The Patrick Hayden Political Manifesto-Revised & Updated
Right. Last week, in a fit of anger, resentment, and frustration I threw up my hands and declared that I believed in nothing. That I was a nihlist, almost, and that I didn't give a damn about anything anymore. It was the result of the last four months of political discourse in this country, especially here in Washington DC. I was, and still am, sick and tired of the way people of differing viewpoints treated each other, and, in a true shakeup, I was on the verge of renouncing my affiliation with the Republican Party due to the flap over Sen. Rick Santorum's comments regarding sodomy laws. I needed time to think, so I stopped all my political discourse and retreated back into my mind, to work out my problems. This is what I came up with:
First, and most importantly, I decided to change my career path. Politics will no longer be my vocation. I can no longer work in the climate of distrust, contempt, and backhandedness that characterizes American political operations. Not that I experience it right now at the Postal Rate Commission, but I could see a day, not far down the road, in which I would be forced to make a choice between advancing my career and keeping my soul, and I would much rather keep my soul. So what have I decided to do instead? Well, I'm switching my original vocation, politics, for my hobby, history, specifically US History. I intend to enroll in a PhD program in the fall of 2004, and I intend to do so back in the midwest, away from DC. If I ever come back here, it will not be for work, unless it is research. I'm climbing out of the political arena and into the academic one. I intend to become a professor, and have arguments that are heated, yes, but don't end with one party calling me a warmonger and the other a nazi or a communist or a bigot or whatever you can think up. I'd rather have friendly arguments over which brigade REALLY led Pickett's charge or over the impact of isolationsim on 1930's American Foreign Policy. Also, I'll be helping educate the next generation of critical thinkers of this country, eventually, and I think that is good for the soul, it feeds it, and the thought of it delights me. I will still follow politics, of course, and I will still have my opinions and my disagreements with others, but they will no longer define who and what I am. I'm not leaving the arena, I'm just headed to the practice courts. But I am finished with the fight here, my case of Potomac fever is gone, and I say, good riddence.
I hope that this does not cause my friends who are working in politics here, on either side of the aisle, to think that I believe them to be soulless or working in a field that I consider morally bankrupt. I simply don't have the stomach for the fight any more. I don't see a point to it as I'm not a true believer and I don't intend to live or die by what happens in Congress or the White House on a day to day basis. I like the idea of returning to the Academy, shaking things up there in a way that causes thought and reflection. I have no illusions that the academic world is any less cutthroat than the political one, or even that different in it's operation, but I feel that when I finally look back over my life, if I can honestly say I made a difference in some student's life, or opened someones mind, or just put my skills to use in a positive way without being asked to compromise, I can say I lived a good life and was true to myself.
So that's pretty big news, right? Damn straight it is. How did I get there? Two things: the realization that, for all it's beauty, Washington is an artificial city. Everything about it is less than it appears. It has no background, it's simply a spot George Washington and Pierre L'enfant pointed to on a map and said "here". There is no tradition in this city, other than politics. No great story about how it was settled and built up over the years, until something took root to draw people here. Hell, up until the late 19th century, most politicians didn't even live here year round, and had other jobs. No one liked staying here. There is much I love about this place, the grand architecture of the Capitol, the memorials, the White House; the magnificant museums and their priceless collections; the National Cemetary in Arlington. All of this is truly wonderful, and I will miss it. But it's not enough to keep me here. For me, Washington is cold at it's heart. A cynical town that even I, a consument cynic, can no longer take. So that was one realization that brought this on.
The second is something I wrote about last week. The lack of polite discourse in politics in Washington. This is what soured me on politics and led me to the realization that I would someday lose my soul if I stayed here. It was the story about the woman who said "I normally don't talk to Republicans", a phrase I have heard many times throughout my tenure here, used by Republicans to Democrats as well. I tell my out of town friends this and it shocks them. Nowhere but Washington(and probably Hollywoood)do people define your character by what political affiliation you claim. I had one response to that post I made, by a good friend of mine who happens to be a liberal but who never judged me on anything but the content of my character. He wrote that he read my posts not because he agreed with me (he rarely does) but because he wanted more than the usual shouting one hears from both sides in a political debate. Justin, I salute you.
Anyway, it was that statement that sealed the deal for me when I spent my time thinking about politics. I no wanted to be in a business that defines you as a person by, say, whether you believe in a tax cut or not. It's not worth the grief and eventual self-loathing.
So am I leaving the GOP? No. I am not. I remain a registered Republican and if it ever changes it will be to independent, but I don't see that happening soon. Why stick with them? Because one joker like Santorum isn't going to ruin my core beliefs, which still run closer the the GOP. But I pledge this on my sacred honor: I will never judge a person based on party, political belief, or lack thereof. I judge only on the content of their characters and their conduct as human beings. If I'm having a conversation with someone and they say "I normally don't talk to Republicans" or
something along those lines, I will finally ask them "why?" instead of just saying "well, glad you made an exception", and laugh. I will do my best to convince that person that they are wrong to judge based on that criteria alone. That a person cannot be judged just on what party they belong to, or what you percieve them to believe. Unless, say, they're a Nazi or a Stalinist. Then you can judge. But I mean REAL Nazi's, not just someone who disagrees with you about, say, military intervention in Iraq. That person is usually not a Nazi, nor is it fair to call him one, and if you persist in using epiteths like that, I will judge you to be close-minded, and just as bad as those you purport to be against. And I don't think I'd be wrong in that analysis. After all, Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary" defines "bigot" as one who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain. Seems appropriate in these charged times.
So there you have it. Some may some I'm running away, and some may think I'm being a snob, but nobility can still be found in politics, and I know many who are still noble on both sides. I know I'm not noble. I just got tired and decided to do a 180. It is said that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach. Well, let the critics come. I can take it. And I'll still be publishing my political and cultural opinions on this page. Hell, it's a year and a half until I even enter school again. But I've changed, I feel better, and nothing is going to change me mind. So who wants a beer? I do. Let us sit upon the morrow and talk of dead kings. Peace.
:: C.M. Burns 4/30/2003 03:21:00 PM [+] ::
Stars, Dissent, and the First Amendment
OK folks, ramping up to my larger polical manifesto that I will post later today, I wanted to kick off my return to politics with an issue that has been bothering me all week. It involves, of course, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, The Dixie Chicks, and various other celebs, and how they have been reacting to criticism of their own anti-war(or anti-Bush) remarks. I want it to be known that I think these people are morons. But not because they are anti-war or anti-Bush. I know plenty of people who fit that description that are certainly not morons. No, they are morons because they don't seem to think that words have consequences, and that not only does the First Amendment grants them government protection to say what they want, it should also protect them from people saying negative things about them, or boycootting them, or telling them that they are persona non grata at certain functions. Let me start with my favoriet pair of dissenters, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon.
As artists, I like Robbins and Sarandon. Robbins proved he can direct with Dead Man Walking and Bob Roberts, which is a very clever satire of Conservatives. Also he is a pretty good, not great actor, with fine performances in Bull Durham and of course The Shawshank Redemption(My favorite of his is actually the Cohen Bros. Hudsucker Proxy). Sarandon is alright, too, and has definite comic & dramatic gifts. HOWEVER, I think they both need an education in the meaning of the First Amendment, especially Robbins, who appears to believe that when, say, anyone says something negative about his politics, the Founders roll in their graves. At the National Press Club last week, Robbins said that "a chill wind is blowing", and that American's were "hoping for (journalists) to defend the spirit and letter of our Constitution, and to defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism." Let stop right there. I read the New York Times. Every day, there is a column in the Times about how Bush is evil(Krugman) or stupid and being led around ny neocon hawks(Dowd). Their coverage of the war was extremely critical of the president on the editorial page, as well as in the regular coverage(where it should be, I don't know, unbiased) And they've been beating on the President's judicial nominees as well. Beating HARD. They aren't alone in that either. The Washington Post has come out against several judicial nominees. Salon.com publishes anti-war, anti-Bush articles every day(yeah, it's going under, but that's due to bad management). So there's no softening of dissent in this country. I read the papers every day, and I saw negative things about the administration all the time. I read the letters in those pages, too, and Americans are not silent when they disagree. In the absence of any real evidence of the Press being squashed (OK, Ari Fleisher did say that one thing about Bill Maher in 2001, but he was roundly critisiced for it), it is obvious that Robbins is talking about his own recent experience.
I am, of course, referring to many negative articles about Robbins in Conservative opinion magazines and the disinvitation he recieved from the Baseball Hall of Fame for it's now-canceled celebration of 15 years of Bull Durham(Still the most overrated Sports film of all time, but that's not the point). Was the Baseball Hall of Fame acting a bit too quickly in stopping it, expressly because of Robbins & Sarandon's views? Yes, I think so. At a celebration of a movie about baseball, it was unlikely that they were going to start yelling about the war. Sarandon restrained herself at the Oscars, and the Hall would have had a more conservative crowd. So I think they acted stupidly. However, do I think their actions were a restriction of Free Speech? Absolutley not. The Baseball Hall of Fame is not a government organization. It has the right to invite and disinvite people to speak there because of their views, and that right is part of Free Speech. If the government were to FORCE the Hall to let the stars speak, they would be infringing on the rights of the Hall as a private organization. Everyone has the right to speak their mind. No one has the right to be above critique. However, stars don't seem to grasp this concept. And there is a simple reason for this. As stars, they are told daily how wonderful they are. They can have production assistants and even directors and producers fired on a whim. No one in Hollywood dares speak a negative thing about them in public. They can't, as their careers would be OVER. As much as I deplore the tabloids I see in the supermarket, they actually perform a valuable service. They remind us just how free free speech is. What's funny about stars such as Robbins is that they go ballistic when someone says something negative about them. Robbins contradicted himself recentley when dealing with a celeb reporter from the Washington Post(I forget who). Anyway, the reporter had talked to Susan Sarandon's mother, who apparently does not agree with her daughter on political issues. She accused Robbins and Sarandon of "brainwashing" their child, her grandchild, and that she was ashamed of Sarandon for it. Robbins went ape. He got phyisical with the reporter who wrote the story, threatening to hurt him if he ever reported on Sarandon or their child again. Now, let me ask Mr. Robbins, was that intimidation of free speech? Sounds like a quite literal case to me. Whether the reporter should have talked about the kid is immaterial. He had a right to do so. And Robbins had no right to virtually assault the man for it. Tim Robbins & Susan Sarandon do not understand the fact that the Bill of Rights protects them only from government censorship. If someone wants to boycott their films or protest their appearance based on what they said, the Bill of Rights protects that too. I've heard critiques of admonistration policy on the press to know that Free Speech is not being denied to stars or any other dissenters. Sure, the Democrats do seem afraid to say anything negative about the administration and the war(save a few), but that is because the party is gutless, and doesn't seem to know how to frame a critique in a way that won't provoke some kind of backlash, which comes from the public, not the government. In short, they're too worried about their jobs. Maybe Robbins should say something about THAT.
Regarding this whole Dixie Chicks thing; the anti-Bush thing, the semi-apology, the backlash, the declining record sales, the naked cover on EW, I have just this to say: How is sucking up to the crowd "brave" & "patriotic". Natalie Manes was in the UK at the time she made her infamous comments. The UK was stridently anti-war and anti-Bush at the time (funny how that turned around). Anyway, she was simply playing to the crowd when she said what she said. She wanted more applause, more adulation. Certainly, she was thinking about the audience in that arena and that arena only, as she had said nothing even resembling a political remark beforehand. However, the Chicks seem to forget that they play country music, a genre widely known for it's Conservative audience. How it played in London was certainly different than how it played in Nashville. Of course your audience is going to respond when you say something they disagree with, especially on an issue like the President being from Texas, and who it made you ashamed. Sadly for the Chicks, most Texans seemed proud of the President, as did other southerners, and the boycotts and burning of albums began. Was this taking it a bit far? Well, of course it was. They got called nasty names and such, and they didn't deserve it. But they also got labeled Patriots by the Left, and this is wrong, too. There was nothing remarkable about a musical group saying anti-Bush things in the UK at that time. It was par for the course. And while there is something to admire in their unwillingness to backdown(freedom should mean never being made to say you're sorry), it's not brave or patriotic. Hell, what they did hardly qualifies as dissent. It may end their careers, too, which is a shame, but not the President's fault, or the governments, nor would their losing their career have anything to do with abuse of the Bill of Rights. It would simply be the reaction of American's to comments they found offensive. Boycotts are stupid, but again, they're protected. So lets stop calling stars hero's for speaking out and being critisized. I'm not a hero because I think Ashcroft is a moron and I say it on a public blog that anyone can read(and disagree with, as I've left a comments section) nor would I be a hero if I said I was ashamed of the President (which I am a bit for his decision not to dress down Santorum even a little). I'm simply giving my opinion. That is not patriotism or heroism in a country that protects my rights to say it. If Robbins, Sarandon, and Natalie Maines had been in Iraq during Saddam's rule, and been ordinary people speaking out, and then were quite literally silenced by having their tounges cut out, and they said what they said knowing full well what would happen, well, that's heoric. But this is just...stupid. And I've written way more than I wanted too, so that's it.
:: C.M. Burns 4/30/2003 11:43:00 AM [+] ::
Does This Surprise Anyone? I Mean, Is It Even News?
According to this article, Jack Osbourne, the 17 year old son of that lovable dingbat Ozzy and his tactically brilliant but parentally incompetent wife Sharon has been checked into rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. Is anyone surprised? If you are, email me, and I'll come to your house and hit you with a tack hammer because you're a moron. Seriously, I don't mean to make light of a sad situation...wait, yes I do. I called for the public arrest for the Smarts for God's sake. OK then, usually I say the kid is to blame, because at a certain age you just say, we, as parents, did all we could. I make exceptions to that rule when it comes to age, however. Look at Drew Barrymore. Using coke at age ten. If that's not every adult around her's fault, I don't know, becuase how do you know where to get coke at age 10 anyway?
If Jack was say, 20, and had this was the result of two or three years of abuse that started at 17, I'd lay this at his feat. By that time, you're old enough to decide for yourself. But he's just 17 NOW, and he's been drinking heavily since at least 15, when the show "The Osbornes" was first taped. Now, I don't want to blame Ozzy too much. He's too far gone to do anything except what Sharon tells him. Not convinced? Watch the show. Ozzy blew his mind away long before Jack even came near booze. No, this is Sharon's responsibilty. She put her two highly immature and easily influenced children in the spotlight and encouraged them, so it seems, to go hog wild. I mean, they gave Kelly a recording contract even though she has no more talent then one of the "America Idol" rejects. It's humiliating. But Sharon pulls the strings. Just read the article above. Now, I'm glad Jack asked for help, really, I am. The treatment centers in this country are wonderful, and hopefully he'll keep off the sauce. That shows maturity budding in Jack. Good. However, since, just from watching the show (I admit, funny. But sometimes funny sad) it's obvious Jack was on this path for a while. Before he was old enough to really make decisions about the stuff. And at that point, we should just point the fingers at the parents and say "look what you did to your kid". I'm saying we arrest them, I just want an accounting. No one wants to take the blame anymore. To blame is to be un-PC. Fuck that. Bring back Harry Truman. He said "The Buck Stops Here". If his kid was in rehab at 17, he would have turned to the world and said, "I made mistakes, it's my fault, I deserve the blame." Then he would have committed himself to doing a better job. Of course, Truman's character never would allow him to let his son get to that point, but still. What I'm saying is, for Jack's sake, and to save the world from more Kelly singing, lets cancel the damn show and allow these people to get their lives back in order in private. Of course, Sharon won't, so lets all blame her when Jack relapses or Kelly releases an album, OK? Blame, it's what's for dinner.
:: C.M. Burns 4/30/2003 09:25:00 AM [+] ::
Elizabeth Smart's Parents Go To DC
The President plans to sign a National Amber Alert bill today. Good. It's good that we're using a proven method that protects children from psychos and whatnot. However, what drained all the goodness out of the story "Bush to sign bill with Amber Alert provision", is the part in the first paragraph that says the batshit parents of Elizabeth Smart, the ones who I believe are chiefley responsible for her kidnapping(see archives for rants on why letting street preachers paint your house is a bad idea), will be at the ceremony. At the White House. And Dubya will probably shake stupid Mr. Smart's hand, and hug Mrs. Smart, and those two will always remember the day that they got to go to Washington. This is bullshit. These people were too moronic to protect their child on a basic level, and now, because their kid was found(in a way that had NOTHING to do with Amber Alert), they go to DC. It should be the parents of Amber Hagerman, the poor, murdered 9 year old for whom the law is based that should be there. Instead, we get the insane Smarts. Just peachy. Unless this is a clever plan to arrest the Smarts for child endangerment in front of a National audience and humiliate them. I can see it now. The President signs the bill, says this is a victory for children, etc etc etc, and then tells the Smarts that a new provision added to the bill allows the government to prosecute the parents of kidnapped children for neglect. Then he could have Ashcroft slap the cuffs on them and lead them away while they screamed in rage. Now THAT'S what I would call good legislation. It won't happen, but I can dream, can't I?
:: C.M. Burns 4/30/2003 08:55:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 ::
I just couldn't not link this
Yeah yeah yeah, my big manifesto is out tomorrow, but sometimes something happens that just pisses you off so much that you can't stay silent. In what has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the UN is irrelevent now and forever, they reelected Cuba to the main Human Rughts Committee:"U.S. Enraged as Cuba Returned to U.N. Rights Body". Can the UN do NOTHING right? This comes in the same year that Libya chairs the Human Rights Commission and Iraq and Iran were named to co-head the WMD-curtailment committee. Just sell the buildings and and build a park. More good would come of that.
:: C.M. Burns 4/29/2003 04:27:00 PM [+] ::
Long considered the godfathers of Punk Rock, the Ramones were, in fact, not Punk pioneers, but Rock n' Roll lovers who wanted to bring classic guitar sound to an oversaturated disco market. Proof of this lies in the lineup of artists who play on the Ramones tribute album: "We're a Happy Family". More Rock than Punk, here, with the Chili Peppers, U2, Metallica, KISS, Marilyn Manson & Rob Zombie leading off the 17 track album. True, the album blows, with only Metallica and U2 seeming to get the feroccity with which the Ramones played rock. The worst tracks are by Punk pretenders Green Day, Rancid, and The Offspring, who have tried to style themselves in a way after the Ramones, but don't seem to get that the band was really all about rock, and while their thrashing 1-2-3-chord, 2-minute songs gave birth to what we now call Punk, which died out in the 1980's, anyway. Today's "punk" is nothing more than MTV-sellout corporate garbage, the biggest offenders being, of course, Green Day and The Offspring. And at least The Offspring have tried to get past it and find their own sound, which still sucks, but is more original than the outright thievery Green Day practices.
But enough about those wannabe's. What's so special about The Ramones, what did they contribute to Rock, and why am I hyped about it on a random Monday? Well, I'll answer those questions in reverse order. I'm hyped about it because I still have my self-imposed political gag rule one till Wendsday, and I'm saving up something big until then. Plus, I good movie, Identity, was first at the Box Office, and that pleases me. So I'm on this because I think I saw too much MTV this weekend.
What did the Ramones contribute to Rock? I am of the opinion that they saved Rock in the late 70's. Their self-titled first album opens with four automatic classics, "Blitzkrieg Bop", "Beat on the Brat", "Judy is a Punk", and I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend". At this point in music history, what we now call "Classic" Rock was having a death rattle. Experimental pop like David Bowie was taking over, along with watered down stuff like Elton John. Disco was making it's move. What the Ramones did was rescue the hard, rebel roots of rock from the very artists who were unadventantly destroying those roots. With songs like "Rock n' Roll High School" and "Do You Remember Rock n' Roll Radio?", The Ramones were calling out for rock's resurgence, a rememberence when real rebellion was about listening to hard, suggestive beats you could dance to. Throughout their career, they had many imitators, and the punk music scene was born from their success, with The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Stooges picking up the punk banner. Still, the Ramones were all about rock's original intent: having fun. Hell, they made a movie in 1981 DEDICATED to their music, "Rock n' Roll High School" The plot was about a principal at a school that wanted to banish their music, and how the kids fought back. Rock at it's finest. It's what they loved, and it's a form of music they saved. That rock eventually died in the early 90's is irrelevent. They kept the beat alive so that acts like Metallica, U2 and Guns n' Roses could Rock us through the 80's.
So that's why they are special. They kept the spirit of Rock music alive. They set the stage so other legendary acts could perform. True, they were never giant, but they were big enough to save a genre of music and to make the world remember that Rick n' Roll was about having fun. I salute you Ramones, and Joey, Rest in Peace.
:: C.M. Burns 4/28/2003 03:06:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, April 25, 2003 ::
April - So Much History
The month of April has seen a lot of history. It was the month the Civil War ended, it was the month we defeated Nazi Germany and Hitler took the cowards way out in his bunker. Tons of historical things have happened in the month of April, good and bad. I've been reading April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik, and it's a fantastic read. Back then, speech was far more elegant than it is today. When people spoke, their phrases were lirical, and they could hold a crowd. This book has many such great phrases from April 1865, but the quote I have chosen to end the week on is actually from March 4. 1865, and it is from Lincoln's Second Inagural. After a war ends, it would do us well to remember this quote, as it brings up the best of what America could offer a defeated opponent. I end with it now:
"With malice towards none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle...To do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
With that, Lincoln turned to the Chief Justice, placed his hand on the Bible, and finished the oath with a flourish, shouting "So help me God!" and kissing the Bible. At that an artillary salvo went off, and, had I been there, I would have been in tears. Take care.
I was sick yesterday. Well, Wed & Thursday to be precise, and I'm not 100% by a long shot today, but I came in for a half day of work, anyhow. One of my loyal readers has asked me to come back to the arena. The political arena, I assume, and I want to assure that person that I am not abandoning my post a day after I quoted Teddy Roosevelt praising those who fight the good fight, win or lose. No, I'm just taking a much needed one week long brewak from politics. And next Wendsday, I may have an announcement, but political posting will resume. But not today. I think I'll post this one thing, and then something else a bit later. Anyway, it turns out that the new Matrix sequels will also be released in IMAX format, the first sequel a couple weeks after the general release of the film, and the second on the same day. This is just too cool. Anyone who saw Star Wars Episode II on an IMAX screen knows that the experience is incredible, and seeing these movies up there may be enough to give me a heart attack from all the joy. Anyway, have a good weekend, everybody. I'll have an appropriate quote up before I leave work. Peace
:: C.M. Burns 4/25/2003 01:51:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 23, 2003 ::
The Joy of Apathy
You know what, I've been thinking about politics a lot lately, and I came to a stunning revelation. I don't care anymore. I don't care who gets contracts in postwar Iraq. I don't care who the Democratic nominee for President is. I don't care about Bush's tax plan. I don't care that Santorum is a moron. I don't care if people think I suck because I might hold conservative views on some things. I don't have views anymore, as I don't care. I don't care about the environment. I don't care if the government takes guns away from lawful gun owners. I don't care if PETA succeeds in making the town of Hamburg, PA to Veggieburg(I swear they really want that to happen). I don't care if Estrada makes it through the Senate or not. I don't care if Scott Peterson is guilty. I don't care if we become an empire. I am totally apathetic. Or just pathetic. I may change my mind on all this in the next week. But I will not post a single political thought on this site untill next Wendsday, at which point I may make a drastic announcement about my political future. Until then my mind is taking a break from worrying about all that and I'm not going to read the paper or watch the news. I will simply watch the hundreds of episodes of Wings I've downloaded onto my computer. Fare well till then.
:: C.M. Burns 4/23/2003 04:17:00 PM [+] ::
The Problem of Christian Conservatisim
While my below posting on the banning of "Harry Potter" books snipes at Christian Conservatives a bit, another story that is making the rounds is the tale of Sen. Rick Santorun, Republican of Pennsylvania, and quite a conservative man in all aspects. Plus, he's an asshole. I say this because I met him once and I know, and because of what he said the other day. Allow me to quote him:
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything"
That's from the AP, for those who like fact-checking. What is Santorum saying here? Well, he's being quoted in response to questions arising from the Supreme Court hearings on anti-Sodomy laws, but when you look at what he says, he seems to have a problem not just with bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultury, but with ALL consensual sex, be it a drunken hook-up, a non-married couple having sex, or homosexual intercourse. Now, I don't like incest, polygamy, or bigamy either, and I don't think I speak in the minority when I say these things being illegal isn't such a bad thing, especially incest. That's just REALLY wrong. Next thing you know with incest you have people protesting "Harry Potter". But Santorum also seems to think that there is no right to consensual sex between two people who aren't related by blood if they aren't married. Yeah, I'm against adultury, but we can't make it illegal. And wanting too is just...damn creepy. Plus, he doesn't like the idea of gay sex, and seems to want that to be illegal, too. I understand the problem Christian Conservatives have with homosexuals. They think it's against God's law. And if, by some bizzare twist they are in fact right, then the evil sodomites will burn in hell, along with the adulturers. Fine. Believe that. But why make it illegal? And why now, when most Americans, while not entirely comfortable with homosexuality, don't think that there's anything illegal about it? Finally, the most disturbing, and enlightening, part is that the statement also says, rather directly, that Santorum is against ANY kind of heterosexual sex that takes place outside of marriage: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex..." He's equating regular sex, which could be just a hook-up or a strong display of actual love, with INCEST! With marrying more than one person! And, taken to it's logical(illogical) conclusion even bestiality, as he seems afraid that what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home will somehow collapse our society. He doesn't think you have the RIGHT to CONSENSUAL SEX! There are no words to express how ashamed I am right now that this man belongs to the GOP. It must be what it feels like to be a liberal and have Michael Moore as your most visable spokesman. Sheer horror. See, I could see Jesse Helems saying that, though not, by the way, Strom Thurmand, who liked the ladies and made no secret of it. But this guy is pretty young, and he's from the relatively moderate state of Pennsylvania, where the other Senator is perhaps the most liberal Republican in Congress, Arlen Specter. So strange, and wrong, and worrisome. What is just as bothersome is what he says about Governmental rights:
"The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire.
Well, Jesus H. Christ, it turns out Santorum isn't a real conservative after all. See, REAL conservatives believe in LIMITED government that doesn't have absolute rights over individuals. Yes, the government can say, "If your passion is killing people, well, we're gonna lock you up". The rule being, your passion interferes with the right to life and is a danger to society. But how does sex imperil society? Actions have consequences, yes, and sex has TONS of consequences, but most of those don't imperil society. So, remember that Christian Conservatives aren't REAL conservatives. In fact, as a conservative, I object to them being called "conservative", at least politically. Socially, sure. Politically, not so much. Actually, recent events have gotten me thinking about my stand as a Republican. Stay tuned to this space, what few of you there are, for a reassesment of my values. And FUCK Santorum. It may have been a bit since I've had actual intercourse, but damn him if he's going to take the glowing hope of possibility away from me.
:: C.M. Burns 4/23/2003 11:52:00 AM [+] ::
Fuck These People
Just when I thought that things couldn't be any stupider in the South, I came across this article today, about how an Arkansas (where else) school board had voted to take the "Harry Potter" series of books off the shelves, after a couple of redneck, moron, bible-banging, inbred parents complained about the books. The library, in a show of backbone, had voted unanimously to keep the books on the shelves, but the puritanical school board voted 3-2 to ban them. Finally, a federal judge stepped in, told the school board(I hope) to go Fuck themselves, and ordered the books back on the shelves. So there's a happy ending to this story.
You know what really pisses me off, though? It's that I usually like to defend people of faith against unwarrented making fun of or attacks from people that are lessed then moved by God, the spirit, what have you. But then idiots like this school board come along and start censoring books because they might be "evil", even though they are essentially about good fighting evil and have children reading more than they have been in years. Wouldn't a school board consider that a good thing? If the parents, in their inbred ignorance, don't want Bubba a Sally Mae to read the books, don't let them. It's parental decision, not the school boards place. I feel sorry for two groups, here, one, the child of these idiot parents, who won't get to read some really interesting books, and as a result will probably end up selling homemmade moonshine in the backwoods, and the two poor sould on the school board who voted to keep the books on the shelves. It doesn't matter that they voted to stop censorship. Just the fact that they were associated with this will follow them the rest of their days. And that's just sad. Like I said, Fuck These People.
:: C.M. Burns 4/23/2003 08:53:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 ::
My Favorite Quote
"It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
:: C.M. Burns 4/22/2003 03:09:00 PM [+] ::
File This Under "d" for "duh"
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I always thought that relationships between students and their professors were, oh, I don't know, whats the term? Oh yeah: Grossly Unethical. And according to this story, the University of California system has finally decided to think that maybe it's a bad idea, too. Now of course, Profs giving students A's for sex, or as I call it, Prostiution, it wrong on it's face, but hooray for the bold leaders in California that have finally come to a realization that I think most people arrived at decades ago. The funniest past about the article is that the faculty recommended it TWENTY FUCKING YEARS ago and, NOW it's getting serious consideration. Brilliant. Absolutley brilliant. And people think there is an ethics gap in this country. Take THAT, Enron!
:: C.M. Burns 4/22/2003 02:38:00 PM [+] ::
Not Because It Is Easy, But Because It Is Hard
I watched a gem of a film last night. The Australian film "The Dish" is the mostly true story of a large Satellite dish in Southern Australia that was responsible for relaying the televised photos of Neil Armstrong taking those first magical steps on the moon. Or in a soundstage in Nevada, depending on what the voices in your head are telling you. Anyway, it's a rich human comedy that celebrates what is best about the human spirit. The story of "The Dish" is like a micrcosim of the greater human drama that played out around the Apollo program. The people running the dish are just as amazed that the whole thing is going on and that they are a part of it as anyone at NASA, and the whole town rallies around them, not just because it will put them on the map, but because it puts them all into the story of Apollo 11, arguably man's greatest achievment. What struck me most of all, however, was the optimism for the future that the movie holds. No grand speaches are made by the characters, just small thoughts about what might happen, what could go wrong, what this means. As Sam Elliott's character, Cliff, puts it "This is Science's Chance to be Daring".
Interspersed throughout the movie are scenes from countless failed tests, the Apollo 1 tragedy, the triumphs that followed, and the most stirring call to action I have ever heard. It's from JFK. Now, I still think he wasn't much of a President, but he had a vision for space travel, and I would hope that it is the one legacy of his that lives on. When he speaks the words "This nation should commit itself, before this decade is out, to landing a man on the Moon, and returning his safely to the Earth", you can't help but cry for the lost art of public speaking. Reagan was the last one who was really good at this. Mondale, Dukakis, Bush I, Clinton, Gore & Bush II all couldn't give a really inspiring speach if their life depended on it. I mean, Clinton could TALK forever, but nothing of what he said sticks with you. JFK has so many quotable lines it's amazing he held office for less than three years. What I most wanted to experience, watching the whole world come together to watch the landing(the movie captures the moment perfectly), was that feeling of hope for the future that seems so lost in our cynical age. I want NASA to go to Mars, damn it, and I want them to go SOON. They have the technology, they have the men and women who want to put us there. They just don't have the inspiration, or the funding. Yes, the Space Shuttle program was a massive waste of money. Yes, the Space Station is nice, but it really doesn't DO much. We need to fund this now, and I would put up with a tax increase to fund it if I could be assured that every dollar of the raise went to funding HUMAN space exploration, not probes. I yearn to go boldly into that great unkown. I want to feel united with my fellow man. I ache to dream of the potential of space travel. I need to HOPE again. Hope that there is more than just this Earth, and that we are bold and daring enough to not just dream it, but DO it. Watch the movie.
:: C.M. Burns 4/22/2003 12:04:00 PM [+] ::
Normally I Don't Defend Ashcroft But...
Well, I was reading the Post's Style section today (yes, it's the weakest part of the paper, but where else can I read about tonights episode of "Just Shoot Me!"?) and I came across a quote from noted historian and former Kennedy White House Aide Arthur Schlessinger, Jr. He said "A religious nut occupies(the Attorney General's)office." And I wondered, was he talking about Ashcroft, or the religious nut who occupied the office when Schlessinger was in the White House?
The most religious person I can think of who last held the AG post was none other than Bobby Kennedy. RFK was a very devout Catholic, certainly the most religious in his family. Hell, he could have been a priest. Instead, he fathered 11 children, and had a deep faith. In fact, I would say that only a man who believes God to be firmly on his side would go after the Mob the way Kennedy did. Looking at his Presidential campaign, you could almost say that all of what he was pushing for falls into line with his religious feelings: Caring for the poor, peace in Vietnam, equal rights. All religious goals before they became political ones.
What do I think about his religious feelings? I say, good for him. Who really cares? The thing is, in today's world, where being religious is somehow a crime in politics, would Bobby Kennedy ever make it as Attorney General, or would people like Arthur Schlessinger label him a "religious nut"? I say this only becuase Ashcroft, for all his stupidity(I do not like the man, but I happen to like Schlessinger less) doesn't deserve to be called a religious nut, unless he starts enforcing laws that make prayer mandatory in schools. Some people are afraid of this happening, but it's based more on fear than reality. The most widely publisized FALSE story about Ashcroft is that he covered up that one statue, and that he did it because of the nudity. Jay Nordlinger lays out what REALLY happened :
When President Bush visited the Justice Department to rededicate the building to Robert Kennedy, his advance men insisted on a nice blue backdrop: "TV blue," infinitely preferable to the usual dingy background of the Great Hall. Everyone thought the backdrop worked nicely — made for "good visuals," as they say. This was Deaverism, pure and simple. Ashcroft's people intended to keep using it.
An advance woman on his team had the bright idea of buying the backdrop: It would be cheaper than renting it repeatedly. So she did — without Ashcroft's knowledge, without his permission, without his caring, everyone in the department insists.
But ABC put out the story that Ashcroft, the old prude, had wanted the Breast covered up, so much did it offend his churchly sensibilities. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, ever clever, wrote that Ashcroft had forced a "blue burka" on Minnie Lou. Comedians had a field day (and are still having it). The Washington Post has devoted great space to the story, letting Cher, for example, tee off on it — as she went on to do on David Letterman's show.
And yet the story is complete and total bunk. First, Ashcroft had nothing to do with the purchase of the backdrop. Second, the backdrop had nothing to do with Breast aversion. But the story was just "too good to check," as we say, and it will probably live forever. Generations from now, if we're reading about John Ashcroft, we will read that he was the boob who draped the Boob. The story is ineffaceable.
Sorry for the long blockquote. Read the whole story here at NRO The rest of the story is a bit too pro-Ashcroft for my tastes, but it does debunk several myths of the man, and questions, as I do, why the appearance of having religious faith is a bad thing. Personally, I'd just like someone who was better suited for the job in there. Someone like, say RFK, who did a great job, despite being a man of strong faith. I may not be religious, but I have no animosity towards those who are. But for people like Arthur Schlessinger, Jr., who still cling to the JFK myth like a life preserver in a sea of evil Republicans, the appearance of anything resembling faith in an office holder is enough to make them a terrible person. Which makes you wonder about some people's priorities.
:: C.M. Burns 4/22/2003 11:31:00 AM [+] ::
I Guess I'm not surprised.
Quizilla asks "What Monty Python Character are you? Apprently I'm bloodthirsty but loyal. What are you?
Why Do Democrats & Republicans Have to Hate Each Other So Much
OK, that sounds stupid, right? Dems and GOPers are supposed to hate each other. In fact, the only time in American politics in which both parties loved the President was George Washington's two terms. He was a god to those people. After him, the pasttime of trashing opponents continued unabated. 8 years of relative political peace in a 227 year old nation. How quaint. But I'm not talking about Democrat and Republican politicians hating each other. That's a given. Except for the occasionaly friendship that trancends policy, like that of Teddy Kennedy and Orin Hatch, of all people, the parties hate each other. No, my problem is with simple voters and political activists outside the spectrum of Elected Office who don't like each other. Frankly, this bothers me. I got my graduate degree in a political field, and let me tell you, I met some Republicans who wouldn't talk to Democrats and vice versa. It was ugly. We were all there to learn, but partisanship was there all the way. Just the other night I was having a perfectly nice conversation about mostlty non-political things with a very nice girl, when the fact that I'm a registered Republican came up, and while it didn't seem to affect her opinion of me, she did say that she usually doesn't talk to Republicans. Which is not the first time I've heard that in DC. Democratic hill staffers don't like it when you say you're a member of the Grand Old Party, and members of the Party of Lincoln won't give the time of day to the Dems. This worries me.
For one thing, it's gotten to a point where we can't even agree to disagree, in most cases. Let me offer up another personal example. I am very good friends with a woman who is a staunch liberal Democrat. We agree on many things, none of them political. But there is such emotion invested in our politics that we NEVER talk about the issues, the fear being we'd piss one another off and never speak again. We agree not to disagree, but to never have CAUSE to disagree, out of fear. What kind of environment is this? Is this the next generation of Washington power brokers? If so, I worry about the future of this country, with an even more divided Congress and presidents who are despised because there is an R or a D after their name. Yeah, it's been going on, but no one wants to take a stand on it. It's just bitch bitch bitch on both sides. The war in Iraq is the perfect example. Before hand, the liberals were calling the conservatives every nasty name under the sun, and conservatives called liberals commies and weak sisters. After the war was won, Republicans couldn't help but gloat gloat gloat, and Democrats, it seemed, couldn't for a moment enjoy the possibility that something good was coming out of the conflict. It's not healthy out here. I hate the division between the parties. Folks like Nader and Moore love to say there is no REAL diference between parties. They've obviously not spent a whole lot of time in DC (Nader certainly hasn't, and Moore may have been here once, as his poor grasp of politics proves). As someone who consideres himself a moderate GOPer, I wonder why people like myself and moderate Dems are being squeezed out. Many of my friends here are Democrat, many Republican, but I don't mix the two for fear there will be an explosion. We need to tone down the debates. We need a new civility in Washington. If not, the extremists on both sides will win, and the people like me who ENJOY working towards compromise and bipartisanship will flee this town, and we really will have the leaders we deserve. Frankly, I blame the media and extremists for this climate. Or maybe I am a naive Mr. Smith in Washington, about to be undone by the graft of Boss Jim Taylor and Sen. Paine. Maybe I should get while the gettings good and simply disapear into academia where I can surround myself with people who agree with me. Sounds dull though. I'd rather debate the issues than what party I'm in. Is anyone with me?
:: C.M. Burns 4/21/2003 02:22:00 PM [+] ::
Don't Take Moore's Oscar Away
There's a new web movement to take away Michael Moore's Oscar. Now, I despise the man. I think he's subhuman. He's used the deaths of Sept. 11th and Columbine to line his pockets in a way that is far more nasty than those he claims are doing the same thing. His "documentary", the one that won the Oscar for "Best Documentary-Long Subject" is hardly a documentary at all. It contains false alegations, doctored footage, staged events, creative editing, and some bald faced lies that the academy should have considered before they nominated it for an Oscar. So I understand the desire by some to petition the academy to take his Oscar away using the academy's own guidelines for documentary entrants as the reason. Just from looking at the guidelines, it's clear that Moore's opus fails to meet the criertia.
Still, as fleetingly fun it would be to take his Oscar from him, it would be playing right into his hands. He'd only use it to forward more of his bizzare compiracy theories. Plus, you'd give him more free publicity, so to the people organizing this thing, whom I'm sure are not reading this, don't take Michael Moore's oscar away. It'll only mean more screen time for that bloated sack of protplasam.
:: C.M. Burns 4/21/2003 01:50:00 PM [+] ::
Locals fight USA Patriot Act
The paper just can't stop making me smile these days, as this article,
"Local Officials Rise Up to Defy The Patriot Act" in todays Post has me thinking Americans are a lot smarter than I sometimes give them credit for. USA PATRIOT was the annoyingly titled and grossly unconsitutional bill passed by a panicked Congress in the wake of Sept. 11th. Under current law, the bill expires in 2005(See lower post I made about James Sensenbrenner). But a local government in California has become the first in America to pass a local law that outlaws voluntary compliance with the Act. Arcata, CA is the first, but apparently not the last to do this. I am quite pleased by all of this. Apparently, Americans are smart enough to not put up with liberties being quashed. Good for them. I may just go to lunch happy for a change.
:: C.M. Burns 4/21/2003 11:47:00 AM [+] ::
If He's Governor of Baghdad, Can I Be the Baron of Basra?
Of all the interesting stories in the paper today(It's a good news day in the Post, I think My favorite is this one: "A New Boss in Baghdad". No, it's not about retired General Jay Garner, who is being sent in to oversee the new transitional government of Iraq. It's about the self-proclaimed Governor of Baghdad, Mohammad Mohsen Zubaidi. He's a longtime member of the Iraqi National Congress, the Saddam opposition group, and apparently he waltzed into town and just took up the title, and people started listening to him. Sure, he's a bit corrupt and not officialy Governor of anything, but I have to love a guy who sees a power vacum and dives right in. Who says the Iraqi's don't know anything about ruling themselves?
:: C.M. Burns 4/21/2003 11:41:00 AM [+] ::
True Crime is not always News
Well, now that the war in Iraq is no longer dominating media coverage, at least on cable news, the nets have returned to bringing us the daily dose of crap that only news junkies like myself ever notice. I am, of course, speaking of the odd affair of the family Peterson, with Husband Scott now locked away after his wife washed up on a beach, or at least that's how I'm reading it. I'm not really paying attention. Anyway, CNN & MSNBC have been all over this one today, which again made me thank God that I get my news from the Washington Post. While the Peterson case is top-story news on the nets, the Post only has a one paragraph blurb on page A24 in the Nation in Brief section, the LAST page of the paper. I love it. I saw the parents of Scott tearfulling telling some moron on MSNBC that they're "standing behind their son" in his moment of trial. Well of course they are. Is this really news? Were we expecting them to say "He's guilty as sin, fry his ass?". Now, THAT would be news, but instead they're doing what NORMAL parents do, crying, looking like they've got resolve, etc. In fact, I hate that these people are on TV. They're just as annoying as What's His Name's father was during the OJ case. I don't even remember OJ's other victim's name. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we ALL forgot about that. Note to news producers: What these people have to say about their son is NOT news. They are not experts on the case, and when it goes to trial, they would only be called as character witnesses. But I can see it now. CNN will have a reporter at the trial, as will FOX. MSNBC might be able to afford to tap into their feed, but that's iffy. Anyway, those two will be embedded at the front of the courthouse, waiting to fight each other for the "exclusive" about whatever non-participating tertiary character in the whole circus has to say about that days "shocking" proceedings, which will probably be an ex-roommate of Scott's saying he used to club baby seals. Really, is it worth all the time and money. Send one reporter, no news truck, and no camera. Have them phone in a report. Just to make sure the guy isn't being railroaded. And the rest of us can get on with our lives. But this crime took place in California, and Scotty was aparently dumb enough to clean out his bank account on his way towards the Mexican border, so It'll be all over the place. Which is why I'll be reading the paper and turning the channel to reruns of Senate Agriculture Committee hearings on C-Span 2 when the name "Peterson" is even mentioned on TV.
I mean, what happened to cable news? CNN used to be consistantly good. Is it FOX news's fault, for stealing their viewership? Or did CNN start going downhill before that? Well, having Larry King anchor your evening is never a good idea, and Aaron Brown, while being a decent reporter, has no place behind an anchor desk. The man has no personality. He should be covering chess tournaments. It doesn't help that CNN, FOX and MSNBC all hate each other and get digs in during their broadcasts. Ugh. I used to like CNN, and I realized I stopped liking it when Bernard Shaw left. He was good. This is the guy who kept his cool while being bombed in Baghdad in '91 and would never let a crappy story take precedent over a juicy one. Is it any wonder that people stopped watching Inside Politics once the whole shebang was sent over to Judy Woodruf? Just. Not. The. Same. And don't get me started on the collapse of Crossfire. THAT'S a tragedy. Oh well, I guess today's lesson is that cable news is just as annoying and sensationalistic as the National Enquirer, and I'm in a pissy mood because of it. Well, I need to yell at cars now. Damn blood pressure.
:: C.M. Burns 4/21/2003 10:54:00 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, April 18, 2003 ::
Sensenbrenner Not an Asshole, as Previously Reported
In the wake of the return of Elizabeth Smart to her batshit parents (I'm still wondering why Utah hasn't arrested those morons), I posted a piece about the National Amber Alert law that was locked up in the House Judiciary Committee. I knew little about the law, but it seemed that Committee Chairman was holding it up. I asked a Democratic friend and House staffer about this, and their reply, on deep back ground, was that Sensebrenner was an "asshole". Well, the Amber Alert bill came out of the Committee and was passed by the House, with the extra provisions Sensenbrenner wanted added to give further protections to at-risk children. Seems he wasn't actually an asshole about that after all. My friend, who is a good person, tends to generalize about Republicans. The REAL asshole in the Amber Alert battle was Democratic Senator Joe Biden, who tacked on an amendment to the Senate version of the bill called the RAVE act. What the bill says is basically if someone is doing drugs on your property, you're just as guilty as they are, if not more so. This was designed to crack down on raves where kids OD on ecsatsy, but can be so broadly interpreted that the owners of, say, the MCI Center could be arrested if a concert goer lights up a joint at an Allman Brothers show. Really. It's that bad. It's a bad law, and could hurt the passage of the bill overall, so Mr. Smart should start bellowing at Sen. Biden after he finishes exposing his daughter to complete strangers he finds on the street that he hires to do roofing work because he's too cheap to get pros to do it. That story really needs to be better covered, I think.
Anyway, Sensenbrenner made my favorites list this week for statements made to his hometown paper in Milwaukee. Regarding the suggestion by some that the sunset provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act be repealed and the law become permanent, Sensenbrenner had this to say: "That will be done over my dead body". To that I say, BRAVO. PATRIOT is the worst thing the congress has passed in years, but at least they had the good sense to give it sunset provisions. Sen Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Sen. Judiciary Committee, says he wants the act to live on, and is in fact attempting to pass PATRIOT 2, which is even worse than the first one. If Rep. Sensenbrenner sticks to his guns, that won't happen anytime soon. He gets my "Real Conservative" award because real conservatives don't like the trampling of civil liberties any more than the ACLU. Hell, Bob Barr, a more annoying member of Congress than most and stauch anti-Clinton man, was against the thing. So it MUST be bad. For more on all this, read this article. Freedom, as they say, is not free.
:: C.M. Burns 4/18/2003 01:43:00 PM [+] ::
Another Polemic on Religion Or: Patrick Can't Seem to Figure Out His Faith
Well, Good Friday is here for Western Christians (Eastern Orthodox and a few other sects celebrate it in a couple weeks), and Passover is here for those of the Jewish faith. And, as usual, I'm vexed by the religious question. Longtime readers of this space (all 10 of you) will recall that I gave up heavy drniking for Lent, and I'm happy to say I didn't get drunk once over the past 40 days. Why did I give up something for Lent, as I'm a non-practicing Catholic who goes to church, at most, twice a year? Well, I did it to prove that I could(I also did not eat meat on Friday), and I did it so I wouldn't completely fall out of touch with my faith. You see, I struggle with religion. Like Fox Mulder and aliens, I Want To Believe, It's just that, well, I don't all that much. I believe that Jesus existed. I believe that his acts led to the founding of the Roman Catholic Church by St. Peter (this is all historical record, so it's not exactly a leap for me to say this). I also believe that Jesus said some pretty sharp things about life. Good guy, that Jesus. But do I believe he was the son of God? Do I believe IN God? The difficult answer is I'm not sure.
I've long admired people with faith. Some cynics say it's easy to swallow what the church tells you and follow blindly along, but I disagree. Having witnessed many people that I know truly feel moved by their faith, I envy them, that they are able to believe in something so etherial, something that you can't see or touch, but know is there. I'm not saying I'm like Thomas, the apostle who needed to see and touch a ressurected Jesus to believe he was back (Catholic school stays with you). I'm just saying that I've never felt it. Ever. And this makes me wonder. I am ignoring the signs that may be obvious to others? Or are people convinced they have been moved by God because they wish to believe they have?
I suppose another problem I have with my faith is the fact that organized religion is so spotty. Yes, the Catholic Church does good things now (for the most part. Lets leave the priest jokes alone), and I really admire the Pope. John Paul II helped with the downfall of Communisim, he has pushed for greater understanding between different faiths, and as Pope he's been a great inspiration to millions. These are good things. And yet, the Catholic Church is built on the blood and money of others. I visited the Vatican once, and it was truly incredible. Just seeing pictures of the place doesn't do it justice. The Basillica of St. Peter is, just, wow, I mean, it's massive, and Michaelangelo's Dome is an incredible feat. But when you walk into the truly gigantic Baroque Basillica, you have to ask yourself why a religion founded on strong faith and self-reliance needs such a massive temple, especially one that was built with such shady funds (plenary indulgences, taxes, spoils of war, etc...). The Cathedrials that dot Europe make more sense, as they were built as acts of faith, but St. Peter's seems to be built like a fortress with the intention to intimidate, and religion shouldn't be about that. So, while I marvel at the incredible task it must have been to build the place, I feel moved not one inch when I go in there. Which is why I think the Vatican should relocate. Nothing says out of touch like a religion that needs it's own personal country(yes, Vatican City is a countr, with post office!) and ornates it's leader with jewels and clothes more befitting a king than a spiritual leader. So perhaps its the stark difference between the message and the messanger that troubles me.
I mean, the Crusades, the Anti-Reformation, the Inquisition. These are all such AWFUL things, all done in the name of God and usually at the order of the Pope. It's an ugly history. Science being shut out, torture and execution. Not a happy time. Religion has always been about power for most people, at least when you get higher up. Kings were either lauded as God's messanger or the protector of the faith, and very rarely did they live up to it. Cardinals were often bought by rich families to basically do their bidding in Rome. Religion shouldn't be about that. It should be about your personal relationship with God(if you have one. I don't). Period. Churches and organized religion can serve a positive purpose in that they help guide people, but they can also be dangerous when they control too much power. All this has also driven me from my faith.
Be all that as it may, I'll still be in church on Sunday, and I'll sing the hymmns and I'll pray, and when I pray I'll mean it. As will Millions of others across the globe, even those who don't really believe. I wondered about this as a friend of mine who I consider less religious than myself told me last night that she was going to church with her family on Good Friday AND Easter. I asked her why, and she said it was because it made her mother happy, and it made her feel good to go sometimes, even if she didn't buy everything. Which is as good an explanation as any for going to church: Make your Mom happy, and bask in the happiness and faith of others. Makes sense. I know that I'll still question my faith on Monday, but for an hour on Sunday, I'll at least know I'm not doing the WRONG thing. And I'll feel good about it. So while the struggle to understand the spiritual continues for me, I'll take comfort in knowing I made my Mom happy. And that, in the end, is enough.
:: C.M. Burns 4/18/2003 10:17:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 17, 2003 ::
Acid Flashbacks as Art
OK, I've been posting the ocassional odd flash animation from this site for a long time. In fact, it was a song called "We Like the Moon" was the partial inspiration for me starting a blog. Don't ask how. Anyway, I saw this today, "A Frightened Boy", and frankly, I don't know what to make of it. It vexes me. It frightens me. And it could be the greatest piece of art ever created! Just click on it, and see if it affects you as deeply as it affected me. I may never sleep again. Watch if you dare!
A "what-if" for the Former Iraqi Information Minister
Too much good stuff on the web today to pass up. Over at ESPN.com's Page 2, Jim Caple has a job scenario for former Saddam spokesman Mohammad Saeed Al-Sahhaf: Color man for the Yankees! Here's a taste to wet your whistle:
Welcome back, infidels! The great Jason Giambi has just hit the Mother of All Home Runs and the indomitable Yankees have extended their lead to 12-3 over the outlaw Red Sox, chasing that most despicable of creatures, Pedro Martinez, from the mound!
Sadly, I hear the man killed himself the other day after the regime collapsed. Not that he ever did any good, and was, in fact, probably evil, but he at least would have livened up war crimes tribunals at The Hague. Oh well.
:: C.M. Burns 4/17/2003 11:06:00 AM [+] ::
Conservatives Love AC/DC
I love hard rock. From Metallica (yes, they started as speed metal, but by the Black Album they had graduated to a more mature sound) to Guns & Roses(Yes, their last album was 10-odd years ago, but what albums!) I love that down and dirty, blusey feel REAL hard rock has. Notice I said real. What MTV and the no-longer-culturally-relevant-crap pile known as Rolling Stone call rock is anything but. Bands like Good Charlotte, Limp Bizkit, and others are simply pretenders to the throne, and I still await a day when a true hard rock band returns to behead them for crimes against music. Figuratively of course. And, obviously, I love AC/DC. The first time I heard "You Shook Me All Night Long", at some gradeschool dance many years ago, was like a revelation to the induring power of the guitar solo. So it was with some amusement and interest that I clicked on a story about
AC/DC on National Review Online. Yes THAT National Review. It's obviously not all William F. Buckley anymore.
Anyway, the story is nothing more than a love letter to the enduring power of the Australian rockers, who are being inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame this year. It's great. Possibly the best thing I've read all week, and I encourage you to read it, too. It's make you smile.
:: C.M. Burns 4/17/2003 10:58:00 AM [+] ::
Enough Museum Blame to go Around
Many on the Left can't seem to get over the tragic, if somewhat predictable, looting of the Museum of Antiquities in Iraq. More precisely, they can't let a day go by without heaping more blame on the Pentagon and the heartless Bush Administration. And, as an amatuer historian, I'm upset that the place was looted, I mean, Mesopitamia IS the cradle of civilization. However, I wrote earlier in the week that perhaps blame for this tragedy lies elsewhere, perhaps with the Museum's curators for not taking steps to protect their items, or with fleeing Baathist party members who maybe wanted to take something woth them before the Marines showed up. Well, Jim Hogaland in the Post today writes an excellent column on who is to blame.
Hogaland does say the military bears some responsibility, and given what I've read about the warnings issued to the Pentagon about the Museum, I'd say I agree with him in some part. He also. however, blames the Museum staff, the Baathists, and Iraqis themselves. Here's the best quote:
In any event, it is self-defeating for Iraqis (and others) to try to place all responsibility for this cultural disaster on the shoulders of the U.S. military. That perpetuates the myth that outsiders are always responsible for the problems and failures of the Arab world. Arab governments have developed the political reflex of shifting blame to others into a high art, and their citizens buy into that view with amazing ease.
He goes on to suggest that the Arab world can learn from this to accept responisbility for the actions it's own people take, and that ending the cycle of victimhood that totalitarian Arab regimes perepetuate will help all Arabs out in the long run. Good thoughts.
:: C.M. Burns 4/17/2003 10:23:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 16, 2003 ::
The Chicago White Sox and the Collapse of Quality Baseball on Chicago's South Side
Well, insane White Sox fans once again embarrased their team, while the team's ownership embarassed this once-proud baseball city. Last night Comiskey Park was once again site of a fan on-field attack. A fan jumped the first base line and attacked an Ump at the Sox-Royals game. This was the fourth time THAT NIGHT that play was stopped due to a fan on the field, and comes on the heels of the attack last September on Royal First Base Coach Tom Gamboa by a father-son assault team. In fact, irony abounded in Chicago last night as this was the first time the Royals had played at Comiskey since that incident last year. It seems that White Sox fans cannot be counted on to, you know, act like civilized people. The Royals are refusing to play tonight unless stricter security is enforced. And why shouldn't they? The White Sox orginization, headed by malevolant Chicago owner Jerry "I Can Ruin A Baseball Franchise AND a Basketball One At the Same Time, Just Watch" Reinsdorf, has always had a callous disregard for everything except the bottom line on the South Side. First, they demolished Old Comiskey and put up what is easily the worst baseball stadium in America and called it "New Comiskey". But Reinsdorf wasn't finished.
This season, he sold the naming rights to the stadium to US Cellular, so now the place is known as US Cellular Park, or some such nonsense. He was also complicit in the tearing down of the old Chicago Stadium, along with Blackhawks Fuher "Dollar" Bill Wirtz, and erecting the United Center, which has so many poor seats and so much overpriced food that you'd at least expect good acoustics. Nope. Anyway, New Comiskey is now US Cellular, but instead of using that money to say, build a decent team or beef up security, he's probably bought himself a new car or plane or something. Maybe he put the money into the Bulls. After all, they almost won 20 games this season. What happened out on the South Side? Old Comiskey was old, yes, but they could have renovated it, instead of building the crap heap that now dominates the view on the Southern approach into downtown Chicago. It had class, but, the Sox orginization doesn't know anything about class, so there you go. They also could have done a lot with Chicago Stadium. Instead, they tore down the loudest stadium I've ever been in and built the quitest. This is another dark day for Chicago sports. Soldier Field has been "reimagined" into a bizzare flying saucer that no one likes, New Comiskey got it's name sold off by an owner who was rich enough to name it after himself, if he wanted to, and the Bulls and Blackhawks suck it up every night in an arena that is overpriced and no fun to visit. It's as sterile as a mall. Only Wrigley Field, on the North Side remains mostly untouched, a place where when they make changes, like the addition of skyboxes in the late 80's and night lights, they fit with the overall theme of the park-dignity. Sure, the Cubs usuallt suck, but thats a given, and the purpose of going to a Cubs game isn;t to see them win, it's to have a good time, and that is always assured at Wrigley. If I still lived in Chi-Town, I'd petition to have Reinsdorf and Wirtz run out of town on a rail. Thankfully, the local sports media is top drawer and has been unafraid to critisize the owners. But a general boycott is needed. Sox fans, stop going to games until they put proper security in place and dename the field back to it's original title. Who have to watch the games in a wretched park. The name and game quality there shouldn't be wretched, too.
:: C.M. Burns 4/16/2003 11:40:00 AM [+] ::
Telemarketing: A Case For Their Torture At My Hands
So I'm sitting at work today, and I get a call from a telemarketer on my cell phone. How did they get my cell phone number? Well, I tend to use it instead of my home number on things, and I guess they got it somehow, and seemed to think that I needed a new credit card witha great big $2000 balance, and it was only going to cost me $250 in one time fees and it would help me rebuild my credit, yadda yadda yadda. While it's true I had credit problems about two months ago, I took care of them, and all is well. I tried to explain that my caller in a friendly way, so they could move on to someone who actually might want their service. I did telemarketing for two weeks as an odd job guring college before my full-time summer job started, and I know what it's like to deal with rude people, so I tend to be polite to the callers. But this woman didn't seem to hear me the first time I told her I had no need for a new credit card. She then took the wrong tack. She decided to talk to me like a five year old who doesn't know what a credit rating is. Big mistake. I declined to hang up, and instead asked her "how should could help me, since I've already fixed my credit". She explained, sort of, that she could "fix it better & faster", though she was short on details, and the she tried to get me to confirm my address so she could send me a card I didn't want. At this point I got angry. No swearing, but harsh words. She yelled at me, and I told her if she ever called me again I'd report her company to the better businnes bereau and have her fired. Then I hung up. Thusly, my morning was ruined. It's a beautiful day out, and I was doing just fine, and this woman could not leave well enough alone when I told her I wasn't interested. Now, I'm in a foul mood.
So I propose that we torture abusive telemarketers. I know most of them are just doing their jobs, and 99 times out of 100, even if they call at a bad time, if you reject their offer politely, they will leave you alone. I'm talking about that 1% that takes their job a little too seriously, the ones who try to browbeat you into accepting their dubious offer. I mean, I learned young that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is(I mean, how do you repair damaged credit by offering to give someone ANOTHER credit card? Does this make any sense?). So I think instead of crap like the PATRIOT act that monitors innocent civilians, we need a telemarketer act that monitors calls from these people, and the ones who are abusive get sent to the basement of my apartment building where I will employ the instruments of torture that I learned during my years in the CIA. I mean, it's only fair. You ruin someones day, you get electrodes attached to uncomfortable places. It's just that simple. Come on Congress, it's may be cruel, but it's not that unusual. In fact, lets declare these people terrorists, because they annoy the hell out of me. All right, rant over. Thanks for listening. Oh, and I'll be calling your houses later to offer you a deal on aluminum siding. And I don't want no backtalk, got it?
:: C.M. Burns 4/16/2003 10:59:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 15, 2003 ::
This has nothing to do with my new Terminator movie, I swear
Ah-nold is going to be hosting the new AFI special that details the
100 greatest heros and villans of all time. And I'm sure the fact that he is nominated twice for playing a Terminator and the fact that T3 opens soon after this special airs are mere coincidence.
On the AFI, I've had isues with their lists in the past. Some Like It Hot is a very funny movie, but not nearly as hilarious as The Producers which they have as number 11. Although it IS funnier than Tootsie, which the list-makers found fit to put at number 2, and that I find duller than dirt. Oh well. All I have to say is that if Darth Vader is behind, say, Saurman from LOTR's, I'm gonna be pissed.
:: C.M. Burns 4/15/2003 11:14:00 AM [+] ::
Who Looted the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities?
One of the non-human tragedys that is making the rounds in the press these days is the looting of the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities in the days following the liberation of Iraq. Or was it looted? That's the story the press has been trumpeting, and a lot of left wing bloggers and sites, noticeably Salon.com, where everything bad everywhere is Bush's fault, are taking the administration to task for allowing this to happen. However, I read an interesting theory just now that had been going around in my head, as well. Richard Shwartz, in his blog, The Village Idiot, asks why we're so quick to blame the Iraqi citizens for this. He asks why nobody is thinking that the Baathist party members, who took just about everything else of value in the city, took the priceless antiquites from the museum. Hell, at one of Saddam's palaces, they took everything of value before they left, including the door hinges. Couldn't they have stopped by the museum on the way out?
The second question he asks is why, if Saddam and is goons didn't take it, was all that art just sitting around in the open? He notes that the museum had levels decending into the basement that have steel doors, as most museums do. Since the attack in Baghdad was certainly known in advance, why wasn't the art placed in the vaults before bombing began? It seems like the logical thing to do. Of course, it's easier to blame an anonymous mob than it is to admit that you either A) Failed to Protect Your Holdings or B) Allowed your Rulers to run off with it. The museum's curator is angry at the President, and the media is more than happy to report that. Not surprising, then, that reporters aren't asking obvious questions of the staff.
:: C.M. Burns 4/15/2003 10:43:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, April 14, 2003 ::
Self-Loathing in DC
I disgust myself right now. I really do. I've allowed myself to become such a...dull person on recent weeks. I mean, I did nothing of much note this weekend, especially Saturday, which was just a frickin' beautiful day. Ugh. I suck. I did have a lovely dinner last night, and I did see "Anger Management" on Friday, which has the funniest scene ever set in a monestary, and that includes all the scenes in the film version of "The Name of the Rose", but does that a successful weekend make? Shouldn't I have been out touring the mall, just taking in the beauty around me? Soaking up history? No, I stayed in and watched "Red Dragon" and the new "Harry Potter" on DVD. I was lazy and achieved nothing, and it's time I changed that. I mean, I should be past sleeping to 12:00 every saturday. There's no reason to. And I should be out excersizing, or playing golf, or just talking with friends over coffee. In essence, I need a change, and jolt, something to make my life more interesting, and as lucrative as the drug trade is, I just can't take that risk, and I don't have the capital to back it up.
So what should I do? Intermural volleyball and softball? Trips to Baltimore to see O's games? Stalking the mailman? I don't know. All of sudden, though, it's the SPRING of my discontent, and I just finished the winter of my discontent, and I have to wonder why I'm si discontent. Arggh. It's like pulling teeth, it is. I need a reviatlization, and I'm going to get right on it. Just as soon as I finish this Playstation game I got. It's totally awesome. What time is it? Midnight? Well, I'll start tomorrow. After I watch "Kung Pow" on HBO. Ah screw this reivention BS. Maried by America finishes up tonight, and I don't feel dirty enough. Later.
:: C.M. Burns 4/14/2003 01:36:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, April 11, 2003 ::
Scott Ritter, total Bastard
Jonah Goldberg in National Review Online relates this amazing quote from Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector turned major peace advocate, from an interview in Time last year:
"The prison in question was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. It appeared to be a prison for children - toddlers up to pre-adolescents - whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace."
Goldberg digs into Ritter here, but I'd just like to say that if that the anti-war movement really cared about Iraqis, they might not want this guy as their advocate.
:: C.M. Burns 4/11/2003 03:34:00 PM [+] ::
More on Hollywood & Castro
Intersting piece from the Wall Street Journal today about Hollywood's worship of Castro. I knew about some of these quotes, most distressingly Stephen Spielberg's comments that his meeting with Castro was "the most important 8 hours of (his) life". But Jack Nicholson called him a genius? Jack? The men who redefined freedom in America in "Easy Rider"? What the hell is wrong with these people? I ask that a lot lately, don't I? Anyway, here's the article. At least the House of Representatives and Amnesty International are not dazzled by the dictator.
:: C.M. Burns 4/11/2003 03:26:00 PM [+] ::
Sex Tips from Rummy
I'm a big Rumsfeld fan, but no matter what you think of him, you have to be able to laugh at this bit of Esquire humor: "This Way Out:Sex Tips from Donald Rumsfeld". Just be specific and only ask one question, or he'll get mad.
:: C.M. Burns 4/11/2003 10:18:00 AM [+] ::
CNN Sucked Up to Saddam for a Story
There's a truly distressing article in today's New York Times, an op-ed, actually, by the head of CNN, Eason Jordan. Mr. Jordan explains all the atrocities that he and CNN knew about since 1991, when they lobbied the Iraqi government to allow them to open a Baghdad bureau following the war. In "The News We Kept to Ourselves" (registration required), Mr. Jordan tells of many awful things that CNN knew Saddams regime was doing, but didn't report on because they wanted to keep their bereau open. Reading this as a confession, which it seems to be, I was shocked at the lengths to which CNN would go to secure a story. They knew people were dying, their own reporters were targeted for execution, and nothing came of it because they feared for the lives of those in their bereau. Well, I think that once the Iraqi government sends agents to kill your reporters, you pick up your tent and you LEAVE TOWN and tell everyone in the world EXACTLY what is going on there. Mr. Jordan said that he was upset at keeping these stories bottled up, but now they can be told. Hell, they should have been told years ago, and Mr. Jordan should be ashamed of himself. I may actually start watching MSNBC.
:: C.M. Burns 4/11/2003 10:11:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 10, 2003 ::
What Is Wrong With Some People?
It's been widely reported that the Arab street is shocked that Iraq fell so quickly, mostly because they actually believed the Iraqi Information Minister when he said the Coalition was being slaughtered. So this article: " Arab Media Incredulous At Iraqi Elation After Baghdad's Fall" is no surprise. What is a shock, however, is the money quote at the end, from a british woman who went to Iraq as a human shield. What did she say? Read this:
"But a Lebanese satellite TV channel interviewed a British woman who went to Iraq to serve as a human shield. She said Iraq was free until the U.S.-led troops arrived."
British Airways and Air France are getting rid of the Concorde, the worlds only supersonic commerical jet. Seems a bit sad, as I never got to ride in one, and I heard it was interesting. Also, no more disaster movies about the Concorde, which is the real reagedy.
:: C.M. Burns 4/10/2003 11:51:00 AM [+] ::
The Power of Soy
Be careful playing this at work. It's not dirty, but it will get you wierd looks. Why? Just look at the title: Fight!Kikkoman
It's hard not to feel a little smug today, considering that so many in the media predicted disaster in Iraq, and, while the fighting continues, those of us who felt the Iraqi's would welcome us feel vindicated. For fun, National Review Online has put together a list of the pundits who predicted that everything would go wrong. you can read that here. It's a fun read.
As I watched the celebration yesterday, I truly felt elated. I remembered watching the Berlin Wall fall, and the Russians tearing down statues of Lenin, but this seemed so much more real, probably because I was only 12 when the Berlin wall came down. These people were happy and, well, looting, but as Jon Stewart pointed out last night on The Daily Show, they seemed to be looting mostly chairs. Odd. Anyway, it made me feel good, made me feel that maybe my own misgivings(never published here, but held in my head) were wrong about the government. I hope that we continue to do this good work, and it is good work. Lets build a democracy there, and give these people a chance, and let the world see what the US really stands for.
The Daily Show was a lot of fun last night. Stewart opened the show genuienly excited to be reporting on the liberation of Baghdad. He opposed the war, I know, and I think he did so out of mistrust for the administration, which many of my friends did, and I don't necessarily think it wrong for he and they to have felt that way. But he said something that summed up what had happened perfectly. He said "If you can't take any joy in this moment, then you are a slave to the ideological left, and if you can't at least be a bit saddened by the human cost of what it took to get here, then you are a slave of the ideological right, and I advise you both to leave the room." He's right, of course. We killed a LOT of Iraqi's for this. Sure most were soldiers, but many were civilians, and we should not forget that cost. But we also liberated millions more, and that can be celebrated by anyone. Which made me laugh this morning when I came up the Metro and saw new signs for an International ANSWER-led "surround the White House and end the War" protest on Saturday. It seems sort of cruel of them to protest now, doesn't it? I mean, yes, they are a front for a horrible socialist group, but still, if the war actually ends in the next week, which it might, would ANSWER claim victory? I wonder what the average Iraqi in the street would say to an ANSWER protester on Saturday. Whatever it was, I'd love to have it on tape. Anyway, it's moot. If they get a big number turnout on Saturday, not only will I be shocked, I will be saddened, as those who turned out would appear to be the slaves of the left Jon Stewart talked about. The Slaves on the right also better not start talking "who's next", either. If ANSWER truly cared about the Iraqi people, they would now work to make sure we keep our promises to them. But I don't think they will. They still miss Saddam, after all.
In the end, it's been a remarkable past 24 hours, and I'll always remember it. It's not over for our troops, yet, but for the people of Baghdad, the nightmare is gone. Welcome to the new world.
:: C.M. Burns 4/10/2003 09:44:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 09, 2003 ::
What Kind Of God Would Allow This?
Just in time to make your stomach turn, Heinz has unveiled blue ketchup. Go to the page and look at the girl. She's putting the fucking BLUE ketchup on french (excuse me FREEDOM) fries. Ugh. What is wrong with Heinz? What's next Purple dijon mustard? Green ranch dressing? Oh God, must, make it to bathroom....
:: C.M. Burns 4/09/2003 02:37:00 PM [+] ::
Historical Irony Report
While the war is not over, the people of Baghdad are celebrating. It's ironic then, that this day of a great US military victory is also the 138th anniversary of Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomatox. It was the end of slavery, and while many years were needed to mend fences, it was the start of the modern United States. Lets hope this is the start of the modern Iraq.
:: C.M. Burns 4/09/2003 01:57:00 PM [+] ::
John Kerry & Regime Change
Some Republicans have been upset by John Kerry's use of the term "regime change" in reference to what he thinks is needed in the United States. The GOPers have been vehmenent that critisism of the president should be muted during war(Hypocrisy alert-in all fareness, they lambasted Clinton whenever he thought of firing a missle. Back off, guys). Kerry has rightly claimed he can say whatever he wants, it's a free country. But Mac Owens in National Review grants Kerry his right to say what he wants, and still takes issue with it.
Owens writes of the true meaning of "regime change", how if Kerry is literally calling for it as we understand it now, he wants nothing less the the overthrow of our Constitutional governemt. Obviously, Kerry doesn't mean that. He wants a normal trasfer of power in which he defeats Dubya in 2004. However, Kerry supposed to be a smart guy. And that WAS a dumb statement. Read the article for a lesson in Greek thought and regime change.
:: C.M. Burns 4/09/2003 10:59:00 AM [+] ::
Am I Sexist Because I Find Women's Basketball Dull?
OK, the NCAA's are over, and last night's big winner was UConn. For those of you who think I've lost my mind, I'm talking about the WOMAN'S NCAA tourney, which concluded last night. I didn't watch the game. And I'll tell you why. Women's basketball is dull at the College level, and even worse in the WNBA. It's agonizing to watch because the fast pace of the men's game make comparisons inevitable, and women come out the losers. Which is not always the case with women's sports. Women's soccer, tennis, and swimming(at the Olympic level), are all just as, or moreso in the case of tennis, exciting as men's. Why oh why is women's basketball shoved down our throat on ESPN? I'd rather watch baseball rereuns. Well, the question is asked and answered by Stacey Pressman today, a sports columnist for ESPN. She says it's all politics, and I believe her. Find me a person who says the women's game is more interesting to watch than the men's, and I'll show you a liar. Read Ms. Pressman's "Slam-Dunk" before you call me sexist.
A good friend of mine often states her wish to visit Cuba. I always respond with "Want to see the human rights violations first hand, eh?", and no, I'm not referring to terrorists at Guantanamo. I'm referring to the ultra-repressive Castro and his cronies. My friend says "Come on, we have trade with China, we need to open up Cuba. Besides, they have a great Health Care system" At this I usually roll my eyes. Yes, we do have trade with China, but it doesn't necessarily make me happy, considering what that government does to dissadents, and because they're so afraid of dissent you can trace the spread of SARS back to their willful ignorance of it. Can't I still say that Castro is just as bad as China? Well, apparently I can. In today's Washington Post, my favorite liberal cloumnist Richard Cohen (really, he is. He makes a lot of sense) points out just what Cuba has done lately to those who speak against her government. In "Hollywood's Darling, Liberals' Blind Spot", Cohen points to the recent rounding up of dissadents and the abyssimal human rights record of the isolated island nation, and wonders why so many of his liberal friends want to give Castro a pass. It's a good piece, for anyone concerned with the state of human rights in the world.
:: C.M. Burns 4/08/2003 02:16:00 PM [+] ::
So I've got an iPod, right? One of those ingenious little devices from Apple that holds 10 gigs worth of MP3's and is small enough to fit in your pocket. It's truly a wonderful device. When I got the thing, I downloaded every song on my hard drive to the thing, and I still have a ton of space. The point is, I downloaded EVERYTHING. Even stuff that I don't listen to anymore. But there are like 600 songs on their now, and I add more weekly, so sometimes you never hear the old stuff that you wish you never downloaded. Until today. I had been enjoying "Honkey Tonk Woman" by the Rolling Stones, and what comes on next, but that song "All Star" by those no-talent ass clowns, SmashMouth. I had forgotten that for the brief history in my life that I liked that song, about three or four years ago when "Mystery Men" came out (A vastly underrated flick, by the way). Anyhoo, it had been wasting away on my hard drive since then, and now it reared it's ugly head. And then I realized that this was not the only time I'd heard that awful, awful song. I had recentley heard it on some commercial for a product I must have blocked out of my mind for using the song. It's the one where the boring party becomes "cool" when the host turns into Jay Leno. Any party hosted by Jay Leno is lame by definition, but we're focusing our rage at Smash Mouth right now, thank you. Anyway, the damn song is still getting played on the radio, too, and I think "Is this what people like? Has music fallen so far?" And then I realize that the charts have been owned by the worthless likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Christina "Insert Offensive Nickname Here" Aguilara, and J-Lo. So yes, maybe the music consumer has been swallowed up by the MTV repurification of music, the rise of the horror that is TRL. I just think back to my college radio days, and remember all that great indie music I became aware of because of our playlists. You can bet your ass that Smash Mouth wasn't on any of them. So I plea with the American consumer, and the ad execs: Please, don't use that song any more. I beg of you. Please, I'll give you my firstborn. Just make the horror stop. And while you're at it, do something about that "One Week" sonf that came out in 1998 and is still used in commercials. Or else.
:: C.M. Burns 4/08/2003 01:22:00 PM [+] ::