Thursday, December 07, 2006

"As Maine goes..."

Starting in about 1840, Maine became known as a political 'bellweather' state, largely because Mainers voted for Governor and Congress in September, not November. With a two month jump on the rest of the country, pundits jumped on the Maine vote to look for voting trends, and indeed, Maine appeared to be a reliable predicter of the national mood up until the FDR years. Somewhere along the line, someone coined the phrase, "As Maine goes, so goes the nation."

Let's hope not.

In the name of political correctness (from the liberals), fighting terrorism (from the neoconservatives), and moral propriety (from the social conservatives), Free Speech is dying an ugly death throughout the state.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Residence Hall Guide contains a policy that prohibits harassment. Part of that policy reads: “Even if the harassment is unintentional, it still occurs and will not be tolerated.”

Excuse me? You can now harass someone, and not even know you're doing it - and be punished for it?! Since when did people gain a right to never be offended by someone? I guess if you're not enlightened in matters of the latest politically correct words, you may be punished simply for plain-speaking. You are guilty if someone doesnt like what you said, no matter what your intention was.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education states on their webiste, "...As a public university, UMPI cannot prohibit speech that is protected by the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has defined what schools may legitimately prohibit as harassment: conduct “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” By definition, then, an unintentional, off-hand comment or joke cannot be harassment, making this policy legally untenable. This policy is also completely ridiculous. How can a college prepare its students for the real world if it shields them from even the most mild offense? Society is full of people with different personalities and different viewpoints, and being offended is a part of everyday life. It is a disservice to lead young adults to believe they can breeze through life free from offense, because that simply does not reflect reality."

But Maine's assault on free speech is not rrestricted to the campus.

In Portland, Tom Connolly faces charges of terrorizing, reckless conduct, and criminal threatening. Why? Because on Halloween he dressed up as Osama bin Laden, and even carried a plastic squirt gun.

Oh my, imagine that. For 5 years Osama has eluded world wide military scrutiny, and there he was, sauntering down the street in Portland Maine. Yup, I would have believed that he had just flown in for a glass of wine in the Old Port District.... Might the costume have been in poor taste? Yup. Is poor taste illegal? Nope. Have we become so obsessed with terror that now we arrest people playing dress-up on Halloween? Was thatscarier than some of the blood-dripping, eye-ball festering, razor-tooth masks worn at Halloween? Perhaps Maine could outlaw all offensive Halloween costumes, even if they offend unintentionally..that would be consistent with the campus rules, at least...

But the latest blow to free speech came when a British Beer Company attempted to sell "Santa's Butt" in Maine. The label shows Santa from behind, sitting on a Butt (a barrel used in beer fermentation) hoisting a glass of ale.

The Maine authorities prohibited its sale in the state. The Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement said the label was considered "undignified and improper."

Since when is "Undiginified and Improper" a legal reason to stifle speech? I can think of many political rants that are both 'undignified and improper.'

The point is, it really shouldnt matter whether someone considers something 'undignified and improper.' That speech which is MOST offensive is PRECISELY that speech that needs to be vigilantly protected under the US Constitution. If it wasn't offensive, it wouldnt need to be protected! Someone may feel that espousing Nazi or Eugenicist philsophies is offensive, and so be it, they are. But it is still protected speech.

NO ONE HAS A RIGHT TO "NEVER BE OFFENDED." Deal with it, Mainers....

In a twist, Maine and other states (notably New York) have realized that they really can't prohibit something because its in 'poor taste.' Now both states are changing their tactic, suggesting that having Santa on the label would 'attract children' to drink it.

Nice try, guys...but there are already 12 Christmas-themed beers in both of those states, including Sam Adams "Old Fezziwig's Ale" and Anchor's "Merry Christmas" Ale. Other brands shows elves. And what 6-year old, enamoured of the picture of Santa, is going to saunter out of the grocery store with a 6-pack under his arm?

The problem here, as always, is that someone with the power of the state behind them believes it is their solemn duty to protect the rest of us: to protect us from being offended, upset, mislead, or scandalized.

Well, that's not your job, buckos. Get off your high horse and let the market determine whether Santa's Butt has a place at the table. We're adults, we can make our own decisions, and don't need you to make them for us.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

When will the Right stop pretending to be Holier-Than-Thou?

Mark Foley is not the first conservative to have been 'exposed' as a homosexual. And it is sad that his lawyer immediately tried to explain' his situation by revealing that he was sexually abused as a child, an deffor aimed at calming the fears of the militantly loyal (and righteous) religious right. After all, the right has 'tolerated' Dick Cheney's daughter (hey, after all, it is DICK CHENEY'S daughter, right?).

But what about the parade that has preceded this little scandal currently unfolding?

Anyone remember Mel White, press seceretary to Jerry Falwell and behind-the-scenes political operative for a dozen religious right politicos? He not only came out, he smashed the door down and pubished a book about it- "Stranger at the Gate."

And then there was Art Finkelstein, the pollster who enabled the Nassau County Republican machine to maintain its grip on the elctorate for a decade or more, and who propelled Alphonse D'Amato from a Town Presiding Supervisor to a U S. Senator.

How about Bob Baumann, former conservative darling and congressman from Maryland?

And now lets really reach back..back when I was a mere twenty-something, and Terry Dolan was the Chairman of NCPAC (the National Conservative Poitcial Action Committee) that propelled Ronald Reagan into the White House. I knew Terry, and worked on campaigns with him at the YAF headquarters at 25 Jane Street in Greenwich Village. A young man, Terry died in the AIDs crisis that exploded in the 1980s...and had the courage to come out as a gay man at that time.

No, my friends, there is nothing new about Gay Men who are otherwise conservative, hiding in the closets of their parent organizations, lest they be exposed, ridiculed, and shunned. Perhaps this Boston Globe editotial by David Link says it best:

"The inability to deal straightforwardly with gay people leads to other kinds of truth-avoidance when things go south. But that's what comes from not wanting to know something, and going out of your way to remain ignorant.

We've come a long way since homosexuals had two basic options: the closet or jail. But a good portion of the electorate, most of them Republican, still seems to long for the good old days when we didn't have to think about ``those people." Both Libertarians and, generally, the Democratic Party have withdrawn their official support for the closet over time. States, too, are seeing what a losing battle this is, and allowing homosexuals to live their lives in conformity with, rather than opposition to, the law.

But that leaves Republicans and the religious right trying to live a 1950s lie in the new millennium. As Foley prepared in 2003 to run for the Senate, newspapers in Florida and elsewhere published stories about his homosexuality. But you'd never hear any of his colleagues saying such a thing. And Foley himself refused to discuss the issue, until his lawyer acknowledged Wednesday that the former congressman is indeed gay.

But what can one expect from denying grown men -- and women -- a normal, adult sex life? Whether the denial of adult intimacy comes from religious conviction or the ordinary urge toward conformity, people who run away from their sexuality nearly always have to answer to nature somehow. For people who fear abiding and mutual love, the trust and confusion of the young is a godsend. Add to that the perquisites of power, and a degenerate is born.

...the Republican Party in Washington guarantees its own future calamities in its enduring and steadfast habit of pretending that, unlike heterosexuality, homosexuality can be either denied or suppressed."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The "Federal Marriage Amendment" - once again, Christian Conservatives look to the Beast for help...

Much was made in Enquirer-like circles of the fact that this week started with the date "06/06/06," a reminder of the "Mark of the Beast" in the Book of Revelations. It is a symbol that the End-Times Crowd has often warned about - and so it is increasingly ironic that many of the same Christian Conservatives and Republicans went running to the Beast this week in order to 'preserve' marriage. The Beast, of course, is how I refer to the Federal Government.

For decades, the Republicans have been telling us that they stand for smaller government, for limited government, for local control rather than federal fiats imposed on the states. This was one of Ronald Reagan's key mantras in the 1980s than helped propel him to two unprecendented landslide victories.

But do the Republicans really believe what they are saying?

In the last few years, this "small government" crowd has overseen the largest expansion of federal power since the Civil War - even more so than the much-derided New Deal under FDR. The Patriot Act, telephone surveillance, the development of a national ID card (REAL ID), warrantless searches, secret prisons and detainees held without bail or charges are not the actions of a "small government" crowd.

Of course, some try to tortuously defend all this by claiming we are at war. And yet, that doesn't explain the intrusive "No Child Left Behind" Act, the efforts by the Food & Drug Administration to regulate herbal supplements and fight state laws on medical marajuana, the efforts by Congress to interfere in major league baseball policy, the bloated budget, tariffs on steel and textiles, a government-expanded medicare boondoggle, or the abysmal deficit. These are not the acts of "small government" or "local control" thinking, and they can not be excused as temporary "war-time" acts. What they are is an unconscionable and unconstitutional expansion of Federal jurisdiction over the rights reserved to the States and to the People themselves (See your 10th amendment to the Bill of Rights).

And amazingly, the footsoldiers of Republicanism - the supposedly anti-big-government rank-and-file social religious conservatives - are in the vanguard of supporting the administration that has achieved the largest expansion of federal power in history.

And then comes the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Oh sure, it's great political hay. The Republican leadership can 'energize' its base by appealing to their emotion on the issue of 'gay marriage' and 'activist judges.' This is a formula that regularly works for the Republicans. And to be sure, many judges are activist, and inappropriately so. But a Federal Marriage Amendment is quite possibly the last leg of a journey whereby the lemmings chase each other off the cliff.

The Federal Government has NEVER had jurisdiction over 'family' issues. These issues have ALWAYS been the province of the states.

Indiviual states decide what the criteria for marriage are. Residency, minimum age, and blood tests vary from state to state. It's a state right, not federal.

Individual states decide what the criteria for divorce is. Abandonment, residency, cruelty, irreconcilable differences, alcoholism, impotency, imprisonment, and a host of other causes of action for divorce, as well as alimony terms, are different from state to state.

Other issues of Family law, such as adoption regulations, the legal status of private adoptions, teenage emancipation, and the legal definitions of abuse and neglect - are ALL individual state laws.

And somehow, we have always left these issues to the states, the states have always had conflicting and different standards, and civilization did not fall apart because of it. Rather, we are stronger for it: the genuius of our Constitution is that it recognizes that one size does not have to fit all, that Alaskans do not have to run their towns the way Floridians do, and that the sensibilities of Mexican immigrants in Arizona might be significantly different from tenth generation Maine Yankees.

By running to amend the Constitution, the religious right is doing precisly that which they supposedly fear: they are running to the federal government to impose a one-size-fits all solution on the entire nation, and, in so doing, seeking to hand over yet more jurisdiction over individual families to Federal Power.

It doesnt matter whether you favor gay marriage or not. This is the wrong approach, and is yet anoter examnple of how the 'small government' Republicans are using emotional scare tactics to amass even greater authority and jurisdiction in Washington.

Sincere apprecition must be expressed to the New England Republicans - Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe (Maine), John Sununu and Judd Gregg (NH) and Lincoln Chaffee (Rhode Island) who bucked their own party to vote against this nonsense.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Time for Patriots to stand firm: NO National ID Card!

"I will reject a REAL-ID-compliant NH drivers license/National ID but
only if 199 other NH residents or soon-to-be residents will vow to do
the same."
— BikerBill, NH Freedom Fighter

Deadline: Election Day, November 7, 2006

On May 11, 2005, the Orwellian, unconstitutional, unfunded legislation known as the REAL-ID Act, having been snuck through the US Congress without any debate or public scrutiny, was signed into law by a President who believes he is above his country's laws.

On May 11, 2006, a day that will live in NH history as either the start of the revolution or the true beginning of death throes for liberty, sovereignty and representative government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" in NH (and coincidentally the same day the massive NSA phone records database story broke), the NH Senate decided to defiantly, arrogantly and repeatedly disregard the Constitutions of the US and NH, the NH House, Gov Lynch, the Concord Monitor, the Manchester Union Leader, its own study committee and its laughably lopsided
testimony, as well as its rather vocal NH constituency, not to mention international press and organizations as disparate as the Cato Institute and the ACLU.

The New Hampshire House voted to defy the federal national ID card mandate.

But the NH Senate killed the bill sent to them from the House.

Rather, they chose illusory safety over essential liberty. They sold out their constituents, rejected HB1582, and embraced Federal unconstitutional authority in giddy anticipation of $3M in taxpayer-funded "sucker money."

They thus failed their duty, their oath, their citizens, their state, and their country. They are a true and bitter embarrassment to the Founding Fathers and the historic "Live Free or Die" culture of NH.

Let this message of jealously guarded liberty be sent to the NH Senate in no uncertain terms by their similarly defiant bosses (that's you) by Election Day, 2006.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My new Celtic Armband Tattoo

This was my first Tattoo, and I am totally jazzed about it. It took 4 1/2 hours start to finish. On a pain scale of 0-10, it was mostly only a 1 (less painful than a mosquito bite) for the outline on my upper arm. As we got to the second or third layer of color on the underside of my arm near my pit, it was more off strips of flesh and then exposing the remaining raw arm to an open flame...LOL! Actually, I may be hooked on the Pain..heh, heh, heh....

In all honesty, the artist and the parlor were great, professional, friendly, upbeat, and better than all my expectations. Major league thanks to Chris Molloy, the artist who designed the band, and Moms Tattoo parlor in Keene, NH (

Thursday, February 02, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities: Copenhagen and Washington

This time, there is nothing "rotten in denmark," to quote Hamlet. In fact, tiny Denmark is standing as a beacon of freedom and civilization against a backdrop of intolerant Islamic fundamentalism and spineless American hand-wringing.

Last fall, the Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, published 12 cartoon caricatures of Mohammed. Denmark has a long tradition of guaranteeing freedom of the press, and the cartoons immediately caused an uprising among Islamicists. Palestinaians have rioted in Gaza. Arab nations have withdrawn their ambassadors. Muslim spokesmen have requested UN intervention. Muslim states have embarked on a campaign to boycott all danish products. Even Denmark's fellow European states are hedging their bets and trying to make excuses and find a 'middle ground.'

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 57 Muslim states and territories, issued a memorandum on January 1 accusing the Danish government of "indifference" after Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen declined to intervene in the dispute. It should be noted that more than three-quarters of his fellow countrymen agree with his stand. His parties foreign affairs spokesman, Troels Lund, stated "It is important to stand our ground and say that we have a separation of powers in Denmark and something called freedom of expression."

Well, bully for the Danes! This is the same small state whose Christian citizens, when overrun by Hitlers'armies in WWII, rose in solidarity with their fellow Jews and wore yellow Stars of David. Today - when Islamic Fundamentalism seeks to silence any human expression it deems offensive (art, movies, music, prose, poetry, theater, even news) - Denmark is an example of freedoms that western civilization has always held dear. What a statement it would be if the free world would join the "Anti-Boycott" and purchase Tuborg Gold and Carlsberg Beers, and Havarti Cheese and Danish Butter Cookies in solidarity with Denmark's government.

A petition to support Denmark can be found here:

Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department has joined with the Islamicists, stating that the cartoons were 'offensive' and that freedom of the press must be balanced with 'responsibility.' In other words, if your message is anything but bland, it shouldn't be protected. As a practical example of this eradication of First Amendment rights, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan was arrested for wearing a shirt with an anti-war message to the State of the Union speech.

It's a sad day when the US government claims to be fighting Islamic terrorism while adopting their mentality...