5 years of rants, here's one more

My Thoughts On: September 11th, 2007

Well, I know it's been a while since you all heard from me, still trying to think of something good for my video blog's 10th episode. Perhaps a production change, or maybe just a format change, or some kind of special feature or something. Or maybe it'll be the same format and the same everything, who knows? In the meantime though, it's high time I sit down and do a little writing. As for a personal update, I'm keeping busy. I replaced the car I wrecked a while back, the new car has had a couple of problems though, right now it's parked due to a high pressure power steering hose that sprung a leak. The leak happened less than 24 hours after a visit to Jiffy Lube, and due to Jiffy Lube's awful reputation, I don't trust them enough to want to go back. After all, with video tutorials like these it's pretty easy to check most of your fluids yourself.

As we full well know, today is the 6th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks, and today is also the 5th anniversary of PAOracle.com, which was registered on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. That also means that I've been living in Portland for a little over 6 years. I'm happy with the home I've made here, although per the usual, my productivity leaves something to be desired. There are still many web projects I have on the table, hopefully you'll see some of them coming about soon.

But that's enough rabble rousing, let's just get into some noteworthy items.

Bruce Campbell as Jack Stiles as the Daring Dragoon about to deliver another one-liner

I just finished watching the short series "Jack of All Trades", staring Bruce Campbell in another one of his collaborations with Sam Raimi. The series lasted just two seasons and was cancelled in the middle of the second one, regardless it was an amusing show, really not much more than that but whatever. What I liked the most were the absurd and deliberate historical inaccuracies, such as appearances by the Statue of Liberty (built in 1886) and Catherine the Great (who died in 1796), in the show which is set in 1801. To give you a recap, the show stars Jack Stiles (Bruce Campbell) who is a spy for Thomas Jefferson (best President ever BTW) who is attempting to undermine the imperial French regime of Napoleon Bonaparte (played by Verne Troyer, best known as "Mini-Me" from the Austin Powers movies). This all takes place at a fictional remote French-controlled island called Palau-Palau where only the most important of international negotiation and trades somehow take place, although I'm a bit baffled by the supposed location of this island, as somehow Lewis & Clark wind up there instead of Oregon, yet it must be somewhere in the Caribbean... whatever. Jack is accompanied by English spy Emilia Rothschild (Angela Dotchin) who plays the "straight man" (or rather, woman) and acts as a foil for Jack's comedic tomfoolery, as she uses her womanly wit to create absurd scientific contraptions such as a submarine, a near-death potion, and love potion that serve as generic plot elements. During the course of the show Jack (sometimes donning the disguise of the Daring Dragoon) and Emilia engage in such things as BDSM roleplaying with Marquis de Sade, winning the Lousiana purchase in a game of cards, running around naked as brainwashed zombies, stopping a Lincoln-style assassination of King George, and saving James Madison from Blackbeard.

The show for all it's charms is painfully shallow and full of mostly "here's Bruce Campbell in a tv series spitting out one-liners", but still I found it worth watching. It's only 22 episodes, after all. While on the subject of TV shows, there was an excellent Twilight Zone marathon today, anyone manage to catch it? I would also like to note that the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm has begun airing, which is also a definite must-see.

I realize I left the caption for this blank, then I realized that I didn't have anything I really wanted to say here. Oh well.

Now time for a short political commentary. I was going to initially talk about the Ron Paul campaign again, but y'know, it gets kinda tiring harping on the same cord like some damn filthy cherub, even though the Ron Paul campaign is going very well and he's proving a great success at exposing libertarian ideas to a new audience this year. I was also going to talk about the Larry Craig incident but that's now old hat and really, the only thing I have to say about that situation is that I am perturbed that there is some kind of "secret code" gay people use in the public restroom to solicit for strange-person sex. Ick.

So those two issues aside, I've been meaning to take a deeper look at new candidate Senator Fred Thompson, who was essentially begged by the media to run. So last week on the Tonight Show he announced his candidacy, which to me means he's fair game. To the outsider, he has some very Reagan-esque features. He for instance is an actor (his most recent role was on Law & Order), and he happens to rest on Reagan-esque rhetoric such as emphasis on checks and balances and state's rights. He does have an extensive legal background, although little of that actually works to his advantage. Like all the other candidates (besides Paul, who seems to stand alone on this issue), Thompson is a war hawk, and supported the Iraq invasion on the grounds of preventative measures, he is also very likely to engage a war with Iran for the same reasons.

As for positive points on his positions, there are a few, Thompson does seem to put a huge focus on his policy-making ideas towards the concept of state/federal separation of powers (this important distinction he often calls his "lodestar"). As such, we can hope for some consistency in helping identify issues that the federal government shouldn't rule on (which are 99% of the issues the federal government deals with), although like Reagan, I expect to hear a lot of rhetoric on this position and see very little action. Another thing is that Thompson seems to be very open to the idea of replacing the income tax with a more efficient system, however I don't really trust tax policy to anyone other than a down-the-line libertarian. He is also for free trade and free marketplaces but on none of these issues has he shown much initiative, and we have no real reason to think he'll show any if made President. He is also one of the first candidates to suggest the idea of cutting Social Security benefits as a means to help alleviate some of the problems associated with it, which in my opinion is just fiscal honesty, as our various entitlements both through Social Security and other federal welfare programs are becoming completely unmanageable. He also thinks that abortion should be decided by the states, a Constitutionally correct assertion, but he's self-stated pro-life so we can expect him to err on the side of having those states subsequently ban it (an initiative that could be very successful, if recent state gay marriage legislation is any example). His views on this are much like Giuliani's where once analyzed you'd probably call him more of a pro-choice candidate as the National Review did. Still, the attitude that this is a state issue (which it is) will help get the issue off the national stage and help debase the special interest groups which use it as a means to get on the national stage. By making abortion a state-based initiative, we'd see less of liberals trying to get contraception financing, just as we'd see less of neoconservatives trying to pushing abstinence-only education programs. At least, on the national stage.

As for negative comments, well, namely I reserve any and all skepticism on any of his positions simply because he fails to document any of these stances, they are all inferred from his voting records and statements, which never hold much weight once someone becomes Commander-In-Chief. It shows that he knows how to make principled statements, but that is not proof of having actual principles. Regardless, the one clear negative of Thompson is that he is as much pro-war as any of the Republican candidates, and like the other candidates, he does not seem to have any good strategies for resolution of the conflict. His attitude is fairly sophomoric on the issue, "the terrorists are out to get us, but we must get them first" sums it up pretty well. It's true the terrorists are out to get us, but let's be realistic here. Our foreign engagements don't show a history of helping civilize Islamic fascists, and it's very possible that so long as they are Islamic and fascist, they won't be civilized. So we have to set clear goals for what we intend to do with our foreign engagements and they have to be clearer than merely "get them before they get us". Otherwise we'll be married to Iraq and every other arab country we invade, in the goal of killing every last terrorist that ever terrorized, putting them in the spotlight and giving people like Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an audience so they can pretend they rule something better than a dumpy 3rd world nation with some oil.

It's important to state that of the candidates, Fred Thompson is one of the better. After all, someone who is smart enough to snub Michael Moore instead of take him seriously can't be all bad. However, Thompson appears more dogmatic than principled, which will be important on how he would play out as a President. An example of this is his involvement as part of the advisory board for Lewis "Scooter" Libby legal defense fund in the Valerie Plame affair. The Libby case was mainly political, someone with sense would know that the disclosure of Plame's identity was a political maneuver meant to put former Ambassador Joseph Wilson (who was critical of the Bush administration's efforts to exaggerate an Iraqi threat of WMD's) in a compromised position (he was married to Plame, for him to state as a government official that Iraqi WMD claims were without merit and to be married to a CIA operative investigating the threat is a delicious irony certain conservative commentators can't prevent themselves from commenting on). Being an entirely political affair, Thompson should have known better than to get involved or be one-sided. However, he went with the administrative motivations and sided pretty much completely on the side of Libby and the Bush administration, despite having openly admitted to not knowing Libby, he threw his hat in as a primary advisor to his legal defense. This incapacity to actually think for oneself shows a serious character flaw in Thompson, one I think we will see creep up as the election continues.

Well, I wanted to run another topic, but pretty soon my Sept. 11th update will turn into a Sept. 12th update, so I better just post this now and get a move on. Just wanted to say thanks for those of you who still are around, and be sure not to be strangers. Hopefully you'll hear from me again soon.

- Good ol' PA