Saturday, July 31, 2004

Democrats vs Republicans

Which party has the greatest faith in human potential?

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau

My nephew asked me last night what the differences were between Republicans and Democrats on education. I stumbled through an answer. I realized during the attempt that as far as I know, there really is not a huge difference in what is being said by either party. So I had to resort to my perceptions of an overall approach to governance, which in my opinion entails a certain world view regarding individual citizens. And that leads, however indirectly, to the topics of Democrats and Republicans, and Liberals and Conservatives.

When asked whether I am Republican or Democrat, I always say Republican. I am Republican for some perceived general ideological stances, and not because of specific policies or platforms. I have some basic perceptions that may or may not be accurate, which I now hang out to swing in the wind, offering them up as fair game for any commentary.

I would first like to set out one issue that contributes to this debate; the assertion that "all Democrats are Liberals, and all Conservatives are Republicans." Liberal and Conservative are kind of world views, and they do overlap with Democrat and Republican platforms. But even inside one's own skin you will find you are liberal on this issue and conservative on that issue. You shouldn't simply pigeon-hole individuals into one or other group. Nevertheless, I do believe that Republicans tend toward a more conservative world view while Democrats tend toward a more liberal world view.

I have two quotes that kind of sum up my views on Dems and Reps and Libs and Cons.

Regarding liberal and conservative:
Any man who is under 30 and is not a Liberal has no heart; and
any man who is over 30 and not a Conservative has no brains.
- Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

And now for Republicans and Democrats:
On God and Santa Claus
From P.J. O'Rourke's book Parliament of Whores

I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle-aged mate, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men strictly accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well-being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God's heavenly country club.

Santa Claus is another matter. He's cute. He's non-threatening. He's always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who's been naughty and who's been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without thought of a quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he's famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.

I use these two quotes to introduce a core question:
Are people responsible for their own actions, or is society responsible for the actions of its people?

What's so core about that? Well consider in the above debate regarding education. One thing that is not touched by either party is the role of the parent in education. That is a taboo topic and nobody wants to go there. In my opinion that has made both parties default into the premise that society is responsible for the education of its citizenry. That may be a no-brainer to some. But, if you will honestly look at some of the "failures" in our educational system, I think you would have to acknowledge contributory failures in parenting. An involved parent will cause a child to study, whether or not the classroom has computers. An involved parent will expect a level of behavior by their child. An involved parent will communicate to their child the importance of education, and that the child will have a good education whether said child wants one or not.

This is why you can have an individual parent triumph over the (documented) failure of a particular school system. An involved parent will always outperform a school that has had a child handed over to it for rearing. (It is not really fair to expect schools to do what we are expecting them to do.) I speak from personal experience as a child and a parent. I and my child did not go to school in a vacuum. I succeeded where others failed, and my child succeeded where others failed. I know first hand in my case, and anecdotally in my child's case, that our successes are attributable to parenting, NOT to the school (if it was just the school, everyone would have succeeded). And most certainly, the presence or lack of money in the school system had nothing to do with our education.

Based on this, in my opinion, both parties act liberal regarding education. They act as if they believe society is the answer to the problem, not individual parenting.
Human Potential

Let's look at the old saw, If you give a man a fish, you feed him for an hour, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

That is only true if the man will actually go and fish. And whether he will go and fish depends on the quality of the character of that man. If his character is of one sort, even if you teach him to fish if someone will still give him a fish, he won't fish. And if his character is of another sort, he will walk past free fish stands and go and catch his own.

The issue then becomes, do you expect him to fish, or do you decide to give him a daily fish? If you are pragmatic, and you are looking long term, you know that he can fish. But you also know that he may or may not fish depending on if he is hungry and if he thinks he can get a fish without effort.

1. If you believe in the potential of that human being, you will expect him to fish. If he does not, he can go hungry. When he is hungry enough, he will go and fish, and find out maybe that he kind of enjoys being self-sufficient. And he becomes a productive member of society and society is better off. (Or he might steal, and if he gets caught, he'll be put in jail.)

2. If you do not believe in the potential of that man, you may teach him to fish, but you really won't expect him to. Meanwhile, he's got to eat. The only right thing to do is feed him. Hopefully, you can encourage him to get up and face the world again, after he is fed. But we are a wealthy society, so feed the man, already! (And, he won't need to steal if we take care of his basic needs.)

The first example is seen as cold hearted and unfeeling. The second example is seen as caring and just and good.

If you have kids, do they all have the ability to clean their own rooms? If the answer is yes, will they clean their rooms if you don't tell them to? Some will, and some won't. A parent has two basic approaches:

1. They are made to clean their rooms, whether they want to or not. You believe they will learn life lessons that will help them as they get older. As in 'One day you'll thank me'. You know they can do it, and you are not going to let laziness or other priorities keep them from doing basic things they have to do. It doesn't matter if they are happy or not. It matters that they do it. Happy and unhappy are temporary states of affairs. They'll get over it. Meanwhile, the room needs cleaning.

2. Some kids will clean their rooms on their own, and some won't. Hey, they're kids! Who wants to clean rooms? I've got time, I'll clean it for them. Some day they will see what I've done for them, and they will thank me. Meanwhile, the room gets cleaned, and all my kid's friends think I'm really cool. Besides, it makes me feel good. Not like those other bastard task master parents that force their will on their kids. Why can't they see it my way? It's all so obvious. (condescending sigh)

To me, the examples marked "1." expect individuals to do what they are supposed to do, or face consequences. The examples marked "2." expect nothing, hope for everything, and wonder why everyone else can't see the light.

In the sets of examples above, the ones marked "1" are conservative world views. The ones marked "2" are liberal. You will note that the liberal world view also wonders why everyone doesn't feel like they do. Meanwhile the conservative world view doesn't care if you agree or not. They are going to do what they think is right, and expect you to do what you think is right.

And so it goes in the political party system. The Republicans expect people to take care of themselves. They believe that they can. The Democrats believes that society should take care of everyone. They believe some people can't get by on their own, and that a civilized society should take care of them. Republicans believe that the percentage of people who really can't get by on their own is smaller by several orders of magnitude than what Democrats are hoping for at election time.

Republicans believe in individual human potential, and expect people to live up to their potential. They don't want people to suffer, but see a lot of suffering as self inflicted. This is perceived as haughty and uncaring by liberals.

Democrats believe in collective societal potential, and expect people to sign up for that belief. They don't believe people should ever suffer, and that it is a failure of society when people do suffer, regardless of the reason. And they feel good about believing that. This is perceived as elitist and condescending by conservatives.

Personally, I believe in human potential, and I believe there should be consequences for your actions, if only as object lessons for other individuals to learn from. You should learn from your own mistakes, but I can't make you. I don't want you to suffer, but that is largely up to you, since I believe you have the wherewithal to make better decisions. Ψ

Friday, July 30, 2004

I was michaelmoored!

Submitted for your approval: The introduction of a new verb into the common blogosphere vernacular.

To michaelmoore is much more than to simply take things out of context. To michaelmoore is to take someone's comments or story or post and create a fiction from that post and present it as fact attributed to that person.

Example post:

Such is life! First I went to my car and discovered I had a flat tire. Then I had to deal with the spare being flat. I called Triple A and some guy came out named Dick. Now, I know this is a version of Richard. But given the various other possible meanings for that name, I can't help but wonder why people name their kids that. One day at work we were processing a new hire. His social security card said "Richard Head." I looked at him and said, "You go by Richard, don't you." He sighed and said "Yes." I mentioned this story to the Triple A guy. He laughed and we had a pretty good conversation about names we give our children. What started as a bad day gave me a great idea for my next post!

Example post after being michaelmoored:

Elsewhere, Frater Bovious wrote: "Such(sic) my Dick."

See, the genius part of michaelmooring is the creation of an alternate "reality." The above is made more effective by the masterful addition of "(sic)." That parenthetical word, from the Latin for "Thus; so", is used when quoting someone else and indicates "...that a surprising or paradoxical word, phrase, or fact is not a mistake and is to be read as it stands..." However, over time, it has also been used to indicate when quoting misspelled words from the original, to prevent the impression that the person doing the quoting actually misspelled the word.

Of course, in my original post the word was not misspelled; therein lies the genius. Not only do I have my words completely misrepresented, I appear uncouth. I also look like I can't type and that I don't bother to spellcheck my posts. Yet, it can be factually stated that I wrote those words. Diabolical!

Whenever you have some faux reality twisted out of one or your posts, you can simply reply, "Whatever. I was michaelmoored. Here's the link to what I really said."

The potential uses for this new verb are limitless. Ψ

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam;

Blog blog blog blog. Lovely blog! Wonderful blog!
Blog blo-o-o-o-o-og blog blo-o-o-o-o-og blog.
Lovely blog! Lovely blog! Lovely blog!
Lovely blog! Lovely blog! Blog blog blog blog!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Commentary: Iraq's Complicity in Terrorism

Offered as a sort of sanity/reality check to Fahrenheit Blair Witch 9/11 Project.

I think one very interesting excerpt from this article is this:

Clarke's tenure as America's top counterterrorism official is essentially contemporaneous with the Clinton administration. Before Bill Clinton took office, it was assumed that major terrorist attacks against the United States were state sponsored. Clinton turned a national security issue, focused on punishing terrorist states, into a law enforcement issue, focused on arresting and convicting individual perpetrators.

This fundamental policy shift was fundamentally flawed. People with nothing to lose aren't afraid of anything. Nations, and national leaders, have a self interest that cannot be denied. However, our voting populace prefers flash and dash to boring substance. (Which explains why movie and rock stars are successful in speaking to the young and liberal. There is no there, there, and it does not matter to the fawning idolators, since what they are attracted to is style and a certain experience of closeness to an untouchable benevolent aristocracy; a giddiness at rubbing virtual elbows with the high and mighty.)

Anyway, if this article by Laurie Mylroie, a former adviser on Iraq to the 1992 Clinton campaign, can be given any credence, the Iraq - al Qaeda connection seems to have substance.

Which, by the way, neither Bush, nor anyone in his top administration, ever stated that Saddam was part of 9/11. I'm really tired of hearing that. Ψ

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

If you haven't seen this, well, you have to. Go now. It is a long time loading, but it is definitely worth the wait. Ψ


Does This Ring True For You?

Political Affiliation and Demographics

Republican/Democrat Party Affiliation and Conservative/Liberal Identification

I've scoured the Web for interesting polls, studies, and opinions (Click title above and see excerpts below) detailing the personal and socio-economic characteristics that may predict a person's ideological leanings or party affiliation.

Some generally accepted political stereotypes are validated by statistical tendencies: Republicans/conservatives are more likely to have higher incomes, members of minority groups are more likely to be Democrats/liberals, etc.

Statistically, you're more likely to be a Republican and/or conservative if you're:
a man
a college graduate
in the top income bracket
an evangelical Christian
living in a rural area
a Thinker-Sensor

Statistically, you're more likely to be a Democrat and/or liberal if you're:
a woman
a senior citizen
living in an urban area
a Feeler-Intuitor

Monday, July 26, 2004

Lies, Lies, and More Lies - A Special Rant by Daver

It has started already.  I managed to catch part of Bill Clinton's bullshit (speech) at the Democratic National Crapfest and almost lost my damn supper.  Why doesn't anyone question the Dem's assertions?  According to Bill, who has an impeccable record of honesty, the GOP is going to do away with Social Security to line the coffers of the rich.  What the hell is that?  Of course, there is a significant portion of America that believes that crap!

My favorite ruse is when Bill, Al, and John F. Kerry claim to be for the common man and against the wealthy.  Did anyone ever notice that all of them have money coming out their ass?

I guess they must be okay though, since all of those celebrities are on their side.

It's only day one - more to come! - Al Gore endorses Howard Dean

So, uh, what was that all about?

(Click on above title. Read carefully. Ask yourself what does it all mean?)

Those kwazy Democrats!

Take Hillary, for example. I just finished listening to her introduce her husband. The praise she heaped on Bill was matched only by her minimal acknowlegement of Kerry. What could her goal be? I believe this person may know. Ψ

Brittany and Madonna to star in sizzling remake of CLAMBAKE!

Screams outrageous headline in vain attempt by obscure blogger to drive traffic to his blog.

Attempting to capitalize on the prurient nature of humanity, he also offered a link to a graphic depiction of a clam being cleaned and trimmed without even mentioning the Madonna/Brittany kiss.

Then, sadly, he tried to redeem himself through a sort of public service announcement by linking to an Actual Clambake Synopsis.

The obscure blogger's significant other raised an eyebrow, fearing that this sexing up of the Glob Blog would compromise the journalistic integrity of the Glob.

"Bwaaaaaaaaaa-ha-ha-hahahahah!" was his reply. Ψ

Guinness, The Official Beer of The Glob!

In these trying times, it is important to have some sort of respite, some escape, where one can relax and enjoy the company of good people and lively conversation. Yet, these days, even simple relaxation becomes a chore as we fret over the various health aspects of what we are drinking. Well, first of all "Phooey" on that. Secondly, "Slainte" and please note the following facts.

Semi-skimmed milk 260 CALORIES PER PINT
Orange juice 220 CALORIES PER PINT

Raise A Pint Of Guinness To Your Good Health
By KEVIN HUNT Hartford Courant

Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A man walks into a bar, orders a 12-ounce bottle of Corona Extra. Another
man walks in, orders a 12-ounce Guinness draft. The two men turn to each
other; raise their glasses and say, "Here's to your health."

Question: Whose dietary and health interests are better served by the
12-ounce beer?

If the guidelines are less alcohol, fewer calories, fewer carbohydrates --
and, to top it off, protection against heart attacks, blindness and maybe
even impotence -- then it's the Guinness drinker, hands down.

No joke.

Guinness, in fact, is lower in alcohol, calories and carbohydrates than
Samuel Adams, Budweiser, Heineken and almost every other major-brand beer
not classified as light or low-carb. It has fewer calories and
carbohydrates than low-fat milk and orange juice, too. Could this be the
same Irish stout that looks like a still-life root beer float and tastes
about as filling as a Quarter Pounder with cheese? Yes, the same Guinness
that beer expert Michael Jackson (the British king of hops) calls the
world's classic dry stout. It's a favorite of Bono (obviously), Madonna
(with a good cigar) and Matt Damon (no, Guinness does not make teeth
unnaturally white).

Low in alcohol

This tastes-great, more-filling formula defies nutritional expectations
because Guinness is so low in alcohol, a source of empty calories. Guinness
is 4.2% alcohol by volume, the same as Coors Light. Budweiser and Heineken
check in at 5%.

"That surprised me," says Joseph Brennan, a Yale-New Haven Hospital
cardiologist of Irish heritage and a confirmed Guinness drinker. "I could
never understand why one or two wouldn't leave me light-headed." Brennan,
like many cardiologists, recommends a drink a day for his cardiac patients.
Red wine, in particular, has been shown to help prevent heart attacks. Now,
maybe it's beer's turn. A University of Wisconsin study last fall found
that moderate consumption of Guinness worked like aspirin to prevent clots
that increase the risk of heart attacks.

Take, er, drink your vitamins

In the study, Guinness proved twice as effective as Heineken at preventing
blood clots. Guinness is loaded with flavonoids, anti- oxidants that give
the dark color to many fruits and vegetables. These anti-oxidants are
better than vitamins C and E, the study found, at keeping bad LDL
cholesterol from clogging arteries. Blocked arteries also contribute to
erectile dysfunction, as does overindulgence in alcohol. Guinness has a
higher concentration than lighter beers of vitamin B, which lowers levels
of homocysteine, linked to clogged arteries. And researchers have found
that anti-oxidants from the moderate use of stout might reduce the
incidence of cataracts by as much as 50%.

In Ireland, where the slogan "Guinness Is Good for You" was born, the
stout's medicinal uses are the stuff of legend. Diageo, the U.S.
distributor of Guinness, makes no claims about its medical benefits,
spokeswoman Beth Davies says from the company's offices in Stamford, Conn.
But a visitor to Ireland might hear accounts (most no longer, if ever,
true) of Guinness administered to nursing mothers, blood donors, stomach
and intestinal post-operative patients and mothers recovering from
childbirth. "Pregnant women and racehorses, one a day," says Michael Foley
of Wethersfield, Conn., standing over a pint of Guinness in the
subterranean bar at the Irish American Home Society in Glastonbury, Conn.
Racehorses? Foley, who left Castlemaine, County Kerry, 43 years ago but
retains a Guinness-thick brogue, returns a cocked-head glance that says,
loosely translated from Gaelic, "Duh."

"It's made from barley, you know," he says.

(C) 2004 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. via ProQuest Information and
Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

Thanks to Blake for this important health article.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Last Rafter Leaves Cuba

Hello Placid Watchers

Just a note to introduce myself since Frater Bovious asked me to feel free to post here. He can fill you in on other details, but basically I am here because I know personally many of the bloggers here and I have a different point of view on many issues, and I am willing to listen to reason and think you are too.

I will not be a rabid blogger with daily posts and challenges. I will probably comment on some posts, and sometimes present a link to something I found interesting or educative.

I'm happy for the hospitality offered and I created my own little blog with no big plans to do anything with it, so visit if you wish.

A toast to reason, friends!

Haves and Have-nots

The only barrier/sterotype that will not be overcome

By Mark Connolly
Editor, Dallas Bureau

I wish to posit that virtually all struggles between peoples can be reduced to real or perceived differences between those that see themselves as having, and those that see themselves as having not. This cannot be oversimplified into a generic all-encompassing statement about anyone or any society however. Just like a man ‘Jim’ can at once be both Father and Son, each person or group or society can at one time be among the Haves, and at another time be among the Have-nots as those are defined within relationships. There are the rich that have plenty to eat everyday, as compared to those that do not. There are the rich that drive BMW’s as compared to those that drive an old jeep bought at auction from the Post Office. There are the rich that own Gulf Stream business jets as compared to those that can only afford LearJets.

There are those that are Christian as opposed to Pagans. Those that are Moslems as compared to the Infidels. One supposes to have the truth while the other are supposed to have not. There are those that have light skin and those that have not. There are those that have freedom as compared to those that have not.

And reverse all of those depending on your personal situation. Today in Iraq there is no doubt that there are those people that preferred the (in retrospect) stability and safety of the old dictatorship as compared to the (current) utter chaos of ‘freedom.’

On the global stage, (I think) America is largely perceived as having, and much of the world is perceived as having not. But what America is perceived as having varies widely. We have wealth, we have debauchery. We have freedom, we have arrogance. We have charity, we have unbridled greed. We have the best intentions, we have the worst intentions. (Hmmmm, that sounds familiar somehow… best times worst times, perhaps a novel in there somewhere?)

All of this wouldn’t matter much if it didn’t engender hatred as a collateral effect of noticing these differences. And that is the part of this that I don’t understand, and wonder if it can be dealt with. Even among my own family differences of opinion can flash into anger. And we are all from the same basic socio-economic-religious background!

I believe People tend to think in a collage of future probababilities that range from downright fantastic to very pragmatic. But we emote in the now, often in a very disconnected way, and then use the awesome power of our minds to validate the emotion of the moment. That can become exhausting, physically and emotionally, hence the phenomenon “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Are we, should we, can we, be a global flock? I’m not sure there is enough common ground for determining the basic issues. So, I wonder if that is a realistic concept. And I don't believe it feasible to simply distribute everything equally and Oila!, no problems. You'll not get any agreement on what is important and what needs to be distributed equally. Because someone will see themselves as having the right to distribute and someone else as not being equipped to decide.

The reason I think all this matters is because I believe that it is only in consideration of these concepts that the issue of Terrorism can be dealt with or resolved. Who or what is a terrorist? Well, among other things a terrorist is also a mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter. They may or may not belong to this or that branch of some religion or race. They may be 'disenfranchised' in reality or in their minds. Or someone else's mind.

We focus on Arab/Muslim today, due to current events. But there are terrorists in Japan, Ireland, America, etc. It is pretty clear to me that the motives and methods of a "terrorist" in Ireland are not identical to those in Iraq. So, the class of Terrorist is insufficiently defined, and consequently oversimplified at the moment to someone in a turban.

People often rush to Answers without considering the Questions. Some questions I have been asking myself are:
What is the source of terrorist behavior? Is there common ground for dialog? Is there potential for common dialog? If not, what then? Why 'terrorism' instead of some other avenue? Would someone recognize another potential avenue even if presented?

And then, what if the motive is simply extermination of Infidels? What is the civilized response? Historically, it has been kill or be killed. Can we move beyond that?

What is to be done about it in a world that will perennially be populated by Haves and Have-nots?

Genocide or Religicide cannot be the answer. Ψ