Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Gold Star Awards, December, 2011

Just so you know, I'm PROBABLY going to be signing off for the year with this post. We'll be travelling from the 25th on and my laptop got a paralyzing virus that will not be able to be removed until after the new Year, when I can take it to the IT Dept back at work. (They're the admins on it, not me.) So until the 5th of January, this is probably it.  I hope all have a save and happy holiday season, stay warm (I'll be in Florida myself!) and try not to get into too many argument with any of the Conservatives in your families. ;)

OK were up to 1970 and have one inductee from the BWAA and two from the Veteran's Committee.


The Lou Boudreau GOLD STAR #43: This Can't Be Happening!

This Blog is a fairly recent discovery for me. It's written by Dave Lindorff, John Grant, Linn Washington, Charles Young and Lori Spencer.  Four writers that can be broadly characterized as principled progressives who are not afraid to be critical of the Administration or the Democrats.  I've not read as much of the work here as I have in other cases, but I have been very impressed by what I read and feel that it is something that you guys would also enjoy and be interested in.  So check 'em out!


The Earle Combs SILVER STAR #41: Atomic Laundromat

This webcomic tells a tongue in cheek story of Superheroes from one of the most unique perspectives I can imagine: The point of view of the guy who runs the laundromat where they all get their tights cleaned!  It has a lot of fun with the typical tropes and cliches from the Super-Hero genre, but also contains some very down to earth themes such as a son's desire to protect his Super-Powered but aging father and the unrequited love he has for his long-time friend. (A fiery red-headed lawyer that I fell in love with almost from the get-go.) A lot of the strips are stand-alones or short 2-3 piece gags, but their is a general storyline and continuity, so I recommend reading it from the beginning.


The Jesse Haines SILVER STAR #42: Hate by Numbers

Next to MMFA, I've probably referenced Cracked.com more often than any other site here.  And this is the personal site of Cracked.com contributor Gladstone. It's funny, topical, political and most importantly of all, unlike Conservative humor, generally well informed.  His recent take on Fox's response to the Muppet Movie is priceless. Check it out!

Merry Christmas, and a Happy Chistmahaunakwanzica to you all!  Hope to see you all back here in the New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Meant to post this ealier...

Someone posted this infographic on MMFA lasty week, and I had meant to post it here and forgot about it until now. It comes from [IMHO HoF'er] Newscorpse and it serves as a pretty handy reference should you find yourself in a debate with any C-Students about taxes or economics. Please feel free to download it and pass it on.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Best Lewis Black clip EVER!

Holy fucking cow, did Conchobhar send me something amazing. (Sit through the part about Apple Juice, it is SO worth it! Behold:


And for the record? I supprt 100%, everything he said following the Apple Juice bit, including his commments on Nancy Grace, Chaz Bono and MMFA 2011 Misinformer of the Year on LGBT Issue Docter Keith Ablow!
Great stuff, Lewis.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now, I also wrote a bit about Chaz Bono a few months back.  It was posted for about five minutes and I took it down. At the time, after re-reading it, I was afraid that it might come off as either misogynistic or homo- or transphobic.  But... I THINK, with all of the other pieces on Gay Rights and Women's equality that I've penned lately, and in the context sharing Black's AMAZING Daily Show clip above, that I can post it now without fear of it being misinterpreted.
(And yes, that last statement obvioulsy excludes William.) ;)
So, here is my quickly deleted post, unedited, from the night of 10/4/11:

Dancing with the Stars (Yeah, I know)

Yeah, you read that right.

I just came from the gym, where I spent one hour on an elliptical, held hostage by the person two machines down from me who watched Dancing With the Stars while she worked out, finished just ten minutes into my workout, but left the TV on when she left. Yeah... That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

ANYWAY about the time I noticed it was on, the Star in next couple up was Chaz Bono. And I'm thinking... Yeah, now there's an interesting story. Maybe I'll watch this. Why not.

Let me say two things, unequivocally:

First: I fully support, 100%, any decisions that Chaz and for that matter any of the transgendered make with regards to how they decide to live their lives. I would gladly watch a million people to make what I, or anyone else, might consider a huge mistake than to ever stand in the way of even a single person's pursuit of happiness. And I will never be able to wrap my head around the philosophy of people who don't think that way.

That being said...?

I'm pretty sure my second point will at least pass (D+) the test of political correctness: Chaz Bono dances like exactly what he is: A very fat, very out of shape, fairly uncoordinateded white man. And it with no irony, or lack of self awareness that I say that I'm not even sure that standing around, walking a little bit and occasionally giving the pixie that's spinning circles around you a push, even qualifies as dancing. It is also with full awareness of exactly why I was at the gym in the first place that I say that a fat man should never, under any circumstances, wear a tuxedo without a cummerbund.

The only one with a more ill-fitting ensemble was Nancy Grace. Now I don't approve of those who go out of there way to attack women on the basis of their appearance. And, hey: She's on the plus side of fifty, and I only hope I look that good when I get there. On the other hand, as she is on the *ahem* plus side, she might have picked something other than a skin-tight dress that showed every single bulge and crevice in high-def. Yeah, that's a cheap shot, but it's NANCY GRACE so... Yeah, like I care. Also, there's just something funny about two people prancing around with their arms in the air when one of them constantly looks like she's smelling armpit.

And yeah, I realize that the cheap shots about Grace are beneath me. (Or should be, anyway.) But it is not about merely being fat, or a woman having the gall to age. After all, Rikki Lake is just as fat at 43, but she at least had the sense to pick a dress with some flowing fabric around it. You know: Something that actually looked good on her?! Oh... and she's was pretty much one of the few "stars" who could actually DANCE.

Now... God willing, I shall never mention Dancing With the Stars, nor Rikki Lake, in this blog EVER AGAIN.

The Pro-Life Abortion Trap

For those of you who follow the day to day drama that's been playing out in the comments section [and boy has it been busy since William's come to town - 46 comments in one thread, which is more than I've had in any of the 10 previous MONTHS this year!] you might have seen that I laid out a trap for William over in the abortion thread that he walked right into. I'm sure it's not original, but I like to call it the "Pro-Life Trap."  And what I intend to teach him (and any other like-minded folks) is that a principled pro-Life LEGAL position either (1) does not exist or (2) is not defensible.

The Pro-Life trap is simple: DO YOU SUPPORT AN EXCEPTION FOR CASES OF RAPE.

And remember - we're talking about the law and our legal opinions, not out moral ones.  Like almost every one of my readers that I've heard from, I am morally opposed to Abortion. And yes, that includes cases of Rape.  The DIFFERENCE between Conservatives and Intelligent People Liberals on this issue is that we don't labor under the delusion that our opinion ought to be legally jammed down everyone else's throat.  Abortion is only an issue of Life vs. Death when discussing it on a MORAL level.  On a LEGAL level it is an issue of CHOICE vs. NO CHOICE.

What's more, if Williams (or anyone else) wants to argue with Pro-Choice folks that DO have insane opinions about abortion, he/they should go over to Jezebel or Feministing. Though, if he does, he should be warned: They will eat him alive

ANYWAY... William chose the easier answer saying in not so few words, "Yes."

What followed was a combination of Conchobhar stealing my thunder and William falling back on that old RightWing tripe trope of claiming to have been taken out of context.  Well, whether he is aware of it or not: he wasn't. And Conch had it 100% correct.

See...

Consider the idea that "Human Life is sacred," and thus therefore never be unnaturally terminated.  Next, consider LITERALLY EVERY SINGLE TEST they apply to the fetus in an effort to PROVE that it is, in fact, HUMAN LIFE, and thus worth protecting. Well, partially out of laziness and partly out of a desire to not limit the discussion to only those tests that I might come up with off the top of my head, I'm not going to start listing them out.  Just PICK A FEW. Whichever ones you want to.  Can you think of a SINGLE TEST for "Human Life, thus worth protecting" that a Fetus will pass, if it was conceived consensually, but somehow suddenly and magically fails if it was conceived forcibly?

Well, I can't.  DNA, living cells, exothermic, grows, replicates, heals, responds to stimulus, develops into a human (OK I lied: I named a few after all) ALL of these apply to the children of the most loving and happily married parents and to the spawned offspring of the most deprave serial rapists EQUALLY.  As one fails, the other fails. And as one passes? So does the other.

So you see, William, while you may THINK that you don't "support abortion as a means of birth control?" On the contrary: YOU DO. You absolutely do. What else do you think is going on here? What... do you think that when a rape victim gets an abortion SOMEONE ELSE delivers the baby? Um... NO. It is, in fact, the very DEFINITION of "birth control" regardless of how you choose to characterize or rationalize it.

In fact, while your position is the already the same as mine MORALLY SPEAKING, (and yes, I say that having read your entire commentary on the matter) the fact is that there is also very little difference in our positions, LEGALLY speaking. You ABSOLUTELY SUPPORT a woman's right to choose under certain circumstances. (Just like me and EVERYONE ELSE HERE!) And the ONLY DIFFERENCE between your position and mine/ours? Is that you choose to draw the line in a slightly different place.  That's it. It is absolutely not one iota more profound a "Pro-Life" position than mine. It is just a slickly stricter Pro-Choice position - one in which you merely delineate the acceptable circumstantial criteria a little differently. The fact remains that YOU HAVE DECIDED that it is LEGALLY JUSTIFIABLE to kill a fetus REGARDLESS OF IT'S LIFE AND HUMANITY and all you done is chosen a different set of criterion for it.  The only difference between you and me? Is that you think a woman needs to get YOUR PERMISSION and satisfy YOUR CRITERIA BEFORE you'll support her legal rights!  (And actually... OMG! So do I! Look at that! The principles of our respective positions are, in fact, ABSOLUTELY THE SAME: We simply draw the line in a different place.) (So either your pro-choice or I'm pro-life. Take your pick.)

So calling yourself "pro-life" if it helps you sleep better at night, but your political and legal position is NOT "pro-life" in any principled way. And there is no need for me to debate you any further on this matter, because anyone and everyone is free to read your comments in the previous abortion post.  Unless you have something REALLY FUCKING GOOD to add to the conversation, I'm inclined to let my work, yours and Conchobhar's speak for itself.

 Now, of course there's another side of the Pro-Life Trap. It's arguably more principled, and attempting to defend it requires both more courage and more stupidity that Williams likely possesses.  It is the position that would, for the sake of not in fact merely being a Pro-Choice-lite position, answer my question, "NO."

No exception for Rape.

And hey, you got to admit: It's principled.

The problem is? It also ABSOLUTELY FUCKING PSYCHOTIC.

It is referred to, very accurately, in Liberal circles as "The Rapist's Bill of Rights."  And it truly and undeniably defines the difference between Liberals and Conservatives, once again, as not being so much about LIFE as they are about CHOICE.  Not allowing Rape victims access to abortion? Completely denies women the right to decide if, and with whom, they will bear children. It says, on no uncertain terms, that it is completely up to ANY AND ALL MEN which women will bear children, how many and when.  It says, on no uncertain terms, that I could go out and RAPE THE SHIT out of every woman I choose to, and while I will be punished fro my action, my progeny - all 257 of them, if I've gotten enough rest - will be protected, and MY GENES shall LIVE ON.  And as for those women?

"FUCK 'EM!" says this position, regarding their rights to control what happens to their bodies.  Reproductive Rights are no longer a matter of legal protection, but rather one of BRUTE PHYSICAL STRENGTH.

Now... This was not William's position, and I do not, for a moment, suggest that it is. (After all - I've already proven that he's almost as 'Pro-Choice' as I am! *wink*) But the morons in good people of South Dakota DID, in fact pass a law that did exactly this in 2006. Unfortunately for rapists the world over, the law was repealed by the end of that same year.  (And for fuck's sake READ THAT before you tell me that 'no one' is in fact trying to pass those kinds of laws!)

--------------------------------

BTW... I refuse to add "or incest" to "Rape" when talking about the exception issue. If the incest in question was not consensual (or statutory) then it can simply be called 'rape' and no further information is necessary. Done. And if it was consensual (*ew!*) then why should it require an exception under a pro-life framework? "Incest" is simply an unnecessary and superfluous addition to "Rape."

Minsinformers of the Year

This year, Media Matters has seen fit to award MULTIPLE "Misinformer of the Year" awards.  As evidenced by my own Hall of Fame (December's Inductee's coming soon) I LOVE this kind of thing, so for those who share my interest and would like to see just how bad the Right Wing Media gets, here are the Media Matters:

2011 Misinformer of the Year: Ruppert Murdoch and News Corporation
2011 Misinformer on LGBT Issues: Dr. Kieth Ablow
2011 Misinformer on Climate Issues: Rush Limbaugh
2011 Misinformer on FOX News: Fox & Friends

While all are well earned and richly deserved, ff particular note are Dr. Ablow's views on the transgendered in general, and Chaz Bono in particular, and Limbaugh's absolute gems on the Global Warming.  Mu favorite might just be (emphasis added):

LIMBAUGH: How did I know global warming is a hoax? 'Cause of who's behind pushing it. Liberals. They lie.
[...] If there ever is scientific proof -- and see, I don't need scientific proof because to me the people who are promoting manmade global warming are a bunch of frauds. They are liberals, they lie. It's not a generalization. It is an undeniable truth of life.
While the absolute absurdity of these statement is both undeniable and self-evident, I am tickled pink to see, once again, further evidence of what I always say:

WHEN YOU ARGUE WITH A LIBERAL, THEY'LL PROVE THAT YOU'RE WRONG.

WHEN YOU ARGUE WITH A CONSERVATIVE, THEY'LL PROVE THAT YOU'RE LIBERAL.

And? BOTH will in fact be right!

And over the years, I think that MMFA has done a good job of calling the person or entity that went above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to carrying water for the Right Wing Propaganda Machine.  Past MIY winners include:

2010: Sarah Palin
2009: Glenn Beck
2008: Sean Hannity
2007: Offensive and Degrading Speech (not just Imus!)
2006: ABC
2005: Chris Matthews
2004: Bill O’Rielly

Interesting reads all.  Well done MMFA. I hope that, in future, you will continue this new tradition of award not only an overall award, but awards based on smaller issues as well.

NOTE: In the next couple of days, should more of the issue-based award be named, I will updated this post accordingly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Teh Gay! Teh Gay! Oh, PraY teh gay AWAY!

Note this was earlier in the week, but I've had like NO TIME to proofread (and, yes, I DO!) edit, etc... and get it posted. I also haven't had the chance to get to any of the comments yet. Sorry about that. I DID read Classic's filibuster reply over on LeftHook, and I will respond to it, but it's just been so crazy around here that I haven't had the chance yet.  Speaking of which...

I LOVE how lively it's been lately!  Everyone's commenting, and debating... And yes, most of the time they're just piling on William, but I've got to admit: It's been a lot more fun and a lot more active lately since he's started commenting! So, William: sincerely and with no sarcasm or irony: THANK YOU for sharing your opinions here. As much as I like preaching to the choir, vigorous and spirited debate (and even the occasionally mean-spirited debate) is what I LIVE for! It's why I do this. So I'm more than happy to have a Conservative who comes in here and lowers the property values speaks his mind.  THANK YOU.

(Plus my ad revenue is over $100.00 now, so unless Google finds a way to weasel out of it, I should be getting a check next month.  It's like I said: I get paid whether there's any merit in what you post or not. So THANK YOU for that as well!) ;)

Now... ON TO THE TOPIC.  I read a piece on MMFA yesterday that really made me angry.  In terms of the media, it dealt with how often representatives of the "Family Research Center" have been interviewed and given a chance to spew their anti-gay rhetoric on not only Fox, but CNN and MSNBC as well! Now it's important to note that  The Family Research Council has been designated as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  And I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone here (besides William) that whenever a Right Wing Think Talk puts the word "Family" in their names, this is almost always a front for a Funny-Mentalist hate group to force their radical and unconstitutional religious agenda down our throats.  In this case, I'm not even sure which word their doing a greater Orwellian disservice to, "family," or "research."

In addition to the mere number of times these inbreeds have appeared on the various cable news networks, it is noteworthy that only TWICE have the networks mentioned that they represent a group that has been branded a hate group by the SPLC! And one of those mentions was on FOX! Imagine that: FOX does a better job than CNN disclosing the Right-wing leanings of their guests! Behold: YOUR LIBERAL MEDIA!

OTOH, considering Fox’s audience, their mention of this probably does more to denigrate the SPLC than to undermine the credibility of the FRC.
SPLC's position on the FRC is summarized as follows:
The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws and anti-bullying programs.
The FRC also strongly promotes the “ex-gay” movement as a way to combat LGBT civil rights measures, though professional organizations have repeatedly called so-called “reparative therapy” (which seeks to turn gays and lesbians into heterosexuals) into question and issued statements that don’t support it. [...]
Part of the FRC’s recent strategy is to pound home the false claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to sexually abuse children. This is false. The American Psychological Association, among others, has concluded that “homosexual men are not more likely to sexually abuse children than heterosexual men are.
And while I have no disagreement with that assessment – and I don’t see how any objective person COULD – MMFA goes on to to include some brilliant statement made by the three most prominent (media-wise) members of the FLC, Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg and Ken Blackwell. It was their personal comments that really pissed me off, especially considering that those "great bastions of Liberalism," CNN and MSNBC were turning to these hate-mongers for political commentary! So what follows will, in it totality, amount to what I think of as one of my better rants. Like all good rants, there's obscenity (so don’t be pussy), but I do still hope to make at least a few of you laugh (those that are capable) and a few of you think (again, those that are capable.) And if do I end up merely preaching the choir? Meh. I still found it personally rewarding to write it.

Gems from Tony Perkins:
“It Gets Better” Project Tries To “Recruit” Kids Into A “Lifestyle” Of “Perversion.”
- Yes! Long live discrimination, the fear of violence and the love of Jesus!
“Research Is Overwhelming” That Gay Men Are More Likely To Molest Children.
- Sure… Except that in fact the exact OPPOSITE is true.
Gay Teens Commit Suicide Because They Know Being Gay Is “Abnormal.”
- …And I’m sure that constantly having genetic defectives like you constantly hammering them with that opinion has nothing at all to do with it.
Anti-Bullying Programs Promote “Indoctrination Into Homosexuality.”
- Note: Violence against children is OK, as long as the kid is a little faggot. Gotcha.
Gay Activists Are Intolerant, Hateful, Spiteful Pawns Of The Devil.
- Question: (1) Intolerant of WHO, exactly? (2) Hateful, Spiteful… in what way, exactly? (3) How exactly would what the Devil… well, I suppose you WOULD know, never mind!
Senators Who Vote For DADT Repeal Will Have “The Blood Of Innocent Soldiers On Their Hands.”
- Wait... Which soldiers?  Mybe the GAY ONES who would face violence and possibly death at the hands of those bigots in our military who happen to think as you do.  But in that case the blood is on their hands and yours. The blod of victims will alwyas, only, be on the hand of those who perpetrate it and enable it.
"Kids Do Worse In These Same-Sex Households. They’re More Susceptible To Violence.”
- Well, yeah, I suppose they are ‘more susceptible to violence,’ seeing as how you lot are so keen to perpetrate violence upon them!
"Gays Are Trying To “Spread Fear And Intimidation So That They Can Disrupt And Destabilize"
- LMFAO. I’ve had friends and co-workers who've been gay. Great folks, all. And, save for one, pretty much the least intimidating people I’ve even met. Seriously? You’re ‘intimidated’ by gays? Seriously? How can someone believe every stereotype about gays and still find them the LEAST BIT intimidating? That’s hilarious! OTOH… Who was it that was perpetrating bigotry and rationalizing violence again? Oh yeah… IT WAS YOU ASSHOLES!!! So… WHO is it that’s trying to intimidate people again? Oh yeah: IT’S YOU ASSHOLES!!! And, uh… what’s so “destabilizing” about two people settling down and building a life together? If that’s destabilizing, I have to ask: WHY DO YOU HATE MARRIAGE?!

Gems from Peter Sprigg:
Anti-Bullying Programs Indoctrinate “Impressionable School Children.”
- TO REITERATE: Violence against children is OK, as long as there a bunch of little faggots.
Transgender People Should “Stop Pretending To BE The Opposite Of Your Real Sex.”
- Um… they’re TRYING TO, douchebag!
Harvey Milk May Have Been A Pedophile, Faked A Hate Crime.
- Oh! Oh! Let me try! Peter Sprigg MAY like to suck donkey dicks! Tony Perkins MAY enjoy watching scat porn! Ken Blackwell MAY like to fuck three men at the same time! Boy, isn’t this fun!
It Is Better To “Export Homosexuals From The United States Than To Import Them Into The United States.”
- Well, yeah, in general it would be nice to close our trade deficit, but… somehow I don’t think that human trafficking is the way to do it, you Nazi scumbag.

Gems for Ken Blackwell:
“Homosexuality is A Compulsion That Can Be Contained, Repressed, Or Changed.”
- I would say the same of bigotry and ignorance and have the benefit of actually being RIGHT. (I’d be inclined to include RELIGION in that as well, but then some might find that offensive.)
“Homosexuality Is A Lifestyle, It’s A Choice, And That Lifestyle Can be Changed.”
- Homosexuality is a PREFERENCE. That is NOT something that can be changed. (Let me tell you: My life would have been a LOT easier if I didn’t prefer Red-Heads; but more on that later.) Following the lifestyle maybe be a choice, but it’s a choice between accepting who you are, and living a happy, fulfilled life and one where you live in repression and denial. But hey: I see what path YOU’VE chosen, so more power to you!
Same-Sex Marriage “Defies Barnyard Logic... The Barnyard Knows Better.”
- That’s interesting. Because the FACT is that homosexuality has been observed in nature in just about every species of animal on earth. But hey: Don’t let the facts get in the way of your fanciful daydreams about barnyard animals. Also… Why should I (or a donkey) give two shits what a pig or a sheep thinks about my (or the donkey’s) choice of a mate?
(see what I did there?)
President Obama Shows Same Respect For Marriage That He Did For Osama Bin Laden’s Body.
- I'm confused. WHAT, exactly, are you saying here? I must be missing something, because Bin Laden’s body was prepared according to his religions sacred rituals and the released at sea to protect his privacy and avoid a spectacle being made and/or it being desecrated. So… You’re saying that President Obama believes that marriage is a sacred and private affair deserving the utmost respect and should not be made into a spectacle? I mean… I’m OK with that and all, but you say it like it’s a BAD THING. Oh, but then you are the people who want to go around telling everybody else who they can and can’t marry, so… I guess that makes sense.

- Unless your suggesting that he somehow desecrated Bin Laden’s body? But then… do you really expect me to believe that you have a fuck to give about what happened to Bin Laden’s body?

So, to recap: The FRC advocates violence against children in and of and minority groups, the deportation of Citizens, the forcing of Religious beliefs upon the populace, and compares said minority groups to barnyard animals. At this point, I would offer that is it neither hyperbole nor a violation of Godwin’s Law that the FRC are bunch of FUCKING NAZI’S.

Now I’m going to say my piece. First of all, let me be clear: I do not research these things. Which is precisely which I defer to the people who do! I can, however, say that, unlike the jack-booted fascists over at the FRC, the conclusions of the research being done are not in contrast to my own observations in day-to-day life, going back as far back as childhood. Take for example the issue of CHOICE.
William tried to make a point about this in one of his recent comments. Something about how he might choose to walk fast, but that shouldn’t give him civil rights as a ‘fast walker.’ Well… I had a friend in college who was six-foot-seven. REALLY tall fucker. LOVED having him on my Basketball team, HATED trying to play against him. (Trying to shoot against a guy who’s 6’7” is like standing in the shade under a fucking tree!) And you know what? Fucker was BORN a fast-walker. And really? And anyone who would complain about the fact that this dude’s gate was about double that of a “normal” man’s stride? IS pretty much just being a dick. Now… Maybe some people are just born dicks, and maybe some people CHOOSE to be dicks. And you know what? It is ABSOLUTELY your civil right to be as BIG A DICK as you’d like too be, either way! Just like... du-da-dahhhh... it IS, in fact, your CIVIL RIGHT to walk fast (especially if your legs go up to my shoulders.) Come on Will, really? Have you ever seen a law passed that says you can’t walk above a certain speed? Or marry someone who does?

Your example is either completely irrelevant or precisely proves my point. I’m not sure which, but try not to throw it right down the middle next time, OK?
Now… returning once again to the real world: Choice. Or… Does one choose to be homosexual? See… there’s a semantic argument, a trap really, at play here. Because the answer is, “It depends.” It depends entirely on what you mean when you say “be homosexual.” Do you me someone who PURSUES and/or HAS a sexual relationship with a member of the same gender? Well, yeah: That’s a choice. But that’s a BEHAVIOR, not an ORIENTATION. To me (and every thinking person who has the slightest clue and more than two brain cells to bounce together) homosexuality is not a behavior, it’s an orientation… a PREFERENCE, if you will . And you don’t get to choose what you prefer.
(Pay attention now, while I show you how analogies are done…)
I didn’t choose to hate bananas. But I hate them with a burning passion and so I choose not to eat them. And honestly? I wish I liked them! I really do. I wish that I could tolerate the taste, smell and texture of this highly nutritious food – one of the best sources of potassium on the market – and I'm sure I would be in much better health if I could. But I can’t. I didn’t CHOSE this. I just hate bananas. And life is too short already to spend it choking down anything I hate that much. So I don’t. See how that works? I also didn’t choose to prefer Red-Heads. But I do: Carrot-topped, Auburn Haired, Ginger, Freckle-Faced, fire-crotches… (dude, really?) I love them all, I can't help it! And as any Red-Head, and any lover of Red-Heads, can tell you: This preference comes with many a life-threatening hazard. I’m not going into details, because if you don’t already know you wouldn’t believe me, but it suffices to say that my life would be a hell of a lot easier, not to mention LONGER, were it not for this dratted preference of mine. Sure… I could have CHOSEN not to have married one… but I had no choice about having such a strong attraction to them.
The CHOICE is not between homo- and hetero-. It is between self-acceptance and self-denial. Fulfillment in your relationships or indifference. Satisfaction in life or dismay. Gratification or needless sacrifice. Happiness or emptiness. It is a choice between following your own instincts and leading the life you want to lead, or wasting the only life you’ll have living to satisfy everyone else around you, none of whom can even claim to give a shit about your happiness or well-being.
Some fucking choice.

Now, I realize that anecdotal evidence does not trump actual research (just don’t tell the FRC!) but I still think it is worth pointing out that my own life’s experiences pretty much jive with what the research has concluded: That people are BORN homosexual. Whenever I’ve discussed the topic, or overheard it being discuss, with friends or co-workers their answer has always been the same. “How long have you known?” “Always.” (Usually with a dismissive hand waving and/or shoulder shrugging.) And even before being fully aware of their sexual orientation, they were aware that something about them was different. And oftentimes, so did everyone around them. A few years back a co-worker of mine came out of the closet. I hadn’t known him that long, or that well, prior to this but upon hearing the news, my reaction was, “I hadn’t realized he was actually IN the closet!” Another coworker has lamented the fate of his family name as he is gay and regarding his only male cousin… “I can already tell.”
Finally I am reminded of this one boy who lived on my block growing up back in Connecticut. He never really fit in with us. We didn’t bully him or anything – at least I didn’t, nor did any of my close circle of friends that I am aware of – but we never hung out either. Sure, I invited him to a couple of my birthday parties, only because he would have been the only kid at the bus-stop or in the Cub-Scout Pack who wasn’t invited otherwise, but neither me nor any of my friends (or the other kids on the block) ever really befriended him. He was just… different. While the rest of us were playing baseball, or soccer, (or Dungeons and Dragons – hey: it was 1982!) he was usually hanging out with the girls in the neighborhood, playing house or tag or some such thing. (And his was in grade-school, mind you, so not a time in which hanging out with girls meant you were some kind of stud.) Well, I moved away and lost touch with him. But years later, in college, I found out that he had also moved away, and ended up graduating from the same high school that my college friends all attended; in the same town that my parents now lived. And upon hearing that I knew him as a child, they pointed out that he was gay, and asked me if I knew that from way back when.
Well… I didn’t. And while I hadn’t given him a though in ten years one way of the other at that point, thinking about it? I was like… “Yeah, pretty much.” I explained that, as children, we didn’t precisely know that he was homosexual. I mean… we were eight. It’s not like WE were into girls or our own sexuality yet either! But knowing this NOW explained a lot of what we observed as kids. It didn’t change anything - not ever having been a bully myself, or ever having harassed him, etc… it wasn’t like this revelation filled me with any regrets. We weren’t friends simply because we had nothing in common. But it did certainly go a long way towards filling in some of the blanks.

Anyway, enough of that. I’ll believe you’re not born gay as soon as an actual GAY PERSON comes forward and tells me so, giving me some time to press him or her to make sure that we’re agreed on the semantics of the question. Until then? Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. I say so, every homosexual I’ve ever encountered says so, and the research done by people who are far more qualified to make that statement than I am says so.
Period.

The next point in debate that I want to address is that of marriage. In the same recent comment William summed up what I’m sure the right considers to be a reasonable position, saying that he “[PP] supports civil unions but has a problem with it being called marriage.” Now I have to make a confession and a partial concession here. Personally? I think that getting hung up on what it’s CALLED is just utterly stupid. Yes, I think it’s stupid for the Williams’es of the world, but I also – for the longest time – would get furious with the GAYS for pressing this point! For the longest time, my feelings were that if they’re being given everything they’re asking for – or shoot, even 99% or even HALF of what they’re asking for – and they would get this if they just accept that it be CALLED something different? Holy fucking shit, just take whatever you can get, you stupid fuck-wads! It’s not like all progress is going to end with any ONE THING! Take what you can get and MOVE ON – to getting more and more and more every passing year and worry about stupid shit like the fucking NAME after all of the PRACTICAL and LEGAL matters are settled!
I felt that way for a really long time, and I’ll have to admit that some small part of me still might. But the other 99.9% of me? No longer does.
I’m not going to make some irrelevant speech about the dangers of “separate but equal.” No one is going to make those with civil unions use a different water fountain or sit at the back of the bus. And the attack dogs and firehouses (or in the modern context: hate crimes) won’t distinguish between the married homosexuals and single ones. Because we’re talking about marriage in the sole context of it being a LEGAL CONTRACT, that carries with it certain RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES and OBLIGATIONS, it would be an almost trivial exercise to create a TRUE “separate but equal” status here. Because let’s face it: The LAST TIME we heard “separate but equal,” it simply wasn’t equal. But it could be in this case. All it would take is a Federal Law stating that any mention of marriage in any Law at the Federal, State or Local Level shall be assumed to read “marriage or civil union,” and that this assumption shall be binding and applied retroactively. One simple, clear statement would settle the “separate but equals” concerns for all time.
There are just a few problems with that...

First of all: NO ONE IS OFFERING THAT! Show me where this is being offered, and I might be inclined to go back to saying, “TAKE IT, NIMRODS!” But there’s also a…
Second Problem: Laws get changed ALL THE TIME. If there was merely ONE LAW that guaranteed this equality? It would only take a change to ONE LAW to take some of it away. Only ONE LAW would have to be repealed to take ALL of it away! Call it marriage? And you’d have to change THOUSANDS OF LAWS if you wanted to take away their rights. And that’s really why it must be called “marriage.” Because that’s what our LAWS call it.
And the more I think about it: Other than a desire to eventually make these two things increasing NOT EQUAL over time, why other reason (beyond placating the bigots) could there possibly be to have two separate names for these things?!
Also… I’ve gotten the argument many times that this should be a STATE issue. That each state should be able to decide how they want to handle it. This is bullshit a complete non-starter. Because while any state may have anywhere form a few dozen to a few hundred laws regarding marriage – including the protection of property rights, work benefits, co-insurance, etc…? The federal laws involving marriage and the rights and privileges of married people number in the TENS OF THOUSANDS. It absolutely MUST be something that is dealt with at the federal level, because it is the federal government that provides the lion’s share of the legal protections, rights, benefits and obligations regarding marriage. Arguing otherwise reveals only one’s own ignorance and arouses suspicions in others of one’s own prejudices.
And really… regarding marriage, or *sigh* the INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE. Really… these arguments from TRADITION are just plain stupid. In my lifetime there were still states where it was illegal for Blacks and Whites to marry. That changed. There remain countries today where interfaith marriages are illegal. And if you go back to biblical times – and up through to about a century or so ago – marriage was little more than a property transfer, as poor families married off their daughters as best they could, and royalty used it as a tool for diplomacy. That’s changed. The institution of marriage is CONSTANTLY changing. And even if you ignore the numerous changes in the way various societies have viewed marriage over the years, you remain faced with countless assaults on the Institution of Marriage far greater than the idea of two men or two women happily sharing a life with one another. In fact, given the divorce rate, the increasing rate of domestic violence, the rampant adultery, the 72-hour celebrity marriages, the bachelor / bachelorette Reality Shows, etc…? I’d say that they thought of ANY two people settling down and loving each other and building a life together would do the institution of marriage rather a damned bit of GOOD, regardless of their gender.
And finally, before closing on the LEGAL issues, I have a challenge for anyone who’s not with me yet.
First of all, let’s realize that as far as our Government in concerned marriage is in fact no more than a LEGAL CONTRACT. Any talk of spiritual bonding, or any other romantic ideal, is completely immaterial to our government. That is the purview (at best) of the individual CHURCHES. And, in case you haven’t heard, we DO live in a SECULAR NATION and DO, in fact, have and recognize the SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. And this is one of those perfect cases that protects the CHURCH’S interests as much as the homosexual’s: Just as the Church (and their legions of brainwashed masses) do not have the authority to tell the government who they can and can’t marry, nor does the Government have any authority to tell any church that they marry, or indeed even recognize the marriage of, ANYONE they don’t wish to. (And the day the gays start ASKING for that, mark my words, I’ll be the first one to be arguing “separation of church and state” AGAINST them!) So you can put aside any mention of Jesus, God, Allah, Muhammad, Vishnu, Zeus, Odin or Ra, not to mention the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, the Iliad or the Odyssey. It doesn’t matter, and the First Amendment of our Constitution says as much in plain, simple English, so don’t waste your time or mine with any of that nonsense. Marriage, in any discussion involving the LAW, is no more than a legal contract.
So here’s the challenge: Give me an example of any other LEGAL CONTRACT that I can enter into with another person or persons where our genders become an issue. There isn’t any. Oh, there used to be. There used to be many examples, seeing as how at one point women weren’t allowed to own land, conduct business, vote, refuse the advances of their husbands, etc… But that’s all been done away with now. There exists now no other legal contract that requires a certain gender to be legally binding. And there’s simply no reason based in logic or legality to maintain gender discrimination in this case. And the “Why?” question that will inevitably rise from that statement leads into my final point:
IT DOES NO HARM.
It does no harm, and it brings great happiness to those people affected by these laws.
Who is harmed?
The parents? Puh-Lease. How long has it been, and in which backwards cultures do parents have any legal say in who you marry? My parents HATED my wife. Fuck ‘em. I loved her, and I remain married to her, and they just had to deal. Parents want grandkids? Hey: It’s only the action of ignorant bigots that prevents gay couples from marrying and adopting, so who’s REALLY doing all the harm there? Natural Grandkids you say? Well, first of all, my cousin, my sister and I are ALL adopted. So FUCK YOU. Secondly, does a naturally infertile couple victimize their parents or society? What’s that? They didn’t CHOOSE to be infertile? Well shoot… The other couple didn’t choose to be gay! What if I don’t marry at all? Isn't that my right? Am I harming my parents then? What if I become a Priest? Sure, not likely, but it’s still my choice, and not one my parents would prefer that I make. I still wouldn't be harming them! And BTW… I have two sons who are AUTISTIC. So if anyone thinks that I would have the slightest iota of sympathy for someone who’s crying over their child being gay or transgendered, my feeling on their "plight" can best summed up as: GROW THE FUCK UP, YOU WHINY LITTLE BITCHES! YOU THINK YOU’VE GOT PROBLEMS? YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A PROBLEM IS! GROW UP, GET SOME FUCKING THERAPY, AND LOVE AND SUPPORT YOUR CHILD, YOU HEARTLESS FUCKS!
Parents always say that they “just want their children to be happy.” Well… time to man up and put your money where your mouth is regarding that otherwise principled ideal. Those who fail this simple test?
Head? Meet brick.
I once had one inbred jackass tells me that it spreads disease. One even told me that it CAUSES it. Ok… I PROBABLY don’t need to spell this out for MOST of my readers, but here’s a simple epidemiology lesson for the C-students out there. SEX spreads diseases. This is true with Heterosexuals, and this is true with Homosexuals. If two people who have no diseases have sex with each other, a MILLION TIMES, UNPROTECTED, guess what? They will NEVER get a sexually transmitted disease. (And, uh… tongue-in-cheek here, but homosexuality is also absent the risk of unwanted pregnancy.) (Just sayin’.) On the other hand… if one person is having unprotected sex with a person who HAS A SEXUALLY TRAMISSIBLE DISEASE… well, it’s really only a matter of time until they contract it. And again… This is true of heterosexuals and homosexuals. And the RATE of transmission is immaterial. That one practice may be slightly more risky than another is completely irrelevant because in each case it is a matter of inevitability.
Chance of my contracting a disease having sex with another man who has no diseases?
ZERO
Chance of my contracting a disease having sex with woman who does has a diseases?

>ZERO
Or…
=f(how many times we have sex)

So again… this is just stupid.
And in closing, because I can already hear someone *cough* probably William *cough* accusing me of trying to “impose my values onto another person” or some such nonsense…
SHUT THE FUCK UP, NO I’M NOT.
Allowing someone to have a choice, and to make that choice without taking away any of the rights, freedoms and protections that the rest of society takes for granted is NOT how you “impose your values” on someone. I am not taking anything away from anyone, and nor does Gay Marriage. As usual, I am arguing for, and defending, freedom. And freedom is not something you can IMPOSE upon someone. Even if I “force” you to live free… What you do next, remains, by definition, your choice. That’s what freedom MEANS. I may not LIKE your choice, but as I leave it your choice to make, regarding your own life and taking nothing from anyone else? Well, I remain solidly on the side of freedom.
The only people who are “imposing their values on someone else” are the religious funny-mentalists that make up the opposition to Homosexual equality. Those people who would say, “NO, you MAY NOT do this thing!” Apply that test to ANY ISSUE, and you’ll see who’s on the side of freedom – those who would protect your choices – and those who are against it – those who would take those choices away.
God bless America and our freedom and the people that he decided to make gay and transgendered.
(And a big ‘FUUUUUCK YOOOOOOU!’ to anyone who’s not with me on that!)

Monday, December 12, 2011

WHAT filibusters?

Saw a hilarious claim made by Fox News being debunked on MMFA today. Apparently the Republicans have NOT, in fact, been using the filibuster, the hold or any other tactics in an effort obstruct the Obama administration who, in fact has accomplished all of his major gosls. I left my two cents on that nonsense there, but it got me thinking…
You may not remember, but like a year and a half ago, ClassicLiberal and I had a disagreement about filibusters. (Steeve said I got ‘owned,’ but hey: it wouldn’t be the first time he and I disagreed.) Anyway, I’ve been meaning to address Classic’s points in that discussion for a LONG time now. To recap (and Classic should PLEASE correct me here, if I’m being inaccurate) his position was that the filibuster should be eliminated. Now, this discussion was happening in the context of filibuster REFORM (which I applauded, at the time) and coming on the heels of a record number of filibusters being waged and anonymous holds being placed on appointees (which amounts to the same thing) I responded that he was only bitter about how the Republicans were USING IT, and about the fact the Democrats never seem to be able to do the same. ‘Not so,’ he answered, and pointed out that the very idea of allowing the minority to override the will of the majority simply goes against the idea of Democracy. And my reaction to that intially was one of pragmatism versus principle. I agreed with him in principle, but felt that I still wanted the filibuster in ‘our’ arsenal, just in case, even at the risk that it gets used against us. (And of course if there was a way to make it less politicized and less AUTOMATIC, I have no problem with that. And that’s why I remain in favor of reform over abolition.)
But over the past year and a half, as I’ve thought about it, I started to wonder if the difference between having a 40-vote filibuster or a 50-Vote filibuster-proof majority is really all that different. So today I did a little exercise. I found some numbers from the2008 electoral roles (from here). And what I wanted to know was this: What would be the absolute minimum number of votes a Party would need to get to achieve the 40 votes needed for a filibuster, vs. the 50 votes they’d need to enact legislation, if the filibuster was eliminated.
[You can skip this paragraph if you’re not interested in the methodology] So I ranked the states by population, skipping DC, which doesn’t have a Senator. Using only the percentage of registered voters who actually voted, I cut that in half and then took THAT number of votes as a percentage of each State’s total (18+) population. I then SUMMED those totals to get these votes as a percentage of the Total U.S. (18+) Population.
Giving no consideration to the partisan leaning of each state in question, I was SHOCKED to learn that a 40-Vote Filibuster could be achieved by Senators voted in by a mere 2.3% of the population. DAMN! On a purely theoretical level, that’s a pretty solid argument against the filibuster even if it is an unrealistic scenario. And if I only used the 20 smallest, traditionally RED States, that number only goes up to 4.0%. Obviously still an absurdly small number to be able to derail popular legislation.
Now let’s say there’s no filibuster. If you take the 25 smallest States, giving no consideration to their partisan leaning, you can achieve a 50-Vote, now filibuster-proof, majority (assuming you hold the Vice-Presidency) with a number of votes totaling just 5.7% of the Population. This goes up to 9.8% if I assume only Red States. And just as a reference, a 60-Vote, filibuster-proof majority under the current system could be achieved with the support of just 10.8% of the Population, (16.0% assuming Red States only,) using the same methodology.
So the way I see it, here’s the big question on the purely theoretical level:
Would you rather have a system where just 2-4% of the population could STOP something from being enacted, or a system where just 6-10% of the population could enact ANYTHING they wanted to?
(And remember that, under the current system of assuming a filibuster every time, and using this methodology, you need just 11-16% of the population to achieve the filibuster-proof majority needed to do anything at all.)
And I don’t think this is a simple question by any means. Neither case resembles by a long shot a populist democracy, where the majority vote should be the deciding factor. In each case, I’m sure either side of the political spectrum (and the center) can conjure up all kinds of nightmare scenarios, about hos the other might use this power; some reasonable, some incredible and some which have already happened. My initial thought was a bit along the lines of a morally relative argument: That it depends on the times.
Suppose it’s the 1850’s. The country has been expanding, but the question of that abhorrent practice of slavery is threatening to come to a head and many fear that this issue may one day tear the country apart. And let’s say I’m President Pierce (or better yet, a hypothetical President Scott) and I want this issue RESOLVED. Well… I could see that the representatives of that mere 2-4% of the population being able to hold up any legislation that could resolve this issue as being far more than a mere thorn in my side. After all: blood will be shed over this, and I want ACTION! From that point of view, I might be inclined to agree with ClassicLiberal, or at least view this as a scenario in which the filibuster MUST be stopped.
BUT… Notice I didn’t say “slavery abolished,” I merely said, “resolved.” President Pierce had Southern Sympathies. And while this pretty much guaranteed the status quo would be maintained, let’s say he had enough voted to, oh... I don’t know… force Northerners to return escaped Slaves to the South or something, thus forcing them to not only enable, but participate directly in this abhorrent practice or else face ciminal prosecution? Oh wait… They had ALREADY DONE THAT! And President Fillmore signed it into law in 1850! Hmmm… Well, it seems that in that case the filibuster might have come in pretty handy to the abolitionists, would they had been able to muster one.
Does that close the case though? Not remotely. Because, I mentioned that hypothetical President Scott. And Winfield Scott was an abolitionist himself. So let’s say he’s the one setting his party’s agenda. If he needed just the representation of 5-10% of the population to END SLAVERY FOREVER? Maybe the Civil War never happens. Or maybe it happens earlier. Who knows?
(And please don’t waste anyone’s time giving me a pre-civil war American history lesson. I’m just using this all as a hypothetical example. I’m not suggesting this is how things actually happened or even worked back then. And I fully realize that I've used it in a somewhat absurd manner.)
And in either case, it doesn’t mean that either of these powers could not be abused. We don’t live in a time where we deal with an issue so fundamentally evil as slavery. And while I’m sure William will yell, “Abortion,” the FACT is that this country is not headed towards a Civil War over that issue or any other. And while we’ve seen filibusters used in an attempt to block undeniably GOOD legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act in the 60’s (and likely any legislation granting full and equal right to the LBGT population today, if the Democrats or Obama had the stones to propose anything,) without the filibuster (or the hold) we’d have had Robert Bork instead of David Souter on the Supreme Court for most of the last 25 years, and no Natural Land Reserves left ANYWHERE that don’t have oil and gas wells on them. And if we’d had a long history of such controversial legislation passing on a mere senate majority, I’m afraid to imagine what we might have seen following 9-11, for example. As bad as it was (and a lot of it WAS and REMAINS pretty bad!) concessions WERE made to get necessary Democratic support. You can question the VALUE of those concessions but that has more to do with the Democrats in question than with the system, IMHO.

If I have to choose? I’ll take the system where 2-4% can shut something down than the alternative of 6-10% being able to enact whatever they want to. Even if I assume a “we’ll clean up there messes” mentality, given the cyclical nature of American Politics the constant chaos of programs and laws and regulations beings enacted and then struck down, every 4-8 years… Well, over time, nothing gets done that way either! But I feel – and this is purely my judgment and opinion based on the facts as I see them, and I’m sure many will disagree with me – that less damage can be done by holding up progress for a few years than by the constant back-and-froth that would result for a pure majority-vote-rules Senate. In that case? Each side would spend their entire first term undoing what the opposition had done in their last term, and basically NOTHING would EVER get done in the long term.
However… I would like to give ClassicLiberals Democratic principles a nod here. Because in truth the whole IDEA of the Senate IS anti-democratic by design. So let me propose an admitedly radical third option to keeping the filibuster as it is or removing it entirely:
1) Eliminate the Senate.
2) Expand the membership in the House of Representatives so that no member has a Constituency larger than 50,000 citizens or smaller than 30,000.
For more information on step (2) please refer to the fine people over at [IMHO Hall of Famer] The 30,000. Aside from a lack of office space, there was really never any reason, nor Constitutional justification, to limit the number of Representatives. Now they don’t go so far as to suggest eliminating the Senate, but consider how much closer we would get to one-person / one-vote if we did. And consider how much less influence Political Parties and Special Interest groups would have (which in general I would say is either a good thing, or at a minimum good for democracy) if all a Representative needed to win was 50% of (whatever percentage was registered and voted) of 30-50,000. That might be as small as 10,000 people. Well… no matter how much money you have and how many mudslinging ads you run, I can go out and personally sit down with 10,000 people, answer their concerns face-to-face, educate them on the issues, explain how the ads are misleading, etc… And you can’t fight that kind of campaigning with propaganda! OTOH, if I need to get the majority of 5,000,000 people? Well… There’s no way I can combat the glut of Negative Ads and Hatchet pieces in the press on a one-by-one, face-to-face basis. So the big money and the big-connections will always to win out. Also – with literally THOUSANDS of seats up for grabs, it becomes WAAAY too expensive for even the BIG money to fight enough of those battles to win enough control by themselves. The way it is now? With so many (~1/10 as many) fewer battles to fight, it’s become VERY practical – easy, even – for the big money to wield WAAAY to much influence in the elections.
In any case, on a basic political system design level, I would not want to eliminate the filibuster altogether unless the Senate were eliminated and the House of Representatives expanded as I’ve described. Otherwise the Senate just has too much power, and represetns fro too few people. Though on a practical level I would still support the proposals of Senator Bennet (D-CO) that were being made way back when.

Too bad they didn’t go anywhere.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How did I miss this?!

Well... there's been a lot going on this week, but in any case:

CONGRATULATIONS, RON SANTO ON YOUR INDUCTION INTO BASEBALL'S HALL OF FAME!!!

And it's about damned time too!  I've been advocating Santo's case for YEARS now.  So I'm very happy to see that he finally made it. There's only one problem...

Ron Santo died, one year ago this week.

And that really burns me up.  I'd say more, but I don't need to, since Mike Silva's column in NYBaseball pretty much sums it up already.

Granted, this news is already a couple of days old and, like I said: I don't knwo how I missed it!  But... atr least it didn't take me TWELVE YEARS!

Nice going, Veterans Committee.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Behold: Your Liberal Media!

So, I log on tonight and catch the headline on msn.com:
A 'major milestone' in search for Earth's twin
NASA's Kepler telescope confirms first alien planet found in habitable zone

Check it out: They found a planet, 600 light years away from us, that appears similar to earth and has a global climate in the 70's all year round.

OK... That? Is fucking MIND BLOWING! That's AMAZING! It's ASTONISHING! It's ball-bashingly HUGE NEWS!

And what does NBC's strait-News Anchor Brian Williams have to say about it?  Maybe some profound, "One small step..." style quote? Nah: He starts out saying "Imagine what we could do with this," and leads into a sarcastic suggestion that we colonize it, and start building Cell-Phone Towers and Parking Lots.

Yeah: He was kidding. I realize that.

But think about it. Consider the EARTH SHATTERING implications of this for a moment.

If it's within a couple million years of age of our planet? I guaren-god-damned-tee you something sentient is living there.  We were a single cataclysmic event away from having scales on our skin so, barring something similar in the past million years or so over there, there's a damned good chance they're looking back at us right now. (And possibly have been for some time.)

I wonder what they would have to say about religion, if we ever met them.

Would they laugh at us because we're so irrational as a species? Or would they see a lot of themselves in us?

Suppose they've been watching use for a couple thousand years now. (Like... more than six or so.) It's certainly possible. Would anyone still believe in young earth creationism after learnig that?

Those was the first things that came to my mind, once I was done geeking out about it. And that a hundered years from now, we'll be GOING THERE, and WOW: I was alive to witness it being discovered. This is 'first man on the moon' big, in terms of scientific milestones, and it happened in my lifetime.
So please pardon my digust as Mister Williams' choosing to mark the event with a jaded, throwaway joke about Cell Phones and Parking Lots, never considering for a moment, that we might arrive to find an indiginous population already there. (But it's not like THAT'S ever happened before, huh America?)

I'm sorry.  I just don't know how the "Liberal" media can see something as profound as this, and have their first thoughts go to Cell Phones and Parking lots. (Not to mention implied Colonization with nary a thought for who might already be there!) If America has been dumbed down by Consummerism, that one joke, used to mark so momentous an occasion, is exemplary of it.
Behold: Your liberal media?

Reply to Conchobhar's vanden Heuvel article

When I first read this I hard time separating vanden Heuvel's points and opinions from Chait's. I'm blaming that on the NyQuil, so hopefully I can keep them strait this time around. And I really only want to explore one aspect of the article - the idea of party loyalty, group-think, hero-worship and unconditional support. I'm not going to defend Obama's record, but I'd feel more than a little silly bashing it at this point, seeing as how this was in reposes to a post in which I honored a website dedicated to listing out his accomplishments. (But I probably will anyway.) My opinion on Obama is fairly simple: I supported him in the primary, happily voted for him (esp. w/ Sarah Palin in the #2 spot on the other ticket!) and felt very hopeful that we would get a strong, popular, MODERATELY LIBERAL candidate... which, after eight years of living with the hard-right, seeing our civil liberties eroded away and the Supreme Court pulled solidly to the Right, SHOULD have seemed like a breath of fresh air, and a step in the right (not Right) direction. Of course, I'm as disappointed and disgusted as anyone, and Obama's judgment as a failure over all is well earned, even if the Right-leaning voters haven't the slightest clue as to WHY. Done. I will say no more about it.

BUT... I've certainly leaned pretty heavily over the years on the trope that the Republicans band together whilst the Democrats mostly bicker amongst themselves. That the Right votes (and thinks) in lockstep whilst the diversity of opinion on the Left - while idealistic and admirable - often times sabotages their ability to govern. And that's BEFORE you get someone who's as allergic to hard negotiation as Obama is.

And this article really challenges that trope. I mean, sure, me and a few of my fellow bloggers might criticize Obama (and/or Clinton) but I'm an engineer - a man of SCIENCE. Can this really be quantified? What does it say about this that idea that there are many historic examples of the OPPOSITE being true: that the Right is all disjointed and the Left are the ones that close ranks?
Well... I ain't ready to buy that just yet, but some reconciliation is obviously in order.

So I'm going to go through the examples one by one, starting with Reagan. I think that's the best place to start, because any discussion of MODERN Conservatism and Liberalism, or for that matter Democrats and Republicans really can only be traced back as far as Reagan, maybe Carter. You go back much farther and the parties just look too different form what they are today for these comparisons to be relevant. (In Nixon's day, there were still Conservative Democrats - mostly Southerners - and still some Socially Liberal, Libertarian Republicans. And while that all started to change in the 1960's with the Civil Rights Act (Johnson was right about losing the South, but he was being wildly optimistic that it would ONLY be 'for a generation!') it was finally beginning to cement itself during the Reagan Years. I would say the last nail in the coffin was 1994 and the Gingrich-led Congress, but they were certainly polishing the wood for it, so to speak, during the Reagan years.

Now Hoeft mentions how Reagan had his critics. He mentions the hard Right, because Reagan DID raise taxes several times. (Not something that's really associated with his legacy, but true all the same.) He also had his critics all over the map because of what was the first of what would eventually be twelve years of deficits that were insane in any time that wasn't a full blown World War. But in the end, as Dick Cheney so *ahem* eloquently put it: Reagan showed us that deficits don't matter. (Yeah, unless there's a Democrat in the White House, huh, Dick?) And whatever Right-Wing critics he had on tax policy, he pretty much silenced them in 1987, by lowering the top-tier tax rate to 28% - almost as low as what a median income earner was paying just the year before, while leaving the upper-middle class bracket at 33%. That's right - for three years we actually had a REGRESSIVE taxation system, for the only time in the history of the Federal Income Tax. And given Reagan's historic landslide in 1984, I would hardly say that these critics of the now iconic Republican were really all that significant. Or critical.

And besides... While Reagan might not have always enjoyed the full support of his party (though I question how often this really translated into "No" Votes) he was the one who STARTED the trend. What was his greatest legacy?

"Do not speak ill of your fellow Republican."

Party loyalty was the at very heart of the man's philosophy and is perhaps his most significant and lasting legacy. If the Right learned ANYTHING form the Reagan years (and given the Bush'43 years, I have my doubts) it was this.

So... Fast forward to 1992, and the Republican Primary and incumbent President George H.W. Bush (whom I consider to be the best or 2nd best Republican since Teddy Roosevelt) facing the music from the likes of Pat Buchanan and the Christian Coalition. Look... I don't mean to dismiss the destructive influence that this combination of bigotry and fanaticism has had on the Republican Party. Starting with Jerry Fallwell, then Pat Robertson and now James Dobson (and others) the Christian Right has been destroy the Republican Party for DECADES now. But if you are going to look at George H.W. Bush's loss in 1992, and try to figure out what happened, the elephant in the room can be summed up in two simple lines:

"It's the economy, stupid!" ~Bill Clinton

"Read my lips: No new taxes!" ~George H.W. Bush

That's it. That's all you need to know. George Bush was an INCUMBENT. Any nonsense from the likes of Buchanan or any others are inconsequential next to those two, simple lines. There was a recession. And while it's kind of stupid to blame a recession solely on the President, it's not as dumb if he just raised taxes (after basically saying he wouldn't.) As for the "read my lips" quote? Well, at least the Right is consistent, I'll give them that. Juts like Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet* Bush'41 never said he wouldn't RAISE taxes. He just wouldn't create any NEW ONES. Well... I can certainly see how that could have been misinterpreted. Al Gore's statement... not so much.*

*it's off-topic, but read the end comment.

And at the end of the day, it's not like the Christian Coalition went and voted Democrat, nor did Buchanan really represent a serious primary challenge: Bush trounced him by over three to one in the popular voter and won every single State. Buchanan represented no more than a symbolic (and possibly egotistic) challenge. So... I'm sorry. It's pure and utter bullshit to say that a lack of PARTY LOYALTY cost Bush the '92 election. He went back on a "Read my lips" pledge, and was in a recession, running against a charismatic candidate who constantly reminded people of it.

Dan Quayle didn't help matters much either.

OK, now... Fast forward again to Bill Clinton, 1998.

After six years of compiling a largely Republican record: NAFTA, DADT, DOMA, '96 Telecom Monopoly Bill, Repeal of Glass-Steagal, and a 38.6% top-tier tax rate (remember, from 1982 to 1986, under Reagan no less, it was 50%!); one could certainly make the case that Liberals were fed up with him and his "new Democrat" paradigm. Aside from Bryer and Ginsberg? I can't think of a single, bona fide Liberal thing the man did. Of course, that's not why I hated him then. I was a Conservative then, and still at a "William" level of Right Wing brainwashing, thanks in equal parts to Rush Limbaugh and growing up in the family I did and the times that I did. What can I say? As a CHILD? Reagan was my hero. (I sent him a get-well card when he got shot. He sent me back a letter. That was a pretty deal to a then seven-year old!) (Even though I know he didn't actually write it himself!) But... I'm grown up now, and so I know better. Now? I hate Clinton for the right (not the Right's) reasons.

So how does one explain how we all "rallied" around Clinton during the impeachment proceedings? Where were all his Liberal Critics then? Why didn't we join with Newt Gingrich, in the hunt for justice... Sorry... I can't even type that with a strait face. Rallying around Bill Clinton during his impeachment had NOTHING to do with Bill Clinton, and EVERYTHING to do with NEWT GINGRICH! I mean, come on... So the guy was bullshit President. That doesn't mean we're going to sit back while some Right-Wing, jack-booted, cocksucker like Newt Gingrich REMOVES A POPULARLY ELECTED PRESIDENT FROM OFFICE over something as inconsequential as a blow-job from an intern! (And before any doofuses out there tell me it was about lying about it, let me ask you something: How do you feel about the fact that Gingrich him self was having an affair at the time? And did you feel the same about incoming speaker Bob Livingston? Who that mean old Larry Flynt at Hustler magazine "forced" to resign as incoming Speaker over HIS affair? It was a bullshit impeachment, and you know it, so don't waste our time!) What was on display in 1998 was not support for Bill Clinton so much as a backlash against Gingrich and his hyper-partisan, Republican-led witch hunt of Clinton. It wasn't a defense of the DEMOCRATS so much as it was a defense of DEMOCRACY. The Republicans couldn't win fairly in '96, so they were going to ruin him.

Funny how history repeats itself, huh? You'd think Barry would have known the types of people he was dealing before he took the job. Shame that.

So fast forward again (over eight years of a President who WAS NOT popularly elected, and who the press - that's ALL of the press - cheer-led for as he exploded the deficits, startled illegal, unnecessary and unfunded wars and happily chipped away at our civil liberties) to our "savior" (the Right's words, not ours) Barack Obama. So... HOW do I explain why so many Liberals (including your's truly, for longer than most) stuck with him for SO long? Thought a health care bill that resembled Gingrich's c.1993 before the Republicans even took first crack at it. Through a stimulus bill that was trimmed down to a size that would satisfy the very people who's leader stated as his 'top ptriority' making [Obama] a one-term President. Through replacing two reliable Liberal votes on the Supreme Court with two moderates - thus moving the Court farther to the Right. WHY have we stuck with him? Why are there so many still do?

Well, I see two things, really. In the early days, say... early 2009 though about mid 2010? I think there was a lot of... confusion. Obama suddenly didn't sound a whole lot like the guy we had all voted for. That's not normally surprising, most candidates don't live up their rhetoric, but Obama was elected on a large part BECAUSE of that rhetoric! And give HUGE majorities! In BOTH HOUSES! And, pretty much just like Clinton, he took that Liberal mandate and ran right to the Center with, quite possibly overshooting the mark. And... well.. I figure a lot of people didn't even notice at first. And once they did, couldn't figure out what to make of it. And Obama had MUCH larger majorities than Clinton had. (And also squandered.)

And then there was the Right. See... I also think that a lot of the image people had of Obama as this extremely Liberal guy came from the Right. I pretty much knew I was voting for a moderate because I recognized the Right's blathering as pure horseshit and listened to what Obama had to say. The quintessential example of this was when Obama said, [PP] "If we have actionable intelligence that Osama Bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan, I would consider military incursions into Pakistan in order to capture him." Within a day this very rational position became "Obama wants to OVERTHROW Musharraf!" (That was our "great ally" Musharraf, BTW, who's country Bin laden WAS actually hiding in the entire time!) And within a day of THAT, I'm getting emails from my Conservative friends saying how Obama wants to NUKE Pakistan! Seriously! And they BELIEVED this! And even after PROVED to them that this was an idiotically absurd interpretation of the man's words, they're response was STILL be best summed up by my friend, Mike, who said, "Yeah, OK, but still... Strange dude."

*face palm*
*shakes head*

Now... What role does all this play? Well... Consider the average American voter. They get inspired by his lofty rhetoric, and here the Right demonize him with every epithet they can muster. He comes into office, seems to capitulate to the Right on just about every key issue, and they... KEEP ON demonizing him with every epithet they can muster. So let's go back to that relatively mild-mannered voter, and now woefully misinformed voter. Sure... there are those on the Left who say he's going too far to the Right, but... If that were true why does the Right seem madder than ever at him?

Well... simple answer: They're bat shit fucking insane, that's why!

And that's really been the trend since at least the Clinton years: As the Republicans have pulled farther and farther to the Right, the Democrats have responded by moving to the right. And as the Democrats have compromised by moving to the Right, the Republicans have responded by moving EVEN FARTHER to the Right!

And at this point? Any real Liberal who's still supporting Obama as a Candidate or the Democrats as a Party are doing so for any of the following reasons: Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rand Paul, John Beohner, Mitch McConnel, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Donald Trump... The list goes on, but I think the point is clear. It not so much as the lesser of two evils, so much as voting for the person or party who would compromise with the evil and voting for the actual evil. At this point the Republicans are so far gone, that NEWT GINGRICH, one of the least popular Speakers of the House in American History, is their LEADING CANDIDATE!
And no, I DO NOT hope he gets the nom, because as much as I believe he would getter utterly TROUNCED in the general, I remember 2000 and the Rehnquist Court appointing our next President, and I will not chance that.

I hope Romney gets the nom. He's the only who's not completely insane, completely moronic or both.
And I hope there is a Primary Challenger to Obama, even if it's just a symbolic one, like Pat Buchanan in '92. If there is? They already have my vote, right now, just to send Barry a message. But I'll still vote for Obama in '12 in the general and, if he loses, I will personally kick the ass of every Liberal who stayed home. Our next President will likely named Ginsburg's successor, and possibly (remote, but still...) Scalia's or Kennedy's. Do you really want that job to be done by Newt Gingrich?!
And THAT'S why I don;t think you can measure our "loyalty" in votes. Because the alternative REALLY IS that much worse.

Anyway, for what it's worth, that my take on the whole thing. And I'm keeping my stance that the Dem's remain the Big-Tent and the Pub's the group-thinkers.

-------------------------------------------

*OK... Al Gore. The Internet. Here's EXACTLY what he said, in his interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer:
During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.
Couple of things...

First of all, Blitzer didn't challenge him on the point. At all. He didn't seem to think this claim was all that remarkable at the time. Liberal Bias? Hardly. More like: IT WAS ACTUALLY TRUE. How did Gore do this? Well, for a start, there was the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, commonly known as the "Gore Bill." This laid the legislative groundwork for the the National Information Infrastructure, which serves as the foundation of what we now know as the Internet.

Was his statement even misleading or an exaggeration? Well, I think Snopes gives the best take on that question:
If President Eisenhower had said in the mid 1960's that he, while President, "created" the Interstate Highway system, we would not have seen dozens of editorial lampooning him for claiming that he "invented" the concept of highways, or implying the he personally went out and dug ditches across the country to help build the roadway. Everyone would have understood that Ike meant he was a driving force behind the legislation that created the highway system, and this was the very same concept that Al Gore was expressing about himself with his Internet statement.
If you believe he said it, or doubt the veracity of what was actually said, then you simply do not have a basic understanding of the facts. Because all of the guys that YOU THINK "invented" the Internet? Like pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn? Note that, "as far back as the 1970s, Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system. He was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship [...] the Internet, as we know it today, was not deployed until 1983. When the Internet was still in the early stages of its deployment, Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication."

And making Al Gore's ACCURATE CLAIM into a joke? Makes you sound about as stupid as drawing a picture of Ike with a hard-hat and a shovel - and meaning it as mockery - would do. If you're reading this? You and I both owe a lot of that that to AL GORE. To believe anything else is to swallow the lies that Fox news, and Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter told you because they KNEW that Bush would be trounced if the public ever came to grips with just how much Gore had accomplished - the FUCKING INTERNET for fuck's sake!!! - versus how little Bush had. (Trading Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines and Fred Marique?! What an idiot!!!) So clearly a different narrative had to be told. They're paid propagandists, who preach to the greedy and the gullible. Nothing more.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Democrat vs. Republican...

Conchobhar... That article you linked to was very interesting. Seriloulsy. I'm trying to work out a logical reply and it's making my head spin. Either that or I'm on a serious NyQuil hangover. I think she makes a good point, although it depends on your POV, and to some extent semantics, and how you want to measure it, and then there's 'reality' versus 'what the media tells you' perspective and... well, shoot... I'm afraid that until this cold & headache go away, this is all I've got:



What?

You just pick what you see as the lesser of two evils!

(With all credit to Silver Star Hall of Famer, Five-Second Films.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gold Star Awards: November, 2011

Yep. A day late.  And I was doing so good, too. What can I say. Worst work-week I've had in TEN YEARS.

The year is 1969, and it saw two indictees from the BWAA andf two from the Veteran's Committee.


The Stan Musial Gold Star #41: The Representative Press and his YouTube Channel.

His YouTube Channel has an almost obssessive focus on issues relating to Israel but is, at it's heart, remains a Media Criticism channel, focusing on the failures on the mainstream media to tell the REAL story about such things as the motivation behind the 9/11 attacks (hint: It was our support of Israel) and the Police enforced media black out when the Occupy movement was evicted in New York. Ths guy has the the REAL SCOOP on what the Mainstream Media isn't telling you.

(Maybe William will look into  some of these items and then try to explain where that systematic Mainstream Liberal Media Bias comes in.)

The Roy Campanella Gold Star #42: What The Heck Has Obama Done So Far?

OK, I certainly hope that I don't now need to re-establish any of my cred as a CRITIC of the President, BUT... the next time some Right Wing Jackoff Rick Perry type comes talking smack about how "nothing's gotten done," send him to THIS site. Stuff's happened. Progress has been made. That may not make up for the missed opportunities and the progress that hasn't but that doesn't mean that the useless half of this country should be able to run there yaps scott-free without a rebuke.  Good resource.


The Stan Coveleski Silver Star #39: Modest  Medusa

This cute little web comic started out as little more than a guilty pleasure for me, but I'm always happy to recognize an artist that's willing to lend their talents to a good cause... so go buy this T-Shirt!:
And, in any case, it's a fun little take on mythology, monsters, family, friends, fitting in and sticking it to authority.  And, as I always recommend, read it from the beginning!


The Waite Hoyt Silver Star #40: The Bad Chemicals

For biting social, political and philisophical satire, I've only found one Comic that can hold it's own against Saturday Mornign Breakfast Cereal.  And THIS IS IT. Rather than say anythign more, just let me share a few gems:

and BEST of all...

OK, so more than just a few, but serioulsy... GOLD, right?  So check it out. They're mostly topical and always hilarious.