Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gun-clingers and other swine

Got this from a member of the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee:

Friends— Please take a moment to complete the following form within the next 24 hours. I have been a member of the NRA for years and for the first time in my memory the NRA is offering a 1 year free membership to everyone who completes the attached form and return emails. Please complete the form and send in for a 1 year free membership to the NRA. This organization is protecting our 2nd Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Thank you very much to each of you for your activism and please forward this to everyone and lets try to get 20 million members in the NRA.

Subject: FREE NRA MEMBERSHIPS, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, 1-YR The NRA is giving FREE 1-yr memberships to everyone that wants to join. Please join and pass it around. They are trying to build up their membership against anti-gun laws OBAMA [SCARY!] is trying to pass.

You know, I admire these guys. Sticking to their guns - literally - when there's a threat out there actually sort of worth being concerned about. I haven't heard anything about Obama wanting to repeal the Second Amendment (and that's despite all those shootouts), but I have heard that swine flu is spreading somewhat. Don't you love the priorities of these swine?

Speaking of the swine flu, I see no reason to be afraid. Concerned, yes. Vigilant, yes. But not paranoid, at least in the Bushian, plastic-sheeting-and-duct-tape sense. One person has died in the U.S. from the outbreak, a Mexican toddler. More than one-fifth of U.S. cases originated from a single school in New York. There is at least some logic to its spreading pattern. Take precautions, but be smart.

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control reminds you not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Unless you cough or sneeze, in which case cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. I guess you don't touch the tissue?

Screw this. I quit breathing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Conservatives skeptical of Obama's birth

WASHINGTON - A leading coalition of conservative politicians and pundits on Monday expressed continued skepticism over President Barack Obama's birth.

The group, known as Barack Obama's Miracle Birth Augments Socialist Tyranny (BOMBAST), is led by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a leading critic of Obama's legitimacy as commander-in-chief.

"We haven't seen any conclusive proof that Barack Obama was, in fact, born," Shelby said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "And if he wasn't born, then he isn't President of the United States, constitutionally speaking."

Throughout the 2008 presidential race, the Obama campaign maintained that their candidate was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. The campaign maintained a Web site,, which included a certified copy of Obama's birth certificate. Though Obama posted the document to quiet rumors that he was never born, conservative pundits were still not satisfied.

"That birth certificate is clearly a modern-day forgery," asserted conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. "Why can't we get the original digital printout from 1961? Is that too much to ask? Well, it is if you never existed."

Obama became a national figure in 2004, when he delivered a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in support of then-presidential nominee John Kerry. Then running for U.S. senator in Illinois, Obama captivated millions with his eloquence, youth and vitality.

"He just came out of nowhere," Shelby said of Obama. "Real people are born."

Limbaugh cited the 2007 stamp on Obama's birth certificate as further proof that the president doesn't exist.

"Obama first electrified the Dems in 2004, and his birth certificate is dated 2007. Coincidence? I think not," Limbaugh said last November. "It's simply a cover-up to disguise his lack of experience in being alive."

Shelby pointed to Obama's devoted worldwide following as further proof.

"Everywhere he goes, Obama is hailed like a messiah," he said. "It's as if he's a god to them. Someone up in the heavens on the astral plane. Certainly not someone who is busy in the White House reversing the Bush doctrine and regressive tax cuts. That's not happening. No way."

Republicans in both houses of Congress are currently at work on legislation requiring Obama to prove his birth. The Show Your Face Act will compel Obama to provide original documentation of his 1961 birth, including soiled diapers and his original foreskin. It will also demand a full interview from Obama's alleged mother, Anne Dunham, who died in 1995.

"Obama's parents are dead," radio pundit Michael Savage said on Election Day. "And his grandmother just happens to die the day before the election. That leaves no one else to vouch for his birth. How convenient! I smell a setup."

The bill would also require the president to address a joint session of Congress at least once a year, preferably in January. If passed, the legislation would remain in effect through Jan. 20, 2013, at which time the GOP minority could choose to renew it for four more years.

The White House denies the charges.

"Barack Obama is the president and is very much alive," a senior administration official said. "I just talked to him a few minutes ago, in fact. The president feels that he put these rumors to bed a long time ago, just by being there to talk about them. How much more proof do you need?"

Still, Shelby remains unconvinced.

"There's simply no way that this man is fit to be president," he said. "He claims to have been a baby, yet he appears to be a full-grown man. He also claims to be born in Hawaii, yet he lives in Washington, D.C. Something doesn't add up.

"Until we know for sure, BOMBAST will continue to doubt Obama's existence," Shelby concluded. "But we know one thing for sure: whether or not Obama was ever born, he did attend that madrassa school in Indonesia."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Wrong" doesn't get much wronger than this

I thought it was bizarre enough that Plaster Sports Complex, the football stadium of Missouri State University, was a 45-minute drive out of the way of the school, on the outskirts of the outskirts of town. But my own university's football stadium was a relatively long haul from the campus, so I thought it was possible. Anyway, I've seen far weirder things in this city.

Well, not only was it not there, but NOTHING was there. I'd call it the sticks, but even the sticks said, "Screw this," and fell elsewhere. I drove literally the entire expanse of Farm Road 97 twice, and barely managed to get back to something I recognized. At one point during this trip, a road crew sprayed a hose that nearly drenched the inside of my car. Needless to say, I felt this wasn't at all a complete waste of time and an utter ruination of my plans.

(Interestingly enough, the road crossing Farm Road 97 at the A-spot is Route 66. Yes, THE Route 66. Perhaps this map was a trick to boost tourism?)

It turns out that not only is the complex in town and very close to my job, where I have to work this afternoon, but I've actually seen the place. That's what I get for trusting Google Maps not to be this utterly and disastrously wrong.

Keep that in mind the next time you use Google Maps. It might help to get a second opinion.

(UPDATE: I was able to edit the mark to put it where it actually belongs. I've been shafted by online maps before, but never this severely. So I'm guessing someone shoved it a dozen or so miles out of the way as a prank. And thanks to all the Springfieldians who thought this was so hilarious. I guess if I'd lived here all my life, or had gone there at least once before, I'd be laughing too.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Whatever happened to, "shut up and sing?"

Above: The 2012 Republican convention (nomination speech).

Carrie Prejean is being hailed by Republicans everywhere for defending "traditional marriage" at the Miss USA pageant, and essentially losing as a result. I put "traditional marriage" in quotes, because it's a terrible, terrible term, and I want you to understand that I'm using it only for the loaded buzzword that it is.

I don't understand why gays can't get married. Legally, the government's role in marriage is to recognize the civil contract between two consenting adults. Why can't those consenting adults be of the same sex? Would that bar heterosexuals from marrying? No. Is it a moral issue? That's up to the couple and their church to decide. Until I hear a compelling argument against gay marriage that isn't explicitly religious in nature, I see no reason for "traditional marriage" to be the rule in the United States.

Prejean is winning much praise in conservative circles for her bold stand in such a public arena. This proves two things: 1) the right has an admirably flexible stance when it comes to political posturing in a neutral public arena; and 2) "traditional marriage" is apparently a daring viewpoint these days. Considering how states are falling like righteous dominoes for gay marriage, perhaps that second point is actually true.

What's gotten lost in the whole discussion is just how stupid her answer actually was:

What she said: "I think it is great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what? In my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anyone out there, but that is how I was raised..."

Putting particulars aside for a second, this statement is contradictory. First she says it's great to have choices in marriage, but then in her country (HER country?) we shouldn't have them? Kind of the way right-wingers say veterans fought for your right to free speech, so shut up?

And isn't "That is how I was raised" used to justify every form of abuse from spanking on up?

Prejean later said she was being "biblically correct," as opposed to "politically correct." Well, I won't argue that (I easily could, but it's a beautiful day out). But what she is essentially saying is that moral convictions are, or should be, above Americans' legal rights to make choices. Which, once again, reinforces my view that there is no legal, secular argument against gay marriage.

Regardless, I'm not going to ridicule Miss California for speaking out or for defending her stance. That's her right. And, after all, it was gay gossip-blogger Perez Hilton who asked the question in the first place.

Hilton's gotten a lot of static for the exchange. I thought the question was fair and civil; but his Twitters calling her "a dumb bitch" and worse afterwards just made him look petulant. There's also the question of why he was a judge, and whether such a ratings-feeding confrontation wasn't in pageant organizers' minds in the first place. It's unfortunate that Hilton is reacting that way, because he's correct on the issue.

An incident like this only helps conservatives, because it pits the all-American beauty queen against the loudmouth, obnoxious gay guy. It allows her to look earnest and sincere while he comes off as confrontational and childish.

Then again, there are much more important things going on. And it's not like Prejean's a front-runner for the 2012 GOP nomination...just third or fourth at best.

At the end, I think we can all agree now that California is equal-opportunity crazy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Things I'm thinking about

- The infamous RedFlex speed vans are being pulled from both Louisiana and Arizona after someone murdered a van driver in Phoenix. Apparently, this is where the company draws the line - not at squelching constitutional rights, not at corporate carpetbagging, not at widespread public opposition, not even at a Lafayette driver having plowed a van into a ditch. No, it took a horrible, cold-blooded murder (which initial reports say was motivated by the van itself) to get RedFlex to say, "Well, maybe this isn't worth it...for now." So much for the system saving lives! How much money are these cities getting for fanning irrational homicidal urges, anyway?

- My clock radio woke me up this morning to the strains of Taylor Swift's "Love Story." I have problems with this song. First off, she's barely 19. I know in country-music years that makes her an old maid, but my Nintendo is older than her, and it's still searching for a nice Xbox. This song triumphantly ends with a wedding-proposal verse; I assume the reception bar will be serving Yoo-Hoo, because she's too young to drink. Or to get married, for that matter.

And what's with the "I talked to your father / Go pick out a white dress?" He forgot to mention to color-coordinate the leash, but if she hangs out with these guys she must innately know that part. Do guys still seek the father's permission when proposing? I understand it's a tradition, but so is trading goats for a wife. Regardless, it's a odd development, given that the dad spends the entire song keeping Romeo away from Taylor's Juliet.

Yes, the Romeo-Juliet parallel. Don't Romeo and Juliet die at the end? I don't think that's what Taylor was shooting for. At the very least, she could have had the last verse be an update on their lives 10 years later, to see just how happily-ever-after they actually are at, uh, 29. Damn, I feel old...

- Public wedding proposals are tacky. I like them best when the woman says no.

- Today is Earth Day. I shall celebrate by turning off all unnecessary pow--

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New rules

Rule #91: Ballpark figure
If sports stadiums must be named after corporate sponsors, then said sponsors must have some tangential connection to sports. Rawlings Park. Wilson Field. Riddell Arena. Hell, those almost sound like actual names. Enough with this cell phone and bank shit! Just because you have all the money doesn't mean you should be able to piss your name onto every structure in exchange for some luxury corporate suites. Sometimes I wonder if the teams aren't doing this out of sheer cynicism.

Saints owner Tom Benson never met a used car he didn't like, and Louisiana never met a toxic-waste plant or oil derrick it didn't love. But even they won't add the name of a beloved politician to the Superdome, much less give Halliburton a crack at it.

If I ever start a business (and why wouldn't I in this economy?), I'm going to officially name it, Co. Inc. LLC. Then I'll buy naming rights to a beloved ballpark and call the Associated Press and ESPN and demand that they refer to my stadium as Co. Inc. LLC Field. And they'll do it, too, because money talks. Who cares what the fans think? I won't be able to hear them through my insulated luxury box anyway.

Rule #92: Absent tea leave
Don't assume everyone who doesn't support the tea parties is some welfare-sucking leech on society. I'm not, and neither are millions of others. You know what I was doing while you were out dressed like Ben Franklin? Working. What were you doing? Holding up a misspelled sign for a cause you don't understand. Don't like the blanket generality? Exactly.

Rule #93: Always up for semantics
If a political committee's mission is to lobby for more pollution/logging/drilling, it can't be called Clean Air for America/Pristine Forest Initiative/Alliance for New Fuel or any other completely B.S. trick of a name. Oh, and no more Freedom, Liberty, Family or America. Most groups with those words in their name seem to mean it as a joke.

All the rules

Monday, April 20, 2009

Report insults troops by suggesting one or two of them might be susceptible to hate groups later in life

Footnote in Homeland Security report sparks hysteria

The report reached me on a listserv from an outraged writer, accompanied by a list of what it means to be a right-winger (written by right-wingers, so it's as funny as you'd expect). Subsequently, I was bombarded by numerous replies adding items to the list, most of which came from oil contractors and most expressing lust for Ann Coulter.

From reading these e-mailed items, it appears that the idea that the "far right=American" mentality is very much alive and well. In the aftermath of 9/11, having a dissenting opinion often meant you were hassled on the street and possibly checked out by law-enforcement agencies. It could even cause tensions among family and good friends. Numerous peace groups and political parties were put on watch lists or were infiltrated. In that age of fear, simple dissent of speech became conflated with the very real threats from both foreign and domestic sources. All the while, these acts were rationalized, "because you can't be too careful."

There's just one problem with that. You CAN be too careful. Earlier in the decade - amid all the Ari Fleischer-emanated fear, no less - a string of PC viruses was leaving computers vulnerable. Having been a PC virus victim in the past, my dad took no chances and quickly installed several anti-viral programs on our family computer. We didn't get hit by any viruses. But I also couldn't access the Internet. The setup was so safe that it literally blocked everything. But then I thought, "What if something smarter bypassed these protections? Then it really wasn't worth it."

The same goes for rights. No one should ever be persecuted for exercising their rights, nor for holding opinions contrary to those in power. I've always said this and I always will.

But that isn't the issue with this list. The groups on it are often heavily armed and repeatedly express threats toward the government. Some are racist in nature, and aren't happy with a black president. They are convinced that those who disagree with their beliefs are terrorists. And they have a potentially rich recruitment base in returning soldiers who may have chips on their shoulders, or far worse, who have been further disillusioned by stop-loss, a crippled VA system and inadequate military compensation. It also allows for the possibility of independent acts such as those carried out by Gulf War veterans Tim McVeigh and John Allen Muhammad. The report is precautionary, not a mandate to round up troops (it also warns against extreme-left activity with the same urgency). The Veterans of Foreign Wars defended it, while the right-leaning American Legion and Vets For Freedom groups were the ones calling for apologies.

I'd call this one misguided outrage, which is at least a step up from the false Tea Party outrage.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Teabag funnies

Liberal blogger takes advantage of an open microphone to dispel the Tea Party protest with a single point (the one I made here yesterday) in Pensacola:

The best part is that he isn't even disagreeing with them, just pointing out that they are protesting the wrong president. When he points out that our current tax structure still reflects Bush's budget, everyone BOOS. So much for nonpartisan protest, hey? Then again, that guy should have known not to introduce facts into a mob. I hear they hate that.

Locally, we had a pretty big turnout for our own Tea Party protest. Funniest - and probably most horrible - comment provoked online:

"There hasn't been a crowd like this in the streets of Springfield since 1906."


Thursday, April 16, 2009

A BIG rule

Rule #90: Tea standing up
Conservatives need to take some time off and learn how to protest. This is what the curriculum should cover:

1) How not to dress. You may think you look like Thomas Paine, but I'm concerned that you're going to pitch me Colonial Penn insurance.

2) How to spell. Yes, conceding to spelling norms is elitist - secular education and all that. I understand. But if you're going to portray yourself as smarter than the government (and, really, how hard is that?), then it helps to make sure you don't devote yourself to fighting "facism" and other nonexistent entities.

3) Relevance. Throwing teabags into a river is so 1773. It also has jack to do with today's tax unrest, which apparently boils down to, "I don't like paying them." I don't know how to signify that ideology, but that's where your private-sector innovation, synergy and genius comes into play.

4) Perspective. After eight years of being labeled "unpatriotic," "treasonous," "un-American" and every related epithet for objecting to Bush administration policies, people like me are confused. Suddenly, not only is it OK to criticize the government, but it's already reached a boiling point? Suddenly, runaway government spending is bad? Suddenly, greed is killing us? Suddenly, we're on the doorstep to fascism? Man, that Barack Obama is good!

5) Sense of timing. When protesting Obama administration policies, it helps to wait until those policies have had minimal impact. Also, it helps if what's being protested aren't actually the very things that George W. Bush foisted upon us.

6) Nuance. Your protest shouldn't be so shallow as to be able to be debunked in a single sentence, such as: "If you make less than $250,000 a year, you will be receiving income tax cuts under the Obama administration, and most will get a payroll stimulus as well." Otherwise, you'll come off as defending those who least need (or deserve) defense. And, not to mention, one-dimensional.

Oh, one more thing...this class on effective protest cannot be taught in a classroom, or anywhere accessible via public roadways. Don't want to be hypocrites, after all.

More rules

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whoa. Wait. Wait. Wait.

You can't $pend your way out of debt? Really?

Funny...that's exactly what I'm doing to pay off my car! But if someone has a better plan, one that addresses the debt problem without that annoying spending requirement, I'd love to hear it. Maybe a tax cut is the answer?

(Photo from here)

Want to see some bad journalism?

Basic rules of journalism:

1) When you are interviewing someone, you let them speak occasionally. Allow them to get through at least part of their first point before spewing about how wrong they are. The idea is to give someone a platform for their views, not yours.

2) Address what the subject is actually talking about, rather than what you wish they were talking about:

Steve Leser: "The Tea Parties are the convoluted and calculated creations of major right-wing political players disguised as true grass-roots activism."
Stuart Varney: "Are you saying there's no deficit?"
Steve Leser: "There is a deficit and people are outraged, but the Web site was snapped up in mid-2008, so it's fishy to say that these Tea Parties are spontaneous outrage over President Obama."
Stuart Varney: "What would you do about the deficit?"

3) When interviewing someone, it's best to hold back on the indignant face until they've at least said something provocative. This goes double if you if you know in advance you're not going to like what the subject has to say. Varney's face isn't one of journalistic skepticism; it's one of a conservative college student getting a head start on something he's sure his hippie professor's going to say. Mock outrage.

4) It's bad form for a journalist to parrot the not-fit-for-Facebook argument that all of our economic problems began on January 20, 2009.

5) If the subject sets up the premise that a protest/war is a phony contrivance of the Republican Party, then Fox News will interpret that to mean the subject is against the protesters/troops. Every question that follows will roll on this track of thought.

Well, Stuart Varney got the fifth rule right, at least.

(It's also worth pointing out that the embed code for this video was incomplete, and that I had to call upon my HTML skills to complete it so it would work. Thanks, Fox.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My testy RSVP to the Tea Party

I don't see what the big deal is about not paying income taxes on April 15. I mean, I don't plan to. I took care of that in February.

By now, you've probably heard about those tea parties that libertarians (and other people who like randomly capitalizing words) are holding to protest excessive taxation. And because Barack Obama is president, I guess "without representation" also applies.

Really, guys? Tea parties? Why not burn bras while you're at it? Yes, I understand that the Boston Tea Party was a pivotal event in the history of protest in this country. But what seems to have gotten lost in the modern-day reenactment is that we're no longer being subjugated by a royal empire, and that we do have federal representatives. And, yes, I know they're corrupt because they don't immediately say yes when you implore them via e-mail to abolish the IRS by this afternoon. But that's still light years better than what the colonists dealt with in 1773.

It's long past time for self-styled patriots to get with the times. If you want people to take your protests seriously - and ensure that your valid points aren't lost for all time in a sea of Bicentennial Fever - then don't dress them up in clothes that make Civil War reenactments seem modern by comparison. Indeed, the whole point of the founding of the United States was to create a new, progressive society, apart from a stuffy and stodgy old crown. The Founding Fathers didn't dress and speak the way they did for effect; they did so because that's what they knew how to do in 1776. Many people today seem so intent on recreating the look, talk and actions of that era that they miss the most important aspect: the substance.

If protesters truly wanted to follow the example of their forebears, they would single out something that signifies the oppression in question. In 1773, that was tea. Today it's...well, I can't think of an equivalent, which I guess means I'm part of the problem. I'm sure someone behind the "tea parties" can help me out on this one. In any case, unite behind that object and do whatever 2009 circumstances require you to do. That's how it's done.

Once you've figured that out, find a fresh angle against taxes. Blind hatred of taxes is played out, because most Americans realize that taxes do at least some good for this country. Lumping the useful taxes that pay for infrastructure with those that go toward outrageous political boondoggles makes the whole cause seem reactionary.

Also, there's a lot of pain, anguish and insecurity in this country that goes above and beyond taxes. Why not protest some of that? At the very least, you'll come off as at least trying to do something for society. By hyper-focusing on taxes, the message of the tea parties seems to be that government greed should take a back seat to the greed of We the People.

I wouldn't lift a pinky finger for that notion.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A thought that popped up

Ever notice that many of the same people who say a gun is a harmless object are scared of condoms?

Something I've noticed about food

Like everyone else, I have my likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Whereas I can eat some foods without being hungry, others will make me all but vomit on contact with my taste buds. Some of these tastes are deeply rooted within me, while others have shifted over the years. When eating out, I do my best to accommodate these tastes and burden others with them as little as possible. Likewise, I don't judge others for any likes or dislikes they may have.

Once in a while, however, an unpleasant dialogue occurs, almost always with the best of intentions:

"You should try the cheesecake."
"No, thank you. I don't eat cheesecake."
"It's good."
"I'm sure it is, but no thanks."
"You don't eat cheesecake?"
"No. I don't like cream cheese."

Often, the exchange ends there. But not always.
"That's just because you've never had mine."

What do you say to that? What can you say to that? Either you indulge the person and then make them feel bad when you inevitably don't like it, or you're made to feel guilty - and generally come off as the jerk either way - and all because someone doesn't have the forethought to respect your tastes.

Chances are, if I can't get over my distaste for cream cheese after the 23 or so years I've been grossed out by it, the fact that you took it off the shelf at the store isn't going to be the catalyst.

Believe it or not - and most people don't - I cook. People are generally polite about trying my food, much in the way people buy lemonade from children who've confused Lemon Joy with Country Time. Points for trying.

Despite hailing from south Louisiana - or maybe because of it - I have never liked seafood. Accordingly, this exempts me from liking about 90 percent of Cajun dishes. And though the small fraction of Cajun food I like I do so with fervor, it has always, always led to this exchange:

"Have some crawfish."
"No, thanks, I don't eat them."
"You...don'!! Where are you from?!!"
"You have to eat crawfish if you're from Lafayette."
"Can it just be enough that I eat some corn and Zapp's with a Tabasco chaser?"
"Come to think of it, you talk funny too. Like you're on the TV."
"Eat some crawfish."
"I bred them myself."
"They look great."
"You're making me feel bad."
"I'm not trying to."
"Are you saying I can't cook?"

I remember my grandfather - full-blooded Cajun and one of my favorite people in the world, ever - introducing me to one of his friends thus:

"This is Ian, my grandson. He eats bad."

He probably had a point, but still...

Let's do lunch!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cleaning house

That's literally what I'm doing right now, and have been doing all week. The place isn't even that dirty, but it's amazing how much dirt comes out anyway.

At the beginning of the year, I pledged to myself that I'd blog something substantial as many days as I could. I'm still trying to do this, but it's actually backfired in the sense that I start ambitious projects that I don't always complete to satisfaction (I'm also four months behind on the Best of 2008 collection that everyone's clamoring for). In the coming days, I will be finishing up and releasing those chestnuts. Many of them will be based on old links, but they'll still be there. I think you'll enjoy them.

Until then, enjoy The Scene. It's where all the cool kids are!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Get your rules on

Rule #86: Gun, Nut
If you're afraid that Barack Obama's going to take away your guns, killing cops is not the best way to make your point. In fact, it's goddamn stupid. The term "gun nuts" exists for a reason, and that reason is not to condemn law-abiding owners. "Gun nut" is a perfectly accurate term when applied to those who complain most about weapons laws, yet serve as the best examples of why we need even tighter controls. At what point does shooting an officer in the head from your front porch constitute self-defense? How is shooting up a class full of aspiring citizens an exercise of the Second Amendment? When does a weapon go from protecting your family to killing your family? What accounts for the sudden, intense burst of gun violence in the U.S.?

The answers are, no doubt, complex. But one thing is clear: if responsible gun owners and groups don't own up to the insane elements in their midst, then gun-grabbing might actually happen. I don't want to see that occur any more than they do. But if it does, they will have no one but themselves to blame for their self-fulfilling prophecy.

Rule #87: GMC Hammer
If you're going to chastise Obama for being de facto CEO of General Motors, then you must offer an alternative. Tell us who would be better. So far, the only answer anyone seems to have is to let Rick Wagoner remain in his CEO capacity. Apparently, it's preferable to keep on the catalyst for much of the company's failure than give even the appearance of government involvement. Except for the bailout money, of course.

GM could have said no to Obama's deal. They could have refused the latest round of bailout money, told Obama to screw off and go be the pinnacle of private entrepreneurial know-how. But they couldn't say yes fast enough, because the so-called geniuses of the private sector ran the company into the ground. Now that GM has taken the money, free-market fetishists complain about the strings attached, as if it's somehow wrong for the government to insist our money not vanish into a pit. Boy, those socialists sure have nerve, don't they?

In any case, GM and other failing companies need a new vision from new leadership. Someone cool-headed, even-tempered, future-minded and accountable. Hmm. Where ever could we find a model for that?

Rule #88: Getting the message cross
Ads should not crash Web sites. Recently, my browser stalled halfway through an article — causing me to restart it — because the Flash insurance ad on the right wasn't able to load properly. I'm irritated enough with the constant sensual assault of obnoxious and invasive advertising for things that I will never, ever want or need, without that being the reason I can't get the content I want.

In a similar vein, a magazine I was interested in buying online crashed my entire laptop when I clicked the "purchase" page. That's just self-defeating.

Finally, enough with the free-floating ads that cover exactly the part of the site you want to read, flutter slowly and choppily and are nearly impossible to close. I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate those!

I'm not against advertising. Some ads are very clever, and the rest are tolerable if they serve the purpose of allowing access to content. But when they complicate access, that just causes resentment. If a Web site must crash, at least have a massive Hayden Panettiere background to show for it.

Rule #89: Short and succinct
The more you Twitter, the less interesting you are.

More rules

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Putting my finger on it

The difference between Democrats and Republicans (or liberals and conservatives, if you prefer) boils down to this:

- Democrats see the United States as a society - a staggeringly huge and diverse crew that won't agree on everything, yet is served best when people cooperate and have a shared stake in the future. Trying times require sacrifice from everyone, just as prosperous times benefit all. People are given tools to succeed, but also have help if success doesn't always come. They understand that if someone fails, we all have the ability to fail; thus, it is in our best interest to make life as good for as many people as possible - not just because it ensures societal well-being, but simply because it's the right thing to do.

- Republicans see the United States as a giant game of Monopoly. Everyone is simply circling the board, hoping to acquire as much as possible and avoid taxes and jail time. If one wins, they credit their skill, drive and merit. If they lose, they blame it on the dice. With the right money, they can buy themselves out of jail and squeeze blood out of those who land on their holdings. The idea is not to cooperate with others, but to beat them in every way possible, using the banks and community chest when convenient. Houses make way for hotels and other revenue cows. Most players give up before too long. If you lose, it's because you are less of a person, and thus aren't worthy of even a bank favor in your error. Whoever has the most cards wins. God Bless America and no place else.

Apply that to every current issue, and everything makes perfect sense.