Category Archives: The Soapbox

Joe the Plumber In Madison, Wis.

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber) h...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been trying to post once at the beginning of the week and once towards the end but right now I’m going to just post twice right off the bat. On her Friday show Rachel Maddow talked about how Joe the Plumber would be appearing to speak to pro-Walker supporters in Madison, Wis. Now I’ve not always agreed with Mr. Wurzelbacher but I was curious as to what he said last Saturday and so I looked it up on the internet (video here). To little surprise to me, I didn’t really agree with anything he said but there were two quotes of his that I felt myself really really disagreeing with him over. I’ve taken the liberty of taking dictation and writing down the two quotes and then responding to them below (let’s make this clear, these are my own copies of his quotes and while I carefully listened to the speech over and over while I copied over and over just to get it right I might have misplaced a word or two, but I really don’t think I have.)

“One of the things we need to do we got to take out of our vocabulary is the word deserve. You know, I don’t know about you-  I’ll tell you what, we’ll use it just once: Our veterans. Our military veterans, those are about the only people in our society that deserve anything from their federal government. They deserve to be treated with respect and honor. That’s the only people in our society that deserve anything.” First of all, I agree that our military veterans need to be treated with respect and honor but I don’t agree with the rest of Mr. Wurzelbacher’s comments regarding this. The thing is that military veterans do not simply “deserve anything from the federal government”.It’s not like you sign up for the military and get a free Respect and Honor card but our veterans earn their respect and honor by serving our country. And the teachers that educate the next generation serve our country, the volunteers who spend their afternoons with the elderly serve our country, the bureaucrats who make sure that our capitol continues to function serve their country and the nation’s custodial staff that keep our public places and offices clean  serve our country. And their service entitles them to our respect and honor. And their service entitles them to “anything from the federal government.” We can quable over how much they get from the feds but their hard work for our nation entitles them to at least a little somethin’.

“They’re [the pro-union protesters] chanting little chants, not really getting anything done. But you guys have made it happen for this country, you’ve made it happen for Wisconsin.” This raised a question in me that might be petty but this is my blog so here’s my potentially petty question: If the union supporters who have rallied in Madison are not really getting anything done then what are the Walker supporters who have rallied in Madison getting done? What is the separation between the two groups? Aren’t both of them simply gathering to express their opinion on a legal issue and exercising their right to peacefully assemble?

And that’s all. Actually, that’s not all. I just want to take this time to express my support for the “Wisconsin 14” (Goodness, as a nation is there nothing we like better than slapping a catchy name on something?) but perhaps that’s going to be another post…

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I Use Online Cartoons To Support My Opinions

Cover of "Barnyard - The Original Party A...

I'm not going to recommend this (Though I might not have seen it.) --Cover via Amazon

All through my life I’ve had one set mindset regarding reviews: Stupid. And then I started reading them. These past few years I’ve been hearing myself say things like: “Well, The New Yorker really hated that. ” (In fairness they hate most things that actually gross over two dollars in the opening weekend.) OR “I want to pick up this book I saw reviewed in Newsweek.” And then I started writing them.

Up to a few seconds ago I was pretty ambivalent about them. It seemed ridiculous (You know what’s ridiculous? The spelling of ridiculous.) that one person should tell me whether or not to watch a movie or buy a shirt based off of their own opinions. I mean, watching that eighty-something year old review Barnyard was just painful, although in the end I did agree with him (a quick note: I am almost completely positive that I watched this and did not enjoy it but in full disclosure I might have just seen the preview, my memories are fuzzy). And then the idea that someone should be basing their opinions off of my crappy blog post just frightened me (not that anyone is really reading this blog but you catch my drift.)

Recently I started justifying my avid reading of reviews in two ways:

  1. There is just way too many books, cds, pairs of underwear, movies, etc. coming out that trying to read/listen to/wear/watch them all is damnedly overwhelming and finding a reviewer who you tend to agree can help to keep you from reading/listening to/wearing/watching crap.
  2. Every once in a while they just shred it (The New Yorker‘s review of Bush’s new book) and that is just terrific good fun. Like a tiger mauling a bunny.

However there was always a part of my brain where I still felt icky about reviews until a few minutes ago when I read this strip from Questionable Content. My mind feels at peace now.

I’m not writing any more about this strip because I have no idea what the copyright laws are and although I would probably meet the strip’s creator if he sued me over it (something I really want to do- the meeting not the being sued) I really, really, really don’t want to be brought to court.

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Do You Kiss Your Family/Pastor/Respected Community Leader/Principal With That Mouth?

Jael Phelps picketing Trinity Episcopal Church...

Of course, some comment wars end up occurring off-line as well.--Image via Wikipedia

It used to be that I loved the comment wars that spring up whenever anything is posted online. Since you’re reading this blog you’re online so you know what I’m talking about: An article is posted and then one or two people comment and then comes a post condemning the person for their sins. A reply comment is posted about how the previous post was ignorant and stupid. Then comes another reply attacking either of the previous two or both. It’s an endless cycle.

Here’s a hypothetical situation:

Jeff B.: Great blog, I love it!

Stefan: Totally adorable -_-

William3: This article is just another example of how the right-wing media is nothing more than capitalist whores in bed with Hitler and Bush. KILL BUSH

Monica: Did you even read the blog? Your reading comprehensin skills must SUCK

2HotMama: The bible specifically talks about this in verse 32. America is slowly being consumed by the DEVIL’s forces.

Tortilla: @William 3: I’m so fucking fed up of your leftfear shit

Polly: This is wuts rong with u.s.a.

It then goes on for seven pages worth of comments. Sometimes more.

Like I said, I used to love these. They were hilarious. People ranting and raving and never responding to anything people actually said and often times never providing facts just a lot of colorful swearing made up of grammatical symbols. You m@&h3% Fu(#3%s.

Lately though I’ve stopped finding these funny. Over the past six months or so (possibly longer) they’ve stopped  giving me laughing fits and I now get actual stomach cramps when I read them.

I like the idea of having online discussions and it seems that the comment box of an article or blog post would be the ideal spot to have said online discussions but for a major flaw. The flaw that I see is that humans feel they are invincible online. They are anonymous and for all we know you’re a PhD holder who has healed the sick in Calcutta and is uniquely qualified to share your opinions without sourcing facts and without being respectful.

There are quite a few nice posters but at the same time there seem to be a handful of internet junkies who spend their time saying things that could never be used in an academic discussion or really any discussion of any kind. Why bother posting a comment that simply says: You Crazy Christians Are Crazy!!!!!!! Are all the Christians in the world going to go: Oh wow, I never thought of it like this. I’m going to forsake my cultural beliefs because of Frogger93. No, they’ll probably respond with: God hates you Fag. So what did any of that accomplish? Squat. There might have been some primal venting going on but all in all they just cluttered the internet with annoying and offensive comments.

And maybe it’s the librarian in me speaking but where are the sources? I’m not demanding that you use MLA or anything (though I would like that a lot) but when using facts like: Obamas a SOCIALIST can you at least link an article? And furthermore when referencing a scripture from any holy book can you also give us your credentials as an authority on this particular interpretation or again link us to an article? Thanks.

Basically I have four things that I wish people would consider before posting:

  1. Is this provocative? If so then will I return here to engage in discussions it provokes? If no then why post it?
  2. Is it vulgar? Will my language turn off readers so that they only see red and don’t bother to return with any useful discussion posts?
  3. Have I sourced my facts? Are any non-opinions adequately backed so that others can see that I’m not pulling them out of my arse?
  4. Would I say this if my family was around? My pastor? My respected community leader? My principal?

And on a slight tangent:

After reading far too many of these comment wars I’m going to try to implement my own guidelines to prevent them from happening here (because you know that I have hundreds of comments a day).

  1. Any vulgarities will be edited out. (Any edited post will have  a notice on it explaining that it was edited.)
  2. Any posts that rely on unsubstantiated facts will not be approved.
  3. That’s all for now.

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Hooplah!

The Department of Justice building in Washingt...

Image via Wikipedia

Why am I ecstatic? Just ask U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips. She’s the darling who just issued an injunction on that little ol’ law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” According to this article from the A.P. the current ruling ends “the U.S. military’s 17-year-old ban on openly gay troops.”

Seventeen years… That is my exact age, meaning that for my entire life my minority has been specifically targeted by law to limit our rights. Now, I may be a (almost always) pacifist but if my same-sex loving brethren want to sign up without wanting to hide part of who they are then all the power to them!

One thing in the article gave me pause. The President’s Department of Justice can appeal this ruling within 60 days “but Department of Justice attorneys are not likely to stay mum since Obama has made it clear he wants Congress to repeal the policy.”  Now I’m no political strategist but I really want Obama to let this stand. This doesn’t seem to be the time to be making a political statement by forcing Congress to take action. Of course I might just be saying that because the Mid-Term Elections are coming up and I don’t see Congress repealing DADT before the Democratic hold on Congress really sways.

In the meantime I am going to something a little celebratory and forget politics. Maybe I’ll update my Facebook status.

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My Secret Agenda

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

We're coming for YOU! Image via Wikipedia

I have a small confession. Now, this confession will undoubtedly lead to me swiftly being whacked by the Gay Mafia (and no, not in the enjoyable sense) but I feel that the time has come to speak the truth. Even now I can see the Armani suits coming down my driveway for me, I have little time left. Let it be known that before being strangled by a white silk scarf I spoke the truth out of respect for Glenn Beck and his fellow patriots. Here is the truth:

The Gay Agenda exists. And now I am here to spill my rainbow guts out on the cyberspace. The Gay Agenda is as follows:

The Gay Agenda is the fight to achieve equal rights in the eyes of American society, including, but not limited to, the right to marriage, the right to adopt and the right to be discriminated against for reasons other than our sexual orientation.

The Velvet Mafia is almost to the door, at least I finally spoke the truth.

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You Just Said What?

Hamburger Summit 2010 – Green Mountain Daily w...

Some perfectly friendly Vermonters-Image by origamidon via Flickr

After living in Vermont for close to two decades (my entire life that is) I tend to forget that outside of the Green Mountains politics tend to be… not quite so nice. Actually everything outside of the Green Mountains seems to be less nice but that’s a whole ‘nother post. For an example of this let’s go to our neighbors across the lake. No, not the Canadians, I’m thinking of the neighbors across the lake that’s not Memphramegog. Yup, Champlain which means I’m talking about New York. Now, to be fair to New York it has the Adirondecks, most of my family, fantastic shopping, a scoop shop named Custard’s Last Stand and gay pride events but they also have really mean people.

I’m thinking of this because as I was making a mess of crepes (post regarding my mess of crepes coming soon) I was also listening to NPR. During the 4 p.m. slot they interviewed Andrew Cuomo‘s opponent for the New York governor’s seat. All of you news junkies out there know that I am referring to Carl Paladino. Did anyone else catch Cranky Carl’s interview? [Note: I am instantly regretting using the nickname Cranky Carl due to the fact that I really don’t like it when politics turns to name calling but “catch Cranky Carl” just had the whole alliteration going for it. I mean it out of love Mr. Paladino and promise to be more respectful from now on.]

Mr. Paladino’s interview was… well, let’s just say that I don’t know what his issues are but I do know that he could use a mild rhino tranquilizer in the mornings to calm him down. If I find a link to the interview I’ll post it right away but for right now you’re going to need to take my word on this. The interview started with a mild question regarding certain challenges made by Mr. Cuomo’s campaign about Mr. Paladino’s ethics in business and possible mild hypocrisy. Mr. Paladino flew right off the handle immediately and never got back on it. At one point he even growled at the interviewer something along the lines of, “I defy you to…” [Yes, I know, I really need to get at least the transcript of this interview.] It quickly turned into the interviewer saying one thing and then Mr. Paladino just laying into him about, well, seemingly anything on his mind.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve noticed that New Yorkers tend to be a bit more, er, a bit more less polite than we hill folk are, almost anytime I pick up The New York Daily News or The New York Post I feel like I’m almost a hundred years in the past and Pulitzer is still concocting stories for his paper. Of course, we Vermonters aren’t always quite so polite, I seem to remember that a couple hundred years ago we set fire to a few houses of flat landers, particularly New York flat landers. But at least we simply burn down the house and then move on, we don’t go on National Radio and scream and holler just to prove that we aren’t “politically correct”. [Yes, Mr. Paladino did describe himself as being proud that he wasn’t P-C.]

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Really Well Played, Dubie…

”]Front view of the Vermont State House (taken S...

Lately every Vermont television station has been carrying ads from Dubie’s campaign for Governor that attack Shumlin’s sensible plan to keep the prison population at manageable levels. I’ve been fairly angry with the Dubie campaign for their attack ads and have long suspected that these ads are not giving the full picture. Here’s a link to a rather interesting article on Vt. Digger that discusses the stretching and twisting of facts that the Dubie campaign put into that ad. http://vtdigger.org/2010/09/28/dubie%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%9clist%e2%80%9d-of-offenders-doesn%e2%80%99t-exist/

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