Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My favorite written works

I have been looking for books to read, so to see what I liked, I went back and found my favorite books/plays/short stories. Enjoy!

#1. Hamlet
by William Shakespeare




#2. This Must Be the Place
by Gabriella Morrison




#3 Home at the End of the World
by Michael Cunningham




#4 Dreams from My Father
by Barack Obama




#5 The Stranger
by Albert Camus




#6 Dance With Innocence
by Gabriella Morrison




#7 The Hours
by Michael Cunningham




#8 Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury





#9 1984
by George Orwell





#10. Team of Rivals
by Doris Kearns Goodwin


Friday, November 27, 2009

I am lost

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”
- Albert Einstein

On this Black Friday, I am lost.

As a person that tends to take what other people say to heart, I have been beaten, bruised, and destroyed by people who are only out for themselves. They are lashing out from their fantasy world, and in the process, stupid little me tries to understand their place in reality.

And thus, I am wrecked. This is what I get for trying to understand people and the world better.

“A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
- Albert Einstein

To live in this world, you have to understand that at any given time, only about 50% of the people are going to agree with you. The greatness of a man is to continue to fight for what he knows is right in the face of mounting opposition. A leader fights for what is right and makes it popular; he does not take what is popular and pretend that it is right.

"Let us have Faith that right makes might, and in that Faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thinking for myself, for that I am thankful.

"And I will place within them as a guide
My umpire conscience, whom if they will hear,
Light after light well-used they shall attain,
And to the end persisting, safe arrive."

John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III. Lines 194-197

While Thanksgiving has never been a religious holiday, some are using it to push "following God's law" and not "economic experimentation with socialism" this year. Crazy, I know. Can't we just be thankful we are still here? Like, a year ago, that wasn't a done deal. A year ago things were looking really bad. With headlines like "Is the U.S. Headed Towards the Second Great Depression?" it is easy to see we really have had a good year and have much to be grateful for.

Personally, with all the talk of following God's laws, I am brought back to that quote from Milton. "And I will place within them as a guide/My umpire conscience..." To me it says almost everything. God gave us the ability to think for our self, and gave us a voice inside our head to do the right thing. And that voice is the spirit of God, whatever you want to call him.

So, telling me I have to follow a set of rules men wrote down in a book thousands of years ago even when the "umpire conscience" in my head thinks they are wrong is crazy. I don't like having other people do my thinking for me.

I may not be religious, but I do believe God gave me the ability to think for myself, as well as pointing me in the right direction. So please, don't tell me your beliefs are more right than mine, because in America we have the freedom to believe whatever we choose to believe.

And that is what Thanksgiving is about. Being free to make our own decisions. And for that I am thankful.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Open your mouth & speak!

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one's thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It's funny how little things can really help you think. I just turned off our desktop PC because the fan was being WAY too loud. Once it was off, I could actually hear myself thing again. It was like taking a torn out of your foot.

I have been up all night and I just can't seem to find my voice. I want to write something but I can't get my thoughts from my head into words. The first problem is I don't have anything to really talk about, so I just end up going on and on about nothing.

I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I actually did get some things done this week. I got my car payment situation fixed for now. It was gonna be hard to keep paying a huge monthly car payment without a job, but I got it worked out. I also applied to several jobs so that I can at least stay qualified for unemployment if I can win my claim next week. All I have to do prove is that I'm not responsible for getting myself fired. I actually have a good case.

But I could have done a lot more. I'm not sure what, but for one I could have done a lot more writing. I've thought about working on some short stories I have going, but that is leading nowhere fast.

One thing I have done in lieu of actual action is watch a lot of news. I have been really bogged down with the news of the last few weeks. I mean, from Ft. Hood to health care, and from 10%+ unemployment to off-year elections we have all been lucky to move day-to-day without going crazy. Now throw in losing your job, having your 26th birthday and taking your mother in for eye surgery. I have not been focused on the bigger picture. I've been worried about applying to enough jobs to quality for my unemployment while trying to figure out how I'm going to help my mom out now that I'm costing her money instead of making money.

That doesn't mean, however, I haven't been thinking about the big picture, but I feel like I've been so deep in the trenches of politics I haven't been fighting the battles that really need to fought. I have done what most liberals do: I have given into the conservative attack of the moment. Be it health care, Fox News, or the economic stimulus, I have let them define the debate. And doing that, we lose.

While we might be able to save this debate and win, I think the best we can do now is push to the end and pass health care. Then maybe we can get our footing and do everything else we need to do.

Until then, I'm going to read some more. Maybe then I will get my voice back. And have something to say.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 5 speechs by President Barack Obama

#1. 2004 DNC Keynote speech



#2. Only A Union



#3. Character of Our Country



#4. President Obama's Inaugural Address



#5. President Obama Memorializes Walter Cronkite



---

Now obvisouly this is just my opinion. I would love to get your input.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

part of a story I'm writing

“The man who has seen the rising moon break out of the clouds at midnight has been present like an archangel at the creation of light and of the world.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m not sure why I have always been a night owl. Staying up passed three every morning, just because I could.

Maybe I just loved the feeling of being so alive when every one else was asleep. Maybe I just wanted to do whatever I wanted to do, no matter how early I needed to be up.

Plus, this book I am reading has been a real page-turner. It is a political biography. “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I know most people wouldn’t find it as engrossing as I do, but I have a great respect for the written word, and Goodwin knows how to tell a story. It doesn’t matter that it took place more than a hundred years ago, it is just as alive and interesting, if not more, as the current headlines. Who cares about Jon and Kate when you can read about how Lincoln put together what is possibly the boldest cabinet in Presidential history, at least to that point.

Even my friends make fun of my love of history.

“You’d rather live in the past than live today,” Van told me once. He’s probably right, but it wasn’t always that way.

There was a time I looked forward to every new day. Every day was a new adventure always waiting for me; every day there was always something new to learn.

Not anymore. Now every morning I wake up, I fight with myself to even open my eyes. Because on the other side of my eyelids is just the same bullshit corporatist world.

And if I don’t open my eyes then I’m not really awake, and if I’m not really awake, I don’t have to deal with all the shit in my life. I don’t have to deal with my alarm, which is going off. I don’t have to deal with Eve, Adam, or any of the dozen paintings I haven’t finished. And I don’t have to think about work.

But everyday, without fail, I open my eyes. It’s just another day. I hope everyone has this feeling. Because if they don’t, and I’m the only one, that makes me really weird.

Mark Cameron. That’s my name. It’s what people call me; but I don’t know if the name fits the soul. I’ve always thought I was more of a Ted. I don’t know why, but doesn’t Ted Cameron sound better?

Oh well, blame my mother. I’m stuck with Mark.

Friday, September 18, 2009

On my soap box talking to the vast emptiness of the interwebs


Over the past month or so I have acquired a insatiable need for information, knowledge, wisdom and stories. It could be the result of my disappointment in the American people for not being more involved and knowledgeable about the news and issues of our day.

But I only can say this because I have no life. I spend my free time watching the news, reading news and analysis online, listening to podcasts and audio books while also reading two or three books at any given time. I have such a short attention span I bounce from book to book to book and back again. I just have to make sure to keep the books different enough so I don't get too confused. I may not be able to remember to take the trash out, but I can keep the storylines of several books clear in my head. I'm crazy like that.

Because they say to write better you need to read a lot, I should be a lot better at writing. But I have a major flaw. Well, at least one in regards to writing: I have no attention span. Thus, I do a very poor job of organizing my thoughts as I write them out. It's always been this way.

I remember one weekend back when I was still in high school. Must have been my junior year. I was a staff writer and page editor for the school newspaper, and I had a front-page story about the end of the popular sophomore history and social studies class. I don't remember the name of the program, but I do remember loving the class my sophomore year. I was the only kid in the class to get an A on the very difficult World War II final. I say this not to brag about the grade, but to show how much I worked and listened in that class. That WWII final was one of the few times I actually studied in high school.

But back to the story. I remember sitting in the middle of my father's bed with my laptop writing the story. I don't remember why I was in the bed, but I do remember the pure joy I had putting that article together. I got all the quotes written out, then I wrote all the points I needed to cover, put it together with the appropriate quotes, and then finally took forever putting it in order. I was trying to tell the story but also work in the classic journalist model of the inverted pyramid (the most important thing first, and so on).

Flash forward to my sophomore year in college, working on the college newspaper as the features editor. I was trying to write an editorial, but I couldn't get it to flow. Good thing I had some great help. I just needed to outline my idea and points I wanted to make; then write it. So between those two experiences, I created my process for writing: get everything down, make sure you have a solid outline, and make clear your goal for the piece.

Here I am, a little more than three years removed from college, and I am still working to become a better writer than I was the day before. For me that means focusing more on form and structure. I don't lack for topics to write about, opinions to share, or ideas to try out. Writing for me is a great mediator for life. Always trying to be better, always fighting between skill and passion, time and energy.

So, this blog is more than my little soap box. This is my way of working out the workings of my thinking as well as the world going on around me. With all of the stuff I take in from all of today's sources of information, my brain is filling up. Writing about something here lets me work it out in my head so I can move on to the next idea to think about. So not everything I post here will be good. Odds are that most of it will be crap. I just hope today's crap is better than yesterday's crap.

At the very least, maybe I am one of the various sources that someone gets their information from, then at least I'm making a difference and not just talking to the vast emptiness of the interwebs.

Standing up for gay rights, WWJD?


Last week I was reading the online edition of my college newspaper, The Grand Views, when I came across an opinion piece about the Lutheran Church, the bible, and the gays; so I just had to read it.
"As many of you can see from the hot media topics the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has voted to allow lesbians and gays to hold a pastoral position in the church.

There are many debates on the topic recently and I admit I am befuddled as to how there is any question. I genuinely do not understand how any professed Christian can really believe this is acceptable.

The ELCA clearly states on their website, "As Lutherans, ELCA members believe that the Bible is the written Word of God." Thus, I'm forced into confusion as I try to make sense of this. If they believe the Bible is the Word of God, wouldn't they want to abide by His teaching? The Bible clearly states that acting on homosexuality is wrong."
- "
Lutheran churches contradicting Bible" - The Grand Views, 9/11/09
I read this, and the rest of the article, and was personally taken aback. As a gay man my shock mostly came from my lack of personal contact with people who hold this belief. It's not as if I select my friends based on whether or not they agree with me on any given subject, but my friends and I tend to agree on most gay rights issues. We all gravitate towards those we agree with; it's human nature. So sometimes a strongly-held belief from the other side can throw you off.

But I thought, naïvely it would seem, that personal feelings about gay marriage and homosexuality aside, we could agree with Jesus when he said "Love thy neighbor as thyself." I guess you can love your neighbor but if that neighbor is gay and wants the same rights you have, too bad.

I was proud to see others, most notably Steve Snyder, a Humanities professor at Grand View, stand up and give voice to the other side of the debate. Using history, facts and commenting on how we interpret what the Bible says, he gives a great defense of the beliefs and values I hold. He also called out those against such gay rights saying, "arguments founded on literal interpretations of scripture are often highly susceptible to the charge of hypocrisy."
"Indeed, those using the Bible to condemn homosexuality often overlook behaviors proscribed in other biblical passages. A passage in Leviticus, for example, is often cited as support that the Bible sees homosexuality as an "abomination." By the same token, Leviticus also demands animal sacrifices. It bans crossbreeding of various kinds of cattle and even wearing "a garment made from two kinds of material mixed together," yet I see no uproar over the presence of synthetic fabrics in the Lutheran pews on Sunday morning. If Lutherans are perfectly free to disregard Leviticus 11:1-12 (which would forbid eating portions of the menu at Red Lobster), why aren't they free to adjust their views on homosexuality? To denounce them for not following one passage but not others seems conveniently selective."
- Steve Snyder, Letter To The Editor, 9/18/09
I was also proud to see Molly Hottle (former Editor-In-Chief of the Grand Views '08-'09) take a similar stand. For me it was much more powerful coming from her because of her background and because she speaks for our generation. Those 18-29 are much more supportive of gay rights than any other age group.
"Many of the same arguments from scripture that are being raised, we also heard 30 years ago when the Lutheran churches decided to ordain women," said Jack Mithelman, campus pastor. Even with these historical references, it's happening again. How many repeats of history will it take for people to realize discrimination of any group-no matter race, gender or sexual preference-is wrong? These statements I make are not because I am ignorant of the argument used by those who say the Bible forbids homosexuality. In fact, I know it very well. I am a Christian who grew up in a conservative Christian home and was made to believe that homosexuality is a sin. But I grew up and did something unheard of: formulated my own opinion. And the fact is, times change. If people insist on using the literal meaning of the Bible to condemn the gay community, then those same people should also be expected to not play football since the Old Testament prohibits the touching of the skin of a pig. The accusers should also not be allowed to wear clothing made of two different materials and the women should be forbidden to wear makeup. Today, the enforcement of those rules sounds silly to us, as should the prohibition of homosexuality.
- "Hottle: No matter how they say it, opponents of gay rights spreading discrimination" - The Grand Views, 9/18/09

I didn't say anything about this subject until now for one very specific reason: I'm not a active member of the Lutheran Church, or a member of any religious organization. I didn't feel my input would really add anything to the debate. I also felt that as an Agnostic gay man, my bias would cause more conflict than it would help.

But I can't stay silence, and I definitely shouldn't hold back because of what people might say or think of me.

I agree 110% with Ms. Hottle that those who wish to deny rights, status, and basic equal rights are spreading discrimination. These people are painting the entire GLBT community as less than human, not entitled to the equal protection and equal opportunities of our straight brothers and sisters. By pushing this idea that they are smarter than everyone else, and saying they can't even see why gays should have the right to help others while spreading their love of God and Jesus to everyone they meet as a pastor in the Lutheran Church is only more evidence of their small-minded, selfish and hateful beliefs.

If Jesus had a vote in this matter, what would he do? Simply put, WWJD?


Friday, September 4, 2009

The media has failed us; have we failed America?

"Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed. He who molds opinion is greater than he who enacts laws." - Abraham Lincoln

"Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Public; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence [printers] cheerfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute." - Benjamin Franklin

"None of us would trade freedom of expression for the narrowness of the public censor. America is a free market for people who have something to say, and need not fear to say it." - Hubert H. Humphrey
This country was founded on the idea of freedom of speech and freedom of the press; so much so it is written right there in the First Amendment, in black and white.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
See the part I highlighted in bold? Freedom of speech, or of the press; What a wacky idea. Well, the framers couldn't see a press run not by the people for the people, but by the corporations for the corporations.

As a student of journalism (graduated from Grand View College in 2006, now Grand View University), I have always been an advocate for freedom of the press as well as freedom of speech. It may not be pretty, but it is the only way a representative democracy is going to work. Even Thomas Jefferson understood this. And he hated the media of his day, the newspapers.
"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers." - Thomas Jefferson
But even with that deep-seated hatred and mistrust of the media, he knew that's the way it needed to be. The people needed to be informed. Even after the U.S. Constitution set up the system of representative democracy (really a Constitutional Republic) we have today, which was put in place to let those most informed make the decisions while still answering to the people through elections, people need to be informed on the issues of the day. As much as Jefferson feared newspapers, he feared the idea of government without newspapers more.
"The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter." - Thomas Jefferson
But the newspapers Jefferson was speaking about, unlike the media in today's terms, were run by businessmen and citizens, not global corporations.

I have always distrusted corporate control of the media, but my trip over to the FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) Web site still felt like a punch to the gut. I knew how fucked up the media was and is, but to see evidence, data, and reporting on the subject, well, it's depressing.
"A specter now haunts the world: a global commercial media system dominated by a small number of superpowerful, mostly U.S.-based transnational media corporations. It is a system that works to advance the cause of the global market and promote commercial values, while denigrating journalism and culture not conducive to the immediate bottom line or long-run corporate interests. It is a disaster for anything but the most superficial notion of democracy--a democracy where, to paraphrase John Jay's maxim, those who own the world ought to govern it."
- from The Global Media Giants
FAIR has several Issue Areas, and I think one in particular is having a damning affect on current debates in the media.
"Given that most media outlets are owned by for-profit corporations and are funded by corporate advertising, it is not surprising that they seldom provide a full range of debate. The right edge of discussion is usually represented by a committed supporter of right-wing causes, someone who calls for significantly changing the status quo in a conservative direction. The left edge, by contrast, is often represented by an establishment-oriented centrist who supports maintaining the status quo; very rarely is a critic of corporate power who identifies with progressive causes and movements with the same passion as their conservative counterparts allowed to take part in mass media debates."
from Issue Area: Narrow Range of Debate
The media is shaping debates by leaving out major progressive (but albeit minority) views. Which brings up to the epic media fail going on right now. And I mean, right now! FAIR looked into this back in March.
"Major newspaper, broadcast and cable stories mentioning healthcare reform in the week leading up to President Barack Obama's March 5 healthcare summit rarely mentioned the idea of a single-payer national health insurance program, according to a new FAIR study. And advocates of such a system--two of whom participated in yesterday's summit--were almost entirely shut out, FAIR found.

Single-payer--a model in which healthcare delivery would remain largely private, but would be paid for by a single federal health insurance fund (much like Medicare provides for seniors, and comparable to Canada's current system)--polls well with the public, who preferred it two-to-one over a privatized system in a recent survey (New York Times/CBS, 1/11-15/09). But a media consumer in the week leading up to the summit was more likely to read about single-payer from the hostile perspective of conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer than see an op-ed by a single-payer advocate in a major U.S. newspaper.

Over the past week, hundreds of stories in major newspapers and on NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and PBS's NewsHour With Jim Lehrer mentioned healthcare reform, according to a search of the Nexis database (2/25/09-3/4/09). Yet all but 18 of these stories made no mention of "single-payer" (or synonyms commonly used by its proponents, such as "Medicare for all," or the proposed single-payer bill, H.R. 676), and only five included the views of advocates of single-payer--none of which appeared on television."
- from FAIR Study: Media Blackout on Single-Payer Healthcare
That CBS News/New York Times Poll? 59% in favor.
CBS News/New York Times Poll.
Jan. 11-15, 2009. N=1,112 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"Should the government in Washington provide national health insurance, or is this something that should be left only to private enterprise?"

Government
59%
Private Enterprise
32%
Unsure
9%
So we are being totally robbed of a real debate. Only now are single-payer (Medicare for all) advocates getting a voice in the mainstream media.



And if you think this health care debate is only being fought in Washington, at town hall meetings, and in the mainstream media, I give you something that is going around one of the newest additions to the media list: Facebook.
No one should die because they cannot afford healthcare. No one should go broke because they get sick, and no one should be tied to a job because of pre-existing condition. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.
It seems a real grassroots movement is underway.
"As an amazing (and pretty clearly organic) piece of evidence to counter the "young people don't care about health reform" meme, Facebook is exploding today with viral status updates that read: "No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day."

...

To be clear, I don't think this is an organized campaign by any organization, but just a very clear and powerful indicator that young people do care, are communicating through their own methods and paying attention to this important issue."
- from WireTap Blog
Take a look for yourself. It would seem, while the media is failing us & America, the people might just have what it takes to make there voice heard, with or without the media.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bad Influence (a short story)

Bad Influence © 2007
By David Williams III

Do I care what other people think of me? The answer is no shocker. Yes, of course I care deeply about what other people think of me. But that doesn’t make peer pressure a really big deal for me. I care what people think, but no one is forcing me to do anything I don’t want to do. I know it sounds strange, but that’s me: strange.

So, if I do anything, it is my choice. That’s the scary part.


The scene, Chad’s graduation party; the people included Chad, Lisa (Chad’s girlfriend), Lucy (Lisa’s best friend), Rob (Lucy’s on-again, off-again boyfriend), several of Chad’s roommates as well as several friends of friends of friends.

I should have put two and two together much faster, much earlier. I mean, it wa s right in my face. Once Rob and Lucy left, Chad and Lisa let me in on the secret of the night. And I joined in. I could feel it. Part of me knew I should really be angry with myself for giving in to temptation; but we only live once, right?

Then, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that Chad and Lisa didn’t seem to trust me, because they didn’t tell me until the others left. I should have, well, I don’t know what I should have done.

But I had fun. And got a good look into myself. It let me step out and see myself fro m the outside. I could, from a third-party point of view, understand what I was thinking and then tell myself it was just in my head. From that rational point of view, I didn’t have anything to worry about. But it still stuck in my mind. And it wanted to grow like a cancer. It wanted to take me down the path of hate and distrust. And, no matter what they said, I felt, for whatever reason, they didn’t trust me.

But they did. Because they told me when they felt okay telling me. They turned on the light to a whole other world. They had done it off and on for the last few months. Didn’t tell me. But trust is a two-way street. If I want them to trust me, tell me things, and really think of me as a friend they can t
rust with everything, I have to trust them when they say they had their reasons for not telling me until they did.

It’s not a matter of me not approving of what they were doing. It was really about Rob and Lucy. Chad didn’t want to let on to them anything was happening. I understood that, and I love Chad, so I just took it on his word; a friend’s word.

So, after a couple of lines, other people started showing up. It was crazy to be there (even if I wasn’t really there) with people, and I had no idea who knew what, who was doing what and all that shit.

Overall, it was great. Not that I know if I want to partake again. But I have a baseline. I understand. But I also understand how people get hooked on this. It really did numb me. I guess the whole gateway drug thing was true.

Can I say why it upset me and made me feel guilty afterward? I felt a deep guilt. Not for doing it, but for not feeling bad about doing it. It shocked me to think that I really did not have any problems. A great understanding of whom I was and what I could handle. Life is short. Have fun.

The downfall is I know worry that I am depending on chemicals to support my life. I worry about it simply because society states I should worry.

And after all this mind searching, experimentation, and hanging out, I was only left with one clear thought.

I love Chad.

Well, I guess no story ends well, but Chad has Lisa. And I have at least two great friends. But the basic truth will never change. I love Chad, and I always will.

Was he a bad influence? No. Like I said, it’s all me. It’s my choice, my problem; and I will deal with any shit that comes. Life is short, if you worry too much about planning out a great life, it may be over by the time you look up.

Love, friends, and mind-altering drugs; what more could anyone ask for?

------------

So, I have been reading through some old stories I wrote. I always love my stories years after I right them. So, I thought I would start sharing some.

Hope you all enjoy. The first of many.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Great way to think about torture & Gitmo

So this debate on the direction our national security under President Barack Obama hit a new level of crazy when both the President and former Vice President Dick Cheney gave speeches, and the media hyped the shit out of these "Dueling Speeches" to set up the false equivocation that is Obama v. Cheney.







You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty... we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd prefer you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to.

- Colonel Jessep, 'A Few Good Men'
Maybe we should get Jack Nicholson to play Dick Cheney. But Dick Cheney had five draft deferments and never served in uniform. And Joe, did you forget that at the end of the scene in 'A Few Good Men' Nicholson's character is taken into custody? Because he broke the law.

No matter how much I respect the military and the Intelligence community, they have to follow the law. And even the guys actually on trial in the movie get punished because they followed orders. Because those orders broke the law. And people who were "just following orders" need to be punished, not as harshly as those who ordered it, but punished none-the-less.

And look, a trial; the rule of law could handle this situation. America is based on laws, the Constitution, and the right to a fair and speedy trial. Tell me where Gitmo and waterboarding (I mean, TORTURE) fits into that?

And just take this part:
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I'd rather you'd just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post.
The idea that people who don't serve can't question now we run our military or our national security policy is just crazy. Even more so because the Commander-In-Chief of the United States Armed Forces (aka, the President) has, more often than not, not worn a uniform in their lives. Like the last three Presidents who never really served.

But in the end, it's not like Obama is actually changing all that much. As David Brooks points out, while Cheney is still fighting for his ideas, he really lost the battle after the 2004 election. On national security, the 1st Obama term will look a lot like the 2nd Bush term.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rachel Maddow calls out the crazy of Senate... Democrats...


Rachel Maddow calls out the seeming about-face on whether or not to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Everyone was for it during the election, now the funding to actually close Gitmo went down 90 to 6. Thank you Senators Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Whitehouse (D-RI) for being the 6 standing your ground against the 90. So, are we scared about having guys from Gitmo popping up and serving us Big Mac's in the drivethru? Because American's know how to lock poeple up. We do it well. But yes, I understand that we want to know where they are going before we send them there. But the fear mongering doesn't help that. Allowing money to be spent closing and relocating does help, you know, close Gitmo. Which I thought we all were on board for. Well, Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wasn't on board, but he's crazy!











Rush wants MSNBC to stop talking about him

Rush Limbaugh wants MSNBC to stop talking about him, because he thinks they are using him for ratings. Wouldn't that mean people were watching to see Rush called-out for his craziness? I mean, yeah, everything TV news puts on air is for ratings, but I know if I had a radio show were I get to speak my mind, I would LOVE it have it talked about on MSNBC, FOX News or even Univision! Personally, I find Rush relaxing because I don't have to think when he's talking. :-)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is Bullshit!



By Lt. Daniel Choi

Open Letter to President Obama and Every Member of Congress:

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.

I am committed to applying the leadership lessons I learned at West Point. With 60 other LGBT West Point graduates, I helped form our organization, Knights Out, to fight for the repeal of this discriminatory law and educate cadets and soldiers after the repeal occurs. When I receive emails from deployed soldiers and veterans who feel isolated, alone, and even suicidal because the torment of rejection and discrimination, I remember my leadership training: soldiers cannot feel alone, especially in combat. Leaders must reach out. They can never diminish the fighting spirit of a soldier by tolerating discrimination and isolation. Leaders respect the honor of service. Respecting each soldier’s service is my personal promise.

The Department of the Army sent a letter discharging me on April 23rd. I will not lie to you; the letter is a slap in the face. It is a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

My subordinates know I’m gay. They don’t care. They are professional.

Further, they are respectable infantrymen who work as a team. Many told me that they respect me even more because I trusted them enough to let them know the truth. Trust is the foundation of unit cohesion.

After I publicly announced that I am gay, I reported for training and led rifle marksmanship. I ordered hundreds of soldiers to fire live rounds and qualify on their weapons. I qualified on my own weapon. I showered after training and slept in an open bay with 40 other infantrymen. I cannot understand the claim that I “negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard.” I refuse to accept this statement as true.

As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging. But I beg you today: Do not fire me. Do not fire me because my soldiers are more than a unit or a fighting force – we are a family and we support each other. We should not learn that honesty and courage leads to punishment and insult. Their professionalism should not be rewarded with losing their leader. I understand if you must fire me, but please do not discredit and insult my soldiers for their professionalism.

When I was commissioned I was told that I serve at the pleasure of the President. I hope I have not displeased anyone by my honesty. I love my job. I want to deploy and continue to serve with the unit I respect and admire. I want to continue to serve our country because of everything it stands for.

Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.

Very Respectfully,

Daniel W. Choi
1LT, IN
New York Army National Guard



Ron Reagan also talked about this on his radio show.

Rachel Maddow & Larry Wilkerson



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Astroturfing

*

Astroturfing: "a word in English describing formal political, advertising, or public relations campaigns seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous "grassroots" behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf."

Welcome to the YouTube generation's own astroturfing nut jobs. They make you think there are millions of people taking their time to post crazy shit on YouTube out of anger and frustration at the government and more directly, Barack Obama and his supporters (aka, Americans!).

This is the same idea that fueled the Tea Parties. And watch below:



And yes, that YouTube video has some of the same angry, offensive comments. Angry Americans or Astroturf? My vote, at least for NHMntnHIGH, goes for Astroturf.

* I included the video, because I like watching my President. even if the astroturfers on YouTube don't. But they are watching him... on YouTube... my head hurts...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Is Stephen Colbert just saying what YOU want to hear?



From this study.

So, I lied. But this is only a short blog.

Among other things, this is why I love my President.



And after watching that it reminded me of this. Mostly because the President interrupts the press secretary.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

One fucking bad day

Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama Job Approval



I've edited the Pollster model to only include live interview polls. I have major issues with Internet polls and the IVR-automated polls, so I didn't include them. Look for yourself, the IVR (mostly Rasmussen Reports) are off from the main trend line by 10-15 points.

DavidsMentalJujitsu VLOG 4-24-09

Sorry about the music, next time it won't be so loud.



My Links
Iowa Gay Marriage
More info from Des Moines Register on gay marriage
Reconciliation
Health Care Poll numbers
100 down, 900 to day (about first 100 days)
Navarrette: Torture memos aren't criminal
update on thwarted l.a. attack
Robinson: Where 'Those Methods' Lead





Thursday, April 23, 2009

Post from the heart

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

VLOG 4-22-09

Sorry about the video quality, I just didn't feel like setting everything up right.

Just a short video of me being me. That is weird, crazy and random.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm done, Its over

I wanted to write a blog post, but I couldn't. So I just turned the camera on and ranted and got most of it out of my system. Yeah. It's me, socially unedited.



And to make me laugh, I share with you Rachel Maddow, Anna Marie Cox & right-wing teabagging.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gay Marriage

So, I want to talk about gay marriage, but I am at a loss for words.

I will share this with you, and then try and gather my thoughts. No doubt I am bias in my opinion on same-sex marriage, but I can't get over the facts. The facts of history.



But then today. I chose to make a stand on Facebook. Afterwards, I chose not to engage them. It is not my job to teach every person that we are just like them. But I wanted to post it because it has been a while since I've had Leviticus thrown in my face.

And honestly, I have no problem not blacking out the names. And I don't have photoshop, so I couldn't if I wanted to.

(EDIT: 4:15 p.m. April 8, 2009 | picture edited to remove person's name and picture at request of said person)

First, my main problem is making anybody's religious beliefs into state and federal law. Second, I love being told you are not judging me, but then tell me it is a sin just like murder. And really, the final icing on the cake was having Leviticus thrown in my face.

Can we start with keeping me from being married because of religious reasons. So whether or not being gay is a sin, that means nothing when it comes to legal rights.

Second, you want to put rights of a minority group up to popular vote? How about we vote on whether Christians have the freedom of speech, or vote to keep children of non-Anglo heritage out of the public school system?

And you want to talk about Leviticus, lets talk about eating shrimp, working on the Sabbath, touching the skin of a dead pig, and selling your child into slavery. Cus I would like to see why we can pick and choose things to ignore. And how did gay get on that list?

I almost didn't even write this. I mean, I am really fucking pissed right now, but I know it is not going to get me anywhere. But I needed to talk about it. I needed to share this.

We can't forgot this war is far from over. We must be willing to fight until our last moments, because they will be.

Finally, I want to share a bit of West Wing. Take it away Mr. President...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Video primer for the hear & now

And along with seeing where we are now, I totally agree with the President that we need to also take the long view; the big picture. We need to know where we are going, not only where we are now. And maybe even where we were. Say, in 2000.



The defining moment in President Obama's prime-time news conference Tuesday night came about midway through. Nearly all the questions up to then had dealt with the ragged economy and the administration's plans to turn it around. So when a reporter asked Obama -- who, as you may have heard, is the nation's first black president -- to talk about how race has affected the first couple months of his time in office, it wasn't entirely clear how he would answer.

Unless, that is, you had been paying attention to the way Obama had focused his answers up to that point. Over and over again, he had been trying to drive home the message that he and his aides understand what the country is going through. So when ABC News' Ann Compton asked, "Has the last 64 days been a relatively color-blind time?" his answer fit right into the flow of the night. "I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we're going to fix the economy, and that affects black, brown and white," Obama replied.

- By Mike Madden, Salon.com




And I can tell you that having a President in office I nearly totally agree with has made me a better person too? See, now I'm listening to all the people attack President Obama (which is their 1st amendment right), and I because I tend to take everything personally, I have had to grow a thicker skin. I mean, people attacking Obama over the fact that making charitable donations a little less tax deductible will make people less likely to give. Really!!!

People will stop giving to great charitable organizations because they won't get to write as much off on their taxes? Talk about giving with your heart. Or not.





So yeah. People can be mean. I'll leave you with one last video, from December 2000. I love you Jon Stewart.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Words of Advice
comedycentral.com
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