Give Me Your House, I Want to Build a Mini-Mall

I found this interesting bit today regarding our Supreme Court's recent mistake.

The only problem I have with it is that last comment which reads, "Telling of how the left's lust for government power really affects the poor, isn' it?" We have a conservative court. Otherwise, a very significant listing of examples of how Americans really just want to fuck each other over for money.

Supreme Court Decides: Shopping Malls Are More Important Than Your Property

Today the Supreme Court ruled that city and other local governments can take your house for pretty much any reason as long as it fits some local ex-student coucil president's idea of "the public good." Basically, the Court decided that local governments are allowed to use eminent domain to take people's homes and businesses, even if they aren't blighted, for "public use." Local governments have been pulling this kind of crap for a long time, but this is the first time the Supreme Court has given such a broad definition of eminent domain.

I understand that there are times when eminent domain may be the necessary last option in order to build something that truly is in the public's best interest. Roads, or dams, or even a hospital might be projects that I would think could fall under the definition of the public good. Even the careful redevelopment of a "blighted area" could be a reasonable case for using eminent domain. I can also appreciate that progress must sometimes include the violation of certain people's rights when no other options remain. But the Court has essentially given big business and investors, and the local governments that court them (no pun intended), a green light to ruin people's lives and happiness so they can bring Americans another Walmart or Target or, in the case of the Connecticut residents who took their case to the High Court, a fucking hotel.

The Court ruled today that local governments are in a far better position to decide what is in the best interests of their citizens than a federal judge. The problem is that local governments are far more corruptable than a federal judge, and stand to gain financially and otherwise by allowing and using a wide definition of the public good. Meanwhile average Joe's right to pursue happiness, not to mention his whole way of life, can be uprooted and destroyed because a small group of people would rather have hotel or a shopping mall instead of his house or farm. I find it hard to believe that a shopping mall, or a hotel, is ever more important than the property rights of an individual. In a day and age when our rights are constantly being chipped away, we need the Supreme Court to defend them, to ensure that the Constitution remains strong and protective of our rights and property. The High Court sadly failed in that duty today, to the greater peril of us all.

Wow. We Are Still In America, Right?

Today I saw an article on Rolling Stone's web site.

Here's the link.

This scares me. I mean, don't you think there are a few more pressing matters facing our nation and world right now other than Howerd Stern and Bono? This is the perfect example of a bunch of ex-student council presidents thinking they know what's best for us.

3/3/05 Update: How come none of you fascist mother f*%kers has commented on this? How can you not be as outraged and disgusted as I am? You fucking sheep! Just follow along, do whatever the FCC wants you to do. Pretty soon you'll be fined for thinking something obscene.

For those of you too lazy to follow the link, the editorial is about how the FCC wants to impose fines that are comparable to those levied for serious crimes for the utterance of a single word or two that may be deemed as obscene or inappropriate. Now go read the editorial, do some research, and get pissed!

Mahmoud Abbas: The World's Hope for Peace

With the election of Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen as he is commonly referred to by Palestinians, the world has a new hope for peace. The more I think about this, the more excited I become about the possible development of an indpendent, and hopefully free Palestinian state. The potential for finally creating a peaceful coexistance between Isreal and the Palestinian people is a major step forward for the Middle East and the world.

Over the past years, it had become increasingly evident that Yasser Arafat was not seeking peace, but only to maintain his own corrupt rule. Despite the often poor attitude and actions of the Isrealis, one must see Arafat as the major impediment to the peace process in the past. I only hope Abu Mazen will be a beacon of peace and reasonable rule for the Palestinian people and the rest of the Middle East.

Two Cows

A friend sent me this. A new take on an old list.

TWO COWS

DEMOCRAT
You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.
Barbara Streisand sings for you.

REPUBLICAN
You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
So?

SOCIALIST
You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

COMMUNIST
You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.

CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and create a herd of cows.

DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.
The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE
You have two cows.
The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours the milk down the drain.

AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead.
You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.

FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

GERMAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

RUSSIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

TALIBAN CORPORATION
You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.
You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.
Then you kill them and claim a US bomb blew them up while they were in the hospital.

IRAQI CORPORATION
You have two cows.
They go in hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.

FLORIDA CORPORATION
You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who like the brown one best, vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which is the best-looking cow.

CALIFORNIA CORPORATION
You have millions of cows.
Most are illegals.
Arnold likes the ones with the big tits.

Psalm 2004

A friend sent me this. l thought it was funny.

Psalm 2004

Bush is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down on park benches.
He leadeth me beside the still factories.
He restoreth my doubts about the Republican Party.
He leadeth me onto the paths of unemployment for his cronies' sake.
Yea, though no weapons of mass destruction have been found, He makest me continue to fear Evil.
His tax cuts for the rich and deficit spending discomfort me.
He anointest me with never-ending debt. Verily my days of
savings and assets are kaput.
Surely poverty and hard living shall follow me
all the days of his administration,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

Maybe I was Arrogant and Wrong

Unless you live in a hole, you know the election for 2004 is over and President Bush has won four more year in office. If you live in Ohio, you also know that the majority Republican party remains firmly entrenched in its rule of the state. If you read foreign newspapers (or their websites) you know that many people in the rest of the world wonder, as one newspaper put it, how 59, 459, 765 Americans could be so dumb. Well, as my dad says, there it is.

I really hoped we would see change in America this year. I really hoped we ould change our course. I guess I really thought that a majority of voting Americans would be smart enough to realize our current course is disastrous and more of the same isn't going to help save us. It's not that I necessarily thought John Kerry would be a better president that George Bush, I just knew that he would at least lead us elsewhere, anywhere, but where we are going now.

I have had some time in the last few days to truly clarify my thinking about this election. I know in my previous entry I included a list of reasons why I wasn't going to vote for George Bush. Now I realize that list wasn't succinct enough, it didn't get to the root of the issue. My previous list was just a list for Democrats who already agreed with me. But now I realize why no American should have voted for Pres. Bush, why anyone with any sense should have voted somebody other than George W. Bush. President Bush was quoted as saying the other day that he still wanted to cut the deficit in half over the next five years. I say great! But it is now clear our President is either delusional, a simpleton, or that he knows something no one else does. This is clear because it doesn't take an economist to know that we cannot pay for a war in Iraq, cut taxes, and cut the deficit. Can't be done. Perhaps that President meant he wanted to slow the growth of the deficit. Okay, but same question. The numbers simply do not add up.

The thing is, George Bush just doesn't get it. Is he really that disconnected with the rest of the country? He must know that his administration's current policies can't work. If we are going to finish the job in Iraq, that is going to take money. If we are going to cut the deficit, that is going to take money. Where is this money going to come from, if not from taxes? How could the president really believe we are okay, unless he has some magnificent plan up his sleeve that we don't yet know about? Perhaps the Bush administration plans to cut government programs to save money. The National Parks service, the EPA, the Department of Veterans affairs, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs all cost money, perhaps they'll start with them. Maybe the Bush administration has decided that some children can be left behind after all. They can save a few dollars there.

The bottom line is this. Anyone who can do about one second's worth of addition and subtraction in their head can figure out that our country is weakening economically every single day. We simply can't maintain our current level of defecit spending, while trying grow economically. We must stop this fantasy-land charade. Unfortuantely, the time for 59, 459, 765 Americans to pull their heads out of the sand has passed. Now we must pray and endure another four years of job loss, economic decline, fear, war, and uncertainty. Pres. Bush said he wants to heal the country and work with both parties to move America forward. I hope that wasn't more campaign-like empty rhetoric. I hope he means it, because no matter who is president, we need some change, and we need it now.

I'm Not Arrogant, I'm Just Right

I just read Skippy's most recent post on Cake, Pres. Bush, and civility, among other things. It got me to thinking about some things that have been on my mind recently about the respective presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John Kerry. Basically, I am just very disappointed in the whole process. Both campaigns have been slinging about rhetoric that really doesn't help inform voters as much as make you afraid of the opposition. In my opinion, the Bush campaign has been the most serious offender, but the Kerry campaign has been guilty of it too. Civility, as Skippy points out, is indeed gone from the process of election politics, to detriment of our political system.

While I would love to make the argument that the trend in uncivilzed discourse among the candidates and supporters is merely a reflection of the modern American character, I won't. Instead I want to share something of my own experience.

My wife often accuses me of being unwilling to listen to arguments made by the Bush campaign and its supporters, and she often observes that I get impatient, arrogant, and take on an insulting tone of voice. While I don't necessarily agree with her, I can see her point. See, my basic problem is that I have no patience for stupidity, ignorance, or empty rhetorical political speech. I challenge you to turn on a Bush campaign speech or event and find anything but empty rhetoric designed to make you afraid of John Kerry. I simply am tired of it. Tell me something real. Tell me something true - and by true I don't mean some statistic taken out of context or twisted to fit the argument. Back up your statements. Make me think. Give me pause and persuade me. I want my presidential nominees to tell me what they are going to do, not make be afraid to vote for the other guy.

In a little informal poll I have taken among Bush supporters, the most common responce to my question "Why are you voting for Bush?" is "Because Kerry's an asshole," or "Kerry won't fight terrorism." How sad. In fact I have yet to have one person say something like, "Because I really like what George Bush has done for our country and I think he needs to keep up the good work. Here's why I like him..." If the goal of the Bush campaign is to win by making you afraid of Kerry, they have done a bang-up job. No thinking involved, just fear.

The problem is Joe America doesn't want to think - not much anyway, and it is much more effective for a candidate to sell and market himself, and to make you afraid of the opposition, than to give honest and straight-forward answers to questions of policy and vision. The reason I become impatient with people who want to have a political discussion with me about George W. Bush is that they often begin by spouting off the same bullshit and rhetoric. If I want that I can turn on the TV. Instead give me some facts. Give me some real plans and historical references for why you think we should take a particular action. Of course the sad fact is that most people can't do that. So they flip you off or yell obscenities instead.

Since I am on a bit of a roll, and since you may be reading this and saying "Okay asshole, why are you voting for Kerry then?" I'll tell you my most basic reasons. You will notice that these are actually mostly based on my opinion of Pres. Bush's job so far, and are not necessarily a vote of confidence in John Kerry.

  1. No WMD's in Iraq, but a lot of dead American soldiers. Meanwhile Osama is hell and gone.
  2. The war in Iraq is not part of the war on terror. The Bush campaign's continued emphasis on this fabirication distresses me.
  3. The Bush administration's general emphasis on fear of terrorism to sell the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, and the destruction of precious American wilderness in some hapless quest for oil.
  4. I find the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family to be spooky and suspicious.
  5. I find Dick Cheney to be spooky and suspicious, especially his connections to Haliburton.
  6. John Ashcroft is spooky and suspicious.
  7. The Bush administration's economic policy is ludicrous. Tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations isn't helping the majority of Americans one lick. Think unemployment. Think massive national debt.
  8. Even if one accepts President Bush's economic ideas as reasonable, you can't cut taxes and then invade a large country halfway around the world, dismantle its government, and create a democracy while maintaining order. That kind of thing is expensive, and you can't do it on the nation's Discover card, even with the cash back bonus, although I bet those kick backs are rolling in for someone (see points 4 and 5).
  9. My mom can barely pay for her basic medications because her Medicare benefits are down and her premiums are up, even with supplemental insurance. I bet she isn't the only one. In fact, I am generally upset with the entire state of our health care industry, which is basically being run by profit driven insurance companies and drug companies. Guess who supports the interests of big health insurance and drug companies?
  10. No Child Left Behind? Come down to the neighborhood where I teach, and I can show you a few you've missed, Pres. Bush.

What will John Kerry do better? I have no idea, but he has at indicated a direction that I prefer in most of these issues. I'll place my bet with him. Now if you can enlighten me as to why I should vote for Pres. Bush, I am all ears. Just please don't give me the finger.

School Prayer: The Answer to Everything

Tonight I found myself engaged in thought about the benefits of school prayer. My friend Carina had sent out a comment she received on her blog espousing the wonders of school prayer. This all got me to thinking about the nature ouf our country and what it is we really want.

First off, I think think prayer is great. Prayer as a form of meditation is incredibly important. As a Christian, prayer as a form of communication with God is vitally important to my faith. As a teacher in a parochial school, I pray several times a day with my students. Prayer has been shown to heal wounds, physical and emotional, as well as spiritual. Prayer is great.

Not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim? That's okay. You don't have to pray to God to get prayer's benefits. Prayer to, or meditation on, whatever your "higher power" may be is helpful and great too. Study upon study shows this to be true, or as true as anything intangible can be. The point is, prayer, spiritual reflection, or meditation helps us in a vareity of ways. At the most basic level, even enjoying a few minutes of real silence in this world of noise, constant stimulation, and activity can have wonderful benefits. People live longer, healthier lives, and students do better in school when they pray or meditate. So why no school prayer?

Well the catch is that mandated school prayer, or even a group sort of "you can pray with the rest of us if you want" kind of thing violates separation of church and state. Publicly funded schools can't acknowledge any one religion without allowing for them all. You can't force a Judeo-Christian God on Bobby the Driuid (as much as you might like to). Can you imagine the morning Our Father, prayer to Mecca, tree hugging, chanting, or moment of silence option? It just can't work in a public school. While prayer may very well do a lot of good (and I believe it does), it's not going to solve the many problems and skewed values many Americans hold. It won't save us from violence in an impoverished inner-city school. It's not going to make parents pay any more attention to their kids than before. Prayer won't make us stop wanting, wanting, wanting anything and everything the television and media advertises. Not by iteself, anyway.

No, prayer is not the answer for public education. Perhaps we should instead look at what it is within us that makes some yearn for it. Maybe we should look at what we hope to accomplish by introducing faith and spirituality back into schools. Why do we think prayer will help? What is it we lack that that we think prayer may provide? What else can we do, besides violate the constitution, that will aid us in our quest for better children and healthier spiritual lives? I think many of us can guess at far more effective answers than mandated school prayer, but no one wants to accept them. Dollars don't come from a culture that favors love of fellow man over that latest fashion. The fact is, unless we as an entire society, as an entire culture, or group of sub-cultures, change our values and desires, and try to agree on what it is we want our country to be, then we are sunk. We'll just keep on attaching dollar signs to happiness and calibers to power. Let's work on changing ourselves before we try to force sentimental memories on a generation in need of role models, not new rules. Let's change our kids with love and attention and good examples, not some new political fight that further divides our already crumbling nation. Then, and only then, can a universal American spirituality surface. Then it won't be a question of why, but of how.

Marriage Amendment Letter

The following is the text from a short letter I sent to both of my senators regarding the current debate over the propsed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. For the record, both of Ohio's senators, Sen. Voinovich and Sen. DeWine, are conservative Republicans.

Dear Senator [insert name],

I am writing you today to urge you to stand against any amendment to the U.S. constitution that would ban gay marriage or civil unions. Not only would such an amendment be in direction opposition to a person's right to seek happiness within reasonable limits but, more importantly, the federal government has no business legislating marriage laws in the first place.

Senator, the right to make and enforce marriage laws belongs to the states, not the the federal government. That is the way things should remain. I am very concerned that certain members of Congress are even considering amending our constitution over an issue which, quite frankly, is of relatively little importance. The business of the federal government, and of Congress, should involve defending our nation from foreign attack, maintaining our national infrastructure, and regulating interstate commerce, not pandering to the religious right in an effort to gain votes in an election year.

While I am aware that there are not enough votes currently to proceed with the amendment process, I am concerned that our Congress is wasting valuable time and resources over something that should be left to the states in the first place. As a conservative I am sure you want to fight any further instrusion by the federal government into the lives of our people. I trust you will stand against any law or constitutional amendment that would allow the federal government to regulate the private lives of Americans.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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