Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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I’d say this is at least slightly disgusting.

30 July 2008

So I imagine we’ve all had at least one bad experience with a teacher or administrator during our high school years. But I don’t think anything I’ve experienced has come close to this:

On Friday, September 21, 2007, and Monday, September 24, 2007, Davis suspended eleven students, including Gillman’s cousin, for five school days each as punishment for their involvement in the “Gay Pride” movement. As grounds for the suspensions, Davis explained that the students belonged to a “secret society” or “illegal organization” forbidden by school board policy; had threatened to walk out of an assembly; and had disrupted the school. Davis told the mother of a student whom he had suspended that he could secretly “send her [daughter] off to a private Christian school down in Tallahassee” or to the juvenile detention center and that “if there was a man in your house, your children were in church, you wouldn’t be having any of these gay issues.”

Holy, fucking, shit.

This is happening? In public fucking schools? Where does this guy get off saying that to anyone? Seriously, I don’t care what your moral compass points to, this is NOT his job. Oh, and it gets better.  They have some “gay issues” at the school, right? So what better to do than bring in a preacher to conduct a ‘morality assembly’. Seriously? What happened to good-old fashioned “Don’t Smoke” assmeblies?  I’m farily certain that our public schools are not supposed to be preaching radical Christianity, are they? And then, when the students begin to gain support for their own gay pride movement. What does this asshole decide to do?

Davis embarked on what can only be characterized as a “witch hunt” to identify students
who were homosexual and their supporters, further adding fuel to the fire.  He went
so far as to lift the shirts of female students to insure that the letters “GP” or the
words “Gay Pride” were not written on their bodies

Uh, excuse me. So we have a principal who: 1.) berates students for living differently than he himself does, 2.) brings in preachers to spew hatred against a certain group of students and 3.) lifts up girls shirts to make sure that “gay pride” isn’t written on their bodies?
I am fairly certain all of those things are wrong. Luckily, the court’s ruling seems to agree with me.  Still, this man has serious problems. None of this should ever happen in public schools, but when you let dimwitted local school boards control almost everything, you get crap like this. How did the board let this go either unnoticed or unpunished for so long? Oh, wait, they didn’t let the students form an organization, they said it would “disrupt the educational process” and that such a group was an “illegal organization” prohibited by School Board policy. Uhm, no.

I think the author of Dispatches puts it best: “Apparently the school board attorney got his degree from Billy Bob’s Law School and Bait Shop. They could sue that idiot for malpractice for being that utterly clueless of the law. There’s no point in quoting the court’s legal conclusions; if ever there was an open and shut case, this was it. The plaintiff’s brief could have just said “DUH” in big letters on it and they would have won.”

And yet these are the people in charge of educating our (future) children? We’re fucked.

Full ruling here.

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A little bit of Schadenfreude

27 July 2008

It’s been a little bit of a while since I’ve written last. I was hit again with another bout of illness, this time Strep throat, which has pretty much left me useless for the past few days. So I’ll be back to normal soon enough, and hopefully writing more. I have quite a bit to write about, including shadowing and probably something about my upcoming trip to Montréal. But, right now I turn to everyone’s favorite topic, gas prices.

I really hope I’m not the only one who feels this way, but I am in some ways happy that gas prices are so high, and am in some ways hoping they continue to rise. Sure, it’s not exactly fun to pay $4+ per gallon for anyone, but maybe, just maybe this will spur some sort of change in this country.  There are pretty much three things that I hope will come from a continual rise in gas prices. Sadly, I would say almost all of them seem unlikely to happen in this culture.

The first is an increase in funding towards alternative forms of energy, both for vehicles and for buildings.  Perhaps if gas prices rise high enough and stay there (which, once they are there, they seem to remain) the public will begin demanding that our government look into cleaner, more efficient, technologies.  This is unlikely though, because conservatives will paint it as wasting tax-payers money when we could just be drilling for gas off-shore or in ANWR, despite the fact that neither of these solutions offer what people want: lower gas prices(1). That said, I don’t imagine many people fighting for increasing government funding of cleaner technologies like wind-generated electricity when what we “need” are lower gas prices. I imagine an outcry of “FEDERAL GOVERNMENT – FUNDING “WIND” ELECTRICITY WITH GAS PRICES AT $4.00 PLUS – WHERE ARE THEIR PRIORITIES”. I guess a guy can dream though.

The second reason I (somewhat secretly) hope gas prices go up is that perhaps it will spur more people to use cleaner methods of transportation, whether public transport, walking, or bicycling.  Of course there are many rural areas where public transport isn’t prevalent. Still, even these rural areas have local stores that provide essentially the same products as big supermarkets and that are usually within walking or biking range. My hope is that high gas prices make people realize that they don’t have to go so far to get lettuce, especially now that a lot of small towns have local farm stands (my small town has at least two) where all sorts of fruits and vegetables are sold.   While there are obviously sometimes when you’ll need to drive, for a lot of daily necessities, there is no reason to drive when you can walk or bike. Sure, it might not be as easy or convenient as driving, but it’s both more money in your pocket, and less pollution.  Still, I don’t see much of this happening unless gas prices keep rising because a lot of habits are hard to break. If you ALWAYS drive to City X that’s 15 miles to buy your groceries, it’s probably not as easy to just start walking or biking somewhere closer. Of course, this wouldn’t be such an issue if we had clean electricity (ie. Wind power, and even nuclear if it’s done correctly) and more electric cars*.

The third reason is where the schadenfreude comes in. This may sound a bit petty, but honestly, I hope gas prices stay where they are or go up so all the assholes who flaunt their Hummers with license plates that say things like “5 MPG” get screwed over every single time they fill up to take the kids to soccer practice. Whatever happened to using a mini-van for that, seriously. Maybe that will make them realize how pointless their purchase of a Hummer was when all they use it for is to cart their kids around Suburbia. Maybe it will make them realize just how stupid they look next to a Honda Civic Hybrid, or a Prius, or a Tesla Roadster. Of course, this is the least likely to happen because the personality types that seem to be attracted to flaunting things like getting <10 MPG in their vehicle.

Stay tuned for Shadowing Part IV and Montréal Adventures

*For those who say electric cars are for girls, or not powerful enough, I suggest you take a look at the Tesla Roadster

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Why I’m Not Excited by Barack Obama (But Don’t Regret Voting for Him over Clinton)

15 July 2008

So, as well all know Barack Obama has decided that the recently-discussed FISA bill is acceptable. Not only that but he has been attempting what looks to me like finessing his way out of his Iraq pull-out promise.  Needless to say, I am not overly excited about him being our next President. Still, I have almost no doubt that I will be marking his name in the upcoming election, with very little reluctance and I have no regret in voting for him in the NY Primary over Clinton.

Why?

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Not only was this keyboard made in China…

3 July 2008

…but so are the torture methods used by the United States at Guantánomo Bay! Seriously, George Orwell could not have made this up.

From the NYT:

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.

Are you kidding me? Please, someone explain to me how this administration or any of its true-believers can deny that the US Government tortures “enemy combatants” (a bs term if there ever was one, but that is another story).  Please explain how there is any difference between what the “evil commie chinamen” did in the Korean War and what the US is doing now. Hint: There is no difference. Read the rest of this entry ?

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In Which I Am Again Ashamed to Call Myself a Democrat

23 June 2008

FISA “Compromise” Passes in the House:

I just…for once, I thought Congressional Democrats would at least attempt to do the right thing. But no. All we have are these spineless cowards who refuse to be anymore than this administration’s lapdogs. And yet we have the leaders (I’m looking at you Pelosi) claiming that they have saved us from something awful. This compromise is anything but.

Let’s look at the numbers there: 105 Democrats voted for this bill that allows telecoms retroactive immunity for acts that were probably illegal. 105. And even more so, I am ashamed that Barack Obama is willing to support this. I’m sorry, but this is bullshit.  I just can’t comprehend this. I mean, sure I am still going to vote for him in November, and I hope that this is just electoral posturing (I’ve never been one to buy into the change thing completely), but…It’s indefensible.  We’re replacing our decent (though imperfect) Constitution with not only surveillance society, but one that puts us in a constant state of warfare. We are always in danger, we are always at war. The war is everywhere, we must be ready.   Of course none of these statements are true. But the Republicans WANT us to believe them, and far too many on both sides of the aisles are buying into the crap.

Here’s a great analysis of the situation:

If the FISA “compromise” passes, it will mean that a President just needs to authorize some program, and say that he thinks it is legal, and telecoms cannot be sued for going along with it, even if it violates the law. Given a President who claims to believe, as Bush does, that whatever he wants to do is legal so long as it is an exercise of his War Powers, this is a recipe for disaster. Moreover, these lawsuits are the only way in which anyone can get redress, since the courts have ruled (pdf) that no one has standing to sue the government unless she can show that her communications have been intercepted. It’s also the only way in which citizens can discover what this program involves, so long as Congress refuses to do its job — not that Congressional investigations would necessarily have helped, since the administration has shown very little willingness to share information about this program with Congress.

(Source: Obsidian Wings)

How very Orwellian. I know that’s cliche, but it actually does remind me quite of 1984. The fact that the War on Terror is played up as a transcendental struggle, that our enemy has changed but at the same time has always been the same group, the fact that we are consistently reminded of how dangerous the world is by the “free press”.

Tonight, I am truly ashamed to call myself a Democrat and even more ashamed to call myself an American.

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Call Louisiana…NOW!

18 June 2008

Let them know that we don’t want any state in this country to allow Creationism to be taught in science classes.

You can find more information about contacting Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, who now has the ability either to sign this bill into law or to veto it. I know that he’s a typical fundamentalist, but maybe he’ll listen if enough people let him know how much we oppose this.

For more information visit this website: Louisiana Science Coalition.com

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Some sensibility from Huckabee?

18 June 2008

Interesting that one of the most “out there” of the former Republican candidates is showing some sense. While I have mocked Huckabee for his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, including the fact that he is a Creationist, I must say that I can actually agree with him on something. From Bloomberg:  “The Republicans will make a fundamental, if not fatal mistake, if they seek to win the election by demonizing Barrack Obama,” Huckabee told reporters in Tokyo. “Don’t underestimate the extraordinary, substantive moment that Barack Obama’s nomination represents in our country”.

Hopefully the Republican campaign leaders listen to this advice.  Yesterday I posted about how Republicans and those associated with them are using race in their campaign to beat Barack Obama. If they continue using fear, uncertainty, and doubt, I hope so badly that the voters will give them what they deserve.

That seems doubtful though.