Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TSA T&A

I joked about this earlier on Facebook, but, as my mind often does, it's been chewing on it all night and an interesting thought came up...

As I mentioned semi-jokingly today, if you are fed up with the TSA's patdowns, all you need to do is fly naked. At first blush, it would seem likely that you would be arrested for indecent exposure, the story would make the rounds for a day or so and that would be it.

However, there could be a but at the end of that sentence. The TSA is a government agency. If done properly, presenting yourself to the TSA screeners in your birthday suit could be taken as a protest. In that case, which wins. Your First Amendment rights or indecency laws? What a sticky wicket that would create.

I'm not going to go into a long editorial about the current security issues. Many others who feel stronger about it have said a lot more than I could. I prefer to look at things from unusual perspectives. You can't have it both ways kiddos. You either have high security or you have more attacks. It's just that simple. This is the most unconventional war (and yes, it is a war) that we have ever fought. We are constantly on defence because as soon as something works, our enemies change tactics. They change because they know our playbook. They know that one chance is all they get before they have to think again.

We've gotten so used to our freedoms that as soon as someone wants to curb them, even if it's to protect us, the cries go out. We are so concerned about offending people as well. We know damn well who is doing a vast majority of these attacks. Muslims, of middle-eastern decent, male, aged 18-30. The minute we say that all people fitting into that group is going to get extra attention, the liberals start screaming 'racist!'.

I'm going to leave it there, because that's not where I want this to go. Back on topic. Now, the thing is, who to get to do this? I think I'm a bit too self-conscious to do it. Of course, if I was 6'4", toned, tanned, and hung like an Arabian, it would make it a bit easier! It's a difficult choice. It can't be a celebrity...people will think it's nothing more than a publicity stunt. It can't be a person that's too hot either, for the same reason. Best bet is a moderately attractive C-list star. Get to it folks! I want to see that protest!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

(insert depressed sigh here)

As you may have noticed, a majority of my recent posts have leaned towards the socio-political aspects of life. I've been meaning to get around to a few other, significantly less important, things, but the motivation just wasn't there.

Even now as I write this, the desire is pretty low. My beloved Wolverines dropped another turd in the proverbial punch bowl today with an embarrassing 48-28 loss to Wisconsin. The problem with writing about them is it's not really news. I was never a fan of the Rodriguez hiring in the first place, but I was willing to give him a bit more of a break than a lot of fans. After all, he was completely redoing the team concept. Now that his first recruits are finishing their junior year, it's time for the axe to fall. With an offense that is sporadic at best and a defense that gives up more yards per game than Magellan logged, it's time for a change.

It's even hard for me to write about my dear Sharks. 9-5-4 isn't horrible, but after all the recent disappointments and a huge shakeup in net, it's real hard for me to get excited right now. Niemi is the over-rated stiff I thought he was last year. Niittymaki has done well, but he always will be a solid #2. He wasn't meant to be the go to guy. The depth is still an issue, particularly on the blueline. They are only 18 games into the season and they are already scrambling to find injury replacements.

My offline life is a swirling shitstorm, but I'm not going to go into that. So that's that then. I guess it's back to the socio-political!

A greater mission?

For those of you that follow my inane ramblings on Facebook, you might have noticed some rather unusual posts the last few days. Now, I can imagine that most of you thought that I sustained a sharp blow to the head, finally made the transition from normal crazy to foaming at the mouth insane, or, more likely, both. No my dear friends, I have retained the tenuous grasp on both sanity and reality that I always had.
I stumbled upon a very interesting site a few nights ago. It had the Hail Mary translated into many different languages. The first post was me being fascinated with languages and, honestly, trying to buy a little karma (yes, I know the idea of trying to acquire a tenet of Sikhism/Hinduism with a Christian prayer is a little counter-productive, but just go with me here). However, after I posted the first one my mind, as it does from time to time, took the idea and ran off with it for a while. What it came back with really got me thinking.

As we all know, there are many places where Christianity is not welcomed at all. Still, there are always missionaries that are going to these places to spread The Word. In many of these places, they are literally putting their lives on the line. Uttering those words in those languages could easily be a death sentence. That has always amazed me about people who were totally devoted to their faith. The fact that they would willingly put their lives on the line for an idea.

People like Paul Hypki from Crosswalk Church in Waukesha. Granted, he wasn't putting his life on the line when he was going to Tajikistan, but the government really didn't want him there. At one point, if he was caught, he would have been lucky to just be deported (the restrictions have since been eased). That still didn't keep him from going over and guiding a small group of Christians in the small, poor, former Soviet republic.

So, as a very small tribute, I would like to share a few of my favorites. For the less known languages, I will provide a short explanation.

Ave, Maria, yu pulap long grasia. Lord, i stap long yu. Ol i onaim yu moa long ol meri, na ol i onaim Jisas, Em Pikinini bilong bel bilong yu. Santu Maria, Mama bilong God, pre bilong helpim mipela manmeri bilong sin, nau na long taim milpela i dai. Amen. - Tok Pisin

Tok Pisin is a Creole/English hybrid that is spoken in Papua New Guinea. Although the government of Papua New Guinea has a freedom of speech law similar to ours, there are literally thousands of different cultural/ethnic groups in the country. Many of them can be hostile to those who are different, especially once you get outside Port Morseby.

Ave Maria, nopunu' do graasia, miampai diau O kinoingan, obitua ko do id saviavi' tondu, om obitua o tuva' tinan nu Jesus. Sangti Maria, tina' do Kinoingan Pokiinsianai zikoh tu' tuhun do momimiduso; baino om ontok jaam do kapatazon za. Amin. - Kadazan

Kadazan is a language spoken in an area of Malaysia on the island of Borneo. Again, the Malaysian constitution insures freedom of religion, however, over 60% of the country is Muslim and Shariah law is upheld in their court system. Also, ethnic Malays are constitutionally considered Muslim.

聖母經

萬福瑪麗亞,你充滿聖寵!主與你同在。你在婦女中受贊頌,你的親子耶穌同受贊頌。

天主聖母瑪麗亞,求你現在和我們臨終時,為我們罪人祈求天主。阿門。- Chinese




Arabic

I really don't have a greater point or moral for all of this. It's just food for thought. I'm not really out to shift any personal paradigms. Take from this whatever you will.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Live on Big Fritz

35 years ago, the greatest Great Lakes maritime wreck occurred. At approximately 7:20 pm, November 10th, 1975, the Edmond Fitzgerald went down in Lake Superior. With a mere 17 miles (15 nm) to go until they reached the relative safety of Whitefish Bay, The Big Fritz succumbed to a severe storm with wind gusts of up to 100 MPH and waves as high as 35 feet. As no distress signals were sent, the true cause of the Fitzgerald going down will never be known.

As a born and breed Wisconsinite, the tale of the Fitzgerald is well known to me and most folks in the Great Lakes area. What really brings this home is the storm we had just 15 days ago. It was a almost identical storm to the one that brought the Fitz down. Just experiencing that storm on land gives me new respect of what happened on that lake that night.

29 men went down that night. 29 men who were just doing their jobs. The youngest, Watchman Karl A. Peckol, was just 20 years old when the ship went down. With the current glorification of blue collar workers in tough jobs, I hope that the memory of the Fitzgerald and other wrecks on the Great Lakes will live on. Even though Great Lakes shipping isn't what it once was, the men who still ply the mostly calm, but often deadly, waters of those inland seas take a great risk just to make their way in life.

So, as my last thought, I leave you with the words and music of Gordon Lightfoot...


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kill all the babies you want, just put down the Big Mac!

As I look around at all the laws that have been passed to force us to change our behaviors, the ones that really frost my knickers are the ones that are "for our own good."

It's not just San Francisco and their idiotic new law banning happy meal toys...It's all the laws that put us in the middle of the Demolition Man world. If some morally righteous zealot deems something to be even slightly bad, they will get some politician to pass a ban against it. Even if it's a legal product, they will do everything they can to prevent you from using it (am I right smokers?). If I am to believe the teachings I got while I was searching for religion, we were given the gift of free will. Why are our "leaders" doing everything they can to take that away?

You have to wonder though...Why is it that they are so intent on legislating all sorts of behaviors that are bad for us, but they still allow abortion? When you boil it down, it is all about life. These laws are supposed to save our lives. So why not preserve life by passing a law against the behavior that directly leads to taking a life? Why is free will good in this case and not in any others? If you ask a pro abortion person, their first argument is always, "We must protect a woman's right to choose!" Well, what about my right to choose to stuff my face with never ending plates of poutine? What about a parent's right to choose whether to get the Happy Meal for their kid or not?

Our society has truly begun it's decent. We can't keep the worst among us (murderers, rapists, child molesters) behind bars, but we can pass laws telling us what to eat, what to drink, what to wear, and even what kinds of products to buy (bye bye incandescent light bulbs). Has it really come to this? No, I'm not advocating anarchy, but come on, if I want to sit in a greasy spoon diner and have a jumbo rack of ribs with a side of chili fries, why should the government feel the need to try to stop me?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Underground Conservative Part VI

OK, I admit it. I was dumb. I gave in to the hoopla.

After I volunteered for the Walker campaign on election day, I grabbed a bumper sticker and...put it on my car. Yea, it makes it a bit harder now to be undercover, but I don't care. This was such a historic election cycle for me. I had to do it.

I have always leaned towards politics. I rarely miss voting in an election. I've voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. I have missed a few primaries though. By and large, I have always participated in the process. Over the last two years, however, I have taken it to a new level. I have blogged about it (both here and in the first version of Sharks and Bears), written about it at various other sites, and this year I actually pounded the pavement and knocked on doors on election day. I have attended rallies and defended my candidates online. I don't consider myself a political activist yet, but I do feel that I am knowledgeable enough to be considered a pundit.

I'm more than a little nervous about the sticker. My car is my lifeline (needed for work and food shopping) and in a neighborhood where windows were broken by bricks over a sale of a TV that died (yes, this really did happen...I watched the guy throw the bricks), a Walker bumper sticker might be all the motivation needed for some prick to slash tires or break windows. Still, I am proud to have it there. Make no mistake though, if he doesn't live up to his promises, I will be one of the first ones to vote him out.

That is what all of us who identify with the TEA Party are all about. It doesn't matter if you have a D or an R after your name. If you are committed to lowering the tax burden on the people, control spending, and return this country to it's glory, then we are with you. If you don't do what you said you were going to do, we will find someone who will.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Congressional twister

Now that all the election data has shaken out from that historic midterm, we move on to the first huge decision that the state has to face...Redistricting.

For those that don't know how this works, here's a short overview. Every 10 years, the government sets out to count every person in the country (the census). The numbers that the census turn up play a large part in the government at various levels. Perhaps the biggest, most visible way, is the number of representatives that each state sends to the US House. Since 1913 (not counting the one time Alaska/Hawaii exception) this number has been set at 435. Leaving out the complex math that goes into it, after each census it is determined how many house representatives each state gets (although each state is guaranteed one) based on the number of people there.

That's where it gets interesting for Wisconsin. We will be losing one seat. Considering the fact that every congressional district has to include the exact same number of people at the time of redistricting, it seems likely that the seat that will be lost will be in SE Wisconsin. Logic would dictate that the current 4th district would be absorbed by the 1st and 5th to some degree. Of course, we won't know for some time yet what sort of cartography contortions will be done to give Wisconsin it's 7 seats, but with the Republicans in control of the Governor's Mansion, State Assembly, and State Senate, you can be sure that the balance that we currently have in SE Wisconsin will change.

But what to do with that extra representative? Someone is losing his/her job. I'm far from a scholar when it comes to redistricting, but if it were me, the person that is representing the district that is eliminated would be out of a job. Some people, I'm sure, would argue that the most junior representative would be tossed. And that's the ballgame folks. Either very liberal Gwen Moore (WI-4) is out if the 4th really is dumped or either Sean Duffy or Reid Ribble (both won their first terms on Tuesday) will be ousted. It is possible, although quite unlikely, that a current representative would voluntarily retire to free up the seat. The only candidates that I see doing that are James Sensenbrenner (WI-5) and possibly Tom Petri (WI-6). Tammy Baldwin (WI-2) is such an entrenched part of the Madison liberal establishment that I don't see her going anywhere. Ron Kind (WI-3) may also consider it. Had the winds of change not been blowing so hard the other way, Kind would have considered a run for governor this year.

As much as I hate to say it, the wild card here is Paul Ryan (WI-1). He is a rising star in Republican politics and is poised to become a leader in the new Republican majority. However, despite his assurances to the contrary, if the tide continues to turn against the Democrats, he will be given the full court press by the RNC and prominent Republicans to change his mind. A one year break to put his ducks in a row before a big time campaign might be enough to get him to at least consider it.

It will be a very interesting time. How are the lines drawn? Who will be looking for a new job? Will someone "take one for the team" so another colleague can keep their job? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2010 midterms - a look back

It's interesting how things can look so different just by changing the perspective. Nationally, the Republican wave didn't surge as much as it could have. It was still pretty powerful, (taking back the House with a significant majority and evening up the Senate) but it wasn't quite the tsunami that it could have been.

Here in Wisconsin, however, it was quite a different story. Two House seats went from blue to red (a third, WI-3, nearly fell in what was, going in, considered a safe seat for the Democrats), the governor's mansion will be occupied by Republican Scott Walker, Wisconsin's junior Senator is now a conservative business owner from Oshkosh, and the State Assembly and the State Senate switched to a Republican majority. The last time the Assembly, Senate, and Governor all switched parties in the same year, you have to go back to 1938.

All that is a good thing. Perhaps we can get the big spending under control now. While I know that Mr. Walker and Mr. Johnson know that if they don't do what they promised, we will replace them with someone who will. Hopefully the State Assembly and Senate get the hint too.

The most confusing thing though, is what's coming out of the WI-4. For those that don't know, the 4th is basically the city of Milwaukee and as strong a lock for the Democrats as any district in the country. In this election, Gwen Moore was challenged, rather strongly as it turns out, by local business owner Dan Sebring. At first glance, the 69-30% win for Moore is what you would expect in a race that wasn't heavily backed by GOP money. However, all doesn't seem to be kosher. After Mr. Sebring posted on his Facebook account last night that he would not be conceding due to what he called "irregularities" in the vote counting. I took a bit of time myself and dug a little deeper.

Granted, I do not have access to the numbers of same day registrants, but basing the vote totals for the Senate race and the number of registered voters in Milwaukee county as of October 20th, it began to look a bit fishy. According to my numbers, 63.5% of Milwaukee county registered voters turned out to vote. Now, there was a VERY high turnout in the south suburbs, but that also is a cause for concern because those areas also voted heavily for Ron Johnson and Scott Walker. Cudahy, St. Francis, South Milwaukee and a segment of West Allis are a part of the 4th. According to JSOnline's map, those areas also voted pretty strongly for Walker and Johnson. I would tend to believe that they would have voted for Sebring as well.

That leaves us with the city of Milwaukee. Sure, Republicans tend to do very poorly here, but even still, there were irregularities. Again, according to JSOnline's maps, Aldermanic districts 11 and 13 leaned significantly to Walker. You would think that those voting Walker would vote Sebring as well.

So what does this all mean? Could it be possible that all this evidence only accounts for 30% of the vote? Sure, it's possible, but unlikely. That is probably the reasoning behind Mr. Sebring's official protest of the election's results. Thee has already been one account of illegal actions by poll workers (an inner city poll worker said to a voter, "Let me show you some of my favorite candidates"), who's to say there wasn't more?

It looks like it will be quite a while until the dust settles in this one. If you are interested, go ahead and follow Mr. Sebring's Facebook account. I'm sure that it will be very interesting...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election night thoughts

Just a few quick things while they are still fresh in my mind.

I just returned home for the Scott Walker victory rally. Two things stuck out. First, to no real surprise, there was only a few African American faces in the crowd (I counted 3, but there was a HUGE number of people there). What did surprise me a bit was the number of younger people. I did see some college age people, but not nearly as many as I would have hoped. I don't consider myself young by any means, but we need us younger folks to step up and get active. The generation before us is aging quickly. If we want to continue the gains we made tonight, we have to keep it up.

Milwaukee county concerned me. It seemed that they took forever to report their totals. Maybe it was the fact that there were long lines at 8, I don't know for sure. All I do know is that the only time I saw slower return reporting was when I was living in Appleton. Whatever the reason, it does look a bit shady...even more so when you consider all the fraud allegations that come from certain parts of the city.

I'll write more tomorrow once all the dust settles and we get the final numbers. There seems to be a bit of an issue in the WI-4 race. Dan Sebring refuses to concede under allegations of Irregularities in vote tabulation. We'll check that out as well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Prediction time!

Well, since every other political blogger is putting their money where their mouth is, I guess I should too.

US Senate

This one will be real close. With the announcement that Joe Liberman may caucus with the GOP should there be a party flip or a 50-50, it makes the Senate races all that more interesting. I do think that the Senate flips straight out and Liberman starts to vote with the GOP, giving a 52-48 majority to the Republicans.

Locally, it's practically a foregone conclusion that Ron Johnson defeats Russ Feingold. It's just a matter by how much. There are reports that the turnout in Milwaukee could be as high as 55%. If that holds true, it will be a narrower margin. The problem is, despite how liberal this city is, I haven't seen a large amount of yard signs/bumper stickers for any of the Democratic candidates. While far from scientific, that leads me to think that the turnout may be a bit lower than they think. If that's true, Johnson wins by at least 4 points.

US House

This is a slam dunk. The Republicans will take back the house, the only thing in question is by how much? I have heard anywhere from 50 to 76 seats. I think the 50-55 range is closer to the truth, but we will know for sure how big of a tide this is by 9pm CDT. The WI-3 race will be a key. If Ron Kind loses out there, you know that things are going to go very badly for the Democrats nationwide.

There really are only the 3 seats that are in play in Wisconsin. As far as the 3rd goes, it truly is a tossup. I haven't followed that race as closely as the others, but I think Kind will hold on. The 7th and 8th are runaways for the GOP. Sean Duffy will dominate in the 7th while Reid Ribble holds on to win in the 8th. Steve Kagen turned himself into the Dan Quayle of this generation. I think the GOP could have run a stuffed bunny against Kagen and received 40% of the vote. There is a challenge in the WI-4, and despite what Dan Sebring is saying on his Facebook page, he really doesn't have a real shot. Even with the reports of vandalism to his supporters' homes, it's not going to be enough to overcome the long odds.

Wisconsin Governor

Again, this is almost a sure thing. Tom Barrett has been the reluctant candidate all along. I'm sure, deep down, he never really wanted to be governor. He's happy being the mayor of Milwaukee. The president and the DNC sweet talked him into this. Scott Walker should win by a comfortable margin. Again, Milwaukee turnout will determine by how much Walker wins, but I'm thinking a 59-41% margin is realistically attainable.