Boo! Or is it Boo Hoo?

The Redskins lost today. Despite a valient effort, we were thwarted at every critical moment. Missed tackles, blown coverages, bad officiating and stupid turnovers cost us when we could least afford it. Even though we played well enough to win, fate interceded on behalf of the country.

I always knew that the Redskins are the greatest franchise in football, capable of life-altering brilliance. Little did I know that the team is psychic. Consider:

If history holds, the 28-14 result portends a victory for Kerry on Tuesday because the result of the Redskins’ final home game before the presidential election has always accurately predicted the White House winner. If the Redskins win, the incumbent party wins. If they lose, the incumbent party is ousted.

The streak began in 1933, when the Boston Braves were renamed the Redskins. Since then, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election in 1936, the trend has held, including a 2000 Redskins loss to the Tennessee Titans that predicted George W. Bush’s win over Al Gore.

I hate to see the Redskins lose, but I have to make my sacrifice for my country in its time a great need. And more importantly, thank you, Mark Brunell, for taking your quarterback suckiness to astonishing new heights. The country owes you a debt of gratitude.

P.S. Sorry, Will, the only way Nader could’ve won was if the game had ended in a tie. Alas, no such luck.

Better never than late

Remember the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, the one that President Bush said was essential to preserving American society? There’s a new development, courtesy of President Bush. Before I address that, in order to remind everyone of the FMA that President Bush supports, reconsider the language of the proposed amendment:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.

Put that into the context of President Bush’s comments during an interview with Charles Gibson. Consider:

“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between, a union between a man and a woman,” Bush said. “Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass … laws that enable people to you know, be able to have rights, like others.”

This is ridiculous. Denying marriage and “the legal incidents thereof” to same-sex couples within the Federal Marriage Amendment excludes the possibility of civil unions, yet President Bush says he supports allowing states to create civil unions. While I believe him when he says this (honestly, I don’t hate Bush or think he’s evil; I just think he’s incompetent), his support is an empty token. His statement demonstrates how he views the world in black and white. President Bush supports the FMA even though it blatantly conflicts with his support of a state’s right to recognize civil unions. The language doesn’t matter as long as it accomplishes the bigger goal. That is legislating in broad strokes rather than fine lines.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. After I formulated my thoughts on the President’s statement, I read Andrew Sullivan’s opinion. Consider:

For what it’s worth, I tend to think this is his real position, rather than a belated realization that his extremism on this matter has cost him many votes. But if it is his real position, why didn’t he say so before? And how can he support the FMA which specifically bars the “incidents of marriage” for gay couples? President speak in forked tongue. More to the point, he must surely be opposed to the state amendments in eight states that ban marriage for gays and also anything that even vaguely looks like a marriage. Those states are Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. If you agree with this president, you have to vote against these state constitutional amendments. They bar civil unions as well.

To his credit, the President (through his Press Secretary) did make this statement; everyone missed it. Consider this:

Q: When the President says that the states should be free to pick legal arrangements other than marriage, does that include civil unions, specifically?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, states can make their own decisions with regard to legal arrangements. That would include hospital visitation rights, it would include insurance benefits, it would include civil unions — we talked about this earlier. The President has made it very clear that he would not have supported it for the state of Texas.

Q: Civil union?


Ultimately, President Bush’s argument still comes down to this, his fundamental (fundamentally stupid) argument about same-sex unions:

“Look. If you’re interested in preserving marriage as a union between a man and a woman, there is one way to do so, without the courts making the decision. That’s through the constitutional process and obviously I think that’s the way to go, because I am concerned that courts are making this decision. This is too important a decision to have a handful of judges making, on behalf of the American people,” Bush said.

Nine judges made a decision for 300,000,000 Americans in the 2000 Presidential election. You didn’t seem too upset then, Mr. President. How is this different?

Two thumbs up for conflicting opinions

With one week until the election, this is where my thought process still is…

I’ve never seen Waking Life, but I might have to see it now after reading this quote from Roger Ebert:

I have seen “Waking Life” three times now. I want to see it again–not to master it, or even to remember it better (I would not want to read the screenplay), but simply to experience all of these ideas, all of this passion, the very act of trying to figure things out.

That’s enticing to me, since it’s essentially the same aspect of Before Sunset that I loved. But really, Mr. Ebert ends his review with the inherent philosophical curiousity that justifies his opinion, but also relates to the larger issues of life that movies can inspire:

It must be depressing to believe that you have been supplied with all the answers, that you must believe them and to question them is disloyal, or a sin. Were we given minds in order to fear their questions?

Mr. Ebert wrote that line three years ago, but it’s still relevant. It clarifies the differences in our current political climate. I know on which side of that question I fall. Does that mean I’m unpatriotic?

Agree with us and the debate is unbiased

Browsing Andrew Sullivan’s blog this morning, I decided to finally click one of his ads to see what it was. The specific ad I chose was for As you can see, the ad features John Kerry in a goofy pose with the tag line “He’s tall. He’s scary. He flip flops. Yeah, he’s an idiot.”, so I assumed it that the website sponsor would be some ridiculous, partisan hack who had an agenda othe than debating issues on merit. Every time I assume, I remember why it’s not a great idea. The truth here was worse than that. turned out to be a ruse to ultimately redirect and attract new subscribers to

Is this a partisan ad?Last month, I rejoined after an extended absence. I like the underlying concept and was ready to download new audiobooks to add to my collection. One of the most interesting aspects is the ability to download convention speeches and presidential debates, along with other miscellaneous speeches leading up to the election. This is a brilliant idea. It’s too bad Audible’s marketing department ruined all brilliance with this pathetic, partisan ad.

I’m going to contact them to get an explanation, to determine if they created any “George W. Bush is an idiot” ads. If they did, I’ll express my anger at the stupidity of targeting ads to audiences allegedly predisposed to the partisan sentiment expressed when the underlying product is meant to give the full political spectrum of information. If the Kerry ad is the only version, I’ll express my anger and cancel my subscription.

I’m already rethinking my plan. I’ll still contact Audible to express my anger, but I will cancel my subscription regardless of the answer. This is unacceptable. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way if the only ad was the “George W. Bush is an idiot” version, but I only have the information at hand, which mocks the candidate I support. I hope I’d feel the same way if the reverse had been true. I suspect I’d disagree with the marketing plan but wouldn’t be as upset about the sentiment since it matches my own. That doesn’t make it smart.

Businesses have the right to support any candidate they wish, but with that, the executives run the risk of alienating customers based on personal preference. Unless the business is privately held, the executives need to be certain that the shareholders are willing to take this risk. I’d love it if would make the audio of the marketing meeting where this plan was hatched. That would be a brilliant tool for every college marketing class.

This ad is a perfect example of why it’s better for people who run businesses to use their own money to push their agenda. If they show me, the customer, that they’ll use my money to support something I abhor, I’ll take my money elsewhere. Welcome to the real world, Audible.

Martians are blinded by the bright light

President Bush shined tonight, but only from the flames of the giant fireball surrounding him every time the camera focused on him. Perhaps the armies of compassion could save him, but I doubt it. Senator Kerry finally started punching back when President Bush made ridiculous statements. Since this was on domestic agenda, Kerry proved that there was a fiscal liberal standing on the stage and he wasn’t it. I don’t agree with everything Kerry proposes, but I think he’s easily the better choice for the next four years. I’ll happily push the button for Kerry on November 2nd.

Your thoughts?

Beam me up, Howie.

Stern.jpgI’ve mentioned once or twice that I don’t like our government’s irrational and (unconstitutional) assault on free speech. I’m not going to debate that now because there’s no new information on that front, but I have to re-examine my beliefs. I was wrong about the entire debate. The last nine months have been wonderful and useful and beneficial, so I have a few thank you’s to offer.

First, to the people who complained to the FCC about Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime debacle, I say thank you. You got the ball rolling while people like me were too busy watching another channel to even know that a breast had been flashed. Nice work!

Second, to the tight-panted bureaucrats at the FCC, I say thank you. You ran like lunatics once the fine, offended citizens of the United States gave you the ball. You threatened censorship. Righteous!

Third, to President George W. Bush, I haven’t said this before to you, but I thank you for your outstanding service to the nation. Without your overbearing hand pressing down further on the censorship machine, we might have artists criminals slinging curse words and flashing naked genitals on the radio and the TV. Kick ass hiney!

Why am I making such a bizarre turn-around on my previous opinions? The witch hunt was worth it. All of the sternly-worded, paternalistic slaps on the wrist for our moral depravity will pay off in a better society. If my beliefs had been embraced, we’d be at a status-quo, but they weren’t, so we’re not. Inspired by this re-interpretation of freedom, Howard Stern is moving to Sirius satellite radio in January 2006.

Before anyone gets the wrong impression about me and thinks that I’m excited because that means we’ll hear coarse language and sexual innuendo, that’s not why I’m excited. Ok, it makes me do a little dance of joy, but that’s not the point. I’m excited because our censorship-obsessed political climate is going to make me a lot of money. I bought many, many shares of Sirius in early 2003 and stuck them in the back of my investment vault. That decision is paying off today. Without the FCC witch hunt of the last nine months, Howard Stern’s move to Sirius would’ve been improbable at best.

I’ll do my part for the economy when I buy a beach house with my profits. (Insert super-cool slick thumbs up gesture and sparkle from winking eye directed at Michael Powell…)

The future belongs to freedom, not to fear.

In an effort to conduct an unscientific poll, I’m curious to know what everyone thought of the debate. (You did watch, didn’t you?) I think Kerry won, though only with a slight edge. He was more forceful and consistent with his ideas than he has been in the past. He responded to some of the criticisms lobbed against him by the Bush campaign over the last few weeks/months. He looked more “presidential” than he ever has in the past.

Counter that with Bush’s refusal to articulate much further than “I’m right” and his often strange body language and brain locks. As the night wore on, Bush seemed to devolve into “You’re with me or you’re against me”, which he clearly intended to imply his usual argument of patriot vs. non-patriot. Unlike all of the nonsensical arguments thrown at Kerry, that is the only concept I heard last night that wasn’t “presidential”.

From Andrew Sullivan, consider this:

Still, there were major weaknesses. If you believe, as I do, that the Iraq war is beginning to spiral downward, Bush was not reassuring. He seemed as out of it as ever. When Kerry rightly pointed out the failure of Bush to revamp the CIA or to secure Soviet nuclear material, Bush simply and sadly responded that every morning some guy comes in and briefs him on national security. Now I feel better. And you don’t want to be the president who is forced to say, “Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us.” Moreover, his fundamental critique of Kerry – that by criticizing the war, he had made himself unworthy to be commander-in-chief – was dumb and border-line offensive. It implies that if you’ve ever criticized the president’s war conduct, you cannot succeed him in office. Huh? By that logic, the only credible alternative to Bush is someone who has agreed with him every inch of the way. Memo to Bush: we live in a democracy.

With that said, Kerry blew multiple chances to cripple Bush’s argument that change would be bad. Kerry made it clear that he believes Bush made mistakes in planning for the war but not the peace. Valid, but not enough. He should’ve pointed out examples of Bush’s mishandling of the situation in Iraq and Bush’s unwillingness to adjust during the war. Every time Kerry let Bush re-iterate that change sends a bad message to our troops and our allies, that ludicrous belief gained credibility. He needed the instinct of a boxer with his opponent on the ropes. The champions don’t wait for the decision from the judges; he knocks his opponent out. Consider this, again from Andrew Sullivan:

Kerry was effective, however, in detailing the relatively small contribution of most of the allies. But why oh why did he not mention the obvious parallel of the vast coalition Bush’s father put together for the first Gulf War? If I were a debate judge – and I’ve had my fair share of debate experience – I would have flunked Kerry on the spot.

To his credit, Bush showed class, ignoring the opportunity to attack Kerry personally when asked to do just that. He generally performed in the manner we expect. He has appeal as more of the “every man” than Kerry. Anyone who doubts that this appeal can carry a candidate needs to review the political life of Bill Clinton.

So I think Kerry won, but not by much. What do you think?

That’s enough singing for now, lads… looks like there’s dirty work afoot.

Just when I hoped our elected leaders Representatives could focus on something important, I found this article in The Washington Times. Since many Republicans in Congress seem to forget that we’re in an international war with guns and bullets and bombs, we’re also in a culture war with words and breasts and weddings. Trying to perpetuate the Federal Marriage Amendment, the House of Representatives is voting on the FMA today.

The Republican leadership wants us to ignore this logic:

“This amendment has zero chance of passage,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. “Even if it did, it wouldn’t pass in the Senate. It is another waste of time while the budget is not attended to … the highway bill is not attended to, the energy bill is not attended to.”

And focus on this instead:

“For too long, Congress has stood idly by … and the time has come for Congress to reassert itself,” Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that this step is being forced on us by the courts, but that is exactly what is happening. … The only way to protect marriage is with a constitutional amendment.”

“The time has come for Congress to reassert itself.” I know Rep. DeLay uses that as an indication that Congress needs to wrestle the Constitution (and the culture) from the Judiciary, but I also read the “daddy complex” that possesses the Bush Administration and the overall Republican leadership. The next new hit sitcom, probably airing on Fox News Infotainment, will be Congress Knows Best.

Of course, I don’t mean to paint everyone who supports the Republican Party as an evil person who hates anyone who falls into the “Not Like Me” category of “Those People”. There are rational conservatives who understand that conservative beliefs don’t require being a minion for the party line. Consider:

Rep. Christopher Shays, a Connecticut Republican facing a re-election challenge, plans to vote against the measure. He feels it unnecessary to amend the Constitution to protect marriage but says his district is closely divided on the issue.

“I don’t win votes either way on this issue,” he said. “I just find it hard to understand why we are doing this so late [in the year]. It seems so political to me, and so divisive.”

Also, consider this argument by California Republican Rep. Christopher Cox (it’s from an opinion piece from The Wall Street Journal):

“For Republicans, who believe in federalism, the [amendment] is an uncomfortable fit,” he wrote. “Republicans have not shied from even the unpopular exercise of federal power over the states when it has been warranted. … But when it is not warranted, neither should we succumb to the temptation to federalize what the states have handled well for centuries.”

That’s the most spot on argument against the FMA and what Congress is attempting right now. Believe whatever you want about same-sex marriage, but understand that a constitutional amendment is not the conservative response. Not only does the FMA seek to ingratiate discrimination into our most important document, it seeks to further extend the federal government’s power over Americans. We need to move on as a nation. There are legitimate issues facing us and this isn’t one of them.

My final thought on this (for now):

“This week the House will begin the process to protect marriage in America,” Mr. DeLay said. “The American people … need to know where their representatives stand.”

On your last point, Rep. DeLay, we’ve never been more in agreement. It’s a shame you won’t appreciate that I will cast my vote against my Representative if when he votes for the FMA.

I’m stuck in the sand; give me the wedge.

From The New York Times:

The Republican Party acknowledged yesterday sending mass mailings to residents of two states warning that “liberals” seek to ban the Bible. It said the mailings were part of its effort to mobilize religious voters for President Bush.

The mailings include images of the Bible labeled “banned” and of a gay marriage proposal labeled “allowed.” A mailing to Arkansas residents warns: “This will be Arkansas if you don’t vote.” A similar mailing was sent to West Virginians.

Here’s the Republican National Party’s explanation:

In an e-mail message, Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, confirmed that the party had sent the mailings.

“When the Massachusetts Supreme Court sanctioned same-sex marriage and people in other states realized they could be compelled to recognize those laws, same-sex marriage became an issue,” Ms. Iverson said. “These same activist judges also want to remove the words ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance.”

I definitely read the “We made a judgment error, we shouldn’t have sent that” in her statement. But, really, we all need to run for the hills and thank God that the Republicans are looking out for us. Consider Ake Green:

Conservative Christian political commentators often cite the case of Ake Green, a minister in Sweden who was jailed in June for a month for a sermon denouncing gays as sinful.

Not possible here? Think again. We have experts in America who can offer definitive proof that we’re in grave danger:

But Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, argued, “We have the First Amendment in this country which should protect churches, but there is no question that this is where some people want to go, that reading from the Bible could be hate speech.”

Some people want polygamy to be acceptable in America but we’re not about to embrace that. The First Amendment he speaks so proudly of also holds the same rights for people who don’t go to church and who don’t believe that gay people are bad. Just a thought.

As for Mr. Land, he does offer this:

Still, Mr. Land questioned the assertion that Democrats might ban the whole Bible. “I wouldn’t say it,” he said. “I would think that is probably stretching it a bit far.”


In this mailing, the Republican National Committee sends the “Compassionate Conservative” family value message that it’s ok to lie as long as it’s about “them liberals and queers and commies and faggots and activist judges”. And fear? Yep, that’s a good family value, too. We have to protect ourselves from them.

What outcry would we hear if Democrats mailed something like this? But President Bush didn’t send this, so he’s clean, right? Plausible deniability. Wait, let it have its effect, then denounce it by saying you had nothing to do with it and didn’t know about it and find it diabolical. Sorta like the anti-Kerry Swift Boat commercials, no? Pitiful.

I bet CIA was the information source indicating that liberals want to ban the Bible. No wonder the Republicans were so determined to believe it and act on it.

Be a donkey, not a jackass

Dear Senator Kerry:

Stop being a terrible candidate.

I know you want to defeat President Bush in November. I understand that you have a “base” to pander to in your speeches. I realize that it’s hard to sound different from President Bush on foreign policy issues. For the months leading up to the Democratic National Convention, you pretended as though you weren’t running for president. That makes some sense because the facts are out there and seem indefensible to me, but you should’ve spoken out sooner. Unfortunately, I now know why you haven’t spoken out earlier. You’re a bad candidate who doesn’t understand the concept of espousing one message and pounding it into the electorate.

Allow me to highlight your latest blunder, as reported in this story:

“George W. Bush’s wrong choices have led America in the wrong direction on Iraq and left America without the resources we need here at home,” the presidential candidate said. “The cost of the president’s go-it-alone policy in Iraq is now $200 billion and counting.”

Kerry said the “hard reality” is that Bush’s choices have led to “spreading violence, growing extremism, havens for terrorists that weren’t there before.”

“I call this course a catastrophic choice that has cost us $200 billion because we went it alone, and we’ve paid an even more unbearable price in young American lives.”

President Bush is a bad diplomat, a bad strategist, and a bad leader. Got it. Hammer that point over and over again. It’s that simple. But you can’t stop there. A little taste of “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty” theatrics and you’re ready to perform at will. Don’t do that because you keep putting your foot in your mouth. As evidence, I offer this:

“$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford after-school programs for our children; $200 billion in Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford health care for our veterans; $200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford to keep the 100,000 police officers we put on the street,” Kerry said.

“He doesn’t believe that America can be strong in the world while we also make progress here at home. He believes we have to choose one or the other. That’s a false choice, and I reject it.”

That’s simple-minded. There is a large, complex, grey area in most issues of this significance. Just because President Bush pretends that the world operates like a black-and-white, wholesome 1950’s sitcom and, even then, usually only sees one of those two colors, you are free to analyze a little deeper. From your statement, you seem to imply that we can choose both with equal commitment. That’s old ideological Democratic nonsense. Lyndon Johnson tried it in the 1960’s and it failed miserably. You’ve referred to Iraq as a Vietnam-style quagmire, but do you really think you’ll be better able to manage a war and an expansive domestic agenda? President Johnson couldn’t do it. President Bush hasn’t been able to do it. How are you better?

The correct answer is “you’re not”. Fixing and finishing (finishing, not ending) President Bush’s foreign policy agenda is critical in the coming years. You deftly hit upon some of President Bush’s mistakes, but pretending like we can just walk away from those mistakes in the next four years is ludicrous. Neither you nor President Bush is approaching our foreign policy correctly. We are where we are. We need to understand that the war on terror isn’t going away. We need a coherent strategy for restoring order in Iraq. We need to demonstrate that the United States is willing to respect our diplomatic relationships and commitments. (I do not mean to imply that we mustn’t act alone if the situation calls for it, but we must eliminate our bully-mentality diplomacy.) We need to accept our mistakes, not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign that our leaders our human. We can’t adjust until we accept that there may be a better way.

America is a great nation. Whether you defeat President Bush or not will not change that. But to fix and improve what needs fixing and improving, you have to begin at the beginning. Make us certain that you know where the beginning is and that you grasp the magnitude of the task ahead. President Reagan used that strategy in 1980 and President Clinton used it in 1992. That focus inspires confidence in your potential. That confidence can make you a great candidate. With that, you might get to be president.

If that’s too much for you, at least stop being a bad candidate.

Thank you,