Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Benjamin.

I refer, of course, to Dr. Regina Benjamin, the woman who may and should become our nation's next Surgeon General. She is a truly remarkable woman and humanitarian who has touched the lives of many through her work in the small, poor community of Bayou la Batre, AL, and through other jobs she has held through the years, including her membership on the Board of Trustees for the American Medical Association. If you want to see her resume, you can visit her Wikipedia page. In short, the world needs far more people like her, and I would be proud to see her become this nation's next Surgeon General. I can think of no one better to shape this nation's medical policy, and with that comment, I include Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who rightfully declined his nomination. I must admit that I find it somewhat amusing that, should she be confirmed, we will have at least one high-ranking government official who knows how to work within the constraints of a budget. While President Obama had trouble pronouncing the name of the community where Dr. Benjamin has done so much good, it should be noted that even people from this area have a poor handle on where Bayou la Batre is. I had to consult Google Maps to find it, and I'm barely better off.

That was nice, mellow, a glowing report, and if I were a different blogger, I would have left it at that. Sadly, I love to raise a little bit of hell, and I'm having a fire sale on it. There are some fucking idiots out there who say that she's too large and would therefore have a negative impact on the battle against obesity. They say she's 25 pounds overweight. Big fucking deal!!! I wish I were ONLY 25 lbs. overweight. Will that make her any less of an excellent administrator? Will her size make her any less capable of understanding the plight of the uninsured and underinsured and the best ways to address their problems? For one, I know several women larger than Dr. Benjamin, but that's completely irrelevant. How did she become a large woman? Was it when she had to moonlight in emergency rooms and nursing homes just to fund her nonprofit medical clinic? Was it when she did a number of things to improve the lives of others? She's a fucking hero!!! She should be treated with respect, not condescension from those unworthy to lick her shoes.

Enjoy. I apologize in advance for the excessive cheesiness of the video.

A rebuke of the Sotomayor candidacy.

Naturally, I will go with the Ricci case, and I will preface it with an expression of my utter contempt for her colleagues who concurred with her in this decision. The laws of this land do, or should, grant and affirm the basic human right to an equality of opportunity. What it cannot and should not do is guarantee an equality of outcome. By that, I mean that I should have the same opportunity to have the same achievements as two remarkable people from my area, JaMarcus Russell and Dr. Regina Benjamin. I will write a post on the latter shortly. In this nation, I do and have had the same opportunity to achieve what they have and will do in the future. However, because I suck at anything remotely resembling a sport and I hold neither an M.D. or M.B.A. degree, both are about as likely as the Washington Generals beating the Harlem Globetrotters. My outcome is not equal to these individuals because I lack the qualifications to be an NFL quarterback or the next Surgeon General of the United States, and that is fair and just. That is what should happen in society. This is exactly what did NOT happen in Ricci vs. DeStefano, until it reached the highest court in the land.

Through his previous work, Frank Ricci had proven he was capable and qualified to be a firefighter, but at first, was denied a job based on his disability, dyslexia. He ultimately won that case through legal channels, but he also showed a deep flaw in the system in the process. Sadly, this would not be the first time he would be the victim of discrimination.

In Ricci vs. DeStefano, he was denied an equality of opportunity because of concerns unrelated to the outcome of the testing. Actual discrimination should not be an acceptable response to concerns about the perception of discrimination. Such actions fly in the face of what civil rights are all about, and as disgusted as I remain with the GOP, I am glad Senators of that party grilled the hell out of her on it. I have very little doubt the martyrs of the U.S. civil rights movement are rolling over in their graves over Sonia Sotomayor's highly questionable reasoning.

Mohandas Gandhi once famously said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." In that vein, if one wishes to see a nation, a society free of discrimination, one must not tolerate or defend discrimination. One can best address the horrible injustices of the past by not perpetuating those injustices against a new target. Changing the race of the victim and the beneficiary of racist policies is not "progress", as it is often called by those who benefit from it. It is merely the same ugly mess in more socially acceptable packaging.

The current laws against discrimination are, will continue to be, and should be enforced, and enforced equally to the protection of all. Anything more intrusive is simply indefensible and a violation of our highest principles, the belief that all men and women are created equal, with equal rights. Also, the Department of "Justice" should no longer be in the business of drawing district lines and setting the boundaries and locations of voting precincts in the South and other areas where problems may have occurred in the past. When I checked the newspaper this morning, the year was 2009, not 1965. The world has changed one hell of a lot since then. Alternately, the VRA should apply to every city, county, state, parrish, territory, or protectorate of the United States of America. I wonder how Detroit would feel about having to jump through the same hoops the South does long after such measures ceased to be necessary. It is long past time for Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to be abolished, as Section 2 has more than adequate protections and has the benefit of not being discriminatory against people because of the actions of their ancestors and those elected by their ancestors, although, for all I know, my ancestors could have easily voted AGAINST those who wrote the 1901 Constitution of the State of Alabama.

I have had the privilege of knowing several remarkable African-American individuals who have achieved great things in life, some of whom HATE the term "African-American" for reasons I understand very well. While I do not know if they have a greater capacity for learning than I do, or if they are "smarter" according to some IQ test, I am absolutely certain such metrics are worse than meaningless, because of one thing: they were willing to work harder and do so in a more intelligent manner at a younger age. Frank Ricci put out the greater effort and achieved a greater result on the promotion exam. He was wrongfully penalized, not because of his performance, but because of petty ideological reasons. That is damned wrong, and I find it horrifying that we will probably have a member of the Supreme Court of the United States of America who has shown such indifference to the basic right of equal protection under the law.

Instead of going with a video related to this post, I'm going to make myself happy and post some shit just for the hell of it. Enjoy.

Monday, July 06, 2009


Since it has now been three days since the political death of a star of the Republican Party, I find it fitting to now have a funeral. With every funeral comes one or more eulogies, of varying quality. In that vein, I will share my eulogy to Sarah Palin's career. Enjoy.

I knew Sarah Palin's career very well. Well, not at first, since she represented a tiny 3 EV state that is even more solid red than my beloved (PLEASE don't say "sweet home") Alabama. At first, I viewed her as an entertaining spectacle, and her career filled me with a great deal of amusement, none so great as when she pardoned a turkey (censored version) during last year's Thanksgiving. Then, gradually, I realized she had a serious chance to become the President of the United States, just one heartbeat behind a 72-year-old former POW, and while I remained amused by her, I that was tinged with a not insignificant amount of worry. As I saw the returns election night, that worry left, leaving a deep sense of satisfaction, relief, and joy. Still, I watched, waiting for her to inevitably put her foot in it again, and she never failed to give me a laugh and make thinking Republicans cringe. Finally, there came her bizarre feud and immaturity regarding a not very funny joke told by David Letterman, and despite Governor Sarah Palin giving an 18 minute press conference and three days to digest its contents, no one can quite figure out what the hell she was thinking, or even if she was thinking at all. Still, I'm going to miss watching her career, which is by now certainly an ex-parrot. Fare thee well, Caribou Barbie.

I will close by slightly modifying some of the lyrics to the song "Eulogy" by Tool.

"Standing above the crowd,
She had a voice that was strong and loud.
We'll miss her.
We'll miss her.

"Ranting and pointing her finger
At everything but her heart.
We'll miss her.
We'll miss her.
We're gonna miss her.
We're gonna miss her.

"No way to recall
What it was that you had said to me,
Like I care at all.

"But you were so loud.
You sure could yell.
You took a stand on every little thing
And so loud.

"She had alot to say.
She had alot of nothing to say.
She had alot to say.
She had alot of nothing to say.

"Come down.
get off your fuckin cross.
We need the fuckin space to nail the next fool martyr."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Who needs The Onion?

Once again, I would like to express my condolences to the supporters of Sarah Palin's career. For those who loved her incoherent rambling, her absence from the Alaska governor's mansion will mar an otherwise bleak existence. Fortunately, we will still have the memories, and I'd wager, a Fox News show where she can talk about moose, lipstick, and hockey moms to her heart's content with the occasional potshot at David Letterman just for spice. Or will she be in a courtroom near you? Apparently, Sarah Palin felt that she was a lame duck one day shy of the end of her 31st month in office in a position where she was not term-limited. Here in the Lower 48, we have a saying, "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya." Now go put some lipstick on a pitbull and be for and against the Bridge to Nowhere.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The death of an American legend...

Namaste. In the last few weeks, we have lost several truly great Americans, people who have touched our lives and our hearts: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays, just to name a few. Each one of those was a devastating blow, made even moreso by the proximity of those deaths. However, I write today to mention, in mourning, the death of a true American legend, an icon the likes of which we rarely see. I refer, of course, to the train wreck that was Sarah Palin's career and the death of her relevance. While Governor of Alaska and candidate for Vice-President of the United States, her barely coherent rambling made us all laugh and provided ample fodder for late-night television comedians, such as David Letterman. Her various interviews never failed to elicit a heartfelt "What the FUCK?!" from those she would have as supporters. Now, with Alaska's government in ruins, Sarah Palin has finally taken her career off of life support, and with it, her relevance. It is in loving memory of her career that I share this video. Farewell, Caribou Princess. May your unwed teenage mother of a daughter find her Prince Charming, or at least, someone not as stupid as you and your husband.

And as an additional memorial to a once-promising career, enjoy.

In closing, a requiem for Sarah Palin's dream:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A reluctant defense of Michael Savage

Before I start, I must admit that I do agree with Michael Savage about one thing: His real last name is bad enough to warrant the use of such a cheesy pseudonym. However, I do find it more than a bit fitting that such an extremist jerk would have the last name "Weiner". And though I would protest most of his views with my dying breath, I wish him the best of luck in his libel suit against UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. He simply is not dangerous enough to warrant that level of sanction. As abhorrent and repugnant as he and his views are, he has never incited, planned, or committed any crimes. None have died or been harmed by or as a result of his words, beyond offended sensibilities, and that is insufficient cause to levy this type of sanction in a free society. I would go so far as to say the same about those Westboro Baptist freaks, though the case for banning them is stronger in that instance. Neither pose any actual danger to the UK, and if they do, the UK is lost anyway, without their input. Though, in a sense, I fear the United Kingdom have lost already, by sacrificing too many of their critical freedoms in the name of "security."

As virulent and nasty as Michael Savage is, he has never called for assassinations, murders, or other crimes, unlike Pat Robertson who is not on their blacklist. Unlike Al Sharpton, his words have not sparked riots that have left businesses in ruins and people dead. Unlike Fred Phelps and his merry band of freaks, he has never picketed, nor has he ever encouraged others to picket, funerals of heroes to further his malign agenda. He is a nasty, vile, and hate-filled individual, and he fills me with a deep loathing. However, given his overall history compared to the others on the UK blacklist, and given the UK's very selective enforcement of that statute, the UK is undeniably wrong in that instance. A free society can survive a person such as Michael Savage far better than it can survive such extreme intrusions and abridgments of free speech. I wish Mr. Weiner the best of luck in his libel suit against Home Secretary Smith, and given the UK's libel laws, I think he has a far better shot at it than he would here.

This song is dedicated to Mr. Weiner himself. I think he would LOVE this artist. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cruel? Debatable. Unusual? Certainly.

And apart from my opposition to all forms of capital punishment, I have no problem with such an unusual sentence. I am, of course, referring to Lam Luong, who tossed four children, the oldest of whom was 3 years old, off the Dauphin Island Bridge. As I predicted, Circuit Judge Charles Graddick upheld the jury's recommendation of death for Lam Luong. While I feel it is wrong for the state to take the life of one in their custody, in this case, Mr. Luong may actually welcome it when his time comes. I say this, possibly in part, due to a highly unusual stipulation Judge Graddick added to the sentence of death. In fact, I cannot think of a case where this has been done... or where it has been more warranted. Judge Graddick ordered Mr. Luong to look at pictures of the children every day for the duration of his time as a guest of the state.

As I reflect on the case, on the news coverage at that time, on the extreme anguish on the faces of that mother and her family, I also find myself wiping away tears. I'm sorry he will have the release of death. I am sorry he will not suffer longer for what he did. I am sorry that, instead of the average of 11 years on death row for condemned prisoners, he will not be forced to see photos of his victims every day for the next five decades. But above all, I am so very sorry those children do not have the opportunity to grow up, have fun, argue and fight with each other as siblings do, and just generally be kids. I am so very sorry that their mother, instead of visiting them in their rooms and fussing at them about something insignificant but oh so important, must instead make a trip to a cemetery. I am so very sorry we will not get the opportunity to see what good those four children could have done in this world. This is what is so heartbreaking about this crime. I hope that she finds peace and some small measure of solace through her faith and her family, but she shouldn't have to. They should be alive today, but they're not.

I'm sorry. I started crying again. On that note, I will close with music befitting this post.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The ides of change and Tea Parties:

First, I would like to welcome Becky C. at Just a Girl in Short Shorts to my blog roll. I find her posts engaging and thought provoking. While I disagree with some of her politics, in many civil liberties issues, we have common ground.

Second, you may notice my Obama button is gone. That's simply because the election is over, and we need to move on with our lives. While I think Obama has done a much better job than his immediate predecessor did in his first 100 days, the bloom is off the rose, and I have some areas of concern. I'm concerned with the debt we are leaving the generations to come. That said, I also feel it reasonable to conclude things had deteriorated to a point where no good choices existed, merely varying degrees of bad. While it was not a decision on whether to attempt to save the Kobayashi Maru, the situation was, and will likely remain, quite dire.

Like anyone with a pulse and a brain, I noticed the Tea Party protests on April 15. I understand and agree with concerns about the debt we are leaving the generations to come. However, this is not a new concern for me. Currently, our national debt is roughly 70% of the GDP and growing, and much of the growth of that debt occurred under the Bush administration. Where were these Tea Partiers a year ago? Two? Six? Eight? Where was their outrage over our children being crushed with debt because of wars we should never have fought and cannot possibly win? No, instead, we saw signs saying to send Obama back to Kenya. For fuck's sake, President Obama was born in Hawaii, NOT Kenya or any other nation on another continent. Also, they're actively criticizing a President of the United States of America? Wasn't that considered "un-American" by these same arguments for birth control just a few short months ago? It is un-American to substitute bigotry and spin for the reasoned debate whose endangerment has endangered this very nation. Debate the issues. Talk in reasoned tones with those who disagree, and be willing to listen just as you hope others listen to you. This is how you learn and grow as an individual, and this is how you help restore this country. Partisanship is all well and good, as long as it is tempered with reason and an acknowledgment of the love your opponent has for this nation. I said "opponent" deliberately, for wherever you stand, those whose views contradict your own opposes you, though this does not make that person your enemy, and it is this distinction that has been lost over the years, in no small part due to Fox News (with a few notable exceptions) and other extremists on the airwaves and in our seats of government, all the way down to the smallest town hall.

To those who say to send Obama back to Kenya, I ask this: Why aren't you saying "Send McCain back to Panama?" Unlike Obama and Kenya, McCain was actually born in the Canal Zone, which is now part of Panama. Besides, he's old, and the warmth may be good for his aching joints and his addled brain. Oh, and to those who mistake President Obama for a Kenyan, I ask that you stop sucking the dicks of white supremacists. To all else, including the President of the Untied States of America (misspelling intentional), a man who has already helped restore the honor and image of this great land, I bid you good night.

As for the new logo, well, this video will show why. While I am not involved with Baylout, I am aware of their existence and respect their opinion and their actions on behalf of freedom.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

There will be hell...

I read the most interesting and disturbing article today. It was also all over CNN and other major news outlets. I refer, of course, to the Supreme Court hearing a case of a 13 year old girl being strip-searched in school. I don't care what you think about the United States' drug policy. This is a clear Fourth Amendment issue. Ask any police officer what would happen if someone were suspected of dispensing prescription ibuprofen illegally, with each pill having the strength of two over the counter ibuprofen pills. Keep in mind, this is a drug that is available over the counter under several brand names and generics in most stores. This is a drug that not only is unscheduled in the U.S., but is actually on the World Health Organization's "Essential Medicines" list. What would a police officer do, someone who is sworn to uphold the law, do in this situation? Would they strip-search random passers-by? Would they strip-search someone on the word of a witness who was quite possibly trying to get out of trouble? Would they completely ignore both common sense and the Constitution of the United States of America in attempting to get this "contraband"? Or would they politely tell the complainant to piss off?

It is my opinion that, if we are to remain a free society, if we are to keep what liberties we have left, the Supreme Court of the United States of America should uphold the decision of the entire panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and rule against that school and that Vice Principal. In a just world, Vice Principal Kerry Wilson will face grave and lasting civil and criminal consequences for the actions taken on that day. In a just world, the Safford United School district will be forced into bankruptcy and utter insolvency for this heinous breach of common sense and the civil rights of an innocent child. In a just world, there will be hell to pay, and a HELL of a lot of it.

On second thought, there will be hell, regardless of the outcome of this case. There has been and will be the hell suffered by the completely innocent victim of this horribly intrusive and unwarranted search. There will also be hell suffered by one other group of individuals. The question before the Supreme Court in this case is simply this: Will the guilty suffer, or will we as a nation suffer? Will the future generations celebrate this case as we rightly celebrate Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, KS? Or will they mourn it as we rightfully mourn Dred Scott vs. Sandford? This case will help shape the future soul of this nation. I stand with that which is just, right, and fair. I stand with the generations both present and those to come. It is my most fervent prayer that the Supreme Court chooses to do the same.

"He was Edmond Dantes, and he was my father... and my mother... my brother... my friend. He was you, and me... he was all of us."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

No great loss...

I have mentioned my conversion to an opposition against capital punishment. Still, there are some cases where I would light no candles and raise no voice of protest were their light to be extinguished by the state. One such case is Lam Luong. A little bit over a year ago, I made a post about his crime on this blog. He tossed four children, the oldest of whom was a mere three years old, off the Dauphin Island Bridge, where they plummeted to their deaths. On Thursday, after a mere 40 minutes of deliberation, a jury of those who are legally considered his peers, but in fact cannot be anything other than his betters, found him guilty on all five capital counts against him: One for each of the murders, and a fifth charge for murdering two or more people in the commission of the same crime. Given the fact that he confessed to the crime on two separate occasions, had pleaded guilty, and then when he found he would still face a jury, changed his plea to not guilty at the last minute, I'm not sure exactly what any defense attorney could do other than what they ultimately tried and failed to do: Get the jury to find him guilty of lesser charges. On Friday, March 20, 2009, that same jury recommended a sentence of death. In this case, I don't see how any judge, be they elected as in this case, or appointed, would possibly go against the recommendation of the jury, and the greatest pity of this case is the money it will cost the state in the following years for him to exhaust his appeals.

Still, given all of the horrors this man committed, given the utter and complete lack of remorse he has shown, and his wanton cruelty, I cannot bring myself to wish for the state to take his life. Part of it is my complete opposition to the death penalty, though I would be lying if I said that was all, or even most, of my reasoning in this instance. The other reason is that I find it insufficiently cruel. Place this bastard in general population, where he would not have a private cell as he would on death row. Deny him the added protections and security he would receive there. Let the inmates do as they will with him. I recalled 15 years ago when Jeffrey Dahmer was murdered while in prison after having been sentenced to 15 life terms. The man who took Jeffrey Dahmer's life was also in prison serving a life sentence. I want to see Lam Luong receive justice, in whatever form it may take, for the innocent lives he took. That said, if one of his fellow inmates got to him, I would consider it no great loss.

As a counterpoint to this discussion about death, I will close by sharing a new song by one of my new favorite recording artists, an Israeli duo known as Astral Projection.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Joy, tempered with shame

I felt great joy when I saw that President Obama has formally denounced torture and announced the closing of secret prisons and the detainee center at Guantanimo Bay. I also felt great joy when he announced an immediate halt to the military tribunals at the same. These are long-overdue changes to policies by the previous administration that critically damaged our standing domestically and abroad.

Still, that joy, that elation, was overshadowed by the very fact such Executive Orders were necessary in the first place. Earl Warren once said, "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." President Obama's recent Executive Orders was merely an official correction of the sad realization of Justice Warren's nightmare, expressed above. It is that collective shame some of President Obama's first acts have striven to expiate.

In closing, I would like to share a quote by President Herbert Hoover: "Thus the scene of the tragedy of Liberty world over must be suffering and discontent among the people. The drama moves swiftly in a torrent of words in which real purposes are disguised in portrayals of Utopia; idealism without realism; slogans, phrases and statements destructive to confidence in existing institutions; demands for violent action against slowly curable ills; unfair representation that sporadic wickedness is the system itself; searing prejudice against the former order; dismay and panic in the economic organization which feeds on its own despair. Emotions rise above reason. The man on horseback, ascending triumphantly to office on the steps of constitutional process, demands and threatens the parliament into the delegation of its sacred power. Then follows consolidation of authority through powerful propaganda in the pay of the state to transform the mentality of the people. Resentment of criticism, denunciation of all opposition, moral terrorization, all follow in sequence. The last scene is the suppression of freedom. Liberty dies of the water from her own well- free speech- poisoned by untruth. "In the Epilogue the dreams of those who saw Utopia are shattered and the people find they are marching backward toward the Middle Ages- as regimented men." It is this warning that our nation heard when we elected President Barack Obama, and it is this warning to which we have finally taken heed and awakened from our national insanity. May we never forget these sage words from our 31st President.

Enjoy this music. The title is, fittingly, "Duality" by Slipknot.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reflections and hope:

Looking on the last eight years, I cannot help feeling that former President George W. Bush was a fundamentally nice guy who, nevertheless, was completely out of his depth. I do not say this to excuse his behavior or his awful, sometimes even criminally bad, choices while in office. We have had presidents who were good men but awful presidents, such as Carter, while we have had presidents who were utter bastards but excellent presidents, such as Eisenhower and FDR. As I watched Bush's face, it seems that he would echo the parting words of yet another of the three worst presidents in U.S. history, James Buchanan, when speaking to Abraham Lincoln at the end of his term: “If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed.”

Perhaps it is easier to feel a bit magnanimous once a person who is so detested is no longer in a position to do harm. Or, perhaps, I feel in my soul these words from Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address: "We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." The political wars of the last twelve years are over, and good riddance. President Obama's inauguration yesterday should signal a new day, and a new dawn for this country. This is a nation that is forever young, and at no time in my life has this felt more true than it did at 11:00 CST yesterday.

I was watching the Today Show, I believe it was, and they were discussing the Class of 2020, a project where they will keep track of a class of students for thirteen years, culminating in their graduation from high school. One of the reporters remarked that this generation, this high school graduating Class of 2020, will not think it remarkable that a man such as President Barack Hussein Obama had the opportunity to take that most solemn oath to become President of the United States of America. They will see it as normal, as nothing worthy of note, and though I hid it well, I could not help getting a bit misty-eyed as I heard those words.

I was raised by my parents to believe that all were created equal, that the major determinants of one's fate were one's intelligence, character, and drive. I was raised to look at people as people, and judge them by their actions and words, and not their physical appearance. Negative stereotypes of the South notwithstanding, I learned this at the feet of my politically conservative Southern parents back in the late 1970s and 1980s when I was a child, as my parents learned at the feet of their politically conservative parents a generation before. As I awoke this morning, I did so with this affirmation of everything I was taught to believe in, everything generations of my family have believed in, everything my later experiences further reinforced. I did so with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for our future, though that hope is tempered with the knowledge that much work remains to be done.

I hope future generations study President Obama's first inaugural speech, as it was a perfect crystallization of the challenges that face us and a brief outline of the steps needed to resolve those issues. I must admit that having a man such as he as the President of this great land feels even better than I thought it would. I am truly humbled to live in this time.

I don't know if I've posted this video before, but I thought it was fitting.