I've set up a multi-author social blog to be used by my part-time blogger friends who don't want one of their own. Send me a note if you'd like to be able to write on For Consideration

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Quick Thought

Sorry I haven't written in a long time...the new job is taking my time and thoughts right now, as well as holiday running around. I have updates about work and family at All Things Zebster.
The Nascar blog I've been threatening to do is now up, written by some of us old timers from Under Da Porch message board. You can read that blog here, if you're inclined to participate in Nascar discussions.

I hope to get back into a routine soon where I can update and then stay updated on the political and social issues so that I can blog here regularly again. Until then I want to wish everyone a joyous and safe holiday season, as well as encourage everyone to take a moment out of their busy schedules and do something for those less fortunate...a kind word, giving blood, shoveling a walkway, spending time with the lonely, volunteering your time to prepare Christmas dinner at a shelter, anything from the heart in the spirit of the season. Even something as little as putting change in a Salvation Army kettle can make a profound difference.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

My Vote

Thought I'd put up a quick post about how and/or who I voted for, why and how I feel about the results of the election, the last mostly from a local perspective. I intend to write about the national results soon.
I put my vote where my mouth and keyboard have been all along. I voted a straight anti-incumbent ticket by voting for independents, with the exception of races where people ran unopposed. You all know why I did that; I've been saying it all along. I wanted to send a message that I'm not happy with the purely-partisan two-party system. I encouraged my readers to have the courage to do the same; that en masse we vote wasters would become message senders. If you look at the results from the Maine election, I think we did just that.
For instance, look at the governor's race:
John E. Baldacci (D) 200666 38.05%
Chandler E. Woodcock (R) 158275 30.01%
Barbara Merrill (U) 112571 21.35%
Patricia H. LaMarche (G) 51341 9.74%
Phillip Morris NaPier (U) 4527 0.86%

Incumbent Democrat John Baldacci is fairly popular but he couldn't carry even 40% of the vote. Now I understand here in Maine we have much more of a tradition of voting for independents than elsewhere, but that doesn't explain the vote percentage of the winner nor does it explain how Merrill and LaMarche together received more than the Republican. Barbara Merrill, who I voted for, received over 21%...a relatively unknown independent a year ago. She ran a great campaign and hit a nerve with voters because she had the courage to lay out fresh ideas, something someone from the 2 major parties are always afraid to do. It didn't hurt her either that her fresh ideas made a lot of sense.
Look at the US Senate race:
Olympia J. Snowe (R) 384507 74.04%
Jean M. Hay Bright (D) 106642 20.54%
William H. Slavick (U) 28152 5.42%

or the 1st Congressional District race, particularly again at the vote percentage of the independents:
Thomas H. Allen (D) 162600 60.41%
Darlene J. Curley (R) 84491 31.39%
Dexter J. Kamilewicz (U) 22089 8.21%

Over 5 and 8% are enormous independent percentages in any other state. That would be headline news, even in this current climate.

So I'm pleased that voters came out and obviously voted based on something other than pure party lines. Now, no incumbents here were toppled (all 3 plus Mike Michaud are IMO justifiably popular) but I feel the message was sent nonetheless.

I apologize for this obviously being hastily thrown together but hopefully I made some rational points. Your thoughts on my vote? Please feel free to say as little or as much as you'd like about your vote and your local election results.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Purely Partisan Blogs Are Idiotic In My Opinion

What follows is another guest blog, this one from Brent at A Dakota Democrat. I think you'll find much to agree with here.

I voted on Saturday morning, and I was the 696th person inside the city limits of Jamestown, ND to vote early by going to the county auditor's office and doing the American duty of voting. After I voted, not a straight party ticket by the way, I spent about 2 hours reading blogs from both sides of the political spectrum. I came up with one very clear observation. The majority of Americans that blog on politics are too partisan to be of any value to us free-thinkers.

Now let me explain that last sentence.

I read on a right-leaning blog about everything that the Republican Party had done wrong in the past 6 years of holding power in congress. This person wrote about 60 different things that the Republican Party or it's members had done wrong in his eyes. Then at the end, he said that even though the Party had abandoned it's principals and had done everything wrong, that Americans should vote for Republicans. The reason why? Democrats would raise taxes. That is it. That is the only reason that he gave. Now, I understand that lower taxes is important, but is it more important than the federal deficit? How about the corruption that has been seen in congress? What about the Iraq war? How about illegal immigration? I just don't understand that statement about Democrats would raise taxes. Maybe they will, but how do you know with 100% certainty that they would? How would you measure that?

I was reading a left-leaning blog and how the Republicans are trying to steal this election like they stole the 2000 & 2004 elections. Now if you are going to say this as fact, please give me facts that are proven, not conjecture and opinion. Couldn't do that. This writer also said that Republicans would start the systematic detention of people that didn't agree with the Republican Party platform. Again, I want facts and proof that is what the Republican Party is planning. Couldn't get facts again.

Of about the 30 blogs that I looked at, there were many of them that were purely partisan. That's great if you live in a world where everything is a life and death struggle between ideology. The real world isn't like that. Neither Democrats or Republicans are purely evil and though there are differences on how to improve the country, not one party has the correct answers on everything. The one way that you cannot improve the country is to totally shut out the opposing view from yours. The Iraq war is a great example of this. Most people from the Right would say that the Democratic idea is only cut-and-run. I know that is false. There have been many proposals from the left that haven't been cut-and-run. From the left, comes the slogan to President Bush's Iraq invasion, Lie-and-Die. Most Republicans are against the way that the President have handled Iraq, but they are all lumped together like the Democrats.

I am tired of the way this game is played. What happened to the exchange of ideas? What happened to agreeing with people that aren't part of your party? What happened to the civility of politics? What happened to actually admitting that your opponent for political office actually has a good plan for whatever they are running for? If you continuously preach to the choir, doesn't your truth become a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you hear from everybody that thinks the same way that you do, you don't hear anything that challenges your perceptions and might broaden your horizons. Everything could change if the American public told both parties that we don't want all this partisan garbage. Until we decide not to reward partisanship, we will be stuck with this he said, he said game of politics that no one likes.

Thanks Brent, as usual your thoughts are fair and even handed.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mad as hell?

In response to my decision to open Inside Zebster up as a forum for others' opinions and viewpoints leading up to the November 7 election, we have this submission by E-Campaigner 2006.


Yes, indeed we voters are mad as hell. That Peter Finch/Howard Beale character from the movie Network would have no problem agitating today for us to get up out of our chairs, go over to the window, throw it open and yell as loud as we can, "We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore." Then, after that, on November 7th, we really "mad as hell" voters will go off to the polling booth and vote against as many incumbents as we can.

Voters are not going to take it anymore from Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham, and William Jefferson. They also don’t want to put up with those guys’ unindicted co-conspirators, enablers, and aiders and abettors in D.C. who have been screwing us over for as long as we can remember. Some of these criminals have been outed but there are hundreds more in the woodwork, and the Capitol Building just needs to be plain fumigated.

An anti-incumbent tsunami can hit on Election Day, but it is up to the voters.

We have a hell of a powerful tool at our fingertips – the Internet. Let’s use it.

Let’s get going.

Send emails to newspapers, TV and radio stations, friends, acquaintances, favorite pets, co-workers, and anyone else you can think of, telling them you are as mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.

If any voters want, I'll give you email addresses to send to.

Or you give me email addresses you would like me to email to, and I'll do it.

Contact me at

And, oh yeh, catch a viewing of Peter Finch/Howard Beale as soon as you can:

Please make him feel welcome and supported by leaving comments.

Inside Zebster open forum

Given that I'm too busy right now with my new job and not blogging anything close to daily, I want to open Inside Zebster up as a place to post other people's thoughts on issues related to the upcoming election. I have one piece I'll be putting up shortly. I welcome people from all perspectives to offer up their opinions. I don't plan on editing what you'd write but would reserve the right to ask that something be revised by you before I post that, though I think it's unlikely I'd feel the need to do that.

If you're interested, leave a comment here and/or email me. And hurry up, the election is a week away. Plus, I'll definitely be putting something up very soon regarding the exchanges today between John Kerry, President Bush and John McCain.

Monday, October 30, 2006

No one to blame but yourself

If you buy all the negative ads that have no substance, no proof, no facts aimed at a candidate from the party opposite the one you're aligned with because you're just looking for a reason to support your current good-for-nothing, rubber-stamp incumbent, then you'll have no one to blame but yourself when nothing changes (even worse, if you don't vote at all).
As I've done time and time before, I urge everyone to vote; but equally as important I urge you to take a step back and look at the issues and the candidates with a fresh and open mind, as painful and distasteful as that may be for you. Also, look at all the issues and prioritize their importance, because you're going to be asked to vote for a candidate because he/she supports a "pet" issue of yours. They're hoping you'll ignore or excuse their mistakes and incompetence and even lies because they've brought pork to your district. Ask yourself what is truly most important, research that issue and the candidates' stance on that issue.
You know what? Sorry I've been too busy lately to write and the above is far from my best work. Just throw them all out and start'll feel better, I promise. If nothing else, we'll end up with at least some oversight for the first time in a while. It is possible! Just think what a message it would send if you decided to vote entirely for incumbents and you got just one person to do the same, and that one person got one person to do the same, and so on. You know what you'd have? A true democracy.

For those who care, I hope to get a chance to make some recommendations, my reasons for supporting certain candidates. I can tell you now though that the overriding theme will be anti-incumbency, but I will have more reasons than that if I have time to do it at all.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Anti-incumbent fever or anti-majority?

You've seen me comment, rant and encourage on this blog many times about my views regarding the voters' pathetic record regarding voting for who they're familiar with much more than who they believe to be the better candidate based on information. I've encouraged readers to research voting records and issues before deciding on a candidate.
Do the latest poll numbers, such as this one from The Washington Post, show that voters are finally getting wise and getting informed, therefore ready to clean out incumbents and start over, or do the polls simply indicate a dissatisfaction with the party in power?
Seems to me it's a justifiable dissatisfaction with the party in power, the Republicans; and for many, many good reasons. You can fill in the blanks yourself. While I think that's a good place to start, if the mindset of the voter doesn't include the realization that much that we're dissatisfied with can be attributed to overall complacency and arrogance, it will only be a start to a necessary house cleaning without a finish.
People need to realize that the minority party plays many of the same games, is beholding to many of the same special interests as well as specific ones of their own, has not done their job of being a watchdog on corruption (in fact, has joined in) and thus have failed us nearly as much as the Republicans have.
So while you're frustrated, angry and ready to kick the "bad guys" out by voting against the Republicans, realize that you're only doing half the job, therefore really not accomplishing anything, if you don't include the Democrats in your anti-incumbent passion. You'll simply be rewarding them for not being as bad, when in fact they are just as bad, just not in a position to take as much advantage of their power as Republicans.

So while I personally would rather see the Democrats in power come November than the Republicans (and that would be a good thing), it falls far short of my ultimate goal of a complete reforming of the system (read my previous series on Representative Govt) by infusing Congress with new blood, especially independents. While the Democrats will take advantage of the current climate, not infusing true independents into the mix and thus giving Americans more real choices and new ideas fixes nothing in the long run.

Cross posted in large part on

ANNOUNCEMENT: I've started writing also at VOID, Vote Out Incumbents Democracy, the blogsite of an unconnected PAC whose mission is much as I've laid out here and other places, a perfect fit for the Zebster. I'll mostly be compiling poll data into short anti-incumbent updates, as well as the occasional editorial piece.

Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea open thread

I'd be very interested to know what you think is the way(s) to deal with KIM Jong Il's rogue North Korea, now that they've apparently successfully tested a nuclear weapon.

Do we essentially continue a strategy of containment which doesn't appear to be containing much but the growth of the people? What else can you take away by way of sanctions? It would appear that his people going without is not a deterrent to this clown.
I've heard it suggested we offer China that we'll remove our troops from S. Korea in exchange for them taking out this leadership. Interesting theoretically but does China even have that ability, though they'd certainly be interested in no longer essentially having our troops on their border.
One of the biggest deterrents to military action has been all those North Korean missiles aimed at South Korea. That aside, what military action would make a difference? We're stretched awfully thin as it is militarily, but would you propose a surgical strike to try to take out the leadership or bombing them back to the stone age (oh, that's right, they're already back in the stone age)?
Do we just de facto ignore it, while using words of condemnation? They are not a threat today, especially since they can't seem to get rockets to work; but there's always the chance they could sell what they've learned.
Any thoughts?

On a personal note: Having my stepson on the border there makes me wary of where this may lead.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Unfortunate consequence

While to many the Foley scandal's potential to be the final nail in the coffin of the Republican stranglehold on our government may be a blessing, what it also unfortunately does is take our eyes off more important issues.

If you assume for the sake of argument that even without the Foley scandal the Republicans would have lost the House anyway, then you could actually posit the idea that this scandal works to the benefit of those who have things to hide, who still have a sizeable percentage of the voting public fooled.

So while the press and American public is fixated yet again on its favorite type of scandal, sex, their prying eyes and minds are now not so much on Iraq, Iran, North Korea, the countless other examples of corruption, the deficit, habeas corpus, the Constitution, Congress' dereliction of duty in being a counterbalance to the powers of the Presidency, et cetera ad nauseum.

As I've said many, many times before, we get what we deserve when our tastes lean toward the most salacious of scandals instead of matters of real consequence. This is why I and others will continue to harp on what's important to our country and its citizens.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Circling the wagons

So the President comes out and says he knows Rep. Hastert and reassures us that Hastert wants to get to the bottom of the Foley mess, essentially that Hastert had nothing to do with a cover-up. Well, I feel reassured, thank you. Partisan support instead of a call for investigation always makes me feel better. How about you? "Let's rally around our cronies like they've done for us until we figure out the facts and then have a chance to spin it to the public."

Mr. President, if you want to reassure the public, then don't jump to anyone's aid until you know the facts. Tell the American public you insist on a full investigation and that you will see to it that anyone who covered up or had information and failed to act is punished. Instead you sent a message loud and clear that circling the wagons to hold on to power is what is most important to you and yours.

And talk about circling the wagons, is that what Rep. Reynolds was doing yesterday when he held a news conference surrounded by children? What exactly was the message that was trying to be conveyed there? That if he surrounds himself with children, then he couldn't possibly have known about risks to other children and did nothing? I won't even go into what it means that Mr. Reynolds refused to have the little children removed from the press conference so that journalists could ask questions of an adult nature about which a press conference was held to discuss an incident of an adult nature.

As for Hastert's noble actions, instead of getting to the bottom of the issue, he's making the rounds of conservative radio talk shows rallying or reassuring the base. Like anyone who listens to Rush Limbaugh listens because they want to know the truth about something; that that's the place of the moral high ground.

What actions like these always seem to indicate is where there's smoke there's probably fire. They'll circle the wagons of denial and ignorance until they can find a loophole to squirm through.

How about you reassure us with leadership and action? Tell us all that you know and when you knew it and what you did about it, and demand that level of transparency from all others. Next thing you know they'll be blaming the other guy -- oops, too late -- or blaming the other party -- oops, too late -- or, even most cowardly of all, blaming the Pages themselves -- sigh.
Cross posted on Watchblog

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I for Integrity (Representative Govt VI)

As it is becoming more and more painfully obvious that those we've elected have betrayed us, we must find the strength of conviction to set aside our partisan tendencies to believe those we want to believe and instead think for ourselves and demand from each and every one of them a strength of conviction, the courage to stand alone if need be and do what is right. Those who falsely hide behind the R of Righteousness and those who hide behind the D of Defender of the common man, only to prey on our society for their own gain, must be replaced by those of true Integrity, by those whose only motivation is to serve the country. Country before party, country before narrow ideology, country before self. They do exist and more of them will step to the fore with the winds of change...all we have to do is encourage them by voting for the independent thinker at every opportunity.

We are as much to blame as the politicians for the unfortunate state of our country, of our society. Where once we were trusted and looked upon as a country to follow, as a country whose government and citizens prized above all else the betterment of all, we are now seen as a country of pariahs, as a country with no integrity, as a country swayed by political winds at the expense of mankind.

If our elected officials will not have the courage and conviction to change their ways, will at least the voters of this country come November have the strength to look hard and strong in the mirror of self-examination, of realization that they do what they do at our bidding and that we now bid adeau.

There is still time, still an opportunity to vote not for a candidate who claims to stand for your prized issue at the expense of overall good but to vote for candidates who will in your stead examine every issue on balance. Do you have the courage to vote for independents, knowing that you could be "wasting" your vote and risking giving an election to the "enemy?" We all fear that, and it is that fear that's kept us from exercising our true power and reforming this political nightmare. But remember this, while the Republicans try to rally their base and Democrats will do likewise, if we independents all vote for independents, the others can rally all they want in futility because there are more of us than either of them alone. That would send a message for sure, but wouldn't it send an even stronger message if their bases did turn out but voted for independents as well?

Is it more important to you that your side wins and that, therefore, your handful of favorite issues might prevail or is it more important to you that this country is set once again on a path of intellectual reason over almighty dollar? There is no time like the present to start to turn this around. I for one plan to vote for every independent I can come November. Maybe I'll be wasting my vote, but I'll sleep well knowing I didn't encourage a process where he who has the most to spend wins. I'll know that if my underfunded candidate wins, that person will not have been bought by special interest. I encourage every one who reads this to do the same, cast a vote for Integrity, for Independent thought and Independent political power.

Cross posted at Watchblog

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blog intro update

It's been a while since I've written blog recommendations; and even though I haven't written much in the last couple of months, there's still new blogs to recommend. Also, feel free to include links to your favorite blogs in the comments. I look forward to checking them out.

Let me start with Watchblog. If you've been looking for a site that in a civil, respectful and professional way has political content from the left, right and center (or Democrat, Republican and Independent), then you will appreciate this site. I was asked to join them a couple of months ago as one of the writers for the "center." Until recently I haven't had time to post original content there but at least for now I have that time.

Independent Voting is the website for CUIP, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, of which I am an active member. The title is somewhat of a misnomer in that CUIP doesn't advocate an actual third party; it is an organization that promotes independent voting and issues most important to independents such as election reform and representative government. If you're interested in becoming an active independent, I recommend you start there.

My friend Robbie from San Diego, formerly posting at Greetings from America's Finest City and Independent Opinions (though I need to talk him into reviving that one) can now be found at El Mas Chingon, and he's madder than ever. An excellent site for thoughtful opinions on social and political issues, as well as sports and beer reviews. Leave anything out, Robbie?

Jerimiah Bullfrog at GoddamnILoveAmerica is perhaps best described as the Country Ninja Stephen Colbert. If you want to laugh your butt off while being reassured he's keeping us safe, visit there often -- actually, that should read "visit thar often."

All Things Zebster, my personal and sports blog. Also where I tend to blog when I'm too busy to write professionally here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Olbermann's Special Commentary

For those of you who have not had a chance to see this, following is a link to Keith Olbermann's "special commentary" regarding the Bill Clinton Fox News Chris Wallace interview as it specifically relates to the former president's statement that he tried to get bin Laden and that leading up to 9/11 the current administration did not Special Commentary

While there is much in this 10 minute commentary that I agree with and much that I feel needed to be said by someone with an audience larger than the biggest blog site, its tone and lack of respect for the current president defeats the purpose. Though I do not respect President Bush, I respect the presidency; and though, as I said, there is much there that needed to be said and said strongly, Olbermann must understand that the way his message was delivered will turn off anyone who should hear it. He can use that "tone" when preaching to the choir all he wants; but preaching to the choir is just that, raving to the already-converted.
For the message to have true value, it must be delivered in such a way that those Americans who have yet to consider it or have not had access to the information which make up its points are willing to hear it.
If I sat in my seat and squirmed, what effect do you think it had on the people who in my opinion most needed to hear it? That's right, they immediately turned it off or, worse yet, it served to push them further away from the light, the light that should be shone brightly on the truth. There is much truth in what President Clinton said and in what Olbermann said, but there is also much truth available to counter-balance their side. So why not make a political commentary nearer the whole truth, thus nearer the middle where the vast majority of the hearts and minds of Americans reside?
Keith, you come across as disrespectful and biased. What point does that serve? What point does it serve to insinuate that our president is not a grown-up?

For a commentary such as this to have any real value, its messenger must deliver it with facts only, not intertwined with opinions as facts. To do so makes you no better, the same, as those you attack. The messenger will be seen as much a tool as the tools he hopes to shine the light of truth on. So while he fancies himself a crusader of truth and justice, he instead pushes us further from the truth.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Stay the course? What course?

The President recently told us that as long as he's president we'll be staying in Iraq until the job is done, thus again telling us to support staying the course. You have to ask yourself though exactly what course is he talking about (course differentiated from plan) -- the current one that seems to be an irreversible sink hole or a plan yet unstated to alter the current course. I have to say that either would be a breath of fresh air -- a stated course or plan, or something that at least seems thought out and has a chance of working.

I've stated on this blog before that while I've always been dead set against going into Iraq, it is a mess we're responsible for fixing and leaving before it's fixed would have grave consequences. Yes, hard to believe graver consequences are possible. But in recent weeks I'm beginning to rethink that position (gee, what a novel idea, rethinking positions as circumstances warrant) and am getting closer and closer to feeling that we're headed toward the graver consequences whether we have our troops there getting killed and injured or not.

"Well, then you're just telling the terrorists 'we quit and you win.'" Exactly what terrorists might that be; an insurgency upset that we're there or those fighting a religious civil war? Am I the only one sick and tired of being told anyone who fights against what we (careful with that "we," Zeb) want is a terrorist? Think for yourself for once and ask yourself why that's the word of choice from this administration to describe seemingly any enemy, any combatant, any disagreer. We had Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld recently imply that those of us who are against this "war on terrorism" are akin to Nazi sympathizers; and the President, though in softer terms, echoed that sentiment. Well, if you put those things together, are we not far from being told that we who oppose them are the enemy?

Then you have the likes of Ken Mehlman on Hardball the other night making the case that we need to stay in Iraq because Ayman al-Zawahiri has said al Qaeda wants to turn Iraq into another Afghanistan with training bases. If you nut jobs hadn't invaded Iraq and opened it up like a can of worms, we wouldn't be worried about them setting up training bases there. This kind of backwards, illogical, keep-our-asses-in-office-at-any-cost rhetoric is what pisses me off more than anything.
You bungled a mission that you cherry-picked the evidence to support, and then your reason for staying there is essentially "We f'd it up so bad we have to stay to keep the terrorists out, and you have to reelect us because we're the party that'll keep you safe." Safer? I don't feel safer. "Well, we haven't been attacked since 9/11." Gee, I forgot it was an everyday thing before 9/11.

You want to make me feel safer? How about you deal with al Qaeda, bin Laden, The Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. There's a course, nay a plan, I could support.

On a different note...I was recently invited to be a writer for the independent/third party section of Watchblog, a three-perspective blog site that I've had linked for quite some time but don't believe I've introduced. So great for me, and hopefully Watchblog as well; but the time between applying and acceptance ran over me going back to working all those hours (yesterday 4:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.). So I won't get the opportunity to blog stuff there that I'm not blogging here. I barely have time to put up personal updates on All Things Zebster.

A Good Thing? (Rep Govt V)

So the Republican Party ascended to power over the last 25 years by polarizing the nation with its "you're either with us or agin us" tactics, by falsely setting itself up as the moral center of the country, and by taking advantage of what it's traditionally done best and Democrats have failed at...governing.
Now that the current inept and uncredible administration has shown us what we get when we vote by "tradition," by sound bite and by focusing on the possible negatives instead of proven positives, the Democrats have a chance to regain power, either half or all of Congress this year and perhaps the White House in '08. But will it be a good thing for the country if they do so by using many of the same tactics, by rallying its base further to the left and making the country even more polarized, thus leaving the majority of the country in the middle essentially unrepresented?
So while we're left to decide between a course without a plan or a plan without a course -- or is it neither -- keep in mind that we should be voting for candidates who represent positions on issues held by the majority of us, which can be substantially different from what we're told our majority position is, a sadly successful tactic because far too many of us wait to be told what our position should be or we're told what supposedly the majority position is and then go along with it.
The only way we can truly have a government that represents our views is to have views based on as much unbiased and divergent information as possible.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On the tarmac?

I've been working a lot of hours and haven't had time to stay in touch with the world as much as I'd like or am used to; but when I first heard about this incident with the woman having a "fit" on that flight from London to Dulles, I knew it was an over-reaction. This is a 59-year-old woman, and no one on that flight can tell she's having a panic attack and is not a threat? Sure, terrorists can come in any shape and size, but what did she do that made people think she was a threat? Doesn't there have to be some reasonable presumption of a realistic threat before hundreds of people are inconvenienced? Hell, they weren't just inconvenienced...this person comes undone and everyone else on the plane becomes a suspect.
Even though I'd be very frustrated and probably angry if I'd been on that flight and it was diverted, I'd give them the benefit of being overcautious for our benefit. But if you make me a suspect because of someone else's actions, there'll be hell to pay. You've already searched my person far more than I'd appreciate, searched all my belongings as well, and then you're going to do it again on the tarmac of the airport after you've taken everyone off the plane? I have a very strong suspension that had I been on that flight and had that happen to me, this woman who's at the center of the situation wouldn't have been the only one arrested for throwing a fit that day!

Monday, August 14, 2006

When politicians speak (Representative Govt IV)

Editor's note: Hi everyone. This is something I've been working on off and on for weeks. Since being back at my old job is as time consuming as ever, I thought I'd just put this up to have something new published.

When politicians speak, who are they talking to? Are they talking to other politicians of their own party? Are they talking to the voting members of their party? Could they be talking to undecided voters? Perhaps, but what's their true motive? Are they talking to those who've funded their campaigns, which is most likely?
Even when someone says all the right things to us true independents or swing voters, can we trust their motives? Are they just using buzz words like reform simply because they know that's what we want to hear? Even if they propose or vote for things we want, such as reform, can we trust that it's not based on political expediency, thus political survival?
How do we tell the difference? I propose one way to tell the difference is for the American voting public to stop having such a short memory. When politicians tell you they stand for something, we need to remember what they stood for, when and why. We need to be willing to research voting records and quotes in newspapers when those issues arise again. We need to ignore what members of their party tell us is that person's motivation, their position. We need to base our opinion of their motives and their positions on their actions and nothing else.
We most certainly need to drop our mental magnets that make us blindly nod our heads in agreement because the person making the statement or opinion is a member of the party we're aligned with. If that politician says something, evaluate it case by case. If you agree with that person 90% of the time, that's fine if you call them on the other 10% and if there's a true basis for agreeing with them the other 90.
I feel being an independent, which helps me keep my mind open to all views, has served me well in ensuring I have a basis for supporting a particular politician; and I've voted for nearly as many Republicans as Democrats and a fair number of indies through the years. I was raised that way and come from the only state, Maine, that has elected two independent governors through the years.
I would really appreciate the thoughts of others on both sides and the middle on this one, or I'll be forced to write a blog I've been thinking about doing related to why people rarely comment on blogs.

If you're interested in a life and work update, please check out All Things Zebster. I appreciate your support.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Personal news

Good news for Zebster, sort of, and bad news for the blog. Given that I've been unemployed for far too long looking for a job that would pay well enough to take, time was running out, so I' ve accepted an offer to go back to my old job driving a bread truck for IBC. The good news for me in that? Obviously first and foremost, a job and, secondly, a very good paying job. The bad part of it is that it's a physically demanding job that I was working on average 60-70 hours a week, and I don't ever have 2 days in a row off. Oh well, I need the work.
Obviously it's going to put a huge crimp on the blogging. I'll try to stay informed with my XM while driving around between stops, and hopefully I'll be able to put something up two or three times a week. If anyone's interested, I'm planning on putting some work-related updates on All Things Zebster.
I do plan on continuing the work search as much as possible to find a new career that I really want, but until then THE BREADMAN IS BACK! Thanks everyone. Peace!

Maine news...pigs heads and pigheads

First, an update on whether the Maine Public Utilities Commission will undertake a formal investigation into whether Verizon violated privacy laws if they, in fact, cooperated with the NSA "wiretapping"program, something which Verizon in part denies doing. It is an update only to the extent that the MPUC voted to delay making the ultimate decision.
If you're not familiar with this story, KEVIN WACK of the Portland Press Herald reported last Friday that "The Bush administration is threatening to sue if Maine regulators decide to investigate whether Verizon Communications illegally turned over customer information to the National Security Agency." as is suggested in this letter from the US Justice Dept to the MPUC, "We sincerely hope that, in light of governing law and the national security concerns implicated by the requests for information, you will decline to open an investigation and close these proceedings, thereby avoiding litigation over the matter." You already know where I stand on this issue and how I feel about transparency in government. So I'll only say this at this time: We may be a little state with just 2 votes that usually vote Democrat. So we're politically safe to threaten. But there's no place in this country that's more independent and more against being bullied. Unfortunately, it'll be beauracrats who'll make this decision on whether to proceed. Also, what are you trying to hide? This potential investigation will not reveal what information you may have received, only whether Verizon broke the law in giving it to you.

From the All Politics is Local department, the latest in the ongoing multi-party, multi-sided squabble over campaign funding ethics, which Barbara Merrill finds herself in the middle and on both sides of. Isn't local politics great? Each side accusing the other of cheating, which gets even more interesting when you have at least 5 candidates going at it. You can read more by clicking the link above to the Lewiston Sun Journal article, but here are a couple of snippets from it. "Gubernatorial candidates seeking public financing must follow a strict set of rules and procedures, which includes collecting 2,500 $5 contributions to the Maine Clean Election Fund. Qualifying candidates stand to receive as much as $1.2 million to fund their general election campaigns. According to Michael's complaint, Merrill used public money to pay off obligations that she incurred before she was certified. The complaint says the payments to Harold Webster and Richard Dyer were illegal." To which Merrill's campaign responded thusly, "There was never any report of a debt to them in this period because there was none to report," Phil Merrill, Barbara Merrill's deputy campaign treasurer, wrote in the response. "On the day that the effort (to qualify for public financing) was completed, the candidate expressed a debt of gratitude and that was it." No wonder we haven't had our questions answered yet.

An update from the Biggots and Idiots Even In Maine department: A month ago some knucklehead thought it would be funny to throw a pig's head into a make-shift mosque in Lewiston. I guess he thought it would be a two-fer since it was a mosque used by Somali immigrants...desicrate a mosque and make a statement to people whose skin is way too black. Now he's saying he had walked into the police department beforehand to find out whether it would be illegal to do so and was told by the officer that the best he could tell he'd only be guilty of littering. I don't know who's the bigger moron in this instance to tell you the truth. The policeman said he actually looked into it and that's all he could find. If my police officers can't imagine what other legal issues might be involved in such a stunt, maybe they need to go back to the academy. This is the best quote from the article though, this "gentleman" "claimed in court papers that he didn't know pork was considered offensive by some Somalis and "never assumed" the vacant dual storefronts at 21-23 Lisbon St. he had walked past "nearly every day" were treated by Somalis as a mosque." Really? So why there and why a pig's head? Pure coincidence, I guess. He probably has a rebel flag in the back window of his pickup because he thinks it's pretty.

And finally, an update in the ongoing Dirigo Health squabble. This issue is more convoluted and complicated than I can wrap my little mind around but I know folks are interested. Too bad there isn't some other way?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Darfur matters too

Why isn't what's going on in the Darfur region of Sudan important enough for the national press to write about or is it that we don't care? It's likely the latter, I'm afraid. You can say what you want about the press; it is a business and largely driven by what people want to read about. We'd rather read and hear about Mel Gibson or watch reality shows. Funny that. The networks would actually show us reality if we cared about reality. Sure, the press is hard at work in the Middle East; but it's the latest story and it makes good news...bombs are more interesting that rounding up civilians and shooting them. True, what's going on in the Middle East effects the security of the region and effects the security of the rest of the world, but this matters too.
So while war rages in two areas of the Middle East, parts of the world like the Sudan go largely ignored. The death toll in this most recent wave of genocide has topped 200,000 people. And do you know why there's no United Nations peacekeeping force in there to try to stop it? The most recent obstacle, though in many ways an ongoing obstacle, is the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. He has refused to allow UN forces in his country because he claims -- get this -- that it would lead to the colonization of his country. Now there's a man who cares about his country! And he's able to get away with this because China threatens to veto that UN action. Why? Oh, don't be foolish. Oil, of course.

And where is the most powerful and generous country in the world while this is going on? We're certainly not in the Sudan. We don't even have an envoy there. I understand this is complicated and difficult. Everything on the world stage is difficult. But there must be something we can do. We certainly could use some positive image building, if nothing else. Whether you agree with the rest of the world or not, it does matter how the rest of the world views us. Now is as good a time as any to get involved in a tragic situation just for the sake of the people. Until then, I'll do my little part in trying to get this issues into as many minds and hearts as possible. Won't you join me?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Mash's plea

As things in the Middle East seem to get worse instead of better, as evidenced by these developments:

"The leader of Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, threatened Thursday night to fire rockets at Tel Aviv if Israel expands its bombing attacks against Beirut."
Hezbollah Threatens Tel Aviv
to which Israel seemingly responded by bombing southern Beirut...

And in Iraq a pro Hezbollah rally:

"The demonstration was the biggest in the Middle East in support of Hezbollah since Israel launched its attacks against the guerrillas in Lebanon on July 12. The protest was organized by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political movement built around the Mahdi Army militia has been modeled after Hezbollah."Death to Israel

I enthusiastically join Mash's request in adding a link to his chain, which was motivated by Ehud Goldwasser’s father and wife appearing last night on Larry King Live. Mash in his post Proof of Life has this request:
"I ask all bloggers who read this post, as a gesture of peace and good will, to repost this plea on your blogs. Ask the same of those who read your posts. Let this plea spread across the blogosphere. Perhaps this plea will be posted on the blogs of our Arab and Lebanese friends. Perhaps this plea will make a difference in saving at least one life."

If we in this country are sick and tired off war -- of seeing brave men and women in uniform return home dead or injured, of hearing the ever-rising civilian death toll, of hearing the sabre rattling on all sides, except from those actually standing in the line of fire -- imagine how the people actually caught up in it feel or those who have loved ones caught up in it feel. I, therefore, urge anyone who reads this post to join Mash and I and others in writing a plea of their own or use Mash's linking back to the CNN transcript of the interview above, and ask others to do the same.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

So what is a liberal?

Per my 1993 version of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition: We'll start with the derivation, "adj [ME, fr. MF, fr. L liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, fr. liber free; perh. akin to OE leodan to grow, Gk eleutheros free] (14c)."
I will include every definition so as not to be seen as picking and choosing.
"1 a: of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts. b archaic: of or befitting a man of free birth. 2 a: marked by generosity: OPENHANDED (a ~ giver) b: given or provided in a generous and openhanded way c: ample, full. 3 obs: lacking moral restraint: LICENTIOUS 4: not literal or strict: LOOSE (a ~ translation) 5: BROAD-MINDED, esp: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy or traditional forms 6 a: of, favoring or based upon the principles of liberalism b cap: of or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political liberalism: esp: of or constituting a political party in the United Kingdom associated with ideals of individual esp. economic freedom, greater individual participation in government and constitutional, political and administrative reforms designed to secure these objectives -- liberally adv -- liberalness n...syn LIBERAL, GENEROUS, BOUNTIFUL, MUNIFICENT mean giving or given freely and unstintingly. LIBERAL suggests openhandedness in the giver and largeness in the thing or amount given (a teacher liberal with her praise). GENEROUS stresses warmhearted readiness to give more than size or importance of the gift (a generous offer of help). BOUNTIFUL suggests lavish, unremitting giving or providing (children spoiled by bountiful presents). MUNIFICENT suggests a scale of giving appropriate to lords or princes (a munificent foundation grant)
2Liberal n (1820): a person who is liberal: as a: one who is openminded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways b: cap: a member or supporter of a liberal political party c: an advocate or adherent of liberalism esp. in individual rights."

"Liberalism n (1819) 1: the quality or state of being liberal 2 a often cap: a movement in modern Protestantism emphasizing intellectual liberty and the spiritual and ethical content of Christianity b: a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usu. based on free competition, the self-regulating market and the gold standard c: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties d: cap: the principles and policies of a Liberal party."

I AM A LIBERAL! Perhaps you are too and didn't know it.
I'm sure there are opinions that differ from this definition, and I would encourage any to comment who has a dictionary with a vastly different definition. I'd also be curious what a newer version has to say.

The 3 words I was surprised to not see as part of these definitions are questioning, curious and skeptical.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yes, even in the blogosphere...

Even the blogosphere -- filled with articulate, intelligent people as it is -- is susceptible to a couple of traditional woes of mankind; those being the herd mentality of irrational thought or lack thereof, and the fact that the more popular you get the more afraid you are to take a stand.
Since I'm not popular (yet) or particularly articulate, I'll let Booman at the Booman Tribune speak for me, as he does it so well in this post discussing why much of the liberal left is afraid to take a stand against Israel, even in part.

The latter issue regarding herd mentality I feel I can speak well on. I am a lifelong liberal and a lifelong independent, both by choice. To me being a liberal has always meant being open minded and thus better done by being a political minded to the prospect that right and necessary and possible can come from any direction. "But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a Liberal." JFK

If you are not unwavering in that ideal of open-mindedness, you are easily susceptible to the herd mentality, susceptible to the tendency to judge right by affiliation, susceptible to closing your mind to the possibility of being wrong; and nothing in my opinion is more dangerous than that combination.

So while the internet and blogs in particular are a wonderful place for open dialogue and discourse, it is also plagued by the herd mentality, of close-mindedness, ergo a lack of full thought. A wonderful line in a post by Fallen Monk sums it up poetically and succinctly. It's like "a bunch of ducks trying to fuck a football."

So in these trying times I beseech all, regardless of what pole you stand closest to, to keep an open mind, to base your opinions as much on fact and as little on emotional reaction as possible; otherwise, it defeats the purpose of this whole idea of open discussion as a means of change and progress.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Blog intros

While all of these blogs are linked from Inside Zebster, I think it's important to point out why I like these blogs. Plus, it's been awhile since I've done this and many have been added since. I also don't know whether people try the links without a reason.

I feel Mash's blog, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying is one of the best written and researched blogs that I've found. You'll find plenty of blogs where people say a couple of sentences that are linked to journalist's stories. With Mash it's like reading a professional journalist. Agree with his stance on issues or not, he makes thoughtful and compeling arguments that he backs up with plenty of information.
Another very well-written blog is Pen And Sword, by Jeff Huber, a retired Navy flight instructor. As was the case with Mash, Jeff writes very well and backs up his arguments with fact. Both of these guys make yours truly look like the amateur he is.
Ingrid at BloggerRoundtable. I call her the Pied Piper of peace. You won't find anyone more passionate.
Brent at Dakota Democrat. What I like most about Brent is that he writes about things we should be paying attention to while the bigger stories are going on. Yesterday he reminded us to keep an eye on the situation between the Iraqi Kurds and Turkey, as well as updating us on Afghanistan.
Brian at Burn The Liberals. Yes, another sarcastic liberal...right up my alley.
Worldwide Sawdust, another former Marine who's mad as hell and writes as passionately as anyone. He has a very interesting site as well, with quotes from thinkers past who should be remembered.
Some balance? I confess to not having yet delved into the conservative blogosphere very much, though I'm sure there are those blogs that I would recommend and would agree with on many issues. I really just haven't looked much yet. But my friend Coach Dave at Here I Stand is an old Nascar message board friend I've known for 10 years. I think he'd say I was right in saying he's a moderate conservative. He's a Lutheran Minister and blogs regularly about the issues people of faith face on a regular basis. I'm also told he makes a wicked good homebrew.
Finally, I'd like to introduce a couple of other Maine bloggers who are active in local politics and do a very professional job of writing about those issues, Lance at MaineWebReport and Tor at Tor's Rants.
No slight to the other blogs I have linked. I believe I've introduced them before in My Early Travels.... Let me know if I've slighted you. Also, do not hesitate to introduce me to blogs as well.
Maybe I haven't introduced BoSox Tavern. It is a blog written by myself, my brother, my cousin and a friend. We not only rant about our beloved Red Sox but also do beer, music and movie reviews.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Join me in condemning Hezbollah as well

We on the left have not hesitated during this war between Israel and Hezbollah to condemn Israel, and justifiably so to a large extent, for waging its war in a way that has a high civilian, thus innocent, death toll. But we also need to fill our credibility gap. Hezbollah's strategy is to fire rockets into Israel indiscriminately...they only have a vague idea where those rockets will land. Their targets with these missiles is the civilian population of Northern Israel; and unlike Israel, they've not warned civilians to leave the area.
It seems to me that Hezbollah's goal is to fire rockets from high-density civilian areas in the hopes (that's right, I said hopes, thus goal) that Israel will immediately retaliate by firing a rocket there, killing plenty of civilians. The more civilians that Hezbollah can entice Israel into killing, the more outrage from Arab and non-Arab nations alike will be heaped upon Israel. But in particular they want outrage from the Arab people. It's a recruiting tool in its effort to at some point trigger a war with Arab nations on one side and Israel on the other because they do not want Israel to exist.
It is a despicable way to wage war. Not only are they hiding behind civilians, their goal is to kill civilians...kill civilians in Israel with missiles that will result in Israel firing rockets at them, which will kill Lebanese civilians. And it's working wonderfully, from a propaganda standpoint and from a purely goal-oriented strategery standpoint.
I confess I have no answers. But let me ask you this: If there was a large terrorist group in Windsor, Ontario, Canada with sympathies among a large portion of the Windsor population, and if that group deployed the Hezbollah strategy and fired inaccurate missiles into Detroit, Michigan, USA, would we feel exactly the same way about the resultant civilian death toll in Windsor from our retaliation as we feel about Israel's?
Just once I'd like to see a television interview or read a newspaper interview where a Shia civilian in Lebanon condemned the actions of Hezbollah. Hezbollah is much more to blame for these civilian deaths than Israel. So while I will continue to point out the folly of Israel's strategy or lack thereof, it's high time we emphasize where most of the fault lies.

On the flipside, it would be nice to hear the right say the things we on the left have been saying from the beginning...that Israel is falling into a centuries' old trap; that the war cannot be won this way; that for every Hezbollah killed, for every Lebanese civilian killed they're creating multitudes and generations of Hezbollahs.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Southampton Dock, The Final Cut

While I'm busy today with resumes and trying to do more networking with Maine Independents, I thought this would be a good time for the next installment of Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut." As the album is laid out, this song immediately follows "The Fletcher Memorial Home," which is in a blog called Overgrown Infants. Enjoy, or about ponder.

"They disembarked in '45, and no one spoke and no one smiled...there were too many spaces in the line (my emphasis). And gathered at the cenotaph all agreed with hand on heart to sheath the sacrificial knives.
But now, she stands upon Southampton Dock with her handkerchief, and her summer frock clings to her wet body in the rain. In quiet desparation, knuckles white upon the slippery reins, she bravely waves the boys goodbye again.
And still the dark stain spreads between their shoulder blades, a mute reminder of the poppy fields and graves; and when the fight was over, we spent what they had made. But in the bottom of our hearts we felt the final cut."

This was obviously written in reference to the boys leaving for the Falkland Islands. So just add another chapter for today's boys who have and will embark.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Barbara Merrill update

I did indeed attend her coffee tour stop this morning, though it became evident to me early on that this was not a good forum or setting to get our questions asked, answered and relayed back to you in an efficient, accurate way. She has graciously agreed to respond to our questions in written form. So I'll spend the day today reformulating, updating and putting those questions into an email that I'll send off later today. So if you've thought of something else you'd like to ask or a better way of asking your question, there's still time.
While we wait for her answers, I would suggest you check out her website, as it does address to a fair degree some of the issues we've discussed.
I did get to sit and chat with her and a couple members of her campaign staff. My take meeting her in person is that she's earnest and genuinely cares about the people of Maine and the issues they face. Perhaps the best way of stating it is that I think she understands those issues, and that is in large part due to the fact that she in my opinion is one of everyday Mainer. She seems informed on the issues, she's intelligent, down to earth and most importantly open minded. She understands that the current political environment is not conducive to change, not conducive to new ideas and, therefore, not conducive to getting things done that will make a real difference in the lives of Mainers.
Obviously it would beg the question of whether, if elected, could she overcome the current intransigence in State politics and get things done. Would she be able to get reforms through. I believe any elected official in a position like governor can get a lot done if it is the will of the people. The electorate can demand, believe it or not, that their elected officials reform government; but you can't put that kind of pressure on politicians by doing nothing, nor by simply voting. If we truly want something done, we need to exert as much pressure as possible through being active in all the ways that are available; and if they don't do what we want, throw them out.
And there's also this from the Kennebec Journal , which Barbara only had a chance to refer to briefly, in that it was taking up a lot of time recently.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Rest of the World

I'm taking a hiatus from the Middle East conflict for a few days because the more I watch and read and hear, the more angry and less open minded I'm becoming about the situation. Not that that will help my clarity but it's worth a try, and I'm sure I'll have somewhat of a refreshed opinion soon. If you'd like to see what other people are saying about it, the blogosphere is all abuzz. You can start with the great blogs I've chosen to be in my blogroll or you can click on Global Voices and start there.
Thanks for the questions and ideas regarding Barbara Merrill, and I will be attending her stop tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to find a way to accurately convey everything she's asked and her responses, as I realized last night I no longer have a tape recorder and finances are kind of tight to go buy one.
So I decided to ponder independent politics and also to look around the world news a little. Here are a few interesting things I found.
The Chinese Government accuses the Dalai Lama of having links to the CIA, which is putting the kibosh on talks of a compromise over the future of Tibet vis-a-vis autonomy or independence from China.
Of course, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Malikiis in Washington today and spoke before Congress this morning. "Let me be very clear," al-Maliki said. "This is a battle between true Islam, for which a person's liberty and rights constitute essential cornerstones, and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak." Okay, gotcha. But what about Hezbollah? Oh that's right, I was taking a break from all that. I don't like his position on this issue; but hey, he is the duly-elected leader of Iraq. And all the politicians who voted for this war, "You don't have a dog in this fight." He's the leader of a sovereign nation; he can have whatever opinion he feels is best for his country. (heavy mix of truth and sarcasm) Did you know more people die every day in Iraq than in Lebanon and Israel? Combined both "altercations" are worth in the neighborhood of 150 a day, but neither one's a war apparently.
More Big Dig fun. Apparently an official after a 1999 inspection said he wouldn't be surprised if the ceiling plates came down because he didn't think the bolts were strong enough. As you may know, it did fail and a woman lost her life because of it.
There is a Michael Savage, Ann Coulter, et al rant in my future but I did find this. This link is to a page where you'll find a video link. I can't seem to link the video directly. The video is a teaser clip for tonight's "Big Idea with Donny Deutsch" on CNBC, Coulter says, speaking of former President Clinton, "I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality." Do I need to say anything?
And finally, kudos to Republican Senator Arlen Specter. At least someone is finally going to try to do something about at least one area of President Bush's abuse of power, the signing statement. “We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will...authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional,” Specter said in regards to submitting a bill which would allow Congress to sue the President over this issue in federal court. You can read more
Opinions, thoughts and perspectives on any of these stories are welcomed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What would you ask?

I will be attending one of Barbara Merrill's Coffee Tour stops tomorrow morning in Winthrop; and if the opportunity presents itself, I'll ask a question or few. My intention is to ask questions of relevance related to the fact that this candidate is an independent running for Governor of Maine. So I'm not planning on asking questions about the Middle East or fires in California.
If you're from Maine and want to know where she stands on an issue particular to us, let me know. If you have a question of national importance that where her answer has relevance, ask away. I intend to ask a question related to Independent election issues...I just haven't framed it as of yet. This is your opportunity to use me as your vehicle of information. So don't hesitate to propose a question.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Representative Government, Part III

As I've said many times in other posts, particularly "Representative Govt," we need to be vigilent. We need to remember what our politicians say, when they say it and why they say it because, if we don't, they'll continue to make fools of us. They know we have short memories.
Why do I bring this up? Take a look at a few of these quotes put together by The Psychotic Patriot and see if that doesn't make your blood boil enough to kick the whole lot of them out. The Psychotic Patriot: Let Us Recall What They Said....
Some examples?
"These international war crimes were led by Gen. Wesley Clark...who clicked his shiny heels for the commander-in-grief, Bill Clinton." Michael Savage
"I cannot support a failed foreign policy...There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory." Tom Delay(R-TX)"
Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." Gov. George W. Bush(R-TX)
"You think Vietnam was bad? Vietnam was nothing next to Kosovo." Tony Snow, Fox News, 3/24/99

And you should keep some things in mind when people tell you they're glad we now have a president who's tough on other countries, tough on terrorists, one who knows there's more to being President of the United States of America than talk; not like Bill Clinton. So there's this from Driftglass. But I'll pull an exerpt:

Jack Kemp "On the horrors of unbridled Executive Power: “What Clinton did to Yugoslavia was bad enough, but what he did to the United States Constitution was even worse. He stole from Congress its constitutional power to decide when and if America goes to war. He stole from the Senate its treaty-ratification power by agreeing -- without Senate approval -- to change the mission prescribed in the NATO treaty from defensive to offensive."

I would encourage you to read these other blogs, as I only pulled out representative samples to make a point. Also, I realize I'm picking on Republicans here this time; but as I've said in previous installments of Representative Govt (June Archives), I find the Democrats just as guilty most of the time. "I voted for it before I voted against it," for example. And I'm sure my conservative friends could give many other examples. Yes, I have conservative friends. This particular post is an effort to show the hypocrisy between two periods of time to make a point.

Overgrown Infants

I've been drawn back recently to the last Pink Floyd album with Roger Waters, "The Final Cut." I wonder why. It was timeless then and poigniant now. I plan to periodically post the lyrics to selected songs, and hopefully they'll make you think as much as they make me think. The first selection I'll post musically starts out with ballroom dancing music, violins.
As you read, you can easily be drawn back 20 years ago when it was written, and you can also easily replace the names to today and get the same effect. In fact, I think he was 20 years ahead of himself in many ways. This album was the final nail for Pink Floyd, as the rest of the boys were tired of this direction in their music. In my opinion it's a masterpiece. It shows the madness and brilliance of Roger Waters, flaming liberal that he is.
If memory serves me correctly, the Fletcher referred to is Roger Waters' maternal uncle who fought in WWII. I don't have the album jacket at my fingertips. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.
There is a video for the song but I find it distracting from the lyrics. So I'll link it here if you're not familiar with the song.
The intro is called "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert," which you won't hear on the video.
"Brezhnev took Afghanistan, Begin took Beirut, Galtieri took the Union Jack; and Maggie over lunch one day took a cruiser with all hands, apparently to make him give it back."
Now "The Fletcher Memorial Home:"
"Take all your overgrown infants away, somewhere, and build them a home, a little place of their own; the Fletcher Memorial Home For Incurable Tyrants and Kings. And they can appear to themselves every day on closed circuit TV, to make sure they're still real; it's the only connection they feel.
'Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Reagan and Haig, Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley, Mr. Brezhnev and party, the ghost of McCarthy, the memories of Nixon, and now adding colour a group of annonymous Latin American meat packing glitterati.' Did they expect us to treat them with any respect?
They can polish their medals and sharpen their smiles and amuse themselves playing games for awhile...boom, boom, bang, bang, lie down you're dead.
Safe in the permanent gaze of a cold glass eye, with their favourite toys; they'll be good girls and boys, in the Fletcher Memorial Home For Colonial Wasters of Life and limb.
Is everyone in? Are you having a nice time? 'Good time'. Now the final solution can be applied."

I hope that even if you don't agree with this in all its specificity, you'll agree with and appreciate its sentiment.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Barbara Merrill drops by Inside Zebster

Welcome, Barbara, to Inside Zebster! She took time from her busy schedule in the State Legislature and campaigning to respond to my earlier post about her Independent candidacy for Governor of Maine.

"I just wanted you to know I'm listening in and will check back once in a while so I can answer any questions which might arise.

If I could comment on a couple of points, I would like to say that I think looking closely at my experience as a lobbyist is very understandable. I was not a hired gun in the sense that I would represent anyone and am proud of the businesses and nonprofits which I served. But the question always follows, that now that I serve the public as a whole am I able to to seperate myself from this past work. I believe my record in the Maine House demonstrates that. I hope you all come to the same conclusion.

I don't know if you know this but Governor King once worked as a lobbyist before the Maine legislature. He lobbied for environmental groups. He also worked on the inside of government for a brief period as did I. His work was for the US Senate, mine for the Maine Senate. I think the fact the King saw the world as an outsider but had experience as an insider made him effective. I hope my similar experience will serve me as well.

Finally, mention is made of the fact that the state got into financial problems in King's second term and that things have improved under Gov. Baldacci. I agree with the former and strongly disagree with the latter. In King's defense, he was the first Governor elected after the Maine government shut down and as such was understandably worried about pushing back too hard on a legislature which wanted to spend more. Having observed this first hand, I have made clear that when I am elected, there will be no budgets passed by a simple majority and I will veto any budget which isn't fiscally responible.

It is very important to avoid any shut down of government services but it is even more important to fashion a government which we can afford which is managed soundly. "
8:41 AM, July 20, 2006

Thank you, Barbara. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Barbara's website has been updated here, and I see she'll be in my area on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll be able to attend one of the stops on her coffee tour, and better yet maybe get a chance to ask her where she stands on independent issues like election reform. And she must be doing something right, as I see on the website that the Governor's staff felt it important to "take issue" with her current campaign ad.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lighter, not necessarily brighter

The Daily Show - Taint

I just really felt the need to lighten things up a great deal. This clip is hysterical. It's a little off color but clean...everything's just implied. If you don't know what your taint is, it taint your scrotum and it taint your butt. Enjoy. It is political...sort of.
I'll be mostly blogging for the next couple of days about the British Open on All Things Zebster. Come over for an update.

Also, if you can't watch the video, like at work -- like you're actually working at work -- please enjoy these links:

I found all of these on
"SYDNEY, Australia - A man caught with six eggs from endangered species in his underwear as he was preparing to fly to Bangkok was fined 25,000 Australian dollars (US$20,000) Monday by a judge who rejected his claim that he only wanted to surprise his girlfriend." Is that an endangered species in your pocket?

Since I'm from Maine, I had to include this story about the two-toned lobster. "BAR HARBOR, Maine - An eastern Maine lobsterman caught a lobster last week that looks like it's half-cooked."

From the definitely not brighter category, "BERLIN - A 61-year-old German on trial for theft got himself into more trouble when he stole from the judge during his court hearing, police said Thursday." Read more here Look also on this page and you'll see a link about a woman in Oregon who called 911 trying to get a date. Unfortunately it's a video and I can't figure out how to link it here. Basically police came to her house to tell her to turn down her music. After they left, she called 911 because she thought he was cute and wanted him to come back.

"FULDA, Minn. - It's probably not a good idea to switch drivers while the vehicle is moving." At least they had the cruise control set. Don't laugh too've done worse while driving; haven't you?!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Two questions

Can someone explain to me how Israel's strategy in its war against Hezbollah is in Israel's best interests? I understand that getting rid of Hezbollah or weaking them and getting them away from the Lebanon/Israel border is in Israel's best interest. But I'm talking about the strategy here, the mechanics, as it were, of accomplishing this task.
A prosperous, stable and democratic Lebanon is in Israel's best interest as well; a country on its border that does not learn or re-learn to see Israel as its enemy, as an invader. Is it in Israel's best interest to be at war with the government of Lebanon, the people of Lebanon and even the military of Lebanon? How can bombing the airport, bombing ports, destroying roads, bombing military installations and killing Lebanese soldiers be in the best interest of Israel?
Isn't it more likely that the result of this strategy, whether the stated objective is achieved or not, is that the Lebanese people and the Lebanese government will see Israel as a threat? Isn't it likely that from these ashes will be born new members of Hezbollah or new hezbollahs? Doesn't this play into the hands of Syria and Iran? How can Lebanon ward off the influences of Syria or more importantly defend itself from Syrian-backed terrorists and infiltrators when the Lebanese government is weakened, when its people grow to hate Israel and respect Hezbollah because of the humanitarian things that Hezbollah has done in Lebanon?
There are members of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government. Do you think this strategy that is harming the citizens and government of Lebanon as much as it is hurting Hezbollah will result in more or less members of Hezbollah being elected to the Lebanese government?

Is the United States strategy, or lack thereof, of standing by Israel while not seeming to be standing by the people and government of Lebanon a smart one? Is not Lebanon an ally of the United States? Is not a stable, democratic, prosperous (stop me if this mantra sounds familiar) Lebanon, a good neighbor and friend of Israel, in the best interest of the United States? Can't we support Israel and yet be supportive of Lebanon? Can't we do more than publicly tell Israel to use restraint as it pummels its neighbor, a neighbor who is an ally of the United States.
You wonder what our strategy is, what our government thinks is in our best interest in this situation as we watch Israel bomb the Beirut airport, destroy roads and other infrastructure, even bomb military installations that result in the deaths of Lebanese soldiers.
Shouldn't we at the very least appear to care about what's happening to Lebanon? The result of standing by and appearing not to care is that we'll have one less ally in that region, actually likely one more enemy...another nest of future jihadists and killers of infidels, terrorists, insurgents, etc. Wasn't and isn't our purpose in being involved in this part of the world to make us safer at home?