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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.