Monday, February 26, 2007

Reclaiming American Democracy

Seeing where the Iraq situation is going (i.e. nowhere, fast), and with Iran on the horizon, Majority Democrats are moving toward reworking the 2002 authorization which gave President Bush the green light to invade Iraq in the first place.

This would not mean a broad pullout of troops from Iraq, but, instead, a limiting of their efforts to specific on-mission tasks.

The move is an important one, not just because it seeks to shift a failing policy in Iraq, but also because it will reign in an increasingly undemocratic (and arrogant) president.

Bush has repeatedly cited the 2002 authorization as giving him broader powers than Congress ever intended.

The purpose was to allow an invasion of Iraq, based on the now-disproven threats of Saddam Hussein's links to Al Qaeda and WMDs – not to allow illegal wiretaps, torture, extraordinary renditions, or to suspend habeas corpus.

Bush will most certainly use the authorization to attack Iran if it is not reworked with more specific language.

To be clear, we cannot allow a nuclear Iran. Even if their intentions are peaceful (i.e. supplying their people with energy), rogue elements within that country could still use the technology to do harm. It would not surprise me in the least, were that to happen.

But we need to exhaust every possible course of action before attacking Iran. That may mean swallowing our pride and sitting down at the table with them, as disagreeable as it seems. We can't say we've tried everything – as I expect Bush will do – unless we have tried everything.

And it's certainly preferable to getting bogged down in another Middle Eastern conflict for which we don't have the resources.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Something Smells Fishy" Friday

The pope is set to become a pitchman for KFC, if the company has anything to say about it. They've submitted a new fish sandwich for His Holiness' blessing as an appropriate food for "Fish Fridays" during the current Lenten season.

Essentially, KFC are hoping the pope will use his sway with the world's Catholic multitudes to drive sales of their new menu item. (They'd better be careful, as the pope knows someone who can take that one tiny fish sandwich and miraculously feed it to all of them. Which would be disastrous for sales.)

I can just see the TV spots now:

Pope Benedict XVI: "If you can find a better fish sandwich, buy it. Er, rather, don't buy it. That's a sin, and you'll go to hell."

The pope could certainly set a precedent in the faith world with such a promo.

Islamist Imam: "If you can find a better falafel, bomb it."

Dalai Lama: "What is the sound of one pot of Lipton tea boiling?"

Rabbi: "If you can find a better corned beef sandwich, buy it... wholesale."

KFC is not the first fast food chain to gear its menu toward the faithful during Lent. Taco Bell, owned by the same company as KFC, has a Lent menu with full-color photos of the food items right on it. You have indeed made a sacrifice if you're hitting The Bell for a meal.

And though they don't mention Lent outright, Papa John's always seems to promote its spinach alfredo pizza in the early months of the year.

People have long complained about the commercialization of Christmas. Now, apparently, they can add Lent to their gripe list.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Driving Under The Influence Of Money

If you’re like me, you’ve had those discussions wherein you proffer what you would do if you were rich and famous. I would get such and such a car, build a huge house, find a cure for cancer, pay off Third World debt so I don't have to listen to Bono anymore, etc.

One of the advantages of being rich is that you can pay other people to do things you'd rather not (or shouldn't) do. Have an enemy? Hire a hitman to rub them out. Dirty pool? Hire a cleaning service.

One thing that I would most certainly do as a wealthy person is, if not buy one, hire a limousine for all my evenings out.

I really enjoy driving most of the time, unless there’s traffic, and am not inclined to let someone else do so for me. Not that I'm an auto enthusiast – like those people who order special parts for their cars – I just enjoy the independence.

But when I’m doing something that involves drinking (I am, of course, an aficionado of a certain dark beverage) I’d take a damned limo if I could.

Which is why I'm at a loss to understand why the rich, famous and/or connected are racking up so many DUIs this year. Ray Liotta, Lane Garrison, Nicole Richie, Antonin Scalia's daughter, plus this guy, this guy and this guy have all joined the club recently.

Of course, 2006 had its share of high profile DUIs, including Patrick Kennedy, Mel Gibson, Paris Hilton and pretty much the entire cast of ABC's Lost.

Folks, enjoy your ride, just not after drinks. Going out for a wee nip? Summon the chauffer. Because you can. Put some of that money to good use, why don't you?

More people should think like me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Misc. Mon.

It seems our president had two moles removed from his temple late last week. Who knew he was Jewish? I would think a synagogue could take care of its own pest removal, but I guess Bush wanted to wield his executive power over those little vermin.

Come to think of it, they probably weren’t referring to that kind of mole. It’s quite obvious they meant spies.

Say, which is better for your heart: olive oil or snake oil? And which is more nutritious, rice cakes or urinal cakes? Regardless, only the latter can
talk, as of yet.

Speaking of men handling things (other than their units, and their liquor), I think the words “manhandling” and “manslaughter” ought to be changed to gender-neutral terms. The close associations between violence and men they evoke are degrading and offensive to men.

And finally: The horror, Your Honor. A man is
suing IBM for $5 million after the company fired him for visiting adult chat rooms on company time. (I am thinking the company knows computers, meaning they also know how to monitor and track what their employees are doing on them.) The man claims his Internet addiction is a result of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he developed after serving in Vietnam.

This is about as convoluted of a legal case as they come, folks.

Speaking of convoluted, if you can make any sense out of today’s post, please explain it to me. This is the best that can be expected of me on a Monday!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Day They Love To Hate

Those jaded or jilted by love aren't the only ones who hate Valentine's Day. A group of extremist Indian Hindus is down on love as well.

The group, called Shiv Sena, sees Valentine's Day as an immoral celebration and an incursion of Western values upon their own. So on February 14th they held demonstrations, burning Valentine's Day cards and, in a masterful showing of their personification skills, shouting "Death to Valentine's Day!"

That's showing us decadent Western folk!

Not to be outdone by their longtime foes, Muslims in Kashmir (the scene of disputes between Indian Hindus and Pakistani Muslims) interrupted romantic dinners with admonitions to the amorous.

For some cultures, the West has become a scapegoat for all that is wrong in the world. But I won't take any criticism from people who physically attack others for public displays of affection (as practiced by some Hindus), or who kill people and destroy property over, say, a satirical cartoon (as, well, you know that story...).

People like this have no moral authority, nor any hint of tolerance, reason or restraint in their hearts. When looking for "wrong" they need look no further than in the mirror.

PS: Get a life!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Special Shout-Out To My New Readaz

CentCom, the stateside military headquarters for the war in Iraq, has been reading blogs for accuracy. They have a small team dedicated to scanning the web and reading posts related to the war on terror. I’ve done a few of those here and there.

In instances where a blogger may post inaccuracies, CentCom will reportedly contact them and ask them to provide a link to CentCom’s site, where readers can get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on said story.

Yet, I imagine their site might at one time have posted the now-discredited story of the "heroic" death of
Pat Tillman. So, how can skeptics out there be sure the site is giving the real story? It’s not as if misinformation has never been intentionally used before in military conflicts cough Gulf of Tonkin cough USS Maine cough Iraqi WMDs.

Regardless, I’ve saved anyone the time of suggesting it to me and have posted a link to CentCom’s
site. Happy to do it. Go check it out for yourself.

I am tempted to deliberately post some misinformation here just to see if they’re reading me (e.g. Iraq really did have WMDs... what a larf!). It’d be an honor to know that some of our people in uniform are BogsBlog sloggaz! But I shan't.

To clarify, I never purposely publish misinformation. Well, misinformation that isn’t in the form of satire. But the rest, while it may disagree with the official version on some issues, is my own
carefully reasoned opinion.

Let's try to keep that in mind before you decide to come a-callin' at my door with rifles, eh, military blog observers?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pat Robeltson No Rikey Prastic Sulgely

During a strange televised conversation about plastic surgery last week, televangelist Pat Robertson said it makes some people appear to have “eyes like they’re Oriental.” Doesn't Pat know we don't use the term “Oriental” anymore? He should have said “Chinaman” instead!

Pat is obviously the Southern religious right’s answer to Archie Bunker. Jeez, yous Orientals are all cockeyed, there.

Pat certainly has no internal censor for his mouth. You see, while speaking your mind can be an admirable trait, sometimes saying what you think isn't a good idea.

I'm no proponent of plastic surgery, but Robertson's comment was out of line. All the more so because he did the stretched eyes thing with his hands as he was making it. Imagine if Joe Biden had done some funky walk or a “gimme five” gesture along with his
comments on Barack Obama!

It's time for Pat to say “solly.”

But the essence of what he said was correct. That is, that plastic surgery can have the opposite effect of that intended.

I'm rarely the first to notice when someone has had "work done," but the many pictures posted in relation to the story of Anna Nicole Smith's death made clear she had had surgery, and was worse off for it.

Above we see ANS on Valentine's Day 2005, looking how most of us do (and will) remember her. At right, a picture taken earlier this year – less than two years later – shows the "after" look. Obviously, her lips used to be disgustingly thin, and her cheekbones too prominent, causing her to make "improvements." Angelina Jolie, eat your heart out. Ahem. Yup, ANS sure looked like a million bucks after spending that much on her face.

Of course, the stringy hair (right) and some other attributes can also be due to drug use, but the coroner's still out on that. (And it's also off-topic.)

Long story short: Poorly performed, unnecessary plastic surgery = bad. Evoking racial stereotyping to point this out = worse.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Let's Liberate Saudi Arabia Next!

Some 20 people from various countries face floggings and prison time for cutting a rug in Saudi Arabia. Their swingin' soiree included alcohol, dancing and the intermingling of unrelated people of opposite sexes – all forbidden by Saudi law.

(One has to wonder what a "party" in Saudi Arabia would consist of, given the prohibition of said activities. "Pin the Tail on the Camel" can only be fun for so long. And "Spin the Scimitar" – we won't even go there.)

Saudi Arabia is well known for its draconian, dogmatic laws, which emanate from its monarchical government. This isn't the symbolic monarchy of today's United Kingdom, either, but the old school monarchy with absolute power of life and death over its subjects. The difference between "monarch" and "dictator" is indeed semantic.

Obviously, Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country that needs to experience the fruits of democracy. Which is why I have the following plea for President Bush:

Mr. President, please use your influence to bring democracy to the beleaguered people of Saudi Arabia. Call on Congress to approve funds for military action against that nation NOW! If a democratic Iraq makes us safer in the US, wouldn't a democratic Saudi Arabia do the same? Make up some stuff about an imminent threat from Saudi Arabia if you have to. Our future security, and many lucrative business contracts, depend on it.

PS: I just remembered the Saudi royals, brutal dictators though they may be, are close friends and business associates of the Bush Family. We won't hear a peep out of President Bush about any of this.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Why No Vaccine Against Ignorance?

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a consternative Republicant, has signed an order requiring school age girls in his state to receive vaccinations against a virus that can cause cervical cancer. The move is controversial because, although some see it as a common sense health measure, others see it as the government interfering with their families’ right to self-determination.

Parents who might not give the slightest protest to their children receiving measles shots for school have found reason to object to Gardasil, the vaccine developed to prevent HPV infection (the pesky virus that causes 70% of cervical cancers). HPV is sexually transmitted, you see.

What need would their kids have for such a vaccine, when they will most certainly abstain from intercourse until they marry someone who’s done the same?

More importantly, where is the deterrent against illicit sexual behavior? If we give girls something to prevent an STD, what’s to keep them from doing the Big Nasty? Isn’t this vaccine just encouraging them to go wild?

This new law boggles the mind.

I’ve felt for a long time, considering how some people welcome STDs (in other people) as sex deterrents or as “punishments from God for bad behavior,” that if a vaccine for a devastating disease like AIDS were ever developed, they’d do everything in their power to stop it from being implemented.

As with the HPV vaccine, they’d almost certainly object to their own children being vaccinated. Moreover, they’d be wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at the thought of all those homosexuals and fornicators out there being free to pursue their perversions without consequences. To come without fear of comeuppance – what kind of world would that be?! Call your state representative and put a stop to this vile substance!

People who wish to prevent the healing of sick people in order to further their own beliefs are perhaps the sickest people of all.

Monday, February 05, 2007

We Ain't Just Whistlin' Dixie

It’s happened here and in other Southern states before, and now it’s come back to my neck of the woods. The debate over whether the Confederate flag (aka the “Rebel flag”) is an appropriate symbol for official state use has returned to Florida.

A group called Sons of Confederate Veterans wants to put the Confederate flag on a state license plate, adding to the already growing field of Florida plates honoring hunters, manatees, sea turtles, panthers, pro-lifers, pro and college football teams, the arts, people with autism, breast cancer research, or one of the space shuttle disasters.

The group recently convinced the local county commission here to
declare 2007 the “Year of (Civil War General Robert E.) Lee,” much to the chagrin of most of the country’s residents. The impetus behind both the proclamation and the license plate is the 200th anniversary of Lee’s birth.

Many are opposed to any official use of the Confederate flag, due to its connection to the pre-Civil War slave-owning South. Proponents say they’re just trying to keep their Confederate heritage, of which they are proud, alive.

Personally, I think the War Between the States is one of the most shameful periods of our history, and can’t fathom the notion of keeping it alive through flags, reenactments and the like. Don’t bury it, but don’t celebrate it, either.

The war was not just about slavery, but about states’ rights to determine their own course – even when it involved owning other human beings. That is, states’ rights, even when those states were very wrong.

Driving to work each morning, I see bumper stickers decrying the “Northern War of Aggression” and claiming that the Civil War was the “other Holocaust” (for the South). This is the market for this Confederate plate, folks. Owners will proudly place their “3” (late racecar driver Dale Earnhardt) bumper stickers right next to it, I am sure.

There’s certainly still animosity about the North v. South thing alive in Dixie, even in 2007, and I’m not just basing this on a few bumper stickers. I’ve spent enough time in the South, and have heard the words of relatives and strangers alike. After all this time, it’s pathetic to be fondly clinging to a time of a racist, provincialist war. And I’m speaking as a man who was born in Georgia, though raised in New York and Florida.

Let your heroes be your heroes; no one can take that from you. You might think Adolf Hitler was “the shit,” where most of us just think he was shit. Let your revered symbols – which, in this case, symbolize shameful national and racial divisions of long ago – be your revered symbols, as well. Hang your Rebel flag in the back window of your pickup truck. Put one up on your porch. But don’t involve the rest of us through an official state recognition of it.