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.