Archive for September, 2005

The Market Could Easily Double

Thursday, September 15th, 2005

The Market Could Easily Double

File this one under marketing news disguised as science — but don’t lose track of it, because it represents a real danger to our society. I think if, in a generation or two we find ourselves communicating with a primitive series of clicks & hand gestures, and beating each other over the head with clubs, our decline will be traced back to this.

Between 2000 and 2004, use of drugs that help keep ADHD patients focused doubled among adults aged 20 to 44, but rose only 56 percent among children…use rose 113 percent among women 20 to 44 and 104 percent among women 45 to 64, both far more than among men. Meanwhile, spending on the medicines quadrupled.

I’ve got to get into this racket somehow. Personal weaknesses, individual quirks, idiosyncrasies, are labeled as “symptoms,” and when noticed in normal children they represent a “disorder” for which drugs are prescribed as “medication.”

Things to notice about this particular article:

  • There is an unwritten tradition that in order to offer “balance,” at least one of the “experts” interviewed in such an article should have a bee-in-his-bonnet about what’s happening, to offset the proponents who are making publicity and/or money off of it. That has not been observed here.
  • One of the focal points of the article is that, because adult ADHD is on the rise, the theory that children are eventually “weaned” from ADHD medication is being attacked or perhaps entirely discredited.
  • Dr. Patricia Quinn, one of the experts cited in the article, claims twin credentials — one as a pediatrician, and one as an advisor to an advocacy group. ADHD is still controversial enough to need advocacy groups, but an expert who is a member of such an advoacy group, somehow doesn’t send up a red flag for conflict-of-interest.
  • As an article written about a disorder we’re just beginning to understand, this one is pretty bizarre. It is packed with tidbits about marketing and commerce. It reads more like something out of a trade rag.
  • The National Institute of Mental Health, on its website, makes perhaps a noble attempt to bring some sanity to the discussion:

    Is It Really ADHD?

    Not everyone who is overly hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive has ADHD. Since most people sometimes blurt out things they didn’t mean to say, or jump from one task to another, or become disorganized and forgetful, how can specialists tell if the problem is ADHD?

    Because everyone shows some of these behaviors at times, the diagnosis requires that such behavior be demonstrated to a degree that is inappropriate for the person’s age. The diagnostic guidelines also contain specific requirements for determining when the symptoms indicate ADHD. The behaviors must appear early in life, before age 7, and continue for at least 6 months. Above all, the behaviors must create a real handicap in at least two areas of a person’s life such as in the schoolroom, on the playground, at home, in the community, or in social settings. So someone who shows some symptoms but whose schoolwork or friendships are not impaired by these behaviors would not be diagnosed with ADHD. Nor would a child who seems overly active on the playground but functions well elsewhere receive an ADHD diagnosis.

    I’m not a pharmacist, doctor, scientist, shrink, schoolteacher, or even a school janitor, nor do I have even nominal training in any of these fields. Therefore, take it as a given: I’m going to get a lot of e-mail and other comments admonishing me, with varying levels of decorum, to refrain from “talking about stuff you don’t understand.” Well, I understand inattention, I understand being a weird kid who nobody can figure out, and I understand having a weird kid nobody can figure out. I understand coping with personal weaknesses through marshalling internal resources and becoming a better adult, versus coping with them through drugs.

    And I understand women. I was just noticing this difference between the sexes, commenting on it to some people, not really writing anything about it yet, and then this article pointed it out for me. Go back and read the first paragraph I took from the MSNBC story. In a period where children have increased their ADHD medication addictions by fifty percent, adult women have doubled theirs, while men have not.

    Want to know how this works? Men and women are different. Have you ever known a woman to get ahold of a book that describes a personal issue — ever — and, upon finishing with it, announce “that was an interesting book but it doesn’t appear to have anything to do with me”? It won’t happen; they aren’t capable of it. Even smart women who have demonstrated themselves to be gifted, critical thinkers, can’t seem to do this. They get hold of the book, they read it, and wham-bam: Whatever was described in the book, they got it or their kids have it, guaranteed.

    Men, by & large, err in the opposite direction. What? Something that interrupts my status quo? Screw you, pal. Missing leg syndrome? What makes you think I only have one leg? There’s another leg around here somewhere, I just can’t find it. I’m hopping around the room because hopping is something I like to do. Just leave me alone.

    So no matter what your priorities are, we have a problem here. You may be worried about our society over-medicating itself into oblivion, as each new personal quirk is categorized as a “disorder” and normal, albiet quirky, people are turned into drug addicts. If you are one of these people, know that as a longtime advocate of women’s independence and women’s rights, I will oppose with my last breath your attempt to stop women from reading books. That is, after all, the only thing we could do that would address this issue; a woman reading a book about a personal problem, is a woman who will, upon finishing the book, in her own mind have that problem. Let them keep reading, and the ADHD caseload will skyrocket.

    Or, you could be one of the people who are worried that ADHD profiteers aren’t making enough money. In that case, you worry too much. You can see from the MSNBC article that all the “experts” interviewed, have at least one financial interest — often many more than one — in more ADHD cases being diagnosed and treated with prescription drugs.

    �The market could easily double,� as more of the drug makers receive regulatory approval specifically to market ADHD drugs to adults, said Albert Rauch, pharmaceuticals analyst at A. G. Edwards & Sons.

    There is no critical thinking applied to this anywhere. Marketing the drugs? Investment analysts predicting a market will double? Where is the traditionally-obligatory dissenting expert, having kittens over the hot new trend described in the story? When it comes to ADHD, the dedicated MSNBC reporter can leave him out of the story, sticking the microphone only into the faces of interested authors, advocates, investment analysts and other stakeholders.

    If anybody read this blog, which of course nobody does, they would recall a pattern of questioning science — or to put it more accurately, calling out that “science” has metastasized into a school of thought far less accustomed to criticism, dissenting viewpoints, and general intellectual challenge than any religion ever has been. The current debate on “Intelligent Design” is one example of this. Now, keeping your own opinion on evolution versus design on the back burner for the time being, answer me this. Is it healthy for a society’s cloistered hallways of “science” to get into the opinion business, expurgating the less orthodox viewpoints with greater and greater vigor and hostility, while — simultaneously — that society starts to consume greater and greater doses of drugs, in a trend that can only be described as “skyrocketing,” specifically designed to eliminate personal traits considered by some to be abnormal?

    Both of these trends are assaults on our cultural ability to question things. To check our societal course. To weigh, among a large, democratic audience, the pros and cons of whatever direction it is in which we’re moving at a given time.

    I think we’re losing it.

    I wish I could stop it. But failing that, I wish I could make money off it. The mind fairly boggles at how much money we’re talking about. Something to think about, next time you hear someone piss and moan about “corporations,” “greed” and “Halliburton.”

    Juggy Suzanne

    Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

    Juggy Suzanne

    This is a memo-for-file thing.

    The “Juggy Dancers” include in their ranks a prettiest-one, a cutest-one and a most-appealing-one. The most-appealing-one is the second-cutest, and I’ve always been at a loss to understand this. I don’t like chicks with big noses. I like a cute nose on a woman. The most-appealing-one, however, has this enormous honker, and yet, any time there’s a Man Show rerun my eyes are just drawn to her. In a good way. And I can’t explain why. She looks the best out of all the JD’s in a schoolgirl outfit, in a bikini, or in any other costume.

    Well after getting my filthy hands on Season 2 from Amazon, and applying some diligent research to the project I’ve figured out it is Juggy Suzanne. >Suzanne Talhouk is her name, and perhaps she has this visual appeal because she has the most acting experience out of any of the other Juggies.

    And yet she has not yet been in anything you can actually see. I’m sure that will change soon.

    I wonder if she’s older than I am? That would make me feel good. But I kind of doubt it.


    Tuesday, September 13th, 2005


    Casey Sheehan was KIA in Iraq; he has this mother, whose name I do not mention anymore because she got way too much press without any help from me. His mother either does, or does not, want to have a meeting with President Bush. As last month burned away the final days of summer, you may recall we were absoutely consumed with day-to-day coverage of this woman wanting, or not wanting, to meet the President. To this day we’re mostly unclear, in spite of the relentless coverage, whether she wanted to meet the President or not.

    It is pretty well established that nothing done by this woman, or any of her supporters, will ever have an impact on our presence in Iraq or on any schedule for ending that presence. Therefore, so far as anybody knows this woman is unrelated to anything that could have an impact on me, anybody I know, or anybody or anything cared about by anybody who reads news. Certainly, she has no relationship at all to a terrorist someday bringing down a passenger jet using a shoulder-fired rocket launcher. Why, then, did the saga of Hemant Lakhani pass under our collective radar, mostly un-commented-upon throughout the summer?

    He was just sentenced to nearly half-a-century in prison for his attempt to smuggle in a rocket launcher, a crime for which he was convicted this past spring. I found the story buried on Page A6 of my local paper, but this isn’t my local paper’s fault. Anyplace I find this, it gets about two inches of print, maybe a whole lot less.

    He was stung, which is to say, his arrest wasn’t directly related to any actual terrorists trying to buy equipment from him. Nor does he appear to have any direct connections to Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group.

    But how did he get into the get-missile-launchers-for-terrorists racket?

    Are there leads involved in this arrest?

    What is being done to pursue those leads?

    Does Al Qaeda, or any other terrorist group, have a plot going to bring down a passenger jet with a shoulder-fired missile? Outside of classified information, what can be learned about this? What’s being done about it? Do we have nothing to worry about here? Or is it so fantastically easy to get ahold of a surface-to-air missile launcher, that it’s not worth worrying about and we’re playing Russian Roulette every time we fly a plane?

    If anybody has answers to this, they’re better newshounds than I am.

    I know one thing for sure…speaking for myself, I’m much more interested in this than I am in some aging-hippy war-protester using her bereaved-mother status to try and get a (second) meeting with the President. Or not trying to.

    Turn Your Brain On When You Read This

    Tuesday, September 13th, 2005

    Turn Your Brain On When You Read This

    This is one of those things where two people can look at exactly the same thing, one with a brain running on all eight cylinders and the other thinking kind of half-assed, and by consuming the same information they’ll come away with one-hundred-eighty-degree opposite interpretations of what it is they just saw.

    United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) is hiring temp workers in Las Vegas to picket Wal-Mart’s labor practices.

    My favorite part of the story was this gem:

    The group has no transportation to go elsewhere�they are dropped off by a union van and picked up later. On weekends, they have to find their own transportation, Greer said.

    There are tons and tons of people who are fully capable of reading this story, and come away with the feeling this is nothing more than another chapter of noble, ragtag rebels doing battle with the evil empire. Hypocrisy? What hypocrisy? I didn’t see any. Just good-hearted union people standing out in the unbearable heat to raise the standard of living for poor, victimized Wal-Mart “workers.”

    Well read the article again. This is an intelligence test. Who is actually standing out in the unbearable heat?

    How much do they make an hour?

    How much does the average Wal-Mart associate in Nevada make an hour?

    This whole business of striking needs a thorough re-visiting. I’m among the people who believe that you do indeed have a right to strike; you have the right to do it, without being paid for it, and then if you choose to strike your boss has the right to interpret it as absenteeism, fire you for it, hire somebody else, and then give you a crappy reference if contacted by future prospective employers.

    If enough people are striking, that boss would be cutting his own throat. Therein lies the legitimacy of striking – it’s like the fish voluntarily jumping into the fisherman’s rowboat, hoping that thousands of other fish will jump in with him and thus sink the boat. Maybe it’ll work, and maybe it won’t. But if this is the moral underpinning of striking, is it legit to outsource the striking to temp workers? Allowing for the extravagant idea that it somehow is, then shouldn’t the union be providing those temp workers with the same working conditions upon which it is insisting from the employer?

    How in the world could anyone argue otherwise?

    And yet…some people will.

    For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types III

    Sunday, September 11th, 2005

    For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types III

    People are opposed to the death penalty because they feel it is applied disproportionately across racial lines. Other people are opposed to it because once you impose it, there’s no way to undo it if you find the convicted person was actually innocent. Still others oppose it for financial reasons. I don’t have anything to say to those people within this post, but there are people who are opposed to the death penalty because all living people are God’s children and there is an innate goodness, however deeply it may be buried, within all of us. Those are the people to whom I’d like to direct this story.

    A 15-year-old boy and a 50-year-old man have conspired together to kill the boy’s mother and carve her up into little pieces.

    Buffalo Police say they have solved the case of the human body parts found inside a suitcase in the Black Rock Canal just over 2 weeks ago. Officials say that a 15-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of his mother and a 50-year-old man may have put him up to it.

    Police identified that the body parts belonged to 46-year-old Madeline Irene of 500 Fargo Avenue in Buffalo. Detectives are still trying to piece together all the details but say what they have discovered so far is very disturbing.

    Police believe 50-year-old Edwin Gimenez moved to 26 Sherwood from California about a year ago and established a relationship with Madeline Irene�s 15- and 12-year-old sons. Throughout that time, Giminez psychologically influenced Angel, the 15-year-old, to kill his mother. Once Irene was dead, Giminez kidnapped and sodomized the 12-year-old boy, who he claims is his son. Police have no evidence of that claim.

    Gimenez is a convicted sex offender, but because his conviction took place before the creation of the New York sex offender registry, he is unlisted. Police believe a concrete-filled drum at his home contains more body parts, apparently the difference between the torso already discovered and the entirety of what once was Ms. Irene.

    Just think. If Gimenez received a “Sin City” punishment for his crime twenty years ago, that’s three lives that today might have continued and had a chance of being normal. Today, based on what they say they know, police want to make sure he will “never see the light of day again.” Assuming that the facts convincingly support the theories offered here, why exactly would this guy get three-hots-and-a-cot? The time-honored “There but for the grace of God goes you” argument falls on deaf ears, to those of us who haven’t been raping 12-year-old boys and chopping up women into pieces.

    Anti-Gun is Pro-Anarchy

    Sunday, September 11th, 2005

    Anti-Gun is Pro-Anarchy

    The thought of a scalpel slicing into my skull doesn’t make me feel very good, but if you are a brain surgeon and it’s your job to give me brain surgery, I want you to have a scalpel. I don’t like to think about hot tar, but if it’s your job to fix my roof I want you to have hot tar.

    Why then do we assume it makes sense, to deny firearms to people who need the firearms to do their jobs, just because some among us don’t feel good about guns?

    Unlike their American counterparts, Canadian border guards do not carry guns but they have been pressing the agency for the right to arm themselves.

    This is a partial explanation for why Canadian border guards along the U.S.-Quebec border walked off their jobs when reports came in that a deranged lunatic might have been heading their way.

    New York State Police, who described the shooting suspect as armed and dangerous, captured Vladimir Kulakov, 48, early Saturday afternoon.

    Border guards returned to work soon after.

    Kulakov was allegedly driving a stolen pickup truck when he was stopped by New York state Trooper Sean Finn, 34. Police allege Kulakov ran into a wooden area fired at Finn, hitting the officer’s hands and the side of his head.

    Finn is in stable condition in a New York hospital.

    Kulakov, who has been living in the U.S. for more than 10 years, is said to have been is a highly trained weapons expert with the Russian army.

    What is really disturbing, is that the Canadian article gives some polite lip-service to the “should they be armed” question at the very end. Earlier in the article, and in a number of places throughout, it seems to ponder the far weightier issue of the customs agents actually walking off the job. The message seems to be that union rules have blazed the trail to enlightenment, and it’s the border guard’s right to walk if they think the job is dangerous.

    Well I agree with the unions, insofar as it’s kind of useless to turn a border post into a suicide mission. But what is actually going on with the argument about arming the guards? Who is against this, exactly? Where are those people, and what do they have to say about a trained Russian army weapons expert lunatic shooting yankee troopers, and then rushing to Canada? Do those people live in places where this prospect is somehow guaranteed to not be a personal danger to them, or are they just short-sighted?

    Either way, it would appear they’ve got more “pull” on this issue than logic would permit. Guarding a border means being ready, and responding to force with force in kind. The article indicates this is a semi-regular occurrence. Clue? Just by itself, this incident is proof-positive: Anti-gun is pro-anarchy. It really doesn’t get any more complicated than that.

    16. A man’s determination to punish the guilty tends to wax and wane with his prospects for living amongst them.

    Skirts for Guys

    Sunday, September 11th, 2005

    Skirts for Guys

    A skirt has been invented for beer-drinking men. What an innovation. Yawn.

    The skirt-for-guys movement is nothing new. The image linked below is from a 1998 article, and of course people have been trying to pressure guys into wearing skirts since long before that. I’m afraid I don’t understand this. There’s no mad rush to bring back Roman numerals or sundials, so why does everyone want to get guys into togas and then claim credit for it?

    I just love this quote “…once one everyone realises how comfortable they are, I think they’ll really catch on.” Haven’t the Scottish Highlanders been wearing kilts since the dark ages? They haven’t “caught on” and here’s the reason why: Comfortable as they may be, as sleek and stylish as they may look when you’re walking around, you can’t do guy stuff in a skirt. About the only guy-thing a skirt makes easier is peeing, and even that is something you can’t do & look manly at the same time.

    This blog has a tradition of pointing out “hey, there’s an elephant in the room” when few other commentators will do so — especially in the realm of gender relations. Here’s the elephant in the room: Men and women are different, and this difference makes some people uncomfortable. Wherever people try to coerce men to act like women, that’s what’s going on and with very few exceptions, that is all that is going on. Meanwhile…since life must go on, there are ladders to be climbed & leaves to be cleaned from gutters — motorycles to be driven, coffee tables waiting for just one foot to be put on them, sailboats to be jumped on from docks, etc., real men are going to be leaving the skirt-wearing to the women.

    There are lots of things women do better naturally, than any man, even when the man has been practicing at it. Wearing skirts is one of them.

    Someone Did It

    Sunday, September 11th, 2005

    Someone Did It

    Robert Giroux / Getty Images – via

    Today, put a liberal you know & love on the path to recovery. Don’t start any arguments. Keep any subjective matters of opinion corked up tight. Don’t raise your voice. Don’t defend anything about FEMA or Katrina.

    Simply assert, and re-assert as many times as it takes, with absolutely no value-judgments whatsoever, that what we memorialize today was somebody’s work. Words like “disaster,” “tragedy,” “what happened,” and “people died” fail to capture this, and were concocted in a focus group laboratory because they gloss over this. It was an act of mass murder, affecting some people, executed by other people, and that’s a fact.

    If the liberal wants to say George Bush and Dick Cheney were among the people planning it, or that persons of Jewish faith were given a heads-up so that none of them died in those flaming buildings that day, or that this was on Halliburton’s drawing board for months, my suggestion is to ignore the red herring entirely. “What happened on September 11, 2001” was an Act. That is today’s conversion project. See if the liberal can admit it wasn’t a natural disaster. Just that much. The liberal might learn something. And if he doesn’t, you definitely will.

    Soft-Bellied Arguments

    Thursday, September 8th, 2005

    Soft-Bellied Arguments

    Somewhere between cogitating on the claim that FEMA caused thousands of deaths in New Orleans through an ingrained hostility toward black people, and chewing over the still-unfounded prospect that America is becoming a �theocracy� (link requires registration; fourth letter down), I hit upon a realization. Leftist arguments, by and large, aren�t simply weak; they are incubated in such a way that they can be nothing else. Like anything in life that has to do with homo sapiens, other animals, or for that matter anything organic, ideas enter the realm of maturity with a strength proportional to the environmental hostility in which they grew. And leftists tend to incubate their ideas in extraordinarily friendly environments. This leads to some soft-bellied, domesticated talking points that are not only weak, but malignant. Which is to say, over the long haul, they do the ideology that hosts them, substantially more harm than good.

    Perhaps the best example of this in recent memory is the �training ground� argument.

    It goes like this: Ever since our national unity dissolved in the wake of the September 11 attacks, we have been told there is �no connection whatsoever between Iraq and Al Qaeda.� The two regimes did not collaborate and they would not collaborate, since the leader of one was fundamentalist and the leader of the other was secular. Talking points were put out that Saddam and bin Laden �hated each other,� although notably, nobody with a reputation to protect stuck their neck out & actually said as much. After our international coalition invaded Iraq and evidence was produced that substantial connections existed and therefore the referenced hatred was lacking, the talking point slowly morphed around to �no connection between Iraq and the September 11 attacks,� or �no connection between Iraq and 9/11.�

    By the time the election season heated up, it could no longer be concealed that among the �insurgents� in Iraq who even today are responsible for the rising body count among our troops, many were Al Qaeda. This creates an obvious problem: What interest did Al Qaeda have in Iraq? We had been told there was no connection — could be no connection — between the two regimes. And yet if you have a leadership role in Al Qaeda, somehow it�s worth the time, trouble, risk of exposure, casualties, and financial expense to get your guys into this country — in which you have no stake.

    Now this is not to say process-of-elimination proves an Al-Qaeda/Iraq connection; other possibilities, after all, do exist. The above-referenced �training ground� talking point, awkward as it may be, implores us to believe that Al Qaeda is sending its grunts into Iraq for shooting practice exercises; said grunts, perhaps, to position themselves on both sides of the rifle. That does help to address the issue of �stakes�; the suggestion is that Al Qaeda is not squandering trained resources, but rather, squandering a bloated class of freshmen just begging to be thinned out. Perhaps for the Al Qaeda recruit, the ticket to seniority is an initiation ritual in Iraq? A survival-of-the-fittest exercise built to toughen-up the ranks by means of sheer attrition?

    Fair enough. But for what, one might ask, are they training?

    Flying planes into buildings, poisoning water supplies, setting off dirty bombs � tactically, these threatening activities don�t seem to be strongly related to a firefight with a platoon of soldiers in Fallujah. These things appear to have even less to do with laying an IED by the side of a road so that a truckload of marines can be sent home in body bags. Could you possess a rare talent for sidestepping airport security, but suck big green ones when you look for cover in a firefight? Absolutely. Could you be a natural-born reservoir-poisoning savant, and at the same time, unfortunately, be the first man detected and shot during the IED-planting exercise? That actually seems pretty likely. So for lack of overlap between the “training” and the “production,” we see the entire �training� angle doesn�t pan out. Therefore, to maintain the premise that terrorists nurture unrivaled apathy toward the fate of the old Iraq regime, and somehow see fit to trek their way inbound to attack those who toppled it, the only place left to go is the political angle. Al Qaeda�s plans depend on the United States entirely losing its national will to continue the War on Terror.

    That makes a lot of sense to me. Terrorism has long been held to be a political endeavor, not an exercise in exterminating people as a primary purpose. It is entirely in keeping with that viewpoint of terrorism, to surmise that our enemies intend to bombard Dover AFB with coffins, one by one, until our leaders are pressured to withdraw and fight the terrorists no more. This is entirely plausible.

    But it flies in the face of a number of other leftist talking points, and is a tacit endorsement of the more controversial conservative ones. If the political angle is the only possible motive, then logically, it is true that anti-war protesters are causing injury to our troops, and the more they talk — their dismissive comments notwithstanding — the more injury they do. It�s intellectually impossible to support one premise while simultaneously rejecting the other.

    Such is the weakness nurtured when arguments are incubated in overly-friendly environments. Once the soft-bellied, overly-domesticated arguments reach maturity, the few that pass the most mildly hostile scrutiny, turn out to conflict with each other. And they conflict irreconcilably.

    Canary in a Coal Mine

    Wednesday, September 7th, 2005

    Canary in a Coal Mine

    This is yet another post singing the praises of Hooter’s, which is not for everybody. You’ve been warned.

    Like Chris Rock says, nobody goes to Hooter’s for the wings. Hooter’s wings are somewhere between Kentucky Fried Chicken items, and something you’d find in the frozen section of Albertson’s. But the international franchise consistently gets high praise from this blog for two reasons:

    • Brittle, unhappy women, who would control how normal healthy men live (along with the normal healthy women who actually like those normal, healthy men), are pointed out to the rest of us by the shrill, screeching sound of their own voices. Were the subject of nice-looking young girls in short-shorts not ever to come up, their presence would go undetected — which would be a bad thing, since these angry, controlling harpies are everywhere, and they are exceptionally dangerous.
    • Wherever there is a Hooter’s, these angry, freakish women aren’t going to be there. They’ve got no business being there. If they’re there, they aren’t going to be there very long. Hooter’s is a haven for healthy people who don’t want to be around these angry, screeching trolls. And it should be noted, that it’s getting increasingly hard to get away from the trolls. They’re more like tribbles than trolls. Cold-blooded, prickly, venomous, rapidly-reproducing tribbles.

    So Hooter’s is both an oasis, and an alarm clock. It is like a canary in a coal mine.

    An in the early-warning-system function, it has just fulfilled this useful purpose by means of the latest plans to open up shop in New Zealand.

    Kiwi women don’t like Hooters
    08 September 2005

    American restaurant Hooters, whose “Hooters Girls” wear tight shorts and tank tops, plans to open branches across all major New Zealand centres.

    The first is expected to open in Auckland early next year.

    Green Party women’s affairs spokeswoman Sue Kedgley described Hooters opening in New Zealand as “retrograde”.

    “It just sounds like the blatant sexism of the 1960s that provoked the feminist movement. It’s hard to believe this could be a serious move in the 21st century.”

    Rape Crisis spokeswoman Andrea Black said putting women in skimpy clothes and getting them to wait on tables perpetuated the myth that women were purely there for men’s sexual pleasure.

    “There’s a risk in that for society as a whole and for women.”

    This is amazing. Simply amazing.

    Sue Kedgley and Andrea Black are unhappy. Obviously, it’s not enough for them to be reassured that if they don’t like to go to Hooter’s, they don’t have to go. No, they want to stop everybody else from going.

    Though it describes itself as a “neighbourhood place”, 68 per cent of customers are male, most aged between 25 and 54.

    Oh my goodness, how incriminating! Two-thirds of the clientele have penises, compared to just 49% of the population at large. Statistics lopsided to the tune of nineteen points, how un-neighborhood-ly.

    This is good news for me to get ahold of. I’m at a time in my life where if I wanted to go to New Zealand, I could go. I’ve got time, I’ve got money. Two military men I’ve met, something like fifteen years apart, one from the US and one from the UK, have sworn up and down that NZ is a friendly, hospitable place to go. Well, now I know I should stay away. They have at least two angry, outspoken, venomous snakes who think something is terribly wrong with a commercial franchise gives men a fun place to go — plus, as if that weren’t enough, a major newspaper along for the ride.

    It is an extraordinarily sad commentary that, given a choice between taking Sue Kedgley out for a night of drinking, dancing and fun, and The Wicked Witch of the West, I’d want to go with the Witch — who at least knew how to smile.

    Healthy straight men, single or otherwise, beware. Wherever there is no Hooter’s, this is probably a place you don’t want to visit, and almost certainly don’t want to live.

    Hamish Kynaston, an employment law specialist with law firm Buddle Findlay, said though the law did not prohibit people being hired on the basis of their looks, companies doing so would have to be careful not to fall foul of the Human Rights Act.

    That meant people could not be discriminated against on the basis of things like age, sex, race or disability.

    What is up with this strange place called New Zealand? We have weird laws like that over here in The States, but as far as I understand, generally you’re on safe ground if the job description has something to do with the so-called “discrimination”. Opening a Hooter’s restaurant, or for that matter any retail location with nice-looking girls, and hiring only the nice-looking girls — it’s a no-brainer. This article seems to imply the excuse of job-description has been pitched out the window.

    So in addition to a 400-pound tub-of-lard who didn’t land the job as a Hooter’s girl, who else has standing to sue?

    The guy with delirium tremens who didn’t get hired as a brain surgeon?

    The guy who can’t get a driver’s license because he’s legally blind, who was passed over as an airline pilot?

    The disc jockey born without a tongue, who wants to do the morning traffic and weather?

    I’d really like to hear from someone who’s spent time in this bizarre country. The nature of the article appears to imply that Hooter’s is on brand-new, hostile territory in the hiring process. If that’s true, for the reasons stated by Mr. Kynaston, we should keep an eye on the place. Either something doesn’t really exist as it’s been presented here, or else this is a country that should have an exceptionally difficult time existing in day-to-day life.

    Well I’ve said my piece. I’m off to my local Hooter’s for a late lunch, and anybody who doesn’t like it…bite me!


    Tuesday, September 6th, 2005


    I’ve had very little to say about the Louisiana/Mississippi disaster. That’s because this blog has an informal policy of corking-it when there is little or nothing further to be added to what others have already said. At this point all I’ve got to talk about is 1) I’ve donated $$$ and if you haven’t donated at least that much, you’re scum; 2) There are heap-big problems with priorities — government, or coverage of government.

    Well I’m not going to say 1) because I think it’s juvenile and retarded. You’re a Republican, I’m a Democrat, you donated ten dollars and I donated twenty, that makes me right? Stupid. And yet there are people saying that very thing. As far as priorities, I’m sure our government will do what the press tells them to do, like it always does, and I’m sure the press always does what we tell it to do. Right now the instructions from the media to the Bush administration are as follows: “You stink!” — because the people who don’t like the Bush administration, have figured out if they can’t strike a public-relations blow here, they can’t do it ever.

    Texas-Air-National-Guard-gate has melted into the ground. Downing-Street-Memo-gate went nowhere. Talk-To-Grieving-Mom-gate has turned out to be a huge embarrassment for all concerned. The whole Iraq thing was doing okay for awhile, but if there’s a national consensus, it turns out to — surprisingly — agree with me. We’re glad Saddam is gone, who gives a rip what the reason was. Some people changed their minds when flag-draped coffins came stateside. People like me, are wondering what kind of rock people like those, live under. War has casualties. We had that argument before March 17, 2003. That there would be casualties, was not concealed from us, as the case was being made.

    So the only dry powder they’ve got is the high price of gas, and the FEMA response to the debacle in New Orleans. Okay, fine, use it; that’s politics. But time it adequately. While rescue efforts are underway, and people are basically camping out in the ocean, surrounded by non-potable water, no food, crapping wherever they can, dead bodies floating past ’em — let’s just concentrate on what’s needed to get the help where it is needed.

    The Feds could have done this? The local rescue efforts could have done that? Anyone with a lick of common sense is in favor of a post-mortem…some of the things that went on were inexcusable. Save it for when the frost is on the pumpkin. If we look into this the first part of October, that gives, like, six or seven weeks before the holidays start in earnest. That’s plenty enough to slime whoever you want to slime.

    Doing it now is essentially What Jesus Would Not Do.

    It’s cheap and sleezy. It’s simply allowing political parasites to make use of Phase II of the K�bler-Ross model: the anger. Grieving people are quick to anger. Bush-bashers are making use of this. That is all this is, and we shouldn’t indulge it.

    Why point that out? Because let’s get realistic, blame is distracting. Can you guarantee me we can play the blame game, and at the same time, rescue everyone who needs rescuing? You can’t? Okay, then the conversation’s over. Rescue away.

    Shoot, the way things have been going with other disasters, we’ll be watching the finger-pointing well into next year if not the year after. There’s time enough for it.

    Must-Tards II

    Monday, September 5th, 2005

    Must-Tards II

    Here’s a classic truism of the word “must”: Speaking of it in the general sense, it is a signature of the purest form of evil. There is very little reason to use it, and when you hear someone else using it, you should run like hell.

    Think about it: Someone must do something. Well, the person pointing this out either has full and complete ownership over the decision, or he doesn’t. If he does, there is no reason to run around using the word “must”; he can simply do what he thinks must be done. If he does not own the decision, then he can state the case why the person who does own the decision, “must” do it the way he wants it done.

    But the trouble with that, is, the word “must” does not state a case. The word “must” mandates complete unconditional acceptance on the part of the person who owns the decision, and anyone else who is within earshot. Now you could logically state the case in a number of ways, and then follow it up by saying “and in conclusion, you must do it my way.” Even then, the person using the word “must” is presuming to speak for all others concerned, in deciding what the desired outcome is. And who is that person, to try and do that? You say “you must take a right at this road to get to Grandma’s house” and you know, since I’m driving, maybe we’re not going to Grandma’s. Maybe we’ll see her after I get something to drink because I’m thirsty. Maybe I’m mad at Grandma and we’re not going there. If you feel so strongly about seeing Grandma, how come you’re not driving?

    So when you hear the word “must,” or “cannot,” head for the hills.

    That’s not an absolute rule, of course. It’s perfectly reasonable to say “You must slow way down and take a sharp left, or else we’ll end up in the ditch.” As the driver of the car, I have an interest in not ending up in the ditch. So the litmus test is, when you tell me I must do something, is it clear what happens if I don’t do it? And who the hell are you ordering me around, anyway? Even if you have the authority to tell me what to do, it’s polite to stick your neck out and make a statement as to why you want this thing done, what happens if it’s not. To just sit back and dictate like that, “green paint here red paint there” paint-by-numbers style, is just freakin’ insulting.

    Most of the time, the word “must” is used used in a hollow way, in a dictatorial, “just do it the way I want or I’ll cry like a red-headed little bitch” way. Especially outside of the United States. Europeans, I notice, lately have been complete Must-Tards. I’m not sure when that started, but Europeans have diarrhea of the mouth with the word “must.” Unions, too. The United Nations, especially. And the European Union. And over on this side of the pond, left-wing zealots are particularly keen on that word “must.”

    Kim Gandy has discovered the word “must,” and you can bet your bottom dollar she is up to no damn good. The President of the National Organization of Women, who somehow thinks her organization has not thoroughly worn out its welcome, popped the cap on her crustiest yellow bottle and let that sucker fly with a windy commentary about the nomination of John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

    Nomination of John Roberts as Chief Justice is an Outrage to Women
    Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy
    September 5, 2005

    The National Organization for Women has been outspoken in our opposition to the nomination of an anti-women’s rights, anti-civil rights judge, John G. Roberts, to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that Roberts’ attitudes toward women have been revealed, it is an outrage and an insult to the women of this country that George W. Bush has nominated such a jurist to be Chief Justice of the United States.

    First, there cannot be a “stealth nominee” for Chief Justice. Bush must release every document from Roberts’ tenure as Principal Deputy Solicitor General under the first President Bush, and any remaining writings from his time as an advisor to the Reagan administration. How dare Bush nominate this candidate for the top position on the Supreme Court when his administration has deliberately concealed hundreds of thousands of pages of his writings, during a time that he was one of the top lawyers representing the people of the United States? If the Bush administration refuses to release these papers, we must ask ourselves what they are hiding. And the Senate must ask the same question.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate must find its collective spine and not roll over for Bush’s favored candidate. They must refuse to move forward until all requested documents are released, and they must ask even tougher questions of Roberts because of the critical nature of the Chief Justice appointment.

    Second, NOW is even more concerned that John Roberts, as Chief Justice, will have a greater opportunity to move the Court and our country backward. The Chief Justice plays a key role in leading the Court, including deciding who writes certain opinions, making numerous appointments within the judicial system, and presiding, alone, over presidential impeachment hearings. If Roberts is confirmed as Chief Justice, Bush will have established right-wing leadership of the Court for another 30 years-a lifetime legacy of the Bush presidency that women and girls will have a lifetime to regret.

    Third, I am taken aback (but not surprised) by Bush’s cynicism and lack of compassion in nominating Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s successor even as his body is being prepared to lie in repose at the Court. Bush’s lack of sensitivity has been on prominent display this past month as he avoided Gold Star mom Cindy Sheehan and was stubbornly slow responding to the humanitarian crisis in New Orleans and Mississippi. With the South still in turmoil from Hurricane Katrina, Bush is pressuring the Senate to rush through this very important process and confirm John Roberts to a lifetime as Chief Justice while the country is looking the other way.

    Finally, Bush now has a second opportunity to honor Sandra Day O’Connor’s legacy by naming a moderate woman to replace her as associate justice. He can get it right this time, and if Bush needs any help finding a woman who will uphold women’s rights, NOW will be happy to help.

    Now just go through this line-by-line and count out the word “must.” It’s absolutely incredible. This woman clearly has no interest, none whatsoever, in respecting any role on the part of others to help decide things against her particular desires, certainly no intention of sharing power in a democratic fashion within a constitutional republic. She just plain wants things her way, period.

    Look at that word “must” just leap off the pages. Here, I put something together to help out with this.

    I don’t understand why people think this gets them any traction. We’re designed to get fatigued, first of all, by one-syllable words, especially when those words are repeated over and over again. And the word “must”? That’s what your Mom tells you when she’s pissed off at you. Maybe Kim Gandy wants to inspire a feeling of guilt and obligation, by acting like everybody’s Mom on one of those days, like when Mom caught Dad giving the babysitter too big of a tip. That doesn’t seem like a smart tactic to use multiple times within a couple paragraphs, does it? Your Mom in a foul mood? You must pick up your clothes and then you must clean your room and then you must do the dishes like I told you to do this morning three times! Who the hell wants to listen to this? And why does Kim Gandy think anybody does?

    It’s particularly offensive here, because by now most people understand the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade tomorrow and abortion would still be legal. So no, Kim ol’ gal, women and girls will not have a “lifetime to regret” this unless Roberts does something as Chief Justice that is completely outside the realm of what you’re talking about.

    And anyway, anybody who’s paying attention to what is going on with our courts, knows what this is really all about is clarity. While the Rehnquist-Thomas-Scalia triumvirate was kept down to just three votes, confusion reigned. You could go into the Supreme Court with a law that says “Morgan’s guilty, he owes fifty bucks” — it could say it THAT WAY, in black and white — and the outcome would be anybody’s guess, with judicial activism & all. If the outcome is anybody’s guess, you’ve got to hire really good lawyers, and so do I. So lawyers make “Dictators of Society” type money, instead of simply “do stuff without screwing it up” type money made by schoolteachers, doctors, maybe some airplane pilots. Well, three guesses which way Kim Gandy wants it to work. Guess who she’s in bed with.

    No, this doesn’t have much at all to do with women and girls. This has to do with payback.

    And that is ANOTHER reason it pays to be suspicious around Must-Tards like Kim Gandy. You want someone to do something, you should at least provide a statement as to why. That way, if you’re lying, it’s easier to nail your ass to the wall. Anybody who wants to avoid that, I don’t trust.

    Sowing Salt

    Monday, September 5th, 2005

    Sowing Salt

    I’m going against form on this one. Normally when when someone screeches about the “societal dangers” being created by “vigilante justice,” by the time the fearmongering reaches my ears it somehow gets translated to “I’m a limp-wristed liberal pansy and I want to release as many bad guys from jail as I possibly can.” No, I’m not a vigilante. No, I don’t want to be a vigilante. Yeah, I see vigilantes as a threat…I just see them as a low-ranking threat.

    Put it this way. How do you go about being a sniper victim? Just go about your business. How do you go about being a victim of a cop-killer? Go through training, take an oath, and then do your job. How do you go about being a rape victim? Be a woman, and do some stuff at night which you rightfully ought to be able to do. How do you go about being a vigilante victim? You have to be a bad guy. Real bad. So, no, unless you want to talk about cases of mistaken-identity, we’re not talking about something that endangers “the societal contract,” we’re talking about something endangering people who have already refused to honor that contract. We don’t all have the same rights as a provision of that contract…not if there are some who refuse to sign it.

    Now having said that — this guy is bad, and I’ll tell you why. Early in the morning of Saturday, August 27, James Russell returned to his home at 2825 Northwest Ave. in Bellingham, Washington, and found the bodies of Hank Eisses and Victor Vasquez. Russell and Vasquez had been renting this unit from Eisses. All three men were registered Level III sex offenders.

    According to the various news sources which in turn appear to rely on eyewitness accounts from the mens’ neighbors, Eisses and Vasquez were visited for perhaps over two hours by a man claiming to be from the FBI. It would appear the man came in person to warn the sex offenders of some vigilantes who had downloaded their home address from a web site, and were going to do something about them. Presumably, sometime during the interview it was revealed that the “man from the FBI” was the vigilante. Eisses and Vasquez ate bullets. The suspect is still at large.

    Link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link.

    There is a huge cadre of activists and politicians who, for reasons that entirely escape me, treat this kind of stuff as a “something absolutely has gotta be done to guarantee this never happens again in a bazillion-and-one years” whereas, on the other hand, the crimes committed by the sex offenders fall into the category of something resembling an “oopsie.” Nobody can really explain why this is, even the “ordinary” people who echo the sentiment. Bad things happening to bad people, why, that’s bad. We should turn all the furniture upside down to stop it from happening. Bad things happening to good people…well, that’s just life, isn’t it?

    So the mission has already been undertaken to educate us about how this looks from the point-of-view of other sex offenders who are afraid the bad guy is after them. And yeah there is something wrong with that; things shouldn’t be that way. Just like the victims of these sex offenders should never have become victims. You know what’s going to happen now? They’re going to start locking down those offender lists. Maybe you’ll have to register yourself, in order to find out where they live. Maybe pay a fee. Or maybe you won’t be able to find out where the tree-jumpers live, no matter what you do. Maybe you’ll be fined and prosecuted for disclosing the addresses, just like you would be for disclosing private medical information. Who knows, before it’s over maybe you’ll be subject to prosection for even learning the addresses. Maybe they’ll stop compiling the information altogether.

    All these things are possible, and even become likely if this guy gets to off many more perverts on his list — especially if he can work his way through it without giving the police any leads.

    All of this puts kids in danger. We get to learn the addresses of these registered sex offenders, so that if one of them is living right where our children walk home from school everyday, we can learn about it and do something about it. Why do I care? Because I walked to school. In Bellingham. I grew up there. And I walked past some rented housing units that were, well — let’s just say if I was somehow still doing it, I’d want a peak at that list.

    The sex offender registry process has been a powerful weapon in the war of keeping the innocent among us, protected from harm. Now it has a real chance of being taken away from us…and what’s worse, is if this comes to happen, the powerful advocacy groups would stand guard to make sure the information on registered sex offenders never becomes available ever again — never, never, not ever. There is a real potential here that salt can be sown into the ground.

    Somehow, when the “normal” public, which is assumed to be law-abiding, gets a new freedom, that freedom is regarded as a privilege which is subject to nullification if one headstrong weirdo sees fit to abuse it. Practically never does the general “public have a right” that is actually treat as a right. Truly inalienable rights, are reserved for the scummy layer. The sex offenders don’t have privileges. They get real live “rights” which are left intact, whether they are convenient to others, or not. The disparity is obvious, contrary to common sense, just plain ridiculous, and it’s easy to argue persuasively against it. Or, at least, it would be easy to argue against it, if some trigger-happy asshole wasn’t running around snuffing people out.


    Monday, September 5th, 2005


    This morning President Bush nominated John Roberts to replace the deceased Chief Justice, instead of taking Associate Justice O’Connor’s seat.

    The swift move would promote to the Supreme Court’s top job a man who currently is being considered as one of eight associate justices.

    “I am honored and humbled by the confidence the president has shown in me,” Roberts said, standing alongside Bush in the Oval Office. “I am very much aware that if I am confirmed I would succeed a man I deeply respect and admire, a man who has been very kind to me for 25 years.”

    A month ago, I had poo-poo’d Ann Coulter’s objections to John Roberts and his tendency to be…well, his tendency to not be an Ann Coulter clone. I despise people who bitch and piss and moan about people in power not being carbon-copies of the people doing the bitching and pissing and moaning, and the fact is I can grow very old waiting for a carbon-copy of Ann Coulter to survive senate scrutiny and screechy demagoguery by Kennedy, Reid, Feinstein and Boxer. Assuming I wanted to see that.

    But I must say…this does have me a little concerned. This is how Earl Warren got started. It is a nearly-precise repeat (except Warren was a recess appointment). Nobody, anywhere, is debating with any effect how constitutionalist principles are going to be respected by a Justice Roberts — all I see them doing is trying to reassure the Abortion-On-Demand crowd that a Supreme Court with Roberts’ butt in one of the seats, will oversee just as much baby-killing per annum as it has overseen up until now. In this day & age, an Earl Warren wouldn’t even need a recess appointment. He’d squeak right on through.

    Coulter’s concerns are very serious. We don’t need any more dead children. And I’m not talking about children who are still in their momma’s tummies. I’m talking about children children, the ones who could be kidnapped as they walk home from school, by predators released from jail by brand-new exclusionary rules, penumbral rights and other such technicalities. We don’t need district attorneys to become “distract attorneys” as they are bullied and intimidated by a judiciary hostile to justice. We don’t need another age of serial killers.

    That Includes Me?

    Monday, September 5th, 2005

    That Includes Me?

    Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-LA, took aim at some of the less flattering things federal officials have had to say about local rescue efforts in New Orleans.

    “If one person criticizes them or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me…One more word about it after this show airs and I might likely have to punch him. Literally.”

    This is to be expected. One of the jobs a senator has is to get her mug on television and let her constituents know what she is doing for them — getting them food and meds, finding federal money to rebuild after the damage, defending their reps. And as far as violence and threats of same by sitting members of the United States Congress, this is nothing new. Two years ago, the Carpetbagger Report did a great job rounding up examples of canings, wrestlings, beatings, etc. since 1798. So I’ll leave it to someone else to get all squeamish and pissy about threats of violence from scrappin’ senators.

    No, what concerns me is what has happened, relatively recently, to the Daniel Patrick Moynihan quote. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” The political party Moynihan claimed as his own, appears to have forgotten the first half of this; I haven’t seen any evidence that anyone in charge there, is ready to protect, or even respect, opinions they don’t like. I walk into a room full of Republicans and announce “Al Gore really won the election in 2000” and I get basic respect. Sure, I get sneers, heckling, derisive giggles, raised eyebrows, cluck-clucking, oh-dearing, tsk-tsking, but that’s about all. In other words, I’m perfectly entitled to my boneheaded, stupid, silly-ass opinion. I walk into a room full of Democrats and say “George Bush won the election of 2000” and I get — something else. Something that is not at all pretty. Passionate speeches about how much harm I’m doing by proliferating my opinion. The terrible people I’m protecting and what they’re doing to the Little People. Aid and comfort I’m giving to people who commit hate crimes.

    This is not good. Over the short term, we can expect more Republican senators to be elected if Democrats continue to provide instructions to people about what everyone should be thinking; other than that, there’s no upside to this. Leaders don’t hand out stencils that define who can be criticised and who cannot be. If George W. Bush is unfairly slandering the local rescue efforts, respond point-by-point. If the facts are on your side, this is something you should be able to do.

    I find it awfully tough to believe any constituency needs to send someone to the senate to make sure the federal government never criticizes their local emergency management agencies. Point out the things that make those local agencies look good? Sure. That’s representation. But bully and intimidate, with physical force, so that nothing bad can ever be uttered against those agencies? That smacks of union-style thuggery. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe Sen. Landreau’s party, with its history of coziness with union thugs, has atrophied from the process of collecting facts and forming opinions from those facts. Maybe they’re just a little too comfortable with threatening people into having the right opinion.

    Senator Landrieu, can I make up my own mind? It’s pretty clear the rescue has been bungled badly, and who the hell knows now, maybe after we do the post-mortem all the facts will put squarely to George W. Bush and FEMA. But a post-mortem we will definitely have to do, and speaking for myself, I don’t think any cows should be made sacred. Facts are still coming in about who messed up what, and where. Let’s fix all of it, local and otherwise. That’s my opinion. I know you’re busy right now, but I’ll be living here for probably quite some time, about seventeen miles from Sacramento International Airport (code SMF) and I’ve been smacked in the face by better women than you.


    Saturday, September 3rd, 2005


    The American political theater is just a big sine wave, with peaks and valleys. A zenith for Republicans is a nadir for Democrats and vice-versa. This means if one party keeps right on winning, the winning streak comes to an end sooner or later, and you can see it coming when the wins get less and less frequent, and less and less meaningful. If the other party keeps right on losing, the time’s going to come when there is noplace left to go but up, and when that happens, the losing party will start kicking ass.

    With this whole New Orleans debacle, I’ve got a feeling we’re just about there. One of the things that made Bill Clinton such an effective representative of the Democratic party was that his presidency saw to it that international problems, if there were any, were kept off the front pages. (The incident with “Monica Missiles” was an exception to this, his motives for making it such being obvious.) One thing that stays consistent across time, is that international news is not helpful to Democrats. It’s hard to get worked up about free medicine for rich old people being increased in next year’s budget by eight percent instead of ten percent, when shaggy old men who smell like goat pee are trying to kill you.

    Democratic party activists say they “hate George Bush because he started a war,” but it’s probably closer to the truth to say they hate him because he got people to start talking about the war. President Bush, like everyone on this side of the ocean, actually started nothing. The organizations we’re fighting now, started a war on us, and throughout the years they’ve probably been getting pretty darned ticked off over their inability to get our attention.

    I hope Al Qaeda enjoyed having our attention while they had it.

    Hurricane Katrina has turned things around, and I’m afraid it’s for the long haul. Bush looks bad. The road doesn’t go uphill anymore, it’s leveling off, and it’s leveled off because we’re at the summit. Worrying about Iraq, all of a sudden, is tough to do. A woman a hundred years old is sitting out in the scalding sun, with no way to get the medication she needs, while thugs and rapists rule the streets around her, and babies with bloated bellies go without formula.

    The Boston Herald has started to dig up some dirt on the current FEMA director. It looks like a hatchet job. It looks petty. It also looks pretty persuasive.

    This is why, while it’s easy to get a laundry list going of social problems toward which liberals have contributed helpful programs, it’s awfully hard to think of any social problems they’ve actually solved. Social problems are dry powder for them; excruciating social problems that make people wince when they hear about them, are more like dry C-4. Democrats are in a position to monopolize just about every pressing domestic issue, but what they can politically afford to actually solve amounts to precisely nothing.

    What’s interesting to me, is that when you start digging around for some facts on what went wrong with this whole New Orleans business and how it could have gone down a little better, everybody looks bad but the questions left unanswered reflect more on the municipal side of things. As more facts come out, that may change. But by now it seems firmly established that there either was no plan, or if there was one, it lacked substance or was rendered inoperable by emerging circumstances.

    Let’s take the things that make the feds look the worst. Mike Brown himself, director of FEMA, was unaware until sometime in the middle of the week about the evacuees being warehoused at the convention center. This is pretty huge. If this whole exercise culminates in a resignation from Mr. Brown, the seeds that will blossom into that resignation event will have been sown here. So is this purely a federal problem? Do we call for Brown’s head and call it good?

    If that’s our strategy for fixing the problem, I do not want to go into any convention centers during the next crisis.

    How does FEMA become aware of people waiting for help at convention centers? Is the director of FEMA supposed to be watching Nightline? As I wallow in human filth at the convention center, starving and dehydrating, how exactly am I supposed to be hoping someone finds me? Am I supposed to be hoping one of Mike Brown’s subordinates finds out about me on Google? No, that’s ridiculous. A breakdown in communication of this magnitude, had to happen in a number of places…and some of those places were municipal. Is the convention center a place you’re supposed to go to in an emergency, yes or no? Why are we confused about the answer now, on Saturday, six days after the hurricane hit? If we’re this confused now, what was it like as the lights were going out?

    This situation cries out for overhaul across the board. But the way the American political system works, I’m afraid there will only be an outcry for overhaul at the federal level. You can only find some powerful interest groups to agitate dissatisfaction at that level…nowhere else.

    And how long will this dissatisfaction stay agitated? Probably quite awhile. Look at Abu Ghraib. Long after the last prisoner was ever made to wear a hood and stand on a box holding wires in his hands…long, long after the Army had opened its own investigation into this…major newspapers were cooking up ways to put Abu Ghraib stories on Page One, without any new news to report on it. Long after Janice Karpinski had been relieved of command and busted from one-star to bird-colonel, our newspapers were still printing the story above-the-fold, trying to find a way to damage the Bush administration.

    Well New Orleans is going to be rebuilt (or swept away) for years. Years. It will be like lifetimes and lifetimes worth of effort.

    Our media will jackhammer this thing into the ground. It will make “Passion of the Christ” look like a quick earlobe-nibbling session with your date. So long as there remains one single traffic light, parking meter or newsstand that needs to be carted from one end of the freshly-rebuilt New Orleans, to the other end, our media will regurgitate the obligatory lines about that disaster in late-August of 2005, brought on by hurricane Katrina and that horrible, ineffectual FEMA that was part of the incompetent George W. Bush administration.

    It’s a shame, really. It’s been said that even the staunchest small-government libertarian-anarchist-guy is in favor of having a fire hall, and just about all of us can get behind the idea of government being prepared to respond for a natural emergency like this. Clearly, that government — or those governments, when & where they are expected to communicate with each other — failed us. That failure is a clarion call for a good, purifying light of journalistic watchdoggery, which could serve us best by creating a long, comprehensive list of places where those failures originated, and how they metastasized.

    And what we get to look forward to, are indictments of the George W. Bush administration.

    Which on January 20, 2009, won’t be around anymore anyway.

    We need our media. They have a great opportunity to demonstrate to us how much we need them. They’re about to blow it.

    The last time Democrats won at anything, they stopped their guy from being removed from the White House during an impeachment scandal. Every Republican victory since then, has lifted us up another thousand feet, and another, and another. Now we’re at the summit. We’re about to drop from that summit, with a 21st-century Lyndon Johnson or Jimmy Carter administration. Get ready for twenty years of tax increases, tea parties with terrorists, exotic legal arguments for releasing perverts and rapists from jail, gun control up the ass, and a maximum wage that’s about five bucks an hour higher than the minimum wage.

    And VERY little sincere post-mortem about what happened in New Orleans.

    Hate to say it, but that’s my prediction.

    So Compassionate

    Friday, September 2nd, 2005

    So Compassionate

    There are certain things I know, regardless of whether I’ve figured out why those things are so, and one of the things I know is:

    17. A man may not kill a fly for a cause he believes is right; but he might do terrible things for a cause he believes is righteous.

    And it would appear from skimming over this link over on Democratic Underground (DU) that one of the terrible things someone can do for a righteous cause, is to go entirely out of one’s way to avoid helping someone in terrible need based on the injured party’s political beliefs, and then actively go about projecting that behavior on someone else. And in an Internet forum visible to the entire civilized world, no less.

    Quothe DU denizen demgurl:

    I was on my home and was on the ramp getting off the highway. I saw a mini-van on the side of the road. There was a lady standing next to the van and in her arms she held her child. I can only assume her mini-van had broken down. I don’t know, perhaps with so many gad stations being out of gas, she had also run out. I slowed down and started to pull over to offer her a ride. At the very last second I noticed a “W” sticker on the back of her vehicle and I sped up and drove off.

    If you’re familiar with DU this is nothing new. DU people are a whacky bunch, and when these nuggets are mined out of the DU message stream the immediate knee-jerk defense is that “all Democrats are not like that.” And that’s true, by the way. I’d say out of the Democrats I know, maybe 20% or 30% have the same hateful nature as the DU community, the balance of them being truly nice people with golden hearts who’ve simply been fooled into thinking we can eliminate poverty by giving poor people money.

    But this particular thread is remarkable. Read every post:

    • First poster says next time, give them a chance to convert, and only refuse to help them if they don’t
    • Second poster submits an empty message with a title endorsing the first poster
    • Third poster is the original person who actually did the abandoning, apparently expressing surprise and disgust at her own actions. “I don’t know how freepers can act this way and not even think twice about it. ” Freepers are members of the Free Republic, which is DU slang for people who don’t think like them. This is projection.
    • Fourth poster says the fact that demgurl is so troubled by her own behavior suggests she has a conscience, which proves she’s better than Bush.
    • Fifth poster says he or she wouldn’t have stopped either.
    • The sixth and seventh posters, finally, point out that this was not okay. Interestingly, the seventh poster says the reason it’s not okay is because it’s an example of becoming what you hate. This person has seen too many movies and is engaging, again, in projection.
    • Eighth person thinks the original poster did the right thing. Ninth and tenth persons react (I think to this) with some measure of righteous indignation. Eleventh person says she understands completely and totally, injects some tripe about how the whole hurricane thing is all Bush’s fault, and the temper tantrum continues.

    This is kind of scary. Our ability to think about things is nationalized now. It happened when communication sped way up throughout the twentieth century; presented with an opportunity to think for ourselves in the midst of a constant onslaught of other peoples’ opinions, which generations previous we never would have found out about, we declined. We started echoing opinions instead of simply listening to them.

    Now, when we decide hemlines should go up, we nationally decide hemlines should go up, and not a single one of us can explain why. When we decide we’re tired of hearing about Christina Aguillera, and we’re in the mood for a retro comeback from Cher, we decide this nationally, and no one among us can explain why. We’ve become like ants. People don’t think for themselves too much anymore.

    For that reason, this is a national security threat, I think. Not the political belief system. Demgurl can decide to vote for John Kerry or Al Gore so that we won’t have any more hurricanes — that’s simply stupid, and we’ve had stupid people around for a long, long time. We can survive stupid. What I don’t think we can survive is someone refusing to help truly needy people because she doesn’t like the needy person’s political beliefs; convincing herself that it never happened and it was the other side that did this; and a roomful of sympathetic people telling her “there, there” and reinforcing her belief this is what actually happened.

    No, I don’t think DU should be shut down.

    No, I don’t think any rules should be changed, anywhere. That’s why I’m not a liberal. I’m noticing something is busted and it will eventually kill us — it does not automatically mean I’m for changing any rules.

    But we should all make an effort to be aware of what is happening here. That awareness, whether it changes the way you vote or not, is the only thing that will eventually save us.

    Happy 30th, Bruce

    Thursday, September 1st, 2005

    Happy 30th, Bruce

    Today is the thirtieth birthday of Jaws.

    Birthdays of movies are entirely unimportant, but birthdays of entire genres are worth remembering. Why? Because a genre mirrors important events in the evolution of our society. There are reasons for them. Also, we haven’t really had too many genres in American cinematic history. Everything we’ve had since World War 2 falls into something resembling this:

    1. A hard-drinking detective who sleeps in his office agrees to take a case that turns out to be more complicated than he thought
    2. Swords-and-Sandals
    3. Elvis
    4. Spaghetti Westerns
    5. Spies with cameras that look like belt buckles and guns that look like…cameras or something
    6. Earthquakes, fires, floods and hijacked planes
    7. Burned-out, hard-drinking, grizzled cop, or bereaved husband & father, or both, takes the law into his own hands
    8. Forces of nature eating people
    9. Outer space stuff with lasers that go zap
    10. Hatchet-men like Jason, Freddy, Michael
    11. A headstrong woman has a difficult relationship with her headstrong mother and they spend two hours showcasing their headstrong personalities
    12. An ugly duckling in a new school is picked on by the cool-girls and an hour into the movie she gets a makeover that consists of lipstick and swirling her hair around, gets the guy of her dreams, humiliates the meanest girl in school at the prom
    13. In an adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, it’s up to Jack Ryan to stop some sinister group of bad people from executing some devious plot to destroy something really big that would kill a lot of people and in the process he learns something about our government that is really interesting, incredibly disturbing, or both
    14. Hollywood instructs us on what we’re supposed to think about Bill Clinton, his Monica problems, the military, hippies, global warming and radio talk show hosts — and charges us money for the privilege of being told what we should think
    15. A tormented hip hop artist copes with a tough life in the hood before finally making it big
    16. Martial arts specialists use wire-work to change the laws of physics to something resembling a Bugs Bunny cartoon
    17. James Bond is brought back from the Dead
    18. So is Star Wars

    And that’s it. It’s a pretty short list for a sixty-year span, and with the exception of a few brave explorations here and there that didn’t pan out, there aren’t many movies that fall outside of this.

    It should be noted that although “Forces of nature eating people” mostly failed to establish any noteworthy franchises, the flagship movie had to do everything right just to get this whole thing started. The preceeding “takes the law into his own hands” genre was a grassroots movement inspired by a public grown weary and agitated by a justice system that was bound & determined to flood every neighborhood with perverts and psychos walking around as free as anyone else. The Hollywood I remember back then, wasn’t cozy with the liberal establishment like they are today — they simply shared an anti-war agenda, and that was about it. Good money was to be made making “Death Wish” and “Dirty Harry” movies, which were relatively inexpensive to make, so the movies got made. The point is, if it were not for Jaws, this would have sputtered on forever. Or at least another 2 years before Star Wars came out.

    Jaws may very well have saved lives. We realized that walking out of a movie theater with a phobia you didn’t have when you walked in two hours before, was actually pretty fun. We were reminded that the movie theater was a place for make-believe. Had we continued to wallow in our disaffections with the porous justice system over buckets of popcorn, maybe we never would have rallied to show that dissatisfaction at the ballot box. We may never have had a President Reagan, and who knows, even today we may have had a Supreme Court endlessly coming up with new reasons to let perverts and murderers out of jail.