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?

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


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.


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 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 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?

Cast a Blind Vote

I have mentioned before that I cannot vote for Senator McCain. In part it's because of the rashness of his decisions and the inability or unwillingness to own up to them. Perhaps the best example, certainly the one that shut the McCain door for me, is that he chose Sarah Palin for Vice President. He is so certain that she's the best choice, that he doesn't think we need to find out what her positions are, other than what she parrots in stump speeches. What Sarah Palin needs is to give a press conference. She needs to be made to answer questions - answer them, not evade them. And she needs to be made to answer follow-up questions.

This is not "gotcha journalism," this is assisting the public in casting an informed vote.

Senator McCain's Campaign, however, would have caught in a game of "Gotcha Vice-President." The premise of this is that he vetted her completely, and therefore we need to trust him on his decision. I've explained numerous times why I can't do that, but to add to that, let's remember the last time we elected someone who asked us to trust him on issues that affected millions of lives without giving us the complete details. What Senator McCain hopes, I guess, is that we will trust his instinct, and then when he's elected, who cares what skeletons are in her closet, as she will already be in office...

And he worries that we don't know enough about Barack Obama.

"The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong"

In January, 2001, President Bush took office with a Dow Index of nearly 11,000. In 7 years of tax cuts, deficit spending, artificial inflation of stock prices through gimmickry and stealing from the coffers of our children, the Dow closed today at 8579, almost a 40% decline from the artificial high at the beginning of the year.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not do this. They didn't help, but they didn't do this. Deregulation, poor planning, deciding to delay the inevitable in hopes that the crash would come to the next person to take office, over 2/3 of a decade spent on war economy and deficit spending, increased spending with decreased income through tax revenue - this is what did this.

For those Dittoheads who wait for Rush to tell you what to think, I'm sure you will find an easy way to blame Barney Frank - we know he's the one behind ALL of this. He's the one who held the Republican held congress hostage and FORCED them to not look into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But for those who choose to think, it's easy to see that not just one person is responsible for this, but rather a party line and its 8 years' worth of elected enablers that led to this.

Understand that I am not absolving the Democrats in general or Barney Frank specifically, as I do not have the complete set of information. However, rather than finding a solution, we have finger pointing and political posturing on one side, while the other remains silent while weighing what is in store. At least, I hope that's what he's doing. We know the other guy isn't.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Country First

Senator McCain, as recently as 3 weeks ago, was chiming in about how the candidates need to put country first. As such, he reported, he was going to suspend his campaign to go to Washington and fix the economic crisis and he wasn't going to leave until there was a deal in place. That was leadership, he said. That was putting the country first.

Of course, as most people know, he didn't suspend his campaign. He continued to air commercials. He met with donors. He lied to David Letterman. (all three above sources from Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish). And of course, he did not keep said "suspension" in place until there was a deal. No, instead, he attended the debate he thought he could posture into postponement.

Senator McCain apparently has decided to stop showing how he would put his country first, and instead decided to put Obama in the crosshairs. Yesterday, the well-vetted, best-possible-choice for vice president in the entire Republican party (From BoingBoing)was out attacking Barack Obama with a well debunked smear. She has also resurrected the spectre of Reverend Wright, (Minneapolis Star Tribune article) apparently not recognizing that this tactic was denounced by Senator McCain (LA Times) just a few months ago. Of course, at that time, Senator McCain was not certain that Senator Obama would be his opponent in the election, so perhaps what is acceptable has changed with the circumstances.

Part of Senator McCain's problem is that he's representing a damaged brand. Fair or not, his party is taking the brunt of the blame for the financial crisis. He's also saddled with being in near lockstep with an historically unpopular incumbent. But it goes beyond that. The first problem is his schizophrenic campaign. First it was experience, then it was change, then it was country first, then it was the "original maverick," and now it's Obama - not fit to lead. It is difficult for people to get behind a leader who can't follow one plan.

This follows Senator McCain's reckless behavior of late. From "We're all Georgians now" to his selection of Sarah Palin to his "suspension" of his campaign, what we see is a man who shoots from the hip without thinking about what to do next, and that's how we damaged our international reputation and got ourselves mired in two wars in the first place.

That's not going to stop the attacks, though. Senator McCain today attacked Senator Obama, (from Time) as well, stating "For a guy who's already written two memoirs, he's not exactly an open book. It's as if somehow the usual rules don't apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that." As Andrew Sullivan points out - Senator McCain and Governor Palin are not open books either (also here, from, despite their insistence that their opponents be (see the Time article above and this article from The New Republic).

Even Senator McCain's and Governor Palin's attacks don't necessarily make sense, as so many of the topics share common ground with their own foibles. Senator McCain, who has attacked Senator Obama regarding regulation in the current financial crisis (H/T The Gun Toting Liberal - I still read ya daily), was clearly involved as a member of the Keating Five (From Wikidpedia) where he pushed to avoid regulation while an investor and donor fleeced the S&L out of billions of dollars. Sarah Palin has her own wingnut minister (again from Andrew Sullivan - the man knows where to find his stuff) and is on record stating that Iraq is a task from God (From the Moderate Voice). McCain staffer Rick Davis has been on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's retainer list (From Obsidian Wings) for 2 years, doing virtually nothing for the money, this is much more well documented than anything linking Obama to Fannie and Freddie in a nefarious manner. The inability to recognize (or unwillingness to care about) how the attacks reflect problems of his campaign members' past underscores his rash nature and reflects on his ability to lead in a calm, rational manner.

Senator Obama has his problems, as have been shown during his campaign against Senator Clinton and as will be shown in the next 4 weeks. But of the two major candidates, he's the one who has kept a level head during the past several weeks, and he is the one who definitely looks the better man. If I vote for a major candidate (and not third-party), it will not be for Senator McCain.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Saturday Night

Last night, the Princess had a slumber party she went to. She apparently had a lot of fun. The wife's good friend came over to visit, and brought her youngest with her. This was good, because The Boy and the Apple got to play with the guest, while the adults learned how to play Pinochle.

I had never played before, but I had heard from several different sources that it was a great game to play. The rules are complicated to learn by yourself (we took our rules from Wikidpedia, which has 3 handed pinochle rules, which is what we played, as well as the others), but we persevered and have our house version of Pinochle now.

As I understand it, there are any number of variations of Pinochle, not unlike Spades, and that is part of what makes it entertaining.

I lost. But I had fun. And that's good when you're learning a new game.

Now if I can just remember the melds.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Pounding on the Table

There's an old lawyer saying: "When the law is on your side, pound on the law. When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. When neither is on your side, pound on the table."

Senator McCain's campaign, clearly running out of gimmicks and apparently unable to mount a credible campaign that can legitimately distance itself from the Bush Hindenburg, has decided that it needs to spend the rest of its time until the election in negative campaign mode. The first salvo came from ethics investigatee Sarah Palin (the campaign is now making an emergency appeal to the AK Supreme Court to intervene and delay the "troopergate" investigation reports until after the election). Governor Palin stated that Barack Obama seems to see the United States as being so imperfect that he is "palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." (Source: the AP) The article also notes that Senator Obama served on an advisory board with the subject of this statement and denounced said board member's past activities.

You know, 8 years ago, I had some respect for Senator McCain. I never knew Sarah Palin until 5 weeks ago, so I couldn't have had too much respect for her, other than to respect that she was elected governor of Alaska in her early 40s.

But these are desparate times, and if you can't win with lies and obfuscations, and your one trick pony doesn't change the game, then I guess there's nothing wrong with slinging all the mud you can, not unlike the last two Administrations. But then again, isn't McCain supposed to be a maverick?

This is not leadership. This is pathetic.

Flirting for Votes

The first time I saw Sarah Palin wink during the debate, I thought to myself "Did she really just wink during a debate where she's trying to convince us she's a serious choice for Vice President?" I could not believe someone auditioning for one of the top roles in the country would attempt to flirt with the public in such an obvious manner. It seemed incredible to me.

But, apparently, for some people, it worked. Like for the National Review's Rich Lowry:
I'm sure I'm not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think she just winked at me." And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.
We don't need a cheerleader in the White House. We need a real leader.

Working For a Living

I went to Massachusetts last week. I had a Deposition in Shrewsbury, which is right near Worcester. It went all right, the opposing counsel and the medical provider's counsel and I were all rather civil together. It sort of reminded me of the old Looney Tunes cartoon with the coyote and dog that are friendly to each other, punch in to work, and then spend the time doing what they need to do, then punch out and are friends again. That's how depositions should go. Listen, you don't need to be an asshole to zealously represent your client. Be civil to the opposing counsel, (but don't let them steamroll you).

Anyway, the deposition, as I mentioned, was in Worcester. I've not been to Worcester before, but I have made a few trips to Boston in the past. I really like the area. Gorgeous scenery, the song "Life in a Northern Town" ran through my head as I drove through Worcester. Old buildings; you can feel the history.

I found out that Worcester is not the nicest city to be in. I didn't realize this. I also didn't really have any problems there, myself. I ate at a restaurant called Northworks, which looked like it was in an old converted factory. Great food. I would go back.

I need to take my family up to Boston for a few days; do the sightseeing thing. And, of course, eat at the Bull and Finch. But that's for another time.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Cheney Litmus Test

I first read this at Andrew Sullivan's blog here. The question was posed to both VP nominees by Katie Couric, what were the best and worst things done by VP Dick Cheney?

Senator Biden on Cheney's worst:

I think he's done more harm than any other single elected official in memory in terms of shredding the constitution. You know --condoning torture. Pushing torture as a policy. This idea of a unitary executive. Meaning the Congress and the people have no power in a time of war. And the President controls everything. I don't have any animus toward Dick Cheney but I really do think his attitude about the constitution and the prosecution of this war has been absolutely wrong.
Senator Palin on Cheney:
Worst thing I guess that would have been the duck hunting accident--where you know, that was an accident. And I think that was made into a caricature of him. And that was kind of unfortunate. So the best thing though, he's shown support, along with George W. Bush, of our troops. And I've been there when George Bush has spoken to families of those who have suffered greatly, those who are serving in the military. I've been there when President Bush has embraced those families and expressed the concern and the sympathy speaking for all of America in those times. And for Dick Cheney to have supported that effort of George Bush's, I respect that.
The VP nomination is, quite seriously, style vs. substance. We don't need winking and "aw shucks" mentality. This country doesn't need a Vice President (or, for that matter, a President) who is a cheerleader. We need a real leader.

And we definitely don't need someone who admits that one of their goals is to "bleed" executive authority over to the other two (coequal) branches - from ThinkProgress.

Sarah Palin, the Symbol

Understand that I do not dislike Sarah Palin. I don't know enough about her to dislike her. There are things about her behavior since she's been nominated that I don't like, and I don't like the nomination of her. More to the point, her nomination represents a short sighted gimmick that was not well thought out, well planned, or, as it seems, well executed. She was not ready for the spotlight the McCain camp put her under. She might someday, but right now, she's in way over her head and it shows in her "interviews" and it showed in her debate. The fact that the campaign fought so hard to keep "troopergate" from coming out is telling, as is the absolute refusal of the campaign to allow her to take part in any press conferences where she would have to answer follow-up questions.

Her nomination represents the McCain Campaign's impulsive, reckless decision making process. We cannot have another administration that makes decisions before considering the effects of those decisions. It's like jumping into a lake and then realizing you don't know how to swim. Even worse is that he seems to be taking every opportunity to deny the people the chance to learn about Governor Palin to decide for themselves if she's the best choice for Vice President. The audacity of us! He said she was great, that should be good enough for us.

If he's not going to allow us to gauge his decision-making now, when he's applying for the job, then why should we expect anything different when he's in office if we give him the job? We cannot afford this.

This inability to make reasoned, calculated decisions, or to admit when you've made a mistake - this is what Sarah Palin represents. And this is why I cannot support Senator McCain for President.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Vice-Great Debaters

In my opinion, Senator Biden won tonight. He managed to make a case for Senator Obama and himself and against Senator McCain. He did so without attacking Sarah Palin, that I could see (I did not watch the entire debate, so cannot speak to the entire body). He gave examples, he connected with the audience.

What I saw from Governor Palin did not alter my view of her - not because I dislike her (I don't), but because she did not provide concrete answers to guide me toward why I should vote for her. She would respond to a question with talking points that were at best tangentially related to the question, and seemed to resort to folksiness when she was stuck (god bless ya, there ya go, Joe, etc.). Perhaps the reason why she couldn't give more direct or concrete answers is because she's such a devout Christian, and as we all know, the Devil's in the details.

Governor Palin was clearly overmatched in this debate, and her charm could not carry her through. Even if it had won the moment, it's much like cotton candy - it looks like there's a bunch there, but looking back, you wonder what it all was.