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Friday 11 May 2007

Supposition: Cheney Is The Shadow President

on 11 May : 14:25  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
Via the brilliant Think Progress

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Fox New’s Bret Baier told Dick Cheney, “You are portrayed by your opponents and some in the media as this sinister figure, as this cold-blooded warmonger who doesn’t care about the number of body bags going back.” Cheney said that he regrets the casualties, but added, “Obviously, the President bears the major part of the burden. He’s the man with the authority to commit the force.”

It has always been sort of the nod and winkery that Cheney is the real president or at least Bush's puppeteer.

This comment of his regarding the "president" bearing the major part of the burden seems to really be telling from me. He's basically saying that he IS exactly what his opponents portray him as but "tough shit" because I'm only the "vp" and I don't sign the bills and whatnot.

He's basically telling us to "F off and die" 'cause, yeah, he doesn't care.
Wednesday 09 May 2007

Never Been A Better Time Than Right Now

on 09 May : 11:50  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
There are a couple of things I do every year that after I do them I swear to myself and on everything I hold dear that I will absolutely NEVER do again.

One is the Cooper Young Festival. I know people love to go and its always packed but I suspect that EVERYONE feels the same way I do about it: something between malaise and disdain. No one ever wants to admit it because it seems that everyone else is soooo into it. So, as I've done for years, let me be the one to lay it out there hardcore for you babies in the extended entry.

The other thing is I watch that freaking "American Idol".
You know those people who talk about "American Idol" like its a detriment to all things holy in music and culture and that people that watch it are just mouth breathers who like a high note held long and a big bang at the end that lets them know when to clap and cheer? That's me. (Both of them.)

Yes, publicly, I mock those who watch it but I secretly watch it all as much as possible. (Damn, it's addictive sugary goodness!) I tell myself that I'm not "one of them" because, honestly, I've wanted to and picked up the phone several times but I have yet to vote.

The point of this is not to sing the praises of "American Idol". If it was canceled tomorrow, I'd only be mad because I didn't get to find out if Melinda Doolittle actually went on to win or if there was a huge upset and my fave Lakisha sang something amazing that won everyone over to her; but, I wouldn't miss it next year.

(Yes, when Jennifer Hudson was on, she was my fave and she sang Circle of Life and it was amazing! Yes, I thought Fantasia was great and when she sang Summertime and cried, I did get a lump in my throat. Why should I lie? If you watch that and don't get moved at least a little, you may want to see a doctor because it means you're dead inside. Watch this to double-check. If not moved, make your way to nearest emergency room.)

They something did on there which was, as American Idol is to me, kind of astounding and a good bit cheesy/cheap. Last week, they had this show to raise money and big name stars came on to help draw eyeballs and dollars. Bono, Annie Lennox, Il Divo, Madonna, Ben Stiller and so on.

They pulled this stunt where they had Celine Dion come out and sing with Elvis. If you haven't seen it, you should even if it is just for the kitsch factor. It's kind of cool to see '68 Comeback E all in white singing with '07 Celine all in black.

That is not even exactly the point. What really blew me away was that song. If I Can Dream, which I had seen E sing on the Comeback special and other places and had completely forgotten, is EXACTLY the kind of song people need to hear today.

That song has that sort of immediacy, desperation and aching that is absolutely missing from today's discussions; political, humanitarian, altruistic, whatever. Remember that post I did about that heinous John Mayer song where he's lamenting that his generation is just waiting for the world to change? (Jesus, Mary and Joseph...) Mayer's song, Waiting For The World To Change is exemplary of what is WRONG with the world. Bush is "waiting" for things to get better in Iraq. Goopers are always telling me that if we don't like Bush, just wait till '08 and he'll be gone. They said to wait for '04 and vote him out.

The thing with waiting is that gives Bush and his cult the time to do whatever they hell they want to do while we're all waiting. We're waiting for this and that so we can stop people in Darfur from dying. That's waiting for the world to change.

If I Can Dream is more immediate. Check it.

Deep in my heart theres a trembling question
Still I am sure that the answer gonna come somehow
Out there in the dark, theres a beckoning candle
And while I can think, while I can talk
While I can stand, while I can walk
While I can dream, please let my dream
Come true, right now
Let it come true right now

You see that there at the end? "right now" That's what I want to know. If people are starving, why aren't we loading C130's with pallets of food?

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Is it so important that some executive get some billion dollar bonus because he saved the company X amount of money by holding onto pallets of food because it would cost the company more money to give it away than to let it sit and rot?

It seems as I read Bob Woodward's State of Denial that in "managing" the illegal invasion of Iraq that the Bush underlings were all too busy waiting on something rather than picking up the god damned phone and getting electricity on or sewage lines cleared. Rice was waiting on Rummy to do X. Powell and Tenet were waiting on the generals to do Y. No one ever got off their ass and went out in the street and started barking orders because in the atmosphere they had created for themselves, everything was micromanaged and no one wanted to take the fall for the mistakes even if that meant (and still means) that nothing got done.

Indigo Girls had a song called Least Complicated. Check it.

What makes me think I could start clean slated
The hardest to learn was the least complicated

That's where we are in this country. The least complicated concept is "People are dying and we can stop that". That's the least complicated but as a country, a nation, a collective, Americans can't seem to grasp it. We've been brainwashed to think that we have to consider the most ridiculous of concepts. For instance, corporations and "property rights" are now trumping "large numbers of people are dying from starvation".

And the idea that maybe corporations, "property rights" and the like should be trumped at all even by something like "people are dying and we can stop that" is somehow now a radical train of thought. It is even subversive. Even if it saves peoples' lives. Even if it keeps children from growing up without parents.

Another of my broken records is recounting how in the days following the attacks on 9.11, not one person considered "price" when sending supplies to Ground Zero. No one was so moronic as to send a bill behind any equipment they sent to the site to dig out survivors or recover victims. Sure, now, corporations probably use the donations as advertising but, come on, no one was so cynical on 9.11 around 10 AM to say, "Hey, here's an advertising opportunity!" (Were they? Ugh. That's a stomach-turning thought.) Surely, all that happened was an exec called a warehouse manager and said, "Load whatever frontend loaders we have on the lot and get them to Manhattan right now." And no warehouse manager with half a heart or a quarter of a brain asked for paperwork.

They just turned to Joe and Terrance and said, "Go pull a rig over here, get all the keys you can find. Right now."

We have the power to make our dreams come true. "We're lost in a cloud" where we're taught to think that the dream of a world without hunger and disease is unattainable and even childish. This is ludicrous and pathetic. The country that put men on the moon can feed a world of 8 billion people. I'm pretty sure that's doable. Considering that we are paying people not to farm land, it seems damned doable. Yes, the people who make their millions by controlling demand and supply won't make millions off this dream. They've got enough money. Don'tcha think?

It's not good enough for me to know that my kid's stomach is full every night when he goes to bed. It's not good enough for me to know that when I have a sinus infection or my wife is pregnant or my son eventually breaks an arm that we have insurance that will pay for us to go to a doctor.

The "president" can launch a trillion dollar war on a whim for kicks but we as a nation can't decide to be the humanitarians of the world? Sure, sure, America donates more money and so forth than any other nation. So WHAT!?!?! There are still hungry and sick and dying people in the world. The government is the tool we use to solve collective issues. Let's use it to solve all of them for every man, woman and child. It's got the money, the manpower and the clout. Do it. Right now!

Elvis says so.

Tuesday 08 May 2007

A Little Perspective Is Always Good For the Soul

on 08 May : 20:11  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  

Shelby County Dem Party Growing Pains

on 08 May : 00:11  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
demo_logo_766.gifLeftWingCracker has a kudos to the new chairman of the SCDP up over at his site. There were some comments there that bear reading by anyone who is disgusted with local politics and those running local politics.

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Keith Norman (pastor), by nearly all accounts, is a decent man. I'll be totally honest about him. When he spoke at the Main Library prior to the convention, I had respect for him and thought he had it in him to run the party fairly. (LWC confirms that supposition for me with his post.) But, on the honesty tip, he was very churchy. I tried to be high-minded and fair and non-biased but, as an atheist, I view politics as every man's domain and when I hear answers to political questions delivered with an obligatory bible verse, it kind of puts me off.

Now, that's not Pastor Norman's fault. In fact, I feel that it is no one's "fault", it is simply my own personal fact. I don't think he should be barred from serving as the Chairman. (Two years ago, I would have said different.) I don't think he's going to fail to bring the "factions" within the Dem Party together. There doesn't seem to be a reticence to religion being integrated with politics in Shelby County. (I'm not implying that there is eagerness towards theocracy either, though I think that could be debated fairly.)

It is good to hear that the Chairman has decided to shut down the ne'er-do-wells who want to run the party by using Roberts' Rules to kill everything that anyone else has thought of. This is a great sign. There are those who want to be the kings of the party even at the expense of the party.

Of course, in the comments at LWC's site , there is that voice out there saying that no one should complain about the party or what they do unless they come down and hand out cokes or make calls and so forth. Utter hogwash. Yes, it would be great if everyone could contribute their weekends to making the SCDP the powerhouse that it probably could be, but to what end? So, they couldn't stop Harold Ford, Jr from telling the world that he's not a Democrat but then have a D after his name on the ballot? Personally, I have done a few things for the party and each time I was treated like I was being paid $5 an hour and had no business talking to anyone about politics or the party's bee's wax.

When the SCDP is the powerhouse it promises to be, who then will it serve? Surely not Fords, for I feel that family is done politically and if the SCDP would like to resuscitate that dynasty then my job is to make sure it fails as an entity. I'd have to post every day about how it is ruining the free world by supporting a Harold Ford Jr run for another senate seat.

The way I see it, the SCDP only deserves support when it does what I like; otherwise, it's a religion. And I'm not in the market for a religion. On the occasions when I have the time and the inclination to do some kind of business with the SCDP, I often hear comments that rile me more than inspire me. During the caucus and the convention, I was around one person both times who continually told me that "Hillary is the presumed nominee". That irks me. That kind of mindset is what sank us on 2004 when all the stalwarts of the local party (including one HF,J) insisted that anyone supporting someone other than John Kerry was simply wasting their time.

That went well, didn't it?

And if the SCDP stalwarts are going into 2008 with the mindset that Hillary is going to be the nominee then cancel my subscription, kids. Hillary is being whooped up on by one Barak Obama and John Edwards is nipping at their heels. Admittedly, we're 20 months out right now and a lot can change but come on, it is WAAAAAY too early to be calling it. And anyone on the SCDP Exec Committee calling it at this time for Hillary should be shouted down at every opportunity.

It has always annoyed me when people cry for party loyalty even though the nominee they are covering for sucks ass. Harold Ford, Jr is the obvious example. The guy went out of his way to crap on Democrats high and low and then he has these morons here in town and across Tennessee and the nation crying that we have to vote for him anyway because a D is always better than an R. I disagree.

Joe Lieberman is not better than an R. Joe Lieberman is WORSE than an R because he continues to support the Iraq invasion and he has the word "democrat" after his name. (Yes, I know, it's INDEPENDENT Democrat, but who the f cares?)

It sickens me to think of all the good, loyal Democrats who think the Iraq "war" was wrong and we were lied into it who will, in 8 to 10 months time, be defending Hillary's vote for it and her never ending refusal to openly apologize and renounce it without actually apologizing. It is my belief that she knows the "war" will be winding up in the weeks prior to the election in '08 and she will be waggling her finger at the "fringe lefties" who were crying about the sky falling and the like.

The real problem with the whole idea of a D versus an R is that you sometimes have trouble telling them apart. In 2000, I had a real problem telling Bush apart from Gore. I don't anymore. When viewed through the prism of Iraq, I can't tell much difference between Hillary and Bush. Both want to continue dynasties. (Boo.) Both don't seem to understand that thousands have died in the illegal invasion of Iraq not to mention the devastation of the lives of those left without their loved ones.

Sure, sure, people will want to point out how Hillary wants health care for all but so what? She voted for the war and doesn't renounce that decision. She wants people to think that she could push the button if it came to that. She wants to be seen as "strong on defense" so she can't renounce her vote because she's afraid that rich, white guys will think she's a weak-kneed lassy who would let the middle-easterners take over the world and bring an end to the rich, white guys' way of life. Boo frickin' hoo.

All ranting aside, the SCDP has got to show me something. Sure, I'll come and vote at the conventions and caucuses and I'll get out in my neighborhood and encourage folk to vote for the Dem candidate but only if I LIKE the Dem candidate. Don't expect me to just come out and support the home team when they don't have the basic common sense to put their best players on the field or, even worse, just throw some jackasses out on the field just because they happen to be on our side of the stadium but don't know crap about how we play football over here.

What does the SCDP stand for anyway? One of the things that I cheered former Chairman Matt Kuhn for was his decision (at least, I THINK it was his decision) to put together a "covenant" of basic principles for the party. A lot of people put some time and effort into that and then after it was finished, no one ran with it. (Possibly due to Kuhn's inability to make people be tight ends and halfbacks instead of quarterback wannabe's?) If I knew that every candidate the SCDP supported was going to be against urban sprawl, fully invested in lowering the infant mortality rate in SC and really interested in making the SC education system into a world class model, then hell yes! Sign me up! I'll give a few bucks for that!

I feel like the party is in for some real positive changes. I have confidence in Keith Norman. It's the locals I'm worried about. They don't seem to know what they stand for other than a D after their candidates' names. Sort of like how people feel about being Baptist or Catholic or Episcopalian. If asked why they go to that church or belong to the religion, they usually reply with either "Because it's the one, true religion" or "That's just how I was raised".

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Monday 07 May 2007

Shameless Braggery

on 07 May : 22:53  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
Friday 04 May 2007

More Indication That Gore Should Run

on 04 May : 09:49  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
Via Political Wire:

Clinton, Giuliani See Leads Shrink
A new Quinnipiac poll shows Sen. Hillary Clinton still leads in the Democratic presidential primary race with 32%, down from 38% in February, and is trailed by Sen. Barack Obama at 18%, Al Gore at 14% and John Edwards at 12%.

On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani leads the Republican field with 27%, down from 40%, and is followed by Sen. John McCain at 19%, Fred Thompson at 14%, Newt Gingrich at 8% and Mitt Romney at 8%.

In possible general election matchups:

* Giuliani 44%, Obama 41%
* Giuliani 48%, Gore 41%
* Giuliani 49%, Clinton 40%
* McCain 42%, Obama 42%
* McCain 46%, Clinton 41%
* McCain 47%, Gore 41%.

Ok, so there's the top three of the GOP matched against Hillary, Obama and Gore. Gore is neck and neck with H and O. All he'd have to do is hold tight till September or so and then appear on a stage looking presidential and not sighing into his mic derisively while someone else is talking.
Thursday 03 May 2007

This Modern World

on 03 May : 08:26  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  

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Wednesday 02 May 2007

Mere Speculation At Best

on 02 May : 04:10  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
Former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson is gearing up a campaign for the Republican nomination.

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In a contest where no Republican has yet shown any real promise of being able to tromp all over a Democratic nominee, Thompson could be a Reagan knockoff if the GOP dims the lights and squints really hard. Actor turned politician, wait flip that, politician/attorney turned actor. For a GOP looking for some kind of ringer, it'd be close enough.

But I'm just not satisfied thinking that its just that Fred got itchy and thinks he might have a chance. If I put on my tinfoil hat, I tend to get a weird tingling from my Spidey sense that says there is something odd about Fred being from Tennessee.

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Like another former Senator from the other side of the aisle from Fred who is rumored to be looking at another run at the presidency. He was also the Vice-President for two terms. Al Gore.

It was a real hoot and a holler for the right-wingers in 2000 when Gore lost his home state (supposedly because of his stance on gun control) and I don't think that what is being whispered and/or reported on the 'net and in the MSM is the sum total of what's going on in politics and presidential campaigns. There's a whole lot going behind the scenes and a large portion of it is no good.

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Let's suppose that someone asked Fred to make like he was going to run. Or even went to him under the auspices of producing him as a ringer for the nomination, producing polls that showed he would do well, simply to affect Gore's decision in some way. Perhaps "they" think that seeing another Tennessean in the race might spook Gore, maybe rub salt in the wound from 2000. Perhaps "they" think that he would feel Johnny-come-lately if Fred jumped in and then here comes Al.

It is my belief/suspicion that there are Dems and Reps who work in union in support of shared goals. And I'm not talking about bi-partisanship. I find it very credible that the Democratic Leadership Council has shared goals with people from the Project For A New American Century. Now, on the face, you may scoff at the notion of Democrats working towards the same goals as the uber-conservatives of the nefarious PNAC but think about it for a minute.


Did you think on it at all? Let me give you a hint. If you don't know who they are, the PNAC is a group of whackjobs commonly referred to the "neo-cons" or neo-conservatives. Famous for coming up with the idea of invading Iraq (pre-9/11, pre-Bush "administration") then going on to become the Bush "administration". Notable "neo-cons" include but are not limited to:

William Kristol, George Bush, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz.

All the architects and cheerleaders for the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Now, let's take a look at some notable DLC'ers:
Joe Leiberman, Harold Ford Jr, Chuck Schumacher, Evan Bayh, William Jefferson Clinton (you know the guy who's married to Hillary Clinton who is running for the presidency?) and AL GORE.

Now, the fact that Al Gore was a founding member of the DLC may shock some people but think about this. In 2003, the DLC saw Howard Dean steamrolling his way to the nomination because he represented primary voters outrage, nay, anger at what was happening in DC in regard to Iraq. The DLC didn't want Dean as the nominee, so they put out a letter telling Democrats not to let a wild-eyed liberal ruin the party's chance at the presidency. It shocked everybody and their brother when Al Gore eventually endorsed Dean going against the DLC's warnings.

Gore gave some uproarious speeches after Dean lost out that were very much angrier than anything Dean ever did. Real podium-pounders. And he's spoken out against the illegal invasion of Iraq constantly while prominent DLC'ers have supported Bush's illegal invasion vigorously and to their own detriment.

Although he eventually won anyway, Lieberman is no longer even a Democrat. Harold Ford Jr lost his senatorial bid and is now a FOX NEWS contributor. When his best buddy Don Imus came under fire, Ford still called him a good friend who did something wrong and left it at that. Hillary Clinton has little support amongst liberal bloggers and liberals in general because she simply refuses to apologize for her vote to give Bush ultimate power. She hedges, she parses her words.

In the last election, the Clintons pushed General Wesley Clark to get into the primaries because they knew it would impact Dean's support. I think this is because they wanted Kerry or Gephardt to be the nominee; furthermore, I believe they wanted one of them as the nominee because they felt that Kerry or Gephardt would waffle or gaffe enough to lose to Bush, thus allowing Hillary to fulfill her promise to work for New York her whole senatorial term. If she had reneged on that promise, NY voters would have been less inclined to support her for a presidential run because it would have been very evident that she was just using them as a stepping stone to higher office.

So, it seems very plausible to me that the Clintons would make arrangements with their operatives to get Fred Thompson into the race in order to either force Gore's decision on running again. If Gore really wants to run, it only behooves him to wait till much later this year after Hillary and the others have turned nasty on one another and are blowing through their money trying to keep up with everyone else on damage control.

A possible head-to-head run against a fellow Tennessean (the home state he lost in 2000) could be an Achilles' heel for Gore.

I'm hoping it isn't.

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Monday 30 April 2007

Your Freedom Up For Bid

on 30 Apr : 00:13  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
rushmore.jpgFrom The Hunt For Red October

Capt. Vasili Borodin: I will live in Montana. And I will marry a round American woman and raise rabbits, and she will cook them for me. And I will have a pickup truck... maybe even a "recreational vehicle." And drive from state to state. Do they let you do that?
Captain Ramius: I suppose.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: No papers?
Captain Ramius: No papers, state to state.
Capt. Vasili Borodin: Well then, in winter I will live in... Arizona. Actually, I think I will need two wives.
Captain Ramius: Oh, at least.

In America, one of the greatest freedoms we, as citizens, enjoy is the ability to travel anywhere in this whole country without restriction. That freedom is now being bought up by corporations to sell to those who can afford it.

This is happening right now. This is not some "in years to come" corporatist's wetdream. It's being done now.

Corporations are buying up United States infrastructure.

By all accounts, tolls will be applied or raised immediately. The reasoning behind towns, states, whatever selling is that the sales of such items will erase a large part of the budget freeing up money for social programs while also infusing the budget with a large does of quick cash. This is possibly the grossest case of short-sightedness in the history of the US since Bush and his cult illegally invaded Iraq.

A corporation's only goal, it's only raison d’être is to make money. Sure, the product is sold for a basic amount of money but a corporation is rarely satisfied with making the same amount of money forever. The product must be cheapened and produced for a smaller amount of money thus allowing the corporation to make a larger profit for its investors.

Now, imagine you work in Memphis but you live in West Memphis. You're not an attorney or doctor or investment banker who specializes in buying public infrastructure for large corporations. You're, let's same a guy who fixes computers. Since you started you're little business with just you and your truck, a satchel of tools and moxy, you've driven over the bridge every day for free.

Suddenly, a faceless corporation buys the bridge. They keep all the lights on it replaced so it looks like an "M" all the time and it stays painted pretty solid. Not much better than when it was owned by the states (or whoever owns it now, I'm not really sure. The city? I doubt it.) but now when you go over twice a day at least, you have to pay a toll. Maybe you go all in and buy a pass but whereas monthly toll passes used to run folks in other states maybe $50 or so, Faceless Corporation is charging $125. That's an operating cost. You HAVE to go into Memphis, that's where you're customers are. So, now, you're paying someone to get to go to work. 12 x 125 = $1500 not going towards daycare, braces, Zocor or anything anymore.

And do you think that even though the state doesn't own the bridge anymore that your taxes are going to go down? Of course, they're not! FC is going to start trying to figure out new ways to squeeze dollars out of everyone. Poorer people will, of course, be the ones who get screwed the most.

Someone on a fixed income in West Memphis, now has to do without something else because they have to pay that extra fat toll on the bridge in order to go for their weekly checkups for whatever is killing them this week.

And how safe do you think that bridge is going to be in ten years? Sure they'll have code enforcers but let's be serious, will the enforcers shut down a bridge like ours here until its up to code and stop millions of dollars of freight from going across for days, weeks, months? Not without wearing a Kevlar vest and driving a IED-proof Humvee, they won't.

And what happens when a corporation decides that it is more cost-effective for them to allow the enforcers to come and shut down the bridge rather than shelling out the cash to fix it? Suppose the big one comes along and totally wipes out that bridge? Is Faceless Corporation going to think "people have to have that bridge there!" or is FC going to think, "Is it really worth the money it will take to clear the old bridge debris then construct a new bridge there?" Maybe they will. Maybe they'll think that it will be more cost effective to build a SMALLER bridge and charge a higher toll thus making more money with less wear and tear on their bridge.

Maybe they won't even wait for the big one to come along. Maybe they'll just say there won't be a bridge there for next five years, hang a "Closed for remodeling sign" on each side of the state line and whack that bridge and build the smaller one immediately. Hey, its their bridge. They can do whatever they want.

Now, sure, we can all say, "No one could be that evil" and hope that FC will just do what's right for their "customers". (And I'd love to see the last time that McDonald's did that without threat of legal action.)
What's happening here is corporations are buying more power over their customers. Think of the day when a company like GE buys a certain stretch of highway or a whole state's highway and they then won't allow someone to use it or they start charging "certain entities" higher rates than others. Suppose they tie it to someone's driving records.

At the toll booth, a laser immediately checks you're (now) bar-coded license plates via a hyper fast internet search of your driving records and finds that the vehicle has been involved in three accidents over four years. Perhaps they deem you to be a risk and now your toll is $9 instead of the regular $5 all because your freaking kid was listening to his Ipod while driving and the other two weren't even your fault.

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While you can still afford it!

And they'll look at cheaper kinds of steel and asphalt and paint and anything else that bridges are made out of. And they'll have some bean counter looking at settlement amounts and figuring out whether its cheaper to pay the families of the drivers killed on their cheaper bridges and roads than to pay for the higher priced quality materials to make it with.

From the article:

The combination of eager sellers and hungry buyers is shaking loose public assets across the country. The 99-year lease of the Chicago Skyway that went for $1.8 billion in 2005 was the first major transaction. Last year came the Indiana deal. Now states and cities are exploring the sale of leases for the turnpikes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, a toll road in Texas, Chicago Midway Airport, and several state lotteries. Suddenly politicians around the country are wondering how much cash they might be sitting on. Based on the going rate of about 40 times toll revenues, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge could probably fetch $3.4 billion were California interested in selling. The Brooklyn Bridge? If permission were granted by New York City to charge the same tolls as the George Washington Bridge, a private owner might shell out as much as $3.5 billion for it.

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The Golden Gate Bridge in the hands of a corporation. I've never even been on it but, god damn, people, not everything in the world should be for sale. A national treasure shouldn't be on the block because some politician thinks it might win them the next election because he balanced the budget by bartering beans for the basic building blocks of our national identity.

This kind of thinking, this idea that the peoples' infrastructure that allows for one of our most cherished freedoms to be available to one of the dastardly ideas in our country, the corporation, is merely another way for us to be tracked, analyzed, compartmentalized and dehumanized by the corporations.

Next step?
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Not everyone looks at a corporation and sees an entity that has its own goals and desires. Not everyone imagines a corporation like say, GE, as working against the basic human principles, the basic human ideals, truth, what have you in order to accomplish that corporation's only goal: profit, higher and higher profit. They just see toasters and washing machines that now come in cool colors.

Americans go and see movies like Erin Brockovich, The Insider and Thank You For Smoking and continue to think those are all examples of exceptions to the rule. We like our hamburgers. We like our electrical doodads. We like our automobiles. So, when someone points out the horrors (far away, not-in-our-face-24/7 horrors), we all nod and say, "yeah...whattyagonnado?"

And then when the horror is not far away and is in our faces, we get really heated and make some big changes. We all get really interested when we're tied up Alex-style and have to see with our own bracketed eyeballs that corporations are voracious monsters heedless to what WE hold dear and heedful only to its voracious appetite for more and more profit which factors in "acceptable operating costs" like cash settlements.

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Even if this new trend gets some national play, there will be defenders of it. Libertarians and objectivists will file out of the woodwork to say, "give it a try! You're going to be amazed! Privately owned property is always more well-cared for than public!" (an outrageous fallacy) And "people" will say, "hey let's see how it goes! Look at the savings we'll have next year!" not looking out to all the consequences that "hand-wringers" are "whining" about in the "liberal media".

Then in a few years when too many people are dying on shoddy roads and poorly-built bridges, the talk shows and talking heads will all be in an uproar and some jackass will be waggling his finger and crying "I told you so" and we'll all be firing off angry emails to our elected officials who will cry that they won't get re-elected if they take out a huge loan to buy the bridges and roads back from the corporations who have made their expected billions in the interim.

But I hope that some smart elected official is out there right now, maybe planning to sell some corporation a bridge or airport or road and thinking to himself, "Yeah, I'll sell it to you but in two years, when I'm about to go into my election cycle, I'm gonna use eminent domain to take it back after you've fixed it up real good installing toll booths and whatnot. I'll lower the tolls and be a big hero."

I doubt that will happen though.

What I really think could happen if this takes off and becomes the way things are done is that we'll be a nation of Captain Borodin's who won't have to have been actually literally shot to voice out regret with the situation. It will be part of our culture to look back on our lives after having spent them in basically the same part of the country, maybe even in the same part of the state because tolls were now a luxury like overseas flights are today and say something similar to the Captain's dying words...

I would like to have seen Montana.
Friday 27 April 2007

Some Inconvenient Truths

on 27 Apr : 11:21  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
In 2003, the wife and I set in our minds to find someone to support for the presidency against Bush. Right off the bat, I found myself listening to Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. He was saying everything that I wanted to hear.

"Get out of Iraq because we never should have been there in the first place. Health care for every man, woman and child in America. Let's create a Department of Peace." These were some of them.

Radical. Pie in the sky. Even loony. And while I'm often a liberally, idealistic extremist, I wanted to have a chance against Bush who at that time was still polling well because people were still a little afraid and ill-informed. That streak of realism kicked in; so, we agreed to go with Howard Dean of Vermont and everyone knows how that went.

Now, here we are readying for a new race and I'm still undecided. (If Al Gore of Tennessee gets in, I won't be undecided anymore.) The candidates in last nights debate from most accounts this morning wow'ed no one but it seems that the media is handling its coverage in the same manner it did in '03: There is a presumed nominee (maybe two), an upstart third placer who could surge, some also rans and a couple of lunatic fringers to laugh at.

Here's some short takes on all of them.

The presumed nominee is Hillary Clinton. If she is the Democratic nominee, I'll be looking at whoever the lying sack of crap is that is the Republican nominee and wondering who I could write in. The Clintons worked very hard to make sure that John Kerry was the nominee in '04. They pushed Gen. Wesley Clark into the race because they felt that some Dean supporters were thinking that Clark was "Dean in a uniform" and that would impact Dean's support. It did but he recovered.

Clinton has specifically chosen not to apologize (by parsing her words she tries to have it both ways) for her vote to give Bush the power to invade Iraq. She has tried to come off hawkish because she fears that right-wingers will see her as weak on defense/terror/making war because she's a woman. That's a valid concern, I suppose but she should point out that is a poor way to judge people. Thinking they are against making war doesn't make one weak. It's the PROPER mindset for any president to have. NO ONE, man or woman, should have an itchy trigger finger. That's what Bush has and he has totally screwed the US' standing in the world.

I've already been told by two people who are active in the local party that Clinton will be the nominee. One spoke with glee about it. Saying that she couldn't wait to have Bill back in the White House. Go to hell. A dynasty is a dynasty even if you like the current dynasty. The US is not a nation that does political dynasties. And if we do do them, we quickly find out why we shouldn't (see Ford family, Bush family, Kennedy family).

Look, a lot of people want to see a woman be president of the US and I think it would be great for the country as a whole but I'm not just going to go with the first one that comes along no matter who her husband was. Sex cannot be a qualification for a job. We as a nation of voters have to put aside our superficial preferences in order to find a candidate that can lead this country to our potential greatness.

Barak Obama is the other "presumed" nominee. That's largely based on the good feeling people get from hearing his soothing voice and also based on his money-raising ability. Two indicators, in my opinion, for attention but not for my vote.

When Obama came along and he took Harold Ford's sash as "(Potential) First Black President!", I was on board and thankful that it wasn't Jr's anymore. Oprah was touting him as everything but Jehovah himself striding the earth. He seemed to not want to be associated with the Democratic Leadership Council when he was running for his senate seat and that was a good thing. He had Howard Dean's seal of approval and that meant a lot to me personally.

Then I started hearing questions like "Wouldn't it be great to have a black president?" And at first, I was like "What an odd question, but yeah, it would be kind of cool, I suppose." But why? Skin color is not a qualification for a job. Obama is far much more than simply a black man. And people asking that ludicrous question are really practicing a weird form of racism. A good president finds problems to correct for all people in the nation not just the black ones or white ones, not just the poor ones or rich ones, not just the ones in his/her face constantly. I have no doubt that Obama would serve sufficiently or even admirably and of my realist choices, he is the one I would support but he doesn't inspire me and, in fact, his style reminds me of Kerry whom I utterly detested for his blandness.

It seems to me today, that Obama is headed into a Gore 2000 situation. People will agree they like him pretty good but wonder where is the fire? Eventually, that self-deprecation is going to start reminding a lot more folk of JFK and it may work for him or it may come off as emulation. If Obama goes on to become the nominee, I will more than likely vote for him unless he becomes more like Kerry or Clinton but I'm not going to go out and work for him like I did Dean. I don't see him reflecting the outrage and anger of a lot of people on the left. That's where the fire is.

John Edwards of South (North?) Carolina is trying to be the third placer who takes off. To me, he was an also-ran in the '04 who just collected those who feared Dean would implode or was too "cray-zy" (he didn't nor was). I referred to him, as many did, as the "Breck Girl" because he was just sa damned pretty. I was blown away the first time I saw Elizabeth because I thought she was his mother. (Don't tell her I said that.)

Edwards is fine. I have no feelings toward him really. He didn't carry his home states for the Dems. He's working that fiery thing trying to get some of Dean's old people but I don't think he's feeling it. Sure, he may think the things he's saying about health care and poverty are good ideas but I don't think that if he were president he'd be able to get any of it done when he got there. He's a one-term senator who is handsome like Kennedy was with a wife who people can love (for other reasons than they loved Jacquelyn) but he doesn't have a Joe Kennedy working with the mob, Hollywood and power brokers on his behalf behind the scenes. He's never been on a PT boat that I know of.

Lastly, I think he's shot his wad with Elizabeth's cancer battle. People are progressive and understand that situation and maybe think he's doing what he's got to do, but there is also that nagging feeling that he should home serving E soup in bed and not dragging her all over god's creation eating rubber chicken and giving speeches.

He won't be the nominee.

The Also Rans (quick hits here)

Bill Richardson - Worked for the Clintons. He seems smart and that's a good thing. I like that he's a governor. He's got a lot of foreign policy experience and that couldn't hurt. Being Hispanic is not a qualification for the presidency.

Joe Biden - Come on. Biden is the original camera-loving windbag. He's goes to Iraq a lot and he thinks he's some kind of expert on it. He's about as arrogant as you can get. He tries to come off all buddy, buddy but come on, he ran once before and he had to quit because he gave a speech that had been plagiarized. He may be running for second place.

Chris Dodd - Has a record like Kerry had for oppo to pour over and he'll eat up his money explaining every vote he ever cast. I haven't heard one original idea from the guy and he is stodgier than a Al Gore 2000.

The So-called "Lunatic Fringe"

Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel of Alaska - There are times in our lives when we come face to face to who we are and come to accept it.

Here I stand.

As I stated, Kucinich really spoke for me in '04. He is now as well but the one clip I saw from last night that was the truest moment was THIS from Mike Gravel. "...Some of these people frighten me..." Yeah, that's about it. I'd agree with that in regard to Clinton and Biden the most. Biden seems like the kind of macho man that'd drop a bomb to show "them" who's boss. And Clinton is trying to project that image. She said flat out last night that she thinks that the best way to respond to an attack on the US is to hit back as soon as possible.

That's Bush-think to me.

(ASIDE: 9.11 was a horrible day. Bill Moyers had clips of it in his documentary that aired the other night on PBS and it was still difficult to see those images. Attacking someone else was everyone's reaction even mine. I would sometimes say that we should turn some country into a sheet of glass. "Operation Sheet of Glass. I'm so glad I wasn't president on September 12, 2001.

And by the time Bush and the Cult got around to invading Afghanistan and NOT capturing the guy supposedly responsible, I was already thinking that invasion somewhere was not the answer. 9.11 should have been handled in a law enforcement manner with the support of the intelligence community and the military special forces.

As we ALL know now, invading Iraq was not the appropriate response in any form or fashion. Clinton is stating that she would do just like Bush: attack someone. I'm not for that. I'm against that. Now, if Canada or Mexico starts massing on the border, then yeah, light 'em up. That's an immediate threat.

If someone hijacks a plane and flies it into the Empire State Building, I don't know that I want to see tanks loading into dark green planes with their tails in the air. It might deter more "terrorists" if they don't know what the HELL we're going to do.)

Back to Gravel and Kucinich. There was a comment on the 'net this morning where someone said that Gravel made Kucinich look as sober as a judge. I like that. Gravel was pissed from what I've seen and read. I like that too. We should be pissed. A cult has taken over our country is using our resources and good names to conduct their own private wars of choice for plunder.

Doesn't that make you mad? It makes me mad.

When Gravel made comment about being scared of some of the upper tier candidates, they laughed at him. They want to cast him as the "crazy Uncle Mike down from the attic" as Tim Russert called him this morning on The Today Show. The 2006 elections didn't assuage my anger nor my outrage. It made me feel like I had a stick but the criminals could run faster than me and that maybe they wouldn't be able to run forever.

And Kucinich has introduced articles of Impeachment against "vice-president" Dick Cheney. Not one of the others, not even Gravel, supports that impeachment. WTF? Reid just got through saying that he wasn't going to get into a name-calling match with someone who has a 9% approval rating. Why not impeach his ass? He's got zero support and he's clearly undermined the rule of law in this country for the last 6 years.

For now, I'm going to wait and see. I'll cheer for Kucinich and Gravel but know that they will probably go nowhere. And I'll wait patiently for Al Gore to announce in September when everyone is sick and tired of all the hedging and waffling and boring speeches made by the alleged "presumed" nominee(s).
Wednesday 25 April 2007

Newsflash! The Military Lies

on 25 Apr : 07:48  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
UPDATE: I stated in this post that Kauzlarich's opinions were the stance of the military and that is not certain. He says that his statements are his personal opinion and therefore not necessarily the official line of the military as a whole.

UPDATE II: I went back and checked the article again:

According to the Army officer who directed the first official inquiry, the Army might have more of a clue about the shooter's identity than it has let on. Asked whether ballistics work was done to identify who fired the fatal shots, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich told, "I think, yeah, they did. And I think they know [who fired]. But I never found out."

So, Kauzlarich is the is Army officer who direct the first official inquiry. I'd say that he could be considered as speaking on behalf of the military, and at the very least that he speaks for the military in regards to the Tillman fratricide but I will leave it up to the reader to decide for himself whether he speaks for the military as a whole.

The thing I wanted to bring to your attention was the way the military is now reacting to the Tillman Family's outrage and daring to call the US Military "liars". (Jessica Lynch did, as well.) The military is trying to deflect criticism back on to the Tillman Family.

Basically, the military's stance is that it doesn't matter what happened to the Pat Tillman or his family because they're atheists. I am crapping you negative.

Here's a quote:
Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more ˜ that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

See, it's their own fault! They just won't get over it. They don't have enough faith. They're just like those little kids who can't be healed by Benny Hinn. They just don't have enough faith. And they don't think that there's a heaven, so F those atheist bastards.

They think Pat, their son, their brother is "worm food", so they don't really count. We can shit all over them if we want to because everybody hates atheists, right?

Well, everybody that matters in this country anyway...

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Tuesday 24 April 2007

Waiting Vs Travelling

on 24 Apr : 12:10  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
Protest songs are coming back. Earlier this month, I posted that Dear Mr. President by PINK. Everyone is surely at least familiar with Not Ready To Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks.

Here is one from a not-so-well-known artist for some of you. While you will more than likely have heard of Rage Against The Machine (no stranger to protest songs or protest in general), you may not have heard of Tom Morello by name. The song is The Road I Must Travel and it's pretty good.

He's using a pseudonym here, The Nightwatchman. Now, I have no idea why he's doing that so if there's some big convoluted reason that he is, I'm not so interested in that. Fake names for one guy who is known already seems a little affected to me. (See, "Chris Gaines" and [though he is a musical god to me] 0+-> or Prince)

I love Rage Against The Machine. This is different from that but still stirring in a Guthrie-esque, Dylany kind of way.

But there's this other song that I really can't abide.

I have often been driven to profanity while driving down the street and that ridiculous song by John Mayer comes on the radio. Waiting For The World To Change is the most specious, delusional drivel I've heard in a long time. Waiting for the world to change is tantamount to doing nothing and saying nothing. Waiting on the world to change is what the Congress did for several years while the Bush "administration" carried out their ridiculous and nefarious plan to change the world.

Mayer's song, if dwelt on for too long could drive me to rage. That song is a pothead's anthem. (Not that I'm against pot or potheads. But they're not the go-to folk for anthems.) That song is telling Mayer's fans that changing the world is not a valid or attainable goal. "Chill out, guys, we can't do nothin' 'bout that shiii-aaat. Let's just wait it out."

This is representative of the mentality that the current "administration" desires most in our country. They want to foster an air of powerlessness. They want to foster a feeling of intransigence in government that no one feels can be changed by an email or phone call because that is all most Americans are willing or able to do. Only a handful could miss work and fly, drive or bus to Washington, DC to stand in front of the White House for a day in an organized protest. Even worse, many Americans feel that even if they DID do that, nothing would change.
Thursday 19 April 2007

And Our Nation's Long Nightmare

on 19 Apr : 10:46  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
sanjie.jpgIs at an end...

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Wednesday 18 April 2007

Racism in Memphis?

on 18 Apr : 15:48  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
10192004.jpgThe aspect lacking from this conversation is what action to take.

Just talking about race is not helping.

If those who Desi Franklin designates as white liberals really want to get past the race issue in Memphis, then maybe they should stop making the situation worse by creating white enclaves in the 'burbs and Tipton and Fayette counties.

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The situation calls for intermingling. The people that Desi is saying have a problem or shift blame for the problem are compounding the problem by avoiding it as much as possible, it seems to me.

And the reality is that, in Memphis, there is not a real race problem here. The race of those who feel they're getting screwed is happenstance. The reality is that those getting screwed in Memphis are not African-Americans only. They are, in fact, lower to lower middle class families.

I know what I'm talking about here. I live in Binghamton. I don't just cut through it on Collins in the mornings and evenings on my way back and forth between Cordova and downtown. I have neighbors who happen to be black, white, brown, Asian all around. Do I get miffed at them sometimes? Of course, I do but not because of their race. I get peeved when radios are too loud. They're just rude bastards. Some of them are rude bastards who happen to be black and some are rude bastards who happen to be white and some are rude bastards who happen to be Hispanic. The race is inconsequential to me. It's the rude bastards part that is my focus. Turn the frickin' radio down, dude.

Desi's posts are trying to include ALL white liberals in this group of people who are ignoring or shifting blame for the alleged racial tensions in Memphis. I have felt that, in fact, she was lacking a qualifier for her group. "Rich", white liberals is really who she should be talking to directly. When she was talking about how 'we' all feel so good when we come in contact with black people, I didn't feel part of that. I'm around black people all the time right here in my yard. Her comment sounded very elitist to me.

(And just to clarify, I use "rich" to mean upper middle to upper class folks living in Cordova, Germantown, hell, east of Highland or Perkins, pretty much and all points east but work downtown. I admit to certain pettiness to the term and also admit to a bit of a classist nature.)

I'd go even further to say that she could just go ahead and take "white" out since there are also "rich" black liberals out there.

I really grow weary of everyone (whites and blacks) trying to make Memphis into this race-war district. Personally, I have my discriminatory side but it is never because the person I want to discriminate against is of another race. It is usually because that person has done something I don't like, don't agree with or feel derision towards. Like when someone says white liberals are not acknowledging a problem or "blaming the victim". Like, also, when someone who happens to be black gets indicted and their house of cards is falling and they start pointing at white people and calling them racists.

If that person happens to be black, too bad. Being black doesn't excuse one for being a jackass. Edmund Ford is a sanctimonious, rude, lying jackass but no one will tell him to shut his fucking yap and stop bullying folks in city council meetings because they're afraid he might paint them as a racist. (Which he did anyway.)

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A human being who is a sanctimonious, rude, lying jackass doesn't get a pass because he's black anymore than a white one. A sanctimonious, rude, lying jackass is still just that no matter what his pigmentation levels.

Are there cultural differences between the two races? In some aspects I suppose so, but I daresay that there are actually more similarities. When this ridiculous "conversation" about race starts, I inevitably think of the words of President John F Kennedy in his commencement speech to the American University in 1963:

"So, let us not be blind to our differences - But let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal.

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Now, there he was talking, in effect, to the Russians about the arms race but those words hold true for us here in Memphis, TN when talking about just plain old race. All this talk about racism and whatnot is unnecessary and, in fact, distracts us from the real issues our city faces. Local officials want the blogs to be loaded down with this stuff because that takes all the heat off them that is generated by our talking about the real issues.

All this naval gazing about "race" is not going to reduce our infant mortality rate. It won't stop developers from laying waste to acres and acres of forest in order to put up another strip mall that will be empty except for the squatters and drug addicts in it in 10 years. This discussion won't build one more school or raise any teachers' pay.

No matter what our DNA has made our skin look like when light is bounced off it, all of us want to see less dead children. All of us want to see our children grow up to be well-informed, healthy, financially stable adults. All of us want to walk down the street without fearing robbery or murder. All of us want to drink clean water, breathe clean air and have the simple dignity of employment.

We would rather cheer together at hometown teams victories than cringe at national news making stories of our corrupt leaders. We would rather see visible, measurable results in our city than grainy video of secret back room deals. We would all rather hear children playing happily in the neighbor than gunshots two streets over.

If Thaddeus Matthews is mad because more white people are on the SCDP executive committee then too bad. (I believe I read that or heard that somewhere, if that's wrong then my apologies to Mr. Matthews and kindly substitute someone's name who IS mad about it.) I couldn't care less what the make up of the executive committee is as long as it is made up of Memphians who want to see our city become a model for other cities to follow. If it is made up of bastardly and inept types then I'll be voting differently next convention. If they help get some decent, intelligent elected officials who are looking out for all people in Memphis and not just one group, then I won't be voting differently.

If there must be an "Us vs Them" arrangement then let's make it us (the citizens of Memphis) vs them (our ineffectual, spineless, strategy-loving, ass-covering elected officials).

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Personally, I would like to see an end to urban sprawl. Shelby County needs a complete moratorium on new builds. If I recall there was a time when Memphis was the city that had more trees per square mile than any its size in the country. We need that back. A healthier, greener city would have a positive influence on its citizens. I'm starting to see problems that I've seen in New Orleans that I hate there. Medians not mown. Trash everywhere. Trash trees growing in lots.

The infant mortality rate
is a simply ignorance. (Not stupidity, but lack of being informed) Memphis has got to adopt a kind of program like the state of Vermont has that gives new mothers the opportunity to take FREE child rearing classes. Instead of these feel good commercials with the school superintendent, we should be seeing commercials telling women who think they are pregnant to come and be checked out for free. Hell, run them during Springer and Maury. I'd like to see my taxes go to that ten times before I'd see it go to a new stadium that Memphis doesn't need.

Everyone's arguing about WHERE to build a new stadium that the city doesn't need AT ALL and kids are dying every 43 hours because mothers don't know how to take care of them! This city is not about the whites getting a new stadium to watch their hometown football team play whilst the blacks can't get health care. This is about developers getting to make another million off the backs of the citizens of Memphis (all of them, regardless of race). Any moneys deemed appropriate to build a stadium should be put to work saving the lives of babies. Crawl before we run, people. Christ almighty.

Race is not the problem. Even if it is a problem, its waaaaaay down the list as far as I'm concerned. Right now, its a distraction and a waste of time in my estimation. (Note I just wasted half an hour on this post about race.)

It is simply a matter of addressing one another as human beings without an adjective. And when addressed as a human being, responding in kind. If someone is an a-hole, they're just an a-hole. If someone does something nice, they're not giving credence to anything other than their humanity and personality.

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Tuesday 17 April 2007

Oh Four Twenty, Twenty Oh Four

on 17 Apr : 13:58  Posted by Brassmask  Category: Misc  
dsc00036.jpgFriday will mean that we've had three whole years of a special kind of joy.

I mean, come ON.

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