Sunday, February 1, 2009

What this blog is.. and what it isn't...

I’m probably going to annoy all of you some of the time. Why? Because I’m not really a left or right winger. I have often taken issue with the left and have gotten my head handed to me for my trouble. But, being an idealist crossed with a masochist, I’ve never let that deter me.

So, if you are coming here to always have your own political ideas echoed back to you, you may be disappointed.

Some examples that may or may not cause cognitive dissonance for you:

1) I do not understand why tax cuts were evil under Bush, but acceptable under Obama. Does trickle-down-economics suddenly work under Obama? And if so, can he possibly part the Red Sea while he’s at it?
2) I am not philosophically opposed to capital punishment. I am opposed to it because innocent people (especially poor people and (god I hate this PC expression) ‘people of color’) are the ones who usually get executed, and, often, framed.. And I’m opposed to it because it costs more money to kill someone than to incarcerate them for life. However, I support the idea of capital punishment for two reasons:
a. When there is a rabid dog in the street, or a grizzly bear clawing someone to bits, unless you’re a member of PETA, you’re going to want to stop that animal, which usually means killing it. The ten-time sex offender who has just tortured, raped, and killed a little boy or girl is just such a creature. He is not ‘curable’, he is amoral, violent, and a clear and present danger. If I was presented with irrefutable proof of someone’s guilt in such a case, I’d shoot them myself. I wouldn’t enjoy it. Indeed, I might have nightmares about it for the rest of my life, but I would do it.
b. Who do we ask to guard people who are violent, amoral, and, because they’re in jail for life without parole, have nothing to lose? Do I have the right to imperil someone else just to quarantine a human virus, rather than eradicate it?
3) I own guns (and a hunting bow). I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. However, I do not support the odious company line of the NRA and other zealots who think we should be able to own just about any weapon, including high-capacity semi-automatic weapons. I do not need a 30 shot banana clip to go hunting, only to give vent to juvenile Rambo fantasies. Moreover, I think that anyone who buys a gun should have to do the following:
a. Register each gun, like an automobile.
b. Pay ‘gun owner’s insurance’ for liability
c. Take a mandatory gun proficiency course once every ten years.
4) I think it’s inexcusable that Obama dignified Pastor Rick Warren by giving him the signal honor of performing the inaugural invocation. Rick Warren has been videotaped comparing gay people to pedophiles (particularly ironic since the vast preponderance of pedophiles are heterosexual), people who practice incest, bestiality, and polygamy. Had Mr. Warren compared any other group I can think of: women, black people, Jews, Muslims, short people, fat people, old people… his words would have been villified in the press and he would have been rightfully shunned. But Mr. Obama (and the King Center as well, much to their dishonor of Dr. King’s memory) seems to at least implicitly accept that gay people are the one group acceptable as targets for hate speech. This frankly enrages me.

So, hopefully, you’re up for a lively debate, and a civil one. I love a good argument, and am more than willing not only to have you comment, but perhaps to be a guest blogger or a guest on my radio show someday. However, I WILL NOT tolerate personal attacks. Occasionally, I fall into ad hominem attacks too. For example, I think that it’s rather accurate to call Sean Hannity a ‘buffoon’. But, truth is, accurate though it may be, I will try to restrain myself, and ask that you try to do so as well.

If your idea of an argument is merely spewing personal invective, random cursing etc., please spare all of us your vitriol. I have sadly learned from experiences on sites like DailyKos, that this kind of nastiness is not confined to the right wing. There are mindless thugs on all sides of the political spectrum, and one reason I’ve started this blog and podcast is because I find the knee-jerk attack of anyone who even slightly disagrees with some predetermined party line (‘Obama is always right’, ‘Obama is Satan’ etc.) to be very disheartening.

I have a very old friend who is quite conservative. But he’s not an ideologue. We argue, albeit in a very civilized manner, and sometimes we even change each other’s minds. Neither of us is wedded to ideological purity, or fealty to any one ‘brand’. Oddly enough, we both support the constitution and believe in some form of capitalism and ownership of personal property, perhaps even a meritocracy. Neither of us is remotely politically correct, and we aim to keep it that way.

It’s people like my old buddy that I’m looking for. From the left, right, center, who love this country, and fear for its future, and sincerely want to make it better.


  1. Does it really cost more money to kill someone than it does to incarcerate them for life? I recall statistics that it costs the government around $40,000 a year to hold a prisoner. It's understandable that lifetime in jail could be a bit shorter, but if a prisoner lives in jail for another ten years after the date they were supposed to be executed the government would be spending about $400,000 on them. Does it really cost that much to kill a prisoner?

    "If I were presented with irrefutable proof of someone's guilt in such a case, I'd shoot them myself." This brings up two points to me... One, that--with exception to the people who are framed by the government or authorities in general--prisoners who are sentenced to death, although not always true, must have irrefutable evidence against them when the decision is made by the judge and jury. If they do not have completely secure evidence against the prisoner then the topic of death penalty should not be considered. At what point do you deny appeal to such an individual?
    Two, maybe--just maybe!--we tend to over crowd the prisons of the United States. This may be going back to the 'cost' point as well, but do you think that tax evasion or other non-violent crimes deserve prison time? Why not use the money that would be used to hold them in prison and money from fines towards programs for these people... or even the companies and individuals effected by them (identity theft individuals). I may be missing a lot of information, but I hope you can point that out for me as this is as much of a learning statement as it is a questioning.

    I like your point on if we have the right to quarantine someone with a human virus or imperil someone... If that individual risks spreading and exposing a disease to thousands if not millions of people, is it our responsibility to prevent that by quarantine or killing them; or do they have the right to live freely? I personally believe the 'greater good' principle applies in this case.

    On the gun point, how do you feel about Kirsten Gillibrand's stand on gun control? She now says she's open to change in her ideals on the topic and that rules should be different when applied to inner-city conditions. How do you feel about Carolyn McCarthy's strict stance on gun control? How do you think she stands up against Gillibrand?

    I look forward to more politically unrestricted points. Hmm... isn't it almost logical not to confine oneself to a specific political party and think unconfined by political agenda? -- call me crazy!

    I had considered e-mailing this to you... but that would defeat the purpose of a discussion section. I hope the invitation is further extended for all to comment!

  2. I agree with all you say on capital punishment. My point is that I am not against the *concept* of it, but cannot support it because the execution (pun intended) of it leads to innocents being murdured. There is no 'irrefutable' evidcence, short of a videotaping of the murder and a confession of same, but if, somehow, there were, I would not be philosophically against that person being removed forthwith from the planet.

    I think Gillibrand is the wrong person for NY, and a DINO (Democrat In Name Only). As I've said, I do support gun ownership, and also, a type of regulation (licensing etc.). As for the inner city. It's a sticky question. I grew up in Brooklyn, and saw what unrestricted guns can do. I do not believe in taking away all guns, but I do not beleive in letting anyone have whatever they want. I want something in-between. In the inner city, where there is no hunting, for example... hmm.

    A lot of the NRA folks say that guns are more important as a means of ensuring freedom than for sportsmen. I don't buy it. There is no way a popular inssurection against an authoritarian government could ever be ensured by private citizen's gun ownership unless we let everyone own helicopter gunships and stinger missiles. Our military is too big and powerful to ever confront in that manner, so I think that's a specious argument.

    But there is also the issue of home protection as well as sportsmanship, yes. So, home protection in the inner city? I dunno. Maybe so. Maybe everyone should have a shotgun near their bed if they want one. I am happy to say I don't have an answer on this.

    But that said, I am more concerned that Gillibrand is anti-choice and anti gay marriage. She has voted almost straight-line Republican on most issues, especially the hot-button social ones, and since I have socially-libertarian leanings (you and five consenting adults wanna get married? Knock yourself out and go for it!), it is these votes that concern me most. I want government out of my bedroom, my marriage, my reproductive rights (with some limitations - no 3rd trimester abortions, for example), what I read, who I talk to etc.

    I think I have the best congressman in the US: Maurice Hinchey; A man who works hard for his district and also for his country, and has done it for a long time. I wish Patterson had picked him instead. I think the Gillibrand pick was a cynical move to help him shore up his chances in his election for governer. it did not serve the people of NY state, and has, in my mind, tarnished him quite a bit.

  3. What about an "Upstate Locker" of sorts for guns. A virtual shield around the city for personal gun ownership. The habitants of the city can own guns but cannot bring them into the city. Regulated maybe by a tracking system that is installed on guns; we can do it on anything else.
    As a child of an urban environment of the (not-so-far-back) past you experienced conflicts that were dealt with by words or fists. While there is no way to prevent conflict hopefully we can just bring it back to the time when another's life still held some value, regardless of the conflict... However, that may create an issue for the death penalty argument. An eye-for-an-eye?

    It seems to be the creationist idea, transmitting into abortion, that they can define when life begins. What defines it for you? I agree wholeheartedly with your boundaries for the government-which extends into my idea of bad news, celebrity lives and public figures lives. There shouldn't be reporting on these aspects of their lives. I do think that people in the government and similar figures should be 'watched' in a sense and if ethical or legal issues arise they should be brought up, but not every little event.

    I agree that Patterson had his own future election in mind. It's amazing that at a university the vast majority of people cannot tell you who Kirsten Gillibrand is. In Europe it would have been a huge issue that included talks, protests from critical consumers and a general attention to the subject...