Thursday, March 29, 2007


Per the NY Times:

Fox News Channel is announcing today that it has cut a deal with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute to sponsor two debates, one with Democrats and another with Republicans in the 2008 presidential race.

Getting my earplugs out now. Not gonna touch this one with an extra-long broomstick.

Memories of a Catholic Boarding School: St. Albert's Hall Revisited

Buckdog sent me off on a tangent with this statement, "I am a recovering Catholic and have spent years undoing the idiocy and fear they infused in my life when I was a child."

Coming from a long line of Catholics that I can trace back to at least the 16th century I could easily understand his statement. Nope, this isn't going to be a long rant against Catholics in general, it has more to do with the way many people blindly put their faith and trust in churches and their official representatives in general.

Now I was probably a whole lot less traumatized by the Catholic church than he was, where I grew up it was the Baptist church that specialized in tormenting the local population. My parents were respectively, a (psychotic) agnostic who thought Billy Graham was an intellectual giant and collected books on "Black Magic" and a confused Catholic who barely got over believing in the Easter Bunny. Both were highly prone to "magical thinking" but were not exactly "regular churchgoing folks" so our churchgoing was limited to occasional forays in the company of schoolfriends from more traditional families.

Those visits were usually limited to about one visit after which we would decide that whatever church it was we had visited was as nutty as our parents. I've personally attended at least one service at nearly every Christian denomination in existence in the US including Mormon, Jehovah's Witness and even Pentecostal where I observed the phenomena known as "speaking in tongues". That was freaky but that's another story.

Anyhow, that's just some background. When I was 11 my parents in their infinite wisdom decided to send me to Catholic boarding school. No, it wasn't some sudden religious rebirth on their simply seemed like a good place to stash an inconvenient child.

So off I went to St. Albert's located in beautiful Boerne, Texas. They don't keep a website regarding their secondary school program and I believe the average school shopper would have to find them via a referral from the church.

I wasn't there long but in the short time I was here are just a few of the highlights of things I saw:

Frequent, regular "discipline" in the form of whippings with a wooden paddle on bare bottoms in full view of other students.

A girl forced to stand in front of the entire student body and eat a full carton of cigarettes after being caught smoking.

A girl who was used as "slave labor" who had to scrub the communal bathrooms, floors, classrooms, etc. before and after school and on weekends and was not allowed to participate in after-school recreation to pay her tuition. She was 13.

The worst incident I was a witness to: a girl (age 13 or 14) who was caught in some infraction that I never found out the exact details of who was expelled. The expulsion was certainly within the schools' rights however prior to being escorted to the airport for her flight home the good sisters tied her to a bed, spread-eagled, with a rag stuffed in her mouth to prevent her from talking or screaming and then escorted the entire student body single file past her to "see what happens to bad girls".

Um, yeah, that one did it for me. I ran away less than a week after that sideshow.

My point is, parents either did not care what happened to their children or in many cases....blindly trusted the religious "authorities". No one believed us. Matter of fact, both the local police department and the nearby San Antonio police department staunchly defended the school and the Benedictine sisters who ran it.

Ok, its ancient history now. I'm not interested in trying to get some payback for 30 year old wrongs. What horrified me when I looked them up was discovering this.

The good sisters are now operating a federally funded Head Start program. Somehow this strikes me as not exactly a great idea. Maybe they've changed, I don't know but if it were your child....would you just assume that?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Just Trying to Be Fair

Alrighty, I needed to laugh and John McCain and Yahoo travel guide presented me with a primo opportunity. I laughed myself silly.

In the interest of at least attempting to be fair though I'll say this: McCain was right. Three years ago. He was correct in saying that we had not deployed anywhere close to enough troops to stabilize the situation in Iraq. On that one issue he was correct but he did what nearly everyone did and did not look at the big picture.

I agreed with him, we didn't. The problem was then, and even more so now, we don't have the numbers that would be needed to do so. Even more significant is the fact that we most definitely do not have the numbers that we would need to do so for any length of time and that is key to the entire issue.

No one with the slightest comprehension of the social and political realities in Iraq is confused enough to believe that we could stabilize the nation via military presence in anything less than a generation. A generation would be the optimistic view, we'd probably be looking at several generations.

Now, is there anyone who believes we can and will maintain a troop presence in Iraq numbering in the hundreds of thousands for a period of 50 or even 10 years? I don't believe that for a minute but unless that is what we commit to we are accomplishing nothing but putting off the inevitable moment when we will be forced to accept reality and withdraw.

Yes, executions of citizens are down significantly. They are down because we have our military essentially babysitting the Iraqi police, many of who were the same people making up the "death squads". They can't run around killing the citizens with those doggone Americans watching their every move in Baghdad. Not stopping them elsewhere but in Baghdad at least it has slowed them down.

That's a good thing but now what? Stay until every Iraqi with insurgent or death squad ambitions dies of old age? Based on their previously exhibited ability to devise new and different ways to kill, maim, and torture I'm fairly certain it's only a matter of time before they figure out a new tactic to subvert our attempts to squelch the violence. Yup, I have faith in their ability to thwart all attempts at imposing civilized behaviour. No, I don't think that means all Iraqis so get off the soapbox...I'm talking about those Iraqis who have a penchant for this sort of behaviour.

In the meantime we have a whole new generation growing up in this nightmare. I have to go back to my background in mental health. A person's prognosis is largely based upon their baseline, baseline being the optimum level of functioning that person achieved prior to becoming ill. It's nearly impossible to return a person to a better state of functioning than they had before their troubles began. So what do you suppose the baseline for Iraq's children is? Murder and mayhem and hate for every other religious or ethnic group and especially the Americans.

You see why I say it would take generations for a military presence to stabilize the country?

Is Iraq going to sink into chaos if we leave? Most likely, yes. Is it going to anyway? Most likely, yes. Is it possible to at least soften the blow with diplomacy? Maybe.

There's the other insurmountable obstacle. This administration cannot negotiate effectively with anyone. Not even if they really, really wanted to. No one on the planet likes, trusts, or respects them except for the roughly 20% or 30% of westerners who believe the earth is only 8,000 years old and are secretly hoping we'll just kill all of the middle easterners and have done with it.

If the rest of us are truly interested in saving as many lives as possible both American and Iraqi we have only one possible course of action. Impeach Bush and Cheney. If we truly had looked at the "big picture" we would have already done so. Getting them out and appointing an interim government to begin diplomatic negotiations is the only logical course of action.

Well, that's assuming we actually do care about the situation for more reasons than as a bone of political contention.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Vote McCain and Win a Wingnut Dream Vacation

Now that John McCain has informed us that "we are starting to turn things around" in Iraq and that one can now safely drive about in an unarmored vehicle I need some help.

Please help me select a hotel for our dream vacation to Baghdad.

1. Al Mansour Hotel - this review almost sold me on it:

Although only at the Mansour hotel for a conference, I found it had many positive features. There is almost continuous Peshmerga presence, rendering the hotel safer than many. It is conveniently located only a few hundred meters from the International Zone, minimizing the risk of roadside bombs. The pool is beautiful and almost always empty, and mortar impacts are rare. The manager was very accomodating to our security requirements, the AC blew cold, and no one was killed. A great stay!

But this one left me undecided:

First of all, let me say that if you are going to to Iraq and stay in a hotel and you are are CRAZY!!!!!! This hotel is filthy, the rooms are filthy, the food is horrible. Staff is friendly, but who knows what is really going on in their mind! I would rather be homeless in the worst part of America than to stay in Baghdad again.

2. Palestine Intl Hotel - a possible 2nd option with more mixed reviews.

The most comfortable accommodation in the middle of a dangerous civil war you could ever hope for. The camouflaged tanks in the checkpoints outside the hotel are a nice touch.

Well I was not beheaded, so that alone is a plus. The pool is a great place to avoid shrapnel

The location is excellent. The food was great and the swimming pool simply fabulous. The only downside was the walls are too thin. I could hear the guy next door farting for hours. It was disgusting. Located near a wonderful shopping district.

I'm leaning towards the latter if I can get confirmation that the nearby shopping district still exists and they still give out the complementary burkas.

Special thanks to Mr. McCain for simplifying my vacation planning decisions.

The Political Spectrum: One Assmonkey's View

Other than being able to say without equivocation that I'm a Democrat I've never been able to self-identify politically. People who agree or disagree with me on various issues can't even agree on the appropriate tag to hang on me so how am I expected to?

If you think about it most of Europe would consider at least 80% of us "rightwing" and most of the rest of the world considers us wildly liberal if evil, capitalist tyrants. Ok, I have not a thing against Europe but let's be really honest, most of it has more issues with division by race and class than we do. We do have our good points, even when we are racist/classist most of us have enough self-awareness to be embarassed about it and not deny that it exists.

You can't even get consensus from one region of the country to another. Most of the southeast thinks Schwarzenegger is a "liberal hippie" and northeasterners figure anyone with a shotgun must be a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, redneck hillbilly.

So if believing in equal civil rights for everyone is "liberal" or "progressive" then I'm a progressive liberal....or "liberal hippie" depending on your point of view.

Not wanting to cook the planet on broil would I suppose make me a "tree-hugger". Oh, wait a minute, believing we can use the market to help effect change and expecting individuals to take personal responsibility for the impact of their own lifestyles would make me conservative though, wouldn't it? Oops.

Being opposed to invading Iraq put me in the category of so far left I was called a "terrorist enabler" but initially supporting our continued presence there in the hopes of being able to stabilize that which we had broken tossed me back upon the rightwing dung pile.

Realizing quite some years ago that we were completely failing in that mission at first labelled me a "liberal hippie" but over time has made me positively......mainstream. Go figure.

Being strongly pro "fair trade" wins me the evil, capitalist pig award in many camps and a "commie-sympathizing socialist" award from the right. Socialism is a beautiful theory, I could live with it....good luck getting all the SUV-driving, newest-toy-on-the-market buying, Mc/Mansion-owning people to agree to it.

I don't like the current senate bill for troop withdrawal for many reasons so that would make me a rightwing warpig, right? Wrong, I want us out of Iraq as much as anyone. I'm not opposing the bill either because a) it will be vetoed and b) pressure from the base forced their hands...they passed the bill that they could get passed. Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it, eh? The only thing it accomplishes in reality is showing that percentage of voters smart enough to figure this one out that we have elected a lot of people who have to be bribed to do the right things and it should effectively get the hardcore protestors to leave the elected officials who are trying to further their cause alone.

Then there is the hoohaw about which candidate is best on GLBT rights and who said it best. I don't care very much what they say or how they say it....what will they DO. Fact: not one of them is going to espouse same-sex marriage, some will make more noise about not being opposed to it but they are not going to vote for it either. Not going to happen. Civil union? Pretty much all of them. Biggest question: based on track records which one(s) are most likely to make the issues a priority? Or to put it more simply...who's most afraid of the big, bad wingnuts?

Same story on immigration. No Democrat OR Republican is going to deport 12 million people, I don't care what they told you. Ain't happenin', wingnuts get over it. Only difference will be whether they get to stay as underpaid slave-labor under a rightwing sponsored "guestworker" plan or as human beings on a path to full citizenship under a leftwing "path to citizenship" plan.
Rightwing plan might seem great to the racist-pigs out there but before you jump on that bandwagon keep in mind that such a plan would affect your wage scale, plan B would probably force it higher.

Healthcare, there are pros and cons to either a single-payer system or making changes to the existing market based system. I'm either a commie-socialist or an evil, corporate-owned whore on any given day, roll the dice, just show me the money.

So what exactly does that make me politically? A person who cares about results and tries to choose the path most likely to be accepted, implemented and gain at least some if not all of the results I want. Either that or I'm a tree-hugging, liberal, progressive, communist-sympathizing, socialist, rightwing, capitalist-pig, redneck, hillbilly, who owns a shotgun but has never shot anyone or any living thing, drives an economy car and lives in a very inexpensive house but has a weakness for very expensive linens. Yeehaw.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Insane Prophecy of the Day

Since I love making seemingly ridiculous predictions and don't get terribly bent about missing the mark sometimes (unlike some of the anti-Fox debate folks who having won the battle are attempting to keep the battle alive, please, you won, now let it die) I have one that ought to set at least a few people either laughing or screaming.

I'd give it at least a 30% to 40% chance that Arnold Schwarzenegger R-Governor of California will endorse....Bill Richardson. Crazy, huh?

Think it through. Schwarzenegger cannot run for president, he cannot run for governor again, he's young and I do not believe tired of politics. That leaves a senate seat. A senate seat currently occupied by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in a heavily Democratic district.

Schwarzenegger has nothing to lose by offing his party and everything to gain by endorsing a Democrat. Even so I don't see him doing a total backflip over to the far left and there is only one candidate who's platform is reasonably close to his own, Richardson. Most of the Republican candidates are miles away from matching the Gubernator on nearly any issue besides the very obvious fact that endorsing most of them would end any chance of him ever being elected in Marin and Sonoma counties. Say what you will, the Gubernator is not retarded, if I know this then you can bet he does too.

It would also fit in quite handily with his recent calls for bi-partisanship.

Ok, it's a longshot. A very wild longshot but I figured out a long time ago that if I could think it, it could happen.

Chris Matthews Goes Ballistic UPDATED

Wow. I have no fancier words for it, just Wow. I've never seen him nail someone to the wall like he did today. Sadly the video and transcript will not be up until late Monday so if you can, catch Hardball on re-run tonight or wait till Monday when I'll post it as soon as it's available.

Hint, and this is from memory so probably not an exact quote: Matthews: "would you Republicans be as staunchly defending this war if it was Bill Clinton's war".

He stopped short of clobbering his guest over the head with a chair but damned if I didn't think he was considering it.

Update: the transcript is only mildly interesting, it wasn't just what he said so much as the way he said it. For whatever reason MSNBC did not post a video of this segment of the show, shame because more of this and less yada, yada, yada, might convince me to watch more often.


Tomcat at Politics Plus has awarded me the Thinking Blogger Award. The award is also a meme. By accepting it, I must pass it on to five other bloggers, whose blogs make me think, as must the bloggers whom I choose. The problem is as Tomcat says, I visit so many fine thought provoking blogs choosing will be a challenge.

Lucky for me some of my possible choices have already been tagged: Politics Plus, Did We say That Out Loud?, Buck Dog, and Fundie Watch are already taken. I'll do my best and please don't be hurt if I didn't tag you...if you are linked here I value your blog but I can only choose 5.

1. The Tome of Communism - I have to choose Woozie because he gives me hope for the future. He isn't quite old enough to vote yet but it doesn't stop him from weighing in on any and everything with more depth than a large percentage of adults could. I might agree or disagree with his takes on things but the important thing is: he IS thinking about them. I'd love to see who he is at 30 or 40, he's going to be even more amazing.

2. The Omnipotent Poobah - storyteller extraordinaire in addition to his sharp political insights. As if that were not enough, he has the gall to also be possibly the best true "writer" of us all. Why he is not on a bestseller list somewhere is beyond me although being omnipotent and all, perhaps he doesn't need to bother.

3. The Field Negro - keeping me in touch with reality on the ground isolated as I currently am here in white-bread land. If you haven't checked to see if you are, his You Might Be a Field Negro If.... will tell you where you are on the scale. The active commentary can be as eye-opening as the interesting posts. Probably not for the thin-skinned, pulls no punches. I'm up for the occasional bruising, no pain no gain is accurate in this case.

4. Sparrow Chat - an "outsider" looking in. A Brit experiencing life in the American Midwest. Having a fascination with looking at my world through alternate lenses R.J. Adams is simply irresistible. His occasional post dealing with his own feelings of alienation from all that he is surrounded by speak to me in ways my own countrymen seldom can. I don't run around crying as a general rule, he's made me cry more than once, homesick for a home I've never experienced and am not convinced even exists.

5. The Vigil - man on a mission. To quote his mission statement "It's a simple program: Congressional majorities by November '06. Oversight by January '07. Impeachment (double!) by January '08. Troops home by January '09. Quite simple. Try to keep on schedule. If you fall behind, you'll never get it done. " Like the program or not Vigilante is clear about his goals and stays on mission. Very active commentary and opposing viewpoints are welcome but must stay on subject and have a point other than on the top of the writers' head or they will be deleted. He does not suffer fools gladly.

So many good ones, so little time and I had to choose five....Nevadans don't be sad, I decided to stick with non-local blogs for this meme, you know I read all of you daily.

If You Drink Too Much Kool-Aid You WILL Get a Pimple on Your Ass

I've tried several times to comment on a post written by the ever Omnipotent Poobah about our political culture of corruption. Actually he takes it further than the typical kneejerk squealing I usually hear about all those naughty politicians which is probably why he is one of my favorite bloggers, he tends to do that.

I ended up not commenting but not because I disagree. I agree completely and it's central to what has been giving me a huge case of too-numb-to-write a coherent sentence and increasingly less than enthusiastic and hopeful about the '08 election.

I haven't written very much at all about either Bush or Cheney. Actually I haven't written anything at all about a lot of people and events that have captured media and blogging interest. It isn't because I don't notice it, it's more a case of all of it looking much like different versions of the same story to me.

Certainly Bush, Cheney and all their minions are a problem. They are not the problem, Americans are. They did not stage a military coup and wrestle control of the country from us by force, Americans handed it to them. Fox network did not use a secret mind-control weapon to force Americans to slavishly follow Bill O'Reilly who I am convinced is the direct descendant of the very first snake oil salesman. Nope, Americans did that voluntarily. We have insane fools like Inhofe attempting to legislate based on his interpretation of biblical verses because....oops...Americans voted him into office. Yes, even after this, "Inhofe outraged some federal employees on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by stating on national television that there probably weren't very many casualties because federal employees wouldn't be at their desks at 9 a.m. and that they would instead be off having coffee somewhere." Oklahomans still voted him right back in. Lookee here Oklahoma, don't call me the next time one of them thar tornaders wipes half your state off of the map, m'kay. My cup of empathy is running low.

All of the above people and more are just symptoms of the problem.

I'm looking forward to '08 because in all seriousness, nearly any change will be welcome but I'm not overly optimistic. I can't get past the fact that the same voters who got us all into our current predicament will be the people deciding our fate in '08. That's not very encouraging.

There is an old Native American story I recall that says something along the lines of if your brother falls behind you should wait for him to catch up. If he falls behind again, you should help him carry his load and wait for him. If he still falls behind you should leave him because he is not your brother.

I'm seeing a lot of Americans who are not my brothers.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Let's Talk About the Weather

I've been watching the Monthly & Seasonal Outlook maps from NOAA for about 5 years now so in light of the interest generated by yesterdays testimony on Capitol Hill, I thought I might start posting the newest monthly maps for the US.

As you can see, above average temperatures are forecast for much of the US on this map which is for April-May-June. This is nothing new and has consistently been the case since at least 2002. Probably longer but I did not check every month prior to that.

They also publish long term precipitation forecasts however they'd be the first to tell you that precipitation is much more difficult to predict beyond the very short term.

The areas with projected higher than average temperatures vary from month to month, sometimes contracting to a smaller area and sometimes covering the entire US but two things have been consistent for all 5 years.

1. Two areas are consistently in the above average zone: Alaska and the area right where I am sitting covering northern AZ and southern NV.

2. The average area covered with above average temperatures has grown larger over time. Four and five years ago it was frequently only a small area encompassing the above mentioned areas. The last two years on average it has covered at least 50% of the US.

Another point that may explain why people in the west and southwest seem to be more responsive to this issue: the east coast with the exception of southern Florida is the area most often not experiencing higher than average temperatures. This has also been consistent over the same 5 year period. Don't get too excited and think you're safe though....those areas are also being hit with increasing frequency.

Anyway, I'm going to start posting the newest monthly map and those of you who visit here can draw your own conclusions over time or visit the site itself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reality Check: Al Gore is So Over Us

I"ve been half-listening to the jaw-flapping accompanying Al Gore's testimony on Capitol Hill and I have to laugh. I might be completely crazy but I don't think either camp gets it, Gore is over us. Totally. We had our shot, we blew it, he's done with us.

The rightwing insists his testimony is "politically motivated" because in their narrow little worldview, in which they judge everyone's motives by what their own would be, they assume the only reason he would be as passionate about the issue of global warming would be to win votes. The leftwing believes he is passionate about the issue but that he will run for office so he can implement his plans.

They both miss the truth entirely. The truth is he really is passionate about the issue and he has no intention of running for office because he can do more to influence change by doing exactly what he is doing and not being in elected office. He isn't beholden to anyone and he does not need to focus on any other issues. Solve your own Iraq troubles, he's busy saving the planet.

He's a man who, whether you love him or hate him, owns his own life. That is something very few people seem to be capable of understanding about certain brighter-than-average people. They have goals and ambitions but very often their goals and ambitions have little or nothing to do with what mainstream American society assumes are the ultimate prizes. Running for public office would be a sacrifice for him and not one he is likely to make unless forced to by circumstance.

I can just imagine him shaking his head and laughing when he listens to us rattle on about his "true motives" because unless I am seriously misreading the man, he's marching to his own drummer.

The Case For Not Keeping Up With the Joneses

You can count me as one homeowner/investor who is not terribly upset about the drop in real estate prices. Everyone has already weighed in on the downsides to this development but I really can see an upside here.

For starters, I'll be the first to admit I really don't care if it's perceived as a "conservative" viewpoint....I believe in home ownership. I see it as being nearly as important as food and medical care. Yup, that important.

Where I differ from the "conservatives" is in believing that it's important for everyone, not just those of us lucky enough to have decent incomes and sterling credit. People need their own space that is truly their own and not some set of rooms they are allowed to inhabit at "the pleasure of" a landlord or an anonymous property management company or even some well-intentioned governmental agency.

It's really a no-brainer...people who do not own their homes, no matter how expensive or inexpensive, do not have a vested interest in their communities. We can't even begin to address social and economic inequities in this country when nearly half of our citizens don't have a prayer of ever owning their own space.

Thanks to various governmental programs and the boom in "creative" financing the latest figures indicate home ownership in the US is at record levels. I'll leave that alone though in truth I'd dispute that figure. The trouble is we got there not by having available, affordable housing but by creating unrealistic terms and conditions which rather than providing a "leg up" to the most vulnerable buyers instead provided a cash cow to speculative buyers.

Real estate is an investment but we've done what we always do, we got greedy. We stopped living in our homes and started viewing them as ATM machines and temporary quarters to inhabit until we could double our investment and move on to the next better thing, always counting on the people behind us to continue pushing prices higher. So we've finally hit the wall and there is no longer anyone behind us. It was bound to happen and anyone surprised at this turn of events has been living in a state of extreme denial.

What part of a nation filled to overflowing with service sector employees making barely above an already substandard and unrealistic minimum wage cannot afford to purchase even a $150k home are we not getting? Particularly not going to happen in the very communities that most need the labor and services provided by those same workers where their sheer numbers have pushed the cost of rentals through the roof.

So now prices are dropping. GOOD. They need to drop, I doubt they will drop anywhere close to where they need to and most likely the cycle will continue. Hopefully, much as I was able to in the California housing crash of the '80's, some people will be able to take advantage of the situation. Unfortunately it won't help those on the very bottom of the wage scale. They'd still have to give up little things like eating, medical care and child care to be able to save enough to make a down payment...even assuming they could afford the monthly payment on the simplest of homes.

As much as I'd like to sell and relocate I would really be far more pleased if home prices dropped to half or less than what they currently are because it would put nearly everyone into a home of their own and put the investor classes straight out of the real estate market, as they should be. Homes are an investment but not just in a dollars and cents kind of way. They're an investment in people and communities in ways far more important to us as a nation than people like me being able to "flip" and make bank.

For the record, yes, I've put my money where my mouth is and sold (to people I hand-picked, not random lucky investors) twice for prices that convinced everyone I was psychotic. Maybe I am but hey, I'm doing just fine, not missing any meals and I feel no guilt whatsoever, I'm officially NOT a part of the problem. Besides, if I believe in anything it's that "what goes around, comes around" if for no other reason than the way you live your life will determine the results you get. Just something to consider when deciding whether to go for the big profit or instead to take an opportunity to walk the walk and possibly do your bit to make a difference just because you can.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home Improvement

I've been semi-ignoring the news and political spheres for a few days since we decided to start refurbishing our shack instead of attempting to sell and relocate in the middle of a real estate meltdown.

Ok, to be honest, I sort of decided the matter by threatening to commence throwing our furniture out of the window and host a marshmellow roasting bonfire. Based on past performance, DH figured I was fully capable of making good on that threat. Yes, I'm evil.

Once room #1 was emptied, I, in my less than infinite wisdom, decided that redoing the entire floor was a great idea. This did turn out to be a great idea and it looks fabulous but in case you are thinking of doing this yourself, here are my 3 important tips to keep in mind:

1. Make certain you are married to someone who is proficient in handling power tools and construction. If I had attempted this project on my own I would now have a dirt floor, possibly no walls either.

2. Assume he/she knows what they are doing and don't bug them. Bring beer at reasonable intervals. Acknowledge them as the God of Home Improvement that they truly are.

3. Stand back and admire your beautiful new floor.

Friday, March 16, 2007

From My Mailbox (which I should check more often)

Nevada Up North sends this:

Petition for a Western "Frontier" Debate click to sign the petition.

This petition encourages the Nevada Democratic Party to find partners for a "Frontier" Presidential Primary Debate to replace the successfully defeated Fox News debate.

A "Frontier" Debate is defined as: Partnering with online sponsors such as but not limited to PoliticsTV and YouTube to broadcast a debate over the internet. That the contract of such a debate allows it to remain in the public domain and that a special emphasis be placed on highlighting the "Frontier" of American politics using technology.

I had expressed my doubts about the effectiveness of such a debate at least as far as the rural and western vote is concerned however....I'm not opposed to it if there is enough interest from wherever it comes. You decide.

New Widget

Added the weekly Pajamas Media Presidential Straw Poll. No, I only get to vote once a week same as everyone else so all those 381 votes for Richardson are not mine.

UPDATE: C'mon Edwards and Obama voters....need a lot more votes to re-skew their numbers. Busy re-doing some floors and stuff this weekend, try to get back soon.

Don't Think This Made the News Today

Didn't see this on the news today so I thought I'd put it here, feel free to pass it on.

March 15, 2007

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Calls for Repeal of US Military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today called on Congress to repeal the US Military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" regarding homosexuality. The Governor also repeated his reaction to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace's remarks that homosexuality is "immoral".

The Governor issued this statement: "I do not believe that homosexuality is immoral, and I believe Congress should repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' I voted against it when I served in Congress. People should not be judged based on their sexual orientation. Throughout my entire career I have fought for equal rights and against discrimination of any kind.

While others talk about doing the right thing, on my watch in New Mexico we've made significant progress. I support civil unions or domestic partnerships, and as Governor I have passed hate crime legislation. I also supported and signed legislation extending civil rights protections based on sexual orientation, and I ordered that access to health insurance and benefits be extended to the domestic partners of state employees.

The remarks by General Pace are unfortunate and the Administration should reject them."

Guess that ought to clear up any confusion as to where he stands on this issue.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Media Moments I'd Love To See

While we're busy asking candidates and media personalities stupid personal questions, just for fun these are a few I'd enjoy hearing.

Reporters ask....

1. James Dobson of Focus on the Family if he is jealous of Mitt Romney.

2. Rep. Barney Frank if he feels heterosexuality is immoral.

3. Hillary Clinton if her church is "separatist" and too non-inclusive of non-midwesterners.

4. Rudy Giuliani if he feels being seen dressed as a woman on national television will win him the crossdresser vote.

5. Nancy Pelosi if she washes her hands after shaking hands with Dick Cheney.

6. Harry Reid if he wears Mormon underwear.

7. Anne Coulter when she first realized she bore a striking resemblance to Skeletor.

8. Condoleezza Rice if she approves of extra-marital sexual relations or recommends self-gratification.

9. Dick Cheney if he feels he's been discriminated against as a mean, unlikeable old white man.

10. George Bush how being a redneck has impacted his struggle for world domination.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Oh Darn, I'm Not the Queen of the World

A mini-dust up a few days ago here in the Silver State. Sometimes I like to digest things a little before I go off half-cocked on a rant.

Seems State Senate Transportation Chairman Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas said, "I don't think any legislator is too worried about what cyberspace bloggers are doing".

Oh my, them's fightin' words. Or are they? I couldn't locate any inner outrage over this.

First off, if it matters at all, his comment was in response to comments made by conservative commentator, blogger and activist Chuck Muth. Apparently that means NV republicans do not care what conservative bloggers are saying. I'm certain they don't care what centrist, progressive, or liberal bloggers are saying either so I guess that sort of includes all of us. Ok, good to know where you stand anyway.

To be 100% honest though, I have to be the first to admit that I would not want a legislator who ran willy-nilly every time the blogoshere spoke.

Have you really looked at the blogs? I mean a lot of them, not just the ones you agree with or like. A huge percentage of it is outright lies, half-truths and illogical fruit-loopiness on every side of the fence. And that is just the political to semi-political ones.

I went trolling for blog posts re: Richardson the other night, boy was that fun. I found everything from a post about Richardson, Governor of....Arizona (tell me we are not this retarded) to a blatantly twisted attack on him filled with outright lies and twisted half-truths posted at, believe it or not, the Daily Kos. I even found one arguing that his true goal was to stage a "Mexican takeover" of the United States and another declaring that he would "deport all immigrants". Hmmm.

Yes, I think Nolan is wrong, some attention should be paid. The blogs are great for getting an idea about where various segments of our population stands, what concerns us and why BUT we are only a small, representative sampling of the population at large. Let's be honest, most of the MAJOR big blogs are heavily skewed towards a hardcore base either liberal or conservative. They do not represent the vast majority of voters who are a far less partisan mix of views and values.

Any politician taking his/her marching orders from either DKos or LGF is out of their tree. They'd have to be completely insane to follow any of us 100%. They'd also be out of office purty darn quick.

We matter but so does everyone else, we're just one piece of the pie.

Placing My Bets in Nevada

Rick at The Next President Visits Nevada posted his guess-timate for the outcome of the '08 election so just in case anyone actually wonders or is confused, I thought I'd post my best guesses.

Sadly I think Rick is mostly correct...Giuliani is most likely the guy we have to beat and that is likely to be much more difficult than the pundits who are focused on the fundie-values voters might lead one to believe.

Most of the far right are more than happy to put their "values" on the back burner in exchange for what they believe is a tough-guy who will keep them safe. They're scared and they aren't real bright so someone they believe is more likely to "blow stuff up" is what they are looking for. Rudy fits their he-man schoolyard bully self-image.

Obviously I have chosen Richardson as my #1. Mostly because I do believe his past performance and credentials are the best of the bunch but also for another very important reason: he is the one most likely to be able to win a national election. Face it, even if every single registered Democrat loved would not be enough votes to win the country. We have to take the center.

Ok, the other candidates:

1. Clinton: I don't hate her, she is not a terrible candidate overall and we could do far worse but: what are the odds she can win the country? Slim to none. Very large, very strong "I hate Hillary" sentiment running through the mainstream and the hard left base has abandoned her....she has no solid ground. Not a chance in hell she could take on Giuliani.

2. Obama: my #2 choice. Smart, popular and populist. A bit too populist for my taste but hey, no candidate is perfect and I think he might be able to win. Maybe. It would be by a very slim margin if at all but I see at least a possibility. Might be able to go toe-to-toe with Rudykins.

3. Edwards: regardless of my personal views about him there is reality to contend with. Edwards will never win the country. It simply is not going to happen, America is not going to give him the love no matter how much his base loves him, not if every Dem in the country votes for him. Ok, maybe if all the Republican candidates died. Rudy would have him for brunch, smothered in a nice Alfredo sauce. Nominate him and say hello to another 4 years of right wing nutty goodness.

4. Biden: his time is past. Some of his ideas were their time. Their time is long gone and he has not kept up with changes. Always running a few feet behind the situation. He might be able to stand up to the Rudester IF he had popular support. Which he does not and is not ever likely to get.

5. Dodd and that other guy: do I even need to say anything? Never going to happen.

So there it is. I don't just want a candidate who agrees with my views on every single issue, I want one who is pretty much in line with what the Democratic party is supposed to stand for (which is essentially all of the current candidates) AND I want one who can win the country. If and when other or another candidate shows me he or she has the right stuff to make it so...I'm open to it.

We keep losing because we keep nominating candidates who will not play in middle America. How many ways on how many days do I have to say that? Liberal and progressive numbers are growing, slowly but surely but we are still far away from being a solid majority, we can't afford to discount the middle and sometimes that means having to act like adults and realize we cannot have our own way on every issue all of the time and right this minute. In that spirit, I will vote for whoever ultimately is our nominee and hope he/she wins. I just hope we can get our chit together and pick a winner for a change.

Maz Jobrani

If you haven't seen Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil Comedy Tour" you might want to, it's hysterical.

Maz Jobrani was my favorite.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Now I'm Happy

Fox news is now beginning to launch an attack on Governor Bill Richardson which tells me....he matters. You bet he does you wingnut buttmonkeys, he's the biggest threat to your little nutwing paradise so keep yakking. He can use the free publicity since he does not have the gazillion dollar bankroll some of the others do.

Now if I could just get Anne Coulter and Bill O'Reilly to call him some ugly names........

Plea for Restoration of Sanity

Mimus Pauly at Mockingbird's Medley has a 3-post series on "Liberal Outrage Fatigue" that does a fine job of expressing what I've been feeling regarding most of the numerous "outrages" that have been fodder for the MSM and blog-o-sphere recently. I seriously doubt we're the only ones suffering from this syndrome.

In any event, in the spirit of expressing my own case of LOF I thought I'd make a list of at least some of the issues I have not cared to address here.

1. Anne Coulter says faggot: is this surprising to anyone? We know who and what she is, now more people know this too. Beats masking her true identity with a smile and softer words and hey, it's costing her dearly.

2. Gen. Pace calls homosexuality "immoral": it's what he believes. Out of line for him to express this sentiment as a spokesperson for the military. His career is probably over.

3. Ailes makes tasteless Clinton and Obama jokes: again, is this surprising? I've certainly made tasteless (insert name of any Republican candidate) jokes. Granted, I'm not the spokesperson for anyone. Bad move for the head of a major network but for anyone who was in doubt...shows his true colors.

4. Congressman Obey loses his temper with liberal activists: not the best thing he could have done but if you harass a person long enough about situations over which they have little or no control (ie: making other members of congress vote the way you'd like) they are likely to snap eventually. Go harass the republicans who keep voting "no". Quit acting like assmonkeys and biting the hands that feed you.

5. O'Reilly blames toddlers dying on illegal immigration: um. Over the top even for O'Reilly. When even Geraldo thinks you are a racist, xenophobic,'re done for. Bye, bye Billy-goat, have a nice retirement.

6. Walter Reed: not something new. We've failed miserably at caring for our military personnel for at least 50 years. Bush DID make an already bad situation (which incidentally had begun to improve during the Clinton administration) worse and deserves blame for his part in it but we all share the blame here. We ignored it.

Those are just a few that come to mind but you get the idea.

Meanwhile we do what we've learned to do while our country continues to degenerate into a mass of sectarian political fighting, our citizens continue to live in poverty and lack access to healthcare and social security and medicaid teeter on the brink of bankruptcy: run around in circles and scream and shout. Oh yeah, there's all those people dying over in that Eye-Rack place too.

I don't have a problem with people being angry with many of these things, I'm probably as angry about them as anyone but I think we need to remember the real focus which as I recall is change. If we cannot nominate a candidate who can win at the national election it's all for naught and the song remains the same.

Just something to think about.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Whatever Happened To.....

I hate when a news item catches my attention then just goes poof. No follow up, no conclusion, not even a mention. Sometimes I just have to go look it up and see if I can figure out why.

I was interested in the news about David Brown, the inmate from New York's Rikers Island who was arrested for allegedly offering to pay an undercover officer $15, 000 to decapitate NY Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Sounded kind of cheap to me, something smelled funny.

I understand now why some people might not want this story to grow legs because if the real details of this case were to become much publicized, quite a few people will be looking plenty foolish.

Turns out Mr. Brown is a) mentally ill b) confined to a wheelchair and c) penniless. I do not dispute that he is indeed a "danger to self and others" but considering he was already incarcerated in addition to all other factors, I have to ask: why was a mentally ill, wheelchair bound offender locked up in Rikers and not in a facility designed for violent and/or dangerous mentally ill persons?

Nope, instead the state of NY in it's infinite wisdom sent him to a penal facility where he could in turn be victimized by other inmates, then, acting on a tip from another inmate police sent in an undercover officer posing as a hitman to get a taped interview....with an insane person. Pure genius.

I worked with the "violent and dangerous" mentally ill for many years. They say things like this and are fully capable of appearing coherent and rational while trying to convince you that Vladimir Putin has planted a listening device in their closet or that they are the leader of a terrorist organization and are going to kill the president.

Contrary to the general public misconception, most mentally ill people do not rant, rave and drool 24/7. Some never do at all but they are still very much out of touch with reality and anyone who has ever worked in the justice system would know this and would have known this man was severely ill.

Crime must be slow in NY.

I hope Mr. Brown ends up in a secured treatment facility where he would be held until he could be deemed "no longer a danger" by a court. In cases such as his that is usually a very, very, long time if not forever. There is no "determinate sentencing" in the mental health system so a person may be detained as long as needed, whether that is 1 year or 100 years. They also are likely to receive much better treatment (no, it isn't all that cushy, just far more humane than prison) which works out better for the public. When you send a mentally ill person to prison he or she is far likelier to be released sooner and to be even more violent and potentially dangerous upon that release.

Where is the ACLU when you need them?


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Two Posts From Featheriver

He's said it all for me here so I asked his permission to re-run them in their entirety. See below.

What the Democratic Presidential Candidates Have to Say

Dennis Kucinich on Yucca Mountain:

"We can't find a good way to deal with a bad idea. We've got to find a way to move away from the bad idea to something that is sustainable. "
- Dennis Kucinich, Democratic Ohio Congressman running for President, in reference to Yucca Mountain. Wednesday, March 07, 2007.

Bill Richardson on the Mexican Border Wall:

"This idea of a wall is asinine, it's dumb. Desperate people will go over and under it and the Congress didn't fund the wall in its entirety so it's just a cheap political vote. "
- Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, Democratic candidate for President discussing immigration issues. Tuesday, March 06, 2007.

John Edwards on Regulating Gambling:

"I think there are some things that we should take more control over than we're doing now and I recognize this may not be popular here in Nevada but I think some things particularly betting on college sports is troublesome to me. I think internet betting is troublesome, which is essentially completely unregulated. "
- Former Senator John Edwards, Democratic for President, in answer to the question "Do you believe the Federal Government should take a role in regulating gaming?" Monday, March 05, 2007.

Joe Biden on Illegal Immigration:

"It's not like a group of poor Mexicans are sitting in a rural village saying why don't we gather every cent we have, give it some criminal who's going to put us in the back of a truck with no ventilation, smuggle us across the desert, we may die and then go to a country that doesn't want us, that doesn't speak our language. One of the things we have to understand is as long as there is this magnet of 2, 5, 10, 20 to 1 disparity in wages, this is going to continue. "
- US Senator Joe Biden, Democrat running for President, discussing his thoughts on legal and illegal immigration. Tuesday, February 27, 2007.

Chris Dodd on Nevada Federal Land Sales:

"You're gonna get me, you're gonna play games with me North and South Nevada. I have got to be careful about this one. This is like San Francisco and Los Angeles. You go ahead and ask the question. Are we almost done I hope? "
- US Senator Chris Dodd Democrat running for President humorously ducking a question about Federal land sales in Nevada and where the money goes, including the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Monday, February 26, 2007.

Their comments tend to give you a clue as to how they think.

Nevada Newsmakers
Post by Featheriver

Mixing Richardson and rurals could help turn Nevada blue

Erin Neff, one of my favorite columnists for the Las Vegas Review-Journal has a column Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson would probably love.

Neff writes, "Not only did Bill Richardson get a seasoned Democratic operative to lead his Nevada Team, he got one who knows how to fire a rifle."

What!? A Democrat who monkeys around with guns? Can't be. Democrats are opposed to guns aren't they? They want to take our guns away; I know that because somebody told me they did.

No so at all! The Nevada Democratic Party even has a plank in their platform which supports ownership and use of guns. Those people who think Democrats are opposed to hunting and guns are just plain mistaken. But, I digress.

Erin goes on, "When you travel outside Las Vegas and talk to voters in Elko, Lincoln and Nye counties, you find plenty who could go for Democrats if the candidate was fairly fiscally conservative and "doesn't try to take our guns."

"Kristian Forland is an Elko Democrat who goes to Lincoln Day dinners. Bipartisanship isn't a dirty word in Elko. And plenty of Republicans are planning to attend the Elko Democrats' Kicking Ass Skeet Shoot next month at the Wells Gun Club. The winners get shotguns."

Right on Erin. I wrote about Forland's "Kicking Ass Skeet Shoot" a few weeks ago suggesting the Nye County Democratic Central Committee do the same thing here in Nye County. It would counteract the misunderstanding of many people who believe Democrats are against guns. Might even, as Neff suggests, prompt some to "convert" to Democrats. My suggestion went like so many of them do, into cyberspace, never to be heard of again. I still think it's a good idea. If only I could find another Democrat who might agree with me and then badger the Nye Central Committee in putting on such a shoot here in Nye County. I doubt they're even aware of the suggestion.

Back to Neff. "You can't really get too more gun friendly," Forland said.

Richardson's new state director, Roberta Lange, is also a former rifle champion.

"Richardson, the New Mexico governor with the best resume to be president, knows the West. Democrats rightly believe the path to the White House in 2008 runs through the West, where voters like their guns and open space almost as much as they dislike taxes and government intrusion.

"Nevada has done nothing politically to suggest it doesn't fit that mold. Voters have declared the state pro-choice and approved medical marijuana at the same time they have sought to restrain taxes and have elected fiscal conservatives statewide," Neff writes.

Neff gives Democrats some advice. "But unless Democrats reach out to Republicans and independents in Elko and Esmeralda counties, you can forget about Nevada going blue. And unless Democrats reach out to all voters nationally, the White House isn't going to change parties.

"When you reach out to people who don't know you -- whether on Fox News or in Carlin -- you're more likely to open people's minds. The true believers won't budge, but there are plenty who will.

How else do you think Democrat Jill Derby came close to beating Republican Dean Heller last year despite having nearly 48,000 fewer registered Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District? And how else do you explain Fox News' ratings dominance nationally, even in the bluest of places?

More pertinent observations from Ms. Neff. "Forland thinks the candidate who comes to Elko, shakes some hands and looks voters in the eye will have the advantage in the Democratic caucus -- and possibly beyond."

She's right. During last fall's pre-election season I wrote criticizing Jim Gibson for ignoring Nye County in his quest of the Governorship. I commented, "You ignore us, we'll ignore you on Election Day." Sometime after that he did show up in Nye County a few times. But it was too few, too late.

The Presidential Candidates will be prudent if they heed what Forland is saying. You don't show up in the rurals, get some dust on your shoes, rub elbows with us rural hicks, then you won't get many votes in the rurals. We (the rurals) ain't Las Vegas or Reno but you're going to need our votes to get the nomination.

Theresa Navarro is Richardson's northern field director. According to Neff, Navarro has already "laid the groundwork for Richardson in Lyon County and is planning a traditional rural tour next week."

"Richardson is not only good on guns, he has rebated taxes and knows energy and water. He's also a heck of a hands-on handshaker if he decides to campaign in the rurals…."

John Cahill runs the Nevada Outdoor Democratic Caucus. "Cahill believes outdoors issues are critical not just in rural Nevada, but also to peel away Republicans gun owners in labor unions and other traditional Democratic constituencies."

Cahill is right. Nye County would be wise if they contacted Cahill and use his expertise in building up the Democratic membership in Nye County. There are some 1,500 more registered Republicans than Democrats in Nye County. There is a huge 3,000 group of Independents in Nye as well. A lot of them are union members. Nye County should be working on those groups.

Anybody paying any attention out there?

Las Vegas Review Journal
Post by Featheriver

Saturday, March 10, 2007

NOW I Get It!

I was having a difficult time trying to understand the Christian Right's obsession with Israel both pro and anti because it seems there are two distinct camps and at least a few others in between with equally bizarre and extreme views.

This music video has cleared the matter up considerably.

Caution: Not for the kiddies or workplace viewing. If Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell is in the room, give them a pan to drool in and save having to mop the floor afterwards.

Why I Love YouTube

Blog-cruising I ran across this music video at The Sudanese Thinker and being the nosy, always curious person I am I had to troll YouTube for what else I might find. Here's just a small sample I wanted to share, hope you enjoy.

From Sudan:




An Ethiopian group singing what I'm told is a Sudanese song

Much more out there go have your own look, funny what you find when your eyes are open.

Friday, March 09, 2007

I SWEAR He Never Called Me

Richardson is out of the debate according to Kos so it will either be a Hillary-Barack slugfest or far more likely, no debate at all.

Good riddance to a nuisance issue.

Hat tip: Las Vegas Gleaner

UPDATE: It's official, the debate has been cancelled. Head on over to the commentary if you want to join in kindergarten fun in deciding who gets demerits and how many for what they did or didn't do and why. Nice of Kos to break the news for us but ya, I remember why I don't hang out there. If this is the biggest issue you use in deciding your vote for the man or woman who might become leader of the free wonder we're in deep shit.

Democratic Implosion: Part What....100?

Yippee, we didn't have enough to fight about now we're going to throttle each other over how and when to get out of Iraq.

My stance: we should already be out. Since we aren't I'd like us out as soon as is humanly possible, like today would be good. Reality is we have to get enough votes to pass any resolution which will most likely be vetoed by the Naked Emperor regardless. Pick one that has the most support and go with it or hell, stick your neck out there and support all of them and hope one flies. It's not an "either or" situation if your real mission IS to get our troops out of there.

The Great Fox Debate: cancel the whole debate. We've elevated the fight to the point of pissing off everyone and are now in the process of killing not only the candidates themselves but in some cases are now waging war against the state Democratic parties themselves. Cancel it and end the fight. So we'll miss an opportunity for more publicity, beats getting more publicity for being dingdongs. Half the country already thinks all Democrats are dingdongs, why give them
more ammo.

I'm sure we can find more "talking points" to fight about but let's do a little damage control, m'kay?

In the meantime, my favorite comedian gives us the scoop about what is really in Dick Cheney's leg.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Alabama Loves Cucumbers

I have to add to my last post. If you are watching sci-fi to get your groove on, consider consulting a medical professional UNLESS you live in Alabama in which case we all understand your plight.

Mark Day explains it all.

Geek-a-vision Rant

I keep hearing that Battlestar Galactica gets fantastic ratings.

Who the heck are these viewers? I'm a major sci-fi geekette and this show is nothing more than a soap opera in space gear.

I understand that some of the geek guys think Starbuck is hot and have odd fantasies about alien chicks named Number Six but maybe what is needed is a Sci-Fi porn channel so real sci-fi fans don't have to be bothered. Sorry guys but we'd rather watch Carter who keeps her issues in check than Starbuck who's issues have issues. See, if someone launches a sci-fi porn channel you can still watch Starbuck sleep with the entire cast and even get it in more detail. The rest of us will stick with Carter who knows how to keep her jumpsuit on. Besides, Vala would kick Number Six's alien butt.

To make matters even worse Galactica pretends to be rough and profane by peppering every other line of dialogue with it's made-for-TV version of cursing. Frack this and frack that. I suppose it fills up the airtime and saves the writers having to come up with something more interesting. Please, just say fuck or drop it altogether. You aren't cool or clever with this ploy.

As for the rest of the casts, how could you even compare Teal'c, O' Neill et al....

To these girlie-men.....

And for real people, if you are watching sci-fi to get your groove on, consider consulting a medical professional. Frack.

Let's Commit Suicide So the Rightwing Can't Kill Us

I'd been thinking about writing something about the difference between being a Democrat or a Republican so I'm going to give it a shot.

It's the difference between being for things or against things.

Democrats are for things. We're for equal rights and equal opportunity. We're for everyone having at least their basic human needs met. We're for trying to talk things out instead of using force as our first option and most of all we are for people. All people, even the ones we don't like much.

Being a Republican is about being against things. Against having to pay your share, against providing for the less fortunate, against equal treatment for all people and certainly against allowing people to make their own choices and decide what is best for themselves.

At least that was how it stood.

I'm beginning to wonder. I've been a Democrat all of my life and for sure I'm not about to turn into a Republican but at the rate things are going I may be left with no party at all.

Lately it seems like both parties aren't about anything but being against things. It's looking like we're going to tear each other to shreds while our opponents march right over us one more time. You'd think we'd have learned by now.

Blue Lyon just said adios to now that they've declared war on the Nevada Democratic party. I've already said my two cents worth about the whole Fox news debate, I'm pretty much done with it and don't care much one way or the other who winds up airing the debate or even if it gets aired at all. I do have a few words for though: exactly who in the hell do you suppose is going to be your voter base in Nevada if you continue waging your little war on the state party? Wild burros or jackrabbits?

Whatever, wage your little war and maybe win a battle just don't act surprised if you lose the war.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It's All About Me

It never ceases to amaze me that as a group we seem to require "studies" to figure out what I would imagine any person possessing a reasonable amount of common sense and normal intelligence probably knows already. I'm not complaining that these studies are done, I don't care all that much one way or the other but are we really this blind? More to the point, do we do anything with the information once we have it?

This recently released study examining narcissism in "generation Y" strikes me, gah, as so many things. Obvious, funny, sad, disturbing, would be a few of the descriptives that come to mind.

I'm going to try not to write a book here but no promises, if this bores you...move on now.

This news was not news to me, I raised three of these "Y" kids. Mea culpa. Being from a massively dysfunctional and verifiably insane family myself and starting out on my own from ground zero both economically and socially I did what most damaged, socially retarded young women with no family support do.....made a horrifically bad choice to marry the wrong person at far too young an age and promptly commenced to making more humans so I could engage in my ultimate driving fantasy of having MY children have an oh-so-much-better life.

So we've now established that despite all test scores to the contrary, I am fully capable of being a retarded dimwit able to make poor choices based on fuzzy, illogical thinking and emotion. Kind of shot my own narcissistic tendencies right in the foot.

I'd be more interested in a follow up study in 20 or 30 years to see how many of them got a clue after life has had a chance to bitch-slap them around a little bit. My guess is it would be quite a few.

Marc Flacks, an assistant professor of sociology, said that he believed that narcissism was too harsh a description for current students and that it was more important to discuss why "we have a society in which narcissistic behavior is a good quality to have."

"This is a bottom-line society, so students are smart to seek the most direct route to the bottom line," he added. "If you don't have a me-first attitude, you won't succeed.

There it is, we created them. We've been out of control egomaniacs for generations and it's only getting worse, where it will stop nobody knows.

Since I blog, therefore I might be narcissistic, I decided to answer the few test questions that were presented in the article.

1. "If I ruled the world, it would be a better place."

Definitely not. I'd get bored and frustrated and tell everyone to piss off. Whole thing would blow up in a great big, fiery ball in space.

2. "I think I am a special person."

A little odd maybe. How "special" could I be with a few billion others of my kind to compete with? Not very.

3. "I can live my life any way I want to."

More or less if I can afford to but I also will reap consequences from whatever ways I choose. I could afford to become a heroin addict but prison would cramp my style.

4. "I like to be the center of attention."

Sometimes, doesn't everyone? Mostly I value privacy over attention though since while I might have rare, occasional moments of bright and shiny coolness the other 99% of the time I probably look anywhere from too mundane for words to outright assmonkey-ish so I'd just as soon not have all eyes on me. I'm too lazy to keep up a "public persona".

Not too high up on the narcissist scale. I don't think I'm "more special" but I don't think I'm any "less special" either. I blog because I've been pissed off since I learned to talk and blogging is much more socially acceptable than kicking random strangers in the shins. I'd love to see other people's answers to these questions if you are inclined to answer them.

Our young people? Wouldn't worry too much, they'll most likely figure things out after they fall on their rumps a few times. Worst case scenario, they won't figure it out and we'll extinct ourselves which does not upset me nearly as much as it used to.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Viva Mexico!

Score another point for Mexico, another state has now legalized civil unions for same-sex couples. In even more un-American, un-wingnut, non-fanatical style the Catholic church in Saltillo is not even batting an eye.

Bishop Raúl Vera, who heads the Catholic Diocese of Saltillo, has declined to condemn the law.

While Vera insists that “two women or two men cannot get married,” he also sees gays as a vulnerable minority.

“We cannot be arch-conservatives and say, 'Don't do that,' ” Vera said. “Today we live in a society that is composed in a different way. There are people who do not want to marry under the law or in the church. They need legal protection. I should not abandon these people.”

I'll save the commentary because Hasta Los Gatos Quieren Zapatos already has it.

Iowans Don't Like Mexicans? Tell Me It Isn't So

According to a poll by the Des Moines Register, Iowans may love the brothers and the sisters but Hispanics might not be welcome at family dinners.

A new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows two-thirds of the state's adults believe the nation is ready for an African-American president in 2008. A smaller majority - 55 percent - says the American electorate is open to choosing a woman. But just 40 percent believe the country is ready for a president who is Hispanic.

The poll covers all Iowa adults - not just those planning to take part in the caucuses or in the 2008 presidential election.

Among Democrats, 66 percent say the country is ready for an African-American president, 60 percent say it's ready for a woman president and 44 percent say it's ready for a Hispanic president.

Not good news to me, that would indicate that roughly 34% to 56% of my fellow Democrats are retarded. Still better numbers than for that other party but I think we can do better.

Come on Iowa Dems and all the other Dems, the year is 2007 not 1963.

Some Days I Think It Might Be Simpler If I Started Smoking Crack

I'm guessing that by now everyone has seen the video of the pot smoking toddlers. I have only one question: why in the hell is everyone acting so shocked?

I'm going to guess it goes back to what I've said before about "mainstream" America being clueless about many things that go on and have been going on in this country for years. I'm thinking this new and improved media access might just blow the cover off of a lot of things, get ready for an eye-opening ride.

I'm in my mid-forties and I can go back 30 years and recall seeing toddlers smoking pot. The first time I saw it I was only about 13 myself and it was not teenagers giving it to them and for anyone who wants to delude themselves that this is an inner city, race-based was by the toddlers' white, adult parents. Truth is, every incident I ever saw of children being given marijuana involved white, adult parents. White, adult parents in small town America.

Excuse me for not getting very excited about teenagers doing this...teenagers across the board usually do not have real good judgement, m'kay?

Shame I don't have video of the time I saw an 18 month-old baby and his 6 year old sister running around a table that was covered with a scale and plastic baggies and a large quantity of methamphetamine. Shocking? Not really, it's a lot more common than middle America wants to know about.

The biggest difference is white people get away with it more often because law enforcement, courts and social services don't look at white people as hard. We can do shit and never get caught. When we are caught we are more likely to get off with lighter sentences or receive "treatment". I worked in the damned system for many years, I don't need any studies to tell me that.

The truth is that children living in drug infested environments are not usually difficult to spot. Most of the time everyone knows it, their teachers, neighbors, probably even the mailman but there is no realistic system in place to help them. Jailing their parents lands them in an overburdened foster care system and often subject to even worse abuse and neglect than they've already experienced because believe it or not, even drug-addicted parents with serious emotional problems usually love their children, foster parents don't.

Besides, if we did actually gather up all of these children they would number in the millions. That is the cold, hard fact.

If we compiled a list of the names of the children who have died while in foster care it would probably form a bridge all the way to England. That wouldn't even begin to touch the ones who lived but suffered emotional and sexual abuse.

So what to do? First off we need to wake up and acknowledge how prevalent this sort of thing is and quit acting like it's some kind of freaky "isolated incident". Take off the blinders people.

The rest is not as difficult as one might think. The welfare of our children will never improve until we improve the welfare of their parents. We just can't adopt them all out to Angelina and Madonna, we have to be there for the parents so they have the resources to be better parents. Or we can continue to ignore reality and do nothing except when some incident makes it onto our nightly newscast and allow generation after generation to continue in a downward spiral creating it's own version of America and then scream at our lawmakers to lock more people up when it impinges upon our way of life. At least until there aren't any more of "us" to scream about anything. That strategy has been working out really well for us hasn't it?

At what point is America going to begin to comprehend that targeted "social spending" is not a handout. Even leaving out humanitarian concerns and emotion, ignoring social issues like poverty and health care, mental health care and child care, etc. is just not a good business decision. In the long run it isn't cost effective and it costs us more to ignore than it would to address the problems.

How long could you operate a business if you did not supply your employees with the tools they needed to do their jobs? Not very long. So why is it that we seem to think that we can function as a society in any profitable way by not supplying our people with the tools they need to do their jobs?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Just Who's Right to Life Are You Protecting?

I hadn't gotten around to saying much of anything about abortion but Quaker Agitator and The Field Negro both pointed me to a bit of news that ties right in with my stance on the issue. That stance being, I'm pro-choice within limits but in all honesty....I simply do not care all that much.

I find it strange, more accurately retarded, that we are even still having such a heated debate over what should be almost a non-issue at this late date. Since abortion became legal has there been an overwhelming increase in the number of women seeking abortion? No. Has abortion become the method of choice for birth control? No. Do fewer women die due to complications from illegally obtained abortions? Yes.

Be honest, women do not look forward to joining the "I had an abortion" club. We don't actively seek to become impregnated so we can fork over a few hundred dollars and undergo what to most of us is an invasive procedure and one highly charged with ethical, moral, and emotional issues. Having an abortion is just not high on our "to do" list.

I've heard it argued that there is a certain percentage who will deliberately eschew any and all forms of birth control and instead have one abortion after another. I'm not going to deny that those women exist, I can't because I've personally seen a few of them. Then again I've seen a lot of things that go on in this country that mainstream America seems to be clueless about. So what about those women? Well, what about them? The fact is we cannot base legislation on the lowest common denominator and we cannot legislate to protect every idiot from themselves. Not unless we want to live in a Taliban American Style society. I'll take a pass on that.

The Regressive Christian Right will argue that even those babies have a right to live. Mebbe so. Hey Righties, are you going to support them? Are you going to ensure that they live in loving homes and receive good educations, health care and an opportunity for a better life? Your track record thus far says no.

Take a look at the article I linked above. We aren't caring for the very real, living, breathing children we have amongst us now. Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache. Pretty much says it all doesn't it? A 12 year old child died because his family did not have health insurance. Where were all the "Right to Life" voters to support this child and his family?

I'll tell you where they were, busy voting to protect their precious pocketbooks and standing in front of abortion clinics holding protest signs to prove what wonderful Christians they are.

It's a sad day when I, an Atheist, knows your Jesus better than you do. I do too. I know your Jesus would be asking you why you were not looking out for your brother. That little boy was your brother and you stood around waving a sign and flocked to the polls to vote against "social spending" and protect your little greedy selves and you said nothing while your brother died.

Not only are you not Christians, you are also murderers. Big, fat, selfish, greedy, murdering pigs. Then you have the nerve to squeal like the pigs you are that you are being "persecuted". Persecuted my ass. You've run what was once one of the greatest nations on earth straight into the ground, destroyed entire cultures that you either wanted to use for your own ends or simply did not like, and continue to wave your banners while your own fellow citizens die for lack of health care, lack access to quality education and don't stand a snowball's chance in hell of ever even owning their own home.

Then you expect me to get excited about abortion???? Piss off. There is no nicer way to say it. You start putting your money where your mouth is then come back to the bargaining table and I might be willing to hear you, until then you can talk to the hand.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Yes Virginia, Godless Liberals DO Have Moral Dilemmas

I watched the unfolding mess as tornadoes ripped through the southern US and I have to confess to having to struggle between my own better nature and a huge case of schadenfreude. For the families who lost loved ones my better nature is winning, no one "deserves" a fate like that. In the case of a few others, schadenfreude is winning.

Anyone else remember Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin? I haven't been able to get him out of my head the last few days. See, back in 2005 just shortly after hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the good senator was quick to publicly condemn New Orleans and made it clear the people of New Orleans "deserved" their fate, in his view it was "God's judgement".

From his 9/28/05 appearance on MSNBC's Scarborough Country:

I am joined right now by Alabama State Senator Hank Erwin.
Senator, thank you for being with me tonight. You—you...

HANK ERWIN ®, ALABAMA STATE SENATOR: Joe, good to see you.

SCARBOROUGH: You have said a lot of things that have shocked a lot of people. Explain to me why you think that Katrina was God‘s wrath.

ERWIN: Well, I think, if you look at what‘s going on, this whole region has always known that, with the church, that New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are known for sin.

And if you go to a church and you read your Bible, you are always told avoid sin and that there‘s judgment for sin. And I just think that, in my analysis—and I can‘t speak for everybody, but I believe that, if you look at the factors, that you had a city that was known for sin—the signature of New Orleans is the French Quarter, Bourbon Street. It is known for sin. And you have a Bible that says God will judge sin, you can put two and two together and say, it may not be the judgment of God, but it sure looks like the footprint.

So, I just told my friends, in an opinion, I think it could be the judgment of God on the Gulf Coast and on New Orleans. And I would urge the good folks that are the innocent victims to rally and rebuild that city and get a new signature.

SCARBOROUGH: And you wrote this—quote—“New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast have always been known for gambling, sin and wickedness.”


SCARBOROUGH: “It‘s the kind of behavior that ultimately brings the judgment of God. Why were we surprised when, finally, the hand of judgment fell?”

I have got to ask you this, Senator. I was on the ground in Mississippi. We certainly saw the pictures out of Louisiana. I saw young children, 15-month-old babies, who were suffering. I saw, in New Orleans, young children. I mean, you look on TV, you see young babies dying on the sidewalk of heat exhaustion. Certainly, these babies aren‘t sinful, are they? Should they be made to pay for the sins of tourists from Florida that go over and gamble in New Orleans and Biloxi?

ERWIN: Well, I think you need to understand that, whenever—wherever sin goes, the sins of a few can affect the innocence of many.

And I think that you are seeing also along the Gulf Coast, as well as in the neighbors of our good state of Mississippi, a lot of innocent people that were affected by this hurricane. And that‘s the tragedy of sin, is that you never sin alone. You always affect other people. And we have had a lot of innocent people who have been hurt. Here in Birmingham...

SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, Senator—you know, Senator, though, I mean, the thing about the New Orleans—the New Orleans storm is that it was the French Quarter that seemed to be spared of devastation.

ERWIN: Well, I understand that, and I think the lord sent them a message that we need to turn around or we may have another hurricane come.

And I just think the people who have been going in there, the church people have been going into the French Quarter for years, appealing for the people to turn around and get back right with God. So, I think the message needs to go even stronger, please turn around, so we never have to go through this again.

As anyone who knows me would expect I was furious so I wrote to Senator Erwin. I don't recall the exact text of the entire letter but I do recall that along with telling him that his words were reprehensible for anyone and much more so coming from an elected representative of the people I also told him that if there were a God, he could rest assured that God would not look very favorably upon him either. I also said it would most surely suck when one of these days, the shoe was on the other foot.

Damn, this week the shoe was on the other foot. How does it feel Senator?

Now anyone coming from some saner corner of the world might assume that after making such hateful and callous comments on national television the senator's political career would be finished. Surely no one in their right mind would ever vote for such a person again now would they?

Think again, they sure enough did. Voted him right back in in 2006.

So there it is folks. While my heart goes out to the people who lost friends and family, my sympathy is tempered by the fact that when others suffered a similar tragedy the much touted milk of Christian kindness was nowhere to be seen. No, in fact your elected leaders were all too pleased to blame the victims and bask in their own self-righteousness. Rather than condemning them for it, you re-elected them. I'm just not really feeling your pain much.

I know that's harsh, I'm not particularly pleased with myself for feeling this way but it's honest. It's how you've made me and probably a lot of others feel as well. I'm struggling to feel sympathy but also questioning if I even have any ethical reason to feel I should help nourish a viper in my country's bosom.