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Fear.

Yesterday on NPR one of the shows (I think it was “Day To Day”) featured a discussion with land-owners and an assortment of politicians arguing over the building of the fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. Many land owners and citizens in communities along the border are opposed to the construction of the fence; the Bush administration is apparently bypassing several laws and literally just “bulldozing” their way through to build this fence. A link to the story is here.

I was listening to arguments for the fence as shared by Republican congressman Duncan Hunter of San Diego and agreeing with some of his points, but then he said something that I found ridiculous and he completely lost me. To paraphrase his quote: “The fence will stop cocaine from crossing the board and poisoning our children.”

Uh, no.

Border fence aside, if children are doing cocaine then it’s the result of bad parenting and a faulty education system. Building a 1000-mile fence is not going to make bad parents better and it’s not going to make our educational system stronger. This same fence is not going to stop illegal immigrants and drugs from crossing into the U.S. either. It’s a waste of money. It’s a waste of time. And it tramples the rights of many. Remember when the U.S. was the “land of the free” and many aspired to come here?

You know, it must suck to live in a constant state of fear. The current administration has done it’s best to make sure that we are constantly scared. Remember the whole “plastic and duct tape” mess a few years ago? “We might be attacked, by plastic and duct tape to protect your home.” “We have to hear what the bad guys are saying so we have to compromise your freedom and listen into any private phone call anywhere at anytime.” “We need to see what money is going to the Middle East so we are going to monitor all bank transactions.” Land of the Free? Not anymore.

Be afraid, be very afraid. That’s what they want.

The Bible beating crowd is big on fear. “Believe what it is in this book or you’re going to burn, burn, burn in hell.” “Be afraid of Him”. Funny, I always thought that “He” (and I don’t subscribe to that concept of a male God) was an all loving God. To make God into a judgmental, cranky man that will send one of his creations into eternal damnation for eating a burger on Friday* is sort of ridiculous if you really think about the logic.

Here’s the thing. I’m not afraid of much. I’m not afraid of being bombed, I’m not afraid of being gay, I’m not afraid of being gassed by bad meanies from another part of the world, I’m not afraid of being killed. What’s the worst that could happen? That I’ll die? I look at it this way: when it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go. My belief system (which includes reincarnation) tells me that I’ve already sort of planned this go around at life and that in some innate way I’ll know when it’s time to go and I’ll go as I planned before I started all this. Those that remain after I go will learn the lessons that they need to learn from my passing and how I passed, because we sort of discussed it before we were born.

A lot has changed in the 39 3/4 years I’ve been around. Hell, a lot has changed in the past eight years. Do I still believe in the world? I do.

I’m just not afraid of it.

* I have never understood the “no meat on Friday” thing, I’m just using it as a random example and is not meant to offend anyone that believes in that.

No Choices.

I’ve been trying to be a good citizen by keeping tabs on the Presidential nominees and getting together as much information as possible so that I can make an educated, valuable choice at the polls in November. I’ve scanned blogs, read speeches and watched news reports on the candidates from both sides of the coin.

The truth is, I’m finding this all very depressing. A while back I mentioned that if I were to vote at that moment I would vote for Hillary as our next president. I still find her to be a very strong candidate but I’m not sure she has the backing necessary to win the presidency. There are too many irrational people in our country that don’t like Hillary and refuse to vote for her. When asked why they wouldn’t vote for her, they have no response. They just don’t like her. I think some of it has to do with Hillary tolerating Bill’s fling with Monica and to me that’s beyond ludicrous. First of all, it’s none of our business and secondly the American society has instilled such ridiculous societal norms upon ourselves it’s a wonder we can function at all (but my feelings about all that are being saved for an upcoming blog entry).

I keep hearing all these claims about how progressive United States is but in truth that’s all a bunch of hot air. If anything, Americans in general are gleefully running backwards and against the grain of the world as a whole. Healthcare for everyone? Of course not, it would hurt the insurance companies! Equal rights for same sex unions? How crazy, it will end civilisation! Live in fear of a handful of people? Absolutely. “Be afraid, be very afraid”, that’s the new American mantra.

Whoever is elected as our next President has a very challenging path ahead and that’s putting it mildly. I believe that ANYONE is better than what we currently have, but when you set the bar in the basement you only have to climb the stairs to get over it. (Bush Lite has done a bang up job of doing some mighty fine damage in eight years.) The problem is, when I go to make cast my vote in November, I don’t think I’ll find anyone listed that is going to do what is necessary to turn our country around. Hillary is a little too old school for my tastes these days. I think Obama talks a good talk but I’m not sure he can walk the walk. And don’t get me started on the other side of the fence. I’m trying to learn but I just find them entirely too creepy. We have a war out of control, an economy that is rapidly deteriorating, ridiculous “security” controls in place at our borders (which wastes BILLIONS of dollars) and a populous that pretty much comes up 50/50 on any poll on just about any topic. Were we this divided before the Civil War?

So I’ll continue to read, learn and digest the information available on all the candidates for the presidency. I hope to find a light in the tunnel.

As it stands right now, the power is still out.

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Primary.

I’ve been keeping relatively quiet about the primary elections, caucuses and other activities that strain one’s high school lessons in social studies. Earl and I have had several discussions here at home, but for the most part I haven’t been doing much yapping on the blog.

If the truth were to be known, I already sick of the presidential election and it’s still 10.9 months away. However, I will say this: Over the past eight years I have equated “baby Bush” with the entire governmental process of the United States. As part of my extreme nature, “it’s all of them” that have been making life less than delightful for many Americans. I don’t believe that we are any safer today than we were on 9/12/01. I don’t even buy into that “be very afraid because they bad guys are going to get us” mentality. Hey, if it’s my time, it’s my time, whether it’s from a lightning strike, a bad piece of food, an anti-gay wing nut or at the hands of a terrorist. Quite frankly I think the country as a whole has it’s panties wound up entirely too tight and if people were to relax, think and ponder life a little bit instead of racing to hysterics at the smallest opportunity, the United States would be a much happier place.

A number of months ago I expressed a desire to move to Dublin, Ireland. It’s my favorite city, despite my very limited time of being there and someday I would like to live along the River Liffey. A number of months ago I also had dreams of becoming an Irish citizen and leaving Ol’ Glory behind.

I don’t feel that way anymore, and here’s why. Earlier this week Hillary Clinton’s now infamous “tearful speech” moved me.

But it was Clinton’s response to the last question from freelance photographer Marianne Pernold Young that provided the electric moment. How did Clinton keep going? “I couldn’t do it if I didn’t just passionately believe it was the right thing to do,” Clinton began telling Young, her voice cracking. “I have so many opportunities from this country and I just don’t want to see us fall backwards as a nation. This is very personal for me.”

When I heard Senator Clinton’s tearful response, it struck a chord in me. It wasn’t the tears that moved me, it was the message and the way that she conveyed her feelings on the subject. There *are* people in government that really do care about the United States. There are government officials that share my view that our great country is moving backwards on so many levels.

As children we are taught to respect the President. The President leads the entire country; it doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, black, white, straight, gay or whatever, the President is leading the whole crowd. Earl reminds me that we should always respect the office entitled President, but sometimes the person isn’t worthy of that respect. If I were to vote today, I would vote for Hillary Clinton. I believe that with her as our Commander In Chief, we would have a leader that I could respect once again.

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Respect.

At work we have a television that silently shows a pictures from CNN. We’re suppose to use this TV to monitor the weather but we got bored watching the clouds roll by so a number of years ago we opted for the 24 hour news channel instead. This past week we’ve been silently following the fate of the miners in Utah but today Bush Lite was up there doing another press conference. Watching this man with the sound turned down is kind of interesting. It lets you look at his body language a little bit.

First of all, everything I say about the leader of the free world smacks completely contrary to what I was taught by my parents and my teachers as a child. It is ingrained deep into my morality that we should always respect the President of the United States and his office. I fully believe that. However, I can not bring myself to respect this current administration. I just can’t do it. I try. I look for good points but I find few. The current administration does not respect me, simply because I’m wired to be attracted to the same sex. (“If God made you that way, then God must have made a mistake.”) Furthermore, they don’t respect my relationship with Earl, even though we are completely in love, completely inseparable, the best of friends, and still crazy about each other after more than a decade of doing this whole “until death do us part” thing. And don’t even get me started on the war, civil liberties, failing infrastructure and the building economical nightmare.

So even though I respect the role of the president, I don’t respect the man or any member of this current administration. Heck, I respected Reagan and the first Bush more than I respect this guy. The man is a dumbass. As I was watching him on the screen, I can’t help but notice the “I can’t believe I’m president!” look on his face. I’d have more respect for the goons that sell “I can’t believe its not butter!”

I have to admit I’m already tiring of the 2008 presidential elections. The mud is slinging, the words are flying, the coverage is endless and it’s already exhausting and we’re still 15 months away from the decision. I’m not sure for whom I would vote, but I’m pretty confident that whoever takes the coveted prize next year will automatically earn my respect until proven otherwise.

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Microsoft and NYS Election Law.

According to this blog entry (link), Microsoft is actively trying to get a relatively new New York State Election Law to be changed. This is pissing me off.

I was unaware but am quite happy to see that the Empire State has some of the strictest regulations in the country regarding electronic voting machines. One of the regulations is that the software must be “open source”, which means that anyone can take a look at the programming code that makes up the software and observe as to what makes the program tick. This removes any doubt about vote tampering through back-door and other unscrupulous means.

Microsoft doesn’t like open source software all that much; all versions of Windows and the vast majority of Microsoft programs are “closed source”, which means that only Microsoft knows what goes on inside their programs. This has made me nervous in the past, as I’ve worked for a computer company and I know what goes on inside corporate walls. The NYS election law requires that any software used on electronic voting machines must be “open source”, and that would include the Windows operating system that it’s running on. Microsoft doesn’t like that. Electronic voting machines would have to run Linux or FreeBSD (both open source, to the best of my knowledge) in order to comply with the election law.

Small wonder I stick to my aging Mac PowerBook G4 instead of using Windows Vista on my HP laptop.

My question is: why do we have to use electronic voting machines at all? The lever and flip the switch machines that we’ve used in New York have worked fine for a good number of years. Why this huge push to change to something else? They’re basically used just once a year, I’m sure someone somewhere could maintain and repair these machines for their annual duty.