Archive for July, 2005

Old Gray Lady Grows a Pair

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

Old Gray Lady Grows a Pair

Hat tip to Cox & Forkum for bringing this to my attention. All those not yet familiar with their excellent work should do themselves a favor by paying a quick visit.

Since the closing weeks of the year 2000 when we were all watching the chad-counting in Florida with breathless anticipation, I’ve been looking for somebody to admit something. The “somebody” would be the people who wanted Al Gore to win his endless “recounts”, which I think most of us believe is a nearly identical group to the voters who wanted John Kerry to win. Democrats and Democrat sympathizers. Liberals. Nader voters. Leftist kooks. All those strange bedfellows on the left. I’ve noticed they tend to get awfully agitated when people who pay attention to them start to form opinions about what it is they want…yet for a group that gets all that uppity when onlookers form theories about their motives, they are reticent to explain their motives. What are you after when you hope-against-hope that Al Gore wins the recount, or that John Kerry wins Ohio? After all, growing embryonic life at taxpayers’ expense for the sole purpose of destroying it for unproven research, doesn’t have very much to do with guaranteeing a murdering rapist that he won’t be executed so that perhaps someday he can be thrust through the revolving door of our incarceration system back on the streets. Forcing productive people who get by with little tiny television sets — perhaps no television at all — to pay for a 90 inch widescreen rear-projection for a welfare queen who has babies for a living, has very little at all to do with allowing the United Nations to take control of the Internet. Forcing law-abiding gun-owners to register their firearms, or perhaps to turn them in, doesn’t have an awful lot to do with raising taxes on the most productive of our citizens and insisting against the evidence that trickle-down doesn’t work.

So when I ask liberals face-to-face what it is they’re all about, they answer with “patriotism” or “America” or some such derivative. But it’s when they’re being patriotic that they find so many things wrong with America. For a handful of years now I’ve been toiling with the supposition that perhaps they mean something different when they talk about “America”.

Being in California, I have two Senators who each year take an oath that they will protect The Constitution. Then these two liberal females go about trashing the second and tenth amendments like clockwork. So I have been wondering if there are multiple definitions for “The Constitution” as well.

Well it turns out, the New York Times has stepped up and confirmed this for me. Sort of. In the Friday editorial “A Sense of Proportion at Ground Zero” (link requires registration) the Old Gray Lady ‘fesses up that her vision of “America” is different from everybody else’s:

On their Web site, www.takebackthememorial.org, critics of the cultural plan at ground zero offer a resolution called Campaign America. It says that ground zero must contain no facilities “that house controversial debate, dialogue, artistic impressions, or exhibits referring to extraneous historical events.” This, to us, sounds un-American. [emphasis mine]

First things first. Over the last four years there has been a great deal of heated rhetoric about “So-and-so has challenged my patriotism!” or “I’m tired of having my patriotism questioned!” I’ve noticed with interest that several loud-mouthed commentators, offered high-profile and enviable platforms with which they could substantiate their viewpoints and give their reasons for holding them, instead use the opportunity to announce that their patriotism has been questioned, as if this serves the purpose of reinforcing why it is they say the things they say.

So my first remark would be, what would happen if a much less noticeable, but far more right-wing, panel of commentators used those very words on another panel, or body of work, or organized society, universally acknowledged to be progressive? Suppose Air America made a comment that raised the cackles of oh, I don’t know, someone with lots of journalistic clout. Who is conservative. Let’s say Fox News put out an editorial and used those very words. “This thing Air America said, strikes us as un-American.” Oh, my dear Lord. We’d never hear the end of it.

Why does the left get to pronounce things un-American? Why does the right catch so much flak for calling things unpatriotic, when, if you do some research on the comment in question, you find they never even used that word?

My second remark about this would be, a profound thank you to the New York Times for coming out and saying what everybody has been avoiding. There are two Americas now. Because to me and a lot of other people, the target of the Times’ angst is as American as apple pie.

RESOLVED, that the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation should fulfill its mission by ensuring no facilities that house controversial debate, dialogue, artistic impressions, or exhibits referring to extraneous historical events occupy space on the sacred site at Ground Zero; and that the World Trade Center Memorial must honor the mission of creating a dignified and respectful memorial which focuses exclusively on the victims, heroes and events of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993.

The “un-American” resolution calls for a finite amount of space to be declared “sacred.” It does not call for Government enforcement efforts to be marshalled to ensure certain things are kept under wraps from sea to shining sea; it defines a “site” that has been placed under the control of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, and within that site controversial debate and artistic impressions and “exhibits referring to extraneous historical events” be expunged from that physical space.

America, to the New York Times, is a place where anyone can say anything anywhere. Nothing is sacred.

This is what blue states & red states are all about.

There is an “America” where those who place an exhibit, carry a burden to be considerate of the feelings of those viewing the exhibit. Don’t accept communion in a Catholic ceremony if you’re not Catholic. Don’t bring ham to a Jewish wedding. Don’t display your blackmail photos of the boss in compromising positions with his secretary, at his memorial service where his widow is showing up. Don’t use the “F” word when you’re in the middle of a busy playground at an elementary school or a park. This “America” stays out of the arena of outlawing things, and relies on old-fashioned taboos; restraint; decorum; taste. It only makes hard-and-fast enforceable rules, to its own disappointment, after it has found that nothing short of a rule will work.

The other “America” is the one where the “artist” carries none of this burden whatsover, and the burden is placed on viewers to show “tolerance”. Yes, I will use my exhibit to muddy the waters in the memorial placed in honor of your dead husband, and you will have to learn to tolerate it. Yes, I will carry my canvas handbag boldly emblazoned with letters that say “MEN MAKE ME HARD”, and if you don’t like it you shouldn’t have brought your young children where they can see it. Yes, I will make an expensive movie with little entertainment value at all, solely to piss off Catholics. One, two. You have to tolerate it.

I was born in the mid sixties. I’ve been told since I was very small, that this first America is “oppressive,” that it’s the second America, the blue-state America, that stands up for free speech. But that second America scares the hell out of me. Why? Because it’s not absolute.

People who have dark skin (who aren’t Asian), women, and homosexuals have favored status with this “America”. If you exercise your free speech to say something or to post something that might be construed as offensive to one of those three groups, that “America” will not uphold your right to free speech. In fact, it will criminalize you. We have seen in recent years that your intent to offend, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. In fact, that the people “offended” by your free speech were all white, straight, and male, is likewise irrelevant.

And you know, by itself, that is fine by me I guess. But what scares me is, when some “free speech” is okay even though it offends a lot of people, and other free speech is worth ending a career over because it offends “proxy” people who don’t belong to the group the speech is supposed to offend — what do you have to have? You’ve got to have an authority figure who is responsible for figuring out what’s “offensive but must be tolerated” and what’s “offensive and Something Must Be Done.” You’ve got to have that authority to live in blue-state America, whether it springs forward from an individual, a group of empowered people, a few informal polls, or a tyrannical majority. Red-staters do want to put us on a tighter leash, it’s true. But the red-state vision is so much more “liberating” — no one else will say so, anywhere — than what the New York Times has offered here.

Once you start to think about it, self-censorship-through-good-manners is much more liberating than the blue-state “anything goes” model. Perhaps it wouldn’t be that way, if the blue states really meant what they said when they said anything goes — clearly, they really don’t. But congratulations to the New York Times for articulating what they mean when they talk about “American”. Now we know what country they’re from, and it isn’t America! They boarded a steamship over here from that country, wherever it is, where everyone has to put up with anything at anytime and anyplace. Except for, of course, when the elites in power decide your free speech falls into the “anything but” category, and you must now be prosecuted for a hate crime.

Wow, They DO Work For Us After All II

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Wow, They DO Work For Us After All II

Thanks to Bill O’Reilly for pointing this out on his radio program. He’s not supposed to be a “conservative”, but like any “conservative” he started going off about “you’re not going to hear about this anywhere else.” That statement was almost completely correct. I did find this article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the Senate telling the American Civil Liberties Union to KSDASTFU (that’s Kindly Sit Down And Shut Up for the uninitiated) by a vote of 98-0. That is ninety-eight to zip.

In a 98-0 vote, the Senate approved the provision continuing the hosting of Boy Scout events as part of massive bill setting Defense Department policy for next year.
:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., a former Boy Scout who sponsored the Senate provision, said it is necessary to push back on a spate of lawsuits to limit Boy Scout activities on government property.
:
Frist said it ”removes any doubt that federal agencies may welcome Scouts to hold meetings, go camping on federal property or hold scouting events and public forums” on government property.

That Frist has done better things with his life than I have with mine, is probably because Frist was a better Boy Scout than I was. Many Boy Scouts were better than me, but at the same time, if I were not a Boy Scout I probably wouldn’t be as good a man as I am today. Scouting is good for boys, and because it is, it is good for all of us. Things that help the Boy Scouts help us all, and things that hurt the Boy Scouts hurt us all.

I do not have any positive or negative personal experiences with the ACLU, nor do I expect to have any. But they get under my skin for a variety of reasons. The fact that they are liberal, is way, way down on the list.

  • They’re liars. They present themselves as being anti-authority and therefore working hard to protect our rights in the event the “authority” starts to infringe upon those rights, either maliciously or negligently. To achieve that mission, however, the ACLU would have to be values-neutral. They aren’t. They would have to define their mission very deliberately and very concisely, and continually monitor their performance in adhering to that mission. They don’t.
  • They generate work for themselves by lowering our national pain threshold. I detest people and organizations that lower the national pain threshold, especially those who do it to drum up business. Being hung from a tree because you had sex with a woman with a different skin color, is different from driving to work, seeing a cross on a hill, and being offended. Anybody who says different just needs to get a grip.
  • They address intellectually legitimate criticism directed toward their organization, by simply marginalizing it. They’re fond of saying “everyone hates the ACLU, until they need us and then they don’t” or some such thing. So because I’ve never needed the ACLU, I’m not allowed to have an opinion. Last I checked, when firemen get implicated in sex scandals, they aren’t allowed to use that excuse — although they certainly could.
  • They & their defenders have shown a pattern of defending the Union by presenting it as supported with private donations from individuals concerned about liberty, imposing no burden whatsoever on the taxpayers. This is a sham. The Union has been using 42 USC �1988 “Proceedings in vindication of civil rights” as a siphon into the treasury for decades now. Once again, we find ourselves subsidizing the leftist agenda to an extent well beyond what we would want to do voluntarily. It’s a wolf of coercion in sheeps-clothing of “freedom.”
  • Last but not least, as the ACLU selectively applies its non-neutral schedule of values it likes & values it doesn’t, we continually observe a pattern of upholding chaos and deteriorating order. Why does NAMBLA get such good treatment? Why do the Boy Scouts get all the abuse? Is there anyone out there who thinks the Scouts are “something akin to a hate group” as the New York Times was quoted? Anyone paying attention, would have to conclude the ACLU simply doesn’t like what the Boy Scouts do. The ACLU will not thrive in a nation of John-Boy Waltons, as well as it will in a nation of Bart Simpsons. Scouting is the enemy of dysfunction — they do good things for a boy’s future, nobody anywhere with any reputation to protect is disputing this! — therefore, as far as the ACLU is concerned scouting must die.

So here’s a big atta-boy to Bill O’Reilly, and the Salt Lake Tribune, for writing this up — O’Reilly is right, you won’t hear about this from too many places. And a huge thank you to the Senate for protecting the Boy Scouts, which have done this country so much good, in their time of need. And, for throwing a big ol’ stinky wet ice bag on the hot horny scrotum that is the ACLU.

Buffoon

Friday, July 29th, 2005

Buffoon

buf�foon
Pronunciation: (")b&-'f�n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French bouffon, from Old Italian buffone
1 : a ludicrous figure : CLOWN
2 : a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person
- buf�foon�ish /-'f�-nish/ adjective

I’m going to have to go with Definition #1 in applying this to Jesse Jackson, who is protesting the fact that ESPN’s “50 state tour” does not include the District of Columbia.

Oh, my God. His deflation before the national stage has been getting more & more painful to watch for a long time now. He has been “a ludicrous figure” since, at the very least, 1984 when he ran for President under the “I’m so far left I can’t even walk down the street without getting swimmer’s ear” ticket.

He must know several things that I don’t. From where I sit, he is a very silly man who has managed to stay in the news only because if you run a corporation, and Jackson has you in his sites, you will hand him a large bundle of cash. Take away the inevitable success of those glorified, sensationalized, long-drawn-out liquor store robberies, and Jackson loses his coverage and therefore his livelihood. Would this latest protest not make that happen? I would think so. That is what I would have guessed. But since Jesse Jackson apparently disagrees, I defer to his superior expertise in this matter, and expect his career to keep on humming along.

I do think there is an unemployment line somewhere with a place for him. He’ll be there, just as soon as his supporters start to think “wait a minute…how would I like it if some bozo ‘protested’ any little thing I did? Cream in my coffee, wine instead of beer, elevator instead of stairs…why, I wouldn’t like that at all.” Just a simple thought flickering between a few pairs of ears, and he’s out of a job. I do think it’ll happen. Sucks to be him.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form III

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Yesterday morning I had a few words to say about John Roberts, the new Supreme Court nominee about which everybody who’s anybody would like to know a little bit more than they currently do, and I confess to being poorly equipped to add much to that research project. But it’s always interested me how labels like “conservative” and “liberal” mean different things in the court, than they do in other aspects of politics. People who look upon nominees with great excesses of glee or dread, tend to forget that. In summary, anyplace outside of the court, “liberalism” means turning the clock back to the 1960′s — the childhood era for many of the people who are now in powerful positions today, so they can have a nostalgia trip at everybody else’s expense. It is loaded with contradictory positions and doesn’t have a lot of framework or principle anymore like it used to. It has morphed into just a big tootpaste tube full of a giant war-protestin’, baby-killin’, civil-rights-marchin’, scandal-mongerin’, global-warmin’, anti-capitalist mish-mash. “Conservatism” refers to an absence of this mish-mash.

You might say America is like the thirty-something woman who spent her young adulthood doing every kind of drug and screwing every wrong kind of guy, and is ready to take her flock of whelps and her sporadic child support receipts & offer a ready-made family to a Nice Guy. We’ve had our fun and are ready to grow up — bring on the mortgage payments, the tax forms, the yardwork. Conservatives are in favor of the growing up, liberals want a retreat. In that way, conservatives want progress, liberals want to stay the course. Kinda funny.

In the court system, “conservatism” refers to reading the Constitution, or whatever law applies to the appeal, indictment or suit, and using the text of that law as a primary means of handing down a reversal or affirmation. This is pretty simple stuff if the law is written well. The “conservative” branch starts to split up when the law is written poorly. But on the whole, people we label with this word agree on the general concept: If two laws conflict irreconcilably, point it out that they do, and if they don’t, point out that they don’t.

“Liberalism,” otherwise known as “activism,” means to indulge in a calculation about which interest groups would be hurt or helped by an affirmation, and which interest groups would be hurt or helped by a reversal. Once that is known, you figure out how to hand down a ruling that will help the group that possesses the greater political capital, then you have your clerks look up things that will help justify this ruling. Lately, this has evolved to the extent that those clerks can do their poking around overseas, pulling in charters from Europe and South Africa — anything to help the cause. With that in mind, I said the following about what little I know of John Roberts:

If John Roberts is what he appears to be, the effect would be a partial moderation of the Supreme Court. After all, this would have prevented the damage of Grutter v. Bollinger, but not of Kelo v. New London or Atkins v. Virginia. What do you call a successful confirmation here? A good start.

I don’t know if the Wall Street Journal editors read my blog. I would expect hardly anybody does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in “Review & Outlook” this morning.

It’s possible that the nominee might not be as willing to overturn precedent as Justices Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas, but he seems to be someone with deeper roots in the original Constitution than either Justice Sandra Day O’Connor or Justice Anthony Kennedy. While we won’t agree with every Roberts opinion, it’s impossible to see him making the law up as he goes along. And if confirmed he is thus likely to move the High Court marginally, but importantly, back toward where it was before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg replaced Byron White in 1993.

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

Hooray, We’re Thinking About Doing Something

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Hooray, We’re Thinking About Doing Something

One of the most interesting things to happen this week is that Howard Dean, the crazy uncle in the basement of the Democratic party, has been allowed to actually write the talking points for them. I guess that’s his job now. Soon after President Bush announced his nomination of Judge John G. Roberts for the Supreme Court seat being left by Sandra O’Connor, Dean commented in a press release how suspicious it was that the Karl Rove scandal was being blasted off the front pages by this new hubbub about court appointments. Right Howard, we can’t have a President actually doing what he’s supposed to do, can we. Within mere hours, Democratic leaders in Congress, talk show hosts, bloggers and hotheaded anonymous thread posters were sharing the old-weird-uncle’s musings, often word-for-word. Yeah, that’s right. Democrats were angry with Republicans for not actually helping to bring down their own administration, over a scandal that wasn’t. Maybe this is what starving deer hunters mean when they talk about leaving the rifles at home and talking the deer into committing suicide — today’s Democrats actually think that’s the way to get the job done.

My complaint, in the meantime, was that the Rove scandal was the distraction. I was looking for news on the fence reinforcing our rapidly dissipating “border” with Mexico. Well, lookee here. We have a story. “Construction crews are expected to begin building a reinforced concrete barrier along sections of the U.S.-Mexico border next month.”

This would tend to indicate both my Federal government, and my free press, are doing their jobs. Somewhat. It’s awfully late in the game and this is not very much meat, barely any at all. But I’m like a starving dog here and I’m not going to insist on a T-bone steak.

Liar of the Week

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Liar of the Week

“Liar” is a pretty harsh word, not to be thrown around casually — although you wouldn’t know that, if MoveOn.org and the Kerry campaign of ’04 and Michael Moore were your models. Before we apply it to anything, let us look it up in Merriam-Webster shall we.

lie
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lied; ly�ing /'lI-i[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lEogan; akin to Old High German liogan to lie, Old Church Slavonic lugati
intransitive senses
1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression
transitive senses : to bring about by telling lies lied his way out of trouble>

Democrats should like this definition a lot, because they are big fans of muddying the distinction between fact and opinion, and there is nothing here about distinguishing between fact and opinion when you say someone lied. In other words, it is perfectly valid to have an unprovable opinion, about someone telling a lie. According to Definition 2, you don’t even need to say something untrue, in order to be a liar. The intent to deceive is adequate.

According to that, then, I nominate a certain highly-respected (by someone somewhere) United States Senator for Liar of the Week, who yesterday, discussing the nomination of Judge John Roberts, was caught saying on the Senate floor:

I will not decide whether to support or oppose him based on any single issue…what all Americans deserve to know is whether Judge Roberts respects the core values of the Constitution and falls within the conservative mainstream of America, along the lines of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

In order to believe this does not qualify as a lie, you have to believe Senator Edward M. Kennedy is still in the process of making up his mind about the Roberts nomination and as of yesterday remained in a state of uncertainty about his vote.

Granted, that this is not the case, is purely a matter of my own opinion.

But does anybody believe it to be true? Anybody at all?

Then why do we so regularly put up with this B.S.? It is a certainty that Sen. Kennedy has already decided to oppose the nomination, and is simply waiting for some material to roll in so he can make something out of it at the hearings. For forty-three years his modus operandi has been to identify his enemies, and inflict embarrassment upon them at any opportunity. Facts, to Senator Kennedy, have simply been mechanisms used to inflict this embarrassment, not to actually decide an issue. He’ll change now?

I will never be as “great” a public official as Senator Kennedy. I would not have driven drunk, with or without Mary Jo Kopechne, and once the worst somehow befell us, I would have tried to save her. Failing that, I would have immediately tried to get help. But most of all, had that situation gone down the way it did, if someone walked up to me and said “don’t worry Senator Freeberg, we’ll make sure you’ve got another 36 years of building a distinguished political career by embarrassing and yelling at people” I would have said “Are you kidding?? I just killed a woman by being a drunk negligent pussy coward, how in the world could I pull that off?”

You do know yesterday was the anniversary of Mary Jo saving us from a Ted Kennedy presidency, don’t you?

They Get Way Too Much Attention

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

They Get Way Too Much Attention

Nobody reads this blog, but if & when someone does trip across it I think it’s only courteous to give such a visitor a good balance between serious issues and silly stuff. I have not done that lately, which stands to reason somewhat because I’m not too funny of a guy. But in the post below, I have a partial list of “groups of people who get way too much attention in directing the subtle movements of our prevailing culture and the not-so-subtle movements of our public policy.” Filling this list out would be productive. Starting a national dialog about what should be added to it, would be even more productive. We seem to be up to our armpits in groups of people who get to direct what we all do, what we all think, who we elect, where things move to, what’s in style — with little to no reason. Which is another way of saying if the following suddenly suffered a Rodney Dangerfield “get no respect” problem, we’d all be better off.

  • Celebrities with political opinions
  • American Idol
  • Politicians and journalists who want to talk about Abu Ghraib
  • Women giving advice to their husbands
  • Britney Spears-Federline
  • John McCain
  • People calling the sales lady on the phone when you’re standing right in front of her
  • The “hah hah hah we love to laugh at dopey men” crowd
  • Joe Wilson
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Football and basketball stars
  • Jesse Jackson
  • The “whoosh” sound during Xena Warrior Princess — mostly inappropriate
  • Television evangelists
  • Survivor
  • Katie Couric
  • Women who wear pant suits
  • Kids who want to get tattoos
  • Hillary Clinton
  • People who like it when the camera shakes around a lot during movie action scenes
  • Paris Hilton
  • People who think the Supreme Court’s job is to keep abortion legal
  • Women with short hair
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
  • People who think a movie or TV show improves when it tells you what to think

One little-known fact about me is that, by choice, I don’t have any television. Because I think it is stupid. I’m sure if someone’s reading this and they have a cable or dish subscription, they could add quite a few other things.

Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn

A few days ago, Laura Bush took a breather from senselessly ridiculing her husband long enough to direct him to pick a woman as the next Supreme Court justice. Link, link, link, link, link. I had a high level of respect for the First Lady before her shameless pandering to the “hah hah hah we love to laugh at dopey men” crowd, and I was hoping for something to restore my esteem to its previous levels. This did not do the trick. Actually, if I had to make a list of groups of people who get way too much attention in directing the subtle movements of our prevailing culture and the not-so-subtle movements of our public policy, I’m sure the top ten would include:

  • Women giving advice to their husbands
  • The previously-mentioned “hah hah hah we love to laugh at dopey men” crowd
  • People who think the Supreme Court’s job is to keep abortion legal

Hell, that would probably be in the top five. Maybe the top three.

Come to think of it, a woman giving advice to her husband, has not preceeded any firestorm of noteworthy, blazing success in human history since, I don’t know, since Eve told Adam to bite the apple. And we all know how that turned out. Seriously, why do we continue to believe, against the evidence, that this is a good thing? He got the gig; she didn’t. You want her opinion to prevail, elect her.

Is anyone prepared to argue that if a woman interprets the constitution poorly, and a man interprets it competently, that the woman should get the nod because of her gentalia? Who are these people who believe this? What pinheads. Why does anyone listen to them?

So President Bush somewhat restored the level of respect he’s earned from me in this whole affair, by telling her to stick it. His wife, on the other hand, did not. Not unless this was all a public-relations stunt to show people the President is his own man, and his wife was in on the show. Which actually is pretty believable.

So what are we to expect from John Roberts? It looks pretty good. I have not been able to find any history of inventing brand-spanking-new rights from the bench for women, unions, tree-huggers, artists who dunk crucifixes in urine, quota queens, welfare queens or terrorists. So I remain optimistic, although I have good reason to be only cautiously so. (That last link should be required reading — VERY good.) The Supreme Court, in our era of rendering things unconstitutional like a monkey with a spinning dart board, has been an endless cornucopia of back-stabbing and treachery — only on the conservative side.

If John Roberts is what he appears to be, the effect would be a partial moderation of the Supreme Court. After all, this would have prevented the damage of Grutter v. Bollinger, but not of Kelo v. New London or Atkins v. Virginia. What do you call a successful confirmation here? A good start.

How to Be a Good Wife

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

How to Be a Good Wife

The best knowledge we collectively have at this date falls short of confirming or disproving “How to Be a Good Wife” as a genuine article of dusty literature, but it may as well be real for all the fuss, chuckling, contemptuous snorting, and eyeball-rolling it has caused over the years. For the uninitiated, these are ten “tips” about pleasing your man that were supposed to have appeared in a 1955 issue of aw, who the hell knows what. Sources vary as “Housekeeping Monthly” or “a home economics textbook”. It’s always fun to hand over the tips to a coarse, brittle, man-bashing feminist, and stand back & watch the sparks fly:

  • Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.
  • Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.

And so on and so on. Available ladies, prepare yourselves for a shocker. A smart man who is anxious for you to sleep with him, will outwardly snicker and guffaw right along with you at these laughable anachronisms. But most men, when you aren’t in the room, agree that about half of these points are pretty good ideas. In fact, if you’re trying to make a good impression on a typical man, you’d better be selective about which lines get a snort and which ones don’t.

As a man, throughout my age of availability, when I was in the market (I no longer am), I used to keep my eyes peeled and ears open for which line got the most derisive chuckle from an object of my affection. As I became older and wiser, with relationship disasters behind me, I observed things like this more and more carefully. And gradually I became aware that all the other wise, careful men, were doing the same thing.

Men just don’t look at these “tips” the same way as women. So ladies, if you’re reviewing this article in the company of your man (who probably brought it to you, right?), do your snorting and eyeball-rolling carefully. Many of you could do with a male perspective, and I’ve probably dated a lot more women than you have. So take note of the following, especially the score on a scale of 0, yeah this one’s a crock, through 10, if you have a problem with this I have a problem with you.

  • “A good wife always knows her place.” Score: 1. If this is serious at all, it was written by a man. What a dick.
  • “Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children’s hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.” Score: 1.5. Children are children. Home is home. If they can’t play there they can’t play anywhere, and if they can’t play anywhere the man ends up spending a lot of money to listen to some egghead tell him about ADD and ADHD, which they didn’t have in 1955. Who the hell needs it?
  • “Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.” Score: 2. What a load of crap. Building fire is a man’s job. Who in the world wants to come home to a wife going on about “Hah, hah, I can build a fire quicker than you can, nyah nyah nyah.” Let’s face it, if a woman builds a fire nowadays and actually gets it going, that’s the first thing she’s gonna do. I just got home from work for Chrissakes.
  • “Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives.” Score: 3. Make one last trip? What am I supposed to be doing, putting on a white glove and conducting an inspection? I don’t feel like it. Besides, I’m a man. Men don’t see dirt.
  • “Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper, etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables.” Score: 3. Make sure I’m not likely to trip over anything, and I’m happy as a clam. See above. What is this thing you women call “dust”?
  • “Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low soothing and pleasant voice.” Score: 3. I’ll settle for “don’t hysterically yell at me”. If your natural voice is soprano, a low soothing voice would probably freak me out.
  • “Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.” Score: 4. There is something to this. Fifteen minutes is not much, and if I have to come home to a frazzled harridan who’s bitching and kvetching about how tough she has it and how busy she is (which over the years, I have had to do), it tells me this is a woman who likes to start fights. I’m not saying such grievances are unreasonable — us men can avoid work, ingeniously, without knowing we’re doing it. But there are ways to address the unfair labor distribution without blowing up at the poor guy. And hey, if fifteen minutes can put you in a better mood when the poor slob gets home, and you fail to get that done, what does it say about your time management skills for the rest of your day? Any man with a brain is going to have a tough time assuming the lion’s share of the blame, even if he knows he is partially guilty.
  • “Don’t complain if he’s late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day.” Score: 4. The “stays out all night” is completely unreasonable. Really, it depends on the prior plans made. But I went and gave it a four because hey, if you know something is keeping him, and you bawl him out anyway, you’re being a bitch. It’s not 1955 anymore. There are microwaves.
  • “Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favorite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed.” Score: 5. If the menu, Monday through Friday, as well as the weekend, is “whatever you feel like whipping up or ordering in, because I’m way too tired” then as a woman, you don’t really want to be married or live with a man. Hell yeah, it makes us feel unwelcome. Men who agree with you in guffawing at this, are liars. They are after some poontang.
  • “Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead try to understand his world of strain and pressure, and his very real need to be at home and relax.” Score: 5. I’m assuming there was some advance planning involved. Granted, if the ol’ lady is slaving over a hot stove all afternoon and she gets a phone call at six o’clock that he’s decided to get a meal at Black Angus with the guys, then that’s what normal people call an “asshole.”
  • “Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.” Score: 6. You’re Goddamn right. Who in his right mind wants to come home to some raging butterface bitch pissing & moaning about the asshole who cut you off on the freeway without signalling, your car is making some funny noise, etc. etc. Ladies, face it. Any man who was weak enough to learn to adapt to that every night without complaint, you wouldn’t want after awhile.
  • “Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.” Score: 6. I can see why if you’ve got your own problems you might be preoccupied from doing this, but what in the hell would be wrong with it every now and then? Like ooh, we’ve really condemned you to indentured servitude, now that we’ve got you bringing us glasses with liquid in them. Get a grip, gals.
  • “Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquillity where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit.” Score: 6.5. Sounds like a great goal to me. You have to grant me this much: If you succeed at the goal, the marriage will probably work, and if you don’t, it probably won’t. If you’re unwilling to concede that, but have never actually tried it, it’s pretty tough to take you seriously. Besides, if a woman really does make that her goal and starts to succeed at it on a regular basis, it will be dang nigh impossible to get cross with her, act surly around her, develop any laziness about getting her the things she wants — basically, being a nurturing, supportive husband would become an unavoidable habit.
  • “Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.” Score: 7. If I was on a first-date with a woman and she snorted or rolled her eyes at that one, there would not be a second date, I guaran-damn-tee it. Women who don’t want to please men, waste perfectly good vital organs, corneas, vaginas and skin that could be used by somebody else.
  • “Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.” Score: 7. Of course I am assuming you really have no right to question him. If it’s a money thing under discussion, and the woman is working or has taken over the bill-paying, naturally that goes out the window. But a lot of women like to declare the upkeep of the cars, or the finances, or in some cases even the pets’ veterinary needs “Not My Turf” and let the stud take care of it all. Once that’s relinquished, there’s no getting it back again. Let him exercise the judgment you have chosen to trust. And if there’s anybody else in the room who isn’t in the marriage, even the kids, then save your questions for private one-on-one time. This is just common sense, to everyone except for women who like to get married so they can do a lot of arguing.
  • “Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first -remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.” Score: 7. I agree, not because he’s the man and she’s the woman, but because, Jesus H. Christ the poor bastard just got home. It’s just like letting people walk out of an elevator before you walk on. A chatterbox putting me in my place as the “shoulder to cry on” when I walk in my own front door, makes me wonder why I’m walking through that door and not some other door. And it’s an appalling lack of common sense.
  • “Be happy to see him.” Score: 8. Any woman who would object to that, I don’t even want to know.
  • “Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.” Score: 9. This should be grounds for divorce.

The Funny Thing About Charity

Tuesday, July 19th, 2005

The Funny Thing About Charity

While we endlessly scrutinize the crime that Karl Rove appears to have not committed, at the expense of figuring out when the California-Mexico wall is going up, and willfully ignore how our diplomatic good intentions may be blinding us to where Osama bin Laden is & how to get him, one of the other things that isn’t getting a lot of press is the Live 8 concert. And why should it? The Live 8 concert came and went, they played on their guilt trip, whoever would fall for it fell for it, whoever wouldn’t, didn’t. Time to tune out, right?

Maybe not. Now is the time when this whole event starts to educate us about charity, how it works, and how it goes wrong. We Americans are very fortunate. Our standard of living is so high, that this is literally part of our everyday lives — we just seldom pay attention to it. That we are wealthy enough to have so much opportunity to destroy people by donating to them, and the fact that we have so much choice in ignoring this, are testaments to how good we really have it. Much is made of the responsibility that America has to the rest of the world. Perhaps among those responsibilities we have, is to educate ourselves on what really happens when we donate.

And I’m a big fan of paying attention to how you go about thinking about things. Toward that end, I’ve cited two articles: “Talk Show Hosts Are Losers [Especially Neal Boortz]” by one Stephen Lonewolf Makama, who appears to have discovered Mr. Boortz for the first time; and “Snapping fingers at African aid” by Washington Times columnist Suzanne Fields.

There are two things I’d like to point out about Mr. Makama’s column: One, he suffers from a certain scope creep. His column is supposed to be about talk show hosts being losers, which if that were so, it would not make for suitable material here because if I included it then, I’d be the one suffering scope creep. But if you read his column, his primary point is really that we should be supporting the Live 8 donations to Africa, come what may, and by uttering a peep of protest Neal Boortz has cemented his reputation as a penny-pinching tightass — therefore anybody else who does the same is just as bad.

The other thing I’d like to point out is that Makama appears to be kind of a numbers-driven guy; the “0.7% of GDP” targeted by the Live 8 folks is mentioned twice, while the cause-and-effect issue is never mentioned at all. This is probably important, because knowing what I do about what Neal Boortz writes, it’s nearly certain that Boortz made an issue out of cause & effect — not about “0.7%” — in whatever found its way to Makama.

Ms. Fields, on the other hand, has an interesting case to make about what happens to the money when it goes where it’s going. It would have been pretty neat to read what Mr. Makama’s response to this would be. Unfortunately, neither Makama, nor people of like mind, to the best of my knowledge have ever addressed this.

The entire argument boils down to this: The aid does more harm than good. Yes, but you can afford it.

The aid does more harm than good.

[Kenyan economist James] Shikwati describes what he sees as the disastrous result of aid to Africa. Not only do African leaders exploit it for their own purposes, stuffing their pocketbooks and adding to their power, but aid weakens local markets, destroys incentives and fosters corruption and complacency.

Yes, but you can afford it.

Americans working hard my foot! How about worked – hard-on-them funky-cotton -plantations? Mr. Boortz… ancestors of these same blacks you�re denigrating built up this country you�re so cosy in about – 0.7% GNP and all.

The aid does more harm than good.

[Shikwati] scoffs at the motives of the United Nations World Food Program, “which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of . . . being dedicated to the fight against hunger while . . . being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated.”

Yes, but you can afford it.

Look Mr. Boortz if you don’t want to give, its fine and good besides maybe your great- greats were stingy Dutch (or wherever) anyway, so we can understand your penny pinching , but good hard working Americas have a big heart at giving, so let em.

The aid does more harm than good.

Local merchants lose their livelihoods because no one in the low-wage world of Africa can compete with the donated products that find their way to the black market. In 1997, 137,000 workers were employed in Nigeria’s textile industry; six years later, the figure had fallen to 57,000.

Yes, but you can afford it.

Mr. Boo…ortz goes on and on and on and on about why Americans shouldn�t give up 0.7% GNP U.S. to aid Africa – jeepers is the guy far right, far left or just plain far stingy?

I would hasten to add that with the issues about which we argue, most of the arguments are like this. The conservative says “the effects of what we’re doing here, aren’t quite as rosy as you might think” and the liberal counterargument, far from actually addressing this, instead goes into a replay of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” pontificating about what must motivate anyone who isn’t quite so quick to pass the hat.

This is probably the one way we Americans have the greatest effect on the rest of the world (which we’re constantly reminded, mostly by those who want us to kick in the bucks, absolutely hates us). If a plausible argument can be made that we are perhaps doing more harm than good, doesn’t it make sense to have some more solid arguments on whether or not that is indeed the case?

What Color Cake To Let Them Eat?

Monday, July 18th, 2005

What Color Cake To Let Them Eat?

This is a story that has been zipping around under a very low profile outside New York City, but it would appear that is slowly changing and I suspect it’s going to continue to change. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, running in the Democratic Primary for Mayor of New York, has circulated a flyer with a photograph of her supporters that has apparently been altered. Cynical Nation has one of the best scans of the photo, before & after, which I have hot-linked below and of course will remove upon request. Fields, according to the latest news I can dig up, is denying any knowledge or involvement in the alteration.

Now let us ponder what this proves, what it almost proves, and what it simply suggests, and then cogitate upon where this must lead.

Someone who has an interest in the Fields campaign, has taken the time & trouble to change the racial makeup of the people with whom the candidate is photographed. We could argue back & forth about whether that person or party wants to see the candidate win or lose, but it seems a given that they have access to printed materials being developed to advance the candidacy, so they probably want her to win.

A week ago I pointed out that in our present culture, when we talk about “diversity” being a good thing, we’re being reverse-racist as you can possibly be because the d-word describes a positive quality toward which our political leaders don’t think white guys can contribute in any way. I was writing about a newspaper article in London regarding the terrorist bombings there, so I take this as a global phenomenon. Things that are solid white, are bad, things that aren’t, are good. And a white-nonwhite hybrid of any kind, the darker it is, the better it is. When we use the d-word, we’re saying we want things to be heterogenous, but what we’re really indulging in is an Animal Farm type of four-legs-good, two-legs-bad lazy thinking.

So the voters, who appear to desire more Asian faces, or are thought by someone to desire this, elect leaders who are going to represent their interests. But wait a minute. If a leader is competitive enough and clever enough to see that a photoshop job is needed before a flyer can go out, that leader has to be out to win, right? And if you’re out to win, you have to appoint people to key positions who know how to win. Not people with a certain color skin…people who will win. Those are two different goals. That a situation may arise from time to time, where these two goals happen to intersect, is irrelevant. They’re still different, and to be effective over the long term, a leader has to embrace one and favor it over the other.

So appearances would indicate the voters are voting for someone who will appoint people with Asian faces (or whom people with Asian faces can support), who then, appoints people likely to get jobs done, regardless of the color of their skin, while pretending to appoint people of a favored ethnicity. The leader’s job, then, has been re-defined to a gig where you pretend outwardly to be doing one thing, while in reality you’re doing something else. So look what has happened here — the issue of racial makeup has been thrust into the public discourse, and as a result, we have to elect leaders who pledge to separate their public personas from the guiding principles of their inner sanctums.

It is a promotion of dishonesty. Anyone who votes for this kind of thing, is voting for leaders who will willingly lie to them.

There is a great example of this kind of thing from last year. In spring of 2004, Claremont McKenna College psychology Professor Kerri Dunn reported to police that her car had been vandalized in an apparent hate crime. Racial epithets were spray-painted onto the body of her car, her tires were slashed, her windows broken. The next day, she gave an impassioned, fiery speech, not for a family audience, about how strongly she disapproved of the mindset of these racist hooligans. Within a week after that speech, police were saying she vandalized her own car. Professor Dunn was put on trial for fraud, convicted, and ordered to undergo psychiatric review.

Professor Dunn doesn’t need any such review. Her psychiatric facilities work just fine. She had a goal, put a plan in place to achieve it, and executed it.

No, the little people are to blame here. The masses are asses. You can hear them in this recording of her speech. These are people so passionate about the issue of hate crimes, they have been sent out on a silly witch hunt for no real perpetrators at all.

The Fields Scandal begins with prejudice, and it ends with fraud. The Dunn crime begins with prejudice, and ends with fraud. The more obsessed we are with skin color, the more easily played we are, like musical instruments.

Politicians are supposed to figure out which way a parade is going, and then run to the front of it. We are in perpetual danger — at any time, and on any issue — of being governed by leaders who can out-think us, and send us scrambling off in a certain direction so they can rush to the front of it with the benefit of advance preparation. Now once a politician successfully pulls that off, how much real respect can that politician hold for the commoners? Not much. It is not intellectually possible to tell the public what it’s supposed to think on one issue, and then stand by ready to receive your grassroots instructions in a democratic model on other issues. You would have to be Machiavellian across-the-board. So that leader would have to end up like Marie Antoinette, saying “Let Them Eat Cake.”

I think C. Virginia Fields is guilty as all hell, although there is no way to prove this yet. I think politicians do this all the time. I think the only difference between Kerri Dunn, and most of our diversity-minded politicians, is a beat-up car, a pipe wrench, and a false police report. They’re agitating public unrest were there previously was none, and reaping the political benefits of it. It is a cheap, easy, sleazy substitute for quality leadership, and I hope when people are guilty of falling for it, they rightfully blame themselves and look at the charlatan elites as symptomatic of something infected deep below the surface, which those people can see in the mirror.

I hope that. But I’m not holding my breath.

The Fun Begins

Friday, July 15th, 2005

The Fun Begins

The scandal is down, the scandal is down. It’s biting dirt, and it’s biting hard. The Karl Rove, Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, Outing a Covert Agent, Treason blah blah blah scandal‘s shoulders are pinned to the mat. Gone is the “he broke the law” canard. Gone is the “outed her to wreak vengeance” canard. The “should be hanged for treason” train has left the station.

It looks like Rove can’t be indicted for committing any crime here, and that’s if you believe everything that has been said by the Democrats. Every little thing, swallow it uncritically, unchallenged. But why should you? What they say depends on the premise that Rove was the original source of this “leak,” and that’s assuming there was any leak at all. Reasons to doubt this, are mounting, and reasons to believe it, have never exactly been in abundance.

I’m ready to call this now. It’s my birthday, I get to call things. Washington scandals do tend to be like bouncing footballs, I know, but I think this one’s close enough to call. It’s on the home stretch, and I see no reason to await logical arguments and cohesive digestion of available facts, from a noisy group of whiners that have never supplied either since this “scandal” began. Let’s have fun instead.

Fun with “Liberal Deny-Reality Bingo.” Gather the family around the TV and the radio. Go over that Letters to the Editor page in the paper, as well as the editorials put together by those wise, cool-headed professional journalists. Argue with some nameless, faceless, hotheads on the Internet. Who can get five-in-a-row first? Will it be Mom or Dad? Or Peter, Marcia, Bobby, Cindy, maybe Alice?

Imitation is the Sincerest Form II

Friday, July 15th, 2005

Back on Wednesday, I had written about the whole Karl Rove, Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, Outing a Covert Agent, Treason blah blah blah scandal. Call it what you will. Interested readers — there are some, sometimes — had been nagging at me to work on getting more substance out while using fewer words to carry it. For quite some time now. Since the third or fourth grade maybe (I’m 39 today).

It is a complex thing, to try to say this: We do not know for a fact that Karl Rove is innocent of what he’s been accused of, but we should be nearly certain of it, because there are people who have access to privileged information we do not have. Those people probably know without a doubt whether or not Rove is guilty of a crime. If he were guilty, they would know, and they would not be behaving the way they are behaving. I believed that then, and I believe it now, but the point was simply a bunny-trail, a side-point, from what I was really writing about. The way I had chosen to impart this, was the following:

But other things are gathering dust while they’re [the press] trying to figure out if a crime has been committed — knowing that there are people who know if a crime has been committed or not, and that those people would be behaving differently if a crime had, indeed, been commited.

I don’t know if James Taranto, the esteemed editor of “Best of the Web,” the daily Wall Street Journal column, reads my blog. I would expect hardly anybody does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in his column this morning.

Let’s conduct a little thought experiment, shall we? Suppose that people in Washington generally had the sense that Karl Rove was soon to be indicted in the Valerie Plame kerfuffle. How would they react?

It seems to us the White House would be working to distance itself from Rove, possibly planning for him to make a quiet exit, much as John Kerry’s campaign “disappeared” Joe Wilson last summer when Wilson’s credibility fell apart. The Democrats, on the other hand, would act high-minded and talk of “letting the process work,” at least as long as Rove remained on the job. An actual indictment, after all, would do maximal political damage to the Bush administration.

Instead, the White House (which knows a lot more about the investigation than any of us) is confidently standing behind Rove, while the Democrats are waging a hysterical attack that would be premature if it were based on anything real. Partisan Democrats don’t want to talk about the facts of the case (facts are irrelevant, as a former Enron adviser insists) or about the law. They just want to pound the table and insist that Rove is metaphysically guilty.

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered. What had been just a sideways remark in my Wednesday ramblings, has morphed into a central thesis within his Friday column.

But there are other people who know more than the average bear, who are doing things they probably wouldn’t be doing if Rove was guilty of a crime. Philip Heymann, Clinton’s deputy attorney general, probably wouldn’t be granting an interview to Knight-Ridder to say this: “He has to find somebody who would say Rove knew that she was covert, that he knew that the government was making an effort to hide her identity…without [that], you don’t have a crime.”

This is old news to anyone who has the balls to check out a “right-wing nut” web site or radio show once in awhile. If you thrive on ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN/PBS alphabet soup, it probably comes as a real shocker.

Failing to Prove A

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

Failing to Prove A

When I was a little boy, I asked questions about Republicans and Democrats the way little boys ask questions about anything: I’d listen to the first twenty words or so of the answer, and then get fascinated in something else. I think the answers the adults were trying to give me, had something to do with “Republicans and Democrats both have the same goals in mind but they have different ways of going about achieving it.” Adulthood taught me something contrary to this, and then it taught me something contrary to it again, and again, and again, and again.

I think a young man coming of age would be much better served with the answer, “Republicans and Democrats view life and think about what they see in fundamentally different ways.” The Dime People (“not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties!”) vehemently protest this. But honestly, this myth about “same goals” doesn’t hold up very well. If I got a list started about these “same goals” I would have a tough time adding much into it, even across months or years. The truism that they think differently, on the other hand, seems to get proven with more and more certainty with each news event that comes along.

One of the defining differences between the two ways of thinking, is that Democrats frequently get confused between “Failing to Prove A” and “Successfully Proving !A” — when the former happens, they are frequently caught confusing it with the latter. The Weapons of Mass Destruction issue with Iraq is a perfect example of this. The successful proof of Not-A, most of us would agree, could be the only possible justification for some of the changes in policy upon which many of them insist: pulling out of Iraq, and impeaching the President for lying, are two things that come to mind. The Americans we call “mainstream” and “middle-of-the-road” would have a tough time supporting those things, knowing that a significant element of doubt exists. So, perhaps out of wishful thinking, the Democrat hierarchy simply forgets about the existing element of doubt. Yet when discussing a country the size of California, ankle- or knee-deep in sand the consistency of baby powder in which freakin’ jet fighters are known to have been hidden, only a buffoon would insist it is “proven” this area is clean of anything at all.

A second example comes to mind with former Ambassador Joe Wilson’s trip to Africa to figure out if Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire uranium from there. This is at the heart of what we call the “Plame Affair,” or the “Karl Rove Scandal”. To sum it up, at the conclusion of Wilson’s trip, he decided Iraq was not trying to acquire this uranium, based on…at this late date, I’m not sure what. My media won’t ask tough questions here. When the Senate subcommittee caught Joe Wilson red-handed, reporting things he couldn’t back up, he chalked it up to “a little literary flair.”

On at least two occasions [Wilson] admitted that he had no direct knowledge to support some of his claims and that he was drawing on either unrelated past experiences or no information at all.

For example, when asked how he “knew” that the Intelligence Community had rejected the possibility of a Niger-Iraq uranium deal, as he wrote in his book, he told Committee staff that his assertion may have involved “a little literary flair.”

This is that whole thing about “Bush Lied,” remember that? The President is supposed to have lied in his 2003 State of the Union address when he said:

The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

And sadly, we have a lot of Democrats running around offering opinions about lies, who would not be able to correctly diagram that sentence and tell you what it would take to refute it. Here’s a hint: The first five words are “The British government has learned” and the subject of the sentence is “British government.”

What does the British government have to say today? Much of the hubbub surrounds a document that is supposed to have backed up the President’s statement, which has since proven to be forged. Normal, dispassionate people would then say, refutation of the statement about uranium in Africa, would depend on the forged document being the sole-source of the claim. But Democrats don’t believe in that. A forgery means a failure to prove A, and that is equal to successfully proving Not-A. But the British government, which had a pivotal role in that whole issue, sides with the normal, dispassionate people:

Nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency, had subsequently said some documents supporting the uranium claim were forgeries.

But Lord Butler said the government had intelligence from “several different sources”.

“The forged documents were not available to the British government at the time its assessment was made and so the fact of the forgery does not undermine it,” the report said.

To call President Bush a liar without taking this into account, is pure ignorance. To take this into account and persist in calling Bush a liar, based on the uranium claim, is to engage in a serious logical fallacy. Either way, it’s not the kind of thinking in which sensible people entrust the national security.

If your wife suspects there is a wasp’s nest underneath the swing set your kids play on, you are probably going to engage in a certain style of thinking regardless of which political party you claim as yours. Democrats seem to be opposed to carrying that rational style of thinking, sterilized of tempting logical errors by the scorching heat of imminent personal danger, into public policy. If you look at the available facts, and think with the clear-headed kind of thinking you use when something really important to you is depending on you, you have to conclude that we haven’t caught President Bush in a lie just yet.

But you can’t say the same for Joseph Wilson.

The Other 68% Were Crap To Begin With

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

The Other 68% Were Crap To Begin With

We’ve had a real exciting week in the world of “studies,” at the very least in the realm of soda making people fat, which you can read about here and here and here and here. We still have two days to go before the week’s over, and what do we have here? A study-of-studies, 45 to be exact, saying 32% of all these studies turn out later to be just cock-and-bull stories and, by implication, do more harm than good if people pay attention to them.

Subsequent research contradicted results of seven studies — 16 percent — and reported weaker results for seven others, an additional 16 percent.

That means nearly one-third of the original results did not hold up, according to the report in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

What do you do if the money’s tight, and something goes on sale that you kinda-sorta need, but not really? Some people will pull out the credit card and go get the thing, since, after all, it’s on sale. But smart people will say hey, let’s wait awhile, since it’s not the highest priority. Maybe by the time it’s more important to us, it won’t be such a hot commodity, and we’ll end up getting it for just as good a deal as if it was on sale again.

Studies should be treated the same way. If soda does indeed make you fat, then it didn’t start making people fat in July of 2005.

You know what this reminds me of? Cell phones. Have you ever gotten off a cell phone call from your wife, or boss, or girlfriend, with a brand-new obligation to do something that requires an interruption from something else you were just about to do…and thought to yourself “you know, if there were fewer ways to communicate, I’d be getting more done”? Sometimes knowledge is not power.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

This is mighty peculiar. Apparently, you can now rob banks at the drive-through.

A bank robber behind the wheel of his car on Tuesday sent a note through a vacuum tube to the teller at the drive-through window at a branch of Chicago’s LaSalle Bank and the teller obliged, returning an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

It makes me think: My own bank has started a practice where you have to fill out your name, address and zip code, whenever you deposit a check. You deposit a check into two accounts, you have to fill out your address twice. So it gives me cause to wonder. When you rob a bank through the little pneumatic air tube, how many times do you have to fill out your address and zip code? Does it depend on how many accounts the cashier has to empty in order to get the amount of cash you demanded in your note?

The FBI said it was investigating the drive-through theft.

Oh yeah, do get back to us on what you found out. Inquiring minds want to know.

UPDATE: The amount of money involved was about $56,000. It would appear no further facts are forthcoming to make this story make some kind of sense, as I was hoping — thus far, it remains as simple as it sounded at first. Schooop! In goes a note. Schooop! Out comes the money. Vroom! Off they go.

Police say a man drove up to a LaSalle bank at 3301 N. Ashland about 8 a.m. Tuesday and slid a note demanding money to the teller through a tube at the window.

The teller complied, shooting back about $56,000, Belmont District police said.

C’mon…c’mon…there’s got to be more to it than that.

What’s Gathering Dust

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

What’s Gathering Dust

The Plame scandal is reaching a fevered pitch, because the White House keeps telling lies, or because the Democrats are getting desperate, depending on your point of view. The White House Press Corps is showing a great deal of diligence (link to video) trying to get Press Secretary Scott McClellan to comment about things that he specifically said he would not comment about.

I think we can all agree that a reporter can do some real, old-fashioned, hard-lined questioning, perhaps make his interview subject start crying, and still fall far short of the stick-to-it-iveness that was shown by these reporters. One wonders what is going on in the press: Do these reporters have to report back to Perry-White type editors, who will lay into ‘em if they don’t ask the right follow-up questions? One of the reporters, I noticed, was asking for the date that the White House was asked, by investigators, not to comment on the ongoing criminal investigation. The date. Wow, I guess I really don’t have what it takes to be a journalist — I never would have thought of asking this. And there I’d be in my editor’s office. “Uh, sir, well, the reason I didn’t ask about the date, was…I guess, golly, it simply hadn’t occured to me.” My illustrious career would end there.

Well here is what we know about what happens in the press.

The reporters have to answer to editors, publishers, producers, etc. who don’t do the actual work, but ultimately answer to shareholders. Those executives, in turn, have the job of making sure the television program or the newspaper, puts out a product that people want. If the product is something people want, the share price of the corporation that owns the enterprise, will go up. If it isn’t, the price will decline.

Supposedly, this provides “news” with an incentive to run what is really “news.” That’s the theory. This should, we expect, be guiding reporters as they decide “Scott McClellan gave us all the information on this we need and it’s time to move on,” or, “Scott McClellan is fudging and we should dig into this a little bit further.” Thus, when the reporters are going to such extraordinary lengths to get McClellan to say what he already said he wouldn’t say, they are acting in our interests.

Okay then. But other things are gathering dust while they’re trying to figure out if a crime has been committed — knowing that there are people who know if a crime has been committed or not, and that those people would be behaving differently if a crime had, indeed, been commited.

In an interview with Time Magazine, CIA Chief Porter Goss, in an interview for the June 27 issue, commented that he had an “excellent idea” where Osama bin Laden is hiding, but that our respect for sovereign nations makes it more difficult to stage a capture. Perhaps someone somewhere knows what became of this. I would think it would lead to some hard questioning of the White House, along the lines of what you see in the video linked above. I would like to see that. Make McClellan squirm over that. Why not?

I think it goes without saying that most of us have learned interesting things about the way intelligence and diplomacy works over the last three-and-a-half years. A lot of what we have learned, just leads to more questions. Perhaps if we learned about this kind of thing, it would start to make more sense — at any rate, isn’t this the kind of thing we’re all supposed to be worried about? A lot of liberals were reminding me the White House was losing track the primary objective, when we went into Iraq. Well then why not go after this like a pit bull on a pant leg? That would be in everybody’s best interest, wouldn’t it? Assuming everyone’s on the up-and-up.

Something is screwy. The reporters, editors, publishers and producers have decided that that is not as important as Karl Rove. Do they know something I don’t?

Another item gathering dust: In May, I congratulated the Senate for passing a bill that, among other things, provided funds for a fence spanning the California-Mexican border. One of the things we look to our press to do, is to follow-up on things. This cries out for follow-up. How’s it going? Do we really have to wait for Halliburton to be awarded a contract to pour the foundation, before the press smells some kind of “scandal” and re-discovers the story? Maybe it’s being talked about somewhere, but it’s too subtle for a dimbulb like me because I remain ignorant. How we doin’? Are we accepting bids? Are we pulling weeds, removing rattlesnake nests, hauling rocks away so the site can be prepped for a foundation? Is the fence already up? I’d rather tune in to Entertainment Tonight to see Martha Stewart complaining about the lack of decoration on the fence, than to get no news at all. This is among our biggest vulnerabilities, if not the biggest one. What’s happenin’?

But again, it’s not my job to make those decisions. Those who have the job to make those decisions, have decided the Karl Rove thing is much more important.

Again…do they know something I don’t? These are the people who specifically informed me, seven years ago, that a government official telling a lie was, in & of itself, not a cause for any concern.

Why then are we ignoring this vaporware fence, while getting the hard facts on what date the criminal investigators asked the White House not to comment on something?

Tweak a Geek III

Wednesday, July 13th, 2005

Tweak a Geek III

See how many knee-slapping one-liners you can get in response to this:

Suspicious Package Turns Out To Be ‘Star Wars’ Toys
POSTED: 11:53 am EDT July 13, 2005

BUFFALO, N.Y. — There was a false alarm at the Buffalo airport. Officials said a suspicious bag prompted authorities to clear the airport’s main terminal early Wednesday morning. The bag was later found to contain “Star Wars” toys and memorabilia. A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration told a Buffalo radio station that the bag was apparently left by someone who departed Tuesday on a flight bound for Miami.

After the bag was removed to a secure location, officials discovered it held nothing but “Star Wars” stuff.

The security sweep resulted in long lines at the check-in point.

Let’s just all agree that “These aren’t the toys you’re looking for” is a freebie. No credit for that one.

This Is Good

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

This Is Good

Go on, read it. It’s not good just because I agree with it, which I do. It’s not good because it’s well-written, which it is. It’s not good because it contains deep philosophical thoughts about the human condition, that are proven to be true, across the passage of vast amounts of time across several different cultures — which it does, and which is absolutely the case.

It’s all about hope. We need hope. Not false hope; verifiable hope.

It also has to do with some salient points about human nature, which don’t get as much attention as they should, especially now:

Freedom is not a luxury. It is a necessity for every living, breathing human being. However, it is impossible to be free without being an adult and this means understanding and living by those eternal rules that make it possible.

Eighty-Five Percent

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Eighty-Five Percent

Your Political Profile

Overall: 85% Conservative, 15% Liberal
Social Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Personal Responsibility: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal
Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal
Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Nipping At Our Heels

Tuesday, July 12th, 2005

Nipping At Our Heels

Continuing with the theme of providing instructions on how to behave, for any so-called “man” who is somehow inclined to pay attention to such things, all you bearers of penises and testicles are now being directed to start hugging each other.

The hug, long reserved for women, celebrating sports victories, and men from other countries, is muscling its way into everyday American Guydom.

Stoic machismo still thrives, but at its heels yaps a touchier, Dr. Phil version of virility. Boundaries are eroding. Defenses are being scaled.

Hey, this is a real event. Something revolutionary is going on here — um, actually not really. My earliest memory of the “wimpy” man coming into vogue, is a three-decades-old vision of the “Meathead” on All In The Family, a piece of pop-culture that was started around the time of Woodstock and Kent State. M*A*S*H soon followed, showcasing the wimpy hippy as he ridiculed, out-thought and out-foxed that silly, stupid military establishment that gave the producers the freedom to air the show. Then there came I’m Okay, You’re Okay. Throughout the seventies, it’s fair to say that if you were a character on the big screen or the little screen, and you were a macho male, you were being a big clueless dolt who was about to be shown-up, humiliated, educated, or eliminated by a wiser, wimpier, wuss-bag alto-pitch man-hugging she-male. This is the decade that killed John Wayne.

So this is nothing new. It turns out the “nipping at heels” metaphor has more truth to it than the author intended, I think. Boy that little yip-dog must be getting tired.

The sad truth of it is, though, we live in reality. Over here in reality, now that we’ve had 35 years to contrast macho-man against wimpy-guy, let’s see what history says, shall we.

  • A wimpy-guy gave us the energy crisis. A macho man ended it. (Interestingly, this is subject to dispute. That there were gas lines, rationing and price hikes during Carter’s administration, and not during Reagan’s, is beyond dispute. But the logical conclusion is not. Nobody’s been able to explain to me why that is.)
  • Hostages were taken during the wimpy-guy’s administration, and the wimpy-guy failed several times to get them back. The macho man got them back.
  • That same wimpy-guy got us fleeced, making a disarmament pact with North Korea which they appear to have violated before the wimpy-guy’s plane even left the airfield.
  • The macho man doubled tax revenues, simply by allowing other macho-men to keep more of what they earned, instead of demanding that they apologize for their machismo in the form of higher taxes.
  • Over here in California, a wimpy-man gave us another energy crisis. He claimed to have gotten really tough with Enron, but was never able to supply an iron-clad arguments showing this, nor to get any results from it.
  • That wimpy-man got California into a fiscal mess, which was fixed by a macho-man pulled straight out of the movies.
  • In the nineties, someone thought it would be a great idea to practice wimpy-man foreign policy. This gave us a lot of problems. Macho-men are just starting to solve the problems, while the wimpy-men…yup, the wimpy-men are nipping at heels again.
  • Macho-men protect our sons and daughters by enlisting and fighting. Macho-men police their own. Where macho-men create problems, they get taken down by other macho-men. Thus, Saddam Hussein is no more.
  • Wimpy-men like to keep an “open mind” about whether the macho-man should have been taken down, which is actually an illusion because wimpy-men who “wonder” about this invariably have their wimpy minds made up that it was a mistake, and anyone who disagrees with them about it is “stupid.”
  • Where wimpy-men pose a danger to us, other wimpy-men do not police their own. When one wimpy-man demands an end to capital punishment, they all must. When a wimpy-man says our troops are wasting their time and their lives over in Iraq, and you note how hurtful those words are for those troops deployed, and how ironic it is that he has the freedom to say it because of their service, he whines that you’re “questioning my patriotism” and all the other wimpy men join a wimpy chorus demanding that you stop it.
  • If a macho man eats meat and you want to be a vegan, the worst that the macho man does is snicker at you & roll his eyes. If a wimpy man wants to be a vegan and you want to eat meat, you get a lecture about how you’re destroying the earth, killing yourself, condemning yourself to missing your child’s graduation, inflicting cruelty on animals, and if you cook with charcoal, you’re releasing carcinogens into the atmosphere.
  • Macho-men invented the fire that wimpy-men use to light their candles at midnight vigils to protest the execution of a murderer, who was taken off the streets by a macho-man.
  • Macho-men invented the wheel that wimpy-men use to get their hybrid cars moving.
  • Macho-men invented the solar panel that the wimpy-man says we’re all supposed to be using instead of driling for more oil.
  • Macho-men developed all of the software and communications protocols used by wimpy-men to e-mail other wimpy-men to remind them that “Bush LIED!!!! about WMD!!!!”
  • Macho-men went into Iraq and dug MiG fighters out of the sand, in that sand-covered country the size of California, that wimpy-men tell us is absolutely pristine and has no weapons of mass destruction.
  • Macho-men run the printing presses that print books the wimpy-men write, like “My Life by Bill Clinton”.
  • Macho-men build the sets of the shows wimpy-men produce, and watch, like “Friends,” “Seinfeld” and “24″.
  • Macho-men drive the trucks that transport the goods demanded by wimpy-men, like…well, just name it. A wimpy-man did NOT drive that truck.

This is a real hard pattern to disrupt, in this enclave we call real life. I don’t mean to say that wimpy-men never do anything productive. “Never” is a strong word, one that seldom applies across any significant passage of time. It’s just that…when a wimpy-man does something useful, something that other people can use for practical things, and it’s a success, the wimpy-man gets there by…thinking like a macho-man. The board is cut right, or it’s not. The nail is straight, or it isn’t. Some things are absolute. Sometimes, the time for endless debate has passed.

So guys who like being wimpy-men may occasionally do something useful…it’s hard to think of any examples where anybody does something useful by thinking like a wimpy-man. And logically, it’s hard to conceive of any progression of events where they could. Wimpy thinking is the antithesis of doing useful things. So what’s with this push to get guys to hug other guys?

If one guy goes for the hug, but the other decides upon a handshake, they might collide. An excruciating dance will follow, as the poor lads work feverishly to determine what to do with their hands, their arms, their bodies. Memories of the previous disaster will haunt all following encounters. It’s possible the fellows will even dread socializing, for fear of the paralyzing hug decision.

Good! Then maybe someday soon, the wimpy-men will stop hugging us. The article says they are “nipping at our heels” or something. Like an annoying little dog. What do you do with a little dog who is nipping at your heels and then starts hugging your leg? You kick it away.

Two weeks ago, I made the point that inspecting your feelings endlessly, going to therapy over dubious personal issues, marital & otherwise, had a dismal track record of success. I don’t think that’s a commentary on the specific area of marriage counseling, as much as a point about everyday life. You just don’t get very far in life contemplating your navel.

The hug is a gift from God. It was given to us so that normal, red-blooded, macho guys like me, had an excuse to mash their chests into the tits of good-lookin’ women. Guys hugging guys, that’s wasting a creation of God.

Look At Me, I Can’t Park for Shit IV

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Look At Me, I Can’t Park for Shit IV

Parking lot in the Folsom/Rancho Cordova area. He pulled up right as I was having sandwiches for lunch with the guys from work, and I commented that gee, I get to add to my collection without even having to get up.

There was a motorcycle cop parked right across from this guy. One of the guys from work said he’d pay me a dollar if I asked the cop if it was legal to park that way. I asked. The dollar was not forthcoming. Some lame excuse about “I don’t have it on me”. The cop was on his way to answering a call, so fortunately I was NOT tossed in jail for being a smart-ass.

The dollar was eventually remitted. Mister Can’t-Park-For-Shit is probably out there somewhere, still parking like a moron.

What in the hell is the matter with people?

But Is He In The Registry?

Monday, July 11th, 2005

But Is He In The Registry?

About two weeks ago I made mention of a registry of marriage counselors, which deliberately divided the marriage-fixing profession as far as who was out to fix marriages, versus, who was “neutral” or, to put it more simply, who was out to sabotage marriages.

Well I’m not sure where, as a marriage counselor, your name is going to be listed if you’re telling your patients to strip buck-naked and yell at trees. That’s what the patient said when the cops busted him, anyway. To those who have never been married before, I’m sure it’s a no-brainer that having your husband hauled off to the pokey for indecent exposure, disturbing the peace, and whatever other offenses they have in Germany, would be deleterious to the marriage. Never-before-married people do seem to be experts on being married, I’ve noticed. But as a guy who’s been married before, I’m having second thoughts. If your woman is making you want to do some yelling, taking it out on the trees might have a pressure-releasing effect and it might prolong the marriage. Of course as a guy, I’m thinking if your wife makes you want to yell, prolonging the marriage is not necessarily a good thing. Unless the yelling is…well, I digress.

I wonder what the ladies would say. Single, and married. It would be interesting to find out.

A German man has been arrested after a marriage guidance counsellor advised him to run around naked shouting at trees.

Dieter Braun, 43, from Recklinghausen said the stress release technique had worked perfectly until he was arrested.

He told police that venting his anger on the trees had stopped him shouting at his wife.

“If I didn’t go to the woods and scream at the trees then my marriage would probably be over,” he said.

He added taking his clothes off at the same time made him feel more relaxed.

“For me it’s a type of relaxation therapy. Feeling the breeze on my naked skin really calms me down.”

But local police said other visitors to the forest did not find his behaviour relaxing and have now charged him with causing a public nuisance.

I hope they go light on his sentencing. I know I shouldn’t be thinking this way, but I’ve had a few marriages where that guy could have been me.

Women. Can’t live with’em, can’t live without’em, can’t cut’em down, split them up into logs, and burn them in the winter.

Oh, Then We’d Better Treat It As A Real Problem

Monday, July 11th, 2005

Oh, Then We’d Better Treat It As A Real Problem

Three black lesbians work for you. One of them quits, and you hire a straight white guy to take her place. Did you increase the “diversity” of your work force?

We can all probably agree that the mathematician will always say yes, and that the politician will always say no. But in our society, mathematicians don’t talk too much about the D-Word. When we hear about it, we hear about it from politicians and advocacy groups — always as a good thing, but always as something toward which straight white guys can’t contribute. Seldom, if ever, does a situation arise where the politicans are forced to admit this. But it’s true. Diversity is good, white guys aren’t part of it. So the word “Diversity,” when you look objectively at how it is used today, and take all factors into account, is used to legitimize discrimination. For those of you who believe having exclusionary thoughts toward a particular race might constitute a hate crime, the D-word is also used to legitimize hate crimes.

But our prevailing sensibilities, especially way up in the ivory towers, compel us to look upon diversity — political diversity, not the hard mathematical concept which would claim straight white guys as legitimate members — as a wonderful thing. It is so good, that if you happen to hold a position of any authority, and you are caught failing to unreservedly embrace it, you should be driven from your post. The Supreme Court’s Grutter v. Bollinger decision, as well as others, define “diversity” as a “compelling state interest” capable of making constitutional, things that otherwise would not be. You can read that opinion here. But keep in mind: The mathematician says straight six-foot-tall white guys can contribute to this objective, the politician says they can’t. The politician makes the rules.

What’s fascinated me about this ever since I can remember, is that people down in the trenches who do the actual work, side unfailingly with the mathematician. And they also agree on something else: Diversity, as a goal for hiring and other similar things, doesn’t have anything whatsoever to do with outcome; it has much more to do with freedom, and fidelity to hiring the best people possible regardless of racial background. You hire ten white guys, or ten hispanic amputee homosexual this-or-that — it doesn’t matter, as long as while you were hiring them, you were unwaveringly faithful to the objective of hiring the best people you could. Reasonable people of both left-wing and right-wing persuasions agree that this is what we really want when we use the D-word, so long as those people are low enough in our society that they have to do some real work. It seems once you’re high enough to actually decide things, you often avoid the consequences of those things being decided haphazardly, and start to lose sight of what’s “diverse” and what isn’t.

Sometimes when we suffer this confusion, we aren’t talking about hiring or acceptance practices, but disasters. Frederick Studemann, or one of this editors, appears to be suffering from this misperception of what “diversity” is and what it really means. His piece in the Financial Times of London alerts us to something meaningful about the bombings in London that took place on Thursday: The victimization is diverse.

…collectively the faces staring from newspaper pages, television screens or posters stuck to the walls near blast sites reflect one of the defining characteristics of the British capital: its remarkable cultural diversity.

Mister Studemann, your article falls short of informing us whether this is something to be bemoaned, celebrated, or simply noted for future reference, but I really don’t care which it is: This is sick. I’m just racking my brain here, trying to come up with some train of thought which would conclude you’ve commented on something newsworthy here in any way. It’s not that I’m failing to come up with anything because I do have a handful of ideas. But they all make me want to barf in my mouth a little.

Perhaps the most legitimate one — and this is like being the most honorable prostitute — is the argument that, by bombing London, the terrorists were striking out at the notion that people of dissimilar backgrounds should be allowed to work together. This is an augmentation to whatever collective set of reasons we should have, for striking back at them:

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, said the bombers wanted �to divide this city because of its easy-going, multi-cultural mix. The fact that people work together and live together is an affront to them�.

Let me see if I can recap. In addition to killing completely innocent civilians, who were doing nothing more provocative than simply going about their daily lives, to make a political statement, which is not terribly polite — the terrorists have commited a surplus crime against humanity through their failure to embrace diversity. Therefore, we’d should start treating this as a real problem.

I hope I missed something. Isn’t the value of a life with yellow skin, or black skin, or white skin, red skin, purple skin, all equal? Don’t we all have the same right to go about our business, reasonably free of any fear of being blown up? If that is so, then, what do we care about the diversity or lack thereof? I really would like to know.

It’s Time To Start Responsibly Writing Your Own Stuff

Friday, July 8th, 2005

It’s Time To Start Responsibly Writing Your Own Stuff

I was reading Boortz’s web site and I ran across two letters he had lifted from the Naples Daily News. He managed to make what could be an embarrassing link between two letters there, one from “Kevin Kittle” and one from “Cynthia Odierna,” each of whom had apparently been using the same form letter to promulgate the notion that we should get out of Iraq post haste. Both letters were printed on July 7, one right next to the other (link requires registration). The editors chose “Bring them home” as the headline for Kittle’s letter and “Bring them home II” for Odierna’s. That’s a little bit ill-advised, I think, because it strongly implies that the form-letter campaign went sliding under the radar of the Letters editor. Each letter begins exactly the same way, “It’s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq” — no really, EXACTLY, word for word, go ahead and look ‘em up — and from that opening passage things slide further downhill.

Neal Boortz ran a copy of the Kittle letter first, then ran the Odierna letter, highlighting the sections that were verbatim copies of the Kittle letter. I’ll include just the Odierna letter, with Neal’s highlights, to show what this problem looks like. Here is your link to Neal’s posting.

Daily News:

It’s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq. Stop the bloodbath. Save our troops and conserve precious lives of the people defending turf, autonomy, patrimony and their oil.

Iraq’s no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse.

More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 mutilated. We don’t even bother to keep count of Iraqi casualties in a war they didn’t provoke.

The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence exacerbates the problem. There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters.

We got into this war based on lies � the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way.

Bush policy is out of touch with reality.

We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq over to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq. Justifiably that angers more than just Iraqi people, sending a bad message to the rest of the world.

These colors don’t run … the world!

The Bush administration spends billions to kill children overseas, but is a cheapskate with education at home.

He asked for $80 billion to fund the war, and fancy that, $79 billion is being cut from social benefits here.

� Cynthia Odierna / Naples

This got me to thinking. There is often no anti-plagiarism policy in “letters to the editor”, or if indeed there is one, it can’t be a firing offense since authors of such letters don’t work for the paper. Our freedom of speech, unless someone wants to specifically address the issue of plagiarism, must necessarily include copying each other. There’s nothing inherently harmful in saying essentially “I agree with what that guy said, over there” as long as you really do feel that way and are okay with letting people know. The danger this practice represents, is what is between the lines. The dishonesty. The insincerity. The spirit of the Kittle/Odierna letter-cluster, is that it’s inherently obvious to anyone paying attention we should be doing what Kittle/Odierna Borg Collective is telling us to do.

And yet if it is inherently obvious, why do you have to point it out multiple times in a letter writing campaign? To those of us too stupid to catch on, one letter should educate us about our mental weaknesses; if that doesn’t do the trick, a second letter isn’t likely to penetrate our thick skulls.

Well the answer is, the entire premise is flawed. What’s supposed to be inherently obvious, is in fact, not.

So then, isn’t it problematic to hatch this letter-writing campaign that must include:

  • Carol Steward, Long Lake, July 5, Aberdeen News: “It’s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq. We got into this war based on lies – the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. The president offered nothing new in his speech. No plan. No exit strategy. Nothing. The Bush policy is out of touch with reality.”
  • Robbi Kane, Novato, July 8, Marin Independent Journal: “It’s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded.”
  • Bonnie Barron, Arcadia, June 29, Orange County Register (link requires registration): “President Bush’s address to the nation in front of a staged audience of soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C., showed how out of touch he is with reality, the American people and the rest of the world. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things get worse every week. The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. We got into this war based on lies – the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability for our leaders.” — Bonnie is upset that the audience was staged. That’s kind of rich.
  • Kathleen View, Chemung, July 8, Star-Gazette.com: “The president offered nothing new in his speech June 28. No plan. No exit strategy. Nothing. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence is exacerbating the problem. We got into this war based on lies, the wrong way. It’s time to get out, the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq because that angers the Iraqi people.”
  • Jim Gettins, Santa Cruz, June 30, Santa Cruz Sentinel: “We got into this war based on lies � the wrong way. It�s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality. I left in the middle of his speech tonight to place a “Visualize Impeachment” sticker on my bumper.”
  • Margaret Haracz, Mundelein, July 6, Chicago Sun-Times: “We got into this war based on lies — the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality and we as citizens must demand accountability from the administration and ourselves.”
  • Michael Nourse, Hollywood, June 30, Los Angeles Times: “We got into this war based on lies � the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality.”
  • Mark Seiler and Linda Voss, Chapel Hill, July 3, Chapel Hill News: “Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence is exacerbating the problem. There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. We got into this war based on lies — the wrong way. It is time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq because that angers the Iraqi people.”
  • Jeff Barrett, Newport Center, July 4, Burlington Free Press: “There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. We got into this war based on lies — the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality. We were lied to, there are no weapons of mass destruction, now our finest are dying in Iraq, and we demand to know when they can come home. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq to the international community.”
  • Brian Gregory, Bremerton, July 3, Kitsap Sun (link requires registration): “It’s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq. The president offered nothing new in his speech. No plan. No exit strategy. Nothing! Instead he kept mentioning September 11, which had nothing to do with Iraq. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency and our presence is exacerbating the problem. There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. We got into this war based on lies, the wrong way, so it’s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality. We need a real exit plan with a real time line providing real accountability from the president to our military leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq to the international community.”
  • Hank Wallace, Gretna, July 2, Times-Picayune: “More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded, not to mention the almost 100,000 Iraqi civilians, mostly women and children, that have also been killed and maimed…The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence is exacerbating the problem….Bush got us into this war based on lies — the wrong way. It’s time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that the Bush policy is out of touch with reality…We need a real exit plan with a real timeline providing real accountability from our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of Iraq over to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq because that angers the Iraqi people. We also need to have Bush come clean with us about his lies and fixed intelligence that got us there.”
  • Andrew Pearson, July 4, Bella Ciao: “Whats any different about Iraq? Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Things keep getting worse every week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and 12,000 or more wounded. We need to honor their sacrifices by ensuring that no more die in a war that is not necessary. The rebuilding of Iraq look more like an auction of Iraq�s resources and public assets to U.S. Corporations who are their to make a quick buck. If Bush was really committed to reconstruction, he would secure the funds for the Iraqi people to decide how to do it themselves. It�s time to start responsibly coming home from Iraq. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline and real accountability. We need to turn control of training Iraqi forces and rebuilding Iraq to the international community. And we must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq.”
  • Linda Butters, Carmel, July 2, Monterey Herald: “We got into this war based on lies. Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. Our presence is only exacerbating the problem. How many must die senselessly, how many must be wounded in service to their country and these unjustified war games? Bush said, ‘We are fighting against men with blind hatred — and armed with lethal weapons — who are capable of any atrocity.’ I think he is describing us! Please, can’t all this insanity stop? War is never the solution. We need a real exit plan with a real time line and accountability from our leaders. We need to stop the lies, stop the smoke and mirror stories and responsibly wage peace. Please.”
  • Linda Seely, San Luis Obispo, July 1, The Tribune SanLuisObispo.com: “The truth is that Iraq is no closer to stability than it was a year ago. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. More than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and uncounted numbers wounded. The U.S. occupation is fueling the insurgency rather than quelling it. We got into this war based on lies. It’s time to get out of it based on the truth of the situation. We need an exit plan with a real timeline; we need to turn the control of the training of Iraqi forces over to the Iraqis; and we need to turn the rebuilding of Iraq over to the international community. We must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq and hold to that promise.”
  • Carol Inman, Seattle, June 30, Seattle P-I: “There was nothing new in the president’s speech Tuesday. No plan to exit, no strategy. Nothing. Iraq is no closer to stability now than it was one year ago. Things are getting worse each week. More than 1,700 Americans have been killed and more than 12,000 wounded. These are our brothers, sister, parents, children and friends. The U.S. occupation is fueling a growing insurgency. Our presence is making the problem grow. There are tens of thousands of insurgents backed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. We got into this war based on lies. It is time to get out the right way. The first step is to realize that Bush’s policy is out of touch with reality. We need a real exit plan with a real timeline with real accountability for our leaders. We need to turn control of the training of Iraqi forces and the rebuilding of the country to the international community. We must renounce permanent military bases in Iraq because that angers the Iraqi people. Support our troops by bringing them home.”

Now, all this text links back to a posting on Hugh Hewitt’s blog on June 28, about a form letter sent out by MoveOn.Org to MoveOn supporters. The form letter included a template with the following words of introduction:

Politicians will be watching the letter-to-the-editor pages closely, and newspapers are likely to print letters on what will be the major story of the week. If we’re able to push back hard enough, we can build a drumbeat for a real exit plan.

We’ve set up an online tool that makes submitting a letter easy. Tonight, you can watch President Bush’s speech and then immediately go online and write a letter to the editor by clicking below. (We’ll update our suggestion for the best thing to write about 30 minutes after his speech ends.)

And the rest is history. You can go through the template, and you’ll find it all: Time to responsibly start getting out…started the war based on lines…1700 killed, 12,000 wounded…exit plan with real timeline, blah blah blah.

What, if anything, is the problem with this tactic? It depends on whether you like to make the really big, important decisions in life, based on how you feel, versus what you think. If feelings are important to you, then no meaningful deception has taken place here. It looks like a zillion people feel a certain way about our presence in Iraq, and when you do some digging, you’re likely to find out that zillion people really do feel that way.

But if you like to make decisions like this based on thinking, then a terrible deception has taken place. The authors of these letters are reciting certain facts, or “meta-facts”. Iraq is a mess, it’s no better than it was a year ago, this-many people have been killed, that-many people have been wounded, Bush got us into this based on lies. This bit about releasing jurisdiction to “the international community” is particularly troubling — the REAL facts, it turns out, don’t support that course of action at all. Is it really helpful to coerce our politicians to do this, with a fraudulent letter-writing campaign channeled through ordinary newspaper readers, lending their good names to the agenda of elites because they simply don’t know any better?

The rest of these “factoids” are things that can be logically proven or refuted. And some among them may very well be true…but the authors of these letters do not know! They are trying to strong-arm their audience into circumventing the necessary research, as they did, by blasting that audience in stereo.

Entirely valid approach with feelings. Not with thoughts.

Not My Kind of Marriage

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Not My Kind of Marriage

What kind of woman says yes to a proposal like this? Well she’d have to be some kind of bitch to say no, so perhaps a more revealing question would be, what kind of marriage will this be?

He set himself on fire. ON FIRE. Without a suit (if I’m reading the article right), with gasoline. Set himself on fire, jumped in a pool, waded out, got on one knee and said “baby you make me hot” or some such.

This guy is a moron. Nevermind what can happen to you when you set yourself on fire, but what will this be like? “I want you to go to the gas station and get me another pack of cigarettes.” “Not right now, I’m reading Morgan Freeberg’s blog.” “What is WITH you? You used to set yourself on FIRE for me literally, now you won’t even get up from that computer to run an errand for me.”

This poor schmuck will have to jump up and say How hi? Can I come back down again now? — on every single whim, every single gimme, every single I-want, no matter how trivial it is. All he can hope to do is meet the standard. Just meet it. Forget about surpassing it. You can’t really go upward a notch or two from setting yourself on fire.

And if something is physically painful? Forget it. How do you go about complaining how tired your ass is getting at the opera house, when your lady knows that you set yourself on fire? Being on fire…ass tired. Being on fire…ass tired. It doesn’t compare. “Honey, while you’re in there can you get me a beer?” Forget it. You don’t need a beer. Even if you ARE hot and thirsty, it’s not like being on fire and I know you can handle that just fine, sweetie.

Okay we have the Runaway Bride guy…we have the guy who ran around the world while his wife rode a scooter…now we have this fellow who sets himself on fire for his fiance’s amusement. Which husband do I least want to be. Hmmm…bachelorhood for me. Damn straight.

Men, what is wrong with you? There’s this thing called “managing expectations” — women understand all about it. A cute woman learns about this before she can walk, whereas a man doesn’t figure it out until well after he’s unhooked his first bra, maybe fifteen years older. You always leave room for yourself to exceed expectations. What is so hard about this? Did you know Superman was created by a couple of young punk-kids, teenagers, and even they understood there was a reason why Clark Kent changed his clothes before he rescued Lois from falling off a skyscraper. Clark had a good thing going. Clark was smart.

If I had a wife who desperately needed a kidney, I’d give her one of mine in a great big hurry — but I’d donate it anonymously. Do it the Clark Kent way. Marriages thrive on the partners doing things for each other, that exceed expectations. They can’t survive without that happening occasionally, therefore, they crumble when that bar of expectations gets raised too high. So you keep that bar at ankle-height, nice and manageable, so the marriage stays long and happy. Especially when you aren’t even married yet!

Update: He was wearing a suit. Medical personnel were standing by. And his future wife is very pretty. She has a fantastic pair of legs. In my book…well wait, actually, none of that changes anything. He is still a dumbass.

If We Don’t Make Them Angry, They’ll Stop?

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

If We Don’t Make Them Angry, They’ll Stop?

Does anyone really, seriously, believe this? Does anyone in their heart-of-hearts, bet-your-left-testicle believe this to be true?

There are going to be people jumping for joy over this. There are going to be other people who claim to know how to make this stop, and their plans will involve humanitarian relief, pulling out of Iraq, and various other things that involve letting the joy-jumpers walk around as free as you or me.

What is wrong with someone depraved enough to celebrate something like this?

And as long as those people walk around as free as you or me, how can we possibly expect things like this to stop?

President Bush, who I’m told is a moron, has made the point that terror does not cohabit very well with freedom. States that sponsor terrorism, tend to be unfree states. The moron has made me think. Sure there are exceptions to his observation, but they are few and far between. The moron’s over-simplified view of the world, appears to work. He’s pretty much convinced me.

Slugs like shade. Rattlesnakes like water. Black Widows like rotten wood. Terrorists, it would appear, do indeed thrive in backwards little worlds that oppress people. Terrorism is oppression, when you think about it. Back to Plan A. Let these backwards little countries live however they want, until it involves innocent people being blown to kingdom come, then spread freedom and democracy without any apology. And if the terrorists only understand the language of force, speak to them in their language.

Is there a liberal somewhere who would like to offer another plan? Let us all challenge those liberals to come up with plans. Calling me a “chickenhawk” is not a plan. Quoting lines from a Star Wars movie about Sith Lords dealing with absolutes is not a plan. Griping about not enough ricin being found in Iraq, or the sarin being really old, where are the WMD’s, etc. etc. is not a plan. Complaining about Halliburton, Tom DeLay, fake Thanksgiving turkeys, Segways, mis-pronouncing “nuclear”, is not a plan. President Bush has a plan, you people don’t.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

Imitation is the Sincerest Form

I’m a big fan of sarcasm under the right circumstances. There aren’t too many ways you can go wrong with it, although it should be noted that there are some. Sarcasm, to me, is a tool that is used to call attention to the idea that some prevailing wisdom, or some wisdom that is expanding in coverage & well on its way to achieving “prevailing” status, doesn’t make quite as much sense as it should. In our time, this is a big problem. I’m a firm believer that we can survive if we solve this problem, and we can’t if we don’t. So to me, if sarcasm is used properly, it is an indispensible tool.

There have to be rules. Sarcasm is like a spice: Too much of it becomes tiresome, which irritates the reader. Also, it is impossible for an idea to be tiresome and possess shock value at the same time, and if a point is going to be made through sarcasm, it is going to be made through the shock value. So I try to adhere to the following:

1. Sarcasm should be funny enough to inspire a giggle from those who can already see the idea is silly.
2. Sarcasm should be poignant enough that those who cannot already see the idea is silly, should realize they have explaining to do if they want to defend the idea.
3. Sarcasm should not set the mood. Sarcasm should never be used twice in the same body of work, unless that body of work is at least five thousand words. Under no circumstance should it ever be used three times or more.
4. Sarcasm should not be delivered in a “straw man” argument. What is being offered by the other side or as prevailing wisdom, should bear a solid, logical connection to what is being ridiculed.

I believe I complied with all four of my own rules when I wrote the following about our constitutionally protected right (proposed 1866, ratified 1868, discovered 2003) to commit sodomy.

The Lawrence decision protects our sacred Constitutional right to exercise that freedom that is most important to our dignified existence as free and sentient beings, the right to insert our penises into the anuses of other men! What could be more of a linchpin of freedom, more of a keystone to the Spirit of 1776, than that. And the three old gray dolts who most closely resemble a future Bush nominee, dissented from the decision, which proves they must be out to regulate how us common people fornicate. Oh, this is rich, I just knew Scalia looked right for that Puritan outfit, complete with the tall black hat, the blunderbuss and the shoe buckles. What an overzealous regulator he is, daring to dissent from this opinion. What a tight-ass cracker. What a Quaker. Let’s take a look at the dissent he wrote, which was joined by Rehnquist and Thomas.

I don’t know if Ann Coulter reads my blog. I would expect hardly anybody does. But how then do you explain this gem which appeared in her column yesterday.

At least she [Justice Sandra O'Connor] would not overrule a precedent for something as trivial as a human life. Overruling a precedent would require a really, really compelling value like our right to sodomize one another. [emphasis mine]

I’ve been robbed, but I’m not calling the police. I’m quite flattered.

Meanwhile, now that those of us who can see the idiocy of this prevailing wisdom have had our giggle, can some among those who cannot, kindly explain? We do not have an absolute right to life unless our minds are healthier than Terri Schiavo’s, and the doctor has already cut our umbilical cords, and we have been convicted of something, or it’s someone besides a misunderstood criminal with a sad childhood story who wants to kill us. Our right to property is limited only to the size of the check the city hall feels like cutting to us, when it decides to take our houses away. Those rights are not sacred. Butt-fucking, on the other hand, is absolutely sacrosanct. Don’t mess with that. Abortions and butt-fucking.

Is this self-explanatory? Because if it is, I must be a big dolt. There’s something I’m not seeing. Uh oh, maybe that makes my brain teeny-tiny, I’d better quiet down before someone comes to get me.

Why Liberal

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Why Liberal

I haven’t sympathized with the “liberal” viewpoint very often, but once in a great while it does happen. I don’t believe in “starving the beast,” depriving the Government of tax receipts until the day comes that it stops spending money. It’s irresponsible, and I’ve come up a little starved myself in terms of reasons for believing this would ever happen. And it’s always been my opinion that if science can somehow prove that “life” has not yet begun, and a woman doesn’t know how she can support a child and has no plans to provide for a child’s welfare, abortion should be an option. If we can prove life has not begun. As in, prove it. I understand the conservative position is that life begins at conception, so I think my position is liberal.

We shouldn’t even be considering an anti-flag-burning amendment. The federal government has no jurisdiction for legislating against controlled substances, or for enforcing those laws; such an issue is purely a state matter. Ditto for the Defense Of Marriage Amendment (DOMA). I agree with Thomas Jefferson’s revulsion toward primogenture, although I stop short of recognizing the “death tax” as a valid remedy for aristocracy. And a good metric for determining the overal moral and ethical health of our society, is the ability of children to aspire to & achieve greatness, although they come from humble beginnings. If this becomes rare or excessively difficult, we should take that as a sign that something is busted and needs fixing.

Because I do come down on “both sides” at one time or another, like most people I have the opportunity to entertain “Amen, brother” arguments from both conservatives and liberals — arguments designed to encourage me, and keep me on whatever side of an argument I happen to be on.

The few times I get to hear an “Amen, brother” argument from the liberals, I’m almost always horrified, and left uncomfortable with the position I had that attracted this sense of fraternity. Invariably they seek to reassure me that things are the way I think they are — although their vision of things the way they are, has nearly nothing to do with my reason for arriving at a similar opinion. On abortion and parental-notification, they would like to make sure I remember the girls who can’t tell their fathers they are pregnant, because their father is the father. Silly conservatives with their notification laws, they don’t even understand that this is happening, every day.

Sometimes I’m in a forum where I’m allowed to interact, in which case I make the point that perhaps the conservatives are distracted by the situation with irresponable girls using abortion as a contraceptive device. How often does this happen, I’d like to know, versus how often men impregnate their own daughters? The response to this is often angry, and always revealing. Some say even if the abortion-as-contraceptive situation outnumbers the incest situation a thousand-to-one, it doesn’t matter because this is about principle. I suppose I could understand that argument, but it seems hypocritical to advance from that position, to rejecting any presence of principle on the part of conservatives. Some liberals insist that it never happens, that all abortion procedures are emergency by their very nature. Others insist that I have no right to have an opinion at all, being a man — weren’t they congratulating me only moments before, for being a man having the right opinion?

But let’s get back to the subject at hand, because I am a man, and somewhat removed in the practical world from the emotional topic of abortion.

There is perhaps no other place where my occasional agreement with liberals invites more rancor and dissention than the issue of “economic justice”. I have no sympathy at all with affirmative action, in fact, what our society has evolved to envision as the “moderate” set of resolutions on this, nauseates me. I am far to the right of just about any position I have ever seen advanced on this issue, ever, even though my own position comes from just reading the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause and taking it seriously. I have had this position ever since I got hauled to the principle’s office for beating up a bully, and given a stern lecture for doing to the bully exactly what the bully had been making a habit out of doing to me. The school authorities, I asserted in not-quite-articulate sixth-grade language, ought to be concerned with what is being done, not with who is doing it. How wrong is it to beat someone up? Why is it routine when Big Bad Bill does it to nerdy little Morgan, but such an outrageous demand for something to be done when nerdy little Morgan dishes out the same treatment?

Circumstances demanded that I start pondering this question at age ten or twelve. By age twenty-five, I still didn’t give a rip about “conservatives” or “liberals”. At nearly thirty-nine, I’m still a little uncertain as to which side is doing a better job embracing this common-sense principle. Once again, when liberals send an “Atta Boy” my way, they show they can’t quite get the job done without trying to exert some control over the way I see the world. One would think it’s a simple job to say “good for you, for insisting that poor people are punished no more harshly than rich people for committing the same crime” and go on your way. But no, more often than not, they must continue, congratulating me for seeing the light about how little work our rich people do and how much money they steal from poor people.

Excuse me?

I had worked in close proximity with more independently-wealthy people, by the time I was thirty, than most people with my economic background do their entire lives. How many rich people have treated me unfairly? Rich people have taken the initiative to make sure I was treated well. Don’t ask me to come up with an exception to it, because I can’t think of one.

Poor people, on the other hand, have been absolutely devastating. There is something about being poor. People often start to believe in a discrepancy between how much money people have versus how much money they should have. I suppose this is something that is easy to do. And once you do that, of course, since that word “should” is in there you’ve got to do something about it. It’s a funny thing about theft; so many people who engage in it, in their heart of hearts, they don’t think they’re guilty.

And yet the rich people are different. There is always somebody who is richer, and in the world of the rich, when somebody is richer it is by an overwhelming factor. For example, the rich people I knew possessed maybe one ten-thousandth of the net worth of Bill Gates. Were they jealous of Bill Gates? Were they enthusiastic about some scheme to get money away from Bill Gates, into their own purses? Again, I worked closely with these people; if they harbored such passions, you’ll have to take my word for it that I would have known.

How many people did I meet who made something around minimum wage, who wanted to take tax money away from families that made $40,000 or $50,000? They were everywhere. Now that I’m too cynical to socialize with people like that, I still have to contend with them because they vote. They drive most of our political climate. They’re out there.

This all gets in the way when a liberal congratulates me for “seeing” that rich people steal and poor people don’t. I don’t see any such thing. What I see, when I insist that justice should be blind to economic condition, is the American dream. I read what the Founding Fathers wrote, when they were united and also when they argued among themselves. When they squabbled, they accused each other of going BACK to England. What was so bad about England?

It wasn’t the dental care or the sandwiches, nor were they upset about the execution of William Wallace. England, to them, was a place where dynastic heritage determined far too much in life. If the son of a Duke spit on the sidewalk, he was fined six pence, and if the son of an Earl did the same thing he would pay a shilling. And if the son of a pauper did it, he’d go to jail. That is what they wanted to fix. That is the real American Dream.

And now we have these people called “liberals” who want to change this dream, to go back to the days when where you were born, who you were born to, what color your skin is, chooses certain things in your life. What motivates them? Commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter seem to want to sidestep the question, concentrating mostly on how the liberals behave once they have decided to be liberal. But what makes a liberal liberal?

To try to legalize abortion unreservedly, declaring the whole issue moot as to when life begins, doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with trying to ban capital punishment. One position respects life when life is guilty, the other regards life as disposable when it is at its most innocent. Forcing union “workers” to entrust the dubious judgment of union leadership with a portion of their hard-earned paychecks, doesn’t seem philosophically parallel with challenging every little thing President Bush says about Iraq, especially when some of the things the President tells us are already proven beyond doubt. One of those positions places unlimited trust in authority, to a fault, the other position disrespects authority when there is little cause to do so. So in terms of values, what unites these people?

Bernard Goldberg, in Bias, ISBN 0-89526-190-1 has a few interesting theories. He says, essentially, the media ends up being liberal in an effort to be invited to more cocktail parties by other people in the media. Central to his thesis is the problem that even very influential people in the media, do not get out very much. They don’t personally know too many different types or classes of people. They pretty much live, work, eat, sleep and play in Manhattan.

I can buy this, but it doesn’t answer the question of what makes them liberal? If they exist in some closed ecosystem, why don’t they get stagnated into an ideological model of, let’s say, conservatism, or Naziism, or nihilism or objectivism? Why liberal? Goldberg’s book, to the frustration of myself and several others, is silent on this point.

I’m probably far enough into Tom Fenton’s Bad News, ISBN 0-06-079746-0 to comment on how this book answers the question. Fenton, it turns out, is part of the problem and he doesn’t appear to be conscious of it. He is what Goldberg is writing about. He sees the press in America as failing in its vital mission, and on that point I’m going to have to agree. Things get complicated in a hurry, though. The mission of the press, in Fenton’s eyes, bless his soul, is to let us know about what is going on in the nation & the world, especially with regard to subjects that may impact our lives later. According to that, then, the press let us down when the September 11 attacks happened. Bad News is peppered with examples of how our media might have warned us about what was going to happen, and passed up the opportunity.

Here is the problem, then. If it is the media’s job to make sure we know things, and you work in the media, you have only two options: Accept the mandate or reject it. If you accept it, you must meet it, and if you think you are meeting it you have to make sure. This is unavoidable, for it is simply the way the human mind works. For example, teachers are charged with making sure students know things, and instead of simply telling the students things & letting them go home, they administer tests.

So if you accept a mission you have to show diligence in meeting it. You cannot show diligence in meeting it, unless you devise some kind of criteria by which you can determine the goal has been met. Fenton, then, speaks for all flawed journalists on page 85, when he says…

…many thinking Americans don’t understand why we’re not being asked to endure any sacrifices at home, with the economy awash in debt. Regardless of what it thought of John Kerry, though, as of this writing the public still finds President Bush credible as a war leader in the polls. Between September and mid-October 2004, a Rasmussen Report poll found that between 42 and 44 percent of people continued to support his leadership in Iraq. This, in the face of continuous bad news from Iraq and criticism in the press. How is that possible? [emphasis mine]

This is the problem. If it’s your job to inform someone and you take this job seriously, you have to see if they have learned what you have told them. Science defines learning as “a non-instinctive behavioral change.” We support our President’s leadership in Iraq, this shows we haven’t learned something, therefore, our media has failed and it must try harder. The notion that we have absorbed the information given to us, and simply found something else we think weighs more in the decision we have to make, is something that can’t be considered.

So our media is liberal because it doesn’t trust us to make the decisions that belong to us.

Why is the Supreme Court liberal? I’ll get to that another time, this has gotten plenty long enough.

Tweak a Geek II

Monday, July 4th, 2005

Tweak a Geek II

My son and I are waiting for it to get dark so we can set off fireworks. After a full day of playing with bumper-boats and racing go-carts out in the hot California sun, we’ve moved our sunburned carcasses into the air-conditioned coccoon to watch “Attack of the Clones” yet again.

A thought has occurred to me.

Challenge a geek you know, to knock back a shot of Cuervo with you any time the Jedi do something stupid.

Episode I or III will give you a terrible headache the next morning, and make the room spin ’round and ’round by the time the closing credits roll. At the end of Episode II, Attack of the Clones, meditate before the Porcelain Side of the Force, you will, hmmm?

I’m serious, in this middle episode they don’t do anything right. Go on, grab a copy of the script and count the mistakes. How did these guys get the job they’ve got, anyway?