No Constitutional Right to Bear Assault Grade Vegetables

I don’t think the 2nd amendment guarantees citizens the right to bear arms, though it does allow for a regulated militia – key emphasis on regulated – to protect the people.  Members of the the armed forces, and police departments have the constitutional right to bear weapons.

I don’t have a problem with private gun ownership.  I have no issues with shotguns and rifles for hunting.  I don’t think it is wise however to have a loaded gun at home, especially if there are children in the family.  And I don’t think people should be carrying around pistols or stashing heat in the glove box.  This creates too many opportunities for mischief making.

I do think some weapons should be banned – the really nasty ones like pistols, machine guns and assault rifles.  And there’s one particularly insidious class of assault weapons that needs to be eliminated now – large vegetables.  Just the other day a homeowner bonked an intruding bear on the head with a giant zucchini.  It was an unregistered vegetable that she had not been trained to use.  Imagine the damage squash, asparagus spears, giant Idaho spuds and genetically altered eggplants could do to a human.  Call your congressional representatives now to demand an immediate ban on all large vegetables before someone gets hurt.

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Scott Brown’s Favorite Word: NO

One thing I know about Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is that he knows how to say NO.  NO to immigrants.   NO to immigration reform.  NO to the DREAM Act, that would allow high school graduates of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship provided they attend college or serve two years in the military.  NO to a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which passed the House with bipartisan support (and bipartisan opposition) 234-194.  NO to tax cuts for the middle class.  NO to the extension of unemployment benefits.   NO to comprehensive health care reform.

Ok, I have to give him credit for crossing party lines to vote YES on a jobs billed that killed a Republican filibuster and for his support of a financial reform bill.   But….

He voted NO to confirm Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.  NO to allow states to set limits on credit card interest rates.  NO to campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Unfortunately, I have to wait 5 more years to vote Scott Brown out of office, unless he runs for president in 2012.  Hey, if he runs, maybe he’ll chose Sarah Palin or Christine O’Donnell as his running mate, both of whom are very good at just saying NO to everything including science.

Tea Party – It’s all in the Signs

What is the Tea Movement?  What are they all about?  As far as I can tell, they are radicalized Republicans who subscribe to the just say no platform of the party.  From the signage at the Tea Party rallies, protesters mainly target Obama and have done so with seething attacks that are often racialized and laced with conspiracy theories.  Some of the signs are ludicrously nonsensical (Obama compared to Hitler) or suggestive of something that is simply not true – that Americans have lost all freedom, that Obama is a Muslim, a socialist and not a U.S. citizen.  In all my years, I have never seen such hate and disrespect aimed at a sitting President.  This is truly unprecedented, alarming, unpatriotic and bordering on sedition.

I’d like to briefly comment on some of the signs from various Tea Party events documented on Wikimedia.

Taxed Enough Already – then why not favor a tax cut for the middle class? Obama does.

Dissent is Patriotic – I couldn’t agree more.  But dissent requires civilized debate, not crazed yelling.  Fomenting conspiracy theories, disrespecting the President and general rabble rousing is not patriotic.  And simply saying no, is not dissent.

Obama’s Plan White Slavery – not much to say about this one except it smacks of racism.  In fact, Obama’s policies provide a safety net for all Americans who are unemployed and health care for the millions who are uninsured.

Free Market not Freeloaders – the suggestion here is that the government should have no role whatsoever in providing for the general Welfare of the country and its people.  Actually this is the purpose of the government as laid out in the Preamble of the Constitution.   An unregulated free market is what got us in this economic mess in the first place.  The problem is that too many big corporations are still freeloading by not paying their share of taxes.  If I ever attend a Tea Party rally, I will bring a sign that says End Corporate Welfare.

No Socialism, Keep America Free – on this, I’d say go to school and study history.  As to freedom, America is free; if it weren’t, there’d be no rallies, or elections.

Where’s the Birth Certificate – where’s your birth certificate?

My Budget Can’t Afford Your Deficit – who did you vote for in the last two Presidential elections prior to 2008? The deficit is a legacy of Republican plunder.

Jesus is Lord not Allah – Christians worship Jesus; Muslims, Allah.  We are still free in this country to practice any religion we want and free not to practice any if we so chose.   And for the record, not that is matters to me, Obama is a Christian, not a Muslim.

I’ve Had Enough Change We Can Bereave In and Now We’re Broke – Well, you should have thought about that when you voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004.  We’ve been broke for a long time, and change is the only way back to solvency.  Encourage your party to participate in policy making rather than simply being the obstructionist party of no, full of slogans, bereft of ideas.

MasterChef Review

Did you watch the reality show Masterchef?  Yes, another cooking competition, as if there weren’t enough already.  Let’s see, there’s Top Chef, Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Iron Chef, BBQ Pitmasters and dozens of others if you include the lineup on the Food Network.

MasterChef is another one of those Gordon Ramsay concoctions on the Fox network.  His mug is everywhere and he seems to be quite popular, not to mention successful with a string of world class restaurants all over the globe.   MasterChef is like a cross between Survivor, Chopped and Hell’s Kitchen without all the theatrics.   The purpose of the show is to find the best amateur chef in America.  The chefs cook for Ramsay and two other judges.  Along the way, the chefs are given challenges and find themselves cooking for guests from the culinary world – critics, chefs, restaurateurs and the like.   One by one, the contestants are eliminated until the champion is left standing.

The first season of MasterChef featured teachers, students, bartenders,  software engineers, a doctor and a construction worker.  In the end, Whitney, a 22 year old student from Mississippi won.  She was clearly a Ramsay favorite from the beginning.  She specialized in pastry and good ole down home southern style cooking with a sprinkle of Cajun influence.  That someone so young could cook so well with such skill was a bit of a shock to Ramsay.  He was truly impressed with her culinary gift.  The runner up was David, a software engineer from Boston.  Both seemed highly skilled as if they had worked in the industry for years or had attended a first class culinary institute.  That they were amateurs was truly amazing.

Ramsay is much better behaved and civilized on MasterChef.  There’s no kicking the waste bin, no “shut it down”, “you donkey”, or intimidating in your face “get a grip” moments.  He’s critical, but constructive, firm but encouraging.

Though I liked the show, I have some suggestions for the next season.  One, there are too many contestants.  I’d audition maybe 20 and pick 10 for the show.  Second, I’d be careful to screen out anyone with culinary school experience, or those who had worked as a chef before; maybe they did, I don’t know,  but it is important for the contestants to really be amateur chiefs.

I liked the judging format, but I think Ramsay may have had too much influence.  My gut is that the other two judges preferred David’s food based on their reaction to the final cook-off.  David, however, made the mistake of preparing a Beef Wellington, Ramsay’s signature dish, and not cooking it to “puhfection”.  He also served an appetizer that had too much jalepeño juice for Ramsay though the other judges loved it.  Whitney’s main dish was a simple 7 minute pan fried chicken over a bed of greens.  With 15 minutes or so to go, she dropped her fried chicken on the floor and had to make another one in just 7 minutes time.  With seconds to spare, she plated the chicken, not knowing whether it was cooked through.  Ramsay warned that if the chicken was pink, they could not eat it.  And it was not pink; it was “puhfectly” cooked.

All 3 judges cast a vote for a winner, but my guess is that Gordon’s vote was the one that counted.

Shut Up and Play Ball Y’all

Randy Moss said after the Patriots open day win that he doesn’t feel appreciated.  This whine came on the heels of Tom Brady’s big contract deal which makes him the highest paid quarterback in the game.  But Randy Moss is appreciated.  His teammates love him.  Tom Brady has nothing but high praise for him.  The fans love him.  His coach Bill Belichick loves him and says he’s a good player, which is about the biggest complement one could hope to get from the cerebral and ever stoic Wesleyan grad.

So what’s all the fuss?  It’s not about appreciation or love really.  It’s about business.  Moss said so himself.  As a fan, however, I don’t care about the business side of it.  I want the players to talk about the game during the press conference.  If asked about a contract, the player should offer no comment.  Instead, many chose to air out their business and try to negotiate through the public.

I would like for Randy Moss to stick around and play for the Patriots for a few more years.  And I hope he gets a fair contract, I do, but I don’t want to hear about his contract until the end of the season.  To all you disgruntled players out there, you are under contract, so just shut up and do your job.  Play ball y’all.

BEWARE OF DOG ALTERNATIVES

Every now and then I see a sign that says: BEWARE OF DOG.  But I’m thinking that half the time the homeowner has no dog at all and the warning is simply to keep a burglar guessing.  The more truthful message might be:  BEWARE THERE MIGHT BE A DOG.

But it’s not only a DOG that a burglar, delivery person or visitor might need to BEWARE OF – there are other dangers out there.  Here’s a sampling:

  • BEWARE OF CRAZED CAT
  • BEWARE OF BATS IN OUR WALL
  • BEWARE OF THE GHOST HAUNTING OUR HOUSE
  • BEWARE OF CURSING BIRD
  • BEWARE OF LEAD, ASBESTOS and MOLD SPORES
  • BEWARE OF MERCURY SPILLS
  • BEWARE OF SNAKES
  • SMILE FOR THE CAMERA

9/11 Controversy

According to a poll, 75% of Americans don’t want a mosque built at ground zero. However, I’m not sure that the 75% know or want to know that the proposed mosque is not just a mosque, but an Islamic cultural center to provide a place of worship for Muslims, Jews, Christians and others.  One of the goals of the project is to foster interfaith dialogue and understanding; a sanctuary for tolerance.   This purpose threatens radical Islam.

Islam is not the enemy, yet the protests suggest otherwise.  There seems to be a belief among many Americans that followers of Islam hate America and rejoiced after the 9/11 attacks.  This argument is like saying that all Christians support the twisted beliefs of domestic terrorists groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Hutaree, and anti-abortion groups who use their radical Christian views to justify violence and murder.

I recognize the psychological need to have an enemy, but let’s be clear that our enemy is not only radical Islam, but radical elements within Christianity.  Christians might say that the radicals are not really Christian.  Muslims would say the same of those 9/11 terrorists.

And the site is not at ground zero.  People are talking about the Islamic cultural center as if it were rising from the ashes of the twin towers.  It is blocks away from ground zero.  For the record, the ground zero memorial towers are being built at ground zero, not a mosque.

9/11 was a tragic day in American History.  I will never forget the day, and will continue to remember the fallen for as long as I live.  The war on terrorism is not a war on a nation, a group or a religion.  It is an ideological war.  We are a country founded on the idea of freedom which now extends to freedom for all.  When we follow the ideals of democracy, tolerance and respect for human rights, others will follow.  We cannot impose these principals of love, but simply provide an alternative ideology.  The lunatic fringe will always exist, both domestically and abroad.  We simply must be careful not to let ideologies based on fear, hate and violence drive our agenda.  Nor should we give evil ideas the fuel to expand by calling too much attention to them.  History will show that a way of life based on peace and justice will be the key to the survival of the human race.

For other thoughts connected to the events and controversies of  9/11, see my other blog posts:

9/11 Coincidences

Near, Not at Ground Zero

Immigrants Want to Learn English

Bill Binnie is a multimillionaire New Hampshire businessman running for U.S. Senate. Born in Scotland, he came to this country at the age of 5 and eventually became a naturalized citizen.  In an AP article Senate hopeful in N.H. fuels immigration debate written by Norma Love, Mr. Binnie is characterized as a social moderate, which does not sit well with New Hampshire voters.  Binnie is against the Arizona immigration law, even though New Hampshire residents overwhelming favor it.  He believes that only the federal government has the right to enforce immigration laws. In an attempt to prove he’s tough on immigrants in a state that is 95% white, he’s launched a campaign to make English the official language of the U.S. so that immigrants have to learn it.  “…it’s the language of America.  As a US senator, I’ll insist that all immigrants learn English”, he said in a recent campaign advertisement in a classroom full of white school-aged children.

Here’s my problem with this position.  English is the language predominantly spoken in the country and is by default the national language.  There’s no need to make it official.  And English is not the only language of importance. Children need to study other languages and in fact are encouraged if not required to do so in some high schools.  For those who go on to college – and many kids in New Hampshire will, the study of a foreign language will be a graduation requirement. If you doubt this, have a look at the graduation requirements at the University of New Hampshire, and Dartmouth.  The point is that learning a language other than English is universally considered to be a valuable skill for an educated person to have for obvious reasons too numerous to mention.

Second, immigrants want to learn English.  Thousands of adults are on waiting lists for openings in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.  In Massachusetts, upwards of 20,000 adults will wait up to two years to take a class.  I agree with Binnie that the government should provide more resources to help immigrants learn English.  However, I disagree with his suggestion that to speak a language other than English in this country is somehow being disloyal to the flag. We are a nation of immigrants, one founded on the principal of tolerance and respect.  Are we to be suspicious of college graduates who speak multiple languages.  Should we put polyglots on a no fly list?

Third, what does it matter to New Hampshire residents anyway?  Is there a huge problem with Latinos speaking Spanish in New Hampshire? It couldn’t be too big of a problem because there are only an estimated 33,000 in a state with a population of 1.3 million.  For those who have a problem with Spanish, why not learn it?

Last, isn’t New Hampshire the “live free or die state?”  This is the state with no income taxes.  I would think the good people of New Hampshire would rather live without the government requiring something that is not even necessary.  English is the dominant language in the country, so there’s no need to make it official with some sort of silly proclamation.  Furthermore, there’s no need to insist that immigrants learn English, because they want to learn it.  If I were Binnie, I would insist that the government provide the states adequate funding for adult education programs.  In Massachusetts that’d be about 200 million dollars a year.