An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Archive for May, 2012

I am Anti-War on Memorial Day

It’s not an easy thing to be, to be sure.  While I do respect that fact that a lot of people have died to make this country what it is, there are a lot of problems that I have with this holiday.  The first is this – the idea that all dead soldiers are heroes.

Look, I’m not dogging on all soldiers.  Just like with cops, there are plenty of them that do the job, trying to do the right thing, trying to make things better, and trying to protect their country, even if they are being sent to wars that represent none of those things.  However, they are also plenty of soldiers who are completely psychotic killers who wanted to be given a gun, or jerks who want to have virtually unlimited authority over other people.  To say that every person who has been killed in battle is a hero, you have to make the same statement for the Nazis, or the Huns.  There has to be an understanding that some soldiers who die are not heroes.

The second is that the wars for the last 60 years have been completely and utterly pointless.  The last war that made sense to me as to why it happened was WWII.  Hitler was a monster who was mercilessly killing millions of people, trying to ethnically and ideologically purify the entire planet, and to take over.  The Japanese, while we had cut off their oil, were trying to take over this country.  America was in real danger.  It was clear and present.  What were the Korean and Vietnamese wars about?  Nothing.  It was a mission to stop the Reds from taking over.

Both times, they failed.  They failed for the same reason that Afghanistan and Iraq are failing – because this country invaded a foreign nation, not understanding the determination of the populace to defend their homes.  This nation pointlessly invaded two countries, and in both of them were involved in unbelievably violent and pointlessly brutal wars.  But again, this isn’t the soldier’s fault for being in these wars.  There was a draft back then.

Next up we have the invasion of the Persian Gulf.  This war served no purpose at all.  It was a lot smarter than Korea and Vietnam, since we knew not occupy Iraq and to leave quickly, but it was still a completely useless military action against a nation that stood no threat to us.

However, of all the pointless and brutal wars that have ever been fought, I can see none more pointless and more draining than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  They were started under false pretenses by a man who was using these wars as a way to exercise his faith and get petty revenge against people who hadn’t wronged this nation, fueled by the mob-mentality that called out for revenge.

All of this said, while these wars were unbelievably pointless, we mustn’t blame the soldiers.  The average soldier can’t help where he ended up.  Blame the systems that drafted them, or the way we got soldiers into Iraq and Afghanistan by screwing them on deployment and back-handedly having those who are just trying to go into the National Guard end up in Fallujah.

The average soldier has only one loyalty when they are in a foxhole.  They don’t care about king or country in that instance.  Their only concern is with their fellow soldiers who are in that foxhole with them.  A lot of brave men and women have died, not defending this country, but defending each other.  If we are going to memorialize something, let us look at that, and pay homage to how many brave people did everything that they possibly could to protect their fellow soldiers and to protect the people who they trusted to protect them.

And for those who did truly die for this country, like the Revolutionaries at Bunker Hill, or the Union troops at Gettysburg, let’s remember them and give thanks for them preserving this nation.

I am anti-war, but I am also understanding enough to realize that this is not the soldier’s fault, and we should be grateful for them sticking with all the BS that the system puts them through, to look out for each other.  But let’s bring them home!  Let’s get them out of harm’s way, so we don’t have to put more men and women in the ground.

Bring them home.

Texas Judge Imprisons Honor Student for Missing Class?

It’s no surprise that the latest of the abominations against taste in this country comes from Texas.  It has become a routine with them.  First there was Gov. Rick Perry talking about them seceding from the Union (if only they would).  Then there was Gov. Rick Perry completely ignoring the 1st Amendment and have a state-funded and state-run prayer gathering in a stadium.  Then there was the story about the school in Texas that kicked a disabled girl out of school for having to have a walker.

And now, there is a 17 year old honor student named Diane Tran who was sent to jail for missing too much class.  Tran is a an AP student, taking college courses, and works a full-time and part-time job to support her two siblings, along with herself.  She does that along with dealing with the social issues of being a 17 year old girl.  Since her parents got divorced and both moved out of state, she is all alone with no help.

The judge, Lanny Moriarty (what a fitting last name to his character, or lack thereof), sent her to jail for 24 hours and charged her a $100 fine.  He did this because apparently, she didn’t heed his warning a month earlier for her not to miss class.  This makes the whole affair worse because this judge saw her full her plate is, but still thought that it was wrong for her to miss class.  So, why did the judge think that this was a worthwhile thing to do?

If you let one run loose, what are you gonna do with the rest of ’em?  Let them go too?  A little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence.

No, it isn’t a death sentence, but it is a jerk thing to do.  This judge knows how much she has going on, and how hard she is working, since he gave her a “warning” over a month earlier, and he still did this?  Yeah, because this girl was such a social miscreant, supporting her family and dealing with life all on her own at 17.  He’s so right, it shouldn’t be tolerated.  We should force these people to just die on the street.  That seems more compassionate.

But this doesn’t stop there.  When he was asked if he could revoke this sentence, the Judge had another lovely tidbit to say –

Ya, probably could.

So, the person followed up, asking if he would, he replied,

I haven’t thought on the issue because it could turn me soft.

Yeah, it could turn you soft, or it could turn you human.  Joe Bereta on SourceFed is right, Judge Lanny Moriarty, you’re a dick!  You are a complete jerk, forcing this girl into this situation when she clearly is working so hard already.  Now she has a criminal record to go on with her for the rest of her life.  You think that won’t hurt her when she is a graduate and trying to find a career?

This judge needs to be made an example of, and thanks to the internet, he is not going to get away with this without a lot of social indignation, and like every other cause the internet has backed, the internet does not forgive, and the internet does not forget.  What you have done, Judge Moriarty (can’t help how fitting that name is), will follow you forever, and if it gets you the indignation and jerk-status from everybody who knows you, that would be just fitting.

Diane Tran, you should sue the state of Texas.  This is ridiculous, and I think you could make a legitimate cause of action here.  If somebody can sue a toaster company for getting electricuted, you can sue Texas for making you have to live with this insult.  And maybe they can make up for it by making it easier for you to help your two siblings.  That would be fitting justice in this horrible case of Texas once-again showing how backwards and pathetic it really is.

I wonder if Mexico wants Texas back.  Nah, probably not.  Nobody does…

Lefty’s First Impression: The Legend of Korra

This can’t be a true review, since the series is still going, and has only truly gotten started.  However, this is what we think of the new series thus far, and what nickelodean has given us, which is actually quite something.

When people saw the previews for this new series, a lot of people were skeptical, and rightly so.  The original series, Avatar: The Last Airbender was a show with some great characters, great visuals, great themes and a very fitting climax.  The makers of Legend of Korra promised something completely different, and as you can imagine, a lot of people raised some eyebrows with this.  However, we were not disappointed.

Legend of Korra takes an 100% different approach than the previous series.  Unlike in Last Airbender, where Aang is going around the world learning all of his Bending skills, Korra (the protagonist) knows almost all of them.  She is going to learn the last, airbending.  It’s a nice change, especially since we all are curious to see how an Airbender is taught how to do their stuff.

Another big change is that Korra almost doesn’t travel anywhere.  The setting is in one place – Republic City.  Yeah, the name is kind of corny, but the setting is anything but.  Since 70 years have passed, a lot of things have changed for the world of the Benders.  Technology has grown greatly.  This city is definitely reminiscent of a 1920’s city.  There are radios, simple cars, giant floating airships, and the style of clothing in the city is very art deco, along with the buildings.  This goes well with the mystic nature of the Air Temple in the city.

There is a clear dual-nature to this show, mystic and modern.  These two things clash well, thematically, visually and even musically.  There are a lot of clever themes at play when looking at Bending in the future.  For one thing, technology is quickly catching up to Bending, even in a lot of ways making it obselete.  Why would you need a Firebender when you can make electricity and fire with a machine?  Benders do still have a lot of control over this city, but the times are a-changin’.

This show is decidedly more dark than the original show.  The people of Republic City are rebelling against the Benders, citing the corruption and the misuse of their powers to control people.  The Avatar, Korra, doesn’t seem to have a place to fit in here, which is another unique take.  In the orignal series, Aang knew exactly what he had to do, but here, the answers are nowhere near as cut and dry.

Korra is also very different from Aang.  Unlike Aang, she is head-strong, stubborn, and sometimes a little too cocky for her own good.  But you can also see that in a lot of ways, these traits are masking her own insecurities, desperately trying to seem tough, even when she is at her more scared.

This brings us to the villain of this series, which is also infinitely different than the previous show.  This villain is much more intimate, in terms of how much dread you get from him.  He is a man who is steeped in mystery, yet whose power and threat are very clear.  His name is Amon, and all you know about him thus far is that his family was murdered by Benders, and now he is on a mission to get rid of Bending, once and for all.  However, there is a darker purpose that is hinted at.  He possesses the ability th Chi-bend, being able to rob a person of their bending talents.  He said that a spirit gave him these powers, which adds even more to the mystery to this.

The biggest success of this show, by far, is that it leaves far more questions for the viewer right off the bat than the original show did.  Who is Amon?  Why would a spirit help him, even when the spirits are supposedly trying to be on good terms with man?  Why would the spirits want to be against the Avatar?  Where does the Avatar fit into all of this?

The intimacy of this show is another great success.  The villain isn’t some vague big evil.  He is human, driven, and wants to hurt real people in real ways, rather than just generic villainy.  Korra definitely feels the pain and problems going through the series.

It is too early to tell if they will be able to go strong with this series, but from early impression, they seem to have their mojo flowing in all the right ways.  I for one am intrigued to see what happens next.

Bristol, Please Stop Talking…

It’s not in good taste to beat a dead horse, but it seems that this time, it is unavoidable.  Bristol Palin seems to have taken notice of what everybody has said about her statements, and has decided to make yet another response.  It only seemed fair to once again call her out on her own insipid statements that are both bigoted and not based in factuality at all.  So, Bristol, your move.

I’m puzzled at the lack of reading comprehension by internet pundits.  There are a few stories popping up – in The Advocate and one or two on HuffPo on a recent Google alert — claiming I’m playing “the victim card” over here on my blog. However, anyone who actually read my post would know that I simply made two claims:

1.  Those who claim to be loving and tolerant certainly are hateful and bullying.

2.  But despite their efforts at name-calling and even their threats, I won’t be deterred from speaking out.

Bristol goes on with a small clip from her blog that didn’t give any context.  Bristol, what you said is very clear.  In your first blog, you claimed that Obama is only supporting gay marriage because his daughters watch Glee, say that same sex marriage is wrong because of thousands of years of “tradition” and then claim that children in LGBT families grow up less happy than those with heterosexual parents (obviously attacking single parents too).  In the next post, you claimed exactly what you are claiming here.  You claimed that people just attacked and bullied you, taking some comments you got that sound inflamatory.

Here’s the real truth about what you have said, Bristol – not two words of it were backed up at all.  You have ignored the blatant hypocrisy of things that you have said, like the part where you went on about you being in the spotlight, but failed to acknowledge that your mother is the one who put you there against your will.  You provided not one shred of evidence for any of your points.

What you did after that was take some comments that were horribly innappropriate and decided that you would simply use them to show how you are being so bullied, ignoring all the posts like the ones from this column that clearly showed how you are wrong, and talked in a very level and decent way, addressing each way that your statements were wrong.

You most certainly aren’t a victim, Bristol, of anything.  You were most certainly playing the victim card, claiming to be bullied, while you yourself are the one doing the bullying.  The blatant hypocrisy of your statements is so visceral, yet you fail to acknowledge it, now taking the tactic of once again hiding behind your words, and not acknowledging how unfactual they are.

But looking at this post, are you really accusing everybody who is for gay rights of being intolerant and bullies?  Are you really saying that all people who are “loving and tolerant” are bullies?  Since you seem to claim that about yourself, that must mean that you have to lump yourself into that category, right?

Not to mention that these comments you received do nothing to help your cause or defend your mischaracterization of the President.  They provide just another lovely shield for you to hide behind, playing, you guessed it, the victim card.

You are no victim, Bristol, you just are trying really hard to act like one.  Now please stop talking.  You’ve embarassed yourself enough

Florida, as well as America, Wants Stupid Kids

Americans should feel ashamed, and the sad fact is that most of them probably have no idea about this.  The Florida Board of Education has recently made a decision to dramatically lower the standards on the writing exams that they give 4th, 8th and 10th grade students at public schools.  This comes on the heels of their last test periods showing dramatic failure of the writing portions.  Among the cited reasons from educators as to why this happened is because these tests now count punctuation and spelling, but hadn’t done so before.

First, a test administered to 10th grade students didn’t test punctuation and spelling?  The levels of failure for such a fact are so ridiculous.  The fact that our education standards are so low is appalling.  This country’s education system is a joke to the rest of the world, as it should be.  The students are not held to anywhere near an appropriate standard.

One of the first problems is that we think that a test is going to tell us what we need to know about a student.  Florida is a perfect example of how that is wrong.  Gauging the success of schools and students solely by what we think is a “one size fits all” test is beyond ridiculous.

A lot of people will blame the teachers for this failure, which is totally unfounded.  Teachers at public schools in this country are among the most underappreciated groups of people in this country.  There was a great sign at a rally talking about how much work a public teacher puts into their job for which they get no respect.

If teacher just worked and 8 hr. day, your student would get:
NO graded papers
NO letters of recommendation
NO tutoring
NO school plays
Fewer coaches
NO IEP
NO concerts
NO parent emails, online grades; H.W.

And that’s the absolute truth of the matter.  Teachers are working very hard to do a job for which they won’t get any respect.  The failure of this lowering of standards falls many places.  The first is the parents.  Parents in this country hardly ever hold their children up to any standard.  It all starts at home. A kid who feels like their parent supports them will work harder at school.  The next is the education system.  Teachers aren’t able to teach to their own style, aren’t able to put learning above testing, so instead of getting integrated places where knowledge can be gained, we have teachers teaching to tests and students who clearly don’t understand how those tests work not able to get it.

When one looks at this issue, along with the fact that the educators in this country are treated like America’s dog, it is becoming increasingly clear that no solution for ground-up reformation of this country’s education system is ever forthcoming.  It will be just another issue that we can chalk up to a bureaucratic mess that will never be solved.

America is a nation which is failing, consistently.  Our infrastructure is falling apart.  We don’t have universal health care.  There is a war on drugs that has made America famous for having 25% of the entire world’s prison population.  We are spending more on our military than any other nation combined, along with being involved in pointless wars that are giant iron balls around the ankles of America’s economy.

This is another issue which is such a gimmie, such an easy thing to grab, but this country won’t do that.  It is so pathetic how this country’s government can’t even do this.  But as Cenk was saying on The Young Turks, this is a macro problem.  The culture doesn’t demand execellence.  The culture of this country is accepting of stupidity, accepting of failure, accepting of the worthlessness of the people in it.

Once again, as George Carlin put it –

Garbage in, garbage out.

America, our youth are getting stupider, and we are falling further and further behind the rest of the industrialized world.  Do you even care?

Probably not.  So You Think You Can Dance is on.

Poor Bristol Palin…:(

Well, after her post talking about how the President decided to support gay marriage simple because of his daughters, and saying that same-sex couples aren’t as good at being parents as opposite-sex couples (of which no evidence exists), Bristol Palin has come out with a new post talking about how she is the victim of “bullying.”

Much like how all interactions with a statement by the Palin family have gone from the beginning of their time in the limelight, it wasn’t hard to predict that this was the direction that it was going to take.  It has been the Palin family’s modus operandi to make a horribly unpleasant statement, and then, when the people come out against this, to make it all about themselves, and how they are the victims.

Bristol’s post about the president and gay marriage is textbook example of this strategy.  Here is what Bristol had to say –

Well, I stirred up a hornet’s nest.  You know you’ve struck a nerve when even J-Woww tweets insults at you.  But the thing that most amazes me is how few people actually addressed the points I made in my recent blog post.  They were pretty simple.  Conservative women like my mom get grief because people think they can’t make decisions without their husband, but Barack Obama gets applauded for changing his mind on a huge issue after consulting his wife and young daughters. The double standard amazes me.

Gee, Bristol, if you look at my previous post, you will see that I, along with many others like the YouTube vlogger Zinnia Jones, did address your argument, and were very clear with our problems with them.  We told you that President Obama didn’t just come to this decision because of talking with his wife and daughters.  It was a personal choice based on years of his experience.  Apparently, you didn’t catch that.  Your move.

But I’m not a pundit.  I’m just a mom made famous in one of the most intense and embarrassing ways possible – by having your teen pregnancy announced in the middle of a presidential campaign.

I put this section of her post here because there is something I want to draw attention to – your hypocrisy.  You had your pregnancy announcted on national television by your mother.  She whored out you and your down-syndrome brother in order to further her own political agenda.  I find it incredible that you are so on her side and yet you don’t feel the slightest inclination to point out that all of this “bullying” that you are claiming happens to you is directly tied into your mother using you and your entire family as a stage prop.  The hypocrisy just leaps off the page, doesn’t it?  Your move.

 When you’re in Hollywood you’ll meet some great people, some terrible people, and many somewhere in between.  In other words, they’re people just like everyone else.  But what you won’t find is any disagreement about things like gay marriage or abortion.  For those folks, there’s one way to think, and anyone who disagrees is stupid, hypocritical, hateful, or bigoted.

Sorry, Bristol, but you’re wrong again.  You are called hypocritical, hateful and bigoted because you made statements that are hypocritical, hateful and bigoted.  Saying that children are more likely to be happy in a home with a mother and father is bigoted.  You can’t explain that away, sorry.  You have to answer for it.  Your unwillingness to doesn’t surprise me in the least.

She puts up a graphic showing some of the angry comments she got, and yeah, they are unpleasant and people shouldn’t make them, but once-again, the strategy that you use is pretty clear – don’t make this about the issues, make this about yourself.  And here’s the kicker, Bristol – you are not special.  Go onto most any video about President Obama and you’ll see plenty of hate and vitriol thrown at him from people.  Hate statements are the name of the game with a large part of this country against the LGBT community.  Go onto a Zinnia Jones video and you may just find some lovely tidbits about how awful that person is.  Or click on an Amazing Atheist video and you will see plenty of disparaging comments.  While all of these are stupid and pointless, they are also not unusual.

Instead of defending your point of view, and making this about the issues, you instead retreat to the easiest option you have – making this about yourself.  It has been the way your mother has defended her scorn for years, and you are following in the same vein.  Feel proud of yourself, Bristol.  Those are some big and hypocritical shoes to fill.

Here’s the real truth – you don’t know who the real bullies are.  The people who are using their national fame that you acknowledge you have in order to make sweeping generalizations about a group of people and their love.  The people who are saying that children aren’t going to be happy with same sex parents.  The people who want to deny LGBT couples the right to marry simply by invoking “tradition,” and continuing the cultural stigma against them through the same way.  The people who are making no argument, but instead want to make this entire thing about themselves and paint themselves as the victim of some kind of bullying, while they are spreading intolerance and lies for no good reason.

The bully, Bristol Palin, is you.  Plain and simple.

The Palin’s and Gay Marriage

Well, another statement of ignorance has come from the Palin family.  This time, from Bristol Palin, about gay marriage.  These kinds of statements are nothing new.  And, as with all other statements of ignorance or bigotry from these people, there is a rabid group of supporters who come out of the woodwork in support of their ignorant statements and outright prejudice.

It’s the new conservative attitude – don’t question what our leaders say.  Don’t question anything that anybody who espouses our values says.  While there are liberals who do just the same, the fact is that more liberals will question the current president than the amount of conservatives who questioned George Bush I, George Bush II or Ronald Reagan.  It just isn’t done.

As such, this leads us to what Bristol Palin had to say, and what her supporters are backing.  She wrote a blog post (linked above) talking about President Obama’s recent statements about his views on gay marriage.  Now, a lot of people will make petty jokes about the Palin family and their views, if Bristol wants to talk about marriage, alright Bristol, let’s talk about marriage.  Your move.

Let’s pause for just one second.  When Christian women run for high office, people inevitably bring up the question of submission.  Once, Michele Bachmann, for example, was asked during a debate, “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

People automatically assume that a Christian female President isn’t capable of making decisions without her spouse’s stamp of approval.  (I should add female Republican candidates –liberal women don’t get the same kind of questions.)

Nobody will deny that a person’s ability to lead shouldn’t come from what gender they are.  No one gender is better at leading than the other.  The ability to lead a nation is based on personal strength and personal conviction, along with popular support of that.  Of course, with this nation, all leaders are corrupt, but that’s a whole different can of worms.

Looking at the issue of questions of faith in relevance to America, this needs to be addressed in respect to Republican woman.  According to a Gallup poll, 42% of Republicans and 46% of conservatives believe that the Bible is the actual word of God.  With that in mind, one must absolutely point out that according to the Bible, a woman should be silent, totally obedient to her husband and have no positions of authority over men.

If one considers the Bible to be absolutely true, then it should be completely fair to question what they believe, since they are going to be leading this country.  Faith should have no part of one’s legislation, or one’s executive decisions.  Now this goes both ways.  If a liberal believes that the Bible is the absolute word of God, then they too should be scrutinized under a microscope.  Again, Bristol, your move.

So let me get this straight – it’s a problem if my mom listened too much to my dad, but it’s a heroic act if the President made a massive change in a policy position that could affect the entire nation after consulting with his teenage daughters?

No, it isn’t a problem if your mom listened to much to your dad.  It’s a problem if your mom listened too much to a book that has no factual basis whatsoever, and has no place in government.  And since that book openly says that women should be silent and obey men, it should be questioned if she is with those beliefs or not.

Also, the President didn’t come to this decision by consulting with his daughters.  He has said that he has been in support of equal rights for some time, how he has had LGBT staff members in the White House and has gotten their perspectives, as well as the fact that he believed that anybody should be allowed to serve their country, regardless of sexual orientation.  These are long-standing beliefs.

Bristol, however, wants her fans to think that the President of this country merely bowed down to his teenage daughters, which is nowhere near the truth.  So, Bristol, you are being dishonest about the President’s motives and what he is trying to do.  What comes next?  Your move.

In this case, it would’ve been helpful for him to explain to Malia and Sasha that while her friends parents are no doubt lovely people, that’s not a reason to change thousands of years of thinking about marriage.  Or that – as great as her friends may be – we know that in general kids do better growing up in a mother/father home.  Ideally, fathers help shape their kids’ worldview.

Well, since Bristol can’t hold up the argument based on what she has presented alone, since some part of her must know that that is blatantly false, she decides to go another route – saying that marriage is based in thousands of years of tradition, as well as appealing to the argument style of “I don’t hate gays, but there should be a mother and father to raise kids.”  It’s a classic argument which totally ignores the truth.

First, marriage has not been only one man and one woman for thousands of years.  Looking at the Bible, King David, one of the biggest biblical figures, had an entire harem of women who were his sexual servants.  The taking of women from slain nations as sex slaves is also totally condoned by the Bible, in addition to the wife that one has.

Not to mention that the idea of marriage as we know it has rapidly changed in the last century.  There was a time when subservience to men was quite acceptable in this country.  Inter-racial marriage was also incredibly taboo, and not completely accepted by the culture at large.  The fact is that the breaking of traditions is one of the oldest traditions of all, because we realize that a tradition is flawed, and in need of change.  A tradition that is worth following can stand on its own merits, and doesn’t need to be supported by “history.”

Next up, there is not one piece of evidence that has come up stating that a child will come out better if it is in a home of a mother and father.  The studies that conervatives cite that show that a child will grow up better with a mother and father almost never have any LGBT couples who were involved in the study, and are therefore completely false, along with taking things directly out of context, as Focus on the Family has done many times.

However, the real insidious nature of this document is that Bristol wishes people to look on these loving families are somehow fundamentally wrong, and wants everyone else to do so as well, hiding behind the wall of “tradition.”  Your move, Bristol.

Sometimes dads should lead their family in the right ways of thinking.  In this case, it would’ve been nice if the President would’ve been an actual leader and helped shape their thoughts instead of merely reflecting what many teenagers think after one too many episodes of Glee.

Yes, and sometimes, conservative women should think about the rationality and intelligence of what they say before they say it, rather than appealing to false arguments and worthless tradition that doesn’t even have any place in history, not to mention a faith thath as no place in this government either.

Bristol, there here is a piece of general advice for the future – if you can’t say something smart, don’t say anything at all.

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