white as a white man. He had the whitest shirt on you ever see…

The difference may be subtle but Twain clearly could have used slave. The word existed at the time. Twain chose the n-word to convey something beyond captive status. It was a word used widely. It is still used in literary works to say something about the people who use it.

Other authors like William Faulkner used this word in capturing the culture of the South. Consider the following passage from Go Down, Moses (1940):

This delta, he thought: This Delta. This land which man has deswamped and denuded and derivered in two generations so that white men can own plantations and commute every night to Memphis and black men own plantations and ride in jim crow cars to Chicago to live in millionaires’ mansions on Lakeshore Drive, where white men rent farms and live like niggers and niggers crop on shares and live like animals, where cotton is planted and grows man-tall in the very cracks of the sidewalks, and ursury and mortgage and bankcruptcy and measureless wealth, Chinese and African and Aryan and Jew, all breed and spawn together until no man has time to say which is which nor cares…. No wonder the ruined woods I used to know don’t cry for retribution! He thought: The people who have destroyed it will accomplish its revenge.

Would we rewrite Faulkner as well? How about all of the modern movies and books using this term as part of modern urban speech? Authors write to capture characters who are often racist or living in racist times. This publisher may billed itself as the “NewSouth” but this book was written about the Old South. To sanitize history or literature is an act of violence against the artistic work of these authors.

I find the editing of a great literary work to be nothing short of shameful and shocking, but views can differ on such a question. I would be interested in the views of others on the blog.

Doug Mataconis:

One writer at CNN compares the modifications to the changes that broadcast television networks make when the air movies:

If this puts the book into the hands of kids who would not otherwise be allowed to read it due to forces beyond their control (overprotective parents and the school boards they frighten), then maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

It’s unfortunate, but is it really any more catastrophic than a TBS-friendly re-edit of “The Godfather,” you down-and-dirty melon farmer?

The original product is changed for the benefit of those who, for one reason or another, are not mature enough to handle it, but as long as it doesn’t affect the original, is there a problem?

This analogy simply doesn’t work. Neither the expletives nor things like the graphic details of the “horses head” scene or the brief sex scene between Michael Corleone and his first wife Appolonia are essential elements of the story that Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola are trying to tell in The Godfather. These items can be removed or modified for airing on broadcast television without taking away from the central themes of the story. This is not the case with either Sawyer or Finn, both books are set in a time period when racial tensions were a central part of life and are based, to a large degree, on the racially prejudices that Twain himself encountered as a child growing up in Missouri. This is especially true of Huckleberry Finn where, despite the fact that “the n-word” appears 219 times, it’s fairly obvious that Twain is condemning racial prejudice and that one of the central themes of the book is the process by which Huck discovers that the things he’d been taught by society by blacks were wrong, and that his companion him was, in fact, an heroic figure.Twain’s use of a word that, even in his time, was meant to be insulting and demeaning, was deliberate and removing it because of “sensitivities” seems to me to detract significantly from the overall power of the novel.

Beyond this, editing these novels like this strikes me as being the literary equivalent of putting a shroud around the waist of Michealangelo’s David, or covering the breasts of a woman in a Rubens painting. These are great works of art, changing them like this is troublesome and outrageous on a fundamental level.

Kevin Drum:

I think I’d agree with Doug in nearly every other case. But the problem with Huckleberry Finn is that, like it or not, most high school teachers only have two choices these days: teach a bowdlerized version or don’t teach it at all. It’s simply no longer possible to assign a book to American high school kids that assaults them with the word nigger so relentlessly. As Twain scholar Alan Gribben, who led the bowdlerization effort, explained, “After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach [Tom Sawyer] and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.”

Given that choice, I guess I’d bowdlerize. After all, the original text will remain available, and teachers can explain the wording change to their classes if they want to. (Though even that’s probably difficult.) And frankly, I doubt that the power of the novel is compromised all that much for 17-year-olds by doing this. In fact, given the difference in the level of offensiveness of the word nigger in 2010 vs. 1884, it’s entirely possible that in 2010 the bowdlerized version more closely resembles the intended emotional impact of the book than the original version does. Twain may have meant to shock, but I don’t think he ever intended for the word to completely swamp the reader’s emotional reaction to the book. Today, though, that’s exactly what it does.

In any case, the only realistic alternative is that Huckleberry Finn vanishes from high schools and becomes a book taught solely at the university level. Maybe that’s better. But I doubt it.

Oliver Willis:

Yes, the word “nigger” is offensive as hell. But it’s in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for a reason, and removing it is really stupid and counterproductive.

You don’t teach people about history by self-censoring it. And Finn is one of the great works of American literature. Rather than run for the hills at the sign of controversy, we ought to be teaching students why the word is used in the book, and what its significance is.

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Filed under Books, Race

And He Was Installing The Alarm System, Too…

Melissa Bell at WaPo:

One oft-told tale of Pablo Picasso is that when presented with a bill at a bar, he’d whip off a sketch on a napkin, sign and date it, and the bill would be considered paid. The artist produced some 20,000 pieces of work in his long life, the Metropolitan Museum of Art told the Associated Press. And 271 of those pieces have just been discovered in a trunk at a retired French electrician’s home.

Jeff Neumann at Gawker:

A retired French electrician, Pierre Le Guennecsays he has “hundreds” of Picasso paintings, notebooks, lithographs and a watercolor believed to be worth around 60 million euros, which he claims Picasso gave him as a gift. Picasso’s son disagrees.

Tyler Cowen

Kate Deimling at Art Info:

Including lithographs, paintings, drawings, and a Blue Period watercolor — none of which appears in the inventory of Picasso’s estate — the trove is valued at €60 million ($79 million), according to French paper Libération, which broke the story. Experts estimate the nine Cubist collages alone to be worth €40 million ($53 million). The 71-year-old electrician managed to have the works authenticated by the artist’s estate in September, but the estate subsequently sued for possession of stolen goods and the works were seized last month by the Office Central de Lutte contre le Trafic de Biens Culturels, the French art-trafficking squad.

Jonathan Turley:

The very notion of 271 new Picasso paintings is amazing. The man worked for Picasso in the 1970s and this could create a fascinating contest over credibility if has no written record. The absence of any prior disclosure certainly makes the claim somewhat suspicious. Such cases can become the ultimate jury question — with members looking at the practices of the artist. It is quite common for many artists to give away their works, even as payment for services. This number of paintings, however, would represent a lot of work or a lot of friendship. It is also striking that the paintings were not previously known to be missing.

Picasso died a few years later and was already an international superstar in the art field. This was not some starving painter trading paintings for baguettes. Moreover, it is hard to see how much of a friendship could have developed over the course of the installation of a security system. Of course, there is always the possibility that Picasso was simply eccentric and a bit daffy in his final years. Anyway it goes, it should make for an interesting tort or criminal case or both.

Jen Doll at Village Voice:

Aspiring screenwriters, take note. This is a plot goldmine.

Let the art ownership battle begin.

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Man Lied To Get A Woman Into Bed. In Other News, The Sky Is Blue.

Max Fisher at The Atlantic with a round-up.

Jo Adetunji and Harriet Sherwood at The Guardian:

A Palestinian man has been convicted of rape after having consensual sex with a woman who had believed him to be a fellow Jew.

Sabbar Kashur, 30, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday after the court ruled that he was guilty of rape by deception. According to the complaint filed by the woman with the Jerusalem district court, the two met in downtown Jerusalem in September 2008 where Kashur, an Arab from East Jerusalem, introduced himself as a Jewish bachelor seeking a serious relationship. The two then had consensual sex in a nearby building before Kashur left.

When she later found out that he was not Jewish but an Arab, she filed a criminal complaint for rape and indecent assault.

Although Kashur was initially charged with rape and indecent assault, this was changed to a charge of rape by deception as part of a plea bargain arrangement.

Handing down the verdict, Tzvi Segal, one of three judges on the case, acknowledged that sex had been consensual but said that although not “a classical rape by force,” the woman would not have consented if she had not believed Kashur was Jewish.

The sex therefore was obtained under false pretences, the judges said. “If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated,” they added.

The court ruled that Kashur should receive a jail term and rejected the option of a six-month community service order. He was said to be seeking to appeal.

Segal said: “The court is obliged to protect the public interest from sophisticated, smooth-tongued criminals who can deceive innocent victims at an unbearable price – the sanctity of their bodies and souls. When the very basis of trust between human beings drops, especially when the matters at hand are so intimate, sensitive and fateful, the court is required to stand firmly at the side of the victims – actual and potential – to protect their wellbeing. Otherwise, they will be used, manipulated and misled, while paying only a tolerable and symbolic price.”

Al-Jazeera:

The Israeli criminal code mentions “deceit” as a possible aggravating factor in sexual assault cases and the verdict in Kashur’s case is not the first time an Israeli court has sentenced a man for “rape by deception,” according to several Israeli lawyers.

The most notable case was in 2008, when Israel’s high court of justice upheld the conviction of Zvi Sleiman, a man who impersonated a housing ministry official and promised women apartments and benefits in exchange for sex.

A rape conviction sentence could be upheld, the court ruled, when “a person lies does not tell the truth regarding critical matters to a reasonable woman”.

Several other men have been convicted of “rape by deception” since that ruling.

But the Kashur case appears to be the first time a person’s race has been used as the determining factor.

“In this case, the ruling seems to say that if a ‘reasonable’ Jewish woman knew a man was an Arab, then she would not make love to him,” Abeer Baker, an attorney with Adalah, an organisation that advocates for Arab rights in Israel, said.

Baker called it a “dangerous precedent,” saying it would allow the Israeli government to interfere in the private lives of citizens.

“It’s interfering in a very intimate, personal decision,” she said. “That should be made between two people. The court should not interfere.”

Open hostility

Similar laws have been controversial in other countries, as well. A man in the United States was convicted in 2007 of impersonating his brother in order to have sex with his girlfriend. That conviction was overturned on appeal, though, after an appellate court ruled that rape laws apply only to non-consensual sex.

Kashur’s case also highlights the open hostility with which many Israeli Jews view mixed relationships with Arabs, who make up one-fifth of the population of Israel.

A poll conducted in 2007 by Israel’s Geocartography Institute found that more than 50 per cent of Israeli Jews thought marrying an Arab was “equal to national treason”. Jews are legally forbidden to intermarry in Israel.

The Sunday Times reported in 2009 on a squad of “vigilantes” in the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Zeev. The group has patrolled the streets for more than a decade looking for mixed couples.

And in 2009, the town of Petah Tikva established a team of counsellors and psychologists to “rescue” Jewish women from relationships with Arab men.

The Israeli daily Maariv reported in February that Tel Aviv had launched a similar programme.

Eugene Volokh:

Such “fraud in the inducement” would not suffice for a rape conviction under the law of most American states (see, e.g., this case), though it’s an interesting question why it’s a crime to get money by fraud but not to get sex by fraud. There are good answers to that question, I think, but they’re not so obviously right as to keep the question from being interesting.

For some thoughts from last year on a proposal in Massachusetts that might have allowed liability in such a situation, see here. Also, it appears that a few American rape statutes might already criminalize sex procured through false statements. State v. Tizard, 897 S.W.2d 732 (Tenn. Ct. Crim. App. 1994) holds that Tennessee law rejects the distinction between “fraud in the inducement” and “fraud in the fact,” which is what has prevented rape prosecutions in cases such as the Israeli one; the facts of Tizard, though, are rather different — the defendant was lying about the supposed medical reason of the sexual act (there, the defendant’s masturbation of the victim, though the analysis would be the same for intercourse) rather than about the defendant’s identity. And some states generally provide that “assent does not constitute consent if … [i]t is induced by force, duress, or deception” (to quote Colo. Rev. Stats. Ann. § 18–1-505), which would in principle apply to rape cases as well.

If anyone can point me to the written opinion in the case, I’d be much obliged, both so I can blog about it and so I can use it in my Criminal Law class this Fall (I have a unit on fraud in the section on the law of rape). Thanks to Mike Sheridan for the pointer.

UPDATE: Several commenters raise a point that was also made by one of the source cited in the article: “Gideon Levy, a liberal Israeli commentator, was quoted as saying: ‘I would like to raise only one question with the judge. What if this guy had been a Jew who pretended to be a Muslim and had sex with a Muslim woman? Would he have been convicted of rape? The answer is: of course not.’”

It’s certainly possible that a court would have — and still would in the future, even given this decision — acquit this hypothetical Jew-pretending-to-be-a-Muslim defendant. But I’m just not sure that one can categorically assume this, especially in light of the judges’ rhetoric. It seems to me that Jewish judges might well think the lying Jew’s behavior is as deceptive, manipulative, and injurious to “the sanctity of [victims’] bodies and souls” as a lying Muslim’s, and that the deceived Muslim woman should be as protected as a deceived Jewish woman. And this is so even given the undoubted psychological reality that judges, like other people, generally tend to empathize more with people who are like themselves. Despite this reality, judges may still empathize enough with people who are less like themselves.

Now I’m certainly not an expert on Israeli judges’ attitudes, and I’d be happy to hear the views of people who have lived in Israel and have a sense of how the Israeli legal system would deal with this situation. But I’m reluctant to accept the assumptions of the one Israeli commentator who was quoted, at least unless I hear a broader range of people confirming his judgment.

Jonathan Turley:

That reads uncomfortably close to old miscegenation cases where judges sought to protect women from “smooth-taking” black men.

Even in cases where women have been falsely told that a lover does not carry an STD, the matter is addressed in the United States as a matter of civil not criminal battery. Does this mean that any false fact used in a one-night stand is now a criminal matter deserving of jail or it is only Arab status that gets that level of punishment? For example, if a Israeli man says he is unmarried and looking for a lasting relationship, can he be jailed? If so, the Israeli jail would be stuffed to over-capacity.

We have been following a crackdown on Israeli women dating Arab men recently.

Richard Lawson at Gawker

The Jawa Report:

Frankly, one has to wonder about this case. I suspect it’s somewhat common for a man to tell a woman lies while trying to bed her.

In fact I heard about one case where a woman sued a man for lying because he said he would take her to Florida if she went to bed with him. The case was thrown out after the man explained that he never said he was going to take her to Florida, rather he said he was going to tamper with her.

Heh.

Robert Stacy McCain:

Obtaining sex “under false pretences” is a crime in Israel? It’s against the law in Israel to get sex by feigning interest in “a serious romantic relationship”? OK, you bachelors out there, let’s have a show of hands: How many of you guys have ever lied to get some nookie?

Everybody? I thought so.

Just don’t try that in Jerusalem, buddy. And let this be a lesson to you Israeli ladies: Just because a goyim tells you it’s kosher . . .

UPDATE: Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon

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Filed under Crime, Families, Israel/Palestine

A Pretty Girl Is Like A Conspiracy

Daniel Pipes:

News that Rima Fakih, 24, of Dearborn, Michigan, won the Miss USA beauty pageant today prompts me to recall some prior instances of Muslim women winning beauty contests in Western countries.

Rima Fakih .

Juliette Boubaaya, 19, was Mlle Picardie in 2009.

Julliette Boubaaya.

Nora Ali was America’s Junior Miss in 2007.

Nora Ali.

Hammasa Kohistani, 19, was Miss England in 2006.

Hammasa Kohistani.

Sarah Mendly, 23, was Miss Nottingham in 2005.

Sarah Mendly.

They are all attractive, but this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action.

David Weigel:

Wow. Citing five Muslim victories in beauty pageants over the past five years, Pipes says that “this surprising frequency of Muslims winning beauty pageants makes me suspect an odd form of affirmative action,” then offers an update from a reader:

[O]n a more serious level, affirmative action appears to play a role in some of the Nobel Prizes.

And more reader insight:

No surprise here. Affirmative action was first applied in beauty contests for black women to win in the 1980s, then it was the turn of Latin, brown skinned women, and now it’s Muslims. That’s why most people ignore these rigged “events.” They are money losers and require controversy.

This comes not from a penny ante blogger but from a former State Department staffer, former member of the United States Institute of Peace (holding a recess appointment after being filibustered by Democrats), and former adviser to Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. Just wow.

Steve Benen:

My favorite part of Pipes’ conspiracy theory? He noted that the results “prompted” him to “recall some prior instances of Muslim women winning beauty contests in Western countries.”

In other words, a prominent conservative “thinker” is not only bothered by the winner of the Miss USA pageant, but he cares enough about the matter to “recall” similar instances — as if he actually keeps track of such things.

Debbie Schlussel:

It’s a sad day in America but a very predictable one, given the politically correct, Islamo-pandering climate in which we’re mired.  The Hezbollah-supporting Shi’ite Muslim, Miss Michigan Rima Fakihwhose bid for the pageant was financed by an Islamic terrorist and immigration fraud perpetrator–won the Miss USA contest. I was on top of this story before anyone, telling you about who Fakih is and her extremist and deadly ties.

No, it’s not “just another beauty pageant.”  Donald Trump, Muslims (who mostly support Islamic terrorist groups, like Hezbollah, which features many of Fakih’s close relatives as top officials), and even Barack Obama will exploit this as propaganda for Islam.  Mark my word.  Hezbollah is laughing at us, tonight.  One of its auxiliary members won the Miss USA title without having to do a thing to denounce them and their bloody murder of hundreds of Americans, including the trampling/torture murder of Navy Diver Robert Dean Stethem aboard TWA flight 847, the 25th anniversary of which is next month.

Dhimmi Donald Trump simply didn’t have the guts to demand that Fakih denounce the Islamic group Hezbollah, whose martyrs and top terrorists are Fakih family members.  It doesn’t matter to the Donald that this is the terrorist group that murdered more Americans than any other after Al-Qaeda, and probably more, when you count its joint ventures with Hezbollah.  Trump made a bigger deal with Miss California USA and her bimbo activities, when–hellooooo–it’s a bimbo contest.  Now, Hezbollah has the chief USA bimbo.  And they’ll use it.

I don’t just wonder if this whole contest is rigged.  I have a feeling that it is.  Clearly, there is affirmative action for Muslim women in beauty pageants and other such “contests.”

Michelle Malkin:

She nearly tripped over her gown.

She called birth control a “controlled substance.”

She argued that contraceptives should be covered by health insurers because they are “expensive” — and then said you could get them for “free” from your OB/GYN’s office.

And now she is the new Miss USA:

Rima Fakih of Dearborn, Mich., won the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after swimsuit, evening gown and interview competitions. When asked how she felt about winning the crown, she said, “Ask me after I’ve had a pizza.”

Fakih nearly fell while finishing her walk in a long, strapless gown because of the length of its train, but she made it without a spill and went on to win.

During the interview portion, Fakih was asked whether she thought birth control should be paid for by health insurance, and she said she believed it should because it’s costly.

“I believe that birth control is just like every other medication even though it’s a controlled substance,” Fakih said.

Imagine if those words had come out of the mouth of Carrie Prejean or Sarah Palin.

Between the NYTimes, MSNBC, Jon Stewart, and the late night talkers, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.

Does this woman know what a “controlled substance” is?

More importantly: Does she even comprehend the concept of insurance? The purpose of insurance isn’t to cover every last medical expense. It’s supposed to cover events that are beyond your control. Should auto insurers now cover oil changes and satellite radio installations? I mean, hey, they’re “expensive,” too!

Fakih’s cheerleaders are too busy tooting the identity politics horn to care what comes out of her mouth

The Anchoress at First Things:

She may not be the smartest thing on two legs, but she is not supposed to be an intellectual. Think of the intellectuals you know or have read, and ask yourself if you want any of them to be your Miss USA.

Miss USA is supposed to be heart-stoppingly beautiful, and that is all; that Fakih certainly is.

Moreover, she is a testament to the fast-fading notion that in America, every avenue of opportunity is wide-open for every sort of person with a dream.

Some are declaring that Fakih won the contest because of politics, because the judges disliked another contestant’s answer on the recent Arizona immigration statutes. I suppose that’s possible.

It is also possible that the judges simply thought Fakih more naturally, and exotically beautiful than the rather over-produced-unto-softporn-looking Morgan Elizabeth Woolard, whose answer to the question, it must be said, seemed to strive for something like balance.

Donald Trump, who owns the pageant
, is likely not bothered by these political questions; there is no such thing as bad publicity, after all, but the superficiality of the event itself, and its time constraints, only serve to cheapen questions that are deserving of weighty consideration. These crash-test Q & A’s only speed up America’s devolution into the “I hate this; I love that and I can’t tell you why” factions that are weakening public discourse and further balkanizing a nation already under heavy strain.

To those who are already half-crazed with paranoia and beholden to complicated conspiracy theories, this stuff is manna. But not the heavenly kind.

I am not sure how a beautiful Muslim woman strutting before millions in a bikini (or tripping in a low-cut evening gown) is going to somehow please those religious fundamentalists devoted to hijab. Rather than accuse Rima Fakih of serving Shari’a, perhaps we should be worried that she will be marked for destruction by those who would kill a daughter for the dishonorable action of having been raped.

Or, who knows, perhaps Miss Fakih’s victory will help Muslims feel more mainstreamed, and less marginalized in a way that helps them identify with America. Wouldn’t that be a kick? If the most superficial of events, a beauty pageant, brings diplomatic progress?

Who needs “smart” diplomacy? Bring on the pretty girls!

Melissa Clouthier:

She’s in America. She’s doing what beautiful American girls do. She’s acting Western.

In an Islamic country, she’d likely be hung, beheaded, tortured or “honor” killed for shaming her uptight, sexually repressed, backward, stone age husband or father.

So while I get that people are upset about this, I suggest taking the big picture here. We have a young Muslim woman, without a burqa, who won Miss USA.

Let the Islamofascists put that in their pipe and smoke it.

Adam Serwer at Tapped:

Michelle Malkin is savvy enough to mostly cloak her freak-out behind horror over Fakih’s politics (although she can’t resist a dig at those “identity politics” people), while other conservative bloggers just go ahead and call her a terrorist. Professional Islamophobe Daniel Pipes combs the internet for other instances in which Muslim women have won beauty contests, and concludes there’s some kind of “an odd form of affirmative action” going on. Because how could anyone choose a Muslim over a “real American” in a beauty contest?

I’m not really a fan of beauty contests, but the tone and substance of the fever swamp’s reaction to an Arab-American winning a beauty contest is at least useful for pointing out how some people’s political opinions aren’t based so much in questions of policy as anti-Muslim animosity. The level of anger is just so plainly disproportionate to the matter at hand as to be self-implicating. These people aren’t worried about terrorism — they’re offended by the idea of Muslims being integrated into the most mundane and banal aspects of American society.

Jonathan Turley:

It is a sad commentary on our contemporary politics that an Arab-American cannot simply win such a pageant without unleashing such a torrent of hateful conspiracy theories. I do not even like such pageants but it is astonishing how little it takes to vent such anger and prejudice. Of course, even a scarf on a donut commercial in enough to trigger a national boycott today, here.

Steven L. Taylor:

Ultimately, we are talking here about the silliness that is beauty pageantry, make even more silly by the fact that it is run by Donald Trump.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner

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Filed under Race, Religion

Sign The Ticket Or You’re In For A Shock

Jonathan Turley:

The United States Court of Appeals has ruled that three Seattle police officers were justified when they tasered a pregnant mother three times when she refused to sign a traffic ticket. Malaika Brooks was driving her son to Seattle’s African American Academy in 2004 when she was stopped for doing 32 mph in a school zone. When she refused to get out of her car to be arrested, one officer tasered her repeatedly despite (she claims) knowing that she was pregnant.

The officers – Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones – hit her in the thigh, shoulder and neck and then hauled her out of the car and laid her face-down in the street.

While the baby was born two months later without injury, the mother has permanent scars from the taserings.

Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain ruled that the officers were justified in making an arrest because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest. The judges insisted that, while surrounded by police and the car turned off, she still was a danger: “It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment’s notice. Nonetheless, some threat she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation.”

Note, she was arrested after going 32 mph.

Ben at Infinite Monkeys:

Judge Marsha Berzon, a very liberal Bill Clinton appointee and the one dissenter, called the decision “off the wall.”

“I fail utterly to comprehend how my colleagues are able to conclude that it was objectively reasonable to use any force against Brooks, let alone three activations of a Taser, in response to such a trivial offense,” she wrote in her dissent.

Berzon pointed out that under Washington law, the police had no authority to take Brooks into custody: Failure to sign a traffic infraction is not punishable by arrest, as it turns out, and it isn’t illegal to resist an unlawful arrest.

Berzon also noted in her dissent that to obstruct an officer, one must obstruct the officer’s official duties, “and the officers’ only duties in this case were to detain Brooks long enough to identify her, check for warrants, write up the citation and give it to her. Brooks’ failure to sign did not interfere with those duties.”

It’s rare that I find myself agreeing with the liberal side of the 9th Circuit, but this is one of those cases where the default “conservative” position on the supposed side of “law-and-order” is not justified. This is an sickening decision that grants far too much deference to police, promotes the us-vs.-them mentality pervasive in far too many law enforcement agencies, and may endanger police officers and members of the public alike.

Digby:

Oh no, she needed to be electrocuted and arrested because there was a chance that she might drive off erratically. Or shape-shift into a lizard and levitate. You just can’t be too careful. In any case, what these judges seem to be saying is that there is no lawful reason that an officer cannot taser a citizen as long as he is barking some order and they fail to comply quickly enough. No reason of any kind, not even the fact that the officers had no right to issue that order at all. That’s scary.

BTW: where are all the anti-authoritarian libertarians now? It seems as if they only care about the constitution when it comes to taxes and guns. Someone else’s right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket? Not their problem.

Eric at Classical Values, responding to Digby:

The blogger does not provide any link to the story, and the Memeorandum link was the first mention I’d seen of the incident. If the facts are as described, what happened was outrageous. The woman sued and won in the trial court, and then the Court of Appeal reversed the case and held 2-1 that the officers were immune from suit. Officers should not be tasering people over trivial offenses, so I agree with the stinging dissent.

What I do not agree with is the blogger’s ridiculous attempt to scold libertarians:

...where are all the anti-authoritarian libertarians now? It seems as if they only care about the constitution when it comes to taxes and guns. Someone else’s right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket? Not their problem.That is such a crock. I’ve lost track of the number of posts I’ve written complaining about police abuses, and I’m not even going to dignify his argument by supplying links.

As to the “right not be be electrocuted” he does not know what the word means. This woman was tasered. Shocked with electricity. Stunned, not killed.

The word “electrocute” is not complicated, and I think most people know that it means killed:

vb (tr)
1. to kill as a result of an electric shock
2. (Law) US to execute in the electric chair
[from electro- + (exe)cute]
So, while I believe that people do have a “right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket,” that is not what happened here.

I don’t know what is more shocking: the underlying story itself or its mischaracterization and gratuitous smear of libertarians as people who “fail to care about the constitution [except] when it comes to taxes and guns.”

I’m going to stick my neck out here and venture that if there is a “right not to be electrocuted for refusing to sign a traffic ticket,” then it follows that libertarians also have a right not to be electrocuted for allegedly remaining silent about a police outrage they might not have known about — mainly because it was only reported yesterday.

I’m shocked! Stunned!

But I’m about as surprised as I am electrocuted.

James Joyner:

Sadly, I’m not surprised at the ruling.  Judges have been, for going on four decades now, loathe to second guess police officers and the principle of Terry v. Ohio, that officers have a right to briefly violate the Constitution if they are scared (I paraphrase) has been stretched beyond belief.  Judges and other public officials, not unreasonably, want to give officers a wide berth because their jobs are indeed dangerous and the prospect having their instincts questioned ex post in the calm light of day might make them take excessive risks.

But this is a clear cut case.  This wasn’t some 220-pound man hopped up on meth but rather a pregnant woman accused of driving 7 miles per hour over the speed limit.   Yes, her refusal to sign a ticket after being told (and it being printed on the ticket) that signing is merely acknowledgment of receipt and not an admission of guilt, is annoying.  But, clearly, this was a case of officers frustrated that a citizen dared question their authoritay, not an overreaction to reasonable peril.

Alex Massie:

It hasn’t happened yet but, mark my words, something like this will happen in Britain soon. Why? Because when you arm the police with Tasers you cannot be surprised when they start being used and, of course, used when they need not be.

[…]

As I say, this sort of thing will be happening in Britain soon. The woman in this instance may, as James Joyner says, have been less than 100% co-operative and stroppier than was perhaps wise but that hardly warranted electrocution.

And, as more and more police forces start to arm their officers with Tasers it’s only a matter of time before these things kill someone. Nor should anyone be surprised if, having given the police more tools with which they may, at no cost to themselves, use force that there’s an increase in the number of occasions in which the police get to play with their fancy new toys. A few dead bodies and an increasingly alienated public are, doubtless, a tiny price to pay.

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Filed under Crime, The Constitution

“The Continuation Of The Scheme”

Edward Collmore at Philly.com:

Researcher Lorianne Updike Toler was intrigued by the centuries-old document at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

On the back of a treasured draft of the U.S. Constitution was a truncated version of the same document, starting with the familiar words: “We The People. . . .”

They had been scribbled upside down by one of the Constitution’s framers, James Wilson, in the summer of 1787. The cursive continued, then abruptly stopped, as if pages were missing.

A mystery, Toler thought, until she examined other Wilson papers from the Historical Society’s vault in Philadelphia and found what appeared to be the rest of the draft, titled “The Continuation of the Scheme.”

The document – one of 21 million in the Historical Society’s collection – was known to scholars, but probably should have been placed with the other drafts, said constitutional scholar John P. Kaminski, director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution in the history department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This was the kind of moment historians dream about,” said Toler, 30, a lawyer and founding president of the Constitutional Sources Project (www.ConSource.org), a nonprofit organization, based in Washington, that promotes an understanding of and access to U.S. Constitution documents.

“This was national scripture, a piece of our Constitution’s history,” she said of her find in November. “It was difficult to keep my hands from trembling.”

As other researchers “realized what was happening, there was a sort of hushed awe that settled over the reading room,” Toler said. “One of them said the hair on her arms stood on end.”

Two drafts of the Constitution in Wilson’s hand had been separated from his papers long ago. One of them included the beginning of still another draft and was apparently seen as part of a single working version, instead of a separate draft.

Toler said “The Continuation of the Scheme,” including its provisions about the executive and judiciary branches, completes that draft, making it a third.

Ashby Jones at WSJ:

The backstory goes like this: It turns out that two drafts of the Constitution in Wilson’s hand had been separated from his papers long ago. One of them included the beginning of still another draft. Toler told the Inquirer that “The Continuation of the Scheme,” including its provisions about the executive and judiciary branches, completes that draft, making it a third.

She “found a document that was sort of buried in its right place, but not taken out by an archivist for special treatment,” said Kaminski, the constitutional scholar. “This is a valuable document. It is in Wilson’s hand, and it was in Wilson’s papers, where it should have been.”

Wilson, who lived in Philadelphia, was selected July 24, 1787, with four other members of the Constitutional Convention to serve on the Committee of Detail.

The committee – which also had John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, Nathaniel Gorham, and Oliver Ellsworth – used 28 resolutions passed by members of the convention to flesh out the Constitution.

They finished their work and presented it Aug. 6, 1787, to the Constitutional Convention. It included Wilson’s famous “We the People” beginning.

Jonathan Turley:

This only the third such draft in Wilson’s hand. Wilson served with John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, Nathaniel Gorham, and Oliver Ellsworth as a member of the important Committee of Detail, which refined the words of the Constitution.

Brent Greer:

Oh, and before anyone tries to weave alternate meanings into the word “scheme,” please keep in mind it was a word commonly used in the 1700s that meant “plan.” Not as the Huffingtons, Bradys and others would have people think that something evil was afoot.

Overall, this is way cool news..

Brian Kelley:

Nope, no mention of rights to single-payer health care or abortion in this one either. (Via Drudge.)

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Filed under History, The Constitution