Take That, East St. Louis!
Guess who just got named the Most Livable State for a record-setting seventh consecutive term?
Yes, I'm gloating, not that I had anything to do with it, personally.
Modesty's for losers.
At What Price, Victory?
Though it's perfectly clear which party I generally support, I refuse to declare official allegiance with anyone, for one simple reason: There's plenty of bullshit on both sides, and nobody can be right 100% of the time. Of course, I'll pretty much always vote Democratic, because I disagree with Republicans (especially the Neocons) on so many things, and I just don't feel a strong enough tie to any third party that I feel like making a political statement by voting for them. Note to Minnesotans: We're considered a Swing State in '04, so your vote will count--not that I'm telling anyone not to vote Green, but...well, yes, that's exactly what I'm doing.
Anyhow, since I do love to rag on the Right, here's something that's been bothering my a little about my own side. I don't have any specifics here, either in terms or people, or of comments. This is more of a trend I've been noticing in the comments sections at various blogs lately (mostly at Atrios & DailyKos, though I want to make it clear that it is commenters, and not the hosts, of whom I speak)...
Now, we're committed in Iraq, and the situation...well, let's just say that things could be going better (and that we were told that it would be going better). And, the economy is in the dumps, seemingly in defiance of the three tax cuts Junior has enacted (and two of those have had plenty of time to take effect, mind you). Many of us on the Left are kind of thinking that these--especially the economy--will be the most effective weapons to use against Junior & Co., since his other lesser qualities (of which he does have many) don't seem to matter as much to swing voters. There is, however, a line that I feel the Left needs to be very careful about crossing:
We cannot begin to speak as if we actually hope the economy will continue its stagnation, and that the situation in Iraq will worsen (it should go without saying here that, if we can't speak as if we feel this way, we certainly can't actually feel this way). Actually wanting more people to lose their jobs/remain jobless, or that more Americans (or that more people of any nation, for crying out loud) will die/continue to live without utilities or a government, in the hopes that it will bring us a political victory, is simply too much.
"But, won't improvement in those areas lead to a greater likelihood of George W. Bush being reelected?"
Probably, and that's certainly not something I want to happen. I want people to vote against him in droves. I want this to be one of the largest landslides in American history. However, I'm not willing to sell out (in spirit, at least) hundreds of thousands of folks looking for work or anyone who's in any physical danger for any reason in Iraq, to get there.
Let's say that I could see into future, though. Let's say I see two possible futures. Future the First: The economy stays sluggish and Iraq gets hairier that Robin Williams' chest (oh, now why did I have to go there?). Junior gets booted like a trailer park dog. Future the Second: Things begin to look up, and Junior gets promoted from George Jr. to God Jr. in the eyes of many Americans. Well, what happens after that? If I look further down the road, and see that four more years of this President brings us further and further from any sort of enlightened society, and that all the bad things which I suspect he and his ilk will do are, in fact, done, then, I might just have to hope for things to remain in a sorry state in the present, to prevent some greater future evil.
But, since I don't know, with any degree of certainty, what will happen in the future, I certainly hope for the best in both of these troublesome situations.
I also, of course, hope that the nation will wake up and realize that we're being run by a man who's favorite childhood book didn't actually come out until he was in college (I swear to you, I am not making this up), and that we vote him out of office. Because, frankly, that's better than he deserves.
Blogs For Everyone!
Bill Maher's got his own blog now as well. Look to your right for a link. It's actually not as good as I'd expect--too many one-liners, essentially, which means he doesn't spend the time necessary to make some thigns as funny as they should be.
Nine Down, Fifty One To Go...
Junior held his ninth live press conference today.
"What's that?" you say? "Nine? Surely, he must have had more in the two plus years he's been president. I see him on TV all the time!"
Well, no. He hasn't. He may occasionally answer a question or two on a whim, but those don't count. That's not what a live press conference is. Most of what he has to say comes out through the Press Secretary.
"Well, is that really so few? I mean, other presidents probably just rattled off answers on the go too, right?"
George H.W. Bush had 60 in his four years. Junior's not on pace to make it to 60. He might hit fifteen. Maybe.
Junior just doesn't fare well when confronted with actual, live questions. You could clearly tell, even over the radio, that he was getting responses from someone else at least some of the time. Either that, or he just pauses in very odd places, and says words that sound like others often and immediately corrects himself.
That said, he didn't do as badly as he might have today. I mean, he talked his way around answering questions enough that I started to get dizzy, but I've certainly heard him sound less intelligent. I cannot wait until he gets into a live debate with [insert your favorite Democratic Presidential candidate name here, because any one of them will talk circles around Junior].
Anyhow, here are a few points he hit on that I thought were noteworthy.
1. Evidence of Saddam's ties to Al-Qaida.
When asked about the alleged ties to Al-Qaida that the administration claimed Saddam had, Junior said that it would take time to go through the piles of documents in Iraq to which they now have access to find the evidence.
What the fuck? I mean, seriously, what the fuck? Before you go making allegations like that, shouldn't you already have the proof pretty well in hand, and not be just assuming it'll turn up somewhere once the dust has settled? So, we've gone past the "You're with us, or you're against us" approach to foreign policy, and into the "Kill them all, let God sort them out" approach. That makes me feel much better.
2. Responsibility For Those Infamous 16 Words.
Junior came right out and said that, of course he accepts personal responsibility for those words, as he does for everything he says. I must admit, I was not expecting him to say that. I expected him to dodge around it any way he could. So, I'll give credit where it's due.
Of course, I think trying to pin Junior with that is similar to getting Al Capone on tax evasion; I'll take it, but I'd really rather, if he goes down, it'll be because of something more substantial.
And, he went on to say that he also takes responsibility for making decisions about the security of the country, blah blah blah. I mean, it's what he should say, from an objective standpoint, but it's bullshit and I'm sick of hearing it, because the security of the country had about as much to do with this little war as a volleyball has to do with weed killer. You might find them in the same room (and guess who just did find them in the same room?), but it's just a coincidence, and neither caused the other one to be there.
3. Those Damned Gays.
Now, something Junior's done quite effectively thus far is say things in such a manner that he's not going to alienate the upper-middle class white folk who like to think themselves tolerant and accepting, while simultaneously nodding and winking to his constituency of Good Ol' Boys, the Christian Coalition, etc. I'm genuinely impressed with how long he's managed to seem neutral on this issue (not that I'm saying he is neutral, just that he's doing a great job of making it appear so). So, when asked what he thought of gay marriage, and homosexuality in general, this is what he said (if it's in brackets, I'm paraphrasing, though I promise you I'm doing it fairly accurately. If it's in quotes, I'm quoting):
[We should be mindful that we're all sinners, and we shouldn't focus on the speck in our neighbor's eye when we've got a log in our own.] "I think it is very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country.
"On the other hand, that does not mean that somebody like me needs to compromise on an issue such as marriage. I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that one way or the other."
See, it comes off as if he's saying that he doesn't have a problem with homosexuals existing and doing their own thing, provided that "their own thing" doesn't include marriage. It's a view that, apparently, many people seem to share. You almost don't notice that he just, very strongly, implied that the entire Gay way of life is a sin, and the only reason we have to not object to it is that we're all imperfect ourselves. Sneaky, isn't he?
The thing that, possibly, annoyed me most, was just how often he brought September 11th into the discussion. See, everything that's wrong in America was directly caused by this one thing. Everything from the actual War on Terrorism (which, of course, does have something to do with Sept. 11th) to the war in Iraq (still looking for the connection there, eh guys?) to the failing economy/need to cut taxes. He actually bemoaned the lack of consumer confidence, saying that people were afraid to spend because every time they turned on the television, they heard about a "March to War," and that doesn't make people too terribly eager to go out and spend money. Without a trace of irony or self-awareness, he said this. I laughed, out loud and heartily, when he did. I could not restrain myself from asking him whether he thought the fact that we were actually in a march to war had anything to do with this phenomenon.
He must not have heard me, because he didn't answer. He didn't even try to talk around my question.
So, PETA's bringing their somewhat controversial Holocaust On Your Plate project to Minnesota. And, I'm sure lost of people will think it's great, and lots will think it's a travesty. I haven't seen the exhibit, aside from what they've got on their website, so I'm not going to try to judge whether or not I feel it crosses any borders. Of course, the point of it, it seems to me, is to do precisely that; to cross borders, to force people to make comparisons that they're not comfortable making, and to seriously consider things of which they'd rather remain blissfully ignorant.
It seems to me that, for most people, the question of how far you can go while remaining within the boundaries of good (or even marginal) taste are altogether too dependant on whether or not you agree with the position being espoused. The tactic of trying to shock someone into seeing/reevaluating a thing to which a person has become accustomed, presumably done to edify, enlighten, and/or otherwise benefit said someone, may seem like a noble and just cause when the cause is, say, the cessation of animal cruelty. But what about when the cause is warning all homosexuals that they're going to Hell? I think we can all agree that the Revered Phelps has gone way, way too far with this site, but bear in mind that his stated goal, essentially, is to save the eternal souls of all mankind from what he considers to be the greatest danger out there just now. Of course, I think he's totally wrong, and I'd love to see the look on his face just after he dies (as, I'm sure, he'd say of me and everyone with similar beliefs), but I think his methods and, in this case, PETA's bear more similarities than either would like to admit.
Damn. I feel like I've just done something to justify Phelps. I find his site, as well as the activities of his church, totally abhorrent, tasteless, and hateful, and I want to make that as clear as I possibly can. So, now I have to figure out a way where I can oppose such filth while still lending some level of support to Animal Rights activists (for whom I carry some sympathies, though I don't pretend to be an active supporter in any real sense).
Well, I suppose I can just write the whole thing off as Free Speech. Both are entitled to say what they want, whether or not it offends people, and we're all free to make up our own minds about who we want to listen to.
That still comes off like I'm saying a website called www.godhatesfags.com is acceptable, which I don't, but it's as close as I'm going to get.
For what it's worth, Animal Rights aside, PETA's a little bit too extreme for my tastes as well. And I have a sneaking suspicion a large number of Jewish people might agree.
The Perfect Gift!
What do you get for the person who has everything?
Ends & Odds
One of the great things about Blogger/Blogspot is that I can stay on topic on posts in a way you can't on Easy Journal. If I have something else to say, I can add another post, and all anyone has to do is scroll down. It's right there.
That being said, this is going to go all over the place, because that's what my brain is doing just now.
First of all, let me say that I believe, I truly believe, that television is probably the worst thing to happen to the human race in all of history. I've been meaning to come up here and start writing (not here, but working on one of my projects, so to speak) for over an hour. Most of today, really. But, instead, I've been switching between crappy movies on HBO and Cinemax, the Twins game (not so enjoyable in this case), as well as watching the delightful Real Time with Bill Maher (which I watched last night), for too long. It becomes nearly impossible to draw oneself away from this wicked god of Americana. Television simply should not exist. Even now, as I come up to write, I've put a movie into the DVD player on my computer, and I've got an audio commentary track playing in the background. Donnie Darko, in case you're curious. A film I will not hesitate to recommend highly.
See, there's the problem, though. There's a lot of crap on TV. Pure, absolute shit. Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever? Here's a film that I was sick of after watching the freaking trailer. And yet, I very nearly watched it just now, because I didn't want to get off the couch. It took a combination of tremendous will power and a weak bladder to force myself to remove myself from the basement. But, there's also so many enjoyable films/TV shows, that I know I wouldn't get rid of the monkey if I could. I mean, come on. Vertigo is as good a mind-fuck as you're going to find anywhere, and if you haven't seen it, I order you to go out and rent/buy it now. Seriously. If I were to make a short list of films that everyone must see, it'd be on it. Top Five material (thanks, DJ Rob Gordon, for permanently imprinting that phrase--Top Five--into my mind).
So, damn it all, what's a person to do? Giving up this monkey may just be too much to bear, and I'm not even sure that i want to. But, I think we can all agree that television is pure evil, and has done far more harm than good.
Don't know why this has been on my mind. I used to have a roommate, David, who was a rather interesting fellow. I don't keep in touch with him nearly as well as I should. See, here's the thing I liked about him (not that there was only one thing, but it's the thing that's been on my mind): He loved challenging people to think about...well, anything, really. Example: Once, for no reason of which I'm aware, he ordered me to give an on-the-spot dissertation on why college degrees nowadays are worth little more than a high school degree was worth in the days of our parents. If I remember correctly, my reasons were as follows.
1. Expectations. It seems that many late-forties to early-sixties people (and I'm assuming that this fits the bill for parents of mid-twenties here) are the first in their families to attend college, because of the economic prosperity of the fifties made it a possibility for the middle class. It also seems to me that a parent who has attended college expects their offspring to follow suit. I know I will. Larger numbers of parents encouraging their children to attend college quite obviously will lead to more young folk attending. The more who attend, the less likely each individual attendee is going to stand out.
2. Availability. Student loans, grants, and an arguably more substantial middle class coming from the Baby Boomers, makes it easier for students to attend. Expectation plus availability...well, you do the math.
3. Athletic Scholarships. Say what you will, I think that these can get out of hand, and decrease standards for everyone. And, if the standards are decreased, it means people aren't leaning as much.
I can't remember if I brought this point up, but I also think that because young people are expected to go, and don't think it's anything special, they may major in what they want to major in, rather than majoring on something that's going to help get them a career. Take me, for example. I'm an English Writing major, and I work accounts payable for a securities firm. Of course, I do hope to be a writer some day. So, whether or not my major has anything to do with a potential career remains to be seen. I may yet be the next Midwestern Gothic author (Midwestern Gothic is as close as I can think of to describing my style).
Anyhow, David added the G.I. Bill to the list.
Of course, I think that a populace with a higher level of education can't be a bad thing. It has its downsides (I think this has a lot to do with the dotcom bubble coming into existence, and, inevitably, bursting), but it will assist in taking us, slowly, slowly, down the path toward social enlightenment. Not that we'll ever get there, but we'll get closer.
Real Time with Bill Maher yesterday prompted me to make the proclamation that Aaron McGruder is the coolest Black man in American. Which led Joe to question who I thought the coolest White person was (probably also questioning, at least in part, what his skin color had to do with his coolness). Well, for coolest White person, or coolest all around, I just don't know. McGruder might be high on the list overall. Dan Perkins (a.k.a. Tom Tomorrow) would be high on the list as well, and lots of other people too, probably. I haven't thought about it enough.
Well, I'm going to try to go work on one of my projects now. I often feel sorry for the people about whom I write. I'm usually not very nice to them. I can take some comfort, however, in the knowledge that they're not real.
There are fireworks going off outside my window. Fairly nice ones to be shooting off for no apparent reason.
Well, that's enough. I'm off. Have an agreeable Saturday, all.
Apples And Pomegranates
Okay, so, back when I was still doing Easy Journal, I promised to address the differences bewteen Iraq and Liberia. Now that Junior's sort of sending a few troops over there, I figure it's time I made good on that promise (if anyone's interested). I'm no political scientist, and this is all layman observation, so take it as seriously as you take me in general.
The major difference is this: The people of Liberia want us there. When the rebels heard they were coming, they initiated a cease-fire. That's good. Very good, actually.
The actions being taken against American soldiers in Iraq (as well as any number of other factors) are a pretty clear indication that the Iraqis weren't so hot on the idea of us invading them. I don't like Junior one whit. I wouldn't piss on a fire to save him. However, I certainly don't want, say, Brazil, to invade us to remove him from his seat of power. Neither, I would imagine, do any of the millions of other folk who consider our current president something of an abomination. The people of Iraq believed they would suffer more through violent means than through (admitedlt slower) non-violent means. They may have been right, they may have been wrong. It no longer matters.
There's no inherent contradiction in proclaiming loudly that we should go into one, and stay out of the other. However, there may be a contradiction in saying this depending on your arguments for either. If going into Iraq was all about national security to you, and not about Saddam's evilness, then you can certainly say that we have no business in Liberia. You should also be screaming at the administration about how, as is fairly clear by this point, this threat was possibly overstated a bit, but that's another rant. If going into Iraq was all about helping the Iraqi people for you, you should really be all for Liberia, as we'll likely be able to improve the general quality of life just as much, and more quickly, than in Iraq.
There are any number of reasons one could be opposed to the war, and I don't want to go into how good any of those reasons are right now, but unless your opposition was based on the idea that military force is always wrong under any circumstances, or that America needs to stay the Hell out of everyone else's business no matter what, then I just don't see anything wrong with being for a peacekeeping mission (which, after all, is different than an invasion) in Liberia. While I don't think very many people actually fit into either of those categories, the anti-protestor crowd (or pro-war, or war hawk, or whatever term you prefer, I'm not trying to be derogatory) seemed to think that the protesters were mostly the no-military-intervention-no-matter-what type, and seem to be using that against the protesters now, claiming us to be somewhat hypocritical. The argument in and of itself isn't flawed, but it is based upon a flawed premise. And I'm sure if we point that out, they'll be really polite about it.
Of course, if you did oppose the war for one of these reasons, then you really have very little basis for saying it isn't a contradiction in being in favor of an intervention here. But, as I said, I don't think there are too many people who fit the bill here.
So, the point is, you can have two opposing views on these two conflicts without risk of your head exploding from cognitive dissonance. But not if you're blathering about mass graves and gassing his own people.
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner...
Well, starting tomrrow. 10 p.m. Central Time, if I'm not too much mistaken.
Seriously, if you have HBO, check it out. he usually manages to get both liberal and conservative viewpoints on, and allows both sides to express themselves. Often with hilarious results!
Of course, Maher can be something of a male chauvinist, but he does it in a humerous-but-not-usually-disrepsectful sort of way.
Yesterday was the Summer Office Party for all us geeks in Firm Accounting, as well as a few related departments, down at Piper Jaffray. We went to Brits and had a Lawn Bowls (or Lawn Bowling) tourney. If you're not familiar, imagine what would happen if you showed Bocce Ball to the English--It's similar, but it's harder and tamer (though it's no less fun, I assure you). You cannot toss either the balls or the jack, because it can create divets, which make accurate bowling all but impossible. The balls are not perfectly spherical. The balls are also weighted, so that they will curve to one side. The goal, however, is the same. Attempt to roll your balls closer to the jack than the other team (and stop that infernal giggling!). One point for the closest ball, one additional point for each of that team's balls that are closer than any of the other team's balls (what did I say about that chuckling?). So, every end scores at least one point, and no more than four.
My team went out in the second round. The team that beat us went on to the finals, but lost it there.
This, of course, was at Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis. They have a very nice four-lane outdoor green on the second floor of the establishment. And work provided free drinks No whiskey, though, (on-tap or bottled beverages only) so I had to drink hard cider, since I cannot stand beer.
It was also Jacob's last night in this hemisphere for a while, so we hit the CC Club for a few drinks. A good time was had by all. Little else can be said about that. By now, he will have departed, and will be en route back to his adopted home in the Land of the Rising Sun. And, of Tamagotchi! Did anyone else ever have one of those? My granda gave me one. I tried it a few times. Mildly addicting, but not terribly so.
Anyhow, the point is, Jacob will be missed by all those here, in the Mecca of the Midwest.
While there, I finally tried the third of four premium Bourbons produced by the makers of Jim Beam. The other two I've tried are Knob Creek (still my favorite, for those keeping score, with the exception of that one I had in St. Louis, but I can't remember the name of that one, and it's really expensive anyhow), and Booker's (nice flavor, but at about 127 proof, it's a little too strong for casual consumption). The third was Baker's, which was sharper, and a little mroe bitter than Knob Creek. Not as dark. It's quite good, but I'll be sticking with Knob Creek.
The fourth, if you're curious, is Basil Hayden's, but this is designed to be a light (on taste, not alcohol) Bourbon, and I have no use for that. I enjoy the taste of a good Bourbon. If I didn't, I'd look for something else, not Bourbon Lite. But maybe that's just me.
So, Joe, Jacob & myself went to St. Louis this weekend to see Joe Timm. Jacob hadn't seen him in a few years, and really had the JET itch, so to speak, especially since he recently got engaged. Not that I didn't. Of course, in the process I had to miss another event I would have liked to attend (though I didn't reaslize it until plans had already been made). Either way, I think I would have wound up pissing someone off, which sucks, but c'est la vie, I suppose. And oh, man, did the driving suck.
Anyhow, I don't have a whole hill of beans else to say. St. Louis was fun. We hit a karaoke bar, and Joe (Timm) offered us some of the best damned Bourbon I've ever had. Period. Smooth like silk, but still strong & tasty. Eagle something something...I can't remember. It looked expensive, whatever it was.
Oh, Joe, you can chime in any time here. It's your site too.
Go ahead. I dare you.
Right. Well, I've got errands to run. With any luck, I'll actually have something of interest to say tomorrow. To anyone who might be reading this, sorry I missed the Monster Box Derby, but the conflict that arose could not be circumvented. Hopefully, it was populated enough that we weren't missed too terribly.
"I don't know what was wrong, but believe me, their departure was impressive and unmistakable..."
"That's what the bear said, you know, about the picnickers."
Right. Well, I don't know if I"m even going to be able to post this because MSN isacting so dodgy. Let me just say that The Most Powerful Blog Currently On Your Screen, or, at least this half of it, does NOT endorse Microsoft Network (nor, really, any other Microsoft product, although I would take an X-Box over a PS2, and a Gamecube over either, of course). I feel fairly safe in assuming the other half of this site would feel the same, but far be it from me to claim to know what another person is thinking.
So, tomorrow I've got free tickets to a Twins game, and rather good seats as well.But I feel torn, because they've been playing so very badly as of late. Now, it's not just that they don't have skill. I could accept that. It's that they don't seem to care. For the most part, their lackluster performance this year has been due to sheer lack of effort, and that's just unacceptable. Plus, they traded one of my favorite players today for someone who's no better.
But I digress. On to the point, such as it were. Last night, four of the Five stayed out raising Hell and such until about 2:30. I felt certain that work today would be...well, rather a dismal time. And it nearly was. I was overly tired when I arrived--a situation I rectified with too much coffee. When I arrived, I couldn't focus on anything because I couldn't hold my eyes open. By midday, I couldn't focus because I was too worked up.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel, however. I may have previously mentioned taht I was allowed to pick from a catalog an award because of the apparently good job I'm doing, especially with our system conversion a few months ago. Anyhow, I picked this executive stero system--kind of like one of those Bose Wave Radio's, but made by Sharp, and probably not as nice as the Bose one. Anyhow, it's worth $200, and I got it free. Which is nice. And, yes, it arrived today. So, I got to spend a few minutes setting it up, getting some adjustments made, etc. While it is larger than I had anticipated, it fits quite nicely into my little cube, and the sound pleases me greatly. It has an antenna, which my previous crappy little radio did not, so the reception is much improved (reception is a problem in my building). However, I still cannot pick up AM stations, much to my chagrin. There will be no daytime Twins games for me, nor will I be able to lsiten to the inane rantings of Micheal Savage's ilk on the Patriot.
Such hardships I can endure for only so many days.
"Torturers do not go to the Tower of Healing, no matter how ill; there is a belief--whether true or not I cannot say--that old scores are settled there."
Sorry. I just get a kick out of those two quotes. They've nothing to do with anything, really.
Now, go find something else to do. I must rest before my own visit to the Tower of Healing tomorrow.
The Boys Are Back In Town
Jacob has returned to the Mecca in the Midwest. We may take a pilgrimage next to St. Louis this weekend. We'll see.
Hardees at Two a.m.
A few years ago, some friends and I walked into a 24 hour hardees in Fargo at two in the morning. The bars were just getting out, and we ran into some rather jovial drunkards. One of them started talking to us, and asked a friend of mine why he thought women so frequently go for so-called bad boys. The friend in question didn't have a real response, so I began contemplating, anticipating his approaching me next. Which he did.
Now, I had, perhaps, one minute to prepare before the question was posed to me, and I launched into one of the most impressive on-the-spot speeches of my life. I'm obviously paraphrasing, but the actual speech was closer to this than you probably think. It went something like this:
For the same reason so many people (excluding myself) have dreams that they're falling, or running from some terror that they cannot see. It's an evolutionary response. By that, I mean it comes from our days as nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes, where the most important thing was making sure your progeny survived, and your line continued. The so-called bad boys have a higher degree of agression than most other men, which impacts women on a subconscious level, making it seem that they will be better able to protect and provide for the young. The irony of this, of course, is that this model is so outdated. Agression is no longer necessarily indicitive of success, and bad boys often are decidedly unfit providers.
To which this gent responded, "Huh. Yeah, that's pretty good. But I don't think that's it. You want to know what it is?"
"They don't want to get bored!" He replied, with a wide grin on his face.
Speaking for myself, I find that to be a rather cynical view of women. But, hey, maybe that's just me.
A Tale Of Twenty Lies
I haven't visited Atrios as much as I used to. I don't enjoy reading the posts put out by the Atridae nearly as much as I enjoy their patriarch. This is not to say I don't enjoy them, but they are...well, not Atrios. And lately, I'm getting a little annoyed at them. It seems like they're posting because they feel they need to post, but because they have anything to say. The posts about Junior's alleged lies regarding the Niger incident are too numerous and insubstantial. Yes, either lied or at least misled, and yes, it's important that we keep at him about it. But it shouldn't be the sole focus of the attention for those who'd like to see Junior go. It seems like it's just sticking in people's minds, leading to the kind of one-liner politics ("what did he know and when did he know it?") that bore me, no matter which side it's coming from.
After all, it's not like there's a shortage of things to question him about. And that's just on Iraq. Never mind, say, the administration's handling of the military (cutting veteran's benefits, attacking soldier's pay, etc. is what I mean by that) , as well as his resisting the Sept. 11th commission's inquiries, and on and on and on.
Anyway, all I'm saying is that those who put so much energy into making everyone notice this one thing (that, compared to some other things on the list isn't even that big of a deal) run the risk of becoming blind to other issues, and run the greater risk of being marginalized by people who don't see this particular instance as a lie.
(Confession--the list of twenty lies about Iraq is, in fact, via one of the Atridae, so I am being just a wee bit disingenuous in my criticism. And it's not like I'm above reproach myself.)
Don't Your Change Bumper Sticker
In the '00 elections, I considered voting for Nader. I wanted to. But, in the end, keeping Junior out of office was just more important to me. But if I had, I'd be proud of it, even now.
Jason Salzman, it seems, feels differently.
Well, okay, things are going worse (or better, I suppose, depending on your point of view) than anyone had anticipated, but hindsight is 20/20. That doesn't mean that you should repent your vote, however. Voting for Nader was either a vote for the person who you thought would do the job best, a vote displaying disgust with the centrist tendencies of the Democratic party, or a vote to help the Green party get to their 5%. All admirable goals. Just because things didn't turn out so well is no reason to change your mind. Now, if Nader himself had turned out to be a world-class bastard, that might be a reason. But, far as I know, he hasn't.
Of course, I do feel that this election is a little different. I was tempted to shuff off the Democrats a few years ago. Not so, next. Provided the Democratic nominee isn't Satan--I mean, seriously, the Dark Lord Himself--I'm sticking it out. Junior's turned out to be more than just an unqualified not-so-bright Good Ol' Boy. So, yeah. That's number one on the list for now.
In short, don't feel bad for voting for Nader.
Just don't do it again.
Waiting To Steal Your Man
So, somebody please, for the last time, explain to me why gay marriage is actually a threat to good ol' fashion marriage? Jeff Jacoby seems to have an answer: Lots of men and women will abandon their heterosexual marriages to get married to same sex partners. His evidence is that some people did it in Vermont (with civil unions, of course, not marriage).
Well, yes, of course some people will, I think that's a given. But how does this threaten "Traditional Family Values?" Chances are the men/women who divorced their hetero spouses and later became involved with same-sex partners, probably weren't too terribly happy in their former situation. Jacoby seems to believe that it's somehow preferable, and more benefitial to families, for people to remain in the closet, even at the expense of their own mental well-being. And, it should go without saying (at least, to anyone who's likely to be reading this) that there're plenty of gay people perfectly capable of raising children, and that many of these children turn out perfectly normal. It's not like there's a shortage of children who need adoptive parents in the world, you know?
Oh, wait. I've got it. All those gay married people will train their kids to be gay (because, you know, you can do that), which, eventually, will lead to the End of Humanity!
Well. There you go. That must be it.
It should go without saying that it's a shame it turned out the way it did, and that living with such a condition must be a daily test, but if this were me, I would not want anyone reading about it in newspapers half way around the world. I'm fairly sickened by how much I've heard about it in the last few days. Give these poor women their peace, since they were denied their privacy.
...says the guy who's posting the article on the web for all to see. Yes, I know I'm a hypocrite, but I'm only mentioning it to express my displeasure regarding the media coverage of something that' was really no one's business but theirs.
From a letter to the Star Tribune yesterday:
--The July 3 editorial, "St. Paul, Minneapolis / Reason for school cost differences," which tried to justify the overspending of the Minneapolis school district, misses the point. Class size is used as one excuse for runaway spending. Who cares how many students there are per class? There's only one thing that matters, and it's not the reduced number of students per class. The only thing that matters is results.
With all the extra spending in Minneapolis, are its student outcomes better then St. Paul student outcomes? I don't think so. But once again, in your liberal editorial board's way of looking at things, it's good intentions that justify spending, not outcomes.
The one good thing about the economic downturn over the past three years is that it has forced government and schools to become accountable.--
I'd love to hear all the statistics about how smaller class sizes don't matter, and how they don't produce better results time and time again.
Results are what's important, of course, provided the results to which one refers are the benefits to the children in the schools, and not just their scores on standardized tests. I'm not going to go into any great length about the tests themselves, because I'm not an educator, and don't know a lot about them, but I've heard from the subjects of several interviews on MPR that the administrative side (what gets done with the results, essentially) is very inflexible, and is going to lead to problems as schools have to continue to improve, and more schools become listed as "problem schools" (which, many of the subjects believed was inevitable).
Even if numbers are all one cares about, though, is it reasonable to believe that schools can improve, and can continue to improve, without money? Is it reasonable to believe that removing children from a school and taking away their Title One funding (which, admitedly, not every school receives) is going to make the schools improve? I'm not saying that just throwing money at the problem is the answer, mind you, but standardized tests aren't either. If one were to ask me, it seems like a good solution might be to increase federal funing for teacher compensation. Do it enough to make it a competitive market. This will certainly take time, but I'd be willing to place a large wager that if school districts have more qualified candidates to choose from, they're likely to have more qualified teachers. And it seems to me that the best way to get more qualified candidates is to make certain that they can earn good (not just livable, but good) salaries. I believe it should be hard to become a teacher, and the pay should reflect that. I also believe that the long term (and, really, short term as well, though this is more of a long-term idea) benefits of this would be substantial.
Okay, don't know if you can read this from the road, Joe, but we managed to pull off an impressive victory tonight. 15-8, baby. And, if anyone else is reading this, be happy for us. The bad news is Kristine (Christine? Either way, it's the same person) took a bad dive on a particularly nasty divet in the grass and rolled her ankle. It was pretty swollen, and she was in a lot of pain, so Sean took her to the hospital. Best of luck to her, but it didn't look to good. Louis'll e-mail us later tonight about her condition.
Aside from that, it was a good game. Lots of improvement all around. Next week will not be in Blaine. Either in Edina, or not at all, most likely. Obviously, we're hoping for the former, but we'll just have to wait and see. But we should see what we can do to routinely get there earlier to warm up, et al.
Seven Shades of Red
I've been asked before just why it is I lsiten to commercial radio, stations like 93x and KDWB. For the most part, yes, they suck, but I listen because if I didn't, I wouldn't know about bands like the Gorillaz, the Vines, and the White Stripes. Three excellent bands, if I do say so myself.
Anyhow, I'm still recovering from a weekend at the Apple River. Not from a hangover so much as from a bad sunburn, dehydration, and extreme fatigue. It was a good weekend, though. Yes, it was.
So...not much happening in the news, really. Junior's leaving on a trip to Africa; the Brits put out a report that officially exhonerates Blair of the whole lying to Parliment thing, while clearly still letting him know that they think some bits are "very odd;" and Michael Savage gets fired from his weekend TV job. At the risk of editorializing, what was MSNBC expecting from Savage? Well thought out messages of tolerance and harmony? Had anyone bothered to, oh, I don't know, actually lsiten to his show for any length of time whatsoever?
Well, on the plus side, the Rapture Index is down. Some of the factors that, near as I can tell, have made this index go up in ther ecent past are:
The failing health of the False Prophet (in other words, the Pope, that damnable S.O.B.)
The Liberal Media focring the resignation of Trent Lott (because...um...desegregation leads to Armageddon?)
Political victories for France mean political victories for the European Union, which brings the continent closer to unification (which, somehow, is a Very Bad Thing).
Whatever. Give my regards to Ragnarok. I'll check in on all you kids tomorrow.
Information That May Surprise You
[Note: Post edited to make it suck less]
Well, it's nearly the Foutrh of July; Independence Day. I just wanted to say one thing, quickly. It may often seem like I'm blaming America for all the world's woes, or that I don't like the country in which I was born. This is not true. To those who loudly cry that America is the Best Damn Country Ever, however, I would ask, "Why?" Without saying that I agree or disagree, I pose the question, What makes America so great? Our freedoms are also enjoyed by any number of European countries, as is, ona personal level, the strength of our economy. We may have the biggest, baddest military in history, but that in itself does not make a country great. Again, I'm not saying I disagree...but, what does BEST mean, in this context?
I'm both proud and glad to live in America. Land of the Free, etc. I still believe in the idea of the American Dream. I believe in "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." I still believe in "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." All that still means a great deal to me.
I am disappointed that all this seems to mean so little to so many. I'm disappointed in people who get up on a podium and say, "America kicks ass!" as an introduction to their speech, but follow it up with ways that will obviously make the country worse. I'm disappointed with people who hear such a speech, but stop listening after the first three words, and assume that no one who makes such a proclamation can possibly be a bad person. I'm disappointed with people who think that patriotism means buying a miniature flag to put on your Ford Explorer. I'm disappointed in people who think that "France Sucks And So Do Fags " should be somewhere in the constitution. I'm disappointed with the "God, Guns, and Fuck You" (actual bumper sticker, honest) attitude that seems to be grabbing this country by the throat. It's not American.
America doesn't mean hate your neighbors. It doesn't mean intolerance. It doesn't mean that we should fear/redicule everything that doesn't come super-sized, or with a small block V8. It doesn't mean that we have a right or a duty to constantly use this trillion-dollar overcompensating military that we've got between out collective legs.
I'm sick of a lot of things right now, but none of those things is America, though a great deal of it has to do with people grabbing on to some abstract idea of America as the Nation of God, Guns, and Fuck You, and using it to beat other people down. I'm sick of "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy" (actual quote from a Gulf War II soldier, after he was asked what we were bringing to Iraq). I'm sick of dissent being equated with Treason.
In short, I'm sick of Junior and his damn band of Merry Men taking everything I love about this country and perverting it.
I'm sick of Ann Coulter being alive.
You get the idea.
That being said, I'll be out of town for a few days. Keep on paying atention to what those in power are doing. It's up to you (yes, YOU) to decide if those in power get to remain there. Vote. In every election. Even if it's just a MoveOn primary. Whether or not you agree with me. Vote for what you think is right. You can make a difference. That, in short, is what make America great.
Have a happy 4th, all.
Oh, What Mirth
In case anyone's wondering whether or not you should rush out and buy Ann Coulter's new book, well, don't. If you must read it, check it out froma library. Don't give her any money. She'll just try to keep on talking. I'll admit to being a bit curious, but I'd read it with the same sort of mindset I'd have reading a book about, say, pornography for leprechauns; entertaining in an oddly perverse way that has nothing to do with reality.
Anyhow, it's nice to know I'm not alone.
On To Step Two
So, Howard Dean won the second quarter money race among the Democrats.
Of course, Junior raised more than all the dem's put together. Plenty of people'll tell you that the amount of campaign money you raise reflects the amount of supoprt yhou have among the people. In this instance, I'd just love to see the number of donors for each candidate, along with the average donation. One billionaire may give more than a thousand accountants, computer techs, fast food workers, etc., but they still can only vote once.
A Gift For Saying The Right Things
Once again, I am baffled.
Concern is growing in America about the number of soldiers dying on a daily basis. At the current rate, by Thanksgiving (and if you don't think we'll still be ther by Turkey Day, well, I'd be willing to place a large wager to the contrary) more soldiers will have died after the official end of major hostilities than during. There's a great deal of concern that one of the many arguements against the war, that the US was simply not prepared for such a massive nation-building excercise, may have not been such crazy leftist blather after all. So, what's the best thing to say in such a situation, if you happen to be President, to try to calm things down just a little bit?
"Bring them on."
It's nice to know the grown-ups are in charge, isn't it? I'm sure all the soldiers who are actually doing the fighting and dying are grateful.
And it looks like the report on the WTC towers attacks might finally be released. I can't promise this is 100% accurate, but I seem to remember hearing that the amount spent to investigate this was something like 1/3 of the amount spent on investigating Clinton's sex life. Priorities, people. Priorities.