All posts by Ken Santema

Free Speech Week 2012: How George Carlin Opened My Eyes

It is still Free Speech Week! Today for free speech week I want to mention a man who has helped open the minds of many Americans: the late great George Carlin. He is often touted as a great comedian. While I agree he was a great comedian  I would say he was even more of an advocate for open minds!

George Carlin was always on the front lines in the battle against political correctness and the misuse of language. This ranges from his take on the seven dirty words (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits) to pointing out the dangers of euphemisms. It is his take on euphemisms that more than anything has always stuck with me. In particular this recurring bit on the transformation of the word “shell-shock” and what it has cost American Combat Veterans:

Before I had always thought political correctness and euphemisms were silly and something to laugh at. But George Carlin was able to find examples like shellshock that probably have caused a lot of harm. I bet anyone who sits and thinks about it can find other ways the dumbing down of language has caused harm.

For opening my eyes on this and many other topics I salute you as a hero of free speech George Carlin!

 

Bonus video. I don’t think this one was actually created by George Carlin, but falls within his domain. Watch this video to see which word is truly the most versatile in the English language.

My brief thoughts on the final Obama/Romney debate

From a libertarian point of view this was a bad debate. Looking at my notes (tweets) one comment sticks out: “I lost track, which of these two is the war-hawk?” It was clear neither was a candidate of peace. But I do think in the end Obama came off as a bigger war-hawk.

Other than that both candidates kept bringing the foreign policy debate back to domestic issues. I won’t even review my tweets on this one. Simply put this debate was a disaster for anyone that believe is liberty and peace. My final tweet sums it up best “I for one am glad I should never have to see Obama or Romney debate again!”

Told ya, brief! I’m too disgusted to say more.

Russell Means, The Libertarian Movement Will Miss You! RIP

Today is another sad day for South Dakota as Russell Means has passed away at the age of 72. You will always be remembered for the large parts you played in the American Indian Movement and overall libertarian causes. I never had the pleasure of meeting you, but respect all you have done for liberty.

Instead of writing a post that could never do you justice; I will post this 90 minute interview with you that everyone should take the time to watch!

 

And because its my custom I will play Seasons in the Sun on your behalf.

RIP

Free Speech Week 2012: A Look Back At The PMRC and 3 Free Speech Heroes

It is Free Speech Week! This year free speech week runs from October 22 – October 28. To kick off this first day of free speech week I thought it would be good to look at something I remember as a teen growing up in the 80’s: the Parent Music Resource Center (PMRC). The PMRC was actually started by four Washington wives that apparently had too much time on their hands. Being the ring leader Tipper Gore (wife of senator and future pretentious environmentalists ex-vice-president Al Gore) will always be seen as a villain in my eyes.

Tipper and the other Washington wenches proceeded to create a list of the “filthy fifteen” songs that were going to destroy Americas youth. Here is a list of those 15 songs and links to hear/watch them on the Internet:

  1. Prince – Darling Nikki – Sex/Masturbation
  2. Sheena Easton – Sugar Walls – Sex
  3. Judas Priest – Eat Me Alive – Sex
  4. Vanity – Strap on Robbie Baby – Sex
  5. Mötley Crüe – Bastard – Violence
  6. AC/DC – Let Me Put My Love Into You – Sex
  7. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It – Violence
  8. Madonna – Dress You Up – Sex
  9. W.A.S.P. – Animal (Fuck Like A Beast) – Sex/Language
  10. Def Leppard – High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night) – Drug & alcohol Use
  11. Mercyful Fate – Into the Coven – Occult
  12. Black Sabbath – Trashed – Drug & alcohol Use
  13. Mary Jane Girls – In My House – Sex
  14. Venom – Possessed – Occult
  15. Cyndi Lauper – She Bop – Sex/Masturbation

The PMRC lobbied the recording industry to self-regulate. And when that didn’t happen as quickly as the Washington wives wanted they started the infamous Senate Hearing. This is where we get to the heroes part of this memory. Three musicians stepped forward to represent the music industry: Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Frank Zappa, and John Denver. I don’t think you could have planned such an odd pairing.  Below is the hearings for all three artists. In total they are just over an hour, but well worth the listen!

Dee Snider Testimony – 30 Mins

This is actually my favorite part of the PMRC hearing. The Senate had no idea that Dee actually had a mind. He started out acting like a cliché rock star, then hit the committee with his intelligence! I have always been a fan of your Dee, but for this you will always be a HERO! Dee also happens to be the only of the 3 that is still alive.

Frank Zappa Testimony – 33 Mins

I was always a fan of Zappa’s musical genius, but this hearing made Frank my HERO! His opening with the first amendment was great! Sadly Frank is no longer with us; yet he will live on forever!

John Denver Testimony – 7 Mins

I think this inclusion was genius. A clean-cut country boy who makes movies about God! You rock Denver! I may not have been a fan, but I do like some of your songs. More importantly you will always be remembered as a hero this fan of the first amendment!

What I think really threw the Senators off in this hearing was the intelligence of all three musicians. Apparently politicians don’t realize that clichés are not reality.

All I will add to this post is the fact the musicians and fans got the final laugh in this whole PMRC vs music madness. Yes its true the PMRC “won” and parental advisory warning labels were placed on music that was considered obscene from that time on. However that parental advisory increased sales of those albums. Hell, I can remember being a kid buying albums simply because there was a warning!

One last thing. Danzig had a song called Mother that was directed straight at Tipper Gore and the PMRC. Here is the YouTube video with lyrics:

Oh wait, on more last thing. FUCK YOU TIPPER!

Current and Future Politicians Should Look at McGovern’s Legacy

This morning the former Senator from South Dakota George McGovern died at the age of 90. I am a little too young to remember his failed presidential run or his three terms as Senator for South Dakota. But I do know enough about him to respect his legacy and in fact agree with many stances he had taken over the years.

Politicians of today could learn a lot by looking at his foreign policy. He was proud to be against the Vietnam war and wanted to bring the troops home. McGovern wanted to keep an “even handed” approach in dealing with the Middle-East. Years ago I was at a political lecture that focused around the even-handed approach of McGovern. I was quite surprised to find that I agreed with McGovern. Being a veteran of WWII McGovern understood first hand the impact being sent to war has upon the eligible youth. Hopefully many will look at his foreign policy and reflect how it applies in the current age of military internationalism.

Of even more interest is McGovern’s continual aversion to a regulatory state. His own business venture is well documented and shows the folly of arbitrary regulations. That does not mean he was against regulation. However regulation with no basis upon reality do nothing but stifle businesses, especially new businesses. Even though he is often credited as empowering the Democratic Party, they chose not to learn this lesson. And even more sadly the Republican Party has not either.

While there was much about McGovern I disagreed with, I will always remember and respect him for taking a stance (no matter what the stance was) and staying connected with the electorate. Hopefully many current and future politicians will look at what he did (right or wrong) and learn how to stay connected with the voters they serve.

South Dakota 2012 Ballot: Why I Will Vote NO to the Supreme Court Retention of Severson

In reviewing the ballot issues in South Dakota I finally decided to look at the SD Supreme Court retention of Justice Glen A. Severson representing the Second Supreme Court District. I will definitely vote NO on this retention and ask others to do the same. Why would I vote no? Simply because of one key case the SD Supreme Court decided to overrule the circuit court: Wipf v Hutterville Hutterian Brethren, Inc (PDF).

I won’t go into the very long story and facts behind this case. However the Supreme Court chose to accept and hide behind “freedom of religion” in a corporate case that has nothing to do with religion. This nut-less move by the justices has left many good people in a very bad position. Many good men and women waited patiently (even while still being persecuted) for justice to be served. Sadly this never happened. The SD Supreme Court decided persecution of people is OK if done in the name of religion, even if corporate laws are being broke.

I’ll stop there. I could keep going, but honestly it would take me a whole book to discuss this issue at the level it deserves. So, in summary I will vote no to the retention of Justice Glen A. Severson because of this final line in Wipf v Hutterville Hutterian Brethren, Inc:

[¶29.] GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and ZINTER, SEVERSON, and WILBUR, Justices, concur.

A Stark Look at All 3 Presidential Candidates

The Libertarian Party has provided the following table to compare all three Presidential Candidates:

I really think this is worth looking at for anyone tired of both Obama and Romney. I won’t add much because I think the table speaks for itself.

My Thoughts of the Online Presidential Debate

This last Thursday the Independent Voter Network (IVN) hosted a presidential debate. You can still watch thin online at the IVN website. Overall I thought it was a great debate. Of course it only had Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein from the Green Party. Of course neither Democratic or Republican candidate would take place in a debate where they didn’t have control.

The main thing I took from this debate was two very clear messages. Often when watching Romney and Obama debate it is hard to find the actual differences. There were a lot of differences in this debate between Johnson and Stein. There was also a mutual respect. Neither candidate attacked each other or fell to name calling (supporters on twitter may have, but that’s OK, that is part of the process).  After this debate I gained a lot of respect for both candidates, including Jill Stein (who I disagree with on most everything). I really think having these two in the “BIG” debates would have opened a lot of voters eyes.

Here I am going to do like I did with the other two Presidential candidates and list the tweets I found relevant and explain them (#indyvote was the hashtag used for this):

  • What, Jill Stein wants to the “Organizer in Chief?”… thats not leadership Jill! #indyvote – This one actually makes me smile. Jill appears to think a Martha Stewart touch is needed in DC. I disagree completely. In fact I would rather see someone who does a lot of cutting, re-organizing will not help anything.
  • Does #GaryJohnson have a stunt double helping? #IndyVote – This  comment came from the constant technical difficulties that plagued the debate. Technology has come a long way, but holy cow it still has a long way to go!
  • Education costs are high for the same reason as high medical costs: Government intervention! #IndyVote – This was one very BIG different between Johnson and Stein. Guaranteed loans have driven education costs higher. Stein would increase the use of government money to pay for higher ed.
  • #GaryJohnson “we need free market approaches to energy”. Yes, if people want cleaner energy it will happen! #IndyVote – I live in a town where 70 people recently lost their jobs because of a ‘clean energy’ rebate ending. This artificial support of the clean energy industry has consequences!
  • Dirty energy? #JillStein almost sounded like she was talking about a porn. #IndyVote – No more comment on this. Just thought it was funny.
  • As much as #JillStein annoys me, I love this debate, we get to see true differences! #GaryJohnson #IndyVote – It really was good to see DIFFERENT viewpoints!
  • I have to agree with #JillStein on that one, big business IS in the White House. #IndyVote – Crony capitalism is alive and well in DC.
  • Foreign military action is a great topic to bring 3rd parties together!#kumbuya #IndyVote – I don’t think there was a tweet disagreeing with Johnson or Stein on reducing foreign action. The ‘audience’ went crazy here!
  • Its sad, I’m #libertarian, and even I admit #JillStein makes more sense than #Romney and #Obama. But not more than #GaryJohnson!#IndyVote – Self-explanatory.
  • #GaryJohnson says drone strikes “make us the villian” and “we’ve become the bully”. TRUE! #IndyVote – I really wish drones would become a true issue on the national stage.
  • Yes Jill, get rid of “No Child Left Behind” mentality! You lost me after that though. #IndyVote – Stein was beginning to make sense, then went off in a weird direction for my taste.
  • On education #GaryJohnson say we need to get rid of the “Washington knows best” policies. #IndyVote – Johnson stated it much better.
  • Yes, the biggest think #GaryJohnson has to say: Balance the budget NOW! #IndyVote – ’nuff said.
  • I agree Jill, diversification in the political debate creates a WIN!#IndyVote – This best sums up the whole process.

Overall I thought it was a great debate (minus some technical difficulties). I would really have loved to see these two debate alongside Romney and Obama.

South Dakota US House Race Leaves Me In a Tough Position

This last Thursday I decided to give both Kristi Noem and Matt Varilek an hour of my time and watched the debate on SDPB. The debate can still be watched on the SDPB election page. As a libertarian this debate has left me in a very tough position, and it is not just because there are no Libertarian candidates.

First lets look at Kristi Noem. I was not a resident of South Dakota when she was elected into the House (I lived in MN). However had I lived here at that time I would have likely have voted for Noem. This would have hinged purely upon her being part for the Tea Party movement. While I don’t agree with many Tea Party stances I was in support of one important part of this movement:  Government must be downsized. Kristi has done nothing in her term to show she believes this. There have been a lot of attacks on her for not showing up to committee meetings. Her reply is always “but look at my voting record”. Who gives a damn Kristi! If you’re not actually proactively getting the Tea Party message out in Congress then you are part of the problem. It is due this incompetence that I cannot see voting for Kristi.

Then there is Matt Varilek. I’ve talked to quite a few people who saw the debate and most would agree that Matt won (except those so party aligned they can’t look objectively). I thought Matt presented his platform very clearly and answered the questions in an honest way. That’s the problem I have with Matt: I disagree with him. I really do believe he is a good Democrat and will fight for his ideas. Looking at my tweets from then I remember Matt basically wanting to support clean energy industry (more than it already has been!). As someone who lives in Aberdeen I have seen what happens when the government supports an industry the market doesn’t want: a lot of people lose their job when the subsidies end! That leaves me in a rough place with Matt: even though I like and respect him, I don’t like his ideas.

So where does that leave me and a lot of other voters? Do I vote for the candidate I actually respect but disagree with? Or do I vote for the candidate I have no respect for? Matt would probably do a good job of no only listening to South Dakota voters, but try to fight for things (even if they are bad). And Kristi will continue to listen to South Dakota voters but do nothing. Right now I’m leaning Kristi because due to lack of action she will do less harm. I’m not sure though.

The 2nd Presidential Debate Was Not For Small Government Advocates

Last night I took a couple of hours of my life to watch the second Presidential debate and some of the commentary afterwards. Overall I would say the debate went much better for Obama. However in the end this debate was not about undecided voters for either candidate. I would have to say both candidates were trying to get support from their parties. The reason for this is simple: make sure supporters get out to the polls this November. And as always both candidates tried to outdo each other to be the bigger big-government advocate.

Other than that the debate was quite odd. The moderator Candy Crowley tried too hard to keep the debate under control. Many times she added follow-up questions or statements to get more clarification out of the candidates. Personally I don’t like that approach in a town hall debate. Let the candidates answer the questions, if they don’t answer sufficiently leave it up to the audience to detect that! To be fair she did warn ahead of the debate she would be interjecting her own questions (but that doesn’t make it right). And of course there was the moment she supported a direct lie told by Obama. I really don’t think she meant to do that; she was basically trying to assert herself as being in control of the debate and wanted to move things along. Again, I think her asserting herself was wrong.

As to actual content of the debate I found very little of interest. Looking at my tweets from last night I can see the following issues drew the most comments from me. Below is a few of my tweets from the debate (I had about 60 total):

  • Should a person in a debate say “we want to bet on”. Not sure the best risk analysis was done there! #debates – This was in response to Obama saying he wanted to bet on the Auto industry. He still believes the union corporate welfare bailout was a good idea. All it did was take a failing company and reward them for a long series of bad decisions. It also hurt competing companies that were working hard and making smart decisions. Again Mr O, we want clear strategies, not bets!
  • “The last decade.” Um, would that include the previous four years? – This was actualy a retweet originally posted by Jesse WalkerThis was in response to Obama saying the past decades worth of money spent on wars could have been better served helping America. I agree Mr President! Too bad you forgot four years of that last decade was you!
  • Who would have thought #Obama would brag about drilling more than Bush??? #debates – This part of the debate was odd. Both Obama and Romney tried to paint themself as bigger energy guys. In fact Obama bragged about how he opened more fields than Bush. Not sure that was a smart move on his part. However Romney earlier had focused on “Energy Independence”. Due to the fact energey independence is anti free market and has been dubunked as non-realistic I give Romney a #FAIL here.
  • Oh please, not the gender inequality question….. #debates – The whole ‘womens issues’ has become very condescending to women.
  • Where are the Feminists to speak out against the condescension in this question and answers?? #debates – See above.
  • Why the frack is contraception a ‘womens issue’? #debates – See above again.
  • OK, stop talking about bad presidents of the past, the debate is which of two two want to be the future bad president! #debates – Self explanitary.
  • Hey #Romney, and you too #Obama, If you want to help the middle class: LEAVE THEM ALONE! #debates – Neither candidate has a stance of leaving the middle class alone. Sad.
  • Huh? Obama you have streamlined deportation! #debates – President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other President, including Bush. Yet he says he has streamlined immigration?
  • Its a #FAIL when the president says “gang-bangers” in a debate.#debates – I really don’t think immigrant gang-bangers is an issue. Unless he is talking in relation to the failed drug war. Easy answer there: END THE DRUG WAR!
  • Is that in the DNC platform now: “We are against gang-bangers!”#debates
  • Pension-envy? #debates #GangBangers – This was an odd moment where Romney kept asking Obama if he had looked in his pension portfolio, then Obama said he wasn’t as big as Romneys.
  • You can’t say I ‘Support X Amendment” and then say “But”.  #debates – This part of the debate really pissed me off. The Bill of Rights was a restriction on government, to protect the rights of individuals.  However the whole second amendment thing has been twisted. There is no BUT in rights.
  • Getting laid reduces gun violence? Is that the argument? – This was actually a retweet of a post from Scott ShackfordSomehow the issue of assault weapons had been spun into an issue on married familie. It was kinda odd.
  • Its time for the moderator to play the Monty Python song “I Like Chinese” #debates #GangBangers – I am getting damn tired of politicians slamming China. This is a sidestep!
  • Again Mitt, if you want to help business (small and large): LEAVE THEM ALONE. Let them grow the economy. #debates #GangBangers – Self explanatory.
  • Get rid of all the fracking rules (regulations) if you want to help small business!! #debates #GangBangers – Self Explanitory
  • Obama, the problem is not offshore outsourcing!! The problem is OVER-REGULATION here in the US. #debates #GangBangers – Self Explanitory
  • #Obama, you just said you didn’t want ‘low-wage, low-skill” jobs in the US. Did you really think that through? #debates #GangBangers – Another odd one. I don’t think he meant that the way it came out.
  • Left media: Romney lied. Right media: Obama lied. Can’t we all come together and call both full of shit? #libertarian

Overall I would say the debate was bad for anyone that supports small government.