Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Automaker Bailout Failed. Who's To Blame?

With story after story coming out pointing fingers about the Senate failure of the Automotive Bailout Bill, it's time to look at who is really responsible for the failure of the bill and the automakers themselves.

UAW (United Auto Workers) is pointing their fingers at Southern Republicans for lobbying against the bill. Automakers are pointing fingers at a slowing economy and Japanese competition. Nobody is pointing fingers at the one group that is really responsible for the failure of two of the American Big Three automakers - the automakers themselves.

The fact is, the Big Three are failing because they could never adapt to the desires of the consumers. While additional financial burdens from the UAW may have some bearing on the failure of these companies, its effect is minor. The Big Three have enough market share to be quite profitable, even in this economy, if they would just build what the people want.

American auto manufacturers have never been particularly adaptable. They started nearly a century ago, building big cars with big engines. Their heyday was during the 1960s muscle car era, when a big-block Ford or Chevy V8 was the thing to have.

Then, we enter into the fuel crisis of the early-mid 1970s. The Big Three were still producing their gas-guzzlers, but people weren't buying them. It was about that time that Toyota, Honda, and Datsun (now Nissan) put themselves on the map in the American market. They were building reliable, fuel-efficient vehicles. The Big Three tried to keep up. What did they offer? Such jokes on wheels as the Escort, the Pinto, the Gremlin, the Chevette. I still hear jokes about the Pintos and their exploding fuel tanks, and that car was discontinued before many of you were born.

During the 1980s and 1990s the Big Three were back in their heyday again, when fuel was cheap, and big cars were again in fashion. They sold hundreds of thousands of cars a year, and many of them came with big V6 and V8 engines.

Then, after 9/11, the world changed. Fuel prices started going up as tensions increased between the OPEC nations and the US. Never again would we see fuel under a dollar a gallon. While most people could still afford the higher fuel prices and continued to buy gas-guzzling American cars, a segment of the population turned towards the more fuel efficient and higher performing Japanese auto market. Fuel prices continued to rise, and large American vehicles were becoming less and less popular. Nobody seemed to want Hummers, Suburbans, or Excursions anymore. More and more people were looking into buying cars with smaller engines, realizing that they could have both fuel efficiency and high performance, all in the same package. Japanese market share went through the roof. The Big Three tried to remain competitive by partnering with smaller Asian automakers - Ford with Mazda (that occurred in the early 1990s) and GM with Daewoo - in order to try and produce smaller cars with higher performance that could remain competitive with the wildly popular Japanese manufacturers. Ford was the only company to experience some success with that strategy, as Mazda was already a known manufacturer, and already had some prestige in the market. Ford's economy and compact cars actually did provide similar styling, performance, and reliability to the Hondas and Toyotas it wanted to compete against. This is why Ford is still staying afloat. GM introduced some top notch cars like the Chevy Aveo, which is built in South Korea by Daewoo, and is roughly equivalent in quality to the often joked about Yugo.

Add to this that the overall quality of American vehicles was falling short of the Japanese quality. As fuel prices rose and the economy slowed down, people wanted to buy a car that would last for a long time and provide high fuel efficiency, but didn't want to give up the comfort of their larger cars. The Japanese manufacturers heard that plea, and gave the consumer exactly what they wanted, particularly in their Lexus, Acura, and Infinity lines, as well as vast improvements of standard equipment in their traditional best sellers. The Big Three didn't.

Now we have them whining about impending collapse and failure. Now they're pissed that the Government didn't hand them the bailout. Sorry guys, you fucked up. You failed. You had plenty of opportunity to improve your products and adapt them to the needs of the consumers. You didn't. You failed. That's nobody's fault but your own. The market has spoken, now either liquidate or improve.

The bailout bill failed because people, even in the government, are starting to realize just how mismanaged the financial bailout package was, and they're also realizing that it's not costing taxpayers only the initial $700 billion as advertised, but nearly $4 trillion, once you figure in all of the extra pork barrel spending, other bailouts not included in the main package, and the ways that large companies are abusing the provisions in the package. The United States has gotten tired of bailouts, and are apparently starting to see the error in their ways, now that it's too late.

The economy is still tanking. Wall Street execs are still getting all of the extras that they don't deserve. Two of the three big American auto manufacturers are about to go bankrupt. Really, it's not rocket science. If the average Joe continually makes bad decisions at work, he gets fired and has to deal with the consequences. The failure of the automakers and Wall Street are no different, except in the terms of amounts of money involved.

I welcome the failure of bad businesses, particularly if they're big ones. Perhaps we might finally be able to hit the reset button that Dr. Ron Paul and several other realists have been talking about for ages. Sure, it'll be tough for everyone, but in the end, it'll lead to a far more solid and stable economy, and plenty of wealth for anyone that cares to work for it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Obama Is Not The Messiah. Please Stop Worshipping Him As Such.

I've recently (over the past couple months since Obama won the Presidency), read more than a few blogs that have touted Obama as capable of superhuman and nearly god-like things. I'm, personally, sick of hearing this crap.

Obama is not some sort of superhero that will right all of the world's problems. He's just an intelligent man that can formulate a coherent sentence. He will likely improve a few things, worsen a few other things, and generally do the job a President is supposed to do - likely much better than his predecessor did.

The way I see it, the only reason Obama has become viewed as some sort of superhuman entity is because, for the past eight years, we've been subjected to a President that is a completely new caliber of idiot - to the point that even the common idiot thinks he's an idiot. Because of this, a simple education seems to have been elevated to an almost godlike status. I have news for you. Intelligence is not a superhuman power. It is simply the result of hard work and a desire to gain such an educational level.

Obama will not end the wars on terror and drugs. He might get us out of Iraq, but that's been in the works for at least a year now. He will not single-handedly end the financial crisis. If we see an end to the recession during his term, it'll be because of the work of the nation as a whole, not solely of Obama. He will not switch us to the metric system - I think he has far more important things to worry about. He may improve foreign relations - the rest of the world seems optimistic on this point.

I did not vote for him, nor do I support many of his proposed policies (or announced cabinet choices). He will become the President on January 20. I will give him the same chance I give any President. I will not make wild or impractical expectations of him. I will simply expect him to do his job to the best of his abilities.

Just keep in mind, Obama is not a deity. One would be a fool to think him such.

My contempt for certain other atheists...

Atheism is a belief that no god exists (in singularity or plurality), and that all that exists on Earth and in the universe at large can be explained by science, even if it's a science/technology that we do not yet possess. This is a definition widely accepted by all atheists. Does it make us somehow superior? No.

I am sickened every time another atheist thinks (s)he is superior over our religious brothers and sisters, just because they believe that no deity exists. By touting the superiority of science and logic over the heartfelt beliefs of religious people, does that not make us as bad as their extremists?

The fact is, nobody, whether through science or theology, can prove or disprove the existence of a higher power. Because of this, we are all, regardless of spiritual belief or lack thereof, equally as clueless about the imperceptible universe.

One would think that atheists, who value science, logic, and reason above all else would be quite tolerant of other systems of belief, largely because science, reason, and logic, as we know it, states that we are not capable of knowing, one way or the other, if a deity exists or not.

Most atheists are quite tolerant, mostly because of the above stated reasons. There are a few, however, that are not. These are the ones that I don't wish to be associated with. They are to atheists what Al Qaeda are to Muslims; what Westboro Baptist Church (the group that protests soldiers' funerals) are to Christians; what the Jewish Defense League is to Jews.

When an atheist proclaims his/her superiority over all religious practitioners, I get sick to my stomach. We are no better or worse than any religious group. At times, I even see my last religious affiliation (with the Celtic pagans) as a more tolerant group. I'll tell you, even for all of their illogical beliefs, they are likely to be one of the most religiously tolerant groups I've ever known (most of my friends still fall into one of the various pagan religious groups - Wiccans, Celts, Norse, Roman, or Greek). Religious tolerance was certainly not one of the reasons I left my former religion. Even after leaving my last religion, I still cherished the tolerance I learned.

I am the type of person that is willing to simply ignore religious displays. As an atheist, I am in the minority here in America. Religious displays are common, even where I live, which tends to be a more secular/religiously downplayed area. I tolerate the crosses all over the place. I tolerate the nativity scenes during the holidays. I tolerate the greetings of "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah", which I most often return in kind. At any holiday gatherings I attend, I politely refrain from participating in any sort of religious prayer or offering, and those I know accept that I don't believe the same as them.

As an atheist and a believer in the power of science, logic, and reason, I am what I am. That does not make me superior to anyone. My fellow atheists would likely do well to remember that. We deserve an equal voice, not a superior voice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The motto on the first US penny

The first US penny was minted the same year that the US Constitution was ratified, 1787. It was minted by a private mint under contract by the newly formed United States Government. The motto is something that stands out for me.

According to Snapple "Real Fact" #163, the motto printed on it was "Mind your own business." This is not exactly true - though close. The actual motto printed on the 1787-1789 "Fugio" penny was "Mind your business." The face of the coin contained 13 linked rings, the phrase "We are one," and the words "United States". The reverse contained a graphic depicting the sun shining down on a sundial, with the word "Fugio" printed next to it. Fugio is Latin for "I fly." Combined, the image and the word mean "Time flies." The motto of "Mind your business" is still up for debate, though it has been suggested that it could mean 'business' literally, as the coin was reportedly designed by Benjamin Franklin, who was a rather successful businessman in his own right. It has also been suggested that it may have meant, "time is short, do your work." I'm sure any number of other historians may have any number of other possible meanings for the motto.

Anyway, I just found that to be a rather interesting, little known piece of U.S. history. Here are a few photos of the coin:

A line drawing showing the original detail of the coin.

The face of the coin.

The back of the coin.


The Fugio Coin, from
The Fugio Cent, from Wikipedia
1787 Fugio Coins, from

Monday, December 1, 2008

And now for something completely different.

Many of you reading this know that I am an Atheist. I am also a frequent reader of the Reddit community. Earlier today, I commented on a post in the Atheism forum. That comment sparked quite a discussion, as you can see from the comments that followed it.

I feel that I should take this time to explain why I am an Atheist.

I was born into a Catholic household (well, my mother was a Protestant, but my father ruled the roost, so we all played by his rules). I attended Catholic school from preschool through first grade (about three years). At the end of my first grade year, we moved and my parents could no longer afford private schooling for me. I did continue to attend CCD classes (basically, Sunday bible study) as a child. I attended those classes until my Confirmation into the Catholic Church at age 14.

Religion, while present at home, was never of extreme importance in my family. With my mother being a computer programmer and my father being an architect, education, logic, arts, and science were important in my family. While most kids my age were playing with G.I. Joes and Transformers, I busied myself with chemistry sets, an electronics education toy (it was a board, about 8" x 12" with various electrical components set on its surface that could be wired together in a variety of ways to create a variety of gadgets), and other toys that promoted science and creativity.

Because of my interests as a child, I was never one to accept the validity of blind faith. As a child, and indeed to this day, I will only believe something to be true once I have proven it to myself to be true, to the best of my ability. This made me a ton of fun in the bible study classes. I was always the first one to question seemingly impossible events held as truths by the Bible. I was often ostracized in elementary school for questioning the existence of God. After all, if He couldn't present himself to me and prove His existence, why should I blindly believe in Him? Early in my years, however, I wasn't willing to abandon religion altogether. Catholicism was important enough in my household to make me believe that some sort of faith or spirituality had to be true. Around age fourteen, just about the time of my Confirmation, I picked up the hobby of studying world religion, in hopes that I might find my path.

At age sixteen, I realized that it certainly wasn't Catholicism that was the true faith, as I was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. After getting into a religious debate with the local Cardinal, a man in his early 40s, who had devoted his life to religion, I actually caused him to question his own faith, simply by playing "devil's advocate" and using a bit of logic and what little I had learned so far about other religions. As he was always a man of conviction, particularly when it came to his faith, he couldn't handle the doubt I had caused him, and arranged to have me thrown out of the Church, calling me an unrepentant heathen. Any faith that had high-ranking clergy being such sore losers certainly couldn't have been a true faith - particularly when a man's lifelong devout faith was called into doubt by a stupid, bratty sixteen year old kid using elementary logic and a brief understanding of world religion.

It was at that time that I started studying world religion in earnest. I started following the faith of the ancient Celts (one of several faiths that modern Wicca is based on), a polytheistic, matriarchal faith, based soundly in nature and ritual. At a time that I was not willing to give up on religion altogether, it made the most sense to me, particularly that the core belief was basically to accept all and harm none. A religion that truly strove for peace? I was all for it! On top of that, I liked the core philosophies, identified with many of the deities, and liked the loose practices of worship of the religion - no set times to worship, no real structure to the religion outside of a small group of like-minded followers, if one even chose to worship in a group - solitary practitioners were just as accepted, holidays were basically the same as I had been raised with in Catholicism, so sacred days were not too much different. All in all, for my late teenage years up through my mid-twenties, it was the perfect religious path for me.

Around age 20, the small group I practiced with felt that I had learned enough to allow me to lead. As a recognized priest in the group, I made my ordainment legal by registering with the Universal Life Church. By getting an easy ordainment with the ULC, suddenly any rites and rituals I performed were legal under law. I often chose to perform marriages for friends, and because of the open nature of the Celtic belief system, I could perform a marriage rite in any manner that was requested by the bride and groom, though it was most often performed in accordance with the Celtic, Norse, or Wiccan faiths. My ordainment with the ULC is still legal today, though if I choose to perform a marriage ceremony, it's most often a secular one.

My adherence to the Celtic belief system found me with my "imaginary friends". I fully believed that I had spirits that walked with me, guiding me through life. While they were not real, I believed they were, and that belief got me through some of the toughest times in my life. In my late teens and early twenties, I was plagued with severe depression, often borderline suicidal. My faith in these imaginary friends and the Celtic belief system is one of the only reasons I still draw breath today.

As I got older, my faith began to wane. The imaginary friends didn't seem to be around as often, and the spiritual tenets of the religion didn't seem to hold so much truth. My secular life was what was important to me. My career, my scientific and artistic pursuits, my need to just get by, from day to day, in a rough job market - these are the things that I really focused on.

It's difficult for me to mark one single event that really caused me to give up my faith. Perhaps it was the frequent meditations that failed to contact the imaginary friends. Perhaps it was the increasing number of papers and articles I read about Atheism. Perhaps it was a result of getting more interested in politics and world events, and realizing that no God could exist, and allow the world to get into the sorry state it's in. Perhaps it's just the increased logic that comes with greater experience, and the thought that an invisible omniscient or omnipotent entity is more of a fantasy than a reality.

After my mid twenties, I identified as an Agnostic, still hesitant to give up on faith altogether. As recently as a year ago, I still identified as an Agnostic. Even though my religious faith had dropped to virtually nothing, I still wanted so dearly to be proven wrong that I wasn't willing to give up on the possibility of knowing something greater than this secular world.

It's only in the past year, as I enter my mid-thirties, that I've really identified as an Atheist. I'm fairly certain, as best as I can prove, that there is nothing beyond this secular world. In saying that, however, I do still believe in ghosts, though not in the traditional sense. I believe, through the nature of quantum theory, that there are likely to be dimensions of existence that cannot be observed by humans with our current technologies. As our knowledge of string theory and the nature of sub-atomic particles develop, I cannot help but to wonder what exists that we cannot yet observe. I call myself an Atheist because science cannot prove the existence of something intangible to human observation. Human scientific knowledge is also but a thimble full of the waters of a vast ocean of potential knowledge.

I am an Atheist. Prove me wrong. I want you to.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I saw gasoline for $1.96 today!

While I was out running my daily errands today (I was off of work, so I was running them slightly earlier than usual), I saw gasoline at a local station for $1.96/gallon. This was a station that does not participate in the typical "Thrifty Thursdays, 5 cents off" promotion.

Gas is cheap again. Fuck.

While cheap gas means less strain on my wallet, it also often means less support for the alternative fuels industry. I've long been a supporter of alternative fuels, both for home and vehicles. I'd love to see a country full of electric cars and solar/wind/geothermal powered homes. I've love to see the removal of oil, coal, and nuclear power sources from the grid.

Unfortunately, every time cheap oil prevails, these alternative technologies get buried. It's happened several times throughout history.

There are far more reasons to get off of oil as a primary source of energy, even if you don't believe in the greenhouse effect and global warming.

The US imports a vast majority of their oil. Of the total oil consumption in the US, most of it is used for transportation (cars, buses, trains, trucks, etc).

The US Department of Energy supports this. Well over 60% of our crude oil consumption are used solely for transportation. In comparison, only ten percent are used for electricity production, including commercial and residential. The remainder is used commercially in manufacturing plants, often producing oil-based materials such as plastics.

By contrast, the US imports about 1.9 billion barrels of oil a year, while using about 19 billion barrels of oil per year.

The price at the pump may be cheap. The price for the nation is expensive.

The price of oil irregardless, here's the possible problems of remaining dependent on foreign oil:

War: Gulf War 1 was waged after Iraq invaded Kuwait. Most of our oil supply at the time came from Kuwait. It was less of a war against Iraq, so much as it was a war to protect our oil sources.

OPEC: OPEC controls the price of oil. Many of the nations with vast oil fields that are members of OPEC are not friends of the US. The US being the worldwide leader in oil consumption are the ones likely to be targeted by high oil prices. As a result, OPEC can, at a whim, raise oil prices, and weaken the US.

America: How much can this great nation really focus on itself when we're worried about oil prices globally? If we were truly energy independent, we could ignore the oil economy worldwide, and focus on Americans here at home.

I'm sure there's others that I've missed, but the above should be enough to chew on for a while.

The bottom line is this: Oil prices are dropping. Don't forget about alternative energies that will truly help America in the long run. Oil prices fluctuate at a whim. Natural, renewable energies, such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, and tidal are always here, usable at will.

We will run out of oil eventually. We need to be energy independent far sooner to avoid far greater problems.

A Libertarian solution to socialized health care

I was listening to a popular morning political talk radio show the other day, and the largely Libertarian host (who is wildly popular in the area, despite the largely liberal/Democrat listener base) was talking about socialized and nationalized health care plans. He proposed an idea that I liked, makes sense - particularly with the current state of health care, and could likely ease the transition, in the future, to a more Libertarian style health care program.

As of right now, we already have a form of socialized health care in place. It is largely unregulated, and mostly unfair to all involved. Keep in mind that the Hippocratic Oath that all medical professionals take before becoming licensed states that it is not only their responsibility, but civic duty to provide health care for the good of all, regardless of their ability to pay (highly paraphrased). This is an oath that has remained largely unchanged since it was first written in the 4th century BC. It is because of this oath that most (if not all) hospitals will treat any patient that comes through their doors (though in current practice, favor is almost always given to the patient with insurance, because he can pay). If said patient is a homeless person dropped off at the hospital after succumbing to heat exhaustion on a particularly brutally hot and humid day, treatment will likely be given - though the treatment may be a body bag and trip to the morgue, due to the current preferential treatments of insured people over uninsured people - even though all that person needed was some water and a cool place to rest. Who pays for this treatment? The government, and in reality, you (and morgue costs are significantly higher than water and a bed). As it is right now, every taxpaying American is paying for the treatment of those who cannot pay, yet often cannot afford the preventative treatment necessary for themselves to stay healthy as well.

If we're already doing this, why don't we put some rules in place to make it a little more fair for all?

For instance, if you go to the doctor with a headache, and he prescribes you two aspirin and tells you to get some rest, why should you have to pay $200 for a ten minute office visit and $6 each for the aspirin (which, mind you, costs about $3 for a bottle of 100 aspirin)? In any other industry, this would be called scamming and price gouging. In the medical field, however, it's accepted for some reason.

Here's what the local radio host suggested: Why don't we take the money that we're already spending on those that show up in the hospital without a means to pay, set some rules to it, and make general, basic treatment free for all? One of the rules would be a total first come, first serve basis, based on severity of ailment - a gunshot wound would take quite a lot of priority over a headache, for instance.

Got a headache or stomach ache? Free. Got a minor infection or illness and need some antibiotics? Free. Feel a little off one morning, and want to find out if it's something to worry about? Free. I think you get the point. Cheap, common medications (such as aspirin and general antibiotics) should be free when used to remedy a minor ailment at a clinic or hospital.

Insurance would still be a wise thing to have, as more serious ailments are often more expensive to remedy. Find a lump in your breast? Insurance kicks in. Coughing up blood? Insurance kicks in.

Further, we regulate hospitals with fair prices for various medical treatments and we regulate pharmaceutical companies with fair prices for their various products. In that fair price regulation, you make allowances for operating costs, research and development, legal fees, etc.

Finally, we make an attempt to reduce frivolous medical lawsuits (like suing a doctor because his patient died of lung cancer after he smoked two packs a day for fifty years) by appointing judges that are less likely to roll over in favor of the common person while forfeiting basic logic. Some medical lawsuits are legitimate. Many are not. This will reduce insurance rates for doctors and hospitals, making their operating costs lower, and helping to bring down the cost of treatment across the board. According to sources, medical malpractice insurance can be upwards of $100,000 per year for each doctor. This is largely due to frivolous lawsuits.

Between all of these things, we should be able to offer basic health care to all, lower insurance rates for the average person, and not spend any extra money on health care through either our state or Federal tax dollars.

To sum up:

  • Free basic treatments for all.
  • Limit price gouging at hospitals and clinics.
  • Reduce the number of frivolous medical lawsuits.

Even as a classic small government Libertarian, I could see this being a gateway plan to getting the government out of health care, or even a plan I could live with, even with a small government.

Regardless, it's a whole lot more fair to all than what we have now.

Granted, this idea needs some work (particularly in the implementation and legalese departments), but I think it's a good start.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What made me a Libertarian? One Libertarian's look at the events that made him choose the Libertarian Party.

I am a Libertarian. I am 33 years old. I have a high school diploma and most of a two year degree completed. I believe in education as the most important thing a person can achieve, and as such have educated myself far beyond my college courses in my free time. I believe in the power and sanctity of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. I abhor the values set forth by the modern Republican and Democrat parties. I am a Libertarian. What brought me to choose this road in my political life?

As a small child, I remember by parents being staunch Republicans. Being so young, I didn't really understand what that meant, but as a child, I looked up to my parents, and called myself a Republican as well. A few years later, I remember elementary school civics classes. I remember my teacher defining the Republican party (during the early Regan years) as a party that wanted to ensure a small government, and largely remain out of the lives of the average citizen.

Now, I've always, as long as I can remember, been happiest when I've been left to make my own choices. I've always had a problem with authority. For the most part, I've also been willing to suffer the consequences of my independence. Growing up, my family believed strongly in spankings. My father had been raised with an oaken paddle often laid on his ass. He preferred to discipline me with bare-assed spankings. I received a lot of them over my juvenile years. I was never afraid of getting them, as if I was getting a spanking, it was because I did something that made me happy, but not my parents.

My issues with authority continued through my school years, resulting in detentions, even in elementary school, when my peers hadn't even heard of them. Most often the cause of these punishments were because I stood up for myself, spoke my mind, or disobeyed rules I didn't agree with.

To continue my thought from two paragraphs ago, I remember a teacher saying the Republican Party was one that stayed out of people's lives. I really identified with that notion, even though I lacked any real understanding of the practical workings of the political world. In the school's mock elections in 1984, when I was nine years old, I voted for Regan as the President, as he was the Republican, so surely he was all about leaving us alone - besides, he had been the victim of an attempted assassination in 1981 - that made him really important, didn't it?

As I grew older, in my early teens, many of my peers started siding more with the Democrat party. As my political awareness grew, some of the ideas of the Democrat party seemed reasonable to me, but others seemed like they wanted to dig too much into my own life. I had really adopted the anarchist political beliefs, thinking that it'd be great if there were no rules, and I could do anything I wanted. My political knowledge was still less than adequate.

My freshman year in high school, 1989-1990, the school newspaper published an editorial article about the Libertarian party. It was a scathing review, calling them Anarchists, anti-Christian, and generally completely crazy. It completely appealed to me. I researched them all I could, both between my father's technology fetish - we had brand spanking new 486 PC - so I had access to some of the local BBS boards, AOL, and limited internet access, and a quite liberal use of my library card, often spending my weekends digging through the card catalog for hours, trying to find that one book that would help to further explain the Libertarian party to me.

Finally, my senior year of High School came (1992-1993). With the exception of a couple of students that had been held behind, almost none of my graduating class would have been old enough to vote in the 1992 election. Later in the school year, when a good part of the class had turned 18, we were called to an assembly, in which we were further educated on the two major parties, and asked to register to vote. Having not fully made my decision, I registered as an independent, even after being told that as an independent in Maryland, I would not be able to vote in the future primaries. I simply replied with, "I don't think either major party really represents my beliefs, and I don't know enough about any third party to really make a choice." I had not been happy with Regan's later years.

After high school, I attended a local community college, pursuing a major in technical theater, hoping to eventually transfer to the local state university to continue towards a Bachelor's degree, after having completed my AA degree. It was during college that I really started solidifying my political opinions. Most of my college friends were quite liberal, and really supported the Democrat Party. With a few convincing arguments from them, I registered as a Democrat before the 1996 election. In that election, I voted for Clinton's re-election. It was the first Presidential election I had ever voted in (or had been allowed to vote in). The charge I felt after my candidate had been officially re-elected made me want to exercise my vote as often as I legally could.

After that election though, I continued to mature politically. While I remained a registered Democrat, I found that my votes most often went to more conservative candidates - specifically those that wanted to shrink the government and uphold the Constitution. I was reverting to the values taught to me many years prior. The values that meant so much to me as a child - keep authority out of my life.

In 2000, I was still a registered Democrat, and voted for Al Gore - the one thing I knew was that GWB was going to destroy this country. I seriously considered changing my party affiliation after that, but stuck with the Democrats as I became increasingly more pissed off about GWB's Presidency.

In 2004, I left my party affiliation as Democrat, in a personal campaign of "anyone but Bush". I voted for Kerry in both the primaries and the general election that year. I didn't really agree with his politics, but I knew that Bush needed to be removed from office. I lost in a second stolen election.

Finally, by the time 2008 rolled around, and the Presidential elections had been rolling already in earnest, I, having the greatest political knowledge of my life, finally re-registered as a Libertarian. The woman at the voter registration booth reminded me, "You know, registering that way, you won't be able to vote in the primaries..." I replied with, "I know, but frankly, neither the Democrats nor Republicans really support anything I believe in. I cannot, in good faith, support either party. Besides, if real change is ever going to happen, the Libertarians need all the support they can get."

Backtracking a bit to the end of 2007, when the primary campaigns started in earnest, I had seriously considered registering as a Republican so I could support McCain. After all, the last time he ran, he was a far better choice than Bush. He seemed to want to be an old-school Republican. How things change... By the time I re-registered, I knew goddamn well that McCain was no candidate for me.

I had gotten involved in the Ron Paul whirlwind. Honestly I felt that he was the best candidate running - and the only one that really supported my own beliefs in how the government should be run. I donated to the Ron Paul campaign - twice (even when I couldn't afford it). I convinced my mother (a lifelong Republican that has become disenfranchised with the current party) that Ron Paul was the best candidate out there - and she, bless her heart, voted for him in the primaries, in total agreement with his campaign to return to Constitutional values.

To this day, I feel that Ron Paul is the man for the job. With the exception of his age (McCain was slaughtered on that issue alone, and Dr. Paul would be older, if he were to run in 2012), I'd love to see him run - and win - in 2012.

What really made me become a Libertarian?

The short answer is this: George W. Bush.

The long answer is this:

Ever since I was a child, I've believed in the sanctity of personal freedoms. I've believed that America is the land of the free. As my political awareness has matured, I believe that America was founded by outcasts, refugees, rebels, and criminals who all shared one common desire - freedom. I believe in the Constitution, the Bill Of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. I believe in human rights. I believe in "By the people, for the people." I believe in freedom, liberty, and the right of the people in their of pursuit of happiness. I believe in all humans being equal, regardless of race, color, creed, gender, national origin, or sexual preference.

I believe that the Libertarian Party is the one that can bring America back to these core, fundamental, and sacred rights and values. I believe in America.

That is why I'm a Libertarian. That is why I still maintain hope for this country. That is why I actively campaign against the foolhardy machinations of the Republicans and Democrats.

I believe that America can once again belong to the Americans.

I am Libertarian.

The bailouts have gone too far...

First, it was Bear Stearns, then it widened to AIG, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Then it expanded to the $700 billion bailout. Today, the Fed just approved American Express achieving bank status, which puts them next in line for Federal bailout money - money stolen from the average American citizen. Where will it end?

Welcome to the world where you will be raped for your money, which will subsequently be spent on bailing out private businesses that failed to make good business choices, making each of us more dependent on government support programs as proposed by President-elect Obama, which will cost more tax money, thus causing more people to become reliant on these programs, thus costing more tax money.... and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Here's the bottom line:

The 2007 United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was 11.5 trillion dollars. It will likely be lower in 2008 due to all of the financial crashes. Given that we've spent 17% of the 2007 Gross Domestic Product (which is a far higher number than actual tax revenues) on bailouts this year, this makes the coming numbers even more scary. In 2007, the Federal Government collected less than $2.5 trillion in taxes. This means that 80% of our taxpayer dollars in 2007 went towards these unconstitutional bailouts. What about everything else? This money pit of a war? Education? Roads? Only half a billion to cover it? Hardly. The fact is, it doesn't matter if Obama, McCain, or Mickey Mouse is President, we have a Federal spending budget that outsizes the tax income of the US. The announced 2008 spending budget, which does not include the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bailouts, is $2.9 trillion. Once we figure in the current Bailout costs, at nearly $1.7 trillion, and the annual war costs of approximately $70 billion, we now have a Federal spending for 2008 at roughly $4.67 trillion. This means that the Federal Government is currently spending 161% of the annual tax revenue - and this is a tax revenue that is already costing the average American way too much.

Who can afford that? I sure as hell can't.

Kids, we're in the roller coaster, it's crested the first hill, and now we're just along for the ride until it's over. Nobody alive can stop this thing. We can only hope it's a short ride, and that whoever we see at the end of it knows how to stop it.

This is bigger than the President-elect. This is bigger than any of us. This is the beginning of a global economic crash that will only serve to thrust the entire world into poverty. Hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen. It's going to be a wild ride.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Yes, Obama is President. Now shut the fuck up.

I've been bombarded on all sides with discussions about how Obama is the savior and how wonderful it is that he got elected.

The decision was made five days ago. Shut the fuck up.

Yes, having a black man as president is historic. Yes, Obama was better than McCain. Yes, the USA is less of a laughing stock now than we were before the election.

Bottom line is this: I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat. I'm one of a few fringe people that actually believes the Constitution has any meaning, and knows that the Constitution prohibits the Federal Government from making any legislation that doesn't fall within the few rights given to the Federal Government in the Constitution.

Neither Obama nor McCain would have understood or adhered to this notion.

After overhearing way too much political conversation upstairs tonight, and me, being the passive person that I am, finally just shut the basement door in hopes of hearing less of it. The election is over. Obama won. I voted for Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party candidate. Obama is better than McCain, but frankly, I don't like his politics.

My tune may change four years from now, but as I am right now, I don't want anyone in office, regardless of color or gender, who doesn't recognize the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence as the three documents that defined this nation, and everything it was meant to stand for.

Obama, even as a former Constitutional Law lawyer, seems to recognize very little of this. I have my serious doubts of his ability to lead the USA back to the rights and liberties that we are guaranteed.

Please, all of you Obama supporters, read this, do a little research, and shut the fuck up until he actually becomes President on January 20, 2009.

I have a feeling that many of you will be singing different tunes in 2012.

The perils of renting a basement from a staunch Democrat friend...

In the past 30 minutes, I lost count of the number of times I heard "Obama" mentioned with a favorable inflection of voice.

The conversations I'm hearing are coming from upstairs, where my roommate/landlord is entertaining guests, who are also apparently all Obama supporters.

Honestly, I can't really hear the conversation, but I can quite clearly hear every time "Obama" is said. What worries me is that the glee and adoration with which I hear "Obama" spoken is nearly the glee and adoration I'd expect to hear from Christians if Jesus were to walk the Earth again. You'd think their messiah has come.

Seriously people, we've been through eight years of the worst fucking president in modern times. We're all happy that it's not him again (meaning McCain getting elected). Hell, I loathe 90% of Obama's politics, and I'm happy to see him get elected. He is not a messiah, though. Obama is just a regular guy. He had a decent education, and he makes you wet in your pants when he expounds on this and that issue. Great. He's a politician. Politicians cannot be trusted. Fact is, Obama voted with Bush on most of his worst policies during his reign as King W. Nobody talks about Obama's support for the Patriot Act - and its renewal - making many of the provisions permanent. Nobody talks about Biden's support, even pre-9-11, of creating backdoors for all electronic devices that would allow the government to spy on you. Yeah, Biden was the reason that PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), the basic standard for email encryption, was created.

If Obama does anything positive for our nation, it will be improving of foreign relations, and less foreign reliance on American aid, which will be perfect when, in four years, the country is screaming for change again, for a leader like Dr. Ron Paul to take office, and really set this nation back on track.

At first, I was happy to see the world unity behind Obama. Now I'm just sick of hearing it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Accosted by Mormons - The Conversation

This evening, I was returning home from running a few errands after work (I had enough time after work to change into casual clothes, consisting of a pair of jeans and a t-shirt detailing guidelines for killing and disposing of zombies). It should also be noted that I am a staunch atheist. I was also smoking the last of my cigarette from the drive home, and carrying a plastic bag containing a bottle of vodka. As I got out of my car, I was approached by two Mormons who were traversing the neighborhood (I've seen them before, so I assume they're residents). In the past, being one that practices tolerance for all, I never paid them much mind. The only difference today was that they approached me. The conversation went as follows:

Mormon 1: Excuse me, sir. May we talk to you for a moment?

Me: (looking them up and down) You're Mormons, right?

Mormon 1: Yes sir.

Me: (jovially) Please don't call me sir. I work for a living. (pause) Latter Day Saints?

Both Mormons, almost in unison: Yes sir.

Me: I see. Are you familiar with California proposition 8?

Mormon 2: Yes.

Me: Okay, then you can listen first, before you start talking. Okay?

Mormon 1: Okay...

Me: I am not in the least bit pleased with what your Church did to prevent Prop 8 from passing. While I will not accuse either of you individually, you do belong to an organization that spent millions of dollars to prevent the legal marriage of same-sex couples. I cannot overlook that.

Mormon 2: (interrupting) Sir, we...

Me: (interrupting again) Let me finish. If you want to preach your faith to me, you will hear me out first. Understood?

Mormon 1: I'll listen.

(Mormon 2 nodded in agreement with this statement.)

Me: California Proposition 8 was a bill on the ballot in California during the September 4th Presidential Election that banned same-sex marriages - the same same-sex marriages that had been legalized just a few short months prior to that. You said you're familiar with the Proposition, so I'll assume you knew that.

(Both Mormons nod.)

Me: I happen to have a great deal of gay friends, many of whom are involved in long-term same-sex relationships. As same-sex marriage is still technically illegal here in Maryland, many were hoping to visit California to get married. The powers that be in your church played a significant role in funding the movement to ban same-sex marriages in California, even though most of your members don't reside in California. I see that as an act of hatred, persecution, and prejudice against a segment of people who, outside of their sexual preference, are just as hard-working and an equal benefit to society as anyone else. The way I see it, they deserve the same rights as anyone else. Religion, according to the first Amendment, has no place in government. Having it put that way, wouldn't you agree?

Mormon 2: (almost immediately, without thought) It disobeys God's will.

Me: Quote me a passage from the bible that shows that.

(Both Mormons hesitate, thinking, but ultimately unable to recall any passage or quote that would support their argument. I even gave them a full minute to display their odd looks of thinking, trying to remember, and ultimately confusion.)

Me: Thank you. I'll be going now. I have plans to have protected pre-marital sex, while drinking massive quantities of vodka tonight. This conversation is preventing me from that. Please learn your biblical legends before you accost the next person.

(I walked inside my house.)

Now much of my final statement was false (the safe-sex happens tomorrow night), but it was spoken only to drive the point home, particularly while carrying the bottle of vodka.

As dumbfounded as both of them looked after this conversation, I think they'll either be frantically looking up and memorizing biblical passages (and, knowing the Bible pretty well for an atheist, I'm pretty sure there's no passages specifically prohibiting gay marriage - I can't speak for the book of Mormon, however, as I only read it once, and don't remember much of it).

Ultimately, I came home, took a celebratory shot of my vodka, and wrote this.

I'm sorry, but I believe in true equal rights for *all*, regardless of race, religion, sexual preference, gender, etc. I refuse to entertain thoughts that single out any one group for prejudices against them. I will respect and defend a person's right to practice any religion they want - to the ends of the Earth - but I will not tolerate persecution of any group for any reason.

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men [persons] are created equal.

The future of the Republican Party

According to George W. Bush's approval rating is at 26%, as of November 1-2, 2008. American Research Group puts his approval rating at 20%, as of the end of October, 2008. It's no secret that the American people are sick of George W. Bush and his failed policies. This reflects badly on the Republican party as well, as many members are switching to conservative third parties such as the Libertarians and Constitution Party, both of which more accurately reflect the values of the old (pre-Regan) Republican Party. Many more Republicans are breaking party lines and voting for Democrats, while still remaining technically Republican. The disgust with the Republican Party was also well-illustrated in the trouncing that John McCain took in the November 4th Presidential Election, which showed traditionally Republican states supporting the Democrat Party - states such as Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, and others. Missouri is still too close to call, but is leaning towards McCain by two tenths of a percent, according to AP. Missouri's decision could come down to a small handful of votes as absentee and provisional ballots are counted. The Republican Party needs to do something, and soon.

Frankly, the GOP is headed towards a major fracturing. Remember that the majority of the members of the GOP are old-school Republicans that remember the pre-Regan (and pre-religious right run) party. Many Republicans do not support the direction that the party has taken.

Here's what I see happening:

The GOP decides that a return to more traditional conservative values will be in its favor. They bring a leader to the forefront that actually fully believes in the original thoughts of the Republican Party, back when Abe Lincoln was President, and the Republican Party supported equality, small government, and policies based on the needs of the people, instead of policies based in the bible.

This will cause the fundamentalists and religious extremists to go ape-shit over the change in policy. They break off from the party and form their own party, likely named something like Moral Republicans. As the religious extremists and fundamentalists are, even today, a minority within the party, the new religiously-based "Moral Republican" party will likely die out or be shuffled off to the fringe, leaving room for the traditional Republican Party to take over, likely with someone like Ron Paul as their leader (though I doubt it'll actually be Ron Paul, but rather someone younger who shares his politics).

Ultimately, I see the Republican Party being forced to return to its old core values, which will once again make it a party with some sway and respect in America. It is then, and only then, that the Republican Party can truly return to power in the US. Ironically enough, I would also wager that if this were to occur, the Libertarians and Constitutionalists would be losing members to the GOP, instead of the other way around.

This change will not occur overnight. It may take several years, but I truly think that it will happen.

The other option is that the GOP refuses to change, continues to lose support, and a third party rises in its place - one that is willing to adhere to the conservative values the average Republican wants. This route would likely take a lot longer than my first suggestion, but it would happen eventually - likely well within most of our lifetimes. I don't really foresee this route being likely, as the current Republican Party doesn't want to lose power, and will likely see that they must change if they want to retain their status as a major party.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

So many smiles.

It's been less than 48 hours since Barack Obama was named the 44th President of the United States of America, and I've noticed something - happiness, not just here in the US, but worldwide. The last time I saw so many people in the world this happy was when the Berlin Wall was torn to the ground - and when that was happening, I was too young to truly appreciate the significance of such global happiness. It seems that everywhere I turn, there is rejoicing.

A Canadian reporter covering the election in DC was stormed by a crowd of Obama supporters, and showered with hugs, kisses, and singing

The American Bureau Chief of the Vienna, Austria bureau of the Associated Press was randomly kissed by a young Austrian woman, upon realizing that he was an American. He surmises that even though no words were exchanged, it was meant as a thank you for helping to change the world.

People in London are overwhelmingly thrilled, and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has even gone on record suggesting that the US could even become a beacon of Democracy, hope, freedom, and Liberty - something this nation has forgotten over the past eight years.

Colin Powell even cried tears of joy when talking about Obama's victory.

Even though I am not a Democrat, nor am I Republican, nor did I vote for either Obama or McCain, I do love this country, and it makes me proud to see such joy and more importantly, unity, throughout this great nation, and across the world.

Congratulations President Obama.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Same-sex Marriage - Constitutionally protected?

The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The first part of the first sentence: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof should solidify my entire following argument into a basic right of the American population.

Are same-sex marriages Constitutionally protected? My answer is, in certain situations, yes.

Let's assume that marriage is only a religious institution that carried over into legal boundaries, only by the sanctity of the church (like Christian marriages do).

Let's put into the game progressive churches, such as the Universal Life Church, who will ordain anyone (I'm an ordained minister with the ULC, and I'm an atheist). The basic doctrine of the ULC is:

The Universal Life Church | ULC is the only denomination in the world that opens its doors to all, and welcomes all who ask to Become an Ordained Minister. We are non-denominational.

The ULC, a recognized religion in all 50 US states, often has to play by state guidelines, which are provided on the church website. That said, assuming all state regulations are met, wouldn't a union of to people, any two people, regardless of gender, be legal and binding under the First Amendment? After all, religious freedom is a paramount right to the citizens of the US, and the ULC is a recognized religion in all 50 states.

I would be willing, as an ordained minister of the ULC (as I previously stated, I am an atheist, and that is a doctrine accepted within the ULC) to testify as far as I have to - even on a Federal/Supreme Court level - to ensure the legality and sanctity of any marriage I perform, regardless of the gender of the married couple.

All of the above being taken into account - isn't same-sex marriage protected under the Constitution? I'm a religious official that accepts same sex marriage. I have the First Amendment on my side... and I'm willing to fight for it.

My last major political post of this election season.

The elections are over. What's done is done. You're likely either very happy with the results, very unhappy with the results, or feeling kind of "meh" about the whole thing.

Regardless, this is an election that will go down in history, as it has broken the 232 year trend in this nation of only having white men in office. Love him or hate him, the election of Barack Obama is truly a historic event. On top of electing our first black president, voter turnout was the highest it's been in 90 years, since women gained the right to vote. Estimates are putting voter turnout somewhere between 80-90 percent of all voting age citizens. Between these two facts alone, this election was one for the books. Hopefully it'll signify a trend in future elections, which will be far more fair if people just got out and voted like they did this year.

Additionally, the voting results in traditionally Republican states such as Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Colorado, and the as yet unannounced (but slightly leaning blue) North Carolina signals a downfall and decline of the modern (post-Regan) Republican party. Many Republicans are jumping ship, and party member numbers of such parties as the Libertarians and Constitution Party have jumped as former Republicans have rethought their political affiliations. More commonly, however, many Republicans are confused as to what to do, and only voted for McCain because they're too conservative to vote for Obama, yet didn't really like McCain, but didn't see any other choice. My own mother falls into this category. She feels that McCain would have been horrible for this country, but that didn't surpass her hatred of Obama's politics. She voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, but as he wasn't on the ticket on November 4th, she decided to go for McCain, not knowing that Paul had endorsed Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. She has been seriously reconsidering her party affiliation as well, as she doesn't feel that the Republicans serve her needs any longer.

This is a common story among Republicans, who believe in traditional Republican code - small government and uphold the Constitution, yet the modern Republican party doesn't practice that code. Also, the current Republican party doesn't have any clear leader left. They've always operated with a clear leader - someone well-known in the political circles, who demonstrates the values of the Republican Party. After this election, the Republican party will be forced to regroup and redefine themselves. The American people, and particularly those within the Republican Party are no longer willing to listen to the religious extremist minority that have taken control of the party. Either the Republican Party will redefine themselves, or they will fail. They are finally starting to see that, particularly with the strong showing for third party candidates (mostly conservative - Libertarians, Constitution, and Independent) in this election (over 2% of the vote, between all third party candidates, mostly taken from the McCain vote - quite a significant number, and enough to have tilted the election closer to a McCain victory) that people are leaving their ranks, and voting for other candidates, often candidates with little to no mainstream press coverage, who have a more traditional conservative view. Hell, even Ron Paul, who only appeared on the ballot in Louisiana, and was an accepted write-in in only four other states even got a tenth of a percent of the vote - as much as Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party candidate, who appeared on ballots in at least 2/3 of the country.

Finally, I want to close with a few comments on some state/local referendum votes that were publicized nationwide.

First, I'll address the one that's been on everyone's mind - California Proposition 8 - a ban on same-sex marriages. It was announced at approximately 1:30 this afternoon (Eastern time) that it had been officially passed (52.5% to 47.5%). This ban prohibits same sex marriages, and even though the California government claims that it will continue to recognize the approximately 30,000 same-sex marriages that were performed since it was legalized a few short months ago, it acknowledges that legal challenges may invalidate such unions. Honestly, where does something like this even start to belong in government, at any level? Marriage is traditionally a religious institution. Some progressive churches recognize same-sex marriages as valid. Shouldn't it, in that case, be protected under the First Amendment right to freedom of religion? Even taking a moment and subtracting religion from the equation - what really is marriage? What benefits does it give the married couple? Predominately, it gives married couples tax breaks, the right to visitation during hospital stays, the right to share health insurance coverage. How does this harm anything? If two people are in love, these should be guaranteed rights, regardless of marital status. Additionally, how does the marital union of Adam and Steve affect the sanctity of the marital union between John and Jane? It doesn't. Bottom line is this: two people are in love. They should have the right to join in a legal union. Banning this legal union is completely asinine, and arguably unconstitutional, if religion is involved.

Nebraska banned Affirmative Action. as far as I know, they are the first state in the Union to do that. The Affirmative Acton programs have been broken for a very long time, and have been in need of, at the least, a serious reformation, and at the most, a complete abolition. I welcome Nebraska's precedent.

Missouri voted overwhelmingly (86.3% to 13.3%) to make English the official state language. This is kind of a bittersweet precedent. On one side, it appears that lawmakers in the state have listened when people have argued that English is not the official language of America when others have argued that all residents should speak English. On the other hand, it could very well be an isolationist signal that Missouri doesn't want non-English speaking immigrants, defying the words written on the Statue of Liberty. Overall, I think I can accept it more in Missouri than I could in a state such as New York or Florida, where a large portion of the population is made up of immigrants.

South Dakota, as conservative a state as it is, voted 55.2% to 44.8% against an abortion ban. A victory such as this shows that Roe v. Wade will stand. Women's rights are safe.

Massachussetts voted 65.2% to 34.8% in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, which is another major milestone in the various legalization efforts across the country. I'm not one to want to partake in marijuana, even if it were legal, but from a practical standpoint, legalizing it would save a lot of taxpayer dollars. How many people are in jail because they were found with a joint in their pocket?

Michigan also voted to legalize medical marijuana and allow stem cell research. The latter is a huge deal, as it provides a safe haven within the US to research into a potentially highly valuable segment of medicine, currently either prohibited or discouraged throughout the rest of the nation - a segment of medicine that is becoming far less reliant on fetal stem cells, and can be carried out with far less fatal sources of stem cells, almost as good as the fetal stem cells.

In the least talked about, but likely second most important state issue this election (second only to CA Prop 8, mentioned above) was the Florida bill to define marriage, passed overwhelmingly 62.1% to 31.9%, which not only defines marriage and further prohibits same-sex marriage in Florida, but also deems any union outside of actual marriage (religious or legal) would be null and void under Florida law. This includes civil unions, common law marriages (recognized in Florida since it first became a state), and other types of non-marriage unions between two people, regardless of the genders of the people involved in the union (it would ban both opposite-sex and same-sex unions). This is a measure that shouldn't have been entertained by even the marginally intelligent people, let alone the average voting population of Florida. Apparently, much like the Slots Amendment in Maryland, it was railroaded through with little education of the public. Most of the people voting for it thought they were voting against same-sex marriage, not heterosexual legal unions as well.

I won't even go into the last issue that irks me this year - the Maryland Slots Constitutional Amendment. That's worthy of a post unto itself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama wins. Change is up to us.

Obama has won it.

Let's take a moment of silence for the death of the American dream.

Obama is far better than McCain, but far less than this once-proud country deserves. There was only one candidate running this year that demonstrated American values. That candidate was Ron Paul. He, after dropping out of the race, endorsed candidate Chuck Baldwin. I voted for Chuck Baldwin, knowing he wouldn't win, but seriously hoping for a candidate for the future.

The next four years are Obama's. Let's pull together and make the years after that the years of a true American candidate. Let's make 2012 the year of return to American values. Let's make 2012 the year in which we can proudly wave the flag in favor of the President elect, being someone that will uphold the Constitution, repeal the Patriot Act, and return America to the freedoms that we have been guaranteed in the Constitution.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On the infamous Diebold voting machines...

It just occurred to me...

Does anyone know what the internal Diebold shipping/inventory numbers are for various Diebold voting machines sent out nationwide?

It seems to me that the faulty Diebold machines only seem to surface in contested states. this would lead me to believe that the Diebold machines with the "faulty" software are only shipped to these states. Furthermore, if the preceding is true, then wouldn't Diebold have some sort of means of keeping track of which machines are loaded with the vote-flipping software and which aren't - so they know which to ship where?

Has anyone investigated this?

Tomorrow is Election Day! GO VOTE!

We all know the American voting system is rigged. There have been countless stories showing fraudulent voting machines, rigging the election system, and other fraudulent voting acts. Additionally, there have been many instances, particularly in swing states (such as the misleading fake flyer floating around Virginia telling Democrats to vote on November 5th) of attempted misleading of voters.

The fact is, unless you have an absentee ballot or are allowed to vote early, the ONLY election day is November 4.

If there's enough support for one side or the other, no amount of voter fraud will be able to deny the will of the people. In my eyes, given the current statistics in favor of Obama ( has given Obama a 98.1% chance of winning, as of 7:32 PM, Monday, November 3), unless there's a landslide victory for either party, I'll be challenging the results.

The basic fact of the matter is that people generally prefer Obama to McCain, mainly because this entire country is sick of Bush politics. Even Republicans are claiming the Republican Party is dead, mostly due to misguided leadership, starting with Regan, and only getting worse since.

The bottom line is this: Go vote. Vote your way through the farce that is the election process in the US. Vote for what you believe in, regardless of party or candidate. Tomorrow, November 4th, is your chance to change America. Change it.

I don't care who you vote for. I just care that you vote.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How things change...

In the present day, the Democratic Party is is viewed as the party that wants to help everyone, bring about change, and generally fight for a better America. The Republican Party is viewed as fear and mate mongers, categorized by failed foreign and economic policies.

Supporters of the Democratic Party are often viewed as educated middle-class Americans, often white collar, but not particularly wealthy (read, not in the top 2% financially) along with urban blue-collar workers - those that are concerned with positive social programs, essential freedoms, and equality for all. Supporters of the Republican Party are often thought of as one of two types of people: wealthy fat cats that use their wealth for personal gain, and lesser-educated people, generally poor and white (but not always so), living in rural areas, who are often termed rednecks and/or racists (I know this is far from true, but this is the common stereotype - Republicans have George W. Bush to thank for that).

Let's set the way back machine for 1860, when Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President, won the nomination and eventually the election for President. Three years later in 1863, he abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, which led to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1865, which abolished slavery on a Constitutional level. Lincoln won two terms in office, and energized the Northern States so much that, along with Lincoln's reelection in 1864, every Northern state also elected a Republican Governor, and both the Senate and House also had overwhelming Republican majorities. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 (shortly after the Thirteenth Amendment had passed into law) by John Wilkes Booth, a man who sided heavilly with the South and Southern politics, and who was likely to be a member of the Democratic Party, though I can find no information to back up my speculation on his party affiliation.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, founded in the early 1790s, had been split down the middle because of the Civil War, resulting in the Northern-based War Democrats and the Southern-based Peace Democrats. Much of the War Democrats party sided with Lincoln, and became Republicans. The War Democrats party faded into oblivion shortly thereafter, leaving the Southern-based Peace Democrats, who ultimately became just the Democratic Party.

As we are all taught in grade school American History classes, the South was not happy about their defeat in the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. This resentment of progressive politics and a declaration of freedom for all, regardless of race, gave rise to the Klu Klux Klan. The KKK, being mostly Southerners, who were mostly Peace Democrats, were the most supportive of the Democratic Party. In fact, historian Eric Foner observed:

In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party's infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.

Wow, look at that. The Democratic party, the same Democratic Party that has now nominated a black man for president, was once wildly backed by the militant white supremacist group, the KKK. It should also be noted that other early values of the Democratic Party were preservation of the Second Amendment Right To Bear Arms and opposition to a national bank and wealthy moneyed interests.

Here we are now, 150 years later, and it seems that the basic principles of both parties have completely reversed. The Democrats are the old Republicans, and the Republicans are the old Democrats.

It's funny how history works, isn't it?


Abraham Lincoln (Wikipedia)
Republican Party History (Wikipedia)
Democratic Party History (Wikipedia)
Klu Klux Klan (Wikipedia)
John Wilkes Booth

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm tired of fighting...

Barack did this. McCain did that. Palin did the other. "I don't support [candidate]." "Well, you must provide me with every possible reason to not support [candidate] or be thoroughly run through the ringer by myself and the rest of [candidate]'s supporters."

I'm sick and tired of fighting. I will vote for the best person for the job. It's not McCain or Obama. I'm tired of facing the barrage from both sides when I say I'm voting third party.

Infighting is not what America is about. America is about coming together for a singularly important cause, and fighting for what is best for everyone. Unfortunately, with this election year (and the past several as a precedent), nobody is willing to bind together and figure out what is truly best for America. It seems that Americans have lost sight of what it means to be American.

Being American is not about party affiliation. Being American is not about trying to demonize those Americans who disagree with you. Being American isn't about settling for the lesser evil. Being American isn't about being mesmerized by an intelligent speaker or a man who wants to wave the flag but refuse to deliver.

Being American is about standing up for yourself. You may be one voice in millions, but you are heard. You may be just an average person, but your opinions matter. You may be just someone who wants the best for their family, but your needs are important.

These concepts seem lost on most Americans. Most Americans seem more interested in party infighting and trying to prove that their opponents are evil or anti-American. The vast majority of Americans have been caught in this trap. I'd be willing to say that at least 80% of Americans are voting for their candidate based solely on said candidates speaking abilities or catering to the people's emotions through lies.

I'd be willing to bet that even George Washington, our first (and arguably best) President wouldn't be able to get elected in the modern age. George Washington was a man that stood for integrity, honesty, and the best American interests - namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. He fought for Americans to be free from persecution by any authority, foreign or domestic. He helped to create a country based on liberty; based on freedom. Today, he'd be regarded as a crazy nut-job, just like many other third party candidates, or candidates that strove to change the party they belonged to.

I'm tired of the fighting. I'm tired of the failed policies. I'm tired of the lies. I'm tired of the promises that, if implemented, would only serve to place a heavier burden on the backs of the common person, who is already burdened enough.

Why can't this country just agree that we all need our liberties and freedoms? Why can't this country just agree that we all need our freedoms? Why can't this country just agree that we need to focus on ourselves before we focus on the rest of the world?

I feel that I'm being forced to choose between two great evils our country has fought against in the past: fascism and socialism (fascism being a stepping stone into Nazism, and socialism being a stepping stone into Communism). I refuse to choose for the lesser of two evils, particularly when both evils lead to wholly un-American forms of government. We fought the Nazis in WWII, and we fought Communism during the entire Cold War.

I'll post one thing here that a friend of mine said to me, as I feel it has relevance to this discussion, even though I don't completely agree with it:

"I blame Regan for all of the political infighting. He ended the Cold War. While the Cold War was still going on, both parties had a common evil to fight, and both parties strove to find the best ways to combat this enemy, thus working together to fight for a common goal. When the Cold War ended, neither party was able to find a new common goal, and thus started fighting with each other." (paraphrased)

He makes several very good points in this statement. Overall though, I tend to disagree with him on one major point: no common goal since the end of the Cold War. The fact is, there are many goals that should have been common between both parties since the end of the Cold War. Poverty, the failing educational system (for instance, education: 40% of high school graduates not being able to find the US on a globe - yeah, that was the statistic in 1993, when I graduated High School - yes, I can find the US, and many other nations, on a globe), overwhelming dependence on foreign oil (first made into a national issue in the early 1970s by Richard Nixon), starving domestic farmers, and several others. There were plenty of common goals to strive for, though none had the media flare of "fighting the Russkies!"

Here we are in 2008, facing one of the most important elections of our time (funny, the same thing has been said in the past two elections - both of which gave the Presidency to George W. Bush), and people are still voting on emotions. Very few voters have educated themselves (most who will read this post are likely among those very few). Obama is the projected winner, and frankly, if I had to choose only between Obama or McCain, Obama would be my choice - I'd be likely to be happier under an Obama administration than under a McCain administration (I say that as someone who, fourteen months ago, was a strong McCain supporter).

I educated myself about the candidates. I registered as Libertarian (I even remember an op/ed article in my high school newspaper calling the Libertarian party Anarchists - which is unfair - Libertarians are not anarchists - they're Constitutionalists). In the Maryland primaries, I was not able to vote for a presidential candidate, but I devoted my time towards educating others about Ron Paul. I even donated to the Ron Paul campaign, though I couldn't really afford to give out any money. I swayed a few disenfranchised Republican voters (my mother being my greatest achievement - she's been a lifelong staunch Republican, but even she is sick of the Republican party, and is now seriously considering re-registering, after this election, as a Libertarian - she will not be voting for McCain or Obama this election).

Now, I'm just sick and tired of the infighting. I'm tired of trying to sway people to the various third party candidates. I'm tired of being assaulted every time I make my politics known. I'm tired of being an outcast. I will vote how I will vote. I've made my choice. It does not include either McCain or Obama.

Ron Paul has started his revolution. Many people are following him. It's only a matter of time before he makes a difference.

Revolution has begun. It will not involve guns or violence. It will involve votes and petitions. It will become a growing movement as people become more aware of their problems. It will ultimately be a redefinition of government rules and regulations, as determined by the people, as it always should have been. Ron Paul's revolution will be a return of the government to the people, as was always intended. Even the sheep will eventually wake up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I see what's happening here...

Gas prices are plummeting! Woo hoo! I won't go broke filling up my gas-guzzling, too-big-for-the-road SUV! I'll be able to cruise for chicks in my Hummer H1 again (now I have to remember how to navigate tight residential streets in it without destroying anything)!

Yeah, if you're rooting for alternative energies, the above will prove to be yet another collapse of the alternative energies markets.

We've seen it before.

Back in the early 1970s, during the last major oil crisis (noted in a recent post: The Energy Crisis: Old News) interest in alternative energies skyrocketed to the point where the government was insisting on them. What happened to all of that? Barely anything. There were a few alternative energies made good - such as solar, but really, in practical application, only so much as calculators and garden lighting, with a few "environmental zealots" building homes that functioned largely on solar power. E10 gasoline was made into the standard, using 10% Ethanol (which had a higher cost per gallon than gasoline at the time, but was renewable) as a supplement for gasoline, and could run in any engine.

What killed that boom and cry for alternative energies? Oil became cheap again.

Again in the early 1990s, oil prices went up again (thanks, OPEC!), and a cry for alternative fuels was heard again (though not as loudly as in the 1970s). The result was the GM EV1, an all-electric car, along with several all-electric competitors from other auto-makers, such as Toyota and Honda.

All of these cars were destroyed, literally, by the end of the 1990s. The cause was a combination of the government, the manufacturers, OPEC, and even the general consumer. Besides, gas was cheap again! Hell, it was under a dollar a gallon again - the US hadn't seen that in nearly eight years!

Now, we've been seasoned to think that anything less than three dollars a gallon is cheap (having dealt with $4+/gallon gas for a while), and with the national average sinking towards $2.50/gallon, Americans are excited. The only thing that's prevented an upswing in sales for new, high dollar, gas-guzzling cars is the economy at large.

As it turns out, with fuel prices sinking, there's apparently a reduction of interest in alternative fuels once again. Modern electric car pioneers like Tesla Motors are finding themselves in financial dire straights. Alternative energy programs for alternative energies to power the electric grid (technologies such as wind, solar, and hydro-electric) are finding themselves with financial stays or even program cancellations. There have also been talks in OPEC about cutting supply to drive prices up again - artificially - the same thing that's been the cause of the past two or more oil shortages.

Between the government and OPEC, we'll never be allowed to see alternative energies until the oil supply on the planet completely runs out, leaving the common person in the dark (literally and figuratively) until alternatives are implemented.

The time to act is now. Who cares how much oil is left? We need to be energy independent today. Oil is not going to last forever. We need alternatives today. The technologies exist today (and have for at least thirty years, and they've gotten better over the years). We just need to implement them. We need to break the American addiction to oil. We need to create viable (and likely seamless) transitions to alternative energies.

We just need to learn to support ourselves.

Friday, October 17, 2008


You want a real tax plan?

Three words - flat tax rate.

Currently, after tax returns at the end of the year, I'm paying about 26% in taxes, both state and federal. For simplicities sake, we'll just round it off to 25%.

Everyone gets taxed at 25%.

This means that the low-paid laborer that only makes $20,000/year would pay $5,000/year in taxes, while the corporate CEO bringing in $20,000,000/year would pay $5,000,000/year in taxes.

This automatically scales actual tax payments between income levels, and has the poor paying less, the middle class paying a middle amount, and the rich paying a large amount.

I'd even want to see it taken a step further and raise the minimum wage for tax liability. Since it's nearly impossible to live in this country on a salary of $20,000/year (even though the official poverty level is $10,400 - which is insulting, in my opinion), I'd like to see the minimum wage for tax liability raised to around $30,000/year - higher if we can cut the massive spending of our government (according to the US Census Bureau, the median income per person in 2007 was around $38,000 per year). This would have the added benefit of allowing our poor to actually use every dollar they make to support themselves, rather than losing a quarter of their already low salary to taxes. The fact is, most of our employed poor in this country spend the money on such necessities as food, shelter, and clothing, and opt out of luxuries such as multiple or large-screen televisions, luxury cars, cable TV packages with all of the premiums, fine dining, and other such things. (It should be noted that even with this suggestion, my income level places me well within the taxable portion of the country.)

I won't complicate this with exact math specifics (tax math is not exactly easy), but suffice to say, a flat tax rate that would be roughly equivalent to the current complicated tax rates would be around 20% for federal taxes, and 5% on average for state taxes would ultimately help people and keep the government afloat.

The major stumbling block to this is the $10 trillion+ debt that the US currently has. With current government expenditures as they are, a flat tax won't pay off the debt without reducing massive amounts of government spending and increasing taxes elsewhere, which is an option, because taxes on certain things - like luxury items and multiple home purchases/equity, would tax only those that could afford the higher rates.

Unfortunately, bad voter decisions and subsequent bad government choices have put us into this financial quagmire. If the US was ever to become truly an independent nation again, elimination of debt is the first step to take. We cannot be independent when foreign nations own a major part of our economy. We, as citizens, are ultimately responsible for the debt caused by our government. A flat tax would help to ease the burden on the people.

Bottom line, everyone would be paying the same percentage, regardless of income. As stated previously, the actual dollar amount would increase along with salary, so the poor would pay less, and the rich would pay more. It's the fairest way to determine taxes (no to mention eliminating the amount of wasted time everyone spends in January, February, and March trying to figure out just what they owe in taxes - "oh hey, I made this, so I owe that" is far more easy).

I'm not proposing lower taxes, I'm proposing fairer taxes. Perhaps our great-grandchildren will see lower taxes. You might be on a 30 year mortgage for your home, but the American government is on a 200+ year mortgage for the economy.

It's a mess. We need to clean it up and fix it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Energy Crisis - Old News.

Hearing the debate tonight, it seemed that the issue discussed for a significant portion of it (nearly half an hour) was the current Energy Crisis. Everything that's being placed on the table to try and solve it, from offshore drilling to alternative energy development, was first suggested thirty-five years ago when Richard Nixon was president.

Most people think of Nixon as the President that resigned due to his involvement in the Watergate scandal. The fact is, he had a great energy plan, with massive support for alternative energies while he was President. Under his plan, we would have been energy independent by 1980.

From: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 410, No. 1, 65-74 (1973):

The Nixon Administration Energy Policy
Rogers C.B. Morton

First Congressional District of Maryland in the United States

A serious energy situation awaited the incoming Nixon administration in 1968. It stemmed from the fact that the nation was, and continues to be, in a period of transition from a long era of cheap and abundant indigenous energy and neglect of environmental consequences to one of scarcity of acceptable clean fuels, growing dependence on foreign energy imports, inadequate development of alternate clean energy sources and a growing interest in maintaining, or enhancing, environmental values. Reacting to the challenge, the Nixon administration adopted an energy policy designed to ensure an adequate and dependable supply of energy to meet the country's essential requirements and to assure its prosperity and security in ways which are consistent with the nation's environmental and social goals. The administration has moved to stimulate increased utilization of all energy sources found within the United States, including those of the outer continental shelf, and to remove artificial price and bureaucratic barriers which restrict the flow of gas and oil to markets. Suggestions have been made for the extensive reorganization of the executive branch which would enhance the government's ability to perceive and respond to energy problems and opportunities. The administration has taken steps to conserve energy in its operations both as a substantive measure and as an example to others. Actions have been taken—and others proposed—to use more fully private and public funds and expertise to solve the problems of finding new clean energy sources and to make currently used sources less environ mentally degrading. Steps have been taken to reduce the regulatory and administrative impediments which slowed, or prevented, construction of needed energy producing facilities. Finally, the Nixon administration has moved in concert with other nations both to conduct research in the energy area and to discover means of preventing future energy shortages.

From the Department of Energy timeline, 1971-1980:

November 7, 1973
President Nixon launches Project Independence, with the goal of achieving energy self-sufficiency by 1980. Recalling the Manhattan Project, Nixon declares that American science, technology, and industry can free the United States from dependence on foreign oil.

The text of Nixon's November 25, 1973 address on national energy policy. (PDF document)

The fact is, Richard Nixon - the "crook", a Republican, was the first to seriously promote energy independence. It should also be noted that the Nixon Administration also created such government agencies as NOAA and OSHA. It's too bad that he destroyed his career with a scandal of massive proportions (Watergate) exposing massive corruption in his administration. I would otherwise be willing to count him among the greatest Presidents this country has seen. He really did archive much good for the country before he betrayed it.

This post isn't about Nixon, however. It's about energy policy. Honestly, had we listened to Nixon, and his later successors Ford and particularly Carter, this country might actually be energy independent already. Just think of how different things might be if oil prices weren't an issue.

I just find it ironic that this issue was important in 1973, and all but forgotten about until recently, when oil threatened to hit $200/barrel. Now, thirty-five years later, it's an issue again, and the debate is nearly the same.

It may be too much to ask, but can we finally learn from history this time around?

Tonight's debate drinking game - the quick and dirty version.

Anytime either candidate says the following, take a drink:


Anytime either candidate says the following, take two drinks:


Anytime John McCain says the following, take two drinks:

My friends

Anytime Barack Obama says the following, take two drinks:

Main Street

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Partisan Bickering

As a change, I'm going to drop the educated politics bit and just speak from the heart on this one. The language may end up a bit crude, and if that offends you, stop reading now.

Do you want to know the number one reason this country is in a shambles right now? Partisan bickering. Neither party really has a central cause to rally for, and instead they waste time and money bickering amongst themselves. The Democrats did that! The Republicans did the other!

You know what, fuck you both.

I am completely sick of the partisan bickering. This country will only suffer from both parties playing the blame game. We're in a quagmire of a war(s), the economy is collapsing around us, and all either major party can think to do is place blame? What the fuck? Seriously... if ever there was a time to work together and find a solution, it's now. Yeah, the election is in three weeks. Yeah, Obama is likely to win it (unless, of course, Diebold has their way, with all of the vote tampering machines). Both major candidates would gain a lot of votes if they just fucking sat down and tried to find solutions to the domestic problems. Let's stop arguing and actually do something!

Right now, on the major party ticket, I'm faced with "The Democrats destroyed the world, vote for McCain/Palin" and "The Republicans destroyed the world, vote Obama/Biden". The simple fact is that neither of these fuckers want to actually sit down and discuss the matters like rational adults. Both candidates strike me as petty schoolchildren, trying to get another classmate in trouble over things that don't really matter.

The fucking bickering and resultant political spin is mind-boggling. I refuse to vote for anyone with a four-year-old's mindset when it comes to politics - particularly when the country is in the shambles it's in.

Honestly, how can any person that's educated themselves on the issues at hand really vote for either major party candidate, after both have repeatedly proven themselves to be nothing more than bickering schoolchildren? There's a huge difference between healthy debate and just looking like an ass.

Vote third party. Make your vote count against the major parties. No third party candidate is going to win this election. Votes for the third party candidates will count as votes against both of the major party candidates. At least, once the shit really hits the fan, you'll be able to say that "I voted against both Obama and McCain". Draw notice to the third party candidates. Vote the shit out of them. Vote with your heart and conscience, and not for the "lesser of two evils."

Make a fucking stand.