Archive for December, 2006

The Jobs Nobody Wants

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Via Bullwinkle Blog, we learn of the latest hole to be blown in the patently absurd assertion that illegal aliens are needed to do the jobs Americans will not do.

That’s going to go down in history as our current President’s version of “read my lips,” by the way. Who told him it would be a swell idea to say that? If it was a speechwriter, I hope that speechwriter is in a different line of work by now. If it was him, I’d say the last elections handed him just about the level of embarrassment he deserves.

On Sandy Pants

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Okay, here we go again. Sandy Berger, who was President Clinton’s National Security Adviser, lifted confidential documents from the National Archives by sticking them in his underwear and socks. Some of these he destroyed. We will probably never know what these were. At one time he was offering some half-assed defense that he did the whole thing by mistake, like, he was unaware there were papers being jammed in his boxers. Well, that clearly doesn’t fly, so the best guess is he was throwing out a bunch of bullshit to get people to stop asking questions.

He got a tap on the wrist. A hundred hours community service and a $50,000 fine. YOU…most assuredly, would have gotten far worse for doing the same thing.

Now let’s just say someone is reading this who actually has an attention span. Loves Bush hates Clinton…loves Clinton hates Bush…neo-con…neo-Nazi…neo-communist…greenie…whatever. But can actually stay tuned in to a train of thought and come to a conclusion about it with some measure of objectivity. And this person is mulling over the new information that came out, about Sandy Berger and the construction trailer (H/T: Boortz). Yeah, Sandy Berger used a construction trailer to hide the document(s), checking to make sure nobody was watching him stick it under there — coming back for it later. Kinda takes the wind out of the sails of that “oops I did it again” argument doesn’t it? Okay…what to make of this. Looks like Sandy was hiding something. Oh yeah, can’t prove it, but nothing else explains things. No reason whatsoever to suppose otherwise.

How do you reconcile this with the fairy tale we were just told, about the Republican culture of corruption and how the Democrats are going to come riding in to make everything right? The best information we can get, is that Democrats make everything right by not getting caught. And when they’re caught, this media, that ol’ “lapdog of the Bush Administration” media, will do their part to make the problem go away as fast as possible.

You doubt me? Try this…just try it. Let’s say it was Condi who did the same thing. How many times a day would we be hearing about this? She’s going in, shoving documents in her suit jacket and down her skirt — doesn’t check the documents out, just smuggles ’em out. And then shreds some. Hides others in construction trailers. Years down the line, we have no clue what she destroyed, and no way to find out.

Would that just kind of quietly go away? Really?

On The Duke Hoax

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Now that the chips are (mostly) down on this story, it’s getting a little difficult to make the prosecutor look good; or, for that matter, like something other than the very essence of evil. If I’m keeping track accurately, we are WAY past the point of asking the fellow if he has anything to say for himself. We’re past the point of seriously considering any protest of his own innocence based on ignorance, assuming he was inclined to offer such a defense in the first place. The guy knew what he was doing. He abused his position and committed an attack on justice for political gain.

How come he isn’t already breaking rocks and making license plates?

Dr. Sowell opens a can of whupass.

After all this time, it finally came out in court last week that the DNA samples collected from the underwear and private parts of the alleged victim contained DNA from other men — but none from the Duke lacrosse players who were accused of raping her.

The head of the DNA testing laboratory testified in court under oath that both he and [District Attorney Michael] Nifong knew this and kept it secret.

Thing I Know #161. Justice depends completely on truth; anarchy, not so much.

So You Hate Blogs, Do You III

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

I can see the blog-hater is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. Much to the blog-haters’ chagrin, the same could be said of the blog itself; I suppose every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And so we have two activities now which were mostly unknown to us less than a decade ago. Blogging, and hating those who do it.

I don’t need to have blogging explained to me, since I’m one of those who do it. The blog-haters are more of an enigma. I have never understood them. I see them on par with those who hate tapioca pudding…and say so while eating it. Um, no, something more strange than that. Saying you hate tapioca pudding, while eating tapioca pudding, demanding seconds when the dish is empty, and then claiming someone is force-feeding it to you.

No, wait. That doesn’t quite capture it. Doing all of the above…while following people around, spoon in hand, as they try to get away from you, because you’re tedious, because you’re spraying them with tapioca pudding spittle, or both — to continue with your screed about how much you hate tapioca pudding. Capturing that captive audience, against their will, to drone on about you yourself being a captive audience to something else, when you’re really not. It’s hypocrisy, but not really — rather an insult to hypocrites to call the blog-haters hypocrites. Hypocrites are supposed to point out traits others have, that they themselves share. Blog-haters point out traits in blogs, that the blogs do not have, that they themselves do have: The impulse to make themselves heard and read by those who have no wish to partake. It’s a form of psychological projection.

There is something anti-technology about the blog-hater. Blogs, I would hasten to add, generally have very little to do with technology in substance, but are tightly connected in spirit. Blanket statements fit the blog world rather poorly, but one thing a lot of the blogs have in common is a sense of purpose that has to do with noticing things. A post may simply provide a link to something else, either a news story or another blog, and the writing that surrounds the link will be something of the flavor of “get a load of this!” It may be critical or it may be supportive, but the common theme is to preserve the link for posterity along with the author’s sentiments about it. On a more primitive level, maybe the link will be entirely absent and the post will be a simple “Andy Rooney” type essay, along the lines of “D’jever notice?” Like…”D’jever notice that no matter what I enter in Google, the results always have to do with porn?”

I can’t prove it, but I think it’s a fair statement that we don’t have any technology that got started any other way. Cell phones, computers, cars, handrails, fire…some guy noticed something. The blog-haters may be willing to concede the point, or they may not; it doesn’t matter. This is the essence of making life better.

But that’s not really the point I want to make. The point I want to make, is that it’s harmless. And furthermore, I can’t help noticing — like the tapioca pudding, the noticing-of-things does nothing to irritate people, unless they choose to make it that way. And that’s where my special-interest lies. The practical exercise of good manners, I have found, all boils down to one cardinal rule: Don’t be a jerk. With that in mind, I’ve been learning what I can about people who hate blogs. They’re irritated by something I do, after all, and I have no wish to go out of my way to irritate people. The paramount question at hand, therefore, comes down to this: Is there a way to avoid irritating them?

And I’ve come to the conclusion that there really isn’t. Blogging or not.

This is partly just common sense. The guy who eats tapioca pudding even though he says he hates it, has a desire to be “happy” the same way Hillary Clinton might desire a loyal spouse: The desire portrayed is a complete falsehood, or else it is ineffectual because it is directly contradicted by something hidden and stronger. Which one of those is the truth, nobody really cares. That question is irrelevant. And by that, I mean completely.

So people who hate blogs, whatever they pretend to be, are not people who desire things to be done according to their articulated wishes. They can easily have what they say they want.

Now, this George F. Will character — you’ve heard of him, right? — he’s a strange duck. On ABC’s This Week, Will commented that blogging is “about narcissism”:

So much of what is done on the web is people getting on there and writing their diaries as though everyone ought to care about everyone’s inner turmoils. I mean, it’s extraordinary.

It would be easier to make sense of this, if George Will wasn’t appearing on This Week to say it. Sunday morning “Having Coffee With…” shows like this, offer a great benefit to lots of people — the folks who watch them, being the very last among those. They’re kind of like multi-level marketing: Those already participating are the real beneficiaries, and those invited to participate, are only being led to believe they can benefit. Sunday-morning news shows are all about self-promotion, long before they are ever about news. Here’s George Will, appearing on such a show, bellyaching away about self-promotion on the innernets without a hint of irony.

Out of fairness to him, we should keep in mind what he did not say. He didn’t extend this criticism to all blogs, and it appears he has a specific target in mind for what he’s describing. Touchy-feely blogs, I gather. “Today my Mom made me clean my room. What a drag!” But even with that kept in mind, and extending to Will the benefit of any possible doubt, his criticism is just silly. What he’s criticizing, is the keeping of a diary. Is he criticizing all diaries that have ever been kept? Or is he criticizing the practice of keeping it online instead of in a drawer? Silly either way.

But it’s the lack of self-awareness, the lack of irony, that really makes his comment fascinating. And this is the one attribute Will shares with other blog-haters. As I become more and more aware of this rapidly-spreading counter-culture and review the self-promoting work of those who hate blogs, I’m impressed by how much I can read without gathering so much as a glimmber of recognition that these people are doing the very thing they claim to hate — and going way, way out of their way to get ‘er done. Nearly all of them, are completely lacking in this sense of irony.

This guy over here does have some sense of irony. I mean, if you are so generous as to count desperate denial tactics (see Appendix B) as “a sense of irony.”

There’s one other thing I notice about people who hate blogs: The sense of urgency is palpable. They desperately want bloggers to stop blogging, for some reason. If they could bring blogging to an end this coming Monday, that would be good, but I get the sense if it were to stop on Saturday that would be even better. It’s time-sensitive, and that’s a little weird. That’s not the way I hate country music, baggy pants, Alyssa Milano’s short hair, and rodent-sized dogs. Those are personal habits other people have, that don’t directly impact me; habits that bely differences between their personalities and tastes, and my own. I don’t relate to them, but I can live amongst them for as long as I’m given cause to do so, without cost. This is not the way blog-haters hate blogs. Blog-haters hate blogs about the same way I hate extra-long pretentious coffee orders at Starbuck’s from someone in line in front of me. Or people greeting me with “Guten Morgen Morgan” like it’s the first time in forty years I’ve heard that. Or fellow motorists talking on clamshell-type cell phones pressed up against their left ears.

Those are “If I never see it again, it’ll be too soon” type irritants — active irritants. Blog-haters, with surprising uniformity, place blogs in this category. I don’t know why they do that, but they do.

What to do with that information, I’m really not sure. Somehow, we should find a way to get these people to stop reading blogs. I don’t know how to do that. The ones who present themselves to me, aren’t rational people. In my case, they target some guy who calls his blog “The Blog That Nobody Reads,” and accuse me of forcing people to read it. Now, that’s just nuts.

Update 12/21/06: I see the Sacramento Bee is eyeballing this post for possible inclusion in the Sunday paper, so I’ve cleaned up the language. I’m such a potty-mouth.

By sheer coincidence, the Assistant Editorial Features Editor at the Wall Street Journal has thrown in his own two cents on why bloggers get way more attention than they deserve. You can read it here. His argument comes down to this: an “apples and oranges” comparison. He’s in great company here. What he’s saying, if I can paraphrase, is that most blogs are full of substandard, lackluster, stupid crap, and they don’t put an impressive amount of effort into trying to be anything but that. “We rarely encounter sustained or systematic blog thought,” says he. “Instead, panics and manias; endless rehearsings of arguments put forward elsewhere; and a tendency to substitute ideology for cognition.” And I agree with that.

But his conclusion is wrong because 1) blogs have offered us a substantial benefit that has very little to do with the “average” blog. I think even the most rabid blog-basher would admit that to round up, say, a million blog postings selected at random, sort them by quality of thinking, grammar, whatever passes for “social responsibility” etc. etc. etc. and then scoop up #500,001, would be a very unfair measurement of how the “blogosphere” as a whole can benefit those who peruse it. Nor would the most exuberant blog-defender think, for even a second, of using such a test to support his defense of blogs. Seen as one large blog-pile, blogs correlate to an enormous mountain of dirt clods and donkey doots, that on any given day might have a gold nugget or two. So you see, what the mean or median blog does, has not a thing to do with anything. It’s the consumer’s chosen method of combing through that hill that is far more meaningful.

That’s one thing. And 2) …each statement in the paragraph above, applies in substance as well as in form, to newspapers. Not only to those, but to all other vehicles we have for educating ourselves about current events. No clear-headed observer, regardless of their biases, would assert anything different. Nine newspapers run crap…one newspaper runs something good…you wouldn’t bash the printed media industry as a whole for the crap, even if there happens to be so much more of it. How come that’s a fair test for blogs? That’s where the apples-and-oranges comes in.

And then there’s more criticism for Mr. Rago’s editorial that, while irrelevant as a test of his thesis and perhaps a little unfair, nevertheless leaves behind a big ol’ shiner on the face of his argument just because of his selected complaints. Simply put, when you make a point of bashing someone for their literary qualities and journalistic standards, or lack thereof…you should get your punctuation right. You really should, otherwise it does a lot of damage to the point you’re trying to make. You’re left back at the apples-and-oranges thing, insisting that tests and standards be applied to the objects of your criticism, while you yourself are somehow allowed to escape them. Not very convincing.

More on the snotty, pretentious blogger here; just in time for the season, it’s The Blog Before Christmas.

‘Twas the blog before Christmas, and here in my house,
I was tapping my keyboard, and clicking my mouse.
My ads were all placed on my pages with care,
In hopes that my visitors would click on them there.
My husband was pouting alone in our bed,
While visions of a blogless wife danced in his head.
But at my computer, with a cup of French Roast,
I’d just begun writing another blog post…

Uphold First Amendment Or Resign

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Some damn dirty foreigner is telling our politcians what to do, and to resign if they don’t do what he says. Well, this time, I’m on the damn dirty foreigner’s side. And it’s not because I agree with the damn dirty foreigner’s position, which I do. It’s because the damn dirty foreigner didn’t bring up the matter of U.S. politicians doing what damn dirty foreigners say. The objects of his excoriation, on the other hand, are the ones who brought it up. Yeah that’s right. They started it, and he finished it.

Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, has sent an open letter to Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Olympia Snowe, which says in part…

It is inappropriate for elected Senators such as yourselves to suggest that any person should refrain from exercising that right [to free speech], as you have done in your letter of October 27 to the CEO of ExxonMobil. That great corporation has exercised its right of free speech – and with good reason – in openly providing support for scientists and groups that dare to question how much the increased concentration of CO2 in the air may warm the world. You must honour the Constitution, withdraw your letter and apologize to ExxonMobil, or resign as Senators.

You defy every tenet of democracy when you invite ExxonMobil to deny itself the right to provide information to “senior elected and appointed government officials” who disagree with your opinion. You are elected officials yourselves. If you do not believe in the right of persons within the United States to exercise their fundamental right under the world’s greatest Constitution to petition their elected representatives for the redress of their grievances, then you have no place on Capitol Hill. You must go.

No question about it, Lord Monckton is a “Must-Tard.” Which is this blog’s terminology for persons who seem incapable of stating their position on anything, without using words like “must,” “ought,” “should,” “gotta.” In other words, folks who want short-circuit the cogitative process, by leap-frogging forward to the thing that needs to be done. Often, because they can’t state, to others or to themselves, how and why they think it should be done. And usually, such persons are from Europe.

But Lord Monckton is a must-tard who is not only able to articulate why it is the thing must be done…but he makes a water-tight case. Upholding the Constitution, after all, is a duty sworn by all members of Congress when they begin or renew their services. Surely it makes very little sense, to have a Congress curtailed from prohibiting speech, but able to bully whoever it wants when it comes to funding certain positions.

What was the original letter sent by the Senators to the CEO of Exxon-Mobil? James Taranto wrote it up recently; the full text is here. Excerpt below:

We are convinced that ExxonMobil’s longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.

Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the “deniers.” Likewise, we look to you to guide ExxonMobil to capitalize on its significant resources and prominent industry position to assist this country in taking its appropriate leadership role in promoting the technological innovation necessary to address climate change and in fashioning a truly global solution to what is undeniably a global problem.

And I believe that explains my earlier comments. Where in tarnation does Lord Monckton get off telling us what to do? Where, indeed. The Senators started it; he finished it. From out of a relative vaccuum, emerged this dictum that it is a priority of paramount importance, or of relatively high importance, that research by private interests in the United States, should only be carried out if the damn dirty foreigners would approve of it.

And along comes a damn dirty foreigner who disagrees with the dictum. Maybe the dictum is still right; maybe the damn dirty foreigner is wrong; but if that is the case, an unworkable contradiction has been knotted together, and it seems to possess a certain Gordian quality to it such that it can only be undone by sword. We’re beholden to the damn dirty foreigners, only when the damn dirty foreigners agree we’re beholden to them, but we should ignore what the damn dirty foreigners have to say when they remind us of our own Constitution? How in the world would that work?

I hate to say it, but the Constitution is a decidedly second priority here. No, I really think so. The Constitution is a bunch of rules that tell us what we should and should not do. Science, on the other hand, is what we know — and, like the Constitution, science has its neck stretched across a chopping block as well. Look what you’ve got going on here; just look at it. We have two members of our upper legislative house releasing an open letter. The letter says hey — scientists are to agree with us, or else they are not to be funded. In fact, they aren’t scientists at all, they are “a small cadre of global climate change skeptics.”

Now, elsewhere, as water pipes freeze and then as sidewalks get so hot you can fry bacon on ’em…all around the year…we’re going to hear from several outlets “scientists are (more or less) unanimous about the man-made influences on global climate change.” Unanimous means all. All the scientists agree — is that before, or after, the inquisition has come along to silence the “small cadre”?

Rockefeller and Snowe make reference to an “echo chamber” of skepticism, and to a “climate change denial confederacy.” There is a campaign to muscle, to bully, to intimidate, to coerce, to silence anybody who doesn’t toe the line on global warming, especially if they’re scientists. We know this campaign exists. We know it for a fact. Rockefeller and Snowe, are just the ones who’ve had the balls to make their threats public, under the auspices of enabling “the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.”

Those two are open with their threats. God only knows how many thugs are not.

Is this what we’re supposed to call “science”? It isn’t what I call science.

Movie Scenes I Really Hate

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

I may be entirely alone in all this. I don’t care. But, come to think of it, if you’re in the movie business and have something to say about this stuff, you should care. The older I get — the more irritated I get by these things. And I have to confess I’ve noticed it affects the decisions I make about movies. Not really consciously. I start to take mental notes about who made what, how much I enjoyed it, and what they’re making next time.

So think about skipping these, maybe?

1. The protagonist sits down in front of a personal computer that doesn’t belong to him, and tries to guess the password. I don’t care how. I don’t care if he succeeds or not. It’s just a dumb scene to put in. Actually, if you want to get realistic about it, you should have him fish around for some hidden post-it notes, maybe trip across the password scribbled in felt pen. I’d be fine with that. Never seen anything like it.

2. Where you’re supposed to pick out the bad guy really easily because…
a. He’s over 45 when nobody else is over 25
b. He speaks with a southern accent
c. He wears suits, with neckties tightened all the way to the collar, at inappropriate times — like, for example, late at night
d. He’s an intellectual
e. He speaks with an English accent
f. He has a really, really, really cool house and/or home-office and/or fortress-of-solitude

3. When a healthy person talks to a person in a coma, and muses out loud about whether people in comas can hear what’s going on around them (complicated personal story here, you shouldn’t ask).

4. Where the heroine says some kind of variant of this line, and it’s supposed to be like something original: “I’m going with you!” Hero tries to talk her out of it; fails; it turns out to be a bad idea.

5. Where the President of the United States does something that makes you wonder why the REAL President doesn’t do the same thing; when, in fact, if the real President were to do such a thing, we would have separation-of–powers scandals from here to Tripoli and back again. Like, drawing lots to see who gets to live in a cave when a meteor hits. Directing the government to end poverty and make sure everyone has a job. Stupid bullshit like that.

6. When three- and four-star generals have full heads of hair and, “generally,” look a lot more like Hollywood actors pretending to be generals, than real generals. Something about that just gets under my skin.

7. When two guys are fighting over the same woman…and, because they both have facials, haircuts, beard-trimming patterns, manicures, pancake-makeup jobs that are oh so “chique,” you can’t tell the motherfuckers apart from each other. Hey, you’ve got the same woman screwing both of these guys. First this one, then that one. The scenes are darkly-lit, assholes. Problem!

8. When a “good guy” — not necessarily the hero of the adventures, but someone who’s already been defined as a leading character — yells at some nameless faceless bystanders to “Call 911!” Um…if everybody who is known to us on a first-name basis is a kick-ass action hero…what’s the point??

9. This is the opposite of #8. When the kick-ass action hero is incredibly suave and handsome — but doesn’t know dick about computers. The guy who knows something about computers, is dateless, ugly, comical, stupid in non-computer areas, and you get the idea he smells like ass. I’ve noticed this is a guy thing. Women are allowed to be computer savvy and sexy, for reasons I’m not sure I entirely understand. Guys have to pick.

10. When a “sidekick” makes a reference to alimentary dysfunction in his pants due to intolerable adrenaline rush. If we’re paying $10 a head plus over-inflated prices for popcorn and soda, and it’s going toward comedy one-liners — this doesn’t quite cut it.

11. (Does not include James Bond movies) Where the villain is tricked into describing his nefarious plan in exquisite detail because he believes his selected audience is about to come to an inglorious end, which subsequent events reveal not to be the case at all. If this is not a 007 installment, it’s a case of copyright infringement. If it is…well, I get a little ticked if the scene is not there. Can’t have a Bond movie without the bad guy revealing his plans. It’s just not right.

12. The “dad” is dysfunctional, boring, clumsy, comedic, stupid, uncoordinated, disorganized, oblivious to his surroundings, disruptive to the natural/social activities of his spouse/spawn, overly competitive, overly zealous, overly opinionated, unreliable…did I already mention stupid? IT HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE BEFORE. If your stupid new-movie relies on this too much, maybe it was a mistake to green-light it. You make a mistake, and don’t admit it, you’ve made two mistakes.

13. The point is made on a philosophical level — that dissent is not necessarily unpatriotic. **BARF** Has any point been made on a philosophical level, and re-made, and re-made again, more often than this?

14. When the good guy commandeers a vehicle using police power, or by turning the conveniently left-behind key in the ignition (especially in a city where you would never, ever do this, like in LA).

15. When an ugly girl is made-over into a hot chick.

16. When people are punched or kicked in the face REPEATEDLY and keep fighting with no visible damage.

17. Opposite of #16. When a well-placed karate chop between the shoulder blades knocks an unsuspecting victim unconscious.

18. When the hero figures out the only way he can protect some priceless artifact or protected secret, is to steal it.

19. When the pain-in-the-ass maverick, or convicted felon, is recruited for something only he can do…and that something turns out to be just a lot of fighting. That’s just stupid.

20. Any trash-talkin’ between the good guy and the bad guy that includes the line, “I don’t think so.” By either one of them. It comes off like the little sticky-note with “substitute this with a decent line when you get a chance” fell out of the script.

Bonaduce Owns Conner

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

You have got to see this.

I’ll let you know ahead of time, that toward the end of the clip there is a disagreement about whether something may have violated constitutional provisions for freedom of speech. With that in mind, I’ve included the First Amendment as a handy reference, with the relevant portion highlighted.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Update 12-18-06: I did not include the FARK link to the above, because it was red-lit. That means the admins at FARK deemed it unworthy of displaying on the website’s big scroll to the general public. You can still see the clip, since it’s not hosted at FARK, but to see the FARK comments on it you have to have a TOTALFARK membership. I thought I should go ahead and bookmark those comments because, at 97 and counting, they’re becoming somewhat priceless. The FARK crowd is on average a couple of notches more toward reasonable than the DailyKOS crowd — probably many orders of magnitude more creative and talented, but critical thinking and cool-headed skepticism isn’t really their bag. Most of them are in college; a big chunk among those, I’m gathering, are the education-for-life types. Let’s just say that, while there are a lot of folks like me cheering for Bonaduce, on balance he’s getting a chilly reception there. Always fun reading, you just need your membership to see it. You can get that here.

Whiskey…Tango…Foxtrot… X

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

Head Up AssWhat do commentators at The Daily Kos do for a living? I mean, these aren’t people making real decisions, are they? Are they? Like, who gets promoted, who has to make photocopies until he quits, how much Nutra-Sweet to pump into a big vat of cola syrup, whether this-or-that pipeline of sewage has already been treated or not.

Not sure what the scientific term is for what we’re seeing here. It’s not idiocy, quite so much as a frighteningly deficient cognitive ability, maybe brewed in with a narcissistic need for attention and perhaps a dash of psychological projection. Thanks to Trip at Webloggin, we come to learn that the results sometimes are…well, take a look.

While some people are rightly concerned for Senator Tim Johnson’s health there are many on the left who are more concerned with maintaining that slim majority – so much so that they have veered down the predictable path of conspiracies behind the “sudden illness”.

well, ok, I will say it – (4+ / 1-)

my, how convenient for the repubs, just like wellstone’s plane crash.

you know what I am hinting at here…

I never take these sorts of things at mere face value; the stakes are just too high.

bush and cheney are criminals; just like desperate cornered mafiosi, bush and cheney will do anything to protect themselves, and I do mean anything.

yeah, I think that wellstone was murdered.

The one entry I cited is just the tip of the donkey’s tail. Go have a look at the rest. I’ll wait.

Now admittedly, I don’t know for a fact that these people somehow got dressed in the morning and started walking around outside. Maybe not. But I know from experience, that DailyKOS does not clean up grammar/punctuation/spelling, so these writers are able to put together sentences that make some sense…even if the ideas hanging from those sentences, do not.

How do you do that, or anything else, while you’re looking at life this way?

Yikes! II

Sunday, December 17th, 2006

From my old stomping grounds in Kirkland, WA:

For years, the neighbors have been complaining that Thomas H. Stone, 67, was feeding rats at his suburban Seattle home. They apparently won’t have to worry about that anymore…

C’mon, are you sure you really wanna click this?

Alternative “Imagine” Lyrics

Friday, December 15th, 2006

If you don’t already know about this, Neal Boortz has been soliciting ideas for new lyrics to John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

I can get behind this idea a hundred percent. In America, you can say whatever you want without fear of oppression from the government as a result of what you said — the “fire in a crowded theater” rule notwithstanding. Now this does not, I repeat NOT, mean that America has a set of principles galvanized against treacherous thoughts from within. Quite to the contrary, America is like a fragile flower that needs to be nourished and watered, constantly, by the culture embraced by the people who live here. It can’t be transplanted to just any ol’ “soil” and be expected to bloom. Nobody in the know, ever said or implied such a thing. America, before it is a country, is a set of values — and without those values, it is sure to come to an end.

And if you love America, you can’t love the original lyrics to “Imagine.” Not if you’ve really thought your cunning plan through. Go on, look up the original lyrics. That just isn’t the way things work here.

So have a look at the revisions, and I suggest if you come up with some more you go ahead and let Neal know. You don’t have to mention The Blog That Nobody Reads, but if you’ve got some good work I’d certainly like to be copied on it in case it doesn’t make the cut over there.

Eighty Percent?

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Some egghead has estimated that eighty percent of us are racists.

University of Connecticut professor Jack Dovidio, who has researched racism for more than 30 years, estimates up to 80 percent of white Americans have racist feelings they may not even recognize.

“We’ve reached a point that racism is like a virus that has mutated into a new form that we don’t recognize,” Dovidio said.

He added that 21st-century racism is different from that of the past. “Contemporary racism is not conscious, and it is not accompanied by dislike, so it gets expressed in indirect, subtle ways,” he said.

I don’t have any questions for the egghead; I have questions for the other twenty percent. Give me five minutes of Q&A with each of them and I’ll jack that eighty percent figure all the way to the top. Then give me the same five minutes with people who aren’t white, I’ll demonstrate they could be called “racists” too.

It’s all in how you define the R word. We don’t do it; we don’t define it. Which is odd, considering that the meaning of the word is all-important to the importance of the article and everything in it. A definition, therefore, is all-important. Do you go by the dictionary definition of the word? The dictionary is confused. The dictionary says racism is “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.” Verticality must therefore be involved. But wait! The dictionary also says racism is “discrimination or prejudice based on race.” Discrimination OR prejudice…not AND. Discrimination, in turn, is “to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately: to discriminate between things. Okee dokee — no verticality involved. Simply observing, and reacting to, the difference in races makes you a racist. In fact the reaction isn’t necessary. If you aren’t color-blind you are a racist, or at least you could be.

Thing I Know #165 is “A word has a definition not when you can look it up in a dictionary, but when there is widespread agreement about what it means. There is no definition for the word ‘racist.'” There is NO definition. We don’t agree about what that word means. We don’t even agree enough about what it means, to use it in conversation — which, I would point out, we do all the time. Try this. Just try it…find someone who has disagreed with you, sometime in the last five years, on an issue involving race. Just ask them to define racism for you. You will be shocked at the answer. Shocked. You may even find out you don’t disagree on the issue like you thought you did, or at least, your disagreement is legitimately rooted in differences in your backgrounds. And yet seldom does anyone take the time to define the word.

Here’s a great question for a non-racist. Let’s say Michael Richards apologized for that silly outburst thing. Again. You’re at home watching the boob-tube, and Michael Richards made yet another apology for his outburst, this one somehow more fascinating than the other apologies. You go to work and you want to talk about the apology with someone. Or…you don’t care, but when you go get some coffee there are people in the breakroom talking about the latest apology. And you happen to have an opinion about it yourself. You think something needs to be pointed out and you don’t see it being pointed out, so you want to share it.

Are you going to select the points you want to make based on who is within earshot? Maybe modify it in some way, re-word it somewhat, show some “good judgment” about what to leave unsaid?

Would you feel uncomfortable if you made your comments in front of a monochromatic group of people — whatever that one color may be — and you turned around, and noticed a person of different color was listening in? Would you be wondering, perhaps, how long he had been listening?

Racist. You’re changing your behavior based on the skin color of those around you. Such a person would have to qualify for the definitions, above, at least as solidly as anyone else. And by the way, anyone answering “no” to the above is a liar.

Or, a dick. I mean, think about it. You’ve got something to say, and common sense would tell you that because of the color of someone’s skin, maybe the things you have to say would be viewed in a different context. Maybe, because of a person’s background and some things they experienced that other people did not experience, some of the things you have to say could be construed as hurtful. People of different backgrounds, after all, don’t look at things the same way. You don’t care? You’re going to, for the sake of being color-blind, just go ahead and say what you’ve got to say even thought it might make someone feel bad? That’s being a dick.

So you see this bizarre dichotomy we’ve got going on. We’re not supposed to discriminate — which, over the years, has come to have nothing at all to do with depriving people of opportunity. It has more to do with simply noticing differences and reacting to them. But then we’re supposed to be sensitive. In fact if you’re insensitive, we’ve come to agree, you should realize the limits of your existence fairly low to the ground. Positions of authority should be cleansed of “insensitive” people.

So don’t discriminate. But be sensitive. Be sensitive. Don’t discriminate.

Those are polar opposites. You can’t do both.

And so, the one thing you can do that shows the most common sense, is to act like “management.” Just stay out of it. Have no opinion.

And that may be the most racist thing you can do. Without a doubt, that kind of behavior has contributed to the friction that’s been going on through the years. We’re supposed to have a problem; we’re supposed to work on solving it; we aren’t allowed to even think about it. How much potential can possibly exist for solving any problem at all?

I wanna be an egghead who studies racism, I think. Looks like some great job security. Everyone’s supposed to be concerned about it, and nobody has any documented standards or guidelines about what it is exactly…nor is anyone allowed to jot any down. That would be — you-know-what.

No really, it would. A lot of people define “racism” as “failure to support the political movements I think should be supported.” And to actually define it in writing, in any way at all, would be to define a goal. If you define a goal, you can either reach it, or create a circumstance where it has to be re-defined in order to be reached. You reach the goal of getting rid of “racism,” in whatever way you define it, and the race struggle stops…and a lot of people don’t want the struggle to stop. Too many people have their careers tied to it. It’s not that they want racism to hang around forever — they want the struggle to hang around forever.

So the word remains undefined. As, I would argue, no other word remains similarly undefined. Nobody knows what this word means, and nobody’s going to sit down and create a concrete definition for it. Yet here we are reading articles about such-and-such-percent of us believe in this thing nobody wants to define. Go figure.

Audio Enrichment

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Fellow blogger Rick at Brutally Honest, with his wife, has just launched Audio Enrichment. I’m gonna check it out, because man alive, every time I think I’ve worked up the patience to deal with these stupid ass-clowns on the California freeways and back-roads, in the space of an hour that patience is spent & then some.

Ten more days, it’ll be showtime. Once again, my Christmas shopping habits have become decidedly…masculine. That’s not a good thing. It means, with just a couple of exceptions, I really haven’t gotten started yet.

Men are just about as good at shopping as women are at disciplining and curbing their dogs.

For The Anti-Death-Penalty Types VIII

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Every time I’m reminded of what decent people some of our anti-death-penalty folks are — and many of them are kind-hearted, lovable people — I think of one of Christ’s last seven words, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Yeah, THEM. They who oppose the death penalty. I put them on the same level as those who killed Christ. I know they’d rather be compared to whoever did something to stop the Crucifixion…but what they want has nothing to do with it. They are delusional, misinformed people. Just like the Romans who were led to believe, or chose to present themselves as believing, that Jesus Christ was stopping people from paying their taxes to Caesar, our anti-death-penalty people labor under the mistaken presumption that everybody is good.

Yeah sure, they don’t get anyone crucified. But they make for some very dangerous situations which pose the greatest threat towards people who are absolutely innocent; and for the most part, they are blissfully unaware of the culpability they bear in such things.

They need to be reminded, again and again, that everybody is not necessarily good. You find a thousand people on death row, you do NOT have an automatic guarantee that these are a thousand wrongful convictions. Nothing of the sort. The fact is, people are capable of being rotten. Some people are simply evil. So much so, that as long as they draw breath, “civilization” cannot exist in their proximity whether they are free or not.

Case in point, James Fogone and Larissa Schuster, who seem to have murdered Schuster’s estranged husband by pouring acid all over him.

Fagone testified last week that Larissa Schuster poured gallons of hydrochloric acid over her husband’s body after they knocked him out with chloroform and a stun gun.

Fagone had worked at Larissa Schuster’s lab in Fresno in late 2001 and most of 2002. He said he quit after Schuster became controlling and manipulative, but was later intimidated by her into kidnapping and burglarizing her husband.

“The jury rejected the defense we presented, but I think that they may have felt that Larissa Schuster manipulated Mr. Fagone,” [defense attorney Peter] Jones said.

During the two-week murder trial, prosecutors painted Fagone as a motivated, eager participant in the crime who accepted $2,000 from Larissa Schuster in exchange for help with the slaying.

There really aren’t too many ways I can conceive of to word this creatively. Some people are twisted pukes. They have narcissistic personality disorders, and they want what they want when they want it. Other people, and God love this second group of people, they don’t believe that first group of people can possibly exist. The people in that second group, unfortunately, sometimes end up having a say in what’s going to happen. They get on juries. They hold candlelight vigils and sometimes get executions postponed. Executions that really do need to take place.

The prosecution dropped torture charges and lying-in-wait circumstances against Fogone, so the lucky bastard is up to be LWOP’d instead of fried. It’s all but a sure thing that the witch isn’t going to be hung either…we don’t like to drop the hammer on the fairer sex. And so, once again, it becomes the duty of the justice system to show compassion — to she who demonstrated absolutely none of her own, and no capacity for appreciating it coming from anybody else.

I have this theory. Let’s just say, we bring the scaffold back. Not forever, just 48 hours. Drop the Eighth Amendment, or at least just some of the more outlandishly extravagant legal interpretations of it, during those 48 hours. Automatic appeals for death sentences, the “don’t execute the retarded” rule, the “aw gee, lethal injection might hurt” thing, all of it — pitch it out for 48 hours.

And I’m not even talking about everybody on “Death Row” — just the folks where, we can all sit down and say, yeah, I agree. He did it. Nobody who’s in the know, is even pretending for an instant, that this guy might be innocent. Just the cases where guilt is undisputed. Just mow through those fuckers like milk duds, for forty-eight hours. Hanging. Decapitation. Gas chamber. Or, just through the donation of vital organs…lie back on the operating table, go under, don’t come back up again. All of it in a public square, or on pay-per-view, or both. At the end of which, we go back to doing things the pansy-ass, crybaby, pants-pissing way we do them now.

My theory is, violent crime would drop — HARD. And stay down there at bargain-basement levels. Not just for two days; for decades.

Lives saved? Probably in the millions.

How many executions would we have to do in those two days? Maybe not even that many. Just the repeated viewing of the consequences of outrageous disrespect for human life…that would bring the whole thing to a halt. Or slow it down considerably, for a long time.

To try to refute my theory, you’d have to assert that all sociopaths are suicidal. Or that logically, they all must be. For better or for worse, they are not even inclined in that direction, let alone fitting exclusively into it. People who live just for their own benefit and for their own amusement — guess what? They want to live. They’ve got their things they want to do, and dying just gets in the way.

If my theory is correct, and I see no reason to doubt it…we have settled into a habit of disrespecting human life, for real — for the purpose of respecting human life elsewhere cosmetically. Worse yet, the lives we disrespect aren’t any ol’ lives, they’re innocent lives. And the lives to whom we show greater respect, aren’t just any ol’ lives either. They’re scum. They’re guilty and everybody knows it. Not even worth the skin they wear. And to suppose that by allowing them to live, we’re settng some kind of an example that will inspire someone, anyone, anywhere, in any kind of positive way — well, that’s just stupid.


Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Well, after being forced to discuss that latest wave of atrocities from Iraq, I just want to put up something to make me feel good about military stuff again. And here it is, the CV9040 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, equipped with a 40mm cannon that can do…well, lots of stuff. The artillery world is chock full of 120mm bigots who think anything less is too lightweight to do anything, and if they’ve got their minds made up on that, they need to see this.

More Atrocities From Iraq

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

AtrocitiesOnce again, I see we’re put in the position of having to apologize, or make excuses, for some of the more brutal behavior from our troops toward the innocent people of Iraq. I just hope when people see these pictures, they keep in mind that most of our servicemen and women are professionals, and don’t get the idea that a few rotten apples spoil the whole barrel.

Maybe, just maybe, we can weather the storm of bad publicity by coming forward as a country, and getting the word out. Better the rest of the world find out from us, than from someone else. One can only hope. Well, one way or another, I’m sure the printed & electronic media are just going to have a field day with this stuff…we’ll see these images twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, coast to coast and beyond. Oh well, whaddya gonna do.

Secret’s Out

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Secret Is OutYeah, Buck let the cat out of the bag recently. Your humble blogger is a cheapass who doesn’t trade in his cars. I mean, I really, really, don’t trade them in…not if they’re still running.

How bad is it? If you were born the day I bought ol’ Bessie, you’d be driving her now. Legally. Fully licensed. If I can push her another three years and some change, you’ll be making beer runs for me and you’ll be doing that legally too.

In the picture at right, Bessie is getting ready to jump start a big rig with a dead battery. This is a splicing between a decent 3.2 MP camera, and a camera phone I used to catch the odometer reading: 328,916. Bought ‘er brand new in 1989. She’s running on a third-generation 4A-GE 1600cc DOHC engine which, apart from the tappet cover gasket that’s been replaced twice, hasn’t been touched. Timing belts and oil changes, that’s all.

As a white male who opposes affirmative action, I am frequently reminded that I’m “on top,” that the world is my toilet, I crush the little people beneath my footsteps without even thinking about it, I own businesses without knowing it, etc. Cracks me up. Well, as you might have guessed, I keep my 18-year-old “don’t laugh it’s paidfer” jallopy parked between the helicopter and the Lamborghini Diablo at night. I mean, of course, that’s what I have my servants do.

And she runs like she did the day I drove her off the lot. One clutch replacement, at 230 or so. Compression is still good, emissions clean, mileage is somewhere around 34 to 38, consistently. No reason we can’t make it to the big 4. Or 5 for that matter. Hey, if I can do it anyone can.

Morgan’s Car Picks Up The Narrative:

Please shoot me.

Happy Birthday Kirk Douglas

Monday, December 11th, 2006

When I was a young-adult type of guy, it was…what? About twenty years ago. So fifteen years ago I was a medium-youngish adult type of guy, and twenty-five years ago I was a teenager-type kid. About that time, I knew my share of ninety-year-olds. There was a consensus among them that while things in “the world” might look a little bit on the dark side, no challenge in insurmountable, and if we keep our heads about us “it will all work out.”

Ninety years is long enough to learn a thing or two. I found that reassuring.

I dunno if Kirk Douglas agrees with all my opinions about how to solve things, but he’s certainly achieved the easy part which is to agree with me about what’s busted. And as far as this 90-year-old is concerned, the “will all work out” stuff is history.

This is the first time, I daresay, that I’ve seen an old guy announce in a public forum — you’d better pull your heads out of your asses and fix some stuff, or this ship’s going down. I’ve never seen that before. Well…not from a sane, literate old person. I’m almost halfway to the 90-year-mark myself, so since the words of Spartacus represent a paradigm shift, they carry weight with me.

Let’s face it: THE WORLD IS IN A MESS and you are inheriting it. Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, AIDS, and suicide bombers to name a few. These problems exist, and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now, we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable.

No, I don’t agree about the global warming and AIDS; one is a proven scam, and the other has received so much money that it is plagued more by black markets, and scandal, than by indifference. But the numero-uno among his concens, it seems, is that we have a tendency to identify problems and then not do anything about them. Or…to invoke solutions to the stated problem, that have very little to do with mitigating it or solving it.

Mr. Douglas, this forty-year-old is on-board with that concern, if none other. One hundred percent.

Look at it this way. President Bush identified terrorism as a problem. In response to this, he did a bunch of things: Pass the PATRIOT Act, re-invoke the legal definition of Enemy Combatant, invade Afghanistan, invade Iraq. Not a week goes by, wherein as an interconnected people, we are invited to re-examine whether his solutions are suitably connected with the identified problem. And in using the verb “re-examine” I’m being exceedingly generous. Most of this stuff isn’t examination or scrutiny at all, it’s just liberal propaganda masquerading as legitimate criticism. And most of it has to do with that last one, Iraq.

The “average” American conducts this “scrutiny” by announcing the tired old cliche (and falsehood), “No W.M.D.s have been found in Iraq!” Or…”Saddam Hussein was not a threat to America!” And puffing out his chest, strutting around, peacock-like, before receding back into the world of Starbuck’s, Netflix, iPods and PS3 consoles. Like an ostrich. We’ve become a curious peacock-ostrich hybrid. Postriches. Ostcocks. Whatever. Point is, by-and-large this is our method for solving problems. Our “leaders” have been reduced in stature to the point where we don’t expect leadership out of them. We want lightning-rods, and nothing else.

AIDS is still a problem. Hey, you know what? We’ve been fighting AIDS longer than we’ve had a Global War on Terror. Do our solutions have something to do with the identified problem? Like the liberation of Iraq versus the terrorism problem? Perhaps there are some issues there; it isn’t politically correct to call them out, or to try to. After twenty-three years, with millions of lives on the line, why do we have this taboo? Why so many words and so much heat spent, instead, to invoke a bunch of foolish nonsense from a Michael Moore movie? Nonsensical slander about our efforts to rid the world of terrorism, which we’ve only just begun?

Poverty is an even better example. Sam Kinison, trying to be funny, might have had a good point — what are all these people doing, in place where you can’t grow food? It’s certainly related to family planning. And yet, we only connect with each other to solve the crisis, when we’re presented with a plan to prune the leafy part off the weed…adopt this kid or that kid, not a peep about solving the overpopulation problem. Or when there’s an ulterior motive involved. Bono gets some P.R. out of it. Why is that? Why can’t Bono quietly work at this thing? There are a lot of Hollywood celebrities donating their money and time to help good causes, quietly. Why have we become so accustomed to seeing this guy’s face when he talks about poverty? And where are the damned condoms?

I’m venturing into territory where my knowledge falls short of all-encompassing. Forgive me. I’m trying to figure out why a ninety-year-old is gloom-and-doom now, and in years past, this was not the case. I find it alarming. It could just be Mr. Douglas’ personality; I don’t find this likely. I don’t know the man personally, but there are some movie stars who have a “rep” for seeing the darker side of everything, and he is not among them. And I must say, if I was ninety instead of forty, my comments would be very much the same. Throughout those four decades — and, I expect, in the five ahead, assuming I’m lucky enough to have them — my most wonderful plans are doomed to failure when I don’t take a step back and say, “okay…this solves the problem I identified, HOW?” It’s a simple question. Asking it, sincerely, is tougher than it might seem at first. And if you can manage to pull that off, I’ve learned you get surprised more often than you might expect.

But if I ask that question, with a genuine desire to make sure I’m sticking to my knitting, success is almost always mine. And we haven’t been doing that. Since 2001, what we do, for the most part, is find reasons to blame things on George W. Bush. I don’t want to put words in Mr. Douglas’ mouth, but it seems he has some criticism for us, and it appears to be heading somewhere in that direction. We can disagree about the smaller details, but if I’ve gleaned the overall spirit of his message correctly, I can certainly see where he’s coming from.

A Size Thing

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Too big.

Too small.

Update 12/13/06: Regarding the second of those two, The Saloon has a post up on the same subject. A very short one. Although it should be noted, it’s a little cold in here.

Update 12/19/06: Just right, and getting moreso.

Smug Alert!

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

So Buck fell asleep in front of the TV, and as a result we get a reference to one of the best South Park episodes ever.

If patriotism involves being smug about what you drive, I need to be jailed for treason. I haven’t even been shopping for anything. Cars…to me, they are like deoderant. They get the job done, or they don’t. If the old one is used up, you buy a new one. Eighteen years I’ve been waiting…it’s still going…no need to buy a new one yet. Maybe if Ol’ Bessie could talk, she’d beg to be put out of her misery. But she still goes.

Now, if we’re talking smugness because of odometer readings, that’s a different thing entirely (I’m 5th from the bottom).

Not In It For The Attention, Mind You… VII

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

LogoYesterday at 09:50 PST, this page was viewed by somebody from for 11 minutes and 51 seconds. That was this blog’s 20,000th hit, since April of this year when we started using Sitemeter.

Hope y’all found those twenty thousand interesting, and that the next twenty k will benefit you as well.

Reverse Projection

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

I was poking around Bill Whittle’s site Eject! Eject! Eject! and I came across this essay from November 6 that so brilliantly eviscerates the big lie about “Chickenhawks.”

The Chickenhawk argument goes something like this: anyone who favors military action should not be taken seriously unless they themselves are willing to go and do the actual fighting.
If you ever see this charge again, you may want to reflect that person’s own logical reasoning in the following fashion: You may not talk about education unless you are willing to become a teacher. You may not discuss poverty unless you yourself are willing to go and form a homeless shelter. How dare you criticize Congress unless you are willing to go out and get elected yourself?
But wait! There’s more!

If you accept the Chickenhawk argument…then that means that any decision to go to war must rest exclusively in the hands of the military. Is that what this person really wants? To abandon civilian control of the military? That’s the box they have trapped themselves in with this argument…

Finally, if the only legitimate opinion on Iraq, say, is that held by the troops themselves, then they are overwhelmingly in favor of being there and finishing what they started. I recently received an e-mail from an Army major who is heading back for his fourth tour. The Chickenhawk argument, coming from an anti-war commentator, legitimizes only those voices that overwhelmingly contradict the anti-war argument.

As I said, it is brilliant…but not thorough. There is yet more, still. At least, within the representative samples of the Chickenhawk argument that have come to my attention, there is more. I have noticed that for much of the time, it is based on a premise that those of us who admire the dedication of the troops on the front lines, and see purpose in the mission to which they are assigned but do not share the work of engaging the mission ourselves — are engaging in a weird form of psychological projection. Instead of cleansing ourselves of unwanted impulses or desires by projecting those feelings onto others, we are shedding ourselves of the service we respect by saddling someone else with our dirty work. I would guess we are then indulging in a form of reverse psychological projection, absorbing, sponge-like, the noble attributes we recognize in those who serve. We rob them of their bravery, their selflessness, and their dedication, indulging in a game of make-believe that we are the ones who have these strengths when we’re all just a bunch of neo-con cowards.

The theory, so far as I understand it, creates a necessity for us to do this by revealing us to be the opposite of those who serve. We are selfish, weak, uncoordinated, undisciplined, were picked on in High School, and we like to pretend to be tough guys because in real life we are anything but. According to this perverted logic, simply by showing gratitude that the troops are out there, willing to serve, and recognizing the necessity of the work they do, we expose ourselves as missing all the positive traits we admire.

Again, I’m inspired to contemplate Atticus Finch’s most devastating quote: “Do you really think so?”

I was having a thought about this last week.

There are those among us who recognize the plight of poor people, castigating those who don’t help the poor as much as they could, and elevating others who do more than their share to help. Such critics — some of them, anyway — frequently demand legislation to force people to be charitable. Minimum wage laws, progressive income taxes, social programs.

So my question would be: If the Chickenhawk argument can be used to perceive self-loathing, cowardly feelings on the part of those who admire and respect military service; could it not be applied to perceive self-loathing selfishness on the part of those who impose on others, artificial obligations to be charitable?

It’s the same logic. Exactly the same.

Except they aren’t quite the same. There’s an important difference. One of those theories has some evidence to support it and the other one doesn’t. Guess which one enjoys anecdotal support; here’s a clue.

Who Gives and Who Doesn’t?
Putting the Stereotypes to the Test

There are a million ways to give to charity. Toy drives, food drives, school supply drives…telethons, walkathons, and dance-athons.

But just who is doing the giving? Three quarters of American families donate to charity, giving $1,800 each, on average. Of course, if three quarters give, that means that one quarter don’t give at all. So what distinguishes those who give from those who don’t? It turns out there are many myths about that.

Sioux Falls vs. San Francisco

We assume the rich give more than the middle class, the middle class more than the poor. I’ve heard liberals care more about the less fortunate, so we assume they give more than conservatives do. Are these assumptions truth, or myth?

To test what types of people give more, “20/20” went to two very different parts of the country, with contrasting populations: Sioux Falls, S.D. and San Francisco, Calif. The Salvation Army set up buckets at the busiest locations in each city — Macy’s in San Francisco and Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls. Which bucket collected more money?

Sioux Falls is rural and religious; half of the population goes to church every week. People in San Francisco make much more money, are predominantly liberal, and just 14 percent of people in San Francisco attend church every week. Liberals are said to care more about helping the poor; so did people in San Francisco give more?

I won’t directly comment on how that little experiment turned out. You’ll have to read the article. But you should be prepared for a surprise.

Memo For File XXXV

Friday, December 8th, 2006

I’ve never been a frequent sufferer of what we commonly call “nightmares”; the few that I’ve had over the years, have lately given way to something else. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m becoming an old man. Things that distress me in sleep, are sufficiently based on real problems, that they continue to bother me while I’m lying there waiting to get up and start my day. My subconsciousness might invent a fictitious and frightening scenario, and rather than snapping awake to realize it’s not true…I snap awake to discover it isn’t true yet. And so I lie there and fret about it, until I realize the best I can do is to wait for an opportunity to present itself to mitigate the problem, hoping such an opportunity will arise since it assuredly has not yet. What do we call these. Morning-mares?

Always, the future is involved. Wednesday morning I had a bruiser. Again, I was a sad old man who had stumbled on through the decades, watching his ominous foreboding about the world proven correct again and again and again, while people around him listened to his other dark prophecies less and less and less. I was broken, quiet, and empty shell of the man I am today, resolved to keep my opinion to myself until such time as it was solicited…and of course it never was. I was visiting my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The situation was happy, in all the ways that matter to most. We all had our health. My son’s business was doing very well. And I had luxuries most old men crave, but about which most only dream; my son continued the gratitude that he has today, that I taught him the priceless lesson of differentiating between a fact and an opinion, and that this practice is the mother’s milk of any thinking man’s ability to know anything worth knowing. He had used this abstract concept to gain material success in the world, no easy feat, and for this I was exceptionally proud.

But if he was thankful for the ability to do this, the rest of the world was not, and I was frequently bothered by residual questions about whether I’d injured his capacity to conform. The world had changed. The problems we have today, had all metastasized into real conundrums, far worse. The United States had left Iraq. “Civil war” did not endure there, after all; terrorists moved in, and who could blame them? Good heavens, what utterly stupid and ineffectual terrorists it would have taken to allow such opportunity to pass. And so the government of Iraq was left in charge for just a small stretch of time, and crumbled when it failed to meet the challenge. The world took no notice of that, it simply blamed George Bush and moved on. Who expected anything different?

It wasn’t any kind of country at all, it was just one huge terrorist “building.” Of course, nobody gave a thought to doing anything with it, as far as military operations, weapons inspections, or anything of the like. It was just a place terrorists went, and we left them alone, resigned to wait for the next attack and tough it out. And so, with training camps and weapons labs on every yard of earth from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, Syria to Iran, September 11 attacks became routine. We stopped coming up with names for them after Number Twenty or so. They were only numbers. We were watching the news about Number Thirty-Eight…once again, everybody we knew, was spared. Again, we were lucky.

Ah…the news. Fact, and opinion. Did I mention the patriarchal concerns I had about how my son failed to fit into the world, as he differentiated between fact and opinion? I should elaborate. News was a different thing in my vision. Today, news does not differentiate even though it seems to understand it ought to. It editorializes under labels like “Analysis” so the editorials can be tossed in where everyone knows they don’t belong. Nouns are joined by verbs in such a way that the observation sounds factual, but only cosmetically so. Challenges loom. Dangers await. That’s now. In my vision, the blending problem is gone…because the facts are gone. News is pure opinion. Nobody takes the time to notice this; if they pay attention to the “news” at all, they show how “informed” they are by repeating things that sound exactly like it. As a broken old man, fortunate enough to have the gratitude of my progeny for all my tedious lectures about fact and opinion, I resolved to dispense only what people wanted. My opinions were secret until someone specifically requested they not be. I was thankful. I had the gratitude of my heirs, for having taught them things. Occasionally, they would ask me about history…asking for facts. That makes two precious gifts to an old man. Opinions I would keep to myself. Opinions they would get from the news.

And so the news droned on about Number Thirty-Eight. Nothing about death tolls or what kind of weapon was used or how the attack was carried out. In fact, the news was nothing but a warning about things we might learn somewhere else. The news didn’t even tell us there was a Number Thirty-Eight; it simply portended that we were going to be told about it, perhaps, and we should disregard anything we hear about this, that, or some other thing. As far as what happened, very little information was forthcoming. We were learning nothing. This was typical.

Number Thirty-Eight, from what I could gather, seemed to have something to do with what is called “Chicago.”

My grandson was watching the “news,” and paying close attention to the instructions about what he should ignore. Not because he wanted to, but because it was a homework assignment. He was “debating” in school. He was very skilled at this, and we were all very proud of him, but I made a point of not following the action too closely. Nobody analyzed anything in high school debates, or any other debates for that matter; nobody proved or provided evidence for anything, nobody refuted anything, and nobody represented themselves as trying to. Of course, simply noticing that would be expressing an opinion, and so I kept my silence on this. But it was so bad, that participants in high school debates were “scored” on a percentage of how closely their comments resembled the “news.” My grandson was sure to take first place in the last debate, but he took second. The other kid’s comments were found to resemble the news 93% of the time, and my family’s champion was scored at 88% or 90% or something. Clearly, he needed to study up and make sure his opinions were brought in line. That’s right, excellence was defined as…resembling other things. I’ve always had an opinion about that too (Thing I Know #145) — but I kept quiet about it. How could I not? My grandson was winning trophies and was bursting at the seams with pride. No grandfather would put a damper on that.

But this week he had been topped. And so, three generations of us sat around. Watching “news.” About an attack that wasn’t an attack, so far as we knew. You had to kind of read between the lines, but that is the way it was with everything.

And my grandson turned to me and asked me a horrible question. I don’t remember what it was, but somehow in answering it I had let it slip that the Dark Place that had no name, from which terrorists repeatedly prepared their next attack, the place to which nobody went, which nobody understood, the Lord Valdemort of geographic locations — was Iraq. A hush fell over the living room. Nobody was angry with grandpa, but I would almost have been happier if they were. No, they were eager to learn more. I had let the cat out of the bag; I had forgotten that young people didn’t understand this. Oh, they were encouraged to believe President Bush “messed up Iraq” some thirty years before. They were encouraged to believe that the reason we couldn’t do anything about terrorist attacks, was because it was absolutely forbidden and unthinkable to go to the Dark Place. But they didn’t understand that the Dark Place was what Iraq became.

And it opened a huge can of worms. It revealed that the United States once had a military presence there, a little morsel of information that was carefully concealed from young people and more-distracted young adults. Older people like me, had made a practice of speaking as if these were two different regions. It worked, most of the time, because geography was something you just didn’t learn in school and you didn’t expect to learn it. So Iraq went away…from out of somewhere, came the Dark Place. Connecting the two as one mass of land, although this was factually correct, was simply not done because it might lead to more questions. Questions upon which, now two full generations were left without the tools to explore. So what was the point?

The questions flew toward me. What was it like when we were there? Well, of course it was messy, I said. And so we talked about “insurgents” and I.E.D.’s. I told them some 3700 American soldiers lost their lives as Iraq became the Dark Place. And every answer I gave…led to more confusion. As I cleared up the confusion as best I could, I started to find reasons why the confusion took place. For example, that we were pushed out of Iraq in a single afternoon. That was not correct. It took years. Where did we get the idea it took just a few hours? Oh that’s right…the 3700. The place is filled with terrorists and we are forced to leave, if such a thing goes on for any length of time it seems the toll should be higher. Much higher.

You think about it, it makes sense. Thirty-Four, six months previous, hit Atlanta with a loss of some two million; Twenty-Nine struck in Los Angeles a year before that, with a toll more than double. Death expressed in aggregate, no longer packed a wallop for this new generation. How could it? And so they hear about 3700 soldiers dying over an undefined amount of time — the last thing they’d think is that this took five years. Sounds more like five hours.

Well, I had to re-think and re-think again on the words as they came out of my mouth, because I was trying to repress any opinion. I wished I was boring everybody; I’d be just one more tedious old man, shutting up when nobody listens to him anymore. That would be easy. But my granddaughter and daughter-in-law had gathered around, and I was surrounded in this horseshoe arrangement as I recounted this history nobody heard before. To answer my grandchildrens’ questions, it was difficult to stay neutral, because now I had to explain how wars are lost not tactically, but through lack of political will. And that this lack of political will, while everyone wishes it comes from independent thinking…well, the facts don’t support this. It comes from “news.” But “news” that isn’t really news. And so there I was explaining how Iraq, we had been told decades before on the “news,” was degenerating into a “civil war.” This struck everyone as rather odd. A civil war is all about who’s going to be in charge; if Iraq is the same spot as the Dark Place, then it was a place where, as I was speaking, nobody was “in charge” except terrorists. Civil war? Here we were finding out something dreadful had happened in Chicago. Nobody we knew had been injured…nobody we knew of, quite yet. And this was the thirty-eighth attack. For this generation to learn that we once had control of the Dark Place, and gave it up willingly — well, they were having a lot of trouble grasping this.

And again, who could blame them? And so I had to explain the news…not so much as a bunch of opinion masquerading as fact…but as an interest. They’d already picked up on the leitmotif that when America does something militarily, the effort put in by the “news” is to try to get America to stop doing it. This was puzzling to them. We could have stopped terrorists; terrorists want us to live under Sharia law; the prognosis for a free press under Sharia law, is not terribly good; what’s the interest of the news people, to stop America from stopping the terrorists? Here, my opinion was being directly solicited. The trouble was, I had none to give.

And then, my granddaughter wanted to know when they all began. The thirty-eight. How long has this been going on? What about Number One?

The conversation was going to a place I didn’t want it to go, but I had never held secrets from my grandchildren and wasn’t about to start. The question was direct and she was owed an answer. The moment of the dream that shattered my slumber, and left me lying there thinking through what I had just been dreaming, was an explosive epiphany blossoming from my own remark. As if it came from another person, I heard my own raspy voice grind out, “We would not call it ‘Number One’ for a very long time…” Someone gasped. “We called it the September Eleven attacks, Nine Eleven for short.” Something jumped through my brain, and in a heartbeat it became impossible to go on. I was struck by the ramifications of what I had just said. Thirty-Nine was coming and Forty was coming and Forty-One…what would they be like? Another Fourteen, detonating in the midwest where the population was most spread-out, snuffing out just a few hundred of us? Or, that awful, unforgettable Twenty-Two, still unmentioned in polite company? Something in between? And nobody could do anything about any of it. No one had any vision for it; nobody, anywhere. Control over destiny was thought to be an evil thing, and we were told on a daily basis that it was far more noble to simply await the inevitable, lest “world opinion” be agitated against us again. In the final analysis, the human race became just like a bunch of ants, or something even lower still, waiting to be squished.

My mind churned as I tried to put together the words to explain what Nine One One was all about. From where did the three numbers come. About telephones, about how this was an emergency number and how that all worked…how “9-1-1” stood for a fundamental meaning, now lost forever, something nobody understood. “Something terrible has happened and we gotta do something.” I was trying to figure out how to explain this to a girl who was a stranger to such a thought from infancy, and had ever met anyone who had entertained such a thought. In her time, life, for however long it lasted, was a simple affair. Be happy. Don’t make mistakes. Think the right thoughts. Don’t disagree with people. You may be dead tomorrow, so the point isn’t to try to avoid it, the point is to make sure you’re remembered in a positive way. She was happy, and her friends were all happy; they’d be ostracized if they were caught being something else, since any dreaded challenge to the status quo must arise from evil, wretched dissatisfaction. Happiness and contentment, all around. Ignore what the “news” tells you to ignore. To someone living in a whole world like that, how do you explain what 911 means?

I made a few false starts, interrupted myself, my voice broke. My tired old eyes became thick and wet — and then I woke up.

This Is Good XXXIII

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Quadruple-threat today.

Oldie but a goodie. Sometimes it’s a Californian moving to Montana for the winter, sometimes it’s a Texan popping in to Vermont. Always in diary form, always funny as hell. Seems appropriate for this time of year.

Dec 8 6 p.m. It’s starting to snow. The first of the season and the wife and I took our Chardonnay and sat by the window watching the soft flakes drift down over the area. It was beautiful!

Dec 9 We awoke to a big beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Every tree and shrub covered with a beautiful white mantle. I shoveled snow for the first time and loved it. After I did the sidewalk and driveway the snowplow came along and covered up our sidewalk with compacted snow from the street so I shoveled it again. Great exercise!
Dec 16 Fell on my butt on the ice in the driveway.
Dec 24 If I ever catch the sonofabitch that drives the snowplow I’ll drag him through the snow by his balls. I think he waits around the corner until I’ve finished shoveling so he can come by at 80 mph and throw the snow up on what used to be my lawn.
Dec 28 I set fire to the house so I won’t have to shovel that shit off the roof.
Jan 5 Sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service shoveling snow for senior citizens.

And on a separate subject, this looks like an Imus appearance of some kind; The Day My Wife Met…

Speaking of meetings, Titanic meets IM.

Ten things code doesn’t do in real life, as in, computer code. You know, as opposed to movies. I’m sure you’ve seen this awful movie by now. Or this one, or this one.

About Those Six Imams

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Deborah Burlingame has put out, thus far, the most informative write-up I’ve seen about the incident. Her brother was the pilot of Flight 77. What she wrote about the Imam-ejecting story, is not slanted any more or less than any other story you’ve seen about it, but as you might expect her slant is in the opposite direction. And as frosting on the cake, anybody wondering why the six would have been kicked off the flight, may actually get an answer. Whoever can’t handle that, should take extra special care not to click here.

“Allahu Akbar” was just the opening act. After boarding, they did not take their assigned seats but dispersed to seats in the first row of first class, in the midcabin exit rows and in the rear–the exact configuration of the 9/11 execution teams. The head of the group, seated closest to the cockpit, and two others asked for a seatbelt extension, kept on board for obese people. A heavy metal buckle at the end of a long strap, it can easily be used as a lethal weapon. The three men rolled them up and placed them on the floor under their seats. And lest this entire incident be written off as simple cultural ignorance, a frightened Arabic-speaking passenger pulled aside a crew member and translated the imams’ suspicious conversations, which included angry denunciations of Americans, furious grumblings about U.S. foreign policy, Osama Bin Laden and “killing Saddam.”

The more I find out about this whole thing, the more it impresses me as a thoroughly pants-shitting event for all concerned. I’d like to see someone held to account, and called to explain why the very first news stories about it were worded the way they were. Why they didn’t mention the blocking of the exits. Who is working in our nation’s newsrooms, making important decisions there about what millions of people are supposed to be thinking, who doesn’t see that as part of the story.

English is Official Language in This County

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Every year, municipalities and counties of every state will declare thousands of things to be illegal, some of which were perfectly legal beforehand. Cherokee County, Georgia, just got done declaring something illegal that is already against the law.

We have been instructed by our betters who went to journalism or law school to regard this as a controversial move. What the officials of Cherokee County did, was recognize the throughly half-assed and slack-jawed job the Federal Government is doing to protect the nation’s borders, and start going after landlords who rent to illegal immigrants. They also approved a program that would allow some probing into the status of anyone applying for public benefits, and made English the county’s official language.

Cherokee commissioners have maintained that illegal immigrants drain local resources. And because the federal government hasn’t tackled the issue, commissioners said it was up to them to send a message to those living in the county illegally.

A public hearing last month on the ordinance drew a large crowd, and for Tuesday night’s meeting there were as many people crowded into the county courthouse atrium as there were inside the meeting room, which holds more than 100.

Some bunched up against the double doors, pleading with sheriff’s deputies who at times threatened to remove people who didn’t stop shouting or back away from the doors.

The vast majority of those waiting outside were interested in rezoning matters, but a handful of people on both sides of the immigration debate were left standing outside, too.

They included Billy Inman of Woodstock, whose only son was killed 6 1/2 years ago by a drunken driver who was in the country illegally.

Inman cheered news of the vote.

“I lost my son to an illegal immigrant,” Inman said. “I ain’t no lawyer, but legal is legal and illegal is illegal. Somebody’s got to do something. It’s a problem in every city across this country.”

But Estebaan Zuniga, a drywall worker from Woodstock who said he has a green card, said he didn’t think illegal immigrants were going to leave in droves as proponents hoped.

While illegal immigrants are concerned about the new laws, he said, many probably realize that the ordinances are being challenged in court.

And if they do leave, he said, it’s Cherokee County that will suffer.

“This will hurt the economy,” he said. “Why don’t they do something to help the economy?”

Because it’s against the law, dipshit.

This shouldn’t even be challenged. Shouldn’t be controversial in any way. It’s made that way, because the “proles” are letting the elites run things too much. Where things like this are controversial, they are controversial among political activists who think they can win something by making it controversial. Real people, almost without exception, would let this go forward without complaint. It might not be their favorite cup o’ tea, but they’d let it proceed without silly court challenges.

I know some liberals, just like I know some conservatives. I think everyone who makes their daily bread from actually working, rather than from stirring up the crock in some way, would admit this much: If you’re in a position of power, and you think action is demanded on some greater level when someone dies from “global warming” compared to when someone dies from the illegal alien invasion — this would be incorrect. There would be something wrong with you and you shouldn’t be in a position of power. You can’t pick and choose which deaths matter and which deaths don’t, based on what pet issue you want pushed and what issue you want repressed.

A bunch of courtrooms are going to start dedicating resources to figuring out whether or not the United States Constitution allows this country to have borders. Borders that actually matter, that mean something. Well, whaddya want to bet that some of those courts, will have already allowed a gun control measure or two to go forward, in some way, with nary a peep of protest.

Constitutional? “Shall not be infringed” is right in there. Look it up. “Borders shall be meaningless and people should be able to walk right on in anytime they want to make a buck”…last I checked, I was having a little trouble homing in on that. We aren’t watching our courts, and as a result it’s becoming a subjective opinion what the Constitution does and does not say. Well, it’s not a matter of opinion. It’s factual.

Pull My Finger, Ground This Flight

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

What a pain in the ass. Sorry, no pun intended.

The Dallas-bound [American Airlines] flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur…All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened [Monday].

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a “body odor,” Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.
The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane. The woman, who was not identified, was not charged in the incident.

Read the whole thing

Her Opinion And She’s Entitled To It

Monday, December 4th, 2006

PaltrowAs long as that’s what she really believes, I have no problem with her saying it. She’s in the right place as far as I’m concerned.

…[Gwyneth] Paltrow said in an interview with Portugal’s weekend magazine NS that she prefers Britian to America.

“I like living here, because I don’t fit into the bad side of American psychology,” the “Shakespeare in Love” star said. “The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans.”

The 34-year-old actress lives in the mother country with her British hubby, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, and the couple’s two children.
“I love the English lifestyle, it’s not as capitalistic as America,” she said. “People don’t talk about work and money. They talk about interesting things at dinner.”

I wish the article went on to discuss what those things were. Not that I doubt that our friends across the pond can talk about interesting things; I’ve seen ’em do it personally. They’re a fun crowd, and I would tend to agree that on the whole they tend to think things through better than most Americans. At least, if you were to draw your samplings from both countries according to who does the most talking.

But when it comes to people visiting countries and taking in broad samplings of the social strata there, and gradually accumulating a competence to speak on what this country talks about at dinner and what that country talks about at dinner…Hollywood starlets don’t float to the top of my list. I’ve been educated for the last five years, more than I ever wished to be, on how blue-blood Hollywood thinks. To say I’ve gathered the impression that Hollywood likes to hang out with its own — that would be a gross understatement. Now, poor Gwyneth has been subjected to people talking about work and money at American dinner tables. Hmmm. I’ve eaten at American dinner tables. I’ve not had this problem. Where in America has she eaten dinner? With whom? People in Butte? Laramie? Walla Walla or Wewahitchka? Ah…could it be…Tinseltown. How many people in America would be graced by Ms. Paltrow’s presence at dinner, who don’t work in entertainment? How many people in the UK who aren’t in the movie business? Maybe that’s the answer; an apples-and-oranges comparison. Maybe. I don’t know. But it seems like something she’d want to explore, either in public or in private, if she was noodling this through.

Paltrow thinks she knows what a country with 300 million people, wrapped around seven time zones, from the Arctic tundra to the Gulf of Mexico, talks about at dinner. That could be a testament to her broad traveling experiences or it could speak to an abject lack of humility. Three guesses and the first two don’t count. What’s frustrating is that if the article went on from there to explore what Paltrow finds “interesting” about table talk, we wouldn’t have to speculate. We’d know for certain.

Somehow, I don’t think it very much matters.

I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt here, that she has some personal experience at all to back this up. And I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on even that.

“Our job as actors is to read the newspapers, and repeat what we’ve read on TV, like it is our own opinion.” — Janeane Garofalo in “Team America: World Police” (2004)

Update 12-6-06: Okay, so now she’s backtracking. Here and here you’ll find references to the whole thing being a Spanish-translation mix-up of some kind.

“I felt so upset to be completely misconstrued and I never, ever would have said that.

“This is what I said. I said that Europe is a much older culture and there’s a difference. Obviously, I need to go back to seventh-grade Spanish.”

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt on the translation mix-up. I’m not buying the “never ever would have said that” bit. Bashing America is very trendy right now, and Paltrow’s bought into it before.

The Shakespeare in Love beauty, who lives in London with her rock star husband Chris Martin and daughter Apple, admits she is amazed by the locals’ courage in the face of adversity.

She says, “I find the English amazing how they got over 7/7. There were no multiple memorials with people sobbing as they would have been in America. There, they are constantly scaring people but at the same time, people think nothing of going to see a therapist.”

There ya go. If the event from 2005 took place but she was misquoted just now, then the fact that she was misquoted just now means very little. Even if she was misquoted both times, there’s a pattern at work here and as far as I’m concerned, where there’s smoke there’s fire.

You know, like I said at the very beginning, she is perfectly entitled to all these opinions. She’s a somewhat attractive actress who gives a somewhat decent level of performance, is more talented than most, and is known for making movies that usually don’t appeal to me. So I don’t really have a dog in the hunt.

And as an American, I can certainly survive pea-brained comments about my country from abroad. What gets under my skin is the intellectual laziness of it — the tired, threadbare comparisons between such-and-such a country and America. If Paltrow didn’t say stuff like this, other people have; if she did say it, she’s in a lot of company. But there’s so little sincerity in all this criticism of America. It seems everybody means something different from what they’re saying.

“Women go topless to the beach in xxx-country because xxx-country isn’t sexually repressed — like America.” That means, hey, it’s great that women can go topless to the beach in xxx. That’s what that means. Mentioning America at all, has nothing to do with the subject at hand. But people do anyway. That’s what’s fashionable. Such-and-such a country makes great blueberry pancakes, you just aren’t being chic when you compliment their blueberry pancakes unless you tack on to the end, “they’re not like those cow patties you have to buy with good money over in Ameeeeerica!” And speaking of money, anybody who criticizes America over money can just go pound sand as far as I’m concerned. To criticize us for having it, is an exercise in pure, petty jealousy; to criticize us for wanting it, is an exercise in projection. To simply bring up the subject of money, after all, is to make a priority out of it; and wanting it is a natural consequence of making a priority out of it. And so this is the pot calling the kettle black.

And there’s always this wonderful solvency about anyone who criticizes America for being too “capitalistic.” It seems most of the middle-class, have more important things on their minds. So many among the “shame on America for being a blood-sucking capitalist” set, are…happy, healthy, comfortable and successful capitalists. More often than not, thanks to the time they spent living in you-know-where.

But hey. It’s great news that someone is getting in trouble, and realizing the necessity of backpedaling, over negative comments about America. That’s the silver lining to this cloud. Maybe, just maybe, America-bashing is going the way of the Cabbage Patch Doll. Maybe Paltrow’s mea culpa will have an effect of pushing it off in that direction more quickly. If that’s the case, she should be thanked.

But I’m only believing half of what I read, and at a certain point I stop noticing it and just go to work. That’s what makes me an American.

Sidebar Update IX

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

Men's News DailyToday we add Men’s News Daily to the blogroll. This fine online periodical explores men’s issues as they relate to ongoing news events, from high-profile goings-on down to the obscure odds-and-ends pieces that might not have come to your attention through other avenues. Since it functions as a news-scroll and brings together the contributions of a panel of recognized authors, and from what I see manages to produce some quality work as a result, this resource gets a silver icon. Check it out.

Update 12/7/06: I like Seth Godin’s blog and I’ll make sure to add it. I also like Preemptive Karma and will be sure to add that. Thanks to Dr. Melissa Clouthier, and Alan at Thirty-Nine And Holding, respectively. And I would add, further, that I found this to be a handy resource when I needed to figure out what the whole “Walk on the Wild Side” song was about; good thing to bookmark, might as well do it here. Ever wonder what Holly’s last name was, as in the actress mentioned in the first line of the first verse? You’ll find out.

Yin and Yang VII

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

Mike LaSalle, editor of Men’s News Daily, has taken note (as few others have) of the tedious six-chapter epistle called “Yin and Yang.” This is a theory I’ve been entertaining, and writing about, and refining from time to time, about why people behave the way they do — specifically, in regard to each other. Why does this co-worker annoy me so much, when this other co-worker can’t get enough of him. How come I get along so much better with my second wife than with my first wife. Yin and Yang explains ALL, although it’s not perfect. I should hasten to add that Mr. LaSalle has demonstrated no enthusiasm toward agreeing with me on each point; wouldn’t want to slander the poor fellow. Nor could he show such fidelity if he tried, since nothing is carved in stone. I’ve confessed from the very beginning that this is a nascent theory, and like all theories lacking maturity it must flex as new realizations reverberate through it. To put it another way, now that I’ve noticed something, I’m learning new things about this thing I’ve noticed all the time. The skin hasn’t formed on this pudding.

This nascency does two things. One, those who think there’s something to it, can only agree with the core realizations, as the marginal cognitions slither around like the tentacles of a wriggly octopus. Two, it makes it necessary to periodically jot down what’s been learned. And so I shall. This would be a nice thing to do for folks lacking time to read the preceding six windy chapters.

1. Central to the theory is that there is a fundamental bifurcation among mentally capable people in civilized societies. Generally speaking, there are those who make a point to continually refine their cognitive abilities but possess mediocre or deficient social skills, and see little point in doing anything to mitigate such weaknesses. Simply put, they work on socializing better when they’re forced to. Arbitrarily, we call these the Yin. The counterparts are the Yang whose cognitive abilities are lackluster at best, developed out of necessity, exercised when forced and to no personal enjoyment. But these people possess highly refined social skills, and excel in communicating ideas with other people.

2. A common trait among the Yin is that they can differentiate between what is certainly true, and what is almost certainly true. They are adept at keeping track of what has been proven, what has merely been supported, what has only been suggested, what speculation is suffering from a logical problem, and what has been logically refuted.

3. A common trait among the Yang is that from early on, they can communicate with a plurality of other people non-verbally. Also, they can capture and retain the attention of people who otherwise, just going by the substance of what the Yang have to say, would be disinterested. The Yang enjoy the exclusive ability to hold court; they are confident that they “hold the floor” at all times, because they simply do. They presume that whatever they say, people are interested in hearing what it is, because this has historically always been the case.

4. The Yin solve puzzles. The Yang rally large numbers of people around a common cause. There is difficulty involved in making use of the talents of a Yang when there is a thing to be built; the talents of Yin become an awkward fit at best, when that thing needs to be sold.

5. Very intelligent people, with a reasonable stretch of experience, can eventually achieve competence with both these sets of skills and these people tend to grey the boundary between Yin and Yang.

6. However, if you get to know these people well, you will find they’ve made a bastardization in the course of achieving competence in a field that doesn’t really hold their interest. For example, a Yang who learns to solve puzzles, has little interest in solving them if nobody knows that he’s solved them. A Yin who manages to achieve adequate communication skills, has done so by viewing people as just another puzzle to be solved, and usually doesn’t value the social activity as anything beyond a means to an end.

7. The dividing line between Yin and Yang is very clean when you look at how people use their energies on a daily basis, to work at acquiring more skills to complete tasks they have not yet completed. To build a rain-resistant woodshed when one does not yet know how, can be an inexpensive task if one is willing to learn to solve puzzles or an expensive one if it is to be pursued socially. On the other hand, to negotiate some kind of pact between large groups with different interests, and some animosity between them, can be difficult if viewed as a puzzle but very easy if viewed as a social exercise. Nevertheless, the personality of the person who owns the problem — his “Yin/Yang rating” you might say, is what determines how a given task is to be completed. The nature of the problem has far less to do with the chosen solution than what we would like to think. To bottom-line the point, when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

8. A surplus of desperate problems, perhaps some of them life-threatening, tends to create a churning effect that causes the Yin to rise to the top. When such danger looms, the mediocre communication skills of such leaders and leader candidates don’t seem to injure them a whole lot. In such situations, successful leaders seem to have it in common that their strategies are well thought out, and in tactics, they are “blindsided” very rarely and with minimal damage.

9. A dearth of such crises or dangers, creates an environment in which the Yang rise to positions of leadership if too long a time goes without new challenges being recognized and pursued. Such an environment settles into “maintenance mode,” and when this happens leader candidates are valued for their abilities to communicate. At such turning points humanity has a demonstrated tendency to choose a wholly different class of leaders.

10. Animosity seems to be inevitable when commerce, synergy, administration or love must transcend the divide between Yin and Yang. One of the most reliable ways to see this coming is when people feel a reluctance to delegate critical tasks to each other, after they’ve come to the realization that everyone in the group doesn’t share a tendency to solve the same problems using the same methods.

11. There is a distinct tendency for men to be Yin and for women to be Yang, which is unfortunate since this seems to have had an effect on the divorce rate.

12. Some very young children seem to have been locked into a “Yang” way of interacting in the world, before the age of two. By the time they’ve settled into the “Yin” mold they’re usually much older, somewhere between four and seven. It seems this “Yang” identity is a reward for developing maturity very rapidly.

13. Both sets of skills work by means of a cycle of achievement and reward. A Yin is a quiet child who interacts with his parents very little; when he has something to show them, it’s usually something he drew or something he built. A Yang Child’s message is “Look At Me,” whereas a Yin Child’s message is “Look What I Made (or did).” This could explain the gender disparity: One-year-old girls are just more pleasing to the beholder, more captivating to the audience, and more assertive in seeking out that audience, than one-year-old boys.

14. Cause and Effect is mostly lost on the Yang. When they’re very young and at an age where they could form the ability to recognize such a thing, it’s useless to them in their daily lives. They live for the attention of their parents and peers, because they’ve not had problems getting it. Beyond stimulus/response exercises involving those around them, there is no cause and there is no effect, and so this skill atrophies.

15. Similarly, since the Yin fail to find incentive to interact with those around them in childhood, their ability to gauge the “vibe” of those in their presence, likewise atrophies. Their finger is not on the emotional pulse of their parents or their peers. As they mature, they go through life this way. They are handicapped when placed in situations where they are forced to anticipate the concerns of those around them.

16. The Yin are introverted socially but extroverted in vision. The things they want to do, have to do with things that other people have not yet done. They lose interest in taking on exercises that simply repeat what has been done by somebody else; they chafe at following rules they don’t understand, particularly when nobody else in proximity understands the rules either. The Yang are extroverted socially, but introverted in vision. When they have a vision, it is not so much to make things bigger, but cleaner. When they want to change things, it almost aways has to do with some contaminant agent, and the project they have identified is to sanitize an object of this contaminent. There is an attribute of universality in this object. It’s either “our office,” “my home,” “our town,” “society” or “the world.”

17. The Yin are builders of systems. They work by defining a perimeter to a mechanism, and controlling everything within that perimeter. Inside that perimeter, they behave very much the way the Yang do with the universe — they have to get it working “just so.” However, to the Yin the process of perfection is but a means to an end. Things have to run clean enough so that something else can happen. Once things are brought within those constraints, there is no point to making them any cleaner. The Yin are annoyed when being forced to recognize something outside that perimeter of the system to be managed. To the Yang, there is no perimeter; the system that has to be managed, is everything known.

18. The Yang are vulnerable to many frustrations from which the Yin have an easy escape. One of these is the Bathosplorative Crash. Since the Yang are enthusiastic about cleaning things rather than building things, after prolonged success they eventually run out of things they can do. The yearning for that sense of achievement only multiplies, and since the actual achievements must necessarily shrink as the ideal zero-point becomes closer and closer, this yearning eventually goes unfulfilled. The Yin always have another task to be pursued after something has been cleansed, since the dependent task is what made the cleansing necessary in the first place.

19. Another frustration for The Yang is that since their sphere of responsibility is infinite — or rather, extends as far as their sphere of knowledge — there is usually something happening that is going to upset them, outside of their control. When the Yin are engaged in removing an impurity from a system within a defined perimeter, and success eludes them indefinitely, they can always re-design the system and reduce the perimeter.

20. Which personality type is better prepared at dealing with life, depends on where life is. The Yin are self-engineered to deal with perplexing problems that can be solved only by a narrow band of elites, upon which important things depend. As a society matures, they have trouble finding a purpose. The Yang are self-engineered to hold court with large numbers of peers, who in turn, have little unsettled business to cause real concern. They have trouble getting the attention they crave, when the energy of those around them is focused on pressing problems which can only be resolved by someone with a different skill set.

The Yin/Yang “Foxworthy” Ruleset: These are guidelines, not rules. But they hold true, much more often than not.

1. You might be a YIN…if you like to fish.

2. You might be a YANG…if you like to talk.

3. You might be a YIN…if you solve puzzles.

4. You might be a YANG…if you “hold court.”

5. You might be a YIN…if you like computers because all your friends live inside them.

6. You might be a YANG…if you don’t like to frown.

7. You might be a YANG…if you’ve posed for a picture, smiling into the camera, with a cell phone pressed up to your ear.

8. You might be a YANG…if you have been known to ask non-rhetorical questions, with lackluster interest in finding the answer.

9. You might be a YIN…if the problems that resurface in your life, seem to spring from the wellspring that is your reluctance to draw attention.

10. You might be a YANG…if you find yourself frustrated, often, that other people don’t do things the way you would do them, if you were they.

11. You might be a YANG…if sitting in a meeting, watching someone else be the center of attention, is like having an itch you can’t scratch.

12. You might be a YIN…if sitting in a meeting, watching other people interrupt each other, when you’ve got work to do, is like having an itch you can’t scratch.

13. You might be a YANG…if, as a little kid, you ordered other kids around, or joined groups of other kids who were being ordered around.

14. You might be a YIN…if, as a little kid, you played with blocks, Lincoln Logs, Leggos or Erector Sets while the other kids ordered each other around.

15. You might be a YANG…if, liking something that almost nobody else knows about and nobody will understand, you feel an impulse to shroud this in secrecy.

16. You might be a YANG…if you’re waiting to find out where “we” are all going, and when people grumble about the lack of an actual plan, this disturbs you.

17. You might be a YIN…if you’re the guy grumbling about the lack of an actual plan, and the lack of that plan is disturbing to you.

18. You might be a YANG….if loneliness is painful to you.

19. You might be a YIN…if crowds give you hives.

20. You might be a YIN…if people often complain they don’t know “what’s going on in your head.”

21. You might be a YANG…if people often complain you don’t shut up long enough for them to answer your goddamn questions.

22. You might be a YIN…if a direct challenge to your opinion ticks you off, but you might get over it if the argument is well-thought out.

23. You might be a YANG…if a direct challenge to your opinion ticks you off, bur you might get over it if the argument makes you laugh.

24. You might be a YANG…if you have often indulged in the habit of making fun of people to get them to stop doing something.

25. You might be a YIN…if you have noticed people making fun of you for doing something, without having concrete reasons to offer for you to stop doing it.

26. You might be a YIN…if you are distracted often, misunderstand others often, forget things often.

27. You might be a YANG…if you rarely misunderstand things or forget things. Rarely…but NEVER quietly. Everything leads to a conversation.

28. You might be a YIN…if you are good at hitting deadlines, but have to write things down or else you forget them.

29. You might be a YANG…if you can remember things well but are often late.

30. You might be a YIN…if you have an insatiable desire for freedom and opportunity.

31. You might be a YANG…if you have an insatiable desire for security.

32. You might be a YIN…if, when you’re alone and bored, the first thought in your head is how to get something done.

33. You might be a YANG…if, when you’re alone and bored, the first thought in your head is where everybody went.

34. You might be a YIN…if, when spending time around people for business reasons, typically you’d much rather be somewhere else. You know this and everybody else knows it too. Good manners dictate that no one says this out loud.

35. You might be a YANG…if, when you do things, typically you aren’t very concerned about accomplishing anything and you’re much more concerned about being seen doing it. You know this and everybody else knows it too. Good manners dictate that no one says this out loud.

So there ya have it. There really isn’t too much that’s new about this theory. One timeless old joke goes, “There are two kinds of people, the ones who divide the world into two kinds of people and the ones who don’t.” And there are many ways you can divide people in half. This particular way, this “axis” if you will, this one slice across the big ol’ pizza pie — it seems to be more important than all the others. The laws of probability would determine that some of us are only affected mildly by the division, selecting as our place on the pie, some point very close to the knife. Thus it is with all the other dissections — we have liberal Republicans, effeminate males, outgoing introverts, bi-curious heterosexuals, silly-serious people.

Not so here. People seem to work, with every waking minute of every able-bodied day of their lives, to cement themselves further and further into the mold of “Yin” or “Yang” depending on which pattern they selected in toddlerhood. Nobody is close to the slice itself. If they try to get there through a mastery of both worlds, they fail at one or the other, and if they keep trying repeatedly they end up destroying themselves.

We’re All Such Independent Thinkers V

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

If you could bring John F. Kennedy back from the dead, what would he say about our current happenings? The author of this video would have you believe our only Catholic President would be horrified at the actions of the Bush administration, based on a speech he gave in the spring of 1961.

Seems like an open and shut case, right?

Not so fast. This summer, in response to the video above someone on LibertyForum named HolyKnight was able to find this complete transcript.

Some parts of it which I’ve highlighted in light blue made it into the YouTube clip. Some parts which I’ve highlighted in red, did not. That might be because where the font is red, John Fitzgerald Kennedy is talking an awful lot like John Fitzgerald Bush.


The very word “secrecy” is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country’s peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of “clear and present danger,” the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public’s need for national security.

Today no war has been declared–and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.

If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self- discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.

It requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions- -by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match.

Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security–and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

For the facts of the matter are that this nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation’s covert preparations to counter the enemy’s covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.

The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.

The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will. But I would be failing in my duty to the nation, in considering all of the responsibilities that we now bear and all of the means at hand to meet those responsibilities, if I did not commend this problem to your attention, and urge its thoughtful consideration.

On many earlier occasions, I have said–and your newspapers have constantly said–that these are times that appeal to every citizen’s sense of sacrifice and self-discipline. They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that appeal.

I have no intention of establishing a new Office of War Information to govern the flow of news. I am not suggesting any new forms of censorship or any new types of security classifications. I have no easy answer to the dilemma that I have posed, and would not seek to impose it if I had one. But I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all.

Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: “Is it news?” All I suggest is that you add the question: “Is it in the interest of the national security?” And I hope that every group in America–unions and businessmen and public officials at every level– will ask the same question of their endeavors, and subject their actions to the same exacting tests.

And should the press of America consider and recommend the voluntary assumption of specific new steps or machinery, I can assure you that we will cooperate whole-heartedly with those recommendations.

Perhaps there will be no recommendations. Perhaps there is no answer to the dilemma faced by a free and open society in a cold and secret war. In times of peace, any discussion of this subject, and any action that results, are both painful and without precedent. But this is a time of peace and peril which knows no precedent in history.


It is the unprecedented nature of this challenge that also gives rise to your second obligation–an obligation which I share. And that is our obligation to inform and alert the American people–to make certain that they possess all the facts that they need, and understand them as well–the perils, the prospects, the purposes of our program and the choices that we face.

No President should fear public scrutiny of his program. For from that scrutiny comes understanding; and from that understanding comes support or opposition. And both are necessary. I am not asking your newspapers to support the Administration, but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.

I not only could not stifle controversy among your readers–I welcome it. This Administration intends to be candid about its errors; for as a wise man once said: “An error does not become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.” We intend to accept full responsibility for our errors; and we expect you to point them out when we miss them.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed–and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment– the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution- -not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what it wants”–but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.

This means greater coverage and analysis of international news–for it is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of national security–and we intend to do it.


It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass, gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world, the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all. In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible consequences of failure.

And so it is to the printing press–to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news–that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.

That’s your First Instinct Fallacy playing out in the YouTube clip above, right there. You have a first-instinct, and subsequently all evidence that becomes available to you is filtered according to whether it fits the instinct.

The fact is, Kennedy was walking a pretty thin line here. He had just botched the Bay of Pigs invasion and three of his officials had to resign over the failure. The best information we have today, is that his administration was planning the invasion to a depth of detail he was still dodging at the time of this speech, and at the same time he was tut-tutting the press for being too diligent in exploring the matter that was an embarrassment to him. But he also wanted to extoll the virtues of leaders in democratic societies welcoming criticism of their errors…and exploration of what those errors may be.

But genuinely welcoming such inspection? Really? History doesn’t support this.

And here it is 45 years later, the speech is hauled out and put on YouTube — just carefully cherry-picked pieces of it, though — to make the current presidency look bad. Yet in the final analysis, what JFK had to say about the communists, is fundamentally no different from what GWB has to say about the Islamo-fascists. It’s exactly the same argument. Our enemy is “monolithic” in all the ways that matter; our enemy is controlled, and therefore has a cosmetic advantage over our own society, which is free; we will ultimately prevail because our society works in greater harmony with the human spirit; but victory is only possible if we respect transparency and, at the same time, national security.

Neither President, when you parse the words all the way down, is supporting an idea that transparency should be absolute. The 35th and the 43rd have it in common that they’d like to keep some things under wraps.

And the secrecy carefully embraced by the Bay State President, as it relates to the matter he was addressing in his speech, was needed to protect his image and not to protect national security. Is the same true of our current President? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the clip is just so much bull. The words are correct. To suppose Kennedy would approve of the way it is shown, depends on how sincere, and intellectually honest, our former President would want to be. He had no standing to criticize our government as it operates today. Not as far as the secrecy-vs.-transparency issue.

What’s sad is people take this kind of thing at face value. There’s actually a frame in the movie that says “GOOGLE MUTHAFUCKA, DO YA USE IT??” And if you really do use it, before you find something that embarrasses the White House, you find other things that embarrass the video…so the author of the clip better hope the answer is “no.” But in most cases, that’s the correct answer. People see images, they presume the Government is out to get ’em with every little thing it does, they find a couple quotes by Thomas Paine telling them this is what they’re supposed to be thinking, and they then labor under the belief that they must have noodled this through with some good mind-sweat, spent some good mental elbow-grease on it. All they’ve done is watch a five-minute video and believed every word in it without question.

And then if/when a Democrat takes the White House, they’ll stop being suspicious. They won’t outwardly admit that’s the process…but they’ll drop the “Big Brother’s Out To Get Me” act for forty-eight to ninety-six months straight. You won’t hear a peep out of ’em about it.

And then they’ll watch a made-for-TV movie about the Kennedy family, watch a few scenes with touch-football, Jackie in her pillbox hat, Bobbie courageously mouthing off at J. Edgar, and they’ll think they’ve become authorities on “Camelot.” Oh, I do hope people are better informed than that…before receding again into the world of Starbuck’s and Blockbuster and Krispy Kreme. I hope so. I doubt it.