July 26, 2004

MANUAL

My mom let me in on some happenings in P-town: seems one of my high school friends' dads has been voted as principal of a local high school. Big whoop, right? Well, he's white and the high school is predominantly black, so

Members of the NAACP, Citizens for a Better Peoria and the 'African American Leadership Alliance' held a press conference Friday morning. They say they are concerned about the process by which William Salzman got approved as the new Manual High School principal.

Apparently "local black leaders have complained for months that a core group of board members have discussed district matters in private and without input from the board's two black members." OK. Whitey's getting together in secret and trying to keep the man down. Riiight.

Ross said she's "not one to cry racism" regarding the hiring, but the surprise vote shows a "lack of sensitivity" on the part of some board members.

Lack of sensitivity towards what, exactly? I know I don't know the whole story, but Salzman was already the assistant principal, he received over 100 letters of support from faculty and parents, and the summer is coming to a close and they need a principal.

Why on earth can't a white man effectively principal Manual?

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WOO HOO!!!!

lance.jpg

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RESPONSIBILITY

Normally I avoid reading things I have to register for, but I was so intrigued by this NYTimes title that I had to go through the rigamarole: Is The New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?. I really recommend it; it's an honest admission that the NYTimes is "of course" liberal.

However, I did notice one thing that always makes me prickle, something that I also noticed when Atrios' gang descended on me a few months ago: the Left often uses religion as the only line in the sand. The Right doesn't like the NYTimes because of the risque fashion models, articles on gay marriage, and evolutionary theory in the science section. Sarah doesn't like this poll because she's an "evangelical Christian" who refuses to listen to reason. In fact, in discussing evolution in the science section, the author says:

Newspapers have the right to decide what's important and what's not. But their editors must also expect that some readers will think: "This does not represent me or my interests. In fact, it represents my enemy." So is it any wonder that the offended or befuddled reader might consider everything else in the paper - including, say, campaign coverage - suspicious as well? [emphasis added]

So people on the Right think that those who support evolution are "the enemy", and therefore we shouldn't listen to anything else they have to say? Please.

What about all the people I've met on the Right who are atheists? They don't fall into the stereotype that the NYTimes just laid out: either you're happy that the "articles containing the word 'postmodern' have appeared in The Times an average of four times a week this year" or you're a close-minded fuddy-duddy evangelical Christian who wants the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and a cap in every black ass. Ridiculous.

What about all the people I've met on the Right who are libertarians? They don't fit the stereotype either. Some don't like gay marriage, or do believe in "one nation under God", but they still don't think the government has any business poking a nose in. They believe in personal responsibility instead of the "my way is right and you're the enemy" dichotomy the NYTimes set up.

In fact, I'd say a lot of us belong on the Right not because of our religious views but because of our views on Responsibility. (If you've never read Bill Whittle's essay, now's a good time...)

One of the things that makes the current political debate so rancorous is that we do a lot of talking past each other, because the old labels no longer seem to apply. Rachel Lucas is a gun-toting, idiot-intolerant, pro-gay, pro-choice conservative. My Liege Lord and Master, Emperor Misha I, the Hammer of Idiotarians, is a deeply religious, formidably armed firebrand who smashes with righteous fury any homophobic or racist morons who darken his cyberdoor. And Kim Du Toit, the rootin’-est, tootin’-est bad-ass hombre who ever lived, a veritable poster boy for the idea of an assault rifle in every crib, is a former South African who marched in the streets against racism and took huge risks fighting for the equality of all of his fellow citizens before he came home to America.

They, like me, call themselves conservatives, but we are indeed a new breed: pro-choice, pro-gay, vigorous defenders of equality of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. We’re big on freedom and big on responsibility.

The left hates us. We are harder to attack than the racist, homophobic, misogynists that they formerly could comfortably lambaste as right-wingers. (And they deserved to be lambasted, by the way – and I’m not even sure what lambasting is, but it does sound nasty and severe.)

The point is this: labels don’t really work. As one of my readers brilliantly pointed out in my comments section, it’s not like the vast sensible middle of the nation is divided into Red and Blue camps, Republicans vs. Democrats, Liberals vs. Conservatives, Left vs. Right. Today’s politics are more like a Rubik’s cube, where someone you may stand shoulder-to-shoulder with on one subject, can become, with a simple twist of the issues, a bitter opponent in some other fight.

This is where Whittle’s Theory of Political Reduction comes in handy. (If that’s too wordy we can call it Bill’s Electric Razor.)

I contend that there is a single litmus that does indeed separate the nation and the world into two opposing camps, and that when you examine where people will fall on the countless issues that affect our society, this alone is the indicator that will tell you how they will respond.

The indicator is Responsibility.

I appreciate that Daniel Okrent of the NYTimes can at least see that his paper doesn't exactly represent the views of a large chunk of America, but I wish he wouldn't naively herd us all into the "intolerant right-wing nutjob Christian" group that the Left thinks we all belong in. There are a plethora of reasons that the NYTimes disgusts me, and virtually none of them have anything to do with religion.

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ON

Mark Steyn is on:

And here's where I have some sympathy with Sandy Berger and his overloaded pants. By his own words, he's guilty of acts that any other American would go to jail for. He "inadvertently" shoved 30-page classified documents down his pants and then "inadvertently" lost them at home and then "inadvertently" returned to the National Archives to "inadvertently" take another draft of the same 30-page document and "inadvertently" lost that, too. He "inadvertently" made forbidden cell phone calls from the room with the classified documents, and he "inadvertently" took more suspicious bathroom breaks while in the Archives than that Syrian band took on that L.A. flight that was in the news last week. If the former national security adviser has an incontinence problem, that at least explains where he was during the '90s when Osama bin Laden was growing bolder and bolder on his watch.

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July 25, 2004

UPDATE

Ten seconds after I published the previous post, my friend called to apologize. She hadn't even read my blog yet, but she knew she had been in a bad mood and had taken it out on me. I laughed and said that I know I am overly sensitive and that it's just as much my fault as hers. She finally got me to agree that I would try to say "you're being a bitch" if she is being one, which was really funny to me. And all's well that ends well.

My friend attributed her crankiness to hitting that breaking point in the deployment, the first major hump to get over. I can completely understand, and I know that sometimes I'm just not myself either. My friend is perhaps the strongest wife I know when it comes to the deployment: she's been incredibly upbeat and composed and she does not complain or grumble at all. We three friends have done pretty well for ourselves, I think, yet we all know that we're not quite whole. There's a part of our hearts that's far far away, and it can make us all a little crazy at times. I guess the important part is being able to recognize that and just try to help each other get by.

And she borrowed the Larry Elder book too...

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July 24, 2004

DISCORD

When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who did a number on my self-esteem. Everything I did was wrong. My taste in music: wrong. My clothes: wrong. My views on social issues: wrong. I spent so much time being hurt because he never gave my views any credence; he simply said, "How can you think something like that?" and then told me the right way to think. I hated it, but I kept trying to please him because I hate disagreeing with people.

I hate disagreeing with people. Not something that someone who enjoys reading about politics should say, right? But I really do hate it. I hate discord. I hate arguments. I hate not having common ground. I usually try to avoid people and situations where I know there'll be discord because I'm so bad at dealing with it. I can't argue with someone and then turn around and be friends again in ten minutes. I just can't; it lingers...

So I do anything to avoid arguing. When someone says, "Ugh, Bush did blah blah blah..." I just ignore it and change the topic. I'd rather just let them think what they think than get myself riled up by discussing the issue. Just last weekend I sat at a table while three people railed on President Bush and I didn't say anything. Until it got out of hand and one person stooped to making monkey noises, at which point I calmly said, "That's quite rude, considering I plan to vote for the man." And that was that. But it lingered...

The way my high school boyfriend treated me has stuck with me, and I never want to be the person telling someone else what to think. I never want to be the person putting down someone's ideas or taste. I never say what I think of movies, or food, or music, or anything, for fear of hurting someone's feelings the way my feelings were hurt every time my boyfriend made fun of my music or views. If someone asks me what I thought of a movie, I always hedge. I often turn the question back on them to see what they thought before I give my opinion. It's a horrible habit, I know, but I can't feel good about myself if I'm making strong statements that others disagree with.

Which is why I started this blog. I don't talk about these things in person. I hate it. I never talk politics or current events in person because I don't want to make anyone feel stupid for holding certain views. Tim talked in his farewell post about how the internet allows people to express views they would never express in "polite company". He sees this as a bad thing, but it has been a very liberating thing for me. I want to work out my own ideas, and writing is how I do that best. But no one is forced to read my site, so it's not the same thing as forcing someone into a conversation they don't want to be having. I say things here I would never dream of saying in person, simply because my blog is the one place where I feel comfortable being direct. I still think people should be civil, and lord knows I hate discord in the comments section, but my blog is an open soapbox where I can air my views and not worry about sounding rude.

Which is why it's been extremely weird for me to have people in my "real" life read my blog. Very few people even know I blog, and I'd really like to keep it that way, because there are so many times when I wish I'd never told any of them. Most of the time they agree with me, and everything is fine, until something comes up in "real" life that's a major source of discord. Like tonight when my friends said, "I can't believe you're reading that book." All of a sudden I was back in high school again, trying to defend myself and why I'm reading Larry Elder. "Ugh, I would never read a book like that" sounds in my ears like "You are a huge moron", and it really bothers me. Because I would never say something like that. That's what my high school boyfriend said, and I would never treat someone that way. Even if a person were reading Noam Chomsky, I'd never say anything. When a friend offered to lend me Bowling for Columbine, I simply said, "No thanks; I'm not a big Michael Moore fan." I bend over backwards to avoid offending people, just so they never have to feel as incompetent as I did in high school.

I know I'm over-sensitive about things like this, and I know it's my fault that I can't let things like that go, but I really don't know how to change. I don't know how to let go of the hurt I feel when someone puts my interests down. It lingers...

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FLIGHT 93

If there are any faceless people I love as much as our servicemembers, they are the people of Flight 93. I didn't know a single one of them, yet their bravery has always made me so proud. If I ever heard anyone put down these heroic passengers, I'd kick him in the teeth, which is why this horrific headline makes me nauseous. I know they finally fixed it, but who on earth greenlighted that asinine headline in the first place? (And what's the deal with mismatched headlines popping up all over the place? Do journalists put their stories into a Headline Generator and pull out the worst title they can find?)


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July 23, 2004

BOMB

I can't find anything in the news yet, but we had some excitement here yesterday. As they were doing construction work, they came upon a bomb...a WWII-era undetonated bomb. They had to evacuate the whole area and try to diffuse and move this enormous bomb. Apparently these finds are not that rare here in Germany, but it seemed exciting to me.

So I was thinking as I drove to class last night: That bomb stayed hidden for a good 60 years and no one ever knew it was there. But we're supposed to find WMDs within a year in Iraq...

MORE TO GROK:

My German co-worker found an article in the German news, complete with a photo of the bomb.

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GOOD-BYE

And when I got to the end, I realized I was crying.
We'll miss you, Tim.

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RAH RAH!

Apparently Rocket Jones heard about my reputation as a cheerleader and asked me to cheer him on in his fantasy football league. Normally I try to stick to war cheerleading, but I can lend Rocket a hand, I suppose.

I'll warn you, Rocket. When I was a middle school cheerleader, I used to do this thing where I'd backflip the name of our team (F-L-Y-E-R-S...yes, I went to Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School). Once, during a particularly heated basketball game, I attempted to stick a full flip on the end of Flyers; I ended up flat on my face in front of the whole school. Are you sure that's the kind of support you want?

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July 22, 2004

DUNST

My friend saw this here on German television, but I can't find any American news sources that are reporting on it. Apparently this question was posed to Kirsten Dunst:

Gefragt, was sie machen würde, wenn sie Spider-Mans Kräfte hätte, antwortete sie: "Bush töten!"

What would you do if you had Spiderman's powers? Her answer was "Kill Bush." Apparently the fact that Spiderman doesn't really have any "killing powers" is lost on Dunst.

Does this statement come a little close to threatening the president? I honestly don't know what the grey area is with that, but I sure know enough never to make a "kill the president" joke.

MORE TO GROK:

I also think it's funny that many people are lauding Spiderman 2 as a parable for our time and making connections between Parker's dilemma and President Bush's. Irony is so ironic.

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HEE HAW!

Oh. Good. Lord.
I laughed so hard...
Mama, you'll like this one.

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100

I just put letter number 100 in the mail to my husband!
I haven't quite sent him a letter per day, since I couldn't write while he was in Kuwait and I don't always have anything good to say. But the ratio comes out to 100 letters in about 145 days in Iraq. Not too bad.
Someday we'll look back on all these letters and laugh. And our grandkids will think that grandma had a foul mouth.

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BATTLE

Red 6, the husband's best friend, was involved in this battle. That's where this photo was taken. My boys are doing serious and dangerous work, yet they continue to stay upbeat and optimistic.

Soldier safe, boys...

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STEIN

A soldier wrote a letter in response to a Ben Stein column.
Ben Stein responded.

(via Greyhawk)

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SPITTING

What's with the spitting? I have been known, at the height of my athletic days (read 16 years old), to spit. But to spit on someone? I'm not sure I could ever do that. (I can barely stand the episode of South Park where the moms are trying to get the kids chicken pox; they make up a game where Kenny spits in Kyle's mouth...ugh.) So how can people spit on Lance Armstrong? Spitting on someone is the most degrading thing I can think of, and they do this to a man who overcame cancer and is on the way to winning his sixth Tour de France. I'll never understand.

(via Smash)

MORE TO GROK:

And look at this horrible photo.

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FUNNY

I'm doing my own Thurlsday with two tasteless links. Yes, I said they're tasteless. But they're funny, and what we need after reading serious articles about how someone "inadvertantly shoved documents in his pants and socks" is more funny. So I bring you...

The Wacky Iraqi
This is how bitter and crass the Onion would be if he were deployed. My favorite is the car that runs on blood.

Abu Ghraibing
Boy have I struggled over whether I should link to this or not. I doubted the validity of a poll once and got 2000 hits from people who thought I was pure evil; linking to a site making fun of Abu Ghraib could get me in some really hot water. But it sure is funny.

And we could all use more funny, right?

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MARK

Erin, your husband left you a message...

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MASTERSTROKE

I consider Den Beste to be one of the keenest thinkers out there, so when he writes so confidently about the Bush campaign, it really boosts my spirits. This election is not only the first one I've followed closely, but it has a direct effect on my life. The president is my husband's boss, and whoever is elected will determine what my husband does for the next four years. With President Bush, I see continued efforts in Iraq, and Iran on the horizon. It certainly won't be an easy four years, but at least I know where we stand. With Kerry, I don't know what I see; I think he'd leave the troops in Iraq, but for how long? I see my husband roped into doing more of the UN's work around the world, being sent on "peacekeeping missions" if Kerry is president. That means instead of the fear of being killed by an insurgent, we can worry that he might get killed by one of his own teammates...

Wives around here seem to be more and more anxious to talk about the election; I keep finding myself roped into conversations with people who somehow think that if Kerry is elected, their husbands will come home from Iraq on Nov 3. If only it were that simple. I sorta fear the military wife vote this year, because so many of them will be voting with their hearts, hoping that a vote for Kerry is a vote for an exit strategy. I think they'll be sorely mistaken and disappointed with the result.

I hope Den Beste is right and the Bush campaign has a suckerpunch coming. I see a lot of ammo piling up that should be used (i.e. Sandy Berger, Joseph Wilson), so I hope President Bush really is waiting for the masterstroke. I don't want this election to be as close as I fear it's going to be.

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July 21, 2004

DIG

Here's an interesting little dig I found in the MSN movie review for Day After Tomorrow:

The Story: A paleoclimatogist (Dennis Quaid) races to save the world and his Manhattan-trapped son (Jake Gyllenhaal) from an impending Ice Age brought on by the effects of global warming (or, as the gun-shy Fox marketers call it, "global climate change"), which causes cataclysmic hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, hail, heat and a colossal tidal wave. Not for the weatherphobic.

Couldn't resist getting that dig against Fox in there, could you? Even though the cause of global warming could possibly be the sun and not humans, and the whole scare could be a bunch of b.s., let's find a way to blame the biased Fox News for it...

Sheesh.

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