Historically, this country has always expected the most out of it's soldiers while compensating them at almost starvation rates. It's a good thing that those who defend our freedoms do so largely out of conviction, because no one with half a brain would make this career choice for the money.
This is especially true when you consider the following numbers. It's a comparison of the average compensation paid to the families of those who lost their lives on 9.11.01 and to the families of those soldiers who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, defending those freedoms our government claims is at risk:
Average compensation paid to families of civilians killed on 9.11.01:
Average compensation paid to families of firefighters killed on 9.11.01:
One-time benefit paid to the family of a fallen American soldier:
Of course, there are other sources of funds that may be available to the families of fallen soldiers, but none of them will begin to approach the sums paid to the families of civilians and firefighters. To call this an inequity would not begin to do justice to the families of those soldiers kill in the line of duty.
The surviving family may also qualify for the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), which is paid up to age 62 or until the spouse remarries. The SBP benefit amounts to 55 percent of the soldier's retirement pay, pay that is already so low it qualifies many military families for food stamps.
These "benefits" are contingent on fulfilling many petty regulations.... Several further benefits, such as the income-based Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), may pay out about $800 per month and $200 per child, depending on the case.
The clear message sent by this system is that the life of a stockbroker or a firefighter is worth significantly more than that of a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, or an airman- male or female. This is not to say that the families of those civilians, police, and fire personnel killed on 9.11 should not be compensated. Nonetheless, are we really so insensitive that we are blind to the inequity inherent in how we treat our servicemen and women vis-a-vis those who died on 9.11?
Yes, our service personnel are clearly cognizant of the risks they face in the service of their country, but does that make their families less deserving of compensation? The 9.11 families have received an astonishing (albeit unwanted) windfall, and most of them, with some solid financial planning, should be set for life. Are our men and women in uniform somehow less deserving of that sort of commitment?
Our soldiers are being killed on a daily basis, but most of us seem to feel little personal connection with them. If we did, their widows and families would be better compensated. Our idea of "supporting the troops" is to stick magnetic yellow ribbons on our cars. Those Americans who do not serve or do not have family serving are disconnected from our all-volunteer forces and their families....
Let's strip away our yellow-ribbon sentimentality for a moment and admit the truth: We treat our military like second-class citizens. I'm glad the Sept. 11 families were generously compensated, but it's time to ask why the family of someone who has done no more for his country than show up at a stock trading office on the wrong day should receive hundreds of times as much compensation as the family of a soldier who volunteered to leave his wife and child to defend the rest of us.
Most of the dead from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being buried in small towns and in the blue-collar or middle- and lower-middle-class sections of our cities. Our politicians seem better able to identify with the needs of stock traders' widows (not to mention the businesses and airlines that were also generously compensated) than with the needs of the families of our soldiers. This is a scandal.
Indeed it is. Until we can stop mouthing platitudes about how we honor those who serve, we will continue to be nothing but a nation of self-absorbed hypocrites. Our men and women in uniform deserve better than empty words and magnetic yellow ribbons slapped ostentatiously on SUVs. We are more than willing to extoll the virtues of those who defend our way of life and the freedoms that we enjoy, but is it fair to expect a soldier to sacrifice his or her life for the moral equivalent of minimum wage? Is it fair to condemn the family of that serviceperson to a life of virtual poverty?
The families of those who died on 9.11 were compensated in part with the use of a formula that calculated future earning power. Why can we not do the same for the families of our men and women in uniform? It's the least they should be able to expect from us.
Granted, I may not have a job for much longer, but it's hard to regret that when the hot policy advisor from the Associate Deputy Minister's office attends my meeting.
Who knew government employees could be so good-looking? Yum.
I'm not pathetic.
Are you tired of those crowds you have to fight in order to get your holiday shopping done? Tired of rubbing elbows with the unwashed masses? Sick of having to push people out of your way to get that treasured SpongeBob Squarepants Lava Lamp? Well, now there is a way for you to clear your path, though if you're not careful, it may just leave you with a felony conviction on your record:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Pepper spray was released inside an elevator at Toys R Us' crowded flagship store Saturday, sending at least three people to the hospital and leaving others with irritated eyes, fire and police spokesmen said.
Police were reviewing video camera footage to find out who discharged the spray at the toy chain's Times Square store during the busy shopping weekend....
It was unclear how many shoppers were affected. Firefighter Kevin Nolan said five people were taken to St. Vincent's Hospital and 17 others were treated at the scene or refused medical attention.
Police said three people were taken to St. Vincent's and nine refused medical attention.
Sometimes, if you want to get things done, you just have to take matters into your own hands. While I would never condone nor endorse this method, you do have to admit that it is an effective means of winnowing out the competition. Of course, to effectively employ this method, you'd have to wear a gas mask, which would hardly allow you to blend into the crowd. I never said that it was a perfect method, but if it takes laying down a smokescreen of pepper spray to get your Christmas shopping done, well, sometimes a person has to take extreme measures.
Ho freakin' ho and a Merry f-----g Christmas to all....
I'm having immense difficulty reconciling myself to co-existing with dental dams, particularly the flavored variety.
Now I understand the underlying motivation. To wit, fear of contracting some nasty STD. But surely the strapping on of one these contraptions prior to performing such an act must sap every drop of spontanaity from it. Slipping on a condom is one thing, but this? I don't think so.
Blowjobs have been with is throughout time. Eve blew Adam. Mrs. Moses blew Moses. It's just glossed over in the Bible. Even more recently Monica blew Clinton with her presidential-seal kneepads and her Monica mints. Yet two things remain unexplained so far as I know: 1) How did he get away with failing to reciprocate in any meaningful way? I know she claims to have achieved the first orgasm of the relationship. But to call what they had a relationship is ludicrous. 2) Just how did that telltale stain get on her dress? Be it errant aim, spitting or whatnot, I don't want to know.
Now getting back to the flavored dams, I think they are a symptom of a much deeper and more sinister disease. So much of what we do these days is motivated by fear at the expense of fun and risk-taking. We grow more cautious and wary by the day. Part of this is that legions of noisy Chicken Littles barrage us with warnings of dire consequences heretofore unknown. So we retreat further and further into our dental dam/warning label/lo carb hell-shells.
Go ahead. Live a little. Go on a binge and purge bender. Eat the whole bottle of vitamins. Smoke crack. Shoot up. Fly naked. You only live once.
Here's a heartwarming Thanksgiving day tale for your reading pleasure. In colege I dated a homely but sweet girl named Liz. My parents adored her. My mom said she was the kind of girl with whom you could settle down. (She really talks all formal like that.) She might as well have planted the kiss of death on our relationship.
She had a roommate in the dorm named Trish. They were as different as night and day. Liz was shy, Trish outgoing. Liz would smoke pot but that was it. Trish was far more adventurous and would try anything. Liz was kind of dumpy and a brunette. Trish was what you'd call a willowy blonde. Liz was a light sleeper, Trish slept like a dead person. We'd wait for her to start snoring before commencing to fooling around.
Or so we thought. Come Thanksgiving break, we'd broken it off. Back at home Trish called me and asked if I wanted to go to an amusement park. She convinced me to try a little something she'd gotten her hands on. Then it occured to us that we had no money. We headed over to my parents' restaurant to hit them up for cash.
As we sat there my mom peppered me with questions about Liz's whereabouts. Obviously dissapointed she got up and left us there with my dad. Both of us were fighting back laughter as this stuff kicked in. My dad asks what is wrong but his words sound far away. I see Trish holding her face too close too close to his. Her mouth is moving but it takes me a while to realize what she's telling him. Turns out she'd been faking being asleep. She watched it all and made... use of the imagery later. My dad seemed upset to be hearing this. He says, "I think I've heard about enough of this."
As we're leaving I ask her what the hell she was thinking, telling him that. He's my dad, for crying out loud. She says not to worry, he loved it. I'm not so sure.
Now that I am a father to a son, I know she was right. There are times you feel you have to rebuke the boy but deep inside you're going, YES! That's my boy. This is how I felt the time my son drew a yellow card for literally kicking an opponent in his butt. He sensed that the other boy had been toying with him and let him have it. You go, boy.
Okay, so I'm overdue for a post.
The thing is, my life, she is bo-ring. Boring, boring, boring. The most action of note I've gotten the last little while has been from Ezy coming onto me on my site -- somehow, I don't think that counts so much.
I've been out and dating a lot, or just meeting up with people for coffees and so on, and I find it exhausting. So very exhausting.
I used to think that I wanted to get out and date, stop worrying about having a boyfriend and how my actions might look to someone else, whether they'd go and tell on me to my boyfriend and so on...
And then I went through some stupid stuff, including not-quite ending a few relationships before moving onto new ones, and then I got into the dating field for awhile. And you know what?
It sucks. Argh.
It's very exhausting, and I wonder if it's the same way for the guys. I'm constantly trying to find the appropriate attire, figure out what's acceptable conversation and what isn't, what would make me seem a crazy cat lady and what wouldn't... and then, when it all goes wrong, start second-guessing myself to try to figure out what I did to bomb it this time.
Of course, hindsight usually shows me that I wasn't nearly as into the guy as I thought I was, and that if he hadn't ended things, I likely would have somewhere down the line... but it still seems a bit of a blow to the ego at first.
In the meantime, I spend a lot of time hanging out with friends, my cats, my craft projects, and working out at the gym. If it weren't for my work situation being so up in the air, I'd be at least moderately happy right now. As it stands, I wind up thinking inappropriate thoughts about my friends -- like what that guy with the incredibly strong hands could achieve if those hands were doing something differently than massaging my back (which is also greatly appreciated), or what it would be like to just kiss that other guy... and these are guys to whom I'm not attracted, have no interest in sleeping with, and don't want to date. And I'm not even *horny*, I'm just thinking this way, and it makes no sense.
Then I start getting all nostalgic about my exes. I saw an ex- of mine on a vacation trip to Toronto, and I was thinking about some of the good (and bad) times he and I have had together. There seem to be 3 default exes I think about when I start feeling lonely/nostalgic, and it's frustrating.
Anyhow, now I'm rambling, and all of this was just to put some ovaries on the page and pooh-pooh the whole 'dating' thing for a bit. Maybe if I just go out and do the random sexings for awhile, things will improve.
Except, with my luck, I'll keep getting the guys who are bad in bed, and that'll just make me give up on sex, too. And then where will I be?
Funny how inextricably our self-images are linked to the cars we drive. Take the quintessential "chick cars" like Volkswagen's Gulf and Cabriolet. It's not just any chick who drives these. She's got her hair cropped fashionably short like Brigit Fonda in Single White Female. She views herself as spunky or feisty, like the young Mary Tyler Moore who so infuriated boss Ed Asner ("I hate spunk.") She speaks in that slightly throaty, smart-aleck voice embodied by the girl who does those VW voice-overs. "In life there are passengers and there are drivers..."
There are flashier cars for older, more sophisticated ladies. These include the Lexus, lower-end Mercedes and BMW and Corvettes. You seldom see a homely gal behind the wheel of a Corvette. Corvettes are also the classic remedy for men's midlife crises.
A persnickety sort chooses a Honda or Saab. He or she speaks of resale value, warranties and reliability. They balance their checkbooks to the penny. They have investment portfolios. They carry around daily planners and actually use them. They're on waiting lists for things. They rotate their tires and write in for rebates. A related type is the Volvo owner. They talk about crash safety ratings. Secretly they hope to get in a wreck with you so you can see just how well their battle tank performs.
People who drive such oversized monstrosities as the Chevy Tahoe, Lincoln Navigator or Hummer do so for similar reasons. They relish riding up high, looking down on the rest of us. And like the Volvo owner, they figure that by virtue of sheer tonnage alone they will fare well in the event of an accident.
There's a permanent underclass comprised of menial laborers, petty criminals and illegal aliens. They buy cars based on 2 criteria: 1) It is cheap. 2) It runs. These are nondescript jalopies (Hoop-D's in street parlance) that often boast mismatched quarter panels. Hoop-D owners pride themselves on not having a car payment. But every few months they get socked with a repair bill equal to several months payments and far more unpredictable to boot. This is why the poor stay poor.
It's a shame they don't know how to work on cars like muscle car owners. These guys drive souped-up old Camaros, Z-28s and GTOS that run on leaded gas. I envision them converging on this one illegal gas station in like Oklahoma that still sells leaded gas. They sit at stoplights revving their powerful engines still measured in cubic inches not liters. The car quakes on its fat back tires and skinny front tires. When it turns green they tear off leaving you in the dust. They dart in and out of traffic and you meet up with them a mile down the road at the next stoplight. These same infantile men enjoyed their heyday on high school football fields. They still hang around the school hoping to pick up young lasses entranced by their cars. They are delusional.
Muscle car owners have another car, or actually a truck. It has those mud flaps emblazoned with "Back Off" and that decal of the guy pissing on something. They are as fiercely loyal to their make as they are to some cheap domestic swill of a beer.
Motorcyclists and convertible owners view themselves as free spirits who but for their humdrum jobs and commitments would be roaming the countryside like Jack Kerouac in On the Road. They too are delusional.
Don't even get me started about those guilty of DWO; or those middle-aged women who drive little pickup trucks with stickers about what PMS-prone bitches they are; or...
I caved today and saw the Spongebob Squarepants Movie. I saw the reviews, and yes they were awful, but I thought that these must've been people who don't appreciate the TV show. Uptight grown-ups who don't like nonsense humor, that's all they were!
Well, it turns out that the reviewers were right, and the movie was basically crap. It was missing so much of the meaningless, random fun that makes the TV show what it is. But there was one overriding problem in this movie: Mindy, the character voiced by Scarlett Johansson. This is exactly the kind of character that marks crappy children's animation: an unexciting, boring, constantly upbeat cheerleader. The moralistic know-it-all who helps the characters recognize that they're Good People! Feh.
There was a time when I wrote a good deal about our numerous unpleasant dealings with our next-door neighbor and his wife, who are both seriously unbalanced, self-righteous, "Christian" senior citizens. Over the past 12-18 months, we've existed under an unspoken but mutually recongnized truce. Basically, we ignore them and go on about our business. It's not a great solution, but it is effective. I hate that things are the way they are, but given that they are recognized around the neighborhood as judgemental, unfriendly, and just generally unpleasant, it seems the path of least resistance.
The truce may have come to an end yesterday afternoon. To begin at the beginning, Asshole Neighbor and his wife stole our cat. Actually, they've stolen two, but the first has since passed away, and we've forgiven- if not forgotten. Stealing Sakowitz, though, is a bit more than we should have to put up with from a neighbor.
Sakowitz was a gift to Adam and Eric from their Grandfather after their Grandmother died. She's a royal crank (OK, she's a Grade A b***h), but she was important to us, and she was a member of the family. About a year ago, Asshole Neighbor and Mrs. Asshole decided that Sakowitz was starving and it was their job to "save" her. Every now and then, I'd look out our kitchen window, and there Sakowitz would be, relaxing in the neighbor's bedroom window. Yeah, it rankled me, but Sakowitz seemed to enjoy her new surroundings, and when we brought her into our house, she clearly wanted nothing to do with us. Apparently, whatever they were feeding her next door was far superior. Given how much weight Sakowitz put on, it was also much more readily available.
Eventually, we accepted the reality of the situation, because neither Susan nor I had the energy to provoke a confrontation with either Asshole Neighbor or his wife. Being the good, God-fearing Christians that they are, they obviously think they are doing the Lord's work by taking in an "abandoned" and "starving" cat. Yeah, right...whatever....
Yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Asshole Neighbor knocked on our front door and asked Susan if we would watch "their cat" while they're away for Thanksgiving. This was more than my adoringly long-suffering wife could take. She went off on Mrs. Asshole Neighbor (in her own polite and gentle way), at which point the poor, misguided woman broke down in tears. How DARE we accuse her of stealing anything? Well, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck, and STEALS like a duck....
After a couple minutes of listening to Susan go 'round with Mrs. Asshole Neighbor, it was clear that this loon has NO concept that they have been anything but PERFECT and solicitous neighbors. Of course, these are the same neighbors who put up the world's ugliest trellis to keep Susan from "gawking" at them when they were in their backyard enjoying their pool ("The Worst Toilet in Scotland", for those of you who've seen Trainspotting).
I have this sinking feeling that things are about to go from bad to worse. Neither Asshole Neighor nor his reality-impaired wife are socially well-adjusted, pleasant people...but, hey, they're Christians, right?
It would be easy to feel anger and bitterness toward the trolls next door, but what's the point? They're miserable human beings, and nothing that we do or say will convince them of that. Beside, anger will in the end only harm the one feeling the anger. Neither Asshole Neighbor nor his wife are worth the emotional energy it would take to maintain any degree of anger. More than anything, I feel pity. They are two old, lonely, judgemental people who honestly cannot see how truly pitiable they are.
Perhaps it's time to put up that 8' fence we've been thinking about. At least we won't have to look at the toilet they call a swimming pool.
Everyone is bisexual. -noted something-or-other Gore Vidal
So I ask my son what he know about Alexander the Great. He's been studying ancient history. He says he was a fierce warrior and battlefield technician who conquered all the known world in like 500 BC. He carried on a torrid affair with ancient hottie Alexandra of Alexandria. He was Greek. She was Egyptian. There was some politcal element to their relationship. When he died, there were no heirs so he split up his empire among three top generals. What, no sons?
That's right, all that cross-Mediterranean cavorting produced no offspring. Remember, they didn't have condoms, dental dams or the Pill back then. What are the odds of that? Could Alexandra have played Claudia Schiffer to Alexander's David Copperfield? It's a relevant question because a team of Greek lawyers is threatening to sue Warner Bros Studios and Oliver Stone because Alexander depicts him as bisexual.
There's an old joke that goes: How do you separate the men from the boys in Greece? With a crowbar. The implication being that Greek men have a thing for young boys' butts. It could have some origin in truth.
I remember reading that in ancient Greece, it was an accepted practice for a man to take a wife, a mistress or two and a houseboy. Perhaps the women of the day didn't go in for back door action, I don't know.
This lawsuit is a classic case of trying to impose latter day morals on a time when no such things existed. (See: Caligula.) Up until the sixties most people tried to pretend that homosexual activity didn't exist. I once asked my mom if she knew Liberace was gay from the first moment she laid eyes on him. She said no, we all just assumed he was flamboyant. Flamboyant! What about screen idol Rock Hudson? She said she still doesn't believe he was rocking Jim Nabors' world.
Also, if ol' Al indeed had a houseboy like so many of his peers, that wouldn't make him bisexual. Depending on the lad's age at the time the boo-fooing allegedly took place, he'd be a pedophile. Wouldn't that be much worse?
My coworker believes that sooner or later, pedophiles will come to be viewed as proponents of another alternate lifestyle. And while I staunchly disagree with him because of informed consent issues, there is a precedent for it in ancient Greece. To say nothing of the fact that the ACLU has defended NAMBLA's right to express its twisted views on pro-pedophilia websites. Free speech, doncha know.
Apparently the FCC is getting swamped by complaints about damned near anything nowadays. I think this has always been the case - in a country this big someone somewhere will be offended by damned near anything. There are people who think that Sesame Street is inappropriate for children, and people who think that movies like The King and I should be banned because they depict non-Christian values. OK. So we've always had crazy people living to the left and to the right, and among them have always been those who believe that it's their right to actually stomp out of existance those things with which they disagree.
The thing that makes our time different is that now the FCC is listening. Now what amounts to ONE LETTER is enough for the FCC to fine a TV station. I remember when Pulp Fiction came out. I saw it and thought it was brilliant, and told my mom about the movie. She saw it and hated it, and when I asked what the problem was, she said, "Too much cursing!" This is apparently a common way of looking at the world - and now we all know it. Doesn't matter what kind of artistic value a work has, throw in a few F-bombs and it suddenly becomes dangerous and corrupting to children.
Can anyone imagine a movie like Shaka Zulu airing on TV today? This thing was on broadcast primetime TV in *1983*, but we can imagine the FCC being inundated by a flood of letters (six) objecting to the movie's accurate portrayal of traditional topless Zulu woman's garb. "They should be wearing bikinis," the complainers would say.
This should be slightly familiar. Remember when the Taliban took Kabul, and one of the first things they did was destroy all of the objects in the Museum of Antiquities that portrayed human images? The ancient statues and artifacts didn't jive with some element of their religion, so any historical or artistic value that the objects had ceased to matter - they should be destroyed, and destroyed they were. Some would have us wipe out all art that has cursing, or deals with sex or drug use (violence doesn't seem to be a big concern for some reason). The thing is, any important work, any work that carries a strong message and actually stands a chance of changing anyone, is going to be offensive. Important messages challenge us to think, and for many being challenged is unacceptable - that which they know to be right will ALWAYS be right, no matter what the facts may be.
People always remind us that we need to protect the children. I say that's the parents' job - we can't tailor an entire society's artistic output to suit the needs of little kids. I'm reminded of an old Suicidal Tendencies lyric more and more of late. Let's all sing along:
Before you go taking a walk in my world
you better take a look at the real world
Cause this ain't no Mister Roger's Neighborhood
Can you say "feel like shit?"
Yea maybe sometimes I do feel like shit
I ain't happy 'bout it, but I'd rather feel like shit than be full of shit!
And if I offended you, oh I'm sorry
But maybe you need to be offended
But here's my apology and one more thing...fuck you!
You're a young lad or lass. You may have received some perfunctory education about these matters. But you've spent most of your waking hours thinking about this moment for years. You've discussed it at length with more knowing confidantes. They are nowhere to be found now.
You're probably in some awkward position, like an attic or the back of a car or a picnic blanket that smells of mildew. You're done with the docile kissing. It's time for the removal of clothes and... you know. Suddenly you realize that you have no idea about the exact mechanics involved here. Panic sets in.
Jeans are easy to unsnap. So are bras. So how come it is so hard that first time? You'd think you were trying to make off with the Hope diamond or something. It is just a simple clasp. Reach up and over and it is off. But in practice it doesn't work that way. Half the time the girl winds up taking it off herself. My guess is it's the same way with zippers and boy's underwear. Fumbling is the word but it hardly does it justice.
Then it is the moment of truth. It is over before it really begins. At least for the girl, there's no pleasure involved. Nobody has any idea of what you're supposed to say afterwards, how you're supposed to act. Yet you feel that you've done the right thing, fulfilled your destiny. No longer will you be teased by peers to whom this is old hat by now.
Culture has taught us that these things should be romantic. They should go more smoothly. Bothersome details should work themselves out. But we all know that isn't true. And oddly, that heady experience is one of the few that sticks with us forever, the more awful and sordid the better.
My parrot died. I wanted another bird but didn't want to shell out $1,000 for a new parrot or macaw. So I went with the next best thing, a parrotlet. It's smaller than a parakeet but other than that it's just like the real deal.
This happened 16 days ago. I know this because the pet store guarantee is 14 days. I walked in there with this tiny carcass in a Ziploc bag. A 19 year old slacker named Chrissy Trainee informs me that since the guarantee has expired, a refund of my $200 is out of the question. I can get another bird. Okay-fine. But not before Pet Detective subjects to a rigorous interrogation.
PD: Is this frozen?
Me: Yeah, we put him in the freezer. I mean, er, after he died.
PD: That's good. Did you have him near a window?
Me: Well, the room has windows but they haven't been open.
PD: What about heating ducts?
Me: There's heat in the room, yes.
PD: Parrotlets are real susceptible to drafts and heat.
PD: What kind of pots and pans do you use?
Me: The regular kind, like metal.
Ian: The bird was in my room, not in the kitchen.
PD: It doesn't matter. Parrotlets are very sensitive. They can't tolerate Teflon.
Me: So you mean we have to let food stick to the pans?
PD. Yes. Have you done any cleaning with chemicals?
Ian: He steam-cleaned my room last weekend. (Damn kids are always volunteering information. D'oh!)
PD: You steam-cleaned in the bird's room? Those things leave toxic residue!
Me: It's not the bird's room, it's my son's. And the carpet was filthy.
PD: You can't do that. His neck isn't broken.
Me: That's good.
PD: You need a hardier bird.
So she coaxes a hardy cockatiel out of its cage. It promptly flies straight into a glass door, bounces off and scurries under a cage. She chases it with a net. When she finally captures it, the damn varmint bites her hard enough to draw blood. "Do you want to hold him," she asks. Like a fool I agree. It bites me too. It has a beak big and sharp enough to Lorena Bobbitt Ron Jeremy. With that in mind I'm like, "I don't think I want one of those." She takes me to this back room where the other parrotlet has been exiled after his brazen cage-break. "I'll take it," I say. This was last night.
This AM my wife calls me at work. "Dear, where is your bird?" "Last I checked, he was in his cage." "Well, he isn't anymore." It's a very big house with two cats on the prowl. The bird is a goner and not due to drafty windows, heating ducts, Teflon, tainted tap water or steam cleaner residue. I will not pass Go. I won't collect $200. Cat attacks aren't covered under the warranty.
To me this whole affair serves as a metaphor for modern life. Night and day we're inundated with warnings about the hazards of this or the harmful effects of that. Remember Radon? Global cooling? Nuclear winter? WMD? Meanwhile there are some very real threats in our midst. But we can't do anything about them. We're all going to die, just like my parrotlet.
I'm about to reveal something to you all that I've never revealed publicly to anyone: I stand up to wipe.
(Man, after my last post if I really do another one about poop people will start thinking I'm fixated on the scatological. Oh well, here goes…)
I used to think that standing up to wipe was the most normal thing to do. I mean, if I have to choose between sticking my hand dangerously close to a bowl full of my own steaming excrement or not sticking my hand in a bowl full of my own steaming excrement, I've always thought the choice was a simple one.
It seemed to make so much sense to me to stand up. But, as this is the sort of experience you don't share with others (except with you), I've never really been able to compare my water closet habits to other. They are just not the kind of thing you usually discuss in polite company. Which is why it was such a surprised, a year ago, when listening to the local talk radio station they had a conversation about all strange things people do in the bathroom. Shocking!
Through the course of that show the callers admitted all sorts of strange bathroom behavior. But no matter how outlandish any individual caller’s restroom routine seemed, the greatest revision was reserved for those guys who called in to admit they stand up to wipe. We precious few who stand up to wipe were even more derided than those guys who called in to admit to sitting down to pee, the freakish Nancy-boys.
I got to thinking, after that night, that maybe I wasn't so normal after all. But what had been a little inkling then, began to fade from my memory as if sheets from a roll of toilet paper. Over the past couple months, however, that belief hasn’t only returned to my consciousness, but become cemented there. In concrete.
You see, my new place of employment has those motion sensitive flushers on the urinals, sinks, and most importantly to this conversation, the toilets. I wholeheartedly approve of automatic flushers. Automatic flushers save you from walking into a stall only to find the previous occupant left deposited his last three meals (what usually looks to be a combination of Mexican, Indian and Polish) without flushing. They save you from having to actually touch anything in the bathroom (except the door knob, where more germs live any place on earth, besides a komodo dragon’s mouth or Colin Farrell’s knob. Those two things are unrelated (as far as I know)).
I’m just saying that automatic flushers are good things.
The problem is that as soon as I stand up - *flush*. The *whoosh* of the toilet might as well be telling me “I’ve flushed, which means you are done. You better get out of the bathroom now. Let the shame of you sitting in your own filth for the rest of the afternoon be a constant and stinky reminder of your abnormality.”
I’m sure as hell not going to listen to a talking toiler, so for the first couple weeks I was there, I put up with the damn thing flushing two to three times for every… interaction. Not only was I feeling embarrassed thinking anyone was listening to me in there, and thinking I was dropping something so foul I needed to give it three mercy flushes, but I was feeling guilty. Those things usually get installed to help save water, and here I was using three times my share.
So I altered my behavior. I now sit down to wipe, like all goodly people were meant to do. I’ll see a woman in the White House before you can convince me to wash my hands though.
Now that Mr. Arafat is safely ensconced in the ground, dirt-napping for all eternity, it seems appropriate to muse about what is arguably at the root of all that is wrong with 21st century life: what Arabs delicately call "the Palestinian issue."
Israel has existed for most of our lifetimes. It is more or less of an accepted fact. But it wasn't always so. By way of history, there was the Holocaust. Germans incinerated millions of Jews, Gypsies and homosexuals. In the end they were vanquished by valliant Allied forces. When the full extent of the carnage became apparent, the world was horrified. Millions of people had been slaughtered based solely on their religion, ethnicity or sexual proclivities.
No one felt it necessary to repay the Gypsies or homosexuals. Perhaps this was because relatively speaking, few of them died as compared with millions of Jews. So the victors got together and decided that something needed to be done, a grand gesture. One must remember that at the time there was no Jewish state, so there were no officials Jewish leaders with whom to consult. But somehow it became known that they wanted to establish their own state. They wanted it to be in a place with which they had historic ties going back to Biblical times.
They wanted it to be in Palestine, which at the time was under nominal British control. More importantly, it wasn't an official country. Without sovereignty (look it up, George W,) it made it easy to decide to oust 900,000 people presently residing there from their ancestral homeland. So in 1948, word went out: Everyone needs to pack up their shit and move into tents in these wretched refugee camps that made our shameful Indian reservations look like Shangri-la. Surprisingly, most complied. They vacated homes that had been in their families for generations. They ceded ownership of their property to make room for the new Jewish state.
Others refused. They were forcibly removed and dragged kicking and screaming from their homes. There is documentary evidence of this. An Israeli filmmaker wanted to show it to his people but the government put the kibosh on that plan.
Now first imagine that this happened in your 'hood. How would you react? What if it happened in the next 'hood over? Wouldn't you welcome the newly homeless into your realm? Well, probably not. Neither did the Palestinians' Arab neighbors. Oh they love to bitch and moan about it, but they don't want waves of unemployed people traipsing in to ruin their oil economies. In Saudi Arabia, many Palestinians are employed as domestics or in other menial capacities. But aside from that, these folks were basically between a rock and a hard place.
Periodically Israel's Arab enemies would endeavor to take it back by force. This never worked because the Israeli fighters are better equipped and are also much fiercer soldiers. Most of these wars were over in a matter of days. Israel captured territory on the battlefield, fair and square, in self-defense. For the Arabs it was all the more humiliating because many Israeli soldiers are women.
But here's the oddest thing: WWII was a very wide-ranging affair. There was intense fighting in Europe, across the South Pacific, in China and in northern Africa. There were U-boats right off American shores. However, the Palestinians were one of the few peoples with no blood on their hands. They had nothing to do with the war and even less to do with the wrongs perpetrated on the Jews. Why they didn't just carve out the choicest sections of Germany, such as the lush and fertile Rhine Valley, and cede it to the Jews remains one of life's little mysteries.
Is it just me or did Arafat always look vaguely dirty in his do-rag?
Dirty diapers smell like buttered popcorn. Not real buttered popcorn, but the Jelly-Belly jelly bean version of buttered popcorn.
Like an old married couple we here as BS sometimes get embroiled in heated political debates and forget about what's really important: nookie, wild thing, boot-knocking. I'm here to rectify that temporarily.
For several years now my age has exceeded my number of sexual partners that I can recall. This, in my mind, is a good thing. I'd never want to go back to single life. Hated the worries over unpronounceable diseases, pregnancy, the uncertainty and awkwardness of first dates, all of it.
Women in particular aren't always honest about their numbers. In Bring the Pain, Chris Rock addesses this issue. He says ladies don't count the fling down in Jamaica or guys they met at the club. Random dick doesn't count. Any more than straight guys count paid sex, trains or the occasional homosexual tryst.
Some folks are as plagued by insecurity about their number as they are about sexual frequency. Too low a number means you haven't played the field and thus may not know what you're missing. Too high a number and it either means you can't sustain relationships or you're as discerning as an alley cat. (Sorry, Ezy. And you too, Linz, with your diary.)
Tammy Imre has been having a torrid sex affair with an 8 year old boy. Imagine the uproar if their genders were reversed. As it is, it kind of sounds cute.
Ever read those Penthouse Forum stories under the Somebody's Watching category? It's always a variation on the same sordid tale. Some guy's wife or girlfriend is making it with some well-endowed stud. He happens upon them and finds it immensely titillating. It's never the other way around. I don't think gals would find that to be much of a turn-on. They'd just see their SO cheating on them with some slutty rival. It goes to basic differences between the way guys relate to guys and gals relate to gals.
Lastly, this generational observation: Back in my day, everyone who dated had sex. By which I mean conventional intercourse. Other variations were reserved for that special someone. Now I hear it's the other way around. Middle school gals dispense oral favors with all the forethought once given to a goodnight smooch. And there's those "anal virgins" who take it up the butt but nowhere else. That is saved for marriage. Very strange.
With a full week now to shake off our collective post-election hangover, I think it’d only be fair to hand out some Vote 2004 accolades to the winners, and losers, of this most "important in our lifetime" election cycle.
The Caught in the Crossfire Award goes to Jon Stewart, for proving he was oh-so right about corporate news’ inability to get the facts straight. Either all the Daily Show’s scary influence on the minds of 18 to 24 year-olds vanished sometime right before November 2nd, or maybe that influence was just the kind of media hype that Stuart normally rails against.
The Four Years Too Early award goes to Al Gore, who proved it is better to have someone to stand up for, even if they are terminally boring, than having someone to stand up against. Back in 2000, the hard-core lefties didn’t have nearly as many reasons to hate Bush as they do now. Yet, Gore was still able to win the popular vote, while losing that pesky Electoral College, because he had more of a voice than John Kerry. Gore has been widely ignored by the Democratic Party since mid-December 2000, but this award has got to have him feeling as good as the day he invented the Internets.
I never thought I’d be giving Michael Moore credit for anything except finishing the last Ho-Ho, but even I’ve got to give him grudging credit this election cycle. Moore is receiving the prestigious You Get What You Pay for Award for proving that old adage true. Moore temporarily waived copyrights on Fahrenheit 9/11 to encourage as many people to view the movie as possible. But, if the election results prove anything, even free wasn’t cheap enough to convince people to buy into his “docutainment” propaganda.
The Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice Won’t Get Fooled Again Award goes to the far-left conspiracy theorists who had us all waiting on pins and needles waiting for an October Surprise that never came. That had us all waiting for a terrorist attack that’d allow Bush to put off the election and declare martial law. Now they’ve got us waiting for the men in white coats to take ‘em away.
The One Way or Another Award Goes to Sean “Puffy” Combs. The P-Diddy is a musician, producer, fashion designer, and marathon runner, but he is really going to be busy over the next couple years if he wants to follow up on the promise of his “Vote or Die.” As the widely hyped “youth vote movement” could only be timed in geological epochs, you’d expect that promise would be a hard one to keep, even for such a “gangsta” like Puff Daddy. (Un)luckily Combs will be aided in fulfilling the second half of his campaign, as so few young Americans voted many more young Americans will be dieing in Iraq.
The Snowball’s Chance in Hell Award is a four way tie between Rudy Giuliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, and George Pataki. Chances are slim that any of these social liberal Republicans could convince the genius that is Karl Rove or the hard-core Christian right of putting them on a ticket in 2008. In the Democratic division of this category is anyone not named Hillary Clinton.
The Third Times’ the Charm Award goes to Marion Barry, who managed to convince the good people of Washington D.C. to elect him to another public office, also proving that you don’t have to be a red-state republican to be completely ignorant of political news.
Speaking of crack heads, Rush Limbaugh showed us this past year that just because you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed your drug habit, doesn’t mean you can’t also can’t hate “Feminazis,” love Jesus, and want tax cuts. For this, he is now the proud recipient of the This is Your Brain On… Award. Second place in this category goes to George W.
Who else can’t wait ‘till 2008?
Yeah, but is Ghost art? Rachel Whiteread and her legion of fans sure think so. That I can agree with. I have no problem with her winning the ever controversial Turner Prize. I do take exception to Paul Richard's 15 paragraph article, waxing all rhapsodic about this damn thing. Does it really, "sympathetically acknowledge both the struggles of the common man and the high purities of abstraction?" Is it really, "British in its intimate shabbiness, its hip rejection of posh..?" Does it really evoke Bruce Nauman's A Cast of the Space Under My Chair? I'm thinking, no. Or yes.
Why no link? The only image I could find was in the Washington Post article and they have that damn registration feature. So I will describe it for you. It's a big white block of plaster that is all backwards. The fireplace bulges out towards you instead of inward. There are square lumps here and there. It is very...square. It looks like a tomb that might house a germphobe.
Whiteread's masterpiece is now on display at the National Gallery of Art. It's on loan, and it's very valuable in the parallel universe of contemporary art. We Washingtonians have billionaire art collector Mitchell Rales to thank for our viewing pleasure. Richard estimates it cost $1 million to bring it over here.
Maybe it's the low-def photo in the Post, but I can't see the soot still in the "negative fireplace." I can't discern the single door, or the "bruised windowsash" or the "pathetic gentility of the Victorian picture rail that runs around the walls." I don't understand the concept of an "anti-room" any more than I do antimatter. I do detect the snobbishness of rich snooty people looking down on us the great unwashed. Yes, that is coming through loud and clear, just as it did after the election results sunk in.
Meanwhile, over in war-ravaged Sudan, a 15 year old girl writhes in a makeshift tent as tribal elders pour water from a gourd onto her head. It's a primitive cleansing ritual. She's several months pregnant after being gang-raped by marrauding Arab madmen. Abortion isn't an option under tribal custom. It isn't likely anyone will marry her or agree to raise the biracial child as their own. It is a shameful stain not only upon her but her extended family. She'll live with that the remainder of her miserable life. She'd love to live somewhere that had those pathetic Victorian rails.
Is it just me or is something awfully amiss with both these stories appearing in the same paper on the same day? Sure, Mr. Rales could have parted with his $1 million any way he pleases. It is, after all, his money. Still, I have to think that sum would have gone a long way toward protecting the Sudanese lass from the horrors she experienced and the worst to come. I guess it's a question of your priorities. But if you ask me, these questions of basic human dignity need to be addressed before we can stand around peering at at some plaster sculpture of nothing and calling it art. And by addressing I don't mean world king Coffee Annan wringing his bony hands and lamenting this tragedy in his clipped, Eddie Murphy in Coming to America tones.
*Slumps down on soapbox and assumes the brooding position of Rodin's The Thinker* Now, that's a sculpture.
On a completely unrelated note: I’ve never mentioned it here, but I have this strange unconscious habit of taking off one sock, and then going about my business. An hour later I’ll realize I’m sitting on the couch in my living room with only one sock on, and not be able to remember when or where the other sock made its escape.
I’ve always thought there was some psychological reason for this. Like maybe I was abused by a priest or a Footlocker employee. But recent revelations have thrown the whole “nurture” theory into doubt. You see, my daughter seems to have picked up the same trait of removing one sock. Though in her case, of course, it probably has more to do with a complete lack of fine motor control than anything else.
This is basically in follow-up to my last post. And while this whole affair is just incredibly sad, I can't help but laugh. What is this world coming to? Why, a full 3 days later, did it fall to "a friend" to find their frozen corpses? How do 11 year old boys A) Develop alcoholism B) Get enough vodka to have a .5 BAC (5 times the legal limit) C) Slip away from school unnoticed D) Have parents sick enough to think they can sue the school district when they themselves are culpable for the whole travesty?! (To say nothing of the other boy who died drunk of smoke inhalation in their trailer.)
God help us if we all don't develop some sense of personal responsibility, and soon.
I was going to comment on MG’s post, but I thought I’d just co-opt his vague glee, and re-direct it into my own post so that all these dark prevailing political winds would recede for a bit. Not one to let his provocative (if untrue) comments go unanswered, I'd like to take a moment to point out that Bush's incumbent victory of 3% was the smallest since Woodrow Wilson. As for the "smallest ever" argument, surely Bush qualifies in a few other ways...
Additionally, I'm fairly certain that the antics of Jeb Bush and Katherine Harris in 2000's fortunate son, Florida, were not only proven true, but reappeared in just slightly less illegal ways this year with the continued suppression of minority voters under the thinly veiled law that prevents certain felons from voting. In Florida this means actual felons, OR just anyone whose name is roughly similar. In this case MG, if you were living in Florida, and the French video director, Michel Gondry, was a convicted felon, you’d likely get scrubbed from the voting registry, or else bump into some other unsavory obstacle. That’s how broadly these rules were applied. I’d fact check that (after having once read too many articles on the subject matter to count), but hey I’m a grad student who hasn’t quite slept six hours this week, and if you’re reading this, you have access to Google, as do I, so prove me wrong.
The reason, I should think, that the country was foolish enough to fall for another four years of a mildly retarded man's, costume cowboy iniquities has much more to do with religion. By energizing that base, which has no interest in keeping church and state apart, he won this election. So apart from the fact that I believe that you, MG, also voted for Captain High IQ for prez, presumably for traditional Republican reasons (fiscal conservatism, small government), what you actually did was likely squander your Republican vote. Instead, you voted for it’s virulent offspring, the Neo-con agenda, which like everyone’s lecherous uncle at some unnamed family event, might be related, but will fuck you rotten if ever given the chance. And since we have granted that chance, congratulations America!
But we know a little bit about Bush. We know what’s coming (hell, these things were his campaign platform), so let me take a moment to alert anyone not completely paying attention to some possible law or policy changes riding the tide of next four years, which may determine your decision making process:
*Girls (or boys), get your abortions now, while you can. There will be no Roe vs. Wade in four years, save for the hazy memory of its former power to protect a woman’s right to choose.
*Gays, get your minds off those diamond engagement rings! The marriage amendment is not only right around the corner, it’s likely being forged right now in John Ashcroft’s fiery hell furnace that he has sweet time share deal on, with his golf-buddy, Beelzebub.
*Hey fogies! You get your social security check yet? You might want to get on that, pronto.
*Hey Canadians! If you’re not all dead from the cheaper prescription medication they supposedly dole (Ha! Dole. Remember that old bastard?) out there, then perhaps you could send your neighbors some generic valium to help deal this week. That is, if you’re not too busy living in an actual democracy.
For liberals, it may not be quite the sad world we’re being told that we’re living in this week, and for conservatives, not quite the rosy one. But it sure will be a different one pretty soon. And through all of this, George Bush (yes, the same one who once received a free dental exam from his treacherous Vietnam scouting post in Alabama), wants us all to “bear any burden.”
I really hope we can.
I wont say who I voted for, because at this point, who wants to hear me gloat or pout about whichever respective candidate I cast my meaningless ballot with? However, I will share my undying glee about two ear and eye gauge-worthy things the end of this election season means I’ll never have to hear or see again.
The first being my long and seething hatred of ABC’s “Vote 2004” logo. That damn thing has been up there for more than year. And not just on political and news programs, but on every ABC show. What did A Charlie Brown Christmas have to do with the election? What did Mark (another billionaire who can’t afford a decent haircut) Cuban’s dreadful Benefactor have to do with the election?
Now that the election is over and I am watching the amazing Lost I can relax and enjoy knowing I will never again be distracted by that little bastard “Vote 2004” logo in the lower right hand corner of the screen. The only thing that subdues my joy is that we are now only a month and a half from ABC putting up their “Vote 2008” logo on the screen.
<editors note>I wrote this last evening. A teaser for the local evening news last night had a promo for a story about 2008 presidential hopefuls. I berated the TV for a good two minutes after seeing that. Yes, I do have rage issues. What’s it to ya? </ed note>
The other half of my delight comes from never having to hear the phrase “Not my president” again. I’ll never have to read another “Re-Defeat Bush” bumper sticker. I’ll never have to hear another person talk about how Bush “stole” the presidency, or how it was the nine justices of the Supreme Court who really decided the election. I haven’t felt such bliss at the striking of a phrase from the English language since “Bennifer” broke up.
Now that we’ve got another presidential election as a buffer, I feel safe that I’ll never have to hear about Jeb Bush exerting some kind of undue influence over Florida election results. Forget the fact that none of it is true, that stories of Bush stealing the election are about as accurate as predictions of bin Laden having been captured and the news kept until right October to help win the election. Whatever the “crazy” beliefs about a pilfered election on November 2, 2004, one way or another, we would all remove the relevance of that conversation ever again.
If Bush lost the election all those people who’ve held onto that bitter little pill for that last four years would finally get some solace and be able to move on. What about if Bush won the election, especially if it was in a decisive fashion (as it was)? Well, if anyone still chooses to hold onto Election 2000, even after that (accurate) result has now been reinforced by the unquestionable accuracy of Election 2004, they are revealed as the whiney conspiracy theorist that they’ve always been.
I will actually miss something about the election season: Teresa Heinz-Kerry. How kick ass of a first lady would she have been? Comedians love Bush because you can never quite be sure what the hell will come out of his mouth. Same with Teresa, only much more of it would she says would have to be *bleeped*. Plus, what about that crazy accent? Maybe in 2008 we can get an Arnold Schwarzenegger - Teresa Heinz-Kerry slate and really do the uniting of America everyone else just yaps about. I’d vote for those two in a second.
What do you call nine lawyers chained together at the bottom of the ocean?
Before Kerry's concession speech, I read how Democrats had "massed thousands of lawyers" in Ohio. Try as I might I can't fathom anything more heinous than a place crawling with lawyers. Picture them in their fancy tailored suits, clutching oversized briefcases and acrid vending machine coffee in Styofoam cups. Hear them belabor mundane points endlessly. Smell their pricey cologne.
Lawyers are a special breed. They appear like fruit flies on overripe bananas whenever there's a hint of unpleasantness: accidents, divorces, disasters, crimes, lawsuits and disputed elections. These all have one common denominator: the presence of lawyers and the awful things they say.
One in 250 Americans is a lawyer. Jewish moms think it's the next best thing to their sons growing up to be doctors. Almost all our leaders are attorneys. Yet commonfolk shudder at the very though of any involvement with them. They sense that no good could possibly come of it. They've heard the horror stories. This guy got railroaded by vindictive lawyers. A man wound up homeless due to a divorce settlement. Another guilty criminal walked because of wily lawyers. A claimant was awarded some obscene sum. A guy jerks off while talking dirty to a coworker on the phone. She doesn't hang up. Yet he gets shaken down for millions by lawyers. Lawyers defend NAMBLA's right to promote buggery of toddlers.
I hark back to the 2000 election debacle. Republican lawyers scoured yellowed lawbooks dating to the 1800's in search of laws that would support their position that the recounts should cease. When they found them Democratic lawyers protested that they were relying on technicalities. As if that isn't what they always do. And last I checked the law is the law unless you're O.J. or Enron chief Kenneth Lay.
You may have an attorney and not even know it. They're forever filing petty lawsuits on behalf of thousands of consumers who may have had a fleeting brush with some supposedly harmful product or practice. You receive this incomprehensible letter in 8 font print. If you ignore it, you're in. Years later you'll receive worthless coupons or promises of rebates on things you don't own. Meanwhile the lawyers responsible divvy up millions of dollars in fees, that are the ony real object of this constant frivolity. Ha!
In my job I spend an inordinate amount of time with attorneys. There's a slew that represent my company. There's an even bigger swarm specializing in representing aggrieved parties. Some are fresh out of law school. They're idealistic. They're committed to their sleazy clients and thus should be committed to mental wards. They'd never sell them down the river for a fat fee. We don't like these lawyers one bit. Neither do the jaded old pros we usually deal with. We chuckle about them amongst ourselves. We're actually good friends after all these years. We send each other humorous emails.
Eventually the peach fuzz-faced young'uns come around to our expedient way of thinking and start selling people down the river with the best of them. They join our good ol' boys network. It's sad, but we all make troubling ethical compromises in our struggles for the legal tender.
For instance, I was once asked to write and direct a promotional video for our claim department. It featured a shady lawfirm called Sheyster and Sheyster. The tape was a huge success until someone pointed out that to Jews, this term is considered some kind of slur. We shelved it. Who knew?
A start, that's what you call it. What do you call thousands of lawyers trying to board a plane in Dayton, Ohio?
After being up at 4am and working a 14-hour day at our local polling place, I finally gave up and went to bed at 1130pm. I was exhausted, and it was clear that nothing was going to be decided anytime soon.
I woke up at 3am, staggered out to the kitchen to check my laptop and discovered that
Florida Ohio was going to be the fly in this election's ointment. I went back to bed with a heavy heart, wondering if it could really be possible that we could be heading down the same path we did in 2000. Could George W. Bush really be stealing another election? Could President Lowest Common Denominator REALLY have duped a majority of Americans into believing that he is a better, more effective leader than John Kerry? Apparently so.
A few more hours of sleep, and it appears not much has changed. This time, it's Ohio that hold the fate of this election in the balance. While no one has yet raised the specter of the nightmare that was Florida in 2000, the precedent is such that no one can reasonably make a call.
I have to be honest in what it all looks like through my eyes: it appears that George W. Bush has won. With a lead of 136,000 votes in Ohio, and 3.5 million nationwide, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Kerry could overcome. Once all is said and done, my sense is that Bush will be awarded Ohio's electoral votes and thus the election as a whole. That is not the result I wanted, nor what I had believed in my heart would happen, but there it is. One can only bemoan reality for so long.
If nothing else, this election ought to renew the argument to do away with the electoral college. Nationwide, Bush enjoys a lead of 3,500,000 votes, and yet it is conceivable (though seemingly unlikely) that he could lose the electoral college. This is the second Presidential election in a row in which the electoral college could award the Presidency to the candidate with FEWER votes. Whether you call yourself a Liberal or a Conservative, that possibility ought to concern you greatly. While this is a conversation best left for another day, I do believe that the electoral college has proven itself to be an impediment to our democracy. If we believe in one man/one vote, the electoral college deserves to go the way of the buffalo.
I am aware that if the election were decided by the popular vote would have awarded the Presidency to Bush early on last night. Must we continue to be OK with a system in which a candidate with a 3.5 million vote advantage COULD STILL LOSE? If that is not a bastardization of the democratic process, I don't know what is.
I will not pretend to be happy; I am greatly disturbed that a majority of Americans seem to be perfectly happy with four more years of incompetence, ineptitude, lies, and a hopelessly misguided and deadly war in Iraq. Nonetheless, the people appear to have spoken. A wise man once said that Americans get exactly the quality of representation that they deserve. Apparently, our standards are far lower than anyone could have suspected. That so many Americans seem unable to honestly assess the dearth of principled leadership that has been the hallmark of George W. Bush's reign is something I find difficult to comprehend. At the risk of sounding arrogant and dismissive, it seems that the Bush-Cheney strategy of manipulating the fears of Americans and creating their own truth was successful. Somewhere, Niccolo Machiavelli and Josef Goebbels must be smiling.
Yes, it appears that George W. Bush has won. I'm not giving up yet, but I am also not about to pretend that things are not what they appear to be. I still cannot consider Bush to be a legitimate President. If he had not stolen the 2000 election, would he have been in a position to win this time around? Who knows? I'll leave that one to historians and intellects more nimble than my own. Regardless, my policy will continue. I will never, under any circumstance, use the words "President" and "George W. Bush" consecutively in the same sentence. Some might find that petty, but I do not believe Bush's reign was legitimate from the start. Winning an election subsequent to his theft of the 2000 election does NOT legitimize the manner in which he initially ascended to the throne.
What I do know is that if what appears to be the current reality holds up, I will continue my role as part of the Loyal Opposition. I am angry, and I am profoundly disturbed that fear and ignorance seems to have won the day. Nonetheless, it is what it is. I was hoping to be able to spend the next four years being less political. I've grown tired of "Fighting The Good Fight". Now, I have to spend four years listening to people like Rudy Giuliani talking about George W. Bush's "principled leadership". How can I not continue speaking out?
It's true, you will never go broke underestimating the taste and standards of Americans....
I don't usually get worked up over elections. Yesterday and the day before I wasn't anxious, but now I am. My sister got home from work about nine at night and asked who was winning, and I didn't know because I figure I'll just wake up in the morning and check how the lawsuits are progressing.
As people have noted in the last post, my personal vote in California won't change much. The ship of American State is going to list which way it will regardless of it, but I will say that my vote was not an easy one to place.
I went to the same Foursquare Church in my hometown that's hosted the last two presidential votes. This time there were half as many polling booths as the last time, a huge line, and a new balloting system called InkaVote. I couldn't get the hang of this darn thing. At the registration table a poll worker gave me a ten-second explanation of its use and hustled me into the line for booths. A middle-aged Chinese woman was right behind me, and the poll worker didn't actually explain the system to her. She just asked her, "You heard what I said, right?" I turned to see the woman giving the registration person the kind of polite smile and nod my mom uses when she doesn't know what the heck you're saying, but doesn't want to look dumb for not knowing enough English. Ugh. I wonder if she inked her votes correctly. It took me four tries to get my first vote inked correctly. That first vote, of course, being the vote for President.
I know that California's going Democratic anyways. But it's the principle of the thing. Having to stamp four times just to make a satisfactory dot for your vote for President is unnerving. In the InkaVote system, any smeared dot is invalid, and any partially-filled bubble is invalid. It's up to the individual voter to check their ballot for invalid votes and request a fresh ballot if they've made any mistakes. Meanwhile my InkaVote pen wouldn't completely fill a ballot bubble unless I rotated it after inserting it into the ballot slot. If I didn't rotate the pen, it wouldn't fully ink the bubbles. InkaVote replaces the punch card system... how is this new thing any easier than brushing off a hanging chad? My sister said she had problems with the InkaVote system also, and we've both of us taken dozens, if not hundreds, of computer-scanned tests in our lives. We're practically hard-wired to double and triple-check entries for even the slightest imperfection on these kinds of test sheets. How would a less-experienced voter fare? How about one that never went to college? How about one that never graduated high school?
On top of all this, after a few minutes a poll worker asked me to leave the polling booth. She later said that I was taking too much time. That has never, ever happened to me before, and I've voted every November election and every primary since I've turned 18. Now imagine all this happening in a swing state...
Believe it or not, I am one of those “undecided” voters. Yes, I certainly skew toward George W. (That rhymes)
But… I’m just feeling a little uneasy.
The history of human society has largely been a conflict of cultures and ideologies. Different ethos war and it is through that struggle that many of humanities greatest advances (as well as its greatest shames) occur. Invariably, one of the ideologies win and swallows the other whole, but not before, and this is the insidious thing about history, being changed by the consummation.
We are now at a point in time when there are only two significant ideologies in existence: western democracy and the kind of totalitarian theocracy prevalent in much of the Middle East. This “war” between the two has been inevitable for 1500 years. Say what you want about U.S. foreign policy and fanatical religious fundamentalism, but when there are only two prevailing ideologies left in the world they are destined to collide eventually. Maybe the war had to come because these two cultures can not exist in the presence of the other. It would be nice to think there is such a world where they could exist together, but history gives us no other model that such a thing could actually happen.
Now, democracy has won out everywhere in the world because it is the best option amongst all the choices. Personally, I wouldn’t mind socialism, but it just isn’t practical. Maybe someday it might work. Maybe someday someone will invent a new form of government. Like the Borg. Or… who in the hell can imagine what might come next? But democracy is the best we’ve got now, and people understand that, even if, like in the former Soviet Union, it takes them a bit longer to do so.
Knowing democracy is the best option we’ve got, I don’t doubt for one second that it would win out over totalitarianism and theocracy. But it might take a hundred years. A hundred, bloody, painful years and destructive years.
The neo-cons currently in power believe it is America’s right and duty to change the course of history in the world. I think this is really cool. After the 9/11 attacks they’d decided to take that as the opening salvo of the inevitable war, and decided to face that attack rather than ignore it (as had been done for more than a decade before). I think this is pretty cool too. Then they attacked Iraq. I didn’t quite get that, but I can sort of see what they were trying to go for.
That would be the big reason I’d vote for Bush. On the other side, there is Kerry.
Besides for his service in Viet Nam, not being a “fortunate son,” his ability to marry up, and his staggering neck strength (to hold up that giant head), I couldn’t tell you many things I like about Kerry. I don’t agree with most of his policies, but like many Americans considering Kerry, I’d have to say his most attractive quality is that he isn’t George W. Bush.
Not that I don’t dislike George W., but I am a firm believer that a government is at its best when it does very little. This “war on terror”, despite what the liberals might tell you about John Kerry, will progress along pretty much as it has even if he wins. But, with Kerry in the White House the executive and legislative branches of the government will be split. Bush and the republican House and the republican Senate have gone a little crazy over the past four years and it makes me uneasy.
I’m not necessarily a republican, but a conservative. The last four years of legislation have been anything but conservative, and that is because there were no checks and balances in the government. That makes me uncomfortable, especially if Bush’s second term would involve appointing any Supreme Court Justices. I can’t go out and vote for senators in seven other states, so if I want that balance Kerry as president would be the only way to do it.
I’ll be walking over to my polling station in a little while. And I’m still not sure whose lever I’m going to push.