Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Rape Of Justice

Bogs here, taking a quick blog break in the middle of my relocating and occupational duties to comment on an outrageous incident that happened close to home.

I didn’t know they do criminal background checks on rape victims, did you? Well, they do, and they did, and a 21-year-old woman who was
raped during a Tampa parade over the weekend spent two days in jail while her attacker roamed free.

To give you a little background, Tampa has been celebrating the invasion of a mythological pirate called
Jose Gaspar for ages. Drunken men in pirate costumes – actually the area’s top doctors, lawyers and businessmen – sail in on a pirate ship and “invade” the town every year in an event known as Gasparilla.

During the festivities, the mayor surrenders and hands these invaders the key to the city. Then kiddies compete alongside girls flashing their titties for the plastic beads and other trinkets the salty seadogs toss as they parade down the thoroughfare. And that’s just the daytime parade. The nighttime version, two weeks later, is far more rowdy.

Suffice it to say, there's a lot of drinking and a lot of flesh during Gasparilla.

The woman mentioned above was walking down the street – this is a rather affluent area, I might add, not “the hood” – when she was pulled into an alley and raped in broad daylight. When she sought help, police discovered an old warrant for her arrest and took her to jail. She was denied bail for two days

It turns out the warrant was erroneously issued when the woman was a teen, so her arrest was due to a clerical error that was never corrected.

In jail, the woman was denied her second dose of the
Morning After pill by a medical supervisor, who cited religious objections. The pill prevents conception if taken within 72 hours of the act (two pills are required, and the victim had already taken one). Some people, apparently including the jail's medical supervisor and many pharmacists nationwide, believe using this pill is a form of abortion, and refuse to dispense it.

The police were probably following procedure in arresting and jailing the woman right off the bat. Fortunately, this incident has sparked a
change to that highly questionable procedure.

The medical supervisor, on the other hand, is a misguided moron who should lose her job. It doesn’t seem like the right job for her anyway, seeing as her beliefs render her unable to fulfill its duties.

Not surprisingly, there is already talk about a lawsuits stemming from the woman’s arrest and the circumstances of her incarceration.

But I have an alternative penalty to suggest, at least for the medico: On the chance the rape victim should conceive as a result of her assault, the medico should be forced to provide financial support to the victim's child until he/she reaches 18. Same goes for those pharmacists. It seems a just and germane punishment, and it’s a much bigger financial commitment than any lawsuit is likely to garner.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

SOTU: A Surge Of Speechification

In preparation for my coverage of this year's State of the Union speech, I re-read my SOTU post for 2006. I have to say, it was pretty good, and a lot of it is certainly still relevant.

This year, some elements of the picture were different. The president, framed by Dick Cheney on one side as always, had Nancy Pelosi sitting in the spot typically occupied by Dennis Hastert. To his credit, Bush started his speech with the classy measure of saluting the new Democratic Majority, and Pelosi in particular. He also took a moment to honor a few ailing Congressmen.

That is, of course, well after the endless parade of Supreme Court Justices, Bush cabinet members and just about everyone else in government made way for the president's entrance, which included the usual, interminable fanfare. I half expected a reporter from E! to be there commenting on what everyone was wearing as they entered the chambers.

Honestly, I wish the TV coverage of these things would begin just as the president is taking the podium. Even then, we have a couple of standing ovations to wait through before we get to the main event.

Speaking of which, watching Bush work the crowd on his way through the chambers to the podium, I was reminded of a boxer making his way to the ring amidst throngs of cheering fans. This contender had already taken a beating before he arrived at the arena, though.

The man who says he doesn't pay attention to polls went into this speech with only about 1/4 of
polled Americans approving of his job performance. The accuracy of polls is questionable, to be sure, but when the numbers are that bad, maybe it's time to start listening?

On his way in this year, Bush did not kiss his Republicant-lite pal, Joe Lieberman. Problems in the relationship? (And at no time during the evening did he give any love to his forgotten galpal Katrina, either.)

The speech proper started with Bush cruising through a bullet list of issues including healthcare, the budget, entitlements, earmarks, energy, immigration and education. Often, he used oblique language to state his aims, but judging by the level of applause, few lawmakers were fooled.

For example, when speaking of failing schools, Bush made reference to giving parents the option to choose other schools. Vouchers, anyone?

Bush spoke of medical liability reform, which is code for "If the doctor messes you up, just live with it, you ungrateful whiner." (Didn't Bush already get this passed a few years back as "tort reform?")

When talking of efforts toward energy independence for the US, Bush spoke of stepping up domestic oil production. Living on the Gulf of Mexico, I can tell you this: We don't want those oil rigs fouling our doorstep. Nor do many of us wish to see the white mountains of the
ANWR turn black.

Bush spoke of improving economy standards for cars, though he doesn't seem ready to consider one of the best ways to do this: Demand better fuel efficiency from automakers.

He also echoed some of his words from last year as he spoke of using woodchips and grasses as sources of fuel. Brilliant! A hamster-based economy. Come to think of it, couldn't we harness the energy they create while running on those little exercise wheels? I think I am onto something here.

With regard to immigration, Bush stated that America is a melting pot, and that we should "welcome and assimmilate new arrivals." Careful, Mr. President, you risk further alienating your xenophobic base with that kind of talk. He also plugged his "guest worker program" again.

In pleading his case about the need for victory in Iraq, Bush sounded like a lover acknowledging he had cheated yet again but wanting another chance, and promising things will be "different this time." Many Americans are rightly skeptical; "Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice... we won't get fooled again."

Bush stated that he and his military commanders "weighed the options" and decided that a troop increase represents the best possibility for victory. He did not mention that several of those commanders disagreed with him and are now out of a job.

He said that, when it comes to the fight on terror, we are "rallying the world." But our Iraq efforts have alienated even some countries that we were friendly with, in addition to provoking those that were not receptive to our actions from the outset.

He expressed a desire to bring freedom to places like Cuba and Belarus, while leaving out offenders like Saudi Arabia (a brutal place where citizens are not permitted to practice any other faith but Islam) and Pakistan. You excuse bad behavior among your friends when it's to your benefit, I guess.

To beat this dead horse just one more time, I must point out that Bush again failed to acknowledge, in his admonitions about Iraq becoming a safe haven for "the killers" (if we leave), that he created the conditions for such a situation in that country. What would an admission achieve? Call it "integrity."

I never cease to be amazed at how any president can fit in the words "the state of the Union is strong" no matter how the situation really is, and do it with a straight face. Notably, Bush broke tradition and tacked it on at the very end of this speech. You can't not use it in there somewhere.

Similarly, Bush held acknowledgement of his special guests – another SOTU tradition – until the closing minutes. The presence of
subway hero Wesley Autrey added some welcome levity to the proceedings, as he blew kisses and gave the thumbs-up to an adoring crowd. It reminded me a bit of Leno introducing his band director, whose name I do not know (I am well asleep by then), with Autrey giving the president (Leno) a couple "You da man(s)" back. In contrast, with their stiff, stuffy, old visages, many lawmakers at times looked embalmed.

Bush took his time on the way out of the chambers, signing autographs on both sides of the aisle. I imagine a quick look at eBay this morning would reveal a few instances of a "2007 State of the Union Official Program, signed by President Bush, mint condition" up for sale.

I decided to skip the Democratic response and go to bed. This is another SOTU tradition that could use a "reimagining." Responding to a speech you haven't yet heard doesn't make much sense. What would make sense is to have the televised response one week later, when the chosen representative could do a thoughtful, point-by-point critique of the SOTU. (Feel free to implement this idea any time, folks.) But I guess they just want to keep the momentum going.

So, there you have the state of the State of the Union.

PS: This is my last post for about a week, as I am moving to a new apartment. Toodles!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blacks And Hispanics And Women – Oh My!

What a great time to be an American voter. We have African-American, Hispanic and female presidential candidates, and unlike previous bids for the office by these demographics, some of the current contenders actually have a shot at it.

Hopefully, whomever comes second in the Democratic primaries (still quite some time away) will be willing to run as another's VP. Oh, did I forget to mention these candidates were all Democrats? My bad!

What do Republicants have to offer so far? Surprise! A bunch of boring old white guys.

The top names currently being bandied around as our possible next president – again, things change, and we’re still way early in the process – are: Hillary Clinton and Barack Hussein Obama on the left, and John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani on the right.

All four of these candidates face significant hurdles at the polls, some from within their own parties.

Hillary’s first and foremost problem is her last name. Republicants hate all things Clinton. Hell, they don’t even dig funkmeister George Clinton.

The all-important religious right base of the Republicant Party has already said they won’t support gay civil union-tolerating
McCain, and are in fact praying to God that we don’t "get stuck with him" as our president. Personally, I liked McCain until he started pandering to those zealots, and supported an escalation of American involvement in Iraq.

Obama has an unfortunate middle name that reminds people of Iraq’s now-dead dictator, Saddam Hussein. If “Barry” is smart, he will try to link his name to the late, great
King Hussein of Jordan, who was a moderate Muslim and good friend to the West. Or maybe he should just stay away from the Muslim thing altogether.

Yes, Obama’s father was a Muslim. But while Hillary chose to be a Clinton, Barack did not choose his “troublesome” attributes (some people might also add his race to those). Still, my guess is the right will focus on those to the complete exclusion of anything good he might have to say, or to offer as a leader. And they will conveniently leave out that the former atheist is actually a Christian. (Religion isn’t genetic, folks.)

Northern liberal Republicant
Rudy Giuliani doesn’t seem likely to get the crucial religious right vote either, for some of the same reasons as McCain. He presents a problem for Republicant voters overall because he is essentially the GOP version of Bill Clinton. Yup. Kind of slippery, with questionable business dealings and an overactive libido (many have forgotten the front page affair scandal in which he was embroiled before certain terrorist attacks occurred in NYC).

Point is, how can good Republicants vote for a man like that? It would be, well, kind of hypocritical.

There are other candidates, too, such as Democrat John Edwards, Democrat Bill Richardson and Republicant Mitt Romney, but the momentum doesn’t seem to be with them just yet. Or maybe they just don't have the juicy baggage of those other candidates. We shall see.

Some have said the November 2006 elections represent the beginning of a two-year "time out" for Republicants; a punishment from voters for straying too much from their core values. We shall see about that as well. One thing is for sure – if they regain a majority in 2008 and start doing all the same shit over, they’ll be right back out the door. That's something both parties could stand to remember.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Take Me Out To The Sermon

Major League Baseball teams such as the Colorado Rockies are apparently now sponsoring “Faith Days” in an effort to fill pews, er, seats at games in their respective parks. (Don't ask me why this story is being reported during the off-season; I don't know.)

On these designated days, church groups enjoy special discounts on tickets; activities include players testifying about their faith in the Big Man Above, live Christian music and more.

While somewhat popular, these events have thus far been very limited in terms of 1) adhering to core spiritual values and, 2) appealing to people of various sects and faiths, including non-Christian ones.

I have some suggestions on how to change that:

Encourage vendors to take a break from robbing people at the concession stands, merchandise stands and parking garages.

Replace nachos with communion hosts. Unleavened wafers, but don’t be stingy with the cheese!

Prohibit players from openly scratching or adjusting their private parts – a common site at pro baseball games. Further, prohibit homoerotic behaviors such as congratulatory buttock smacking (typically given to a player after a good hit/play) and bench-clearing pile-ons (such as occur when a melee breaks out on the field).

Replace the coaches’ and catchers’ hand signals with the Sign of the Cross (spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch).

Replace “trash talk” (“Hey, batter, batter, batter...”) with speaking in tongues.

Replace players’ caps with yarmulkes.

Refer to a second or subsequent at-bat for a player as “reincarnation.”

Adopt the motto, “What is the sound of one fan clapping?”

Replace “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” with “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”

Replace the ripe-for-innuendo and potentially embarrassing term “balls” (as in “balls and strikes”) with the innocuous “wayward pitches.”

Hold an Islamist Day. This would entail entry without security pat-downs. Containers such as coolers would be permitted inside, unsearched, and with no questions asked.

That’s all I have to say about that, but I am open to additional suggestions. Play ball!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Crackdown On Reality

I rarely commend China for anything, outside of the American take on their food. But that country’s latest autocratic crackdown has me intrigued and even envious.

According to one Chinese media official: “There have been too many reality shows on our TV screens. Many are low-quality, low-brow programmes, only catering to the bottom end of the market.” Hence, they are
cracking down on crap TV.

Repeat after me: "What a country!"

I understand that China’s motivations for curtailing reality shows may not match my own, but hey, whatever works.

Reality TV is one of the most onerous forms of entertainment in existence. Every season a glut of new shows with moronic, insulting scenarios – celebrity has-beens literally fighting for our attention, "beautiful" women dating “nerdy” guys, spoiled rich bitches slumming with the regular folk – hits the screen, and a new low.

These shows appeal to one of humanity's worst leanings – the voyeuristic thrill of watching people hurt and humiliate themselves and/or others. There is an aspect of “cheering on” the participants for some viewers, but I think people mainly watch these shows for the same reason they ogle car accidents.

Reality shows are also mischaracterized;
Allen Funt knew decades ago that you don’t get “reality” when your subject is aware of the camera. Further, you don’t get reality when you audition your cast.

Good, bad and average singers perform on American Idol, so let me ask: What is the purpose of those local, non-televised auditions that happen before the ones we see on Fox? If you need to do background checks on your contestants, that’s understandable (and advisable), but wasn’t the point to let America pick its next Mariah Carey clone? Obviously, the producers have specific “types” in mind.

I'm all for freedom of the media, and freedom of expression, as I've stated time and again in this blog. Sure, I don't have to watch reality shows, but I can't seem to escape the endless promos for them during the handful of decent shows I do watch. More significantly, I can't escape the notion that these shows are just making us all more dumber then we already is.

Maybe the reality of the situation is, as a writer, I miss shows that value writing. Or maybe I just want to see an Internet video of Simon Cowell being hanged. Now that's good television!

I need to get cracking on writing my own damn TV show.

Monday, January 15, 2007

MLK Day? No Way!

I have a dream today; that one day I will work for a company that honors Martin Luther King, Jr. by giving me his birthday off. Instead, I get to work as normal, and also go without valuable postal and financial services. But, I can and will give myself the day off from blogging.

See you later in the week.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush Speech Upshot: Thank You For Smoking

President Bush announced his long-anticipated American troop surge for Iraq on Wednesday evening. Honestly, I’m not sure the purpose of announcements anymore, as in many cases such as this, the facts have already been in the public sector – right down to specific troop numbers – for some time.

It’s an understatement to say Bush’s escalation plan was seriously flawed.

As some officials have stated, the Iraqis will never take over their own responsibilities if we keep doing them for them. Sending more troops in makes as much sense as saying you want to develop renewable, clean sources of energy, even as you
push the expansion of oil drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. It’s like pledging to quit smoking, even as you’re looking for new places to buy cigarettes.

Your doctors would certainly tell you to quit smoking; when it comes to your health, they are the experts. But if you don’t like what they’re telling you, you can always get new doctors. Or
generals, as the case may be. Even though you said you would let them determine the best course to take. But you may have said that on the condition that their vision matched yours.

In other words, Bush was for his military commanders' recommendations before he was against them.

In the run-up to the 2008 election, Republicants will almost certainly use Democrats’ objections to Bush’s troop surge as yet another example of how the left is “weak on defense.” They’ll leave out the fact that many of their own ranks have also publicly stated the same position. They’ll leave out the more significant fact that military experts have said it would not be a good idea, but were summarily dismissed.

Bush was not specific about what the increase means for our future in Iraq. He mentioned November (presumably 2007?) as a target for Iraqis to assume control of their own security. He failed to finish the thought there – and it was what most Americans wanted to hear – with regard to what that timeframe means in terms of American troop withdrawal. For now, it looks like we can expect more of the same: uncertainty and loss.

I sure hope all this “smoking” doesn’t give our country terminal cancer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Good News Channel: Your News, Your Way, 24 Hours A Day

Over the holidays I dined with the more consternative contingent of my family, and the meal was almost ruined because, just as we were sitting down, someone suddenly started railing on the “negativity” of the media. A likeminded family member then chimed in that the media were “ruining our country.”

Whoa! WTF?

I wasn’t sure where this came from, or what it had to do with Happy Holidays dinner, but it served to illustrate a common misconception among consternatives; one from which my own family is sadly not immune. And one which popped up as a result of one of my
posts last week.

You see, some people rely upon names like O’Reilly, Hannity and Limbaugh for their “news,” and doing so gets them all hot and bothered about that damned old liberal, negative, divisive media. They fail to understand the difference between color commentary and news, and don’t really grasp the purpose of the news media in general.

They see daily death tolls reported from Iraq, for example, and cite that as an example of media negativity. They don’t see that they’re simply shooting the messenger by thinking that way. They want cheerleaders instead of journalists.

The purpose of the media is not to make anyone smile, or to instill patriotic feelings or reinforce the American message (i.e. act as a propaganda tool of the government), but to convey factual information.

Commentary, which is not necessarily factual, is ok as part of the news, as long as 1) it’s identified as commentary, and 2) any connections or conflicts of interest between the commenter and the topic of discussion are revealed.

To make everyone happy, how about a 24-hour government news channel, right next to other news stations on the dial? It would allow the government to say what they want us to hear, and allow some out there to hear what they want to hear: unabashed good news. Everything’s swell. Nothing to see here. God bless America.

Those of us who want a more objective source for information can simply not watch and seek out the news elsewhere.

Operated completely by government employees, this channel would of course mean we’d have to pay more taxes. But it would also mean more jobs! I am not just talking about mollifying the misinformed here, but also helping the economy, people.

A government-run news channel (like those that already exist in many other countries, and which rarely run anything but government-approved messages) could put an end to the specious charge that all the news is negative and divisive. Yep, it’s a page right out of the autocracy playbook, but if it will quell the uninformed masses, I’m all for it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Don't Mess With The Man In The Suit

It’s always tragic when a big cat attacks a human; all the more so when the victim is a child. Animal instincts don’t spare the young. But when the cat is actually a guy in a suit, well, what can we say? That’s messed up.

The recent news story of a Tigger character smacking a kid at Walt Disney World reminded me of a similar incident that happened to some family friends.

It was at another popular Orlando theme park a few years ago that a costumed character attacked two adolescent boys who were friends of my nephews. The story goes that the character in question was doing one of his regularly scheduled appearances in the park when these kids, in an attempt to get his attention – he was swarmed by kids at the time – tugged on his arm.

From all accounts it was an innocent gesture, but the costumed fellow didn’t take it that way. He punched both kids, then continued to pummel one after he hit the ground. This is a completely true story. I shit you negatory.

It gets better.

The Orlando Police were called, and the boys were hauled off for a stay at the local juvenile detention center. Correct. An adult theme park character – well, let’s call him the “Grouch Who Punched Kids Senseless” – walloped a couple of kids, and they got arrested and fitted with orange jumpsuits. I could tell you exactly who the guy was, but he’s probably still around somewhere, and I don’t want to get, you know, beaten up.

The end result was, the family could have taken the Grouch to court but didn’t want to put their very traumatized kids through that. Juvey was enough for them. The boys did have to appear before a judge, and were required the write apology letters to the man in the suit. I’m still not sure how park officials, police and a judge decided that the kids should be punished, but that’s what happened. They were with a large group and no one saw them do anything wrong.

I have since entertained notions of visiting the park and accidentally bumping the Grouch in front of a swift-moving tram, to the horror of most visitors, and to my own delight. But Grouchy seems to be well-connected, so I dare not. It could go very badly for me. Besides, who knows if the person in the suit is still the same one?

I guess the lesson to be learned from these incidents is: Don’t mess with the man in the suit.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Several United Airlines pilots claimed to have seen a flying saucer near Chicago ’s O’Hare Airport last fall. This is significant as it’s a rare instance of people with some credibility and authority making such a claim. I don’t think we’re alone in the universe, but why is it that extraterrestrial visitors typically present themselves to, um, “rustic” types?

Maybe that's the point; they can do scouting missions on earth for whatever reason, but choose rural areas so that, if they are seen, most humans will dismiss the sighting as some hillbilly hitting the hooch a little too hard.

But this time, the visitors screwed up. I see an alien pilot somewhere being chewed out by a darker-skinned alien superior, who is bellowing that he will "have his (the screwup alien's) badge" if he doesn't shape up.

Anyway, just in case the sighting was not visitors from another world, I have some theories about what those United pilots might have actually seen.

-Dick Cheney taking a test ride in his escape pod, which he will need when an avalanche of misconduct charges comes his way. (Sorry, George, it’s a one-seater.)

-Paris Hilton’s party dirigible. Hey, the idle disgustingly rich can afford to build all sorts of crazy things. The humanity!

-A weather/illegal CIA surveillance program balloon.

-P-Funk was coming into town for a show and forgot to notify the FAA.

-ELO was attempting another comeback and forgot to notify the FAA. And their fans.

-A group hallucination, caused by global warming and sun spots.

-John Travolta filming a self-financed sequel to Battlefield Earth.

-An unprecented but completely natural weather phenomenon, wherein metallic spinning discs emerge from clouds.

These are my thoughts, but it's kind of hard to say for sure, as the sky has been throwing all kinds of crap at us of late. Any other thoughts on what this might have been, folks?

PS: A hero isn't someone who makes millions of dollars playing professional sports, and it ain't a sandwich either; a hero is someone who does something great without any thought for himself or his own compensation. Wesley Autrey is a truly fine human being.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Revolution Eve

As the new Democratic Majority begins in Congress tomorrow, I’d like say a few words...

The signal is given. The year is One. The blood purge is begun. Now fight like apes! All agents emerge from your secure locations and take up arms, as previously instructed. Free our liberal brothers and sisters languishing under the yoke of cruel, corrupt consterno oppressors. History will remember this night as Der Br√∂ekenbuttoknacht, the “night of the broken ass.” The streets will run as rivers, red with the blood of the infidel consterno. The few survivors will be sent to liberal reeducation camps for the experimental Librovico Technique, unless renewed in the fiery ritual of Carousel. The permanent Democratic Majority, and a Brave New World, is underway!!!

He-he-he-he. (mischevious Eddie Murphy laugh) I'm just messin' with y'all. Sorry for the ramble.

What I meant to say is, this is a great opportunity for our elected officials to once again try and create a better government for the American people.

We’ve seen what unchecked Republicant power has done – ill-conceived wars, rampant corruption, cronyism, adolescent sex scandals, unresponsive, ineffectual government, etc. – so the only way to go is up.

So don’t blow it. The American people are counting on you, and further, we will hold you to it. Don't make me raise up and get my tolchock on!