The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Oh, my formative years...
Plagiarizing myself. Again.
I was once a camp counselor.
What's so funny?
Actually, I was pretty shitty at it. My worst memory occurred when I was harrassed by the camp dance instructor. It was horrible: she questioned why my cabin of boys never took her dance classes.
Let me repeat that: she wanted to know why these boys were not lining up to take her class, a class which instructed them in the finer points of ballet and ballroom dancing.
At first, I thought she was joking.
It slowly dawned on me that she was serious.
This woman - a professional dance teacher at a high school in NY state - had to ask such a question?
My answer - because they're boys - didn't satisfy her. She persisted, telling me it was my job to inspire my boys, to get them to try new things, different things.
Girl things, I thought.
I knew what would happen to the unlucky boy who publicly choose to go to dance class during his free period. Didn't everyone? I mean, where did this woman teach? Wimpy High?
I told her I would work on it.
At the next signup, I told the boys that dance wasn't just for girls, and it was a great way to stay in shape.
Many great athletes dance to improve coordination, I said.
Name one, the brats demanded.
I couldn't. I was trying to describe Michael Jordan. But the picture I was drawing looked more like Richard Simmons.
A week later, I was met by the music teacher again.
You said you would try, she said. Things hadn't changed, and this must be my fault.
"I can't force them to go," I protested.
She was off to see my boss. The whole time I'm thinking: how the fuck did I get myself into this job?
My boss was a cross between the Captains Steubing and Kangaroo. He lived in a land of kids, where he played the role of an authority figure.
Persistent adults - like my dance teacher - could manipulate him like a puppet.
When he spoke to me, his words sounded familiar: it's a counselor's job to inspire the children and get them to try new things, he said. When I told him that none of my boys had any desire to go to dance class, he rumpled his brow and began to look worried. I thought he understood for second, but then he sighed.
"We've never had this problem before," he said.
I found that hard to believe.
Now my cabin of 7 and 8-year-old boys had something of a discipline problem.
No really, it's true!
8-year-olds - surprisingly enough - tend to hold rule breakers and rebels in high esteem. My cabin had more than its share. These rabble-rousers were regarded as leaders. And I did not have much help keeping order. My co-counselor was from New Zealand. He took one look at our cabin of rich American brats and decided he'd rather chase grown American women. Not that I blamed him, but he left the job of maintaining discipline in my hands.
So I had group of boys with whom I needed a punishment. Corporal punishment was out (our society has a problem with counselors hitting kids, imagine that) and the most frightening weapon I had was to send the kids to see Captain Kangaroo. Even they thought that was like being pelted with marshmallows.
To maintain control, I needed a penalty so severe that these young boys would cringe at my rightous anger and comply.
And like a sign from God, some bitch was pressuring me to send my boys to her dance class, a fate they considered worse than death.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: mandatory dance class for boys who made my shit list.
The first - and last - boy to suffer this fate was some kid named Aaron.
Aaron - the prick - was a leader of the insurgency against me. He was the corpulent offspring of obscenely rich parents. They had left him at camp, with me, for ten weeks (most kids stayed for two) - while they summered in Italy. But, knowing Aaron, I understood. His parents actually tried to give me a tip - a fifty dollar bill - for taking him off their hands.
The boy was arrogant and whiny, but intelligent. He watched me operate for four weeks before he made his move. From his past experience, he knew when I was bluffing. He shared this information with his peers, using his status as a "veteran" to win the favor of the other boys.
He had to be crushed.
Little did I know that he was such a pussy.
Aaron crossed the line when we were canoeing. He went out too far, and he refused to come in when I told him to. The other kids laughed and thought he was deleriously funny.
For his optional period that day, Aaron had chosen archery. I informed him (with delight!) that as a result of his antics on the lake, he could never be trusted with a weapon.
He would be going to dance class.
He turned the most furious shade of red I have ever seen a person get.
"You can't do that!" He roared at me.
"I just did," I said.
The other boys began teasing him immediately. I was surprised when Aaron sulked off compliantly toward dance class. I watched him just to make sure he wouldn't bolt off at the last moment and hide behind a tree.
I would learn later what happened. Aaron - in the process of pirouetting with the girls - collapsed into a sobbing, quivering mass of lard. He told the teacher everything right there.
Her dance class? Being used as a "punishment!?" (And, clearly, an effective one?)
She somehow passed an eight-inch-brick through her tightly puckered asshole.
I ended up getting into even worse trouble with Captain Kangaroo - not that it mattered. Whenever he saw me, he wouldn't even look me in the eye. That meant he no longer thought I was his buddy.
And let's just say that the dance teacher never said another word to me.
Not long after, I decided that being a camp counselor was not a good career choice for me.
It was a good thing I was old enough to drink beer. And just like that, I'd found a new hobby.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
This is my Thanksgiving post (and yes, I have plagiarized myself):
I gripe a lot on this blog. One would think that I am quite unhappy.
But in reality, things are pretty good in my life, and this blog is just a way of letting off steam.
When I think about it, I live like a king. Right now, a farmer somewhere is tending the calves that will make the milk for my refrigerator and the beef for my table. There are teams of doctors waiting to serve me should I fall sick, and engineers are ensuring that whenever I turn on a light, I will see light; others are working to make sure I will have the gas to heat my home this winter. I have workers in the fields picking my vegetables, fisherman out in the sea catching fish for me, and farmers are tending the hens that will give my meat and eggs. Whole factories of people built the car that carries me to work, and there are several mechanics around town who long to repair it. My clothes are stitched together by people laboring in foreign lands, using the best cotton - which all had to be picked, separated and woven. A group of baby sitters watch my children for me during the day, and with a few phone calls, I can have all manner of work done on my house. People are dying to know all kinds of things about me: what services I need or want, and what I think of them.
And for each one of these people, I have dozens of people who long to replace them in their servitude. They used to call me at home (but now they can’t – its illegal in PA – Ha! Ha!), so they fill my mailbox with crap trying to get me to buy their stuff, they invade my computer and jump out at me from my TV.
Ah, the annoyances of being royalty.
I’m one of the happiest people I know. I have a great wife – she is really my best friend and we laugh a lot together. My kids are happy and healthy. This house - though small -is in a great neighborhood with good schools. I can't imagine moving. I love my work and I can't see myself working in another field.
I’m not rich, but I sure feel like it. In reality, I’m pretty average – depressingly so. My house is kind of small and my car is kind of old. I wince at how much money I pay in taxes, day care and mortgage. In the supermarket, I can tell you that beef has been really expensive lately, so we have been eating more pork and chicken.
Yet I amuse myself by thinking about the thousands of people who make my boring average life the wonderful luxury that it is. After all, I’m richer than 99.99% of all the people who have ever lived – as are most Americans and Westerners.
I lived in West Africa for a time. I know for a fact that for a large portion of the world, most of these things - doctors, engineers, diverse food - are unattainable at any cost. It gives me sense of perspective, and a reason to be thankful for the things I take for granted.
This is no paean to materialism. Money doesn’t buy happiness! It’s true! (But it doesn’t hurt either.)
So why do I complain?
I complain because this country is full of people who can't see this wonderful system of capitalism for what it is.
For them, food, housing and medical care aren't things that you labor to procure.
They are rights and entitlements.
These spoiled children believe that they - and everyone - should get the best of all these things, merely because they were born.
I exist, therefore I get.....
They must be opposed, for the only thing that can truly be shared equally is misery.
You are entitled to nothing that you cannot earn, and you have no right to force others to labor on your behalf. This is the fallacy behind "economic rights," and it has become the ideological compass of the modern Democratic Party. For all the nice sounding rhetoric ("all we want to do is to give free healthcare to every American!), it is simply socialism. And it has never worked. Anywhere.
The framers of the Bill Of Rights had it right the first time. None of their rights cost anyone anything.
You have the right to say what you wish; the government doesn't buy you a printing press.
You have a right to a gun; the government doens't buy you one.
You have right to worship as you wish. Or not. The government doesn't build you a church.
Part of the problem in West Africa is that the governments decided that people had a "right" to cheap rice. These governments could not afford to buy rice for everyone, so they did the next best thing: they controlled its price, setting it very low. The farmers - knowing a bad deal when they saw it - kept their rice for themselves and no one wants to go into farming.
All of these countries - rich in water, soil and labor - import rice these days.
This is how a society of abundance can become a society of scarcity.
It could happen to us too. Some people are working toward that goal.
We should never forget that.
In 1982 in southern California, a man was admitted to a hospital emergency room in a nearly comatose state. His bodily functions appeared normal, and he was conscious, but he was unable to talk. In fact, he was unable to move any part of his body except for his eyes.
The man was brought to Dr. J. William Langston, who was baffled by the man's problems. The patient seemed healthy, young and normal.
Within a few days, several patients with identical symptons were admitted to area hospitals. Dr. Langston was able to communicate with the patients by asking yes/no questions and having them blink their eyes to respond.
He determined that all the victims were heroin addicts. Langston immediately notified the police, suspecting a bad batch of heroin was on the street. Police sent out warnings to the drug community, and their labs did full analyses on all the synthetic heroin the police seized.
They discovered an impurity present in one batch of "China White," a synthetic heroin known as alpha-methyl fentanyl:
The impurity was MPTP:
It is unclear how the street chemists ended up with this MPTP impurity. I can see a clear synthesis from available starting materials in four steps (the synthesis of alpha-methyl fentanyl looks pretty easy). But there is a huge difference between doing chemistry in an industrial laboratory and doing chemistry on the steet.
For one, street chemists have to take materials they can easily get (like those who make amphetamines out of pseudophedrine-containing cold medicines). This often means developing syntheses that are not immediately apparent to the authorities. (I've personally received phone calls from from DEA agents who were curious about materials that I've bought in the course of my research (a 500 ml bottle of piperidine raises eyebrows? Jeez!)).
But it is just as likely that our street chemists might not have even been trying to make alpha-methyl fentanyl itself, but a designer drug derivative. Such experimentation was common in the '80's: it was a method of staying ahead of the authorities because the government couldn't declare unknown compounds illegal (that changed in 1986).
Such experimentation is similar to what drug companies do all the time, except that in this case, the guinea pigs were human. In this case, the effects were disastrous for the victims, but the knowledge gained was a boon for the scientific research of a debilitating disease.
Langston noted that his patients now had a permanent condition that resembled advanced Parkinson's disease. With nothing to lose, Langston tried prescribing a treatment for Parkinson's, a drug known as L-dopa. The patients responded immediately: some of their motor functions were restored. They were not "cured," but the response to the L-dopa made it clear that MPTP had inflicted brain damage very simlar to the damage seen in Parkinson's.
In Europe to discuss his findings at a conference on Parkinson's disease, Langston was on a conference bus that broke down. He began discussing his research with Anders Bjorkland and several other European researchers. In the course of the discussion, it became clear that they each had something that the other needed.
The European researchers were excited that their work was having beneficial effects against Parkinson's, but they could not be sure: the disease was steadily progressing and causing further damage even as the therapies were possibly working. They could not easily tell what effects their compounds were having on Parkinson's because of the disease's progression.
Langston, however, had Parkinson's symptoms without the progressing disease. Langston had discovered the first test model for Parkinson's, and it is still in use today.
He is currently the science director of the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, California, where he is trying to link environmental chemicals with Parkinson's. The body converts the China White contaminant MPTP to MPP+, a toxin that is strikingly similar to an herbicide called paraquot. The leading chemicals most suspected of playing a role in causing the disease include pesticides, herbicides and metals such as iron, manganese and copper. One suspected pesticide is Rotenon, the chemical of choice for organic farmers because it is derived from naturally occurring compounds in the roots of legumes.
Some scientists have not accepted the hypothesis that environmental chemicals play a major role in causing Parkinson's and instead still think there might be a genetic component to the disease. But Langston is convinced there is an environmental component and cites a study conducted in twins that supports his view.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Buy nothing year
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26 2004 IS BUY NOTHING DAY:
For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate -- in the doomsday economy, the marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that's become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop. We shrink our footprint and gain some calm. Together we say to Exxon, Nike, Coke and the rest: enough is enough. And we help build this movement to rethink our unsustainable course."
What a great idea!
But why not "Buy Nothing" year?
That would show those greedy corporations! I can see it now:
LOCATION: Nike Corporate Headquarters,
Nike CEO Montgomery Burns: Smithers! We simply must figure out why our sales have gone down! What is about this year?
Smithers: I don't know sir. Your leadership has been excellent as usual.
(Both evil corporate types retire to the boardroom window, overlooking the exquisitely maintained fields and gardens of "Nike Fields.")
Mr. Burns: Smithers! See there! By the Rodin sculpture!
Smithers: The Javanese Hyacynth?
Mr. Burns: Not the damn shrub, you moron! One of those imported filthy Mexican groundskeepers is running around the fields, in full view of the executives!
Smithers: I'll have security seize him immediately, sir.
Mr. Burns: Have security bring him to me.
(Smithers calls security and the scraggily man is brought before them)
Mr. Burns (pointing at shirt): Are these what you call work clothes, mister?
Scraggily man: That's my "Fuck the WTO" shirt I got from Seattle, dude. And I don't work for you, you corporate pig!
Mr. Burns:Huh! A trespasser! On Nike Fields?
Scraggily man: I live there! In that sewer pipe! And you should know this: I'm bringing you to your knees! It's month number two of Buy Nothing Year! Month number two! And I'm only getting started. My pipe is very comfortable!
Mr. Burns: Only getting started? Doing what? Smithers! Explain!
Smithers: Well sir. Buy Nothing Year is an event started by some local ruffians. They pledge to buy nothing for one whole year, with the aim of bring the global capitalist machine down.
Mr. Burns: Buying nothing? I see: communists! Well you won't have any more luck than you had in 1989.
Smithers: Well sir, I'm afraid they are having some luck. Michael Moore has nearly shut McDonald's down, and you've seen the effect that Oprah and Rosie O'Donnell have had on Hostess.
Mr. Burns: But everyone needs shoes!
Scraggily man: Not corporate death shoes! Look! (thrusting foot toward Burns)
Mr. Burns: Gahd! What is on his feet?
Smithers: They appear to be shoes made from tree bark of some kind.
Scraggily man: Not tree bark! Hemp! I protested this place once! I told you shoes can be made from hemp, not petrochemicals and plastics sewn together by infirmed Vietnamese grandmothers earning pennies a day! I showed you! I showed you!
Mr. Burns: Yes, you showed me. Smithers have him charged with trespassing, and have the groundskeepers evict him from his pipe.
Scraggily man: You haven't heard the last of me! By August, you'll be begging me to call it off!
The politician who allows every citizen to fill out her tax form on a postcard with a simple calculator will become one of the most popular in history. It takes a president with a real mandate and a pliable Congress to achieve this kind of breakthrough, which is why the last success was Ronald Reagan's in 1986. And that is Bush's opportunity right now.
I agree. I would love to have a flat tax. It is an issue of fairness.
There is no reason why a John Kerry or a John Edwards should be able to hire accountants to reduce their tax burden to 13%, while I'm stuck paying much higher rate.
Unlike Edwards, I don't have team of accountants to declare myself a corporation.
The current tax code reeks of government breaks to interest groups: the housing industry, farmers, health providers, the elderly...
K Street in Washington is populated by special interests whose sole objective is to secure tax breaks for themselves and the people they represent. Whole industries have thrive doing taxes for people because the current forms are such a morass of confusing jargon and interesting math.
My wife and I do ours using software. We each do our taxes once, and we compare the numbers. They never agree. We usually pay the higher amount because we don't want the IRS giving us a call.
You would think liberals would be all for revising the tax rate so that everyone pays a fair share.
Hell, throw them a bone too: every household making under $200,000 could pay 22%; above that amount, you pay 25%.
The reason they'll oppose it is that it decreases government power to influence people's behavior.
In their thinking, people are dumb economic machines that respond to incentives from Washington: we have children and buy houses because we get tax breaks when we do so...
Tax breaks are goodies that politicans can throw out there to get votes.
No tax breaks means reduced federal power.
This, unfortunately, is why a flat tax will never happen, and the tax reforms of 2005 will only make taxes MORE complicated.
Condom scare tactics
I got this somewhere, and I thought it was pretty funny:
For the blogger I took it from: Thanks!
Monday, November 22, 2004
Dad Sorry About Daughter's Cake 'Prank'
The father of one of two 13-year-old girls accused of serving poisoned cake to about a dozen students said Thursday he and his daughter were sorry it happened.
"It was a horrible prank that went too far and a lot of people have suffered," the father told The Associated Press. The man asked that he not be identified by name to protect his daughter.
The girls were held on assault charges Wednesday, a day after handing out the cornbread cake at East Cobb Middle School (search).
Lab tests showed the icing contained an expired prescription drug, bleach, clay and hot-pepper sauce, police said. Twelve students, mostly seventh-graders, were treated and released...
...The father said his daughter was diagnosed this summer with Asperger's syndrome, and that doctors told him the girl should not be in a conventional school setting. Asperger's is an autism-related condition characterized by social and communication deficiencies.
I have some experience in this area.
Once, in junior high, I had a bullyish kid who sat next to me in math class. Whenever I was chewing gum (I chewed gum in class?!), he would tell me to give him a piece. One night, I decided that I'd had enough. I poisioned his piece of gum. Well, OK, it wasn't exactly poision. I cut open a piece of the gum (it was one of those big gum chunks, like Bubble Yum or something), and I carved out a little blank space so that it was hollow. In the hollow, I placed a chunk of raw garlic. I sealed the gum together so that it looked just like a regular piece of gum and put it back in its wrapper. The next day, I took gum out in full view of the guy, and predictably enough, he told me to give him a piece. I was very happy when he took it right out the wrapper and popped it into his mouth (on close inspection it would have been obvious that the gum had been altered). After about three seconds, he coughed it up, onto the floor. He was rubbing his face and going crazy. To my horror, the teacher asked him what was wrong. He explained it, almost crying about his burning mouth. Even the teacher could smell his garlic breath, and she ended up giving him a piece of cinnamon gum. For a brief period in junior high, I was a hero: my prank and I were the talk of the school.
Well, OK, and I also conspired with one of my cousins and gave his two brothers chocolate-flavored Ex Lax (we told them it was Hershey's and they failed to notice that it tasted like shit). It was quite humorous the next morning, waking to the sound of my two cousins fighting over the bathroom.
So I feel uniquely qualified to pass judgment on these two girls.
First, what did they put in the gum?
Hot pepper sauce? Good one.
A prescription drug? Uh oh, but which drug? And it was EXPIRED? Oh my, that's a death sentence right there.
Bleach? Alright, now that's getting mean.
Yeah, I guess this is a problem.
What get's me is the dad, trying to blame it on a disease. That's so...2003.
Come to think of it: maybe I have Assburger's - oh, excuse me, ASPBERGER's syndrome.
It would explain a lot. I've just always explained away my malicious childhood. I just thought I was a little dickhead.
Little did I know that I was the victim here!
Where are my rights?
Where are the rights of all my Assburger-sufferin' compatriots?
I need some judges to rummage around in the Constitution and see if they can find some for me.
Really special forces
This is wrong-headed, but it is funny:
It's good to see that some liberals have taken the election in stride, mocking the rednecked, Bush-lovin' red staters in such a culturally tolerant way.
But I'd rather have those guys on my side than these people.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Hunger in America
Hunger affected 12 million families in 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 12 million families last year, about the same as in 2002, either didn't have enough food or worried about being able to feed everyone, the government reported Friday.
In about one-third of these 12.6 million families, or about 3.9 million, at least one member experienced hunger because he or she couldn't afford enough food at some time during the last year, said the annual Agriculture Department report.
These stories come around every year as the winter approaches.
If you are appalled by people who "blame the victim," read no further.
I have seen real poverty. I have seen children with hair so brittle that it practically breaks when you touch it; children with bellies swollen with worms, and arms shrunken by malnutrition.
West Africa has the kind of poverty that makes you cry, and it makes you look at American "poverty" with a skeptical eye.
By calling these Americans poor, we insult the world's truly poor.
American poor have clean running water and electicity in their heated homes, and access to health care - treatment with the latest medicines and procedures - when they get sick. Almost all of the American poor have TV's, VCR's, microwaves, stereos and fashionable clothes. All have access to schools and libraries. Most have cars, and most have jobs. Their biggest health problem is obesity.
This is not to say that they live problem free. Most poor households are, naturally, single parent households (illegitimacy is the largest factor in creating American "poverty"). Many suffer from addiction, and almost all failed to take advantage of the educational opportunites offered to them (and schools packed with their children - who similarly lack educational ambition - can't help but be bad).
But the fact remains that the average American black - generally considered to be the poorest American ethnic group - is about as well off as the average person in Sweden, a country generally considered to one of the wealthiest in Europe.
Higher GDP per capita allows the average American to spend about $9,700 more on consumption every year than the average European. So Yanks have by far more cars, TVs, computers and other modern goods. "Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near," the Swedish study says.
But what about equality? Well, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has dropped to 12% from 22% since 1959. In 1999, 25% of American households were considered "low income," meaning they had an annual income of less than $25,000. If Sweden -- the very model of a modern welfare state -- were judged by the same standard, about 40% of its households would be considered low income.
In other words poverty is relative, and in the U.S. a large 45.9% of the "poor" own their homes, 72.8% have a car and almost 77% have air conditioning, which remains a luxury in most of Western Europe. The average living space for poor American households is 1,200 square feet. In Europe, the average space for all households, not just the poor, is 1,000 square feet.
In most of the world, what we call American poverty would be recognized as wealth. Such talk naturally inflames liberals, who believe that the presence of American "poverty" somehow indicts American society.
But what of this hunger? Is it to be believed?
Sadly, yes. I believe there is hunger in America.
But I don't think its because there isn't enough food. Americans have some of the cheapest food in the world. People die trying to get into this country, a place were the greatest health problem afflicting the poor is obesity.
American hunger exists because of simple home economics: Americans are terrible at stretching the value of a dollar. For people trying to get by on low incomes, this inability to eat cheaply leads to eventual - but no prolonged - hunger.
Americans love their processed and pre-prepared foods.
My wife and I were once doing some volunteer work at a shelter for homeless families. We took a lasagna and a salad, and a woman who went with us took a ham. A few of the families present ate some of the food we brought, but several preferred to eat from the own fridge: it was stocked with frozen foods and soda, including store-bought, individually wrapped rotisserie chicken pieces that I considered too expensive to serve my own family. They wrappers from McDonald's and KFC in the garbage. And they had bakery-made cake for desert.
People who eat like that - in addition to getting obese - are going run short of funds once in a while.
I once posted similar thoughts on "American hunger," and I was challenged by a reader. Why don't you try to feed a family of four on $10 a day, he challenged me.
I did it.
The result was not the menu with all the extravagant trimmings that Americans have grown used to. It was basic but nutritionally sound.
Our grandmothers knew this kind of thing without thinking, but leave it to our society to have to re-learn it.
The best thing this nation could do with its "poor" is to mandate that food stamps only be used for basic staples (no potato chips or frozen pizzas).
And they should mandate that anyone who accepts food stamps should pass a home economics course.
Just a thought.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
I love great quotations. I especially like this one, which I first saw at nadinerine.com:
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
Quite a few Europeans would do well to remember that one.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
The Inquirer Editorial Board has done some thinking about Guantanamo Bay, and it isn't pretty:
If an American soldier is captured on some distant battlefield, he could be denied prisoner-of-war status, and subjected to grueling, abusive interrogation amid inhumane living conditions.
And what explanation might his cruel captors offer? Hey, after 9/11, everything changed.
That grim future certainly is not what the Bush administration seeks as it continues to bungle its detention of hundreds of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
What planet does the Inquirier live on?
This "grim future" has been with us for some time. Our soldiers aren't "prisoners of war" when they are captured now: they are paraded before cameras before they are shot or beheaded.
We haven't fought an enemy that paid attention to the Geneva Convention since 1945.
The question is whether the US will unilaterally uphold the convention with the people we have now.
Cleary, in most of the particulars, we should (and do).
But the people at Guantanmo aren't going anywhere, because the war is NOT "over." The Taliban and Al Qaeda never surrendered; they have just moved the fight on to new venues.
Whenever we free these terrorists, we have to fight them again.
It's no secret: they fight just like they promise to fight.
The war's over, but nobody told our enemy that.
That's an important part of losing: accepting defeat.
Leave it to the nimrods at the Inquirer not to understand the news in their own paper....
Here piggy! Here piggy!
Hardee's Debuts 1,420-Calorie Monster Burger:
As many fast-food chains introduce healthier fare amid fears of being sued, Hardee's is introducing a hamburger with 1,420 calories and 107 grams of fat.
St. Louis-based Hardee's Food Systems Inc. on Monday rolled out its Monster Thickburger, two 1/3-pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayonnaise on a buttered sesame seed bun. The sandwich alone sells for $5.49, $7.09 with fries and a soda.
Woman, inner child sentenced in robbery
Nira Nevins said only one of her many personalities had robbed a Shrewsbury bank, but they are all going to prison.
The 55-year-old Perth Amboy woman maintains that an alternate, childlike personality came over on March 20, 2002, the day she robbed the bank.
Imprisoning children. Just what you'd expect from Ashcroft's Amerikkka.
Look out Joan Baez! You better hope your illiterate inner black girl doesn't decide to rob a bank! You'll be giving your peace concerts behind bars.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Good news today about illegitimacy rates and young teens: Young teen pregnancy at historically low levels.
It seems our cruel heartless society is encouraging young people to take matters into their own hands and do their part to ensure that they will not end up poor.
This is exactly the kind of thing that the academic left told us would NOT happen.
For the parasitic university researchers haranguing the country about the problems of the "underclass," the poor are merely stupid children, retarded baby-making machines that must be fed, clothed and tolerated by a "caring" society. Things become quite bigoted when questions of race become involved.
Neatly stated, this is the ivory tower view of America's racial polarization: if only blacks and whites would talk, whites would realize that blacks are largely poor because of race, and things would change through government action.
No one can argue with racial dialogue; communication is always beneficial.
But a more important dialogue is needed, between the middle class and the poor, free of the opaque lens of racial politics.
There are many rural white communities that are poor, too. The problems are the same: illegitimacy, divorce, addiction, and low levels of education. All of these impoverish communities by lowering household income (and household income is our primary measure of poverty).
The striking thing about each of these problems is that each results from an individual decision: no one forces a person to drop out of school or to have a baby. But it is a virtual guarantee that a young mother without a diploma or a husband will be poor. A woman raising a child on her own is a household, as defined by the census, and she is likely to be one with a low income, regardless of race.
The quest to eliminate poverty has to be a search for truth. And the sad truth is this: most people become poor through a series of bad life decisions – the decision to drop out of high school, the decision to take a drug, the decision to have unprotected intercourse.
It is not all chance.
The question is: why do some people consistently make decisions that are not in their own long-term interest, decisions that will almost certainly impoverish them and guarantee that they stay that way?
I'm a partial libertarian, but I believe in social responsibility.
Society, not just government, must encourage people to use freedom wisely.
Society, though, often does the opposite: there is little shame in being a single, unwed mother anymore.
Society’s tolerance for such destructive behavior is suicidal.
It is vital that a fourteen-year-old girl look at her older sister, uneducated and struggling to raise a child, and say this to herself: there is no way I am going to let that happen to me.
It is certainly time that the academics making a living studying poverty consider what the rest of America already knows instinctively. But messages like this bounce right off the socialist parasites who study the poverty. To them, the poor are an exotic fauna. They are not interesting in themselves (they actually disgust academic elites with their materialism and sexism), but they are intriguing because they indict American society: how can a free society be fair when allows such people to live so miserably?
Talk of "social responsibility" would clearly threaten these interesting specimens with extinction. Thus the left considers any hint of it to be "blaming the victim."
And it is here that liberal America parts ways with mainstream America.
Those blasted "moral issues" intrude into the poltical world yet again.
Great workplace fun
A great way to get the office gossiping:
Chinese officials crack down on ancient bloodsport of cricket fighting
This is barbaric.
SHANGHAI, China (AP) - Shanghai is cracking down on gamblers drawn to an ancient bloodsport forcing opponents into a gruesome battle to the death: cricket fighting.
Police detained 46 people and confiscated 39 pots containing the insect pugilists, together with the equivalent of about $8,300 Cdn in wagers during a raid on a gambling den in the city's Pudong district, the Shanghai Daily newspaper reported Friday. Two men, Ding Liangkai and 70-year-old Ren Xiaohai were charged with organizing the fights, punishable by up to three years in prison.
Cricket fighting was a passion of the ancient Chinese, who housed their favourites in elaborate wood or bronze cages and fed them special diets of seeds and small insects. The crickets are starved before matches to make them ornery, then released into a tiny ring where they kick and bite each other to death.
Suppressed after the 1949 Communist Revolution, the pastime has revived in recent years but remains closely associated with gambling, which is strictly forbidden in China.
Shanghai Daily quoted Ren, a 50-year veteran of the sport, as saying he organized the fights because he was unable to find crickets in the wild and couldn't afford to buy top fighters, which can cost up to $150.
"In this way, we could not only enjoy cricket fighting free of charge but also earn money by collecting a five-per-cent bonus from the gamblers," Ren was quoted saying.
There was no word on the fate of the crickets.
CNEWS weird news
Monday, November 15, 2004
From Best of the Web....
Democratic Underground Forums - So sorry. I can't help you:
Got a call from the March of Dimes today. I listened to the woman's prepared text, and said, 'I'm sorry, we will no longer be donating, please take us off your list.' She asked why, and I said, 'Due to the election results, we have decided not to enable the Bush Administration by supporting charitable organizations who are filling the vaccuum caused by his mishandling of the country. It's all up to President Bush now.'
She sounded surprised.
We will say this to all of the organizations we donated to last year, when they come a' callin' this month and next.
For the next four years, we help our own, and that is it. We contribute to political causes, and that is it.
Lovely. Generosity with other people's money (tax revenue) is fine.
The NASCAR effect
In the South, Democrats are on the cusp of winning back support from blue collar "NASCAR dads." Imagine the look on Karl Rove's face when he sees 150,000 'good ol' boys' cheering on Howard Dean in the #99 MoveOn.org Toyota Prius, roaring down the backstretch at Talledega at a sane, fuel-efficient 55 mph.
I'd buy tickets to see that!
Beware of those Dollywood values.
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Great gift ideas
Ho Ho Ho.
>Picture it, sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting. Your family on Christmas morning, gathered around the twinkling tree in their jammies. Your angelic child grabs a square box, tears off the paper and squeals with glee over her . . .
CSI Forensic Facial Reconstruction Kit.
It's a yellow plastic skull, a couple of pounds of clay and detailed instructions for applying clay to skull to re-create the face of a pretend unidentified murder victim, just like the crime scene investigation hotshots on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY do.
By way of Population Statistic.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Angry white evangeicals?
I've been saying this for a week: national security was the MAJOR issue in this election, despite the claims of Democratic elites that it was "moral values" that cost them the election.
But I can't say it as well - or effectively - as Charles Krauthammer.
The 'Moral Values' Myth:
The urban myth grew around the fact that 'moral values' ranked highest in the answer to Question J: 'Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?'
It is a thin reed upon which to base a General Theory of the '04 Election. In fact, it is no reed at all. The way the question was set up, moral values were sure to be ranked disproportionately high. Why? Because it was a multiple-choice question, and moral values cover a group of issues, while all the other choices were individual issues. Chop up the alternatives finely enough, and moral values are sure to get a bare plurality over the others.
Look at the choices:
Education, 4 percent.
Taxes, 5 percent.
Health Care, 8 percent.
Iraq, 15 percent.
Terrorism, 19 percent.
Economy and Jobs, 20 percent.
Moral Values, 22 percent.
'Moral values' encompass abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood's influence, the general coarsening of the culture and, for some, the morality of preemptive war. The way to logically pit this class of issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: 'war issues' or 'foreign policy issues' (Iraq plus terrorism) and 'economic issues' (jobs, taxes, health care, etc).
If you pit group against group, the moral values class comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent, economic issues variously described at 33 percent and moral values at 22 percent -- i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others.
In this poll, I would have been torn between answering "Iraq" or "Terrorism," because I am one of those Fox News watching boobs that thinks the two are related - despite the preponderance of evidence provided by CBS and the New York Times.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Suspect in hunter killings says he was shot at first:
HAYWARD, Wisconsin (CNN) -- The suspect in the shooting deaths of six deer hunters in northwest Wisconsin told investigators he fired at the hunters after they made racial slurs and shot at him, according to an affidavit released Tuesday.
Six armed men. Uh huh.
They shot first. Uh huh.
Six dead armed men. Hmmmmm.
Who does this guy think he is?
I'm glad to see that some are tempering their post-election disappointment with humor:
The election is over,
the results are now known.
The will of the people
has clearly been shown.
We should show by our thoughts
and our words and our deeds
That unity is just what our country now needs.
Let's all get together.
Let bitterness pass.
I'll hug your elephant.
You kiss my ass.
That is pretty good.
First seen at Mixbag of Musings.
Some aren't taking it as well, and they have worried themselves sick:
Leftist Demorrhagic Fever
Leftist Demorrhagic fever (DF) is a severe, often psychosis inducing disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared sporadically since its initial recognition in 1980 (shortly after the election of President Reagan) and has since reached epidemic proportions following the 2000/2004 elections.
The disease is caused by infection with the DF virus, named after a fever swamp in the People's Republic of San Francisco in California, where it was first recognized. The virus is one of two members of a family of RNA viruses called the Leftoviridae. There are four identified subtypes of DF virus in the United States. Three of the four have caused disease in humans: DF-Berkeley, DF-Hollywood, and DF-Miami-Dade. The fourth, DF-MSM, has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans (who somehow seem immune due to constant exposure to this strain).
From S. Michael Moore at FukiBlog, by way of Old Whig.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
I really can't stress enough how impressed I am with Blog Explosion.
It has tripled my blog traffic very quickly.
It works like this: the more Blog Explosion member blogs you view (for a minimum of 30 seconds - there is a timer in the upper left corner), the more credits you earn (make sure you are getting credits!). The more credits you have, the more blogs are directed your way.
It is a huge blog circle, and it is going to get much bigger. For one simple reason: it works. I've seen a lot of great blogs. (Unfortunately, I've been neglecting my regular reads - sorry!)
I heartily recommend it to everyone. If you could, tell them I sent you and use this referral code: ( http://www.blogexplosion.com/index.php?ref=rogersjf )
Hope for Europe?:
We still live in a world in which resources are limited, we have to work hard to have our share of them, we need the support of a family and we need the old traditional virtues that had been too easily dismissed. Americans have become aware of this state of affairs sooner than Europeans. This is another explanation of the difference between the two sides of the Atlantic. But we can expect also in Europe a change of attitudes within a comparatively short period of time. Our struggling economy and ageing society can survive and be modernized only if we recover at least some of the values of the past--among them the ethics of hardworking and caring fathers and mothers.
The first step in getting out of a morass is to realize that you are in one. Europe must change course - and soon - or it faces economic ruin.
I hope it can. As annoying as the Europeans have been recently - the spineless pacifism, the bizarre faith in negiotiations with dictators (can Europe really be so ignorant of its own history?), the smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority -it is still important to see Europe for the role that it COULD play in making the world more peaceful and more free.
European economic decline is no occasion for American gloating. It will - if it continues - aid fascism throughout the world.
But other than all that....
Michael Kinsley's horse ain't high enough to write this: "...at least my values - as deplorable as I'm sure they are - don't involve any direct imposition on you."
Noble of him, isn't it? And--except for...
...the 'higher taxes' thing.
...and the welfare state.
...and socialized health care.
...and increased regulation.
...and the entire litany of newly discovered rights labor priveleges.
...and gun control.
...and campaign finance reform
...and trade protectionism.
...and minimum wage laws.
......Kinsley is absolutely right. Why, they're positively libertarian, that Democratic Party!
The Left is going on a 'don't impose your values on me' binge right now, and the irony does not seem to have sunk in.
Very well put.
Johann Hari by way of Andrew Sullivan:
The Sunni resistance is, however, a different story [from the Shiite resistance]. 'I was there in Fallujah earlier this year. It doesn't look like Iraq; it looks like Taliban Afghanistan. I didn't see a woman's face the whole time I was there. They are all hidden behind those dehumanising shrouds.' The resistance fighters he met there believed in either Sunni supremacy or endless jihad.
'It wasn't surprising. You only have to look at who they are killing to find out their philosophy. They don't want democracy and peaceful co-existence. If there was any way to negotiate with them, I'd support it. But how can you talk people like this down from their ledge? What can you offer them?'
Yasser then offers two crucial facts.
First, there hasn't been a single Shia suicide bomber in Iraq so far. That tells you something about who is trying to destroy security and why.
Second, there have been just three weeks this year when there were no suicide bombs in Iraq. They were the three weeks the US forces had Fallujah surrounded. Doesn't that suggest it is the base of the Sunni resistance? Doesn't that suggest it is right to deprive them of their base by force if necessary?
Election '04 epiphanies:
Republicans should send a large spray of flowers to thank the British newspaper The Guardian. It urged readers to write letters to residents of Ohio's Clark County -- the city of Springfield and environs -- urging them to defeat Bush. The backfire from Ohio was so strong (e.g., one resident told The Guardian, ``If you want to save the world, begin with your own worthless corner of it,''), the paper quickly canceled its intervention. In 2000 Bush lost Clark County to Al Gore. This year Clark was the only one of Ohio's 88 counties to support Bush after opposing him in 2000.
Nice work, guys.
Dowd and Krugman
Take the two leading liberal columnists at the New York Times, Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman. As we all know, one's a whining self-parody of a hysterical liberal who lets feminine emotion and fear defeat reason and fact in almost every column. The other used to date Michael Douglas.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Single Orange Muppet
From Death Star Inc.
Doesn't he ever just DIE?
Sheesh! This is like "Weekend At Bernies."
Arafat's doctor says that Arafat is very much alive and doing well.
I'd hate to see what "a little under the weather" would look like.
Paranoia will destroy ya
On election night on public television -- your tax dollars at work -- Bill Moyers said: ``I think if Kerry were to win this in a -- in a tight race, I think there'd be an effort to mount a coup, quite frankly. ... I mean that the right wing is not going to accept it.'' Moyers, the emblematic face of public television, is an intellectual icon in the sort of deep blue precincts that think red America is paranoid.
Of course, Bill is right. At the local citizen's militia, we had our guns and we were ready to go to Washington and take over the minute those exit polls came out.
But alas, it wasn't necessary.
We weren't dumb enough to vote Kerry
Last week, you may recall, I quoted Bob Kerrey - not the Kerry who was running for president, but a fellow senator and Vietnam veteran and a big backer of his near-namesake. This Kerrey was on television a couple of days before the election and claimed to have the pulse of the man in the street.
'I was in Gallia, Ohio, down in the southeastern part of Ohio,' he said. 'They don't give a damn about the war in Iraq. They're terrified about the loss of their job, health care, their pensions. That's what's bothering them.'
I begged to differ: 'In fact,' I wrote, 'the people - in Gallia, Ohio and many other places - understand the relevance of Iraq and Afghanistan to their well-being rather more clearly than the Democratic leadership do.'
Just for the record, on Tuesday, in Gallia County, Ohio, George W Bush won 62 per cent of the vote.
It wasn't the economy, stupid. It was the stupidity, stupid. No man is an island, but the Democrats expect voters to act as if they are. Don't think about national security and war and Iraq and Iran and North Korea - that's all way beyond a loser like you. You're too 'terrified' about your job to be bothered with the foreign pages. It's practically the Depression out there.
OK, it's not. But it's a recession. OK, it's not. But there aren't any jobs out there. OK, there are. But they're not like the jobs you used to have, when you could go to the mill and do the same job day in day out for 45 years, and it made it so much easier for us come election time because there were large numbers of you all in the same place when we flew in for the campaign stop. But the point is: you are an island, stick to "pocketbook issues", think about yourself.
The Left always used to accuse the Right of appealing to the voters' selfishness, but this year the Dems did and it got them nowhere.
I'm making news!The Daily Times.
This poor guy.
His fifteen minutes of fame are not at all what he thought they'd be
The Myth of the Working Poor
An oldy but a goody...:
To stay out of poverty in America, it's necessary to do three simple things, social scientists have found: finish high school, don't have kids until you marry, and wait until you are at least 20 to marry. Do those three things, and the odds against your becoming impoverished are less than one in ten. Nearly 80 percent of everyone who fails to do those three things winds up poor.
Blue America is soooo intelligent (Even when they go to the polls because P. Diddy threatened them with death if they didn't), yet they constantly must be reminded of this simple fact.
Building a better Bush?
Now that the election is over and the forces of evil have been routed, I can go back to being pissed off at George Bush - the free spending, big government, protectionist social "conservative" - again.
Come to think of it, this is pretty funny: Build a Better Bush.
Off to hell
Interesting stuff, from Tim Blair:
Despite simplistic accounts in the media, Sunni opinion in Iraq is not a monolith. Crushing the Fallujah rebellion will, the administration and Allawi hope, allow moderate Sunnis to be able to participate in the political process without intimidation.
That process is in better shape than is widely acknowledged. The Shia and the Kurds are 80 percent of the population and broadly on-board the new Iraq. Elections will be crucial to providing legitimacy to the new order and creating a measure of political stability. But elections have powerful enemies. The word is that the U.N. bureaucracy in New York is doing all it can to delay or derail them, although the U.N. official on the ground in Iraq, Carlos Valenzuela, is doing heroic work.
When Allawi addressed some of the Iraqi troops, telling them they need to liberate a city held "hostage" by radicals and terrorists, they yelled in response "may they go to hell!" "To hell they will go," replied Allawi. Victory in Iraq depends on that kind of national will prevailing in a battle for the country's, and the region's, soul.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Polls and elections
One problem in this election was the polling.
The voters confounded pollsters, who tried differentiate between "likely voters" and those who'd rather stay home.
In addition, other factors intruded: the number of unreachable households without land-line phones (probably young and somewhat more Democratic), and the number of households with Caller-ID (likely Republicans).
How can they make sure they have an accurate sample? The pollsters are understandably worried that their occupation may be in jeopardy if these groups grow futher.
There was - supposedly - quite a bit a volatility in the polls.
I tended to go by the RealClear Politics poll average, which showed Bush with a clear 1-3 point lead in the weeks prior to the election. The media used whichever poll made Kerry look best (Zogby one week, CNN-USA Today the next, Gallup the next...). This was done in part to sell papers, but this was also an expression of liberal bias.
Strangely, one of the most accurate polls out there was the 7-Eleven Coffee Cup Poll:
7-Election cup counts tracked identically with published national election results of 51 percent for Bush and 48 percent for Kerry, and within a few percentage points of actual poll results in many states. Casting their “votes” in participating 7-Eleven stores across the country during the month-long promotion in October, customers served up these results:
I’M VOTING FOR BUSH cups – 51.08 percent
I’M VOTING FOR KERRY cups – 48.92 percent
Not bad, coffee drinkers. At first blush, this method of polling sounds ridiculous.
But you can't beat that result.
Where else can you get a sample size of millions of people? I mean, everyone (except me) drinks coffee. And 7-Eleven gets a wide variety of people.
I'll bet a similar poll of Starbucks coffee drinkers would be off the scales in Kerry's favor, though.
The death that brings hope
It is a sad but fitting coda to Yasir Arafat's career that the prospect of his death seemed to unlock more hope and possibilities than the reality of his life.
His corrupt, self-interested rule had created a situation whereby Palestinian aspirations seemed to have gotten locked away with him, under house arrest in Ramallah, well beyond the reach of creative diplomacy. Only human biology could liberate them again - and so it has.
In the early 1990's, I sided with those Israelis who, though no fans of Arafat, were ready to deal with him at Oslo in the name of normalcy for both Israelis and Palestinians. But once it became clear, after the collapse of the Camp David talks, that no deal was possible with Arafat, I wished for his speedy disappearance. He was a bad man, not simply for the way he introduced a whole new level of terrorism to world politics, but because of the crimes he committed against his own people. There, history will judge him very harshly.
Sheesh. Even Thomas Friedman has Yassir Arafat figured out.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Baez leads the way to obscurity
Just when I think the Democrats may be able to figure things out and right themselves, I read a story like this. If you are a Democrat and you cannot understand that people like this might be a problem, then you are part of the problem:
Charlottesville, VA—America's "culture war" was on full display last night at the Joan Baez concert. Tickets to the concert were a present to my mother-in-law for her 69th birthday. My mother-in-law certainly fit the demographic of the audience, or as she described it, "All the old hippies are out tonight." Let's just say that by attending, my wife and I dropped the average age of the audience by several months.
Sixty-three year old Baez came out on stage and asked how the audience felt about the election? Of course the audience groaned and moaned—after all, this IS a Joan Baez concert. For her part, Joan said that she felt like she had been run over by a truck. One audience member yelled, "You give us hope." Now I like a good rendition of "Joe Hill" or "Diamonds and Rust," as well as the next person and I do recognize her talent as a singer. And Baez has a perfect right to dedicate a song, as she did, to that insufferable, lying self-promoter Michael Moore, whom she praised for doing his best to save the country. Later Baez announced that she was going to sing a song that she sang only in countries that were undergoing extreme political strife. In fact, she hadn't sung it in the United States in the last 20 years. The song? "We Shall Overcome."
However, the most remarkable and disturbing episode occurred halfway through the concert when Joan stopped singing and announced that she had "multiple personalities." One of her multiple personalities is that of a fifteen year old poor black girl named Alice from Turkey Scratch, Arkansas. Baez decided to share with us Alice's views on the election. Amazed and horrified I watched a rich, famous, extremely white folksinger perform what can only be described as bit of minstrelsy—only the painted on blackface was missing. Alice, the black teenager from Arkansas Baez was pretending to be, spoke in a dialect so broad and thick that it would put Uncle Remus and Amos and Andy to shame. Baez' monologue was filled with phrases like, "I'se g'win ta" to do this that or the other and dropping all final "g's." Baez as Alice made statements like, "de prezident, he be a racist," and "de prezident, he got a bug fer killin'." Finally, since Bush won the election with 58.7 million votes to Kerry's 55.1 million, Alice observed, "Seems lak haf' de country be plumb crazy." Since Baez was reading Alice's notes, it is evident that she thinks that Arkansas' public schools don't teach black children to write standard English.
Once Joan finished her minstrelsy riff, the audience, in which I did not see a single black person, went wild with applause and hoots and hollers. I have never felt so embarrassed for a bunch of "liberals" in my life. I wonder where Baez got her notions of how poor black country folk talk—she couldn't be stereotyping, could she?
The best thing the Democrats can do for themselves is to jettison these flaky anti-war types once and for all. They - not gun-luvin' rednecks, born again nutjobs, and rural homophobes - are the reason your party has trouble winning. Too many Americans beleive that your party cannot be trusted with national security.
One less Democrat
Man Kills Self at Ground Zero:
A 25-year-old university worker (it figures - ed) from Georgia shot and killed himself at ground zero Saturday morning, authorities said.
The man, Andrew Veal, of Athens, Ga., was found atop the structure housing the 1 and 9 subway lines after a hotel worker spotted what he believed was somebody sleeping inside the site around 8 a.m., said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A shotgun was found near the body, Coleman said. No suicide note was found, he said.
Veal apparently was distraught over President Bush's re-election, Newsday reported Saturday on its Web site edition, citing an unnamed police source. The newspaper also said the man was a registered Democrat who opposed the war in Iraq.
I know that I am supposed to feel terrible when I read things like this, but I find it difficult to burn the emotion.
Life is a like a movie. At age 25, you've made it about a third of the way through. If you decide that maybe the next 50 years isn't worth sitting through, who's to argue? If your life sucks, you should be able to judge whether it's going to be getting better.
I mean, life is not for everyone...
(Now I am going to Hell. Definitely.)
I couldn't agree more:The Values-Vote Myth
Every election year, we in the commentariat come up with a story line to explain the result, and the story line has to have two features. First, it has to be completely wrong. Second, it has to reassure liberals that they are morally superior to the people who just defeated them.
In past years, the story line has involved Angry White Males, or Willie Horton-bashing racists. This year, the official story is that throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surged to the polls to put George Bush over the top.
This theory certainly flatters liberals, and it is certainly wrong.
Here are the facts. As Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center points out, there was no disproportionate surge in the evangelical vote this year. Evangelicals made up the same share of the electorate this year as they did in 2000...
...(Bush) won because 53 percent of voters approved of his performance as president. Fifty-eight percent of them trust Bush to fight terrorism. They had roughly equal confidence in Bush and Kerry to handle the economy. Most approved of the decision to go to war in Iraq. Most see it as part of the war on terror.
God help the Democrats if they misinterpret the results of ANOTHER election.
But he's such a fine upstanding fellow! Al Sharpton, Wife Announce Separation
The world hates us
And they are united:World Leaders Adapt to Bush Win:
In dramatic proof of the changes in Moscow in the past 20 years, Putin said a victory for Bush would mean the United States had not allowed itself to be cowed by terrorists. 'If Bush wins, then I can only feel joy that the American people did not allow itself to be intimidated, and made the most sensible decision,' he told a Kremlin news conference.
Berlusconi, also in Moscow, said that if re-elected 'Bush will continue with the policy that assigns the United States the role of defender and promoter of freedom and democracy.'
In Poland, which like Italy has troops in Iraq backing U.S. forces, President Aleksander Kwasniewski said that on terrorism Bush 'is a very decisive leader who is right, simply right' and that continued cooperation with him was 'really good news.'
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Gays and lesbians were bitterly disappointed yesterday at so many Gay Marriage bans being passed. But, in many ways, they had no one to blame but themselves for attempting to use the courts, rather than democratic persuasion as their method of choice. The plain fact is that demographic and social changes were well on their way to making at least civil unions a reality in a number of state legislatures. By attempting to force the issue through the courts, the activists have done nothing more than provoke a backlash among social conservatives. Moreover, the courts, by allowing themselves to be used in this way, have so politicized court appointments that they have become major political issues, rather than the relatively uncontroversial matters that they used to be.
You could call it the Roe v. Wade methodology.
Had liberals waited in the '70's, public opinion probably would have moved in their direction in fairly short order. Abortion would have been legalized through democratic means without controversy, as it was in the countries of Europe.
Instead, an unelected court imposed abortion rights on unwilling populations, particularly in the South.
For the courts to do this in the case of civil rights in the 50's was justified. In the case of abortion, the justification was a little less apparent. For gay marriage,it is provoking a backlash among social conservatives before the backers of gay marriage can even try it.
It is a pity. Civil unions - marriages in everything but name - were already favored by sizeable numbers of people throughout the country. In the gradualism of democratic governance, they would have been reality in time.
But I disagree with the people - particularly on the left - who believe that this issue cost John Kerry the election. Yes, gay marriage was on the ballot in many red states, including the the key state of Missouri, but I don't think it was the reason Bush won that state. Bush won Missouri because it, like Kansas, has been trending red for a decade. (It voted for Bush in 2000 as well). Also, gay marriage lost on the ballot in Oregon, a state Kerry won without breaking a sweat.
Kerry went into this election forfeiting 190 electoral votes - southern states where he knew a Boston liberal would simply not be competitive. That is not a winning strategy. Democrats are also deluding themselves when they say "Kerry came close."
He didn't. 500,000 more votes and George Bush would have taken PA, MI, MN, WI and NH, winning the electoral college 345-181. A landslide.
In those key states, Kerry barely won. But in the states Bush won, he generally trounced Kerry. And it is not going to get any better. The population center of the US crossed the Mississipi decades ago. It is now in Missouri, moving south-southwest at the rate of a couple of feet a day.
If the Democrats want to win they will have to figure out how to win in the South.
In my mind, the key issue was the war and Kerry's ambivalence toward it. Americans do not like to give up and lose, and Kerry gave indications that this was exactly what he would do. The red states - in particular - are extremely patriotic and extremely Jacksonian: when it comes to war, they believe that once you are in it, you are in it to win it. It is no accident that these states supply 75% of our current military recruits, and it is no accident that our military - most encouragingly our troops in Iraq - voted overwhlemingly for George Bush (they apparently think that the war is winable).
Give the Americans a choice between a principled, decisive idiot and an unprincipled, indecisive intellectual and the idiot will triumph every time (some will say that is exactly what just happened). A dogged fool who knows where he is going will probably stagger around until he gets there; an intellectual without direction or determination IS CERTAIN to go nowhere.
And nowhere is a terrible place to be. Ask Jimmy Carter. His indecision in the face of Islamist thuggery - trying to win the Ayatollah Khomeini over with his kindness - made it all worse:
The embassy raid came just days after the Brzezinski-Bazargan meeting in Morocco and, by all accounts, took Khomeini by surprise. It is now clear that leftist groups opposed to rapprochement with the United States had inspired the raid.
Khomeini saw it as a leftist ploy to undermine his authority. He was also concerned about the possibility of the United States taking strong military and political action against his still fragile regime.
Deciding to hedge his bets, the ayatollah played a double game for several days, waiting to gauge the American reaction.
According to his late son Ahmad, who had been asked to coordinate with the embassy-raiders, the ayatollah feared "thunder and lightning" from Washington. But what came, instead, was a series of bland statements by Carter and his aides pleading for the release of the hostages on humanitarian grounds.
Carter's envoy to the United Nations, a certain Andrew Young, described Khomeini as "a 20th-century saint," and begged the ayatollah to show "magnanimity and compassion."
Carter went further by sending a letter to Khomeini.
Written in longhand, it was an appeal from "one believer to a man of God."
Carter's syrupy prose must have amused Khomeini, who preferred a minimalist style with such phrases as "we shall cut off America's hands."
As days passed, with the U.S. diplomats paraded in front of TV cameras blindfolded and threatened with execution, it became increasingly clear that there would be no "thunder and lightning" from Washington. By the end of the first week of the drama (which was to last for 444 days, ending as Ronald Reagan entered the White House), Khomeini's view of America had changed.
We have come a long way from that. It says something about American resolve that when radicals seize our hostages these days, they rarely even bother with demands. They know that there is no point, and they just kill the Americans.
Coming from these horrible people, that is a sign of respect. The terrorists are hard men; they recognize that America is not a soft country, either.
Now is no time to go wobbly, no time to hand the fight off to mythical French armies or an ineffectual UN.
The US must win this, with help from our friends. It will take resolve, and Bush has resolve.
That's why he won.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has died. He was 75 years old.
Israeli and Palestinian officials said Arafat died on Thursday in a military hospital in Paris. They said Arafat was deemed clinically dead, but is still attached to life support systems on the insistence of his wife, Suha...
..The problem is that Arafat is still the only Palestinian official who can pay the bills. And it is unclear who, if anyone, has access to the estimated $2-3 billion in his personal Swiss bank accounts, according to a report in the current edition of Geostrategy-Direct.com. Even his wife is said to be unaware of how to access the funds.
I personally believe Arafat's death is (will be?) a great thing, and I have interpreted the sense of panic among Palestinian officials as a sign that they knew this event could touch off a civil war among the Palestianians.
However, perhaps the panic comes from another source entirely: horror at watching all that money - and all of the bombs it could buy - gathering mold in a Swiss bank account.
Oh, the pity.
If a civil war doesn't break out - a big "if" - maybe the impotence of the Palestinians will actually lead them to genuinely pursue a negotiated peace.
Great quote from The Discerning Texan:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature, and has no chance of being free unless made or kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
--John Stuart Mill
This would seem to me to describe much of Continental Europe at this point.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
What's next?Daily Kos:
Don't ignore history.
In 1964, the Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater by 23 points. Goldwater managed to carry just 6 states and Johnson won the electoral college 486-52. But the conservatives didn't give up. They didn't spend a lot of time wringing their hands. They regrouped and fought back. By 1968, Nixon crushed Humphrey in the electoral college 301-191 and won the popular vote by a million votes. If you oppose Bush, now isn't the time to feel sorry for yourself. Now is the time to get to work.
This Kerry = Goldwater formulation suffers from one key problem: Kerry is no Goldwater.
Goldwater was a fiery speaker: a small government, libertarian, internationalist hawk who frightened people with ideas that they weren't ready for in 1964. The Sixties were the era of big government, and Goldwater was crushed. Goldwater wasn't vindicated by Nixon (as Kos suggests) but by Reagan (and it did not take place until 16 years later).
Kerry, however, was not daring. Kerry presented warmed over ideas that the Democrats have been happy saying for twenty years. His problem? They have been largely discredited among the general population. Kerry's inability to say what he really thinks was not just a symptom of his aggravating verbosity; it was a necessary function of a candidate representing a party divided between minority groups, trial lawyers, teachers, peace types, the elderly and union people. They are a fractious group who share only one similar political idea: the role the government is to seize and redistribute wealth.
They believe wholeheartedly that the President should hand out goodies: welfare checks, higher salaries, social security benefits, trade protection, subsidies, price controls, and jobs. To them, government is the ability to take from others. The most dangerous thing in America is not the fact that they didn't have the votes to assume power; the most dangerous thing is that they almost did.
The most aggravating thing about politicians like the aristocratic Kerry is their unspoken formulation that people are too stupid or too lazy to get by without a check from the government. It is expressed well here:
The New York Times: Living Poor, Voting Rich:
In the aftermath of this civil war that our nation has just fought, one result is clear: the Democratic Party's first priority should be to reconnect with the American heartland.
I'm writing this on tenterhooks on Tuesday, without knowing the election results. But whether John Kerry's supporters are now celebrating or seeking asylum abroad, they should be feeling wretched about the millions of farmers, factory workers and waitresses who ended up voting - utterly against their own interests - for Republican candidates.
"Against their own interests."
Terrorism, national security, low taxes and social conservatism are not in their interests.
Getting help from the government is.
In the eyes of the elitist Democrats, these poor people are too dumb to even know what their interests are.
This kind of condescension stings in the heartland. And thank God it does.
If there was anyone among the Democrats who could be a Goldwater, it was Howard Dean. It would have been therapeutic watching Dean get nominated and crushed. Dean had his party's heart.
Watching Kerry the bland get beaten only shows how far their heart is from the heart of America.
So where do the Democrats go from here? It is common knowledge that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee in 2008 (I believe that she will run against John McCain).
I suspect that Clinton's national support is overrated: it is miles wide and inches deep (it is practically non-existent in the South, which, for demographic reasons, will be an increasingly important force in national politics).
Clinton will probably run with or against John Edwards and Barak Obama. All are candidates with a noticeable weak spot: foreign policy seriousness (it runs in the party these days).
By 2008, they might have another weak spot as well: their inability to present any real plan to prevent the bottomless sense of entitlement of the Baby Boom Generation from seizing more of the national wealth.
2004 was the first year in which Social Security paid out more than it took in. In 2008, this problem - coupled with the disastrous state of Medicare - will be an increasingly large drain on the US budget. Doing nothing is not an option, for the long term liabilty of these two programs is around 70 TRILLION dollars.
The amount of money that politicians will be able to hand out to buy votes in 2008 will be smaller than it is today (and it won't be going up). The programs will have to be reformed, and only the Republicans have a plan for that.
Money will have to be squeezed from other parts of the government. When voters are given a choice between liberal darlings like the EPA or law enforcement, who do you think is going to win?
2008 will be no time to talk about nationalizing health care.
The future of fiscal conservatism is bright in this country, even if our economic future is frightening.
Choices will be made by the voters, or choices will be made our creditors.
But choices will be made.
And they won't be choices that Democrats are going to like. The demise of the "Era of Big Government" was prematurely declared.
But it is coming regardless. The Democrats had better prepare for it.
Those unlikely voters
From The Illuminated Donkey:
Zogby Final National Poll of 2,836 Unlikely Voters.
18%: Planning to Register Any Day Now
17%: The Guy on the TeeVee
14%: The Other Guy..You Know...Him
13%: Shit, You Think I Wanna Get Called for Jury Duty?
9%: Yeah, Right, Like I'm Spending My Day Off in a High-School Cafeteria
8%: Not Bothering Until I Can Vote by Phone, Like for American Idol
8%: Curious to See If P. Diddy Will Carry Through on His Threat
6%: Wait a Minute...This Tuesday? You Sure?
Margin of Sampling Error: +/- 35%
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Well the day is finally here, and tomorrow - for better or worse - it (should) all be over with.
I think Bush will win by about 30 or so electoral votes and by about 3% in the popular vote. Just a gut feeling. Bush is running strong in the Midwest and he has a structural advantage in the Electoral College. He is virtually certain to get 191 votes out of the gate, another 40 votes or so seem pretty much to be his, and if he wins Florida and Ohio, the election is over. If he doesn't win Ohio, he can still win, but it will be tougher. (If he loses Florida, he is probably toast).
Make no mistake: I am still worried. I believe that we are locked in the opening phase of World War IV - a huge civilization altering war that will make Iraq and Afghanistan look like minor dust-ups.
The fact that many Americans choose to deny this reality is very disturbing to me. The Arab World is diseased and it will not heal itself. But a democratic Iraq offers a way out. Eighty percent of Iraqis want to see their country governed democratically, and most believe it is getting better, not worse. We must not abandon them to the thugs who have terrorized the Arab world for decades.
Kerry's election would tell the world that we are throwing in the towell and abandoning the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who are working with us. It will - I believe - make a much more destructive war inevitable (one probably involving nuclear weaponry). Even if President Kerry were to keep the course in Iraq, his election would encourage our enemies.
To govern is to choose, and so far, Kerry has done a surprisingly good job of getting people to ignore the fact that he has difficulty making decisions.The last indecisive president we had was Jimmy Carter, and his four years were filled with foreign policy setbacks -the Iranian crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Soviet troops in Cuba, Cuban troops in the Carribean and Central America, and communists advancing everywhere.
Kerry will face much of the same, against enemies who are worse in many ways: our enemies today have no homes, and they are driven by a fanatical desire to die in suicide attacks. They crave the world's most dangerous weapons, and Kerry's lukewarm approach to terror will insure that they will get them.
If Kerry is the winner, there will be celebrations in Ramallah, Tehran, Pyongyang, and Damascus (and Paris).
I have plenty of reasons to hate George Bush. As a fiscal conservative, I have been absolutely disgusted by his spending and his big new government programs.
If it wasn't for this war, I doubt I could even vote for him.
But I will vote for him enthusiastically.
The Democrats are screaming that this election will be like no other. Don't trust the polls, they say. New voters will swarm the booths and cast Bush out of office!
But I am heartened by what James Carville said in 1992. He scrunched up his face in that strange smile of his, revealing his rodent-like teeth. The strange little man said - in between nervous Beavis laughs - something like this:
"In Louisiana, you know what we call a candidate who thinks new voters are going to come out of the woodwork and sweep him into office?
We call him a loser."
So it will be - I pray - for John Kerry.
Update: Thank God. It's over (except for the lawsuits)....Good night.
State high court agrees to hear foul-ball case
Who is responsible when a baseball fan is struck by a foul ball during a game?
The New Jersey Supreme Court will consider that question in the coming months as it decides a lawsuit by a spectator who was beaned while buying a beer at Riverfront Stadium in Newark.
The case could affect sports events across the state, requiring the building of more protective barriers, attorneys for the Newark Bears minor-league baseball team said.
It could also drive up the cost of liability insurance for teams, from Little League to major league, the lawyers said.
Louis Maisonave of Newark was struck by a baseball Aug. 26, 1999, and sued the Bears, who lease Riverfront Stadium, and Gourmet Dining Services of South Orange, N.J., the ballpark's concessionaire.
What a jerk.
Monday, November 01, 2004
The scadalous Osama-Rove link!
Tim Blair: ROVE/OSAMA LINK REVEALED
Walter Cronkite identifies the evil genius responsible for the latest Osama bin Laden video:"So now the question is basically right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."
Oh, they’re e-mailing each other all the time:
Date: Thurs October 28, 2004
Subject: new videotaping we have
Is Osama here. How you do? Hope all is well with campaign for evil, etc. (How about that John Kerry wife - the crazy one. Two burkas for her at least! Kerry, he was surely wearing the fermented hummous goggles when they wed!)
Anyways, maybe can help campaign with new video, featuring me in star role. See attachmented clip below.
Yours in happiness,
Date: Thurs October 28, 2004
Subject: re: new videotaping we have
Osama, you old dog!
By all means, please release this video ASAP. And, as we’ve previously discussed, for every percentage point we gain in the swing states we’ll send you another kidney we’ve harvested from murdered Democrats in Florida.
Hot new product
This is really cool:
The Delphi MyFi is the first-ever portable, personal, handheld XM2GO satellite radio. The MyFi has a "live" listening mode that lets you listen to XM Satellite Radio's more than 130 digital radio channels live, as well as a "memory" mode for storing five hours or more of XM programming.
Inspections were working!
Now, let's step back and put this all in context--the context offered by Mr. Duelfer's report. The news there isn't that there appear to have been no large stockpiles of WMD in Iraq at the time of the March 2003 invasion. That's been clear for more than a year. Rather, the news is that we now know straight from Saddam himself, his scientists, and his fellow high-level detainees that Saddam intended to restart his weapons program the second U.N. sanctions were lifted. And we now know that he would never have unambiguously come clean on his WMD programs because he wanted his enemies (especially the U.S. and Iran) to believe he had them.
In other words, had the weapons inspections been allowed to continue, as Mr. Kerry says he wanted, a U.S. President would have eventually faced the same uncertainties and the same agonizing choice that Mr. Bush did when he decided to commit the U.S. to war. Remember, too, that the final round of inspections was won only with a build-up of U.S. troops in the Gulf, and that a decision to accept as satisfactory the desultory cooperation that Saddam gave these inspectors would have meant overwhelming international pressure for immediate lifting of all sanctions.
There were reasonable arguments against having gone into Iraq. But in light of this latest evidence, the arguments Mr. Kerry and his team have been making--that more inspections might have yielded something, and that the real coalition of the bribed at the Security Council might ever have supported force--don't pass the laugh test, never mind the global one.
Joke from The Village Itself:
A farmer got pulled over by a Lansing Police Officer for speeding, and the officer started to lecture the farmer about his speed, and in general began to throw his weight around to try to make the farmer uncomfortable.
Finally, the officer got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing that, he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head.
The farmer said, "Having some problems with circle flies there, are ya?"
The officer stopped writing the ticket and said, "Well yeah, if that's what they are; I never heard of circle flies."
So the farmer says, "Well, circle flies are common on farms. See, they're called circle flies because they're almost always found circling around the back end of a horse."
The officer says, "Oh," and goes back to writing the ticket. Then after a minute he stops and says, "Hey...wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse's ass?"
The farmer says, "Oh no, officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horse's ass."
The officer says, "Well, that's a good thing," and goes back to writing the ticket.
After a long pause, the farmer says, "Hard to fool them flies though."