Guest Post: Legitimization of the Tea Party

This post is by Benjamin Stonier, a Canadian blogger who is also a hockey and politics fan. Here he writes about the Tea Party from a non-American point of view. The way he explains is phenomenal. Ben has been a loyal reader, and a great friend. I hope you enjoy his take on the Tea Party Movement.

One of the very interesting responses to the Democrat Party's takeover of Congress and the White House during the 2006 and 2008 electoral cycles has been the emergence of the Tea Party phenomena amongst voters in the United States. As readers of this blog will know, the Tea Party isn't actually a political party, but a loose association of individuals who share openly the ideas that government is too big and oppressive, and especially, taxes far too much. I don't feel the need to delve into the extended history of the Tea Party - Mike's coverage of the movement has been more thorough than I could ever be - but I would like to go over their ascendancy from fringe movement to legitimate portion of the American right.

The Tea Party began as an embodiment of the concept that the government should reduce taxes and expenditure in order to restore power to the average American, and a popular patriotic symbol was chosen as the flagship of this movement - the Boston Tea Party of 1773. It is interesting, and apt, that these self-described patriots chose to name their movement after an event that was designed to lash out against legitimate government on a hypothetical and ultimately fictional basis while utilizing extreme racist overtones that precipitated a violent event. The two Tea Parties have shared interestingly similar paths of development, though of course, I hope the end result differs.

Today's Tea Party is not a movement by the Sons of Liberty (though, I suspect it is only widespread ignorance that has resulted in the disuse of this infinitely more patriotic name); rather, it is a political movement offered legitimacy through the reinforcement of both mainstream and underground media. Unlike the original Tea Party, this movement had little legitimacy to begin with, but has picked up speed and power through constant exposure until it reached the point of today, where self-identified Tea Party candidates are running for office in the states of Kentucky and Nevada, and both have a chance of victory.

As a Canadian, the concept of Fox News is repugnant to me, as is the sometimes liberal slant of MSNBC, and the crazy stuff I see on CNN from time to time. In Canada, we have three ways of getting news - your local news, CTV (Canadian Television Network), and CBC (the Canadian Broadcasting Company). The former provides local reports and often gets interesting tidbits from the Canadian and Associated Presses. CTV is privately owned, but it doesn't really push an agenda. Its news reporting is extremely unbiased; CBC is a publicly owned company that again provides mostly unbiased news. If I want to catch up on what's going on elsewhere in the world, I tend to read the BBC, which I consider the finest news producing company that exists today.

Fox News has pushed the Tea Party movement from the beginning, and the support of Fox News (and popular radio talkshow hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage) has been integral in people who identify with the Tea Party believing their thoughts are both logical and rational, and accepted by a majority of Americans. Unfortunately, none of this is true. Tea Party protests have been massive (the Tax Day events of the past two years), local and angry (various Democrat town halls run during the August 2009 recess), and sporadic (anti-health care rallies in Washington DC that Fox News claimed had somewhere around 10x the people who actually showed up). Because, for over a year, the only real source of information on the Tea Party was Fox News, it simply wasn't reported anywhere else. The global media doesn't trust Fox; so what it said didn't get distributed.

The rest of the world has gotten a very sudden awakening to the meaning of the Tea Party, and the meaning (to us) is clear. Despite Fox's attempts to obfuscate the obvious, it is clear the Tea Party is not a unified movement, but a forced alliance of people who are anti-Democrat, anti-government, racist, and believe in wild conspiracy theories (9/11 Truthers, Birthers, and so on). While the Tea Party's public face has attempted to emphasize the economic section of Tea Party doctrine, most of the images and soundbites I've heard show otherwise.

The fact of the matter is that the Tea Party has embraced people who believe Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is therefore constitutionally ineligible to be President; the Tea Party has embraced people who carry racist signs that call the President a monkey, coon, and nigger; the Tea Party has embraced people who have suggested the Civil Rights Acts were misguided; the Tea Party has embraced those who ignore economic sense and those who ignore greater example. These are fringe elements, 5-6% of people who have come together with people under a similar umbrella: the Government of the United States does not represent me, as it is illegitimate/too liberal/run by a black guy. It's not that each individual Tea Partier believes the same thing that each other Tea Partier believes; most Tea Partiers who are very pro-gun may not be racist, and may not believe at all that President Obama is illegitimate, but the political candidates for office seeking their approval appeal to their particular political view when few others dare to work for their votes. Because each fringe element brings a sliver of the vote to the table, cobbling these views together makes sense, if you don't care what others think of you.

The result of this strategy - enforcing the Tea Party movement as a seemingly united political force, and bringing out politicians who attempt to win votes by speaking to the various sects of the Tea Party to bring their votes into a fringe coalition, has led to their legitimization as a voting block via the the primary victories of two candidates who defeated the preferred Republican candidate for their region, both for US Senator. The first was Rand Paul (R-KY); the second was Sharron Angle (R-NV). Rand Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), proved his Tea Party credentials almost immediately. It turns out that Paul has suggested that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was misguided in places, and could be unconstitutional. Similarly, Paul has suggested the interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment does not apply to the children of illegal immigrants (which is a difficult position to defend, given that the clause states unequivocally that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States". Paul, like many members of the Tea Party, clings to an idealistic view of the United States Constitution, and tends to ignore portions of the Constitution that do not immediately suit his personal view, which I will elabourate on shortly.

Sharron Angle, of Nevada, is running against the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, in November, and her views are even further from the global Western norm, let alone that of the average American. Angle is against Medicare and Social Security, supporting the full privatization of both programs. Angle has voiced support for the War on Drugs and Prohibition, though her spokesperson later refuted any reference she may have made to criminalizing alcohol use. She doesn't believe the science behind global warming, considering it a conspiracy; she believes the Department of Education to be unconstitutional; she has interpreted the Second Amendment to suggest that people have the right to form their own militia. These views are the sorts of ideas that are considered straight-up crazy in every modernized, Western country save the United States, and it speaks very loudly about the Tea Party.

Believe it or not, most people who are familiar with political thought from outside of the USA are extremely familiar with the United States Constitution, its amendments, and the major court battles that have resulted from attempts to interpret that document. There are few scholars, even from the United Kingdom, France, or Canada, who aren't familiar with Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Barron v. Baltimore, the Civil Rights Cases, Bush v. Gore, and so on. Interpretation of the first document of the modern era of democracy is always important for the development of future constitutional discussion for the entire Western world, so when we see a group from the United States that comes to power that is in the midst of denying the legal precedents set in these momentous cases, the Western world reacts with shock.

The nature of the Tea Party, much like the event it was named after, is disingenuous. The rights of the Massachusetts colonists who felt so oppressed by the Tea Acts may have been somewhat repressed (and somewhat not, depending on how you prefer to argue), but the reaction was over the limit; a cowardly attempt to sabotage the people importing tea and blame it on Native American tribes, hoping for racist sentiments to cover their tracks. They weren't entirely proud of what they did, though since their disguise was quickly taken apart, they declared they were proud of their accomplishments; the legitimacy added to the event by the support of Boston politician Samuel Adams served to fuel other similar (and more violent) acts against the government, and it became a spark in the start of the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party continued to be a flagship event in the formation of the Revolution, and used as pro-Revolutionary propaganda during the Revolution, even though the Tea Acts were repealed well before the outbreak of violence in the Thirteen Colonies. The media has constantly and consistently presented the Boston Tea Party as a noble event, the brave stance a few noble patriots took against tyranny, when in reality, it was the reaction of cowardly Boston upperclass men who hated the fact that they had to pay more for tea in order to fulfill the taxation needed for the British Empire to protect their colonies from foreign aggression, men who didn't want to be associated with their acts until they found a famous patron.

Our Tea Party is based on people who have found a powerful patron for their fringe beliefs, beliefs which people have been told are wrong to have but still persist, from the harmless (believing in less taxes), to the concerning (those who openly carry firearms); from the bizarre (the President is from Kenya!) to the insulting (the President is a ----). These beliefs have been brought together in equally unacceptable candidates - candidates that were rejected by the Republican Party as too far from the mainstream to be supported by even the GOP. When we see the deliberate cognitive dissidence of those who fail to appreciate the value and consistent interpretation of the 14th Amendment while proclaiming to love the Constitution; those who demand the government get their hands off of Medicare; those who insist the government provide jobs without taxation, the world sees people who are hypocrites and fools.

The fact of the matter is that the Board of Education is constitutional via the Commerce Clause, as are the majority of gun regulations (as supported by the majority brief in McDonald v. Chicago). The 14th Amendment gives the government the duty to protect rights within the Constitution, and we should remember that the Constitution itself, via the 9th Amendment, informs us that it is not an extensive list of rights (such as the unenumerated right to privacy). The Tea Party is angry, and they don't really understand why. Their inability to appreciate the complexity of government and their eagerness to reduce it to a hatred of some poorly-defined way of life, or a constant discussion of "values" without definition, defines them as a group that can never be pleased. They've nominated Paul and Angle to run for Senate, and the two may win; however, they can never please the group that has selected them, with their strange beliefs, as those beliefs will have no traction in the Senate - they will be oddball Senators, with little power even within their own party, much as Ron Paul is seen in the House of Representatives.

The people who represent the Tea Party as heads of the various organizations, in the media, and are attempting to represent them in government are as mix-matched as their supposed ideals. The only consistent message is outrage at the way things are. There are no solutions set forward by the Tea Party. They use racism as both a secret weapon and as a ruse to escape greater analysis, much as the original Tea Partiers did. Their outrage was not collective until gathered under a powerful voice, be it Sam Adams or Fox News. And finally, they have people who champion them, as the Continental Congress did; as Sharron Angle and Rand Paul suggest to do.

As a member of the world, I humbly implore my southern neighbours to remind the Tea Party there is a reason their views are, at best, unorthodox - because they are unwelcome and antiquated ideals.

Do you have an interesting idea about politics or professional ice hockey that you'd like to share? If you'd like to guest post, please contact me with a topic and quick synopsis. For every guest post I receive between now and August 1 at 8am, I will donate $5 to the Blogathon cause on Blaghag.

Guest Post: Hockey in the South

This guest post is one that I really liked when I read it when it was initially posted on Alexis Whitman's blog. She is a friend that I met on Twitter, who is a big Pittsburgh Penguins fan (Yes I am equal opportunity). She blogs, and is a sports communications and management major at Asbury College in Kentucky!

I was sitting on my couch watching the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 6-0 drubbing of their rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the last game of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals when my Dad issued a question that had yet to cross my mind, “What are you going to do at school next year,” he said with a laugh. I had no idea what he was talking about. I had my plan – Asbury College. Wilmore, Kentucky. He must have been able to tell I had no idea what he was talking about and rephrased his question, “Alexis,” he said, “The Penguins aren’t going to be “in” Kentucky…”

How had this never crossed my mind? I wasn’t going to have FSN Pittsburgh – the Penguins’ flagship television station. I wouldn’t have Mike Lange and the Penguins’ radio station on the car radio. Wait. It wasn’t just the Penguins… I wouldn’t have hockey. Period.

I’d read all about how the NHL was trying to expand south of the Mason-Dixon Line, in those same articles I had read how they were failing, and most of the time, failing miserably. I was moving south of that very same Mason-Dixon Line. What was I thinking?

As fun as it would be, I couldn’t pick where to go to college based on my favorite NHL team. I loved Asbury; I was going to Asbury whether or not there was hockey in Kentucky. I’d just have to find a way to make it work. If there was hockey in Kentucky, I was going to find it.

The start of my first semester at Asbury was still the NHL off-season, and I was quite content following the Penguins training camp and learning about their new team members via their website. However, it was soon October, which meant something more to me than pumpkins and Halloween – it was hockey season.

I followed the Penguins over the internet, reading newspaper articles, and listening to the radio feed broadcast from their website, but I still missed hockey being relevant. It wasn’t like Kentucky was Timbuktu, this was North America after all, there had to be a hockey game for me to watch, a way for me to stay connected to the sport I loved… somewhere. It was time for the hunt to begin.

Was I the only person on this hunt? Were they people out there just like me? To find the answers to these questions I went where anyone with a question goes these days – the internet. I figured the appropriate route for this task was to throw my question out in to the wide world of Twitter.

“I've gotten laughter before, but not often. Usually it comes with something like the raise of an eyebrow, even if only figuratively. Hockey fans can be kind of treated as a curiosity - often times from people who have never seen a game,” said Matt Kozlowski, a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Durham, North Carolina, when I asked what responses he gets when he tells people he’s a hockey fan.

John Winters, a native of Connecticut, and current resident of Lexington said, “It feels like the days before the Internet. Hockey isn't at your fingertips, you have to actively search for it.” Amanda Mundy said, “…once I tell people I'm Canadian, I get the ‘oh, figures’ reaction to my hockey obsession.” Mundy, a Lexington resident, said, “Unlike basketball and football, you have to really reach out to find fellow fans…”
Twitter brought me the answer to my question – there were people just like me, not just in Kentucky, but all over the South.

These people, somewhat more experienced than I am at living life as a hockey fan south of the Mason-Dixon Line, sent suggestions my way - reliable internet sites that broadcast games, available television packages, and hockey blogs. They also reminded me that Columbus, OH and Nashville, TN (both home of NHL franchises) weren’t all that far away. It wasn’t someone on twitter, or on a blog, but a member of Asbury’s very own admissions staff that pointed me toward something called, “Midnight Hockey” at the University of Kentucky.

From the moment I first stepped inside The Lexington Ice Center, home of the University of Kentucky’s hockey team, I loved it. “Midnight Hockey,” as it is so fondly called on Asbury’s campus, wasn’t the NHL, but it was indeed hockey. I started going more and more often, and now, a hockey game at 12am is a regular weekend activity for me. It’s completely different than any hockey game I’ve ever experienced, and most nights I end up explaining referee’s calls and hockey rules to my fellow fans, but some of those games rank near the top of hockey games I’ve ever experienced live.

This year, I decided that I should embark on an activity that I had yet to experience – an NHL game away from the East Coast and “traditional hockey markets.” Columbus, Ohio was the chosen destination, and it just so happened that the Penguins were playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets in October. Columbus, a mere 3.5 hour drive from Lexington was amazing. The incredible Blue Jacket fans and staff reminded me just how much I missed attending NHL games back home. I even found a positive to the whole “untraditional market” thing. Cheap tickets.

When I receive emails and text messages about the awesome times my friends back home have at games, or see advertisement online for a game or event, but I can’t attend because I’m “in Kentucky,” I still feel a little left out. Sometime it is difficult to find a reliable broadcast of the game online, but if you look at it like a treasure hunt, well, it could be worse. Before coming to Kentucky, I didn’t do much more than sleep at 12am, now, I go to college hockey games. If I had stayed in Pennsylvania would I ever have experienced an NHL game outside of a “traditional hockey market?” Maybe not.

There was a time when I thought being a hockey fan south of the Mason-Dixon Line was about as bad as it got for a sports fan, but my views have changed. Being a hockey fan south of the Mason-Dixon Line will always be an adventure, sometimes successful, sometimes not, but always interesting. And, without a doubt, being a “hockey fan in Kentucky,” will bring experiences that being a “hockey fan in Pennsylvania,” never would have.

Do you have an interesting idea about politics or professional ice hockey that you'd like to share? If you'd like to guest post, please contact me with a topic and quick synopsis. For every guest post I receive between now and August 1 at 8am, I will donate $5 to the Blogathon cause on Blaghag.

Join the Blogathon! Write a Post!

My friend Jen McCreight at Blag Hag is holding a "blogathon". In 24 hours, she is posting 49 blog entries. She is taking donations for the Secular Student Alliance, which is a great organization for students who are atheist and non-theist.

So what does that mean for Politics and Pucks? Well, I'd like to also post some new material, but I'd like to open it up to the readers. I'll post new material, but I really wouldn't mind getting a variety of guest posts. Why am I doing this? Firstly, I want to enourage people to join the discussion of important ideas. Secondly, for each guest post on this site during blogathon, I will donate $5 to the blogathon. So if you do a guest post, there will be money going to a good cause. The only requirements for a guest post is to give me the topic ahead of time. The other stipulation is that if I am away from my computer, I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Happy Blogging!

President Obama on the View

Today, I did what would be unimaginable to most men: I watched yesterday's episode of ABC's The View. The guest for this show was President Barack Obama, who was making his third appearance on the program. While I did vote for, and mostly support President Obama, I think he said exactly what anyone would expect of him. I also think he answered questions a lot of pundits have been asking him to address. I think he also did it in a very personable manner. Mary McNamara in the LA Times said the following:

Yes, Barbara Walters is a serious journalist (and gamely came back to the show after having heart surgery to be part of the Obama visit), but what gave the women of "The View" their inside the Beltway cred in the first place was their ability to discuss the issues of the day the way ordinary Americans do, with a mixture of information, insight and argumentative blather. When you have the president, and you ask about joblessness and foreign policy, you're not going to get any of that. You're not even going to get a real answer, you're going to get the presidential message. That's what presidents do, which is why the presidential résumé tends to not include stints in stand-up or journalism or talk-show hosting.
While McNamara is right about this, I think the President was able to calm certain concerns of some Americans. Here's the part that stood out to me:
While I don't advocate watching The View, there's a number of reasons why certain pundits will not be happy. Firstly, he didn't do this on their show. The reasons why President Obama could be so open on The View is because it is a much more balanced show than many of the pundit shows. It's not hyper-partisan, nor is he in a position where he will be attacked. The pundits also value that he talk directly to their audience and not the liberal media where they toss President Obama softballs. To be honest, many of the questions he was asked were far from softballs, in my opinion.

So everything that Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and others complain about, did not happen here. Although, yes there is spin, you realize every President does that too. If anything, critics can see here that the President does agree with some of the things that conservatives do, but he did this in a way that was human. While President Obama is the radical leftist changing America to the Fox News audience, he is still an American citizen. While I don't agree with President Obama on everything, I still saw in this TV appearance that there is a human side to him. At the end of the day the President is a human being, and that is something that I think the far right, and sometimes the far left, tend to forget.

2010 SSA Con Recap Part I: Zoos, Ohio Driving, and Awards

Last weekend, I attended the 2010 Student Secular Alliance National Conference at Ohio State in Columbus, OH. It was a blast, and I'm going to tell you all about it in two parts. Also attending this conference from Purdue with me was Jennifer McCreight of Blag Hag fame, and Mark Webster.

So the first part of the weekend took place at the Columbus Zoo. This is the Zoo that Jack Hanna owned. For those who don't recognize that name, Jack Hanna is the zoo keeper that makes frequent appearances on David Letterman with animals. Unfortunately, he wasn't there the day we were.

I was very impressed with the Columbus Zoo. We were able to see a polar bear lying in the sun, which was weird. He looked dead, but I can assure you he wasn't because he did move his paw once. We saw bonobos playing with their young, which was really cool. So overall, the zoo itself was an awesome zoo.

As we all were leaving to go to OSU for the rest of the conference, there was a bit of a car issue. Jen and Mark drove down to Columbus with blogger Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist. As they pulled into the zoo, Hemant's car shut off. They were able to get the car to a parking spot, but were essentially stuck there unless they were able to get someone to get some help. Luckily, I have AAA, and was able to help Hemant get the car towed to a shop. Within an hour a tow truck came and picked up Hemant's car, and I decided to drive Hemant, Jen, and Mark, while the car was being fixed.

Before I continue this story, I need to mention one thing that you may not know about me. Ohio drivers are awful, and being someone from Ohio I am no different. I also drive an old Acura TL, so there's not the most legspace in the back. Jen has rode in my car with me before, and knew that I can be somewhat aggressive when I drive. Also, Jen is tall. On the other hand, Jen has never driven with me on a highway. So she was freaked out the whole time. We had to drive on I-270 to get to the Midas shop where the tow-truck was taking the car. Given I couldn't see the tow truck's break lights, and that he sped up and around cars on the highway, I had to keep up. Being the driver I am, I was able to maneuver my way around, while scaring the crap out of Jen in the process. So while she was freaked out for her life, Hemant started tickling her. It was really funny to watch this in my rear-view mirror.

Well the laughing stopped when we got to the Midas off of OH-710, because we found out the problem with Hemant's car was not cheap to fix. We then went to dinner at KFC and then I drove everyone down to OSU. When we arrived to OSU, the evening's proceedings began. The 2010 SSA Best awards were handed out: Jen, Mark, and I all accepted the 2010 Best Service Project Award for the Purdue Society of Non-Theists. That was very exciting, and then to meet all the other award winners was really cool too!

So that evening, we all finally got to check into our dorm room at OSU. We decided to chill out for a little bit, because it had been a long day for all of us. We decided to play poker, since Jen had just learned. We all realized that we didn't have poker chips. Hemant then had the idea to use Red Hots. We had a good game going, and I placed 3rd. Hemant placed 5th just like in the tourney he played in Vegas during the Amazing Meeting. Jen was 4th. Mark was 2nd.

That evening, I was also able to network a little bit. The group up at Minnesota and I went out for a drink and I really regret not applying there. I really like their group. They have a lot of great ideas, and I really hope we can draw off of them. They have a lot of social science students, but they find a happy medium to have a variety of different subjects for discussions and events. Among the Minnesota crowd I also met Henry who is also a huge Dead Kennedys fan. That was really cool, because I don't often meet many other fans of the Dead Kennedys in person.

By the end of the day Friday, I had met a lot of cool people from all over the country! You'll definitely read more about them in the next part(s). In order to break this up, I'm going to write this in a few parts. In the next part (which will be coming out soon) I will tell you about the rest of the conference, stay tuned!

My Next Tea Party Adventure

Republican Indiana State House of Representatives candidate Donn Brown is set to hold another community forum. On August 2 at 7pm, there will be a forum on Healthcare at the Tippecanoe County Library in downtown Lafayette. hosted by Brown's campaign. In attendance with him will be Mr. Thomas Webble, the founder of the Restore Government Ministry. Since you have to join Mr. Webble's website to find out more about him, here's what the press release says about him:

For over a decade Mr. Weddle served as the president of a
competitive Indiana public utility and a communications association defending the constitutional rights of competitive communications companies in Indiana.
Both Mr. Brown and Mr. Webble will take questions from the audience, and there very well could be more speakers.

Firstly, what makes Mr. Webble qualified to talk about Health Care? If Mr. Webble is the President of a public utility, there's no qualified reason for him to have expertise in health care. This might be wrong, because Mr. Webble claims to have a story with health he wants to tell, but details on his website are sparce. Although he has been an instructor for the Institute for the Constitution for 7 years, that may only give him the constitutional perspective. This disregards any policy considerations. It may have been more effective to get a doctor or a policymaker in the area.

Secondly, why now? The immigration forum held by Brown's campaign was very timely. The immigration policy of Arizona was ongoing in the court of public opinion. Right now, health care is being discussed, but it's not a timely issue. Yes, it's an issue on the ballot, but this discussion should have happened back in March, when the issue was in the center of national debate. Speaking of the national debate, it really seems like Mr. Brown has not talked much about the local issues, and is continually focused on national ones. He's only running for a state post, so you would think maybe he'd talk about local issues once in awhile. However, I digress.

I will be attending this forum, which will be my 5th Tea Party event (the other 4 events can be read here, here, here, and here). I'm sure this event will just continue to reinforce the misinformation that is out there on the healthcare bill. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm wary of what this forum will accomplish.

Put the Toledo Mud Hens Mascots in a Comic Book, Please!

I lived in Toledo, OH growing up. From time to time, I check in on the Toledo Mud Hens baseball team's website, just to see how the team is doing. When I was living in Toledo, I would go to games at old Ned Skelton stadium (I've yet to go to a game at Fifth-Third Field) with family and friends from time to time. I got to see a lot of big baseball names such as Tony Clark, John Rocker, and Albert Belle. I was looking at the site today, and saw that they've definitely added and updated some mascots. In total, the team has 7 mascots. The most iconic is Muddy the Mud Hen (pictured below), which has around since 1989.

Two of the newer mascots are Muddevious (pictured below), and Muddiva. The descriptions are essentially the same, so I'll just share Muddiva's bio:

Muddiva arrived via space egg, with cohort Muddevious, in the spring of 2007.

This dynamic (and demanding) damsel hits all the high notes when it comes to entertaining Mud Hens fans.

Muddiva is a sinister songstress who enjoys greeting her public at Fifth Third Field... and causing a little bit of trouble along the way.

Is it me or is he a cross of the Hamburgler, a professional wrestler, and a cartoon chicken?

It almost feels like there's a good versus evil theme going on at Fifth-Third Field, which is kind of interesting. I know minor league baseball is rife with hilarious and awkward things, but this idea has kind of a comic book feel to it. I think it would be awesome to read "Muddy vs. the Invading Space Mud Hens" or something to that effect. Maybe Muddy should save Toledo by hitting the invading space aliens over the center field wall, or would that shatter the O-I building? Maybe Jamie Farr will show up and wear dresses to try to scare the aliens away? In any event, I enjoy this mascot buffoonery, mostly because it kind of looks unique. However, I really think this would make for a hilarious comic book.

Happy 1st Year!

It's been 1 year since I started the blog Politics and Pucks. Firstly, I'd like to thank you for reading. I've really had a lot of fun putting this blog together, and I hope that you have enjoyed it.

Let's look back with my Top 10 Posts of the first year! I've highlighted my 10 most memorable blog posts.

1. Polling Results Reveal Tea Party Demographics (3/26/2010)
The most popular article in this blog's short history. It is a report on a March Quinnipiac poll that reveal much of the demographics of the Tea Party Movement.

2. I'm Very Unimpressed with the Tea Party (2/18/2010)
This was my first Tea Party experience. It was a very eye opening experience that I have referenced a lot. It was also my first encounter with Tea Party candidate Donn Brown.

3. Prof. Chapman Blog (11/2/2009)
There was a controversy regarding a Purdue librarian and an anti-LGBT blog he posted. Here's my thoughts on it.

4. The Unimpressive Tea Party Part 3: Tax Day Tea Party 2010 (4/17/2010)
My visit to the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party event in Lafayette, IN. This is just one of a few different events I've attended that involve the Tea Party Movement.

5. The Stanley Cup: An Ally to LGBT (6/23/2010)
Brent Sopel marched in the 2010 Chicago Pride parade with the Stanley Cup. I discuss the reasons why the NHL has seen an increased activism for LGBT causes.

6. Blue Jackets' Financial Issue with Nationwide Arena (11/8/2009)
An ongoing issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets has been the lease agreement on Nationwide Arena. This post attempts to look at the problem and proposed solutions.

7. Cincinnati Cyclones Honor a Local Bigot (1/29/2010)
This post was one that got the attention of the Creation Museum. Bill Cunningham, native Cincinnati neo-conservative pundit, had a bobble head night at a Cincinnati Cyclones game.

8. More on Sen. Coburn's Amendment (10/8/2009)
This post looks at an amendment 2631 that Sen. Coburn attached to HR 2847. This amendment attempted to remove Political Science from the National Science Foundation.

9. Purdue Review Critiques Political Science Class (2/12/2010)
The conservative newspaper at Purdue trashes Political Science, more specifically a class on women and politics.

10. 10th Amendment and Health Care Reform (3/2010)
The most commented on and most popular post on the blog, deals with an issue the Tea Party brings up with States rights. I evaluate how strong of an argument the 10th Amendment is when it comes to Health Care Reform.

Thank you for being a part of the first year, and hopefully there will be many more!

Winter Olympics Rivalry in Anaheim

Back in February, the USA and Canada played for the gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. Canada would win the gold in an OT thriller by a score of 3-2. Since NHL players play in this event, the NHL has a 2-week break. Not to mention, many teammates end up playing against each other. For example, Anaheim Ducks teammates Bobby Ryan (USA), and Ryan Getzlaf (Canada) were on the opposite sides for the Gold Medal game. At the 2010 NHL Awards Show in June, the world found out what it was like for the weeks following the Gold Medal game were like.

Canada, you have the gold medal now. Just wait until the 2014 Olympics, when the USA will find a way to beat you. Think about it, by then Brodeur will be retired.

(Thanks to Ben for the video)

A Network News Lesson

This summer, I've found a few fun webcomics that I've started to read. One of them is "Surviving the World". This webcomic features Dante Shepherd, who gives us lessons via his chalkboard. For the past 2 years, Shepherd has educated us on a variety of issues that effect every day life, and One of his lessons I thought would be appropriate for this website. Shepherd occasionally looks at issues of politics. This is one of his older webcomics, but I think it's still relevant.

He's right. Print media is always better than network news.

Guest Post: 10 Things US and Australian Politics Have in Common

In the first guest post of the weekend, Harold Hisona from BigPond discusses the differences between Australia and US politics. I'll be honest, before reading this I didn't know a whole lot about Australian politics, but now I'm somewhat intrigued. Enjoy!

There are a lot of distinctions in the political systems between the Australian government and the United States of America. These differences are clearly manifested in their constitution, election, legislation, party system and executive government or the head of state. In the first place, Australia is a constitutional monarchy, while the United States is a republic.

Nevertheless, both government systems between these two countries also have some things in common. Subsequently listed are ten things the US and Australian politics have in common.

1. Constitution -- both the United States of America and Australia utilize a written constitution. They both were also formed by a number of supreme states that handed over some of their influence to the central government. Moreover, they both are federations.

2. Election -- the election systems of both countries are similar in such a way that entails the election of one person in every district or electorate. Election of house representative members responsible in representing a particular electorate, senators to represent states, and a uniform number of senators in very state are also few of these election commonalities in both countries.

3. Executive government -- both political systems also have an executive government that carries out daily administrative tasks and the cabinet sessions are held secretly.

4. Legislature -- the same names for the Senate and House of Representatives and a bicameral system are utilized by both countries.

5. Legislative process -- both systems have a common legislative process, which denotes that all the bills should pass through certain stages, in which each stage requires a vote to find out whether or not the house supports a particular bill that is introduced by a parliament or congress member.

6. Party system -- both party systems of both countries entails two key parties ruling the legislature.

7. Federal systems -- both countries have federal systems which denote the federal and state governments. Federal Elections happen roughly every three years.

8. Independent judiciary -- this entails that both countries have independent judiciaries per se the High Court in Australia and Supreme Court in the United States of America. Both these judiciaries act as the final court of appeals.

9. House -- both the US and Australia have a House that is demarcated with electorate size established by the voting population.

10. Senate -- the Senate that each of these countries has an equally distributed number of senators per state, who are entitled with six years of service.

While these political elements happen to be common in both the US and Australian politics, it still does not mean that the two countries are totally the same. In fact, a number of differences in the political system of both countries are also manifested in pertinent studies. The point of this article is to let everyone know that even the two big countries in the world with different political structures have some things in common. The fact is, politics is always the same. The only difference is when one country tries to put in some modifications and processes which cannot be found in other countries’ political system.

I'm very open to guest posts. If you'd like to guest post, please contact me with a topic and quick synopsis. I will get back to you as soon as I can!

Heading to Ohio for the Weekend!

Tomorrow the annual national SSA Conference begins, and that means I'll be traveling to Columbus, OH. I'm super excited! I will be heading south to Cincinnati, OH for the night to see my family and a few friends. Then I will be in Columbus from Friday, July 23 until Monday, July 26. If you'd like to meet up, don't be afraid to DM me on Twitter, Formspring, or just email me. For those of you are not able to make the trip to Columbus, I want to assure you that there will still be new posts! Before I left, I had a few posts put together and will autopost. There will be a guest post or two, as well as some fun. The 1-year anniversary of this blog is on Monday, so look for that too. If you're going to the SSA Conference, I'll see you tomorrow and I can't wait to meet you. Otherwise, have a great weekend and hopefully you'll enjoy the upcoming entries!

Senator Graham's Approval of Elena Kagan

Today, Elena Kagan was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary committee by a vote of 13-6 (no different than the Sotomayor confirmation hearings). The next step in the process is a Senate vote which will take place in the near future. Although much of the Judiciary nomination process is ridiculous, there was a comments made by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), that made me a think a variety of different things.

Sen. Graham voted in favor of Kagan, while disagreeing with her. He does ramble on a little bit about it, but I think he brings up a few important points for people to consider.

Firstly, this is something that the rest of his Republican colleagues couldn't do. They all criticized her lack of legal experience, and again all voted no. At least this time, some of these Republicans decided to show up. Being an activist judge works whether you are conservative or liberal. So just because she is not pro-life, should not disqualify her for the position. Sen. Graham made it abundantly clear that he is pro-life, yet he thinks Elena Kagan is completely qualified for the position.

Secondly, Sen. Graham used the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers effectively in his closing remarks. While his Republican colleagues will not respond positively to him, Sen. Graham cited Alexander Hamilton's writings in Federalist No. 6 about Senate confirmations of judicial nominees. While I'm sure Sen. Graham's colleagues weren't listening, Graham mentions that you don't have to agree with a nominee, for that nominee to be a good judge. He felt that the nominee was qualified which is what he feels is constitutional duty.

The most important thing I think that Sen. Graham echoed was the ability to dissent should be a factor. Even if he disagrees, the government should still function. Sen. Graham is one of few Republicans who actually has not adopted the Tea Party. Granted Sen. Graham is not up for election until 2014, I think Graham represents something that many Republicans and Tea Party members have lost focus of: respect and compromise. For one, the Tea Party feels that compromise is wrong, and that working with people who disagree with you is evil. They feel that these Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) are traitors. Aptly, Sen. Graham has been labeled as such, and so have other moderates in the party.

Sen. Graham mentioned that he could sit and talk about who he would have nominated and who he wants on the court, but he understands that because the President is a Democrat, he doesn't get that luxury. He also seems to echo the thought that the Congress' Republicans have no will to compromise, and that this is immature. Opposition can be respectful, but I think Sen. Graham is trying to lead by example. He illustrated that it's okay to support something a Democrat has proposed.

Yes, I just praised a Republican. Despite what differences I have with Sen. Graham, I think what was said here is important, and I hope that the party can listen to him. He is the voice of reason in a party that has adopted populism as its voice. It's one thing to oppose the Obama administration, it's another to bring the government to a halt, at the expense of the American people. The court needs a 9th justice, and I applaud Lindsey Graham's courage to vote for Elena Kagan.

It's About Time Kovalchuk Signed!

Today, Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a deal with the New Jersey Devils. He is signed for 17 years and $150 million, on average that's nearly $8.8 million per year. There's a few things to think about with this signing:

1) Is the Salary Cap working? With very long term deals still around, there's argument that the salary cap is not working. Some argue that because the same deals still exist, nothing has changed. A friend of mine, Dave, will have some thoughts on that in an upcoming guest post.

2) Is New Jersey shooting themselves in the foot? With this 17-year deal, Kovalchuk is signed until he is 44 years old. There are not many players in the league that are still playing past the age of 40. Also, if the team wants to get rid of Kovalchuk, he will be difficult to dump. The New York Islanders fans know this all too well with Alexei Yashin and their current salary hog Rick DiPietro.

3) Free Agency can begin again! Some experts and fans have been saying that Kovalchuk has been holding up the rest of the market. Now that he has finally signed, the rest of the league can value their players accordingly. Now here's the problem. Now that Kovalchuk is asking for $8.8 million per year, what do you value other players at? Some are fearing that the players will overvalue themselves now.

For the record, Kolvalchuk has scored 40 or more goals in 5 of 9 NHL seasons. He's worth something, but this is a little too much money in the current salary cap situation. We'll see what happens. This could be a big point of contention for the next CBA, but for right now, it means that the Devils have limited cap space for years to come.

Evidence of Tea Party Racism

The other day I wrote about how the NAACP has made the claim that the Tea Party has racist elements. Almost in unison, the Tea Party Movement supporters have defended this. It is strange that the Tea Party is unified on a stance, and it's probably the first time I have heard them say something that's consistent. Some pundits have even said: "if we're so racist, prove it!" Well, here's some proof:

While not all of those signs deal with race, a very good portion of them do. Now if you're still not convinced, because you think those signs were effective, I've got something else you could watch. The following video is from a Tea Party protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man came to the protest with a confederate flag, and here's how he defended it:

Before you comment and tell me how this is a tactic for the left to take down the Tea Party Movement, let me say a few things. As much as I am not a big fan of what the Tea Party stands for, I'm not looking to destroy it. I might be liberal and disagree, but don't accuse me of trying to excite liberal voters by pointing out that there are racist elements in the Tea Party. I have also been to a handful of Tea Party events, and have seen or heard these elements. I am only confirming what I have seen. I see reasons for people to join the Tea Party, and it has attracted fringe individuals. If the Tea Party makes the point they are not racist, they would purge these elements.

Mike Richter and Good Environmental Economics

When I think of US Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Mike Richter, I usually don't think of him as a political activist. I usually recall his Stanley Cup run with the New York Rangers in 1994. I also think of his presence on Team USA, and the Silver Medal he helped win in 2002. Little did I know, that Richter was such a politically minded individual. He holds a degree in Ethics, Politics, & Economics from Yale, which he obtained in 2008. Since he finished his NHL career, Richter has become an activist for environmental causes.

Richter has been active in the BP Gulf spill cleanup. In an article on the other day, Richter said the following:

We have an opportunity here to use this as a wakeup call. We can do an awful lot -- we're not expecting to get off fossil fuels by the weekend, but we have to understand that we need to move in the right direction.
As someone who thinks that green energy and supplemental energy is needed, I am happy that Richter is active in this manner. This oil spill should be a signal for the country to realize that oil production is not the only resource in this country. Especially in the area of off-shore drilling we need to make sure that it is safe, and this disaster is the last one like it. It's destroying wildlife, and whole industries. The job losses are temporary, but those jobs will reappear with the development of green energy.

Richter also said the following:
'We have an opportunity here to use this as a wakeup call. We can do an awful lot -- we're not expecting to get off fossil fuels by the weekend, but we have to understand that we need to move in the right direction.'
He's right, the fact of the matter is that we are looking to get off of oil eventually. It will be a gradual change, that will be less painful that Republicans paint that picture to be. Right now we need to put the effort into research of green technology so we can be less dependent on oil.

Now, before you write me off as a "pot-smoking" hippie (which I am neither), let's talk about how this makes sense in economics. I would argue that going green is very economically responsible. If we keep drilling oil, natural gas and ignore alternative energy altogether, we will be investing into a long term disaster. It's a bad investment strategy. Any good investor will tell you that a strong portfolio has diversified investments. Additionally, a lot of the money for oil will continue to go to the Middle East and other OPEC producers. I know it would be nice if we didn't have to rely on a relatively unstable region of the world for oil production.

A more effective strategy, which I'm sure Mike Richter would agree with, is to diversify investment in energy production. By investing money now into alternative energy, we are ready for the day the oil dries up. Oil is not going to be available forever, the world will run out at some point. This is a win-win economic strategy for everyone.We become less dependent on others for oil, if we invest in this industry. Plus with the development of new energy, there will be new jobs. They aren't necessarily government jobs either, because there will eventually be private firms that will eventually take the charge. The way we work to oil independence is weaning ourselves off oil with a plan ready to make a transition. This isn't socialism, like Glenn Beck and the Tea Party might have you believe. This is scientific advancement coupled with good economic development.

The NHL, among other firms, have embraced the ideas of green technology. During the 2010 Winter Classic, the league attempted to be as green as possible. Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, believes that if the NHL can lead by example through its clubs and players, then fans will understand the issue better and follow their lead. The NHL has the most to lose in the case of climate change. For one, it's played on a surface of ice. I really appreciate the activism by the league to make sure that they take steps to ensure that the league can continue for years to come. Mike Richter was an American hero when I was a kid, and to me, he still is. Although he isn't making great kick saves, he's using his knowledge and visibility to help movement towards a cleaner environment and advocating economic responsibility for future generations.

Jared Boll Stays in Columbus

We're 13 days into Free Agency, and I finally have some Blue Jackets news to talk about! The Columbus Blue Jackets have re-signed Jared Boll to a 2 year, $1.45 million deal. After 3 years in the NHL, 24-year-old Boll was set to be an RFA, and was looking to go to arbitration. He will be making about $700,000 next season, which is a raise from the $550,000 he made last season. Last season, Boll scored 4 goals-3 assists-7 points with 149 PIMs. I think this contract makes sense for a number of reasons, and could indicate other intents. Firstly, Boll does not deserve a large salary, since he will be a 4th liner with an enforcer role. In the new NHL this type of player shouldn't make a lot of money, unless they can produce other stats outside PIMs.

So what about their inactivity in UFA world? Aren't they going to sign someone, outside of re-signing prospects? The Jackets, like everyone else, are waiting for Ilya Kovalchuk to sign somewhere. The Jackets need a forward and a defenseman, and there's a lot of players available right now, but the pricetags will be affected by where Kovalchuk lands. Conversely, the Blue Jackets may be content with what they have. The front office seems to be happy with the line-up and may be thinking that hiring Scott Arniel may have solved a lot of the problems. Which would mean they are going to stand put the rest of the summer. I am ok with this on one condition: there needs to be an injury contingency plan.

If the Jackets learned anything last season, it's that disaster strikes when Jan Hejda and Mike Commodore are hurt. The Jackets are not overly deep when it comes to defense. Also, the team really needs a puck-moving defenseman. If for any reason, an added defenseman would make the team deeper in their own end. The offense cannot do anything if the defense cannot move the puck out of their own zone. All I can say is, I think Scott Howson knows what he's doing, but I'm still scared that if Columbus gets hit hard with injuries, that it might be another bad year.

NAACP: The Tea Party is Racist

Today, the NAACP is set to reprimand the Tea Party for having racist elements. Tea Party memebers often claim that they are not a racist movement, and are a protest movement solely on higher taxes and government spending. While an element of this is true, it does seem like that the movement's members spend a lot of time trying to debunk this. For this time spent trying to debunk racist claims, I feel this indicates a race problem.

Having been to a few Tea Party events, this assessment is correct. Even candidates are saying these things. I don't think I've ever heard more racial slurs being made at one time, than I saw at the Lafayette Immigration Forum last month. Even Republican candidate Donn Brown mentioned that: "Native Americans should get off their reservations. They lost, and should get over it". Granted there isn't a large Native American population in the district he is running for, it's still not in good taste to say something like that. Also, when many of the comments at this forum were prefaced with "I'm not racist, but..." (or something to that degree) there's a likelihood of a racist comment being made. Just saying that, doesn't disqualify your statement as racist. It's all about the context of the statement, and most of the time the context that Tea Partiers tend to say it in is racist. Categorizing black welfare recipients as lazy is racist, and something that I have heard Tea Partiers say before. On the topic of welfare, the largest racial group receiving welfare is in fact whites. This misperception is due to stereotypes of poor minorities.

A third example of racism in the Tea Party movement is the adoption of the white-faced Socialism posters of President Obama.

Tea Partiers claim that there is nothing wrong, because it is a parody of the Joker from the film The Dark Knight. While I would consider this an effective photo from the lens of a Tea Partier, there's still a problem with the picture. Historically blackface and whiteface have racist contexts. It was a way to expose and cement racist ideals in the early days of film. black characters would put on black-face to make them appear darker, to accentuate the point. In the case of whiteface, black characters would wear it to appear white or lighter skinned. This practice was ended in film by the 1960s. While I'm pretty sure that initially no one thought about the context of blackface on black characters in film, but now that they know about it, they still use this image. I see this image as pretty offensive and inconsiderate.

What the NAACP is trying to do is ask the movement to do is to purge the racist elements from the movement. I cannot see this happening, mostly because the movement does not have a clear chain of command. Also, they feel the NAACP has no legitimacy. The Tea Party and Fox News are trying to fight back, using race, by claiming that the Black Panthers caused voter intimidation in the 2008 election. Not only do I question the timing of Fox News' reporting on the issue, but how it frames race relations in this country. While racism does still exist on the left side of American politics, it's not in good taste to fight racism with more racism. Calling the left hypocrites on the basis that racism exists there too, is not proving anything. Yes, I do think its awful that the NAACP sometimes does not call out racists on the left. However, I do think this charge of racism against the Tea Party is warranted. Although occasionally inconsistent, the purpose that the NAACP serves is one that I support, and is a necessary one. I did qualify that statement, but the fact of the matter is that race is the issue at hand in this blog entry.

So what can we learn here? Americans are not post-racial. Even on the left there are race problems, however this does not disqualify the fact that you can dismiss race by qualifying statements. Even if Martin Luther King, Jr. would possibly have supported policy advocated by the Tea Party, he would not have favored racism. I know you can't entirely look at the Tea Party's policy as rational, however, this does not give the Tea Party free reign to be racist themselves. The Tea Partiers will say that it is their constitutional right to say what they want, under the first amendment. While this may be true, I worry more about the reprocussions and policy stances taking due to this type of speech by the Tea Party movement. This has been an issue that has been defended in the Supreme Court.

If the Tea Party is looking to be post-racial they would consider purging the racist fringe elements. However, since they don't view themselves as a racist group as a whole, nothing will happen. Some Tea Partiers will claim that there may be a "few bad apples" and still do nothing about it, but suggest it's only out of anger. Not only does this continue to confirm that the Tea Party is exclusionary, but also unwilling to recognize there is any errancy in the Tea Party movement. Spending time to defend racism, implies racism is present in the movement. It's one thing to be angry, it's another to use slurs to prove a point that should not have anything to do with race.

Local Paper Recognizes P&P as Blog of the Week

Just thought I'd pass along a quick note of shameless self-promotion, I'd like to share some exciting news with you all. The Lafayette Journal and Courier has highlighted this blog, Politics and Pucks, as the local blog of the week. This is very exciting, and I want to say thank you to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. Also, I'd like to say a big hello and welcome to new readers, who are finding this site through the newspaper. I hope you enjoy the blog.

Because of new readers, I'd like to let this thread be an introductory one. I invite all readers (new and old) to introduce themselves. I'll add a fun discussion topic: what is your favorite movie and why? Mine is The Big Lebowski, because it is a movie that is timeless and filled with great comedic performances by every actor and actress.

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and introduce yourself!

Larry King Set to Retire in the Fall

Larry King announced about 2 weeks ago, that he will be retiring from the show Larry King Live this fall. King, who is 76, has been doing his show for 25 years, and is one of kind. There are very few shows on cable news where there is discussion like on this show. King usually doesn't usually advocate certain positions overtly, like many other interview shows on cable news are apt to do. King cites that he would like more time to be able to go to his kids' little league baseball games, and time with his family. He also insists that he is not done in his TV career. There are plans for King to do CNN specials in the future.

Although the show was originally a very good interview show, more recently it had become a little more difficult to watch. I partly think it was because Larry King just was not as popular, a loss of interest and appeal, and even the choice of guests on the show. Sometimes, I wondered if Larry was prepared or knew what to expect in some of these interviews. Let me illustrate what I'm talking about with an example, that Phil showed me once:

Larry King did get amazing people to interview, such as Bill Clinton and Vladamir Putin. He also had a lot of positive access to celebrities, and most of the time, this yielded great and entertaining interviews. Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, and others came on the show and discussed their lives and world with Larry King. It was at one point, it was must see TV. Also, it usually appeared that Larry was enjoying himself, even if it wasn't always apparent.

Larry King will definitely be missed, but I think it's okay. Larry has had a great career, and he shouldn't be ashamed of it. Many celebrities have been saying thank you to Larry King, and appreciate the role he plays. I think a lot of people will overlook the recent years, in favor of his better interviews. I also think the role that King will assume when he leaves the show will, I think, this new role will be much more appropriate one for him now. In conclusion, thank you Larry King! You'll be missed, but we all look forward to your new endeavors.

Nikolai Zherdev and why the NHL > KHL

This evening I learned that former Blue Jackets right wing, Nikolai Zherdev, is back in the NHL. He signed a 1-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Last season, Zherdev played with Atlant Moscow Oblast in the KHL. Zherdev's statistics were 13 goals-26 assists-39 points in 52 games, which was a below average year for him. To be honest, he probably will fit fine in the Laviolette system. He never really got along with the coaching staff in Columbus, and he needed to move on. He eventually left the NHL, because the New York Rangers would not honor his arbitration filing.

On another note, this to me is an example of why the NHL is the best league in the world. Not only are contracts guaranteed, it attracts the best players in the world. Even if some of the NHLers leave for Europe, many are often rumored looking for a way back into the NHL. This leaves me to think that the deals the players take in Russia and Europe are just not nearly worth it. Ray Emery, who left Ottawa under intense scrutiny, said that the level of play in the KHL would be more competitive with the AHL. Although I don't watch enough KHL hockey to know whether this is true, the fact that players come back to North America is telling enough for me.

SSA National Conference 2010 in 2 weeks!

In 2 weeks, I will be traveling to Ohio State University (I refuse to use the "the") Columbus, OH for the Student Secular Alliance National Conference. I am really excited for this opportunity, considering I am going to be one, if not the only, current member of the Purdue Society of Non-Theists that will be there. We won the award for Best Service Project" and I will be proud to accept it on behalf of the Society of Non-theists.

I'm also really looking forward to the speakers at the conference. Some of them I have heard before and I'm excited to re-connect with including: Jon Weyer and Greta Christina. Another speaker that I am really looking forward to hearing and meeting is Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta. I really enjoy his insight and perspective on atheism, and unfortunately missed him when he was here at Purdue in March 2009. Also, Jesse Galef will be there! I'm really excited to hear that close friend and blogger, Jennifer McCreight will be speaking on "Boobquake". I took part in the events here at Purdue, and I'm excited hear what she has to say. There are many other speakers, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What I'm looking forward to most is the ability to network among students on other campuses. I'm really looking forward to meet other active atheists on other campuses. Also as someone who has been blogging for about the past year, I'm curious to put some faces to names I have seen on the blogosphere. Because this blog is linked to Jen's blog, I can imagine there will be people there who have never met me who read or have read this blog. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the event, and connecting with the SSA community! If you're going, I'll see you there!

Elena Kagan is Asked About Twilight

Last week, US Solicitor General Elena Kagan had her Senate Confirmation hearings for her consideration as a Supreme Court Justice. She faced questions that she couldn't either answer because of her position, or avoided altogether. Well, we know that these hearings are long an grueling, and occasionally there's a moment of comedy. Well, Kagan was asked about one of the most "difficult" cases in American history.

Yes, she was really asked about her position on Twilight's Team Edward or Team Jacob. It's a really good thing that Edward and Jacob haven't sued any vampires or werewolves over Bella. The precedents in that case would be too much and too stupid to handle on so many levels. Thank goodness it's only fiction!

Guest Post: Top 10 “Better Know a District” Moments

This guest post was one that I'm pretty excited about. I was approached by Emily Goll, a blogger on staff at My Dog Ate My Blog. This should be a fun entry and I hope you enjoy it!

Top 10 “Better Know a District” Moments

If you're a fan of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, you've obviously seen Colbert's famous “Better Know a District” segments. We've compiled a list of the top ten “Better Know a District” moments from the show in order to help you get your Stephen Colbert fix in a fast and easy way.

1. District of Columbia – Eleanor Holmes Norton

Colbert interviews Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia. Since it isn’t technically a state, Colbert tries to convince Norton that her congressional district is not a part of the United States of America.

2. California’s 27th – Brad Sherman

In his interview Stephen Colbert, Brad Sherman feigns ignorance to the presence of a strong pornography industry in California’s 27th congressional district. This is one of the few segments where the congressional representative seems to be in on the joke.

3. California’s 50th – Randy “Duke” Cunningham

The Better Know a District series changes forever when Colbert proclaims that California’s 50th is “dead” to him due to Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s bribe taking, reducing the grand total of districts 434 rather than 435. Colbert reprimands the district for not “reaching out” to Cunningham in his “time of need.”

4. Georgia’s 1st – Jack Kingston

The very first of the 434 part series, this interview with Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia covers a variety of topics, such as Kingston’s “African” heritage, Seinfeld, and Jamie Foxx. Colbert unveils “The Big Board” for the first time.

5. Texas’s 22nd – Tom DeLay

Colbert hosts a fake interview with Tom DeLay by splicing together interview segments from three different networks. The result is a hilarious series of out of context statements by the retired congressman, in which he admits to some shocking hobbies.

6. Delaware – Mike Castle

In his interview with Representative Mike Castle of Delaware, Colbert tests the congressman’s views on the sanctity of marriage by announcing his desire to marry a chicken. Castle doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but seems to be open to the possibility.

7. Wyoming – Cynthia Lummis

The whole of Wyoming is contained in one congressional district, represented by Cynthia Lummis. Colbert asks her about the cougar population, which seems to be particularly high in Lummis’ office.

8. Colorado’s 1st – Diana DeGette

Representative Diana DeGette from Colorado doesn’t support women running for president, though she may have unwittingly endorsed Condoleezza Rice.

9. Washington’s 2nd – Brian Baird

Since Representative Brian Baird has a background in clinical psychology, Colbert acts out the part of a therapist, helping Baird through his various anger issues and addiction problems. Baird learns how to talk out his issues with sock puppets.

10. Ohio’s 18th – Zack Space

Colbert coerces Democrat Zack Space into admitting that he is secretly a Republican because of his seemingly conservative stances on several issues. Both concede that this could be an issue for Space’s prospects in the upcoming caucus.

This guest post is written by Chelsea Kern. She covers online degrees for Guide to Online Schools and is a writer for My Dog Ate My Blog.

Bob Probert will be missed

Yesterday was a sad day in the hockey world. Bob Probert, a former-NHL enforcer, passed away at the age of 45. In his NHL career Probert was known as a fighter, and spent 3300 minutes in the penalty box. Probert's NHL debut was with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1987-88 season. He quickly gained a reputation to be a bruiser. He played alongside Joey Kocur, and together they became nicknamed the "blood brothers".

Although his on-ice reputation was feared, his early off-ice reputation was not the best. He was known to be a big trouble-maker. In 1989, Probert was arrested for cocaine possesion, and in 1994 for driving a motorcycle drunk. The NHL suspended Probert after his 1994 arrest, and the suspension was lifted following his jail sentence. Following the jail sentence Probert would return to the NHL and sign with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1995. Probert also worked hard to reform himself, checking into rehab in 2003, among other times in his life. Probert played the rest of his career for the Blackhawks, and finally retired in 2002.

After his career he made many appearances at hockey events. Probert, was an announcer for a short time with the Blackhawks. He made an appearance at the number retirement ceremony of the great Steve Yzerman. To many of his colleagues he was a close friend, and many others.

This death is even more sad to me, because Bob Probert played in the first hockey game I went to: the 1995 Western Conference Finals Game 4 between the Red Wings and Blackhawks. I remember Probert as a fighter, and because I was too young to pay attention to off-ice events I don't remember a lot of his off-ice antics. The on-ice roll he served is a dying art, but is still practiced by Derek Boogard and Jody Shelley. It is safe to say that Bob Probert will be missed, and will always be remembered as an enforcer you always wanted on your side.

Society of Non-Theists win 2010 SSA Award!

Today the SSA has announced their 2010 awards. I'm pleased to say that the Purdue Non-Theists have won the "Best Service Project" award for our work with the Send an Atheist to Church event and our community service efforts earlier in the year. Here's the description of the rationale for the award from The Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta:

The group partook in a number of community service efforts, including supporting a local food bank, cleaning up trash, and raising money to send an atheist to church. For the food bank, the Society of Non-Theists collected nearly 100 pounds of food as part of the university’s fall food drive. Then, the group cleaned up roughly 20 bags of trash as part of beautifying the grounds around campus.

In addition, the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue raised $360 to send an atheist to church… and all the proceeds were donated to a local food bank. Purdue’s efforts not only led to the raising of $360 and visiting of twelve churches; they also received local media coverage.
In winning this award the club will receive $300. Being a member of this club, I'm extremely excited about this award. We worked hard and really had a lot of fun doing these events. I was a lot more involved with the Send an Atheist to Church event. This event was very positively recieved on campus, even amongst the religious groups. The church I attended was very kind and have become friends with some of the members of the church following that event! You can read about my experience here.

This is an accomplishment that would have not been possible without some help, so let me give the credit where credit is due. Firstly, thank you to the Secular Student Alliance (SSA) for the award. SSA is a great organization and looks to help clubs like Purdue's Society of Non-Theists with resources and some funding. Also, the organization looks to foster and maintain secular communities. I'm excited to attend the SSA annual conference later this month representing the Purdue Non-Theists. Secondly, the outgoing leadership: Jen McCreight, Monya Anderson, and Lauren Stuart deserve a lot of credit for planning and running the event. (Washington and Oregon, you are getting great leaders!) Bryan Ehrlich, Amanda Jefferies, and I will have big shoes to fill, but we're confident that we will be able to continue the club's success. I am proud and honored to be a part of the leadership of this club. Lastly, and most important, thank you to Society of Non-Theists club members. Not only do we all create a very welcoming environment, a number of us are also very active in the atheist community locally and online. Because the list of members would be way too long to list everyone individually, I just want to say thank you to everyone, and congratulations, because this is something we all can celebrate. Not only does this award make us look good, but it also reflects very positively on atheists in the Greater Lafayette, IN area, as well as Purdue University. We all know, and now can easier prove that we can be good without God.

Jen's take on the award

The Free Agent Frenzy Semi-Live Blog and Discussion

Good afternoon, and welcome to my semi-live blog of the opening of the NHL Free Agency season. I will be with you on and off until about 4pm EST. I want to just post thoughts on trades as I find out about them. You can tweet me, or comment on the post as we go. I hope this will be fun time for everyone. Now let's begin!

12:07pm- Marty Biron has signed a 2-year deal, $2.15 million conctract with the New York Rangers. The great news is he is only moving across town (he played with the Islanders last year). I think this will be extremely helpful for Henrik Lundqvist to have a veteran for a backup. I like this move a lot.

12:18pm- Although this happened yesterday, it might not be a bad thing to add. Dan Hinote will be joining the Blue Jackets coaching staff! There seems to be a theme of leadership this off-season with the Blue Jackets.

12:21pm- Mike Van Ryn announced yesterday, that he will miss the 2010-11 season due to a knee injury that requires further rehab and surgery. Van Ryn missed last season as well with the same injury, and is currently with the Maple Leafs.

12:25pm- Sergei Gonchar to Ottawa for $16.5 Million over 3 years. That hurts Pittsburgh a lot, but I think it moves Ottawa in the right direction. Ottawa bringing in experience is not a bad call. I do think he might be a bit old for a 3 year contract.

12:48pm- Alex Tanguay goes to Calgary for 1 year $1.07 million. Not sure what to think of this one yet.

1:07pnm- Ben, from the podcast "McGuire is Terrible", just tweeted me. The Flyers have acquired Andrej Meszaros and re-signed Braydon Coburn. Meszaros is young, and adds even more depth to a very defensive Flyers squad.

1:18pm- Martin St. Louis re-signs for 4 years with the Lightning. Great move for Tampa!

1:31pm- Alex Auld signs with the Habs. This makes Carey Price the starter? So I think Dan Ellis is not in the cards. Although if the Habs still want Ellis, they would need to deal off Price. It's a tough call if I'm the GM.

1:35pm- Colby Armstrong to Toronto. Not a terrible fit.

1:39pm- Antero Niittymaki goes to San Jose $4 million over 2 years. Will they want a second goaltender?

1:51pm- Manny Malhotra to Vancouver for 3 years, $7.5 million, and a no trade clause. Vancouver will benefit a lot from Malhotra, but I think they over-paid.

2:24pm- Another former Blue Jacket has been signed. Jody Shelley is now playing for the Flyers. He signed for 3 years, $3.3 million. As if they needed more physical play.

2:36pm- Dan Ellis to Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay finally gets its first starting goaltender in over 5 years.

2:38pm- Derrick Boogard to NY Rangers, replaces Jody Shelley's physicality.

2:45pm- Paul Martin signs 5 years, $25 Million with the Penguins. That patches the hole that was left by Sergei Gonchar.

3:34pm- Ray Whitney to Phoenix for 2 years, $6 million. He still has something to give, and he'll be playing with Shane Doan.

3:43pm- Montreal re-signs their AHL goaltender, Curtis Sandford. Does that put Price on the tradeblock?

3:58pm- Henrik Tallinder sings with New Jersey. That will fill the hole left by Paul Martin.

It's just a little after 4 now, so I'm going to wrap up there, but I'm sure I'll have more to say as we move forward. Thanks for reading!

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