Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Constitution is Deeply Flawed

So says President Obama.

But what exactly did he mean by that?

Let's think about it for a moment. Who wrote the Constitution? Women? No. African Americans? No. Homosexuals? Not that we know of from the record. Were poor people involved in its authoring? Well, no. Jews? Muslims? Buddhists? Doesn't seem so.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Is there a single group that has not needed a modification of the laws to protect their rights?

"We The People" was written by and for wealthy, Christian, white, heterosexual, men.

The rest of us have had to prove and some of us continue to have to prove that "We The People" means us too.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some Thoughts

My dick is not political.

Hope is not edible.

Err on the side of freedom.

Listen with your heart but act with your brain.

Freedom is never given as a handout.

Necessity is the mother of invention. But that's only one of her children and some of them are bad seeds.

Knowledge is power. Beauty is power too. If you don't have one, you'd better have the other. If you have both, you rule your world.

Could it be that fear is the root of all evil?

It's easier over the short run to change a person's behavior than it is to change their heart.

Control freaks don't care why a person's behavior changes, as long as they can maintain control of the behavior.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Before you vote...

It has to do with that "Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness" that are our fundamental, guaranteed rights under America's Constitution (that often annoying, sometimes inconvenient, but cleverly-written set of rules that govern our nation).

DSC_0382


The first words in our Constitution are, "We The People".  I don't know if many of us appreciate what a crazy concept that was during a time of Kings, Queens, and family dynasties -- some of which had been in continuous rule for hundreds of years. 

Generally, their rule came from "Divine Right", meaning that the religious authorities determined that the person in charge was given their authority by God, and so was absolute and unquestionable.  Disagree with the Queen openly and you could loose your head.

So, in breaking away from the King of England, a handful of crazy people proposed that ordinary people could govern themselves without the need for an ruler with absolute authority granted by The Church.

From this came the idea of "Separation of Church and State."  The reason was not so much to keep religion out of politics (an impossibility), but to keep the politicians out of the business of dictating religion to everyone else.

In America, the people in power can't persecute you if your beliefs are different from theirs.  And here's where that life, liberty, pursuit of happiness thing comes in.

The government of the United States, by our own Constitution and Bill of Rights cannot deny someone a choice that others have based only on religious grounds.

The crazy people who wrote our Constitution knew that someone would try to make their religious beliefs the law of the land and protected us from that happening.

So, what does that have to do with voting?

Well, maybe the crazy radicals who founded our country knew that in order for our nation to be the best in the world, we'd need to be able to draw from the knowledge, experiences and abilities of all of our citizens -- even people we might not personally like.

So, when it comes time to vote consider what you're voting for and against.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Break-in

So, let's say Joe believes that Sam broke into a house.  Joe breaks into the same house looking for evidence that Sam had been there.  Sam had never been in the house so, of course, no evidence of Sam's presence is found.

Someone broke into the house, but it sure wasn't Sam.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Here's why "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can't possibly ever work:

Straight people are always talking about their dates, boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses.  Men and women like to talk about their relationships and sexual conquests. 

Military Gays and Bisexuals can't enter into these common discussions without directly outing themselves.

Their lack of open participation in these discussions stands out as much as if they spoke openly. They might develop strategies to skirt or deflect the discussions, but attempts at evasion raise suspicions. 

Suspicions lead to investigations which lead, eventually, to truth being discovered and people's careers ending for no reason other than who they are attracted to -- when they've otherwise done nothing wrong.

The argument that Gays serving openly in the military will lead to a breakdown of discipline is the same argument used to keep Blacks and women out of the military. 

Instead, what happened was mutual respect.  And no, it didn't happen overnight.

Such changes in attitude take time.  But the first step has to be made.  The sooner, the better.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Southern Border

Here's a simple plan to control the southern border: Give away all of the land along the southern border to any U.S. citizen, with the stipulation that you can take as much land as you can hold.  If you can't hold it, it goes back to Federal control and doled out to someone else.

Keep in mind, I said simple - not pretty or peaceful.

But even that simple plan falls apart if you run Google Earth and take a look at El Paso.  Then toggle Borders and Labels off and zoom out to see the entire urban area.  That urban sprawl is at least 13 cities on both sides of the Rio Grande.

Scroll south and east to suburbs and farm country.  That too spreads across both borders.

If you zoom in tight, you'll see a fence line up along the urban areas.  But when you look at the big picture, that fence is a border like a g-string is clothing.

Zoom in close and trace the border along the Rio Grande and think how you'd go about patrolling it.  How many people would you need and how much it would cost to train, supply, support and pay the massive army you'd need to patrol the border.

I'm figuring maybe 1 person per ten-mile stretch, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week @ $25.00/hr.  That comes to $600.00 per day for each 10 mile stretch of border.  Of course, they'd work in pairs, but let's keep it to one person just to get some minimum figures.

The border is 1,969 miles long (according to Wikipedia).  Round to 197 stations, 10 miles apart. That comes to $118,200.00 per day just in wages.  That doesn't include administration, uniforms, equipment, infrastructure, vehicles, fuel, etc.

So, about 43 million dollars per year just to put warm bodies on the ground with just the clothes they showed up in.

Success will mean fewer people on the government dole, offset by higher prices for food for all of us, since they'll have to pay union scale wages to get people to do the hot, dirty, backbreaking work the illegals used to do for next to nothing.

That's assuming you can even pay Americans enough to do that work. Even in this time of high unemployment, Americans aren't standing in line to take field-hand jobs away from the immigrants.

So, that means the collapse of American farming and importing food from abroad.

I don't know -- $5.00 for an artichoke?  $15.00 for a head of lettuce?  A bottle of wine?  Only for the wealthy.

We have it good in American -- partly because the worse conditions a worker can find here are still better than the desperate poverty our southern neighbors came here to escape from.

A more practical solution might be to invite migrant workers to checkpoints along the border where they can get work passes and ID cards so we know who and where they are.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Legend of Gunner

Gunner was short. He was maybe 5-foot-six if he stretched and stood on his toes. He was wiry tough though. Arms like twisted lengths of steel cable. His loose-fitting rayon print shirt draped over tightly rippling pectorals.

He was a quiet man. Never known to raise his voice, which had the effect of causing a room to go quiet so people could hear him speak -- which wasn't often.

The story was that he'd been a helicopter gunner in the Army during 'Nam. He had the aura of someone who'd seen things and done things best not discussed in polite company.

Gunner was a pool shark. He haunted a dive bar called the Mauna Loa down on the Cow Hollow end of Fillmore Street. He sat hunch over a beer when I was introduced to him by one of the regulars.

He look up, shook my hand firmly and turned back to his half-empty pint.
I ordered a draft from the beer maid, Marcy. She was tall, leggy, naturally blonde and naturally buxom, with biker-chick looks in black denim decorated with small stainless-steel chains. She sported a quick smile and darting eyes that didn't miss anything going on in her bar.


Someone punched up "We Are The Champions" by Queen and we all joined in the chorus, raising our voices and our beers in unison.


Just when the last notes were fading and we'd gotten back to the serious business of drinking, the Texan entered.


He stood nearly six feet tall with a heavy build. He wore a new-looking off-white Stetson, an ornated black and silver Rockmount Paniolo shirt tucked into Lee Jeans held with a rattlesnake skin belt with a wide ornate silver buckel decorated with embossed steer antlers. His Dan Post snakeskin boots matched his shirt.

Under his arm, he carried a decorative leather case that held his Ebony and mother-of-pearl inlaid Balabushka pool cue.

"So, who's a player here?" The Texan shouted as he stepped through the door. Gunner raised his hand without looking up from his beer.

"Name's Chet, from San Antonio!" stretching the city's vowels and consonants as he reached out a hand thick as a side of beef and flashing a hint of gold chain from the edge of his shirtsleeve.

Gunner climbed down from his bar stool.
"Name's Gunner -- from here." gesturing at the bar before taking the big man's hand and giving it a single firm shake. He reached back to the bar and gulped down the last two fingers of a pint. "So, what's your game, Texan?"

"Well, we play a lot of one-foul where I'm from. What'ta y'all play up here in Frisco?"

Gunner cringed at the crude, tourist abbreviation of his city's name. Took a breath. "Nine ball, huh?" He eyed the Texan up and down, sizing up his opponent. "I'm not a tourney player, but I play a pretty good game of eight-ball."

The Texan let out a hearty laugh. "Ok, son. When in Rome..." as he set his case down on the table, flipped it open and began twisting together his secret weapon.

Gunner went to the rack and eyeballed the selection of pool cues. He pulled one down and rolled it on green felt. It was slightly bowed near the middle and flopped around like a dying fish. He put it back and pulled down another one. It rolled fairly straight. He held the stubby, pitted bumper to his eye a peered down shaft to its tip, rotating it between his fingers. "It'll do." He muttered.

"Fifty dollars a game?" Gunner queried. "Well sure!" the Texan shot back without hesitation.

Both men antied up and Marcy banked the cash in her bosom.

"You're the guest. Your break." Gunner said softly as he tighted the balls in the rack with his fingertips. The Texan carefully chalked the tip of he cue, examining it like he was checking the clarity of a diamond.

The Texan broke, sending the eleven and twelve balls rocketing into corner pockets. "Looks like I got the big ones!"

"It sure looks that way" Gunner replied.

Gunner waddled around the table between sips of beer, squinting at the balls as if he was seeing double, and often missing easy shots.

Gunner lost that game, won the next and lost the next two games, doubling the stakes each time.

The stake was $800.00. The Texan counted, then handed Marcy a thick wad of bills.

Marcy kept the pile of twenties and fifties warm, giving herself a lift at the same time.

"Well, son where's your bet?" The Texan drew. Gunner glanced over at Marcy. She nodded. "The lady says I'm good for it," Gunner replied coolly.

"Bettin' the farm, huh?" the Texan smirked, handing Gunner the rack.

The Texan broke. Nothing went in. Gunner stepped up, suddenly firm in his stride. His hands were steady and his eyes focused sharp as lasers cutting diamonds.

Gunner ran the table. He called and hit three-ball combinations, jump shots, a behind-the-back-bridge-off-the-rail to sink two. The Texan never put cue to ball for the rest of the game.

Gunner lined up his last shot and slammed the 8-ball into a corner pocket. "Well, I've been skunked!" The Texan said with a grimace. He untwisted his cue and lay it carefully back in its case. "Quite a town. Quite a town." he muttered, stepping out into the street.

Marcy peel off two hundred and lay it in the till. "That covers your tab for the week, Gunner." and handed him the rest.

So I asked him, "Did they call you 'Gunner' in the army?" "No," he replied. "I picked that name up here."

Someone punched up "We are the Champions" on the jukebox and Gunner bought us all a around of drafts while we sang in unison.

The was a night at the Mauna Loa, around 1976. It was my first legal night of drinking in a bar.