Friday, October 29, 2004
There's a new terror tape out there, and all the media seems to be worried about is if airing it affects the election. Is it fair to air it, is it unfair to wait. Um, hello? People? Anyone thinking perhaps that instead of showing this stuff to the general public that we should just show it to the CIA and let them investigate it? Does the public need to see it for them to do that?
Personally, I'm not worried that the tape may cause Kerry supporters to change their minds and switch their votes to Bush because he's proven to be so "tough on terror". Nor am I thinking that because this individual claims that Americans will suffer for our audacity in electing Bush in the first place will steer his supporters away from *him*. We're Americans, and whole bunches of us are stubborn as Donkeys.
No, what I'm worried about is that there are so many people in the world who hate the USA right now, and a lot of them have weapons or explosives. I'm worried about the fact that someone made this tape to upset us, and that this person (and I assume, his cohorts) are most likely plotting acts of violence designed to kill Americans. I'd like them caught, please. Of course, I'd also like them to stop hating us, but I have no optimism on that front.
Anti-American sentiment doesn't bother me as much as the violent mind set does. You don't like the US? Fine, don't live here. You're upset because the world has become so "Westernized"? Well guess what - it's not our "fault" that we have an attractive lifestyle. We're not to "blame" if people want to buy American things. OK, it's our fault if we send troops and install a puppet dictator. But the popularity of rap music amongst Muslim teens? That's just kids rebelling. If it wasn't for American pop stars, it would be something else.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
So, being tired of that subject that I just rambled on about, I decided to go another route today:
From Experts: Web searches for sex declining:
"Twenty percent of all searching was sex-related back in 1997, now it's about 5 percent," said Amanda Spink, the University of Pittsburgh professor who co-authored "Web Search: Public Searching of the Web" with Penn State professor Bernard J. Jansen.Silly people. The amount of searching for illicit material isn't declining, it's just that the amount of searches for non-illicit purposes is increasing. This causes a percentage shift.
Because, I promise you, people in the world today are *not* less interested in sex than they were a year ago.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Today's Tami Reading choice
I'm in favor of private groups being able to make political ads. All political ads are more one-sided than a... damn I can't come up with a pithy comparison, they're just one-sided, OK? So, the one-sided nature of ads being accepted as a given, it doesn't matter to me if special interest groups throw their hats and money into the ring. Let them spend!
The fact is, a political ad is a political ad. In order to really know a candidate, you have to have either been following their record, or want to do a lot of independant research. Things like voting records, or bills authored, or moneys appropriated or accepted, this is all recorded somewhere, and finding out the facts is the only way to know the truth.
And yet, most people in the US do not have the time or inclination to go check and see if the people running the government are actually doing all the stuff they say they are. They rely on media to give them their information in spoon-fed doses. It leads us to things like large groups of people not knowing the facts, and not caring. It leads to emotional responses instead of intellectual ones.
What I'm saying here, is that I don't think that the public should actually believe ads as much as they do. It's sad, and it's scary, and it's one of the reasons that I claim that people are all idiots. I do include myself in that, by the way, this is despair, not a sense of superiority.
I think I've made my point, and you get where I'm coming from: blindly believing advertisements can hurt you. Since that's out of the way, let me finally get to the article quote that I wanted to include.
Others are targeted toward particular constituencies -- which, in a tight race, could make a difference. "John Kerry's not a hunter -- he just plays one on TV," says NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox says in a spot showing a rifle-toting Kerry in camouflage -- giving way to a picture of a French poodle in a Kerry sweater.Man. A French Poodle. That's pretty damn funny. And it's because of precisely this type of humor that I'm in favor of privately funded ads. Go ahead, people, amuse me!
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Monday, October 25, 2004
What I found was this lovely, yet incredibly long article by Bruce Bawer in the Wilson Quarterly. It contains, amongst the 18 million other ideas that it encompasses, the following quote:
In The New Yorker for November 30, 1963, the first issue of that magazine to appear after the assassination, the memorial article ended with the observation that “when we think of him, he is without a hat.” Ever since, it has been difficult to picture any of our chief executives with a hat.Men used to wear hats! Every day! And the concept of a man not wearing a hat in public used to be radical! I mean, I get that the concept of women having a job outside the home used to be radical*, but bearing your hair to the elements was a new idea? Wow.
This article goes on and on about many things that we now take for granted that, at the time, seemed like crazy departures from the norm, but in the context of the couple of years that happened right before all the upheaval happened. It makes me wonder what we're going to classify as "naive" when we look back at today, 40 years from now.
Friday, October 22, 2004
His Rolling Stone article is a little hard to get in to, since it starts out doing the kind of steamroller approach that I think of as "fooling yourself". It works by saying the thing that you want to be true out loud, over and over again, even if it's a blatant lie. Thompson's repeated statements are too vigorous, too repeated, to one-sided - not admitting that your opponent has scored any points can be a dangerous business. Eventually, though, he stops crowing about how much better he thought that Kerry did in the debates than Bush, and gets in to some stuff that I found very moving.
Remember, though, this is Hunter S. Thompson; he'll never lose his signature style:
Some people say that George Bush should be run down and sacrificed to the Rat gods. But not me. No. I say it would be a lot easier to just vote the bastard out of office on November 2nd.
You preferred Kerry's statements 78% of the time
You preferred Bush's statements 22% of the time
Voting purely on the issues you should vote Kerry
Who would you vote for if you voted on the issues?
Find out now!
So there you go - I agree with 22% of Bush's policies! That's way higher than I expected!
Yesterday Jazz over at Running Scared commented on a piece in yet another blog, Dean's World. Dean seemed to be saying that disagreeing with the current administration in a vocal and obnoxious manner was unpatriotic. Really, it seemed like he was saying that to me, too. Parts of it were really cheesing me off. Especially when he said the thing about people resenting the "piddling cost" of the Iraqi war. Hoo, that made me see red!
And yet the piddling cost and the incredible work of our people is now routinely viewed as a disaster.OK, incredible work! Great patriotism! I really do admire people who will fight and die because they think that it makes America a better and safer place to live! But PIDDLING COST?! Too far!
Damn, digressing again. OK, back to where I was. There's a long list of comments and dialogue on Jazz's site about how he's misinterpreted what Dean has said, that he's not advocating the idea that dissenters should be silenced, and that he didn't mean "that everyone who won't toe a specific ideological line is to be considered unpatriotic" (quoting Dean from the comments, there), but rather that Jazz has not understood his point.
On his own site, in the comments, Dean states the following:
Where do you get off suggesting that because I've said this, I want any of them forcibly silenced? Or that I want any of their "heads on a platter? They're just vile, disgusting people who make me a little ashamed. But then, I'm also proud to live in a country that gives such evil assholes the right to spout their evil. It just means that people like me have to work extra hard to counter their hate-speech with more speech.I'm bothered by the use of the phrase "spout their evil". To me, evil's too strong a word to use about every day behavior. Killing children in front of their parents for fun is evil. Dumping toxic waste in public drinking water is evil. Basically, causing others irreparable pain to further your own interests and enjoyment, that's evil. Prominently spouting your opinion in a public forum? Obnoxious, maybe, but not evil. But, it wasn't until I read those words that I realized that I was, in my mind, damning Dean the same way that he seemed to be damning me (unknowingly, of course, he doesn't know me from Adam) in his column. I suddenly saw that we all think that we're right.
Now I understand that Dean doesn't want all the liberals forcibly converted or arrested for their "unpatriotic behavior", and that's a relief. But buddy, I'm telling you, as a stranger, it really read that way.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Bush Relatives for Kerry
I think the main thing I'm hoping for in Kerry will be the return of the "shades of grey" style of thinking. The whole "black or white", "my way or the highway" thing we've got going now doesn't allow for dialogue, it has no checks and balances. We should always have someone on board who says, "Wait, look at it a *different* way, for a minute".
Yesterday, a friend of mine brought up in an email discussion that he wishes that the country could remember that it's possible to compromise. Here, here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Amazon.com: What is the most important lesson from President Bush's term so far?
Vidal: That the American Republic has been discredited in favor of a
military state with curtailed civil rights for all. Now remove your shoes.
In fact, all the interviews are pretty interesting reading. And they've proven to me that Ann Coulter is really just crazy. I really wanted to swear, there, but I figure it would be in poor taste. Anyway, it's my opinion that Pat Buchanan comes off as sounding way more reasonable and less self-serving than she does, which has got to throw a flag up for somebody.
The entire Steve Holland Reuters piece can be viewed here.
"Zarqawi is a terrorist. We are fighting Mr. Zarqawi in Iraq. My opponent seems to think that if we were not fighting in Iraq, he would become a peaceful citizen. Zarqawi would be plotting, planning, ready to strike. He must be defeated there, so we do not face him here," Bush said.Whoa! This is an actual point! And I agree, that it's pretty much true - Zarqawi *wouldn't* be peaceful if we weren't fighting in Iraq! Here's the only problem, though, as I see it - the fact that we *are* fighting in Iraq isn't going to make him a peaceful citizen, either. Or even stop his violence. If this man goes away, there's a hundred nearby who will take his place. I'm personally of the opinion that security and diplomacy, more than aggression, is the way to go. And in my heart, I feel that unless we can keep people from teaching intolerant terrorist ways to their children, that we're not going to make any progress at all. Still, at least the above quote is comprehensible, and actually says something.
As for Treasury Secretary John Snow's recent remark that job losses were a "myth," a statement that prompted Democrats to run TV ads against Bush in Ohio, Bush said: "I haven't talked to Secretary Snow, but all of us in this administration fully understand that there have been job losses... but there's also been 1.9 million new jobs created over the last 13 months."Well, there you go. "all of us in this administration fully understand that there have been job losses...". That part alone makes the tight part in the back of my neck relax just a little bit. The idea that these new jobs are mostly low-level, and not so likely to bring people above the poverty level keeps the rest of the tension nice and taut.
People, if you're on the fence, even a little, think about the fact that if we continue to do exactly as we have done, we will continue to get exactly the same results. If there are things that we want to change, we must change the people making the decisions, first.
Monday, October 18, 2004
*(I'm trying *so* hard to find some sort of grammatically correct way to write that stupid sound-bite)
Friday, October 15, 2004
Sadly, I can't wear most fuzzy sweaters, since I'm allergic to both mohair and angora, but once again, I derail myself from the tracks of the point.
Realizing that I'm a big lefty reading and watching only people who give me the warm fuzzies (see a pattern here), I decided to brave new ground and go over to Fox News today. I read the piece about Kerry trying to explain away the Mary Cheney comment. He should have said what I said, it appeals to people on a really basic level. But he didn't. Oh, well, his loss.
After that, I headed to an article about the deficit, containing this quote
Citing data pointing to economic improvements, Treasury Secretary John Snow said, "All of this shows that the president's tax relief initiatives are having the intended effects."
Now, I'm no economic genius, but didn't we used to have a balanced budget? I understand that there was artificial economic inflation, and that the numbers were bound to come tumbling down, and that 9/11 caused a huge economic backlash, and that both these things happened in the past four years, so yeah, the numbers aren't going to look that good. And they're not going to look good no matter who's in charge. But that quote makes my brain feel twisty. When more money's going out, how in the world does it help the deficit to have less money coming in?
In the debate Thursday night, Bush said this:
BUSH: Well, his rhetoric doesn't match his record. He been a senator for 20years. He voted to increase taxes 98 times. When they tried to reduce taxes, he voted against that 127 times. He talks about being a fiscal conservative, or fiscally sound, but he voted over -- he voted 277 times to waive the budget caps, which would have cost the taxpayers $4. 2 trillion. He talks about PAYGO. I'll tell you what PAYGO means, when you're a senator fromMassachusetts, when you're a colleague of Ted Kennedy, pay go means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends.
No politician is ever going to win my vote by declaring that they will keep us out of the "tax and spend" mind set. There has to be money to run the government and if you don't get that money from "tax and spend", then the only alternative that I can really see to it is "borrow and spend". How's that better?
Thursday, October 14, 2004
I think our current government has flouted international law, and should be
treated as if it has flouted international law.
This - and the discussion of reinstating torture - have proven to me
that we turned a corner, and are not the White Knights in this story.
That business of putting prisoners offshore, torturing them, holding
them without charges for years on end, possibly transferring them to the
custody of nations that permit torture openly has demonstrated that we
are no longer trustworthy custodians of the Free World. We have
abandoned the high road. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
have nothing nice to say about us. It's time to see us for what we
really are, while we can still do something about it. - Tata, my gun moll of the revolution
I have to agree with her that we, the U.S., have gone too far. What I'm undecided about is how to stop it. I really really really hope for a regime change of our own. And I want less violence. And more consideration. And less behavior that masquerades as religious morality without demonstrating a whit of human compassion. I believe that these things will be easier to achieve if we do *not* have a re-elected president, but even if we do, I'm going to start working towards change, somehow.
I've learned one thing from watching the debates, that's for sure - I don't like watching other people's confrontations. I remember watching the first few minutes of the first debate. Every time Kerry said something that attacked Bush, I cringed. I said, out loud, "Geez, he's right there. He can hear you!". I guess I'm more the back-stabber type.
Getting back to last night's debate. The media seems to be saying that Kerry won, or maybe it's just the media that I like to read, and people elsewhere are giving it to Bush. Probably. Personally, I couldn't call a winner. There were moments when I scoffed, and in a very dissatisfied voice, said, "Liar". Thing is, there were moments like that for both candidates.
I thought that bringing up Cheney's daughter was mean, but a solid hit. How can you deny people that you know, that you like, the right to make their own kind of family?
I thought that the talk about making it so that there were fewer abortions in this country was alarming. Warning bells go off in my head when people start talking about that. If I had never intended to vote for Kerry before, when he started spouting that he would never let Roe v. Wade be overturned, well, he would have hooked me, there.
I've been reading comments that when Bush mentions Dred Scott that it's actually code for Roe v. Wade. It sounds awfully paranoid to me, but I find myself wondering if it's true.
Wait - I've veered off course. What I mean to say is that I really can't call a winner from last night's debate. I don't think that either party disgraced himself unduly. I don't think either one of them changed anyone's mind, though, either. It was the same stuff, over and over again. "You voted to raise taxes", "You underfund programs so that they fail". Eloquent finger pointing is all it amounted to.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
"Now that all other justifications for the war are known to be lies, the warmongers are thrown back on one, endlessly repeated: the world is a better place without Saddam. No doubt it is. But that's the Tony Martin school of foreign policy [Martin was a householder who shot dead a burglar who had broken into his house in 1999]. It's not how civilised countries, who follow the rule of law, behave. The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt. The proper way to get rid of that smirking gunslinger is to vote him out."
I read the major headlines at BBC News most days. I find that they have a perspective on world events that's not American. Mostly, I think, because they're not American. Today, I read this article. It contains the following quote:
US-led investigators have located nine trenches in Hatra containing hundreds of bodies believed to be Kurds killed during the repression of the 1980s.
The skeletons of unborn babies and toddlers clutching toys are being unearthed, the investigators said.
They are seeking evidence to try Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity.
I'm unhappy about this. We're seeking evidence? We don't have enough now? What about all those stories we were told about people being imprisoned for years with no reason, of people disappearing and never coming back? We don't have enough testimony about those? What about accounting records? Isn't there some kind of paperwork showing that Saddam took money that should have gone for the good of the people and bought himself stupid testosterone-fueled art and cheap hookers instead?
Bah. I'm not really upset that we're investigating this; the man is, in my opinion, a monstrous tyrant, and deserves to be punished. What I'm upset about is how certain people seem to be saying that it was because of Saddam and his crimes against humanity that we had to invade Iraq. Aside from the fact that this is *not* the reasons we were given when the case for invading Iraq was made, there's another issue. That is, as another article found in BBC news today so rightly points out, regime change. And guess what? Regime change isn't legal under international law. If you're trying to behave like a member of the global community and not an all-powerful empire-building 800-pound-gorilla, you're not supposed to do that. And no amount of after-the-fact discoveries are going to make me feel better about the fact that we did.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
BBC News article on the debate about whether or not it's legal to display the Ten Commandments on U.S. government property.
At least one of the places that the ten commandments were displayed was a court house, right? And aren't these a really early example of a set of laws?
Funny, but in my mind, I see this as a reference to law. I don't actually see it as a government agency trying to influence my religious preferences or practices. Maybe I'd feel different if I weren't Jewish.
Seeing how I stand on other issues, that you can't give an inch, that you should always err on the side of liberalism, well...
I kind of think that the religious icons of *any* religion should be allowed to be displayed proudly, but yeah, maybe not by the actual government. Darn. I guess my problem is that I'm really more humanist by nature, and I think that using religious symbols from *any* religion would be OK, if they were appropriate to the setting. Like, if there's some big statue about a god presiding over a trial or something, but not a statue of Jesus healing the sick. That one would fit in at a hospital, though. I think of religion in terms of decorative items. I bet the fundamentalists would hate that.
Now the issue of requiring a school to have the Ten Commandments posted, as used to be the case in Kentucky, well, that was wrong. Requiring a public school to teach this obviously violates the whole church/state thing. But court houses being allowed to display them? Wiggly.
I've been reading Running Scared, again, this morning. He talks about this New York Times article discussing the possibility of a "national ID card". It all springs out of a discussion regarding forms of ID, and having standard
"documentation required to obtain a driver's license, and the data the license would have to contain".What I want to know is, if we ostensibly all have Social Security cards, why would we need *another* national ID? Is it so there's more of my information available to the government in more places? Jazz makes a point, and he's right, that they can already find us if they want to, but things like this make me immediately not want to be found. I keep having flashes in my head of Nazi soldiers saying, "Papers!". At the very least, I'm thinking that it's a telemarketer's treasure trove.
I know that there are good reasons to support this, but I also know that there are way too many people in the world who would find a way to abuse the information. What would someone know about me by scanning my ID card? How much of it is their business? Can they discriminate against me because of it? I see the possibilities for misuse and it makes me nervous. In theory I don't totally disagree with making the ID documents required to obtain a driver's license standardized; indeed, that might make it easier to know what the heck you have to bring with you if you go renew, but the data that the license contains, well, that's the part that makes me nervous.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches
and seizures, shall not be violated..
— Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
"People asking to see your ID before you travel isn't unreasonable", you say? I say, "What does that open the door for?". The founding fathers came here to set up a free society, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Does the threat of terrorism strike more fear into your heart than the fear of despotism? You can't let your foot off the brake on issues like these, because if you do, before you know it, you're rolling uncontrollably backwards down the hill.
Monday, October 11, 2004
All right, I could have been lying to myself about this.
But it doesn't matter. Today, I am all about the honesty and my own opinion. Not merely analyzing other people's articles but just talking about how last Friday night's debate made me feel. So, you've been warned.
Friday night's presidential debate made me angry. Angry because:
- I don't think that religion has a single place in government policy. Don't give me any crap about the idea that morals aren't religion. Why the hell does the president get away with saying that destroying a life to save a life is wrong, when he sends our soldiers TO WAR? What, it's better to end a life at the 18-22 mark rather than the "not actually a viable organism" stage? An embryo that has never taken a step, or said a word, or learned ANYTHING is to be saved, but soldiers can be disposed of like paper plates? You know what? Anyone supporting this inconsistent position can bite me. Right on my big white behind.
- Both candidates lied to us. The one I support, the one other people who aren't me support, both spouting untruths at us, right to our faces. The idea that our nation can continue without a tax increase during the next 4 years - regardless of who wins the election - seems ludicrous to me. Has no one noticed the size of our deficit? Has no one thought of the idea that cutting taxes for anyone will screw us even further? I'm actually all for Kerry's plan to roll back the over $200k-a-year levels to what they were before the Bush change, but I'm *not* in favor of cutting income taxes for any other individuals. Why can't we just stay where we are? We're used to it! There were other lies, subtle ones, like when Bush declared that issues don't get complicated, and if you're for something, you just vote for it. Yeah, George, there's no such thing as a shade of grey. But the stuff that really burned me was when anybody talked about taxes. "You'll have more money under me!" "No, you'll have more money under *me*!" Ugh, ugh, and triple ugh.
- My favored candidate didn't outright win. In fact, he may have lost. I had a real hard time picking the winner of this... thing.
I was also sad about the lying thing. I wish that someone *could* tell us that taxes aren't going to get lowered and still get elected, but I don't think that it's physically possible. Somewhere in the nebulous region I call "America" there exists a theoretical person that I think is an idiot. They can't actually reason out what's best for the greater good to *any* level, so they just look for a candidate that says what they want to hear - less taxes. And, in my mind, this theoretical idiot is also the majority of all voters.
I was going to talk about the woman who asked "Question 17: Sen. Kerry, how can you assure a voter who believes abortion is murder that their tax dollars would not support abortion?", but I can't. I'm too angry at the thought of a woman who would even think of endangering choice. What the hell is wrong with you? How can you think that you have the right to control any good that your tax dollars might do for someone who wanted, or needed an abortion? That money goes to the government, and the government doles it out according to the budget, and once you hand it over, you say good-bye to it. There are some things we will never control, and trying to do so is ludicrous. How can you make sure your money doesn't accidentally get used for an abortion? Move to a Vatican City, lady. We live in the U.S., and here, we have Roe v. Wade. And freedom of choice. And separation of Church and State.
That is a woman who never had a bone-deep fear because she knew that she'd be a crap mother, but the idea of giving birth and then giving away the human you had created from your body was equally frightening. Someone who, if by some chance she did get pregnant out of wedlock, decided that she was strong enough to face the music, because she believes that abortion is murder. Well let me tell you, not everyone's that strong. Some of us *need* this option to be available to us no matter what. Kerry mentioned the idea that a woman who had been raped and made pregnant by her own father should never be forced to bear that child, and Bush blew him off saying that the partial-birth abortion issue wasn't complicated at all. There's always *some* reason that abortion should be legal, and the idea that you don't want it for anyone, lady who asked question 17, that you want to make sure that your money doesn't go towards helping other people any way that the government sees fit, well, it burns my britches.
OK, I guess I did talk about that. A lot. Sorry if it's way too wordy, or incoherent.
Friday, October 8, 2004
I read this today feeling slightly bemused. I spent about $400 at Cabela's in July, no telling how much I've spent over the years. Between them and Campmor I can find anything I need in the camping world, at the best prices I can find. And I'm *so* not heartland. Few fit the following quote in a worse manner than I:
"I would say they are probably more middle-of-the-road, God-fearing people. They are conservative by nature," says customer Jim Szep.
I am conservative only in the sense that I'm afraid to jump off of tall things.
There's a quote in there about enjoying the beauty of nature. I can kind of get behind that one, if you take out the Christian overtones and assure me that I can go back to my overpopulated suburbia in a fairly short amount of time.
Monday, October 4, 2004
But I still think it's OK to have a picture of the president up. And, in my own, democratic, bleeding-heart-liberal way, I support the president. I don't think it's wrong to say so. He's in office, and we have to work with him until he's not.
The breakdown goes like this: The woman had pictures of some founding fathers, and the constitution on the wall, ending with GWB and his first lady. Parents came to back to school night, saw the photo, and freaked out that this woman had the picture up and accused her of politicizing her classroom. There was noise made that a picture of Kerry should be up, too. The principal actually kicked her out. Really.
Now, you may have surmised if you've read anything I've ever written that I'm not a GWB fan. Still, I have no problem with this. I'm not really an LBJ fan, either, but I'd expect his picture to be on the wall right there after JFK's. (Wow, this is getting initialicious!) There's nothing wrong with having GWB's picture up in this context, other than the fact that he ever got to be pres in the first place. Again, that's my opinion.
I expressed my opinion to someone whom I care for deeply, and he surprised me be being really off-the-wall about it. A booming speech came forth about how if the picture was up last year, it's fine, and if it's up next year, that's fine, but this year, it's campaigning. That's ridiculous!
The picture is a picture of our current leader. It's not campaigning, it's Social Studies. Civics, even. Here's a civics question for you - who's the 43rd president of the United States? George W. Bush! Is that answer going to change, whether he wins or loses the November election? No. Is it a crime for a teacher to be a republican? No. Surprising maybe, but not actually *wrong*.
What's making people behave *so* badly about this election? I don't get it. And to Shiba Pillai-Diaz I say, put up any pictures of civic leaders that you like, as long as you're telling the truth about them.