Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Suffer the little children

The young boy featured to the left (for email users, use this link: http://tinyurl.com/cezsc ) is a two year old boy in Parkland, Washington.

Late last night, someone, his parent(s) presumably decided he was disposable. The left him on an outside stairwell at a church in Parkland. A janitor heard him crying and found him there, with a cheeseburger and a bottle of water.

Earlier this month, I posted about some recent stories about what I consider idiot parents. This case transcends that. I can't fully explain why, but this makes me furious. And while its likely a good thing for the boy, the near brush with tragedy is hard for me to read about. Thank God this had as good of a resolution as it did.

I'll be nice for a moment, and assume that maybe they did this for his best interests, and not out of selfishness, but at the same time, outside on a stairwell is hardly the safest place is it?

Were there no relatives? Did they attempt to call social services? A good friend? I can't answer any of that.

The boy, now in foster care, is still unidentified, and the news are searching for clues to his identity. They may or may not find them, only time will tell. And personally I am torn on whether I want them found. Getting them help and reuniting the family is attractive, and certainly preferable, but so is keeping this boy from being further at risk at the hands of parents who cannot handle the responsibility.

Children are easily the greatest gift of God to us unworthy people. They are also our gravest responsibility. A good friend and his wife recently were gifted in this way. I hope little Sebastion know's how lucky he is.

I am angry, and I am sad at the same time. I just pray that the rest of this boy's life is full of the love he deserves.

And I will hug my children a little tighter tonight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Dick Durbin

Ok, I've heard enough and had enough. Everyone has been pounding this issue into the ground, and I can't stand silent any more.

One thing I learned well during the 2000 presidential campaign, thanks in part of friends and to websites like factcheck.org and Spinsanity, was to look at what was said, in context, and not just knee jerk reactions. This issue put my new skill to the test.

Sen Dick Durbin, D. Ill, as most of us know, made some outrageous comments last week, and I won't rehash it completely, but the gist of it is that he was describing alleged abuses at Gitmo, and after describing some detailed abuses, he said:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

Immediately, conservatives began calling for his head.

Now first, I am ex military and I take any abuses by the military very serious. I completely condemn any person who crosses that line between interrogation and abuse. However, I am also a staunch defender of the military against the attacks they have been subject to over the years, and I frequently find my hackles rising at rhetoric like this.

I looked closely at what he said. I examined it, read it in and out of context, and verified the accuracy of the quotes.

My conclusion is: Dick did not call the US servicemen Nazis.

What he said, in essence, is that the abuses he was detailing were more consistent with the gulags and nazis and such. A minor point of semantics, but its important. The reason it is so important is that nothing he described is remotely close in scope and magnitude to the millions killed by the Nazi's, the Gulags and Cambodian Killing fields. He can say anything he wants, but its a completely faulty comparison. There may be inhumane treatment happening, and that must be investigated, but lets stick to the facts, hmm?

What he wanted was shock value and he got it. He wanted to cause a widespread uproar, and he did, but not quite what he intended. He made a stupid comparison and most everyone rejects it. And honestly, there is plenty of room to criticize the treatment of detainees at Gitmo without resorting to anything like that. As a former Military guy, I was disgusted, but oddly unoffended.

Look, the military certainly-heck definitely-has more then its share of sadistic bastards. Shoot, I lived in the same dorm as some of them. Those sadistic SOBs who work in the prisons should be punished when their sadism over rides their oaths. And, there are overzealous interrogators who do cross the boundaries against humane treatment to extract information. They too should be prosecuted.

But these are the exceptions. Not the rule. Nothing Durbin said has anything to do with the overwhelming majority of the 2 million plus military personnel who serve honorably.

Durbin, in my opinion, is a moron, not a traitor.

More to the point, he is a skilled politician, and really in light of a lot of the things said daily by liberals, it wasn't all that bad. Al Franken can best it before his morning coffee gets cold.

He was trying to use the situation, and he miscalulated. But even with that said, he achieved his purpose, he got people talking about it.

And so to close this, Durbin, in a move that rather surprised me, made an apology on the floor of the Senate. On the whole it wasn't bad-for a politician. He offered a few excuses, mitigated it with some good intentions and all that, but mostly it was ok.

I only take minor issue with one line of the Senators apology:

"I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military"

Um, no offense, Senator, but exactly who did you think runs Gitmo?

You had every intention of casting them in a negative light. You just went a bit too far trying to make your point..

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A Very Brady Blog

Tonight I was watching VH1's special on the top 100 Kid stars, hosted by none other then Christopher Knight, of Peter Brady fame, who was also just on season 4 of The Surreal Life.

A lot of happy favorites were showcased on the show, including all of the Brady kids, even the annoying cousin.

So, I thought about what the Brady Bunch represented. Being a Step-Father, I appreciated the blending that family did. The parents maintained equality regardless of who was who's biological child. Trying to balance the "my kids vs your kids" life can be trying, and is often one of the hardest things blended families do. They even debunked some myths of evil step mothers and the like. The show despite its cloying sweetness was really unique.

The parents slept together, made mistakes and corrected them and genuinely loved their children.

The kids had normal problems and generally showed a somewhat more normal suburban life then many other shows. The did stupid things. They got upset over trivial things. They were competitive and still defended each other.

It was completely devoid of politics, and social issues dealing only with a perfect suburbian vision of family issues, even if it was in a unrealistic and comedic way. Unrequited love, growing pains, jealousy and depression, all had their day there, but no Vietnam, no Watergate and certainly no drugs.

Now I grant that during its 5 year run, the show, which premiered in 1969, had some of the tackiest clothes and smarmiest plots around, but despite that it remains a syndication favorite. Translated to numerous foreign languages, and still shown daily today, it spawned music records, a TV variety show, a TV movie, a 35th anniversary reunion special, a cartoon series, 3 spoof movies, and more.

In a way, a lot of us grew up with them. They were hopelessly "square" and out of touch, but we loved them.

But then I thought about the 1995 movie they made. One of the plot factors was to keep the Brady family socially and mentally in the 70's while living in the 90's. Talk about being out of touch and wired.

But think about what would have had to happen to make the Brady family meet the 2000's. In order to sell that story today, the normal family would have to go away, as would the wise father, the submissive mother and the obedient children. The format would also have to be more serialized and multi-pathed.

Here is what I feel the plot would become:

Mike Brady- Dad is a stressed out Vietnam veteran, who occasionally suffers flashbacks. His career as a truck driver leaves him isolated and out of touch with his family. He is addicted to internet porn, and is secretly concealing his use of truck stop prostitutes. When he is home, he is hopelessly inept at solving problems. As Season one ends he finds out he has herpes.

Carol Brady- Mom is a breast cancer survivor, who left her first husband after years of physical abuse, and is chronically depressed and addicted to valium. Only the intervention of Alice gets her to counseling and rehab. By the end of season one, she is transformed to a confident woman who is planning to resurrect her college dreams of being a doctor. The season ends with her taking back her maiden name (Carol Tyler Brady) and registering at college.

Alice- Alice the housekeeper is now a lesbian, who has a steady lover named Samantha. The season ends with them launching a lawsuit to marry.

Greg- Greg is intelligent, good looking and successful, but secretly Greg is confused about his sexual identity, and finally comes out of the closet. The end of Season one has him revealing his identity to his football coach, a conservative Christian. The coach suspends him forcing Greg to contact the ACLU to file a discrimination suit.

Marcia- Marcia is a debutante; shallow and superficial, stuck up and self absorbed. She dates only rich boys, but makes a mistake in judgment and goes to party where she is date raped. The attacker is not prosecuted, being the son of a local politician. Discovering she is pregnant, the season ends with her driving to an abortion clinic with Alice.

Peter- Peter is the social rebel, goth, dark clothing, multiple face piercings and a tattoo of Ozzy Osborne. He fronts a garage band called Death by Cuisenart. He has dropped out of school, and run away 4 times. Discovering his crack addiction, Mike and Carol are planning on sending him to Brat Camp.

Jan- Jan is still jealous of Marcia but now it translates to an obsession with her looks and anorexia. Her dramatic weight loss is a cause for concern, but the family is in denial over the seriousness of her condition. The season ends with her overdosing on Cortislim.

Bobby- The youngest Brady boy is ADHD, and suffers behavioral problems. He is constantly attacked by the bullies at school. At season end, the school psychologist is calling the police, telling them of notes found that indicate Bobby is contemplating a Columbine attack.

Cindy- Cindy is a liberal activist. A total vegan, she refuses to dine with the family, citing her refusal to participate in murder at the dinner table. She is arrested in season one for bombing a meat packing plant, killing two guards and a janitor. The jury returns its verdict at the close of Season 1, for the cliffhanger.

Oh, and they would have to be multiracial.

Is this over the top? Sure I suppose so, but then again I look at how shows are written now, how families are presented and what kind of characters are there, and some of what I made up would likely need to be presented. The traditional family roles would be reversed, the children would have to be dysfunctional.

The Brady's represent more then a link to an era gone by, they are also a link to a television culture slowly slipping away: The culture of family.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Portable porn?

My sister has a portable DVD player, a small 7 inch screen DVD player. Really pretty nice, she loaned it to me when I was down there visiting her and my mom.

These things used to cost about 300-500 bucks but now at Costco, about $130 bucks will send one home.

Portable video is the rage. They have in dash car stereos with a slide out DVD screen, or those roof mounted ones you see in the big SUVs.

Every where you look someone is watching something in the strangest places. Camera phones stream video now, most laptops come standard with a player, and even video games like the Xbox and the PS2 play the movies.

And of course where you have movies, you have porn. In fact it wasn't long ago a guy was driving his Mercedes down the street with not one but three DVD screens all playing porn. Pretty flipping clever, huh? He wasn't quite smart enough to watch where he was going though, and drove too close to the police station, and got 3 misdemeanor charges for his efforts.

And it's no shock, these things play normal movies, and the porn folks know where the market is. But something I read kinda makes me wonder who the market really is.....

The latest and greatest new toy in the video game world is the Sony PSP, a small portable game unit, with incredibly sharp graphics. It is also DVD capable, with special disk. I was skeptical about it when I found out it needed a small disk, thinking "well here comes another special format". I needn't have worried, Sony used the UMD or universal media disc format, making it fairly easy for movies to be ported to it. So I was glad to see several new movies advertised on TV tonight showing the PSP format availability.

But, where there is innovation, there is abuse. Can you guess what's next?

Yep, PSP porn. The UMD format has made it easy for the porn distributors to size their disks down for the PSP. I read it tonight at Top Tech News and I cant say it surprised me. Take a look:

Pornography producers will soon release sexually explicit discs for Sony's PlayStation Portable game console, most of whose users are minors.

Two makers of adult movies plan to sell their products for the console as early as July, and several other pornographers are apparently ready to follow, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun reported Friday.

"It is utterly undesirable, but we cannot stop software makers from selling such videos," a public relations official at Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. said.

The hand-held PlayStation uses the universal media disc, or UMD, format, enabling the console to play games or videos recorded on optical discs 2.3 inches in diameter.

The UMD format, developed by the Sony group, can play moving images for about 120 minutes. Much like the DVD, UMD discs can be produced and distributed by any company.

So Sony's decision to make the movie format easy to use makes it easy to abuse. Seems odd to wish they had made it some propriatary format.

One really has to wonder if the porn moguls really expect that driving of a market. The article states the primary user is children, so is this an attempt to leave the door open to those adolescent boys (be honest, the porn industry caters mainly to males) in a wink-nudge kind of way, all the while assuring us that "no we only expect those adults who own them to buy the porn movies.." or do they figure that enough adults own these things to make it worth the effort? Maybe the college crowd, who knows.

I don't have an answer really, and frankly its just another in a long list of easy access points to adult material that exist. I mean honestly, have we forgotten the internet for crying out loud? What adolescent male hasn't done a little clandestine search for the forbidden warez. Sure, there are good kids out there, but curiosity and hormones are a tough combination. And frankly they don't have to look. There are enough sites popping up where you don't want them in Spam emails and spyware.

And I guess that's just the world we live in. We live in the greatest technological age in history, and of course the porn industry is going to stay state of the art.

It almost makes one nostalgic to the good old days, when you had to hide your dirty magazines under the mattress...er...at least my friends did, certainly not me. Honest mom, not me.......

Monday, June 13, 2005

Recent Court Rulings part 2

So much for the Michael Jackson free zone.....Ok, so the news is out, he was found not guilty on all charges.

Big shock there huh? Honestly, did anyone expect him to be found guilty of anything more threatening then bad hair? I certainly didn't. While I personally think he is a serial pedophile, the jury has spoken, and in time his faithful fans will forget about this. In fact, I think it if anything, it will increase his popularity with his most devout faithful, for he is now the oppressed martyr, triumphant in his vindication.

Which brings me to a couple thoughts.

First, why are his fans so desperate to defend him and deny the claims? Come on, they found many boxes of graphic pornography in his house, including all male pornography. Claims that he is the misunderstood child are thin next to the mounting evidence of sweet Michael actually being a 46 year old pervert. And let's face it, if he had been a skinny white guy with bad hair from Jersey who had a porno stash and was sleeping with boys it would have been a done deal.

But he evokes a odd feeling of protection and defense from his devout fans, and I think I know why. As I see it there are two reasons:

First he portrays the sensitive child, which evokes those protective feelings. He isn't ready for the world, he lives apart in his eternal child fantasy, and we need to allow him his created reality, because he had his real childhood stripped away.

Poop I say. He is, or was a shrewd businessman, calculating and bold in his moves. His launching solo was done brilliantly, and ever after he has acted less like a child and more like a mogul. Don't get me wrong, he has a facade that is brilliant, but honestly it's as phony as his back pain.

The other reason they so rabidly and hysterically defend the man, is that if he becomes false, if he isn't what he seems and that which they built their lives on is a lie, he then crushes their hopes and proves them to be false worshipers. They literally worship the temple of Jacko, and defend him against those who blaspheme their chosen one. But were he to be shown a gross dirty pervert, their faith would be shattered. They would be shown the fools they are.

No one wants their illusions shattered.

Finally, I had one other thought.

They prosecuted the wrong person. Or rather, they should have prosecuted more people.

Namely, all those parents

First of all, what's with those parents anyway? All things aside, what moronic parent lets their child, sick or healthy, go to a grown man's ranch and spend days there, particularly knowing that their children would be sleeping in his bed with him, also knowing that this man was accused of child molestation 10 years ago? What the hell were they thinking? What makes them think that a pop star is less likely to abuse them then the guy who works at the supermarket, or the cab driver or any other 46 year old single male? Come on people, think! The parents of all those children need to be Sith Slapped. Hard. Repeatedly. All the while having someone yell at them saying "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!....."

And the mother of this latest accuser, who shows all the marks of a talented grifter, she should stand in line with them...in fact, she needs to go to the end of the line and be given a second dose, just in case.

They make me sick. They milked him for the attention, and the bragging rights of their new association with *Michael Jackson*, the King of Pop, and as far as I am concerned they whored their children to do it. Congratulations. I hope your kids survive it. Maybe you can sell the expensive gifts for some therapy

I can hope he learns his lesson, that he closes the gates of "Never Prove It" Ranch to outsiders, and lives his life quietly, ending the freak show now. I fervently do hope this, but I personally think he won't, because:

a) he doesn't think he's doing anything wrong, its "natural and beautiful"

And...

b) because his fans will go out of the way to send their kids there, to prove to him and to the world that their idol, their hero, their twisted holy man is still as pure and sweet as they need him to be, to show their trust and faith in the Idol they built.

So acquitted and still adored, Jacko will once again have them lining up, his fresh victims served up on a platter with a side order of Jesus Juice...

Monday, June 06, 2005

Recent Court Rulings

Two recent Court rulings have me concerned, neither having to do with Michael Jackson, thank God.

The first was the election contest for the Governors race here in Washington. For background (my blogs anyway) look here, here and here. In short, the Governors race was won after 2 recounts by a mere 129 votes, leading to an election contest suit.

Today the judge ruled against the challenger, Dino Rossi. All that's fine and dandy, and you would think it would solve things. The problem is that the Court made some strange findings. First it made a finding of fact that more the 1600 illegal votes had indeed been cast by felons, dead people, double voters and provisional ballots. 1600+ versus 129 seems like a no brainer, but there is a little hitch, a lovely legal logic trap. According to the election contest statute, you have to prove that each vote went to a particular candidate or not to prove that removing those votes would have changed the election outcome. But since the Washington State Constitution requires that votes be anonymous, how can you prove who voted what? And since voting illegally is a felony, who is going to admit to it?

So the judge ruled that those 1600 votes were invalid, but without substantive evidence of who voted which way, he couldn't toss the election. He merely allowed the discrepancy to stand.

Now, first, under the statute, he made the right decision, because the burden that the statute imposes is nearly impossible to meet. You would have to confront 1600 people, assuming you could identify them, and expect them to not only admit to a felonious act, but also tell the truth about who the voted for. The only other method available was called statistical proportional deduction (if a precinct was 60-40 for one candidate, then the votes removed from that precinct are deducted at the same ratio) which is scientifically unproven, and the court refused to use it.

All it really did was show how messed up King County is. They *found* new ballots 9 times, and in every case, the new ballots favored one candidate. They admitted to false reporting, had thousands of ballots more then voters, had no method to verify the legality of a voter, allowed provisional ballots to be counted unverified, mishandled absentee ballots and more.

I would have hoped that the legislature would deal with election reform, but it passed a milquetoast reform bill that makes fraud easier. The demon of this election was a corrupt system, and no manner to redress it. So far, no one has lost their jobs or been reprimanded, aside from a few caustic comments by the Judge.

The second case involved the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling that the Federal Government can prosecute a person who is using marijuana under a doctors supervision, regardless of whether that usage is allowable under medicinal marijuana laws, as we have here in Washington.

I wont argue the merits of medicinal Marijuana use other then to say that I think the insistence on smoking it ruins the case for its use, when other delivery methods exist. Inhalation of the smoke is an imprecise delivery method, and the smoke itself offers some manner of harm. I also thinking Marinal, the synthetic Marijuana has not been given fair trials by some people. Finally I think medicinal applications of THC in general needs to be looked at more deeply, and all possible applications of be explored. If Hemp has that much value, we need to explore it.

That said, I am concerned about the ruling for a completely different reason. States Rights. While I will never be a full throttle Libertarian, I am growing increasingly more disgusted with our Federal Nanny-State Government. The Federal Government should not impose on a State's right to legislate its laws, unless there is overwhelming need. Since medicinal marijuana is essentially a victimless crime, I say let each state mandate it according to the will of its electorate.

The ruling further degenerates a State's rights to self governance. I worry we are heading towards a point where the Federal Government crosses the line into Tyranny. The Federal Government dominates the States with a blackmail system (deprivation of highway funds) to force speed limits, drinking ages, seatbelt and helmet use and more. Exactly what is next?

In both cases, laws were passed to protect the rights of people. In one case, the law was poorly written, is practically unenforcable, and is generally ineffective for its core purpose and thus the will of the people cannot be carried out. In the other the Federal Government insists on ignoring it, citing its preeminent right to be the final judge of what is a crime or not, and likewise, the will of the people is ignored. In both cases, the really power in this country, the will of the people, is sacrificed for the rights of the government itself.

The older I get, the more I distrust the Government.

I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
~James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788