February 29, 2008


I just might wanna Ralph

My rarely-comments-on-this-blog sister sent me a link to this column by Neil Steinberg in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Just in case any Democrat is laboring under the illusion that winning the White House this year will be easy now that the Republicans are pinning their hopes on John "Bush's War is My War" McCain, up from the ash heap of history pops gadfly consumer advocate Ralph Nader, announcing he is ready to make his fifth, count 'em, fifth run for the presidency.

Sure, the dust of the tomb is upon him. Sure, his appeal is strictly limited to anti-corporate fanatics or anti-Israel zealots, the type of campus-bound leftie who reads Adbusters and wears a keffiyeh. But that is a tiny-yet-significant fraction of the Democratic Party, and in a tight race it could matter, as the nation discovered to its woe in 2000, when Nader helped George Bush swipe Al Gore's victory.

Any citizen can run for president, and while most perennial candidates are Harold Stassen-esque jokes, Nader is a special case -- deadly earnest, and drawing down his last reserves of attention and respect, based on the consumer activist movement he sparked some 40 years ago. That he feels compelled to spend his twilight years slurring the nation and grabbing frantically at relevance is his tragedy. That he has a chance to upend the election yet again, by his unwelcome presence, is ours.

Permit me a small digression here, but I wanted to point out how after Steinberg's screed his column continued with this little tidbit of revealing attitude about one of my old haunts:

Business brought me to Evanston on Saturday, and I took the older boy along for company, promising ... lunch out somewhere.

I suggested Blind Faith Restaurant, regaling him with tales of how, when I went to college 30 years ago, it was a hippie joint on the other side of the L tracks where you bused your own table, and had such good food - wonderful chili - that I patronized the place despite its offensive taint of vegetarianism...

Anyway, my sister's e-mail was accompanied by the following comment: "Please re-consider if you're seriously planning to WASTE your vote on Nader!"

The concept of a "wasted vote" is one of the most heinous and misleading constructs of the two-party system and its lackey, the mainstream media. It is quite akin to "Let's not have Kucinich in the debate - it would be a waste.* "

To say that Nader cost Gore the 2000 election is refuckingdiculous. Technically it was in fact the SCOTUS, but moreover it was the Democratic Party that could not convince more people not to vote for Bush (I mean how hard was that?). Being a true progressive, I'm not a huge fan of Al From and the Democratic Leadership Council, but From, who would have no reason to support Nader, dissolves the 2000 myth in a column he wrote just after Bush's first inauguration:

"The assertion that Nader's marginal vote hurt Gore is not borne out by polling data. When exit pollers asked voters how they would have voted in a two-way race, Bush actually won by a point. That was better than he did with Nader in the race."

Could this be because independents come out to vote when there is an independent candidate to vote for? The noive! Also, let's not sweep under the rug some other numbers: In the 2000 general election, 11 percent of Democrats defected from Gore and voted for Bush, but only four percent of Republicans swung away from their party. And yet people still have the audacity to excoriate the 2.6% of us who went for Nader?

I'm not convinced I will vote for Nader. In the previous post's comments, Joe the Troll contends that Ralph has been silent between elections. Well, it's not like he's gonna get invited on "Meet The Unimpressed" or "This Week with George Snuffleuppagus." He's been around, but the MSM ignores him. When Nader first made a name for himself the news media were actually in the business of reporting unvarnished news. Now, with Fortune 500 corporate ownership, consolidation of media and the inherent conflicts of interest this creates, voices like Nader and Kucinich are swept aside. The media and the DLC don't want all this talk of getting out of Iraq NOW and impeaching the two highest office holders in our gummint. Just because you didn't hear it doesn't mean it wasn't said.

And with that said, I contend that the reality is that Nader has not been effective at getting his message out to the mainstream, and that's what matters here. If Nader can say it's Gore's own fault for losing the election in 2000, he must also accept responsibility for his own political failures.

Still, to my beloved sibling I say there is no such thing as a citizen wasting their vote, and to assert such, madam, is to discount the very foundation of our republic.

Besides, I'm not taking advice from a guy who proclaims Blind Faith Cafe (old or new) as having "the offensive taint of vegetarianism."


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February 23, 2008


Two liberals discussing politics

Titillating stuff for some, but if you're a snoozer when it comes to national affairs, check back soon for some fluff. This starts with a column by my friend N.

A New Moon on the Rise

By N

I see a bright new day coming. I see a new moon on the rise. I see the Republicans losing in a squeaker and the Democrats winning in the last few minutes of the Super-duper Bowl this November.

It has to be close. The fact that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were elected twice – the second time after it should have been pretty clear to most Americans that they had led us into an illegal war by untruths and deceptions – indicates a very strong sentiment for the Republican way of thinking as exemplified by Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

The fact is that another war has been going on among the people of America these past eight years. You could call it a Civil War, non-violent but absolutely an antagonistic and desperate battle between the two ways of thinking.

It makes perfect sense for Sen. John McCain to be way out in front of the Republican pack. From what I hear and read, I get the definite impression that the majority of Republicans feel that the Iraq War was right, is right and should be fought no matter how long it takes to achieve victory. That’s McCain’s main suit. That’s right up his alley. It’s what he’s been saying all along and saying it louder than any other candidate.

From what I read and hear from the news media, the economy is the number one issue among the voters, with the Iraq War coming in second. That may be so. Another big issue, especially among Republicans, is illegal immigration. Health care for all Americans has become a popular issue. Improving our education system is a traditional topic of concern.

Other concerns that have become traditional over the years include the “family values” factor, which usually translates into which candidate is able to pass themselves off as the most religious and especially the most Christian, with those in favor of a woman’s right to choose considered to have less “family values” than the strict anti-abortion people. Those who are in favor of allowing folks of the same sex to marry are considered to have less “family values” than those who believe it would destroy the institution of marriage between a man and a woman.

There are other things that will factor in, regardless of whether or not people will admit it to the pollsters. These include the race factor. There are still many millions of Americans that would never vote for a black person. And there is the gender factor. There are many millions of Americans who would never vote for a woman to be president of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of its military.

Among the most important things that will factor in is the “dumb” factor. The “dumb” factor should never be underestimated. It is like the black matter or the invisible matter that fills much more of the universe than visible matter. When you hear it argued that one candidate has more “experience” than another, you are witnessing a type of reasoning that doesn’t take into account that George W. Bush has the experience of seven years as president, but he is still just as incompetent as he was the day he was presented the crown.

To tell the truth, it is the “dumb” factor on the part of the voting public that brought us to this point in our history. That’s why we’ve been engaged in this illegal war in Iraq for five years and why we’ve allowed the executive branch, with the complicity of Congress, to take away so much of our Constitutional rights and to Lord over us like a mighty Caesar.

In the end it will be the “dumb” factor that will make it a close race between the Republicans and Democrats this November. The extraordinary thing about it is that it will be close. That’s the scary thing. If the Republicans win, that will be the final straw that broke the back of American Democracy and America’s leadership role in the world, which will mean that not only will America be in serious trouble but the world itself will be in more trouble than it’s been in since World War II.

It all boils down to this Civil War between the Republican way of thinking and the Democrat way of thinking. For the most part, the Democrats have nothing to be proud of. Although they’ve managed to gain control of the House and the Senate, they have not removed us from Iraq and they have not gained an inch of ground in the battle to regain our Constitutional rights and restore the balance of power between our three branches of government.

As for the candidates for president, they are all thinkers. Even the current president, Mr. Bush, is a thinker. But there is a difference between each one in terms of the depth and wisdom of their thinking.

The deepest and wisest thinker of those still running is the former senator from Alaska, Mark Gravel, but he is not really in the race, because he is too far ahead of his time, as was Congressman Dennis Kucinich. In a world of lesser thinkers, the better thinkers will always be considered as odd balls beyond the pale of normal thought.

This leaves us on the Democrat side with Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama, a woman and a black man, as the top contenders. Both are thinkers in the Democrat tradition of attempting to make the yoke a little easier to bear for the least of these, the poor and the dispossessed and marginalized.

They are similar in their beliefs that the Iraq War was wrong and needs to be brought to a quick end. Sen.Obama showed the better instincts by speaking out against the war while Sen. Clinton was voting with the majority to give Mr. Bush authority to use whatever force he thought necessary to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein, which, in effect, allowed him to brush aside the United Nations and enter into an illegal war, breaking International Law and the United Nations Charter which America had signed an oath to.

The person with the best instincts on such a serious matter shows the best judgment, and the most political courage when you consider how popular the rush for war was at that time. I knew what Mr. Bush was up to a couple of years before he did it, as did millions of other thinking Americans, but Sen. Clinton didn’t.

On top of that, when you are talking about real change and a new day coming, there’s something to be said about charisma, that ability of voice and vision, with a personality that causes a vivid impression on the senses and is able to carry the pulse and will of people, especially young people, Sen. Obama is the only candidate in the race, Republican or Democrat, that has it.

John F. Kennedy was a thinker with charisma. He was wet behind the ears when elected, but by the time of his last year in office you could see him stepping up to a higher level of wisdom and was beginning to realize that the only way to a lasting peace was through peace and respect between us and the Soviet Union. Had he lived, I believe he might have followed that wisdom to include all nations.

Like Kennedy, Obama may be a little wet behind the ears, but he’s a thinker who can hear the cries of the poor and he has good instincts when it comes to war and peace. And he’s got charisma, the kind that brings people together with a sense of hope and a belief that things can really change for the better.

Unlike Jack Nicholson, I believe he’s the best man for the job.


N, but be careful what you wish for...


(From a Kucinich supporter who will likely not vote for Obama)



T -

I think Kucinich would make a better president than Obama, because he is more wise and has more depth and breadth of vision in regards to war and peace, our Constitutional rights and the type of America that we should be. He's right in saying that Bush and Cheney should be impeached and tried for lying to Congress and the people. I think Gravel would be even better. His positions on war and peace are just as deep and wide as Kucinich, and maybe even a little deeper and a little wider. And I agree with his position on drugs. He thinks they should be legalized and regulated. I do too.

As for Larry Johnson's blog piece, I agree with him on the failure of the press to show the public what was really going on. But I was not impressed with anything else he had to say, especially his warning about a Kenya and Muslim connection, and fears that other bad things will come to light. I don't go for this type of thinking, because it is too close to the way that people like Ann Coulter think and I find the logic unimpressive.

As for Hilliary, I find her a little more politically oriented than Obama and too close in her thinking to her husband.

I think McCain, Huckabee and Romney are all too war-like, and therefore too bone-headed and dangerous to be good presidents. I think Ron Paul has the best vision on war and peace than the other Republicans, but I find him too radical in his conservative views. But still he would make a better president than the other Republican contenders.

As far as I'm concerned, the biggest danger that we face today is the way America makes war and causes war and is unable to see that war only begets war. We should be able to defend ourselves while at the same time waging peace and showing respect to all nations.
If nuclear war has not destroyed us all within the next 40 years, global warming will. We can't avoid nuclear war by bombing nations that are trying to get nuclear energy. It is not good logic. We've got to start respecting the sovereign rights of all nations and begin working with them as legitimate members within the family of nations.



N -

I agree, the comment on the Kenya/muslim connection is specious. As for the logic of the rest of Larry Johnson's article, it's your prerogative to judge it on the merits, though I would say it's a far cry from the likes of Ann Coulter.

I've been no fan of Sen. Clinton, and I am undecided at this point whether I will support the Democratic nominee. That is based primarily on the DNC's tacit approval of freezing Kucinich out of the later debates (NBC is definitely on my shit list for that). But I see Obama supporter's not digging deep enough and going with pat "feelgoodism" from his very vague platform of "change." Why has he aligned himself with Bushhawk "Independent" Sen. Joe Lieberman instead of ardent war foe Sen. Russ Feingold or even his senior partner from Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin? What's up with his preachiness and alignment with anti-gay black ministers? Why did he go on a "values tour" with wingnuts like Pat Robertson and James Dobson? This and other things show me that Barack Obama is much further to the right than Hillary Clinton. He wants to bring everyone together and have a bipartisan lovefest? I don't see it happening until the Dems have the strength to show their ass when Republicans, who have done nothing to promote bipartisanship these past seven to possibly 30 years, want to throw a spanner in the works. Is Clinton any better? I think she'd make more of an effort to thwart obstructionism from the right, that's for damn sure.

Permit me the imposition of suggesting some further reading on the subject of Obama and his campaign:









T -

I don't know if the facts you give here are true, but for the sake of argument, let's say they are. None of that causes me to think Obama might be a two-faced snake in the grass, a war monger and a right winger who wants to allow greater influence by the Church in our government.
I see him as he appears to be and I take him at his word. I'm the same way with Clinton. I take her as she appears to be, and I believe she believes what she believes. I'm the same way with John McCain.

However, I also see McCain as a danger because of his positions on the Iraq War and his small, Bush-like mind. We really need to start moving in a more intelligent direction that has some sort of chance of bringing peace instead of more war.

After listening to Obama and Clinton for quite a bit, I've decided that he's more wise than the former first lady. And I think he has the charisma that is needed to bring the most people together and restore our standing around the world.

As for those other information links that you provided, I'm not much for that type of reading. I'm too lazy. I don't mind giving my opinion and responding to opinions, but I don't care much for reading the opinions of others. That's ironic since I'm a columnist that writes his opinions quite a bit. It takes all kinds, I guess.



N -

I may end up warming to Obama but for now I see and hear too many inconsistencies to be comfortable voting for him much less supporting him. Sure, compared to McCain he's all that and a bag of chips, but frankly charisma seems a rather useless trait to me.

Like I said I'm no Clinton fan, and I may end up voting third party for the third time in 12 years. I hear rumors that Ralph Nader, the antithesis of charisma and who had endorsed Edwards, is thinking of another run - it would be my second vote for him. I understand and respect that a man of leisure such as yourself has little time to devote to investigating the opinions of professional opinion holders (it often seems a near-futile cause), so I'll part with an offering of this recent tidbit from liberal stalwart Paul Krugman:

"Will the next president be prepared to fight for an effective [economic recovery] plan?... Until recently, I thought the biggest political struggle facing the next president was likely to be over health care reform. But right now it looks as if the first thing on the next administration’s plate will have to be dealing with a weak economy. And if effective action isn’t forthcoming, the next president will suffer the fate of Jimmy Carter, who began his administration with words of uplift — 'Let us create together a new national spirit of unity and trust' — and ended up delivering America into the hands of the hard right."

Warmest Regards,


February 22, 2008


And if there is no room upon the hill...

Here are a couple of the better shots I got of the full moon eclipse Wednesday night. It was kind of a bitch because it was mostly cloudy, but also kind of fun doing the photo mess around.


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February 16, 2008


Red Green

I ain't seen ole' Red around much lately, but this made me laugh my ass off so I figgered I'd share it with you fine folks. You can thank me later.


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February 11, 2008


The Yearly Max

To Max on his first birthday:

My life’s focus has of course completely changed since you arrived. During the pregnancy it was a bit surreal and detached for me (surely not so for your mother), and when you were born I confess there was no epiphinal sense of joy and wonder as often described by fathers, but rather bemusement when I first looked upon you all red and slimy. “Now what?” was the prevalent thought ringing through my head. When they whisked you away under somewhat emergency circumstances was when I began to realize the implications of your arrival at the seven month mark. The experience has long since faded for you, and I can only guess how traumatic those first few hours in the NICU must have seemed. By the time they allowed us in you were sleeping calmly, all hooked up to the frightening apparatus that keeps premature lungs inflated and the wires that transmit throughout the ward those disconcerting warning beeps representing the slightest anomaly. The nurses know how such a sight strikes a parent, and they were very professional and compassionate in explaining it all as par for the course. If there are angels on earth then surely some abide with these wonderful people.

Day 1

We were so fortunate to be able to bring you home after just ten days. I say “just” in comparison to the possible two months it could have been. It was difficult to have to keep you sequestered at home for those two months, though, and your Omie Sally had an even worse time because she had taken ill and did not get to see you outside the hospital for several weeks. When the quarantine expired we were beside ourselves with pride and joy taking you out in public, and our suspicions that you were the cutest boy in the universe were confirmed by many a passerby.

You have grown so fast these past 365 days. After just a couple of months you really didn’t resemble a preemie, and people were astonished to learn not only that fact but also that you were so big for your age. Your strength is pretty amazing as well, having nearly given me a concussion with one of your kicks and nearly breaking momma’s nose with your wild head bobs.

Though, as I said, there was no overwhelming sense of joy and wonder on the day of your birth (likely just the plain old kind of overwhelming), there have since been countless rapturous moments with you in my arms, feeling as if I wanted to squeeze you inside of myself. Watching all the changes, from the color and curls of your hair to the way you breathe in your sleep, has been nothing short of the most marvelous moments of my life. The flipside of these times is what I assume confronts most parents, that being the uneasy fear of harm or, less morbidly, the disdain for your rapid growing up. I look forward to so many things that sometimes I forget the value of the present moment, but one of your many vociferous expulsions usually serves as a well-placed reality check.

Day 366

I just want you to know today that I am as happy and proud as can be to be part of your world, and I hope that in our world you can create and fulfill the highest expectations of your potential.




UPDATE (via Hafsnet News):

Grammy Win Honors Young M.C.C.

Best Classical Crossover Album
(Award to the Artist(s) and/or to the Conductor.)

So we celebrate with more photos!

Joy of Box

A family tradition: facial "hair" experimentation


February 10, 2008


Flights of fancy

For the first time in the 20-plus years since I lived on the west coast, I tried my hand at disc golf. M and S had been after me for a while to accompany them to a decent course at Cloudland Canyon State Park up on Lookout Mountain, and today was a February day in Georgia not to be spent dithering indoors. Like me, M and S are natives of the Great White North, and we had a chuckle when S announced that the predicted high temperature for Minneapolis today was minus nine. Nope, t-shirt and a fleece pullover, even though a bit breezy, was enough to keep us comfy down h'yar.

Here's M showing off his most awesome tee shot of the day - a tough dogleg left between trees that he could only have sailed more perfect if he had put it in the basket in one. M is quite the player, not having been out in months he scored near par for the 18-hole round with a couple of birdies. That is one under par for you golf nomenclaturally-challenged. He prolly would've done better if S had not flashed him on one shot, totally rocking his concentration. I attempted to counter the effect of wifely titties by also flashing him, but it seemed not to improve things - my beer belly obviously detracts from my lovely breasts.

S is no slouch on the disc links herself. What she lacks in power she makes up for with these cool 'S' shaped throws (maybe she should get a cape and some tights) that wind up deadly straight down the fairway. As a southpaw she often has the advantage around obstacles or from certain directions of wind.

I had a slightly worse than mediocre round, garnering a few pars but more than a few double and triple bogeys. This was my best shot of the day - a long approach around some trees that quite luckily skittered up close to the pole.

For decades the game has been played with specialized discs, appropriately weighted and shaped for various shot conditions like teeing off, mid-range and even putting. The geekier enthusiasts can be seen lugging a sport bag with eight or nine different discs tucked within, perhaps not unlike the regular sport of golf. As long as motorized carts and cigar-chomping white Republicans don't begin dominating the links I guess I'll be okay. I recall playing as a teen with just regular Frisbees, something I'm a bit more adept at tossing. The regulation discs are much smaller and stouter, and I have as yet to acquire the consistency needed to crush M like a femur beneath a city bus.

Oh, but the day will come, laddie!

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February 09, 2008


New from Brave New Films

A little Madison Avenue humor to drive home the points about how much the occupation of Iraq costs the average American family and how Republicans are offering up more of the same:


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February 06, 2008


Oh, BS!

A recent Parenting magazine poll revealed 69 percent of respondents confessing to telling their children more than one little white lie a day.

The definition of "little white lie" is certainly open to interpretation, but this factoid has me a bit puzzled from both sides. First of all I'm taken aback by the sheer volume. Perhaps parents of older children can enlighten me as to why you'd have to be dishonest with your kid more than once a day. Am I naive to think I can avoid this as my son becomes more inquisitive with age? I'm of a mind that most white lies revolve around something akin to simplifying a complicated answer, but to me it seems that if your going to go that distance why not just give the kid the truth. If it happens to go over their head, well at least your integrity is intact. It seems that to take the easy way out fosters intellectual laziness, in both you and your child. Anyway, I'm not thinking I will never tell Max a white lie for convenience or to spare his feelings, etc. But exceeding one a day still strikes me as somewhat pathological. And while I realize kids can be an emotional and psychological handful at times, I certainly want to avoid making a habit of swaying him to my bidding through dishonesty.

One parent responding to the poll disagreed with propagating myths like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, citing her own childhood devastation as cause for her disdain. I'm kinda "gimme a break" on that one, for my own memory serves up that it was no big deal for me to learn that it was my parents. I feel that any parent who can semi-skillfully instill their child with basic logic should likely see similar results. It is with older children that I can see the benefits of honesty-as-best-policy reaping the most rewards. If you don't want your teen to drink, smoke or fuck, don't offer vague moralizations. I intend to tell Max why I don't think it's good, not why Jesus doesn't or that Satan takes delight in swaying him toward error (fortunately, there are also parental rules to provide enforcement capacity).

Another polled parent related that her daughter's friend told her she didn't like the food she prepared for the kids. "My daughter was taught to act grateful even if she doesn't like what's served to her," was this mother's take. I'm not sure where being tactful enough to eschew speaking your mind and be grateful would be a white lie (she did say "act" grateful though, didn't she?), but yeah, the lippy brat probably wouldn't get invited over to our house much.

I'm interested to hear from the commentariat on this, especially youse moms and dads out there.

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February 03, 2008


Blast from the past

Aren't old photographs fun? As long as no one gets hurt, anyway, which isn't necessarily the case in coming upon this one and having it seem to be from another lifetime.

Depending on your definition of lifetime, I suppose it could be.

Now, a quiz!

This photo was taken in

A) 1984
B) 1979
C) 1989
D) 1994

The body of water in this photo is

A) Gulf of Mexico
B) Lake Michigan
C) Red Sea
D) Pacific Ocean


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