Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Off to the gym in a few minutes...

I'll do a "formal" intro (with newsbite theme song video) when I get back!

In the meantime... I'm throwing a newsbite into today's comments... check it out!

'Kay... I'm back!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Amusement Park Fast Passes

My buddy ("He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned!") and I were having a broad, eclectic discussion this morning and once again...

We Find Ourselves In Perfect Agreement...!!!

The whole amusement park "fast pass" scam goes beyond being simply an exercise in extortion; when you think about it, it's ethically bankrupt!

A bit of contextual reflection...

I have a pretty good lifestyle. Indeed, I've always had one. While my upbringing largely teetered between lower middle and middle class, in certain aspect it was more "upper middle" class.

"He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned" grew up in circumstances perhaps a strata ahead of me... firmly ensconced within what I'll call "the skiing middle class"... but by and large the way we were raised and the values we were taught shared a definite overall commonality.

I'm a showier guy than "He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned" - at least out on the public stage.

I believe in "If you've got it, flaunt it!"

The thing is... not in an obnoxious way. And by "it" we're talking earned, not given!

I've never felt guilty about dining at a fine restaurant or staying at a ritzy hotel or living the high life on occasion... (frequent occasion...)

At the same time, I've always recognized - and respected - that  aside from personal choices (hierarchy of needs, so to speak), not everyone can afford to splurge where and when I can.

Ya know folks... there are hard-working parents out there who save for years for that dream trip to Universal Studios.

Imagine these parents on line with their kids...

Now imagine what these parents feel... what their kids feel... think... wonder.. when family after family of entitled assholes with fat wallets and fast passes are allowed... nay, encouraged... to flaunt their monetary "superiority" via what amounts to cutting the line - all because they can afford a fast pass.

Folks... this ain't the same as saying, "you get what you pay for." No. I don't believe it is. I don't believe it's akin to slipping the maitre d' a $20 or a $50 or $100 to get a table at a hot restaurant with no reservation. No. This is about respect for one's fellow park guests... for one's fellow human beings.

For Christ's sake, folks... if Americans can't all be equal at Universal Studios... 


Anyone think I'm rambling? I'm not. (Well... maybe a bit... but with a larger point in mind!)

Each day here at Usually Right I point at what's wrong in America. Folks... it ain't just "politics" that's broken. We're losing touch with who We are... with who "We The People" are.

There will always be rich and poor, and that's fine!

And, geezus... money is for using... for leveraging...


Me and "He Whose Name Dare Not Be Mentioned" are both idealists in our own ways. Corny idealists in certain ways, I suppose. But that ain't bad, folks... that's good!


So what's the point of this stand-alone post...?


The basic point: Next time you go to Universal Studios or some other amusement park... DON'T do the fast pass thing!

The big picture point: If you have money... great! Enjoy! More power to you! Just as a cautionary note though... don't let money turn you into an asshole. Instead let your inner "best self" be reflected in how you handle being one of life's winners!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Friday, January 25, 2013

Did you know that our national anthem... the Star Spangled Banner... has four verses...?

Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,

What so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming...

And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof, through the night, that our flag was still there...

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,

O'er the land of the free... and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen, through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host, in dread silence reposes...

What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam, of the morning's first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines on the stream...

'Tis the star-spangled banner! O' long may it wave...!

O'er the land of the free... and the home of the brave!

And where is that band, who so vauntingly swore,

That the havoc of war, and the battle's confusion?

A home and a country should leave us no more,

Their blood has wiped out, their foul footstep's pollution.

No refuge could save, the hireling and slave,

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave?

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave...

O'er the land of the free... and the home of the brave!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand,

Between their loved homes, and the war's desolation!

Blessed with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land, Praise the Power that hath, made and preserved us a nation...

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"...!

And the star-spangled banner, in triumph shall wave...

O'er the land of the free... and the home of the brave!

Today's Newsbites Theme Song...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

You Don't Believe We're Sliding Towards Dictatorship?

Well... you might wanna read this - courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

*  *  *  *  *  *

Think your state has equal representation in the Senate? Well... that could be eliminated soon.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - Democrat from Nevada - is trying to ensure that he personally has the final say on all legislation. And under one plan being considered, only three other Senators would be allowed any meaningful contributions.

Reid has been talking with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about an agreement on this nefarious plan. But whether it passes with McConnell’s blessing or without, it is dangerous to everyone not represented by Harry Reid. (Until, of course, Harry Reid is no longer a Senator. Then, the scepter of power would pass to the next Majority Leader. But Reid and his gang aren’t thinking about that day. They’re thinking about today - and the ability to pass legislation without any opposition.)

This is how New York State works, folks; three men - the Governor, the State Senate Majority Leader, and the Assembly Leader - and they run the state.

Folks... this is not the template the nation should be following.

The ill-named “filibuster reform” proposals floating around on Capitol Hill include the following:

Make it easier for one party to pass legislation, even if half the Senate disagrees: To stop debate on a contentious issue, 60 votes are now required. But the proposal being floated would create a way for the Majority Leader to pass any proposal with only 51 votes.

Folks... understand... the Founders meant for the Senate to be the "cooling dish" of federal legislation...

The Senate was meant to be a deliberative body whose deliberations slowed - and in the end lessened - the flow of legislation coming out of the Federal Government!

Create four “Super Senators” who hold the true power: Only four Senators would be able to offer amendments to legislation, effectively shutting out the other 96 from the legislative process. (Special power for the Majority Leader: The Majority Leader (now Reid) would have the special authority to add an amendment after debate is finished on a particular bill. Combined with the 51-vote threshold, this change would allow the Majority Leader to jam through just about anything without the Senate even debating it.)

In short, this is a terrible plan that would hand all of the Senate’s power to four people and would turn the Majority Leader into a tyrant.

It’s such a bad idea that even Reid himself argued against similar changes - when he was in the minority.

Back then, so long ago in 2005...


...Reid was a strong defender of the minority party’s right to filibuster legislation and slow the progress of bills. Reid said then: "One of the good things about this institution we have found in the 214 years it has been in existence is that the filibuster, which has been in existence since the beginning, from the days of George Washington ... in all the political writings about filibuster, that is one of the things they talk about as a positive. It forces people to get together because sometimes in this body you become very fixed."

Likewise, then-Senator Barack Obama agreed in 2005: "What [the American people] don’t expect, is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so that they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet ... everyone in this chamber knows that if the majority chooses to end the filibuster - if they choose to change the rules and put an end to democratic debate - then the fighting and the bitterness and the gridlock will only get worse."

Much as he did with the debt ceiling, President Obama has already made the case against his party’s current position. And a good case it was.

Think of all the legislation Democrats want to pass in the new Congress — and then imagine them doing it without any opposition whatsoever.

That’s the urgent danger in the Senate.

Barker's Newsbites: Thursday, January 24, 2013

OK... let's start with a bit of chair dancin'...

(Now that was fun - right...?!?!)

Woke up today to no internet... thus no phone... no cable... no streaming video...


I tell ya, folks... so far this Optimum Triple Play is more like Optimum Rain Delay!


Anyway... I'm back up now... it was an actual regional outage problem (which I suppose is comforting as opposed to another "Bill's Triple Play" snafu).


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Geezus... it's even colder today than it was yesterday!

Just got home from my morning "Body Pump."

I.... feel... great...!!!

Oh... before I forget... BIG SHOUT OUT to my best bud Carl! Thanks again for the "better late than never" stocking stuffer gift of "travel bitters!" (You are The Man, my friend, and I look forward to cocktailing with you sooner rather than later!)

Everyone... ENJOY today's newsbites; ENJOY today's newsbites theme video!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's friggin' cold out, today!

Anyway... the cable guy just left. Fixed my various "pole to line" problems, etc., switched out modems... all is well!

Watched my first paid for streaming flick last night! Signed up for a trial Hulu account (and after that expires I'll sign up for a trial Netflix account) and trail Amazon Prime account. Hulu didn't have the particular episodes of the particular program I was looking for, but it was available from Amazon (for $1.99) so I went wild and ordered it and watched it.

I need to pay for one more episode in order to "catch up" to the rest of this season's episodes which I have DVR'ed. 

(This all goes back to the Optimum/Cablevision vs. "The CW" feud which is why I missed opening episodes of several CW programs and now need to pay to watch them!)

I may also have to pay for the first two episodes of "Hart of Dixie" which Mary and I missed; I haven't yet checked to see if they're available for free or only paid access.

Obama's still President and that really sucks.

Obama... Biden... Reid... Boehner... McConnell... Pelosi...

This country is so totally fracked up, folks...


Anyway... except for Christmas I haven't used these newsbite posts for sharing my favorite songs and videos since my old computer crashed. It's time to rectify this situation! My old song lists are in my "old" email archives somewhere deep within the bowels of my old hard-drive... so... rather than bug "my tech guys" I'm just gonna start anew from scratch!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Barker's Newsbites: Monday, January 21, 2013

Well, folks, another day of newsbiting... sparse newsbiting...

Yeah... part of it is me. I've been busy. But another part is the lack of surface info (Drudge, WSJ, NRO) worthy of newsbiting lately.

The normal post-Christmas lull...? Perhaps.

A general depression brought on by the beginning of Obama's second term and thus the continued accelerated decline of America and all that people like me hold dear? Yep... definitely that's part of it.

Folks... newsbites are by their nature "reactive." If the media won't play their part...


Anyway... I'll keep plugging away. And looking on the bright side... I've been throwing out more "stand alone" posts lately!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Constitutional Rights, Mental Illness, and Gun Control

Folks, no doubt you've been hearing about and reading about and indeed discussing proposals as well as actual legislation concerning gun control... particularly as such legislation fits in with mental health policies and implementation of same.

U.S. News on NBC News has come out with some commentary regarding these interrelated issues which bears thought and indeed contemplation, questions, and commentary from you and... yours truly:

If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that mentally ill people should not have access to firearms.

Question: If our legal system - operating under Constitutional principles - deems an individual incapable of exercising his or her 2nd Amendment Rights...


...then what about his or her other Constitutional Rights?

Let's lay aside for a moment questions such as "If they can't be trusted with a gun, such a person be trusted with a car... with a knife... with arms and hands that could be used to push someone off a subway platform into the path of an oncoming train...?

How'about matches? Access to gasoline, empty bottles, rags, and perhaps a lighter?

Via the internet... via public libraries... via a decent high school education most Americans could produce a crude poisonous gas or explosive device with a modicum of effort using parts and materials available at your local Home Depot.

But, hey... put all that aside...

ALL Constitutional Rights are equal. The 1st Amendment... the 2nd Amendment... they're equal. Amendments 1 thru 10 - the Bill of Rights - all equal. Amendments 1 thru 27 - all equal folks!

So... we're talking about taking away an individual's Constitutional Right to bear arms pursuant to legal judgment that said individual is not "mentally competent" to avail himself or herself of said 2nd Amendment Right to bear arms.

Well... do we want "mentally incompetent" individuals voting? I don't!

Voting aside... how'bout legal contracting? If one has been deemed "mentally incompetent" to exercise one's 2nd Amendment Rights... how then does this "mental incompetence" not carry over into every facet of legal responsibilities and protections - both those of the individual in question and those of other individuals and parties dealing with this individual within a legal framework?

Do you see what I'm getting at here, folks...? "Mentally incompetent" to exercise a specific Constitutional Right means... well... what else? How'about "mentally incompetent" to marry... to serve as legal guardian to a child... to be a parent at all?! If one is "mentally incompetent" and thus prevented by government from exercising a basic Constitutional Right... a Bill of Rights Right... then what other Rights can and/or should be taken from this "second-class" citizen?

But as lawmakers rush to restrict that access in the wake of recent mass shootings, mental health experts warn of unintended consequences: from gun owners avoiding mental health treatment to therapists feeling compelled to report every patient who expresses a violent thought.

Yep... the law of unintended consequences...

“Many patients express some idea of harm to other people, everything from, ‘I wish I could rip my boss limb from limb,’ to, ‘I have a gun and want to blow that guy away,’” said Paul Applebaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University. Therapists usually interpret this sort of talk as part of the treatment process, experts say. But under a new law in New York, one of the strongest to be passed to date, therapists may feel compelled to report every instance of violent talk, lest they face legal consequences if something happens. And some say ordinary patients may wind up suffering the most.

“There’s one group of people who are gun owners who may reasonably or unreasonably think, ‘I’m not going anywhere near a mental health person, because if they misinterpret something I say as an indication I’m going to hurt myself or someone else, they’re going to report me and take away my guns,’” Applebaum said.

"...who may reasonably or unreasonably think...?" Seriously, folks, there's nothing "unreasonable" about the scenario being highlighted here.

Several polls conducted since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., have found widespread support for new legislation that would restrict the possession of firearms by the mentally ill, as well as for increased government spending on mental health.

Again, folks, I know this sounds reasonable... but we're talking a Constitutional Right. Mere "laws" - statutes - cannot supplant Constitutional Rights. Any law that restricts - denies - the Constitutional Right to bear arms (which can pass Constitutional muster) would therefore - at least so it seems to me - allow the next logical step of denying... let's say... the Right to vote.

And folks... if you're not mentally fit to exercise your 2nd Amendment Rights then by God you shouldn't have the Right to vote. (And from there... what else shouldn't you be allowed to do? Be a party to a legally binding contract...? How can you be a party to a legally binding contract... if you're mentally incompetent that is?)

Federal law already bars the sale or transfer of firearms to a person who is known or thought to have been “adjudicated as a mental defective.”

Does it make sense to you that a person "adjudicated as a mental defective" should be allowed to vote... or enter into contracts? (Or be a parent or guardian in the legal sense...???)

In addition, at least 44 states currently have their own laws regulating possession of firearm by mentally ill individuals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But not enough states report their mental health data to the federal government, rendering the federal law largely toothless.

I know that several attorneys read my blog regularly. You must have some thoughts regarding the points I'm bringing up. I'd love to have you post these thoughts to the blog! (And in line with that... back to state laws... state laws can't contravene the Constitution - correct?)

New York’s expanded gun law signed by Cuomo on January 15 goes further than most state laws in that it requires mental health professionals to report any person considered “likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others” to local health officials. Those officials would be authorized to report that person to law enforcement, which could seize the person’s firearms.

So... the Bureau of Future Crimes becomes a reality... one's Constitutional Rights are stripped (or just certain Constitutional Rights are stripped) based not upon action but upon thought?

Again... folks... I'm not saying there shouldn't be a legal remedy for dealing with the mentally ill; I'm simply raising the point that if a person is "adjudicated as a mental defective" for the purpose of limiting his or her 2nd Amendment Rights... then logically what Constitutional Rights are safe... which Constitutional Rights should such individuals maintain and under what justification?

Again... how does one justify "allowing" a "mental defective" to vote... or hold office? (Should it be possible for someone "adjudicated as a mental defective" in order to strip him or her of his or her 2nd Amendment Rights to serve as a public official - elected or appointed? Should someone deemed ineligible to exercise his or her 2nd Amendment Constitutional Right be allowed to get a pilot's license... pilot a jetliner with hundreds of passengers... even drive a hazardous materials laden vehicle? Think about it, folks... how many jobs by their very nature provide jobholders with the "tools" to commit mass murder?)

Again, folks... just some points to ponder...