Monday, October 31, 2005

On not quite a win

Okay, so a win on Saturday would have rocked. Beating Florida is fun, from what I remember, and undefeated seasons are fun (or so I hear), and having a pretty solidly established SEC playoff spot going into the upcoming Georgia-Auburn game would be especially fun. But I'm a reasonable person, and I know that even without the W, good football is the most fun of all. And a weekend with Spartan 47 in it is a good weekend, regardless of the outcome.

Spartan 47 was one of those plays that would have been fantastic if it'd gone smoothly, and was immensely satisfying and entertaining when it didn't. For those of you not bright enough to tune in: Georgia is down 14-3, second and seven on the Florida nine-yard line. As soon as Joe Tereshinski (who's having a fairly rough introduction to Florida football in his first-ever career start) gets the ball in hand, a Florida linesman charges through, stepping on his foot and knocking him down. But as JT goes down, he chucks the ball back to Thomas Brown. Then JT picks himself up off of his stomach on the ground, races to the goal line, catches the high-arcing pass from Brown, gets creamed by Todd McCullough, and still has the presence of mind to reach out and break the plane of the end zone as 230 pounds of Florida LB rides his ass to the ground.

Was it pretty? Hell, no. Was it fun to watch? Hell yes, and a much-needed shot of morale for a team that, innate skill aside, was playing kind of like a team with half of their starters taped up on the sidelines and their backup QB cutting his teeth on a strong Florida defense. No, we didn't come out of it with a win, for a variety of reasons that I don't really need or want to go into right now. If we had won, Spartan 47 would have been the new 70-X Takeoff, and JT would be enjoying his very own parade right now. Five missing points doesn't make it any less exciting or impressive, and only slightly less cool.

Friday, October 28, 2005

On Friday (finally) Random Ten

Okay, so this week has been mad-wicked crazy (and certainly longer than five days, although the calendar insists otherwise), so I'm knocking off work half a day early and I'm slacking on my blogging duties. Hah! Promote this, editorial suckers.

Who'll do my work for me? Doug will, with a reminder not to write off this weekend's Georgia-Florida game, because Joe Tereshinski might just surprise us (and if he does, it won't be too much of a surprise anyway). And Josh will, too, reminding us that

Scary. And now the Ten:

1. Evanescence, "Even In Death"
2. Eagle Eye Cherry, "Save Tonight"
3. Berlioz, "Sur les lagunes," from "Les nuits d'ete"
4. Britney Spears, "Stronger"
5. Serge Gainsbourg, "Ce Morel Ennui"
6. Room 5, "Make Luv"
7. The Temptations, "The Way You Do the Things You Do"
8. Rossini, "Prelude religieux" from "Petite messe solennelle"
9. Serge Gainsbourg, "Quant Mon 6.35 Me Fait Les Veux Doux"
10. Frank Sinatra, "The Brooklyn Bridge"

What. The hell. At once depressing, slightly embarrassing and bizarrely French; it's a lot to accomplish in one Random Ten. If anyone feels like trying to decode that... I beg you not to.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

On suffering a heart attack from non-surprise

Okay, so the big news (slow news day, I s'pose) today is that Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination for Supreme Court justice. Now, I'll admit that I'm kind of disappointed; I have no reason whatsoever to think that she'd be a good justice, and the only thing going for her right now is the fact that she hasn't had the opportunity to suck as a judge, but I thought that confirmation hearings would be interesting, at least. Plus, her mere status as a nominee was giving Republicans one big collective conniption fit*, and those are always fun to watch.

Here's what amuses me, though:
“It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House — disclosures that would undermine a president’s ability to receive candid counsel,” Bush said. “Harriet Miers’ decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers — and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her.”

Mr. Bush, if you don't want people digging through your personal papers in the course of a background check, maybe you need to stop nominating people who are privy to your personal papers. Sweet moonwalking Buddha. Thus is the price of cronyism, Slick. Nominate your bestest bud for a highly important government position, and it's likely that your name is going to come in confirmation hearings at least once or twice. The way to get around that, of course, is to try to nominate people based on their actual qualifications, not the fact that they think you're supercool and the best president in the world ever and ever, for serious. It might take a little bit of extra homework, but you've got plenty of advisers to help you make good, or at least Republican-acceptable, decisions. And you'll be glad you spent the extra time when your nom steps up for his confirmation hearings and you don't have to run tuck your top-secret documents and Aquaman first-edition comic books under the mattress.

*Redundant southernism

On career tips

Okay, so Practically Harmless Career Tip #1: The day that you're teleconferencing with your managing editor to request a promotion is not the day to skip breakfast in favor of two cups of coffee and a biscotto.

On the plus side, if twenty straight minutes of logical, outlined speed-talking doesn't convince him that I'm organized and efficient enough for Associate Editor, won't nothin' do it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

On the trail of dead

Okay, so every American death hurts. Every Iraqi death hurts, for that matter, and every Coalition death (is there still a coalition?), but of course the American deaths hit really close to home. No one loss ranks above any other.

But the the 2,000th one is, in its own way, fairly significant.

I'm just wondering, are we still winning? I realize that there isn't any kind of calculus that can convert human lives and political actions and the growth of democracy and the spread of terrorism into figures that can easily be added, divided, squared and compared with a "greater than" or "less than," but just by basic logic and reckoning, are we still winning? Would someone more knowledgeable than I please sit down and figure out exactly what has to happen in Iraq, politically and culturally and socially, to be worth the loss of 2,000 sons and daughters and moms and dads and best friends, 2,000 people who will never go on to raise children or kiss their wives in the morning or start businesses or knock over liquor stores or read magazines or try to bake bread but not have enough flour? How many bedtime stories are worth an elementary school, and how many embarrassing drunken karaoke nights will we trade for a constitution, and how many clumsily-worded love letters equal a free election? Will 2,000 be enough? Can we afford it? Are we in a position that we can win this?

Monday, October 24, 2005

On the religious and the right

Okay, so I was getting all frustrated that I couldn't get the comments to work on my very own blog when I thought, hey, this is my very own blog. You peons have to comment within the confines of a little bitty box; I can say whatever I want. So nyeah.

My comment, in response to Steve's comments on a previous post, was to be this:
I think what we need here is the distinction between people who are Christians and who vote Republican and the big-C, big-R Christian Right. I know plenty of the former, and they're solid people with no intentions of persecuting anyone, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, whatever. But they're not the people with the desire and wherewithal to take back the country in the name of Jesus, the ones who blame hurricane Katrina on Teh Gays in New Orleans and who, yeah, would love to see the Middle East converted or paved over. What I'm saying is that, with any luck, this development in the Catholic church will lead to similar developments in other faiths such that Christian Republicans and Democrats can overpower the too-powerful big-C, big-R Christian Right.

And I totally agree with me. One of my biggest frustrations with the Catholic church (and with the American government, for that matter) has been the fact that I'm forced to identify with leadership I didn't ask for. I don't get to vote for Pope, but as a Catholic, I'm stuck with whatever he says, and other people's opinions of papal edict reflect on me as a Catholic. I didn't vote for our current president, but I'm stuck with whatever he says, and other people's opinions of American policy reflect on me as an American.

So I can completely understand that there are Protestants out there who aren't at all happy with the direction the Religious Right is taking. I haven't had the opportunity to ask, y'know, all of them, but I've talked to a number who say that while the Pat Robertsons, Jerry Falwells and even (to some extent) James Dobsons of the world are heavily influencing the direction of our country, their own personal views are far more moderate. A good many of them are even embarrassed to have their faith associated with wackos like Falwell and Robertson, but are unwilling to step back and allow the loony fringe to corrupt what is theirs. And that's as it should be.

So no, I don't think that majority of Republican Christians are evil, hateful, heathen-baiting persecutors of innocent children. I think that much of the Christian Right leadership has gotten so drunk on power that they've lost track of the original message and purpose of Christianity as Jesus appears to have given us (and no, "blessed are the homophobes" is not the missing beatitude). My hope is that as the Catholic church finds room for reason among the dogma, so will the other churches, and the Christians who really are right will be able to take back their faith.

That's enough on religion for one week. I'm not sure how I'm feeling about the whole thing, anyway, in a world that could cancel "Joan of Arcadia" and let bad things happen to good people.

Friday, October 21, 2005

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so it's Friday? Today?! Where have I been?

1. The Beatles, "All You Need Is Love"
2. OMD, "Souvenir"
3. Serge Gainsbourg, "L'eau a la Bouche"
4. Maroon 5, "Harder to Breathe"
5. The Smiths, "The Boy With the Thorn In His Side"
6. Texas, "Saint"
7. Bjork, "Possibly Maybe"
8. Athenaeum, "No Sweeter Love"
9. Abbey Lincoln, "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams"
10. Letters to Cleo, "I Want You to Want Me"

Take that as you will. All told, numbers 1 and 10 sound fairly promising, and even 4 could be intriguing, but the fact that 8 is more of a bitter post-breakup song than anything else leaves me somewhat concerned for the weekend ahead. Your Random Ten goes below.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

On the Bible, which also isn't a travel guide or a cookbook

Okay, so sometimes things that seem fairly obvious still have to be stated explicitly. Courtesy of (a newly Jesse-less) Pandagon, we have the startling news that the Bible isn't a science textbook:
The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

While this comes as a great big "duh" to those of us who never entirely bought that woman owes her entire existence to one of Adam's less-crucial bones, there are certainly those out there who take the Bible completely literally, down to every "thou" and "begat," and it's good that church officials are willing to back down on that a little. More valuable to Catholics of my type, however, is the fact that now we don't have to feel guilty (and yes, we were supposed to feel guilty about this before) about disagreeing with sacred scripture and the official big-w Word of the church. Those of us who always saw the Bible as a guidebook more than an instructional manual have long been accused of perverting the sacred, inerringly accurate and perfectly translated word of God; it's nice to have an official word-'em-up from church leadership.

I think that this part is particularly valuable:
They say the Church must offer the gospel in ways “appropriate to changing times, intelligible and attractive to our contemporaries”.

The Bible is true in passages relating to human salvation, they say, but continue: “We should not expect total accuracy from the Bible in other, secular matters.”

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.
[emphasis mine]

Unfortunately, while this does have serious implications for the Catholic community, it really does mean bugger-all for the rest of the country. To the rapidly growing and increasingly powerful fundie community, Catholics are freaks, cultists and Satanists who never got the Christianity thing right in the first place. We've been perverting the word of God for thousands of years now; what difference does one more official proclamation make? If we think that the Christian right is going to perk up and say, "Holy crap, you mean we're not supposed to be persecutin' brown people?" you've got another think coming.

Regardless, I'd like to see this as a prelude to further advances in Church doctrine that lead to a more realistic approach to religion, at least in the Catholic community. I'm not saying that the church needs to abandon all of its teachings for a completely humanistic approach; I go to church for the religion, and if I wanted churchy secularism I could just become a Unitarian. But I think that less emphasis on minute details and obscure doctrine might leave room for more emphasis on the actual teachings of Jesus, who, you might remember, was all, like, "Love your neighbor" and "Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me."

Who knows? This might well lead to a new image for Church as a place where reasonable, semi-intelligent people go to "serve God and one another" (which is what Father Schreck has been saying for years anyway). Bring in the people who want religion but are afraid of the Baptists, un-lapse a few lapsed Catholics, and suddenly we've got a new community of people who can be religious without being all freaky about it. In a country that currently has the freaky-religious at the helm, that's a very comforting thought.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

On happiness (fleeting, yeah, but happiness)

Okay, so happiness is sliding through Fulton County emissions testing, even though you know full well that your car is all kinds of broken.

But happiness is other things, too. Doug lists a few obscure, personal little thrills ("Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches on SNL, finding fried green tomatoes on the menu at a new restaurant) and I pitch in a few of my own (the little quasi-drum break toward the beginning of "Wonderwall," a man with nice forearms). But when this old world really starts getting me down, I retreat to that age-old geekly practice of cracking open a book from my childhood.

My most recent pick was Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, and past reads have included The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, and, on seriously rough days, Harold and the Purple Crayon (which you absolutely shouldn't knock until you've tried it). I came thisclose to marrying the wrong man just because he'd read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

A person's escapist reading list can be every bit as revealing as their iPod Random Ten, if not moreso. If you're feeling brave, feel free to throw your own list down in the comments. I might need some new reading material; after all, my car is working now, which is usually a sign that something seriously serious is about to break.

Monday, October 17, 2005

On the funniest blasphemy ever

Okay, so this is some funny stuff.

(Mom, don't read it. It's just blasphemous enough that you'll shake your head and sigh instead of enjoying a guilty chuckle.)

On freedom of speech ($1.05)

Okay, so the thought-provoking and occasionally contentious TBogg wants to know:
s it possible that, maybe once, someone representing the pro-war side could refrain from reminding us that someone somewhere, or someone in the past, died/is fighting for/respects our right to dissent? Yeah. We get it. We've heard.

It's a question that's been on my mind, if not actually in my blog. Our freedom of speech seems to be the only Constitutional right we're asked to voluntarily give up simply for the reason that we have it. I've yet to hear a pundit, blogger or government official imply that because Americans have fought and died for our right to bear arms, everyone owning a handgun or hunting rifle needs to hand it over in the interest of patriotism; if anyone did, the poopstorm would be indescribable. But somehow, the argument that someone died for our right to speak, and so we ought to shut up, comes up repeatedly.

This isn't to say that we aren't asked to give up other rights for other reasons. We're expected to be okay with the government monitoring our e-mail and even searching our houses without our knowledge, 'cause we're in a war and any one of us could be a terr'ist. And just the other day I got into an... enthusiastic discussion with someone who couldn't understand why people hated Michelle Malkin's defense of internment camps because, well, they worked, didn't they? We're constantly asked to give up our freedom in the interest of national security; it's only our freedom of speech that we're asked to give up simply because it was given to us.

For the record, just in case anyone was curious, I'm kind of attached to all of them. And I plan to exercise all of them. Yeah, okay, people fought and died for us to have a country that's just bustin' with freedom, and for us not to take full advantage of that freedom would be more disrespectful than anything that a blogger could say about President Bush.

/ preaching to the converted

Friday, October 14, 2005

On all the news that's fit to fake

Okay, so I know I might be reaching a little bit, but I'm thinking - or at least hoping - that no intelligent person in the US was under any illusions that Bush's recent teleconference with troops in Iraq was anything but the stagiest of photo ops. I'm sure there are one or two diehards who won't admit, even in the privacy of their own sensory deprivation chambers, that Bush had any ulterior motives, and will insist to the death that he wanted only to thank them for their hard work and hear their questions and concerns, but anyone with sense ought to realize that t'aint necessarily so.

Regardless, if the administration wants to maintain the illusion that Bush gives a crap and that our troops are just thriiiiiilled with the progress we're making in Iraq, it might help to not coach them while the cameras are rolling.

I'll grant them that managing ten troops, AV equipment, a satellite feed and a president who can't generally be trusted to assemble a coherent sentence without significant coaching is a challenge, probably one worthy of a bit of rehearsal. And thus the rub: if you have to organize, rehearse, choreograph and script, you probably don't want to tell people that it's unscripted and unrehearsed, Scottie McClellan. Call me naive, but I'm consistently taken aback by the sheer volume of bullshit the administration is willing to foist on the American people without expecting at least one person to sniff it and say, "Hold on, these aren't brownies."

On Friday Random Ten

Okay, so so I was listening to the first song below and thinking about how much better lyrics were back before I was born. I mean, here I am slogging through the lyrical majesty of "outrageous, when I move my body / outrageous, when I'm at a party" and "ride it, my pony," while in 1968, my mother was getting
You think that I don't feel love
but what I feel for you is real love
In other's eyes I see reflected
a hurt, scorned, rejected
Love Child"

This love we're contemplatin'
is worth the pain of waitin'
We'll only end up hatin'
the child we may be creatin'

I mean, when did artists forget about internal rhyme and multisyllabic words? Not to be That Girl with the disdain for popular culture, but come on - all of you artists who claim Motown as their musical inspiration need to step up and start writing some clever lyrics.

Of course, I then realized that Diana was sharing the charts in 1968 with
Yummy yummy yummy I've got love in my tummy
and I feel like a-loving you

and suddenly I find myself thinking, "Well, okay, Outkast is cool."

1. Diana Ross & The Supremes, "Love Child"
2. Nickel Creek, "Robin & Marian"
3. Busta Rhymes, "Gimme Some More"
4. Sarah Brightman, "Deliver Me"
5. Coldplay, "Spies"
6. Billie Holiday, "It Had To Be You"
7. Elvis, "It's Now Or Never"
8. Queen, "Don't Stop Me Now"
9. The Cranberries, "Dreams"
10. Mono, "Silicone"

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

On priorities

Okay, so 46 Republicans, 43 Democrats and one independent decided on Wednesday that torturing detainees really is a bad idea after all. The fight for the bill was led by Senator John McCain, who, for you Amish rumschpringers enjoying Internet access for the first time, learned all about torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and decided that he didn't like it even a little bit. Frankly, anyone who feels up to questioning McCain's anti-torture credentials needs to take a pill (yes, I'm talking to you, Houston Conservative.)

Wait, though - 90 to 9 is hardly a fight, right? With the exception of those nine senators (Allard, R-CO; Bond, R-MO; Coburn, R-OK; Cochran, R-MS; Cornyn, R-TX; Inhofe R-OK; Roberts, R-KS; Sessions, R-AL; Stevens, R-AK; if your senator is on the list, you might just live in a pro-torture state!), who were overwhelmingly defeated in the vote anyway, who could possibly stand in the way of this bill's passage? Who would want to?

Ohhhhh, right.

Yeah, our president has promised to veto the $440 billion dollar military spending bill that has the anti-torture provisions attached. Now, I'm not crazy about the price of the war in Iraq, in terms of money ($200 billion and climbing) or human lives (2,154 coalition troops, 27,000-ish civilians, and climbing), but I'm a reasonable person and I recognize that if the government isn't going to bring the troops home any time soon, money will have to be spent to keep them fed, sheltered, armed and armored.

So let me give it to you in small words that 37% of Americans can understand: President Bush is willing to keep $400 billion from our troops so that when someone sticks a chemlight up a detainee's ass, no one can object.

Break it down, now: Senators on both sides of the aisle said no to torture and yes to funding the troops, but President Bush said no to funding and yes to waterboarding.

Bring it on home: 91% of sitting senators say that limits should be placed on interrogation techniques used on suspected terrorists, but 100% of sitting presidents say that our troops don't need body armor as much as they need the therapeutic relief of breaking some Iraqi kneecaps.

He's a war president, after all.

Monday, October 10, 2005

On why it's great... to be... a Georgia Bulldog (and/or fan of other Georgia teams)

Okay, so some sports fans had a really good weekend, and some didn't. In the end, it all comes down not so much to the teams you support, but to the sports themselves. Case in point?

- If you're a fan of college football (and who isn't?), and especially a fan of UGA football (like any intelligent person), you probably noticed that UGA took the Vols in their own stadium 27-14. Ugly win? Screw you. Such an animal does not exist, and for every Bulldog miscue, there was a corresponding Bulldog shake-it-off-and-kick-some-ass to more than compensate. However, Doug at Hey Jenny Slater reminds us not to get too cocky, because the sports gods will punish us with injuries, random acts of interception, and a miraculous Vandy safety with thirty seconds to go. That having been said, sic 'em.

- If you like hockey, and you're willing to stand proudly against the barbs flung by non-hockey fans (and, incidentally, what's with the hate? You don't have to love it, but must you castigate those of us who do? I think that y'all are just Braves fans who can't stand to see anyone else happy), you noticed that the Thrashers slammed the Washington Capitals 8-1 Saturday night. Anyone who thinks that that sounds suspiciously like a baseball score should be reassured: it's hockey. By the end, Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig would just lie prostrate on the ice after every goal that slipped past, as if in perfectly appropriate shame. Other highlights of the night include somewhere between five and seven seriously entertaining fights, a guy in the stands holding a big blue sign that read, "The guy behind me can't see," and the very existence of Peter Bondra, who is my babydaddy.

- If you're a baseball fan, you have no one to blame but yourself. Anyone who was surprised that the Braves had a reasonably good season and then choked in the first round of the playoffs just hasn't been paying attention. The fact that they lost to the Astros 7-6 in the 18th inning only makes it worse; it's like coaxing a struck puppy over with a handful of Snausages and then whacking him on the nose again.

Friday, October 07, 2005

On thing that are totally not funny

Okay, so Matt at Basket Full of Puppies directs us to this article about a new library for the blind in Norway. I think a library for the blind is a great idea (they have a hell of a time finding reading material otherwise), but perhaps more attention should have been paid to finding a design that wouldn't trip, flatten, confuse or concuss blind people:
The entrance doors can only be opened with a switch on a wall behind the door, not easily found even for those with 20-20 vision. The doors then open outwards, and while the visually impaired are occupied with the switch they can easily get the door right in the face.

"There are no sensors that detect someone standing at the door. People can be caught easily," Fuglerud said. "It's incredibly heavy. The worst type of door I have ever seen."

After passing two doors, surprise obstacle number two: art inlaid into the floor that easily confuses the visually impaired.

"The visually impaired think that these are functional and are something that should be followed. But the artwork leads you out again," Fuglerud said.

The presence of the artwork prevents the customary use of guide lines on the floor, and so a line of light is used instead.

"Everyone must know that the blind won't have much use for that," said NBF consultant Hege Henrichsen.

All of the entering doors and walls at the library are made of glass. Henrichsen points out that the visually impaired will walk right into these, and library manager Arne Kyrkjebø adds that so far two fully sighted employees and a bicycle courier have also walked into the glass - though no one has been injured yet.

While I love the thoughtful idea of a nice line of light to guide the blind people on their way, I think the funniest part of the article is the architect's reaction to the criticism:
Architect Gro Eileraas is stung by the criticism from the NBF, and said that she thought a good dialogue had been in place and that they were satisfied.

"They kept saying, 'Hey, blind people will trip over this,' and, 'You should fix the door so it doesn't squish unsuspecting patrons,'" Eileraas said. "And I was, like, if this place is so dangerous to blind people, maybe they shouldn't come here, right?"

On Friday Random Ten - Arrogance and Entitlement Edition

Okay, so my editor got me one of those "365 Stupidest Things Ever Said" calendar for my birthday last year, and yesterday's quote was a scream:
I desire what is good. Therefore, everyone who oes not agree with me is a traitor.
- King George

No, not that one - this one was the king of England.

In other news, I think that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he shares a piece of cake. Some people cut the piece in two and take the bigger piece. Some people cut it in two and let the other person choose first. Something tells me that this guy takes the entire piece, says, "Ooh, gotta move faster than that, Chief," and eats it in front of you, really slowly.

That's strike two, dude. Strike two. Next time, your stem valves are property of Practically Harmless.

The Ten:

1. Garbage, "Sleep Together"
2. Kay Starr, "C'est Magnifique"
3. WorldScapes,"Les Gens Pauvres De Paris"
4. Eve 6, "Promise"
5. Athenaeum, "Spotlight"
6. Sarah Brightman, "So Many Things"
7. Dido, "Take My Hand"
8. Cal Tjader, "Soul Sauce (Fila Brazillia remix)"
9. Vertical Horizon, "We Are"
10. Lynden David Hall, "All You Need Is Love"

Love, and a good pair of needle nose pliers....

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

On clarification

Okay, so in Friday's post, I examined the lunacy of Bill Bennett's aborting-black-babies theory and his wonderment that the public didn't throw him a parade for it. But discussion since then has made me want to clarify my objections just a bit.

Yes, fantasizing about genocide is wrong. And that's pretty much what he was doing; even if he followed it up with "and that would be wrong, wrong, bad wrong," he still opened with "aborting every black baby would lower crime rates." Bill, even if you do actually harbor such thoughts as you sit in your bathtub at night, have the good sense not to say them out loud. You're supposed to be a reasonably smart man.

But my objection goes farther than that. The heart of his comment is the connection between African Americans and crime. His wasn't an idle comment; Bennett made the connection because in his mind, black babies grow up to be criminals, and gettin' 'em when they're young would be an effective way of lowering the crime rate. I don't care what your views are on crime and race (although this article makes for some nice light reading on the subject); if Jesse Jackson ever suggested that aborting all white babies would cut down on corruption and cronyism in the federal government, his career would be over.

I'm not so naive as to think that we live in a perfectly colorblind society. It might not be as blatant as a "whites only" water fountain, but I recognize most people do unconsciously (or sometimes consciously) notice skin color, and sometimes treat others differently because of it. I guess I was naive, though, in my assumption that someone as (fairly) intelligent and educated as William Bennett would fall back on the outdated "crime is a-'cause of the blacks" meme.

Sidenote: Commenter Vince1157 had some interesting contributions on the subject, and when I say "interesting," I mean "intriguing but largely incomprehensible." All I was able to drag out of it was "white people don't care that their wars kill people, except for the anti-war white people, who do care," which makes sense, in an utterly tautological way. Vince, I think I kind of got the gist of what you were trying to say, but if you're still reading, I'd love it if you could come back and expound just a scootch.

On having a little bit of respect, already

Okay, so today, we have an open letter to Mercedes Guy, new to my apartment complex.

Dear Mercedes Guy,

I know that it's frustrating when management collects all of the dumpsters in our parking lot to be emptied. I don't know why they do that; it takes up a lot of parking spaces, and it makes the whole parking lot stink.

Regardless, said dearth of parking spaces doesn't make it okay for you to park in a handicapped space, especially when there are non-handicapped spaces just around the corner, especially when poor old Margie is forced to park between a Tahoe and that white child-molester van and can't get out of her car. Can't. Get out. Of her car.

And while some mental disability could be implied by the fact that you paid $82,000 for an SUV that gets 13 miles to the gallon and can't be filled up in town for less than $75, that's still no excuse when Margie can't get out of her car. Can't. Get out. Of her car. Dude, get a soul.

Much love,

Monday, October 03, 2005

On semantics - trusted vs. trustworthy

Okay, so Bush has come through with his nomination for a Supreme Court justice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, and big surprise, it's a woman. As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm right chuffed about it. And I'm event fairly chuffed about the woman that he chose, considering that the short list included such titans of American jurisprudence as Priscilla Owen.

Harriet Miers rocked my socks with her bold choice of royal blue at this morning's presser announcing her nomination (Har, we can talk about necklines later on, k). Unfortunately, there's not an awful lot left to rock my socks, because with no bench experience whatsoever, she's kind of lacking any kind of a paper trail. Democrats and Republicans alike are concerned about her political leanings, since there's no judicial record to work from; everything we know about her politics will be come from her confirmation hearings, and you know how I feel about those.

What we do know about her already I kind of like (yes, I realize she's a Bushie; I do have layers, y'know). She's got a lot of "first woman to"s on her resume - first woman hired by her law firm, and then first female president of that firm; first woman to head the Dallas Bar Association; and first female president of the State Bar of Texas. She's also a big supporter of pro bono work and advocacy for the poor. I respect that, and I like to think that a woman who has accomplished so much and faced down so many gender barriers is likely to have a lot of respect for women's issues. How will this translate into abortion rights? Dunno. In 1992, she argued against an ABA ruling in support of abortion rights, but she hasn't spoken out against abortion rights; her objection was to the ABA taking a position at all.

Does this mean that I completely support the nomination of Harriet Miers? Of course it doesn't. We don't really know anything about her. And that's one of the big problems; she hasn't done a lot to know about. City Councilwoman, presidential advisor and Lottery Commissioner do not a Supreme Court justice make. Again, I'm going to have to reserve judgment until her confirmation hearings.

Here's one thing we do know for sure, though, and please take a breath and count to ten before you start accusing me of blatant partisanship: she's an advisor for the Bush administration. Her office was responsible for setting legal parameters for the Iraq war, and and for vetting the appeals court nominees that nearly caused a steel cage death match in the Senate. Um, heck of a job there, guys. And I hate to say it, but someone has to: President Bush is a boob. Ever-growing popular opinion is that our president just plain doesn't make good decisions, even with a crack team of puppeteers planning his every move. Some might argue that his failures reflect as much on his staff as they do on him.

I'm still willing to give Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt; all told, she's got a lot going for her, and we won't know anything until she's sitting in front of the Judicial Committee with the spotlight on her. My first instinct, though, says that appointing one of Bush's advisors to the highest court in the land would be like building a skyscraper with the engineers responsible for the Tacoma Narrows bridge.