Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Some People Just don't Get it...
Read this:

And then read this:
Ho-hum, yet ANOTHER attempt to put political spin upon the LOTR....

Well, as I've always said, this is the kind of story you could wrap around whatever polemic is in the fevered imagination. Is it allegory --- the modern (WWI and WWII) world Tolkien found himself in magically transported to Middle Earth? Is it Icelandic saga, with heroic men facing a dangerous world with the hopes of creating something akin to paradise? Is it historical/mythological amalgam --- Aragorn as Charlemagne, Frodo as Percival, Gandalf as Merlin, Saruman as Mussolini, Sauron as Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Pol Pot, etc.? Or is it a lament for the England that once was --- pastoral and threatened by polluting industry and overbearing, socialist government (ala Orwell)? Is it Catholic dogma transferred to a fantasy setting --- the continuing struggle between good and evil, temptation and faith, redemption in the name of a greater power? Even Gollum, in the end, can be considered a martyr to the cause.

The point is that there is so much going on in this tale, that one could make anything one wanted to out of it. However, to somehow link a really good story to American foreign policy is a stretch, at best, even if the arguments do in fact, make some kind of sense.

First problem I have with this analysis is that the author sounds as if he believes that there is a cabal of "elites" (their political affiliation, for these purposes, means nothing), sitting around in smoky back rooms, figuring out how to "mobilize the mob" to their advantage or, at least, to fufill their whims. Horsebagels. Yes, we do live in an age where public opinion is malleable because of the media, but the author seems to be implying that there is some sort of conspiracy afoot. If we follwed this chain of logic then you have to believe any or all of the following:

- George Bush ran for President precisely to instigate a war (to atone for Daddy's sins).

- 9/11 was a rational response by a rational people to a clear and present danger (defined as Western culture threatening the Islamic order) and America (or the West in general) was to blame for it. In that sense, we got off cheap with 3,000 dead in New York and should be sufficiently chastized. We should apologize for being "insensitive" or "ignorant" (when we have no clear idea of just how we offended in the first place), take our just desserts and promise to sin no more.

- That a country that has the capability to wipe the Middle East off the map in nuclear holocaust, but doesn't, must somehow be morally inferior to people who believe killing innocents at work, at pizzerias or on public transport is legitimate political discourse.

- That the story itself might have had such an effect on said "elites" that they have psychotically transported themselves into it (Rumsfeld as Gandalf, Bush as Aragorn, Colin Powell as Frodo), and are acting it out. Sort of how college students used to play Dungeons and Dragons, for real.

- That Americans actually know or even care so much about the rest of the world that we're willing to send our sons and daughters overseas so that we might kill people and steal their land, resources, etc. In that case, we didn't need a 9/11 as an excuse, did we? I'm sure 9.5 out of 10 adults in this country couldn't find Iraq, Afghanistan, or maybe even Canada or Germany, on a map.

According to this author, we have a bunch of loony elites, influenced by a fantasy story organizing and running a conspiracy to enslave the world in the name of republican democracy? If I have to point it out, in Middle Earth, Saruman would not allow anti-war protests. Boromir would not sport a "No Blood for Oil" T-shirt, Arwen would not carry a sign declaring "Hands off of My Bush", Eowyn would be home barefoot and pregnant, wrapped in a burqa in Afghanistan, and Hobbits (in general) hadn't even a clue as to what was transpiring in the world at large. Until it directly affected them Then it took a few brave, informed ones to realize a danger which threatened them all and to take measures to prevent it.

If you're trying to make sense of what happened to this country, and how we're reacting to it, let me try to explain my point of view:

A bunch of nasty, crazy, desperate, degenerates, steeped in 7th century ideology, laboring under a religious system that would make a committed communist green with envy, and with nothing approaching a free market (economically or intellectually) have decided that since they are incapable of solving their own problems, that someone else must be responsible and held accountable. In psychology, we call this transferrance.

You may not agree with a "War on Terror" or even agree with where it takes us, but does that mean we have to invent conspiracy theories or attribute Caesar-like motives to people in order to explain it all?

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Assholes are where ya find 'em...
Got into an interesting online "argument" with a gentleman from New Orleans. He was bragging on how Mardi Gras is such a heck of a party and how everyone should make time to go at least once in their lives. As if New Orleans was Jerusalem or Mecca and pilgrimage should be mandatory. I told him that I live in New York, and if I want to see 20,000 naked drunks roaming the street all I would have to do is go to Times Square on New Year's Eve and get my fill. Or maybe if they ever have a free beer day at Yankee stadium.

The gentleman conveyed his regrets that I live in such a rotten place as New York City (and to a certain extent, I agree with him), but then he went too far; he claimed that New York was full of assholes, to which I replied, "we're okay, it's the rest of ya that are assholes."

The other Southerners in the chat room took it as a personal assault, but let me clarify my position for you a bit. New Yorkers would not:

1. Smash fuel-laden aircraft into office towers.
2. Fly across the country to visit the smoking ruins with six tons of camera equipment, a camcorder and his wife and kids in tow.
3. While burdened with said wife and kids, ask for directions to said smoking ruins from traumatized citizens because he cannot read a map, spot a plume of smoke and follow it, or find a 19 acre hole in the ground without expert advice.
4. Try answering some moron from Inbred-Hillbilly, South Carolina's request for said directions three to five times a day (on average).
5. New Yorkers know enough not to walk without looking in front of you to see where you're going. You can spot a tourist a mile away around these parts; she's the one with her neck lifted so high that there is a straight line from chin to throat. These people usually get run over by by busy New Yorkers on the pavement because they happen to be in the way. For this, we're considered rude.
6. New Yorkers can actually give directions without references to number of lamp posts, mailboxes, shopping centers and bowling alleys to found along the way.
7. REAL New Yorkers do not live in Manhattan. Only the pretentious ones do. We work and occasionally party in Manhattan and we know that is not the city as a whole.
8. New Yorkers do not have to give the name of their city when someone asks "Where are you from?" Upstaters regularly append the name of their city (as in "I'm from Buffalo, New York) so as not to be tarnished by the assumption that they are from "the city". Outsiders and tourists will proudly do the same, assuming that New Yorkers a) can find the place their talking about and b) actually care.
9. We know how to drive. We do not make right turns from the left lane (New Jersey drivers are famous for this), require jughandles, straddle lanes (Massachusetts drivers, aka Massholes), tailgate, try to jump speed bumps, we can drive in snow, know how to use directional signals and never back up on expressways because we missed our exit.
10. Know how to leave people alone. It's a survival technique around here.
11. We can never figure out how in a city where avenues run north-south and streets east-west, how anyone can get lost.
12. Do not believe everything we see on television as indicative of how things actually work around here.
13. We know the New York Times is full of shit.
14. Can navigate a subway system. How hard can it be when all the trains run on TRACKS? Not like they're making turns crosstown or something.
15. Can handle a cab driver that doesn't speak English because most of us don't either.
16. We know the difference between the "You've got to be kidding me" stare and the "Get lost before I kick your ass" stare.
17. Never fall for the "Beware of Pickpockets" sign trick.
18. New Yorkers know that when a menu says "Eggs, bacon, toast and juice" that we cannot switch the bacon for sausage. That's a different menu item filed under "Eggs, sausage, toast and juice". Just because bacon is cheaper doesn't mean you can order the sausage at the bacon price.
19. New Yorkers can cross a street without a crossing guard, or running for their lives, even against a light.
20. New Yorkers NEVER attempt to pet stray dogs, feed squirrels or pigeons and are used to seeing rats the size of small beavers just about everywhere they go.

For all of the bad things about New York, it's still a great place to be. We just wish the rest of you wouldn't pollute it with naivete and then call us assholes.
We have our share of them, for sure, but yours are prize winners.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

A Note of Caution this Holiday Season
In addition to all the usual nonsense sprayed across our television screens at this time of year (toy commercials, jewelry commercials, the fufilment of Everyman's Dream if only his Missus would get him that cute, little backhair remover thingy), we have been graced by the pugnacious face of Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Secretary. Mr. Ridge, as his title would suggest, has several advisories relating to Homeland Security.

It seems that terrorists will/might/are capable of/possibly will/bet-ya-they-could/are-planning/might-plan/have the idea to/are actively working towards new attacks, preferably in New York, Los Angeles, and East Buttfuck, Wyoming this holiday season. Fine. Let them try --- I have confidence in local law enforcement (although not in Airport Security). I have pretty much come to grips with the fact that because we are an open, free society, we will not be locking up or shooting everyone of Muslim persuasion that enters or resides in the country, and I appreciate Mr. Ridge taking his job seriously enough (or covering his ass enough) to warn the public when he gets some hot poop on would-be suicide bombers. The problem I have in this regard is the media.

According to the flapping rectums on the news, we're all but fucked this week. After all, we captured Saddam (and the other side wants revenge), the government still has not sorted out all aspects of security (it's a goddamn bureacracy, for the love of God, slowness in and sloppiness are to be expected), but do we need to hear this 24/7? Periodic warnings (surprisingly enough, some of us are still too stupid to have taken the lessons of 9/11 to heart. They will prbably vote for Howard Dean) are fine. Bombarding people with the THREAT of an attack, is not. This is not cool, and I don't care if Brian Williams needs more face time. Do your job responsibly instead of whacking people out. Report the facts, do not dwell on it, and let the rest of us enjoy our lives, please. One warning every hour or so (and the stupid crawl every five minutes) will suffice. It must be a slow news week.

Or perhaps the media is still trying to make people think that GW is a failure vis-a-vis our security? Having seen first hand what an airliner can do to an office building, I already am alert. Now you're making me hyper-alert and this kind of chicken little reportage is going to get someone killed by another hyper-alert citizen with a firearm or maybe just a crowbar. Cool your jets please, and be responsible.

Of course, we're talking about the media, so I feel like I'm talking to my rottweiller puppy.....
Merry Christmas, Happy Chaunukah, Somewhat-enjoyable Eid, Have-fun-at-that-Kwanzaa thingy....

Happy holidays to all, regardless of what real holiday, religious construct, mass-marketing-driven invention, et. al. you celebrate.
Some Comlaints About Blogger.Com
1. Those annoying ads at the tops of the page. They seem to be related to whatever I have written about, so I have seen ads for Muslim books, Usama bin Laden, Howard Dean, lovely Al Gore gift ideas, Chia pets, etc. Blogger is nice enough, I'll admit, to giving you an option to remove the ads, I just wish it would actually work!

2. Reliability is an issue. If I feel like updating my blog at 3;30 in the a.m., it better damn well be capable of being updated. I'm getting a little sick of "404 website not found" mesages.

3. Ummmm...the format here could be a little handier. All in all, not too bad, but it could be a little neater and easier to use.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Investing 101: Why You Can’t Win

Ah, the memories! They tickle the back of one’s mind like a feather, sometimes annoying, sometime pleasurable, always subtle and seemingly unsubstantial. As a feather is a wonder of engineering, so too is memory a wonder of the human brain. Sometimes the emergence of a memory is enough to take you back to happier times and greener pastures. Sometimes, like this one, it’s enough to make you vomit copiously.

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of stock talk, i.e. chattering about the stock market. The stock market is back in vogue, you see, and people are getting braver as the market “recovers” much of what was lost in the last three years. Part of this is psychological – people like to think that something, especially wealth, that was seemingly gone forever can be reclaimed. The second part of this new phenomenon brings to mind an old saw – history repeats itself.

Now, I’m not here to urinate in anybody’s Wheaties. If you’re all up for a jaunt into the stock market, be my guest. However, when I hear Gen X’ers and slackers talking about owning stocks and making a killing, I start to get worried because the young have a flaw built into the model; the very often have no idea about what calamities have befallen their elders, nor do they listen very well to sage advice, even when they ask for it.

Part of the renewed interest in the markets by the younger set has to do with the idea that Social Security (as if most of them actually know what that is) probably will not survive in the current form (or maybe, at all) as we know it. The reasons are many; an older demographic which produces no usable/salable product or skill still make demands (monetary) on the social structure for their continued well being from ever more-slender revenues. A shrinking tax base, due to under-population in the working-age demographics, means that less money will be available in the future for social welfare, especially for the retired. Finally, the shift in the economy from an industrial, trade-based standard to a service-oriented basis, which is about to shift again to a technological basis, means higher levels of competition for lucrative paychecks later on.

The American economy of past ages has already moved away from agriculture, automobiles, shipbuilding, textiles and manufactured goods. The second-generation economy, which was based on services (financial, information systems, medical, etc), is being drained by competition from overseas (cheaper workers, lower benefits, longer hours), and the incredibly crippling (sometimes) burden of regulation. The next big shift in the economy of the United States will tend in the direction of scientific/technical disciplines – bio-tech, genome research, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electrical and theoretical engineering. In short, jobs that will require more than a bachelor’s degree and an internship. These jobs will require PhD’s and a long apprenticeship before the younger crowd that takes them sees a return on the investment made on their education.

Thus, all the new talk about the stock market. See, when people begin to realize that their prime earning years are even further off then they are now, they begin to worry more about the prospects of their long-term future. This is the foundation block of the soon-to-be second “new” investor class. Add to these worries about retirement by 20-year-olds the fact that stocks are beginning to look more attractive (profits are up again, thanks to massive layoffs and shedding of payroll and benefit obligations), and we have a “new” enthusiasm for the markets arising.

I've spent 18 years on Wall Street (in the tech field, not behind a trading desk) and I have a bit of startling and disappointing, news for those who wish to dip their toes into the market again; The game is rigged against you. It always has been and always will be. Once you know what you’re up against, you can still go ahead and make money (you will make some over the long haul, provided you’re prudent), but you can forget about making a killing. Killings on the market occur only once in a lifetime, on about the same timetable as a Clinton telling the truth.

Those who do make a killing, the very few, do so because they have learned how to play the game by their own rules, i.e., they’re generally ruthless, have no life and thus spend their time in front of tickers all day, know the loopholes in the system and they’re anal retentive. They generally get lucky at least once and score big –like getting a Royal Flush at a Las Vegas poker table.

Now that I’ve told you that the market is rigged against you, let me inform you as to why. There are two fast and simple rules you need to remember. First, it takes money to make money. If you doubt this, do some quick arithmetic and figure out the difference between 7% interest on $100,000 and 7% return on $1,500,000. Multiply that second number by 8 to 10 times, and see how that works out. This all assumes, of course, that you never lose any part of your initial investment. The second rule is that money is not the mother’s milk of financial markets (it’s only the grease), information is. Information comes from a variety of sources and at alarming speeds. Brokerage houses have the wherewithal to collect this information from various sectors of the market, and then direct it to specialists who can make use of it. You don’t. You also don’t have access to it at the same time that the big boys do. They say that timing is everything, and never was that truer than when it comes to financial information.

Also, for those of you who might be ignorant about the inner machinations of the financial world, let me just say one thing: SIAC. SIAC is the Securities Industry Automation Corporation, which is a fancy way of saying that it is a clearing-house for information. SIAC’s main task is to control the flow of information into the markets. It does this by being the center where it is initially collected before being piped out to the various brokers and banks that make use of it. It also ensures that all the competitors get the same information at the same time, so that no one has an advantage, at least in theory. SIAC, incidentally, is supported by all the financial services on The Street, which theoretically means everyone has equal access in real time. Everyone except the guy sitting at home, tending to his portfolio via personal computer or the one that depends on a telephone to reach his broker. Technically, SIAC is supposed to be the first defense against “inside information”, which no one has ever adequately defined, but all can agree is a bad thing. Realistically though, SIAC dispenses “inside information”, that is, it gives restricted information to those that pay for it before that same information is made available to the public. Therefore, the big boys and the houses can take advantage of fresh information immediately, the private investor gets his with a built in lag.

So, when your broker calls you with a “hot tip”, rest assured the firm he works for has already made its money -- now it’s his turn. What he’s doing at that point is drumming up business, or to be more accurate, a commission. What you have to hope for when this happens is that you are one of the early suckers on the gravy train – as more people buy the stock, the price goes up, at which point, your broker will either inform you to hold it or dump it. You hold a stock in anticipation of another spurt in growth (i.e., more good information is forthcoming, it just hasn’t arrived yet), or you dump it to make a pile before it completely collapses. Generally, “hot stocks” fall into two categories – new products and services which will eventually become household names (like Coca-Cola or Xerox), or trendy issues (like Ericsson, Yahoo and AOL) which will eventually fall out of favor with the general public or quickly saturate their market niche --- in which case, you make a bundle and run before the train runs out of steam. Your broker cares not either way, he got his commission already, and has a ready excuse for losses – the market is sometimes unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed.

So, now you know how the information game is played and what it means to you, the small investor. The next step is to find a “reputable” broker.
Brokers fall into three general categories, but in the end, they’re all the same, basic type of person – licensed bookies in expensive suits, handicapping the markets the way one would racehorses, and all are obsessed with money. Usually, this covers both ends of the spectrum from the committed professional who believes in the power of free markets to benefit mankind, all the way to the shiftless backstabbing maggot who would sell his own grandmother into slavery if you offered him enough. Most fall into the middle-range, which I will call “Weebles”. Weebles, if you remember, were little egg-shaped dolls that were weighted at the bottom. Their main attraction was that no matter what you tried to knock them down, they would always recover their equilibrium and stand upright. A Weeble, in this sense, bends with the forces applied against it, and does his/her best to not fall down. This makes them self-centered and egocentric, the reason for their own being to ensure their own personal position without being held responsible for their actions. A Weeble will not knowingly break a law or violate ethics unless he/she believes that they can get away with it or that no one will find out. Weebles abound on Wall Street – remember Enron? Global Crossing? WorldCom?

At the end of the day, while your broker may most likely work for a major corporation, he or she is really a personal business. The Corporation just gives them a desk, phone and PC and the appearance that everything is on the up and up. Your broker makes a salary from his corporation, true, but he makes the majority of his money on commissions, bonuses and perquisites, and this is where his and the firm’s interests coincide. He brings in the business, no one cares how as long as the check clears and that the I’s are dotted, the T’s crossed, and both get paid. His only concern for you lays in his overriding wish to keep you coming back. Every time you come back, he gets dollar signs in his eyes. Like a crack dealer.

Can a small investor, working on his own, or even with a broker, get a good return on his investments in a game that’s fixed? Yes, they can. There are ways to make a buck or two without getting rolled or lied to in the process. None of it requires a deep understanding of economics, accounting or business in general. What you need is common sense. Common sense, in this case, means that you do your own legwork – you do your own research since firm-based research is usually tied to either a marketing scheme, or the institution that issues it is a major investor itself, therefore, it is tainted. This means you look at financial reports with a critical eye – if there’s something on there that you don’t understand, make an effort to find out what it means. Don’t look at “hot issues” unless you can determine the usefulness of the product or service they offer and if it’s based on what seem to be sound principles. AOL and Yahoo, for example, took off they way they did because the internet was a novelty and because we were promised a broad range of content. In the end, a saturated internet market brought you all the porn and Instant Messages you stand, but didn’t revolutionize your life the way it was supposed to. This is because most of the people involved in hyping the stocks were ignorant of the technology and they mistook the immediate demand as an indication of a “new direction for personal computing”, which sounds great in a report, but what the heck does that really mean? If the Internet could buy groceries for me, it would have been great. If it could have given me insight as to the meanings of existence, it would have been profound. Instead, it supplanted the Post Office and replaced the telephone as a means of communication, and consequently, took on the same usages both of those previous inventions did – it’s another way for people to yak at each other over the back fence. I defy you to find one person who can honestly say that their life was dramatically improved by the ability to get e-mail.

So, do your homework, then apply common sense, and lower your expectations just a bit. You aren’t going to become the next Warren Buffet so stop thinking that way.

Common sense and applied intelligence can save you a lot of heartache later on. And incidentally, would all the market yakkers please make an effort to learn what they’re talking about? If I hear one more 20-something whisper the potential earning power of skateboards and “power drinks”, I’m going to get sick. In the end, playing the market is no different than betting on a racehorse – it just all takes place in a seemingly more civilized place than OTB.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

The Joys of Fatherhood
Well, I finally got my puppy on Momday and she's a beauty --- german shepherd/rottweiller mix with incredible markings. I have named her Clio, after the Greek muse of History.

Just a few things I didn't really think about much before I got the dog:

- Housebreaking is a bitch...
- She usually remembers that she IS a puppy at around 3:30 a.m. That, apparently is a good play time for her.
- I forgot how sharp milk teeth are.
- Dog food is about the smelliest substance on the planet (excepting Saddam after three days in the hole, subsisting on Mars bars and hot dogs).
- Anything that hangs is a toy or subject to chewing. Usually late at night.

While my patience is being tried big time, I'm still glad I went and got her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Saddam: The Fallout...
Pity the democraps and the press! They are beside themselves with anger and absolutely stunned that our "idiot", "selected" President has won a major victory, both on the battlefield and in the eyes of the planet. "

So incredibly pissed off are they, that I have heard the following things in the last few days:

1. According to eight of nine (count 'em) morons running for the democrap nomination to be GW's whipping boy next November (Joe Lieberman is noteworthy for his absence from this list), the capture of Saddam Hussein will either increase the violence against American troops in Iraq or increase the number of terrorist attacks against Americans worldwide. Various explanations are given as to why: we humiliated Saddam, bin Laden is still out there somewhere, the French and Germans still don't approve, Howard Dean and John Kerry said so, because the earth is banana-shaped. The message is always the same: "this is a good thing, but..."

Watch all of these people suggest that more body bags full of Americans is the reward we will reap, that all of this could have been done differently (i.e. have the French, Germans and Russians on board) if they had been in charge or that having Saddam in the bag makes the world MORE dangerous.

When you lose your argument on truth, facts and logic, resort to hysteria, deceit and castigation. Typical.

2. In the matter of (their) opinion, Iraqis should have been able to overthrow Saddam on their own (given time) and trusted to do the right thing with their country afterwards, can no longer be trusted to try the former-dictator-cum-mole "fairly' because they will let their anger and thirst for revenge get the better of them. Damn right, Skippy! All the more reason to LET them do it. Amazing how the Left is already talking about Saddam's rights when estimates put 500,000 in mass graves, thousands of Iraqis were tortured and robbed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (i.e. in Iraq). Why is it that a brutal dictator can dispose of fairness when he holds a nation by the throat, but he must be given consideration when HE'S facing the gallows? Logic warp time --- the guilty should be protected and the innocent take their chances.

3. Bush should not use this victory to his own "political advantage". Hmmm...we know a democrat (small 'd' intentional) would NEVER do that. To do so would "question the patriotism" of his opposition.

4. The U.N. is still relevant to this whole Iraq process thing...Somehow...

5. We have changed nothing, except to put ourselves in the Saddam's place.

Now you tell me, who REALLY lives in a 8' x 10' rathole denying reality?

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Saddam is Captured!
Woke up to the news this morning that Public Enemy Numero Uno in Iraq was captured by Special Forces this morning in the city of Tikrit, hiding in a farmhouse surrounded by tons of money. Although armed, said miscreant Hussein did not offer any resistance. God Bless the US Army, President Bush and the Iraqi people, who can now be expected to take out their own trash.

One down and one to go....

Saddam's capture, of course, is something to celebrate. Not only is it a victory for freedom-loving people everywhere, it is a victory for the whole of civilization. One less dictator, one less psychopath with the full resources of a virtual slave state behind him. Howard Dean, John Kery, Hilary Clinton, et. al., should learn the lesson and take it to heart --- the lesson is that freedom triumphs over despotism, always, even "benevolent" despotism. Saddam Hussein's regime didn't even pretend to be benevolent.

Now, for Usama bin Laden. I have a theory that the US government knows all or any of the following:

1) Where bin Laden is/was hiding.
2) That bin Laden is dead.
3) The exact cave where his rotting corpse lies festering under several tons of rubble.

I base this belief on the fact that no one has come forward (that we know of) to collect the $25 million price tag on his head. Even dedicated Mujaheddin like money, you know. I season this belief with the fact that we never see bin Laden anymore, the only hints that he might still be kicking are audio and video tapes, of poor quality and dubious origin, being broadcast on Al-Jazeera, often months after the events they relate to have taken place. Usama is no longer a hero, he's a trademark --- like Colonel Sanders. We know Colonel Sanders existed once, but no one sees him anymore. He's a marketing campaign, a symbol denoting "tradition and trust". Although I can't see anyone making a rational decision to buy what he's selling. You have to be irrational to be a Muslim suicide bomber.

Do not be surprised if in the very near future (say, September perhaps) if the Presidential race between Bush and whichever neo-Socialist liar gets the democratic nomination should tighten uncomfortably if the pictures of Usama's body, or Usama himself, suddenly appear on your television screen. This ammo is being held in reserve until it is needed.

In the meantime, let's all celebrate. I have a feeling Saddam is about to be invited to a necktie party. I'll buy the beer.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Election 2004: What the Fuck is Wrong with these people?
Pity Joe Lieberman. The man once referred to as "The Conscience of the Senate" has been tossed to the wolves by his political brethren, cast into the wilderness to die a lonely death from cold and hunger. Joe would do well to remember the old adage about sleeping with dogs --- sometimes you wake up with rabies. Fleas are a minor inconvenience.

Joe once compromised his principles for a shot at the Big Time and hitched his wagon to the Clinton Machine via Al Gore. Now Gore, who once said that Lieberman would make a terrific President if the opportunity arose, has gone and given his endorsement to Howard Dean. How sad, rejected and thoroughly used Joe must feel now. I feel sorry for him because he is genuinely a good man who just made some mistakes. We all do that when tempted. If I were Joe now I would try to rinse the filth off with Brillo and try to regain some measure of self respect.

Dean, in the meantime, continues to be obnoxious and Hitler-esque in his pronouncements and his behavior. He has nothing really important to say except that "I'm not Bush, Dammit", and the only reason I still watch him is because I'm waiting for him to bust a blood vessel during one of his tirades.

There was an interesting observation made about Dean the other night on "Special Report with Brit Hume" by Jeff Birnbaum. The subject was John Kerry's assertion that Dean "flip-flops", i.e. changes his positions to suit the political mood (Duh!), as if Kerry never did. Brit trotted out various quotes from Dean proving that he does, indeed, change positions more often than some people change their sheets. It was then that Birnbaum dropped his bomb, and it was so subtle as to have probably been missed by most folks. Birnbaum explained the phenomena of Dean and the willingness of democrats (small 'd' intentional) to forgive his, ahem, dissembling ways, because he (paraphrase) "exhibits some sort of fight".

I see. It's okay to lie, to change principles, to change positions as long as one seems to be "fighting". Fighting for what is still an open question, but it reinforces an axiom about democrat party politics that is as old as mankind itself: these people do not care as long as they win, or at least seem to be winning.

As George Bush, Senior once said, "Character counts". Apparently not if you're a democrat.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

RIP Free Speech...
The Supreme Court of the United States has just decided today that the Shay's-Meehan bill passed by Congress prior to the last election cycle is constitutionally sound. Or most of it, anyway. For those of you who do not know what I'm talking about, this is John McCain's Campaign Finance Reform mantra. Know now that you, the voting public, have absolutely no voice in your own Government anymore unless you have a stack of money and a tax-emempt foundation status. Allow me to trot out an old essay I once wrote on this thing, and tell me this isn't the end of civilization as we know it (or at least the beginning of the end);

That 'giant sucking sound' you hear is not, as Ross Perot once warned us, the sound of American jobs being 'relocated' to Mexico. It is not, as you might well believe, Monica Lewinsky making her way through every married elected official in Washington D.C. It's not even remotely related to the sound French lips make when they disengage themselves from Saddam Hussein's nether regions. That sound you hear is both political parties gathering as much cash as they possibly can before their self-imposed limit on Campaign funds begins November, 6th. A date, interestingly enough, which occurs AFTER the next election.

Campaign Finance Reform (hereafter, CFR) they call it. Insiders refer to it as "Shays-Meehan". I will refer to it as unconstitutional crap, a waste of paper, a waste of time, and an insult to the intelligence of the above-average person (the average person wouldn't know what we're talking about). It reforms NOTHING, except the way in which incumbents go about keeping their jobs and political power. First and foremost let's bear in mind that due to some (maybe even most) of the provisions contained in this little gem restricting political activities by independent organizations (like NOW, NRA, NARAL, etc), this bill will likely get struck down on Constitutional review. However, if you thought the idea behind this most holy legislation was to get 'the money and the special interests out of politics' you are seriously demented. The purpose of this bill is to make your friendly neighborhood politico more secure in his fortress of ignorance, unassailable by challengers from 'outside the system'. This is more of a tenure-for-elected-officials kind of thing.

What Shays-Meehan does accomplish is to make a successful challenge to an incumbent almost impossible. It restricts free speech by preventing a challenger, or even an interested party, in saying anything negative about a candidate (or even positive) within 60 days of an election. So, you have to make your points up front, way up front, and hope people remember. Since the average American has an attention span measured in MPH, this is almost a hopeless mission if you're challenging an incumbent. They simply will not remember that you pointed out what Congressman So-and-So did and said five months ago. If you need a reminder of just how short some people's memories are you only need to see that Gary Condit is running for re-election, and that somehow, someway, somebody gave him money to do so. I suggest a real reform that would state that anyone implicated in the disappearance of a young girl, who refuses to talk to the police about it and admits lying when he said he had nothing to do with her, NOT be permitted to hold ANY office whatsoever.

If you want to see REAL CFR then we must look at how political campaigns are run and how the politicians go about the business of gaining enough votes to get into or stay in office. I have a few thoughts, naturally, on the subject.

For better or worse, a political campaign these days resembles the Miss America pageant more than it does a serious debate on issues that might matter to voters. We are subjected to pretty boys and girls who have been taught to smile even when they are reciting the same watered-down, incomprehensible, full-of-bullshit speech 12 times a day. We are fed a steady diet of 30-minute infomercials that pass for televised debate in a format that has been called 'the Town Meeting'. This is significant for two reasons; 1) to give people the impression that there is a participatory element to the whole charade, and 2) it just sounds so damn folksy and American. In fact, it's two pounds of folderol for the price of one. Really what is going on is that both (or more) candidates already know what questions will be asked (the press is complicit in this nonsense) and they have their stock answers prepared long in advance. The point of the whole thing is to leave some kind of image in the public eye, one that elevates the candidate and makes his opponent look bad. Think of Al Gore rolling his eyes and sighing a lot, or wearing too much make up, and you'll see what I mean. Everyone (i.e. the media) said Bush won the debates because of it (actually, I thought at least one of them was a toss up). CFR as an instrument meant to clean up politics will actually have the opposite effect - people who do not fear losing their jobs, and who are immune to honest criticism and public audit of their activities will not look out for the public's interest. They will, instead, secure their own interests.

If you want to talk about major CFR, then we don't necessarily have to talk about the money, per se, but maybe we DO have to talk about process. The process in question has to do with how the government receives cash and how it dispenses it. The two parties are set up along diametrically-opposed lines of thought on this issue; democrats take money and re-distribute it to those that will vote for them based on the fact that they're (one or more of the following); lazy, stupid, poor, emotional, demented, brain damaged, black, Hispanic, female, gay, crippled, or filthy rich and irrationally guilty.

Republicans, on the other hand, try to get people to vote for them based on their opposition to giving away taxpayer's money to any of the above groups. However, Republicans will be very glad to give your money away to groups who instead support (one or more of the following); Pro-life positions, Second Amendment Rights, repeal of all welfare laws, more defense spending, eliminating one or more Federal programs/departments, tax reductions or reduction of Federal red tape in all it's forms.
Both parties will eagerly fall all over themselves to pay huge amounts of other people's money to farmers for planting unprofitable crops or ethanol, which doesn't provide enough energy to pull a greasy piece of string from a prostitutes backside.

Now, we can debate the pro's and con's of both party's positions and actions, but we won't. I mentioned all of that stuff because a point needs to be made about how the government operates; it no longer functions along Constitutional, legally (or even rationally) defined ways anymore. It instead caters to whatever agenda best suits the individual ideologies of either one, and they will do anything to ensure that their ideas win. It is no longer about running a Republic. It is no longer a question of 'doing what's best for the country', it is now a matter of pushing narrowly-defined ideological matters and advancing the interests of narrow-minded constituencies, and being in a position to reap the benefits that derive from such activity. Benefits like job security, money, stature, job offers after leaving office, etc. I can't tell you just how many ex-politicians are on the Boards of Directors of many of the country's Fortune 500. I would bet that number is in the thousands.

If one really wanted to reform Campaign Finance, you have to reform the Campaign. The Campaign consists of pushing your narrow ideology and interests (see above) so that people with short attention spans (and shorter IQ's) begin thinking the "right" way. That is, your way. This requires a media blitz, which entails lots of TV time, which ain't cheap. It requires lots of really colorful and shiny stuff, like buttons, posters, etc. It requires a team of writers for your speeches and catchy slogans, both of which are short and use small words so as not to further confuse your already confused potential voter. It requires flying all over the place to get the most exposure (in the media) you possibly can while you pander to whatever civic organization or labor union your "event co-ordinator" arranged for that day. After all, one must go see what his/her 'constituents (i.e. suckers who keep voting for me) are up to and what they have to say. Add in all the organizational costs and employees, catering, paper, pens, and paper clips and, well, it gets rather expensive.

It's amazing just how expensive it gets when you run unopposed, too. Wonder how that happens? Evidently, it happens a lot. Oh, and lets not forget that any unused portion of this election cycle's war chest can be used for the next cycle's activity. Unless, of course, you plan to retire from Congress, in which case, you get to keep it.

The whole system of governmental operations must be changed. I recommend a significant, meaningful change, one that doesn't require that a candidate raise or spend any money whatsoever to have his/her views made public. Want to hear it? It's called the National Referendum. What is a referendum, you ask? It's what every other Democracy (or semblance thereof) on the planet has when an important decision needs to be made. One too important to be left to politicians, that is. In a referendum, an issue is put before the voters and they vote yes or no on it, the same day, with all parties involved merely staking out their positions. The voters decide the issue, not the politicos. I'll bet that if we had a system of national referendums in place we would have none of the following things: gun control laws, the IRS, the Income Tax, Abortion, Death Row (all the guilty would have been fried already), Department of Education (two lies for the price of one), the EPA, half the Federal Government (except the Post Office), and dead/recovering from rape/molested/missing interns. Why, you ask? Because the politicians would be cut out of the process. There was always a fear of “mob rule” in this country, of the sort practiced in Europe. This is why our Framers set up a “representational Republic” and not a true, direct democracy. The referendums would have to have certain safeguards put in place; neither party could harass voters outside the polling places (as they do now), or harangue the great, unwashed massed with rhetoric; they would have to state facts – verifiable facts. This would, of course, assume an independent press, without the stain of political correctness.

This is exactly why you will never, ever see anything slightly resembling a referendum on a national scale in the United States. We see ballot initiatives locally, but never nationwide. The power structure in place (including the press) now can cope with limited challenge to its authority, but not one that threatens them on a continental basis. Since we can't reform the way we vote, the pols will make sure they instead reform the way in which we pay for the present system.

The people of this country should be damn mad about what has been done in our name. This is assuming most of them even give a damn about what's happened, which is a pretty big 'if'. There's nothing wrong with politicians receiving campaign money from any citizen or group that has point of view to express. That's fine, provided the politician in question also believes in the same things, and there is nothing wrong with supporting advocacy with cash, provided everything is legal and above board. Most people would be pretty satisfied with that kind of situation. The politicians, however, would not be satisfied. Money equals influence, which equals power. They want more money for more power and they want to be held less accountable for it. That's the whole purpose of Shays-Meehan. Don't buy the BS about this bill being a 'reform' in the way most people think of reform.

I propose that instead of sucking up every dollar of legal money they can before their operations move out of the public spotlight, I suggest the Congress go and address some of the very serious problems that became obvious in the Presidential election of 2000. Maybe then, we wouldn't need campaign finance reform. I list them, in no particular order;

1. Illiteracy is obviously rampant in some parts of the country. Voters who cannot follow instructions, most of them posted in every conceivable, viewable space, and in the voting booth itself, cannot be counted on to make decisions, nor should they be trusted to make any. Ignorance has consequences, just ask Al Gore.

2. Democrats in Missouri reversed their long-time strategy and got live voters to vote for a dead man in Mel Carnahan. Since Mr. Carnahan couldn’t accept the office, his wife graciously did, despite the fact that the woman doesn’t seem to be able to muster enough intellectual firepower to even burn calories. Since when did political office become something that could be bequeathed to the survivors of the dead, like the family farm or the good silverware? Didn’t the dynastic, divine right sort of stuff go out with the Enlightenment? Why was there no challenge to any of this? Could it have been that Mrs. Carnahan was a recent widow, female and in a democratic state that falls over each other in a bid to remove the stain of segregation and discrimination? Maybe, maybe not. Still, the whole thing stinks to high heaven. But it’s okay; Daschle and Gephardt will tell her what to do, say and more importantly, how to vote. I wonder where the press was on this one?

3. The press, and organizations connected to them, should stop reporting election results until the election is actually over. The need, real or perceived, of having to announce results before they are official is detrimental. Florida was a case in point; a major portion of the state, the Conservative portion (coincidence?) is in a different time zone than the rest, a full one hour behind. The early announcements may have depressed turnout in that region. If voting is such a privilege, a sacred duty, does it not make sense that maybe we should give the voters the chance to invoke that privilege and perform that task, rather than discourage them by letting them think their man has no chance? I understand that the networks have time to fill, but I think most people would have been happy with re-runs of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? And could have waited until the next day to find out who their new President was/is/could be.

4. Vote fraud is rampant; one city in Pennsylvania (I believe Philadelphia) had something like 104% of its eligible voters show up to vote. The number is ridiculous for two reasons, one obvious and the other being that a goodly number of people are unable or unwilling to show up at the polls, even in the best of times. This should be investigated, thoroughly. It won’t, however.

5. The courts are not designed, nor were they intended, to decide the issue like they were forced to. The fact that courts were involved is evidence of two things; a) the democratic belief that if a court says that something is so, it must be, and b) the whole process was obviously fishy. Gore should be ashamed of himself for carrying on such a tantrum (which definitely hurt the country).

6. The threat of riots (never stated, but definitely implied by the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton) was made if the blacks in this country didn’t get their man. I believe both Revs. should be tried for treason. This is not Zimbabwe or some other third-world cesspool where that kind of threat is the norm. If blacks in this country want to riot, let them, as they’ll only burn down their own neighborhoods and destroy their own property. Then let them live in even worse squalor than they do until they can learn to be civilized. Notice that neither Reverend is out threatening riots over the fact that the mass illiteracy rampant in their “communities” contributed to the fiasco in the first place. P.S. – Someone should tell the Reverends just what constitutes “disenfranchised”.

7. John McCain is not a man of integrity or conscious, and should not be heralded as such. His fame lay in the fact that he bucked the system within the Republican ranks, and he felt the press adulation he received would allow him to engage in what was once called “dirty tricks” of the sort that got Nixon in such hot water. The primaries were a McCain slimefest, with the nasty phone messages, vote tampering and name-calling. Mr. McCain, a proponent of this CFR stuff is still pissed that he lost to Bush. This kind of thing is his way of saying “Fuck you, Rich Boy.”

8. The practice of allowing cross-party voting during primaries should be halted. It’s nothing more than a way to get the real competition out of the way before the real show begins. Why one would want Republicans voting in a democratic primary and vice-versa, as a matter of logic, is beyond me. The reason it really exists is to skew the primary vote.

There can be no CFR until we reform the way we vote. Until we have fair elections, which have literate, interested people participating in them, and we the public have full confidence in the outcomes, then all Shays-Mehan has accomplished will be to put a new prom dress on the same old pig. We’re told that money is the issue in politics; there’s too much of it, being passed by people with our worst interests at heart, being used to bribe your local politico into doing something he normally wouldn’t, just to ensure his survival. That is not what has happened. Your Congress-critter takes the money because he can, and because you don’t know what he does with it, or what he thinks about the issue he was just sold. That happens because you are disinterested and too ignorant, most of the time, to notice it.

What’s needed is a stricter system of accountability -- referendums, reporting and a posting somewhere (thanks Internet!) of what your local politician does and says, and more importantly, how he/she actually votes on an issue. Turning on the kitchen light always scatters the roaches. It would have the same effect here. Then you punish the miscreants with either criminal charges or loss of office. That’s how you reform campaign finance – you reform the campaigners.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Found a really cool site...
If anyone actually pays attention to this thing, they might want to check out Venomous Kate at I like her style...
John Lennon is still critically dead...
Today was the 22nd anniversary of the execution of John Lennon. Being a major Beatles fan, I would have at one time worn a black armband today in his memory. The man is rightly remembered as a giant of the music industry and a true artist.

However, I've been rethinking that true giant and artist thing a bit today. Of course, I took out my Beatles CD's and, of course, I listened to Lennon's own recordings as well. Then it struck me, as it never struck me before --- the differences, that is.

When one listens to the Beatles all you hear is great music. If you listen to all of their individual stuff it soon becomes clear --- these guys were a lot better together than they were separately. Except for George Harrison, who actually got better without the Beatles (I highly recommend All Things Must Pass). Ringo, of course, just got worse. Too bad, because he was an idol of mine, being a drummer and all that.

Listening to Lennon today I was struck at the blandness of the tunes. With the exception of the Double Fantasy album, I no longer see what all the fuss was about. Maybe it's just my age and changing tastes, but Lennon, on his own, was a mediocre songster. McCartney went on to be more prolific, but his stuff seems industrialized in the sense that all the man has done is crank out tunes since the early 70's, and most of them, frankly, suck. I submit for your evaluation such tunes as "Let 'Em In", "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey", "Ebony and Ivory". Sure, Paul managed a few good ones in his time, but not enough to warrant a knighthood for it.

It soon struck me, and it never occurred to me before, just what a genius George Martin (the Beatles' producer) really is/was. It now becomes apparent that the Beatles, individually, were talented men, but they required someone to pull it all together for them in order to become the successes they were. I raise a glass to George Martin.

Lennon's celebrity now seems to me to be more and more related to his political views than it actually did his music. While I mourn that the Beatles will never be together again (what with two of them dead and all) I figure this is the last time I will hold a do-it-yourself state funeral for John Lennon. Like George Harrison said, All things Must Pass.
Still No Puppies...
Hmmm...Perhaps this thing isn't reaching quite as many people as I thought it would...Maybe I should enter a bank fully armed and prepared to shoot hostages. Maybe then I'll get some attention.

All kidding aside, if you did happen to find this blog and you do know of any puppies that are being given away, shout it out to me, please? The e-mail address is Thank you, whoever you might be.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Visceral Politics
Turkeygate, WMD-gate, Patriot Act-gate, Enron-gate, Plume-gate. I can add about 50 others to the list, but the fact remains that liberals cannot see past their own politics (which are like religion to them) and realize that the more they complain, the more they nitpick, the dumber they sound.

Does it make a difference if G.W. got the G.I.'s out of bed at 6 a.m. to eat turkey? Nope. The important thing is that he went to share Thanksgiving with them. He showed them his appreciation of for what they have done and reinforced the message that they have not been forgotten and that they are loved by a grateful nation. That his visit was timed to coincide with the morning newscast is just politics --- tell me Bill Clinton wouldn't have done the same thing? Apparently, Hilary!@ took her opportunity to do so in Afghanistan.

The issue is visceral and reflexive hate. For all the talk of tolerance, understanding, peace, bi-partisanship, etc, etc, your typical democrat cannot get him/herself out of the rut of adding politics to everything they do, no matter how trivial or insane. It's the residue of Leninism in which everything must be viewed through politically-tinted lenses, and which sees it's opposition not as something to be competed against but as something which must be destroyed by all means within reach. Socialism/Communism was always a jealous god and the current crop of democratic (small 'd' intentional) politicians we have today were all well schooled in Lenin.

Be objective for about five seconds and think about it: John Kerry can talk about how G.W. "fucked up" Iraq, as if a three-week conquest of the country and the dismemberment of a dictator's regime was a mistake. People can compare John Ashcroft armed with the Patriot Act to Heinrich Himmler armed with a "Night and Fog Decree" and ignore the lack of evidence for their claims that we're headed the way of Nazi Germany.

Are they engaging in reasoned discourse or are they throwing a tantrum? Never doubt for a second that it had it been one of their own that had invaded Iraq, one of their own who had the power bestowed by the Patriot Act, that all you would hear is silence from your typical liberal. The issue is hate -- they hate Bush and they hate Ashcroft and the more successful this administration is politically, economically, militarily, the more they hate them.

It would be funny if it wasn't soooo sad.....
The Twenty Most Annoying Liberals Are...
New post I caught on this morning about RightWing Magazine's newest "most Annoying List". Catch it here at

I'd like to add a few more candidates, if I can:
1. Susan Estrich - Being Michael Dukakis' campaign manager does NOT make you an expert on Politics.
2. Katie Couric - Cute cannot hide ignorant.
3. Jesse Jackson - Like Jason you keep coming back no matter what is done to you. Your continued presence can only be explained by the presence of so many idiots in your "movement".
4. Charles Barron - We've seen this act before. It was called the "Al Sharpton Show" and New Yorkers have had enough snake oil, thank you.
5. Katrina Van de Heuven - Sex sells, doesn't it? However, your looks, bedroom eyes and apparent sophistication cannot hide the fact that your opinions often remind me of something I occasionally step on in the gutter.
6. PETA - if we're not supposed to eat animals then why are they made of meat? P.S. Got brains?
7. Howard Dean - Now you can see why Hitler was a such a hit in Germany. Apparently, all you have to do is scream a lot, point fingers and appeal to the lowest-common-denominator within your audience and you too can create a political phenom.
8. John Kerry - Yes, we know you served in Vietnam, stick a sock in it already. Get ready for retirement, Senator.
9. Al Gore - Al who? What's that noise? Is there a mosquito in the room?
10. Mike Farrell - Business has been slow since M*A*S*H went off the air, huh? By the way, I liked Trapper John better.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Echoes of the Day of Infamy...
Sixty-two years ago today, the United States was propelled into World War II by a sneak attack upon it's naval base at Pearl Harbor. Once again we pause to remember the dead, over 2,000 young lives sacrificed at the outset of a war that would eventually kill millions, and this is as it should be. Loss of life, whether accidental or by design, should always be remembered. We would be less than human if we didn't take the time to remember those that have passed, regardless of circumstances.

I'm sure the web will full of requiems for the Pearl Harbor dead --- things like this lend themselves to constant reflection about how they came to pass, what came to pass and how such tragedies can be prevented in the future. Some of these blogs and such will be full of fury for what many consider a "cowardly act" and others will try to stress understanding, for both sides, in an effort to promote some "can't-we-just-all-get-along" philosophy.

Many will draw paralells between the events of sixty-two years ago and our own day, and while such things are always useful, they tend to be quite superficial as well. People will point to the nature of the attacks, the unpreparedness of the victims and the government, and the anguish and agony of the survivors and their loved ones. I will draw some parallels here too, but I hope that perhaps I might break some new ground for my readers, maybe make them think about stuff they never thought of before. I certainly will not take any credit for what I write here because it has all been written before in other places. Perhaps I just might put a different perspective on it.

I'm a student of history. By that I mean the continuing saga of mankind, warts and all. I'm not one of those that studies Patton's campaigns, for example, from the American point of view and then call himself "informed". The other side has a tale to tell too. Both sides will exaggerate, of course, but in the final event, the side that was victorious will have their point of view held up as the sole version of truth --- with all the dubious spin put upon it in order to justify the actions of an individual, a tribe or a government.

Sixty-two years ago Japan found itself in a very unusual position --- it had emerged from a self-imposed exile to find that it was a backwards nation and society compared to the world as a whole, or at least the parts of the world that counted at the time: Europe and America. Looking across the Sea of Japan at a China, once the paramount example of civilization in Asia, the Japanese could see that if they were unable to defend their islands, their people and their way of life, they would become the next China, a rotting carcass being piced apart by foreign vultures. Japan changed itself from an insular, island people living in a feudal society into a world power litterally overnight. It did so by embracing the very methods and technology that it had first dreaded and found distasteful, or at least it adopted the technical and physical aspects that it believed were necessary to create a world power --- a strong army, a first-rate fleet, humming factories and overseas colonies.

It had to do this, however, with no indigenous raw materials such as were available in Europe or America. The only way Japan could get these things was by diplomacy or outright conquest. Conquest appealed more to the natural instincts of the Japanese warrior ethos, and thus, became their means of achieving modernity. Every impulse, every diplomatic initiative, every economic policy was tied to the idea of Japanese domination of land, resources and, ultimately, other people. Nothing was done within the Japan of 1900-1945 that was not subordinated to the belief that Japan was a great nation and could be greater still, and following the example of the Europeans, that Japan was destined to dominate all it came into contact with. It thought in these terms as an extention of national survival. When that survival was threatened by an embargo of oil and raw materials by Europe and the United States, the Japanese reacted with what they thought was perfect rationality, but which in hindsight, turned out not to be so great.

And it happened this way because Japan had only superficially absorbed Western culture. It took the icons and left behind the most important things; freedom, consentual covernment and the notion of the worth of every individual. Yes, Japan held elections, and people were well-fed and educated, but this was a facade, a veneer, if you will. Beneath it all, Japanese culture was still rigorous, stratified and dominated by the few. Japan paid for that inability to absorb the lessons of what it sought to emulate with two atomic explosions and millions of dead.

In today's world, a similar situation exists between the Western world and the nations under the sway of Islam. Arabs and Muslims the world over see the West as an example to be copied, to be embraced. They love the things that we take for granted: hospitals, television, airline etravel, running water, plentiful food. The problem they have with Westerners and western culture, much as the Japanese did, is that Western culture comes with things attached to it that they are not prepared for or misunderstand. As a result, atempts at modernization typically fail or maybe just achieve enough of a change to make it look like something one could charitably call "Western" or "modern". Islam too is another of those rigidly stratified societies that does not believe in the uniqueness and worth of the individual, does not take the questioning of it's authority or beliefs all that well, and which also has a long history of a warrior tradition.

Islam seems destined to repeat the mistakes of the Japanese. In the end, Japan was leveled, devestated and ultimately occupied by those she made no effort to truly understand, but whose ways they wanted so desperately to achieve for themselves. Today, American soldiers occupy Iraq, Afghanistan and are working around the clock to prevent Pearl Harbor episdes like the ones in New York or Washington, D.C. Part of this will be done with military force, just as it was done in 1941-45. Most of it will be accomplished by personal contacts between Americans and Iraqis or the Birtish and the Afghans. People thrust into a situation where they must live side-by-side, co-operate for the common good, often rub off on each other. In the end, it was just such contact that turned Japan into a true democracy and kept Germany from unleashing another war of holocaust in Europe. It will happen again in the Middle East.

This is the most important paralell we can draw from Pearl Harbor --- in the end, nations may clash, ideologies may collide, but human beings ultimately dictate the outcome after the shooting stops, and they do so on a one-to-one level that diplomacy and government can never emulate. It is a form of contact that transcends religion and ideology. The simple expression of a common humanity.

I salute the memory of those that died sixty-two years ago, both American and Japanese. You died fighting for your respective countries and for the things that you believed in. However, I applaud the fruits of the last fifty-eight years of friendship whose seeds were planted in blood.

I would love to see the same thing happen with Islam, I just pray that millions don't have to die before it happens.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Snow, snow and More Snow!
It's snowing something fierce here in the People's Repbulic of New York -- by my guestimation we have about 7" on the ground now, forecasts are for up to another foot of snow by tomorrow night.

Four things about snow:
1. I love the shit out of it -- Snow seems to have a quieting effect on everything around it. If you've ever been walking through deserted streets with a light snowfall coming down, you know what I mean. Sound seems muffled, nerves seemed smoothed over. The quiet is both eerie and relaxing at the same time. If it were up to me, we'd have snow falling perpetually, just for the peace and quiet it seems to bring.

2. It's a pain in the ass -- Shovelling, scraping, slipping, sliding, etc., etc. Snow, for all of it's other soothing qualities is about as annoying as a Clinton proclaiming their innocence. It's a chore to get rid of it, especially if you have bad back like I do, and no matter what you do to get it out of the way, Nature conspires to blow it back over whatever you just cleared. If it doesn't freeze, get rained on (creating slush -- third nastiest substance know to man; the other two are snot and that black, crusty stuff you find under the ketchup bottlecap), and it can never be totally eliminated except by evaporation -- meaning warmer weather.

3. The obligatory phone call -- from both my landlord and the condo board, reminding me to clear the snow from my terrace, lest it collapse under the weight. Gee, you pay maintenance fees you'd think someone would do it for ya. I guess it's just the price we pay. Yes, I'm fully aware that the weight of a foot of snow could have serious effects upon the structural integrity of this cardboard hovel, thank you. Now that I've just cleared the FIRST snowfall, I'll prepare myself for the SECOND. A never ending job, it seems.

4. Snowball fights -- self explanatory. Nothing like pelting your nephews with a cold, wet projectile.

Friday, December 05, 2003

John Ashcroft and the Fourth Reich?

For what seems like dog’s ages already, I’ve been hearing the plaintive wail of the permanently panty-bunched about how George W. Bush is turning the United States into a police state. These kinds of noises usually are made by people who still believe in the viability of real police states, like the Soviet Union, Communist China, the “people’s paradise” police state of Cuba and, more recently, the colossally autocratic, mega maniacal, murderous police state of Iraq. Now, when one considers that in the real police states mentioned above, one could be detained for “questioning” for no reason at all, where torture was a common method of extracting “confessions”, where no legal rights (as we would understand them) exist, I wonder what the heck they mean.

I’m sure no one has noticed mass executions or arrests in the United States recently. I mean, no one I know has come to me and said something along the lines of “hey, did you notice a lot of people are missing in the office today?”. There isn’t the samizdat floating around that people are just “disappearing”, or at least, none that I can detect. John Ashcroft has yet to issue his own version of the “Night and Fog Decree”.

Hmm, let’s see – just how much of a police state do we live in?

Well, to begin with, I would hardly call it a police state when I can travel anywhere I want to go without being, unreasonably, asked for identification. No one that I know has been stopped on a busy street or walked up to in a sidewalk cafĂ© and asked to present “your papers, please?” I can still read what I want. I have 90 channels of crap on cable television, all offering different kinds of expression and opinions on a wide variety of topics. As far as I know, newspapers and TV broadcasts are not being censored by the government (although they are being censored by the media, which often has a different political agenda than the government), unless of course, you count Geraldo not being able to jump into Iraq with a bunch of Green Berets as censorship.

I don’t believe that being asked to take your shoes off in an airport is objectionable – it’s a pain in the ass, but it’s a relatively minor irritation when one looks at the other side of the coin, which is airliners-cum-guided missiles.

We can still vote for whom we wish (appropos of there being no one to really vote for), even if both major parties either sound like each other on some issues, or automatically gainsay the other based on ideology. Californians have been able to get the chance to recall their Governor for being an idiot, you know, just like what happens in Cuba all the time. People are putting up web sites to egg Hilary on to run for President, which indicates that if G.W. is a despotic police state ruler, he’s a pretty bad one. In fact, the government does a better job of making sure I don’t come back from Mexico with more tequila than I’m allowed then it does of policing the borders of this police state of ours. What kind of police state is this is if I can’t bring back more than two bottles of liquor without a hassle but a million Mexicans a year can get in and take all the really good landscaping positions?

So, where is all this police state stuff happening? Because I don’t see it.

The hue and cry is over the U.S.A. Patriot Act, an act of legislation that was enacted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. The thrust of the Patriot Act is to make it easier for the government to chase, capture and prosecute terrorists, and to make it easier for intelligence agencies to co-operate and share information that has National Security importance. This was a necessary evil due to the fact that over the years since Vietnam and Watergate, Congress has done an outstanding job of hampering our Federal law enforcement and intelligence apparatus, usually for political reasons. The Patriot Act is intended to undo some of that damage (remember, the FBI couldn’t get a warrant to search Zacharias Massoui’s computer? That was because it would have been considered possible evidence of another crime he was involved in which was not related to the one for which the FBI originally got the warrant for).

Think about this for a second – if this was a true police state, don’t you think you would know it? Think about what kind of power G.W. and Ashcroft have over you right now, even without a U.S.A Patriot Act.

Bush sits at the head of a vast apparatus of police and intelligence agencies: FBI, CIA, INS/Border Patrol, ATF, Coast Guard, Treasury Department, Secret Service, NSA, National Reconnaissance Office (which runs a satellite network that can read the Surgeon General’s Warning off a pack of cigarettes from 200 miles up in space), the National Guard, National Park Police, Customs Service and a dozen other alphabet-soup agencies you never heard of, and probably never will. He also commands the most effective, technologically advanced military force the word has ever seen. That’s just for a start. Ever think about having your mail tracked, or maybe even read? Ninety percent of your life runs through the Post Office (which has it’s own police force, by the way), and if someone wanted to, not only could they read your incoming and outgoing mail without you knowing it, they could also collect a list of names and addresses of the people you correspond with. Guilt by association, perhaps? Sure, it might be impractical, but it is theoretically possible. Let’s not forget all those new federal Employees of the Federal Transportation Agency, who have the authority to open luggage and scan packages and ask you take your shoes off in the airport, and who have the authority to conduct a strip search if they feel like it, and have a plausible excuse for doing it.

What the Patriot Act does is redefine the concept of probable cause in the obtaining of search warrants, relaxes some of the evidentiary responsibilities of the government when dealing with national security issues in the prosecution of terrorists (like keeping sources and methods secret), and generally, makes it easier for the FBI to do their jobs. However, it’s not as if the government has carte blanche to do whatever it wants. While the requirements for obtaining warrants might be loosened, they still have to get one before they can go forward. That decision is still up to a judge – he still has the legal right to refuse one if he feels the cause doesn’t pass a smell test.

So, is the Patriot Act the first step in the evolution of the American police state? I doubt it, or I should say, I doubt it with regards to the current administration. I would be much more worried if, instead of Bush and Ashcroft, this kind of power was in the hands of a Clinton, Gore or Kennedy. We’ve already seen all three subvert the legal process for personal gain or to get back at their enemies. I would literally defecate if any of them ever got into the White House and had access to this kind of power.

But, the screaming retards that are making the most noise over the Patriot Act (on the Left of the political spectrum) are really hiding their true argument. Their objection to the Patriot Act is not that the power it gives Federal law enforcement would be abused (they want to retain that capability for themselves if they ever regain control of the government), but that it could be used in a wider range of nasty activities, most of which they support (even if only secretly). Primarily, however, their objection to it is that it is Bush and Ashcroft who have this authority. The Left so viscerally hates both men that it will stop at nothing to ensure that everything they touch or have access to must be shown in the least positive light.

Then again, I can see some other potential dangers (from a Leftist’s point of view) that might have them urinating in their pants. Let’s say, in the process of tracking down a terrorist or organized crime figure, the government, with a warrant granted under the Patriot Act, also finds out that the person in question was a pedophile and actively engaged in distributing and creating child pornography. The seriously-hard Left routinely dismisses such activity under the auspices of “personal preference” and “free speech”. God forbid, if, the government in investigating terrorism managed to read a dirty e-mail from a pedophile to a 10 year old and managed to get information on additional pedophiles. That would be an “invasion of privacy”, not something beneficial to society, but rather, a violation of a criminal’s rights. This is how they think, and this is what they’re afraid of – not that the Patriot Act might actually help catch a terrorist, but that it can be used to prosecute crimes or expose rotten behavior, which might be discovered incidentally.

And if you’re nutty enough to believe that the government might actually wait to get a warrant if danger was imminent, think again. Remember Predator? That was supposed to be this super-intrusive, electronic listening system that was designed to listen into phone calls, e-mails, television and radio signals, cell phones, etc., and which might have heard a piece of the 9/11 plotter’s plans. Well, Predator was emasculated by the Left as a violation of privacy rights under the 4th amendment. Apparently, discussing the hijacking of four airliners in order to use them as guided missiles is a Constitutionally protected right to a Leftist. Do you seriously think that if Predator caught a whiff of something terrible that was about to happen, that the government would sit on it’s hands waiting to go through the legal niceties? Not after 9/11 they won’t. Do you think for a second that if the Government reacted to Predator information, which later turned out to be erroneous, that the American public would be amused or angry? Heck no, they want to know their Government is on the ball in this department, even if it was a false alarm. If anything, such an event would give people confidence in the government (which would be an event on par with the second coming of Christ), provided no one got killed by mistake. Now, what happens if the government listens to your phone conversations or monitors your e-mail, finds nothing wrong and thus, does nothing about it? No harm no foul? Would you even know it was done? This is what Predator was doing prior to 9/11, and no one knew anything until the French complained about it. So, what the heck is the deal?

The people who shout the loudest about a police state are those that would readily create one for their own benefit, and who have already excused police state tactics because one of their one was involved.

Anyone remember Waco? If there was ever an example of a police state run rampant, that was it. Makes you wonder just what David Koresh knew, and why they were so hot to get at him.
Initially, we were told that the raid was made by armed ATF agents storming the house with scaling ladders and battering rams to serve a search warrant. Whatever happened to knocking on the door? Apparently, Koresh had committed the mortal sin of having guns in his church – quite a lot of them, actually. What no one mentioned, or maybe they did only in passing, is that Koresh was a federally licensed firearms dealer. So, was it a cache of highly dangerous weapons to be used in a criminal enterprise or was it inventory?

To make matters worse, when the ATF agents storming the compound got their asses handed to them, another excuse was needed to get inside the house and arrest everyone. That excuse was provided by Janet Reno, to cover up the weak case against Koresh and the even weaker execution of the raid – there were children being sexually abused in that house. It was always “for the children” in the Clinton Administration. It was so urgent to get to the sexually abused children that the government conducted a 50-day siege of the compound. In the end, they had to burn the children in order to save them. That, my friends, is how a police state operates, and that is what a police state does – it harasses people, ultimately kills them, and then gives you 62 reasons why it had to be done, none of which would pass as logical, even at an idiot’s convention. Don’t even get me started on what the Clinton/Reno team did to Elian Gonzolez – using police state tactics to return a small boy to another police state

I don’t see Mr.Ashcroft burning down churches, barging into people’s homes with guns blazing, or arresting children found hiding in closets in order to curry favor with a dictator. The people who yell the loudest about Bush’s and Ashcroft’s intent, motives and the potential for abuse are not warning us about what this administration would do with this kind of power – they’re really warning us about what they would do with that kind of power.
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Thursday, December 04, 2003

Bush Wants New Moon Mission

Wow, Guantanamo Bay must really be filling up...

Seriously, a great idea. The country needs even more things to unite it and what could be more uniting than a trip back to the moon? Even after "we've been there and done that" there is still a sense of adventure.

NASA is still (rightly) licking it's wounds and needs to either do something productive or go the way of the dodo. International Spaces stations are pie-in-the-sky scenarios that do the country no good whatsoever. The Chinese are becoming major players in space exploration (with consequences for their nuclear program as well, and the Europeans have a growing lock on the aerospace industry (with the Arianne rocket).

I see no prpblem with spending money to go to the moon if at the end of the day it brings us closer together as a nation, presents American business and science with a challenge, and we get something better than Tang out of the deal afterwards. Remember, the last time we went to the moon it drove the country into a new era of high-speed computers, new materials, communications, etc. This sort of thing does have commercial and economic benefits.

Heck, makes more sense than spending money on printing voter-resitration forms in 62 different languages. Never know when you might need a form written in Bantu in Utah.


In yesterday's rant, I mistakenly dated the Battle of Poitier as having occurred in 718. The correct year is 732. While I may have been off by 14 years on the date, I think it does not diminish from my original point that Muslims were busy interrupting the (relative) peace of Europe way before Europeans (not Romans, that's a different animal) were disrupting the relative peace of Islam. Neither anything resembling a Christian Europe or a Muslim Middle East existed during the heyday of the Roman Empire. Feel free to nitpick if you wish....
Life in The People’s Republic…

I have a bone to pick with the Sanitation Department of the City of New York. Don’t get me wrong, I have known quite a few sanitation workers in my lifetime and have found most, that’s most, to be wonderful people, regular Joes, just like me. There is one Sanitation person, however, that I would like to meet in a dark alley one evening. I will not use the…ahem…gentleman’s name, because I have a feeling that he’s “just doing his job” and there was nothing personal in it, so I will not smear his potentially-good name here.

Here in the People’s Republic of New York, we labor under some of the strictest sanitation codes to be found anywhere in the country. There are two reasons for this; the City is perpetually short of cash and invents stupid rules constantly in order to fine people for doing that which they normally would, and second, because we have a lot of transplanted idiots here (who all seem to live in Manhattan) and who are “environmentally conscious”. Let me translate that term for you – in any other setting, and if they could get away with it, these people would be charter members of your local Communist collective.

The Greenie Meanines here decided that recycling one’s garbage would be a good thing. There are materials that can be reclaimed and reused and it helps alleviate the problems of overflowing landfills (which eventually become prime land for housing developments here in New York City). What this means is that the typical New Yorker must take pains to ensure that his/her trash is properly separated – white paper and colored paper go in separate bags, glass, plastic and aluminum in another, cardboard must be dissected and wrapped or tied with a certain grade of twine in order for the garbage men to collect it. Finally, all of this refuse must be put out either in a specially-marked can or placed by the curb in clear, plastic bags so that it might be easily inspected.

The labor involved, in my opinion, far outweigh the benefits.

We have a situation here where the squeaky wheel got the grease again. Folks who are “concerned” about landfills went ahead and got the politicians to pass legislation that addresses their pet peeve. Normally, this would be a good thing – government responding to the wants and needs of the governed. In this case, the same folks who want everyone else to recycle didn’t want to have to make the trip to the recycling center with all this trash, so by default, the Sanitation Department picks it up. In order for the Sanitation Department to save time, money and effort, you, the citizen (kulak), must do the job of “pre-processing” your trash. And if you don’t, you get fined. Government passing along its expenses to the taxpayer in one form or another is nothing new, but this is ridiculous.

Now, what on Earth did I do to deserve a fine, you ask? I committed the cardinal sin of not cutting up my Cheerios box before I stuffed it into a garbage bag. I further sinned in the eyes of the Sanitation Gods because said box was mixed in with “common, household trash” (as if I were also generating uncommon, industrial-strength trash, like toxic waste) and was placed at the curb in a WHITE plastic garbage bag, and not a clear one. Which seems to make no difference since the guy who wrote the ticket obviously had no trouble seeing a Cheerios box through it. For this, I must be fined $25.

Now $25 is not the end of the world and it isn’t as if I were about to retire on that money and desperately need it. The problem is how one goes about paying the fine. I cannot, apparently, just send a $25 check, be pardoned and sent forth to sin again. No, I must make an appearance at “Sanitation Court”.
Now, considering I only got the summons five (5) days ago, and the City has already seen fit to schedule me for an appearance in court, I’m quite pissed off. They took the opportunity to inconvenience me just in case I decided NOT to pay the fine. How nice of them!

Well, if this is a court, it’s a pretty poor excuse for one. To begin with, do we adhere to the same rules of evidence that prevail in a criminal case (technically, since I was fined for breaking the law, this IS a criminal case)? Where is the evidence that will prove my guilt or sustain my innocence? Well, last time I saw it, it was on the curb and then it was gone. Unless the guy who wrote the summons is keeping my garbage on file somewhere, I will assume that it has been placed in a landfill, incinerated or is still sitting and rotting in the back of a truck somewhere. We have no physical evidence that I have committed a crime.

But, you will say, the inspector who wrote the summons SAW my trash in such a sorry state, and presumably, so did the trash collectors. There are WITNESSES to my crime! Well, how many garbage bags a day do you think these guys see? Could they identify mine in a line-up? Did they dust for fingerprints and send for Quincy to gain forensic evidence? I doubt it, so how does an eyewitness account of the tragic saga of my garbage cut any ice here? Am I presumed innocent, until proven guilty? Well, no. I was given a summons, which arrived in the mail. I had no chance to confront my accuser, and there was no opportunity for him to correct me on the spot or save me from myself, so to speak. Besides, this is New York City, and if there’s a fine, pay it and shut up, what’s the big deal?

The Big Deal is that I have a problem with someone inspecting my garbage. People are going nuts about John Ashcroft and his plans for a national system of concentration camps and the Garbage Nazis are out here making sure I don’t throw garbage into the garbage, or at least, throw it into the right garbage. I did not vote for recycling, and there was no vote for it. I could give a rat’s ass about a full landfill – that’s what they’re for. I don’t care two turds that incinerators are polluting, stinky things – I live in New York, and if you’ve ever been trapped on a subway car here with a filthy, flea-infested, drunken vagrant with cheap, bourbon-induced diarrhea, then a smelly incinerator seems more like perfume.

These kinds of things take on a life of their own, and right now, while we separate paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and cardboard, we don’t take pains with fabrics, rubber, batteries, oils or chemicals. I’m sure if I threw a plastic bottle of paint thinner out with the “common household trash”, no one would notice, provided it was in the proper bag. It’s only a matter of time before coffee grounds will require their own separate pail (and only after someone has verified that you’ve used them at least twice), our pails will become color coded so that people who can’t read have no excuse for fucking up the trash, and finally, daily trash pick ups for individual kinds of trash; paper on Monday, cardboard on Tuesday, your Sanitation Summons on Wednesday.

The nitpicking regulations that one has to put up with here are bad enough – alternate side parking, no right turn on red (unless a sign tells you that you can), no left turns on certain streets between certain hours, and now, no smoking in bars, restaurants and public buildings, even outdoors. Do we have to put up with someone looking in our trash to make sure we don’t put a box of Cheerios out with “common household trash” when it belongs with shredded cardboard? The KGB probably never went through anyone’s trash with the vigor and ruthlessness that the sanitation inspectors here do.

At least in Soviet Russia you could EXPECT someone to be tearing through your garbage with a fine-toothed comb, but here, in America? Oh, I forgot, this is the People’s Republic of New York, and if there is a buck in it somehow, someone would probably go through your stool looking for undigested corn.

The only thing missing from Comrade Bloomberg’s modern New York is the hammer and sickle.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Youth-anasia might not be such a bad thing after all….
“Bush=Saddam”, the sign proclaimed. “No Blood for Oil” said yet another. One loses count when it comes to accounting for all the signs with swastikas on them, usually red-white-and-blue ones. “Your War” is another piece of wisdom that finds itself present at all the rallies. “Hands off MY Bush” (usually with an arrow pointing towards the crotch, in case you didn’t get the joke – these Leftists are soooo clever), is also popular. This is, in short, the bumper-sticker mentality of those who still cling to the notion that the Soviet Union was a noble enterprise, and that everything would be hunky-dory if we all learned to suspend reality.

Bumper-sticker mentality pretty much sums it up. Check out every slogan being waved from a placard at an anti-war protest (which still occur, by the way. I wonder why since the war is over?). What qualifies it as bumper-sticker wisdom can be summed up in the three basic lessons of general marketing: a) It’s short (three or four words, max), b) it’s cute (love them swastikas), c) after 5 seconds no one will think about it, they’ll just accept it. This pretty much describes, to a “T” the liberal mindset. We’ll use small “L” liberal because they really aren’t liberals at all. They just stole the appellation.

Anyway, check out this link to photos of anti-war protests from all over the world (compete with witty commentary, no less!-- and see what I mean. There seems to be a general belief, amongst liberals anyway, that if you’re outrageous enough, offensive enough, loud enough, and persistently stupid enough, you will get your way. If your desires have not been met, get louder, more obnoxious, and still more persistently stupid. If that doesn’t work, resort to violence and repeat. Through it all, do not forget your catchy slogans. It worked (they think) in the 1960’s and 70’s where the younger set believed that they a) got civil rights legislation passed, b) stopped a war in Vietnam, c) pulled down a President. They “spoke truth to power” and they got everything they wanted, and got high and laid while they were at it. The formula, apparently, worked.

The crowd that used to be rock-throwing hippies in the Summer of Love is now, unfortunately, in positions of power --- they’re parents, grandparents, politicians, academics, teachers, television hosts. They have passed on the “lessons” of their generation to their offspring; a bunch which, in general, gives hippies a good name. The latest generation of drug-taking slackers is even more unkempt, dirty, ignorant and lazy than their ideological forebears. There seems to be a penchant for baggy clothes, knit ski hats (even in summer heat), skateboards, “Shaggy” beards (like on Scooby-Doo), backpacks, combat boots and skinhead hairdos, even for the girls (I think they’re girls, anyway). Let’s not get started on the tattoos, and the body piercing. This is the latest incarnation of the Hitler Youth, only their message is not purity of the Aryan race, death to the Jews (Israel is a different story though, apparently it is possible to separate Israel from the Jews in their minds), and world conquest by military victory. Their views revolve around the idealism of “peace”, “justice”, and “rights”. Ask then to give a coherent definition of any of those things and what you will instead get is a reflexive recitation of the evils of American democracy.

The disease has entered it next, virulent stage --- the parents and grandparents hated the power structure, now their offspring hate the country and people that enabled the power structure. You can see the deconstructionist mechanism at work from here --- start with the government, then it’s ideals, and finally, it’s people. We’re in stage two right now and no one has a shot for this.

This new virulence needs to be stopped dead in its tracks. This is not, as many would argue, a bunch of kids exercising their constitutional rights. It is not “people of conscience” making their feelings known, and it certainly is not “peaceful protest of government policy”. Those things would be based upon logic, would not involve hooded rock and Molotov throwers, nor would they include in their numbers people who obviously are unable to objectively think on their own. The protests have nothing to do with peace and justice, they are a reflexive action intended to keep reality even further at bay. This generation of kids does not believe in sacrifice for principles (since they have none) in the same way as the young did in 1930-1960. The people of that era understood that nothing was free and that freedom often required the blood of those that would enjoy it, and so they went to fight Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Kruschev, Kim Il-sung, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot, or marched in the streets of Selma.

Actually, they have a warped concept of responsibility to begin with. In their convoluted logic, the United States is responsible for every evil ever perpetrated because we are: racist, sexist, exploitive, imperialist, majority white, rich, happy, well-fed, free. Well, if we were guilty of all these things (and we aren’t), don’t we have a responsibility to clean up the mess we made? Yes, you say? Only it shouldn’t be you doing the cleaning because you’re too busy studying “The History of Cannabis in Ancient Mesopotamia” at the moment? Oh, so other people’s children, treasure and effort should be expended to avoid inconveniencing you, maybe even keep you from getting killed or maimed? Just like your parents and grandparents did at Woodstock? Sat by and let others take on their responsibilities? Since you realize, even in a backhanded way, that you want no part of the war personally, that it’s better to just get it stopped, somehow, some way, before it fucks up your career plans and eats into your X-Box time?

Who the fuck do you think you are, you little maggots? People are sacrificing their limbs, their lives, their families and their futures to ensure that you have the right, and the security, to put Bush=Saddam on a piece of oaktag. Every one of you is a pious hypocrite, and since you do not know what either word means, I guess I will reflexively be castigated as a “hater”. Orwell once described the Two Minute Hate to us in graphic detail, here it is for all to see in full stereo and living color.

This is a crowd that eschews religion as a “social construct” and “destructive force” out of one side of its mouth and yet praises the “peaceful nature” of Islam to the hilt. I guess any religion is okay as long as it isn’t Christianity or Judaism. This is a bunch that believes that the concepts of historical guilt, and collective responsibility apply to all, except for them --- they can be excused because they’re “socially conscious”. This rabble believes that capitalism is an evil thing, which deprives people of their “dignity” and “rights” without once stopping to think that it also provides a job and sustenance, without which, there are no rights and their ain’t no dignity. This sea of mutated hippies will carry on for hours about the “rape of the environment” and leave behind them a sea of paper that was once protest flyers, power-bar wrappers, empty sports drink bottles, used condoms, broken glass, protests signs, burned and looted buildings, not to mention the vast amounts of feces, urine, cigarette butts, joint ends, and God knows what else in their shanty camps, or in the street.

The point is this; this is the generation that will come to power while I’m in my old age. They’re ignorant, they have no morality, they cannot think coherently, and all of their ideals can be summed up in three or four word phrases that make no sense. It’s scary to think what might become of me, and others like me, when confronted by the relentless stupidity, Pavlovian hate, and rancid effluvium of a bunch of spoiled, over-indulged, under-educated, ill-disciplined, aimless, shiftless, lazy, bastards.
I say that at the next protests, the police be allowed to open fire. I’ll even buy the bullets.