Saturday, January 30, 2010

Historic meeting

President Obama had a historic meeting with GOP leaders on Friday.  I had worked up some highlights from it and some commentary, but due to a browser crash and Blogger failing to create a recent draft, it's disappeared into the ether. And I'm not about to start over. . .

So, here is a transcript. I really liked what The President had to say, especially his focus on how the political rhetoric and grandstanding has boxed both sides into being forced to constantly demonize the other side and never reach a compromise.

They better get this in order, because while the minority bases of both parties eat this stuff up, independents — the mainstream majority of this country — are sick to death of it!

I really hope to see a lot more of this in the future,though hopefully with less talking-points and posturing next time.... I also hope such exchanges will be televised. It gives us all a glimpse into who is willing to work with the other side, come to agreements, rather than just try to score political points for future elections.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Rudy lies, again...

Former Mayor Rudy "9/11" Giuliani is caught making stuff up again. He recently claimed on 'Good Morning America'  that, “We had no domestic attacks under Bush; we’ve had one under Obama.” He later claimed that he had meant there were no domestic terrorist attacks “since Sept. 11th.” I'm not sure how Mr. 'noun, verb & 9/11' could have forgotten the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but he did!

That aside, he is still omitting the fatal anthrax attacks in the weeks following 9/11, the fatal shooting by an Egyptian at Los Angeles airport on Independence Day in 2002, and the attempt by Richard Reid to blow up his shoes on a flight bound for the U.S. I bring this up because conservatives are sure making political-hay out of the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly trying to blow up his underwear last Christmas...

That brings us to the most recent of Rudy's lies. Mr. Giuliani claimed after the State of the Union Speech that The President “said the least about national security than any American president I can recall at a time in which we are at war with Islamic terrorists — and notice, once again, he never used that word”. When in reality, President Obama mentioned "terrorism" once, and "terrorists"twice.

Mr. Giuliani also claimed President Obama “didn’t talk about the Christmas almost-bomber.” In fact, Mr. Obama did, “We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence.”

He also claimed, as he likes to do, that The President didn't mention “war”, when in fact Mr. Obama mentioned seven times. But hey, who's counting?

Winning the independents

I liked this Newsweek article by Howard Fineman. It was an offering of advice, prior to President Obama's State of the Union Speech, in how The President could win back independent voters. I think Mr. Fineman had a lot of things pegged. I especially liked his discussion of the recent Supreme Court decision which gave corporations a constitutional right to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political advertising campaigns.

Says Mr. Fineman:
"The president also may be able to score points with independents by vowing to somehow dam up the flow of corporate spending in campaigns, a flow that could grow to a flood as a result of the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the matter. But, according to some Democrats outside the White House, Obama's problem is his frame of reference: the South Side of Chicago, the liberal wing of the party that holds sway there, and his roots in Democrat-dominated Hawaii and the Ivy League."

I also thought that he succinctly summed up the independent voter better than I've probably ever seen them/us described:
"An academic cottage industry exists to debate the identity of independents (or even if they exist) and what they care about. The academic discussions are way too technical for me. What I can tell you is based on having covered lots of elections, and self-described independents such as Ross Perot. It's enough to know that "independents" are weakly attached to the apparatus or agendas of the parties, that they tend to be younger and more male than hard-core party types, and that they are, for want of a better term, "process-oriented."

"They yearn for "good government"—government that is open, fair, efficient, free of special interests' domination, and nonpartisan or bipartisan in spirit. They find no glory in ideological combat; they see it as destructive. They search for leaders who exhibit a sense of good will. They tend to fret about deficits and debt, but not in a reflexively antigovernmental way. They are not against social programs, but want them administered with old-school thrift. They are not "centrists" in the sense that they exist in some mathematical middle ground between "left" and "right." Nor are they necessarily angry "populists," eternally resenting and distrusting anyone with any power. They are outsiders who wish Washington were a better place."

"The health-care crusade has cost him among independents. Not that they didn't want heath-care reform; they did. But the massive bill now stuck in Congress has seemed to grow less sensible and more confusing in its substance, even as the process of enacting it has become more arcane, secretive, viciously partisan, and corrupt."

Bingo! Hell yes, people want health-care reform. Those don't have it — and this number is growing daily — are very concerned about it. Those who are concerned about possibly losing their job, and especially those who currently have medical conditions and know full-well that if they had to get a new job and new insurance plan, it would be unlikely their pre-existing conditions would be covered are very worried about healthcare reform. And anyone with any common sense knows that if the spiraling costs of healthcare are not contained they are going to bankrupt the country.

But what Congress has proposed, much of which was added to and over-extended just to get opportunists to vote for it, is in the minds of most folks too cumbersome, too complicated, too expensive, too corrupt, too demanding, and won't address enough of the cost issues to be worth it.

I hope President Obama turns things around soon. Some of the blame he is getting is undeserved. And some of it is well-earned. In particular, I think The President left entirely too much for the Democrats in Congress to just go their own way — pushing their pet agendas. He needs to be more assertive. I think this could win over more independents. They want results, they want progression not radicalism. They want fiscal restraint, but they also want the genuine needs of common people around this country and the economy itself to be met.

As for the Republicans... That seems to be a hopeless situation. They have driven most moderates out of their party, the political system is so polarizing that the base of the GOP and this new radical conservative/pseudo-libertarian Tea Party movement demands obstructionism, moreover, the President has been vilified to such an extent that for a Republican to support him or one of his agendas could be political suicide.

While it's bad for the country, it's good for politics for Republicans to just keep standing in his way, demanding super-majorities to get anything passed, and then gloat in the upcoming elections how the Democrats can't get anything done.

An important question then is, Will independent voters be naive enough to fall for that line?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of Our Union

President Obama gave his first State of the Union Speech and I was very pleased at some of the issues he addressed. The following is some of my favorite portions:

I'll start with what I thought was the best, first:
"People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay.

"But -- but the truth is, these steps won't make up for the 7 million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long- term economic growth and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.

"We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from last decade, what some call the "lost decade," where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion, where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs, where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

"From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious, such effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

"For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? You see...

"You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China's not waiting to revamp its economy; Germany's not waiting; India's not waiting.

"These nations, they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.

"Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America."

Only time will tell if The President will hold firm to this commitment, whether the Democrats in Congress will push this agenda, and whether the Republicans will work with them or stand in the way. . .

{The other highlights are in order of appearance}

Monday, January 25, 2010

The "purity" test

Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain has taken a lot of flak ever since she started playing a more active role in public political discussions.

Ms. McCain considers herself a Republican, and has called for the GOP to be more inclusive and more moderate with some of its stances. Recognizing homosexual civil rights, including marriage equality for same-sex couples, is one of these issues that she is very passionate about. For this, and for calling out some of the demagogues of the party, she has been denigrated as (among other things) a RINO — Republican In Name Only.

Ms. McCain had been slated to give a speech at George Washington University. A group of Young Republicans at the college has withdrew their support of her speaking at the university given her advocacy of same-sex marriage. Predictable enough...

Ms. McCain recently pointed out in at an article at The Daily Beast, that some in the Republican party have proposed a literal litmus test for Republicans. As a long list of moderates being elbowed out of the party can attest, the Republicans have already had a virtual litmus test in place for years. This test, however, would be a bit more official.

While it is doubtful the test would ever actually be used, {apparently even John McCain and Ronald Reagan wouldn't have passed} still, the concept of it is telling. Imagine, a purity test, of sorts. If you can't pass the test (yes on 8 out of 10 questions), then you shouldn't be in the GOP. Or at least, the GOP shouldn't endorse you, give you money and Republicans shouldn't vote for you.

Brown-shirt tactics? You betcha!

Ms. McCain, while opposing such a test, decided to take it. She got 8, though 2 were yes/no.

I decided I'd give it a go, too. As a progressive-minded independent who is generally written-off as a liberal Democrat by people who only see in colors of blue and red and prefer operating under assumptions rather than examining one's actual stance, I was curious to see where I would come out on the G.O.P. purity test...

First of all, the test is very poorly constructed. It's too generalized in some areas, too narrow in others. It's also petty in determining whether one sides with President Obama or not. It suggests that siding with a Democratic President should disqualify you as a good Republican, but it also incorrectly attributes some programs, like health-care, as President Obama's invention. Last time I checked, the health-care bills were designed by the House and the Senate, not the White House... But then this is a partisan test, so who's counting?

All the same, the test made it difficult to say a definitive yes or no on several questions. I don't know who wrote the test, but it really kind of summed up the small-mindedness behind modern Republican conservatism.

So, I did my best. Had a few half yes, half no answers and came up with a 7 yes. So, I'm not a Republican, SURPRISE! But, apparently, I'm not a flaming liberal either.


Poor people, kind of like... animals

Lt. Governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer, recently shared a colorful analogy at a town hall meeting, in which he compared poor people, including children, to stray animals. One just couldn't make this stuff up...

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”

You don't say? Go on:

“I can show you a bar graph where free and reduced lunch has the worst test scores in the state of South Carolina,” [...] “You show me the school that has the highest free and reduced lunch, and I’ll show you the worst test scores, folks. It’s there, period.” 

No shit? Go on:

“You go to a school where there’s an active participation of parents, and guess what? They have the highest test scores. So what do you do? You say, ‘Look folks, if you receive goods or services from the government and you don’t attend a parent-teacher conference, bam, you lose your benefits.’”

Ok... You should have stuck with this last one, and left out the stray animals bit.

Anything else?

“And so government has got to change what it does. Babies having babies. Somebody’s got to talk about. Politicians don’t want to talk about it anymore because it’s politically incorrect.”

Is that so? Concerns about kids having kids and wanting to address that sort of problem is politically incorrect now? Not in my neighborhood, but then, I don't live in South Carolina. Maybe, it's a local thing.

Is that all?

“They can continue to have more and more kids, and the reward is there’s more and more money in it for them.”

And that's why some states have limits... I guess South Carolina doesn't. I wonder what the Lt. Gov. thinks of birth control and abortion?

Alright. Back to that stray animals thing... I'd hate to think that perhaps he was simply misunderstood here. Fortunately the media asked Mr. Bauer to clarify his statements. He responded:

“There was no way I was trying to tie animals to people”

Oh, well of course not. I mean, that would just be insensitive, insulting, asinine, cruel... So what did you mean, Mr. Bauer?

“What I was trying to talk about was the dependency culture. And that, just like when you feed animals, you create a dependency. [...] I do not care about being politically correct, I care about being honest.

Ah, well that clears everything up. So, you really are a douche-bag then. At least we know for sure.


I'm not much for political correctness either. And I prefer honesty. So here's my honest assessment. We could use some more welfare reform in this country. Some states more than others. But this kind of insulting demagoguery is completely unnecessary. And this clown should be removed from office as soon as possible. He's not fit to serve the public.

Articles at The Raw Story & Sphere.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The error of his ways...

Ealier this week, Jon Stewart detailed very well why I stopped watching Keith Olbermann over a month ago. Basically, Keith Olbermann's program has become mindless, rancid, partisan hyperbole. I used to have a lot of respect for Mr. Olbermann. I liked his coverage, his commentary. He got to the heart of the matter, and hung deserving partisan hacks out to dry. Now, as Mr. Stewart points out, it's just name-calling. And man, how he stretches credulity...

Jon Stewart's "special comment" was right on. And amusing.
 
All that said, Keith was right about at least one thing here. Michele Malkin is a "mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic... mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Voters decide: end the partisanship

The loss this week in the senatorial race in Massachusetts of Democrat Martha Coakley by Republican Scott Brown, to replace the vacancy of Ted Kennedy, took a lot of people by surprise. Normally, in strongly left-leaning Massachusetts, a Republican victory wouldn't be at all likely. But starting in 2006 and becoming more pronounced in 2008, the political climate has become definite anti-incumbent territory. And though Ms. Coakley wasn't an incumbent, she was, however a Democrat, poised to claim a seat that had been held by a Democrat going back to at least 1933. And she was seen as the establishment figure. Moreover, the Washington establishment today is without question Democratic.

Of course Republicans are beside themselves with glee. They believe this is yet another sign of a huge comeback for them. And conservatives believe this is a mainstream backlash against rampant liberalism, and and a coming home to conservative "values".

While I think it would be correct to summarize this as a sign of a significant swing toward the Republicans in the mid-term elections this year, and while this is certainly a sign of growing dissatisfaction in the direction the Democrats are taking the country, conservatives are going to be in for a surprise thinking that folks have jumped onto the conservative ideology bandwagon. In short, dissatisfaction in the effectiveness of the two-party political machine is populist these days, not conservative/libertarian dogma.

Yes, the Democrats have been guilty of overreach. Just as the Republicans before them. And yes, the Democrats have been and will continue to be punished for this, just as the Republicans before them. No, the public hasn't forgotten who drove the country into this ditch. Nor are they convinced that the current drivers are capable of navigating us out of it.

Frank Avlon had an outstanding article over at the Daily Beast which summed much of this up better than I could. It is well-worth reading.

This excerpt sums it up:
"Independents have actually been consistent between 2006 and today. They are fiscal conservatives but liberal-to-libertarian on social issues. They are deficit hawks going back to at least Ross Perot’s independent campaign for the presidency in 1992. And they distrust the ideological arrogance and legislative overreach that tends to occur when one party controls both Congress and the White House. That was true under Bush and Tom DeLay and it's true under Obama and Nancy Pelosi today."

Friday, January 22, 2010

The unemployed: just a bunch of bums?

In a recent Time magazine article by Nina Easton, the pitch was made for cutting back on government entitlements to the unemployed.

I can agree with some of her points, as I, too, believe that welfare and unemployment can create dependency. But there were many points to Ms. Easton's article that I took issue with.

She starts off with this dubious axiom:
“Continually easing the pain of jobless Americans, it turns out, can contribute to high jobless rates by warping incentives to look for work.”

Oh sure, because it isn't a lack of jobs that is the problem right now, it's a lack of people willing to take them... This reminds me of the myth that Americans won't work in places like poultry factories (or apparently construction sites, either) if you pay them a decent wage, thus, we must give these jobs to illegal aliens.

Continuing on this line of thought, Ms. Easton posits an answer to the question, “why not do more for the jobless?”

“Because there's evidence that the extensions are only prolonging joblessness. Today's unemployment rate remains high not because of mass layoffs—most of which happened early last year—but mainly because more people are remaining unemployed for longer periods.”

Not only is Ms. Easton operating under a lot of assumptions about people just sitting around, turning down jobs, but she is also leaving a lot of realities out of this situation.

Yes, most of the mass lay-offs that we experienced occurred early last year. Here is what she leaves out, most of those jobs have not been replaced. Most folks have not been called back to work. Those lay-offs were permanent. And while perhaps not en masse — lay-offs, downsizing, plant closings, and liquidations have continued since.

Ms. Easton hints at the obvious:
“Ah, you say, that's because there are no jobs to be found. With an estimated six people applying for every job available, there's plenty merit to that argument.”

Yes, I know. Here is some food for thought.

She then continues on by citing a labor economist at Chicago's School of Business:
“Still, the unemployment rate rose from 8.6% in March 2009 to 10% now even as the job-vacancy rate held steady”.

Ah, an honest assessment of this would reveal two obvious explanations: One) lay-offs don't happen in a vacuum — when an industry experiences substantial lay-offs, other industries tied to it also must downsize and some businesses can't even sustain themselves any longer. This, too, can lead to more industries cutting back, creating a sort of domino-effect.

Two) due to population growth, the number of people looking to enter the workforce is constantly expanding. Just to keep unemployment steady more jobs must be created at a rate similar to population growth. It cannot remain stagnant.

In short, while the unemployed may have stayed roughly the same, and while job availability may have stayed roughly the same, the number of people needing a job has grown.

In fact, just to stay even, many economists say 127,000 new jobs must be created per month just to keep even with the population. Here are some state statistics on job growth and the lack thereof.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Musings

  • Eboo Patel, executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, recently discussed in USA Today was discussing the inability of moderate Muslims to influence Islamic extremists:
“Here's the sad truth: mainstream Muslims have zero influence over extremists. In fact, if one of those guys had a single bullet in his fun and you and I were up against the wall, he would shoot me me first. He hates me more because not only do I not follow his perverse vision of Islam, I also represent an alternative interpretation. He insists Islam requires domination; I suggest Islam inspires cooperation.
This really puts things into perspective... It also clarifies why it is not only foolish but extremely dangerous to believe that perhaps these extremists can be reasoned with.

  • As usual, on This Week, Liz Cheney was trying to score some political points for the GOP over recently revealed comments by Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. But none other than conservative columnist George Will took her to task, utterly dismissing the partisan indignation from Republicans who have suddenly become racially sensitive to the point of political correctness:
“I don't think there's a scintilla of racism in what Harry Reid said. At long last, Harry Reid has said something that no one can disagree with, and he gets in trouble for it. [...] Did he get it wrong? [...] Did he say anything false?” 
Still, Liz tried hard to push the 'it's racist to point out the truth' meme:
"these are clearly racist comments, George."

But George wouldn't hear of it:
“Oh, my, no.” 

You heard it, Liz. Stated by a true conservative, not a neoconservative partisan hack like yourself...

  • Also pertaining to the Sen. Reid controversy, I thought Wanda Sykes summed up nicely that, regardless how poor the choices of words might have been, Harry Reid was revealing a harsh reality of racism in this country:
“Harry Reid is right! Come on! We all know that if Barack Obama looked like Wesley Snipes, and spoke like Soulja Boy... The only thing he'd be president of is B.E.T.”
Yep, that's a fact.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ban; tax; harass

I found this article very revealing of the sort of paternalism that is increasingly at work in our country these days...

This time its smoking that's under attack. Always an easy enough target.

Just like hospitals before them, colleges are following suit to go completely smoke-free. It's not a new trend, but it is becoming more extreme.

The trend is certainly not new. Here is another Time article discussing partial smoking-bans back in 2002. But as the saying goes, 'give them an inch, they'll take a mile'. And so they have, stadium bans beget, 25-foot bans from entrances, begets 40-foot bans from entrances, bus stops and ATMs, begets total campus-wide bans.

In more places across the country we have seen designated smoking areas get smaller and farther away from main congregation areas. But over the past few years, in more places, we've reached the point where, for the most part, smoking just isn't an option most places.

There are fewer designated areas, rooms with separate ventilation isn't even good enough to appease the agendas of the anti-smoking fanatics. Sidewalks, parking lots, or even in your own car on a parking lot with the windows up are now off-limits for smoking on many hospital and college campuses.

Now I didn't think it was such a bad idea to have designated areas for smokers. Not at all. Especially for restaurants. I think people who don't smoke should have some protections to avoid being directly exposed to second-hand smoke. But when some open-air caf├ęs, bars and strip clubs started banning smoking, I knew the rationality on this issue had given way to hysterics.

What bothers me most about all this is that it isn't that some businesses are electing to do this. That's up them; that's how it should be. And then smokers can throw their money at places that are willing to cater to them.

The problem I've had with this is that businesses are being forced by local government to ban any smoking options — removing any and all choice from them and their customers.

An ordinance stipulating that there must be adequate designated areas or even separate ventilation systems seemed a fair demand. Those businesses who do not want or perhaps need to go to such efforts to please their smoking-customers don't have to. Those that do, at least can if they choose to.

These ordinances banning smoking in all or most public places is far too draconian for my tastes. It's rather obvious where it is all leading.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More "enhanced" security is not always the solution

An excellent op-ed at Time magazine.

There has been a lot of debate going on ever since the failed bombing attempt on Flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas day about security measures at airport.

Of course there is always a knee-jerk reaction everytime something like this happens. The public has a freakout, demands that more be done, the government imposes new draconian protocols at airports, the scare hubbub dies down within months and then the public is fed up with all the absurdities they have to deal with before they can board a plane. Eventually there is another terrorist attempt involving a plane, the public has a freakout... Rinse, lather, repeat.

After the so-called “shoe bomber”, Richard Reid, tried to use his sneakers as a weapon, the rest of us had to start taking off our shoes as we go through airport security lines, so they could be scanned for explosives. The latest moron, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, allegedly tried to blow up his undies on Flight 253. Fortunately, the TSA hasn't elected to have us strip down so we can give those a scan, but they do have plans to implement the next best thing — x-ray vision.

No, we don't have to put on a striptease at the airport, but they're still going to have voyeurs check us out in our birthday suits using sophisticated equipment like millimeter-wave or backscatter x-ray scanners.

I suppose I'm not terribly offended. I think people in this country are way too uptight about human anatomy anyway. (I am a bit thankful that the plan so far is to have those giving us the electric-eye once-over in a separate room, unable to actually see us or know our actual identity.) Oh, and supposedly, none of these images will be stored... Health concerns involving these scanners is probably worth keeping in mind for frequent fliers.

Ok, so this equipment might be necessary. In fact, it is probably a step we should have taken a long time ago, along with those machines that can scan your shoe while a foot is in it. This route is certainly better than “enhanced pat-downs”, which is rather self-explanatory. And since TSA has lost a capacity for common sense — as evidenced by 8-year-olds being on watch lists! — running us all through a machine might avoid more idiotic inconveniences than it creates.

Here's my question. What's next?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It takes an East German to stand up to authoritarianism

I read an interesting article at Time magazine about German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While it is impressive that she was the first East German, first woman, and the youngest German Chancellor, it's also rather impressive that she, unlike some other European powers, has been rather supportive of the United States and our efforts in Afghanistan.

I was impressed But I was surprised at her speech to Congress back in November:
"This is why the ability to show tolerance is so important. While, for us, our way of life is the best possible way, others do not nec­essarily feel that way. There are different ways to create peaceful coexistence. Tolerance means showing respect for other people’s history, traditions, religion and cultural identity.

But let there be no misunderstanding: Tolerance does not mean “anything goes.” There must be zero tolerance towards all those who show no respect for the inalienable rights of the individual and who violate human rights. Zero tolerance must also be shown if, for example, weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of Iran and possibly threaten our security!"

I did not realize that she had met with the Dalai Lama ahead of meeting with the Chinese and pissed them off royally...

Now why couldn't our President Obama do that? Oh, right, because we owe the Chinese too much money...

It's a disgrace that we have become so beholden to a regime as draconian and callous to human rights as the Communist Chinese government. Placating an authoritarian government like the Chinese is not what I expected from Barack Obama, who has touted the importance of recognizing human rights.

Just before the new year the Chinese government executed a British man for drug smuggling. The man was said to have mental health issues and had contended that he was duped into smuggling the drugs into the country. Does the Chinese government take such circumstances into consideration. Not really... And do they care about offending the West, in this case Britain? Nope.

Here are two articles (BBC News; Time magazine) about China's illegal "Black Prisons".

And what is our government doing about any of this? Not nearly enough...

[UPDATE: At least Google may finally be doing something about the censorship of the Chinese government. ]

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Setting the record straight

A blogger tonight, over at the Daily Beast, attempted to cite a bogus quote from campaign manager for No on 1-Protect Maine Equality, Jessee Connolly.

The quote this homophobic bigot provided was, "[we] will not quit until we know where every single one of these votes lives." The suggestion here, of course, was that Mr. Connolly was threatening to find out where every voter who voted to prohibit same-sex marriage in Maine lived. The blogger added: "And that, my children, is why Americans are rebelling against the easy answers of the gay marriage advocates. They hate bullies. They don't respond well to people who think they have moral superiority and history on their side telling us that they're going to force us to do something we know is wrong."

In all fairness, I did some research on my own and found that many right-wing, anti-homosexual sites have been reporting this grossly out-of-context quote. But this blogger has a tendency to use any abrasive comment by a homosexual or homosexual rights advocate as being a "poster child" for why the entire homosexual movement should be completely dismissed or viewed as some sort of danger to society. 

Here is the actual quote in it's proper context:
“We have always said this would be a razor-thin election and that’s exactly what it is. We have the cities, but we don’t have all of the towns. We have the towns, but we don’t have all of the absentee ballots. If you ever doubted for one moment the power of a single vote, well, tonight should dispel that notion. Voting does matter. Every vote counts. And I promise you: We will not quit until we know where every single one of these votes lives.” ~ Jessee Connolly
I felt that it was very important that the truth get out on this, since others are using it as evidence to indict same-sex marriage advocates at large as a bunch of thugs.

Friday, January 08, 2010

A never ending struggle against those without and those within

And so, while I challenge the homophobic Christianist heterosexuals over at The Daily Beast, I, too, must deal with the same sort of anti-homosexual/anti-equality rhetoric over at the Independent Gay Forum. And from one who claims, supposedly, to be one of us. Seriously, what kind of self-respecting homosexual attempts such dubious arguments against same-sex marriage and makes such vitriolically sweeping generalizations about homosexuals? In my estimation, none.

Frustrating though it is, and thankless though it is, I do find it rewarding to deal with these types, to challenge them, discredit them and their arguments. But alas, it's easy to forget, at times, that these types really are in the minority and ultimately their agenda will be defeated.

Combating terrorists while preserving our liberties; way of life?

President Obama offered a fairly good speech yesterday in regards to the recent terrorist attempt by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab on Dec. 25, 2009.

Here are some highlights and some personal assesments I have of them:

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Exposing Republican lies

Rachel Maddow does it again. She nailed the lies being perpetrated by several leading Republicans, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. Jim DeMint, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, and Congressman Peter King.

I'm really glad that these goons are getting called out on this (Huffington Post article). I'm really fed up with the blatant lies being perpetrated by these partisan hacks who put scoring political points ahead of rallying around their President. A President who, unlike the previous one, is putting a desperately needed focus on combating Islamic extremist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

On a similar thread of GOP reckless, partisan, dishonest hyperbole — an article at the Daily Beast

[EDIT: Count former Mayor and Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani to the list. These liars just completely ignore the facts, reality, events from the past 8 years, and using craven deception they try to capitalize on terrorist attacks (or attempts) to further their political agendas. It's disgusting. It's unpatriotic.] 

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Economic Savior?

Consider me a skeptic when it comes to many aspects of the economy, including the bailouts of 2008/2009. But I found this article at Time magazine about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke very interesting.

As many already know, Time magazine awarded Mr. Bernanke the 'Person of the Year' back in December. It was quite possibly a good pick. I'm certainly glad they didn't pick Barack Obama. I think we've had enough cult-of-personality among the media with Mr. Obama thus far.

As usual, Time explored much about Mr. Bernanke's personal life and background. Including his humble beginnings, which were poignant, and fine for context. But there were other elements of the article that I found particularly interesting. Some highlights:

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sex-slavery in India


This week, Christiane Amanpour had a segment on her CNN program {originally aired October 25, 2009} about the horrific sex-trade in India. It was informative and infuriating. {part 1; part 2; transcript}

Her guests were Ruchira Gupta, filmaker of "Selling of Innocents" and Taina Bien- Aimie, executive-director of Equality Now.

An excerpt from Ruchira Gupta:
"Of course, you know, anyone's heart bleeds when they know a seven-year-old is in a brothel. But what I've noticed is that because we sort of accepted the prostitution of adult women, slowly our threshold changed. And from adults it went down to the 17-year-old, the 15-year-old, the 13-year-old, and now the seven. "So, in fact, the acceptance of the prostitution of anyone who is female affects us all. So I think we really have to focus on, to turn this thing around, where prostitution has become so normalized, that it's leading to trafficking and transport of girls from one place to another, just for this purpose -- is that we have to really go for laws where we can go after the demand for prostitution. And once we start dismantling that and spread the message that cool men don't buy sex, then maybe we can start turning things around."

Some of the nauseating statistics cited on the show included 1.3 million children in India who are currently being used for prostitution. 1.3 million!

Stories of young girls ten and twelve-years-old who are forced to 'service' men 10 to 15 times a day.

Between the teenage pregnancies in brothels, the transmission of STD's, the human suffering from such degradation and abuse and the ruined lives of girls and women... One cannot even begin to fathom the personal misery and social calamity of all this.

The only bright spot in this disaster was knowing that at least some in India as well as some International organizations are actively working to combat this crime against humanity and have had some success.

This article at CNN was also a very sad but revealing look into rural prostitution in India, as well as this article from New York Times op-ed writer Nicholas D. Kristof.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

When energy-savings becomes fleecing

I found this TIME magazine article indicative of ever popular attitudes among the more liberal advocates of "green" technologies and the requisite social engineering that tends to accompany it.

Author, Bryan Walsh wrote:
“Among those opportunities will be the chance to improve electrical efficiency so much that utilities will be able to forgo adding new power plants. Right now, consumption usually peaks in the afternoons of hot summer days, when air conditioners are throbbing, and ebbs in the middle of the night. Utilities always need to ensure that they have enough reserve capacity to meet the moments of highest demand.


But if utilities were able to track electricity consumption in real time, they could price power according to consumption rates — higher during peak-demand times and lower during the ebb. Customers could then adjust their consumption. The result would be a flattened demand curve, reducing some of the need for utilities to build new, often polluting power plants.”
Yes, well, we can all adjust our consumption now. Wear warmer clothes in the house when it's cold, less clothes when it's hot. The difference here is that under the “smart” system, when you need electricity the most it'll be most expensive, and when you're in bed and don't need it it'll most likely be cheapest. So the real result here is that we all pay more, as utilities make more profit.

My biggest problem with this, outside of how it smacks of paternalism, is that just as in the case of leftist notions of taxing the price of gas to $4-5, this will disproportionately affect the poor and middle class.

If I'm wealthy, I don't care if gas is $5 per gallon, I can afford to drive that Hummer every day on my 60 mile commute, and the 100 mile trek to my lake house. And if I'm wealthy, I don't care if I will pay more per kilowatt-hour to run my air-conditioner at 2pm than at midnight — if I like it 60 degrees in my house at all times, I'll run that air-conditioner wide open all day long because I can afford it.

Those in the lower-economic classes, however, cannot afford to ignore such things as peak prices and exorbitant gas taxes. So, we may just have to take the bus rather than drive our car to work. We may just have to turn that AC off from 1pm-7pm.

Of course, to many leftists pushing a more radical-type environmentalist agenda, this is measured as “progress”. More and more we — the poor and middle-class — continue to be pushed to live pre-industrial as if were trying to bend everyone to some sort of enlightened Utopia. But it isn't progress to those who are made to pay more and give up some fairly basic comforts.

Now while I readily admit that some of these technologies will certainly be beneficial to society — the environment, aiding people to better manage some of the waste in their home and being able to use smart-alliances to turn off or move them to low-usage states during peak hours — nonetheless, utilities adjusting electrical rates based on peak and off-peak times is not an improvement, least of all to those who are already the most financially-distressed. And what much of this often comes down to are elitists who talk a good game about conservation, for the rest of us, while they're allowed to pig-out in their consumption because they're willing to pay for it with off-sets and the like.

As far as I'm concerned, we can look upon much of this as yet another attempt for government and big-business to fleece those who already carry the biggest burdens — the poor & middle-class.

At the end of the article, Mr. Walsh concluded:
“As the world works to find a way to deal with global warming at the U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen next month, it's important to remember that the cheapest way to cut carbon is not to emit it in the first place.
There is much truth to this. Absolutely. But someone should really tell Al Gore.