Friday, December 23, 2005

Let me get this straight...

The twists and turns surrounding the murder last weekend of Navy reservist, Paul Berkley, in a North Raleigh park are now bordering upon the absured. According to The News and Observer, the story is that Paul Berkley, 46, was home in Clayton, NC from Iraq following reserve duty with the Navy. He went out to eat Saturday night with his wife, Monique Berkely, 26, and then to a movie. Following the movie, Monique suggested a "romantic" evening walk on a cold and rainy night in Millbrook Exchange Park near the theatre where Monique's 18 year old lover and his friend allegedly shot Paul in the head and in an effort to make it look like a robbery gone bad, shot Monique in the shoulder as well. Sounds pretty simple, woman conspires with lover to kill husband, most likely for insurance money. However, which each passing day, the N&O prints more articles detailing the history of the relationship and circumstances leading up to Paul's murder which sounds more like a daily soap opera. Let's see if we can pull it all together shall we?

Five years ago, Monique, leaves Tampa, FL for California to meet up with her lesbian partner, who she met in a gays and lesbians chatroom on the Internet. There in California she gets involved in some political activism, but is most described by the lover as a "stay-at-home" type. While in California, Monique and her partner get "married" and go on to enjoy there life together. Enter Paul Berkley, literally, who saunters into the local Circle K one day and hits it off with Monique. It seems that Monique was there visiting the aforementioned partner and Paul was a regular. Paul was twice divorced but had custody of his two children from his first marriage. Paul decided he likes Monique so much he invites her and her partner over to hang out at his house and watch TV. The result of this very strange threesome is that Monique dumps her partner and decides to start playing for the home team again, if you know what I mean. Her partner, who six months later, had a full sex change operation performed, said that Monique's attraction had more to do with the wad of money in Paul's pocket and not any other kinds of wads one might find there, but I digress. Paul and Monique eventually get married, she becomes the cool step mom to Paul's teenage children and somehow they find their way to the blossoming bedroom community of Clayton, NC.

So let's review we have a man in his forties who meets a girl in her twenties at a Circle K of all places, convinces her to leave her lesbian lover, who then has a sex change operation. They get married, she becomes a stepmom to children old enough to be her siblings, and they move to a quaint town surronded by rural North Carolina. Oh but wait it gets better...

Five years into the marriage, Paul gets shipped of to Iraq on reserve duty. Monique looks up this as an opporunity to have some fun. She meets one of her 18 year old stepson's friends, and begins an affair with him. The new boyfriend promptly moves in with her, in plain sight of the whole neighborhood and she even begins paying his cell phone bill. Couple that with the fact that Paul's sixteen year old daughter dated an 18 year old friend of Monique's new love and what you have is a love triangle, or pentagon, or whatever you want to call. It is so confusing, the writers for One Life to Live will probably call seeking to buy the rights to the story. The story culminates when Paul returns from Iraq, the 18 year old lover moves back home with his mom a few days prior, and Paul smells something fishy and confides in the daughter, Becky, that a divorce may be in the offing. Becky being the loving and loyal daughter that she is, immediatly alerts Monique and her cassanova to the impending court approved cessation of the gravy train. Based on this tidbut Monique plots with her boyfriend and his buddy(the daughter's ex-boyfriend) to lure Paul to the park and shoot him. The plan also called for a little "Jeffrey MacDonald" twist of injuring Monique to give the appearance that it was a botched mugging. Something obviously went wrong and Monique took a bullet to the shoulder. The current state of the case is that Monique is apparently singing like a canary, obviously in an attempt to garner some kind of plea to avoid the needle or spending the rest of her natural life in prison. The other two men are essentially out of luck, though police still are not forthcoming with who actually pulled the trigger.

What does this whole mess leave us with. A few things:

1. Monique might possibly be the dumbest woman in the state of North Carolina for (1) Cheating on her husband who was off serving in a war zone (2) Doing so with absolutely no discretion whatsoever to the point neighbors thought she had seperated from her husband and had taken up with a new boyfriend and (3) Actually believing that she could conspire to kill him and get away with it even though she made no effort to conceal the aforementioned affair. She has an affair in broad daylight, and then does not think she will not be subsequently implicated in the murder of her husband? She obviously had about as much intelligence and maturity as the teenagers she was associating with on a regular basis.

2. While I loathe to criticize the victim in any case, I think Paul had a huge lapse of judgment here. Maybe it's just me and my wacky conservative/moral leanings but I am fairly certain that as a 41 year old man, marrying a 21 year old woman who you met at the Circle K while she was there visiting her lesbian partner might rate pretty high on the lists of unwise choices. In fact given his marriage track record, he should have been extra cautious about with whom he tied the knot particularly considering the blusing bride is a unemployed, lesbian, convenience store loiterer. Yes, Monique and her band of merry men should pay to the fullest extent of the law for what they did, and no, Paul is not to blame for his own murder, but a tick of better judgment might have proved crucial in saving his life. Imagine if he had just paid for the Pepsi and walked out that day, he might be still be around.

3. I live 3 miles from the park where this happened and Saturday night into Sunday morning was cold, wet and in no way, shape or form romantic in any sense of the word. I am not sure what kind romance blossoms on the cold, dank jogging trails off Spring Forest Rd in Raleigh, but you can be sure it must be the fatal kind.

I am not sure where this story will go from here or what else the reporters at the N&O will dredge up between now and the trial. The complexity and twisted nature of the whole affair reeks of the same canvas of events one finds every afternoon on ABC, minus some form of mind control(Monique brainwashed the lover?), split personalities(Monique's lesbian personality reasserted itself?), or the resurrection of the dead(Paul is alive and he has been recast!). The DA has yet to reveal whether they intend to seek the death penalty, and I am not sure this meets the criteria or not. I think putting all three of them away for the bulk of their natural existence is punishment aplenty. Now the Orange County woman who scalded the two-year old girl she was babysitting, then allowed her to die? They cannot shove the needle into that monster quick enough for my taste.

Click here for the full N&O coverage of the Berkley murder.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The New York Transit Workers' Strike

From "The Simpsons" episode "Last Exit to Springfield" about the strike at nuclear power plant:

"You can't treat the working man this way. One day, we'll form a union and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we'll go too far, and get corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!"

Once again "The Simpsons" offers us tremendous insight about the world around us.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

George Bush: Jedi Knight

President George Bush uses the Force to turn a young Iraqi woman's finger purple.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

SANTA, FEDEX SPAT THREATENS CHRISTMAS

Santa accuses courier of failing to live up to contract.

NORTH POLE-Millions of children may find their stockings empty this coming Christmas morning due to a contract dispute between FedEx and toy philanthropist, Santa Clause. Clause, made world famous for his twenty four hour marathon of house-to-house toy delivery around the world every Christmas Eve, has accused the international courier of failing to abide by the terms of their four year old contract for distributing toys to the world's children.

"It is really a delicate situation" said North Pole Operations Chief Eng Lon, "we have come to depend on FedEx to take some of the burden off Santa on Christmas Eve, if we do not have them it could lead to serious delays."

According to Lon, Clause sought the partnership with FedEx in the wake of increased security measures as a result of the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the overwhelming rise in the number of children around the world. Lon said these factors along with the outsourcing of 60% of the gift production to manufacturers in the U.S. and Asia made the FedEx move a logical business decision since gifts could be shipped directly to the kids' homes and be received by the parents. There is also concern at the North Pole that advances in security technology has made getting Clause in and out of various homes undetected a difficult task.

"The advent of newer security and surveillance devices have made middle of the night toy delivery a virtual nightmare." said Ja-Lee, Director of Technology at the North Pole, "Since 9/11 the U.S military is on us like a hawk if we so much as deviate three feet from the flight plan. It has made toy delivery to places like Washington, D.C. and New York nearly impossible"

The contract with FedEx has enabled Clause to deliver most of the toys to technologically advanced regions of the world without the risk of detection or something worse. However following the 2004 campaign, a dispute arose when Clause requested the courier begin providing cargo jets to pick up the 40% of toys still manufactured at North Pole factories. Lon indicated that the only method they had for moving product out of the Pole region was via Santa's sleigh. The logistics of making that trip to FedEx distribution centers around the world prior to Christmas Eve proved problematic since Clause was the only one who could actually pilot the sleigh. His frequent absences from the Pole on these added distribution runs created some production delays. According to Lon, the contract allows for such a request to be made and FedEx's refusal is tatamount to a breach of the agreement.

FedEx refused to comment on the dispute saying instead that negotiations were ongoing. An unnamed FedEx official, familar with the situation, said the sticking point was that landing cargo planes in the North Pole "is not like dusting crops" and creates huge headaches for their flight teams. According to unamed sources, the North Pole has a very small landing strip since it only accomodates a "sleigh and eight tiny reindeer" North Pole officials are apparently unwilling to consider any expansion of the facilities to accomodate the larger planes citing environmental concerns.

Even with the big night fast approaching North Pole officials feel confident some kind of compromise can be reached to avoid a Christmas disaster for millions of children.

"We are in talks with UPS and DHL just in case we cannot work it out with FedEx" Lon said, "If not, it will not cancel Christmas, the gifts may just come a day or two late."

Lon's assurances come as little comfort to millions of parents whose efforts to contain the excitement and fever pitch of materialstic little brats are futile by Christmas Day.

"If there no presents under the tree on Christmas morning, it could real ugly here. In fact I may have to board the dog and hide the sharp objects just in case." said one parent. "I mean 364 days of repressed bad behavior exploding in a mixture of disappoinment and rage could have some very unfortunate results"

***This is a spoof news article....in case you did not know***
BCB, Copyright 2005

Tolerant People Who Are Intolerant

Ann Coulter was forced to cut a speech at the University of Connecticut due to excessive heckling from protesters in the audience:

According to Breitbart/AP:

Coulter's appearance prompted protests from several groups, including Students Against Hate and the Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center. They criticized her for spreading a message of hate and intolerance.
Just so I understand, these groups protested Coulter for her intolerance by being intolerant to her and interfering with her right to free speech. While I find Coulter to be a little extreme and caustic at times, constantly interrupting her because you disagree with her tramples upon the very concept of the free exchange of ideas on which this country was founded. I guess the rule is that tolerance and free speech is only available for those who fall left of center.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Watch Out for Those Evil, Bigoted Christians!

Not that I am greatly suprised by it when it happens, but during last night's episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit I was treated to further derision of Christian beliefs, this time concerning homosexuality.

The basic plot centered around an assault committed on a 12 year old boy who was stabbed in the back with a pair of scissors by an 8 year old girl at a NY Catholic school. It would seem the boy was bullying the girl because she had "two mommies" i.e. a lesbian couple raising her. The boy even went as far as to cut the girls hair at which point she took the scissors and proceeded to make him a parapalegic by ramming the blades into his spinal cord. Now, I enjoy watching "SVU", I think it is compelling and is fairly provactive in the areas it explores. However, there are times when the liberal/left slant comes shining through which is mostly tolerable except when they go out of their way to make anyone who believes otherwise to be bigoted and unresonable. In this case those believing homesexaulity is a sin or at least unnatural were instantly demonized. Some scenes which stuck with me:

Detectives Olivia Benson(Mariska Hagarty) and Elliot Stabler(Christopher Meloni) were discussing the assault with the victim's parents and when the issue of the little girl living with lesbian mothers came up, Benson condescended the couple for expressing outrage over the situation. The implication was that they were bigots for thinking that homosexuality was wrong and she made her contempt for their "narrow-minded" world vision palatable.

Detective Stabler interviewed the victim and when the sexual orientation of the little girl's mother and partner arose, the boy stated that the Bible said it was a sin, to which Stabler said:
"I don't remember reading that in the Bible"
Stabler, who is cast as a nominal Catholic, should perhaps review his catechism or at the very least read Romans 1 which makes it abundantly clear how God views homosexuality.

One scene in the squad room had Benson referring to the people at the Catholic school as "homophobes"

The most infurtiating aspect of the whole episode was the fact they chose a Catholic school to play this plot out. It would seem they went out of their way to illustrate just how evil and bigoted those Catholics(and by implication Christians in general) are in their view of homosexuality. The victim was eventually cast as homophobic, narrow-minded monster who got what he deserved for bullying the little girl. The underlying assumption with that particular characterization is that Christians and Catholics are so homophobic they would resort to terrorizing little girls. I think there is more evidence that people who are decidedly not churchgoers commit far more heinous acts than do believers. This plot could have just as easily been played out in a public school without the Catholic or Biblical angles on homsexuality. Unfortunately, that would not have forwarded whatever agenda the good folks over at NBC had in mind.

Of course I am aware that there is always a measure of truth in things like this. Yes, I think Christians tend to treat homosexuality different than other sinful acts. Yes, there are instances were the reaction of certain Christians is over the top and needs to be dialed back. I do not condone or believe homosexuals should be treated different than anyone else and we should apply the same standard to them as we do to other persons living in a state of perpetual sin. Sin is sin no matter it is and whether you are gay or a womanizer there are issues with you being within the fellowship of believers while engaging in continual sinful behavior. Forgiveness and sanctification is one thing, but people who openly defy the Word of God, say it is not wrong to have an affair, get drunk, or engage in homosexual acts are not living in holiness as commanded by God.

On a final note, an underlying current of last night's episode, fuels my greatest fear that there will come a day with the government will dictate to the church what they can believe based on anti-discrimination laws. Sooner or later, someone will sue a church for discrimination or ask that the non-profit tax exempt status be stripped because they refuse to hire a homosexual. If anyone thinks that is not coming, they are not paying attention.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Definition of Torture

During the course of the U.S. War on Terror, much has been made about how the U.S. has treated various detainees and prisoners of war. In 2004 the Abu-Graihb prison abuse scandal broke over the airwaves and we had pictures of American troops with Iraqi prisoners on leashes, being covered in hoods, and being subjected to sleep deprivation. The response to these events followed a partisan flavor with the Democrats screaming that we have betrayed human rights to some Republicans equating it to Pledge Week at the local university. Now, I think hazing in college is wrong and fairly ignorant, so yes I think the prisoner abuse in Iraq was wrong and I think the line is probably being crossed with some of the methods being used at Guatanamo Bay. That being said, the first witnesses in the trial of former Iraqi President Suddam Hussein and his co-horts offered us a horrific glimpse of what real torture is like:

One man, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed testified:


I swear by God, I walked by a room and . . . saw a grinder with blood coming
out of it and human hair underneath...

My brother was given electric shocks while my 77-year-old father watched
. . . One man was shot in the leg. . . Some were crippled because they had arms and legs broken.

[Melbourne Herald Sun]

A woman, from behind a screen in fear for her life offered this chilling testimony:



"I was forced to take off my clothes, and he raised my legs up and tied up my hands. He continued administering electric shocks and beating me," she said of Wadah al-Sheik, an Iraqi intelligence officer who died of cancer last month. Several times, the woman - hidden behind a light blue curtain - broke down.

"God is great. Oh, my Lord!" she moaned, her voice electronically deepened and
distorted.

She strongly suggested she had been raped, but did not say so outright. When Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin asked her about the "assault," she said: "I was beaten up and tortured by electrical shocks."

The witness, who was 16 at the time of her arrest, repeated that she had been ordered to undress.

"I begged them, but they hit with their pistols," she said. "They
made me put my legs up. There were five or more, and they treated me like a
banquet."

"Is that what happens to the virtuous woman that Saddam speaks
about?" she wept, prompting the judge to advise her to stick to the facts.

[Rueters]
While I will grant that the U.S. Military is far from being sanctified concerning matters of this nature, what has happened during various points of the War on Terror pales in comparison to the brutality of Hussein and his minions. It also should be noted that in some cases, the actions the U.S. Military takes are against true terrorists and enemy combatants who may have information which would save lives or are simply too dangerous to be released. What Hussein did, he did against innocent civilians who are had no voice or no means to resist. For whatever reasons we went to war, we cannot be too unhappy with the idea that his monster is no longer in power and continuing this campaign of horror.
It is also important that the U.S be above board on these issues in an effort to maintain credibility or just for the sake of moral responsibility.


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