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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Supreme Court and Abortion

I was going to post about the recently uncovered story alleging that Bush had contemplating Al-Jazeera's offices in the friendly nation of Qatar, but anything I was going to say was said far better by Snave at Various Miseries. So, instead, I will discuss the first abortion-rights case to be heard by the Roberts court.

The question in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood is whether New Hampshire's parental notification law will be upheld. If I had to choose between either pro-choice or pro-life, I would probably have to say I'm pro-choice, though I am in favor of some restrictions on abortion and am strongly in favor of measures to reduce the demand for it. On the surface, the New Hampshire law seems like a good idea. I favor parental notification in principle, but a potential problem with this law is that there is no explicit exception in the case of emergencies where the mother's health is in jeopardy, though other laws in the state of New Hampshire may protect doctors in those instances. As a general rule, I believe it should be as difficult for a minor to get an abortion as it is for a child to receive other forms of medical treatment. In the specific case of abortion, I believe it should require parental/guardian notification unless the mother's life or health is in danger, or unless the parent/guardian fathered the child or otherwise abused the mother-to-be. But this question is not about my personal views. It is about which way this court will rule on this case. Chief Justice Roberts has shown some signs of being a maverick and has been given the American Bar Association's highest rating. At this point, all that is left is to wait a few months for the ruling.

Four polls, one conclusion: We're all fucked.

I know I've been silent, but then again, it's not like I get all that much, or frankly, any, traffic. From the beginning, I viewed this blog with a bit more honesty than I saw in other blogs, and realized that, in the final analysis, this would be nothing more than one of several million places where one guy vents his spleen, a small act of self-indulgence made far larger by modern technology. So, in keeping with those roots while introducing something new, I bring you recent polls collated by, with a touch of the old, snide commentary as the mood strikes me.

According to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted from November 8-9 with 900 registered voters and a margin of error of ± 3%, asked the question, "Overall, do you think the Bush Administration is more ethical, less ethical, or about as ethical as other recent presidential administrations?" The response was 29% believing the current administration is more ethical, 39% less ethical, 28% same, and 5% unsure. Gee, this really sounds like a guy who promised to clean up the ethical problems of the previous administration has been doing a bang-up job. What I find even more interesting is that this was a poll conducted by Fox News, an unapologetically center-right news network, and yet Bush did that poorly.

From November 8-13, The Harris Poll asked 1,011 adults, "Do you think that the Bush Administration generally provides accurate information regarding current issues or do you think they generally mislead the public on current issues to achieve their own end?" The margin of error was ± 3%, and the response was as follows: Among all adults, 32% accurate, 64% misleading, 4% unsure; among Republicans, 68% accurate, 28% inaccurate, 4% unsure; among Democrats, 7% accurate, 91% misleading, 2% unsure; and among Independents, 25% accurate, 73% misleading, 2% unsure. One could take several conclusions could be derived from this poll, such as the possibility that Republicans are less likely to vote in lock-step with their party than Democrats or that the Republican Party's base is even becoming disgusted with the current administration. Naturally, I pay the most attention to the Independents, whose votes are critical in winning any election. Republicans will almost invariably vote Republican and Democrats will almost invariably vote Democrat, but Independents decide elections. I listen to what President Bush says, and I can't believe some of the bullshit he's spewing, though other things, I actually agree with. Among those policies of his I agree with, I either agree with them for different reasons and/or feel he's approaching in an inept manner. Then again, I felt almost the same way about President Clinton.

This brings me to my last poll for this extended rant. Between November 8-13, The Harris Poll asked 1,011 people how Republicans and Democrats are doing in Congress, with a margin of error of ± 3%. The results were equally dismal, with Republicans being rated 27% excellent/pretty good and 69% only fair/poor, and Democrats being rated 25% excellent/pretty good and 70% only fair/poor. I cannot honestly claim to be an expert, but I know bad numbers when i see them. If there were viable alternative parties, I would be seriously worried if I were a member of either party's leadership. As it stands, I would only be worried if I were a member of the Democratic Party leadership. I say that because it's far more difficult to unseat an incumbent than it is to retain a seat, and to successfully do so, one must be demonstrably better than the incumbent one is trying to replace. According to this poll, it is painfully clear that the Democrats are utterly failing to do so. I've posted my opinions on the reasons this is so, but the most critical of these is that the Democratic Party leadership hasn't evolved beyond a "not them" stance. As evidenced by Hilary Clinton's election to the United States Senate, that's simply not sufficient to win major elections. That was the core of her opponent's campaign, and as a result, Hilary Clinton won the election with about 70% of the vote, if memory serves. To retake control of Congress and have a real shot at the White House in 2008, the Democratic Party needs to express a real and realistic vision for the future and produce a candidate who can appeal to a wider base than the two clunkers they've turned out for the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Looking for help picking a berry to grow...

What's your favorite brambleberry?
Which type of brambleberry do you prefer?
Baba berry

T.O. can now consider himself TKO'd.

After reviewing the merits of the case, Terrell Owen's time in Philadelphia is officially over. I can find no fault in Philadelphia's stance and actions. Once a player becomes that much of a distraction and embarassment, the larger question becomes one of whether your team can afford to have him continue to be a problem, not one of whether or not you can do without him. The Eagles organization has decided that it's better to lose without him than win with him, and if I were in their place, the only thing I would've changed is that I would've gotten rid of the bastard earlier. The players' association was so incensed about the situation that they have threatened to remove the arbitrator from the list of approved arbitrators, but I can't see where any other impartial arbitrator could have come to a different conclusion. This ruling could not have been a shock to T.O. Football analysts, insiders, informed outsiders, and those who care about the game were all saying as much. With his talent, I can see where any team would want him. A player of his caliber would be an asset to any team, barring extreme circumstances. However, T.O.'s tenure has been nothing more than a string of extreme behavior, and with years of him displaying an attitude as nasty as any pro athlete since Ty Cobb, I can't see why any team would want him.

It is my sincerest hope that Mr. Owens steps back, looks at what he has caused, look at what he has done to his career, and finally, for once in his pathetic life, grow up. That being said, I have very little doubt that my hope is in vain, and more's the pity. With his stats, he could easily be on the way to the Hall of Fame, but with hit attitude, he'll relegate himself to the status of a difficult Jeopardy question.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Am I a bastard? Musings on a fallen WWE Superstar...

I am a fan of the late Eddie Guerrero. His energy and his evident love of the business were very obvious to anyone who spent even a short amount of time watching him. Especially after he came back after he beat his demons, his gratitude for everything, for every breath he took, was evident in everything he did. He was probably one of the greatest in-ring entertainers of the last generation. I say this out of a deep respect for Mr. Guerrero and out of sorrow for his family and friends, but I also say this as a preface for what I'm about to say next.

I was just a fan. I never knew the guy, never even met him. I never spent the time on the road with him like his friends and coworkers, his family within the sports entertainment business. I never got a chance to see anything other than what he displayed for the world. Millions of us, his fans, never got a chance to see the man his friends, his family, his coworkers got to see, so while we the fans will remember him for a while, eventually, the only people for whom the loss will really hurt are his friends, his family, those who really knew him. I don't think we the fans will forget, at least not at first, but I don't think the loss will have the same kind of immediacy and pain for nearly as long. I think that's very sad, and I also think that's undeniably true. I realized that about a day after Mr. Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room, and ever since, I've been asking myself if I was a heartless bastard for thinking that. I still don't have my answer, and its absence haunts me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Irreverend Jesse Jackson is a Cunt, and other related musings...

Terrell Owens has been a boon to the Eagles on the field, and nothing less than a bane to the Eagles off of the field. Yet Jesse Jackson chooses to feel the punishment is far too severe for what Terrell Owens did. For the record, Owens is being suspended without pay for a total of four games for conduct detrimental to the team. He will then be deactivated for the rest of the season with pay. I know that we don't know everything Terrell Owens has done, but here's a brief rundown of what we do know: He has fought with teammates. He has repeatedly shown a lack of professionalism. He has repeatedly insulted his teammates, most notably the excellent Donovan McNabb, the very man who threw T.O. the pass he converted for his 100th touchdown and upon whom he relies to make him look good. He has repeatedly insulted his team's management. Jesus H. Christ! He even said the team would be better off with another quarterback, the over the hill Brett Favre. Furthermore, there are indications that he was a very disruptive force in the locker room, which has been borne out with what little we have heard. I'm no expert, but if problems in a locker room bubble over to where we, the public hear about them, there's a very serious problem, and in this case, the problem is Terrell Owens.

Irreverend Jackson said, as cited in the above linked article, that the level of punishment would have been warranted if he'd've been caught shaving points from the game, selling drugs, carrying a gun, or fighting fans without sufficient restraint. I strongly disagree with both his characterization of the actual offense and the hypothetical charges he mentioned. True, Terrell Owens will not play for the rest of the season. However, he's only being suspended without pay for four games. Furthermore, the offenses Jesse mentioned would warrant far harsher treatment than T.O. is receiving. Point shaving, selling drugs, carrying an unlicensed weapon, and fighting fans would wararant at least a two season suspension, if not a lifetime ban from the game, and possibly criminal charges. I find it heartwarming that JJ thinks so little of the fans, the public, and the sport as evidenced by his belittling some very severe charges.

Jesse, I have a question for you: If I were to insult my coworkers publicly, openly criticize the management where I work, routinely display a gross lack of professionalism, publicly defame the business where I work, and serve as a very disruptive influence in the workplace, what do you think would happen to me? Just for the purposes of clarity, I'm a white man, and I'm so pale I scorch in the sun. I know exactly what would happen to me. I wouldn't be suspended for a few games, get paid for the rest of the year, or receive any of the other perks T.O. is receiving. I would be fired and escorted off the premises. I would receive no severance package, would not be eligible for unemployment compensation in the state of Alabama, and would basically be fucked. Furthermore, it would be the right decision by the business. Do you know how many times I've seen that very thing happen? Ask the owner of a business or a member of management how many times they've had to do that. Ask an average person who's been in the workplace a few years how many times they've seen that happen. Then ask me if I have any sympathy for Terrell "Toddler" Owens. The only people who have earned my sympathy in this debacle are his teammates and management. In short, go fuck yourself up the ass, Jesse Jackson and Terrell Owens.

Of course, Ralph Nader felt the need to stick his pointy nose in the situation, so the former statements apply to him. The difference is that he isn't important enough to be quoted.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

For a change of pace, here's something far weightier and disturbing...

As I was surfing today, I ran across this story about something I've never even heard of, National Security Letters. Apparently, this is something that was enacted circa the 1960s or 1970s, and affords the FBI barely checked powers to gather information on individuals without their knowledge or consent. Until John Ashcroft's appointment to the office of Attorney General of the United States, this was apparently quite rare, but under the Patriot Act and his directives, this is far mor commonly used, and some would argue abused, today. For more information, please click on the link above. As for me, I was under the impression that we, as citizens of the United States of America, had certain rights. I wonder if the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America ring any bells to those who engage in these fishing expeditions. Frankly, I see this as bad law, bad policy, bad for the nation, and a true victory for the terrorists those who use this claim to attempt to protect us from. However, America is not just a nation, not just a blob on a map. The United States of America is an idea, and anything that allows that idea to fade and be betrayed is a true victory for the terrorists, one far longer lasting than any act of evil they commit. It is for that reason that I applaud the ACLU's opposition to the laws and policies that enable this. For over two centuries, grand juries and subpoenas have been more than sufficient to achieve this end. This, however, has far too much cost for too little gain.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

NCAA Division I-A Football Analysis-Week 10

Since I'm a fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, I'll start with that game. The line on that game, according to Yahoo, was 'Bama by 16, and since they beat Mississippi State 17-0, they at least beat the spread. One thing I find disconcerting, however, is the fact that 'Bama has only scored one offensive touchdown in the last three conference games, and none of those were tonight. They scored their touchdowns on defense and special teams, and that's very troubling considering the fact that the next two weeks bring LSU and Auburn, both major conference rivals.

I had hoped that the Utah State game would at least show them how they can get the job done, but apparently, I was wrong. Considering the kind of shitstorm Coach Shula inherited when he came here three years ago and the lingering troubles he has had since, this season is nothing short of a miracle. 9-0, knocking off serious competition along the way, a guaranteed berth to at least a mid-level bowl, not bad considering what he has to work with. Though Alabama doesn't have the highest total points per game in the SEC, they've still had enough to keep their loss column empty, and that's ultimately the most important thing. But with so little offensive depth, frankly, it's a miracle it hasn't caught up with them yet.

Their saving grace thusfar has been their incredible defense. They have the stingiest defense in the SEC and the second-stingiest in Division I-A NCAA football, allowing only 9 points per game. However, if they can't score, they're in deep trouble against a strong LSU team and an Auburn team that looks to spoil.

In other news, UCLA had their asses handed to them by Arizona, 52-14. That isn't a football game. That's an NCAA-sanctioned mugging. UCLA falls to 8-1. Also, Virginia Tech fell 27-7 to a very game Miami team, also falling to 8-1. The only remaining undefeated teams in Division I-A football are USC, Texas, and Alabama, each of whom handily beat their respective opponents, though the last in a far less convincing manner than I would've liked. Notre Dame hammered Tennessee 41-21, handing Tennessee their fourth consecutive loss and seriously endangering Tennessee's hopes for a bowl bid. The only chance Tennessee has to appear in a minor bowl is to win their last three games, and at least one of those, Vanderbilt, will be tricky at best if their near-upset of Florida is any indication. Florida State was shocked by NC State, 20-15, though Boston College's loss to North Carolina guarantees Florida State a spot in the ACC championship game on December 3. The remainder of the top 25 went pretty much as expected.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Odder musings than normal...

I was thinking about Tori Amos, and how her lyrics have become increasingly cryptic while remaining autobiographical, and in light of recent events, I thought I would try to imitate her, maybe toss in some James Joyce stream of thought prose. But then again, perhaps the beatniks were inspired by Joyce and provided inspiration to Ms. Amos. Who am I to know? Anyway, on with the show. I just ask that you comment, let me know if you liked it, thought it sucked, thought it was weird, or whatever.

Person speaks, reminds me of ago, of attempted but failed help by long-forgotten friends. Not their fault; they didn't know, couldn't have known, though they at least knew they didn't know. At least they were there, cared, gave a damn, but I was still shattered, still felt a volcano of pain in my soul.

Years pass, and with wisdom comes age and perspective and healing. New friend, new town, new life, new me. Friend speaks, same story from ago but completely different, and I know that I wish I knew what to say, what to help ease the anguish that radiated from her, and that maybe some of my old friends knew and didn't know what to say, and that they felt as helpless as I do now. I still see her face, marvel that she could function, marvel that she's not in a room weeping, sleeping, breaking. I know, and I don't, because I have and haven't been there, because no one can go quite to the same places in the soul another has been. Too many variables changed, too many hearts broken, and this time, wisdom does not bring peace. Is it wisdom to know that you don't know, when someone needs you to know, or is it failure? I don't know, but I know what I feel.