Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: January 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Monday, January 31, 2005

Asteroid Douglasadams Mostly Harmless

Asteroid Named for Adams

Asteroid 2001DA42 has been renamed in honor of Douglas Adams, author of the five books in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy (don't ask, you'll have to read the books).

It's a relatively unremarkable space rock, orbiting 224 million miles (358 million kilometers) from the sun in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

Scientists unsure of whether it's actually on a course for Magrathea, to meet with the mice.

So pack your towel, earthlings, and above all, Don't Panic!

Barkeep! Six pints of bitter, and quickly please. The world's about to end.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

No, we're not going to to attack Iran next... Posted by Hello

War is Peace

This is part three of a three-part series inspired by a chance viewing of George Orwell's 1984 last night. I've read the book several times, but had never seen a film adaptation of it. Seeing it with my Significant Other sparked a spirited discussion on the parallels between IngSoc and our current political climate, which led to a post entitled "Ignorance is Strength" (see below). Backwards kind-of-guy that I am, I followed up with "Freedom is Slavery" about the elections in Iraq and the type of slavery we're imposing on them. And now for the last chapter, "War is Peace", which is the first of the three slogans of the Party. Thanks to the miracle of blogmatics, this post will end up on top, and you folks who are surfing at work on Monday will see this one first. Ain't technology grand?

War is Peace is an easy concept to grasp. In fact, our current regime has convinced the majority of Americans of its legitimacy. The war in Iraq is a war on terrorism, keeping the bad guys fighting on their own soil in order to keep them from fighting on ours. What they don't tell you is that most of them weren't bad guys until we invaded their country. When it was apparent that we weren't going to catch bin Laden easily, our leaders went after an easier target. Terrorists like bin Laden don't have a home base. When things get hot, they move out and set up camp elsewhere. Not so the leader of a country. With his base of operations in the hands of an occupying army, Saddam Hussein had nowhere to go, and so ended up in a spider hole. With mission accomplished, Bush declared victory. Unfortunately, over a year later it's still unsafe for the average Iraqi to walk the streets, especially if they have anything to do with us "liberators". And our military's occupation of their country is not likely to end anytime soon.

Before we're done in Iraq, though, we'll be spreading out into other countries in the Middle East. Iran, Syria, Libya and any other Muslim nation that doesn't bow to our demands will find themselves occupied as well. And in each of these nations, insurgents will rise up against our efforts to Americanize them. After all, these cultures are thousands of years old, and based on very strict religious principles. They see our culture as decadent, and we're trying to change them into copies of us by force. Imagine if it were reversed. Our mountains would be crawling with American insurgents if we were conquered by Muslim fundamentalists and forced to adopt their values.

So war will be a constant for the forseeable future. We'll continue to move further toward a war economy, with little resources left for us folks at home. Wartime contractors will lead the Dow Jones and NASDAQ markets, R&D will be geared towards bigger and better (and more expensive) weapon systems. We'll be asked to make further sacrifices for the war effort. And yes, casualties will continue to be a daily topic of the news.

But that's a small price to pay to have peace here at home. We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia. And Big Brother is a kind and benevolent protector.

Freedom is Slavery

Well, the elections in Iraq are unfolding about like we expected. As of this writing, "only" 44 dead so far. Only in this regime could I believe that success of a democratic election is determined by body count.

Most of the electorate is afraid to go to the polls - those who've shown up were primarily security forces. In some cases, even the election administrators stayed away because of fear of violence. And the administration and the media are already calling this election a success.

Back in June, when the administration was pushing for this election to take place in January no matter what, we knew it would be a farce. Even a few weeks ago we knew that Bush and company would call it a success regardless of the turnout or outcome. Are we psychic? No, just realistic.

The Iraqi people live in constant fear of violence. Even performing mundane tasks like shopping, or going to work or school, carries the danger that they might not make it home again. Sure, before we invaded their country there was the chance that if they pissed off their leaders, they might disappear. But now it's random. They can live the most careful existence and still may end up at the wrong end of a car bomb.

The media is still justifying this war, reporting that Saddam killed millions of his own people. That may be true, but it's also true of many dictatorships in South and Central America, Africa, and even parts of Europe. Where is the push to bring democracy to those regions? There isn't one, primarily because those regions don't have what we want. We're focusing on the Middle East because that's where the majority of the world's oil reserves are, and if we let them dictate their own future, we'd put ourselves at risk of running out of gas.

So we liberate their masses, and in the process lock them into relying on us for protection and aid. And in a way, that's a form of slavery. If they ever did tell us to kiss off, we'd just declare them a dictatorship and start bombing them again.

So enjoy your freedom, Iraq. Just do it inside your home and hope it doesn't get blown up. And don't even think about defying us. We pulled your sorry butt out of the fire, we can put you right back in it.

Ignorance is Strength

Saw a film adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 last night. I've read the book several times, but didn't even know someone had made a film of it. Saw it on Showtime On Demand. That iControl stuff is great! I saw it with someone who didn't know the story, so there was a lot of rewinding and 'splainin' going on. Movies rarely tap the intensity or detail of books, and this was no exception, but in its simplicity I realized something I'd never thought of while reading the book. Wilson and Julia never accomplished a damn thing as part of the revolution! Sure, they had the illusion of freedom for a while, but that's it. They never convinced one other person that the government was wrong, and that there might be a better way of living.

It got me thinking about what I'm doing here. I can rant and rave all day long about the atrocities committed in the name of freedom, about how Big Brother and company are lying to us daily, and how much better the world would be if we spread the wealth instead of confining it to the "Inner Party Members". But I'd be suprised if less than 99% of the people who read this don't already agree with me. And the other 1% pass it off as the ravings of a lazy, leftist, liberal lunatic (hey, I coined a new acronym! I'm 4L!).

The funny thing is, I never considered myself a liberal, or even a Democrat. Last November, I didn't vote a straight party ticket. Naive little ol' me, I researched each candidate and voted for whom I thought would serve the people better. For example: for Railroad Commisioner, I had a choice of a Republican who had worked in the railroad and the oil industries as an attorney with no apparent ties to Big Business, or a Democrat who was a retired marriage counselor. I chose the Republican based on experience. For President, I voted against Bush, 'cause I saw firsthand how he had raped Texas' economy and it's citizens to line his own pockets, and how he'd done the same thing to America in his first term (this time lining the pockets of those who got him there). After the election, I was suprised at how many people, who I thought were intellegent and thinking individuals, had voted straight party Republican and knew virtually nothing about any of the candidates other than that Kerry was against God and Freedom.

So while you and I are tapping away at our keyboards trying to spread the truth, the ignorant masses are out there shouting "traitor!" at the image of the voice of dissent, and they're winning. In the end, will we end up just like Winston and Julia - thinking we have freedom while Big Brother is behind the screen laughing at us, just biding his time until he breaks in and tells us that we really are already dead?

Is what we're doing really just mental masturbation? Sure it feels good, and leaves one feeling satisfied afterward. But then what? Do it again tomorrow (or later today, if the mood strikes), and bide time until the hammer drops?

Someone please tell me there's hope for democracy. That Oceania isn't only an election or two away. Just in case, I think I'll start looking into buying an island in the Carribean. If there are any left, that is.

A NewSpeak Primer - Lesson One Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Gonzo Evasive. What, that suprises you?

Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet?
Torture's Path

Senate Democrats put off a vote on White House counsel Alberto Gonzales's nomination to be attorney general, complaining he had provided evasive answers to questions about torture and the mistreatment of prisoners. But Gonzales's most surprising answer may have come on a different subject: his role in helping President Bush escape jury duty in a drunken-driving case involving a dancer at an Austin strip club in 1996. The judge and other lawyers in the case last week disputed a written account of the matter provided by Gonzales to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's a complete misrepresentation," said David Wahlberg, lawyer for the dancer, about Gonzales's account.

Apparently Gonzo asked for an off-the-record conference with the Judge, in which he asked for then-Governor Bush to be stricken from the jury, in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Supposedly, they forsaw the stripper seeking a pardon from Prince George, but it was most likely so that George's previous DUI conviction didn't come to light and spoil his political aspirations. Indeed, Gee Dubya did not fill in the blank asking if he had ever been accused in a criminal case. Or could it have been that he couldn't have truthfully answered the question "Do you know the defendant" during jury selection?

In any event, Gonzo acted in an unethical manner, but showed loyalty to His Majesty. That's why he's been nominated for attorney general. I personally would prefer someone with ethics and the skills to do the job. Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen with this adminstration...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Media's meal ticket gets punched

They'll have to go back to reporting facts

Bush's Education Dept. paid commentator to promote law
Bush tells Cabinet not to hire columnists

The Bush Administration is changing its tactics on dealing with journalists. Apparently, some unpatriotic elements are claiming that it's unethical to pay journalists with taxpayers money to promote the administrations policies. So naturally, Gee Dubya blames the outgoing Education Secretary, Rod Paige (the buck stops where?), and promises to play nice with the media.

Bush said there "needs to be a nice independent relationship between the White House and the press, the administration and the press."

And he noted that "we have new leadership going into the Department of Education."

What prompted this stance was the revelation that yet another journalist has apologized for taking administration (i.e. taxpayers) money to promote their $300 million initiative to encourage marriage.

I think some reflection is needed here. $300 million to promote marriage. None for sex education, or how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, other than abstinence. Marriage or abstinence. Marriage and abstinence. Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, lets move on.

So now we can expect the elitist liberal media to go back to its evil ways of criticizing the administration for its narrow minded and self serving policies, and not have to worry about them being tainted by the temptation of monetary gain for their favorable objectivity. Ain't democracy grand?

No steps forward, two steps back

Rice wins easy confirmation for top State post
Senate panel OKs Gonzales on 10-8 vote

Well, here we go. Fasten your seat belts, people, because the wild ride begins. One of dubya's chief warmongers (and not even a very good one) is now our highest diplomat, and our highest ranking advocate of torture is well on his way to becoming our nation's Top Cop.

Look out world. We don't need your stinking badges. We'll spread "freedom" wherever we want no matter what you think about it. Of course, we'll start with countries that have vast natural resources, 'cause otherwise, what's the point. How can you have spoils of war without spoils.

And here at home, thanks to the threat of terrorism, our government can have access to any information about its citizens that it can think of, regardless of civil rights. After all, we're fighting terrorism here. What are a few trampled rights when the greater good is at stake, right? And why do you need privacy if you have nothing to hide?

Please keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times. And you might watch your head also. Especially if you're traveling abroad.

Not Bad For a White Guy

Mayor unveils first specific actions on air toxics issue

I like this Bill White guy. As soon as he took office as Houston’s Mayor, he started throwing off the chains of mediocrity and changing things for the better. For the people, that is, not just his cronies. I first took notice of this when he synchronized the traffic lights downtown in order to relieve congestion. His detractors claimed this was a cheap stunt to gain approval, and that it was too easy. Yeah, it was cheap – it cost the taxpayers virtually nothing, and showed immediate results. Apparently it was easy also, which made me wonder why none of his predecessors did it.

Of course he was also instrumental in the Safe Clear program fiasco, in which broken down vehicles on the freeway are immediately towed, again to relieve congestion. But when the debris hit the fan, he didn’t cancel the program, or maintain a hard line, or blame someone else. He jumped in with both feet and vowed to solve the program’s problems without scrapping it, and asked for the public’s opinions on how to do it.

Now he’s opened another can of worms, and is showing a lot of cojones in doing so. He’s vowed to crack down on polluters who are dumping excessive toxins into our air.

"We will begin to place air quality monitors outside the plant gates of those firms most likely identified as the source of these excess levels of air toxics," White said in his second annual State of the City address.

"I don't want to wait two or three years," the mayor later said in a briefing. "I don't care who does it, but if somebody doesn't do it quick, we are going to do it."

White didn’t just pull this crusade out of thin air (au contraire!). Earlier this month, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued a report stating that levels of 1,3-butadiene in an East End public park were high enough to increase cancer risks. The Houston Chronicle also published results of its own monitoring program, showing high levels of several chemicals on Houston’s east side.

Anyone who has driven state highway 225 through Pasadena, or down Bay Area Blvd along the Armand Bayou Nature Center would not be surprised at these findings. I’ve often wondered how the wildlife in that nature center could flourish, likewise the residents of Pasadena, Deer Park, La Porte and other areas. Of course, White’s authority only reaches as far as the city limits, so who knows how this will affect those residents anyway.

One thing’s certain, though. The refining and petrochemical industries won’t take this lying down. The cost of monitoring alone is prohibitive – that’s why the TCEQ doesn’t do it, and why very little enforcement is done. A single monitoring station can cost a quarter of a million dollars, and up to $80,000 annually to maintain. One of the big questions for this initiative is who will pay for monitoring, and I’m sure the industry won’t be volunteering. It’ll be much more economical for them to push their lobbyists to persuade state legislators to put a kibosh on the whole affair, especially if monitoring demonstrates that there are leaks which will need to be abated.

I can see the controversy now – the industry won’t pay for it because it’s bad for the economy, and if the city pays for it, it’s those damn “tax and spend librulls” at it again!

Wake up, y’all! This is the air that we breathe! Once it’s ruined, we can’t just import more from the Middle East (assuming there’s any left when we get done over there). Where’s the fun in making smokers into second class citizens if we’re going to be breathing in toxins anyway?

For too long, emphasis has been put on motorists to minimize their vehicle emissions, while industry continues to spew smoke and toxic particles into the air. Hopefully the Mayor can get them to change their way of doing business. And also, hopefully, before it’s too late.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The stage is set...

Wow! What a great football day! First the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-10, then the New England Patriots whomp on the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-27 to take the AFC Division Title. So the stage is set for what promises to be a spirited Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6th in Jacksonville, Florida. Party at my house!

New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch, 83, hauls in a pass in front of Pittsburgh Steelers Deshea Townsend, 26, for a 60-yard touchdown in the first quarter of the AFC Championship game Sunday in Pittsburgh.
 Posted by Hello

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook (36) rushes past Atlanta Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney (97), safety Bryan Scott (24) and defensive end Brady Smith (91) during the NFC championship game in Philadelphia.
 Posted by Hello

One down, one to go

McNabb, Westbrook and the boys rushed, blocked, sacked, ran and caught touchdown passes for the NFC Division Title today. With a 27-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1981! Now if the Pats can win against the Steelers, we'll have a good Super Bowl matchup. Go New England!

What goes around...

They just don't get it. Whenever business gets bad, they blame it on external factors and try to hide poor performance from the stockholders. Sound like Enron/WorldCom/insert corporation here? This time, the SEC is taking a bite out of Krispy Kreme, the boutique doughnut, for padding shipments just before financial reporting periods end in order to make their numbers look good.

At first (after they got caught, of course), they blamed their poor performance on the lo-carb diet craze. Well guess what, lo-carb is no longer in vogue, and they still posted a weekly sales per store loss of 18% in the 4th quarter of 2004. Now they're talking about closing stores to pull them out of the hole (pun intended).

Also, to avoid further dunkings, they sacked their CEO, Scott Livengood. Scott was instrumental in taking the company public, as well as watching the stock plummet from $50/share down to $8. Of course, he'll still be in the dough - he's eligible for over half a million dollars in consulting fees over the next year, as well as stock options. At a projected profit margin of 5%, that means they have to sell over $10 million worth of doughnuts just to pay his consulting fees. Yeah, that'll help the company recover.

What they don't seem to understand is that, with the economy like it is, people are looking for value. A Krispy Kreme doughnut cost 50% more than the average donut shop doughnut. Granted, that's only 20 cents each, but who ever buys only one doughnut? Usually it's by the dozen, and unless you're in a sales profession, a box of doughnuts shouldn't be an investment.

Sure, they're good, but so is Starbucks' chocolate Chantico, and at three bucks a cup I won't be consuming them regularly either.

So, reality check, y'all. Cut your profit margin and make your doughnuts competitive, or go back to the boutique niche market. Unless, of course, the SEC finds more shenanigans when they conclude their investigation. Me, I'm going to go watch some championship football. And watch some other overpaid professionals get Kreme'd.

Speaking of which, great football weekend, eh? The Eagles and the Patriots both in championship matches! And no Randy Moss (Man, am I glad his fifteen minutes of fame are over).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

And now, Sponges on Trampolines!
(In their underpants!) Posted by Hello

Terrorists, blah blah tyrants, blah blah blah

Bush's radio address: about what you'd expect
President Bush called this week's inaugural ceremony a simple and humbling experience today.

Yeah, simple if you're used to spending $40,000,000 on a three day party. Personally, I could have thought of better uses for the money.
The president also pledged continued support of the Iraqis, as well as the people of Afghanistan, as they move to build democratic societies. "When America gives its word, America must keep its word."

Unfortunately, it's leaders don't feel obligated to follow the same principles.
"We will strive to keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists and tyrants," he said in the radio speech. "We will continue to promote freedom, hope and democracy in the broader Middle East."

Uh, oh. I forsee a lot of bunkers being dug. Note to self: invest in heavy construction equipment maufacturers.
"In the years since I first swore to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, our nation has been tested," he said. "Our enemies have found America more than equal to the task. In response to attacks on our home soil, we have captured or killed terrorists across the earth."

Yeah, except the one's who attacked us.

Ah, Democracy! Ain't it grand? King George thinks he has a mandate, that because 50.8% of voters thought he was the lesser of available evils, he has free reign. We shall see. His approval rating is already declining, and he's just been sworn in. Time will tell.

Hollywood's latest attempt to gayify our kids

Video with SpongeBob Alarms Christian Groups

It's a good thing that the religious right community is looking after us. Otherwise, I would have never known that SpongeBob SquarePants was gay. Apparently, he lives in a pineapple (Get it? A fruit!), and cavorts in his underwear with his other gender-neutral friends in the water. Sounds like the perfect Will & Grace dream sequence to me.

SpongeBob might as well ride off into the sunset with Tinky Winky, because we know what detrimental effect controversy has on merchandising. Once the religious right condemns you, you'll never be able to sell another lunchbox or boxer shorts gift set again. Of course that didn't work with South Park, but then they had a deal with the devil, so that doesn't count.

As long as we're outing fictional characters, why stop there. Its time we set the record straight. Of course, everyone knows about Peter Pan, but no one ever said anything. I guess Neverland has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And the Mad Hatter? Puh-leez! Flamboyant as they come. And the White Rabbit might also be gay, or just British.

Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Nuff said. Santa's elves? No question. And any superhero who wears tights. Yes, that includes Superman. Hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere. Admit it, doesn't Clark Kent act like that guy in your office who never seems to date girls?

Now that we know what we're up against, whaddya say we set about removing these influences so our children won't get any ideas we don't want them to have. We haven't had a good book burning in ages.

Does this scare you as much as it does me? It should. That's the direction our society's "moral compass" is pointing towards. Today it's SpongeBob, tomorrow Lewis Carroll. Where will it all end? Tune in next time. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Rules? Nobody said anything about rules!

Yes, integrity is important.

...anybody can set up a "Web log" to publish his or her ideas -- and at last count, an estimated eight million people in the U.S. are doing so...

That's me. One in eight million. You know what they say - opinions are like belly buttons... everyone's got one (except Adam and Eve , of course). That's what's great about these blogs - there's such a wide range of viewpoints, and most of them have at least some validity.

Indeed, many bloggers see the blogosphere... as a vast, open forum in which many perspectives can coexist to create an overall picture that's more accurate than the mainstream media.

"The point of blogging is to say what you actually think -- opinion, not the traditional ideal of journalism."

So what are the rules of blogging? I haven't seen any published, but being a rookie, I would think being honest with yourself is important. Keep profanity to a minimum if you want to make your point to the widest possible audience. And keep it civil. You won't get people to change their outlook by insulting them (I guess I need to work on this one).

You may be saying, "what do you know, you still use the term 'blogosphere'?'. But I do know that if you want to change my opinion: 1) treat me with respect, 2) give me salient, coherent facts that I can confirm, not rhetoric or mantra, and 3) make it funny (okay, I just threw that last one in 'cause I like to laugh).

That said, Blog On, y'all. I'll keep banging away at this keyboard as long as my server is alive, and I hope you will too. Maybe together we'll make a noise loud enough to knock down the walls of ignorance, and help create understanding.

Yeah, right. Never mind, just make it funny.

Synapses firing at NyQuil speed

I hate being sick. Okay, hate’s a pretty strong word – I don’t really hate anything. Let’s say that I severely dislike "being sick"s guts. I feel like I’m plodding along, dragging my head through the muck and mire, which is mostly green and yellow and has clogged every major orifice and cavity in my upper respiratory system.

I must have coughed up at least three lungs’ worth of congestion in the past couple of days. My brain is stuck on slomo playback, and I have just enough energy to make it to the couch, where I toss and turn and fondly but vaguely remember what it’s like to sleep.

Then perspective rears its pesky head. After all, this is only a cold. It’ll be mostly gone next week, whereas the people in Southeast Asia have a lot worse problems that won’t be going away any time soon. They need food, water, medicine, sanitary conditions and heavy trash pickup. Sure, they have elephants, but it’ll take a lot more than that to bring them back from hunger, thirst, disease and mental anguish.

I have it on good authority that the Mercy Corps is doing just that. Please find it in your heart to help these people help those who really need it. According to my source, 91% of contributions make it directly into the field as program support.

Every little bit helps, y’all. So do what you can. Or I’ll come to your house and give you my cold.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Red, White and Blue. But Mostly Red.

I attended a flag retirement ceremony this past weekend. In case you didn’t know, when a flag becomes unserviceable, it’s supposed to be retired in a dignified manner. This entails being separated into its component parts and consumed by a modest but dignified fire. As each component is consumed, attendees are asked to contemplate the meaning of each component.

First, the white stripes, which represent the purity of our democratic principles, are laid on the fire. This is where I got uneasy. I mean, I love this country dearly, and consider myself patriotic (and I mean sincerely patriotic, not just arrogantly shouting slogans), but I believe we’ve seriously deflowered the purity of our democratic principles. I support defending ourselves if we’re attacked, and would eagerly join the front line in that endeavor. But to start a war over oil or for revenge, and then attempt to justify it by claiming to bring democracy to the trampled masses? Puh-leez! Don’t insult my intelligence. And don’t expect me to send my sons or daughters to die for your arrogance.

Next, the red stripes are laid on the fire. These stripes represent the blood shed by those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. Here, I humbly bow to their selflessness. These are the true patriots. From before the Revolutionary War to the present, Americans have gone forth willingly to fight for what they believe is right. Those who died (and those who didn’t) deserve our deepest respect for stepping up when duty called, and putting their lives on the line when it really counted. Even if they died because of someone else’s arrogance or ignorance, they believed they were doing their duty, and deserve to be commended for it.

Finally, the union is laid on the fire. The blue field and white stars represent unity among all Americans. It represents an ideal unity, a unity that we have not seen since the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Remember when everyone had an American flag on their vehicle? They’ve since traded those vehicles in for Hummers and Lexuses (Lexi?), and you seldom see a flag on a vehicle anymore.

Sure, there are magnetic ribbons, but those are just to impress the neighbors. One store employee asked me if I wanted to buy one (“They’re on sale!”, she said). I asked how much of the proceeds went to support the troops, and she looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently I shouldn’t expect a ribbon that says “support the troops” to actually support the troops. And showing people that I support the troops is more important than actually supporting the troops. When I said “no, thanks”, she stared at me, almost as if she suspected me of being a terrorist disguised as an average white guy.

But I digress. Anyway, the ceremony was very touching, capped off by a haunting rendition of “Taps” played on a bugle in the distance. It reminded me of how lucky I was to be born in this country, where at least the ideals are noble, and I can question the leadership of this nation without fear of (too much) retribution.

We do, however, need to work on the ideals that the flag stands for. The red stripes are well represented, as there is no shortage of blood shed by patriots. But if we take the white stripes (purity) and the union (unity) out of the equation, we’re left with nothing but a Red Flag. And anyone who's ever been involved in running a business should understand what that implies.

Iraq can be such a drag...

...on Bush's domestic agenda.

For Bush, much hinges on outcome of Iraq war

Apparently, Bush's war in Iraq could bite him in the ass as he tries to push his domestic agenda during this term. As the war's costs in billions of dollars and thousands of lives climb, eventually people will look past the smoke and mirrors and see the man behind the curtain for what he is - a spiteful, arrogant wanna-be who uses the most powerful nation on earth to further his own shortsighted agenda.

"The enormous costs of the war create an economic drag on any major initiatives. And if the news from Iraq does not improve, there is a danger that the public loses confidence in him," said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas professor specializing in presidential politics.

The key phrase here is "if the news ... does not improve". True to form, the administration will spin the media to make sure the news improves, even though the situation doesn't.

Then, of course, there's the emotional strain and anguish that dubya must be going through for having to send soldiers to their deaths in order to achieve his goals.

The responsibility of sending troops to die in combat, marked by rituals such as signing letters to bereaved families and visiting soldiers who have been permanently disabled, has weighed on each man to hold the office.

"It is a painful thing, a difficult thing. Any president takes that personally," said Ray Price, a speechwriter and friend of former President Nixon.

Dallek said Bush has not yet exhibited the strain...

Of course not. He's a chucklehead who doesn't forsee the consequences of his actions. Besides, he believes it's worth the cost (although I don't see Barb & Jenna enlisting anytime soon). And he doesn't sign the condolence letters, he has his henchmen stamp a signature on them.

And a firm belief that "the fate of the world depends to a degree on how Iraq turns out" could help sustain Bush and limit the emotional strain of war, Price said.

That optimism will be reflected by the American people if the upcoming Iraqi elections are perceived as successful, and there is a growing sense that the U.S. presence there is not open ended, said Buchanan.

But if the elections in Iraq come and go with no clear signs of improvement, Bush will face a dangerous moment early in his second term.

"Public opinion is already hovering under 50 percent for the war. What we saw with both Johnson, and also (former President Harry) Truman during Korea, their domestic aspirations were condemned by discontent with an unpopular war," Buchanan said. "That doesn't augur well for Bush."

So what it boils down to is that the Bush administration needs to stick with the strategy that got them back into the White House for a second term. Repeat it often enough and it becomes the truth. "The war is going great, we're doing this to make us safer, and the Iraqi elections were a success (oh yeah, they haven't happened yet)".

Then it's on to bigger and better things, like raping the land, driving the economy into the ground, depriving everyone but White Christian Republicans of as many rights as possible, and basically sending our society back to the 18th century.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Funk If I Know…

Okay, no Kid Rock at the Inauguration because of his suggestive lyrics and denigration of women. But apparently the people that booked the entertainment don’t have a lot of imagination – hence the booking of Phunkiphino for the Independence Ball. Apparently they didn’t pass their Hooked On Phonics courses, but what can you expect from this administration?

Ben Stein, the poster boy for good clean monologues (not), is emceeing the Democracy Ball. And A Celebration Of Freedom will feature Dale Earnhart and the Radio City Rockettes to the delight of NASCAR Dads and, well, NASCAR Dads. Of course, everyone knows that the Rockettes are the epitome of wholesomeness and appropriate role models for today's empowered females...

Coronation Feat: Who's Who #
The line-up for the entertainment at the official inaugural balls follows after the jump. We were pleased to see that each personage is given a one-word tagline, in case you didn't know that "Kelsey Grammar" is an "Actor" or "Gloria Estefan is a "Singer," or -- okay, we were a little surprised to learn that "Don King" is "Boxing." Of course, they're all "Whores."

Of course, there are some greats performing, like the Guy Lombardo and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras, but most of the others seem to be as flavorless as possible in order to not offend anyone. It's like going to a chili cookoff for ulcer sufferers. You'll need to bring your own spice. Or a Bland-aid.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Thanks for the therapies…

Well y’all, it’s been a fun first week. I don’t know if anyone’s been reading this, but it’s been great for me to get these things off my chest. And now it’s time for a sabbatical. I’ll be off the air for the weekend, gonna go commune with nature. No phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury. No electricity or internet either, so I’ll bring pen and paper, though I probably won’t do any writing. But I will be pondering The Big Questions. Such as: if Bush’s plan of “preventing terrorist attacks before they happen” doesn’t work, how can we prevent them after they happen? That’ll be a neat trick, eh? If I can find a way to do that, I’ll be a hero. Maybe even get one of those Medals of Freedom they pass out to loyal minions. Or not.

I’ll also be musing on contemporary contradictions. Oxymorons like “compassionate conservatives” and “inaugural rock concert featuring Hillary Duff”.

Sorry, no Kid Rock at the inauguration. He is a Republican, but then so are many minorities, and you don’t see a lot of them being invited, do you? Apparently he wasn’t a large enough contributor for them to put aside their morals to make sure he got a spot in the festivities.

Even the theme of Bush’s inaugural address is scary. “Liberty is powerful, and freedom is peace.” Surely I can’t be the only one that sees shadow’s of George Orwell’s “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength” mantra from 1984. (“Of course not”, you say, “and don’t call me Shirley!”)

And why can’t I find one of those federally mandated magnetic car ribbon things that says “I support the troops, but not the war?”

Stay tuned. I’ll be back next week, hopefully with a fresh perspective and something clever to say. Or not.

Stop the Presses! Bush Admits Making Mistakes (sort of)

"I don't know if you'd call it a regret, but it certainly is a lesson that a president must be mindful of, that the words that you sometimes say. I speak plainly sometimes, but you've got to be mindful of the consequences of the words. So put that down. I don't know if you'd call that a confession, a regret, something."

Whaa? Even when he says he doesn’t know what he’s saying, he’s incoherent.

No, he just looks anal retentive. Posted by Hello

When your fundraiser is also a lobbyist, the fun never stops.

News Flash! Polititians use their position to give their friends access to large government contracts.

Two Democratic congressmen on Thursday asked Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to provide Congress written communications between his department and a lobbying firm run by a longtime friend.

The request stems from an Associated Press story that the day after President Bush named him secretary, Ridge flew to Arizona and spent several days with a prominent Bush-Cheney fund-raiser, David Girard-diCarlo. It was the first of two trips Ridge made to Scottsdale, Ariz., in late 2002 and early 2003 to stay at Girard-diCarlo's home.

Two of Ridge's homeland security aides left the White House after the first trip and went to work for Girard-diCarlo lobbying Ridge's newly created department. Several of the lobbying firm's clients have been awarded contracts by the department.

And you thought that all Tom Ridge did while he worked for the Bush administration was come up with the color coded terror alert system. No, he's been doing what he does best. He got the Homeland Security job by being one of Bush's biggest fundraisers in the 2000 election. Now he's sharing his good fortune with his buddies, who not only raised funds for him, but also get to lobby him for lucrative contracts.

At the time of Ridge's trips, Girard-diCarlo's firm represented Raytheon, one of a team of companies that Homeland Security recently awarded border protection work worth up to $10 billion over the next decade.

Girard-diCarlo's friendship with Ridge dates back more than a decade when his fund-raising was instrumental in Ridge's two successful campaigns for the Pennsylvania governorship.

Oh, the tough life of the public servant. But it seems that all that effort of scratching the other guy's back pays off. Whaddya wanna bet Tom makes a comfortable living in the lobbying business after he's done shilling for the current administration?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The return of Rock 101 (sort of...)

Fox26 News (okay, not the most reliable source) announced Tuesday that Cumulus Media will resurrect the format and on-air personalities from the now defunct Rock 101, KLOL (a Clear Channel station), which was pulled off the air because of reduced ratings. Among the DJs being resurrected are Walton & Johnson, Stevens & Pruett, and Outlaw Dave.

First of all, let me say that Outlaw Dave Rocked! He played kick-butt Rock & Roll. He was smart, promoted tolerance, and always had the most luscious, yet intelligent, entourage (Lock Stebenhausen excepted, of course). I hope the new studio has a web cam.

On the other hand, these other “personalities” may put Cumulus Media in the same financial boat that prompted Clear Channel to bail.

Stevens & Pruett were yanked from KLOL a few years ago because of dismal numbers. They pandered to the lowest-common-denominator humor market, and it bit them in the part of the body they talked about the most. There were already plenty of fart-joke, ditzy-babe morning shows saturating the market, and these guys didn't play enough music to make up for their mediocrity.

Clear Channel replaced them with Walton & Johnson, a proven formula show from Louisiana. Unfortunately, the silly voices they offered didn't disguise the ignorant opinions they spewed, and again they didn't play enough music to keep listeners. This undoubtedly contributed to Clear Channel's overall decision to dump the whole station.

Of course, the other Clear Channel stations attempted to pick up KLOL's abandoned listeners. KKRW (93.7, The Arrow) added Ozzy, Guns 'N Roses, and others to their classic rock lineup (although they could have passed on Metallica and other alloys), and KKBZ (94.5, The Buzz) well, kept playing alternative rock, although they toned down on the tuneless shoutfests that have passed for music lately.

The biggest losses from the demise of KLOL were the music, the legend, and the culture. I have T-shirts from just about every KLOL blood drive for the past dozen years, and bumper stickers for every incarnation from Chrome Dome to the Runaway Radio. I’ve met DJs like Moby, Donna McKensie, Dayna Steele and others, and they were friendly and unpretentious - not like the prima donnas from the morning shows (Radio Gods? Yeah, right).

So, power to ya, Cumulus. Bring us back the real rock radio we grew up with. Just don’t expect much from your morning shows. I know I’ll be listening elsewhere then, though I’ve yet to find a morning show in this town that actually plays music and doesn’t spend most of its airtime on air-headed babblers and stupid gimmicks.

Coincidently, the new station will be broadcast at 97.5 FM. Anyone remember 97 Rocks? That was the station, and the frequency, that Moby was on before he moved to KLOL. Wouldn’t it be cool to have Moby and Outlaw Dave on the air on 97 Rocks? Fantasy Football would have nothing on that team…

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

You lost. Get over it.

How many times have I heard that since November? Well, apparently that advice isn’t being heeded by the other guys. There are currently three races being contested in Texas by Republican incumbents who were unseated by Democratic challengers. Apparently it isn’t enough that the Republicans have the majority, they want a shutout. It seems to be inconceivable to them that their party swept to victory across the state, and yet some were left behind.

One of these incumbents, Talmadge Heflin, an eleven term State Representative and Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, lost his election to Hubert Vo, a Democratic newcomer, by 33 votes out of more than 40,000 cast. The state House has subpoenaed scores of Houston-area voters who cast contested ballots in the November election.

Oddly enough, many of these voters questioned claimed to have voted a straight Republican ticket – which alone should tell the Election Contest Committee that they didn’t give the election much thought, and that’s probably why they screwed up on the ballot.

I’ll be interested in seeing how this works out. Will the Republican-dominated House back their boy in the post election glow of victory (as they did with Tom DeLay and those pesky ethics allegations), or will they concede that just maybe some voters don’t want to be represented by them?

If Bush can claim a “mandate” with a 1% margin of victory, then Hubert Vo deserves to be seated in the House of Representatives with a 33 vote margin.

Talmadge Heflin, they’ve already given your old office away. You lost. Get over it.

Hit 'em where it hurts...

Disgusted at all the money being spent on the war in Iraq, and there are still many units facing danger without sufficient protection? How about the money being spent on Dubya's inauguration celebration to placate all of the big contributors to his campaign?

There's a movement circulating on the internet called "Not One Damn Dime Day" that hopes to send a message about all of this unnecessary spending. It's easy to participate, all you have to do is not spend money on January 20 (Inauguration Day). If this creates a dip in the economy temporarily, it may finally get someone's attention. And it should have no permanent effect on anyone's livelihood, since the money will be spent either before or after the 20th anyway.

So get out your credit cards, consumers, and put them away for the day. This type of "slacktivism" is something everyone can do, and it won't cost you any time or money. Now that's my kind of protest!


The preceding post was intended as an attempt at humor. In no way was it intended as a criticism of our government. If, for some reason, this is the last post on this blog, then the authorita' did not think it funny. Excuse me, I think I hear helicopters outside...

Monday, January 10, 2005

The New PC

Remember "politically correct"? The concept that the right wing robots whined about constantly -- bleeding-heart liberals pandering to the feelings of those from other cultures? Well, good news for the robots. That concept is dead, thanks to the earth's sudden shift to the right that we all felt last November. Concern for others that see things differently is over. Now it's my way, or the highway.

Thus, the birth of the new PC, "Patriotically Correct". The new PC encourages you to shout "Traitor!" anytime someone expresses an opinion that differs from the official party line. As a public service, below are some guidelines that will help you survive, and thrive, in these times of uncertainty.

Patriotically Correct vs. Not Patriotically Correct

PC: Believing President Bush's promises.
Not PC: Expecting him to keep his promises.

PC: Believing Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11.
Not PC: Pointing out that the only thing that Iraq and Al Qaida have in common is the letter "Q".

PC: Believing that Haliburton is the only company that could handle support for the Iraq war because "it's a big job".
Not PC: Pointing out that Dick Cheney made the decision, and he used to run the company.

PC: Voting straight ticket Republican on moral grounds.
Not PC: Questioning the morality of Republican leaders who lie, cheat and bully their peers to pass legislation that benefits themselves and their friends.

Although this list is not complete, we hope it helps you cope with the new realities in our "democracy", and avoid inconveniences such as being shunned, blacklisted and branded a traitor.

A new voice among the noise

Alright! I've finally gotten my own blog! After many moons of sailing the blogosphere, agreeing with some opinions and laughing at others, it's time to put forth my own for others' amusement. Enjoy!