Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Same-Sex Marriage Debate Pointlessly Continues (And There's a Simple Solution)

For some reason, when the subject of "Gay Marriage" comes up, people on both sides get emotional and make senseless arguments. Liberals will say that the government has no business deciding who should be allowed to marry whom, and conservatives venture off into Fantasy Land when they start claiming that Gay Marriage will lead to Polygamy and Beastiality. (Former Senator Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum (R-PA) was famous for thes kinds of rants.) There is a simple solution once people recognize where the problem lies.

As I see it, the problem is with the use of the word "marriage". Those who would deny a gay couple the right to "marry" often say that "marriage is a sacrament", and that if you start letting gays get married, you start forcing churches to recognize that which they say is wrong. This is a false argument. The reason is that there are two aspects to any couple joining in a legal bond - the civil aspect (the rights and responsibilities each inherits under the law as a "married couple") and the religious aspect (the following of the rituals of one's faith in the completion of this joining.) It's easy to understand why those who view marriage from a religious aspect would be upset. But they don't have to be. All we have to do is abolish the idea of the federal or state governments recognizing these joinings as "marriages" and start recognizing them simply as "civil unions". And to satisfy the ones who still worry about what this will lead to (Rick, I'm looking in your direction), we then define a "civil Union" as being between two, and only two, human beings. That should put an end to all those bizarre fantasies.

Now, it could remain perfectly acceptable under all laws that a "wedding ceremony" (or "marriage") performed by a member of the clergy just as it is today, would be automatically recognized as a "civil union" for legal purposes (just as it is today). The only difference is whether or not a church or religion would recognize anyone's "civil union" if it was not done in accordance with their religion's rules and teachings. If your religion does not recognize same-sex civil unions, then it should not be required to perform the wedding ritual for a same-sex couple. Nor should it have to accept a same-sex couple for any "couples outings" they might have. Of course, the same-sex couple does not have to practice that religion, either.

It's a win-win for everyone. The same-sex couple gets to enjoy all the legal benefits that heterosexual married couples get, while the churches and religions that oppose the idea do not have to marry anyone whom they do not wish to, nor recognize such people as being "married" within their eyes.

So what's wrong with that?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Give 'Em the Bird, Vote For a Third! Pt 3 - How You Can Change Washington, DC

As I began doing more research into this subject, I found that some states provide more detailed records on election results than others, at least as far as what's available on the internets. ("It's a series of tubes!") I started with in my home state, New York, but I had hoped that I could find one central place with a link to each state's "Elections" page, and I found one here. I also came across a Non-Partisan website called Smart Voter, sponsored by The League of Women Voters. It has details for some Congressional races, but not all of them. They do refer you to other places. And then I found this, Answers.Com, which, at first glance, looks pretty good ,too. In addition, New Yorkers may want to check out this.

New York has 29 Congressional Districts. In the 2006 elections for US Representative, seven political parties ran candidates, with a few running in almost every district. They were:

  • The Democratic Party (DEM), nominated 29 candidates, 23 of whom won
  • The Working Families Party (WOR), nominated 26 candidates, 20 of whom won
  • The Republican Party (REP), nominated 25 candidates, 6 of whom won
  • The Conservative Party (CON), nominated 22 candidates, 7 of whom won
  • The Independence Party (IND) (website used to be here), nominated 19 candidates, 15 of whom won
  • The Libertarian Party (LIB), nominated 2 candidates, neither of whom won
  • The Freedom Party (FRE) (no website could be found) nominated only one candidate, Ollie McLeanin, in the NY-11. He got 996 votes to the LIB candidate's 671. They also nominated the REP Stephen Finger, whose line got most of his votes, but lost to the DEM Yvette D. Clarke. The Freedom Party did not field a candidate in the US Senate race.)

All WOR candidates were the same as the DEM candidate in that race, and 20 of them won. All but five of the CON candidates were the same as the REP candidate, and 7 of those had won (including one who was also nominated by the DEMs instead of the REPs.) The INDs nominated 10 DEMs who won their races, 5 REPs who won their races, 3 REPS who lost their races, and 1 DEM who lost his race in a close vote. [Ironically, my district (NY-19), was one of the few in which WOR did not field a candidate for US Representative. Both CON and IND endorsed the REP candidate, Sue Kelly, but she (and her three parties) lost to DEM nominee John Hall.] Still, the voters were given the opportunity in most races to cast a vote for the very same person they would have voted for anyway, just on another party's line. This would increase that party's chances of not having to go out and get signatures to get on future ballots. This is a HUGE step toward taking back control of Congress. And this is how you can play a part.

The NY Congressional delegation consists of 23 DEMs and 6 REPs. If each of the candidates who ran as a WOR received more votes than as a DEM, we could have sent 20 WORs, 6 REPs and 3 DEMs, instead. The WORs would likely have voted with the DEMs, so it may not have made much differrence. BUT, check this out. If every candidate who ran as an IND and won went in as a member of that party, we would have sent 15 INDs, 13 DEMs, and 1 REP to Washington. And with not all INDs necessarily Liberal, it could have affected the balance of power in the House of Representatives immensely. Imagine how a similar scenario in your state involving candidates on multiple party lines could have affected the outcome of the entire 2006 elections! And all you have to do is vote for the same candidate but under a different party line, and you already effect a humongous change.

In the race for US Senate, in addition to the parties previously mentioned, there were also three other parties running a candidate to unseat incumbent Sen Hillary Clinton. They were The Green Party, and the Socialist Equality Party and the Socialist Workers Party (which you can read about here). These last two parties' nominees garnered less than half the LIB candidate's votes combined. But, if nothing else, they offered the voters another choice, an alternative to the "politics as usual"-mode of the two major political parties.

So, I recommend each of you (and everyone you know with access to the internets), check out the websites above, and begin looking at what other parties are running candidates in 2008.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bring The Troops in the Middle East Home NOW!

In Afghanistan, the carnage continues and more and more innocent civilians are getting killed. Why? Why are we still trying to find a military solution to a political problem? We invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of finding and bringing to justice those responsible for the attacks of 9/11. Establishing a democracy was a secondary goal, if it even was one from the beginning.

At first, I supported military action in Afghanistan. Like all Americans, I was hurting, especially being from NY and an AF vet. I wanted someone to pay for what had been done, and in my emotional state, I thought that our armed forces were the surest way to give them payback. I came to realize much too late that I was not thinking clearly then. I was wrong.

I came to believe that no matter what al Qaeda said or did, their “declaration of war” was an illegitimate excuse to use our military in such magnitude. Perhaps a small strike force penetrating the hills and seeking out bin Laden might have been acceptable, but a full-scale military invasion was not a proper use of force for this particular issue.

The use of terrorism, however high on the list of deplorable activities it may be, is still a crime, not an excuse for all-out war. With the possible exception of the killing of Zarqawi, every “success” at defeating the terrorists has been through good old-fashioned police work, not the use of our military. I call it “success” because many of those efforts may result in failure because our government mishandled the situation, and the people arrested may have to be let go. Mission NOT Accomplished there.

Military force should only be used a last resort, but that list of options should be very, very long. In the case of Afghanistan, it was probably only two items: 1) Turn over bin Laden, now! NO? 2) Send in the military. Even though the world was behind us at the time, it was thought that this military action might achieve its goals quickly and decisively. (After all, ours is the greatest military force in the history of mankind, isn’t it?) But the chances for success were turned into almost certain failure when we did not go in and finish the job ourselves. We relied too heavily on the absurd adage, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." This is moronic, because once your common enemy has been vanquished, your "new friend" just goes back to being your enemy again. We assumed that because the Northern Alliance (which had no great love for us) hated bin Laden, we could ally oursleves with them. We bribed them to go in and get bin Laden in the caves at Tora Bora. As has often been pointed out, anyone who can be bribed once can be bribed again. Bin Laden bribed them again to let him go. Again, Mission NOT Accomplished there.

But terrorism is a crime with no military solution. It can only be solved through education and cooperation among nations. Children around the world are being taught, at an age when they want to believe everything their elders tell them, that it is okay to kill people to achieve your goals. Sadly, Co-Presidents Bush and Cheney do not believe in either education or international cooperation. Plus, being business opportunists, they saw a chance for people just like them in mind and spirit to make a boatload of money, which has always been their goal in life. I do believe it was their goal here.

We need to educate people everywhere in the world about how and why these despicable people use terrorism as a tactic. They have grievances, I don’t doubt that. But somewhere along the line (for some, their childhood) they were told that violence is a legitimate way to resolve disputes, even when other means have not been tried first. Violence can be used in self-defense, but not as pre-emptive action. This is why I deplore Bush’s pre-emptive strike foreign policy. It is illegal, and it is inhumane. Only a small number of well-financed people want to do us harm.

We must also learn the role that poverty plays in terrorism. While the people funding it have plenty of money, the people (sometimes kids) doing the actual deeds at the expense of their own lives are often poor, without hope, and desperate to do something, anything, if they think it would bring an end to the injustices they perceive. They are often uneducated (by our standards) and many grew up attending schools where hatred of Western ideals is taught, and that their poverty can be blamed directly on us. They grow up never meeting or speaking to someone from the West who might open their eyes. For some of them, their first sight of a Westerner is the last thing they see as they blow themselves up. It's sad that children can taught to hate; it's even sadder that they can be taught to kill.

Killing innocent civilians in an effort to prevent the terrorists from killing innocent civilians is simply unjustifiable. No two ways about it. How long can we continue saying that the killing of 3,000 of our citizens justifies the killing of an even greater number of innocent civilians elsewhere in the world? Actually, I think we’re long past the point where this war is in any sense justifiable.

I remember watching Nightline years ago during the Iran-Iraq war. Ted Koppel had both of their ambassadors to the US on his program and he asked one of them (I forget which), “If (the other nation) agreed to just lay down their arms and talk this situation over, would your government do the same?” The ambassador’s answer? “They started it.” I could see Ted’s face just drop in exasperation. There’s just no getting through to some people.

Diplomacy with the nations who fund and support terrorists (like Saudi Arabia, our so-called “ally) is the answer. We must also engage in diplomacy with the other nations of the Middle East with whom we've had no meaningful, productive discussions since this president took office. The idea that if you're not with us, you're against us is not only foolish, it's antagonistic and a little bit childish, too. But what would you expect from the Boy King?

It’s time to pull all of our troops out of both Afghanistan and Iraq and face up to the fact that we are doing more harm (on so many levels) than we are good by remaining there. Support the troops by taking them out of a militarily unwinnable situation. Support them today.

Peace on earth.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Give 'Em the Bird, Vote For a Third! Pt 2 - Boards of Election

To aid you in finding out who besides the Democrats and Republicans are running for Congress, here are the links to each state's election information. Some additional navigation within the website may be necessary to find particular information about candidates. I tested each link before posting this, and they all appear to work correctly. If you find a link that doesn't work or that goes to the wrong page, please let me know in the comments and I will check it out and try to fix it. Remember, it's YOUR vote to cast, not their vote to take: Give 'Em The Bird, Vote For A Third!

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | District of Columbia | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

An Open Letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

I was extremely disappointed that you announced, even before taking over as Speaker of the House (congratulations), that "impeachment was off the table." This was wrong of you to do. Impeachment is part of our constitutional process, and the only means we have to remove from office those who abuse their powers. It is your constitutional obligation, as part of your oath of office, to not only put it back on the table, but to order up several servings.

You should start with Attorney General Alberto Gonzeles. He has abused his office and violated the oath he took on numerous occasions, as we learned from Congressman John Conyer's and Senator Pat Leahy's hearings. The evidence is quite clear that General Gonzales has not faithfully executed his office. His conversation with Monica Goodling about her "recollection" of events is a clear case of both witness tampering and obstruction of justice. He cannot be allowed to continue in that office, and since he refuses to do the honroable thing and resign, you must begin proceedings to remove him from that vey important office.

Vice President Dick Cheney is even worse. Is it even necessary to list the myriad of constitutional violations for which he is guilty? He has had a long history of snubbing his nose at the law both in the public and private sector. (As CEO of Halliburton, his company did business in nations where it was prohibited for US companies to do so. Doing it through a subsidiary is not a loophole.) He is a staunch defender of the unconstitutional thoery of the "Unitary Executive". But more than that, he has implemented it throughout his terms of office. (Remember, he thought that Nixon got a bum rap.) He has, through his actions, assumed the role of president when it was inappropriate to do so. He, too, must be impeached and removed from office.

And then there's perhaps the worst one of all, President George W. Bush. This is a man with a well-documented history of breaking the law and using his positions and family connections to avoid being held accountable. His signing statements are proof enough that he has violated not only his oath to "support and defend the constitution", but Article II, Sec 3 where it says that he shall "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Are you going to try to tell me that when he issues a signing statement saying that he won't obey certain parts of the laws Congress has passed, that this is within his constitutional rights? I don't, and a large part of the American population doesn't think so either.

I understand that at the time you said that, there wasn't enough evidence gathered to prove these charges, thanks in large part to a Republican-controlled Congress that put loyalty to a person ahead of loyalty to their country. (Don't deny that was, and for some of them still is, the case.) But now that there have finally been oversight hearings, the truth and the evidence is beginning to emerge. Your duty is clear, Speaker pelosi. You must set into motion impeachment proceedings against, at the very least, these three people. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Attorney General Gonzales MUST be held accountable for their egregious behavior.

Thank you for taking to time to read this. I look forward to seeing the impeachment hearings on C-SPAN. Start with AG Gonzales, as he is "an enabler" of the president.

Wayne A. Schneider

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I've Just Seen a Post

Well, I've been back "full time" now for a few weeks, and some things just don't change. I've been posting a lot primarily at ThinkProgress (affectionately known to us as "TP"), and it's likely that most of you visiting this blog know me from there. I thank all of you for coming back. Now that I can do this from home, I can do it more often. Before, when I could only do this from my computer at work, I either had to stay late, come in early, or sneak in for a few minutes during the day. It wasn't quite working out, hence my ban from internet access at work.

Anywho, I've noticed that TP still has a problem with trolls. Trolls are people who jump into a topic and post false, misleading, deceptive or inflammatory remarks with the sole purpose of derailing the conversation so that we waste our time, and the site master's bandwidth. They often have no rational basis for the things they say. They know that if they jump in and say something like, "Liberals are baby-killers," they'll get a reaction. They aren't interested in discussing anything rationally. They're just trying to piss us off. Unfortuantely, they all too often succeed.

The ironic thing is that while they often accuse us of trying to suppress free speech, if you go to one of the more popular conservative websites (such as and post something even the tiniest bit critical of Bush or Republicans in general, they ban you. (At least, that's what some have said.) I guess the truth hurts.

So, my experiences since I returned to the blogosphere inspired me to write another song parody. This is to the tune of The Beatles' "I've Just Seen a Face". (Original words and music by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.) I wanted to have it finished by yesterday, but I couldn't quite get it done. Consider it a belated birthday present to Sir (James) Paul McCartney, whose birthday was the 18th. I hope you enjoy it. As usual, thank you Jane for your help and advice.

I've Just Seen a Post
by Wayne A. Schneider

I’ve just seen a post I can’t resist
What he did boast and I insist
He check his facts for me,
And I want all the world to see
He lied.

Had he not been so absurd
I might have let him have his word.
But I have never been so mad,
I never saw a post as bad
As this.

Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

I just sit and moan
When I see shit like this I’ve known
To be untrue, but still it gets to me,
And everyone can plainly see
He lies

Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

I’ve just seen a post I can’t resist
What he did boast and I insist
He check his facts for me,
And I want all the world to see
He lied.

Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

Oh, Trolling, yes he is trolling
And he keeps rolling
Them out again

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Give 'Em the Bird, Vote For a Third!

Like many people, I've come to the sad realization that the two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have not, in general, been acting in the best interests of the people who voted them into office. But, for reasons passing understanding, even though many Americans are not simply dissatisfied, but disgusted with their Congress, they keep voting the bastards back in. They do it because they think that their own Senators and Representatives are not part of the problem. Little do they realize how much gets done outside the eye of the public. The Senate likes to talk about coming to the floor and "debating" a bill, but the truth is that the "debate" happens behind closed doors and what takes place on the Senate floor is for show. I would be truly surprised if any Senator's vote was ever changed by anything said during the floor debate portion of the show. (Same with the House of Representatives.)

Then there's campaign finance reform. Very few Members of Congress (and when I phrase it that way, I am referring to both Houses) have made any effort to change the way federal elections are financed. That's because they made it good for themselves. They rigged the system to give themselves a huge advantage over any challengers. And they didn't do that for us, they did it for themselves. The most obvious explanation is that they fear having to justify you sending them back to Congress, so they make it as difficult as possible for third party candidates to gain any foothold on the electorate. Part of the overall difficulty comes from the individual states and what they require to get on the ballot. But most of it is because of what the Democrats and Republicans have done over the years (going waaaaay back) at both the state and federal level. Well, I say it's time we changed that.

Whenever someone mentions that they might for a third party candidate, they are too often met with the attitude, "Well, if you want to waste your vote, that's your right." I don't understand that. How exactly is voting for the candidate you think will best represent you a "wasted vote"? Isn't ours supposed to be a democracy? Doesn't that mean that everyone who is allowed to vote casts their vote for the person of their choice? And the irony is that the ones who most vocally claim that by not voting for a Democrat or a Republican you are wasting your vote are............wait for it......the Democrats and Republicans! Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Well, there is something we can all do to change things, but it's gonna take courage, and lots of it. And it's a gamble because if only part of the country does it, we risk not only the possibility that the guy we want out stays in, but we might also get the guy from the other major party in there instead. Then we'd be right back to square one. What you have to do takes several steps, and you should begin at least a month or two before the primaries.

First, understand that politics is about compromise. You can't always get what you want, so you have to give a little to the other views and let them have something they want. Then the final bill will contain things that make everyone happy. Of course, it will contain things that make some people unhappy, but that's the nature of politics and I don't believe there's any way of getting around it, unless you want to give up on the whole democracy thing. Remember what George W. Bush said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier... just so long as I'm the dictator." Is that what you'd prefer? Didn't think so.

Second, do some research on what other political parties exist in your state. Not all parties operate in every state, but some are around in almost all of them. But since we're not talking about a presidential election, we don't have to worry about whether or not the party you like can get on the ballot in all fifty states. You are only concerned about doing your job of replacing your own Democrats and Republicans.

Third, find out what each party in your state stands for. Some are limited in what they are trying to achieve (saving the whales, ending all abortions, etc.), while some are very broad in their goals (tax reform, education reform, foreign policy, etc.) Find one that would best represent what you believe in. After all, you are trying to get someone in there who will do what you want, not what everybody else you know wants. Remember, you are voting for YOUR representation, not anybody else's. In our system, we agree to let the one with the most votes get the job. (If you find a party you like but it isn't putting up a candidate, contact them and ask why. You may want to consider putting yourself up as their candidate. Why not? Sure seems like a cushy job, doesn't it? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. We're doing all this to change that.) Keep in mind that it is entirely likely that there will still be a lot of Dem's and Repub's left in Congress (because not enough voters have courage), so you'll want to figure out which of the two parties your candidate would caucus with. For example, there are conservative libertarians (Ron Paul), and there are liberal libertarians (Wayne A. Schneider). Mr. Paul would caucus with the leftover Republicans and I would caucus with the leftover Democrats. Most Americans are more libertarian than authoritarian (like the 28%-ers who still support Bush), so a libertarian candidate might, at first, appeal to both liberals and conservatives. If a libertarian candidate seems to be getting the support of everyone, you might want to try to figure out why he's getting support from the other type of libertarian than you. If you can't find a political party whose platform suits your needs, then look around for any independent candidates who have signaled one way or another that they will be in the race. Contact their campaign headquarters and learn about them. They might be the one for you.

Fourth, find out who the people trying to get that party's nomination are. This is important because you want to make sure that the candidate that party chooses will stick to that party's platform. (In my state of New York, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are strong enough to be able to get candidates on the ballot each year. So we have those alternatives.) Also, the Democratic and Republican candidate might also get the nomination of another party. If so, when it comes time to vote, vote them on the third party line. A candidate running as a Democrat and a Liberal might get more votes on the Liberal line then on the Democrat line. (To be honest, I don't know if any or all states break down a candidate's votes by party. The candidate is still entitled to all the votes from both parties, but one might get a lot more than the other.) If so, then he might have to go down to Washington as a Liberal and not a Democrat. Don't forget to formally register with that party, especially if you are currently registered as an Independent (which many of us are.) If you don't, you might not be allowed to vote in the primary for the person you want. (Rules vary by state. Contact your local Commissioner of Elections to find the rules in your state.)

Fifth, find out which candidate that party intends to put up for the next election. If they're not putting anyone up, then consider running yourself. Learn what you can about the candidate. (If it's you, then find out as much about yourself as anyone looking into your past would find out. If there's dirt, someone is likely to find it. So be prepared to answer questions about it.
Reporter: Mr. Schneider, is it true that in college you once tried to marry a mule?
Schneider: Once? No.

Sixth, find out if that party's candidate will be invited to any debates. Some parties, other than the two major ones, have been around long enough and are strong enough to get their candidate on the ballot every year, so they would likely be invited to any debates. If they aren't being invited, ask why. (This is especially true of independent candidates.) Contact the sponsor of the debate and tell them that you would like to see your chosen candidate at the debate. You alone might not be able to make the difference (unless the person you're complaining to is a friend of yours), but many, many of you from that district calling in could change the debate sponsor's mind. Make sure you pay close attention to what your candidate says in that debate. This may help you convince others to vote for your candidate.

Seventh, Election Day! (It should be a federal holiday, but, as the old folks say, "That's a topic for another thread." Well, the ones that are hip to today's technology say that.) As you step up to the booth, take a deep breath, pull back the curtain behind you, and VOTE FOR THE CANDIDATE OF YOUR CHOICE! And if the Democratic candidate is running on another line (like the Liberal, the Green, or some other) and the Republican is running on another line (such as Conservative, Right to Life, or some other), and you like the way the way they've been representing you, then vote for them on the third party line. They'll still get your vote, but they'll get it with a message. Then sit back and hope everything turns out right. (That part's no different than any other year.)

Now, it may take a few election cycles to weed out enough Dem's and Repub's to wrest control from them, but the effort will be well worth it. The trick is to get the word out to as many people as possible. And the next time someone you know starts complaining about the politicans in Washington, remember to tell them this:

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program already in progress.

Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man

Some of you might be curious to know what I look like. Well, I found an old picture of me from my days at college taken by a very good friend of mine named Robin Wasserman. I think the year was around 1979. I'd rather put this one up than any current ones I might have available. It will have to do. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bush and GTMO - Why They Are Dangerous

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was interviewed on Meet The Press recently. During the course of the interview he was asked his views about Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (known as "GTMO" - pronounced Gitmo - because that's the military designation for it.) He said that he would not close it down tomorrow, he would close it down "this afternoon."

While he did say that everyone detained at GTMO should have access to the courts, he also stressed that they should not just be set free. But, of course, as soon as any of them start getting access to the courts they will start getting freed by the judicial system because of several factors, including that their rights to speedy trials were denied, their rights to the evidence against them was denied and even, for some of them, there just isn't any solid case against these guys that would stand up in a court of law. Most of them will be set free by a judge just as soon as their processing in the normal court system begins. And the world knows the true reasons we kleep people there. So far they have managed to keep all but a handful from ever seeing the inside of a courtroom. And if Bush has his way, they never will. GTMO is an affront to human rights and it needs to be closed immediately. It's too dangerous to have a facility where people go to be never heard from again. What would we say if that started happening to Americans?

It's because of the mentality of the Bush adminstration. They don't operate in the "fact-based world", they operate purely out of ideology, and they see nothing wrong with doing that. They feel it is perfectly legitimate to adhere to the principles of a belief system even when the facts contradict the tenets of the belief system. (And since this is true of most conservative-leaning people, it is a good argument for why they can't govern and shouldn't be allowed to.)

These people (Bush admin-types) all believe in the KJV interpretation of a Jesus quote in which he supposedly said, "Those who are not with me are against me." It's my understanding that other bibles have translated what Jesus said to read, "Those who are not my enemy are my friend." It's an important distinction in order to understand the mind set. In the former, if you are not an open, avowed friend of the administration, then you are, by default, an enemy. The latter interpretation says that you don't have to go so far as to consider yourself their friend, just as long as you don't consider yourself their enemy, they'll consider you a friend. This is clearly not how the Bush administration has acted, and it is one of the main reasons why they are so hated and despised around the world. If you don't agree with every single thing they want to do, then you're no friend of theirs. How stupid is that?

And because of this childish, selfish, me-first attitude, they have absolutely no interest in trying to make friends with other countries around the world. You're with us or you're against us, and if you're against us, go screw yourself. No intention at all of going up to our enemies and asking, "Dude, why all the hostility, man?" (Okay, diplomats don't normally talk that way unless they've been hanging out with the Jamaican ambassador.)

And this is why they're dangerous. They are convinced based on nothing more than a mythical "can do" attitude that if anyone wanted to attack us, we could kick all of their asses with one battalion tied behind our backs. Of course, they're wrong. If two other countries tried to gang up on us, they could probably cause some real damage. But then, if that ever happened, the American people would recognize the actual threat and join up to fight them. We will all stand behind retaliating against any country that attacked us. Since the "War on Terror" is just a slogan and an excuse to abuse power, the American people are not buying it.

My concern is that the next president, no matter which party, is going to need two terms to accomplish any agenda because he or she will be spending the better part of the first term flying around the globe aplogizing for everything Bush did. If Bush wasn't hell-bent on pleasing Corporate America instead of the people, we wouldn't be in the messes we're in right now. He is a very dangerous man because he has no respect for the rule of law and no respect for our constitution. He also has no respect for people who aren't rich, either. He is entirely ill-suited to lead a country founded on the principles we claim to hold dear.

Dangerous men should not be allowed to remain President of the United States. It's not just in our best interests. It's in the entire world's best interest.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Honk If You Love Peace!

This past Saturday, June 9th, the Pawling Democratic Committee (here you go) organized the first anti-Iraq War protest in Pawling since, gosh, I guess you'd have to say since the war in Iraq began. (I don't recall hearing about any during the first Gulf War but, then, if it got the same publicity ours did, you'd probably only be hearing about it from me.) Still, the turnout was better than feared. Okay, better than I feared. I don't know what the organizers feared. We never got into that. It's not a topic that normally comes up, I guess. ("Say, Bob. Before we go marching into town, possibly embarrassing ourselves in front of our neighbors, is there anything you otherwise fear?" "Well, Jim, besides you and me being the only ones to show up at this march, I'm afraid of lawn ornaments." "Don't worry, Bob. I'll shield your eyes if I spot any, okay?" "You're a good friend, Jim.") I was afraid that Jane and I would show up and, like, four other people would be there. But there were about two dozen people, young and old, all concerned enough about bringing an end to this war to want to march through the village and tell people about it. Some brought their kids so they could be part of it, too. At least one was a Vietnam vet. (A marcher, not one of the kids.) Several of them were from the local Democratic Party chapter, of course. All of us felt we should no longer have any military in Iraq fighting someone else's battles, which is what it has basically become.

In addition to the obvious fact that Jane and I hate what this war in Iraq has done to our nation on so many levels, one of the main appeals of this march was that it started and ended within walking distance of our house. It literally began a block away from our front yard. A short four-minute walk and we were there, all ready to start protesting! (It was my first actual anti-war protest march, so I was trying to accentuate the positive.) Our planned route was to take us down the street toward the middle of the Village of Pawling and end near a memorial erected to honor war dead from our community. Only one short uphill section of the Mile-More-or-Less-Long March gave us all an excuse to "catch our breaths", and it was downhill from there right into the village proper. Throughout the walk we had several people (I'd guess at least a dozen or so) give us supportive honks on the horn (car horn, what did you think I meant?). That's when Jane gave me the idea for the title of this post. She shouted back, "Honk if you love peace!" (which I find amusing on several levels.) And I saw a few peace signs flashed. It might have been my smudgy glasses but I'm pretty sure most of them had two fingers up.

When we got to the memorial we took a closer look and realized that there would be no place to stand and talk without being in the middle of traffic, and it wasn't our intention to get arrested (though more than a few of us were prepared to go through with it; it just was never our intention. And it didn't happen.) We saw a spot on the median of the boulevard where it looked like all two dozen of us could stand and not get run over. (It was Charles Colman Blvd, for those familiar with downtown Pawling, NY. Yeah, like the European visitors to this blog know all about downtown Pawling, NY! But do keep coming back, my European friends. You have nothing to fear from me. I've been to Europe and I like it.) We stood for a while waving our signs (you gotta have signs or else how would people know you weren't just a bunch of mental patients who couldn't find the bus?) and had a few half-hearted, mostly-forgetful attempts at some protest songs. (Even if there were any record producers there, I'm sure they would have reached for their iPods very quickly once they heard us sing.) I did quite clearly hear one guy yell "Hippies!" at us as he drove by. Personally, I didn't mind, but I understand from my sister that the kids today take that as an insult. So what? I like being called "Liberal", too. Then I wondered if anyone had called the local newspaper, which had an office literally across the street from us though it was normally closed on Saturdays, but, no, they forgot to do that. But we decided we would do it the next time. Then we started talking about if there would be a next time, and we agreed that there would be. Then we talked about which day would be good and we agreed that since this was the second saturday of the month, and since the first one of next month (that would be July for you keeping score at home) was a holiday weekend, we agreed that we would do it again the second weekend. So it sounds like we'll be doing this the second Saturday of each month until the war ends. Fifty years, my ass!

Then Ralph, the organizer, gave a little speech at the end of which he said, "I realize now that I should have read this at the beginning of the march." Still, though it had some initial awkwardness (most if us were new at this), I think it was a worthwhile effort. We got to walk through the village proudly pointing out our opposition to the war. I even saw someone I knew sitting outside the laundromat. Considering that he did some work at our house a few times and that he's seen the collection of bumper stickers on Jane's car, I don't think he was all that surprised to see us there. But it was fun. And I look forward to doing it again next month. And if you're not with us, I'll just give you the benefit of the doubt and say you got lost trying to find the place. Could happen to anyone.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Picking My Brain 07-06-03

Little Known Fun Factoid
In none of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries does any character ever utter the famous phrase, “No shit, Sherlock.”

The History Channel
I know they show movies that have some relation to history, such as “Patton” and “The Longest Day”. But why do they show the movie “The Planet of the Apes”? That wasn’t part of our history, was it?

Are There Any Standards?
I've been listening to news reports of the lengths the people in the Bush administration went to to circumvent their constitutional responsibilities and I have to wonder: Is protecting themselves from being held accountable for their actions the only thing that motivates them?

My brain's starting to hurt on account of I haven't been picking at it this hard in so long, so I'm going to stop this one right here. Thinking's hard. It's hard work.

It's Good To Be Back

Whew! I finally figured out how to get back into my blog and, well, here I am! Everything seems, as first glance, to be right where I left it. So far, so good. I'm going to start exploring how this whole blogging thingy stuff works again, since it's been months since as I've done it.

I want to thank everyone who checked in from time to time to see if I had returned. I hope you soon feel your patience being rewarded. (We can discuss whether this is the kind of behavior that society wishes to encourage another time.) I also want to thank the new visitors to my blog since I stopped posting. I'm curious to know how some of you found me, since I wasn't really trying to solicit new visitors during my hiatus. Not that I mind that you came here. I appreciate your stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed your visit.

Well, now that I have a computer on which to write things and a blog to which I again have access, it's time to start stirring up some trouble! :)