Thursday, July 15, 2004

KerryEdwards vs. Bush...
Here's the case KerryEdwards is making as to why they should be the next Presidential tag-team:
1. Bush lied about WMD's - despite the fact that WMD's are being discovered almost weekly in Iraq, the other side keeps repeating this lie. They base this on the CIA's admission that it had faulty intelligence, conveniently forgetting the fact that every major western intelligence agency had the same information and was thinking the same things. Even when presented with evidence of WMD's, for example, the sarin and VX artillery shells unearthed by Polish troops recently, the argument becomes "yes, but those are not NEW WMD's" despite the fact that said weapons were never declared and never discovered by UN inspectors. The bottom line is that since Iraq purposely misled the UN and did everything in it's power to prevent verification of destruction of it's WMD programs, based on the track record and even the faulty intelligence, only an idiot (like Bill Clinton, for example) would sit on his hands.
2. No link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq - there sure as hell is. There are DOCUMENTED meetings between the Iraqi government, UBL's boys and direct evidence the Iraqis trained Al-Qeada operatives inside Iraq. The Czech intelligence service will tell you, until they are blue in the face, that they KNOW Mohammed Atta, of 9/11 fame, met with known Iraqi intel officers in Prague. There are 66 pages in the recently released Congressional report about intelligence failings prior to 9/11 that SPECIFICALLY point out all that is known about Iraq/Al-Qaeda contacts. Perhaps democrats can't read?
3. No International Support for the War - Hmm, let's see. Colin Powell and George Bush go the UN, hat in hand, and BEGGED the UN to enforce it own resolutions on Iraq (12 of them, I believe). They then go to NATO and ask for troops when the UN, predictably, sits on it's hands. As of this date, troops from Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Phillipines, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Bulgaria, just to name a few, are in Iraq and Afghanistan with troops or lending whatever support they can to the War on Terror. I guess it's only a TRULY international force or alliance if the French are in it, and subsequently, undermining it at the same time.
4. Jobs - the hot-button issue these days is outsourcing, but Kerry misses the point. According to his view of economics, outsourcing is driven by the need to lower costs by screwing American workers in favor of slave-laborers overseas. Actually what drives it is the costs of providing benefits for workers: health care costs have skyrocketed for over two decades and it now costs corporations more to provide health coverage for employees than it does to actually PAY them. Despite 10 years of "12 out of 10 people in this country don't have adequate health care" talk from the democrats, they have done NOTHING about it. KerryEdwards also promises to create "5 million new jobs", although exactly HOW is never explained. The only way a President KerryEdwards could do that would be to make all 5 million of those folks government workers, or to destroy the concept of free-market capitalism by direct government intervention (read: nationalization) in business.
5. Tax Cuts - went to the wealthy only, don't you know. So, I wonder if KerryEdwards gave theirs back on principle? To their way of thinking, that was not taxpayer money, that was the gubmint's money --- hence all the talk about our "squandered surplus". In their minds, giving the money back to the people who actually CREATED and EARNED it in the first place is tantamount to a national disaster. We all KNOW government would have done the right thing with that money, like spend it on midnight bingo for our seniors or name another strip of deserted highway for Martin Luther King.
6. The Intelligence Factor -- Bush is an idiot, we're smarter. We engage in "nuance". Nusance is defined as talking out of both sides of your mouth and your anus simultaneously. Nuance is the ability to split hairs: yes, Saddam Hussein was a bad man, but he was OUR bad man and it was better to leave him in power (since we put him there anyway) than it was to "liberate" 20 million Iraqis. Especially when the French poo-pooed the whole idea. Nuance means you can vote for war today and them backpedal furiously dropping verbal raodblocks and making contradictory statements as you run away from it. And it's okay, not like the press is going ot hold you accountable for it. Bush, whether he posseses the same aggregate level of intelligence of KerryEdwards is at least a straight shooter. Your choice: subtle shades of verbal bullshit or simplistic sentences that get directly to the point.
Useless Idiots...
I have a request to make of any would-be terrorists in the New York City area: if you do plan any sort of violent action during the Republican Convention, please direct it at NYU.

Anarchist and professional protest groups are giving their members instructions on how to disrupt everything in the city of New York during the time when GW and Friends will be putting on their dog and pony show. Everything from how to tie up traffic, to calling in false bomb reports, to leaving traces of explosive materials on subways to confuse bomb-sniffing dogs, to diverting emergency services from where they might be needed to engage in wild water-fowl chases.

This, they claim, is peaceful protest. This kind of stuff has the potential to get people killed, but that doesn't matter --- it's all about Bush anyway. This is what has become of the "opposition"; they have moved from nasty words, to callous, selfish deeds. And someone, somewhere, in the City of New York is going to pay for it -- an ambulance doesn't get somewhere it should be. A fire truck gets sent someplace when it's needed in another. A terrorist takes advantage of the confusion and blows up the Lincoln Tunnel.

Message to Mayor Bloomberg: give the NYPD permission to shoot these bastards on sight.
More Dope on the Dopes...
A few mental notes I've made on KerryEdwards (that's their new name, by the way) in the past few days;

1. John Kerry is actually a cadaver. He's been dug up, put in a suit and if you look very closely you might be able to see the marionette strings they use to make him move around. Edwards is a nice choice for VP because he at least can pretend to be excited by the prospect of ultimate defeat.
2. Edwards has a dazzling, almost distracting smile. It distracts your eyes from his own,which are vacuous and devoid of anything describable as intelligence. The last time we had someone in the White House with a dazzling smile with nothing behind it, his name was James Earl Carter.
3. The news clips showing a John Kerry seemingly energized by the youthful, puppy-like exuberance of John Edwards is still a dick, only now he at least looks like a rich white guy who's trying to be "one of the guys" and "get into it". Fish out of water is an understatement.
4. Ter-RAY-za Heinz-Kerry should be instructed by the political folks that when she talks, she must remember that even a train eventually comes to a stop. The woman sucks up all the oxygen in any room she enters.
5. Edwards is still an empty suit. He's an automaton, wound up and given his lines to recite. It becomes painfully obvious every time I see him. An original thought and a cold drink of water might actually kill him.
Great Moments in Bureaucratic Stupidity...
I had two major thoughts (imagine that, two in the same week!) about the nature of bureaucracies again this past week. One concerned itself with a personal item and the second with something I saw on the news.

We'll start with the second item. In Utah, a 12 year old boy was found chained, beaten, half-starved, stabbed with a fork and otherwise abused, at the hands of his parents. His five siblings (fortunately) were unhurt (that we know of, at this point). The State of Utah has removed the abused boy and arrested his parents, as it should have. While this ghastly story was being discussed on Dayside with Linda Vester, two representatives of the State of Utah were brought in to describe just what action the state might take.

The first gentlemen was Paul Parker, the district attorney for the jurisdiction in question. When asked, point blank, are the other five siblings being placed in foster care or otherwise being taken from their parents, his answer, with a straight face, was: No. Why not? Well, he explained, he had no authority to take children from their parents, even if there was evidence of abuse in the home. It was not his turf. In a case where he might have reason to do so, he would require evidence that individual children were being abused, and that the allegation of abuse against one child, did not automatically mean that ALL the children were being abused. As a matter of logic, this is impeccable. As a matter of common sense, this is ridiculous. As a matter of STATE LAW this is a TRAVESTY. I don't know just whatthe law is in Utah, but if it were up to me, any parents that abused one child would almost certainly abuse their other children should be taken away without consideration for the niceties of black-letter law. This is a crack through which some other child will definitely slip one day, tragically.

The next gentleman was Adam Trupp, a spokesman for the Division of Child and Family Services. According to his version of events, this family was being monitored by his division, which sent councilors and offered a variety of programs to the parents, but did absolutely nothing of substance. This, again, was all according to state law, and apparently is intended to give social workers a job without them actually having to do anything. Again, his explanation for doing nothing vis-a-vis getting those kids out of that house was that the prescribed process for evaluating the danger to the children was being followed (apparently for a long time) and no one had made a determination as to whether the children were safe or if the parents were abusive. This, despite the fact that the family was known to his bureau for quite some time. All that mattered was that the rules were being followed and the proper papers being filed.

My personal brush with bureaucracy this week came when I had to deal with Duke Power. Due to a misunderstanding (and I'll admit, it was my fault) my electric services were not registered under my name when I moved here. This past Saturday, I received a disconnect notice that would take effect Monday. So, I called Duke and asked what was happening. I made the necessary arrangements to fix this error before Monday, and was assured that power would not be cut off so long as I paid a deposit. The power was cut off anyway. SO, I went to where the customer rep told me to go to make the payment -- this payment center doesn't take deposits for new customers, you'll have to go somewhere else. I went somewhere else. I paid the money. My power stayed off for two days because the 21st century hasn't reached below the Mason-Dixon yet. Apparently electronic funds transfer is something totally unknown in this region of the United States.

So, I spent two nights in a hotel, calling twice a day, to make sure the payment was received. It finally was. This afternoon. Three days to electronically post a payment, if you can believe it. So, did Duke come to restore my power? No, of course not. When I called again to complain, I was told to do it myself -- find the breaker switches and turn them on.

Complain about any of these things; abused children, abusive parents, brain dead social workers, ignorant and lazy customer service reps, etc, and you'll always get the same story: not my job. Not my department. The rules don't let me do that. I don't make the rules, I just work here.

God forbid anyone should use common sense and a little initiative. However, I can guarantee you that should another child be abused, or should I electrocute myself while playing with a 220 volt breaker box, the bureaucracies in question would shake loose of their coma of inertia --- to defend themselves vigorously against lawsuits, pointing to their engraved-in-stone policies which make sense only to someone trained or raised in the bureaucracy in question. It always seems, though, that it takes a serious injury or even a death to make a corporation or a government agency responsive. Especially when the corporation or government entity in question is supposed to be SERVING the public to begin with.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

On Sept. 11, 2001, America suffered the deadliest attack ever by a foreign enemy on its own soil. Fanatical Muslim terrorists hijacked four commercial airplanes, crashing two of them into the World Trade center and a third into the Pentagon. The trade center was destroyed, the Pentagon badly damaged. A fourth plane, which might have been bound for the Capitol, crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers. Some 3,000 people perished that day, and America has been at war ever since.

Nearly three years later, a presidential campaign is under way. One of the wonders of American democracy is that elections have always gone on as usual during wartime--even in 1864 during the Civil War and 1944 during World War II. The president has to defend his record to the voters even as he is fighting the country's enemies--and so it should be.

So, what is John Kerry's argument for turning President Bush and Vice President Cheney out of office and replacing them with Kerry and John Edwards? Here is what he had to say yesterday: "We've got better vision, better ideas, real plans. We've got a better sense of what's happening to America--and we've got better hair."

And here we thought Kerry was a Democrat, not a Whig. As reader Bill Bruer asks (in response to Peggy Noonan's column), "Has Bush-Cheney vs. Kerry-Edwards been reduced to a race between the tortoise and the 'hair'? We know who won that contest."

On the other hand, at least it's nice to know at last what Kerry and Edwards plan to 'do about terrorism.

In January the New York Times described this great moment in personal-injury law:

In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: "She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.' "

But the obstetrician, he argued in an artful blend of science and passion, failed to heed the call. By waiting 90 more minutes to perform a breech delivery, rather than immediately performing a Caesarean section, Mr. Edwards said, the doctor permanently damaged the girl's brain.

At the vice-presidential debate this fall, someone should ask Sen. Edwards to demonstrate this technique by channeling the words of an unborn baby about to undergo a partial-birth abortion.

Both items courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.
Initial Impressions, Part III...
Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of hanging out in my first redneck bar, a fascinating experience, I can tell you.

Just what, you ask, is a redneck bar? Exactly what it says --
a place where rednecks can get falling-down down drunk in their native habitat. This habitat has all the charm of an American Legion Hall where the possibility exists that the military might have conducted germ-warfare experiments in the 1960's. If you doubt me, check out the men's room. The place is dominated by a central bar, around which is clustered a brace of pool tables, dart boards and the ubiquitous karaoke apparatus. Rednecks, it seems, love karaoke.

Now, despite the fact that the place looked like a bomb hit it, one must be a "member" or a "guest of a member". Memebership to a cesspool is a rather novel concept, I admit, but dammit, they are serious about it. Upon entering this inner sanctum of the inbreds, I was subjected to everything short of a strip search: Why are you here? Which member are you a guest of? You ain't the Po-lice, are ya? These questions were being asked by a bouncer who looked like he definintely served time, probably for molesting a farm animal, although I must say, he was polite about it and even waited for me to order my first drink so that I would have change for the $2 cover charge.

The atmosphere was thick with cigarette smoke and the smell of beer. You know --- that cheesy smell of sour beer that permeates every possible surface that it's ever been spilled on, or regurgitated into. The background noise consisted of the constant clacking of billiard balls, the muffled roar of engines from the race on TV (there is ALWAYS a race somewhere to be watched), the hillbilly wailing of the 300 pound blond belting out Country torch songs with such feeling that you have the impression that she's had this monologue with herself every night since junior high. And the subject of the monologue is some reprobate, presently serving time or "keeping company" with another 300 pound woman who might be just as dumb as the one belting out an out-of-tune cacophany of vicarious emotion.

License plates litter the walls. The question I had about them; how many of them legitimatly fell off and how many of them were actually stolen? Budweiser posters (Bud -- the redneck version of ambosia)hung everywhere, most with race cars, famous country singers or half-naked women on them.
The exposed workings of what passes for the air conditioning system, loose electrical wires and ancient plumbing are visible, if you know where to look for them, which is usually up. Most of the people in the place became so rapidly intoxicated that it would be a genuine effort to raise a head above shoulder-level, so I guess that's why no one ever took the trouble to hide the infrastructure.

And what an intersting mix of people one finds in such a place. There was the lady palm-reader. Women with unusual powers of prognostication or some other talent (I've heard of a woman who can TALK a wart off any part of your body -- just how did she realize she had this power?), are a staple in these places. Any man with an unusual talent like this can be reliably imagined to tell you they found their "power" after they were abducted and anal-probed on a remote country road by the little grey men. The number of barflies is legion, although they are much easier to detect here in the south --- look for the woman that appears to have been "ridden hard and hung out wet", as they like to say here. This type is usually the first to start slurring their words. Anyway, the palm-reader, who was at first "frightened" to read my palm (she claimed to have gotten a "bad vbe" from me, and I swear I did shower before I went), eventually gave in after a short protest -- she doesn't like to use this power of hers, you understand, but buy her a beer and she'll tell you everything you want to know. I did it solely for the entertainment purpose, I promise you.

Half the women in the room would have been fairly nice to look at if they hadn't plastered enough make up on their faces to resurface a battleship. The ones that were attractive without much makeup tended to be overweight and have a streak of nasty a mile wide. The other half wore their hair in multi-tiered masses of curls that could only be held together with joint compound. The men are prime examples of how some people should be forced at gunpoint to use birth control, although I must admit that there were a few who fell into the category of "normal" or "nice chap".

The playing of eight-ball is a religious experience. Karaoke is the national pasttime of the perpetually drunk or the constantly put-upon. The men seem to gravitate towards singing Elvis tunes, and the women all choose country tunes about unrequited love, a cheating man, or ones which have obvious sexual overtones that would be attractive in a normal female, but which seem more like a pathetic cry for attention. Any kind of attention.

There was a tremendous and obvious lack of hygiene present, an oppressive air of sweat, dirt and grease everywhere, undercut with the beer and tobacco smell. Drinks are served in disposable plastic cups because apparently it's difficult to actually wash glases. You can have any beer you want, provided it's Bud or BudLight. Ask for a vodka and tonic and they ask what the hell IS tonic?

What struck me as insanely funny, was that everyone at some point took the opportunity to tell you that this was a "a nice place". If one went solely by appearances, one might be able to successfully debate that you had stepped across the threshold to redneck hell, but dammit, it was a far sight better than most other places. Now what made this mess a nice place? The friendship. People treated each other with friendship and respect in here. They all knew one another, mostly they grew up together, and there was love here. An unspoken love that floated into every nook and cranny of the joint. These people were all here to have a good time, amongst friends, and it didn't matter that they were sitting in a building that should be condemned or that the plumbing arrangements were reminiscent of the 19th century. They came for each other, to be with each other. That made it "nice".

You know, we Yankees often consider ourselves to be so sophisticated and worldly that a scene like I've just described would be a heck of a knee-slapper on the Upper West Side. Sometimes, I think we're deadly wrong, and if we would just stop looking down our noses we just might be able to see what's in front of our faces. Simplicity in style and manner is the hallmark of the redneck and they can always surprise you unexpectedly with it's hidden wisdom --- don't judge the book by it's cover, read the damn thing first. How I forgot that is beyond me, but I relearned the lesson in a freidnly sewer full of drunks. Life is funny that way sometimes.