Thursday, May 3, 2012


A college student goes to a friend's house to get high, then sleeps it off there.  Big deal.  It's dumb to get high, but at least the kid didn't overdose or drive.

Unfortunately, drug enforcement agents raid the house before he leaves, picking him and a crapload of drugs up.  Bummer for the kid.  Lesson learned, right?

Oh, this lesson will never be forgotten.

Kid gets thrown in a holding cell, still cuffed...for FOUR DAYS.  Without food or water.,146361

The incident stands out as one of the worst cases of its kind, said Thomas Beauclair, deputy director of the National Corrections Institute, a federal agency that provides training and technical assistance to corrections agencies.

"That is pretty much unheard of," he said, noting that, in his 40-year career, he has heard of instances where people were forgotten overnight but not for days.
"One of the worst cases of its kind...instances where people were forgotten overnight but not for days."  What?!?!?!!!  These are human beings.  It's not like you accidentally locked the cat in a room as you were going to bed.  You processed these people, for Pete's sake.  At least, I hope you did.  This is not like walking out of the office and forgetting to grab your coat.

Heads better roll, and $20 million is a bargain.  Pay up and pay the doctor's bills.  Five days in a hospital with kidney failure is not cheap.  Or fun.

I'm curious, though.  They grabbed 9 people.  What happened to the other 8 people?  Why did Mr. Chong get left to die?

One bit of advice for Mr. Chong--your friends suck, too.  Find some new ones.  At least some friends that would figure out where the hell you went for 4 days after getting arrested, even if they're not smart enough to convince you not to get high.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Training the Insane

The psychological effects of war have been known for as long as war has existed in the civilized world.  Soldiers have come home with post traumatic stress disorder, shell shock, battle fatigue, or whatever the current name was at the time, since at least the Battle of Marathon in the 4th century before the current era when post-war psychosomatic blindness was reported in an Athenian soldier.

We've known for so long, but we still fail to recognize that we're not only putting our soldiers at risk of physical harm, but also mental harm.

Beyond that, many of our soldiers are young and from impoverished backgrounds.  The most rigid training and probably the most responsible family many of them have is in the form of the armed forces.  They love and respect their military family--as they should.  Their buddies would DIE for them.

Many of these soldiers lack discipline and/or stability in their young lives before joining the military, so their first real experience is in the participation of the destruction of human life.  Don't get me wrong, they also learn valuable lessons and skills, as well as form lifelong friends.  But if your first job out of high school is to kill others, you might expect a certain distortion of reality.

Still, many of the people that have spent the last more than 10 years in the Middle East, on and off, didn't necessarily sign up for that.  Some of them are members of the National Guard, state organized militias that were meant to serve only a RESERVE for the army.

Is it no surprise then that, with our men and women in uniform being sent away to participate in the trauma of war year after year after year, at some point, they'll begin having to deal with questionable mental health WHILE on the battlefield.

In recent days, there have been reports of even MORE atrocious behavior by our men and women in uniform.  Soldiers posing with bodies and parts of bodies of people they most likely were involved in killing.  Dead people, who these soldiers (often kids, really) must have relegated to some level of sub-human status in order to treat their bodies so callously.

Normal humans don't do that.

So then, we, as Americans, must apologize to the rest of the world that our military is filled with monsters of our own making.  Posing with bodies, pissing on corpses, burning holy books, massacring civilians...

The right answer to this situation isn't to apologize (though, we must) nor is it to punish the offenders (though, we also must), but to use our armed forces more wisely.  Our warmongering has not only nearly bankrupt us financially, but also bankrupt the sanity and morality of our service men and women.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Mommy Wars"

It seems that the purpose of both political parties in this country is to whip their respective sympathizers into a frenzy over nothing, and the media's job is to facilitate the madness.

The latest firestorm has been dubbed the "Mommy Wars," which is even more insulting than the original snafu. 

The exchange started this way:

Mitt Romney has been using his wife to reach out to women voters.  Ok.  That's fine.  He has no idea what it's like to be a woman.  That being said, SHE has no idea what it's like to be your AVERAGE woman because she has never had to provide for her family economically.

Ann Rosen pointed this out.  Of course, what we're reading in the headlines and the spin machines is, "His wife has actually never worked a day in her life."  (Et tu, Christian Science Monitor?)

That, in itself, would have been insulting.  But, it wasn't by itself.

She stated, "His wife has actually never worked a day in her life.  She's never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing."

Which, of course, is true.  Ann Romney being the face of the modern American woman is like Marie Antoinette being the face of the French (though, to be fair, it probably wasn't Marie Antoinette that said "let them eat cake.")

Ann Romney has not had to wonder how she will both feed her kids and make sure that she can afford to.  In fact, Mrs. Romney's charitable work seems to mostly revolve around talking and money, not so much the hands-on approach that might provide a little insight into how "the other half" lives.

That being said, it's unfortunate that Ms. Rosen's two sentences (well, one, really) are being used as weapons.  We certainly shouldn't denigrate women who make the choice to remain at home to care for their children.   Quite frankly, it is a hard job--just ask your mom.  It's also hard to choose to work, even if you absolutely must, because of the guilt many women feel (and are often forced to feel) for doing so.

BUT...given that many, many, MANY women simply don't have that choice, whether they would make it or not, it is not out of line to point out that, not only is Mitt out of touch with the common man, but Ann is no great substitute for being in touch with the common woman.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Back to the Future in Wisconsin

A version of the cover of The Handmaid's Tale
If you've never read "The Handmaid's Tale," you really should.  It's a story about a woman in a dystopian future.  In this future, everyone is classified by their role in society...especially women.  It's set in the United States, which has been taken over by a fundamentalist sect.  In the time leading up to this, the rights of women were slowly taken away.  First, women were removed from the workforce.  The men said "lucky you! You don't have to work."  Then, the ability of women to make purchases went away.  Men said "I'm sure it's a fluke.  Anyway, you can rely on me to get you what you need."  Then, women completely subjugated to the will of men, even their reproductive capabilities.  Handmaids were women that were known to be fertile, who were essentially made into baby makers for rich men.  The woman at the center of the story is a handmaid. (

What's so incredibly annerving about it is that it could be set in a very near future.

Road Map

Fundamentalists in the country appear to be using "The Handmaid's Tale" as a road map to the political future of this country.

At a time when teen pregnancies and birth have hit an all-time low (at least for as long as we've really been paying attention to the issue) due, in part, to the availability of birth control, conservative politicians are demonizing birth control.

At a time when we are strapped for cash, and the cost to the public of treating and delivering unwanted pregnancies is at least $11 billion per year, politicians are allowing the Catholic church to decide that insurance companies shouldn't cover birth control.  A "radical intrusion" into church policy.  Wait?  Since when is the church an insurance company.  Stick to religion, guys, or you have to follow the rules for the other businesses you run.

At the same time birth control is being maligned and restricted, the back up plan is also being criminalized, with women being subjected to guilt trips, to object rape, and to prolonged physical risk as a result of pregnancy in order to get an abortion.

Although I don't buy it (nor should anyone with functioning grey matter), but at least you MIGHT be able to justify the invasion of the human female uterus under the guise of "morality."

On Wisconsin!

Wisconsin, though, seems to want to lead the charge toward full-fledged legal subjugation of women.

As of Friday, April 6, 2012, if you are discriminated against by your employer in Wisconsin, the best you can hope for is the financial equivalent of a spanking with an inflatable glove for your employer.  And you may still end up jobless.

That is, Gov. Scott Walker signed a repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act (passed 2009).

While you may still sue in a state court or federal court, the state courts are limited in how you may be compensated for earning less because you have boobs.  It's also more expensive to sue in a federal court, so your options for punishing your employer for being a sexist pig is that much harder.

The justification for this?  Get this: " is more important for men." (According to the author of the bill, Senator Glenn Grothman.)

So, if you are a woman and you find out that your employer is paying you less than the male equivalent, tough titty. You shouldn't be the bread winner, anyway.  Get yourself a man!

The text of the bill is here:

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Ok, so we've all been paying attention to the GOP presidential race, right?  Well, at least a little.  Enough to know that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are running?  Ok.  Good.

In case you weren't paying close attention, one of the things that Mr. Newt Gingrich has been saying is that, as emperor...erm...president, he'd outright ignore the Supreme Court if he felt like it, actively seek to impeach judges he disagreed with, and abolish entire courts for failing to make rulings as Czar Gingrich sees fit.

Mitt Romney isn't quite as ballsy, but he indicates that the Supreme Court should answer to the people because Congress is too incompetent to review them (though, perhaps he doesn't realize that Congress has no power over the justices once they're in the Court, unless they do something naughty).

Both these ideas draw applause from the (admittedly extreme) audience present at the debate where these ideas issue from the lips of these two esteemed "conservatives."

And "conservative" tools have been crying JUDICIAL ACTIVISM every time a judge does something they don't like for quite some time.  Of course, the term hasn't been limited to use by conservatives, but certainly it has gotten trotted out pretty frequently by them, even landing itself into the GOP platform on a regular basis (1996, 2004, 2008).

But now, all the applause is forgotten, because current (Democratic) Barack (Hussein) Obama has the gall to play the judicial activism card himself. In fact, Mitch McConnell must believe that only he and/or his fellow Republicans must own the phrase "judical activism" as he can say it (at least here, and here, and here), but not (Democratic) President Barack (Hussein) Obama (here).

While I think playing the judicial activism card might be premature, though probably accurate in light of the existence of other programs we must all participate in (via taxes or fees) that result in a benefit of some over another (e.g., Medicare, farm subsidies, mortgage interest refunds, etc.), it's pretty ridiculous that a leader in the Anti-Judicial Activism Party (GOP) would tut tut the president for saying so.

Somehow, I suspect that Mitch McConnell, or at least many of his colleagues, might be extra offended if one used the common phrase, "it's like the pot calling the kettle..." Democrat?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

You Got Yours

There is an interesting phenomenon that happens with people who have endured hardships at the hands of others.  That is, once they get past the abuse, they feel as though no one else deserves what they feel they earned.

There are people that I rarely talk to because of this phenomenon.  I had a friend in high school that was constantly picked on, bullied, and abused.  She was the butt of jokes and the equivalent of a cur that everyone kicked to the curb.  All she wanted, at least I thought, was to be loved and respected like everyone else.  I was no beauty queen or social butterfly, myself, but I was largely immune to any foolishness from a bunch of hormone-addled teenagers, so they mostly gave up on trying to get under my skin.  I did my best to stand up for her, though.  She deserved to be treated like a human being just like me or anyone else, right?  Imagine my dismay when, after years of being under the radar she shows up again, only to spam me with emails telling me to not watch certain TV shows because there were gay people on them or to support drug testing on people in need of assistance (something I'm sure she needed in the past, and may have failed the test, herself).

She got hers and no one else deserves it.

I can't fathom the thought processes that are involved in this attitude.  I am sure I'm not the only one confounded by it.

Source unknown, but only really appropriate for this topic.
It appears that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM...hehehe) is using this phenomenon to defeat civil rights for gay people.

Recent news (though conspicuously absent from Faux central "news," but occasionally showing up in local Fox stations; is that NOM plans to drive a wedge between the black and Hispanic communities and gay rights.

Key messages by NOM

The "Christianity" message

The most obvious message is that gay people, particularly gay people getting married, will end Christianity in the US.  Or, at least, Christians will be called bigots.

Well, that's already true, unfortunately.  I have often called out my gay friends for using that broad brush (as I am a Christian, myself and I know many who don't deserve to be called bigots), and it's getting better.  That being said, being "Christian" isn't the same as BEING Christian.  So, if the shoe fits...

Creating and using fear

A second, fairly obvious message is that a path to gay rights will block a path to Hispanic rights.  Worse than that, NOM's recently released memos indicate that the path to Hispanic rights should be directed along "separate-but-equal" ideals in order to preserve the deeply Christian roots that tend to run in Hispanic communities.
"Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values?" one NOM memo asked. "We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity ... a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation."
In other words, "don't let the Hispanics fully integrate; it might make them indifferent to our emotional manipulation."  Not only does it suggest that NOM will use any tool, including fear, to pull in supporters of their bigotry, but they'll literally engineer a reason for that fear.

You got yours

A less obvious and more reprehensible message, centering around NOM's "Not a Civil Right" campaign is that "your people have suffered under the yoke of oppression; it's your turn to hold the yoke."  This is very much directed toward the black community, and it is the most insidious.  It is very possibly playing on the very same emotion that the bullied kid feels when they arrive at school with a loaded gun.  We all know how that ends.

The upshot?

Fortunately, civil rights leaders and many, many businesses, faith-based organizations, and people in general, were too smart to fall for these tactics.  NOM was already preaching to the choir.  But now, perhaps, with the lid off of the whole scheme, perhaps some of the choir will feel a bit used and dirty.

Hopefully, the feeling of shame will set in before the vote in November, with an attempt to memorialize bigotry into our state's constitution.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Never back down

I own guns.  I believe that the second amendment to the US Constitution provides me that right in the same way that I am provided the right to vote via various amendments to the US Constitution.  I grew up using and respecting firearms.  I lived part of my life on a farm and I enjoy hunting.

I understand that a gun is a tool with great power to do a lot of things, including to provide food, to protect, and to test skill.  But a gun was made for one reason, and it should never be forgotten--to kill.

The news related to recent gun legislation has been utterly ridiculous for many reasons.

Media is creating the news

First of all, news outlets are creating the news, not reporting it.  We see pictures of a young, innocent-looking Trayvon Martin all over the news.  A kid that doesn't look more than 12-years-old.  Well, it turns out the appearances are probably accurate because the photo is several years old.

Does this mean that we should judge him as an intimidating, hoodie-wearing thug?  No.  He probably wasn't a thug at all.  But, what the media has chosen to portray him as is intentionally leading.  He probably wasn't a thug, but he also wasn't a fresh-faced 12-year-old.

The pictures we see of George Zimmerman are no less leading.  We see a man in a photo that appears to have mug-shot quality--poor color, a sullen frown.  Even the red shirt he's wearing appears to be prison-jumpsuit-orange.

Based on the photos alone, why wouldn't you presume that Zimmerman shot poor Trayvon in cold blood?

The real news

Of course, it's possible he did kill Trayvon in cold blood.  And it may have been perfectly legal.  Although various articles referring to the shooting of Trayvon Martin often refer to Florida's recently implemented gun law, which broadened the scope of the "castle doctrine" and reduced the risk of prosecution if you shoot someone in "self defense," very little has been provided in the way of details on this law.  The law, itself, can be found here:

Specifically, it states that
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
In other words, if you are out and about and in a place that you shouldn't be, you have the right to stand there and shoot someone if you reasonably believe that if you don't, you or someone else will suffer great bodily harm or death.

Ok.  I could buy that.  If you have a gun and you can't expect to outrun someone looking to kill you, you should shoot first, right? should make every reasonable effort to escape, and this law doesn't require you to.

Still, one has to question why Zimmerman wasn't arrested.  There was evidence that he wasn't just not backing down, but actively pursuing Martin.  That evidence should have been available at the time he was taken in for questioning.

Quite frankly, if you're stalking something dangerous, you deserve to get what's coming when it turns around.
Just ask this guy:  Timothy Treadwell 

In other words, it was pretty clear from the phone call that Zimmerman made to the police that he shouldn't have followed Martin, PARTICULARLY if he perceived him to be dangerous.  If all he got for tagging along on this kid was a bloody nose, then he got off easy.

But Martin ended up dead.

And no one was going to say anything.  Of course, now they have and Zimmerman has been all but publicly tried and convicted.  Maybe he was justified for shooting the unarmed teen.  Still, it should have been more thoroughly investigated before it blew up in the media.

Of course

There are those assholes who have put up pictures of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, a couple that was kidnapped, tortured, raped, and then murdered, claiming that this is about the media playing the race card.  The difference is that four black men were CONVICTED of this crime, while no one was even arrested for killing Trayvon Martin.  If you can't tell the difference, you're either being intellectually dishonest or you've got some mental deficiency going on.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What do you mean I actually have to live here?

Adjective: Typical of a class, group, or body of opinion.
Noun: A person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others, in particular.  Specifically regarding the US House of Representatives, each representative must: (1) be at least twenty-five years old; (2) have been a citizen of the United States for the past seven years; and (3) be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they represent.

One would hope that an actual Representative would be aware of such requirements.  But, it seems to be a surprise to Representative Chip Cravaack, resident of New Hampshire, who is supposed to be the Representative of Minnesota's 8th District.  While it is not required that a Representative live within the district which they are supposedly representing (see, Michele Bachmann), they do, in fact, have to inhabit their state.  Not just own a house there.

While we should recognize that a Representative might have a need to spend a significant amount of time in Washington, D.C., or on travel to other states and countries, it is expected that they have some sort of stake (other than political) in the state they supposedly represent.

Such stake could be, for example, where they and their family live.  Where their spouse works.  Or where their children go to school.

A stake may be supplemented by being your "home state" (where you were born), your alma mater state (where you got your higher education degree), or a state where you might have a (real) job.  Though, these things are merely secondary.

Chip Cravaack has none of these things.

Chip was born in West Virginia, which is not Minnesota.  Chip graduated high school in Cincinnati, which is not located in Minnesota.  Chip graduated from the United States Naval Academy (in Maryland) University of West Florida, which is, oddly enough, in Florida.

Chip did work as a pilot at Northwest Airlines, which was headquartered in Minnesota, but now is nonexistent.  He then lived (off of a medical disability pension for sleep apnea, as well as the teat of the taxpayers taking unemployment for a time) in Cambridge, MN.

Now, he lives in New Hampshire, where his wife and children live.  While he did live in Minnesota for over 20 years, he no longer has a stake in the state. (Note: it's about freaking time this got "lamestream" coverage)

He recognizes that his move put a "five mile target on [his] back," but he seems to think that if he raises enough money, it's ok that he doesn't actually fulfill the requirements of being a Representative in the state of Minnesota.

Considering that he ran, and won, on the basis that the previous incumbent (Jim Oberstar) had supposedly "lost touch" with the people he represented, it is ironic that Cravaack thinks he can do better in an altogether different state.

Chip, feel free to get some talk-show motivation near your new home.  Walk into another politician's office and demand that they see you.  Get off on some self-righteousness, and hijack a seat there, if you wish.  But, do yourself a favor and quit pretending you're representing Minnesota.  I'd say you're making yourself look like an ass, but that would be an insult to long-eared equids, and you don't even represent them, either.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Get out the Vote! It might be your last chance

Yeah, yeah.  I know that many other states have enacted voter ID legislation.  And I know that the courts have, so far, generally upheld them.  That should ease my mind, right?


First, where's the fire?  So far, no one has provided any evidence of widespread and intentional voter fraud.  They haven't even been able to provide evidence of either one separately.  Recently, proponents of voter ID trotted out a single example of a woman who stupidly voted for her daughter, who was off at college, with an absentee ballot.  Wow.  That's pretty overwhelming.  Absent that, at least in Minnesota, there are the examples of felons who voted because they didn't realize their full voting rights had not yet been returned (a confusing situation, considering every state has different laws regarding felon voting rights).

So, the evidence is not overwhelming that there is widespread voter fraud.  A few dozen out of millions of votes.  And in none of the cases was it intentional.  Most importantly, we know about these because the system ALREADY WORKED.

Note how his eyebrows look evil. (Borrowed from
Even assuming we only know about them because they all turned themselves in following their illegal voting sprees, their votes would not have significantly affected any outcomes.  "But wait!  What about Al Franken and Norm Coleman?" some might say, "Those few dozen votes could have made the all the difference in the world!  After all, that commie (short for comedian, right?) wouldn't have been Senator, then!" (Fox "News" even put out a very unbalanced article titled "Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Says.")

Wrong.  If anyone that followed that election (and recount and recount and recount and recount...) and bothered to put their brain in gear, it would have been clear that EVERY vote was scrutinized.  Every ballot was scoured for defects.  Every voter on every list was analyzed and considered.  If Norm Coleman could have pointed to illegal voting as the cause of his loss, he would have.  Even his attorney conceded that there was no widespread voter fraud.

Second, where's the solution?  Even if we concede that voter fraud is a bad thing (which it is), and that it needs to be stopped right now (it should be), will voter ID fix our (apparently not so) horribly corrupted voting system?

Survey says?  No.

While convicted felons that have been let out of prison on parole may not legally be able to vote yet, they have perfectly legal access to identification.  As does every other person legally residing in a state within the United States.  As of right now, at least in Minnesota, a state-issued identification card does not denote voting status for US citizens.  So, simply requiring an identification card doesn't fix the supposed problem.

Why not add something to an identification card that says whether or not you're eligible to vote?  Great question!  (At least on its surface.)  If a felon has a legitimate identification obtained before conviction, then you'd have to require felons to get a new ID for use only during parole.  If you can't find any difficulties in that, you're being naive.  Beyond that, the length of time a felon can be on parole varies, ranging from a few months to many years.  The life span of a driver's license, the most common state-issued identification, is 4 years in Minnesota.  If you have a driver's license, you know why you wouldn't want to have to get one more often.

Aside from being a test in patience, getting a new identification is a test in flexibility.  That is, flexibility with your job, your transportation, your time, and your cash.  A driver's license is not free; they're $15 to $24, depending on the license type.  And even if we make voter IDs free, they are STILL not free.  If you've ever had to get a copy of your birth certificate, you know that.  If you ever had to take time off your job, drive to the DMV or other state government location, and get a new driver's license just because you moved, you know it's not free to get an ID.

They're still not free.  Even if we removed ALL of those other expenses.  We will pay for them via taxes, especially if we moved to create a new ID only usable for voting.

Above and beyond the cost of the IDs themselves, we will need to pay for the infrastructure required to utilize IDs to allow voters to vote.  And figure out how to get more volunteers recruited and trained to run the polls during elections.  And hire extra voting judges for questions related to provisional balloting.  Etc.  While the costs, in the millions for the first year alone, are only in the millions (chump change, if you look at the state budget), we're talking about additional costs at a time when we simply can't afford more.

We're doing it because we can.  Clearly, without a need and without a solution, and in light of unnecessary costs, one must ask 'why?'  For voters that may vote for such a change--to be put into the state constitution in MN, not in legislation, and without any practical details--the answer might be because they believe the problem is severe.  Or they might believe that it's somehow not fair that people can cheat (regardless of whether they actually do).  Or they might believe that you simply can't trust people to be able to vouch for one another.  "Those dirty bastards vouching for granny at the assisted living home might just vouch for that illegal immigrant that I just KNOW is voting to take away my job!"

Public paranoia and me-vs-them-ism.

For the politicians, more is at work in this issue.  It's about a couple of things: numbers and numbers.  The first is the number of people likely to vote for politicians that agree with you.  Generally speaking, those people most affected by being required to get a piece of plastic with your picture on it in order to participate in the political process are poor or have lower mobility.  People who are not flexible with their jobs, their transportation, their time, or their money.  Democrats.

The second is the number of people that will come out to vote.  Republicans are catering to their basest of the base.  They may have discovered that people on their side are, on average, luke warm about gay marriage and people on the other side are fired up as hell about it.  Democrats might actually be motivated to go to the polls over that one.  And while they're there, they might vote to kick your bigoted ass out of office.  Oops.

Why should we care?  It's just a bit of money, right?  People who vote for the amendment are obviously ok with the cost, and majority rule, and all that.  If there's no problem and no solution, it's ok, right?  All's fair in politics, so whatever gets out the vote must be fine, right?


Any time you put up an impediment to voting, you are stepping on those rights afforded to us as Americans.  While we want to keep our polls pristine, it is far uglier to prevent natural born (and legally naturalized) citizens from voting.

You might rationalize it this way (and people do): Well, people need IDs all the time.  To drive, to get a bank account, to travel.  I don't see how anyone could not live without one, and in any case, they SHOULD have one.

Driving, owning a bank account, and entering a foreign country are not rights.  Voting is.  We should not base our ability to vote on our ability to do things that are not essential rights within the scope of being an American citizen.  AN AMERICAN CITIZEN!

In any case, there are plenty of people without IDs, who have no need of one.  A great number of them are senior citizens, including veterans.  People who owned this country before your sorry ass was born.  Should we disown them as voting members of our society just because they don't get around much anymore?  They can't mail order a new ID because they let their driver's license expire.  And getting the grand kids to drop by just for a visit, let alone to escort them to the government building to get a new ID, is a chore.  To further complicate things, if you were born before a certain period of time, finding proof of your birth to get an ID is difficult.

A good number of people on the edge of poverty, particularly the WORKING POOR, don't have access to getting an ID.  Not everyone has the opportunity to take off work at noon, spend forever at the DMV or other government office and fork out $24 of otherwise-grocery money, to get an ID.  In many cases, the reason they don't have one is because they walk or take the bus everywhere because they can't afford a car.  Ever try to get a bus to the right place at the right time in a reasonable amount of time?  Yeah...just double the necessary time to get anything done.

Outrageous!  Yes, a proper American should be indignant about the whole ploy to keep grandpa and poor people from voting.  But, so far, courts have upheld it.  If you think that means everything is hunky dorey, think again.  Who is being disenfranchised here?  People who have the least access to IDs are also the ones with the least access to the legal system.  The courts have only so far held up the laws as being constitutional on their face.  The practical effects of these laws have not yet been tested.  The courts have pretty much said that if it actually results in a poll tax (which IS unconstitutional), these laws must be struck down.  To which proponents of voter ID say "See!  No one has complained!"  Ah...but there's the rub.

These are the people with no means to complain. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The hypocrisy, it burns

Are all politicians liars?  I'm not sure I want to believe that.  I understand that politicians can't be as forthright as I prefer.  It's why I'd never be elected should I ever run for office.  I tend to tell the truth in all its bold glory, often with my Is-this-nice Filter out of order.  The problem with the truth is that there's always someone (often many someones) that it applies to in an unfavorable way.

I find it more than frustrating that many people can point in the general direction of the state capitol or Washington, D.C., and say "there be liars."  Of course, I find it particularly astounding when those same people will then spout the same BS that certain politicians fabricate to get elected and to spread the general political hate around.  Wait...what?  You just said all politicians are liars, and now you're trying to fill me up with bull I've only ever heard in political conversations originating from one of those lying politicians?!?  The hypocrisy, it burns.

Unfortunately, in my small experience, all politicians may not be liars, but they certainly aren't very forthright with the truth.  Truth and fact can be bendy sometimes, and it seems to be a characteristic that successful politicians take advantage of.  I, personally, can buy that sometimes the end justifies the means...but within limits.  When a bendy fact becomes a lie, you've crossed the line.

I met up with my state senator a few weeks ago who told me that the state Department of Natural Resources manages school trust lands (fact).  He told me that that relationship resulted in a conflict of interest (possibly true, but must be borne out by facts).  He told me that Minnesota's school trust lands don't make a lot of money (relative, but not a lie).  He told me that Minnesota's management of school trust lands is probably (bendy word) the worst of any state in the nation (getting pretty bendy, here, even without having to do much research--probably pushing a lie).  He told me that 95% of the income from school trust lands goes back into management of those lands (lie!).  He told me that he introduced a bill (fact) that fixes this (bendy!).  And it should be passed (opinion) because the land doesn't belong to us (REALLY bendy), but the children (oh geez, you're playing the emotions game with the wrong person, buddy *eyeroll*).

You see, the situation above really only has one outright lie.  But the rest is awfully bendy truth, opinions, and emotional manipulation.  The resulting message is a lie.  While he might believe it, I'm not dumb enough to.  I see this for what it is: an attempt to scratch some backs by putting people who might profit into a position to take advantage of state resources for development.  (Note: The media has outright failed in looking at this legislation.  The existence of it has been in the news, including Minnesota Public Radio, but not a single one of them has done anything but report the existence of the bill.  Not a single shred of investigation into the politicians' claims has been done outside a "community voice" article found here: .  Media fail.)

I also almost wish they were lying.  But the truth is, I can forgive a person for organically deficient, but not so much for being deliberately ignorant.  After all, the challenged person can be willing to learn.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ah Wisconsin

We Minnesotans have been looking askance at our easterly neighbor, recently.  It seems the state is going through some sort of mid-life crisis.  You know, that time in a person's life when a massive influx of stupid and selfish seems to coincide with the fear of irrelevancy?

Well, two legislators in Wisconsin have just outdone themselves with the stupid part.  Apparently, these heroic legislators have brought to light that single parenthood causes child abuse and neglect.  Yep.  It CAUSES child abuse.  And these two geniuses (a word clearly used ironically) have found it necessary to legislate based on this "fact."

Check out Wisconsin Senator Grothman  and Representative Pridemore's lovely bill:

Perhaps it hasn't occurred to these two legislators that correlation and causation are two different things, and a correlation is not a good reason to codify religious belief.  Of course, these guys are not speaking with any sort of authority.  I can find no evidence that Sen. Grothman (about Grothman) even has a family, or that either (about Pridemore) has any experience that might suggest he knows what he's talking about when it comes to families and child abuse and neglect.

If one wishes to follow the type of logic that resulted in the drafting of this ridiculous bill, one can make all kinds of ridiculous statements.  For example, Senator Grothman and Representative Pridemore are Republicans.  Senator Grothman and Representative Pridemore have their heads up their asses.  Therefore, being a Republican is the cause of Sen. Grothman's and Rep. Pridemore's cases of recto-cranial inversion.  We should have the state pay for public service announcements warning people to refrain from becoming Republicans.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Feminazis are sluts and Rush is a dick

Rush Limbaugh has made his money by being a loud-mouthed jackass.  There are plenty of people who do that.  And you can't blame them for finding a way to make money for doing what comes naturally.  What is particularly unfortunate is that Rush appears to have a sincere following of people that take him at his word.  What's even more unfortunate is that the media, politicians, and others treat him as though he's relevant.  Why can't we just respond to anything Rush says with "Rush is a moron.  So, how's the weather?"

Well, since everyone does treat Rush as though it's worth caring about the shit that flows from his sneering lips, let's take a look at his latest bit of charm.  I'm sure you've heard/read/seen all the flap about how Rush equated demanding insurance coverage of birth control with being a prostitute.  Oh yes, he even suggested that the amount of birth control required (and being affordable) by a woman was in proportion to the amount of sex she has.

Now, at that point, anyone with a brain SHOULD have said "Rush is a moron," and moved to more important topics, like how long it will take for the paint to dry before applying a second coat.

But noooo....  The media plastered it all over the internet and news and radio.  Rush lost some advertisers for being such a moron, but probably more than made up for it by the number of hits his website got.  (I admit, I went to his website, but I hope to spare you that pain my dear readers.)  Democrats took advantage of his stupidity by raising money--good for them; and demanded that the Republicans denounce Rush--erm...that was dumb.  Of course, even dumber is that the Republican presidential hopefuls and head Congressional honchos responded with the equivalent of slapping oneself across the knee with a pseudo-exasperated look and saying "Oh Rush."  Pussies.

Anyway, so Rush "apologizes."  He says,
"For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone's bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."  (If you must provide another hit on his website, you can read it here:

I call bullshit.  Rush's point was NOT that we shouldn't be discussing "sexual recreational activities" before Congress (Rush certainly enjoyed Clinton's).  His point was that he wanted to make a national stir by disagreeing with Ms. Fluke (or at least he knew that his zombie followers disagree with her) and so he personally attacked her.

She had a legitimate reason to be speaking before Congress, and it had nothing to do with her "sexual recreational activities" or what the taxpayers pay (a red herring of a lie if ever there was one), it had to to with whether insurance companies should be required to cover women's health at the same level they cover men's health.  Rush, who probably relies on medicated boners, should understand that.  But understanding doesn't make him money.  Fellating his listeners and sponsors does.  Who's the slut now, Mr. Limbaugh?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The truth about gay marriage, at least in Minnesota

I admit that I lack confidence in my representation in the legislature these days.  Particularly the current crop of people, most of whom were rage-elected by people who only voted for the "other guy" because they were generally dissatisfied by the state of pretty much everything during the last major election.  Contrary to what some may believe, it wasn't mandate; it was an electoral tantrum.  Many of you will lose your positions, whether you deserve to or not, by the same fickle voters because you weren't focused enough on what they irrationally wanted fixed NOW.

I had the opportunity to meet with my state senator yesterday about just WTF is going on in the legislature, at least WTF is going on with relation to him.  I had set up the meeting because I just moved into his district, and I want to know if there's a justification for WTF is going on.  I planned to meet with him, first, because his position is the most tenuous with respect to my vote.

Before I contacted him, I did my research.  His position isn't senior nor particularly notable, so he wasn't in the news a lot.  I looked up his bio and his votes.  Alas...on some issues that I find important, he was predictably GOP.  And I don't mean the good old fashioned type.

Minnesota is a good, Midwestern state (well, at least we claim the location).  We don't like to make a fuss.  We don't like to be in the news, except for good, non-controversial reasons, like having a city listed in the best cities to live in or being a good place to raise children or for creating the Minnesota Miracle (which makes us proud but if we had any say, it would have a name that was more modest).

But lately, we've been in the news for a controversial reason.  Our leaders have made it appear as though we hate gay people.

Now, nothing could be further from the truth for many, if not most of us.  But when our largest school district is under scrutiny for having a policy that probably contributed to the suicides of a significant number of gay and perceived-gay students, while administrators (and our illustrious Michele Bachmann) insist that the suicide hotspot is coincidence (as is the sexual orientation or perceived orientation of all the students involved), it starts to smell of homophobicity.

Then, when our legislators--to be fair, mostly one party--feel it is time to put the vote over whether gay people can legally have families up to the people, I certainly wouldn't blame any of my gay friends (or anyone's gay friends) to throw their hands up in the air, say "I get your hint!" and take themselves, their partners, their taxes, and their jobs to the East Coast.

Since I obviously can't comprehend why in the world the state needs to weigh in on what I deem to be a religious issue, let alone drop the damned thing into our state constitution, I am livid.

So, I decided to ask my senator as I had him trapped in a coffee shop for a little me-time.  Below, in no particular order (well, other than one that flows best for the purposes of this blog), are the excuses given to me for putting gay rights up to a vote and why they're wrong.

  • This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
Bullshit.  This country was founded on the belief that the king of England was an unfair, money-grubbing prick.  If one must scrutinize the founding of this country in the light of religion, there is only one legal document with any standing: the Constitution.

The originally written Constitution had NO references to God, let alone a Judeo-Christian God.  (I will tell you where God appears in a constitution--the Middle East, where religion is regularly established by law.)  The only reference to religion can be found in the First Amendment, which is one of a handful of Amendments initially added to the Constitution as a Bill of Rights.  These were added to the Constitution, not as an afterthought, but as a safeguard believed necessary by James Madison in light of the long history of governments removing rights from its territories, colonies, and people, because they were, by definition, less powerful than the central government.  The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... 

Thus, the Constitution--the ONLY founding document with the strength of law--outright prohibits enacting any law regarding establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise of religion.  By the Constitution, governments under the Constitution may not institutionalize or prohibit any religion.  So, even if the founding fathers were flaming Catholics (which they weren't; many were deists, at best), it wouldn't matter.  They found it in the best interest of this country to keep religion out of the government.

This was deliberate.  At the time the Constitution was written, it was tradition to invoke God in the writing of legal documents.  While many of the other founders thought the original Constitution obviously provided the rights addressed in the Bill of Rights (which is not surprising, since they already pretty much existed as the English Bill of Rights), Madison thought it necessary to enumerate them.

As an aside, I'd like to know where in the Bible the free market was supported?  I find it odd that some "conservatives" happily wrap social issues in the Bible, but worship the free market almost above Jesus when Jesus wasn't a fan of the effects of the free market. 

  • It is necessary to define marriage on the basis of procreative ability.
Bullshit.  Here is a table of potential combinations of people that might arrange a marriage and some notes on procreative ability and the legality of the combination.

Party 1             Party 2                 Able to procreate?  Legal? Notes
Man (fertile)     Woman (fertile)     Yes                       Yes                      
Man (fertile)     Woman (infertile)   No                         Yes    If no procreation, why legal?
Man (infertile)   Woman (fertile)     No                         Yes    If no procreation, why legal?
Man (infertile)   Woman (infertile)    No                        Yes     If no procreation, why legal?
Man (fertile)      Women (multiple)  Yes                       No      Procreation ability superior to all other
                                                                                            combinations.  Why illegal?
Men (multiple)  Woman (fertile)      Yes                       No      Warps "Christian" minds.
Man                   Man                      No                         No    Beginning to look like we've made laws regarding
                                                                                            the establishment of religion, doesn't it?
Woman              Woman                 No                        No    Procreation still possible with third party, similar 
                                                                                          to the infertile man/fertile woman combination.  
                                                                                          Yet one is legal in this state and the other isn't.

As you can see, marriage in this state is awarded to couples that have no ability to procreate, so this can't be  the only legitimate reason for a state to issue a marriage license.

  • It is necessary to define marriage to support the successful raising of children.
Bullshit.  Recent controlled scientific studies (the first of their kind) have shown that gay couples that raise children do a good job.  Just as good as a man/woman combination.  There are no properly scientific studies to the contrary, despite the belief by some people that there are.  The difference between belief and fact should be obvious, people.

  • It is necessary to define marriage between a man and a woman to prevent the marriage between a man/woman and a dog/child/car/dead person/other non-consenting individual.
Bullshit.  Here's a hint...look at the last potential individual listed on that slippery slope.  This is important: if it can't consent, it can't get married.  Now, people will do bad things to those that can't consent.  In fact, the Catholic Church has quite a reputation for that.  But if we must define marriage in order to prevent the demoralization of this country, we should define it by the ability of the parties involved to consent.  Your dog can't consent.  A child can't consent.  An inanimate (or dead) object can't consent.  As in any legal contract, the parties must have the ability to consent, otherwise it is void.  Rome did not fall because the emperor and his people diddled animals.  Rome fell because of the rise of Christianity and Islam.  The old gods were dead, and the new gods had richer benefactors.  Rome was spread out and the newly minted Christian Church was a wealthy seed right in the middle of the Empire.  The new bishops were now more powerful than the emperor.  The truth isn't as fun as the rumor that Rome fell because of hedonism, is it? 

The Truth
Minnesota's political leadership swung GOP only because the public is fickle and simply voted for the "other guy" because they were unhappy with the economy.  The electorate hoped that the "other guy" would get them their jobs back.  The "other guy," who happens to be mostly GOP, failed to do that.  The GOP knows that.  The only way the GOP can hope to maintain a majority long term is to get their base (and I mean base) out to vote in record numbers.  And the only way to do that is bring up a hot button issue that appeals to that base.  Gay marriage, an institution that is already illegal in this state, is the pawn the GOP is using to maintain their seats because they know that the base that comes out to vote on this issue is also the same type of person who will vote for the GOP simply because they are GOP, and not because they did their jobs in the legislature.

Why it could pass
The truth is, the concept of gay marriage burns the flesh of some so-called Christians the way a cross (or garlic or sunlight--interesting that those two things have the same power as a cross...) is supposed to burn the flesh of a vampire. These so-called Christians know that the tide is turning and now is the time to set their doctrine in stone before their kids are old enough to vote.  

Why it shouldn't pass
There is no legitimate legal reason we should ever vote on the freedoms of others, let alone memorialize them in a constitution.  The purpose of proposing to put this in the constitution is purely to subvert the will of future voters.  Subverting the vote of the people is a very anti-American thing to do.