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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Epic face palm: The RNC hits a new low

First, some definitions: A "face palm" is when you're slapping your face in exasperation over something being stupid. "Epic" roughly means "amazingly huge". Hence, "epic face palm" means that someone did something so amazingly stupid that it almost defies belief.

I know it's unlike me to post anything while the issue is still a hot topic, typically allowing cooler heads to prevail and the controversy to die down, but on occasion, there is something that screams for a response. I never thought I'd see top members of the RNC manage to surpass Palin's ineptitude and McCain's insensitivity to the plight of working Americans, or once again reach the low hit by the people crying "Terrorist" and "Kill Him" at a McCain/Palin rally, but they did. Whether or not you like President-elect Obama, whether or not you voted for him, you have to be appalled at the former chairman of Mike Huckabee's campaign releasing a CD with the song "Obama the Magic Negro" on it. Just when I thought the GOP's implosion could go no further, just when I thought they could not possibly damage themselves any more than they have, this happens. And what's worse is the guy, Chip Saltsman, not only did not apologize, he actually DEFENDED it by saying it was one of several "lighthearted political parodies that had aired on the Rush Limbaugh show". Holy fucking SHIT! I'm torn between shock and disgust, shock that, after their stunning defeats across the board in November, the RNC could have learned nothing, and disgust with the content and the man's defense of his, to be generous, bafflingly stupid choice. From my perspective, since this story broke this weekend, the RNC has roughly 48 hours to take drastic action or endanger its future even more than the last eight years have done. I just don't understand how someone could be that incredibly dumb. What was he possibly thinking?!

I have nothing else to add, so on that note, enjoy the song.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Holidays... bah!

I have always prided myself on being true to myself, on being honest when I chose to express my feelings. With that in mind, I recalled something I said years ago: If I'm ever desperate enough to consider searching for a date on the internet, I will convert to Catholicism and become a priest. Thing is, though, I'm finally almost that desperate, and I have no interest in converting to Catholicism or becoming a priest. It's those ads that seem to be perfectly done to make you feel the loneliness seep in. Well, either that, or I'm susceptible due to the "joy" of the holiday season and exhaustion. Still, I'm not susceptible enough to actually register on one of those websites, yet, though the day may be coming.

On a different note, I have been fascinated by the emergence of the Internet as a platform and staging ground for real-life activism. I must include a content warning for some of this video, from about 0:25 to 0:27 in particular. What I found particularly remarkable about this video is the creator using the strength of the organization he or she opposes against them. This is, to me, reminiscent of one of the core principles of judo. To those whose aims and means are good, the Internet is your friend and will help you achieve great things, provided you use a bit of intelligence and common sense. For those whose aims and/or means are for ill, or even simply marked with inexcusable incompetence, however, the Internet is your judgment seat. Lies and wrongdoing simply do not survive here, not in the long term, not when truth is available in such abundance.

Enjoy the music. Do these guys remind anyone else of Radiohead?

Monday, December 08, 2008

A deepening of sorrow: The Browns and Goldmans

One crow, sorrow. Two crows, joy. Three crows for a girl. Four crows for a boy. Five crows for silver. Six crows for gold. Seven crows for a secret that's never been told.
~The Crow: City of Angels, "Ashe Corven"

Draw your own conclusions from the above quote. I find it works in this situation on a number of levels. I counted only one crow as the sentence was delivered to Orenthal James Simpson, for all I saw was sorrow, one so deep I can scarcely fathom it. The Goldmans and Browns have hated Mr. Simpson ever since their loved ones were so brutally murdered in June of 1994, and frankly, I can't blame them. For over fourteen years, they sought justice, and indeed, vengeance on the man responsible for the murder of their loved ones, and if anything, I commend them on their restraint. With Mr. Simpson likely to spend most of the remainder of his life in prison, they have finally found the justice and vengeance they have sought for so long. One would think this is a time to rejoice, to be content with what the justice system has finally done. Though I have never met the Goldmans or the Browns, though my knowledge of them is no better than anyone else who reads the newspaper or watches the news, I can go by how I think I would react. It is for that reason my sympathy for them has increased with this recent conviction. By virtue of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, Mr. Simpson can never again be tried in criminal court for the murder of their loved ones. In essence, though every shred of evidence points to one individual, including the shoe prints of Mr. Simpson's size of butt-ugly Bruno Magli shoes, their cases will forever be technically listed as "unsolved", and he will never spend a day in prison as punishment for that crime. I doubt that 14 and one half years have alleviated that kind of pain, and I would not be surprised if that pain were everlasting. But the crux of a deepening of my sympathy for the Goldmans and Browns is this: They have hated Mr. Simpson for so long, and he has finally gotten some of what he deserves. Their calling to be the voice of those they held so dear is done. For fourteen and a half years, they pleaded for justice, cried out for those who no longer had a voice, and suffered pains beyond those of the damned. What do they do next? It is this question that really makes my heart ache for them. What now?

With all that in mind, I close with the quote I opened this post with:

One crow, sorrow. Two crows, joy. Three crows for a girl. Four crows for a boy. Five crows for silver. Six crows for gold. Seven crows for a secret that's never been told.
~The Crow: City of Angels, "Ashe Corven"

May mercy and comfort be granted unto the Goldmans and Browns and all those who knew and cared for the victims, and the victims of all crimes everywhere.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My first album review: Made Out of Babies "The Ruiner"

I recently listened to this album all the way through, and I'm still reeling from it. Julie Christmas' vocals go from creepily quiet to primal growling with alarming frequency and speed. As a whole, the album is a tour de force that makes just about everything else sound like Creed or Trapt. Although it is only 9 songs, we're talking about 42 minutes of thundering drums, guitars that will set your teeth on edge, and the greatest metal vocalist of our time. I hate picking a favorite song, but I have to go with "Stranger". At over 7 minutes, you won't hear this on the radio any time soon, but it perfectly encapsulates the strengths of this mighty band. No, Julie Christmas is not affiliated with Flyleaf, and while the superficial resemblance is there, Lacey Mosley does not even belong in the same conversation as Made Out of Babies' demented vocals. While Flyleaf is emo and annoyingly evangelical at points, Made Out of Babies is just pure, unapologetic, unrelenting metal with a laser-like focus on the music, wherever that may take them. And unlike Mosley of Flyleaf, there is nothing cute or remotely redeeming about Christmas' music. Her disturbing vocals belie a woman who, by all accounts, is very well-adjusted. If you're not the slightest bit freaked out, you're not listening. In the end, this was the album I didn't know I've wanted for years, the opus I once yearned for but had lost hope of finding. I have to give this a rating I almost don't believe in: 5 out of 5 stars. I say I almost don't believe in a 5-star rating or the "perfect 10", but this is as close to perfect as I've seen since "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails.

Since I couldn't find "Stranger" on YouTube, this will have to do. Enjoy.

Grimace by MOoB

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proposition Eight Backlash:

I want to make it absolutely clear, as I have before on this blog, that I feel gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people should have the same rights and privileges afforded to all other people. That includes the same caveat I include for all others: As long as they harm none, and do not engage in incest or other criminally deviant manners that cause the harm of others, especially children. Examples of what I consider "criminally deviant" includes bestiality and some other acts that I am probably better off not knowing or even thinking about.

First, I saw a video on Yahoo that pointed me to a disturbingly new neo-McCarthyist reaction to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. The website is, and I find this deeply inappropriate on multiple levels. This is a nation of free speech and expression, and I find the actions of the creators of this website are engaging in the same type of hate-mongering for which Senator Joe McCarthy became infamous. Also, they are endangering the welfare and livelihoods of others why? Because they disagree with what they did and said? If they cannot understand the depth of the wrongness of what they did in creating this website, I don't know how to communicate it to them. This is a nation of laws, of reasoned debate, and of peaceful protest, but this goes well over that line into straight vigilantism, and that's wrong. That's damned wrong, and this should not go unchallenged in the courts. Furthermore, what if someone is on that list who did not contribute, or who has a name similar or identical to another individual on that list? Spreading the seeds of hate is WRONG, whether that individual be straight or gay, white or black, male or female, and that is PRECISELY what this website does by design and as a nature of its very existence.

Second, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) have taken an undue amount of criticism over this issue. This is a matter that is very close to my heart, given my background. First, let's look at the numbers: The Mormon church has just over 13 million adherents, more than half of whom live outside of Utah. Can I get a show of hands of who actually believes that 6,068,393 Mormons live in California AND agreed with the premise of Proposition 8? This is a church whose main ideological divide is between conservatives and libertarians, with a few liberals in the mix. Second, who honestly believes that, of those, a significant number were African-Americans, a demographic that supported the measure by a ratio of 2 to 1, were also Mormon or influenced by the ads? Look at the exit polling. What of the initiative in Arkansas that passed and denied homosexuals the right to adopt, this a Southern "Bible Belt" state? Or the anti-gay marriage initiative that passed with just over 60% of the vote in Florida or another one in Arizona? Why aren't Rosie O'Donut and Whoopi Goldberg protesting the black churches and Hispanic Catholic churches in California, who voted for the measure by as much as 70%? Why aren't they protesting the largest demographics of support for Proposition 8? Well, because they feel they can get away with it. The Southern Baptists and other conservative evangelicals, and conservative Catholics, who are every bit as culpable as a sect as the Mormons, don't care for Mormons all that much, and besides, they're too big a group to risk alienating. Also, the Mormon church has a clear hierarchy and one leader, like the Catholics. Ask a Southern Baptist to tell you who the leader of their faith is. They'll rant about "my pastor" while not knowing the answer, because there is none. Ask a Mormon to tell you who the leader of their faith is. We'll tell you Thomas S. Monson, and that his immediate predecessor was Gordon B. Hinckley. Some of us may know the entire list of them, going back to Joseph Smith, Jr. As for me, I know a few, but I would really need Wikipedia or the LDS website to read off the names.

Now that we know how and why the various responses have been inappropriate, the question is simple: Where do we go from here? Court challenges seem to be the appropriate response, and maybe some civil disobedience akin to what that San Francisco mayor did by marrying same-sex couples before the court case that briefly legalized gay marriage. Vigilantism and targeting those not nearly as responsible for the passage of Proposition 8 are not the answer.

The deeper cause of this problem is an idea that was first expressed in Plato's Republic, and later given additional form by Alexis de Tocqueville. I refer, of course, to the tyranny of the majority. As long as none are being harmed by the objectionable action/inherent nature of an individual, it is absolutely wrong for people to have the ability to vote on the basic civil rights of the minority. Imagine if the civil rights era had, instead of being decided in the courts, been placed before the vote of the several states in the South. Looking at the 1960 Census data, page 26 of that file, 20,491,443 Americans were non-white, and 158,831,732 Americans were white. If you strip away those under 24, since the voting age was not lowered to 18 until July 1, 1971, you have 9,849,260 non-white people of voting age and 89,667,738 white people of voting age, give or take, for a non-white percentage of just under 10% people of voting age. For the effects of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS, decision, the Rosa Parks case, and any of a number of other instances too numerous to mention to have occurred, 100% of all non-white Americans and roughly 45% of white Americans would have had to vote for the ratification of what we now, rightfully, consider basic human rights, and we would have been stuck with a hodgepodge of laws varying by state. I would not want to accuse 45% of all white Americans in 1960 of racism, but I am as aware as you are of the power of the status quo. People usually don't like change, even when it's good for them. If I were a betting person, I would not have liked the chances of 45% of people voting in favor of the greater good.

Frankly, I'm appalled that the African-American community, by and large, choose not to see that others are facing the same problems that their ancestors or they themselves have faced over the years. One would think that they, above all, should have a special sympathy for them, instead of voting against others' rights by a 2 to 1 margin. This is wrong, and moreover, they above all others should KNOW it's wrong. I'm not blaming the passage of Proposition 8 on any one group, but if it's good for Whoopi to make an ass out of herself in public by making sweeping generalizations about a large group of people, the least I can do is improve on her tainted example by at least acknowledging that not all members of another group are culpable.

This song isn't quite related to this topic, but it's close enough for my purposes. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Mel Gibson Braveheart

The above image is for use as a parody, knowing Mel Gibson's rabid anti-Semitism and other less than pleasant personality traits. Still, the image of William Wallace refusing to bow to the English crown is indelible.

Intellectually, I knew yesterday would turn out roughly the way it actually turned out. However, try telling my heart that. I was on pins and needles, and though I succumbed to the need for sleep for a while, I was awake when NBC called the election for President-elect Obama. I will forever be grateful that I was awake to see that.

As I watched McCain's concession speech, I must admit that the petty part of me enjoyed watching him accept his defeat far more than was healthy or mature. Still, he did so with something he showed precious little of during his campaign, especially during the last several months: Dignity, graciousness, and honor. I congratulate McCain on showing us the person he has proven capable of pretending to be.

For President-elect Obama, watching his victory speech, my eyes watered up, and once again, I saw the man whose ideas and ability I quickly learned to love almost a year ago. I saw the graciousness in his victory and the vision he set out for our future. I saw and heard the determination he had to set things right in this nation, and his honesty about its difficulty and what would be necessary to bring it about. As I reviewed his record in the Senate, I also saw his dedication to the highest principles upon which our nation was founded and to the right of due process, regardless of the race of the accused. Last night, I saw a great man giving a great speech and being very frank about the great challenges that lie ahead. I can say with the fullness of my heart that I have never been prouder of our great nation than I was last night and will be in the days and months to come. Congratulations, Mr. President-elect. May your days be blessed, your troubles few, your health as strong as your character, and your wisdom and courage indomitable. As a child, I pledged allegiance to America, and I'm glad to see her heart was not dead. It was merely sleeping, and now that America is awake, I cannot help feeling that great things are coming.

In closing, I'm including a music video that pretty well expresses my joy at the outcome of yesterday's presidential election. Just try to listen to this and not dance a little bit in your chair. I dare ya. :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Final prediction: Election 2008

With less than two hours until the first polls open, I'm in the mood for a little bit of prognosticating. Of course, I could be full of shit, but what else is new? :P

I think I'll go with a conservative estimate and pick Obama 349, McCain 189. I predict the following states will break for Obama: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and for my upset special, North Carolina.

From this blogger's chair, the greatest potential for an upset in McCain's favor is probably Colorado at 9 electoral votes, but if this happens, I will be very surprised.

In the Senate race, I predict a 58 seat majority for the Democrats. The seat I most want to see gone is Chambliss of Georgia. The "man" is an absolute disgrace and one of the least honorable men to serve in the Senate in more than a generation.

Finally, I predict a huge Democratic Party majority in the House. I would prefer to see a different Speaker of the House, but I'll take what I can get, and that's a blue tide.

To those who believe in a higher power, now is probably a good time to pray for Senator Obama and Senator Biden's victory. For those who do not, hope is a very powerful thing, especially when it inspires the action necessary to fix the problems that ail us. Get out tomorrow, vote, and enjoy an adult beverage. :)

Enjoy this mashup of classics.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Finding a New Home: A letter to Republicans

With the increasingly obvious disintegration of the Republican Party, much like its predecessor, the question becomes, "Now what?" The unholy alliance between the various factions is fracturing, with the paleos becoming the voice of the modern GOP, much to the consternation and disgust of the intellectual wings of the party. The most recent, and damning yet, defection was by none other than C.C. Goldwater, granddaughter of Barry Goldwater. I found her criticism of McCain to be particularly poignant, because she was talking about the disintegration of something her grandfather helped build but would not recognize today. On second thought, maybe this isn't a "new" defection, per se. I just ran across this website, and I found it very amusing and on point.

For the moderates in the GOP, and the Democratic Party for that matter, I have discovered a political party that may serve you well. They are moderate in both social and fiscal issues, and their platform seems quite sensible. Also, they have a name that should be familiar to students of American history, with a twist. I refer to the Modern Whig Party. Looking at their platform, I have trouble seeing why they aren't huge already, and if they are well-led, I see a far greater potential for their growth than even the Libertarian Party in their heyday.

For Independent-minded voters, I include the Independence Party of America, not to be confused with the paleoconservative Alaskan Independence Party with which we have become too familiar with the nomination of the Trojan Moose for Vice-President. The thing I like the most about this group is their refusal to rely on any one set ideology to fix the problems that face us. I find that rational, sane, and refreshing. I also have hope for a bright future for this party.

Just for shits and giggles, I'm also including the Personal Choice Party. I don't know why I'm including them, but I'll cite blogger's prerogative. For fuck's sake, they even had Marilyn Chambers (yes, THAT Marilyn Chambers) as their VP candidate back in '04. They seem to be an ideological libertarian party, whose belief in non-interventionism stretches as far as any I've seen aside from the Voluntaryist movement. I think they're a bit odd, but I find it hard not to like their thinking.

I mentioned the Libertarian Party, and I admit that I say this with some sadness and fondness for what they once were. Still, for those whose main issue is free trade and getting the government out of as many aspects of our lives as possible, this is your party. Their biggest problem is a penchant for infighting which has stunted their growth significantly over the decades of their existence. For years, I have hoped they would get their act together, but that hope is dead. The moderates have long since jumped ship for the GOP and the Democratic Party, and I'm one of them. The reason: Not only have the inmates started to run the asylum, they have torn down the asylum brick by brick. How else can you defend their choice of Bob Barr as their presidential candidate?

Finally, for the Dominionists, Christian Reconstructionists, and Christian "conservatives," as well as Mona Charen and her fellow victims of intellectual Stockholm Syndrome, I have found a fitting hell for you: the Constitution Party, a place where you may fling shit at each other and preach damnation at those who would oppose you. Forget Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, which clearly states that the United States of America is NOT a Christian nation. Forget the sad irony of the following quote by President George Washington, "...the Government of the United to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance...May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy." No, continue on your Dominionist rants and further marginalize yourselves, and leave the heavy lifting for those who truly deserve the appellation "conservative".

In closing, enjoy the music, but only if you like metal. I don't know if I've already posted this song, but I've had it stuck in my head all day. 6/8 time at 65 dotted-quarter-notes per minute for almost six minutes. Damn! How do they have any energy after this one song?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is the most sacred thing in your life?

Believe it or not, this is not necessarily a question of religion. I am aware of the many atheists and agnostics, or few as it were given how few people actually hit my blog at all, who visit this tiny corner of the blogosphere. I have done some thinking recently, and I thought about my faith, my family, and my childhood, and what exactly I value. When I really gave it some thought, my answer somewhat surprised me, and it had nothing to do with the Bible or the other holy books or magazines of my faith. It didn't even have anything to do with football, my "other" religion and the one I've been the most faithful to over the years. No, one of the things which I find most holy is made of thirteen ingredients, and it's not because of what those ingredients make, although it is quite good. It may not even be the best of its type, but it, or rather, what it symbolizes, is holy to me. Yes, it's a cake, but more than that, it is the expression of a father's love for his son in one of the only ways he could really express it, and it is that love, as symbolized by a cake, that I find holy above everything else. It is the nights my mother stayed up all night and took care of me when I was sick as a child that I find holy above all, or when my other family members and I would play as children, or when I would smell the pleasant aromas associated with homemade bread making, or the pungency of tomato plants in our garden, or any of a number of great memories from my childhood. If I'm ever asked who my god is, I suppose I will have to be honest and say that some of my gods are my family, regardless (and sometimes because) of their flaws. I may not always like them, but they will forever have my love and respect, though worship, well, not so much.

I'm sorry about the introspective mood. It happens from time to time. In the meantime, enjoy the music. For today, I'm including a bonus video since both seemed to fit my mood quite well.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Answers, and a letter to Senator McCain:

Governor Palin, the answers are as follows: Roman Abramovich and Roman Kopin are the former and current governors of Chukotka, respectively. Dmitri Medvedev is the current President of the Russian Federation. Dennis Fentie is the current Premier of the Yukon Territory. Geraldine van Bibber is the current Commissioner of the Yukon Territory. Gordon Campbell is the current Premier of British Columbia. Steven Point and Iona Campagnolo are the current and former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, respectively. On the place names, the correct answers were Yukon, Chukotka, Sakhalin, and Kamchatka. Of these, Sakhalin comes closest, but Alaska still has a slightly higher population.

For the fillers, Roman Jakobson was a Russian linguist who passed away back in 1982 when you were playing beer pong at your sorority. Vsevolod Abramovich was an early Russian aviator who died in 1913. Danila Medvedev is a Russian futurologist. Dennis Leary is one of my favorite comedians/comedic actors. Geraldine "Geri" Halliwell is better known as Sexy Spice of the Spice Girls. Greg Campbell is a not particularly great cricket player from Australia. Steven Soderbergh is one of the highest grossing movie directors of all time whose work includes "Erin Brockovich," "Oceans Eleven," "Solaris," and "sex,lies, and videotape". Finally, Iona Nikitchenko was the judge for the Soviet Union during the Nuremberg Trials. The filler place names are all parts of Russia.

Finally, the letter to Senator McCain. Enjoy.

Senator McCain, I hope this finds you well. By now you must be aware that your campaign is floundering. There is little you can do except tarnish your legacy; yet even the hope of avoiding that is in vain. Your crude attempts to excessively link Senator Obama to Bill Ayers have served only to spark hatred and fear. This is wrong, and you know it is wrong. While Bill Ayers and Senator Obama have worked together in the past, it has been only infrequently and for a short duration. The causes for which they worked together: education reform and anti-poverty efforts. What kind of bastard would help kids and poor people? That was a little thing called "sarcasm", by the way. Senator Obama was only eight years old at the time of the Weather Underground's most infamous acts. You know this, yet you persist in your dishonorable attacks on your fellow Senator.

You claim you will fix the economy, but how can your word be trusted? You were part of the Keating Five who assisted in causing the Savings and Loans collapse of the 1980s. Furthermore, your push for deregulation helped cause the current meltdown. You have admitted your ineptitude on this issue in the past, yet you claim you can fix this? I do not believe you, and the American people do not believe you. This is evidenced by your poll numbers. Why else would your best surrogate, Sarah Palin, be in West Virginia instead of a battleground state like Ohio?

It is as though you are reversing the course Thomas Dewey took in 1944 and 1948. In 1944, Dewey made extreme and unfair claims about his opponent, FDR, not unlike what you have done this year. In 1948, he took the self-serving "principled" stand you took in 2000. In one thing, however, Thomas Dewey and you are united: Your attempts to achieve the highest office in our land will have been unsuccessful. The time has come for your shameless self-promotion to come to an end. It will be with a song in my heart that I and millions of my fellow Americans will vote on November 4th to end your career. After this event, I wish you a long life and the wisdom to think about what led you to this point. That said, my hopes on the latter are muted by your stubborn refusal to learn from your past mistakes. The future is now. Your time is past. Enjoy your obsolescence. I know I will. And for those who are still continuing their drinking game from your last debate and that of your running mate, I have two things to say: "my friends" and "maverick".

Enjoy the music. The music is, fittingly enough, "Everybody Loves a Loser" by Morcheeba.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Questions for Governor Palin:

You claim that you have foreign policy experience because you are the executive of a state that borders Canada and is close to Russia. Being such a great foreign policy expert, perhaps you can tell me which of the following people you may have had cause to meet during your tenure, and why. If you have not met these people, please provide a reason.

Roman Abramovich
Roman Jakobson
Roman Kopin
Vsevolod Abramovich
Danila Medvedev
Dmitri Medvedev
Dennis Fentie
Dennis Leary
Geraldine Van Bibber
Geraldine Halliwell
Gordon Campbell
Greg Campbell
Steven Point
Steven Soderbergh
Iona Campagnolo
Iona Nikitchenko

Do you recognize some of these names, Governor Palin? Do you know who these people are? I'll even give you a hint: Eight of the people listed above have served in the governments of your immediate neighbors during your brief tenure as governor. The rest are famous or infamous for other reasons, though one of those who served in your neighbors' governments is also infamous in his or her own right.

For extra credit, I have a list of place names. I'm not including British Columbia since even a child could get that one right.


Of these, which are the four closest to Alaska, and do any of them have a population greater than that of your state?

Given the difficulty you may experience answering this question, I must ask one question: What foreign policy experience do you bring to the table? What foreign officials have you met for more than a brief photo op? I'm not asking about heads of state and heads of government. I'm asking about your counterparts in Canada and Russia.

Give this some thought, and get back to me. I'll be here. In the meantime, CRANK THIS SHIT UP!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The winner of the Sept. 27 debate:

This is a quick little post based on a rather pleasant trip to the Yahoo political dashboard. First, a brief rundown of what's happened. Obama is up 5% in Colorado, 6% in New Mexico, 5% in Wisconsin, 5.6% in Minnesota, and over 6% in the following key states: Michigan, Iowa, and Pennsylvania. All of that is the appetizer. Here's the meat of it: Florida has shifted to a 3% Obama lead from a solid McCain lead. Nevada has shifted from weak McCain to a 0.5% Obama lead. McCain's lead in Indiana has shrunk to 2.4%, and his lead in Missouri has shrunk to 1.7%. Virginia has shifted from solid McCain to a 2.5% Obama lead, and North Carolina has shifted from solid McCain to a 0.3% Obama lead according to These polls about who performed better or who got the better digs in or other psychological aspects of it, while interesting, do not carry anywhere near the significance of the electoral map. Psychology is important, and I don't mean to diminish its value, especially in presidential politics. However, the most important measure of its impact is found in the electoral map. It is for this reason I address these polls instead of the "Who do you think won last Friday?" poll questions.

I have created a new scenario that is plausible based on the current data. It exceeds the previous high-water mark for my optimism about Obama's chances. The states I gave to Obama were plausible, and the states I gave McCain were plausible. I think the name I gave this scenario says it all.

Enjoy. I can't embed this song, but I can provide a link. :) I don't know how applicable it is to this post, but it's just good music.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A good weekend, a bad day, and a religious experience:

First, the good weekend: CNN polls scored the debate 51-38 in favor of Obama. Obama did not score a knockout, but he did get some good licks in, including the best shot of the night. Also, today's issue of USA Today had some very encouraging numbers for the junior Senator from Illinois. And that's not even counting what I noticed last night on RealClearPolitics, with North Carolina joining Virginia in the very slightly BLUE category. Even if that doesn't hold, that forces McCain and the RNC to use critical resources that are even more necessary in Ohio, Florida, and Michigan. Excellent weekend for us Democrats.

I don't think I have to explain how today was a bad day. If you have CNN, you pretty well know that the Dow and the S&P tanked today. I'm not sold on the bailout. However, things don't look pretty, and something has to be done. If that's a bailout or a payback scenario, so be it, but in the coming years, the absolute number ONE priority for this nation must be getting out of debt. The National Debt is approaching $10 TRILLION. That's pretty scary. To put that into perspective, last year's GDP was $13.81 trillion, which leaves us with a debt hovering around 70% of our annual GDP and rising. This is a national security issue, a human rights issue, an economic issue, and more. Hell, it touches on pretty much every single priority we have and need to have, and over the last eight years, the only thing that's happened is its growth. I want the United States of America to exist for the generations to come, but the national debt has become an existential problem. This deeply troubles me.

On a lighter note, I'm finally posting a video of the religious experience I had this weekend. This pretty well covers it. Enjoy. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Some scenarios to consider:

All of the states for which I have changed the alignment are within the margin of error. It is worth noting that, in Florida, Obama has narrowed McCain's lead from 5% to 2.8% in less than one week, and his lead in Colorado, Michigan, and other key states have expanded again.

Let's examine four possible scenarios I consider well within the realm of possibility.

Scenario 1 has Obama 273, McCain 265, and merely requires that Obama keep all of his current holdings.

Scenario 2 has Obama 298, McCain 240, and requires that Obama keep all of his current holdings except for Maryland (could substitute Maryland for Colorado, which would be more likely and be +1 Obama compared to this) AND take Ohio and North Carolina, though North Carolina could be substituted with Virginia for a -2 Obama and +2 McCain. This is not quite a landslide, but a significant defeat and probably the end of McCain's career in politics.

Scenario 3 is about as optimistic as you'll ever find me with Obama winning 320 Electoral Votes to McCain's 218. This requires Obama to maintain his current holdings and gain Ohio and Florida. While this would not qualify as a textbook definition of a landslide, well, a 102 point win in a 538 point contest isn't anything to laugh at. This would almost certainly end McCain's career in politics, if not in deed, then by every practical measure.

Finally is my Nightmare Scenario, which has Senator Obama tied with Senator McCain at 269 Electoral Votes each. This would require simply Obama losing Colorado's 9 Electoral Votes and gaining Nevada's 5 Electoral Votes. This would give McCain the win for the reasons outlined in my previous response, unless more states' House delegations go blue. The political fallout for the loser would be unknown, but the fallout for this nation if McCain wins would be grave. While the odds of Obama losing Colorado drop daily, I included this scenario to show exactly how little it would take to turn this election cycle into a nightmare. Two little changes, one positive, one negative, can lead to a disastrous outcome.

Now, instead of music, I think I'll close this post with some humor to lessen the blow of my last comment, and to remind us of some freedoms we've lost. Enjoy.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Thursday, September 18, 2008

270 or bust:

I had meant to do a number of posts in the last week, but realizing I was not in the proper frame of mind to do so, I opted to be silent and not expose my folly. This, however, is something I found interesting and did not fully understand until last night, and with that understanding comes a troubled mind. It seems that with a tie or a plurality, which is not very likely given our current two-party system, it does go to the newly elected House of Representatives to decide who becomes the next president. The last time this happened was after the 1824 Presidential elections, and when that happened, the rules as stated in the Twelfth Amendment make for a rather byzantine process.

True, it would go to the House of Representatives, which you would think would be good news for Obama with a blue Congress. However, you would be wrong, because each state gets only one vote, and if the Congressional delegation is evenly split, that state is considered to be abstaining. According to the political prediction markets and current polling data, Senator Obama currently has 22 states plus DC, which would give him 273 electoral votes and a win. After exhaustive effort, I found that I could not determine the breakdown of the 50 states' House delegations at any point before the sun turns into a cold, hard cinder, or at least before I put a heavy object through my monitor out of frustration. However, let's work with the numbers I do have. That means 28 states for McCain, and 22 states for Obama, which means that if the Electoral Vote is split 269-269, we're probably looking at President McCain.

I wrote this post because we need to do everything we can to encourage people to vote in this, the single most important election of the last half century. It is my fervent belief, after exhaustive research of both major candidates and those who fell during the primaries, that Senator Obama and Senator Biden are our best, and perhaps last, hope to restore the freedoms we once enjoyed in this great nation. I'm ready for November 4. Are you?


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reflections on 9/11/01: Seven Years Later

The seventh anniversary will occur tomorrow, and in all that time, we've learned the wrong lessons. A large part of me wants to be angry, but I just can't manage it right now. Either way, I can do nothing about it alone.

On September 11, 2001, 2,974, excluding the 19 hijackers and the 24 people still missing, lost their lives. Many more are suffering, physically and/or emotionally, as a result of these attacks. I truly do not wish to seem like I'm making light of this horror. However, during Hurricane Katrina, 1,836 people lost their lives with 705 people still missing, and that's not counting those who lost their lives due to increased crime rates, preexisting medical conditions exacerbated by the extreme heat and stress, and those who took their own lives. During Pearl Harbor, 2,402 people died, and over 1,200 were wounded. The impact to our naval assets in the Pacific was even greater. Finally, 168 people died at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, when it was bombed; 800+ were injured.

These are all large numbers, each with a terrible toll in lives lost and hearts broken. However, let's take some more numbers from one of the years since then, 2005. If you want to check these figures, here's the link. The numbers are: 652,091; 559,312; 143,579; 130,933; 117,809; 75,119; 71,599; 63,001; 43,901; 34,136; 32,637; 27,530; 24,902; 19,544; 18,124; and 433,800. I will combine the number of missing in the terrorist acts, act of war, and natural disaster listed in the previous paragraph, while excluding the 19 hijackers, to arrive at a combined figure of 8,109 dead in those catastrophes. 8,109 is a terrible number, a terrible toll in lives taken. Let's look at that long list of other numbers, though. Those are the number of dead in 2005 of the following causes in the order they are shown above: diseases of the heart; cancers; cerebrovascular diseases; chronic lower respiratory diseases; accidents; diabetes mellitus; Alzheimer's disease; influenza and pneumonia; nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis; septicemia; suicide; chronic liver disease and cirrhosis; primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease; Parkinson's disease; homicide; and all other causes. This brings a total of 2,448,017 people who died in the United States in 2005. That amounts to the combined toll of these tragedies dying every 1,741 minutes, or if you want to look at 9/11, that's one 9/11 every 643.7 minutes, give or take. Think about that.

After Oklahoma City, the terrorists didn't win. After Pearl Harbor, another nation-state did not win. After Katrina, to be brutally honest, nobody won. However, after the September 11, 2008 terrorist attacks, the terrorists won. They didn't win by destroying several buildings in New York City, or by crashing an airplane into the Pentagon, or by crashing an airplane into a field in Pennsylvania. Buildings can be rebuilt. Lives, while the pain lasts for all those who lost someone in that attack, go on. No, the lasting victories for the terrorists occurred in Congress, in the White House, and in the other halls of power in our government. The lasting victories occurred when people were taken off the streets and subjected to "extraordinary rendition" or "enhanced interrogation" or had their communications illegally intercepted, or whenever an innocent has their name wrongfully placed on a "terrorist watch list" with no notification or recourse. The terrorists' lasting victories occur every time a police officer decides to use excessive or unnecessary force. But most importantly, the terrorists' lasting victories occur every time one of our freedoms, the selfsame freedoms many of our ancestors and other loved ones fought and died for, is abridged in the name of "national security." We have friendly neighbors to our north and south. We need not fear them, and in fact, we should love them as we do ourselves. No, the most likely way our nation will be destroyed is from within, and such is not a new state of affairs.

I love this nation. I love its most noble ideals. I love its people. Hell, I even love the backwater I'm from. How, then, must it hurt to see this nation succumbing to a cancer within? I want people to hurt, and I want them to be angry, and I want to see PEACEFUL protests not unlike what we've seen with Critical Mass. But most importantly, I want to see that spirit of protest carried into each polling place in the United States of America. For those who have done well, to those who have defended our rights and fulfilled the duties of their office responsibly, reward them with your support. However, for those who have abridged our freedoms for their own ends, for those who have not been good stewards of the nation with whose future they have been entrusted, show them your wrath by voting for someone who WILL listen and protect our freedoms. Show them your wrath by telling them "NO MORE! DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT!" No more.

I said earlier that I'm not angry, and it's true. I'm not angry. The anger is gone. All that's left is a bone-weariness and sorrow for what we've lost, for what we've allowed ourselves to lose. We screwed up as a people, either directly through our actions, or indirectly by voting the wrong people in and standing silent. It is time for us to correct our mistakes, through peaceful means. We are a nation of laws and of respect for differing opinions. We are a nation of respecting others' right to peacefully express their opinions. It is through these means, and these means alone, that lasting, positive change can occur.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton once said the following at a speech in 1866: "A reform is a correction of abuses; a revolution is a transfer of power." In that sense, we are in desperate need of reform. I am no revolutionary. I am merely someone who is starving for reform.

I will close this post with a moment of Zen from one of my favorite musicians, Moby. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Post 300: The wisdom of Earl Warren and the sad realization of an irony

It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of those liberties which make the defense of the nation worthwhile.

It is those words upon which I reflect tonight. I spoke to a mindless Republican drone earlier today who said that I supported Senator Obama because I'm a Democrat. The simple truth is the reverse: I became a Democrat long after I became a supporter of Senator Obama and, in large part, as a direct result of his integrity and leadership.

After months of exhaustive research, I voted for Senator Obama on January 29, although, in accordance with DNC and RNC rules and through compromise, that vote was not counted until February 5 of this year. However, I did not first self-identify as a Democrat until some time last week. In the end, I realized that the Republican Party in its current incarnation is an utter betrayal of many, if not most, of this nation's highest ideals. They are an embodiment of Chief Justice Warren's aforementioned irony. As a result, I could no longer continue to commit treason against my conscience or betray this country or its future by aligning with the GOP, as libertarians are often wont to do in the absence of a Libertarian Party candidate.

It's a cop-out and an abdication of one's responsibility to think rationally to say that I only support Senator Obama because I'm a Democrat. It presupposes the wrong question and the wrong answer. The question is not, "Why do I support Obama?" The answer is not "Because I'm a Democrat." The correct question is, "Why did I become a Democrat?" I voted for Bob Dole in 1996, and I voted for Bush the Dumber in 2000 and 2004. This party switch was in no way easy for me, and in fact, was a very long time in coming. With my earlier conservative roots, I still favor shrinking and localizing government and making it more responsive to the people. The GOP is no longer that party, but even if it were, it would not have been enough for me to stay. I still remember asking a nice older lady why she was a conservative when I was a young adult and a staunch conservative, and she said, "Because I love freedom." In the many years since, that has stayed with me, and that is ultimately why I can no longer align myself with what had been my ideological home for so long when I was younger.

These days, it is the Democrats who favor and enact smaller, more responsive government. These days, it is the Democrats who fight for freedom and the rights and advancement of the average person. These days, it is the Democrats who are the last defenders of the Constitution of the United States of America. As a result, it is with the Democratic Party my loyalties must lie if I am to remain true to my country and to myself. The Democratic Party talks with pride about being a "big tent". As a civil libertarian, I feel at home here. Ideologically, I finally feel at peace with my own nature in a way I never did when I aligned myself with the GOP, even before they became too extreme. It feels nice. It feels warm, and I have never felt so free.

For those who would vote for McCain/Palin, I feel the need to caution you that, should the path set forth by Bush be continued or even more grossly perverted by Senator McCain and Governor Palin, we could easily become a police state, and those ideals for which our ancestors fought will have been for naught. If you love the America you grew up in, the America we all want to be passed on to the coming generations, the only real choice is a vote for Senators Obama and Biden on November 4. Our children and our future deserve nothing less.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav, and A defense of McCain's VP Pick: Post number 299

First, yes, I do live on the Gulf Coast in an area that may be impacted by Gustav, though I'm on the outer reaches of that. My thoughts and prayers, and I think it's reasonable to assume, those of the few people who read this blog, are with those in the Greater New Orleans metro area, other points in Louisiana, and Mississippi, as well as those in low-lying and flood-prone parts of coastal Alabama and the western Florida panhandle. As for my area, I'm so worried that my biggest concern is over which snack to enjoy next, though I'm very grateful I'm not in the position of so many others from this general area. I've been in their shoes, leaving and not knowing what, if anything, will be left when you come back, and it's not fun.

I have read some who have compared this to Katrina, and been annoyed by those words. The Gulf water temperatures are nowhere near as high as they were three years ago. Still, make no mistake: This is not a zephyr. This is a major hurricane, and with the projected landfall being west of New Orleans, well, it's not good news in the least for the Big Easy. Anyone familiar with hurricanes knows that the northeast quadrant is the worst part of the storm shy of a direct hit, and New Orleans will likely take that northeast quadrant of this storm up the ass. It's a great city with not-so-great leadership, and everyone affected, including the good people of New Orleans, have my deepest sympathies.

As sad as this news is, the show must go on. I have given the Palin pick a lot of thought, and I've actually managed to find a reason that makes McCain sound like less of an idiot. This could be a carefully orchestrated act of revenge against the Republican Party for their unconscionable attacks against him in 2000. In short, this could be Senator McCain giving the movers and shakers in his party the finger. He has destroyed the party unity he once had as one of his few weapons, and he has become late night television fodder. If this is not an example of spectacularly bad judgment, this is the only explanation that makes sense. She's even more genuinely far to the right than McCain himself, and frankly this move reeks so strongly of desperation that people living miles from a television can smell it. If anyone else has any other viable theories, please, share them. My final analysis is that McCain just threw the election away.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoughts about Obama's speech and McCain's VP pick:

I spoke with one independent who was undecided before witnessing Senator Obama's acceptance speech. His reaction was the same one I felt: He wished the election were tomorrow so he could vote for Senator Obama. There has simply not been a political speech of this heart-felt brilliance since perhaps the acceptance speech given by JFK 48 years ago. In a real sense, I think Senator Obama won the election last night. He put forth a coherent, realistic vision for our nation's future while expressing a deep love of this country and the great aspects of it. His speech was every bit as remarkable for its content as it was for his delivery. These are not the gushings of a fanboi. These are the statements of someone who never thought I would ever see one of the great leaders of this nation in my lifetime. When I was born, JFK and RFK were dead, as were FDR, Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington. While Obama, as all other great people do, stands on the shoulders of giants, last night, he proved he also deserves to be counted among their number. Honestly, I still get chills thinking about it. Senator Obama's vision was not easy. My favorite part, aside from the discussion of his personal background, was his "eco-Apollo program" proposal to completely remove our dependence on foreign energy in the next 10 years. Others had parts they preferred, but perhaps because of my own interests, this was my bias. I have never heard nor ever expect to hear from another politician a more brilliant, thoughtful, and well-written speech. For once, I'm out of adjectives.

As brilliant as Senator Obama's speech was, as thoughtful as he was, McCain was the opposite when he selected Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. When I first saw the announcement on CNN, I spent a minute or two looking for Ashton Kutcher on the screen. I honestly thought the American public was getting punked, at first. We have a man attacking his opponent for his lack of experience selecting a running mate who, prior to becoming governor of a state with a population a little over half the size of the largest metro area in Alabama eighteen months ago, was the mayor of a town of 8,000. Furthermore, she is being investigated by a Republican state legislator for allegedly firing the Public Safety Commissioner because he refused to terminate the employment of her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. If true, that would be an impeachable offense, as using an office of public trust to fulfill a personal vendetta is deeply inappropriate and a gross abuse of power. No wonder Senator McCain likes her. In addition, I've heard reports that Governors Romney and Pawlenty are not being shy about their shock and outrage, and in their defense, who can blame them? Frankly, this reeks of desperation, and once people become aware of her more extreme views, the fallout will be as great as that experienced by Walter Mondale back in 1984. I suppose it's fitting in a way that a display of brilliance is followed by an act whose bizarreness and perversity is equally profound. Senator Obama left me speechless and in awe. With this pick, Senator McCain has left me speechless in disgust.

Enjoy the music.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Democratic Party: One debate that should NOT be needed

I've read about some disagreement within the Democratic Party about how hard to attack John McCain. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those of us who have contributed to the Obama campaign actually TRYING to get him elected? Fuck me sideways! To those lotus-eaters who are afraid of going negative (that means you, Mark Warner), need I remind you that politics are simply another form of war? I don't often like to agree with James Carville, but I must agree with his following statement: "If this party has a message, it's done a hell of a job hiding it tonight, I promise you that." Put out your vision, put out your hopes for the future and show how you are in touch with the American people, and ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK!!! FUCK!!! Keep the hits above the belt, but hit him like you fucking MEAN IT!!! It's not as though John McNasty hasn't provided enough material in just the last eight years to sink THREE candidates. You don't have to dig hard or look very far. What you do, however, have to do is REMIND THE PUBLIC!!! Do you want the White House, and do you want 70+ seats in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate? THEN FIGHT, GODDAMN IT!!! GET OUT OF YOUR CORNER AND START SWINGING!!! Body blows, hits to the head, I don't give a fuck. JUST FIGHT!!! All this passive-aggressive bullshit will accomplish is another four years of a Bush-clone, and I doubt any of us want that, not even the Hill-bots.

In that sense, I was torn between relief and pure, unadulterated glee when I saw Senator Obama's latest attack ad. It's funny, it's hard-hitting, it's memorable, it lands a nice little jab, AND IT'S AN ATTACK!!! Sure, I'd love to see something more, but it's a good start.

In breaking with my tradition, I'm not going to post music. Instead, I'm going to post even more hilarious vulgarity that is in line with the content of my post. Enjoy. NSFW, but then again, neither is this blog because of my language.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished, Mr. President.

I can honestly say that I am amazed by President Bush's accomplishments while in office. He has managed to utterly bankrupt this country and destroy the foundation of the liberties we once enjoyed. It took this nation over 220 years to achieve what it had when President Bush took office, through the hard work of generations of our people, through the infusion of new blood through immigration, and through our own sorrow and hard-earned wisdom at the mistakes we and our ancestors made. 220+ years of hard work and hard-won respect, and Mr. Bush, you have managed to undo most of it in less than eight. If this was your goal, I say "Mission accomplished."

During conventions, instead of the rowdy, but necessary, protests of yesteryear, we have designated "protest zones" with permits and scheduling, in violation of the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. Does this remind you of a nation we've mocked for that very thing during these Olympics?

The Second Amendment is safe, apparently because the government sees no need to fear a dumbed-down and lazy populace. The Third Amendment is equally safe because it's much simpler and safer to just build military bases than to quarter our troops in others' homes.

President Bush, you, your cronies, and your enablers on both sides of the aisle have raped the Fourth Amendment through the passage of the Patriot Act and your further actions that ignored the unconstitutional latitude given by the FISA courts, and further by your extensive use of "extraordinary rendition", which you proved was not "extraordinary" at all except in the damage it did to this nation. If some pencil-pushing wonk decides that something is in the interest of "national security", who needs courts? Has that not been Mr. Bush's attitude?

Sadly, that was one of the less damaging stops in your trip through the Bill of Rights. Look what you did to the Fifth Amendment. Of course, I'm referring to Guantanimo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and other atrocities committed in your name and at your behest. I must admit this overlaps heavily with the Eighth Amendment, which specifically prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment", but since that aspect has been discussed at length elsewhere, I'll focus on the Fifth Amendment implications for the most part. Through the use of water-boarding and other torture methods, you have ordered our troops and contractors with the government to be witnesses against themselves, even if their testimony is false, then deprived them of liberty, property, and in some cases, their lives as a result of said torture, without ever seeing a judge, without their case ever getting near a courtroom.

This brings me to my point about the Sixth Amendment, though for expediency, I will also combine this with the Eighth Amendment. It is these three amendments, the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth, you have attacked most effectively and eviscerated most completely, and for that, I am torn between congratulating you and weeping for the generations to come. That previous statement is only half true, because this is no accomplishment worthy of being lauded. This is a betrayal of those who came before, and those who are yet to come. I cite the Sixth Amendment because of your procedure for "special tribunals" for "enemy combatants", regardless of their citizenship, even if they be Americans. I cite your willful ignorance and abrogation of the right of "habeas corpus", which has been part of the legal tradition of this nation and the English common laws upon which much of this Constitution was based since the Magna Carta was imposed on the similarly inept and pettily cruel King John of England in 1215. For the Eighth Amendment, I cite your administration's infliction of cruel and unusual punishments on innocent people by your "terrorist watch list", again, overlapping with the entire text of the Sixth Amendment, including but not limited to the right of the accused to face their accusers. As a result of this terrorist watch list, we have an Iraq War combat veteran, Erich Scherfen; CNN reporter Dave Griffin; and a third grader (AN EIGHT YEAR OLD!!!) by the name of James Robinson; as well as what may be over one million others, are being punished, without the ability to clear their names of crimes they never committed nor even INTENDED to commit. I could continue at length about other abuses related to your abuse of just these three amendments, but I don't have a year to devote to this topic.

I must admit my coverage of the Seventh, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments will not have the gravitas of the work above, but having set on this course, I must make a good faith effort to complete it. Through the updated FISA bill, the telecommunications companies are absolved of any fiscal responsibility for their complicity in the abuse of our rights, denying the right of litigants to have their lawsuits heard before a jury. Of the major telecommunications companies, only Qwest was brave enough to defend the rights of their customers, and I find it an odd coincidence that their CEO, rather than those of AT&T and Verizon, who was indicted. The Ninth and Tenth are depressingly easy to cover. With the abuse and neglect of the rights specifically afforded to the states and the people in the other eight amendments, why should the government worry about those without specific protections? When a nation becomes a police state in everything but name, what is left?

A marginally sane preacher once infamously said, "God DAMN America." Based on the evidence, I can only wonder why He would bother. After all, haven't we done an excellent job of damning ourselves? The people of this nation should be mad as HELL at what has happened over the last eight years. We should be marching in the streets in peaceful protest. We should be DEMANDING that our Congress impeach this stain on our nation or risk losing their own seats of power. We should be DEMANDING that our government abide by its obligation to protect and defend our rights, instead of abridging them. We should be DEMANDING that our nation use force only in its own defense, instead of waging wars of acquisition. Instead, as a nation, we're all too busy choosing to eat unhealthy amounts and types of food at McDonald's, allowing ourselves to be brainwashed by Fox News, and enriching this nation's enemies by shopping at Wal-Mart, and just going about with the tedium of life (if you're lucky enough to have that opportunity). In that sense, we've deserved every bit of what we've gotten... but the generations yet unborn don't. Why have we forgotten about them, about the children of today and those yet to come? Why have we betrayed them so utterly? Will they forgive us? SHOULD they forgive us? Is it proper and right that we forgive ourselves? These questions haunt me.

Mr. Bush, I wish you a long life filled with good health, because I want you to be in full control of your faculties when you appear as a defendant at The Hague for the war crimes and other human rights abuses YOU ordered or allowed to occur unchecked. For the good of this nation, and the good of this world, you must face the justice you have demanded of others of your ilk. Although you had help, you have succeeded in proving that the experiment that was America was an utter failure. Perhaps, after you and your enablers are out of power, we will be able to regain what we so carelessly and foolishly gave away. Or at least, the optimist in me hopes we may redeem our collective soul. That said, I have no idea how I was even able to hear the faint whispers of my hope over the cries of this nation's victims. Their blood is on our hands: Yours for ordering their suffering, and ours for allowing it to happen. May God forgive us all.

In closing, I quote Leo Rosten: "I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong." It is long, long past time for this nation to be strong, or risk losing what very little honor we have left.

The song is "Anarchy" by Skazi, an Israeli soft psytrance electro-punk duo. Enjoy.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nevada sex offender laws challenged:

I read this article about Nevada's new sex offender laws. This law would allow the state to post the names, home and work addresses, photos, and vehicle descriptions of those convicted of a sex offense since 1956. Naturally, this is being challenged by those who believe our Constitution should be used as something other than toilet paper upon which we wipe our collective asses. The easiest, and most immediate, challenge to this law would be on the basis of Article I, Section 8. To wit: "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

If that's not enough for you, how about good old Amendment VIII: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." I would call it cruel and unusual punishment to even the worst offenders (who should be in prison anyway and therefore outside the purview of this law). Even more outrageously, though, it unfairly punishes those who are of little to no threat to the public at large, such as those guilty of public nudity.

What I find particularly alarming is that it unjustly removes the right of the judiciary to oversee the administration of justice and places it in the hands of common, petty thugs whose main interest lies with keeping their jobs through gross sycophancy. To the tin pot dictators in the Nevada state legislature, I demand of you: Tell me an ugly truth. I'm a man. I can handle it. I know life is, at times, unfair, and I know that bad things happen to good people. If you are unwilling to tell me an ugly truth, I will, instead, perform that service for you. For those who are a genuine risk to society, punish them, and punish them harshly, ESPECIALLY the abusers of children. You will find no greater advocate for intelligent measures toward that end than me. However, excessively draconian measures such as your law are counterproductive and actually endanger society by driving offenders underground, where they cannot be tracked. Excessively draconian measures unjustly punish those who got drunk and got naked in public every bit as harshly as those who raped children, and THAT'S FUCKING WRONG! It's called the "Justice System", not the "Vengeance System." A lifetime of punishment should not be the penalty for a case of poor judgment while intoxicated that harmed no one.

Furthermore, to the legislature of the state of Nevada (and Ohio who has a similarly over-broad statute), your responsibility, the selfsame responsibility you so utterly abdicated when you drafted your respective states' bills, is to the course of justice and to the well-being of the people of your states. You still have time to correct an error that will be unforgivable the second an innocent person is harmed by your Cromwellian zealotry. Though, given the passage of these laws, I am considerably less than confident you lack the wisdom to do so, it is ultimately the morally right thing to do, and the absolute best way to protect children. Failing that, it is my deepest hope that the courts do unto you what you would do unto others, regardless of the threat they pose to society.


Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm feeling lazy, but I want to make a point:

Given that I am doomed to fail on the second given the first, I can at least share someone else's point. Enjoy the next two videos. The first will have you laughing and thinking, and the second will bore you into a coma but has a good point. Frankly, on the second one, I didn't quite make it two minutes, but I got the gist of it, I would hope. Enjoy.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Soul-crushing ennui, and unmitigated contempt:

Have you ever experienced a wave of ennui so deep that your thought processes seemed to slow to an unbearable crawl? Not sorrow or depression, just a bit of malaise that lasted a day or more? Perhaps it will sound a bit emo of me (okay, not "perhaps", more like "definitely"), but I did recently, and I found a cure. When I was younger, I listened to Nine Inch Nails because it reflected my anger. Now, I find it a comfort, and I was okay again, for a while. It just tends to happen this time of the year and around the holidays, loosely grouped around the solstices.

Once I got out of that funk, I remembered my anger at Phil Gramm's recent comments. Frankly, in a different context, I could easily have agreed with Senator Gramm's assertion that America is a nation of whiners, in the right context. With my life experiences, I've seen a good bit of it, and I've even, to my shame, engaged in it from time to time. However, in the context of ballooning food and fuel costs, the weakening dollar, one million foreclosures in the last six months alone, the fall of major financial institutions, and other forms of economic instability, his comments were nothing less than monstrous and evil. Furthermore, I spoke with one true-believing Republican who agreed with him and went on this barely-comprehensible rant about how even the homeless here have it better than the average person in Africa. The person in question had not exactly missed many meals, and anyway, it completely misses the point. Food banks are running out of supplies, desperately in need of food and volunteers, and other forms of assistance usually available during times of trouble are being stretched beyond their capacity. These are very real concerns, these are deeply hurting people, and these are not just "whining." His comments and even his later "clarification" are a slap in the face of those who are suffering and an insult to the intelligence of the rest of us. What a fucking used tampon that "man" is.

This goes to a deeper point, one that I'm sure I've made in the past. At this point, the Republican Party, or more aptly their national leadership, has become something I cannot support in good conscience. Some individual Republicans may get my vote in lower level races, based on their ability, positions, and the nature of the job they seek, but the national party has become something alien, frightening, and anathema to this nation's highest ideals. Xenophobia and bigotry are NOT American values, though an alarming number of prominent Republicans are trying to make it so. Frankly, Obi-Wan Kenobi had a higher opinion of the clientele of the Mos Eisley Cantina than I have of the modern Republican Party leadership. Nowadays, Bob Dole and the late Barry Goldwater would be considered liberal Republicans, and I find that more than a bit disturbing.

I don't know if I've posted this song before, but since it's such a good song by such a brilliant artist, I don't mind doing it again. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Murder not in my name.

I have been reflecting on the SCOTUS's recent decision to overturn the death penalty in the case of child rapists. Naturally, that also led me to reflect on the changes in my opinion on capital punishment in general, but I will get to that later.

Although I am not a parent, I find the abuse and rape of children, especially those under 12, a crime whose horror has few parallels. I wish nothing more than for the perpetrators of those crimes to be punished to the full extent of the law, and for the full extent of the law to be harsh indeed. That said, if the goal is getting child rapists off the streets, the Supreme Court absolutely made the right call in overturning capital punishment in the Louisiana law, extending to the other five states that have similar laws. Most victims of child rape, especially under the age of 12, know their rapists, and as cited by Justice Kennedy, may be far less likely to report the crime if they know their abuser may be put to death for the crime. As an example, one of those whose appeal was upheld had raped his step-daughter.

If the goal is to protect children, again, the Supreme Court made the absolutely correct call. If a child rapist knows he or she may be sentenced to death for their crime, what exactly do they have to lose if they go one step further and murder that child? While the pain a rape victim experiences lasts for the rest of their lives and may never fully heal, the important thing is that they're still alive. They do have that hope that is snuffed out forever when someone is murdered. As a side-note, it has been 44 years since the last person was executed for a crime that did not result in a fatality, and on the basis of those 44 years of case law and American jurisprudence, again, the Supreme Court made the absolutely correct call.

The only possible justification for the Louisiana law is simple revenge, and when revenge is measured against the safety of children and the incarceration of those who prey on them, revenge is simply a pathetic excuse. I would rather see each and every one of those fucking rat-bastard pieces of shit wake up every morning knowing there is no hope and no escape, and that they have nothing more than fear and pain to anticipate every morning.

I have spent plenty of time on the Louisiana case in particular. Now I shall spend some time on the name of this post. Murder not in my name. I say this because, whenever the state executes someone, in essence, they are committing murder in your name, in my name, in the name of your neighbors and friends and family and in the name of all we hold dear. The "state" isn't the governor, or the state legislators, or the President, or any of the various and sundry government officials. At least, it's not just them. The "state" is us, "We the People."

In Dallas alone, 13 people have been exonerated, cleared of crimes they never committed, in the last few years alone. While none of these were capital cases, the implication is horrifying. We've seen literally hundreds of cases over the years where people have had decades of their lives stolen from them, be it through malice or human error. While they have lost time they can never get back, they are still alive to enjoy their families and friends and to reclaim, in some small portion, their lives. We've seen still other cases where those who WERE on death row were exonerated and freed, sometimes decades later. How many innocent men have been murdered by our government in this flawed quest for "justice"? What if one of those innocent people were your aunt or uncle, your brother or sister, your mother or father? What if you were that innocent person, murdered in our name to appease the masses? This is a thought that haunts me.

I voted for Dole in 1996, and for Bush in 2000 and 2004, the latter of which has me grabbing for my antacids every time I think about it. I was once very conservative, but when I was a young adult, I asked someone why they were a conservative, and she answered, "Because I love freedom." Because I love freedom. That has stayed with me in the intervening years, and it is ultimately why I am no longer very conservative at all. Perhaps the case that has crystallized my opposition to capital punishment the most was not a capital case at all. It involved 3 lacrosse players at Duke. I have talked at length about it on this blog, so I won't belabor the point. However, if three demonstrably innocent people with access to some of the best legal minds in the country can almost be sent away for 20+ years for a crime that never happened, what of the poor? What of the average person? That may have been a case of an alleged rape, but it got me thinking: Exactly how many innocent people are in prison right now? How many innocent people have been murdered by the state? It's barbaric, it's wrong, and it's bullshit.

For those guilty of the most heinous crimes, take away their hope. Take away their freedom. Take away everything they've ever loved or cherished. Let their suffering be as great as their victims' and the families of their victims. If we thirst for vengeance, if we thirst for retribution, this is ultimately the harshest punishment we can mete out. After all, a person can only die once.

Enjoy the music.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I saw on Media Matters that E.D. Hill of Faux News referred to the knuckle tap between Senator and Mrs. Obama as a "terrorist fist jab". Granted, she said that as a question, but what the everlasting FUCK was that crazy, self-righteous cunt trying to get at? Fuck me! Has that stupid bitch never seen a Spike Lee movie or watched a single sporting event in the last several years? Jesus FUCKING Christ! What's that dipshit's brain damage? I can just imagine her next commentary: "What does Obama REALLY mean when he gives a speech? We consulted a linguistics "expert", and he discovered that, if you listen to his speeches backwards at half speed, it sounds like he's exhorting people to worship Satan and engage in child sacrifice. But he might've just meant that he supported our farmers, and I'm sure that they were happy that he "represented" them." On second thought, perhaps I shouldn't've said that. After all, she might miss the blistering sarcasm of that comment.

If Fox News is to regain what little credibility they have as a news agency, they must terminate her employment. I don't say this lightly. Especially with the economy being the way it is, I don't want to see anyone lose their jobs unnecessarily. However, some statements are so heinous that they deserve nothing less than the individual responsible joining the 5.5% of the American workforce in the unemployment lines. Goddamn it! I actually feel sorry for Brian Kilmeade. Granted, he's a partisan hack, but he's nowhere near as bad as E.D. Hill and Steve Doocy. Whenever he's on, you can almost hear him thinking, "I have to work with THESE assholes?" Fuck me hard!

I know this video is a rerun, and it definitely has offensive elements, but I think it bears reposting. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Lone Star State: What's Wrong With America

I have refrained from commenting on the raid of the FLDS compound, despite serious qualms about Fourth Amendment issues regarding the seizure of 450 (or does anyone know the true number?) children. I have refrained because I did not wish to raise hell without cause and serious contemplation, and without more facts. I write now because I finally have enough to form and express an informed opinion.

Furthermore, as a Mormon, I find myself in very strong disagreement with some fundamentals of the FLDS belief system. I do not approve of a number of their beliefs, and few were as happy as I when Warren Jeffs, their leader, was rendered a guest of the state, hopefully for the rest of his natural life. My extreme distaste for their leader aside, I write today on a matter of principle, and what are we if we do not have our principles, those lines we simply do not cross and cannot tolerate the breach of?

As stated in a ruling by a Texas appellate court panel, it turns out my deep concerns had a basis in fact. In my view, either through woefully insufficient or completely absent judicial oversight, the state of Texas is guilty of the abuse of these 400+ children, or at the very least, complicit in said abuse. In this case, the abuse has taken the form of forcibly removing children from their homes and placing them into foster care without just cause, and alienating them from their parents, friends, and family, all on the word of someone suspected to have actually been in Colorado, not Texas. Did the "good" people of El Dorado, Texas' "finest" lack the wit to recognize a 303, 719, 720, or 970 area code? For Christ's sake! Police had Caller ID before it became available for public consumption, and they allegedly couldn't recognize that those four area codes were not from within Texas, couldn't even be bothered to go to Yahoo or Google or a number of other resources in case they were confused or didn't have a phone book with its area code map handy?

I remember earlier on in this coverage, I saw an official with Texas' "child protection" services refer to the forcible removal of children as the "death penalty" of family court. Let's take him at his word. By extension, then, it could be argued that the state of Texas showed all the subtlety and consideration of jack-booted thugs rounding up a couple of thousand people and putting them before a figurative "firing squad", only the "bullets" with which these people were peppered was the shattering of their family units, and unlike an execution, this pain lingers on.

Again, I disagree deeply and fundamentally with the FLDS. Again, I'm VERY happy their leader is a guest of the state and will probably be so for the rest of his natural life, because of his abuse of children and his complicity in the same. However, the very fact that the government assumed that type of power based on the flimsiest of evidence is something we should all find terrifying.

I was going to do something with the Texas flag, but apparently, I have a lot of stuff to learn about GIMP before I will be able to use it effectively. I suppose that'll be part of the fun. Just know that it'll be unexpectedly offensive when I finish with it.

Enjoy the show.

Friday, May 09, 2008

See my shiny new button?

As you may have noticed, I added a little something to my website during my sabbatical. While I could give a bunch of excuses about being tired, or not having much to say, or having a lot of thinking to do, the simple truth is that I just got out of the habit of posting. Perhaps it was good for me. Perhaps not, but regardless, it happened, and I think it was necessary.

I did some deep soul searching, and I came to a conclusion about the remaining two (it was three at the time, but no more) remaining candidates: I'm not going to like any of them from an economic policy perspective. That's a given, and since that's the case, what is the issue I value the most after that? That answer was very simple: Civil liberties, and on that score, there was simply no contest. Senator Obama respects the rule of law and the rights of victims while also understanding that the rights of the accused MUST be respected and protected for our republic to adhere to its highest ideals. At the very least, we can trust him to not ignore the first eight Amendments to the Constitution of the United States when it's convenient, and we can trust him to respect the checks and balances afforded by our system. Given all that, I can and do support him with a song in my heart. I won't agree with him on every issue, and in fact, I'll strongly DISAGREE with him on a number of issues. However, he has earned my respect, and my vote in November. He has slain the Clinton Dragon(lady), and he is now returning to his kingdom with fanfare and banners to a hero's welcome.

For tonight's musical number, this link is in honor of Senator Hillary Clinton, or more to the point, to her people to perhaps give her a hint. Enjoy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thoughts on vegetarianism and vegans:

I've done a bit of reading about vegetarianism and veganism lately, and I must admit that I'm more than a bit curious about it. I have no interest in the ethical concerns regarding the farming of edible fauna. The way I see it, we're built to be omnivorous as evidenced in a number of ways. If I were interested in the ethics of cattle farming, I would instead be more inclined towards entomophagy than any of the various flavors of vegetarianism. No, my concern is that I'm no longer in my 20s, I'm overweight by more than 30 lbs., my cholesterol (especially my LDL) is high, my triglycerides are high, and I'm developing a burning desire to not die of heart disease at a young age like I've seen too many people do. At this point, if I do take the plunge, I would probably lean more towards lacto-ovo vegetarianism because of its reduced need for artificial supplements, more specifically, the issue of vitamins B12 and D, and calcium. Also, I'm concerned about Omega-3 fatty acids, and would like more information on plant sources of DHA and EPA, which I currently consume in the form of fish oil tablets. Frankly, any input would be welcome.

Also, I fell off the caffeinated beverage wagon recently in the form of two Pepsi's. In my defense, it was in response to sleep deprivation of a particularly nasty sort, and those boosts kept me functioning that day. I've been determined since then, though, and I have not gotten another Pepsi since. It could've been worse. I could've gotten a Vault soda, but that tastes like rancid piss.

As a musical special, I'm posting a video of a mash-up for the first time ever. I wish I could claim credit for creating it, but I can't. The two songs are "Loser" by Beck and "Into Dust" by Mazzy Star. Damn, I wish I could've seen Mazzy Star live.