Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I knew a teacher in high school who would threaten to throw their shoe at students. I guess some people really do throw shoes at others. Why I don't feel sorry for Bush, and think the reporter should be freed, I am not quite sure.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I know I am going to sound presumptuous in saying there were probably two or three of you out there wondering where I've been for the last month. That may be a gross exaggeration on my part.
Well, I have really quieted down since election day. I have turned off the TV and the talk radio more often than usual, so I have not subjected myself to the supposed controversies that are always surrounding us (see: atheistic sign, war on Christmas, doll indoctination, etc.).
And I have been indulging myself in two very enjoyable activities: listening to Radiohead and playing Guitar Hero on the Playstation 2.
I am a newcomer to the Radiohead bandwagon. I had previously been familiar with two of their most well-known compositions - "Karma Police" and "Creep." But I had never felt interested in listening to anything else they did. One day, several months ago, I got my hands on a copy of "OK Computer," and I have never looked back. For several weeks, OKC was by far the best CD I had listened to in a very long time. I could listen to it from start to finish, over and over, day after day, and never get tired of it. I was amazed that I had never been exposed to this masterpiece in the past.
I decided to continue familiarizing myself with Radiohead, so I checked out "Kid A," "Amnesiac," and "Hail to the Thief" at the public library. At first I wasn't so sure about these three recordings. They were not very much like OKC at all. In fact, some of the material seemed downright strange indeed. But I read in several places that one must listen several times to get the feel of the depth and explosiveness of the music on display. So I kept on, a little unsure if I could ever appreciate some of their "strange" creations.
I got ahold of the two-disc "Best of" Radiohead, as well as their first album, "Pablo Honey," and their second work, "The Bends." Both of these were more in the mold of alternative rock. By this time the aforementioned discs were starting to sink into my good graces, and I was starting to understand why some of Radiohead's earliest songs, while excellent by their own right, were nothing compared to the amazing stuff that came later on.
Suddenly I found myself in a very strange scenario. I was listening to Radiohead almost every day, sometimes for several hours a day. And instead of finding that I was growing tired of them, I seemed to enjoy the music more and more each time I turned on the tunes. I eventually got their latest CD, "In Rainbows," and not surprisingly, loved that one, as well. In fact, IR is nominated for best album at the upcoming Grammy's in February.
I really feel inadequate to explain why I think Radiohead is the best band I've ever discovered. I love the fact that you listen to them again and again, and you can't quite pin them down. They are not simply alternative, nor rock, nor electronic, nor anything. They are Radiohead. They have so many distict sounds, and yet everytime they come with something unique, it ends up turning out amazing. Most of the songs that took me aback at first listen, have come to be among my favorites of the group. For just a few examples see: "Like Spinning Plates," "Myxtomatosis," "Ideoteque," "Pyramid Song," or "In Limbo."
At this point, while I love "OK Computer" tremendously, I think "Hail to the Thief" is my favorite album. Each song just combines with the others, and the entire thing is absolutely amazing. Now that I'm a fan, I imagine I am like a lot of people in wondering if they can continue to push the envelope and continue to be so successful. But if the past is any indicator, they will find some way to do it. I have yet to find anything Radiohead has done that disappointed me, over time. They are an incredible band. If they find their way to Denver in the future, you can be I will be there.
My second guilty pleasure is Guitar Hero. My sister gave me a Playstation 2 for my birthday. Amazingly, I have never actually owned a game system myself. But I had been wanting to play Guitar Hero for awhile, so I went out and got some of the titles - Aerosmith, and Guitar Hero II and III. I am no whiz kid by any means. I have limited experience on an actual guitar, whether that helps or not, but I have passed most of the songs on Hard, and am cutting my way slowly through the Expert skill level. I have to admit, I enjoy acting like a rock star for a few minutes now and then. And I enjoy most of the music they put on those games.
I haven't gotten to it yet, but I have the feeling eventually I will have my hands on either Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour, so I can play the drums and sing along. But for now, Guitar Hero has really hit the spot.
So, if you've been wondering what happened to me, you can bet a lot of the time I was either being a hero, or listening to some exceptional Radiohead tunes. Either way, it's kept me out of the political arena, and given me a much-needed reprieve.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I guess it may not come as a surprise - I am content that Barack Obama was elected the president of the United States. I think he will be a better president than John McCain would have been. I was very impressed by John McCain's concession speech, where he implored his supporters to give Obama their respect and admiration for the campaign he ran. President Bush has also encouraged Americans to be proud of Obama.
Last night I was awestruck by the significance of the event historically. Whether one agrees with Obama's politics, we can at least agree he certainly is the poster-boy for the belief that anything is possible in the United States of America.
President Obama is going to have a boatload of problems to attack, literally the second he is sworn into office. I hope he will do what is best for the country, and not just do the bidding of the far left and the progressives. He certainly has a lot of potiential. A large majority supported him in the election, and people around the world have been inspired by his message and his story.
I wish him the best. We still have a couple months before Bush leaves office. Obama will be selecting people for his administration in the meantime. I want to just let things kind of quiet down, and just take in all the change that's in the air. I hope others will be optimistic at the possibility for moving the U.S. in a new, better direction. If John McCain had won, I would have been optimistic as well. Change is inevitable. And if it's pursued in the correct manner, change can be a very good thing.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
That's right. During the entire month of October, we managed to spend a grand total of $35 on gas. $35!
How is that possible, you wonder, especially when driving 30 or 40 miles a day is commonplace in a metropolitan area like the Phoenix valley?
We did it with my legs, and probably somewhat (to a lesser degree) by not having much of a social life.
Since we moved to Gilbert, I broke out the relatively new Specialized mountain bike I purchased a couple years ago in Laramie. My destinations I needed to reach from Chandler were very far away, but when we got into our new place, the distance was diminished considerably.
So I started riding a few times a week. Then I started riding most of the week. I am now to the point where if I go to work for any reason, I ride the bicycle. And the more I ride, the more I enjoy it.
Riding a bike gives you an idea of just how ridiculous the amount of driving we do in this city really is. Over the past few weeks, I have gone from home to teaching, to the AZ Republic, where I work part-time, back home. The total distance is just over 17 miles. Multiply that by five days, and then tack on three additional trips to work at the newspaper, and this week alone, I rode nearly 119 miles. I haven't kept an exact record, but I am sure my total mileage since I began riding in August is very close, if not more than, a thousand miles.
I don't find it much of a hassle. I find I have more energy during the day when I ride my bike to school. I find I am in a better mood most of the time. Of course, by the time I get home, I can be pretty worn out, especially when I ride close to 30 miles in one day. But it it totally worth it.
I've lost nearly 15 pounds in the process, and am noticing my pants, which previously were starting to become uncomfortably snug, are now fitting just fine. The pants I bought when I had a little more room around the belt are now falling off. It's a rewarding experience, trust me.
Who ever decided driving a car was preferable to doing it the old fashioned way? Getting in shape, saving money on gas (by not driving, as well as being 15 pounds lighter when sitting in the car), and not polluting the environment (as much....he he he...), are all very rewarding pursuits.
We may not get away with spending so little in November, but either way, in October we spent....
Thursday, October 30, 2008
That aside, my question is the following: when pressed on the $700 billion bailout bill, nationalizing banks to a degree, Senator John McCain responded that this is a serious financial crisis, and it is government's responsibility to intervene on behalf of the people.
My first question is: do you agree with him?
My second question is: if it is the government's job to intervene in a financial crisis, what is the difference when an individual, or a family, who are often prone to fall into financial crisis, go to the government for intervention? Why is it assumed that the person or persons are lazy?
Is it government's job to intervene in a widespread crisis, or an individual one?
You don't have to answer this next part, but just something to think about.....if McCain becomes president, and is able to implement his program to buy up bad mortgages, will he only buy up democrats' bad mortgages? Will people who are republicans refuse the bailout money? If not, are they lazy republicans? Just food for thought.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Turns out, he didn't. He was as evasive as ever. He kept repeating the same senseless jabber about Joe the Plumber and Socialism; which polls he believes, and which he disagrees with. He talked about bucking the party, and going against the president. Whenever Brokaw brought up a tough question, McCain evaded. And, of course, he was in attack mode most of the rest of the time.
The issue that I don't understand is this (and if you can lay it out for me, it would be appreciated): first, Barack Obama is a Socialist because he says we need to "spread the wealth around."
Okay, we get it, senator.
So when questioned about tax policy, McCain says the LAST thing you want to do during tough economic times is raise taxes. But McCain is for the $700 billion bailout, he will certainly be for subsequent bailouts, which in no uncertain terms, could be described as Socialism. His explanation? It is government's job to step in during tough times and intervene to help the American people.
Okay, stay with me here. John McCain - against wasteful spending, lambasts Bush every day on the national deficit size, says the government should intervene in unprecedented ways because the times are hard, yet says the worst thing you can do is raise taxes. How does it make sense? And if you can make it make sense, how does McCain pay for it? If you believe he will actually impose the spending freeze he's been talking about, you are, as Bill O'Reilly is oft heard saying, "living in the land of Oz."
Here's the hard reality. McCain is going to lose. He is getting farther and farther behind. But it is not just the presidential race that republicans stand to lose. In an opinion piece, David Frum talks about how McCain is sinking not only himself, but other republicans as well. Democrats only need a net gain of 15 seats in the House to have a majority, and it they can pick off a few Senate seats, they could even get to 60 senators, something that it almost unheard of. But thanks to McCain, it may happen.
Says Frum: McCain's awful campaign is having awful consequences down the ballot. I spoke a little while ago to a senior Republican House member. "There is not a safe Republican seat in the country," he warned. "I don't mean that we're going to lose all of them. But we could lose any of them."
In the Senate, things look, if possible, even worse.
On Meet the Press, Brokaw pointed out that in 2004, 37% of voters considered themselves Republican, and 37% considered themselves Democrats. Now, the numbers are 37% Democrat, 29% Republican.
Things could get ugly for the Republicans. But they are in denial. If they are not in denial, then they probably just don't care much. As long as Sarah Palin can go around firing people up over Obama being a terrorist socialist, I guess they will be content. It's just too bad that Republicans may lose the White House, House of Representatives, and the Senate, all at a time when the Congress' approval rating is even more dismal than that of the president. I guess that is what it will take to jolt the Republicans to the idea that they might need to change their policies up; do things differently in the future.
If not, the Democrats could be in power for a long, long time.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
It's reasonably priced - 6 bedrooms, indoor pool, set on 10 acres less than a mile from the Santa Fe National Forest.
See you there.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
However, some conversations I've had with different individuals concerned, have encouraged me to make some clarifications. I was, in fact, going to refrain from anything political until after the elections. But strangely, with the encouragement of my best friend, I feel I shouldn't have to worry about simply giving my opinion on politics.
First of all, I still have not decided for whom to vote. I got my early ballot today. I am not voting for John McCain, but I am still trying to decide if I should actually vote for Barack Obama, or for one of the third party candidates. I originally intended to go third-party no matter what, but lately I am feeling like that strategy would have little point.
That's my way of saying: understand when you read posts on this particular blog, you are reading words from a very conflicted individual. The presidential race has been going on for nearly two years, and yet I cannot make up my mind. If Ron Paul was still in the race, I would have voted for him without question.
My posts have been particularly accusatory toward McCain and Sarah Palin. I have posted many clips from The Daily Show, which is a very vulgar, and offensive show. In my mind, these actions are perfectly justified, as they help explain why I hold certain political positions.
Those who read the blog rarely, if ever, will not understand these nuances. They do not understand me, nor my points of view. Sometimes they don't understand my viewpoints, because they refuse to acknowledge that my opinions have any validity. They want to call names and point fingers, rather than discuss differences.
It should be understood that my opinions, which differ greatly from those you may have heard me state in the past, are not meant to be directed at individuals, but are a way of describing what I have come to believe, and why I think in such a manner. In my humble opinion, there are those out there who dislike my vocal nature because they do not want to deal with opinions contrary to their own. They avoid doing so because they think considering other viewpoints is somehow a repudiation, or at least a demonstration of doubt, of their deeply held views.
Then, they change the subject, saying what I say is mean-spirited, negative, or offensive. I've gone back and read many of my posts, and I have been hard pressed to find anywhere where I have crossed whatever imaginary moral line one might think exists in discussing politics.
I've thought it curious that in college, as a strong conservative, I was afraid to speak out because I thought I would be ridiculed by my more liberal professors (and sometimes I was ridiculed). Now, I have looked at some of those opposing opinions, so much so, that I have even come to agree with some of them. Now, I am afraid to speak out, because I might be ridiculed by my republican associations.
I talk way too much. There is no doubt about it. But my object in speaking my mind has been rather simple: I have come to reject some of the lessons that were taught to me as infallible in my youth. Again, if people disagree, or still believe what I am about to denounce, it is simply my opinion. But have no doubt, I am sometimes passionate about these opinions, because I feel I have been denied a full understanding of how the world works, because for quite awhile, I was given the false impression that I really only had one choice to follow in politics.
So here goes - here are some of the ideas I had years ago, that I have fully come to reject (and yes, I feel strongly about them, and others probably feel just as strongly the opposite view):
- You can't be Mormon and a democrat.
- The Republican Party is more religious, more righteous, than the Democratic Party.
- The media have a liberal bias.
- The poor (those who rely on government aid to subsist) are poor because they are lazy. Democrats are the party of the "lazy" and believe in "spreading the wealth socialism."
- I should vote for someone I don't support, just because the opposing party is more scary.
- If you feel strongly about something, there are no other points of view that are as valid as yours. It is okay to make fun of others' view points, if they oppose yours, but it is not fair for them to insult yours.
I think most of what I've been saying can be found under the umbrella of those six topics. I find some of the above ideas rather disturbing. But I understand that some people believe them firmly, and I respect them for it. I do not find the individual people themselves disturbing. Rather, I would like to be able to have a discussion with any of them, so we could come to a better understanding.
Unfortunately, today's culture is extremely enveloped in the mentality that if you disagree with someone, you can expect to be judged by your views, often before anyone on the opposing side has tried to understand them.
Since I haven't had much success in other forums discussing these viewpoints, I have chosen to post them on a blog, a blog that is rarely read by anyone, at least that I am aware.
I am not going to stop giving my opinion. I am not going to change how I feel, even if it is not acceptable to some of my associates. And I am not going to post feel-good "we went to the zoo today" entries on my blog because I just don't have any interest in doing that kind of stuff. If my significant other wants to, she can do it. If you're interested in knowing a little more about the Cherry family, they have started a blog.
And just for the future, if you plan on telling me how offensive my views are to you, I am going to ask you if you've read this 23 Oct. post, and if you've read carefully, and if you've tried to come to an understanding before you got offended. If you haven't, I am not going to take your complaint too seriously. We all need to listen to and consider other points of view. I believe it makes us better people. We can't just get offended and go off and pout. In the end, we can respect each other more, once we come to understand our disagreements. If you don't have time to gain understanding, or read carefully, then let's just leave it alone. Just walk away from the blog, and we'll discuss something else.
P.S. I've decided to stop posting clips from The Daily Show. I did so before, because Jon Stewart is one of the only people out there who actually makes excellent political points, and he does so in a hilarious way. However, I think a lot of the material is unsuitable for what I would like to consider a "safe" blog site. But I will still comment on my views, and I will bring it fiercely every day.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
For starters, I thought the format and the proceedings of the debate were the best of the three presidential contests. I thought Bob Schieffer asked some very astute questions, which were not always in the template of what the first two debates seemed to follow. I liked that he gave them a little more time to "debate" each other.
I also liked that John McCain was in attack mode all night long. Not only did it show that McCain is going down like his military....you finish the thought, I don't have the cojones to go there. It also gave Obama one last chance to respond (and in my opinion, he did so rather effectively) to all of the accusations McCain's campaign has thrown out there, these last few weeks especially.
I want to include Obama's word-for-word response to the question McCain raised about Barack's vote in the Illinois Senate against giving prenatal care to late-term babies who survived abortion procedures, since this is one of the most insidious and questionable things I've heard about Obama over the previous months. Obviously, you have to trust Obama, and if you don't it won't matter, but I thought he explained his reasoning perfectly:
MCCAIN: Senator Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.
And then, on the floor of the State Senate, as he did 130 times as a state senator, he voted present.
Then there was another bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really -- one of the bad procedures, a terrible. And then, on the floor of the Illinois State Senate, he voted present.
I don't know how you vote "present" on some of that. I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro- abortion movement in America. And that's his record, and that's a matter of his record.
And he'll say it has something to do with Roe v. Wade, about the Illinois State Senate. It was clear-cut votes that Senator Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America.
OBAMA: Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true. The -- here are the facts.
There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.
And the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois, voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to provide care, and there was already a law in the books.
With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception.
And I attempted, as many have in the past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception.
The last point I want to make on the issue of abortion. This is an issue that -- look, it divides us. And in some ways, it may be difficult to -- to reconcile the two views.
But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, "We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby."
Those are all things that we put in the Democratic platform for the first time this year, and I think that's where we can find some common ground, because nobody's pro-abortion. I think it's always a tragic situation. We should try to reduce these circumstances.
So there you have it. I think Obama answered a lot of the allegations coolly. One thought I had during the debate was, if you want an indication of who is more negative, just look at the two candidates throughout this debate. All in all, the two campaigns have both gone very negative, and are almost even in that respect, as you can see on the fact-check links I will post shortly. But on almost every single question, McCain went to attacking Obama. Obama attacked on and off, but much less frequently. When asked about Palin's readiness to be the VP, Obama danced around the question, but did not attack. McCain attacked Biden for like three minutes. If you couldn't see the disparity there, and throughtout the debate, in McCain attacking Obama, then so be it.
A couple other tidbits: what does not having town hall debates have to do with whether the tone of the campaigns is positive or negative. That's about as good an argument as, let's see....if my ears weren't so big, my teeth wouldn't be so yellow.
And how come the tough, battle-hardened McCain, who has been such terrible experiences as a POW, crying about what someone said about him? For being such a tough guy, he sure can whine.
Finally, most idiotic part of the debate: the 900 references to Joe the plumber. If you think I am dumb enough to trust you have the "average american's" concerns close to your heart by talking to some plumber in Ohio, then you have a very low opinion of my intelligence level indeed. But, true to form, many in the media lauded this move by McCain, because they obviously think you and I (probably more so you than I) are morons.
Now, with all that said, I will leave you with a couple excellent fact-check sites where you can actually see who said what, and how factual or untruthful their statements were. I found a good one here and here. The truth is, McCain supporters will ignore the lies that he threw out, and the Obama supporters will turn a blind-eye to the distortions and lies he spewed. But both are politicians, and they both are slippery. You can't just point out one is a liar, and then trust the other one.
So, at the end of the "debate" process, I certainly have to confirm that my opinion of Obama is much more favorable than the impression I have of McCain. Again, just look at the debate. Yes, Obama smiled and sneered on and off. It's hard not to when you're getting lied about over and over again, I'm sure. It's no excuse, either way. However, McCain snickered, jibed, mocked, and rolled his eyes, as well as interupted on occasion. In my book, that is flat-out rude behavior. It is childish. Obama acted like an adult 90% of the time. McCain acted like an adult maybe 70% of the time. I don't want a child in the White House. I want a mature, intelligent, respectable individual. And on this point, I respect Obama overall, much more than I respect McCain.
From my perspective, the problem is not that we don't know enough about Obama. We have heard allegation after accusation, again and again. And he has answered them, most of the time gracefully, again and again. The one we don't know about is McCain. There are lot of skeletons in his closet, and we haven't even heard about them. McCain hasn't even addressed some of them, even once. I have referred to them a few times on facebook and on this blog. The fact that the media don't bring them up (the liberal media, remember), and McCain doesn't even have to answer, really gives me pause.
But all in all, I am just happy to have a fairly decent debate to finish out the process.
Postscript: Now, a moment of self-effication. I am about as fair-weather a guy as there can be. I cheer for BYU against Wyoming almost every year. Why? Because BYU is better than UW almost every year. I cheer for the Arizona Cardinals only when they play the Dallas Cowboys in football, because my brothers like Dallas. I don't cheer for Arizona any other time, because they are terrible. Point is, I know McCain is going down, and going down in brilliant, majestic, orange and red flames. I'm not going to defend the guy. He doesn't even deserve to win. Besides, the guy said I didn't have to be scared if Obama is president.
And on this rare occasion, I believe him.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
1. Obama - "The instability of the economy is a verdict on eight years of failed economic policy espoused by the Bush Administration, a policy which John McCain supports, which is based mainly on "trickle-down economics."
2. McCain - "Obama voted to raise taxes 94 times. Look at the record, my friends."
Obama responds, "That's not true."
3. Obama - "I will give a tax cut to 95 percent of the American people. If you make $250,000 or less, you will see no tax increases."
4. McCain - "I will cut spending, my friends."
Obama - "So will I."
5. McCain - "Obama's health care plan is putting government in charge of the health care system, my friends."
Obama - "That's not true, and he's not your friend."
6. Obama - "We need to be energy independent."
McCain - "I agree, my friends."
7. McCain - "Obama hangs out with terrorists."
Obama - "I don't know what you're talking about, but if you're referring to Bill Ayers, I barely know the guy."
8. McCain - "Why won't Senator Obama say the surge succeeded? We have succeded in Iraq. We are succeeding. I've been to Iraq. I've talked to the soldiers. Their message to the people here is: 'Let us win.'"
Obama - "You said before the invasion of Iraq that we would be greeted as liberators."
McCain - "You voted against funding the troops."
Obama - "That's not true."
Moderator - "Time's up."
By now you are saying, wait a minute, you keep acting like there is actually going to be some discussion and possibly some debate during the "debate."
I know, I didn't really think it was going to happen that way, but who knows, maybe tonight we'll get lucky. All I really needed to say was, just watch either debate I or II and you will hear just about the same as you would in tonight's contest.
One thing's for sure, I'll be looking forward to SNL's rendition of the debate tomorrow night on NBC.
You might be more entertained if you watch this superb YouTube video.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Author of the week: Hooman Majd
Hooman Majd admits that he has repeated some hateful things in recent years, said James Toback in Interview. As an occasional live translator for Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the New York–based journalist parroted Ahmadinejad’s anti-Semitic conspiracy theories just last month. “It was hard to keep a straight face,” Majd wrote in Salon.com, when Ahmadinejad used a September U.N. speech to repeat claims from the long-discredited Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
But Majd claims that many Americans’ ideas about Ahmadinejad are wrong and that they spring from ignorance about Iran. Majd has aimed to bridge the divide with his first book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, a highly personal portrait of the country he was born in.
Majd’s work as a translator has given him a unique perspective on the Iranian president. Simply the fact that the regime lets him do it indicates a tolerance for differing opinions: The son of a pre-revolution Iranian diplomat, Majd is an open supporter of Ahmadinejad’s predecessor and political rival, Mohammad Khatami. But he defends Ahmadinejad on certain scores.
Majd says the man never claimed there were no homosexuals in Iran, as has been reported. “I can’t believe that was translated the way it was,” he says. What Ahmadinejad meant, Majd says, was that Iran has no open gay culture. As for the Ahmadinejad’s infamous declaration that Israel “must be wiped off the map,” Majd claims that the original Farsi implied no true threats. “Very few things a Persian says,” he adds, “should ever be taken literally.”
Monday, October 13, 2008
I know where I grew up, it was harder to find someone who wasn't doing drugs, or drinking beer every weekend, than the opposite. The high school where I did student teaching, there was a day care for kids who had been born to teenage mothers. Kids would come to class high. But it was in Wyoming, which was surprising. If we looked at the numbers, it wouldn't be surprising at all. The numbers are not that different from city to rural town.
Yet, Palin acts like she is better than the Washington "insiders" because she comes from a small town, and therefore can relate more to the average American, even though the average American (80% of them or thereabouts) doesn't come from the lifestyle she's trying to exhibit. Beyond that, many people seem to be glad to have a president or vice president with lower-than-average intelligence? Look at Bush, and look at Palin. I admit, all the candidates sound like robots, but why are we so averse to having an elite person become president? Why do we want an ordinary person? That's not to say someone can't come from a small-town setting and rise up to become an extraordinary candidate.
Well, I've spouted off long enough. Read on for the better information.
Palin's Small-Town Snobbery
By Steve Chapman
Americans disdain snobbery in all its forms except the most popular one: reverse snobbery. Joe Biden would never get up in front of a crowd and suggest that the citizens of Manhattan are morally superior to the residents of Possum Gulch, Ark. But Sarah Palin was happy to tell the Republican National Convention that the very best people come from the country.
"We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity and dignity," she declared, quoting the late journalist Westbrook Pegler. "They are the ones who do some of the hardest work in America, who grow our food, run our factories and fight our wars. They love their country, in good times and bad, and they're always proud of America." Not like those idle, insincere, lying city folks who dare to suggest that America can sometimes be wrong.
But no one seemed to take offense. The myth of rural virtue and urban vice is an old one in this country, and it persists no matter what the changes in the landscape. And whatever questions Palin may face in her debate with Biden, her paeans to small-town virtue aren't likely to be among them.
Most Americans, it seems, can tolerate hearing of the superiority of the small town, as long as they don't have to live in one. You wouldn't know it from listening to country music stations, or to the governor of Alaska, but four out of every five Americans choose not to reside in rural areas.
Maybe if they ventured beyond the city limits more often, those people would not be so inclined to believe everything they hear about the merits of rustic hamlets, which harbor a full complement of social ills.
Not everyone in rural America gets high on fresh air and the smell of new-mown hay. Illicit drugs are nearly as common out there as they are in cities and suburbs.
In 2007, a survey of 8th graders by the Monitoring the Future project at the University of Michigan found that country kids were 26 percent more likely to experiment with drugs than middle-schoolers elsewhere. Overall methamphetamine consumption among adults and teens is more than 50 percent higher in the country.
The story with alcohol is worse still. "Relative to their urban counterparts, rural youth ages 12 to 17 are significantly more likely to report consuming alcohol," says a 2006 study by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. Excessive boozing among adults, it noted, appears to be no less widespread in Mayberry than in Metropolis.
Nor is the countryside exempt from social problems often associated with the inner city -- such as, if you'll forgive me, out-of-wedlock births. The federal government apparently doesn't tabulate these births according to whether they occur in urban or rural areas. But it does break them down by state, and wide-open spaces are no guarantee of responsible sexual behavior.
The highest rates of births to unwed mothers are in Mississippi and New Mexico, both of which have high rural populations. The most urban states, New Jersey and California, do better than the average in out-of-wedlock births.
It's true that crime is much more common in the city than in the country. Is that because the sight of cattle grazing saps felonious impulses, or is it something else? Alfred Blumstein, a criminologist at Carnegie Mellon University, thinks the explanation is pretty simple. "It's a matter of social control," he says. "Small towns have networks of family and friends, and most everyone knows everyone else."
This deters crime in two ways. First, you don't want to damage your reputation among people who may ostracize you for doing wrong. Second, you don't want to rob someone who can easily identify you to police -- and in a small town, that limits your pool of victims. Crime is more common in cities because they offer a target-rich environment and much less chance of being spotted by someone who can tell the cops your name, address and 3rd-grade teacher.
One of these days, the 80 percent of Americans who live in more populated areas may tire of being obliquely insulted. Most urbanites and suburbanites don't think they're any better than their country cousins. But Palin might want to think twice before telling them they're worse.
Copyright 2008, Creators Syndicate Inc.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Yesterday I substitute taught, went to church to practice the organ, had a few bites of dinner, and then hopped on my bicycle again to ride over to 24-hour Fitness, where I have access to CNN for $29.00/month (since we don't have cable).
Why did I take this course of action? I think it might be because I have a crush. Don't tell. The guest scheduled to be on Larry King Live that night was Michelle Obama, Barack Obama's wife. By the way, just to be fair, I think Larry has a crush on her, too.
I have listened to the woman speak several times, and have always been impressed with her strength, and with her intelligence. I know there were one or two incidents where she supposedly "misspoke," or bashed white people and/or America. None of that really stuck in my mind, because I think she is a very talented, smart woman, and I took those controversies in the proper context.
Well, last night, she impressed me again. Mr. King continued baiting her, nudging her, trying to get her angry, or to talk about controversial things people had said recently. She didn't bite. She was respectful of John McCain, Cindy McCain, of Sarah Palin, of Hillary Clinton, etc. It was such a nice turn from the constant back-and-forth between the candidates.
The one line she kept giving Larry King is when she is out on the campaign trail, no one asks her questions about these fabricated controversies. And if you think about it, why would they? These are people who are worried about making ends meet. Maybe they've lost their job. Maybe they're worried about how they will provide nutritious food and adequate clothing for their children, as well as appropriate housing; being able to pay for the mortgage.
Why would they care if McCain referred to Obama as "that one?"
So Michelle Obama impressed me again. One of the other great things she said during the interview was when King asked her what she thought about Cindy McCain saying Obama's campaign is the dirtiest in U.S. history. Michelle said it's just not true, and her mother taught her, when something is not true, you just don't pay it any mind.
I have been impressed with the tone that Barack and Michelle have used throughout the majority of this presidential campaign. And in the context of the above comment, I think that is why John McCain is getting desperate now. He is flailing, he is kicking, he's throwing out any allegation or fabrication that he can think of to put a kink in Obama's armor. But none of it is sticking, since almost all of it is either misleading, or blatantly false.
Are Obama and McCain both politicians, both senators? Sure. Do they stretch the truth, and even border on lying, time and again? And I assure you, I don't like personal attacks, true or not. But McCain has been the dirtier player. Most of what Obama is saying about McCain is right on the money. Most of what McCain is saying about Obama is just to scare people into voting against the Illinois senator. That's why McCain is going to get hammered come election day. I mean that literally and figuratively. He has nothing to offer on immigration, on the war on terror, on the economy, on fixing America. All he has is a bunch of attempts to stir the people up against Obama. It hasn't worked for 18 months, and he is going down with a sinking ship.
It's disappointing to see so many support the dirtiest politician in the race - John McCain. But then again, they are the ones who supported George Walker Bush for president even though Bush viciously brought down McCain's campaign in 2000. They are the ones who stood by while John Kerry got swift-boated in 2004. I am proud to say I never voted for that man (Bush). But to each his own. I guess it doesn't matter how dirty a person is, if they can just get people to believe that the other guy is scarier. But while Cindy McCain is out stumping for her husband, calling Obama the dirtiest, Michelle Obama can just sit back and play nice, since her husband actually has a platform to run on.
Geez, and to think I am not even going to vote for Obama. Maybe I will vote for his wife.
P.S. I think it is funny that the founder of the organization of which Barack Obama and William Ayers were a part, is a John McCain-backer. So Obama's nearly non-existant association with a man makes him "terrorist's pal," but being endorsed by the person that more or less hired the same man, is just a-ok. But that's just the way things go, I guess, sort of like John McCain bashing Fannie and Freddie while his campaign manager is a former lobbyist for those buisinesses (making something to the tune of $2 million). Unlike most of what McCain says about Obama, that is a true fact.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Then they start blaming everyone else. John McCain is already acknowledging that if the debate centers on the economy, he will lose the election.
So he's starting to attack. Keep in mind, his personal attacks will be cloaked in broad, fuzzy terms, to make them sound less malicious. Meanwhile, his surrogates will call Obama a terrorist, a Muslim, the n-word, or make up whatever false claims necessary to scare the American people.
Notice how McCain's big line is, "We don't know enough about Obama." Nevermind Obama has answered any and all the questions we supposedly don't know about him, and if you have an Internet connection, and a pulse, you can find them. Regardless, people will say they are not prejudiced, they are only voting for McCain because Obama has a scary name. Nope, no prejudice there.
Then there's the Ayers connection. For that, I turn to Media Matters, one of my favorite sites, because Bill O'Reilly hates them so much.
On October 4, The New York Times published a 2,140-word front-page article about Sen. Barack Obama's association with former Weather Underground member William Ayers -- at least the 18th Times article this year mentioning that association. But the Times has yet to mention, let alone devote an entire article to, Sen. John McCain's relationship with radio host and convicted Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy. Indeed, in its October 4 article, the Times quoted Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman denouncing Obama's association with Ayers but did not note that Chapman has described Liddy as McCain's "own Bill Ayers" and has written that "[i]f Obama needs to answer questions about Ayers, McCain has the same obligation regarding Liddy." The Times, moreover, quoted McCain criticizing Obama for his association with Ayers without noting that Chapman has faulted McCain for what Chapman described as McCain's "howling hypocrisy on the subject."
As Media Matters for America has noted, Liddy served four and a half years in prison in connection with his conviction for his role in the Watergate break-in and the break-in at the office of the psychiatrist of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Liddy has acknowledged preparing to kill someone during the Ellsberg break-in "if necessary"; plotting to murder journalist Jack Anderson; plotting with a "gangland figure" to murder Howard Hunt to stop him from cooperating with investigators; plotting to firebomb the Brookings Institution; and plotting to kidnap "leftist guerillas" at the 1972 Republican National Convention -- a plan he outlined to the Nixon administration using terminology borrowed from the Nazis. (The murder, firebombing, and kidnapping plots were never carried out; the break-ins were.) During the 1990s, Liddy reportedly instructed his radio audience on multiple occasions on how to shoot Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents and also reportedly said he had named his shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Liddy has donated $5,000 to McCain's campaigns since 1998, including $1,000 in February 2008. In addition, McCain has appeared on Liddy's radio show during the presidential campaign, including as recently as May. An online video labeled "John McCain On The G. Gordon Liddy Show 11/8/07" includes a discussion between Liddy and McCain, whom Liddy described as an "old friend." During the segment, McCain praised Liddy's "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great," said he was "proud" of Liddy, and said that "it's always a pleasure for me to come on your program."
Additionally, in 1998, Liddy reportedly held a fundraiser at his home for McCain. Liddy was reportedly scheduled to speak at another fundraiser for McCain in 2000. The Charlotte Observer reported on January 23, 2000, that McCain's campaign vouched for Liddy's "character."
However, I've learned long ago, that if you're a terrorist, that's all there is to it. If you're NOT a terrorist, as I'm sure Liddy is NOT in the mind of conservatives, because they agree with his views, then you can plot to kill people, bomb things, and imply shooting a president and his wife (if they are democrats). That still doesn't make you a terrorist.
On the other hand, if you ARE a terrorist, then no matter what you say or do, you ARE a terrorist. That labeling reflex in conservatives is just so powerful and strong.
Finally, there's the Keating scandal, which we will need to examine more in the coming days.Meanwhile, be wary. Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, your mom, they're all going to be making greater and greater fabrications about Obama.
I will never be able to make this point the way I would like: is it about Obama? Or is it about, how can I trust someone who lies about another candidate just to win an election. I am almost certainly not voting for Obama. I'm just trying to show how hypocritical the far-right are in their characterizations. They'll vote for McCain because he's the "lesser of two evils." Meanwhile, they swallow all kinds of garbage just to be able to do so. First and foremost, they've elected a dishonest person.
But Republicons will respond, Obama is dishonest, too, and I'm sure he is. Then the party of responsibility will blame having to vote for McCain on Obama. The party of responsibility will blame the bad economy on the democrats. The party of responsibility will blame Bush's low approval ratings on the biased left-wing media. How responsible of them. Vote for a liar, support a liar (Bush), but always put the blame elsewhere.
The party of responsibility can't even defend McCain. All they can say is, his policies are better than Obama's. Well, let me tell you, I suck at basketball, but I am WAY better than my two-year old. So I guess I'm pretty dang awesome.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Take this excerpt from a recent column written by the conservative Kathleen Parker:
When Couric pointed to polls showing that the financial crisis had boosted Obama's numbers, Palin blustered wordily: "I'm not looking at poll numbers. What I think Americans at the end of the day are going to be able to go back and look at track records and see who's more apt to be talking about solutions and wishing for and hoping for solutions for some opportunity to change, and who's actually done it?" If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.
McCain has nothing left. So he's going to start the "swift-boat" attacks. I suggest you look up McCain-Liddy, or McCain-Keating on google, so you can be "fair and balanced."
Jon Stewart takes Congress to task for taking two weeks to pass an emergency bill, and congratulating themselves for it. Gosh, he's good.
Friday, October 3, 2008
What was it that made the difference between Monday and Friday? Surely there are a variety of explanations, but I'm sure none are more useful than the fact that the Senate happened to tack on about $150 billion more in tax breaks for special interests. That's right. "We have no money, the economy is broken, we don't like this bill one bit, but as long as we're signing a bill we dislike, we might as well reward ourselves $150 billion for it."
The American People were opposed to the bill on Monday, and I am sure they are not much less opposed to it today. Yet the representatives of the people went ahead and passed the bill anyway. That's how democracy works today.
How did we get to this point? How have we let secret combinations get above us, even among the highest seats of our country's government? It's an easy answer, except no one wants to admit - we are all seduced. We have been deceived for too long.
I just finished reading a short book by Rick Shengkman called, "Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter." It is nothing spectacular, but it does point out a few very true observations. For one, the founding fathers and other great leaders of our country feared that our democracy, our republic, could not stand, if the people were too much concerned with consumerism.
Here, I would say almost all of us, are guilty. And we have been seduced to a degree that we scarcely comprehend. The computers, the cars, the homes, the video games, the satellite dishes, the cell phones, the clothes, fast food, Starbucks, and on and on.
We have been seduced to believe that possessing more and more of these things will make us more and more happy. We have been seduced into believing we should have every convenience we should ever desire. We want to drive our car, anywhere, anytime, and we want gas prices low. We want to buy a home that is bigger than we can afford, and when we can't make the payments, we want government to come to the rescue.
We have been seduced to believe that our appearance, especially what we wear, gives us our status, our position in the world. We have been seduced to believe we don't have time to worry about politics, or other matters of utmost importance, but we do have time to watch every episode of "American Idol," or "The Office," or seven football games a week, or fantasy football. We have been deceived to believe we must be entertained as much as humanly possible.
But the most damning fact of all, is we have been seduced to believe we have NOT been seduced. We look over at Joe Blow down the street, and say, "Hey, I'm living a lot more modest life than him, I'm doing pretty good. I KNOW material things won't make me a happier person."
Then we get in our car, and work and work, to pay for those things, many of which we have been seduced into buying on credit, because we do not even have the means to buy them outright.
We have been told that the only way to have normal children is to put them in public schools. We have been told that if the government doesn't take care of us, we will not be able to survive.
We have been deceived to believe that we have two distinct, fundamentally different political parties, who are both concerned for Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so on main street. Yet, the parties are hardly different, and when the elections are over, the policies will continue to support rich, corrupt, Wall Street plunderers. With the presidential election, it is not the lesser of two evils. It is a lose-lose for all of us.
We look around the world, and we assume that no one is as free, or as fortunate as us. So, we think "yeah, our leaders are corrupt and sleazy, but it could be worse." What a contemptable statement. We have responsibility to change the situation, to fight the evil that has gotten above us. But we excuse our inaction, so we won't feel guilty for not doing our part.
The Prophet Moroni spoke of our time: Ether 8: 24-25
24 "Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.
25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
We have been grossly irresponsible, because we, for the most part, have been lulled to sleep, again and again. We have had people among us who have tried to warn us of these evils in our time. If we haven't stoned them literally, we have stoned them with our indifference, and with our self-satisfaction. We have often cast them out, insomuch as we have ignored what they have tried to tell us.
The bailout bill is only one of the many examples that have come over the years. It is emblematic of the greed, the deception, and the evil, that goes on in our own goverment. While we fight wars abroad, spending billions of dollars, our leaders lead us to believe we are motivated by God-given democracy.
Meanwhile, every day they usurp more and more power; they take away more and more freedoms, and they demolish our democracy at home. It is time to heed Moroni's counsel, and wake up. We have been asleep - and deceived - for far too long.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
And if you can explain how she has foreign policy experience because she is next to Russia and Canada in Alaska, in a way that sounds less retarded, please do so.
This explains why Tina Fey has become my new hero. They can do Sarah Palin sketches up until the election, or until McCain kicks her off the ticket, because Palin is going to sink him.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Facebook and Twitter: The new pornography
“Americans are now more interested in social networks than pornography,” said Robert Cringely in Infoworld.com. “No, that is not a typo.” For as long as there has been a World Wide Web, eyeballing porn has been far and away the most popular activity on the Internet. No longer. Self-described “data geek” Bill Tancer contends in a new book that surfing for porn has dropped from 20 percent of all Internet searches a decade ago to 10 percent today, while traffic on networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is soaring. Skeptics note that porn consumers no longer need search engines to find sites featuring sexual content—that’s what bookmarks are for. But I’d argue that Tancer is missing another key point: For most young people today, “social networks are pornography. Have you seen some of those profiles?”
It’s not just the bra and underwear photos that make the networking sites pornographic, said Eric Adler in The Kansas City Star. To an obscene degree, they are “self-absorbed and narcissistic.” Millions of young people spend hours a day checking out their friends’ profiles while obsessively updating their own profiles with new photos, along with the most mundane of tidbits—from what they ate for lunch to the song they’re listening to that very moment. Never in history has there been so much “self-documentation,” and it’s having a profound impact on how people relate. “Today,” says Stanford University’s B.J. Fogg, “if you choose not to do Facebook in college, you have all but chosen to be a social isolate.”
To people over 30, said Clive Thompson in The New York Times Magazine, “the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd.” Yet experiencing it, as I recently did, changes your perspective entirely. While all those individual factoids are petty on their own, “taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends and family members’ lives—like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting.” At the same time, “the act of stopping several times a day to observe what you’re feeling or thinking can become, after weeks and weeks, a sort of philosophical act.” That’s certainly a high-minded way of looking at “la vida Facebook,” said Chuck Crowder in the Chattanooga, Tenn., Pulse. You could also just say that Facebook is so successful for the same reason that porn always has been: “We’re all voyeurs.”
Friday, September 26, 2008
I have had a thousand questions going through my head. If anyone would like to answer any of them, feel free?
1. How much do we have to lose before we stop trusting our politicians? How long before we stop saying, "Well...er, um...I think they have our best interests at heart."? How much do they have to screw up before we say that maybe it's more by design that just simple "incompetence?"
2. Why, why would you trust those who are responsible for the mess to then take your money and do something logical to clean up the mess? [No, it is not "big business" or "Wall Street" that are the only ones responsible. Yes, there are a lot of crooks. But what can we say for our representatives that knew it was going on for years - decades - and looked the other way?]
3. Why are you so afraid of Barack Obama, worried about what he can do with the economy? Aren't you more concerned about President Bush, the man you probably voted for, who has screwed up the economy more than anyone since the GREAT DEPRESSION? Why do you think this man is so much more virtuous than Obama?
4. Why will you vote for John McCain, not to vote for him, but to vote against Obama?
Why do I even have to bring Obama up? As someone in a forum I frequent said, "Would you like Amahlakiah, or Gadianton?"
5. Why do you support the war on terror? Another worthwhile quote, which I am unsure to whom I should attribute it: President Bush, and our Congress have done what 19 terrorists could not do, completely bring the U.S. economy to its knees. How much more damage do they have to do before you wake up and realize we are being destroyed from within, not by Osama bin Laden or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
6. How long will you support troops in Iraq? How many trillions of dollars are you willing to spend while our economy is sputtering to a hault? How many more wars will the U.S. have to declare preemptively? How many more lives are you willing to see die for lies?
7. How do you not see the parallels? The Patriot Act was passed behind closed doors, in a time of unprecedented fear among everyone in this country. It is unconstitutional, and is an attack on the people. But how could you be against it? After all, it's called the "Patriot Act!" How long will you be seduced? Why do you think they are changing the name of their plan from "bailout" to "rescue?"
Just a few things to think about. Again, I iterate, and reiterate, we are all seduced at one level or another. It will be a long journey to wake up and stand up against the forces that have taken over so much of our government, and country. But choosing to be seduced when one knows better, is, in my estimation, a great sin. I cannot stay silent any longer. You may choose to go to sleep. You may choose to listen to what the mainstream-in-the-pockets-of-Washington-politicians-media are telling you.
I am going to do what it takes to start throwing off the chains.