Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Julius Meinl in Chicago

Austrian Coffee and gourmet shop Julius Meinl has opened in Chicago. I walked by it in Southport a bit more than a month ago when a friend and I were walking around in that neighborhood, an area which I really like. Anyway, the place struck me as familiar...hadn't I seen it in Vienna when I was there in late October? Wasn't it the huge gourmet and coffee store that I entered, only to cower between its intimidating aisles of high-priced food and chocolate.

There really was one in Austria! I wasn't making it up!

Well, now that it's here in Chicago, I must check it out. I don't expect it to remind me of Vienna, since it looks like it's in one of those new red brick structures that so clutter Chicago, but I do expect a good cup of coffee.

The Blame Michael Jackson Syndrome

I didn't hear about this until seeing a taped episode of "The Daily Show" tonight where Fox schmuck Neil Cavuto is interviewing (or more like buttering up) George W. Bush. At one point, Cavuto suggests that the Michael Jackson trial has resulted in Bush's unpopularity. I think his logic is that if Americans weren't so wrapped up in it, they would pay attention to Bush's social secuirty plan and just love it. Anyway, the transcript is just too funny for words:

BUSH: Polls go up, and polls go down. But I also know my job. See, I could not be here in Washington, D.C., and take on an issue like Social Security and live with myself. In other words, if I didn't take this on, I'd have said, "What did you go to Washington for in the first place?"


CAVUTO: But in the meantime, the news channels then hear what you're saying, and then later on, we have this Michael Jackson update. I mean, his trial and his ongoing saga has gripped the nation for the past four-and-a-half, five months as you've been on this campaign.


CAVUTO: I know this is a little outlandish, Mr. President…

BUSH: No, that's all right, Neil.

CAVUTO: Do you think that the focus on Michael Jackson has hurt you?

Equally as coherent a logic would be that Americans are so disconcerted by the state of the country and the guy who is leading it that the Michael Jackson trial is some sort of escapist outlet. Better yet, how about Republicans stop making excuses for having unpopular policies. I mean that just takes the cake.

"You know of all of the military victories bush claimed? They're all being reversed. Can we do that with the election please?"

"9/11 is to Iraq as leg-waxing is to a hot air balloon ride."

Quotes from the Randi Rhodes show on Air America Radio in response to Bush's TV address from last night

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


As some of you may have noticed, I have added Google's Adsense on my blog to make a little extra cash, but so far I have made nada. If anyone wants to do me the favor of either clickin on one of the adds to net me some dollars or just give me advice on how to use Adsense to my best advantage, I would be grateful.

Apparently they try to match the ad up with the content on your webpage, so that there was an ad for "Support our troops" bracelets on my page is ironic. It is exactly that kind of inane, do-nothing but display a worthless symbol approach that I hate. If you support your troops you'll work to bring them home!

...Just don't bring it to the workplace

I love the extent to which people go to assure that they do not care about what you do in your personal life. Speicfically, I am thinking of supervisors in workplace settings or people who lead worker orientations.

I guess the man who is director of the daycamp that my brother works with is like this. He'll assure you that you can feel free to do what you will in your free time, so long as you don't bring any of it into camp.

In the spirit of this, I wrote a little script for the supervisor who wants to make sure that employees get the message:

"I don't care what you do outside of camp, just don't bring it here. You can snort cocaine off of a 5 cent whore for all I care, but keep it out of these campgrounds. You can rob a bank, use the money to throw a raging kegger every night of the week where you shoot up heroin and engage in massive orgies, so long as you don't bring it into the area bounded by the lake on the East, the harbor on the south, Micigan ave. on the west, and the sailing beach on the north between the hours of 9 and 3 from Monday-Friday."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Robert Bork is an Idiot

A little more about Robert Bork. I found a Salon review on his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah. God love the poor guy who had to read the book. Here are some choice excerpts from the reviews:

  • like some horrid recurring nightmare, Robert Bork is back, and he's carrying a big fat book with him. It's called "Slouching Towards Gomorrah," and its contents are pretty much what one would expect from a book with such a title, only worse.
  • For all of the attention Bork pays to popular culture, however, he doesn't seem to know terribly much about it. Indeed, his only contact seems to be with the boilerplate denunciations that clutter the pages of contemporary conservative writings. As a result, most of his attacks are a bit off-key. He believes that MTV stands for "Music Television Videos," and he seems to think Nine Inch Nails are a rap group.
  • It seems a tad preposterous for a man whose writing is so aggressively unwieldy, whose use of evidence is mercenary at best, and whose facts are often glibly wrong, to prattle on about the decline of intellect and the abandonment of objective truth.
  • Like some off-brand version of near-beer, "Slouching Towards Gomorrah" tastes bad, and isn't the slightest bit filling. But the book did succeed in making me feel good about one thing: I'm just glad its author isn't on the Supreme Court.

Why the New York Times is just as bad as the others, a Supreme Court article

In today's New York Times' an article about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy plainly asserts that the judge has few loyalists on the right, thus assuredly eliminating his chances for a Chief Justice nomination should William Rehnquist retire. This article is problematic in many ways.

Take this excerpt:

A genial apostle of tolerance and consensus, Justice Kennedy, 68, is an unlikely lightning rod, one whose traditional Catholic background has little in common with the flag-burners, pornographers or abortion advocates his reading of the Constitution protects. [My emphasis]

For one, this sentence, idenitfying Kennedy as a "traditional Catholic" and a "genial aposlte of tolerance and consensus" establishes Kennedy as a man who can do no wrong. Then, by placing Kennedy as morally opposed to the people he has ruled in favor of, the article suggests that Kennedy, not the "abortion advocates" are the good guys. Furthermore, the article employs the term "abortion advocate" rather than pro-choice activist, which is mis-representative of how many pro-choicers feel about abortion. Also, that the setence lumps in pro-choice groups with pornographers is pretty damn messed up. Pornographers usually have pretty diametrically opposed values to pro-choice supporters, such as an inherent disregard for women's rights. The Times is all about recognizing how great Kennedy is though to care.

The article also quotes a crazy man by the name of Robert H. Bork as an authority on who should be confirmed. Bork was Ronald Reagan's failed nominee for the Sureme Court and is to the right of Atilla the Hun. He was the man directly responsible for firing special prosecutor Archibald Cox when Cox asked Richard Nixon to turn over tapes for investigation into the Watergate burgalry, showing how ethical a man he is.

In the Times article, Bork disingenously claims there is a "judicial oligarchy" (presumably that his right-wing judge buddies aren't a part of) and that there exists a phenomenom called "judicial activism" which theoretically is defined as a judge over-stepping his jurisdictional bounds, but in Bork's case, it basically means that a judge has made a ruling that Robert Bork doesn't like. He doesn't like Harvard because it has liberal intellecutals. (A) Harvard is a huge feeder into corporate firms. (B) Harvard, like any other big law school has an active Federalist Society chapter, which is the group that is behind getting more judges with Republican values in the judiciary.

The articles sources, with all of their quotes about plans to ensure "no more unknown packages," that is, no judges whose rulings won't be amenable to right-wing beliefs (like David Souter, or Anthony Kennedy according to these extremists) is audacious in the fact that these groups have no intention to try to keep the judicial branch above politics (which of course is impossible, but it is easier done without people like Bork trying to influence selection).

Finally, the article is a total puff-piece, fawning all over Kennedy by placing him above politics. Vaunting a man who signed on to one of the most problematic majority opinions, Bush v. Gore, as impartial and above the political fray is pretty irresponsible. Take this line: "His admirers see in him the essence of a judicial temperament: good judgment, fair-mindedness and a willingness to disentangle his own moral values from the law."

Basically the article puts Kennedy on the left by virtue of being less extreme than Phyllis Schlafly, Robert Bork, and right-wing organizations like Focus on the Family. Liberals need not apply, as they will not be interviewed by the New York Times.

Photographs like this (NY Times) are a good reminder of what exactly is going on in Iraq right now. From a bombing in Eastern Baghdad today. I don't think most Americans can conceive of what it would be like to have bombings become a steady occurrence in a Chicago or Atlanta or San Francisco.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Blogger Awards

There is actually an awards' ceremony for the best blogs of the year. My life's ambition has been realized.
Woah, I just read my last few posts and realize I sound like kind of a prudish philistine. Hmm...

Whirlwind Weekend

Just had one of those weekends devoid of alone time and breaks. I do enjoy having a lot to do, which will continue at least until the early part of the week because I have a dinner tomorrow and I'm going to the Taste of Chicago after work on Tuesday.

It seems that the phrase "when it rains it pours" rings true in my life, where sometimes I find myself jumping from place to place and other times I have stretches of nothing to do. As someone who likes moderation, I can only wish life was easier to control than it has been the last few days, but I'm not complaining.

Facebook Club of the Week

I'm trying to bring back my feature on most interesting, creative, or repulsive clubs of the week from college social site the Facebook.

This week the title goes to a club called "Students Who Wonder Why Dates in College Only Involve Tequila, $5 Fundraiser Parties and Random Play."*

*Note the use of the phrase "Random Play" which has actually been popularized by the Facebook.

Anyway, excerpts from the club description that I find amusing and all too true:

Exchange numbers?... No way, she'll think I'm a sleazy creep. Go out to one of Evanston's numerous coffee shops?... Are you kidding, he probably hates drinking liquids and making conversation. Take advantage of that one city, isn't it called Chicago?... Not if we have to talk and find things in common for the entire El ride there.

What about drunkenly bumping into them at some fundraising party that you paid 5 bucks to get into, slurring an introduction since you've never actually met before, commenting with a drunken wink how you know that they noticed you in class, blinking a lot to focus on their face while they talk, abandoning your friends to go back to their place, waking up the next morning at sunrise, grabbing your clothes and escaping home in regret, only to facebook them and wonder whether or not you should friend them now that the play isn't so "random"?

All I have to say is A-frickin'-men. When and why did college become such a hub for emotionally stunted interactions? I wish we could go back to the bygone days when guys had balls and girls had self-esteem. Alright, I'm phenomenally over-generalizing, but this Facebook clubs shows that others are having similar experiences and thoughts.

Save Me from My Naivite

Sometimes I feel like I am painfully naive. Whenever I hear about some of the crazy things that people in high school do for instance I am astonished. In high school, I had neither the resources nor the balls (and stupidity) to do some of these crazy things. Here I am, a 22-year old swelled with the knowledge that there are 16-year olds who are more "badass" than I will ever be.

Not that I feel like I'm missing out; in fact, I think kids these days grow up too fast. Part of it can be attributed to adolescence, which is more invented than legitimate, considering humanity persisted until the 1800s without knowledge of such a stage of life. Anyhow, it is gospel nowadays that adolescents or teenagers will rebel. Why? Mainly because they have nothing else to do. When I hear how they "rebel" though, I feel pretty damn naive. (My refrain tends to be, "People do that in high school?").

Iraq Needs College Republicans

This is pretty funny. (Found it here). It would serve College Republicans well to put action to belief and stick these posters around campuses. If that one's too much for them, there's this one too:

I can tell you this much, it will be the day when young, ambitious Republicans of tomorrow start enlisting even though they were the ones who wanted the war.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Krazy Karl (Rove)

If this isn't irresponsible, slanderous, and just plain ridiculous in its political opportunism, I don't know what is:

""Al Jazeera now broadcasts to the region the words of Senator Durbin, certainly putting America's men and women in uniform in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."
-Karl Rove

Now if Dick Durbin is apologizing for his comments, that is the least Rove can do for the above. Rove is clearly very comfortable saying the most audacious of things without feeling like he will be held to the validity of his words. This has got to change. At least sign this petition to get Rove to resign.

Implications of Seizing Homes and What is being for Limited Government

The recent Kelo decision that allows local authorities in New London, Connecticut to seize homes to allow for private developers to build an office building in that space has important implications in terms of how representative officials are of their community.

As Mark Singer of Sirotablog says of a D.C. plan to dispalce property owners to build a stadium: this is "...what is wrong with this notion of 'economic development.' Mayor Williams says he is improving a neighborhood, but he is doing it by getting rid of the people who use the neighborhood."

How representative of a neighborhood are its officials if they are displacing the people they would claim to represent? And for a reason that doesn't seem to have a large community purpose (i.e. a sports stadium).

This case also hammers home the fact that there will be times when certain interests who usually favor limited government (like private real estate firms) are for government intervention into local matters when it benefits them. The same goes for all sorts of interests, which makes it worth questioning how much genuity can be attributed to the claim of being unconditionally for limited government.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Kelo, Eminent Domain, and Our Communities

Well, I have to say, I was pretty appalled by the Supreme Court opinion on Kelo v. New London. The opinion resolved a conflict in lower courts over how to rule on eminent domain--basically the government's right to seize private property for projects of public use. The problem with this case was that the officials of New London, Connecticut where the case came from, wanted to hand over the seized land from residents of New London to private developers, claiming the developers' office project would be in the public interest of the community (generate revenue, safety).

How does one figure this though? New London isn't building a school or public transportation or roads in the spot, which have explicit public use and benefits. "As a result, cities have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes to generate tax revenue."

The Supreme Court majority isn't devoid of reason of course: they suggest that local (elected, presumably..hopefully!!) officials, not the federal judiciary, knows best its laws and its community's interest, and that is a strong argument.

However, even more compelling to me seems a person's right to live in the home he/she has purchased rather than having to move somewhere less desirable and convenient, which often happens due to private initiatives which push out people of lower-incomes. (A big example of this here in Chicago is what is going on in the Cabrini Green area, what they are now calling "Old Town Village," "North Town," etc., to remove the Cabrini Green stigma as well as the residents and make room for expensive condos and townhomes).

These private iniatives guarantee a safer, revitalized community, but often they just result in wealthier people from other revitalized communities moving in. The courts can only do so much of course, but this is a necessary policy issue to be addressed, especially before a community decides to call the private office and condo developers in for an easy solution.

Day in Chicago, the Patterson Case

Today was a particularly exciting day. For one, I am really enjoying my "extern"ship at the federal court and feel pretty fortunate at the amount of substantive work and learning experiences I am being exposed to. One thing that I especially like is that I have been encouraged to attend trials and other sorts of court sittings.

Today I atteneded a change of plea for a former death row inmate who was exonerated by a Northwestern study that found many cases of glaringly problematic death sentencing in Illinois. This man, Aaron Patterson is said to now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and is not competent to stand trial, according to a clinical psychologist hired by his defense. At certain moments in the courtroom, he would speak up, at one point questioning who the judge wanted at his trial "the real Aaron Patterson" or the "straw man Aaron Patterson." (The PTS allegedly resulted from Patterson's torture by police and years on death row).

The current Patterson case has a strange twist. He is "now facing trial starting June 30 on charges of selling drugs and attempting to buy four guns. He claims he was framed while investigating police corruption" according to the Associated Press. This man clearly has paranoia towards authorities, but if his allegations are true, that would be understandable.

Later tonight I went to a dinner at the Westin Hotel for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago which was nice, though now I am tiiirrred so I must rest.


Do you ever wake up in the morning realizing that your dreams were accompanied by some sort of R.E.M. conducted soundtrack? Yesterday morning I woke up from a dream that seemed to involve flying in a plane, sun streaming through the windows and the Frank Sinatra song "Witchcraft" in my head.

For some reason the last "Witchcraft" lyric that was hit in the song was particularly whimsical. Frank Sinatra songs are great enough but dreaming to them is a pleasure. Special thank you to my rapid eye movements.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Best Film Quotes

AFI released another of its famed film lists, this time the top 100 Quotes from (U.S.) films.

These basically look like the most oft-repeated film quotes and not necessarily the best, for instance "Frankly Scarlet I don't give a damn" from Gone with the Wind, "Go ahead, make my day" from Sudden Impact, "May the Force be with you" from Star Wars, and "You talkin to me?" from Taxi Driver. As someone who loves Taxi Driver, I can tell you that there are many other lines more meaningful and pertinent to the film.

Then again, I wouldn't expect AFI to put to include this Taxi Driver line in their list:
"Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man. "

Why Dick, why?

Alright onto more serious stuff.

Dick Durbin apologizes for remarks about likening Gitmo prisons to conditions of regimes that inflicted torture on prisoners like the Nazis.

In all of this hand-wringing about whether Dick Durbin is a patriot (coming from those most unknowing about what patriotism to our country should mean, valuing its guarantee of freedom), what has gotten lost here is the fact that people are being tortured. Tortured.

Torture is horrible, from Dirty War Argentina to Nazi Germany to Pinochet's Chile to World War II Japan. Seemingly enlightened countries have been settings for the most horrendous and dehumanizing treatment. What Durbin's critics live in denial about is that the reason we hold up Nazi Germany is because it could happen again. Its crimes are unthinkable not because they represented a rarity in human behavior; they're unthinkable because they represent events all too common.

So how about the "patriots" in Washington and in the right-wing blogosphere (and hey, some Democrats) quit their hand-wringing and do something about preventing our country from going the route of many brutal dictatorships.

Little Black Dress

I need this dress.

It is the most practical yet subtly chic style ever. Epitomized famously by Audrey Hepburn

(whose films I like, except for Breakfast at Tiffany's which is supremely overrated, and who has a blasphemous yet ballsy article written about her worth as a style icon here, "Audrey Hepburn: Fashion Icon or Style Tyrant?")

this dress is a classic. And I need one by Thursday, as I will be going to a dinner for which it would be perfect. Damn my lacking the basics.
I was just informed recently of this website called which has so many shoes and bags. I don't like everything, and the prices are all over the place because they have all sorts of items, but it's really easy to browse.

Weird Introspectivness

As some may have noticed, my recent posts have been a lot about me. I have to say, I'm confused right now. I'm not at a cross roads, because there are no distinct roads in my mind that I must choose between. Rather, I need to figure out what I want to spend time on after college? How do I get involved with such interests? Should I go abroad as an English teacher in France for a year and barely earn a living (if anyone knows how to get free rent in France, let me know)? Life just feels weird right now: the fact that I will be a senior in college is starting to sink in.

I've never been one to get gung ho about planning my future out to a tee and being overly vocational about schooling. I get annoyed when people say that their English/History/Political Science degrees aren't worth anything. Look, some people are pre-professional majors such as pre-meds or pre-business and have ingested stuff for their whole college career without really understanding why the ideas are important. Still, the more "pragmatic" talk I hear from people about what they're going to do after school, the more concerned I become about how non-pragmatic I've been. Then again, what do these guys know, they're just in college like me. College kids don't know anything. Myself included.


The last couple nights I have stopped over at what is to become my future place of residence, an "apartment" (it's actually a house) in Evanston where I will be living next year. The girls who resided there before us were content to leave as much as they could in the building, which means they left their share of crap along with some of the more useful things like furniture. Still, the apartment is nice, and I love my room which looks out onto the street and is a nice size, plus the first time I've had a single in college (other then when I was living in Paris). The girl who is living there this summer organized the furniture brilliantly, a skill I wish I had. I love design and figuring out how to organize things, but I'm not very conceptual. I wish I could post pictures of the apartment in all of its glamorousness (damn not having a digital).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Today on the train I was sitting in front of possibly the loudest phone-talker I've ever heard. By the time she got off at Diversey, the whole train car had learned that this girl "just kissed! no tongue!" some guy is "non-committal right now"--just dating around, and that she "only has eyes" for the lucky man with whom she was speaking. There was more divulgent information, but sadly I forget it now.

I just don't understand who these people are who talk so loud. Was she deaf? Exhibitionist? Oblivious?

Monday, June 20, 2005

First day "at court"

Today began my first day as an intern for a U.S. Appeals Court Judge (Seventh Circuit, as I am in Chicago, and the 7th covers the Midwest basically). Everyone was very nice and informative, and I daresay I will learn a lot. I am lucky to have this intern/externship though not necessarily meriting of it.

I am looking forward to learning a lot both from the work that I will do and from the people I am working with. Right now, I am still trying to figure out what field to work in after college (hell field, I'm just hoping for a decent job after I graduate!) and then decide whether I want to go to law school or graduate school in some subject (history? public policy? Help!). Anyway, I've so far learned from various sources that working for a big corporate law firm is pretty draining whereas working for an entity like the government can be quite interesting (from working in the courts to the SEC). Often I find that experiences where one is unleashed into the working world can help direct one towards what work not to do, even if it doesn't necessarily guide towards what to do.

Lastly, I will say that I wished I live in Chicago or the offcampus Northwestern area this summer rather than the further North suburban area, simply because it would be wonderful to be within walking and quick public transport (kinda an oxymoron when referring to the El, but still) distance from stores and entertainment. I mean I shouldn't even be complaining about this fercryinoutloud, as living at home=no rent and a beautiful summertime residential area, but I guess I'm just excited to live in the city and be closer to people and places.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I have added more political links, links to my friends' blogs, and links to random sites that I enjoy to spice things up a little on my boring 'ole blog. So enjoy!

Shootings and Gun Control

Geez. Another shooting, this time in Evanston. A 22-year old man was shot during a barroom brawl.

There's been a lot of talk lately among Democrats to loosen up on gun control, but between a drive-by shooting last week in the town that I live in and this bar shooting in the town I go to school, Democrats (and Republicans) should be giving as much attention to areas such as the area where I live that understandably favor gun control (cities and suburbs) because of incidents like these.

La base �norme de la Tour d'Eiffel. Again, not taken by me. Posted by Hello

(Apparently accent aigu is a big question mark for the folks at Oh well).


Mary and I atop the Eiffel Tower at sunset. (She took the picture) Posted by Hello

That's a picture from maybe October of last year when I was in Paris. The funny thing was I didn't even go to the Eiffel Tower until about three weeks after I had been in France. It's just not the first thing I wanted to see or do, but it blew me away by it's size. It's incredibly big, especially its base.

In the Voyeurism Category

Karen, Lyz, Elaine Posted by Hello

I posted this picture because I was trying to use it for a Facebook group about my pledge family. Then I realized you don't have to go through the internet at all for Facebook pictures, but I'll keep it up anyway. From left to right, my pledge daughter Karen, granddaughter Lyz, and me. I know, it's kind of weird, but at least my family rocks. We've also figured out that we're alternating between Jews and Asians, which is ethnically exciting.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"It represents one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media, and presidency, yet is rarely mentioned today.

It occurred on March 24, 2004. The setting: The 60th annual black-tie dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association (with many print journalists there as guests) at the Hilton.

Audiences love to laugh along with, rather than at, a president, for a change. It’s all in good fun, except when it’s in bad fun, such as on that night in March, 2004.

That night, in the middle of his stand-up routine before the, perhaps tipsy, journos, Bush showed on a screen behind him some candid on-the-job photos of himself. One featured him gazing out a window, as Bush narrated, smiling: “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere.” According to the transcript this was greeted with “laughter and applause.”

A few seconds later, he was shown looking under papers, behind drapes, and even under his desk, with this narration: “Nope, no weapons over there” (met with more “laughter and applause”), and then “Maybe under here?” (just “laughter” this time). Still searching, he settles for finding a photo revealing the Skull and Bones secret signal.

The reporters covering the gala were apparently as swept away with laughter as the guests. One of the few attendees to criticize the president’s gag, David Corn of The Nation, said he heard not a single complaint from his colleagues at the after-party. "-Greg Mitchell, Editor and Publisher

An ad about this.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Save Big Bird

and the rest of PBS. Republicans are up to what they do best, slashing any semblance of educational programming from television through a House Appropriations Committee decision to cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. CPB is a government-funded organization that directs money to public outlets like PBS. The funding being eliminated is a whopping 25% of the CPB's budget.

According to my friend who is into education, PBS is also a huge resource for educational tools for teachers. Of course, Republicans are against teachers as well.

The idiotic thing about this is that PBS which according to mentally-skewed Republicans has a "liberal bias." Well, if Fox is "fair and balanced" to these guys, Ghengis Khan would seem to have a liberal bias. Seriously though, PBS's political reporting is just a little less mealy-mouthed than the rest of the news programs. However, they still feature some great, informative programming like "Frontline," and of course their kids' programming is very good.

Plus, PBS is the station that Americans control. Disempowering it is disempowering Americans connectivity to television programing, what little of it we seem able to influence of it nowadays.

This article is useful in understanding the Republican siege against the CPB undertaken by its chairperson, Kenneth Tomlinson.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Your libraries are safe, for now.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a slap at President Bush, lawmakers voted Wednesday to block the Justice Department and the FBI from using the Patriot Act to peek at library records and bookstore sales slips.

Thanks Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for proposing this bill.

Angry Unstable Politician: Tom Delay, NOT Dean

Democrats should go after the angry Tom Delay the way they go after Dean. This guy has got away with saying some pretty awful things, as follows.

Howard Dean is a cruel and extremist demagogue. And Howard Dean is as ignorant on John Ashcroft as he is on national security. If this cruel, loudmouth extremist is the cream of the Democrat crop, next November's going to make the 1984 election look like a squeaker.

Courtesy of

"The EPA, the Gestapo of government, pure and simply has been one of the major claw-hooks that the government maintains on the backs of our constituents." - As reported in the AP [1995 July 29]

"Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour [the minimum wage in 1996] are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist." - From the Congressional Record, H3706 [1996 April 23]

By the way, no one is worried about offending the Democratic constituency

"The judges need to be intimidated. They need to uphold the Constitution. (If they don't behave) we're going to go after them in a big way." - From the Washington Post [9/14/97]

(Courtesy of Wikipedia).

Tom Delay on the constituency of Democrats:

Greenpeace, Queer Nation, the National Education Association.

Did that get denounced by Republicans as Dean's remarks did by Democrats?

Screw the Senate. It's time for all-out war.

On Clinton's expressed regret of slavery in the U.S. during a trip to Africa:

Here is a flower child with gray hair doing exactly what he did back in the sixties. He is apologizing for the actions of the U.S.

Wow, God forbid someone apologize for slavery.

A lot of politicians in this House and in this country are sucking the blood out of our constituencies. I can point to Hispanics or blacks that have become very rich by becoming civil rights advocates, and I think it's pitiful.

Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of 'Where did I come from?' 'Why am I here?' 'Where am I going?' 'Does life have meaningful purpose?'

Religiously divisive much?

We're going to fund only those programs we want to fund. We're in charge. We don't have to negotiate with the Senate. We don't have to negotiate with the Democrats.

(Courtesy of Buzzflash).

Avant Garde Scattergories

Yes, everyone's favorite word game (besides Scrabble and Balderdash) has gotten a makeover, courtesy of my enterprising younger brother. His idea was rather than writing down real nouns that start with the letter that has been randomly chosen, the players write down nouns that sound like they would fit into the given category.

Here are some good ones that my brother, his girlfriend, and I came up with when we played last night, all made up:

Sports players:
Paul Panzarro
Perry Perez
Pete Papageorge
(definitely would all be MLB players)

U.S. Presidents:
Preston Sturges

Terry's Leather
James 'n' Things

Boys names:

Tucker Tickson

Bodies of Water:
Lake Tagotoga

TV Shows:
"Lang and the Gang"
"Louie Fucks it Up"

Jason Wrench

Body Part:
Jemp's Plateau

Lenny Cassidy

Things at a Footbal Game:
Lorpus Pad

Type of Tree:

Sunny Spot:
Tikino Bay

Supporting Howard Dean

So I know I've been compulsively posting about the Howard Dean critics, but I just think the whole event is emblematic of the spot that the Democratic party finds itself in. People like Joe Biden (see below) seem to think Dean is a threat to the party.

In a recent New Yorker article about Biden, the Senator from New Jersey said John Kerry made a huge political mistake when he brought up after tape by Osama bin Laden was released before the November election that bin Laden was still at large on George W. Bush's watch. Biden said something along the lines of that Kerry should have adamantly said he stands with the president and how dare bin Laden. ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. The bin Laden tape, despite the establishment media's proclamations could have been a huge political success for Kerry: "Why is this man still loose? Bush should have caught him. We're fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq that is getting us nowhere near ending bin Laden's hold on parts of the Muslim world" etc. What's the point of Biden's strategy if it's praising Bush? An opposition candidate that does not make.

Anyhow, in support of Howard Dean and in opposition of officials the likes of Biden, I donated $10 to the DNC and sent them an e-mail:

Dear DNC Member Services,
I donated $10 today, and I just wanted to mention that I am donating
the money in support of Howard Dean and all of his great initiatives
as DNC chair not to mention his bold leadership. I hope he is not
cowed by other members of the Democratric party who seem more willing
to fight their own than fight the Republicans.
A loyal Democrat, Elaine Meyer

Here are some ideas suggested by a poster on David Sirota's blog regarding how to show your support for Chairman Howard Dean.

At 10:54 PM, Common Sense Mom said…

You are so right about Biden. How dare he say such a stupid thing about the leader of his party. Democrats are about to lose all power in Washington from a looming "nuclear option" and now the GOP is banning Dems from meeting rooms in the Capital for forums on issues related to corruption in our government.

TODAY is Democratic Solidarity Day (aka Support Howard Dean Day) Wednesday, July 15, 2005

Here's what you can do:

1 - Enlist your friends. Let folks know about this and encourage them to participate.
2 - Give money to the DNC – even $5 will send a message
3 - Call Democratic Elected Officials in the House and Senate
4 - Sign the Dean Speaks for Me petition
5 - Write Letters to the Editor -

When Biden or any other Washington Democrat has a problem with what Dean says, they need to talk to him directly instead of flapping their lips in public. Dean is far from perfect, but he is fighting the good fight for all of us.

Let's make a deal

All good Democrats and progressives should make a deal with Biden: he can continue stabbing his own party in the back with impunity for his own self-promotion, and say his party doesn't speak for him. In exchange, Biden should agree to never, ever claim to speak for Democrats.

Thank you David Sirota.
One more thing about the Dean comment that the Republican party is mostly white and Christian: the man's right.

In Chapter 1, we give a brief description of race/ethnicity and religion in Retro America. It is overwhelmingly White and Protestant Christian, usually of an evangelical and often fundamentalist bent. In the Deep South, Blacks form a large percentage (often as high as 85 percent) of the population and have significant local political power. They are, however, culturally, religiously, economically, and politically segregated from White society and almost totally excluded from the now-dominant Republican Party.

The Republican Party, as represented by its affiliated lawmakers in the state legislatures, is almost 99 percent white, 82.2 percent male, and 1.1 percent minority.

Data on the 108th U.S. House of Representatives show that the ranks of Republican lawmakers have nearly the same demographic profile at the state and the national levels: Whites hold a whopping 99 percent of Republican-held seats at both the state and national levels.

Retro vs. Metro

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Left-wing blogs get more readers, participation than right wing blogs

Interesting article on this

The left-wing blogosphere is beginning to decidedly pull away from the right wing blogosphere in terms of traffic. This is largely a result of the open embrace of community blogging on the left and the stagnant, anti-meritorious nature of the right-wing blogosphere that pushes new, emerging voices to the margins.

If you ask me, this reflects on the very different underpinnings of the two parties, one which supports mass involvement and advancing the causes of the people, the other possessing a top-down mentality which defends the privileges of the rich.

However, despite the greater number of conservative blogs, the liberal blogs totaled nearly ten million page views per week, while the conservative blogs managed just over six million. I have been tracking the comparative audiences of the two blogosphere off and on for the past nine months, and this is the largest lead for the liberal blogosphere that I have ever found.

...There are swarms of new conservative voices looking to breakout in the right-wing blogosphere, but they are not even allowed to comment, much less post a diary and gain a following, on the high traffic conservative blogs. Instead, without any fanfare, they are forced to start their own blogs
Ballz to the wallz! I'm linked on as a blogger who refers to Salon's article about Mark Warner. Hooray. Not sure if this link will show me, but we'll give it a try.

Give Dean a Break

What a shame that Democrats from Joe Biden to Evan Bayh, Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi, find it more worth their time to take pot shots at Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean than to defend him. As a recent editorial says, these critics have nothing to boast themselves:

What his critics fail to understand is that Howard Dean is leading in a manner we progressive populists have elected him to do. We tried the capitulation strategy favored by Berg and others in the party for the better part of the last 15 years under Democratic Leadership Council-based party leadership. We progressives, at least many of us, endured and even support their attempt out of misguided party loyalty.

It failed, quite miserably. So, now it is our turn. Progressive populists are the dominant force in the party and we want to speak truth to power. We want Dean to say it like it really is: The Republican Party
is 80 percent white and Christian; its agenda is dedicated to advancing the power of the wealthy and corporate America. In our view, Rep. Tom DeLay's conduct is criminal. Both are trying to lead us into a fundamentalist Christian theocratic state with a diminishment of our Bill of Rights. And Howard Dean is leading us in the grass-roots development of a populist party belief system with a progressive agenda of rights that some mistakenly consider entitlements.

By trying to be "uniters," and bipartisan Democrats are dividing a much more important entity, their party, while Republicans are just as uncooperative as usual. The Democrats on Capitol Hill don't seem to have a clue that the "Progressive populists" that are key to their party's success and are the people behind the most inspiring campaign we've seen in awhile--Dean's--are unhappy with their leadership and not Dean's.

What have the higher-ups given us in the last few years? Losers like Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt. What are we going to get from them in the future? The equally uninspiring Joe Biden, for starters. Bill Clinton wasn't successful because he was a DLC New Democrat, because by that logic, Joe Lieberman, the original Democratic frontrunner for 2004 should have won handily. No, Clinton had an outgoing and inspring style unmatched by the Liebermans and Bidens of his world.

Democrats ought to be embracing their base as the Republicans do, not running from it.

Mark Warner in 2008?

Granted, I think the Democrats should be worrying about MANY MANY other things before thinking too much about Election 2008, but at least candidates can start preparing, because, according to Howard Dean's campaign manager Joe Trippi's book The Revolution Will not be Televised, presedential races take a lot of preparation.

I think the most promising person I've read about is Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Moreso than Hillary Clinton (who I find has moderated some of her more inspiring goals and rhetoric to seem less liberal) and Barack Obama (who is too new in office), Mark Warner seems a great choice.

Here are some excerpts from an interview he conducted with Salon.

  • My starting premise is that I really think we need to change the framing of the political debate, from right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal, to future vs. past. The Democratic Party at its best has always been when it has been about the future.
  • But we have not fully cracked the code of, "How do you give that kid in Martinsville, Va., the chance to stay in the community he grew up in?" That is the appeal, and that is the question. And in a lot of ways for Democrats, rural America, small town America, mid-city America, [offer political opportunities]. These are places where people have decided they're going to stay. They're going to stay and they want their communities to flourish, yet they have received virtually no benefits from this current administration.
  • How do we make sure that there is the kind of quality of life that makes rural America or small-town America appealing? How does it not feel like it is under constant assault, being in effect belittled as not as valid as what we see on the TV set every night?
  • I think the president's biggest mistake, and I think he's made it twice, once right after 9/11, and once after the Iraq war started, is that he never called on this country for any level of shared sacrifice.
  • I think that what's become the conventional political wisdom -- that every Democrat has to make sure that they include a Bible verse in every speech -- isn't the case. People want to know who you are. They see that through your faith. They see that through your values. They see that through what you've done in your life, what you emphasize as your priorities.
  • If Democrats do not commit to being a national party, competitive everywhere in this country, we do not only our party but our country a disservice.
I remember when Illinois' current Governor, Rod Blagojevich went to downstate Illinois for a huge campaign effort. When politicians make a genuine appeal to these areas of our country, they win, and hopefully, rural citizens win as well. It is to our great detriment as a political party for the Democrats to write these people off, which is why Howard Dean's strategy of providing "Red State" support is so laudable and also a long-time coming.

Anyway, keep your eye on Governor Mark Warner. I like him, and I hope he throws his hat in the ring in '08.

I'll credit Republicans with one thing...

...And that is harvesting their young. I had a pretty difficult time myself finding liberal organizations to work for that seemed enthusiastic enough about having young people work for them to get back to my queries.

The New York Times runs an article about the Heritage Foundation's internship program which actually gives a stipend of $2,500 to each intern and houses them in pretty nice dorms.

The summer interns of the Heritage Foundation have arrived, forming an elite corps inside the capital's premier conservative research group. The 64 interns are each paid a 10-week stipend of $2,500, and about half are housed in a subsidized dorm at the group's headquarters, complete with a fitness room.

Unusual in its size (and in its walk-in closets), the program, on which Heritage spends $570,000 a year, is both a coveted spot on the young conservative circuit and an example of the care the movement takes to cultivate its young.

Of course, this is the party with the big bucks, but it would be nice if some liberal organizations valued its youth as much...not necessarily in money but just as people who can promote their causes. One thing Republicans have been excellent at is energizing and organizing their young supporters.

"There's no question that the right wing over the last 25 years did a much better job of creating a farm system," said Ralph G. Neas, the president of People for the American Way. Like many other liberal groups, his has recently expanded its campus outreach activities in an effort to keep pace with the right.

"They invested in young people," Mr. Neas said. "We're trying to catch up."

Still, while these kids all have impressive resumes, missing from their experience seems to be actual engagement with the people whose interests they would claim to represent. These young adults have worked on Capitol Hill and in White House offices, but in their quest for Republican professional work, it seems they have skipped over the campaigning, going to peoples' houses and telling them why their party should be supported.

These top-down intellectual structures like the Heritage Foundation and the Bush government offer little room for people who haven't had their heart set on a Heritage internship since their days as elementary school Young Republican president to influence the future of the party.

Guess who's coming to dinner at the Bush White House...a porn star

Our family values president doing what he does best, being a complete hypocrite:

"On issue after issue, they (the Democrats) stand for nothing except obstruction," Bush said at the annual President's Dinner, a $23 million fund-raiser attended by Republican leaders, party donors, and a blond porn star and former California gubernatorial candidate named Mary Carey.

Read all about it.

Terry Schiavo Autopsy

It's a sad day when people need to hold up an autopsy of a woman to prove her severe brain damage in the face of cruel people who blamed it on her husband.

An autopsy on Terri Schiavo, the severely brain damaged woman whose death sparked an intense debate over a person's right-to-die, showed that her brain was severely "atrophied" and weighed less than half of what it should have, and that no treatment could have reversed the damage.

Never fear, I'm sure the crazed people who had nothing better to do than interfere in what should have been a private decision think the autopsy is a conspiracy.
Why is the New York Times using a Heritage Foundation Study as authority on virginity vows and their correlation to sexual activity. The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think tank, and the study itself has not been peer reviewed. Here's a good blog that explains how problematic this is.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Africa was important before Brad Pitt, believe it or not

I'm becoming "mad as hell, and I don't want to take it anymore" (to quote Network), when it comes to the increasingly excessive celebrity culture. I was just talking with John about how even when we don't make any sort of effort to know about pop culture, we still hear about it all the time from people and even on the news.

It is especially ridiculous that the only time the television networks can be bothered to do an in depth story about the lack of good education and healthcare in Africa is when Brad Pitt takes it up as a cause. I have nothing against (and everything for) what Brad Pitt is doing in Africa (well except that Pat Robertson is connected with the initiative which makes me suspicious) even if it is a publicity stunt, but to see Diane Sawyer pretending that she gives a damn about Africa is just laughable and sad at the same time considering how irresponsible and decadent the U.S. news media is. Especially when, after the next commerical break, she goes to talking about the mundanity that is "what happened with Jennifer?"

The last straw is hearing people say they're sad about Brad and Jennifer breaking up. Sad? You don't know them.

So hopefully Diane Sawyer will start following up on Africa now that Brad Pitt has strucken such a chord, but I would imagine she'd sooner--much sooner--follow up on Jennifer Aniston.

All of this increasing ridiculousness reminds me about the book From Dawn to Decadence, where author Jacques Barzon frames a society that is on a cultural downfall because of its decadence. Not that I (or he) are the first people to point it out, but the hybrid Enterntainment news that is prevalent is no comfort.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lack of Communication in the Age of Communication Technologies

I just had an interesting conversation with a friend online about how it is so hard to keep in touch with people, yet, it should be so easy. With newer technologies like instant messenger, e-mail, and cell phones with text messages, communication should be as simple as typing a few words and hitting enter. Yet I find myself to have lost touch with many people in the last year. Fear not, for I'm sure I have not been cut off from friends forever; some of them are just gone temporarily, but I think there's a more fundamental problem that may not be aided by favorable geographic proximity. After all, it's easy to lose touch with people at the same college as you, who live merely yards away.

This problem is lack of things to say and feeling that it's not worth it to stay in touch. We have so many ways to communicate with people but often so little to say. We have a communications glut.

One of the prime modes of communicating these days, the instant message service, basically facillitates a discussion where two parties can pay as little attention to each other as each wants. A human equivalent to an IM discussion would be two people sitting across from each other exchanging a few words in between looking around distractedly at other people and things but with no direction in the conversation.

Older forms of written communication like letter writing are different because the writer composes an extended conversation that has a point and is personal. The IM conversation requires none of this.

IM, e-mail, and text messaging are made for people who do not have time to set aside for substantial catching up with friends. We have too many people to deal with, so there's no way to dedicate a lot of time to people we don't see on a daily basis. Too busy I suppose. Maybe we just need to spend more time alone, away from our obligations and from our communication technologies like cell phones, IM, e-mail, to appreciate the true value of human contact and communication.

Summer goals

  • Study for LSAT and/or GRE and/or US Foreign Service Exam
  • Clean out the drawers in my bedroom and clean my closet
  • Read good news sites more often
  • Research jobs in France for next year
  • Start thesis research
  • Read interesting books

Why do I post these goals? Because I never write things down and I know compulsive blogger I am that I will at least check back here.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Re: Template Change

Dear Loyal Reader(s),
Yes, I changed my template. Why you ask, when the other template was so mutedly perfectly appropriate for a blog about the news of the day? Because I need a blog that will jump out at people, draw them in, that embodies Y2K and beyond. No more stodginess, this is the aughts man.

Or because I was just getting sick of the old one. And I like that this blog has a small travel picture that kind of reminds me of the map of Paris's Metro.

If You Analyze the Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise Alliance Once More, You Don't Deserve the Priveleges you are Afforded in Life

I saw some of the MTV Movie Awards tonight, and there was Katie Holmes giving Tom Cruise an award for something made-up (generational actor award or something). I don't care that they're into promoting the KatieHolmesTomCruiseMustCoverUpTomBeingGay Thing, but I do care that people take it seriously. I cannot even count how many times I have heard this relationship being analyzed in the last couple weeks.

Here's what I have to say to those people who take it seriously:

Which current event do you know more about thanks to our useless American media?


Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise

If you all really care, let me tell you the deal. Tom Cruise is gay, yes gay. A lot of guys in Hollywood are gay or bi. Don't believe me? They all look so manly, don't they? Rock Hudson was gay. Cary Grant was bi. And those are some manly men. Tom Cruise is a member of a religion, Scientology, that tries to convert people from being gay to being straight. Katie Holmes is a member of this religion as well. Also, they both had recent movies out, and Hollywood now lives on the publicity stunt. That's how actors stay in the biz these days. It's depressing yes that there is a publicity-industrial complex that dominates Hollywood and thus America, so TURN OFF YOUR TV. And for the love of the lord, DON'T TALK ABOUT TOM CRUISE EVER AGAIN.

Friday, June 10, 2005

There was a driveby shooting in the town that I'm from today. This is very sad and frightening.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

White Dog

This afternoon I got to see a recently re-released version of director Sam Fuller's 1982 film White Dog. The premise of the film is interesting: a woman finds a white dog who she discovers has been trained to attack black people. The movie was pulled very soon after it opened in theaters because it was deemed racist and offensive, but supposedly it was very misunderstood, actually making a pointed commentary on racism. I can understand if people would be offended by it, even though it seemed to come across pretty clearly that the film was directed against racism and its manifestation over time into something engrained and horrific. Anyway, watch this movie regardless of what I say because it's just an interesting concept, and the dog does a great job. Lassie can't hold a candle to that white german shepard.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The True Meaning of "Awesomely Bad"

The phrase has enjoyed a strong use lately, especially thanks to VH1's recent special on "Awesomely Bad" music videos. What does awesomely bad really mean though? It sounds cool and funny because it is used to enthusiastically acknowledge something for being corny or awful. At the same time, this phrase seems to me a way for its user to distance himself/herself from the campiness of what he/she labels "awesomely bad," e.g. old Celine Dionne music videos. It is very much a hipster comment because it lacks genuity, never insulting nor lauding its target. Even though I currently have the phrase on my Instant Messenger profile, I advocate ending its use in favor of the compliment "awesome" or the criticism "bad," that is, in favor of going one way or the other. Meatloaf's "I Will Do Anything for Love," is awesome in its wrenching melody and its music video's old French Chateau-cum-1990s L.A. set. It is bad in its absolute melodrama, but melodrama is the stuff of opera, so maybe Meatloaf deserves a break. The Carpenters are not awesomely bad either because their songs, though full of melodrama, touch a chord. Hey, maybe even the hipsters who would deign them awesomely bad find some strange poignancy in "Superstar."

Dear everyone who doesn't update their blogs often,

You make my attempts at procrastinating much more difficult. Now get back to work...on your blog!