Thursday, November 30, 2006

President Carter's Take on Iraq

From Young Turks on Air America radio:

Well, you know, it (Iraq) has been a disaster. I think the administration and the present administration and even the neo-cons who orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, all look back on it and know it was a very great tragedy.

Its alienated most of the nations of the world away from us, dropped the esteem for America - the popularity of America, the trust of America to unprecedented lows, and now of course what we are trying to do is not to succeed in our original plans but to get out of Iraq with a minimal loss of life and prestige.

I think in many ways anyone that would argue that is was a success or a good decision, would be totally wrong. I'm not going to criticize President Bush because I agree with him on many things, but I believe that this was one of the biggest mistakes in foreign affairs that I've ever known. - Jimmy Carter; 39th President of the United States

President Carter added tonight on Anderson Cooper 360 that perhaps the greatest tragedy of all that gets left out of most discussions is what Iraq did to our efforts in Afghanistan. He said that we had the opportunity to defeat the terrorists there in that country, to rebuild it, and maybe even make it a model of self government, with the support of the world rather than snubbing the world as we did in Iraq.

There's a custom that ex-Presidents don't "criticize" sitting ones, so I'm sure that many people are furious with both Clinton and Carter for their words lately. But let's face it, folks. Its quite obvious how history is going to remember George W. Bush (and Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Clarke), and it ain't going to be too sporty. Carter isn't remembered all that grandly himself, and he'll look like Honest Abe Lincoln alongside Dubya someday.

So to expect these men to play dead and not speak up is foolish. At some point it becomes their duty to do so. And honestly, if Bush goes much further into denial and continues to plow us further into destruction, I expect his own father to become a bit more assertive. To call Clinton and Carter's words partisan at this point is off base. It is akin to calling people partisan for wanting to find an end to Vietnam in the 70's.

Shameless personal plus that can't be verified, but I'm telling it anyway: In late 2002 and early 2003, I wasn't blogging, but I was very active on political message boards. I had been a Republican since college up until then. I began to see how people with a hard right view took the position of "kill em all". I also recognized that Hans Blix, the ultimate authority on WMD, said we were wrong, and our government suddenly decided he had no credibility.

I therefore took a very early stance against what I saw coming. I remember distinctly posting once that all of a sudden Iraq was being talked about by all the radio hacks at once, and they were using the same talking points. I said that it sounded like a PR campaign for an attack and I didn't like it. Soon afterward as the covert spin became overt, I asked how you would ever know you "won" something like that if the Iraqi's didn't "throw flowers" as Bush claimed.

I said that if dark skinned people attacked and occupied our country, I would be a freedom fighter, and I doubted that the dark skinned people felt any different about us occupying them. (I also pointed out that one of the tenets of Southern Republicans was NRA membership and their right to bear arms "in case they had to revolt or defend themselves". These are the very people who call the insurgents
"terrorists" today and seem to not have any clue that they would be the first ones to take to the streets if this happened here.)

Of course, the right wing of the political board I was on hated me. They believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that they were responsible for 9/11. Although both of these have been proven false....they probablystill do.

Its classic "don't bother me with the facts" arguing. And I can't stand it. I just wrote about two Democrats below who are accused of taking bribes. If the facts convict them, I want them out of office as badly as I want Cheney out. Ok, not true...but only because Cheney can do MUCH more damage due to his position.

The question is: What will it take to make them listen? And what will it take to get Republicans in Congress to speak up alongside America? The truly amazing thing is that John McCain was named today as the "front runner" for '08, and he appears to be willing to favor the war as long as Bush wants to stay there.

What is winning? Four years later, its the same question.

Why Memphis Will Never Be Nashville or Atlanta

There has always been lots of discussion around the economic surge in Nashville and why Memphis has been mired in stagnation. Many people blame "white flight"...the movement of the upper middle class east of the city, to Germantown and Collierville and south to Desoto County.
But in reality Memphis voters, whoever they are, have held the future of Memphis in their hands for years....and they have chosen to fail.
Today two city councilmen were charged with yet another bribery scandal.
The players?

1)Edmund Ford: Yes, one of those Fords. Brother of Harold, Sr. and defrocked state senator John...and uncle of Harold, Jr. (Sidebar: I believe if you look at the tiny margin of vote difference between Ford and Corker, the "Ford Family" reason for choosing Corker single-handedly beat Harold, Jr. Both of my parents were aghast at my support for Ford, purely on THAT basis. "You would vote for one of the FORDS?" Not fair to Harold, Jr., but dang...gotta admit it continues to look bad.)

2)Rickey Peete: This one is a classic Memphis story. It might remind you of Marion Barry. See Peete's a councilman because he got his voting rights back....see, because he lost them.....see, because he was in jail...for bribery, see? What is this idiot thinking? You'd think he would kinda check out a dude who tried to pay him off. Like maybe have him followed for a MONTH. But no...he allegedly took the twelve grand...and now he's probably screwed.

I can't really make any great contribution to this story, because I am not close enough to the people who consciously choose to elect people like this, as well as our mayor, Willie Herenton. I'm sure they have their reasons, and I'm sure they feel those reasons are sound.

But until I know and understand, I am disappointed and disgusted by these voting decisions. How could it possibly hurt Memphians, black or white, to elect progressive candidates who vote on the basis of moving Memphis forward AND NOT CASH??

Perhaps someone who voted for Peete after he got out of jail the first time will post here and help me understand.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Christian Nation?

Garrison Keillor writes a surprising article about non-Christians, who he says need to "get a life" or "work with it" if they are going to live in America, and if Christmas bothers them.

This is an issue I've considered many times, and I actually brought it up recently to a friend of mine. I was at some function, which escapes me at the moment, and pretty much every prominent Memphian was there. The occasion called for an invocation, and the Christian minister, an evangelical, not only concluded with "In Jesus' name we pray, Amen", he also inserted the gospel into the prayer with something like "and thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross for our sins".

Afterward I asked my friend if he noticed this. He said, "what do you mean noticed it? Its no different from what we hear in every other prayer." I said, "True, but do you know how many Jewish business owners were in the room? How do you think they felt as they heard this?" To which he said something like, "aw, they're used to it."

Well, perhaps. But this issue goes well beyond Christmas and Bill O'Reilly's claim that the holiday is being "hijacked" and that companies are forcing employees to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas". (Which, true to BillOh, has been shown to be another of his lies.)

Anyway...Newsweek says over 80% of evangelicals favor prayer in public schools. That's an easy one, right? I mean, they will state plainly that, "we are a Christian nation, and taking prayer out of schools has led to increased violence and disengagement be students. But how would you feel if you were a Jewish taxpayer?

In the comments that follow the majority is definitely lashing out at Garrison for his "get over it approach". Here's just one excerpt of one letter (one letter of dozens so far):

Here's what Christmas meant for me as a kid: Being forced to sing religious carols at school while harboring a secret fear that God would punish me later for doing so; utter confusion at home about why we had a tree and presents and opened them Dec. 25 but couldn't call it "Christmas" (my family's well intentioned but very flawed way of trying to fit in); a profound sense of alienation and outsider status that followed me well into adulthood (not entirely due to Christmas, but never more obvious than around the holidays).

Public schools are publicly funded. Jewish and Muslim people are American citizens and they pay taxes. Both of these faiths hold as a base belief that there is only one God/Allah, and that belief or worship of any other is the most serious of all sins.

If Christians would stop and take an honest look at this fact, we might understand how a young Jewish girl could FEAR singing "Silent Night". Should her parents (or the ACLU on their behalf) keep quiet about their tax dollars being spent for this?

Now...I don't advocate a sweeping beaurocratic clamp down on Jesus at Christmas....of course not. The key here is common sense and respect for all Americans. If two of my direct reports are Jewish, and they have been listening to songs on the Muzak about the Christ child for days in a row....I should be respectful enough to change that in their environment if it causes discomfort.

You think you disagree with me? How would you like to go to work for a company that played audio tapes of Islamic morning and evening prayer? You would storm and stomp and say, "Thats fine in Saudi Arabia, but this is America!" And you would be right....and America is a country of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, no matter who you are.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How Republicans Trick Us With Language

A great blogger named Kelly Gorski introduced me to an absolutely incredible piece of writing called "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff.

Give yourself some time to read it...its 36 pages in pdf. It concerns Republican strategies, social theory and framing language (much like this book recommendation I posted previously.

Here is the link: Don't Think Like An Elephant.

(I probably haven't made it sound all that exciting...but if you are a person who continually wonders why people vote for Republicans NO MATTER what they do, you need to read this article!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Abortion & Queers: Surely Its All That Matters

Seems that the Rev. Joel Hunter has proven to be a man of principle. Doesn't mean he isn't heavily in favor of outlawing abortion and queers...but...but...wait for it....

For this Christian evangelical pastor, there are actually MORE things on a Christ-centered agenda than JUST abortion and queers!

Well, of course, the bad news is that Pat Robertson and the rest of the Christian Coalition couldn't jive with that, so Hunter resigned.

Does Pat MAYBE think this looks a bit bad? Might a FEW of the CC members see that Hunter quit because he "hoped to include issues such as easing poverty and saving the environment". (Hell, no wonder the Coalition didn't want him. Think how many blow jobs might be perpetrated while we're out there FEEDING SOME KID. The nerve of these liberals.

Now listen to what the CC told Hunter when he had the nerve to mention those snot-nose poverty people. ""They pretty much said, "These issues are fine, but they're not our issues; that's not our base,' "

Our base.

Its not our base, see?

You know...from the Greek word alkjoivuw,mn,mdlkuu, right? Where Jesus said, "feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, yadayadayada.... but jab them fags in the eyes too, and get out the vote to make women drive to a different state for them abortions. And most of all, understand your base."

(Why is Jesus so misunderstood? Those instructions are pretty clear, right? The only way they would be more simple would be if he LEFT OUT EVERYTHING AFTER THE "PRISONER"!)

Our base simply looks toward the queers and the baby-killers. Full time job though it is. And don't get us wrong. There are tons of organizations who do that poverty stuff. We're all for em. But look...we didn't build this place on the boring issues. Look, just that Sodomy Series on CD alone built that steeple over there.

Enough for now. I have a lot more to add to this story, but I may go have gay sex and an abortion, just to get the taste out of my mouth from this putrid story. Ok, so I can't stomach sex with a guy, plus I can't get I'll do neither. But by golly I threatened to.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving and AAF

My third book recommendation of this blog:

Thanks to the spirit of the holidays, or luck, or fate, or good old-fashioned assertiveness on my part, I got to spend some time with a dear friend. For that, I am thankful.

I told my friend about a book that guided me toward a path of liberal Christianity (and afterward,liberal politics). I thought I should post that book here.

Click here for the Amazon link to "If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person"

Now, my friend grew up in the same evangelical mold that I she hasn't had the luxury of ever hearing a viewpoint any different from the modernism of literal textual interpretation. Anyway....that's beside the point. Just understand that topics like this can be tough on others. JUST LIKE the topic of fundamentalist Christian certainty can be tough on millions as well.

I am not recommending this book because I 100% agree with it. Actually one of the biggest premises in the book is one that I can not support. However, I believe these two Quaker ministers, Gulley and Mulholland, have truly captured the spirit of grace in which I believe.

Do yourself a favor and get this book.

And Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy the blog......and AAF.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Salon's O.J. Simpson Revolt

Ok...its not SALON's revolt.

Its the letter writers' revolt in response to this article.

You might want to allow yourself an hour or so, because there are over 150 comments, and the number is growing. I know you think you won't read them all, but it draws you in. (And of course, I'm in there with my two you have to look for me.)

Salon is by far my favorite "magazine" on the net. I've come close to subscribing several times lately, and then a story (or three) would concern me to the point that the mission and direction of the publisher is unclear.

Lately there have been more and more stories about Madonna and Britney and Angelina and "Tomkat". I don't know what they were about, because I haven't read them, anymore than I've ever purchased a National Enquirer from my grocery store.

Then there's the story above.

Now, I'm a liberal, see. And I don't know that I've ever defined that in this blog. I mean MY definition...not Bill O'Reilly's or Al Franken's. I'll do that sometime, but for now, let me just say that it involves social justice and forgiveness, and more than anything else, respect for each and every individual.

Stories like these (and many, many of the comments from readers across the internet) are void of any individual respect at all. So here's where my own politics get tricky. Why? Because there are obviously a whole lot of liberals out there who generalize about other groups, and who fail to see each individual and to understand that we can't generalize, because we simply don't know the whole story.

What's funny about the whole thing is this:

The author, Debra Dickerson, writes to defend Judith Regan by explaining her particular story of abuse. Yet in the same article, she makes the generalization of ALL TIME, and the now infamous quote:

But you're alive, because you're a wuss -- a "remnant," as a girlfriend of mine scornfully calls the limping, deficient crop of men available to us as single mothers of a certain age.

Ah yes....let's classify every single man born in the 60's while we sanctimoniously defend a rich publisher and her particular claims of spousal abuse.

Was Regan abused? We don't know, and that is far from the point. The point is, EVERYONE has life experiences...context, as Malcolm Gladwell calls it. This context molds our actions and our relationships.

How is it that Dickerson can recognize that in Regan, and yet, when it comes to men, they are simply deficient? Or when it comes to one particular black man, she feels comfortable enough about her place in this world to ask him to end his own life?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Free Republic Blogger Arrested for Terrorism

Who is surprised by this?

A 39 year-old self-described conservative, who claims to "worship" Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Michelle Malkin, mailed "white powder" to several celebrities and broadcast journalists.

His victims included Keith Olberman, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, and even NANCY PELOSI, about to be third in line for the Presidency.

What is "terrorism"? Many people believe it is simply killing or injuring people. It is more than that. It is, per Wordnet:

the systematic use of violence as a means to intimidate or
coerce societies or governments

Sending white powder to the most powerful woman in America is an attempt to coerce and intimidate our government. Sending white powder to television personalities who have the ear of the country is an attempt to intimidate and coerce the SOCIETY.

THIS GUY, if he is guilty, is a terrorist. Is the point of this post to pile on a poor conservative? NO. The reason this story is important is because right-wing Americans are posting all over the internet about how "America is finished" and "the terrorists have won" and "We will be speaking Arabic very soon".

This doomsaying nonsense is SO prevalent on the internet that I really don't think its disengenuous partisan bullshit. I think they honestly believe this. Rush and O'Reilly have succeeded in making these people actually believe that people in the middle east could successfully stage a Normany-style invasion of Virginia Beach. And after they pull that off, they somehow have the ability to occupy every corner of America and install a Muslim state.

How ridiculous is this belief? These people are scaring their children, and my children, and they are just plain WRONG. Yes, we have to carefully and expertly manage the nuclear abilities and activities in the world....JUST like we have had to do since the late 40's. This HAS NOT CHANGED AND WILL NOT CHANGE. (Except for the NEW terrorists we have created by invading Iraq, which was no help at all to this task.)

But to believe that somehow radical Islam will "take over America" is stupid...and to further that bullshit IS TERRORISM IN ITSELF.

Where did this worshipper of Coulter and Malkin get his ideas of who "deserved" his white powder? I think we all know the answer. And how often do these folks hawk the war (and the defense industry and the military machine) by painting the picture of Arabs feeding lions with Christians in Texas Stadium?

Well, if you read the message boards of both left and right websites, you know they must paint these pictures VERY OFTEN.

Here's the deal, America. Iraq is a fraction of the size and a fraction of the population of the USA. WE have the strongest military in the world by twenty or thirty times the second place runner up. And yet....the BEST we've been able to do is hold onto a few blocks, called the Green Zone, in the capital city.

We have the BEST MILITARY IN HISTORY, and that is the best we can do. And these wingnuts really, REALLY believe that someone is going to occupy US one day? Folks, the only enemy who should be feared that seriously is the enemy of division here at home. The way things are going, one of these days, a sitting President is going to say, "well, things are too unstable in the world for me to step down. I'm calling off the election". And when that happens, we are changed forever.

And EVEN THEN, our own military could not control us, even if they supported this rouge President. There is no way to control guerrila tactics in a country our size.

In summary...this dude wanted SO BADLY to continue the hysteria of terrorism, that he became a terrorist himself. Chances are, whoever committed the Washington white powder crimes a few years ago was from a very similar vein.

Let's please stop the hysteria. It is good to be prudent. But for 50 years prudence meant relying on our military, CIA and FBI to manage the threat of nuclear holocaust and violent crime from outside our borders. We must continue to fund these sources of our protection. And THEN WE MUST ALLOW THEM TO DO THAT JOB. Hysterical message boarding is no help to is simply a form of terrorism.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Purity Balls"; Dobson, Daddy, and Disgust

How I missed this, I'll never know. Paragon shares this video of Purity Balls, and Feministing adds that this gets federal funding.

Here's what the clip shows: Girls apparently between 2 and 17 go to this Prom-of-sorts with their fathers. It says they get dressed up and some arrive in limos. There's a voice-over by James Dobson (Ted Haggard's "scared straight" coach.) He tells the story of a 17 year old girl who says that she doesn't desire boys the way all her friends do. According to Dobson, this is because she is sitting on her father's lap, and therefore HE is fulfilling "every girls desire for the affection of boys" or something like that.

Then the video shows the dads and daughters reciting and signing these covenants, in which the dads vaguely promise integrity, while the daughters promise to abstain from sex until marriage, so as to give yourself as a wedding gift to her spouse.

I sit here wanting to give commentary to this troubling culture, but I simply can't get my head around it.

I've lived in the South all my life, and I grew up in a church where Dobson's writings were always readily distributed. But I've never in my life heard of anything like this.

I can vaguely recall a couple of "youth revivals" when I was in high school or college when the evangelists asked us to promise God we would abstain until marriage. I don't recall whether I ever made that promise or not, but I don't think I did. Not to give myself too much credit, but I think I was bright enough to realize that I didn't know what the future held, nor what my ability might be to fight off the power of the small brain. (See toward the end of this story to get an idea of how that turned out.

In all seriousness I do know what a noose guilt can be to a young person. It was implied to me, if not outright stated, that guilt was a good and healthy thing. Well, I can maybe see how it got the desired behavior out of me from time to time...but then again, I really believe that when I did the "right thing", it was mainly for very practical reasons.

I don't want my kids to be saddled with guilt. At 41 I generally behave within the bounds of socially accepted norms, and that behavior is no longer driven by guilt, but by understanding the reasons behind these behaviors being wise. What parents are generally saying, then, is that kids aren't capable of wisdom, so let's strap em down with guilt.

Kids ARE capable. But like me and all adults, they are also capable of screwing up. And when they do, I don't want THEM to be screwed up because of it.

I hope to do a better job of blogging this particular story, but tonight I'm just too blown away by the ramifications of this video.

I'm also greatly troubled as to how sex has somehow become the end-all, be-all sin for all time, while most of us have many other planks in our eyes. These other planks may not cause nearly the guilt, but they cause people to go hungry, they cause the earth to exhaust her resources, and they cause division among the peoples of the earth.

Personally, I think sex is the most talked about subject, to be so rarely experienced in the lives of most people. Hey, not that I wouldn't like it to be more of a factor in my life (ok, a factor at all), but at least I won't raise my kids to believe its dirty and filthy. Having a spouse who has been the victim of that upbringing, I know what it does to rob two people of intimacy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ed Bradley, American Hero, Dies at 65

One of the greatest broadcast journalists in the brief history of television has died today.

As time passes, more and more of the people I grew up with are passing away. That is, of course, an obvious statement. But it does cause me to be very sentimental.

And it also causes me to question....Who can replace Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace and Andy Rooney? I mean really?

Anderson Cooper? Shepard Smith? I doubt it. Nancy Grace or Greta Van Sustern? LMAO! Not.

But isn't what was "journalism" is progressing to today? Opinionated and biased, without the gift of questioning that Bradley, Wallace, Larry King, and other veterans possessed.

Lastly, where are the African American replacements for Mr. Bradley? Since the disappearance of Bernard Shaw, there are too few.

I do fear the loss of the Greatest Generation. I don't think my generation wants the pressure, or possesses the work ethic, to take their place.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Haggard's "Choice" for a Blow Job

Here's the latest on Pastor Ted Haggard from Salon.

I've avoided this issue, for no other reason than its on every blog on the internet. Also, I knew the real story would be how the fundamentalists spun things.

Would they realize that homosexuality is a genetic reality? That the reason homosexual clergy in homo-unfriendly denominations are a reality is that they were once young men who felt they could hide from their true self if only they became ministers?

No. Instead they are putting Ted Haggard in what the communists would call a re-education program, under the leadership of James Dobson.

James Dobson is a demigod where I come from. People swear by him and finance him. That's fine....people do need to "focus on their family". But the belief that gayness rubs off on people is simply wrong.

Look, if it were contagious, I woulda caught it. I've worked closely with some great guys who were gay, and I've gone out drinking with them, and talked politics with them. Here's the scoop, folks: I could be at the bar after five beers and four months without sex (which is usually), and I'm STILL LOOKING AROUND APPRECIATING THE FEMALES IN THE ROOM. That is who I am.

(And by the way...they are smart enough to know that, so Dobson should know that these folks aren't "recruiting" anybody, EVEN IF that were possible.)

A couple of issues here, and I'm not going to try to document any of this, so you'll have to search for the supporting research.

First, I'm beginning to believe a premise I first heard from an Episcopal priest, a heterosexual I respect greatly. He believes that every person has within their genetic makeup SOME formation of BOTH homo- and hetero- attraction genes. This wouldn't be on a bell curve distribution, because it appears obvious that hetero behavior, not in small part due to procreation, is the predominate preference.

But when you look at people like Ted Haggard, who have five kids, it would support the notion that he would sit somewhere in the middle of that distribution. A "flaming queer" on the other hand, would safely fall on the homosexual end of the scale. And me? Well, I'm in the George Castanza category.

Remember that episode of Seinfeld, when George got the massage from a man? It moved. The fact that it moved convinced George, to his holy terror, that he was gay. Like George, my homo genes are rather non-existent. It would take my back being turned on the massage table for "it to move", and the movement would stop suddenly once I turned around.

Men don't do it for me, therefore I can't be recruited. Therefore I have no stake in voting for anti-gay laws rather than electing officials who will care for my safety and economic well-being.

Second Issue: If you think the above might be true, it would stand to reason that SOME homosexual experiences do amount to a choice by people, no different than any sexual one-night stand is a choice. So yes, probably there are teenage boys (and probably more girls) who are doing same-sex stuff because it is counter-culture and cool. Perhaps the battlefield that James Dobson has made this issue is the REASON it is counter-culture and cool. However, I can tell you that when I was in college, the only thing that would have made me try it would have been a large handgun aimed at me....therefore I still say its about the genetic makeup that would even make it possible. Just as a "flaming queer" would have never been able to stomach experimenting with the opposite sex.

Which brings me to this: If you read the Salon story, or just the quote issued by Haggard's overseer, what do you notice. Let me post it:

"I am a sinner. I have fallen," Haggard wrote. "The fact is, I'm guilty of sexual immorality." Mike Jones' allegations, the pastor insisted, are not all true, but "enough of them are true."

"Part of my life is so repugnant and dark," Haggard said in the letter Stockstill read. "I've been warring against it all my life." He told of how he had sought counseling to address his sexuality, which he said cured him for spells. But then, he wrote, "the dirt I thought was gone would resurface ... the darkness increased and dominated." Haggard asked his congregation for forgiveness for him, and also for his accuser, who he suggested was inspired by God to reveal his "deception and sensuality."

What do you see about illegal drug use, adultery, or paying someone for sex? Nothing. Why would that be?

Its simple. Gay sex is the end-all, be-all sin these days. I'll never forget in about 1984 a girl asked me out to homecoming at another university after she saw me in a play. I gladly accepted.

I drove down there and went to the game, and then came the time for "what do you want to do now?". This question was posed to me, since I was the guest. I suppose I answered nervously with the usual choices, which led her to ask, "you aren't gay are you?".

Being only 19 years old, I didn't have the self-understanding and presence to say, "no, not at all. I just come from a very conservative upbringing, which can be very tough in the guilt arena, and on top of that, I'm a little afraid of a girl this aggressive, cause I've never met one."

A few hours later, after things obviously went her way, I rationalized the guilt with the argument, "I damn shore proved I wasn't gay!".

What does this have to do with the topic? That was over TWENTY years ago. Admittedly that was a time that "are you gay" would have been the ultimate insult. But even then I had justification for meaningless hetero sex, DUE TO the gay issue.

What about kids today? Don't you think their young horny minds can build those rationales even stronger? Look again at the Haggard quote and ask yourself.

What about committed married men today? How long will it take someone to go on a business trip and meet someone and think, "well, pastor Ted's sin was queerness...what's the harm in hiring one of these poor whores as long as its a she?"

What about that married woman who gets so little real conversation at home? How easy today is it for her to say, "My husband is probably gay anyway. I need attention, and there's nothing wrong with this."

Now I'm one who believes that the mind will come up with rationale for sex if the body wants it bad enough, but still....does the evangelical church REALLY want to continue this process of RANKING sins like this?

We must get past this issue in America, just as we had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1969. Homosexuality is no more a choice than race. If it were, Pastor Ted would have NEVER chosen a man for a massage and a blow job.

Sex Is Still All They Got, President Clinton

If you want to know what thrills an old man of 41, I'm about to share it with you:

Click here for video

Unfortunately I don't know how to post a click thru image to YouTube. If anyone knows, please tell me.

Now....go watch that clip.

Here's part of the transcript...but reading it absolutely can't describe the genius of Bill Clinton:

The campaign that has been run against Jim Webb is just the sort of most grotesque example of this formula they're running all around the country. It goes something like this. This is their message, pretend I'm their guy: 'OK, we really messed up. I mean, this Iraq deal didn't work out too good and now we put Afghanistan at risk. And we probably shouldn't have put that horse show association guy in charge of FEMA... And you know, it was embarrassing when our senior White House aide that dealt with Mr. Abramoff had to go to prison. But Karl Rove didn't know him very well, he only had 485 contacts with the White House. And he's shy, Karl Rove, you've got to know him 486 times before he knows you. Yeah, we've got a lot of problems but you've still got to vote for us. 'Cuz my opponent is a slug. And they're going to tax you into the poorhouse. On the way to the poorhouse you'll meet a terrorist on every street corner. And when you try to run away from that terrorist you're going to trip over an illegal immigrant. You can't vote for 'em. I mean, is that it?'

(Credit to lowkell at Daily Kos for the transcript.)

I overstated, right? This doesn't REALLY thrill a man of 41.

Actually it did thrill me. I realize I'm a person watching life from the sidelines if life involves anything outside my children...which is rather sad. But Clinton's words, and more so, his abilities, produce joy and sickness at the same time.

Its a joy to watch a true extemporaneous speaker (a key requirement in my own job) craft his art.

Its sick to realize what we lost in Clinton and what we gained in Bush. And I love comments to my blog, but PLEASE don't leave the tired message, "At least Bush didn't shoot off on a blue dress."

At this point, I would be in favor of allowing Clinton to have "Fireside Jerks" on CSPAN if we could get our war dead back...if we could un-create all the terrorists we have created....if we could help the people of the Gulf Coast...if we could regain our stature as the world's MORAL AND FAIR leader.

Yes, I know Clinton's speech is partisan. That was his job last night. But is he wrong? "My opponent is a slug". That's a campaign?? "The terrorists will get you". HOW? HOW will they get me ANY different if a Democrat is making cash deals to give away control of ports instead of Republicans???

Let's all just wait about five or ten years. At that time, we'll see if Bush will be able to stand on his own two feet and make even an AVERAGE speech without five teleprompters. We'll see in another ten or twenty years how Bush is remembered (Nixonesque?) and how Clinton is remembered (the last person to deal with deficit?).

For now....we must each do all we can, and vote is all we can do. Today I will vote against two Republicans who have no chance of losing. But I go out in the rain for two reasons (other than my own conscience):

1) Because I've never missed a chance since my oldest was four of taking my kids to the polls. And by the way...she is 13 now, and a STAUNCH Republican, although she is beginning to doubt due to Iraq. I don't try to change her mind on that...on the contrary, I am proud I have helped her to be interested and informed. (Alas though, for all my Episcopalian leanings, she is all Baptist.)

2) Because today all across the land, people whose vote MATTERS need desperately to get out in the rain and stand in line and VOTE. I stand with them in my own line, even though my vote is a hoax in Mississippi.

And I must say: If I have a hero alive today, it is William Jefferson Clinton. (And yes...I do happen to like big girls with dark hair. I'd actually take Monica out in public.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Get Your Very Own Presidential Pardon

Look, we all make mistakes.

And for those of you who have accumulated enough wealth, there's no longer any reason to fret about the consequences.

Visit Bush's Prez Pardon Site to get all the details.

But see the FAQ's for information on prepayment options, wire transfers, and accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. And if you order today, you can get an 8X10 of Barney, the First Dog.

The Legal Drug Debate

Salon had a humorous article today, about an African-American professional helping her aged mother with her ballot. On the ballot was an initiative concerning marijuana.

In short, her mom said, "Jesus didn't smoke no weeds"....which was all she needed to know. Thus, her vote was no.

Well, I happen to believe that legalizing AT LEAST marijuana is one of the most important steps we could take in 1) reducing the deficit, 2) getting people out of jails who don't belong there, and 3) stopping crooks, black marketers and terrorists from profiting in this trade.


Anyway....what I wanted to share was this response to the article. The following paragraph states my fundamental opinion on this better than any I've ever seen:

I am sure most of the posters could care less about those folks. A not too wise man once said "George Bush doesn't care about black people." The truth is most of us really don't. If we did then we would not turn so many of their neighborhoods into war zones so that fewer of "us" run the risk of addiction.

The reason this is SO powerful is because this response is written to LIBERALS who read Salon. Many of the responses were from liberals who simply wrote off and discounted legalizers as "dope addicts" and "justifiers of their own addiction".

I must say now that I have never inhaled. (As a matter of fact, I've never even held a joint or pipe or whatever. I'm not a saint...I've been known to partake of hydrocodone recreationally, but I've never even seen marijuana outside of "drug education".

Forget the scientific evidence of how much safer weed is than alcohol (and tobacco). Forget the tax dollars and ridding us of crime. Just think about this man's point:

We care so little for black people that we are willing to turn their neighborhoods into war zones, JUST cause our own white folks MIGHT be less likely to try it.

How powerful.

And yet....we've already HAD an experiment in prohibition. Far as I know, there's NO proof whatsoever that fewer people TRIED alcohol, LIKED alcohol, or GOT HOOKED ON alcohol back in the days it was illegal.

The only difference was the supply and demand realities: Crooks, politicians, bureaucrats, policemen...many of them were the ones who profited. And even sadder....the ones who were HONEST were in more danger in their jobs. Its the same today.

I believe that if drugs were available in the same way that alcohol is available, that crime in this country would decrease by 70% at a minimum.

And believe, my family, my friends....we are ALL more likely to be a victim of CRIME than we are a victim of drug abuse in today's world. You know why?? Because IF WE'RE GOING TO BECOME A DRUG ABUSER, WE CAN DO THAT JUST AS EASILY NOW AS IN A LEGAL DRUG ENVIRONMENT. The only difference is the crime and who profits.

I'm for the crime to go away.

Diebold & Repubs; Arms Length?

The War Room reports on a troubling communication from Ken Mehlman to his flock. I've already reported satirically on my opinion of voting machines, and this seems to reinforce my fears.

Here's the story: Taegan Goddard reports the following:

The RNC just sent out detailed talking points about how unreliable exit polls have been over the past several elections. The key arguments are that exits polls typically have a Democratic bias and have wrongly predicted Democratic victories in recent years.

According to a source, the RNC expects leaked exit polls to show Democratic victories and do not want the news to discourage Republican voters from going to the polls late in the day.

Ok, so let's examine. Some believe that once the winner is obvious, people will just stay home from the polls. I think this is over-stated.

The two Democrats I look most forward to voting for are running against Trent Lott (MS Senate) and Roger Wicker (MS House). I don't even know those Democrats' names, and I DO know they are going to lose. But I can't wait to vote for them.

People who care vote. (Some of them even know the candidate names, unlike me.)

So is there another reason for the "talking points memo"?

Well, remember 2004? Exit polls showed significant victories in Ohio for John Kerry. When the voting machines tallying the "actual" vote count, he lost.

Do exit polls "favor Democrats"? Or do those voting machines favor REPUBLICANS?

How do exit polls favor Democrats, by the way? Is this yet another racist and elitist argument? Sounds like they're implying that "the smarter, whiter Republican voter is smart enough to lie to those librul exit pollers. The poor, dumb, minority libruls are honest."

Yes, honesty is such a Right-Wing Christian trait until libruls ask questions (or until a male prostitute outs you.

Maybe there's another reason that asking people questions "favor" one side or another....but take out pure lying, and I can't figure out what it is.

I'm concerned about this....I really am. Have we seen ANY sign that people are NOT willing to rig an election to hold office? Have we seen ANY sign that other people wouldn't take 20 or 30 million bucks to reprogram a computer program? No to both. And 20 to 30 million is chump change for what's at stake here. (Disclaimer: Yes, Democrats have people willing to cheat, just as much as Republicans. I'm just not sure Dems know any computer literate people. Just kidding.)

Look, Diebold is a company that 1) has an interest in Bush's tax cuts, and they ain't worried about the deficit, just their own stock price, and 2) Most of their bucks come from the banking business historically. Now what party do you think the banks are all for? (Hint: They ain't worried about the deficit either. They need the artificial prop-up in housing prices to stay put for as long as possible.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Virginia Sheriff & Deputies Busted

CNN reports that about 14 people are a part of this deal.

Its pretty simple. The "good guys" confiscate the drugs on the taxpayers dime. Then the "good guys" sell the stuff out the back door.

SOME of the stuff they sell could get confiscated three or four times....thus sold three or four times. Its genius. And the folks getting arrested during all this are eating meals on the Virginia taxpayer.

The ONLY answer for this madness is to STOP THE WAR ON DRUGS. Legalize. Educate. Tax. Cut out the crooks profit margin.

Read a nice article on legalization here.

Plus, read the next article for another "War On" which can't be won.

Americans are so gullible....and as much as I love my own church, I can't help but believe its the churches that are perpetuating this "prohibition" thinking. I've got nothing against saying "hocus pocus" and making all the substance use and abuse go away. But here's the thing: IT AIN'T HAPPENING. And Prohibition proved a FAILURE 70 years ago!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Olbermann's Transcript on Kerry Apology

Here it is along with the video at Crooks and Liars.

My reaction to this is so odd. When Keith gets real like this, I'm amazed at how genuinely shocked and nervous I feel...for him...for myself...for America.

And then I think about how Rush and Hannity and Coulter have been ranting freely for years in subjective, one-sided spin zones, calling out Clinton and the libruls.

But it feels different, doesn't it? There's just this overwhelming sense that this government of Cheney, Rummy and Bush won't tolerate Olbermann's courage.

As to the Kerry issue, here's what he said, and without question ALL he did wrong was leave out ONE TWO-LETTER WORD in his statement. You can even see him look down at his notes at this very time, seemingly a bit lost. Now watch what the missing two-letter word does to his speech:

Leading up to the actual sentence, here's what happened, to quote Olbermann:

With bitter humor, he told the students that he had been in Texas the day before, that President Bush used to live in that state, but that now he lives in the state of denial.

So we have Texas, Bush's home state, and he's now in the "state of denial". Then follows the infamous quote:

"if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you can get stuck in Iraq."

Now add the one word: US. US. As in WE. You can get US stuck in Iraq, Mr. President. Alternatively he could have said "America". "If you don't, you can get America stuck in Iraq".

Kerry was talking about a President who has gotten by on anything and everything but studying. On anything and everything but making himself aware of the issues, of the cultural and religious realities of the Middle East. On anything and everything but the history of that region and why it will NEVER be a democracy.

But he left out one word. Now he's been forced to apologize.

Let me ask one question as food for thought:

How many misguided or mistaken quotes do we remember from the Vietnam War? How many politicians are remembered for one sentence they uttered concerning soldiers or marines or sailors or the Presidency during that war? None.

Yet how DOES history remember that war? Remembers it loud and clear.

Even if this quote of Kerry's does keep the Republicans in power, it won't be remembered. It is this war that will be remembered by the next generations. This will be especially true when the next generation of terrorists attempt over and over to strike us again...because perhaps of the parents or siblings they lost in Iraq in the early years of this century.

(If you or a loved one is in the military and you think I am slamming you, I hope you will take my word that you are mistaken. Just as I love the mentors in my life who fought in Vietnam, I will love you. You have done your job as you were trained, professionally and nobly. You have no power over the politics of the cause or the psychology of Islamic freak jobs. Hear this: Just as the "War on Drugs" can't be "won", neither can the "War on Terror". Israel is about as big as a New England state, and if a nutjob wants to strap a bomb on himself and push the button, there's not a damn thing they can do about it. No more than the police can stop every cocaine deal. Only human psychology and education can fight drugs, and the same is true of fundamentalism and violence. As soon as they stop believing in the 50 virgins, and start believing that their real life sex drive is normal, they will stop. We must find a way to further that message.)

Here are my predictions for the elections:

The Democrats will gain no more than 15 seats. In the Senate, the Republicans will definitely keep the majority.

And I say it doesn't matter much either way. The Bush Administration runs this country, and Nancy Pelosi is ill-equipped, if equipped at all, to fight the true problems this administration has created.

In is too late. Our scars from Iraq, our place in the world, our deficit, and our polarization nationwide are all embedded now. We will see no improvement in any of these for at least ten years.

My Dad is 68. He is approaching a stage in his life that is very reflective. Three times now in the past couple of months, he has said, "I don't know what my grandchildren are going to face, but they will not live in the world that I knew. We threw away our super-power status, and they will live in a third-world country."

The thing he is saddest about, I can tell, is that he is powerless to change it, and guilty that he is leaving them behind to face it. He is so focused on this, I think, that each time he doesn't remember that he's already said these things to me out loud.

I feel guilty about it too. I voted for Bush in 2000.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

CNN Profiles "Hell House"

I wish I could link to this, but the feature is not on their site at this time.

The Hell House they visit is in Plainview, TX, and its rife with high budget horror costumes and special effects.

Its also rife with different "sin" rooms. The first one, for example, shows a demon leading a gay marriage. He says that being gay leads to death by AIDS and an eternity in hell. Apparently it didn't get any better from there.

To say the least, this disturbs me, a Christian. Obviously there are a world of things wrong with this, but I just want to cover one particular question I have:

If they scare these people into "accepting Christ" on the basis that they will get to avoid hell, is that really a Gospel principle, as the pastor claims in the piece?

Did Jesus really say He wanted us to follow Him for the purpose of staying out of hell? Certainly Jesus said there would be a judgement. But I'm not sure He gave this as the REASON to follow Him.

The Gospels don't report that Simon and Andrew or James and John followed Jesus after He said, "Follow me or I'll strike you dead"....or even "Follow me and I'll give you mansions in heaven". Jesus just said "Follow me". Or "Follow me and I'll make you fishers of men".

Seems to me if I follow Him because I'm only interested in avoiding punishment or gaining heavenly rewards, then I'm missing the whole point of the very selflessness He taught.

I suppose it is easier to get a 12 year-old to walk down the aisle if you appeal to their emotions, especially if you show them a visual of them burning in hell because they drank a beer.

But I honestly don't see a whole lot of difference between this and converting someone to Islam by the sword in the middle ages. A person converts for all the wrong reasons. And a person, for the rest of their life, perceives God as a maniacal dealer of fiery death to 80% of all the people He ever created.

You may not believe in God.

I may not believe in a God who burns 80% of His creation.

But you and I should both realize that some things are real whether we believe them or not. So God could certainly turn out to be the Being that some fundamentalists believe He is.

If that be the case, I hope you live in the Southern United States and dropped by a Hell House or a Tent Revival at some point in your life, and then repeated the correct words they taught you.

If you are one of the other 4 billion people who haven't heard it explained in that particular theology, (or if, like me, you disagree with that theology, even though we've experienced Fear Evangelism), then I don't know what will happen to us.

As for me, I depend on the true grace of God to be infinitely greater than these people believe it to be. And I depend on Jesus' death and resurrection to be accomplished for infinitely more of God's creation than these folks dream.

George Allen Hasn't a Novel Idea

How pitiful is George Allen?

First he initiates this make-believe controversy about Webb's novel being Triple-X rated.

Now Anderson Cooper at CNN is reporting that its all Allen is talking about at every opportunity. Apparently this is because Allen is sucking in the demographic of women voters.

Why does this man think women are that weak minded that they would change their vote due to FICTION?

I can see men being that stupid WAY before women. Hell, women love fiction. My own mother, and there is no more conservative, loves her Danielle Steele and Harold Robbins and James Joyce. My mother would never get one of those authors' creativity mixed up with the reality of the people they are.

As a matter of fact I think she would, if she lived in Virginia, be thinking right now...."That's all George Allen has got? This close to the election?"

The interesting thing to me is that the public polls released by the media don't show him to be losing so bad as to panic with this kind of strategy. Either he has polls that we don't know about, or he and his advisors are plumb stupid.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Voting Machines

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but during the last presidential election I began to get suspicious about the Diebold voting machines and how easy it would be to rig an election.

Now there's another angle on this. News broke yesterday that a California company is being investigated for connections to Venezuela and their menacing little dictator.

I wonder if there's been a poll on this? I wonder if Americans favor automating elections to the point that one bright programmer could choose the winner?

Now I've got a strong feeling that people are already screwing with electronic results...or at least fondling or heavy petting them. But won't it be funny when all this comes to fruition in about 2008? Can't you see Diebold "closely watching" the blue states, while Chavez puts it to the reds? Here's Wolf Blitzer on election night: "Well, contrary to our exit polls, it appears that Mississippi has gone for Hillary Clinton and Barrack O'Bama, while New Jersey has solidly gone for Jeb Bush and Bill Frist."

Is this not just another example of our lethargy? What would have to happen in this country to make people say, "hey...wait a minute"? Could Dick Cheney hold a press conference today and say,

"Thank you for joining us today, ladies and gentleman. I won't take any questions, but I want to lay out a few changes we will instigate in future elections, beginning immediately. This will save the taxpayers billions and will allow all of America to openly observe the process, exclusively on Fox.

"On the first Tuesday in November, we will invite a select group of citizens to Rootenpoot, Arkansas. These will be Americans who will go through the same fair and balanced selection process that we use to admit people to appearances by President Bush.

"We will subsequently have Bill O'Reilly as a guest moderator. He will verbally call the name of each candidate, and then say, 'All in favor, say Aye'. Mr. O'Reilly will then respond with 'The Ayes have it', and our great country will have its next generation of leadership.

"If you have any questions about the minor details of the process, tune in to Sean Hannity tonight, and he will tell you why its the only way to go. Thank you and good night."

Many thanks to Mark Rayner and The Carnival of Satire.
To those of you who found BTH in this issue, I hope you'll look around and leave some comments.

More White Women in the Senate Race

This time the white woman isn't
an actress pretending to chat up Harold Ford in a racist campaign ad.

This time it is Ford's opponent's daughter in a liplock, featured in her Facebook page.

In case the story becomes subscription only after today, I'll quote the high points written by Wendi Thomas:

But will the conservatives who believe homosexuality to be an abomination be turned off by the same-sex exploration of Corker's college-age daughter?

Will Corker's base question his parenting skills, given that he didn't teach his teenage daughter not to share her kissy-face moments on the Web with the world, especially not when daddy is trying to run a conservative campaign?

Although Junior could get plenty of mileage out of Julia's indiscretion, he's chosen not to. His camp, on the high road alone, won't mention Julia's kiss in any ads.

"Harold Ford is not going to attack Bob Corker's family," Ford campaign adviser Robert Sepucha said Friday.

For its part, Corker's staff says Julia was acting "silly."

The sexual orientation or legal sexual activities of the candidate or his family don't matter -- unless you've been courting the vote of people who oppose same-sex marriage and all things gay and lesbian. Then they do.

It was gutsy of Thomas to cover this story. Some will say it was the liberal media doing the Ford campaign's dirty work for them.

But I don't think so. Read my same sentiments in the Bill O'Reilly story.

This story is the same paradox. People who are going to vote for Corker are just like those who pay O'Reilly to give speeches. These things can easily be rationalized or justified, as long as the candidate promises to legislate morality for OTHER people, or the radio host promises to preach morality to the masses.

Yes, chances are this is a heterosexual girl doing things that turn hetero guys on. But here's what this Facebook photo proves to me:

No matter what the "law" says, these "morals" that make fundies come out and vote for Republicans are behaviors and lifestyles that WILL NOT go away. Just as sure as there's no stopping two blondes from kissing in a bar to get attention...whether its legal or not.

So why not cast your vote on the basis of who will manage our economy, our foreign relations, our security, and other traditional government roles, rather than solely on the basis of gay marriage and abortion?

I just don't understand it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Broken Government on CNN

CNN is featuring a "Broken Government" special tonight called, "Where the Right Went Wrong" with Jeff Greenfield.

In the program, Jeff features only conservatives, discussing how the Bush Administration, the Senate and the House have "outspent a liberal's wildest dreams". He says they have been "outspending every Administration since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society", including a prescription drug bill that will add TWO TRILLION DOLLARS to our future obligations. Dick Armey also slays Tom Delay, saying he was only out for himself, among other highlights.

So the question remains...How can ANYBODY say that Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh back a "conservative agenda" rather than a blind obligation of the Republican party??

I find it very interesting that this program is the real debut of the '08 Repub Presidential candidates overtly breaking with Bush. Sam Brownback and Mike Pence are two who are placing themselves squarely in the anti-pork group in this special.

These guys run no risk whatsoever with this tactic. The Bush White House is finished...lame ducks. And even if the Republicans do retain control of one or both houses, the pendulum is swinging so fast in the anti-deficit direction that Congressmen may actually turn down pork for a short term out of fear.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

O'Reilly in Birmingham

So last night I arrived at my hotel in Birmingham, the Sheraton-Civic Center, and the first thing I see is a poster trumpeting the live appearance of Billy "Loofah" O'Reilly at the hotel.

He was there to speak to the Alabama Business Council, or something like that.

Its really hard for me to imagine a group paying him to appear...for two reasons.

First, his lies are well documented. By Al Franken, George Clooney, Keith Olberman, and many others. NOT just because they "are out to get him"...because they can so easily expose the lies. Its not like these guys like Hannity either, but you can't find pages and pages of flat out lies all over the Internet, because Sean is a little more careful, and a WHOLE lot smarter than Bill.

Second, I thought SEX was the mamma jamma moral no-no to trump all no-no's to the people who would want to pay a right-wing keynote speaker?

I mean, don't most Southern Republicans think Bill Clinton's shot on the blue dress to be thousands of times worse than the WMD in Iraq debacle?

Aren't Mark Foley's CONVERSATIONS food for much more public concern and interest than the much more serious scams of Abramoff, Valerie Plame, and prisoner torture?

So then, why is it that Bill's phone sex advances to a subordinate are totally overlooked by groups like the Bama Business people?

I'm serious. Is sex the ultimate unforgivable nastiness or is it not? Bill was reportedly married when he asked this subordinate to shower with him. Is marriage the ultimate Sanctity, does that only apply to homosexuals?

Sex is really not a political issue for me. Nor is it a phobia, which is the real root of the problem for many. But I really believe more than anything it is a myth that sex and marital sanctity matters to most of these "social conservatives".

My theory is that sex was the only hole the Clinton-haters could find in an otherwise brilliant presidency. Therefore, we still, to this day, hear "at least Bush can keep his pants on", as if that is somehow compensation for this global MESS.

So sex matters for Clinton....for Barney Frank...for Harold Ford, Jr. and white women.

But sex doesn't make a damn when the doer is a shill promoting the hard right's agenda.

If everything has to be a religious and moral debate, let's be consistent, or else be willing to be open to cries of hypocrisy.

More on Tennessee Senate Race

Here's a good story in Salon about Harold Ford appealing to church folks.

The discussion is interesting, and I want to respond to two posts here. The first is extremely negative to the South:

Ford is suddenly down after the targeting by two racist ads, including one in which his skin is colorized darker and a radio ad where references are repeatedly made to him being "black." These ads were selectively targeted to the most redneck districts in Tennessee, places which consistently score in the lowest 10% on IQ scores, home to the greatest concentration of the morbidly obese - people who have literally eaten themselves to death, something which a pig is not even dumb enough to do. It is exactly here where dumb-as-rocks rednecks will vote their racism, bigotry and general meanness over their own economic interests. They are literally too dumb to know they are being played.

Now a very well stated response:

Whatever Ford may gain in the pews, he'll lose in the sticks. I'm a Tennessean. I know. The "Where De White Women" ads have been running near constantly and believe me, they're working a charm. The Republicans always know the sleaziest, most denigrating ways to pander to the lowest common denominator -- and in the Deep South that's good ole racism, plain and simple. If you people only knew how many "W" stickers are still proudly displayed, on both Lexus SUVs and monoxide-spewing Chevy pickups. This is the land of Toby Keith, Dollywood and Larry the Cable Guy.

I believe Jesus would probably vote Democratic. But Tennesseans will vote for "Billionaire Bob" Corker come November. And we'll all be lesser for it.

Ok, here's the truth, as I see it:

1) Ford can't win, indeed because of racism, so I give on that point, and its a huge testimony to where I live.

2) Its still wrong to generalize about the South the way dude did in the first post. This thing about "lowest IQ" and obesity is no different in its bigotry than the people he decries.

3) I believe IQ is a BELL SHAPED CURVE. I believe research backs me up on that. Give rural Southern people an IQ test based on agriculture, they win. Give them one based on San Fransisco "culture", they lose. Its that simple. But intelligence is a STATISTICALLY PREDICTABLE DISTRIBUTION across any population.

4) Please remember this the next time you hear someone with a Southern dialect, and you tend to automatically assume they aren't quite bright. Its simply not true.

13 Most Haunted Places

Got an email from Michelle, a VERY impressive blogger herself, about this story by Seth on the "real" haunted places in the world.

Michelle may have read one of my earlier posts on Halloween and how I was looking for something to do in Nashville.

Ok, so here's the connection. One of the places that made the list is in TENNESSEE...not only that, the ghost is named Kate!

So Michelle is the first person to actually give me any advice on how NOT to sit at a bar and watch the costumed collegian crusaders parade around in G-strings.

Hmmm. Its sit at the bar alone and look like a pitiful old guy....or hoof it out to Adams, TN, and see if Kate's busy....

I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Quality Customer Service

I came across this story by Laura about a very important customer experience issue.

When I consult with bankers on customer experience issues, I always say that in my travels there is one huge mistake a person can make when helping me. This mistake is regularly made by airline employees, store clerks, waiters, and many others. And here it is, very simply...sometimes they don't SEE me.

If I am standing across from someone I am doing business with, and I walk away with the impression that I never received any recognition from them on a person-to-person level, then they never "saw" me.

Some people are masters at this. I think about ticket-takers at a large sporting event. Even though that person is tearing one ticket per second, he or she has this gift of letting you know that they see you as an individual, even though most of them are volunteers.

Yet at other times, I might make a large bank deposit, or pay for a week's worth of training supplies, or change my flight, and the person gives me the glazed-over look, if any look at all.

I like the way Laura remedies this mindset with the "How can I help you" strategy.

I also heard a man speak before me at an off-site managers retreat last week. He's a former exec with Home Depot. He said this: "If you are a part of ANY company, and if what you do does NOT add to the customer experience, then you are a bureaucrat.

Now that sounds obvious. But his point was that bean counters and instructional designers and technicians SHOULD be finding ways to add to the customer experience, and therefore shed their bureaucratic tags. I think this is not only possible, but necessary.

(I posted this today because I was in a convenience store, and my entire experience at the register consisted of hearing one clerk tell another one about some guy they knew, "he's way too old for her. He's been married three times already, and I know this one won't last three months". Thanks for the service, ma'am.)

Same Sex Classrooms

Here's another big winner for the Bush administration.

Let me get this straight. With all the research about Stem Cell Research, the Administration, thanks to their fundamentalist lobby, says "don't bother me with the research".

But apparently the "abundance" of evidence that boys and girls need to be seperated is much more fundy-friendly. So let's split em up. Maybe then Wall Street and surgery suites and government offices will someday return to a bastion of dark suits and fedoras, with the little women at home cooking. How could a woman VOTE for this party??

I did two Google searches:

Stem Cell Research (three words): 21.6 Million Hits

Same Sex Classroom Research (four words): Only 5.8 Million Hits

But the latter is supposedly a lock for being the more valid, and thus the correct change for moving forward in this country?

Let me put my own spin on this as a professional facilitator. Give me a mixed gender class ANY day. There's something about the presence of the opposite sex in a room that simply brings out more participation from both sexes. Doesn't this seem obvious? A world of all men would lead me quickly to the tallest building for my last flight out.

Fox, Limbaugh, Ford, Corker....

Its getting ugly.

First, it was Rush Limbaugh's ignorant statement about Michael J. Fox.

Now, its a Tennessee senate ad using the "he messes with white women" inuendo. A white woman in a party dress, a hired actress, says she met Ford at the Playboy mansion.

Harold Ford is the victim of this RNC ad, and the head of the RNC says he's powerless to stop it. These people...they lie SO easily nowadays that it just seems automatic.

Now Ford's Repub opponent Bob Corker says he wants the "tacky" ad pulled. Seems the two most influencial people in the Tennessee senate race on the Repub side are totally powerless over the marketing efforts. What a load of crap.

Corker's strategy makes me sick. Here it is: Washington is awful. You should send somebody new to Washington.

Wait. Wait. YOUR crackin' party has been in charge since the early 90's, and you're running on the platform that Washington is awful???

The somebody new needs to be Democrat Harold Ford!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Blog Carnival

I learned a lot today from my new friend, Melissa, the Road Gladiator.

Thanks to her, I've added her blog as a featured site at Blog Carnival.

Take a look at my sidebar, and then explore the Carnival. Also, if you're a business traveler, you'll definitely want to bookmark or subscribe to Melissa's place.

My thanks to her also for linking me in her list of travel blogs. (My first listing ever. I should light a candle or something.)

Colbert More Feared Than Geraldo

Check out the LA Times story on legislators who won't appear on his show anymore.

Back when he did the creative editing on the Daily Show, I used to wonder why people would agree to that. But generally speaking, people will sign a release for anything immediately following the phrase, "you wanna be on TV"?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Update on Slut-o-ween

In my post below about the so called "Slutoween", I talk about the current debate about women and girls dressing in sexy costumes.

Well, now I've gotten a last minute assignment to Nashville during Halloween.

I find myself pondering where I should go on Tuesday night to people watch. It sucks being alone on the road sometimes, but I'm used to it.

Since I'm staying at the Doubletree on 4th, I'm in walking distance of all the hottest clubs. Problem is, its always hard to figure out which ones are for 30-somethings vs. the college crowd. I'm not interested in the latter. And places for the "more aged" crowd are much harder to find.

Update; October 31

Well I kidded around a lot about what I was going to do on Halloween while I was in Nashville.

I even had some nice folks post comments and send me emails with some very good suggestions. When it was all said and done, here's what I decided.

First...let me back up. Keep in mind that I had the option of roaming around Nashville alone, with all the freedom to see how the women were dressing (or dressing down) this year. I could have sat at the bar, had some drinks, and glanced around in feigned disinterest at asses of various sizes. However...that's not what I did.

What I did instead was decide at about 11 a.m. I could get all my work done by 5:00 today. So I walked across to the hotel and asked if they would let me check out and cancel for tonight. They did.

So I drove home, and that's where I am now. Of course, I got home too late to see the kids in their costumes. But at least I got to kiss em goodnight.

I think my decision came down to the fact that not once in 41 years have I been alone on Halloween. Not once. And even though I was technically alone during the drive home, which coincided with the peak trick-or-treat times...I was still HEADING to be with loved ones. In my mind that counts.

Perhaps someday I will be alone on Halloween or maybe many other holidays. But why go that route when I have a choice?

My Draft Number

Speaking of the draft, I looked at the Selective Service website to see what my lottery number would have been if I were in the draft in 1971 (thankfully, I was only six years old).

My number? 22.

The 18-to-20 year olds with my birthday (and without a deferment) knew they were going to war the night that drawing was broadcast.

What a scary, scary thought. Read on for some more of my impressions about the draft.

A Prayer for Owen Meany

This book is on my recommended list. I got to thinking about it due to the column I just linked to by Fred Reed. In it, Fred said this:

So many of the Jewish crimes popular on the email circuit don’t stand up to examination. For instance, I hear repeatedly that during Vietnam America won in the field but that Jews stabbed Our Boys in the back by means of the anti-war movement, thus seeking to promote godless atheistic communism.

Not quite. The leadership of the anti-war movement was heavily Jewish. The movement itself was overwhelmingly Christian. At the conservative Southern college I attended, the studentry to a boy wanted no part of the war. It wasn’t because of Jewish anything. It was because they didn’t want to get shot. Their girlfriends didn’t want them to get shot, nor did their parents.

This made me think of the title character of John Irving's classic.

Owen Meany, who ended up volunteering for service in Vietnam, said that anti-war protesters were wrong about one thing: The Draft. He said the draft was the only chance the US had of getting out of Vietnam.

Why? His quote is something like, "Unless Americans are affected with their health or their wallet, they don't care enough about anything to rise up against it."

In other words, without the draft there would have BEEN NO anti-war movement.

How relevant this is for today. Don't you know that college campuses everywhere would be in a MUCH larger uproar over the constantly changing "reasons" for the Iraq war if THEY thought they might have to go?

So would parents of teenagers....middle America across this country. They would be doing more than answering polls negatively about Bush and Congress. They would be in the streets if their sons were being drafted, or about to reach draft age.

I'm convinced this is the reason there hasn't BEEN a draft. Dick Cheney knows this simple fact. Even if the volunteer army is too small to ever win, he can't afford a draft, because then his war would be stopped dead in its tracks.

Every man should read "A Prayer for Owen Meany". And every woman I know who has read it also loved it. At the Episcopal school my parish is associated with, every senior boy is required to read it.

This article was chosen to be a part of the Decline of Democracy, a service of Ken Goldstein and Blog Carnival. Check it out.

Fred Reed

I don't know much about Fred Reed. But I did really enjoy this column about his response to people who want him to blame the Jews instead of referring to "Hollywood and New York" cryptically. (Thanks to Sanity Inspector once again in intro'ing me.)

The other day he quoted Reed, and I definitely disagreed, however. It was a bit of a rant about why women shouldn't be school administrators. (Cause they don't want boys to play football.) Good Lord.

Can we generalize any more in this country?

Anyway....point is, I'm not recommending this guy, but I did enjoy his Jewish column.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Slutoween (Slut-o-ween?)

Good articles and discussions on this topic at Slate's Broadsheet today.
After reading all the comments, I can't really decide where I stand on this one, except that girls shouldn't wear this stuff. Problem is, how do you prevent that, when so many of the college-age and young adult women wear them?

I figure this is causing some terrible brawls between 15 year-olds and their mothers this week.

One comment that really made me shake my head. Here's an anonymous poster responding to other comments:

Actually, many women do dress as slutty as possible because it gets male approval and attention. It's a western version of the taliban telling women to completely cover. Once women hit middle aged, they are expected to fade into the backround and go away. If men had their way, women and girls would walk around completely nude until they were about 30, then put on a burqua. That would be a male dream. If men had their way, women would still not be allowed to vote or drive or attend universities. That way, they could get all the resources for themselves but still get cleaning services and p***y from women.

I remember being encouraged to dress slutty as a young woman by guys and criticized for not partying enough. But I wasn't about to let men waste my time. I'm glad, because once I hit middle age I found myself invisible. I have been laughed at in the face several times by even offering a neighborhood "hello" while walking down the street in broad daylight by men who assumed I was hitting on them. Middle aged women in this country don't have to wear a burqua to be invisible, we already are, which doesn't bother me a bit. But girls at an increasingly younger and younger age are coerced into being sexual way to young, or even if it doesn't match their personality. If you have a personality like say J.Lo that wants to exude sexuality, fine. But many conservative, scholarly sorts are bullied into being what they are not just to be accepted.

Ladies, don't waste your time and energy looking for male approval. Men aren't worth it. Be true to yourself. We should encourage young women to focus their time and energy on themselves, through sports, musical or academic interests. Are boys encouraged to be hypersexualized at 13 to make themselves acceptable for older women? Hell no. Don't abuse females in this manner. There is an overemphasis on sexuality in this culture. So much of it exploitative and coerced.

Bless this woman's heart, as we say in Mississippi. Can you imagine having this drastic worldview and being this unhappy? Can you imagine REALLY believing this perception that men have laughed in her face because she told them "hello" because they thought she was hitting on them? I really hurt for this person.

I'm in airports, hotel lobbies, and restaurant bars every week, and people don't act like this, either in a "laugh in your face" way, or in believing that "hello" means "hitting on". "Hello" is simply a greeting, admittedly not always getting a response, but usually so.

In no way do I believe that in her own neighborhood, therefore, that she has been laughed at overtly on multiple occasions. Is she therefore "lying"? No...that's the pitiful thing...this is her perception...and perceptions can lead to terrible fears, sadness, and even death.

This is why I've always worked to think through and manage my perceptions.

What does this have to do with Slutoween costumes? Perhaps the foundation of this entire issue is perceptions. The perceptions of those who wear the revealing outfits, those who view them, and those who judge them as "slutty".

And one last very important point: The most revealing look into this lady's psyche is her belief that THIRTY is the age of initial irrelevance for women. What a load of crap.

I'm 41, and this 22-to-26 crowd who buys the largest number of these costumes gets nothing from me besides a totally surface glance in appreciation for the female anatomy.

I would be shocked if I were to ever choose a dance partner under the age of 30. Perhaps that group is more ready, willing, and able...I don't know. But in my view, you can't beat the beauty of a WOMAN. Nor can you beat the mind of a woman, and a recent college graduate has not had the experiences to develop that great mind.

And lastly, not to get graphic, but aging has led me to one last observation. Women "learn" what truly pleases them after 30, and in any true intimate experience, that is the ultimate factor in real passion....the pleasure of the woman.

Damn, how did the cat costume get me going on that???

On Edit...Thanks to Chic Mom for sharing DesignHer Gals at her blog. This site is a bit like paper dolls, but with many more options. I was thinking that this could be one proactive answer to the Slinky Cat Suit debate....A site that allows you to play around with a "look" before you go to the Goodwill searching.

10/29/06: This is a featured article in "The Carnival of the Insanities". Thanks to Dr. Sanity for including me.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A joke

Both the game above and this link were located through David Metz

Marc Perkel asks the following....

What's the difference between the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam?

Answer: George W. Bush had a plan to get out of Vietnam!

Line Rider

Line Rider is a great little game that is quite addictive.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Book Recommendation

How Postmodernism Saved My Faith by Crystal L. Downing

I have a crush on the author, and I don't even know how old she is.

This professor of English at Messiah College on the west coast has taken the difficult philosophy of Derrida and others and made it palatable.

If you hear "Postmodernism" tossed about as the scourge of our day, this is the book you should read. Not that it will change your mind, but it will, I think, show you how a questioning, cognizant individual can still be a committed Christian as Dr. Downing most certainly is.

(She doesn't say she is Episcopalian, but I'm betting on it.)

Speaking of the crush, does anyone else do this? I never get a crush on someone I SEE as a normal human being might. Instead I notice those women who are well spoken, well read, and well credentialed.

There was a story yesterday in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (I think) about how traditional thought said that high achieving women turned men off, but the research says the opposite. I can't link the story, cause I can't find it.

Is this news to anyone? Who WOULDN'T want a wife with a brain and a million dollar salary?

Dr. Downing, I likes ya, wherever you are.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Keith Olbermann has brass balls

Somehow in my travels this story escaped me.

Certainly if you aren't a completely lop-sided Republican, Bill Clinton's sheer intellect should amaze you. But it shouldn't surprise you. Olbermann's courage to expose Fox and then to put Bush on the carpet almost brought tears to my eyes.

Don't tell me that Keith doesn't leave the office now with more than a modicum of concern for his health and that of his family. He knew that when he wrote the editorial and when he delivered it. THAT is courage.

In thinking about how dangerous it is now to speak our minds in a "FREE" country, it made me truly appreciate those journalists past and present who have stood up to the establishment in countries that aren't free.

I remember when I was in college and Keith and Dan Patrick were an everyday addiction on Sportscenter. His unique self-confidence, laced with world-depreciating humor, were part of why ESPN thrives today.

And think about one more thing when you consider what Keith has done:

He has relegated himself to a limited career path for the rest of his life.

Now don't get me wrong...we desperately need "neutral" fact-based and uneditorialized journalists more than EVER. But I think Keith decided he couldn't be the person he is if he sugar-coated the things he's witnessed from Fox News for years. Therefore every future job consideration for him will have to carry the discussion of "he's just another James Carville. We can only hire him for opinion and analysis".

So now we finally have someone who will call them on their propaganda and Clinton-blaming, Clinton-hijacking machine.

I appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Mississippi connections

Tonight I was at a party with a number of bank managers in Atlanta. Karaoke was part of the fare, and I'll bet the folks who performed had no idea how close to home the music was for me.

Consider these three offerings and their relation to me and my home Mississippi:

  1. Ode to Billy Joe - The famous Bobbie Gentry song was of course set in the Mississippi Delta and the Tallahatchie Bridge.
  2. Harper Valley PTA - Another huge hit, this one written by Jeannie C. Riley, who now lives in north Mississippi, a little known fact.
  3. Blue Suede Shoes - The Jerry Lee Lewis version of course, of Nesbit, MS, and also Booneville, MS, for a time, the small town where Ms. Riley resides.

Memphis Airport

Two quick notes:

Until the rules change, Memphis seems to be the worst of any airport for the "Quart-sized plastic bag" edict.

I even went through LAX last week, and there was no Bag Police. But at MEM there's an actual person who must feast his/her eyes upon your baggie before you get to the machines.

Gallon sized baggie? Oh my, that won't do at ALL. You'll either have to throw the shit away or go ask for your checked baggage back and store the shit there. I'm not exaggerating. One of my friends from New Orleans went through a few days ago on her way back home, and she was so pissed she asked to see the supervisor. The super wouldn't budge, even though my friend had been through eight different airports lately who aren't giving this nearly so much structure.


If you are going thru the B gates at MEM on busy days, don't wait in the security lines if they are long. Simply walk left to A or right to C and enter there. Then you can take the moving sidewalks back. It can be MUCH faster most days.


Patrick Stewart at Salon has now done a story on the baggie issue.

It makes me feel a bit better that Memphis isn't the only one with Baggie Obsession. However, I note that the airport he went through only had a TSA dude yelling at him to put the baggie through the maching.

Not in Mempho. Nope. You don't even get through TO the bins until you get your baggie measured. The Baggie Policeperson in Memphis stands next to the ladies who initially look at your license and boarding pass. If you go through Memphis security, you'll recognize these ladies by their fingernails.

Several of them have nails that are literally four inches long. Imagine the extra time it takes them to palm your paperwork, due to a slight manual dexterity obstacle. Can you see this discussion in the nail salon?

"Gurl, where can we work where people will see these beauties?"
"How bout them folks who handle 50,000 plane tickets every day over at the airport?"
"Sounds good, but you reckon the TSA will hire us?"
"Gurl, you kiddin'?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

MSNBC From Baghdad

I enjoyed this discussion tonight in browsing through the political stuff.


(Sorry, I've got to do an HTML refresher to remember how to imbed the links.)


I love the comments from the hard right, who claim the "media is liberally biased because they don't report good news from Iraq".

In this story a guy named Bob wrote the reporter to tell her he knew a bunch of good news. When she asked for details, the good news story ended up being a student who was kidnapped but was returned safely.

With good news like that, who needs Fox News?

Speaking for Faux News, I hate em. And I'm not a "Yeller Dog Democrat" as we say in the South. Five years ago I was raising money for Republican candidates.

Sometime soon when I have more time, I'll try to explain my transformation from Kool-Aid drinking "conservative" to moderate hater of most of Washington. Since Washington happens to be controlled by the Repubs, I happen to dislike them more.

That will probably change when this thing cycles and the Dems take over. I'll swing back the other direction maybe.

But for now...I say investigate Bush, investigate the war lies, and bar Karl Rove from creating more fear and lies with his campaign "strategies".

More to come....

Packing for Atlanta

This is the worst time of year to pack for a long business trip.

I'm flying from Memphis to Atlanta in the morning, and I won't be home until Sunday morning. The weather is forecast to range from 45 to 80 while I'm there! Who can pack for that?? Thank God I'm a man. I have no idea how the women do it with all y'all have to include.

Adding to the madness is the requirement for business casual, casual, and business dress all in one trip. Its a nightmare. Normally I don't check bags. I wheel the little black suitcase on the plane, along with the ole laptop. Not this time though. I'm taking the modern day version of a steamer trunk.

Tomorrow night I'm doing a "dinner cruise" on Lake Lanier with the group I'm speaking to on Wednesday.

That means that come Wednesday I'll have to earn my dinner from the previous night with a fresh, entertaining, and motivating speech to fifty bankers about sales coaching. Two hours worth at that.

Tough as that sounds, I'm pretty good at it, believe it or not. The hardest part of motivational speaking is keeping up with what material the audience has heard from you previously. This is no problem for contract speakers, but "captives" like me definitely have repeat audiences.

Gotta Start Somewhere

I suppose most blogs are like diets. 98% of the folks who start them don't get very far.

Seems like anytime I search for good blog discussions, most of the links I find are well-intentioned bloggers who quit after four or five posts.

Far be it for me to promise any more than that....but we'll see.

Do people outside of the South say "far be it for me"? If not, perhaps I should translate my Southspeak. I enjoy dialects, and I tend to use mine to my advantage from time to time. More about that later. Anyway, "far be it for me" means "I'm the last person who would promise more than that."