Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mob Beating*

So Samuel McClain, recent mob-beating victim, wasn't just honking his horn. Looks like a drug-deal didn't go so well.

Boots & Sabers jumps on the news** and asks "Does this change things?"

*By adding an asterisk, I'm implying that it really isn't a 'mob beating' because of the drug-deal preceding it. I'm being sarcastic.1

**By 'jumping on the news,' I'd like to clarify that it means they were the first ones to let me know about it. So it really only counts as 'jumping' in my world...unless you actually did break the story, in which case, good for you!***

***Of course, this leads me to remind you that when you're here, it's only me that counts.****

****Please don't tell Cantankerous I said that.

1. My New Year's Resolution is to no longer use the asterisk. From now on, it's all about footnotes.

Happy New Year!

Kane Watch: What Could He Do?

While Eugene Kane is smelling the flowers and completely ignoring the elephant about to trample them, Jessica McBride attempts to identify some of the realities behind Milwaukee's inner-city violence.

In all fairness, I get where Kane is coming from. He wants his readers to know more about the good side of a part of the city that so regularly, though not un-deservedly, gets a bad rap. Although it's a great story about what good an inner-city Boys & Girls Club can do, why is his first full column following the McClain beating so focused on his excitement over this club and not on his outrage over yet another senseless act of black-on-black crime. Is he so occupied with painting a pretty picture that he passes up on tackling what's really the issue that has so many people concerned?

That's where Kane troubles me. I envy the fact that he has earned enough of a reputation to be granted a venue in a large city-paper. I'm impressed that he has as many readers, love him or hate him, as he does. And it would seem to me that he is as much a voice of Milwaukee's African-Americans (at least to Journal-Sentinel readers) as he may claim Mark Belling is the voice of Milwaukee's right-wing zealots.* And what's the first thing he has to say about it in his column? I'll paraphrase:

"Yeah. That's a real shame about that beating. Hey! Did you see our shiny community center!?!?"

Kane may talk about the elephant in passing, but basically ignores the fact that it's heading straight for the community he so strongly loves and defends. Again, I have no doubt that the club does great things for the community, and another dozen like it in the area may someday greatly reduce the crime and overall blight, but the reality is that it's simply a band-aid on a big cut. It often serves as a proctor for parental involvement. The reasons for this lack of involvement are many and unfortunate, among them poverty, undereducation, drugs, alcohol and the, as McBride puts it,
"...the complete disintegration of the family
structure. Don't assume these kids even have parents around. It's common
knowledge that many are fatherless. But we've got a generation growing up
without mothers too, the orphans or near orphans of the crack epidemic of the
late 1980s. Some are virtually homeless. Many are being raised by

McBride provides a further description of this disintegration:
"[She] mentored an African American youth from
Milwaukee for more than four years. Father, a drug dealer in Chicago who never
knew him. Mother, murdered by her boyfriend. Being raised by his grandmother.
Witnessed a murder getting off the bus. Had several friends who were murdered.
Only one of his friends was being raised by his father - and only one was being
raised by his mother. One mother was off doing drugs. Another had died of AIDS.
And so on. The kid I mentored was the son of a teenage mother who was the child
of a teenage mother who was the child of a teenage mother..."

What McBride's doing here is actually looking at the problem. She's citing examples of some of the very ugly issues in the community. And she acknowledges that it's often difficult to discuss these topics for fear of being called racist.

Not true? If such a popular and revered African-American entertainer as Bill Cosby can't voice some of the very same concerns as McBride without being accused of being a sell-out to his race, how is anyone ever supposed to tackle the issue?

Now McBride doesn't really offer any hard and fast solutions to the problem, but if we're unwilling to first recognize the cause of problems in a realistic manner then we can't even begin to attempt permanently solving them. I say "realistic manner" because, in this case, we can only afford to accept racism as the sole cause for so long. Just as ugly as saying all the problems are caused because most of the people are black is the unwillingness to accept honest criticism without returning accusations of being racist, an Uncle Tom, or a sell-out. At some point we must be willing to open our eyes to all of the issues and respond to them appropriately.

A man who beats his wife may donate half his money to charity, but his philathropy, noble as it may be, will forever be tarnished by his abuse. Likewise, a community center may be wonderful thing, but right now the community is plagued with a problem far outweighing the good the center may bring. What we need now is for the voices of black Milwaukee to come forward and take an active role not in just identifying and resolving the problems, but in actually accepting they exist.

I hope Mr. Kane may eventually try to do that. He has the voice to do so.

*Imagine if Kane and Belling truly were the sole voices of liberal-blacks and conservative-whites in Milwaukee. Scary.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Kane Watch

I'm going to start a regular feature here called Kane Watch. I'll try, with great dilligence, to keep tabs on Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane, and provide any commentary I may come across regarding both his column and his blog, good or bad. I believe that Kane has a tremendous opportunity to build understanding and cooperation with his column. Instead, he regularly squanders that opportunity by being a polarizing apologist, and quite often as racist as he accuses so many in Milwaukee of being.

To start off, here's what a couple of other bloggers had to say about Kane's most recent column on the mob beating of Samuel McClain. Check out:


RealDebateWisconsin: Kane, insane.

They say it so well there's nothing left for me!

Insert Witty Link Title Here

Britney Spears wants to have another baby right away in hopes of smoothing over her rocky relationship with Cletus. Based on the fact that that's typically why most girls appearing on Jerry Springer want to have babies, I guess Britney has finally fully embraced her white-trashnitude.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel brings us the story of a man urging people not to fire guns off at midnight on New Years. Oh yeah, he's also a convicted felon with an 11-year-old incarcerated son. 11! And he's wearing a t-shirt with Big Bird carrying a gun.

What goes around comes around...I think...(hat tip to Drudge)

Boots & Sabers talks about "root causes" in the context of the recent mob beating. Hint: it's not horn-honking.

Jenna at Right off the Shore discusses minimum wage and the detrimental effects of increasing it. Watch out, Jenna, Dave Berkman at the Shepherd-Express may accuse you of advocating slavery.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Women Around the World

In the news this week, there were several things that caught my eye and made me realize how privileged I am to be a woman living in the United States. Let's have a tour of recent worldy events/stories:

In Pakistan, a man murders one daughter who allegedly "disobeyed" him, and then takes out the other three, "just in case. " He is described as indifferent to the crime.

In Iran, female athletes apparently shamed the country when their attire at the recent West Asia sports competition fit "too closely." Apparently, that Irani women have been disregarding the strict hejab dress code has been taken note of recently by the new conservative government. Mohammad Rahbar, the Majlis MP, scorned Irani men for their, "...indifference that allows women to dress the way they do."

In Ethopia, women turn to sport in the hopes of avoiding a life of servitude and pregnancy.

So, out of curiousity, I decided to check on the "National Orginazation of Women" here in the good old US of A, to see what they are doing to help further the cause of women around the world. Here are some of their top priorities:

-Speak Out on Silicone Breast Implants Approval
-NOW Protests Wal-Mart

Fascinating. Truly honorable work, that is.

Everyone's Doing It!

So it seems to be the thing at this time of year to have some sort of "Top Ten" or "Ten Things" list. Always wanting to earn the respect and admiration of my peers, as well as gaining acceptance among the masses, I figured I'd do the same.

Ten Things That Should Have Happened In 2005 But Didn't
(in no particular order)

-The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who supports the war attains the same level of prominence as Cindy Sheehan, culminating in a televised debate between the two.

-After a slow start, the Green Bay Packers end the season at 11 and 5. Brett Favre announces his retirement. Mike Sherman is let go the next day.

-Inspired by events in Iraq, Iranians rise up and overthrow the Ayatollah. The American military stands at the border watching, but otherwise not getting involved.

-Dan Rather is immediately dismissed from CBS following the discovery that forged documents were knowingly used in a story implicating President Bush of being AWOL from military service. This sends a strong message to all current and future journalists that no single man or woman, nor his or her reputation, is above journalistic integrity.

-A new law passes in Wisconsin requiring photo identification to vote. To insure against any potential disenfranchisement, free "Voter Identification Cards" -- for use only when voting -- can be attained at any DMV. Voters can also get the card, for a small fee, at stores such as Wal-Mart or K-Mart, much in the same way as fishing licenses are issued. People who already have a state issued photo ID (such as a driver's license) need not get a voter identification card.

-The age of reality television comes to an end following dismal ratings during the Fall sweeps. American Idol, Survivor and The Apprentice are all cancelled on the same day. Television executives rally to find someone, anyone, with enough talent to actually write a script and fill the void.

-Following a number of incidents unbecoming of an elected official, a grass-roots effort to recall Milwaukee Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. gains ground.

-The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel prints an editorial claiming Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas deserves an asterisk because he doesn't represent the views of black America. Columnist Eugene Kane resigns in disgust, but not before having one last article published in which he asserts that not all blacks think the same. He is later hired as the managing editor of the Milwaukee Courier.

-The USS Des Moines finds a home on Milwaukee's lakefront as a naval museum.

-Someone finally has the courage to say enough is enough: John Mayer drifts away into obscurity.

Sykes' Year in Review

Charlie Sykes has his year in review up. My favorite line, from a story about a school that eliminated any "bodily contact" between students and a little boy was pushing a little girl on the swing:
“’Do not push...Let her push herself, please.’”

Check it out here.

We get letters...

Actually, we get comments. Believe it or not, they're from people other than Cantankerous and me! But I kinda had to laugh when I noticed that I received a comment on this post, which was, in fact, a follow up to a comment on this post.

As an aside, both of these posts are examples of what happens when I turn off that little stopper in my head and just start typing away. I mean everything I write, but I probably write more than I mean to. Nevertheless, I have no intention of stopping.

Anyhoo, I must say that I was quite disappointed to find that my affinity for the beautiful Nicole Koglin may be misplaced. According to a reader, she's probably not quite what I've made her out to be. To summarize, I guess Nicole isn't the greatest when it comes to guys.

Which makes her perfect for me. I'm a sucker for a challenging woman. Some time back I dated another local anchorwoman off and on for two years. Boy oh boy did I have a roller coaster ride with that one! Maybe I have some sort of problem.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's the rest of the world that has a problem!


I'm not sure how in the world I missed this. I wonder if I was temporarily sedated for a month or so. And Dan and Nicole from WISN's Early Spin accorded McGee the honor of being Idiot of the Week for it. Seriously, didn't anyone think of telling me about this?

Add this to Mikey's little run-in with the Wauwatosa police and all the hoo-ha that followed, and I really have to question the intelligence of his constituency. But I'll hold my judgment until the next election. If he's ousted, good for them. If he's re-elected, I frankly couldn't care less about what any of those voters have to say when it comes to determining the course this city takes in just about anything.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Frist Lays Out a Game Plan for Iran

Senate majority leader Bill Frist has laid out a plan for dealing with the nuclear situation in Iran. In it, he argues that international sanctions should lead the way due to the disproportionate pace of the International Atomic Energy Agency's talks and the immediacy of the problem.

I completely agree that something must be done to reign in Ahmadinejad and the ruling theocrats in Iran because, and perhaps most frighteningly, they appear to be a group with which no one can reason. I also agree that time is of the essence.

Fortunately for us, Frist's plan is the first I have read that makes any kind of sense. Although he does flirt with the notion of military action, he ultimately pushes for alternatives. I feel this is wise because military action in Iran would only serve to rally the Irani citizens around its crooked rulers. Let the Iran-Iraq war be the example there, in which millions of Iranis who were unhappy with their government rallied to support it so as to assist the greater national cause. Similarly, attacking Iran now would only give the government the tools it needs to gain the kind of national support from their citizens that was seen in the 80's, and nobody wants that.

Currently, the Irani people are expressing desire for freedom and discontent with their government's leadership. As such, an international push for sanctions just may be the most effective tool the world can bring to bear on an Irani administration that has already been highly scrutinized. One thing is for sure: I will be paying close attention to the response to Frist's plan.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Americans like to win...

A great article on why Bush's approval ratings have gone up and why the prevailing defeatist attitude of many Democrats isn't doing them any favors.

Useful Tool

I've been house hunting off and on for just over a year now, and I just discovered a nifty mapping device to make my search even easier!

Click here to map the sex offenders in your neighborhood. Thanks to the The Early Spin blog for this link.

Monday, December 26, 2005

So long and farewell

Tonight is the 555th and final episode of Monday Night Football.


Slowly Losing It

I think Nicole Koglin put on a little weight over the holidays. Now don't take that as a disparaging comment! It means the woman likes to eat. And I like to cook! Chalk that up as one point in the Casper column!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

What to Do

So, it's Christmas. I can say for my part, that overall, it's been a great one. Unfortunately, though, the day is young and I currently find myself alone, ripping cd's, killing people in a great on-line mobster game, and writing this blog.

Which is to say, I'm bored. We did the whole Christmas-at-Thanksgiving thing this year, and I'm not a big fan of that. So, this is officially the first Christmas Day I've ever spent alone: The dad is in heaven. The mom is with the step-dad in Vail. The brother is with the wife at the Bears game (she's a Packer fan, we are Bears fans. Hah. That's great). The sister is with the boyfriend at her home in D.C. And me? Well, my man is at work (yeah, I know what you're thinking: on Christmas Day?! Stupid Packers) So that leaves me here chilling with the dog, and as you can see, he's not the most exciting company right now.

Hey, it could be worse. A lot worse. I could live in Pakistan.

Or, I could be a liberal.

Local Girl Back in National News

It really is a great story for a Christmas Day. Local girl, Jeanna Giese, the world's only unvaccinated rabies survivor, was revisted by national media this week after an AP story was picked up by such publications as The NY Times, The LA Times and The Washington Post. Looks like she's doing great and well on the road to recovery.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

And God Bless the USA!

What a Difference A Year Can Make

In thinking back on the last year and all the amazing events that have come to pass, I decided to re-read President Bush's inaugrual speech. It really is a gem. My favorite part:

"We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."

And with democracy now in Iraq, it really is only a matter of time before other countries realize just how possible it is (cough! Iran). Think about that: for hundreds of years, we've been told that democracy would never happen in the Middle East. Not ever.

I guess some things do change.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Full Disclosure

I have a non-sexual crush on Will Smith. Sometimes I dream about just hanging out with the guy. When I wake up from those dreams, I'm actually disappointed that it was just a dream. There have been times I've thought of moving to California just so I could babysit for his kids, and maybe when my shift is over and he and Jada come home from hanging out at the hippest L.A. club he'll offer me a ride home and ask if I want to stop for a beer. I bet he drinks some funky imported beer none of us have ever heard of. But when he orders, I'll say "the same for me" as if I drink it all the time.

I hate Ray Romano. He owes me money. Actually, he doesn't owe me money, but he does owe me every part of my life he's stolen when I flipped past "Everybod Loves Raymond" while looking for anything Will Smith stars in. And I hate him for ruining Peter Boyle for me. He is and always will be Young Frankenstein. Ray made him his dad, and that just upsets me to no end.

No matter what anyone says, no matter how anti-geek one may be, Patrick Stewart is cool. Here's a guy with a reputation in England as a great Shakesperean actor who rose to prominence in a country that really matters (that's the US) as both Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Professer X! And as Shakesperean as he may be, he's still got the time to do the voice for shows like American Dad. Christ, the guy was even in Dune. Dune! What the hell was that all about?

So far as I'm concerned, Gary Oldman is the best actor ever. He's played Lee Harvey Oswald, Dracula, Sid Vicious, a young Comissioner Gordon, Pontius Pilate, Harry Potter's godfather, a weird, drugged out cop in The Professional and a black guy in True Romance. A black guy! I bet on Christmas his older, less-talented brother always gets to be Santa and everyone in his family wishes Gary would do it. Damn the guy is good.

Meanwhile, Christopher Walken couldn't act to save his life. Whenever he's in a movie, he's just Christopher Walken. And that scares the crap out of me because he's perfect in every role he's ever played. The man's just a freak. You should shiver when you watch him.

Finally, I'm in love with Nicole Koglin. I wish I knew someone who knew someone who knew her, because I'd have that person pass the other person a note to give to Nicole. It would be on loose-leaf paper and tell her I liked her and asked if she liked me with two checkboxes, one saying "Yes" and the other saying "No." She's the reason I get up on Saturdays and Sundays. When she went on vacation recently I slept straight through entire weekends. I'd be happy if I got the note back and she drew her own box that said "Maybe."

And that's the sum total of least for right now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In Memoriam

My Aunt Vincenza passed away today. She was born in Italy 104 years ago.

When her older sister, my great-grandmother, my "Nana," passed away seven years ago at the age of 99, I first started to consider just how much could happen in one person's life. In both of their cases, they were born in small villages in the Alps where they milked goats as children and rode in donkey-drawn carriages if they had to go any distance. When they decided to move to this country, they spent a week on a ship having absolutely no idea of what was ahead of them. My great-grandmother and -grandfather moved here in hopes of escaping the rise of fascism. What they found here was a nation where they could prosper, and quite fortunately (for me), raise a family that would continue for generations to come. By the time they passed, everyone owned a car, man had walked on the moon, two world wars had been fought and the rustic village from which they came had become more a novelty than a way of life.

To Italia and Joseph, Catherine, Edward, Vincenza, and the countless and nameless others, I thank you. Though I may have not known you well, or in many cases not at all, you are the people who made me. For that I am forever in debt.


Tales of true crime and murder are especially troubling at this time of year. Nevertheless, we must not ignore them when they happen, for pretending it doesn't happen simply won't make it true. I urge you to read this sad saga of abduction, false hope, failed heroism and eventual despair.

Straw Man Revisited

As a the proud owner of a B.A. in Philosophy, I can't leave the post about Straw Man arguments alone. I agree wholeheartedly with Casper's analysis, but the Philosophy student in me has to throw out my two cents, for good measure.

Here's my explanation: A straw man fallacy is one in which a person does not address the real issue, but begins by misrepresenting the position of the opposition and then attacking a similar but weaker argument as though s/he were really attacking the original argument. When s/he takes down the weaker one, s/he acts as though the original argument has gone down. But, in reality, the original argument was never debated, just the 'straw man'.


Argument: Abortion is wrong because it doesn't respect the rights of the fetus.

Straw Man: You say abortion is wrong because you clearly have no respect for the rights of women!


If I had a nickel for every time I heard a liberal utilize the straw man argument, I'd be retired by now.

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

The Journal reported today that: "Wisconsin residents and businesses paid a record $56.5 billion in state, local and federal taxes and fees this year, a 10% increase from last year and the biggest jump in more than two decades, according to a study by a non-partisan taxpayers group."

What a Big Friggin' Surprise. Read the whole story here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Impoverished Straw Man

Following Bush's speech the other night, I read a lot of liberal commentators go on and on about how his arguments were "straw man. Sorry for not linking to them now, but go to Instaupundit, follow his links and you'll find a few (a permalink to his commentary on the speech is a few posts down).

I typically have a problem whenever someone calls straw man on an opposing argument. The problem is that it's usually a way to ignore an opposing point of view based on what someone learned to be a logical fallacy in a college debate class. Yeah, I took the class. I needed the credits. Either way, what results is ignoring the opportunity for discourse simply because one party didn't like how the other party made his or her point. But when we do that, we lose the opportunity to get beyond the fallacy and truly discuss the point of contention.

Tonight I ran across this blog post from Scott Feldstein where he calmly expresses his distaste for those who believe one of the biggest problems facing our nation are "freeloaders," or those people who "get more out of the system than they put in[.]" To be fair, the point of his post is not so much that this isn't a problem as it isn't our nations biggest problem. But within his argument is the dreaded, to high-school debate coaches and myself alike (albeit for different reasons), straw man argument.
"How is it that they honestly believe that of all the problems facing our nation
the one that requires the most urgent action is that some poor person might be
getting more out the system than they put in?"

First off, I want to point out why this is a straw man argument. You see, Scott, the problem isn't that "some poor person" is getting more than his or her fair share, it's that multitudes of poor people are getting more than their fair share. I honestly don't believe that any sane person would have a problem with this if the case were that a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of our population fit this description. The issue is that there a millions of people filling this role, and that is why so many feel it's an issue requiring "urgent action."

(Now that I've regretfully had to point out the straw man aspect of the argument, I'd like to move on to the actual discourse.)

"Being on the dole" has become an institutionalized way of life in this country. Knowing how to get as much assistance out of government with the least amount of work, for some, is almost an occupation these days. If you don't believe that, consider all those unwilling to get jobs for fear of losing the welfare, foodstamps and unemployment our government provides. That, Scott, is the "disincentivising hard work" you oppose as much as those with whom you disagree.

I will be one of the first to argue that there are certainly those in need of society's assistance. But when able-bodied individuals see such assistance as an option, not a last resort, it really does become one of the greatest issues facing this nation. It isn't just a matter of spending our tax dollars on these people, it's a matter of nurturing a belief that government is responsible for taking care of you. The cascading effect of such a belief, from the person collecting assistance to the politician advocating it, is so detrimental to the overall success of our nation that it cannot be ignored. Every penny spent on a person who believes he or she should take advantage of the opportunities afforded them by government and not those inherently afforded them as human beings with potential is a penny not spent on education, roads or national defense. The societal effort to make a poor person less poor even though it's within their own power to do so just makes everyone else poor in the process.

And there's the discourse.


A few years ago my foreign roommate commented on how ridiculous it is that voter participation in this country is so low. Jessica McBride's latest Waukesaha Freeman article points out just how pathetic it is. Disconcerting is the fact that the Waukesah County Clerk only ordered enough ballots for 50% of registered voters. Disgusting is the fact that only 8% turned out.

People, the beauty of how this nation works is rooted in our ability, as citizens, to vote for our leaders. Whenever people argue about how Bush is "becoming a dictator," I remind them that it's fully within their power to use their vote and avoid that very situation come the next election. It's the law of our land.

But if you don't take advantage of that law--of the opportunity granted to you as part of our Constitution--then you have nothing to complain about. And judging by the fact that close to 92% of voters entirely ignored the election cited in McBride's artilce, then whatever you have to say, whatever your opinion may be, conservative or liberal, doesn't mean much.

Likewise, the opinion of 70% of Iraqis means a hell of a lot more.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

“Not only can we win the war in Iraq, we are winning the war in Iraq.”

Some comments on the President's address:

He seemed to take unqualified responsibility for EVERYTHING taking place in Iraq. He made the decisions and acknowledges that some of the decisions didn't necessarily produce the results intended (no WMDs, faulty intelligence notwithstanding). He then went on to remind us that there were certainly unintended consequences to invading Iraq, foremost bringing democracy to the formerly oppressed nation. On this matter his most striking quote to me was, "[Saddam Hussein's] power to harm a single man, woman or child is gone forever.

Not nearly enough people recognize that.

“We know from [terrorists] own communications that they feel a tightening noose.”
That seemed to me a veiled reference to the benefits of "spying on Americans" so many are up in arms about right now. But it drove home that we are winning.

He outlined a three-point strategy regarding Iraq (security, democracy, reconstruction). He stated that things haven't been perfect, but we must learn from our mistakes, and indicated that he will make decisions based on progress on the ground and not artificial timetables created by politicians. Should we follow such timetables, we will signal to Iraq that our word cannot be trusted, troop morale would be undermined and terrorists would be emboldened.

Finally, he spoke directly to those who have disagreed with his policies and states that he listened to their opinions and understood their concerns (sidenote: something I've seen regularly in the business world is that people don't understand that their opinion is heard but not acted upon. All too often it's because this isn't directly expressed to them. Bush came right out and said it tonight.) He reminds these people now that we, as a nation, have two options: victory or defeat. He clearly states which option he's following by saying:
“To retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor, and I
will not allow it.”
Great line.

And because I always read him and checked his site before posting this, I thought I'd add that Glenn Reynolds thinks "Bush went out of his way to take responsibility for the war."


A Leak of Consequence

Jessica McBride compares the leak that the government "is spying on Americans" with the Plame-is-a-CIA-operative leak. The difference? Revealing that Valerie Plame was a CIA operative came at a time when her position with the agency was arguably well-known and not so covert while the leak of NSA intercepts came at a time when they serve as an important tool to preventing future terrorist attacks. And McBride points out that in the case of the former, the leak led to media coverage attacking the leakers. In the latter, the coverage focuses on the details of what was leaked, shedding more light on what should have been kept in the dark in the first place. In all fairness, the motivation behind the coverage in both cases is obviously political. Unfortunately, that motivation comes from left-of-center each time.

The end result is that the media attacks the leakers when an opponent of Bush is the subject of the leak, but when a policy of Bush's is the subject of the leak, the media attacks the policy.

Should secret spying be reviewed to assure it falls within the scope of legality? Absolutely. But if it's ultimately determined to be legal, and leaking the information is determined to jeopardize an entirely legal (albeit controversial) act and, in turn, national security, the same scrutiny must be placed on the leakers as took place with Plame.

I'm not holding my breath.

Up to that point it's a fairy tale?

In the end, heroin offers nothing but sad stories.
-headline, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

(thanks, Coco)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mary J Blige

Mary J Blige, hip-hop/R&B superstar, gives an interview to The Guardian (link from Drudge). In it she tells the story of a childhood that didn't necessarily foster future success. Some points:

  • "'[T]hey [her family] were angry, hateful, jealous, ignorant, prideful people. My aunts were very, very mean people.'"
  • "She was told by one of these mean aunts...that she'd never finish high school, and she didn't. Any sign of ambition was stamped on, not just by her family but by the wider community."
  • "Her relationship with her mother was difficult...[W]as [this] the life she dreamed of for her daughter. 'No, this was her dream. She wanted to do this. It might be that she's living vicariously through me, but I believe she's gotten real bitter about it. It's probably why we've never really got along. Even as a child, she was a little rough on me, because on top of my father leaving, I was singing as a child, and it was what she wanted but she didn't use it. She didn't have the courage to use it.'"
  • When she finally met her father..."his focus was all to do with his being a washed-up bass player who never made it, and with her having somehow stolen a march on him."
  • On peers in school..."'When you went to school, you'd see the girl with the drug dealer boyfriends. She had everything. You can't even run halfway neck and neck with her, so you get with your group of miserable friends, and you do drugs and you drink...'"

At 17 a karaoke recording she made led to her being signed as a backup singer with Uptown records. By twenty she released her own album. Two years later she received "massive mainstream recognition" with her album My Life.” In spite of this success, Blige turned to drinking and drugs. It wasn’t until the 2001 death of Aaliyah that she gave up both.

Today Blige is a multi-Grammy winning singer, songwriter and producer with several chart-topping hits to her name. She’s collaborated with everyone from Ja Rule to U2. For a poor, inner-city black child to have amounted to so much one might think she’s a living testament to hard work and dedication in the face of adversity, and the opportunities this nation affords to anyone willing to give it their all. That’s why this opinion seems a little odd, if not surprising:

"’The blacker you are, the worse it is for you. If you're mixed, you've got a
shot. If you cater to what white America wants you to do and how they want you
to look, you can survive. But if you want to be yourself, and try to do things
that fit you, and your skin, nobody cares about that. At the end of the day,
white America dominates and rules. And it's racist.’"

So let me get this straight. You’re born with nothing and rise to stardom. You do this via a musical-genre originated by blacks but equally as popular with whites. Somehow, though, you feel as if your success results from catering to white America. Now, let’s say you did “do things that fit you” (I’m not really sure if she’s talking about herself or other black artists). Would that be to say that if white Americans didn’t like it they’re somehow racist? If black Americans’ distaste for “acting white” is excused, why is it that white Americans are racist for simply not liking music from black performers? Like it or not, the music industry is a business. Any good business knows that targeting the largest and most profitable market is a wise strategy. In the United States, whites, for better or worse, constitute the largest market there is (though it’s certainly debatable that any business could simply target “whites”). So if a business goes after the biggest market, that’s racist?

Ultimately, though, Mary J Blige still feels that even though she grew up with no family or community support and turned to drugs even after her success but continues to be a chart-topping performer, she’s a black woman in a racist nation. If that’s how things really are, I’d happily be the subject of racist attitudes any day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Simplifying the Arguments

Free Thinking Teachers provides a very simple description of why overly-idealistic liberal thought has problems standing up to the challenges the real world provides
"Idealism and liberalism sounds really good, especially to the uninformed. But
in the real world of people, political realities, and the business sector, pure
liberal idealism can be a set-up for failure..."

This is in the context of providing counseling to substance abusers. However, it could easily apply to a good deal of liberal thought. The problem with much of it is that it is overly-idealistic. There's nothing wrong with wanting to better society, but if that is the sum total of one's knowledge when tackling the problem (The world should be a better place, that's all there is to it), then those who wish to achive such a goal are bringing a knife to a gun fight. That approach ignores extenuating circumstances that, if ignored, will always lead to failure.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Please Vote Today!!

Today is the last day to support Regime Change in Iran! This blog champions the Irani fight for democracy, freedom and an end to internet censorship.

If you are at all concerned with the current events in Iran, this is a must read.

Please vote Regime Change in Iran for best Middle Eastern Weblog.

Let Israel Handle the Iranians

Jessica McBride today commented on Ahmadinejad's remarks about the Holocaust and again, she emphasized increasing pressure for the U.S. to act. I feel a response is in order.

While I agree with McBride's argument that the media needs to get behind Bush so as to show potential enemies the resolve of this great nation, I disagree again with the notion that the US needs to take immediate action in Iran. Part of my reasoning requires a healthy understanding of US-Irani relations over the past 100 years, but I'll spare you the academia (for now). Instead, let's observe the current operating conditions.

What we see with Iran, much more than we did with Iraq, is an outraged international community. And while I will defend to the death US involvement in Iraq, I cannot support outright US invasion of Iran. The social, political, historical and economic situations of Iran and Iraq differ too vastly. Because the international community has recognized the Irani threat, maybe it's time someone else stepped up to the plate. I nominate Israel.

To be sure, the Israeli government has a history of defending its right to exist. In fact, it has already led successful pre-emptive strikes of its own (see: Osirak nuclear facility near Baghdad, 1981). Let the Israelis handle this one, as they are the ones being threatened and they are equipped to deal with the problem. According to Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, they seem to be up to the challenge. “Thank God Israel has the means at its disposal to bring about the downfall of this extremist regime in Iran. There will be no second ‘final solution’,” he said.

Besides, aside from the international response to this madness, Iran has another problem with Russia. Russia has been embarrassed by Ahmadinejad's outrageous comments, and will move forward with caution when dealing with Iran. Which is to say, they may think twice about actually making good on the recent arms deal.

As Ahmadinejad continues to move his country into isolation, in terms of support, he thrusts it and his madness into the international spotlight. Regime change in Iran has been predicted for a long, long time. It seems as though one benefit of the current president is that he's speeding up the process. However, let us not forget that the Iranian people did not freely elect this man and, as such, he does not represent the will of the people.

And more pressingly, let us hope that those Iranis who are pushing for a democracy will hear the international outcry and realize that the time is ripe for revolution. The best solution for Iran is to allow its people to determine their own fate, and unlike Iraq, that cannot be done with foreign occupation.

Congratulations, Iraq

May purple fingers around the world salute you, and rejoice.

If freedom isn't worth fighting for, then tell me, what is?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Doyle Calls Property Tax Increase a "Victory"

Governor Jim Doyle today announced that the tax increase expected for homeowners is a victory.

Apparently, Gov. Doyle was in fantasy land when he announced a property tax freeze.

Well, I've take it upon myself to consult the fantasy land fairy and this is what she had to say to Gov. Doyle:

Reactions to the death of a killer

Tookie is dead. Arnie stood his ground. People are upset. At least one person is satisfied.

Europeans are obviously ticked about it because they're morally superior and believe everyone is able to redeem his or herself (nevermind that being in prison for two decades makes it difficult to commit more crime) and not have to pay the ultimate punishment for committing a crime. Some in Austria want to change the name of a stadium currently named after Schwarzenegger to the "Stanley Tookie Williams Stadium."

Jesse Jackson and Joan Baez (c'mon Joan...can't we all just admit the 60s are over?) joined protesters outside singing songs and calling for an end to the death penalty.

A Los Angeles shock-jock had his microphone broken when he asked Jesse Jackson to name Tookie's murder victims.

Lora Owens, mother of one of Tookie's victims, felt justice was done.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Riot Countdown

CNN is reporting that The Terminator has denied clemency to Stan "Tookie" Williams. Jessica McBride predicted (very very early this morning) that Arnie would cave due to his weak political standing. I'm glad she was wrong on this, and I hope I'm just as wrong when I say we can probably start a countdown to the California riots sure to follow the execution.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Islamic Republic News Agency Mishap

I know I've been posting a lot about Iran lately, but I just can't help myself. Ahmadinejad really makes this blogging thing easy. Well, he and the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) do, anyway.

Ahmadinejad has been getting tons of press due to his comments about Israel. And he should. As I've said before, the guy is a nut job. With Iran already in a delicate nuclear negotiations situation, pissing off Europe doesn't seem like such a good idea.

How would you like to be the head of his Public Relations team? Talk about job-related stress. I feel for them; I really do. The most recent claim made by Hamid Reza Asefi alleges that the president's comments about Israel were severely distorted. Take a look:

TEHRAN, Dec. 11--Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Sunday he was surprised by the international reactions to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks at summit of Muslim states in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
“President Ahmadinejad has said if Europeans feel they mistreated the Jews and want to make up for it, they should compensate them at their own expense. This is nothing new, but the Europeans are trying to distort the real meaning of his message,“ he said.
Stressing that people hold divergent views across the world, Asefi said, “I am surprised why Europeans cannot tolerate different outlooks. They should accept these messages and Israel
does not have the right to play victim and take resort to warmongering under such a pretext.“

-Iran Daily News, December 11, 2005

Interesting take on the situation. If only everyone spoke Farsi, then we'd know what he really said. Because, you know, you never really can trust a western translation. Hey, I've got an idea! We could look to the Islamic Republic News Agency to translate for us. Given that it's the official news agency of the republic, I doubt they would "distort" the president's words. I mean, that wouldn't make sense, right? Shall we have a look-see?

, Dec. 9--Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triggered new international outcry on Thursday by saying the “tumor“ of the state of Israel should be relocated to Europe. His remarks were greeted with outrage from Germany, Austria, Israel and the United States, AFP reported.
In Ahmadinejad’s interview, he referred to the Holocaust as a matter of belief, and raised the issue of revisionist historians--who attempt to establish that figures on the number of Jews killed by the Nazis are wildly exaggerated--being prosecuted in Europe.

-Iran Daily News, December 9, 2005

...Maybe somebody should tell them to take down their archives.

Ahmadinejad Calls Victims of Plane Crash "Martyrs." Know Why?

Go ahead. Ask me now: Why, on earth, would Ahmadinejad refer to the seemingly innocent victims of the recent plane crash in Tehran as "martyrs?" It appears to me that, overall, western media is perplexed by his choice of words and has figured it to be part of his "outspoken" and quirky nature. I disagree with this analysis.

I will posit my theory now: After the 1979 revolution, the
United States imposed sanctions on Iran. Part of these sanctions deal with the sale of aviation parts. Not only are U.S. businesses forbidden to have any kind of dealings with Iran, but furthermore, no foreign country is allowed to export to Iran any American-made aviation equipment or parts (or parts of which 10% were made in the US of A) without consequences from the US.

As such, the aviation industry in
Iran struggles severely to maintain equipment that was purchased in the Mohammad Reza Shah era of American cooperation, because obviously a large portion of that equipment requires American-made parts. Say, for example, a certain C-130 transport plane owned and operated by the Iranian military that recently crashed into a building in Tehran.

Now, let's play the role of devil's advocate. If my military were responsible for sending a plane into the air that was knowingly in need of repair, but my government was unable to repair the plane because it lacked the parts needed to do so, how will I answer to the families of those who die, when that plane crashes?

I know! First, I'll see to the impeachment of my Defense Minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, and then I'll call the victims, "martyrs!" Yeah, that's the ticket! I'll
use the sanctions that were imposed by the US to defend our decision to send a damaged plane into the air! It makes perfect sense!

You know, in all honesty, I'd call them martyrs too, if I had Former President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami backing my play. To be sure, he recently went so far as to specifically call the
US airplane parts sanctions criminal. Or, as one Iranian editorial writer so eloquently put it, "What the former chief executive said shows that the US, which claims to be the most democratic country, is prepared to sacrifice other countries that do not have the same ideological background as that of Bush administration."

Okay. So that's why they're martyrs. Now I get it.

"Peace Mom"

British playwright and Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo premiered his play "Peace Mom" in London
Saturday night. The one woman show is based on excerpts from peace-moonbat Cindy Sheehan's letters to George Bush.

Sounds like "The Producers" came to life.

The Desperation Theorem

Dennis York talks about a friend who's disappointed that Mariah Carey's career is once again gaining ground. Apparently he's upset because the more her career tanked the likelier it was she would appear in Playboy.

I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one anxiously awaiting the failure of any number of female celebrities' careers for this very reason. So strongly held is this belief that a celebrity's success is inversely proportionate to her appearing naked, I'm willing to bet a formula could be written to predict when in will happen.

((T*E) + (A*I))D=N


T = Talent (or lack thereof)
E = Self-esteem (or lack thereof)
A = Attractiveness.
I = Intelligence (or lack thereof)
D = Debt
N = Nudity

I have a call into MIT and NASA to help me refine this.

Fact Checking the Shepherd

Okay okay...this isn't hard-hitting news and is far from being a prime example of Shepherd Express faults, but what I just read stood out like such a sore thumb I couldn't help but comment.

The Shepherd's 10-27 cover story, Haunted Milwaukee, seemed like it would be an interesting read. The first "ghost story" claims that the Eagles Ballroom/Rave is haunted by, perhaps, Buddy Holly's ghost. Why Buddy Holly? Well, according to the story...
Buddy Holly played his last gig on Jan. 23, 1959, at what is now the
Rave/Eagles Club (2401 W. Wisconsin Ave., 342-7283) before flying to Clear Lake,
Iowa, for a scheduled show. Holly died when his plane crashed en route.

Aside from the supernatural theme to the story, it's pretty interesting that Buddy Holly, along with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, played their last shows right here in Milwaukee. There's only one problem: They didn't.

As soon as I read that line I questioned the veracity of the statement. I'd always heard their last show was in Iowa. Sure enough, a quick Google search brings up this timeline from, indicating that not only did Holly and gang die after a show in Clear Lake, IA, but it was in February, not January. You know that just from the song American Pie!

Cripes about a little research!

Note: The Shepherd corrected this error at the end of their Letters section in the following week's issue. Nevertheless, such an easily verifiable piece of information (and something key to the entire story) should have been checked before the story went to print.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Pryor Convictions

Richard Pryor died today. To this I hold up a drink and salute him. The laughter he brought me as both a child and adult will always be appreciated and never be forgotten.
If you ain't funny then get the fuck off the stage, it's that simple.
-Richard Pryor
(courtesy IMDB)

Words to live by.

Fearing the Protector

The village of Brown Deer is currently considering a demerit system for taverns in an effort to make it easier to suspend licenses or shut them down entirely. This results from one tavern in particular, M&G's Bar & Grill, being the subject of various complaints "ranging from underage drinking to fights." Proponents of the plan believe the existing process requires too much time and expense and the new plan would both clarify and expedite handling problem taverns.

On some level I agree with this proposal. All too often it seems local municipalities have far too great a power over businesses and residents alike, frequently supported by a very subjective decision making process. A standardized scoring system, or as in this case, demerit system, could potentially bring a level of "fairness" that overcomes the whims of local politicians. And when a bar has the tendency to attract an unsavory crowd, its neighbors should have the ability to demand that it shape up or ship out.

However, bars are no more omnipotent than any other business. Granted, they serve alcohol, and everyone knows alcohol reduces inhibitions and potentially leads to irresponsible behavior. A bar has the ability to deny service to anyone. At the same time, though, the bar cannot anticipate how every single customer will react to the alcohol he or she consumes. Nor are the employees of a bar able to determine with 100% accuracy just how intoxicated a patron may be. Certainly, if the bar serves an individual twelve drinks, they can assume the person is intoxicated. But a good deal of people are able to be legally intoxicated yet show little to no sign of being so. If a person were to consume several drinks before arriving at the bar but demonstrate no signs of being drunk, how is the bar to know that one more drink may cross that line of overserving the customer.

This is just the case opponents to the new plan make. One bar owner, with over 30 years experience, says he may not know if he's serving a drink to someone already intoxicated. This is a 75 point demerit in a system where 175 points could result in license suspension. A 150 point demerit is issued if actions at a bar result in bodily harm to anyone on the property. As even the Village President states, "One good fight at a bar could add up points quickly."

What ultimately makes this a bad idea is that the owner of Brown Deer Lanes (I learned to bowl there) claims she will be reluctant to contact police if there is a problem for fear of getting demerit points. Anytime something enacted by government makes law-biding citizens fearful of contacting law enforcement, those responsible for making such decisions must seriously consider the ramifications of the course they take.

The article linked above was from December 8th, and indicates that bar owners planned on turning out "en masse" to make their objections heard that night. If anyone knows of the outcome of the village meeting, please leave comments with additional information.

Simply an observation...

12-5-05: Eugene Kane takes businesses to task for profits earned from slavery nearly 150 years ago.

12-3-05: Eugene Kane advocates clemency for Stan "Tookie" Williams, founder of the Crips and currently on death row for four murders committed 26 years ago.

Deja vu all over again

Disgruntled Car Salesman over Car Salesman tackles a pet-peeve I certainly share with him: drivers who seem to forget how to drive in the snow EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

I'll concede that when the snow first flies I'm probably overly cautious, but that's mainly because I have so little faith in any of the other people on the road. Over the last few days I've been repeatedly cut off by drivers who apparently forget that braking distance increases when roads are icy. Then I've usually got someone with a similar lack of intelligence tailgating me at the same time. Talk about taking it from both ends!

Just as annoying to me is all the non-moving idiocy taking place when it snows. Who, exactly, thinks it's a good idea to double-park on a busy street during the morning commute when snow piles already reduce road-width by a good ten feet?


I had the pleasure last night of meeting George Ott, regular editorial contributor to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. His most recent article, Freedom of religion, not from, explores the misinterpretation of the First Amendment particularly exemplified at this time of year. In it he states...

How ironic that over the past few decades there has been a move by a minority of
Americans to remove any reference to religion from public view and discourse.
Not all religion, just Christianity.

The critical line in this paragraph is "minority of Americans." It must be a minority because I've yet to meet any of them! I'm a fairly social person. I know a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life. Add to that the fact that I live in a particularly liberal part of town, willingly discuss any range topics with anyone I meet and approach such subjects with a relatively open mind, and it would seem likely that at some point I would come across someone so blatantly offended by Christianity and outspoken on the topic. But that's yet to happen! So, who are these people?

Do these people really exist? And if they do, are their numbers so great--albeit a minority--that they're able to adversely distort generations-old traditions for a majority of Americans? I'm honestly beginning to believe that calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree, removing Christmas songs from school programs and keeping the Christ out of Christmas is all the result of people simply covering their asses for fear of offending a group that exists only as a concept. This notion that some powerful special interest minority exists, that politicians, school administrators and businesses alike must pacify at every turn, seems less and less likely the more someone examines the people they interact with on a daily basis.

Now, I won't deny there are certain people out there willing to cry "foul" at the slightest thing they may find offensive. But for us, as a society, to act upon every single one these incidents is simply foolish. It's no different than the person who won't shop at the mall because her cousin's co-worker's sister's boyfriend's dog-walker's aunt once heard of someone being injected with an unknown substance at Wal-Mart. It's an irrational fear to be treated, not nurtured.

Or are we all just that phobic?

Bad Karma

News reports indicate that Joshua Woods, the six-year-old killed when a plane skidded off the runway at Chicago's Midway airport and crushed his family's car, was singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" just before the accident.

That's probably why so many schools are fearful of including Christmas-related songs during this year's holiday concerts. At least that makes more sense than removing Christmas themes from a time of year that wouldn't exist in this country were it not for Christmas in the first place.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Real Iran: A Country Behind Bars

So Iran is back in the news. Boy, that Ahmadinejad is a nut job. I'd like to shed some light on the facts about the situation in Iran because people are speculating about what the US will do to combat this problem and when or if our troops will be sent. The reality is, I think talk like that is jumping the gun. Iran's biggest threat doesn't need to come from us because it's already coming from within.

Iran is a country ripe for revolution. In fact, I have a standing bet with a certain lawyer that a revolution will take place there within the next five years. I really do. I bet on everything, it's terrible; I know. But, I tend to bet on the things about which I have the most knowledge, and Iran just so happens to be one of my favorites.

To be sure, when you begin adding the ingredients of the current political and economic situation in Iran, it starts to look a lot like the time of the ousting of Mohammad Reza Shah. Here's a brief nugget, for those of you who aren't up to date on your Iranian Revolutionary History: According to, "The Persian Puzzle," by Kenneth M. Pollack, "The literacy rate rose from 14.6 percent of the population in 1956 to 29.4 percent in 1966 and then to 47.5 percent in 1976....One of the worst legacies of the White Revolution was that it sparked new expectations of a better life in the minds of many Iranians, especially among the lower classes, but then failed to deliver."

Similarly, in Iran there are currently more women in college universities than men. The statistic growth of this sector is mind-boggling. Again, we have a formerly uneducated portion of the country making a drastic improvement. Deja-vu anyone? With education comes expectation, and again the Irani government isn't delivering. Both the social expectations of women and the lack of employment opportunities on the whole have already begun to stir the pot of political unrest.

The unemployment rate in Iran has been astronomical. Iran's unemployment rate reached 16.3% in 2003, when inflation hit 18%. Currently, "Iran’s official unemployment rate is about 13 percent though economists estimate the real figure is way higher than what the government claims, says a report in the Persian daily Barnameh."

Take a good look at Iran's population breakdown. It has been documented that Sixty-eight percent of the country is between the ages of 15 and 64 years old. Another source states that Iran's under-30 crowd makes up 70 percent of the population. Do you know what happens to countries that cannot provide jobs to its people when the majority of its constituents are of the employable age?

You can ask me now because I have an answer for you: The Iran Daily reports: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its latest report on drug abuse stated that Iran--the world’s largest combater of narcotics--ranks first in terms of drug abuse.

Unfortunately, the oil rich country doesn't spend its money creating more jobs or even making social contributions to its poorest (yet most oil-wealthy) regions. For example, many of the citizens in Khuzestan: are drug addicts now. Depression is also rife in these areas. We believe that these phenomena are more dangerous than natural disasters because they target the family structure and have adverse social consequences.

When its government doesn't listen, and people are jobless and depressed, regime change in that country has a history of coming from the inside. I could go on for days about this subject, but I think you may be getting the point.

Iran has a growing group of angry, young people to deal with. And as we know, it's angry young people that have created more problems in Iran than any Arab or Western government (see: 1953, 1979) could dream of doing. I know some of you are still pointing your finger at British and US involvement, respectively, but the reality is without the citizens of Iran rioting in the streets, no CIA-led team could have hoped to accomplish as much.

I don't want to overwhelm you with too many statistical facts for now. I'm sure I'll return to this subject, as I expect Ahmadinejad will continue to give us all some more gems on which to feast. For now, suffice it to say that I am banking on the race between nuclear capabilities and revolution to be won by the latter.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Merry 'Effin Christmas to You, Too!

As religions go, I can say that I'm not a big fan in general. In this day and age it's difficult to see how religions do much more than start wars, divide people and create political fodder for the masses (some of which I am about to dispense).

In spite of all this, I still identify myself as a recovering Catholic (it's a daily process). And while more and more I fight the growing urge to say "Screw it," and jump on the Festivus bandwagon, I still have the same inclination to celebrate Christmas.

In that way, I guess I'm not unlike most Christians I know: While we have strayed from the daily teachings of our respective childhood denominations, we cling to that which matters most: Our traditions. And, boy, is Christmas the crown jewel of them all.

I guess that's why I find it so ironic that someone like myself, who is more interested in the holiday than the religion behind it, is actually angry at the liberal left who are trying to take our holiday away.

What I want to know is: Since when did the word "Christmas" become vulgar? When did expressing MY holiday mean that I must be excluding YOUR holiday? And locally, I know it's old news, but it hasn't stopped pissing me off: What's this BS about calling the State Christmas Tree a "Holiday Tree?" Oh, because someone somewhere said that calling it a "Holiday Tree" is less offensive to people. That's crap. I didn't know that calling it a Christmas Tree was offensive.

The most ironic aspect to all of this is that I thought liberals were supposed to be about acceptance of differences and the appreciation of other cultures and religions, yadda, yadda. If this is the case, then why is MY holiday being attacked? Why is it, I ask, that I'm supposed to apologize for saying, "Merry Christmas," instead of "Happy Holidays." Last I checked, most people who celebrate Christmas are doing just that, celebrating Christmas. Nowhere in any Christmas celebration manual I've read does that celebration include persecuting the beliefs of others. Yet, when I express my holiday it's being made out to be the equivalent of saying, "Heil, Hitler!" Unbelievable.

I think it's all a bunch of crap. Jessica McBride does, too, except she does so a bit more eloquently. Check out her post of a letter to Doyle from 46 legislators urging our dear Governor to change back the name of the "Holiday Tree." You go, sistah.

And while we're at it, I'd just like to state for the record:

Nobody messes with da Jesus!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Virgin Blogger

Welcome to Ask Me Later. If you want to know why Casper and I decided to name this blog as such, you'll just have to ask me later because I really don't feel like explaining right now, okay? Geeze. You just got here. Simmer down.

Personally, I decided to partake in this blog because as I get older, I find myself more and more interested in trying new things. You know, sushi, skydiving, menage a tois. But let's be honest here, the whole anonymity side of it certianly helps. And what's more, who doesn't love a soapbox? Then, of course, there's Casper. He's always getting me to come out of my shell. Like that time with the cameras and the "photo shoot." That Casper! What a hoot.

I am hoping to use this space to sound off, praise, appreciate and maybe even shed some light on issues that I find interesting for one reason or another. I hope you will, too.

I am a bit nervous, I'll admit it. You know, um, I've never done this before. So, please, be gentle.

And thanks for reading my first ever blog post. I hope it was good for you, too.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

On Blogging...

The first time I blogged I didn't actually know I was blogging. In fact, it was 1984, blogging meant something entirely different and my father had yet to have that conversation with me about what was entirely natural and not something to be ashamed of. Fast forward nearly twenty years and imagine my surprise to learn that not only is blogging something done by millions of people all over the world, but has become highly influential in the arenas of politics, pop-culture and commercial industry alike. Thank God its meaning has changed since I was a child. I've since learned not to make up words while hoping everyone else knows what I mean.

This marks my fourth attempt at creating and maintaining a blog. One might think that after three failed attempts I would just give up. But for some reason I feel I just must have one. For me, that's quite unusual. Typically I shun any of society's demands for what one must have. Sure, I believe I have to have a good hammer. A good hammer can solve a lot of problems. But I tend to ignore friends' advice that I pursue other goals, such as having a good therapist or a competent attorney. Oddly enough, the hammer, therapist and attorney all go hand in hand, but that's a topic for another post.

So here it is...attempt number four. I've named this "Ask Me Later" at the suggestion of a friend who I hope will be a major contributor to this blog. Hopefully she'll also regale us all with how the name came about. Until then, keep in mind that you're all stupid, I'm not and what I say goes, at least here.

And I have a hammer.