Archive for September, 2008

Occupying Time

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures*.”

That’s a little tidbit from this United States’ Declaration of Independence. You see, the British citizens of the American colonies didn’t like the idea that their government kept an Army “among us, in times of peace.” They found it offensive and a bit threatening.

It’s one of the straws that broke the camel’s back that led to the revolution that formed these United States.

In grade school, f*cking grade school, I learned that the United States doesn’t use its Army against its citizens. If something goes amok we have the States’ Militias (aka the National Guard) to jump in. It’s our system — the States protect themselves in times of crisis. The State, in the form of the National Guard, are citizen soldiers (doctors, sanitation workers, car salesmen, and the lot) called to duty in a time of need.

Got it? Are we all in agreement? The Army protects the country against hostile threats; the National Guard is called up in times of internal crisis. Agreed? Okay, let’s move on.

Earlier this month the Army Times proudly announced a new mission:

“This new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom (North American Command aka North America aka the United States) … (the force) will learn new skills, use some of the ones they acquired in the war zone … They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.”

Welcome to the new American Occupation.

Where are John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington when you need them? Oh. I know where. Rolling over in their graves.

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*Considering that there was no federal legislature, the intent of this final clause can only mean local legislatures. I interpret this as State Legislatures. If the your state wants to be occupied by the Federal Army, the state should give consent.

Well. Fuck

Soccer Is For 4-Year-Olds

Soccer may be the most popular sport on the planet, but not between my ears. I never played it as a kid, maybe that’s why I never quite got my hooks into it.

And you can’t use your hands. I never liked that. When we played soccer in gym I got called for a lot of hand balls. I was unapologetic. I’m not going to stick my head in the way when my hand is right there.

If the rules allowed you to play soccer with your hands, it would be much more popular. At least between my ears.

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As a kid my best friend, Lance, played soccer. He wasn’t very good. I remember practicing with him. I insisted on playing goalie, which didn’t help him much as he was a defenseman. If you know anything about soccer, you know that defensemen don’t score. Hell, they seldom even shoot.

At least that was my experience with Lance.

I went to one of Lance’s soccer games once. Two things stood out: One, they didn’t replace injured players and, two, they gave away a lot of oranges on the sidelines.

After every inning or round or whatever you call it in soccer, the kids would run to the sidelines and eat oranges. And it was cool because someone had already gone through the trouble of cutting the oranges into little wedges — and it’s the prep that keeps oranges from being a top-notch kid’s snack.

Lance scored a goal that day. Somehow he found himself way too far forward. The opposing goalie had the ball and Lance ran at him just as he was giving it a mighty kick. The ball hit Lance in the face. Hard. And rebounded neatly into the net.

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL!

By the time Lance got up, his face was smeared with blood and dirt. They brought him to the sidelines and gave him more oranges. But he scored his goal. He was happy.

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My 4-year-old started playing soccer this weekend. His first year coach was completely lost and later admitted to never playing soccer, let alone coaching the damned sport.

He tried his best to create order. It didn’t work. The kids played Lord of the Flies while Coach Brian just scratched his head. At least they were playing chaos-ball without using their hands — sometimes there were multiple balls — but no hands. Not even the goalies.

They ended their first practice by playing a scrimmage against the most disciplined group of four-year-olds that ever laced on cleats. They passed occasionally passed the ball and always knew which goal they were supposed to shoot on.

Half our kids ran around like their underwear was on fire and the other half ran around like they had bees in their ears. Coach Brian’s kid mostly cried and begged to go home.

Our kids only scored one goal, and that was only because a kid on the other team got confused and shot on his own net. Their kids scored a lot.

After the game the parents of the other team lined up and made a tunnel with their hands as their kids ran through. There was a lot of whooping and hollaring. Our kids followed and joined in the revelry.

Maybe that’s how all games in all sports should end.

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My four-year-old had a blast. He asked him mom later, “How do I stop thinking about soccer.”

Hm.

Maybe this is the year I become a soccer fan.

Either You Have Light

This evening I found myself rummaging through photographer Jill Greenberg’s stunning portfolio. Greenberg certainly doesn’t need me pimping her — whether we know it or not, we’ve all seen her work.

I was first taken with absolute control over light and recalled an old photography lesson:

I forget his name. He was so old that he appeared shrunken inside his crumpled suit. He was a photographer and took photos as a soldier during World War II, the Pacific.

I wandered through his small exhibition at the clubhouse of one of my companies senior apartment buildings. He lived there.

I struck up a conversation with him and eventually ended up in his apartment looking at photographs that didn’t make the wall. We talked about a lot of things, but mostly photography.

I began to ask about settings he would use in different situations. Aperture. Shutter speed. Exposure values. f-stop. Metering. I pulled out every photography word I could think of. I was trying to impress.

“Hold on, son,” the old man said. “You can’t worry about such things. Either you have light, or you don’t.”

Lesson over.

Whoopi!

Yesterday I wrote that I generally vote for Presidents based on the Supreme Court justices that s/he might nominate. I (and Mr. McCain) are what Whoopi Goldberg calls “strict constitutionalists.”

She talked about it today on The View. Here’s a clip of it.

She said to Mr. McCain, “(You’re talking about) strict constitutionalists? … Should I worry about being a slave? Return to being a slave?”

McCain said that he appreciated what she had to say. That was nice of him. I would have said,

“Ms. The-Color-Purple, the Constitution of the United States prohibits slavery and has done so since 1865. I would expect that any Supreme Court justice that I nominate would know about the 13 Amendment to that document and would interpret it just as written and as intentded: ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States.’ The Constitution expressly and unambiguously prohibits slavery.

“Whoopi, you have no worries.”

Dipshit.

 

Choosing a President

I am one of the Americans that McCain and Obama are wooing. If a pollster were to call me, I would have to admit to being undecided.

Voting for President used to be easy for me. I was a one-issue voter.

An American President’s most lasting impact is often in the Supreme Court justices that he nominates and gets confirmed. A President’s tenure will only last eight years, at most; a Supreme Court justice can last five times that.

I am a Radical Constitutionalist. The United States Constitution is written in plain english and, as far as I’m concerned, needs very little interpretation. And when it does require interpretation, it should be interpreted by the framer’s original intent. What did the Founding Fathers mean when they wrote and ratified the Constitution and its amendments.

When Supreme Court justices apply the Constitution to the cases that appear before them, that is my litmus test.

The often maligned Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito probably follow my philosophical bent better than others. The more “liberal” justices — those that believe in a Living Constitution that is more maleable to the times in which we live — tend to apply the law based on their personal feelings of justice than by blind application of the Law as written. I’m not hip to that.

So I’ve always voted for the presidential candidate that would nominate “conservative” judges.

That was until President Bush (and cronies) marched on Iraq. It was, in his own words, a pre-emptive invasion. We struck Hussein’s Iraq before it struck us. We captured, and ultimately, had Hussein killed. Over 4,000 of our troops were sacrificed in the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. We killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi citizen.

The reasons our president gave us for going to war have varied from Iraq training and harbouring terrorists (implying the September 11th terrorists) to striking Iraq before they use their “weapons of mass distruction” against us to freeing the Iraqi citizens of a despot. All bullshit, in my opinion.

The America that I learned about in grade school and studied as an adult doesn’t invade countries, capture their leaders, and hand them off to ruffians to be executed.

So now I have to think, “Will the candidate I vote for do that?”

Mr. McCain will nominate the kind of Supreme Court justices I like, but supports the war in Iraq from its inception and has inferred that he still supports the initial invasion. Leaving me to conclude that, given the same circumstance, he might do it again.

Mr. Obama will nominate Supreme Court justices that I don’t like, but has been steadfast from the beginning that this war is wrong. Leaving me to conclude that he would not bring us into the type of war that we are stuck in now.

So that’s where I’m at …