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October 24th, 2005:

RIP, Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks, American hero, died today at the age of 92.

Parks inspired the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in December 1955.

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system by blacks that was organized by a young Baptist preacher, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and led to a court ruling desegregating public transportation in Montgomery. (Full story)

Parks, a seamstress, facing regular threats and having lost her job, moved from Alabama to Michigan in 1957.

She joined the staff of U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, in 1965, championing civil liberties. Parks later earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal.

Conyers, who first met Parks during the early days of the civil rights struggle, said Parks died in Detroit Monday evening.

“I think that she, as the mother of the new civil rights movement, has left an impact not just on the nation, but on the world,” he told CNN in a telephone interview. “She was a real apostle of the non-violence movement.”

Conyers said Parks worked on his original congressional staff when he first was elected to the House of Representatives in 1964.

He remembered her as someone who never raised her voice — an eloquent voice of the civil rights movement.

“You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person,” he said, adding that “there was only one” Rosa Parks.

Rest in peace, Rosa Parks.

On saving marriage in Texas

There’s a new website up called Save Texas Marriage, which makes the claim that Proposition 2 is so poorly worded that it would actually outlaw all marriages in the state of Texas. I can’t say I think much of this argument – among other things, if this were the case, someone might have thought to mention in before now. You can visit the site and see for yourself what they have to say, but for my money, this is the kind of case I’d like to see made against Prop 2.

Some Dallas-area business owners believe the marriage amendment, should it pass, will hamper the state’s business growth.

“If you are sitting at Stanford in the midst of a progressive culture that accepts you whether you are Indian, Asian or gay and see Texas — what kind of message are you sending to (prospective) employees? That you only accept … straight (employees)? That you don’t accept people for who they are,” said Frank McGovern, founder and president of Dallas-based Quality Telephone Inc., a telephone service provider.

Austin attorney Anne Wynne of Ikard Wynne Ratliff L.L.P. said marriage amendments passed in other states have affected domestic-partner benefits, even causing attorneys to argue that domestic violence laws no longer apply to heterosexual, unmarried couples.

[…]

Mary Mason, chairwoman of the board of directors for Missing Lynx, a San Ramon, Calif.-based software company, says the company aborted its plans to move to Ohio after that state passed an amendment banning gay marriage.

It was the last straw for about half of the company’s 20 employees who were already wavering on moving for other reasons, including cold weather.

“Some of our employees are gay or have gay members in their family,” she said.

Mason said that Missing Lynx still plans to expand in a new city, and Austin is one of the contenders. But Mason adds that a marriage amendment would discourage the company from looking more closely at Texas.

Tech businesses “are all being courted by Galveston and Austin, who are looking to bring in high-tech development,” Mason said. “They are talking nice, but I can’t get the people I need to move there.

“Part of what I’ve found is that people who can think creatively and can do this kind of work need a tolerant environment,” Mason said. “Texas will wind up looking un-American, intolerant and very foolish.”

There are many very real and tangible harms that Prop 2 will cause if it passes. I’d rather talk about that, because that’s what matters. I’m not sure where the idea for Save Texas Marriage came from, but I don’t buy it and I don’t think the voters will, either. Story link via By the Bayou.

Endorsement watch: Prop 5

Well, we may or may not ever get back to the contested races in City Council districts A, H, and I, but it does at least appear that we’ll get a recommendation on all the constitutional amendments on the ballot. Today’s featured proposition is Prop 5, which gets a nod of approval from the Chron.

The proposed amendment, with wide support from business leaders, would eliminate interest rate caps on commercial loans above $7 million. In doing so, Texas would join 46 other states that do not put caps on what banks can charge commercial customers.

Currently, Texas business owners needing high-dollar loans for commercial enterprises often must bank outside Texas because the constitutionally mandated interest cap makes a Texas loan infeasible or unavailable. Doing business across state lines means companies must employ attorneys versed in the banking laws of other states. It can require travel outside Texas to negotiate terms. If a deal initiated in another state goes to court, legal fees and interstate litigation costs can spiral.

Even when companies find a Texas-chartered lender to arrange their big-ticket loan, the constitutional interest cap drives up costs. Such deals, often entailing complex elements such as equity participation in which the lender takes a stake in the enterprise. In Texas, this requires additional legal scrutiny to avoid busting limits on interest rates. Such deals have been challenged in court when profits to the lender have been construed as interest payments above the mandated cap.

One of nine amendment proposals on the ballot, Proposition 5 would relieve businesses of these burdens and uncertainties. The proposition is narrowly tailored so that small business owners needing financing under $7 million will retain protections that exist under present law.

Consumers need not worry: the amendment will not affect loans for cars, home improvement or college.

“Wide support from business leaders” is not necessarily a good thing in my book (two words: tort “reform”), but off the top of my head I don’t see anything terribly objectionable about this. If you can give me a good reason to vote against it, leave a comment and let me know.

According to the Texas Civil Rights Review, Maria Alvarado, currently the sole Democratic candidate for Lite Gov, is advocating a vote against all nine propositions as a means of expressing discontent with the unresponsiveness of the Legislature. I don’t fully agree with this approach and will do my best to evaluate each proposition on its own merits, but I can understand it.

Today’s news coverage is on the five-way race in At Large #2. I confess, I hadn’t realized there was a fifth person in this race – I knew about Acosta, Aiyer, Elford, and Lovell, but had never heard of James Neal before now. He’s also the one candidate for whom I’ve not seen any campaign signs around. Greg has a concise summary of the article.

Later today, or maybe tomorrow morning, I hope to give my endorsements for all the races, for what they’re worth. Early voting starts today – more info is here, a map of early voting locations is here, and the early voting schedule is here.

Finally, there will be an anti-Prop 2 rally at the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center (an early voting location) on West Gray today at 3:30, along with an announcement of breaking news regarding the amendment. That’s all I know about it, so follow the link and I’ll report back when I hear more.

Only lies told by my opponents are bad

Via Political Wire, here’s the brilliant legal mind of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in action:

“I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”

— Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), on Meet the Press, minimizing lying under oath as a “technicality.”

You know what the beautiful thing is about the Internet? It makes it so much easier to expose a bald-faced hypocrite for what she is.

Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong. To be illegal, the lie must be willfully told, must be believed to be untrue, and must relate to a material matter. Title 18, Section 1621 and 1623, U.S. Code.

If President Washington, as a child, had cut down a cherry tree and lied about it, he would be guilty of `lying,’ but would not be guilty of `perjury.’

If, on the other hand, President Washington, as an adult, had been warned not to cut down a cherry tree, but he cut it down anyway, with the tree falling on a man and severely injuring or killing him, with President Washington stating later under oath that it was not he who cut down the tree, that would be `perjury.’ Because it was a material fact in determining the circumstances of the man’s injury or death.

Some would argue that the President in the second example should not be impeached because the whole thing is about a cherry tree, and lies about cherry trees, even under oath, though despicable, do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I disagree.

The perjury committed in the second example was an attempt to impede, frustrate, and obstruct the judicial system in determining how the man was injured or killed, when, and by whose hand, in order to escape personal responsibility under the law, either civil or criminal. Such would be an impeachable offense. To say otherwise would be to severely lower the moral and legal standards of accountability that are imposed on ordinary citizens every day. The same standard should be imposed on our leaders.

Nearly every child in America believes that President Washington, as a child himself, did in fact cut down the cherry tree and admitted to his father that he did it, saying simply: `I cannot tell a lie.’

I will not compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences to a successor President who may choose to ignore it.

— Excerpted from the statement by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) during the Senate’s closed deliberations on the articles of impeachment against President Clinton, published in the Congressional Record for Friday, February 12, 1999.

She will, however, compromise this simple but high moral principle in order to avoid serious consequences for Republicans. Just so you know. Many thanks to Julia for finding this quote.

Barbara Radnofsky has a suggestion for KBH, from a press release I received this morning:

No elected official should tolerate or excuse perjury. I call on Kay Bailey Hutchison to renounce perjury. She should resign if she tolerates it.

Will anyone in the media call her on it?

UPDATE: Just out of curiosity, would KBH consider forgery to be a matter worth pursuing, or is that another one of those “technicalities”?

UPDATE: Turns out quite a few other Republican Senators thought perjury was important in 1999. What do they all think now?

The eleven-year streak

The most remarkable streak in sports came to an end this weekend: Mount Union College lost a football game.

Its end came exactly 11 years after it began. The Purple Raiders survived a couple of close calls along the way, but they could not outlast a very good Ohio Northern football team Saturday.

A 21-14 loss to the Polar Bears was the Raiders’ first regular-season defeat since a 23-10 loss to Baldwin-Wallace on Oct. 15, 1994. Starting seven days later, Mount Union started a streak that reached 110 regular-season wins in a row.

Kind of puts USC’s puny 28-gamer in perspective, doesn’t it? I don’t know if the Purple Raiders will start a brand-new streak next week, or if this loss is the beginning of a reunion with mere mortality for them, but I salute their achievement, all of which was done in an environment of no athletic scholarships. Congratulations to Ohio Northern for busting the streak, and major kudos to Mount Union for its consistent and longlasting excellence.