Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Evil Monkey with the bloody burrito should have been a clue...


These are your Vegans
These are your Vegans on Crack.
Any questions?


Pokez in San Diego is notorious for bad service, mildly filthy conditions. a seriously cool vibe and food that ranges from average to exceptional, possibly depending on the medication level of the cooks. Love it or hate it, most people just put up with it, because it's A Cool Place To Be. This apparently makes it worth putting up with rude, possibly stoned wait staff and God knows what in the coffee.



But when a rude, possibly stoned waitress allegedly shook and yelled at an autistic child, his father thought the situation to be very uncool indeed.

UPDATE: Coming from Childfree_Hardcore? This is just for you.

Story found at Ballastexistenz.

Autistic child assaulted while ordering food



"Last night, we went with nolly to Pokez, a Mexican restaurant in downtown San Diego. We had to wait about 15 min. to order, and the waitress seemed stressed. It was David's turn to order... he was slow to make up his mind while ordering, and grumpy. Not yelling or anything himself, just cranky. The waitress took this as directed at her, she suddenly snapped. She grabbed his shoulder, shook him, and leaned over and started mocking him, yelling his words back directly in his ear. He asked her to stop, and she grabbed his shoulder and then started screaming in his ear. Screaming that she had had enough and didn't have to work with this. And then she let go, stood up, told the table that she would not serve anyone at the table, and stalked away. He hadn't touched her beforehand... he wasn't even making eye contact, he had been looking at the menu.

We all looked at each other, in shock. After a pause, I got up and went to the manager, behind the register. I politely explained that I had an autistic son, that sometimes he needed a bit of extra time or patience, and did not read body language well. And that his waitress had abused him and refused to serve our table, and that that was unacceptable. I wanted an apology and a different server. But the manager backed up the waitress. He said that she was right, and that if my son was "going to be too much trouble" then we should not let him order for himself in restaurants. That it was our fault for having a child that needed patience or hesitated while ordering, and so we should have ordered for him. And that our party should leave.

James (his teenaged brother) was sullen and blamed David.... we were silent, mostly not believing that this was happening. Eventually went to another place for dinner.

[updates have been posted subsequently... basically, as of Friday evening, I have talked to the local Autism Society, and their attorney several times, have tried twice to file a police report (only could get an "incident report" from the SDPD), and have sent a letter to the local paper (Union-Tribune)]"
I called Pokez myself and asked to speak to the manager. I found that I was, and I asked for their version. The manager (I'm afraid I aspied the name) replied that those present were "being rude" and were ejected for that. She also informed me that the child was "not really autistic" because "Most autistic kids can't speak."

Thank you for all your help, Lennie Schaefer.

However, the only honest way to describe the conversation was "rude and dismissive."

My only other contact was the webmaster for Pokez, who disclaimed any responsibility for pokez, other than hosting the website, but said he'd try to speak to the owner. He did repeat over and over - as if it were a mantra - that if there had been a problem, it should be reported to the police. That didn't make a lot of sense to me at the time, but after seeing multiple alligations that the place is staffed by "crackheads," it begins to make sense. I assured them that it had been He also informed me that Pokez has their own Myspace. I found myself in the strange land of cool kidz who don't give a fuck. (loud music autoplays)

A little too much "attitude," not enough punk ethic if you ask this old punk.

Meanwhile, it's rating on Yelp.com continues to plummet, lawyers keep offering the father of the alleged assault victim representation services and it's turning into the Giant Hairball of Doom. Things should be interesting come Monday.

Asshole vegans pick on suburban NASA employee's kid, because "they don't have to put up with shit." That might just be wishful thinking.

This review, if true, may Reveal All.

Pokez, what a strange place, but sort of a quintessential san diego thing.

First you should know that none of the servers get paid. They work for free. And for tips. Why? I think there are a few reasons. Because working at Pokez is a glamorous job in the mind of young san diego hipsters. And most of the Pokez crew are using drugs (meth, coke, heroin). So that would explain the service.

How the owners get away with this I don't know. Where they find these kids (the staff is continually changing) I don't know. But I would surmise, drugs has something to do with it. And there's always some new naive hipster moving to the environs of downtown san diego.

The food is your basic greasy mexican food. It can be good or bad depending on the cook. Pokez does have a lot of vegetarian options you won't find at other mexican restaurants though.

The atmosphere is kinda like the malt shop on happy days but with a hipster, druggie vibe. And with everyone thinking they are the fonz. I'm always struck by how young the crowd is, and how they seem so out of place in that part of town, like they teleported in from god knows where.

Check it out if you must, its kind of an interesting place.
Bottom line - from all the reviews that came up before this occurred it seems like the story is plausible, and if true could - and should - result in some unpleasant consequences for those involved and those responsible for those involved. And as it happens, people on the spectrum, such as myself, have both a passion for justice and the ability to perseverate until justice takes notice.

And all because a waitress couldn't - you know - actually wait for an autistic child to make a choice.

Karma is a bitch and I love her so.

UPDATE: More here, not so much about the incident per se, as about the ethics of the incident and why it's become such a massive hairball so quickly. I had to get an ethics post out of this somehow.

UPDATE: I got some off the record indications that people connected to this are deeply concerned with what they see as an unfair perception of the business. But I have so far not been contacted in any official, on-the-record way by Pokez management or owners.

UPDATE: The link to the Pokez myspace above has some kind of wierdness - let's try this: http://www.myspace.com/pokezsd

If that gives a 404 error, go to myspace and search for pokezsd and you will find the page; it's still there.

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Evidence of Nonsense

The term Autism has become a vast catch-all for a wide variety of traits that range from those that are functionally incapacitating to those that mildly affect behavior and social interactions. Nobody knows quite what "autism" is, save that it is obvious that it's probably far more than one thing and that it causes a good deal of fear and confusion among parents who are moving heaven and earth to find treatments and cures.

Which is wonderful of course, but it's also terrible.

ScienceDaily: Ped Med: The autism treatment challenge: "'There are no standards for safety in autism treatments,' said Steven Gutstein, psychologist, autism specialist, researcher, child, marital and family therapist and co-director of The Connections Center for Family and Personal Development and of the Relationship Development Research Institute in Houston.

...

'There's not a single study to see if anyone is harmed by the treatment, be it biomedical or behavioral,' Gutstein said in an interview. 'The assumption is both are better than nothing, and the more the better, but there are no data to confirm that.'"


Hey, I have an idea; how about asking an actually autistic person?



"I am not a puzzle, I am a person."

This shirt design supports Autistics.org, autism awareness and neurodiversity in general.




Now notice the language I used. "Autistic Person," not "Person with Autism." Speaking as an Aspie - diagnosable with Asperger's Syndrome - and speaking from my experiences dealing with actual autistics, such as those at Autistics.org, It's pretty common for folk on the spectrum to think of autism/aspergers/whateverthehellitis as something they are, not something they "suffer from" that could be cured.

I'd rather be "cured" of opposable thumbs.

And that with full realization of all the downsides that I and those who love me cope with every single day - much to our blended amusement and frustration.

Interestingly - even astonishingly enough, many full autistics, who seem to suffer quite badly from clearly crippling "downsides" feel exactly the same way; our minds are beautiful places to live, and from our perspective, being able to live fully in a neurotypical world exactly as neurotypicals do seems like a "cure" that is far worse than the "disease."

Oh, don't get us wrong - we'd definitely like the hard parts to be easier - but we'd also like you to notice the things we do well without words like "idiot-savant" being thrown about. "Geek" is somehow better, frankly. Not a LOT better, but at least it's an honest word.

Personally, I prefer "eccentric."

UPDATE: Autism Diva has a great long article up that I'd like you to read. I particularly like these two 'graphs, which illustrate her point rather well - and the one I was trying to make. Autism - and so many other things in life - are much more issues of perception than substance.

Autism Diva is reminded of a caller to the Diane Rehm show when Dr. Grinker was on there promoting his book. The caller said something like: "I'm from a large extended family from Tenessee," (maybe he said, Kentucky) "the behaviors I see in my son, that the doctors call "autism" is just how my family is. No one in my family would have sought out a diagnosis in the past because so many in the family are just like this. It's normal for us."

So it sounds like if you come from a family where lots of the kids spin can lids and stop answering to their names at 12 months, everyone just says, "Yup he's a Johnson, awrighty. Wonder if he'll be able to do that calendar trick like cousin Ted." The caller certainly didn't indicate that the family had a habit of mourning the birth of another of these weird kids, and it's safe to assume that some of the members of the family were quite autistic and others were more like normal-ish, like it is in little Hayden's family.


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Rational Paranoia



Despite my overall optimism about the eventual futility of trying to impose a totalitarian state upon us, it's clear that that for whatever reasons (and I frankly abstain from speculation, as I simply do not care what their alleged reasoning might be) it is becoming prudent to consider taking individual and collective actions to forestall such tragic foolishness.

Call Me Paranoid. Pentagon Creating Red State Officer Corps: "When I get really paranoid, and I look at how the Pentagon enabled Bush to deceive and defraud the US into the Iraq war, when I see how the military is happily helping Bush and company destroy constitutional freedoms, like right to a trial, habeus corpus and privacy... I wonder what advantage there might be to have an army intentionally recruited from the most conservative states. It's not healthy. It counters the American way of diversity. When I'm really paranoid, I think that, like the book, Can't Happen Here, an army of handpicked conservatives from conservative territories would be much easier to manage, much easier to command to get to do things that you and I might find intolerable.

I add to this the recent change in the law eroding Posse Comitatus restrictions in the US and it adds up to some more evidence that the US could be tottering on the brink of totalitarianism. These are just pieces, parts of a big puzzle. But I think it's important to talk about these. I wonder if the German people talked about the ominous developments that happened in Germany before it metamorphosized into a thing of horror. "


Clearly, not enough. And clearly, there are those who think that a general miasma of fear, coupled with intense religious indoctrination can duplicate the remarkably desperate conditions that made Hitler's rise to power possible. But let us also consider what happened to Hitler, militarily, when he tried to invade and control the Soviet Union - a swath of territory of the same approximate size as the United States and Canada.

Consider also that Hitler's war machine hit Russia at the peak of it's capability, with overwhelming individual superiority, superior weapons, superior tactics, against a demoralized and decapitated military and a population that had no love for their government.

It should have been a "cakewalk." And it was. Until they reached Stalingrad - possibly the most comprehensive "fuck you" delivered in military history.

Our military has been sharply reduced in effectiveness, and clearly it's leaders betray no great competence or grasp of either military or social realities. This may well be due to a general exodus of liberal and nonpolitical officers and enlisted personnel - accelerated by purges of officers resistant to the Bush White House line.

The first to be pushed to the door was Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East who suddenly announced that he was accelerating his retirement which would take effect in March. Abizaid, who speaks fluent Arabic, was criticized by some in Washington for being too concerned about Arab sensibilities.

Getting the bum’s rush with Abizaid will be Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq who had called the idea of a troop escalation unnecessary and possibly counterproductive. The New York Times reported that Casey would be replaced in February or March, several months ahead of schedule.

Fred Reed, writing at Lewrockwell.com, predicts that this increasingly delusional officer corps will interact with enlisted personnel who are in full and bloody contact with an unforgiving and futile reality to produce open rebellions.

Above all, they are realists. If the new radio doesn’t work, or Baghdad turns out to be a tactically irresolvable nightmare, the enlisted guys feel very little urge to pretend otherwise. This is why officers do not like reporters to be alone with the troops. And they seriously don’t.

The standard response of the officer corps is that the troops cannot see the Big Picture. (Unless of course the enlisteds say what the officers want to hear, in which case their experience on the ground lends irresistible authority). But the Big Picture rests on the Little Picture. If a soldier sees slow disaster where he is, and hears the same thing from guys he meets from everywhere else in the country, his conclusions will not be without weight. Sooner or later, on his third tour with a pregnant wife at home and seven friends killed by bombs, he will say, in the crude but expressive language of soldiers, “f___ this shit.”

By contrast, officers can’t conclude anything but the positive. There are several reasons. Career officers, first, are politicians. You don’t get promoted by saying that the higher-ups are otherworldly incompetents. An officer’s loyalty is to his career, and to the officer corps, not to the country or to his troops. If this sounds harsh, note how seldom an active-duty officer will criticize policy, yet when he retires he may suddenly discover that said policy resulted in unnecessary deaths among the troops. Oh? Then why didn’t he say so when it would have saved lives?

There is a curious moral cowardice among officers. They will fly dangerous missions over Baghdad, but they won’t say that things aren’t going well. They don’t go against their herd.

Further, and I want to say this carefully, officers often are not quite adults. They can be (and usually are) smart, competent, dedicated, and physically brave, and some are exceedingly hard men. But there is a simple-mindedness about them, an aversion to the handmaidens of introspection, a certain boyishness as in kids playing soldier. A lot of make-believe goes into an officer’s world. Enlisted men, grown up, see things as they are. Officers are issued a world by the command and then live in it.

Of course, that's why God issues sidearms to Sargents - to ensure that when reality fails to impress a butterbar, he may be promoted to Hero, First Class (posthumously.) The author continues, with this trenchant and accurate observation:

Officers remind me of armed Moonies. There is the same earnestness, the same deliberate optimism-by-policy. Things are going well because doctrine says they are. An officer is as ideologically upbeat as Reader’s Digest, and as unreflective. This is the why they don’t learn, why the US is again flailing about, trying to fight hornets with elephant guns. “Yessir, can do, sir.” Well, sometimes, and sometimes not. It is not arrogance, more like a belief in gravitation.
The date for the article is given as Oct. 2, 2006. We wonder aloud why this and many other clues are not being added up by the average American. Karen Kwiatkowski of Military Week provides a chilling insight in her essay, Dead Man Walking.

To imagine freedom from our current foreign policy imbroglio, we step into dangerous territory. It is estimated that 60 million American voters have a financial stake in the military-industrial complex, not counting those who invest in the many American companies that rely on militarism abroad and at home to provide shareholder dividends. As we contemplate a draft, we forget that we really and truly don't need one. Undereducated and underemployed young people may complain, but they don't really count. Increasingly, college students are willing to take any paying job, including one offered in the name of “service' and patriotism. Their parents and grandparents will accept the draft as well, in the name of that societal restructure that Eisenhower warned against, and has now become the norm.

Thus, the dead man walking is not just our increasingly confused and cartoonish Mr. Bush. We see dead men walking in the discredited Republican party, once valued for both fiscal restraint and political seriousness. We find them in the United States Army, and in nearly every office of the E-ring of the Pentagon. We see dead men walking as we watch the young men and women who have been sent to the Middle East to spread “democracy' at the point of the gun, to occupy in a land that will never accept our occupation, and doesn't need it. Finally, here at home, many Americans who otherwise would stand up and act to reject their government instead cower. Because for all of our understanding of the farce, and our recognition of the cure -- leaving Iraq immediately -- too many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, burdened by personal and national debt -- to the tune of $440,000 for every American household. At least 60 million of us truly believe we need that Department of Defense paycheck, that military contract, that service-sector job that sucks greedily at the military-industrial teat.

Thus, Americans of all parties seem to be nastily cheering George W. Bush as he marches into the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil and intending even more murder, more destruction, more breaking of banks and breaking of hearts. Better him than us, we mutter. But we are all dead men walking.

My conclusion is still one of guarded optimism, in part because I do not believe that our military-industrial complex is composed entirely of stupid people. At some point, the gravy train has to end, the smart people take what they have and what they know to get a new train rolling. So very much of that "shock and awe" technology apples to space and energy applications - which are an astonishing opportunity sector - and yet lose none of their inherent defense applications.

This can happen quickly and dramatically - if sixty million Americans realize the power of the retirement portfolio. And that is simply one potential check. Another is even more obvious; that whatever provisions Bush has made to impose his will on the American people by force, that imposition will require the obedience of a cohesive force that is willing to fire on American Citizens. I think that it's not all that likely that there will be such a cohesive response. But in the unlikely event there is an attempt by this administration to suppress increasing public unrest and opposition to his impeachable lunacies, there is this.

The Second Amendment.

TOWARDS A MEEK MILITIA

by Peter J. Mancus, Attorney at Law



12. What is the point of all this? People who will not communicate with like-minded, concerned citizens, those who will not use the First Amendment because they are afraid government monitors their communications and they will be tagged as being a troublesome maverick, to me, do not act prudently.

13. If you ever bought a hunting license, bought reloading equipment or any firearm related product mail order or on a credit card; if you ever wrote a check to a place that sells such equipment; if you received a gun magazine at home; if you ever wrote a politician about a gun or right issue; if you ever wrote a letter to an editor on a related issue; if you ever wrote anything on the Internet; if you ever sent anything via email; or if you ever wore a T-shirt that carried a pro-right message, you have already broken "radio silence". In that sense, you are no longer "incommunicado". Your idea of being discreet so that government cannot detect you, therefore, is to me, at best, non-persuasive.

14. Instead, I submit it is best to adopt SAC's approach: develop the capability to inflict an unacceptable retaliatory blow, flaunt it, show it off, demonstrate it without actually firing anything off. I also think it is best to adopt the Corps' approach: think deeply about developing new tactics and test them. To do that, however, people who fancy themselves to be freedom fighters--leaders or followers or both--have to communicate with one another. Without communication, if you believe in a poor tactic, until you know better, you will try to implement that poor tactic. If you have a great tactic, but will not share it, if and when you die of old age, disease, in a car wreck or are killed by a criminal or a SWAT team, your good idea dies with you.

Mancus's overriding point is that the essence of a civilian militia composed of armed citizens of EVERY state, region, color, and political persuasion is that it is a credible deterrent to those who - like many supporters of George Bush - seem quite willing to participate in a domestic Kristalnacht. The clear intent of the 2nd Amendment is to empower armed citizens to band together in "well regulated militias." The meaning of "well-regulated" was, at the time of the writing - trained, drilled and prepared to use their weapons in both individual and collective self-defense. It did NOT mean "under patent of authority" or some-such. The framers saw such "authorities" as being as potentially dangerous as outlaws and pirates.

An armed society is, I suggest, a courteous society. Like many of my fellow bloggers, I decry the lack of civility and contempt for the rights of the individual that has been displayed both by our government and by the "nattering nabobs" of the Chickenhawk Right.

I believe it's time for those who do not romanticize the gun as a magic penis nonetheless take up the rationalizations of the Armed Right, for those rationalizations and justifications - for that is all the NRA is reduced to - are nonetheless absolutely correct.

Consider, if you will, the potential of a force drawn from the Red States being dispatched to suppress "insurrection" in a Blue State such as California, where "insurrection" might be defined as, say, a Governor taking steps to ensure the security of that state without reliance on National Guard troops who can be redeployed at the whim of the President.

Now let us consider the fact that California is about the size of Iraq, even more urbanized and replete with weapons sources for materials capable of being transformed into weapons and held by those who understand the meaning of the words "I Swear to Uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, Foreign and Domestic."





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Thursday, February 22, 2007

How stupid do you have to be...

...to be a paid conservative columnist at Townhall.com?

THIS stupid.

Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn’t welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they’d welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright “hot”) most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she’s grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her.

There are, of course, NO "ill-favored, grossly overweight" Republican women. At least, not after the DMV opens again on Monday.

All your fat chicks belong to US, Medved!

What sort of amazing, delusional universe do you have to belong to in which this explaination of homophobia would make everyone shrug and say, "oh, well, that's ok then."

Lest I be accused of using "fair use" to distort his overall point - such as it is - I challenge you to read the whole thing without squicking on some level.

The following material is satire. It's sad that it has to be said, but we are occasionally read by those who honestly believe they ARE right because they are Right.

Medved reveals that a certain sort of "social conservatism" is more pathology than policy by, essentially, opening up his personal skull to show us the maggots infesting the necrotic tissue that used to be his brain.

He's proud of their manly tumescence, you see. And he just can't imagine what sort of irrational Scoleciphobic could object to him crooning to the few strays lounging on his pillow in the morning.

Shudder! Liberals allege that some people are born with maggots for brains, but this sort of disgusting behavior is a choice! To choose to celebrate such an unfortunate pathology as a lifestyle, to pick one's nose and hand wiggly examples proudly to horrified friends and colleagues - that is a violation of All Normal Family Behaviors. For the Sake of the Children, this cannot be permitted.

I say we worm him. Worm him NOW! And I'm not afraid to be accused of being "politically incorrect," or even "indulging in hate speech" for saying it, because I know people like Medved hate all those who tell the truth about their deviant maggoty nose-picking fetish.


Hat tip to Spocko via Echidne.

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What he said.

I wish I had something more original to say ... but these folks left me nothing to say other than "Click Here."

Of bloggers and bigots - ThoughtCrimes.org

Making Martial Law easier in the dead of the night.


More On The Unattainable Perfection. Special note for the term "The Guilt Industry."

the view of eating and exercise as a moral or religious enterprise or a competition as to who can get closest to an almost nonexistent thinness without dying, without dying EVER!


Crunchy goodness, every one.

Screw the left and the right - let's get REAL.

Coyote Angry: One Nevada Dimwit's Point of View

We (as in the democratic party) just don't get it. We're so wrapped up in party politics and being on the "right side" of every itty-bitty issue that comes up so as to remain in good standing with the cool kids that we completely forget who it was we were supposed to want to represent. Let me remind you. It was regular people. Not party hacks, not wanna-be blogging mega-stars, not just the all-important and ever snarky Las Vegas pundits and definitely not the ultra-rich and uber-cool folks in Pacific Palisades who do not give a rats ass about Nevadans even on a good day.
A big amen chorus to that - and let's send that out to the Republicans, Libertarians and Greens too. SCREW your ideology! Take those knee-jerk special interest "litmus test" issues off the table. All politics are local, so let us not beat folks up for serving their constituents first and their party second. Most importantly, let us get back to basic, bread-and-butter politics. Tell me what's in it for me, that I should vote for you.



I do care about a woman's right to choose. But that concern is overridden by MY right to choose what is important to me.

I don't happen to be a womb-bearing American, so I'm not even sure I have a right to a vote on this one, assuming one ever comes up. But I've been listening to these arguments since Roe v. Wade and they have not changed a whit on either side; which tells me one thing for sure. Whatever is being argued about, it ain't the issues either side is apparently arguing.

Since that's clearly the case, either talk about what you are really trying to achieve, or shut UP already. The way forward here is less doctrine, more positive and practical outcomes to individual Americans, WHATEVER their political beliefs.

You want universal access to family planning - good idea. YOU want (ideally) no abortions, because Abortion is Bad. I have a hard time arguing that an abortion is anything other than a "least worst" outcome, so I'm all for doing everything possible to provide superior choices to abortion and ideally, no need to consider that final choice at all.

And if the Abortion Debate were actually about abortion, instead of an argument as to who gets to commit an act of social engineering upon which class of despised persons, the debate would have ended at that point of commonality.

I think that this issue illustrates the ethic I wish to speak of better than any other. Good governments exist to expand choices, opportunities and liberties. Bad ones exist to restrict options, compel obedience and restrict liberties.

If the only options presented are to change who is oppressed every four to eight years, any actual liberty, any "right to choose" OR "right to life" is conditional and therefore a despicable illusion.

If this current government were a restaurant, it would have only one menu option - the "Family Values Meal," it would cost three hundred bucks, and it would be peanut based, because "average Americans" aren't allergic to peanuts. (The price of your meal would cover the complementary epinephrine injections to those who might request them.)

We have had far too much of our economy, our personal freedoms and our individual dignity sacrificed at the altar of ideology, despite the constant failure of that ideology to produce anything resembling the results it predicts. And we have to be very sure that we do not replace one set of ideologues with another, equally clueless set of beltway commandos.

I'm a Libertarian, but I'm a realist first. We have governments because we cannot do without them, they do things that cannot be done efficiently or fairly by any other means.

This is not to say that our current government IS efficient, fair, or does anything like what it should be doing as well as it should. It isn't. But then, that's what elections are all about.

I believe that if there is to be a government, it ought to do something useful and beneficial for the people it taxes and governs. I hardly think that to be a controversial idea, either. I've spent a lifetime putting up with being treated disrespectfully by governments, kept waiting in line, being judged on my "worthiness" for benefits, access or even consideration. I have learned - as has every other American - that the less you have to interact with government, the better off you will be.

And yet we pay for the privilege of this system of indignity.

Do you think it's reasonable that you or I have a harder time getting meaningful access to my government than, say, Paris Hilton? For that matter, do you think it reasonable that ANY elected official or functionary realistically has to give such a vapid twit priority over actual tax-payers? Does it seem to you like that's a good use of their expensive time on your dime?

But I'm not saying she should not be heard. I'm saying we all deserve the same respectful consideration as taxpayers that she, as a rich twit with the financial capacity to make some officials life hell, gets because they cannot afford to piss on her Pradas.

I passionately believe that the government that governs least governs best, but there are people and groups, cultures and subcultures, marketplaces and crossroads that need to be lightly, fairly and evenhandedly governed.

Let's not confuse that with "administered" or even "policed." Those might be the means, but they aren't the ends, and a lot of folks confuse the two.

Don't.

There are lots of ways to govern situations that do not depend on saying no and backing that up with force and compulsion. Those should be tools kept in the "sharps" drawer for special occasions.

The best way to govern is to concentrate on outcomes, and then consider the best way - here and now, in this particular community - to get there. That means increasing options, not restricting them. It means putting decision making power in the hands of the consumer of services as much as possible, and if not possible, as close to them, physically and hierarchically as possible.

As I write, I'm listening to re-runs of the Carson City Speachification on CNN and everyone I've heard has had good things to say. Of course, after years of listening to Clinton, Gore, Bush and Kerry, Tickle me Elmo would be a relief. It was nice to see some people throwing down and using words like "wrong" and "mistake" and "morality" and suchlike.

But I'm yet to be convinced that these are more than words.

Everyone there wanted out of Iraq. But few spoke about "Then what?"

But they are all on point about energy independence, universal health care, un-assing from Baghdad, at the very least and fixing education so that it prepares kids to work in the 21st century instead of the 19th.

This seems like a plan and about all I could expect in a few minutes, but I expect specifics in the next couple weeks, although Joe Biden gave us some good stuff on Iraq and education.

I missed Obama's bit, and I'm disappointed at that. I am convinced of two things; I will not be supporting Hillary Clinton or Dennis Kuchinich. One other candidate - and I misremember which - made a very serious point; the next president will have ZERO margin for error and I think both are predisposed to make some serious, ideological mistakes and diplomatic gaffes. I don't think Clinton realizes that this is not just more politics as usual - and more importantly, I think she's needed more in the Senate, and can do more there better and longer than she could as a highly controversial President.

Kucinich - well, he came across as a smug jackass; I found myself offended by his "no strings" stunting, because, well, he DOES have strings. And any politician who forgets he's beholden to them what brought him to the party ain't the sort of person who's got the judgment to be president.

Besides, it would be a waste of a perfectly good rabble-rousing ringtailed sumbitch. I want him in a position where he can kick ass, take names and not worry about being Mr. Popularity. I think he's my choice for Energy Czar, because I think he's probably not as vital to the senate as Sen. Clinton. On the other hand, he's a committee chair in the process of kicking ass and taking names, so maybe I should rethink that thought.

But it's not just the big names that are interesting. It's the small candidates that bring some of the more interesting ideas to the party. For instance, I was a little stunned when hard-line Liberal and dark horse candidate Mike Gravel came out with a proposal to eliminate the IRS and replace the IRS with a sales tax and a "prebate" covering the necessities of life.

It's not a bad idea, actually, and it's hardly original - but it's just so not socialist; it's a minarchist solution - if you grant that there is a need for social spending and non-Straussian views of poverty and welfare.

I happen to feel that's painfully obvious. But solution that just happens, with no ear-flappers or administrivia involved? No review committees? No preferences? No paperwork? Where's the socialism?

He's also an advocate of Direct Democracy. I'm not sure what I think of this yet - I need to read it instead of just skimming but while the man IS a flaming liberal and gloriously unapologetic about it, he's not a moonbat. Again, not presidential timber - too old, and we need two terms for sure. But definitely worth thinking of as cabinet material. And I'm starting to change my mind about this two year-long election cycle, because I'm sure glad I tripped over him.

Anyway, while I cringe at the idea of two years of unabated politics, THIS time, we have a LOT of thinking aloud to do as a nation and a people. I'm starting to thing that in these exceptional circumstances, two years is barely enough, and I suppose I must resign myself to doing my duty as a citizen. Indeed, so long as a single American is at risk due to the irresponsible choice of this as yet unimpeached president, I can do no less.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Britney Spears, Rehab & Craig Fergusun, from the heart.

Brit goes into rehab after a spectacularly public meltdown and Craig Ferguson refuses to make jokes about it. Kudos to Fergie and good luck and a virtual hug. (if acceptable)
St. Paul Pioneer Press | 02/21/2007 | Britney is in rehab: "Britney Spears entered rehab Tuesday after a bizarre weekend that included shaving her head and getting a new tattoo. Spears' manager, Larry Rudolph, told People magazine's Web site that Spears, 25, had voluntarily checked herself into an undisclosed treatment facility. 'We ask that the media respect her privacy as well as those of her family and friends at this time,' Rudolph was quoted as saying."

I wasn't planning on blogging today, I still feel like used dog food - and told I smell somewhat like it as well. So next stop, bathtub.

But this clip came up on GMA as my wife was preparing her mind for the day. Ordinarily I'd have a punchline for that setup, but they get a free pass just for putting it up.

Her quote "I love him even more now." Craig is her favorite late night host and she watches him whenever her schedule allows. I have to agree - and his stock has gone up considerably in my eyes with this monologue.

Can't say my respect for the studio audience went up, though. They were all so sure that this was all a set-up for a crushing put-down.

But he didn't go there. And on his next show, it was "I hear Britney Spears has gone into rehab. Good for her. That's it, that's all I'm going to say" or words to that effect.

So I tracked it down, in case you had missed it- CBS gets props for putting the clips up themselves, though I wish they'd allow the embed code.

You see, I blog about ethics. And Craig's monologue was about being an ethical comedian, of considering the role of the jester in society and going after people who deserve to be taken down a peg or two. It's easy going for the cheap laughs, it's easy to add to someones misery by putting the mockery they are suffering in the tabloids onto television. It's so easy that those of us who live by the pen sometimes deserve to be whacked with it.

Hell, I've profited by Britt myself - that gawd-awful statue of her, pregnant on a bearskin. I still get traffic from that post! (and was shocked to find just how much I've gotten in the last few days!)

In preparing for this article, I found her being reviled online for her lack of underwear and pubic preparation, for being a "skank," a "whore" and a great deal worse - by genetic republicans who think they got a gawdamn fust 'mendment right to check out her - and I quote - "meat flaps."

Those same folks will be showing up in their Pentecostal churches come Sunday to hear a hellfire sermon about how all this proves that women who do not accept the guidance of a "good man" - like Herr "meat flaps" - are doomed to hellfire and deserve all the harsh treatment as "loving correction" for their sinful ways.

Well, if I'm going to be preached at, I prefer Colin's credentials to those of anyone else. He's in the been there, done that and remembers enough of it to tell you that you need to take a hard turn now, because the bridge is out, girlfriend.

I too have been there and done that; I too have been misused by people - and for a lot less money than you have.. You'd be amazed at how little money needs to be at stake for some people to screw you over; some apparently do it just for fun - and the only way they can get in a position to do it and then get away with it is to betray your trust and shatter your self-image so badly that, frankly, you will seem too crazy to take seriously.

But those who have been there and done that aren't so easily fooled, and we say welcome to the club, darlin'. You hit the wall hard and public. That's actually a good thing; you won't have to make any excuses or think you have to pretend to keep up appearances.

Being crazy for a time is a hell of a lot better than being stuck on stupid for life.

Fortunately, you have two of the best reasons in the world to unwind your shit and deal with it. You have money which can buy you time and privacy. You don't actually NEED to work on anything that pays money. You need to be working on you. Trust me when I tell you, putting this off with drugs, with alcohol, with work, with relentless activity is just gonna make you go "pop" again, and again until you take the time.

Now, your professional friends will be suggesting all kinds of radical quick fixes - so the gravy train will keep on rolling. Don't listen to them; listen to the folks who are your real friends. And also sisten to the folks like Craig and me, who give a damn because we honestly know how some part of what you are going through must feel like, because I wouldn't wish your real friends to have learned what we have. It's not easy, or quick to get through stuff like this - but it's possible and it's not just worth doing to survive, it's worth doing because in the end you will be a better person for it.


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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, please Jesus, SOMEONE take them!

From the "and you thought Islamist Fanatics were scary stupid department."

LiberalsMustDie.com - Reports Coming In That Iran War Beginning!!! YES!!!

This could be the beginning of the End Days!!

"We are beginning to move aggressively to try and identify and root out the networks that are involved in helping to bring Iranian-supplied [bombs] into Iraq," Gates said. If you can't solve Iraq, enlarge it. While you were sleeping, the war with Iran might have begun.

I am so excited!

Take me Jesus, I am ready for you to come back to Earth!!

Supid is as stupid does...

The sort of people who star in this clip can be found here, at "liberalsmustdie.com".

If your entire premise is that "liberals must die," because your faith and beliefs cannot stand against a few pointed questions and a hard rain of facts - you are too damn stupid to breed, much less teach children.

Of course, us Libertarians may argue about Evolution, but we have great faith in Social Darwinism! A little too much, truth be told, and there's history behind us; there's any number of examples of wacky bible cults such as what infest our Body Politic at the moment that went down the toilet after the millennium-before-last.

Of course, if you really want to understand these folks - read their literature, and the folks that advertise in it, and who buy those sucker mailing lists.

Anyway, the hard core 6000 year creationist world view is depedant upon a literal - sort of - reading of the King James Bible - the most beautiful and least accurate translation there is. We have come a long way and found quite a few more original sources than King James's translators had.

Even IF I grant the "inerrency of God's Word" as presented in the King James - just for the sake of argument - I sure as hell do NOT grant the unspoken assumption of "inerrnency of comprehension" that's clearly being claimed. The folks depicted are clearly those who could not be trusted to assemble a bicycle from the instructions.

But let us go one step further. If you believe the Word of God is true, maybe you should actually take it at it's word. When it's silent on a topic, maybe YOU should be too. But these folks rely heavily on the Doctrine of Original sin - which is not explicitly in the bible. That was St. Augustine's bright idea. In fact, the various stories of Genesis have no conclusions to them, no explicit "moral." They are supposed to provoke questions, not supply definitive answers.

Further, if you are looking for condemnation of homosexual behavior, you will find the Bible a week reed. It's prohibited for "a man to lie with a man as a woman," which is in the Levitical code, and is apparently as tortured a phrase in Hebrew as it is in English. The law of Parsimony suggests that if God had wished to say that he disapproved of men having sex with men, he could have said so. Social context suggests that this was a prohibition of engaging in sex with Caananite temple prostitutes and priests - who apparently dressed as women. As for Lesbianism - the bible says not word one. Well, unless you read The Book of Ruth in a certain way, in which case it might be advocating committed same-sex relationships.

The "sin of Sodom" - google that for any number of perspectives - is most persuasively, from both text and culture, the abuse of strangers under the protection of Lot's household. At the time and even today, hospitality is sacred, an issue of importance beyond almost any other cultural imperative. hospitality and shelter were matters of survival.

I have immense respect for the Bible - and the Word in general. But I have far, far less faith in my fellow person's ability to read than I do in God's ability to write. Hell, that's a major theme with the Prophets. Where do these folks get the idea that their wackadoo world view, only vaguely connected to the Bible - is the result of any special understanding of God's Word? Because it's a truly "special" understanding, worthy of the "short bus." Don't take my word for it - ask any serious theologian. Or better yet, study a few dead ones; they aren't likely to be biased against these folks.

I commend to you St. Julian of Norwich. And I ain't even a Catholic. But then, more than a few of the catholic hierarchy of the day would have called her anything but "Catholic."



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Missing in Action

My apologies for my absence this week. I don't have any co-bloggers to cover for me, and I've been too sick to even work on spiked articles. That's how I missed yesterday's radio show too. I was too sick to even fake it.

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