Thursday, September 14, 2006

Not Really

Saying that he hadn’t eaten in 20 minutes, a man who Milwaukee police identified as F. James Sensenbrenner was arrested and later released for taking five pizzas from a pizza delivery man.

According to the police report, the pizza man pulled up to a house in the 2400 block of Fiebrantz Avenue. He said this large man called him over as he got out of his delivery car, a Toyota, and then demanded he hand over the pizzas. When the pizza man demured, police say, Sensenbrenner pulled a toy gun from his suit pocket and waved it under the delivery person's nose. The man gave the pizzas to Sensenbrenner, who turned and tried to run off.

The pizza delivery man immediately contacted police. Even though it took the police approximately 20 minutes to get to the scene, Sensenbrenner was still in sight approximately 20 yards away, struggling to lumber down the sidewalk.

When police apprehended him, they found no pizzas. They had apparently been devoured, along with the containers.

A National Rifle Association lawyer arrived later and arranged for Sensenbrenner's release. There was insufficient evidence to hold him.

Asked for a comment, Sensenbrenner could only say, “Urp.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Auf Weidersehen Herr und Frau Bucher

What a pathetic performance from Paul Bucher. I saw his concession speech and came away with the feeling that he doesn't get it. The voters said no to his vile message of division. The author of the despicable "Catch and Release Kate" website had the audacity to say shame to those he stated had said mean things. He should look at himself and his wife, Jessica McBride. The two took shameless and mean-spirited self promotion to new heights.

Thankfully, the voters get it. It wasn't his opponent's money that did Bucher in, it was his poorly run campaign and it was the man ... a little man ... that did the trick.

Good riddance.


Imagine if George W. Bush had actually led this country, instead of dividing it. Imagine if George W. Bush had been all the things he claimed he was ... what a wonderful world it could have been.

Click here for an alternate post 9-11 vision by Jonathon Alter. It boggles the mind, the missed opportunities that we as a nation might have embraced if only George had shown some real leadership. He could have been our greatest president.

Of course, none of this happened and this is just fiction ... still ... .

No More Health Care for Card-Carrying Republicans

A Plan To Save The Country, By Garrison Keillor

It's the best part of summer, the long, lovely passage into fall. Aprocession of lazy, golden days that my sandy-haired, gap-toothed little girl has been painting, small abstract masterpieces in tempera and crayonand glitter, reminiscent of Franz Kline or Willem de Kooning (his earlyglitter period). She put a sign out front, "Art for Sale," and charged 25 cents per painting. Cheap at the price.

A teacher gave her this freedom to sit un-self-consciously and put paint onpaper. A gentle, 6-foot-8 guy named Matt who taught art at her preschool.Her swimming teachers gave her freedom from fear of water. So much that has made this summer a pleasure for her I trace to specific teachers, and soit's painful to hear about public education sinking all around us.

A high school math class of 42! Everybody knows you can't teach math to 42 kids at once. The classroom smells bad because the custodial staff has beencut back. The teacher must whip his pupils into shape to pass the federalNo Child Left Untested program. This is insanity, the legacy of Republicans and their tax-cutting and their hostility to secular institutions.

Last spring, I taught a college writing course and had the privilege ofhanging out with people in their early 20s, an inspirational experience in return for which I tried to harass them about spelling and grammar andstructure. My interest in being 21 again is less than my interest in havinga frontal lobotomy, but the wit and passion and good-heartedness of these kids, which they try to conceal under their exquisite cool, are the hope ofthis country. You have to advocate for young people, or else what are we here for?

I keep running into retirees in their mid-50s, free to collect seashells and write bad poetry and shoot video of the Grand Canyon, and goody forthem, but they're not the future. My college kids are graduating with a20-pound ball of debt chained to their ankles. That's not right, and you know it.

This country is squashing its young. We're sending them to die in a war wed on't believe in anymore. We're cheating them so we can offer tax reliefto the rich. And we're stealing from them so that old gaffers like me, who want to live forever, can go in for an MRI if we have a headache.

A society that pays for MRIs for headaches and can't pay teachers a decent wage has made a dreadful choice. But health care costs are ballooning, eating away at the economy. The boomers are getting to an age where theirknees need replacing and their hearts need a quadruple bypass -- which theyfeel entitled to -- but our children aren't entitled to a damn thing. Any goombah with a Ph.D. in education can strip away French and German, music and art, dumb down the social sciences, offer Britney Spears instead ofShakespeare, and there is nothing the kid can do except hang out in the library, which is being cut back too.

This week, we mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Current Occupant's line, "You're doing a heckuva job," which already is in common usage, a joke, a euphemism for utter ineptitude. It's sure to wind up in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, a summation of his occupancy.

Annual interest on the national debt now exceeds all government welfareprograms combined. We'll be in Iraq for years to come. Hard choices need to be made, and given the situation we're in, I think we must bite the bulletand say no more health care for card-carrying Republicans. It just doesn'tmake sense to invest in longevity for people who don't believe in the future. Let them try faith-based medicine, let them pray for their arteriesto be reamed and their hips to be restored, and leave science to the rest of us.

Cutting out health care to one-third of the population -- the folks with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers, who still believe the man is doing a heckuvajob -- will save enough money to pay off the national debt, not a badlegacy for Republicans. As Scrooge said, let them die and reduce the surplus population. In return, we can offer them a reduction in the estatetax. All in favor, blow your nose.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Grass for the Sheep

(click to enlarge)

-- Working for Change

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Couple of Links to Good Reading

Two amazing posts by Xoff and folkbum (who does ramble and rant, but he can be forgiven considering the topic) about the deceit of Patrick McIlheran. Shame on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for continuing to provide space for this bald-faced liar.

Meanwhile, kudos to Rick Esenberg for a well written piece about 9-11 and five years later. One thing: Rick does go on about radical Islam and its rage somewhat. This is somewhat simplistic. I believe and history supports: Western civilization must take a huge portion of the blame for Islamic rage. Our deceit was instrumental in arousing Arab anger to a fever pitch.

And let us please not call all of the peoples of the Middle East radical Islamics. Just as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and the rest of their ilk do not represent true Christianity in America, nor does al-Qaeda and the other radical groups represent true Islam.

The Arrogance of the Right

The arrogance of some conservatives is breath-taking. Regarding the detention of innocent people (Arabs in this case), one conservative blogger recently said it’s a risk he’s willing to take. Some risk, sitting in his nice, warm home while some poor shlup languishes in a detention camp, thousands of miles away from home. He is willing to take this risk, he adds, because:

"... we are not killing any of these folks. We’re just making them uncomfortable for a while. I have some faith in the human decency of the American character that if we do sweep up an innocent, that they will be released as soon as we are comfortable that they are innocent."

Ah, the human decency of the American character. So, according to this blogger it’s perfectly legitimate for our armed forces to go merrily marching here and there sweeping up innocents as long as we let them go eventually, after, of course, ascertaining they truly are innocent. How does our blogger propose innocence is determined? He doesn't say. Perhaps a little torture of the innocent to make sure … you know … the innocence of the innocent.

How far does this slippery-slope risk-taking go ... American minorities, liberals ... them?

I heard this from another conservative some years ago while debating the death penalty:

“I’m sure there have been a few (my emphasis added) people executed who should not have been … who were actually innocent of the crime they were accused of committing. But I’m okay with that as long as the most serious, dangerous offenders are put away.”

My god, I thought. What an incredible display of the shallowness and emptiness of conservative thought. To actually think it's perfectly acceptable for a few innocent people to lose their lives so others benefit, to provide satisfaction for conservative blood lust.

This sort of thought is prevalent in the conservative movement today. Mark Green provides a fine example with his disinterest of the rights of women. He cares not a whit about a woman raped, because the result of that violent ripping away of a woman's rights may become a child. It is not that child's fault, he says. Like our conservative blogger, Green is ready to take that risk, though he is safe from actually having to suffer the consequences.

This base neglect of the most basic of human rights … life … is also evident these days in the spoken views of conservatives. Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Ann Coulter, etc. are some of the more egregious examples of the emptiness of conservative rhetoric. Selling books, making money, disenfranchising and imprisoning innocent people ... anyone who disagrees ... has become the new patriotism for conservatives.

This coming election is an important one. I believe it will determine whether the American ideal still has a real chance. It will determine whether we, as a people, can survive this onslaught on our freedoms, reclaim our heritage and again become that shining light that the innocents of the world look to for hope. We cannot let conservative extremism rule us. We cannot become disinterested in the welfare of others, even while we battle those who would seek our destruction.

It is the height of arrogance to assume that we will be met with open arms by forcing our standards, our culture, our idea of democracy on other lands. When we are asked for help, we must be sure not to try to turn other peoples into clones of ourselves, to turn their lands into petri dishes for corporate greed. We must remember the reason why we offer to export democracy. We do this for purely altruistic reasons. We do this because it is the American ideal. We export democracy because freedom is something that should be shared.