Thursday, August 26, 2010

Divorce of Woods and Nordegren Not Reflective of Tough Decisions Faced by Couples in the 'Real America'

The "nightmare" has finally ended for Elin Nordegren and bachelorhood begins anew for the world's # 1 sexual wanton, I mean golfer.

Divorce proceedings between Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren were finalized on Monday in Bay County Circuit Court in Panama City, FL. almost 9 months to the day that a car accident outside the family's Wildermere, FL. home set off a media firestorm that unearthed Woods multiple and repeated spats of infidelity, apparent sex addiction, and eventual reconnection with his Buddhism (since Woods' Buddhism is much more meaningful than everyone else's). Details of the divorce settlement were not disclosed but the divorce agreement filed by Nordegren revealed that the marriage was "irretrievably broken". No kidding! After at least 13 mistresses and more coming out of the woodworks almost daily, I'd be willing to go out on a limb and concur that Tiger and Elin's marriage was broken - Humpty Dumpty broken.

"We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future," the freshly annulled couple said in a statement released by Nordegren's law firm, McGuireWoods (go figure). It was also revealed that the former couple will share custody of their two children, Sam Alexis, 3 and Charlie Axel, 1. "While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us."

Meanwhile, Woods teed off Thursday morning at the Barclays Championship being played at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, NJ. Woods, who is chasing Jack Nicklaus' career record of 18 major championships (Tiger currently has 14), opened his round with 7 birdies and only 1 bogey, shooting a 6-under 65 to tie for the lead at the tournament, looking more like the Perkin's waitress, Las Vegas stripper indulging superstar that golf fans (think they) know and love than the hurt, distracted shell of his former self that has been on display for the past several months. In the 5 tournaments prior to the Monday's divorce settlement, Tiger missed the cut once, withdrew from another, and finished no better than 15th at the other three. When asked on Wednesday if he was "relieved" by the finalization of the divorce Woods said, "I don't think that's the word. I think it's just more sadness. Because I don't think you ever ... you don't ever go into a marriage looking to get divorced. That's the thing, that's why it's sad."

Well, when Woods is done being sad, bereaved, doleful, pensive or any other synonym that he'd like to use to contextualize the aftermath of his self-inflicted wound, he'll settle down in his brand new $40 million bachelor pad on Jupiter Island, FL. Nordegren will reportedly split time between her $2.29 million house in Stockholm, Sweden and the couples former residence in Wildermere that is now hers. That's certainly not reflective of the America that the rest of us retreat to after a divorce or a bad break-up.

In a July 30, 2010 New York Times article, Pamela Paul discusses the phenomenon of couples separating but choosing not to divorce for mainly financial reasons but also for logistical and social reasons. For many couples without the vast financial resources of Woods and Nordegren, the status of their marriages, fraught with broken vows and devoid of love, are relegated to the gray area between a physical separation and a legal one. In a market that is still reeling from the worldwide financial crisis (where's that recovery at again?), some couples are choosing to remain legally married rather than go through the financially and emotionally costly and time consuming process of litigating a divorce.

As you can imagine, there are many factors that go into making such a life-altering decision. Some couples can't afford the costs associated with unloading their homes, often times at greatly reduced prices. Others are dependent on the health insurance offered by their spouse's employer until they are old enough to qualify for Medicare. Still others are incapable of living on their own due to inadequate salaries and a developed dependence on the tax breaks and other government incentives doled out to married couples. For example, by federal law an ex qualifies for a share of a spouse’s Social Security payment if the marriage lasts a decade. In the case of more amicable divorces, financial advisers and lawyers may urge a couple who have been married eight years to wait until the dependent spouse qualifies.

For couples that decide to remain legally married while being emotionally/physically separated, they take upon themselves the potential for significant pecuniary risks in the future because their lives are still legally and financially intermingled. "If your estranged husband goes on a spending spree", Paul states, "you’re responsible for the ensuing credit card debt. If you win the lottery, that’s community property. Finances can swing wildly, creating an alimony boon or a bombshell should one partner eventually want a divorce." If the separation lasts until death, children, relatives and other survivors could be left with a mess of Lohanesque proportions.

There are many famous examples of couples separating without tying a legal bow around the dissolution of their marriage. Warren Buffet, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, separated from his wife Susan in 1977. They remained married until her death in 2004. The whole time he lived with his girlfriend Astrid Menks. As Paul mentions in her article, "The threesome remained close, even sending out holiday cards signed, “Warren, Susan and Astrid.” Something makes me think that Tiger and Elin won't be sending out Christmas cards signed "Tiger, Elin, Joslyn, Jaimee,..." anytime soon.

Like Woods and Nordegren, Buffet had considerable financial resources at his disposal to make the arrangements for himself and his wives more palatable. This is not the case for men and women faced with similar circumstances in 'the other America'. In Nordegren's case, even if she wasn't married to one of the richest athletes in the world while also being the daughter of a Swedish politician, Woods repeated and egregious extra-marital affairs probably would've prompted her to end their union. The fact remains that we can only talk in terms of 'what ifs' in Elin's case. In the America that the rest of us live in, hypotheticals are replaced by uncertainty about who will and how will mortgage payments, lawyers fees, tuition, and childcare be paid.

As we sort through the details of the couple's divorce and Tiger's second bachelorhood on and in the pages of other sources of tabloid fodder, let's not forget about those men and women on the side of the tracks that are not cast in the shadow of television trucks, cameras, microphones, tape recorders and the other tools of the 24-hour news cycle. Let's not forget about those men and women who agonize in obscurity as they sit at home alone or with their children, trapped in relationships with cheating, neglectful or otherwise abusive spouses, with little to no resources or prospects of escaping.

These are the faces and names that should be flashed across the television screens on E! and in Google news feeds. After the momentary inconvenience of this week's media onslaught, Tiger, Elin and their 2 beautiful children will go on to lead lives that are happy, healthy, and relatively normal. They do not need our sympathies. Our collective hearts should belong to those men and women who are suffering through the disintegration of their greatest hopes, dreams, aspirations, self-identity and self-worth in silence.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Law of Unintended Consequences

The Law of Unintended Consequences - idiomatic warning that an intervention in a complex system always creates unanticipated outcomes.

I'm a terrible son. No, really. I am.

I never call my mom. My sister frequently sends me text messages to let me know how disappointed my mom is that I didn't come over when I said I would or cancelled a dinner date at the last minute. It's hard for me to admit but I'm still extremely bitter at the level of selfishness that my mom displayed when I was a little kid. She would leave for days on end, out with friends binge drinking and doing drugs, while I cuddled up next to my grandmother, who I affectionately called "mama" while I called my birth mother by her first name, Patricia. My grandmother, who battled obesity and heart disease for most of her life, worried so much about the safety of my mother and all of her children and grandchildren that she eventually worried herself into an early grave.

I still have difficulty wrapping my brain around the level of callous disregard that would allow a mother to leave her children at home alone while she danced and drank at the local hole in the wall saloon. My little sister is too young to remember those long walks on chilly autumn days when my aunts, after they got tired of watching us, kicked us out of the house, telling us not to come back until we found our mother.

I wish that I had been too young to forget.

When my mom called this past Saturday, a part of me wanted to let it go to voicemail. My mom is such a worry wort and I have very little patience for worriers. I knew that, without fail, within 5 minutes of picking up her call I would be hanging up, frustrated because my mom was raising her blood pressure (and mine) over someone or something that she had no control over. I would also be frustrated because my mom would be sad that she couldn't have more than a 5 minute conversation with her first born child.

I'm so glad that I answered her call.

My mother is in a much better place now. She has been clean and sober for over 7 years now. She is a nurse at a great nursing home in Lincoln Park and just moved into a new apartment this month, leaving behind the abusive boyfriend that enabled her for years before she got clean. He's battling a recurrence of throat cancer now so I guess there is a law of reciprocity operating in the universe. Like any mother, she still worries about me even though I've been on my own for 8 years now. She always asks how my job is going, whether I have enough to eat, and if I've met someone special yet. More than anything, she worries about my little sister Candice.

Like my mom, Candice became a mother at a young age. My mom was 20 when she had me. Candice is only 18. The father is almost twice her age and as useless as he is old. My little sister looks up to our mom and that's why she is attending school this fall with the intention of study nursing. I love my sister with all my heart. She is beautiful, smart, loving, gregarious, and funny - basically all the things that I'm not. I sheltered her from a lot of the negativity that infested our family because I knew that I was mature beyond my years and could handle it. My expectations for her were so high and I think that's why I was so disappointed when I found out that she was pregnant. That's why I'm still so disappointed.

My grandfather and uncle were disappointed with my mom when he found out that she was pregnant. Like my sister, my mom was in college studying nursing when she got knocked up. My grandfather wanted the best for his daughter and her future so he gave her $200 and made an appointment for her at Planned Parenthood. My mom took the long train ride from our south side neighborhood down to Clark and Division. She went into Planned Parenthood three times. Each time she would sit in the waiting room for a few minutes reading a magazine and then abruptly leave, claiming each time that "she was hungry." Eventually, with the help of my grandmother, my mother stood up to my grandfather and her brother and told them that she was keeping the baby. This was the first time that my mom had relayed this story to me. I can't explain how much more I appreciate my mom and my life in general than after hearing how close I was to not being here.

The Law of Unintended Consequences at its best.

My mother went on to tell me how I could read the newspaper at the age of 4 amd, at age 5, I was reading the sales papers and mail to my grandmother, who couldn't read and could barely write. We talked about how I would look for special promotions in the newspaper like Funny Hat Night at Comiskey Park so that our less than wealthy family could afford to go to Comiskey Park and take in a baseball game. I wouldn't let my mom put her hat on until we got right in front of the gates. My mom talked with a mixture of pride and disdain at my ability at an early age to decipher the matrix of movie showtimes, making sure that Freddy's Dead and other horrible movies that little kids like were playing on her days off. In the aftermath of all the negativity that had engulfed our family, I had forgotten about all of the good times we shared.

None of that would've been possible if my mom hadn't been so damn hungry all the time.

My mother is so proud of what I've become. She tells anyone that will listen about her handsome son that graduated from DePaul with Honors. She walks past the DePaul bookstore on the way to and from work and wants to buy matching "DePaul Alumni" shirts for us. I refuse to wear DePaul branded merchandise but I gave her my blessing to wear whatever she wants. My mom wants me to go back to school for a graduate degree and to have some grandchildren so that she can spoil them. More than anything, she wants me to stand by my little sister the way I used to when all we had was each other.

"I know you're disappointed 'D'. Your sister made a mistake and I know you want the best for her but Jaden is here now and there's nothing you can do about it. Your sister loves you so much. She is always talking about you. It breaks her heart when you won't return her calls. The best thing that you can do as a big brother is to support her and your nephew. Just like no one knew that you would grow up to become this exceptional young man, you don't know what Jaden will grow up to be."

It's the least I can do in payment for my mom stepping out into the dark, not knowing where she would land. The least I can do is to show my little sister and nephew the same love and consideration for life that my mom and, eventually, grandmother, grandfather, uncles, and aunts showed for my life.

After being angry and bitter for so long because of all selfish, hurtful things my mom did to me, I'm so thankful for what she chose not to do.

Here's to second and third chances.

Here's to filling your heart with love when hate would be easier.

Here's to hoping like hell that little Jaden takes his time figuring out those movie times.

Things That Make Me Laugh

Dancing pandas. Enough said.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Insomnia Strikes Again

My sleep pattern is officially screwed.

After a Friday filled with wine (4 glasses to be exact; In Vino Veritas), great conversation with friends (true friends, not the conditional ones that my 3.5 years in college seems to have garnered), and the absolute best veal vesuvio that I've ever had (shout out to Peiro at Trattoria Isabella), I now find myself wide awake at 3:20 a.m. on Saturday morning watching baseball highlights on the MLB Network, shaving, and making a to-get list for my much anticipated maiden voyage to the recently opened Target on Broadway.

Such is the life of a 26 year old insomniac.

Well, I'm not technically an insomniac. I don't lose sleep more than two nights a week and a lack of sleep isn't adversely affecting the quality of my work. My co-worker are handling that part of this production very well. It's just that this whole waking up in the middle of the night thing is becoming sort of a pattern. How much of a pattern you ask? A "I did the exact same thing yesterday morning but an hour later" type of pattern. I'm beginning to wonder when my adoring public will see me crying in a courtroom with "Fuck You" painted on my fingernails because of my wonky sleeping habits.
Okay, that's creepy in more than one way but you follow me (Right?! Right?!).

I've had a lot of things on my mind lately. No more than a 21 year old DeAngelo had on his mind, just more pertinent to my sex life, job status, checkbook, mental health, and livelihood in general. I have so many questions about myself and others that seem to be clogging up the old synapsises and neuro receptors in my old brain (wow, I just slipped into nerd talk). Questions like:

1. Why does the Republican Party still exist?
2. Why is President Obama such a pussy when it comes to Fox News?
3. Why are all of the cool girls married (or otherwise beholden to some douche) and all of the non-cool girls so plentiful?
4. Why is Sarah Palin relevant in any intelligent conversation about anything?
5. What's Lindsay Lohan doing right at this moment?
6. If you take the Velvetta cheese off of the (insert your fav combination of meat, vegetables, and tortillas), is it still considered Tex-Mex?
7. Is the bird really the word?

I used to be such an idealist. For God's sake (sarcasm) I said that "the world is always getting better" in my publish book of photography. Now I realize that the world is getting more populated, more polluted, more retarded, more something but it certainly isn't trending in this linear pattern towards that distant star known only as "better" to 15 year old DeAngelo. And they say that constant, vigorous masturbation doesn't effect mental health.

I'm worried about the world that we've (especially my generation, Generation "Why?") inherited. There is widespread and rampant poverty and famine. There are wars or rumors of war almost everyday. Entire governments are going broke from decades of fiscal irresponsibility and corruption. Our education systems, where they even exist, are producing automatons, not free-thinking, analytical scholars. Our relationships with each other are becoming more frayed, regressing to a primative form of tribalism where your race, ethnicity, religion, and political affiliation is more of an identifier of who you are (and who you are not) instead of simply being an aspect (an insignificant one at that) of your overarching humanity.

This all sounds eerily similar to the biblical book of Revelations. Jesus H. Christ! As an atheist, I think I just vomited a little holy wine and stale bread in my mouth.

The point is that I think about this confluence of events and it keeps me up at night sometimes. I wonder whether there's any hope for this world or are we spiraling uncontrollably towards an inevitable date with oblivion. I know in my rational mind that I'm just one person and that, for the most part, a lot of these happenings are largely out of my control but that doesn't stop me from owning my part of this whole conundrum.

What can I do to leave the world a better place than it was bequeathed to me? Is it as simple as not throwing my used gum on the ground, letting it mellow if it's yellow, and reducing my carbon footprint by taking less breaths (the stupidest concept the crazy tree huggers have ever come up with and they've come up with some pretty stupid shit). Or is it more than that? Is it standing up for the rights of the individual even if you don't agree with their premises (Dr. Laura anyone)? Is it speaking the truth unabashedly at the most inopportune times at the risk of that esoteric thing known as your reputation?

Who knows. It could be all of the above or none of the above. What is certain is that the answer starts with the individual doing something. Whether you take the lefthand path or the right one, take a path because the middle road is always the one to perdition. If you're going to believe something, at the very least know why you believe that something. If you're going to do something, at the very least know why you're going to do that something and stick with it.

And for the sake Of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, stop giving two shits about what the hell the limp dicks at Fox News thinks!

Wow, I feel so much better now. Maybe the world is getting better and better everyday. Nope, wait a minute, that's just the Tylenol PM that I took 20 minutes ago kicking in.

Time to doze off with the soothing sounds of Law & Order playing in the background. I have to get my rest for tomorrow (more like later today) I'll get another opportunity to make the world less fucked up one awkward encounter with a maladjusted pants pisser at a time.

Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

GOP Hopes in November Anchored to "Anchor Babies"

“The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.”
--Ayn Rand

The Grand Ole Party is at it again with their grand ole, tried and true fear tactics.

This time, the party of fear mongers is attempting to incite a race and class warfare by slinging their feces at the collective American garage door and calling our attention to the issue of "anchor babies". For those of you unfamiliar with the phrase, "anchor babies" is a derogatory term used by immigration reductionists in the United States to describe a child born in the U.S. to illegal aliens. It describes the role of the child, who as a U.S. citizen through the legal principle of jus soli, may be used to facilitate immigration for relatives through family reunification. It is a derivative of the term "anchor child", used to describe young Vietnamese nationals who brought their relatives to America in the aftermath of the war in Vietnam.

If there's one thing that we can all agree on it's that our friends in the Republican Party are very good at coming up with colorful labels for people they don't like. "Conservatives are very, very good at using metaphors and defining people in their own terms, and they use it to their advantage", says Don Nilsen, a socio-linguist and professor at Arizona State University. "It's very succinct. These are called labels of primary potency ... a term that goes straight to the gut."

In August of 2006, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn received two complaints from readers after he called for the arrest and deportation of Elvira Arellano, a woman holding sanctuary in a Chicago church. Zorn referred to her child as an "anchor baby." Zorn argued that the term had appeared in newspaper stories since 1997"usually softened by quotations as in my column." He said in a subsequent column that he regretted his use of the phrase and promised not to use it again.

The issue of so-called "anchor babies" comes to the forefront of American consciousness as Arizona attempts to enforce SB1070, their radical immigration policy which amounts to no less than legalized racial profiling. The totally irrational neo-conservative line of thinking seems to go something like this -- If we're going to spend all of these taxpayer dollars to deport illegal immigrants we had better take care of their children born here in the good old USA. We wouldn't want these sons and daughters of illegal immigrants trying to bring their relatives back that we just got rid of using family reunification.

While this line of thinking makes complete and total sense to the men and women who identify themselves as conservatives, specifically Tea Party members, because they have this seemingly visceral fear that their once lilly white country is being taken over by black, brown, and yellow insurgents led by the birth certificate-less first non-white POTUS Barack Obama (who is actually half white but that complicates their premises), their line of reasoning is faulty and the actions that their leadership is proposing could reanimate the corpses of racial, ethnic, and immigrant profiling that've been buried in our republic's not so distant past.

The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is the piece of legislation currently in the crosshairs of Sen. Lindsay Graham, Rep. John Boehner, and the rest of their Republican colleagues as they march towards November's mid-term elections. Boehner (how is his surname not pronounced "boner"?) and his colleagues seem to either be completely devoid of a proper understanding of the history surrounding the 14th Amendment or are consciously ignoring it (I think it's the latter) in their all out sprint toward political expediency.

The 14th Amendment was adopted on July 9th, 1868 as one of the Reconstruction Amendments following the Civil War. There are several clauses outlined in the amendment, the clause most pertinent to the current political debate being the Citizenship Clause. Section 1 of the 14th Amendment formally defines citizenship and protects a person's civil and political rights from being usurped by the states. This was Congresses response to the Dred Scott decision, a decision by the United States Supreme Court that ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants — whether or not they were slaves — were not protected by the Constitution and could never be citizens of the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had already granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States; the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment added this principle into the Constitution to prevent the Supreme Court from ruling the Civil Rights Act of 1866 to be unconstitutional for lack of congressional authority to enact such a law or a future Congress from altering it by a mere majority vote.

Aside from being intentionally or unintentionally devoid of the constitutional implications of their proposed legislative actions, Boehner, Graham and their sycophants also seem to lack a proper understanding of the potential cultural effects of denying the constitutionally guaranteed right of citizenship to the offspring of illegal aliens.

Hiroshi Motomura, the Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, in his piece entitled "A Long, Unfortunate Tradition", states that we run the risk of creating an underclass that is not fomented by border crossing or overstaying a visa, but in the cradles and nurseries of our local hospitals. "...rewriting the 14th amendment is deeply troubling for several reasons. One is pragmatic — a large marginalized underclass that knows only this country as home is a formula for national tragedy. Second, it is essential that citizenship reflect basic principles of justice, so we must remember that these innocent children did not cho[o]se their parents or birthplace. And their parents have come to America as part of an economic system that has for generations tolerated and even encouraged them to immigrate outside the law as a workforce essential to national prosperity."

Unfortunately, the concept of legislating undesirable people out of the fabric of the American patchwork quilt is nothing new for pols on the right and, to the surprise of many self-righteous Liberals, even on the left. In 1996 the GOP adopted, as a part of their national platform, the support for a constitutional amendment or constitutionally backed legislation "declaring that children born in the United States of parents who are not legally present in the United States or who are not long-term residents are not automatically citizens."

Peter Schrag, the former editorial page editor and columnist of the Sacramento Bee, decries the rehatching of a immigration philosophy that he has bore witness to before. "The first time I heard a member of Congress propose a change in the 14th Amendment to deny birthright citizenship of the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants was during the recession of 1993. That lawmaker wasn't one of the Republicans now calling for hearings and a national “conversation” about the issue. It was Rep. Anthony Beilenson, a staunchly liberal Democrat from the West Side of Los Angeles. The following year, California passed Proposition 187, the initiative that sought to deny all public services, including schooling, to illegal aliens and their children." Proposition 187, also known as Save Our State (SOS) was later struck down as unconstitutional by District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer. Several years ago, Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, also sponsored legislature to the same effect. As Dirty Harry is prone to do, he later backtracked.

Also lost to the folks that support a re-defining of the 14th Amendment is the tremendous amount of attention and financial resources that will have to be diverted from pressing issues such as rampant unemployment, two wars with no apparent end in sight, the continuing efforts to clean-up the largest oil spill in U.S. history, and real immigration reform that respects the humanity of the people already here while laying out America's immigration policy in clear terms. As Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former deputy assistant to the president in the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations duly noted, "...amending the 14th Amendment -- which would require a vote of two-thirds of both the House and the Senate, followed by a ratification of three-fourths of the state legislatures -- is a distraction from necessary things that need to be done, including securing the southern border, toughening enforcement policies and expediting the legal process to cut the average deportation time."

One of the sycophants in support of denying citizenship to the American born offspring of undocumented immigrants is conservative commentator Michelle Malkin. Malkin, herself born in the United States to alien parents who were on temporary visas at the time, has asserted that "the custom of granting automatic citizenship at birth to children of tourists and temporary workers such as Yaser Esam Hamdi, tourists, and to countless 'anchor babies' delivered by illegal aliens on American soil, undermines the integrity of citizenship—not to mention national security". If America could finally rid itself of the likes of Mrs. Malkin, I'm sure that every undocumented person in the coutry would gladly volunteer for this heroic form of martyrdom.

The placebo that the Republican Party is currently attempting to sell to their fearful, xenophobic constituency will not alleviate the immigration crisis that politicians on the left and the right claim that we have in our country. Incumbents locked in tight re-election campaigns and newcomers hoping to add their cog to the political machinery are endorsing this blatant brand of fear mongering because they know that it will serve to garner votes in tightly contested Republican primaries before they are conveniently discarded during the general election for a more populist, middle-of-the-road style of politicking deployed to bring everyone into the tent come election day. The sad news in all of this is that the American people have seen this farce before and, yet, we continue to [over]react to these emotional silver bullets meant to activate our innate nervous system responses when we are faced with a perceived threat. Let' s not forget that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

As Professor Motomura states, "A wall around citizenship reflects the same sort of false hope that responds to economic crisis in Mexico with higher border fences, or to drugs with more prisons, or to conflict with more troops." Additionally, the Republican Party is sowing the seeds of its own obsolescence by disengaging from the largest growing segment of our population in the most offensive way possible. How many Latino voters, who are currently watching the Republican Party question their own citizenship while simultaneously deporting their friends and relatives, will support the GOP in future elections? Will the Cuban electorate in Miami, a traditionally Republican segment, continue to blindly support the GOP in lieu of coming to the aid of their Latino brothers and sisters?

Americans who claim to wear the mantle of conservatism need to wake up and recognize political expediency when they see it. These are the same tactics that were used to buffer the perceived threat of natives and immigrants alike by xenophobes hell-bent on claiming every parcel of land and every natural resource for themselves and their posterity. Our elected officials have learned from history, specifically the Dred Scott decision, that it is alot easier and alot more palatable to our public sensibilities and self-righteousness to de-nationalize someone than it is to de-humanize them. What we are seeing with the contemporary issue of "anchor babies" is a re-enactment of the vitriol levied against the Native Americans, African Diaspora, Irish, German, Jews, Polish, Latino Diaspora, Asian Diaspora and every other group that has ever come to America's shores looking for greater opportunity, freedom, and a safe haven from persecution - it is a hatred for people based solely on who they are, where they come from, and the ire that develops between and amongst disparate people when there is increased competition for limited resources.

We, the so-called conservatives, need to be on the front lines of any egregious attack against the individual rights of OUR FELLOW AMERICANS, and these are OUR FELLOW AMERICANS. We, the so-called conservatives, should be the first people who are up in arms at the notion of modifying the greatest living treatise to civil liberties the world has ever known because it polls well and is politically expedient to a bunch of narcissist whose only concern is maintaining the amount of suction they have on the nipple of the American people in perpetuity. As Peter Wehner stated in his post Hazardous Symbolism, "It would also be a dramatic and unnecessary break with precedent. As a general matter, conservatives oppose tinkering with the Constitution, especially for empty causes."

Friends, the cause of amending the Constitution to eliminate "anchor babies" is as empty as the cast of Jersey Shore is talented. That shouldn't surprise anyone with a drop of political awareness seeing as this ridiculous, tasteless, and offensive notion is coming from, what the Obama administration has rightly labeled as, the party of No Ideas.

For all of our sakes, I hope the Republicans have finally reached the bottom of the well so that the real conservatives can begin to re-attach the pieces of our tattered and torn Constitution.

From the Bureau Of...

From the bureau of Holy Creepy Tom Cruise Wax Figurines Batman!

And you thought the real Tomcat was weird enough.

From the bureau of Just Dance!

This little tike gets an early lesson in male - female relations. Very cute nonetheless.

From the bureau of That'll Need Stitches!!!

Giants QB Eli Manning sees man-to-man coverage on his receiver to the right of the formation and changes the play from a run to a pass. Apparently, no one told that to 260 lb running back Brandon Jacobs who proceeds to jar the ball loose from Manning shortly after he receives the snap. The rest you have to see for yourself. Mothers, don't let your sons grow up to be football players.

From the bureau of Damn, That's Bogus!!!

German popstar Nadja Benaissa is currently on trial facing accusations that she infected a man with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Benaissa admited in court yesterday that she had unprotected sex with a man knowing that she was HIV positive.

Benaissa, 28, a member of German girl band No Angels, is charged with grievous bodily harm for allegedly infecting a partner with the virus in 2004 and also faces charges of attempted bodily harm for having unprotected sex with two other men.
"I am sorry from my heart," she said in a statement read by her lawyer to the Darmstadt administrative court. "No way did I want my partner to be infected."

A verdict is expected August 26th. She could face several years in prison if found guilty, although her acknowledgment of wrongdoing is expected to result in a milder punishment. Several years in prison for knowingly transmitting a potentially fatal and, at the very least, certainly dibilitating disease? Looks like Benaissa is good at getting off on unknowing male suitors as well as the law.

I think that the German people should take into consideration making the intentional transmission of a potentionally fatal virus a capitol offense punishable by death in the most eggregious cases and life imprisonment without the possibility of parole at the very least. What Ms. Benaissa did is a form of biological terrorism comparable to the attrocities levied against the Kurds by Saddam Hussein and against the Jews by Adolf Hitler that should be punished with a level of force equal to Ms. Benaissa's maliciousness.

What do you think? Should the knowing transmission of the HIV virus to an unknowing recepient be a capitol offense?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cubs Notes - A Star on the Horizon

Entering play today, Cubs rookie shortstop Starlin Castro has 100 hits and a .318 batting average, 1st amongst all National League shortstops. He is 17 at-bats shy of qualifying for the batting title. If he wins, he would be the youngest player in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish that feat. Two 20 year olds have won batting titles in MLB history -- Ty Cobb in 1907 and Al Kaline in 1955. Both turned 21 the following December. Starlin Castro doesn't turn 21 until next March 24th. The Cubs may be 20 games under .500 but next year and every year after is defintely here in the form of Starl in Castro.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Revolution Is Currently Being Televised

Below is my response to a post by my good friend Becky on her blog Which End is Up!?. Don't be fooled by the partisan rhetoric coming from the Obama administration and the liberal left and Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilly's conservative right. We are facing a crisis of resources and confidence in this country that could potentially bear the fruits of revolution. The solutions to the problems that ail our country will not come from the courts or the legislatures but from real people sowing the seeds of liberty in their daily lives.
There's an interesting article on Huffington Post today about the potential for another lost generation of workers due to overwhelming levels of unemployment currently being experienced by my fellow Generation Yers. Most people in my age group have little to no traditional work experience (office, warehouse, lab, etc.), working at coffee shops, clothing stores, and other retail outlets instead. In a down economy, retail jobs are usually the first to be sacrificed. Exacerbating this problem is the far reaching nature of this economic downturn. There are people out there with tremendous skill sets and work experience that can be had on the cheap by companies (who are reaping massive profits by cutting workers and/or hiring cheaper labor as you mentioned in an older post) so they hire those folks in lieu of younger workers with little to no experience. With hundreds of thousands of baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security benefits everyday and state budgets across the country in disaray due to fiscal irresponsibility and the growing burden on social welfare programs, the lack of tax revenue in the form of payroll taxes and Social Security contributions on and by young workers will likely deepen the recession before glimpses of a recovery are seen. Couple this with the partisan pandering and game playing going on in Washington that you discuss in this post, including those of Michelle Bachmann who I briefly met and actually had a slight affinity towards, and the possibility of a major uprising of revolutionary proportions is not outside of the realm of possibility. My biggest fear is that a government that is solely concerned with protecting its own sovereignty wouldn't hesitate to use force to crush an uprising of its own creation (think G8 Conference meets 1968 Chicago riots) and would swiftly pass legislation that further restricts civil liberties. The two things that the French revolutionaries had on their side were the changing tide of history and poorly designed streets that allowed them to ambush the militias of the aristocracy. Napolean made sure to widen the streets when he came to power so that the peasantry wouldn't be able to lauch guerilla attacks with such ease. Architects here in America made sure to lay out city streets in a grid pattern for the same purposes (see That's why it's so important to have writers such as yourself who don't pander to the left, the right, the middle, or the fundamentalist pols that have infiltrated the Tea Party movement but who candidly and frankly discuss the hostile takeover of our country by this corporatist, elitist, expansionist ideology that has no true party affiliation and that is not only permeating our governmental institutions but those of other developed and developing countries. Great post as usual Becks.

August 13, 2010 10:52 AM

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kenny Fuckin' Powers Teams Up With K-Swiss (Video)

Kenny Powers, the star character from the HBO hit original series Eastbound and Down, has teamed up with K-Swiss and harnessed his rocket arm, genius mind, and fucking awesomeness into K-Swiss' recent foray into the cross trainer market, Tubes. Addidas, Nike, and New Balance, you're fuckin' out, K-Swiss is fuckin' in. Now that you're all lubed up, enjoy these K-Swiss commercials. Get me paid bitch! K-Muthafuckin'-Swiss!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunrise Over Chicago

When was the last time that you stayed up all night and watched the sun rise in the morning? If you're like me it's been a long, long time. That's exactly what I did Sunday morning after a night of birthday celebrations, tequila shots, bikers and public porn viewing. Jenny, Mike, and I got back to Jenny's Ukrainian Village apartment a little after 5 A.M. We planned to go to the Cubs vs. Reds game that afternoon to culminate Jenny's birthday weekend so it made perfect sense to stay up and booze at Wrigley with no sleep.

We took a couple of chairs up on her rooftop patio just as the pall of the night before gave way to the magnificent radiance of the morning sun.

What a beautiful sight! The orange glow of the morning sun dispersed the clouds revealing blue skies that looked like they extended from Cicero to the Lakefront and from Evanston to 95th and the Dan Ryan expressway.

Looking out over the city that I've called home all of my life, the yards, rooftops, garages, and skyscrapers had a luster that I'd never noticed before. Mike began to talk about his experiences living in New York while pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. He talked about how, no matter what burrough you're from, everyone in New York is a New Yorker first. He wants Chicagoans to have the same pride in their city and in each other. We live in such a beautiful, clean city with history around virtually every corner. We're so provincialized in our thinking. We're not from Chicago, we're from Uptown, Wrigleyville, Pilsen, Rogers Park, Andersonville, Bronzeville, Hyde Park, and the various other neighborhoods divided by race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and culture. There's so much to appreciate when you step out of your predestined space to explore the world beyond the veil. There's nothing new under the sun so follow the sun and you're sure to find something that you've never seen before, experience something that you've never experienced.

Mike recently quit his job as a server to devote himself full time to stand-up and writing. He has a confidence in me that I don't have in myself. Mike's always asking if I'm writing and if I want to hangout with him at the local comedy clubs to hone my on-stage skills. He laughs at all of my jokes and seems to believe that I have what it takes to join him and his crew as they set out to revitalize the Chicago comedic scene. While we were sitting on the rooftop, throwing back a few Miller Lites, Mike gave me a refrain that I've heard a billion times from friends and close acquaintances over the past few months:

"D, you're a really smart guy. You're nice looking to. You gotta stop looking so deep into things. Sometimes things are just what they are. That's where you'll find your comedy, right there in the simplicity of life. Be confident that what you have to offer to the world is what the world is missing. There will always be someone that doesn't like what you say, what you do, what you write, or what you look like. Put them out of your mind and move on. You're drowning yourself in a pool of self-doubt!"

That speech didn't make me want to quit my job but there is a profound truth in Mike's words and in the words of Ray, Alex, Becks, Jenny, my mom and so many others who have more confidence in me than I have in myself.

Watching the sun rise early Sunday morning made me remember an old refrain from the Negro National Anthem that our music teacher would lead us in every morning before class in high school. I don't think I had a proper understanding of those words, words that were written with the blood of so many slaves, abolitionist, Civil Rights activist, and brave freedom fighters all across the African diaspora and beyond. Standing on that rooftop, half unconscious from a lack of sleep combined with the after effects of cheap bourbon on my body and mind, I was shot full of new life and motivation by that timeless affirmation:

"Facing the rising sun, of our new day begun. Let us march on 'til victory is won!"

Today would've been the 73rd birthday celebration for my grandfather Leverne Jones. My grandfather was the prototypical Leo -- strong willed, stubborn to a fault, and very loyal.

I'll never forget my grandfather for many reasons. He took me into his home when my grandmother, his wife, died suddenly from heart failure in 1993, destroying what was to that point a strong, tight knit family. I was devoid of a positive male role-model up until that point. My grandfather taught me the importance of working hard to earn your daily bread, that education was the key that would unlock my future, and to always look for those things that we share in common with people and not the small number of things that separate us. My grandfather was extremely charismatic and engaging. He knew everybody because he spoke to everyone, always knowing what to say after a few moments of attentive listening. Women fell in love with him after one look at his cocoa brown skin contrasted by his green eyes and white hair.

He gave me my first copies of Nietzsche, Catcher in the Rye, and Sun Tzu. He took me to the German restaurant that his old boss, who grew up in the Black Forest of Bavaria, would frequent. That's where I learned to appreciate raw steak and pickled pig's feet. Every other Sunday my grandfather would make the best corned beef and cabbage that I've ever had. He told me that it was the family recipe of his great-great grandfather Grant Parker, who immigrated to America from Ireland and fell in love with my grandfather's great-great grandmother, a beautiful woman of French, African, and Natchez Indian ancestry. Grant Parker made sure that all of his children learned how to read, write and tend the land for their living, drawing the ire of white families in his community who didn't want Grant's darker skinned children to be literate. He was labeled as a "nigger lover" for the rest of his life. My mother, aunts, uncles, cousin, sister and I are all the fruits of Grant Parker's labor.

Some of my fondest memories are those Sundays when we would get up at 7 A.M. and take the Halsted bus down to the flea market on Maxwell Street. It was still called "Jew Town" back then, an homage to the market's Jewish origins. We'd grab a cup of coffee brewed with cinnamon sticks, steak tacos with cilantro and onions, and walk up and down the rows upon rows of clothes, socks, cleaning products, video games, produce and, my grandfather's favorite, giardiniera, artichoke hearts, and olive oil from the Italian grocers. We continued this weekly ritual for several years and three locations and I looked forward to making the trip more and more every time.

As loving and thoughtful of a man as my grandfather was, he also had a dark side. He displayed the signs of alcoholism early on, spending many nights at the bars downtown instead of being at home in my mom's youth. The problem appears to have been exacerbated by the death of his infant son from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and, finally, by the sudden death of his first wife. Seagram's 7 Crown was his drink of choice but Mad Dog 20/20 or Popov's vodka would do just fine. When my grandfather drank he turned from a thoughtful, considerate man of incredible intelligence to a belligerent, violent man who thought that everyone, including his own children and grandchildren, were out to take what he had worked so hard to garner over the past 40 years.

Nothing was more embarrassing (and funny) than watching my grandfather go out on the porch in nothing but his briefs and a pot belly to yell at the kids (most of them my friends) that were playing in the streets in front of his green stucco Victorian mansion. There were those times when he would walk to my high school, conveniently located 2 blocks away, and barge in on my classes (he knew all of the security guards and drank with most of them), unshaven and reeking of Pall Mall cigarettes and cheap Canadian whiskey. Nothing was as scary as watching my grandfather fall on a patch of black ice, breaking two of his ribs as he attempted to walk to the store in freezing temperatures to get his daily fix.

Nothing was more heartbreaking than coming home from school only to find that my television, new computer, and video games had all been stolen. My grandfather frequently hired heroin and crack addicts from the neighborhood to perform odd jobs around the main house and coach house. They took advantage of one of his frequent drunken spats of forgetfulness, where he would journey outside for hours on end leaving doors unlocked and windows wide open.

I'll never forget the day that my grandfather got tired of taking care of me. He called the police and had them take me away. he told them that he didn't want me anymore and didn't care where they took me. I stayed in a juvenile detention center for one harrowing night until my great uncle Fred, my grandfather's older brother, came and took me into his home. I never forgave nor forgot what my grandfather did to me that night.

It was heartbreaking to see this man that had once been so strong and active bed ridden as liver and lung cancer spread mercilessly through his body. There was also a little part of me that felt that his condition was restitution for all the pain and suffering he caused when alcohol took over his life. His oncologist, a beautiful Brazilian woman, told me that he had less than two weeks to live and that I should make him as comfortable as I possibly could. I spent days feeding him ice, washing the sores that had developed on his body, and helping the orderly change his diaper, bed pan, and sheets. It was such a surreal experience. Here I was in Illinois Masonic Hospital, an institution founded and funded by the secret society that three generations of Jones men have sworn loyalty to. I wasn't just helping to wash my grandfather, I was performing a last rites of sorts for my brother.

One of the nurses walked in. He was a big guy that had recently returned from a deployment in Iraq as a field nurse. We made small talk while he checked my grandfather's vitals. It turns out that he was a member of the Order as well. He asked me if the man in the bed was my father. "No, this is my grandfather but he's the closest thing to a father that I've ever known". At that moment my grandfather slowly opened his eyes, looked at me and then turned his gaze to the nurse. "This is my son DeAngelo. This is my son." Those were the first words that my grandfather had spoken in a week. Those turned out to be his last words to me.

I pulled the sheets up over his shoulders, turned the tv in the room to PBS (his favorite channel), and kissed him goodbye. I promised him that I would come and see him after work the next day. As I was about to leave, he moaned as if he was in pain. I rushed back to his bedside to see what was wrong. He lifted his frail arms as if to say that he wanted a hug. I embraced him and gave him a final kiss on the forehead. When I looked at his face there were tears in his eyes.

The next morning, July 13th, 2009, my mom called me a little after 9:00 A.M. to tell me that he was gone. I had been at work for about 30 minutes and had just told my boss Barbara that I might have to leave if his condition worsened. I tried to hold back the tears but they flowed from a place that I didn't have access to before. As I rode the Brown Line to the hospital I thought about all the moments, good and bad, that I had shared with my grandfather. He was there when I first picked up my one true love, the game of baseball. He was there when I gave salutatorian address for my 8th grade graduating class and again, 4 years later, when I was the valedictorian of my high school graduating class. My grandfather was there for my graduation from the Honors program at DePaul. He was overwhelmed with joy as I walked across the stage at the Allstate arena with the graduating class of 2006.

As I walked into his hospital room there was nothing but silence. No more breathing machines and heart monitors. Just silence. There he was laying there finally in peace. My mother had arrived before me and performed the unenviable task of closing her father's eyes. She was holding his right hand. I went over and touched his forehead. He was still warm. At that moment, none of the drunken tirades mattered anymore. There was only the finality of that moment, the realization that I would never see the man most responsible for any success that I've had in my short life again. No more alcohol, cigarettes, pain, guilt, lost opportunities, bad decisions, and fear. At that moment, even the atheist in me hoped for the existence of an afterlife where my grandfather would be reunited with his mother Roxie and father Grant Parker Jones, all of his brothers and sisters who preceded him in death, his late wife Ruthie Mae, and his infant son who he lost so long ago.

There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of my grandfather Leverne. His love for life, food, books, and people opened my eyes and heart to the world outside of our little neighborhood. His life long battle with alcoholism fueled my desire to help those people who are unable to help themselves overcome this vicious, pervasive disease. I owe everything that I have and all the things that I hope to obtain to his presence in my life. His favorite phrase was "you have to take the bitter with the sweet". Everyday since July 13th, 2009 has been bitter sweet.

I love you dad. I'll do everything in my power to continue to live a life that you would be proud of; the life that you wish you would've lived.

Happy birthday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Would Somebody Please Give Brett Favre a Snickers?!

Similar to Aretha Franklin in the preceding Snicker's commercial, whenever a member of the media puts a tape recorder in the face of Brett Favre after one of his off season workouts at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, MS., he turns into a diva. Unfortunately for those of us who turn to ESPN looking for sports but are instead inundated with countless updates on the latest installment of Favregate, Hershey doesn't make a Snickers bar big enough to quinch the hunger for attention that this media man whore has displayed after each of the last 3 seasons.

What do you want from us Brett?

Your annual inability to come to some sort of definitive conclusion on your availability to play in the upcoming season makes the indecisive nature that you displayed in this Sears commercial (below) look like fiction imitating life.

Everybody loves you Brett! Your rugged good looks and aw shucks southern charm developed as a little boy growing up in Gulfport, MS. has everyone falling over themselves to get to Wal-Mart for a pair of those Wranglers that you shamelessly peddle.

You are arguably the best quarterback that has ever played in the National Football League (don't tell Troy Aikman that I said that). You are the only player in history to be named the AP Most Valuable Player 3 consecutive years (95-97). You've been selected to 11 Pro Bowls. You've led the Packers, Jets, and Vikings to eight division championships, five NFC Championship Games, and two Super Bowl appearances, winning it all with the (Green Gay Fudge) Packers in 1996 at Superbowl XXXI in New Orleans. You've made an NFL record 285 consecutive starts (309 when you include the playoffs). You hold the all-time NFL record for wins (181), completions (6,083), attempts (9,811), yards (69,329), and touchdowns (497).

Jesus Christ had to feed the masses, turn water into wine, die, and be resurrected to amass the quantity and quality of acclaim that you now enjoy for chucking a pigskin up and down the field. I'm pretty sure that differences between Brett Favre and Jesus Christ is one that is completely lost on ole number 4.

Unfortunately Brett, you also hold the NFL record for interceptions (317) and number of times that you've held the media, the fans, and your employer hostage while you mull over the merits of accepting the Minnesota Viking's revised offer of $16 million($20 million with incentives)to hitch your Hall of Fame credentials and enormous ego to your Ford F250 and head north to Mankato, MN, the home of the Minnesota ViQueens. Your hostage taking skills make the antics of the Branch Davidians and the Jonestown cult look like amateur night at the Appolo.

Favre's agent, Bus Cook (That's his name, no kidding), said Wednesday that the 40-year old quarterback plans to return to Minnesota if he is healthy and fully recovered from off-season ankle surgery. I know it’s a decision that he wrestles with,” Bevell said after a morning practice as Favre was throwing the ball around with high school students in Mississippi. “He’s a great player. He’s a great competitor. He mulls things over. He’s an emotional guy. So he thinks things through long and hard and takes his time with his decision. So I’m not surprised that things started to come out. We just have to wait and see.”

Isn't that what we've been doing for the past 3 off season Bus? Don't get me wrong, we all have big decisions to make in our lives that are emotional and require deep thought and consideration. Most if not all of those decisions usually don't involve guaranteed generational wealth, fame, and a team that returns virtually intact from a trip to the NFC Championship game last year. Save us the theatrics Brett. In a world where television programs, such as The Bachelorette, masquerade as an acceptable interpretation of objective reality, your antics only serve to accentuate the gulf between those of us with real problems and legitimate concerns and folks like you who live over the rainbow where, this time of year, a "legitimate concern" is whether you should summer on Martha's Vineyard or the Hamptons.

Look Brett, I know that you're only hanging us with the lengthy piece of rope that we've given you. Players, coaches, and fans all agree that the game is much better with you in it. The 14.2 metered-market rating that the Packers-Vikings Don't-Call-It-A-Grudge-Match garnered readily backs up our national lust for your follies on the field. I think that it would be prudent of you to remember the old Aesop fable about the boy that cried wolf:

To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"

The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

"Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill.

Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"

But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.

At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.

"There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?"

An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village.

"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"

When your career is really over Brett, will your fans be there to comfort you as you walk into the sunset and head back to your Mississippi farm to clear brush in perpetuity.

Nobody likes a ridiculously wealthy indecisive attention whore media diva athlete, even if, in the fantasy world between his ears, his indecision is warranted.

An Objectivist Understanding of the Overturning of Proposition 8

Yesterday, in a post on Facebook, I expoused the viewpoint that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling overturning Proposition 8 -- California's ban on gay marriage -- was a state's rights issue. The citizens of California voted via referendum to ban gay marriage in their state and I am a firm believer in the right of the electorate to turn to the polls to decide matters of political importance to the state and its constituents.

However, I now realize that my argument was fundamentally flawed and is not in line with Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, which I claim to be a disciple of. Furthermore, my assertion only worked to propel the dangerous and false notion forward that "collective rights", or the rights of a group or mob of people, trump the "personal rights" of private, independent citizens.

In "The Virtue of Selfishness", Rand devotes two short chapters to the individual rights and the nature of government. Rand makes it clear that the nature of government is such that its only reason for existence is to protect individual rights by placing the "relaiatory use of physical force under objective control -- i.e., under objectively defined laws." The authors of the Declaration of Independence further expounded upon the role of government in the lives of individuals when they stated: "to secure these [individual] rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed..."

Seeing as the protection of individual rights is the only legitimate reason underpinning the existence of government, that end should be the only aim and goal behind all legislation. "All laws must be based on individual rights and aimed at their protection." The fountainhead of a government's power is derived from "the consent of the governed." As such, the government is not the ruler of men, but rather the servant or "agent" of the citizens. "It means that the government as such has no rights except the rights delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose."

This leads us to the concept of collectivized "rights" as juxtaposed to individual rights. A country such as the United States is only a collection of individuals, and can not have any rights save those that it's individual components possess. We, as citizens, may disagree on exactly what form of government works best towards the maintenance of individual rights, but we agree on the basic principle for which that government is to be constituted: the principle of individual rights. Rand goes on to explain under what circumstances individual citizens may legislate new laws via referendum and the majority vote:

"When a country's constitution places individual rights outside the reach of public authorities, the sphere of political power is severely delimited -- and thus the citizens may, safely and properly, agree to abide by the decisions of a majority vote in this delimited sphere. The lives and property of minorities or dissenters are not at stake, are not subject to vote and are not endangered by any majority decision; no man or group holds a blank check on power over others."

Individual rights, clearly and unequivocally, are not subject to a public vote. The majority in a country has absolutely no rights to vote away the rights of a minority. "The political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual)"

That is exactly what the voters of the state of California attempted to do when they went to the polls and voted via referendum to ban gay marriage in their state. They were attempting to force feed their moral principles down the throats of a dissenting minority whose only aim is to exercise the individual rights that are their divine rights as men and women. So called conservatives on the right of the political spectrum, whose base is composed of faith-based groups -- specifically evangelical Christians, are attempting to weave their perverted philosophical understanding of a document with questionable authenticity and origins (to be nice about the origins of the Bible) into the fabric of American jurisprudence, which itself is derived from the greatest testament to the sovereignty of the individual the modern world has ever known -- The Constitution of the United States of America.

"A society that robs an individual of the product of his effort, or enslaves him, or compels him to act against his own rational judgement -- a society that sets up a conflict between its edicts and the requirements of man's nature -- is not, strictly speaking, a society, but a mob held together by institutionalized gang rule. Such a society destroys all the values of human coexistence, has no possible justification and represents, not a source of benefits, but the deadliest threat to man's survival. Life on a desert island is safer than and incomparably preferable to existence in Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany."

The supporters of Proposition 8 may still rightly supoort a ban on gay marriage in the private institutions that serve as their source of moral and spiritual guidance. As Judge Vaughn Walker, in his opinion, stated:

"Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law."

Judge Walker goes on to the cite the California constitution when he writes:

"[A]ffording same-sex couples the opportunity to obtain the designation of marriage will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

The District Judge makes it clear when he states, in all capital letters, that:

A PRIVATE MORAL VIEW THAT SAME-SEX COUPLES ARE INFERIOR TO OPPOSITE-SEX COUPLES IS NOT A PROPER BASIS FOR LEGISLATION...California's obligation is to treat its citizens equally, not to "mandate [its] own moral code."

And thus I must come to the same conclusion that Ayn Rand did in 1961 and that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker did yesterday and align myself with his court's decision to overturn Proposition 8 and the ban on gay marriage in the state of California. It is not a state's rights issue as I originally asserted because a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority. Furthermore, a government can not support a ban on gay marriage because a government, in of itself, has no rights save those delegated to it by it's individual constituents (the consent of the governed). The government can not usurp the individual rights of it's citizens without necessarily impinging upon the source of it's own existence.

In a nutshell, a vote (or potential decision by the Robert's led Supreme Court) to ban gay marriage would be tantamount to hammering home the final nail in the coffin of the concept of individual liberty. The right to live as we please so long as it doesn't hurt anyone is something that we can all agree is a key component to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, no matter what shade of red or blue your glasses are tinted in.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things That Aren't Hot - Chicks with Mustaches

After surviving sideways blowing torrential rainfall, I finally arrived at the Addison Red Line station and boarded the train towards the Loop. I was lucky enough to find a seat that wasn't completely covered with water or refuse from one of the many night patrons that call CTA their condo.

At the Belmont station, A young lady with long legs and short blonde hair boarded my car. It was obvious that she didn't have time to dry her hair after her morning shower. Her hair was in one of those styles with the little pony tail up top and some hair hanging down in the back. It's probably a good thing that she didn't dry her hair. It would've been a colossal waste of time and she wouldn't have been as hot.

She was very fit. Her black Donna Karen skirt fit snugly over her toned legs and hips. The white and gray plaid short-sleeved blouse accentuated her flat stomach. An argyle sweater vest added a professional touch and left a little to the imagination.

This girl was stunning by any and all accounts, even in the disheveled state that she was in. She boarded the train, made a 90* turn to her right, and settled in the nook in front of my seat next to the door. She looked at me and smiled in polite greeting.

That's when I saw it!

In little blonde hairs was a mustache that would make Burt Reynold's lip rug look like a shower mat. It was fuller and thicker than the thickest stache on the hairiest bear in all of Lake View, Boystown, and Andersonville combined. Did she notice this thick coating of fur on her nostril patio? Does she even care?

I could just imagine a romantic boat ride on Lake Michigan. The moon is high in the sky and the stars are shining with splendid luster. We are on the bow of the ship looking out at the rolling, dark waters. I look at her. She looks at me. We embrace each other and lock lips with a passionate kiss. Suddenly, I stumble backwards, gripped by uncontrollable laughter because her manscaping is tickling my upper lip!


Ladies, here's a bit of advice. Gillette is not just the best that a man can get. I hear that she swings both ways. Facial hair on a woman is the most unattractive thing that could ever appear on a woman's face. It is worse than scars, boogers, blood, jiz, or Bozo the clown type pageant make-up. I don't mind a little body hair. Some of you ladies got more of your genes from your dad than your mom. I completely understand a little hair under the arms, down the neck, on the small of the back, or on the single-lane landing strip down under. Body hair can be sexy. It is absolutely, positively not hot when your mustache connects to your beard and mines doesn't.

So, lady on the train, you're beautiful. Your body is a wonderland that I've been saving my ski ball tickets to explore. Here's a little advice - the next time you go to the spa for a mani-pedi or head to the salon to get those roots touched up, get a little of the hot wax on your upper lip. That is unless you're going for the Janeane Garofalo, hipster sheek look.