Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Real Old School

One of the biggest problems concerned parents have about music today is the lyrics. They worry about what words are being heard by their innocent children. They demand that companies either censor artists or put warning labels on their products. So what would a concerned parent think about the following lyrics:
"Ready to kill with their jagged-edged daggers drawn/The three aggravated braggarts staggered up the lawn/And without dragging on while the story is told/Beneath the tree they found a bag filled with glorious gold."
This particular piece seems much like the violence and bling filled lyrics of any rap song. And that is exactly how Baba Brinkman sees them too. Only he didn't write these lyrics. In fact the man that wrote them has been dead for over 600 years. That is because these "lyrics" are from Geoffrey Chaucer' Canterbury Tales. And Baba Brinkman is the guy who had the bright idea to make the Canterbury Tales into a collection of hip-hop songs.
Now this guy is no joke. He is not your average, run-of-the-mill rapper. He is a native of Vancouver and "has a master's degree in medieval and Renaissance English literature from the University of Victoria." In other words, he knows his stuff. Brinkman got the idea when he started comparing the lines of Chaucer's work to modern rap. The similarities were amazing. Like much of today's rap, the Canterbury Tales contains references to "hard living, violence, sex and the secrets to true love." The transition from page to music was almost seamless.
Brinkman has been working on his albums for awhile now. He has currently put the "Pardoner's Tale," the "Miller's Tale" and the "Wife of Bath's Tale into this updated format. The name of the album is "The Rap Canterbury Tales" and features "a picture of Chaucer wearing wraparound shades on the cover. " All in all, I think this a great idea. If anything it illustrates a point about censorship in this country.
Too often we put our prejudice views ahead of our own judgement. We think that people like Young MC, Slick Rick, Ice T, 2 Live Crew, Snoop Dog and LL Cool J (all of Brinkman's influences) could not possibly be making anything close to Chaucer's work. But the truth of the matter is that they really are. In some ways, these artists are the Chaucer's of today. They are talking about the same issues and themes. The difference is the presentation. And I think that is where censorship gets it all wrong. We don't hear the message or we misinterpret it. We only want to censor those things we disagree with. And that, of course, is wrong. Find and by this album. You may start to appreciate something that is a large part of our culture now. Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Slaves No More

For anyone of African descent, this should be a red-letter day. But I seriously doubt most people would be able to tell me why this date is important in Black History. I must confess that I had no idea what happened on this day. But I do see the importance of it. I can look at the events of December 18, 1865 and know why they changed history. But what about Black youth in today's society? I don't think many of them (aside from those currently studying US history) could explain why this effects their lives even today. But the ratification of the constitutional amendment that freed the slaves is one of the most important events in the history of blacks for the United States.
It was on this date in 1865 that Secretary of State William Seward declared the thirteenth amendment ratified by 27 of the then 36 states. This date marks when the amendment was officially placed in the Constitution. Because of this amendment, black all over the United States were freed from slavery. The amendment itself was a follow-up to the Emancipation Proclamation and a way to make the abolishment of slavery permanent. But why is it still important today?
Like many of the freedoms we have been given, the right to be free from slavery is taken for granted. Many people today don't even think about slavery. When we hear about it happening in other places, it is brought to mind only briefly. But with this action, the United States put itself on a course that would lead to the eventual complete equality of blacks. It is an all-important first step. Without the 13th, other amendments, such as the Civil Rights Act, would not have been passed. This makes the 13th amendment the reason for black freedom today. But is this message lost on youth?
I believe it is. If I were to take a poll at this school, many students would have no idea what the 13th amendment is. More still would not be able to tell me if and when slavery was abolished in the United States. Some 40 years has passed since the Civil Rights Movement and the actual affects have not fully occurred. Slavery in America, at least, is gone. But ending slavery was just one step. While thinking on the 13th amendment, we must also think on what brought about the need for such an amendment and learn from that mistake.
There has been increased talk in the media about racism in America. It is clearly still a problem in some areas. Of course when celebrities are brought into the mix, the topic gets an increased spotlight. We must remember that the ignorance of racism is what brought about the need for the 13th amendment. We must learn from our mistakes. We must put our petty differences aside and move on. While I do not think that we will ever return to an era of forces servitude, I feel that the attitude that created that era still exist. It must be stamped out. We are slaves no more. We must live and work together as one equal people unseparated forever.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Harry Potter and the Dumbass from Georgia

The widely popular Harry Potter series has been controversial since the first book hit the shelves in the late 90’s. But the only place this book as seen cases on banning and courtroom drama is in the United States. It seems we have some people in this country that didn’t pay attention to that whole “Freedom of Speech” thing in the Bill of Rights. The most recent case comes from Georgia, but it looks like Harry prevailed.
Harry Potter has traveled to many parts of the world. He has learned many languages and is friends with children of all ages. On one of his travels, Harry flew into the schools of Gwinnett County, Georgia. There were many fans of his in the local school and libraries couldn’t keep Harry around long enough for everyone. But there was one person in the county that despised Harry Potter more than the Dark Lord himself. That person was Laura Mallory. In October of 2005, she asked a local committee to ban Harry from the schools because, she says, he promotes violence and witchcraft.
But Mallory didn’t know who she was dealing with. She apparently didn’t even know what country she was living in. Her first application for banning Harry was denied. She, however, continued to fight. She appealed her case before another group of officials that told her the same thing, “Harry stays. Now get lost.” According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website, “at all levels the decision has been to keep the books on the shelves.” And Harry was pleased.
The state board of education in Georgia seems to agree with the other committees as well. They ruled that Gwinnett County did nothing wrong by keeping Harry in the schools and that the decision was ultimately up to them. So again, Harry and his friends were pleased. When asked for comment on the debacle, the Dumbass from Georgia simply said, “I didn't do a good enough legal job because I didn't hire a lawyer.” She can of course take the case to the Georgia Supreme Court, but I think Harry will do just fine. It is nice to see that freedom of speech still lives in Georgia, at least on some level. Hooray for Harry!!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy Birthday Alabama

Today the great, southern state of Alabama celebrates its 187th birthday. It was on this date in 1819 that the state was admitted to the Union. The state has seen many historical events over the years. Alabama is the home for the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. And while that may seem like a low point in Alabama history, the state has moved on. Of the southern states, Alabama seems to be the most organized in the areas of education, industry, technology, commercialism, and government. It is evident to me every time I visit.

In the area of education, Alabama has the city of Tuscaloosa. Since 1831, the University of Alabama has been the pinnacle of education in the state. While other great school may be in Alabama, the University is the best by far. What is so great about Tuscaloosa is its location in the state. Situated near the middle of the state, it is the perfect place for an education hub. And not far from the seat of education in Alabama is the home of the state's industrial center, Birmingham.

Named for the English city, Birmingham is the industrial capital of the South. In many areas, there is not other place like Birmingham. The city is also near the center part of the state, which allows for easier access from all points. Founded in 1871, Birmingham became a bustling metropolis in the Reconstruction Era. It quickly grew into a major producer of iron and steel. This explains the city's unofficial mascot, the Roman god Vulcan. Far to the north, another Alabama city is associated with Roman gods for a different reason. This is the technology center of the state, Huntsville.

Founded in 1805, Huntsville is one of the oldest towns in Alabama. But through the workings of NASA, it has also become one of the most technologically advanced cities in the state. Huntsville is one of the bases of operations for NASA. Many test flights and early rocket tests were performed here. To this day, many of the workings of NASA still happen in Huntsville. This attraction to technology has made Huntsville grow by leaps and bounds. Many technology firms have offices here and NASA still holds its annual Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center.

One of the most important sites in Alabama is the city of Mobile. By far, it is the oldest city in the state, founded in 1702 as a French fort. Today, Mobile is one of the United States' key international ports. It is home to both a navy and air force base. For the state, Mobile is a great center for commercialism and transportation.

But you can't have a working state without a seat of government. And what a more fitting place than the smallest of all these places, Montgomery. Montgomery was once the home of the Alibamu Indians (where the state's name comes from). It became a frontier settlement in 1800. Montgomery's place near the center of the state makes it ideal for the seat of government. However, it was not the first capital by a long-shot. In fact, Montgomery is the last in a line of four other capitals including Huntsville and Birmingham. The location works. It is just far enough away from the other centers to keep everything organized, yet it is convenient from anywhere in the state.

Alabama is by far the most organized southern state. Like all the southern states, it has its problems with education and race relations. However, I think Alabama has made many big strides to move into the future. With all the resources contained in the state, it would not be a surprise to see Alabama as a major player in the US economy for years to come. Happy Birthday Alabama.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jack Is Back?

The plot of it all reads like the screenplay to a bad teen slasher flick. Five unsuspecting girls just trying to get by are slaughtered by an evil serial killer. The fact of the matter is that this is not fiction, it is the stone-cold truth. The setting for all this is the small, English city of Ipswich. The girls are prostitutes and they are all dead. Authorities have said that all the girls were killed in a similar fashion and in similar places. The whole thing points to a serial killer on the loose. In England an ominous warning has been put out. A warning that has not been heard in England since the Victorian Era, "All prostitutes stay off the street. It is not safe." The killer is still out there but already the comparisons are being made to a similar killer from England's past, Jack the Ripper.
The similarities are very real. When the Ripper Murders occurred, five victims were taken. All were prostitutes and all were horribly murdered in common areas. At this point, little is known about who is committing these crimes. Authorities are calling it a serial killer because of the similarities in victim choice and method of killing. Like the Ripper, this killer has also taken five victims. All of the girls were prostitutes and have been identified as Gemma Adams, 25; Tania Nicol, 19; Anneli Alderton, 24; Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29. The last two names were the latest victims found.
In an even more chilling turn in the case, Paula Clennell was interviewed by British media shortly before her disappearance. She was asked about the warning from British authorities to stay off the streets. In reply to the warning Clennell said, "I have to continue working the streets because I need the money." Now, she is dead. Her fears were realized.
One can only imagine the fear associated with knowing that such a killer is on the loose in your own backyard. The obvious similarities between these murders and those from the past cannot be denied. This bad copy-cat must be caught. It is odd that Jack the Ripper was never caught or even positively identified. Perhaps Jack is back. One popular theory about Jack the Ripper is that he was actually a vampire. OK, maybe it's not a popular theory, but still interesting. Is this killer a fan or is it Jack himself? Let us hope that more lives are not lost in the quest to find out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Spice Up Your Election With Kucinich

In 2004, a spry Democratic Congressman from Ohio threw his hat into the race for the presidency. He was one of the many that were trying to gain the Democratic nomination. He didn't get it. He was overpowered in the primaries by the likes of Howard Dean and John Kerry. The only thing he had going for him were his views. But this former-bachelor from Cleveland did not let this get him down. As the 2008 election season gets into gear, Dennis Kucinich is back. And he is ready for action.
Many thought that after his recent wedding, Kucinich would fade into the background of American politics. But the Democratic party's handling of the war in Iraq has inspired him to run again. Kucinich's major disagreement stems from Democrats approval of the $160 billion dollar spending bill for the war. Kucinich said that Democrats should have listened to voters. In an interview he said, "Democrats were swept into power on November 7 because of widespread voter discontent with the war in Iraq. Instead of heeding those concerns and responding with a strong and immediate change in policies and direction, the Democratic congressional leadership seems inclined to continue funding the perpetuation of the war." So Kucinich has been pushed to return to the spotlight.
Kucinich becomes only the second Democrat to declare his campaign for president. Poll front-runners Clinton and Obama have yet to officially announce their candidacy. And Kucinich faces some deep competition from those two individuals. If Kucinich was a long shot last time, he is even more so now. With all the fresh faces running for President, how can Kucinich possible expect to get anything done? He need only stick to his beliefs.
In 2004, Kucinich ran with many big liberal values. He said that if elected president, he would seek the creation of a national peace department and universal health care. These two things alone may be very popular with voters in 2008. The American people have already spoken, through the election, that they want change in Washington. Perhaps Dennis Kucinich is that change. If not, he will at least make things interesting for Clinton and Obama. If the two front-runners follow the pattern of Democrats in previous elections, they will both start to lean more toward Moderate as election time grows near. With Kucinich in the debates, he can keep important liberal issues on the table and probably make Clinton and Obama look stupid for not agreeing. While I am not officially endorsing Dennis Kucinich for president, I am not going to say that he will not have my support in the future. I wish him luck. He is going to need it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Annan Farewell An International Challenge

At the end of this year, the UN will lose a very dynamic member. Secretary General Kofi Annan is stepping down after ten years of service. Today, Annan gave a parting address at the Truman Library in New York. In the speech, Annan gave a challenge to the world and the new UN secretary general to continue fighting for what is right. This farewell was a fitting send off for a man that has made human rights a number one priority of the UN.
The focus of the Annan speech was on the current situation in Darfur, Sudan. Over the past months, the American media has virtually ignored this story. While it makes a good investigative piece for some reporters (Anderson Cooper, etc.) the story has failed to produce little government action. This is the point Annan makes in his speech. Anna gives a list of those that share the blame for the situation in Darfur. Among them Annan lists "those valuing abstract notions of sovereignty over human lives; those whose response of solidarity puts them on the sides of governments and not people; and those who fear commercial interests could be jeopardized." Annan says that these excuses for inaction are not enough. He states, "The truth is, none of these arguments amount even to excuses, let alone justifications, for the shameful passivity of most governments."
I believe that the American government should listen to Annan's speech. We are one of those governments whose inaction has lead to the gross violations of human rights in the Darfur region. Annan does not think it is too late. But he does say that this time of inaction needs to stop. Annan says, "We have still not summoned up the collective sense of urgency that this issue requires." And while Annan has been the biggest advocate for human rights, the UN has failed to act as it could. Holding this action back, is the UN security council. On such matters, the US is often a "stick-in-the-mud" and will not lift a finger to help. It simply doesn't fit into our foreign policy to help these people. So we watch them suffer.
Annan said that the UN must start acting as one body and not let the actions of a few dictate the general assembly's course of action. Annan says, "We must develop the responsibility to protect into a powerful international norm that is not only quoted but put into practice, whenever and wherever it is needed." And he also called for preemptive actions against future atrocities when he said, "Above all we must not wait to take action until genocide is actually happening, by which time it is often too late to do anything effective about it."
Kofi Annan is leaving the UN after ten years of dedicated service. During that time, Annan has tried to make human rights the "third pillar" of the UN. And under Annan, the UN has done more in places like Rwanda, Somalia, and Darfur than any government or nation. But the incoming secretary general must continue this type of resolve. He must take his cues from Annan and look toward peace. He must not let the UN become an instrument of war. Kofi Annan was able to bring the UN into a useful role in the 21st century. Let us hope his replacement can continue such a big legacy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Love Thy Neighbors or At Least Talk

It doesn't take a foreign studies major to tell you why there is no diplomatic relationship between the US, Syria, and Iran. Our president has clearly labeled these nations as terrorists states and has refused to work with them on a plan for Middle-East stability. Even though the much hyped Iraq Study Group says it is a great idea, the Bush White House is not budging. And why this could be is beyond me. Wouldn't it make more sense to actually work with people that live in the region to help fix the region? I guess it makes too much sense.
Yesterday, old buddies (not by choice) Bush and Blair sat down for breakfast and a chat on the Middle East. Afterwards, a press conference yielded much about Bush's opinion of the Iraq Study Group's findings. The most controversial part of the report has been that the US should include Iran and Syria in talks about how to stabilize Iraq. But Bush says it is not going to happen. Unless...
Yes, our immature child of a president has set conditions for these two nations. If they meet the conditions, then they may participate in an international discussion on something that is going on in their own backyard. For Iran Bush has the following condition: "If they would like to engage the United States, they've got to verifiably suspend their [nuclear] enrichment program." And for Syria, the condition is equally ridiculous. According to the President Syria must, "stop destabilizing Lebanon's government." These two goals are completely ridiculous. It is childish to present such a challenge to two sovereign nations who want to participate in diplomatic talks. What if the tables were turned?
That would be a big laugh. If Iran and Syria were to give us demands, the current administration would laugh in their faces. So why should we not expect them to do the same. The truth of all this is in the motives. Why would Bush place such demands on Iran and Syria knowing full well they will not comply? I am beginning to think Bush wants this war to continue. I am beginning the think that the face of evil is alive and well in the White House. The United States needs the help of all Middle Eastern nations to stabilize Iraq. We stupidly created a situation that has lead to civil war. Now we need real help to calm it down. Who better to help than nations of the same culture? No one. But don't tell that to Bush.
I am fed up with the child-like nature with which international relations is handled in this country. Let me make this statement and know that I think it to be the utter truth. Bush wants our troops to die in Iraq. He wants good men and women to sacrifice themselves in the name of nothing. He wants us to be stuck in a never ending civil war that we help start. He wants to dump all these problems on the next president. He is an evil person and he should be removed from office immediately. If he is such a good Christian as many short-sighted evangelical Americans see him, then why does he act against the teachings of his religion? Why doesn't he love his neighbors as himself? Why doesn't he at least try another solution besides war? The answer is because he is an evil black-hearted war monger with a lust for blood. If we all had the power, he would be gone. This war will never end.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

From Infamy to Arrogance

The War to End All Wars was over. The United States had lost many men and had settled down into another era of isolationism. Along with that, the nation was still under the thumb of the Great Depression. A war had begun in Europe and the US was involved in weapons and money trading only. But all of that was about to change. It came like a bolt from the blue. An attack like no other ever in history. The cost was great, with 2,403 lives lost. Sunday morning on December 7th, 1941 is now 65 years behind us. But its long term affects are still seen in our military operations and how we react to tragedy.
Pearl Harbor changed the course of US history like no event since 9-11. In fact, constant comparison to Pearl Harbor was almost immediate after 9-11. The reason is simple. Since Pearl Harbor, no single event had done more damage to the United States. So it was only natural for the thought to cross peoples' minds that this was the new Pearl Harbor. A Pearl Harbor for a new generation. And just like that generation of men 65 years ago, 9-11 set off a change of events that we are still feeling the effects of today. An unending war that is costing troops their lives.
Yes, the similarities are many. But what really sets Pearl Harbor apart from 9-11 is the reaction. After Pearl Harbor, the American people rallied together with the President in a new war effort. The economy of the entire country switched over-night from depression to war. Pearl Harbor was a "day of infamy" and is still. It was not used as a political slogan. It was not used to push the radical foreign policy of a backward President. It was not used as anything. It was "infamy." And with that thought it mind, the United States set out to fight a war that really did protect the safety of all Americans.
So how has this changed. Great tragedy, like Pearl Harbor, would have never been used in the way 9-11 has. Pearl Harbor was not a great idea for use in an ad campaign. But our government has grown to use tragedy as such. And for that reason, "infamy" has become "arrogance." September 11th should have been a new day for infamy. Instead, 9-11 was seen as some arrogant politician's new toy. An instrument of war. A reason to kill. And that is a sad state of affairs. The memory of Pearl Harbor is not done justice as the world stands today.
Pearl Harbor should always be remembered as it was. It should not be polarized, glorified, or politicized to push an agenda. It should be something all nations look back on and realize that we don't need to go there ever again. We don't need that sort of loss of life. But it is not seen as such. US troops are dying everyday in a war sparked by just such a tragedy. But instead of focusing on an end, our arrogant leaders want more and more. They are demanding that more blood be spilled in their cause. This was not the cause the soldiers of Pearl Harbor died for. And our nation needs to respect their spirits and end this administration. It has gotten to that point. If Pearl Harbor could rally us one more time, maybe this nation would change for the better. And end this senseless conflict.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Study Finds Iraq Situation Sucks

As predicted in a previous entry, the Iraq Study Group has made some very obvious findings about the war. The commission, made of Washington insiders, was put together by the President to find a new strategy in Iraq. This strategy has been called for numerous times over the past couple of years. But always the response from the administration has been, "stay the course." The Iraq Study Group has done away with all that. But still its findings lead to the same conclusions many of us already knew, the situation in Iraq sucks.
One of the most controversial parts of the groups plan is the idea of "a diplomatic offensive." This plan calls for the US to get involved with Iraq's neighbors to try and resolved this conflict. The administration has said time and again that it will not talk with Iran and Syria. Bush does not want to have anything to do with them. But the Study Group disagrees. According to their report, " if we don't talk to them, we don't see much progress being made." "You can't look at this part of the world and pick and choose which countries you're going to deal with." So the US will have to bite the bullet and get to work with these talks.
While many were hoping for a more clear timetable on troop withdrawal, the Study Group did not delivery. Instead, the group blasted the administration's philosophy of "stay the course" by announcing that, "by the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq." This comes as a relief to many families wondering if their troops will ever come home for good. And if the plan is followed, the vast majority will by 2008.
Though Bush's buddies made up the majority of this group, they were quick to point out the failures of the current administration policy. Speaking of the policy the group said, "the current approach is not working and the ability of the United States to influence events is diminishing." "Our ship of state has hit rough waters. It must now chart a new way forward." Which is what many. many people have been saying for months. It comes as no surprise because it has been obvious for awhile now that "stay the course" is not working. But our hard-headed president would not change. His arrogance has cost lives. If this commission had been established three years ago, we might not be in Iraq today.
The main focus of the report was the current state of affairs in Iraq. With the civil war situation, the study group (which did not call it a civil war) gave this warning to the administration, "The United States must not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq." "If the situation continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al Qaeda could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of operations. The global standing of the United States could be diminished. Americans could become more polarized." A statement that, again, has been made many times before.
Why has it taken this group to make the administration wake up about the war? Is it because of Rumsfeld? I doubt it. Is it because of Uncle Dick? I don't think so. What it boils down to is sheer arrogance in military command from the White House. The generals are bound by law to listen to the president. But he is not bound by law to listen to them. No one in the media can make a truthful claim to know what generals have told the White House. But I would bet it wasn't good. And I would also bet no one really listened. But now maybe things will change. I think the goal of 2008 is a good one. And I also think that it will look good with Republican voters if our lame-duck president brings the troops home before the presidential election. His party could use the help. But, as always, we will have to wait and see.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Racial Quotas are Racist

The supreme court is hearing a case today about racial quotas in school. It amounts to the age-old battle for affirmative action. And as liberal as I may be, affirmative action will never seem like a good idea to me. There are many that say programs such as these need to be in place in insure that school segregation does not occur, but I think it occurs anyway. In my experience, basing some one's attendance in school on skin color not only creates more problems than it solves, but it is also racist.
The reason the supreme court is hearing this case is because of two systems that are being questioned in Kentucky and Washington State. In both school districts, administration has put in place an affirmative action system for admitting students. In both cases, student were denied entry because certain racial quotas had already been met. Most people will automatically think that the students in both cases were black. That is not the case. The students denied entry were a mix group of white, black, and Latino backgrounds. And because of this system, they were told they could not attend school in these districts.
Affirmative action has always amazed me. For years, a group of people from all different walks for life have fought for equal rights for all people. This system of affirmative action is an affront to their cause. If someone is applying for a job, race should not be a factor. And that is were racial quotas come in. Because of affirmative action, employers and now schools must have a certain number of each "race" based on the makeup of the community. That is simply ridiculous. It shouldn't matter at all. And that goes double for a school.
My theory on schools has always been one of physical address. Wherever you live, you should have to attend the closest public school. Of course the exception being those that pay for private school. So if a community has 400 white students and 150 black students, they should all be enrolled in the same school. It is simple. No one was judged on color. The school district should simply look at your address and see if you are in their district. If you are not in their district, you should not go to school there. Common sense people.
When it comes right down to it, racial quotas are racist instruments. If a black guy is denied a job because he is black, that is racism. And the same is true for the white guy or the Latino guy. If two men apply for the same job and one is more educated and trained for the position, which one deserves the job? Easy answer, the educated one. I didn't ask to see if he was black or white. It doesn't matter.
The supreme court should realize what many logical thinkers already have. Racial quotas have got to go. They don't do anything but continue to divide this country on racial lines. And while that may be in the best interest for a small group of good-ole-boys, it is not in the best interest for America. Let people go to school where they live. Don't force schools to account for race when they already have to account for so much more.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bolton Out and Christmas Comes Early For Dems

With only 20 shopping days left till Christmas, Democrats on Capital Hill get their best gift since the November election. The infamous John Bolton has announced he will not seek any confirmation hearings to continue to be UN envoy for the United States. This is great news for all those in Congress who opposed him. It is terrible news for Bush because he is losing his personal mouth-piece in the UN. And Bush showed his anger about the topic today. But it was time for Bolton to go and Bush should learn an important lesson from this about future appointments.
John Bolton has been causing controversy since his first day as UN envoy. The major problem is seen as his "brusque style and whether he could be an effective public servant who could help bring reform to the U.N." Both of these comments are valid. Bolton seems to be short with those who would like to seek diplomacy instead of harshness. Bolton also has not done anything to change the UN except to make it appear useless in the media.
But more than that, Bolton's appointment was very controversial. In a very underhanded way, Bush appointed Bolton to the UN "temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess." As you can imagine, Democrats and Republicans alike were pretty pissed about this sort of back-alley politics. And for those reasons, it was time for Bolton to go. His temporary appointment runs out soon. In a letter to the President, Bolton wrote, "After careful consideration, I have concluded that my service in your administration should end when the current recess appoint expires." Ouch. And so Bush was pissed.
In some statements today, the anger of the president was apparent. Speaking of Democrats, Bush stated he was "deeply disappointed that a handful of United States senators prevented Ambassador Bolton from receiving the up or down vote he deserved in the Senate." That's odd considering no one really liked this guy except Bush. Even members of the president's own party were loving the fact that he was leaving. But Bush went on to say about the Opposers, "They chose to obstruct his confirmation, even though he enjoys majority support in the Senate, and even though their tactics will disrupt our diplomatic work at a sensitive and important time." "This stubborn obstructionism ill serves our country, and discourages men and women of talent from serving their nation." So I guess he really is upset. But he should learn a lesson from all of this.
John Bolton was a mouth-piece for the administration. He used his position of power in the Security Council to try and bully other countries to fall in line with US foreign policy. He is the reason the situations in Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Iraq remain as they have for the past three years. He has done nothing but parade the Bush party-line around the halls of the UN. And all the time he is being pushed by an administration that lust for war.
Congress has grown tired of Bush appointing his buddies to seats of power. Bush needs to see that a real UN ambassador would work with other countries, not intimidate them. A real UN ambassador would represent the country, not the current administration. A real UN ambassador would work for peace, not harsh sanctions that hurt the innocent. And by that definition, Bolton is not a real UN ambassador. Bush needs to think long and hard or he will have to endure the waiting game with Congress. As for Bolton, I wish him luck and a merry Christmas.

Friday, December 01, 2006

AIDS: Never Forget

December 1st has been known as World AIDS Day since 1988. But how many times since 1988 do you remember thinking about it as such? Many people have become desensitized to the fact that AIDS is still a huge problem in the world. They don't remember that this is not an isolated disease that affects only one group of people. This is a serious and completely preventable disease. And while doctors and scientists have made great advances in fighting the disease, more can be done by the common man to prevent this disease from spreading more than it already has.

The disease we call AIDS was first identified in 1983 by Dr. Luc Montagnier's team at the Pasteur Institute in France. Since then, scientists have identified AIDS as the epidemic of the 20th century that has spilled over just as destructively into the 21st. AIDS is spread by a virus known as HIV. HIV is a sexually-transmitted disease that can lead to AIDS after a long incubation period in the body. And because the disease is sexually-transmitted, it is completely preventable.

However, the number of people AIDS has infected or killed is very disturbing. According to health organizations, AIDS has lead to the death of 30 million people worldwide. And it is known that 40 million people are infected with HIV. In 2005 alone, AIDS lead to the death of 3.1 million people. Despite all efforts, a cure has yet to be found. Because of this, prevention has always been the most lauded way of keeping AIDS from spreading. The effort has lead to some good results, but more work needs to be done.

In the United States, AIDS is still seen as the "gay disease." And it is that prevailing thought that keeps prevention campaigns from working. In America, homosexuals are not the most infected group. In fact, AIDS is most often found in African-Americans and Latinos. But no matter what the infected group, we must overcome the ridiculous stereotypes and the moronic thoughts of "this doesn't matter because it doesn't affect me." We have to realize that has a species, this disease is harming us. If we care at all about human life, we must do more to prevent this disease in the US. For that reason, I advocate more education on sexually-transmitted diseases and prevention in schools. It is not morally wrong for us to teach kids how to save their own lives.

Worldwide, many countries have started successful prevention programs. Numbers of case are down somewhat. However, in Africa the disease is still a top killer of all age groups. In 2005, 570,000 children died because of AIDS. For prevention to work in Africa, I feel we need the involvement of a higher power. The Catholic Church has long held a tradition for the non use of condoms and other birth-control devices. For whatever backwards reason, the Church sees this as the prevention of God's work. I see it as the killing of God's people. It is high time the Catholic leadership change their stance on this issue. Saving life is more important that producing more. It is not morally wrong to save a life it all it takes is a latex condom.

This is a day for remembrance. AIDS is a real problem. We must do all we can to help prevent the spread of this disease anymore. It is also important to make sure that research continues toward the goal of finding a cure for the disease. If it takes another 25 or 50 years, it is worth it. If prevention can stop the spread, maybe by the time a cure is found, not many people will need it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Sobering Reminder Needs To Stand

Lafayette, California is as close small town America as it gets in California. However, this town of 24,000 has come into the media spotlight because of a controversial display. On his own private property, Jeff Heaton has placed 400 crosses and an 80 square foot sign. The sign reads, "In Memory of 2,867 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq." And Heaton is feeling the heat for this display. For some reason people in Lafayette and some city officials are pissed-off about the memorial. Their reason seem to vary between ridiculous laws and hatred of liberals in general. The memorial needs to stay in place and grow because it is a sobering reminder of the cost our country has paid for a madman's war.
Heaton's town has taken the memorial the wrong way. Apparently someone complained about it. Their problem was not with the crosses but with the sign. According to a ridiculous city ordinance, "the size of signs must be 4 square feet." I have always thought it was stupid for towns to have such ordinances. They limit a business' ability to advertise and they also limit the freedom of expression that is constantly being limited in this country. Fortunately, their are people in city government that agree. The city council is talking with attorneys to determine, "whether the sign ordinance conflicts with freedom of expression and expects to take the matter up in about a month." But the real reason for the uproar seems more sinister. The real reason has nothing to do with ordinances and more to do with differences in opinions. The real reason is a group trying to silence others based on their opinions of current events.
It is no secret that Lafayette is a mostly conservative community. And like every conservative community, their are people who disagree with the conservative viewpoint. Jeff Heaton is one of those people. He is a member of a local peace group and he was a conscientious objector during Vietnam. And it is for that reason that people are trying to silence him. Even the mayor of the town agrees. He stated, "if this had happened in San Francisco or Berkeley or Oakland this would be a dog bites man story." "When it happens in a quiet suburban community that is generally more conservative, then it's more like man bites dog." Because of Heaton's political beliefs, many feel that, "it is an affront that uses personal grief for political ends." A notion that is as ridiculous as the city sign law.
The town of Lafayette, California has clearly fallen victim to another case of minority opinion silencing. Differing opinions from the current government are unpopular in small, conservative towns. For this reason, people like Heaton are suppressed. Their efforts to make a statement are squashed. Their freedoms are taken away. As for Heaton, he says, "The crosses speak for themselves." They are a sobering reminder that this country has paid dearly for a useless war. The sons and daughters of America are fighting for nothing in a country far away. And they are dying everyday. Displays like this should be everywhere. We need to be reminded. We need to make this war as unpopular as possible. But at the same time we need to keep the troops in mind. This war is not their fault. It is the fault of idiotic leaders who will not stop with their arrogant attempts to rule the world. Freedom of speech must be upheld. It is one of the only things still good about this country.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Johnson's Folly: The Warren Commission

At this time in November of 1963 the country was reeling from the loss of a president. He was assassinated a week earlier and the people wanted to know the how and why. New President Lyndon Johnson was under a lot of pressure from all levels of government and civilian life to find some answers. The accused man from the killing had been killed himself just a few days earlier and with him when any information they could get about his involvement. Johnson did what he thought was best. He created an investigating committee to determine what really happened in the assassination of JFK. It has become one of the most controversial commissions of all time and it's inaccurate findings are still put forth as the truth today.
Using an executive order, Johnson created the Warren Commission on November 29, 1963. Its goal was to investigate the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The commission got its name from the chairman Chief Justice Earl Warren. Along with Warren, a panel of six government officials carried out the investigation. Of these only future president Gerald Ford is still alive. Also working with the commission was a future senator by the name of Arlen Specter. After a 10 month investigation, the commission published a 900 page report on September 27, 1964. The complete findings of that report are still not completely known and the parts that are have caused controversy ever since.
The findings of the Warren Commission have given us the phrases "lone gunman" and "magic bullet." Their conclusion as a group was that Lee Harvey Oswald, who never stood trial or was convicted of any crime, killed the president by shooting three shots from a sixth floor window in Dallas. And, in the government's mind, the case was closed. Many people over the years have tried to reopen the case with little success. Many have tried to prove the theories put forth by the commission with very limited success as well. Yet the government, especially Arlen Specter, take the commission's findings as rock solid proof. But with the amount of evidence to the contrary, how can the government still support it? We will not know the whole story till 2039 when the complete files are released. Maybe then this can be put behind us. And just maybe we can learn a lesson at the same time.
Government commissions of this type are common. A similar committee was constructed after the 9-11 attacks and their findings were published and regarded as goals for a change in national security. But we should not put all of our faith in these types of commissions. Especially when they are set up specifically by a sitting president. The Warren Commission contained many Washington insiders as well as a former CIA director. These men were hand-picked by Johnson and probably gave him just the results he wanted to hear. In our own time, President Bush has created the "Iraq Study Group." This committee of insiders is suppose to gather information about the war and make recommendations for change. But I have a feeling the findings will not change much in Iraq. Much like the Warren Commission, their findings will state the "party line" and the course will not change.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iraq's Civil War: Finally We Say It

civil war (noun)
1. A war between factions or regions of the same country.
2. A state of hostility or conflict between elements within an organization

The national media has took it upon themselves to do something that our own government is refusing to do. The violence in Iraq clearly fits the above definition of "civil war" and should be reported as such. It is good to see that media outlets are taking this initiative and going ahead with this. There is probably privately announced pressure on the media to stop calling the Iraq situation a civil war, but at the moment it is being ignored. A real victory for freedom of press.
According to one editor's opinion, "the utter chaos and carnage of the past week has finally convinced some to use 'civil war' without apology." And with the violence increasing everyday, there is no need to apologize for telling the truth. Last night, NBC News became the latest media outlet to call this a civil war. In an explanation given by Brian Williams on the nightly news cast NBC said, "the violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims combined with the government's inability to quell the strife fit the definition of civil war." And that is absolutely correct. These are warring factions. They were not at war before this conflict began and now they are. The finger of blame is pointed squarely are the upsetting of the region and the destruction of Iraq's once stable government before the US invasion.
But the White House doesn't think so. As of yet, the Bush administration is not changing course in their words on the Iraq situation. They are, in fact, refusing to call this a civil war. In a press conference, Tony Snow said, "What you do have is sectarian violence that seems to be less aimed at gaining full control over an area than expressing differences, and also trying to destabilize a democracy -- which is different than a civil war, where two sides are clashing for territory and supremacy." But the fact of the matter is, that Snow is flat wrong. Using the word "sectarian" at all refers to civil war. And clearly those fighting want control of something. They want control of a town or region in Iraq. They want control of the country. Snow's misguided statement shows the ignorance of the Bush White House on matters of history and this current conflict.
However it is phrased, the situation in Iraq is a terrible one. No end is in site for the people trying to live their lives in that country. Each day many wake to the sounds of explosions and death. They are living in utter chaos. The future of their very existence as a people hangs in the balance. Is it a civil war? Of course it is. What can we do about it? As far as I can see, the only thing we can do is let it run its course and hope it doesn't turn from civil war to genocide.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Leadership in Iraq: The Great Mystery

The control of the country of Iraq seems to be in flux. For a long period of time, the country was ruled by an evil dictator. But as anyone in Iraq will tell you, under that dictator there was electricity, water, food, and relative peace. Suicide bombings and death squads were not the daily norm. But all that was shattered when the United States decided that the evil dictator had to go. Now the leadership situation in Iraq is a mess of a mystery.
Iraqis have had two major elections since the fall of Saddam. The first was to elect a temporary government that would write a constitution and set-up government services again. The second was a larger election to elect a president, prime minister, and a parliament. And all of these things have done nothing to stabilize the country. The things that existed under Saddam are no longer there for most Iraqis. They were destroyed by an invading army. And since no one is quit sure who leads Iraq, nothing is being done about it.
The leadership of Iraq seems to be a war between two major players. I'm not talking about the "sects" of Islam in the country. I'm referring to the President and the Prime Minister that were both elected by the people. Now whoever had the idea to have both a president and prime minister I do not know. That person is mighty stupid. These two officials seem to have polar opposite ideas about who to talk to and who to work with about governing Iraq.
The President of Iraq is a man named Jalal Talabani. As mentioned before, he was elected by the people of Iraq. However, Talabani's meetings with the President of Iran have not set well with the American leadership. Our distrust of Iraq's neighbor has carried over into how we feel about Iraq's newly elected leaders. We do not think these talks should occur. Iran has said it wants to "take a more active role in Iraq's future." And the only reason people think this is a bad idea is because it has gotten in their heads that Iran = Terrorism. I wonder where they got that idea? Couldn't be from our "Axis of Evil" hating president. But the talks continue even if the US disagrees. I say, what right do we have to tell the elected officials of Iraq how to govern their country? If they want to have a trade relationship with their neighbors, we need to get over it. There is really nothing we can do about. But "W" is trying. He has his own Iraqi official.
The Prime Minister of Iraq is Nuri al-Maliki. He has not visited the leaders of Iran or Syria and instead runs to the nearest US official whenever they are in the region. This week, the PM is meeting with President Bush in Jordan. It is unclear what the talks with Bush are suppose to accomplish for Iraq. The United States is doing nothing but trying to stop an endless insurgency in Iraq and babysitting a civil war. If anything, these talks show that it is not clear who has control of Iraq and who is making the decisions. Something that is vitally important to a democracy is clear leadership. With this divided meeting, Iraq does not have this key element.
The United States needs to back-off the political dealings of Iraq. If they want to make friends in the region, they need to talk to their neighbors. If they want to be seen as more than a US puppet government, they need to have a clear leader. The PM is obviously not that leader. It seems to me that the President of Iraq is making more headway in the political process. As I have said before, if Iraq has to make a deal with Iran and Syria to stop the insurgency, then let that deal happen. Otherwise this war will never end.

Friday, November 17, 2006

PS3? Show Me The Wii

It is at this time of year that Americans shine over all others in the world when it comes to greed and excess. The holiday shopping season is in full swing and this year brings the release of some highly anticipated gaming hardware. This morning, the PS3 officially launched in the US. It was met with a tidal wave of stupid happenings that make me sad to be a consumer. And all the hype is really for nothing. But it seems capitalism reigns supreme here in the USA.
In my lifetime, I've waited in line for some pretty cool things. I waited in line the day after Thanksgiving for a DVD player. I waited in line for all three of the new Star Wars films and all three Lord of the Rings films. But something I never experienced was the sheer stupidity seen today with the release of the PS3. The madness was caused by Sony's screw-up. According to retailers, Sony only released "400,000 systems for the nationwide launch, the chance of disappointment was high." And apparently the chance for serious injury and theft were also high. Across the country, retailers saw long lines of people waiting all night for their chance to blow $600. And when the time finally came, the body count began. In Wisconsin, "crowds got rowdy and stampeded for the shelves, injuring a man. In California, "authorities shut down a Wal-Mart store." In Connecticut, "two armed thugs who got wise to the PS3's high price and tried to rob a line of people waiting outside a Putnam Wal-Mart store at 3 a.m." One guy refused and was shot. And in Lexington, Kentucky, "four people waiting outside a Best Buy were hit by BB pellets." Just plain madness has gripped people. And it is all for nothing.
People acted like these were the only PS3s to ever be produced and sold in the US. Do they actually think that is the case? Their actions would seem to suggest that. But had they only waited for the beginning of the year. Had they only curved their greed and lust for gaming a couple of months, Sony would have released 1 million more systems. And none of this would have happened. Frankly, I'm not even going to bother with this latest system. Why should I sell out $600 for something I already enjoy. So the PS3 is a DVD player. I have one of those and it was cheaper. So it connects to the internet for online gaming. PCs will always dominate the world of online gaming and I have a faster connection with cable. So it has "cutting-edge" graphics. I don't need to see my fictional characters sweat and shimmer in the sunlight. I just want to play freaking games.
If people have any sense, they will just wait. The Nintendo Wii comes out on Sunday and will only cost $250. It will be just as good as the PS3 with more interesting games. Not to mention the controller is going to get people off the couch to experience their games. The way it should be in my opinion. Just be calm out there. You don't need to rush and kill everyone in sight to get one of these machines. The companies are always making them. You will be able to get one. Put down the Mountain Dew, take a shower, and wait for the Wii. You won't be as disappointed as the idiots with a PS3.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Scientist: Fight Global Warming by Killing the Earth

As a member of the scientific community, I am use to the occasional politician or stupid person presenting some ridiculous scheme to fix a world-wide problem. I am also use to the average person not believing science about issues like global warming and believing everything their idiotic political leaders tell them. But what I am not use to is members of the scientific community presenting a horrible and poor-planned idea to an audience such as the United Nations. However, this nightmare scenario has come true today. And what makes it even more nightmarish is that actual scientists around the world are actually considering it.
Global warming is a real problem. The entire scientific community recognizes that it is a problem and that steps need to be taken to curve the effects. No matter what any politician tells you, global warming is changing the climate of this planet. That is a fact. What is also a fact, unfortunately, is that some scientists have devised a plan to stop a rise in global temperature. The side effects of this particular plan would be akin to shooting yourself in the head when you can take some Tylenol for a headache.
At a UN summit on climate change today, "prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate, said a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere could act as a "shade" from the sun's rays and help cool the planet." Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry said the suggestion was "meant to startle the policymakers." But that hasn't stopped other scientists from seriously considering this ridiculous idea.
Meeting have been held this week in California (by NASA) and Africa to discuss the possibilities of "geoengineering." These morons are actually considering this proposal to pollute the Earth in order to save it. The idea is pretty simple. According to the plan, "balloons bearing heavy guns would be used to carry sulfates high aloft and fire them into the stratosphere." Unlike carbon dioxide, "sulfur dioxide, a common air pollutant, reflect solar radiation, helping cool the planet." Wow, what a great idea. Let's cool the planet. I'm all for that. But in the process of this dumbass idea, we would poison ourselves and the environment. And imagine the scale this destruction would be on. Sulfur dioxide the the main ingredient in acid rain. You know, they stuff that falls from the sky and is corrosive to the touch. That stuff that would poison the water supply of livestock and wildlife and kill crops. Are you getting the picture. Apparently these scientists aren't.
The idiots acknowledge the threat of acid rain. Yet they say, "a massive dissemination of pollutants would be needed every year or two, as the sulfates precipitate from the atmosphere in acid rain." One scientist said he, "ran scenarios of stratospheric sulfate injection through supercomputer models of the climate, and reported that Crutzen's idea would, indeed, seem to work." So people are actually considering this. They are saying if we can't save the Earth from global warming, let's kill it with acid rain. A wonderful idea. The future is sure looking brighter if we let's these morons have their way. Smell that? It's the smell of the cooled off Earth after we have all died of starvation when acid kills the world's food supply. Smells good huh?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good Ole Boys Are Back In Town

Last week, Trent Lott did very well in the elections. Even though he is a republican incumbent, his state is redder than red. There was no way he was going to lose. When you come from a state with a nearly 100% incumbency rate, your chances are pretty good. And Lott knew it. He campaigned very little. However, he was able to pull in 346,074 votes. I'm sure Lott is feeling the love. But his party did not fare as well. He returned to Congress in the new minority party. And he was ready to get back into a position of power.
A couple of years ago, Lott was removed from his majority leader position for some "insensitive remarks." I believe it went something like this, "If we had voted him [Strom Thurman] into office as president, we wouldn't have the problem we have now." Now good ole boy Strom, rest his soul, was a Dixiecrat and just about the oldest racist Congress had to offer. With such an endorsement being made, Lott had to go. He was replaced by Bill Frist as majority leader.
With Frist gone after this election, he retired, Lott saw an opportunity. Today he won the position of "No. 2" for the minority Republicans. And it was pretty close with Lott only winning by a 25 to 24 vote. But Lott is pretty pleased. See this means the "good ole boy" system still exist in Congress. To have such an incompetent man as your "No. 2" speaks volumes about your party. It says, "Hey we don't care who our leaders are." Trent Lott needed to go.
Although that blame goes to the people of Mississippi. Lott wouldn't be making headlines if he had been ousted with the other idiots in the elections. But apparently, the "good ole boy" system is alive and well in Mississippi too. Apparently, Mississippi thinks its Congressional leaders are doing a fine job. Apparently, the voters here are stupid. At least the ones that kept these people in office. Lott was lucky this time. If things keep going in this direction, Mississippi may soon be less red. And Lott can pack his bags with the rest of the good ole boys.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bill Gates and The Big Education Duh

This week is apparently the time of year when big names make obvious comments about important issues so they can make headlines. Yesterday it was Elton John and his hugely obvious statement about religion. Today, Bill Gates takes a turn in a Microsoft-sized obvious statement about education. Who do these people think they are?
In an interview with the AP, Gates is quoted as saying, "the U.S. education system needs higher standards, clear accountability, flexible personnel practices and innovation." No kidding Bill, we didn't know that. Teachers have been saying the same things for years and we are ignored by lawmakers. What in the world makes Bill Gates think his opinion on the matter will do any good? He doesn't even contribute to the public education system. All of his kids are in private schools. SO he just thinks these things. He doesn't actually know. That explains why the points he makes are so off.
For example he says, ""Real accountability means more than having goals; it also means having clear consequences for not meeting the goals." Consequences for who? If you say teachers, you should be tarred and featured in Window's setup disks. The problem in this country is not teachers. The problem is with apathetic parents and students and incompetent administrations and lawmakers. In other words, the people that complete the puzzle of education are lacking. Teachers get all the blame. It seems Bill agrees.
He goes on to say, "It's astonishing to me to have a system that doesn't allow us to pay more for someone with scarce abilities, that doesn't allow us to pay more to reward strong performance." "That is tantamount to saying teacher talent and performance don't matter and that's basically saying students don't matter." No Bill, performance pay is not the answer. If you start paying teachers based on how their students do on some idiotic standardized tests, you are going to lose some of the best educators in the world. Performance pay is not a real solution. Other industries don't use it, why should education.
This all boils down to the fact that Bill Gates, like other people around the country, knows nothing about education. The decisions on education need to be made by the teachers. What gates fails to realize is that the system is only broken because it was built with broken parts. The only true working part are the teachers. We know our own jobs. And we are tired of other people telling us how to do it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Religion Breeds Intolerance or The Big Duh

As a member of organized religion, I must say that there is a world of good different churches and religious organizations have done. And this extends outside of the mostly Christian bubble Americans live under. Each of the religions of the world (the major ones anyway) have contributed to society in positive ways. I don't think that point can be argued. I also don't think there is anything inherently wrong with organized religion. But like anything created by man, it has its flaws and bad apples. It has those people involved that others in the group would like to see disappear. Unfortunately, they usually get the most press. And Elton John is on to them.
In probably the biggest statement of the obvious made by a human in recent history, Elton John told Music Monthly Magazine, "I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people...Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays." Oh really, Elton? Are you just figuring this out? Yes, organized religion (especially Christianity) has breed many a hate monger in its flocks. And something should be done to curve such hatred brewing in religious establishments. But really what can you do.
By professing their disapproval of different things (homosexuality, stem cell research, abortion, etc.) religious leaders are leaving the door open for those "bad apples" to do whatever they want. They allow them to preach whatever they want. They allow the "God-hates-fags.com" crowd to exist. And there is really nothing they can do about it.
religious leaders, the good ones anyway, often preach tolerance of differing views. It is a key part of the Christian faith. Any true Christian would know this and not spread hate. There is a difference in hate and disapproval. One is done with words. The other is done with action. And when that action filters into the government, then the problems start.
While we may not be able to control what people say (and we shouldn't). We can control what they do by passing laws. Hate laws are in place to prevent people from committing acts of hate against all sorts of people. It is up to the government to make sure these rules remain strict and are enforced. If they are not, statements like those of Elton John will continue to arise. They will blame the religion, when really the problem rest squarely on the shoulders of certain people.
Elton said we should ban religion. Or more correctly, he said he would ban religion. I wouldn't. I would ban stupidity. That is the biggest problem facing the human race. When it is removed, we will all live better and hate will no longer be a problem. Until that happens, we should try and point the finger at those actually responsibly, not those that are a convenient target.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who The Hell Wants To Live In Mississippi?

Ask most people in this country and the answer the that question would be no one. But the comments made by Rep. Charles Rangel of New York were uncalled for and proof that the childish nature of politicians does not end with elections. In a New York Times article, Rangel is quoted as saying, "Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?"
Who the Hell wants to give in New York? Does anyone really want to live in a state home to one of the largest, dirtiest, angriest cities in America? Does anyone want to live in a state that thinks Hillary Clinton is a good example of leadership? I sure don't. But what do I know, I'm from Mississippi.
Actually, I shouldn't ask those questions. New York is a place I would actually like to visit. And I can't really say much for the political minds of my home state. People in Mississippi, at least the majority, are ignorantly Conservative. There was a 100% incumbent rate in the last election. Mississippians at large are stupid in picking their leaders. Maybe Rangel was right. No one really wants to live in a state like that. In fact, Rangel was just joking about what he said.
Rangel, when asked about the comment, said, "I certainly don't mean to offend anyone. I just love New York so much that I can't understand why everyone wouldn't want to live here." Sure Chuck, I'll take your word for it. And so will everyone else. Just like they took John Kerry's word on his joke. We forgive you. I mean why should we react in a negative way to this. After all, Charles Rangel is only a no-account pathetic excuse for a politician that gives a bad name to the state of New York and the Democratic Party. What does he know?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld Out Not Necessarily A Good Thing

The complete win of Democrats in Congress announced today was met with a huge change in the Bush White House. In a move many thought would never happen, "The Decider" allowed Donald Rumsfeld to resign as Secretary of Defense. And while this announcement was met with just as many cheers as the change of power in Congress, one cannot be too sure that it is a good thing Rumsfeld is out. It is important to consider who still runs the country. It is also important to recognize the figure that will take "Uncle" Don's place in the Pentagon. Knowing these things may lessen the cheering crowds in Washington and around the country.
If Donald Rumsfeld did anything for the opposition in Washington, it was making them look good. Every call for resignation was backed up by an accusation of the poor handling of the war. But as mentioned in previous entries, the poor job the Pentagon was doing was not entirely Rumsfeld's fault. Let's not forget that he tried to get out of the position many times over the last two years. He didn't want the job. He didn't feel he could handle it. He proved that by not handling it. If any anger should be expressed, it should be at Mr. Decider himself. He kept Rumsfeld in this long knowing full well he was doing poorly and wanted out. But that is the past.
Rumsfeld being gone can come back to haunt the Democrats and Americans at large. As mentioned before, Rumsfeld made the Democrats lack of a strategy for Iraq a non-issue. People were so focused on Rumsfeld that they paid no attention to the fact that no one in the Democratic Party has any idea what to do about the war. A change in power could mean that Democrats have to brainstorm an idea quickly. Otherwise the new kid on the block is going to make them look bad and spoil those election-winning highs.
But what is most disturbing of all, and also overlooked, is who will be replacing Rumsfeld. Robert Gates, a former CIA director under Bush I, will be appointed to the position. I don't think Democrats will oppose the appointment, but maybe they should. They should oppose it for the same reasons they tried to block Bush's judge appointments; Bush is about to have yet another insider in a position of power in Washington. This guy knows a lot. He was head of the CIA. He knows everything. To have him as Defense Secretary can only boost Bush's power over war decisions. We may be in big trouble.
For two years now, Bush has been talking about Iran and Syria. Gates has been praised as an expert in intelligence gathering. If you want another war, who better to head the Pentagon than someone who is an intelligence expert. If you want some dirt to start that war with, he is just a quick phone call away. And before I am labeled as a paranoid conspiracy theorist, consider who runs this country. The Democrats may run Congress, but Bush still runs the White House. The next two years are going to be very interesting. With Rumsfeld gone, the ball is now rolling on whatever Bush has planned next. And I hope we are ready.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Elections Bring Major Changes On All Levels

As predicted, the mid-term election of 2006 was one of the most important in recent history. More money has been spent on this election than any other in US history. More independent voters turned out to the polls since 1982. All the elements were present to make a great change in how the next two years will go.
Maybe the biggest change came in the reversal of control in the houses of Congress. While the Senate may still be up in the air, I think Democrats will eventually be in control of both. Early predictions that Americans were tired of the current controlling party was evident with the number of incumbents that lost seats in the House and Senate. In the Senate, a total of 29 incumbents were running for re-election. The swift of power in the Senate was brought about when 5 of these incumbents lost their elections. Normally, the incumbency rate in the United States is estimated to be about 97%. However, the numbers suggest that for the current election, the incumbency rate in the Senate dropped 14 points to 83%.
The House saw a similar result. Many incumbents that lost their seats were Republicans, which explains the swift in power. In total, 403 incumbents ran for re-election to the House. After the results were in, it was seen that 378 of these incumbents kept their seat. An interesting fact goes along with this, however. Of the 378 incumbents that won, 34 were running unopposed. If these 34 are counted as victories, the incumbency rate in the House was at 94%. However, among incumbents that ran against opposition, the incumbency rate was down 12 points to 85%. These results should send a clear message that Americans want change on all levels.
Now that the Democratic party is in control of Congress, the changes Americans want should be addressed. If Democrats expect to keep control after 2008, some things need to be taken care of immediately. There are many issues that Democrats should bring up even if they are vetoed. For one, the environmental issues that Republicans refuse to address, should be brought up. The Kyoto Protocol should be reaffirmed even if Bush refuses to sign it into law. Also, Democrats need to bring up raising the minimum wage, create a bill for universal health care, and even get a bill in motion to reaffirm the Geneva Convention. The point of doing this, is to show what the Democratic Party stands for. If they want to get their nominee for president elected in 2008, he needs to have an agenda. And that agenda needs to have clear differences from the Republican agenda. If it doesn't, the American vote will sink back down into the apathy that it has so briefly risen from this election cycle.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Britney's Courtroom Woes: Who Cares About Elections?

At this hour, many people have gone or are going to the polls to cast their vote for a candidate they like. They have been constantly bombarded the past few weeks with stories about soldiers dyeing in Iraq, scandals in Congress, and other issues from immigration to gay marriage. But let's face it, who really cares about all that? The real news is with Britney Spears and her latest headlines. Finally, something interesting to cover.
In case you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, Britney and K-Fed are suing Us Weekly for defamation. It is a really big deal. In a recent "article" in the magazine, a writer claimed, "Spears and Federline, feared the release of a secret sex tape, which they had viewed with their estate planning lawyers. The article said that Spears gave a copy of the tape to lawyers and she and Federline were "acting goofy the whole time" while watching the video." That is a really serious charge. Someone has to pay for it.
But this one is a no go. The judge in the case, Lisa Hart Cole, said Britney "put her modern sexuality squarely, and profitably, before the public eye." What does that even mean? The judge did not care if the story was true or false. She went on to say, "The issue is whether it is defamatory to state that a husband and wife taped themselves engaging in consensual sex." Apparently, the judge does not think so and also stated, "The backdrop against which this issue must be addressed is that the plaintiff has publicly portrayed herself in a sexual way in her performances, in published photographs and in a reality show." Again, what does that even mean? This magazine obviously are doing this to hurt this great young couple. They should have to pay the $10 million they are being sued for.
When is the American justice system going to work for everyone. If a magazine can make such a claim, what is to stop others from doing the same. Pretty soon everyone will be saying Brit and K-Fed made a sex tape. And it might not be true. Those liars should pay up. They have financially hurt this couple. That's how rumors get started after all and rumors are costly. Call your Congressman tonight after the election results are in and demand that something should be done about this. This ruling flies in the face of all the Constitution stands for. No American should sit idlely by and let this happen. Speak up for Britney.

Monday, November 06, 2006

No More Incumbents

My personal campaign has been to remove all incumbents from office. I was told recently that it was a very smart idea. When I asked why, the response had something to do with inexperienced Congressmen and Trent Lott. As far as I am concerned, the incumbent Congress may have experience, but they suck at their jobs. Why do they deserve to keep a job that they are no good at? If any other American went to work everyday and did a piss-poor job, we would be fired. And since the people still run this country, I think it is time to do some firing.
Tomorrow may be one of the most important elections in our lifetime. Many things may change. Historically, Americans are very apathetic voters. And it is that attitude that gave us the bunch of no-accounts currently serving in office. Tomorrow needs to end that apathy.
Let's not worry about the issues anymore. We are beyond issues. It boils down to this. Do you really think that a guy that hasn't done anything about a particular issue is suddenly going to change his mind and do something just because you vote? Of course not. The easiest solution is to clean house and see if this new group can do better.
So wherever you are tomorrow, remember this. No matter what they say to you, don't believe it. No incumbent deserves their job back this term. Don't worry about party, good looks, or issues. Simply vote for the other guy. The list that follows is made of the most useless human beings running for re-election. To vote for any of these people tomorrow would do a disservice to America. So DO NOT VOTE for any of the people listed below.
US Senate:
Arizona: Jon Kyl (R)
California: Dianne Feinstein (D)
Connecticut: Joe Lieberman
Delaware: Tom Carper (D)
Florida: Bill Nelson (D)
Hawaii: Daniel Akaka (D)
Indiana: Dick Lugar (R)
Maine: Olympia Snowe (R)
Maryland: Paul Sarbanes (D)
Massachusetts: Edward Kennedy (D)
Michigan: Debbie Stabenow (D)
Minnesota: Mark Dayton (DFL)
Mississippi: Trent Lott (R)
Missouri: Jim Talent (R)
Montana: Conrad Burns (R)
Nebraska: Ben Nelson (D)
Nevada: John Ensign (R)
New Jersey: Robert Menendez (D)
New Mexico: Jeff Bingaman (D)
New York: Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
North Dakota: Kent Conrad (D)
Ohio: Mike DeWine (R)
Pennsylvania: Rick Santorum (R)
Rhode Island: Lincoln Chafee (R)
Tennessee: Bill Frist (R)
Texas: Kay Bailey Hutchison (R)
Utah: Orrin Hatch (R)
Vermont: Jim Jeffords (I)
Virginia: George Allen (R)
Washington: Maria Cantwell (D)
West Virginia: Robert Byrd (D)
Wisconsin: Herb Kohl (D)
Wyoming: Craig Thomas (R)

US House of Representatives:
CONNECTICUT HOUSE 02: Robert Simmons (R)
CONNECTICUT HOUSE 04: Christopher Shays (R)
CONNECTICUT HOUSE 05: Nancy Johnson (R)
FLORIDA HOUSE 22: Eugene Shaw (R)
ILLINOIS HOUSE 08: Melissa Bean (D)
INDIANA HOUSE 02: Chris Chocola (R)
INDIANA HOUSE 08: John Hostettler (R)
INDIANA HOUSE 09: Michael Sodrel (R)
IOWA HOUSE 03: Leonard Boswell (D)
KENTUCKY HOUSE 04: Geoffrey Davis (R)
LOUISIANA HOUSE 02: William Jefferson (D)
NEW MEXICO HOUSE 01: Heather Wilson (R)
NEW YORK HOUSE 20: John Sweeney (R)
NORTH CAROLINA HOUSE 11: Charles Taylor (R)
OHIO HOUSE 15: Deborah Pryce (R)
PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE 08: Mike Fitzpatrick (R)
PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE 10: Donald Sherwood (R)
VIRGINIA HOUSE 02: Thelma Drake (R)
WASHINGTON HOUSE 08: Dave Reichert (R)
WEST VIRGINIA HOUSE 01: Alan Mollohan (D)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Neither Party Has An Answer For Iraq

If one were to pick an issue that has come up time and time again in every election since 2002, it would be the War on Terror. Or more specifically, the War in Iraq. Both sides of the political arena think they know what the answer is to solving the problem of global terrorism. And it remains an issue because neither party has yet to come up with a way to get us out of this mess we are in. The hard facts are that Iraq is a mess. It is a failure in terms of success. But what do I know, the president says I'm wrong.
In part of a series of speeches the president will make leading up to Tuesday's election he said, "Democrats calling for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq aren't unpatriotic, just wrong." He also said, "Democrats who voted against legislation to detain and interrogate suspected terrorists, the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program and the Patriot Act don't understand the stakes in the war on terror." And to cap his campaign bashing, Bush said, "If they say they want to win the war on terror, but call for America to pull out of what al Qaeda says is the central front in this war, ask them this question: 'What's your plan?"
Good point. What is the Democratic plan to get us out of Iraq? No one knows. The reason is because the Democratic party is filled with nothing but whining and complaining politicians that don't know how to make a simple suggestion. Bush said in his speech, "Harsh criticism is not a plan for victory. Second guessing is not a strategy." He's right. When is the Democratic party going to wake up and realize that if they want to lead, they have to have a plan. If they are waiting until after the election, it will be too late. I fear that some Democrats will wake up Wednesday morning to find that the American people wanted a plan to get our troops home and they forgot to offer it.
But before someone confuses me with a Republican, let me say this. Bush's comments needed to also be directed at his own party. And at his White House. As of yet, the best plan for victory in Iraq offered by Republicans has been "let's go over there and win." And that about explains what they have. In my eyes, they are just as unprepared to provide a plan of action as the opposing party. And Democrats are quick to point this out.
Democrat Claire McCaskill is running for the Senate in the state where President Bush made his speech today. In a reply to Bush's allegations, McCaskill said, "President Bush has never had a plan to win in Iraq, and now that Democrats and Republicans are all calling for change, he's desperately clinging to his stay the course." And she is right. For three years now we have heard "stay the course." And this course, apparently, means standing idlely by and watching soldier after soldier die in vain for a cause they do not understand.
The truth of the matter is simply. Neither party has any good ideas on how to handle the real issues that face America. And another truth is that neither party is planning on dealing with the issues. We elect these people to do work and they do nothing but bicker and argue about who called who a poop-head or who is sleeping with who. Politicians don't have the answers. At least the ones in power right now don't. If we aren't going to rid ourselves of this government by force, we definitely should do it with our votes. Screw parties. Vote for someone else.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Obama No Chance In '08

Finally, a potential presidential candidate that has all the qualities I think every president should have. He's smart, good looking, young, energetic, upbeat, a great public speaker, and he is available in 2008. Of course, there are a few problems. He's a senator, which does not improve his chances. He's a democrat, which lessens his chances even more. He's black, which is a killer. And his name is Barack Obama, which is great smear-ad material.
If we lived in a perfect world, the senator from Illinois would have no problem running and winning the 2008 presidential election. But as things stand, he has to overcome those obstacles previously mentioned. There is hope for his nomination, however. According to a recent poll of registered democratic voters, Obama trails Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by eleven points. And he is gaining.
But the sad fact of the matter is that this talented, young man really has no chance to win the presidency of this country. While many, including myself, would vote for such an awesome candidate, many would not for various reason. One of the most obvious would be his African heritage.
This country has come a long way since the dark days of the Civil Rights movement. But the facts remain, blacks still face disdain and inequality. Many voters, though they won't admit it openly, would not vote for Obama because of that one simple reason. Even if he wasn't a democrat, he would still get the same treatment. But being a democrat certainly doesn't help.
During the past six years, this country has seen an increase in conservatism mixed with ignorant patriotism. In other words, the party in power at the time of our great tragedy is always right and has never or will never make a mistake. And this increase in the conservative vote has lead to the ignorant state of mind that would keep Obama out of office. People actually believe that not a single democrat in power is worth anything. They have been brainwashed by the conservative machine to spew the lines "cut-and-run" party or "defeatist mentality." They probably don't even know what all that means. But one can be sure it will sway the vote in 2008. And this mentality will lead to the eventually smearing of this man's good name.
While I have no problem with names. And I also don't think names matter when voting. However, conservative ad makers do. Because Obama is a democrat and will be labeled as a typical democrat, I can only imagine the horrible smear-ads that could be produced. The one that comes to mind often would go something like this:
Barack Obama is a leading member of the democratic party. As a senator, he supported many other democratic leaders. He knows John Kerry. Obama belongs to that cut-and-run crowd. And isn't it interesting that his name rhymes with Osama. Do you really want him to be elected president with a name like that? Vote republican because America doesn't need a terrorist support in the White House.
It may seem ridiculous, but after the childish behavior during this election, ads like this could be common. Many issues related to the war will guide the course of this next election. Candidates like Obama need to be prepared. I'll vote for him, but will America vote for him and allow him to win? I don't really think so.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Childish Nature of Politician a Disgrace

In 2004, the Democratic nomination for President was given to an uptight, stuff-shirt rich man from Massachusetts. He didn't win. He was a politician and horrible at speaking in public. He made empty promises and failed to impress voters. He now serves in the US Senate as a representative of his home state. He is no better than a child.
This same scenario plays out over and over again in the political arena. Politicians who participate in such childish behavior are a disgrace to America and all it stands for. And at no time is this more evident that before an election. At no point in media coverage is the play-ground system more in place than before voters must choose the leaders of our government. And the incident from yesterday proves that point.
If it was in jest, so what. John Kerry made a remark in a speech on Tuesday that has caused the childish antics of politicians to reach a fever pitch. In this speech Kerry said, "You know, education -- if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Kerry said it was a bad joke made toward Bush and his lack of knowledge. It was a bad one. But instead of rolling their eyes and moving on, the opposing party must make a big deal out of it. And when they make a big deal out of it, Kerry's party steps back from him as if he had the plague.
Let's face facts. Kerry makes a good point. If he was talking about Bush, he's right. Bush is an idiot. He is one idiot among several hundred that make the decisions that run this country. Because of his lack of brain, this country is stuck in a useless war where good men and women are dying for nothing. We are stuck there. And if we had a smarter leadership, we wouldn't be there in the first place. But no one has said that. Instead, they acted in such an immature fashion, I think a group of first graders could have acted better.
An add put out so quickly it makes you head spin had a caption reading, "John Kerry should apologize. Our soldiers are waiting." No they are not. Our soldiers are too busy getting killed by an unending insurgency to care about the remarks of one moron in Washington. What are troops are really waiting for is our politicians to get their heads out of their asses and do something to get them home.
The people in Washington need to grow up and move on with their lives. Stop worrying about who needs to say "I'm sorry" or who needs to say "I told you so" and run the damn country. It's events like these that make people want to stay at home on election day. They would rather let the idiots in Washington bicker until they are blue in the face. Yet another reason they should all be tossed out on their asses. When Washington stops disgracing the United States, then maybe we can get down to actually running the country. Till then, we are simply S.O.L. And you can quote me on that with no apology to follow.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ghost Are Real...Get Over It

A common reason people give to explain away ghosts is they have never seen one. But there are many things in this world people have never seen. People living on a remote island in the south Pacific having probably never seen a car. And yet we would laugh if one of them told us that cars do not exist. I guess this reason sticks out in my mind because I have seen ghosts. I have seen them so I have no problem believing in them. But believing in something you have never seen is a common practice of just about every world religion. Why then, is it so much of a stretch from ghosts to God?
People seem to be afraid to take things on faith. I think this stems from the untrusting nature of people and the fact that we are afraid of things bigger than ourselves. As a group, people tend to mistrust each other over just about anything. This explains why a person will not believe in something they have not seen. They do not trust the source. Or they do not trust that they will ever see it, so they dismiss the thoughts of it altogether.
People are also afraid of their own existence being insignificant. By ruling out ghosts and the supernatural altogether, humans can place themselves at the top of existence. This makes people feel better about themselves and leaves those looking for the supernatural in the same place as the mentally ill. In my opinion, if human beings are the end-all-be-all of existence, that is very sad. But the comfort factor always wins out. If something has never been seen, then the zone of protection around our top-notch existence has not been breached. To say ghosts exist, is to say that people are just another animal. Or people are just a tiny speck in the huge expanse of the universe. That realization can be very unnerving to some people. So, people have created a delusion that has been passed down through the ages that being seen is the key to existence. If something is out of sight, it is out of mind and all the people can go about their daily lives comfortable in their own existence.
It is in the arms of science where others find comfort from the existence of ghosts. Since science has no hard proof that ghosts exist, this must mean they do not. In fact, science is to blame for the stigma put on belief in all supernatural occurrences. With the Enlightenment, came a new way of thinking. For science, this meant a radical move away from the normal search for knowledge and toward an arrogant view of the natural world. Ghosts and the like must not be real because they cannot be tested in a laboratory or made in a test tube. For this reason, paranormal study was banished to the realm of superstition and folklore.
One of the key principals in science is the continuing search for knowledge. Another is no matter how much or how little evidence exist on a subject, that subject cannot be completely proved or disproved. What this means is science is suppose to deal only in ideas. Science does not deal in absolutes. An example of this is the theory that all living things are made of cells. For this particular subject, there is a multitude of experimental data that points to the truth in this statement. Yet, any scientist that tells you all living things are made of cells beyond a shadow of a doubt is either a bad scientist or stupid. That scientist should know viruses throw the proverbial “monkey wrench” into the theory. It is not known if viruses can be considered living or nonliving. But if they are considered living, the theory of cells in all living things has doubt cast upon it.
When I was in college, one of the things my science class professors tried to drive home was scientists never prove anything. They only help build a case for something to possibly be a good idea. Why then are ghosts and other supernatural occurrences immediately ruled out by much of the scientific community? I think it has to do with the arrogance and assumptions of the Enlightenment. Scientists took it upon themselves to rationally and logically explain everything in nature. To do this, they first had to assume that nature works in a rational and logical way. With this assumption in place, things that did not fit the pattern of nature, as they saw it, where immediately dismissed as the workings of a troubled mind. And that put ghost hunters high atop their list of crazy people.
The question is not whether ghosts exist; it is why do people not believe in ghosts? Some will say that not seeing something means it does not exist. However, there are many things on this Earth that we cannot and have not seen. But these things still exists. Others people turn to science and its lack of evidence on ghosts. Evidence for the existence of ghosts does exist. However, over the course of human history, science has given paranormal study a negative connotation and this evidence has remained unchecked by objective eyes. Religion is another excuse given for the nonexistence of ghosts. But with all the fantastic events of the Bible, how can one not believe in something as simple as ghosts? Though they give many reasons, the main reason seems to be because ghosts make people uncomfortable. Ghosts are an affront to the meaning of existence. If they exist, they question the human status as the top level of being. As long as comfort is a top priority of people, the existence of ghosts will always remain in the realm of fiction. Perhaps one day, paranormal will be normal and the negative stigma given to the field will be lifted in the continuing search for knowledge.