Sunday, November 28, 2004

The One about A Lack of Ideas - November 27th-28th

And so I sit here, pondering what to write about.

It's not writers block, mind you. I'm woefully familiar with that, and this doesn't come close. I'm not sweating, desperately looking for an excuse to escape the terror of a blank page. I could write, if I had a subject that was up to par.

Unfortunately that's the one thing I seem to be lacking.

Initially, I was going to write about the UN Oil for Food scandal, and the depths to which the UN has sunk under Anan's leadership. Actually, I did write about the UN Oil for Food scandal, but I also accidentally deleted 600 words of said prose. I think I'll tackle the rewrite another day.

I could write about my most recent day of work, which is certainly interesting enough; but the details would probably violate some confidentiality paper my employer had me sign once upon a time. For the time being I'd like to keep my job, thank you.

I could write about taking my kids to see Santa today. There's plenty of material to be found in a half- hour drive in a cold November rainstorm, only to discover Santa was on his lunch hour. I could write that after waiting an hour we finally met Santa - only to have my youngest child, predictably, start crying hysterically. Or about how our camera broke down just when I lined up the kids for the perfect shot.

But I can't. I'm too bitter.

I also have a great idea for a story that involves my wife, but in the aftermath of the Santa debacle we had an argument nastier than the first half -hour of Saving Private Ryan. Despite my misgivings, I guess I'd like to keep her too. So scratch that story idea, at least for now.

I could resort to that bastion of all blog (web log) enthusiasts, the pandering ode to Blog Explosion. I do have my opinions on the web directory, both good and bad. But is it worth a page of what amounts to free advertising for the site? Not today it isn't.

So in the end I'm left with nothing. It worked for Seinfeld, it can work for me.

[As long as we're on the subject of the most over-rated sitcom of our time, let me get something off my chest.

What's the deal with the whole "it's a show about nothing" tag? You hear it everywhere, repeated like it's such an innovative, explosive concept.

News flash: it wasn't a show about nothing. It was a show about a group of friends in New York City and their daily interactions - just like every other show on TV. And do not, kind sir, resort to saying that it was the individual episodes that lacked 'something'. That too is a misnomer. It may not have been the tightest of plots, but every show was about 'something', whether it be volunteering with the elderly or waiting in a Chinese restaurant.

Don't bother arguing. You know I'm right.]

So in the end I'm left alone at the keyboard with a head stuffed with useless, discarded ideas. It isn't the most thrilling way to spend an evening, and it certainly isn't a boost for the self-esteem.

I suppose that by this time tomorrow I'll have a whole bevy of ideas to choose from. It stands to reason, since the only requirement for this gig is a bit of writing ability, a lot of opinions, and of course, an ample dose of bad luck hanging over your head.

Thankfully, I'm blessed with all three.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

November 25th - The One about my Kid at Thanksgiving

Yesterday I enjoyed an (early) Thanksgiving meal with an Agnostic-leaning Democrat who called my political views a 'sickness' and announced he would not travel to Texas because, as the Reddest of the Red States, it would make him burn 'like the Devil walking into a church.'.

Ahh. Family.

In truth, it was a pleasant evening. My brother-in-law's comments seemed tongue-in-cheek, his new bride was gracious, and the food was good. (although he chose not to serve turkey. I assume it to be a protest against some policy of Dubya's, but I did not have the heart to inquire.)

The only sore point of the evening was my offspring.

And even that's debatable. There are limits to what you can expect of a three-year old, especially a three-year-old coming off a 'visit to Grandma's' hangover. She was tired, she was frazzled, and she was sitting in front of a place setting worth more than my living room set.

So I should feel grateful she didn't break any dishes, start a food fight, belch, or pick her nose at the table. (well, to be honest, she did pick her nose. And ate it. I'd scold her more for that but it just seems so . . . hypocritical)

I should be grateful that all she did was refuse to eat more than the occasional scrap, claim she was tired and rest her head on my shoulder at the table, things of that nature. Once, she got up from the dinner and wandered off. That's pretty much it. Not even the least of the havoc my three-year old is capable of producing.

No, my problem is that she always - and I stress always - chooses to wig out around people without children of their own.

I am not singling out my in-laws here, for in fact they were gracious and seemed amused. But the fact is, somewhere, maybe buried so deep they don’t even know it's there, is a voice that said "hmph. My kids will have better manners. Don’t they know how to discipline?"

Whereas, if my kids proceeded to set fire to the family dog of another parent (preferably a parent with kids the same age), that same inner voice would be saying "Aww, I remember when little Timmy did that. It seems like only yesterday. They grow up so fast . . ."

Now when I was young and naïve I too believed I would rule as a despot. Mychildren would be seen and not heard, save for when I asked them to bring me the remote or grab me another can from the fridge, at which point they would say, "yes Daddy. Would you like your paper too?"

Sadly, this dream proved unrealistic. You cannot logically convince a four-month old to do your errands, even if the lazy little bugger could walk. And when they are old enough to walk and talk and sit and eat their spinach they are far too bourgeois to submit to serfdom.

A bitter pill to swallow, that one. A bitter, bitter pill. And yet I hold out hope.

Not for my children, you understand. I think they'll turn out just fine.

No, I hold out hope for all those future-parents out there. I sincerely hope that they discover the key to raising the Stepford child, and pass the knowledge on to future generations. But I hope it takes awhile.

Say, long enough for my grandchildren to frustrate their parents.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The One about the NBA - November 23rd

As a rule I don’t watch the NBA. I have nothing against basketball per se, but if I’m going to watch a sport, it’ll be one I could’ve (theoretically) played professionally. I am a 6’3” man with more rolls on my belly than there are Cubs playoff losses. In an ideal world I could have played football, and thanks to John Kruk and Babe Ruth , baseball. But for the viewing pleasure of all, basketball doesn’t even warrant a nod in my fantasies.

Now you know where this is going. The Detroit-Indiana brawl has become a talking point for every media outlet in America. If it’d happened on the day of the election the Presidential results would have rated a paragraph on page three of USA Today.

Such are the interests of Americans.

And all the more power to ‘em, I say. A good ol’ fashioned throw-down between millionaires and their intoxicated fans is a heck of a lot more interesting than say, the latest appropriations bill in Congress.

I’m just surprised no one’s blamed this fracas on Karl Rove. According to the left, it’d be just like him to rig a fight to shift the focus away from his - I mean Bush’s - administration.

[unrelated blurb: for giggles, I rented Bush’s Brain from Blockbuster. Here’s a friendly tip for the propagandists on the left of the aisle: if your going to make a documentary, spend more than $5 on it’s production. And just for aesthetics, interview people who don’t look like rejects from Blind Date. When Karl Rove is the most attractive man in your movie, you’ve done something wrong.]

For those of you in a coma, a decent on-court fight between the Pacers and Pistons took a turn for the worse when a fan threw a cup at Indiana's Ron Artest. He charged into the stands, punching fans along the way.

It got worse from there.

Now Artest is an idiot. This is true if for no other reason than the little voice in his head should have been yelling “lawsuit, lawsuit. Gotta keep my Benjamins” instead of “Kill Bill” or “Jackie Brown” or whatever Tarantino mantra was in charge up there.

(Really, doesn’t Artest watch the NFL? There’s an order to things inthe sports world. If you want someone dead, you wait until after the game and help your friends shoot him. Then you’re acquitted and become a bible-quoting marquee linebacker. Duh.)

But an honest man has to lay some of the blame where it belongs, with the fans. You notice I said ‘a cup’ was thrown at Artest. I didn’t have to specify it’s contents, your mind filled in the blank. (And no Mom, it wasn’t a soda. Go out and see the world already, will ya?)

Anyone who decides to waste half a month of rent on basketball ticket’s is crazy. Someone who does that and then gets so sloshed he won’t remember how he spent his money is a crazy idiot. A guy that does all that and decides it’s a smart idea to throw a cup of beer at a 6’7”, 247 pound man with a violent reputation, well . . .

Maybe Darwin was wrong. Evolution should have weeded that guy out long ago.

And the loon that jumped on the court to continue the fight, only to be laid out on the floor with a single punch? Priceless.

My recommendation: proceed with Artest’s year-long suspension. He deserves it.

And while you’re at it, banish the fans in the front rows to the next WWE event. It’s where they belong.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The One about GOP - Nov 21st

A few weeks ago my wife and I found out we were finally having a baby boy. After a night- long search through online baby name sites, we decided to call him Parker and emailed an announcement. The good news prompted a phone call from my sister-in-law in Texas.

“Congratulations!” she told my wife. “How long ago did Danny come up with that?”

“With what, the name?” my wife replied. “We came up with it together.”

“No, the initials. You know, G-O-P. I figured that had to be his idea.”

For the record, yes, my children’s initials – Grace, Olivia, and Parker – will replicate the honored nickname of the Republican Party.

Also for the record: what kind of a right-wing nut job do you think I am? Of course it wasn’t intentional.

It might have been, had I thought of it, but I didn’t. It’s just a happy accident of fate.

I must say, after examining the evidence, that I’m flattered that people think I could have pulled it off. There’s no way my wife would have bought into it, so I’d have to successfully lobby – three times – for the name of my choice. If successful, I’d still have to hope and pray for the right gender each time. The “O” alone would have stopped me if I’d had a boy back in the day. Oliver? Orlando? Octavian? Ain’t happening.

And what happens if you have a fourth child? What then? Do you just call it quits on the initials, or do you become truly creative? You can’t pluralize ‘GOP’, so by necessity birth control would go out the window. Perhaps a ‘GOP KID’, or ‘GOP STAR’. Maybe you start a new set. For the bi-party couple, might I suggest ‘DEM’ or the ever popular ‘JFK’?

Of course, if you’re planning that far ahead (and can afford that many mouths to feed) you might as well go all out. Why not scrap ‘GOP’ and shoot for ‘REPUBLICAN’?

(Although I admit the ‘U’ would be a stumper. Perhaps a fan of Last of the Mohicans could use ‘Uncas’? Granted, he would be beat up daily on the playground. But, as a Republican, at least he’d be beat up daily at a good private school.)

Not to be outdone, my Mother proved she’s just as good at the ABC’s by questioning my motives on the whole subject. As a lifelong Democrat that still has a crush on Kennedy (John, not Ted. The woman has standards) she took it pretty well. Still, she was relieved to know it wasn’t intentional – which, as the difficult black sheep of the family that I am, made me wish it had been.

Frankly, no one in their right mind strings together sibling’s initials. That someone – much less two people – determined a pattern where it doesn’t exist is just plain loco. That both are related to my children makes me question our gene pool.

Now, not to spoil anyone’s fun, but I’ve had second thoughts about using the name Parker. We chose it for nothing but it’s own sake, but cloaked our decision in references to Robert B. Parker (the author), and of course the one and only Spiderman, Mr. Peter Parker. These references make me question my own contribution to my gene pool.

Besides I like the name and all, but to attach a WASP-ish name like Parker to an eleven letter Polish surname might be over the top. Sort of on the order of someone in Connecticut calling their son ‘Ivanovich Smith’. It fails to ‘roll off the tongue’.

But then again, with my name, what would?

The One about Nothing - Nov 21st

Just for fun I thought I’d end the week with all the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleamed from the net in the last seven days. If you enjoy it, tell me. Maybe I’ll make it a weekly event.

*Apologies: many of these stories were discovered by searching Blog Explosion. As a newbie to the directory I’m a little thrown by the complete absence of a ‘normal’ web address (everything is framed). Therefore I couldn’t pull many of the site names to throw out a hat tip. If someone has a way to do this, let me know *

 

By popular demand, here’s the story of why the Vice President goes by the name “Big” Dick Cheney. When he stopped in this area on a campaign trip, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel used a photo of him on the front page. Nothing unusual about that. But now that pic has been pulled from MJS’s online archives, and the normally money hungry J won’t sell copies of the photo either.

Why the hush up?

According to the December issue of Milwaukee Magazine, it’s because the Journal noticed that the outline of the Vice President’s penis is clearly visible through his pants . . . and on his thigh, and by his knee . . .

(irrelevant fact: my wife denies that this is possible, because ‘’in her experience’’ Republicans aren’t built that well. This, could of course, be taken as a mandate on my own stature, but I have wiggled out of that logic. I was born and raised a Democrat. Even if her theory is true, I am immune from the end results)

Anyway, a hat tip goes out to Dummocrats.com for the story. Oh, and the pic? I tried and failed to load it here (Tre - I could use some help with graphics) but you can find it here: http://wizbangblog.com/archives/004296.php#004296

 

*************************************

Want a sure sign that the war in Iraq is drawing to a close? Then read this:

PARIS, Nov 18 (AFP) - Three, and possibly four, Frenchmen have been killed in Iraq fighting with insurgents seeking to oust US-led forces in the country, a French official said Thursday.
A 24-year-old Frenchman from Paris identified as Tarek W. was killed on September 17, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He was the latest addition to a list French authorities have drawn up of French casualties in Iraq,

When you have Frenchman fighting you in the trenches, the war’s all but over. Think I’m being over the top? Then try this out.

Go to google and type in a search for “French military victory’. Then hit the “I’m feeling lucky” link. See what comes up - or doesn’t.

***************************

cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.

**************************************

And now, some boy humor. Top 12 Things Yoda Would Say When Making Love

 

12. Ahhh! Yoda’s little friend you seek!

11. Urm. Put a shield on my saber I must.

10. Feel the force!

9. Foreplay, cuddling. A Jedi craves not these things.

8. Down here I am. Find a ladder I must!

7. Do me or do me not, there is no try.

6. Early must I rise. Leave now you must!

5. You know, this would be a lot more fun without Frank Ozs hand up my
ass.

4. Happens to every guy sometimes this does.

3. When 900 years old you get, Viagra you need too, hmmmm?

2. Ow, ow, OW! On my ear you are!

1. Whos your Jedi Master? Whos your Jedi Master?

Hat tip to http://www.dataste.com/blog/wordpress/wp-trackback.php/71

******************

The FBI is asking for help finding a lost tanker. I doubt it will show up in the Midwest, but just in case . . .

http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/11/12/fuel.tanker/index.html

Hat tip to Drudge.

*********************************************

Last but not least, a news item from this morning. All I can say is, My Man! Can you imagine Jimmy Carter doing this? Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.

Bush Pulls Top Bodyguard From Scuffle

 

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- President Bush stepped into the middle of a confrontation and pulled his lead Secret Service agent away from Chilean security officials who barred his bodyguards from entering an elegant dinner for 21 world leaders Saturday night.

Several Chilean and American agents got into a pushing and shoving match outside the cultural center where the dinner was held. The incident happened after Bush and his wife, Laura, had just posed for pictures on a red carpet with the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and his wife, Luisa Duran.

As Bush stepped inside, Chilean agents closed ranks at the door, blocking the president's agents from following. Stopping for more pictures, Bush noticed the fracas and turned back. He reached through the dispute and pulled his agent from the scrum and into the building.

The president, looking irritated, straightened his shirt cuffs as he went into the dinner. The incident was shown on APEC television.

*****

The print version of this was sooooo much better - describing his motion as something like “casually adjusted his cuff links and strode forward”

 

Friday, November 19, 2004

The One about Morning Radio - Nov 19

C'mon. I can't be the only person that hates all the endless chatter on morning radio, right? Because it's really starting to shake my faith in capitalism. A product that offensive to the consumer should have been kicked to the curb years ago.

Which doesn't explain The View, but still . . .

Just to clarify, I'm not talking about 'talk' radio. This is for two reasons: A) Because I avoid it. Having someone blather on and on about their opinion for hours doesn't appeal to me.

I have a wife for that, thank you.

And B) it's blessedly confined to the AM dial, which hasn't worked in our car since I crushed a Styrofoam cup, sending Sprite into the inner workings of the stereo. (and believe me, my wife went 'talk radio' on me for the rest of that day).

No, I'm talking about the daily, universal pairing of otherwise unemployable DJ's, each compelled to offer me the worst skits, the shallowest news headlines, and no music. No music.

That last part's where I draw the line. If I'm in my car at six in the morning, chances are I'm a wee bit frustrated. Perhaps a little jazz would help relieve my tension. Or, if I choose to vent, some metal or rap. What will not accomplish this is a sixty-year old man playing a phone prank, to be followed by a local version of Stupid Pet Tricks.

And it's true for every radio station, regardless of their format. Oh, there are variations. The tag team of aging hippies at the 'classic rock' station aren't as young and hip as those on 'urban music' scene. And depending on the demographic of the listener, the DJ's will discuss psoriasis, as opposed to say, the clap. But underneath, they're all the same.

I can see how this idea seemed logical in the boardroom. People wake up, they drive to work. What's important to them at that moment? They need to know the time, they want to catch up on the news, they want to know the weather. So how about we give them all this info for four straight hours?

If I may be so bold, here is my retort.

I am already awake, dressed, in the car, and on my way to work. I should know by that point if it's raining or not, and if some is forecast for the afternoon, whoopdeedo. What would you have me do, turn around and go home to grab my galoshes from the closet?

The time? My radio has a clock. So does my wrist, my phone, and every bleeping bank I pass.

The news? This concept, I admit, has value …except for the fact that it's mighty hard to condense a newspaper into the 4.3 seconds allotted for the news. Maybe that's a blessing though. Last week I heard a DJ stop reading a story about a Japanese woman to ask what a kimono was. This, from a man corporate America deemed intelligent enough to helm four hours of discussion a day.

Thank God he didn't stumble over any obscure words, like say . . .hamburger.

(sadly, when I told a friend that story he interrupted to ask me what a kimono was. This leads me to believe that I'm as incredibly bright as I am handsome. For the record, it's a decorative robe of Asian origin.)

I know it's a lost cause, ranking right up there with the 'pro-smoking for children' lobby. But somewhere, someone has to feel the same way.

Is it too much to ask to hear a good NKOTB song in the morning?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Just a little change of pace . . .

Just in case this loads odd for you - because on this end, it either comes up the size of a thumbnail or as super large (like I said, I know zilch about this stuff) here's the link: http://www.uclick.com/client/mij/prc/. You may have to enter the date of this post (11/18/04) if viewing the link after today.



Photobucket

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The One about Rice and Powell - November 17th

So Colin Powell is out and Condaleeza Rice is in.

It‘s ironic. For a bunch of intolerant redneck, race baiting members of the sexist status quo, the White House Brain Trust sure seems to depend on a lot of women and minorities. There’s Karen Hughes and Colin Powell, Margaret Spellings, Alphonso Jackson, Rod Paige, Norman Mineta, Elaine Chao, Gale Norton, Condeleeza Rice, Ann Venteman, Al Gonzales . ..

Then again, they’re not really women or people of color.

I mean, it’s not like they vote Democratic or anything.

Let’s pause to let the hypocrisy settle in . . .and now, on to business.

Unlike the majority of people who report the news on TV and in print, I’m not shedding any tears over Colin Powell’s resignation.

Before you knock on my door with pitchforks and torches, let me explain. It’s nothing personal. I admire his ’by the boot straps’ rise to power, his long and dedicated service to his country and his President, and his personality. To quote my Grandma’s highest praise, I think he’s a ’good Joe’.

I just don’t see that his performance is as great as his reputation would have you believe.

Yes, he got dealt a bum hand. He served an Administration out of favor with the mainstream media. 9/11, Afganistan, and Iraq all occurred on his watch. Circumstances put him at odds with the opinions of Old Europe, traditionally the centerpiece of Western diplomacy. He is rumored to have butted heads with the Defense Department time and again (although this is normal and healthy. By definition the State Department seeks a diplomatic resolution to conflict; likewise, the Defense Department leans toward a military solution). And frankly, our enemies in this century are not the kind of people that choose to sit down at a table and discuss a peaceful solution, making it all that much harder for a Secretary of State to change the course of events.

Unfortunate roadblocks, yes. But as an excuse to explain away the failure of our diplomatic efforts, they fall short.

The UN couldn’t be motivated to enforce it’s own declarations. Our traditional allies, influenced by their own ‘oil for food’ scandals, ignored our pleas for help. Spain succumbed to terrorist blackmail and withdrew from our alliance. Iran continues with their ‘peaceful’ development of nuclear technology. North Korea continues to snub their noses at us, despite the presence of a superpower - and nominal ‘ally’of ours - on their border.

Not exactly a resume builder.

Now I acknowledge that I could be wrong. It’s impossible to properly evaluate contemporary events. Until a few decades go by and the usual documents and memoirs come to light no one on the outside will know exactly who did what. The calmest waters often belay the most activity beneath the surface.

But I’m drawn, of all things, to a quote by Lyndon Johnson. Skewered by the press and sabotaged by leaks, he had some advice for future residents of the White House. To paraphrase, he told Henry Kissinger to read the newspapers daily and ignore everything negative they had to say. Ignore the negative, but keep an eye out for any official the papers call bright, trusted, under-rated, or any other positive adjective.

Find that person, Johnson said, and fire him. He is your leak.

I thought of that when I saw the blizzard of adjectives in recent headlines. Powell was a moderate, a voice of reason, and a gentleman, while his successor, to quote one headline of this morning, is simply a “hawk”.

Makes you wonder how straightforward Powell really is.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The One about Fundraising - November 15

November 15, 2004

I was never very good at school fundraising.

Oh, I did great in the annual 'read-a-thon' for charity. During the holiday's I'd con distant family members and get them to pledge fifty cents for every book I read. When they'd have to cough up $20 a few weeks down the road, they made sure they stayed distant.

But when it came to actual sales - the art of a pleasant personality coupled with a nice sales pitch - I was pitiful. In a good year I'd sell a few pizzas to friends and family, and maybe move a wreath or two for my Boy Scout troop. I never bothered looking at the prizes that were offered to top sellers because I knew I'd never have a chance.

Times change.

In this case, the minute my daughter started school.

Within a week we were asked to sell three- pound tubs of cookie dough for $11 each. I was aware that I was hawking a product of unknown quality for about twice the going rate of the local grocery store. Ethically, pushing this on friends and family should have presented a problem.

Yeah, right.

It took my two seconds to realize that my daughter was the new kid on the block. Wiping the floor with her peers so early in the year would bring her respect from the 'in' crowd and cower the weak of the herd into submission. It would establish her as a leader and set the tone for her entire educational experience.

Hey, those aren't my rules. Three-year old kindergarten is a brutal place.

So we sold cookie dough. I looked up everyone that had ever snookered me into buying a $20 tub of half-popped popcorn or flimsy, paper-thin pizza for his kid. I approached her Grandparent's (and here is the unspoken advantage of divorce: multiple sets of grandparents, each eager to outspend their ex). I approached friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

In the end she easily outpaced her class, racking up the second highest sales in the school. The administration was impressed enough to let her choose her own prize.

Read that again: they let my three-year old choose her own prize. She ignored the many age-appropriate choices and now owns a wireless headset phone with multi-line capability. She does not have a phone line. She will not have one for many years. And I refuse to wear a pink neon gizmo that looks like it escaped from the world of the PowerPuff girls.

Re-gift anyone?

A week later we received instructions to start hawking wrapping paper for Christmas. Despite having burned most of our family's goodwill on Double Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies, we . . . , er, I mean my daughter, once again finished in the top three.

But it came at a cost. I'm now indebted to most of Milwaukee and obligated to buy every overpriced piece of crud put in front of me. Worse still, the school sees dollar signs when I drop my daughter off. The bar has been set so high there's nowhere to go but down.

The only plus was that I thought this phenomenon was isolated to her school. I imagined I could safely take my daughter to her dance class and shell out for the tuition and shoes without having to worry about sales quotas and prize packs.

I'm now thirty candy bars away from getting rid of the one hundred and eighty I agreed to sell for her dance recital. But all is not lost.

I finally put my foot down.

This time, I get to choose the prize.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The One about Arafat - November 13th 2004

Yesterday a CBS news producer was fired for interrupting an episode of CSI: NY with a special report about Yasser Arafat's death.

Yes, I know. As of yet, the same network has yet to discipline anyone for using the counterfeit Bush National Guard memos.

Still, I think the personnel move tells you one of two things about the American soul:

First, that American's care far too much about a TV show, even at the expense of a historic event.

Or two, unless his name is Bin Laden, American's don't care when a terrorist dies.

I suspect it's a little bit of both, and sadly, probably more of the former.

You'll notice I called Arafat a terrorist. Not a freedom fighter, a misunderstood soul, an insurgent, or a statesman. The reasons for this are clear:

Freedom fighters do not order the kidnapping and execution of Olympic athletes, as the PLO did in Munich.

Misunderstood souls do not stand before the UN General Assembly wearing a holster and threatening violence if his wishes aren‘t granted. Israel understood exactly what he was.

Insurgents do not use their arms for personal profit. For while his people starved in poverty, Araftat's wife lived under the yoke of a $100,000 a month allowance.

And statesman do not abruptly reject the fulfillment of their goals, as Arafat did in the '90's when he realized that a Palestinian state would eventually mean the end of his own power.

Overall there seems to be a lot of confusion about what defines a terrorist nowadays - Bin Laden excepted. This week the Today show compared Iraqi insurgents to Washington's Colonial army, and the phrase "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has popped out of several talking heads, not the least of them Diane Sawyer.

Let me clarify this point: engaging in violent acts for political gain is universal to a hundred causes, some of them genuine. Arafat's work does not meet this criteria. The intentional targeting of civilians is terrorism. Blindly pursuing death and destruction for its own sake is terrorism. Killing Israelis soley because they are Israelis is terrorism, and dressing it up in trite calls for a Palestinian state do not excuse it.

Ironically, the world is closer now to a Palestinian state then at any point in the last century. Not because of Arafat, but in spite of him. When history traces the evolution of that ideal it will crucify Arafat, who's actions delayed it's birth by hardening Israeli opposition to it. The most glaring miscue of the saga is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Arafat in 1994.

To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, a winner of the award in 1973, "when a man like that wins it, it makes you wonder if you want to be part of the club".

I am not so naïve as to think nations must only deal with the pure of heart. If that was a condition of diplomacy WWII would not have ended in 1945 with the Japanese emperor alive and still enthroned, and history would be cluttered with a thousand unresolved conflicts.

We might have to deal with people like Arafat, but that isn’t an excuse to lionize them.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, both leaders traditionally loathe to work within timelines, have said they expect a new nation to emerge within four years. For the sake of the Palestinian people Arafat exploited, I hope they’re right.

And for the sake of peace in that troubled region, may it be a place that emulates the rosy misconceptions of Yassir Arafat, and not the grim reality.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The One about the DMV - November 11th

On Wednesday morning I realized I hadn't updated the site in a few days, and what's worse, had nothing much to say. I needed a jump start, a controversy, a ways and means of identifying the ills of society and proof of how big government can only reinforce the degradation of the common man.

Naturally, I headed to the DMV.

My wife pleaded with me not to go. "Can't you just call them? It seems like a simple problem," she said. I shook off her naiveté.

"Some things a man has to do in person," I told her, wiping a lone tear from her eye.

I'm no coward, but I’m no fool either. I went in heavily armed. I had with me documentation proving ownership of the vehicle and residence, a copy of the bill in question, and a Henry Kissinger book as large as the bible to read as the hours passed by.

To prime the pump, I chose a busy urban location. Both the parking lot and waiting area were full, and the first clerk I saw looked suitably harried and close to violence.

Ahh, the sweet smell of success.

I took a ticket. Number 318. Perfect. I was a few hours away from a years worth of material.

Except the board on the wall said they were already helping number 317. Well, that has to be a glitch, I thought. Or better yet, maybe it was one of those things where they ignore your number and spend fifty minutes processing Hmong driving exams while the line grows and festers.

Three pages into the Kissinger book they called my number.

I was not deterred. The clerk ‘helping’ me had yet to look up from his word-search book. Having been a civil servant for six long years, I could have tipped the scales in my favor by opening with the classic rant “I pay taxes. I pay your salary”.

[for those who still wonder why the city and I . . . divorced,: “Yeah, well I pay taxes too lady. Which means, when you think about it, I’m paying myself to sit here and listen to you blather. Which of us has the worse end of the deal?”]

Instead, I played it straight. I outlined how I had renewed my plates online six weeks prior, but had yet to receive the stickers in the mail. I had just begun to pull out my paperwork when an envelope of stickers landed in front of me.

“There ya go. Have a nice day,” the clerk said, never once looking up from his puzzle book.

[what’s the deal with that ? I mastered word searches when I was in the fourth grade. Move on to bigger and more challenging things. Like Archie comic books]

I was stunned. This could not be. No wait, and a quick and easy solution to my problem? Impossible.

Undeterred, I took the offensive. Surely there was some reason for the delay. An outdated address, a snafu in the payment, disease, pestilence? I have paperwork here to show . . .

That slowly brought the clerks head up. Shock was painted clearly on his face. Too him, I was the equivalent of a terrorist who refused a free pass out of Guantanamo Bay.

“It’s fine. Have a good day sir.”

And just like that, I was defeated. Minimized. Reduced to nothing but the freak in the break room who defends the DMV over lunch by claiming he’s never had a problem with the service.

In March my wife’s plates are up for renewal. When the time comes, I will approach that vile place without a book, without ID, and with only the vaguest notion of the last digit of the license plate.

I will get my story.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

The One about the Name Change - November 9th

I've decided to change my name to Dante.

Not legally, of course. First off I don't have the money for such folly, and second, changing my name by adding a mere two letters seems like more trouble then what it's worth. I'm not even sure it adds a syllable - it looks like it should have two, but when you hear it spoken, it walks a subtle line.

These are the thoughts that consume my free time.

No, I'm simply going to give in an accept 'Dante' as a nickname, as proof that I am, in fact, living the life of the guy from Clerks.

For those of you who haven't seen the movie, it follows a guy named Dante through a single day on the job behind the counter of a convenience store.

Dante is intelligent and educated, yet works a low paying, no-respect job where he deals with misfits and idiots. Life seems to find a way to smack him around without ever landing that knockout blow, a la Charlie Brown. He recognizes his misfortune, yet is unable or unwilling to alter his life. He is, ultimately, defined by his job title: a clerk.

But, on the bright side, he does get a small discount on Cheetos.

I am (arguably) somewhat better situated in life. Certainly the parallels in our personal life have tapered over the years, as I am happily married and surrounded by kids. And where Dante and I once shared thick, dark hair and a goatee, I am reduced to just the 'dark' and the goatee.

[Shaving the goatee does nothing to change our karma, for we truly are blood brothers: clean, shaven, we're both in dire need of chin implants.]

Sure, I could change things. I could land a better job, invent a car that runs on water, or actually get paid for writing. But then I wouldn't have stories like these:

Take Saturday, when my wife had a flat tire. I took it to the service station and returned to find they'd 'fixed' the wrong tires. When I asked how they could replace a perfectly good tire while leaving a flat on the car, I was told that the work order specifically said "passenger front". That's what the other guy typed in, so that's what he changed. Now sign the bill, Dante.

Or today, when for the first time in my life I ran out of gas in mywife's car. It's bad enough when you have to push a station wagon down a busy street. It's worse when you can't get it up the hill at the entrance to the gas station, and feel the wagon and your insurance rates slipping slowly back into traffic. Worse still is when you succeed in pushing it to the pump, only to realize the gas cap's on the other side. Or, after all that trouble, spending a fortune to fill the beast only to have it refuse to start, then having your cell phone die and the station attendant refuse to let you make a call.

We are brothers, Dante.

Now, I am reasonably certain that I can change things, even at this late date. And I might have to, for two reasons.

One, they're making a sequel to Clerks, and just in case Dante's gone big money, I'd hate to be left behind.

And two, if I don't my wife just might make do on her threats to leave me.

But I doubt it.

Being married to Dante's the closest thing she has to sleeping with a movie star.

The One about the Pimentel Rant - November 7th

On October 27th, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel endorsed John Kerry for President.

For anyone familiar with the paper, this was about as shocking as finding out that Christmas is scheduled for December 25th, so I can't claim to be too outraged.

But I was impressed by the lengths MJS went to assure its readers it was making an informed, objective decision. While skewering his record, the endorsement called Bush a decent man who never deliberately misled the nation, and a man with a "big heart" who just wasn't as good a choice as his opposition.

As I said, I was impressed. I didn't buy any of their attempts at appearing bipartisan, but I was impressed by their efforts.

Unfortuantely, their claim to the high ground lasted only ten days. Immersed in a deep fugue over Kerry's loss, MJS editorial page editor O. Ricaardo Pimentel decided to empty both barrels in the Saturday November 6th edition.

"[The President's] campaign . . . might be the most dishonest we've ever seen, in keeping with a first term that fits the description as well." Ouch. What about the somber claim of the editorial 'we' (of which Pimentel is 1/9th) that Bush never deliberately lied to the country? Well, maybe Pimentel was just letting off some steam. Then again, we go on to read the following:

"The president who pretty obviously dodged war as a youth . . ."

"The campaign against Sen. John Kerry was just one big Willie Horton ad . .." (nice touch, bringing in the whole 'Bush dynasty' issue.)

"We were sold a bill of goods [on Iraq]"…

"[Bush voters presume]the guy whose blunders have made us less safe is the guy to make us safe."

"the willingness of so many Americans to swallow all of this is [breathtaking] …More than that, it is frightening."

Now, I could give a Kerry bumper sticker over what Pimentel does or does not believe. He can have his opinion, and he is entitled to express it.

But I'm drawn back to that endorsement of Oct. 27th, and in particular to a note from the editor that accompanied it. Martin Kaiser, MJS's editor, wrote the following: "There is a wall of separation between the newsroom and the Editorial Board. As editor, I enforce this wall. No reporters who cover the news . . . participate in the discussions that dictate Editorial Board decisions."

Neat-o. But a crock.

I do not believe for one second that a reporter can do anything more than try to separate his work from his personal views. I believe that most do try. But I think their attempts are doomed to fail in a professional culture whose editorial and administrative climate not only condone but embrace the left-of center views of their reporters.

And yes, the problem cuts both ways. Whether true or not, Fox has become tied to its reputation as the 'conservative' network. That has hurt its credibility, and when faced with attacks from the left they step further to the right. I can't imagine that's good for the profession.

There's no easy solution of course. I would encourage young, smart conservatives to try journalism, but too often they wind up pigeon-holed on the editorial page or on talk radio. As a consumer, I'd advocate taking in as many news sources as possible, and making up your own mind.

And take notice when journalists fail to even try to be objective. Like the edition that followed Pimentel's rant, where the editorial, written presumably by college graduates, began "mandate, schmandate."

Charming.

November 3rd, 2004

Thanks …..go out to everyone who put up with my emails, ESPECIALLY those who used them as intended and passed them on to undecided voters. A special thanks to everyone who helped out in person, and to Sarah for getting her voice heard in the Journal. And the biggest thanks of all to Lisa, for putting up with my usual election year obsessions. J

A favor…..anyone set to toss out your Bush signs (window or lawn) or ditch your buttons and unused bumper stickers, throw them my way. I’d like to save one of each style.

I’m not going to gloat ….really, I’m not. Going into this thing I couldn’t have guaranteed a victory. Hell, I couldn’t have guaranteed it three hours after the polls closed. That tempers any victory dance I might otherwise have done – publicly. Besides, I’ve matured somewhat with parenthood. I certainly would have handled it better than many of the web bloggers I followed during the election, who have already announced concrete plans to move to Europe.

I would have stood by John Kerry if he’d won Tuesday. Hated it, but stood by him.

But I’ll tell you what. Just when the American people seem ready to piss on your idealism and bow to pessimism, media bias, and a good sound byte, they surprise you. They think for themselves and make the right call. November 2nd gave me yet another reason to be proud of this country and its people.

An electoral victory that included two state pickups from 2000, if and when Iowa is finally called for Bush. A popular vote total that was the largest ever, and the first victor to claim more than 50% of the vote in sixteen years. An increase in Republican governors, and increases to our majority in the House and Senate – including the defeat of the Democratic Minority Leader.

By anyone’s account, Republcian or Democrat, it was a resounding mandate for President Bush and the GOP.

Does this guarantee victory in the future? No. Does it give us the right to push through whatever we want regardless of political reality? No. The Democrats will use the GOP majority against itself, obstructing whenever possible and trying to tie any negative item into something they can use in ’08. I can hear it now: “How can you elect them again? Look, they didn’t do anything in the last four years. And that (inevitable) terrorist attack – do you think that would have happened if the Republicans didn’t run congress?.”

But I’ll tell youwhat. If I was still a Democrat, as I was until ’92, I’d be crushed. They fought successfully to label this the ‘most important election of our lifetime’. They enlisted billionaries like George Soros to fund shadow 527 organizations to hammer at Bush, while the liberal media did the same. Celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and P Diddy rallied to the cause. Michael Moore’s lies struck home for many. They launched two pathetic but well publisized Halloween surprises against the White House.The grassroots folks did their job, creating massive voter turnout.

And they lost. Big.

If I was still a Democrat I’d look at the map and say to myself, this country is divided. Not between Bush and Democrat, but rural and urban, normal everday folks and the more liberal coasts. You can no longer win by banking soley on taking the tea-sipping northeast and their west coast cousins, not even when the Midwest falls in line. To have any chance to win they need to go back to a candidate that appeals to the rural, blue-collar, socially conservative bloc of swing voters that make up the elecoral and popular majority of this nation.

BTW, that someone isn’t Hilary. She’ll take the same states Kerry did, but I can’t see her taking Alabama, Nebraska, and the like It would be a repeat of ’00 and ’04. If she wins the nomination in ’08, it’s a mistake for the Democrats.

Ah well, why worry. It’s all already written in your great-great grandson’s history books. It just hasn’t been published yet.

 

In Wisconsin . . .I’m embarrassed. Thirty years and eight elections and I have yet to have Wisconsin agree with my votes. (Remember, I cried when Mondale lost)

We lost two counties we won in ’00 and still lost by only 17,000 votes. Madison and Milwaukee continue to tip the scales, and a good deal of that (although NOT 17,000 votes worth) is probably due to incorrect or fraudulent voter registration. I need to show an ID to get a library card or buy a pack of cigarettes if I was still under 30, and yet I can have my buddy ‘vouch’ for me and I can vote? Come on. The argument foolishly put forth by Eugene Kane – that black males drive but don’t get their licenses, or any ID – isn’t good enough. Reform voter registration issues before it bites us all in the ass.

When the next election comes, I think we need to do three things:

* First, have a consistent and long running door to door campaign that isn’t confined to Oct and November;

*second, work on continuing our outreach to voters of color who are taken for granted by the rich white males of the DNC;

*and third, work on making inroads into the vast Democratic network that protects the DNC at the local political level. How many Milwaukee offices were up for election Tuesday, and there was only one candidate – a Dem – up for the job? We cannot enact meaningful election reform, or ensure our rights are secure, if one and only one party is continuously in power for more than a half century. This third point, I estimate, would take ~16 to 20 years if we begin with the ’08 campaign. Long term folks, but remember, everything that the GOP has accomplished in the last 20 years started with the discussions after the Goldwater defeat of ’64. Things like that are methodical and take time, but they are worth it.

 

That’s it. No more political blatter for at least two years. I will work to dispose of Gov. Doyle, not because of his party affiliation but because I honest and truly believe he’s a crooked and creepy piece of shit. J

In ’08, I reckon I’ll slug away at the Presidential election again, but mabye not. A large part of the last two elections boils down to my sincere affection and respect for the Bush family. I grew up hearing endless tales of Camelot and JFK from my folks – well, W is my Kennedy. I don’t know if I’ll have the same gumption in ’08, although this stuff is addictive.

[if McCain runs, I almost certainly will hold back. There’s something wrong with that guy, behind that calm, bipartisan demeanor. I don’t trust him]

Oh, one more thing:

 

Michael Moore, Hollywood, Dan Rather, and Old Europe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy the next four years, and a royal FUCK YOU and good night.