Friday, November 30, 2007

Sudanese Teddy Bears Call for Death Penalty

KHARTOUM, Sudan (TPWK) - Claiming that an indignity has been imposed upon one of their own, hardline Teddy Bears and other stuffed toys are calling for the beheading death of a grade school class that named a teddy bear Mohammed, after the famed prophet of the Muslim religion.

Thousands of protestors, led by hardline teddy bear Ruxpin Al-Sadaar, stormed the presidential palace early Friday. Some brandished machetes and threatening signs, while others carried rainbow wands with mysterious magical powers. Elsewhere, prayer-oriented protests were held in closets and toyboxes across the minority teddy bear nation.

"Teddy bears are descendants of the kingdom of caring," said Al-Sadaar. "To name us after a mythical lunatic rapist who pretended God spoke to him is an insult of the highest order. These children must be destroyed for their blaspheme against the plush gods."

Other voices in the region urged calm, noting that the children in the classroom were no older than seven years old.

"This is unquestionably an unspeakable offense," noted moderate cleric Paddington Ahmed-Ajab. "But this represents an opportunity for correction. These kids children be powerful voices for submission to lifeless stuffed animals, which is extremely important for obvious reasons."

Ahmed-Ajab recommends severe caning for all students involved in the incident.

Al-Sadaar has categorically rejected the compromise. "They might as well have named him Hitler. Death is the only justice," he noted at a recent rally in Rillonia, a majority-bear region recently shaken by the assassination of Kissyfur Shariq.

In America, reform-minded stuffed actor Kermit Al-Fraag, himself a persecuted member of the minority puppet sect, spoke at an ad hoc summit of religious leaders in an attempt to rally international support for the threatened children.

"If we are to maintain our identity, we cannot lose our humanity," said Al-Fraag to thunderous applause. "Stuffed animals and humans most learn to co-exist, or we will surely lose both."

Sudanese officials have offered conflicting reports about the teddy bear uprising, and have not stated whether they intend to forge a compromise solution with the bears. The students are presently being held in their respective homes, and are not permitted to come in contact with any stuffed animals, even during naptime.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kitten: You make everything wrong

Hey, kitten, I have a question for you.

Why do you haunt my soul? I was just, wondering, you know, why you would do that. I mean, go into my dreams and steal my joy and memories of my father. It seems abnormal for a kitten to do that, what with your being cute and furry and all.

I mean, yeah, I get it. You are something of a dark prince, and that's ironic given that you seem a harmless kitten. But, I mean, could I ask you to stop? I don't haunt your soul.

Look, I'm not telling you how to do your job. I'm just saying that, as a kitted, it might be mutually beneficial if you didn't reach into my hear and slash my happiness and fondness of chicken wings with your kitten claws of malaise. Just sayin'. Don't think I'm being unreasonable here.






Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rage Against the Inconsequential Piffle

Has any institution become less relevant that the Rolling Stone album review section? If you have some time, go to and take a gander. See what I mean?

The star-rating system, which makes no distinction between the works of Sigur Ros and Britney Spears, is beyond useless, leaving the reviewers to explain how an album made them feel. Or not. Here is the introduction to a review of Seal's most recent album, which received three and 1/2 stars (the same rating every album receives from RS).

'Like electromas-sager chairs, Designing Women reruns and detachable shower nozzles, Seal CDs are engineered to get his fans through the long, lonely winter months."

Ummmm... What? First of all, I spent several minutes wondering if their was some sort of obscure chair that only hipster music journalists know about. Turns out, it's a damn typo (should read "electromassager"), not that this correction lends clarity to the situation. I appreciate the occassionaly reach into the goody-bag of pop miscellany, but this reaches new heights of abitrariness. He could just as well have compared the album to a Dradel or an escaped orangutan. See how easy it is?

Gregory Peck! Isn't it so, so ironic that I would just reference his name out of the blue?

When it comes to musical opinions, the reviewers are often curiously off the mark. The magazine famously missed the boat on Led Zeppelin, which is forgivable. But their contemporary analyses seem unlikely to hold up to history. Take this dismissal, again by Sheffield of Sufjan Stevens' haunting "John Wayne Gacy Jr." from the "Illinois" album.

"For another, there's the inevitable song about the serial killer who dresses up as a clown, which symbolizes nothing about American life except the existence of creative-writing workshops."

Setting aside the question of whether a song about a serial killing clown is "inevitable" (is it really inevitable, or is inevitability necessary for Sheffield's glib repose?) or whether Stevens intends his song to symbolize American life, is Sheffield aware that John Wayne Gacy Jr. was, in fact, a real serial killer who dressed up like a clown. If anything, Stevens downplays the perversity of the Gacy's clown act. His matter of fact delivery makes the song all the more haunting, especially in light of the song's final insight. I'm not a big Sufjan fan, but I have difficulty finding ways in which this song isn't good.

All this pretention from a critic whose novel is entitled "Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time".

RS critics have a habit of pondering lyrics, or rather eloquating ponderously about lyrics, often with hilarious results. Of Tori Amos' icicle, a song that is famously (and obviously) about female self... Um, inurement, writer Marie Elsie St. Leger delcares that it is about rape and molestation. One wonders if they listen to the albums.

But beyond the inaccuracy, conceit, and flawed musical opinion (yes, there is such a thing... See: Fans of Nickelback) there is an utter detachment between the review and the reviewed. The reviewers offer (ostensibly) wry observations about this or that element of an album, obsess over details such as voice alteration during productionand who played backup guitar on which track, etc... Then, they offer no real verdict on the album's merit, much less a recommendation as to whether it should be purchased.

The reviewers would likely argue that they are journalists covering the music industry, and albums are a component of that industry. But how does a Designing Women reference inform us of what Seal is accomplishing (or not) with his latest release? Why accompany the reviews with a star rating?

Why, then, do puppet-artists like Justin Timberlake get off the hook for an utter lack of compelling anything, while a band like Snow Patrol is berated for occassional derivativeness (a valid criticism, by the way). Perhaps the reviews are emblematic of the bifurcation between editorial content, which is mostly devoted to informing fans whenever Kanye West so much as passes gas, and the form and purpose of standard critique.

Reviewers for other venues (notably The Onion AV Club) manage to balance pithy prose with insight, which speaks to the central question. Can a remarkably unobservant magazine plausibly engage in a practice that consists of astute observation? What is the point? Perhaps, like MTV before it, Rolling Stone will eventually abandon any connection to actual music, choosing instead to focus on the personalities who comprise the music industry. That is up to their editors.

But as the leading music publication in the United States, one would hope they would use their influence to introduce their substantial readership to good music. Why wouldn't they?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Musings: Michigan Edition

Hurray for Michigan, where sadness has it's own curator. Let's do this.

The trip to Michigan sort of reminds me of the Bell Curve. You begin in rural Wisconsin, work your way to Madison, peaking Northwest of Chicago before trolling through the infamous Gary, Indiana on the way to the abyss. I suppose that's more of a ski jump than a bell curve, but we stopped at an Indiana gas station, and boy was that a pastiche of the damned. It's like I wandered onto the stage of a Tarsem music video.


There are vineyards everywhere. Apparently, rural western Michigan has decided that it's wine country. I'll stick with Napa, thanks.


The key to an efficient road trip is to take the first pee break as late as possible in the trip. Once you break the seal, you have to go every 90 minutes. In a car of four people, that means someone has to go every 22.5 minutes. The math is just terrible. I'm now convinced that California and Maine are only five hours away from each other, plus about 46 hours of pee breaks.


My wife is a Packer fan. I am a Lions fan. On Thanksgiving, we looked forward to watching the teams play each other. But this is Michigan, so my mother makes 2:00 reservations for Thanksgiving Dinner at the pretentiously-named Cafe Lux. Wow, what people will allow themselves to be fed in Battle Creek. $9.95 got me a hearty meal of instant mashed-potatoes and lunchroom cafeteria turkey, all topped with yellow (so help me God, yellow) gravy that congealed on my plate like a breast implant.

As a nice, homey touch, the restaurant opted to serve our dollops of cranberry sauce in the little plastic containers (lid on), as though it were a dip for chicken strips or something. My brother noted that we would probably read about the meal on my blog. Of course. Jerks like me are the reason restaurants like Cafe Lux can't get away with feeding their customers as though they are homeless cats. That's the point. Restaurant sucks, I whine, people read, restaurant goes bankrupt. It's the circle of life, and I'm the damn lion king.


Later in the weekend, I propose that we make a family meal. Between my wife, my brother, my sister, my mother and my six year old niece (who, apparently, subsists on a diet of gummy worms and Cheetos) there is literally no possible combination of ingredients that could coagulate into a meal without offending someone's culinary sensibilities. The solution? Applebees, Western Michigan's answer to Le Cirque.


My sister has been "chatting" with a fellow from Tennessee. How shallow is the Michigan gene pool when women are looking to Tennessee for dating solutions?


My sister is out of towels because her daughter's boyfriend and his friend stopped by for a shower after flag football and used the towels. I think that goes quite a ways toward answering the question above, doesn't it?


There is a stretch from Southern Michigan to Chicago where literally every single billboard is for casinos. Every single one. No McDonalds, no truck stops, not even an "oriental spa". Just casinos. Depressing. If Michigan is the president of the society of unlivable states, Indiana has to be like, treasurer.


Until next time on superfriends...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Season Reasoning

This is the time of year when we are all reminded about the reason for the season, largely because reason rhymes with season, and that sets the hearts of simpletons aflutter. But what is the reason for the season?

First of all, for those of us in the marketing world, the holidays are the absolute worst time for business. As such, we are asked to make financial sacrifices and gorge ourselves decadently at the precise time when our jobs are the least stable. As such, it has been quite some time since I have been able to enjoy Christmas and misc. on any sort of puerile, commodified level.

Then there is the REAL reason for the season. According to my high school textbook, Thanksgiving celebrates the massacre of Native Americans by white imperialists. I'm thankful for that (and you are too, tsk-tskers) but why does this compel me to spend literally a full day traveling? Wasn't the idea that we sort of assimilated ourselves, built farms, and let smallpox do the dirty work?

Of course, Christmas commemorates the non-birthdate of our savior, Jesus Christ. Naturally, we commemorate this non-birthdate by decorating non-trees with bejeweled non-sense, which is difficult to find time for when you are trekking across the country to visit relatives (who, if they really cared about you, would live in your proximity, if you think about it, but thinking about it requires that you recognize the vice-versa inherent in that argument, which again is compelling you to trek across the country in the first damn place) in order to commemorate those Indians not yet dead by way of smallpox or Leinenkugels by eating a turkey, which may or may not be dry and inedible.

But yes, the real reason for the season, spoken or otherwise, is to give credence to this nation's arbitrary fixation on the extended family unit. We smash ourselves together, eat a lot of food (so as to keep us from having to talk to each other), exchange gifts (so as to give us something to talk about, when the unfortunate need arises) and generally pretend that things are not the way they are for a fixed period, until we are allowed to go home.

The remainder of the season, which has come to consume now two months (16.67%) of our existence per annum, is devoted to the planning of the aforementioned. Gifts are purchased, relatives are negotiated with (or otherwise placated), baby appearances are promised or not promised, dependent on schedules. Everyone over-anticipates and under-delivers. Misery ensues. God is glorified, or is forced to pretend as much, I suppose. He invented us, after all; he can fake it, can't he? How Molinist.

If it sounds cynical, consider this... I was asked this week whether it might make sense to spend Thanksgiving apart from my wife, the only person I have ever loved by choice, in order to fulfill the obligations above. If this is the real reason for the season, then we need a different rhyming scheme.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday Musings

Jerry Seinfeld has a bee movie... I have Monday Musings. Let's do this....

My favorite pseudo-theologian has an appropriate holiday screed against... You guessed it... Food banks! If all those idiots volunteering at food banks would only storm D.C. (and, you know, help Democrats get elected), then we wouldn't have to worry about hunger because government would take care of it. That is literally the thesis of his piece. I have no words.


Well, I have some words, but they'd earn me free dinner, if you catch my drift.


Presidents Ahmadinejad and Chavez spent this weekend trying to talk down the dollar, suggesting that oil should trade on the Euro. For those who consider the question of whether Iran and Venezuela are our enemies to be unsettled, that should about settle it.

Of course, they are enemies of Democracy and freedom as well. For some of us, that is the same thing.


Caught an Internet video, titled "Cat vs. Ceiling Fan". The title says it all. Naturally, the cat does not win. Of course, a part of us is pleased by this outcome, to see a cat tortured and (in our view) humiliated. What is it about cats, idiotic beasts that they are, that makes us revel in their displeasure? Like all animals, cats are driven by their own impulses. They are no more conceited than dogs or mice.

Not a tsk-tsking. I'll only take my cats with a healthy dose of agony.


Karl Rove (yes that Karl Rove) reveals an interesting anecdote about his interraction with Hillary Clinton:

"I inherited her West Wing office. Shortly after the 2001 Inauguration, I made a little talk saying I appreciated having the office because it had the only full-length vanity mirror in the West Wing, which gave me a chance to improve my rumpled appearance. The senator from New York confronted me shortly after and pointedly said she hadn't put the mirror there. I hadn't said she did, just that the mirror was there. So a few weeks later, in another talk, I repeated the story about the mirror. And shortly thereafter, the junior senator saw me and, again, without a hint of humor or light in her voice, icily said she'd heard I'd repeated the story of the mirror and she … did … not … put … that mirror in the office."

He might be making it up, or he might be embellishing, but the story rings true nonetheless. Read the whole thing. It's more interesting than anything you'll hear from Paul Begala, that's for sure, and he's absolutely right.


The floor directly above me is presently under construction. Everything is hammers, sanders, drills, and radiators falling to the floor. In the meantime, there's pumpkin pie on the main conference room at 3p. It's like an episode of "The Office" directed by Darren Aronofsky.


Screw this. I'm done.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Everything is racist right now

On December 7, in Northern California, three black men broke into a house. Racism ensued. Read the whole thing Selected excerpts (with responses) below.

Three young black men break into a white man's home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death — but it's the surviving black man who is charged with murder.

Which is why you don't rob houses. But yes, you deliberately perform actions that contribute to death, you get charged with murder. I have no particular problem with this. But, then, I don't break into houses.

In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county.

Because any black person committing a crime in an overwhelmingly white county must automatically go free. It's sort of like Indian reservations in reverse.

Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson.

Just including this to note that nobody disputes these facts, which is mind-boggling, considering what follows.

Hughes was charged with first-degree murder under California's Provocative Act doctrine, versions of which have been on the books in many states for generations but are rarely used.

In other words, it's racist to invoke a doctrine because it is infrequently cited. My solution? Cite the damn doctrine more often. Problem solved.

The NAACP complained that prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes, who also faces robbery, burglary and assault charges.

All he did was break into a house, beat a man with a baseball bat, and try to steal drugs. Geeeeeez, don't be so hard on him. Anyone interested in having this dude walk the streets in your neighborhood, raise your hands. What, no hands? Didn't think so.

The Rev. Amos Brown, head of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and pastor at Hughes' church, said the case demonstrates the legal system is racist

But, naturally, provides no evidence. The presence of white people is sufficient to be deemed racist.

Brown and other NAACP officials are asking why the homeowner is walking free.

Well, the reason would be that he didn't break into a house. Seriously, does the idea that anyone would seek to put you in prison for defending your home provoke a shutter for anyone else? There are those (in the name of racial equality, of course) who would ask homeowners to take a moment and observe the situation before making the decision to defend themselves.

This man had no business killing these boys," Brown said. "They were shot in the back. They had fled.

Boys? They were in their 20s. If you can be a 22 year-old boy, then there are no men. If someone breaks into my house, I am going to do my able best to kill them. Not scare them away, but kill them. Don't want to get killed? Why, bake me cookies instead of breaking into my house. If I find you on my property, you'd better have cookies, or I'm going Republican on your ass. See those American cars sitting in my driveway? Don't !@#$ with me.

Edmonds' stepson, Dale Lafferty, suffered brain damage from the baseball bat beating he took during the melee.

Keep this in mind now, as you read this...

"Hughes' mother, San Francisco schoolteacher Judy Hughes, said she believes the group didn't intend to rob the family, just buy marijuana. "

And I suppose they intended to exchange baseball equipment for the drugs. Perhaps they were simply trying to demonstrate the equipment's effectiveness.

Hughes adds:

Only God knows what happened in that house,

Really? Because I have a pretty clear picture. Your son and two of his lowlife friends wanted to steal some marijuana, even if it meant killing some hippie wine-makers at 4 am. In the process of stealing the drugs, they beat a man nearly to death. In turn, the man's father in law shot your son's lowlife friends (whose loss is marginal, at best). Am I the recipient of divine revelation, or did I just apply common sense, here?

I mean, maybe Pat Buchanan or some purple racism trolls joined the melee. I'll concede that possiblity, but I'm pretty sure everything went down just about as I described it. And forgive me if I am more concerned for the plight of the brain-damaged son than I am torn over the question of whether your miscreant son deserves 25 years or life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Disturbing Roommate Conversation

(phone rings)

Kevin: Hello?

Leroy: Hey, can I borrow a catapult?


(phone rings)

Kevin: Hello?

Leroy: Seriously, though, can I.

Kevin: Okay, two things. First of all, and I should think this would be obvious, I do not own a catapult. Second, there are very few things you can achieve with a catapult that are legal.

Leroy: Okay. I guess I'll have to make one.

Kevin: I don't like the idea of you having a catapult.

Leroy: I need it for Frownsy?

Kevin: Whose Frownsy?

Leroy: My dog. Duh.

Kevin: That isn't your dog's name.

Leroy: Frownsy, Reynold, whatever. I'm gonna need some rope and a frying pan.

Kevin: So, am I to assume that the plan is to catapult your dog for some reason?

Leroy: Well, yeah...

Kevin: Where's Krista at on this?

Leroy: She's totally on board.

Kevin: I doubt that on many levels.

Leroy: The other night, we were watching Two and a Half Men, and I asked "wouldn't it be cool if we had a flying dog?" And she said "yeah".

Kevin: You have quite the low bar as it relates to matters of assent.

Leroy: So today it hit me. We should catapult Frownsy.

Kevin: Which again, not your dog's name.

Leroy: Is that really important right now?

Kevin: Where do you plan to do this?

Leroy: Right in the front yard. I figure I can get him to clear the roof, which would be pretty good for him, I think.

Kevin: Your logic is incontrovertable.

Leroy: As always. Do you have scissors?

Kevin: I wash my hands of this.


Three hours later.

Phone rings

Kevin: How'd it go?

Leroy: Mixed results. A real learning experience. We're going to have to repaint the stucco.

Kevin: I'll get my power washer.

Leroy: And a spatula if you have it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Musings

Global warming hits Minnesota! Let's do this.

Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani for president. I suspect this is Robertson's attempt to remain relevant by making an unorthodox endorsement at a peculiar time. I'm not thrilled about Giuliani, but cannot, for the life of me, see how the majority of the American people prefer Hillary over Rudy, so I understand Robertson's point. What surprises me, though, is that someone who has claimed that his energy smoothie allowed him to lift 2,000 pounds would be taken seriously by the press, even as a codified strawman of the Christian right.

It seems that the only people who can make news are those who make our eyes roll with their perpetual social intransigence. There is no news agency that is any longer interested in anything that could reasonably be called news.


A deer recently broke into the polar bear exhibit at the Pittsburgh zoo, rousing interest from aforementioned bears. According to an AP story, animal lovers of some stripe rescued the deer, subdued the polar bears, and promptly euthanized the deer, for reasons that only animal lovers understand. So, if they were just going to kill the deer anyway, why not let the bears have at it? Saves money on food, gives everyone a show, drives attendance. Everyone wins. Except, um, the deer... For obvious reasons.


So, I tried to do a simple thing this weekend. I wanted to order a movie on pay-per-view. This technology has been available for, what, twenty years? But no, the software was on the fritz, and Direct TV couldn't deliver. Why am I paying twice as much to have poorer service for fewer channels than my parents did? Can somebody explain that to me?


By now, everyone has seen those ubiquitous adds with the dancing aliens, private investigators, silhouette figures, or whatever character the morons who design these ads thing will be compelling... At any rate, I finally decided to follow the link. Turns out, is owned by Experian, the same people who helpfully determine your credit score. How in the hell is that legal.

I mean don't get me wrong. As regular readers know, I think that mortgage brokers are the most reputable people in the world. But, I mean, does our nation even have laws anymore? Has nobody considered this? No wonder nobody is interested in the American dollar.


Recent conversation between me and my wife (in synopsis form)

Me: Well, I guess my family is staying in Michigan for Thanksgiving, and my brother is going as well. I really think we should go, since we haven't spent a holiday there yet.

My wife: (convulsing and sobbing) Oh God, oh God, oh God...

Me: Yeah, there's a reason I drink.


In related news, does anyone own a mouth-sized handgun? Or at least some damn vicodin or opium? Ugh, Michigan is enough to make me a libertarian


One gets the feeling that the LIons are going be sitting on the six win total for quite a while. Way to blow you chance, kitties. At least I'm not a Vikings fan. What the hell was that game all about? I think I heard the score from "The Exorcist" in the background midway through the third quarter.

(cue Porky Pig, studdering like an autistic poet on meth) That's all folks.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Welcoming the brand new iSuck

So my co-worker got a brand new iPhone, the latest marketing campaign, er, technology offered by the Apple corporation. My co-worker, we'll call her Gertrude, or Gerty for short, was ready to put her new toy to work!

To begin utilizing Apple's intuitive, one-step setup process, Gerty simply popped in her iPhone, which prompted the following message:

"Cannot intialize setup right now. Please try again later."

How remarkably straightforward! Not like some incomprehensible, passive aggressivemessage about fatal errors at X28$$ violations. Just a simple "we don't work right now, so !@#$ off!"

So Gerty tried again later, and got the same message. And again, and again. Confused, Gerty decided to take advantage of Apple's award winning customer service. The award winning customer service technician was awfully confused, this being the first time anything has ever gone wrong with any Apple product throughout the history of the company.

The award winning customer service technician asked her to restart her computer or try a different computer. Gerty helpfully explained that she had been unable to activate the phone for two days, and that she had tried this step... Repeatedly...

The technician took her through a variety of simple steps, having her remove iTunes, iPhoto, iWrite, iSpeak, iBreathe, iUrinate, iProcreate, and assorted other programs. Unfortunately, after this highly convenient process, the darn thing still wouldn't activate. Baffled, the award winning customer service technician referred Gerty to an Mac store.

Unfortunately, the Mac store did not have any appointments available, which again, was highly extraordinary, given that the entire suite of Apple products are highly intuitive and error-free. Of course, sometimes people make appointments just to personally rave about Apple products, so Gerty decided to go to iMinnetonka to the iMall just before the iStore opened.

Luckily, Gerty was the second one in line. The award-winning in-store service technician was also unable to activate the phone, so they placed a call to another award winning customer-service representative, who was unable to provide a solution.

After twenty minutes, the award-winning customer service team discovered the problem. The activation center for the entire Midwest is down, and had been for days. How blissfully trouble-free! The award-winning in-store customer service technician recommend that Gerty continue trying over the coming weeks.

In the interim, Gerty found a valuable use for her iPhone. It makes the perfect tray for her old phone, which is still in use.

In the interim, another co-worker crafted a newer, better iPhone with equal functionality.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Whither Ron Paul? (Part two)

On health care, Paul predictably wants government out. Fair enough. However, he is also concerned that alternative remedies and dietary supplements are under attack by the FDA. This issue is another popular plaything among constitutionalists, but really doesn’t show up on any voter’s radar screen. Paul would be better served directing his concerns toward nationalized health care, which has the potential to make many of his worst fears come to light.

Ron Paul emphasizes his commitment to home-schooling, but his viewpoint is not substantially different from the of any other Republican. He believes it should be allowed, and that the Dept. of Education should keep its grubby hands off it. This is a positive, but not differentiating.

On abortion, Ron Paul is highly credible. He would rightly forbid the courts from interceding against state legislation protecting the unborn, a holistic approach that simultaneously address the systemic problem of judicial overreach. Now that abortion gong-clanger Sam Brownback is out of the picture, perhaps Paul’s abortion message can brim to the surface.

Paul demonstrates his libertarian credentials on the issue of privacy. While I am sympathetic to his concerns over governmental access to private records, I find the Patriot Act to be an imminently sensible compromise between the need to protect both privacy and security. Paul goes even further in criticizing the use of Social Security Numbers and opposing a national ID. While this might win him votes with Christian dispensationalists, he is really making a mountain out of a molehill here.

Ron Paul (like most conservatives) is adamantly for property rights, but seems to ignore the fact that this issue is lost in the courts. This should give him an opportunity to craft a theme around judicial overreach, which would encompass his abortion position as well. Instead, he again alludes to the NAFTA superhighway.

Surprisingly, Paul wants to preserve Social Security. For one who has been credited for his ideological consistency, this is a curious position. He takes the “lockbox” approach, which is nothing new, and ignores the central reality that the whole enterprise was an ill-advised ponzi scheme.

On the whole, Ron Paul is not the worst possible candidate, nor is he as far aloof as his reputation suggests. For me, my qualms with his candidacy are not about problematic policy, but problematic politics. The election of Ron Paul will be a validation of his ideas, for better or worse. Will he devote his time to reforming the courts (a noble goal), or trying to disband the FDA (less so)?

His allusions to a superhighway project that does not exist make me wonder how he will approach, for example, a domestic terrorist attack. If George W. Bush has been accused of using terrorism as a means of achieving his desired foreign-policy ends, how much moreso must we worry about a man who wants to dismantle (or reinvent) the federal reserve? He dangles the prospect of unelected national leadership as a means of opposing very sensible trade agreeements. His scare tactics strike me as disingenuous more than extreme.

As he gains credibility and traction, Ron Paul will need to substantially address these concerns. Relieved of his “unelectable” cloak, he will suddenly be accountable to his more radical ideas, and will have to either defend or disavow them, and explain to the American people how he will (or won’t) achieve these ends.

Until that point, while I can safely say that Ron Paul is bringing valuable items to the discussion, I cannot personally endorse his candidacy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Whither Ron Paul? (Part one)

Ron Paul, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, claims to have raised $4 million in 24 hours through an online fundraising drive. While this claim is specious (to say the least), Paul has managed to become one of the most discussed candidates in either party in spite of his fringe-worthy polling numbers.

A number of conservative are embracing Paul as an ideologically consistent alternative to the new crop of Republican populists, whose penchant for excess helped deliver Congress to the Democrats this past November. While he has acquired a reputation as being somewhat of a loon, supporters are quick to point out that his stances on immigration, abortion and taxes are well within the confines of the conservative canon.

As such, he is starting to gain momentum, and so I thought it might be worth examining Ron Paul’s candidacy.

For starters, I outright reject the questions of electability. As it presently stands, it is Hillary against the field. If she runs a successful campaign, and can make people stop hating her for just one Tuesday, she will win. But she has a strong, um, likability issue to contend with. How many women could I call a bitch on this blog without getting taken out for dinner? I wouldn’t even get free coffee out of the deal. She has a perception problem.

Hillary is Plan A. If Plan B is Ron Paul, then Ron Paul will be president.

The only monkey wrench in this plan is if the Dobson crew, in one last quixotic attempt juryrig an election, manages to sway enough Christian voters to support a third-party candidate. But Ron Paul is pro-life, Christians aren’t stupid, and Dobson is likely simply bluffing in an attempt to dissuade the Republican establishment from supporting Rudy Giuliani, which is not an altogether unreasonable goal.

So, if elected, what does Ron Paul want to accomplish? Well, Ron Paul is for American independence. That seems incontrovertible, but his vision of independence entails backing out of every major trade organization (NAFTA, CAFTA et al...), under the auspice of taking power away from unelected foreign elites.

His website also references the apocryphal “NAFTA Superhighway”, adding a conspiratorial bent to his concept of American independence that is ill-suited to presidential ambitions. He wants to end our membership in the United Nations, which is sensible, but should executed by way of a multi-phased process.

The issue that has garnered the most traction, of course, is Paul’s principled opposition to the Iraq War. However, Paul gives little further hint as to how he would approach foreign policy. He distances himself from isolationists, choosing rather to lament our ties to corrupt regimes. Paul’s criticisms are valid, but backward thinking. On the question of a nuclear Iran, Paul believes that this development would be no big deal. I beg to differ, and would ask what he might consider to be a big deal. How does Paul deal with big deals? He doesn't really say.

Paul takes a tough stand on immigration, pledging to deny amnesty to existing illegal immigrants and to spend money to secure our borders. This is a common-sense position, one that has eluded many Republicans, who count on Chamber of Commerce support to deliver votes (and donations) from business-owners. That his position is unique amongst his party rivals is troubling indeed.

Ron Paul supports lower taxes, which is good. He also wants to eliminate the Federal Reserve, a popular position of the Constitution party, but one with hair-raising implications. Monetary policy is a delicate thing, and “we the people” don’t have a single clue about it. A single disastrous decision will send our economy cascading into an inflationary depression. That’s why we have a representative democracy, and not a direct one.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Musings

Belated, I know, but necessary nonetheless.

Took a jaunt with the wifey to Duluth over the weekend. Duluth is the only town I know that promotes an industrial landscape as a tourist attraction. Honey, let's go look at the lift bridge! Isn't that so, so romatic! Look at the barge, and the haze, and the sulfur! Mother nature in her full glory!

Had a good time, though. I had a wild rice burger. Isn't that just so quirky of me?


The Lions are 6-2. In related news, the prophet Ezekiel has been hanging around the street corner lately. Weird guy. Smokes a LOT.


Apparently, Northwest Airlines is talking about merger possibilities. I guess this is something we are supposed to be unhappy about. I would be ecstatic. No NWA means we would no longer be subject to the airline's gruesome hub monopoly strategy. Local leaders would not kowtow to NWA interests, allowing competitor Sun Country to grow, and buy a greater share of gate space.

Northwest recently had it's most profitable quarter in a decade, which it achieved by declaring bankruptcy, slashing pay, and providing a laughably horrendous end-product. It is the perfect example of capitalism gone wrong, so let it become a victim of the system it has so cheaply exploited.


Ah, it's school levy referendum season. Smell it in the air. This is the time of year when schools threaten to cut whatever program they think will extract the most money from exasperated voters who are understandably leery of a public school system that will immediately spend every time.

I remember when the Richfield school district duped resident into passing a bond referendum. The school immediately went to work adding three brand new entrances, which cost more than $1,000,000 combined. Meanwhile, the school's test scores are on par with Minneapolis schools. Good thing they have those huge entrances, or their idiot students might not be able to find the school.


Magoos is no more! Regular readers may recall my diatribe against what was apparently an apocryphal new bar opening right below my work. Apparently, the sign that said "Coming Soon: Magoos" was jumping the gun, as the owners of the proposed project failed to secure funding for yet another trashy nightclub.

I like to think that the reason for this is that the prospective owners read my blog, and realized that they lost the hearts and minds of the city's thought leadership.


First snow! Flurries of God's judgment comin' at ya!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Top Ten Fridays - Cats

Hey guys, here are my favorite cats. I like them all

10. Bill the cat

9. Garfield

8. Heathcliff

7. Peter's Cat Franklin

6. Smartycat

5. Garfield

4. Fritz the cat

3. Cat's that have no soul

2. Garfield

1. Garfield*

* - I get to count Garfield four times because he has been in two movies!