Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not Quite Fixed

Since I'm mostly computer illiterate and I don't want to break my laptop anymore than necessary, I will hold off on the reformat until I can get it in to the tech guys at the office, who live for stuff like this.

It's been an interesting year. Work, Depos, hurricane, new home, new school for the kids, Sea World...

Next year should be even better.

Like most years, I will not be making any resolutions, however, I will be conscious of things that I need to do.

Happy New Year, everybody.

Happy New Year!

Hopefully, we'll ring it in virus-free, as I am attempting my reformat in just a few minutes. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Giving Terrorists a Safe Haven

The United States reportedly did just that with one organization (the MEK), and the Iraqi government is done with it.

Rather than try to put my own spin on the story, I recommend you read the Obsidian Wings story, here.

Unconscionable.

And Away She Went

Gramma went home today. We had to get up at 3:15 to make sure we got her to the airport in time (2 hours early for her flight, and all). Fortunately, this is 1:15 Pacific time, which is what her body clock is used to, so it's not like she was getting up 4-6 hours early. I was likewise fortunate, as I only had to drive 50 minutes to the airport, and then decide whether to drive another hour back home (at 5:30, after gramma was all checked in and through the gate) and then go to work, or just head in to work. I opted for the latter as it included less driving. Whoever scheduled gramma's flight home should be chastised as this was possibly the most inconvenient time for a return trip as possible.

But, it was nice to have Gramma here, and she is missed already.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year End

The Lions finished 0-16 - the most losses by a team ever in the NFL in one season. Matt Millen must be glowing.

There will be a leap-second this year - one extra second of the Bush administration. I still think there should be a bipartisan/nonpartisan investigation into the workings of the Bush administration to determine if there are grounds for prosecuting war crimes. Remember, Pvt. England is in jail as a scapegoat - if she's culpable, then so are those who gave her her orders.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

And all through the house,
Not a Creature was Stirring, not even a mouse.

The rest of the poem can be read here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Name Does Not Equal Experience

I have no qualms about Caroline Kennedy running for Senate. If she enters into a campaign and the people of the State of New York elect her to Senate, that's great - that's their decision and her seat.

However, she includes among her qualifications as candidate for Federal Office the fact that she has written articles about the Constitution and she has raised her family. That's embarrassingly laughable as far as qualifications go. At least Sarah Palin has been elected to Office. Sure she's not done much since, but she can hang her hat on that. She's been elected Mayor and Governor. Caroline has the good fortune of having been born a Kennedy. That does not mean she is fit for the position of Senator, and certainly does not mean that she is the person best suited to fill Senator Clinton's seat.

Appoint someone who's held office, who knows something about serving in public office. If Caroline Kennedy wants to be a Senator, then let her get elected.

To suggest anything other if you've criticized Sarah Palin is hypocritical.

Stupid Virus, Ctd

I just can't seem to shake this virus in my computer. I think I get rid of it (I even went into the registry and manually deleted it) and it still comes back. I will likely have to reformat. I don't like the idea of having to reformat, but I have to do what I have to do.

It sucks because I can only get on the computer for about 3-5 minute intervals before the popups start showing up.

Anyway, Merry Christmas Eve eve.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Take Off Your Hat

A Muslim woman was recently jailed in Georgia after refusing to take off her hijab in court. She says in the article linked above that she felt stripped of her civil, human rights.

Without looking into the details too much, I would suggest that this is not a civil rights issue, rather it is a Lemon Test/1st Amendment issue. The immediate question I had when I read this was, is this act - sentencing a person to jail for 10 days for refusing to remove headgear something that is neutral with respect to religion? If I went in wearing a Detroit Tigers hat, would I be jailed for refusing to remove it? Does this act have a legitimate secular reason (I would think there is one)? Does it place favor of one religion over another? Based on the facts (and the fact that she uttered an expletive after being told she would have to remove it), I would suggest that this is not the outrage that people might want to see it as.

For those who favor separation of church and state, as the Court has explained the 1st Amendment does, this interpretation of how I understand the situation to be is right - strange for a Georgia judge, I know.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hustle and Bustle

It's been a busy week at the Ditch. Gramma came in on Tuesday and we are thrilled to have her. She's on vacation from home, which is nice, and she's not seen the new Casa De Binjo, so she's very happy.

Work has picked up over the past few days with deadlines hitting and other things going on. Christmas shopping is in full swing, and holiday fun is being had - sort of.

We still have to trim the Christmas tree, but at least it's up.

I'll have more later, I'm sure. For the 10 people who still show up and aren't looking up Fused Alloy Bullets.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Constitution Is Not Perfect

And anyone who suggests that the Founders believed it to be perfect is either misinformed, stupid, or trying to push an agenda.

The easiest way to tell that the Founders did not believe the Constitution to be flawless is that they incorporated a method by which to amend the Constitution. Had they believed it to be a perfect document, then why would it necessitate amending? There are two suggestions - time is not a vacuum, which is to say that what was the case in 1789 (public stocks, slavery, women having fewer rights than gravel) is not going to necessarily hold true in 2009. This is in part why the founders wrote somewhat vaguely, to give room for interpretation.

Another piece of evidence that the Founders did not believe the Constitution to be perfect comes from the date of the Bill of Rights, also known as the First 10 Amendments. If you look carefully, or not even carefully, but at all, you will see that the Bill of Rights were not incorporated concurrently with the Constitution. In fact, one of the great hangups with the Constitution was the premise that it had no Bill of Rights. The People would not ratify the Constitution until said Bill was at least promised to be forthcoming. That the People would require something beyond what was written in the Constitution itself in order to even ratify it should supply sufficient evidence for anyone willing to think for half a second that the Founders believed the Constitution to be perfect as written.

I write this as a rant not for any reason other than it's been bugging me for some time as I have seen it written on blogs and heard it from people here and there that somehow Liberals dislike America because they believe the Constitution to be flawed. I think this idea, that questioning the omnipotence of the Constitution, is glib. But I recognize that reasonable people can come to differing opinions on what is or is not the case, and I'm certain there are several who will come here (okay, maybe 3) and read this and consider my opinion to be pure tommyrot. To them, I merely ask for proof that the Founders believed the Constitution was perfect as written, if they got this far in my late night rant.

There is a Santa Claus

Just ask this girl, who wrote to him. While I am not an advocate of writing letters to Santa in school necessarily, I certainly like the results of this story, if it turns out to be true.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Stupid Virus

Grandma's coming tomorrow night - we're excited to have her. I have depositions to edit that are due tomorrow. I have at least two other corporate entities whom I must review records for to determine what to use in deposition, I still haven't put up the Christmas tree (we don't have much for Christmas decorations outside the tree), and we have to finish cleaning the house.

So I end up with a virus. Not just any virus, but an Antivirus 360 virus.

I have not yet downloaded the link, which is going to be a pain in the rear to get rid of. If it's half as hard as getting rid of whatever I have, that is. It sounds like I'm going to have to get in and dig around the registry, which I'm reluctant to do as I'm no computer guru.

I've talked with my computer guy at work and have learned that McAfee, while once the gold standard in virus protection, no longer is the leader. Now he recommends Panda Security, which I will be downloading tonight or tomorrow, as well as Spybot Search and Destroy, which I'm going to set up here briefly.

This is going to be a fun evening. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And it Somehow Again Goes Back to the Bush Administration

PFC England must be feeling much better now that she's in jail for what has been determined to be Rumsfeld's fault. But of course, this was necessary because of the connection between Hussein and 9-11. Oh, wait...

Michael Steele Speaks the Hard Truth

But will the Republican Party want to hear it? (From the Moderate Voice)

The fact is, it's possible to substantially agree with the Republican Party Platform and yet be pro-life, or prefer a secular society. Goldwater managed to do it. The question is, is the leadership willing to include, or is it still looking to a "you're either with us or against us" approach to governing that has worked so well thus far?

And the Democratic leadership would be wise to pay attention to what happens, as there are several pro-life, anti-gun control liberals out there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Let it Snow!

So I walk out of work this evening, after a relatively long day. I know the traffic is going to be lousy because it's dark out and it's been wet, windy and cold all day.

I walk out the door of the building and I get hit with precipitation, but it isn't rain. I pause (figuratively, it's pretty chilly out and I own no jacket), and recognize that I'm being hit with snowflakes. Now for much of America, this is to be expected in December. But we are in Houston. In Houston, it snows about once every five years or so (I've lived here for 5 years and this is the second time it's snowed). This is a bit phenomenal. It was almost exciting enough for me to forget how I had been left out in the cold waiting next to the chinese restaurant by a friend of mine who asked me to set aside my time, who completely blew me off with nary an explanation. Fortunately, I'm originally from Michigan, so I'm relatively thick-skinned (figuratively speaking), and this doesn't affect me too much.

The kids loved going outside in the snow. It's not cold enough to accumulate, but it's still falling, and they were having a ball (literally, as some of it had gathered on the bench in the backyard and they had a brief snowball fight). The fireplace was lit for the first time in the new house, and the children enjoyed warming up after their jaunt in the cold wintry air with some hot cocoa.

It felt like Winter.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

I forgot how much
I enjoy watching hockey
Sports with action - wow!

As always, I welcome your contributions.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Case is Closed

I have discussed this matter once before, when I discussed whether or not the charge that President-elect Obama was or was not a "natural-born" citizen. Some people, however, have continued to insist (not on my site, but elsewhere, in more well-read blogs) that there is a "there" there.

While it should be the end of the matter, it won't be - but, the Supreme Court denied cert in one of the suits, and, at least by lack of ruling, implied that President-elect Obama meets the Constitutional requirements to serve as the President of the United States. There are other suits pending, but I think they will likely find a similar fate.

While I consider this to be a no-brainer, I understand that there are others who might legitimately think there is something to this. However, the Court has had its say, and the Constitution seems to be pretty clear - unless you're really willing to stretch your imagination. He will be inaugurated as the next President of the United States.

Other bloggers weighing in:
The Gun Toting Liberal

I Hate CSI Miami

Occasionally, I will try to watch an episode of CSI Miami in order to lambaste it on this blog. I do this not because I like the show, but because I think it's a public service to show just how far they stretch plausibility or even possibility. I mean, we're talking about a team that can figure out who the murderer is by the imprint of the license plate of the car that hit the dead guy's briefcase. It has David Caruso. It has Elizabeth Berkeley - in a dramatic (?) role!!!! It deserves to be lampooned.

However, tonight, I'm not going to watch it. This is because I'm tired, and because I don't feel as though I can stomach it tonight. Maybe next time.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

On this date, 67 years ago, carrier-borne aircraft from Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, prompting FDR to ask Congress to declare war, entering us into World War 2.

Take a moment to reflect on the freedoms our country yet enjoy, and thank those who gave some or all of their lives defending it.

Grumpy Boy

The Boy is a little grumpy. He has to turn in an assignment to school tomorrow about the Coahuiltecan indians of South Texas. He chose this group (they are not a tribe) because he read that they ate deer dung, among other things. He's learned quite a bit about the tribe, but I think it's in spite of his desires.

Right now, we're working on a diorama to use as a visual for the class to see. I would have gone out and bought some of the foods they ate, but I'm not sure where to find prickly pears, cactus leaves, grubs, dirt, rabbits, lizards, ant eggs, spiders, and snails outside of San Angelo, and that's too far to commute. So instead, he's building a sample house of theirs called wikiups.

All in all, I'm interested in what he's learned, but I wish he was a little more into completing the assignment.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

'Tis the Season

Last night was the wife's office Christmas Party. Nothing like 2 score real estate guys and gals drinking it up. Actually, it was fun. We ate at Smith and Wollensky, which was pretty nice, though I would have to say if you go and you have a choice between the Filet (which I had) and the Prime Rib (which was an option), go with the Prime Rib. It looked juicy and succulent while my filet was burnt and dry.

I also had some nice wine, about a glass and a half (I don't really drink, but I never "quit" so I don't think I cheated) and some wassail, which I thought was just something you sang about with love and joy. It wasn't bad - it tasted like guava juice with mulling spices.

While my wife were out having fun in Highland Village, the kids were busy being babysat by the Photogs. It sounds like much fun was had by all, except near the end of the evening when exhaustion took over and the Wii started cheating on the young'uns.

Tonight I took the Boy out for one of his birthday gifts. We went to a Houston Aeros game. He had fun, though I think he was almost as excited about getting a blanket from the cheerleaders as he was about the game. It was a good game. 3 fights, 7 goals - at least 3 on Power Play and one in the last minute with the goalie pulled. The only downside is that I got mustard on my shirt from the $8(!) hotdog. It was a good experience, though, and I'm glad to have gotten to take The Boy to his first hockey game.

Tomorrow is going to be a bit of a day off - I think I'm going to relax, rake the leaves back into a pile for the kids to jump in (we have pictures, it's cute), and watch some football where Florida doesn't win.

OJ is Guilty

Of course, that probably wasn't seriously in doubt given the audio of what happened. However, that didn't stop people from complaining. There's going to be an appeal, in part because there were no african americans on the jury, and probably on other grounds as well.

Now, even though he's in jail (and it's entirely possible that the kidnapping charge could be reversed given Nevada's precedent regarding kidnapping in conjunction with robbery), he is potentially liable to those he held for false imprisonment, assault, and other charges.

OJ's future doesn't look good, but he brought it upon himself.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Accepting Responsibility

Andrew Sullivan has his say on our President's (in)ability to exhibit personal accountability.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Drops of Jupiter

Well, not really "drops" of Jupiter, but it was visible last night. Jupiter and Venus were both out last night, just below and to the right of the Moon.

After I got home, I pulled out my grandpa's old binoculars and brought the young'uns out to take a look at them. They were duly impressed, as was I. I think this was the first time I saw planets - at least, the first time that I saw them and recognized them for what they were. It was a neat experience, particularly seeing the kids all dazzled.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

McCarthy Conservatism

Andrew Sullivan has a good post on it and its application by Nixon, and in 2008 here.

Sunday Sunday

Today the Apple and I got up early and went to Home Depot. We needed to buy a rake so we could gather up the leaves that insist on falling from our trees. We also needed some new air filters for the house, as it's been 3-4 months since we changed them. It was nice, and the Apple enjoyed tooling around the store.

After raking the leaves, the kids helped me gather them. I kind of wish the wife had come out with a camera to catch them doing yardwork as it was nice to see them all getting along and accomplishing something together. But she was getting ready for church.

Today was the first Sunday in Advent, so I wanted to get the children in to get some more exposure to church. We're not Easter and Christmas Christians, but we aren't Every Sunday folk, either.

The rest of the day entailed watching football, taking a nap and listening to the kids play/fight. It was a good day.

Oh, and we had leftover Bulgoki for lunch - yum.

I like the holidays. I wish we got snow for the kids (and me), as that makes Christmas even more fun. But, when you move to Texas, you sacrifice a few things, like good weather and working with people who don't have drawls - I think the Apple has a nice one brewing, fun.

Anyway, that's what's happening here right now. Tomorrow we're back to the grind. Can't wait.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Some Evening

We had fun this evening. The Bulgoki turned out good, even the shrimp bulgoki was good - a new twist I added for my pescatarian friend. He seemed to enjoy it.

We played Pinochle again - more fun, and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, as well. All things considered, it was a nice day.

If only I had more friends who liked to come over for bulgoki...

Bulgoki

In celebration of the coming end of the year, I will be serving Bulgoki this afternoon for the last time in 2008. Perhaps we can put together a New Year's party where Bulgoki could be served, but that will need coordination and communication. In the meantime, Everyone is invited over at 3 this afternoon for Bulgoki.

Christmas Shopping

I've finished about half of my Christmas shopping. I'm somewhat proud of myself, but really, I'm finding that I'm having more difficulty each year figuring out what to get the kids for the Holidays.

All I want for Christmas is a Lexus. Or an Infinity. Or a Cadillac CTS.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

At Least We Didn't Torture - Oh, Wait

The explanation for the release. (source: The New York Times) over 770 detained at Guantanamo, only 23 of whom have been charged, over 500 released. And the explanation given on the rationale for their release is astounding.

Has the clock struck 13 yet?

Random Trivia, Happy Thanksgiving Style

I first posted this on Thanksgiving in 2005.

Every year, Americans gather together with their families to celebrate the bounty of the year and to give thanks for all that we have on the Fourth Thursday in November with a huge Turkey and all the fixin's, a tradition that started in 1621 with the Pilgrims, Squanto, and the Wampanoag Indians, right? Well, not exactly. We'll look at some of the history of the holiday today.

First, it's true that there was a day of Thanksgiving in 1621, but, it doesn't look as though there was one in 1622. The harvest wasn't as good, there were many new settlers that needed housing and whatnot. The Pilgrims probably weren't in the best of moods for celebrating.

Second, The First Thanksgiving most likely wasn't in November. It was probably much closer to the harvest in September/October. Anyone who has spent any time in Massachussetts in November would tell you it's not exactly the best weather for celebrating.

Third, the Pilgrims didn't call themselves Pilgrims. They called themselves Saints.

Fourth, The letters and journals of the time indicate that Turkeys were not the big ticket item. The colonists came from England, where the lords greatly restricted hunting, and thus most people had never had venison before. In the states, where deer was plentiful, venison was very prominent at the first Thanksgiving.
- So where did Turkey come from? It appears as though it was a product of marketing in the late 1800s. Turkey was a much more profitable than other birds, so the lobbyists advertised immensely, showing pictures of a family gathering around a table with a big turkey in the middle. It caught on, and the picture printers (Think Currier and Ives) followed suit, with pictures of Pilgrims and a big Turkey.

So, if there was no second Thanksgiving, how the the 4th Thursday become the day? Well, Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, after the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. In 1864, after the victory at Antietam, they had another Day of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday. In 1865, President Lincoln was shot and killed. President Johnson decided to follow the Thanksgiving tradition set up by President Lincoln, and it became the holiday it is now.

Everything is fine and dandy right? Not quite. You see, in the 1930s one year, There were five Thursdays in November. Since Thanksgiving had traditionally been the last Thursday, (usually there are only 4), this posed a problem. The lobbyists for the big department stores wanted Turkey Day to be the 4th Thursday, because it gave people more time for Christmas shopping. Traditionalists felt that this undermined the historical significance (unaware as to the actual history of the holiday), and pushed for it to be on the Last Thursday. There was some fallout from that, with some states going on the 4th Thursday, and some going on the last. Colorado had a Thanksgiving Week, and another state had 2 thankgsivings. Thankfully, Congress intervened, and passed a law in 1941 signed by President Roosevelt that established Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. And The Lions have been playing ever since.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving

And, as usual, the Lions are going to play.

I was listening to sports talk radio on the way home from work today, and the folks on the radio were bitching about the Lions being on. They suggested that perhaps the Lions should not have a monopoly on Thanksgiving, in part because they stink. Yes. The Lions are bad. But they haven't always been bad, and they have even won a few times on Turkey day, just not since they hired Matt Millen.

Here's what I think: The entire league was approached some 60-odd years ago about doing a game on Thanksgiving. Everybody passed except the Lions. Now that the league is seeing what a coup it is, they want a piece of it. Hence the 3rd game (The Cowboys got the second one after the league volunteered it). These teams had their chance. Tough shit that you passed it up in the past. It would be like telling IBM that they get a piece of Microsoft because it turned out to successful after they passed on it the first time. Cry me a river.

I know that I would likely have a somewhat different view on this if I wasn't a Lions fan, but darnit, someone has to be.

He's a Socialist! No, He's a Marxist! Wait, He's a Communist!!!

Or perhaps Barack Obama is the centrist he campaigned as. Crazy thought, I know. And I know we won't know until he's governed for a while, but I think the socialist label need not be applied yet either, even by Fox news.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary Honey

I'm going to love you forever. Song courtesy of Randy Travis. Sentiment mine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

45 Years Ago Today

The Zapruders caught on video the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

RIP, JFK.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nokia N96 - Bruce Lee Ping Pong

Enjoy

The Palin Turkey Video

I will not show it here.

I think it was in bad taste to do the interview where she did, and I think the circumstances around it are cause for ironic humor, but it's not something that needs any more attention. It happened. It's over. Move on.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What's My Type?

This website lets you type in your blog (or LJ, if you are not ready for the big-time), and get an analysis of your personality, or rather your blog's personality. I typed in the binjo ditch, and got this:

The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Now I don't know about racing cars or fighting fires, but I thought this was interesting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spanish for "Doesn't Go"

We don't watch PBS often anymore, because we got the digital converter boxes and for whatever reason, PBS does not show up when the boxes are turned on. We do, however, still get it through analog, which we have when the VCR is on.

Last night we watched a show on PBS about the origins of the Israelites. It was fascinating. I would massacre a retelling, but in a nutshell, the show used scholars who studied the region (from U.S. and Israeli universities, inter alia) to discuss where the Israelites came from and who wrote the bible. They hypothesized that the Bible was not written in chronological order, but rather over a period of time. They also supposed that the Israelites (at least most of them) may not have migrated from Egypt during the Exodus, but rather were made up of Canaanites who adopted a new identity for themselves, aided by a few individuals who may have come from Egypt.

The show displayed evidence that indicated David and his house did rule Israel, as well.

All in all, it was a really good piece. I should like to see it again someday.

I Knew There Was Something I Didn't Like About Him

He ain't one uv us. The Borowitz Report. (From an e-mail sent to me by Photog).

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Spin

A source from the Obama camp has stated that no charges are likely to be filed against the individuals who engaged in harsh interrogation techniques (or torture, if you'd prefer).

The article notes that there are Constitutional legal scholars who believe charges should be filed to help restore our international standing, such as Michael Ratnor, of Columbia Law school, who is also President of the Center for Human Rights. From the article: "The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it," Ratner said. "I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable"

Additionally, the article mentions that President Bush could issue pre-emptive pardons to protect those who were following orders.

This latter option sort of annoys me, because, if you consider what happened at Abu Ghraib, the very same thing could have happened and the individuals such as Private England could have been protected for following orders that they are not allowed to question. There should be consistency there.

I've said several times that I believe there should be an inquiry into what transpired during the Bush administration and whether what he and/or his staff, including Cheney, have ordered or authorized, explicitly or implicity, was legal under American Law and under the standards used for trying war criminals such as the Germans after WW2 and the Serbs after Kosovo. If there is found to be violations, then there needs to be repurcussions for those violations of the law as high up as they go. It's the best way to proceed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Auto Industry

Some of you may know that I was born in Michigan and have family that has worked, and does work, in the auto industry. To my knowledge, none of them are corporate members, or have been, but they work for the Big Three nonetheless. I have a certain affinity for American carmakers and wish them success. I don't want to see Detroit continue to fail.

Right now, Face the Nation is on, and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) discussing whether or not to bail out the automakers. Of the two, I thought Shelby's answer was closer to what I would support, that Chapter 11 might be the best way to go - go through a restructuring, get out of the bad contracts, and require the industry to start over with new corporate structure. What concerns me is something I read on at least one other blog (I can't recall which), which essentially said that because of the credit freeze, the automakers would be unable to get bankruptcy loans (when there's a chapter 11 filed, there's a hold on all assets, so the day to day operations would need to be financed through loans) to meet expenses during a restructuring. What this means, as I understand, is that the automakers would face considerable difficulty in steering through a Chapter 11.

Now, I'm a little skeptical about that explanation, as I think the auto industry is big enough that money would find its way to them. But, that does not mean that there is not a risk there. The big question is, would Detroit be able to shift enough in philosophy to make a restructuring worthwhile?

There is a lot of finger-pointing over what's gone wrong over the past 20 years, but I think all can agree that continuing with the status quo is not the solution.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Groupthink

Most people see echochambering as a problem. If this report is correct, Right Wing Talk Radio hosts are not part of that group. (From the Liberal Journal)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's a Sin!

A Catholic Priest in North Carolina has told parishioners that they should forgo communion and seek penance for voting for Barack Obama.

Apparently voting for a candidate who supports the right for someone else to decide whether or not she should have an abortion is placing one under divine judgment. I did not know this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sports Talk Radio

I listen to ESPN radio. I enjoy it, particularly Mike and Mike in the Morning.

This evening, I was listening to whoever was filling in for Calvin Murphy (I never heard their names). They were debating whether or not Poker was a sport.

Professional Poker is certain a competition - you enter the contest, you try to be the last one left after all the eliminations are handled. But I don't know that I could refer to it as a sport. I have played several sports. Competitively, I have played Baseball, Soccer, Bowling, Racquetball, Volleyball, Softball, and Chess. In the non-competitive environment, I have also played football, basketball, and Tennis. I have hunted and fished. For exercise, I have run and been swimming. Most of these would qualify as sports.

The key lies in the definition, obviously. What qualifies as a "sport?" In my mind, a sport is an activity that taxes your physical skills in some way. I think there are competitive activities that tax your mind in a comparable fashion, but fall short of the qualification of "sport." To this end, I would not qualify Poker or Chess as sports, though there is definitely a competitive spirit to both (though I don't know that nations have been subjugated or lives forfeited because of poker games, unlike Chess matches). While Hunting and Fishing require some skill (and patience), I am less convinced that these activities are "sports" as I would define it. They are activities that require skill, some physical ability, and can be mentally taxing, but ultimately both end up being more about outsmarting an animal's instincts than anything else.

I think of the list I've provided above, the rest of the activities would qualify as sports. While they all have some mental component, the physical component outshines it (except maybe softball).

What do you think?

Wed

So much on my mind
I could use a vacation
But no money, time.


As usual, I look forward to your submissions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Recap

I went to work today, as so much of America did. There was a Veteran's Day parade downtown that went through the theater district; the parade route started at our building, so we went down to give it a look right around the start of it. There were a couple floats, several veteran's groups, marching bands, JROTC units, all rather nice. Through this, my friend looks at me and asks, "So what do you say to this? Happy Veteran's Day? Merry Veteran's Day?" I looked at him and replied, "I've always just said 'Thank you.'"

This evening, my son had a Veteran's Day program at school. All the Fourth Graders stood on stage and sang songs. In between this, various students got on stage and expressed what Freedom or America means to them. After, all the veterans in the audience were honored, followed by a slide show again honoring the veterans. The day was nice.

As the assembly finished, a gentleman who had been sitting behind me stood, shook the hands of the Soldier and Marine veterans who had been sitting next to him and then shook my hand. Each time, he made eye contact and said "Thank you for your service."

That's as simple as need be.

Veteran's Day

To all those who served before me, with me, and after me: Thank You.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Move Over, Harry Reid

One thing President-elect Obama is going to have to do, and do so with tact, is find a way to not only appeal to conservatives who did or did not support him, but also pull the left fringe of the party toward the middle. Case in point - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. His take on Secretary of Defense Gates (from Andrew Sullivan):
I am confident that Senator Obama has somebody in mind for secretary of defense but Gates -- you know, it's interesting, my conversation with Secretary Gates, he's not even a Republican. Why wouldn't we want to keep him? He's never been a registered Republican.
Yeah. That's why Obama should keep Secretary Gates. That type of partisan thinking is not what this country needs, and the justification itself is asinine.

There are many reasons to justify keeping Secretary Gates as Secretary of Defense. For example - he's already in the position during a transition period of government during two wars. Having some consistency at the policymaking level is a very good thing. Additionally, Secretary Gates is rather competent at his position. There are more, to be sure, but those in and of themselves are more than reason enough to justify keeping him in the position.

There is no need to play the political card on this. It's petty and divisive, and we need leadership that is calm and reasoned. President-elect Obama would find little difficulty in keeping Secretary Gates, but if he does so, let's hope it's for a real reason, and not some cockamamie partisan tommyrot.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Phases

The Boy has entered a new phase in growing up. He has become somewhat picky about breakfast. He does not like certain breakfast foods. This includes all cereal, oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, french toast, cereal bars, eggs, fruit, sausage, bacon, toast, hash browns, milk, and Carnation instant breakfasts.

Fortunately, he still likes potato chips. And cookies.

Otherwise, he might starve.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Future of the Republican Party

There has been a lot of blather this week about what the future of the Republican Party is, that it's in disarray and falling apart. I remember similar talk about 4 years ago regarding the Democratic Party. I don't buy it.

The Republicans might seem confused right now, but that's not to say they were crushed in this election. Indeed, they still came within 10 percentage points in the popular vote in a year where they should have been steamrolled given the climate. The party brand has suffered under the suspected war crimes of President Bush's tenure, the advocacy of torture, the secret prisons, indefinite detention of those not charged with a crime, denial of habeas rights, the domestic wiretapping, the USA PATRIOT Act, and unitary executive theory, but those acts were committed by President Bush, a neoconservative who was given extraordinary deference from a rubber stamp congress between 2001 and 2006. At its core, the Republican Party idea, the Goldwater idea, is still strong. Small government, low taxes, limited spending, personal liberty, are all core values that appeal to a large portion of the population. The problem comes from the neoconservative/Religious Right approach of alienating any group that opposes any segment of their diktat. What the Republican Party needs to do is reject the Rush/Coulter/Rove approach to governing, and instead return to what the Republican Platform was during the Goldwater to Reagan period. They would be better for it, and the Nation very well could be, too.

But, no more Alitos or Scalias to the Court. Strict Constructionism only when it suits you is not right, either.

Band-Aids

Let's talk stimulus. President-elect Obama has proposed a second economic stimulus plan as an attempt to get the economy moving again. I disagree with this proposition.

Our country's economic fundamentals are not strong right now. Several banks have failed, the interest rate is unbelievably low, the Dow is down about 35% from it's high last fall, the previous economic stimulus did little to stem the tide, and our national debt is double what it was 8 years ago. Taking more money away from the future is not going to fix things.

What the plan would do is apply a band-aid to a sucking chest wound. It's not going to help. We're at a point where we can't feasibly drop much lower and still remain viable as a nation.

We are at a point where we need to pay the piper. For the sake of our nation's standing as an economic power now, and in the future. This is the cost of deficit spending - you've got to pay off the debts. When that time comes, spending and economic growth necessarily will suffer. It's not the popular thing to do to tell the country we have to honor our financial obligations, but it's right, and it will do more in the long run than sending out another several million checks will.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Bulgoki

Because Jamie passed the bar exam, I will hold to my word to make bulgoki. I will make it this weekend. Everyone is welcome to come over and have some, but I need a head count.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Results Will Be In This Afternoon

More likely than not.

Congratulations to the examinees who passed the July 2008 Texas Bar Exam.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Worst Pick Ever

When Fox News points out just how bad a pick Sarah Palin was, she must have been bad. Didn't know who was in NAFTA, didn't know Africa was a continent, refused coaching before the Katie Couric interview...

You can watch the video at the Liberal Journal, here.

My good friend from North Carolina, Just Wondering weighs in, as well.

Andrew Sullivan is on this, as well.

Just think, if 4 million people vote differently, we don't learn about this.

UPDATE!!!!!
The above mentioned report has been reported to be a hoax.

Non-Sequiturs

I have heard, off and on for the past several years, that Karl Rove planned to orchestrate a "permanent Republican Majority" in the federal government. While I have heard this, I've not seen this confirmed anywhere, rather it's reported that this was his goal. Part of me thinks, well, yeah, he's a partisan politician and he believes his side is right, so why wouldn't he want to see that? But the other part of me wonders if this is something he really has said. If anyone has a link showing his ownership of this concept, I'd love to see it.

The Apple is "scared." He got punished for taking candy before finishing his dinner and was sent to bed. Now he's scared - an hour after being sent to bed.

I'm reading "The Conservative Soul," a book by Andrew Sullivan. It's a good read, so far. Chapter 2 is about fundamentalism. His position is basically what Photog's is regarding fundamentalism, but where Photog is brief due to his explanation being confined to a blog post, Andrew expands in a very thorough manner. I don't disagree with either of their positions, but I still wonder if there is some sense of insecurity in a fundamentalist that they need the backing of the government to justify their beliefs.

I hate our minivan.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Congratulations

The results are not in, yet CBS news and Yahoo (and I'm sure several other sources) are calling the election for Senator Obama. I just watched Senator McCain's concession speech - a very fine one.

Congratulations to Senator Obama. He ran a good race, and he ran the better race.

While it looks like Senator Obama has won the election, it's important to note the margin at this time is less than 3 million votes - 51% for Senator Obama to 48% for Senator McCain as I sit down to type this. The electoral votes may seem rather skewed in Obama's favor, he won by getting one more vote in many states, rather than winning heartily. This is significant.

It's significant because it was a close election. Senator Obama has a narrow victory. His task is to understand that, and to govern accordingly. He is the President-elect of the entire nation, not just the 51% who voted for him and Senator Biden.

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post indicating that I would be critical of President Bush because he is the President. I also stated that I would have been critical of Senator Kerry had he won - possibly more critical than I was of President Bush as I am still unsure of who would have been worse. The point, though, is that I maintain this reservation to be critical of Senator Obama as President. This is his burden as President. One of his many burdens. His job starts very soon. Let's wish him the best, and wish the best for us.

Vote Today

However, ""Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than to not think at all."
Hypatia, 350-415 A.D. (C.E.)

Your vote matters. Make it count.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What I Hope

I have made my decisions for my votes tomorrow.

Here is what I hope. I hope that if Senator Obama wins, he acts as prudently as he has done throughout this campaign. I hope that he attempts to undo the smash and grab tactics of the previous administration in strengthening the executive branch. I hope that he selects cabinet and staff members based not on loyalty to himself or his party, but rather based on their ability to do the job for which they've been hired.

If Senator McCain wins, I hope he returns to the pragmatic individual he was before this campaign began. I hope he reaches conclusions after thinking about the consequences of possible plans of action rather than vice-versa. I hope he understands that Separation of Powers is no more a concept than Separation of Church and State or fundamental rights or the existence of taxes. It's a necessary part of what makes this country work. Mostly, though, I hope that the country is willing to be led by him, as his campaign has vilified so many who don't walk lockstep with the campaign's wishes (you know, the "real" Americans).

I hope that this country can begin to mend from a painful 8 years. (Even ardent Bush supporters must admit this has been a less-than-stellar presidency, just as ardent Bush detractors must concede that he has done some things right)

I hope that Stare Decisis will mean something again.

I hope that the Supremacy Clause is Supreme again.

I hope that our standing in the world will improve, as we have seen the effects of "You're either with us or against us."

I hope the recession is short - it's necessary, but I hope it's short.

I hope that Iraq becomes an ally in actuality, not just based on necessity.

I hope that Osama Bin Laden is captured.

I hope, because I am an American.

Mostly, though, I hope that I can sleep at night thinking I made the best choices based on the evidence provided.

I didn't realize

That it's now been more than a year since I passed the bar exam. Rather, it's been more than a year since the results were posted.

The first year was an interesting one. We'll see how the next several years go.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Judgment

It's a question of judgment. One candidate selected a running mate whose experience and abilities compensated for what he lacked. The other chose a running mate without vetting, refuses to make her available for a press conference, who has been found to have violated ethics rules, who does not understand the Constitution or Bill of Rights, refuses to release medical records to prove up what should be an exceedingly simple issue, and whose selection appears to have been geared solely to wrap up the votes of those far right Republicans (the "base") who would have (probably) voted Republican regardless, as he has the proper letter next to his name.

When it comes to serving as the Chief Executive, decisionmaking is key. Senator Obama's decision in selecting Joe Biden was far and away a sounder decision, reached almost embarrassingly more pragmatically than Senator McCain's selection of Sarah Palin.

I am still undecided between Obama and Barr, as I have other concerns with Senator Obama, however, in my opinion the third option is no option at all.

Sunday Morning

We got our Digital Converter boxes yesterday. I admit, the picture quality is much better. I also now have 3 CBS stations, 2 ABC stations, and 5 God Channels.

I no longer have PBS, but since when is Public Broadcasting important for people?

I don't love the idea of forcing digital communications on people, but it's the law, and it only cost us an extra $20 bucks after everything was said and done.

And I got to see the Longhorns lose last night in an outstanding game!

Anectode

I mentioned that I went to Florida this past week for a deposition. I did not mention the interesting occurrence that I experienced on the flight.

On the flight out to Tampa, I flew on Southwest airlines, which is not bad, particularly if you pay the extra $20 or so and get the business select class. The only downside is we fly out of Hobby airport which is on the south side of Houston, and I live north of Bush airport, which is on the north side. However, I can handle the drive. Back to the point. On the flight, I sat one row behind Herb Kelleher, one of the founders of Southwest Airlines. He was rather friendly, chatting with everyone, and handed out several autographed napkins to individuals (not myself, though). The napkin that I read said something to the effect of "all it takes is a napkin and a dream," a reference to the inspiration for Southwest airlines, which he confirmed to be the case.

The week before saw me to Detroit. After returning to the airport from that trip, I was walking to the parking garage and upon exiting the elevator to the floor where I parked, I happened upon a group of Korean businessmen and women trying to take a group photo. Realizing what they were trying to do, I took it upon myself to offer my services. I walked up to the group and said, "shilae hamnida. Chaega chikulsu issoyo (I can take the picture)." The group looked at me, and answered in English, apparently not registering that I spoke in Korean. They asked if I was really ok with taking the picture, and I said yes, again in Korean. I then went to the man with the camera and said "Chaega halsu isso (I can do it)." He started handing me the camera, then paused and asked me if I said what I said in Korean. I acknowledged that I did. He asked where I learned it, and I said Korea. I then proceeded to take a couple pictures. Before the second picture, I asked if everyone was chunbe (ready), and they all replied in the affirmative. Again, only one or two seemed to get that I was speaking Korean. By the end of the shoot, most of them realized I'd been speaking to them in Korean, but it was odd for all of them to have some random American walk up to them in an airport and speak to them in Korean. I think it was so unexpected that they just couldn't register it. Instead, they heard what they knew they understood, and since they were bilingual, assumed that they were hearing me speak English to them. It was rather interesting to see their reaction when it dawned on them what they were hearing.

Today is lunch with the Mr. and Mrs. Photog!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I just don't know what to reply to this

I studied the First Amendment. I've read several books about it; it was included on the Bar. All this is to say that I am familiar with the First Amendment, but nowhere near an expert. Those who have read my blog have a feel for my familiarity with the Amendment itself.

The point of that is to say that I have absolutely no idea where Sarah Palin was coming from when she said this:
Palin told WMAL-AM that her criticism of Obama’s associations, like those with 1960s radical Bill Ayers and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, should not be considered negative attacks. Rather, for reporters or columnists to suggest that it is going negative may constitute an attack that threatens a candidate’s free speech rights under the Constitution, Palin said.

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

(I came across this originally on Balloon Juice)

This is misrepresenting what she's done, and a not-so-subtle attack on the Press for calling her on her attacks. More pressing, however, is her apparent misunderstanding as to what the 1st Amendment is.

The Apple weighs in on this topic himself here: vgdrgfdgjyhygfbghjyjhfgjyjyjyfhgtghyjyktjhftgjfhtjhjuuuuyhytfggjughyjyhjuuuuuhgghhyujjuju

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Greetings from Florida!

I am currently sitting in the Tampa International Airport, taking advantage of their free high-speed internet access. I just had my 4th deposition this month, and am waiting to get on the plane to get back home. I'm very tired.

The deposition did not go well. Not because of anything I did or didn't do, but because the facts were unfavorable and what came out in testimony did nothing to help things.

Anyway, it'll be nice to get back home. I could use a vacation, though. Maybe someday I could come to Florida again to visit. It looks nice, the part I saw from the car that wasn't the bridge (easily half of my drive yesterday and today was over the bridge).

More again later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wealth Redistribution

One of the more recent attacks by Senator McCain against Barack Obama. Of course, it's only bad when That One supports it. When Senator McCain is for it, that's a different story. (Source: Obsidian Wings)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trivia Question

The answer will be at the bottom - no peeking

You find yourself trapped in a hermetically-sealed concrete room. There is concrete on the ceiling, all walls, and the floor. There are no windows or doors. All that is in the room with you is a flashlight, a wooden table, and a mirror. How do you escape?







Give up?




OK,
First, you look at the table. Then you turn around and look through the mirror at the table to see what you saw. You then go pick up the saw and cut the table in half. Two halves make a hole, and you climb out through the hole.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Who Conservative Should Vote For

Andrew Sullivan's take.

Conceding the Argument

A friend of mine once said something to the effect of "if you compare Bush to Hitler, you're basically conceding the argument." And he was right. Resorting to attempts to associate a politician you dislike with a megalomaniacal ethnic cleansing mass murderer implies that you have no cogent points to make in your argument.

It's in that vein that comparing Barack Obama to Stalin, Hussein, and Pol Pot concedes the argument.

For what it's worth, I've seen no evidence that Barack Obama "hates" anyone, or that he's intent on exacting revenge on anyone. I've heard no reference to any enemies list (though that could be due to the hyperdeferential media).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More from the Saginaw News Courier

Circa Friday, 2/13/1920:
Tire Prices - $8.50 - $19.60. Separate prices for inner tubes.

A comic from 1920 - Freckles and His Friends. A story on the right notes France is denying any alliance negotiations with Serbia/Jugoslavia. Another story is about the Romanian Jeanne d'Arc - Ecaterina Teodoroiu, as related by Romanian Military Attache Major Livinius D. Teiusamau.

The sports page.


And the famous Mary Pickford will be starring in Pollyanna. Fatty Arbuckle is starring in Fatty's Jitney Chase.
Circa Friday, 2/13/1920:

Interesting Discoveries

While my aunt was cleaning out the cabin, she found some interesting things, such as this newspaper from Saginaw.

I don't know if you can read the date on there, but it reads Friday, February 13, 1920. Headlines read differently then than they do now:

I haven't read the whole paper, in part because I didn't want to touch it too much - lest it disintegrate, but I did leaf through it briefly. I saw this ad for a $27.50 suit.

Mostly, I thought this was pretty neat. I held on to it for posterity's sake. I'm into collecting odd little things like this.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not Yet

The results from the July 2008 Texas Bar Exam are still not ready. It should be another 12-13 days.

But, if you are itching to see what your questions were, you can access them here. The raters' notes should be available for the most recent exam here shortly, as well.

Up North


The cabin has been foreclosed upon. The family is clearing the possessions out this weekend. I was fortunate enough to get to see the place one last time. Other than some siding on the cabin, the area looks almost exactly the same. I think the neighbor's outhouse is gone now, though.


My grandparents bought the cabin before I was born, though I'm not sure how long before. I remember it as Grandma and Grandpa's place, and only vaguely remember their living in Sterling Heights. The cabin is where we went to visit whenever we went back to Michigan.

I remember visiting when I was seven, being afraid that there might be Indians on the other side of the lake - if I listened really hard, I could hear the drums beating. At night, I thought they might try to attack.


I remember being chased by friends carrying toads (I'm not a reptile/amphibian fan).

I remember a thunderstorm when I was 10. A bolt of lightning struck right between our cabin and the one next door.

I remember reading a story in Reader's Digest about the New Jersey Devil and trying to get myself to sleep that night, afraid he might have decided to take a vacation to West Branch.

I remember fishing, and catching fish, mostly bluegill with the occasional pike. I also remember scores of pounds of grass pike. I remember catching our dinner.

I remember rowing out all over the lake.


I remember Toutant's General store, where I bought my first fishing lure.

I remember going out to the middle of the lake on that old raft and swimming, feeling the lake weeds with my toes.

I remember running in the woods, playing with friends. I remember Uncle John taking us to Elk Lake bar and getting us Shirley Temples (we were 12).

I remember my first trip to Lost Lake. I was 15. I didn't catch anything. I didn't do much other than row over there and see it.

I remember the feeling of really being away from "it." I remember not having any worries there. I remember spaghetti on every trip. I remember "shit, Earl."

I was only at the cabin for about 16 hours this weekend, but I remembered every trip I'd spent there. I know how unlikely it would have been for myself and my wife and kids to ever get back to the cabin, let alone often enough to justify wanting to keep it, but when I heard the family was losing it, I couldn't help but feeling that way. The good news is that the memories of the place are all fond. And for that, I'm glad.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bittersweet Michigan

I'm back in Michigan. It's my first trip here this century.

It's not the Michigan I remember, but I will always remember the state fondly. Perhaps, in a way, it's better that we left before the hard times really hit the state; that way I can always remember Michigan in a positive light.

I went and visited my Uncle this evening; we went out to dinner at Elias Brothers' Big Boy. This is something I have to do any time I come to Michigan; it's like Steak n Shake in Indiana or Carl's Jr. in CA - it's something I have to do. I was very glad to get to see my Uncle again; it's been quite a long time.

Tomorrow I have a deposition. This was the reason for the trip. I'm looking forward to getting done with the deposition, though - I get anxious before any depositions - there's a lot to think/worry about. Still, it's experience that I can use, and I'm glad for it. Hopefully this one will go well.

After the deposition, I'm off to the cabin for one last time. This is a bittersweet moment for me. We have such fond memories of the cabin on Mud Lake that to see it lost hurts, though I know I wouldn't be getting up there much anymore to take advantage of having it. I guess I'm missing the opportunity to go back; to take my children out there to go catch turtles, go fishing, hike in the woods, get spooked out in the thunderstorms... Someday I will have my own cabin to take my children to.

Anyway, it's time to get back to work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Great Big Who Cares

There's been a bit of a hubbub this morning about how much the Republican Party spent on Sarah Palin's clothes during the campaign. The charge is that spending over $150,000 on clothes, makeup, and hair is somehow egregious because our economy is in shambles, and that this somehow shows how out of touch she and the Republicans are.

Let me just say this: I don't care.

She is a vice-presidential candidate, and in this day and age, appearance matters, and that includes dress and makeup.

I could not care less about this as an issue. And I think the majority of Americans would probably agree.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

While we're on the subject of rants

Can we complain a little bit about all the polls being released? At what point does it stop being an objective look at what the country thinks and start swaying people to vote one way or another?

Instead of posting the most recent poll results, perhaps we could post each candidate's position on NAFTA, or migratory waterfowl hunting, or lifting the embargo on Cuban cigars. That would help people reach their own informed decision. And don't just show the R and D. Show the Libertarians, the Consititutions, the Greens - all of them.

Right Wing Blather

This post inspired by my good friend Just Wondering.

I'd like to call it something else, but that's what I see it as. I'm not laying this on the entire Right side of the political aisle, nor am I laying it on all Republicans. Instead, my focus is on the group of hardcore conservative pundits and candidates and officeholders who have determined that if I don't vote the way they want, I am not a "real American."

Apparently, the only way to be a "real" American to them is to vote lockstep with the Republican party - straight line ticket. Anything less is, well, maybe not treason, but something that "real" Americans don't do.

It doesn't matter that I served 8 years in the military.

It doesn't matter that I am middle class.

It doesn't matter that I worked my way through college (the majority of which while serving in the military, supra).

It doesn't matter that I am a 4th generation Veteran married to the daughter, grandaughter, and sister (all one person) of Veterans.

It doesn't matter what my religion is, or if I have one.

It doesn't matter that I work hard, pay taxes, and registered with selective service.

It doesn't matter that I attended public schools, or that my children attend public schools.

It doesn't matter that many of those who decry me for not running lockstep with their idea of what qualifies me as a "real" American don't fit any of the above.

All that matters is attempting to influence people by alienating one group. That's not "real" America, to me.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breaking Lines

Sarah Palin opposes gay marriage to the point where she would support a Federal amendment barring gay marriage: "I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Consitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that's where we would go. I don't support gay marriage." (from Yahoo news)

Senator McCain believes that matters of gay marriage should remain a state issue.

I prefer Senator McCain's position of these two. I am not opposed to gay marriage. I suppose I would say that I am in favor of gay marriage, but I'm not a fervent supporter; I won't go out marching for it or anything. I oppose marriage amendments because of what they are - attempts to use the tyranny of majority to push agenda aimed at repressing the minority. In my opinion, anything less than gay marriage - "civil unions" or whatever, plays to that role. It becomes a de facto "separate but equal" situation with the clear implications that it's inferior. This is because of the value that all parties involved place on the word "marriage," which is unfortunate because that taints the concept.

I don't agree with the argument that "traditional" marriage is what God intended. That may be, but I don't believe God intended divorces to equal or outnumber marriages in any one year. "Traditionally," women were chattel, conveyed with property. The right to hold title (such as Governor) was unthinkable in "traditional" thought. I don't know that I could support shifting the line enough to benefit me, but then suddenly find my faith and beliefs keep me from supporting equal rights for others.

That said, I would not support an amendment guaranteeing marriage between any interested parties. I don't think that is the proper arena for that determination. If the law is passed, great. If the right is determined to exist, that's fine - it's no more judicial activism simply because it's something Liberals are more likely to support. Ultimately, I believe the determination as to what's right/damnable in a situation like this is something to be determined by a Higher Authority, and if a person makes a life/morality decision, it's not our place to judge them for that. In other words, if gay is a sin, then let God handle the punishment. But mandating it, or prohibiting it through legislation? We've got plenty more we need to deal with.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

CLE Me ASAP

Today we went to church. It's been a while - longer than we should have waited, but it was nice to get back. Today was closer in service to what I'm used to; there were no thanks to us for gathering in "God's living room."

This afternoon, I could be watching football, dozing in the living room. However, the Apple is pretty grumpy because we didn't go to lunch with the Photogs, so to placate him, and give him the opportunity to fall asleep himself, we put on Ferngully, the Last Rainforest. He loves this movie, a gift to The Boy from his aunt. He's watching it now.

I chose to take advantage of my inability to watch football, myself. I am currently listening to my last hour of CLE - Continuing Legal Education - for my mandatory 4 hours of CLE ethics required during my first year as an attorney. This is as boring as whale shit.

But, it has to be done, and I do it gladly.

In Support Of...

Colin Powell endorsed Senator Obama today.

from the Yahoo news article:
"And I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching our all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities - and you have to take that into account - as well as his subtance - he has both style and substance, he has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president."

Mr. Powell also said that he began having misgivings about Senator McCain when he chose Governor Palin as his running mate, noting that the decision of naming her "raised some question" in his mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made.

The first part of Mr. Powell's endorsement is quite similar to what I wrote last night as to why I might cast a vote for Senator Obama. The second part hits precisely why I have stated I am unable to vote for Senator McCain.

I like and respect Colin Powell. I trust his judgment. His endorsement is a strong one, in my opinion.

Overboard

I may not be a fan of Sarah Palin, but for Pete's sake, can we stop using the term "heartbeat away from the Presidency" when referring to her? It's obnoxious and unnecessary.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

So Little Time

It's been pointed out to me that my blog has recently become a repository for what annoys me about Senator McCain's campaign.

Let me say clearly - I do not dislike Senator McCain. Nor do I dislike governor Palin. I do not like them for President or Vice-President based on what I have seen during this campaign.

That said, it does not explain why I would vote *for* whomever I cast my vote for, rather it explains why I am voting against Senator McCain. The short answer as to why I have not explained where my vote is going is because I still don't know. But, I can explain why I would vote for Senator Obama, with a brief explanation of why I would vote third party.

If I were to cast a vote for Senator Obama, it would be for several reasons, some tangible, some intangible. One reason is that I agree with his sentiments on selections for the Supreme Court. Another would be that Democrats tend to be more sympathetic to my line of work, just as Republicans tend to be more sympathetic to my previous line of work.

I have my concerns about Senator Obama. I am not happy about mandated health care, which I view as a negative mark. I don't like that he's been a Senator for a short period of time. I would like to see him pull off a spending increase in a down market with jobs being lost and stick to his promise to reduce or not raise taxes for individuals and families earning less than $200k/year.

I like Senator Obama's apparent moderate temperament. He rarely seems agitated, and he seems to take some time to consider what steps to take in a given situation. Such a nature is something I view as a strength. Senator Obama seems to know what his weaknesses are and how to compensate for them. In the most recent debate, Senator Obama noted the different individuals he would look to to guide his decisionmaking. When he chose Senator Biden as a running mate, according to Senator Biden, Senator Obama's campaign told him that he would be more than a figurehead, that he would be someone whose input mattered. In short, the appearance was that it was a situation where Senator Obama recognized an area where he was weak and selected someone whose qualifications compensated for that weakness.

One thing that I really like about Senator Obama that I've seen is that he calls for action from those he would lead. He promises assistance, but at the same time challenges and imposes a responsibility. Offering financial credit for college in exchange for service, supporting a bailout while noting that people are going to have to tighten their belts.

Part of what I like about Senator Obama is that he has not wilted under pressure. He looks haggard from campaigning, as does Senator McCain, but he still bears the appearance of a man who will consider the situation before acting, weigh options and consider consequences. He seems to understand the concept of "an ounce of prevention." Finally, there is the intangible "something" about him, that indescribable quality that results in your leaning one way or another. Something stronger than a hunch, but not something you can necessarily quantify.

Now, to be fair, part of why I am not voting Republican is because I've been unhappy with the current administration, and I intend to cast a vote in part based on protest. I have been dissatisfied with the decisions Senator McCain has made during the campaign, which strike me as indicative of how he would govern as President, and I cannot vote for that. Furthermore, I am not a fan of the negative campaigning, both through commercials and through rallies, that I have seen from this campaign. However, that does not mean that I will necessarily vote Democrat just to punish the Republican. That plays into the hands of those who would prefer only a two-party system.

Instead, what I may do is vote third party Libertarian again. I like their platform of small government, which once was the calling card of the Republican Party. I like limited government interference. And more than anything else, I like having a different choice. People are dissatisfied with the way both parties have run the country for the past 8-20 years, yet are unwilling to speak with their vote and tell the parties in power that they won't stay that way if they don't get themselves squared away.

Does that help?

Fringe Controlling the Party

Balloon Juice has a link to another Republican attempting to associate Senator Obama with someone evil. Lest you think this is just another fringe guy who isn't part of the Party, consider this - it's the first dude behind the sign:

(Source of picture: Balloon Juice)

The link also contains a snippet report of ACORN members receiving death threats. Classy stuff.

McCain/Palin - putting Country First

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is More Than Just Offensive

Nearly 48 years ago, a young woman, not yet 18, became pregnant in her freshman year of college. Living in a time and place in which abortion was generally illegal, she proceeded to marry the father of her child and gave birth to a son. Perhaps she would have done so irrespective of the abortion laws at the time, even if, say, she lived in a legal culture that celebrated abortion as a fundamental right. Very possibly not.
Words can't quite describe just what is so utterly wrong with this comment from the NRO. First, it presumes (wrongly), that most women who get pregnant out of wedlock just run out and get abortions. Then, it presumes that the only reason Barack Obama's mother didn't get an abortion is because it was illegal, despite the knowledge that abortions were practiced all through American history, whether lawful or unlawful. Additionally, it then presumes that Barack Obama owes his position today significantly to the fact that Roe v. Wade was not in place when he was born. Finally, the article presumes that because Barack Obama believes Roe v. Wade was rightly decided, he is somehow a hypocrite for simply being born. This is beyond irrational; it's absurd.

This is at least as bad as when Tom Delay suggested that illegal immigrants are able to work in America simply because of all the abortions in the last 30 years.

Sarah Palin at it again

Sarah Palin apparently doesn't just not do Press Conferences, but she's not allowed to even watch the news from time to time by her campaign, because it might upset her. (From the Washington Post)

Is Senator McCain allowed to watch the news? Is this some sort of benign sexism, that she can't handle being picked on? She's tough enough to be President, but not hear bad news? WTF?

Sarah made mention of this at a campaign stop in North Carolina, where she mentioned she loved visiting the "pro-America" parts of the country. I haven't seen her; does that mean I'm in the Anti-America part of America? What are the pro-America parts of America? I need to know, as a veteran, I need to make sure I'm in one of them.

Sarah Palin is the best-vetted, most capable, and undoubtedly the lodestar standard bearer of all vice-presidential picks, both past and present.

Why I'm not a Republican

In a nutshell, the current Republican Party is not the party I could support. Perhaps that's because the Party is falling to its fringe. (Source: Balloon Juice)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Third Debate

While I think Senator McCain looked frustrated, angry, petulant, and petty, I do not think it was a knockout for Senator Obama. While he never lost his cool, there were moments where Senator McCain's juvenile attacks did seem to get to Senator Obama. I appreciate that Senator Obama continued to try to get back to issues.

But, if for no other reason, the fact that Senator McCain still seems to believe that Sarah Palin is a good choice for VP, in spite of what's come out in recent vetting and in spite of the fact that she will not give a press conference (unheard of in modern politics, that one who would lead us won't condescend to answer questions with follow-ups), is sufficient grounds to not want to vote for him.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October, Surprise!

The question that is coming back to light, at least for some on the right, is the question of Barack Obama's citizenship.

There is a video out there of a Phillip Berg, a Philadelphia attorney, who has brought suit against Barack Obama challenging Obama's qualification to be President. The charge is that he is not a "natural-born citizen." The rationale? This is threeprong. First, Mr. Berg charges that Senator Obama was not born in Hawaii. Then he suggests that Obama was born in Kenya. Finally, as a "Just in case" charge, Mr. Berg asserts that Senator Obama renounced his citizenship by enrolling in school in Indonesia. His assertions almost seem plausible if you only listen to what he says. But let's look at this a little more closely.

The first issue presented is that of Barack Obama's place of birth. Senator Obama's birth certificate has been made available through his website. It has also been inspected by independent agencies (Mr. Berg implies that factcheck.org is not trustworthy because they are based in Chicago, and Senator Obama represents this part of Illinois), including Politifact. Newsweek has an article on this very topic. In a nutshell, it would take a pretty grand conspiracy to put all this in place, including the posting of a birth announcement in the Honolulu Advertiser in August, 1961 (viewable in the factcheck.org link, above). For some people, though, this will not be enough, in fact, nothing will be sufficient evidence for them. This is where it becomes interesting, because the argument is "All they have to do is produce documentation," which they have done, and which the challengers discount because it doesn't say what they want to hear.

However, just to be on the safe side, let's pretend for just one moment that Senator Obama was not born in Hawaii, but, rather was born in Kenya. Does this mean he is not a citizen by birth? Nope. While the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and 12th and 14th Amendments have been silent on the meaning of "Natural-born citizen," they are abundantly clear on what it means to be a citizen by birth, which is what appears to be generally accepted as the proper criteria for being elected President. There is no Supreme Court case on point, but the writings on the matter suggest that natural born is meant in contrast to a naturalized citizen. The U.S. Code, specifically 8 U.S.C. 1401 covers citizenship by birth. The clause that would pertain here (8 U.S.C. 1401 (g) reads in part:
[A] person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years...
This is what pertains to Senator Obama, as the argument would then have to be that his mother either 1) had not lived in the United States or its outlying possessions for fewer than 5 years, or that 2) at least 2 of those years did not occur after age 14. Essentially, the presumption would be that Senator Obama is a citizen by birth, and the burden to disprove this would be on the part of the movant, in this case, Mr. Berg. To my knowledge, no argument regarding the Senator's mother's places of residence over the years has been made, so, even if Senator Obama were born in Kenya, he's probably still a citizen by birth.

This is where the fallback position comes into play. Mr. Berg has also argued that even if Senator Obama was a citizen by birth, he renounced his citizenship when his family moved to Indonesia and he went to school. This takes some legal gymnastics to understand. The premise is that Senator Obama moved to Indonesia when he was five with his mother and stepfather. His stepfather enrolled him in school. At the time in Indonesia, you could only enroll in school if you were a citizen, which means that Senator Obama's stepfather would have had to have made Senator Obama a citizen of Indonesia. Also at this time, Indonesia did not allow dual citizenship at all, nor did the United States allow dual citizenship with Indonesia, therefore, the argument goes, Senator Obama's citizenship would have to be renounced, or at the very least, automatically revoked, and, upon returning to the United States, Senator Obama would have had to apply for citizenship, in effect becoming a "naturalized" citizen, thus rendering him unfit for the office of the President. You with me? You don't need to be, because all this is crap.

Again, all one needs to do is look at the law. If you go to 8 U.S.C. 1481, you can find the means by which one loses U.S. Nationality:
(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality - (1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years (emphases mine).
In other words, Senator Obama would have had to have wanted to lose his nationality at age five, which he could not do. But it gets better, because, again, Mr. Berg is saying that Senator Obama just needs to show that he is a citizen, but the burden is HIS to show that he lost citizenship:
8. U.S.C. 1481 (b) Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence (emphasis mine).
This is much ado about nothing.

What is interesting about this, is that it is making its rounds now. The question presented by some is "if this is nothing, then why not just provide the documents to show it?" Well, other than the birth certificate that has been shown to be bona fide, the answer might be because there is no need - this is summary judgment territory and Mr. Berg, as an attorney, knows that. But more to the point, this is a question that has been asked about Sarah Palin's and Senator McCain's records as well, and I think it's a valid question that deserves addressing.

What strikes me the most, though, is that this spectre is being resurrected at this time, and that the hopes of the Republican faithful rests in the muckraking done by an ardent Hillary supporter. While this would normally sound off the wingnut alarm in the Right, it's one of the few remaining pieces of ammo left to throw at Senator Obama, and that should not be Right.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Frequent Flyer

I've been on a few depositions now as a first year attorney. They have not been too bad so far. I admit, I have been lucky to not only be put up against partners who clearly know what they're doing, but partners who are respectful and courteous while still zealously representing their client.

I have another deposition on a different docket coming up at the end of this month - Oct. 30. I will most likely be home in time for Halloween, though, with weather in Florida, I won't discount anything. This will be my first trip to the Sunshine State; my wife has been in the past for work; I suppose it's my turn.

This is the only firm deposition we have coming up in the next month for me. I could have as many as 3-5 more on top of that, depending on how the hearing for the CMO goes. That gets into details that don't need to be explained (boring lawyer stuff). These are depositions that I would rather not present, but if they need to go, then they will need to go.

In other news, We got our refrigerator fixed from the hurricane, and our damage from the storm was minimal, literally. We had a couple hundred in food loss, and some wind-driven rain damage to the attic/Apple's ceiling.

We were very fortunate.

Anyone want a vienna sausage? We have scores of them.

This Week's Essay Question

Are the Polls correct with regard to Obama winning the election? Or is this shaping up to be a re-imagining of Dewey Defeats Truman?

Support your answer.

James Madison Once Wrote

"Congress should not establish a religion and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contary to their conscience, or that one sect might obtain a pre-eminence, or two combined together, and establish a religion to which they would compel others to conform." (from this link, which is full of great Madison lines)

The fear, of course, is that a national religion would foster a situation where the government controls the church, or vice versa. This is part of what makes America the great nation it is - people of all faiths and religious persuasions are able to gather together and appreciate their differences while knowing that they are free to believe as they wish free from the coercive effects of a national religion. Some people do not like this idea.

America is a nation founded by Christians. It is not a Christian nation. This distinction is essential for our nation to maintain what semblance of standard bearing we have left.

Using religion as a sword to attempt to wrest political gain is wrong, and the McCain campaign, who would serve as the Executive of the Government for ALL Americans, needs to not attempt to rule by division. It was not wrong to have an invocation prior to the candiate's stump in Davenport, Iowa. What was wrong was the political nature of the invocation, mixing fear of the opposing candidate and fear of "alien" religions into the fray. The invocation included the following passage: "There are plenty of people around the world who are praying to their god, be they Hindu, Buddah, or Allah, that (McCain’s) opponent wins. I pray that you step forward and honor your own name... And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation, because they're going to think that their god is bigger than you, if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name with all that happens between now and Election Day." from Andrew Sullivan). The prayer ended, "In Jesus' name." The message is clear: "Vote for McCain, because he's the Christian who will *properly* run America."

It still stuns me the weakness of faith in so many fundamental Christians that they feel they need the Government's control over their personal choice.

I am a Christian, and I want to believe as I believe, not as the Government would have me believe. My friend is a Buddhist, and I would like for him to believe as he chooses, not as the government would coerce. I want a President who can accept this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

As Charged

The point is not that she was not found guilty of breaking the law. The point is that Sarah Palin was found to have abused her power while in office. This is not what we want in an executive branch member. Rather, this isn't what we want again.

Further proof that she was not thoroughly vetted, and speaking volumes about Senator McCain's decisionmaking ability.

For more on this - read Andrew Sullivan's post, here.

McCain Tries to Tame Flames He Earlier Fanned

This is what a grown up does. I think he and his staff enabled this line of thought, but I am glad to see McCain saying what needs to be said.

Still won't vote for him, but this is the right thing to do.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Judging Sarah

According to this post by John Cole at Balloon Juice (not my best friend from high school John Cole, a different John Cole), the Alaskan Supreme Court will not intervene in the release of the findings of the investigation into the state trooper firing by Sarah Palin.

John Cole Writes: "Tomorrow should be fun."

Part of me thinks this is all much ado about nothing and perhaps there won't be any disastrous findings.

However, the practical side suggests that if there was nothing to hide, then the campaign would not have gone to such lengths to hide it - after all, as Governor Palin has said, when you run for public office, your life is an open book, and as President Bush's enablers have stated - if you have done nothing wrong, then what are you worried about?

The thing is, I would not put this past the campaign: they put up all the smoke to try to conceal what they know is much ado about nothing, thereby showing, when the report indicates what they maintained all along, that their candidate is, in fact, what she claims to be and that the media and the public were all fools for thinking she might be up to no good up there.

It's a very risky gamble, but McCain is a gambler. The question is, if the latter possibility is the case, will the public be so gullible as to believe what McCain's campaign says, that this shows she was a thoroughly vetted, well-considered choice? Or will they continue to believe their own eyes?