Monday, December 28, 1998

Week of 12/28/1998

The 1998 Brutally Honest Awards
The Second Annual Awards Article
- by David Matthews 2

Can you believe that a whole year has come and gone? Me neither, but it has.

Thus, as 1998 ends, it is once again time for the good, the bad, and the sometime lighthearted Brutally Honest Awards.

The Temporary Sanity Award for 1998 - The Georgia Supreme Court. The highest court in the state of Georgia had two moments of clarity to them. The first was when they ruled in favor of free speech for advertising, even when that advertising was for adult-only establishments. The second, and the most decisive of decisions, however, was when they overturned the state’s infamous sodomy law. They made the decision that the US Supreme Court, last year’s recipient of this award, failed to do back in 1988.

Now if only the state legislature had the brains to understand what that decision means.

The "Hulk Hogan" Award for the most staged event in 1998 - The House Impeachment Of President Clinton. Or perhaps the title should have been "As The Politics Churn," because this was a soap opera-like scenario. Even the CNN commentators were able to predict the actions of many members of the House, right up to what the House Parliamentarian would say almost word-for-word, and how the House Democrats would stage their symbolic walk-out to protest their inability to vote for a censure resolution.

C’mon folks! The only surprise was that only two of the four articles of impeachment got passed, and that Bob Livingston resigned. The self-righteous posturing on both sides was as scripted as professional wrestling!

The Kamikaze Award For 1998 - Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston. Let’s see.. Bill Clinton gets impeached, but the House Speaker and his would-be replacement are the ones who resign?

The funny part is that both of them were defiant in their respective troubles. Gingrich took responsibility for the use of GOP "issue ads" that aided in their ultimate loss of five seats. Livingston admitted to having a few adulterous affairs in his thirty-plus years of marriage. Both said they were willing to stick through the situation. Then, suddenly, they each announce they will resign.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that they didn’t fall on their swords, they were shoved onto them by the moralistic special interest groups that put them in power in the first place.

The Bait-And-Switch Award for 1998 - The GOP "Tax Cut." Let’s see if I get this straight… The Republican members of Congress say that we need a "tax cut." But they don’t offer a tax cut. Instead they offer a tax credit that only exists on paper and you can’t use until the time comes to fill out your taxes, and it really doesn’t apply to every tax-paying American, but only those who have kids. Meanwhile my taxes as a struggling single male with no kids continue to rise. And they have the unmitigated gall to call THAT a "tax cut?"

The Bad Date Award for 1998 - The Feminist Supporters of Clinton. Okay, they have to stand by their man, even though their man hasn’t exactly been doing too well of a job on their behalf. Fine. I understand that. But you don’t back Clinton for doing the very same things you condemned Bob Packwood for and tried to hound him out of the Senate! That’s just plain hypocrisy.

The "Do As We Say Not As We Do" Award for 1998 - The US Congress. Congress releases the Kenneth Starr report online, complete with sexually explicit material, while at the same time shoves through the latest Internet censorship legislation, and then wonders why we have no respect for them? They redefine the meaning of the word hypocrisy with every session that convenes!

The Crybaby Award for 1998 - Hillary Rodham Clinton. Oh, they’re so nasty, aren’t they Hillary? Those evil people behind that "right-wing conspiracy" that are out to crucify your husband! How dare they! Just because you want to take over the world, that’s no reason for them to be so mean to you and your husband! And worse yet, it’s because you’re from Arkansas that they’re out to have you two impeached! Never mind that you weren’t originally from Arkansas..

Come on Hillary! That’s the nature of politics! Did you really think the Gods of Mount Morality were just going to roll their eyes when you said you were going to be a co-president back in 1992? Did you really think that you would be treated with kid gloves? There’s an old saying in Washington - if you can’t stand the heat, get out of politics!

The "Much Ado About Little" Award for 1998 - Windows 98. Improvements notwithstanding, the hype about Windows 98 lacked the luster of Windows 95. There was much talk about it, and it even served as a chief catalyst in the antitrust suit brought on by Uncle Sam and 19 of his 50 spoiled brats, but in the end, it was more of a fizzle instead of the anticipated bang because there was little that was different about it.

The Sleeper Surprise of 1998 - Apple’s iMac. Let’s face it, Apple put all their chips on a revised version of their original Macintosh computer, and it was a gamble that worked for them. Yes, the iMac has no floppy drive unit. Yes, the iMac has no means to expand beyond its one-piece set-top design. Yes, the iMac mouse looks as weird as the unit itself. All that didn’t matter, because people bought it and put Apple back in the black for the first time in years.

The J. Edgar Hoover Award For Snooping In 1998 - Kenneth Starr. Starr started out by looking into Whitewater, but couldn’t find anything. Then nobody could explain how Clinton could get hold of FBI records. And the investigation into the White House Travel Office came up empty. And the allegations of then-Governor Clinton using state troopers to bring women to him came up empty. And nobody REALLY wanted to look into what happened with Kathleen Wiley in the Oval Office. But Monica Lewinsky? Hell, yeah! Let’s get her friend Linda Tripp to tape record everything about Monica and her little dalliances with Big Bubba Spin! Let’s get Monica to confess by using every trick in the book!

And how does the media react? He gets co-billing with Clinton as Time’s Men Of The Year!

I don’t think that should be an accomplishment he should be proud of.

The Bottom-Of-The-Barrel Award for 1998 - Matt Drudge. It was close. He almost got beaten out by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. But when it comes to mudracking on Washington, Drudge got the ball rolling this year. Flynt, despite his recent boastings, didn’t oust Representative Bob Livingston, and he didn’t know about the admitted affairs of Henry "Check Your Politics At The Door, Liberal" Hyde, Helen "His Actions Are Deplorable" Chenoweth, and Dan "The President Is A Scumbag" Burton.

The "Boom-Boom-Boom Let’s Go Back To My Woods" Award for 1998 - The Manhunt of Eric Robert Rudolph. Oh, yeah, he’s still roughing it in the woods.. Sure. He’s probably in the basement of someone’s house now, laughing his butt off with the reports of the FBI staked out where he isn’t.

The "Laughing All The Way To The Governor’s Mansion" Award for 1998 - Jesse "The Mind" Ventura. The former wrestler and part-time actor was a real underdog in politics. He ran on simple platforms, campaigned on a third-party ticket, didn’t do any serious political ads on TV until the final weeks of the election season, and still ended up being elected governor of Minnesota. Now he’s hobnobbing it up with the big boys of politics, and they’re terrified of what he represents.

By the way, I hope the only sign of political egomania that affects Jesse would be the change of his moniker from "The Body" to "The Mind." His wrestling ego was as legendary as a certain fellow wrestler from Venice Beach who used to wear yellow and red, he certainly doesn’t need to fall down the path of Bill Clinton.

The "Season Of The Living Dead" Award for 1998 - The 98-99 Network Season. Seinfeld goes out with a whimper, Phil Hartman dies unexpectedly, and the networks apparently cannot grieve sooner enough. Instead, they tap one more time into the mindless sitcom boilermakers and rehash of hit shows instead of trying to use an ounce of actual creativity.

The Bane of Tyranny Award for 1998 - The Clinton Administration and the US Congress. Between CDA2/COPA, further limits on encryption, further encroachment on personal privacy through asset forfeiture and wire-taping laws, repeated violations of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution by imposing their will against certain ballot-approved initiatives in individual states, and further planned regulations that would make your personal bank transactions the purview of the government, its easy to see how Uncle Sam has become the biggest threat to American freedoms in human history.

The Worst Moniker For Bill Clinton in 1998 - "The Playboy President." I’m sorry, Hef, but Bill Clinton does NOT live the Playboy Philosophy, nor does he even admit to his sexual encounters, and if you - in some bout of insanity - invite him to the Playboy Mansion, I’d SERIOUSLY recommend you count the silverware and do a head check of all the staff and Playmates when he leaves. Don’t worry about the blondes. It’s the brunettes that he has a fixation on. (Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones were both raven-haired when they met Clinton. Even Kathy Wiley has a darker shade of brown when she was allegedly groped.)

Yes, politicians do have sex, they don’t just spend every waking moment trying to screw Joe and Jane Six-pack. But living up to the Playboy Philosophy does not mean you lie about it, nor refer to it only as "your shame."

The Best Moniker For Bill Clinton in 1998 - "Big Bubba Spin." The best of all nicknames for Clinton, incorporating all the best attributes that made him what he is today. He has a huge ego, he still shows his redneck roots in terms of his southern hypocrisy, and he is the grand master of political spin. And even the nickname appeals to the younger generation.

The Best Distractions For 1998 - Marc McGwire, Karen McDougal, and Katarina Witt. When it seemed that the whole world would be sucked down into the bowls of "L’affair Lewinsky," three faces stuck out in the public’s eye. Marc McGwire shocked the world and broke the home run record. Karen McDougal became Playboy’s Playmate of the Year, and Katarina Witt made news at the year’s end by revealing her athletic physique in the same publication.

As 1998 ends, and 1999 arrives, one can only wonder just how weird things will be this time next year! If this past year is any indication, the best line will have come from the legendary Bettie Davis:

Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Monday, December 21, 1998

Week of 12/21/1998

Dear Santa…
A Lighthearted Peek At Santa’s E-Mail letters
- by David Matthews 2


Subject: Holiday Wish Lists

Dear David,

After reading your Brutally Honest Christmas Wish List article online, I thought I’d share with you some of the e-mail I get from certain people. You and your readers might recognize some of these letters.


PS: I checked with Hef. Sorry, I can’t put a Playmate under your tree this year. I’ll try again next year.

Dear Santa,

This year I certainly can use your help. I’m in dire straits with my opponents. It seems some of my past moments of humiliation are coming back to haunt me. That is not to say that I was being naughty. Quite the contrary, my actions have been exemplary to the situations presented to me, and I responded in accordance to what any reasonable man in such a situation would do.

Besides, this is not about me. This is about the people I represent. I have a job to service them, and I should not be denied that because of past indiscretions.

I need new polls to show the politicians in Washington that the people I serve do not want me to stop doing my job. I cannot convince them otherwise. I think about fifty new polls should be enough to dissuade them.

I would also be ever grateful if you could arrange a little external conflict so I can improve my image as a leader. Those things have always benefited me in the past.

Lastly, as ever, I would appreciate a generous campaign donation. Oh, if possible, could you have your donation brought over by attractive female interns? Preferably brunettes. Those elves just don’t do a thing for me.

Your friend,
W.J. Clinton
Washington DC

Dear Mister Claus,

My office informs me that you continue to discriminate against non-elves in your toy manufacturing and distribution. This is in clear violation of equal employment laws in this country.

Furthermore, my office is once again telling me that you continue to maintain a list of so-called "naughty" and "nice" people, based solely on your observations through a magical snowball. You may or may not be aware that such actions are in violation of several state laws concerning invasion of privacy, not to mention a few local ordinances which prohibit the use of magical devices. While I applaud your efforts to determine who is "naughty" or "nice," my office cannot allow a private citizen to peer into the private lives of other people. That is the role of my office.

I would also appreciate it if you were to send me one of those magical snowballs. (For observational purposes, mind you.)

Oh, yes, and the head of Bill Gates on a platter, if at all possible.

Washington, DC

Forward Message:
From: Jessica Kringle
To: Chris Kringle

Chris, please tell this woman that I do not answer your e-mails anymore. It was cute when she first did this years ago, but it is just plain annoying now. - Jes

Forwarded Message

Dear Mrs. Prym-Kringle:

Hello once again. I hope you are adjusting well to life away from your husband. Trust me, sometimes it is for the best. I know the media hasn’t touched on your marital problems, and I think that is a good thing.

Since all real brains of a relationship rest with the wife, I hope you won’t mind if I continue to write to you about my Yuletide wishes. We both know that you are the one who really makes that whole deal with the elves work, not your husband. After all, look at my marriage.

What I want is the same thing I want every year: power. As a woman, you know I already possess enough power through my husband. But that is not enough. My husband has this tendency to make a fool out of himself, and this latest incident may just well cost me my hold on power.

If at all possible, I wish that my husband be given detachable privates. Since I may have to spend more time with him than I want to in the coming years, I would like to be assured that he will not embarrass me any further than he already has. Plus my daughter is now in college, and such a gift will ensure she won’t be embarrassed by his antics amongst her of-consent-age friends.

As always, I would also appreciate any fiscal contributions to our cause. Any denominations, large or small, will suffice. I fear we may have to use those funds in the coming years. Oh, if you do decide to contribute, please do not send any attractive, brunette interns over! Send the elves. I happen to know my husband is turned off by them.

I hope all goes well with your tell-all book about life on the North Pole. I look forward to reading it.

Your friend,
Washington, DC

(Writer’s note: I have been assured by Santa that he and his wife have patched things up and she has cancelled her tell-all book before it could be released.)

Dear Santa,

I have been a nice leader over the years. I have had no choice. The other countries won’t let me be naughty. When I try to be naughty, they bomb my home. Oh, and they kill some of my people too, but that is incidental.

Please send me two dozen tanks, a hundred scud missiles, forty thousand machine guns, twenty attack helicopters (fully loaded, of course), some nerve gas, and one nuclear bomb if you can squeeze that in. Oh, and a new teddy bear. I seem to have lost my old one in the latest attack.

From a real nice leader,

Dear Santa,

This will be somewhat embarrassing for me, but I must revise my Christmas list. I had initially wished that my little project show some fruit before Christmas. Now it appears it has.

Thank you Santa.

Washington D.C.

Dear Saint Nick,

I know we scratched you off our official list thirty years ago, but I at least haven’t forgotten about you.

All I want are the usual things: peace on earth, good will towards men, faith, love and understanding…

Oh, yes, and a taller hat.

Vatican City

Dear Santa Dude,

Thanks once again for the present you gave me a few years ago. It took me a few years to wear it out, but at least I ran this one through instead of the other way around.

Now, bro, what I need is new territory to conquer. I know how you got this guy Jesse his own state, and you know how much I hate being upstaged by him. So I’m setting my sights higher than him.

Now, if you could get Jesse to be governor of some no-name state, I know you can get me the White House. After all, I’m your number one elf!

Just think of it - me, slamming those politicians through the political mat, wrapping that budget around my pythons and squeezing all the pork out of it. I’d even get Janet Reno to get off your back about that antitrust nonsense. Jesse can’t hold a candle to that!

So, dude, if you can swing that little election bid for me, I’d be every grateful.

Your bro 4 life,
"’wood" Hogan
Venice Beach, CA

Monday, December 14, 1998

Week of 12/14/1998

Brand X
How "zoning" the Internet is a bad idea
- by David Matthews 2

I guess it’s inevitable. Create a new frontier, a new place where the old laws and old standards don’t apply, and every would-be control freak with delusions of grandeur will scream bloody murder for those old standards to be applied.

Case in point - zoning laws. For those whose understanding of zoning laws are limited to the simplistic Monopoly rules that houses are green and hotels are red, be aware that depending on the rules created by state and local municipalities, the most powerful place to be in business is sitting on the zoning board. Not only do you get to decide what sort of business comes into town, but you also have the power to micromanage it down to the last nail used to hang up the "Open for business" sign.

Moralists who are frustrated in not being able to otherwise ban or prohibit actions they deem to be offensive, find that the local zoning board is an excellent weapon to wreck havoc in society. Zoning laws grew from the days of the Greeks and the early Roman Empire from the means to create aesthetic beauty to the means to control and regulate social growth. In most cases, the zoning laws are general enough to allow most businesses without problem. Most only pertain to controlling growth to an optimal level so the infrastructure can keep up, making sure the buildings live up to an optimal measure of safety, and that the buildings aren’t constructed using substandard materials.

But abuses by moralists in the zoning laws often have little recourse. Courts favor zoning laws as the means to regulate growth and rarely override them, no matter how absurd some of those laws are. Some of the more blatant, and absurd, abuses of zoning laws include prohibiting freelance writers from working in the privacy of their homes, determining what shade of white should be appropriate in a person’s living room, and the tearing down of homes because they interfere with someone’s view of the sunset or simply because a zoning board member thought it looked "aesthetically appalling" when seen in a dream.

In the past few months, a move has been suggested by moralists to "zone" the Internet. Thwarted by the US Supreme Court in their efforts to censor the Internet of all things they find "offensive" through the Communications Decency Act, they have picked up the dissenting view of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and demanded that the Internet be "zoned" by creative use of domain names.

Domain names are the addresses used to find certain sites on the Internet. Most sites have simple domain names like to identify themselves to the public. Most domain names have suffixes that end with .com (commercial), .net (network), .org (organization), .gov (government), .edu (educational), or the two letter suffix of certain nations. Recently, the control of domain name registration has been under dispute, and the whole realm of domain names would be opened up, allowing more suffixes.

In theory, sexually-explicit material would be given a new domain suffix, such as .xxx or .sex, that would clearly identify the site as one pertaining to sex. So for a publication like Penthouse, they would go from to online. Moralists contend that this would make it a whole lot easier to block out sites they would deem to be offensive to themselves and to children, no different in application than the scarlet "Brand X" letter they pin on movies and video tapes.

But who determines which sites get the dreaded "Brand X" suffix? And what would those standards be?

For instance, would news that discussed President Clinton’s alleged dalliances with a White House intern in detail mean that the site would get the "Brand X" suffix? It is, after all, a mature subject matter not meant for children. Will "established" news sites like MSNBC or CNN have to use "Brand X" suffixes if they want to discuss such issues?

Or how about organizations that deal with adult-oriented topics like breast cancer or AIDS? Will groups like the American Cancer Society, or the Center for Disease Control have to change their suffixes to .sex in order to get discuss these issues?

How about adult publications that discuss serious news issues? Playboy Magazine comes to mind. Last year, Playboy made news by publishing online what they contended was a confession from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to his lawyers before his conviction. Playboy also has a history of interviewing politicians and celebrities whose words make the news. Jimmy Carter’s admittance of having "lust in his heart" made news back in 1976. Clint Eastwood, the legendary actor and one-time mayor of a small town in California, created a few headlines by saying for the first time he was a libertarian. This year Mike Tyson’s interview in Playboy also caught the attention of the press. Would this be considered news or sex?

And whose standards would apply in getting this "Brand X" suffix? Remember that the Internet is a GLOBAL domain, not just confined to America. (A fact that I am often reminded of by my international readers.) What would be appropriate even in the most conservative of US regions would still be considered pornography in certain Islamic countries. Would Sports Illustrated have to censor its online publications when the swimsuit issue comes out in order to escape the "Brand X" suffix? Would a site dedicated to "Baywatch" episodes have to be given the "Brand X" suffix even though they would only show people in swimsuits? Would Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s Of Hollywood have to get "Brand X" suffixes on their online catalogues because they deal in lingerie?

Let’s be brutally honest here. The moralists don’t want to answer those questions, because it throws a kink in what they would deem to be a flawless counterattack against free speech in America, if not the whole world. Essentially this is CDA-lite, the regulation of content of speech that the US Supreme Court declared in ACLU Vs Reno was a gross violation of the freedom of speech guaranteed in the US Constitution.

But if moralists want to "zone" the Internet, why not take a different approach? Instead of trying to corral speech that some moralist would deem offensive, why not create a domain suffix called .kid for all the sites deemed child-friendly? That way, instead of trying to get the whole world to bow down to the ravings of paranoid social busybodies, they can create a small subsection of the Internet that they know kids can access without concern.

Think about it. Parents can then limit access on their browsers to exclude anything that doesn’t have a .kid suffix on it and know that their kids will only be able to go to child-friendly sites on the Internet. News agencies can also create special child-friendly news sites like www.kidscnn.kid without having to censor their main news sites. You know that toy companies and cereal companies will be quick to pick up on this new .kid suffix and create child-friendly sites of their own. And because you’d have to apply to get a .kid suffix, you have some control over the kind of sites that would be allowed to appeal to kids. This is not an unrealistic level of control, since the domain suffix .edu is under similar control to ensure it is being used by legitimate educational institutions.

Perfect, right? Kids would be able to surf the web without concerns from parents, and the freedom of speech would still be intact because only a small portion of the Internet would be self-regulated, allowing free speech to reign unhindered everywhere else.

There’s just one problem - the parents. Moralistic parents are incredibly stubborn and self-centered. They refuse to do to themselves what they expect the whole world to do in the name of their children. When faced with the burden of responsibility, they feign both ignorance and incompetence in order to get government to do their bidding. The same amount of time used to sit down and figure out how to use the Internet safely, they instead spend calling up their legislators and complain that the Internet is a danger to their kids. The same amount of money that could be spent on manuals or seminars on how to use Internet browsers so they can be more aware than their own kids, is instead sent to special interest groups who lobby Congress to limit speech to what would be "safe" or "child-friendly".

Then there’s the real motivation behind the "zoning" – so moralists can force service providers to censor out those sites. As long as the onus is on the parents to monitor their children, the self-appointed crusaders of self-righteousness have little power over what they deem to be offensive, be it sex, language, or violence. If they can’t place the burden on government, they’ll try to place the burden on the providers of that information. They just need one central location that they can point fingers at, blame, cajole, penalize, punish, and coerce into submission. They have zero leverage on a one-to-one basis with individuals.

Remember folks, the moralist acts not out of concern for their own children, nor of your own, but rather out of fear and doubt of the strength of their own beliefs. They are terrified of other people having thoughts that are different than their own, and thus want the whole world to kowtow to their beliefs.

Zoning power is a legitimate power that has already been abused badly without feeding it to the Internet. It has its uses, but not when it concerns the content of speech or expression.

Monday, December 7, 1998

Week of 12/07/1998

A Filtering Quandary
A Fine Line Being Crossed?
- by David Matthews 2

On November 23rd, a federal district judge ruled that the Loudoun County Library System in Virginia cannot use filtering programs on their Internet-connected computers. The decision was seen as a blessing to free speech supporters and yet another blow to censorship-happy moralists.

But was it that simple?

Don’t get me wrong, folks. I haven’t sold my soul to the religious wrong or changed my mind about Internet censorship. However, the issue of filtering software is not as cut-and-dry as the media would have us think.

Filtering software operates on a very simple premise - if you know the URL of the site that contains offensive material, you can block that site to anyone who doesn’t have a certain password. The catch, however, is to know which site contains offensive material, and many of the filtering companies offer regular updates to their customers.

It’s not a perfect system to safeguard against kids finding offensive materials, and that has been the complaint by power-addicted moralists who placed their support on heavy-handed censorship legislation like the Communications Decency Act and the Child Online Protection Act (also known as CDA 2).

But when the CDA was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, a strange reversal of direction occurred. Pro-freedom groups like the American Library Association, who once welcomed the support of filtering groups like Surf Watch against the CDA, were suddenly against filtering software. Worse yet, the ALA started referring to them as "censorware." Moralists were quick to pick up on this loss, and started to use government to mandate such filtering software be used for public facilities that have access to the Internet. That led us, once again, to the courts.

Now let’s be brutally honest here. NO system will be 100% effective in keeping kids away from sites that parents deem to be offensive! It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about censorship legislation, filtering software, online ratings systems, or domain name zoning regulations. The ONLY way to make sure that kids don’t access offensive materials online is to not let them go online in the first place. But with the whole world telling you that you have to have your kids online, that isn’t too realistic.

Perhaps one of the worst decisions our elected officials made has been trying to rush EVERY school and EVERY library online without considering the realities of the Internet. The Internet is perhaps the ultimate haven of free speech, a place where any voice can be heard, no matter if that voice is offensive. It was never designed for the kind of supervised access online services like Prodigy, CompuServe, MSN, or America Online provide. But that access is there, and now the problem is trying to deal with it without trampling on the freedom of speech that has been reaffirmed in the courts.

The moralists already have the easy option - reduce the level of online speech to that acceptable for a minor. It is unconstitutional, anti-American, unrealistic, and virtually unenforceable without creating the tyranny they so covertly desire. Worse yet, moralists like Bruce Taylor and Donna Rice-Hughes are ever quick to jump on the censorship soapbox with snake-oil claims of "rabid porn addicts" that hearken back to days of Joe McCarthy’s ever-changing and non-existent "communist" list. Their constant ramblings of over-exaggerated bogeymen continue to demonstrate how moralists have been, are, and will continue to be a great disservice to America.

The only realistic option when dealing with the Internet is the same one for any medium of communication: personal responsibility. That means that parents, not government officials, need to do their jobs as parents and screen computer access.

That brings us back to the issue of schools and libraries.

You know folks, I’m in a bit of a quandary when it comes to filtering software. I have for many years now pushed the use of filters as an alternative to government censorship. Many corporations use similar measures at the workplace, and have done so apparently with the blessings of the courts. Yet at the same time, some filter programs have been just as restrictive as moralists would have government be. Certainly the exchange of information which the Internet promises cannot be met to libraries where that information is the key to such an institution. Somewhere, there has to be a balance between protecting kids and censoring adults.

Loudoun County made a fatal error in dictating that ALL computers with Internet access must have filtering software, and then set some of the most restrictive filters available. Their result then was to censor speech, not to "protect children," as they claimed they were doing. It was the blanket censorship policy that the court found unconstitutional, not the filtering software itself.

So what must school administrators and library officials do, then?

For starters, much like some libraries now have sections devoted to children and sections devoted to adults, computer access in libraries needs to be equally divided - filtered for children, unfiltered for adults. Parents should be aware that even with the best filtering systems, some "offensive" materials may still be accessed, so they should not let their kids surf the Internet unsupervised. The Internet is no more of a babysitter than would the television set, and should never be used as such.

Administrators should also review their filtering software periodically to see if the wrong material is being filtered. Censoring out every site with the word "breast" also means censoring out sites that deal with breast cancer, a fact that one adult Loudoun library user found out herself. It’s not an easy process, but one that must be done. They should also set "acceptable use" policies concerning things like sites to visit, spamming, downloading files, etc. and have those policies visible for all users to see.

Internet filters are a wonderful tool, but they are not perfect, nor should they be used in substitute of personal responsibility. That goes for home use as well as use in the libraries and schools.

Monday, November 30, 1998

Week of 11/30/1998

The Brutally Honest Holiday Wish List
- by David Matthews 2

Okay, boys and girls, I hope all my fellow Americans gave yourselves a generous serving of Thanksgiving chow, because now’s the time for you to tighten up those belts you just loosened and start the madcap spending spree for Christmas presents.

I’ve been inundated by family members on what to get for me for Christmas. "What do you want?" they keep asking me. The hardest part is telling them stuff that they can get for me.

It’s not that I don’t have anything I want or need. God knows I have plenty of things that I both want and need! The problem is that most of these things people can’t buy in a store.

So while family members go searching through the stores for the knickknacks that they can wrap up with a bow and put under the tree, I’ll extend to you, my Internet readers, my OTHER holiday wish list - the Brutally Honest Holiday Wish List. (You probably saw that one coming, didn’t you?)

I used to start my wish list with the same thing every year - a date with a Playboy Playmate. This year, however, there have been several factors that have caused me to reconsider that wish. The first one being the realization that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more and more burned out emotionally. The second reason is that some of my new regular readers happen to be Playmates (unfortunately all of them are married, engaged, or otherwise involved with someone else), and I’ve gotten to know them through e-mail, and I will hopefully know even more of them in March during my work with Glamourcon Atlanta. So I guess that might be considered as close as I can get to having a date with one of these beautiful women.

I wish the stores could hold off on the Christmas merchandise until AFTER Thanksgiving. Anyone notice that the trees and lights were being put on the shelves before the Halloween costumes? I saw more stuff on elves and Christmas long before I even saw one turkey commercial! At this rate, the next generation of kids will be getting Christmas sales just before the Fourth of July! "Hey kids, before you get those back-to-school goodies, why not get your Christmas shopping done early?"

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I would like just ONE Christmas season where we aren’t hearing news about the rabid demand for the newest toy. Just this past weekend, two women were injured in Illinois just trying to get one of the Furby dolls. C’mon folks, is this REALLY worth acting like idiots over? I want every parent who is bitten by this "must buy now" bug to watch the movie "Jingle All The Way" about a hundred times before they try to look for Furby. Maybe after seeing their own greed and guilt lived out on the screen will bring some sense into them.

I know I’m going to piss off a few people with this, but I wish I could find just ONE radio station that I can listen to the news without having to go through endless sports talk or mindless commercials. Just give me the news, I don’t care what the star quarterback’s latest zit looks like or how it might interfere with his performance. I don’t want to know how much more money some athlete with a Clinton-like agent will be making next year. The only time that stuff will interest me is when I go to a game and wonder why one has to take out a second mortgage just to buy a hot dog and a thimble-sized cup of Coke. I want to know how bad the traffic is on the roads. That’s the stuff that really matters. Save me from the wretched pseudo-talk about the latest long-distance calling plan. They can dial 10-10-KISS-OFF for all I care. I want to know how many more freedoms will be legislated away from me by our local, state, and federal politicians. I’d much rather hear about that than the latest faux pas from Dennis Rodman.

I would love to get a REAL tax cut. You know, the kind where you have less money taken away from you in taxes and more money in your paycheck. That’s a real tax cut. Not this phony "tax credit" that the Republicans and Bill Clinton keep saying is a tax cut. That’s not a "tax cut," that’s a complicated government IOU that ends up making them more money in interest than we will ever get in benefits.

I would love to have every politician REALLY be held accountable to their actions. They like sitting in judgment of other people’s actions? They want to talk about personal responsibility? Fine, put THEIR homes and businesses at stake as well. After all, that’s what politicians want to do with other people’s businesses. Why not make the stakes even? It’s easy for politicians to outlaw and regulate everything in sight when they themselves have nothing at stake. Maybe if they start losing their homes and businesses and cars they might think twice about sitting in judgment of other people.

Of course, the spirit of the holiday season is giving as well as getting, so here are some brutally honest wishful gifts I would give out:

To Bill Gates and Microsoft, I would give them some of the political consultants that ran the 1996 and 1998 elections. You know the ones - the kind that made the voters so disgusted at every political candidate, including the incumbents, that they stay at home on election day. Maybe after some attack ads against the government, Janet Reno and company would be a bit leery of taking them to court on a continual basis.

To members of Congress, for all they’ve done this year in terms of the in-fighting, the efforts to censor free speech, the hypocrisy, the lying, and the continual defrauding of the United States, I can only think of one appropriate gift - a Stooge slap. You know the kind - open palm, right across the face, just like Moe did to Larry and Curly. Just get all five hundred plus members of the House and Senate in one line and get someone to drive by in a golf cart for one collective colossal Stooge slap right across the kisser. It’s certainly neither Christian nor libertarian, but I think it would be the next best thing to a massive recall effort, and it would show our disgust quite well.

To Bill and Hillary Clinton, I’d give them, and this country, the one thing they so desperately need - a deserted island someplace where they can work out all their difficulties. Hillary can call herself the queen of the island and organize all the social programs she wants to without worrying about Congress getting in her way, and Bill won’t be "tempted" by all those women. Matter of fact, I believe the chances of him scoring at all on that island would be between slim and none, so he won’t have any scandals there to worry about.

To the US Department of Justice, the best gift of all would probably have to be a little investigation by the Office of Independent Council. Or better yet, an antitrust lawsuit of their own to worry about. Why not? After all, the US government is the biggest monopoly in the world! Should serve them right to have their own affairs probed through like a proctologist after filing so many antitrust lawsuits.

And last but not least - to all the moralists out there, the only gift they truly deserve is a life, so they can leave the lives of everyone else alone.

Well, that’s not too much to ask for, is it?

Monday, November 23, 1998

Week of 11/23/1998

There’s Something About Critics
- by David Matthews 2

There was a movie out in the theatres this summer called "There’s Something About Mary." The story was almost irrelevant to the amount of humor that exists while poking fun at the human anatomy in various and rather obnoxious ways.

Personally, it’s not a movie I would want to watch in the theatres. Not because I don’t think it’s funny, but simply because the studio’s constant playing of their commercials that made me sick to my stomach.

Still, the movie brought in plenty of box office money to 20th Century Fox, and you can’t deny it was a sleeper hit. But it was a hit that was much in denial with the one group Hollywood relies on almost as much as the box office receipts - the critics.

Critics moaned at some of the outrageous humor of the movie, suggesting that the movie was just typical of this generation’s trash-talking attitudes towards life. How shallow they’ve become, or have they already forgot about a certain movie called "National Lampoon’s Animal House?" What "Mary" inadvertently put in her hair is almost as sick as Flounder doing pushups face-first in horse fertilizer!

Still, there’s something to be said about critics - they are at times the hardest of groups to please.

I say that from experience. When you boil off the colorful rhetoric and the lighthearted humorous banters, you’ll find I’m nothing more than just a critic of society and of politics in particular. Members of the online Playboy Mailing List also know me as a critic of CD-ROM programs and quite recently into videos. So yes, I am a critic as well.

As a critic, then, I find it incredibly hard for me at times to sit down and read some of the works of my brethren.

The hardest especially has to be the film critics. You know, there are many film critics who seem to use "Gone With The Wind" as their measuring stick to judge any film. Big budgeted movies with lots of dialogue, emotion, a sanitized view of sex and violence, and family values that only a Republican member of Congress would love, seem to be the only films these critics appreciate.

Mind you, what the critics love are okay movies, if you like long and boring presentations that seem to drag on and on. Unfortunately, they created an incentive for these snoozer flicks - the Academy Awards. I mean, let’s face it - the Academy Awards weren’t created to celebrate the movies that the people liked; they’re there to encourage people to see these long and boring presentations, because otherwise they’ll be held to public standards that their own intellectual minds could not handle.

Fortunately, most people don’t go to see long and boring presentations. Some folks want action, others want horror, and others want slapstick comedy that will blow their freaking minds. But that doesn’t matter to many a film critic because in their minds, these movies are no worse than the Grade-Z straight-to-video movies that are made.

An equally annoying trend is coming from my brethren social critics like Rush Limbaugh, who look at movies and try to compare them to our sitting president. I don’t know about you, but the only movie that mirrors Bill Clinton’s life is "Primary Colors." Instead, however, Limbaugh bemoans movies like "Independence Day" and "An American President" as being pro-Clinton propaganda simply because they feature presidents who aren’t old enough to qualify for AARP benefits. Perhaps "An American President" could be seen in that light to people like Limbaugh, because the antagonist in that movie was a conservative who was running for higher office and preyed on the incumbent’s liberal past. But the automatic assumption that ANY film that features a president who appears to be young enough to remember his last night of sex to be nothing more than a propaganda push for the current Gigolo-in-Chief is pushing it.

The latest critic comes from Steven Brill, the creator of Court TV. His latest creation is the publication "Brill’s Content," which takes a look into the media itself. His publication started in a sensational manner by questioning the leaks made by Judge Kenneth Starr and the Office of Independent Council investigating the Clinton Administration. It ruffled feathers not only amongst the OIC and Congress, but also in the media, and perhaps rightly so.

Critics do serve a purpose in society in that they keep society on their toes. They question the course of human events, and in some cases bring change to those events. Critics serve as that last vestige against complete complicity by a society to one singular idea.

It’s important to remember, however, that critics are, by nature, hard to please. Trying to placate every critic is impossible. Even trying to placate most of them is a challenge. But they should not be completely ignored either.

Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said that you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. That’s why there are critics.

Monday, November 16, 1998

Week of 11/16/1998

Acts of Terror
Terrorism is already in America, it’s just under a different name
- by David Matthews 2

In the motion picture "The Siege," we are exposed to a federal government pushed to the limit to stop the actions of a terrorist group causing havoc in New York. A bus is taken hostage and then destroyed. A nightclub is bombed. And to find this terrorist leader responsible, New York is put under martial law, complete with tanks and checkpoints and internment camps.

But we always tell ourselves that it really isn’t happening. That terrorism is just something you hear in the news over in the Middle East or in Northern Ireland. It can’t happen here in America.

What bunk!

Let’s be brutally honest here folks, terrorism has been here in America for years! Do you think that the explosion in the World Trade Center a few years back was a freak act of God? No, of course not. It was an act of blatant terrorism. How about the federal building in Oklahoma City? Yes, that too was an act of terrorism.

Okay, you then say, those were isolated incidents. How about the siege mentality that grips people in Ireland or Israel on a daily basis?

How about a worker at an abortion clinic, never knowing when some rabid pro-life fanatic will open fire on them even in the safety of their own homes? Or a furrier who is worried that his or her livelihood will be ruined because of an animal rights group who decides to open up their pens and let the animals run loose? You know, it wasn’t too long ago that we heard of incidents of "spiking," when environmentalists would run metal spikes into trees so that any chain saws that cut into them would shatter on contact. You want to be a woodsman with that thought always on the back of your mind?

The fact of the matter is, we’ve HAD terroristic acts here in America for quite some time. We’ve just never called them for what they are. A guy who plants bombs at abortion clinics and gay nightclubs is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "deranged individual." A guy who kills abortion workers with a sniper rifle is not called a terrorist, he’s simply a "fanatic." A group of people who spike trees or cause damage to furriers aren’t terrorists, they’re simply "radical activists." We’ve used so much "soft language" (to use George Carlin’s terminology) that we cannot tell the difference between the true terrorist and the truly peaceful protester.

But, of course, we have no such soft language for terrorism that occurs outside of our borders. A guy who blows up a bomb in the middle of a crowded square in Israel is not called a "radical activist;" he’s a terrorist, plain and simple. The guy who blows up a police station in Ireland is not called a "spirited crusader;" he’s called a terrorist.

The failure to call terrorists for what they are only serves to further legitimatize their actions. Terrorists are able to hide their actions as simply being another form of protest. They’re able to blend into a crowd that much more easily, and gather support for their actions. After all, who can object to a "spirited crusader" to your cause? Never mind that this particular "spirited crusader" would rather do their protesting with phony anthrax threats and high powered sniper rifles.

Look folks, the history of America’s birth as a nation wasn’t without acts of violence either. We didn’t pick up picket signs and chant "We Shall Overcome" when facing the British soldiers. The Boston Tea Party wasn’t a casual affair - it was an act of violence against the established government. In other words, a terrorist act. Similar actions were also caused against British tax collectors at the time. Ever hear of the term "tar and feather?" That wasn’t just a figure of speech back then, as tax collectors found out first hand. That, too, was a terrorist act.

We need to really differentiate between the peaceful protester and the acts of terror, and call them for what they are instead of hiding behind the "soft language" that has allowed those terrorist actions to continue operating in the shadows of protesters. The whole purpose of terrorism is to strike fear into the heart of their victims. To make them fearful of their lives. It has no purpose to be associated with a peaceful protest, where the purpose is really not to intimidate but to dissuade actions without resorting to violence.

Monday, November 9, 1998

Week of 11/09/1998

Election 98 - Winners And Losers
Some real shockers here!
- by David Matthews 2

Well the congressional election season has come and gone, and once again, the bulk majority of voters continued to play their roles as bumps on a log and stayed home. I guess they really don’t care about how much taxes they have to pay, or the kinds of laws that will further infringe on their freedoms, because in many states those kinds of initiatives were up for direct public vote. I just hope they don’t try to complain about it later on, because frankly they have no more grounds to complain.

But for those who DID show up at the polls, it was a time of a few surprises. Perhaps the biggest has to be the race in the state of Minnesota.

Okay folks, say it with me now: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

I know, I know, it sounds strange, but let’s try it again: Jesse "The Governor" Ventura.

Yes, that is perhaps the biggest change of them all. Who would have guessed that a former professional wrestler known for wearing a feather boa and tie-dye shirts would become the governor of Minnesota? And on a third party ticket, no less!

The upset victory of Jesse "The Body" is but one of the many changes in this election. Here now is a short list of winners and losers of the 1998 election season:

Winners: The Democratic Party

Losers: The Republican Party

The victory is more of a morale win for the Democrats. They were able to get more of their supporters to the ballot box than in previous years, and thus stopped the GOP power grab in Congress. Worse yet, big GOP names such as Senator Alphose D’amato and Governor Fob James were sent packing because of this.

Winners: Moderate Views

Losers: Conservative Extremism

There were many news events which brought the hammer down against the extremist support. The march of the Klu Klux Klan in Gainesville, Georgia, the murder of a clinic doctor in New York by an unknown sniper, the beating death of an openly gay man, and the attacks of abortion clinics by false anthrax threats all made the public very weary of hard-line conservative issues.

Yes, some conservative measures were passed in the states. Voters in Hawaii and Alaska allowed the legislature to ban same-sex marriages. Voters in Michigan rejected a law that allowed physician-assisted suicide. But four states also passed laws that legalized the use of medicinal marijuana, and Arizona voters rejected a bill that would have gutted their 96 vote to approve the substance for patients. Many states rejected "partial-birth" abortion measures, and voters in California allowed the legislature to establish gambling casinos on Native American reservations.

The message to the politicians was simple and resounding - stay in the middle and don’t rock the boat!

Winners: Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Third Party Candidates

Losers: Politics-as-usual

The election of the first Reform Party candidate in a major campaign race ends much of the drivel from Democrats and Republicans about third parties being a "spoiler" vote or a "wasted" vote. As "The Body" himself said - "Well that vote just wasted them!"

Jesse didn’t try to outspend his opponents. He certainly couldn’t afford to. He didn’t even have a television ad until near the end of the race. He got in because of name recognition and he offered the voters something they liked. Hopefully, there will be more of that in the future.

Winners: Those who voted

Losers: Partisan Mudslinging

According to some early reports, this was the most anemic voting turnout in US history, and it once again played right into what I have been saying for years - the politicians do not want you to vote!

But for those of us who DID vote, we were pissed, and we let the politicians know that. We’re tired of the mudslinging and the name-calling. And some of the biggest and dirtiest of the players involved got their butts kicked, including D’amato, and Georgia’s Guy Millner and Mitch "The Bitch" Skandalakis.

Winners: Bill Clinton and Camp Clinton

Loser: Newt Gingrich

A demoralizing draw by Republicans assures Big Bubba Spin that he won’t be impeached from office. It also means many of his liberal, moralistic programs will have a better chance of being passed through Congress.

As for Gingrich, the failure to capitalize on the 94 GOP revolution and continue it to the 98 elections has cost him dearly. Conservatives, eager to point a finger at somebody to blame for their own failures have asked Gingrich to fall on his own sword. He won re-election in his own district, but he apparently has lost the war, and it has cost him not only his position as Speaker of the House, but also his job as a member of the Congress.

Winners: Medical Marijuana

Losers: The Drug War Generals

State by state, the move towards legalizing medicinal marijuana use is growing, much to the regret of the White House and the supporters of the War on Drugs. Their forces may shut down legal clubs, they can violate the Constitution, and they can threaten doctors for exercising their right to freedom of speech, but they cannot stop the movement.

Maybe we need to brush up on our history lessons here. History as in Prohibition. Lessons as in what that "war" did to us. Prohibition did not stop liquor, nor did it put liquor distributors out of business. It did, however, cause endless troubles in terms of binge drinking and to further hinder efforts to cure the legitimate problem drinkers. We lost that war, and continue to lose it when we fail to recognize the lessons of that failure.

These are but some of the lessons that came from the 98 election season. It was a costly season, to be sure. Politicians and special interest groups paid big bucks to keep you, the average voter, from the ballot box, and to keep their jobs.

Imagine the surprises that could have come if the rest of the voters showed up!

Monday, November 2, 1998

Week of 11/02/1998

More Election Time Rants
Because one batch of rants is never enough for politics
- by David Matthews 2

You know, it’s sort of appropriate that election day in America is just a few days after Halloween, because all during the month of October, our politicians put on their own versions of masks, and go parading about tricking the voters into giving them their treats.

Although, personally, I agree with the comedian Gallagher when he said that election day should be on the same day as tax day. I’d take it even one further, and have the polling places at the post office on that day, so when you drop off your tax forms in the mail slot, you’d have no excuse not to take a few extra minutes and express your dissatisfaction about those taxes where it really mattered! Matter of fact, I think that’s one of the reasons why tax day is set so far outside the campaign season - so we don’t get pissed off when we should and vote out all these politicians on a regular basis.

But let’s face it, part of the reason why these over-hyped swindlers and control freaks get into office in the first place is because of the actions of you, the voting public. We’ve gone over some of the tricks and tactics of our professional hucksters, now we need to examine the other side of the con - the American voter. So let’s look at some of the voting myths and tall tales:

Everyone Votes - The common myth is that only the people who get to the voting booths are the only ones who vote. The brutally honest reality is that EVERY adult votes on election day, it’s simply a matter of deciding if they will cast a ballot or let other people vote for them.

The non-vote is probably the most influential of votes in today’s election. We’ve gone over this subject many times, and it is still worth repeating - today’s politicians don’t want you to vote unless you are unquestionably on their side! If they can’t count on you to be 100% devoted to their campaign, they would rather have you sit at home or at work, doing nothing. And the old saying in politics is quite true - "If you don’t vote, then my vote counts twice!"

If you don’t vote, you vote for the status quo. Every non-vote means you the voter don’t care enough about the political system to want to change it. You don’t like the system, but you don’t want to do anything about it.

"My Vote Doesn’t Matter" - Just ask Bonnie Richardson about that. She was running for a seat on the City Council for Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico this past March. Small town, population of 1300 people. When all the votes were cast and counted, including the absentee votes, she lost by ONE vote.

I realize that the lull of the collective mentality is so strong that it may make your one vote seem insignificant in comparison, but history is replete with instances where one single vote was the deciding factor in monumental events. We would have never gone to war with England if not for one deciding vote. The decision of many states to be either a "free" or a "slave" state, a decision that precipitated the American Civil War, were decided by just one vote. Presidents have been elected by the influence of one electoral vote. Many a Supreme Court decision has been decided upon by just one vote.

Think about all the elections in your area where the candidates are running at a virtual dead head in the polls. One vote could very much decide their outcome.

"I don’t want to waste my vote" - Folks, this is probably the most lamest of excuses. The only way you can waste your vote is to cast your non-vote by staying away from the ballot box. If you go to the polling place and vote, your vote is never wasted.

The 20% of the voting populace that voted for anybody but Bill Clinton or George Bush in the 1992 presidential election didn’t waste their votes! They sent a clear message to the politicians that they were upset at the current political system and wanted change. Every voter who votes for a third-party candidate says the same message.

"There aren’t any other candidates for me to vote for" - More zero-sum tripe! As a Libertarian, I know that there are PLENTY of alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans. The Libertarian Party, for example, has over EIGHT HUNDRED candidates out there on various state and local ballots. There are dozens of different political parties out there, all of which you can examine at sites like Project Vote Smart to determine who is on the ballot in which race.

Just because you only hear from the wealthiest of loudmouths doesn’t mean they’re the only ones out there!

"I don’t have the time to vote" - Perhaps the only legitimate reason why someone cannot make it to the polls. Look folks, I also have to work, and as it happens, Tuesdays are the longest of work days for me because I have to work late into the night. So what does that mean for me? That means I’ll be at the polling place bright and early when they open at seven in the morning! It’s really just a question of finding out when those hours are and being there. It may mean you’ll be a little late getting to work, or having to take a little longer lunch than usual, but if you can afford it, you really don’t have an excuse.

At a time when we still have to deal with instances of voter fraud, it’s ironic that there are so many voters with so many excuses not to vote. With career politicians pretending to care, and with pollsters so attentive as to who is and isn’t voting, it’s insulting to have polling places where volunteers spend more time reading books than doing the jobs they volunteered to do - help people exercise their responsibility as voters.

What will be your excuse?

Monday, October 26, 1998

Week of 10/26/1998

Do You REALLY Want To Know?
Should politicians have a personal life?
- by David Matthews 2

Picture this scene sometime in the near future:

Dateline: Washington DC - The political world was shocked to learn that Senator Joseph Blow of Tennessee had once engaged in a sexual activity. The two-term Republican was embarrassed to admit that he had engaged in sexual intercourse, but he said he was young and foolish.

"I cannot lie about my actions," Blow said in his speech. "I did engage in a sexual act, but it was with my wife and it was to fulfill my marriage obligations to her. However, I have since abstained from any kind of sexual activity."

Blow’s admittance of sexual intercourse is the latest in a string of allegations between him and his Democratic contender, Charlie "Hip" O’Cryte. Hip O’Cryte is the leader of the conservative-conservative group "Families Against Sex in Tennessee." Speaking from his campaign headquarters, the leader of FAST called Blow a disgrace to the state.

"It’s time we recognize that sexual activity, even between man and wife, is a sign of ultimate degradation in society. It pains me to know that such a perverted man can think he can serve the just and moral people of this great state!"

Hip O’Cryte continued to deny allegations, however, that he himself engaged in solo sexual activity in his youth, claiming that he has a right to privacy about his juvenile past.

Sounds a bit absurd, doesn’t it?

Well it should, but that is the pattern we will be heading towards in the political arena!

As the sex-and-lies scandal that is the Clinton Administration continues in its soap opera zeal, politicians are engaging in a form of damage control, making sure that their own closets are clean of any similar skeletons.

Not everyone is escaping this sexual witch hunt intact, however. Three Republicans in Congress were revealed to having extramarital affairs in their pasts. This outraged members of Congress, not for the affairs, but rather that the probe into such activity was starting to include them.

So now the question has surfaced - Should politicians be entitled to a private life?

Europeans think so. Many Europeans cannot understand why we Americans are so obsessed with the President’s sex life. They think that the President should be left alone when it comes to his sexual past, and any affairs should be a matter left between him and his wife.

But too many Americans say that they are entitled to know what a politician does while he or she is serving the public. Their rationality is that a politician serves the public trust 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and as such, they must be constantly under scrutiny, and that the public is entitled to know what that politician is doing at all times.

Folks, this is just sheer and utter lunacy! How much of a politician’s personal life are we expected to know? If we feel entitled to know whether or not the politician in question is faithful to his wife, why not also know how often he engages in sexual activity with his wife? After all, if he isn’t pleasing her, she may be engaging in an extramarital affair of her own! And isn’t THAT just as scandalous?

And adultery isn’t the only "immoral" activity that certain social crusaders abhor. How about drinking? Maybe we should find out what kind of drinks our politicians partake in. And where. And how many.

While we’re in their kitchen, why not check the fridge to see what kind of food our politicians eat. After all, their pantries are stocked with food paid for with our tax money, right? We don’t want to have our politicians die because of poor health, do we?

Great, now we have ourselves determining if our elected officials eat the right kind of bran muffins for breakfast. Happy now? Maybe we should check his bowel movements while we’re at it, huh? Any volunteers from our neo-Orwellian crusaders?

Let’s be brutally honest here. Moralists who feel they need to know every aspect of a politician’s personal life don’t want to stop with that politician. Many moralists, especially those who consider themselves social conservatives, do not believe that ANYONE deserves a personal life, never mind a politician. All they need is an excuse to pry into people’s lives. It doesn’t matter if that excuse is for "family" or "God" or "country," if they can use it, they’ll be peering through your windows and into your bedrooms in a heartbeat.

On the other hand, it is the very hypocrisy of our politicians that have caused some of the most abhorrent actions in the name of "protecting families" and "preserving America." The ink was barely dry on the First Amendment when Congress and the White House violated it with the Alien and Sedition Act. Americans abhorred the actions of Nazi Germany against those they considered "undesirable," but were quick to intern all Japanese-Americans during the start of World War II. And more recently, Congress joyously voted to allow the Kenneth Starr Report to go online on their own servers, while at the same time voted to ban similar material from going online freely on commercial servers. When it comes to hypocrisy, you’ll find the US Government as a shining example of it.

So where should we draw the line?

Personally, I think that a politician, like anyone else, DESERVES a personal life that should be their own. When they’re not on the stump, they should deserve to live their lives as they see fit, just like we expect of ourselves. The same too for celebrities. If they invite us into their bedrooms, that’s one thing. But otherwise let them enjoy their life outside the limelight.

But there’s one caveat: If they decide to use their position to act as a judge of other people’s behavior, they had best be living up to their preaching! You want to talk about family values, you’d better not have any past mistresses lying in wait. You want to talk about the sanctity of marriage, you best not have any ex-spouses in wait. You want to talk about "addictive substances," you better have your own vices in check!

Conservatives and moralists may not like the brief public scrutiny into their personal lives, but in many cases it is an effect of their own creation. Those who feel it is their right and their role to peer into the personal lives of others must realize that their own lives would be scrutinized as well.

The moralists apparently have forgotten a little passage from a certain carpenter’s son: "Judge not, lest you be judged."

Monday, October 19, 1998

Week of 10/19/1998

Election Time Rants
- by David Matthews 2

Okay my fellow Americans, it’s the election season. That time when stuffy politicians come down off their lofty self-righteous positions and act like they really care about Joe and Jane Six-pack. The time when stupid commercials from the dysfunctional elite say "Vote for me, because I’m nothing like my incompetent opponent."

I also know that most eligible voters in America will do the stupidest thing in the world and not vote. Part of the reason will have to do with the time involved, but another will have to do with the candidates themselves. The campaigns have become dirtier than Pigpen at a Monster Truck rally in the middle of a sandstorm!

Folks, there is a reason why political campaigns have gotten dirtier and muddier than ever: THE POLITICIANS DON’T WANT YOU TO VOTE!

I’m serious. There is a direct correlation between dirty campaigning and political apathy. The dirtier the race, the fewer people that show up to vote. The new strategy for career politicians is this: since they already have their core group of voters, all they have to do is to make sure nobody else can show up with more votes against them. So they pick on the most arcane of past histories and the vaguest of reference points to use against their opponents. They use the most trivial of issues as their cause. And, of course, the other side does the same thing, because they know that such a dirty pool can dissuade the few remaining marginal voters who voted for the incumbent. They saturate the media with so much 100% pure methane that it becomes impossible to differentiate between one candidate or the other. The public gets disgusted, they assume the two parties are pathetic, whining children (which really isn’t far from the truth), and they stay home, leaving only the extremists who are loyal to the cause and have an agenda to push.

That’s how the game is played, folks! And you’re walking right into it when you decide that your vote doesn’t matter!

Isn’t it great to know you’re so gullible and predictable?

I have to laugh when I look at some of the bull that’s out there. I mean, the spin doctors and the political consultants really try to put one over on the voters. Let’s take a minute to look at some of the political tactics:

The "Would’ve Voted" Commercial - The commercial says that "Senator Dumbass voted NO for SB1234. Joe Blow says YES." So what else was in SB1234 to make Senator Dumbass vote no on it? Every single bill that’s presented to the legislature is chock full of pork and mealy-mouthed lawyer-speak that I don’t even think that the politicians themselves know half the time what’s in it. The spin doctors certainly don’t. Maybe SB1234 would’ve done the exact opposite of what it was intended to do. If that was the case, even if Dumbass voted for the bill, Joe Blow and his legion of spin doctors would’ve rode his ass for it and say that "Joe Blow says NO to SB1234." And then there’s the fact that, in many of these cases where this tactic is used, Joe Blow never held a public office in his life! How the hell would we know if Joe Blow would’ve voted for SB1234? Maybe he would’ve done the very thing Senator Dumbass did!

The Useless Words Hook - You know, I’m beginning to understand why politicians and political wannabes use catchwords like "family values" to death. It’s not that their opponents are against "family values," but rather they can’t say anything positive about what they’d do if elected!

So you’re a "family values" politician huh? Well, so supposedly was Adolph Hitler! What makes you any different?

The same goes out to the politicians who pride themselves on claiming to be "conservative." I mean, come on! Any politician that talks about changing the status quo is, by definition, NOT a conservative!

These are examples of useless words that the spin doctors and political consultants use to describe their candidates. But the problem is that they have been so used and abused that they no longer have any legitimate meaning. You might as well say one politician is "pro-spoon" rather than "pro-fork."

Guilt By Association - The new Republican campaign is a variation of the old "Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?" Theirs is "Do you now, or have you ever relied on Bill Clinton to campaign for you?"

The inference, of course, is that Bill Clinton is so politically toxic that any association with him means that candidate is just like Clinton. That includes the simple fact that Clinton represents the Democratic Party. So much for the "big tent" inference touted by both parties.

This tactic is not limited to scandalous unconstitutional presidents. Here in Georgia, the two leading candidates for lieutenant governor are campaigning on the meaningless "conservative, pro-family" stance, and are squabbling over who is associated to gay and lesbian groups. Mark Taylor claims Mitch Skandalakis used to associate himself with gay and lesbian groups to get elected on the Fulton County Commission. He did, but then, in true political fashion, stabbed them in the back. Skandalakis then countered by saying Taylor got an "endorsement" from the gay publication "Southern Voice." Which was true, but the endorsement was completely tongue-in-cheek, which means it wasn’t an endorsement at all. But try to explain that in a sound bite.

Using guilt by association is nothing more than a cheap tactic originally developed by lawyers to dispute damnable testimony, and perfected by politicians to further their careers.

When you look at this year’s political season, I hope every voter out there uses a very valuable tool. It’s not a "voters guide" or a cheap political slogan. What I want every voter in America to do is this - use your brains! That’s the most powerful tool you have against a politician. When all is said and done, politicians are nothing more than glitzy used car salesmen, and sometimes really bad ones at that. If they can’t sell it to you, they can’t control you.

Use your brains, people. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Reformist, Green, or even an American Communist. It doesn’t matter if you’re a conservative, liberal, libertarian, moderate, or autocrat. THINK about the choices out there.

Don’t let the politicians do your thinking for you.

Monday, October 12, 1998

Week of 10/12/1998

Target: Generation Y
Are The Boomers’ Progeny Ready For Prime Time?
- by David Matthews 2

Take heed, my fellow members of Generation X, our replacements in the pop scene have been discovered!

It seems like it was just yesterday that we were at the forefront of popular culture. We were the anti-Boomers. We were conformists when the Boomers were activists, and activists when the Boomers were conforming to authority. While Boomers were fighting for peace, we were fighting for the right to "PARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-TY!"

Anyone remember how we got the name "Generation X" in the first place? We got the moniker "X" because the sociologists couldn’t come up with a single term that best described our generation! We weren’t like the post-World War II Baby Boomers. There was no war to mark us like the "War Babies" of my parent’s generation, or a world depression like there was in the early 1930’s. Nope, nothing monumental that could mark us. So we were the "generic" generation.. Generation X.

Well now the torch has been passed to the children of the Baby Boomers. The sons and daughters who comprise of…. Generation Y?

I’m serious, fellow X-ers, I didn’t make that title up! Apparently the social experts who tracked us were too lazy to come up with an original moniker for the next generation. They simply moved up one letter.

And from the response from the media, the world seems ready for the new blood to take over the cutting edge from us. They deem Generation Y to be optimistic, eager to spend their money on new goodies, and activists on all the right causes.

Of course, they still have every right to be optimistic and idealistic about life. The oldest of the Gen-Y breed are just starting to venture out from the house. The college-bound have yet to suffer college-loan shock for a few more years. The job market is healthy.. for now. They have a few years of disposable money before getting hit with the burden of bills. Things look optimistic for them.. at least for now.

Of course, part of the reason why Generation X got such a bad rap was because the Boomers, not just Madison Avenue, couldn’t understand us. Let’s be brutally honest about this, we came in after the party was raided by the complicity police. Boomers had free love, we got the deluge of information about sexually-transmitted diseases and AIDS. There were no great causes that the Boomers had that interested us at the time. There was no great war for us to protest against. Race relations went from opening all doors of opportunity to keeping some of those same doors closed.

Then there was the hypocrisy of many of the Boomers as they matured. The generation that didn’t trust anyone over thirty did turn thirty, and became parents, and they didn’t want their kids to be like they were in their youths. The generation that followed them grew up watching this hypocrisy as it unfolded, and bore the brunt of their folly.

Madison Avenue didn’t get the joke when they saw the grunge scene. They tried to emulate the look of torn jeans and bargain-basement clothing in high fashion circles and then wondered why we were insulted by it. They didn’t realize that we weren’t trying to be fashionable, those were the only clothes we could afford to wear!

We in Generation X were depressing because we got stuck with the bill. The job market shriveled up. Downsizing was the name of the game. It’s hard to be optimistic when you find out that the minimum wage job you applied for was given to a Boomer who just lost his high-five-figure job and needs to feed his family. Members of Congress couldn’t even balance their own checkbooks, never mind the federal budget, and we were being told there would be no money in Social Security when the time comes for us to access it. And every time there was talk about fixing Social Security, the media would flash some geriatric on the screen screaming "this is OUR money, you can’t have it!" when they don’t realize that those same spendthrift politicians they keep electing were the ones who really spent "their" money. Given all those things, wouldn’t you be depressing?

Truth be told, the Boomers didn’t WANT to understand Generation X. They were too busy trying to raise Generation Y, living that life they once despised and though of as a joke.

Well now Generation Y has been discovered by the cutting edge, and for all that it’s worth, they’re welcome to the limelight.

Maybe they can be everything their parents wanted to be in their youth but couldn’t. Or perhaps they can be something better than their parents. More responsible, less hypocritical, and more realistic in how they see the world than their parents ever were. I would certainly hope it to be so, because I hate to see how "Generation Z" turns out if it doesn’t.

Monday, October 5, 1998

Week of 10/05/1998

Just A Sample..
Do you think DNA dragnets aren’t intrusive? Wait until it snags YOU!
- by David Matthews 2

Picture this: You’re sitting at home with your family, dinner’s almost ready, and there’s a knock at the door. You open the door to see two officers standing there, badges visible, squad car in the driveway.

"Good evening Mister Smith.. I’m Sergeant Joe Thursday, this is my partner, Officer Miranda Voided. Sir, we’d like to ask you to come down to the station with us to provide a DNA sample."

You wonder what’s going on. Are you a suspect in any crimes? Do you need to call an attorney?

"No sir, we don’t suspect you of any crimes, this is simply a precaution. You see, we’re investigating a number of crimes in the area, and we’d like to weed out any potential suspects by having people provide us with a sample of their DNA. It’s a fairly easy procedure. We’ll just take your picture, take some fingerprints, and then take a swap to the inside of your mouth for some skin samples. We can have you back home in an hour."

You tell them you’re uncomfortable being taken down to the police station like an ordinary criminal.

"Well Mister Smith, I can understand you feeling uncomfortable with all this. This is, after all, a new procedure for us, but it’s being used in Europe to crack down on their killers and rapists. I would think that an upstanding citizen like you wouldn’t hesitate to clear any possible connections to crimes and …. No, Mister Smith, I told you that we don’t consider you to be a suspect in any wrongdoing. But we want to eliminate you from any possible crimes, and we can’t do that if we don’t have a sample of your DNA to do it. You don’t want to be wrongly accused of a crime, do you?"

So you ask them what they’ll do with this DNA sample once they get it from you.

"What do we do with this data? Well, I really don’t know what happens to it. I assume they keep it on file for reference, but we really haven’t set any policy for how to handle it.

"Now, Mister Smith, we can’t force you to take part in this. This is completely up to you. But I want you to think about how suspicious it looks to have you refuse to take part in this. It may make us think you have something to hide. You wouldn’t want us to think that way, do you?"

Fantasy, you ask?

Try this is becoming REALITY!

You know, Americans tend to pride ourselves on the freedoms we claim to have. We like to think we’re NOT in some totalitarian regime or in a theocracy run by rabid religious extremists. And yet, one has to think about this kind of stuff and wonder how far America really is from being something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984!

Now, I have no problem with the advancement in technology that makes DNA testing more and more faster, easier, and affordable for police and prosecutors. In legitimate criminal court cases, DNA can make or break a case. DNA testing has freed many a wrongfully convicted person when all else has failed, and has served to cement a case when all other forms of evidence can be refuted.

Yet now that same speed in testing is being used as the excuse to collect as many DNA samples as possible of the general populace. A form of DNA "dragnet" is being used to collect samples from certain groups as a way to "narrow" a search. Police in some towns are using this in isolated cases, but others are wondering if this could be used on a regular basis, much like their counterparts in England have.

Their rationality is simple - people give up a little DNA sample from inside their mouth, it gets matched against DNA samples taken from crimes. Those samples match, they’ve got their criminal. They don’t match, you’re still free. No muss, no fuss, no attorneys, no warrants, no courts. Simple.

Too simple.

Unfortunately, the theory doesn’t match with how it has been used. In all the instances where genetic dragnets have been employed, there have been no instances where the genetic samples resulted in arrests! The only breaks in cases where such a procedure was used came from the dragnets themselves, not what was collected.

In other words, the only successful use of the genetic dragnets has been as a bullying tactic, exposing possible suspects by finding some way out of the tests. Still, the concept of collecting such information is seductive to law enforcement here in America.

Of course, the supporters of such a measure say there’s nothing wrong with genetic dragnets, that it’d be just another consequence of us living in a so-called "civilized" society. After all, look at the number of states where you’re asked to give up your fingerprints as part of your drivers license. How about those states where you have to give a breathalyzer test if the police suspect you of driving drunk? If you refuse, they take your license away on the spot. And how about the number of companies that require you to take a drug test as part of your employment? Certainly a violation of a person’s personal rights, yet it’s done nonetheless.

Let’s be brutally honest here, folks. There’s a difference between having to pee in a bottle for a job and having the police escort you to the station to give up a genetic sample. You don’t HAVE to work at that job, and if you refuse to take the test and don’t take the job, that’s all. But if you refuse to allow the police to take a genetic sample from you, you’re considered a suspect in a crime. That means they get to poke around in your life, follow you around, and try to find just WHAT IT IS you’re so guilty about!

Here’s a dirty little secret, folks: in the war on crime, the police do not recognize conscientious objectors. It’s often a zero-sum game, and you’re either with them or against them.

Now for those of you who think such a dragnet would be a great idea, I want you to go back to that scene at the top of this article. I want you to imagine how you would explain to your family and your neighbors that you had to go to the police station like a criminal, get fingerprinted and photographed like a criminal, and then had a genetic sample taken from your body like a criminal. Then explain to them that you didn’t do anything, and that you were just cooperating with the police. Oh, sure, they’ll believe you. Maybe. Or how about being rousted in the middle of your sleep? Or summoned from your job? You want to explain that situation to your boss?

Then there’s the fact that, like any other kind of police power, it can be abused. People in the Boston area may remember an incident about fifteen years ago where a successful white attorney called the police on his car phone to report that he and his wife were shot by a black man. Every single black male matching the brief description of the lawyer were rousted from their homes, taken to the local Boston PD district, fingerprinted, photographed, and put on a lineup for the attorney to identify. Every single civil rights group in the area was screaming about Gestapo tactics, which failed to bring forth a single suspect. It later turned out that the attorney had shot his pregnant wife and himself and blamed it all on a fictitious attacker for the sole purpose of collecting on the insurance. Unfortunately the attorney committed suicide before the truth came out. Now tell me, do you want that kind of situation happening in New York? Or Los Angeles? Or Atlanta? Or Birmingham?

Supporters claim that the whole procedure would be "voluntary," but that is a myth. There is no such thing as "voluntary" when it comes to government. Even George Washington has said that "government is not eloquence, it is not reason, it is force."

What about what happens to the samples once they are collected and a person is cleared of the current crime? Knowing the federal government and its obsession with information, there is no doubt that the Federal Bureau of Investigation would set up some kind of genetic database like they do fingerprints. Your genetic sample, encoded, in some database for anyone in the government to gain access to for any reason whatsoever. Yeah, that’s a reassuring thought.

Listen folks, there’s a reason why government has been limited to the kinds of intrusive searches other countries have allowed. Our country was formed on the basis that the individual should be free from government intrusion into their personal lives. It has also established a system of justice where someone is considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Those two concepts may not always be in fashion, but they have stood as safeguards against an over-intrusive government. That’s something our well-intentioned advocates of genetic dragnets can never guarantee, not matter how much they sugar-coat their goals.