August 23, 2006
Someday In The Dark With George
Here’s what I really like about George Bush. While America gets busy defining each of his acts as either stupid or an outright lie, George does something to prove just how irrelevant the discussion is. It happens every day; he’s President Old Faithful.
For example, while the media is focusing on Ned Lamont’s defeat of Joe Lieberman and how that puts a serious anti-war spin on the 2006 elections, President Old Faithful holds a press conference and declares we will remain in Iraq as long as he is in office. Then the next day the Marines start an involuntary call-up of 2,500 reservists for active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Do you think George is stupid enough to say “there is no necessity for a draft?” Or would he just be lying?
Republicans are trying to distance themselves from their southern racist image and, therefore, from Virginia Senator George Allen after Allen referred to a brown skinned American-born man as a foreign-born macaca (you know, the polite form of “jigaboo”). So what does President Old Faithful do? Does he do what’s politically correct? Does he do the honorable thing and speak out against such behavior? Does he change the subject?
Nope. He decides to host a private fund-raiser for George Allen!
I’ll tell you, George Bush has done more for making the teevee news interesting than a thousand Katie Couric colonoscopies. He’s my favorite sitcom, next to “Everybody Hates Chris.”
Karl Rove should only be spinning in his grave.
August 19, 2006
A Modest Proposal – 277 Years Later
I’m going to come right out and say it: I am in support of the 15-year ban on the conception and birth of new children. This may sound a bit radical, but I’ve always been an early adopter.
We won’t have to deal with increasing the minimum wage. Supply and demand will take care of it. Wal-Mart workers and family farmers alike will feel valued, as will capitalists in general. Before too long we will achieve near-100% employment.
The need for war will be lessened as we won’t be pounding out more cannon fodder and people who actually pay taxes certainly aren’t going to fight. Moreover, if we skip the better part of a generation we will have reduced the need for war: religious and tribal concerns that have been handed down from parent to child for over a millennium will be curtailed. By the time the first crop of new babies gets old enough to strap a bomb on their backs, somebody just might ask “wait a minute – exactly why are we doing this?”
Crime will decrease; we always blame crime on the kids anyway. Alcohol prices will drop a bit, and drivers will have more room on the highway where they can drift. It’ll be easier to get a quiet seat at a restaurant. You won’t have to be “this” high in order to get on the roller coaster; almost everybody will be “this” high. Besides, the lines will be shorter.
The money we save from our education budgets and from the condoization of schools can be moved over to rebuild our infrastructure. The money we save from our defense budget can be used to reduce our taxes. See? There’s something here for everybody.
We can hit the reboot button on our so-called natural resources. The demand for energy will drop, the need for clean water and food will drop, and America will be able to feed the world in order to maintain its GNP. And, finally, at long last, the Republicans will be right about Social Security!
Land values will freeze for a while, but I have faith in the human psyche: people will want more land with more trees and grass and flowers and stuff. This, in turn, will help clean up the air and the overall environment, and more people will be inspired to become poets.
Of course, there are negatives. There must be. I just can’t think of any. Well, I haven’t figured out who will deliver the pizza within 30 minutes, but it sounds like we can deal with that. Our cultural product will not change; it’s been geared to 12 year olds for the past five generations. Perhaps pop music will become more listenable if we have a shrinking market for hopeless, whinny tunes. Jerry Lee Lewis and the Richards – Keith and Little – will always be there to entertain us. As well as the cockroaches that ultimately succeed us.
This plan will only work if it is done on a global basis, but that’s okay as well: it’ll give Dick Cheney something to do. However, once we get back into the birthing business we will need to do so slowly in order to make appropriate adjustments.
Couples should be limited to one child every five years (I’m not heartless; they can sell twins to childless families), and – this is critical – they should have to pass a thorough written test in order to get a conception permit. No longer would the qualifications for parenthood be the ability for men to produce ejaculate and women to spread their legs twice. No longer will we produce a generation of self-righteous spoiled brats who are demonstrably dumber than the preceding generation.
The 15-year ban on the conception and birth of new children will be a win / win for everybody. Write your congressperson today!
Better still, send ‘em a card. Hallmark will need the business.
August 15, 2006
Free Speech As Private Property
In his autobiography Blinded By The Right, David Brock stated he started his drift to the right when he was a student at University of California / Berkeley. I won’t minimize his experiences by attributing this drift to one single event, but Brock notes the time when then-president Ronald Reagan’s UN ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, was viscously shouted down by a bevy of lefties when she showed up for a scheduled appearance in the school’s Jefferson Lectures series. Unable to make herself heard over the din and with her safely in jeopardy, she was denied the opportunity to speak at the very birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.
Gotta love the irony.
Shouting people down has become quite the spectator sport, and is by no means the property of the left. It has long been a major communications medium. Check out nearly any right-wing talk show (except, interestingly, G. Gordon Liddy’s) and you’ll hear the host stomp all over callers with opposing views, routinely disconnecting those who they cannot best in debate. People on the extremes of any popular issue – and there are a lot more of them than you might expect – are so polarized that any exception to their narrowly defined views makes one subject to ceaseless harassment, caterwauling, and name-calling.
The most current incarnation of this phenomenon is right here on the Internet, where people routinely get quoted, misquoted, partially quoted and quoted out of contest. Oftentimes this misinformation finds its way into the “Wikipedia,” an online disinformation source where anybody can post any lies and deceits they want which will stay there until the victim discovers the problem and figures out how to correct it. By then, of course, damage already has been done. Old time reporters, even those who grew up in the traditions of Pulitzer and Hearst, consider this an abomination – nothing more than organized mudslinging. McLuhanists recognize its inevitability.
I say this because a friend of mine dared to challenge the conventional lefty wisdom of our nation’s attitudes towards militaristic Moslem fundamentalists. Mike Baron wrote a piece called Manifesto for a blog called The Conservative Voice (http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/16827.html). Now with a name like that, you might think it would be unlikely for Mike to be advocating the Jews be driven into the Mediterranean, and you’d be right. Occasionally he indulges in techniques common to this admittedly left-wing blog, but he puts forth some interesting arguments that deserve to be heard and considered by anybody who is short of being a close-minded absolutist.
I might disagree with some or much of what Mike says, but I try to take at least one step back from being a close-minded absolutist. Please make no mistake about this: Mike Baron is one of the most intelligent and well-reasoned people I know. There are references in his work that amaze and astonish me.
Since Mike writes a lot of comic books (co-creator of Nexus, creator of The Badger, first writer on the original Punisher monthly), his comments hit the Newsarama blog (http://blog.newsarama.com/2006/08/10/mike-barons-manifesto/) and the predictable assaults were launched: Right-wing nut. A hateful, spoiled child. A sickness. Good to have a name to avoid.
That last one’s great for promoting free speech, isn’t it? Let’s avoid people with whom we disagree. Holy Ann Coulter, Batman!
Like I said, I don’t agree with everything Mike said, not half of it, and I strongly disagree with his use of the phrase “Fox ‘News’” without quotes around the latter word. But if you cut through the flippancy – the same demand I make of my readers – there are some interesting points of view here, beginning with the evaluation of the all-too-serious threat of religious fundamentalism of all stripes. That’s hardly a right-wing pro-Bush statement, as the threat Christian fundamentalists have represented ever since the First Crusade is all too serious as well.
I strongly suspect some of these same people were deeply offended when people like Neal Boorz and Bill O’Reilly brand those who disagree with them as traitors, a word synonymous in their lexicon with the words “liberal,” “democrat” and “Communist.” That, too, is ironic. These people do not understand a phenomenon that, in a fair and equitable world, is as profound as gravity.
Free speech cannot be the exclusive property of one point of view. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
I think Uncle $crooge said that.
August 09, 2006
Ding, Dong The Witch Is Dead!
It’s no secret that I’ve been a Joe Lieberman-hater for most of his 18 years as my Senator. Indeed, one of the proudest moments of my life happened when he crashed one of my Head Start events, saw my nametag, and looked over his shoulder to see if his security showed up. Therefore, it will not come as a shock that his defeat warmed the cockles of my heart.
Joe tried to paint Ned Lamont as a one-issue candidate. That wasn’t the case – the Democratic electorate didn’t care for Joe’s lack of attention to local concerns, and for some reason Democrats were equally concerned about his unproductive closeness to the president. But as it turns out, it would have been more than enough.
According to exit polling, three out of four people who voted in the primary were opposed to the war. This will have a major impact upon those running in November all across the nation. It is not good news for Republicans, and it is not good news for the dickless Democrats – in other words, nearly all of ‘em.
Joe lost by more than 10,000 votes, and that doesn’t count the record-setting number of absentee voters. And that’s despite a last minute surge of Republican and independent pro-war crossover voters that ate into Ned’s 13 point lead. The pollsters only polled Democrats, which shows up the fault of the process.
Joe filed as an independent candidate. So why do I say the witch is dead? After all, the same polls that gave Joe the 13 point lead said Joe would win in a three way race against Ned.
Well, for one thing, Connecticut is a blue state, the Republican candidate doesn’t even have the support of the Republican party (last month they tried to talk him into quitting the race), and the heavy-hitter Democrats like Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton who supported Lieberman in the primary were tripping over each other to make good on their promise to support the winner of that primary. Typically and hypocritically, Hillary already started damage control last week.
But, most important, Joe Lieberman is a three-time loser. He lost (effectively) the 2000 vice-presidental race. In fact, he had so little confidence in Al Gore that he simultaneously ran for reelection to the senate, which all of a sudden doesn’t sit well with Connecticut Democrats. He ran for president in 2004 and couldn’t even make that “three-way tie for third place” he bragged about. And now he couldn’t even get his own party’s nomination for another term. That almost never happens.
Come November, Ned Lamont will become Connecticut’s next senator.