Monday, March 31, 2003

...Just Try to Breathe normally...

Part of me wanted this war to be over in a week or less, just so I could get on with my life. I just don't know if I can take the stress of a long war. Six months? I'll be a nervous wreck. Will I ever be able to focus on the rest of my life?

I'm in the process of refinancing, and I had a call from an appraiser yesterday to set up an appointment with me. My first question, do I have to clean the place? Will it appraise for less if it's a mess, because I haven't been able to clean around here since the war started. He assured me it wouldn't, but he hasn't seen this place either. My goal today is to get this placed cleaned up. If I can just get myself away from the computer.

I did manage to keep the tv turned off this morning. All of my war news has come from the web, which means the commentary you soak up is at least labeled as commentary. Broadcast news is sneakily dishonest when it comes to giving opinion. The conservatives say "liberal media bias," whereas the liberals point back at conservative bias. Probably some of both, but what I really see is more of a "celebrity weighted" bias. Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings, Katie Couric, Peter Arnett, Geraldo Rivera, Dan Rather, Barbara Walters, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum. These legends in their own minds think they are more important than the news, so what we get is "it's about me," shit. No it isn't. Sit down and shut up. Just shut the fuck up.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Zen Buddhist Jewish Episcopal Libertarian

Two new words in my vocabulary this year that relate to the subject at hand.
Blogosphere: my simple understanding and use of the word is the ethernet. In his book, The Lazy Man's Guide to Enlightenment, Thaddeus Golas writes "We are equal beings and the universe is our relations with each other. The universe is made of one kind of entity: each one is alive, each determines the course of his own existence." There it is. Anything else is just commentary.

Google, a verb. "To google"; the ability to search the blogosphere in nanoseconds for any and every reference to an idea, and that includes individuals who when not in their physical state are also an "idea" in the ethernet. Got a friend from high school you've been wondering about? Google him or her. Type their name on the box and ask the gods of Googling to reveal the truth to you. Sometimes you find everything you were asking for. Sometimes you find more. It's the finding more that's fun. In the future, should anyone ask the Google Gods about the phrase Zen Buddhist Jewish Episcopalian Libertarian, they're going to be pointed towards the fat guy dancing with himself in the window.

A Cruel War is Raging

Are we there yet? Are we there yet? I commented on it earlier this week, but despite the President and his administration warning us that the war could possibly be protracted and deadly, there was a second message being broadcast, ever so subliminally, that the war would be terrible and swift. Maybe I paid too much attention to the pep rallies and not enough attention to the scouting reports. Mea culpa.

Watched ABC's wrap up last night. Overall it was very negative and depressing. The only bright side I could find was Ted Koppel's wearing of a knit cap which gave him a much sportier, less comical image. I know I've harped on this several times in several comments in the blogosphere, but he looks ridiculous with his comb over. It's time to evolve, Ted. Oh, you'll always be a suck-up, but you have a choice as to whether or not you look ridiculous.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Word for the Day

Make that "words" because I have two of them: quagmire and quandary

Quagmire: 1. Land with a soft, muddy surface that yields when stepped on. 2. A difficult or precarious situation; predicament.

Quandary: A state of uncertainty or perplexity; dilemma.

Watching the war as entertainment this morning (ABC News), both words came to mind. No doubt in my mind but that Iraq is a quagmire, both literally and figuratively. Some might suggest that the first two definitions create the third.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Peeking into my Life

Picture this. You're walking along on a city street early one evening, and you pass a hedge that reaches a foot or two over your head, separating the yard and house beyond from the sidewalk. The house has a large picture window that shows a brightly lit yet sparcely furnished room completely mirrored at one end. Suddenly the room is filled by a large figured person, embarrassingly and scantily clad who is dancing with himself in front of the mirror. You are at once horrified, amused, and strangely interested as you stare transfixed at the fat dancer. Okay, I'm the almost naked fat guy in the window dancing and you're the person passing on the street. Stay as long as you want. As long as I can ignore you I can continue dancing. Yeah, I know, this is a public blog and I've left my calling card all over. Still, this is about me as I try to understand the events taking place in the world. I'm not trying to convince anyone and God knows I'm not trying to impress anyone, I'm just dancing with myself. And you're still here? Five more minutes and your friends are going to think you're wierder than the fat guy who's dancing by himself.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

War Jokes

Most of them are tired. But here's one fresh to me from my friend, Nancy DeWitt in Ketchikan.

Canada will be helping the US in the war against Iraq by sending 2 destroyers, 6000 troups, and it's Air Force, but with the rate of exchange it will amount to 2 canoes, a mountie, and 2 flying squirrels.

We are a Warlike People

"I think it all depends how the war goes. And I think the level of causalities is secondary. It may sound like an odd thing to say. But all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people. And that we love war. And one of my favorite comments on American character, which is Patton's speech at the beginning of the movie, where he says "Americans love war. We love fighting. We've always fought. We enjoy it. We're good at it. And so forth." What we hate is not casualties but losing. And if the war goes well, and if the American public has the conviction that we're being well-led, and that our people are fighting well, and that we're winning, I don't think causalities are gonna be the issue.
If the American public gets the idea that we're doing poorly, that we're badly led, that the war plan is inferior, that we're being outmaneuvered, outwitted and our guys are dying on behalf of a losing cause, then the American people will turn against it. And that's the usual rule." Michael Ledeen via Josh Marshall.

Ow. These shoes are killing my feet.

A Choice Between Fools and Mean People

I've been blogging now for about a year. I have read hundreds of points of view. I visit the blogs of all sorts of people. Sometimes I'm entertained and want to say "me too." You can always tell the folks who enjoy a good "amen" because their blogs have a Comments section. I've known from the very first time I read a personal blog that I had to do one as well. In the South, when you move to a new town, you spend a period of time trying out churches. Every Sunday you get all dressed up and go hear a preacher you may have heard about or who came recommended by someone. You try to linger after the sermon and have coffee and chat with the congregation. While you're pretty much accepted at face value for the purpose of visiting the church, good taste and Christian etiquette suggests that you should keep your testimony to a simple "amen" from time to time, and personal savior stories saved until after you've joined. I guess I can talk hillbilly Christian to you. After all, it's the language the President has been using to communicate.

Now, if you're not Southern, you have to understand, being accepted into a particular congregation is not a done deal just because you want to join. You have to be accepted, and in the Baptist churches I attended growing up, there was usually a vote. For the past year now I've been reading other people's blogs pretty much like a new convert who just moved to town. I've been searching for a home of like minded individuals. I have been drawn to more conservative blogs. I won't mention them by name, but if you're curious, do a google search on my blogname and you'll get a pretty good idea of where I've been hanging out and what I've been thinking, but that's neither here nor there. I just 'fessed up to hanging out in very conservative waters. That was before the war commenced. The war has started now and suddenly I feel like a Presbyterian on the front row of the Episcopal Church and the collection plate has just stopped in front of me. Now, I'm a polite sort of guy, but all I've got is a hundred dollar bill, and there's no fucking way in the world I'm putting in a hundred dollars into any collection plate, much less an Episcopalian one, and I don't know these people well enough to ask for change. This being "put up or shut up" time, I'm inclined to express why I can't join that particular church.

Those people are mean. When I read the rhetoric of people whose opinion I valued and whose counsel I sought, I feel actual fear. They rant with such belicosity that I fear for my own safety and for the safety of others. I don't know them well enough to know if they actually intend to cause bodily harm on someone whom they wish bodily harm upon. They don't question the decisions of their leaders. They attack anyone who does question, either decisions or motivations. They also get mad at anyone who does not feel as passionate about it all as do they. I recognize these kind of people. They've been around for a long time.

The other bunch, the Fools, scream just as loud, just as obnoxious as the Mean. They're out of power right now, so they get to indulge themselves by making signs and screaming at the government. Total fools. You want an example? San Francisco is probably the most anti-war city in the U.S. So, all these demonstrators come to San Francisco from all over the state and the West and try to bring it to a standstill. Would someone tell them, and me, how making the choir late for church is going to help your cause?

And their hatred of the President is so perverse that it doesn't matter what he says or does, they are opposed. End of discussion. Well, in Texas we say that such behavior usually ends up in the payment of what we call a "stupid tax." This level of stupidity is going to cost them 4 more years of Bush.

In my area, the overwhelming majority of people are very opposed to this war. A small group of opportunists saw a need and moved in to manipulate that need into an expression of the small group's will. The small group is the main organizers of this past several months of protests in San Francisco called A.N.S.W.E.R. It stands for radical communist (with a small "c") revolutionaries who believe the easiest way to get into power is the way Lenin did in Russia early in the last century. Get a revolution going then a small, dedicated group can control the agenda, like herding cattle. Being a giant magnet for ideologues, they also get a fair share of anarchists and other groups who see their best chance lying with a collapse of the present system.

And in San Francisco, this so-obvious-as-to-be-trite methodology is working. Oh, not the revolution part of it, just the controlling of the anti-war agenda. Can you see this group actually working to defeat Bush when he runs for re-election? Can't you see the influence they're going to have on the largest of America's voting blocks, the A.A.R.P. crowd?

Fools and Mean people. Gotta find some more choices.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Where Was I?

The war seems to have slowed down a little. Today there are sandstorms all over Iraq and Kuwait.

Had an email this morning from a friend who worried aloud about "our boys over there fighting..." For a thousand years, that phrase has been powerful in its ability to stir people. Immediately thinking about the lone woman POW who is being held by the Iraqis, I thought, it's not just boys, but girls, too. But the phrase "boys and girls over there fighting" just didn't have the same power. "Men and women" work. I read one blogger who used the term "boys and gals" but that didn't cut it either. I think it has to be men and women.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Making Peace

Not everyone is convinced that this will be a very short and efficient war of liberation, followed by a pleasant period of adjustment when we get to love each other and get to know each other, the U.S. and Iraq, I mean. I was over reading the craziness on Craigs List and came across this anonymous cynic who's keeping score.
War Aside, How do we deal with the French?
Tom Friedman is writing from Paris. I emphaticaly agree that Chirac and Villepin got intoxicated from their flash of celebrity, and they seriously overplayed their hand. The breach between our two cultures is not absolute, but it's powerful enough and will affect our interactions with the French in the next few years. This is not intended as French bashing, but an observation about what I perceive to be the nature of American and French cultural interchange. Let's compare a few things we have in common with the French. Wine. It's a multi-billion dollar industry in both countries. California wines are consistently equal to in quality and better in value than French wines. You can buy any French wine available for sale in California and most of the U.S. You can't, however, as freely buy California wines in France. Sometimes the rarity of American and other foreign wines is caused by a very hostile government policy towards imports. France is very protective of French industry. However, just as often, no market is created because the French just know that no one is able to do what the French do better than the French. So why bother? And they say this with such annoyance that you just want to slap them.

Okay, take cheese. We can do anything they can do, and we can do it better. They have, however, come up with some pretty fancy names for them. Although they dispute the idea that there can be a common name for something in the minds of others. We know better. We drink champagne, eat roquefort dressing, xerox copies, and drink coke. The French guard their words with a passion that misses the point. In America, "roquefort" means the creamy, mayonaisey yuck that has blue cheese chunks in it. To the French it means a rich, double-creme with ripened veins of mold running through it. They have actually used our laws against us in an attempt to get Americans to stop using it incorrectly. Just ask watch the way any 19 year old waiter reacts when you ask him if he has any roquefort dressing. "No, but we got blue cheese," he will correctly responds. And look at how they say "blue" in blue cheese: bleu like its something awful you have to get off your tongue. Bleu! Bleu! Bleu! They may very well win the battle--we won't call it roquefort dressing--but lose the war: hey look the blue cheese from Sonoma County is California won all these blind tasting tests and costs half as much as that French shit. That kind of win the battle, lose the war.

So what do we know about the French from all of this? That they're arrogant because they do a couple of things real well, forgetting to remember the things they have messed up (I'll just say Peugeot and let it go, okay?). And worse yet. They're calling us Arrogant. I don't think so. Even if it were true, who the fuck are they to be calling us arrogant? They gave the word any possible meaning it has in our language, and those high heels of yours just don't fit us, Cinderella Villepin. Arrogant? Unilateral? In the now famous words of one of America's finest cultural icons, M. Villepin? M. Chirac? "Eat my shorts!" (-Bart Simpson)
Phase Two: The Enemy Fights Back
We've listened for weeks now to The War's proponents telling us how this war would be fought and blithely reminding us that all war is hell and this one would be no different, somehow we got a subliminal reassurance that it would be a cakewalk. We had "Sturm und Drang," no, that's something else. Same school of writing, different somehow. Oh, yeah, we have "Shock and Awe." Yeah, that's it. Meanwhile, Baghdad has been duck, stay covered, pop up behind them and wreck havoc. Marines may be hell to face, so wait for the supply guys. It's pretty low tech but devastating on the news. Now, I have a tremendous level of faith in our military forces. I have no faith in the willingness of the American public to stay with this war if it goes more than a month. A month, hell! If it goes two weeks there'll be a significant turnaround in American public opinion. Will the President then stay his course? This ain't President Clinton. However, remember, America invented Clinton. He didn't teach us fickleness, he learned it from us.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

If you've happened upon a link to this site while out cruising through the blogosphere, let me say welcome. I've been planning to do a blog for about 3 or 4 months now. I've been practicing for a month, but for one reason or another, I kept putting it off. Then the damn war started and I wanted to bear witness to history, and the blog is perfect for that of course. Hopefully, over the next several weeks I'll become more technically proficient and set this here baby up with a more professional look and feel. It's not that I think I'll suddenly get smart and figure everything out, it's just that I have friends who will help, if for no other reason than they don't want me to look like a dipshit.

While I'm very political by nature and totally hooked on current events and news, my primary interests are elsewhere. In time I want to talk about my family, Texas history, Louisiana history, my ancestral families, racism, the history of racism, South Carolina history, the American Revolution, genealogy. Did I mention cooking? I like to talk about food and its preparation. Hope you'll stop by again from time to time. Hopefully, there'll always be something going on.

Some of my basics: I'm a 55 year old, "confirmed batchelor" who lives alone with a cat named Beauregard in Oakland, California. I have lots of friends, an even larger family, a cush job from which I hope to retire in about 5 years, an opinion about just about everything, sometimes it's a studied opinion, sometimes it's off the cuff. I was born and raised in East Texas, but have lived in California off and on since 1963. I have lots of education, none of it particularly focused. I read a lot. I love to have books recommended to me. I love to recommend books. Until I get a Comments section started -- if I get a Comments section started -- if you want to communicate with me you'll have to use email. I'm not sure I want or need a Comments section. Remember Terry Cole Whitaker? She wrote a book entitled "What You Think of Me is None of My Business." I didn't read the book, but the title provided one of those little flashes of light where you totally get it for a moment. If you do ever have a comment about something I say, maybe you should go start your own blog and then invite me over to read about it. That's sort of what I'm doing here.

Friday, March 21, 2003

There's a lot of us who are happy to see the war to liberate Iraq going as well as it seems to be going that don't particularly want to give the victory to Pres. Bush. Why are we so uptight about this? Maybe because he's shown a total willingness to give juicy bones to his Rightwing supporters. There are a lot of us "confirmed batchelors" out there that see the potential of suffering from nosey, religiously motivated neighbors, who suddenly demand to know why we're still batchelors and who is that other guy, your "roommate"? We're attracted to the libertarian side of the Republican Party, but we have no delusions about which group of passionate truebelievers are in control of the Republican Party. Our experience is that it's the Christian Right, personified by John Ashcroft, has Pres. Bush's ear, and therefore the power of setting the agenda.
Today was anti-climatic in regards to my encounter with demonstrators. They were focused more on the financial district, so my district, the Civic Center, was spared drama. Since none of my work got done on Thursday, it was just as well that I could give work a few hours on Friday. It being Friday, I stopped by the Edge, an over-50, blue collar bar in the Castro. Most of the people I generally interact with were, in their conversation and attention span, oblivious of the war with Iraq. They were a little more focused on the demonstrators with generally a hostile attitude, but of those expressing an opinion, it was overwhelmingly pro-war, anti-Saddam, and anti-demonstrators. Bush was not generally an issue. These people do not consider George W. Bush to be a friend of their community, but neither do they think it makes the war bad or immoral.

Oh well. I'm very uncomfortable reading my regular favorites of the blog. Their hysterical level seems threatening to me. In the past couple of months, I found comfort in my level of agreement with so many of their points of view. I heard passionate defenses of sexual privacy and freedom from all sorts of personalities, some Christian identified, some atheist identified. But their celebration of the war's apparent success has taken a strident, anti-Democrat tone. I'm not a Democrat, but I still felt threatened by the degree of vitrol. Maybe I'm wrong. Hope so. Really do.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I have such an incredible lack of sympathy for anyone who is actually caught in traffic in San Francisco because of the anti-War protesters. All I can wonder is WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING? Anyone with the slightest awareness of the world around them knew perfectly fucking well what was in store in San Francisco today. No sympathy here. That doesn't mean I won't vote for justifiable homicide in case some asshole got killed for blocking a mother with a kid in the car just because she's driving a big SUV. These protesters have declared war on capitalism, America, Israel, and there were other listed by the speaker in the S.F. Civic Center this afternoon, but I was walking too fast to hear the entire group listed and damned. But back to my previous point. How stupid was it to drive in San Francisco today? We can't say we weren't warned.
Pete Wilson, a television newscaster, had the most astute comment about San Francisco this evening. Earlier Mayor Brown whined that wasn't it ironic that San Francisco, one of the most anti-war cities in the world, was suffering disproportionately from the actions of the protesters. What Pete said was something like how typical of San Francisco to make the issue to be about San Francisco. Never mind the war going on over there, it's really about us, here. Mayor Brown was correct. How ironic. I do want to congratulate and express my gratitude for the troops over here that are under intense fire. I mean, of course, the San Francisco Police Department, under the direction -- and leadership -- of Acting Chief Fagan. He's a good, solid man, not a saint, God knows, but a good cop in the Irish tradition. We're well served by his knowledge of the situation. This is not his first determined demonstration.
How do you spell "perfidy"? My people spell it F-R-A-N-C-E. From Billy Beck over at The Command Post.

I just had an unpleasant encounter with one of the idiot demonstrators in the San Francisco Civic Center. My friend and I were checking out the grand opening of the Asian Art Museum when this guy brushed past me and I noticed he was wearing an Israeli flag with a swastika marked over the star of David. I was so incensed that I shot him that ol' one finger salute to within about half an inch of his nose. My friend dragged me off as I was yelling "fuck you, you low life asshole idiot. Fuck Palestinians, too! They kill Jews! I hate them and I hate you!" Sorry, but it is personal.
Funniest line today (so far): Terry Oglesby over at Possumblog, in response to Saddam Hussein's exhortation to his people to "draw their swords." To quote Terry, "never bring a knife to a gunfight."
I have not believed in invoking God's name in war and battles ever since I read Mark Twain's The War Prayer back in the early 70's. Nonetheless, when I contemplate those young men and women who are facing danger, my heart swells with pride and I feel great angst for their safety and well being. Is that a prayer? If I wish them safety and well being, am I wishing the Iraqis death and destruction? I don't think so. I think death and destruction has already been visited upon them with Saddam Hussein. For our soldiers and sailors, please know how proud we are of you. Be bold of heart and of firm resolve. The prayers of the nation are with you.
There's a lot of buzz about whether or not Saddam Hussein was taken out Wednesday night. Sean-Paul pulls a great theory from Hesiod about how maybe the link to Saddam Hussein's whereabouts was established by the false report of Tariq Aziz's abandonment of the Iraqi lost cause which forced him to go on television to announce his loyalty to Saddam which allowed us to zero in on the transmission. I think it just as likely that the claims about Saddam's death may also be an attempt to get him to go on television and deny it which again allows us to zero in on where he is. It should be so easy.
Meryl Yourish is pointing to a warblog central where one can find the latest war buzz.
The Command Post. She credits Michele. I have little to offer in that corner. But, under the category of all politics is local, demonstrators are doing their best in San Francisco (where I work) to shut down the city, or at least to disrupt it so that everyone realizes there can be no "business as usual." I consider the demonstrations to be about the same as masturbation. If it gets you off, go ahead, but please, not in my face. Keeping me from my office, preventing me from driving about the city, making it difficult to get into the Federal Building for lunch does not increase my sympathy for their position.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

If you want to have some fun, go to Craigs List in the S.F.Bay Area and watch the anti-war Leftists going bezerk.
March 19, 2003

Everyone seems real tense. This war thing is getting on everybody's nerves.