Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Waste O' Time 

At the end of the debates, it feels like I just wasted an hour and a half of my life. Nothing new was really said, and nothing important really happened. I will say that I think Bush will come out on top, just because of the expectations for both parties. Kerry needed to blast Bush, or at least have Bush really mess up. Neither of these things happened. But, to be fair, the race is far from over. Like we've been talking about regarding the polls, anything can happen in the next few weeks.

What gets me going also about the debates is that we heard almost nothing about social policy. Everything in the debates had to do with foreign policy, and nothing about gay marriage, health care, or social security. Does anybody care about these things? While I do, I realize that foreign policy is the most important thing. But I would still like to hear about the candidates position about social policy.

One important thing that sticks out to me is that Kerry kept bringing up Iraq, but didn't say anything new about what he would do. I suggest reading The Truth Laid Bear's list of important things during the debate. Overall though, close to a draw with Bush on top by a little.

Thoughts? Disagree? Email me dbw210@nyu.edu

Polls inform, not divide 

"The truth is that capitalist ideas have conquered our society." Not only is that comment very true, it is exactly what the country is based on. You work so that you can live the best life possible, and give your kids and your family the best opportunity to succeed. You don't work for someone else's kids. If everyone relished in hard work and capitalism, instead of waiting for their welfare check from the government, or for the government to pay for their healthcare, we wouldn't be having these problems.

Citizens are disinterested in voting because they are disinterested in their own lives. "What difference does it make who I vote for? I'm still going to get my welfare check, or disability check." The lethargy is not to be blamed, as johnamandolare agrees, on leaders, or public perception of leaders, or what the "media" thinks of leaders. The lethargy is because many people, though nowhere near a majority, are just looking for a hand out. And if these people are not interested in giving up their lethargy to chip in society with some actual work, I don't want them voting in the first place. The Zwills of the country are not the ones involved in the political debate, which you can clearly see from the language he uses in his comments. If these people were immersed in capitalistic ideals, they would head to the polls, not the other way around. And they would vote for the candidate who would tax them the least.

"Polls are worthless gauges of nothing more than who is in first place, a capitalist ideal, and they do nothing to improve and strengthen a democratic society." As for this gem, I don't really know where you get the notion of a "capitalist ideal" from seeing who's in "first place". Knowing the attitudes of the country, which is what polls are designed for, is very important if we are going to live in a democratic society, albeit a flawed one. If we don't know what public opinion is, how will our leaders know which direction to head in? This is still a democracy; the laws are based on what people want the laws to be, not what some so-called pundit or politician decides is best.


Polls are destroying democracy 

Zwill's recent comment, "the political process has gone to shit" is just sad. It has gone to shit because people like him spend more time bashing those who govern our people then proposing effective ideas that could change those in power who could do better. Democracies don't need people like Zwill, and they don't want him. Frankly, his mentality is getting old; I am tired of hearing it. It is even sadder, however, that about half of the people who can vote in this country seem to think the same way, or maybe they haven't even thought about it, they just know that they won't be able to buy a new SUV if they take off from work for the afternoon to go vote. It is this very reason that the political process has gone to shit, it is the Zwills of the world that have caused the political process to go to shit, so don't point at George W. Bush, that is much too easy. The problems that exist in this country today are of no fault of the governing, but of the governed. Healthy and prosperous democracies can only exist when they have active involvement from all of its citizens, and they can certainly do without the normative mentalities of the masses of Zwills that walk America’s streets. The truth is that capitalist ideas have conquered our society, nobody gives a shit so long as it isn’t their county being occupied, they would rather be working for a bonus so they can build the biggest house on the block. Self-serving interests have taken over; individualism has ruined the democratic legitimacy of America. Shame on the people who would rather not actively participate for a better system then bring the one they live in down. Shame on "conservatives" and "liberals" who spend more time arguing over the validity of polls then they do participating in the matters that impact them. Polls are worthless gauges of nothing more than who is in first place, a capitalist ideal, and they do nothing to improve and strengthen a democratic society. People on both sides of the fence should stop fighting with each other, and start looking forward. People have forgotten that governing officials are there to better all of the people they govern; instead Americans are more interested in first daughters, Dan Rather and The Bachelor. Polls are shit; they should be banned from elections. The only poll that has proven to be worthwhile is the one that shows how many people vote. Polls make it easy to run for office, and they take away all of a candidate’s substance at the same time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Conservative Bias in the Polls? That would be a first... 

This is my first post on Billiken. Hello N-Dot and Gotim. OK, moving on.

It may be true that Gallup has different criteria for determining who to call and how many Democrats and Republicans go to the polls. That doesn't mean that they are wrong in their criteria. You've just said to base the criteria on the exit polls from last election. Why is that any better a method of determining who to poll than the criteria that Gallup used? And I'm sure Gotim, that you didn't check how it works.

I'm not even one to believe the polls; they change all the time and for totally unexpected reasons. Anything can happen, even if all the polls had said Bush was leading by 13. What irks me about the accusation is that Gallup had one poll reading different than all the rest, which happens all the time when dealing with statistics. Immediately there are theories saying that Bush is responsible for a deception. Get some proof, other than from a far-left attack dog, about the bias involved, like with what happened to Dan Rather, then accuse. I think you're the one trying to demoralize people, making them think that people who aren't corrupt actually are. Talk about "politics of fear and corruption." I suggest reading this post from the Mystery Pollster on the subject

At the same time, I have to say that N-Dot should back off the polls issue. Bush was behind in the polls pre-debates in 2000, and really a thanks goes to Gore's collapse at the debates to boost W's numbers.

Am I naive to assume that the vast majority of people know that polls mean almost nothing, and will ignore this bickering? I think liberals are making a huge fuss of this, only because they are losing. "They must be wrong if Kerry isn't winning!!" The one clear thing across the board is that they all show Bush with some lead. And that just gets under Gotim's skin...

Fuzzy Math 


Your Suspect! 

There are a lot of young and impressionable billikens of voting age who read this website and I think N. Dotty may be misleading them. Today Dotty included not one, but two links to a Real Clear Politics poll, filled with red and blue bar graphs, that is supposed to signal the end is nigh for John Kerry. Just yesterday, I was under the impression that Ohio was a swing state, but Dotty's illustrative poll cleared up my misconception. According to Real Clear Politics the old lady in Akron is wearing red.

However, not all the polls (and there are many polls) are in agreement. One poll last week had President Bush leading Kerry by 13 percentage points while another showed the candidates tied in the U.S election race. Looks like someone is cooking the books.

MoveOn.org placed this full page ad in Tuesday’s NY Times questioning the accuracy of the Gallup poll.

The Gallup poll is considered one of the most esteemed bar graphs out there. The Gallup poll of likely voters has Bush leading by 14 percent. MoveOn points out that Gallup has refused to fix a longstanding flaw in their polling method. Gallup's poll doesn’t accurately account for the number of registered Democrats and Republicans in the US. Gallup’s polls go on the assumption that Republican turnout will exceed Democratic turnout by 6 to 8 percentage points. However, exit polls at the last two presidential elections have shown that Democratic turnout exceeded Republican by 5%. That discrepancy alone can account for the 14% Bush lead in the Gallup poll.

I'm no statistician but to use George W.'s catchphrase, that sounds like some fuzzy math. Actually, come to think of it, Bush orated that memorable one-liner during the presidential debates against Al Gore in 2000. Bush went into those debates as the clear underdog. Bush performed well in those debates and as we all know went on to win the 2000 presidential election (even though he had 500,000 less votes than Gore, but who's counting?). The debates can greatly swing public opinion, and yet my opponent, N. Dotty, would quote a poll taken before the debates and claim the election is over?

Additionally, George Gallup Jr., who heads Gallup Polling and is a devout Evangelical Christian, was quoted a few months ago as saying that:

“the most profound purpose of the polls is to see how people are responding to God.”

See, that’s the exact answer I put on my NYU Statistics Final and my professor marked me wrong, saying that divine intervention had little or nothing to do with statistical polling.

Polls do not only measure campaigns, they also affect them. If one candidate starts trailing in the polls, some of his supporters may become demoralized and decide not to vote. That's exactly what N. Dotty wants you to do. He wants you to think the election is over, he wants you to stay home. He may even try to steal your absentee ballot. N. Dot, enough with your politics of fear and intimidation.

As part of my effort to keep my ear to the street I just conducted an exit poll of my apartment building. Surprisingly enough, it looks like neither the Democrats nor Republicans are leading.

The Green Party with a decisive edge. (+/- 3%)


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Knock Knock 

Who's there?


Orange Who?

Orange you glad this guy's not going to be President?

Iraqi Blogger answers Lockhart 

Noting that we seem to have a bit of an "American bias" here on the Bluff, I wanted to just throw something out there that I read on one from one of our blogging Billiken-brothers in Iraq. As we know, Allawi's speech here last week was met with admiration and applause by members of Congress, and by sneering indifference and mockery by the Kerry campaign. As we begin this last month of having to hear Kerry's gloomy and bitter defeatism before he passes into history, Americans who (like the UN, NATO, and large majority of the world) would embrace the new Iraqi government and support them in the challenges they face probably could have done without Kerry's final insult to the Iraqi government and its cause, culminating in Joe Lockhart's revolting description of Allawi as a "puppet" of the US.

But imagine having to hear that as an Iraqi?

From Ali at IraqtheModel:

Allawi’s speech was articulate, impressive and honest and most Iraqis I talked to lately share the same opinion with me, but much more impressive was the reaction of all members of the congress who were there. That was the American people there, the whole American nation not just republicans, standing and cheering not Allawi but what he stood for; IRAQ. They were showing support and friendship to Iraq not Allawi and that was a rare moment in history where the two nations Iraq and America stood as equal friends, no actually it was more like family as one American friend described. Insulting Allawi and Bush and the whole speech, speaking so harshly of that unique moment is an insult not to Bush or Allawi but to both the Iraqi and American nations, and yes that goes for everyone did that.

....you and I should thank God and America 9 million times and we would still be in debt. Just think whether you could’ve happened to you had you posted similar thoughts about any Iraq politician before the war. Oh but you weren’t posting before the war, nor did any other Iraqi, and I wonder why!

I’ll never stop telling what I believe is the truth and won’t stop fighting for that regardless of all the silly accusations and even threats sometimes. I’m not pro-Bush and I’m not pro-Allawi but I stand firmly with the new Iraq and with America. Iraq has run out of “historical leaders” and I guess there must be some people who still miss that time but they shouldn’t feel that bitter, as one can always visit one of our brother Arab and Muslim nations to remember the “good old days” that we, the vast majority of Iraqis are ready to give our lives to make sure they won’t be repeated.


I'm Rick James, Bitch  

On August 6, 2004 the king of "punk funk," Rick James, died in his Los Angeles home from natural causes. James was known as a force in the Motown music genre that rose to the top of the charts at a time when industry experts were predicting the end of an era of a soulful blend of blues, rock, and disco. James died suddenly, in his sleep, and his death can almost certainly be attested to his high profile, celebrity lifestyle that left little to the imagination, he was only 56. Cocaine, women, and alcohol surrounded him around every corner. Nonetheless, James must not be remembered for his expressions outside of the studio, but for his contribution inside one. His unselfish nature led him to song writing for such greats as The Temptations, and Smokey Robinson. Undoubtedly however, the greatest accomplishment for James, in a career that will live on long after his death, was MC Hammer's sampling of James’ "Super Freak," which became the hit on one of the most popular albums of all time, "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'em."

This is not intended to be a biography, however, and the motivation behind this post lies not in the great and lasting music contributions made in the world by Rick James, but instead in the shameful acts of some in our society who lack innovation and instead rely on imitation as a means of existence. The now famous and widespread imitation of, "The Chappelle Show" in nearly all of its great moments has become a widespread disease within American culture. Dave Chappelle's show on Comedy Central has been known in its first two seasons as one of outlasting humor, yet its success has unfortunately given those in this world who lack an ability to create ideas of their own the opportunity to develop a false sense of comedic ability that has nearly driven the rest of us to insanity. From baseball parks to subway stations, great lines like, "what did the five fingers say to the face?" and "I'm Rick James, Bitch" have been used by everyone from the elderly to the retarded. If nothing else, let James rest in peace, knowing his greatness was used for jokes by a man who knows how one can exist alongside the other in a professional, yet funny way. When greatness is demonstrated by the wrong person for humor, not only does he prove his own inabilities, but he undermines the accomplishments of the one he has used for the joke as well. So please, save everyone the pain.

Much more important than the disgust I expressed above is the select few in upper classes of American society, who choose to take their own road in matters of the greatest consequence, while using the comedic acts of Chappelle's Rick James impersonations in real life situations. Namely, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. On July 4, 2003, on the birth date of this great nation, Kobe Bryant was arrested for sexual assault against a nineteen-year-old woman at a resort in Vail, Colorado. He was there recuperating after a knee operation. The girl who made the claim stated that Bryant forced himself onto her, put her into a compromising position and eventually raped her. Sadly, and immediately, comparisons must be drawn between the Rick James character played by Chappelle on his show, and Bryant, who has no excuse for his real life actions. And although charges were recently dropped against the basketball great, he himself admitted to acting inappropriately and in a non-consensual manner. Two conclusions can be drawn from this relationship between James' character on television and Kobe Bryant, each giving different possible explanations for Bryant’s actions on that fateful night. The first is that Bryant was acting out of a position of power, being an all-star basketball player worth several million dollars, when he prevented the girl from walking out of his room. This would show that Bryant was fully aware of his wrong doings, as he has recently admitted, while he was committing them, yet chose not to care about anyone other then himself, using his stardom that could arguably be seen as being on the same level of James' in his prime. Although seemingly acceptable, I would reject this notion, and give Bryant far less credit. Bryant has been known throughout his career for great plays and breathtaking moves to the basket, but he has never moved out from under the shadow of the great Michael Jordan, who has yet to be topped. Like those who chose to recite lines from a TV show when trying to appear as though they are creative, Bryant has followed the path laid out by the greatest basketball player of all time. In a similar light, when Bryant was in his room standing in front of his door that the young girl was trying to exit through, he almost certainly pulled out a great line from Chappelle's outstanding episode in the hopes of convincing her to stay when he said, "show me your titties bitch, its a celebration." While this is nothing but funny when Rick James says it, it is nothing but sad when Bryant uses it. Trying to equate his ability to have his way with beautiful women the way Rick James did is disgusting, and only attests to his inability to do so.

Bryant was clearly incapable of deciphering between reality and fiction, and perhaps his stardom has only driven that inability. Nonetheless, his lack of good decision-making is a testament to the people in this world who lack the ability to use a sound judgment instead of the one fed to them through television and other forms of media, and he should be locked up for it. In closing I must also address the lack of creativity so many have displayed in the re-creations of Dave Chappelle's impersonations of Rick James: please, save it for people who get paid for it, it is their job to be funny, and nobody likes to lose their job.

“… And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers”

Ezekiel 25-17

Monday, September 27, 2004

Mohawks and Old Ladies in Akron 

As part of their 20 Million Loud Campaign, MTV interrupts their own broadcasts to bring the populace important public service announcements. I’ve seen two so far, a rather ordinary commercial featuring a sheepish-looking Tony Hawk. However, the second version of the announcement featuring Puff Daddy is pure genius.

With decibels of yelling unseen since the Hate Me Now duet with Nas, or possibly even the Victory song with Biggie, and Busta Rhymes, Puff Daddy goes off. Puffy, sporting his best marathon mohawk, addresses the viewer from behind a very presidential-looking desk, P. Diddy’s pontificates that if this were his country he would make sure that every person had health care, housing, etc. He then pauses and states that:

Wait a second, this is my motherfucking country. Vote for something, just vote.

The announcement then instructs you how to go online to register at MTV.com. AWOOD has often asked what that elderly woman on the porch in Akron would think about certain political happenings.

Well, after watching P. Diddy, I think she would vote for the presidential ticket that seemed farthest from the mohawked Sean Combs.

P. Diddy is heading an organization called Citizen Change. The goal of the organization is to get youths to vote, for some candidate, for any candidate.

P. Diddy says:

"We have the power to make things cool, hot and sexy- from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive to the bling we buy, " Diddy declared during his voter registration at NYU's Kimmel Center. "Now we're going to make voting cool. We are the true leaders of today."

Well, I'm not sure if it matters how cool your vote is, and it may be too late anyway, but I'll try to do my part to counteract that old lady in Akron. Get out and vote, for someone. You can register at MTV.com.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Not All Occasions Call for a Sombrero  

On Saturday night, Bernard Hopkins beat Oscar De La Hoya in a Middle Weight pay-per-view title fight. Earlier in the night, I had the opportunity to witness the under-undercard fight which pitted Kofi Jantuah of Ghana against Marco Antonio Rubio of Mexico.

Jantuah knocked out Rubio in just 33 seconds. The Jantuah’s final punch was definitely highlight-reel material. Rubio tried to throw a feeble right hook, but was a bit to slow. Jantuah unloaded a devastating left hook that dropped Rubio to the canvas. Rubio’s head bounced off the floor. The fight was over.

However, the fight was unfair from the start. Jantuah entered the ring in traditional boxing attire; robe, shorts, boots laced up. He strutted and bounced his way into the ring like a boxer should. Rubio decided to go a different route in regards to his wardrobe and entrance. He came into the ring wearing a sombrero and dancing to some mariachi music, hardly the tools of intimidation. Jantuah must have been chomping at the bit, ready to destroy Rubio.

When Mike Tyson was still striking fear into the hearts of opponents and biting people’s ears off, he would enter the ring wearing all-black and blasting the ominous barking of DMX. Now to be fair, I don’t speak Spanish. Rubio’s Mariachi accompaniment may have been crooning:

"Stop, drop, shut’em down, open up shop. Oh, no, that’s how Ruff Ryder’s roll."

And even with the Mariachi music, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. The unwitting thugs in Desperado misjudged Antonio Banderas’ guitar cases, never suspecting they contained more guns than Wayne Wright's garage.

But 99 out of 100 times if you aren’t in Hollywood and you dance your way into a boxing ring wearing a sombrero (unless you have some brass knuckles hidden inside the hat) you are going to get knocked the funk out.

As I said the fight was on pay-per-view, so they are closely guarding the screen shots from the fight. But, after much internet surfing I finally found a picture of Jantuah’s knockout of Rubio-

I’m not saying that if you’re a boxer you can’t wear a sombrero… actually, wait a second, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Sermon on the Mount 

I whole-heartedly agree, Dotty: the government should not be barred from the decision making process with regards to controversial issues. In fact, I believe they should play a critical part in that process. They should, at all times, ensure that the laws being passed and referendums being proposed profit the greatest number of people at any given moment. It’s a great little theory of mine.

Now, take abortion, for example. (Since you managed to ignore it in your last post.) I’m not sure what you "moral compass" dictates, as we’ve never really discussed it. I would be the last person to decry your religious values (after spending 12 years in Catholic school), but it seems to be nearly impossible to conceive of an argument for the criminalizing of abortion that doesn’t involve reference to the god of the arguer.

This proposition, which is in fact in the most recent republication platform distributed before the convention, attempts to reinforce its position with talk of maintaining a sound society, with a strong moral fiber, etc. etc. Certainly, this is a noble goal, and I agree that the government should promote a "moral" society (though this is itself a thorny issue, and worthy of discussion).

However, abortion is not an entirely "moral" issue. Rape, incest, and illness are all mitigating factors- as is the supremely valid argument that a woman should probably be able to decide whether or not she wants to bring a life into the world that she’s not willing or able to care for. Right wing Christians would choose to ignore these arguments, clamoring for individual, "moral" responsibility in place of common sense and practicality. And, paradoxically, they are also the least likely to promote safe sex measures, again taking the high road of abstinence, which, less face it, has lower poll numbers than Nader.

And, lest we forget, the people that would propose such measures would have no qualms with citing their religious beliefs as their inspiration for this very political one. While you may seek to reinforce it with neutral speech, most with this extreme viewpoint would not tread quite as carefully. You seek to justify it with the Constitution, but in this case it’s simple a means to and end.

The banning of abortion is a moral movement in a political realm, and none would argue otherwise. Consider this the next time you argue that I don’t understand what the separation of church and state actually implies.

One last question: you seem to be wearing the "Anti-Bushocrats" slur as a badge of honor, implying that the competition is so disorganized and unruly that we can only be united in our defiance, rather than our beliefs. In you mind this proves what? Perhaps it’s a sign that people from very diverse backgrounds, many with conflicting theories of government could, in the face of extremism, band together against a perceived common menace. It’s a fool’s game to see mass-antagonism as a sign of superiority. Since you believe the Christian religion should maintain such a prominent position in our government, try to remember that Jesus himself said that humility is virtue.

Here's Some More Tripe For Ya Saint 

Again, my attempt to use the comments window to "throw tripe" at St. Nick's posts was getting a little control with so much silliness to respond to. So more copy-pasting, "create a new post" clicking on the ol' blogger page, and just like magic theres more N Dot "pretentiousness" for everyone to enjoy!

I can't comment much on the first half of the Saint's post, largely because I'm still a little fuzzy on the point being made. Maybe I'm just not seeing the forest for the trees and throwing out babies with bathwater here, but to me it seems like the Saint views being characterized by foreign press in brief articles and sending fewer athletes to the Olympics somehow signifies the fall of the American empire (clearly something any solid Anti-Bushocrat would break out the champagne for) or at least a blow to our ego? I dont know, if you say so. I know I'm not shedding any American tears over too-brief articles in the Mirror or the potential for a weak attendance at the Olympics by American synchronized swimmers in 2016.

What any of this has to do with American "moral superiority," is way, way beyond me. That devil was definitely not in the details.

But about the religion stuff: I'd have to think that the proposition that religion in its many forms has served for hundreds of years and continues to serve as a "moral compass" for populations around the globe is pretty untouchable. Not only is it not a "naive consideration," but it is one of those, you know, historical facts. You'd have to have donated all your stem cells for research to try to argue otherwise.

Certainly there is a valid argument to be made against the Federal Marriage Amendment. But I think the logic that has led you to rail against ideological ideas ending up in the constitution is a little spotty, to put it mildly. Clearly the government has an interest in setting up laws that promote a society of people with moral standards, respect for the sanctity of human life, etc. - that's what is behind moves to limit stem cell research. Yes religious ideologies have a stance on this issue, but does their having the stance negate the possibility that the government should look at the issue?

I'm more or less for stem cell research myself, but as a point I don't believe issues that involve difficult moral questions automatically fall outside the scope of the government - and I certainly would love to hear the Saint explain to me how my "precious little quote" from the constitution in fact forbids the government's role in such regulation, because his post certainly does not accomplish this. Are they establishing "a religion" to limit this kind of research?

Christianity also forbids murder, for instance, or stealing. These involve admittedly simpler and less controversial moral issues - but moral issues nonetheless. We need to balance the prospect for scientific and medical advances with some degree of consideration to morality as it relates the use of human life/material in research (Ever see Extreme Measures with Gene Hackman? Don't - it sucks and has Hugh Grant, but it makes this point), and to that end I can't see how the U.S. government can be barred from taking up an interest in the issue simply because a crowd of Anti-Bushocrats look down on religious people and couldn't fathom the actual limits of the "seperation of church and state" to save their lives.

And finally, this:

And just for the record, the constitution doesn't ban handguns either, so I guess that means Jesus like shotting cans off a wooden fence post?

What the hell? Now you really lost me.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Once again, in his haste to demonize the demonizers, Dotty has confused the basic premise of my comments with some sort of attack on Bush and religion, or some such nonsense.

(Couldn't see the forest for the trees; threw the baby out with the bathwater; the devil was in the details: they all apply. Insert your own apt cliche here.)

What I didn't state explicitly was that what I found remarkable was not the fact that American is one of the most religious societies on earth. (We're right up there with the Jordanians, Israelis, and Saudis). Nor was I rallying, as he believes, behind the Brits' subtle dig at the lack of seperation between church and state. (As a card carrying liberal, I'm enraged by this specifically because it's so blatent.)

I was attempting to comment on something a little more subtle, and admitedly less clear. None of Dot's arguments, cogent though they are, really spoke to the issue of our "moral" superiority. I don't think anyone would argue that our national elections receive a lion's share of international news coverage. Our candidates are often known by name on every continent, while I guarantee you even the subscriber list of the New Yorker tell you who the the major players attempting to get Musharraf to drop his title of military commander. We are a nation of egoists, not by mass-Narcicism, but by the roll of the economic and political dice. We have grown accostomed, even in the short decades since the fall of the Soviet Union, to being the lone superpower, and I think it's difficult for the average citizen to imagine news coverage of the American political scene that resembles the way we read about Canadian elections.

Our election process, like any other, can look surprisingly trivial, when viewed from a great enough distance. We so rarely see outside of our own media bubble, that we, in general, assume otherwise.

For a simple vivid example, try to imagine in 2012, or 2016, when China, already with the world's largest economy, and threatening to ursurp our lone superpower status, sends MORE olympic atheletes to the summer games than we do. American's will simultaneously spit their Coors Lite over their plasma tv screens as a robotic Costas comments on this unprecidented phenomenon.

All empires fall, and I'm a little concerned that our collective conscience will have a hard time recuperating.

BUT- since you brought it up- I'd like to say a few short words on religion. My drunken outburst during Bushy's speech aside, I'm well aware of the tripe your throwing at me. "In God We Trust" is on our money- I've read it once or twice. Most 18th and 19th century leaders were religious, yes. Another obvious statement. No, the Constitution doesn't ban mentioning your religious beliefs.

Congratulations, you've found the real name of Deep Throat.

Your pretentiousness aside, you seem to be ignoring that people are often so adament about the separation of church and state because it's a GOOD IDEA. It's also a necessary idea because your base- your real base, not the people you paraded at the convention- wants an outright ban of abortion and gay marriage and stem cell research for purely IDEOLOGICAL reasons. We're forced to decry religion, because you have so obviously flaunted it as a political tool, rather than the moral compass you'd naively consider it to be.

Gay marriage is contentious, I concede, because bigotry still exists. But in 2004, there is absolutely no reason to outlaw abortion and turn a blind eye to the potential of stem cell research that is not religiously or ideologically based. It doesn't signal the downfall of society, unless you fear myths of Sodom from the bible. Narrow religious idealists are attempting to impede change and growth in a society based on fear. It's quite simple really- it's got nothing to do with leaders expressing their faith in times of need in order to comfort people. It's a matter of imposing the rules stipulated by Christianity on the constitution, and that clearly does conflict with that precious little clause you quoted.

Bush can burn crosses on his lawn for I care, but the moment he talks about constitutional amendments, it'll should raise a red flag.

And just for the record, the constitution doesn't ban handguns either, so I guess that means Jesus like shotting cans off a wooden fence post?


Six Degrees of Seperation 

Seeing the risk of becoming an overbearing presence on the Billiken comment page (or did that happen already?), I decided to do a little copy-paste action here and turn my comments on St. Nick's post below into its own full-blown post. Damn I'm a long-winded sumbitch.

My reason for posting is that I'm quite puzzled as to why the Saint sees this BBC News Americans-are-mad-religious thing as a revelation. That Americans are more openly religous and prefer this more in their political leadership than Europeans in general is more or less a statistical point of interest which any textbook of comparative politics will bear reference to. Does the European press' interest in this foreign aspect of American politics amount to a "simplification" of the American voting populace? A blow to our "hyperpower inflated egos?" Only, perhaps, if you find it to be an insult.

St. Nick, as I understand the man, is more than a bit vexed by the deep-running religious convictions of American voters and even more so of their leaders. This baffles me. When watching the president's nomination speech and hearing a reference to God, an exasperated St. Nick declared, "You lost me!" As I pointed out then to the Saint, if he had been standing among the crowd when Abraham Lincoln implored Americans at the battleground of Gettysburg "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom," well, St. Nick would have been there with crossed arms cynically saying, "You lost me!"

God - and a great deal of Anti-Bushocrats can't stand this - has so long-standing a place in the conscience of American political leadership that they might as well have given Him a cabinet position. Many of our leaders have been religious and believe God to have carried them through what after all have often in our history been extremely trying times and difficult decisions. This is not to suggest that God is on one politician's side or another or even necessarily on "America's side" in some foreign policy action or another. But to refrain that we are a "nation under God," as Lincoln and others have done, seems hardly ridiculous. We began, after all, with the declaration that our Creator has endowed us with certain inalieable rights - and insofar and we have as a country done what we could at times to defend these rights for mankind in other parts of the world - well it all seems pretty congruous with where we've been going with this whole "America thing." This may shock our cynical modern sensibilities, but if you go back and read the private writings of men like John Adams, they were deeply religious in a way and very much believed and hoped that their American experiment would be looked on favorably by the "Creator" they invoked, and that we could be in a true sense a nation under God.

Are we simpletons to want the same thing now?

St. Nick and others may look down on religious people in believing their ideas to be "simple," but as the BBC points out, a majority of the country seems to recognize this outlandish prospect that religious convictions could add a degree of morality and strength in their leaders. To "see them through the hard times" perhaps? And every once in a while - perhaps our simple populace believes - it's nice for leaders to, you know, believe in stuff. Speaking of which, there may be a reason why John Kerry is not going to be the next President of the United States.

So anyways I didn't see anything so groundbreaking in the BBC news reporting that the Saint mentioned. Although this one paragraph represents something that always baffles me (am I too easily baffled?):

In fact, although the United States has a constitutional barrier separating church and state, the vast majority of Americans want their leaders to be religious.

I'll never, never get this. The BBC seems to present this as some sort of contradiction. It never ceases to amaze me how misunderstood the "seperation of church and state" is as a constitutional principle. No matter how many times I remind people that our constitution only stipulates that "Congress shall pass no law respecting the establishment of religion," people like St. Nick want desperately to believe that somewhere, somewhere in the Constitution (maybe in the secret parts?) or in its long history of interpretation there is grounds to ensure no one mentions God or no political leader openly has religious convictions. It just ain't true. Hell, if the "no mention of God" in government documents was unconstitutional, then techically when it says "Year of our Lord" in the Constitution, the Constitution itself is unconstitutional! Sheeeeet, we can all go back to being part of England I guess - its what the Anti-Bushocrats probably want anyway at this point. "Hmph!" they'd say, "At least they're not so religious!"

Expect people to prattle on into our history about how bad it is that our leaders have religious convictions and will speak of their faith without shame, referring to some mythicial constitutional principle that should prevent such simple talk. To them I can only quote St. Nick: "You lost me!"

One Nation Under God 

BBC News Online has had some very interesting election coverage over the past few weeks. Written by a handful of reporters traveling around the country and blogging their experiences, they've managed to present some heavily contested issues with a distance and objectivity rarely seen in our own coverage. It's amazing how much of a difference 3,000 miles of ocean and alternative spellings can make.

Perhaps most relavent were the pieces on the overwhelming cost of health care and the central role of religion in the upcoming election.

"Americans are a deeply religious people - and one - as the stickers prove - comfortable with public displays of faith.

In fact, although the United States has a constitutional barrier separating church and state, the vast majority of Americans want their leaders to be religious.

A poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 72% agreed with the statement 'The president should have strong religious beliefs.'"

I firmly believe that we, the nation of abundant, casually dressed, tattooed olympians and hypoerpower inflated egos, are simply not accustomed to being characterized in such a manner by the foreign press. Though I regularly read correspondances from other countries describing vast distant lands with minimal text, this sentence brought me pause: I couldn't recall a single instance in which one of our newspapers of record referred to this nation as a whole in such a blunt, and obviously true manner. For all our diversity (and Conservative Christians' attempts to impede it), how surprising to see that we, like the Palestinians, Iraqis, and French, for example, are not immune to simplification.

It was an oddly reassuring revelation, coming on the same day as Kofi Annan's condemnation of the Iraq war as illegal and divisive. Even we, the precocious James Dean of geopolitics, fall into line when it comes to foreign perspective on the daily lives of the average citizen, and not our world famous politicians.

Now, provided we don't allow said religious values to infiltrate our political process too deeply, there may just be hope for us after all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Dregs of Humanity 

I fear Got might have been a little light on N.Dot following his comically preposterous comparison.

Any sane individual (read: those who don't often listen to WABC) could not in good conscience relate one isolated incident among a protest of more than 125,000 Americans to the indisputable violence, dare I say carnage, in Iraq.

Monica Crowley (Anne Coulter-lite; also frost-brewed) referred often to the protestors who gathered the day before the start of the RNC as the "dregs of humanity," and spoke of unwanted images being burned into her brain, of hatred flowing up from the streets, and the associated "violence." Discerning listeners realized, naturally, that a fire on a float hardly compares to the '68 Chicago convention, let alone the deaths of 1,000 American servicemen and the low estimate of 15,000 (!) Iraqi civilians. Of course, rationality hardly stops pundits, so why shouldn't we expect a similar reaction from the resident counter-point.

Let's call a spade a spade, N.Dot. Nevermind the basic human compassion that the photographer was attempting to elicit from a largely ignorant or indifferent public- this picture at least demonstrates the potential for chaos that exists in Iraq. We read daily reports of entire regions of both Afghanistan and Iraq being lost, temporarily or otherwise to local factions unwilling to bow to our military. (January elections in Falluja, anyone?) Doubt their veracity all you wish, not even Condoleeza would sit idly by as you attempt to meld Midtown and Sadr City into a homogenous example of what's wrong with America nowadays. Frankly, I find your utter disregard for the unquestioned tens of thousands of lives lost, for any cause, noble or otherwise, a little disconcerting.

I am making no judgement on Bush here, saying nothing about the reason we're in Iraq. I am simply infuriated that someone who is otherwise so pround of America would choose to demean it so. I've seen your flat, N.Dot, and I'm guessing that you managed to avoid the pure chaos and pandamonium that consumed the city that fateful Sunday- I'm sure your deck was nice and peaceful.

If it comes to the point where waif-like elderly women are huddling next to burning cars with hardly an emergency worker about, I'll go join the NRA. Until then, try to keep your head on straight, as we get "cleaned up." And if you're still hankering for war-town streets to aid in your literary comparisons, try Kandahar.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Widgets, Juxtapositioning, and an Illustrative Coors Light Commercial 

It’s very curious that N. Dot's fiery rebuttal was deleted (out of the goodness of his heart no less). The disappearance of his post is very reminiscent of the loss of the records documenting George W.’s stint, or lack there of, in the National Guard. Like N. Dot's fellow Bostonian, Ben Affleck, would say:

Your Suspect!!!

It’s hard to defend the Voice’s macroeconomic acumen when N. Dot's argument has been stricken from the record. I’ll concede that he does have his ear a bit closer to the (Wall) street, than yours truly, but I do occasionally peruse the Business Section of the paper (albeit the NY Times). But is N. Dot dismissing Perlstein’s argument that homeownership being at an all-time high is a meaningless statistic, simply because he is writing in the Village Voice, or is it unsound economically? It would seem to me, that looking at the rate of growth is the relevant statistic not the overall number of homes owned. But what do I know, my studies of macroeconomic only went so far as that yield curve involving widgets.

But if N. Dot does have an argument that can support the relevance of Bush's homeownership statistic I would like to hear it (seriously, I'm not being sarcastic, I want to know).

Secondly, it’s good to see N. Dot is finally giving Michael Moore some credit, turning his name into an adverb (Michael Moorishly) that is synonymous with clever and well-timed. N. Dot sarcastically dismisses the relevance of Jon Stewart airing a clip where Bush says, 'that the Iraqi aren’t happy being occupied'. N. Dot writes, "How damning!". He claims that I am missing the larger point. Well, isn't Zell missing the bigger point as well. Bush and his handlers love to juxtapose press clippings of Kerry changing his stance (the dreaded flip flop) on the Iraq War. And yet, it is somehow irrelevant to show a clip on The Daily Show that contradicts Zell's speech. Zell says our opponents would call our troops Occupiers. No Zell your president called our troops occupiers. If we're going to name call let's at least get the names right.

N. Dot writes, "Is it not true that to most liberals the soldiers were not liberators, only occupiers? The Got certainly sees it that way."

N. Dot needs to stay with me here. Did he read my post? Did he read what Perlstein wrote actually wrote? I'll repeat it:

A Nexis search indicates that Senator Kerry has never been quoted saying [the troops are occupiers]. Nor Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, nor House leader Nancy Pelosi, nor Senate or House Democratic whips Harry Reid or Steny Hoyer; nor Hoyer's deputy whips Charlie Stenholm, Nita Lowie, Maxine Waters. I'll admit at this point I stopped searching. Maybe Miller is referring to the clerk in the House Democratic cloakroom.

You’re right N. Dot, I don’t see the US mission to Iraqi as a liberation mission, because those was not the pretense under which went to war in the first place (how short everyone’s memory is). But like Perlstein says, I’m only that clerk in the House Democratic cloakroom (and probably not even that high on the totem pole). So when Zell Miller, and N. Dot equate my views on Iraq with those of the Democratic presidential candidate it is just plain wrong. The Village Voice, and any other news publication should call Zell Miller to task for saying something that is completely unfounded.

But let’s stop nit-picking and call each other names, although I’ll admit Anit-Bushocrat does have a certain charm to it. The main point of my previous post was to highlight some of the “not-so’s”, the untruths that Perlstein found in the rhetoric from the RNC. The “not-so’s” that he found aren’t the same as out and out lies, but rather they contain an element of truth, but distort the larger picture. I have however found an illustrative example that will hopefully prove my point and end all this partisan squabbling. Enter the new series of Coors Light Commercials.

Coors Light has a new series of commercials that much like any political advertisement, try to separate their candidate from the challengers. While many beers taste similarly, most people will agree that Coors Light has a fairly poor reputation for quality and taste. It's a beer you drink out of a keg. A beer that you buy in a case of 32. Not a beer that you ask for a pint of at your local pub. It's watery, and generally of a piss poor quality. But, Coors, like even the most inept political candidate (think Ralph Nader), will fight for the public's votes and dollars.

Coors new commercial campaign highlights the fact that their beer is frost-brewed at 32 degrees, and transported in refrigerated trains and trucks. They contrast this to their opponents, i.e., every other beer, who unlike the frost-brewed Coors Light, brews their beer at over 150 degrees, and transports this beer at room temperature. Who wants to drink hot beer, yuck! Nevermind the fact that all beer is made by boiling the barley, the hops, etc.

Most people know that Coors doesn't taste better than lets say Stella Artois, or Pilsner Urquell. But it's cheaper, it's American, and if you watch the commercial enough times, with the Rocky Mountain snow in the background, you might start to think that's it is colder. N. Dot, you should know better, you were with me in Plzen, Czech Republic, at the Pilsner Urquell brewery. The beer was brewed hot, but the beer was good.

But just like with the "not-so's" uttered at the RNC, Coors claim that it is the only beer that is frost-brewed, may very well be true, but it misses the bigger picture, i.e., beers like Newcastle, Stella Artois, Pilsner Urquell, and numerous others taste much better than Coors Light. I'm reminded of these Coors Light commercials when I recall statements from the RNC like those from Laura Bush claiming:

"50 million more men, women, and children [that] live in freedom thanks to the United States."

This is a numbers game. Coors frost-brewed at 32 degrees, and the total population of Afghanistan and Iraq combined equals 50 million. Let's look at what is implied by these numbers. Both figures while technically factual, miss the larger point, as N. Dot puts it. Here are the LARGER points.

1. Despite the frost-brewing, Coors Light tastes like shit.

2. The 28 million residents of Afghanistan are living under the control of the same warlords and Taliban remnants, as they were before Sept 11, 2001. We started the job of democratization in Afghanistan, but certainly didn't finish it because we had bigger fish to fry. Which brings me to my third LARGER issue...

3. What does that leave 22 million citizens in Iraq? Does living in freedom mean having the Sadaam statue in Baghdad topple, or have running tap water? Did the military have a plan to secure Iraq after the initial victory? Did we really plan on keeping troops their indefinitely? How are those elections looking in January? Has Laura Bush seen the pictures of Fallujah, Baghdad, Najaf and Sadr City? I realize Rome (or Washington D.C.) wasn't built in a day, but exactly what kind of freedom is this elderly woman from Najaf living in?

So when I see a can of Coors Light surrounded by snow flakes, or Laura Bush smiling about 50 million free souls as if the war has already been won (59 people died in a Baghdad car bomb attack an hour ago), I cringe, knowing that something is not quite right about either image. I'm left with a bitter beer taste in my mouth.


Allow Zell to Retort 

Last week I typed up a firey response to the Got's post about the speeches at the Republican convention, focusing largely on his (ludicrous) suggestion that the housing boom does not signal social and economic progress under Bush's term. I later deleted the post because I felt I had been too insulting to the Got, as I in no uncertain terms layed out what I think of people who would use the Village Voice as if it were some sort of authority on macroeconomic analysis. The day before 9-11, my diatribe on the depressing direction of Anti-Bushocrat ideology (I no longer call them "Democrats" out of respect to Democrats like FDR and Truman who actually had ideas) was tainted with no small degree of bitterness. So in the end I scrapped the post as a whole with the intention of posting some elements of it later. I ain't trying to hate on the Got here.

Anyways, one argument I refrained from making was any in defense of Zell’s speech. Though I certainly agreed with where he was coming from, I thought when I read it that he worded his arguments in a way that left him open to too many criticisms. Sure enough, smarmy John Stewart apparently took a break long enough from sucking up to John Kerry to use a Michael Moorishly edited video clip juxtaposing Zell’s criticism of the use of “occupier” with Bush using the same word. How damning! The Got, it seems, thinks this proves something. The larger point, of course – the one that resonated so strongly with the American people at this convention and began Bush’s march to a second electoral victory – is that soldiers in Iraq are both occupiers and liberators, though Anti-Bushocrats can employ only the former while Republicans openly use the second. Is it not true that to most liberals the soldiers were not liberators, only occupiers? The Got certainly sees it that way. And yet, people like the Got are naturally upset that Zell would make this point known. Of course they are - the America that is poised to re-elect Bush certainly understands that the U.S. forces in Iraq have constituted both occupiers and liberators, and it only hurts liberals to reveal their cycnical pessimistic worldview that amounts to a depressing nostalgia for the days when Saddam was in power. It's revolting.

But, since I didn't try to help out Zell myself, here's him defending himself from the Jon Stewarts and Gots of the world in his own words in the Wall Street Journal. Hear the man out!

Monday, September 13, 2004

He Should Listen 


Showing Her "O" Face 

AWOOD, I've found the perfect candidate for your next thug of the week, Oprah Winfrey.

She may look mild-mannered and neighborly, but Oprah, with a net worth of $1.1 billion dollars, is a mogul on par with Mark Cuban. Actually, she surpasses Mark Cuban in terms of mogulness. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Internet billionaire has been known to have very deep pockets, especially when it comes to his NBA team. He bought the team a luxury airplane, and installed Playstation 2's in every player's locker. Cuban has such a reputation for his generosity that ABC's created a new reality show starring him called The Benefactor . On the show 16 contestants compete to earn Cuban's favor and win $1 million dollars.

Similarly, Oprah also has a reputation for lavishing those around her with gifts. Her studio audience regularly receives samples of whatever product or service is featured on her show. However, unlike Cuban, Oprah doesn't require her benefactor's to possess the ability to dunk. On this year's season premiere Oprah gave all 276 members of her studio audience a Pontiac car.

Winfrey said the audience members were chosen because their friends or family had written to the show about their need for a new car. One woman's young son said she drove a car that "looks like she got into a gunfight"; another couple had almost 400,000 miles on their two vehicles.

In other segments on the show, Winfrey surprised a 20-year-old girl who had spent years in foster care and homeless shelters with a four-year college scholarship, a makeover and $10,000 in clothes. And a family with eight foster children who were going to be kicked out of the house they were renting were given $130,000 to buy and repair the home.

[Via My Way News]

If Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura can be governors of states in our union. If a former college football coach, Tom Osborne, can become Congressman in Nebraska. Then surely a figure as beloved as Oprah, who's daytime talkshow is syndicated in 212 domestic markets and 109 countries, could become... well anything she wants to be.

She is bigger than a talk show host. She is a force. In a way she reminds me of Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

"Inside this room, all of my dreams become realities, and some of my realities become dreams. And, almost everything you'll see is eatable, edible, I mean, you can eat almost everything," said Gene Wilder.

"We're calling this our wildest dream season, because this year on the Oprah show, no dream is too wild, no surprise too impossible to pull off," Winfrey said.

Well almost the same.



An article in today's NY Times explores the much discussed topic of President Bush's propensity to misspeak.

The article points out that when confronted with hostile press, unfamiliar subjects, or unforgiving talking points, Bush often stumbles. For instance, while speaking in front of a group of skeptical minority journalists in Washington last month:

The president got so twisted up in response to a question about tribal sovereignty - "tribal sovereignty means that it's sovereign'' - that the crowd started laughing at him.

Not that we didn't know this already. Bush doesn't like to fly solo over troubled waters. Bush only agreed to testify before the 9/11 commission if he was allowed to have Dick Cheney by his side during the proceedings.

However The Times did have a new take on the cause of some of Bush's oral blunders:

When Mr. Bush is tired, strange things do come out of his mouth.

The Times found that even at George W.'s favorite campaign stops, the "Ask President Bush'' events, where the audience consists of invite-only G.O.P. supporters, Bush can misspeak when not properly rested.

Campaigning Last Monday at a rally in Poplar Bluff, Mo., the president was into his usual riff against malpractice lawsuits when he said, without missing a beat, that "too many Ob-gyns aren't able to practice their love with women all across the country''

- an apparent crossed wire with the president's stump speech to religious groups, in which he invariably says that government cannot put love in a person's heart.

The day before, in Parkersburg, W.Va., Mr. Bush said that he asked Congress last September for $87 billion to help pay for "armor and body parts'' in Afghanistan and Washington.

And two days before that, the president mangled a favorite line about Mr. Kerry and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator John Edwards, who were two of four senators to vote for the use of force in Iraq but against the $87 billion spending package.

"Two of those four,'' Mr. Bush cheerily concluded, "are my running mate and his opponent.''

Being President is not an easy task. Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1992 spry and youthful. 12 years later he is gray and just recently underwent quadruple bypass surgery. John Kerry has also felt the rigors of the campaign trail, and his years in the Senate, allegedly undergoing botox, to remove some of the wrinkles and worry-lines that have accumulated over the years. According to the Times, George W. Bush is suffering from a much more mundane ailment, a lack of sleep.

George W. Bush, a Born Again Christian, has sworn off drugs and alcohol, this decision to abstain from such vices has done much to enhance his image as a plain spoken, sober-thinking, honest man. It has added to his appeal across America's Heartland. However, Bush may want to consider a recent study which found that after 24 hours without sleep, a person's mental and physical skills are as compromised as if he or she had a blood alcohol level of .1 percent, which in many states would fall under the drunk driving statute.

Bush may want to consider taking an afternoon nap if he wants to maintain his image as a plain-spoken, straight-shooter.


Walking to the Sky 

A sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky, at Rockefeller Center.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Not So True Lies 

The Republican National Convention ended a week ago. I needed some time to digest such an elephantine production before posting on it. I read an article in the Village Voice which confirmed many of my suspicions. There were numerous half-truths, and blatant lies being broadcast out of Madison square Garden last week.

While watching Bush's speech with N. Dot, I was particularly taken aback when Bush cited that homeownership being at an all-time high was evidence that the economy was doing well. That seemed like a particularly easy lie to catch. Of course homeownership is at an all-time high, it increases every year with the population. Every year is a new all-time high. That would be like Bush taking credit for the US population being at an all-time high during his 4 year watch. Rick Perlstein explains:

"The number of homeowners has grown every year on record. Every year is an "all-time high." The relevant number is the rate of growth. In a typical two-year period during the Clinton years—from the second quarter of 1994 to the second quarter of 1996, for example, the percentage of American homeowners went up 1.8 points. In the last eight quarters, under Bush, it went up . . . less than one point. Dick Cheney's claim that the homeownership rate is proof that "the Bush tax cuts are working" is delusion on crack."

(A brief side note- this is a perfect example of why many people discredit anything written in the Village Voice. Perlstein makes a relevant, well-written observation showing just how misleading Bush's homeownership statistics are, but then adds that delusion on crack barb at the end of the paragraph. This alienates many readers. To be fair, The Voice makes no claim of objectivity. But since Perlstein is a better writer, and more well-versed the political process than someone like myself, it would seem to make sense that he should leave the delusion on crack commentary to bloggers like myself.)

Moving right along... Zell Miller, Democratic Senator.

There isn't much that can be said about this Georgia Bulldog that hasn't been talked about this past week. Zell was unreal, surreal. The man provided afiery testimonial for the G.O.P., accused John Kerry of defending America using spitballs, and challenged MSNBC's Chris Matthews to a pistol duel. Perlstein explains how Zell was a bit confused on a few issues:

"Zell Miller claims that, say, John Kerry is "selling off our national security," leaving us to defend ourselves with "spitballs," because he cast a protest vote again an annual defense authorization bill that included funding for the Apache helicopter and the F14 Tomcat. It's just not so—at least not in any way that makes sense politically, considering that the vice president on whose behalf Miller toils is on the record around the same time calling those same systems "unneeded."

A misguided observation, but maybe Zell is just expressing his opinion that not equipping the army with Apache helicopters and F14 Tomcats, is tantamount to arming the forces with spitballs. But Zell wouldn't outright lie, would he? Perlstein shows that in fact, Zell, would:

Zell exhorts, to a standing ovation that lasts 20 seconds, that "today's Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator." A Nexis search indicates that Senator Kerry has never been quoted saying that. Nor Senate minority leader Tom Daschle, nor House leader Nancy Pelosi, nor Senate or House Democratic whips Harry Reid or Steny Hoyer; nor Hoyer's deputy whips Charlie Stenholm, Nita Lowie, Maxine Waters. I'll admit at this point I stopped searching. Maybe Miller is referring to the clerk in the House Democratic cloakroom.

In addition to Perlstein's Lexis Nexising, John Stewart's team of video researchers at The Daily Show brilliantly juxtaposed a clip of Zell yelling, "Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator" with President Bush speaking at this year's State of the Union Address saying in effect, 'Of course the Iraqi people aren't happy being occupied, who wants to be occupied?'

Comments like these from Zell Miller are particularly frustrating for me (and Jon Stewart) because they can be easily refuted, but many people only remember the lie and don't read the rebuttal and the refutation of the lie.

Part of me does respect just how good the Republicans are at campaigning and public relations. Zell Miller was by far the most venomous of the speakers at the Convention, and he is a Democrat!!! The G.O.P. doesn't even have to do their own dirty work. The best the Democrats could muster for their convention was Ron Reagan Jr. who spoke about Stem Cell Research, while making clear that he was not endorsing either of the candidates. How are you going to have a speaker at your party's convention who refuses to endorse your presidential candidate? It boggles the mind. The Democrats incompetence is astounding. They might as well have former Knicks' general manager Scott Layden run Kerry's campaign.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Lost in Russian Translation 

Chechnyan militants seized a school in Beslan on Sept. 1. 336 hostages died, many of them children. A day earlier a suicide bombing in Moscow killed 10 people. And just over a week before that two Russian passenger planes crashed following explosions, killing all 90 people aboard. Many Russians are calling the siege inside the school- Russia's 9-11. There are reports coming out of Beslan that there were some Arabs among the terrorists who attacked the school. Understandably, Russia's president, Putin is taking a strong stance against the Chechnyan rebels and terrorists in general.

Video image of hostages sitting below explosives strung from basketball hoops in the gymnasium of a school in Beslan, Russia.

Russia is prepared to make pre-emptive strikes on "terrorist bases" anywhere in the world, the Interfax news agency cited the country's chief of staff as saying.

"With regard to preventive strikes on terrorist bases, we will take any action to eliminate terrorist bases in any region of the world. But this does not mean we will carry out nuclear strikes," General Yuri Baluyevsky said Wednesday.

[Via Yahoo]

Well thanks for the reassurance Yuri. Clearly Russia should use force to deal with the Chechnyan rebels. But why is Baluyevsky announcing that Russia won't be using nuclear strikes against these terrorists? Why would anyone assume that they would use nuclear strikes? I certainly wouldn't assume that. Was firing nuclear weapons at Chechnya ever really an option? Was the Russian public clamoring for nuclear retaliation? Were they tossing that idea around at the Kremlin? Did Putin's advisors say, "well we do have a lot of weapon-grade plutonium lying around we might as well put it to good use"? I have to hand it to the Bush Administration, as militaristic as Bush's presidency has been, to my knowledge, he has never come up with as ill-conceived a notion as using nuclear weapons to fight terrorism.

Please Someone Answer This Question 

John Kerry, yesterday: "Iraq was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."

John Kerry, December: "Those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president."

The man went on TV after Bush to complain that Bush "mislead" us into the Iraq war. He also said two weeks ago that he would vote again for the war knowing what we know now. So a 19-year veteran of the U.S. Senate has voted for and would again vote for the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. And he's mad that Bush mislead us into a war that he helped lead us into and now sees as wrong but also right.

What the ...? If anyone can offer anything close to an explanation to this, or indeed what this man who wants to be president actually believes about this war, I swear on my life I will vote for John Kerry - hell, I'll campaign for him and even wear one of those bush-face-with-a-line-through-it buttons that everyone wears.

And I know its constitutional tradition, but can someone please explain why we are having this election?

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

W. Slipping Away 


National Enquirer's Psychic Predictions for 2004 

While surfing the Internet today I found some startingly prescient predictions the National Enquirer made in December 2003.

-Britney Spears will marry twice within the next the next year.

-It will come to light that Dick Cheney has been deceased since early 2001. A high-tech cyborg developed through a Cayman Island subsidiary of Halliburton has been taking the place of Cheney at state functions and the occasional press conference. The cyborg is identical to Cheney in every aspect, however it does not have the ability to smile.

-Jennifer Lopez will dump Ben Affleck and father the child of Marc Anthony.

-After Arnold Schwarzenegger joins Jesse "The Mind" Ventura as the second actor from the Predator film to be elected as governor, Carl Weathers, a.k.a. Apollo Creed, announces his candidacy for Senate.

-Much to the disappoint of Bears fans, former NFL football coach Mike Ditka, announces he will not run for Senate in Illinois.

-The aforementioned Schwarzenegger will borrow some of his more memorable film quoteables and use them in political speeches. He will taunt his Democratic challengers by calling them girly men. And declaring that he will terminate all competition. People will listen.

-As the one of the featured speakers at the 2004 Republican National Convention in Madison Square Garden, Schwarzenegger will be lowered on to stage from a Helicopter, shirtless, tan and well-oiled. Karl Rove will explain the unusual entrance as a representation of the Bush administration's strong stance on the war against terror.

-George W. Bush will deliver the keynote address of the Republican Convention from a top secret stage. The multi-million dollar stage will be created by researchers working out of NASA headquarters in Houston and an undisclosed facility in Los Alamos. The stage places Bush on an oval dais at the end of a long plank. Karl Rove will explain the stage design by saying it represents Bush's strength as leader, while also illustrating his identification with the average citizen. Aliens from Alpha Centuri will see the stage as another thing entirely, and mistake it for a transmission pod. The Aliens will erroneously beam President Bush to their starship. Arnold, shirtless, oiled, accepts the nomination.

-The public will be shocked when it comes to light that the commission set up to investigate the 9/11 attacks has received over $50 million less funding than the independent counsel led by Ken Starr received to investigate MonicaGate. When questioned about the matter Ken Starr sympathizes with the outraged public and issues a statement declaring that because both events revolved around the desecration of an erect structure, that they should have at least received equal funding. Starr announces that he will immediately set up an independent counsel to investigate the matter.

The National Enquirer made a multitude of predictions for 2004. I will keep you updated as I make my way through them.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


"Why" is the lead single off of Jadakiss' latest album Kiss of Death. It is a lackluster song, as is most of the Hip Hop being music being churned out for such media outlets as Hot 97.1 and 106 & Park. "Why" is a series of questions spanning the spectrum from the mildly inquisitive to the ridiculous (such as Why they didn't make the CL6 wit a clutch). I wasn't very impressed with the orginal. The most controversial line was-

Why did Bush knock down the Towers?

Jadakiss explains why he sounded like he had been hanging out with Michael Moore-

I tried to make a song that could appeal to a broader audience. That's a song that's saying a lot of things people don't get to say.

Jada also offered another reason for making the song, he said-

Controversy sells, politics sell, all that type of stuff sells.

Not very noteworthy, not very profound, and certainly not a good track. However, surprisingly, the remix is excellent. I really like this song, it breathes some life into hip hop, which is certainly in need of some resuscitation.
Nas and Common join Jadakiss on the track for an extended question without answer session.

Nas ponders-

-Why do schools care more about your son's braids / Then they do for his grades?

Jadakiss questions-

-Why does Team USA keep getting blown out?
-Why did Gov. McGreevey get caught?
-Why didn't the country flip out after Bush stole the 2000 election?

Common inquires-

-Why they keep hyping Britney Spears up when they know she can't sing?
-Why did Justin sell out Janet and go to the Grammy's?
-Why haven't we found Osama?
-Why don't we impeach the president and elect Obama (Barack).?

While "Why", is no Lennon's Imagine, it does act as kind of a record of all the insanity that has been taking place the last 4 years, both politically and in the pop culture sphere. The song really surprised me because you don't normally find references to news events that are that currrent, at least not in the music medium. The "Why" remix surfaced about 2 weeks ago, the same time as Team USA was getting blown out in the Olympics, and the same time as the McGreevey scandal was unfolding. Add to this Common referencing Democratic Illnois Senate candidate Barack Obama, and, well... it's completely unexpected.

These are the topics you find in daily newspapers, and most importantly the type of material you find in such outstanding blogs as The Billiken's Bluff, and AWood's House of Thuggin'.

In fact, if I didn't know better, I would say that these three MCs read our blogs and wrote a song about them. It's like The Billiken's Theme Song. Well guys, keep up the good work, keep asking the important questions, and tapping into the pulse of our times. Also make sure to check out our new home at HalfPriceSushi.com.

And N. Dot I appreciate your concern about the progress of Half Price Sushi. Like any masterful Maki roll, Half Price Sushi is taking a while to prepare. The site is currently under construction, but you can check out the beta version of it here and here.


Protruding Proboscises 

An unidentified delegate, wearing an elephant hat.

Jan Ting, delegate from Delaware, dressed to impress.

South Dakota state representative Gordon Pederson keeping an eye on things.

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