Thursday, July 29, 2004

Summer Break

I am off to Atlanta for a long weekend of apartment hunting. May try to blog from there, if anything comes to mind. Otherwise, musclehead will be back next week.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


So, just as I am about to leave St. Louis, the city comes up with a good radio station (104.1, for those of you who live here). They play Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Jamie Cullum, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Mel Torme, etc. In other words, an amalgam of jazz, standards and swing. And, they turned me on to Jet Set Six, who are simply amazing. You can stream or download mp3 from the band's site. Give it a whirl. All the cool kids are.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Funny Campaign Slogan

I heard a radio commercial for this guy last night before bed. The funny part is that his last name Mohn is pronounced like M-O-A-N. Thus, the tag line- "stop whining and start Mohning"- is funny on so many levels.

Monday, July 26, 2004


So the decision is now final, musclehead will be relocating to Hotlanta, capital of the New South. It should make for an interesting couple of years for a New England liberal. I am looking forward to it, though.. I'm even going to buy a Braves hat tomorrow!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Guess Who I'm Going to Bash Here?

Professor Bainbridge, of course.. Anyone who has been paying attention recently must realize that my animus has moved from George Miserable Failure Bush to one of his more ardent supporter in the legal blogosphere.

In the post linked above, Bainbridge claims that the Catholic Church's Gospel of Life is the only morally and logically consistent position on issues of life. While I may not support the Church's teaching, I do respect those who adhere to its principles in toto. However, to cite the Gospel of Life as a weapon to bludgeon those of us who are pro-choice is a bit hypocritical, given that Bainbridge supported the Iraq war. The Gospel, as quoted by Bainbridge himself states, "Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder... whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself... all these things and others like them are infamies indeed."

If Bainbridge is to take this position in full, then why has he not opposed war, for surely that involves a "type of murder." And where was his outrage over the abuses at Abu Ghraib, as there surely fit within the category of "torments inflicted on body or mind." When Bainbridge becomes a pacifist and human rights crusader, which is the logical conclusion of the Church's Gospel of Life, then I will take him seriously when he bases his opposition to abortion on the Church's teaching. Hmm.. maybe Stephen Bainbridge is a cafeteria Catholic?

Sunday Book Recommendations

(Editor's note: I am hoping to make this a weekly feature of musclehead.)

69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess is a work of post-modern fiction by Stewart Home. A note of caution here- if you do not like pomo fiction or works by authors like George Bataille or Lautreamont, then you may not like this book. If, however, you are willing to suspend your notions of what a novel ought to be, in terms of form and linearity, then you are in for a treat. Home intersperses rock circles, a mannequin and fetishistic sex. And there are times when you are not sure who the narrator is, or even if any of these characters exist, except for in your own imagination. Think of this novel as a David Lynch movie- part dream sequence, part intellectual challenge, and no obeyance to linear storytelling.

Hey Nostradamus is Douglas Coupland's newest novel. I have to admit to not having been a fan of Coupland. I never quite understood the cult-like following he had among my GenX peers. I tried to read Microserfs on more than one occasion and never could get past page fifty or so. Then, last year I picked up All Families are Psychotic and became hooked. With Hey Nostradamus Coupland again shows his mastery of the modern world and the psyches of its inhabitants.

This is the story of a high school shooting spree and four lives that were effected by it. All of the four main characters is given a turn at narration. The book begins with Cheryl Anway, one of the victims of the massacre. Then the book progresses to her widower, Jason, who tells his tale eleven years after the event. Coupland also includes narration by Heather, who tries to love the remains of Jason, and of Reg, his overbearing religious father.

The book really is not about the massacre that took place in the high school cafeteria, but rather a meditation on how life events shape us and how religion, in its excesses, divides us as humans. Each of the four narrators deal with religion and spirituality in different ways. And despite their somewhat brief sketches, the reader becomes close to and involved in their stories. This is a pitch perfect narrative of modern times and how we all struggle with god and life's meaning.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

George Miserable Failure Bush is a Tax and Spend "Conservative"

According to this New York Times piece, the White House blocked a bill that would have extended middle class tax cuts. These cuts would have included an increase in the child tax credit, a reduction in the "marriage penalty", and expanding the 10% tax bracket to include more middle income families.

George Bush and his big government loving kind want to raise your taxes and spend your hard earned tax dollars on corporate welfare queens!!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Beckham on Fire

Ok.. so that is a tad bit off from reality. But I will say that the intruder, if he had any love for England or the game of soccer, should have been trying to break off Mr. Spice's legs and not trying to set fire to his home.

Illogical Logic

Bainbridge is at it again, folks. In the previously linked post, he links to this New York Times piece, which is the story of a woman who, upon finding out she was pregnant with triplets instead of a single child, opted to have two of the pregnancies terminated.

Bainbridge entitled the post "The Pro Choice Position taken to its Logical Extreme", which is about as accurate a portrayal of the situation as South Park is of elementary schoolchildren's lives. He goes on to say that, "this is the sort of casual immorality that the abortion culture - fostered by multiple Supreme Court decisions - has fostered in our society." Of course, if our society did not respect women and their reproductive decisions, and instead forced Bainbridge's and the Church's view on women, we would not have situations like this. One would imagine that Bainbridge also believes prior to Roe that women did not have abortions. That would be the logical conclusion to his statement.

Of course, the story told in the piece is deplorable. This goes beyond pro-choice/pro-life. However, the reality of choice, whether it be in reproductive decisions or others, is that people may make bad or even immoral choices. But Bainbridge, like others on the Religious Right fringe, does not believe that people should be free to make morally questionable decisions, because his Church has decided for all of us what is good and right. (snarky comment: isn't that the same Church that made the immoral choice of protecting pedophile priests?)

Saturday, July 17, 2004


Like the vast majority of Democrats, I am hoping for a Kerry-Edwards victory in the fall. In addition, I would like to win back one of the two houses of Congress. But only one. I do not want single party government for a number of reasons.

(1) Single party government promotes legislative efficiency at the expense of democratic deliberation. If you do not believe me, see as evidence the past three years.

(2) Single party government tends to trample on minority rights. Here I mean minority to refer to political, rather than racial groups.

(3) Single party government breeds arrogance in political leaders and fosters an atmosphere of infallibility.

(4) (this is the one that will get me into trouble) Unchecked political power breeds radical policy. In the current situation, this can be seen most prominently in foreign affairs and social policy. And while I do not wish to continue along this path, a country led solely by the Democratic Party would tend to be driven largely by a newly ascendant left wing within the Party.

My personal preference would be to reclaim the Senate and leave the House in GOP hands. The rationale for this is the Senate's power to confirm judicial nominees, which is important to me (obviously). But also, given the gerrymandering of House districts over the past three decades, House members tend to be more outside of the mainstream (right or left) and those with the most longevity are those with the safest (more liberal or conservative) districts. Put that together with the role of seniority in the chamber and you end up with some very left-leaning members running the House.

I believe that the combination of a Democratic White House, Senate and House would not be good for the country, nor for the Party. (This is not to say that I think the Democrats are any less capable of moderating their less mainstream members than the Republicans have been.) And, while I want my Party to be successful, I am an American first and a Democrat second.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Making a Difference

All too often we recognize and publicize the bad or evil things or people in our world, overlooking those men, women and children who make a difference in other folks' lives. We choose to abandon hope and draw inward, becoming cynical in the process. In short, we lose touch with the brighter side of humanity.

Fortunately, there are still some good people left in the world. People like George Weiss who has put millions of his own dollars into extending hope to inner city children. But Mr. Weiss goes far beyond a check and gives more than a small part of himself to these kids and this cause. The world needs more people like him.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Surviving Law School

A retired Florida judge refers to law school as a survival contest. And anyone who is in, or been through, this ordeal knows EXACTLY what he means.

(hat tip- jd2b)

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I'm Leaving.....

But I am still not sure of my destination. Today I was accepted to Emory Law and I am still waiting on a few others. I just may trade in the heat and humidity of St. Louis for that of Hotlanta. At least I'll be getting more city in the deal!

Picking Sides

The GOP and their minions on talk radio, the web and Faux News have been busy vilifying John Edwards for his career as a trial attorney and his lack of experience, which got me to thinking about each of the tickets member's prior professions. Let's take a look shall we?

Bush Cheney
Starting with the top of the ticket, what has George Bush done aside from being President? Well, there were his six years as governor of Texas. A couple of failed business ventures, a failed run for Congress, and some mean beach volleyball down in Alabama while others his age were dying in Vietnam.

On to Cheney.. immediately prior to becoming Vice President, Cheney had been CEO of Halliburton, the same folks who have been accused of overcharging American taxpayers by hundreds of millions on dollars on their no-bid Iraq contracts. Oh, and Cheney had also been a Congressman who vocally opposed Reagan's 1986 Tax Reforms. He's also held various cabinet positions in Republican administrations.

Kerry Edwards
John Kerry, as we all know is currently the junior Senator from Massachusetts (you know, the only state enlightened enough to recognize equal marriage rights), but prior to becoming Senator he held other government positions, including Lieutenant Governor and Assistant District Attorney. Kerry spent part of the 1960's in Vietnam, enlisting after graduating from Yale.

Ahh.. and now to John Edwards. Of course we know that he was a trial attorney and that he is now a Senator from North Carolina. The son of working class parents, he worked his way through college and law school.

Now, Bush-Cheney and their minions are smearing John Edwards as a trial attorney and as someone lacking experience. Let's take the latter one first. Edwards has been a US Senator as long as George Bush was Governor when he was "elected" President. Now, tell me who you think might have a better grasp of foreign policy- a US Senator or a Governor. The last time I checked the Constitution, foreign policy was within the sole power of the federal government. Sure, Bush had some dealings with his neighbors in Mexico, but the danger posed by Mexican trucks entering the US is a bit less weighty than nuclear proliferation, terrorism or Middle East peace.

But what about greedy trial lawyers? Of course it is an easy stereotype, especially in a society that is constantly looking for others to blame for its problems. Some things should be clarified- lawyers do not determine damage awards, juries do; lawyers do not bring lawsuits, aggrieved people do. And the next time someone cries out about the litigation explosion in America and how we need to do away with trial attorneys, ask them their plan for ensuring that people who are maimed or killed by a defective product or the parents of a child injured through a physician's negligence will be made whole.

The choice here is clear, folks. We can have another four years of Bush Cheney, a team of former failed businessmen. Or we can have Kerry Edwards, two former attorneys, one who put criminals behind bars while the other protected the interests of consumers and children. We can have four more years of a child of privilege who used that status to avoid serving his country or another child of slightly less privilege who enlisted to serve his country. We can have four more years of a Vice President whose former employer has bilked the US taxpayers for untold millions. Or, we can have a Vice President who fought against negligent corporations. We can have four more years of chasing the wrong enemy. Or, we can have an administration who remember that the people who attacked America on 9-11 are still running around the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

Make your choice wisely.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Why "Gay Rights" Matter

One of the questions I am most often asked is why, as a heterosexual male, I take such a strong interest in gay rights. Anyone who has read musclehead more than once will notice that issues pertaining to gay equality take up quite a bit of this space. And while I would not say that I am obsessed with equal rights for gays and lesbians, it is one of the issues I care most about and also one of the issues that hastened my departure from the GOP several years ago.

But why do gay rights matter? From my persepective equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians is a basic human/civil right. I wholeheartedly believe that people should be free to choose their life partner and to have the state recognize and accept that choice in a legal sense. Let us be clear that equal marriage rights in no way are meant to force churches, synagogues or mosques to perform same sex wedding ceremonies. While I would hope for some progressive denominations to openly endorse same sex ceremonies, I realize that we are quite a ways from such recognition and acceptance.

Perhaps what motivates and animates my passion for equal marriage rights is the same beliefs held by male supporters of the women's suffrage movement or the white folks who opposed slavery, and later Jim Crow. None of these people had what would be termed a personal stake in these movements, except their basic belief in human rights and universal values. Like those who came before me, I believe that we, as a people, are better when all the members of our community are welcomed, tolerated and accepted. To me, it is just that simple.

Department of Dead Horse Beating

Andrew Sullivan fisks George Miserable Failure Bush and his weekly radio address on the Federal Marriage Amendment. As Sullivan notes, Bush " backs one that would make unenforceable all 'the legal incidents' of civil marriage for gay couples--that is, civil unions and domestic partnerships. An amendment simply stating that heterosexuals alone can get married has been rejected by Bush and his allies, in favor of a far more sweeping attack on the basic protections of gay people across the country."

Amen to That!

Professor Leiter gets it exactly right in this piece about these scary times in which we live. And that does not refer to the War, but to the ascendancy of ignorant and uninformed people who choose faith over knowledge.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Strange Bedfellows?

So, does it surprise you that a Republican Congressman would marry the daughter of a brutal Central American dictator? (story) Of course, no one makes a choice about who to love, but the problem here is that the Congressman sits on the Western Hemisphere subcommittee. Oh, and the fact that the daughter has long been an advisor and strategist to the dictator-father and has never repudiated his former incarnation as a ruthless, human rights abusing dictator.

Given the lack of concern among the Wingnuts I can only assume that a blowjob in the White House is worse than marrying into a murderous family.

George Miserable Failure Bush is a Homophobic MORON

Today, in his weekly radio address George Miserable Failure Bush made the patently ridiculous claim that, "changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure." The moron in chief, like his American Taliban followers, has yet to explain just how gay marriage will undermine families or otherwise harm society. Instead, they fall back on hackneyed jingoism from the bible, which shows that they have no real argument. They really ought to be honest with the American people and just admit that they hate fags as much as they claim that their "god" does.

Massachusetts has allowed gay marriage for over a month now and the married heterosexual couples I know have yet to succumb to the temptation of gay marriage or otherwise have their marriages collapse. Though, in this same time period, the whale of a moralizer, Rush Pill Popping Limbaugh has begun proceedings for his third divorce. What is that saying about people who live in glass houses?

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Moronica for Morons (an ongoing saga)

So the good professor now seems to fancy himself a political consultant and suggests that his beloved BushCo. must make "trial lawyer" part of John Edwards name. He has gone so far as to refer to the Senator as John Trial Lawyer Edwards. Boy, that is catchy. It's a good thing Bainbridge has a day job.

Of course, this flies in the face of CNN polling which shows that 67% of those polled viewed Edwards' experience as a trial lawyer as a strength (here). But simple minded solutions for simple minded folks seems to be the order of the day for BushCo. and his boys like Bainbridge.

But, drawing upon the good professor's suggestion, musclehead will now refer to the President as follows- George Miserable Failure Bush. That phrase narrowly beat out George Draft Dodger Bush and George Coke Nose Bush.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Rock This Way

the oranges band and I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness are two bands I am really digging right now. They are related to the band Spoon in one way or another. It's good wholesome indie rock for the whole family.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Smoker's Delight?

Here is a fun little thought experiment. The next time a smoker complains about the government taking away his/her rights, replace the act of smoking with oral sex. Then see how compelling their argument is. I would hazard a guess that the oral sex argument may work in cars, but not in bars (except for in the bathroom) or restaurants or the workplace.

Ralph Nader is a Putz

Saint Ralph has accused Democrats of "dirty tricks" because of their challenging of his signatures in Arizona and packing a Nader rally with Democrats who refused to sign Ralphie's nomination papers in Oregon. This is just another in a long line of Ralph's delusions of grandeur. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable for the old codger to receive help from Republicans in collecting signatures in certain states that could prove critical in a close 2004 election. But when the Democrats challenge his signatures (successfully, I might add) and do other things to derail his campaign he cries foul. Hey, Ralph, it's called politics. If you cannot handle it, then get the hell out, buddy.

Apparently, Ralph was not content with four years of Bush and would like another term for the moron from Texas. While Nader spouts rhetoric about democracy and cries when people upset his apple cart, it becomes more and more apparent that he is nothing more than a megalomaniacal retread. No one has the right to run for President, they may have the privilege. And if Nader cannot understand that concept then he does not deserve anyone's support in the first place.

Maybe Saint Ralph ought to come down off his self made pedestal and live among the masses. This might force him to acknowledge the reality of a huge difference between Bush and Kerry. Only a blind, egocentric prick like Nader could fail to see the distinction.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Sex Offenders (II)

After reading Alva and digesting the California Supreme Court's reasoning, it seems to be an incredibly straight forward decision. Essentially, Alva argued that the life long sex offender registration for a misdemeanor sex crimes (possession of child pornography) violated both the 8th Amendment and California's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment (California's phrase reads "cruel or unusual", but has been given the same effect).

Alva relies on an earlier California decision, Reed, that held lifelong registration for misdemeanors to be violative of cruel and unusual. However, subsequent decisions by the US Supreme Court, most other states' highest courts, and California's own Supreme Court have called into question the validity of such a holding. These other courts have found that sex offender registration is not punishment. The standard for such a determination is whether the the legislative intent is to punish. As such, the registration here, despite its potential deterrent effect, is merely a registration and not punishment and thus outside of the purview of cruel and unusual analysis. (I am obviously condensing this quite a bit.)

Now, the larger question is whether such a registration is sound, or good, public policy. It seems questionable as to whether monitoring individuals convicted of misdemeanor sex crimes is an efficient or effective use of resources (public and private). However, without much more information about their effectiveness, it is hard to determine whether it is good or bad policy.

However, I am not swayed by the privacy arguments made by opponents of sex offender registries, in general. Given that certain sex crimes have such a high recidivism rate, these registries serve the legitimate purpose of protecting society. In addition, the people choose to commit such crimes that our society views as extremely personal and vicious. With the exception of homicide, no crime takes away someone's sense of personhood like a sex crime. Thus our society has chosen to establish a series of registries to identify offenders and to protect their potential victims.

Yet, a good idea can be taken too far. And when the names of those convicted of statutory (non-forced) rape are broadcast throughout a community, we have simply gone overboard. (It should be noted that in California, the only people who have access to the registry for misdemeanors are law enforcement and are not available to the public.)So there is a need for a bit of common sense in the use and application of sex offender registries. Only those who commit violent or severe sex crimes (such as rape) ought to have their names available to the public. Others who have committed misdemeanors and other less serious sex crimes should register, but that information ought not be available for public consumption.

Good Guys Sometimes Finish First

Here is a great article about my favorite NBA player- Ben Wallace. It's a feel good story about someone who worked hard, followed his dream and never gave up, despite encountering roadblocks at every step of the way. This man's middle name ought to be determination!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Porn Blogger

GOD'S WIFE is a blog written by a porn actress. It does not, from what I have read, seem salacious. But rather a well written peek into one person's career in the adult entertainment industry.