Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Open Letter

Dear 75% Of The Property Owners Residing On Belleview Place Between Oakland and Downer Avenues*,

Unscientific Breakdown of Area Residents:
College students who just want to be able to get to their cars - 65%
Old folks who remember when stuff you used to be here that isn't here anymore - 15%
Residents of peculiar passion, ie. 'crazy people' - 10%
Bohemians (who really like coffee) - 4%
Fish & Game - 4%
Fairy folk (these may just be children) - 2%
Note: Fish & Game and Fairy folk/possible children have in the past voted as a bloc to hedge out Bohemians.

I hope this letter finds you well. Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Hannukah? Kwanzaa? Heathen Tree Renewal Day? The Sun God Festival? Deep Atheistic Sighing Day?*2

I'm writing this morning to apprise you of my own Christmas wish. Namely that you get off your ham/turkey/tofu/tofurkey/latke/no longer bleating, sacrificed goat-eating*3 asses and salt your sidewalks.

It's true, we have had two consecutive days without measurable snowfall. However, melting snow combined with overnight freezing temperatures creates icy patches the likes of which could lead to people (even he-man types like myself) looking like uncoordinated dorks and breaking their ass bones. While the merits of salting to get rid of ice can be debated by the greatest minds of SCIENCE, the traction afforded by little crystalized particles CANNOT. I'm not going to debate you, East Side.

True, this is not the stretch of sidewalk in question, but it illustrates my point better, so you're going to have to fool yourself into believing it is. Or is the magic gone from your life?

No, the time for debate is over. Now it's time for taint punches for the unwilling and less powerful taint punches for the unable.*4 Unless you've got some iron underwear, you best get salting.*5

What's worse? Chafing or a bruised undercarriage?

* A small percentage of the interweb's constituency, but a vital one for my nefarious purposes. A seven block stretch at six in the morning, with little light, seems like the expanse of the world on four hours sleep.

*2 I'm going to assume you did because I have no way of asking each of you individually, and truth be told, don't really care. It's a pleasantry to ask, nothing more.

*3 While this list is not all-encompassing as to the options available to you for celebratory dinners, if you ate anything else, you are probably a shifty loner who deserves scorn. Don't like it? Get on board the approved food train.

*4 Sorry, invalids. I've got to keep it fair.

*5 I know not everyone received the gift of iron underwear this year, but I can't resist boasting about mine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Have You Heard The Good News?

There's a nice review of Rival Angels on Ain't It Cool News*. Why is that good news? Because Rival Angels is the labor of love perpetrated on the interweb by my friend Alan Evans. He's a good guy, it's a fun read, and I am being paid to write this*2.

Also, I'd be missing a great whoring opportunity*3 if I neglected to mention that an upcoming chapter, on the origin of Sun Wong*4, is written by some dork named Justin Riley*5.

* Yes, it is cool.

*2 Not really. No "Blagojeviching" here.

*3 And I get so few of those now that I'm on government assistance. Actually, is it "whoring" if you don't get paid? Is pro bono "whoring" really "slutting" or "skanking"? Deep thoughts.

*4 The coolest titular Angel, IMHO.

*5 Obviously a pseudonym.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Joyous Season Of Giving

Sure, they probably won't be 'door busters'.........

1) The Back Fat-alizer
"It's just a re-purposed backpack leaf blower", you say?. Not if you've got the back of a fat guy. Fill the tank with diesel, strap it on and vibrate your way to a smooth and sexy spine.

2) Where's Your Messiah Now?: A Norwegian Death Metal Holiday
Featuring Santaface, The Doom Carolers, Electric Viking Funeral,
The Headless Children of Oslo Choir, and many more.

3) Delicious Replacements Edible Prostheses
Do you find yourself forgetting to bring dessert to family gatherings due to your psychological scarring after 'the incident'? Out on an impromptu 'survivors picnic' when your sweet tooth starts acting up? Here's the answer you've been hoping for (other than a magical restoration of your wholeness)! Available in milk chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon.

4) Fancy Shmancy I'm A Writer Kit
Want everyone to know you write? What better way then by telling them in every way possible? Kit includes a near professional-quality photograph of you in a variety of backdrops; - leaning against the hood of your vintage car, - with your cat glasses hanging alluringly by a stem from your teeth, - underlit extreme close-up to make you look dangerous, - on a bridge in Prague, the cold no match for the devastating cold in your soul, - with goofy, just woke up hair that says "I'm THAT ambivalent", and others. Along with the dynamic photograph, there are seven different book formats available to affix it to the back of (Books do not come pre-written; that's your job). Also included, a prepared obituary to fit your aspirations; available in Gonzo Journalist, World-Weary Traveler, Dynamic Futurist, Manly Hooker Beater, Gay Terrorist, Criminal Writing From Death Row, Spunky Manhattanite, Foreign National With A Far Better Appreciation of America's Promise, Slam Poet and Cougar. More styles to come!

5) MegaFun Stabby Ball
It's like Hot Potato, except someone gets stabbed. For ages 4 and up - any younger and they just don't appreciate the danger they're in.

6) Personal Racist Monkey
Hate people based on geographic or cultural differences but don't want to be 'that guy'? Now you can let your racist monkey do your dirty work for you! Trained to hate using the most cutting-edge behavioral modification programs, racist monkeys come with a variety of crude t-shirts espousing their/your views, and are the perfect scape goats! Coming Soon: Sanctity of Marriage Parrots!

7) One Man Bailout Kit
Need a hand up, but don't own a multinational corporation?! Now there's hope for you!! From subterfuge to criminal enterprise, The OMB Kit has you covered!!! This kit includes fancy letterhead appliques, forged balance statements regarding your many 'offshore holdings', 'letters' from your 'workers' promising violent retribution for your pissing away of their 401ks, and if all else fails, a stiletto and a .38 special.

8) Things To Do Desk Planner
An attractive imitation leather planner with a different scientific, artistic, medical or social breakthrough listed on each day. Accompanying these achievements are special motivational messages such as: "What have YOU done today?", "...but eating Cheetos and watching the America's Next Top Model marathon is good, too.", "For some people, just avoiding jail time is an accomplishment.", and "Wonder if anyone would even care enough to check your house and make sure you haven't died."

9) Baby, I've Been Cheating Kit
There's no easy way to say it, but it doesn't have to get you ganked. Protect yourself while you reveal what a dick you are. Comes with a titanium athletic cup, ear plugs, kevlar vest (for heart stabbings), mouth guard, pup tent, replacement cell phone, change of clothes and VHS copy of The First Wives Club; a parting gift to start the healing. But The Kid Ain't Mine expansion pack also available.

10) "Stop Reporting Forest Fires" T-Shirt
The code of the streets says 'Stop Snitching'; now the code of the woods can finally be included in you wardrobe! By wearing your "Stop Reporting Forest Fires" t-shirt, you can let all those punk-ass bustas know that what happens on your acre stays on your acre. Ain't nobody's bidness who started what or what's burning down, son.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Neil Gaiman and Free Speech

It will come as no surprise to those who know me well that one of the namesakes for my son is Mr. Gaiman. A recent blog posting of his exemplifies one of the reasons why. Aside from the fantastic work he puts out in book and comic form, he's also a thoughtful and diligent defender of free speech and argues such here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thoughts From The Walk Home

Exiting the bus long before my stop to get Scotch tape and a side dish for dinner*, I came to a conclusion while walking the rest of the way home: It's cold.

Q: How cold?

A: Colder than Dick Cheney's heart*2.

What do you mean, "this is two sizes too small"?

* I went with New York brand Five-cheese Garlic Toast. The most Eastern Liberal Elite of all garlic toasts.

*2 Yes, he DOES have a heart......but it pumps high-grade oil. The techs at Cheney Corp have yet to find a better alternative power source for his many steampunk-style servos and pulley system strength enhancers. They tried retrofitting him with a homunculus in his chest cavity, but the imp wreaked absolute hell with his targeting systems - hence the time he shot that old man in the face.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Information Than You Require - John Hodgman

If, like me, you are constantly frustrated by the mainstream media's ignorance regarding the contributions made to our democracy by mole men, take heart*. John Hodgman, of internet and minor television fame, is ready to blow the doors off the vault of knowledge with More Information Than You Require.

There's the vault of knowledge now. Prior to this book it was fifty percent less explode-y.

A direct continuation of his previous work, The Areas Of My Expertise, MITYR*2 doesn't even bother restarting page count from where it's predecessor left off (it's that much of a continuation). There's always more fake knowledge to be illuminated and Hodgman's flashlight of false truth runs on some organic battery alternative to conventional means*3. Whether he's revealing which of our presidents was a Time Lord, why uber-guitarist Steve Vai could not bring himself to kill Ralph Macchio, or the hidden danger of tiny doctors from the future, Hodgman does so with the studiousness and passion I wish our actual "accredited" historians could. But they can't.

It takes a rare breed to hang out on Twitter and go to Hollywood parties, plumbing the depths of situational notoriety in search of mole-manic rumor and sure thing bar bets to compile for his readers. I salute you, John Hodgman; you live the life so Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough*4 don't have to, and that has made all the difference.

On a personal note, this book is worth buying simply to know why Milwaukee was destroyed by a violent downpour of skulls on February 12th, 1980. Having been born just nineteen months later, I never knew of this event, and probably never would have if not for John Hodgman and his wonderful lies*5.

* Genuine Hissfurther, you are not forgotten.

*2 As the kids and the robots call it.

*3 Much like the Oan Power Ring of
Green Lantern fame.

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power...Green Lantern's light!

*4 Respected historians who write about 'actual' history, if that's what you're in to.

*5 Now I know why I find skulls every time I hang out at the beach. Whew! That's a relief!

Good Music That I Have Recently Accquired - Cardinology

The election is over*. The tragicomedy of robo-calls, pallin' around with terrorists, and crazy ladies who don't trust radical Muslim Arab Socialists who belong to radical Christian churches who hate America has come to a close. The curtain is down, and I've got nothin'*2.

So, until I can reliably purchase my comic books and write about them*3, we'll be branching out into another source of entertainment. Music.

Whether by hook or by crook*4, here's some new music I've enjoyed. You should enjoy it too; or don't you like music? If you don't, I can't actually make a case for your humanity, robot.

This time we'll be looking at:

Cardinology - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

There's an elephant in the room*5 when you talk about Ryan Adams. The haters say two things; "He just makes the same records" and "He jumps around between genres too much". First, shut up. Then, reconcile those two statements. You can't, can you? Know why? Because they are directly at odds with one another. I can see a time twenty years on, after Sarah Palin has plunged us into a nuclear winter during her third administration, when people talk about Ryan Adams like we talk about Neil Young right now. He's got a lot to say, most of it entirely worth your loss of hearing. Some of it needs saying in a honkytonk, some in a sweaty arena, some on your stoop while talking with a pretty lady (or pretty dude), and some on the morning after being in those places, when your brain is still soaked in a cocktail of endorphins, regret and alcohol*6.

With that opening statement out of the way, is it any good? Cardinology is so 'any good' that it's 'any great'. Adams is spot-on lyrically and The Cardinals continue to be the best musicians your hipster friend forgets to name-check when making dream lineups and ordering frilly cocktails*7. By turns hopeful, heartbroken, snide, shit-kicking, whistful and tuneful, there's not a bad song of the lot. And as stated earlier, The Cardinals sound like Music wished it could sound when it was Little Music. This being the last album of their contract with Lost Highway Records, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if all forthcoming releases just came out under the name The Cardinals. Maybe then skeptics could put aside there preconceptions of the front man and enjoy the music and words without the drama and spotlight.

Also, Ryan Adams is a huge Batman fan who admits to using some comic dialogue while writing lyrics*8. Score!

* Except for Georgia and Minnesota; seriously, GA, can you keep yourselves from voting for the man that even John McCain called "worse than disgraceful" and "reprehensible"? And Minnesota, join the progressive midwest; we won't make you gay marry a spotted owl......yet.

*2 The hits to this site plummet when I don't post, and I love anonymous attention too much to let so much time go by between your visits. Get ready for a flurry of small posts to sucker you into coming back and checking if anything consequential is going on. Whorish, to be sure.

*3 Which everyone knows is a vastly underserved corner of 'the internets'.

*4 That is to say by either robbery using a bladed prosthesis or shoplifting.

*5 'The room' meaning the international net we call the interwebs. It's a big room, but there's a funky smell that pervades most of it. Sorry, that was me. Also, the elephant is looking smaller since November 4th.

Endorphins, Regret and Alcohol: The Justin Riley Story

*7 Bar rule: Anything that takes longer than five seconds to order is inefficient and lame.

*8 This is good unless I hear the phrase 'cowardly and superstitious lot' on the next album. Then it's

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Interweb Meme Of "On To You"

Respected yet pensive, biking-to-work public radio host John Moe started this with the prodding of Scott "I have a bitchin' podcast" Simpson.

Let's expand this series of tubes to let the world know "I'm On To You". Here's my contribution...

I'm on to you, guy wearing shorts on November 20th in Milwaukee.

I'm on to you, Henry Paulson.

I'm on to you, "The entire (insert name of comic book universe) will be changed forever!!!"

I'm on to you with a vengeance, out of state money to sway another state's civil rights laws.

And there's no way I couldn't be on to you, reduced size Cadbury Creme Eggs. My hunger found you out.

So, what are you on to? What or who isn't fooling you for a second. Leave your comments and I'll buy you a black and white cookie.*

* In honor of Barack Obama. No, not an Oreo, that's just wrong and mean. In honor of togetherness and unity and hope and change and cookies*2.

*2 Offer of cookie valid in Milwaukee, WI only. Sorry other 49 and D.C., I gots to look out for my peeps.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thank You, America

Just thanks.

Vote Like You Matter

They've called us fake. They've said we're apathetic. They've said that when we do care we're radical, or naive, or daydreamers. They've called us Anti-American. They have riddled the system with disincentives to participate. They have corrupted our process with rules designed to keep us out until we've become sufficiently beaten down to just accept what we're given, like kicked dogs at their feet.

Who is they? Well, it's them, most assuredly. But it's also us. We've been jaded, uninformed, distracted. We've almost let this country get so twisted and unrecognizable that it's beyond our ability to address what's wrong.

Today's the day to change that. Today is the day to use the most powerful voice we have, the collective outcry against what is wrong; the clarion call to stop killing in our name, stop rewarding vultures and opportunists. To stop the anti-thought that parades around as patriotism.

Today is the day to prove that we are paying attention. To prove that we know when we're being lied to and that we do not agree to keep taking it. Today is the day to say apathy is a luxury we don't have anymore, and that we've grown immune to the fear they've tried to cultivate in us. Today is the day to be better people and to demand that our leaders be better people too.

The world is watching, and they matter. We are not alone on this planet, and we cannot continue to pretend otherwise. We need to be an example to those who need one, and a humble adherent to the best ideas and positive spirit put forth from all areas of the world.

Today is the day to show that we care about us, and we care about them, too.

So go vote already.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Manual of Detection - Jedediah Berry

Star detective Travis T. Sivart is missing. More Phillip Marlowe than Sherlock Holmes, Sivart has been responsible for unraveling the strange crimes of arch-villain, and master of disguise, Enoch Hoffman, ever since Hoffman and his Travels-No-More Carnival occupied the outskirts of the city. Now, with Sivart having disappeared, the city is sliding into chaos; citizens are trapped in fugue states and engaging in strange behavior; signs that Hoffman is making a play for control of more than just the ragged big top under his purview abound. Enter Charles Unwin; a lowly clerk in the employ of The Agency, the solvers of mystery and protectors of the public good. Unwin is, if not happy, then at least content to be the chronicler of Sivart’s cases; collating facts and compiling the exploits of derring-do that Unwin admired but never wanted to experience. Improbably, Unwin is whisked into the world of sensible hats and shoulder holsters in Sivart’s stead, given nothing more than the seventeen slim chapters that serve as the book’s title to go about finding his famed predecessor.

But even that resource is thrown into question, as a strange dream encounter with Sivart reveals the existence of an eighteenth chapter excised for field operatives. Unwin sets out reluctantly to find Sivart in the hopes of everything going back to normal, armed only with a head for detail and a sleepy secretary in love with the life of a detective. Normal falls by the wayside early on, as Unwin proceeds to uncover the actual status quo in the city; a strange balance between falsely resolved mystery and hidden connections whose exposure throws the work of both The Agency and The Carnival into question.

Most appreciated about The Manual of Detection is that, though it is a strange world we’re dropped into, there is no overt attempt to beat us over the head with explanatory exposition. The city is totally noir, phonographs are still en vogue, a giant steam-powered truck serves as conveyance for dead-eyed henchmen, and the gin joint next to the cemetery is the place to ask your questions. The standard detective story archetypes are well-represented but smartly tweaked adding a layer of the fantastic that enhances the story without hijacking the tone.

Jedediah Berry’s first full-length novel is wonderful. With boundless imagination and razor keen characterization, he has delivered a smart, fun story that appeals to the mystery lover and the magical realist fan all at once. The Manual of Detection is strange without being silly; intricate without being minutia-laden; whimsical while still keeping the reader riding the secret subway and plumbing the depths of the hidden catacombs in an attempt to stay one step ahead of gunmen and deranged puppet masters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

God, Please Help The GOP Win, Or People Will Think You're Soft On Heathens

Okay, this right here is a great example of intolerant thinking from the supposed turn-the-other-cheekers who believe in God's plan (until it looks like their guy isn't part of it this time around).

It's your standard 'Jesus, help my chosen candidate' speech until about 55 seconds in, and then it gets fun. Aside from name checking a previously unknown god named Hindu, Pastor Arnold Conrad presumes to tell God that if McCain doesn't win, He's going to look like a real wimp compared to all those unclean Muslims and Buddhists (and adherents of the god Hindu). I'm guessing that this guy's god, you know, God, might be a little miffed at being subject to 'prayer pressure'.

A Cheap Laugh?

"Let's see. J-O...uh, I mean G-E-O......Man, this is tough. My name's not 'Gorge', why would it start with a G? Hey, Laura? Where's my letterhead......need a bit of a 'cheat sheet', heh.*

* Yeah, I know this picture is from the bailout signing, and that happened a while back, but it could be from any time Dubya signed a bill. From what I hear, he gets flustered whenever he can't find his Crayola box. You know, the one with the built in sharpener. That thing is sweet.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Neil Riley Explains It All*

While reading a nursing book to my four year old son (don't ask), he came up with a description for a calf nursing that would have made a much more entertaining book.

"The calf is drinking in the gutter."

I explained that the word he was looking for was udder. I like his version better.

* Yeah, I'm posting cute things my kid says. Wanna fight?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

When I Get Bored At Work, The Interweb Wins

Your Superpower Should Be Manipulating Fire

You are intense, internally driven, and passionate.

Your emotions are unpredictable - and they often get the better of you.

Both radiant and terrifying, people are drawn to you.

At your most powerful, you feel like the world belongs to you.

Why you would be a good superhero: You are obsessive enough to give it your all

Your biggest problem as a superhero: Your moodiness would make it difficult to control your powers

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Left Wing Is Showing

I spend a lot of time here on this blog fucking around; mocking stupid people (conservative ideologues), referencing pop culture (mostly older pop culture because my development is at best 'arrested'), and posting pictures with (hopefully) funny captions. Right now, I'm going to switch gears and just argue for progress by asking and answering questions. As you can glean from my postings here, I'm 'PrObama', but I'm sure my view of progress is a bit left of his.

Q: Why is it anyone's business what a woman does in relation to her own body?

A: It's not. The only people who can't seem to get around this are moralists. The primary (and maybe only) objection raised against a woman choosing to have an abortion is a moral repugnance for the 'destruction of a sacred gift from God'. Here's the problem; not everyone believes in God (not everyone who does believe in God believes in the same God). Luckily, those slave-owning, laudanum-drinking, pistol-dueling, largely God-fearing founding fathers of ours here in America recognized that enforcement of religious principles was not a job for a federal government to undertake.

Taking the religious focus off of the issue, what's left? A distaste for weakness, poor choices, lack of self control? None of these reasons are good enough to prohibit a person from making a choice for herself. I don't think abortion is good, but I don't think it's murder either. To my mind, abortion is a medical procedure chosen to change the status of your health. It's not good or bad, it's augmenting your reproductive cycle. At the end of the day, abortion is tantamount to tubal ligation/vasectomy/sterilization/contraception.

All of these procedures are stopping reproduction (preventing a sacred gift from God), yet we largely accept them as okay. To the people who oppose abortion on moral grounds; do you oppose tubal ligation/vasectomy/sterilization/contraception as well? It's all or nothing. From what I know of the fundamentalist God, there's no wiggle room in His law. So, for the non-fundamentalist believers (who accept contraception); why outlaw abortion? Is it because of a moralist streak that says "You can't take an easy way out." or "You were irresponsible, deal with it."? Abortion isn't easy, fun, or entirely safe in even the most optimal conditions. Bad things can happen to your body as a result. It is not undertaken lightly.

Judging a woman for having an abortion (while perfectly within your rights as a thinking human being) is your business, not the business of a secular body we elect to keep the economy robust, the streets safe and the infrastructure from crumbling. Don't think that enforcing your morals on our mothers, sisters, and daughters is anything other than condescending and simplistic. Forcing a woman to have a child she does not want is just as bad as keeping a woman from having a child that she does.

Q: When should we attack other sovereign countries?

A: When they attack us. When they attack our allies and we are asked for help.

Not when a faction attacks us. Can you really hold the innocent citizens of a country responsible for the actions of a fringe within their borders?

Not when a cabal attacks us. Most organizations devoted to terrorism are pan-state, pan-global. What if Osama Bin Laden was a dissident Saudi living in Canada? Bomb the canucks? Nope. We'd work with the Prime Minister to root him out and prosecute him. Granted, a sympathetic government hampers our effort, but we have plenty of economic leverage to cut them off if they don't produce results. Instead, we continue to prop up 'smile to our face' regimes like Pakistan with tons of money and weapons.

Not when we want their natural resources. While oil may not have been the only incentive to topple Saddam Hussein, you can't deny that it was a factor in the decision. The mere appearance of impropriety hurts any action we take on the world stage. I guess it was just a 'happy coincidence' that Iraqi oil production is now being 'facilitated' by Exxon Mobil (among others).

Not when we disapprove of their governance. We don't like a leader, let's let the people of the country know that. It's that old 'hearts and minds' strategy. Turns out it works better if we don't drop bombs before we drop leaflets. If people find their situation untenable, they will let us know by overthrowing the leadership. It's called a popular revolt because it is popular, because it comes from the populace.

Not when there is a business stake involved. The old convention is that war boosts an economy. That may have been true in the 1940s, but things have changed. Upon entry into World War II, the U.S. experienced a boom in military industry to meet demand. The non-military sector provided jobs to women who took the place of enlisted men. That's awesome, but not a reason to wage war. We cannot use possible prosperity as a cover for killing people. Nowadays, the military-industrial complex is firmly entrenched and has been for decades. They make weapons whether we use them or not. A military excursion surely adds some jobs to the assembly line, but those are finite jobs with an expiration date (unless you want to be in Iraq for 100 years, Senator).

Not when they harbor people we don't like. Once again; this reasoning is faulty the second an 'ally' harbors someone we don't like. Do we bomb Saudi Arabia because 14 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from there? No. Why? Because we want an alliance with Saudi Arabia, and more importantly, because we don't hold the people of Saudi Arabia responsible for the actions of 14 of their countrymen.

Not when we think they want to attack us or our allies. This one's tricky. Say you knew that Iran was sending a nuclear missile to wipe out Israel. You knew it. How do you know it? Because intelligence says so. Well, intelligence says a lot of things. It said there were WMDs in Iraq. It said that the people of Iraq would welcome us as liberators. It said that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were ideological allies pre-U.S. invasion. How many of those assertions have proven to be true. None. Intelligence is spotty, subjective, and open to interpretation (and manipulation). Knowing something will happen means next to nothing in any way other than preparation for possibility. If there was more done to prepare for plane hijacking and suicide bombing (which we thought were possibilities) we would have been better off seven years ago. If we think we're in danger, we need to strengthen our defense and make ourselves a less attractive target. If someone writes me a death threat, do I hunt them down and kill them first? Am I justified? No.

Q: Who is harmed by gay marriage?

A: No one. Does the prospect of two men or two women getting married do anything to harm our economy, safety or standing in the world? No. I would like just one reason other than 'my god doesn't like it' to be proposed as an objection to same-sex marriage. I am talking about the civil partneship of marriage, not the church service. Just like the church shouldn't dictate law, the law shouldn't force churches to perform same-sex marriage services. No one is aking for that. What progressives want is the equal protection under the law that we afford to any minority group in this country.

If a church has objection to any marriage, they don't have to perform a service, and this would be no different. If your faith is strong, and you believe that God disapproves of the lives people live, let Him sort it out on Judgment Day. It is certainly the right of all thinking people to have an opinion, and to voice that opinion. Decry homosexuality, preach against it, try to convince gays and lesbians that they're on the wrong path all you like; that's free speech.

What is being demanded is that if you love someone and you care for their well-being, and you are their advocate and their partner in life, you should be recognized as such. There is no legal reason that a consenting adult should be told who gets to fill the role of spouse for him or her. There is no legal reason for a man to not be able to make healthcare decisions for his male partner. There is no legal reason for a woman to not be able to share her finances with her female partner. Government is here to legislate safety, not morality.

Marriage in a church and marriage in the eyes of the law are two different things. Just try getting married in a church without a marriage license from your state and see how well it's recognized. A church service and a binding legal union are not the same, and we need to stop acting like they are.

Q: What is the responsibility of the rich?

A: There are plenty who don't believe that the rich have any responsibility to society. I'm not one of them. Every member of this society is a piece of a whole. To that end, success is not attained in a vaccuum. Those who profit from a system of laws and incentives set out by the government (acting on the will, and in the interest of the people) have a reponsibility to ensure the health of that system. You've got your millions, now help out those who made them for you. Help out the working poor and middle class that buy your product/staff your industry/keep you safe/entertain you/pave your roads/build your toys. We are not invisible or inconsequential to the process of wealth attainment.

What do I mean? I mean that if you are so far above a median standard of quality of life, you have a reponsibility to improve the lot of those around you. This is a moral argument. I am not suggesting that this moral argument be the basis for law or taxation. It is an appeal to the humanity of captains of industry.

Though the moral argument should be compelling enough for anyone with a shred of honor and dignity, there are other arguments. The pragmatic argument is this; if you do not support those underneath you, you will collapse. If there isn't enough money on the bottom of your pyramid, no one can afford your service or buy your product. This leads to a decline in business and a loss of profit. It's a simple equation; supply minus demand (or ability to express demand) equals overstock. Overstock in this case is unused service and unpurchased product. What happens to overstock? It's value is decreased and it's price is marked down.

Still not ready to live without that extra private jet, moneybags? Let's inject government's role into this equation. While there is no moral obligation to legislating wealth distribution (because morality and the law should not be intertwined, as argued earlier), and it's not the government's job to make your industry profitable (because it is for the people and not the corporation), it is government's job to increase the quality of life for its citizens, and to guard their safety. How does government in a capatalist society achieve it's aims? Taxes. They're not popular with anyone, but show me a better way to raise money in a civil society. Want better roads, better schools, better crime prevention and response? Taxes pay for that. We can't leave it to private industry to raise that money. Private industry has no stake in helping anyone (unless they have a conscience, and group conscience is an impossibility among people trying to make money).

Taxes are the pulling of resource away from a sector of society to increase the well-being of society as a whole. We can not have the same tax scheme for everyone. Twenty percent of my income (about $23,000 a year for a family of four; surprise I'm the working poor) amounts to $4,600. You will not be feeding many people, fixing many roads, educating many kids on that. Twenty percent of a family of four who makes even $1 million is $200,000. Having $800,000 a year to spend on home, food, entertainment and luxury seems adequate from where I'm standing. Equal taxation is ignoring the reality of who props up the economy. I'm not saying we take money from rich people and put it in the bank accounts of poor and middle class people. I'm saying we take money from rich people and improve the function of the country for all of the people rich, poor, and otherwise. As far as business taxation, I find it hard to cry for an oil company making record profits and gouging people at the gas pumps with the highest prices in history. Is taxing the rich and multinational corporations more fair? Yes. It's not equal, but it is fair to make sure the money that is pumped into American businesses by Americans ends up helping Americans.

Q: Why can't we just kill all of our violent criminals?

A: Because they aren't all guilty. It's been argued that capital punishment is necessary for heinous crimes. We must send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated and we must punish those engaging in it with the ultimate judgment (which, for the true believers in God's plan, is an affront to his infinite judgment). Except, we can't ever be sure that a person is actually guilty. It's been shown too many times that 'evidence' is totally fallible. Confessions can be coerced, physical evidence can be mishandled or ignored, and eyewitnesses can be wrong. If we can't be 100% sure of guilt, how can we be willing to kill someone in the interests of 'justice'?

There are some moral arguments against the death penalty (and if you're concerned with the sanctity of life, you'd better be making them), and there are some pragmatic ones as well. Morally (which is not the standard for law), killing someone in retribution is largely viewed as wrong. When we talk about justice, what we really mean is vengeance. Someone has to pay for what has happened. Killing a convicted murderer does not enact justice. Justice evaporated when murder was comitted the first time (and that's something to take up with your deity or your neighborhood in any case). The death penalty has been shown to be inappropriately weighted by issues of the race and the economic status of the offender. If you apply a standard disproportionately, it is not a standard. Either all murderers deserve the death penalty, or none of them do. Mitigating factors in a case should determine the charge, not the penalty.

On the pragmatic side, we have the information that execution and the appeals process that (rightfully) precedes it is more costly to pursue than life imprisonment. We also have the information that it is possible for criminals to actually contribute to society after committing crimes (gasp!). A man imprisoned for bad choices is a much better teacher than a corpse rotting silently.

Q: Why is government so prone to corruption?

A: Money. It's evident that the money to be made by skirting existing law, enacting bad law, and assisting private enterprise has corrupted our system. There's a lot of change that needs to happen, but I'd suggest one thing first; reduce pay to the legislative and executive branches of government. These people who we elect are put into a tax bracket that divides them from the problems faced by their constituency. The disconnect between politicians and everyone else is caused by the fact that they (the politicians) are doing well by virtue of their title. They are paid substantially more than their employers (the rest of us), and they don't have to deal with the same problems we do. It seems to take the edge off of any crisis we the people face when they don't face it as well (aside from the threat of losing their job in four or six years). Maybe if being a representative, senator, or president was less financially rewarding, we would have people aspiring to the job for purer reasons. If it is less attractive, maybe we will see people who want to be there for the right reasons assume those roles more often.

In this vein of thinking, it is unconscionable and should shame every one of our elected leadership that they receive the best health care available while so many of the people in this country go without. They want for nothing, and increasingly cannot fathom what we want.

Q: Why shouldn't I be able to own a rocket launcher?

A: Because you don't need one. This goes for assault rifles and fully automatic handguns, too. When the United States Constitution included the provision for a citizen to keep and bear arms in a well-regulated militia, well-regulated militias were all that stood between us and re-colonization. People lived in remote areas, with no overseeing military or police force to aid them if King George came knocking. The spirit of the second amendment was one of asking every citizen to defend what was a burgeoning nation, and giving them the latitude to do that. We will not be invaded tomorrow, and if someone tries, I'm confident that our military and civil defense forces can handle the job.

The government does have a responsibility to limit your danger to public safety. The fact that guns in a private home are more often used to hurt those within the home than anyone from outside of it is very real. I guess if you want to endanger your family by keeping a revolver in your home for 'protection', it's up to you. However, if you plan on using an assault rifle to shoot that burglar, be aware that all those rounds you squeeze off go through walls, ceilings, and floors, too. Perhaps an alarm would do more to overtly ward off any possible threat (and no one dies!).

As far as the notion that having a gun in your home keeps the government in check, I would beg to differ. If the government decides that you, gun guy or girl, are a threat, they will not abduct you in the middle of the night. They will issue a warrant for your arrest, and then multiple gun-toting police officers or federal agents will have you either way, dead or alive. The real balance on a government's power is the participation in that government on the civil level. The only threat they respond to from you is the threat to remove them from office. You cannot win a gunfight with the U.S. Army or the ATF. Of course, the current administration wants you to have your guns. They want you to feel protected from imagined threats; whatever it takes to keep you from asking questions about policy and legislation.

I'm done showing my left wing for now. Feel free to applaud or vomit as the spirit moves you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Skeletor: Political Pundit

Hello, America. I am Skeletor. Rightful Lord of Eternia and fighter for freedom against Prince Adam and his repressive regime. I’ve been told that my adventures have been serialized in television and comic book form as He-Man and The Masters of the Universe. What a television is, I do not know. Justin has graciously allowed me to pontificate on his ‘log’ today to address a topic vital to your national prosperity*.

It’s a what? Blog? B-L-O-G? What the shit is a blog?

Mmhmm…….ah……hmmm……really? Web log? Is that like what Webstor uses to sneak into Castle Grayskull? No? Ummm, help me out here. Internet? Magic images and words flying into boxes using electricity? What’s electricity? Is that like a torch? Never mind. It’s beside the point!

"Web log? Nope. Just webs. I can web a log if you'd like, my lord."

No, I’m not being stubborn! You’re being stubborn! Fine! Whatever! Magic boxes filled with ideas and opinions. Sounds great. I didn’t know how people all over the world could read a stump, but now I see what I did there. Aaaanyway.

I have it on good authority; namely intelligence gathered from the ‘enhanced interrogation’ of Man-At-Arms, that one of the humans seeking to become your leader, John McCain, is having difficulty picking a running mate. I know; he chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She’s conservative, she’s tough on community organizers*2, she’s got an ever-expanding brood, she’s a slam run, right? Home dunk? Forgive me, I don’t follow your various ball games. Either way, Palin is a strong choice. Or is she?!

"Guantana-what? Where's my lawyer?"

Personally, I don’t get the whole running mate thing in the first place. Who wants someone else in the room when they make the peasants do ‘the sexy dance’ for a flagon of water? That’s personal. But, it’s your screwed up system, I’m just here to tell you how to think.

Palin. The name sounds good. Pale. Pale is good. Pale is like white, and we all know that only white people will be voting in the election. Take it further; ‘pailin’, as in pailin’ some water to dunk dissident faces into. On the other hand you’ve got Biden. Biden sounds like ‘bidin’’. Biding your time until you can raise taxes! Zing! Take that tax-ocrats! Or maybe it’s more like ‘biting’. Biting the multinational corporate hands that feed you! Who wants a Vice President who won’t play ball games with big interests. They call them interests because they’re interesting! Don’t bite them!

By the way, I know some of you have marveled at Palin’s previous comments wondering what a Vice President does all day. Give her a break; do you know?! I know I didn’t know until I thought about it as a known unknown and then I knew*3. Vice President is the President of Vice. The President of Evil. Just look at the current Vice President if you doubt me. Dick Cheney wages wars to pad his wallet and secure the distribution rights to oil from a region that keeps this country embroiled in ethnic and cultural battles that have been going on for generations and show little sign of stopping. Beautiful. He orchestrates the outing of an intelligence official for being married to a critic of his war efforts. Nice! He shot an old man in the face! What more could you ask for*4! That’s some good Vice Presidenting right there!

Now, Evil-Lyn aside, I’m not a big fan of women in government. In fact, keep this on the QT but, she used to be a dude. She was known as Jerkus. True story. But, she’s an evil sorceress, so what can you do? If she wasn’t a part of my ruling cabinet, she’d probably cause ‘little Skeletor’ to fall off or something. You people have decided to let women participate in your government, so you’ve got your rope; just don’t hang yourself with it when they nag. Am I right, fellas? Heh.

"'Little Skeletor' is right."

Playful misogyny, what a wonderful thing. Now, down to brass tacks. Sarah Palin seems like a good choice, but there are many others to choose from when her scandals force her to ‘voluntarily’ remove herself from the ticket*5.

1) Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum

He’s got name recognition among the kids.

"I am Santorum."

2) Current Vice President Dick Cheney

Bet you didn’t know there isn’t a two-term limit for Vice President! Ha! Keep the dream alive, Dick!

"I wanna crush some bunnies!"

3) Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

He knows how to go to war, and you just know he’s chomping at the bit to ‘regime change’ the fuck out of some Eternians...uh I meant Iranians.

"Why isn't your skull exploding?!"

4) Political columnist and author Ann Coulter

Yeah, she’s a woman, but the Evil-Lyn exception applies to her on the

basis of the voodoo powers she exhibits by continually finding a publisher for her increasingly entertaining neocon screeds.

"If you read each one of my books, you'll get progressively dumber. It's called 'preparation for the next Ann Coulter book'."

5) Beast Man

He may be an incompetent ninny, but he knows how to toe the conservative line better than Joe Lieberman. Also, he’s a member of the key ‘orange ape-man’ demographic. With him on the ticket, you will win every state in the union that has a tropical jungle area.

"Orange ape-men love forced democracy!"

So, there you have it. My suggestions for a McCain VP. You may ask yourself, or me, ‘Why no Karl Rove?’ Simple. He’s advising my campaign and you can’t have him. This is Skeletor, signing off.

The opinions of Skeletor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Name Escapes Me.

* In fact, the graciousness of his allowance had more to do with the sleeping gas emitted by Kobra Khan, the snake man.

"Just let it happen, Riley."

*2 Eat it, people trying to help other people!

*3 Did somebody say “Poet Laureate”?

*4 Keep in mind, puppy kicking is impossible for a man with balls as big as Cheney’s.

*5 Let’s face it; Palin’s got more baggage than a Polygamist Mormon family on vacation.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Just A Regular Guy Who Wants To Be Your Prez

So, John McCain doesn't want to admit to owning seven houses*. Why? Oh, maybe because it plays against his strategy of appearing down-to-Earth, poor white male-friendly, and anti-intellectual. Anti-intellectual? Yep.

Here's a statement from McCain's advisor, Brian "Don't Call Me Mr." Rogers*2.

"In terms of who's an elitist, I think people have made a judgment that John McCain is not an arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-type based on his life story."

So, because he doesn't eat arugula and he isn't a 'professor-type', John McCain is better suited than Barack Obama to be president? I don't know about anyone else, but after eight years of the Bush presi-duncy (genuine stupidity) and eight years of the Clinton Shucks-idency (feigned stupidity; which is actually a little more galling in retrospect), I'd find a professorial tone in the White House a breath of fresh air. As far as 'pointy headed', I'm not sure McCain touting physical characteristics as important will work out too well. The man's essentially a corpse*3.



"HUH?! WHA?! Bomb 'em!"

Here's the thing; much as I don't care who each candidate prays to, I also don't care how many houses they have. Or if they hang out in Hawaii. Or if they eat yucky vegetables. There is no way for a politician to pretend that they're not rich. In my four-person household, 100k a year would seem like filthy richitude. No candidate is going to be able to convince me that they're personally in touch with my financial situation. That point is moot.

Protein from green vegetables helps the body function at peak efficiency.

What is relevant is how these men have interacted with the poor/working poor. Obama? Got out of school and worked with poor people (maybe actually breathed the same air!). McCain? Got out of school and dropped bombs on them. I don't think most of those North Vietnamese villagers cared one way or another about a Cold War. They were probably more concerned with napalm obliterating their houses, crops and families. I might be wrong.

Granted, Obama was never heroically captured and tortured. G.I. John has definitely got him beat in that category. I know I'd like my leadership to have deep psychological scars that informed his outlook on foreign relations. Wouldn't you? That kind of snark might be out of bounds if McCain's camp didn't keep bringing his torture up as a mark of 'normal guy' status. Witness...

"This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison,"; also Rogers.

So, once again, to clarify; being tortured as a POW makes you a better leader. Sorry, but until the entire country is held prisoner in Southeast Asia, I don't see the experience gained as being germane. McCain does get 'tough guy points' though. However, he loses them just as fast for toeing the line with the Bush administration's 'enhanced interrogation' euphemisms*4.

What do I look for in a leader? Smarts. I don't want a 'regular guy' in the White House. I want a fucking superhero! I want somebody smarter than me with more genuine compassion than I have. If our president is normal (or in the case of Bush Part 2 sub-normal) in these areas, what's the point? Elected office should be something aspired to and hard to attain. 'Normal guys' don't have what it takes, and that's exactly the point. Now, before anyone screams "Elitist!", let's ask a real question with a real answer. Don't we want the 'elite' to represent our country to the rest of the world? I don't mean the monetarily elite (who I'd suggest are better called 'the assholes' in most cases), or the familial elite (there's a reason we broke from a hereditary system*5), or even the ideological elite (surely an entirely subjective status; some 'reg'lar Amurkans' would consider the Fox News stable to be ideologically elite). When I say elite, I mean it in the true sense of the word; better at their job than everybody else.

Sure, you could make the case that plenty of evil people are elite by that definition. That's the rub. That's the choice. Pick the ones who aren't actively engaged in evil. What's evil? Enforcing your morals on others is one of my definitions (and certainly, enforcing them with 'Democracy bombs' qualifies). Another definition of evil is advocating for the 'haves' from a bully pulpit. These people/corporations don't need any help; they're bleeding us dry just fine, thanks.

Evil is ignorance given power. Ignorance is not stupidity. Stupidity is impossible to overcome, and therefore just something to be pitied. Ignorance is a choice to continue not knowing. Not knowing how the world works; not knowing how to argue your ideas without a superpower's military to back you up; not knowing enough to see that your policies are hurting people unneccesarily (here and overseas); not knowing how many houses you have because you do know, but a part of you feels shameful for it when there are still people starving and dying all over the world; not knowing the value of the environment (and I don't mean the price of oil); not knowing how to be a human being with the best interests of us all in mind (plenty of politicians know how to be an American; congratulations, but that's not going to be enough if you want to keep the planet sane enough to inhabit).

To summarize:

- A good president needs intelligence (perhaps even 'professor-type' levels)

He went on to earn his law degree from Harvard in 1991, where he became the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. Soon after, he returned to Chicago to practice as a civil rights lawyer and teach constitutional law.

- A good president needs compassion (that doesn't end at their eyeline)

Speaking at Murrells Inlet VFW Hall in South Carolina, McCain was asked when he thought the US Military might "send an air mail message to Tehran."

"McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song," the Georgetown Times reports.

"'Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,' he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann," the paper notes.

- A good president needs to not be evil (hard to find when evil parades as patriotism)

The AP reported yesterday that U.S. exports to Iran “grew more than tenfold during President Bush’s years in office.” When a reporter informed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of the story, noting that “America sent more cigarettes to Iran…than any other products,” McCain said, “Maybe thats a way of killing them.” After being poked in the back by his wife, McCain quickly added, “I meant that as a joke!” — presumably one similar to his bomb Iran “joke.”

Some reporters dismissed McCain’s new Iran “joke,” suggesting that it is perhaps just part of his “regular guy” persona, an endearing quality for a man running for an office that commands the world’s strongest and most advanced military:

NBC’s Chuck Todd: “That’s what makes him real and that’s what makes people who disagree with him say ‘ah, you know what? The guy seems like any guy you’d want to have around the dinner table or the bar stool.’”

CNN’s Jessica Yellin: “People who love him think his a maverick and think he’s a real guy who makes a joke off the cuff just like real people do [but] we’re all waiting to see if something explodes, this kind of comment doesn’t.”

- A good president needs to know (his people's problems, his world's realities, which countries border which)

Senator John McCain has spent the week trying to tell people that he feels their economic pain. So it was more than a little unhelpful when one of his top economic advisers was quoted Thursday as saying that the United States was only in a “mental recession” and that it had become a “nation of whiners.”

Although McCain insists he is no George W. Bush, his campaign is stacked with advisers who played key roles in shaping the Bush administration's Middle East policies, including the disastrous plan to launch a preemptive strike against Iraq that has cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion, resulted in the deaths of more than 4,000 US soldiers, and hundreds of thousands Iraqi civilians.

With these hardcore neoconservatives now directing McCain's foreign policy there is every reason to believe that a McCain administration would continue to try its goal of implementing a Pax Americana in the Middle East through preemptive military action.

Asked by Diane Sawyer whether the "the situation in Afghanistan in precarious and urgent," McCain responded: "I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border."

But as ABC's Rick Klein noted: "Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do."

- A good president nee-


Oh no, it's Mummy Reagan!!! RRRUUUUUNNNNN!!!

* Seven is a spiritual number, JoMac. Just tell the bible-suckers you wanted to be closer to Jeebus and they'll understand.

*2 The ghost of Mr. Rogers also asks that you don't call Brian Rogers 'Mr. Rogers', because he doesn't want to be associated with a douche bag posthumously.
Mr. Rogers

Brian Rogers

*3 I hear that Joe "Eeyore" Lieberman's official cabinet position in a McCain presidency would be Secretary of Continued Vertical Positioning.
McCain: "You've been very supportive of me, Joe. I thank you."
Lieberman: "No need, old chum. It's been a tremendous workout. Now I don't have to learn what a 'pilates' is."

*4 If I beat and rob someone, can I call it 'enhanced personal fundraising'?

*5 Or at least
pretended we did. Even back to the Adams boys, it's still been all in the family in American politics. No offense to Ted, but some of those damn Kennedys are dumber than a box of rocks and occupy positions above their competence because 'good Catholics' create dynasties to rival the pharaohs. Don't tell Mummy Reagan.