Gut-Reactions to the Israeli Raid

Israel may be in deep trouble. There was a report this morning of an Israeli raid on a relief vessel headed for Gaza. To make matters worse, the vessel had a Turkish flag, which is an ally of Israel. The Israeli Navy has detained a number of pro-Palestinian activists. The Navy reportedly boarded and killed 9 activists. Israel's plans for the activists are to either jail or deport them. The reason Israel actually had boats out there is due to a blockade that has been present since 2007.

In wake of this event, the UN has convened in an emergency session, and condemned Israel for their actions in international waters. A number of the activists on the flotilla were European nationals, and that is not sitting well with many EU nations. France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden have all made statements on the event in opposition to Israel's actions. Even President Obama has condemned the attack, and has called for fact clarification. In Israel's defense, PM Benjamin Netanyahu regrets the raid, but cites self-defense.

This incident also raises an interesting question of whether Gaza is sovereign. Israel has always seemed to have a mixed message on this issue. Israel may need to actually have a unified stance on this very soon. This is going to be a major key to solving this problem. Israel's view, from what I can tell, is that Gaza is sovereign with provisions.

Although this seems to be a big Israel problem, the incident is effecting the relations between the US and Israel. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to meet with President Obama on June 1, on his North American trip. This was arranged by the Obama Administration's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in a diplomatic meeting, while he was on a Bar Mitzvah trip in Israel last week. I have explained before that Israel does not like Obama's approach to the conflict. This could make things worse, because the US didn't overwhelming support them on this.

Here's what I can conclude with what we know right now. The Israelis are claiming they were threatened, and only reacted in self-defense. If the ship was under a Turkish flag, it makes things fuzzy to me. Yes, some of the pro-Palestinian groups within Israel are sometimes identified to be terrorist groups by the Israeli government, but were these activists a legitimate threat? My other concern is that the activists may have been provoking them. It wouldn't surprise me if that was also the case. This is what is leading me to be confused and unsure of how to approach this. The questions I have right now are: Did Turkey know about this vessel? Is this blockade's protocol to board ships entering their sea-space? Why were the Israelis boarding the ship in the first place? What exactly happened when the Israelis boarded the Turkish Ship?

This is going to be a big mess. I hope we get some clarification soon, but my gut-reaction is that it's possible the Israelis may have been slightly trigger happy. On the other hand, did the activists try to provoke Israel into acting? Israel and these activists have a lot of explaining to do, before we can really tell who's wrong.

The 2010 Stanley Cup Finals Game 2

Game 1 was a very exciting game. The Blackhawks defeated the Flyers 6-5, and lead the series 1-0. Although winning game 1 is a very good position to be in, it's not over yet. We all know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a marathon, not a sprint. From what I could see in game 1, is that both teams have both the offensive weapons and the physical prowess to play playoff hockey. This series is definitely going to come down to which team has better goaltending. That's where I argue that both teams' weak points are.

Not to discredit either teams' performance, but the starting goalies coming into this Stanley Cup are inexperienced. They are both having great playoff careers, but they certainly are not the caliber of goaltenders as let's say Ryan Miller, or Roberto Luongo. Although they're not the league's best goaltenders, they are getting the job done. Antti Niemi and Michael Leighton are scheduled to start game 2.

With both teams having high-powered offenses, I expect another high-scoring affair. I don't think it will be nearly as wild as game 1. The Flyers really need to make a statement in game 2, and I expect them to come out strong out of the gate. I expect that the Flyers will come out physical on defense, and try to knock Chicago off their game. However, I think Chicago is poised enough that they can withstand the physical attack.

This game will set the tone for the rest of the series. Game 1, was mostly wild due to the time off. I think game 2 will see a dominance by the Flyers, as an act of desperation. Although the Flyers did win 4 straight games in a series against the Bruins while down 3-0, it's best not to revisit that if possible. My prediction is a 5-3 Flyers victory tonight, which will even the series at 1 going back to Philadelphia. I think Chicago will play well, but I think the Flyers will play slightly better.

What do you think?

Lafayette Tea Party to Host Immigration Forum

The Arizona Immigration law SB 1070 has been making noise all over the country. Many conservative pundits are saying that the law is completely fair, because it increases border security. Where there's conservative punditry, Tea Partiers are usually following close-by. Local Republican Candidate Donn Brown, is holding a forum on immigration, with special guest Indiana State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel, IN) on Wednesday in Lafayette, IN. It will be held at the Tippecanoe County Library. Let me know if you plan on going.

This sounds like a blast. We will get to hear a guy who wants to bring back public hangings talk about how he is racist (yet, he'll likely preface the whole thing by saying "I'm not a racist, but..."). Donn Brown may have removed that from his website at this point, but he definitely had it on his site back in March 2010. Most of you know that I've already met Mr. Brown at an earlier rally in February, where he said some pretty outlandish things. What really bothers me already is Delph's statement about immigration. He stated:

For three years I have introduced illegal immigration reform in Indiana ... All visitors to our country are required to carry on their person documentation that establishes their lawful presence. If an individual can’t speak English and does not have legal documentation on their person, then there ought to be a strong presumption that the individual is illegally in the country.
First off, speaking English is not indicative of someone being illegally in the country. How would the officer know that the person isn't just visiting? Europeans come here, some from countries where they don't speak English. So would you suspect someone who speaks French as their first language in the United States of being an illegal alien then? No, because I think Delph is mostly thinking about the southern US border with Mexico, which is very far away from Indiana. There are many legal immigrants to this country who are scared of this law, and I don't blame them. Bigots like Tea Partiers, don't realize the social harm that could be done with the passage of this law.

My Stanley Cup Prediction

It's here. Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals is this evening in Chicago, IL. The Chicago Blackhawks will face the Philadelphia Flyers at 8pm this evening. I think Chicago will win the cup this year. Philadelphia will play a tough series, but I think that Chicago is a team that the Flyers have not seen this playoffs. This is a complete team. While it's weak-point is the goaltender, it's the most complete team, that the Flyers will have seen. I think the series will go 6 games, but the Blackhawks will be hoisting the cup in the end. Now as for Game 1, I think Chicago takes this game, by a score of 4-3. The United Center will be packed to capacity to see the Blackhawks play for "One Goal".

On a side note, I think that this is a series that will breathe life back into hockey in this area. It's exciting to see how many people in Lafayette, IN are paying attention to hockey. I really think the NHL will have a lot of renewed interest and fans in the northern Indiana area. I have a number of friends who are genuinely interested in this series who are not generally hockey fans. Granted many of these people are not native of Lafayette, it's a testament to how hockey can bring people together.

So, who's going to win tonight? Enjoy the game tonight!

A Great Political Music Recommendation

The other day I found a really good album I'd like to share with you. It's called A Prairie Home Invasion and it was done by former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra, and pyschobilly artist Mojo Nixon. The album was released in 1994, and parodies the famous show "Prairie House Companion". It is the sarcastic political satire that I've come to know and love from the Dead Kennedys. Some of the songs on the album are actually covers, and Jello Biafra singing them makes me laugh.

When I showed Lauren a few songs off the album, she mentioned that Jello Biafra sounds like a goat. I agree, but it works for satirical reasons. When you have songs like "Plastic Jesus" that parody revivalism, it adds to the satire. Another great song on this album is "Love Me, I'm Liberal", which is a cover of a protest song by Phil Ochs.

Although Jello Biafra is a bit crazy at times in his actual politics (he's a member of the Green Party), but I really appreciate his satire. It's an art that is very difficult to do well, and this album embodies this art. Jello has an uncanny ability to use satire effectively, even in his spoken word work. The album is very catchy with a folk/psychobilly sound. It's strange to hear Jello singing to non-Punk music, but it works very well.

Tea Party Advocates Theocracy for UK Conservatives

As I was at work today, I stumbled across this interview from C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" about the Future of the Republican Party. It was a very interesting interview with Richard Viguerie, the chairman of, from May 9, 2010. In this interview, Viguerie explained how pleased he was with the conservative Tea Party movement in this country. He advocated that the Tea Party is not a populist movement, and that it's more of a revival of conservatism. Viguerie even goes so far to say that the Tea Party is a new concept. Throughout the interview he uses the same old Tea Party rhetoric that I'm used to by now.

The best part of this is when Viguerie answered questions from viewers. I'd like to direct your attention to this caller from England, who identified himself with the British conservative Party:

I think the caller from England was attempting to ask about whether the use of religion in politics is necessary. Viguerie answered yes, and even took a nice swipe at the British conservatives too. He basically told them that they weren't conservative enough because they don't like "biblical principles". That's not only the type of arrogance I expect from Tea Partiers, but also the mindset. I'm happy he didn't mention that the US is a Christian Nation. Yet, if Viguerie would just open a world history book, he would find out how much trouble Europe has actually had when they combine Church and State. England especially, has seen religious tension and a civil war revolving around the tension. I know that it isn't uncommon for Tea Partiers to neglect certain historical events that don't fit their narrative. However, I'm not surprised they would neglect this event, because it's not American History.

This wasn't the only thing I noticed. Viguerie also called the British conservatives: "conservative in name only". What? So the Tea Party brand of conservatism is the only viable one in the world? So people, who've only been interested in politics since John McCain failed to get elected, are the right people to lead? This whole real conservative thing isn't working here in the United States, because it's dividing a party that is now being run by fringe groups and ideas. So it really hasn't done much good.

My main point here though, is that the Tea Party is so exceptionalist and theocratic that it's potentially disturbing our allies. I don't think our allies want to hear how amazing we are at all hours of the day. Especially, when we are telling democracies how to run themselves. The Tea Party members may say that this is all about government spending and taking down the Obama Administration, but ultimately it's a populist movement. I will keep saying this, because the evidence is very clear pointing to it as populism. I'm just annoyed that conservatives in this country would accuse other conservatives in other democracies of not being conservative enough. I think conservatives in other countries understand the importance of the separation of church and state. We live in a world where there's more than the USA and people that believe in Jesus, I wish more Americans would understand this.

S.E. Cupp and Atheist Labels

In the United States, atheists are generally liberal. Right now, it is very difficult to be a conservative without having some allegiance to a God figure or discrediting Charles Darwin or Global Warming to some degree. By the law of averages American Conservative atheists exist, I just have never met one in person. To my knowledge the atheists I have encountered are either liberal or libertarian. I've always been curious to what a conservative atheist would look like. Are conservative atheists outcasts? Are they hiding under libertarian labels?

Well, I've discovered there's a conservative atheist author. Meet Sarah Elizabeth (S.E.) Cupp. She wrote the book Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity, which was recently released. She is a conservative atheist who calls Sean Hannity her mentor. Wait, what? First, how can you call yourself an atheist around Sean Hannity without being told how anti-American you are, and live to tell the tale? Also, she's defending religion. These are two things an atheist does not generally do, because any disagreement becomes a religious issue on conservative talk shows. Should I also mention that her book has a foreword by Mike Huckabee? Something is smelling fishy here. Is S.E. Cupp actually an atheist?

I think S.E. Cupp is fundamentally agnostic. Because of a number of claims she has made, I would conclude she is not an atheist. For starters, Cupp tends to qualify many statements about her religious beliefs by stating: "I'm not a militant atheist". On C-SPAN's Q & A in October 2009, Cupp claimed she would like to be a believer one day. That's not an atheist claim. She told Sean Hannity that she was "open to be converted". This is more of a position of someone who is an agnostic. Even Hannity agreed that she is agnostic.

The intent of this entry is not to figure out whether Cupp is a "real atheist" or not. That would be the last thing I want to happen from this entry. I merely would like to explore this issue, because I think she's mislabeling herself. If Cupp finds this blog post, she would likely say that I'm an "angry and militant atheist". This could be farther from the truth. I just would want her to know that agnosticism is closer to what her beliefs would represent. I've watched and read many interviews with Cupp, and I feel like the evidence would show that she is agnostic, and not atheist. It's a matter of not only semantics, but her identification as an atheist really hurts everyone else.

If she keeps qualifying herself as not "one of those militant atheists" it hurts everyone who is an atheist. It's a misconception that we have to continuously debunk, because of how it is said. Cupp is talking to a lot of people who generally don't approve of atheists. It qualifies with the religious that most atheists are generally militant. I'm surely not militant, and neither are many of my other atheist friends and fellow atheist bloggers. That's not most of us, but still, these are active atheists who are not militant. This notion of militant activity by atheists is mostly fear driven, and by qualifying this misconception, she is reinforcing the stereotype. I'm not denying that militant atheists exist, but it's not everyone, just like any other group.

Perhaps, Cupp should use a different label that isn't specific. Might I recommend the term non-theist or non-believer? This label embraces the idea of non-belief, but doesn't put Cupp in a specific category. I don't expect every atheist to be active, but I feel that there is a certain need for us to be somewhat careful in how we label ourselves. Let's be mindful of how we label ourselves, and make sure we don't reinforce old stereotypes.

The Flyers Win the Eastern Conference

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2, winning the Eastern Conference Finals series 4-1. Neither the Flyers nor Canadiens were expecting to make it this far. No one expected that the Flyers would make it here back in mid-April. Flyers coach, Peter Laviolette, is proving once again why he is one of the best. He has a very motivated team, that can play physical, has speed and scoring capability. Again, superlatives would make for a nice post, but we have until Saturday to talk about that.

Just like I did with the Blackhawks, let's take a look at the history of the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup. The last time the Flyers made it to the Stanley Cup was in 1997, when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. That team had Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Ron Hextall, and Rod Brind'amour, along with a number of other very memorable names. The Flyers have been to the Stanley Cup Finals 7 times, and have won the Stanley Cup Twice. in 1974 they defeated the Boston Bruins, and in 1975 they defeated the Buffalo Sabres.

Game 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup finals was played in dense fog, due to unseasonably warm weather in Buffalo, NY. In the middle of the game, Sabres Center, Jim Lorentz killed a bat that flew near the ice surface. The Sabres ended up winning the game, but would lose the series. This is the only time there has been a live animal killed in an NHL game.

So now the table is set for the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm going to say my first impression of this series is that this is going to be an exciting and very physical series. I'm not making any picks now, and I'll a preview later in the week. So, what's your first hunch? Flyers or Blackhawks? (For the record Mike Richards did touch the Prince of Wales trophy)

The Blackhawks are Crowned Western Conference Champs

There are 3 teams left in the NHL playoffs. Yesterday, the Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the San Jose Sharks in a 4-2 win, taking the series in 4 games. Chicago has had a difficult road to get here, also facing Vancouver and Nashville. Antti Niemi has played sharp in net this post-season. In addition the Blackhawks have played fantastic throughout the playoffs. I could sit here and list off every player on the roster, and have something good to say about them.

However, I'm going to take a little bit of a different approach. Let's look at the history of the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. This is their 11th appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. The last time they appeared in a Stanley Cup was in 1992, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have won 3 times in 1934, 1938, and their last in 1962. I think Blackhawks fans are pulling for Philadelphia in the East, because of the bad luck they historically have against Montreal. In 5 of their Stanley Cup Appearances, the Blackhawks have faced Montreal, and each time they have lost.

So the question at this hour is can the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. I think so. Not only have I picked them pre-season, and pre-playoffs to make it here, but they are an impressive team. I think the Blackhawks are able to play against physical teams, and even be a bit physical themselves. One problem teams have had with both the Flyers and the Canadiens is that their physical play has thrown them off their game. The Blackhawks are maturing, and they're a tough team to play. I think they are in a very good position to win the Stanley Cup, but I'm not going to make a prediction until the Eastern Conference crowns their champion.

In the meantime, excuse me while I listen to "Chelsea Dagger" (The Blackhawks' goal song) a few more times.

Republican Campaigns and Music Selection

Political Campaigns have been using popular music since I can remember. Sometimes artists who don't endorse the candidates who use their music get very upset. For example, down in Florida, Marco Rubio (R) has been using Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run". Rubio has been using the song to show his frustration with incumbent Senator Charlie Christ (R-FL). Well, Steve Miller is not too pleased with the campaign using his music. Miller wrote the following to a newspaper in Florida:

It has come to my attention that Marco Rubio is using one of my songs in a campaign ad for U.S. Senate. The Steve Miller Band and Steve Miller do not endorse Marco Rubio's campaign or any political candidates and respectfully request that Mr. Rubio learn more about publishing law and intellectual property rights. I also ask that in the future he extends me the courtesy of asking permission before using my songs. Yours, Steve Miller."
I think Steve Miller has the right to say this. Intellectual property, especially music, is the law. The song clearly isn't in the public domain. Even when films use music, they have to get the rights or permission to the music in order to use it. This problem of music and intellectual property on campaigns seems to be a recurring one for campaigns. Lawsuits over music use on campaigns seem to happen often. Let's look at two other historical cases:

The most famous case occurred in the 1984 campaign when Ronald Reagan's campaign used Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA". Not only was it illegal, but there's a huge irony to it. The song "Born in the USA" is not exactly a patriotic one, like the song's music might suggest. If you actually read into the lyrics, it's a song about the long term effects of the Vietnam War. When the Reagan campaign used this song in the 1984 election, they likely listened to the chorus more than the verses. Reagan even said the following at a campaign stop:
America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about.
Springsteen was not a fan of Reagan, and frankly not a fan of him using his music. Springsteen was enraged, and responded by recording a new song "Johnny 99" that explained his frustration with Reagan using his song.

More recently in the 2008 election, the Ohio Republican Party music rights with Jackson Browne. The Ohio Republican Party was accused of using Browne's "Running on Empty" without his permission. Browne claimed that the use of his song, implied that he endorsed the McCain campaign. Browne wasn't the only one suing the McCain campaign for using their music. ABBA, Franki Vallie, and John Mellencamp also sued over the use of their music.

Music is a political issue is becoming as much an issue as any other on a campaign. If there's any take-away message here it's that candidates need to use the legal channels to obtain rights. As much as I don't like copyright laws sometimes, this makes sense. While there is an element of a free speech issue here, it's also illegal to break copyright laws. Copyright law is a whole complicated field in itself, and something I don't know too much about. My thought is that while copyright law exists, permission must be granted or obtained in order to use the music. Yes, it might be expensive to obtain rights for music, but it will save the campaign money on unneeded lawsuits. I expect that since we are in a hyper-partisanship and high-tech era of politics, this idea of musical lawsuits may become a commonplace.

Cincinnati Cyclones win the Kelly Cup

On Friday, the Cincinnati Cyclones won the ECHL's Kelly Cup, defeating the Idaho Steelheads 4-1 in the series. This championship was the Cyclones' 2nd championship in 3 years. Last time I mentioned the Cincinnati Cyclones, they were leading the series 2-0 in the series. In Game 3, the Steelheads won 4-3 in overtime. The Cyclones would win Game 4 by a score of 3-2. Finally, in Game 5, the Cyclones finished the series with a 2-1 win. Here's the final moments of Game 5 at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati:

This is not my video because I couldn't be there on Friday. I found it after my brother posted it on my Facebook wall. Nearly every seat was filled, which is a rarity for hockey in Cincinnati. It's too bad I couldn't be in town for this, because it would have been an awesome moment to see Cincinnati fans excited about hockey. Cincinnati Mayor, Mark Mallory, proclaimed that May 21, 2010 was Cincinnati Cyclones Day. Today, a celebration is scheduled to take place downtown. I'm so thrilled to see that the city of Cincinnati is supporting ice hockey.

As thrilled as Cincinnati fans are about their local hockey, I really wonder if this can benefit the Columbus Blue Jackets. I'm sure the Blue Jackets marketing was watching this. I think that Cincinnati might be ready for hockey coverage. There is currently limited coverage of the Columbus Blue Jackets in Cincinnati press. It's understandable because it's not entirely local. However, now that ice hockey is becoming a presence in the Cincinnati sports discussion, it might be time to have more coverage in its press. I really hope Cincinnati can improve their hockey coverage, and that they can promote the game better. Enjoy the celebrations Cincinnati, I wish I could be there!

UPDATE 12:20PM: The blog Cycwords is a great blog about the Cincinnati Cyclones. There's some great entries on their thoughts about the Kelly Cup Finals series. A twitter friend of mine, Danielle, is an author of this blog.

Atheism Pamphlet from Jews for Jesus

During this week Moishe Rosen, Jews for Jesus' founder, died at the age of 78. Jews for Jesus is an extremely controversial group that looks to convert Jews into Christians. Many followers tend to blend Jesus narratives into their Jewish traditions. Many will still observe major holidays, but will also observe Christian holidays as well. Jews for Jesus is generally denounced by prominent Jewish groups. For example, Rabbi James Rubin of the American Jewish Committee said the following:

We have truth in advertising and truth in labeling in the United States. And the people should know that they really are Christian missionaries. I would have had much more respect for him, and for his organization, if they had just come out and said, ‘We are Christian missionaries, trying to convert Jews.’
The dead giveaway is that the group is looking to convert, which is not seen in many Jewish groups. While I can't say there is no is recruiting in Judaism, much of it is internal. Conversion is a lengthy process, and not one that is easily done either. Also Judaism doesn't usually advocate conversion like Christianity does. Also, if I remember correctly, saying Jesus is the Messiah is a contradiction to Judaism, because they believe the Messiah is Elijah the Prophet.

I never realized though that this group did recruiting outside Judaism. In doing some research for this blog post, I looked over their main website. In doing so I found that there are a number of pamphlets you can print and read. One of these pamphlets is on atheism. As I was reading through it I noticed that it implemented similar if not the same tactics as a Christian group. They try to belittle the reader into thinking that they haven't given God a chance. I also don't think they really give much of an incentive to look into Jews for Jesus. Saying Jesus is God is not a Jewish thing to say, nor very good proof to convert an atheist. It just seems like a very cookie cutter Christian cartoon, that is very similar to the "Chick Tracts" that I have run into. Jen at Blag Hag, has a collection of them. These cartoons are nothing new, but it's definitely telling that they're not a Jewish group.

Art, Politics, and Michael Oxenrider

This evening I had a great time at the Go Figure opening reception at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. I was there to support a great friend of mine, Rachel Tobias. Purdue students may recognize that name, because she is also the cartoonist of The Exponent's "State Your Purpose". The exhibit is fantastic, and highly recommend it! It is a gallery full of pieces that have been made from trash and recyclables.

While I was there I talked to her boyfriend about the local races in Indiana and Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-IN) gaffe yesterday. Someone overheard us, and asked us if we were talking about the Ellsworth race. He then introduced himself as Michael Oxenrider. We discussed some of the local races, including the 4th District. We talked about James Hass, local races, and blogging.

When I got home, I decided to do a little research on Mr. Oxenrider, like I've done on other candidates I've encountered. He is the Democratic Candidate for Indiana's State Senate 22nd District. He graduated from Purdue in 2002. He started the Tipp-C arts and entertainment magazine. In 2004, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After a lengthy battle with disease, he now wants to give back to his community by serving in the State Senate. He is also a frequent contributor to Twitter Journalism, a magazine about new media.

His issue stands are very good ones for Indiana. He wants to try to encourage Indiana firms to grow and stay here. His economic plans include promoting green energy and technology, protect private and family farms with controls on urban sprawl, as well as investment in agriculture. Mr. Oxenrider also wants to improve education with new programs to send students to college and create new opportunities for balanced budgets. However, the plan I like best is his plan to promote the arts. Mr. Oxenrider wants to create opportunities for the state's best minds to stay in-state and create tourism opportunities for travelers. If you think about how many people drive through Indiana on vacation, this could only help the state's economy.

So overall, I really enjoyed and appreciated a moment to talk to Mr. Oxenrider. I think he is a good candidate from what I have read. I think he has a good sense of what can be done with community involvement. I like his economic plans, and think that he was a very knowledgeable candidate. His narrative is a very moving one, that I think people will relate to. You can follow him on Twitter. I wish him the best of luck, and hopefully he can win his race in November.

Gordie Howe Will Take the Case!

When I think of Gordie Howe, I usually don't think of a great lawyer. Well, the University of Saskatchewan will honor NHL Hall of Fame forward Gordie Howe with an honorary law degree. Howe will receive this degree on June 3, during the University's commencement ceremony. Howe is continually honored in his home province of Saskatchewan. There have been hockey rinks, and statues that have been erected in his name. Howe is excited to go back to Saskatchewan on his upcoming week-long trip. He has said

It’s going to be nerve-racking...You go back to the old people – and now I’m one of the old people – but you go back there, some 60-years, and the association that you have with the people, boy, you can’t remember all of them
Hockey fans who regularly read this blog are probably wondering: "Why is a Blue Jackets fan's favorite player Gordie Howe?" Well for starters I grew up as a Red Wings fan. I also got to meet Howe as a kid, as well as have read a bit about him. In meeting him, you would never know he was one of the greatest players ever to play. He would sit in the stands at Tam-O-Shanter in Sylvania, OH and talk to everyone who came up to him.

Although he was a rough and tough guy on the ice, he is a really nice guy. He is also one incredible man, doing a lot of charitable work. The Howe Foundation works to give to people in need an opportunity to participate, learn, and to experience hockey. Howe has been a great ambassador to the game, and has helped make the game available to everyone. If you'd like to learn more about him, I highly recommend his autobiography And Howe... which was co-written by his wife the late Colleen Howe. Gordie Howe will always be regarded as the best, and it will be hard to match his greatness on and off the ice.

Glenn Beck Continues His Crusade on Social Justice

As many of you know, I actually watch Fox News once in awhile. Yesterday, I watched Glenn Beck's show, and I saw something that made my head hurt, a lot. Glenn Beck tried to show that the Democrats are basically in bed with the Churches. He claims:

Obama is merging the EPA with churches to make it easier for churches to get loans to green up and push green initiatives on their parishioners. On the one hand, if you don't cooperate, your 501c3 status could be in jeopardy, but if you help with the administration's agenda, why the government could help you build a new chapel.
Beck cites Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) making quotes about religious issues, but as usual, they are out of context.

As he always assumes, the Obama Administration is trying to make sure they can control every aspect of life in the United States. While this is obviously not true, Beck's audience tends to listen. To debunk this claim, I Googled this "revelation" that faith-based initiatives are being merged with the EPA. I only found that right-leaning websites were reporting this. There have been faith based groups that have done volunteering along the same lines in the past, but not in the way Beck is stating. Beck then cites this "move" by the Democrats to combine the church with the EPA as a move for the ACLU to take away God in favor of government. Why does this sound absolutely false to me? Because this would be a justification for Beck's crusade on "Social Justice". Beck has been calling for people to leave institutions that advocate social or economic justice. Most specifically, he has been telling people to leave churches.

If you look at, you will notice that of the statements they have fact checked, Glenn Beck only has one completely true statement. This is troublesome for someone who is taken very seriously by his followers. While misinformation is a tactic employed by all pundits, this is a case where it is dangerously done. Many watch and listen to these shows as if they are factual, and not the entertainment that they truly are.

So what can we make of this argument? First of all, this crusade against social justice is silly, because that's what Beck is trying to achieve. Secondly, Democrats are not looking to combine the church with the EPA. If that was happening, the atheist community (including myself) would be completely up in arms, and we're not. Churches can choose what they do for community service, and if they want to donate time to environmental causes, they should be able to. I just don't want the government to endorse their religion over their service. Thirdly, just because you're religious doesn't mean you endorse religious institutions. For example, non-Christian religious groups generally don't endorse the day of prayer.

People who take Glenn Beck seriously, need to read non-Conservative press to understand why he is wrong. Although when they do this, they feel attacked. Beck has reinstalled a false sense of insecurity. Although conservatives have had this in the past, it's become more clearly evident with Glenn Beck. If you speak out against him, he smears you as a communist. He is the modern-day Senator McCarthy. All he needs to do is take on an institution that everyone, including supporters, will think he's crazy for doing so. For McCarthy, it was the military, and it ended his political career. Beck has attacked churches, and it's hurt him for sponsorships, but his career has continued. So I guess I wonder if this social justice crusade will not be the death of his career. Although if you ever listen to when Beck talks about religion he seems intentionally vague about it. So I guess the big question would be: is there an institution Glenn Beck would lose his career over if he attacks it?

I Guess Dan Peterson Means Business

Usually I'm not a follower of the barn-burner races for the Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner, but something caught my eye. Dale Peterson is the Republican candidate for this office. To outsiders, like myself, this race sounds like one that isn't really one that is going to be overly important. Well, one of his political advertisements has gone viral. Take a look:

This ad, I think symbolizes a lot actually. I think this ad is also both good and bad. Let's start with the good, it's effective for an audience that is dissatisfied with government. He's in cowboy clothes and with a horse, so he's showing that he's a rebel. For a Republican audience he also has a lot of high marks going for him. He's a veteran of the Marines, a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and is possibly a "maverick" from how he is dressed like a cowboy. I think he gets a lot of the points across well visually, so in that aspect I could see this as an effective ad.

Negatives about the ad would include this notion of illegal money. Maybe I'm not understanding the issue, but when is taking a donation from a company illegal? I really don't understand or follow that logic. Also, I think its well known that Alabama's agricultural industry is huge. Those thugs and criminals obviously didn't stop me from looking this up on Google.

Looking further into Mr. Peterson's campaign, I'm noticing that he is another Tea Party candidate. His tone in the commercial sounded very anti-establishment. He has never held a public office, like stated on his homepage:

I am a 64 year old retired, successful businessman who has never had political aspirations, but is offering to give back and break the rotation cycle of the same ole state office-hopping and state committee hopping politicians.
He just made an appearance on Glenn Beck's radio program yesterday. Also, Mr. Peterson's campaign website is one of the most cluttered, messy websites I have ever seen for a campaign. If that didn't make you angry, you can always check out Mr. Peterson's racist explanation of legal vs. illegal citizens. So if you need more proof that Tea Partiers are hateful, here you go.

So I think what's to be said here is that the Tea Party is not gone yet. Although they've lost some big races here in Indiana and Ohio, doesn't mean that they are gone nationwide. Some Tea Party candidates have made it past the primary stages, but not enough of them to make anything relevant occur. Will this guy win? I don't know enough about the race he's in, but conventional logic would say yes. Agricultural communities tend to lean more right nationally, and Alabama went for McCain in the 2008 election. We'll see what happens, but to me, he's just another Tea Party pawn in an inevitable losing battle.

Remember the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks?

I was talking to my brother today, and he made me feel really nostalgic for a moment. We started talking about one of our favorite minor-league teams ever: the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. This former AHL team was in Cincinnati between 1997-2005. They then moved and has since become the UHL's Rockford Ice Dogs. The Mighty Ducks were the farm team for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Detroit Red Wings.

My brother found an old TV Spot that the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks used to run locally. So I did some digging and found others.

Now in this one you might recognize the hockey player behind Puck Boy:

Yes, that is Sean Avery. This team, has so many current NHL stars, that it was awesome to go watch them play. In net, J-S Giguere, Ilya Bryzgalov have both led teams on playoff runs. Sean Avery, Ryan Getzlaf, Joffery Lupul, Matt Cullen, and Dustin Penner all played for this team before making it big in the NHL. Also, many recognizable former Blue Jackets such as: Epsen Knutsen and Curtis Glencross, played there too. To put the icing on the cake, Stanley Cup-winning coach Mike Babcock was the coach for 2 seasons, before being hired as the Anaheim Mighty Ducks head coach in 2002. This team bred success.

The Cincinnati Gardens, is a very old and historic arena where there has been a multitude of different entertainment events. Hockey, basketball, wrestling, boxing, rodeos, and other events filled the arena with spectators. Despite all of this, there is a deeper connection my brother and I have to it. It's where we played hockey in high school. My high school club team, CHCA/Loveland Tigers (now defunct), practiced and played on the main ice rink. The local ice hockey association used it for league championships, and Thanksgiving tournaments. It was a pretty well kept rink, and a good surface to play on. Probably the best in the city. Since the Mighty Ducks moved in 2005, the high school leagues still use the surface, but from what my brother tells me, it's not the same. He tells me that the rink has deteriorated so much in condition, because of funding. It's a shame, because it was such a great place to see a game. I'll always have fond memories of this rink and the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.

An Hour with Dr. David Sanders

Today, I met with Dr. David Sanders, a Biology Professor at Purdue University. He is the Democratic Nominee for the US House of Representatives race in Indiana's 4th District. He found me from my blog entries regarding James T. Hass and Donn Brown, noting the negative experiences I had by meeting them.

In our meeting we discussed a multitude of topics including issues including the environment, foreign policy, economics, and other issues. He definitely had a lot to say about environmental issues. We discussed Iran, and I asked him about how he feels about intervention, and he was very opposed to it. Additionally, he felt that change should come from within. He also saw national high-speed rail as a great idea for economic growth, the creation of jobs, and a great long term economic program for the district. On many of the issues we tended to agree, or be very close in political stance.

The one thing I'm really impressed with is his understanding of the role he would be taking if elected. He also understands that he would be in a very unique position if elected. He would be a Representative that would be very knowledgeable of the environmental issues first-hand. He also seems to understand the role of a freshman Congressman.

On a short aside, we did talk hockey for a brief moment. Dr. Sanders told me he is a New York Islanders fan. He said he remembered the early days when they were awful. He also remembered the days of Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, and the 4 Stanley Cups they brought to the Island in the early 1980s. He said he's lost touch with the game since he's been in Indiana, but he's a fan!

Dr. Sanders is in a race that will be difficult, and I think he can win. By no means will this be an easy race for him. By the request of Dr. Sanders, I will not divulge specifics of his campaign strategy. I will tell you however, that I think his strategy is mostly sound and plausible. I think he has a very good sense of what his opposition is going to throw at him. He really has a great personality that I think people will like. He also seems to have the backing of many prominent local Democrats including Nels Ackerson and Shelia Klinker. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk to him, and hope he wins this seat!

Cincinnati Cyclones Lead 2-0 in the Kelly Cup Finals

Cincinnati hockey is alive and well for the moment. The Cincinnati Cyclones are up 2-0 over the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL's Kelly Cup Finals. Even though I'm still in West Lafayette, IN for the summer, it's still exciting to hear about the hometown minor-league team. The Cyclones are the farm team for the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens. The Idaho Steelheads are the farm team for the Dallas Stars.

The Cyclones won the Kelly Cup back in 2008. I had an opportunity to see the Cincinnati Cyclones play game 2 against the Las Vegas Wranglers. The result was a 1-0 win in favor of the Wranglers. Fortunately, the Cyclones would win the series in 6 games. It was $1 beer night, so of course for that game it attracted a lot of people who are there for the beer. Although I'm usually not impressed with the ECHL play as a whole, I enjoyed this game. I think since there was something to play for many of the players are likely more motivated for the game.

As usual, I expect Cincinnati to be excited about the Cyclones for about a day. Then they will stop caring about hockey. I know the hockey fans will cherish it, but the public at large will care for a brief period of time. Last time the Cyclones won, the Reds were not very good, yet no one really talked about it for much longer than a week. However, this time around I'm not there, so I can't give any indication about this.

Also, it might not be helpful that the Reds are actually in first place in their division right now. So as soon as this series is over, many of them will put on their red ball-caps and walk next door to Great American Ballpark. For a sports town that has lived with mediocre major sports teams at best for the past 20 years, this is amazing. The Cyclones are very successful (in the standings), and yet no one cares about them unless they're good.

Having been to a few Cyclones games in the past few years (including one this season), I think a big reason why there's so much success is because of coach Chuck Weber. In the past 4 seasons, the Cyclones have been to the Kelly Cup Finals twice. In the two seasons they didn't make it, the Cylcones were in the semifinals. Before that, the Cyclones were perennial playoff contenders, but never made it to the finals. Since Weber has taken over the team, the team seems to perform better.

All things aside, the fans of the Predators, Canadiens, and in Idaho's case the Stars, should be excited about what their future could look like.

My Graduation From Purdue

Yesterday, I became a Purdue Alumnus. It will be strange, to say that because I will still be here for graduate school. So really, I'm still a student. I loved the ceremony, seeing my parents, and my friends at the ceremony. I had heard that it would be long and boring, but I didn't think it was. It's amazing to think that graduation day has came and went at this point, and that I now have further qualifications for jobs. Although I'm still going to grad school, I know that because I have a college degree I can still find a job that will make much more than minimum wage. I'm excited for the future.

If there was one thing I didn't like: a slightly religious undertone. Purdue University is an Indiana State school, meaning that it is a government institution. Therefore you would hope that there would be no religious undertones (at least I would). Jen mentioned this on her blog, and this led me to reflect on what I saw at the ceremony.

There was a moment of reflection in the ceremony, which was led by local Rabbi Roscoe. I really appreciate how he kept it to a very neutral tone, and that was fantastic. However, there was something else that I noticed. Jen explained exactly what I probably would write. She writes:

Now, I don't think a public university should designate a time for religious speakers, as that inherently shows a preference for religion over non-religion. Not to mention, even when they try to be diverse, they never include anything outside of Abrahamic religions - when I went a couple years ago (for the grad of my boyfriend at the time) they still just had a Catholic, a Protestant, a Jew, and a Muslim (no, they didn't walk into a bar). My big beef is that after the "Moment of Reflection," the choir sings "Amen" over and over again. Um, yeah, that's not a moment of reflection...
Completely agree, it is unfair to the non-religious. I am completely okay with a moment of reflection, however, I don't like being told to pray. I understand that a moment like this may lead one to pray, but I don't feel that a public institution should be promoting a public prayer. I'm not religious, and I appreciate the moment to reflect on what I have achieved, but don't ask me to pray, or imply that I should. I can make that decision.

The part that bothered me most, was that "Amazing Grace" was included in the musical score. I do appreciate religious music, because it is very pretty and soothing. However, why are we pushing the religion issue, especially Judeo-Christian religions? This is rural Indiana, but this is not fair to students who have different beliefs. I understand the idea of catering to the majority, because I'm sure that a majority follows Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. However, when Purdue has a large international student population, I would hope that we could either accommodate them, or drop the issue altogether. Now I don't want you to think that this ruined on a really exciting day for me, because it didn't. I just think this issue is one to be said. Maybe I'm looking too deep into this, but I think it should be stated.

Anyway, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout my pursuit of my undergraduate degree. I couldn't have done it without you! My parents, for their support and insistence on higher education. I'd like to thank my family and friends also for the emotional support and for being there. I know I sometimes get neurotic or panicked, and it gets annoying. However, thank you putting up with me.

Now it's time for this Political Scientist to go to Purdue's Grad School in order to pursuit a Masters degree, and eventually a PHD! Watch out world!

My Thoughts on the Arizona Immigration Law

Sports and politics overlapped a few weeks ago. The NBA's Phoenix Suns wore jerseys that said "Los Suns" during game 2 of their series against the San Antonio Spurs. The reason for these jerseys was to bring awareness to the immigration debacle in Arizona. As I saw this story, I realized I had not blogged on this topic. So, maybe it's time I weigh in on it. I haven't wanted to touch this, because I had not read enough into it. Now that I've had some time to read into it and think about it, I think I can put in my two cents. You can read the bill in its entirety here.

Before I criticize this law, let's recall what this legislation does. Randal C. Archibold writes:

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.
It angers me that people think that a law like this is helpful. While I'm not an immigrant, I can only imagine getting all papers for immigration is difficult. While this law's intent is to target immigrants, it will overreach its intent. This makes it difficult for anyone who is non-white to leave their homes. It bothers me that certain Americans, who are citizens, must carry around more identification than others, because they are afraid of the law profiling them. This reinforces a mentality that was seen in the Los Angeles riots in the early 1990s. That issue eventually was resolved, but there was much violence and outrage before resolution. There still is distrust of law enforcement among minorities because of incidents like this.

Sean Hannity, and other avid supporters of this law rationalizes defend the law as necessary and not racial profiling. They claim that the immigration papers aren't the first concern of a police officer when pulled over. While this in an ideal world is true, no police officer is perfect. Racial profiling occurs in law enforcement, whether it is acknowledged or not is another story. I really think these supporters are sitting in a position of privilege, and forget there are people different from themselves.

Arizona has created a place where non-whites are treated as second class citizens. This has caused outrage and many are protesting, by not supporting Arizona in any way. For example, there's a movement to boycott the MLB All-Star Game in 2011 which will be hosted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Los Angeles has decided to ban business with Arizona unless the law is repealed. This outrage is only going to grow louder and will eventually hurt Arizona in their economics. Poor tourism will eventually take its toll, and this should put enough pressure on Arizona to repeal the law.

While immigration reform is important, this is not the way to do it. Taking a drastic and unethical action against minorities, most specifically Hispanics, is inappropriate. There are more appropriate ways to address immigration without bringing a citizen's race and loyalty into question. I hope Arizona reconsiders what they have done and repeals this law. It will bring an end to threatened negative economic impact. Since this law is now a national issue, Arizona will feel this in their economy, and further legislation by its neighbors. Until the law is repealed, Arizona is in hot water, and could potentially be facing the socioeconomic consequences of this law for years to come.

More History Will Be Made Parodies

Before you look at the videos, just want to comment on the playoffs real quick. Tonight is Game 7 of the Penguins and Canadiens series. What a series this has been. I really think the Canadiens have a good chance at winning, and will be a difficult game for the Penguins. I'm going to refrain from picking a winner, because when I picked last time, it really didn't go too well. I hope the Bruins win tonight, just to keep the playoffs moving. I would love to see the Bruins play for the Stanley Cup, but it's going to be a difficult series for them next round. In the West, I can't wait to see the Sharks and Blackhawks, because that will be a very competitive series.

These "History Will Be Made" videos are awesome. The parodies I've been finding only get better. Since the first post, has been pretty popular, I decided that I would post a few more of these parodies that I've found. Enjoy!

Sidney Crosby and Diving

Tie Domi fights a Flyers Fan

Claude Lemieux Fighting Darren McCarty

Ty Conklin costs the Oilers Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals

The Reagan Republican Titanic

Today, I read an article on Newsweek's website about how Republican Presidents of old would not be popular in the current conservative circles. This isn't news, because the Republicans have been playing the "I'm more conservative than you" game since President Obama has taken office. The threat of purity tests that Presidents of old could not win, a contract with America, and Glenn Beck are all just examples of how far right this party and ideology have gone.

The article evaluates the past 5 Republican Presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) and their ability to pass the proposed purity test. The highest score was a 5/10 by Bush 41, however it was pointed out that Bush 43 was likely the most likely to be elected or even popular in this group. Yes, that means Ronald Reagan is not a Reagan Conservative. This narrative of Reagan Conservatism seems to not exactly reflect what actually happened under the Reagan Administration. This isn't news, but it still reflects that the Republican Party is moving in a direction that is a bit extremist.

Andrew Romano writes the following about Republican Presidents who would be unpopular now:

The point is not that these guys were liberals. It's that the GOP is at risk of becoming so dogmatic that it would exclude even its most iconic members. Preemptively ruling out the sort of pragmatic policies that have worked in the past is a novel strategy, and it clearly plays to the passions of the moment. But unless the demographic evidence is wildly inaccurate and the country is, in fact, growing more and more right wing over time, it's probably not a strategy that's going to work particularly well in the future.
This is a very good point that needs to be made. If the Republican party moves so far right that it alienates part of its own, it will become a larger right-wing fringe group. Currently that's what this party looks like. The leaders of the Republican Party do not strike me as Presidential either. Unless this country has taken a sudden turn to being more right-wing, which I highly doubt, the Republican Party represents a very select few in this country. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of a split in the Republican party, which could end up being a third party.

The Conservative Fear of Atheism

Last Thursday was the traditional date of the National Day of Prayer, that was traditionally set aside to encourage Americans to pray. Recently, the institution was found to be unconstitutional, and caused a bit of a stir in conservative circles. So in this time, there has been quite a few times where I have heard either candidates, Sarah Palin, or Fox News take offense to this decision. Below is a video that is just a simple example of how this has been approached by the Fox News conservatives in this country.

Dan Barker is the co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I think Dan Barker may have gotten the tamest Fox News interview I have ever seen for an atheist. In the past there has been much worse. Richard Dawkins had a really bad interview on the O'Reilly Factor back in October 2009. Not only was Dawkins called a facist, he was completely disrespected. I think not only does this show the obvious bias of Fox News, but also how conservatism is continually exclusionary of alternative thought that is not Judeo-Christian. There's countless examples of this issue.

Dan Barker's point about "why does the government need to mandate prayer?" is very important. If the government mandates prayer, it's still unconstitutional. For starters the government mandate of prayer implies a mandate of religion, which is unconstitutional. Secondly, the way the day of prayer has been mostly honored by the Christian faiths. I could be wrong about this. I don't recall taking part in this day when I was practicing Judaism in Jewish Day School. It seems to be more something that the Christian faiths do, over the others, then gloat about it. Sure there's a majority in this country that identifies as Christian, but that does not mean every one is in fact a Christian. Granted I do not have the right to say they don't have the right to pray. Why can't the Christians do their own day of prayer, and leave the government out of it? It's not unconstitutional to do that.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that the religious right in this country is crying over nothing. Just because the government doesn't recognize it, doesn't mean it's illegal. Do it yourselves, and leave the non-Christians out of it. Religion is fine to have as an institution, as much as I may disagree with it. However, religion is not appropriate as a government institution. By making religion a government a government, we move ourselves in a direction that may indicate a form of theocracy that does not reflect the country as a whole.

(Thanks to Jen for the Dan Barker video)

Two Great Series in the NHL Eastern Conference

The NHL Playoffs, are the best time of the year for hockey. The best games and the ones that everyone tends to remember tend to occur during this annual tournament. Both series in the East have been remarkable. This is not to say that there aren't great series out in the Western Conference, but I have seen more games in both of the Eastern Conference series.

This series between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers has been a series of really exciting games. Although the Bruins lead the series 3-1, this is not nearly reflective of how great these games have been. Two of the games have gone to overtime, have been everything you would want in a playoff series. There's been a lot of great physical play, and the playoff style of hockey that I love to see this time of year. Arguably, Tuuka Rask is right now the playoff MVP.

In the series between the Penguins and the Canadiens, we have a lot of surprises. Not only is the series tied at 2-2, but the Canaidens are playing fantastic. Jaroslav Halak is playing amazing, and that is a big reason why the Habs are still in this series. During the regular season Halak was 26-13-5 with a GAA of 2.40 and 5 shutouts. If you think these numbers are pretty good, wait until you hear these stats for the playoffs. In 10 games, Halak has a 6-4 record with a GAA of 2.43. In addition, the habs have been able to throw the Penguins off their game, with physical play from Hal Gill and others. In this series we have learned that the Penguins lack the discipline needed to play physical teams. Sidney Crosby has been mostly unproductive. I really think the Habs have a very good chance to beat the Penguins in this series. It also may be seen as a clinic on how to beat the Penguins in general.

I look forward to the rest of the playoffs, but this round has been fantastic. I think this years' playoffs are exactly what they should be. If these series are any indication of what's to come in this tournament, I'm very excited.

A Brazilian Archbishop Airs Out Some Frustration

Yesterday, another religious leader had another outlandish claim about LGBTQ culture. Archbishop Daedus Grings of Brazil stated:

children are "spontaneously homosexual" and society at large is pedophilic
Grings makes this statement in light of the sex-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. Also he calls culture at large pedophilic, the problem with that statement is its intent. It is pretty likely he is referring to the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals into culture. Of course this is rehashing a lot of negative stereotypes about LGBTQ individuals.

This isn't a new falsehood bestowed upon the LGBTQ community. I definitely heard this during the Tax Day Tea Party Rally this year in West Lafayette. This stereotype is one that I think is one of the more damaging stereotypes of the LGBTQ community. The sad part to me seems that this may become a more prevalent stereotype. Due to the crisis in the Catholic Church, this may become common in vernacular. I'm a little afraid that this stereotype will get worse as the Catholic Church Scandal unfolds. They will need a scapegoat to preserve the Church's standing. Using the LGBTQ community is convenient for the Church, because they are already demonized.

But wait, this gets even better. He also believes that the police should stay out of this entirely, and let the Church handle it. Grings thinks that the punishment by the Church would be enough, and that the police being involved would create more problems. This would place the Church above the State. Now I could rationalize this position in a context that it is an international issue that should be dealt with by an international institution. However, even in that case the Catholic Church is subject to laws in the countries they're present, like anyone else. Child molestation is not ok in any context.

The Catholic Church must be subject to all laws of countries where they have churches. There will be some inconsistency, but each country can deal with them as they see it. The Catholic Church will likely not agree with this solution, but it makes the most sense because the Church will likely not punish them strong enough. The priests, in some cases, may only get a slap on the hand from the Church, and shipped to a different flock. I really think that Church must either take a tougher stance (which they won't, since they want to protect priests), or face the consequences of the governments where the Church has branches. In some countries it could be harsher than others, but again, they are subject to the laws of the countries they're in.

Well, before I wrap up this post, I should mention another earlier statement made by Archbishop Grings. Last year in an interview with a magazine, Grings stated:
More Catholics than Jews died in the Holocaust, but this isn't known because the Jews control the world's media
While there were a lot of Catholics that died in the Holocaust, it is estimated that the majority were Jews. Now about the World-wide Jewish Media Conspiracy, it doesn't exist, but that's another topic for another post. In Conclusion, I guess not only is Grings oblivious to local law, but also history.

(Thank you to Mark)

Judaism's Group-Think Problem with Israel

Today in the New York Times I noticed a great article about the American Jewish thought on Israel. Paul Vitello explains the agony that many Jewish Americans feel when they openly criticize Israel. The traditional point of view in the Jewish Communities on Israel is that they are never wrong in any actions they take. Oftentimes, disagreeing with Israel on any issue is equated with denying the Holocaust. While this is completely irrational, it still happens. However, this article seems to suggest that this might be changing because of the recent tension between the Obama Administration and Netanyahu's Administration. Vitello writes:

Within the vast spectrum of opinion, though, American Jews continue to have strong attachments to Israel, and the recent tensions have produced intense, often angry, debate. The rancor led delegates at the annual convention of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella community relations group that includes almost all major American Jewish organizations, to adopt a resolution in February calling for a halt to “a level of uncivility, particularly over issues pertaining to Israel, that has not been witnessed in recent memory.”
It is good to see that people in the Jewish Community that do not support Israel entirely are finally speaking up. I've always thought that this type of blind support of a cause had an opposition, but it was never there. Now that people are possibly speaking up, this could be a major transformation within Judaism. Although 78 percent of Jewish voters sided with President Obama in the 2008 election, Israel lobbies would like you to believe his approval rating is somewhere closer to 15 percent.

I experienced this group-think first-hand when I was in Judaism. I had a distant cousin disown me over this issue. The discussion on this issue is just not present in certain circles in the Jewish world. Especially with the tradition of Aliyah, or ritualistic immigration to Israel. My cousin did this, and served the required military service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). In some American Political circles, this would be considered treason, but since Israel is an ally of the US it's just overlooked. I was called a Holocaust denier by my cousin, because I felt that Israel was violating sovereignty in the Gaza conflict in 2008. To clear the record, I do not deny the Holocaust happened. In fact, I went to the concentration camp Dachau and I can tell you with absolute certainty that it happened. Yes, Modern Israel's origins are rooted in the Holocaust, but how is a slight disagreement taken to its extreme? I guess Judaism and Israelis are not immune to Glenn Beck logic.

I'll be honest, this is one of the major issues that made me want to leave Judaism. While I've been to Israel a few times, I have never really felt an overly spiritual connection to the land. Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful and worth the time and effort to get there. Israel has the right to exist, however I cannot bring myself to support it without questioning anything. There is very few political ideas I can do this for in International Relations. I do think there are times that Israel is wrong, for example the settlement building on the West Bank. If it aggravates your enemies, then it's probably a bad idea. If the peace process is to work in the Middle East, Israel needs to trust the Palestinians, and vice-versa. Judaism needs to stop polarizing its people on this issue, because it's causing unneeded harm to itself. By making Israel into an issue that cannot be debated, it's advocating bad foreign policy. Again, I agree that Israel has the right to exist, but let's have the debate and allow for disagreement on Israel. Disagreeing with Israel on policy or political issues doesn't make someone automatically make someone a supporter of Hezbollah or Hamas.

2010 Primary Results and the Failure of the Tea Party in Indiana

The primary season for the 2010 election in Indiana finally came to a close last night. Many are already calling Indiana's primaries a referendum on the Tea Party Movement in Indiana. There was a low turnout, and that seemed to show that the Tea Party Movement, might not be nearly as potent as their movement may suggest. I should note that when I attended events, they were sparsely attended. Blogger Richard Adams of The Guardian said the following:

...the interesting take-away is the exceptionally low turnout in the primaries overall, and the failure of the Tea Party movement to make a big impression on the Republican primaries, suggesting that its momentum may have stalled and that its influence on November's results may not be profound.
In order to test this, let's look at the results.
In the past few months I have had encounters with 3 different candidates who are running for office in the 2010 elections. Looking at their performances and races, may give some insight to whether this statement is true.

In Indiana's 27th district I had an encounter with Tea Party Candidate Donn Brown (R). In February I attended a Tea Party meeting, where Mr. Brown explained why he hated liberals. He ran unopposed for the Republican nomination and will be facing the widely loved and incumbent Shelia Klinker (D) in the general election. I think Donn Brown has very little chance to win, since Klinker has a name in the community. Also, Brown's stands will not appeal to the public at large. Some of his beliefs and policy stands are very radical. His campaign has only raised $1,072.65, which will not be enough to battle an incumbent. Not to mention, Brown has currently no cash on hand, while Klinker has near $2,000 on hand. There's still six months, but Brown is not starting in a good position.

In the Senate race, I had an encounter with another Tea Party Candidate Richard Behney (R). Although very charismatic, I didn't think he was very appealing to a variety of voters either. He even stated in his primary stop that I attended that he was not well liked in the party. Behney also credits himself for being the one that brought the Tea Party to Indiana, because of a Glenn Beck interview he did. I wonder if not allowing Mike Pence (R-IN) to speak at the 2009 Indy Tea Party was the problem with the Republicans. Maybe I was right, because he didn't show well in the primary, only gaining 4 percent of the GOP vote. He finished 5th of 5 candidates. Dan Coats won the Republican primary, and will take on the Democrat challenger Brad Ellsworth. It's worth mentioning that Coats is a current politician.

In the US House race for Indiana's 4th District, I had an encounter with James T. Hass (R). This encounter ended up with my negative post about him, on his Facebook campaign page. With that link there was a bit of a snarky comment made, and I was a little annoyed for a few days. He later commented on my blog something that I would take as an apology. I'm sure Mr. Hass is a nice guy and wouldn't mind talking to him at some point. Although Mr. Hass made some noise on Purdue's campus, he made a whimper in the primary results. Mr. Hass only garnered 2 percent of the GOP vote. He was 12th out of a 13 candidate race. The winner of the GOP race, was Todd Rokita (R), Indiana's current Secretary of State. He will face David Sanders (D).

So what did we learn here? I think it's telling about how influential the Tea Party really is in Indiana. With low turnout and few of their candidates polling well, they are obviously a very small minority. This group is very small in size, but loud. If this movement wants to be taken seriously, they need to get their candidates past the primaries. Now that there are "career politicians" running as Republicans in many races, it's going to be harder for the Tea Party to be influential in Congress. I can't see Tea Partiers voting for the Democrats, and even if they try to vote third party, polls show that doesn't help their cause either. The Tea Party had a really big chance to make themselves a player in the politics here in Indiana, and they failed. Now they will have to resort to voting for Republican candidates that aren't in 100% agreement with the movement.

Is this the end of the Tea Party in Indiana? I doubt it. As long as the Tea Party has national attention (or Fox News' ear), they'll still be active here. I can't imagine a defeat like this stopping this movement. They'll likely be rallying around whatever candidates are still running in respective races. They may even lend a hand financially to other candidates like Mark Rubio (R-FL) or Rand Paul (R-KY). Granted none of the races locally are for offices that will have effect at the national level, the local Tea Party Movement can still play a role in national races. All the Indiana Primaries tell us is that the Tea Party Movement is unelectable locally.

A Whiny Brat Named Sidney Crosby

On Sunday, I tuned into NBC for their NHL Playoff coverage. I was excited to see the Montreal Canadiens take on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The matchup sounds intriguing, because Montreal is playing much better than anyone expected. As the game began, I turned the TV on mute because I could not put up with Pierre McGuire's love for Sidney Crosby. The fact that he cannot do any wrong bothers me, however I think it's bothering other people too. In Game 2, Sidney Crosby was being the whiny little kid I have become accustomed to watching. Take a look at this highlight reel, if you don't believe me:
Ok, that last play is really what set me off. When you break your stick on the net of the opposing goaltender, that is really disrespectful. If Crosby does something like that, he should expect retribution. Throughout the game you could see him whining to the referees or his teammates. If anything, Crosby better be ready for more of this, because the Canadiens threw him off his game, and it worked. He also deserved it. Sidney Crosby is a little crybaby to me, until he can prove otherwise. This is how he acts in every other game I watch. He has been in this league 5 years now, and he still acts like he is 12. I'm tired of Penguins fans defending him, because this behavior is exactly what people don't like about him. We're not jealous because he's not on our respective teams, we're annoyed that no one has knocked any sense into him. For the style of play he has, Crosby should expect to be hit. If you can't take a hit, don't play in the NHL.

I hate to say this, but I don't see Alexander Ovechkin looking at the refs for penalty calls after every time he gets hit. Disregard for a second what you think about Ovechkin. Ovechkin plays a similar style of play, and doesn't cry every time he gets hit. If Crosby wants to stand in front of the net, he better be ready to knocked down. The bottom line is, Sidney Crosby is a whiny little brat. As much of a critic as I have been, this is awful. He's getting closer to be a veteran, and he's still acting like a rookie. Since he's very mature off the ice, I know he's capable of it on the ice. Maybe this means he shouldn't be the Captain. Maybe that means, people should stop kissing his feet too. So to Sidney Crosby, grow up, and maybe fans like me will stop complaining about how you're a whiny brat!

The Future of Off-Shore Drilling and the NIMBY Response

In late April, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded causing a lot of damage to the Gulf region. This explosion has brought about numerous consequences to the area. Oil slicks have been difficult to maintain, and have effected the shores of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama to say the least. Some people are even looking at this disaster as one of the largest ecological disasters in US history. It is likely to change attitudes on off-shore drilling, and may even have a lot of political consequences. This could also become a new NIMBY problem. Before I delve any deeper into this issue, let's look at the impacts of the explosion in the region.

The Environmental Effects of the Oil Rig Explosion

The effects of this explosion are going to be felt in this region for a long time to come. For one, the wildlife in the region will certainly be affected, if it hasn't already. Around 40 percent of the Wetlands are located in this area. That means many birds, and other unique plants will be affected by the sludge and oil spilling from the platform. Not to mention, this is a key time in migration for birds in the region. David A. Fahrenthold and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post covered the scientific observation of the disaster. Farenthold and Elperin write the following about the bird migration in the region:
Oil is damaging for birds because it coats their feathers, destroying the natural chemistry that keeps them buoyant, warm and able to fly. When birds "preen" and try to remove the oil, they can swallow it and be poisoned.

So it is terrible timing that, at this time of year, huge numbers of birds converge on the marshes and empty barrier islands on this stretch of the Gulf Coast. Some are just stopping to recharge after a long flight over the Gulf from South America. But others have come to stay, preparing to raise their young in nests in the marsh and along sandy beaches.
Although birds are very important to the environment, there's another concern addressed here. Fish and other seafood are going to make a more direct impact to the economy in the region. For one, the seafood is becoming inedible, which will affect the ecological landscape. The birds that eat these fish will die, and birds will eventually stop migrating that direction, because the fish will be toxic. Humans will feel these effects, since the seafood industry will not be able to use the fish for food. Currently, fishing in the region has been halted, and assurances have been made that seafood currently is safe for consumption in the region. Fishermen are fearful about the future, because it will kill microscopic organisms that are vital to sea life. For now, they will not know the larger effects, but it could be devastating.

The Political effects of the Oil Rig

Politically, off-shore drilling has been a polarizing issue. In 2008, the idea was championed by Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) presidential campaign. The mantra "Drill Baby, Drill" was chanted at every other rally. The call to lift restrictions had become very loud and about a month ago, President Obama ended some restrictions to offshore drilling. President Obama has put the fault of the disaster on the shoulders of BP, which is completely plausible since it was their oil rig. Since this oil rig exploded, President Obama has now been blamed for the oil rig disaster in the gulf. Not to mention, because it happened on Earth Day, conspiracy theorists have been creating narratives that put Obama at the center of the issues. This is clearly false, because why would a President who is advocating green jobs, sabotage his own policy stand? Not to mention the oil rig belonged to BP, so it was a private firm's property.

Other criticism Obama has received comes from conservative pundits. Rush Limbaugh has been quick to call this "Obama's Katrina". Ethan Sacks of The New York Daily News said that Limbaugh furthered the charge, and likened the President's response to Katrina. Sacks writes:
Limbaugh echoed the charge that many Democrats leveled at the then-Bush administration's slow response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005: "The rig exploded on April 21 (sic). There was a massive explosion of an oil rig in the Gulf. The White House was strangely silent about the environmental disaster just till a few days ago."
I think this is an unfair comparison. The Katrina disaster was the result of not watching and listening to weather experts. I believe the government has been dealing with this, as best they can, but BP needs to be responsible for this as well. For those who think the private sector sometimes needs help from the government, look no further than this disaster. Without the government this disaster could be so much worse. This problem could get a lot worse though as a social problem.

Could Off-Shore Drilling Become a NIMBY Problem?

In Fall 2009, I took a class that explored the issues of environmental issues and siting, under the umbrella of NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard). NIMBY problems are those that deal with controversial environmental sitings and the overwhelming negative or positive response by the hosting communities. The problems of NIMBY have been felt with the constructions of dams, nuclear power plants, waste facilities, and others that can have an effect on the local environment. Some of these projects have seen very angry and violent responses, such as Japan's Narita Airport siting in 1965.

Many political scientists have called many of these ideas populist and very uneducated movements against needed policy. Sometimes it becomes so detrimental that it changes national policy, and moves advancement backwards. For example, the political landscape of Nevada has been so severely changed by the prospects of nuclear energy, due to the controversy regarding Yucca Mountain. It's become difficult to run for office in that state without denouncing nuclear energy. Also, because the US political system is somewhat slow in legislature, progress tends to get hindered. This allows for both sides of the issue to get "experts" to support or deny claims made by either side. Nuclear energy also has issues with popularity due to knowledge of disasters at Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. This causes a NIMBY response. One other thing to consider is that this NIMBYism can be somewhat tamed over time. "Cancer Alley" in the Gulf Coast region have done a lot of damage to the environment there, but it's more accepted now, since it's been there for a long time.

Could Offshore drilling move in this direction? I think it's very possible. A big disaster such as the one we see in the gulf currently, may make the politics of offshore drilling tougher to sell in states on the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico. No one wants beaches full of oil slicks, or damaged wildlife. It will hurt summer tourism, which can be a large economic event for many coastal cities. So this fear of disaster will likely be fresh on the minds of residents of those states. Because of the economic impacts of a possible disaster, I think it is very possible we could be looking at a new NIMBY problem.

So What Does the Future Look Like for Off-Shore Drilling?

I think this issue is going to be a very sticky one for both Republicans and Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. For one, offshore drilling restrictions have been lifted to a degree by President Obama, which will not be positive to some swing voters in the states in the gulf. This is only indirectly Obama's fault, but I would agree with President Obama, that BP is also to blame for this as well. This is going to hurt Republicans because they have been strong advocates for this type of drilling. If there's a NIMBY response to offshore drilling, the Republicans will need to change their message about energy independence. I don't think the citizens who live on the coast on the Gulf of Mexico are going to be in favor of offshore drilling. I think there will be some shift in opinion in how we approach offshore drilling.

Is this the end of offshore drilling? No. I don't see energy firms willing to give up their oil rigs very easily. Also, these firms will also claim that there is a lot of untapped oil in the ocean that we haven't even found yet. The risk of environmental damage is not quite heavily weighted. However, I think that the government needs to hold these firms accountable for their actions. BP should not get off easy for destroying the wildlife and harming the seafood industry in the area. While I don't exactly agree with offshore drilling, we must continue to make it safer in the sense that when disaster occurs. The environmental impact should be minimal if offshore drilling is allowed to continue. It's not just because the wildlife needs to be protected, but also because it hurts other livelihoods that directly affect everyone.

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