Monday, October 02, 2006

No Soup For You

Things are not looking good for the Republicans in Congressional elections. That's why I thought it was important to accustom my otherwise comfortable and well-fed kids to the coming realities by having them pose in the soup line statues at the FDR memorial in Washington, D.C.


Meanwhile, if you haven't been paying close attention, due to missteps of the Bush administration, the North Koreans tested out a new nuclear bomb earlier in the week, primarily because, as the pundits would have it, the U.S. refused N. Korea's request for bilateral negotiations, instead favoring negotiations with parties in the region as well. Poor Katie Couric was pressing this tagline in an interview with Rice, who answered quite effectively that N. Korea wanted such negotiations for a reason, probably to be able to blame the U.S. for their pre-ordained failure, which is a message that the world is all to willing to agree with. CBS news probably wanted them for the same reason. Katie was clearly overmatched, and just wore a scowl on her face the entire interview, as if she was talking to a recalcitrant child who didn't understand the typical anti-Bush talking points. Of course they are not Katie's talking points - she's merely a puppet who's "tough" interviewing skills never anticipate the possibility that there is a rational answer to such criticisms.

Remember N. Korea was the crowning diplomatic achievement of the Clinton administration, pulling Carter out of the attic to send him to N. Korea to sign a deal that the N. Koreans cheated on from day 1. Now Carter is in the NYT op-ed page blaming Bush. Go figure. His deal accelerated the ability of N. Korea to develop nukes, Madelaine Albright visited the country and smiled widely as the military parade formed a ballistic missile, and its Bush's fault.

In a way, the N. Korean's remind me of the black sherriff in Blazing Saddles. When the sherriff arrives in town to the shock and dismay of the racist border town, as he begins his speech he realizes many in the crowd are cocking their pistols and getting ready to pop him. So he draws his own gun, holds it to his own head, and threatens to blow it off if the crowd doesn't back off, referring to himself in the third person. As one of the townsfolk responds immediately, "that n*&^%er is crazy enough to do it" in alarm, all put their weapons away, and the sherriff lives on. Now, of course, the N. Koreans aren't going to use the bomb on themselves, but the principle is the same - make everyone think they're crazy enough to use it on somebody, and that way you might get what you want. And they probably will.

The efforts to stem non-proliferation are of course equivalent in motive, if not in means, to efforts to pre-emptively strike a would-be enemy before they develop certain levels of capacity for deadly force. The world is now reaping what it sowed in condemning the US efforts of this kind in Iraq. The fact of the matter is only the credible threat of force would keep Iran and N. Korea from developing nukes. Offer them all of the goodies that you care to in exchange for an agreement that they suspend such efforts, and all you do is convince them even more goodies will come when they are successful. They'll other come from Western aid, from sales of nukes to terrorists groups or other interested regimes, or from the ability to bully one's neighbors. After the fact sanctions imposed on leaders who clearly don't give a damn about their starving population won't be very effective, and as in pre-war Iraq, will just draw criticism from the usual suspects about the inhumane sanctions causing widespread deaths in those countries (and it will be the US that is blamed - not the UN; such is the case whenever there is a UN initiative that the US signs onto).


Meanwhile the party that has howled with laughter over Star Wars efforts to develop some ability to defend ourselves against nuclear attack is poised to take over Congress. But at least we know under their leadership that no aging gay Republican representatives will be able to send suggestive text messages to Congressional pages! Whew, that is a load off of my mind. Or do we? Not so many years ago, a Democratic Representative had sex with a teenage male page - he died over the weekend, and Drudge ran a report of the effusive praise he received from Kennedy, Kerry, and others in Massachusetts. The below is from Best of the Web at the WSJ online:

The 1983 Congressional page sex scandal was a political scandal in the United States involving members of the United States House of Representatives.

On July 14, 1983 the House Ethics Committee concluded that Rep. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) had engaged in sexual relationships with minors, specifically 17-year-old congressional pages. In Crane's case, it was a 1980 relationship with a female page and in Studds's case, it was a 1973 relationship with a male page. Both representatives immediately pleaded guilty to the charges and the committee decided to simply reprimand the two.

However, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) demanded their expulsion. On July 20, 1983 the House voted for censure, the first time that censure had been imposed for sexual misconduct. Crane, who tearfully apologized for his transgression, lost his bid for reelection in 1984.

Studds, however, stood by the facts of the case and refused to apologize and even turned his back and ignored the censure being read to him. He called a press conference with the former page, in which both stated that they were consenting adults at the time of the relationship. The age of consent was and remains 17 in Washington DC. He stated that this was a private adult relationship, no laws had been broken, and therefore not the business of others to censure them for their private relationship. The people of Massachusetts agreed and he continued to be reelected until his retirement in 1996.

From what I understand, some in the Republican Congressional leadership didn't act very courageously in the Foley affair, but it hardly speaks to the party as a whole. But I understand how people can link the Republicans as a party to the whole sordid mess - I mean, we rely so extensively on support from the North American Man-Boy Love Association, and we've pushed culturally for the sexualization of teenagers for a long time now. I mean, really, has Foley crossed the line if he intended only to have safe sex with these teenagers? Has anyone even asked this question yet? Should we really be condemning him until we know? And do we know if Studds had safe sex? I sense a double standard. Foley, show us the condom and let's Move!


In the category of - I am an academic so blind to my own prejudices that I can write something like this without thinking twice - again from the Best of the Web:

In an op-ed in the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun, one Dennis C. Jett, dean of international studies at the University of Florida, purports to put things in perspective:

In all that has been written and uttered in recent days about the fifth anniversary of 9-11, here is one question that has not been asked: What do boats, bicycles, guns and terrorists have in common? Answer: They all kill about the same number of Americans each year.

Dividing the nearly 3,000 people killed on 9-11 over the last five years gives you an average annual figure of 600. About that number die each year in accidents on boats, while riding bicycles and from the accidental discharge of firearms. (Tens of thousands more die from guns each year, but those are suicides and homicides.) Or put another way, more nonsmokers die as a result of breathing someone else's tobacco smoke every year than died on

The horror of watching the exact moments when thousands of people died was a national trauma, but that shock has been exploited relentlessly since then. . . .

We should never forget what happened on 9-11 nor stop mourning our loss. But we should also not succumb to politically-motivated paranoia and should instead reflect on what 9-11 has been used as a pretext to create: A nation of sheep led by a collection of liars, fools and cowards.

Ah yes, it is so very sophisticated to step back from the herd, with their silly emotions, and explain with cold, raw numbers why terrorism isn't such a big deal.

But we have a few questions for Dr. Jett:

If there were 600 lynchings a year in America, would they belong in the same category as boating accidents?

If 600 Arab-Americans a year were being murdered on account of their ethnicity or religion, would those who consider that a moral outrage of surpassing importance be "sheep" led by "liars, fools and cowards"?

If gangs of thugs were stalking gay bars and beating to death 600 of their patrons a year, would Dr. Jett disagree with those who consider stopping such crimes a higher priority than banning smoking in those same bars?

Just asking.

First Grade Presidential Election

The picture to the left was taken by a Pulitzer prize winning Reuters photographer, so you know that it is authentic. That backboard is a bird killer. In an omen I thought would bode well for the Phillies this weekend, a cardinal flew right into the backboard and dropped dead to the ground. Billy went right out to taunt it - "Not in my house!" With a dead Cardinal in my driveway, I felt that at the very least, if the Phils wouldn't make the playoffs (a long shot at that point), at least mayber the Cardinals would choke the Central division lead and get the Phils off the schnide for the worst September collapse. The Cards tried by losing on Sunday, but so did the Astros. So now I am having trouble seeing the meaning in the death of the cardinal.

In reference to the picture, all I have to say is that you gotta love capitalism - it compensates for all of our genetic shortcomings. Can't dunk? Easy - we'll get you a hoop that can be adjusted anywhere from 7.5 feet to 10 feet. Think they have these in China? With the exception of the province that produced Yao Ming, they'd have to lower it to about 5 feet. Anyway, commies can't dunk, because hoops like this are just not in the five year plan.


Turns out Neil Armstrong has been vindicated, as science has proven that his first words on the moon were indeed: "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." For years people have thought that he left out the a, which is crucial to the sentence making sense. But sound technicians have determined that he said that word at a rate of 38 milliseconds, 10 times too fast to be audible.


In Virginia there is a tight Senate race ongoing between Senator George Allen and former Republican Reagan admin member Jim Webb. So far as I can tell the main issue boils down to which of the two more frequently used the "N" word indiscretely when they were 20 years old, because of course knowing that is crucial to the ongoing war on terrorism and the other pressing issues. I am not sure who has fewer accusations at the moment, but in the end the other candidate can simply claim that his opponent used the "N" word just as frequently, but at a rate of 38 milliseconds, 10 times too fast to be audible.


In other pressing and important elections, Billy Hatch is running for president of his class in first grade. Joe has opted not to run, because he wants to "root for my friends." When asked who he would vote for, Joe explained that it was a hard decision, because all of his friends are running - Owen, Jared, Jerry, and Billy. When asked point blank if he'd vote for Bill, he said: "Well, I don't really play with Billy that much at school," and left it at that. I am not exactly raising the Kennedy's - by the time Robert Kennedy was 6 years old, he was already arranging clandestine trysts for his brother with post-pubescent sixth graders, and establishing crucial ties to the mafia that would prove very helpful in the 1960 election. As for Bill, I'm not too worried - when I asked him what his campaign solgans and promises were - he was first caught off guard and just said he's going to tell his friends to vote for him. When I asked how he would convince them he was the right guy for the job, he smiled and said: "I'll give 'em free trading cards," (referring to Yu-Gi-Oh cards, which are some sort of Japanese conspiracy to posion the minds of young American boys). That's my boy! Intuitive understanding of politics at the age of 6! Except of course that strategy makes him a Democrat through and through.

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