Christian bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, have won a round in the U.S. Supreme Court. While the nation’s highest court didn’t take the case, it vacated the Oregon Appeals Court’s decision upholding the $135,000 fine and decision against the Kleins for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding. The case has been sent back to the Oregon Appeals Court for a rehearing. The Oregon court previously said the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) was correct in fining the couple for failing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The fine and subsequent public bashing by the former BOLI chief, Brad Avakian, forced the couple to close their doors to the public.
The Kleins petitioned the Supreme Court in 2018 to take up their case after the Masterpiece Cake decision upheld a Colorado baker’s choice not to make a same sex wedding cake. In vacating the Oregon court decision and sending it back, the Supreme Court made it clear that the Masterpiece Cake decision changed the game and that the Oregon court should consider the new precedent in its decision on remand.
In their petition, the Kleins asked the Supreme Court to consider three things:
The questions presented are: 1. Whether Oregon violated the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment by compelling the Kleins to design and create a custom wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding ritual, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs. 2. Whether the Court should overrule Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). ii 3. Whether the Court should reaffirm Smith’s hybrid rights doctrine, applying strict scrutiny to free exercise claims that implicate other fundamental rights, and resolving the circuit split over the doctrine’s precedential status.
The New York Times reports that the Klein’s were also asking a broader question than that posed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit:
The Oregon case was in one way broader than the one from Colorado, as it asked the justices to overrule an important precedent from 1990, Employment Division v. Smith. In a majority opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court ruled that neutral laws of general applicability could not be challenged on the ground that they violated the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion. That decision, arising from a case involving the use of peyote in Native American religious ceremonies, is unpopular among conservative Christians, who say it does not offer adequate protection to religion, and with some justices. In January, the court’s four most conservative members — Justices Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — signaled that they were open to reconsidering the decision.
Based on the fact that the Supreme Court didn’t take the case, it’s clear they don’t want to answer that question just yet – unless the Oregon Appeals Court gives them a reason to.
During the well-publicized ordeal, former BOLI chief Brad Avakian publicly bashed the couple and instituted a gag order on the Kleins to stop defending themselves:
Respondents Aaron Klein and Melissa Klein to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation
Avakian’s obvious vendetta against the Christian couple caused even liberal Oregonians to turn against him. Avakian attempted to run for Secretary of State and lost to Republican Dennis Richardson, the first time a Republican had won state-wide office in decades.
The Klein’s were represented by the First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, Boyden Gray & Associates, of Washington, DC, and Herb Grey of Beaverton, Oregon. Emails seeking comment by the Kleins and their attorneys haven’t been returned yet, but this post will be updated as soon as they’re received.
No doubt this is a small measure of vindication for the couple whose business and reputations were destroyed by Avakian and the anti-Christian zealots working for the State of Oregon.
While the media, Democrats and social justice warriors (but I repeat myself) have tried mightily to “deconstruct” and debunk the Ferguson Effect, it has been widely seen throughout the country and certainly on the streets of Portland with nearly 100% of all cops saying they don’t stop and question suspicious behavior.
“With all of the criticism directed at the police today, are officers less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious, or has nothing changed?”
Nearly all officers – 95% – indicated that:
“Yes, Officers are less willing to stop and question people who seem suspicious.”
As if that isn’t bad enough, sworn Officers are “skeptical” of the new leadership at the cop shop, which has been a veritable revolving door of over the past several years. And they’re “unclear” about what their top priorities should be. Half of them are burnt out from the job.
A whopping 79% of Portlanders don’t believe cops reduce crime and treat people fairly under the law.
Furthermore, “violent crimes are perceived to be down, [but] quality of life crimes persist.” I’ll dig into the “perceived to be down” unresolved stat later, but that’s pretty bad. However, here’s the nub of the problem in a study that neither mentions Antifa nor protesters:
“The PPB needs to understand that sometimes quality of life crimes, such as vandalism, the defacement of public property, illegal homeless camps on public property, auto theft and vandalism, are the most important in gaining the trust of the public and its cooperation. Most people, thankfully, do [not] interact with the police over major crimes, but they do with quality of life crimes.”
Seventy percent of Portlanders think cops are ‘fair’ only sometimes or not at all.
Translation of the above two points: Cops don’t stop crimes because it’s not politically correct and the rest of the citizenry knows it and thinks it’s unfair.
Do you think that “defacement of public property,” “vandalism” and other “quality of life” crimes such as, oh, I don’t know, not being able to drive on downtown streets or freeways, airports or get to work because of protesters blocking them to make their point about this week’s perceived wrong is a quality of life issue? Hell, yes.
Is cops not helping ICE agents get to their cars and thus being chased by violent Leftists – a bad PR move to the right thinking Portlanders – perhaps a ‘quality of life’ issue? Hell, yes.
Perhaps someone read about a guy who was just trying to do his job and Antifa chased him, hurt him and came back to attack him again so he drew his weapon to back them off and then was CHARGED with the crime while his Antifa attackers became “victims.” Think they heard about that case?
How about that lady who got so sick of Antifa blocking the streets she got out of her car and took the only weapon she had – laundry detergent – and started throwing haymakers at the thugs with her big orange jug of goo?
Do you think Portlanders haven’t noticed this two tiered system of justice?
Ted Wheeler, do you think they know that if they took a cowbell and commenced drowning out a speech in a public place that they’d be arrested but Antifa wouldn’t? Mike Strickland, pick up the white courtesy phone.
Do you think this lack of enforcement of the most basic laws of Portland has had an effect on the citizenry in thinking that somebody in Portland’s hierarchy has put their thumb on the scales of justice? Uh, hell yes.
The City’s capitulation to the ACLU and the social justice warrior crowd has resulted in the homeless ‘camping’ wherever they want, subjecting Portlanders to the disgusting and unhealthy filth of human waste, disease and despondency.
As a person who works, feeds and helps the homeless, I can tell you why people are out there. I’ll tell you about that in another post. The report says the politicians have “no political will” to do what is necessary about the homeless. Duh.
This two tier system of justice has brought confusion to cops, dissatisfaction of the public and a feeling of being unsafe in people’s own home town.
In the words of the report:
“When the police pick and choose what/when to enforce, application of the law becomes inequitable.”
The Portland Police Bureau reportedly has had 50 Officers turn in their badges because they’re sick of the confusion, bad leadership and rampant lawlessness allowed to take place while they’re allowed to do little.
If that’s not bad enough, City Commissioners have consulted with one of the progenitors of the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” lies of Ferguson to help write the next Portland Police Bureau contract. This just in: even Eric Holder doesn’t buy the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” lies from Ferguson. His Justice Department said so.
The police survey makes suggestions on what to do to fix the problems, suggesting that the City should:
“Align governmental and PPB leadership and support for effectiveness.”
Puhleeze. Politicizing the cop shop – by allowing the hyper-political Mayor and ‘community’ social justice protesters to dictate which people get a pass and which must be punished – is why we have this problem in the first place.
Mike Strickland faces a hearing today in Portland, Oregon for drawing his weapon on anarchists who roughed him up during a July 7th protest and were rushing in for a second go at him.
Strickland drew his legally obtained and licensed concealed Glock pistol, never placing his finger on the trigger, but drew down on the people advancing toward him, stopping what he believed was going to be an attack. He withdrew, walking backwards away from the threat and holstered his weapon when he believed the immediate threat was over.
Since then, the Portland area journalist has been jailed, his tools of his trade–cameras, recording equipment and his own recordings, which are exculpatory evidence in his case, have been confiscated–and Strickland has been ordered to stop working in journalism, thus depriving him of his ability to make a living.
This heavy-handed attack on the rights on one man has been done by the Multnomah County District Attorney and is due to what some involved in the case believe is a political agenda.
Absurdly, the case is also based on the testimony by some of the very people who were rushing to attack Strickland.
Some of those people are planning to testify against the Portland journalist in court.
Here’s one of them.
Ben Kerensa has recently become a fixture in the last couple of years at Portland protests.
Here he is yesterday blocking access to all vehicles and then surrounding one car targeted by protesters. These photos come from KOIN TV’s live shot at the airport:
Before you go thinking Kerensa’s just some gadfly protest fan-boy, let’s consider his dangerous and violent past.
Here’s the thumbnail sketch. Kerensa has a history of calling in phony bomb threats, phony police reports and impersonating an FBI agent. He’s spent time in at least one California federal prison and convicted in Oregon on federal charges of impersonating an FBI agent–more than once. He was also under parole and probation officials in Oregon.
He has been in trouble with the law in at least three counties, Multnomah, Curry and Marion.
And that’s just for starters.
He’s also a hacker, so if anything happens to this website, I’ll consider him the #1 suspect.
And this man with a history of lying, phoning in false threats, filing false police reports, impersonating authorities and much, much more is a person on whom the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is relying to prosecute Mike Strickland.
Next time: When Kerensa phoned in a SWAT call to a Salem hospital and his antics at a huge San Francisco Tech fair.
Mike Strickland was arrested and charged in Portland for pulling a gun at a Black Lives Matter/anarchist protest when a mob converged on him. But now he sits in jail. As one person put it, “[Mike Strickland] is now a political prisoner in Multnomah County.”
First, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted here. But this video of Laughing at Liberals unholstering his gun and pointing in the direction of Portland anarchists and protesters awoke me from my VictoriaTaft.com slumber. It’s time to sound off.
Second, I’m well acquainted Mike Strickland and his work. Since at least 2010, the videographer has been on the scene in Portland and the northwest chronicling important stories about the organized left. I’ve used the fruits of his labors on my radio program in Portland, on this website, and in my current radio and other work.
We’re not besties, but I should tell you that when I was asked to design an online news platform, he was the one guy I sought to be on my team. Later, when I had a chance to suggest a videographer for a California state wide candidate, I suggested Mike Strickland. He’s talented and knows when a set of facts equate to a story. I’ve been impressed by his work for himself and also for Jim Hoft’s “Progressives Today” and “Gateway Pundit” where he has done some painstaking and important work — especially on gun rights.
Third, you should know that about a year ago Strickland was attacked by an anti-second amendment filmmaker named Skye Fitzgerald and so badly hurt he was hospitalized and out of work for months. His arm was broken in three places. Though charged with a felony, Fitzgerald was never prosecuted by Multnomah County prosecutors.
Here is the video that I’m told was presented to Multnomah County prosecutors showing the beating. It has not been made public until it was shared on VictoriaTaft.com:
Even with this evidence, the DA chose not to prosecute the filmmaker, though he clearly assaulted and robbed Strickland of all his cameras (which he later returned with erased flash drives/data cards).
Reports from the left and media to the contrary notwithstanding, Strickland’s not a nut or a kook. He’s a serious young man who is fulfilling a calling to expose the manipulations of the left and the media that proliferate and quite literally shout down the voices of opposing points of view in Portland and Oregon. There are probably several things with which I disagree with Mike, Ron Paul fandom comes to mind, but he’s no ‘winger.’
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m posting the video from a guy named “Mike Bluehair” who trained his camera on the mob surrounding Strickland in the seconds leading up to the unholstering of his gun and the aftermath. I don’t know “Mike Bluehair,” but the protesters apparently do and trust him (except the Crabbe and Goyle* of the anarchist set, who threatened him for being Strickland’s friend. No idea if that’s true.).
Please do these things:
Watch the video.
Watch my breakdown of the video.
Read for yourself what four cops and one very knowledgeable pro-second amendment activist had to say about the incident.
Share this around please. Post this link to your Facebook pages. Tweet this link to your friends. Email this link to your buddies. Instagram the link. Snapchat your reaction and include the link.
And remember: You do not have permission to copy and paste any/all of the content from this post. Use the link or use nothing at all. Contact me for permissions: Victoria@VictoriaTaft.com.
Now, let’s go over the video (I apologize for the differently sized GIFs, but apparently it can’t be helped).
The mob begins to surround Strickland:
The mob keeps coming:
Angry looking man and person with green coat converge with crowd:
Green jacketed person presumably sees gun and runs:
Strickland draws his weapon to back them off and backs away from the mob:
Strickland is asked to holster his weapon by someone off camera and complies:
“Mike Bluehair” tells mob to back off to let Strickland back away from the scene:
Angry man has to be held back by person in green jacket:
Angry man has to be restrained by another protester. Note that green jacket person has now put on Guy Fawkes mask:
Strickland tells mob to stop anarchists advancing on him:
The mob follows Strickland as he backs his way up the street:
Sideways hat advances while gray hoodie guy advances to the side and assaults Strickland:
The Crabbe and Goyle * of the anarchist set threaten the photog:
Angry man is back, this time with his anarchist kerchief, and advances toward Strickland:
The rest of the video involves police arriving, arresting Strickland and people being questioned. No one says they were menaced by Strickland.
It’s quite serious to draw your weapon, but if you fear for your life or fear great bodily injury, it’s a defensible thing to do. But that’s just my take. I decided to go to the experts.
I asked four cops to tell VictoriaTaft.com what they saw in this video. I’ve given all of them anonymity because of the explosive nature of this case and, after all, they have to live in the area. The only editing is for clarification and brevity.
First up is a 30+ year veteran who’s still on the job in Oregon:
“Clearly the man was afraid of the crowd. There is no crime committed, the man seemed obviously alarmed by the crowd and was backing away from the threat. Whether the threat was real or not is irrelevant, he felt threatened.”
“There is no crime committed”
Next is a long time cop in Oregon:
“Didn’t see what was going on to cause him to point a weapon initially. Clearly he was being menaced by a crowd hostile to him, who they seem to know. Many wearing full or partial masks, one holding a smoking object toward the gentleman, who was trying to back away.
At one point while backing, one of them got behind him and grabbed at him. Officer repeatedly ask if they felt menaced and he says no. Not sure why he was charged with menacing and disorderly, no victim was identified and a reasonable and prudent person might conclude he feared for his safety.
[N]ot a attorney, but his past assault and circumstances with the crowd might make a case for feeling threatened and he was attempting to leave, the videographer was shouting “If you want to be safe leave”
Menacing is a catch all misdemeanor charge, you might want to review ORS 161.205(5) A person may use physical force upon another person in self-defense or in defending a third person, in defending property, in making an arrest or in preventing an escape, as hereafter prescribed in chapter 743, Oregon Laws 1971. Oh and ORS 161.219(1) Applies to use of Deadly Physical Force.”
“Clearly he was being menaced by a crowd hostile to him, who they seem to know.”
Next is a retired police investigator who was on the job in Oregon:
“Here’s anonymous (please) take. It’s LOL. I have no idea who the videographer is, but he’s got a great set of lines. My impression is that he’s in cahoots with L[a]l, but he’s also asking the cops not shoot him, and I recognize that as leftie bullshit. He said straight out the HE didn’t feel threatened by L[a]L, so there goes a serious charge where HE is concerned and leaves (if unjustified) a charge of pointing a firearm at another.
The stinkin’ Justice Center and Federal building are teeming with cameras which might show what happened earlier, before this video started, which is about the ONLY evidence I would consider AGAINST L[a]L, because this film shows assholes following him and surrounding him in spite of the videographer’s urging them not to.
For a criminal case, it is incomplete and ends with the videographer coaching a man with the words it takes to GET a complaint issued rather than merely asking the questions and listening to the answers.
Beats me, but given the facts of the personages in the crowd and L[a]L’s long history without similar trouble, the most he’d likely face if I was heading this up is a trip to the Grand Jury along with all the “witnesses” (who likely wouldn’t even show up).”
“[G]iven the facts of the personages in the crowd and L[a]L’s long history without similar trouble…”
And finally, a politically connected, retired police administrator in Oregon pointed out the untenable political situation in which the Portland Police Bureau now finds itself:
“It’s difficult to know where to start. [Laughing at Liberals] came ready for trouble because he was armed. It might be that he carries a firearm all the time [editor’s note: Strickland has a legal concealed carry permit and frequently carries].
Generally, provide the kind of calm and strength a community needs circumstances more than anything else. It is here where the confidence in the police force pays huge dividends. That’s one reason why Dallas, for the most part, remains calm even though this shooter was black and the victims were white.
Yes, and Portland, Oregon is in very sad shape in terms of political and police leadership at this point. I don’t understand how it is that the city has gotten so far out of control and lost the respect of its citizens.
The cops are doing their best under the circumstances, however when there is so little confidence in the mayor, the city council and their guidance and leadership choices for the Police Bureau, troops on the street are under a great deal of pressure every day.”
I asked former police executive if Strickland had broken the law:
“Tough call. On its face maybe not.”
Then came the political rationale for arresting Strickland in the first place which was to appease the anarchists:
“[O]ften the decision to arrest on the street other than the intent of the law is to address the larger issues in this case: restore or maintain the peace and also to re-establish that the police are in control.
I am not sure there was any choice in the moment given the facts and the and the need to end the situation. What you to ask yourself is: can we allow the perception that guns drawn in these situations between the citizenry should be the new norm? That is not to say that the charges will stand when the DA has a chance to review the entire set of facts. Of course, by that time, the street has returned to some kind of calm and the situation ends safely.
Unfortunately, once in awhile the probably cause to make an arrest to keep the peace trumps the interest of the individual. In the end, the question becomes proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
A reasonable person may think [Strickland] broke the law but that doesn’t mean his actions will be judged to have been [unlawful].”
“Q: Did he break the law? A: On its face maybe not.”
“I can’t think of a situation that is more appropriate for defensive use of a weapon…”
He says the way in which the prosecutors increased the charges at the arraignment, raised the bail to $250,000 when they would have let anyone else go, the bizarre hearsay entered as ‘fact’ at the hearing, and the fact that the organized left has made Strickland a target with websites have basically made Strickland a pariah:
“[Mike Strickland] is a political prisoner in Multnomah County Jail. That is absolutely the case.”
Starrett says even some gun owners believe Strickland should not have been at the protest in the first place. He’s in that camp. But, he says, “he had every right to be there.” Furthermore, the head of the OFF told VictoriaTaft.com:
“[I]f I were approached by a crowd like that, that I believe intended to do me harm, a deranged mob mentality — can you win in that situation…probably not. But I can’t think of a situation that is more appropriate for defensive use of a weapon. He had a right to be there. Was it a great idea? No. He went into enemy territory. But there are war correspondents in the same situation.”
Starrett says the videographer’s own footage could exonerate him:
“The only video that counts is the one he shot. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears [in prosecutors’ custody].”
And it’s the way forward that has Starrett concerned as well:
“What’s happening now with him is part of a grander thing. They’re determined to make an example out of him. He’s the easiest bone to throw them [the leftist power structure of Portland].”
Starrett told VictoriaTaft.com that OFF is ready to help with attorneys fees, but starting out with an outsized bail is going to sap valuable resources. This issue is bigger than their war chest can cover.
Starrett, who teaches firearms law and self defense law, told VictoriaTaft.com:
“I have only the videos to go on, but as an instructor I believe that after drawing his firearm, he holstered as soon as he thought it was safe and we tell people to do that.”
Starrett doesn’t hold out much hope that a pro Second Amendment person will get fair treatment in Portland:
“In any rational county they would have carted him off and cited him. Multnomah County is still predisposed against him. After all, he was attacked on video and his attacker was able to walk.”
And then he revealed his worst fear:
“A conservative person cannot expect justice in multnomah county.”
A private Facebook page has been set up to give support to Strickland and keep track of his case.
To help defray the costs of Strickland’s defense case, Oregon Firearms Federation is continuing to take donations at its Foundation with a credit card or via snail mail. Checks to the 501c3 organizations can be made out to Oregon Firearms Federation Foundation (marked Mike Strickland defense) and mailed:
PO Box 556 Canby OR 97013503-263-5830
*Draco Malfoy’s thuggish friends from the Harry Potter series.
And remember: You do not have permission to copy and paste any/all of the content from this post. Use the link or use nothing at all. Quotes will be attributed to VictoriaTaft.com. Contact me for permissions: Victoria@VictoriaTaft.com.
In the latest video, the Senior Director of Medical Services for the National Planned Parenthood negotiates the sale of baby parts — for something every other company considers a “profit”.
This third video by a group called “The Center for Medical Progress” shows the head of the Medical Services for Planned Parenthood, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, discussing the sale of baby parts:
The group shows what it claims is the price list for the baby parts:
Non profit? What do you call this?
“I think for affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a non profit. They just don’t want to — they want to break even. And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that, you know, seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.” Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
And here’s what they were selling. See the entire video below, but here’s a still shot of a pie plate displaying just-recovered baby parts for sale:
The above photo shows two legs, kidneys, and spinal cord among other things.
Would you believe *American Express if it said ‘doing a little better than break even’ wasn’t actually a profit?
Would you believe it if *Bank of America said that?
If *Adobe didn’t call its sales at better than break-even a profit, wouldn’t you laugh at them?
*Nike? *Groupon? *Verizon? *Progressive?
*All of those companies (and many more) are Planned Parenthood corporate sponsors. Find the list here because Planned Parenthood has scrubbed them from its website.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $500,000,000 per year from your tax dollars.
It claims the videos, like this one below, entrapped the players into saying things they didn’t mean to.
If you give credence to that argument then ask yourself this: What would it take for YOU to negotiate the price of human baby parts?
Great news: The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in La Jolla, CA, has been purchased — and hopefully thereby saved …
… “as it is, where it is,” with Cross intact, for generations of Americans to come — by the non-profit Mt. Soledad Memorial Association from the federal Department of Defense.
The Memorial Association announced on Monday, July 21, 2015, that its purchase of the Memorial for $1.4-million was finalized on July 17. This effectively transferred ownership of the memorial site honoring veterans from “public land” under federal ownership to “private land” of the Association, a non-governmental, non-profit, private organization. The Association has maintained the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial since its founding in 1954 in conjunction with wartime veterans of American Legion La Jolla Post 275.
Originally established to honor Korean War Veterans, it was expanded to honor all veterans, especially those who gave their lives in defense of American freedom. The Memorial is on land originally owned by the City of San Diego, which was transferred to the federal DOD in 2006. It now has some 3,500 plaques on tiered walls beneath a 29-foot cross honoring all veterans atop Mt. Soledad. (See, www.soledadmemorial.com.)
The secular extremist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been suing for some twenty-six (26) years now to destroy the Mt. Soledad Memorial on the basis that the Cross honoring veterans there has been on “public land” and, therefore, violates the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment. However, it is now on “private land.” That has an enormous impact on the ACLU’s lawsuit, which is again pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
The DOD was authorized to sell the Memorial to the Association by the National Defense Act of 2015, adopted by House and Senate and signed by President of Obama last December.
That legislation was the result of a bill initiated by Congressman Duncan Hunter, former U.S. Marine combat veteran who represents the District and who has led the effort in Congress to save the memorial.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the ACLU in the similar case of Buono vs. Salazar, commonly known as theMojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross Case. There, the ACLU sued in 2002 to destroy a veterans memorial established by VFW members to honor WWI veterans in 1934. ACLU sued because it included a cross on a rock outcrop on federal land in the remote Mojave Desert Preserve. ACLU sued even though there was no complaint in some 70 years, and the Cross was twelve miles off the highway and a person had to drive to it to be offended by it.
After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ordered the the Mojave Cross had to be destroyed, Congress voted to exchange that one-acre site for five acres of private land donated by Henry and Wanda Sandoz, who had cared for the memorial for decades. Since the Cross was now on private land, the Supreme Court nullified the 9th Circuit decision that the Establishment Clause was violated and remanded the case. ACLU finally surrendered on remand in 2012, announcing in court it would cease attempting to destroy the cross.
While there is no way to know to a certainty whether the ACLU will finally cease its quarter-century of litigation to destroy the Mt. Soledad Memorial now that it is on private land, the Association, and those public interest law firms who have been representing veterans against the ACLU’s lawsuits, have hailed implementation of Duncan Hunter’s land-transfer legislation as signaling that the memorial will at last remain “as it is, where it is” without further successful litigation molestation by the ACLU.
Bruce Bailey, President and CEO of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association board of trustees, said:
“I am honored to be leading our Association at this most significant time in our Memorial’s history. It marks for the first time where our membership can manage the Memorial’s affairs from a place of ownership and accountability for the property, which is a new and welcomed step for the Association.”
Reacting to the news of the transfer to the Association of the Mt. Soledad Memorial originally founded by the local American Legion La Jolla Post 275 more than a half-century ago, American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm said he hoped it would end the litigation attacks of the ACLU:
“Frankly, it shouldn’t have been necessary for the government to sell the land to a private group in order to preserve a memorial that is deeply significant to so many people. The American Legion believes in ‘God and Country.’ Unfortunately, some courts don’t always see it that way. “
Liberty Institute, based in Texas, represents the Memorial Association against the ACLU in the present Mt. Soledad case pending in the 9th Circuit. LI issued a statement that “after a 25-year legal battle, the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is finally saved…[it] ends a legal dispute regarding the constitutionality of the memorial on government land.”
Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s Deputy Chief Counsel, said:
“The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross has stood since 1954 as a symbol of the selfless sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. Such a sacred memorial should receive our highest honor and protection. Today’s actions will ensure that the memorial will continue to stand in honor of our veterans for decades to come. This is a great victory for the veterans who originally placed this memorial and the Korean War veterans the memorial honors. We thank our lead counsel, Allyson Ho, and her team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who worked tirelessly to defend the memorial, leading to this ultimate victory.”
Charles S. LiMandri, President and Chief Counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), has actively participated in efforts to maintain the Memorial Cross “as it is, where it is” since 2004. The FCDF, along with Attorney Peter Lepiscopo, represents Congressman Duncan Hunter.
LiMandri, who has been credited with doing more than any other single person to save the Mt. Soledad Cross, said of the Memorial’s transfer to the Association:
“We are delighted that the longest running religious liberty case is coming to a successful conclusion after 26 years. Any future legal challenge to the transfer of the Memorial property from the federal government to the Memorial Association is likely to fail in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010), which approved trade of federal property to private ownership for the purpose of preserving the Mojave Memorial Cross. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund extends its hearty congratulations to the Memorial Association and its counsel.”
Joseph Infranco is Senior Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and co-founder, with me, of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion Dept. of California and the Alliance Defending Freedom.
He said of the transfer of Mt. Soledad to the Memorial Association:
“Monuments that honor the very people who have fought and died to protect our freedoms should be preserved in the best possible way. Though perhaps understandable, it’s unfortunate that Congress felt forced to take the safe route of a land transfer to protect this cherished memorial. Memorial crosses on government land honoring those who served and died are not an establishment of religion any more than the memorial crosses that grace Arlington National Cemetery. Nonetheless, all should take some comfort that the Mount Soledad Memorial will be well cared for and free from the illegitimate attacks of those who have sought to uproot it. We trust that this move will allow the memorial and its cross to be enjoyed and revered for generations to come.”
Our Defense of Veterans Memorials Project was created, and first became involved in litigation combatting the ACLU in 2006 when a U.S. District Court ordered the City of San Diego to destroy the Mt. Soledad Cross within 90-days or it would impose a fine of $5,000 per day. We entered the litigation to support Attorney Chuck LiMandri who at the time was carrying the legal battle against ACLU almost alone.
To the shock of most in the legal community, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay order preventing destruction of the Cross after the Ninth Circuit had denied a stay order pending appeal.
The Memorial was saved at the time by passage of the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial Protection Act of 2006, which transferred Mt. Soledad from the City of San Diego to the federal DOD. This effectively nullified the U.S. District Court’s destruction order, since that case was tried under the California Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution. That Mt. Soledad Protection Act passed the House overwhelmingly, and the U.S. Senate without objection, including no objection by then Sen. Barack Obama.
Then-President George W. Bush signed the Mt. Soledad Protection Act into law. Attorney Charles LiMandri, because of his singular and remarkable pro bono efforts to save the Cross was invited by President Bush to attend the signing ceremony.
Now, with the Mt. Soledad Memorial again facing destruction by the ACLU’s lawsuit, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a combat Marine, has led the effort in Congress to authorize a transfer of Mt. Soledad by sale into the private hands of the Memorial Association, as Congress did in the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross case (Buono vs.Salazar).
This may or may not deter the ACLU in its secular-cleansing, cross-destroying fanaticism, even to the point of attacking veterans memorials. If it does not, those who have fought to preserve Mt. Soledad will continue to fight, as long as it takes, to prevent the desecration of it or any veterans memorials by intolerant extremists epitomized by the ACLU, which, in my opinion, has become the Taliban of American liberal secularism.
As co-founder with Joe Infranco of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project, I thank Joe Infranco and all at ADF; Hiram Sasser, Kelly Schackleford, and all at Liberty Institute; Chuck LiMandri and all at Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; Attorney Pete Lepiscopo; Congressman Duncan Hunter; and all of who have fought so long and so hard to save Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial “as it is, where it is,” and as it was intended to be by the American veterans who founded it to honor their comrade veterans.
This thanks includes American Legionnaires in California who have continued to fight against the ACLU. They have, among other things, established plaques at Mt. Soledad honoring Maj. General Patrick H. Brady (USA, ret., Medal of Honor, Vietnam); Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton (USN, ret.; Navy Cross, POW for seven years/seven months in Vietnam); Legendary Legionnaires Leo Burke (USMC, WWII), and Robert J. “Uncle Bobby” Castillo (USN, WWII); and, on February 3, 2014, the Immortal Four Chaplains. (See, attached photo of California Legionnaires at Four Chaplains ceremonies beneath the Cross at Mt. Soledad, joined by former Navy Seal Larry Wilske (ret.), now Executive Secretary of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association.)
I thank them all for fighting as Patton taught—“Audacity, Audacity, Always Audacity;” and staying the course as Churchill taught:
“Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”
As veterans, and as patriots, we must not, we will not, allow desecration of memorials honoring veterans, no matter how offensive those memorials may be to enemies of America, foreign or domestic.
(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California civil rights attorney and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce)
Cops dress as panhandlers to spy if drivers are wearing seat belts or using cell phones.
On a warm July day, police officers dressed in civvies and stationed themselves at two intersections. One, according to a press account, at the intersection of Highway 210 and Arden and this one, Highway 210 at Waterman Avenue in the City of San Bernardino.
As you can see from the photo above, this is a typical spot for panhandlers. Even Google Street View captured one as it buzzed by to take this photo in 2014. So it was no big surprise when drivers may have spotted this guy when they got off the highway:
Wait, what did that sign say again?
I AM NOT
I’ll bet a steak dinner that unsuspecting drivers, who usually ignore the signs of panhandlers who occupy off ramps and intersections because they’re mostly scam artists, didn’t even bother to look at the sign. Even if they had, it would have been difficult to read the scribbled eye chart, ‘if-you-can-read-the-last-line-you-have-20/20-vision’-style sign.
The officers’ objective was to pretend to notify people of their sting without actually doing it, in order to catch people driving without seat belts or using their cell phones.
According to the Press Enterprise (which, by the way, changed its first headline and story from the sting op to touting the story as one about a ‘study’), the officers would observe the cockpits of the cars and trucks as they exited the highway to determine if drivers were wearing seat belts or using cellphones and radio ahead to other cops with a description of the scofflaw.
According to the PE:
At the end of the day, 50 vehicles were stopped, and 33 people were cited for cellphone violations.
In a recent study of traffic of Waterman Avenue, there were 10, 371 daily trips in one section alone and that did not include ingress and egress of a state highway. This is another way of saying that 33 people cited for cellphone violations is a statistical nothing-burger.
However, it wasn’t nothing for the drivers and passengers of 50 vehicles to be stopped and hassled by police who apparently had nothing better to do that day than dress up as homeless people and harass otherwise law abiding citizens.
There will be people outraged, I’m sure, by the tone of this piece. The ‘how dare you, Victoria’ crowd who have heard of the horrible accidents caused by drivers using cell phones or heard about severe injuries suffered by those who didn’t use their seat belts. I’ll stipulate some of the horrible stories and stupid people using cell phones while driving. I’ve heard it all before after talking and writing about cell phone laws for years now.
Yes, it’s illegal to use your cell phone and drive, but it shouldn’t be.
Since I’ve done this all before I’ll just quote myself from this story about the bogus statistics about cell phones and accidents:
Early on statisticians used the fact that cell phones were present in cars as ‘proof’ they were complicit in a crash.
Then came the evidence that hands free cell phone use was no safer than holding a cell phone. Studies showed it was the act of talking that was the distracting aspect. What to do? Like the folks who morphed “man made global warming” into “climate change,” safety poohbahs conflated the parade of horribles from cell phones and driving under an umbrella label called, “Distracted Driving.”
The demonization of cell phones persists, of course. I mean, hundreds of lawmakers can’t be proven wrong, can they? A recent study purported to claim that cell phone use is worse than drunk driving.
Now there’s another study showing that talking to your kids in the back seat is a distraction.
Carnegie Mellon/London School of Economics study confirms cell phone chatting and driving don’t increase chances of car accidents, unless you’re a moron, that is.
Researchers say they’re surprised by the results of their own study of U.S. data which shows there’s no correlation between chatting away on cell phones and driving.
You want to see distracted driving? Cell phone use while driving? Not wearing seat belts while driving? Check out a cop sometime.
A 2013 study found half the cops don’t wear seat belts. Many cities install computers for cops to use while talking on their cell phones or two-ways while driving. Watch sometime.
I don’t blame them. They probably think these are stupid laws, too.
But when you have to resort to tactics like these to punish people for disobeying a law whose usefulness is at best suspect, you’ve lost the moral high ground. In short, you’ve lost the argument in favor of such laws.
Wednesday night was the most unifying night of the week.
There are a couple of things that need to be said about the Charleston church shooting.
As we hear the voices of the politicians attempt to score political points about guns, ‘widespread’ racism, the need for more program money; the hand wringers who claim we need to talk more about race; and those who wish to make money off the deaths of these people; there are a few things that need pointing out. Call it a ‘duh’ factor, if you will.
A predominantly black church welcomed a white, young millennial into their Wednesday night Bible study. He heard the preaching and give and take with the nine people, four of whom were pastors, for about an hour. He heard the hearts of these people, heard their struggles and triumphs. He heard the truth.
The parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church Bible study Wednesday night were much older than the shooter. Only one, Tywanza Sanders, 26, was close to his age.
These strangers welcomed a young man into the fold because that’s ‘how we do’ at church. We’re all part of God’s family and we welcome our sisters and brothers regardless of race, age, ethnicity and social stratum.
The shooter, clearly suffering from mental problems and dark thoughts, some of which church folk might refer to as ‘demon possession’, knew when and where to go to find his victims because it was advertised on the Emanuel AME website:
BIBLE STUDY Is something missing from your life? Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God? If you have a desire to learn more about God, then join us on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the lower level of the church. We look forward to seeing you!
I don’t know the Bible text at the center of the study, but there’s no question this study attempted to fill the void of those who ‘have something missing’ from their lives.
Everyone was welcome.
There was a call to accountability to those coming to the study. ‘Are you doing all you can to have a closer relationship with God?’
While that may be off-putting to some, there was no doubt this Bible study would have addressed how each individual could ‘walk the talk’ and be held accountable by their group in a loving way.
The elders were showing the younger members, including this killer, how to have a relationship with God because that’s what’s important. Because that’s just ‘how we do’ at church.
In short, Cynthia Hurd, a 54 year old library manager; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a professional speech therapist, coach and mother; the Reverend Dr. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; church sexton, Ethel Lance, 70; the Reverend Daniel Simmons, a 74 year old staff minister; 59 year old Myra Thompson, the wife of a vicar at a near by church; Susie Jackson, 87 year old church stalwart; Tywanza, a young man of God; and their leader, the Reverend Clementa Pinckney were doing that which people claim we need more of.
Holding a Bible study and learning about the word of God on Wednesdays is what millions of people do every week. It’s one way we live out our faith. Complete strangers are welcomed to these meetings.
These meetings don’t usually make the news.
The people at this Bible study Wednesday night were living out racial harmony. To Christians at Emanuel AME, there was something much bigger than what divides us. They arrayed themselves around the word of God every Wednesday night at 6pm and concentrated on what unites His people.
They didn’t need to talk about racial harmony because they knew that spiritual harmony, united under the God of the Bible, is what’s important and the only thing that unites people, be they Samaritans, Jews, Gentiles, Greeks or Israelites.
This church, called Mother Emanuel, has known great injustice. Members organized a slave rebellion in the 1800’s and some were executed for it. The church served as a stop in the underground railroad for runaway slaves. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior preached there.
In the public square, the facile answer to this horrific shooting at the hands of a racist monster, is to assume government diktat or programs can do something to change people’s hearts.
There’s a role, to be sure, from the bully pulpit to help guide people, but I’m not hopeful the President can pivot to becoming a unifying voice. He’s shown too often he can only offer airy words of blame in his role as bystander-in-chief.
Al Sharpton, the President’s racial consigliere, has demonstrated he cares only what he can plunder and if he gets the credit for garnering headlines while fomenting violent clashes.
The organized left, led by paid protesters, has shown in city after city its aim is to create chaos, not unity.
These people who purport to show us the way to racial unity are some of the same who have conspired to take God out of the public square. Their aim is to replace a Gothic cathedral filled with God with a federal-style building somewhere in a capital city.
The thing that many people on social media and in legacy media won’t say is that we don’t need more government programs to force people into compliance with proscribed viewpoints, however meritorious.
They don’t need more Gov. They need more God.
The people at Emanuel AME showed the way. It’s up to the rest of us to follow their lead.
Godspeed. God Bless these people who knew where they were going and are now in peace.
And never forget: Joy comes in the morning. Because that’s just ‘how we do.’
Elkhart 4 Teens Committed Home Invasion, One Was Killed. Should Survivors Be Serving 50 Years for Murder?
Any day now, the Indiana Supreme Court will make a decision that could give a reprieve to three teens who were convicted of murder – but who actually never killed anyone.
The teens, known as the “Elkhart 4,” were convicted for the October 2012 murder of their accomplice in a home robbery under Indiana’s Felony Murder law, because the killing occurred during the commission of a felony, which heightens the charges.
The homeowner actually pulled the trigger, but all four surviving robbers, Levi Sparks, Jose Quiroz Jr., Blake Layman, and Anthony Sharp Jr., were given 50-year sentences.
Clackamas Gun Rights Meeting Brings Out the Typical Anti Gun Citizen.
In a meeting in which Clackamas County Commissioners passed a symbolic resolution in support of the Second Amendment, a woman rose to give testimony.
Her testimony is as inaccurate as it is hysterical; as vapid as it is wrong; as ridiculous as it is hilarious.
Thanks to Laughing at Liberals, it is now available for all to see. He also transcribed her words for your reading pleasure:
The 2nd Amendment was written 1776… every town had guns, they were kept in the armories… We do have armories, but we use them to house the Red Cross when there’s a disaster”… “All of these law abiding citizens are shooting back and forth in front of our house”… “To get that gun, we walked into Wal Mart, went up to the gun counter, showed them our license, he bought the gun and carried it out… That’s how difficult the background check was”… “You talk about big money coming in. What do you call the NRA and all of the gun manufacturers that are making the NRA nothing but a publicity arm”…”But to sit and say absolutely no change, you might as well put a gun to your head, because that is sheer stupidity
Yes, by all means, lady, encourage people to ‘put a gun to your head’.
Commissioners Tootie Smith, Paul Savas and Chair John Ludlow voted in favor of the resolution; Martha Schrader abstained. Jim Bernard had an excused absence from Thursday’s business meeting, but previously indicated he would have voted in favor of the resolution given the opportunity.
Ah, yes, Martha Schrader. Stay tuned for that story.
The Feds have subpoenaed ALL RECORDS–everything–having to do with Governor John Kitzhaber and girlfriend Cylvia Hayes’ green agenda.
A federal probe is no joke. It just got real for Kitzhaber and Hayes. Along with the Oregon State Attorney General’s probe and an ethics probe (which is technically suspended while waiting for the resolution to the AG’s probe), the Federal probe can’t be managed by Kitzhaber, as he’s clearly tried to do in the others, as well as the media.
Here are the big take aways from news the Department of Justice’s U.S. Attorney in Oregon has subpoenaed the soon-to-be former Governor and his girlfriend. Read the document for yourself below (HT Willamette Week).
The document seeks records on Oregon State credit cards to determine if Cylvia Hayes used them.
It seeks all records–all–pertaining to Cylvia’s energy activity.
All visitor records at Mahonia Hall and at the Governor’s Office.
Hayes’ bids for government programs.
Here are more revelations and tid bits since Friday’s resignation announcement:
KXL reports Kitzhaber continued to demand his emails be destroyed AFTER the State Investigation was announced. This shows an arrogance and entitled attitude and a misunderstanding of the Oregon Public Records Law which covers even Kitzhaber’s ‘private’ emails– if he uses his email to do state business. Kitzhaber does.
KXL reports two attorneys inside the governor’s office APPROVED destroying the documents.
Willamette Week’s Nigel Jacquiss reports four layers of government refused to destroy the documents.
The Kitzhaber demand to destroy documents came the DAY BEFORE he was to meet with the Attorney General, presumably to attempt to head off her investigation.
KXL and Willamette Week report Kitzhaber just tried AGAIN LAST WEEK to get his emails destroyed. It is against the law to destroy documents if you think they’ll be used in an investigation.
In short, he’s in trouble. Check out the subpoena.