Wednesday, May 31, 2006

So I’m reading through AlterNet’s fine website when I come across and article called “The Clownification of America”. The main gist of the article is the media is feeding us a big line of crap of keep us placated. For instance the day that Ken Lay was convicted MSNBC talked more about the American Idol finals than the conviction. I wanted to spit.

I know most people don’t want sad news. They don’t want to be confronted by the sadness and heartbreak. They need some pick-me-ups. They need some light frothy nonsense to breakup all that news about war, famine and man’s own brutality to his own kind. Just give them a big old heaping shovel full of celebrity gossip disguised as news.

Here lies my problem with this. I know it upsets people. It’s not easy to see kids suffering malnutrition. It’s not easy to hear about families being gunned down in a war. It’s not easy to read about how the environment is slowing dying. But do you know what? It’s not supposed to be. But there’s a good and wonderful reason you’re not comfortable watching the so-called bad news. It’s because you care. That’s a glorious thing.

I don’t care if it’s the suffering in the Gulf Coast after Katrina or the suffering in Indonesia or the genocide in Darfur or the plight of the nightwalkers in Uganda or the teenage girl who only brought home 600 dollars to her pimp so he hit her so hard her vision is ruined.

There is nothing bad that can come of caring. It offers you the opportunity to do that most noble of deeds, help someone in need. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, time or just letting people know the problem exists. Helping people is really the most worthwhile thing you can do.

I know there are a lot of religious zealots out there who would like you to believe that all this suffering is because of gay people and abortion. They say it’s God’s wrath. I say they’re wrong. I don’t believe God casts down suffering upon His children. But if I was to play along and say that God did cause suffering on this planet I would say he does it to test the depths of our compassion not to get back at gays or women who get abortions. But as I’ve said it makes no sense for God to punish the innocent. So these zealots need to stop pointing a finger at everything but their own hearts. (Thank You Maynard)

Getting back on course here, the media needs to make the population aware of the extent of human suffering. Not because it is pleasant to watch but because then maybe we could do something about it.

“In charity there is no excess”
Sir Francis Bacon

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I watch a lot of cable news and read an awful lot about politics, as you may have picked up on by now. But as this midterm election approaches something has struck me. The poor Democrats lack a plan. All they seem to be able to do it badmouth the GOP. While I enjoy verbally assaulting Republicans as much as the next easily irritated liberal. The Democrats need a bit more. A plan of action would be handy. So as always I am here to help. Now mind you I find most of the Democrats in Congress ineffectual power hungry sheep, double ditto for the GOP. So I will present my platform were I to run. Which I doubt will ever happen. I am really uncomfortable in a tie. I will hit issues I find most important. I will be intentionally skipping the issues that seem to come up for no good reason like gay marriage or abortion. Let’s solve the big problems first.

Terrorism: We must effectively protect Americans, bring terrorists to justice and prevent the spread of terrorism.
-Protection: We must have better port security (screening of 100% of the cargo entering this nation), airport security (including better protection on the airplane and more effective and efficient screening on baggage and passengers), and better border security. We must cooperate with foreign intelligence agencies to have the ability to track and identify known terrorist. We must also invent in training the people necessary to do this vital work and pay them generously. We can ill afford to have over worked and underpaid people doing such critical work.
-Bringing them to Justice: We can ill afford to more wars like the one in Iraq. We must take out terrorists with surgical precision. We should have our special forces thoroughly trained in counter terrorism. We must have the intelligence gathering capacity to track and anticipate their actions. Then strike them with smaller more efficient fighting forces. Also Osama Bin Laden’s capture should be a priority. We have let him go free too long.
-Prevention: We must not be seen as a rich arrogant nation. We must be seen as a force for positive change in the world. The United States is a wonderful generous nation. We should be seen by the whole world as that. Therefore we will use a part of our defense budget to supply arid climates with potable water, we will send medicines to areas ravaged with disease (especially AIDS), we will send food to areas devastated by famine and we will encourage service in organizations like Peace Corps with tax credits or college grants.

Patriot Act: The Patriot Act and all related laws should be repealed. They are simply unnecessary. We have been able to track and capture terrorists in the past without these laws. So we do not need them now.

Immigration: The United States is a nation of immigrants. We must not forget that. But unfortunately there is a great deal of controversy about immigrants, especially those from Mexico, who come here illegally. Here is my plan to solve that.
-Amnesty for all immigrants here without a criminal record.
- Fines for businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
-NAFTA will be abolished. We will then work with Mexico to revitalize its economy so the citizens of Mexico have less reason to cross the border.
-Making English our national language is both unnecessary and exclusionary and should not be allowed.

Iraq: We follow the advice of Rep. John Murtha and leave Iraq as soon as possible. We have nothing to gain there. The Iraqis must be allowed to govern themselves. We were in the middle of a civil war in Vietnam and it got us nothing but dead and broken soldiers and a divided nation. We must not repeat that mistake.

Minimum Wage: The minimum wage should be at least $9.00 an hour. $5.15 is simply not enough for people to survive on.

Health Care: Health Care is a right not a privilege. We must have national health care for all citizens. We are simply too wealthy a nation to allow people to go without adequate health care. We have too many people deciding between medicine and food and an infant mortality rate that is humiliating. We can do far better.

International Monetary Policy: The United States will pull out of the International Monetary Fund, The World Bank and World Trade Organization. These organizations serve no other purpose then to keep poor nations poor and wealthy nations wealthy.

Department of Peace: We will have a department whose sole purpose will be the avoidance of conflicts both domestic and abroad. Also it will coordinate efforts to lessen violence in our own nation. This department will follow the design of Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

Education: Portions of the Defense budget will be allotted to both improve public elementary and high schools, as well as lower tuition at public universities. As our schools go so goes our nation. We must not allow them to fail.

No Child Left Behind: The No Child Left Behind act will be abolished. As will all standardized testing in public schools, other than what is voluntary.

Energy: We will again allot money from the defense budget to get the United States to no longer have use for fossil fuels as soon as we are able. We will explore all possible renewable energy sources, especially those that pollute as little as possible.

Environment: The United States will sign the Kyoto Treaty and work to lessen the emission of “greenhouse gasses” and all other pollutants. We will not explore for oil in our precious national parks or any other land that is pristine and basically free of human intervention.

Taxes: For the United States to thrive all citizens must share in the responsibility. We must all shoulder our share of the burden. This especially includes the wealthy and corporations. There will be no trickle down economics. Everyone will be asked to pay his or her fair share. The tax scale will be graduated with the wealthy and corporations being asked to pay more than the poor simply because they are more able to do so.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sometimes when I’m doing things odd little thoughts pop into my head. I like this one a lot. So I shall share it with you constant reader.

There’s been a good deal of commotion lately over the fact that some time in the not too distant future there will be more people of Mexican descent in the United States than there are people of European descent. I say it is just karma. You see a good many of the European colonist and the United States government did an amazingly efficient job of eradicating the tribal people that were here before us. The tribes that predated Europeans by centuries were decimated with war and disease and broken treaties. What would come to be called Mexico was the same as in what would later be known as the United States. The Mayans and Aztecs were advanced cultures that were crushed under the cannons of the Conquistadores.

Now for the fun part, the descendants of the Mayans and the Aztecs are threatening to overrun the United States. You see the very same Mexicans we are hearing so much about in the news are Mayans and Aztecs by origin. So the tribes are trying to reclaim what was once theirs. Hooray for karma! I know the Mayans were more Central America and southern Mexico and the Aztecs were more central Mexico but the fact the descendants of those people who were so viciously ran off of their land are now taking it back is enough to make a guy happy. I care not if it was originally their land.

You see the United States will survive with or without white people. Our government is not color-dependant. My Mom told me the story of back in 1960 when she was a high school senior Father Hunter told them eventually America would turn brown. This was because of the fact there was more interracial dating and he thought that eventually our colors would be come more homogenized. So the good old US of A will still be there it’ll just be a little less white.

One a completely unrelated note it was revealed today that the personal information, which included names and birth dates and social security numbers, of 26.5 million veterans was stolen. How did it get stolen? Was it hackers? Was it some cloak and dagger operation? No. An employee took the data home, then his house got robbed and the thieves got the data.

You think maybe this information shouldn’t be allowed off of the premises? You think that given all the stink about identity theft that the government could do a wee bit better job protecting the personal information of these veterans. I hope that this was just a tremendous blunder. I’d like to think that the VA is just incompetent. I would hate to think that an employee would deliberately take this information. But, something doesn’t smell totally right here. I hope I’m wrong. As much as I detest war I respect the men and women who had to fight in them. If there is any group of citizens who have earned the full support and protection of the government it is our combat veterans.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I know I mention the news media an awful lot. But I got to talk about some things or my head is going to explode.

So I’m sitting there watching Tony Snow’s first day in from of the camera as Press Secretary. He never looks really comfortable. He has look of a little kid trying to keep all of his lies straight. Then he goes and drops a turd. He makes a remark about not wanting to “hug the tar baby”. Which according to tar baby can mean “A situation almost impossible to get out of, a problem virtually unsolvable”. Tar baby is also a racial slur directed at black children. Gee, Tony Snow’s stint as Press Secretary might be totally fascinating for all the wrong reasons.

So then I watch some MSNBC and they’re discussing the immigration debate. So they have on two talking heads to discuss it, just like they do for every other issue. One thinks that the President’s plan is peachy. The other thinks that the President’s plan doesn’t go far enough. Gee that’s really showing all sides of the issue. I’m amazed they left out the guy who wants to nuke Mexico. Were all the liberals out of town? What about a nun who ministers to these people who doesn’t want to be branded a criminal accomplice? I wasn’t totally shocked though. MSNBC is also home to the “Hotshots” segment on Hardball. For those for you lucky enough to have never seen it I will explain. “Hotshots” is three conservatives sitting around discussing the issues. Nothing quite like seeing the big picture is there?

I settle in to watch The Colbert Report and have a few good chuckles. It is truly a great show and very worthy of your time. There was a segment on taken from John Gibson’s show on Fox News. In a nutshell John Gibson wants white folks to make more babies. Why? Because in 25 years Mexicans will have white people outnumbered in the USA. I’m largely indifferent. I don’t care if whites are no longer the majority or plurality. But, “Mr. War on Christmas” John Gibson does. I’m not sure why white people being a minority is such a bad thing. Could it be John Gibson is a racist skid mark in the underpants of humanity? Or maybe he’s just playing to Fox News’ base of ignorant twerps. Either way it’s wrong and John Gibson should be slapped.

I must almost mention this about the last two days. MSNBC has had two breaking news stories dominate its newscasts the last two days. Yesterday it was an indictment in the Duke rape case. Today it was new footage of September 11th. Neither one was really all that newsworthy. The Duke rape case is a regional story at best. The new footage was images that I had already seen. So let’s ignore the NSA violating our constitution or the war in Iraq for things that are not news. I’m not paranoid but I swear some days they don’t want us to know or to think about what’s going on.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The media is in a sad state. It’s bad enough that they mostly suckle at the teat of corporations and are either unwilling or unable to challenge this administration. Today it just got worse. You see today a CIA agent admitted they were spying on reporters from ABC News. If they’re spying on ABC then they more than likely spying on every other news organization they can stink their teeth into. Well except for Fox, they’re such good little soldiers.

If there is one positive thing about this it is this, maybe the media will get its pecker back and start going after this administration. I’m not positive that they will but I can dream.

Let’s see a war fought on false pretenses, wiretapping without warrants, phone records collected without a warrant, troops at the Mexican border and spying on the media. Can you smell that? That’s the smell of your freedom burning. Yes friends we are on the downward spiral.

But I want to talk about the media so excuse my little departure from the subject. Let me offer some opinions about what is important currently in the news and what is gossip and distractions. As always you may disagree and you are free to.

First up is anything involving those rat bastards at the NSA. It was the NSA that oversaw the wiretapping and phone records scandals. It was the NSA head Gen. Hayden who didn’t know that the 4th Amendment had the term “probable cause” in it. It was the NSA that told the Justice Department that they lacked the necessary clearance to investigate it. So the NSA is worthy of keeping an eye on. Also remember that the NSA is to protect us from foreign threats not spy on US citizens.

Iraq is also worthy of my interest. We have troops they being killed. Their government would be a total failure if it were slightly more successful. So Iraq remains worthy of observation.

Iran is another situation worthy of monitoring. Iran was always more friendly to terrorists than Iraq. Yet we did nothing. Now Iran is pushing towards having nuclear capability. I’ve said my peace about this in the past so I won’t dwell on it. I will tell you this if you think Iraq is a quagmire Iran would be a great deal worse if we attacked them.

Let me mention something that as far as I’ve seen has gotten next to no coverage in the mainstream media. Divine Strake, which was recently postponed due to a lawsuit, will take place in the Nevada desert. They will detonate 700 tons of Ammonium Nitrate fuel oil, which is the equivalent to 593 tons of TNT. They are testing bunker busters, which are bombs designed to destroy underground targets. If you read the official line on this they are making it sound as if they are merely testing conventional weapons. There is almost no way in Hell that is what they doing. You see we have no way of delivering a 700-ton payload. This has to be a test to determine the size of nuclear warhead necessary. Iran’s nuclear sites are underground. We are testing weapons to penetrate underground targets. Do you see the connection? Divine Strake is most worthy of vigilance.

Immigration is a fascinating one. I know having secure borders is important. But wasn’t it important back on September 12th 2001? Why is it now such an issue? I know HR 4437 started all this. And a worthless pile of crap that resolution is. Let’s put all the humane people that offer comfort to those in need in jail. We are such a fine Christian nation. Anyway this issue bears watching because you just know Bush is going to screw up. He wants guest workers and the military to seal our southern border? Can’t have both. He also wants infrared cameras and drones. Oh good we can so count Mexico as another lost ally.

Forgive me but I must veer off course here for another second. Do you want to know why Mexicans are heading up here? It’s because the USA has screwed over their economy. Yes sir we sure have. Thanks to NAFTA we have flooded the Mexican market with cheap produce crippling their farmers. All those brutally low paying factory jobs we sent down to Mexico have wandered off to China. So there you have it. They’re desperate and I doubt a fence will stop them.

Also putting troops on the border is an awful idea. How long before we hear of Mexicans being gunned down in the desert or as they try and cross the Rio Grande? They military is not a police force. Do not try and use them as such. Now back to regularly scheduled programming.

The Duke rape case is a non-issue to me. It’s a local story. Let’s leave it at that. Why is it even on the national news? Is it because the suspects went to Duke? How is that more interesting if then say, a group of fishermen did it? Is it because they were on the lacrosse team? Did you even know Duke had a lacrosse team before this story broke? Could you tell me how lacrosse is played or name a lacrosse player? It’s not national news so I ignore it.

I largely ignore anything pertaining to the bird flu. Why? Do you remember SARS? How many did that kill? See where I’m going with this? You should survive the bird flu quite easily.

I posted this because I watch a lot of cable news, but about half the time I feel like it makes me less aware rather than more. So I’ve learned to be a picky bastard when I watch. I’m the same way when I read the paper or listen to the radio. You have to learn to filter. Otherwise you’ll end up like that old James Brown song, “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothin’”.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The band REM once sang, “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine”. Well it may soon be the end of the world as we know it, but I don’t feel too good.

Some days I worry. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just shut up, shut down and become a shut in addicted to reality TV. But alas I’m a sappy old school Democrat, who borders on being a Socialist really. Plus I’m a guilt-ridden practicing Catholic. Who will keep practicing until I get it right I tell you. So I worry. I’m good at it and see no real reason to squander my gifts. I’d like to think that what has me rather worried right now isn’t a big deal. I’d like to think it would all just go away. I’d like to think this is all going to work out well. I worried I have a perfectly good reason to worry.

Remember back to all the fuss over the wire-tapping without a warrant? Even though there are these little things called FISA courts that basically hand out warrants like Halloween candy. God I miss the good old days.

Now we have learned that the National Security Agency or NSA is collecting the phone records of almost all the calls made in the United States. The NSA is not alone in this act. Three of the largest telecommunication firms have allowed them to do it. AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth all allowed the NSA access to their records without so much as a single warrant. Those three companies have allowed the NSA access to some 2 trillion phone calls. This may be the largest database ever assembled. The NSA are such overachieving little Fascists.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re reading this without a care in the world. You’ve doing nothing wrong so you have nothing to fear. Let the NSA go through your phone records. It’s only the terrorists that need to worry. You see friend one of the costs of freedom is being forever vigilant against those would take that freedom away. If you really don’t see the problem with the NSA accessing your phone records then what else would be just fine? How about if they go through your bank statements or credit card records? How about if they mount cameras on every street in America to monitor your activity? How about if all cars have to be equipped with GPS devices to track where you travel?

There’s some fascinating irony in all this. Despite the fact the NSA is intruding on Americans privacy without so much as a warrant, they are themselves highly secretive. They are such a secret organization that they blocked a Justice Department investigation into the wiretapping controversy because the Justice Department lacked proper security clearance. You read that correctly. They even consider themselves above the federal government.

Something else caught my eye as I was getting ready to write this and I feel it relates to this. President Bush wants to use National Guard troops to keep out illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico. . It’s not like our National Guard isn’t over-burdened as is anyway. This despite the fact we not of a single terrorist who has ever came in from Mexico. One did come in across the Canadian border, but they’re white, so I guess that’s not a big issue

If you’ve read this blog for a while you remember I wrote quite a bit about fascism some time ago. There are two overpowering components of fascism. One is the dominance of the military. The other is the power that corporations possess. Let’s see, the NSA, an organization ran by a Gen. Hayden, is operating as if it is above the law. Large telemarketing corporations are willingly surrendering people’s personal information to the government without a warrant. Also let us remember the amount of money that corporations and the military have drained from the government for this so-called “war on terrorism”. Please remember that many of our soldiers lack proper body armor and regularly lack things like clean drinking water. Halliburton however is making a fortune from this horrible war. Our military budget is about 450 billion dollars. China spends the second most at about 50 billion. Our military budget is greater than the next 20 largest foreign military budgets combined.

When people find out I’m a pacifist I hear the line about how the military protects my freedom and I should appreciate them for that. I bear no malice against the military. I want all our soldiers to be safe and sound. Actually I would like the world to be safe and sound, but that’s just me. Anyway I find it odd that in spite of all the death and destruction Iraq and Afghanistan for our freedom. We are losing our freedom here every day. Every day something new is uncovered about this government that makes me more apprehensive. I hope Congress gets a backbone and puts an end to this madness, if not it’s going to be up to us. It’s the price we pay. If the government fails us we have to stand up and raise our voices and say, “Enough!” George Bush and his band of criminals have done enough damage. If Congress doesn’t put an end to this God only knows what he will do next. God only knows what he may have done in addition to the things we know. It’s truly scary.

As much as I think Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice need to go spend some time at the Guantanamo Bay hotel. I would settle for Congress ending this search of the citizen’s private records, destroying the database that contains those records and ending the wiretapping without warrant nonsense. I hope they can do this. If they cannot then we will have to. If we have to fight back it may get messy. If we don’t fight back then our freedoms will continue to erode. Then all that great minds like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and all our forefathers gave to us. All that so many sacrificed so much for and that so many lives were lost for will be gone. It would be a terrible tragedy to be given such a wonderful government and to lose it. I worry we may have lost too much already.

“The basis of a democratic state is liberty” Aristotle

"We hold in our hands, the most precious gift of all: Freedom. The freedom to express our art. Our love. The freedom to be who we want to be. We are not going to give that freedom away and no one shall take it from us!" Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, May 11, 2006

If the current trends hold out until November then the Republicans will take a colossal beating in the midterm elections. I know a lot can change in 6 months but the Republicans have been sinking steadily over the last year or so. The GOP is weighted down by indictments and convictions and scandals that make the Nixon years look downright rosy.

Yes, I think at this point when November rolls around the Republicans will be the minority party in at least the House and maybe, though it’s not as certain, the Senate.

This however has little to do with the superiority or inferiority of either party. It just always seems after a while in power either party is like to crumble under the weight of its incompetence. I’ll grant you the Republicans right now look to be filthier than the Sopranos. That being said all parties seem to falter.

I really doubt no matter what is said by the pundits and polemics that the USA has a real political identity. As long as jobs are good, goods are cheap and the trains are running on time most Americans are placated. We’re a simple people. Now, I know there are diehards on both sides. I also know there’s an ungodly amount of one-issue voters out there as well. But I also a whole lot of people who do not vote a straight party line. I know I don’t. A lot of people vote for the lesser of two evils as well. It’s nice to see people aren’t cynical.

Over time neither party can seem to hold onto power. Whether it’s the economy going south or some scandal parties seem to lose favor. Maybe Americans are a moody lot that can’t hold a commitment. That would explain the divorce rate.

But as always I’m here to help. So I’ve devised an oath for the Senators and Representatives and even the President to take. I hate to see those crazy kids suffer and all. I hope it helps.

“ I [insert name here] do solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. I will even uphold the Constitution of the United States of America when it does not suit my own political agenda. I also solemnly swear not to fuck up. By fucking up I mean to include, but not totally restricted to, the following: taking bribes, sucking up to lobbyists, favoring the interests of the wealthy over the interests of the majority of Americans, taking loud and saying nothing, using fear to control people and invoking the name of Jesus Christ every other syllable. I also solemnly swear to not have any manner of sexual contact be it oral, genital, anal, manual, cyber or phone with the following: interns, assistants, reporters, hookers, teenagers, bosses, superiors and anybody with the last name Hilton. Also the aforementioned sex partners will never be found dead anywhere under suspicious circumstances, especially in the trunk of my vehicle. I solemnly swear to hire a really bright five years old to run all my ideas past. If the ideas don’t make sense to him or her then I promise to revise them until they do. I solemnly swear to not to speak in platitudes or just read off of my party’s talking points. I solemnly swear to pause and reflect before all action and speaking. I solemnly swear to defy my party if I think it will help the nation. I solemnly swear to never try and be funny or dance if it doesn’t come naturally. I solemnly swear to keep my drug, alcohol and pharmaceutical intake to a minimum. I solemnly swear to always have transparency and to never hide information essential to the citizen’s well being. Above all I solemnly swear to be honest. So help me God.”

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Some days I hate being right. If you read my little rant yesterday I complained about how similar the Republicans and the Democrats are. Well today it was proven. I’m not merely a paranoid delusional blogger. I have proof. What proof do I have? Hillary Clinton is having a fundraiser. Rupert Murdoch is throwing that fundraiser.


For those of you who aren’t up on who’s who in politics I will do my best to explain.

Hillary Clinton in the wife of former President Bill Clinton and currently the Junior Senator from New York. She is considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008. She is also considered by some to be the poster child for liberals.

Rupert Murdoch is a media tycoon. He owns, among other things, FOX News. Murdoch has long been known for using his media empire in support of conservative causes and ideas.

So how exactly does the guy who owns FOX News decide to throw a fundraiser for the Queen of the Democrats? I mean it is for her re-election campaign for the US Senate and not for her Presidential campaign, but still.

I thought it was awfully creepy when Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush started acting all chummy. I almost gasped when on 60 Minutes Bill Clinton said that he thought George W. Bush’s idea of campaigning, as a “compassionate conservative” was brilliant. Of course Michael Moore did say once that Bill Clinton was one of our best Republican Presidents ever. I doubt he wanted to be so correct.

Also somewhat puzzling is the seemingly warm and fuzzy relationship between Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City. Bloomberg is another staunch Republican who has warmed up to Clinton.

I take some comfort in this; it is over two years until we elect another President. I don’t care what all the pundits say now, two years is an awful long time. There’s a lot that can change in two years. Because the pundits are handing the nomination to Clinton almost ensures one thing; she will not get it. At least that’s the hope I’m clinging to.

I’ve never been a Clinton fan. Neither Bill nor Hillary impresses me as anything more than people who love the idea of being in office. They seem to be more politicians than people concerned with the real well being of the nation. Sure Bill left office with a budget surplus. He also signed NAFTA. NAFTA has crippled Mexico and opened the door for other bad free trade agreements like CAFTA and FTAA. Hillary supports making flag burning illegal and is pro-Iraq War and voted for the Patriot Act and all of its renewals. I’m not a big Clinton fan.

Mark Twain used to say that we would always elect the wrong people because only people that want the nomination run for office. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe we need to draft someone. Quite frankly I don’t think it would make government any worse that it is right now if some outsider shook up the system.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama!

No I’m not from Alabama. I have no intentions of moving to Alabama. But I must say I do have one reason for wanting to live there. I want to vote for Loretta Nall for governor.

If you’re not familiar with Loretta Nall’s campaign allow me to fill in some blanks. Ms. Nall is a Libertarian. Ms. Nall sees little separation between the Democrats and the Republicans. Ms. Nall is for legalizing marijuana. Ms. Nall is opposed to the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. Ms. Nall is for ending the “War on Drugs”. Ms. Nall is for prison reform. Ms. Nall is for ballot reform to allow third party candidates easier access to state ballots. Ms. Nall wants to naturalize all the illegal immigrants so they can become productive citizens. Ms. Nall rocks my freakin’ socks.

Unfortunately Ms. Nall has not received national media attention because of her fascinating platform. She has received national media attention because if you donate to her campaign you can watch a Flash animation of her strip. You see Ms. Nall is a fairly attractive woman who is said to have large breasts and does not wear panties. I can confirm neither, but she denies neither so I’ll just believe her. I must say I like the idea of a candidate with a sense of humor. Of course if she got naked for real she’d probably win the election in a landslide, but I digress.

Anyway let me comment on some of the planks of her platform that I particularly agree with. Though I must admit I could very little to disagree with her.

There is little if any separation between the Democrats and the Republicans. Let’s take the issue of immigration. The Republicans will say, “Let’s round up all the illegals and ship ‘em back to Mexico. Then we’ll build a wall with a moat in front of it. And we’ll fill that moat worth alligators. Yeah! I like alligators.” The Democrats will counter with, “Let’s ship all the illegals back to Mexico. Then we can build a big electric fence.” Wow! There’s some separation there. We need some diversity in our political structure. We need some outsiders to come in and shake this system up. Let’s own up to the fact that the same few dozen corporations own most politicians. We need some fresh faces and new blood.

She has the right idea on immigration as well. We should make the people that have been here for long periods of time citizens. The vast majority of these immigrants are hard working decent people. So I say let them into this country and let them pay taxes and not have to live in fear of being deported. The whole fence along our border idea with Mexico is asinine as well. Entering this country and crossing the rivers and deserts or being stuffed in the back of a semi trailer is already a life or death proposition. You think a fence will stop them?

Let me state I have never smoked marijuana. I hate the smell and high people are annoying. That being said I think marijuana should be legal. I adhere to the Harm Principle quite emphatically when it comes to laws. For those of you know familiar with the Harm Principle allow me to explain. In John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty he outlined what he called the Harm Principle. It can summarized in this sentence, “That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” See isn’t that simple? I couldn’t care less if someone lies around the house all day smoking a lobotomy for himself. If all he’s hurting is himself it’s not the government’s business to intrude. If his family decides he needs tough love or rehab, so be it. It’s a family matter anyway. The government should keep it’s nose elsewhere.

Loretta Nall also makes a good point that we preach to kids how they should stay off drugs but then as soon as they act up we ship them off to the pharmacy. Does the word hypocrisy mean anything anymore? When I was a substitute teacher I noticed it seemed as if about a quarter of the kids were on something their doctor ordered them to take. I live in fear we’ve cured the next Picasso or Da Vinci with all this medication to get these poor kids in a mood their teachers and principals and parents approve of.

I wish there were a bunch more candidates like Loretta Nall. I get bored with all the “cookie cutter” candidates I must endure. I would love to see more honest opinions in our candidates. I would love to see less catering to what might get you elected and more devotion to being honest.

Vote for Nall Y’all indeed.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

If you have turned on your television lately I’m sure you know about United 93. United 93 details the September 11th flight that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. While the families of those passengers who lost their lives on that flight seem firmly behind, I doubt I will ever see it. I might be more interested in the events of September 11th 2001 weren’t so fresh in my mind.

I was sitting at my job when they came across the radio and announced that a plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. There was much speculation about whether we were being attacked or if was an accident. When the second plane struck the other tower all talk of it being an accident ceased.

Then came word of a crash at the Pentagon and then a plane down in Pennsylvania. The media were overwhelmed. A nation sat in shock. The rest of the day was watching and listening to the media scramble for facts and show those horrifying images of the planes slamming into the World Trade Center towers and eventually the footage of the towers collapsing again and again.

I remember getting home from a college class that evening and not being able to get into my own driveway. We live just two doors down from a gas station. People were panicked that soon gas would be four or five dollars a gallon. The line stretched back as far as I could see. According to police reports two people even got into fights over the gasoline.

I finally got into my driveway and sat down to watch the news a bit more. I was like that cliché, a deer caught in the headlights. I didn’t finally turn away until CBS showed footage of someone falling to their death. At least that’s what Dan Rather told me it was. I stopped watching. In fact I avoided the news in general for quite a while. I skipped the benefit concerts and all the specials. I was numb to it all.

The evening of September 11th I did one thing that was in hindsight a bit out of the ordinary. I sent out e-mail to a few friends urging them to do things to help people and assist in the recovery and the healing. I soon found out I was in a vast minority. It seemed as if the rest of the nation wanted to turn the entire Middle East into a glow in the dark parking lot. Fear does feed anger rather well though. So even though I didn’t condone it, I understood.

Another reason I probably won’t see this movie is the reasons some are telling us we should. They’re saying that we can never forget the tragedy of that day and we must not forget how evil our enemies are. I hate to break the bad news to anyone but we’ve already forgotten our enemies. Don’t believe me? OK then, tell me where Osama Bin Laden is.

Also what purpose is there in reliving that awful day over and over? Does being reminded of all that death and destruction of that day serve any real purpose? Even before that day anyone who was familiar with foreign affairs knew that Osama Bin Laden was a threat to America. Certainly he attacked on an incredible scale. But we knew he wanted to strike in the United States. He just struck with more force then we allowed ourselves to think he could.

I have nothing against remembrances for those who lost their lives on that day either. In fact, I rather like Keith Olbermann’s idea of just rebuilding both World Trade Center towers and making one of them exactly one inch shorter for each life lost that day. It would be a fine tribute. I just have zero desire to see that day re-enacted. I’ve seen enough footage of the event. I have no need to see Hollywood’s version.

In all fairness I usually don’t go see movies that re-enact horrible historic events. I did not rush to see Schindler’s List or The Passion of the Christ or Saving Private Ryan. In fact of those three I have only seen Schindler’s List and that was just because I didn’t have anything else to watch on television. I get it. War and death and Nazis are bad. I do not need it beaten into me by Hollywood or Washington.

Of course I know why some want us to go see this movie and revive those feelings from that terrible day. I’ve noticed it’s all come from the right wing to. They want everyone all back in their box of fear and give President Bush back all the political capital he squandered. President Bush has an unprecedented opportunity to make the world truly a better place. He blew it.

I’m certain anyone who is old enough to remember September 11th 2001 will never forget it. So please spare me all the reminders.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I know May 1st is the 3rd anniversary of George Bush’s now infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech. I know almost no one thinks we’ve accomplished the mission in Iraq. Don’t believe that? Go read this. See? The American people are not a totally gullible lot. Partly gullible they might be, but not totally.

Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe the mission was indeed accomplished. Maybe Bush wanted to get us bogged down in a civil war and risk bankrupting the USA. If that’s the case then he has overachieved indeed.

I know you expect me to go on some 750-word rant about how awful this war really is. But I feel like I’ve said my peace on that topic. So I shall instead discuss happier things.

Sixteen years ago the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched. It has changed the way we look at the Universe. We have seen galaxies where we expected to see very little. (The Hubble Deep Field) Back in 1996 astronomers took an extremely long exposure in an area near Ursa Major. They had wanted to see what inhabited this otherwise empty looking tract of sky. They were hoping for maybe primordial galaxies. What they saw instead were over 1,500 galaxies in various stages of evolution. It was one of HST’s most spectacular moments.

The HST has also helped us date the Universe with greater precision. It’s about 13.7 billion years old, if you’re curious. It gave us a front row to Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9’s collision with Jupiter. It gave us a truly spectacular view of M16, the Eagle Nebula, showing us newborn stars.

The Hubble Space Telescope has truly been a revolutionary instrument. I hope it can go on for years in the future. Though there has been sporadic talk to abandoning it. That would be a crime. Why would we want to abandon an instrument that makes us more enlightened as to our place in the cosmos? It makes no sense. Then again, neither does most of government.

I love to write about stuff like this. Astronomy is one of my tethers to sanity in an increasingly insane world. If standing under the infinite dome of the sky doesn’t give you religion I don’t know that will. In this world of accomplished missions where very little makes sense, the symmetry and beauty of the sky makes perfect sense.

I mean astronomy isn’t the only thing that I lean on. Music is another. I mean I’m practically giddy that Pearl Jam and Tool are both releasing CDs on May 2nd. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

But the sanctuary I fine under the night sky is quite hard to beat. In fact I recommend it to everyone. Just take yourself, you can take friends if you want, out to somewhere free of the glow of streetlights and find a comfortable place to sit. You won’t need books or telescopes or anything other than your eyes. Then look skyward and drink it all in. Don’t worry about what that constellation is named or where that star is. Just sit back and gaze at the sky in all its infinite glory. The ancients used to put their gods in the sky for good reason. People that don’t sit in awe of the glorious night sky make me a bit nervous. I fail to see how any right-minded individual wouldn’t be amazed by the most spectacular sight in all creation. I somewhat fear these people are a little dead on the inside.

Maybe that’s the problem; all the politicians and business executives live in cities that can’t see the stars. Maybe if they’d get out of the anxiety that is a big city and gaze at something bigger then any of us we’d live in a better place. It wouldn’t hurt to try.

“Though my soul may set in darkness,
It will rise in perfect light,
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night”

Sarah Williams