31 October 2004

Time for a guest speaker

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#3 We love you.  Really, we do

Well, I'm down to the last three reasons why the nation has to deny the re-election of George W. Bush.  I'm actually pretty beat.  It takes a lot to come up with reasons to be so adamant about why a change is needed.  I have to write two more of these before Tuesday.  And it's Halloween, the doorbell keeps ringing...

I tell you what, I am going to let someone else write this entry.  It seems that I've caused a stir in the local Republican circle here, and they have been urging equal time.  I actually have a few friends who are Republicans, and I am going to let one of them take care of the rest of this entry.

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome my very dear friend, Gabriel Oscar Phelps.  I know you will listen to what he has to say.

Thanks.  I am here tonight to tell you that while I like Jim as a friend, he doesn't know squat when it comes to politics.  He's spent the last week or so detailing all the reasons why he feels our glorious President doesn't deserve re-election, and I'm worried that you have all been misinformed.  It's a shame, really, but after spending the day in a bunker sitting in on several high level meetings my republican cronies and I believe we can refute all Jim has had to say on issues such as the economy, the war in Iraq, and (say it with me) values.  Instead of addressing each issue separately, we feel it is better to lump it all together.  So without further ado, let me tell you why we, the Republicans, are better for you and why you should re-elect the President:

We are on your side.  Really.  I know that sometimes it doesn't seem like it, especially when we concentrate our tax breaks on the wealthiest people in the nation, but everyone forgets that we have to keep the people who sell yachts, sports cars and country club memberships happy too.  Remember that we practice "trickle down economics."  That means when we make sure rich people have more money, it will trickle down eventually to the middle and lower classes.

Mind you, we never said "it" was money.  Surely something will trickle down on you.  Just make sure you clean it up before we step in it.

Anyway, as I was saying, we Republicans know that under George W. Bush the nation has enjoyed a wonderful last four years.  So many wonderful things have happened.  For example, do you know that if I worked for the Homeland Security department I could have a record of every book you've checked out of the library this year?  That I could have access to every financial transaction you've made?  The list of things that I could find out that are really none of my business is contained in a great piece of paper called The Patriot Act.  Actually, it's more like 600 pieces of paper, but all the same, it does a great job at protecting our country from the likes of, well...you!  It's important that we know when you checked out "Sally Has Two Mommies" from the library because that's the kind of thing that terrorists do right before they attack our country, those evildoers!

Yep, the Patriot Act (don't you just love the name?  We can label anyone who doesn't like it as being "Un-patriotic"-Brilliant!) is just as an important piece of paper (there I go again...) as the Constitution.  Hopefully we will get our way sometime in the next decade and get John Ashcroft on the two-dollar bill replacing Thomas Jefferson.

So far I've told you how lucky you all are because we have made sure that the rich get richer and we can knowingly spy on our own people.  While I am sure most of you think that's good enough, I have to tell you that I have even more wonderful reasons for you to go to the polls and make sure that President Bush stays in power, um, I mean office, on Tuesday.

Did you know that God is on our side?  It's true, because the President told us himself.  He talks to him all the time.  God put the President in the White House because he knew that if He didn't, our society would descend into moral ambiguity and social disgrace.  Thank God (no pun intended) for this.  Because of God, the president was able to make sure that abstinence was the only government supported sex education program.  We are well on our way to ensuring that only married people ever have sex, because that's the way it should be.  Republicans NEVER have sex unless they are married.  Even then they only do with the lights off and the door locked.  That'sthe right way to treat sexuality, and anyone who doesn't follow that deserves to have a child out of wedlock.  Sure, we could improve our social programs and make sure that education and job assistance are available in places where it's needed, but everybody knows that that is just another name for welfare, and we certainly don't want that.

So let me quickly review: we expect that you won't have sex unless you are married.  To make it an incentive, we'll fund abstinence-only programs.  We'll chastise you to the ends of the Earth if you even think about having an abortion.  If you even think the words "partial-birth" we will pass a law and make sure that when the President signs it that the photo op has only men in it.  We will not do anything we can to make sure that every US citizen has access to good medical care, because that's another form of welfare.  Even writing those words makes my skin crawl.

The "Best of Sean Hannity" is coming on the radio in a few minutes so I have to wrap this up, but before I do, let me tell you about the wonderful things we do for business, and how it all ties in with the other things I have spoken about.  Have you had to get a prescription filled lately?  I hope you had good insurance, because if you didn't, you probably didn't eat for a day or two.  We want to make sure that the companies who manufacture the drugs make as much money as they can, because they need to do "research" into other drugs (and pay for medical conferences in the tropics).  It's imperative that the drug companies make as much profit as possible, because a lot of the CEO's have vacation homes in Kennebunkport.  I'm just kidding.  The homes are really in places like Aspen and Vail.  It's actually very difficult to make that type of decision-cheaper drugs or profits for big drug companies?  When we have a hard time making a decision, we just favor whoever has more money.  We did do something for senior citizens though, by passing a drug benefit to Medicare.  It's not easy to understand and there are more than sixty plans to choose from, but you said you wanted action.  You didn't say anything about it being simple.

We've had to make tough decisions with other companies as well.  We really struggled with the Halliburton issue.  HA!  I almost said that with a straight face.  Vice-President Cheney used to be the CEO of this company, so if there's a company that we can allow to rip off the federal government in the name of rebuilding Iraq, this would be it.  We are very proud to be financing Dick's stock options.  Can you imagine the language he'd use if we said no?  I laugh when people say that it is a conflict of interest to give guaranteed no-bid contracts to this company, like it's as immoral as the stuff Martha Stewart thought she would get away with.  Who does she think she is, Enron?

Well, it has been awfully nice of Jim to let me have this time to convince you that the Republicans know what's best for you.  I know that many of you will support the President now on Tuesday.  To tell you the truth, we're kind of worried about the whole election, but I think we have come up with a good plan to make sure the nation stays in our hands.  See, we don't really care if you vote, we care that you don't vote for a Democrat.  That's why we spread misinformation in places like the inner city, when we have people sent out flyers saying that to be allowed to vote, you have to clear a police check.  That's why we have tried to purge thousands of people from voter registration lists in places like Florida because we can't be sure that they are not convicted felons.  And did you see what we did in Michigan and Ohio this week?  We got the courts to agree that if for some reason you go to the wrong place to vote that your vote won't be counted.  We think it's like being a German citizen and going to vote in Poland.  We only want about half the people who are eligible to vote to actually vote, because history tells us that when a lot of people vote, we lose.  That's especially true when a lot of people vote who don't happen to be rich and white.  We'd rather win elections where only about 20% of the population voted, rather than lose an election where just about everyone who could actually voted. 

I'm sure win or lose on Tuesday that we'll be in court for a while.  If we win, those whiny Democrats will want recounts and we need to make sure that OUR trial lawyers do the right thing.  If we lose, we'll be in courts everywhere, because we don't lose.  God told us that.

I'm sure Jim will have another message or two before the election about how bad we are.  Go easy on him.  He's a nice guy, just misguided.  I'm sure that he'll come over to our side soon.

I know what's best for him.  I'm a Republican!


Gabriel Oscar Phelps



This is very, very interesting.

In a nutshell, it appears that the winner of the presidential election Tuesday will be decided at FedEx Field in Washington DC this afternoon, when the Redskins take on the Green Bay Packers.

The Redskins have been in Washington since 1936.  There have been  sixteen presidential elections since then.  A definite pattern exists between how the Redskins fare at their last home game before the election.

If the 'Skins win, the party that currently holds the White House will win and keep the presidency.

If the 'Skins lose, the party that currently holds the White House will lose, and the challenging party wins the presidency.

It has happened every single time since the Redskins have been playing in Washington.  If you had placed a bet solely on this theory, you'd be riding a 64 year winning streak.

In even simpler terms:

Redskins win today=Bush re-elected Tuesday

Redskins lose today=Kerry defeats Bush Tuesday

With 6 minutes left in the first quarter, it's Green Bay 3, Washington 0.

All I can say is:







30 October 2004

One wall that needs to be rebuilt

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#4 Step away from the Burning Bush

History lesson: in 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.  The primary reason for them leaving their homeland for this new world was officially described as "religious freedom."  The Pilgrims didn't want to belong to the Church of England.  England didn't want any other religions in its country.  Faced with persecution, the Pilgrims hopped aboard the Mayflower and eventually reached what is present day Massachusetts.

The first non-native settlers of the land we call America felt that people should have a choice of devoting themselves to the best religion that they saw fit their lifestyle.  They may have been just a bit obsessive about witches, but they believed in religious freedom.

Everyone knows that the very first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America entitles all of its citizens to free speech, but how many know the first line of this amendment?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

In 1802, President Thomas Jefferson referred to this as a "wall of separation":

"...I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State..."

And in 1810 President James Madison said this:

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

(If you so choose, you can read about the introduction of the principle of separation of church and state here.  The previous cited examples are from this page.)

Jefferson and Madison knew that a country that becomes just a little too devoted to God has the potential to become a dangerous land.

It is difficult to imagine a President, or a candidate for President, making such statements today.

Religion has to be thediciest topic there is, especially in the realm of public discourse.  People tend to get a little emotional about it.  My personal experiences with religion lead me to believe that it is far too public.  Whether or not one chooses to believe in God is between each individual and the God that potentially does or does not exist.

Many would make the argument that religions were established to give life a meaning, to explain why we die, and to give us a purpose to live as best we can, so that we may receive whatever reward lies after this.

And while it seems like religion is talked about all the time, it also seems like society never talks about death.  It should probably be reversed.  We are all going to experience death.  The same cannot necessarily be said about religion.

I respect views on religion that are alternative from my own.  I am not an atheist, yet I respect those that are.  I respect religions different from my own and the customs and celebrations that come with it.  I do not believe in forcing religious views upon others.  Society has had enough inquisitions in its time.  People make choices as they see fit.

It is far to say that both Republican and Democratic presidents in recent time have been a little too chatty with the public on religion.  I have no problem with seeing a president walking out of a church after mass, but I don't think spiritual guidance should be a factor whether one is seeking to minimize the damage of an affair with an intern (how's the ticker, Bill?) or in the daily aspects of decision making.

I sometimes confuse President Bush for the Pope, which is a huge mistake on my part, not the least bit being that I know he is not Catholic.  For four years we have been bombarded with piety from Bush, whether in his born-again lifestyle or in his faith-based policies.  The President wears his faith on his sleeve, and yet he does things at times that one could consider just a little un-Godly.  War comes to mind, and I do believe pride is one of the seven deadly sins.  This president has enough pride to fill oceans.

It doesn't bother me when the President says that he talks to God, however it bothers me greatly when he says that God talks to him.  It's been said that George Bush truly believes that God selected him to be President at this time because He knows Bush is the right man to face the forces of evilthat are an everyday threat to us in the modern world.  Supposedly, God told this to George Bush. 

If God did indeed choose Bush, how does the President feel about those that do not believe there is a God?  Is he morally obligated to care about them, to do anything to help them, if they reject the deity that placed Bush in this scenario?  Religion, like philosophy, generally cannot be proven.  Legislation can.

Like it or not, there are many political issues that take on a religious tone, things that were not considered or done back in the late 1700's when this country was founded.  Abortion, stem cell research, the death penalty, gay rights-all hot button issues with religious (though normally disguised under the cloak of "moral") aspects.

Everything in this administration trickles back down to God.  You have leaders of faith-based money making "organizations", men like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who heap praise upon praise on the GOP while sniping at the Democrats.  Pat Robertson is another man who believes that George Bush has been chosen by God to lead America, while I have heard Falwell say on his many appearances on political news shows that he "shudders to think where the country would be if Al Gore had been elected President."

And let's not forget the duet performance of Robertson and Falwell after 9/11, when they blamed "the abortionists, the homosexuals" for the terrorist attacks, that it was a message from God for us to change our ways.

I'm thinking that these men, and all of the other religious organizations in this country, enjoy April.  When the rest of the nation sweats over their tax forms, they remember their exempt status, since the Constitution calls for the separation of Church and State.  Structurally, there is nothing wrong with that.  Religious organizations and churches normally depend on donations for their income and thus should be exempt from turning it over as tax revenues.

Yet I notice that this tax-exempt status does not stop some of them from shilling for the Republicans, or even making endorsements.

We have Catholic bishops proclaiming that they will not give communion to pro-choice candidates.  Some have gone as far as to say that to vote for any candidate who supports choice is to commit a sin.

Not long ago, I wrote about how a local Catholic parish in my hometown rubbed me the wrong way with an abortion protest, how I felt that it was a blatant endorsement of the Republicans.

If you are not providing the government with a share of its revenues, you have no business getting involved in political affairs.  Telling me that I am committing a sin in the eyes of God because I may vote for a Democrat borders on slander. 

I have an idea.  Maybe we could build a dual-purpose booth, one that is twice as big as a normal booth, enclosed by four walls and a door.  There would also need to be a sliding partition in the middle of the booth.  On election day, after you vote, you can slide the wall back, and there will be a priest sitting there next to an empty chair, waiting to hear your confession.

The states in the so called "Bible Belt" are red states.  Mickey Mouse could be the GOP candidate and the color of those states would not change. 

And in some of those states, support for a shaky war, where innocent people die, is strong.  Some of those states have executed "criminals" who have later been exonerated by newly discovered evidence.  It's hard to dig somebody up to give them the news that they are innocent, that is was all one big mistake.  To be fair, this happens in blue states too.

The President can't be blamed entirely for this attitude, this selective religious conscious that is so rampant in politics today.  But he can be held responsible when he blatantly panders to the extreme parts of his party, the section of folks who believe homosexuals are evil and will destroy us, along with the heathens who do not believe in God.

We are fighting a war against radical Islam now, and I see it for what it is.  We have an enemy that is using religion as an excuse to try to kill us.  I have no problem with that, those types of abuses are reprehensible and need to be eliminated.  But we can't have a nation that uses its religious freedom as a way to say that we are better than everyone else, including those that live here but do not believe in the same things, or practice the same lifestyles.

I have felt for much of the last four years that since I do not agree with some of these religious ideals, that I am not as concerned for as other parts of the electorate are.

From the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truthsto be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Maybe Bush has a point.  Maybe God does talk to us.  In fact, I think I can hear God saying something to me now:

"I'm God, and I approved this message."


29 October 2004

Ice tea and a sweet roll, please

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#5 It's still the economy, and he's stupid

Four years ago, one of the hot button issues of the Bush-Gore race was what to do with the budget surplus that had developed through the Clinton years.  In 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected, the country was in a deficit situation.  It took about six years for the deficit to be eliminated, and for the rest of the decade there was an actual surplus.

Both Bush and Gore had different ideas for what to do about the deficit.  Gore planned to apply it to Social Security; Bush felt that since a surplus was due to increased government revenues, a tax cut was the answer.  Bush won the election, and pushed for a cut immediately.

Republicans pride themselves as being "fiscal conservatives."  They believe in less government spending and frequently use the promise of a tax cut in campaigns to get their candidates into office.  Hard working Americans like to hear that they are going to get a tax cut.  However, when taxes are cut, revenues fall, and that means that there is less funding for programs across the board.  The government is then faced with tough decisions; do they raise taxes or do they cut programs?

9 times out of 10, they cut programs.  In the past, programs in education, the environment and health care have received significant cuts.  Programs that rarely receive cuts are those involving defense.

President Bush was able to get his tax cut plan passed by Congress shortly after his election.  Ironically, when he signed the bill there was not a banner behind him that said "Mission Accomplished." 

I described the benefits of the tax cuts previously, but to sum it up shortly, a great percentage of the cuts went to the people in this country that make the most money.  While everyone who pays taxes received a cut, the wealthy received the greatest benefit by far. 

Whether you agree with the cuts are not, it is a fact that these cuts meant that the government had less revenues than before the election of George W. Bush.  I'm all for fiscal restraint as long as it makes sense.  There is always going to be a need for money as far as the federal government is concerned.  People want roads and other services.  If you are going to cut taxes, why not make sure that those who need it the most receive it?

When Bush took office, the economy was in a mild decline.  Most economists agree that this was a normal adjustment from the high level economic success of the 1990's.  In the first eight months of the Bush presidency, the economy remained stagnant, and reports of increasing job loss became public. 

Then the country was attacked on 9/11, and like just about every aspect of our lives, the economy seemed less important than it was on 9/10.  No one is going to argue about the pros and cons of tax cuts when the country has been attacked.  In the aftermath of 9/11 the country went to war.  In defense of the President, wars play havoc with a federal budget.  You can plan for military spending, but you can't anticipate a war.

What this meant was that the budget surplus that was a popular topic in the 2000 campaign was a thing of the past.  It had started to disappear before 9/11 because of the lessening of revenue, but no one talked about that after the war began.  By the end of 2001, the United States was back in a deficit situation.  The economy suffered greatly after 9/11.  The airline industry almost went under, as people scaled back their travels, unsure if it was safe to fly.  Business travel was also heavily reduced.  These problems snowballed into other areas, and as a result many people lost their jobs.

Independent of other issues, I did not feel that the President was to blame for the economic problems facing the country at the beginning of 2002.  There was a war to finance; the prospect of increasing job loss had people curtailing their spending.  It was difficult to imagine it getting worse, and in a time like this, the country needed a leader with a plan.

Bush's plan was to pretend that nothing was wrong.

In times of war, the people of this nation have been asked to sacrifice.  If soldiers are dying in faraway places to protect our safety and freedom, it's the least the people can do.  Franklin Roosevelt was a master at getting people to realize that war brings times of sacrifice.  His leadership during World War II is the example for how a wartime president should behave.

I have said many, many times that I would have developed the utmost respect for President Bush if he had said something like this to the nation before submitting his budget in the winter of 2002:

"My fellow Americans, in 2000 you elected me partially because I pledged to give every American a tax cut.  We successfully implemented these cuts in the summer of 2001.  At that time, we anticipated that these cuts would stimulate the economy through increased disposable income.  As we are all aware, our country changed on 9/11 when we were viciously attacked, and as a result we are now at war against terror.  We have thousands of brave soldiers fighting and dying in Afghanistan to keep us safe from further forces of evil.  War is brutal in many ways, and it brings unplanned expenses that further bend the binds of our federal budget.  As Commander-In-Chief, I have asked the service people of this great country to sacrifice; many have left their families to go overseas.  Unfortunately some have already paid the ultimate sacrifice; they have died fighting for their country.  Before we can be assured that our country is safe from terror, more of our brave soldiers will most likely pay this sacrifice.  At this time, I am asking that every American realize that war is a time for all citizens to sacrifice, and I am taking the initiative to suspend the tax cuts that were implemented last summer so that we may apply this money to the war effort.  I know that this may be an unpopular decision, but it is the right decision.  Our troops need to be fully equipped in order to properly defend ourselves from terror, and this is the only responsible way of making sure that this occurs."

Can you imagine how blown away we would have been by this? 

Instead, the President continued to bleat on about how great the tax cuts were, and how the economy was going to turn.  And he started another war.  Every three months or so, the President went to Congress and asked for billions of dollars for the war effort.  How can you refuse that?  It is vital that enough funding by available to support our soldiers.  Billions of money went to the war, and the deficit grew larger and larger.

Meanwhile, under President Bush, more jobs have been lost than under any other president.  He refuses to acknowledge this.  He also ignores the fact that more and more companies take advantage of tax loopholes that allow them to outsourcemore jobs to foreign countries.

The country, at present time, has the largest federal budget deficit in its history.  Spending under this president is out of control.  Certain programs have suffered greatly for this, and to keep them going, the citizens of the country have to pay for it.  An example is Medicare.  Premiums for this service will increase 17% next year under legislation that the President wanted.  Meanwhile, there is no money for health care, Social Security has not been addressed, and the job market is still struggling.  All Bush has said about this is that things are looking up.  He has not made any economic mistakes.  He ignores the projected deficits of the next few years, deficits that will set records for size.

Here's something the President said today in Michigan, according to the New York Times:

    "I understand there are some people hurting in Michigan, but that's not a reason to go back to tax and spend," the president said. "The best way to make sure people can find work is to continue to promote a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-small business economic policy, which is what we have done. Our economy is strong and it is getting stronger."  Mr. Bush tried to turn around criticism by his opponent that his policies would burden future generations with the bill because of the growing deficit.  "The role of a president is to confront problems, not to pass them on to future generations and future presidents," Mr. Bush said. "That is how I have led and that is how I will continue to lead our great nation. We will keep your taxes low so this economy continues to grow."

Is he insane?  All Bush has done in the last two years is create problem after problem that cannot possibly be cleaned up if he were to be in office for the next ten years.  The people of this country will be paying off Bush's budget deficit for many years.  His statement of not passing anything on to future presidents is the single dumbest thing I have ever heard him say.

This Republican president is not a Republican when it comes to fiscal responsibility.  It is amusing to hear him label John Kerry as a "tax and spend liberal" when he refuses to comprehend that he is a "spend and spend" conservative.  I can't really call him that, because there is supposed to be no such thing.  I don't know what to call him-a spending conservidiot?  If Bush loses next week, much of the reason will be that there are true conservatives who recognize that he has no idea how to run a federal budget.  He is not a fiscal conservative, and some true conservatives have problems supporting him because of it.

There is simply no excuse for the state of the economy as it is today.  It has been proven in the last twenty years that deficits can be controlled no matter what the condition as long as there is a committed effort to do it.  It's been achieved through bipartisan work.  The President refuses to see this.  He warns of economic disaster if the country elects John Kerry, yet he doesn't realize that he has brought economic disaster to all but the wealthiest of people here.

If you aren't one of the wealthy in this nation, the President has set you adrift in a leaky lifeboat.  When this is pointed out to him, he tosses a bucket, with a rusted out bottom.

Enjoy your swim.


28 October 2004

A timely waste of time

It's worth trying this game for the sound effects alone.


My, my, my

I just spent a few moments staring at the cover of a newspaper.  Try it yourself and see if it makes sense.

All I can say is that it's about time.  It's about time that at least one of the long suffering pods of baseball fans finally gets to scream in ecstasy as they realize a long awaited dream.  This is not a drill.

The Boston Red Sox have finally won a World Series.

Personally, I don't know anybody who is 86 years old.  I know a lot of people, but no one who has been alive since 1918.  That's how old you have to be, tonight, to have been alive the last time the Red Sox won it all.  Of course, you have to be a little bit older than 86 to actually remember it.

The Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in a four game sweep to win the title.  The Cardinals, the team with the best record during the regular season, were no match for Boston.

As fate would have it, the two Cardinal fans in my life are here in Chicago on this monumental night.  Contrary to popular belief, I do feel for them.  A little.  My brother-in-law is old enough to remember the Cardinals winning it all in 1982.  At least he has that.  My nephew only recently became a fan of the Redbirds.  He needs to go through a lot more heartbreak before I can truly feel sorry for him.  He's 18.  He'll get over it.

We removed all of the sharp objects from the house earlier today so that neither of them could do anything they might regret later if the Cardinals lost tonight.  Fred and Red can take solace that they were at Busch Stadium last week when the Cardinals beat Houston in game seven of the National League Championship Series to advance to the World Series.

You'll always have Staunton, boys.

Enough about the team that did not win the World Series tonight.

86 years was the third longest running title drought in baseball.  The second current longest is 87.  The current longest is 96.  As fate would have it, both droughts belong to Chicago.  The White Sox last won it all in 1917.  For the Cubs, it's been zippo since 1908.  And the rest of this entry ain't about the White Sox.

96 freakin' years.  That's a long, long time.  If she were still alive, my grandmother would be celebrating her 100th birthday two days after my wedding next April.

She was 3 when the Cubs won the World Series last.  I was still 59 years from birth.

Since 1908, Pluto has finished about one third of its orbit around the sun.  

As a true baseball fan, I am happy to see Boston win.  I'm happy for the people who root for the Red Sox as passionately as I root for the Cubs.  I am happy for the people who tonight finally realized that they indeed have seen the Red Sox win it all before they have died.  I am happy for Bill Buckner, who was a Cub long before he entered baseball lore by making an error that technically did not cost the Red Sox the title in 1986 anyway.  I am happy that a team that plays in as cozy and magical a stadium as Fenway Park will be able to hang a banner somewhere that says "World Champions" on it.  These are all reasons that I can say I could use if it were the Cubs instead of the Red Sox.

I have been a Cubs fan for 33 cognizant years.  Last year was as close as they have come to having a chance to win the World Series.  I could actually taste it.  When it was snatched away from me and a billion others, they had to reach down my throat to pull it away.  That's how close it was.  Somehow I was able to get over it quickly, within a week or so.  While it has entered my thoughts occassionally since, tonight is the first time since last October that I can remember how bad it felt.

But that feeling of being punched in the stomach so hard that your feet spontaneously combust is surrounded by a much larger feeling of hope, since I have seen another long-suffering team finally make it to the end and be champions.  Anything can happen.

When the Cubs finally do win a World Series, I will have a long list of people that I consider their title to "be for."  Tonight in Boston and New England, I am sure that there are thousands of Red Sox fans remembering people on their list, maybe people who are no longer with us, who wanted to see this but never got the chance.  They will make the connection and their joy in such a simple thing as winning a game will become that much more special.

I tell myself that it happens to everyone eventually.

How else do you expect me to last until year 97?

Are you here again?

The countdown to November 2 continues:

(We're halfway there, folks)


I spent some time in Europe this summer, four days each in Barcelona and London.  While I had never been to Spain before, I've been to London a few times in the last decade.

It's always easy to find a conversation in the British capital.  Every time I have been there I have found the people to be very friendly.  As soon as they hear an American accent, a conversation starts, whether in a pub, on a train or out on the street.  London is one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.

Well, until 2004.  My time in London this summer was unlike previous visits.  People weren't as eager to talk, and they seemed to shuffle past you in public places a lot quicker than they had in the past.  I didn't have one meaningful conversation with a Brit.

When I travel abroad, I am not one to advertise that I am an American.  It's not that I am ashamed to be one, obviously, quite the contrary, but I have always enjoyed the idea of being a "stranger in a strange land" and have no desire to reveal who or what I am.  I want to be treated like anyone else, not better or worse, and I want others to assume that I belong there, so that I can see what everyday life is like in that certain place.

We took a guided tour of the British Parliament this trip.  At the end we walked out of the building around a gated courtyard and then up a drvieway towards the sidewalk.  On the gate separating us from the street was a sign that said "Public Muster Point."  None of us knew what that meant, so we asked a policeman standing there what it was supposed to mean.  His response was that it wasn't to be a concern of ours.

For me, that was a completely un-British moment.  I realize my experiences in the UK seem to be the opposite of the stereotypes that I have heard all my life, but if I experience the same behavior over and over I have to think that is how life normally is.  I heard and saw several things in London this summer that made me wonder if I was in New York City instead.  That has never happened before.

I don't know if being an American had anything to do with it.  I do know that London seemed a much more tenseplace than it was in the past.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the entireworld was in support of the United States, except for a small number of rouge countries.  The civilized world reacted in horror to the terrorist attacks.  It was a time for the world to unite against the forces of evil that were a danger to us all.

It took about six months for us to piss it all away.

Agree or disagree with it, a lot of the free world looks upon us as war mongers now, thanks to the policies of pre-emption.  That tends to happen when you attack an enemy that posed no realistic threat to begin with.  It also doesn't help when you openly mock organizations set up so that the world can have a forum to discuss issues of force, treat them as if they don't really matter, so that ultimately you can do whatever you please.

Since then, we have heard phrases like "Cheese eating surrender monkeys", "Old Europe" and, my personal favorites, "Freedom Fries" and "French Toast."  One wonders if they serve hamburgers in Paris with thick slices of "Moron Cheese."

I remember when we had leaders that tried to solve conflicts in other parts of the world by getting involved diplomatically.  Can you imagine President Bush sitting down with the leaders of Israel and Palestine and trying to forge ahead with, like Carter and Clinton did?  Can you imagine Bush meeting with other leaders and hammering out treaties to reduce weaponry like Nixon, Reagan and his father did?

To have influence in other parts of the world, you have to be respected.  Influence through force creats nothing more than the festering of more conflict, whether it comes now or years ahead in the the future.

This President has isolated us from the rest of the world.  Only those who have felt the earth shake when our bombs have fallen know him.  He has destroyed credibility, he has destroyed the good work of many who held the office before him, and he has mocked the system that the world has used to try to keep a general sense of peace.

Four years of that attitude is enough. 


26 October 2004

Because he says so, that's why

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#7  Commander-In-Arrogance

A President is supposed to be many things: a leader, knowledgeable, tough, willing to compromise when needed.  Of course, those are just a few things on what is a long list of things needed to be presidential.  I do have a 25,000 character limit...

I'd think confidence is a big thing to have if one desires to be President.  It would be tough to handle the job of leading the country if you doubted your abilities as a leader.  If voters notice any level of self-doubt, your campaign is done.  This country demands strong leaders.

The problem with confidence is that if left unchecked it can fester in arrogance, and a prime example of confidence gone amuck into arrogance is the presidency of George W. Bush.

He fooled us all when he was running in 2000.  He was the "compassionate conservative" and a "uniter, not a divider."  He convinced enough of the electorate that he was different, an outsider who could change the tone in Washington.  Bush in the White House would bring a new sense of bi-partisanship to American politics.

Bush won the closest election in modern history.  And it took him about a month to act as if he had instead received a mandate.

First, he voided several pieces of environmental legislation from the Clinton administration (which I covered in #10 and therefore won't do again here), and banned any US funds from supporting overseas family planning groups.  He did this by special Presidential order.  I can only figure since less than 50% of the people who cast a ballot actually voted for him, he though he was entitled to do what he pleased.

Aside from his tax cut, which he refused to admit was geared towards the rich, Bush hid his arrogance until the country was attacked on 9/11.  In the aftermath of the attacks, the President was, well, presidential.  He was also compassionate, and he was also a source of unity.  Only people with a personal hatred for George W. Bush (and I will remind you that I am not one of those people) questioned his ability as leader at that time.  In perhaps the largest sign of respect for this country and its President, other countries of the world expressed support an sympathy for America.  This support lasted through the invasion of Afghanistan, the rigthful response to the attacks of 9/11.

It was approximately at this point that George W. Bush turned into Napolean.

Napolean had his Waterloo.  When history decides what one-phrase credo to label our "emperor", may I humbly suggest:

"Don't Mess with Texas"

This is a man who has told people that God has personally chosen him to be President at this time.  He has gone from telling the nation that war was necessary because Iraq had weapons that could kill us all to instead stressing that Saddam Hussein had to go.  He has forbidden photographs of coffins of soldiers that were alive when he sent them to Iraq when they have arrived back in this country gone forever.  He has appeared in a film spoofing the inability of locating weapons in America, looking for them in the Oval Office instead.  He has not attended a single funeral of a dead soldier.  He has not admitted any mistakes in the way that the war has been planned.  He believes that he will be re-elected if he reminds the nation daily that the terrorists are coming to kill us and he is the only person who can keep us safe.  He has proposed an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage, telling upwards of ten percent of the population of the US that they are not entitled to the equal rights of the other ninety percent.  He refuses to acknowledge that his tax cuts have brought the most money to the richest people in the nation. 

My favorite three examples of the arrogance of this President are these:

1.  When the President got his tax cuts passed by Congress, the nation was yet to go to war.  Afterwards, as the cost of the war surpassed one hundred billion dollars, the President did not do what other war-time presidents had previously done, asked the people of this nation for sacrifice.  He should have looked America in the eye and told us that he was cancelling the tax cut and putting it towards the war effort, because extreme times call for extreme sacrifice.  Instead he ballooned deficits and impaired jobs.  The tax cut for the rich of this nation was more important than asking any of us to sacrifice.  You can die for this President's war if you are in the military, but you won't lose your tax cut.  George W. Bush is the only person I have heard of who has figured out how you can take it with you.

2. At the end of the second debate in St. Louis, one of the members of the audience asked the President to specify three examples where his adminstration had made a mistake.  It was a fairly simple request, I was ready to volunteer a few items mysef, but the President avoided answering the question.  Instead he told the audience that he was growing the economy and creating more jobs.

3. Pat Robertson recently told the media that he had tremendous misgivings about going to war in Iraq, and he advised the President that he had better be prepared to handle the public outcry over casualties.  As one man of God speaking to another, Robertson wanted to make sure Bush knew what he was doing.  The President told Robertson not to worry, because the Iraq war was not going to have any casualties.

Hey, he's only off by 1100 or so.

Compassionate people know when they are wrong.  They also know that no one is perfect.

People known as unifiers tend to be humble.  They give credit to people who work for the better of others.

There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and this President flew out of a cannon over that line a long time ago.   

Napolean had his Elba.  It's time for Bush to have his Crawford.


And we live in a beautiful world (take two)

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#8 The War in Iraq

When the second plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11/01, I knew that the country was going to go to war; everyone knew.  And we all knew by the end of that day that Afghanistan was going to feel the wrath of the United States, for the Taliban gave aid and comfort to the people who committed the terrorist acts that day.

Later, when the bombs fell in Kabul, I felt satisfaction in the knowledge that vengence was being dealt.  The United States was right and just to overthrow the radical government in Afghanistan, and George W. Bush did an admirable job in leading the nation into this war.  He responded as any leader should to such a vicious attack.

Woe that he did not stop there.

Instead, the President did something that no one before him has ever done: he struck at another country pre-emptively.  Those who agreed and supported this action argued that the terrorists of 9/11 had also done something that no one had ever done before.

The first President Bush once said that the reason he chose not to go into Baghdad at the completion of the Gulf War in 1991 was that the country was not stable enough to survive such an overthrow.  There would be civil war as soon as US forces left.   Bush 41 achieved a noble victory, liberating Kuwait from the tyrannical clutches of Saddam Hussein.  America is at its best when it comes to the defense of allies in need, but it also used to know where to draw the line, how far its limits span.  In 1991, George Bush decided that the best way to contain Saddam Hussein was to keep him isolated like a roach under a dixie cup.

For the remainder of the decade, the United States, along with a majority of their allies and the Untied Nations governing council, kept Saddam Hussein in control.  Never again would he send his armies over the border to take over another country.  A concise program of inspections insured that he would never possess weapons that would make him a threat to the general safety of the world.

Meanwhile in Washington DC, an aging group of conservative cronies looked for ways to flex American muscle and to finish the job in Iraq, while they pined for two things: a Republican administration, and an excuse.  They received their first wish in December 2000 at the hands of the Supreme Court.

They received their second on September 11, 2001.

While the Taliban fell the mental gears of the defense department busily planned their next front.  They would take their vengence to the Middle East, to Iraq, to Saddam Hussein.  For the sake of the safety of the free world, the weapons that Hussein possessed had to be snatched, and Hussein himself had to be either killed or captured.

It was a scary time in Washington, and New York City as well, for it was there that Colin Powell, one of the more respected members of Bush 43's administration, presented the case to the world at the headquarters of the United Nations.  The inspectors were wrong, he said.  Iraq definitely has weapons, he said.  He pointed to blotches and shapes on satellite photographs and told the world that if we did not go in and get them, these blotches and shapes would create havoc, destruction and death.

The world was a tad skeptical.

The President of the United States did not care.

In March of 2003, the United States did something that it had never done before.  It attacked a country without being provoked.  As such, the course of history was changed.  Never again can the United States condemn another country for launching an unprovoked invasion without being told "you did it, too."

Is the world a better place now that Saddam Hussein sits in a jail cell?  Probably, though I am not all that qualified to say.  The people of Iraq are certainly better off.  There is a special place in hell reserved for Hussein, where he will spend eternity roasting with his fellow dictators, some who have gone before him, others who will outlive him and join him at a later time.

The weapons that were in Iraq never materialized.  A war was escalated for a reason that did not exist.  The President didn't fret though, he simply changed his tone.  The war was about removing Hussein, making Iraq a safer and less dangerous place.

With this change in focus, one wonders why we haven't invaded Cuba, and why we do not have military forces in roughly half the countries of Africa.  We have proclaimed ourselves as the providers of freedom, the removers of ruthless tyrants, those who inflict pain and suffering on their own people.  And I amsure we will get around to the rest of the world eventually.

A strange thing happened in May of 2003.  The President dressed up as a pilot and dropped in on some sailors on a big ship sailing on the waters outside of San Diego.  He gathered these people around while the nation watched on television.  They hung a big banner in the background that proclaimed "Mission Accomplished."  Then the President looked his nation in the eye and told us all that the war, in his definition, was over.  Major combat in Iraq was complete.

Yet American soldiers kept dying.

Numbers are wonderful things.  They can mean so much.  They can be symbols of wealth.  They can predict things.  They can be random.

They can be used to illustrate a mistake and tragedy all at the same time.

1100 is a number that chills my blood to the point where I wonder if I can stand it.  It is the number of American service people who have died in Iraq since the President ordered the invasion to rid Iraq of weapons, um, I mean, rid Iraq of its heinous dictator.  More of the 1100 have died since the words "Mission Accomplished" hung behind the President on a ship than did before.

Numbers have a tendency to increase.  You can be sure that this one will as well.

There has been no remorse from this President, no regret, and no funerals attended.  However, there has been a film where he has been shown looking under furniture for the ever elusive "weapons of mass destruction."  That was almost as funny as "Mission Accomplished."

Going to war seems easy.  You make a phone call, you press a button, you turn on the television and wait for things to explode.  Remember Bush 41?  He went to war, too, but only after he exhausted the paths of diplomacy.  He tried everything to get Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait before forcing his armies out.  Bush 41 knew he would be judged forever for taking his country to war, for costing Americam soldiers their lives, and he did what honorable men and leaders are supposed to do first, solve problems with diplomacy.

His son did not try.  His son did not meet with other leaders.  His son did not go to other lands in the Middle East and work with heads of state to find a way to resolve this conflict.  His son created a gauntlet and then crossed over it.  And people died.  And more will before it all ends.  A mess has been created, one that was not anticipated, and we can't leave now, not until it is cleaned up, or else it will evolve from a mess into a firestorm.

Quite frankly, I cannot imagine how anyone who made a decision that sent so many people to their deaths can sleep at night.  How anyone who changed the perception of the United States as much as this President has can tell his country that he has no regrets, that he has made no mistakes.

This world may seem safer, but it is undoubtedly more chaotic.  And it can't be allowed to continue like this, not while the everyday people of this nation have the opportunity to hang their own "mission accomplished" banner.

I have an idea for another, one that says "Welcome Home."  On November 2, both should be hung on a ranch in Crawford, Texas.




25 October 2004



No, I am not practicing on becoming a pirate.  I just spent an hour working on an entry.  It was one of those moments where I was rolling, everything in the creative portions of my brain were firing on all cylinders.  It was a damn good entry. 

I was about two sentences from the end.

For some reason, I got up and left the room for a moment.

While I was gone, I lost the connection to the Internet.

Ergo, I lost the entry.

I feel like I just had a winning lottery ticket blow out of my hands right into the jaws of a crocodile (obviously a Florida lottery).

I thought a Broadband connection was "always on"???


October surprise

It's a beautiful day today.

First, it's about 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  There's a warm breeze from the south, and it feels like June.  I have to ask myself if indeed this is the last perfect day of 2004.

Second, my boy Bill is back on the stump.  He looks a little ragged, but I love listening to the man speak.  Looks like the people in Philly think so too.

Third, and I want to be careful with this because I am certainly not happy about the danger this represents, the President has to take a hit because of the news out of Iraq today, that tons of explosives are missing.  This further proves the pompous attitude of this administration, the "What? Me Worry" years.

After I finish this entry I have to get to reason #8 why Bush cannot be reelected, and it occurs to me that my blog is pretty much all politics, all the time right now.  I can't help it.  I am convinced more than ever that this election is the most critical in the history of the country. 

As I am sitting here I can look out onto the backyard of the house.  I can hear the rustling of the leaves that have fallen on the lawn as two squirrels chase each other through them.  The noises get louder as they hop over the chain link fence that separates the yard from where we park the cars.  They scatter in different directions and inadvertantly toss stones into the air.  I see them run underneath my car, then emerge on the other side, and then climb over the car, completing a circle.  Then, to make sure I didn't imagine that, they do it again.  Eventually they run down the alley and disappear, but I know they will be back.

That's how I felt seeing Clinton today.  We need to get back to how things were when he was in office.  I don't hate President Bush, I just feel that he is not qualified to hold office.  I don't hate the Republicans, I just don't feel they have the right plan for the direction of the country in modern times.

It is indeed a beautiful day, but is it more beautiful than it was four years ago?

24 October 2004

Your kind is not welcome here

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#9 The practices of discrimination

You may recall that in 2000 George W. Bush ran on the promise that he would be "a uniter, not a divider."  Of all the issues that I disagree on with this President, his claim to bring the country together is the largest.

The President has done nothing but divide this country from his first day in office.  An example of this is his tax cut.  Statistics support the fact that 80% of the Bush tax cuts have gone to the top 1% of wealth in this country.  While it is true that all wage earners have received a tax cut, what is the real advantage of making sure that the wealthiest people receive the biggest break?  Bush is a big-time believer in the theory of "trickle down economics," the premise that if you make more money available to the rich, that they will spend more and eventually that money will trickle down to the poorer classes.

But where do you suppose that money really goes?  Charitable donations?  More groceries?  Investments?  Ah, you're getting it now!  Tax cuts for the rich accompolish one thing, they make rich people richer.  Meanwhile the middle and lower classes continue to struggle.

Here's an idea: give 100% of the tax cuts to the people who need it the most.  Giving more of a break to the people who need it means there's more money floating around the economy.  It's not sitting in banks and brokerage firms helping the rich get richer.

I don't want to get lost on solely economic issues.  This is a discriminatory administration when you look beyond the money.  Bush has never met with the NAACP since becoming President.  This year, when he refused their invitation, he said it was because "I don't like the way they treat me."  He would not elaborate, but I would think that the NAACP might not have a warm fuzzy feeling towards this administration when they do not pay attention to the economic needs of minority groups.  The only time this administration pays attention to minorities is when they try to get them off the voting rolls.

I am saving the best for last.  When was the last time that you remember a sitting President calling for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that would deny a substantial group of people basic rights?  It's never happened, before W proposed an amendment banning gay marriage in this country.  This is the most offensive thing Bush has done during his presidency, for so many reasons.  Most importantly, there are about 3,819 more important things for the President to worry about than gay marriage.

It's just wrong to suggest that we include a discriminatory admendment inside the Constitution.  We aren't allowed to do anything about guns because the right to own them is in the Constitution, no matter if thousands of people die because of them every year.  Yet the President can propose a gay marriage ban, which is a good thing, because gay marriage will kill THOUSANDS OF NORMAL PEOPLE EVERY DAY...

It truly boggles my mind that something like this causes so much scrutiny in this nation.  I know gay people, and I'd guess that if they were able to be married that they'd be just as good as it as most heterosexuals I know.

The sole reason that the President has supported this amendment is because there is a large constituency of hard core Republicans, the ones that believe that God chose this President, that demand he address this issue.  Unbelievably, there are people in this country that will cast their vote solely on this issue.  Are we back in the 1950's?

Just exactly who are these groups that demand the President support a gay marriage ban amendment to the Constitution?  Check out these two links:

Looks like Kerry-Edwards might be the most friendly White House ever!     

I especially enjoy the part about "destroying the Earth."

(I should note that both of these links were found on Andrew Sullivan's blog)

Why do we tolerate such a message of hate?  It's nothing less than full-fledged discrimination.  It's not right, and it is another in a long list of reasons why Bush and his adminstration have to go.


A public service

Today, Ocotber 23 (I interrupt this to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my big sis!) is ten days before this country goes to the polls to elect a president.

Sidenote: yes, I am aware that technically it is now the 24th, but it is still the 23rd somewhere in the world, and I came up with this idea Saturday.  Humor me.

Anyone who frequents my writing knows who I am voting for on November 2, or more accurately, who I am voting against.  However, in the interest of striving to be as informative as possible, I thought I would provide a service to the folks out there.  Starting now and everyday until the election is finally here, I shall provide the ten most important reasons why George W. Bush has to be defeated.  These are in no particular order.

#10 The environment

The President has ignored the environment like it was his brother Neil, unless he has signed a presidential order rolling back any of the environmental friendly acts passed by the Clinton administration.  Thanks to W, you can build roads in protected forests, snowmobile through sensitive areas of Yellowstone, and not worry about what emissions come out of your smokestacks if you run a big power company.

As far as global warming goes, the President doesn't believe in the concept of it.  Undoubtedly, God has not told him that it exists, but that is a topic for another day.  The United States under this president does not support the Kyoto Treaty which calls on the nations of the world to drastically reduce the amount of so called greenhouse gases they emit.  The primary reason given for our non-support is that the treaty would allow several developing countries to emit more gases by percentage than Amercia does.  We have to be the leaders in every category, I suppose.

When the President looks at a map of Alaska, he licks his lips like most of us do when a 28 ounce porterhouse cooked medium rare is placed in front of us.  He smells oil.  Oil makes W's mouth water.  Unfortuantely W lacks the support to pass a measure that will allow for drilling in the arctic refuge, but don't think he'll stop trying.

By the way, W did sign a measure banning the removal of natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of one state after receiving a request from that state's governor.  Quiz time!  Was that state: A. Florida  B. Florida  C. Florida  or D. Florida?  Give Jeb a call andask him.

Maybe there is hope for Alaska...Jenna for governor in 2006!

The President campaigned in 2-0-0-0 saying that he was going to lead the way in reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, develop cleaner air and work towards efficient fuel cell cars.  He has done nothing about this except talk.

In the State of the Union addresses and the debates, the environment is an issue that has been completely ignored by W. 

Remember, W stands for "What do you expect me to do about it?"

Note to the Fox network

You certainly got a great matchup for the World Series.  Boston and St. Louis are two of the best teams in the league, rich in history with a lot of underlying stories to share.  Chances are this series will go the full seven games and you will reap the riches of a ratings bonanza.

I saw most of tonight's 11-9 Red Sox win, and I'd like to make a few points:

1. Do we have to see the reaction of every fan inside Fenway Park when the Red Sox screw up?  You already showed us every person who attended the series against the Yankees during the ALCS.  I'd rather see the reaction of the players on the field.  And I don't need to see Ben Affleck anymore.  I know he's from Boston, but I'd guess that his presence inside of the park means that one less average Joe fan doesn't get in to see the game.  He doesn't deserve to be there, even if Matt Damon is sitting on his lap.

2. We know Stephen King is there, and that he is a big Red Sox fan.  He's even writing a book about this season.  But there is a reason that he is an author and not an actor: he's very scary looking.  So stop showing him all the time as well.

3. Interesting choice of announcers for the series.  Joe Buck does St. Louis games during the regular season, and Tim McCarver played most of his career with the Cardinals.  I could detect the subtle pinings for Cardinal success from both a few times tonight.  Isn't this a conflict of interest?  I mean, you wouldn't have a news channel full of nothing but Republicans, would you?  OOPS!...never mind.

4. There is no such thing as a curse.  You can mention 1918, 1946, 1967 and 1986 all you want, but those years have nothing to do with a curse.  Thank God the Cubs didn't make it or we'd be seeing goats everywhere.

5. The whole "God Bless America" thing was touching in 2001, but that needs to go away as well.  For the 7th inning stretch it's either "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" or ads for whatever reality series you are premiering next week that's destined to finish in 141st place in the ratings this season.  Speaking of which, I have an idea for "The Swan."  Why not go one step further and make the contestants jam themselves into an egg for the big finish so that they can burst out new into the world like a real swan does?

6. A nine inning game tonight lasted four hours.  That means it ended at midnight in Boston.  How about starting a game or two at six, or (GASP) playing one during the day?  On a side note, when the game creeps past midnight and it's a school night, don't show us any kids still in the stands.  DCFS has enough work to do already.

Weekend assignment

Haven't done one of these in a while...

I can't say that there are too many TV shows that I miss.  I tend to be an impatient watcher.  I'll give a show a season or two, then get bored with it and move on.  An example of this would be "Third Rock from the Sun."  I thought that was a brilliant show for the first two years, then it sunk faster than John Goodman in a kiddie pool.  Even if I stick around and watch a show until its demise, I am normally not unhappy to see it go (hello, "NYPD Blue").

However, and I know this is going to be weird, there's one show that I watched every episode of and was sad when it went off the air: "Anything but Love."  First, it starred Jamie Lee Curtis ('nuff said) and Richard Lewis, before he became a complete parody of himself.  Second, the show was hysterical.  I laughed every episode.  Lord, sometimes I'd even sit through "Doogie Howser MD" before it came on.

My favorite character on the show was the magazine editor played by Ann Magnuson.  She had some great lines.  The best episode was when they went to dinner to celebrate a friend's "Un-anniversary" and burned the restaurant down.  Each character had a different version of how it happened, and the Italian chef's explanation (done in Italian, like a Fellini movie) killed me.

Obscure?  Absolutely, which is why I still miss it today.

As for what game show I would like to be on, that would be "Jeopardy."  I actually had a try out for this show back when I was in college but did not get past the first round (sample question-what state borders two oceans?  I said Texas.  Back in those days I got a little nervous under pressure).  I am suffering through the Ken Jennings saga because that should be me instead.  That little runt is going to ruin it for the rest of us and make them go back to a limit of winning five games.

23 October 2004


1. Think back to your years of Trick or Treating:  Which one of your past Halloween costumes are you most proud of?  I don't really have any.  My costumes were always pretty generic.  I went to a Halloween party in 1992 dressed as a tourist, complete with bad clothing and big camera around my neck, and told everyone that I was George HW Bush in about two weeks.  That was a big hit.

2. What is the format of your favorite radio station?  (In other words, what type of music does it play?)  Depending on my mood, I am listening to alternative rock, classical, or talk on National Public Radio.

3. What is the oldest thing in your medicine cabinet?  Several bottles of cologne.  Some have been in there for almost 20 years.

4. What kind of book do you most prefer:  hardback, paperback, audio or library? Hardbook

5. What is your favorite comfort food and when was the last time you felt bad enough that you needed a big helping of it?  Ice cream, I don't need it often, but it's nice to know it's there.

Dust off your high school yearbook.  What was your Senior quote and/or what were you voted ''Most...'' or ''Most Likely To....''?
  We didn't do that kind of stuff at my school.  If we had, I would have been voted "most likely to have the most people look in the yearbook and say 'who the hell is this guy'?"; and my quote would have been "Get me the hell out of this place."
I didn't really care for high school. 

Some timely Saturday humor

Sent to me by a friend...

How many members of the Bush Admin does it take to change a light bulb?


1. One to deny that the light bulb needs to be changed.

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says that the light bulb   needs to be changed.

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb.

4. One to tell the nations of the world that they are "either for changing
the lightbulb or for darkness."

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new
light bulb.

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a stepladder under the banner: "Light Bulb Change Accomplished."

7. One to resign & write a book detailing how Bush was literally in the dark

8. One to viciously smear number 7

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV & at rallies about how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb changing policy all along.

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between
screwing in a light bulb & screwing the country.

(Thanks Jim)

21 October 2004


It's been two hours, and I still can't believe what I saw tonight.

The Red Sox won the Amercian League pennant and are going to the World Series.

They beat the Yankees in the decisive seventh game.

In Yankee Stadium.

After losing the first three games of the series.

This is like finding out the mixture you just concocted in the lab cures both cancer AND diabetes.

Shiver me timbers, the Bronx Bombers just walked the plank.

I am a lifelong baseball junkie.  I know more about the game and its history than any normal person should.  I remember when the Expos played in Jarry Park; that Charlie Finley tried to get the league to use orange baseballs; I can tell you the uniform numbers of Carmen Fanzone, George Mitterwald, Rudy Meoli and Steve Dillard in my sleep.

(#23, #15, and, in a trick question, the last two both wore #12, but alas, I am awake as I type this)

Simply put, what happened tonight was the finishing touch to the greatest accomplishment in the history of the game.  If you go back to the end of game 3, when the Yankees won 19-8 to take a 3-0 lead in games and play the rest of the series from there 100 more times, the Yankees win the series every time.  I bet the Red Sox don't even force a game seven once.

There is nothing more desperate or demoralizing in sports than falling behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series.  No one has ever won a playoff series after falling behind that much in the NBA or major league baseball.  Two teams in the NHL managed to do it, Toronto in 1941 and New York in 1975.  In baseball, 25 previous teams had fallen behind 3-0 in a series.  None of them managed to even get to a game seven.

Clearly, it's as impossible to come back from such a deficit as it is to hear President Bush admit that he has ever made a mistake.  Almost.

I made my first trip to Boston in the fall of 2002.  As I stood on the observation deck of the Prudential Buildiong and looked down at Fenway Park, I felt like I was looking at the Sistine Chapel.  The following summer I went back and attended two games there.  Boston is my favorite city in the US that I do not currently live in, and Fenway is my favorite baseball stadium not currently located on the north side of Chicago.  By definition, the Red Sox are my second favorite baseball team behind, well, you get the idea.

They say that there is nothing harder than to be either a Red Sox or Cubs fan.  They are wrong.  Nothing is harder than being a Cubs fan.  The Red Sox have a tradition of winning, at least until the make it to the World Series, and then truly bad things happen.  But no one in New England really knows true suffering unless they have watched three decades of hope systematically implode in frighteningly strategic fashion, year upon wretched year.

It's actually almost ten decades, but thankfully I have not been alive that long.

There is envy, of course, in my heart tonight, but no jealousy.  I do not want what the fans of Boston have tonight, not now.  I can wait.  I try to think of myself going through what a typical Red Sox fanatic has been through the last week or so but with a Chicago spin: the St. Louis Cardinals grab the first two games of a winner-goes-to-the-World-Series against the Cubs in St. Louis, then humiliate them at Wrigley Field in the third game to all but clinch a trip to the Fall Classic.

Game four finds the Cubs behind by a run in the ninth and the season just about done.  But a normally unhittable pitcher gives up a tying run, and the game goes into extra innings, and doesn't end until after midnight.  The Cubs manage to win, but it is still inevitable that they will lose as they still must win the next three games to advance.

Inevitable even still after winning another marathon the next night in the same fashion.  It's not possible to win two games in a row in St. Louis when you were man handled there just three games ago.

But indeed they draw even in game six.

And game seven is never a contest.  The Cubs comeback is complete.

Alas, I don't see this, because I died sometime before game five ended.

Or it never happened, because as the player was coming around to score the tying run in game four, someone accidentally dropped the pen that they were using to keep score with from the upper deck.  It tumbled to the seats below, smacked a bald gentleman right on top of hid melon and redirected to the playing field, where it lodged squarely in the eye of the runner.  In a fir of blinding rage, he missed home plate.

There is a fundamental rule to being a Chicago Cubs fan.  We refer to it as "T.A.S"

"There's Always Something"

People in Boston will object to this and say that Chicago does nothold exclusive rights to this rule.  I say, simply, "BAH."  For every crushing moment of 1986 and 1975, there were enough moments of grandeur for Beantown. 

You've been to the Series a lot since 1945.  So what if you haven't actually won, getting there is the accomplishment.  When balls roll through a 345 year old first baseman's legs, at least you can say it happened in the World Series.

Do you think most Red Sox fans will be distraught if either St. Louis or Houston (come on baby please!) defeat them for the World Series championship?  Maybe, but somehow I think that if that happens, the main activity in Boston this winter will be watching the reply of tonight's final game against the Yankees.

I've got tapes here in Chicago.  They're all blank.  I keep them solely because I believe that soon, very soon, they will be full of things that will make me smile in the dead of winter, bringing me a warmth that no fire can compare.

It's going to happen.

I believe.

See you next October.


17 October 2004

Six more for you

1. What was your favorite Halloween candy to receive as a child?
Nestle's $100,000 bar.  I'd eat 100,000 of them every day if I could get away with it.

2. Of cities you've visited (that you don't live in), which is your favorite and why?  I have way too many favorites-San Diego, St. Louis, San Fran, Seattle, Portland (Oregon and Maine-both cities are great), Pittsburgh, but if I have to go with one in the US I'll say Boston.  From watching the Red Sox in Fenway to walking the Freedon Trail, there is so much to do.  Montreal is my favorite North American city.  Worldwide, I have to say London.  No place I've been to compares, except for my hometown of Chicago, of course.

I am a very lucky man to have had the opportunity to travel so much in my lifetime.

3. What is the oldest appliance in your kitchen (and how old is it)? I have no idea

4. How many broken bones have you suffered in your life time, and when was the most recent? I have never broken a bone, but I have made up for it with plenty of sprains, ligament tears and other assorted dumb injuries.

5. Check your caller ID:  who is the last person to have called you? My brother called me yesterday afternoon.

Nettie: What would you say is your biggest "character flaw?" Procrastination.  I'll get around to telling you why eventually...

14 October 2004

An update and some facts

A few days ago, when I wrote about the second debate, I made some observations on abortion.  Specifically, I was perplexed about why President Bush is seemingly so quick to make the abortion topic the partial-birth abortion topic.  I questioned how many abortions were partial-birth, and guessed that it wasn't a lot.  It was late at night and I said that I did not feel like doing the necessary research then.

I have now.  Here's what I found:

-"Partial birth" is a political term created by pro-life groups.  The medical profession calls these procedures D&X, for "dialation and extraction."

-Estimates are that there were 1.3 million abortions performed in the United States last year.  Of that number, it is also estimated that .25% of the procedures were so called "partial birth."  If that is accurate that equates to 3250 partial birth abortions in the country last year.

-It is impossible to accurately peg the number of PBA's done, for several reasons.  First, it is assumed that some doctors that perform this procedure report it as "regular" abortions.  Also, not all areas of the country report abortions by category.

After reading several reports on this procedure, I came to a couple of conclusions.  I had an extremely difficult time processing what exactly happens during a PBA.  It is horrific, and I can't imagine ever being in a place of mind where I could perform one.  I also realize that there are few, if any, "impartial" websites dealing with this issue.  The tone of description varied according to which pro (life or choice) the site supported.

Common sense and decency should lead us to believe that PBA should not be used unless absolutely necessary.  I am repulsed by the thought of someone opting to have this procedure done simply because they do not want the baby for any other reason other than health.  I did receive the impression that PBA is used mostly when the mother's health is in danger or the fetus has already died or will not survive to term (the affliction I saw the most mentioned here is "hydrocephalus"). 

My opinion has not changed, I suppose, though I do feel that those who continually change the focus of abortion to partial-birth abortion (Bush and Alan Keyes, to name two) are using the small amount of times that it is used to paint the entire subject as wrong and immoral.  That's like slaughtering all cattle worldwide to eliminate the possibility of mad cow disease.

Any pro-life legislation has to have clauses allowing abortion for life's sake.  And I realize the double entendre of that sentence, but I can't put it any other way.  Pregnancy can't be a death sentence.

And the last shall be first

I'm wondering what to do about last night's debate.  Do I go at it full throttle or do I gently let it go as the end of hostilities?  I tried something different yesterday, writing down notes as I watched along with any pithy comments I could come up with then, and think maybe it'd be better just to list my reactions as bullet points:

-W denies he said that he doesn't worry about bin Laden anymore.  Even I remember that he said that, and a quick Internet search shows that he made those remarks on March 13, 2002.

-Love the look on Bush's face when he is asked the question about flu shots, and he completely bombs it-"um, er, we relied on a British company..." perfect rumbling, bumbling, stumbling; clearly he did not see that coming.  And once again, later Internet search reveals that he is wrong when he says that the administration stopped the contaminated vaccines from being shipped.  It was the British that did so.  What I don't undertstand about this is that there were shortages last year, so why not make sure it doesn't happen this year?  Why not make sure there is a surplus so that everyone in the country can be immunized. 

-Bush attacks Kerry as being so liberal that Ted Kennedy is consdered the conservative Mass. Senator.  I consider time waping myself to Tempe so that I can jump on stage on scream for Kerry to retort that Bush has no business talking about fiscal responsibility, and I about eat the television when Kerry does not say anything about that during his response time.

-Bush is asked about what he would say to someone who has lost a job and if I hear him correctly, his answer is that he's tell the person to go to community college.  Huh?  "Yes, Mr. President, I'm a CPA who lost my job when my company imploded in the Enron scandal.  What should I do now?  What's that?  Crawford Community College?  How about I wait until January 2005 and we can enroll together..."  How does a discussion of jobs morph into education?


"Being lectured by this President on fiscal responsibility is like being lectured by Tony Soprano on law and order."-John Kerry (though he should have said it ten minutes earlier than he did.)

Can you say "Money quote"?  Or maybe BADA BING!!!

-Wow.  Kerry quotes the Bible before Bush does.

-Between bashing his podium and giggling, the President looks like he is sitting in a high chair waiting for his piece of birthday cake on his first birthday.

-Bush doesn't know if homosexuality is a choice.  Way to wade through that one, George.  Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson aren't going to invite you on their hunting trip now.  W then lobs a huge, Earth-sized softball at Kerry by stating that he proposed an amendment to the Constitution banning gay marriage, and Kerry avoids it.  Instead he brings up Dick Cheney's daughter and men who are gay but married, only to finally realize who they are later in life (hello, Jim McGreevey).  There was no reason to bring Cheney into this, though I don't find it as offensive as some say it was.  But I am dumbfounded that Kerry did not take the opportunity to point out that the President wants an amendment that denies rights to some of the citizens of this country.  He blew it there big time, and my teeth grind down another 1/8 inch.

-Why is health care even brought up?  It's been 12 years since 1992 when this became the big deal and no one has done anything about it.  Why should we expect anything now?  People are getting rich from the way insurance is run in this country, so what incentive is there to change?

-Neither of these candidates has a clue about Social Security.  I feel fortuante that I have been working on my singing and will be able to work on cruise ships well into my eighties.

-Bush says that the Texas border is more secure now than when he was Governor.  Nice job as Governor!  Hey, self-evaluation is F-U-N!

-The minimum wage is still under $7???  Second best quote from Kerry of the night: "I'm tired of hearing about family values without valuing families."

-OK, I am in another universe because Kerry sounds stronger towards the NRA than Bush does.  But both candidates skirt around the assault gun ban because both could have worked harder to get the ban extended.  Both were scared of the big, bad NRA.  So what, dead people don't vote anyway.

-Kerry thanks Bush for the job he did in the afternath of 9/11, then turns it into a smackdown over the way he has wasted the goodwill.  Bush smirks and just takes it.  Karl Rove ruins yet another pair of Fruit of the Looms.

-This debate has the dumbest closing question in the history of mankind, going all the way back to the Roman Empire.  "Do you love your wife?"  "Why no, I just want her money..."

-The debate ends with another lovefest on stage.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the environment was never mentioned in any debate, right?  Kerry didn't say anything about stem cell research either.  On purpose?  One might think Christopher Reeve would have wanted him to.

Obviously, none of these debates were going to change my mind, but it was worth watching all three to further notice just how unqualified W is to be President.  Not that Kerry will be Lincoln if elected, but at least he presents himself as knowledgable.  I could see Bush's puppet strings.  He is without question the least intelligent yet most arrogant man to hold the office.  That's a scary combination. 

By the way, factcheck.org is extremely helpful when it comes to verifying the misinformation fom both sides during the debates.

What were his parents thinking?

Just noticed that MSNBC has a meteorologist named Sean McGlothin, but that he pronounces his first name "seen" instead of "shawn."  I am dying to know why.

This reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where a talk show host says "today on the program, Mr. Raymond Luxury Yacht."  His guest replies "That's not my name."

After the host tries again, the guest says "No, it's spelled Raymond Luxury Yacht, but it's pronounced 'Throat Wrobbler Mangrel."

To which the host says "You're a very silly man and I'm not going to interview you."

13 October 2004

Something to talk about

I just finished watching a tape of the second presidential debate held in St. Louis last Friday evening.

One word: (said with just a tad of sarcasm) WHOOPEE!

I found the format boring, the moderator INCREDIBLY boring, and the people asking the questions in the audience robot-like.  I've attended Vespers that were more exciting than this debate was.

John Kerry was uneventful, lacking the vigor that he showed in the first debate, and had two moments that puzzled me.  First, did he slam the Red Sox?  He made a quip about the President living in a dream world and not being realistic, and then said that was unlike a Red Sox fan.  I know that Massachusetts couldn't be any bluer, but do you really want to mess with 86 years of complete frustration?  If the Red Sox lose to the Yankees in a typical Red Sox way, enough people may be still be too stunned to vote on November 2.

Second, what was with the reference to the President owning a timber company?  I know it isn't too difficult to confuse GW, but this made no sense to me at all.  And it lead to one of the more uncomfortable moments of my life, hearing the President ask Charles Gibson (and what the hell was he doing moderating a presidential debate?  Was Pat O'Brien booked? ) if he "wanted any wood."  It's never a good thing to see a president giggle.  George W. Bush giggles like he's been trying to inflate a kiddy pool for the last two hours.

Ah, the President.  He's  America's pork chop.  That just came to me, and I don't know why.  I listen to W speak and that is what comes to my mind, a pork chop. 

He was better this time than he was in the first debate, when he had that nausea-heartburn-indigestion-upset stomach-diarrhea face going for ninety minutes.  And aside from his wood comment he was doing all right and even had me going for just a little while that perhaps, just perhaps, he was going to pull this off and come across as competent.  But towards the end of the debate, he wandered back into W World, where all he does is pander to his core conservative base and presents himself as the most arrogant man on the planet.

For example, he still called John Kerry "my opponent" every opportunity he could, which still floors me.  Again, call him Senator.  What is the problem with this?  Call him "Liberal Senator" if you must, but call him something.  He makes it sound like he's debating a robot.  I just don't get this.  And yes, I realize that this is incredibly insignificant.  It just bugs the hell out of me!

GW hit the trifecta for me at the end.  First was his inane reference to the Dred Scott case when he was asked what kind of judges he would appoint to the Supreme Court.  In typical W speak, he didn't answer the question, instead telling us who he would not appoint.  He said an example of a judge that he would not name to the court would be one that believed in the Dred Scott case, which essentially gave people the continued right to own slaves before the Civil War on the basis that slaves were considered property.  I had heard about this before I watched the tape of the debate, and I have been thinking about it for a while.  Obviously, he was trying to say that he doesn't want judges on the court that rule based on personal opinion, and I am wondering if this was a thinly veiled reference to abortion rights.  But then I remember that this is W, and that there is no way he is smart enough to create an analogy that links slavery to abortion.

What is more troubling about this reference is that he is wrong about it.  At the time of this court decision, the right to personal property was part of the Constitution, and slaves fell into that category.  It was later that the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments were added to the Constitution that abolished slavery and guaranteed the rights of African-Americans, i.e. that they could not be considered "personal property" anymore.

The second hit on the trifecta was his comments about abortion, and I realize that I am letting personal feeling enter into this judgment.  I just find it incredibly arrogant that anyone, let alone the President, will refuse to consider the possibility that an abortion could be performed to save the life of a mother.  I am not a practicing abortionist, obviously, and I should do some research on the subject, but really, what percentage of abortions performed are partial birth?  I find it hard to believe that it makes up a significant portion.  Forgive me for being crass, but is it likely that a woman says "hmm, I'm in the second trimester now and I really don't want this kid, guess it's time for a partial birth abortion.  Thank God I live in America."

It's after 2 AM otherwise I would head over to Google and find somewhere to give me some numbers on this.  My apologies if I am totally wrong on this.  I will check it out in the future.  I can feel ombudsmen cringing all over the blogosphere.

Last point of the trifecta, and by far the best, was the last question of the night, where a woman asked W to name three mistakes he has made in his administration.  He broke down, fell to his knees, and screamed "the whole four years has been a national nightmare!"

Yep, really, honest he did.

And I am rooting for the Cardinals to win the World Series.  Is that getting tired as a reference to satire yet?

W did not answer the question.  Instead he spun it into a statement about his resolve, about how he will do things that are not popular but are the right things to do, and dammit, he doesn't really care what anyone thinks about it.  I know it is not realistic to expect him to confess to any shortcomings, but he could have been just a little gracious about it.  Instead he babbled.  God, he makes me ill.  He is truly the most arrogant man to ever hold this office, and I can't believe this country is even considering renewing his lease for four more years.

So we move to Tempe, and I will be watching that one live.  After that, the gloves come off.  I know Karl Rove has been locked in a cage somewhere being fed a steady diet of raw meat.  The bolts get unlocked first thing Thursday.  It's going to be real ugly in this country for the next twenty days.

And so to bed...