Wednesday, April 26, 2006
I caught an SNL rerun last night before going to bed. I would have turned it off, except that Weekend Update was just starting. WU can be the best part of the whole hour and a half (unless System of a Down is the musical guest, of course). The episode was from just after September 11th, and there was this part:
In protest to France’s opposition to a U.S. war on Iraq, the U.S. congress’
cafeteria has changed French Fries and French Toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast. Afterwards, the congressmen were so pleased with themselves, they all
started Freedom Kissing each other.
Tina Fey: In a related story, in France, American Cheese is now referred to as Idiot Cheese.
Jimmy Fallon: Trust me! They're laughing at us! French fries aren't even French! They're Belgian. Some American guy named them wrong, to begin with. Also, Americans - they're pouring bottles of French wine down the toilet. Stop it! You already paid for the wine, you dopes! Pee in the wine, and sell it to some French people! Then, you're doing something!
Tina Fey: Yeah! And, you know, don't think that by eating Freedom
Fries, you're being patriotic and helping the war effort. Use less gasoline!
Read a newspaper! You know? How about you cool it with the Freedom Fries,
anyway, you fat asses! We're the fattest, country in the world! Have you ever
walked around an American mall? It's nothing but Chick-Fil-A's and Lane Bryant
track suits busting at the seams!
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I'm selectively reading Molly Ivins' compendium, Who Let The Dogs In? I realize now that although I was aware of her work, I must not have read much of her stuff before. I would have remembered; this stuff is good.
Two of the chapters that I have read were eulogies. One, of a woman named Dr. Liz Karlin, is descriptive, comprehensive and moving. Unfortunately, I can't find it archived. I guess you'll have to go to the library (or borrow my copy).
The second, for Paul Wellstone, begins:
and I've included the full text below (and I love the marijuana reference).
No one has to wonder for a minute what he would have wanted, "What would
Wellstone do?" The answer all but roars back, "Don't mourn, organize!"
Columns, Molly Ivins
October 29, 2002
SAN FRANCISCO -- He was the rarest of all rare breeds -- a mensch from Minnesota. But this is not a column about Paul Wellstone. No one has to wonder for a minute what he would have wanted, "What would Wellstone do?" The answer all but roars back, "Don't mourn, organize!"
The contrast between Paul's passionate populism and this dreary mid-term election is as sad as his death. There's many a contest between political pygmies this year -- we're down to seeds and stems again --- but even in proud Texas we have to admit that this year's palm for nose-holding voting must go to California. Not to overstate, two of the most titanically unattractive candidates in the history of time -- Gray Davis and Bill Simon -- are vying for the governorship. A new nadir in modern politics. How we got from the Lincoln-Douglas debates to this -- or what we ever did to deserve it -- is unclear. The debate between Davis and Simon raised the always-timely question: Is God punishing us?
Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?
One sorry excuse for a decent, fighting people's pol or the other; what difference does it make?
Oh, just that your life is at stake.
What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols. "I'm just not interested in politics." "They're all crooks." "Nothing I can do about it, I'm just one person. I can't buy influence."
Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom you can decide you don't much care for. Is the person who prescribes your eyeglasses qualified to do so? How deep will you be buried when you die? What textbooks are your children learning from at school? What will happen if you become seriously ill? Is the meat you're eating tainted? Will you be able to afford to go to college or to send your kids? Would you like a vacation? Expect to retire before you die? Can you find a job? Drive a car? Afford insurance? Is your credit card company or your banker or your broker ripping you off? It's all politics, Bubba. You don't get to opt out for lack of interest.
In this putrid election season, every television ad seems to announce that the other guy sucks eggs, runs on all fours, molests small children and has the brain of an adolescent pissant. It's tempting to join the "pox on both their houses" crowd. They're close to right, but they're still wrong.
Here's the good news: All of this can actually be fixed. By me, you, us -- no kidding, no bull. Nothing you can do about it? Just one person? As an American at this time, you have more political power than 99 percent of all the people who have ever lived on earth. And should you round up four friends who don't usually vote, you'll have four times that much political power. Why throw that away?
And you have other kinds of power as well. Hundreds of thousands of Americans demonstrated against war in Iraq Saturday. I don't know why the mainstream media are so allergic to reporting this, but the turnout was stunning. In San Francisco, middle-aged protesters with gray ponytails mixed with punk kids with orange hair and earrings in their eyebrows and with suburban families toting toddlers. The old coots griped about their feet and about having to listen to speeches through a bad sound system again (digital sound has not yet made it to the peace movement). But the kids were, like, totally awed. They had not, in their young lives, ever seen anything like tens of thousands of Americans peacefully exercising their right to assemble and to petition their government for redress of grievances. The creativity and humor of the signs was fabulous, though often impolite. A grand exercise in citizenship.
And will it make any difference? Does the Bush administration care that 40 percent of Americans are opposed to this war and that almost all of us have doubts about it? Politicians are much more sensitive creatures than is generally assumed. In political science circles, the technical term we use for this is "goosey." Pols not only listen to public opinion, they usually overreact to it.
The Bush administration has announced this grand imperial plan, the "National Security Strategy of the United States," under which America is to dominate the world forever, and we'll attack any country that doesn't agree with us. Frankly, it's nutty. But they made a big mistake. They forgot to run it by the people first.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I love the way they dribble up and down the court...
Basketball isn't really my favorite sport. But it was very exciting to see GMU, my alma mater, make it to the final four this year! What a run...
One thing I've blogged about before and one thing that I've made fun of before, was the over-the-top response of UMd students to the results of their basketball team(s). They riot when they win; they riot when they lose.
Congratulations to the Lady Terps for their NCAA Championship OT win against the Blue Devilettes. And congratulations to the UMd student body for keeping it real - real fucking dumb. The lack of self awareness in these quotes is HILARIOUS:
from WaPo here and WaPo here:
- Still, several students said flooding the streets and setting fires were signs the women's team had finally been accepted.
"For us to have done that," said junior Amelia Faiola, "means they mean something to us."
- Shea Hoxie, 21, a senior majoring in government and politics and criminology, said: "I was disappointed we didn't flip over the bus. We rioted for the women's basketball team, which is out of character for us. We needed something to cheer for."
- Armon Emdad, 19, said he was opposed to the idea of disorder. "It doesn't make sense to destroy your own campus," he said. But he told a reporter he intended to join last night's crowd anyway.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
When I was very young, 3rd grade perhaps, there was an assembly at my school. A local politician - he may have been very local or maybe even as high up as our Virginia Beach congressional representative - came to speak to us about politics and what it was like to hold a job like his. I don't remember too much about it, but there is one part that I remember that just randomly popped into my head and I felt like blogging about it.
Now keep two things in mind about this:
- I was very young. I already said that.
- I am already mortified about this story but I'm trying to get past my embarrassment and I wanted to tell it anyway. So go easy on me.
So the guy gives his talk and then asks if there are any questions. I decided to ask one. This is what came out of my mouth: "Why do you go to war?"
Now, one of the things that has always bothered me about this event, besides my lack of preparation in formulating the question, was how this guy dealt with me. I think that as poorly as my question was worded, it should have been reasonably clear what I was getting at, this gangly 8-10 year old kid, asking a question to a adult stranger while surround by 300 of his peers, especially since this guy was a politician.
He answered me back with something to the effect of, "I've never been in a war." That was it; ball in my court.
I quickly revised my question to, "Why do you vote to go to war?" Again, this was somewhere in the neighborhood of 1980-1983 and there were no wars going on. Maybe I was thinking about the Falkland Islands conflict - who knows. Again, there should have been something that this guy could've seized on to talk about instead of humiliating me in front of the entire school. Politicians all the time give answers that are in no way related to the questions asked. Finally this guy said something about something and moved on, but I wasn't listening, for the sound of blood rushing in my temples.
The upshot is this: I've never understood war, and I still don't. Thanks a lot, Mr. Politician.