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.