Archive for October, 2005

The Dustbin

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

The Dustbin

I have this dustbin in my head that is full of “facts” that I don’t out-and-out deny, and which in many cases I believe to be true, sometimes enthusiastically — but which have other problems. Some of them need more evidence to be useful. Others have already been proven to the greatest extent they can possibly be proven, and still, they aren’t useful. For reasons like these, the items in my dustbin have already received as much attention as they merit, and will get no more attention from me even if everyone around me is obsessed with them.

To grasp this concept, you have to acknowledge when we draw inferences about things, we may come to the conclusion that a thing is true without coming to the conclusion that it is usefully true. A lot of outspoken people are spending a lot of time trying to convince people they’re right, when what they really need to be arguing is whether a certain action or inaction can be justified because they are right.

Maybe it’s worth taking an inventory of my dustbin, because it is likely a lot of other people have the same dustbin.

One example is men who can’t handle the fact that their wives make more money than they do. I’m told this is a problem, and I have been told this for a long time. Over this time, this has gradually been relegated to the dustbin. It won’t merit a single quarter-second of additional serious thought out of me until I meet a flesh-and-blood example of a frustrated, under-achieving, egotistical husband. I’ve spent my whole adult life working, and half of it to support this-or-that welfare-mom who was conditioned to think she couldn’t possibly make more than six dollars an hour so why bother trying. I’m plumb wore out. If my sweetie wants to step all over my fragile male ego by making twice as much as me, then go right ahead.

Every working man I have personally known, has felt the same way. We’re all very secure in our under-achieving wage-slave male egos. If there are any men who think differently, I’d love to meet them. I’ll bet if they’re out there at all, they’re all under twenty.

Children who “have” to be on Ritalin and other drugs because of their “mild” or “borderline” ADHD: Yes, the parents are right when they say the medication “helps.” Yes, there are hyperactive kids. No, every single kid who is an active or passive discipline problem, is not necessarily one of these.

Children who need this medication to perform, who eventually blossom into adults who do not need this medication or any other kind of medication: Sure, I believe it happens. I’d like to know how often. Shouldn’t someone be asking that question? Shouldn’t anyone considering putting their children on the drug, be insisting on such an answer before going forward?

Other things in the dustbin: The men who “force” women to whittle their figures down to ninety pounds at five-foot-ten, so that the poor waifs have to barf their way into a hospital to make their callous, shallow, and downright mean studs happy. Sorry, I’m not buying it anymore. I think the Kate Moss fashion trend was started by women and homosexuals in the fashion industry. All the straight men I know, like to see curves.

Hate crimes perpetrated upon the Muslim community in the wake of the September 11 bombings, and other incidents: I emphatically believe some of them have happened. I do not believe they have happened to the extent they have been portrayed, nor do I believe our media has dealt with us honestly on this. To whatever extent you believe something has to repeatedly happen in order to become a pandemic, epidemic, or even a significant societal concern, I am unconvinced this has ever surpassed that threshold.

Genocidal acts by Christians in history: I keep hearing about the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. That’s reaching back in history almost a thousand years. Shouldn’t there be more examples? Two is a trend, three is a pattern. All we have here is a trend, not even a pattern.

What else? There are the men who push up the male insurance premium rate by being worse drivers than women. Oh, there are reckless males out there. But reckless is a helluva lot safer than oblivious. Those soccer moms on their cell phones are driving ENORMOUS cars they can’t control, the cell phones are always the flip-style clamshell thing, that makes it four times harder to check your blind spot during a lane change. I’ve never heard of a woman pulled over for using a cell phone, nor have I heard of a woman, once pulled over, actually getting a ticket. A little crying, and you’re let off with a warning, which means the premium paid by the fairer sex goes down. So yes, you pay less for insurance, and no, you’re not safer drivers. Find me a reckless man, and I’ll find you two oblivious women — who have never been in accidents before, but God only knows how many they caused.

Terrorists who aren’t Muslims: Again, I’m convinced there have been some. I’m convinced there have been several. All I keep hearing about is this Timothy McVeigh guy.

You don’t need to believe in a God in order to make ethical decisions: I think that’s true. I think atheists and agnostics make decent decisions all the time. But to believe they are on par with the religious, in terms of their potential to do these decent things, you have to believe humans have the innate quality of doing palatable things, not simply justifiable things, when they aren’t being watched. I’m winding up my fourth decade here of interacting with people…sorry. Not buying it.

Slimy, filthy, dishonest rich people who didn’t work for their money: I know for a fact they are out there, I just don’t know how many of them there are, or if the fraction they represent is meaningful in any way. The rich people I’ve met treated me pretty good. Something tells me that to the extent I have made myself comfortable, I owe it to my successes in emulating their methods, and to the extent I have failed to do so, I owe it to the differences between their behavior and mine. Sure looks that way, from where I sit.

Pot is not a gateway drug: Those who have trashed their lives with harder drugs, I’m sure, represent a hodge-podge blending those who have smoked pot and those who never did. So this is a description of an aggregate entity using a singular attribute, which always gives rise to fallacy. If there were nothing to the theory that it’s a gateway drug, shouldn’t it be easy to convincingly discredit it, banishing it forever from the realm of subjective opinion? This appears to have not been done.

Homosexuals are simply born that way: Those in the scientific profession have been arguing for this or against this, while waiting for some hard evidence to come along and support what they’re arguing. We ought to have the technology by now to ferret out the genetic attribute, DNA strand, or brain wrinkle, unless the “switch” is buried somewhere in our makeup where we can’t yet go lookin’. Technology can do quite a lot at this point, so that would be some deep burying indeed. I’m convinced some of them are born that way. I’m also convinced some aren’t. Why does it matter, anyhow?

We were awfully mean to the Indians: Absolutely true. More than one euro-sympathetic white guy, who was alive at the time, wrote down on paper their opinion that our behavior was atrocious and demanded atonement. But it’s disingenuous to base policy decisions on that, without taking into account what Indians did to the Caucasian settlers in return. One disturbing thing that keeps surfacing from history, is the Indian who attacks Anglo-Saxons out of fear, because he knows someone who was killed by entirely different white settlers. Okay, now wait just a minute — that’s supposed to be exactly what was reprehensible and hideous when the white settlers were shooting the Indians: You’re killing Sioux Indians because some Cherokees killed your momma. Tribe A had nothing to do with Tribe B, hence the injustice. It was wrong, and bred distrust, when either side did it. How does any of this affect what we can do about it now? I don’t know. That’s the point.

Rush Limbaugh knowingly broke the law when he abused Oxycontin. I’ll buy that. Again, what are you going to do with it? Prosecute him? It’s already been tried, and the case ground to a halt because of patient confidentiality laws. Discredit some or all of what he says? That’s called an ad hominem attack; it’s flawed, intellectually lazy, and stupid. If you’re not going to prosecute and you’re not going to discredit, there’s nowhere to go with it.

My dustbin has so many things, and I think everybody else’s is bulging too. I sure hear a lot of people bitching about how too many people do too much bitching. Now that my dustbin has so many things that I have to write them down to keep track of them all, I think the problem is not that we bitch too much, but that we’re bitching about the wrong things.

Why Aren’t You There?

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

Why Aren’t You There?

Maybe it’s their cozy history with union thuggery, or perhaps they’ve lately become a little too friendly with Europe. But since the September 11 attacks, it’s come one notch shy of a new dictionary definition: When those on “The Left” engage in political debate, the “debate” invariably stops being an exchange of ideas, and swings around into an exercise in telling people what to do.

Sadly, this remains the case — perhaps even reaches a zenith — when the conversation turns toward Iraq. On this subject, the Left is cornered by people like me, who think it was the right thing to do, and far too late; and, by people who believe it was a hideous mistake, but see the wisdom that now that we’re in there, retreat even in future-timeline form would be a major disaster. Against both of us, I’m entirely unclear on what True Believes on the Left have in mind for a vision. I’m not sure they know either. But boy howdy, they sure know how to look into the sands of the past and lecture anyone who will listen on things that should not have been done.

And their plan is iron-clad for figuring out who is a hypocrite, as if that’s what we need to do in these troubled times: A hypocrite is someone who 1) disagrees with them, oh boy, there’s a shocker; and 2) isn’t actually on the front line in Iraq, fighting the Good Fight. In other words, me. And Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Rourke, Coulter, Elder, Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc. etc. etc.

It is perhaps lost on no one, although seldom pointed out anywhere, that if you qualify for #1 then #2 is a given. If you believe, as I do, that the Left is a bunch of bitter, whiny crybabies who can’t get over the fact they lost an election, and a bunch of dullards who simply figure out their Hollywood icons don’t like war and therefore they shouldn’t either, you have a God-given freedom-of-speech right to say so — right up until you enlist. Then you have to hunker down and do your job. If you believe passionately in your points-of-view, you are obliged to leave the commentary to someone else who isn’t enlisted. Ah, but The Left likes to tell people what to do, and lives in a fantasy world where everybody complies unquestioningly — therefore — anyone pro-war, should enlist, and shut up. And when you say they “should” what you mean is they will.

They want zero dissent. That is what they must have, because they can’t cope with dissent. Coping with dissent, it seems, is everyone else’s job.

I’m not sure who circulated this talking point for them. It can’t be someone with too much smarts, because it doesn’t work. It just plain doesn’t. For one thing, free speech isn’t really free speech for anybody unless it is enjoyed by everybody. Another problem is, enlisting is a lot like looking for a job — just because you’ve declared yourself to be on the market, doesn’t automatically guarantee someone is willing to take you. Among the people like me who understand why it was necessary to go into Iraq, are a lot of people who acquired this wisdom over the years noticing the far-flung effects of terrorist appeasement. By and large, we’re pretty old. The Left wants their new rule to apply universally, not just to certain people, so do they think there aren’t any octagenarians and nanogenarians in favor of the war? Do they think there’s no one on emphezema who requires an oxygen tank? No paraplegics?

The point is, when The Left notices that those who disagree, aren’t serving, and announces the discovery of hypocrisy, they show their own ignorance. People who disagree, aren’t serving by definition, because when you serve you give up your freedom-of-speech rights about things like this. People who do that, are heroes. And while they go off and fight with bullets, the terrorists they fight plan to retaliate in the theater of ideas. The terrorists have said so!

Who is left to engage in that theater of ideas? The anti-war left would have it be just them. Nobody else. Their army would march across the battlefield, unopposed, participating in something resembling more of a parade than any kind of conflict. Freed from the burdensome task of having to explain their ideas, they would simply demoralize everybody else until we pressured our leaders into a retreat. The troops would then fly home, the task incomplete, and then sit by the fireplace with the rest of us, waiting to see what happens.

Then, I would have to guess, and I expect no one would directly disagree, the prognosis is that we go back to the days of a terrorist “nuisance.” We’ll argue about Social Security while embassies are bombed. We’ll hash out the details in some well-intentioned and possibly effective welfare reform bill, while ships are blown up. We’ll scream at each other over union rules and cost-of-living adjustments, while planes are hijacked. Every five or ten years, we’ll send our President out to the Rose Garden to shake hands and drink Mint Julip with a terrorist and announce the end of terrorism. And every once in a while when things go really, really well for the terrorists, we’ll have several thousands of people dead in a smoking crater where a landmark once stood. Then it will be front page news, we’ll “come together as Americans, with no Republicans or Democrats” and two months later we’ll go back to yelling at each other over relatively trivial bullshit, while poor Osama wonders what in the hell he has to do to get our attention again.

In short, terrorism would be treated like a really bad weather phenomenon, with no one responsible.

Except when we feel like blaming Republicans. Hey, brilliant plan!

Here’s a much better one, anti-war leftists. I, and millions like me, will intellectually oppose you. Someone has to. HAS TO. And we’re not over there, where you want us to be. What’s worse, is we know why you want us there, and it has nothing to do with hypocrisy. Deal with it.

The Disease

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

The Disease

The One For Whom I Have Unlimited Affection received an e-mail last night which stumped her. It seems to be one of these things that’s going ’round the innernets, as they say, and she was at a loss as to understand how it came to her from where it was supposed to have come from. She was also at a loss as to how to reply to it. I, on the other hand, was not. I volunteered to form a reply. So this morning, she passed it on to me:

NYT, September 7, 2005

THE CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL has issued a no-nonsense warning about a new, highly virulent strain of sexually transmitted disease. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior.

The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim. Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past 4 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease.

Cognitive sequellae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to, anti-social personality disorder traits; delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia and homophobia; inability to accept responsibility for actions; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; total ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior.

The disease is sweeping Washington. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago in a Texas bush. Please inform any of your friends and associates who have been acting unusual lately.

And here is the reply that is going out. I wish I could say it was an extraordinarily difficult exercise of Herculean difficulty. I can’t say that. The words just flowed.

House of Eratosthenes, October 27, 2005

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH has issued a no-nonsense warning about a new, highly virulent strain of a deadly, possibly airborn virus. This infestation defies all known logic, therefore it is impossible to determine exactly how it is transmitted.

The virus is called Blayma Lameduck. It seems one of the most hazardous ways to come in contact with the virus is through theater seats, especially when watching political propaganda thinly disguised as documentary films.

The most reliable symptom of infection is a tendency to place irrational blame on elected officials who are actually not running for re-election, for such things as: rabid-wombat-crazy terrorists murdering our troops overseas; hurricanes, tornadoes and other weather patterns; network executives ending their own careers with sleazy tabloid journalism and forged documents; and Vietnam era posers being caught fabricating Christmas trips to Cambodia. Other signs of infection include: inability to differentiate fact from opinion; inability to disagree with others, while simultaneously showing a modicum of cordiality and respect; sudden cessation of critical thinking ability, particularly when reading glossy brochures from MoveOn.Org; inability to incorporate new information; hallucination of xenophobia and homophobia where none actually exists; inability to accept responsibility for actions; rigid and irrational insistence on re-living a certain election that took place in Florida five years ago; righteous indignation during war protests; schizophrenic imaginings of extraordinarily malicious properties behind otherwise harmless Christian symbols; hero-worshipping of slutty behavior; and a marked tendency to place unlimited intellectual faith in certain dimwitted Hollywood celebrities. Victims of Blayma Lameduck have also been known to engage in reckless intercourse with strangers without the slightest demonstrated knowledge of who their sex partners are. These may include, but not limited to: terrorists, terrorist appeasers, nihilists, Nazi sympathizers, Communists, ethnic activists who want to kill white people, Islamic extremists bent on making the world a Muslim theocracy, various factions who want to destroy Israel, and limousine liberals forcing everyone else to subsidize and patronize the public educational system, while simultaneously sending their own children to private schools.

The disease has swept America with astonishing speed. Physicians and psychologists caution that while very few are susceptible, and it appears they have already been infected, this virus has the potential by 2008 to explode into unlimited, nationwide Gore. If any of your friends or associates have been acting unusual lately, don’t bother trying to inform them of this or anything else, it’s probably too late.

The Bicycle Diaries — or Are Jewelers Scum?

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

The Bicycle Diaries — or Are Jewelers Scum?

I live within three miles of the Jedediah Smith Trail, and for the first time in my life, I own a bicycle that really does have to be locked up because it’s worth stealing. The Trek 7300 24-speed hybrid, oh great hairy wombat gonads in the morning, this thing kicks so much ass. It just goes. Zoom!

I’ve been waiting for this environment/equipment juxtaposition for seventeen years now, back when my Iron Man ambitions had more to do with the Burke-Gilman Trail that winds around Lake Washington in Seattle. If you define “waiting” as “forgetting about it indefinitely and going to work on building up that disgusting middle-age pudge.” But I digress. Yesterday morning, successfully gobbling up all the miles between my place and the zero-marker at Discovery Park (I did, I really did, see picture), I was faced with the task of making it back home again. Second half of the return leg, I was noticing the miles were ticking by MUCH more slowly. This signals the seasoned adventurer that a reliable ETA is a figment of history, and whenever the journey ends, the physical pain is bound to be just beginning. There is no point to these two paragraphs, except to explain exactly how it came to be that I was listening to AM radio for six hours in a row, my original intentions allowing for only three.

The six hours have thoroughly convinced me of something which, up to yesterday, was simply a shallow, smoldering suspicion: There is something abysmally wrong with the jewelry industry.

It’s not that I’m in favor of some new external oversight, such as regulation, watchdog agencies, or the like. But if someone isn’t in favor of these, I don’t want to hear another word about Enron, Exxon, Halliburton or bank ATM fees.

I have conflicted feelings about this. I was tuned in to KFBK, which I have respected for a long time as a meticulously scrupulous advertiser, and still do. I think they turn away less-than-ethical accounts, evidence of which I am bound to never see, therefore of course I can’t prove this. But I have faith, because I know the goods marketed on that station are high quality. A business advertises there, I go to that business, and I’m satisfied. So a friend of KFBK is a friend of mine.

But this unnamed jeweler has been flooding the airwaves with the same advertisement — for years. The script has remained virtually unchanged. As a favor to us guys, who are like fish out of water with this whole jewelry schtick, this grandfatherly type is going to take us aside. While we’re listening to the radio, so our ladies won’t catch us actually asking for directions about things. He’s going to tell us the ins-and-outs, or at least about as much of this as he can in thirty seconds. Just enough knowledge that later on we can pretend we know something! Every straight guy knows, this is invaluable. We tip waiters ten bucks or more for it: Make us look smart; make us look good. Being “all-knowing” is one of those things that actually works. Just a shot at the poontang, Mister Waiter, and here’s your ten-spot.

But when you listen critically to these spots, over and over again, as I normally would not have been doing, you start to notice something: There is no meaningful intention for this commercial to be heard by a guy. There can’t be. It is intended to be heard by the lady. The lady, then, duped into thinking she has intercepted a message intended for the “opposition,” can then drop hints. And as we all know, the hints will continue to be dropped until they produce the desired results, or… well, or nothing. The hints will be dropped until the goods are bought, period.

I won’t pick on any one particular jeweler because there would be little point to doing so. I heard spots from two, or more, and the pattern was clear from this plurality that this perpetual hint-dropping cycle was the goal. “Advice for guys” was never anything more than a Trojan Horse.

A guy wants pussy. A guy who is a jewelry customer, wants to spend a certain amount of money to get guaranteed pussy. This is true of all straight male jewelry customers. For this clientele, there is no — none, zero, zip, zilch, nada, butkus — reason to spend that finite amount of money on anything that detracts from that primary goal. Here is a great example: “Start[ing] a collection.” A collection? Collection? Are you out of your freakin’ gourd? As if the kid’s Bionicle collection isn’t busting your ass already, just as you’re recovering from Gotta-Catchem-All Pokemon?

Here, let me define, for purpose of all gift-giving, what a “collection” is. A collection is a way of guaranteeing there will be no pleasant surprise, in the purest sense of the word “surprise,” while practically guaranteeing there will indeed be a disappointment somewhere along the line before the collection is complete. Jewelry or not: If you “start a collection” for someone as a gift, then you are a fool. A fool.

And in the realm of exchanging material items for sex, every straight guy over twenty-five already knows this.

Jewelers: Your craft is old. My bones may be dust before you ever get yours, assuming you ever do. But if I live to see the day, Jesus Jumpin’ Christ on a Pogo Stick I’m going to enjoy it so freakin’ much. I have never completely trusted you, not since I first heard about that asinine two-month-salary rule.

I have nothing at all against wolves, until they dress up like sheep. I respect your right to earn a profit and to maximize that profit. But your shenanigans do not help guys get laid, they get in the way. Since your world of capitalism is compelled to continue spinning on its axis by the desire of guys to get laid, there is something terribly perverted about this.

Political Pie

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

Political Pie

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about things that had previously made no urgent call on me for additional thought, because I have an eight-year-old son who likes to ask questions. Maybe that’s a good thing. Blundering into intellectual territory, in my patriarchally babbling way, that demands some definition for “red states” and “blue states,” I find myself wondering what things must be like for him. When I was his age there was nothing going on in politics that intruded into an eight-year-old’s domain — with the possible exception of this thing about uppity women and that “Lib” stuff. But regardless of your age, you just can’t get away from that issue about colors of states. It’s everywhere.

I’m terribly concerned about what is happening here. Long ago, before I was ever really interested in politics, I learned that the “spectrum” of liberals and conservatives was a myth. If it wasn’t mythical, then at least it could be said the single dimension fell woefully short of describing why people voted the way they did. And even now, if you exclude moderates from your analysis, attending only to True Believers on the right and on the left, it remains true. What *is* a “Conservative”? Several people willingly call themselves this, and among them, the faction is badly splintered. Some of them harbor no reservations about George W. Bush, or anything he does. At least, none that can’t be tolerated for the sake of a larger ideal. Others within this camp, have some real misgivings about him. These stalwarts insist that our President spends too much money; he lets too many illegals into the country; he does far too much compromising with the Democrats in Congress. And furthermore, anyone who would tolerate such things can’t call himself a “Real Conservative.”

That’s a hot-button issue. Another one is the Harriet Miers nomination to the Supreme Court. At least those two disagreements are supported, on both sides, by hard facts. Then there is the matter of the upcoming — perhaps? — indictments of Scooter Libby and Karl Rove. As of this writing, if you’ve made up your mind on whether Libby, Rove, and other indictees are deserving & worthy of continued support, you’ve made up your mind ahead of the facts. But that doesn’t stop conservatives from disagreeing about it. That’s three issues. There are more, that threaten to splinter and fray this end of the “spectrum”. That isn’t what spectrums do, so this is one reason why I find the single dimension inadequate for our times.

The same thing is happening on the liberal end. It has become a sure-fire tactic, for the red-stater cornered by an unsolicited debate about Iraq at some social gathering, to narrow his attacker’s footprint by coaxing the opposition into describing the anti-war position in more narrow, specific terms. He can say, Let us dispense with “Bush Lied, People Died” for just a second so I can get a good understanding of your position. Are you saying, Mister Liberal, that Saddam Hussein was a beneficial influence on Iraq, or that he was a source of great harm but this problem was entirely out of our bailiwick and we should have left well enough alone? Was it an acceptable exercise to invade Afghanistan and not Iraq, or were both operations morally reprehensible? Whether the “Liberal” chooses A or B, he suffers strange bedfellows who would answer the opposite, en masse. Suddenly, the pro-war defendant is arguing with an antagonist who represents not 55 or 60 percent of the electorate’s wishes, but something more like 12. But that’s something more important than a shrewd cocktail-party tactic; it’s a symptom of liberal dry rot which most liberals, if they can’t cure it, would like to keep under wraps.

This union under bumper-sticker-slogans, thinly masking a complicated division beneath the surface, is the source of the crushing defeat suffered by The Left last fall. Before a list of complaints about the status quo can be energized into a New And Imroved Plan B, several of the complaining factions lending their voices to the complaints must be alienated. They would have to be told they have joined a critical majority in complaining, but are part of an expandable minority in forming an alternate vision. Having formed both the complaint and the vision with their most turgid emotions, liberals have left themselves unable to reconcile with that bittersweet message. Even for the sake of eventual victory.

There is another problem with this one-dimensional, blue-state red-state canard — one that stems from the complex issues involved with time. Today the question of state color is defined along short-term situations. Blue-state people think George Bush is an idiot. Fine and good, but as far as being an issue, the man carries a built-in expiration date. Red-state people have their temporal problems too; they think we should stay in Iraq until the job is done. That’s wonderful, but someday the job will be done. Throughout that day, and beyond, most people who identify with one side or the other are going to want to stick with that side. They’re supposed to have deep-rooted, philosophical reasons for being there, and let’s face it: “I think George Bush is too stupid to eat a pretzel” is not a deep-rooted, philosophical belief.

Nontheless the beliefs are there. If you understand a complete stranger is opposed to abortion, for example, you have better-than-even odds that this person is also opposed to gun control, even though on the surface collecting guns doesn’t appear to have much to do with a woman carrying a pregnancy to term. Evidence of peer pressure? Not at all. When it comes to gut-wrenching policy decisions like these, most people seem to write their decisions in the indelible ink that comes from the well of their personal convictions. Whether that inkwell resides in their hearts or their brains is another question altogether, but based on what I see, even the most docile and compliant among us are unwilling to switch sides to please whoever is present. The “Chameleon” who changes his colors based on the company he keeps, seems to be on the brink of extinction.

I think that’s a good thing.

What are the philosophical questions people ask before they decide whether to become a blue-stater or a red-stater? That is the list that must be made before one can achieve true understanding about what is happening here. And that is no simple task by any means. If you’re going to chart this out into some kind of “pie” diagram — I’ve taken my own crack at this, below (click the thumbnail to view) — you can only entertain two or three questions, but it would appear there are a few more than that. Maybe as many as eight to ten, and that’s after you’ve weeded out the identity-politics questions like “Can a black guy be a racist?” and “Are men scum?”. I’ve identified five, and only five, out of what remains:

1. Sense Of Purpose: Now that we’re here, do we have some kind of moral obligation to do something meaningful, or is it a waste of time & energy to even try?

2. Faith in Authority: In a democratic society, once the commoners have invested governmental authority in the elites, which of these halves labors under the obligation of earning the trust of the other? Those who govern, or those who are governed?

3. Abundance of Life: Does the sanctity of life, in *all* its forms, preclude the worthiness of the individual goals we have formed for ourselves as thinking people?

4. Quality of Life: Is the quality and comfort of our day-to-day existence a critical goal of that existence that precludes all, or most, other goals? (Mutually exclusive from #3).

5. This is more important than the other four. I can’t capture it on the accompanying diagram, so I’ll cover it in another post later.

These are elementary questions, from which more complex positions can possibly be charted with greater precision than the old “red/blue” spectrum would allow. For example, if your answer to Question #1 points to a nihilistic mindset rather than a purposeful one, and you think what little point there is to our existence is more toward making life a more secure venture rather than a higher-quality one, you might be inclined to adopt all kinds of furry animals, and oppose the death penalty. Beasts, murderers and pedophiles, after all, have as much right to eat food and breathe oxygen as the rest of us. And your odds of being a “Blue-Stater” would probably run about 60/40. Conversely, a pure-bred capitalist would be overwhelmingly likely to be a Red-Stater, and answer “No” or “Not Applicable” to Questions #3 and #4. If you think we are driven by a great purpose, and that purpose has to do with improving the quality of our lives and the lives of others, your answer to Question #2 can be almost definitely ascertained: You are suspicious of authority, and believe our leaders should earn the trust of the electorate, rather than the other way around.

They are also very heady questions. Polite company will avoid them, and for good reason: People don’t want to “hang” with other people who would answer these questions in different ways. Even those who endlessly extoll the virtues of “diversity” — when the rubber meets the road, those people are talking about “diversity among those people who would answer Morgan’s four questions exactly the way I would, everyone else can just go pound sand.”

That’s the way people are, I’m afraid. It is our nature. We’re a tribal species.

And that is why we are so contentious today. Our political lines have been drawn based on how we look at life, and what the ultimate purpose of that life really is. It is easy to decide that stuff based on feeling, and difficult to base it on thought. The feelings are hazardous, because they’re not up for debate.

I hate tomatoes. Many a woman has tried to argue with me to make me like them, starting with Mom. They’ve all failed. You can’t argue with a feeling. And that’s the arguing we do today. It has to do with conclusions that are deeply personal, and aren’t going to be changed. Yet our public policy demands acceptance, or refutation, of these personal convictions so they *must* be debated. Perhaps we are doomed to keep yelling at each other, and calling each other big doo-doo-heads, until some of the things in our governmental structure are tucked back into our portfolios of personal preference, where they belong.


Saturday, October 15th, 2005


I’m a little too busy to write one of my endless, rambling essays around this and there isn’t too much more I can add anyway. I’ll let the article speak for itself.

Today’s timing couldn’t have been worse. A preceding segment focused on the incessant rains and ensuing flooding in the northeast. For days now, beautiful, blonde – and one senses highly ambitious – young reporter Michelle Kosinski has been on the scene for Today in New Jersey, working the story. In an apparent effort to draw attention to herself, in yesterday’s segment she turned up in hip waders, standing thigh-deep in the flood waters.

Taking her act one step further, this morning she appeared on a suburban street . . . paddling a canoe. There was one small problem. Just as the segment came on the air, two men waded in front of Kosinki . . . and the water barely covered their shoe tops! That’s right, Kosinski’s canoe was in no more than four to six inches of water!

An embarrassed Kosinski claimed the water was deeper down the street but that her producers didn’t want to let her go there for fear she’d drift away. But Katie and Matt, perhaps peeved by her attempted scene-stealing, couldn’t resist ribbing her.

Matt: “Are these holy men, perhaps walking on top of the water?”

“Gee, is your oar hitting ground, Michelle?”; inquired Katie, as she and Matt dissolved into laughter.

According to the WorldNet Daily article on the same subject, the canoe segment came right before another story about President Bush “staging” a videoconference with some soldiers serving in Iraq. WND’s source was another blog called Newsbusters, which points out some interesting things about Today’s parallel & opposite accusation of President Bush staging his videoconference.

In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.

In the Bush/Iraq segment, Today screened footage indicating that prior to engaging in a video conversation with President Bush, soldiers on the ground in Iraq were given tips by a Department of Defense official.

But the only advice that the official was shown as giving was a suggestion to one solider to “take a little breath” before speaking to the president so he would actually be speaking to him. It was also stated that some of the soldiers practiced their comments so as to appear as articulate as possible. But there was no indication, or even allegation, that the soldiers were coached as to the substance of their comments or in any way instructed what to say.

Just my opinion, but I think we’re in for such a weird and surreal three years here for two reasons. First of all, President Bush is not running, and can not run, for re-election. Second, if you’re going to build entire political platforms on despising one guy who isn’t even running for anything anyway, isn’t it a strange pair of indictments? Started an “illegal and unjust war” that “resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis”…and…staged a phony conference.

Impeach him, he’s a war-criminal, mass-murderer and phony-conference-stager.

These people take themselves absolutely, one hundred percent seriously. Just unbelievable.


Thursday, October 6th, 2005


Karl Rove is testifying before a Grand Jury, with no guarantee he won’t be indicted. Liberals are salivating. Conservatives are cringing.

I’ll see your Karl Rove scandal, and raise you a Sandy Berger scandal. Sandy Berger, the National Security Advisor for the Clinton administration, appeared before a judge on the charge of shredding we-don’t-know-what classified documents during his visit to the National Archives. Whether lucky, or well-connected, or both, he fared well. No pinstripes yet. Just a fine, fifty large. And he was placed on probation.

Then he sped.

Speeding is bad when you’re on probation. At least, going 88 m.p.h. in a 55-mile-an-hour zone is.

Why do we hear so little about what a former National Security Advisor really indisputably did, and so much about what a … what is it Karl Rove does again? Deputy Chief of Staff? What is that, exactly? Is this an office with which we have a great deal of concern from one year to the next? Can you name all the Deputy Chiefs of Staff going back to the Washington administration? How about going back to the Clinton administration?

Why do we hear so much about what this guy might have done? And so little about what Berger really did? Is it because of the word “former” in front of Berger’s title?

Aren’t we supposed to be concerned about the Plame scandal because of national security implications? Are there no national security implications in what Berger shredded? Well, I don’t know the answer to that. We don’t know what he shredded. We’ll never find out for sure. So without that, who is to say if the Berger event is more or less grave than the Rove/Plame event? We just don’t know.

One more thing. I’d just like to know who, all, is really completely in the dark about what classified documents were destroyed. Does this include Sandy Berger himself? Did he shred something and forget what it was, why he shredded it? What happened when he was asked? Did he plead the Fifth? Or does he honestly not know?

If you have answers to this, you’re a better newshound than I am.

Meanwhile…”real” life beckons, so back we go to our normal routine of being told what should concern us, by the elites of journalism. We let them make this critical decision for us…why?

I am Butch

Thursday, October 6th, 2005

I am Butch

What Pulp Fiction Character Are You?

Tired of being underappreciated and manipulated by powerful "others," you fight back. Though possesssing a cold, violent outside, you have a soft, scentimental inside. You love your partner, you cherish family heirlooms, and you want nothing more than to be geniunely happy — but you don’t mind having to kill a couple of nimrods who happen to clutter your path.

Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.

Where Did You Get That Headline?

Tuesday, October 4th, 2005

Where Did You Get That Headline?

This is something that’s always fascinated me about headlines. Now keep this in mind: Conservatives think we have a Mainstream Media (MSM) that is biased to the left. Liberals think the media is biased toward monied interests and corporations, and is overly friendly to the right. And the poor, poor journalists in the middle who are being torn up one side and down the other, are completely innocent in all this. Because it’s just facts. They simply report the facts, and there isn’t much opportunity available to inject personal bias into their jobs even if they wanted to. Which they don’t, you see, because their motives are so pure and they are oh so UN-biased. They never bring their personal feelings to their news desks, heavens no.

So when you’re an editor, and your reporter collects facts about a new study that says young girls are having a whole lot more sex and starting it at an earlier age, how do you word that headline? And if you’re the guy writing the article, how do you write your lead-in? Well as a general rule, you’re supposed to make everything look like the beginning of the end of the world. Kids like vanilla pudding better than chocolate? It’s a harbinger of a massive upswing in racism. Smoking is down? Experts see shortfalls in tobacco tax revenues, some vital social programs cut. Spider population is lower this year? Plague of house flies coming. That’s how it’s done. Bad news sells.

So how do we write our headline about these sluts…

Young women lead the way in tearing down sex taboos: new US survey

Young women are leading the way in tearing down sexual taboos in North America, where teenagers are having more sex at a younger age than their parents and grandparents, a new survey showed.

Freewheeling young women in the United States and Canada first have intercourse at the age of 15, partake more in oral sex than previous generations and are far less prudish, according to a landmark new report by researchers at California’s San Diego State University.

So nobody’s lowering their standards. There’s no tell-tale sign here that kids are bored, perhaps becoming disengaged from doing their schoolwork. And absolutely, nobody’s getting pregnant and kicking off multi-generational dynasties of welfare leaches. It’s “leadership”. The sluts are “leading the way” to something.

I just think it’s interesting because let’s face it, if you were looking for “bad news” in this story, you wouldn’t have to look far. Parents of 13- and 14-year-old girls would be particularly interested in your reporting on this social trend, with a concern for the myriad social issues that await them in the next year or two. And for them that would be a useful story. But no. We’re going to drop our “portending the end of life as we know it” routine this one time.

It’s a brand-new cultural renaissance. Our little whores are leading us to enlightenment.

And the MSM is going to objectively report to us all the wonderful events taking place in this new revolution.

Still They Suffer

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Still They Suffer

I was reading through the newspaper from my old stomping grounds, which is the Seattle Post Intelligencer. I tripped across this editorial from some self-proclaimed liberal guy named Hubert G. Locke, chronicling what he saw as some of the rough treatment being dished out by “conservatives” toward the poor people in New Orleans who had been suffering through the wrath of Hurricane Katrina.

The focal point of his ire was George F. Will, who is the syndicated columnist I’m fond of quoting when people accuse me of using all them big fancy words and junk. This has worked great for me. Someone accuses me of using a four-syllable word in a forty-word sentence, and I direct them to six- and seven-syllable words in the middle of an eighty-word sentence in a George Will column. Works every time. But I digress.

As perplexed as we have collectively been over the last month, to discover grinding poverty is still nestled within our great nation after all we’ve tried to do to banish it — we can solve poverty right now. This year. Hubert G. Locke has shown us how, although he doesn’t realize it.

His angst appears to be coming from a column authored by Will on September 13. I’ll let Locke’s spleen vent itself here.

…the problem of New Orleans, says Will, is to be found in the American liberal’s “regularly recurring rediscoveries of poor people” and, with the supercilious arrogance that only a conservative could muster, he rushes on to note “how many of the victims were women with children but not husbands.”

You know, that’s pretty bad on George Will’s part, isn’t it? You spend half a century trying to get rid of poverty, with nothing to show for it…add on to that, an additional century or two of having poverty all around us, back when we just learned to live with it. And in 2005, you find out through Hurricane Katrina that poverty is still just as bad as it has been before.

And along comes that evil nasty conservative George F. Will — noticing some things about the poverty!

What an outrage!

After all, what persistent problems have I ever solved by noticing things? Nothing! Just bad credit ratings, bad living situations, bad marriages, bad jobs, unreliable cars that routinely emptied my wallet, credit cards issued by predatory lending companies — well, come to think of it, every significant problem I’ve ever had in life. Other than that, noticing things about my problems hasn’t solved a damn thing! Why does George Will think it will work here?

To these displaced and despairing souls, Will offers his aid in the form of three “recondite rules for avoiding poverty: graduate from high school, don’t have a baby until you are married, and don’t marry while you are a teenager.”

Now pay careful attention. Locke, obviously, doesn’t like what George Will has been noticing. He’s going to object to it rather strenuously. Don’t blink at the wrong time — you might miss something important.

Too many conservatives have a penchant for making despicable moral pronouncements when people are suffering or dying. Marie Antoinette’s reputed advice to the poor of Paris — “let them eat cake” — may be apocryphal but it captures the pitiless disdain many conservatives manage to manifest when those outside their circle of good fortune are under discussion. If it is reported that 6,000 people in Africa die every day from AIDS…[blah, blah, blah]

Hey, waitaminnit! It looks like we’re done with George Will’s “recondite rules” — Locke is changing the subject now. I thought he was going to contest what George Will was saying! He isn’t doing this? You mean, as far as Hubert Locke is concerned maybe these are the three rules to avoiding poverty?

He’s not even going to touch it in terms of its accuracy?

Well then Hubert G. Locke, what in the blue fuck is your problem???

Folks, this is why we, the richest nation on earth, have allowed so much water to go over the dam without doing anything to really solve the problem of poverty. It’s people like Hubert G. Locke. A little bit of common sense comes trickling in: Reach real adulthood before marrying, don’t have a baby until then, and get an education. Liberals like Locke see the common sense itself, as an occasion for bashing conservatives.

Would poverty disappear if the advice were followed?

Well, life is seldom that simple. But then again nobody is directly disputing that, are they? Nor are they trying it on for size. And it is true that, while very seldom are the “recondite rules” tried on by anyone deliberately…we’ve got a lot of people who just so happened to follow those simple rules, without any glaring personal agenda involving them. Those people very rarely end up poor. It is exceedlingly rare. So who the hell knows?

Maybe George Will’s rules are just the ticket. We don’t know for sure.

In my lifetime, very seldom have I seen common-sense dictums like this followed by any kind of sincere and reasoned deliberation of “Hmmm…let’s try that.” Instead, what follows is a flamewar. So George Will started a flamewar — er, no he didn’t. Hubert G. Locke, and other pinheads like him, started the flamewar in response to what George Will said. He saw an opening and he took it.

Meanwhile, the poor people stay poor. They screw other poor people, and make still more poor people. Still they suffer.

Here, let’s try this. Just to shake things up a bit. Just follow the advice; see what happens.

Hubert, you want to bash George Will’s “recondite rules” for avoiding poverty? How about just take them seriously. If they’re wrong, that’s the most devastating thing you can do to them: Take them seriously. But if they’re right…

…well, maybe that’s the reason you’d rather get all agitated and pissy than seriously deliberate about what the solution to the problem might be. You don’t want to see conservatives propose a solution, and actually have it pan out. Because in your world, it isn’t really a “problem” having these poor people around doing all this suffering; it’s simply something that has to happen so you can write columns and get more Democrats elected. That’s what it comes down to, isn’t it?

Because I have to believe if you were after anything different, you’d spend a word or two pondering whether George Will has hit on something valuable here, or if the solution to the problem lies somewhere else.

You didn’t do that.

As far as I’m concerned, everybody else can reach their own conclusions. I’ve reached mine.

Hating the French II

Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Hating the French II

A month ago I noted that French fishermen had been busted using puppies and kitties as bait to go shark fishing. We would hear about that all day and all night, no doubt, if Americans were caught doing something even remotely similar.

I have nothing new to add, except British tabloid The Sun is covering the same story and has obtained a pretty picture.

The blog that nobody reads cites tabloids as sources now? Well, yeah…it’s a story already covered by another source. And golly, you know if that’s a photoshop job, it’s a damn good one.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Saturday, October 1st, 2005

Hydrogen Peroxide

Howard Fineman wrote an article for Newsweek that appeared Friday on the MSNBC web site. It is the equivalent of Hydrogen Peroxide. As any parent or outdoorsman knows, the inexpensive disinfectant is useful secondarily as a diagnostic tool. Little-to-no white foam, and you don’t have a problem. A whole lot of frothing, and you do.

Judging by the frothy reception meeting the Fineman column, it’s time for Democrats to amputate something. As a member of the party he’s discussing, you don’t get ants-in-the-pants about something like this if there isn’t a large grain of truth to it.

With George W. Bush�s presidency mired in the muck of hurricanes and doubts about the war, you�d think Democrats would be bursting with energy, eagerly expecting to regain power. But, in a roomful of well-connected Democrats the other night, I was struck by how gloomy they were. They can�t stand Bush, but didn�t have much faith in their own party�s prospects.

Evan Sayet, who used to be a Communications Director for President Bush, has written an open letter to Fineman about this. It’s worth reading because Fineman’s a MSM (mainstream media) guy, and Sayet is what you could call a “partisan hack”; Fineman can say what is so, but he has a position to lose if he says why it is so. Sayet may have an agenda, but that agenda doesn’t entirely discount the weight of his words:

The Democrats are demoralized because they recognize that the American people reject their basic philosophy of confiscation of income and its redistribution by leftists. And the public rejects more and more government regulations such as warning labels on coffee that it might be hot and the ceding of our sovereignty to foreign bodies like the United Nations and France. Americans don�t want to have to pass �global tests� when the proctors are the Sudan, Germany, and Syria.

Most of this letter is nothing more than the recitation of Republican talking points. A lot of it has already been heard, almost verbatim, on Rush Limbaugh’s program.

But that doesn’t make it wrong.

And it means something, that when you show the Fineman piece or the Sayet letter to a die-hard leftist, you get frothing, frothing and more frothing. The harder-left the guy is, the more frothing you get. Grrrrr!!!

The year I cast my first vote, that whole thing about taxing “the wealthy” gave me a pretty bad case of indigestion. I was fortunate to live in a bed-and-breakfast community that was just coming of age as a burgeoning metropolitan area, so at a young and tender age I got to see homeless people up close. It was hard to work downtown for a single day, without being panhandled. I saw a lot of them. Far more than the average spoiled trust-fund liberal. They weren’t “down on their luck” at all; they were practicing a livelihood.

I couldn’t get out early enough to re-elect Ronald Reagan.

I was making half of minimum wage.

It would be eight years before I gave a rat’s rear end about Democrats and Republicans.

This is not iron-clad proof that Sayet is correct, I guess. But it does support what he says. One thing that has stayed constant for the better part of a century, is that elections are decided by people who don’t care which party wins. That’s who we’re talking about when we use words like “mainstream.” In 1984, that was me. Since seeing Bill Clinton for the first time and realizing the awful things that would happen if that man ever became President, I’m not that anymore. But once upon a time, I was.

And I think it’s fair to say that, while “mainstream” people have more misgivings than I do about invading Iraq, they also think George Bush is a decent, trustworthy, intelligent man. I think they tune out when someone impugns the President’s personal character, or when they call him stupid.

And at this point, every argument the Democrats can make has to do with President Bush either wanting to kill black people, or being too much of a dumbass to eat a bag of pretzels, or something roughly equivalent to one of those. If that’s the intro to your thesis, it really doesn’t matter much what comes after — for the most part you’ve lost your audience. If there wasn’t some truth to that, the President’s name wouldn’t be Bush.