Thursday, September 30, 2004
Two Must-Reads and One Must-Be-Joking
I've been trying to post links to these columns for a while now, but ISP problems kept me off line.
These first two items are syndicated columns that ran in my local paper. So, you’ve likely seen them too. If not, don’t miss them:
n Max Boot on War-Time Presidents:
Sen. John Kerry is right to accuse President George W. Bush of "colossal failures of judgment" in Iraq. These range from decisions taken in the early days of the occupation, such as the premature disbanding of Iraq's army, to more recent missteps, such as allowing Fallujah to become a terrorist sanctuary.
Reading the depressing headlines, one is tempted to ask: Has any president in U.S. history ever botched a war or its aftermath so badly?
Actually, yes. Most wartime presidents have made catastrophic blunders, from James Madison's losing his capital to the British in 1814 to Harry Truman's getting embroiled with China in 1950. Errors tend to shrink in retrospect if committed in a winning cause (Korea); they get magnified in a losing one (Vietnam).
Boot even finds common ground between Dubya and Lincoln:
As the Union's fortunes fell, opponents tarred Lincoln with invective that might make even Michael Moore blush. Harper's magazine called him a "despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, usurper, monster, ignoramus." As late as the summer of 1864, Lincoln appeared likely to lose his bid for re-election. Only the fall of Atlanta on Sept. 2 saved his presidency.
n J.R. Labbe on Kerry, Bush, and the U.N.:
Under what the world now knows was a compromised U.N. oil-for-food program, France was sending boats and boat accessories as "relief items" in exchange for access to Iraq's oil reserves.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan personally OK'd $20 million in "humanitarian aid" for Odai Hussein, Saddam's son, to construct an Olympic sports complex. As the world also now knows, Odai's treatment of his nation's athletes was anything but humane.
Fast-forward to when Annan -- just days before Bush was scheduled to make his annual address to the U.N. -- called the U.S. and British actions in Iraq "an illegal war" that has violated "international law."
Well, it's crystal-clear which U.S. presidential candidate Annan prefers.
Too bad for Kerry that Annan and his European colleagues can't vote here.
n Oh, yeah… this one slipped by me last week…
The local paper, The Roanoke Times, must be hell bent on producing and printing the most inept editorials imaginable. For instance, their ramble about the fallout from memogate contained some real gems…
On the current state of the media:
Passive or careless reporting on major issues such as Iraq taints even once notoriously hard-nosed operations such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and CBS. Partisan Web logs - accountable to no one and often mixing disinformation with fact - and naked bias at Fox News and other outlets further diminish overall credibility.
You read that right. The editorial writer acknowledges memogate, and even manages to use the word “bias,” but he has the gaul to direct that word at an outfit OTHER than CBS News! OH, yeah, you betcha. The problem isn’t Dan Rather’s liberal bias! Goodness, Gracious, No! Why, Dan ISN’T BIASED AT ALL! He just made a wittle ol' mistake, by God! In fact, the real problem is those right wing nutcases over at Fox News and you shameful, shameful bloggers! Tsk, tsk, you bloggers. Tsk tsk!
Oh, and it gets better:
CBS and Dan Rather should pay a price for relying on bogus evidence. So should Fox, for its shamelessly reactionary news slant.
Do you get the feeling the writer was snickering when he came up with that one? It smacks of some sort of underhanded, childish quid-pro-quo: “OK, fine, if you bloggers are gonna bring CBS down, we’re going after Fox!”
Is it just me, or is that you you read it?
The Roanoke Times’ list of people who should pay a price continues:
And so should those owners and managers who deprive their staffs of the resources needed to chase down the complex stories that matter, and apply rigorous standards of journalism to those stories. So should those who clamp down on editorial independence and silence dissenting voices to advance business and political interests. So, too, the purveyors of nonsense, and worse, on the Internet.
That’s right, bloggers. If your posted opinions are in any way different from those held by the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times, then you are a purveyor of nonsense and you should pay a price for it. Maybe you should have your pajamas taken away and be forced to sleep in your undies.
But the kicker is the closing line:
America needs to shake the watchdogs awake.
Attention Roanoke Times: The real watchdogs are wide awake. If you don’t understand that, maybe Dan Rather could explain it to you while he's nursing his badly bitten hindquarters.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Bumper Stickers, Etc.
n Based on a thorough, concise, and highly scientific poll conducted by Wendy and me over the weekend, I now predict that the president is going to win the election with about 58% of the popular vote.
This prediction is based on a poll conducted by counting Bush and Kerry bumper stickers and yard signs on the way to pick up my son on Friday and then on the way to drop him off with his mother again on Sunday evening. The results were as follows:
Candidates for President
George W. Bush: 23 bumper stickers and/or signs
John F. Kerry: 17 bumper stickers and/or signs
Charlton Heston: 1 bumper sticker
Willie By-God Nelson: 1 bumper sticker
Most of the cars we saw with bumper stickers were, sadly, cars of the “single sticker” variety. Wendy and I are both bumper-sticker type people. We wear our politics on our sleeves… or, rather, on our cars. I guess it’s a holdover from my days as an avid punk rock fan and Wendy’s days on tour with Phish. (No kidding. My girlfriend is a reformed Phish fan. Go figure.)
Anyway, being bumper sticker fans ourselves, we both enjoy seeing cars with a few stickers to read and talk about. To prove my status as a proud bumper sticker displayer, here are a couple of pictures of the back bumper of the Geo Metro that I drive to work every day...
This is on the bumper to the left of the license plate:
And this is on the bumper to the right:
I figure those stickers entitle me to conduct highly scientific bumper sticker polls. By the way, we didn’t count the Bush/Cheney stickers on either of our own cars. We’d have used them for tie-breakers, but it wasn’t necessary.
I missed a lot of internet time over the last week, as I was trying to work some overtime and catch up on my lost wages. Now that I’ve had time to read some of the blogging I’ve been missing out on, I see that it’s been a busy week with lots to talk about. Just a couple of other items that I noticed as well:
n One of my literary heroes is Kurt Vonnegut. In fact, it’s safe to call the guy my favorite writer. I’ve always liked the way he combines humor, science fiction, and utopian dreams of a society where things like family and common decency are of the utmost importance. His books mean the world to me. So I should have known that when he opened his mouth about politics, I’d be bummed out:
Nobody needs to tell Kurt Vonnegut to stop beating around the Bush. "They're adroit criminals," the 81-year-old literary lion labeled President Bush and his underlings while riding in a taxi with Lowdown's Hudson Morgan to Wednesday night's 27th anniversary party for In These Times, the paleoliberal magazine.
I found that quote while searching the net for quotes or passages from Vonnegut. Wendy and I are getting married next month, and our mutual love of Kurt Vonnegut’s work was the initial bond that helped form our early friendship. We decided that we’d like to have our minister include a passage from Vonnegut in the ceremony, if we could find something appropriate. Instead, I found the quote above. I also found this item by Cathy Young:
How many German soldiers did the Nazis prosecute for torturing and killing Jews? The question is so ludicrous it's obscene -- just like Vonnegut's next barb: "Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler." Besides its venom and extremism, Vonnegut's rant is notable for its utter lack of recognition of any evil except America. In his world, there seems to be no terrorism, no Islamo-fascism, no regimes that brutalize their own people and pose a threat to others. For me, a longtime admirer of Vonnegut's novels such as "Cat's Cradle," the article was a painful read.
I can relate, Cathy. The old guy’s work has been comforting and reassuring to me in the past. Doesn’t it suck when our heroes, with their own short-sightedness, reveal themselves to be only human after all?
n I also came across an article about my pal Michael Moore by by Nolan Scaperotti. I knew I’d like it from the opening paragraph:
Michael Moore calls himself a man of the people, so it seems odd that throughout his career he has demonstrated that he has no respect for the people he works with, the innocent victims he slanders in his films, and the audience to which he broadcasts his “documentaries.” Actually, the man seems to have respect for no one other than himself.
There’s nothing startlingly new in the article; at least, nothing that will come as news to those of us who try to watch the Michigan sleezebag’s every move… nonetheless, it’s nice to see someone else wake up to reality of the evil that is Michael Moore.
And by the way, I've decided to put and honest-to-God picture of myself at the top of this blog. I'm big on protecting my anonymity, and I'd been rotating the covers of favorite albums as the top graphic. Not any more. I'm out of my shell. The grinning idiot wearing bibbed overalls in the blurry picture at the top of the right column is yours truly.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Light Blogging / Way To Go, Bloggers
I'll be doing little to no blogging for the next little while. I've been offered some overtime at work and I have to make up for the days I missed when I got burned. (I can't turn down overtime, I'm not one of those wealthy chicken pluckers.)
Meanwhile, if you're looking for some good reading, there's a great blogroll to the right of this post.
And by the way, congrats, bloggers.
Saturday, September 18, 2004
The other day someone posted what I thought were some intelligent opposing arguments in the comments section here at this blog. The writer encouraged me to respond by e-mail, which I did, and I told him I’d like to post my response at the blog if he didn’t object. My idea being that if he (she? I’m not sure.) was interested in a private conversation about the issues, I’d keep it private. Well, I never heard back, so I’m assuming that he/she doesn’t want to discuss the issues further and that he/she doesn’t object to me posting my comments. As I said in the e-mail, I thought that the comments were really well thought out and intelligent, and I think that the opportunity to exchange ideas in a civil manner with people we disagree with is one of the best things about blogging. So I’m posting clips from the comments, with my responses, in the hopes that in some small way this will promote civil discourse between people with opposing viewpoints:
n What is wrong with George W. Bush? I don't mean the little imperfections that we all have, I mean what are his serious problems, in your opinion, the ones that would/should discourage voters from supporting him?
I see what you’re getting at here. No person is perfect, so no president is perfect, and it does seem that a lot of us conservatives support Bush blindly. I think the reason for that is because it’s been such an ugly campaign. In fact, the Bush-bashing has been really bad since before the campaign started, and Kerry has taken his share of unfair hits as well. With Bush, though, the hatred that’s been aimed at him by those who disagree with him has been extraordinary. The whole “Bush is Hitler / Bush is an idiot / Bush is evil” rap really brings conservatives to his defense pretty adamantly, so it sure looks like everyone either hates Dubya with a passion or thinks he walks on water. In reality, we’re both reacting to the extreme fringes of our two sides of the political argument. I imagine that there’s more common ground in the mainstream of both parties than one might think these days.
So, for the record, I don’t think Bush is perfect. My support of him is largely rooted in the way he’s responded to 9/11, based on my belief that the only way to deal with terrorists is with active, aggressive, dogged pursuit of them and those who support them. Dubya has won me over in the last three years, but I must confess that I didn’t vote for him in 2000. I was a McCain supporter and felt that Bush was a far inferior candidate to John McCain… so as my own little “protest,” I voted for the Libertarian candidate.
The areas where I disagree with Bush include:
1) Immigration. Bush panders on this issue and simply isn’t tough enough on illegal aliens. I have nothing against legit immigrants, but illegals should be treated like the criminals that they are until they are willing to become legal immigrants.
2) Iraq: I think the president waited too long to invade. We should have been in there before the end of 2002. We had every legal, moral, and ethical reason to topple Saddam long before 9/11 ever even happened. Once it did, however, I think we should have crushed his regime before he saw us coming instead of giving him time to disperse his WMDs before we got there.
3) The Marriage Amendment: Bush is dead wrong on this issue. This is something that should be decided by the states. It would “dumb down” the Constitution. I have more faith in the states than that. I think he has supported the amendment because he knows it’s dead in the water, so it’s an easy way to appeal to his base without really doing anything. I think he’s going for the P.R. on that one.
4) North Korea: I was steadfastly with the president when his policy toward North Korea was one of passive engagement. Each move he makes to soften that stance disappoints me greatly.
5) The Death Penalty: I oppose it. He’s for it.
n Liberals, like me, it is said are their own worst enemies, because part of our philosophical DNA involves respect for other points of view. We force ourselves to try and see where the opponent is coming from. Yes, I know you can name a dozen prominent left-wing exceptions to that rule. But I'm not talking about exceptions, I'm talking about the common perception. The common perception of conservatives is that they are not burdened by such pluralistic fantasies, and feel little need to respect or even listen to other points of view.
The funny thing about this is that I think a lot of us conservatives think that the situation is exactly the opposite: We see ourselves as more tolerant, more accepting of different opinions, and we see liberals as very intolerant, very politically correct, and out to silence any group or individual that disagrees with their ideas about diversity, politics, the economy, environment, etc. Again, I think we’re each reacting to the extreme elements on each side rather than the mainstream. It’s the extreme left that reacts to conservatives by comparing us to Hitler, calling us racist if we don’t support affirmative action, and insisting that we’re all blood-thirsty war pigs. Conversely, it’s the extreme right that over reacts to all liberals, calling them all godless, communist hippy-scum. Even the ones who are clean-cut, God-fearing capitalists.
n I am a supporter of Kerry. And this supporter of Kerry is now saying that much of what you wrote here as criticism of Kerry is true. And it disgusts me. But I support Kerry because in Bush I see worse. Blatant shortcomings, ones that transcend ideology or politics for me. Enough serious problems that it is impossible for me to believe that any thinking person is blind to them, even if they do consider Kerry's shortcomings to be worse.
We’re at opposite sides of that issue, that’s obvious. But, I would like to hear more of your opinion, and I’ll gladly post it here and try to respond to it in kind. What are the shortcomings that you see in Bush? Most of mine area areas where he simply isn’t conservative enough for me, so it’s probably not likely that you and I agree on exactly what the shortcomings are. Nonetheless, I’d like to hear more of your opinion. You presented yourself well with your first comments, and I'm confident that you'd continue to do so.
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Buggin' the Editor
On Saturday, the third anniversary of 9/11, my area newspaper ran the editorial below. I'm not typically a letter-to-the-editor writer, but I wrote them a pretty angry letter in response. They opted not to print it. So I'm posting both the editorial and my response at my blog. So, kiss my bloggin' butt, Roanoke Times:
Less Safe After 9/11
Three years after 9/11, the U.S.-led war on terror is disastrously off-track, bogged down in a needless war in Iraq that has diverted the nation's attention and resources away from the enemy that vows to attack again.
Al-Qaida and its leaders have not been obliterated. Long before that job was done, a Bush administration obsessed with the evil of Saddam Hussein was busily shifting America's response from Afghanistan - and al-Qaida - to Iraq.
Iraq had no role in 9/11. Yet today, Saddam is gone from power. Osama bin Laden is not.
Worse, unlike immediately after 9/11, if bin Laden were captured or killed today, the threat he represents would not lessen.
By shorting U.S. forces in Afghanistan, whose ruling Taliban sheltered al-Qaida training camps, to attack Iraq, where the only suspected al-Qaida camps lay in territory the Saddam regime did not control, the Bush administration handed bin Laden a political victory.
Bush transformed a retaliatory attack that all the world supported into an invasion that looked to much of the world like a war of aggression, and to Muslims like a religious crusade.
Bin Laden's claims seemed to be confirmed: that the United States would attack Muslim lands, occupy its holy sites and take control of the oil. His followers grew in number and, with or without him, a protracted war of terror against the West was assured.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, was left unreconstructed and open to terrorists again. Iran and North Korea, emboldened by limits on a U.S. military stuck in Iraq, accelerated nuclear weapons programs. In America, homeland security remains alarmingly underfunded, and $150 billion already appropriated for Iraq grows by about $5 billion each month.
A depressing assessment of the Iraq invasion's impact on the war on terror appears in October's Atlantic magazine. Writer James Fallows, having talked over many months with people "at the working level of America's antiterrorism efforts," reports:
"As a political matter, whether the United States is now safer or more vulnerable is of course ferociously controversial.... But among national-security professionals there is surprisingly little controversy. Except for those in government and in the opinion industries whose job it is to defend the administration's record, they tend to see America's response to 9/11 as a catastrophe."
One the president should not be allowed to worsen - or repeat.
To which I responded:
The editorial entitled "Less Safe After 9/11," published on the third anniversary of that awful day, represents terribly irresponsible political posturing on the writer's part. I have to wonder if the writer's intention was to illicit angry responses from conservatives. If so, count me among those who took the bait.
The writer insists that Iraq had no role in 9/11. How confident and definitive! However, the 9/11 commission's report certainly doesn't back up that assertion. The report finds that top al-Qaeda operatives met with Iraq's government in 1998, and that in 1999, Saddam offered safe haven to bin Laden. Would the writer have us believe that the relationship between Saddam's government and al-Qaeda was innocuous?
The writer further calls the US invasion of Iraq a "political victory for bin Laden." In 1993, President Clinton treated al-Qaeda's first attack on the world trade center as an isolated crime rather than an act of war. Had Clinton pursued bin Laden and those who gave him safe haven as tenaciously as President Bush has, 9/11 may never have happened. We'll never know. However, we do know that Clinton handed bin Laden the only real political victory he's ever claimed over a US president, and that three years ago he capitalized on that victory with an act of terrible violence.
The writer also says that Moslems see Bush's invasion of Iraq as a religious crusade. That's dumbfounding. In reality, the Islamic fascists who threaten this country and the rest of the free world have declared a religious crusade against us. They did so long before we invaded Iraq. To even imply that Bush introduced dogma to this war is idiotic. In doing so, the writer reveals his own distaste for Bush's faith, and nothing more.
Finally, the writer quotes James Fallows, who asserts that certain unnamed National Security professionals see America's response to 9/11 as a catastrophe. If I were sympathetic to the writer's agenda, I'd still insist that this is unreliable, anecdotal, and proves nothing. Since I'm not sympathetic, I can call this assertion what it is: a barefaced political ploy. Again, the writer reveals his own predispositions, but nothing about national security.
In 2004, the way elite leftist intellectuals reaffirm their standing with one and other is by bashing the president, even at the expense of common sense and scruples. I'm sure the editorial writer enjoyed the accolades of his contemporaries upon publication of Saturday's piece. Nonetheless, from the rest of us, he should expect rebukes such as this one, or simple, silent contempt.
Not Funny Ha Ha, Funny Strange
n"The Iraqi Army is in such bad shape now even the Italians could kick their butts."
n"(Bill Weld) takes more vacations than the people on welfare."
n"I thank you for the gift (a simi-automatic shotgun), but I can't take it to the debate with me."
Maybe Kerry can begin looking for work as a stand-up comedian after he loses the election this November. No, wait... what am I thinking? He already has a job as a stand-up comedian in the Senate.
And in her continuing efforts to prove that stand up comedy is a family affair, Teresa Heinz Rodham Kerry had the following to say to anyone who plans to send clothing to Caribbean hurricane survivors:
"Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids. Water is necessary, and then generators, and then food, and then clothes."
Yep, clothing is not a necessity. Stop, you Kerrys, you're killing me.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
Party With Under-Age Girls! Rock Bottom Prices!
Wanna get up to no good with some hot teenage girls? All you gotta do is come on down to Blacksburg, Virginia, where a night of all the underage action you want will cost you just a hundred bucks! Well, uh… that is, it’ll cost you just a hundred bucks if you are the quarterback of Virginia Tech’s prized college football team. It won’t hurt, too, if your brother is the quarterback for an NFL team:
Suspended Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick avoided jail yesterday by pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge stemming from a night of drinking with underage girls.
Vick, the younger brother of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, settled on the plea agreement rather than pursuing an appeal of a juvenile-court conviction and 30-day jail sentence on three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
As part of the agreement, Vick received a suspended 30-day jail sentence, was fined $100 and ordered to perform 24 hours of community service. The judge also prohibited Vick from contacting the teenage girls who were at the party.
Vick was arrested in February with teammates Mike Imoh and Brenden Hill after an encounter with 14- and 15-year-old girls at the quarterback's apartment in Blacksburg, Va.
While Vick was acquitted of a charge of having sex with one of the girls, he had been sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $2,250 for the other charges. (emphasis mine.)
Yep, gettin’ up to no good with teens is pretty affordable in Blacksburg, VA… and Marcus Vick likes to keep the party rockin! Alan Smodic writes:
One would think that Vick would learn his lesson from one run-in with the law, but just last month he was pulled over in his car and eventually pleaded guilty to reckless driving and no contest to marijuana possession.
Many of us would give anything just to be known as Michael Vick's brother, let alone have at least half the football talent he possesses. The man who does, however, acts as if it is no big deal.
Imagine if you had been given a free education by a respectable university and a chance to play football at a winning program -- and then were suspended for a year because you couldn't stay out of trouble.
It’s no wonder that the internet is over-run with ugly, mocking parodies of the Virginia Tech football program.
Blog Fever Spreads
The point of this is that Wendy and I have started a shared blog dedicated to film, movie reviews, etc. We'll post whenever we feel like it, but not daily... and Wendy will likely be more active on that blog than I will.
It's called film geeks. There's a thumbnail pic of the page below. If you're curious, click the thumbnail.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Run! It's THE BLOG!!
The poster was produced by his wife, Sharon. Click her name or the poster itself to see more of her brilliance.
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Sting has been an ardent activist for many causes, but he's not getting involved in the U.S. presidential election.
He and fellow singer Annie Lennox said they admired the efforts of two dozen musicians on a tour aimed at ousting President Bush, but couldn't join them because they are British citizens.
"It wouldn't be our place to do that, we're guests in this country and we don't have a vote," Sting said in a recent phone interview. "Some of my friends are on that tour and I think it's laudable what they're doing."
It’s nice to hear from liberal-minded musicians who don’t come off as raving nutcases. I disagree with Sting and Annie politically, but they’ve expressed their views without coming off like high-minded jackasses, and I am grateful for that. It makes it easier to listen to their music without bad associations. When musicians rant and rave like Eddie Vedder, it makes it hard to enjoy their music quite as much. I’m a staunch conservative who LOVES Pearl Jam (I even have a tattoo of their stick-figure symbol), so trust me on this one.
By the way, I love it when a musician goes against the tide and expresses a common sense point of view on the war. I'm not a huge KISS fan, but Gene Simmons rules. Check out what he has to say at his website:
Yesterday had a day off and MSNBC'S SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY had me on the air to comment about the deluge of celebrities getting involved in politics. On the panel were RON REAGAN, PAT BUCHANAN and SCARBOROUGH.
My stance has always been the same. I am no one's mouthpiece and I have no political agenda. I was a big fan of Pres Clinton and I support Pres Bush's foreign policy. I may not agree with all of the stances our President takes (disagree on Stem Cell research, separation of Church and State, Environmental issues, and Abortion). However, this is a time of war. I can worry about the other issues next year.
Politics are very self serving. We all know the same thing....which is to say, a Terrorist doesn't really hate Democrats or Republicans. He hates AMERICANS. All this infighting within the political parties is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
We need to shut up and get rid of the worldwide menace.
Then we can turn on each other and fight all the petty, non-life threatening political battles.
And finally and for the record, if Mr. Kerry is elected President I will certainly support him. I also believe his foreign policy wouldn't be all that different from Mr. Bush's. The troops must finish the job. NOW. And, they will.
Bernard Goldberg Must Be Loving This
I’d call myself 80% convinced that the CBS National Guard memos are fakes. I’m trying to be as skeptical as possible, and I do allow for the possibility that the memos are legitimate. Still, the evidence against them seems pretty strong, and CBS’s assertion that we should just take their word based on their credentials doesn’t sell me. Did you see Rather’s angry rebuke of the internet and bloggers on Friday’s broadcast? Maybe it’s just me, but it seemed that he was having a hard time containing himself. The guy looked livid. This is bound to provide enough material for a wonderful chapter in Bernard Goldberg’s next book. He’s already spoken out about it:
"This is what happens when a news organization operates in a bubble — a comfy liberal elite bubble," former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg told Ratherbiased.com, a Web site devoted solely to monitoring Mr. Rather. "They wanted the story to be true, so they apparently minimized or ignored any information that contradicted their preconceived notions."
I visit ratherbiased.com from time to time, and have linked to it from this blog since day one. They’ve been all over this story:
n Who were CBS’s Sources? Over at the liberal grassroots site IndyMedia, Pablo Kristophoros says that the disputed memos cited by CBS are in author Kitty Kelley's upcoming book The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. How great would it be if the source for the CBS story was somehow irrefutably revealed to be Kitty Kelley? I’d get a huge kick out of watching Rather dance around that one.
n CBS has made up stories out of whole cloth before. In 1998, 60 Minutes had to issue the following apology, courtesy of Lesley Stahl: "Last April, during a story about how easy it was for trucks carrying drugs to get through Customs at the Mexican border near San Diego, we showed a memo written by Customs District Director Rudy Camacho, which urged quick processing of trucks belonging to what had been described as a known drug smuggler. But since our report, the Customs Service has concluded that memo was a forgery. In a letter to California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the commissioner says the Customs Internal Affairs Department thoroughly investigated the memo and concluded it was a hoax, and that neither District Director Camacho nor anyone else ever put out such a memo."
All of this makes me proud to be a member of the blogosphere and another cog in the big right-wing wheel. If we’re able to keep these guys on their toes… if we’re able to get them to concentrate more on reporting news and less on creating it… then we’ve really accomplished something and the world is a little better for it.
Dance, Dan, dance! Bernie is watching!
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Autumn in South Appalachia
We still have eight tomato plants and three pepper plants that are producing. This late in the year, it’s easy to feel sick and tired of fresh produce, so we remind ourselves how much we’ll miss vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh green beans and tender young peppers this winter when we’re eating frozen and canned foods that are only marginally fit to eat.
Wendy and I have been canning our own vegetables this summer. It's a new process for a Long Island girl like Wendy, but I grew up in this area and can well remember my mother, grandmother, and aunts spending long days and nights canning tomatoes, beans, corn, and home-made pickles. Hopefully, we'll have enough to last a while, although Wal-Mart will fill the void with Birds Eye, Green Giant, and the other flavorless staples.
This afternoon I gathered a big take of tomatoes from the garden and brought them in the house and sorted them out into three sections: Ones to be canned, ones to be “brown bagged” until they’re a bit more ripe, and ones too irresistible to do anything with other than eat in the next ten minutes. As the last harvests are gathered, we’re once again using up every bit of counter space in the kitchen for garden stuffs. There’s a cupboard in our dining room that usually only has a few family photographs on top of it, but right now is also providing temporary storage space for vegetables and mason jars.
I took an armload of small, red tomatoes to the top of that cupboard this evening, as the sun was setting, and took a moment to contemplate the still life in front of me there. There was just something about it that I found calming and comforting. That image of late summer veggies, mason jars and family photos all collected atop a kitchen cupboard somehow summed up everything I love about life here in South Appalachia, which is really all I know about America. I couldn’t let the moment pass undocumented.
I grabbed the digital camera (which I’ve come to think of as a better and better investment with each passing day) and took a quick shot. I don’t know if any one other than me will have an emotional reaction to the image below. It may be a regional thing, or an entirely personal reaction unique to me alone. I’m posting it anyway.
Call it “Autumn in South Appalachia.”
Friday, September 10, 2004
War Blogs. (War Blogs?)
That cover art illustrates a piece at Las Vegas City Life about “war bloggers.” It's the typical print piece about bloggers, explaining first what a blog is and then portraying bloggers as one part Thomas Payne and one part talk-show-call-in-nutcase, if you know what I mean:
Admittedly, war blogging is a subset of a subculture.
First there are blogs, or online Web logs, which started as essentially journals by regular individuals from all walks of life. Blogs are pared down, less formal versions of personal Websites with the added feature that many allow readers to post their comments.
Blogs are electronic journals that combine the qualities of a newspaper editorial page with a more instantaneous venue than 24-hour cable news (both because it eschews the corporate structure and isn't dictated by a predetermined time schedule). After 9/11, conservative blogs erupted, covering the "blogosphere" like wild flowers.
The piece profiles two local bloggers in specific, a writer named James Hudnall and one member of the Conservative Brotherhood, Damon Thornton. In fact, the best thing about the piece is that it turned me on to those blogs, which I checked out and enjoyed and added to my blogroll. I have to admit, the piece was a bit kinder to bloggers than I expected it to be, given that the cover art and the illustration inside were rather alarming:
I’m still new to blogging, having only been at it myself for about three months. Like Hudnall and Thornton, I’d resist being labeled a “war blogger,” although I support the war effort. I’m comfortable calling myself “conservative,” obviously… and my beliefs do lean toward libertarian. But the term “war blogger” conjures up images that fit the illustration above. Besides, pigeon holes are for pigeons.
Check out Hud’s blog and and the Conservative Brotherhood, a collective of right-thinking African American bloggers that includes Damon Thornton. I’m glad I learned about them, and for that, the LVCL article was worth reading.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Bush To Undecided Voters: Choose Kerry
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, I'm not trying to sway those who disagree with me or hate me," said Mr. Bush. "'Cause I don't want to spend the next four years beholden to a bunch of people who can't make up their minds quickly when given a clear choice. I'll have plenty of votes if I just inspire the people who agree with me to go vote for me."
...Mr. Bush also said he doesn't want undecided voters slowing down the lines...
"You'll be standing there scratching your ear over which chad to punch, while my supporters will be stuck behind you, eager to vote and get back to business," he said. "If you're undecided, just vote for Kerry and high-tail it out of there. Then when I win, you can tell all your friends you were disenfranchised again."
So funny, so true.
Teresa, Kitty and Michael, Oh My!
n Teresa Heinz-Kerry kept her mouth shut as long as she could… and choking back all the bile that she is used to spewing gave her a tummy ache. Now, she’s back on the warpath, doing everything she can to raise the wince-factor associated with her husband’s campaign. I’m starting to wonder if THK might actually be a GOP mole, tasked with the burden of spewing rhetoric designed to drive people away from her husband. Her latest missive is the notion that only an idiot would oppose her husband’s health-care plan. Forget the notion that there might be legitimate, intellectual reasons to oppose Kerry’s plan. Forget any grand ideas you might have about areas where Kerry’s plan falls short. If you oppose it, you’re an idiot:
Teresa Heinz Kerry said Wednesday that "only an idiot" would fail to support her husband's health care plan. "Of course, there are idiots," Heinz Kerry stated. If Kerry is elected, Heinz Kerry predicted that opponents of his health care plan would be voted out of office. "Only an idiot wouldn't like this," she said ... I don't have to sell it - the people want it," Heinz Kerry said of the health plan. "The common man doesn't look at me as some rich witch. I talk about what I see. It has always been so. You judge people not by their pocketbook but by their actions. Walk the walk."
n I am a fan of the Fox News Channel. Yes, I think that they do put a right wing spin on the news, and I like that. Nonetheless, they’ve fallen in line with CNN when it comes to downplaying Bush’s post-convention bump. Other news sources, like Time, called the bump a double digit lead… but Fox calls it “razor thin.”
n Kitty Kelley’s new book full of sensationalist charges against the Bush family is already unraveling. Kelly’s source that Dubya used coke at Camp David was, supposedly, estranged former sister-in-law Sharon Bush… but not so fast:
"I categorically deny that I ever told Kitty Kelley that George W. Bush used cocaine at Camp David or that I ever saw him use cocaine at Camp David. When Kitty Kelley raised drug use at Camp David, I responded by saying something along the lines of, 'Who would say such a thing?' Sharon Bush then added, “Although there have been tensions between me and various members of the Bush family, I cannot allow this falsehood to go unchallenged."
n I’ve heard Michael Moore called a lot of things this year… and I’ve called him many of those things myself… but who’d have thought that there were movie makers out there who are so dishonest that Moore might be called honest by comparison? Yikes:
Michael Moore, watch out: The left- wing sister-brother act of Robert and Rory Kennedy has a new propaganda piece set to air on HBO tonight about the "dangers" of the Indian Point power plant — and it's likely to make Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" drivel seem a model of objectivity.
n And speaking of movies, there is a film festival I might actually enjoy. While I’d probably go into spasms trying to keep myself from punching people at Cannes and Sundance, I think I’d actually enjoy myself at the American Film Renaissance:
At the upcoming American Film Renaissance film festival you won’t find Fahrenheit 9/11 or Bowling for Columbine, but Michael Moore’s presence will be writ large as two Moore-bashing documentaries, Michael Moore Hates America and Michael and Me, which will have their world premieres. A third movie premiering at the festival, George W. Bush: Faith in the White House, “will serve as an alternative” to Moore's anti-Bush Fahrenheit 9/11,” David W. Balsiger, the producer and director of the film told WorldNewsDaily.com. American Film Renaissance -- which will screen more than a dozen other films made for and by conservatives -- is geared toward taking “the offense” in America’s forty-year-old culture wars, says festival organizer Jim Hubbard.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
For Some, Labor Day is No Celebration
This weekend, Stefan Gleason wrote a great op-ed piece about the corruption of labor unions. One of the centerpieces of democracy, the secret ballot, is a road-block for labor union leaders and organizers who aim to force their will upon the workplace:
In June, a narrowly divided (National Labor Relations) Board voted to reconsider prior precedent that bars employees from demanding expedited secret ballot elections to throw out an unwanted union imposed on them as a result of a "card check" drive.
Appearing at a news conference on Capitol Hill in support of related legislation introduced by Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., that would require secret ballot elections in all cases, Dana employee Clarice Atherholt explained: "We're simply asking for a secret ballot vote so that we can have a say in our future without being intimidated or harassed."
Unfortunately, Big Labor and its partisans don't agree. Sens. John Kerry, John Edwards and Kennedy, along with 14 other senators and 31 members of Congress, recently joined together to file a "friend of the court" brief arguing against Atherholt and the other disenfranchised workers.
Before I write about labor unions, I should probably begin with a full disclosure: I am an industrial laborer. To be specific, I work in a paper mill and I am a member of the local labor union. I live in Virginia, a right-to-work state, and union membership is not compulsory where I live. I am a member of the local union because I have chosen to join, not because I have had to. I joined the union because I wanted to be able to vote on the labor/management issues that affect me. As I see it, joining the union was a no-brainer. Membership at my mill is close to 100%.
I believe that the good wages I enjoy and that the relatively safe and usually comfortable workplace I work in are largely mine because the labor union fought for them years ago. I know that there was a time when factory work (in general and at my specific mill) wasn’t much of a life. The wages were low, the conditions were more dangerous, and workers felt owned by the mill. I know that the unions fought long and hard to change things, and I benefit from that change. For that, I am grateful to those who came before me. I know that without them, my life wouldn’t be as good as it is today.
I also know that things have changed.
Both locally and nationally, labor unions are the most corrupt, ineffective, disingenuous organizations in the country today. On a local level, my experiences with our union have been almost entirely negative. I’ve learned that, locally, my union representation is indifferent to the needs and concerns of most of the workers in the mill. Our union (and this is typical) is steered by officers and executive committee members who hold the same older seniority ranks. Therefore, they’re only concerned about issues that affect people who have older seniority. The standard response from shop stewards and officers when a younger person goes to them with a problem is ”Contractually, there’s nothing we can do about it.” However, when an issue affects workers who have more seniority, then they try to rally up the troops and remind us that we’re in a “brotherhood,” that we must “stand together,” and that a union is “like a family.” Frankly, it’s bullshit.
On a national level, it’s worse. Labor Unions spend millions of dollars collected from their membership to campain for Democrats. This may be fine with members who are democrats, but those members aren't a majority. I’m disgusted with the fact that some small amount of my union dues is going toward the Kerry campaign. I’ve managed to become a little bit of a gadfly at my mill by complaining about that. Most of my co-workers are conservative. They, like me, resent working for the Kerry campaign. And the number of us who support George W. Bush at my facility far outnumbers those who support Kerry. The irony would be funny, if it didn’t bother me so much: A factory with a parking lot full of cars with Dubya bumper stickers is itself full of workers paying union dues that contribute to the Kerry campaign. Short of dropping out of the union, there’s nothing we can do about it. And we're the lucky ones. In many states, the only way to change it is to quit your job. Read the following from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research:
Eighty percent of unionized workers laboring under forced-dues contracts added up to 8.5 million private sector employees in 1992. With 45% of those workers rejecting Bill Clinton at the polls, the fact is that nearly 4 million private sector employees were forced to contribute to Clinton's campaign with their compulsory union dues.
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves," wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1779, "is sinful and tyrannical." What was tyrannical then is tyrannical now.
Hopefully, there is some change to come. One more reason why it’s so important that we re-elect George W. Bush is that he has worked hard to force labor unions to tell their members what they are doing with our dues. Of course, big labor has fought the president tooth and nail. As Bush’s Department of Labor has pushed for reform of Labor Unions, the AFL-CIO has done everything it can to keep it’s deceitful leverage. From Human Events Online:
This all takes place in the wake of the 1988 Communications Workers v Beck Supreme Court decision where the court ruled that expenses made by a union not attached to the "financial core" of collective bargaining and other legitimate union functions, could not be made compulsory.
In other words, money spent by the union on political activity had to be refunded to any members who objected to the expense. In 2001, the AFL-CIO had $164,246,963 in expenses and 13,250,198 members. It spent over $40 million in the 2000 elections, engaging over 1,600 "coordinators" in 35 states, according to a February 2000 article in the Washington Post.
A 2001 paper by Charles Baird written for the Smith Center, projects that total union in-kind donations in the 2000 election cycle alone, if similar to that of the AFL-CIO, could reach $900 million.
Unions have tried to avoid the Beck decision and retain their political influence by listing no political expenses on their LM2 disclosure forms. Because Beck was never enforced, they were never required to list their political expenses, and even their legitimate expenses were grouped in such large amounts as to be almost meaningless.
It bothers me to see Kerry speaking before crowds of cheering workers at his rallies, because I feel that those crowds are largely made up of “heritage Democrats,” people who vote Democratic because they always have, their father always did, their grandfather always did, and they believe with religious fervor that the Democrats honestly represent the “little guy.” It bothers me to see people who never question what they’ve been taught and never see through the lies, and even become hostile toward those who disagree.
But, it bothers me more to know that those of us who have seen liberalism for what it is and hold conservative values are often forced to contribute to the campaigns of those who don’t represent our core beliefs.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
First His Penis Betrays Him, Now His Heart
If Slick ends up, God forbid, dead… then the Dems have a martyr. And don’t for one minute think they won’t use it. The same way that the Republicans are encouraging us to “win one for the Gipper,” the Democrats will milk Slick’s death (again, God forbid) for all it is worth. I anticipate posters, bumper stickers, and heavy sweat pouring off the forehead of John Kerry as he tries to figure out a way to stick to his “I’m a Vietnam War Hero and the Bush campaign is full of draft dodgers” line while also praising the prince of all draft dodgers, Bill Clinton. It would be interesting. But not worth it.
So, get well, Bubba. Those of us who think this election should be decided on the issues need you healthy and alive.
Friday, September 03, 2004
An Idiot's Vacation In Hell
If you check this blog very often for updates, you may have noticed a big drop in activity after last week. I’ve had my hands pretty full. Here’s my sob story:
Last weekend I was involved in an accident at work and I got what has turned out to be a pretty darn serious third degree burn. Being the John-Wayne-Wannabe type ("Why, no, little lady, it don't hurt a bit, just lemme pour some of this sippin' whiskey on it and get on back to workin’”) I just treated the burn myself by having my reluctant girlfriend smear various over-the-counter antibiotics on it for a couple of days. I was convinced that this would work, eventually, in spite of the fact that the burn kept changing colors and shapes and smells and in spite of the fact that the pain was getting worse instead of better, and in spite of the fact that I am not a doctor and don’t even play one on TV. Finally, one morning, I woke up almost unable to move that arm at all, with really pretty red stripes shooting down the side of my arm.
At this point I realized that the burn was getting out of hand. So, being a genius, I put some more over-the-counter antibiotic on it and went to work. When I got to work I walked into my department break room where several of my co-workers were waiting to begin their shift. I pulled up my sleeve and asked a question that I am probably destined to repeat as my last words on earth some day: “Does this look infected?”
After some gasping and cursing and blasphemy among my co-workers, it was decided that I should have the company nurse take a look at my arm right away. She, in turn, sent me to the hospital straight away, where I was admitted and put on IV antibiotics and assorted other wonderful drugs, and there I remained until this afternoon, when the various medical professionals responsible for sparing my life decided that I was healthy enough (although, debatibly, not smart enough) to be allowed to go back to my house.
I hope to say that I've learned my lesson. This process turned out to be very painful and frustrating. The reason it got this bad is because I was too stupid to get the medical attention I needed soon enough. I've paid the price. If you've ever had a third degree burn scrubbed regularly to remove bacteria and dead tissue, you know what I mean. If you haven't, let me put it this way... if, during the scrubbing process, I'd looked up to see Mel Gibson filming the whole thing, I'd not have been surprised.
Doc says I may be well enough to go back to work by next Wednesday, but he’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, there’s nothing much for me to do except sit at home and lose wages and read blogs.
I had plenty of butt-time to watch the convention and follow the news a bit this week. Here are a few quick observations about what I saw:
n Republican balloons seem to drop more easily than do Democratic balloons. I guess the GOP balloons just have less hot air in them.
n The speeches I saw, rated on a scale of one to ten: McCain disappointed me, ranking only a 3.5 … Giuliani underperformed, I’d give him a 4 …. Pataki blew me away, a respectable 6 for the New York governor … Dubya’s speech was the best I’ve ever heard from him and went beyond my expectations and hopes. He covered ALL the bases and the speech was a solid 8. I’m sorry to say that I was too drugged to stay awake during Zell Miller’s speech, and I am not even sure if I was on this planet when the Vice President spoke. From what I’ve heard, I missed some good Kerry baiting. Damn. I hate that I missed that. I enjoy both hearing and participating in the good ol’ Kerry baiting.
n Kerry’s speech in Ohio after the convention wrapped up (which I saw in it’s entirety in rerun, thanks to the glory of C-SPAN) was just silly. There was nothing in it… nothing at all… worth even taking the time to counter. The guy just has nothing at all to say, nothing at all to offer, and no reason other than personal ambition to run for President. I’ll be surprised if the polls don’t tip quite a bit to the right pretty soon.
n I am truly sorry the Chechen terrorist situation at the school in Russia ended the way it did. No good can come out of something like that, of course. We know that… how long will it take terrorists to realize that?
When I got home from the Hospital and checked my e-mail I found a good message from my friend Saul in Kansas. Saul is really good about finding these news stories from the ‘90’s that support my theory that all Dubya is doing abroad right now is cleaning up the mess that was left him by the Clinton administration, and that the Clinton people KNEW what kind of mess they were leaving for him. Check out this item about the missile strikes Clinton ordered in August of 1998:
"This is not going to be something that is dealt with overnight," Mrs. Albright said on NBC. "This is going to be a long-term battle against terrorists who have declared war on the United States."
Other key officials joined Mrs. Albright in warning that the battle with terrorists was far from over.
"We are certainly going to do everything we can to defend ourselves," said Samuel Berger, the national security adviser, "but we're also going to be on offense."
He added, "We have to be ready to take a wide range of actions."
And, better, still, is the title of the story:
This Is Going To Be A Long Term Battle - U.S. on Alert, Preparing for 'War' on Terror
Alright, that’s all for now… it’s time to get to the really fun part of my role in the blogosphere… not the writing, but the reading. So many missed blogs, so little time.
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]