Saturday, June 28, 2008

Melissa Etheridge

Last night I went and saw Melissa Etheridge at the F.M. Kirby Center. Going in I was not that familiar with Melissa's music. I just knew a few songs. I liked her music enough to not pass up a chance seeing her live.

It started a few minutes past eight and it ended around 11. Wow.

Her performance was absolutely amazing. She played roughly a 3 hour set pretty much straight. The only breaks were for drinking water on stage, talking to the audience, and a few minutes at the end before she put on her encore where she played two extra songs.

The first song was one she said she only wrote to perform live and the other song was an amazing and powerful rendition of "Like The Way I Do". The performance of that song must've been at least seven minutes long.

Her band was excellent as well. I love how for a lot of the songs such as "Like the Way I Do" and "Bring Me Some Water" they would go off into intense jam sessions.

There was so much energy on that stage.

I'd have to say I loved the concert.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Vitter and Craig Back "Pro-Marriage" Amendement

Once again some Republicans are trying to amend our Constitution to discriminate against homosexuals.

S. J. RES. 43 was introduced June 25th by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). The bill aims to amend the Constitution to state that marriage "shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.".

As we know an amendment needs to be ratified by 2/3rds of both Houses. Then it must be ratified by 3/4ths of state legislatures. Long story short, it isn't that easy to amend the Constitution. Numerous amendments are introduced in Congressional sessions and the vast majority are never actually voted on by Congress.

Only 33 in the history of the USA have gotten that 2/3rds in Congress to go to the states for ratification.

Enough with the history lesson. Let's get onto the issue here.

It seems that two of the eight co-sponsors of this bill are Larry Craig (R-ID) and David Vitter (R-LA)

The toe tapper and the man of high priced prostitutes.

Larry Craig was charged with attempting to solicit sex amongst other charges. He plead guilty. His attempts to have his plea reversed have all been denied.

Since the bathroom incident numerous gay men have come out and claimed to have had sexual encounters with Larry Craig.

The 40-year-old man reported having oral sex with Craig at Washington's Union Station, probably in 2004."

So Craig may be one of those homosexuals that he wants to try and protect marriage from. the very least he may have engaged in homosexual sex.

David Vitter, father of four and a married man, was named in 2007 as a client of the DC Madam.

Some family man he is.

I just find it humerous that these two men, who are complete hypocrites, are championing a bill like this. Is this their attempt for forgiveness by the right-wing? Is this thier attempt to delude themselves that they are family men because they support legislation like this?

Who knows.

At least four other amendments like this died in Congress over the past few years, and with a Democratic controleld Congress, this is going to get no where.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gun Ban Struck Down

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a sweeping ban on handguns in the nation's capital violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The justices voted 5-4 against the ban, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing the opinion for the majority.

At issue in District of Columbia v. Heller was whether Washington's ban violated the right to "keep and bear arms" by preventing individuals -- as opposed to state militias -- from having guns in their homes.

Some may be surprised by this, but I support the ruling. I do believe in a reasonable right to bear arms. What I do not support is a completely unregulated gun industry or completely unregulated gun ownership. We all believe in gun control, but to varying degrees.

I'm sure no reasonable human being would be okay with a three year old owning a gun.

I do not believe that there is a right for a private citizen to own an automatic weapon. I do support bans on automatic weapons. They cannot be used for hunting and they are overkill for self-defense unless you're next door neighbor has a cult armed to the teeth.

I also see the need for regulating gun shows and making sure that background checks are properly done. Guns should not be easy to buy in the sense that it is easy to buy a pair of shows. You shouldn't be allowed to simply go into a store and come out with a gun right after purchase. There is a reasonable need to ensure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands.

But gun bans should not be unreasonable like the DC one. I disagree with how it was illegal to own a handgun in the privacy of your own home.

It is not enough to restrict and keep restricting gun rights to curb gun violence. You need to attack factors that cause crime such as poor education and poverty. If government would focus on rebuilding cities, implement better anti-poverty programs and remove those who abuse such programs, and help strengthen our education system, there should be a drop in crime.

But at the same time, people need to be able to defend themselves. Have gun owners go over a gun safety course, but let the states decide that issue.

I do believe it would be a gross violation of the Constitution to ban firearms that citizens should reasonable own.

That's how I see it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some Updates

I've been really busy the past week with stuff for Wilkes and some other things. Sunday and most of Monday I was at Orientation. It wasn't bad at all. I'm set on majoring in English and working on that for the next four years.

I'll be updating the blog as often as I can. I'm not going away.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We Lost The Funniest Man in the World

I heard around 8 a.m. this morning that George Carlin died of a heart attack.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I read the message from my father in a text message.

"George Carlin died last night. Heart attack."

Carlin had three previous ones.

I fell in love with his humor about three years ago when I listened to his album "FM&AM" on an old tape cassette of my dad's.

During the summer of that year I bought his book "Brain Droppings."

I read it in a few hours. I could not put it down. I laughed my ass off.

And now it is a sad time for comedy.

I was lucky enough to see him live about a year and a half ago at the Kirby Center. It was a great show, but you could tell that he was getting old and that perhaps his health was not so great. Still he delivered an excellent performance.

I love his albums and I love his books. Sure he did get mean-spirited towards the end of the road, but some of us do get bitter.

Some people called him vulgar or offensive. His humor wasn't light. It wasn't always warm. Carlin made a point in some of his bits to point out how things that are offensive or vulgar can be funny depending on the context of the joke. He was absolutely correct.

One of his funniest routines in my opinion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rally at the Square for Universal Healthcare

That is the advertisement for the rally. The rally is going to take place at noon at Public Square in downtown Wilkes-Barre. There are going to be additional rallies throughout the state.

In addition to protesting insurance companies, the protest is also meant to promote two pieces of single-payer insurance in Pennsylvania. HB 1660 and SB 300.

HB 1660
SB 300

Both pieces of legislation aim to provide comprehensive universal health care to Pennsylvanians.

NEPA Organizing Center to Hold Universal Health Care Rally

The NEPA Organizing Center will kick off our Universal Health Care Campaign on Thursday, June 19th, at noon with a rally at Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.
The rally is part of a coordinated National Day of Protest Against Insurance Companies. Similar rallies will be taking place in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, and Lancaster. The events are sponsored by Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP/NNOC), Western PA
Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare (, Pennsylvanians United for Single-payer Healthcare, Healthcare4AllPa (, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, Physicians for a National Health Program, Healthcare-NOW (, and the NEPA Organizing Center.

More info is at their website.

As a supporter of universal health care I may be there at the rally if I can manage. I hope it all goes well tomorrow.

Let's contact our representation in the General Assembly and urge them to support these pieces of legislation.

Monday, June 16, 2008

All You Need Is Love- Victory for Civil Rights

Today at 5:01 PM PST, 8:01 PM EST, California will open the gates to allow the first legal statewide gay marriages.

There is such a large amount of gay couples expecting to be wed that hundreds of people have been deputized in major cities to officiate at the ceremonies.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, will officiate at city hall and his first act will be to wed Phyllis Lyon, 84, and Del Martin, 87, a lesbian couple who have been together for 55 years.

Of course there are going to be some nasty elements. The ignorant folks over at the Westboro Baptist Chruch will be protesting with their "God Hates Fags" signs and whatnot.

In addition to the great victory this was for civil rights and freedom, analysts expect that there will be an economic benefit as well.

In a report issued this month, the University of Southern California's Williams Institute estimated that extending marriage to gays and lesbians would boost state revenues by more than $63m.

The study anticipates that about half of the state's 102,000 registered same-sex couples will marry in California in the next three years; it also predicts that more than 60,000 same-sex couples will come from other states to marry.

They will spend some $683m, helping to create more than 2,000 jobs and generating $55m in state and local taxes. Marriage license fees alone will bring in $8.8m.

The California state supreme court's ruling will make the state the second in the Union to have legal gay marriage. Massachusetts is the other state. A voter initiative to amend California's state constitution to ban gay marriage is expected to be on the ballot in November.

I hope it fails. I really do.

Today is certainly a victory for civil rights and freedom in our country. It may not happen all at once, but it is a foot in the door and that is better than nothing at all.

If one where to take a magnifying glass to the arguments against gay marriage, you will find one common rational behind it.

Religion. Religion. Religion.

As we know we live in a secular society with a secular government.

At least that is how it is supposed to work. It gets foggy when you have a president that claims that God speaks to him. It gets foggier when faith and science mix.

I hope that I live to see where across the nation gay marriage is recognized and legal.

The battle for freedom never ends. There are many obstacles in the way, but above all humanity needs to stay strong and fight for each other's rights.

Moments like these make me proud.

Here's to happy marriage for all of the newly weds in California.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Habeas Corpus...Are We Back on the Right Track?

In a landmark decision the Supreme Court ruled that detainees at Guantanamo Bay had the right to habeas corpus. The prisoners in other words have the Constitutional and legal right to challenge their detentions in a civilian court of law.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority decision and there is a line in it, which I believe will be oft-quoted in years to come.

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times”.

It is only justice that these detainees are given the chance to explore the "Great Writ" and seek to challenge their detention in a court of law.

This seemingly is not going to affect military commission trials says the Attorney General.

Naturally this has really irked the GOP and the President.

Sen. Graham of South Carolina had the audacity and the ignorance to consider drafting a constitutional amendment to "to blunt the effect of this decision.''

What is he going to do? Amend Article One Section 9 of the Constitution and change something in this?

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

Our Constitution is very clear on this. There is no state of rebellion and there is no invasion. It would be exceedingly intellectually shallow to declare that the war on terror constitutes an "Invasion".

I find it sad that politicians, notably on the right, must resort to fear mongering to keep their heads above water.

What is so bad about allowing prisoners to challenge their detention? What is Mr. Bush so afraid of? Is he afraid of the alleged torture?

Detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves, an FBI agent who said he witnessed such abuse reported in a memo to supervisors, according to documents released yesterday.

Is that what they are afraid? That in a court of justice a detainee would expose the horrid, illegal, and inhumane acts they were subjected to by United States military personnel?

Or is that we detain children at Guantanamo Bay?

The US military has admitted that children aged 16 years and younger are among the detainees being interrogated at its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, a US military spokesman, yesterday said all the teenagers being held were "captured as active combatants against US forces", and described them as "enemy combatants".

These are child soldiers. They are indoctrinated to kill and hate. Sure do we not have a humane side to give at least the children a chance to challenge their detention? Do the children at least have the opportunity to be protected from torture?

We do not even know if they are subjected to the torture that the adult prisoners are.

It is clear from the evidence that this Administration cares not for human rights. They demonize our enemies. They turn them into beasts and monsters. Creatures that under the law have no rights. It is clear that this Administration cares not for the law or for justice. It is clear that this Administration cares not for our own Constitution. The thought of amending it to further restrict a writ that has been held in high legal regard for centuries is dangerous and disturbing.

This was a small victory in a battle to restore our legal and ethical integrity. I can only hope that justice prevails.

Tim Russert 1950-2008

This was not something I figured I'd post for a very long time.

Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, has passed away. He was 58. He collapsed while recording voice tracks for Meet the Press. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. As of writing the cause is unknown but it is said to have been a heart attack. He recently returned to the US after a family vacation with his wife and son. They were celebrating his son's college graduation.

I've grown to love Tim's reporting over the primary season. He really shone through.

RIP Tim.



Graduation was Tuesday and it all went well. It feels good to be a high school graduate. I've been really busy the past few days, and I hope to have a new post up tonight sometime.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Who Wants to Get Waterboarded?

I sure as hell don't.

Nearly 60 House Democrats yesterday urged the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to examine whether top Bush administration officials may have committed crimes in authorizing the use of harsh interrogation tactics against suspected terrorists.

I doubt that this will accomplish anything, but at least some of our elected officials are standing up for what is right.

"We need an impartial criminal investigation," said Conyers, who called the detainee controversy "a truly shameful episode" in U.S. history. "Because these apparent 'enhanced interrogation techniques' were used under cover of Justice Department legal opinions, the need for an outside special prosecutor is obvious."

We all remember and saw the grotesque images from Abu Gharib. Those disgusting and deplorable pictures seemed like they came from some bizarre horror movie. The acts depicted in those images are human and brutal. They seem like something "the enemy" would do, not soldiers of the United States of America.

Sometime in the past few years some of us discovered the term "waterboarding".

It is defined as a form of torture where an individual is immobilized and lays on their back. Their head is inclined in a downward position. Water is board over their face and breathing passages. The victim experiences forced suffocation and inhalation of water. The subject, because their vision is blinded, believes they are being drowned and that death is imminent.

In 1947 the USA prosecuted a Japanese soldier for using waterboarding, amongst other techniques, to torture an American civilian.

"The subject was strapped on a stretcher that was tilted so that his feet were in the air and head near the floor, and small amounts of water were poured over his face, leaving him gasping for air until he agreed to talk."

He was sentenced to 15 years hard labor.

In February of this year both Houses of Congress passed a bill to ban waterboarding. Naturally the President vetoed it.

John McCain, who was tortured, voted AGAINST the ban. He once again caved to right-wing pressure. The so-called maverick lost in 2000 and has fallen victim to the right-wing base of the GOP.

The NY Times in 2007 quotes him as saying of waterboarding

“They should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.”

McCain also mentioned how the torture practice was used in the Spanish Inquisition and by Pol Pot.

Is torture and illegal wiretapping necessary to ensure our safety?

"Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous." - William Proxmire

When did maintaining security at any cost override our American values, our image, and our rights? What was it that differentiated us from the "bad guys"?

I always believed that what made us different was our ability to protect our rights while exercising our powers to protect our people. That what made us different was our ability to respect human rights and fight for them passionately. Perhaps it was even the hope that our leaders were able to respect the checks and balances set by our Constitution to ensure that no branch of government becomes to powerful.

But tell that to Cheney who seems to think that the Vice-Presidency is its own sovereign branch of government.

The Cheney Branch of Government. It is right by the Albert Gonzalez's School of Legal Interpretation.

There has to be a line between civil liberties and security. There needs to be a line between our American values and what is morally and ethically wrong.

Who are supposed to be the bad guys here?

I thought that we were the ones who had the moral high ground.

Maybe I was wrong.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Don't Forget Poland!

One of the funnier moments of the Bush/Kerry debates was when Bush reminded Kerry about Poland's involvement in Iraq.

Well, Poland is getting out of there.

WARSAW - Polish forces will be out of Iraq by the middle of October, Defence Minister Bogdan Klich confirmed in a radio interview Saturday.

Twenty-two Polish soldiers have died in Iraq since 2003, when Poland's then left-wing president deployed a force of 2,600 troops to Diwaniyah region in support of the US-led invasion that year.

Some 1,600 Polish troops are also deployed in Afghanistan, serving with NATO's 36,000-strong International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which is battling a Taliban-led insurgency.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Some News

As it has been reported Hillary Clinton will suspend her presidential bid and endorse Barack Obama on Saturday. Obama has formed a team to search for a vice-presidential candidate. It is speculated Hillary would take the same, but there is no word from either camp if she will actually get it yet.

Some polls show most Dems would like her as vice-president, others show the opposite.

I would prefer that she not be on the ticket. I would not go as far and say that I would not vote for the Democratic ticket if she is on it. I would prefer somebody else.

It was widely reported that Obama and Clinton met at Sen. Feinstein's home and had some sort of discussion. There is no information really as to what it was exactly about.

Breaking on CNN right now is some economic news. Oil has settled at a record $138.54 a barrel and economists speculate that it may hit $150 by July 4.

The next couple of days will see not as much activity. I'm getting ready to graduate Coughlin High School on this coming Tuesday. After that I'll be able to update my blog a lot more often.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Popular Vote At The End of the Day

At the end of the primary season it does seem that Obama still held a slight lead in the popular vote. I am using all of my numbers from

Michigan will be excluded because the DNC Rules and Bylaws committee decided that the popular vote there will not count because they viewed it as a flawed primary since Edwards and Obama were not on the ballot according to a segment on MSNBC.

Obama: 17, 535, 458
Clinton: 17, 493, 836

Obama has a lead of 41,622

That number excludes Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Washington. They did not release the popular vote from their caucuses. This is how figured these estimations.

"Iowa, Nevada, Washington & Maine Have Not Released Popular Vote Totals. RealClearPolitics has estimated the popular vote totals for Senator Obama and Clinton in these four states. RCP uses the WA Caucus results from February 9 in this estimate because the Caucuses on February 9 were the “official” contest recognized by the DNC to determine delegates to the Democratic convention."

The estimation was based off of the percentage each candidate got in the caucus.

So using these estimations the popular vote stands as so.

Obama: 17, 869, 542
Clinton: 17, 717, 698

Obama has a lead of 151, 844

The only way she leads is if you count Michigan, however doing so is intellectually dishonest. It is assumed that a majority of the uncommitted vote would've gone to Obama if he were on the ballot. We do not know that exact number. At RCP if you add those four caucus states and give Obama the uncommitted vote then he still has a slight lead.

Besides whether you like it or not the popular vote doesn't matter. It doesn't matter in the Democratic nomination process since it is the delegates that matter. It doesn't matter in the general election since the president is selected by the electoral college. There were only four cases in our history where the winner of the popular vote did not become president.

I don't necessarily entirely agree with how the Democrats do their nomination process and I may not entirely agree with the electoral college. However at the end of the day it is delegates that mattered here. Obama got the number he needed. Also from the looks of it, he maintained a slight lead in the popular vote no matter how Clinton tried to spin it.

In a few days, or maybe weeks, we will all be focusing on the big match up. Barack Obama vs. John McCain.

An interesting note of trivia here. This election will give us the first sitting Congressman to become president since JFK.

For the most part on the issues both Obama and Clinton are largely similar. There are some differences. For example their stances on foreign policy. Clinton is more hawkish, Obama is not. I will do a blog later on the issues they share and disagree on so we can see how similar they are. For a Clinton supporter to call Obama a communist or vice versa, it is the pot calling the kettle black.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Obama Has Done It

Barack Obama has become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. Tonight he held his speech at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul Minnesota. It was a very significant and symbolic decision. In September the GOP will nominate John McCain as their candidate for the presidency.

Hillary Clinton declared that she will not make a decision tonight. It is speculated that she will be in talks with her campaign, Obama, and other party leaders to become Vice-President. I expect her to suspend her campaign by the end of the month. After watching her speech, which I thought was her best of the campaign, she did mention unity occasionally. If she was going to take it to Denver, she would've declared it tonight. She had the chance and she had the audience to do so. That audience would not have received her ending the campaign so easily.

Tonight was historic since it marked a black American as the candidate of a major political party in the USA.

John McCain gave a speech, but it was quickly dropped on CNN and MSNBC (Fox was playing it for a bit longer, no idea if they dropped it as well). CNN and MSNBC dropped it to focus on Obama crossing the threshold. It was a bad bad bad idea for McCain to give a speech tonight. He was totally overshadowed.

After the dust settles tomorrow we may see what Clinton's next move is. I firmly believe she will try to get in as VP. I do not know if she will be successful or if she would make the best choice. I do doubt that the party will be severely divided. I believe that the Democratic Party will come together and unify behind their ticket to take back the White House.

As an Obama volunteer I look forward to working on the campaign again. Let's get to it.

Is Tonight the Night?

Polls will close less than an hour in South Dakota. Polls will close at 10 EST in Montana.

As of writing this Sen. Obama is only 4 delegates away from clinching the nomination. Seeing that it is expected he will gain 15-18 pledged delegates tonight it is safe to say that he will be the presumptive nominee.

But what about Hillary? Is she conceding or not? The AP says so, but her camp denies it. However, what has been reported is this. At her speech tonight she was called some of her top backers and donors to be present. Any campaign staff member who is going home after the speech needs to get their own plane ticket. Her campaign won't pay for them. Additionally the Clinton campaign has asked their staffers to turn in their expense reports by the end of the week.

Perhaps the Clinton campaign wants to keep their conceding a surprise for the speech. Then again maybe she will press on and she certainly has every right to do so.

The AP has declared Obama the unofficial nominee.

Clinton apparently told a group of backers in a conference call that she is open to being Vice-President. Is that the best idea? In my opinion Obama should not pick Clinton, but rather someone who is from her side so to speak. If he does pick her I do believe that it can be a formidable ticket. I do foresee a very ugly smear campaign if they are a ticket.

Is that enough to ease over some Clinton backers? It may be. I believe that it will appeal to some of them, but not all of them. Certainly the more die-hard supporters will not be pleased. Geraldine Ferraro was on Fox and she did say that her being VP alone is not enough. She did not mention, or at least I did not catch anything pertaining to how Obama could win Ferraro over.

Both candidate's speeches tonight are expected to be the best either have given so far in the primary. I'm eagerly awaiting both. In a symbolic move Obama is having his speech Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota where the GOP will nominate John McCain in September.

We cannot deny that the Democratic race this year has been groundbreaking. History was made this season. Major civil rights legislation wasn't signed until the '60s. Women's suffrage on a national scale did not occur until 1920.

Personally I would like the race to wrap up tonight so the Democratic Party can focus on beating the GOP in November. It is still way to early to cast any predictions to how that may go. Obama has issues he needs to overcome as does John McCain.

I have been volunteering for Obama since late January. I was one of the early members of Wilkes-Barre for Obama. I'm very proud of what we have accomplished. I look forward to working on this campaign as a volunteer.

In a few hours we will all see what happens on this historic night. It all started when Obama won his first state January 3rd 2008.

History, as always, is in the making.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is ET a Peeping Tom?

I believe in aliens. The universe is too vast for other intelligent life not to exist. Something is out there definitely. But is this it?

The guy, Jeff Peckman, was originally going to show a video of an alien peering into his bedroom, but he's decided to save it for a documentary film. He is also trying to set up an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver. Peckman is claiming that credible people in the special effects biz have looked it over and believe that it is no hoax.

Now here is an alleged still from the film. There is no word on if this is actually from it, but most news sites are linking this image including AOL News.

If this is supposed to be the smoking gun then something is wrong. It doesn't look like anything really. To me it looks almost like the Punisher's logo. How anyone can see this as possibly being real is beyond me.

But then again maybe I'm wrong and this video will be the proof all of us alien enthusiasts have been hoping for.

New Tribe Discovered

Deep in Brazil's jungles, one the world's last remaining uncontacted indigenous tribes has been spotted and photographed for the first time from the air.

It is estimated that there are at least 100 other uncontacted tribes worldwide.

They were discovered by an anti-logging group during a helicopter patrol.

This is all really intersting. There are a few more photos which I'll link from the article.

I just hope that their discovery does not lead to this tribe's way of life being disturbed, but I believe it is likely that will occur.

Here is a picture of a tribe analyzed by the BBC in an attempt to give clues about how this tribe may live.