Recently in Politics and Religion Category

Oligarchy

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If you’re looking for insightful political commentary, none to be found here today. I’m just venting some frustration.

Another President Bush? First 2 Are for It”

Aw, come…on…. Yes, they said Jeb wasn’t going to run in 2008, but they didn’t rule out 2012, etc.

Okay, raise your hand if you’re freaking sick and tired of political dynasties. Out of 296 million Americans, probably a large percentage of them are over 35, born in the USA, and reasonably competent to run a country—so why do we keep turning to the same families to govern us (especially when only the first two conditions seem to matter).

Even if Dubya was the greatest president ever, I would be uneasy about tapping the House of Bush yet again.

Now, we’ve got Hillary, who is reportedly a great senator, and even conservatives are giving her props. So does this mean we are headed down the road to dynastic rule yet again? Feh.

…relatively speaking, of course, compared to certain other world leaders.

AP Photo of Kim Jong-il

Indisputably, the looniest of them all is North Korean despot Kim Jong-il, who recently launched a campaign to ensure that his country’s citizenry is neatly groomed [news link now broken].

As part of the short hair campaign, the locks of North Korea’s male population should conform to “socialist style” and be no longer than two inches.

The quote that really had me laughing:

 The dictum claims that long hair hampers brain activity by taking oxygen away from nerves in the head.

Hmmm, so if I don’t have any hair up top, maybe I’ll be rilly smart. Looks like it’s time to get the razor out again (even though a classroom full of Japanese schoolchildren confused me with David Beckham the last time I shaved my head—long story).

This also solves another mystery of the universe—why dem dar lib’rals is jus so stoopid… Here I thought it was the rampant drug use; now we know that their hippie-length, oxygen-sapping coiffures are to blame. (Please excuse my silliness and realize that my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek throughout this entry.)

As for the long-haired women out there, well my guess is that Mr. Jong-il figures that they’re already a lost cause. I mean, we all know what Harvard’s president said about women.

I am thankful that I can sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that so many rational, intelligent, well-educated, short-haired men are in positions of power.

Abortion and the "gender war"

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I was so incensed by a blog posting by LiL, I wrote a 2,100 word entry myself. So go read her posting, then come back here and read mine. What inspired her post was a New York Times article about the abortion provision tacked on to the latest Congressional spending bill.

Left of center?!?

Um…left of center?!? Whiskey…tango…foxtrot?

I took the Political Compass survey that has been spreading virally throughout the blogosphere (via Watermark). This six-page survey tries to place you on a four-quadrant grid whose axes range from Left to Right and Libertarian to Authoritarian. According to the results, I am apparently chillin’ in the same quadrant as Gandhi. Gandhi?

Your political compass
Economic Left/Right: -0.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -1.59

This is probably not the most scientific of surveys. In fact, this alternative political compass survey writer called its accuracy into question. Hmmm, seventy-five questions? Maybe some other night. This one only has ten questions (too few to accurately measure anything), but let’s see…

political chart

Okay, that’s it. I give up. Next thing you know, I’ll be voting Democratic. Oh, wait…merde.

Well, at least I am still strongly opposed to the Kyoto Protocol and believe that Ronald Reagan has been the greatest president during my lifetime.

Magnetic patriotism

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I had meant to blog about this right after I got back from Pennsylvania, but forgot about it until I was cleaning out my glove compartment. While I had noticed the latest trend in vehicular adornment on just a few cars in New Jersey, when I was driving around western PA, I was hard-pressed to find a car without some variation of the little magnetic ribbons. In case you haven’t seen them (yeah, right), the ribbons are yellow or red, white, and blue (or a combination of the two), and sport catchy slogans like “Freedom isn’t free,” “Support our troops,” “God bless America,” and so on. My mother was kind enough to give me one of her extras (below), but I think that I will pass on placing it upon the posterior of my Neon.

magnetic patriotic ribbon

It’s not that I am unpatriotic, or that I don’t support our troops (which I do, of course); however, I’m just so cynical about crass commercialism. When my mom gave me the ribbon, she had insisted that a portion of the profits from the sale of the ribbons was going to support our troops. Being such a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be (must be all that time around academics), I was forced to dispel her fantasy.

So, that’s it. Nothing profound. Just a rambling rant. Enough with the tacky magnets already.

So now what do I do with this silly little ribbon? Anybody want it?

Kerry car

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This car, which I photographed in the parking lot outside of my workplace today, is just too funny. (License plate blurred to protect the innocent.) Hi-res version (156 KB)

car covered with John Kerry bumper stickers

car covered with John Kerry bumper stickers

Disenfranchisement

Disenfranchisement was a common topic of conversation today at my workplace, first with three friends who are foreign nationals, and then with group of six college students. Two of the six (H. from New York and C. from California) had followed the proper procedure to request an absentee ballot before the deadline; however, neither received a ballot. They lamented that a number of their friends were in the same boat. C. had just come from the local polling place, where he tried to get a provisional ballot, but they would not give it to him because he was registered in California.

Six people is hardly a representative sample, yet disenfranchisement of one-third of these students is scary. Frankly, any percentage above zero percent is unacceptable.

While I would not be so quick to ascribe this to a nefarious ploy by the Bush administration to prevent college students from voting, this demonstrates an infuriating level of bureaucratic incompetence.

I feel their pain. During the 1992 election, I was living in New Jersey, but registered in Pennsylvania. This was to be my first presidential election, and I mailed my absentee ballot to Somerset County, PA. A few weeks later, I found my ballot in my mailbox with “Return to Sender” stamped across it. Apparently, the post office had sent my ballot to Somerset County, NJ, instead of Somerset County, PA. Dammit.

Election Day

Well, I just cast my vote in the 2004 Presidential Election, using one of the brand-new electronic voting machines. Living in a small suburban town means that my polling place was less than a half-mile up the road, and I only had to wait behind two other people.

As for the voting machines, themselves, these ones were burgundy and black, with a red curtain. I was expecting a touch screen, or something similar, and when I stepped through the curtain, was surprised to find a big paper ballot in front of me with the candidates names on them just like the mechanical lever machines.

Green LED “Xs” shine through the translucent paper. You can feel a membrane button through the drawing of the button on the paper, and when you depress it, a green “X” moves over from the office title column to the block with the chosen candidate’s name.

Below the paper ballot, on the right, is a glowing red “CAST VOTE” button; when you press that, an electronic trill signifies that your vote was recorded (hopefully).

No “I voted today” sticker for me, though. You’d think that all of the polling locations would have them to give out. Oh well…

BTW, to make things easier on yourself, do not forget to bring some form of identification. First-time voters who registered by mail after December 9, 2003, must show identification according to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Proof of identification varies from state to state. Check your state rules to see what qualifies as identification or to see if they have any additional requirements regarding identification to vote.

[Update:] The Ocean County Clerk’s Office posted a photo gallery of the new voting machines.

[Update 2:] Chuck invites others to blog first person narratives about their voting experiences. Stop by his page and add to the list of accounts. (via LiL)

The Great Undecided

The great undecided…it was not too long ago that I considered myself among their number. In a previous post, I expressed my considerable displeasure over the sad selection of major party candidates.

As a veteran, it is hard for me not to find great fault with John Kerry’s post-Vietnam anti-war activism and atrocity allegations; watching Kerry’s 1971 interview on the Dick Cavett show turned my stomach. On the flip side, I take issue with the Bush administration’s appalling treatment of our reservists and national guard troops. The men and women who put their lives on the line for this country deserve far better than multiple extensions of their tours of duty in Iraq and the issuance of “stop-loss” orders that prevent soldiers from leaving the service even though they have fulfilled their commitments.

I feel, though, that after carefully listening to the debates (all 6 hours and 16 minutes), and voraciously reading every article that I could find about the candidates, I can approach Tuesday with confidence that when I cast my vote, the candidate that I am endorsing is indeed the better person for the job.

Who am I voting for? Well, I’m from New Jersey, and some polls give Kerry a thirteen point lead over Bush in this state, so my choice of candidate really only matters to me personally, and that is the only one who is going to know who I voted for.

Not that I have much confidence that my vote will be properly counted anyway….

May the best man (?) win

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With less than a month to go before the presidential election, and feeling less than enthusiastic about the choice of major party candidates that awaits us, I felt it my civic duty to give Bush and Kerry another chance and watch the debates with an open mind. Unfortunately, each time I attempted to watch the debates, my cynicism and disgust overpowered my channel-changing finger.

Thanks to my iPod and the iTunes Music Store, I have a second chance to experience the debates. As a public service slash marketing gimmick, Audible.com has been providing free downloadable audio recordings of the debates. Armed with my Pod and the Griffin iTrip, I have been working my way through these recordings during my morning and evening commutes; these candidates are much more tolerable in small doses.

2004 Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates
(links should open inside the iTunes application)

[Update: Third presidential debate added.]

2004 First Presidential Debate: Bush Vs. Kerry (9/30/04)
2004 Second Presidential Debate: Bush Vs. Kerry (10/8/04)
2004 Third Presidential Debate: Bush Vs. Kerry (10/13/04)
2004 Vice Presidential Debate: Cheney Vs. Edwards (10/5/04)

New Jersey’s late placement in the primary schedule left its proud residents (among others) disenfranchised during the last two presidential primaries. It is hard not to be just a tad bit angered by this; however, I will save my frustration with the primary system for a future post and instead dive off my soapbox into a pit of insanity. As a service to my readers, I decided to scour the net and compile a list of alternative presidential candidates for the 2004 election. Candidate quality and/or site quality diminishes as one moves down the list. Party affiliation is listed where known.

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