Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Why my vote doesn't matter, and why I'm voting anyway

As someone pointed out to me, unless something drastic happens between now and November, my vote doesn't matter at all in this upcoming election.  I am and will be a resident of Houston, Texas, which means my state's electoral votes will go to George W. Bush.  I'm also lucky enough to be in Tom DeLay's congressional district, and he will win.  So either way, my vote doesn't matter.  The major votes I will get to cast with my ballot have already been decided.

But I'm going to vote anyway.  Sometimes I wonder why.  Even a friend of mine today admitted he isn't going to vote, because all the presidential candidates suck.  Now, I would be more than happy to try and organize a nationwide boycott of this year's presidential election, demanding better candidates for the highest office in the country.  But somehow, I don't think anyone would give a damn.  Because the fact of the matter is that 50% of the country essentially boycotts every presidential election anyway, simply by not voting.

I guess when it comes down to it, I'm voting because a true democracy hinges on every citizen voicing his opinion.  So I'll voice it, even if it won't be heard.  I've decided to speak softly and carry a big stick.  Someday my voice will be heard, or my big stick will be noticed.  And before that innuendo gets worse, I'm going to stop typing.

Song lyric of the day:
"Blind your eyes to what you see
You can't embrace it
Leave it well enough alone
And don't remember"
          Disturbed, "Remember"

Monday, July 26, 2004

A good point from Bill Clinton? No way!

I make no bones about it: I do not like George W. Bush as president of our country.  But I also try to focus my disdain on his policies and not on his character.  I actually believe he's a good man who is trying to do what he feels is best for the nation.  It was refreshing tonight watching the Democratic National Convention to hear former President Clinton say the same thing.  He made the point that most politicians (with a few corrupt exceptions) are decent public servants whose aim is to make America's future bright; they simply have different perspectives on the best method of doing so.

Personally, I hope this outlook spreads.  Maybe partisan politics can finally leave personal attacks behind and focus on issues (and I mean real issues, not whether people want to marry each other).  Let's talk about the foreign policy, let's talk about economic growth, let's talk about scientific research, let's talk about the future.

(Mike steps down from his soapbox, brushes his hair back, and grabs his book.)

Song lyric of the day:
"The past is gone
But something might be found
To take its place"
          -Gin Blossoms, "Hey Jealousy"

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Who would Jesus vote for?

So, laziness regarding this blog set in quick.  I don't really feel like writing up an entire entry on the religious right and how much they suck ass.  Personally, I know a lot of Christians and they are truly awesome people.  It really makes me sad that their Lord and Savior has been (as "The Boondocks" once put it) "hijacked by crazed right-wingers" for political purposes.  A small part of me wants to believe that they actually are evangelical and really have humanity's interests at heart.  But I don't.

Anyway, what I really wanted to do was include a link to this article that Jeff got from Ben.  It pretty much sums it up.

Also, a quote from one of my favorite authors, Tom Robbins, on John Ashcroft: "Ashcroft wants to turn America into a Christianized Iran with himself as Ayatollah."  And I thought he only wrote books about talking bean cans!

Bible verses of the day:
John 3:17: "For God sent not his Son to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
John 11:35: "Jesus wept."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Hate as the new cool

Okay, I'm gonna admit something: thanks to my friend Aaron, I'm now something of a forums junkie.  I rarely post, but I enjoy reading what other people have to say. However, I've noticed something that bothers me.  A lot of people post on forums just to talk about how much they think something sucks.  Ignoring the obvious question of, "In that case, why are you even here?" it raises a deeper issue: when did hating on stuff become cool?

It seems to me like people are trying to find more in common based on what they stand against than what they stand for.  (Of course, such a tendency is one of the guiding principles of this year's presidential election, but let's forget that.)  Anyway, I wish I had something insightful to say about that, but I don't.  Suffice to say, I don't understand it.  I do feel that the world would probably be a better place if everyone had a more positive outlook on things and focused on the good rather than the bad... but then again, I'm a cynical optimist.

Song lyric of the day:
"It's cool to hate, it's cool to hate
Liking stuff is just a waste of time
Yeah I hate everything, I even hate you too
So fuck you"
          -The Offspring, "Cool to Hate"

(The types of people I'm talking about might not even recognize the massive sarcasm in that song.  Which is just sad. :-P)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Marcus Dixon and mandatory minimum sentences

It happened over a month ago, but somehow I didn't hear about it until today when my mother was watching Oprah: Marcus Dixon has been released from prison.
The Marcus Dixon story in a nutshell: promising young black kid from Rome, GA, accepts a football scholarship to Vanderbilt over many other better athletic schools because he "wants to get an education."  Sleeps with 15-year-old girl.  She says it was rape.  He says it wasn't.  Jury agrees with him.  But (oh horror) she's 15, he's 18, so he's guilty of aggravated child molestation.  Mandatory minimum sentence: 10 years.
And now, after a year in prison, he's been commuted to time served and released.  Well, thank goodness the kid's entire life wasn't ruined.  To get to the point: mandatory minimum sentences (along with three-strikes laws) are a threat to justice.
Marcus Dixon didn't deserve 10 years.  It was consensual sex!  The judge thought it was ridiculous, and the jury thought it was ridiculous, but the minimum specified by the law forced them to enact a punishment that was far from fitting the crime.  What the hell do we have judges for, if they can't decide a prison sentence on a case by case basis?
Anyway, that's my rant for the day.  Wow, it's nice to just vent sometimes.  Jeff had a good idea.  Of course, his writings are far more thought-out and researched than mine.  I guess I just have this need to just pound away at a keyboard for five minutes and be done.
BTW, Cozumel was awesome.  We scuba dived every day and saw some crazy reefs.  I recommend it to anyone who likes diving, or who just wants to lay in the sun all day and drink great margaritas and eat nachos.
Song lyric of the day:
"All research and successful drug policy shows
That treatment should be increased, argh!
And law enforcement decreased
While abolishing mandatory minimum sentences"
          -System of a Down, "Prison Song"

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Cozumel and resumption of blogging

Tomorrow I am bound for Cozumel to do some scuba diving. When I return, I am taking inspiration from my friend Jeff Woodhead (yes, that is his real name) and making my blog more relevant to current issues. You can view his blog here.

I will still periodically update my whereabouts on the planet, as I have frequently been asked, "Are you in Houston? Are you in Nashville? Are you in Virginia? Where in the hell are you?" But since I find relatively little to report from my personal life (nor desire to bore people with such details) I will try to obey Jacob Grier's #1 rule of blogging: "Be meaningful." (You can view his blog here.

That is all. Oh, and I'll still have song lyrics, of course.

Song lyric of the day:
"Cold silence has a tendency
To atrophy any sense of compassion
Between supposed brothers"
          -Tool, "Schism"