Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Must be from the Party-Poopers' Party...

(courtesy, as it were, CBS News)

The Dems, it seems, are petrified that their Level 2 arch-nemesis, Ralph Nader, might try to crash their little fete accompli in Boston this week.

Key Quote:

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., is worried. "Absolutely," he said, speaking outside the convention floor at the FleetCenter. "Ralph Nader could cost us the election. He cost us the election last time and his ego may cost us the election this time."

Ah, yes. Of course. I remember now. It wasn't Florida that lost Gore the White House in 2000, it was Nader! All 97,000 votes' worth of him.

Listen, guys, lighten up, 'k? If you're really that worried about one man and his not-quite 100,000 votes (out of how many millions?), then maybe, just maybe, your platform isn't as solid as it really needs to be.

Let's face it: The 2000 election was one tight horse race. Doesn't matter if both horses were sleek quarterhorses, or plodding Clydesdales, they ran pretty much neck and neck. The only "clear" statement that came out of 2000 was that we had no "clear" winner. It was that close.

Still, if you'd rather fizz and moan about possibly losing a relatively few votes, rather than try for the kind of "mandate from the people" that no one can really quibble over, it's no skin off my teeth.

I personally prefer you stay focused on ol' Ralphie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

One of the Nails in CBS News' Coffin

Way Off Bass blogged recently about journalists living in fear. I'm certain CBS is still trembling over my scathing response to their "special report" about homeschoolers that aired last October. For public consumption, here's what I sent:

Vince Gonzales' "Home Schooling Nightmares" report demonstrates, once again, why network news organizations are powerless to provide truly in-depth coverage of important issues facing our country today.

It apparently galls Mr. Gonzales and his producers no end that homeschoolers prefer to work in an environment where government bureaucracies have little or no effect on their lives. Worse still, the idea that child abuse exists regardless of whether people homeschool does not appear anywhere on Mr. Gonzales' radar. Tsk, tsk. In the cases mentioned in his report, Mr. Gonzales failed to mention that perhaps, just perhaps, these people would have abused their children no matter what the circumstances. Homeschool just gave Mr. Gonzales a modus operandi upon which to grasp.

Child abuse is, of course, a pernicious evil that cannot be tolerated in any form. However, all Mr. Gonzales did with his report is create yet more suspicion and intolerance of a practice that powerful political forces have never been able to quell. The NEA and all its affiliated unions tremble at the thought of all that money they can't get their hands on (even though homeschoolers still pay their fair share of taxes. Go figure). Homeschoolers are at the top of their "Most Wanted" lists.

Mr. Gonzales cannot shoulder all of the blame here, of course. One must recognize the problems inherent with providing a "special report" that gets squeezed in with other choice tidbits in a half-hour format, give or take commercial interruptions. For one thing, I'm sure CBSNEWS editors were careful to strip the report bare of any salient facts before allowing it to air. One wonders just how many hours of material were compressed into a two-part 10 minute report.

Also, let us not forget the producers who wisely chose to show the tag line "Homeschooling" while claiming to be a report of child abuse under the cover of homeschooling, thereby indelibly impressing upon viewers the idea that homeschooling must be bad.

By the way, have I thanked you for allowing Mr. Rather to utter a few grudging token words about homeschooling "successes?" Thank goodness they win the occasional spelling bee, or they'd have no success stories at all!

I'm certain homeschoolers across the country today can breathe much easier knowing that government agencies will soon be banging on their doors demanding to know just how many ways they abuse their children. This, of course, is apart from the jeers, taunts, and general misunderstandings of neighbors, friends, extended family members, and co-workers who will undoubtedly wave Mr. Gonzales' report in their faces as fresh fodder in their war against unholy homeschooling.

Forgive me if I sound bitter. I realize that many broadcast journalists have success stories to tell. Some may even have won a spelling bee or geography bee or two, although probably not since graduating from college. However, we are forced to wonder just how many unregulated journalists are, in fact, abusing their children. For one thing, they probably constantly make them sit and listen to their parents' insipid reports.

Monday, July 26, 2004

You Gotta Love This!

As reported on Yahoo!

It's the last line of this article that really got my attention.

The answer is: "Porta-Johns."

The question is: "What do you call it when Kerry's campaign is on the road?"

I can see the placards now...

Porta-Johns in 2004!
You'll never have to look for us on vacation!

Talk About Distracted Driving...

From the New York Times (link requires registration):

News that Toyota inventors now have a patent on a car that can show feelings.

Great. Just what America needs... a car that will offend other drivers while being about as safe to drive as someone driving while operating a computer. Think of it as a macro-cell phone.

Can you just see it? You're driving along a crowded LA freeway, minding your own business, when all of a sudden you see a car full of gang colors cut in front of a guy with a new Toyota. The Toyota dredges up its program for expressing anger and frowns at the gangsters as only, I'm sure, a Toyota can. The gangsters -- who are known, after all, for their ability to freely express themselves -- decide to reward the owner of this new Toyota by pulling alongside and expressing a few rounds into the driver's seat.

While we're imagining this scenario, don't forget about the eternal struggle to ward off those who will ultimately need to take their eyes off the road long enough to diddle with the controls and create just the right expression for the occasion. It's one thing, for example, to make eyes at an attractive motorist in the car that just passed you. It's another thing altogether to do that to the cop who just got in front of you and might take umbrage at the frowny face that appeared when you really meant to show a happy face by way of support. Ultimately he'll get the joke, right after he issues a citation for smashing into his black-and-white while trying to get the car's face right.

And you just know it's a question of time before the geeks at Cal Tech or MIT come up with even more creative ways for your Toyota to express itself. Yeah, let's let those truck drivers know what you really think about them!

Just let me know where to send the flowers.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Wha'd I Miss??

Well, thank goodness for scientific polling! Here I was thinking my ignorance of pop culture was more an indicator of age. Now I find I'm one of the ignorant mainstream. Hoorah!

I was thinking just the other day about some of the things I've allegedly missed that have become icons of American society: I've never watched a single "Simpsons" episode all the way through. Ditto "Seinfeld." I never even attempted to watch "Friends." The other day someone told me how incongruous it was that Lance Armstrong (him I know about) was Sheryl Crow's boyfriend. I had to look her up. Of her music I know nothing. For that matter, if they don't appear on the playlists of either KUSC (classical) or The Wave ("smooth" jazz), I've probably not heard of it.

I've only ever attended one (count 'em, one) paying rock concert when Kenny Loggins played at our local fair one year. I've heard Papa Doo Run Run play because my brother-in-law used to play with them pretty regularly. I suppose that means that someday I may attend a Beach Boys (one of their current iterations, anyway) concert since he's switched bands this year.

I've never smoked or imbibed, unless you count caffeine, and even for that I'm "on the wagon." I've never done recreational pharmaceuticals, but was hooked on nasal spray years ago.

I pretty much missed the entire 70's because during my raging hormone storm I was a skinny, pimple-faced geek and spent a LOT of time hiding out. Or on stage. Go figure. The 80's was a blur of coming into real adulthood, including my so-called starter marriage, kids, and trying like mad to define myself against all these things I've allegedly missed. The 90's was my defining decade, taking some surprising turns, and I found several things that I was missing and didn't even realize I had missed them. Mostly, it turns out, because I trying too hard not to miss out on things everyone else tried to convince me were important. Never quite made it, according to their standards.

Today, I don't even have the TV hooked up to our satellite, which we allowed to lapse. We've agonized some over not being able to watch the Olympics this year, but in light of the current doping scandals (did she, or didn't she??) I'm not sure I'm as interested as I was even a few weeks ago.

We homeschool our kids, which means that we're in each other's faces all the time. They don't waste their entire day in front of Nick Jr., and we get to participate fully in their incredible learning journey. So they've never been to a public school, except to take swimming lessons this summer.

On Sunday I take my family to church. Couple of times each month we go visit family. I can't tell you the last time I watched a game on Sunday. I think it was a Super Bowl in the early 90's, and I'm pretty sure I didn't finish it. Maybe the game was an over-hyped blowout (nawwwwwww, couldn't be!), or maybe I was already beginning to lose interest in hyper-steroidal cry-baby millionaires as a form of entertainment. I can, on the other hand, tell you the last time I had a meaningful experience on Sunday, because our family has those regularly.

Now take all of these things I've missed in recent years, and ask me if I've really missed them. My response:

Missed what?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

All Politicians Have a Facade

Found this nugget on Yahoo! today. Credit to Craig Wilson of USA Today.

I have always harbored a basic, even instinctive mistrust of all politicians. Doesn't matter whether they're Rep or Dem, leftie or rightie, they're all politicians. One of the reasons for this mistrust is my ingrained belief that they're all choreographed - carefully - to project an "image."

The "farm" vs. "ranch" complaint outlined in the article just highlights one of the basic problems with modern politics in America: Two rich white males (with equally rich white running mates) are suddenly trying to convince us poor down-trodden types that they're "one of us."

Oh, please.

Save it for Barbara Walters, guys. The rest of us ain't buying it. Well, on second thought, perhaps we are.

One of the funniest statements I ever hear from the person on the street (<- NOTE: attempt to be PC for the day!) goes something like: "I'm gonna vote for So-and-So because he really understands how it is!"

Say what?

Isn't this the same fella that probably hasn't driven his own vehicle on a real American freeway in the last decade? Has this turkey done his own shopping in an actual supermarket recently? Does he even know what the interest rate on his mortgage (assuming he even has one) may be? This <insert name of candidate here> has staff to take care of this stuff, for crying out loud.

Once we put 'em in office, ladies and gentlemen, they no longer qualify as "one of us."

Believe it or not, I do have an actual bottom line to all of this rambling random brain activity: As the government drifts farther and farther from its Constitutional roots, we as a constituency need to stop buying into the PR. Both candidates have massive PR machines which handle their carefully choreographed imagery during the campaign, and, worse, during their tenure in office. So, as a constituency, we also begin to fall into the trap of believing that our leaders need to be somehow super-human. Instead, we should expect (and settle for nothing less than) leaders with actual vision, dedication to the Constitution, and moral courage to do the right thing whether that captures the popular vote or not.

* sigh *

Dream on, Woody.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Farenspite Update

Seems not everyone is eager to jump on the Michael Moore Hate Wagon.

Favorite quote:

"Mr. Moore has the right to have his message just as we have the right to choose not to be his messenger."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Open Letter to the RNC

I detest this part of the campaign.

Dear Homeless Pers... sorry, Campaign Telemarketer,

First, let me apologize. You may or may not remember me. You called my home during (surprise!) dinner this evening, and I was a bit short with you. If you still don't remember me, I'm the fellow who correctly guessed (before you even got started on your script) that you were begging for money again this year. I said (and I quote), "You people need to do a better job with the money you already have!" and hung up. This was completely rude of me, and I am sincerely sorry. Heaven knows you've got homework you should be doing at this hour of the night instead of trying to pick my pocket, and you certainly don't need the extra pressure.

No, I apologize to you. NOT, however, to your bosses.

Listen up, Party Elite. You don't need my money. I need my money. My kids need my money. My wife needs my money. Not you. Not Kerry. Not anyone else pretending they're sincerely interested in representing my best interests in the White House for the next four-year stand-up government routine.

You will, of course, be offended. How could anyone claiming to be a Republican NOT want to hand over his disposable income to keep an incumbent in office? It's not right. It's (dare we say it?) downright un-American!

I guess, then, that you are entitled to an explanation for my refusal to cough up the greenbacks:

Four years ago, an admittedly much whinier Chairman of your august (<- hint: NOT the month!) committee sent me letter after letter after letter. Some ten of them, if memory serves, that appeared in my mailbox roughly every two to three weeks. Every one of them carried the same message: We cannot hope to beat Gore and Whatsisname unless we have YOUR MONEY. Every bit of it you can afford to send us. Even the stuff you can't afford to send, if you want to see your precious country again. Bwahahahahaha! (Sorry. That may be a false memory.) It will probably surprise you to know that I tore most of them up. I actually answered one, making note of the fact that I had no intention of paying the inferred ransom for my liberties, and was promptly awarded with another hand-out letter. I shredded that one.

My participation in that election was limited to the following Pros and Cons analysis:

Gore Cons:
- Numerous
Gore Pros:
- None

Bush Cons:
- Numerous
Bush Pros:
- Has a classy wife to act as First Lady

On the strength of that argument alone, I voted my conscience.

So here it is, four years later, and the argument is the same: We cannot hope to beat <insert name of presumptive Dem candidate here> and <presumptive running mate> this year unless we have YOUR MONEY. Etc., etc. So let me ask, Mr. RNC, what you've done for the past four years with the money that obviously got you into the White House?

Have you...

- Fought hard to put God back into Government where he belongs, despite what the ACLU says?
- Fought even harder to keep marriages as a sacred institution between a man and a woman?
- Won even one battle in the fight to limit abortion to only those situations where there is a real medical need?
- Even attempted to return Government to Constitutional limits?
- Realized the blatant stupidity of the term "no child left behind?"

Then I read the news accounts and realize, "No. You have not."

I'm sorry, RNC. When you consider that the most remarkable thing your candidate has done in office has been to get us into another war (unless you count landing on an aircraft carrier in a war jet), I just can't get excited about this campaign.

Do you have my vote? Of course. Kerry/Edwards is not the way to go, especially when measured against the same points listed above. But...

What a sad way to earn anyone's vote.