Monthly Archives: October 2007

Dan Abrams Must Die

I didn’t feel good enough last night to watch the whole debate.  I did record it, but it seems unlikely I will watch the whole thing.  Right off the bat, I was disappointed in Williams and Russert, the co-moderaters.  All day long, and I mean ALL DAY LONG, every talking head MSNBC has on their roster chimed in on what Obama and Edwards had to do to “topple” Hillary.  The emphasis of the coverage was about handicapping, and indeed critiquing the performances of the participants, before the damn thing even got under way.

Ok, there is an audience for this kind of crap, I’ll admit.  So, while I hate the practice, I understand that political junkies want this.  But what I watched last night pissed me off, because these two guys carry at least a whiff of credibility around with them.  Like Isaid, all day long, there was much said about “what Obama must do.”  So far, so good.   However, there is a huge difference in opining on strategy, and initiating it on behalf of another candidate.  If Obama had made the decision prior to the debate that he wanted to stay above the fray, that is his right.  He may very well have decided that he would do his best to stick to the issues, and not comment on Hillary whatsoever.  We’ll never know.  The first two or three questions literally forced him into saying negative things about Mrs. Clinton.  It was blatantly manipulative.  Apparently, the Moderators wanted blood, particularly Hillary’s blood, and they made sure they got it.

For the record, she is not my choice in the Primary.  If she is the nominee, though, I’ll vote, I’ll donate, I’ll volunteer.

Unrelated:  There was a poll released yesterday that said 52% of Americans polled supported military action against Iran.  The talking heads acted all surprised at the supposed “revelation. “

Then I saw the question, as asked to those polled: It asked, “would you be supportive of a military strike against Iran?”  That, like all polling questions, was so carefully crafted it bordered on brilliant.  Seems straightforward, until you see the word ‘supportive.”  People do not like to be “unsupportive” of our military, even when they think the mission is wrong.  Change that question to:  “Do you think we should strike Iran first, or exhaust every single diplomatic strategy available first?” and I think the numbers change dramatically.

If Abrams agrees to stay the hell away from MSNBC News Division, I’ll issue him a pardon and promise him safe passage out of the country.  Oh, but he has to fire Tucker first.

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Meet The New Media, Same As The Old Media

I suppose it was inevitable. What I hope is just a plateau may be the start of an uncontrolled descent into “Crossfire” land. What am I talking about? The blaw-goe-sphere. Yesterday over at Music City Bloggers was a thread featuring the original commentary stylings of Mark Rose, and had something to do with the “Top 40 reasons he is a conservative.” Now, I recently wrote what I consider to be a heartfelt post about why “Liberalism” is sometimes difficult to live by. For that, I was blasted for feeling superior to everyone else because I was supposedly saying “I live like this, therefor I am better than you.” or something like that. I don’t want to rehash it all in this thread, but I bring it up for a reason.

The post by Mr. Rose was a compilation of Townhall campfire songs and petty attacks and there wasn’t a single original thought in the entire vomitation. (did you know there are over 1100 slang words and phrases for that act?). It wasn’t remotely accurate, it wasn’t remotely funny, it wasn’t even well written. So, I kinda wondered why it merited being placed in the MCB que in the first place.

I think its numbers. I think there has been a slight shift in the modus operandi ever since some nonsense written by Glenn Dean approached 200 comments. I mean, he did actually say something to the effect of “yeah, I know what I write can be controversial, but look at how many comments!” (Paraphrased, heavily.)

Last week, it was Roger Abramson’s “I don’t understand women” followed by “Help, me, oh internet, why do guys like to discuss girls?”. I’ve seen Roger’s work, and have been a fan for a long time, even though we are political opposites, but I thought he phoned that whole thing in. Roger, got mad love for ya, but it came off as a bit contrived.

I really think MCB has turned out to be a pretty good aggregator overall. I also know that it started out as a knee jerk replacement for NiT, but was also supposed to eventually make money. Unless I am missing something, the way to attract advertisers is with hit counts, or something similar. So I suppose there must be some appeal to the idea of not necessarily posting the best of local blog offerings that day, but instead highlighting those that show some promise of generating “discussion.” But it is the quality of that discussion that I take some issue with. Like the endless talking head shows on television, it seems any real exchange of thoughts is too often buried beneath the din of partisan rantings, and that every thread will ultimately devolve into the same collection of self described Liberals and Conservatives slinging cleverly disguised insults at each other.

Just wait till January. The start of the Primary season will usher in 11 months worth of political noise. If it ain’t about the elections, it ain’t happenin. Now, I get that MCB is supposed to act as a sort of mirror that reflects the nashville blawg scene, and, being such, it should be a showcase for those bloggers that offer some insight on politics, whether its their opinion of one of the candidates, or perhaps just a commentary on the process itself. I’d really hate to see a year long blawg-goe-sphere equivalent of Tucker! Does anyone really think that Tucker Carlson has a show because he is among the best and the brightest? His show never, ever, ever offers anything fresh or even informative. He’ll ask a guest a question, and if the answer is too nuanced, or, frankly, not controversial enough, he’ll bring out his carefully crafted “c’mon, you don’t expect me…” schtick. Its tired, and its boring.

Anyway, my purpose here is not to bash MCB. Its pretty new, and it probably takes quite some time to iron out the wrinkles of a brand new internet venture. I know and like everyone there, and most of the contributors and staff have been to my home, so I consider them friends, even when we have hair pulling cat fights at times. My hope is that they read this in the spirit with which it is offered, from a loyal reader who cares about seeing their collective effort succeed. NiT and Pith in The Wind have been critiqued over the months and years, in fact, by some of those in charge at MCB, so it seems fair to see if they can withstand a little scrutiny.

I think I’d like to point my browser over there once in a while and not see the Recent Comments section over-run by the same three or four guys still lobbing the same old rhetorical grenades at each other on a week old thread. Perhaps thats just me. Maybe it is a tried and true business model that befits the day and age we live in. I’m kinda hoping not…

***Disclaimer*** I realize how much time and energy has been put into the MCB project, and that no one there has drawn a nickel’s worth of compensation. Even a web site like The Huffington Post, who I assume can and does pay pretty well, is frequently so shrill I can’t stay there very long.

I applaud the group’s commitment to the project and I wish them all due success.

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Before You Head Off To Church Today…

Consider this:  (copied entirely from an opinion piece by Lawrence Downes in the NYT)

I am a human pileup of illegality. I am an illegal driver and an illegal parker and even an illegal walker, having at various times stretched or broken various laws and regulations that govern those parts of life. The offenses were trivial, and I feel sure I could endure the punishments — penalties and fines — and get on with my life. Nobody would deny me the chance to rehabilitate myself. Look at Martha Stewart, illegal stock trader, and George Steinbrenner, illegal campaign donor, to name two illegals whose crimes exceeded mine.

Good thing I am not an illegal immigrant. There is no way out of that trap. It’s the crime you can’t make amends for. Nothing short of deportation will free you from it, such is the mood of the country today. And that is a problem.

America has a big problem with illegal immigration, but a big part of it stems from the word “illegal.” It pollutes the debate. It blocks solutions. Used dispassionately and technically, there is nothing wrong with it. Used as an irreducible modifier for a large and largely decent group of people, it is badly damaging. And as a code word for racial and ethnic hatred, it is detestable.

“Illegal” is accurate insofar as it describes a person’s immigration status. About 60 percent of the people it applies to entered the country unlawfully. The rest are those who entered legally but did not leave when they were supposed to. The statutory penalties associated with their misdeeds are not insignificant, but neither are they criminal. You get caught, you get sent home.

Since the word modifies not the crime but the whole person, it goes too far. It spreads, like a stain that cannot wash out. It leaves its target diminished as a human, a lifetime member of a presumptive criminal class. People are often surprised to learn that illegal immigrants have rights. Really? Constitutional rights? But aren’t they illegal? Of course they have rights: they have the presumption of innocence and the civil liberties that the Constitution wisely bestows on all people, not just citizens.

Many people object to the alternate word “undocumented” as a politically correct euphemism, and they have a point. Someone who sneaked over the border and faked a Social Security number has little right to say: “Oops, I’m undocumented. I’m sure I have my papers here somewhere.”

But at least “undocumented” — and an even better word, “unauthorized” — contain the possibility of reparation and atonement, and allow for a sensible reaction proportional to the offense. The paralysis in Congress and the country over fixing our immigration laws stems from our inability to get our heads around the wrenching change involved in making an illegal person legal. Think of doing that with a crime, like cocaine dealing or arson. Unthinkable!

So people who want to enact sensible immigration policies to help everybody — to make the roads safer, as Gov. Eliot Spitzer would with his driver’s license plan, or to allow immigrants’ children to go to college or serve in the military — face the inevitable incredulity and outrage. How dare you! They’re illegal.

Meanwhile, out on the edges of the debate — edges that are coming closer to the mainstream every day — bigots pour all their loathing of Spanish-speaking people into the word. Rant about “illegals” — call them congenital criminals, lepers, thieves, unclean — and people will nod and applaud. They will send money to your Web site and heed your calls to deluge lawmakers with phone calls and faxes. Your TV ratings will go way up.

This is not only ugly, it is counterproductive, paralyzing any effort toward immigration reform. Comprehensive legislation in Congress and sensible policies at the state and local level have all been stymied and will be forever, as long as anything positive can be branded as “amnesty for illegals.”

We are stuck with a bogus, deceptive strategy — a 700-mile fence on a 2,000-mile border to stop a fraction of border crossers who are only 60 percent of the problem anyway, and scattershot raids to capture a few thousand members of a group of 12 million.

None of those enforcement policies have a trace of honesty or realism. At least they don’t reward illegals, and that, for now, is all this country wants.

(H/T John Lamb)

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9 Volt Hell

Yesterday I traveled out to the country to look at some cows I plan to buy and move here.  I got up early to do this.  Then I had a very busy day, doing way more driving than I like to do when it is raining so hard.  So, last night, I stayed up a little later, and when it was time to go to bed I was so looking forward to a peaceful sleep.  At around 2:00 a.m. or so, every fire alarm in the house went off, so I bolted out of bed, and started inspecting every area of the house.  Finally, after 30 minutes or so of alarms with no sign of fire, I decided to just give up and go back to bed.  Then the alarms just suddenly stopped.  We all settled back in our beds and went back to sleep.  Roughly one hour later:  BEEP BEEP BEEP…..BEEP BEEP BEEP, it started again.  I can’t tell you how much self control it took to not chamber a round in my shotgun and blow that alarm right off the ceiling.  This time, they rang out for almost an hour, and I have to say, that sound, coupled with a complete lack of power, is more than a tad disconcerting.  So none of us here has had any real sleep.

I’d give me and the Primary Wife a wide berth today.  Just sayin.

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Out Loud, Weekend Edition

I just want to say this out loud to every single one of our “news” networks:  Enough of Brittney.  It’s beyond pathetic that you devote more time to her “crash” than you did to Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and what that might mean to fucking everybody.(Here’s a tip, it was way more newsworthy even if there hadn’t been a bomb, yo.)

I just want to say this out loud to Brittney:  Do it again.  Run over every single papparazi  you can.  Then, back up.  I can’t even imagine what kind of loser chases people around, invading their privacy, and snapping pics.  Sure, you’ll go to prison, but I’m willing to sacrifice a star or two if it means I’ll never again have to see these vultures hovering in front of some b-list star’s auto.  I watched that video, and I was wishing it had been his head under that wheel.

I just want to say this out loud to Ezra Klein:  Stop letting Matthews treat you like an amusement.  You’re a hundred times smarter than he is, and he is lucky to have you on…

I just want to say this out loud to Aunt B:  Yuck!

I just want to say this out loud to William, Andy, and RoR:  Stop arguing economics with Glen Dean.  It’s painful to watch.  Seldom have I ever seen a man so desperately clinging to the one book on economics he read like a life-raft in stormy seas. “But, but, its not a pie!”

I just want say this out loud to my daughter:  I know you laughed so hard you almost wet yourself when I called that driver an ass-wipe in front of you, but please stop telling everyone you know about it.

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Stupid Pet Tricks

I’m not going to comment much on Ellen Degeneres’ on air meltdown. I really like and admire her, but I did find the overwrought confession a tad unprofessional.

I consider myself a decent pet owner. Every dog and cat I have was adopted from a shelter, I spay and neuter them, and I assume they are healthy enough, they all look incredibly fit, and they all seem to be happy. I’m not particularly good about check-ups, there is only so much money to spend on pets, and so unless they exhibit signs of distress, we don’t go to the vet. I would have no trouble putting down an animal if I received an expensive estimate to heal them from something. I have had to put dangerous dogs down in the past, and though I hated to do it, I slept fine at night.

I imagine that some animal rights activists would consider me a bad pet owner. I’m cool with that. But this situation with Ellen Degeneres struck me as a monumentally stupid decision on the part of the shelter. If you haven’t heard, (it was actually covered on at least two major networks, if you can believe it) Ms. Degeneres adopted a dog from a shelter. I can only assume that she went through the steps required, (like I did) like a home inspection and the ridiculous paperwork. Somewhere in her “contract” with this shelter, she agreed to “not give the dog away.” After a period of time, and thousands of dollars spent trying to acclimate the animal into her home, she finally did give it to her hairdresser for her daughter.

The shelter has threatened to sue for “breach of contract.” They went to the hairdresser’s home, and confiscated the dog. The daughter of the hairdresser was rightfully distraught. Wait, that bears repeating: They confiscated the dog.

I understand that the shelter would be concerned about the new home, but why couldn’t they just interview the new owners and inspect the home while they were there? I bet Ms. Degeneres would have ponied up the bucks to pay for the expenses. I would relish the fight with a shelter that tried to dictate what I do with an animal once I have agreed to adopt it. The number of animals euthanized every year in virtually every county is staggering. How many people are now thinking twice before subjecting themselves to that kind of scrutiny?

Personally, I’d like to see a refundable fee required, say, 100 bucks. I’m sure people looking for an animal to intentionally mistreat won’t be inclined to spend 100 bucks to do so. So, 100 dollars is mailed back to you once you’ve had the animal for a year. I know I had to leave a deposit until I proved that I spayed or neutered my new adoptee. That seemed reasonable to me. I think the 100 dollar fee will dissuade those that probably don’t have the financial ability to care for a pet.

But, at the end of the day, I’d rather take a chance by getting some of these animals (particularly cats) into homes even if it is a roll of the dice. We’re going to lose a few to be sure. Is that more tragic than herding them into a tank and then sucking the life out of them? Every shelter I know is filled to the brim with adoptable animals. They can serve many useful purposes for many different people. I actually think every domesticated animal should earn it’s keep. My dogs watch the property, my cats keep rodents at bay, even the ridiculously high strung Pomeranian alerts us to people at the door. Even companionship is serving an important need. But I think its ridiculous to treat abandoned animals on a par with say…abandoned children. This shelter made a bad decision, and I think they have cost some in their charge a chance to be placed in loving homes.

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Stupid Clues

15 letters, the clue is:  Sleepy bears take this.  I’m waiting.

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My Own Personal Time Portal

When I was a kid, one of my favorites places to go with my Mom was to what was known as “The Burrito.” Her sister bought that business from her, and she would go visit and chat, and if I wasn’t in school, I went along. Almost every memory I have of my Aunt is of her sitting on one of those folding step stools, with a large tray of warm corn tortillas and another of cooked pork in front of her, dutifully rolling taquitos. Every once in a while, she would reach over and hand me a freshly rolled but un-fried taquito to eat while I watched the employees in the front serve customers. It was a busy place. Located on a busy intersection in East Los Angeles, it was widely regarded as the best Mexican food around. So, I always asked for a Red Burrito, which consisted of pork simmered in red chile sauce and refried beans. The menu there was large, but simple. Red and green burritos were the most popular items, followed by the taquitos, enchiladas, and tacos.

That restaurant thrived for 25 years. After I left the area, in fact, the State, if I was even close to Los Angeles I would make it a point to go back and eat there. Even as an adult, the smells wafting out of the kitchen were familiar and comforting. The taste never changed, not one bit. The building is not even there, anymore, sometime in the 80′s it was razed and something else went up on that location, but I can’t remember what.

Now, I have had Chile Colorado all over the U.S. and Mexico, and the closest I ever found to my Aunt’s was in Albuquerque, and I used to eat it for breakfast almost every day. Red chile with chunks of pork ladled over scrambled eggs, accompanied by fried potatoes and warm corn tortillas will start your day, and your metabolism off right. I was never healthier than when I lived in New Mexico. 325 days of sunshine, red chile every day, dry, cool climate. I was 175 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal. In fact, it was then and there that I met my life partner. I will always love New Mexico. But I digress.

Yesterday, after years of searching, I found (believe or not) a canned chile Colorado sauce that is damn close to what I ate as a child. I bought a large pork loin, and cut off around 14 chops, then I cubed the rest and placed it in a bag of flour and kosher salt, pepper, and oregano. Then I placed it all in a large fry pan of heated olive oil, infused with onions and garlic and, once it had browned thoroughly, covered it with Las Palmas Chile Colorado Sauce and put the lid on and let it simmer an hour or so. In the meantime, I made rice with chicken broth and tomato bullion. (earlier in the day I had prepared a pot of fresh pintos that was simmering as well) .

What a meal fit for an afternoon of football! My kids are used to me trying to perfect the dishes of my childhood, and they were eager to dig in. My boy, who usually eats like a bird, wolfed down a 2 pound burrito and two helpings of rice. My girl, who eats like Albert Haynesworth anyway, ate more than I did.

If you ever want to try this dish but don’t have the time or the access to fresh red chiles, go to your local grocer and look for the brand I mentioned above. Make enough for company, then invite people you love. The children of your village will sing songs about you. I promise.

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Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

One thing about time spent atop a tractor, it lends itself to all kinds of introspection. I have spent the last two days catching up on chores I wouldn’t do in the heat. It seems boring and repetitious to the casual observer, going back and forth with a disc , turning up soil to prepare for next season’s crops, and I guess it can be, but I actually look forward to that time. (bear in mind that one cannot completely go mindless when operating a tractor, they are rather top-heavy with a front end loader, and tip over from time to time) Anyway, I have much on my mind, three of my closest friends are struggling at the moment, and I am wrestling with my faith and my place in Le Grand Scheme.

Aunt B has a post up this morning about Jews, Christians, and that horrible Coulter woman, and, I’m sorry, I just don’t care. I don’t give the proverbial two shits about what that woman has to say, and I even think discussing her latest outrageous statement is playing into her little claw-like hands. She is exploiting the anger in this country to sell books. She is not emblematic of Christian ideals in the least, and I think dissecting or comparing Faiths is a monumental waste of time, particularly when prompted by something Ms. Coulter said.

I often wonder if there is some label for people like me, who, while avoiding church like an I.R.S. audit, still feel that there is value and importance to keeping connected to a Higher Power. I don’t worship. I don’t feel for a second that God needs affirmation or accolades. That would make her needy, and theres that whole Higher Power thingy and all. So, what, then, is it that I expect of myself and my relationship with the H.P.? (I’m going to employ initials from here on out, I trust no one will think I’m talking about Hewlitt Packard)

One thing I never placed any value in when I was young was the comfort and reassurance of tradition. Catholics certainly depend on it, as do Jews. I clearly see that in troubled times, having some structure and rituals in place could keep a person grounded enough to see their way on through. I do sometimes wish I was attached to tradition a little, that feeling part of a large tribe with a long history should indeed bring about a feeling of peacefulness. But I don’t.

Which leaves me with only the Bible to use as a reference to what the H.P. might expect from me. Or does it? Growing up in the United States, I have had zero exposure to any other Scripture, and I think that is most people’s experience, unless they are Theology students. So, off and on for around 40 years, I have read through the Old Testament, (skipping over a boatload of “begats”, I’ll admit) and I have come to feel that it is a lot like a game of “telephone”, only centuries in the making. Please don’t feel like I am trivializing what it means to millions of people, I am speaking only of my experience with it.

That leaves me with the New Testament, which again, to me, tells the story of a great teacher who invoked the name of a H.P. and in doing so, gave credibility to his message of peace, forgiveness, and love. It strikes me as more than a little odd that since that time, anyone else who has attempted to do this has been at best derided, and at worst suffered slow, painful death as a result. Has no one else been deemed fit to deliver a more, say, timely message from On High? A few years ago, I read a series of books by Neal Donald Walsh called “Conversations With God” and I have to say, the exchanges in those books resonated with me more than ANYTHING I ever read in the Bible. I’m not here to debate the premise or the content of those books, but, rather, I’m wondering if we could ever allow ourselves to accept new teachings from someone who claimed to be delivering it from God himself?

I think I would. I have long taken issue with the idea that life is just something to get through to earn your way to a better place. The idea of being fearful of the One that created me is just so foreign to me that I am instantly irritated by the thought. Also, the idea that I am somehow flawed, or lacking in any way strikes me as preposterous, and is rooted in the need to control. I subscribe to neither of those views. Rather, I feel that I am representative of all that is God, and as she evolves, I evolve. It is simultaneously comforting and terrifying.

Ok, so here’s my question for those of you that study Religion or have advanced mathematical degrees:

Is there some name, some label, for someone like me, that feels the H.P. knows that the ultimate experience is the process of becoming more God-like every day? That there is no end-game, that the real beauty lies in the fact that the life process is somewhat circular, and constant, and that he rejoices when we “advance” no matter how quickly or slowly? I may find out that I am Buddhist, perhaps, or Wiccan, possibly, I really don’t know. I should add that I really don’t care that much, except to say that I could at least cling to the notion that I am not such an odd duck. (Though I really hope heaven is like the one on “Defending Your Life”, I mean, all the food you want and no chance of gaining weight? Forget the virgins, I’m getting to the point I’d rather have a great meal anyway…)

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McStrip Search Award

I remember seeing this on television. I watched the hour long segment the entire time with my jaw on the floor. Here it is, in a nutshell:

Anonymous person calls restaurant, posing as a police officer, and informs manager on duty that one of her employees may have stolen from a customer.

Caller instructs manager to bring suspected employee into office and interrogate her, then instructs her to strip search the suspected employee, and finally, instructs her and her boyfriend to have the suspected employee perform sexual acts.

They do all of this.

Its not until another older employee rejects the instructions of the caller that the ordeal stops.

Manager is fired, her boyfriend goes to prison for five years. Poor employee sues and is awarded big bucks.

But then, so is the manager. She gets a jury awarded 1 million or so.

And nowhere in this whole scenario is anyone talking about the fact that there are people preparing food in this country that would submit to acts of humiliation like this, or that would perform illegal and humiliating acts like this, on behalf of a policeman on the phone?!!! Have we become such sheep that any authoritative figure, disembodied or not, is to be obeyed without question?

I haven’t figured out how to tie this to Dubya yet, but give me time…

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