Saturday, March 19, 2005

Demonstrations of Idiocy...
All over the country today, demonstrations will be held to protest the occupation of Iraq. The majority of the people involved in these demonstrations will be the seriously retarded denizens of the colleges, the aging hippies, those that will use the events to advance unrelated agendas (I expect the homosexuals to be out in force), the Bush haters, the slackers and the truly-disintertested-but-there-to-hook-up-with-hippie-chicks.

The organizers of these protests claim that he war in Iraq was illegal and immoral, and cite the same, tired reasons for their disconnected logic. Knocking them down one at a time:

a) We went to war for oil: considering the price of oil hit near $60 a barrel this week, I'm wondering where all this free, illegally-gained oil actually is. Californians are now paying above $3 for a gallon of gas, and the rest of us are approaching $2.50. Congress has allowed for the exploration of and drilling for oil in the ANWR. World energy prices are skyrocketing due to increased demand and lower supplies, mainly caused by OPEC's continued manipulation of the market. if the United States is now swimming in oil, I have yet to see it.

b) Saddam Hussein posed no threat to the United States - Well, neither did Slobodan Milosevic. Neither did General Aidid in Somalia. Neither did the genocide in Rwanda, the sectarian turmoil in Northern Ireland, the slaughter of innocents in the Ivory Coast. Yet, the same people who now claim qualifications to assess threats to national security, where protesting then that the United States either did nothing or should have done more to solve those problems where no clear national interest actually lay. Apparently, we should only use power in the interests of France, not in our own. Saddam Hussein was a threat to national security here: he, himself, might not have launched a missle at us or personally highjacked an airliner, but he was capable of funneling arms, money and WMD's to surrogates. In fact, he was. Palesinian terrosists were receiving cash payments from him. European intelligence agencies recorded meetings between Iraqi agents and terrorist groups. Saddam had used WMD on several occasions: ask the Iranians and Kurds, and had the means to deliver them outside of his borders: ask the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Israelis, all once on the receiving end of Scuds.

c) There were no WMD's in Iraq - Au contraire, but there were --- UN Weapons inspectors found them. The UN helped destroy some of them. There was no way of knowing if they were all destroyed, however, and the subsequent actions of the the Iraqi government, it's scientists, the United Nations Inspectors and intelligence services all over the planet, made it clear that until it could be positively ascertained that Iraq was WMD-free that no one should sleep soundly. In the aftermath of the invasion two years ago, coalition forces were still finding artillery shells, rockets and remote-controlled airplanes that contained, or were designed to deliver, WMD's. The fact that, up until this time, no missile, bomb, or other contrivance of war has been found loaded to the gills with VX, for example, it doesn't automatically follow that such things do not still exist somewhere. They just haven't been found yet.

d) the War is Illegal: Again, there were 17 seperate UN resolutions authroizing the United Sates to act militarily in Iraq. Iraq was in violation of all 17. Several members of the Security Council were, in fact, themselves, complicit in helping the former regime circumvent or violate the UN's own resolutions. The United States Congress authorized the use of force against Iraq and appropriated funds for the invasion and subsequent rebuilding effort. Thirty-plus nations initially joined the United States in Iraq, which was more than twice the number that fought under UN colors in Korea. I gather that thirty-plus nations are also acting illegally, but it seems none of them will be mentioned during the protests.

So march all you want. Make up all the bullshit excuses you want for not doing your part to protect the country. Contrive and spread all the propaganda your tiny minds can conceive. The fcat is that no one is really listening to you and you're preaching to the choir anyway: the same people who will join you are the same people who would ask "What did I do to cause this?" when the next airliner hits the Sears Tower or when they get anthrax in the mail. In other words, you're preaching to those who would expect to be given all the fruits of Western Civilization without lifting a finger to get it for themselves or even to make any sort of positive contribution. You know, the kind of people who are responsible for having instructions put on shampoo bottles or directions on a can of soup for it's proper use -- in other words, the braindead, the lazy and the folks who want to be mollycoddled from cradle to grave.

Ffteen hundred Americans have given their lives in Iraq to do three, extraodrinary things: travel half-way around the world in order to provide a shield behind which you exercise your right to bleat like sheep, created conditions where fledgling democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan may incubate, and finally, brought something resembling actual civilization to an area of the world where such things were typically considered bad because they had a Western taint.

You are really marching for selfish reasons (i.e. you don't want to have to actually go to war to foster these things, only reap the benefits).

As for the calls that the money being spent in the Middle East can easily be of more use here, I remind you that if given $80 billion, the Department of Education will promptly lose it. The Secretary for Housing and Urban Development would simply use it to create more "empowerment zones" which are simply ghettos with a different name. Just because the money would be put to "better uses" by your ilk does not guarentee that your ideas are any better.
Seriously Misplaced Priorities...
Re Terri Shiavo: I will admit to not having paid much attention to this stuff, but the last two weeks have been nearly wall-to-wall Terri coverage on the news, in between Michael Jackson, Jessica Lundsford (R.I.P Little One, may God comfort you!) and Scott Peterson.

From where I sit, it all brings up serious questions about the priorities and utility vis-a-vis the courts in this country.

In the case of Terri Shiavo, here we have a woman who has been in a vegetative state for several years. She does not function normally, being unable to swallow and thus feed herself, probably cannot communicate with those around her, and for all I know, is completely unaware of her condition and surroundings. But, and this is important --- she is still alive.

And this seems to be a problem for her husband, who from what I can gather, was once devoted to her care and maintenance, until the malpractice suit paid off. Now he's got himself a new woman and a gaggle of children, and wants to see Terri's life support apparatus disconnected. Apparently, this is cheaper than a divorce. Now, I don't not know all of the details, but it does seem rather convenient that seven years into her coma or whatever it is, the husband suddenly remembers that Terri told him not to take extraordinary measures or somesuch to prolong her life in this situation. Also coveniently, these insturctions were never written down, and apparently he's the only one who can verify that she ever said any such thing. Since Terri, barring a miracle, will never be able to testify to that point on her own, this premise stinks on ice.

However, a court in Florida seems more than willing to see things the husband's way, and a judge has ordered that the feeding tube be removed. This has happened several times in the past, and every time, the courts have seen fit to reverse such rulings. From what I have been able to gather, this is not the only judge that has ordered that Terri be starved to death, which makes it look to me that the husband, in his desperation to kill off his wife, has been shopping for judges for several years --- and keeps finding ones that see things his way. I'll bet a dollar to a doughnut that these same judges would be opposed to the death penalty for a violent murderer and possibly have handed out heavy-handed sentences to animal abusers, but seem to have no problem with killing off an innocent person who just happens to have been seriously injured and who might one day be rehabilitated. I'm not a neurologist, but the possibility seems to exist that perhaps, one day, Terri just might snap out of it, or with effort, be made somewhat functional again.

Vis-a-vis Michael Jackson, the courts have been all over the map on his activities and proclivities and still we go through the motions of having a trial. As far as I'm concerned, one allegation might be someone with an axe to grind. Two allegations raise eyebrows. Mike is on his fourth or fifth allegation. At what point do we begin to realize that, perhaps, these allegations are true? I realize that there is a burden of proof and people are innocent until proven otherwise and all of that other legal bullshit, but either Michael is guilty or he's the unluckiest sonofabitch on the planet. In his case, instead of a trial, we're treated to a circus and a PR offensive: this trial is no longer about law, facts and evidence, it's about lawyers making each other's witnesses look bad. Each day we hear about the prosecution scoring a point, only to have the defense score one of it's own, and from what I can tell, we're getting no closer to the truth: is Michael Jackson molesting children? Is he a pedophile who needs to be locked away for the safety of society? Or is all of this courtroom manuevering just a serious waste of time?

Jessica Lunsford has been murdered, and God knows whatever else happened to her. The perp is a convicted sex offender whom the courts deemed safe to be released from prison. Mistake number one. The perpetrator, John Couey, was listed in a Florida sex offender directory and suppposed to be supervised in some way, but somehow, he managed to not be where he was supposed to be and then fled the jurisdiction, finally being arrested in Georgia. Mistake number two. How the courts in Florida can debate the deliberate starving to death of an innocent woman and let a convicted (24 arrests), persistent offender walk the streets in order to prey upon little grils is beyond me.

We won't even get into Peterson's situation.

The courts are supposed to protect us, they are supposed to enforce the law, as it is written. Instead, we get courts packed to the gills with judges who are willing to use their discretion to advance some seriously demented agendas: that inconveniently ill people can be killed, that the obviously guilty can continue to buy their way out of justice, that criminals have rights after being convicted and are entitled to walk around despite the fact that they will offend again. Add this to recent court rulings about everything under the sun from the Ten Commandments to Gay Marriage to Immigration problems and it's hard to see just what utility the courts are serving in this day and age. It certainly is not to uphold the law with any kind of common sense or decency, or to protect the civil society in which we're supposed to be living in.

For what it's worth, here's my opinion:

-Terri's husband should be taken out and shot. The judge(s) who fell for his seemingly transparent recollection of Terri's will not to be saved should be drawn and quartered, on Pay-per-view.

- Michael Jackson is as guilty as all sin, it's been obvious for a decade now, and the legal manuevering should cease and the judge in that case should set himself towards enforcing the law.

- John Couey should be made to suffer a slow, agonizing death, peferably something to do with honey and a nest of fire ants. All sex offenders should be locked away forever, to hell with civil rights in their case. I'd return to the ancient Roman practice of making human candles out of them, which would put a dent in the country's energy problems.

- Scott Peterson should have been executed as soon as the guilty verdict came in. Barring some atomic bomb-like evidence (and it appears that none will be forthcoming, the man was caught dead to rights), screw the appeal process. We should stop looking at criminals as victims of circumstance and start looking at them as they are: seriously demented people who pose a danger to the rest of us.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Congress on Steroids...
I watched the farce that was the Congressional Hearing on Steroid Use (or whatever they're calling it) on television, and came to several, familiar conclusions.

1. Professional athletes live on a different planet than the rest of us - I saw Jose Canseco beg for immunity, Mark McGuire, for all intents and purposes, took the Fifth, and Sammy Sosa pretended he didn't speak English when the questions got too specific. Any average citizen dragged before a Congressional committe would not have gotten away with what these guys have; they took illegal substances to acquire fame, and then use that fame to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions. McGuire was the worst. His repeated mantra of "I'm not here to talk about the past" (i.e. I'm guilty as hell, but don't expect me to fess up -- I don't have to) was nauseating. Jose Canseco is still the slimy piece of shyte he's always been, and you know he only agreed to show up because he has to push a book. Even when he was confronted with the contradictions in his book, such as the fact that he claims steroids are fine and here to stay, contrasted with his "do as I say, not as I do" spiel, he came off as someone who feels that he is above the rules.

2. Congressmen live on different planet than the rest of us - One only had to look at the Mouse of the House, Henry Waxman (Idiot-California) and his asshole buddy, Bernie Sanders (Communist-Vermont), and the absolute glee they both displayed at being in front of a TV camera, to know it. Bernie took the opportunity to rail about a healthcare "crisis" in this country, which was totally unrelated to what the purpose of the hearing was. Waxman continued his usual practice of speaking from his rectum. This is another instance of Congress deciding it has a right to stick it's colelctive nose under any goddamn tent flap it wishes to. Baseball will not be cleaned up by Congressional action. Marijuana and cocaine are against the law, people in everyday life are randomly tested everyday, and still people use marijuana and cocaine. Laws will do nothing to fix this problem --- the marketplace must correct itself, once again. If baseball were serious about this issue, then players who were caught using steriods would not only be suspended, they would lose serious money, not these measly fines that Bud Selig bandied about as proof positive he's being tough. In this instance, the owners and the baseball folks must realize that many people do, in fact, care about the integrity of the game. Once that integrity is violated, people begin to stay away. Once star athletes who draw the crowds tot he stadium every day start dropping like flies because of suspensions, people will stay away in droves. At that point, the owners will get serious before they lose fans and, more importantly to them, money.

3. Some people still refuse to take responsibility for their actions - this was evident in every way from McGuire refusing to fess up, to Canseco pretending that he didn't start this whole brouhaha and Selig pretending that he is the Commissioner. However, the best and worst example of not taking personal responsibility were the parents of the youngsters who died because of steroid use. Their responsibility as parents was to ensure their children were okay. If, for example, your 15 year old bulks up from 100 pounds to a hefty 180 in a short period of time, you should realize something is up. When your typically mild-mannered child begins to act out in rage unexpectedly, the red flag has been raised. However, in the society we live in we always find someone else to blame. In this case, baseball players caused these kids to do nasty things to their bodies that eventually killed them, and their parents did not notice or did nothing until it was too late. Granted, these players are role models, but they are not a substitute for interested, involved, loving parents. I feel bad that they lost their children, but at some point, you have to take the responsibility of finding out what your kids are up to.Your son is not dead because Jose Canseco took steroids -- he's dead because he took steroids and you didn't do anything about it. Blaming McGuire and Canseco may ease your conscience, but it doesn't erase the fact that you failed as parents.

4. Steroid use is merely an aspect of technology - what I mean by this is simply that science continues to advance, in all aspects of human endeavor, and occasionally, that technology is going to be misused. Steroids were intended to help people with specific, physical maladies, and it's the side effects (boost in testosterone, muscle bulk, increased strength, etc) that were the payoff in this particular misuse of the medications. Technology has affected sports in almost every way imaginable: we have better, stronger materials for our equipment, althletes have access to more information on nutrition and strength training than ever before. Physics has been applied to every aspect of sport from the action of a curveball to the ergonomics of a running shoe. Sporting implements that used to be made of natural materials such as wood and leather have given way to polycarbons and advanced plastics. Newer techniques of production and design have made equipment more effective than ever. How many home runs do you think Hank Aaron would have hit if his bats had been designed on a computer capable of taking the physics of the swing and contact with the ball into account? If he'd had the access to nutritionists, personal trainers and sports medicine specialists would he have played into his 40's, like Barry Bonds is set to do? An intersting point was made by Arnold Schwartzenegger the other night on Hardball: how would a pole vaulter of 50 years ago fared with today's polycarbonite pole that flexes and literally flings the vaulter over the bar as opposed to the old-fashioned wooden poles with very little give? The point is that science enters into our daily lives on every level and that today steroids are the enemy while tomorrow it might be genetic engineering.

5. The Players have the owners over a barrel and they know it - Listening to the folks from MLB try to explain their non-policy policy yesterday, it became obvious that the point of collective bargaining for the players is to protect their own asses, especially when ti comes to the use and distribution of illicit substances. The fines and penalties for drug use outlined yesterday were atrocious and some Congressmen were actually smart enough to notice. Some even did the math to the extent that they realized the fines and suspensions were little more than nuisances to a guy who makes several million dollars a year. The players could never get away with negotiating this good a deal for themselves if the owners were not complicit. After yesterday, I think that's all changed; the public now knows that that players have "get out of jail free" cards written into their contracts.

I personally stopped following baseball, except for occasional encounters with the game, several years ago. A decade of strikes by grown men who get paid a great deal of money to play a kid's game struck me a somewhat retarded. I'm even sicker over it when my favorite sport of hockey is now involved in the same thing. However, I have, in the past couple of years, actually gone to the ballpark and watched a few games, both pro and A-ball. I liked the A-ball game better, since the players there were hustling, diving, sliding and striving; it was fun to watch. I'd rather watch people who are hungry, who want to make a name for themselves, who play hard everyday with enthusiasm than to watch a drug-enhanced, multi-millionaire who won't even try to leg out a ground ball. That's baseball. What we have now, with junkie players and timid owners more concerned with their wallets than their product, is too painful to watch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The 9th (Short) Circuit...
Pity being a judge on the Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco; the very fate of Western Civilization rests upon your ability to make judgements on the most serious issues of the day. It's a great responsibility that requires reason, logic, a healthy respect for the republic, the love and protection of the law, the ability to balance the Constitution against the well-being of society.

Unfortunately, no one on that court seems able to handle the job.

Once again, the ugly spectre of gay marriage was put before the court, and once again, political correctness and the strange, wasting mental disease that affects most people in San Francisco manifested itself in the court's latest gem of jurisprudence.

The court, in a majority decision, once again ruled that California MUST allow Gay Marriages to be treated with the same respect and legal protections as traditional matrimony. To do otherwise, deigns the court, is a violation of people's civil rights every bit as pernicious as segregation and refusal of the franchise.

Once again, I am mystified as to how people can spend millions of hours in law school, decades practicing law, and still be so fucking stupid. The courts, and not just in California but nation-wide, continue to miss the point.

Their job is not to make new law but merely to interpret and enforce the law as it already exists. There is no provision in the Constitution wherein people can have everything they want solely becuse they can make enough noise about it. The only thing guarenteed by the Constitution is the pursuit of happiness --- not necessarily obtaining it. The voters of California have stated quite plainly on several occasions that they do not wish to allow homosexual marriages. Society as a whole has decided that marriage is an institution between people of different sexes --- it is the law of the land.

However, judges somehow decided that ther job is not to enforce the law but to circumvent it if it interferes with their own agendas or is contarary to their own point of view. Dissent, I'll warant, is a healthy thing. Judicial review is a marvel of our constitutional republic. But neither is of any use if the dissent and the review lead to judges overstepping their authority and overriding the will of the people.

For the 354th time let me reiterate that I am not prejudiced against homosexuals (although I do find them funny as hell). However, these arguments about gay marriage, allowing gay couples to adopt children, etc, etc, are not civil rights issues. They are temper tantrums being thrown by people who, on the one hand, wish simply to live their lives free of stigma. On the other hand, they also wish to have their lifestyle normalized, in every way, in the face of a society which is mostly disgusted and (near-)violently opposed to such normalization. It's not a legal issue: every state in the union, just about, makes some allowances with Domestic partner laws or some form of Civil Union, so in effect, gay couples do have many of the same protections as heterosexual couples. The major difference is that society will not allow them to wear a white taffeta gown, with matching shoes, and march down the isle.

The objection to gay marriage is based upon tradition and religious beilief, and society's willingness to back both of these up --- it is not based upon the law. The law merely reinforces these beliefs and traditions. Therefore, since the prohibition is not merely legal, the legal system can do nothing to interfere with it. The second the law intrudes upon those traditions and religious customs, it is guilty of what he ACLU calls "violating the seperation of church and state". When that happens, the ACLU and it's auxillaries scream bloody murder and sue everyone in sight, unless of course, the perversion of the 1st Amendment in question serves some politically correct cause. Like making sure Bruce and Lance have the opportunity to toss the bouquet.

How about a little sanity from the 9th Circuit Court? Better yet, how about we just replace all the judges on the court with people able to adjudicate the law without dragging their personal beliefs into the courtroom? Better yet, how about we start moving judges around the country based upon their geographical origin: southern judges get to rule out west, northern ones in the southwest, southwestern ones in the north and western ones in the south. Should that ever happen, judges might actually be forced to be sensitive to the requirements of the people they lord over; let's just see what would happen if a judge from San Francisco tried to rule in such a way in the south. Why, there might actually be a lynch mob outside the courthouse, and eventually, you would get a more circumspect judge. Works for me.

As for Bruce and Lance, just remember that this society is tolerant enough to let you engage in whatever behavior you desire in the privacy of your own home. If you lived in Iran, for example, you wouldn't have that priviledge -- you'd be dead. Sacrificing the piece of paper and the reception seem a small price to pay for engaging in a disgusting lifestyle in freedom, now don't they?