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If this is the best that the right wing has to offer, I am not impressed.

March 14, 2007, 6:35 PM

I seem to have been made the poster child of the anti-war movement on the blog of conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. And if what I’ve seen is the best that the right wing has to offer, I am not impressed.

And now we understand why the Republicans lost in November if this is how these people handle themselves. Here are a few gems for you…

From “jim”: When Islam over runs this country it will be because of wussy boys like you.

From “Kelly Aasen”: Go to the gym, read some real books (not the liberal trash you appear to be reading) and get the [expletive deleted] out of your parents house and on your own.

From “A Vet”: Kindly don’t come looking to desecrate the VN memorial. We had experience dealing with people in black previously and we won’t take kindly to any attempts to leave any paint/marks on it. Otherwise have a nice day Sunday. PS: kindly don’t date my daughter.

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First time to DC in nearly three weeks…

January 23, 2007, 4:32 AM

Today is a DC day, and I’m ready to go, as it’s been nearly three weeks since January 4 when I last went. This trip was supposed to happen a week ago, but it got rescheduled for political reasons. You see, today is the day Bush gives the State of the Union address, and so I’m going to be at a counter-rally at the Capitol reflecting pool.

The Capitol reflecting pool, by the way, has special significance to me due to some comments Mom made. On our second-ever trip to DC in 1994, we walked from the White House to the Capitol – not a walk to be sneezed at. And in sub-freezing weather, no less. Nearing the Capitol reflecting pool, Mom said, jokingly of course, that it was the spot where all the congressmen and all the senators went to try to snap off Hillary Clinton’s bikini top. The Clinton administration was also the first time in twelve years that they’d been able to partake in snapping off the First Lady’s bikini top, too, as Rosalynn Carter was the last one that they’d been able to do it with. Nancy Reagan was “too small”, and Barbara Bush was “too old”. No word about whether Congress can have fun in the reflecting pool with Laura Bush, because Mom now denies that the exchange ever happened, but we know better.

So who knows. While Bush is blathering on about the poor state he’s left this country in after six years, maybe we’ll see a few representatives who skipped the speech playing in the pool, going after Laura Bush’s bikini top.

Otherwise, this is the first trip since the January 7 derailment at Mt. Vernon Square. And guess what one of my stops will be today – yes, Mt. Vernon Square. I’m going to the Infoshop today, and thus E01 is on the itinerary.

So wish me luck at the protest.

I would like to address something that’s been bothering me for a bit…

January 19, 2007, 11:57 PM

I’ve been listening to Bruce Williams on my iPod, and I finally hear the shows after they’re about two weeks old. I download the podcast every week, and then listen to them in the car when there’s nothing else on. So right now, I’m listening to shows from the first week of January.

One of the things that Mr. Williams brought up was why people are so strongly against wanting to see the execution of Saddam Hussein, when television shows show such violence like that on a regular basis. From my personal standpoint, I draw a big distinction. The stuff you see on television is pretend. It’s “Hollywood magic”, so to speak. A person can be “killed” for a movie, but we know in the back of our minds that they still went home at the end of the day and had dinner.

Compare to seeing the execution of Saddam Hussein. That was real. At the end of it all, Saddam was really dead. He wasn’t going home for dinner after filming was over. The term “snuff film” comes to mind. I’ve never seen a person killed in real life before, and don’t want to. Likewise, I don’t want to see an execution, Saddam Hussein’s or otherwise. I don’t want that image etched onto my mind.

Of course, I still consider the whole concept of executions to be somewhat barbaric in the first place, as I’ve discussed in this entry.

Categories: National politics

How would you swear in an atheist?

December 10, 2006, 11:18 PM

I was listening to the last hour of Bruce Williams‘ December 1 show on my iPod this evening while in the car, and he brought up a topic that I found interesting. In the show, he mentioned that congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN) would be sworn into office using the Koran, which is the holy book of Islam, as he is a Muslim. Now, in researching this a little bit, it turns out that he will not be sworn in using the Koran, as all members are sworn in as a group by the Speaker of the House, with no books involved.

The basic concept was about the use of the Koran. It seems fairly straightforward to me, and Bruce and I seem to be in agreement that if he or any Muslim for that matter, were to be sworn in using the Christian Bible, it wouldn’t mean much to him because it’s not something that is a part of his faith. Likewise for a Christian being sworn in by placing their hand on the Koran.

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It seems that we did it…

November 13, 2006, 10:12 PM

Looks like Virginia is the “Florida” of 2006…

November 8, 2006, 7:15 PM

First of all, just let me say that it was a very challenging ride home from Washington DC last night, because of medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.

However, it was all made more bearable by listening to election result coverage all the way home. On the first half of the trip, I listened on WETA (90.9 FM), Washington’s local National Public Radio (NPR) station. There, instead of the usual BBC World Service feed that they run overnight, we got live election coverage from NPR. On the second half of the return trip, since I finally lose WETA completely at Woodstock, I did a little channel surfing on the radio to continue the live election coverage. For those wondering, I can pick up the local NPR station out of Harrisonburg (WMRA 90.7 FM) from at least as far as Front Royal, but they play classical music during off-times, rather than continuous news and talk like WETA does. And I’m not interested in hearing classical music when I’m trying to stay engaged to drive. I ultimately picked up 750 AM, which is WSB out of Atlanta. I listened to them from Woodstock to Harrisonburg, when I finally switched to WSVA (550 AM) out of Harrisonburg, after I realized that WSB was spending more time on local Atlanta elections that I have no interest in whatsoever, than the races for Congress.

The NPR coverage on WETA was EXCELLENT. They know what they’re doing on there. I quickly found out what was going on before I’d even completely cleared Vienna: the Democrats carried the House of Representatives, and the Senate was still undecided with six races, including those in Montana and Virginia, considered too close to call. As I followed the election coverage through my long, rainy ride home, they, along with WSB and WSVA, were able to call four of them. By the time I arrived home, Montana was still too close to call, but leaning for the Democratic candidate, and Virginia was on a razor-thin margin, flipping back and forth between Allen and Webb. I learned that Allen’s supporters had already gone home with confidence, and Webb’s campaign had already declared victory a little bit after that.

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And now, the zero hour is approaching. Ready, set, vote!

November 6, 2006, 11:00 PM

All right, folks, the polls open early in the morning, and close at 7:00 PM. It is time to make this person’s statement come true, and let the American people reclaim the House of Representatives and the Senate from Republican rule.

I voted a week and a half ago, on October 25. Therefore, my votes have long been cast. Now the rest of you must make your selections.

I make one suggestion: THINK BLUE.

Categories: National politics

Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging, pending appeal. My question becomes…

November 6, 2006, 10:37 PM

I read in the newspaper today that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was convicted of crimes against humanity, and sentenced to death by hanging, pending an appeal.

But what I’d really like to know is, what will we be accomplishing by knocking Saddam off? Seriously, what is anyone proving by knocking him off? So a former dictator will be put to death. If anything, Saddam’s getting off easy. He will be dead, and therefore his problems will be over. It’s not going to get us out of Iraq any sooner, it’s not likely going to stop the insurgency, and it’s not going to solve the basic problems of the Iraqi people.

Now there are certain things that I’m not going to disagree with. I am certainly in agreement with those who say that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who did horrible things to his own people, and allowed other bad things to happen to his people. I’ll give you that. I’ll also agree that he was something of a wacko. His conduct at his trial confirms his status as a wacko.

But why put him to death? As I mentioned above, I think that lets him off extremely easily, even if the death is by hanging, as compared to something somewhat more humane, relatively speaking, like lethal injection. Hanging just seems so primitive, in my opinion, even for a less-developed country.

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Categories: National politics

Virginians: Vote NO to the marriage amendment!

November 3, 2006, 10:09 PM

This advertisement, which ran on page A8 of today’s issue of The News Leader, really burns me up:

"Counterfeit marriages" ad

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They say, “Vote early, vote often.” I did.

October 25, 2006, 5:56 PM

Today, I spent about an hour at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, doing a bit of business with the local government, getting everything all squared away with everyone.

My goal was twofold. First of all, I was going to take care of the taxes on the Sable, and find out what the deal was with a $3.00-and-change late fee that was attached to the tax bill. It turns out that the late fee is related to a form that the county sends you at the first of the year. What they’re doing there is checking to make sure that you have the same vehicles that you had the last time you paid up. I did nothing with that form at the first of the year. I think I either trashed it, or it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere. Either way, it seems that the 39-cent price of a stamp is well worth it if it saves me from having to pay more than seven times the amount in a late fee.

And then I also paid my personal property taxes on the Sable and bought a new county sticker. For 2007, the county stickers are orange. This is a change from the dark red 2005 sticker and the blue 2006 sticker. Since the old 2006 sticker was already loose in spots due to its being transferred to the new windshield in September, I just pulled it off with my hand, and affixed the new sticker. Bingo bango done.

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Ben Schumin, your “man on the street” out gathering people’s thoughts…

September 14, 2006, 1:50 AM

As date-stamped on my previous entry, my most recent trip to Washington DC was on September 12. That date coincided with the primary elections in Washington, where, among other things, people were making their choices for the Democratic Party candidate for mayor. In Washington, with the city itself being heavily Democratic, the Democratic primary is considered the actual deciding contest in the mayor’s race. And with Mayor Tony Williams not seeking another term, the field was wide open.

In fact, there were seven candidates on the ballot: Adrian Fenty, Linda Cropp, Marie Johns, Vincent Orange, Michael Brown (name remained on ballot despite exiting the race), Artee Milligan, and Nestor Djonkam. Fenty ultimately won the race (see here), and therefore, Fenty will likely be the winner in the general election in November.

Now let me remind you that I presently do not live in Washington DC, nor do I live in the Washington DC metropolitan area (though I’m working hard to change that part, but no success yet). I’ve followed the race to an extent, as I spend the equivalent of a month in Washington each year (a day in Washington every two weeks plus a few double-dips). I also really hate it when our national leaders step on the local leaders’ toes or leave them out of critical incidents, such as on May 11, 2005 (one of my DC trip days, by the way) when the White House and Capitol were evacuated due to an idiot who got lost in restricted airspace over Washington. There, the DC government wasn’t informed that something was up until it was all over. Mayor Williams was not happy, needless to say.

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I voted, using the new touch-screen voting machines…

November 8, 2005, 5:35 PM

Today after work, I voted in Virginia’s 2005 gubernatorial election. We’ll see whether the guy I voted for ends up winning or not.

This year, things were a bit different in the voting-equipment category. Through the 2004 election, voters in Augusta County used these old, mechanical voting machines. These things were great. They were this awful institutional-blue color with plaid curtains. They looked like they came straight out of the 1950s. Those things had charm. First, you pulled the big blue lever with the red handle. That closed the curtain, and you were ready to vote. Then you pulled the little red levers to make your selection, and it made a “chink” sound. Then when satisfied with your selection, you pulled the big handle again, it made a whole bunch of mechanical noises like “ka-chink” to record your vote, reset all the levers, and then opened the curtain. Vote cast.

Like I said, I loved those old machines because they had charm. Completely mechanical. I think that the only electricity required for them was used to power the lights inside the booth.

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What do a candidate’s freshman year grades in college really have to do with anything?

June 13, 2005, 7:11 PM

I was reading an article in the Staunton News Leader today at work, talking about John Kerry’s grades in college as compared to those of George W. Bush. I was reading the article, and the question came up again and again – what does this have to do with anything? John Kerry graduated Yale in 1966, and George W. Bush graduated in 1968. As of Election Day 2004, that would make John Kerry’s college days 38 years in the past, and would make George W. Bush’s college days 36 years in the past. Since then, both men pursued their various careers.

I consider career accomplishments better performance indicators than grades, which I consider along the lines of the old saying, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Call it what you will, but I find grades to be rather meaningless, as I’ve seen so many professors play with the numbers to make the grades look the way they want them to look. Besides, what’s important in the college experience? I quote from Dr. Stillion’s Student FAQ:

Since THAT is the very, very valuable thing for which you are investing all this money, time, and energy, you should study with the goal of learning ALL of the material to the best of your ability – and NEVER MIND the grade. In the end, you are NOT learning this stuff for a grade (I know that may seem strange, but it is nevertheless TRUE). Ten years from now, NOBODY will care what grade you made in this course – NOT EVEN YOU … . However, ten years from now, somebody’s LIFE may depend upon how well you comprehended and retained this material with the ability to APPLY it to their situation. … This is true for Psychology classes whether or not you ultimately work in a Psych-related field. Even if you ended up working picking strawberries somewhere, your ability to recognize, for example, a depressed co-worker and get them the help they need could make the difference between life and death for them.

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Categories: National politics

It only took them nearly two years to do it…

January 14, 2005, 7:21 PM

Finally the US has called off its search for weapons of mass destruction (hereafter WMDs) in Iraq, realizing that there are no weapons. And what amazes me is that George W. Bush has no regrets about it, despite that his primary reason for invading Iraq in the first place – the WMDs – turned out to be from inaccurate information.

I find it worthwhile to show you something that was shown at Metro Center station in April 2004:

MoveOn advertisement claiming George W. Bush knew that there were no weapons

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Categories: National politics

I voted… did you?

November 2, 2004, 3:44 PM

After work, I went over to Stuarts Draft Rescue Squad, and voted. And as a result, I got this:

"I voted" sticker

As you probably expected, I voted for John Kerry for President.

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