Category: Politics


(Posted at 35,000 feet on an airplane! Whee!)

The movie “Fight Club” features a concept of the “Single Serving Friend.” On an airplane everything comes in Single Servings. Alcohol comes in little bottles; chips come in small bags; even the cutlery if you’re in first class is small.

Thanks to having a lot of miles of late (Two Cupertino trips Plus a first class trip to Seattle) I was able to upgrade my business trip back to Cupertino this week for miles alone. Traveling in First Class has its pluses and minuses. First class now a days means traveling with the 2nd .5%. And then the top 10% of the 99%. The top 10 of the 99% are cool. They know how much work and effort, it takes to get those upgrades. But the 2nd .5%… they are the scary ones.

These are the obviously wealthy, but not ludicrously wealthy. There is a gaudiness to the Swagger, Suit, Jewelry or attitude. Waiting on line to board I got to see one of these folk in action. In the city I often play a game I call “B or B” which stands for “Bluetooth or Bonkers.” Is the person talking to themselves or on a Bluetooth headset. The woman who wandered up to where we were queuing was not merely on a Bluetooth headset, but ranting at some poor invisible person like she was Bonkers. She was yelling to the person how even if she didn’t make her connection they would get her another plane. That there was no way she was missing this flight and there was no argument on this.

As she bickered with the luggage size limitation sign (as that’s where her eyes focused as she argued) she began inching closer to the front of the line. I was queued 3rd behind a very nice couple. I had my suit coat over one arm, I have a very nice red button down business shirt, and was waring my work back pack carrying my techno-stuff. When they called pre-boarding for small children and people needing assistance, she started to move forward and then seemed greatly put off that others were being boarded before her.

They then called first class and she moved in. “That’s alright we’re just queued here already,” I said in my standard Airport British Accent. When I don’t want to deal with people after they’ve been an ass in public, I put on a British accent. It really doesn’t accomplish anything; I think it’s merely a security blanket. Nonetheless, ignoring me and the nice couple she pushed in. Unfortunately, my backpack was there and she walked directly into it. She let out an unpleased oof, mixed with a sound that can only be described as the threat of an unwanted mastectomy. I of course as politely as possible turned about and said, “Oh dear, are you okay.” She was very angry. This was stunning as I actually hadn’t tried to get in her way, she just felt the need to be past me whether I was there or not.

As I looked down at her boarding pass I muttered, “Oh crap.” The nice couple said, “It wasn’t your fault. I wouldn’t worry about it.” I remarked, “No, I just saw her boarding pass, she’s sitting next to me for the next 4 hours..” “You’re the stronger person, I think you’ll survive.” (Mentally, I had an image of a Disco Ball crashing on the person’s head)

I got onto the plane and stood at my aisle seat. The woman looked at me and I said, “It looks like we’ll be sitting together then.” With a bit of venom she responded, “Well, obviously we’ve already gotten to know each other.”

Since then; not a word has passed between us. This is not surprising.

(You know, you really can’t write this stuff without living it.)

I traced this from the web by hand.
The purpose of this is:

To bring back both a Thief, and the Goods which be stolen;
and to discover all Wickedness, and Underhand Dealing;
and to punish all Thieves and other Wicked People
and also to discover Treasures that be Hid

Tonight I sleep waiting to hear The Jury’s decision on our case. My hope is that they believe above all else, the truth.

If you wish to lend your energy, please copy or repost this image and hold it with you until we hear the news.

Thanks.

It is shortly after midnight on what is now the morning of Wednesday, October 13th, 2010. As usual, I’m not tired. If I go upstairs now, I will find myself playing either Minesweeper or Sudoku to tire myself out.

A one-night fling from years and years ago appears in my IM (Damn, I never discard anything) I haven’t shared words with her pretty much since that one night. I contemplate saying hello. I type into the IM window:

‘I would say, “hello.” But I don’t know if it was garner a response. And honestly I don’t know to what purpose it would serve starting a conversation.’

I don’t get more than a few characters into the word honestly; contemplate the rest of my sentence; and then discard the text and close the window.

It’s another one of those nights where I’ve been looking at legal proceedings between large companies and individuals. I’ve been reading how laws have been very carefully designed to protect the large companies from the individuals. I’m saddened by how few laws protect the individual.

This always leads me back to the pipe dream of going to Law School. This is of course pardoning the irony that Law School itself is one giant corporate machine masked in higher education and the only people that really succeed at it are the ones willing to get into bed with the large companies that are destroying the individual one-by-one.

Of course there’s also the personal limitation that to get into Law School they expect you to at least have a Bachelor’s degree, which to this day I am still blissfully missing. I wish that Education and I hadn’t had such a hate-hate relationship when I was in my 20s. I see the point now. I’m also pleased that both fields I studied in then have a more solid grounding for people with degrees now.

In college I studied two disciplines (more than any other) Theatre and Computer Science. My Theatre department was wonderful. Unfortunately, like many small colleges it was also very incestuous and driven to powerful cliques. I of course was a social ignoramus, so I fell out of the clique fairly quickly. There were also so many specific topics that I did not excel in that made me feel inferior in the department. My costuming and makeup work was second to last to none. Also, there really wasn’t a large call for Degrees in theatre in the real world. Granted, in college I also discovered that I really didn’t have the chops to pursue Theatre professionally.

I discovered that the performing arts (as well as other media) is a very cutthroat field where the manufacture of your business self often supersedes your professional self. It’s more important how you sell yourself than what you’re selling. (Art isn’t easy) And with that dripping level of cynicism by age 22, I knew I didn’t want to wait tables.

My other field was computer science. At my college this degree was an absolute mess. The chair of the department (who rumour has it has since been incarcerated) was an absolute egotistical tyrant who taught classes by giving unsolvable problems to weed out anyone he felt was undeserving in the major. Which was everyone. He actually tried to charge me for his time when I asked him for some information on a topic I wanted to pursue on my own time. (Object oriented Pascal for the interested) I was shocked at his pretentiousness and went to the Provost. She told me that not a lot of people understand her job and that she was pleased I came to speak with her. She explained that her job was to remind the tenured faculty that they were in fact mortal. The department chair wanted nothing to do with me from there.

So, with one major filled with people that I didn’t get along with terribly well (including my Theatrical advisor who told me to my face that he considered me his greatest academic failure) working towards a degree that would only help me if I wanted to pursue Dramaturgy, publishing or teaching in college, on one hand; on the other a major that was downright hostile to me because it was busy teaching the chairs pet classes that were antiquated to say the least (VAX/VMS and no compiler design classes)… I dropped out.

Amazingly in less than 5 years I would go from Welfare to a position as a software architect at a Major University.

In those 5 years I did try to return to college; I went to community college to prove I could pass a class with something higher than a C. I then went to the local university in my hometown. (Yeah, that narrows it down)… Actually I went to the Dramatic conservatory in the city first and auditioned for their directing program and got top recommendation yet wait-listed. Which is a story that could fill another huge post. The local university took me as a student in my vain hopes to complete my CS degree. Within 1.5 years I was hired on because of the information I’d specialized in on my own time.

It’s now been 15 years since that University hired me. That doesn’t count the 5-7 years of odd work I did with computers before getting hired on. Co-workers in my company often refer to me as the Sr. Guru. I appreciate that. I’ve spent a long time not just studying the technology I work in, but the company that makes it. Its business practices as well as its technology practices. I’d work for them someday; but I’ve actually come to like the idea of settling in Pittsburgh.

But despite that… no BS. I guess just a lot of BS that really wasn’t BS after awhile. And despite this, I have the AUDACITY to believe I could go to Law school, especially now that I have a family and am the primary income source. And my reason? The vain hope to help legislate to help people. This unto itself is very funny for someone who was more interested in doing theatre than the job of selling oneself. Which seems to be all that legislators are really interested in.

We’re nearing election time. You can tell this because the “them vs. us” attitude is at an all-time high. Once again issues dissolve away into spin about how, “THEIR SIDE IS EEEEEEEEEVUL” Well, let me assure you… Politicians are not EEEEEEEVUL. I’ve read “Fahrenheit-451” and “Liber Al vel Legis” Those books are EEEEEEEVUL. Why? Because they change you, they make you think, they make you better the more you take them into your life. The hypocrisy of elected officials who feel their job is to make you hate the other person more so that they can stalemate government long enough to make you hate again two years later. That’s not EEEEEEVUL. That’s not even evil… It’s just sad.

I have issues I truly believe in that come from issues championed on both sides of the aisle. By both sides I mean Democrats and Republicans. I will state that I do not believe in the current Republican Agenda which really seems to boil down to, “Vote the ticket” which of course is completely destructive to the Democrats which boil down to, “Vote with your heart”. Then there’s the tea party, which seems to boil down to, “Vote with your passion, because God decided to omit your brain.”

And all the while… the corporations take more and more away. There’s so little left. And so few who really want to change it… even fewer who actually have the power to do it.

It’s disheartening. Maybe enough for me to message someone I slept with one night years ago… Or at least get my mind churning in a direction that is better to afford sleep.

Law School, pipe dream or potential. *shrug*

Bedtime I guess.

-Night.

CPT Sampson Luke and FamilyI don’t talk about my blood family very often. I’m not just referring to online. My first cousin who is just a year younger than myself, lost her husband suddenly a little over a month ago. CPT Samson T. Luke was on a National Guard drill weekend. The family was notified that his death was an “active” status death. Two weeks later this was changed with no explanation to “inactive” death status. As a result much of the monetary, education, and health care, and funereal benefits are being denied that were previously promised. You can see more on this story from an excerpt of a CNN report.

CPT Luke leaves behind my cousin Miranda and their four children. This is an urgent matter as Miranda has been left fighting the DoD for the benefits promised rather than taking care of her family and trying to move on from this horrible tragedy. The Department of Defense is deciding if the family is eligible to receive benefits they had been promised and are entitled. If you feel moved to help  please cut and paste the letter below, dating and signing your name and address and mailing as quickly as possible as this is a time sensitive matter. Please feel free to distribute this letter to anyone that may want to help. Thank you advance for your support.

DATE
Dr. Robert Gates
U.S. Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington D.C. 20301

Dr. Gates,

I am writing on behalf of CPT Samson T. Luke’s family. CPT Luke passed away January 10, 2010 during a Arkansas National Guard drill weekend. His wife, Miranda, and their four children were told Sam’s death was an “active” status death. Two and a half weeks later CPT Luke’s status was inexplicably changed to an “inactive” death status. This action denies the family the monetary, education, health care benefits and funeral expenses that were promised.

CPT Luke was active duty Army and now in the National Guard for over a decade serving two times in Iraq. Sam’s family has supported Sam and the military throughout his career.
This family has been through so much. They deserve the proper consideration in this matter. Please return CPT Luke’s death status back to “active” and help this military widow provide for their four young children during this difficult time.

This situation is of the utmost concern to me and I would like be kept informed of the resolution of this matter. I can be reached at:

YOUR NAME
YOUR ADDRESS
AND/OR EMAIL

Sincerely,
SIGNATURE

I’m going to start today with a web site’s “Civility Pledge.” Towards the end I will circle back to my comments about the group site that created this pledge:

“As a member or guest of ***, I pledge to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful towards people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process”

The existence of the above pledge makes me absolutely sick. It thoroughly offends me that this pledge exists. Now, before every person I know grabs pitchfork and torch while trying to find out who scrambled my brains… allow me a clarification.

The pledge sickens me. Not the sentiment. The pledge sickens me because frankly it should NEVER be necessary to codify this sentiment into a pledge in relation to the governance of the USA. Americans are a nation of people founded on the concept that ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL. You may remember “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Admittedly, from a Thelemic philosophy, everyone has the right to hate, lie, disrespect, and manipulate.

The above pledge is from the new counter movement called the “Coffee Party.” I’ll talk specifically about the group later but first their raison d’être.

The group formed as a result of one Facebook member ranting about the current obstructionism in the government. Friends ranted, someone made a joke about the Tea Party… and then there was a ‘Coffee Party.’

I very specifically in a recent post said that I was not interested in discussing politics. Well, it’s been 24 hrs; I’ve had a bad day; and I haven’t come up with anything better from Formspring.

Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY)

Sen. Jim Bunning

The Bunn Ultimatum has come and gone. Bunning tried to suggest he’d filibuster (without the support of his party) and the opposition positioned itself to make him actually stand up and filibuster. In response he offered a solution that undermined something else the opposition was working on and inevitably ran and hid.

Current obstructionism. I have to highlight current because it’s the same obstructionism that’s been going on in our government on both sides for a very long time.

Now another comment to make you again wonder if I have suffered an ‘alien brain scramble.’ “I don’t want to be a Democrat.” (amaransezwha?) For what it’s worth, “I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO BE A REPUBLICAN.” I did. For a while I really was up for ‘fiscal conservatism’ and ‘Keeping government small and keeping the fed out of the state’s business.’ Which was great… until Trickle down economics didn’t. Which was great… until the Fed marched into Florida to help with their 2000 election mechanics.

The Coffee Party and I see eye to eye on one major topic. Finding a bipartisan solution is not the problem. Bipartisanism is the problem. Three houses to form checks and balances fail if the entire game becomes a race for one of two parties to take over all three houses. The concept that independents are asked which of the two parties that they will caucus for makes no sense to me.

Hearing that tertiary candidates are not allowed in the current debate because they don’t have the level of representation which is decided on by the parties that do makes no sense to me. Continually, I hear stories of tertiary candidates being taken forcibly from debates by police because they aren’t allowed in.

Our current government is a football game of “We Good, you Evil” So much for civility towards ‘the other party.’

I don’t want to be a Democrat. I am currently watching the “Rachel Maddow” show on MSNBC. (And don’t get me started on the concept of NBC plus Microsoft equals news.) Rachel Maddow is like watching Jon Stewart without the occasional laugh at his own side. The current rant is over the hypocrisy that the Republican representatives are doling out. And it doesn’t take much effort to see it. Unfortunately, I cannot stomach the other side of the debate enough to watch a “Glenn Beck” or a “Rush Limbaugh” give examples of the hypocrisy of the left because they are too busy playing the “Incite to Riot” card (See previous two links).

So, on one side we have the Conservatives. These are the people who during the Bush Administration said, “You don’t like the president? Suck it up or you’re a treasonous traitor to the country.” These are the same people who are painting pictures of Obama to look like Hitler (Godwin Points) and calling for “Revolution.” Of course they don’t realise that the Pacific Northwest is defined as “Hippies that want their guns too.”

The Right is running on fear. Terrorize the masses into believing the Left is evil, destructive, villainous, and planning the downfall of Apple Pie and Mom. (Remember, Health Reform is socialism; but SOCIAL security isn’t)

The left. There’s the dove. At least that’s the visual message they offer. We love everyone, we want to bridge the gaps, and we’ll meet you half way in that Zeno’s paradox kind of way. (What, halfway more? But if I keep cutting the distance in half; I’ll never get to you.) The problem is that the left wants to play by the rules up until they are pushed to break the rules and then … well, they don’t admit they’ve changed their tone either.

Let’s face it. From the moment that the Left lost 60 in the Senate; they knew Health reform Reconciliation was on the table. The fact that they still haven’t “Said it” is just an olive branch being held by a fist.

Personally, I think the Democrats right now are far more dangerous than the Republicans. Not for what they want to do; but for how far they will be pushed and compromise before they decide that all bets are off. Let’s look at historical examples of behaviour that is pushed over the edge: Road_rage, John_and_Lorena_Bobbitt, Going_postal.

I will hand it to the Left for trying to hold out as far as they have. But I really think that before things go much further… it’s going to become a figurative blood bath in Washington. Honestly, I have never felt as close to the history of the Civil War as I did in the run-up and aftermath of both the 2000 and the 2004 election.

So we have the Bully and the Conscientious Objector. Pick your side. That’s what Washington really wants. As long as they can keep this country torn down the philosophical center (no matter where the lines are) then their pundits will keep putting them back into office and they will maintain their 50/50 split of only handling issues that most people are too apathetic or untrained to see.

Let me comment about some of the changes I want in the US government:

  1. A bill must pertain to one topic.
    • How the hell the Port defense act garnered bank control for online Poker is beyond me.
    • The idea here is as follows: Take a bill that overwhelmingly is going to pass both houses from both parties. (Typically this would be something like… oh I don’t know… shoring up unemployment). One rep has a pet peeve that she/he wants to nip in the bud. Worse, they are under pressure from a lobbyist to fix something that’s causing them to lose money. In the 11th hour when no one is paying attention, the amendment to the bill is slipped in. Exploiting parliamentary procedure loopholes may do this. Wording the amendment in a manner that is innocuous to those that haven’t spent time studying it may do it. The committees study the bills, not the amendments.
  2. Committees are transparent and your representative listens to you about issues that aren’t on their committee.
    • I used to write my congressional representatives and senators. I do not anymore. I am not a lobbyist. I am just the person that either did or more likely did not elect them. One law that passed in Washington I was very unhappy with. I contacted the state reps that voted against my opinion and was told that I should contact my own representative. I contacted my federal representative from my own district concerning a bill I wanted to see supported. I was told, “That bill is not in my committee.” I honestly don’t care if it is or isn’t in your committee. You can talk to your ‘friend’ the representative from “where-ever” and tell them that your constituents care about this bill.
    • Since the activities of committees are done so secretively to the public, we really don’t know which elected official is supporting a bill, discussing it in committee, or even aware that the bill exists. And when we do contact them; if we aren’t talking them out to dinner or golfing or creating a trust fund in their name; our opinions don’t seem to matter.
  3. Hare Clark. Hare Clark. HARE CLARK
    • For the rest of you: this is “Single_transferable_vote.” This system eliminates “Wasted Votes”, “Spoiler Candidates” and, “Blowing off the good candidate because he can’t win.” I’m not going to explain how the system works. It is a bit on the complicated side.
  4. My favourite one. Hypocrisy and self-serving abuses of power in the Federal positions of the Legislature, Executive, and Judicial are treasonous acts against the country and should result in public execution. Said execution will be pay per view with the proceeds going to pay back the deficit
    • I guarantee you, hang one Democrat and one Republican on PPV; you’ll easily knock ½ trillion off the deficit and the rest of the gov’t will get REALLLLLY HONEST REALLLLLLLLY FAST.
    • A note: I am not condoning killing our elected officials. I’m not a fan of the death penalty. I often float this idea more for the reaction than an actual desire to see it enacted. Please do not call the FBI, the CIA, or the ASPCA on me.

Now, there are countless other things that could contribute to fixing our problem. One of course is remembering that just because a corporation is a legal entity; doesn’t make it a person. Corporations have far too much power in this country and this alone is a topic for another post.

So let’s stop for some coffee.

I digress. I resent the Tea Party; not just because they are primarily composed of people that I view as alarmists and the easily manipulated. I resent them for co-opting tea. I love tea. The Tea Party doesn’t even connect to the Tea Parties of history no matter how hard their leaders and representatives try to shoehorn the definition. These Obama-as-Hitler mobs are the same people who decried arguing with the president 2 years ago. I’d use the more apropos ‘objurgate’, but I’m pretty sure less than .01% of them could define it before the other 99% accuse me of using some gay-socialist code word.

Right… coffee. The founder/leader/talking-head of the Coffee party is Annabel Park. As far as I can tell, the Coffee Party extols olive branches to both sides with the hopes that they will play nice. If they don’t play nice, the Coffee Party will hold their representatives accountable.

The Coffee Party currently has just over 75.5K ‘fans’ on Facebook. I don’t mean to doom say here. But if we divide that number by 50 we get a number that winds up being just over 1500 per state. This number doesn’t represent enough people to get a referendum on most state election boards let alone the strength to remove a 6 term senator who plays the politics game very well.

You don’t organize a movement by ranting politely and offering olive branches. You don’t affect change without a much larger mass. You can tell how seriously the mainstream media takes them when CNN entitles their story with the pun, ”Coffee Party gaining Steam.” My biggest concern with the future of the Coffee Party is that Ms. Park has very little charisma to inspire anyone to stop being inevitably apathetic about government.

And here (in my less than humble opinion) is the root of our problem. Washington polarization and gridlock has led to our general apathy with the whole problem. And here is proof. How many of you knew/know the following:

  1. How can one senator stall a bill without majority support? Without even minority support?
  2. What was the actual bill that was stalled? Do you know the H.R. number? Where can you find the text of the bill? Where can you find the text of the laws changed by the bill?
  3. What amendments were added to the bill? Who added them? Who supported or didn’t support them? Why?
  4. What have your representatives voted for or against this session? How in line with their, your, all parties was it?
  5. How many of you know how to get a referendum on your own local ballot?

American Civics is a joke for the places that even still bother to teach it. We have been raised and continue to raise our young to follow the status quo and trust someone else to tell us how to think and what to do.

Sure, I want to believe the Coffee Party has some legs on it. Granted, I also want tea back from the radical jihad of the intellectually conservative. (I guess now that the intelligent Christians have wrestled their religion back from the extremists and the Republicans; the Republicans need a new group that they can find a stupid sub group within to be their voice of fear and doom.)

I remember about 9-10 years ago trying to deduce what a Democrat and a Republican stood for. After asking moderates on both sides all it really came down to was, “Don’t trust the other side.” The tenants of “Fiscal conservatism”, “Social evolution”, “Government regulation” all became talking points that you used to identify which ‘team’ you ‘played for.’

None-the-less (with some exceptions over theTea Party members, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh) I have tried to comport myself within the confines of the “Pledge of Civility.” I suppose I rule the aforementioned out because they do not come to the floor with opposing ideas. They simply come with the words of hate and mistrust based solely on either their own imaginations (as in the talk show hosts) or the imaginations of others without seriously giving consideration to what is going on.

I want to see cooperation in government. I think the Coffee movement has its heart in the right place. I just don’t see government really worrying about the hearts of the individuals of this country. I really don’t see government as a whole really worrying about major changes to the status quo.

…because the status is not quo. The world is a mess and I just… need to blog it.