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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Please, No Moore

Talking to a friend last night, she asked if I had taken the time (and money) to view Michael Moore's new film, Farenheit 9/11. I responded, "No, nor do I plan to."

A couple of articles do a good job of putting my feelings into words.

First there is a op-ed from Ed Koch (Moore's Film Is Shocking Propaganda) which does a pretty good job of describing why even liberals like Mr. New York are uncomfortable with the rhetoric. In that, he refers to a second article, this one by New York Times writer, David Brooks (All Hail Moore).

In Brooks' article, he details some of Mr. Moore's rants as he travels the world, bashing America, before coming home to his multi-million dollar home(s), built on the money (capitalistic money, mind you) made off of the poor shleps who actually view his "movies" and read his books. Even those among us who are infected with a "redistribution of wealth" semi-socialist mindset should be leary of anyone who calls capitalism a sin while using the money he makes around the world to buy a $1.9 million apartment in NYC to go along with his $1 million plus lakefront summer villa.

Like Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper The Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet . . . in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."

Ah, yes. We are dumb if we fund this guy's "artistic" lunacy. Perhaps Moore is, himself, the proof that we ARE, in fact, dumb. But lets read on...

It transpires that Europeans are quite excited to hear this supple description of the American mind. And Moore has been kind enough to crisscross the continent, speaking to packed lecture halls, explicating the general vapidity and crassness of his countrymen. "That's why we're smiling all the time," he told a rapturous throng in Munich. "You can see us coming down the street. You know, `Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down."

Naturally, the people from the continent that brought us Descartes, Kant and Goethe are fascinated by these insights. Moore's books have sold faster there than at home. No American intellectual is taken so seriously in Europe, save perhaps the great Chomsky.

Before a delighted Cambridge crowd, Moore reflected on the tragedy of human existence: "You're stuck with being connected to this country of mine, which is known for bringing sadness and misery to places around the globe." In Liverpool, he paused to contemplate the epicenters of evil in the modern world: "It's all part of the same ball of wax, right? The oil companies, Israel, Halliburton."

One can imagine that not only are Europeans "excited" to hear such news, but I would venture to say that folks like Bin Ladden and other terrorists are as well. And this is what sticks in Mr. Koch's substantial craw:

Disagreeing with America’s foreign policy and seeking to change it, responsibly or irresponsibly, is a fundamental right protected by the First Amendment. Shaming those who do it irresponsibly is our only lawful recourse and rightly so.

Senator John Kerry in criticizing United States’ foreign policy and the incumbent president is acting responsibly, albeit I disagree with many of his views.

On the other hand, Michael Moore, writer and director of the film “Fahrenheit 9/11,” crosses that line regularly. The line is not set forth in the criminal statutes, but it is determined by Americans who know instinctively what actions and statements taken and uttered violate the obligations of responsibility and citizenship they deem applicable in time of war

I would also take issue with the idea that the United States is known for "bringing sadness and misery" to the world. What a load of BS. There is no country more generous and giving to the rest of the world than the United States. There are thousands upon thousands of American's buried on foreign soil who gave the most valuable and precious gift they could give to the French and other European countries who were either already conquered by an evil dictator, or soon would have been. There is a thriving, cutting-edge society in Japan because of the benevolence of the U.S. in rebuilding it after the Second World War. There are thousands upon thousands of poor, starving, homeless individuals, all over the entire world who are fed, clothed, and housed because of US humanitarian aid, from the US government itself, from religious-based missions, and secular humanitarian organizations. There is no country more generous to others around the world than the United States. Mr. Moore's comments above should cause one to pause and consider the source of such hogwash.

But, back to the Brooks column:

In the days after Sept. 11, while others were disoriented, Moore was able to see clearly: "We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants."

This leads to Michael Moore's global plan of action. "Don't be like us," he told a crowd in Berlin. "You've got to stand up, right? You've got to be brave."

In an open letter to the German people in Die Zeit, Moore asked, "Should such an ignorant people lead the world?" Then he began to reflect on things economic. His central insight here is that the American economy, like its people, is pretty crappy, too: "Don't go the American way when it comes to economics, jobs and services for the poor and immigrants. It is the wrong way."

In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Moore helped citizens of that country understand why the United States went to war in Iraq: "The motivation for war is simple. The U.S. government started the war with Iraq in order to make it easy for U.S. corporations to do business in other countries. They intend to use cheap labor in those countries, which will make Americans rich."

But venality doesn't come up when he writes about those who are killing Americans in Iraq: "The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not `insurgents' or `terrorists' or `The Enemy.' They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win." Until then, few social observers had made the connection between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Paul Revere.

Odd isn't it, Mr. Moore, that the attacks continued (and grew stronger) as the hand-over of power grew near? I mean, such patriots as you describe above should have rejoiced in the news that the government was now back in the hands of native Iraqis, and soon an election would take place so that every Iraqi would have to opportunity to voice an opinion. So noble, these Minutemen.

Mr. Koch goes on to say:

In World Wars I and II, the U.S., suffering great casualties to its military personnel, saved the world, particularly in WWII, from occupation by the German Nazi Reich and Japanese empire.

We currently are fighting the battle against a minority of fundamentalist Islamists whose objective is to destroy Western civilization. They are willing to use every act of terrorism from suicide bombers to hacking off heads to destroy and terrorize us into surrender.

And Michael Moore weakens us before that enemy.

How should we respond? With scorn, catcalls, the Bronx cheer and the truth.

But what about the movie calls up such a response from a New York liberal like Mayor Koch?

It is not a documentary which seeks to present the facts truthfully.

The most significant offense that movie commits is to cheapen the political debate by dehumanizing the President and presenting him as a cartoon.

Newsday reported some of Moore’s misstatements as follows: “At the start of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’ filmmaker Michael Moore shows a clip of CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin saying that if ballots had been recounted in Florida after the 2000 presidential vote, ‘under every scenario Gore won the election.’

“What Moore doesn't show is that a six-month study in 2001 by news organizations including The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN found just the opposite. Even if the Supreme Court had not stopped a statewide recount, or if a more limited recount of four heavily Democratic counties had taken place, Bush still would have won Florida and the election . . .

Moore suggests Bush's conflict of interest was manifest shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks when the White House ‘approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis’ who, fearing reprisals, were flown out of the United States. Embellishing the well-known scenario, Moore interviews a retired FBI agent who says authorities should have first questioned the bin Ladens.

“But the bin Ladens were questioned. The commission investigating the attacks reported in April that the FBI interviewed 30 passengers: ‘Nobody was allowed to depart on these six flights who the FBI wanted to interview in connection with the 9/11 attacks or who the FBI later concluded had any involvement in those attacks.’”

Mr. Moore has the right to make his propoganda films, filled with misinformation and "creative" editing to bend the truth, but we also have a right (and, I would argue, the responsibility) to avoid providing him with any more money or other resources.

Another defense is to make sure the truth which rebuts much of Moore's work is circulated. While his current movie is being debated, it continues to be important to demonstrate that he has, throughout his career, been dishonest with his movies and books. In a new book (Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, which parodies Moore's own book title) The authors conclude:

"Bowling for Columbine has less documentary value than the average Bugs Bunny cartoon. You see Heston giving a speech – but it's doctored. You see history – but unconnected facts are given a particular Moorewellian spin. You hear that a factory is making weapons of mass destruction – actually, it's building satellite launch platforms. You're led to believe that a rally was a response to a shooting, but it turns out it was eight months later, in anticipation of an election. You watch a Bush-Quayle campaign ad, but in reality it was an ad Moore himself assembled."

Mr. Moore wants to see if the old axiom is true: If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

Heaven help us if HIS truth becomes ours.

Hillary Gets It Right

In yet another SFGate article (how is it I'm blogging the Gate so much???) Hillary Clinton is very clear in detailing her political agenda:

"We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

At least I respect the fact she is willing to put into words what many Liberal members of Congress are unwilling to actually admit.

Monday, June 28, 2004

A Different Take on the Subject


More than 40 million legal abortions have been performed and documented in the 30 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared abortion legal. The debate remains focused on the legality and morality of abortion. What's largely ignored is a factual analysis of the political consequences of 40 million abortions.

Certainly an interesting "take" on the matter. What comes across, even in such a "cold and calculated" article is the sheer number of folks who aren't with us because of the abortion issue.

God forgive us.

Response to a Comment

I was, at first, tempted to reply to a comment left on a post last week by simply replying in the comments section, but as my response grew, it seemed more appropriate to post here.

First, it is interesting that, even on the inherently anonymous internet, folks still feel a need to do verbal "drive bys" with no context to their comments, but, I suppose that is part of the "fun" of having a blog. I mean, I might take the criticism more seriously if there were some context by which to judge the comments...

Anyway, the poster took exception to my post about the schizophrenic news coverage regarding the presence of a “tie” between Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government and the terrorists which our country is at war with, Al-Queda.

"Tell it to the parents of the 850 U.S. soldiers that died and the 2000+ Iraqi civilians that died and the 5000 Iraqi civilians that have been wounded," a reader writes. I'm unsure what the "it" is I'm supposed to be telling people.

Now, I finished the post with this line:

“Basically, it comes down to this: we can't prove Iraq was active in the 9/11 planning, but there was a relationship there. Everyone knew it. The President said he worried about the WMD capabilities (or weapons themselves) being funneled to al-Queda from Iraq. It was one reason to prosecute the war.”

I suppose the “it” I’m supposed to be “telling” is in response to this line. It seems like a level-headed enough line, to me. It doesn’t say, for instance, that because the news media is screwing up the coverage of this issue, you, dear reader, are a duntz for still being against the war. In fact, this post was aimed at the reporting, and did not address the necessity of war in this action at all. Granted, we would obviously disagree on this issue, but you picked an odd place to do so, and failed to engage the conversation on any rational or reasonable level. But you go on to criticize MY ability to be rational:

"You are rationalizing an irrational act that could have continued to be handled by diplomacy. There is much stronger evidence of Saudi Arabia ties to Al Qaeda. Yet Bush continues to kiss ass." the writer continues. I find it sad that you, or anyone, considers the 12 years of bungling that went on after the first Gulf War a situation "handled by diplomacy."

Perhaps, to use your own brand of rhetoric (although, I will clarify so you know what "it" you should tell), you should ask the families of the tens of thousands of people killed over those 12 years by Hussein’s government, whether or not they felt the UN oil for food program was a good bit of "diplomacy". You know, those mass graves, right? And, maybe talk to the women and the families of the women who were raped and slaughtered by Saddam and his sons. Or the Iraq athletes who were sodomized and killed when they didn't perform for Saddam's boys. Or the millions of people who lived in worse and worse conditions, with less and less food and medicine, while Saddam, the French, the Germans, the Russians, and Kofi Annon himself profited from the diplomatic solution you claim was "working". Or tell it to the people who might have suffered from a nuclear or dirty bomb, supplied by Iraq to any number of terrorist organizations.

Illicit sales of uranium from Niger were being negotiated with five states including Iraq at least three years before the US-led invasion, senior European intelligence officials have told the Financial Times.

Beyond that, you make equal the state-sanctioned murder, rape, torture, starvation, and other various abuses on the part of the Iraqi dictator with the elements within Saudi Arabia who act contrary to their government. At the same time, you assume you know where I stand on the issue of Saudi Arabia, when, in fact, you do not.

Basically I said the same thing in my post that the bastion of conservative thinking (please note the tongue implanted in my cheek) the SanFrancisco Gate:
"The main problem is that these headlines are simply not true. The 9/11 Commission essentially agreed with the analysis of the president and his administration. Part of the problem feeding this media hysteria is that much of the media is lazy and carries an ideological bias. Rather than follow up on their own leads and conduct their own independent investigation, journalists rely on draft reports written by government sources. Bad idea."

If you want to have a reasonable discussion (even though neither of us should have the delusion that we might “change each other’s minds”) that’s all well and good. Feel free to comment or email.

If you insist on “drive by” posts, then why even bother?

Friday, June 25, 2004

Just a Reminder

In the last couple of weeks, much has been made of the 9/11 Commission report; news which was reported as "no link between Iraq and al-Queda" in many newspapers.

Folks like AlGore have been running around saying things like, "he beeeeeeeetraaaaaaayed us" based, in part, upon this kind of info.

Now, after the fact - of course - there are stories like this one in the NY Times and this one in the Washington Times which give us different details of this "news".

1) There is a link, even though we said there wasn't...

2) Everyone knew there was a link, including the Russians and the Clinton administration (presumably AlGore was part of that administration), but that doesn't mean we can't criticize the Bush administration for their "intelligence"

For Example:
The task force concluded that the document "appeared authentic," and that it "corroborates and expands on previous reporting" about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis.

Basically, it comes down to this: we can't prove Iraq was active in the 9/11 planning, but there was a relationship there. Everyone knew it. The President said he worried about the WMD capabilities (or weapons themselves) being funneled to al-Queda from Iraq. It was one reason to prosecute the war.

Not Sure Why

Not sure why the "big A" issue has been on my mind a lot lately. But, I came across this article in the American Spectator which touched on another point of the abortion debate which continues to bug me as contratdictory: a lot of the people who advocate so strongly for the "right" to destroy human life in the womb, fail to acknowledge the racist origins of their theology of death.

Some excerpts from the article:

WASHINGTON -- After a lengthy incubation, the sick dreams of Margaret Sanger are finally hatching. Against the excuses of her modern defenders, it should be remembered that the founder of Planned Parenthood's main interest in the legalization of abortion was not that women should be freed from the bonds of childbearing, but that unsavory types should be cleansed from the larger population.

In fact, Sanger only turned to abortion when her original plan to "apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation" to those with "objectionable traits" -- sometimes derided as the stronger epithet "human weeds" -- found little support. Turned out folks felt a bit queasy about sending those of certain ethnic backgrounds and with disabilities and mental illnesses off to "farm lands and homesteads" to be "taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives."

Yes, dSt. Maggs, patron of the Culture of Death, was quite a compassionate liberal, concerned with "rights" and "freedom", more or less. Well, less, actually.

Sounds a bit like a concentration camp, no? Then again, she was a great admirer of the Nazi eugenics movement. Like Hitler, she had a long list of folks she wanted to eliminate from society, including "illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes, dope fiends."

More to the point, Sanger considered non-Aryan people "a great biological menace to the future of civilization." The same woman considered a saint today by the pro-choice crowd warned supporters in 1939 that they did not want "word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro population."

Ouch...it is hard to imagine anyone that doesn't wear a white sheet spewing such hatred. It just goes to show that if you "pretty up" Satan with the right words or "beliefs" you can get society (at least the portion who support abortion without reservation) to buy in. Much more effective than the goose-stepping and cross-burning, don't you think?

But look at the massive abortion rates in modern black neighborhoods and set them against, say, the merely moderate rates in white neighborhoods, and it becomes depressingly clear that Sanger helped accomplish something both depressing and far-reaching. If these high death rates were attached to a war, it would be called genocide. When it happens in a Planned Parenthood office we call it progress.

Forgive us for perpetuating, as a society, this evil beyond description.

According to a front page article in Sunday's New York Times, upwards of 500 medical conditions can be diagnosed by tests on fetal cells "with more than 100 tests added in the last year alone." And, as literally hundreds of science fiction novels predicted, those of us who fail to measure up to the state of normalcy determined by society-at-large are getting the axe in utero.

The results are fairly ugly. For starters, more Down's Syndrome children are now aborted than born. Not for any lack of sentience or capacity for joy or love, they simply move too slowly for modern tastes. Unborn children at risk for cystic fibrosis, expected to live 35 to 40 years, are also increasingly not worth the trouble. Tragic as the disease might be, we never react to the death of an 18-year-old in a car accident by wishing they'd never been born. Exactly how many years must people live before their lives are considered worthwhile?

And, why stop at physical or mental defects? Political and religious defects are just as damning. The signs held by abortion protestors lement the fact that the Pope's mother (or, Barbara Bush, in the case of political oponents) didn't abort him when she had the chance. If you don't look like us, act like us, agree with us, then you shouldn't be born. Why go to all the trouble of brainwashing or replacing people with androids ala the Stepford Wives when you can selectively breed the traits you want in your fellow travellers? If you want a beagle who is more brown than black, you breed for that trait. If you want a human who is more white, more upperclass, more inteligent, more "in line", why you just convince people to breed for those traits...pretty simple, really.

Except that it is evil.

But, just how evil?

As with anything else, the moment parents are allowed to selectively eliminate their children because of flaws, we have to grapple with the fact that what constitutes an abnormality can vary greatly.

Thus, the Times tells us the story of a woman who was born with an extra finger, which she later had surgically removed. So far she has aborted two children when ultrasound scans showed they had the same extra digit.

Another woman in Manhattan recently aborted a female child because she already had three daughters and wanted a son. Her physician, Dr. Mark Engelbert, told the Times that he was uncomfortable with the situation, but what could he do?

Stupid daughters...

Stupid extra finger...(although, if they had asked my opinion, I would have told them that if it had been a boy - a LEFT-handed boy, especially - that an extra digit might have been a beneficial thing to have. Imagine the kinds of pitches - the extra movement on the slider or break on the curveball - a sixth finger, used wisely, could give you. And with Major League contracts AVERAGING in the neighborhood of $3 million a year these days, that extra finger could be VALUABLE. People need to get their priorities straight.)

That's just it, isn't it? Those who have accepted the barbarism of abortion are forced to follow it all the way down. Any uneasiness about the reason for a particular "elimination" must be set aside for the greater good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bad Art/Elephant Dung Burns Fast, Baby


$90 million of "art" such as an unmade bed, a tent with 102 names (of people the artist had "slept with") sown into the fabric, and manequins with penises instead of noses arranged in, well, "odd" poses. One of the items destroyed appears to be Chris Ofili’s "Holy Virgin Mary", the elephant dung splattered painting of the Madonna (complete with a side helping of female buttocks and genitalia) that was part of the "Sensations" show at the Brooklyn Museum in 1999.

Divine justice, indeed.

...he considered them "irreplaceable in the history of British art".

Here's hopin'...

To paraphrase one fellow blog writter: I hate that these things were burned, not because they deserved to be enjoyed as art, but because I don't think my children will ever believe I am being serious when I tell them that these items existed. It will be more of a myth to them than the easter bunny or santa...

BTW, I consider $90 million to be about $89,999,990.00 too much...but if you have $90 million to blow, what else are you going to do with it?

Sometimes I Just Have to Comment


Sometimes I get pressed to explain my anti-abortion philosophy. We live in a culture where some form of abortion is seen as inevitable, and in an effort to make it more "safe" (if you are the mother) we legitimize abortion as a medical industry. (On a side note, it is odd to me that our culture has not yet legalized drug use, prostitution, stealing on a large scale, all of which are "inevitable" parts of our society...yet, we legalize the destruction of a human in the womb, which to my mind should be the last thing we would willingly endorse, but I digress...)

This article from "This Is London" does a good job of demonstrating my unease with abortion as a secularly ordained rite. As we take in these words, let us remember we are considering a 18 to 20 week old human fetus. These are the "second trimester" abortions, early in the second trimester actually. Often, abortions are carried out much later in the development process than this, up to and including the partial birth procedure many politicians feel compelled to protect as a "right":

"Pregnancy expert Professor Stuart Campbell has demanded rules should be tightened after it was revealed that at least nine babies are known to have survived terminations in recent years."

One of the first things I notice is that rather than being affected by the live births of children who they believed had been "terminated", the "expert" is upset that the rules aren't tighter so that no babies could ever survive the "termination." The more I read accounts like this, the less likely I am to buy the line that most abortion advocates "think abortion is an awful thing, but is sometimes necessary." In fact, the more I read, the more I am struck by the cold, calculated, in-human way that abortion providers continue to look for ways to expedite the abortion process. There is a conscious effort to insulate the act of abortion from all feeling, thought, and consideration until after the act is completed and the patient is on her own.

"Professor Campbell said that all abortions carried out after 18 weeks of pregnancy should include an injection, followed by drugs, to induce labour and a stillborn child. Some consultants only give the injection in abortions after 22 weeks. Others, he claims, do not use it at all."

What is the injection designed to do? Why, chemically kill the child, who without the injection might live through the induced labor and show additional signs of life once delivered. The child would then have to die more slowly, from lack of oxygen I presume.

Imagine if a doctor said this: That fetus is coming out of the mother, because she no longer wants it. We have to ask ourselves what is the best way to accomplish this. It is much more humane to kill the child with chemicals than it is to allow the child to die of exposure and underdevelopment.

And yet, this is exactly what I read in this article.

"It is really unfair on the nurses and the parents to see the baby making some sort of movement after birth."

Not to mention how unfair it is to the child.

"If after 18 weeks you just induce labor (without an injection first) a large number would be born with a heartbeat and most of them will survive with a heartbeat and will make movements."

Notice here that he doesn't say, "some" or "a few". "Most of them" will be born in a way which really drives home the magnitude of the act committed. A moving human, with a heartbeat, will slowly die as those who were entrusted with such a gift stand by and watch. This certainly is unfair to have to consider, especially when the right chemicals could ensure that the product of the procedure more genuinely looks like the un-human tissue blob everyone wants to pretend that it is.

“One baby with Down's Syndrome was to be aborted at a hospital in the home counties but lived. It was transferred to St George's Hospital, where it received neonatal intensive care and survived. It is believed to have been adopted.”

This paragraph says so much about who we are as a “civilization”.

“He said that if a baby were to be born alive and viable then it must be given medical help but there was a "grey area" where babies born in this manner at 22 or 23 weeks were on the cusp of being able to survive. Only 17 per cent of babies born normally at 23 weeks survive.”

“Professor Thornton, of City Hospital, Nottingham, said: ‘Once it is born, you can't kill the baby but the law doesn't say anything about to what degree you resuscitate it.’”

" ‘The way it is dealt with is by sensible doctors and sensible nurses keeping it under their hat and allowing the baby to pass away peacefully.’ "

I cannot imagine the guilt, pain, and suffering these “professional” suffer under, whether the acknowledge it or not.

“Professor Campbell does not believe that a baby born in this way should be kept alive at all costs.”

Well, of course he doesn’t. He didn’t want the baby alive to begin with.

"What paediatricians do is spend resources keeping a baby that is going to die, alive. It is absolute nonsense. It does show that is up to us (obstetricians) to make sure the baby is not moving."

Why waste resources on an unwanted tissue blob that just happens to have a beating heart and is obviously alive. No one wants it. It is only valuable if it is wanted. Just like you, Doctor?

Much of the radical feminist movement spends a great deal of time telling young girls that they shouldn't feel pressure to conform and be "pretty" and "act like a girl" because they shouldn't find their value in being desired by men. While certain aspects of such logic are, in fact, healthy for young girls, it is difficult to take such comments at face value when at the very core of their "pro-choice" rhetoric is the idea that a fetus is only valuable when it is deemed valuable by the mother.

Signs that read, "Too bad the Pope's mother didn't have a Choice" or "I wish Barbara Bush had had a choice" and comments that echo that sentiment, such as, "I wish your mother had aborted YOU" betray the reality of the anti-life movement. It isn't about rights, or freedom, or safety, but it is about control.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Spamville (Not Spam, I Swear)

I made a promise to myself a while back to take a day and respond to every spam email I received in an effort to better my life. “Why else,” I asked myself, “would someone go to all the trouble of emailing me ‘amazing offers’ if they didn’t have my best interest at heart?” It would be near-sinful for me to continue to turn my nose up at their philanthropy.

So, I feel it appropriate to detail for you how my life has changed since I began replying to Spam.

The most obvious change in my life is that I’ll soon be typing on a copy of Microsoft Office XP for which I paid only $50. I can hardly wait for the six to eight weeks for shipping to go by (it’s like freaking waiting for Christmas!!!). In fact, I’m soon to be loaded up on software sold at 90-95% of retail price. It will be amazing how much better my photos look when tweaked with Photoshop, and I will have saved close to $500 by buying through my new buddies Randi Sherman [hunkmhynseu@supermail.ru] and Melba Gomez [axaacjiov@yahoo.com]. They don’t really respond to my “thank you” note emails. Randi and Melba must be quite humble and shy.

A lot of my new internet friends seem to really have a special burden for my wife’s well-being. They are constantly reminding me to check to make sure she is happy, or satisfied, or pleased, or “elated”. There are a wealth of products available which apparently will ensure her perpetual happiness, and there is nothing a husband wishes for more than his spouse’s perpetual happiness. “The smile on her face,” they promise, “will let you know its working!” Wait till she comes home from her conference this weekend and opens the boxes of goodies I’ve purchased on her behalf!!!

(A couple of emails also seemed to take great interest in helping other people’s wives meet men who can fulfill their idea of a perfect prince charming. “Wives Looking for Real Men. They need someone new,” said one email. It is sad when marriages don’t work out. Some guys are just jerks, what can I say. Sadly, I don’t know very many single guys who would be seen as a “catch” to a previously married woman on the rebound, so I couldn’t help them much. I sent them my friend Thomas’s email address and phone number though. I don’t know if he fits the “shining armor” mold, but, whatever…)

Some of my new friends apparently are working with technology which needs to be updated. Their keyboards, for example, seem to have keys that tend to be stuck. Their email subjects contain spelling errors which demonstrate this: ssshhheeee wiiiillll sssssaaaayyy itttttssss ttttoooooo llllooonnnggggg and Blllooooooocccck spppaaaaam frrrroooooom yoooour innnbbboooox. This reminds me; I should ask my friends Randi and Melba if they also sell computer components in addition to software.

I would be remiss if I failed to mentiong the convenience of shopping for prescription medications online. Some of them I can purchase from Canadian companies and get around paying the high prices which translate into profit for companies like Lily. I mean, sure, Lily employs thousands of people in my state, and is about the only reason our State has remained solvent and not been bought by some third world country, and SURE, a lot of that profit goes back into research for new drugs to treat different diseases and stuff, but man, it feels nice helping out the Canadian economy too. Everyone wants to “Buy American” when it comes to cars and jeans and stuff, but who wants to help Big Pharmaceutical companies do well?

Plus, there were a lot of drugs I didn’t know I really needed, but it turns out I might at some point, so I went ahead and stocked up. Maude Massey [carmelbremneryson@thailand-email.com] was the friend who helped me out here. Maude lives in Toronto and is, apparently, of Thai decent. She tipped me off to a fab Canadian organization to help me out. Josh Blankenship [meloniemcm@2d.com] sent me the same information. People in Toronto are really nice. I haven’t heard back from either of them to find out if they took my advice to “meet up”. (They seem to have a lot in common, and I could feel “love” in the air, you know?)

Anyway, I have several varieties in various doses of the following, should you find yourself short: Viagra, Super.Viagra, Cialis, Xanax, Valium, Zocor, Propecia, Phentermine, Vicodin, Prozac, Ambein, Nexium, Phentermine, Paxil, Vioxx, Lipitor, Soma and “many others” which I had seen advertised on TV. (On TV, you never quite know what the drugs are actually used for, so now that I have a nice supply of them, I can read the indications in my spare time. Yet another benefit!) (P.S. Nexium really IS a purple pill!!!!)

When I first decided to purchase some of these medications, I was a little embarrassed to ask my local family doctor to prescribe things I didn’t need. And it’s too much of a hassle to travel out to Chesterfield to see the quack doctor who would write me an excuse from work because of a “difficult pregnancy” were I to ask him nicely (ie, make the mouth of Ben Franklin move on a $100 bill). So, I was happy to learn, from my new pal Reva [MQDWRFAIA@locos.com] that she was the head physician at a major medical practice, and that she could “hook me up” so to speak. Her email said, “Our doctors will write you a prescription for F.R.E.E. Any prescription drug you WANT!!! Brand name or generic! Overnite shipping!” With all those exclamations, she seemed as excited for me as I was.

As exciting as all of this is, there is something even better: mortgage(s)!!!! Wow! Can you believe the deals that are out there right now? Several mortgages have been offered to me (I was even “approved” for a few I forgot I had applied for?!?!). So many, in fact, that I was a bit depressed by the prospect of filling out so much paper work. Luckily, it turned out that they all wanted the same information (bank account info, social security number, address, mother’s maiden name, etc) so I cut some corners by only filling out the info once, then sending it back via a carbon copy feature on my email program. (Don’t tell them that I cheated, though, ok? I would hate for any of them to feel like I don’t value our business relationship.)

I’m not sure how I will ever choose between all of these lenders, but once I have all of their offers back, it will be interesting to see which ones are the best! I could be wrong, but I think the offer I received from ClubXianBank, (Erin Fernandez [aldrakor@clubxiangqi.org]) will end up being the one I want to go with. “We are ready to give you a $200,000 loan for $350/month payment. Approval process will take 1 minute. Just visit the link below and fill out the short form.” Sadly, when I visited the link, their server went down just after I filled out the form and hit “send”. Luckily, they received my info and told me they would send me a “hard-copy” approval soon. $200,000!!!! In the words of George Jefferson, “we’re moving on up!” (Just don’t call Cami “Wheezie”…trust me…)

Of course, I’ve found a few new friends who lack discretion and common courtesy. Many of their emails refer to certain male body parts which I will respectfully decline to detail here in a “family friendly” environment. Such as the one from Hung Greenberg [htrzsbhblvac@funmail.co.uk]. I know my British friends have a different sensibility about certain words, but his email was a little crude even for my sophisticated tastes. (On a side note, he too seems to suffer from the stuck keyboard syndrome I talked about earlier, as evidenced by this line from his email: “Do yooou want do increeeeease the siiiiiize of…” etc.)

And, my friend Hung isn’t the only one. I mean, it got so bad that I fired off an angry email at someone for using the word “pennies” in a subject line of an email. I had to apologize and admit I misread their intention.

But enough of the negative! There’s so much more to cover, such as getting a GED (I figure it’s good to have both a diploma AND a GED), completing a Master’s Degree (they are crediting me with, like, 40 credit hours for my “work experience” and all I have to do is pay for the credits, not take any classes!!!), losing weight (those turn out to be purple pills to!?!), and filtering spam. But, the way I see it, all this talk about spam is a bunch of garbage. Spam can make your life better. Blocking it should be illegal. I hope Congress does something about all these hucksters who want to make money off of us by “protecting” us from these friendly, useful, and valuable emails.

Thomas V. Bona contributed valuable knowledge to this essay.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Farewell, Mr. President

I watched much of the coverage of President Reagan's funeral today. There are many things to be said by someone like me, someone who, if asked, would credit Mr. Reagan with molding and shaping his political views and inspiring political activism. I think, perhaps, rather than my words, those of others are more appropriate today:

Lech Walesa, former leader of Poland's solidarity movement and President of Poland after the fall of the Iron Curtain writes in the Opinion Journal:

GDANSK, Poland--When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty. This can't be said often enough by people who lived under oppression for half a century, until communism fell in 1989.

Poles fought for their freedom for so many years that they hold in special esteem those who backed them in their struggle. Support was the test of friendship. President Reagan was such a friend. His policy of aiding democratic movements in Central and Eastern Europe in the dark days of the Cold War meant a lot to us. We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right.

I often wondered why Ronald Reagan did this, taking the risks he did, in supporting us at Solidarity, as well as dissident movements in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, while pushing a defense buildup that pushed the Soviet economy over the brink. Let's remember that it was a time of recession in the U.S. and a time when the American public was more interested in their own domestic affairs. It took a leader with a vision to convince them that there are greater things worth fighting for. Did he seek any profit in such a policy? Though our freedom movements were in line with the foreign policy of the United States, I doubt it.

I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They're convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for. Otherwise they would consider their life and work pointless. Only such politicians are great politicians and Ronald Reagan was one of them.

Lady Margaret Thatcher, in her pre-recorded eulogy:

And surely it is hard to deny that Ronald Reagan's life was providential, when we look at what he achieved in the eight years that followed.

Others prophesied the decline of the West; he inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom.

Others saw only limits to growth; he transformed a stagnant economy into an engine of opportunity.

Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War - not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.

I cannot imagine how any diplomat, or any dramatist, could improve on his words to Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva summit: `Let me tell you why it is we distrust you.' Those words are candid and tough and they cannot have been easy to hear. But they are also a clear invitation to a new beginning and a new relationship that would be rooted in trust.

We live today in the world that Ronald Reagan began to reshape with those words. It is a very different world with different challenges and new dangers. All in all, however, it is one of greater freedom and prosperity, one more hopeful than the world he inherited on becoming president.

As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan for eight of the most important years of all our lives. We talked regularly both before and after his presidency. And I have had time and cause to reflect on what made him a great president.

Ronald Reagan knew his own mind. He had firm principles - and, I believe, right ones. He expounded them clearly, he acted upon them decisively.

and she closed with the following:

Ronald Reagan's life was rich not only in public achievement, but also in private happiness. Indeed, his public achievements were rooted in his private happiness. The great turning point of his life was his meeting and marriage with Nancy.

On that we have the plain testimony of a loving and grateful husband: `Nancy came along and saved my soul'. We share her grief today. But we also share her pride - and the grief and pride of Ronnie's children.

For the final years of his life, Ronnie's mind was clouded by illness. That cloud has now lifted. He is himself again - more himself than at any time on this earth. For we may be sure that the Big Fella Upstairs never forgets those who remember Him. And as the last journey of this faithful pilgrim took him beyond the sunset, and as heaven's morning broke, I like to think - in the words of Bunyan - that `all the trumpets sounded on the other side'.

We here still move in twilight. But we have one beacon to guide us that Ronald Reagan never had. We have his example. Let us give thanks today for a life that achieved so much for all of God's children.

and, finally, a semi-local fella who worked in the Reagan Whitehouse, Peter Rusthoven wrote about his former boss in the Indy Star:

In his life, detractors called Ronald Reagan an amiable dunce, an ideologue peddling right-wing nostrums ill-suited to complex realities of a world fraught with danger and ambiguity. His election, they warned, spelled disaster at home and abroad.

On his death, these spectacularly wrong critics remember little beyond "amiable," citing Reagan's articulate optimism and disarming, non-demonizing demeanor as his lasting legacy, the key to his extraordinary grip on the hearts of Americans now honoring him with an outpouring of affection and gratitude.

Well, as the Gipper might say with a shrug and a smile, they still don't get it.


As Reagan was first to say, the ideas were neither "his" nor "new." They were the ideas that inspired the Founders, ideas he knew retained across the centuries their power to inspire not only us but a world starved for freedom. He knew, as the first of his predecessors said on taking the oath in 1789, that "preservation of the sacred fire of liberty" remained "deeply, perhaps . . . finally staked, on the success of the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." He believed our own hands were worthy of that trust, if we would have the courage and faith of generations of Americans past who had passed the torch along.

and finally,

Throughout, President Reagan cared not a whit about personal credit. He grasped the central insight of leadership: It wasn't about him; it was about serving the American people, and the Creator who had endowed them with the liberty he cherished.

C.S. Lewis wrote that we are trapped in time, but God sees always and at once the entire human story, all we call past and future, in "present tense." Ronald Reagan, I believe, saw America's story in much the same way. For him, a general was always on his knees at Valley Forge; a lonely president was still pacing the darkened halls, pondering his struggle to save the Union; even now, the boys of Pointe du Hoc were scaling the cliffs, and FDR was calling us to our rendezvous with destiny.

May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Peggy Noonan's Memorial for a President

Peggy Noonan is one of my favorite essay/editorial writers. She worked with President Reagan, and wrote a fabulous book on the effect her working with him had in her life, entitled, When Character Was King.

She writes a unique tribute, I think, to the President. It is a very good read, and quickly recounts much of what President Reagan was. Her opening lines include this phrase:

"He was dying for years and the day came and somehow it came as a blow. Not a loss but a blow. How could this be?"

It would make a great opening line to a novel or collection of short stories. And it is a great opening for this essay.

There is also this recap of his position regarding the Soviet Union:

"And when it was over, the Berlin Wall had been turned into a million concrete souvenirs, and Soviet communism had fallen. But of course it didn't fall. It was pushed. By Mr. Know Nothing Cowboy Gunslinger Dimwit. All presidents should be so stupid."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Rest in Peace, Ronnie

The boyhood home of Ronald Wilson Reagan, President of the United States (1981-1989). President Reagan died at the age of 93 this Saturday. Posted by Hello

My very first political action was to vote AGAINST Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Presidential election. (Those who know me very well might find this the hardest factoid about me to believe of anything they've ever heard, but let me explain...)

I was 7 (going on 8) at the time, in second grade at Adams Elementary School in Hamilton, Ohio. My teacher was Mrs. Clark, and while I have blocked much of that year of school (including some elementary spelling, if you must know) from my mind because of the atmosphere she perpetuated, I do remember the class gathering to read Weekly Reader every week, and one of the things WR was known for was asking the students to vote for President. I believe they are very accurate in predicting the actual winner, if news stories are to be believed.

Regardless, I remember vividly that the makeup of my class had President Carter being beat soundly (and, they were right). I felt bad for a President who was so unpopular. I decided to help him keep a little dignity, even if it was only in Mrs. Clark's second grade class. I raised my hand to vote for President Carter because I figured I would help him not lose so dramatically.

Of course, I also remember the day when President Reagan was shot. I remember that quite vividly. Then, there was the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, where he spoke so passionately on one hand, and was tender and caring with the families on the other. I also remember, probably more so because I've seen the footage a million times now, the tingly, bigger-than-me feeling I got when President Reagan challenged the Soviets to "tear down this wall." It still gives me chills.

There is no doubt that I am a Reaganite, in many ways. Even now, I'm drawn more to those political candidates who remind me of Reagan. He is, and will remain for me, the ideal of what a President should be. All others will be measured against his standard.

We've lost a great leader, but we really lost him 8 or 10 years ago. The Ronald Reagan we lost this weekend was the husband, father, and friend who still remained long after a terrible affliction had robed him of his memories, his personality, and much of the core of who he was. But for Nancy and the children, he was still the person they loved, and that Ronnie is gone today. But, he's gone from here into a renewal of spirit.

You'll be missed, Mr. President. We owe you a great deal. May you find yourself renewed in the presence of your Creator.

You may express your sympathy to Mrs. Reagan and the family at: https://www.ronaldreaganmemorial.com/condolence_book.asp

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

What a Difference a Year Makes

The National League Central Division was poor last year. How poor? If the Reds had been 10 games over .500 last year, they would have had about an 8 game lead over the rest of the Division, with as much as 20 games over a couple teams. This year, they are 10 over the 50-50 mark, and are clinging to just a two or three game lead over three other teams. Of course, there is a side of this that says, "enjoy it while it lasts" (and I am), but this is a much better division this year, and my beloved Reds are in first place, with the best record in the National League. It made April and May fun, lets see how long it lasts...