Life in Omaha (in Scottsdale)

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Black Day

I woke to the weather forecast this morning: a dense fog over Omaha. Perfect. We had our first real frost of the season, and when I left for work, I couldn't see out my car windows. The drivers of Omaha can't see more than three feet in front of our faces.

But tell us that we will be safe, that we will be rich, that we can have whatever we want, and that we need not worry because god is our co-pilot...

And we will drive that speeding car right over a Ponca Hills cliff.

Sumus Quod Sumus

DeLay turned Texas into his playground.

My home state of Kentucky elected a man who by all appearances has lost his faculties.

Oklahoma elected a racist, hate-mongering bigot. A man who claimed the lesbianism was so rampant in OK that they let only one girl go to the bathroom at a time. (Incidently, the man--Tom Coburn--was also named by Bush to chair his Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. A perfect choice)

And eleven states--again, Kentucky among them-- found that homophobia makes for good political hay.

As we sat and tried to parse out the semiotics of fear, hate, the pinstriped suit, god and the cowboy gunslinger, none of it added up. After four years of greed, incompetence, arrogance and hypocrisy the majority of people decided that hitting themselves in the face with a shovel might still make the headache go away. With a nation this dumb, I'm glad I'm not in the majority.

I want my America back.


At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course this election doesn’t make sense. Not if you look at it rationally. But I don’t think the average voter makes rational decisions. I think their decisions are emotional, and the Bush campaign tapped into their fears.

Not a fear of terrorism. Few people in this country have gotten the kind of up-close look at a terrorist act that New York City did three years ago and yet New York city voters turned out, overwhelmingly, for Kerry. I think Bush successfully tapped into fears that voters fuzzily associate with moral values.

My guesses as to what was going through the minds of those voters who swung this election to the right:

I am afraid of what will happen to the social order if we publicly acknowledge that a woman and a woman can love each other and live in a committed relationship. Won’t that mean that women don’t need men? I am afraid of what will happen if we acknowledge that our vision of God as the old white man in the sky is narrow and exclusionary. I am afraid of what might happen to my soul if I admit that my church is wrong. I am afraid of what will happen if we continue to allow women to make choices about whether or not they want to be mothers. I am afraid of the kind of lifestyle I might have to live if we as a nation no longer have access to cheap gasoline. And mostly, I am thinking about those kids from my community who have gone overseas to fight in the middle east and have come back scared, silent, wounded, angry, depressed, scarred. I am terrified to admit that we sent these kids over there for all the wrong reasons.

Fear causes paralysis. And the more stridently the left pointed out how wrong Bush was, the more scared voters got. When you are afraid, you vote for the incumbent, you most certainly don’t vote for change. Yes, we all know that Bush lies to us but the lies are comforting, reassuring. We don’t want to know the truth.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't have "your America" back because it doesn't exist and it never will. Thank GOD. It's a myth thought up by arrogant, elitist, Markist professors who filled your mind with socialist/ecoterrorist crap.

Why is it that you Liberals go around spouting how you are inclusive and enlightened, yet if anyone dare to think differently from you they are instantly labeled as "dumb", "stupid", "bigoted", etc ? Who's the arrogant one here ?

Why don't you try, just try, to look at things from a different perspective for a change ? Why do you assume that you have all of the answers ? Are you really that full of yourself ? Why do you assume that people voted the way they did for negative reasons ? People try to make their lives better and more positive. Maybe they just didn't see John Kerry impacting their lives positively.

This is a great country in which we live, filled with truely wonderful people. Americans are the models of generosity and hope thoughout the world. We have proven that through deeds and actions countless times. Why must the Left always look at America in a negative light ? Do you really hate yourself that much ? Liberalism is not the true path to enlightenment. It will only lead you to darkness and despair.

You need to put aside your arrogance and think from a different perspective for a while. Why don't you try to investigate the Conservative point of view with an open mind ? Pick up a book or two by a Conservative minded person. I think you will see that Conservatives are not the people you think we are.

One last thing: Please put Hillary on the ballot in 2008. Me and the rest of the greedy, incompetant, cowboy gun slinger, hypocrits would really enjoy kicking her ass too !!

At 7:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Americans are the models of generosity and hope thoughout the world. We have proven that through deeds and actions countless times."

Are you joking? Was this message meant to be sarcastic?

Bombing a country that did not attack us -- how does that make us a model of generosity and hope? Our actions in the middle east have little to do with generostiy and hope and a whole lot to do with our need for cheap gasoline to support our extravagant lifestyles.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the metaphor of American voters driving in a fog, unable to see more than three feet in front of their faces. We voted for an administration that refuses to look ahead more than four years.

The damage the Bush administration has done to the environment is horrifying, inexcusable, and well-documented. When is it going to occur to American voters that clean air, clean water, and uncontaminated food should be a priority? When are we going to be humble enough to realize that we share this planet with other creatures? When are we to realize that in damaging the earth, we are hurting ourselves?

At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let's investigate the conservative point of view. The American Conservative (the magazine) endorsed Kerry. Here are the last two paragraphs from their editorial:

"If Kerry wins, this magazine will be in opposition from Inauguration
Day forward. But the most important battles will take place within the
Republican Party and the conservative movement. A Bush defeat will
ignite a huge soul-searching within the rank-and-file of
Republicandom: a quest to find out how and where the Bush presidency
went wrong. And it is then that more traditional conservatives will
have an audience to argue for a conservatism informed by the lessons
of history, based in prudence and a sense of continuity with the
American past - and to make that case without a powerful White House
pulling in the opposite direction.

George W. Bush has come to embody a politics that is antithetical
to almost any kind of thoughtful conservatism. His international
policies have been based on the hopelessly naïve belief that foreign
peoples are eager to be liberated by American armies - a notion more
grounded in Leon Trotsky's concept of global revolution than any sort
of conservative statecraft. His immigration policies - temporarily put
on hold while he runs for re-election - are just as extreme. A
re-elected President Bush would be committed to bringing in mllions
of low-wage immigrants to do jobs Americans "won't do." This election
is all about George W. Bush, and those issues are enough to render him
unworthy of any conservative support."

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Not Scott said...

Wow, I've been away from the computer for a few days and came back to what counts as a flurry of activity on my page.

Not sure I qualify as an ecoterrorist, though probably more from a lack of courage than anything else.

I was never taught by an outright Marxist, but generally people who throw that label around as an epithet don't know much about Marxism. Perhaps not the case here, but I really haven't espoused any Marxist ideas--at least in this post.

And for the record, I do think America is a great country. Shoot, anything this big is bound to have something good in it. We on the left (as I presume to speak for the millions) don't hate America. To presume that we do is a deliberate reduction of a complex matter. Something that the current brand of Republicanism prefers to do. Rather, the things we are upset about--ok, lets just go ahead and change that to I--the things I am upset about are the actions of a government that run contrary to the ideals that this country should hold.

- the right to question the government: quashed as most notable seen in recent attempts to protest (or hell, even to see the president on his campaign)
-equal shot at a real life (aka pursuit of happiness): made that much more difficult by economic policies that favor the rich
- an abundance of choices: while I wouldn't label this a right, we are a very wealthy country that seems intent upon narrowing the diversity of life down to precisely defined, easily marketed styles.

Right, so I'm going on and on responding to an anonymous posting, more than likely from a one time visitor who just stumbled across the site and had nothing better to do than gloat.

Cheers, and thanks for passing by.

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not at all. I like your blog. It's full or people with viewpoints different from my own. Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to respond further. My luxury SUV has been idling outside for the last hour thereby contributing to the "greenhouse effect" and I have to go get my automatic weapon sighted so I can go hunting next weekend with Rush Limbaugh.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Not Scott said...

Well, glad you like stopping by Anonymous. I think it is important to listen to the other side of the aisle, though I don't flatter myself that my blog rises to the level of intelligent, well-articulated discourse. I'm aiming more for poetry.

I, too, will occasionally listen to talk radio as one way to guage the Right's reaction. Perhaps this is why I have such an unbelievably difficult time comprehending the country's shift to this particular version of the right. Call it arrogance, a failure of imagination, or simply blind partisanship, but I (and quite a few of my friends, colleagues and--even in Nebraska--my students) am still dumbfounded. And unsettled.

I strongly disagree with the foreign policy, but even at that, I can imagine it as a policy designed for an ultimate good. A stupid policy, but perhaps right hearted. (granted, this only happens in my most warmest and uncynicalist moments--few and far between). No, what really disturbs me is this administrations cynical and vicious concentration of power that flies in the face of democratic ideals. The arrogant refusal to run an open government (see energy advisory group, lack of press conferences, refusal to address obvious failings), the blatant twisting of bureacratic process to manipulate the democratic process (see DeLay and Texas and the attack dogs on Arlen Specter), the seemingly endless attempts to redefine patriotism as uncritical acceptance. I could go on and on.

At 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not consider myself a lemming heading over a Ponca Hills cliff, although my thighs still hurt from lumbering up a few Omaha area hills.

I did not vote for fear, hate, greed, incompetence, arrogance and hypocrisy. I didn't even realize Arafat was running.

While I'm sure some small minority of the Bush voters are indeed ignorant bigots, I'm pretty confident that there are an equal or greater number (Rev. Al comes to mind) who checked another box on the ballot.

Differences in opinion do not always translate to differences in intelligence. For example, unlike many educated people, I have absolutely no faith in the UN as an organization to limit tyranny and murder. Rwanda, Srebrenica, and now Darfor lead me to this conclusion. I also feel that Russia, France and Germany have very little to offer either morally or militarily. Iraq's food-for-oil program comes immediately to mind there. I can argue these points passionately and back them up with facts. So when I'm given a choice between a commander in chief who promises to kowtow to those councils vs. one who will consult with them, but then act in our own best interests, its an easy call for me.

Is Afghanistan a Narcostate? Yes. Is it a Narcoterrorist state? Not any longer. I can live with the former while we continue to try to improve conditions there.

Is Iraq a free, prosperous, safe nation? Hell no. Does it have a better chance of becoming that with self government and our unwavering support rather than Saddam and his charming lads running the place? I think so. Is that goal worth 1000 or 2000 or 10,000 US dead? On Okinawa alone we lost over 12,000 men with over 38,000 injured. The Japanese lost over 100K. There were civilian deaths close to the Japanese number. That was one battle. How do you do the calculus? The simple answer for me is to ask the guys with their boots on the ground and their ass on the line. They voted overwhelmingly for Bush.

Do I agree with everything G.W. Bush says? No. Do I find myself closer to him in worldview and policy than Kerry or Nader? Absolutely.

I can argue greater Middle East policy, social issues, education, tax, tort reform, environmental policy, and immigration policy, but you get my drift.

My dear Scott, your America never went anywhere. Neither did mine during the Clinton years. Ashcroft will not be breaking your door in later this evening. If you are concerned about your freedom of speech, just keep an eye or ear on Michael Moore. As long as you can here him out there, rest assured that the voice of dissent is still alive, strong, and tolerated. I haven't noticed the Justice department or the IRS hustling him off to political prison just yet.

You will remain free to assemble and to vote and to practice or not practice your faith as you see fit. You will remain free to procreate, and having met Ciela, I highly recommend this.

And you will remain free to try to convince those of us in the majority that your views are the true and correct ones. Just don't call me dumb. Only my wife gets away with that.

Some bogus Latin before departing to lighten your mood:

1. Illegitimi non carborundum
2. Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

B. Denham

At 7:33 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

Hey, Anonymous/Denham (if you are still reading). You say the simple answer is to ask the soldiers. I think that’s a great idea ... have you actually done that? Have you listened to what some of these kids have gone through?

You can’t gage their opinions by the military vote. The military vote will almost always support the incumbent. He’s their boss and their very training consists of being brainwashed to obey orders. So their voting record could hardly be proof that they’ve thought through these issues and have decided that they agree with American foreign policy.

I’m from a red rural community within a blue state, about sixty miles from a major military base. I know young men serving in Iraq and some who have returned. (Yeah, there are women in the military too but I don’t know any of them.) Mostly, I know their parents (these are people I went to high school with) and the hell they’ve gone through.

I can speak only for this community, but the young men I know who signed up to go into the military did so because they weren’t academically gifted and their families didn’t have a lot of money, so the military seemed to them the only option for a decent job. The kids I know in Iraq aren’t there because they have some idealistic goal of fighting terrorism; they are there because it’s the job they signed up for and they have to obey orders.

Some of these kids have been back. One young man, when I asked his opinion on the situation, just shrugged. “I don’t know what is going on over there. No one tells us. All we get are the names of who have been killed.” Another young man could not fight off the recurring nightmares, the images of children who had been hurt and mutilated. A couple months after being home, he got drunk one night and committed suicide. Most of the soldiers I know are under the age of 25 and for the most part, they don’t want to even think about politics; they return silent, stunned, wanting to forget everything. Many drink heavily, wanting to just escape reality. I do have one friend who is older, a career military guy who entered at the age of 17 and has been in the military more than half his life. He’s bitter, disillusioned, and disgusted by the whole war on Iraq.

In this particular community, the families of soldiers seem divided along gender lines. Fathers of soldiers, clinging to the idea that their son made a heroic sacrifice in the name of spreading democracy and freedom, voted for Bush. Mothers of soldiers, furious at a president who lied about weapons of destruction and got this country into a war that put their sons at risk, voted for Kerry. I don’t want to generalize and say this happened across the country; I am speaking only about the families I know.

You say the simple answer is to ask the boys in the trenches. Well, that really isn’t so simple. I think we need to go farther than that and listen their stories. It’s hard to do that and come to the conclusion that war is the solution to anything.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so everyone knows, B.Denham is not the first "Right leaning anonymous" from the earlier postings. Although I was impressed with his statements. If you must have a name, call me "Tater Salad".

At 10:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where to begin?

The military does often vote for the incumbent president, but in recent times that has only occured when the incumbent was also a Republican. So if you discount the Clinton years and toss out Gore (do we even have to mention Carter?), I guess that argument might carry some water. I would also argue that your average 20 year old in Iraq is a little better versed in foreign affairs than your average 20 year old filling latte orders at Starbucks.

Those folks vote the same way you do, by secret ballot. Why in the world would they vote so overwhelmingly for something they do not believe in?

War is, has been, and shall continue to be the solution to a great many things. The end of slavery and British rule in this country, the end of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in others. Does this make it the desired state of affairs? No. Is it always the right course of action? Again, hell no. But in the course of human events it is sometimes necessary, despite the terrible cost, because the alternative is worse.

I do not believe that I can convince you, nor do I believe that you can convince me. I do believe that we may both be well informed, thoughtful people and simply come to different conclusions.

Good night and God bless.

Tater salad - rock on. You nearly had beer through my nose with the Limbaugh hunting post.

B. Denham

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My real name is "Anonymous." In response to your posting, I decided that I had to say something to your other right-wing Anonymouses out there, but since I'm not so good at the political AM radio-style shrieking that passes for political rhetoric these days, I should try another tack. I'm just going to coin a new word. The word is “dogberry.” Dogberry, as you know, is the clown/constable from Shakespeare’s _Much Ado Nothing_, the play which, in my opinion, contains two of the most memorable and remarkable lines in all of English literature. One is spoken by Beatrice, a witty and sardonic remark on the subject of romantic love:

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me."

I love that, and whenever I hear a dog barking at a crow, I think right away of Beatrice. (I actually saw Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe in London last summer, and I made a spectacle of myself laughing out loud over that line. The many English turned about and regarded me.) More to my purpose, however, would be the other quite memorable line, spoken by Dogberry himself as his final utterance of the play:

“Masters, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall serve, that I am an ass.”

Think about how brilliant that is! Dogberry, in spite of himself, proves an effective constable, since he saves the day and restores Hero’s reputation and clears the way for her marriage to Benedick—he is also a fool, an idiot, and a moron. So, “dogberry” will mean something like “a person who is inadvertently effective” or “to behave in a bumbling yet successful manner.” Here’s how the definition might appear in a dictionary:

dog•ber•ry (dôg'-b?r'?) n. 1. A bumbling, incompetent, yet inadvertently effective or successful person. 2. An improbably, strangely, or unexpectedly successful result. —v. –berried, -berrying, -berries. To behave in a bumbling yet inadvertently effective or successful manner.

In a sentence, the word might be used like this:

“Dopey Joe dogberried a B out of his Freshman English class."

“Cynthia tripped, fell down, peered ahead through a low cloud of dandelion seeds, saw a hundred dollar bill crumpled under a bush, then dogberried the money into her torn pocket.”

“You kiss me then tell me to fetch you a beer?—I love you anyway, you wretched dogberry!”

“President Bush dogberried yet another election last week.”

And we, as a nation, committed not a dogberry but a blunder. So: the death toll will rise, "terror" (not "terrorism," mind you) will rise, the world will continue to disdain us and shake its head in utter puzzlement, the deficit will rise to levels undreamt of even by Ronald Reagan himself, and the planet will continue its progress towards becoming a paved, overheated and oil-smelling junk-heap. Praise Jesus.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

So war is sometimes the solution? Violence is sometimes the answer? So …. if there is this big powerful country that consumes a disproportionate amount of the world’s resources, has a leader who acts increasingly like an evil dictator, has known weapons of mass destruction, has attacked a country that posed little threat to them, well, I’d say that if I lived in a poverty-stricken country impacted by that powerful country, I’d be completely justified in sending a few terrorists over to attack them.

War breeds yet another generation of terrorists, who by your logic are completely justified in attacking our country.

The alternative to war is sometimes worse? Well, maybe. But let’s look at this specific situation. The alternative to attacking Iraq was …well, it must have been something really horrible … let’s see, the alternative was NOT attacking Iraq. Hard to see what was so awful about that alternative. What was the big urgency about the war in Iraq? Weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist? (Except on our side of course -- we have plenty of them.) Really, I’m trying to follow your logic here and it just isn’t making any sense to me.

I think we’ve got to get beyond these old ways of thinking. I think we need to at least come up with a vision of a world in which war is not an option.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

My point about the military vote: I hate it when privileged white people argue that war is necessary and worth the cost when it’s the families in the lower classes who are the ones who pay the human cost. The idea that the military supported this president so therefore we should too – well, that is absurd, like pointing to a slave singing in the garden and saying, "See, that slave is happy. He likes being a slave. Slavery is okay." I know that analogy is a bit problematic but I remain convinced that the mighty American military has been built on the exploitation of the lower classes.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

To be honest, I came to this blog because I was sick and tired of reading arguments on all the political blogs and thought I’d just look at some cute baby pictures. (Note to Scott: get the damned camera fixed.) I live in a rural red community – a community I’ve lived in my whole life – but I work on an urban campus as part of an academic community that is so blue that it’s green. And it’s pretty weird to be part of two communities who won’t even talk to each other, who just keep hurling insults at each other. I keep trying to listen to both sides but it bothers me that things are so polarized that I have to think of them as two sides instead of a just one bunch of people I care about who are worried and afraid about the future.

So my question to anyone still reading: What comes next? No point in arguing any more about the election. It’s over. B.Denham says that he thinks we are both well informed … well, I’m thinking maybe none of us are well informed. And I haven’t come to any particular conclusions either. I think we’ve got lots of problems to solve. And sadly, I didn’t hear any great visionary thinking from any of the candidates in this election. I think any solutions are going to have to come from grass roots activism.

Here are few examples of the kinds of things that bother me:

Misogyny is alive and well. The idea of a woman running for president is still so absurd that it can be used as a sarcastic joke. Homophobia can still be used as a way to get out the conservative vote. We can’t even envision a world without war. Oil is a finite resource and no one wants to talk about what happens when we run out of it. Thousands of women in this country will have miscarriages, or infertility problems, or children with birth defects because our government chooses to relax regulations on the amount of toxins that can be dumped into the environment. Environmental issues barely made it into the debate at all despite the fact that clean air, clean water, and uncontaminated food is essential for every human in the country.

My list is way longer, but you get the idea. It seems to me we have to stop thinking in terms of red and blue and start addressing specific issues.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what you're saying there, j(oe), but you dogberry one point: clean air and water are important for more than just humans. That's too anthropocentric for me to just let it lie there. Clean water is important to the water, and clean air matters to the air, not to mention every other creature alive, and it all adds up to keeping the earth alive and healthy first. If that means healthy for us too (it does) then fine. I read an article the other day about plummeting krill populations in the Antarctic due to global warming, which portends a real disaster--a genuine calamity--for all the creatures down there that depend on krill. This is serious; this really matters. Bush infuriates me for a number of reasons (I'll hold back on the others for the moment) but the most incomprehensible and unforgiveable thing he has done is take the discussion of the environment out of the political arena almost completely. In the meantime, the damage that he has authorized is beyond calculation: He scrapped the Kyoto accords, a working attempt at averting the environmental mess we're so hell-bent on causing. Bush is still working his damndest to undermine the Clean Air Act and gut the EPA, and he put Gayle Norton (are you KIDDING ME?) in charge of the Dept. of the Interior. Bush sees energy in simplistic, stupid terms, and his solution is old-fashioned, simplistic and stupid: Supply. Find more supply. Drill it baby, and to hell with anyone who thinks differently. And then he lies about his agenda with such enthusiasm that no one with a voice can think of a way to call him on it, because of course that wouldn't be patriotic or supporting the troops, now, would it? I admire, I guess, the voices out there who want compromise, who think they can reason and debate and come to terms with the Republican agenda, except that I think the whole fucking notion is ridiculous in the first place. I don't like anything about Bush, and I think anyone who voted for him is an fool or an idiot, and I'm not interested in dialogue or compromise with his ilk. We need to muster whatever strength we have to stonewall him for the next four years and try to limit the damage he's so fervently bent on doing. The main hope now is that his sheer incompetence will collapse on him, and hopefully this country is still strong and agile enough to dodge the cascade of debris that is on its way down. Watch your head. This election wasn't about moral values, terror, or taxes people, it was about a group of moneyed lying bastards who will gladly send us all to ruin in the name of maintaining control and wealth. Here we sit right now, and I tell you, this country is not as great as it was two weeks ago, and I agree with Scott, I want it back to where people care about each other, their environment, and most especially, about themselves. Bush is not the way.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

Hey, anonymous, I loved your rant. But I’m not willing to write off half the country as idiots or fools. Not even Tater Salad or B. Denham.

Let’s take just one issue: More than half a million babies born in this country every year have been exposed to dangerous levels of mercury. Mercury contamination causes all kinds of damage, including learning disabilities and developmental problems. Mercury gets into the food chain through emissions from coal-burning power plants. Under the Clinton administration, mercury was classified as a hazardous pollutant under the Clean Air Act, which meant the plants were given a time limit to clean up their act. This was a do-able action that would have cost each plant something like one percent of their revenues. The Bush administration relaxed the classification.

Why would any sane person relax regulations that helped prevent birth defects? Well, most people think it just might have something to do with the more than $100 million that the industry has donated to the Republican party in the last four years.

Shouldn’t both Republicans and Democrats be outraged by this? How do we hold the Bush administration responsible for this kind of action?

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's not very nice. When I first logged onto this blog I did so wondering what Scott thought of the election as he is the most articulate Lefty I know. But then he called me "dumb" and got my Irish up so I thought that I would spice up his blog.
One of the points which I was trying to make to Left thinkers or "Losers" as Arnold like to call them (kidding !) is that they really should examine the other side of the coin and not be so sure of themselves. I think everyone can agree that the solutions to these many problems lies not to the far left or the extreme right but somewhere in the middle. After all, I wouldn't drink with the KKK any sooner than I would with ELF (although I do think the KKK would have better whiskey).
If you are on the Left, my suggestion is to tune into a Right leaning radio program and give it an honest listen. Or if TV is your bag, watch FoxNews for a week.
Note: if you are a Lefty you might have to go to your parents house to do this as you probably can't afford cable. (Little joke there) You might surprise yourself and learn something. I'm a conservative yet I listen to NPR every morning. It gives my a different perspective and I like all of their funny names.
Now than, for the enviromentalists in the crowd. Everyone wants clean water and air, etc. However, we also need to balance that desire with the reality that PEOPLE NEED TO MAKE A LIVING !!! The regulations which the government, like everything else the government does, are usually shortsighted and ineffective. Plus they saddle business with huge costs which leads to lower profits which leads to layoffs, whicvh leads to people on welfare which leads to pissing people like me off because I shouldn't have to support them. What we need in our environmental policy is some pragmatic thinking and what you English students need is to TAKE SOME DAMN BUSINESS CLASSES so you can better understand how things work. We need an EPA which works with business not against it.
One last thing and this is really going to cause you ELF members in the crowd to look over your shoulder the next time you go out tree spiking or to a Hummer Roast. I don't really hunt, and have at one time or another supported Greepeace, the WWF and the Sierra Club.
TA DA !! You can hold two supposed opposing viewpoints at the same time. THINK FOR YOURSELVES PEOPLE !! Don't believe anything from either side sight unseen. Get as much info on issues as you can and remember to walk a mile in the other guy's (Oh, sorry ! person's)shoes.
-Tater Salad

At 5:41 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

Radio? Television? Is that where you get all your information, Tator? Well, that explains a whole lot. Broadcast media is controlled by just a handful of people in this country. For the most part, it's an advertising tool.

If you want to think for yourself, try reading a book. Or better yet, a whole lot of books written from all different viewpoints.

At 7:40 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...

A few last thoughts for Tater. You seemed to be trotting out the tired old argument that we must choose between jobs and the environment.

Can we just leave corporations alone and trust them to make ethical decisions about the environment? Of course not. Corporations are by nature profit driven; the bottom line will guide decision-making. So their decisions, in the absence of regulation, will be short-sighted, doing whatever is necessary to make the largest profit.

Sure things were different in the days of small family businesses. When the person who runs a small business lives in the community affected by that business, he or she will be in many ways held accountable by that community. But in huge corporations, the people making the decisions are far removed from the community or landscape they may be affecting.

Your big argument is that regulation leads to financial costs, which cost the community in terms of jobs. Sure, that might be true. Because the way corporations work, they are far more likely absorb costs by cutting out jobs at the bottom of the hierarchy rather than cut the bloated salary of the CEO. (The hierarchical nature of corporations .... another topic for another day.)

But there are other hidden costs. For example, let’s take an industrial pollutant that is a known carcinogen. You say government shouldn’t regulate. Let’s allow a big pharmaceutical company, for instance, to continue spewing the carcinogen from its smokestacks even if it’s located in a residential area. The community of course will have higher cancer rates. Fighting cancer is damned expensive. The average woman with breast cancer, for instance, takes four to seven years to die. That’s years of expensive medicines, repeated hospital stays, surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, etc. Who picks up the all the additional health care costs for that community? The government, through social programs. And the big company, through higher health care costs for its workers. If you do a cost analysis, it’s way cheaper for us taxpayers to prevent cancer in the first place.

Where do you draw the line? No regulation at all on industries? Should we go back to the days of child labor? Scott could have Ciela in the workforce within five years. No OSHA regulations? Yeah, those workers don’t really need safety goggles or preventive equipment.

If we are going to have some laws to protect the workers and the community they live in, why is it so over the top to think that clear air and water or the chance to have a healthy baby is maybe one of the things they as American citizens are entitled to?

At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this much bile since, well, just before lunch. But that lady did not mean to throw up directly on me, I'm sure. Perhaps that is the effect I am having on this blog as well.

OK then. All volunteer army = slave signing in garden
Maybe I'll just let you reconsider that comment.

I will remind the rest of the group that I did not state that you should vote for Bush because the troops overwhelming did. I said that the troops on the whole believe the sacrifices they are making are worth it to give Iraq a chance at rising from the cesspool it was under Saddam. You should have voted for him for many other reasons, but enough about the election.

Time for a breath of fresh air. Maybe here:

And the children are our future:

LOT more infant mortality out there from smoking, poor prenatal care and crack than mercury or any other heavy metal poisoning.

A little juxtaposition.
"I think anyone who voted for him is an (sic) fool or an idiot, and I'm not interested in dialogue or compromise with his ilk."


"I want it back to where people care about each other"

I'm thinking you may be able to accomplish either one of those goals, but both simultaneously is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Lastly, I like the idea behind dogberry but wouldn't a more recent analogy like Forrest Gump help to better get your point across? I mean, it’s a great concept, but the humor is going to be lost in the obligatory five minute explanation.


At 7:32 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

B. Denham tells me to go to a government webpage to get proof that the air in this country has gotten cleaner under the Bush Administration? Oh, come on. If you know anything about science or statistics, you know how that data can get manipulated. I didn’t think anyone, Republican or Democrat, was naive enough to believe anything the government tells them. The damage that the Bush administration has done to the environment has been documented thoroughly by hundreds of independent scientists. I didn’t think even the staunchest Republican would try to defend Bush’s environmental record. Yeah, I know that the Bush administration will put fake names on stuff, like gutting air pollution laws and calling it something like “Clear Skies” but I didn’t think anyone was gullible enough to believe that kind of propaganda.

Sure, smoking, crack, and alcoholism can affect infant mortality. But if I’m a pregnant woman, I can choose not to smoke or drink or do drugs. I don’t have as many choices when it comes to the air I breathe, the water I drink, or the food I eat. Well, I suppose if I’m rich enough, I can move to a place that puts me less at risk – that’s why the rich people always get the hills – but the level of toxins in the environment is so high now that even wealthy women are being affected. Of course, I think it’s important to ensure that pregnant women gets prenatal care – uh, isn’t that what the Democrats have been arguing?

Pregnant women in this country have a whole lot to worry about. Out of all the environmental issues I could have chosen to discuss (a long list to choose from if we’re discussing the Bush administration), I chose fetal toxicology because I assumed that anyone coming to a webpage that features mainly cute baby pictures might actually care about this issue. Is it that you care but are just grossly uninformed? I challenge you to read even one book on the issue. (Sandra Steingraber’s Having Faith would be a good start.)

Is that the problem with the red areas of the country? That you get your information from television talk shows and the sound bites of politicians and government websites? Do any of you read books any more? Yeah, I know that sounds condescending – but I’m honestly trying to figure this out.

Yes, an all volunteer military exploits the lower classes. I’m sticking to that argument. You haven’t said anything to convince me otherwise. From your posts, B.Denham, I’m guessing you are a privileged white boy who never even had to consider the military because you had other options. (If you are wrong and you are a single Mom in the Bronx whose only child is over in Iraq, than I apologize.)

B. Denham says: “The troops on the whole believe that the sacrifices they are making are worth it to give Irag a chance at rising from the cesspool it was under Saddam.” Do we honestly think that is why your average seventeen-year-old kid from a poor family signs up for the military? Do you honestly think that these kids on the front lines are thinking, “Yeah, if I get killed today, it will be worth it?” And yes, basic training is a form of brainwashing. It’s a way to get these kids to stop thinking as individuals. How else do we get normal decent kids to turn into soldiers who will kill the enemy, who will mock and torture prisoners?

I have seen what the military does to normal decent kids. (Not at the officer level .... that’s a whole different story. I’m talking about the kids on the front lines.) I have friends who are Vietnam vets. If one of my sons ever goes to war, I will pray for him to get killed quickly.


You know, I only stayed in this discussion because I don’t often have a chance to talk to anyone from the midwest or the south. I honestly wanted to know what some of you were thinking. I’m not someone who likes to argue. I hate to argue, in fact. I’m not even very good at it. And I don’t want to argue with someone who is arguing because he thinks it fun. It’s not fun for me at all. I care desperately about these issues.

So anyhow – thanks Tater and Denham for sharing your views. I wanted some idea of what you were thinking and now I do. But I don’t want to argue any more. You’ve both given me some idea of the battles that lie ahead, the work that needs to be done. I’d like to believe that I do still live in a country where people care about each other. I can speak only for myself, but I do care a whole lot about the people in this country, even both of you, whom I’ve never met, and your kids, if you have them. I’m going to stop arguing on this blog (I’ve hijacked Scott’s comment section long enough) but I’m not giving up on any of this. Perhaps we’ll meet on this blog some other time and continue the discussion.

At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, thanks from me also to Tater Boy and B. Denim for affecting my day with commentary. I'm the ranter, blogging off for good here, with a final comment that your (whichever of you two it was--my apologies to the other)comment to the effect that English majors should take a few business courses to find out how the world really works is what causes me to 1)puke, and 2)lose every last iota of respect for you. Business has power these days, and many business persons are enlightened, decent people, but you have bought into the simplistic darker side of the corporate approach, and you are its stooge. As if business classes would shed light on anything other than money and power, and if that's the world you really want, then enjoy the next four years. All of my strength, talent, energy and influence will be dedicated to undermining and then overcoming you and what you espouse. You will not do. Tater, Tater, you bastard, I'm through.

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that sure spun horribly out of control ! The problem with this type of communication is that you can't get any vocal or facial expressions. I was under the impression that we were having a discussion not an arguement. Some of my comments were jokes and if you can't recognize that than you really are taking yourself way too seriously and need to grow a thicker skin.
This debate started as the result of a particularly bitter and vicious election. It's sad that even in this little blog, people from left and right cannot seem to stomach the thoughts of the other side. I thought that what started as a quick and dirty gloating session turned into quite an interesting discussion. Isn't that what blogs are for ?
My life experience is far different from that of an english major. I grew up in a blue collar union home in an solid democratic urban setting. Yet through life experiences and a different path through the educational system I've currently arrived at a right leaning postion. I thought that providing a viewpoint from someone who's actually worked in industry and participated in the businesses that run our economy would maybe do someone some good.
I had hoped that I could persuade people to look at things from a completely different perspective from outside of academia. However, I guess that's not possible as they already know all they want to know about the world. Their minds are so open that they're closed. "Sorry, too full, no more room for any other information." Offer a Liberal an olive branch and they'll smack the shit out of you with it every time.
One last thing so that readers don't get the impression that I'm a knuckle dragging troglodite with a TV remote imbedded in my palm and an AM radio stuffed firmly in my pocket, I'll offer some "lite reading". I had the following books read to me since I'm obviously too stupid to comprehend all of them thar big words n' stuff:

"Ronald Reagan An American Life" by Ronald Reagan
"The Greatest Generation" by Tom Brokaw
"Direct from Dell" by Michael Dell
and last but not least
"How to Talk to a Liberal, If You Really Have To" by Ann Coulter.

Take care of yourselves and be good to each other.
- Tater Salad

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Humor can be a wonderful thing but sometimes humor is misdirected agression. It's how to be mean without owning it. It's the crutch of the passive agressive person.

"All gays should be shot and killed .... oh, come on, I was just joking. Can't you take a joke? You are sooooo thin-skinned."

At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, Tater, that got out of control. Sorry if my tone came off a little nasty--you're just trying to communicate, and that's an honorable thing, although you put out a line or two that got my dander up. I just do not believe at all that the current Republican leadership is honest or honorable, and they need now to be fought tooth and nail. Bush is utter anathema to my way of thinking, and that's not because I'm ignorant or my mind is closed; it's because I see him clearly for what he is. Now, we clear-seeing liberals have work to do, and I'm outta here for good. P.S. Since you're not an English major, you wouldn't have gotten the Sylvia Plath reference, which I totally expected. Not fair of me. Ranting on...

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I fully expected Tater to get the Sylvia Plath reference. After all, he's read four whole books.

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya nailed me Jo(e). I mean spot on. I am a privileged white boy. I was extremely good at picking my family. I remember back starting in the sixth grade when I was delivering papers to save money for high school; there was always someone else right there with me to chuck the newspapers at the darkened porches. And ya know what; there was almost always someone else there for the afternoon too. I used my family connections to score my first real job which was cleaning up construction sites and taking care of odd jobs. The good old days of cleaning excrement out of crawlspaces, gosh this just takes me back.

Summertime was the real leisure. The typical day was am papers, then off to construction, back for the pm paper, and then off to mow lawns or work as a lifeguard or a grocery bagger, or a Woolworth’s clerk or whatever bordering-minimum-wage job I had that year. Then get up the next morning and do it all again with 90% of the proceeds going for the next school year. Yes sir- all beer and skittles.

And I am serious as hell when I say we were privileged because we had a rock solid family that pounded into us, sometimes literally, the value of hard work and education.

I also know a bit about science and stats. Along the way I picked up an engineering degree and worked for one of the largest environmental engineering firms in the country for a year. I have actually taken groundwater samples from a superfund site and could tell you a fair bit about how strict the chain of custody is to ensure any hanky-panky is kept to an absolute minimum.

'bout the middle of that whole college thing, I spent six weeks with the United States Marine Corps, enjoying a little fun in the sun at Quantico, Va. at officer candidate school. So I can tell you with some personal knowledge that I know and understand the mindset. Some of the OCS guys were coming up from enlisted ranks by the way, and they were far more squared away than the college boys. One was a Marine helicopter crew chief that passed up a slot on Marine One (that's the helicopter Kerry will not be stepping out of anytime soon) so that he could become an officer. That guy was more of a gentleman and a scholar than damn near anyone I ever met in college. Brainwashed is not the way I would describe him. Some meatheads in the group? A couple, but a lesser percentage than in any fraternity I ever knew.

Now, this is really going to stir you up Jo(e), but the reason I did not accept my commission at the end of all this is because I thought we had arrived at an end to the need. Yes, it was the summer of 1989 (fall of the Berlin wall) and I was a 19 year old fool. I assumed that the likelihood of a conflict popping up now that the Soviet empire and the Warsaw pact were not long for the world was slim to none and the nation could probably use me better as an engineer.

As an aside to your sons, should they ever feel the call to battle, I encourage them to study more Patton and less Jo(e). The goal is, after all, not to die for one's country, but to make the other son of a bitch die for his. (No, that's not a roundabout way of calling you a bitch. It's a quote.)

In terms of birth defects and sick kids, I can’t claim the benefit of having read your proposed text. It wasn’t really required reading during the time I spent in the neonatal intensive care unit or while on the high risk OB service. Can’t say I saw a whole lot of water quality risk factors while there, even there in Kentucky. Crack, on the other hand, had a whole section named after it. The last child I delivered was a trisomy 13. Not as common as Down’s, but far more lethal. I can’t swear whether or not the mother really liked tuna, but she was in her middle 40’s. They seemed to be the absolute perfect family and knew the risks going in. Bad things do indeed happen to good people.

I currently pass much of my professional time, not selling used cars as you may have suspected, but armpit deep in the kind of folks I’m going to guess don’t frequent the campus all that much. While there are many good and noble citizens in our community, we have more than our share that wouldn’t fit in at the chamber of commerce meetings, or for that matter, the English department faculty meetings. Turns out, they get sick too ( I wasn’t kidding about the vomit the other day). HIV, hepatitis, homeless, prostitutes, drug deals gone bad, drug deals gone good (little too much bang for your buck), we get ‘em all. Sometimes, if we’re real lucky, we get all that in one patient and they are combative to boot. These folks, by the by, get the exact same care as everyone else from our department and they get it almost invariably for free.

How much time, effort and personal risk are ya’ donating to this crowd, Jo(e)?

My suggestion to the left side of the group is to read less. Perhaps a lot less. Go do it or experience it for yourself. You might benefit from more contact with the rest of the world.

I came to the blog because I enjoy our host’s musings and I am a fan of the little one. I, like tater, saw an opportunity to have a civil discussion. I do not recall the right wing here calling people naive, liars, idiots, or bastards. I thought this was an English blog. Surely you can do better than that.

Lastly I am going out on a limb here to ask for your prayers. Not for me, as you now know, I’m just another privileged white guy. But rather for a young man I met today. He just got back from Iraq where I understand he was a tanker. I have no idea what he thought of the war, who he voted for, or what he believed in. He was in car wreck here and he needs all the help he can get. I would consider it a personal favor from my new friends.


At 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Jo(e), he really got you there. This poor kid had a paper route. And it sounds like he had a summer job too. Oh, what a tragic childhood. Getting up early to chuck newspapers on porches in the summers -- that's a risky and difficult profession. I'm sue he totally understands poverty and pain and what might motivate a poor black kid in the Bronx to enter the militaty.

I'm sure he's living in poverty right now too because it sounds like he spends all his time giving back to the community. I mean, I don't expect that he gets paid for any of the work he does. Jo(e) and ranter guy, don't you just feel ashamed of yourselves?

At 6:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big problem with birth defects caused by toxins is that we, the average uninformed person on the street – well, we don’t see directly which toxin caused which birth defect. When a pregnant woman drinks tap water, she doesn’t know what’s in it.

Crack babies are easy to identify because often we know the Mom is on crack. So the cause of the neonatal problems are pretty easy to figure out.

Environmental toxins work in a way that is far more subtle. A woman has a miscarriage or a baby with a birth defect or a child with developmental problems, and we say, “Oh, well. Bad things happen to good people. It must be God’s will. Let’s just pray more.” Environmental toxins are often invisible. That’s the tricky part of it.

To really understand the toxins that affect unborn children in this country takes years of careful scientific research. It’s not something you can learn about just by hanging out in poor communities and getting life experiences there. That means the average person has got to accept the findings done by scientists. Yeah, I know that is difficult to accept. I know that conservatives don’t like to listen to experts. These scientists are academic snobs, often from big campuses in the northeast or places like CalTech, mostly clustered in the blue areas of the country. Some of them read a whole lot of books and scientific literature. Many of them spend 12 hours a day, six days a week, pouring over cultures in a lab or over scientific articles spread across their desk. I know this may be hard for you to believe, BD, but some of these scientists feel like they are the ones in the trenches, fighting a hard serious battle against disease.

The most difficult thing, when you are a scientist, is that so much of your funding comes from the government or industry. Research is expensive and big grants are the way to get the money. That money dictates what you can research.

Let’s take something like cancer research. Corporations will donate money for cancer research because it’s good public relations, proof that they are giving back to the community. Yes, they are all too happy to donate money to a scientist who is trying to cure cancer, developing new types of chemotherapy, radiation, or other treatments. (I’m deliberately staying away from the controversial one.) But what if a scientist wants to prevent birth defects? What if a scientist wants to study hotspots in the country, clusters of such things as childhood leukemia? What about the scientist who want to look for the causes of cancer to see if we could actually get these toxins out of the air, water, and food? Well, that kind of study is much harder because the grant money isn’t available. Because that kind of research could lead to regulations on industry and that upsets people like Tator Tot. Can’t regulate industry, no matter waht.

The other difficult thing, when you try to talk to people about these issues, normal decent people, whom you expect would actually give a damn about the health of children in this country, the difficult thing is that they tell you to get off campus and spend less time reading books.

Maybe they are just scared and don’t want to hear what we are saying.

At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christ, the personal attacks just keep coming and coming don't they ? Seems that in addition to having no sense of humor, you liberals can't even have a civil discussion ! If you can't attack the philosophy you attack the person ? Who taught you how to debate, James Carville ?
Let's clear some things up. I never said that there is no need for government regulation. Jo(e) jumped to that conclusion and put those words in my mouth all on his own. I have no problem with government regulations
provided that they are well thought out. Again, everyone wants clean air and water. No qualifiers here.
And if you want to know where I stand on babies with birth defects, I'm definately anti-babies with birth defects.
Secondly, the statement about conservatives not listening to science is pure bull. I would argue that a conservative engineer has far more in common with a scientist than a liberal english student. Engineering is an applied science and the fact is that engineers listen to one thing: data. What does the data tell us ? What are the facts ? There is no discussion of "feelings" or "owning one's anger" in engineering. We deal in cold hard facts leave the BS at the door.
BTW I'm glad to hear that BD is a fellow engineer, I am an engineer as well and I also hold an MBA and work for an automobile company which makes me a Super Evil Villian in some of your closed little minds. Also, with that statement Scott will know who I am so Scott, if I step on your toes, sorry in advance, nothing personal.
So, what's next to debate ? Bring it on ! (God, I love that.) -XXOO Tater Salad (Super Evil Villian)

At 8:31 AM, Blogger jo(e) said...

I should mention that the post about scientists studying toxins was from me. I share my computer with a household full of teen-agers and kids, and the settings get changed every time one of them goes off to post stuff on a blog. In fact an awful lot of the comments on this blog have been from me lately. I’m leaving for a conference in the morning though so you should all get a break from my incessant need to express my opinion. The good people of Indiana will have to listen to my rantings for the next five days ....

I would apologize to you, Denham, for baiting you into telling me something about your life, except that of course I am not sorry in the least. I was really curious as to who you are and what background you are from. I like to get to know people. I learn way more from their stories than I do from impersonal and rational arguments. Sit next to me on the bus or train, and I will get you to tell me every damn detail from your childhood on. I am fascinated with what lies behind people’s thoughts and ideas and passions.

In this discussion you seemed to have something to say (I'm talking to Denham here and not Tater) – I didn’t think you were just posting to provoke me – and I promise (now that I’m switching out of debate mode) to at least think about some of the things you said.

In fairness, I will tell you something about who I am. I don’t know if you could call me an academic; I chose to spend my young adult life having babies instead of getting a Ph.D. I have a bunch of kids, which explains why my posts are always written in such a hurry. (I never spellcheck anything because I’m so arrogant that the grammar check and spellcheck on my computer are turned off.) Yeah, I do spend an awful lot of time reading books. I always have. And somehow, despite the lack of a Ph.D., I have ended up with a university job, teaching writing and literature on a campus full of scientists. I do lots of reading/writing workshops in the community and public schools because I happen to think having a literate citizenship is essential in a democracy. I am honestly puzzled by the conservative argument that people who read lots of books are somehow uninformed and ill-equipped to make decisions. Yeah, I’m from the northeast. I live within a couple of miles from where I was born. I grew up in a family that had very little money (I went to college on a scholarship), but I always had food to eat, clothes to wear, and books to read. I can’t say that I’ve ever truly experienced poverty. I’ve done lots of volunteer work in an attempt to understand poverty vicariously but I realize that is not exactly the same thing.

Yes, I’m an elite intellectual northeastern crazy liberal feminist tree-hugging gay-loving Bush-bashing bitch. You probably guessed all that. I’ve been both a Democrat and Republican. I always switch my party affiliation to whichever party is not running for re-election so that I get to vote in the primary. I’m not a huge John Kerry fan; the only politician I ever really liked was Jimmy Carter.

Despite any stereotypes you may have about me, I am a deeply spiritual person. So yes, of course I will pray for your friend. I disagree with the military action this country has taken but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the humans in the military. I pray for them every day, for the soldiers – some of whom think they are fighting for what is right and some of whom are simply doing the job that they signed up to do – I pray for them all, on both sides, whether they are from America or Iraq or some country caught in between. I don’t want any of them to die. I pray for parents on both continents who have to sacrifice their children for yet another senseless war.

I will be offline while I’m travelling so this will be the last post from me for awhile. Perhaps we will meet over Ciela’s Christmas photos and chat again.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bryan, I can't believe you've resorted to the "I've been in the military so I understand the mindset" crap. You sound like John Kerry. Give me a break.

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dear friends, the CV posted was in response to Jo(e)'s insuination (among others) that I was a privileged white guy who never had to worry about having my own self in the service, but felt happy to send others. I don't particularly fit that mold.

I don't pretend to speak for all the military men and women of this country. They do a fine job of that on their own blogs which are quite diverse. (check out 'view from a broad'). I also don't view them as a pack of brainwashed slaves signing in the garden as some of our colleagues here do.

Kind of suprised that you are already using your proven, steadfast, war hero, ex-candidate for president as a lighthearted insult. Then again, maybe not. I always figured him for a good joke myself.



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