Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I think...

...that Subway should be forced to change the name of its "Veggie Delight" sandwich, due to the extremely misleading nature of the second part of the name.


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thank You for Smoking

Last night I went to see Thank You for Smoking with my friends Jason and Dave, and it was amazing. Funny, relevant, well-written, tasteful, all of the above. It's not in wide release, so you've got to search a little bit to find it, but do yourself a favor and seek it out. It's well worth it.


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A Clear Winner

There's not much to say about this:

The Senate Democratic leadership says it has found a wedge issue to strengthen the party’s position on abortion rights, which top strategists think has become a liability in recent years.

The wedge is legislation expanding access to contraceptives and sex education, which polls show a majority of Americans support but which Democrats are betting will be difficult for social conservatives in the Republican base to accept.

Go read the whole thing. It's very interesting, and seems like a clear winner to me. If Democrats start presenting themselves as the party that's serious about women's rights and personal responsibility when it comes to preventing abortions, rather than the supporters of wholesale abortion-on-demand that the Republicans have been trying to portray, then they're bound to pick up ground in the middle.


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The Politics of Personal Destruction

This issue is being hammered all over the liberal blogosphere, but I felt compelled to say something about it, because it's so representative of the vile crap that's done in politics all the time.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) has no shame:

Sitting in the oncology ward at Children’s National Medical Center on Jan. 19, retired Adm. Joe Sestak and his wife, Susan, awaited the doctors’ verdict about the condition of their 5-year-old daughter, Alexandra.

She had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor last summer and given three to nine months to live. The Sestaks lived for four months in the ward. They watched as their daughter survived three surgeries, and as she endured chemotherapy.


Weldon attacked Sestak’s decision to continue owning a home in Virginia while only renting in Pennsylvania and questioned why Sestak did not move back to Pennsylvania when he was working at the Pentagon. Weldon commutes from Pennsylvania each day.

Weldon also suggested Sestak should have sent his daughter to a hospital in Philadelphia or Delaware, rather than the Washington hospital. Sestak said that as soon as doctors give his daughter the all-clear, he’ll buy in Pennsylvania.

This is maybe the lowest, basest attack I've ever seen from any politician against a political rival. It's as though the fact that Sestak is running against Weldon gives Weldon carte blanche to say whatever the hell he pleases. There have been attacks that were less factually correct, but this one isn't a matter of facts. It's a matter of a slimeball bringing a 5-year-old with brain cancer into his crosshairs in the hopes of scoring some cheap political points. It's disgusting, and it makes me a little disappointed that I've ever set foot in the district that he represents.

Atrios has the whole roundup, and has added Joe Sestak to the Eschaton community list. Sestak's ability to weather this kind of attack with grace and dignity should show us all that he's already twice the candidate than Curt Weldon has ever been.

Of course, this looks all the worse in light of Tom Delay's recent condemnation of his opponents for using the politics of personal destruction, doesn't it?


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Tuesday, April 04, 2006


A lot of things have happened since last I blogged regularly on political issues. I stopped because I got the feel that it was somewhat futile, and like I was just adding my voice to an already unnecessarily large preponderance of blogs. But I've decided to write again for me, so that's that.

Here's my take on illegal immigration: If it didn't benefit the immigrants to come here illegally, they wouldn't do it. There are people making money hand over fist on the backs of illegal immigrants, and they're passing the savings on to us. If we were to build a wall, or kick out all of the illegal immigrants, or both, two things would happen. One, companies that employee illegal immigrants would no longer be able to support the prices they'd been charging for their products. In order to remain profitable, they'd have to raise prices, and that would hit every consumer in the country in the wallet. Two, the amount of money it would take to raise a wall along our whole southern border (because let's face it, when most people say "illegal immigrants," what they really mean is "Mexicans"), as well as to staff an increased border patrol would either force higher taxes upon us, or would force us as a country ever deeper into the already crippling, almost 14-digit debt that we've already accrued.

So what to do? So far as I can tell, what really gets people's goat about the issue (those who aren't closet racists, that is) is the illegal part. So make legal immigration easier and more attractive than illegal immigration. And punish companies that are found to employ illegal immigrants. That'd do it, wouldn't it? I guess it wouldn't address the oft-cited concerns about "preserving our American culture," but we all know what that really means, don't we?

As for the guest worker program, it's not an original thought on my part, but I happen to agree with the line of thinking that it's a horrendous idea, and would create a permanent underclass of resentful non-citizens, and we do not want that in the slightest. It's largely because of that that I applaud the Democrats for sticking up to Frist and the other blustery bullies in the Senate. Aside from the actual provisions of the proposed bill, with which I strenuously disagree, the Democrats' actions show me that they're interested in business, rather than in endless debate that doesn't result in a bill. They've set up a cloture vote on the bill proposed in committee (effectively barring the attachment of amendments until the vote is held), which makes perfect sense, because if the bill won't pass as is, it's unlikely to pass with a bunch of amendments attached to it.

It gets repeated often enough that it means basically nothing by now, but this country was built on the backs of immigrants, and it's being sustained on the backs of immmigrants. To throw that away because of some xenophobic commitment to whatever's meant by "American culture" is not just shortsighted; it's morally reprehensible.


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Tom DeLay

I'm not a religious man, and that's a subject I'll address in an upcoming "reflection" post. I don't have a reason to take offense to the man co-opting what I feel to be my religion, but for some reason it still turns my stomach to see the man claiming to have been doing God's work, and to get the support of the insanely un-Christian Religious Right.

It's probably just the pomposity, combined with the stubborn insistence that he did nothing wrong, and the slanderous accusations of this all being the result of some liberal conspiracy to take him out of the power structure. I'm not offended on behalf of Christianity. It's just that there's this self-righteous air about him every time he opens his mouth that makes me want to throw my head back and scream.


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Monday, April 03, 2006


Anybody know quickly how to fix the IE formatting problem that JP pointed out? I could probably figure it out, but it would take some time, and I don't feel like doing it. I feel like having it done for me.

You know what? I barely even feel like searching the internet for the solution that I could probably find in ten seconds flat. I just felt like writing a post to put up a couple of Technorati tags and see how they work for the first time.


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This probably isn't the best place to ask about how to get readership up, since not too many people will read this, but I'll ask anyway. What should I do? For a while I was leaving trackback links all over other sites when I'd link to them. Maybe that's something that I should do again, whenever I write posts on political issues, or issues dealing with current events.

But a lot of blogs have stopped using trackbacks, so I don't know if that would work as well. Maybe I can ping all the sites that I reference that do use trackbacks.

Another thing I can do, I guess, is to comment frequently and substantively on other blogs, and leave my own URL. Every time I do that, especially over at Decision '08, I notice a trickle of traffic coming in.

But beyond those two things, does anybody have any idea about what to do? Any ways that anybody knows of that I can whore myself out for traffic will be much appreciated.


Keep that good news comin'!

I guess this is just another example of the media loving to report on things that make it look like things are going badly in Iraq.

BAGHDAD -- A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq is running out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.


In January, Bowen's office calculated the American reconstruction effort would be able to finish only 300 of 425 promised electricity projects and 49 of 136 water and sanitation projects.
No chance that, you know, things might actually be going badly in Iraq, huh?


A Deepening Resolve

Those of you who know me know that I'm not a huge sports fan. I don't follow any sports religiously, and in general I don't really care much about them, but for the same reasons that Josh Marshall notes, the idea of being a fan of the New York Yankees has never been even remotely appealing to me. Since I was born in the Los Angeles area, I've been a fan of the Dodgers above any other team. I remember watching the 1988 World Series between the Dodgers and the Athletics, and I remember Kirk Gibson's amazing home run finishing Game 1 of the series. That was an amazing moment to be a Dodger fan. Hell, it was an amazing moment to be a doe-eyed little boy in love with the game at all.

But now I live in north Jersey, and allegiance here runs, I'd say, about 90% to the Yankees. That's why, during the 2004 ALCS, I decided that I'd support the Red Sox as well as the Dodgers. When I was in Boston in October, I bought a Red Sox hat that's been my cap of choice, when I wear one. But I wasn't prepared for the depth of feeling that goes along with being a Yankee fan in Jersey. Every time I wear my hat to my second job, I get several comments from several different folks about how it's disgusting that I'd wear it, or that I need to take it off, or just that Boston sucks. Some are in jest, and some have a little bit of sting to them. Yesterday I even got a little bit of water poured on me for wearing a Boston hat on opening day.

So I've decided that I've got to become a total Red Sox fan (unless the Dodgers decide to pick it up and actually, you know, do something). I'm still not that interested in baseball, and I won't go home and watch all the games, but the idea of rankling the Jersey folks appeals to me.

Now I've just got to find the materials to make a Derek Jeter voodoo doll to leave at work this week.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

New Haven, Old Friends

I spent the night in New Haven on Saturday night, visiting with some old friends from high school. It's funny how the conversation can consist about eighty percent of sentences beginning, "Hey, remember when..." but it still doesn't get old.

I had seen a few of these folks a couple of weeks ago, but my best friend from high school was there last night, and I hadn't seen him for about three years. It was really nice to hang with him again, and entertaining in more ways than one. I've told some folks about the conversational highlight of the night, and since it would probably not be appropriate for.....well, for anywhere, I won't write it here. Suffice it to say that it shocked me, and that's not easy to do.

I don't really have a point to this post, per se; I only mean to emphasize that it's a wonderful feeling when you can fall back into stride in five minutes with people you haven't seen for five years.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

Pacific Time

I went out to a bar with some buddies last night to see a band play. The bassist for the band was a friend of my buddy Kevin, so that's how we knew of the gig. The place was...well, it was interesting, let's say. It was called The Rail, and only a chain link fence separated it from the nearby NJ Transit station, and the intermittent roar of the trains.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in was a midget playing video poker. Though it's something you don't see every day, there was nothing wrong with it. It was just a little odd. Right after the midget, though, I saw an old man, with a full head of white hair, desperately making out with a girl who I'd guess was about two-fifths of his age (I'd guess he was in his mid-60s, she was in her mid-20s). Eli was convinced that the girl was a prostitute. It was quite unsettling, and we chose our seats well outside viewing range of those two. But it didn't matter, since throughout the night they decided to reposition themselves all over the bar. It was as if he said to her, "Now that we've made out for 20 minutes at Position A, let's move to Position B." It was awkward and sad and uncomfortable and wet, and I didn't like it at all.

Jon-Paul and I went to order some beers, and a guy sitting at the bar suggested that we try some Heineken Light. We're no slouches, so it became pretty quickly apparent that this guy was an employee of Heineken, paid to sit in the corner and suggest Heineken Light to people as they order drinks. We humored him, and for our trouble he gave us free t-shirts and keychain flashlights. Hell, that woulda been worth the $3.50 even without the beer!

Kevin's friend's band was supposed to play at 10:30, so we made sure to get there in plenty of time. We had had a big dinner at a Costa Rican restaurant earlier, and we got to The Rail right around 10 or so, I'd say. To make a long (and boring) story short, the guys didn't end up going on until about 1:30, by which time most of us were pretty much done being in the mood to sit around, drink beer, and listen to bands we didn't know (at least they weren't cover bands, though).

All in all it was a fun night, though. There was this one guy walking around the bar trying to surreptitiously slip his straw into people's drinks with a very obvious, "Hey, look over there!" line. It was all in good fun, though, and the guy was pretty interesting. He had at least 10 facial piercings, including two-inch long clear plastic spikes straight through each cheek. He told us that he was a fire eater, and that he could have put my arm down his throat, not unlike sword swallowers at carnivals. When Eli remarked that he would have laughed if that happened, the guy said (and I quote), "That's not your friend. Your friend would have got your arm out of my mouth."

Good times.