Monday, April 21, 2008

Are we done with the primaries yet?

I love my RSS reader - I can't always read everything that comes across, but I generally skim everything to see if there is anything that catches my interested. I have separate sections for blogs of friends, fun stuff, geeky stuff, LGBT related blogs, lifestyle-specific blogs, news, politics, science, tech stuff, miscellaneous editorial commentary, blogs by writers/about writing, and a category for totally random stuff (like the archive). I typically read 2 specific left-wing blogs for my daily dose of political commentary; AMERICAblog and Crooks & Liars.

I said "typically." For the last month or so, I've been largely skipping all posts from AMERICAblog on my RSS reader, and sticking entirely to C&L. Why? Because in recent weeks, AMERICAblog has become all about the Hillary Clinton hounding. I get that they love Obama, that's cool. He's a great candidate, and I will happily vote for him in the general election if he gets the dem nomination. I don't necessarily think he's better suited to the job of president than Hillary is, but they are so close on issues that I have no problem with pledging my vote to either one. I get that they are endorsing Obama, that's cool too. They are certainly entitled to endorse whomever they wish for the nomination.

That said, why do the authors of a left wing blog feel the need to get so hyped up, practically to the point of frothing at the mouth about Hillary, another left wing candidate? Has she, or people near her, said or done things that weren't completely politically correct? Yep. Has Obama or people near him said or done things that weren't completely politically correct? Yep again. It just seems to me that this is another tiresome instance of focusing on everything but the issues - you know, the things that matter. But then again, I suppose that when the candidates are so close on the issues, there isn't anything left to focus on but the extraneous bits.

Seriously, aren't there better things to report about than the left wing candidates' associates' brothers' dog pissing on the shoe of the other candidate? The dem primary is one small part of the larger political scene, and there are so many other things going on, politically, that should be talked about. I am normally very invested and interested in primary politics, and follow it eagerly up to the end - but now? I am just so sick of hearing about how the candidates are at each others' throats, I just want this season of politics to be over. It's not the candidates and what they are saying or doing that prompts that feeling for me, however - it's the "vast circle jerk of pomposity" that just won't stop.

For the reference made in the last paragraph, and some wise, strong words from Bill Maher on this subject, see this clip of 'new rules' from C&L.

When the primary season is over, and I can be reasonably sure I won't have 10 posts a day hounding after Hillary, or something one of her associates said or did, I'll resume regular reading of AMERICAblog - but until then, I'll be skimming post titles and clicking the handy "Mark all as read" button.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

International politics are so much fun to watch

I woke up today thinking that politicians in other countries are so much more interesting than the ones we grow here.

President Sarkozy of France, for example, is on his third marriage. He won this last election while married to his 2nd wife, but they divorced in November (or thereabouts). In less than 5 months, he courted & married Italian supermodel Carla Bruni - a very unpopular move on his part, according to opinion polls of the French people. What politician would be willing to get a high profile divorce while in office here, let alone rapidly remarry someone from another country while still in office?

Then there is Silvio Berlusconi, candidate for Prime Minister in Italy. He is seeking a 3rd term in office, after leaving office in 2006. The man is 71, has a permanent tan, and has had cosmetic surgery around his mouth and eyes. He is Italy's richest man, and has been on trial at least 6 different times for corruption, though never convicted. In reference to himself, Berlusconi has said that he is "The best political leader in Europe and the world."

Last year, after openly flirting with some women at an awards dinner (saying such things as "If I weren't married, I'd marry you right away" and "With you I'd go anywhere"), his wife Veronica - Berlusconi's 2nd marriage - demanded a public apology. He is nothing if not silver-tongued, however. His public apology included such statements as "Forgive me, I beg you. And take this public show of my private pride giving in to your fury as an act of love. One of many." and "I guard your dignity, like a treasure within my heart, even when careless comments slip off my tongue." The latest from Berlusconi is his assertion that the left wing in Italy has "no taste in women" and that the right wing women are much more beautiful.

Now, I wouldn't really want to have to deal with either of these gentleman on a regular basis, but I cannot deny that they are much more interesting to read about than our politicians.

Monday, March 10, 2008

News of the Day

A quick glance at my RSS reader today brought multiple headlines that made me go o_O and tilt my head sideways, in confusion or amusement.

The Catholic Church had a version update. New sins have been added to the list of mortal sins one can commit.

It's in the water! Prescription drugs fond in drinking water across the U.S.

It's for religious reasons. Man arrested for selling cocaine, found with woman's dead body packed in dry ice in his hotel room; cites religious reasons.

Those wacky Virginians - French kissing now a sex offense. New law passed in Virginia makes tongue kissing anyone under the age of 13 a criminal who must register as a sex offender.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Stark County, Ohio - woman forcibly, inappropriately strip searched

Fair warning - these videos are difficult to watch, and are not appropriate for young children or most workplaces.

Stark County, Ohio - woman forcibly, inappropriately strip searched (article and video). | Part 2 (only video).

Background: Hope Steffy, a woman from Stark county, Ohio was assaulted by a cousin, leading to a 911 call for help. When the police arrived, things got confused and the officer began treating Steffy as the troublemaker, not the victim. He requested to see her ID, and she mistakenly handed him the driver's license of her deceased sister- something she keeps as a memento in her wallet. This eventually led to her being cuffed and taken to the station to answer questions.

She was asked a standard battery of mental status questions, such as "do you have any desire to hurt yourself" - to which she said, "Now, or ever?" At that response, she was wrestled to the floor and forcibly stripped. The article includes a video of this part - you can see this small blond woman being pinned to the floor by at least 7 officers, 2 of whom are men. The policy of the Stark county sheriff is that any strip search must be completed only by officers of the same sex as the prisoner, which very obviously did not happen in this case.

You can hear many times in the video, Steffy ask why they are doing this to her, what is going on, etc. When they start removing her bra and underwear, she starts screaming for help. Sheriff's office representatives admit to then leaving Steffy alone in the cell, totally naked without even a blanket, for the next 6 hours, and later giving her only a weighted vest to wear when she is taken to booking. During her 6 hours in the cell, she was denied access to a phone or medical treatment for the broken tooth, bulging disk, and bruises she sustained during the strip.

The news crew investigating this story has received little response to their queries to the sheriff's office for the other side of the story, beyond a simple denial of the allegations. But this video is pretty damning, for what it shows. Even if not all of the allegations prove true, it is painfully obvious that the department policy of only allowing female officers to strip a female prisoner was violated - up to the point that the last 2 people in the room with Steffy were both men. Steffy and her husband are suing the sherrif's office over this incident, and themselves released the information to the news crew - though it seems that the news crew obtained the video on their own.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ron Paul is a terrifying man

People go on and on about how great Ron Paul is - but I admit I've done little research on him. But I watched a speech by him tonight - you can view it here on the Family Research Council website.

This man is terrifying. in the first 8 minutes of the speech, he talks about how he wants to remove various issues from the jurisdiction of the federal courts (including abortion rights, the definition of marriage, and prayer in schools), how he wants to eliminate income tax, and how he thinks we shouldn't be involved in the UN, WTO, the World Bank, etc. at all.

I can agree with the idea that we should not be involved in 'nation building' and playing world police. And I can agree with him that giving up personal liberties for safety and security is a bad idea. And yeah, parents and not the government should be the primary responsibility for the rearing of children. But I cannot believe that this idea of pulling out of the world society is a good answer to these problems. No, we shouldn't police the world and try to rebuild it in our image, but we shouldn't ignore its existence, either. Giving up personal liberties for safety isn't the answer either, but neither is giving up the social programs that do so much good for so many people. Granted, the welfare and social security systems need reworked, but a lot of people would be in dire straits without them - and I'm one of those people. Without governement medical aid, I would not be able to get treatment for my knees & back - if we were on a complete 'personal liberty' system such as he seems to be suggesting, I would be in vast amounts more pain and be much less functional in my daily life - and I certainly wouldn't be looking forward to the idea of being able to get back to work once I graduate my current school program!

We are interconnected as a society, and we need to realize that. All the talk of full personal liberty, what you earn belongs to you and not the government, and elimination of these social programs and incentives is fine if you are fully able to care for yourself personally and financially - but there are plenty of people who need help, either for a short time or in a longer term, and these ideas leave those people out in the cold to depend on the very limited resources of local charities, if they are able to get assistance even from those places.

If you eliminate income tax, how do you propose to fund government? Eliminating overseas involvement would reduce the money required, but is that really going to balance out? The cursory search I did on that this evening doesn't look like it would - at some point when it is not 3am, I will do some more digging into that part of this equation.

I marvel at the support I have seen for Ron Paul among the alternative communities, given his stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and the like. This man wants to remove the ability for the courts to have a say in what happens, so that a ban on these things can be pushed through all the faster. How can people for whom these are bedrock issues support Paul? Just because he espouses libertarian views in several issues, that doesn't seem to extend as far a woman's personal liberty when deciding on her reproductive future, or the liberty of a same-sex couple who wants to marry.

This political rant brought to you by the hour 03:00 and the chance viewing of a Ron Paul video, thanks to

Cross-posted to my personal journal.