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Friday, July 08, 2005

Reflections of a 35 year old

Another year gone by. I'm 35 today, entering my last year as a member of that prized 18-35 y/o male demographic.

Smoking a cigarette, drinking coffee, petting my dog while checking a few things prior to heading out to Geauga Lake for some roller coaster action.

One of my favorite songs from the 80s just came on my MP3 player (I keep it on the stereo most of the time).

Alphaville -- Forever Young

Let’s dance in style, lets dance for a while
Heaven can wait we’re only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not?

Let us die young or let us live forever
We don’t have the power but we never say never
Sitting in a sandpit, life is a short trip
The music’s for the sad men

Can you imagine when this race is won
Turn our golden faces into the sun
Praising our leaders we’re getting in tune
The music’s played by the madmen

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever? Forever young

Some are like water, some are like the heat
Some are a melody and some are the beat
Sooner or later they all will be gone
Why don’t they stay young

It’s so hard to get old without a cause
I don’t want to perish like a fading horse
Youth is like diamonds in the sun
And diamonds are forever

So many adventures couldn’t happen today
So many songs we forgot to play
So many dreams are swinging out of the blue
We let them come true

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever
Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever, forever and ever

Forever young, I want to be forever young
Do you really want to live forever?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I think I'll gather up some fellow employees and put this matter to a vote.

While you were sleeping this morning, the [Pennsylvania] General Assembly voted to approve ... hefty pay raises of $11,000, or 16 percent, for rank-and-file members and thousands more for legislative leaders and committee heads.

The state Senate voted 27 to 23 at 2:15 a.m. to approve the controversial raises, which lawmakers say are justified because of the long hours they put in, and because they haven't had a "real" raise in a decade. After taking the vote, senators rose from their desks, exchanging hugs, kisses, handshakes and high-fives.

The state House had voted 119 to 79 in favor of the raises shortly before the Senate did. Neither chamber debated the pay-raise issue publicly ... House and Senate members, who approved the budget a full week after its July 1 deadline, left their chambers shortly after the pay-raise vote, and many either declined to answer questions from reporters or simply slipped away before they could be queried.

The pay-raise bill ties General Assembly salaries as a percentage of congressional salaries.
Rank-and-file state legislators will get 50 percent of the $162,000 a year that congressmen get, or $81,000. However, that would be the lowest salary under the new structure. Only one freshman senator is expected to make the base $81,000.

Now, I'd certainly like an $11,000, or even just a 16% pay raise. Of course, I'd have to really prove to my employer that I was worth it, that my value added to the company justified that increase. If my boss didn't think I was worth it, he'd say no. Or offer a smaller increase. I could take it, or shop my résumé around.

A COLA tied to inflation is one thing. I think most people could understand that.

But these legislators? They like to freely spend their bosses money. And it's we, the taxpayers of Pennsylvania, who are their bosses. I think its time that we "fired" 27 Senators and 119 House members, when their next election comes around.


Friday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a followup to yesterday's Legislative pay raise article.

Not all legislators will keep pay raise

Some highlights:

State Rep. Tom Petrone says he didn't vote for a 16 percent pay raise to benefit himself, but to help others, such as Supreme Court and lower court judges and Gov. Ed Rendell and his Cabinet members.
Petrone, a West End Democrat, said he wasn't going to keep the extra $11,000 a year.
"I'm going to give it to as many needy groups as possible," he said yesterday, a few hours after the House and Senate had approved the hefty raise and gone home for the summer. "I'm going to spread it around to Scouts and every group that needs it in my district."
Rep. Jess Stairs, R-Westmoreland, voted against the raise, which will take legislators' base salaries to $81,000 a year starting after the November 2006 elections. He's also giving the extra money away.
"Over the years I've met hundreds of good organizations in Westmoreland and Fayette counties, and this will give me a chance to help them a little bit," he said.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, who also voted against the 16 percent raise, said yesterday he won't accept the money.
"By voting no and not taking it, it's putting your money where your mouth is," he said. "There are families out here living paycheck to paycheck and I don't think we should vote for our own increases."

There are various legislators quoted with their justifications, and also a list of how Pittsburgh area legislators voted. The PA Senate has a 30-20 Republican majority, and the PA House has 109 to 92 seat Republican majority.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

When was America highjacked anyway?

Ok, so the 16th Amendment was what really opened the door for the modern Nanny state (ever since the introduction of the capitation tax rather than excise taxes it all been a matter of how much of your income the government allows you to keep), and the Constitution has become pretty much worthless anyway (hey, even your home is now subject to the largesse of the government, if someone with more money/influence can convince some local politicos that they might be able to bring in more revenue).

The Constitution was written to give us "A Republic, if you can keep it" (Benjamin Franklin). Unbridled democracy leads to a tyranny of the majority. wrote a civilization is doomed when "the masses" realize that they can vote themselves "Bread and Circuses." And that's what an unbridled democracy will give you. It's two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for dinner.

All powers not specifically enumerated to the Federal government were reserved for the states, or the people (Amendment X), and just because a right wasn't listed in the Bill of Rights didn't mean it doesn't exist (Amendment IX). Of course, it's become harder and harder to enforce these unspecified rights, when even those specifically enumerated are under seige (or in some cases court rulings and legislation have all but wiped them away).

Even so, in all the history of the United States, since the Constitution was ratified, there has been only one Amendment (XVIII) which was a restriction on the people [Prohibition], and that one was repealed by the XXIst.

So why do we have one actually in Congress, passed by the House (which has been making the rounds for years and years), to ban flag desecration [burning a flag is pretty stupid, but its far from the most pressing problem facing this country, or even anywhere in oh, the top 1000 or so], and another being called for, to prevent the states from having their own laws about marriage [banning gay marriage]. Again, a distraction from the actual problems facing the country, and the assault on the people.

Who stole my country, the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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Exposing the right-wing radio host(s) lies

The talking heads of the conservative radio circuit usually seem to sing the same refrain. It's all the fault of "the liberal media," it's all slander and lies about the President, it's unpatriotic and seditious behavior.

It's pretty easy to find sources refuting Rush Limbaugh, [here's one, for example], but by far the best site that I've seen of this nature is dedicated to Fred Honsberger.

It's updated pretty frequently, and very well sourced, and since many of these radio hosts are ditto-heads themselves, parroting the same lines rather than having anything original to say, it's pretty useful to refute almost all of them.

Anyway, check it out.

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And so the spin begins...

I did a Google News search on , to see what was happening in the media regarding MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell's revelation Friday night that Rove was the source of the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity, an action that former CIA head and President, George H.W. Bush once said, makes him "the most insidious of traitors."

[For those of you who need background on this issue, see this excellent article on the Knappster.]

Some observations:

  • The foreign media is covering this more than US media.
    This may be due to the coverage of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation from the Supreme Court and speculation on her replacement; It may be due to it coming out on Friday night and not making an easy entry into the regular news cycle; Or it may be due to the noted reluctance of the so-called "liberal media" to publish anything critical of the Bush Administration.
    The major exception to this is an article published in Newsweek.
  • The usual Bush team strategy of denial and attack mode has already shifted into gear.
    (A wire article by Richard Schmidt of the LA Times notes that
    ...the White House has dismissed questions about Rove's actions as "totally ridiculous.")
  • Here's the main spin, and according to Lawrence O'Donnell it involves a very KEY word in the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. (The key word is "knowlingly").
    In the Newsweek article, Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin is quoted as saying that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information." And this 'knowlingly' is already being dropped. A wire story orginally written for the NY Daily News just says: Rove's lawyer Robert Luskin told Newsweek that Rove never revealed classified information.

So two things can be done:

  1. Push for this story to be printed (like was done with the ), and
  2. Wait for the indictments.

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For the love of Dogs

As part of the re-purposing of Freedom's Gate, this brief article inagurates our lifestyle section. Once or twice a week we'll bring our readers features like book, movie, and music reviews. Today's is on pups.

Woof!  My name is Bear! A week or so ago a co-worker sent me a link to Dogster. You know those sites like Friendster and Friend Circle and such, the virtual networking sites, right? Well, this one's for dogs. (There's a related one called Catster.) That guy over there is Bear, my Norwegian Elkhound. Check it out sometime when you just need to see some of the critters that share our world and our lives, our four-legged friends.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

A frightening, if unlikely, scenario

(This message from yesterday at some point disappeared into cyberspace.)

Karl Rove is indicted by Fitzgerald's Grand Jury for disclosing a CIA operative's identity and perjury.

During his trial, impeacheable offenses are spoken under oath.

Rather than face impeachment, Bush and Cheney resign. One of Bush's last acts as President is to pardon Rove.

Tom Delay, as Speaker of the House, is sworn in as President, and names Rick Santorum his V.P., thus continuing the legacy of the Bush Administration of pandering to its religious base.

Do I think it will happen? No. Could it happen? Absolutely.


It was just pointed out to me in the comments that Hastert, not DeLay, is Speaker (Hastert keeps such a low profile, and DeLay's in the news so much that I forgot).

So to keep this going, Cheney is sworn in as President after Bush resigns, picks DeLay as his VP, and then resigns right after DeLay is sworn in as VP, leaving him President. (That's how we got Geral Ford, after all -- he was never elected, but named VP after Agnew resigned, then became President when Nixon resigned.)

There was a comment from Rob of

Now how the heck am I supposed to sleep before the Brentwood Firecracker 5K race tomorrow after reading that?
I was thinking that Rove getting nailed for this was a good thing. Crap.It could be worse. Santorum gets the Presidency.... Oh great. I might as well stay up and watch Deep Impact hit on a Slashdotted telescope website.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Happy 4th, everyone.

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The house of cards is going to come tumbling down...

Will we see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs?

MSNBC's analyst Lawrence O'Donnell disclosed on the McLaughlin Group friday night that Rove was the source of the leak of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak, in retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, revealing that he had investigated the Nigerian yellowcake claims that Bush used as part of the justification for war and told the administration that they were totally unfounded - Bush didn't care, it was just one more of the lies that he used to lead the nation into an illegal and unnesessary war.

George H.W. Bush, the President's father, once said that:

I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.

In September 2003, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said:

McClellan said that if anyone at the White House leaked Plame's identity, he should be fired, and pursued to the "fullest extent."

"No one was authorized to do this. That is simply not the way this White House operates and if someone leaked classified information it is a very serious matter," he said.

It will be interesting to see the Orwellian speaking as they try to worm their way out of this one -- after all, they can't leave chief attack dog and depupty chief of staff Rove hanging in the wind, can they?

One by one the "foundations" of the house of cards that is the Bush presidency are being removed. How much longer will it be before the growing calls for impeachment are heard, as vulnerable House Republicans feel the way the wind is blowing and jump ship?

Hat tips to Comments from Left Field, AmericaBlog, and The Political Forecast.

Proud to be an American

Freedom's Gate would like to take a moment this 4th of July weekend to reflect on the values that make America great.

I am and have always been a proud, free, and independent American, although one who is ashamed and embarrased by and opposed to the policies and actions of our current administration and its compliant Congress.

Freedom's Gate would like to honour the service of all of our soldiers, and hope that they return home safe and whole soon.

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!