Friday, October 29, 2004

Progress Via Mortality...
Yasser Arafat is very ill according to numerous sources. No one, at this point, has been able to pinpoint the exact illness, but we have been given a plethora of symptoms and maladies which the old goat might be suffering from, running the gamut from a severe flu to gallstones. In any case, Arafat is to be taken to Paris for medical treatment, provided the Israelis let him leave and return. I believe they will let him go, but I have a feeling he won't be coming back.

The man is ancient. It's time for the old-man-bane of pneumonia to set it and finish him off. In a socialized-medicine French hospital (which usually doesn't even have air conditioning in the summer) he's almost sure to die. I for one, will shed no tears at his passing. However, the death of this piece of shit will give me a glimmer of hope.

Hope because now the "Palestinian people" will have some form of choice before them: they can either continue on the present course of attrition against a superior Israeli foe that will continue to deplete their gene pool while affecting the Israelis very little, or they can get serious and start behaving like civilized people who actually go about getting what they say they want --- peace and a nation of their own. The biggest stumbling block to both was always Arafat who loved the perogatives of power but who also knew that power was largely symbolic and linked to ensuring that conflict was constant. Arafat could never make peace and still walk around, let alone be accorded the wealth, respect and dignity afforded to a legitimate leader.

In the final analysis, when this reprobate finally shuffles off this mortal coil, a few scenarios come to mind, all of which make me somewhat giddy:

1. Palestinians get serious and conclude peace - someone emerges from the cesspool of Palestinian politics to offer the olive branch, and a Palestinian state is finally born. Any peace will, of course, be subject to several variable factors (what to do about Hamas? What happens when Pallies all over the Middle East start coming home without jobs or means of support? Do the Palestinians actually form something resembling a government? etc). An infant Palestinian state offers a great chance to observe, close up, the future --- do these people actually have the capacity for self-rule in a peaceful, meaningful manner, or was all the talk of a Free Palestine just a joke as they continue to butcher for no other reason than they have nothing else to do?

When Arafat kicks the bucket, the Palestinians will have no more excuses. They will either have to belly up to the bar and prove they are civilized folks or follow their "leader" in circling the bowl. The onus will now be where it has always belonged: on them. No more excuses about the West, the Israelis or the Boogeyman. They either produce, for their own sake, or they continue to be beggars.

2. A Bankrupt Palestinian state is formed - and millions of folks from around the Mid East suddenly show up, swamping what little social and economic system there is. The state will be stillborn, a cesspool, and a breeding ground for future terrorists. It will be found out that Arafat and his cronies siphoned off all the money and what is left will be a hollow shell: a mass of government buildings with no real government, twenty-five competing "political parties", and a return to "might-makes-right" power politics over a country and apparatus with no power. Palestinians will finally demostrate that Arabs are incapable of forming a state without outside help, if not outright occupation. All sides in the resulting chaos will cry for western help, especially American, while at the same time buying into conspiracy theories about how the West, espeically America, rigged this sorry state of affairs to hurt, embarrass, demean and humiliate the Palestinian people. The "intifada" (which is Arabic for "rock-throwing-discontents") will continue, proving once and for all that a Palestinian state was never anything more than a set of words. Palestinians will simply devolve into Boston Red Sox fans: denied their Holy Grail forever, and now having achieved it, will find something else to be miserable about.

Hamas and Al-Aqsa and all the rest of them will fight for control over the rubble (and more importantly, the EU aid that will be sure to pour in, but which will mysteriously never arrive), in which case Palestinians will be doing the world a favor by turning on each other, becoming less of a threat to Israelis and assorted passers-by.

I would probably guess that 2 happens before 1. In ether case, the targets of Palestinian violence will be other Palestinians, and while this a bad thing (violence of any kind is a bad thing, usually), at least this violence will have a good result --- the terrorists wil now kill each other. Let's see how Palestinian rhetoric about peace marches with reality when the biggest obstacle to it has been reclaimed by the earth.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Cult of Celebrity...
(Note: this commentary also appears on

I was watching Fox News this afternoon and saw something that always makes me laugh. John Kerry was campaigning this fine day in Wisconsin, and standing right there, singing to get out the Kerry vote, was Bruce Springsteen.

Now, I found this funny for a slew of reasons:

1. I do not know the depth or breadth of Mr. Springsteen's political accumen, but I'm pretty positive you could write everything he knows about politics on a matchbook cover. I know where Bruce would stand on nationalised health care, for example (I can afford better, leave me out of it!), and I can make a fairly accurate guess as to how he stands on foreign policy (keep me from being blown up, but don't expect me to fight). So, why was Bruce singing for Kerry today? One the wone hand, it's face time, which in marketing terms means millions of buck, especially when he's seen fronting for a man who seems to command the attention of tens of millions. Perhaps some of that attention rubs off on Springsteen and he makes a few extra bucks. Fine. That's capitalism at work. Then again, Springsteen in Wisconsin makes as much sense as gunpowder in baby formula, so there must have been a hidden message: New Jersey, I care about your votes, but can't get there to actually campaign, but THE MOST FAMOUS-EST of New Jersey-ians is with me! Be like Bruce!

In the end, it's all marketing.

2. The continued love affair Americans have for their celebrities is still mystifying to me. Yes, Bruce Springsteen has infinitely more musical talent than I ever will or could ever hope for, but because he's a famous musician doesn't mean he can formulate tax policy, or that he can broker a nuclear agreement with North Korea. We have this silly notion here in America that because someone has attained fame, he/she MUST be a well-rounded, all-knowing individual whose opinions mean much more than anyone elses. This is certainnly not true, as one listen to Al Franken, Janeane Garofalo or Alec Baldwin will attest to.

Again, it's all marketing.

3. When Bruce Springsteen came to national prominence, it was during the Regan administration and was launched by a song entitled "Born in the USA". It was catchy tune that dealt with the disaffection and unemployment of a Vietnam vet and the country which seemed to not notice how bad life was for him. Not exactly a conservative view of life, but since Reagan had already started the "Morning in America" rebirth, the tune came along at the right time. The conditions were right for Bruce Springsteen to vault up the charts and make a ton of money singing about the bad side of America because all we heard was "Born in the USA", thanks to the Gipper.

Marketing pure and simple, and by the way, I do NOT mean to imply that Springsteen would not have been a success without Reagan. Only that the tone had been set in this country that made us receptive to that sort of tune, or at least to the refrain.

Now, Marketing is a very important thing, to be sure, when you have something to sell. Everyday, people see Shaquille O'Neill, Derek Jeter, Michael Vick, Tiger Woods and Mike Modano hawking everything from sports drinks to automobiles to hockey sticks to rap albums, and there are millions of people who admire their athletic talent enough to want to emulate them, and so they buy the products they've attached their name and faces to. Fair enough.
Supermodels flood the airwaves with commercials selling cosmetics, perfumes, excercise equipment, clothing and lingerie. Again, fair enough. Enough women admire something about how these gals look and dress that triggers envy or admiration, just like sports figures do for men. As a result, tons of cosmetics, perfumes, and clothing get sold.

Ed McMahon hawks magazine subscriptions, Alec Trebek sells insurance, BB King sells diabteic monitoring supplies. In the area of pushing goods and sevices to the American public, a celebrity endorsement is worth it's weight in gold. It's effective marketing.

But we're talking politics here. We're not discussing a hair spray, a dishwasher or a car --- we're discussing the policies and personalities that will affect our way of life in this country. That is a toatally different ballgame.

Bruce Springsteen might be a great musician, but that doesn't make his opinion worth more than yours. Ahhh-nold may have become governor of California, but that doesn't mean he's a political genious (although I will say this about Austrians, they seem to have the ability to always give a rousing speech!), even if I agree with him.

On the other hand, there are celebrities out there who are engaged in what we might consider tertiary political activities that do not advocate on behalf of a candidate or policy. P. Diddy, for all the nonsense I believe he stands for otherwise, is running a very effective voter registration program entitled "Vote of Die", which seems a little extreme, but at least it has a worthy goal.He doesn't endorse any candidate.

Gary Sinsise (one of the finest actors alive, in my opinion) is running a charity which supplies Iraqi schoolchildren with pencils and notebooks and assorted sundries. Again, no advocacy of a policy or candidate, just a worthy goal, and a true humaitarian effort.

But in the final analysis, if you make your most important decisions by what gets written in People magazine or what someone says during a halftime show, then you have a serious problem. You've given up the right, and the process, of individual thinking and are willing to have your life dictated by someone you'd like to be, or to meet, but in all likelihood never will. There's a disconnect that often comes with fame, and for a lot of people who have it, there's an egoism involved too -- the ability to effect the mores, habits and thoughts of millions can have that affect on a person.

It doesn't mean they're right. It doesn't mean they're wiser than the typical person in the street. When it comes to your politics, that's a decision you need to make for yourself, BY YOURSELF.
With no outside influences, you have to sift throught the information, the statistics, the policies and the bullshit and figure out for yourself what your individual core beliefs are. Bruce, or any other celebrity, ain't gonna help you do that. John Kerry is not selling consumer products, he's pushing a political agenda and the methods used to sell toothpaste don't exactly translate well in this arena. Remember that before you pull the lever next week because Bruce told you to.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Britain Speaks!
A couple of weeks ago a newspaper in London (that's England for those of you not up on your geography), The Guardian, asked it's readers (all 12 of them) to engage in a letter-writing campaign to one particular county in Ohio, urging them not to vote for George W. Bush in the upcoming election.

I have a thing or two to say about that.

Firstly, the Guardian is about as close to a communist newspaper as it is still possible to find outside of Red China. It still mourns the passing of the Soviet Union, nelieves that Socialist Utopia is just around the corner, and generally, doesn't make sense to anyone not thoroughly indoctrinated in old-style revolutionary rhetoric. In case no one has told the Guradian and it's readers, Communism died the death it deserved when the Soviet Union fell, and just in case you missed it, even Communist China has introduced market reforms, which reek to high heaven of capitalism, in order for the party to merely survive. Americans have rejected communism for near on 100 years, and will continue to do so, your pleas notwithstanding.

Secondly, you show a great deal of nerve (to say the least) making an attempt to influence the election in foreign country. Americans are not writing letters to Englishmen asking them to dump Blair, re-elect Thatcher, or beatify Harold Wilson. Nor are average Americans screaming atthe tops of their lungs for Britain to refrain from joining the nasty Continentals in that EUtopia nonsense the French have planned. Basically, the reasons why boil down to: a) we don't care, and b) it's not our country, now, is it?

And this one is not yours.

Remember that old saw about opinions: they're like rectums. Everyone has one and they should rarely be heard.Especially not after a steady diet of Communist Crap.
Ann Coulter, a conservative columnist and author, and a cute little number who makes my heart go all a-pitter-patter, was assaulted by two pie-throwing lunatics this weekend as she gave a speech. It is safe to assume that the girly-men who ran by at top speed and tossed pastry are associated with one side of the political spectrum (left) and that they were exercising their right to free-speech, while hypocritically attempting to deny Ann hers.

Random gunshots, pie throwing, union thugs rampaging through republican campaign offices, vandalism, physical violence, ripping campaign posters from the hands of children. This is the sort of Brownshirt political discourse that Al Gore has been screaming his vein-popping head off about for the last year year.

I guess it never occured to Al that it's HIS side doing it all. Or perhaps Al is just being Al: willfully stupid when it suits his needs.

Miss Coulter will, no doubt, travel with bodyguards from now on. Perhaps armed guards will be necessary at republican campaign offices. Maybe, just maybe, people will start to arm themselves for protection against lunatic protestors, union gatherings, at political rallies and against the great, unwashed college children who attend them. The democrats and their fellow-travelers are asking for trouble, because one day, one of these little stunts is going to get someone killed.

It's not the act that's of paramount importance (although all should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, where applicable), it's the goddamn tone. It's threatening. Frightening. For a bunch of folks who fear that America is devolving into a fascist state, they sure as hell do their best to ensure that it does.

Voting for Dummies...
There is a ton of anguish these days about the act of voting. There's also a ton of crapola surrounding the issue. Depending on what side of the political spectrum you reside on, your thoughts about voting revolve around:

1. It's a sacred right. So sacred that there should be no rules governing it.
2. It's a sacred right, but one that has responsibilities attached to it and which should be exercised in a legal and responsible manner.

Guess which party espouses which position? I'll give you half a nanosecond because that's all it should take to figure out who believes what.

According to a democrat, a vote is such an important thing that we should give to it to people who have no intention of using it responsibly. We should allow them to vote wherever the heck they want to, as many times as they see fit. Voters should never have to identify themselves, nor even prove their eligibility, nor citizenship. Ballots should be passed out in prison because, well, you know, criminals are after all, the most reasonable and responsible people on earth.

And if the rest of us don't agree, well, they have regiments of lawyers standing by to make sure we do.

Yes, the vote is a sacred right, which is exactly why there were laws written to protect the right, and to protect the integrity of the vote.

I don't see why it's unfair to ask people for identification when they vote. Why is it such a nasty thing to ask people to vote where they registered to do so? Why is it that if a vote is invalidated because the voter screwed up the process, can't produce the identification, can't prove citizenship or eligibility, that somehow that voter has been disenfranchised? The laws of this country, while often contradictory or sometimes stupid, ARE written down. They can be referenced. They can be read. Polling places are full of people who are there to help -- to make sure you vote properly (according to the law and to help with the details). Signs abound in polling places, with instructions on how to vote or how to get help in order to vote. Voter registration is something available to the public year-round, every year, not just an election year. Heck, some states even register you to vote when you get a driver's license.

How friggin' difficult is it to get it right? It's the citizen's responsibility to make sure they're eligible to vote and that that they comply with the law. It's the government's job to make sure the law is complied with. Have we become such a society of morons that we need to be lead by the hand to engage in this "sacred right"? Have we become so lazy and retarded that we can't even do this properly? I mean, hell, we're only asking that the laws be obeyed!

But the democrats don't wan the law to be obeyed. They want the law to be changed. On the fly. As it suits their needs. Fine, if you want the laws changed, let's do it after this is all over (heck, we've been having this debate, on and off, for 4 years already!). Only now, when it's close to Election Day and John Kerry needs every social sycophant vote he can get, NOW we decide is a good time to review the voting process? Gee, I wonder how THAT happened?

Here's the skinny on your vote:

1. You have the right to vote provided you are an American citizen.
2. It is your responsibility to know: the date of the election, your polling place, your party affiliation (if any), what documentation you need. If you don't any of this, we have wonderful devices like telephones and the internet where people can find this information for themselves. Surprisingly, most of it is provided by some government agency. Surprisingly, it's all free, too.
3. It is your responsibility to obey the law.
4. You have not been "disenfranchised" if you have failed to do any of the above. What you are is a victim of your own stupidity if voting is that important to you.
5. Get it out of your head that we live in a democracy. We don't. We live in a representational republic. We only use democratic means to select our representatives. Hence, the Electoral College, which has served the country pretty well for 230 years. The Electoral College is supposed to protect us from the lunacy we're seeing now (the Kerry Mob).
6. It's your responsibility to make sure you punched the right chad, pulled the correct lever or wrote in the proper name, in the proper place and in the proper way. If you have any doubts, there are poll workers to help you out. When in doubt, ask. Simple advice, huh?
7. Never in the history of the world has there ever been a psychic poll worker. They cannot divine "your true intent" after the fact, and after you voted for the wrong guy. That was your responsibility, you dope, and it's not theirs to correct any mistake you might have made.
8. Something needs to be done to standardize the system, to ensure only the eligible vote and to do something to straighten this mess out. I wouldn't count on democrats to do it because that would entail applying thought and logic to the problem. It would also deprive them of the means with which to continue to steal elections, where possible.
9. Literacy, or rather the lack of it (or perhaps the will to utilize it) has repercussions at the voting booth. Instead of decrying the "disenfranchising" of minority voters, perhaps the Reverends Sharpton and Jackson could take a serious look as to whether such minorities actually KNOW what the hell they're doing before they enter the voting booth. Oh, I forgot; nothing is the black man's fault. Silly me...
10. The cacophony, the collection of legal beagles, the insinuation of racism, the media hysteria, are all being orchestrated by the democratic party which will once again attempt to win in the Court of Appeals what it could not win in the Court of Public Opinion. It's cynical and it's corrupt and I hope sincerely that on Jan 21st, the day after G.W. Bush is inaugurated a second time, that Congress sits down and hammers something out or else your local election for dog catcher will someday end up in court.