That’s enough singing for now, lads… looks like there’s dirty work afoot.

Just when I hoped our elected leaders Representatives could focus on something important, I found this article in The Washington Times. Since many Republicans in Congress seem to forget that we’re in an international war with guns and bullets and bombs, we’re also in a culture war with words and breasts and weddings. Trying to perpetuate the Federal Marriage Amendment, the House of Representatives is voting on the FMA today.

The Republican leadership wants us to ignore this logic:

“This amendment has zero chance of passage,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. “Even if it did, it wouldn’t pass in the Senate. It is another waste of time while the budget is not attended to … the highway bill is not attended to, the energy bill is not attended to.”

And focus on this instead:

“For too long, Congress has stood idly by … and the time has come for Congress to reassert itself,” Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that this step is being forced on us by the courts, but that is exactly what is happening. … The only way to protect marriage is with a constitutional amendment.”

“The time has come for Congress to reassert itself.” I know Rep. DeLay uses that as an indication that Congress needs to wrestle the Constitution (and the culture) from the Judiciary, but I also read the “daddy complex” that possesses the Bush Administration and the overall Republican leadership. The next new hit sitcom, probably airing on Fox News Infotainment, will be Congress Knows Best.

Of course, I don’t mean to paint everyone who supports the Republican Party as an evil person who hates anyone who falls into the “Not Like Me” category of “Those People”. There are rational conservatives who understand that conservative beliefs don’t require being a minion for the party line. Consider:

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican facing a re-election challenge, plans to vote against the measure. He feels it unnecessary to amend the Constitution to protect marriage but says his district is closely divided on the issue.

“I don’t win votes either way on this issue,” he said. “I just find it hard to understand why we are doing this so late [in the year]. It seems so political to me, and so divisive.”

Also, consider this argument by California Republican Rep. Christopher Cox (it’s from an opinion piece from The Wall Street Journal):

“For Republicans, who believe in federalism, the [amendment] is an uncomfortable fit,” he wrote. “Republicans have not shied from even the unpopular exercise of federal power over the states when it has been warranted. … But when it is not warranted, neither should we succumb to the temptation to federalize what the states have handled well for centuries.”

That’s the most spot on argument against the FMA and what Congress is attempting right now. Believe whatever you want about same-sex marriage, but understand that a constitutional amendment is not the conservative response. Not only does the FMA seek to ingratiate discrimination into our most important document, it seeks to further extend the federal government’s power over Americans. We need to move on as a nation. There are legitimate issues facing us and this isn’t one of them.

My final thought on this (for now):

“This week the House will begin the process to protect marriage in America,” Mr. DeLay said. “The American people … need to know where their representatives stand.”

On your last point, Rep. DeLay, we’ve never been more in agreement. It’s a shame you won’t appreciate that I will cast my vote against my Representative if when he votes for the FMA.

Does he get food stamps, too?

From The Washington Post:

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos acknowledged publicly today that he is willing to strike a deal with Major League Baseball to allow the Montreal Expos to move to Washington if certain conditions are met.

“Those conditions are the preservation of the franchise, the protection of the asset and the safety of the revenue stream,” Angelos said this morning. “If those ingredients are present, an agreement can be struck.”

How does he intend to accomplish this, we might ask. A logical question. Will it be through the incompetent iron fist with which he’s run the Orioles for more than a decade? What about protecting the asset? Wearing that Orioles uniform is enough, I guess, since Angelos doesn’t seem to bother with who is wearing that uniform. Will it be by signing Barry Bonds, as Orioles fans amusingly seem to propose every off-season? And the safety of the revenue stream? That sounds a lot like the crazy folks who believe the Federal Government can’t decrease taxes because then it won’t generate enough revenue to cover expenses. Operating a business isn’t only about the revenue side of the income statement. Incurring costs in a prudent manner also makes sense. I assume the Orioles are a business, which means that it’s not entitled to a minimum revenue stream from the residents of Washington (and Baltimore).

The solution is simple: put a good team on the field, with a good atmosphere and reward fan loyalty with a commitment to winning from ownership/management. What a concept… (Are you listening, Dan Snyder?)

That’s too easy a solution, of course. Consider the likely outcome:

Major League Baseball President Robert A. DuPuy is scheduled to meet with Angelos today to resume discussions on financial compensation for the Orioles. DuPuy and Angelos, who met for several hours on Friday, are expected to discuss a regional sports network that would televise both the Orioles and the Washington team’s games and be owned by both franchises. Under the proposed discussions, the Orioles would receive the greater share of revenue, according to baseball sources familiar with the proposed package.

Baseball also is believed to be proposing that it will guarantee the amount of annual revenue that the Orioles earn, as well as the team’s value, according to two sources familiar with the talks. Under the proposal, Major League Baseball would make up any shortfall if the Orioles’ annual revenue falls below an agreed upon threshold, according to sources.

There’s a term for this: greenmail. We don’t look fondly upon the corporate thieves who mastered the art in the 80’s, so why should Major League Baseball encourage it now? The worst part of this debacle is that it encourages Peter Angelos to continue his Napolean complex, feeling like he runs the most important franchise in the most important city and that fans should feel honored to have the privilege of rooting for the Orioles. (Are you listening, Dan Snyder? You have the first two, but you need some serious reflection on the privilege thing. Your equation is reversed.)

Those of us in the D.C. area know that we’re not Baltimore residents. We want and deserve our own team. (I liberally use the term “we” and “our” when I mean to imply that I want the Expos to move to D.C. so that the Phillies will play here 9 or 10 times every summer. But I’ll still go see the Expos Senators because Scott Rolen will come here, even though the right team traded him away like a moron ripping up the winning lottery ticket because it was only $35 million instead of $75 million. Not that I’m still bitter or anything foolish like that.)

Since this seems like an inevitability now, I’ll close with the obvious: for those of you who support one of the other 28 teams in Major League Baseball, enjoy paying your corporate welfare higher ticket prices because your team’s owner is about to bow down before a bully. It probably won’t matter to fans of the Evil Empire&#153 New York Yankees, but it might to the fans in Cincinnati and St. Louis, where baseball is more religion than business. I’m just saying…

I’m stuck in the sand; give me the wedge.

From The New York Times:

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that “liberals” seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled “banned” and of a gay marriage proposal labeled “allowed.” A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: “This will be Arkansas if you don’t vote.” A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

Here’s the Republican National Party’s explanation:

In an e-mail message, Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, confirmed that the party had sent the mailings.

“When the Massachusetts Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue,” Ms. Iverson said. “These same activist judges also want to remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance.”

I definitely read the “We made a judgment error, we shouldn’t have sent that” in her statement. But, really, we all need to run for the hills and thank God that the Republicans are looking out for us. Consider Ake Green:

Conservative Christian political commentators often cite the case of Ake Green, a minister in Sweden who was jailed in June for a month for a sermon denouncing gays as sinful.

Not possible here? Think again. We have experts in America who can offer definitive proof that we’re in grave danger:

But Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, argued, “We have the First Amendment in this country which should protect churches, but there is no question that this is where some people want to go, that reading from the Bible could be hate speech.”

Some people want polygamy to be acceptable in America but we’re not about to embrace that. The First Amendment he speaks so proudly of also holds the same rights for people who don’t go to church and who don’t believe that gay people are bad. Just a thought.

As for Mr. Land, he does offer this:

Still, Mr. Land questioned the assertion that Democrats might ban the whole Bible. “I wouldn’t say it,” he said. “I would think that is probably stretching it a bit far.”


In this mailing, the Republican National Committee sends the “Compassionate Conservative” family value message that it’s ok to lie as long as it’s about “them liberals and queers and commies and faggots and activist judges”. And fear? Yep, that’s a good family value, too. We have to protect ourselves from them.

What outcry would we hear if Democrats mailed something like this? But President Bush didn’t send this, so he’s clean, right? Plausible deniability. Wait, let it have its effect, then denounce it by saying you had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it and find it diabolical. Sorta like the anti-Kerry Swift Boat commercials, no? Pitiful.

I bet CIA was the information source indicating that liberals want to ban the Bible. No wonder the Republicans were so determined to believe it and act on it.

Two Beats and A Push

With all these buttons, there's only one worth pushing.With the recent proliferation of poker blogs, it’s become chic to write about card playing exploits. I’m not too worried that it would be boring, but I don’t want to get into the minutiae of how I played different hands of cards. Right now, that feels like a tedious exercise in writing. I want to discuss experience rather than do a travelogue through different hands of cards.

I mention this because Danielle and I went to Buffalo last weekend, ostensibly to visit her parents for their anniversary and to go to a Blue Jays game in Toronto. The real reason was different. We had to gamble.

We played some cards, we threw down some money, most of us walked away with more than we began with, and we had a grand time. Even me, the big loser who left Casino Niagara down five Canadian dollars (approx. 38 cents American). I could delve into details about this hand or that hand, but that’s not necessary. My adventure is summed neatly into a three-hand stretch of Blackjack. I pulled a 20, a 19, and 20. I lost the first two hands and pushed on the third. That was my luck for the night. Two beats and a push.

The more interesting adventure for the evening, among too many tender adventures to recount, was me and my identification. Somehow, despite my 31 years, people assume I’m lying about my age, trying to sneak in to casinos and bars and R-rated movies. Ignore my driver’s license, credit cards, and passport, they’re right to card me. I’m faking it because I’m really a 12-year-old boy.

After we ate dinner, I walked to the security guard at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, knowing that this wouldn’t be as easy as it should be. Looking back at my first college ID, I know what an 18-year-old me looks like. I do not look 18 anymore. (Remember, this is Canada. The legal age is 19.) Yet, a determined security guard will be a star, even when a preponderance of evidence disproves him.

As he scanned my passport, I knew I was in trouble. He gave the picture and date his best hairy eyeball, knowing that it had to be a fake. Hoping to avoid prolonging this nonsense longer, I offered that I have my driver’s license. Miraculously, the information matches on both. A shocking revelation, I realize, but I’m smart. He can’t trip me up. Except he does because he asks me to sign a piece of paper. There are no words on this paper, just two columns of boxes. As I sign it, I realize he’s going to verify my signature against my passport. I know I’m fucked because my signature has changed evolved in the last six years. I envision not being let in and having to sit in the lobby while everyone else gambles the night away. Bastards.

“Can I see that driver’s license,” he asks. I don’t say that I offered it minutes ago as I hand it over. Because I’m frustrated, I don’t think to point out that all of the credit cards in my wallet have the same “new and improved” signature. I wait for him to understand his mistake and offer an apology. Hell, even a smile would suffice. I get the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny&#153 instead. He sticks my license under the scanner that somehow registers its authenticity. It passes. Isn’t technology sweet?

He unhooks the security rope that stands between me and Blackjack. His look says “I know you’re lying about your age but I can’t prove it. Know that I’m on to you.” I don’t hate him as I walk past, though I do wish he was smarter. Meanwhile, my IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER is standing at the casino entrance, waiting for me because he skated through his security checkpoint with barely a glance. Damnit!

We don’t drop a single loonie on a table at Fallsview, but we are there long enough to see a very drunk guy win $2,500 at a slot machine. As the attendant paid out his winnings, he showed her a picture of his grandchildren and told her that they were “going to get new suits”. We can’t find a good table so we drive to Casino Niagara, which turned out to be a prosperous and fun move.

Going into Casino Niagara, I plan for the inevitable, but I start with my driver’s license instead of my passport. My brother and Danielle are in front of me, so I assume I should have no problem once he passes through. When I get to the front, the security guard verifies my driver’s license in the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny&#153, but I give her some slack and assume it’s because my license is from Virginia, not the more common New York that they see. I ignore the obvious argument that my brother just went through with the same birth date and Danielle has just walked through unscathed with a Virginia license that didn’t require the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny&#153. Details.

Since it was Saturday night, the minimum bet for each table was going up. We’d hoped to find a $10 table, knowing the $5 was too much to expect. There was one $10 table left on the non-smoking floor, but it was full. Even if spots had opened, it was full of people who didn’t know how to play so we wouldn’t have sat down. Since we wanted to gamble, we had to play a $15 table. We found one with three open seats, so my brother, me, and my friend sit down in seats 3, 5, and 6, respectively. I put my money on the table. Before Derek, our dealer, takes the money, he asks for my ID. Instantly, I think I should get annoyed, but I discover that I’m not. Maybe it’s because I know the coming experience won’t be as fun if I anger the dealer before I’ve seen a card, but I don’t believe that’s it; it’s exhaustion from the little game that casinos play with me. Three-and-a-half hours later, I got up from the table having had the most fun I’ve ever had while gambling.

Having been held to excessive scrutiny twice and getting through a normal check once, I learned something valuable: despite appearing 12-years-old to anyone looking to proof me, I’m an excellent document forger. I always pass the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny&#153 when checked, but the adventure is the same.

Like I said, my luck was two beats and a push.

I’m not the Hormone Qwik-E-Mart

More interesting individuals have discovered through “curious” Google searches. Who knew that Google returns as a hit for “I need testosterone”. I don’t know why that is because I can’t recall writing about testosterone, but I apparently did. Since it might be relevant, I’ll take a moment to research the archives.

Here you go… The title of the entry is You’ll need testosterone to understand. In its entirety, the text is simple:

Spending $200 for shoes is absurd, but $200 for a phone is a bargain.

I love gadgets, both electronic and low-tech. Because I’m a man and men have testosterone. And testosterone makes men undertake Butch&#153 tasks like football and demolition derby and anything involving power tools and destruction. I’ve gleefully participated in all of those activities at some point. We won’t even discuss the pointy, metal ninja star I made in shop class in middle school. What the hell was I thinking? Where would I use that? But I needed it. NEEDED it.

With all of that, it’s safe to assume that I have testosterone. But to all you who show up here at through Google searches for “I need testosterone”, know this: I own Joe McIntyre cds, I’ve seen every episode of Queer As Folk, and I’ve been to a Miss America pageant. I need all the testosterone I have. Go visit someone who might have some to spare.

My ox is broken

CBS thinks we’re all stupid. The Amazing Race 5 ends next Tuesday, September 21st. To my surprised delight, I’d recently discovered that The Amazing Race 6 was scheduled to start next Saturday, September 25th. Unbeknownst to me, in the time since that went to press in fall TV preview issues of magazines, the start date had been moved to Oct. 2nd. That’s only a week, so I could survive that. Unfortunately, CBS decided that we viewers can’t adjust to seasons ending and beginning so close together. The Amazing Race 6 will now start in “late October or early November”.

“We’ve seen (evidence) that it really helps to put a little space between one version and the next,” [CBS senior exec VP Kelly Kahl] said. “We want to let the audience breathe a little before we bring the show back.”

Why does CBS hate The Amazing Race? It won an Emmy last year for best reality series and the fans had to fight to convince CBS to film another season. It’s up for another emmy this year. It’s the highest-rated original series on television right now. It’s a home run. But CBS doesn’t get it. I don’t need a breather. I need a 24-hour The Amazing Race channel. Seriously, people, competitive travel. Need I say more?

The biggest potential disaster from this is obvious. If Colin and Christie win, I will be a bitter, bitter man for the next 6+ weeks. Bitter, I say!

Pride for the low, low price of $0

Today’s news that Yahoo is buying MusicMatch is amuses me. I’d slowly begun moving away from MusicMatch because v8.2 and up is like the old Netscape browser. It’s bigger than it needs to be, including every possible feature a user might need, as though it’s supposed to be an operating system. So it’s as slow as a slug crawling through molasses. When the software isn’t locking up my PC. I might be willing to give Yahoo a chance to get the software into shape, but I still haven’t gotten the $5 back that they stole from me last September, so they can go fuck themselves. Hello, iTunes.

Not that I hold a grudge or anything childish like that…

Speaking of holding a grudge against the evil fascist empire that is Yahoo, I’ve switched my e-mail to Gmail, Google’s new free e-mail service that offers 1 GB of storage space. It’s not Yahoo, so it’s a winner. The ease of use within Gmail’s interface kicks Yahoo’s ass, so that’s a nice bonus.

Now for the shameless hucksterism… (is that a word, hucksterism?)

To get Gmail, you have to be invited. I got my invite a few months ago and now have 5 invites to give out. I don’t wish to imply that I’m special for having 5 invites. I’ll go all the way and say I’m unspecial because anyone with an account now has invites to give out and I STILL have 5 invites to give away. I’m so lame. So, anyone who wants a Gmail account, leave me a comment with your e-mail address included and I’ll invite you. (I’ll delete your e-mail address from my comments once I invite you, in case you don’t want it there.)

Those 5 invites are mocking me. Don’t make me extra lame by having to beg someone else. Please.

Fun with Google

To the kind folks who click to from Google, I say thank you. I don’t know what year the Nabisco rainbow chip cookies came out. I don’t know JC Chasez’s address. I don’t know if Clay Aiken is respected by other celebrities. I don’t even know how to compare NFL quarterbacks using linear regression.

Yet, I do have answers for a few of your questions. I know that England is better than America. I know how to grade on a curve, despite not proving it with an entry on (Ignoring the huge demand, I will not be write to explain how it’s done.) I even know what a Hokie is, which will surprise no one.

Most surprisingly, I’ve learned from you crazy people. Thanks to you, I now know that Kurt Nilsen is playing one date in the United States. He’ll be at The Birchmere on December 2nd. Danielle and I will be there. I suggest everyone do the same.

For entertaining and informing me, I thank all of you who use Google. But before you get too proud of yourselves, I love that people like you who I’ve never thought about can stumble upon my site and find that I’ve unknowningly mocked everything you hold sacred. God bless Google.

I read all of my blog comments

In response to my earlier post…

I imagine that Coach Gibbs is a staunch conservative, but I’m ok with that. This November, there will be no hanging chad when Coach Gibbs uses one of his 3 Super Bowl rings to punch out George W. Bush’s name on his ballot.

And I do care about the Jags winning. Not because I care so much about the Jags, but because Ernest Wilford caught the game-winning touchdown. Wilford is a Hokie, so I’ll be rooting for the Jags this year.

Hail to the Redskins

Version 2.0 of the Joe Gibbs era is underway. Consider this from an article in The Washington Post:

He is trying to motivate his players by rallying them around the notion that Washington was once a great franchise and that by emulating former Redskins stars this year’s team can have similar success. Barely a day goes by that Gibbs does not remind them of the greatness that once defined the franchise, of the honor they should feel wearing a Redskins uniform, of the uncommon bond between the team and its passionate fans.

That’s why Joe Gibbs is important to the Redskins. He brings the history and respect back to the franchise. We had some of that as a holdover when he retired after the 1992 season, but it dissipated soon after Norv Turner arrived in 1994. Coach Gibbs commands respect and will restore that (has restored it already) as it deserves. Consider:

“A true Redskin is a dedicated player,” cornerback Fred Smoot said, “a guy who is there all the time, everyday, a professional. We’re talking about a true athlete; you’ve got some athletes and then you’ve got a pure professional who you don’t have to worry about them. Hell, they can run the whole defense themselves because they know so much about what’s going on. Being a Redskin is being accountable for everything you’re doing, being a leader, speaking up for what you believe in and being yourself.

“We’re restoring it, man, because it’s a privilege to be a Redskin.”

It’s a huge privilege to play for the Redskins. I love the Redskins and I’m glad to see that there is a core of guys that understand that. It’s only going to get better under Coach Gibbs.

I’m not going to get overly optimistic since it’s still only week 1. Even in victory we made some mistakes that can’t continue, but this team looks solid. A balanced game plan, well-executed fundamentals, and an intensity that had been lacking for a decade are a trio of accomplishments that have Joe Gibbs’s signature stamped squarely on them. And the Clinton Portis adventure? The first time he touched the football, he scored a 64-yard touchdown.

God I wish I was in that game!