Saturday, January 31, 2004

A million reasons to do the Friday Five

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?
My mom. But she probably wouldn't be home.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself?
A house. The downpayment at least.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else?
Lunch? Or a celebration dinner.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom?
Yes. An Asset Development outfit- New America Foundation's Assets program, Center for Enterprise Development or the Center for Social Development. Or something like that.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how?
Absolutely. Real estate and stocks

Joe Lieberman Death Watch, Day #3

Error in yesterday's Death Watch. Joe drops one other name in his press bio, that of the incumbent Senator he displaced in 1989, Lowell Weicker. But the bio fails to mention the innovative campaign tactic he pioneered that year: highlighting the number of Senate votes missed while ignoring whether it mattered, the percent of votes they cast, etc. He ran on poor attendance. Won. And now every Senator is so scared about their voting record, everybody votes on everything but for nothing. Quite the legacy. Why spoil it now?

Friday, January 30, 2004

Joe Lieberman Death Watch, Day #2

Joe showed up at the Debate last night. You know, the forum at which the candidates for the Democratic nomination got together to discuss issues. I'd like to note, neither Carol Mosley-Braun nor Bob Graham (remember him?) showed up on stage. Where's the decency Joe?

Fun facts about Joe:
Claims credit for writing the bill which forms the core of No Child Left Behind. The only name he drops: John McCain. Not Al Gore (as in vice-presidential candidate of). In which primary was Joe running again?

Won Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest, 1999 (see page 2 on linked page). Funny good, being the punchline, bad. Quit.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

What he Said

Or something like that

How are we defining 'Responsible Groups' Nowadays?

The Post's TV Column picks up on the MoveOn hullabaloo today (if Lisa de Moraes is taking shots at you, you're in the wrong. It's that simple). CBS opens its mouth and inserts foot. See:
"CBS is unaware of responsible groups that advocate drug abuse and smoking by minors, so it is hard to understand how these laudable efforts would constitute 'controversial issues.' "

TegWar is unaware of responsible groups that advocate massive budget deficits out the ears- particularly with impending demographic shifts portending increasing pressure and risk in the future on said budget and the economy generally- compounded by continued revenue slashing policies, so it is hard to understand how these laudable efforts would constitute 'controversial issues.'

But I'm not living fat off the rent free use of national assets so nobody gives a damn what I think.

Joe Lieberman Death Warning

I am hereby placing a Death Warning on Joe Lieberman- the campaing not the man. A Death Watch has been in effect for 380 days. Much like weather forecasting, a watch is triggered by conditions which suggest the collapse of his campaign, the warning is prompted by the observation of the phenomena. And Joe's status has now been updated to a warning. Among the signs which have led to the heightened condition:

declared himself in a three way race for third place.
previously chronicled Joementum
His campaign, incomprehensibly, has a mascot. A talking dog. It gets even tougher to believe as you learn more.

As it currently stands, Day 1, still standing.

Dear Abby, You Suck

Dear Abby:

This year my in-laws sent me a peek-a-boo nightie with thong panties for my birthday. I've met them only once.

I am shocked that they sent a gift like this to me. They have never sent me a birthday gift before (and I am not complaining). But I do not wear thong underwear.

Obviously, I will thank them for thinking of me. But how? And how can I tactfully suggest that they not send me something like this in the future?

Shocked in North Carolina

Try this: "Dear Folks, thank you for remembering me on my birthday. I admit I didn't expect to be thought of in quite that way by my husband's parents! With love, your blushing daughter-in-law."

That's all she can come up with. I'm not even asking for her to take a shot at some good natured humor, how about some analysis and thought?

How about? Maybe comments from your husband prompted this gift? Has he complained about you not "sexing it up" recently (by the way, not wearing thong underwear is not necessarily a problem in this instance, if you know what I mean). Portends of communications issues, hmm? Are you newlyweds and generally what's the deal- having only met the in-laws once and all. Do you "owe" them some grandkids they want you to get cracking on? So many unexplored options here.

Or how about suggesting she talk to her husband? Or just emailing her in-laws a picture of her in the peek-a-boo... showing that she's making use of it, enjoying their gift and all of that. I guess that might send the wrong message and create unrelated problems.

Dear Abby:

I just got off the phone with my 14-year-old niece, "Megan." What I found disturbing was the fact that she was home alone waiting for the tile man to come to the house. Her parents knew he was coming and had instructed her to stay home to let him in. Megan's dad suggested that she have a friend over while the tile man was working. I feel this situation is potentially too dangerous for a girl Megan's age to handle. Am I right? Concerned in Northbrook, Ill.

Unless Megan's parents had used the tile man before and knew him to be trustworthy, I agree that your niece was placed in a vulnerable position. It shouldn't have happened.

While there may be safety in numbers, the girl's father had no guarantee that a friend would be available. Please share your concerns with Megan's parents if you haven't already done so.

I'm all for being protective of kids and getting them through childhood and adolescence without being "broken," but at some point they have to start acting like they are almost adults. Are you going to allow your kids to stay home alone at a certain age (and by 14 certainly seems like a good age to have started this practice)? While home alone, are they supposed to hide and act like nobody is home if someon should come to the door? Or, are they supposed to start carrying their own weight, pitching in, and all of that.

14 is plenty old enough to handle the task laid out. It's too young to handle or avoid the " danger of a stranger when you're alone," but I don't know that we ever hit that age. The prime question: would a 19 year old, 25 year old, 30 year old, etc be in a better position if things when too far from kosher? Count me skeptical. In other words, we're all placed in vulnerable situations and have to learn to smell them out and a scheduled visit from a home repairman seems a good stepping stone. Overreacter.

Dear Abby:

My husband and I are discussing divorce after only eight months of marriage. Neither of us is happy, and I guess we weren't as ready as we thought we were. I feel terrible about the $20,000 my parents spent on our wedding, not to mention all the beautiful and expensive gifts we received from family and friends.

Should we pay my parents back the money? What should we do about the gifts? Please help us do the right thing. Not Happily Ever After in Texas

I commend you for wanting to do the right thing. Any gifts that have not been used should be offered to the people who gave them. Cash gifts that have not been spent should be returned. Offer to repay your parents for the wedding expenses, but it should not be necessary. The wedding was their gift to you.

Abby at least avoided citing the tacky rule of thumb: If the marriage lasts a year, keeping the gifts is completely fair game. Anything less and returning the returnable is appropriate.

But Abbs (a nickname? who am I, the President?) fails to offer an encouraging word... a lots of couples struggle adapting to married life, a fall back to the standard rejoinder of a counseling recommendation, or calling for a whole evaluation of is it you/ him or other things that are causing your strife.

Most gallingly to me, is the failure to tell Princess (that's what you get when your parents drop a family sedan on your wedding) that not everything in life is going to be peaches and cream. Life lessons that never get taught because Abby isn't terribly interested in doing much of her job. Now, that's sad.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

A slander poll from the "objective" news media

According to Howard Kurtz's Media Notes column this afternoon, one the main exit polls asks the following question: "Regardless of how you voted today, do you think Howard Dean has the temperament to serve effectively as president?"

What the hell is that? How is that appropriate? How is that newsworthy as opposed to being a media effort to drum up a story line?

For years, the central and growing complaint about campaign coverage has focused on the tendency to analyze campaigns as horse races (who's ahead, who's gaining, strictly positional matters) over issue and content based coverage. One of the principal evils here has been the spread of polling. With a poll, any idiot can write a wire story without knowing two bits about the candidates. Now, we have polls being used to create the news, to serve as the sole source of news, and potentially derail a campaign. Incredible. Disheartening.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Not that they're early on this, but Tapped has made the point on the whole MoveOn ad during the Super Bowl dust-up which was on my fingertips. Namely, CBS turned the ad down as "controversial" but will air Drug Awareness messages during the Super Bowl. In recent years, ONDCP has run Super Bowl ads equating the kid who buys pot on the street with an aid to and financier of terrorists and last year the pregnancy test ad. To be clear, I have no problem with CBS airing ONDCP ads during the Super Bowl. But let's not act like those ads are not controversial, political, or anything else that the MoveOn ad is. With the exception of one difference... critical of the administration. And that, in CBS' world is apparently beyond the pale- so beyond the pale that MoveOn's money isn't worth the paper it's printed on at CBS (which come to think of it, with the deficits and all...).

MoveOn is trying to be provocative (they wanted the first spot after the kick-off) as is their right. CBS, broadcasting on public airwaves, has chosen to deny the voice of an organization of citizens in favor of the voices of America's corporate and governmental voices. Tell me again how this is the land of the free and not some corporatist or fascist state? It is crap like this which makes the difference unclear.


I could attempt to analyze the particular phenomena of Joementum (I'm unclear whether this should be followed by an ! at all times but it might not matter)- the perception or appearance of movement without any actual progress occuring. A drunk on a treadmill would be the more graphic depiction. But we can eschew all that tough thinking stuff (whew!) and simply say this:

That's it. We can now (finally?) officially declare him over, right?* Although I imagine Smokin' Joe will carry on for another week or so- one might call it Level VIII on the Levels of Losing scale. Hell, even his mom gets it (Headline: Even His Mom Wonders Why Lieberman 'Didn't Catch On').

* So, yes. I may be a little bitter after watching at least two candidates drop out before Lieberman immediately after declaring Lieberman the front-runner in the "next to drop out" primary.

Monday, January 26, 2004

"This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket"

The little photo-op/ weirdness in New Mexico last week between Bush, the Press, and some ribs struck me as odd and pathetic at first. I also learned that the President has apparently run out of nicknames and is spreading the moniker "Stretch" among several members of the press corps. Maybe he's traveling in wider circles than he was when he began this nicknaming business (or we can rely on other explanations as appropriate). Now the Rib Trip is a metaphor. Seems President Bush doesn't tip (scroll down to "The Ribbing, Part II"). Initially, it was a sad window into the relations between the President and the press- they're asking him petulant questions which have nothing to do with the current moment (if I were the President, I'd act weird and condescending toward them too in this instance) and he's playing to score economy and normal guy points. In a rather dopey manner. But now. Sure it was just takeout, but that's not an excuse. Not when you're trying to deliver an economics lesson.

Mister "spend some money and help the economy out" didn't bother to leave a tip. Which means the restaurant owner (i.e. capitalist) gets his profit, the worker gets his/her base wage (and as a waitress that's a really base wage). And Bush aims to walk away smellying good. Apparently "this lady" is the owner not an employee. But we should have known that already. Welcome to Bush's America where workers get shafted at every opportunity and money in their pockets is a correctible accident.

Friday, January 23, 2004

On that quote thing...

Compare, if you will the following portion from this week's State of the Union Address:
Nine months of intense negotiations involving the United States and Great Britain succeeded with Libya, while 12 years of diplomacy with Iraq did not. And one reason is clear: For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.

To the following quote (The attribution has been obscured so as not to ruin the fun. Highlight after the ~ to see):

"You can get a lot further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone." ~Al Capone

Same idea, more veneer?

Remember, the negotiations and UN resolutions with Iraq regarded disarmament of their weapons of mass destruction arsenal (as well as the WMD programs). To date, it certainly seems this had been accomplished some time ago.

At this moment, what is your favorite...

The Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" has caught me lately

Presently, I might be willing to kill for some spaghetti and meatballs- with an excellently seasoned sauce.

3. show?
Six Feet Under

4. ...scent?
Warm, Fresh Bread. Particularly in the morning.

5. ...quote?
If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?" ~Ironically attributed to Unknown

Monday, January 19, 2004

Credit where credit is due

I've given Dear Abby a hard time before (and mean to again in the future when she punts). In the interest of fairness, Dear Abby did a pretty damn good job today.

Dear Abby:

I am a girl in the fourth grade, and there are some mean people in my class. They're always making fun of this girl from China.

When I see them teasing her, I want to be nice to her -- but I'm afraid if I am nice to her, they will make fun of me.

I am one of the cool kids. Abby, please tell me if I should be her friend.

Trying to Be Nice in Pennsylvania

You are an intelligent, compassionate girl. The time to be a friend is when somebody needs one, and your classmate certainly needs one now. One effective way to defuse this kind of harassment is to speak up and say that you don't think what the bully is saying is funny.

Another way is to tell your parents, your teacher and the principal what is happening. That girl is being harassed because of her race -- and it is against the law for that to be ignored. So don't wait. Speak up now. I commend you for writing.

This letter is her only weak spot today. She says the right things, but fails to call "Trying to Be Nice." You only feel like being nice to your classmate when she's being picked on? That's a start, but try being friendly toward her all the time, that's how you can become a difference maker. And the assertion that she's "one of the cool kids" wreaks of "Beta Girl" syndrome (for more on this, see here, here or here for an application of the idea to the media machine) afraid to risk her status in the catty hierarchy. Here's an opportunity to encourage the clearly sympathetic "Trying" to push toward "gamma girl" status. For shame.

Dear Abby:

I am a 38-year-old divorced mother of two boys, ages 12 and 14. My boyfriend, "Nat," is divorced and has no children. We've been dating for three years. He is my best friend, and we get along great.

I am very much in love with Nat, but he says he will never marry again. I try dating other men, but they don't measure up to Nat. It seems Nat could get along fine without me in his life. I don't feel the same. Tell me, Abby, what's his problem?

Waiting in the Southwest

Nat doesn't have a problem. You do. You have fallen in love with a man who has made it clear that he is unwilling to make a commitment to you and the boys. I give him credit for being honest with you.

Nice and blunt like it needs to be. She should probably encourage "Waiting" to get rid of "Nat" (unless he's great with her kids, etc) because there's a real danger in "needing" someone who doesn't need you in return.

Dear Abby:

My co-worker's 20-year-old son recently committed suicide. His mother was a single parent and the young man had long-standing emotional problems.

We are a department of about 20, and all her co-workers felt heartsick for her. All of us contributed toward the funeral spray.

When the funeral arrangements were finalized, the information was e-mailed only to about half of us. The rest -- including me -- were not invited. On the day of the funeral, the "invitees" came to work dressed in dark suits. It was very awkward.

While it is true that a grieving mother is justified in doing whatever makes her comfortable, I feel my feelings were not considered at all. I am deeply hurt that my gesture of sympathy was unappreciated.

Slighted in New Jersey

Get over it. Your co-worker lost her child. You seem to feel that because you weren't invited to the funeral, you somehow lost face.

A funeral is not a party. It's also not a social gathering. Your grieving co-worker wanted those people to whom she felt closest around her when she buried her son. She does not deserve to be criticized for it.

And here's where Abby hits it out of the park. That's right "Slighted," it's not even remotely about you. If the mother of a suicide victim not inviting you to the funeral moves you to "deeply hurt" status, I'd hate to see how actual insults, personal tragedies, and general misfortune affect you. Please, for many reasons only lightly touched on here, clip this column, take it to a therapist, and get help.

Friday, January 16, 2004

He's not playing around. Or is he?

It's good to see that even when you're the President, recess still means play time. How else does one explain the recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the appelate bench?

I am not one who cares what reason the Senate Democrats had for blocking a judicial nominee. Be it religious wackiness, poor temperment, racism, or too lenient on embezzlers, I do not give two bits (one bit, sure. Two, nope). Except for one reason- inexperience. That one matters to me. Otherwise, trump up whatever reason you want from time to time. Hopefully it is relevant. Hopefully they don't get carried away. By all means, do fight against systematic court packing. Particularly as it relates to movement conservatives (you know, the type who pretend to be "strict constructionists" or dissemble on "founder's intent" but only apply that half-baked doctrine half-way by choosing to ignore, for instance, corporate history). If they mean to make war (over seats on the bench), then war is what they should have.

Back to Pickering. The opposition to this confirmation originally focused on Pickering's alleged poor civil rights record. Which makes the day after Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday the ideal time to sign off on Pickering's (and only Pickering's) recess appointment. Are they serious?

Yesterday, Bush squeezed in a wreath laying at King's grave between fundraisers. He was heartily booed and protested outside of the tomb- the crowds reportedly pushed through the initial perimeter only to be blocked from expressing their displeasure by several city buses parked barricade style. Maybe the protesters were out of line (maybe not), though I am glad to see one of the Bush protests (they occur virtually everywhere he goes) actually get close enough to reporters to have "happened." Is the Pickering appointment payback? Part of me says they cannot possibly be that petty. But, if this is not a response, then it is the result of a plan which, at best, gives not a damn about about his detractors and at worst aims for antagonizing the "overly sensitive to racism" crowd. A uniter not a divider, indeed.

The Fiver, It's about all I have been posting recently.

1. What does it say in the signature line of your emails?
When I attach one, it's: Quickly, being me a beaker of wine so that I may wet my brain and say something clever. ~Aristophanes

2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be?
Hell if I know. My Senior year yearbooks were destroyed before they were distributed (yay, construction!).

3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say?
PLSSTOP (Please Stop)

4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? What did the inscription say?
A rock which reads "Joy" and another which reads "Create."

5. What would you like your epitaph to be?
Husband, Father, Gentleman

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Shows what I know

No sooner had I deemed Joe Lieberman the frontrunner in the "next to drop out" primary than Carol Mosley-Braun drops out (choosing to endorse Dean). Either a stunning turn of events or it just goes to show what I know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Thoughts as Primary Season Kicks Off

Yesterday was DC's non-binding and utterly meaningless primary which Dean won 43% (or so) to 34% for Sharpton, Mosley-Braun's 12% and Kucinich's 8%. The Iowa Caucuses are Monday followed by New Hampshire's Primary a week later. As positions and preferences now become serious and start to count for something, my read on the state of play:

Dean. Not many people were excited about Dean before me (tuned into him since June of 2002 at the latest, thank you very much). I certainly have not become a "Deanie" and have never committed myself to "he's got/ gonna get my vote" status. That said, my interest in him for the time being at least has peaked. I simply have not been feeling the energy from his campaign this past month or so. The concern with Dean is his organization- namely keeping them motivated for the nominee, in the case that it isn't Dean. The problem for Dean is the front-runner's problem. He's no longer defying expectations (which is all the press gives a shit about) which leaves him with only two outcomes: failing to meet expectations or doing what he's supposed to do. Neither one produces surges of support though meeting expectations over time is a challenge that will say something about the strength of his organization.

Kerry. Apparently coming back from the dead. He entered the race as the front-runner. He slipped badly and currently sits third in current New Hampshire polls. A third place finish in NH for the Massachussetts Senator would almost certainly be fatal. Which is why he retooled his strategy and has spent the majority of his time in Iowa of late. A strong showing in Iowa (an almost 2nd or better that could involve knocking off either "local boy" Gephardt or "front-runner" Dean) which reenergizes the campaign in New Hampshire propelling him to a strong enough finish there (strong second or a win) to keep turning "energy" victories into strong showings in the subsequent wave of primaries. For Kerry, a powerful bounce out of New Hampshire will be very important to creating desirable results in the February 3 primaries. If he doesn't create enough magic in Iowa, the whole she-bang could fall apart quite rapidly.

Clark. I initially strongly disliked Clark's decision to skip the Iowa Caucuses. If you feel you can't show well in a state during the primary season (particularly one which the Democrats can carry in November), do you have any business being the party's general election candidate? But Clark faced special circumstances from his late start and the importance of an established organization in the caucuses. I still dislike the strategy, but he earns points for consistency (he has skipped the ensuing Iowa debates) and executing the skip Iowa strategy masterfully. He's busy running around New Hampshire passing Kerry in the polls and eating into Dean's formidable lead. If nobody comes out of Iowa hot and Clark keeps his momentum he's in a great early position.

Gephardt. I think Gephardt is in trouble. He's poised for a dogfight in Iowa from both Dean and Kerry (with Edwards moving up just enough that he could be a player in the volatile caucus system). If he does not win Iowa, there is not much momentum to be gained and he does not sit in a strong position in New Hampshire right now. Gephardt looks like he needs the other candidates at this point to keep the race jumbled with several viable candidates in the race into March if not later.

Edwards. Edwards is where the action is. From the Des Moines Register endorsement last weekend to enough growth in the Iowa polls to pull him into feasible striking distance of the leaders, Edwards is picking up the most favorable coverage. This seems particularly appropriate to me. Edwards, policy wise and vision wise, has been the most articulate candidate. He flashes details and specifics with his platitudes, an art the other candidates do not possess (His history as a trial lawyer certainly serves him well in this regard). A strong showing in Iowa (which currently seems very likely) followed by a similar finish in New Hampshire (currently the longer shot but Iowa's momentum may change that) places Edwards in a great position as primaries move to the South. There is, as always, a danger here if he doesn't win South Carolina. If I were picking a candidate right now (I've got more than a month before my time comes), I'd be hard pressed not to pick Edwards. I've said before that there is just something missing from his campaign but that may have changed.

Sharpton, Mosley-Braun, Kucinich. Not really relevant but also not really going anywhere (i.e. away). They had their high points in DC I imagine which is sad since it didn't count for anything.

Did I forget anyone? Oh, right. Lieberman. The one clear loser in all of the Democratic manuevering is Joe Lieberman. He's not running in Iowa (even though he's been in the race for over a year). He's not showing strong in New Hampshire. All along Liebeman has relied on the February 3 Southern primaries as his launching pad so these developments are not terribly troubling. Certainly, Lieberman would prefer to do well in New Hampshire to make things easier down south. But that does not seem to be happening. More troubling for Joe would be the momentum that Kerry, Clark, and Edwards (in no particular order) are building. Particularly if two of them come out of New Hampshire "hot" along with a still strong Dean. That would seem to be real trouble for Lieberman. My overriding concern with him is his negativity. When he goes negative, he drops personal bombs which, I think, dampen the support for both the target and for Lieberman. As appealing as he may be come general election season (I don't see it), he strikes me as a better candidate for next to drop out than for the nomination at this point.

Monday, January 05, 2004

5 Guesses what this is

What one thing are you most looking forward to . . .
Either emails and conversations or a homemade pizza

2. ...over the next week?
Catching up with an old friend

3. ...this year?
Finding Inspiration

4. ...over the next five years?
A home to own.

5. ...for the rest of your life?
That deep and meaningful family thing.

Retrospective on 2003: A Personal Perspective

2003 was really two years for me, or rather two distinct half years split almost perfectly in the middle. The first half a story of endings, the second half a tale of beginnings. I said goodbye to good friends who life moved to far away corners east and west. My advancing age qualified me for lowered car insurance rates. Which I promptly followed by the totaling of my car (way to go, wait until you don't pay for insurance like a teenager to drive like one). And a new car in the second half of the year.

My "work wife" left the office for a new assistantship. As it turns out, this was a prelude to my own departure. By mid-year, the first phase of my career concluded. Co-workers left for points distant. Farewell parties were had. Interestingly, to me, my departure was sealed 42 days before "mid-year" (June 30); my first day of work at my new job- 42 days past mid-year. Progress in some ways, not so much in others. I have traded meaning for something else, freedom for a springboard. As much as a shock leaving was, I knew (without knowing) it was coming. I could feel a growing degree of disgust souring me.

Early in the year, I contemplated reviving old dreams and goals, not realizing their time had past. As the year progressed and the first season ended, I freed myself from these illusions of an old future. I developed new ideas to answer the nettlesome "What do I want to do when I grow?" Writing, or more precisely editorial work, began to capture the spaces of my imagination. Shortly after the mid-year, this blog was born. Intended as a vehicle to help me rediscover my perspectives and my voice, it has been both a success and failure thus far.

The first half of 2003, it turns out, I was losing me. Shedding the markers I had been holding onto. In the second half, I began to find a new me. Still gun-shy, but dreaming anew in 2004. Here's to further discovery!