Monday, December 20, 2004

Separation of Church andc Logic...
Lots of sturm und drang this year about Nativity scenes and menorrahs, and I'll be damned if I know just what drives people to make such a stink over them.

Not only are some Americans (and you know who you are!) up in arms over religious displays, but the phenomena is spreading: in Italy, the Pope is decrying the destruction of Western Culture while Italian schoolchildren sing Christmas songs that don't even have the words "Christ" or "Jesus" in them anymore. They replace the offensive words with anything that rhymes, but which makes no sense in context.

In other parts of Europe, Christ has been dead for so long, it's doubtful that a second resurrection on television accompanied by a cash gift to every citizen on the continent will bring back anything resembling belief. Or maybe just tolerance.

And perhaps that's the point of this little screed. It's about tolerance, or the lack of it. We all make gargantuan efforts in or daily lives to be "inclusive", to be "fair", to be "inoffensive". I submit that when you try to do these things you very often wind up being uninclusive, unfair and very offensive. The reason being that once you have made an effort to bend to the will of a single dissenter, that dissenter makes it his or her life's work to ensuring you bend until you snap. Failure to continue bending will get you scorn, it will tar you witht he epithet of "hater" and eventually, gets you sued somewhere. The benders have become captive to the will of the bend-ees and simply for the sake of appearances.

Some will tell you that it's only right that we take into account the religious sensibilities of others who may not believe the same things we do. Granted, that's a valid point. By why is it that while I'm being religiously sensitive, the Muslim, the Jew, the Atheist, the Buddhist down the block, are not expected to return the courtesy? I single these religions out as an example, not to imply that I have an issue with them (well, except for Islam).

The argument is always framed as being one of tolerance for others. However, it's never about tolerance. It's about the imposition of personal tastes and group will upon a majority, in such a way that could never be done by the normal machinations of society (i.e. by law or government process), but by emotion. We've seen such manipulation of emotions in various aspects of American life before: the fight for Civil Rights, Affirmative Action, the War on Poverty, the Great Society and the New Deal. We've seen the Communists and Nazis manipulate fear, envy and ignorance for the sake of political power. In this day and age we see other fringes of society do the same thing. The only difference is now they're trading on embarrasment. Let's face it: in today's society it's embarrassing to be singled out as a racist, sexist or anti-Jew or any host of other politically correct no-nos. This is only right, but it's taken to extremes by a whole class of people whose only reason for living is to be offended. That's the real danger here; the permanently panty-bunched.
The argument is almost always couched in constitutional or legal terms, which is supposed to mask the true intent of the fly in the ointment, as if the flimsy smokescreen of "protecting everyone's rights" is supposed to cover the stench. The First Amendment is probably the most-frequently-abused section of the Constitution. That old anti-establishment clause is perverted way beyond it's meaning, or intent, to allow all sorts of stupid things to enter into the American landscape. When the first Congress wrote the words "Congress shall enact no law" they should have stopped right there. But in this case, a little application of common sense would get the very people who these sorts of things are aimed at a little angry, and thus, energized to defend their rights aganist those who see them rather as "anti-rights". The purpose of the Anti-Establishment clause was not to ban religion from public life, but rather to prevent one religion being set up as a prerequiste for the enjoyment of other rights in our society. It's a direct result of the formation of the Church of England under Henry VIII. In Henry's time, if you did not follow the King's Version of the religion, the state religion, you were hunted down, hounded, called a traitor for your divided loyalties, and ultimately, drawn and quartered in the Tower of London. Sort of like what happens in Iran. In Olde England, the keys to the Kingdom depended on bended knee to an institution perverted by a monarch for his own selfish ends. The Founders of this country wanted to make sure there were as few obstacles as possible to the enjoyment of personal liberties. The only things they asked in return was that succeeding generations be responsible and logical. Instead, there are those amongst us who have decided that the Anti-Establisment Clause actually bans religion form the public life, which it doesn't. How one is supposed to have Freedom of Religion while having his religious beliefs attacked in public is something I have never been able to wrap my tiny mind around. It also follows, of course, that the Anti-Establishment Clause also allows you to be free from professing any religious beliefs at all, and that's fine too. That's a personal choice (on I made after 12 years of Catholic schools), but it doesn't mean you have the right to ban religion, in any form, for the sake of your sensibilities to the detriment of other people's sensibilities. That, in effect, is communism. The wonderful thing abot living in a Republic like ours is that the will of the minority is protected, it's given an equal voice. It's when that voice begins to scream in high-pitched tones, like a herd of stuck pigs, dragging things into courtrooms where they don't belong, engaging in vandalism, and running roughshod over the rights of others that it becomes a problem. This is a problem because it won't stop at religion. It almost never stops at religion. Once the "other side" succeed in subverting one freedom to better suit it's tastes, it attacks the rest, encouraged by success. Today it's the display of a privately-funded nativity scene, tomorrow it's the Pledge of Alliegance, or the right to own a gun or the ability to keep your phone calls and e-mail private. Principles must always be defended, but in this day and age, many of us would rather surrender our principles for the sake of how others perceive us. That's just plain wrong.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Big Brother is Watching You...
I have discovered a very interesting phenomenon in the last few weeks. We are being watched in the privacy of our own homes, only those doing the watching don't do so behind the aegis of the Fed'ral Gubmint --- they are telemarketers.

I screen my calls. I have the caller ID feature on my phone as well. I do so because I'm very often a sucker for a good sales pitch. Thanks to phone-based telemarketers I have subscriptions to magazines I hardly ever read, but will be paying for for many a year. I can't tell you how many times I've almost fallen for the free-vacation-if-you-come-look-at-our-timeshare-situation-in-Florida routine. I'm kinda weak-kneed when confronted by something like this. I don't know what it is, but it's something I'm gonna have to stop. Perhaps more therapy?

Anyway, what I've noticed is that if i use the phone after I've gotten and ignored a call from one of these folks, my phone invariably rings several minutes later, and they're back. They know when I'm home and they know when I'm using my phone. There's supposed to be some new phone service (I think it's *38 or something), that automatically redials a busy number every so often.

If the Government of the United States did this, the ACLU would be filing lawsuits from sea to shining sea. If the CIA was doing this we'd have Congressional hearings. Because private business is doing it, we hear nary a word.

The worst offenders are the bill collectors. The second worst are those seeking donations to save the spotted-three-finned-tuna or something like it. The most unconscionable offenders are universities seeking to drum up support for protests against everything from the bomb to transgendered automony for the Indians of the Amazon.

Politicians have used this service as wel, since I got four calls (count 'em) from Bill Clinton on Election Day, urgin me to vote for both John Kerry and Erskine Bowles. I wouldn't have voted for either one if you threatened to cut my scrotum off at the base. With a rusty sheep shear.

For all of you who considered John Ashcroft the biggest threat to privacy rights and personal security, I offer you this to think about. At least Ashcroft and his blakshirts were never calling me every 15 minutes, interupting my own phone calls with call waiting signals, and forcing me to pay the phone company for a feature I really could do without, just to ask for a donation to the cause celebre of the week.

And while I'm at it...
Saw a report today (sorry, no link!) that scientists in Germany have been able to harvest adult stem cells from human fat tissue. According to this story, the stem cells were used to help a little girl with severe head injuries (if I recall, she had multiple fractures). I think this adds yet another argument against unbridled abortion on demand --- one of the arguments for abortion is that stem cells could be harvested from the aborted children. This would seem to indicate that not all stem cells need to come from the results of abortion.

It was a pretty weak argument to make in the first place, sez me. To begin with, there is not one laboratory on the planet doing anything that can be considered research with fetal stem cells, but if you ask the proponents, they will tell you all the wonderful, if theorhetical, things fetal stem cells will be able to do. We'll be able to cure scabies, enable the regeneration of lost limbs, fly and perhaps even bend spoons mentally like Uri Geller, if only fetal stem cells are available for research. The argument, thus, is that some must die that others may have a better quality of life, and perhaps live themselves.

But quality of life is the key phrase. Those that support fetal stem cell research are not so much interested in actually curing disease or improving the lot of humans on this sorry planet. Instead, they are more interested in ensuring AIDS victims can continue the disguting practices that gave them the disease in the first place or somesuch, for example, and still justify the killling of the unborn. Again, we have the premise that the individual must be protected from personal responsibility and consequence.

Apparently, in their minds, you can justify killing someone if someone else manages to benefit from it. This is the same reasoning that allowed the Nazis to kill Jews for their gold teeth.

What this report, if true, demonstrates is that the stem cells don't necessarily have to come from an aborted fetus. It also reinforces the notion that all of this is still experimental and in the theorhetical stage and that we should not leap to conclusions as to what cells are used or where they come from.

Friday, December 17, 2004

How do you explain this, NARAL?
I normally don't think much about abortion, but recently, I've been thinking a lot about it. The impetus for this expenditure of brain cells has been some of the items reported in the nes as of late.

First, there is the Scott Peterson verdict. The State of California has seen fit to sentence Scott to death (okay, the jury did) for the murder of his wife and his unborn son. The court, probably because it was in the prosecutor's interest to think so, established that an unborn child is in fact a human being. We can wrangle over the infamous "24 week rule" and all sorts of other stuff, but in the end, an unborn child was considered a human being for the purposes of bringing criminal charges against his killer.

The second impetus was the case, plastered all over the news today, of a 23-year old Missouri woman, brutally murdered, who's killers took the time and effort to remove her unborn baby from her womb --- and then fled with it. As of 5:30 this evening, reports are circulating that the child has been found alive.

Which brings me to why I'm thinking of abortion.

To a supporter of abortion rights, neither COnnor Peterson nor this other unfortunate child from Missouri would be considered a person. Why? Because they hadn't been born yet. Yet the state, or more directly, the people of the state, do in fact consider the unborn as people, not as a mass of undelivered cells. The fact that a murder charge was brought in the death of one, and a multi-state manhunt was launched for the recovery of the other, pretty much proves it, if you ask me.

It's a known fact that surgery can be performed on a fetus in the womb, prior to it's birth, to correct brth defects. Gene therapy can be used on a developing baby before it takes it first breath. Doctors routinely prescribe medications to pregnan women on behalf of their unborn children. If this doesn't prove, once and for all, that the unborn are people, I don't know what does.

But NARAL, and others like them, don't see things that way. In their world, a fetus is an appendage until it is capable of sustaining the minimum life activities on it's own: breathing, crying, blinking, and for all we know, splitting atoms. To NARAL and it's ilk, a baby is not a baby until you can dress it in non-gender-specific clothing and send it off to a three-day seminar on the societal problems faced by Lesbian Six-toed Beastiality afficianados.

Why is this?

Part of it is ideology. This ideology states that women will always be releagted to teh scrap heap of history because the bearing of children and the responsibility of a family will always prevent her from reaching her fullest potential. This is the logic behind the "Equal Rights Amendment" and the (in-)famous "Glass Ceiling". Taking care of children is incompatible with the drive for success, whether in business, government, academia or NASACR, according to this bunch.

The second part is the old bugaboo of all liberal-inspired nonsense: the avoidance of personal responsibility. In this regard, abrotion, no matter how early, how late or how disgusting, is viewed merely as a means of birth control of the last resort. The other methods of birth control available (the pill, prophylactics, surgery, abstinance) are never ever discussed as anything but a male responsibility or as poor substitutes for abortion. With the exception of the pill, the responsibility for birth control should always land squarely upon the male, with a woman insisting on other methods merely as a failsafe. Until the failsafe fails. Then a woman must have the penultimate method available for dodging responsibility: killing her children. The poin tis not whether or not we're talking about a person or potential person, but whether the woman can avoid her responsibility and the attendant pain in the ass it entails.

We could argue semantics all day, which is what the proponents of unfettered abortion do, but when you come down to it, a baby is a baby, whether you choose to call it such or refer to it as a mere cluster of cells.

But when you read about things like this, it has to make you shake your head.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Scott's Frying...Finally...
It's about time, too. I feel as if two years of my life has been wasted by the constant news coverage of the Peterson Trial. Yes, it was a heinous crime. Certainly, it was the stuff of a made-for-TV drama but Scott-and-Laci nearly 24 hours a day maes your head spin.

I'll tell you this much about showcase trials in California; they continue to get weirder and weirder by the day. The prosecution takes six months to lay out their case. The defense calls 39 charater witnesses to beg for Scott's life in the penalty phase. Lawyers offer outlandish theories about who else might have wanted Laci dead, throwing out every conceivable conspiracy tale, regardless of how ridiculous. Laci is killed by a Satanic cult. Laci has a tragic industrial combine accident, Laci spontaneously combusted. Mark Geragos, Scott's lawyer, should be ashamed to show his face in public.

I haven't seen anything this ridiculous since OJ, and with the Robert Blake trial coming up soon, it will probably get loonier. Why is that in California, it seems, we can't have a staright-forward murder trial? The juries, once they actually get to have their say, seem to come back incredibly quickly with their verdicts (I believe 4 hours for OJ, 6 for Scott), but the lawyers engage in constant drama, there are twists and turns that would bedazzle the most verteran Hollywood screenwriter --- bloody gloves, mistresses taping phone calls, dogs as potential witnesses, concrete experts, blood spatter experts, leather-shrinkage experts. It's enough to make your head spin. I mean, who in their right mind studies the properties of shrinking leather? Jurors drop out under mysterious circumstances. Who's writing a book in the juror's box? Who's holding things up playing Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men? What the heck is the judge doing? Greta Van Susteren has 1 hour of face time to fill every night, let's split legal hairs for six months.

If you ask me, and I know you didn't but this is my blog (so there!), it's another example of the deification of the American lawyer that is to blame. Somehow, we in this country have elevated to lofty heights, men and women whose only talents in clude semantics, active imaginations, and ultimately, manipulation of a set of rules that might as well be written in Sanskrit for all the clarity and conciseness that the lawyers themselves put into them. We expect them to be superhuman folks, the defenders of justice, the guardians of this sacred scroll called The Law. In the end, they become actors in a melodrama that your typical American considers entertainment.

Two people are dead. One was a pregnant woman and the other was an unborn child who never took his first breath. You can't get more defenseless victims anyplace else except perhaps Afghanistan. You have a defendant who appears to be so psychopathic that he barely shows emotion when day after day, for six months, he's portrayed as an in human monster who deliberately plotted their deaths and constructed a conspiracy so flimsy that even a democrat could see through it. And then the lawyers waste everyone's time in front of the cameras, acting their parts on the public stage.

This case was simple: pregnant woman disappears, her husband has a mistress, mistress is told the wife is dead before she goes missing, the husband buys a boat, the husband sets up a concrete anchor factory in his garage, the boat is full of concrete residue, the bodies are found exactly where the husband claims to be fishing, the husband makes an attempt to alter his appearance and tries to flee in a car obtained under dubious circumstances with a load of cash and his golf clubs (gotta take the sticks, dude!). The husband has motive, he has the means, he has the opportunity, and ultimately, he's sloppy and gets caught. This was a one week trial, if you ask me.

But that would make boring television. Gotta have that courtroom drama, since Fear Factor is already old hat.

If this trial teaches us anything it is that evil constinues to exist. The killing of your wife and child, for whatever reason, is evil. The attempts by your legal counsel to do everything possible, including lying, cheating, obscuring the obvious, demonizing the victims, is evil. The legal system, as it stands today, is broken. It's no longer a symbol of American civilization when it becomes a tiny stage play in front of cameras being watched by millions across the globe.

Scott Peterson, in a perfect world, would have already been fried five months ago. It was obvious that long ago just who was responsible for the deaths of Laci and Connor. But, we must be entertained, the lawyers must preen and strut for the cameras, the talking heads must have something to cackle about, and in the end, something that is a pillar of American life, our justice system, becomes little more than the Roman Arena.

To Laci and Connor, I say requiesat in pacem. To Scott Peterson, I hope that Hell has a special spot reserved for you where your torment will be eternal. Perhaps, ultimately, Scott could become Bill Clinton's roommate in the Netherworld. To everyone else who watched this thing with the same sort of intensity that a scientist would apply to finding a cure to cancer, who congregated at the courthouse holding daily vigils, to the idiots who went there only to get their face on television (the famous Lookie Lou's), you all disgust me.

Let's put a little sanity back into the process of dispensing justice, shall we?

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Free Markets and Slavery...
Just something that floated across the rancid residue that used to be gray matter, but now that I live in the South, you sometimes cannot but help and think about slavery. Yeah, I know, it no longer exists and not every southerner owned slaves, etc, etc. But, the outward symbols are still here. The Confederate flag, for example, is flown proudly here, not as a symbol of a repressive system but as matter of regional and personal heritage. Some of the old plantations still exist, although they've mostly been converted to other uses: museums, wedding halls, antique shops, meeting houses, etc.

Now normally, I wouldn't care about something like that, except in the historical sense as an interesting period in history. As far as I'm concerned, the War of Northern Aggression (as they call it here) ended quite a long time ago, and after Emancipation Proclimations, Constitutional Amendments, Civil Rights and Voting Acts and a host of affirmative action programs, slavery is well and truly dead.

But you can't help thinking about it when you walk around here.

It's my contention that the Civil War need never have been fought. The Industrial Revolution was already reducing the need for massive numbers of brute laborers every day during that period. It would have been a matter of time before technology had made the business of planting and cultivating cotton ridiculously cheap, and reduced the prices for raw cotton. Thsi would have made the keeping of large numbers of slaves a more expensive proposition, and slavery would have ended as soon as it became apparent. The problem then would have been what to do about several million otherwise-unwanted, and now unwatched, blacks in the South.

Abraham Lincoln, that paragon of virtue (so we've been led to believe) had a solution: deport the slaves. He advocated sending them to Mexico, whioch would have probably started the plague of illegal Mexican immigration in 1870 instead of 1970. That assumes that Mexico wanted them. That assumes that the slaves would have wanted to leave. That assumes quite a lot.

So, I began thinking; what would have happened if several million people, formerly slaves, living under constant surveilance, tied to the land and having no legal standing, were suddenly left to their own devices. I believe one of two things would have happened: there would have been genocide or the slaves would have to be controlled in some other way.

Enter the Federal Government.

In the modern world, many blacks in this country live on a different kind of plantation, where they are kept under surveilance, kept at a level of bare subsistence, left mostly uneducated, and most, have little or no legal standing despite the laws designed to correct that. The problem is that while the Federal Government helped set up the New Plantation, with welfare, Medicaid, Foood Stamps augmenting a host of state-run welfare programs, blacks themselves do the rest.

Parents don't look after their children (a phenomenon not stricly limited to the black commuity), the schools have become warehouses, a babysitter of last resort. Two million black males are sitting in prisons all across the country. Out-of-Wedlock birth is a commonplace situation. Addictions of all kinds run rampant. Two-parent households barely exist. Speaking English and learning how to add and subtract are derided as "being white". Rap "music" substitutes for anything approaching litterature or art. These are the mental bars of the black prison system. A system that is mostly self-imposed.

I began to think of this when I happened upon a bunch of black folks around here whose behavior was bordering on that of a lowland gorilla. There was no display of manners. Cursing was the normal speech pattern. There wasn't even a display of any redeeming quality that could be called "polite" or "classy". Children ran rampant. Husbands (more likely "my baby's daddy" type companions) yelled and demeaned their women and children, complete with filthy words, in public. They dress in a way that is remiscent of Wal-Mart having blown up: bright, gaudy colors, clothes (especially pants) that do not fit, shirts and jackets emblazoned with the name of some top-flight designer (and sneakers to match), and here they are, arguing over the price of the food at McDonald's.

It started with someone asking why they couldn'ty get the 99 cent two cheeseburger deal with fries and a drink for the same price as the "Value Meal". Probably because there is not a "two cheeseburger Value Meal" offered. They way it was ordered, it was ordered as individual items.
This started a typical display of ghetto angst: the audible muttering that is intended for everyone to hear. The deriding of the poor cashier (herself black) who had tried to be patient, had tried to explain basic mathematics and economics, but still got called a "f*uckin' bee-atch. The comical hand-on-hip, bobbing-and-weaving-in-yo-face rehtoric that would even pass for logical discourse at a convention of democrats. The put-upon-I'm-a-po'-oppressed-country-niggah attitude put on display to cover the fact that someone tried to scam openly and got caught, publiclly indicating the stupidity on display. The mess, purposely, left on the table for someone else to clean up.

It wouldn't have been so schocking to me, after all I'm a New Yorker, except that this group of people seemed to be four generations strong. There was a grandmother, a set of ersatz-parents, the teenagers and their illicit progeny. And right there, I was presented with a microcosm of what Southern Rebels might have been faced with in 1860; we could give them their freedom, we could try to make amends with money, we could try to even the score with the law. But there would still be several million people not-far-removed from their tribal, uncivilized ways, running wild.

No wonder Southerners opted to fight.

The passage of time has not changed very many things. I know that the bunch I saw was NOT representative of all blacks, so please, don't complain. But from my experience, it's a pretty accurate snapshot.

The Citi Never Sleeps, Part 2...
Poor Citibank. Beseiged by the federal government, shareholders seeking their lost wealth and bombers in Argentina. I would sit here, biting my nails in fright, if I wasn't so damn happy about not working there anymore.

Last month, two Citibank branc offices in Buenos Aires were bombed, one successfully, on not. Today, another possible explosive device was found in another Argentine Citi branch. It seems Citi has done something that makes people angry.

If i had to guess, it probably goes back to 2000 or 2001 (memory fails here) when Citibank announced that Argentina was going to default on 800 or 900 million dollars worth of loans extended by Citi. Mind you, this was back in the day when brokerage houses and banks had more money than good sense, and lending money to a South American country not thatfar removed from almost-Nazi-like rule via military junta must have sounded like a good idea. Then again, Citi pumped a billion dollars into Russia, as well. Then again, Citi fronted Enron and Global Crossing and probably another hundred scams we've never heard of.

Normally, I would consider that the bombers themselves were totally to blame, being unprincipled psychopaths without the sense to pour piss out of a boot, with instructions on the heel. But in this case, when a business starts having explosives delivered, you have to start thinking about just why.

Pure speculation on my part, but I would startthinking about the Argentine government or ex-government types being involved, although I have no proof. They certainly have a panopoly of reasons for doing so. On the other hand, there is an incredible anti-Globalization movement in existance all across the planet, most of it based on socialist-style victimization rhetoric, and lord knows, South Americans respond to that kind of thing. So who knows?

I do happen to know that Citi has other problems that management doesn't even know about, and I would bet, even care about. Talking with some of the people I used to work with, it seems as if they have been scattered ott he four winds, with staff being relocated all over the country. Some go willingly, more often than not, most don't. From what I get from my sources, Citi is not only bestet from without, it's beset from within. It's not a stretch to begin thinking of an employee in Atlanta, or New York, or Los Angeles, bringing the next explosive device to a Citi office. I don;t advocate it, but damn, if it wouldn't be poetic justice.

Justice because what used to be an honorable trademark business in the United States has been pulled down by small-minded individuals who inhabit corner offices, and who cannot see beyond their own wallets. These ignoramuses flot the rules, they steal, they lie and they cheat, and at the end of the day, the protect each other and expect the shareholders to eat the losses just to stay in business. Normally, I am a staunch supporter of free markets and unfettered capitalism, at least until I see what happens when irresponsible people are at the helm. Citi (and it's not the only corporation in this boat) is just too large, to complex and, ultimately, too institutionally corrupt to continue as is. It was once a bank, and now it's a bank, brokerage house, insurance company, credit card company, mortgage broker, and probably 70 other things I don't know about.

Perhaps it's time someone took them down a notch or two. I don't think it should be done by the government or even by terrorists. It should be done by the people who really matter -- the customers and the shareholders. They can always take their business elsewhere and, believe me, that hurts more than any bomb or Federal indictment.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Job-Hunting in the New/Old South...
I've been looking for something approaching regular employment recently here in Charlotte, and I'm convinced, convinced mind you, that the 21st Century still has not reached certain parts of the South.

Maybe it's just me, and perhaps I'm not acquainted yet with every southern ritual and custom (to be fair, "perhaps" is the wrong word), but one would think that the process of applying for a job would be pretty straightforward; someone has a job to offer, people apply for it, the prospective employer interviews qualified people for it and decides which one to hire. Seems simple enough to me, but apparently that is not the way things actually work.

Yesterday I had an appointment with an "employment specialist" here in Charlotte. The "employment specialist" in question is a former Yankee too, and she explained to me the sometimes maddening, almost-glacial pace with which these searches are typically conducted. She also filled me in on the finer points of networking here in the south, which when it comes to employment, seems more like a courtship than it does a straightforward business proposition.

Apparently, it is not enough to be qualified. It is not enough to be competent and to have a wealth of experience in your field. One must play a certain game here, first to get noticed, and secondly to inch ever-closer to the Holy Grail of full-time employment in someplace other than Wal-Mart. It's been said that job seeking is not so much what you know as who you know, and never was it more true than here in the south.

The way this has been explained to me is that an individual seeking employment must make an effort to bring himself to the attention of the who's who of the local business community, making contacts and then playing a "scratch-my-back/I'll-scratch-yours" game which might, might, get your foot in the door. An applicant must be willing to do things such as attend local job fairs solely for the purpose of meeting people, not necessarily applying for jobs. One must never show too much eagerness in the pursuit of a position, as it is considered rude and pushy. Above all, one must make a pilgrimage to those that hold the keys to the castle , rather than the other way around, whch is how it works up north. Membership in clubs is recommended in order to try and ingratiate yourself to a prospective employer. Having belonged to a fraternity, for example, at one of the bastions of Southern education (UNC, NC State, Auburn, Clemson, etc) is considered a major plus.

In other words, find the right people, kiss the right asses, and perhaps you might get an opportunity out of it. You may have all of the qualifications. You may run rings around the people presently doing the job now. But without the dance, the ritual, if you will, you will get nowhere. Talent and intelligence only count for something after you've stroked the proper egos.

Unfortunately, I'm not one to play these kinds of games and I wonder just how much I'm going to suffer for it. I don't like bending knees, kow-towing or getting involved in politics and popularity contests. I like to work. Well, I don't really like to work, I just like the paycheck. Unfortunately, work is part of the bargain.

Running down the list of things I've been advised to do, it suddenly struck me that if I have to do all the work, what the hell do I need an "employment specialist" for, and how the hell do they stay in business? They're obviously not placing very many candidates by themselves if the candidate has to do all the work, correct? It also struck me that it sounds like something I'd always heard about, but didn't quite believe existed. For lack of a better term, I'll refer to it as the Redneck Brotherhood.

It appears that the purpose of this secret organization is to keep the "wrong kind of people" out of the employment market. What kind of people are the "wrong kind"? That's a good question. If I had to guess, it would probably be pushy, loud-mouthed Yankees who don't play by their rules and who need to be brought down a few pegs before they're tossed a bone. I swear (I should say "I swannee", as they say here) this is the first time in my life that I've ever walked into a personnel agency and had an "employment specialist" tell me that they can't hook me up with a job, or even give me any contacts, but they can tell me where else to look for one. This conversation consisted of 30 minutes about the ritual, 30 minutes of bullshitting about how Southerners know nothing about pizza and bagels, and 30 minutes of rolling off a list of other "employment specialists" that can do a better job. However, they did ask me to fill in 600 pages of forms, including tax forms and a personality test, just in case they might be able to get me temporary work.

Incredibly strange. The job market in New York may have been a jungle, but it was at least an intelligible jungle.

Many years ago people complained about the "Old Boys Network" and how it kept folks on the outside looking in. I never really saw much of it in New York, and didn't actually believe it still existed anymore, except maybe in the very upper, upper reaches of the corporate world, which I will never reach and never had any desire to join. Here, in the 21st century south, not only does it exist, it thrives, and the old bonds of school, class and nepotism are no longer as strong as is the bond of having been born (anywhere) in the former Confederacy.

It probably won't be long before another transplanted Yankee decides to pester his Congresscritter to introduce a bill identifying "geographical origin" as a new classification of discrimination, to join "race, sex, color, religion, disability and sexual preferance".

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Citi Never Sleeps...
My old employer, Citigroup, has been back in the news as of late. The latest lawsuit (you almost never hear anything positive about Citi, only about the lawsuits) arises from investors peeved about the actions of Jack Grubman (con-man extraordinaire) and his use of the ratings system to prop up AT&T , then run by a Citigroup board member, Michael Armstrong. The suit alleges that Grubman purposely gave AT&T a higher-then-deserved rating in order to allow Citi to obtain a lucrative contract with AT&T. In return, Grubman got the help of Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill in getting Grubman's kids into a ritzy pre-school program. Investors got stuck with stock, held or bought on Citi's recommendation, that was hardly worth the paper it was printed on.

My own personal thoughts on what passes for responsible management at Citi have been somewhat well documented here. I believe it to be a den of thieves, and when I hear something like this (I had heard about it three or four years ago), I'm not terribly surprised. This is par for the course; the old-boy network once again taking care of each other, with money and favors changing hands. The old nod-and-a-handshake method of business has never actually gone away, and probably never will.

I've gotten a few missives, queries and questions from various places about what I know went on at Citi, or more specifically, at it's Salomon, Smith-Barney subsidiary, where I was employed as a system's programmer, back in the day. I cannot tell anyone what actually happened in the boardroom, in the excutive dining room or in the executive suites. That was not my territory. I can only talk about what had filtered down to my area vis-a-vis management practices and the perceptions those practices created amongst the rank and file.

I never liked what was going on. Still, I held my nose and soldiered on for 11 years --- I had a job to do, and bills to pay, just like anyone else, and I was doing okay, despite the stress and the sick feelings I got everytime I walked through the front door at 390 Greenwich Street. Agita, like the three martini breakfast and the fully-staffed, on-site cardiac unit, is a staple of life on Wall Street.

So is greed. So is the stupidity engendered by greed. The short-sightedness that elevates the making of a dollar to the top of the list and the application of etics and common sense to the bottom of the trash heap. I've seen the greed and stupidity first hand, and after a while, the lines between where one starts and the other ends becomes awfully blurred. But it amazes me, to this day, how people with expensive educations from the finest Ivy League business schools can continue to be so incredibly stupid.

Jack Grubman was not poor. Jack Grubman could have afforded to send his children to any damn pre-school in the world, but he HAD to have the one at the 92nd Street Y. It wasn't just a better pre-school program, it was a status symbol. If the suckers had to be fleeced in order for that to happen, and the firm benefitted from some extra business at the same time, then so be it.

You see a lot of this on Wall Street.

I spent 18 years of my life in the financial industry, never on the trading floor, always in the system's areas, but you can't help but see this kind of thing happening all the time. In the end, the stupidity always revolves around three bsaic tenets:

1. Acquisition.
2. Status.
3. Arrogance.

Acquisition in the go-go 80's revolved around who could rake in the most money for the firm. Who had the better house or car, and who belonged to what clubs. It still does. One only need look at Dennis Kozlowski and Ken Lay, with the gazillion homes in Vail, the $18,000 umbrella stands and the art collects to see it. Back then, these guys would have actually done something productive in order to enjoy these perks. Nowadays, they just borrow the money from the firm, with no intention of ever paying it back, and leaving the investors on the hook for it. Acquisition in the 90's went far beyond the worst excesses of the 80's, in my opinion. Having the mansions, the yachts, the Bentleys and the memberships was no longer enough -- now they had to acquire even more mundane things, like the right pre-school, provided the proper patina of status was attached to it as well.

Status has always been a problem. You will find very few brokers on the street that don't have a "drop your pants and grab your yardstick" mentality. The big earners always got the better perks, and in the age of mass media, the better press. Your status nowadays revolves around how many magazine covers and Wall Street Journal profiles you happen to be seen or mentioned in. No one labors anonymously anymore, except the cubicle slaves who actually make it all possible. Still, the title of Lord of the Jungle not only revolves around how much you've acquired, but how much face time you get on television. About the only thing better than a multi-million dollar bonus was five good minutes in front of Maria Bartolomo, Stuart Varney or Neil Cavuto. If i had to guess, this need for exposure as well as riches reinforces an impression of the high rollers that I had formed very early on in my career: these guys probably all have small penises and have been compensating for it with wealth. Money, as they say, is a wonderful aphrodesiac.

As for arrogance, you couldn't be a market mover without it. You have to have a killer mentality and a swagger if you hope to get anywhere. Very often, that smugness, that swagger, that overconfidence, is vital to success. No one wants to do business with someone who hedges, who covers his behind or who second-guesses himself, even when he's dead wrong. These guys would rather go down in flames than to admit to making a mistake. Mistakes are for other people -- other people get blamed for them, other people are held responsible for them and ultimately, other people get fired for them. I can't tell you how many of these guys I've seen in my day who actually believe that if they yell enough, become intimidating enough, then nothing becomes impossible. I saw so much of it on September 11th, 2001 that it made me want to leave the industry for good. Nothing like watching the CIO of the compnay you work for pound a table demanding things that now lay at the bottom of a smoking pile of rubble, because he said so, and despite all logic indicating it can never be done. They become so arrogant that bringing the dead back to life becomes merely a matter of thundering and sending the peasants into a frenzy of activity.

At the end of the day, it's not Citi that does these things or is stocked to the brim with this kind of character. Every firm has them, regardless of the business they're in, and not all of them get caught. But occasionally, one does, and when that happens, the rest of the firm is caught due to the increased scrutiny the original sin brings. It's when the full force of daylight is brought to bear on the happenings of once-closed boardrooms that we begin to see just what fools these folks are. They have everything, and it's never enough. They have the power to affect the world's financial and political systems, and it's still not enough. The egos expand until they fill the four corners of the universe, and then they demand a bigger universe.

The probelm with the Jack Grubmans of this world is that, eventually, their egos become so inflated that they believe they will never get caught. Grubman got caught because he couldn't stop bragging about getting his kids into that school (it was an internal e-mail, for the love of Pete!), and that he was sufficiently in control of the company apparatus that he could manipulate all he wanted from the writing, issuing and filing of the reports, right down to side-stepping the compliance and legal departments, and that he could then use his knowledge of where the bodies were buried to protect his own behind. He forgot about the investors, many of whom would have lost enough money to notice, and who would begin to ask questions. He forgot about the press, whch back then was his friend, but which changes stripes as soon as blood hits the water. He did very well, for a while, escaping with a $32 million "severance package". That escape is merely momentary, apparently.

Want to know how this is all going to end?

Jack Grubman will be convicted of something, pay the requiste fines, avoid jail and become a "silent consultant" someplace else, raking in big bucks. Sandy Weill will retire (rumored to be coming for at least 10 years now), pay is fines and go back to counting his wealth and putting his names on hospital wings in New York City. No one will do any jail time since the lawyers will tiee this one up for years and since, nod and a wink, it wasn't like we were Enron, was it? Well, yes, you were Enron, in the sense that you did something wrong. Incidentally, if I recall, Citi was up to it's collective backside in Enron, too. Grubman also had a lot to do with the Global Crossing fiasco as well. The "system" will correct itself, displaying to all the world that they have truly learned their lesson, and when no one is watching them anymore, go right back to doing what they were doing anyway. It's always been done this way and it will never change.

If you want my advice on what to do with your money, you're asking the wrong person. However, if you want some advice on what the truth is about Wall Street and the scum that works on it, I can tell you the following:

- A stockbroker is a licenced bookie in a suit.
- You'll bever get "in on the ground floor" of anything. By the time the small potatoe investors get calls from their brokers, the firm has already made it's money, the broker made his, and now they're pumping up prices on your dime, so thatthey can make more later.
- Anything in which you still pay, win or lose, is something that requires your full attention. You paid for expert advice and if you want to take it, you should have enough common sense to follow up on it. Hold them accountable, hold them responsible, but for God's sake, don't absolve yourself of responsibility. Yo made the final decision and if you lost, that's your tough luck, or rather, your stupidity for going solely on trust and their say-so. There is no longer nay trust on Wall Street and a smart investor does his own homework.
- Very few, if any, of the brokers you might deal with is an honest individual. He has something to sell you, and he will always put the best eyeshadow on the worst pig and present it to you as the Prom Queen. At the end of the day, a stockbroker is a private firm, Me-Myself-and-I, Inc, and his well-being depends on you, or rather, on taking your money. Ethics on Wall Street went out the window a long time ago. Expect to be ripped off, frequently, and take action to minimize those losses if possible.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

And Another Thing, PETA...
As long as I'm gonna rail, let's at least make an effort to rail at a relevant subject.

PETA, although they're a bunch of pains in the backside, are merely yet another indication of what is wrong with the world. If ya asked me, I'd tell you that what's wrong, simply, are that people have lost their sense of proportion, to begin with. I'd also tell you that people have become so selfish that it's becoming impossible to distinguish between pure greed, pure stupidity and mindless narcissism. Finally, for good measure, I'd also tell you that every human being on this planet requires a good, long enema with a high-pressure steam hose, because ultimately, we're all full of shit.

Some of us have more of a fecal retention problem than others. Take democrats , for example. Rules don't matter to them (especially when they helped put them in place), if it doesn't suit their needs. Can't win an election at the ballot box, then sue. Can't win in court, pout. Can't win in the court of public opinion, get paranoid and invent conspiracies to explain why you didn't get your way. The same thing is happening in Ukraine right now. The Russian Communists still have not gotten over their loss over a decade ago, and like good paranoids, they're striking out at those that hurt them or who mightpotentially hurt them --- Ukranians seeking political freedom.

You know people are ful of shit when Fox News, in the process of trying to cover the events in Ukraine, manages to bring Oksana Lada into the studio to talk about these things. Who is Oksana Lada, you ask? She's an actress whose claim to fame is that she played Tony Soprano's Russian slambag one season. This was the most famous Ukranian of some standing that they could find?

You can see the selfishness in this country reflected in the recent visit of President Bush to Canada this week. Tens of thousands of Canadians took to the street to engage in the kind of stuff that gets one a degree in "Social Consciousness" here. You know, parading around with pictures of Bush and Hitler, holding up signs with catchy slogans with lots of foul language, throwing garbage and riot barriers at the police. We saw the same thing here for the last three years, especially this past summer in New York during the Republican convention. No matter who gets interviewed during these things, the same crap is always recycled:

"America is hated. We're hated because we had the temerity to strike back instead of surrender. If we just stopped, everyone else would stop too."

Translation: I'd rather be popular than right. Stop this fighting before I either get my butt blown up, or God forbid, I get drafted and have to give up my X-Box and skateboard. Why can't we just take it on the chin and then pretend it never happened?

Response: If you care what the rest of the world thinks, then fine. Go live there. When you can't get Starbucks, cellphone service, the Gap, Survivor on TV or access to a hospital, don't cry to come back. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice for what you have and more often than not, you have an obligation to fight for it. If that screws up your cushy, metrosexual lifestyle, too damn bad about you. We don't ignore it because if we let 9/11 pass, then we're setting ourselves up for a bigger attack next time around. Don't think so? Check the history of 30 years of Arab terrorism against America and you'll find pinprick after pinprick until it finally ramps up: 243 dead Marines in Lebanon, Pan Am 103, Embassy bomnbings in Africa, Khobar Towers, U.S.S. Cole, World Trade Center, twice.

Perhaps if we just set ourselves up for another one, we could get lucky and have the terrorists blow up the Berkeley faculty lounge, but I doubt we'd have that kind of good fortune. Any major university would be a viable alternate. If we're going to get bombed, let's at least take out the low end of the gene pool. You know, the ones that in the wild would have been the easy pickings for the lions.

We've heard people screaming for years: I have the right to kill a baby in my eighth months, I have the right to screw little children if I want to, I have the right to marry a daschund, I have the right to shoot heroin, I have the right to be permanently paid not to riot, I have the right to be President because I said so, I have the right, I have the right, I have the right.

Sure, everyone has rights. But in excercising yours you must remember that others have them too. You may not like meat, but I'll eat it whenever I want to. I don't like homosexual behavior, but people have a right to their preferences despite my wishes. Rights come with repsonsibilities. Prime among them is the ability to recognize that just because you may have a right to something, it doesn't automatically follow that you SHOULD have that right.

Why is it that no one ever says I have the responsibility?

So, we get back to everyone being full of shit.

PETA can rail about cows being "mistreated" when the real reason they're in a slaughterhouse is to be killed in the first place. Makes no sense. I'll bet the same people who walk around waving signs shouting "Meat is Murder" don't have a problem with Arab men beheading human beings. Cows should have rights, people responsibilities, in this case. Unless assigning responsibilities (i.e. the responsibility to act like a civilized human being) interferes with your other political goals (i.e. trying to avoid having to take responsibility for fighting for your country and culture against murderous thugs).

Yes, I know hypocrisy amongst human beings is nothing new. But damn, is it tiring.

More Nonsense from PETA...
The Pantywaisted Eco Terrorist's Association (which tries to hide it's agenda through the clever use of an alternate definition for it's acronym - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), are all up in arms about, GASP!, cruel conditions IN A SLAUGHTERHOUSE.

Some people have too much free time on their hands, I know, but really!

Here's a link to the article, courtesy of Free Republic. com:

Here was my response, written under my Freeper pseudonym of Wombat101:

The following is a public-service announcment:
Hello to all our friends at the Pantybunched Eco Terrorist's Association! Thank you for allowing me into your living room and for letting me give you this little talk entitled, "Meat; It's SO Damn Good..."

To begin with, you might well ask why is it that people eat meat? Well, typically because we have ethical and moral issues about eating anything that might talk back to us, for a start (which explains why you don't see parrot on many menus!). We also sorta-kinda have an aversion to eating anything that can either vote or shoot back at ya.

Now normally, since democrats can't vote properly or handle a gun, one might consider them fair game. However, it's been scientifically proven that democrat has no nutritional value. So, we're forced to look to other sources of food: cows, pigs, chickens, fish, etc.

Yes, they do look like very fine animals, don't they? Yes, a great many of them are cute, as well. However, one must understand that such animals were created and continue to exist as food sources. If it weren't for human beings taking the time to feed, provide medical care for and house and shelter these animals before slaughtering them, they'd be at the tender mercies of whatever four-legged predator might be out there. If given the choice, would you rather be torn to shreds by a mountain lion or clubbed upon the head until dead?

Now you can make all the arguments you want about slaughtering, and then eating, perfectly healthy animals -- the point is, we don't have to listen to them. We see the animals as food, and not as an individual entity with a consciousness. When cows start paying taxes, voting republican and programming VCR's on their own, I'll stop eating them.

Truth is, we love that last-minute, fear-induced rush of adrenaline that occurs in the animal just as it gets the death blow: it tenderizes the meat.

We also love all the wonderful animal by-proucts that make everyday life more livable; everything from shoe leather to glue, from baseball gloves to cowboy boots.
Killing animals for food is also enviornmentally sound, since on cow produces the same amounts of stomach gas, methane and carbon monoxide as the typical SUV. Removing cattle from the landscape reduces greenhouse gasses!

Slaughtering millions of chickens on a daily basis also prevents the potential spread of nasty avian diseases that affect humans, from SARS to Asian Bird Flu. These diseases kill hundreds in Asia every day!

What about all that animal waste that ends up in our water supplies? You think pesticides are the only thing that runs off a farm into the local streams and water tables? Why, right now, our water supplies are being threatened by incontinent sheep all over America!

So, you see, PETA, the business of meat is not just about getting us something to eat. It's about protecting the American way of life and promoting the promise of a better tomorrow. Now, go out there and get yourself a burger, and maybe you'll say: "Meat: it's so damn good!"

Going Commercial...
I hate to do this to y'all, but I must.

Starting later this week, this site will be connected to the Google Ad-Sense Program, and Your's Truly hopes to see some bucks out of it, please. So, when and if I get it set up, please click an ad or two and send Uncle Matt a lovely Christmas present!
Blogger Ist Kaput!
Due to technical reasons beyond my control, I was unable to post here for the last two days. Whatever it was, Blogger has not informed me, and here's hoping that while they were at it, they fixed all the other minor, but still annoying, little glitches.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Boring Weekend, Boring Coverage...
I found it absolutely FASCINATING hearing about Dick Ebersol for three hours this evening on the television news. Now, I didn't sit there and actually WATCH the talk fest, I did jump to other channels, but when I came back, it was all Dick, all the time.

Let's get something straight. Even on a "slow news" day, we still have a war in Iraq. There are serious allegations being made about graft and corruption at the U.N. The Iranians are thisclose to declaring that their nuclear reactors are merely those famous Middle-Eastern "Baby Milk Factories" with anti-aircraft missiles stationed on the roof, and armed Revolutionary Guards on 24-hour foot patrol. There's political unrest in the Ukraine, where we are witnessing on television, the birth of a democratic movement. Dan Rather is being run out of town on a rail.

And all the news folks can talk about is Dick Ebersol. Give me a fucking break.

About 0.9 in 10 Americans actually know who the guy is, and that's being generous. Yes, the man is a legend in sports programming, but was it necessary to devote that much time to the story with the facts available (which were: plane crashed, he survived, his son survived, one son missing. Injuries unknown, we don't know anything else). Ten years ago, that would have elicted a "more on this story as it comes in" kind of comment, but not now in the 24-hour-a-day news environment. They have air time to fill, and rather than do something useful, like send reporters out to do stories about stuff they can air on a slow news day, it seems they sit around and wait for the newswires to spit something out, and then hastily assemble a bunch of talking heads to roll around the same information for two hours.

I'm sorry about Mr. Ebersol. No one should have to go through the ordeal of a plane crash, and I hope his sons, and everyone else on that flight is fine, God willing. But, please, spare me the empty air time and the fake sympathy "for one of our own" that occurs everytime someone from the media should have something unfortunate happen to them. It's so phony, and it's self-serving.

What you would really like to do, but won't, is what happened in New York about 15 years ago. A traffic helicopter for NBC crashed into the Hudson River one evening, during the 6 PM local news broadcast, I believe, and there, on everyone's TV screen, in living color, was the NYFD trying to resuscitate the female traffic reporter. Her shirt was opened, her bra exposed, and she was dying on camera. The anchorman that night, Chuck Scarborough I believe, was all in a huff about not showing that footage because his colleague deserved a "little dignity". But he was never in enough of a huff to actually quit or do something of consequence about it. Secretly, I'll bet he had an erection. It was Great Television, as they say. The first reality-based show.

But at the end of the day, a traffic reporter is small potatoes. This is the sainted Dick Ebersol. He must be beatified right now, as if he had died, and we all must sing his praises! No, you must fill up three empty hours of airtime on a Sunday because you're too lazy to go out and find real news.

More From Ukraine...
More stuff on the news from Ukraine, where a mass-movement is afoot to overturn the results of an election which most peop-le say is fraught with fraud. If Susan Estrich is watching, she/it might want to take notes because it seems the "liberal" side is winning, simply by taking to the streets.

The plight of Ukrainians willing to take to the streets to stand up for their political rights has garnered sympathy in places like Poland, for example, which have a recent history of civil unrest in the pursuit of democracy. Just ask Lech Walesa.

Now, let's be fair about this. There is a major difference between our election sour-pusses and the Ukranian version. For a start, ours lost fairly and squarely, and are merely misguided and delusional when they complain about how the process failed and delivered us G.W. Bush. On the other hand, in the Ukraine, the sour-pusses over there are complaining that the process REALLY DID fail and delivered them into the arms of a Communist-puppet. So far, anyone you talk to, anyone you get an opinion from, seems to say the same thing: The commies in Moscow cheated.

Commies are good for cheating in elections. It's one of the two things the old Soviet-style system produced that were worth their weight in gold; obviously fraudulent election results that had enormous comic value, and Yakov Smirnov. Well, at least he had comic value until the appeal of the "what a great country!" shtick had worn off.

I can almost feel the ground shaking. There are forces at work here that cannot be denied, and they are merely gathering, waiting for the time when they will explode and send the planet spinning off it's axis. No, I'm not talking about the day when Ukranians get whatthey want (another election), the force I'm talking about is the democratic talking point that will be made, ever so slightly, about how Ukraine has more democracy than we have. I expect Susan, Lanny, Pauly or Robert (Third) Reich, to make that claim any day now.

Friday, November 26, 2004

My Continuing South'ren Education...
I have begun to realize that one must be careful about one says to a Southerner. The typical, sarcastic banter that is the hallmark of the northerner is often misunderstood and misinterpreted here. It's not that folks are dumb, most are far from it. Rather, I would tend to believe that because most southerners are plain-spoken, earnest folks, they expect you are being plain-spoken and earnest with them when you speak. Very often, in the course of being a wiseass, I often give offense where none was intended. Naturally, once people get the joke, they're fine with it, but there have been a few occasions where I've riled someone up with sarcasm.

Now, who is it that gets their panties bunched by sarcasm? Why, southern men, for the most part.

A little background for you here: there is a palpable resentment in the air for that most vile of creatures, the Yankee. Most folks are content to live and let live, but there are some that just cannot get over the fact that a) the Confederacy lost the war, and b) that we now live in the 21st Century. Granted, not all of the changes that have occurred in a place like Charlotte are welcome. The rampant clearing of land for housing, for example, is giving many the impression of being fenced in, often by people they normally would rather not associate with. There's the competition for jobs. There's the changes in the social life of Charlotte that are changing what was once a quiet city into a bustling, cosmopolitian place. The main complaint you'll hear about all of this progress is about "traffic". The traffic doesn't measure up to Northeastern standards, as far as delays or how horrendous it is, but don't forget that this place was barely on the map, for all intents and purposes, 20 years ago. But I digress.

Anyways, the group most likely to have trouble with all the changes in life here are the men. There's several reasons for this. To begin with, they hate Yankees. They hate Yankees that come here and get high -paying jobs that they can't even more. They hate Yankees with high-paying jobs who are magnets for southern belles the most. Southern men ruled like medieval lords once upon a time, a time when women knew their place, and men got their way because they were "the man". Some have been stuck in this primordial state for far longer than is healthy. They still believe they live in the 19th Century, in the same way Muslims believe we can turn back the clock to the 7th Century.

The hostility I often encounter very much resembles a manifestation of an inferiority complex more than than it does pure aggression. Previous waves of Yankee migration left a bad taste in the Reb's mouths. That previous wave bought into every stereotype you could imagine, and from what I've been able to learn lorded their "sophistication" over the yokels every chance they got. Of course, not all southerners fit the stereotypes; they don't all ride around in pickup trucks, shooting out porchlights and brewing moonshine in the woods. There are some that do, for sure, but in general, the typical southerner that I have been associated with is every bit as sophisticated, as intelligent, and as witty as his northern counterpart. The difference is that they don't feel they have to show it all the time. Yankees do. It's a defect in the model, I must admit.

However, there is one particular sub-group of southerner that is incorrigible. Typically male, he's assured that while you may have a better job, get your pick of the wimmen-folk, and might be able to pronounce the names of French wines, well, dag-nabbit, he can change his own oil. He knows how to grill up some good roadkill, geld a horse, and perhaps, on a good day, walk a straight line after leaving the local watering hole. This kind of guy just can't stand your "Yankee smart-ass remarks" and typically beats his chest about how he could kick your ass, if he was fixin' to. This is also the same guy who, upon finding out you're Sicillian, will want to know if he can see your knife, and if you know Tony Soprano.

So, stereotypes and saucy backtalk peeve him when he's the target, and he can't take it when he gets it back, and because he's typically dull-witted (the stereotype does indeed fit in this case), once you've verbally challenged him by using words you can spell and pronounce properly, he resorts to hostility. This is where you have to be careful with what you say, because while you might be able to take the redneck in a fight, some of these boys are plain crazy. Especially after they've been drinking. It's not unusual to have to kick a guy's behind several times before he finally wises up and get's his shootin' iron. I haven't been in that position (yet), but I've heard about it.

Couple this rampant inferiority complex with raging male hormones, stupidity and the fact that no southerner I've met to this point EVER forgives a slight, no matter how minor, and it's amazing there aren't more murders here. I've seen people around here that hold grudges for 20 years in a dispute over a parking space. It's macho run rampant.

Stubborn and stupid is a very bad combination. There are a few of these dinosaurs running around town, and the best thing to do is to just ignore them. But if you can't, make sure the moron knows you can't be pushed around either, and dammit, if I want to be a wiseguy, I will. They may not be smart, but they do respond to a reciprocal round of chest beating themselves.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Back in the USSR?
Woke up this morning to the news that recent elections int he Ukraine have turned nasty. Apparently, a candidate backed by Vladimir Putin and Moscow has won an election amidst cries of fraud and other nefarious means fo foul play. No, Al Gore was NOT elected President of Ukraine, but he is petitioning the Florida Supreme Court for a recount in Dade COunty.

Now at the moment, I'm not reallyup on Ukrainian politics, though I do plan to get up to speed on this. It has been reported that Russian troops have landed in the Ukraine, I'd bet under the guise of "restoring stablility and order", but it's pretty clear what the real reason is: Putin wants to reconstitute as much of the old USSR as he can. Ukraine, once the jewel of Eastern Europe, has been a target for every nasty dictator from Ivan the Terrible to Napoleon to Stalin to Hitler and now, Putin.

The Ukrainians have taken to the streets to demonstrate for democracy and to lend support to the losers in this election. Good for them. We here in this country, however, have a duty to not let them face Russian tanks alone. We failed in Prague and Warsaw when they were threatened by the Red Army in the 1940's, 50's, although we did stand up for Lech Walensa in the 1980's, and for East Germans in 1989.

We have a responsibility to help the Ukrainians in any way we can, even if that means committing troops, in my opinion. We cannot make the case that the cause of freedom and democracy is necessary to improve life in the Middle East and then turn around and let Moscow trample on it someplace else. There are things we can do, all of us, right here at home.

Remember, while you enjoy your turkey dinner and football today, thousands of Ukrainians are putting their lives on the line to fight for the same things you take for granted. "But Matt", you ask, "what can I do?".

For a start, write letters. Write your Congresscritters, Senators (except Kerry, Leahy and Sanders, they loved the Soviet Union and miss it), and ask them to do whatever Congress can to make the Russians back off. I'm sure there's an econimic aid package floating around Washington somewhere that can be voted down. Write to the media and ask them to investigate and report, not in a Dan Rather kind of way, but in a way that shows people here just what is really going on there. Demand truth, and perhaps we'll get it.

Get to the Russian and Ukrainian Embassies and demonstrate for freedom. Get to your churches and synagogues and pray. If there's any kind of relief funds to be set up for this, then by all means donate what you can. All of you who volunteered to be human shields for Saddam Hussein, let's see if you're willing to do the same for a much more worthy cause now.

I'll write more on this as I learn more, but we cannot let this state of affairs continue.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Right Stuff...
Vis-a-vis the Condi Rice "controversy" (there's that word again!). I defy the critics to find someone of comarable qualifications for th job of Secretary of State. Why we're having this debate as to whether or not she's qualified for the job is beyond me. The important thing, despite her credentials, is that the President feels she's qualified, and in a perfect world, this would be enough.

But democrats and so-called liberals just don't see it that way. The recent spate of criticism, jokes, unflattering cartoons,just goes to prove it. What makes this woman such a target for them?

To begin with, any true liberal a generation ago would have been absolutely ecstatic about the prospect of a black female reaching the heights of government that Miss Rice has. They might even have forgotten the part about her being a republican, but that's arguable. The fact remains that 20 years ago, perhaps even 10, the announcement that an Anfrican-American female was up for the job would have been enough to inspire parades in her honor all across America. She would have been held up as a paragon, a shining example that America was finally learning to leave it's racist, sexist past behind and a reaffirmation that in America, talent counts and overcomes.

But that was then, this is now.

Liberals are great talkers. It's always talk, by the way, and never action. Action, even individual action on any topic, would entail personal responsibility, which is something that all liberals can agree is bad juju. If liberals really believed all the crap they have spouted for near on 40 years, this event would have been a "ho-hum, move-on-folks-nothing-to-see-here" occurance. it would have been so normal as to not elicit a whisper.

The real issue with Condi Rice, from a liberal perspective, stem from the argument that liberals have never backed up their talk with action (Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton all had opportunities to elevate black folks, and did nothing. When blacks were prominent in any capacity, it was always as window dressing). Liberals now have to labor against their own rhetoric. What makes it even more painful for them is that it took a republican to name not one, but TWO, African-American Secretaries of State.

So, because liberals who have talked the talk, but never walked the walk come up against this reality, they must panic. They must castigate. They must demonize. Because they're the ones who REALLY CARE FOR OUR LITTLE BALCK BROTHERS, REALLY!, then Condileeza Rice must be some sort of faux-black automaton, somehow lacking in her blackness and perhaps, dare we say it?, a puppet of the bourgeoise, republican oppression mill.

The same thing can be said about Ward Connerly. Or Clarence Thomas. Or J.C. Watts. Hell, about any black that somehow manages to rise to power or prominance within the REPUBLICAN fold. They MUST be window dressing, a prop to make republicans LOOK like they don't want to reintroduce slavery, while they labor away to stock the salt mines with oppressed, African-American slave labor.

Condi Rice, and the others I've mentioned, don't fit the profle (and yes, that's what it is) that democrats and liberals expect them to fit into: black, poor, democrat, virulently anti-republican, easy vote to pick off, easily bribed into subjection, easily manipulated by people who pretend they care. When facd with the prosp[ect of an independant black that has decided to go republican, the liberal elite goes beserk. It's as if they left the reservation and have become rogue operators.

So, we've heard she not qualified for the job. Yeah, right. We've heard she's merely Bush's puppet, a parrot that will say whatever the boss puts into her mouth. Yeah, right. She's a terrible example for black Americans, making it appear as if the republican party actually cares. Yeah, right.

Condileeza Rice scares the hell out of liberals for three reasons:

a) She's a successful black woman. That in itself is rare (in their minds) enough. And unlike Oprah, she's actually got brains and espouses a Conservative philosophy. She's a horrible example of what Conservatrism actually has to offer Blacks. God forbid that this kind of thing actually SPREADS!

b) Because she's a black woman, you can't necessairly go after her with a hatchet, now, can you? Not without running the risk of being hoisted upon your own petard with the politically correct crowd. Usually the politically correct crowd doesn't care, seeing such activity as merely background noise against which the "great struggle" must be conducted (unless there's a conservative to roast), but still, a few eyebrows might rise.Of course, the hypocrisy would be obvious to the Jesus-land folks, but it's not like we care about them anyway.

c) She's a possible contender against Hilary in 2008. She has to be torn down NOW.

I'm still waiting for Jesse Jackson to hit the airwaves, claiming that Condoleeza is not "authentically black". Merely a matter of time, I know it, and when it happens, I will rejoice. I will rejoice because there, on millions of TV sets around the world, the democratic and liberal elite of this world will have finally, and irrevocably, blown their collective gasket. When you send a black hypocrite out to defend "blackness" you know you're reaching. Condoleeza Rice blows their minds and they do not know how to handle her.

It will get nastier, have no doubt. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

And Another Thing...
Getting back for a minute to the disgusting behavior displayed on our television sets during sporting events, how about that steamy pre-game promo last Monday night?

Do I have a problem with it? Yes. But not for the reasons you think I might.

The "controversy" (it's only a controversy if it happens accidentally, this was planned, so it's not controversy) has had many sides aired out already. There's the racial angle, so thoughtfully anunciated for us by Tony Dungy. There's the salacious angle, being played up by bible thumpers across the country. There's the "they shouldn't have shown it with kids in the room" angle, as well.

Let's get this straight: what ABC did was to promote one show during another. This happens all the time in the business world -- it's called cross-selling. You have one red-hot product to sell, and if you tie it in with another, you supposedly boost the sales of both. Semi-porn and football are hot commodities, and yes, if you put them together, you get something reeking of dollar signs. Don't think so? Just ask the Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleaders or all the big-busted muscle sluts in "Professional" wrestling.

Look at this from a business perspective: nothing sells like sex and the sleazier and the more suggestive it is, the better. So, let's get a hot blonde and a black guy in a locker room, and get the Mandingo thing going. Let's have them drop their towels and suggest they're "gettin' busy", while we're at it. Let's do it while a third of the men in the country are sitting down to dinner, with their wives and kids in attendance. If you believe ABC didn't realize what it was doing, you need to have your head examined. They knew full well what they were doing and they knew what the reaction would be. Now there's gonna be a bunch of horny 18-34 year old males watching "Desperate Housewives" on Sunday nights to see the suggestion of sex.

Now for all the other stuff.

We live in the 21st century and interracial relationships should not shock us so. I know there are still some people on the planet who haven't grown up, but let's face it, we don't live in the Confederacy anymore. Some of these folks would have no problem if their white son brought an Asian girl home, but absolutely gag at the thought of a white female coupled with a black man. Get over it and join the rest of us in this universe. I've dated women of all races, incidentally, and I don't see them as black, white, yelow or brown, I see them as women. I've had occasion to be locked in the same room with people of all races, sexual preferences and persuasions, and while I may not have liked particular individuals, I never once (I hope!) equated one person I hated with an entire race.

Does sex belong on television? Well, it's been there for so long that the question is moot. In my own lifetime, shows like "Petticoat Junction", "I Dream of Jeannie", "Charlie's Angels", "Three's Company", "The Howard Stern Show" and such, have probably made me immune to some aspects of sex that would have been considered shocking 50 years ago. Heck, "Star Trek" had the first interracial kiss in TV history, and Captain Kirk got it on with a a different woman every week. Not like this kinda thing hasn't been done before, folks. Your typical commercial drips with sex: busty beer girls, women mud wrestling, Viagra or Enzyte ads every 15 minutes. Genital Herpes gets mentioned at least twice a day on TV. Still, we put rules into place --- certain categories of entertainment can only be shown on cable, or after a certain hour, and broadcast TV is at a disadvantage when forced to comply with them. They can only push the envelope while cable can toss it to the four winds. However, the envelope has been stretched so far already that when it comes to sex on broadcast TV, we have to shock, rather than just tittilate (no pun intended).

I'll bet we'll be seeing three men in a suitably-discreet manage-a-trois scene on "NYPD Blue" or something any day now. The subject is pretty much closed --- if we took it away, no one would watch television, which might be a good thing come to think of it.

As for the NFL, they had to have known this was going to take place. One of their star players was going to be involved in a promo for their Platinum-plated showcase (MNF), and the event was going to take place in one of their locker rooms. The lawyers knew. After the fallout from the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, you would think the NFL would tale pains to ensure that that kind of behavior would not be associated with football again. I guess not. It gets people watching more Monday Night Football just in case Nicolette Sheridan performs fellatio on a koala bear as an encore.

However, I did object to some of the gratuitious nonsense that came out in the aftermath. Did Tony Dungy have to bring race into it? Did he have to mention Kobe Bryant? Might as well have mentioned O.J. while he was at it, too. Kobe had nothing to do with this --- this was business, Kobe was a felony. He whined about the stereotype of "black athlete as sexual predator" and that offended him more than anything. He was worried about perception in a sport where drug use is prevalent, women dance in scanty clothes around the sidelines, where guys routinely disrepect each other for a spot on ESPN, and where at any given time, at least one of the players is under indictment, on suspension for drug use or, under arrest. How about getting worked about THAT, Tony?

What was inappropriate about this promo was that it had nothing to do with football. It was crass commercialism and a cynical ploy to bring the bible thumpers and the self-righteous out to watch "Desperate Housewives", just to so they can sit there and rail about "how it shouldn't be on TV", but still get aroused by it.

You know, I forget who said it, but it's still appropos; "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public". That's what drove this whole thing --- the networks treat us all like sheep that occasionally need to be shocked so that they can get more attention. They didn't underestimate anyone's intelligence --- they already knew no one was going to figure it out because they'd be blinded by the sex.

Thugs on the Court...
Normally I don't follow basketball. It was not my favorite sport growing up and I was never really any good at it anyway. I believe that for that reason alone, I never took an interest.

However, I do watch SportsCenter on ESPN. I do watch the news (go Fox!) about 12 hours a day, as well. What I saw today made me a) laugh and b) wan't to vomit.

Here in Charlotte, the only sports talk you typically hear is about NASCAR or the Panthers, but today, everyone was talking about the nasty altercation that took place the night before in Detroit, where the Pistons and the Pacers decided to get down and dirty with under a minute to go.

By now everyone knows the story; Ron Artest of Indiana smacks Ben Wallace of Detroit in the back of the head. Why Artest had to foul him is beyond me (I know at least THAT much about basketball), and why he chose this particular way of doing it eludes me as well. Suffice it to say, that Wallace was not amused, and a shoving match ensued. The shoving match quickly degenerated into a bench-clearing brawl which eventually included the entire arena.

Now what struck me as funny about the whole thing is how basketball players fight. I was raised on hockey, where fisticuffs are as common as fleas on a dog (or at least they used to be), and boxing, so, I know a good fight when I see one. I know a good fighter when I see one too. Which is why this was comical.

Basketball players fight like spastic girls, merely pushing and slapping at one another. At least baseball players (the second worst sports pugilists) attempt to tackle each other and rol around in the grass. These slaps are typicaly delivered over someone's back (typically the poor referee who tries to get in between the combatants, or another player, preferably taller than the aggressor). When two players do finally get some room to throw down, they lunge at one another in a way that reminds one of an ungainly teenager making his first stab at a virgin's privates --- clumsy and usually inaccurate --- before they fall over one another or someone breaks it up. They then posture like pro wrestlers and display a nasty attitude to their would-be opponent, which is supposed to indicate macho, but it was obvious from the start that the aggressor's true purpose is to cover for the fact that he throws punches like a girl.

Now we've all seen boxers stand toe-to-toe and hockey players trade punches for what seems hours at a time, and they do so because one of the manly rules of their respective sports is that you have to show up. You can't take a punch and run to a referee, you can't give an opponent the idea that you're soft, or you're finished. So, if it means taking a bunch of stitches, or a broken nose, or losing some teeth, that's the price you pay for standing up and being counted, no matter how bad it hurts. It's part of being a man. Basketball players do not fall into this category, in my opinion, when it comes to being tough. In the NBA, attitude is supposed to substitute for real guts.

Now for the vomiting part.

Someone please explain this to me; Artest starts a mini-brawl, then lays down on the scorer's table? Where is the display of machismo in that? Where is the logic? What the HELL was that all about, showboating? Good idea -- start a fight, run away from it and then assume a position of total submission. Of course, laying out there on the table as if he was about to have prostate surgery, Artest became a target for that other retarded denizen of the NBA --- the fan. You know, the guy who paid an inflated ticket price to watch a man bounce a ball up a hardwood floor and then throw a hissy fit that the other girls couldn't help but join in?

A fan tossed a beverage at him. Why is a question. Fans are not suppposed to get involved, although I do understand that some sports fans do quaff adult beverages in unseemly quantities and they ocasionally do stupid things too. The beverage caused Artest to fly into a rage and make an attempt to assault the fan. His teammates joined him. More fans joined in. A melee reminiscent of the Zulu attack on Roark's Drift ensued, as assholes and elbows flew everywhere.

This will make ya sick when you watch it.

At the end of it all, we have a game cut short, three players suspended, at least two fans assaulted and children crying their eyes out watching a battle take place.

When something like this happens, I start to think about what the heck is actually going on here. How could a basketball game turn so violent? Now, I understand the competitive nature of professional athletes. I understand that Artest, although he's an ass for starting the whole thing, doesn't deserve to get beer tossed on him and disrespected like that. I understand that some fans (in any sport) are a little too drunk, stupid or obsessed with the personalities in the game, and often do dumb things like this. But heck, it's not as if basketball is a CONTACT sport!

Across the border in South Carolina, not 12 hours later, the SC-Clemson game was also marred by a sidelines-clearing melee. Now football IS a contact sport, and yes, tempers can flare. But at least in football, you get a chance to get even when you drill a guy on the next play, and provided it's done legally, I have no problem with that. But this is getting ridiculous.

A great number of athletes today are absolute punks. Manyof them just have that punk look to them and it wouldn't suprise you if after a game, they were waiting outside grocery stores for little old ladies to "escort" home. In the aftermath of the basketball brawl, I discover on the news that 40% of the players in the NBA have prior criminal records. Football has similar numbers. I remember last hockey season when the Pittsburgh Penguins signed a player who had served time for statutory rape and hockey fans were furious that he was allowed to play. The man played home games only, since he was on parole at the time. Still, that's one guy in the whole league. Yes, in recent years, we have seen incidents like the McSorely clubbing of Donald Brashear, the Pearl Harbor job Todd Bertuzzi did on an Avalanche player and the thuggery of Matt Johnson on Jeff Beukaboom, and a host of others. However, hockey has a remedy for those kinds of things: the game allows fighting, which is a safety valve on flaring tempers. The NHL, by cracking down on fighting in recent years, has removed that safety and we've seen ever more vicious incidents a s a result.

But your typical NHL'er does not usually come from an impoverished background (hockey equipment is VERY expensive), where his talent allowed him to sail through schools without producing, flirt with the criminal justice system and come away from it only slightly singed because of his talent, and then have millions of dollars in contracts, signing bonuses and endorsements thrown at him before he even finished high school.

This happens regularly in the NBA.

Consequently, the players have no self-restraint since they've gotten away with everything in life. They have attitudes that develop from zooming from street kid to multi-millionaire in a relatively short time, and the maturity level of the typical democrat. In this case, was it really a surprise that Ron Artest just coincidentally has a rap album coming out, too? It's par for the course --- get an immature illiterate, thrust more money than he's ever seen in his face and tell him he's something special 24-hours a day, and just expect him to NOT be a punk. All we see nowadays at what used to be pleasant events (sporting events) is spitting, punching, assaulting, trash-talking and taunting, designed to get a 5 second spot on SportsCenter. The raunchier and more disgusting the behavior, the more air time it gets. The integrity of the game, the pride of accomplishment, the thrill of comeptetion is gone: it's now all about attitude and self-promotion.

The NBA, and all sports for that matter, have to start holding players accountable. Commisioner David Stern did the right thing by announcing indefinite suspensions for all the major players. The DA in Detroit is investigating possible criminal charges. Fine. But in the end, you know what will happen: the players will be reinstated, if any charges are pressed there will be community service as punishment. The principals will be able to go back to making a shitload of money for playing a game. We go back to worshipping them as celebrities. The cycle begins again.

We all complain about our society going to hell in a handbasket, and that SOMETHING should be done. How about we clean up the crap that inhabits our sporting venues first?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Excuse No. 2,458...
From the "I point the finger at everyone but me" department, it has been reported thet John Kerry finally revealed the mystical reason as to why he lost the 2004 election: Osama Bin Laden.

That's right. John has finally got it all figured out. Osama (who I must admit, I thought was dead) sent a perfectly-timed missive via videotape to America two days before the election and scared Americans into voting for George W. Bush.

Now, granted, this new and novel theory is much better than the other democratic mantras about defeat we've heard in the last few weeks: that Americans are stupid, or the democrats were undone by a vicious cabal of neo-Nazi, homophobic evangelicals, or Mid-Western rednecks had a natural affinity for an illiterate presidential candidate who mangled the English language as well as they did, etc.

Of course, to these people, reality never intrudes into the utopian bubble that they have constrcuted around themselves, a vision of the world that we can all share if only, if only, we'd all become as enlightened to the ways of bad French poilitcal philosophers and chardonnay-sipping revolutionary dillitentes as they were. The true reality, the one the rest of us live in, indicates that John Kerry was just a very bad candidate, with no ideas and nothing to offer but reflexive contrariness. In this true reality, Fox News Channel, Rush Limbagh, the 700 Club and "conservative talk radio" had something to do with pointing out Kerry's shortcomings, but ultimately, the decision still rested with the people. They all don't watch Fox, listen to Rush or attend church regularly, you know. At the same time, they have enough common sense to realize when they are being sold a bag of horse manure. Unfortunately, to a democrat, a bag of horse droppings has it's finer points, if you can just convince yourself the smell is not something nasty and aversive, but merely an unfortunate and esoteric aspect of horse dung. It's supposed to be good horse dung anyway because, well, it means well.

See, that's the difference. And it's why John Kerry was such a rotten candidate. Normal people don't contemplate the nature of horse shit and try to dicover the "nuances" hidden within it. We just decide we don't like the smell and try to avoid it.

Perhaps Osama was a last-minute reminder of the stakes we're fighting for these days, although why people need reminders like this is beyond my comprehension. But to discard the evidence in front you (bad candidate, agenda that wouldn't fly with the population, avoiding the press, manic-depressive wife with a streak of dementia sent out as point-man, VP selection that made Dan Quayle look absolutely statesman-like, repeated and gratuitous references to Cheneys with lesbian predilections, ski vacations in Sun Valley, $8,000 bicycles, wind surfing and 18 months of Vietnam-all-the-time) and conclude that a single event or reason was responsible is nonsense. To believe the reason for your defeat was external is bordering on mental illness. The problem is that Kerry has no stanbdard against which to weigh his shortcomings when he looks at himself in the bathroom mirror and he's surrounded by people with the same shortcomings.

You know, John Kerry once made an almost-reasonable point in the first debate about George W. Bush not learning from his mistakes. It seems Kerry can identify that flaw in others, but somehow, misses it in himself. I'll bet he keeps on missing it, too.

Will The Next Loser Please Stand Up?
I swore two weeks ago that I would stop political blogging, but i can't help myself. Part of it is the insanity of democrats, most of whom still cannot believe that a) they fielded a bad candidate, and b) that democracy worked when he was sent packing. What really caused me to start this little missive, however, has been the almost-constant harping about who the democrats can field in the next presidential election that will stand a chance of perhaps winning.

Now, what's funny about this, in a sick sort of way, is that the folks trotted out by democrats are obviously unhinged. They don't live on the same planet the rest of us do. They're missing vital chromosomes that have had dire consequences for their thought processes.

We can run the list of the afflicted: Bob Beckel, Susan Estrich, Paul Begala, James Carville, etc.
All of them display three common symptoms of dementia: a failure to recognize reality when it slaps you in the face, a fantasy world in which they are actually more relevant than they really are, and finally, an ability to ramble incoherantly.

We're already talking about democrats lining up for another run at the White House in 2008, and there are a host of people out there that go on TV daily and talk them up. Let's cut through the political spin and the democratic party talking points and get down to brass tacks. First we'll tackle the issues and then we'll tackle the potential candidates.

The issues, for democrats, revolve around one fundamental point: the government welfare state must continue at all costs. A secondary issue for democrats is that the government welfare state must find new ways to insinuate itself into people's lives, so that it not only continues, but thrives. The point of both issues is that they are attempts to make democrats indispensible while they fundamentally fuck the country up to match their utopian dreams. In other words, the point of being a democrat is to be able to destroy American government and culture while you lull the masses to sleep with free goodies. Hence, all the talk about "saving" Social Security, "saving" the enviornment or Medicare, repeated mantras about "Education" and "Healthcare". These are not issues in the same way that turtles are not mammals --- they don't belong in the realm of government in the same way that turtles don't have fur.

In a perfect world, government would do for the people what they are not able to do for themselves; i.e. defending the country, conducting foreign relations, building interstates, picking up the trash. When it comes to things like retirement plans, educating children or buying medical insurance, most people are capable of looking after themselves. In most cases, what democrats are really talking about is being the provider of last resort for all of these things. Democrats, in effect, play around the margins; those too dumb to save their money, those too lazy to put any effort into improving their own lives, are future democrats. The habitual complainers and whiners who are alert enough to cry about their own shortcomings, but not smart enough to actually do anything about them, are already democrats. In short, democrats don't believe in human nature: the idea that mankind, left to see to it's own devices, can find constructive ways to fulfill needs. Democrats play around these margins for two reasons: a) there's power in hooking the powerless (just ask Julius Caesar) and b) it makes them feel good about themselves to have appeared to have done anything at all. If democrats were serious about true, governmental issues, they would find ways to reduce the national debt without resorting to tax increases, fight terrorism with arms rather than platitudes and perhaps, on a good day, let business do it's thing all on it's own, allowing market forces to do the job they've proven they can do.

As for the candidates, let's run them down one at a time:

John Kerry - finsihed. He lost to a dummy, you know. Democrats don't just bury their dead, they bury their wounded. Kerry was a candidate of compromise within the party itself. Dean had the early lead, and the money, but was unelectable, and Liberman was tagged with association with Gore (although Lieberman might actually have won). In order to reconcile the rabid Deaniacs with the necessity of presenting a more reasonable alternative to America, Kerry was pushed into service. His strategy was to yell like a Deaniac and talk like a democrat. Consequently, he lost. A repeat performance is not in the offing.

Hilary Clinton - as if. The world would have to be circling the bowl before this woman could ever be President of the United States, however, she's been sainted by the morons in the party and will get the nomination if she wants it. In fact, she benefitted the most from Kerry's loss: there was absolutly no hope of Hilary beating a wartime-George Bush, particualrly when her husband had Osama on a silver platter at least five times. Let's not even mention the scandals. She stands a better chance in 2008 when there will not be a republican incumbant, and even then, barring some major catastrophe, it's an uphill battle for her. She'll run, but she turns people off and will lose, even if the republicans ran Simon LaGree against her.

John Edwards - positioned himself for another run with his defiant concession speech. His wife is being treated for cancer at the moment, and watch how quickly he becomes an advocate for breast cancer, despite the fact that he made his fortune suing the hell out of doctors. He currently hasn't got a job, having lost his senate seat, which quite frankly it's astonishing he actually got int he first place. Edwards is a serious lightweight, but he has an enormous ego. Ego will compell him to run again and ego will once again be his downfall. He's an arrogant moron in a fancy suit and smells of lawyer to boot.

All the talk of tapping a "moderate" democrat is just that: talk. You don't get anymore moderate than Joe Lieberman, after all. The real power int he deomcratic party, the lunatics of the Berkeley stripe, will never allow it to happen. They'd fracture the party and perhaps do to democrats what Ross Perot did to Republicans. Heck how else could Ralph Nader have become a political force?

Nope. In 2008 we'll either see a completely re-tooled and repackaged Hilary Clinton or another smug, condescending, elitist snob who can't find his own backside without a butler and a valet.