Thursday, September 30, 2004

Yay! A column on porn!

For the Oct. 6 Vermilion, a column that crosses several lines:

Before we dive headfirst into this week's empty pool, I want to explain that last week's column was so short because it suffered from what journalists call "115 missing words." To check out the unfiltered version of that column, get online and visit

At least the fine folks at the Vermilion didn't publish the conservative column under my name again like they did on Sept. 3, 2003. I spent that week trying to convince people that I never called for anyone "to be castrated with a dull butter knife and then hung in public." But hey, accidents happen, right?

Speaking of accidents, two years ago I was in Stephens Lab visiting a Web site that featured funny photographs. The site also occasionally showed hilariously unsexy nude pictures, and at one point I accidentally clicked on one. I immediately backtracked--yuck!--but it lingered there just long enough for a Stephens Hall administrator to walk by and boom, "Son, this is a public lab and you are not allowed to view material of that nature!" Fortunately for me this didn't happen recently, because the university would have stuck me in therapy.

Last week's Vermilion featured a story on the pornography policy at UL computer labs. Almost everyone quoted in the story claimed that pornography is a sickness. But like anything else, it can be used or abused. The article seized the valid issue of public displays of pornography and twisted it into a call for its restriction simply because some people cannot handle it.

Please understand, I wholeheartedly agree that some sites should be off-limits in a public lab. Nor should child porn or any other coerced nudity be legal viewing anywhere. But UL is really overstepping its bounds by requiring disciplinary action and counseling for this kind of computer solitaire. Here’s a few blunt facts about erotica:

1) Pornography has health benefits. Is there any safer form of sex than masturbation? And is there any safer forum for indulging sexual fetishes? Plus, it’s a cheap date!

2) No one HAS to view pornography. It's just like anything else; if you don't like it, avoid it. Likewise, no one has to pose for it either. The degradation debate ignores the fact that we’ll always objectify those we find attractive. It's how we're wired. And don't forget that, in all legal porn, the models have agreed to pose and are paid generously for doing so. It's all about personal choices on both sides of the lens.

3) The link between porn and violence is, well, flaccid. If you're at home with a magazine, then you are not hurting anyone. Serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy, who blamed his crimes on porn, probably didn’t benefit from growing up thinking his mom was his sister and never forming any real friendships. For every porn-loving rapist, there are a million people who enjoy the same images and live decent lives. You're sitting next to one, if in fact that doesn't also describe you. Show me someone who has never viewed pornography and I'll show you a liar.

The problem is not that the person is viewing porn, but that they lack the self-restraint and intelligence to do so in privacy. If that’s causing a disturbance in the computer lab, then boot them out. But we should be well past the point where we send people to shrinks for the heinous crime of desire.

If campus officials are looking to combat a problem, might I suggest tuition hikes? How about drainage? Or campus safety? No one enrolls in a university to be told that they are sick people. We’re all adults here, so grow up!

How about that debate!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Paper cuts suck

Today heralded the Sept. 29 issue of The Vermilion. To rip off a phrase from Highlights Magazine, what's wrong with this picture? (Hint: something here is a little short.)

What was the layout artist smoking? Posted by Hello

The layout has been iffy since the beginning of the summer, when a new layout artist took over, but this is the worst thing yet. I confronted the managing editor (my immediate boss, though he's still finishing the degree I already have) about it, and he told me that that was exactly how he received it in the e-mail. His claim, although he seemed genuinely convinced of it and seemed to feel bad, misses a few things:

1) The middle text is missing, not the beginning or end
2) The e-mail in which I'd sent him the article, which I had also sent myself and kept, was completely intact when I checked it again this afternoon
3) No one seemed to find anything suspicious in the fact that my column was 492 words instead of the usual 600-ish
4) No attempt was made to contact me about this omission
5) As much as I like to play with language, I never really aspired to coin a new word, "ashtpolitics"

Reader's Digest's condensers were starting to lose it Posted by Hello

At least this wasn't as bad as that famous September 2003 gaffe. Now THAT was an ordeal! As for the fact that my face looks like George Hamilton's after a third-degree burn, well, that might top everything.

Oh well. I'm sure it still made the point. Hopefully. The saddest thing is, I doubt anyone will even notice that 115 words are missing. At least they'll be able to read the whole thing here.

UPDATE! Evidently, the usual cartoon, "Grey," that accompanies the column was also snubbed this week in favor of another one. I suspected this, but wasn't entirely sure until tonight, when the cartoonist pointed out to me that it had been replaced. I thought his style seemed different! After seeing the panel they left out, I got mad, because it is GOOD! The Vermilion may not have liked it, but I did, so here it is:

Cartoon by Robert Guillory Posted by Hello

Being censored for content is one thing, but being censored by incompetence is another. The first is more fun, at least.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Lone Stars against lunacy

The newspaper that see before you has declared its endorsement of John Kerry in 2004. I know, I know, liberal media, right? What paper is this? The Liberal-Commie Tribune? Hippie Weekly? Flip-Flop Illustrated? The Pinko Pulp? The Un-American Non-Patriot?

Guess Bush won't bother stumping THERE! Posted by Hello

Let's flip it over and find out!

Damn liberal media...Texans! Posted by Hello

That's right: The Lone Star Iconoclast, a weekly newspaper based in Crawford, Texas, has reversed its 2000 Bush endorsement to support John Kerry in 2004!

True, the Iconoclast has only been around for four years. And its circulation is only 425 (out of a big population of 751). Still, though, it's Crawford we're talking about here. Texas has something of a reputation for Bush worship (a well-deserved one at that, if my personal experience in the state is any indicator), so to see Crawford's only newspaper challenge its most famous resident is comforting. Kerry support keeps coming out of the most unlikely places.

Cheyenne, we're still waiting...

Taking debate

Two prevalent media sentiments are surfacing regarding the upcoming presidential debates:

1) John Kerry really has to prove himself to save his campaign
2) George W. Bush is expected to do very well

The lesson is that working hard and risking your life is for losers! Because there will always be some monied, well-connected, spoiled, braindead chickenhawk there with his media mafia to discredit every good deed you've ever done for a public who despises those of superior intellect and cojones.

And yes, kids, that WILL be on the test.

Dark news from a dead man

Right-wing rhetorician tells us why Bush is too stupid to lose

Today in my rhetoric class, the one with the defaced textbook, we discussed a dude named Richard Weaver. His basic philosophy can be broken down thus:

1) Facts are useless without emotions
2) Tolerance is wrong and that everyone must assimilate into the established society
3) Political extremism, on either end, are the only places to find principled thought
4) However, only conservatives remain consistent in their principles
5) The public can be led to believe anything through effective rhetoric (e.g., that a rich-guy politican is a cowboy by putting on a hat and affecting a twang)
6) Television, journalists and public schools all suck

Weaver would have LOOOOOOVED George W. Bush.

One particular notion of Weaver's that stands out is his philosophy regarding leadership. As noted in point one, he believes that cold, hard facts must be balanced out by human emotions in order to register with the people. He calls leaders who are able to do this (no joke) lovers!

Lovers, Weaver says, are people who know good from evil and can excite the mind, heart and soul. Our class presenter explained it best by using the presidential analogy; he looked at recent presidential candidacies and applied Weaver's theory (and don't forget, "lover" in this case means "tough guy" or "suave speaker," not what they do in the Lincoln Bedroom):

1976--Ford vs. Carter--both wimps (edge: Carter; people pissed off at GOP)

1980--Carter vs. Reagan--wimp vs. lover (edge: Reagan; charming)

1984--Reagan vs. Mondale--lover vs. wimp (landslide: Reagan again)

1988--Bush vs. Dukakis--both wimps (edge: Bush, went berserk in debates)

1992--Bush vs. Clinton--wimp vs. lover in every sense of word (edge: Clinton, the consummate charmer)

1996--Clinton vs. Dole--lover vs. hater (edge: Clinton, the non-Dole)

2000--Gore vs. Bush--fact machine vs. Weaver's perfect lover (edge: debatable)

2004--Bush vs. Kerry
--Mr. Passion vs. fact machine (edge: oh shit...)

Weaver has been a dead right-wing nutjob for 41 years, but that doesn't mean he hasn't plugged into the pulse of the American voting public: that the general public is less interested in having a smart leader than having one who can charm us into being scared and whip us into a passionate fury. In other words, a charmer with a mean streak. Timeless wisdom.

God, were idiots.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Hoping to draw a parallel

"And my margin of victory was THIS LARGE!" Posted by Hello

Here's some more swag from the 1992 Clinton campaign: the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from the day after, announcing the arrival of a new direction in leadership. This is a terrific reminder of what can happen when a Democratic candidate overcomes the hurdles it takes to beat a Bush. They said it was impossible. They called him weak. They sold stories of his womanizing. They joked about his oratorical skills. They said he'd never be president, especially in the light of Bush's war in Iraq. Clinton still came through and kicked ass. Proof positive that, at least sometimes, the good guys win. Underneath the fold is a headline that would be nice to see again, though that seems unlikely given Bush's track record in elections:

Nov. 4, 1992 and/or Nov. 3, 2004? Posted by Hello

Take heed: real work for change begins now. We can do it. Why? Because we've already done it!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Damn that liberal media!

Hannity and Colmes comes to LHS Posted by Hello

The page at which you are looking comes from the newest Lafayette High Parlez-Vous, obtained by my sister (I like to read it because I used to be the editor-in-chief and designed it back in the day when it looked good). When I opened to page three, I reacted with a half-gasp-half-laughter expression. What would you call that? Gaughter? Lausp? I don't know...

This point-counterpoint section is about (maybe you heard about this) the war on terror. The conservative column, written by Hunter Simmons, charges that the Clinton years were horrible, warless years for the United States. The nation, however, found its purpose after the 9/11 attacks--which is, of course, never-ending war. From then on, Simmons' editorial reads like a bad Republican Party press release:

The terrorists came knocking on that day, expecting no one to be home. What they found was a Texan with the means to finish what the Islamists have started. Woe to these men who thought that their loathsome call to war would go unanswered. When the piper came calling, the Taliban was left in ruins and Al Qaeda [sic] was scattered: their training camps destroyed their leaders on the run [sic]. The war on terror had commenced.

Simmons also shows a general ignorance of terrorism:

We can't afford to have another 9-11; it is why we fight. You can't thwart a terrorist's plan by waiting for it to happen. Why wait in fear when we can take the the fight to the terrorists and divert their attention from the States?

Here he's ignoring a few things: 1) We will never have another 9/11, because terrorists rely on one earth-shattering attack to frighten people and then go back into hiding. Now that everyone's awake to the peril (and going batshit with fear and security measures), there's no need for another attack; just the lingering threat is enough. That's why it's called "terror." Terrorists might be bad guys, but they're not stupid. 2) It's already happened.

And like any good conservative columnist, Simmons indirectly invokes God in ways that would make Dubya proud:

Three thousand innocent souls cry out from the grave for justice--a righteous call that must be answered. No, this is not a war that will be won in your lifetime, but it is that which we owe until our last fallen hero rests in peace.

I'm not sure exactly what he means by fighting "until our last fallen hero rests in peace," but I'm sure it sounds like music to Halliburton's ears. For a high school editorial, Simmons actually does pretty good; hell, he's no worse than the actual GOP. And, as is the par with the media these days, he gets the bulk of the newspaper space. To the lazy public, this shows that his views must hold more merit. Nicely subliminal.

The liberal column, written by Lacey Johnston, begins on a bad note by misstating the point of the war on terror (not that it isn't all a web of lies to begin with):

The War on Terror began with the "knowledge" of mass weapons of destruction held in Iraq.

Actually, no, it began with 9/11. But if you count the Bush drive to invade Iraq as early as January 2001 (or earlier), then she might have gotten it right. Johnston gets really specific into facts and figures, which would be good if not for two things: 1) she lacks the space, being a liberal and all and 2) people in general are too ignorant to care about facts and figures; they want easy problems, easy solutions and an outlet for ethnic anger.

Johnston does end strong, however, by noting that Australia, Russia and Canada (Canada?) should be our next WMD targets under our current mentality. Additionally, she says, the GOP has shown its true colors by waffling on the premise for the Iraq war:

All of these excuses just don't add up. To put it simply, this was the excuse for President Bush [sic] and the Conservative Party [sic again], to settle an old score with Saddam Hussein. Many people say, "We had to take Saddam out. He was killing his people to keep his power." What's the difference between Saddam killing his people to maintain power, and the U.S. killing 500,000 innocent children in Iraq, in our quest to find "weapons of mass destruction," to maintain world power? ...

Well, now that everything is "settled" the rest of us sane Americans can rest assured that our families and friends are going to war and dying on the battle line for something great. A speculation of weapons to be "settled."

While I'm not surprised that even high school students are opining on the current world situation, I am awed at how much their respective comments (not to mention the inequality of word length) reflect the real party lines and coverage of American politics. Hey, at least they're thinking about it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

What is Louisiana smoking?

For the Sept. 29 Vermilion, a local-flavored column that I think anyone can appreciate no matter where they live:

People in Louisiana, for all of their positive qualities, are really fond of passing profoundly stupid laws. This goes back centuries, of course, and continues unabated into today. And while Lafayette fares better than some of its more uptight cousins above the Mason-Alexandria line, Cajun Country still has its moments of legislative idiocy.

I had to cringe, for example, at the recent ruling that no more bars could open downtown. Apparently, the rationale was that the preponderance of nightclubs was bringing out unsavory crowds. Look, I lived downtown for 19 years, when Jefferson Street looked like an H-bomb had struck it. The area was desolate, decaying and dangerous. Now its night life thrives and brings out the crowds with energy to spare and money to spend. But that offended some churches, so downtown growth has been stifled.

And don’t forget Amendment One, in which Louisianians voted nearly 80-20 against civil unions because we “suthinas” not only can’t repress our fear and prejudice, but actively praise it in our state law. Man, if the state was trying to keep people here to live and work, couldn’t they at least have given us something to brag about? “Louisiana: It’s like a whole other planet.” As much as I love my native state, my threshold of apology for it has finally hit bedrock.

So you can probably understand my shock when a Lafayette advocacy group proposed a law that I liked—or, I should say, didn’t want immediately to smack with a baseball bat. The Coalition for a Healthy Acadiana Regional Grassroots Effort (CHARGE) has requested an ordinance to make Lafayette the first smokeless city in Louisiana.

The ban would prevent smoking in public facilities including campuses, auditoriums, government buildings and busses. At last, a smart Louisiana law! The Lafayette Parish Consolidated Government has yet to consider it, though President Joey Durel has promised that it will. And before you smokers get too pissed, note that bars, hotel rooms, casinos, tobacco shops and alcohol-selling restaurants will not be covered by the ban. That’s not so bad, is it? You can exhale with relief now, just as long as you don’t do it downwind.

Maybe I'm biased because I don't smoke. Whether it was the stifling dead-ashtray odor of my house or simply watching my parents and relatives smoke, something ruined it for me very early on. Is there anything less cool than what your parents do? Thanks, mom and dad! You truly are the anti-drug.

The smoking debate is a peculiar one because of its political complexities. On one hand, you have (or should have) the right to ingest whatever you choose. On the other hand, you have the diabolical tobacco industry and its greed, lies and political clout. On the third hand, people have the right to breathe smoke-free air. So where is the line (or triangle) drawn?

It’s a tricky issue, and one that transcends liberal and conservative politics. Hippies and holy rollers alike smoke in huge numbers; I once even saw a priest, fully decked in Vatican-esque apparel, sneaking one in the cemetery after a funeral service. Nicotine addiction knows no labels.

So I admit I’m not huge on the issue of “smokers’ rights.” Last I checked, one person’s rights end with the infringement of another’s, and that’s what smoking in an enclosed space can do. And unlike in a club, where people step in with the understanding that there might be smoking going on (though New York City has successfully banned that also), people deserve to right to a smoke-free school or other public environment. It’s as fundamental as, well, the right to light up. Outside.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The Good (Text) Book

While doing some homework this afternoon, I noticed a lot of scribblings in my rhetoric textbook. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that someone had blacked out all of the Es in "BCE." For the uninitiated, "BCE" stands for "Before Common Era," a secularization of "BC." Historians apparently noted that "BC" and "AD" (itself replaced by "CE") are a little too Christian for a world calendar, so they substituted them. And as is the usual practice in Louisiana, the evangelical Jesus freaks defaced my textbook just to show the world like to mark things. Just like the beast!

Thus sayeth the Lord: "She who writeth in ye margin shall ascend to heaven" (Scribbler 10:16) Posted by Hello

Click the above pic to enlarge it. It looks like that kind of perfect handwriting you see in ads that are made to look like they have handwriting on them. What you see is what I saw, and has not been altered in any way. I don't know who scribbled out the portion on the left-hand page, but I make it out to say, "When the world DIDN'T EXIST!" referring to the line "Around the tenth century B.C.E."

Even better, on page 43, this brave crusader crossed out "damning" in a sentence. Then she wrote "lindseybizilia @ hotmail" on the margin next to it. I take no responsibility for any hijinks that occur from that disclosure...I'll just say, to each their own, even if it makes my textbook hard to read.

Whatever happened to faith being a personal thing?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Paper Cuts

Yesterday was a great day for firing up the scanner, because of the great stuff that people put to paper. My daily ritual of going through the motions--school, Job One, falling asleep at Job Two, putting off Job Three and fretting about this weekend's Job Four--was appreciably enriched by the interesting things I picked up along the way:

You get what you pay for Posted by Hello

Few publications are thinner than a job guide in a Bush economy. Except, perhaps, for the following:

--Republican War Heroes
--Middle East Peace: A Timeline, 30,000,000 BCE to 2004
--Valid Arguments of the Religious Right
--Down-to-Earth Sorority Girls
--The FCC List of Acceptable Content
--Stuff Dubya Knows

After school and Job One, I drove to Job Two, my bi-weekly government beat, in the neighboring parish. Their budget sheet offered an interesting answer to the question, "How country is this place?"

The beating was free of charge Posted by Hello

After filing the story half an hour ahead of my 9:15 deadline (which, thanks to Hotmail, is still out in the cyberspace ether someplace), I grabbed tomorrow's edition of The Vermilion. In addition to the fine column "Uzi, can you see...," which is still drawing heated comments from Carl P...

"Liberal thinking is flawed and I intend to prove it." Posted by Hello

...There was this picture!

Now THERE'S a thought... Posted by Hello

Kudos to The Vermilion for actually acknowledging a curse word for the first time in three-and-a-half years, even if it didn't have the cojones to print out the entire "F." They're making strides.

So that was my day. Now go comment on the Uzi thread or something.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Yet another victory for ignorance

Louisiana votes 78-22 for homophobia

Best headline placement of the year Posted by Hello

From today's Daily Advertiser:

BATON ROUGE — By a 4-to-1 margin, Louisiana voters on Saturday approved the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

With all precincts reporting, 618,869 people, or 78 percent, voted for the amendment, and 177,145, or 22 percent, voted against.

John Hill, the journalist who wrote this article, is clearly gleeful that this monstrosity passed. Witness his use of quotations:

Republican state Rep. Steve Scalise of Metairie, the chief sponsor the proposition in the Legislature, called the results “a huge mandate that the people want to protect marriage.”

Sharla Young of Lafayette called the results “wonderful. The community here spoke in favor of traditional family values.”

Some criticized the proposed amendment as an expression of intolerance. But “I think it’s a matter of people standing up and defining marriage as being between a husband and a wife,” Young said.

Notice the complete lack of elaboration on the anti-amendment criticism there? If I had done that in journalism school (as I sometimes did), I would have been sent back out and accused of not doing my job. Curse that liberal media!

“We’ve spoken as a state that we will not recognize as a sacred covenant a same-sex relationship.”

Oh, so states are now in the business of deciding what is and isn't a sacred covenant? Nice precedent you've set there. I guess we're due for another Plymouth rock!

Mark Stanford of Lafayette, who opposed the amendment, said he believes Louisiana residents were misled into thinking the state would follow Massachusetts by allowing gay marriages. What it really means, he said, is that he’ll be forced to get his siblings’ signatures on documents to allow him to bequeath property to his male partner.

“This was all politics, obviously,” Stanford said. “We’re a small group, and we’re easy to scapegoat.”

Wow! Finally, some balance! Even if it does completely downplay the real problems that this new amendment presents.

But enough about the reporting. Some of the stuff I wanted to say about the latest victory for the religious right just isn't fit for print even on this anarchic blog, so I'll reprint some comments I made on our grad-student listserv. Most of the students in my department were against the amendment, and some were talking about how little respect they had for Louisianians. Another was telling us that, even though the result sucked, we should have faith in the majority rule. Their comments sparked the following letters from myself, edited here for clarity:

We're going to hear a lot from the right about the 80-20, "majority rules" principle. Fair enough. But they should never forget what Alexis de Tocqueville termed "the tyranny of the majority." He argued that it was always in the majority's best interests to protect the interest of the minority, lest the minority ever become the majority. With the overwhelming passage of Amendment One, the voters have clearly not done so. No amendment that irrevocably takes away the rights of a minority is anything less than total tyranny of the majority. The majority? Well, yes, at least voting-wise. The final percentage speaks volumes about that. I don't think, as Mitch said, that our rhetoric failed. It's just that we were up against people whose very moral fabric hinges on what other people do in their bedrooms. Of COURSE every single one of them was going to turn out!

Other factors contributed as well. Two of them can be summed up by the reactions of my parents on election day. My dad, a politically aware and active man, said the issue wasn't important and that it was doomed to fail because of its across-the-board ban of all civil benefits. In other words, he would have voted against it but was too apathetic to go to the polls. My also-politically-astute mom, whom I met at our precinct to vote, had been confused about the wording for awhile. My column, she admitted, made little sense to her. When she came out of the booth, the first thing she asked me was, "What did I just vote against?" She said that, were it not for my explanation to her, she would have been totally clueless. Complacency and confusion, then, I think really hurt the "no" contingent.

Like Dan, I am ashamed of the people of this state, who overwhelmingly let their preachers guide all of their decisions. That's not everyone, of course, but a pretty large demographic chunk. Not to mention that liberal-leaning New Orleans reported a shortage in voting machines. Real nice. In any event, this decision clearly and solidly proves what I have been bandying about in my mind for years: that I am a Louisianian by birth only, and that I am simply not equipped with the tolerance to stay here much longer.

I hate to tear down Louisiana, as hard as that may be to believe sometimes. Louisiana is a complex place (almost three states in one, really: North Louisiana, South Louisiana and New Orleans), and the Cajun culture combines the tolerant sensibilities of progressive America with a convivial party spirit and the best aspects of that elusive concept known as "southern hospitality." Even LA's politics are odd: we're considered hardcore conservative territory, yet we went for Clinton both times and have only recently began to have a true Republican Party presence. Never forget, however, that this is a state that did not integrate its schools until 1970 and still follows many of the voting patterns of its fellow southern Dixiecrat states. Politically, the state still has a long way to go, as do many states. It's the pride on the part of most Louisianians and southerners not to ever change a thing that irritates me.

In this case "what's in it for me?" doesn't really apply for those who supported the amendment. After all, this amendment does nothing for the people who wanted it, because they already have their rights. If there was something in it for them, then it was the satisfaction of denying a group of people equals rights because they didn't believe those people deserved those rights. But I'd like to think that that wasn't the prime motivation. I'd like to...

Oh, and did I mention that my parents were a civil union until yesterday?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Caption madness

Dumb other truckers! Posted by Hello

This week's caption contest is just screaming for puns on the words "drive." Here's a few (drive-free) tries of my own:

--Texas debuts the nation's first "Driver's Special Ed" program
--"This truck gits 8 malls per gallon. You lack that, don't ya Dick?"
--Poor George mistook his a/c vent for a paper shredder again
--Bush stays the course on the narrow road without looking ahead
--"This here's that road I been tellin' you about, the one paved with good intentions."
--"Race ya, Dick!"
--"Damn, dropped mah beer again..."
--Casting call for the new Mad Max sequel
--"My way or the highway!"

Friday, September 17, 2004

“Uzi, can you see…”

Here's my latest Vermilion column, to be published in the Sept. 22 issue. In case you don't click on the local reference, Dupre Library is part of the UL Lafayette campus (specifically, it serves as the library).

If you’ve been to Dupre Library recently, you’ve no doubt seen the wonderful sign that graces a pillar near the checkout desk:

“Under LAS 44:13, the library makes every effort to protect your privacy, but under the Federal USA PATRIOT Act (PL 107-56), records of the books and other materials you borrow from this library and information about sites you visit and activities you conduct on the library’s public access computers may be obtained by federal agents.

“That federal law prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you.”

That has to be the most miserable sign I have ever seen! I pity the nation’s good librarians who are forced to deal with this. It’s the kind of thing you might expect to see in a documentary about a long-defunct fascist regime. Yet here it is, in America, in 2004. I’m not at all a violent person—I often flush cockroaches rather than stomp on them—but I had to restrain myself from tearing it down.

Big Buddy Government would be proud of my anger. After all, we’re living in an age of violence, and there’re terrorists to hunt! If I get mad enough, then I just might buy a gun and become a REAL American! And, thanks to our marvelous majority-ignoring representatives, doing so just got much easier.

The 10-year-old ban on assault weapons, a universally applauded measure widely credited with a sharp reduction in violent crime rates since 1994, lapsed on Sept. 13. We have Congress to thank for murdering it. This expiration brings with it the resurrection of such weapons as the Uzi, the TEC-9 and the AK-47. For millions of Americans, duck season is now in full swing—duck-and-cover season.

William Bratton, LAPD Chief of Police, wrote in the L.A. Daily News that “the best defense of our homeland security will depend on the front lines of local law enforcement officers. We need our lawmakers' help by putting obstacles, such as the assault-weapons ban, in the path of terrorists." But what would some cop living in Los Angeles know about guns?

At least one group sees the return of assault weapons as a key to winning the war on terrorism. "In countries like the United States, it's perfectly legal for members of the public to own certain types of firearms. If you live in such a country, obtain an assault rifle legally, preferably an AK-47 or variations." That quote is from a recently unearthed al-Qaida training manual. Yes, al-Qaida certainly seems to hate us for our freedoms.

All you need to know about where the Bush administration stands on this issue lies in the fact that, after 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft allowed for extensive government intrusion into everyone’s personal information. He drew the line, however, at gun records. Weapons possession, Ashcroft said, was too sacred to investigate. Gee, someone’s license plate must read “NRA HOR.”

So remember, citizens: machine guns are good, books are bad! With the PATRIOT Act and the lapse of the weapons ban, it’s less of a hassle to buy a TEC-9 assault pistol than it is to check out “The History of the TEC-9 Assault Pistol.”

To quote that old cliché, the pen is mightier than the sword. And, lately, the pen has been making some pretty good cases for putting down the sword. The guy who sang that “words are weapons” must be turning in his grave right now. And not just because INXS broke up, but because his phrase has been taken way too literally by the anti-intellectual right. Knowledge is the real weapon, one that is feared more by corrupt leaders than any bullet.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The "teammates" list takes fertility drugs

If you scroll down, you'll notice that the much-coveted list of blog teammates more than doubled in size from 12 to 25. After receiving two e-mails from bloggers today telling me they had found my site, I checked out, a great site that shows sites that have linked to yours. Out of my results I found some pretty cool sites, most of which mentioned this site in one way or another (and all of which have interesting angles on life). Here's a synopsis of the latest teammates of Not Right About Anything:

Alternative Energy News Blog: James from London delivers the latest scoop on all things relating to alternative fuel technologies. The compelling and thorough content includes news reports, research and photos of innovative energy sites all over the world. Daily proof that Halliburton will someday be gone with the wind.

American Ex: This blog is the work of Thomas McCay, an American expatriate living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He fled the United States in 1970 the avoid the draft, and since then has been observing political events from angles that us state-dwellers often miss. American Ex is a fine mix of current events and personal recollections told from the perspective of a generation that just might be repeating itself.

The Iraq War was Wrong Blog: Self-explanatory.

Blog Reload: This is the official blog of our old friend thehim, a consistent presence on Not Right. Good stuff here; he's never short of something to say or links to ponder.

Library Chronicles: Jeffrey from New Orleans shares his observations on life and the world. Sharp firsthand coverage of Hurricane Ivan shows that he is not only a keen observer but also
a crazy one. The best kind of blogger!

Suburban Manifesto: Alternative entertainment by Emily. This music-centered blog makes this list for its excellent blogroll and a particularly amusing post on gay marriage. Proof that the future might be in decent hands after all!

Heart Failure: Our good friend myoujou has been left off out of the teammate loop for far too long. Our Phoenix connection harps on all kinds of things. More importantly, she's good, especially with the pop-culture references that I thought only I still knew. She's such a nerd, and so am I, so there you go.

The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy: If you haven't visited VLWC yet, you should.

Naked Furniture: Mary, a native Cajun now attending law school at Notre Dame, looks at law in the age of Bush Nation when she can stand to. I'm not sure where she is from exactly, but here in Lafayette we do (or did) have a store called "Naked Furniture." It had been called "Unpainted Furniture by Louise" up until a few years ago. Louise is apparently one kinky woman.

Occasional Thoughts of Jeff Davis: Whoa, come back! Relax, I'm not talking about THAT Jeff Davis! This Chicago-based blogger is a self-proclaimed "radical centrist." He actually defies the whole teammate/opponent thing, sounding at times equal parts Ann Coulter and Bill Clinton. He's also a "God-seeker" without the Pat Robertsonism that that often entails. I grant him teammate status because he generates well-thought-out posts on the successes and failures of both major political parties. That, and because he linked me entirely without provocation.

Musing's Musings: Another teammate blog that should have been included long ago, NRAA mainstay Michael regales us with his, uh, musings on politics and sports. Check him out, because he has good taste in politics, sports and (of course) blogs.

The Desperate Times: From sociable_solipsist (a cynical fourth-grade teacher in southeast Louisiana) and Flamingo Jones (a cynical one-time-teacher (?) who used to be in Louisiana) comes this blog. Their hilarious post on the top crush-worthy conservatives demands a look!

Liberal Coalition: A sort of all-star liberal blog, or at least a fledgling one. I say all-star because I don't post on it. I'm more like a mascot.

I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed in the glaring lack of recent anti-Ian entries out there. Guess I'll have to barnstorm some right-wing sites again as soon as I have some time. But I did manage to find one, and it's pretty good:

Spreading Understanding: The name makes me think of manure, which is actually kind of appropriate. This site is run by the Masked Truth out of three isn't bad, big daddy. Of all the liberal bloggers to trash and call "monkey" during the RNC, he chose me. Gee Wally, I'm flattered! Even if he did completely make up a quote to trash me. And you know what to expect from a blogger who uses the spelling "hippy" instead of "hippie." It's as if they all go to the same meetings...

I'm currently working on a new column that I will put out as soon as possible; it's pretty late as it is. It's going to be pretty decent, I think. Until then, please give these guys and girls a visit. I'll talk to you all again soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Fatin' for wat rats

But who will beat up the Muslims and black people? Posted by Hello

Today I was waiting to cross the street at school when I saw this sticker on a traffic-light pole. Priceless! I wish I'd seen the guy (you know it has to be a guy) who posted these all over campus. Call me stereotypical, but I have a feeling he looked somewhat like this fine fellow, the chairman of National Alliance, the eerily German-named Erich Gliebe:

He's a veteran Aryan Posted by Hello

I have to say that I agree with half of the sticker's sentiment, "Bring our troops home." Hell yeah! And the other half makes me ponder as well. After all, who wants to be hanging out on Saturday afternoon and see THIS frightening scene??

Go back to...uh...New Mexico! Posted by Hello

Kind of puts the "panic" in "Hispanic," eh? Must be gawd's will! Otherwaas he would nuff given them that thar name! Too bad Gawd didn't make them as puh-fict as us wat chirren!

For an even tastier treat, check out the National Alliance site! You alreay know what to expect, I can imagine. Still, man, still...

Gentleracists prefer blondes Posted by Hello

These guys really need to get laid. Like, quickly. Ole'!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Caption time again!

Dumb as the post on which it was stuck Posted by Hello

My sister brought me this gem from school. I kind of put her up to it, actually, daring her to steal one for Not Right About Anything (well, okay, for me too). She tells me that these are all over campus.

And what's a great flyer without a Kirk Cameron reference? I like the implication about how you'll face the apocalypse if you don't join the Conservative Club. Especially if you have the nerve to join on Sept. 1, you HEATHEN!!

And just in case you're wondering...yes you are...there is no Liberal Club. Though there is, amusingly enough, a Patriotism Club! Wow, man, peer pressure was bad enough in high school when all we had was the Young Republicans! Which had Democrats in it too. Don't ask.


And have you met his lovely wife, Get? Posted by Hello

Yet another gem from Democratic Underground, this screen capture is from "The O'Reilly Factor." Check out the name and the town. Yes, this was on national TV!! Bart Simpson would indeed be proud. Finest moment: according to DU, Bill O'Reilly then continued to make references to "Mr. Mehoffer." If only I had seen that (of course, that would have entailed actually watching his show, so maybe not).

In the interest of not jumping the gun on tongue-in-cheek DU observations, I did a little quick research myself. Mehoffer IS, in fact, a real last name! Jozef Mehoffer (1869-1946), for example, was a Polish painter. This incident proves one of two things: either the letter was the work of a slick prankster, or someone with connections to fine art and culture watches Bill O'Reilly's show.

I'm going with the prankster.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Something about this doesn't fly

Bush claimed to be sky-high in 1978

Lying about flying on his flyer Posted by Hello

Democratic Underground has broken a story as surprising as it is, well, not surprising. The above clip comes from a newspaper ad for Dubya's 1978 bid for U.S. Congress. The underlined portion brags not only about Bush's TANG service (itself up for dispute), but also his proud service in the U.S. Air Force! Wha--?

Damn, it's been hard enough tracking down people to verify Bush's service in the Alabama National Guard in 1972-73! Now we have to debunk this lie also? Jeez, George, we have enough ammo already, thanks...

See the extensive thread, along with the full ad, here. For even more great fun, view the full-size copy and pretend you're a Texan in 1978, reading the newspaper and discovering the thrills of George W. Bush for the first time.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Infighting among teammates

My friend and yours, Michael J. Gallimore of American Journal, has posted an essay that I admit I was a little shocked to see. Basically, he's arguing that oil is not only a rational reason to fight in Iraq, but is the most important thing that humankind could ever fight for. He then offers a Mad Max scenario that would happen tomorrow if the Middle East denied us oil (which he is apparently implying would happen if we admitted we were wrong about Iraq).

Let's put it bluntly: oil is our fucking blood. Got it? If you don't think so ask yourself what would happen if the tap was turned off tomorrow. (Hint: In some very finite number of days everything stops moving.)

It wouldn't at all surprise me to read this kind of thing on IMAO or Strong and Wrong, but when I read it on the American Journal, a blog I respect immensely, I become concerned. Is he right (and I wrong) that wars should be fought over oil and that the market, not Halliburton, has decided forever that electric/hydrogen cars and solar energy are not the future?

Another 9/11?

You know how Republicans are always warning about the next Sept. 11 being just around the corner? Well, today, it happened!

Dubya is God! BUSH/CHENEY 2004!!

Friday, September 10, 2004

A military funeral

Joe's funeral card Posted by Hello

Today was the day they buried my friend Joe Thibodeaux, the local soldier who was killed in Iraq. As a veteran funeral-goer, I find that every service I attend falls into one of three categories:

1) The old funeral--at this service, someone lived to a very old age and death isn't entirely unexpected. People in this category are often terminally ill or otherwise lost it many years prior.

2) The "it-was-just-their-time" funeral--these people are often cut down in late adulthood (or even young adulthood) as a result of some short-term disease. Though the cause of death often takes hold quickly, it does give the victims enough time to come to terms with dying.

3) The "tragic" funeral--people who just plain SHOULD NOT BE DEAD. The decedent is usually young and dies in an accident of some sort or homicide/suicide. In this situation, a funeral service is the saddest; mourners really mourn and people really cry. Some are simply too shocked to express emotion. When military service or other heroics are involved, people cope by reflecting on the heroism and nobility of the cause of death.

Joe's funeral was most definitely a type three. It brought together several members of my graduating class in a tearful high school reunion. The service was conducted very well, with a wake at the funeral-home chapel. At 10:45, we all joined a motorcade to the church for the funeral itself. As we passed Lafayette High School, we were met with this:

LHS students greet the motorcade Posted by Hello

The entire student body, along with a 100-foot-high American flag and a Bette Midler medley, greeted us along both sides of the street. This picture doesn't do it justice; this was really AMAZING. During my time at LHS, we had greeted funeral motorcades more than once; but never with the reverence and the pomp that met us today. It was elaborate without being gaudy, and the students (for the most part) showed respect.

The church service was held at Holy Cross Catholic Church and was well-done. Joe's older brother Max, himself a soldier based in Washington D.C., gave the sole eulogy. He said that Joe was a kid who found happiness in "a fast car and having someone to hold." Max also told of the infant Joe's "ability to climb out of windows" and his ability to create a diversion so that he could do so. Joe, he said, was one who always lived at home yet yearned for something bigger. He joined the U.S. Army in 2000, quickly becoming a crack sharpshooter. He had even hoped to enter the Olympics as a marksman, I read later. Max delivered the eulogy dressed in full military brass and contained himself well, though he broke down at the end.

Afterwards, Joe was laid to rest in a part of the Lafayette Memorial Park cemetery reserved for veterans:

Joe is laid to rest Posted by Hello

Joe received full military honors, including "Taps" and a six-gun salute. The American flag draping his coffin was folded into a triangle and handed to his grieving parents, along with his uniform set in a triangular frame. He received two military honors posthumously: a Silver Star and a promotion to Corporal.

Even after the service was officially concluded, virtually no one moved. Never have I seen everyone gathered around a funeral tent remain static as long as we all did. Even though we were all sweating buckets in the high-noon Louisiana humidity, we all wanted to stay for just 10 more minutes and say goodbye to Joe Thibodeaux. Rest in peace, man. We love you.