Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Pictures


For those who are regular readers of The Sacred Cow Wursthaus, please ignore this posting.  I am only putting up two .jpg images in order to create a web-link which I can attach to a story on www.critiquecircle.com.  Oh, and, by the way, if you are a writer and want your stuff reviewed for a low-low cost, I highly recommend that website.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Hey, Salvation Army, Go Away!


Well, you can always tell it's that time of year. No, not by all the stores stupid enough to start selling Christmas items before Halloween is even over. No, not by the falling leaves and sudden bone-chilling cold. No, not even by the sudden sale on turkey at your local grocery. All these things are indeed tell-tale signs, but you can really tell it's that time of year by the annoying bell-ringing of the people volunteering with the Salvation Army.

I'll admit, I'm of two minds regarding this irritating annual tradition. As a rule, I favor charity, no matter what the lame, religious pretext might be. But I also can't ignore the fact that the food and clothing given to the poor and needy by the Salvation Army is done with a good degree of coercion and proselytizing, which I can't abide. Can't a person in need get a bowl of soup without a sermon? Is it really charity if a needed winter coat to keep out the chill comes with a scolding or a strong-armed 'request' to attend a church service? Or is the charity merely the worm on the end of the hook, meant simply as a means to bring in another catch?

Yes, Jesus himself purportedly called his disciples, "fishers of men," but I hate that metaphor, anyway. I have a real problem with charity being taken advantage of. Helping the poor should be more than just bait. It shouldn't be the sugar which helps the foul-tasting medicine of religion go down. Charity should be done for charity's sake, not be misused as a mere lure.

And all this is true before we get into the Salvation Army's actual practices of hard-right-wing coercion. They have threatened to close soup kitchens if forced to offer help to poor people who happened to be gay or lesbian. Oh, yes, they did! They'll help the poor, but poor homos can starve, for all they care.

Whatever happened to loving the sinner but hating the sin?

This is not a new phenomenon. The Salvation Army is a very old organization, and in every corner of its long existence, it has oppressed, goaded, and cattle-prodded people into accepting their help only on their terms. When it first began, the Salvation Army actually marched down the street during community parades, with pressed uniforms and polished boots! They actually had military rank within their central structure, with Captains, Commanders, Majors and even Generals. And while this Nazi-esque silliness was (thankfully!) stopped after the horrors of World War II, it bears remembering that this militancy is where the organization got its start. Call me crazy, but in a post-9/11 world, military trappings within religion should not be tolerated!

And let's also remember the Salvation Army's well-earned nickname: the Starvation Army. It earned this nickname for its stern opposition to labor unions over the years. Oh, yes. When striking laborers came to the Salvation Army for help, they were turned down, every time. So much for christian charity!

But what about Christmas? Isn't this a time where we ought to show a little mercy to those who really need it? What's wrong, after all, with some organization ringing a bell in front of stores calling for donations to the poor?

I say, nothing, provided that organization is worthy. The Salvation Army is clearly not. So it's time for it to step aside in favor of some other, better, more noble and less religious organization, one whose secular interests will make sure that more of each dollar goes to those who really need it. Let them give their red kettles and loud bells over to the Red Cross, or People For the United Way, or even directly to local homeless shelters. Let's make sure none of that kettle money goes for political action instead of helping the needy.

Maybe then that bell won't be quite so damned annoying.


Eric

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Movie Review: Ender's Game


For once, all the hype was worth it. Ender's Game, based on the book of the same title by Orson Scott Card, is the first major motion picture to be based upon a classic sci fi novel since The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, and the first big film of its like to be released since Avatar.

Better than Star Wars? Maybe. Definitely if by Star Wars you mean any film which was released after The Empire Strikes Back. Better than Star Trek? Pick your film, but this one beats most of them hands down, and the ones it doesn't beat, it ties. Better than Avatar? Certainly. Yes, this one preaches a moralistic message at you as well, but unlike James Cameron's film, it doesn't seem preachy about it.

Better than Gravity? Well, Gravity is still the better hard science fiction film. Ender's Game still commits the atrocity of audible explosions in the vacuum of space. But E.G. is the better film of the two, overall. If you loved Gravity, you have no excuse not to see Ender's Game.

I finally got around to seeing this film over the weekend on a Sunday afternoon, and was rather surprised to find how empty the theater was. Granted, I did that on purpose, since I hate crowds, but I honestly thought I was going to have to deal with crowds anyway. Surely, Ender's Game, the one sci fi novel which ranks in the top five of nearly everyone's favorites list, and possibly #1 of all time, would have a huge drawing on each and every day. Of the great sci fi novels made into films, only Frank Herbert's Dune possibly ranks higher. So Ender's Game should be a guaranteed blockbuster, right?

Well, yes and no. Movie earnings are just not the same as they were when the first Star Wars movie came out, and people were going to see the film over and over again, leaving the turnstiles on the way out only to get right back in line again. In the late 70's, VCR's weren't even invented, waiting for the video to come out was a foreign concept, and the cinema was the only way to experience the thrill and joy of a movie without commercials. Today, people just don't want to spend $10 on a movie if they don't get to take it home with them. Waiting for the video to come out is common practice even for films which are highly anticipated these days, and its just not worth anyone's time to mess about with going to the theaters, unless it's something really mouth-watering.

But that's just my point. Ender's Game is indeed something really mouth-watering. It should have been at least as high-grossing at the box office as The Avengers, which made $207 million in its opening weekend, or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, which made $483 million worldwide. Certainly it should have totally trounced the beyond-stupid sparkly-vampire film, Twilight: New Moon, which actually made $143 million. Gravity made $53 million.

So where the hell IS everybody? Opening estimates for Ender's Game put its opening weekend totals at only about $30 million, and that jibes with what I saw this Sunday afternoon. Typically, the following weekend will earn half that much, and another half after that. Based on that historical pattern, Lionsgate/Summit films will just barely recoup the $110 million it cost them to make the film before it goes to DVD, if writer/director Gavin Hood is lucky.

I can only assume that too many people are not aware of Ender's Game, or just how awesome a novel it both is and was. Word of mouth really makes a movie work, and people will eventually pass along what a great treat this film is to watch before seeing it themselves a second time. Star Wars opened up with the usual opening-weekend science fiction windfall, but nobody knew what a big hit it was until the film made even more money the following weekend. In the case of Gravity, which made $56 million on its opening weekend, the film went on to make $13 million in this current weekend, less than its opening weekend amount but beating the weekly half-life rule by a considerable margin. I can only hope that Ender's Game beats the trend as well. It certainly deserves to.

I'll admit to being biased because I read the book, and the book goes into great detail about why Ender Wiggin had to be a ten-year-old kid, which is perhaps the plot's weakest point. A child's mind, it is revealed in the film, adapts to new situations better than the mind of an adult does, and this tactical advantage is hammered upon again and again in the book. But in the film, the point is made only once, and then left to be abandoned. I can understand why some critics might be off-put by this. I, myself, when I read the book, found myself visualizing Ender growing up into a sixteen-year-old during his training, and completely forgot about his too-young age later on. Afterwards, I listened to the audio-book version, which featured an interview with Orson Scott Card at the end. He talked about the upcoming film production, and began to again state how important it is for Ender to be only ten, and why. But all his arguments sounded perfectly ridiculous to me! The person who convinced me that Ender Wiggin should not be depicted as a ten-year-old was none other than Card himself! So I can understand if many critics label this movie as being too similar to the film version of Starship Troopers. RottenTomatoes.com rates this film as a 62% fresh tomato. Not great, but better than most sci fi films, by far. And those who rated the film poorly all admitted to not having read the book. Big shock.

There may also be a certain anti-Mormon sentiment going on here. Orson Scott Card is indeed a Mormon, and is quite active and open about promoting the unbelievable bat-shit insanity which his faith entails. He has been very vehement about opposing gay marriage and so many gay marriage activists are calling for a boycott of the film. It could also be that people who disapprove of Mormonism in general will not go to see this film anyway, just as many did not go to see Battlefield Earth because they disapproved of Scientology, or boycotted The Golden Compass because its author Philip Pullman is an atheist. But Lionsgate has already issued statements that profits from the film will not be going to Card's estate, and that the plot of the film does not even deal with the subject of gay marriage. Both of these points are absolutely correct, and besides all this, you are hearing a ringing endorsement of this film from The Sacred Cow Wursthaus - a blog which, to be blunt, is no fan of Mormonism whatsoever.

In other words, go see this film! In fact, let's have gay couples get married while watching it, just to piss Orson Scott Card off! I see no reason why Ender's Game should be boycotted due to Mormonism after the success of Battlestar Galactica's reboot, since that plot line also came from Mormon writers.

Well, if the success of this film gives Card a bigger spotlight to preach his Mormonism, I say, good! Let him expose this stupid-ass shit for the lie it undoubtedly is! Only childhood brainwashing into such a ridiculous faith could train such an otherwise brilliant mind to be so stupid when it comes to his own personal beliefs. You know, I doubt even Ender Wiggin would be a Mormon.

But still a good film. Go see it!


Eric

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Dear Republicans: You're Done

Dear Republicans,

You're done fighting Obamacare. No, I'm not giving you an order. No, I'm not trying to get you to quit. I'm merely stating an empirical fact. It's over, you're done, there's nothing more you can do.

You see, there comes a point when fighting the surgeon does more harm to the patient than letting the surgeon work, even if that surgeon is incompetent. Wrestling with the surgeon's hands after the patient has been opened up on the table is the worst thing which can possibly be done, and that really should go without saying, but apparently it needs to be said, and you need to overcome your prejudices long enough to hear it.

The government shutdown was disastrous to both sides, but yourselves more so. When two men are hanging onto the steering wheel of a moving car, fighting for control over which direction it will go, and the car is headed towards a large tree, it becomes obvious that one of the two must let go or else the car will be smashed. You were forced to let go this time, but the wheels are still screeching as a result. You've managed to convince some people that wrestling with the steering wheel was the right thing to do, and that it's the fault of the other guy for not letting go, but there is only one person who can be the driver, and that's Barack Obama. That's why he's called the president - he's the one at the wheel. And blaming the driver when the passenger reaches over and tries to force the wheel off-course is just plain silly. Deep down, I think you know this.

Am I saying you're merely a passenger? Well, yes, I am. And for five years you've done nothing more but be the whiney kid who shouts, "I wanna drive! I wanna drive!" during the entire trip. Knock it off! You tried to grab the wheel away from the president once. You can never do so again. We might not avoid the crash next time.

Yes, the Obamacare website is having problems. But the reason for this is that his administration asked for billions to fund the website, and you decided to allot zero dollars for the project. You begrudgingly agreed to a little bit of funding, but that left a few people with picks and shovels the task of moving a mountain. Did it work? Well, for a little while, things certainly have been floundering, but now here comes Google, Red Hat, Bing and other private companies to the rescue, undermining your attempt - yet again- to cure the disease by killing the patient. Thank heavens for them. Bad news for you.

It means Obamacare will go forward no matter what, and the website will eventually work. And now, after implementation, and several months of people growing to like it, you're done.

Surveys have recently shown that if the facts of Obamacare are laid out, but the people being questioned are told that it is a plan put forth by John Boehner and the Republican leadership, that even die-hard Republicans approve. That means that the objection to Obamacare is  not based on rationality - it is based on partisanship. The biggest give-away to corporate insurance companies in history, which is ultimately what health care reform is, is not socialism. How about that?

So now what? Now that you cannot fight Obamacare any more, what's left to do? The best you can hope for in the 2014 mid-terms is to maintain the status-quo, in spite of all your gerrymandering. How can you deal with 2016 and the inevitability of Hillary, and another eight to sixteen years of democratic control in the White House?

If I may offer a humble suggestion, you have only one choice: Spend your time and energies repairing your brand-name instead of attacking the other guy's. Because the latter didn't work, and the former is really the only option left to any sane person.


Eric

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Review: Gravity


We all missed out when the makers of Europa Report decided to rip the accessibility to this great movie away from us this summer.  The movie is now available both on DVD and Net Streaming, and better late than never, but damn, what a missed opportunity those filmmakers had.  They could have made millions, and completely dropped the ball.

Fortunately, for those of us who live for true hard sci-fi movies, there is now one which has made up for this tragic loss. Gravity stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, who share a close working relationship in outer space.  This movie has finally given Hollywood the wake-up call it so richly deserves, sending it the message that science fiction doesn't have to be done like Men In Black in order to be successful. There are now three great cinema works of hard sci-fi: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Contact, and Gravity.

I have no intention of revealing the whole plot of the film, nor will I spoil it for you by giving away the ending, but I will give you the synopsis to whet your appetite, because it truly is an excellent story.  It begins with a space shuttle mission, which is a somewhat dated idea since all our space shuttles have now been retired. The shuttle is doing yet another repair on the Hubble Space Telescope, which again is a bit dated as the HST has now officially been de-funded by NASA.  But if you can get past this, the stage becomes set for a truly massive outer-space adventure. Many satellites operate in close-circuit with each other, sitting in the Clarke orbit, allowing our telecommunications companies to give us everything from full-coverage sports to GPS location. But in this movie, a chance meteor happens to hit one of the nearby satellites. The result is entirely plausible, and quite disastrous. An eruption of bullet-speed shrapnel gets blasted away from the hit satellite, which hits another satellite, which makes more shrapnel, which hits another satellite, which makes more shrapnel to hit another satellite, and so forth in a chain reaction which renders much of the world telecom-blind. Or, as George Clooney's character quips afterward, "Half of North America just lost their Facebook!"

After this, the plot of the film is simple: Survival! The HST and the space shuttle are hit, and destroyed. The astronauts who avoid being killed find themselves stranded and locked in a desperate chase to find any way home, going first to the International Space Station (which abandoned ship at the first sign of trouble), and then to a Chinese satellite as a last-resort. What happens after that, you'll just have to watch the movie to find out.

This is a true science adventure, where all the realities of being in outer space are accurately depicted. Explosions are not heard, merely seen. Sounds of tools being used are not really heard at all, but come across as the muffled residual sounds that travel up the space suit and into the ears of the astronauts inside their helmets. And when an astronaut goes spinning off out of control, he keeps spinning and spinning at the same rate, never slowing down, completely unable to stop the dizzying, stomach-churning terror of the experience. This might not be a movie for the faint of heart, or for those who get sick easily. This is also not a movie for those who want ray-guns, lightsabres, ships which bank as they turn, and all the other unforgivable scientific inaccuracies normally found in movies.

But for those who love space adventures for the science, you're in for a real treat!


Eric

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Biker Permit vs. "Million Muslim March"


Hello, folks.  It's been awhile.  I've missed you.

I suppose that getting used to a more physical form of employment means that I need to adjust to how one goes about writing blog entries.  After all, I can no longer luxuriously write various things when my 3rd shift work is done, can I?  No, now I must slip in a commentary edge-wise when I am not working overtime or being dragged to yet another karaoke show to spend money I shouldn't be.

So what's prompted this entry? Could it be that hyper-extremists are yet again threatening a government shutdown over trying to repeal that which they have no choice but to accept? Oddly enough, no. Such temper-tantrums are things I've written about often enough before (sigh!), and I've grown rather tired of giving what little attention I have left to give to crybabies. No, this time, it's something rather different.

You see, a good friend of mine recently mentioned to me how she'd been a complete Obama fan, but now hates him. Wounded and heartbroken, I asked why. And then she proceeded to tell me a fantastic story. Apparently, Obama denied a permit for a million Harley bikers to ride non-stop, funeral-line-style through Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of 9/11, but on the same day allowed a Million Muslim March to be held in D.C. on the very same day on the White House lawn.  The outrage!

Of course, as soon as the words "Obama" and "Muslim" are said in the same phrase, I instantly become suspicious. How many times have we heard stupid mistakes like this before, where our president is purportedly a Muslim born in Kenya who was planted behind American lines in order to subvert Christianity from within like some sort of Manchurian candidate. I immediately pointed this out to my young lady friend, telling her that I'd research it, but that it was likely bullshit.

Well, I kept my promise, tried to look up the story, and immediately found it - via Fox News. Naturally, my B.S. detector was red flagging me full-blast at this point, but as it turns out, there turned out to be a nugget of truth to the story. Yes, Harley riders were denied a permit to ride unchecked through every stop light and over every pedestrian crossing for hours on end, snarling traffic and preventing grieving families from even reaching their 9/11 memorial sites, while the motorcycles themselves were revved up to a high-decibel-level, window-rattling, alarm-triggering, ear-splitting maximum. I don't blame officials for the denial. At the same time, a permit was granted for the "Million Muslim March," which quickly changed its name to the "Million American March for Peace" or some such silly euphemism, because even die-hard Muslims remember the sting of Louis Farrakahn's embarrassing nonsense. The permit was for a rally in the National Plaza - a place away from traffic and held in a wide-open meeting space near the Washington Monument (NOT the White House lawn!), where rallies are routinely approved for everything from neo-Nazi rallies to banning dish soap. So yes, there's a little truth to the story, and in major pissed-off response, hundreds of thousands of Harley bikers roared through D.C. anyway, obeying traffic laws, red lights, and merely making a lot of noise - you know, the way Harley bikes are supposed to - while not significantly snarling traffic. By contrast, the number of Muslims who showed up on the National Plaza could be counted by two kids on their fingers and toes.

Big dud!

Okay, now my take on all this. Holy shit is this ever a municipal issue! It got decided at the city level, not at the federal level, of government! (Duh!) Traffic permits are granted by the local police department, not the White House! And rally permits are decided by the National Parks Service. The people to blame for this are the mayor of D.C., the chief of police for the District of Columbia, and possibly the Parks Commission. Obama had nothing to do with it! The fact that D.C.'s city government and the federal government are separate is demonstrated by the fact that everything at the national level is so pristine while surrounded by an urban landscape composed of the worst neighborhoods where drug-infested public schools and gang-shootings are common. I know it's common to mistake everything that goes on in Washington as being the president's fault, just as its common to mistakenly blame the president for pretty much everything else.  But Obama is not the mayor of D.C.! And we would do well to remember that. It would be like blaming Obama for Tom Barrett allowing a similar debacle here in Milwaukee!

So let's all just remember what our president's job is, shall we? The president is a bully-pulpit with a veto pen, nothing more. Congress and the Senate run the show. That means we cannot expect Obama to fix everything overnight. He is not a king! (Thank heaven!)

By the same token, we cannot lay the blame at Obama's feet for everything, especially not a permit dispute that some silly mayor fucked up.

And Fox News, you are again full of shit!


Eric

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Society Of Ariel Castros

News coverage has quieted somewhat regarding Egypt.  There are bigger fish to fry in the Middle East as far as the media is concerned, particularly in Syria, where the use of chemical weapons has become the hot-button topic.

I think the focus should be brought back to Egypt for a moment.

I've recently watched some interesting TED Talks from oppressed women from the Middle East (namely, Saudi Arabia) and have discovered an interesting juxtaposition between what's going on in the Islamic world and a recent event in our news locally.

The case of Ariel Castro may seem to have little to do with Egypt.  But upon closer inspection, it bears a great deal of similarity.  Castro kidnapped and confined three young women in his basement for an entire decade, forcing them to exchange sex for food and favors, getting them pregnant, disposing of the unwanted pregnancies in gruesome ways, and the list of horrors goes on.  What has this to do with the Middle East? It's as simple as listening to what Castro had to say at his sentencing hearing.

Castro insisted that the hearing was a sham, that he had done nothing wrong, that all the sex was consensual, and that the girls wanted to be under his protection, hidden away from the world. This sounds insane to any of us who are rational, and that's because it is. But here's the Middle East connection:

What, in Ariel Castro's argument, is different about how he viewed his captives and about how Muslim men view the women of their society?

The stunning answer is: there isn't one!

Think about it. The only difference between the captivity of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, and the millions of Muslim women who are kept locked indoors or buried beneath piles of hot black cloth, is the form of the prison. The males of the Muslim world are comprised of one, gigantic Ariel Castro population!

We condemn Castro as insane for his statements. Why then do we not condemn the Islamic world similarly? "She loves her captivity," "the forced sex is consensual," "she is happy in her subservient status." Are these statements really insane when they come out of the mouth of a professed Christian, yet sane when they come out of the mouth of a Muslim?

And now we come to Egypt, because the Ariel Castros of that country, going by the name of the Muslim Brotherhood, have tried to take advantage of a flawed structure in Egypt's first democratic election to attempt a takeover of a secular country, imposing Sharia bullshit and stealing away human rights and liberties. But the Amanda Berrys of Egypt escaped, and held enough sway over Egypt's military to oust the Ariel Castros, hopefully for good. Now, the Ariel Castros are fighting back, and they are twice as violent!

Yes, it's hard to see genocide being exacted upon anyone, but Islam is the sort of evil which seeks to hijack democratic liberties and make them subservient to its own ends. In the interest of "tolerance" it proceeds to seek police protection for its intolerance. In the interest of "religious liberty," it tries to outlaw apostates. In the interest of "freedom of speech" it tries to ban any negative expressions against its religion or its god. Criticism of Islam is labeled "hate speech," and there are some liberals who are damnably fool enough to buy into it.

Islam wants to kill democracy. Not figuratively, but literally. Freedom of speech means we are blasphemers. Freedom of religion means we are infidels. Insisting that we be free of their attempts to force their religion upon us means that we are intolerant. Well, since that is the case, we must meet violence with violence, and we cannot be tolerant of that which is not tolerant of us. We cannot beat this kind of evil without occasionally raising the gun and firing, because that's the only language such disguised Satanism understands. And if we are unwilling to meet fire with fire, then democracy will be thrown into a deep, dark basement, and the key will forever hang around Ariel Castro's neck.

Egypt understands.  60% of the country is secular, and means to stay that way. But they've lived with Islam in their back yards for hundreds of years, and they know how intolerant it can be. They were nearly cheated out of their democracy, and rightly demand a do-over. They know that the rioting must be put down under the jack boot of counter-violence, because those who are bound within a nutshell and count themselves the kings of infinite space desperately seek to impose their "freedom" upon the rest of us.

Way to go, Egypt! Be sure to give those Ariel Castros a black eye on behalf of America! We love you!

And may we be so wise when the time comes, because it will.


Eric

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Time Warner Customers: Demand Your Rebate!


I find it somewhat interesting that Time Warner Cable has now axed all of its CBS affiliate stations in key municipalities.  According to them, the programming is not there because of the excessive demands being made by the network for re-broadcasting fees.  But the network executives beg to differ, claiming that it's Time Warner which is being unfair by demanding rates that would undermine the network's profitability anyway.  On both sides, editorials are being broadcast which preach their side of the argument.  As is usually the case with entertainment executives, both sides are wrong.

Oddly, here in Milwaukee, it is the NBC affiliate, WTMJ Channel 4, which is the odd one out. It's out for the same reason the CBS stations are out in other markets.  In those areas, like New York or L.A., CBS is the top market. In Milwaukee, WTMJ is the dominant news and entertainment outlet.  It's all a matter of who's on top and where.

There is a key lesson to take away from this, and it has to do with free market capitalism. If perfectly balanced, free market capitalism ensures competition between businesses, which lowers prices to their minimum possible value.  But if taken to its fullest logical conclusion, this means that profits become almost zero, at which point there is very little point in being in business at all. Yes, the free market works for the consumer, but not always perfectly, because if there is no profit at all in the business, the goods don't get to market, no matter how badly the goods might be needed. In the case of Time Warner vs. CBS, both sides can't agree because a fair deal for both sides means no profitability for either one.  The free market has failed, and so the goods end up not getting to market. Yes, capitalism works, but it does have its flaws.

My take on this is simple: I don't care! All I care about is Time Warner providing me with what I, and you, paid for. Time Warner couldn't reach a new contract agreement, and so many stations went off the air. What they forget is that they already had an existing contract with YOU, the customer, and that contract has now been violated! They agreed to provide you with certain channels at a set price.  Now, some of those channels are gone.  They broke their deal with you. Hell, it's not like that deal was even fair to begin with, as you are paying $50 to $80 per month just to have advertisements blared at you from every one of the 2000 channels you are presumably getting quality entertainment from, when your favorite show finally gets a word in edgewise.

So, if channels are missing, calculate the percentage of favorite shows you watch which have been lost, multiply that against the monthly rate you pay to Time Warner, and then demand your rebate!  Maybe it's only $2 or $3, but if we all demand it at once, it will amount to millions!

Well, if you break millions of contracts in order to be hard-nosed with ONE contract, just because that contract happens to be with another too-big corporation, then you deserve to lose all that money!


Eric

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hey CNN! Do Your Job!

So, George Zimmerman is acquitted.  Wonderful.

I mean wonderful that the trial's finally fucking over, not that Zimmerman is off the hook.  Why?  Because now CNN, MSNBC and HLN can finally begin reporting the news again.

Yes, I know that Trayvon Martin's death was a watershed incident.  Yes, I know that Florida jurors have sent the message that vigilante justice is now legitimized.  And yes, I know that this could now incite a race war in the state of Florida and possibly elsewhere.  But you know what? There are other news stories out there besides this!

The only news stories to break through the din of this trial, however briefly, were a plane crash and a derailed fuel train fire which wiped out half a whole town.  And even then, the fuel train story went under-reported.  Meanwhile, over two weeks' worth of news has been lost, unless CNN does a very lengthy segment called "While You Were Out" in which it finally covers all the news stories it neglected.

Fox News provided the only break, albeit temporarily.  They too over-covered the story, even though they reported other news events once in a while.  You'll never hear me say this very often, but here it is: Thank you, Fox News.

You would think MSNBC would take the hint and let CNN do all the over-covering of the story, but no. It's not enough to have one entire news network hobbled by this story, we have to have TWO entire news networks to cover ONE damned event!

Even the Superbowl isn't broadcast on two networks simultaneously!

Look, this was not the O.J. Simpson trial, here!  And even if it was, it was only a fragment of what we needed to know about in order to stay informed as citizens!  Sure, this was an important story, but important to the exclusion of everything else.

So, congratulations, Zimmerman, you are cleared. Jerk.

And congratulations to CNN and MSNBC for your unearned two week vacation.  Now get back to work and do your job finally!


Eric

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Egypt, and the Reclaiming of Democracy

What can we say about the military coup which has taken place in Egypt in recent days?  Is it, as Our Trophy President has mistakenly said, a matter of grave concern?  Should we mourn the overthrow of a democratically elected administration?  Is this a failure of democracy in the Islamic world?

Hell, no!  This is democracy at its finest, and we all need to stand up and cheer! During this July 4th holiday, with our fireworks of celebration for our own imperfect liberty, we need to recognize this with acute clarity. Egypt, it has now shown, is ready for democracy, perhaps more so than any other Islamic nation. Why? Just ask Thomas Jefferson, who said in a letter to William Stephens Smith in 1787:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Indeed so. Jefferson, and indeed many of the founding fathers, felt that the government always needed to be overthrown on occasion as a matter of course in order to prevent corruption from building slowly from within.  He never envisioned that the constitution he helped draft would survive, more or less intact, for two and a third centuries!  Democracy, on occasion, requires a "do over," in case an election falls prey to a technicality, or elite money begins to have a louder voice than the Common Man.

Take a look at how Egypt's first ever democratic election proceeded.  Rather than having a two-party system, they had a multiple party system where the two candidates who secured the most votes ran against each other in a run-off election.  Sounded good on paper, but when the dust settled, they were left with two complete assholes to choose from, both of whom garnered the most votes by securing the vote of extremist minorities.  Candidate one was Ahmed Shafik - the former Prime Minister of Egypt under Hosni Mubarak, who garnered the vote of the loyalists to the old regime.  The other was, of course, Mohamed Morsi, who secured the vote of the Muslim Brotherhood, and all its Islamic jihadist bullshit.  Egyptians had to mourn the loss of dozens of better and more qualified candidates, and then decide between bad and worse.  Most opted for Morsi, simply because he was not the Mubarak candidate.  Even so, so many Egyptians hated the prospect of a Muslim extremist in power that he only won by the slimmest of margins at 51%.

What a debacle!  Egypt has rightly insisted upon their "do over." They  know its their right, and they'll settle for nothing less.  No, the overthrow of Morsi isn't the failure of democracy.  The failure was in how they structured the electoral process.  60% of Egyptians are secularists - who don't want Sharia law bossing them about and want their Coptic Christian friends accorded the same rights which they possess. Good! They should win! But their vote was fractured into too many different directions, allowing a run-off between Tweedle-Dumb, and Tweedle-Dumber. So now they'll try again, and this time, they'll have a more structured primary process which allows a moderate candidate to be a finalist every single time.  Perhaps a two-tiered primary before a final run-off election will be put into place.  Or perhaps the secularist parties will consolidate to allow their candidate a fair chance.  Whatever happens, we can rest assured that Egypt will never be a new Iran.  They have shown the way, with their women throwing off their hijabs and their men shaving off their beards, how democracy must insist on nothing less than getting it right the first time!

So where does this miraculous bit of good news from the Middle East leave us?  What lesson should we take from being out-democratized by the Arab world?  The answer, of course, is that we need our own revolution of sorts.  But unlike in Egypt, we cannot stage a military coup.  First, our military is simply too well paid for its soldiers to turn upon Washington.  But second, and far more importantly, our government's downfall would spell the downfall of countless other governments.  Ron and Rand Paul like to preach that our monetary system, centered on the U.S. Dollar, is not based upon anything since it went off the gold standard. Bullshit! Every dollar is backed up by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.  In other words, the Government IS the gold which sustains the dollar! Destroy the government and you inevitably destroy the dollar with it. With the fall of the dollar will come the downfall of every other form of currency which depends upon it, including the Euro, the Yen, the Pound and the Yuen.

So what can we do? Our democracy has gotten so far out of reach of the people that only millionaires can run for public office. And in that fact lies the solution to what we must do:  We must, as surely as we need air, cut the money out from our electoral process!

According to the Citizens' United ruling from the Supreme Court, less than 200 people can direct any election by forcing certain candidates in or out by directing the flow of money into their campaigns.  In other words, the number of people who can vastly influence elections is less than the number of legislators on Capital Hill, and nearly as many as the number of Senators!  By all that is good and just, THIS MUST STOP!

How?  We take no more of this insane bullshit about campaign contributions, that's how! The dream of McCain/Feingold isn't dead just because Feingold got knocked out by the very same Supreme Court ruling which struck down the piece of campaign reform legislation he helped engineer. The insane amounts of money destroy conservative interests just as much as liberal ones, and it does no party any good when 60% of a representative's time is spent, from day one, fundraising for the next election so that he, and his party, can remain in power!

1.) Corporations are not people!  They are governments!  COMPETING governments, as it turns  out!  And the governments of Wal-Mart, Exxon, BP and others must be forever barred from dumping ridiculous amounts of money into campaigns.

2.) Let's put the cap back on dollar amounts to contribute!  No, not back at $2,000, but something more drastic.  $1,000!  Yes, if a politician wants to win, he's just going to have to go out there, wear down some shoe leather, shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies, and actually talk to people!

3.) Enough with the T.V. and radio ad blitzes!  We all know that the reason the money has gotten so over-bloated is because the network executives engineered it that way!  They pay people like Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh at a probable loss (no, I can't prove it, but I'm absolutely convinced!) so that they can rake in the ad revenues every two to four years.  Well, with one voice we can all say FUCK THAT!  It's time for a consumer revolt!  News Corp and Comcast have had their fun, but now it's time for them to FUCK OFF of our politics!

We are, as a society, sensible enough to put spending restrictions upon our sports teams, but we fail to do the same thing when it comes to our political candidates.  Now, that's a serious level of insane!

So it's with great pride that I announce  my push to end ALL political advertising.  It's as simple as all of us collectively saying together that we simply won't take it anymore!  We may not change the candidates, but if we're LOUD about it, they will listen!  To my voting rules list, I am adding a new Rule #1:

All things being equal, vote against the millionaire!

Or, we can allow ourselves the embarrassment of seeing Egypt becoming a better democracy than our own.


Eric

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lawsuit Idea

In general, I think our society is too litigious. We sue over everything, from spilled coffee at a McDonald's drive-through, to (and I just heard about this one) towing companies who wear out someone's tires when the city tows an illegally parked vehicle. Still, in our lawsuit-happy culture, there may yet be one worthwhile lawsuit worth filing, and I'm positively shocked that all the local ambulance-chasers out there haven't yet thought of it.

You see, as readers of this blog already know, every once in a while I'm struck with a brilliant bit of insight from out of fucking nowhere. This recent brainstorm hit me when I was (of all things) hemming up my softball leggings. (Um, yeah.) I was simultaneously listening to Penn Jillette's Sunday School podcast (which I highly recommend), and he was talking about how certain politicians seem to get elected no matter what. This, as I've often pointed out, is a reflection of gerrymandering, which is a euphemism for vote-stealing on the part of the political party which happens to be in power at the time of the drawing up of voting districts.

Recent example: Republican Mark Sanford was recently elected back into public office in a congressional district of South Carolina which is drawn heavily conservative. In case you've forgotten (and polls say you have), Mark Sanford was the inconsiderate prick who told people that he was "hiking the Appalachian trail" when in fact he was off to Buenos Aires to have an affair with his Argentinian mistress. For this, he was drummed out as South Carolina's governor and forced to resign. Two years later, the voters of this particular congressional district decided they'd rather have a conservative hypocrite than a liberal with integrity, and voted him into office over Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Stephen Colbert. In response, he thanked God as a deity not only  of second chances, "but of third, forth, fifth, sixth and seventh chances!" This apparently got a roar of approval from his supporters.

Welcome back, Plenary Indulgence. We've apparently missed you since the Middle Ages.

In a world where districts are drawn fairly, the moderate middle would have kicked this son-of-a-bitch out on his arrogant ass. Instead, gerrymandering has given this guy an ego that will make him believe he can get away with just about every damned thing, and he'll be quite correct. And all because political parties in power are allowed to engage in a conflict of interest when drawing up district maps. How backward!

And then I realized it: Conflict of interest! Isn't that already against the law? Indeed it is! For lawyers practicing law, anyway. It can result in a lawyer becoming disbarred, or a judge being forced to recuse himself from a case. Can politicians be forced to avoid conflict of interest? Well, the answer is, sometimes, and not all that often. But has anybody ever brought a lawsuit to that effect? Has there ever been a citizen bold enough to sue the (in this case) Republican Party over drawing up unfair districts on the grounds that it is a conflict of interest?

I don't think so. And that's why I'm kicking the idea out there. Could somebody please do that? I haven't the energy or the time for it, but somebody out there does! Citizens surely have a right to have their districts drawn fairly, and to have district borders which ensure that their votes are not stolen by border-dancing.

If a prison inmate can sue over not receiving crunchy peanut-butter because it goes against his totally-made-up religious rights, then surely, we who are not in jail can accomplish this one, noble lawsuit!


Eric

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bob the Tomato comes out: "I'm a fruit!"


Bob the Tomato, the talking produce-item best known as one of the primary characters on "Veggie Tales," officially came out of the closet on Monday as a fruit, rather than a vegetable.

"I know this will come as a great disappointment to my many young Christian fans," Bob said in an official press conference, "but I can no longer deny who I am.  I am a fruit, and I prefer being with other fruits."

The shocking statement comes amid a number of recent celebrity declarations as to their true orientation, including that of Jason Collins, the NBA center for the Washington Wizards, who openly came out as gay in the recently published May issue of Sports Illustrated.

The announcement came as no surprise to Dr. Zachariah Zucchini, an activist from the left side of the produce aisle. "Tomatoes are technically classified as a fruit," he told reporters at the Sun. "Bob simply cannot help the way that he is, because he was born that way. The same thing goes for pumpkins, gourds and cucumbers. They are fruit with the seeds inside."

But Bob's long-time collaborator and friend, Larry Cucumber, vehemently disagrees. "I don't know what [Dr. Zucchini] could be thinking, calling us fruits," he said. "I know in my heart that I'm a vegetable. And I've also known Bob my whole life. He's a vegetable, too. We grew up in the same vegetable garden, were placed in the same vegetable aisle at the same grocery store, and were sold as vegetables. I still have the receipt. It says, 'veg: $2.98'. Fruit was being sold at a different price. I hope he prayerfully re-considers his true nature."

Bob's declaration has fueled long-standing rumors of an extended studio affair between himself and Tom Grape, the son of the elderly, Yiddish-accented Pa Grape. Tom could not be reached for a statement.

Pastor Ted Haggard, who has struggled with his sexual orientation in recent years, immediately weighed in with a written statement: "I know that our Brother Bob must be going through some trying times, but I hope he understands that the Lord knows that he is truly a vegetable. I will pray that God relieves him of his temptation, just as I continually pray that he relieves him of mine."

"I don't care what they say, he's a vegetable!" said Creflo Cabbage, leader of Christians for the Culinary Arts, who was asked about the incident afterward at the 'Pulse of the Nation' event in Washington, D.C. "Does he taste sweet? No! Fruits taste sweet! It's as simple as that!"
When his wife quietly pointed out that Bob was a little bit sweet, Creflo was observed to harshly whisper, "Shut up!"

Fredrick Lettuce, leader of the "God Hates Fruits!" movement, is currently organizing a petition to get Bob the Tomato permanently banned from all Christian bookstores and Veggie Tales products.


Eric

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Real Boston Bombs

Once again, we have a bombing by Islamist militants in a major city. Once again, Americans vow that they will have justice.

And once again, nobody is blaming the root cause of the violence: Religion.

Don't get me wrong, there are real problems of poverty and bloodshed which give people good reason to be pissed, religion or not. But the Koran is unambiguously clear about what is to be done with infidels and  apostates. They are to be killed. Not tolerated or endured for the sake of religious freedom. No, KILLED. No ambiguity about the Arabic translation can alter that fact. This is why Muslims will bomb the West for disrupting political affairs in Iran or Afghanistan, but Hispanic Christians will not bomb the U.S. for even greater disruption in Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua or El Salvador. And this is truly puzzling, because in those nations, interference by the U.S. has resulted in much MORE poverty and bloodshed! But instead of bombing us, Latinos are desperate to come here to live a better life. Go figure!

Thank goodness for the canonization of the Book of John.

Here is the bottom line: Everybody wants to know how we can stop bombings. How do we make certain that such acts of terror never happen again? The answer is surprisingly simple, and it's the same answer for Islamist violence as it is for, let's say, pedophilia in the Catholic priesthood. How do we put a stop to it?

Simple. Muslims must LEAVE the Islamic religion every time another terrorist bomber scandalizes them yet again with another, embarrassing act of violence! I mean seriously, folks, if your fellow dinner guests keep shitting on your food, why do you continue to eat at that table?! Get up and WALK OUT! Is that so unreasonable? I mean, just imagine how bombings would instantly stop if bombers realized that each and every bomb resulted in only 5,000 people leaving the Islamic religion. Terrorism would be guaranteed to stop overnight!

The same thing applies to pedophile priests. The problem persists because there are too many parishioners and too few priests to go around, right? Well, here's the solution, if you're Catholic: LEAVE! I mean, shit, what a simple fix!

What's that? You say you don't want to leave? I'm not surprised. You people would rather shove rusted nails up your urethras than change anything about your religion or your politics. Well, if you insist, there is a common-sense compromise. Rather than leaving, simply go on a temporary leave of absence!

Really, I mean, why not? Just say to your priest or Immam, "Seeya later guys! I'm on religious vacation! I'll be back when you assholes allow women into the priesthood and fire every pedophile!" Or, "I'll return when there are no more Islamic bombings and I'm convinced that there will never be another one!"

It's really not disrespectful. You are being loyal to God, but disloyal to the bureaucracy of stumblebums who claim to be His representatives. And when someone asks what your religion is, just say, "I'm a suspended Catholic. My faith is on hold until the Church gets its act together." Or, "I'm technically a Muslim, but I'm on hiatus until all Islamic terrorism is stamped out." Those are respectable answers! They show that you are both loyal to your upbringing, and to justice! But if your answer is that you are Catholic in spite of its abuse of children, or that you are Muslim in spite of all the violence the "religion of peace" continually engages in, then you are sending a clear message that your religion can engage in all the shenanigans it can get away with, without any fear of reprisal.

Empty pews! Empty churches! Empty mosques! And most importantly, empty offering plates! These are the only things the clergy pays any attention to, and are the only things that will force them to amend themselves! And if you refuse to utilize these weapons, then you are allowing the guilty to get away, unpunished. Shame on you for your faithful tithes and attendance!

Visit the Lutherans for awhile, if you must go through the rituals. I mean, that's why Lutheranism was put there in the first place, right?

This is why I do not buy the argument that goes, "Most Muslims/Catholics are good people, it is only a few bad apples who do these terrible things." Yeah, well, if they're so goddamned good, why are they still in the fold? If you are part of a power-abusing religious sect, and you have not left, even temporarily, then you are complicit with the guilty within your creed! You are endorsing the bad behavior by refusing to implement the one thing which will hold them accountable: your absence!

Thus, all Muslims who remain Muslim in the wake of the Boston bombings are as guilty as the bombers themselves. You are the REAL Boston bombs! Either leave, or own your fucking guilt!

And who knows? You might take a break from your religion and find that you just might like how it feels over here on this side.


Eric

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Monday, April 15, 2013

My Jackie Robinson Story

Jackie Robinson.  It's good that we have a day set aside to honor the man. It's even better that we have a new movie coming out about him. We are right to regard him as a hero. He broke down racial barriers and helped pave the way towards a better America. Half a century after his breakthrough into the major leagues, an African American is now President of the United States, and the era of racial equality is that much closer.

But it isn't here yet. Racism is still alive and kicking. Oh, I'm not referring to the racism exhibited by the sad, tattered remnants of the Ku Klux Klan, or the racist attitudes subconsciously, and obviously to all but themselves, adhered to by Tea Party activists (much to their frustrated confusion). No, I'm referring to the racist attitudes held by the African American Community, and how difficult it will be to get it to let them go.

You see, as blasphemous as it is for me to say this on the day set aside for the first great black baseball player, racism is now primarily a black phenomenon rather than a white one.  But, after all, blasphemy is what we do here at the Sacred Cow Wursthaus. There is a prevailing inner-city mentality which seems to say that the sins against one's forebears are somehow legitimate reason to receive a free ride today, and that the innocent children of the perpetrators of past crimes should be made to pay restitution. In other words, two wrongs make a right. Or, the fallacy of children being responsible for a parents' crime (a mistake upon which all of Christianity is based) somehow holds true.

For once, complaints made by the right-wing establishment are correct. Hiring a sub-standard worker or accepting a sub-standard college student application based upon skin color is racist. Period. Afrro-centric racism is just as evil as Euro-centric racism. (Or Asian or Hispanic-centered, for that matter.) And Afro-centric racism is arguably even more evil because it is committed by the children of those who suffered under racial oppression. How utterly bizarre it is that the descendants of those who suffered under the lash of the slave-driver in the cotton fields are so quick to take up the whip themselves!

How even more bizarre that more don't take advantage of receiving undue privilege! A young, black male could write his own ticket with a crappy resume simply by donning a business suit. Why in hell are black youth bothering to not even pull up their pants, much less themselves?

You see, Jackie Robinson didn't ask that the bar be lowered. He raised the bar, and set it higher for himself than for his white teammates. He didn't ask for affirmative action. He didn't NEED affirmative action. To prove the point that he was equal, he excelled. He didn't just hold his own, he dominated. And in so doing, he proved that skin color was poor criteria for rejecting a ball player who could take you to the World Series.

And that's the secret: If a person can prove that the team is better with him or her on their side, that person will be accepted onto the team. Period.

But what Jackie Robinson did led to the death of the negro leagues. With black players able to play Major League baseball, there was simply no more need. Why even have a "black" drinking fountain when everyone can drink from the "white" one? And that scares some people. Integration means the end of black culture, and that leads some to defend black culture against incursions, even if that form of discrimination holds black people in perpetual chains. This, my friends, is why a young black man will refuse to pull up his pants, even in a political era when simply donning a suit will get him hired on the spot, crappy resume notwithstanding. Also, privilege makes us blind. We will do anything not to see the truth when the truth means having to give up a privileged position. For an example, just look at the blatant hypocrisy of the CEO's who decry the evils of welfare while playing golf with a handicap. (Think about it: How is a handicap NOT golf-welfare?)

I get to say these things as a white man because none of my ancestors owned a black slave. My lineage is not tainted with past sins, so I can simply speak my mind guilt-free. But I can understand the pressure some might feel. We need to overcome this and recognize that there is no us/them anymore. There's just us.

Whatever happened to the Great American Melting Pot? Wasn't there this great idea that all races would meld together inside the borders of the U.S. to make one, great society of people? I suppose that was only meant for Europeans. Americans were meant to be a mix of German, Irish, Welsh or French, but not Haitian, Mexican, or West African. I say we revitalize the Melting Pot idea, and call it the "copper kettle." After all, when we're all done intermingling, intermarrying, and interbreeding, Americans will have a kind of copper-colored skin tone, beautiful to behold. Penn Jilette said it best: The best way to end racism is to fuck white people. And fuck black people. And fuck Asian people, Hispanic people, Jewish people... pretty soon there will be no racism because - no more races!

INTEGRATION. It's not a dirty word, damn it!

Not that I agree with the word "race" in the first place. The human race is the only race. It's beyond obvious that continental ancestry or skin tone does not constitute a separate species, much less an entirely separate race. Dog and rabbit. Now, there's a difference in races. A black human and a white human are no more different races than are a black cat and a white cat.

When racial equality arrives, it will not have much fanfare. No parades, no bands playing, no confetti. And the reason for this will be because it came upon us so gradually, so stealthfully, that we won't have noticed that it did so. Eventually, someone will make an observation that goes something like, "Hey, isn't that weird segregated era back in the early 21st century an oddity?" And somebody else will say, "Yeah, that was kind of strange. I wonder when exactly it happened that we got over it?"

Well, we will get over it after we integrate. And not just integrate, but integrated to the point where we no longer are even conscious of skin tone anymore.


Eric

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

SCOTUS And Gay Marriage


Call me old fashioned, but I believe that America is supposed to be the Land of the Free.

Maybe that's a rather conservative value to be held by someone as admittedly non-traditional as myself, but these United States were founded upon the idea that individuals may pursue happiness in their own way, without government intervention.

So you'll forgive me if I'm just plain sick and tired of same-sex marriage even being an issue anymore. Yes, I appreciate everyone on Facebook putting up pink pictures with equal-signs on them as a show of solidarity, but it shouldn't be necessary by now.

So you think it's against God's law?  Fine.  So then it's against the law - IN YOUR CHURCH. There's just plain nothing that necessitates that it be made the government's business, except some idiotic religious imperative which insists that those outside of said religion must conform to that creed's moral edicts. And if this isn't enough to make a sane person vomit, the aforementioned religion serves up an ipecac cocktail by dragging the government into it, as if what goes on in a person's private life is ever the government's damned business. You want to prevent gays from getting married? Here's how you do it Mr. or Mrs. Christian: You go out and  preach the gospel to the gay people. And when they've been brought to the Lord, they can repent. That's your job! How DARE you ask Uncle Sam to do your evangelizing for you!

Look, I know that our government loves assholes. That's no reason for it to get so jealous when certain assholes get fucked by someone other than the usual politician. Okay, maybe you happen to be someone who thinks that homosexuality is icky. Okay, fine. But then so are nose piercings. So are Speedos worn by fat people. So are those ridiculous pants which hang three feet down off the asses of inner city ghetto punks. But these gross and disgusting things are perfectly legal, and none of the government's business. And that's the way it should be.

Let me illustrate something about gay behavior, because there is a genetic component. Oh, not always, and not each time to the same degree, but most gay people are born, not made. I could go into detail here about what science says about homosexuality and genetics, but that would take too long. Just be informed that genes play a role in our sexual tastes, and that being the case, nearly all animals show occasional homosexual tendencies. Go look it up. A volume titled, "Biological Exuberance" is an excellent resource.

The puzzling thing comes with how homosexuality manifests itself with humans. A much larger percentage engages in this behavior in our species than in other animals. Why might that be? Part of the answer might lie in the occasional straight person who turns to homosexuality as a means of escaping the foibles of the other gender. More than one lesbian has told me that she prefers men, but can't stand male shit. But this is a minority within the gay community. The real answer comes from evolution.

If a person is born in a society where homosexuality is repressed, perhaps to the point where gays are killed on sight, a person born gay has a real dilemma. How do they survive in a world where they are outlawed? The answer is obvious: pretend to be straight! For centuries, this is exactly what took place. Gay men married and fathered children because that's what they were expected to do. Gay women didn't get a vote in the process. But that meant that the gay genetic code survived, multiplied and thrived! Today, the result is that this genetic tendency has reached a kind of critical mass, where there are too many to be kept silent any longer.

In other words, if the religious right wishes to condemn the homosexual rights movement, it has only itself to blame for creating that movement in the first place!

Oh, religion could have done the smart thing by not condemning homosexuality.  You see, gays do not breed naturally, meaning that gay people born with that tendency would have, in ages past, simply died childless. But that age has passed, and the Internet and medical science has made certain that gay people can propagate. In a world ridiculously overpopulated, having a percentage of people who don't breed naturally isn't such a bad thing.

But for the religious, it's too late. They went and took a huge dump right where they eat. Too bad. The debate is over. It's only the die-hards who will continue to fight over it. But rest assured...

...the day is soon coming when it will be the Christians who must stay inside the closet for fear of being ridiculed!


Eric

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Monday, March 25, 2013

The 2nd Amendment

Well, I've been away from this blog during the eight or so weeks it's taken me to complete a machinist training program, and I'm glad to be back. Hello, people! I've missed you! And a few things have taken place over that stretch of time, not least of which is the slow strangulation of the outrage over the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.  New gun control legislation has gone from a near certainty to an almost certain impossibility, demonstrating the principle that if it wasn't headlined in the news yesterday, it won't get legislation passed today. Outrage, it seems, only lasts until the next episode of How I Met Your Mother goes on the air, and the empathy of the general public dries up almost as soon as the blood on the pavement does.

It also demonstrates the overwhelming power of gerrymandering - oh, excuse me, I meant to say vote stealing. Enough members of congress are more scared of what their illegitimately twisted districts will think than of what the people in their state think overall. Thus, something with overwhelming public support, such as the regulating of gun show sales, gets much less support than it deserves because the buckshot-redneck minority gets a disproportionately loud voice. Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I really don't think the founding fathers of this great nation intended to give veto powers to the NASCAR crowd.  It's time the hicks took their thumbs off the scales.

Let me clarify what the 2nd amendment truly means, because as usual, most people miss the point. Yes, it's true, the 2nd amendment does protect a citizens' right to buy and own firearms. The intention at the time was to make sure states had well-regulated militias comprised of volunteer fighters, but that's both ancient history, and beside the point. The right to own guns is ours, period. That much is settled.

How-EVER! The second amendment also says nothing, nothing regarding the re-sale of said gun to another party. In other words, while the second amendment may protect your right to buy and own a firearm, it does not protect your right to turn around and sell that gun to someone else! So, if the government insists on all re-sales being brokered through it's own, little bureaucracy, can it do so?

The answer is, hell yeah! Not only is the government entirely within its bounds, but I argue it has an obligation to do so!

The NRA can claim many things about regulating re-sales at gun shows, but it cannot claim protection of 2nd amendment rights. The right to re-sale just plain not in there! It can claim that it's a bad idea on moral principle, or it can argue that regulating gun sales in an infringement on free trade, or it can argue any number of other angles - but it cannot argue 2nd amendment!

The regulation of gun re-sales is absolutely Constitutional!

So back off, NRA! Stand down, Sarah Palin! And Ted Nugent? Fuck off, will ya buddy? You're just a musician, after all!

So, you want to own a gun? Fine. You want to sell that gun? Go get a license!

Either that, or wait until your local municipality's next gun buyback program.


Eric

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Okay, YOU Balance The Budget! (Part II)


Two years ago, I outlined what it's like to be the one to balance the nation's budget.  Back then, the government was threatening shutdown over increasing the debt ceiling.  It was overwhelmingly clear then that it was impossible to balance the national checkbook without cutting spending AND raising taxes both.  Now, with the sequester underway, and with various areas of government all feeling the pinch, it seems relevant for me to re-visit the idea.  Republicans have drawn a line in the sand regarding spending cuts rather than tax increases.  Is this even possible?  Or is the current situation similar to the one of two years ago?

Indeed, the situation is exactly the same.  Here are the projected numbers for 2013, courtesy of the Congressional Budget Office:

2,902 billion in revenues (that's incoming taxes).
3,803 billion in outlays (that's government spending).
901 billion in deficit (that's the amount we're spending too much of and putting on the nation's credit card).

That means that balancing the budget would involve raising our current tax revenue by one-third of today's levels (31%), or else slashing about one-quarter (23.7%) of national spending.


2,293 billion is mandatory spending, while 1,510 billion is discretionary.  In other words, one would have to jettison two-thirds of our discretionary spending in order to balance the budget.


That's not as bad as two years ago, when balancing the budget meant dealing with a deficit which was half the nation's income, and nearly all discretionary spending.  The numbers are moving in the right direction.  Obama kept his promise of cutting the nation's deficit in half by the start of his second term (it just happened after the election was over, that's all).  But we're still in dire straits.

And it's still impossible to balance the budget without cutting spending and increasing revenues both!

The one number which is worse is the national debt.  It now stands projected at $17.5 trillion for 2013, up from $14.8 trillion in 2011.  The debt increase is leveling off, which is good, but is still increasing and that's bad.  Plus we're paying interest on all that, and that's even worse.  This, more than anything else, makes the need for increasing revenues of paramount importance.

What part of "no choice" do Republicans not understand?

Any lines in the sand which have been drawn over not increasing revenues are just that - lines in the sand; the transient, shifting, impermanent, wind-blown dust. Increasing revenue is not off the table, as Republicans will insist, but is rather welded to the table!  Any chin-boogie to the contrary is nothing but monkey-chatter.

Now here's where it really gets interesting: The entire 2012 presidential campaign was predicated on balancing the budget through closing loopholes in the tax code. Over and over again, Mitt Romney insisted that the budget could be balanced through tax reform, and this became the official Republican stance: closing loopholes did not constitute increasing taxes.

So why are they even bothering to fight over this now?  All Obama wants to do is close the tax loopholes that Mitt Romney wanted to close!

Ah, but the nation doesn't have a tax problem, say the so-called conservatives, it has a spending problem.  Bullshit! It has a spending AND a tax problem!

So, let's recap: Republicans are fighting over an issue they themselves campaigned in favor of in their attempt to unseat Barack Obama, one in which they have no choice but to capitulate upon, and they're willing to throw the entire nation under the sequestration bus in order to accomplish this.

Fucking really?

Peter Segal of NPR's news-quiz show, 'Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!' said it best: "Barack Obama set up the sequestration agreement on the premise that Congress would have to be crazy to allow it to happen.  Well, right there, you can see the flaw in the logic."

Indeed. Congress is bat-shit crazy!

Now, here's where my rant reaches a fever pitch: Why in frakkin' Hades did Newt Gingrich get to sit his smug fat-ass in front of David Gregory for twenty fucking minutes without having to confront ANY of this?!


Eric

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Friday, February 1, 2013

In Praise Of Mark Kelley



In recent testimony on Capitol Hill, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords drew praise and applause for the speech she gave in support of Obama’s proposed gun legislation.

“We must do something,” she said in her halting, child-like voice. “You must act. Be bold, be courageous, Americans are counting on you. Thank you.”

Couldn’t have said it better, Gabby. You’re a true American hero. But I’m giving the loudest applause for your husband. You got lucky in him, babe!

Check this out: This man, Mark Kelly, is an astronaut! He has an M.S. in aeronautical engineering. This guy flew jets during Gulf War I! He’s exactly the guy all us boys wanted to be when we grew up. And to top all that off, he got to go to the International Space Station! He flew four shuttle missions, including the final launch of Space Shuttle Endeavor.

He was married once before. His former wife apparently wanted more of a stay-at-home dad who would spend more time with his two daughters instead of a guy who was almost never home because he had to constantly be moving beyond the speed of sound.

When he met Gabby, he must have known that he’d found in her the type of woman who was a perfect match. He could continue his light-speed career, while she could pursue her fast-paced career in politics. The two could both live the amazing lives they both craved, see each other occasionally for intense moments of intimacy, and then go back to full throttle again. It was the kind of relationship where you didn’t have to sweat the small stuff. When they were married, former labor secretary Robert Reich, who attended, offered them a toast: “To a bride who moves at a velocity that exceeds that of anyone else in Washington, and a groom who moves at a velocity that exceeds 17,000 miles per hour.”

All that changed on January 8, 2011, when Gabby Giffords was shot in an assassination attempt by Jared Loughner. The dummkopf botched the job, but successfully shot and killed several other ancillary targets, including a little girl.

The focus here is on the fact that Mark Kelly, a man who never wanted to sweat the small stuff, now had nothing but small stuff ahead of him to sweat out. He wasn’t home enough while his two daughters were little. Now he has what is essentially a baby girl to look after forever. He married a beautiful woman for her brain, and now that brain is damaged goods.

Yet amidst all that, he hasn’t yet missed a stride, nor has he complained. If anything, he’s more determined than ever. Instead of getting bogged down, and instead of letting Gabby fade into obscurity, he’s picked her up, carried her, and the two have rejoined the marathon. The only difference is that this time, her career is now also his.

Now that’s MY definition of a “real man!”

So there they are, testifying in front of Senators in Washington, D.C., making sure that gun laws are responsible. Mark Kelly and Gabby are what’s known as Blue Dog Democrats – people who have conservative values but joined the Democratic Party anyway because they’re sick of the Republican Party’s extremist bullshit. Mark is a soldier, and a gun owner. He respects citizens’ rights to own firearms. He’s fired them in battle. Hell, if the shooting of his wife proves anything, it’s that ordinary people should be able to carry defensive weaponry in case of just such a situation. But Mark and Gabby want us to be responsible about it. They know what they’re talking about.

"We are simply two reasonable Americans who realize we have a problem with gun violence, and we need Congress to act,” says Mark. “Our rights are paramount, but our responsibilities are serious and as a nation we are not taking responsibility for the gun rights our founding fathers conferred upon us."

File that one under “D” for ‘damn straight!’

Mark goes on to say: "Closing the gun show loophole and requiring private sellers to require a background check before they transfer a gun…I can't think of something that would make our country safer than doing just that,"

Maybe NASA stands for, ‘Not Another Shooting Again!’

Yes, if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. But, according to Mark, that’s no excuse for us going out of our way to make sure as many criminals have as many guns as possible.

And if you actually disagree with that one, I’ll join Mark Kelly in shoving a NASA rocket up your ass.


Eric

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Christian Mingle



ChristianMingle.com. What a concept!

Here, Christians can find other Christians for matrimony, mating, and more. But why? Why on earth is this at all a successful online business? Why isn't Match.com or e-Harmony enough? I have some thoughts on this, and you Christians out there are not likely to appreciate them.

First, there has always been a traditional method for meeting Christian singles. It’s called “church.” A person would go to church, join a singles group, and meet other single people. Or, if his/her church doesn't have a singles group, that person could give a discreet word to the Pastor about hoping that The Lord would provide a spouse, at which point said minister might occasionally drop hints about someone being single at the next Bible study or church picnic. Isn't this enough?

Well, no. Bottom line is, a lot of congregation members just plain don’t attend church anymore. In a world where Christian ministers constantly say how their religion is under attack, their armies are not even bothering to show up. Even serious Christians find services difficult to endure sometimes. What does it say about a religion’s following if even die-hard members find it difficult to endure one more sermon, just one more week, even on the promise of potentially finding a sexy single person? And, if you happen to be Catholic, Lutheran, or Episcopalian, then it’s even worse. The old-fashioned format serves only to offend the senses. All the non-elderly don’t bother being there, and so going to church means hobnobbing with the little old biddies running this year’s bake sale, and that’s not exactly a place that’s likely to kindle romance.

Enter the Evangelical Megachurch! Here, they bring in some decently modern music, complete with electric guitars, drum-sets and synthesizers, and project the lyrics to sing on a giant projection-screen (because they at least realize that people typically can’t read the music charts in the hymnal anyway). Plenty of single-and-looking people here!

But apparently, this isn't enough. I once attended a singles group at Elmbrook Church many years ago (before I realized I was an atheist, you see). Elmbrook is the largest church in Wisconsin, so you can’t get much more of a Megachurch than that. Sunday services require dozens of police cars just to direct traffic! But when I went there and attended the singles group, I found… Well, let’s just say there’s a reason those people are single. Good looking people take on lovers and file for divorce in order to marry them. The ugly and/or ones with significant baggage get dumped and join groups.

Still, that shouldn't prevent nice, attractive Christian singles from meeting each other, should it? I mean, there are plenty of other avenues, aren't there? Indeed, there are. There are Christian conferences, festivals, galas and shindigs of all sorts. There are Christian bookstores to hang out in, Christian rock concerts to go to, and Christian Bible Colleges to attend. (In fact, the joke at any Bible College is, “A ring by spring, or your money back!”) Isn't all this enough?

The answer is, no. The reason for this is because these things are just fine if you want to meet someone who is really serious about his/her religion. And let’s face it, if you’re male and serious about your religion, you’re a hot commodity. Single fundamentalist women outnumber single fundamentalist men by a significant margin. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the number might be as high as a 5 to 4 female to male ratio. For Christian women, that’s bad news. For atheist men, that’s a statement in itself – we unbelieving males are turning down an awful lot of potential hoochie by rejecting your silly, little creed! (You’d think people would realize that we’re damned serious about it.) But for Christian men, that might be good news. Can’t a man name his own ticket in such a target-rich environment?

Well, no, that’s a problem, too. You see, the main problem with church dating is that it leads to inter-congregational politics and gossiping. If a Christian man wants to date a particular Christian woman, he’d better pick right the first time, or else all her Christian friends at that church are going to write him off. And if he dares date more than one, he gets pegged as “that type of guy.” If he dates only one different Christian woman per year, and it doesn't involve sex, that might seem to be prudish, but the gossip-mill among the Christian women is, “He dated three different women in three years! Don’t go out with him.” That’s totally unfair to the poor guy, but that’s the reality of it. And if it’s a big church, the effect is even more devastating – all those extra women are now denied to him. Bigger isn't necessarily better.

For the single Christian women, a reverse effect takes hold. The other single women notice a newly single guy attending the service. He immediately tries to date the cutest of the single ones available. The date is a dud, and the guy is politically out of luck. But when the other women see the pretty one getting rejected, they say to themselves, “Well, geez, if even SHE can’t get a husband, what chance have I got?” Despair settles in for both sexes.

As such, Christian men often decide not to bother dating women who go to their own church, especially after they've been burned by the experience once or twice. They turn to other outlets, and there are many. The women, in turn, decide to turn to other outlets, too. This causes more men to do the same, which causes more women to do the same, and before you know it, none of the single people in church are dating each other. For them, that’s just as well. When they’re at church, they’d just as soon concentrate on The Lord. It seems inappropriate to go to church and be constantly thinking about the woman or man over in the next aisle. That’s not just sinful, it’s distracting!

So, it seems that if a seriously Christian woman wants to get married, she’s better off meeting a guy who belongs to another church. Either that, or one who is Christian, but isn't quite so rabid a fan club member. Certainly, there are a few women out there who try (literally!) to be “sluts for Jesus,” using her, um attributes to bring men to The Lord. (They call it “gal-vation.”) For other women, they might decide to trade their sexual favors for religious influence only after the fact, and only for a more moderately religious male. (More on that, later.) For many Christian women, aiming for a moderately Christian male makes more sense. He’s serious enough to appreciate her faith, but not serious enough to cause her any inter-congregational headaches. Also, there are a LOT more men available to her that way! But where can she find such a man? For that matter, where can the men who have been burned by church-dating go to find other women outside their particular clique?

Enter online dating! It’s been around for decades, and seems to work fairly well as a solution. Christians select “Christian” as their religious preference, and manage to weed out all the prospective mates who don’t meet that criteria.

Or do they? The Internet is a treacherous place, and with women outnumbering men in the fundamentalist department, many “players” find themselves in a plentiful harvest field. They put up their profile, pretend at religion, then lure some nice, Christian lady into a few dates, and then into bed. For a Christian woman, finding herself in a situation where the man wants sex before marriage when she does not is disturbing. But she’s caught between a rock and a hard erection. If she stands by her principles, she saves her honor but dies a spinster. If she compromises, she’s a secret slut, but finally gets herself a husband. For most such women, the secret slut option is the better of two evils, plus it finally has the benefit of letting her get her rocks off. His too. Every once in a long while, this tactic works. But typically, the man finds some excuse to leave, and then she’s been screwed twice. It’s understandable that she might be frustrated.

For men, the experience is somewhat different. They go online hoping to find a nice, Christian woman, and inevitably get at least one “hit” from a remarkably pretty girl who is (I so hate this term) “spiritual but non-religious,” whatever the hell that means. He’s smitten by her, and they might even end up getting into bed, but when he proves to be much more serious about religion than she is, or argue about politics, planned parenthood, or some other such difference of opinion, she dumps him, and he is devastated, knowing that he’ll likely never score that high on the girlfriend scale again.

The semi-solution? Christian Mingle! Because it loudly advertises a “Christians only” type of message, it wards off the casual people on the faith-scale. It also is more serious about dumping the “players” from the roster list. One complaint from a Christian woman, and the guy’s membership is canceled. For the guys, it means that every pretty woman they see is his type, and that means the world to him.

So! Happily Ever After? Not a chance! Oh, this solution will have a benefit, and it will help bring more Christian babies into the world (which is the most effective method of evangelizing – always has been), but even this will eventually fail. It doesn't ward off the serious fake Christians who are players - it attracts them!

All this is only half the point. You see, Christianity is dying. Part of the reason why Christian Mingle is such a successful business is because the number of available single Christians is getting smaller and smaller all the time. In our grandfathers’ era, one did not dare even marry a Lutheran if one were Catholic, or a Presbyterian if one were Baptist, etc., etc. But today, Christians are blissfully grateful just to find another Christian to marry, and to hell with denominational affiliation! The endorsed evangelicalism of the Christian Media Empire is pretty much becoming the de facto denomination of all America anyway.  Today, evangelicals have fallen to less than 50% of the nation’s populace. Not coincidentally, conservatives lost with a vote of 47%. This downward trend will continue. That’s good news for Christian Mingle, as more people will be willing to pay more for their services in seeking a commodity which is becoming rarer and rarer. But it’s bad news for Christianity as a whole.

I have a unique perspective in all this. As an ex-Christian, I have observed much of this first hand. The rest I have been able to glean from Christian magazine articles and blog entries. As an atheist, I am able to observe all this without bias. For the same reason, I am also able to laugh my ass off at the whole thing. But I stop laughing when I remember that there is yet one more reason for Christian Mingle to exist. Namely, the intense desire of the Christian community do wall itself off from anything secular. Any online dating service will have a feature which lets Christians match only with other Christians, but even this isn't enough. Today’s Jesus Freaks don’t even want to encounter the same electrons as non-religious people. Thus, to avoid “secular cooties,” they set up their own singles website, and thus thicken the plastic bubble they dwell in.

As an example, I need only point to any Christian bookstore where mountains of products are sold to insulate the Faithful from Satan’s temptations. There are Christian games, Christian movies, Christian rock artists, Christian action figures, Christian children’s shows… the list goes on and on. My head hangs in utter disgust when I see something like “Bibleman” hanging on such a store’s display hook. I simply cannot fathom how someone can actually spend money on something like that.

Christian Mingle is not as silly as "Bibleman," but it's done for exactly the same purpose. And as any Christian bookstore owner will tell you, fundies will buy anything!


Eric

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

REVOLUTIOOOOON!!!!

The number one reason we hear from the National Rifle Association about why we need assault rifles is that, should the government become oppressive, and take away our rights, we need the ability to revolt against said government, and remove it from power.

Now's  your chance! NOW!

Yes, now's the time when the revolution you've been hoarding your gun for has arrived! Now is the time when you must aim your gun at every Republican who wants to take the majority vote away, and SHOOT TO KILL!

No, no! PLEASE don't kill anyone based on what I'm saying! I only espouse defensive weapons. But my logical point is sound. If an oppressive government is the reason for assault rifles, then there should not be a single assault rifle not fired at this point! Hey, YOUR standard, not mine!

Oh, you think I'm KIDDING? Well, I'm only using YOUR OWN rhetoric - the one you've been using for YEARS, where you have said, over and over again, that if the government attempts to thwart the people's voting rights, that it's time for the people to rise up and strike back at the oppressors.

Well, the Republican Party is now saying that it wants to extend gerrymandering - a form of (what goddamned SHOULD be) illegal vote-tampering that has been inexplicably in existence for 200 years - to permanently affect the election of our next President of the United States.

Yeah? Well, some of us believe that the majority vote matters!

HERE! NOW! THIS IS YOUR CHANCE FOR YOU NRA MEMBERS TO DEMONSTRATE WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN!  This is your opportunity to show that you mean what you say - that you want guns, not just for the sake of shooting people you don't like, but for the sake of PROTECTING AMERICA!!!!

Do you? Do you  care about America? Then you have NO CHOICE, if you are an NRA member, but to point your gun at EVERY REPUBLICAN WHO ESPOUSES THE MAD DOCTRINE OF GERRYMANDERING THE PRESIDENCY and, IF, they don't reform, PULLING THE TRIGGER!!!

No, I don't want you to actually pull the trigger. But I DO want you to aim the barrel at their heads! If you fought for the right to have a barrel to aim with, that was the whole point of why you wanted it, RIGHT?!

And if you don't back up your words WITH YOUR OWN STANDARDS, then everything you say is nothing more than piss in the wind!

No, this is not the same, mad hypocrisy of stupid fuckers like Ted Nugent. Ted's (oddly uncharacteristic) stupidity rests only on a hatred of Socialism, assuming that Barack Obama espoused such, which he clearly does not. (What, you Republicans want him to change parties? He's practically a Republican already!) But this time, the Republican party has openly, and brazenly, said that they intend to take away the majority vote and hand it to their own minority, just so that they don't have to deal with the realities of a secular, insured, more realistic world.

This is not just naked evil. This is naked evil, with a long, strong hard-on, shouting to the world, "We intend to RAPE democracy until she screams for mercy!"

Fucking really?! Well, FUCK YOU TOO! AND FUCK THE IMAGINARY UNICORN YOU RODE IN  ON!!!

IF YOU ARE AN NRA MEMBER, NOW IS YOUR TIME!!! SHOOT NOW, OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE!!!!


(Excuse me while I catch my breath!)


Eric

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Friday, January 25, 2013


Three things:

Part 1.) Screwing With The Vote (Again!)

Well, back on January 11th, I argued very strongly against gerrymandering.  And before that, on November 9th, I pointed out that Republicans had to make serious adjustments if they wanted to have any chance of winning future elections.

Put those two ideas together, and you have what the website RedState.com is currently promoting.

Unfortunately, they’re going a slightly different direction. You see, my idea of Republicans making adjustments was removing or altering one or more planks in their outdated political platform. After some analysis, I concluded that the likeliest areas for this to happen would be either immigration or the drug war. But no! I forgot, these are conservatives we’re talking about, here. They would rather dig out their testicles with a grapefruit spoon than change their minds about one, single thing. Hence, their “adjustment” comes in the form of extending their gerrymandering to include presidential elections instead of just congressional ones.

As an example, consider Ohio. What Republicans are deciding to do there is take their gerrymandered districts and apply them to the electoral college representation for that state. In other words, electoral college representatives from Ohio would be decided based upon congressional districts rather than a state-wide victory in the popular vote. Were this method to have been applied during the 2012 election, Mitt Romney would have carried Ohio, even though he lost the popular vote 51% to 47%.

Have we really sunk this far? Has our respect for Democracy sunk so low that we are willing to piss all over the will of the people so thoroughly? Well, apparently we have.

What boggles my mind is how obviously evil this is. It's as though Republicans just don't give a damn that they just don't give a damn about voter rights. (Nope, that wasn't a typo. It's like saying they are careless and couldn't care less.) They're determined to win, by rook or by crook, and it's becoming more crook by the minute! Loudly and without shame, Republicans are saying, "We don't care if you're in the majority, we're taking your voice away from you." And what's odd is, they could conceivably get away with it, too! Two states, Nebraska and Maine, have electoral college structures based on Congressional district already. There is precedent. 

The second thing about this that boggles my mind is how thoroughly it is guaranteed to backfire! Let’s just say they succeed in making congressional districts determine the electoral college. It practically begs for Obama and the Senate to step in and propose legislation which will force states to hand the drawing of districts over to independent, non-partisan entities! To which I say, GOOD! That's the way it SHOULD be! But even if this legislation doesn't manifest, the demographic will then almost certainly shift beyond the point where even this level of gerrymandering won't affect a favorable outcome to the Democratic Party. At that point, state elections will also go Democratic, and Republicans can kiss their gerrymandered districts goodbye. Either Democrats will make the districts balanced, or (and this is far more likely) the Democrats will gerrymander things back in their favor. That puts states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida in the Democrat column, permanently out of reach forever and ever.

Part of me wants to say, screw ‘em! If they’re so goddamned dumb, let their failure be that much more complete! But on balance, no. I don’t want the vote gerrymandered toward my own view any more than I want it gerrymandered toward theirs. I want a goddamned FAIR vote, even if it goes against my own opinion. So, I say again, a federal law must be enacted which requires all states to turn their districting process over to non-partisan entities.

Independent Districting! Take up the cry! It’s 200 years overdue! Let’s get it done!

No, seriously! Sign every petition! Write your representatives! Do it TODAY! Independent Districting!


Part 2.) Ron Johnson’s Colossal Screw-Up

I was writing stuff on FanStory.com while listening to Hillary Clinton’s testimony on Benghazi, so I wasn't watching the faces of the people on the television while that bit of news was going on. What an interesting day! At one point, I heard some dickhead spouting off about how it wasn't true that the attack was made by a mob, but rather was by an organized group of militants. Hillary rightly smacked that jerk down by yelling, “What does it matter at this point?!” And then went on, quite sensibly, to point out that the important part was that four Americans had been killed, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice. Indeed, the mob vs. militant argument is quite obviously splitting hairs, and such minutiae is not where the focus needs to be. Hillary knows so, and so she was right to bitch-slap that shit right back up the asshole it came from!

The legislator who attempted to argue that idea to Hillary’s face was obviously a patsy who was chosen to attempt a lame justification for the phony witch-hunt which had been aimed at Susan Rice. And THAT witch-hunt was seeking, not a witch, but a special election in Massachusetts to re-elect Scott Brown (by means of forcing John Kerry to be the new Secretary of State). Now, with even that ill-conceived plan in total disarray, some fool had to volunteer to do damage control by throwing that conspiracy theory in front of Hillary Clinton in hopes that it would stick well enough to seem credible. But Hillary would have none of it.

“What a dumbfuck!” I thought. The Republicans actually found some moron who was willing to run that play against Hillary’s formidable defenses? Must have been one very green fool.

Only later did I learn that the idiot was none other than Senator Ron Johnson of my own Wisconsin.

Mother fucker! That asshole has gone and embarrassed our state yet again?!

Oh, yes, Johnson has thrown coffee on Wisconsin’s white dinner jacket before. He was one of a few dozen senators who blocked an international treaty to protect people with disabilities. The treaty was based on America’s own Americans With Disabilities Act, so no national sovereignty was at stake. Even nations like China and Russia passed this treaty, but for the rat-bastards of the Tea Party, even that’s not enough. The vote embarrassed not just Wisconsin, but all of America in the eyes of the entire world. When I wrote Johnson chiding him over this particular vote, I received a polite reply, laced with the kind of grassy-knoll stuff which let me know that he’s the type of man who is penny-wise, but pound foolish.

But even that wasn't enough for him. Not content with embarrassing himself in front of Hillary Clinton, he went and made the same, damned mistake in front of John Kerry. He insisted on knowing the truth of what happened in Benghazi, but when Kerry informed him that we already know the truth, and was he present at the briefing where the truth was plainly shown on surveillance video, Johnson was forced to admit he wasn't even there. Fuck! It seems Johnson is bound and determined to make an ass out of himself no matter who happens to be Secretary of State.

And for the last, fucking time, Susan Rice made an honest mistake! She sincerely passed on the only information which she had been given during a very tumultuous situation. There was no deliberate deception!

Heloooooo? Ron Jooooohnson? The witch hunt is oooooover! Susan Rice is goooone! There's no more need to be phooooney! You can put down your burning cross noooow!

Jesus Christ, I knew he’d be bad, but I had no idea he would be this na├»ve! I mean, is politics just a hobby for this noob? (Yes, "noob," gamer slang for "newbie.") Did he listen to nothing but talk radio for years while a businessman and then decide to go into politics knowing only what Limbaugh knows?

No, wait, that’s not quite fair. Johnson’s a good, smart businessman, and he’s well educated in that particular field. But as anyone who’s read Dilbert knows, being smart in business often means being stupid in nearly every other field. An MBA teaches almost nothing about national-level economics (outside of macroecon-1), and business schools exist in an insulated, politically conservative bubble. I give Johnson all the credit in the world for working his way up in his education. He did well in that regard. But what excuse does he then have for being duped by people like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, both of whom are college dropouts?

I suppose this comes from Johnson’s style of education. He clawed his way up. Good for him. But all he ever saw while going up that side of the mountain was taxes and regulations blocking his way. He’s probably never tried the other side of the mountain, where science and the humanities so clearly illustrate the necessity of a progressive slope. As such, he only got half the picture, and now he’s acting like he has half a brain.

He doesn't have to embarrass himself, or the Dairy State, in this way. He has the brains to overcome his initial blindness, if he really wants to. It is possible to know business and reality at the same time. Herb Kohl illustrated this. But was Kohl so balanced because he went to Harvard instead of a local night school? Was Kohl more progressive because he was Jewish and Johnson is Lutheran? Or is it more that Kohl was born into money? Certainly Herb had a liberal youth, then turned conservative when he took over the Kohl’s business, and then became so rich he turned more liberal again. Ron, by contrast, married into a little money (not an interstellar amount), but largely worked his own way up, building PACUR in the plastics industry. Or perhaps one has to be more balanced if one’s business is in retail rather than in manufacturing? (Greater emphasis on public relations.) Does all that color one’s perspective? Or is it impossible to be successful as a businessman without adopting a tycoon’s mentality?

Regardless, one thing is clear: Johnson is, once again, learning on the job. Nothing wrong with that per se, except that it’s given Wisconsin one hell of a black eye in the meantime! We might well endure these growing pains of Ron’s long enough for him to become as capable as, say, William Proxmire, but first he needs to back off and take notes for a couple of years. If he doesn't, and he continues, stubbornly, to try swimming in the deep end of the pool without water wings, then we’ll have to quickly yank his ass out after one term before he drowns – as a kindness to both him and us.

Hey Ron! Welcome to the Big Leagues! Jerk!

(Yeah, I’m a Monday-morning quarterback. But I’m still right.)


Part 3.) Obama’s Gun Proposals

Pop quiz: How many assault weapons did the assault weapons ban of 1994 (you know, the one Obama wants re-instated?) actually ban?

Answer: Almost none.

That’s right, the assault weapons “ban” did almost nothing to ban any assault weapons. Gun dealers easily found ways around the provisions. What was actually banned was the manufacture and import of assault weapons, with the exception of law enforcement and military contracts. But assault weapons manufactured before the ban was put in place were still available for sale and resale. This, of course drove up the price of these kinds of guns (supply and demand), but one could still get them.

That higher price destroyed the gun-running business. With the price of assault rifles so high, there was simply not that much profitability in arming thugs in Mexico. Drug lords below the border were slowly becoming disarmed between 1994 and 2004. By 2005, that progress was completely undermined.

So, here’s my question: If the “ban” on assault weapons doesn't really ban anything…

WHAT THE FUCK IS THE NRA SO UPSET FOR?! THEY DON’T HAVE A HORSE IN THIS RACE!!!

The buck-naked truth, told here for fucking once, is that nobody is coming to take away anybody’s gun! Second amendment rights are not in jeopardy, and all law-abiding Americans will be able to own and carry small firearms as a deterrent to crooks.

Is the NRA defending Mexican drug cartels? Because that’s surely what it looks like!

Actually, I should re-phrase the citing of the name, “NRA.” It should be “NARA” – the National Assault Rifle Association. Because that’s closer to the truth. They’ll defend weapons that kill en masse, but when it comes to sensible defensive weapons, such as tasers, well, you’re on your fucking own!

So don’t hand me this shit about ‘self-defense!’ It’s ‘self-offense,’ and you goddamned well know it!

The other aspects of Obama’s gun-control proposals, universal background checks for everyone, including those at gun-shows, banning high-capacity ammunition clips, banning armor-piercing bullets, increased policing of gun-trafficking and more funding for mental health programs, are all measures which make so much sense that opposing them is nothing short of wild-eyed extremism. Those who block it might get money from the NRA next election season, but they won’t get any votes. Just wait.

Did I say the NRA has no horse in this race? Correction, they're defending a dead horse. No, correct that, too. Because the horse isn't even there. They're defending a dead unicorn!

Well, that’s it. I left it all on the battlefield. Cheers!


Eric

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