Friday, August 31, 2012

Rachel Corrie

Three days ago, an Israeli court ruled that the death of American Rachel Corrie was accidental; that the soldier who hit her with his bulldozer was not liable.  Rachel's parents called this "A bad day for human rights."  A UN spokesman called it a "defeat for justice".

Less than a hundred miles away, in Damascus, the dictator of Syria and his army have killed nearly 25,000 of his own people, plus another 265 foreign civilians (including 207 Palestinians).  There will be no court date for any of the soldiers who perpetrated these acts of murder.  There will be no investigations.  The dictator will probably eventually be deposed and killed, but everything else will get swept under the rug, much like it did when the dictator's father murdered 10,000-40,000 of his own people in 1982.

We all know justice isn't perfect.  Cold blooded killers sometimes go free.  Innocent people are sometimes wrongly convicted.  But in Israel there was a process of justice.  In Syria there is none. In Lebanon there is none. In Gaza there is none.  The verdict was disappointing to Rachel's parents. Of course.  But global condemnation for the process is stupid and fake.  Only the willfully blind refuse to see the double standard.  Thank God there is one country in the Middle East with independent institutions that can dispense a process ruled by laws.  But have some perspective please.  I can't recall the UN telling the world that it was a defeat for justice when the glove didn't fit. And in that case twice as many innocent people were killed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

If Obamacare is Struck Down

First of all, isn't it amazing that "Obamacare" is a term that both progressives and reactionaries can learn to love? I mean, obviously the right-wing noise machine meant it as a slur, the same as when they coined HillaryCare. But why not? As Tyrion Lannister says, "Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
Anyway, as it seems that the Republican wing of the Supreme Court is trying to find a way to strike down the entire law (although we won't know until June), I was wondering if it may not be for the best. Yeah, it will probably mean a lot of people will die, including an unthinkable number of children who either can't afford insurance or can't get it because of pre-existing conditions. And obviously trying to alleviate that ongoing tragedy is why the Democratic Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, a shambling mess of pandering and caving to tea party demands. And I believe that the very act of trying to compromise is what doomed the ACA. I mean, the insurance mandate penalty is levied by the IRS. Clearly it's a tax, or at least it *could be* a tax, except Congress didn't mention the word "tax" once, apparently, in deference to Grover Norquist's delicate anti-tax sensibilities. So the Supreme Court will probably rule that the penalty is not, in fact a tax, and therefore unconstitutional. Way to commit hara-kiri, Dems.
Of course what everyone wants is a single-payer health care system, like Medicare. Even Tea Partiers love Medicare. Since the ACA was destined to cost money without paying for itself and probably not really reigning in the cost of medicine and generally not making life a lot better for most people, who would still have to deal with co-pays and PCPs and referrals, it would never have become truly popular. Now when people who think their increased insurance premiums are Obama's fault see their premiums continue to increase, and when more and more people, even those who could afford it if they had the opportunity to buy, are uninsured, and when people have had enough, we can pass real health reform and create a true solution.
Maybe it will teach the American people that elections have consequences, and that in order to have a sane judiciary, they need to keep electing Democrats to the White House and to Congress. It's a tragedy that people will die so the country can learn a lesson, so America, if you're listening, learn it quick!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trayvon's Killing Wasn't Racism

It was murder inspired by racism. What's the freakin' difference, you might ask. Well, racism has never killed people. Let's be clear on this, because I think it matters. Just as guns don't kill people, racism merely provides motive. Trayvon Martin most likely wouldn't be dead if he were white, but I have no absolute proof of that. It's also a damaging argument to make. Was George Zimmerman racist? Of course! But nobody would have cared about some racist failure to thrive case if he hadn't shot someone. I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone that there are racists in this country. I also don't think it would come as a surprise to people that I think racism is declining in the United States. Unfortunately I can't find and polls to back me up here. I'm just saying that every day thousands of old racists die and thousands of more liberal, open minded children are born. We've obviously tipped the balance to where it's no longer acceptable for racists to be open about their hate. So things get a little better very slowly.

What I find really scary about Trayvon Martin's murder is the implicit racism of the Sanford police and of the Florida Republicans who authored the "Stand Your Ground" law. They take "conservative" to a whole new level and want to bring us back to an ungoverned wild west anarchy where disputes are settled by the gun. Don't wait for the government (police) to come help you - carry a gun and fix it yourself. Isn't this how the Hatfields and McCoys got started? Out in the Appalachian backwoods, there's no justice system to sort things out when someone hurts someone else. The only justice in that situation is revenge.

If George Zimmerman is immune for murdering a child walking in his own neighborhood, then our society is dead. Did you haters read that? A child was walking in his own neighborhood and was murdered because a sick man with a gun felt threatened and entitled. Did you walk around your neighborhood as a child? Do your children? Are any of your neighbors crazy paranoid freakbags like Zimmerman? Will you only find out when your son is murdered?

Georgia has one of those stupid "stand your ground" laws too. If my sons ever get in a fight (although of course I'm sure that will never happen since boys never fight), will someone pull out a gun and kill them, knowing the police won't even investigate? Will the police say that my boys deserved to be killed because one time a year prior they were suspended for school for (smoking/cheating/being tardy)? Will they say that it was OK because when they were attacked they fought back? I don't want my kids growing up in the Wild West. Actually, I'm pretty sure in the actual wild west murdering children was frowned on. Welcome to the Tea Party Wild West. Strike 1 if you live there. Strike 2 if you happen to be of controversial heritage - that is, if you're Black or Jewish or Mexican or even some uppity woman.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Primary Proposal

This year, the primary system, which is still a work in progress, seems to have finally begun to break down. Florida and Michigan have run afoul of party rules because, in a bid for relevance, they have moved their primaries into January. "Too early," the parties say, and they're right.

But does it make sense for South Carolina, dark, fire engine red South Carolina, to have as much influence over the candidates as it does? And this year, Florida, which would have gone for Gore in 2000 if your grandmother's bridge club had brought their glasses with them to the polling place, can't even select which Democrat party candidate it prefers.

Republicans face a similar dilemma, although they only stripped half of Michigan and Florida's delegates. Meanwhile, both parties give voters from every state a relatively equal voice. Obama was propelled into the forefront by his win over Hillary in South Carolina. South Carolina?? Who cares which Democrat they like best? Democratic voters in the Palmetto State don't count in November, any more than they count in Mississippi or Alaska. And why should New York or Massachusetts get a say? They'll vote for the Democratic candidate regardless of who it is.

The only states that should really count are Florida and Ohio, and maybe Pennsylvania, since those voters really could go either way. In fact, let's take a look at the 2004 election results. According to Wikipedia, the states most evenly divided between Republican and Democrat voters were:
  1. Wisconsin, Kerry, 0.38%
  2. Iowa, Bush, 0.67%
  3. New Mexico, Bush, 0.79%
  4. New Hampshire, Kerry, 1.37%
  5. Ohio, Bush, 2.11%
  6. Pennsylvania, Kerry, 2.50%
  7. Nevada, Bush, 2.59%
  8. Michigan, Kerry, 3.42%
  9. Minnesota, Kerry, 3.48%
  10. Oregon, Kerry, 4.16%
  11. Colorado, Bush, 4.67%
So. What if we gave THESE states more influence over who we choose? After all, don't we care about who Wisconsinites and Ohioans are more likely to get excited about? Don't we want to know who will motivate them to go to the polls in November? Screw Connecticut and Idaho. We already know where their electoral votes are going.

Reorganize the primaries so they're done in order of closest races in the previous election first.
January 3: Wisconsin and Iowa (yes, Iowa keeps their first spot)
January 8: New Mexico
January 10: New Hampshire
January 17: Ohio and Pennsylvania
January 22: Nevada
January 24: Michigan and Minnesota

You get the picture. It would benefit both parties to know which of their candidates is most electable. The only slight, insignificant problem is the fact that the states, not the parties, control their own primary dates. And it would be hard to convince New Hampshire to give up their first spot without, say, a constitutional amendment.

But it's nice to dream.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Third Best President, EVER!

I know nobody is still reading this blog, but I had to post this find *somewhere*!

Doing research for my column, I came across this old ABC News poll. They asked respondents who the nation's greatest presidents were. In February, 2002, the results came back: Lincoln, Kennedy, GEORGE W BUSH!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
uh oh - milk came out of my nose
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Check it out:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Everybody Cries With George

As the First Family starts shuffling out of power, the first one to go will be Jeb, the President's brother. Jeb's two full terms as governor of Florida end next month, and apparently there are all kinds of parties and commemorations for him at his "Retirement". Today, his father, the elder George of the President Georges, broke down and cried while giving a speech about his son in the Florida State Capitol. I'm sure it was an emotional time for him. It seems that what most teared him up was talking about his son's defeat in the 1994 gubernatorial election. Jeb went on to win in the next election in 1998.
We all know the history. Jeb and Georgie ran for governor of their respective states in 1994. George defeated governor Ann Richards in Red Texas. Jeb couldn't knock out popular governor Lawton Chiles in Purple Florida. After a term and a half, George ran for President and won, in a well-known sign of the apocalypse.
If you think about it, had Jeb become governor in 1994, he might have run for President instead. He was certainly considered a better candidate. Despite his unconsitutional and highly political intervention in the Terri Schiavo case, he's smarter, more articulate, better traveled, and more thoughtful than his older brother.
It makes me wish I had voted for him instead of Chiles. It makes me want to cry for our country too.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How to Design a Better Alarm Clock

     It's no secret that I'm a night person. I've always had a really hard time waking up. The only good times of my life, waking up-wise, were during summer breaks from school and the year that I worked the night shift at work. That year, I worked from 8 to 5. PM to AM. I would usually get home around 5:30-6:00 and sleep until I woke up without an alarm clock at noon.
     Throughout the years, I've had a variety of alarm clocks. My favorite was a Star Wars clock that looked like C3PO and R2D2. Instead of music, they would talk. "It's time to get up!" They'd yell, along with some stuff about the rebellion needing me and the empire needing destroying. Unfortunately my rampant curiousity of my elementary school years combined with a Phillips screwdriver put an end to that clock. Since college, I've had a "gentle" alarm clock. That is, the music starts softly and gets progressively louder. I've gotten progressively used to it. So much so, that even after it is blaring morning radio shows at full volume, I still don't hear it. No matter what I do to get myself out of bed in the morning, I'm almost always still groggy and tired and totally not alert.
     One morning, in the beginning of August, my wife uttered three words which accomplished what no alarm clock in my 30-year history has ever been able to do. "Honey, I'm Pregnant!"

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


     For the first time in 6 years, it feels like I can finally breathe again. I need to admit to you that I had lost faith in the people of this country, as they allowed themselves to be suckered by weak vilifications of gays, pharmacists, doctors, judges, Clintons, Kerrys, environmentalists, and scientists.
     Yesterday, Democrats picked up 28 seats in the House (double what they needed to take control) and 6 seats in the Senate (exactly what they needed to take control). This is momentous because:
  • The Dems have not had control of both houses since 1994

  • This is the first time since 1948 that the Democrats didn't lose a single House seat

  • President Bush has never governed with anything except the full, unwavering support of both chambers of Congress

     However, this isn't what you might call a historic election.

     At the beginning of my post, I said that I could breathe for the first time in 6 years. Actually, 2000 is just when it got really bad. For my entire adult life, Republicanism has been on the rise in America. This is the first time it feels like somebody isn't waiting to jump down my throat. When Bill Clinton became President in 1992, right-wing talk radio smothered the airwaves with the 2-minutes hate. 2 minutes became 2 years, then 14 years, while the shrill cries of victimization continued to rain down on us. Today, those voices are silent. Well, if not silent, less noisy. They've taken to cannibalizing their own, something they watched Democrats do for years with great relish.
     But what's really exciting about these results is that the highly corrupt and ineffectual Republican majority is no more. For 6 years, they have been no better than a rubber stamp for Bush's inane ideas. Look, everyone knows Bush is an idiot. It wasn't his idea to run for President. He doesn't even do most of the Presidenting work. It's hard to blame him for that. He is what he is. It's not hard to blame Republican Congressmen for jumping to do his every crazy bidding. They've been guilty of dereliction of their duty. Their jobs are to serve their constituents. Instead, they serve the Party. That won't happen anymore.
     I'm really not hoping for the days of 60%+ Democrat majorities in Congress. I don't think that kind of power is good for anyone. Democrats have a long history of abuse of power in the 40 straight years of controlling the House. But Republicans seem to be worse. In 12 years, they have redefined abuse of power, from redistricting between censuses to allowing the President to defy the Constitution. Not to mention the excess of bribery, sexual abuse, and general corruption.
     We've got a long way to go to fix this country. But it starts today.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is Sex Sex?

     In case this blog is your only source of news, here's a newsflash for you: Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley was caught sending dirty emails to a 16-year old boy working in his office. A gay ephebophile[*] in Congress is bad. A Republican one is worse. That is, if you're the type of person to go into a frothing fit when the topic is sex. Like Republicans.
     Clearly, however, even to a level-headed blogger like myself, Foley is disturbed and his predatory actions towards children were criminal. And the GOP Congress wasted no time condemning Foley and beginning an investigation. Or did they? New revelations have come out showing that Republican leaders have known about Foley's actions as early as last fall. What did Dennis Hastert, the Republican Speaker of the House, do about this? He quietly asked Foley to quit it, and Foley promised he would. (Cue fond memories of the Catholic Priest molestation scandal)
     Now, as bad as Foley's behavior was, covering it up isn't a crime to the extent that say, sending 2,000 Americans to early deaths in Iraq is. But it does expose the faux outrage the House Republicans have been mustering up since ABC News broke the story last week. Um, you knew about this months ago, and now you choose to denounce it? How timely.
     Of course the wonderful Atlanta Journal and Constitution can't let a Republican scandal go by without at least getting a dig in at Democrats - perhaps Bill Clinton - as it goes by. In a so-called "equal time" column, Brent Bozell the Third expresses his, "Oh yeah, well your mother!" moment, by reminding us that even though Foley told his young victim he wanted to "slip off" his shorts, Democrats sometimes have scandals too.
     In fact, the sex aspect is too good for Bozell to pass up. He equates Foley's actions with Clinton's consensual adult "relations" with Monica Lewinsky. So someone out there tell me. Do all Republicans really believe that consensual adult sex is equivalent to a Congressman asking a 16-year old boy if he makes him horny? Is sex just sex? I guess this guy (and by extension the AJC) want you to think so.
     At what point do the loyal followers of the Church of Bush stop and think, maybe I should stop drinking the kool-aid? Maybe, even though "Liberals" are the root of all evil, Republicans don't have God-like powers of goodness. Are Americans really stupid enough to buy another weak excuse from this corrupt bunch of crooks?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Evil or Entrepreneur?

     Given the success of national blowhards Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, and Neal Boortz, maybe I can't blame him. After all, it certainly seems like the era is past when an impartial newsman rises to national prominence through unbiased analysis. Clearly, appealing to the uneducated and the aggressively self-serving is in Jim Wooten's best professional interests.
     My question is, why does the Atlanta Journal-Constitution feature him? The AJC is supposed to be (was?) a newspaper. It provided news and analysis. As we all know, newspaper readership has been dropping. And so newspapers around the country resort to stunts to boost their numbers. Think you have to buy the Sunday paper to get the good ads? Think again. On certain holiday weekends, the AJC has delivered the advertising sections, despite the fact that I cancelled my subscription a couple of years ago. Still, that's not enough. Perhaps knowing that educated readers, looking for broad, unbiased, well-rounded news sources, are increasingly looking at the internet for their news, local papers like the AJC are going after the "mentally relaxed" market. Read Jack Shafer's July 27th article on this topic in Slate entitled, "How the New York Times Makes Local Papers Dumber.
     It's a shame the AJC is contributing to the decline of the national dialogue in the name of "balance". Just because some guy comes along promising to sell more papers to white supremacists doesn't "balance" him with reasonable authors. Jim Wooten's columns frequently play down to his readership's lack of mental acuity. And his positions come straight out of the wildest GOP caricature. George Bush notwithstanding, I believe most educated Republican voters are nuanced in their beliefs. Perhaps they don't approve of abortion, but they're not sure it should be outlawed. Or maybe they think the federal government should butt out of business, but worry about global warming. Not Jim. There's no nuance to him. Take any issue, imagine what some redneck in 1960's rural Mississippi would say, then read your imagination on the AJC's opinion page.
     Lately he's been railing about city planning issues. If you're not from Atlanta, you have to understand a little of its history here. Right now, Atlanta is one of the largest, sprawlingest cities in the country. This is due to a number of factors, including its small size before the Interstate Highway system and its rapid growth since, the lack of geographical boundaries like an ocean or mountain range, and its racist history. Yes, racist. The "City Too Busy to Hate" is one of the most segregated cities in America after Whites fled downtown during the Civil Rights era. Today, predictably, White suburbanites endure the nation's longest commutes as they drive an average of 35 miles from their home to their job. Today, there's no such thing as "going against traffic" in Atlanta. With sprawl, backups go both ways.
     Why is this happening? Not only are homes moving outward, but so are jobs. You might live 20 miles northeast of the city. Your job might be 20 miles northwest. Or southeast. Or 40 miles north. Cities in the past had large feeder highways going in and out of city centers. Now, we need one connecting every point to every other point. Imagine drawing a line from every square on a chess board to the center of the board. Now imagine drawing a line from every square to every other square. Plus, imagine that every time you draw a line, or make it thicker, the board gets bigger in that direction. It's just not possible to build roads to compensate. The only way to make life livable is to increase density.
     Jim, who is opposed to living near Black people, disagrees. "Move jobs outward", he says, pandering to the imbeciles living 40 miles north of the city who are convinced the jobs are going to move next door to them. What happens when the jobs move 40 miles even farther?
     I digress. It's so easy to point out the flaws in Jim's stupid columns that you miss the point entirely - he exists only to make trouble. Let's look at some of his recent works. Guess his position on college students using condoms. Correct - he's against. (It's all Bill Clinton's fault that college kids have sex, anyway) Is it right for a fraternity that celebrates slavery and civil war to relocate to a Black neighborhood? Yes, but only because the civil war was really only about being gentlemanly and wearing riding on horseback and wearing hoop skirts and because the Black people in the neighborhood were poor. Is government good or bad? Bad! How dare they try to regulate business. I mean, Good! If they pay for kids to go to Christian school. I mean, Bad! If it's taxing luxuries and corporations instead of poor people. Minimum wage? Please. Like you don't know. Ann Coulter? A national hero. Al Gore? A national villain, invoked in as many columns as possible, along with Bill, Hillary, and John Kerry, to rabble-rouse.
     Jim, you're a comic. You're a two dimensional drawing of an right-wing demagogue. You're a hypocrite and a shrill one at that, screaming about "liberals" hating everything and having no ideas, then doing the same yourself. You're the reason the dialog is so poisoned. You would think in a blood-red state like Georgia, you wouldn't be able to blame Democrats for your problems. But somehow you've managed. Just like your insistence that Republicans could clean things up in Washington if only they had control. I mean, for a few more years. That's all. Bill Clinton made congressional Republicans take bribes.
     And to the AJC: maybe people listen to AM radio to get pissed off. But that's not why I read newspapers. And that's why I don't buy yours.