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Miscellaneous Thoughts (a.k.a. The Ranting Corner)
Sunday, 23 May 2004
The Gas-Out, Other Options And Money
Some of the comments have expressed confusion over what a ?Gas-Out? is. A ?Gas-Out? is a boycott of gasoline purchases for one day. The theory is that one day of no profits will hurt the oil companies so much that they?ll lower their prices to keep from it ever happening again. As we saw last week, they don?t work.

As for the question from England regarding other options, the problem is that Ford, GM, and Chrysler give so much money to the government through campaign donations, etc., that the government won?t impose mandates on them regarding necessary miles per gallon.

Added to that the oil companies who also give money for the same purpose. If car companies started making automobiles that use fewer gallons of gas per mile it would cut into oil company profits because people would be buying less gas.

It all comes back to money. Now, I?m not suggesting that Democrats don?t take bribes, campaign donations or other ?soft money? contributions. Pretty much once you?re part of the government on any level, you?re probably crooked. That?s the way politics work.

What I do believe is that where Republicans will screw you over hard, Democrats will at least take you out to dinner and get you drunk first.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 10:37 AM EDT
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Friday, 21 May 2004
The Illusion of Control
On Tuesday night this week I received two forwards asking that I participate in the gas-out. The movement was supposed to encompass millions of people who would refuse to buy gas on Wednesday. Well, unfortunately, I was bone-dry and really needed gas. So on Wednesday morning I filled up. I paid $2.17 per gallon.

Last night as I passed the gas station I go to, I noticed that the price of gas is now $2.22 per gallon. Do you know what this means? Everyone who wouldn?t buy gas on Wednesday now has to gas up for the weekend and must pay five cents more a gallon. Basically, it?s a great big ?Piss off!? from the oil companies who know that we have to come crawling back at some point and when we do we can expect to get hammered.

What we have is only the illusion of control. We can pretend that we make a difference by getting together and boycotting gas for one day but in the end they know we need it and they?re going to make us pay for any attempt at controlling them.

If we really want to make a difference we should be getting ready for the election in November. More and more prisoner interviews and pictures are coming out and the result is that we are becoming (if we weren?t already) one of the most hated countries in the world. A change in leadership is paramount.

I?ve said it before and I?ll say it again. Just like the Roman Empire, our American Empire is crumbling stone by stone.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:19 AM EDT
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Thursday, 20 May 2004
Worth Repeating
Stee posted this as a link, but you need a password to read it. For those of you who don't frequent Plaintive Wail or who don't have a password, I'm posting the article in its entirety.

From the New York Times:

A War for Us, Fought by Them
By WILLIAM BROYLES Jr.
Wilson, Wyoming - The longest love affair of my life began with a shotgun marriage. It was the height of the Vietnam War and my student deferment had run out. Desperate not to endanger myself or to interrupt my personal plans, I wanted to avoid military service altogether. I didn't have the resourcefulness of Bill Clinton, so I couldn't figure out how to dodge the draft. I tried to escape into the National Guard, where I would be guaranteed not to be sent to war, but I lacked the connections of George W. Bush, so I couldn't slip ahead of the long waiting list. My attitude was the same as Dick Cheney's: I was special, I had "other priorities." Let other people do it.

When my draft notice came in 1968, I was relieved in a way. Although I had deep doubts about the war, I had become troubled about how I had angled to avoid military service. My classmates from high school were in the war; my classmates from college were not ? exactly the dynamic that exists today. But instead of reporting for service in the Army, on a whim I joined the Marine Corps, the last place on earth I thought I belonged.

My sacrifice turned out to be minimal. I survived a year as an infantry lieutenant in Vietnam. I was not wounded; nor did I struggle for years with post-traumatic stress disorder. A long bout of survivor guilt was the price I paid. Others suffered far more, particularly those who had to serve after the war had lost all sense of purpose for the men fighting it. I like to think that in spite of my being so unwilling at first, I did some small service to my country and to that enduring love of mine, the United States Marine Corps.

To my profound surprise, the Marines did a far greater service to me. In three years I learned more about standards, commitment and yes, life, than I did in six years of university. I also learned that I had had no idea of my own limits: when I was exhausted after humping up and down jungle mountains in 100-degree heat with a 75-pound pack, terrified out of my mind, wanting only to quit, convinced I couldn't take another step, I found that in fact I could keep going for miles. And my life was put in the hands of young men I would otherwise never have met, by and large high-school dropouts, who turned out to be among the finest people I have ever known.

I am now the father of a young man who has far more character than I ever had. I joined the Marines because I had to; he signed up after college because he felt he ought to. He volunteered for an elite unit and has served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. When I see images of Americans in the war zones, I think of my son and his friends, many of whom I have come to know and deeply respect. When I opened this newspaper yesterday and read the front-page headline, "9 G.I.'s Killed," I didn't think in abstractions. I thought very personally.

The problem is, I don't see the images of or read about any of the young men and women who, as Dick Cheney and I did, have "other priorities." There are no immediate family members of any of the prime civilian planners of this war serving in it ? beginning with President Bush and extending deep into the Defense Department. Only one of the 535 members of Congress, Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, has a child in the war ? and only half a dozen others have sons and daughters in the military.

The memorial service yesterday for Pat Tillman, the football star killed in Afghanistan, further points out this contrast. He remains the only professional athlete of any sport who left his privileged life during this war and turned in his play uniform for a real one. With few exceptions, the only men and women in military service are the profoundly patriotic or the economically needy.

It was not always so. In other wars, the men and women in charge made sure their family members led the way. Since 9/11, the war on terrorism has often been compared to the generational challenge of Pearl Harbor; but Franklin D. Roosevelt's sons all enlisted soon after that attack. Both of Lyndon B. Johnson's sons-in-law served in Vietnam.

This is less a matter of politics than privilege. The Democratic elites have not responded more nobly than have the Republican; it's just that the Democrats' hypocrisy is less acute. Our president's own family illustrates the loss of the sense of responsibility that once went with privilege. In three generations the Bushes have gone from war hero in World War II, to war evader in Vietnam, to none of the extended family showing up in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pat Tillman didn't want to be singled out for having done what other patriotic Americans his age should have done. The problem is, they aren't doing it. In spite of the president's insistence that our very civilization is at stake, the privileged aren't flocking to the flag. The war is being fought by Other People's Children. The war is impersonal for the very people to whom it should be most personal.

If the children of the nation's elites were facing enemy fire without body armor, riding through gantlets of bombs in unarmored Humvees, fighting desperately in an increasingly hostile environment because of arrogant and incompetent civilian leadership, then those problems might well find faster solutions.

The men and women on active duty today ? and their companions in the National Guard and the reserves ? have seen their willingness, and that of their families, to make sacrifices for their country stretched thin and finally abused. Thousands of soldiers promised a one-year tour of duty have seen that promise turned into a lie. When Eric Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, told the president that winning the war and peace in Iraq would take hundreds of thousands more troops, Mr. Bush ended his career. As a result of this and other ill-advised decisions, the war is in danger of being lost, and my beloved military is being run into the ground.

This abuse of the voluntary military cannot continue. How to ensure adequate troop levels, with a diversity of backgrounds? How to require the privileged to shoulder their fair share? In other words, how to get today's equivalents of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney ? and me ? into the military, where their talents could strengthen and revive our fighting forces?

The only solution is to bring back the draft. Not since the 19th century has America fought a war that lasted longer than a week with an all-volunteer army; we can't do it now. It is simply not built for a protracted major conflict. The arguments against the draft ? that a voluntary army is of higher quality, that the elites will still find a way to evade service ? are bogus. In World War II we used a draft army to fight the Germans and Japanese ? two of the most powerful military machines in history ? and we won. The problems in the military toward the end of Vietnam were not caused by the draft; they were the result of young Americans being sent to fight and die in a war that had become a disaster.

One of the few good legacies of Vietnam is that after years of abuses we finally learned how to run the draft fairly. A strictly impartial lottery, with no deferments, can ensure that the draft intake matches military needs. Chance, not connections or clever manipulation, would determine who serves.

If this war is truly worth fighting, then the burdens of doing so should fall on all Americans. If you support this war, but assume that Pat Tillman and Other People's Children should fight it, then you are worse than a hypocrite. If it's not worth your family fighting it, then it's not worth it, period. The draft is the truest test of public support for the administration's handling of the war, which is perhaps why the administration is so dead set against bringing it back.


William Broyles Jr., the founding editor of Texas Monthly, wrote the screenplay for "Cast Away."


Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 2:40 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 18 May 2004
Pumpkin
I kid you not, this is my cat.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:18 AM EDT
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Monday, 17 May 2004
Bush's Approval Rating At An All-Time Low
I wonder why....

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:57 AM EDT
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Sunday, 16 May 2004
Ballet For Me
Yesterday Patricia and I went to New York and saw La Bayadere, which is a lovely ballet set in India. It?s about this bayadere or temple dancer who falls in love with a warrior and he with her. They swear their undying devotion to each other but there?s a snag. The High Brahman is in love with the dancer and the warrior is engaged to be married.

The warrior betrays the dancer?s love and at the formal betrothal of the warrior and his fiance the dancer is ordered to perform. While she?s dancing she?s given a basket of flowers which she thinks are from the warrior. They are really from his bride?s father who has heard from the High Brahman that the dancer loves the warrior.

A snake is hidden in the basket of flowers and it bites her. She dies as the warrior and his bride leave to prepare for the wedding. The warrior, though, is riddled with guilt and keeps seeing her vision everywhere. At the wedding itself he says his vows not to his bride but to the vision of the dancer. This angers the gods and the temple is destroyed by an earthquake. Everyone dies.

But, it?s a happy ending. Now the dancer and the warrior are both dead and they can be together forever. Ta da!

I wasn?t sure I was going to enjoy myself because I?d never been to the ballet as an adult, but I was absolutely enthralled. The precision of movement and control over the body that these dancers have absolutely captivated me. It was amazing. I highly recommend it.

Today I have a list of errands to run and laundry and I?m still sitting here in my jammies. I feel like such a slacker but this will be one of the few times this summer when it?s cool enough to spend any amount of time up in our little attic/office. So there, Judgy McJudgerson.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 9:47 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 May 2004
Happy Birthday, Mom!
I was at work before and rushed so I wanted to wait and do this when I could do a good job of it.

My mom?s birthday is today and like my dad, she?s taught me a whole lot of stuff. For instance, she taught me to appreciate culture. My love of books, art, theatre, ballet, and classical music all come from my mother. Not bad for a woman who doesn?t consider herself an ?educated? person. She taught me to be a strong Democrat. She taught me how to pick my battles. She taught me to love NPR and frozen chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. She taught me how to make a fist and throw a punch. She taught me that it?s better to have a cat on your lap than a clean house (a philosophy I still live by).

For the above and all the others I?ve forgotten or couldn?t think of, thank you and happy birthday, Mom.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 8:56 PM EDT
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Sad, Sad Entry
Okay, I totally have a good excuse. Because of the torrential downpour on Wednesday night, our DSL line was down all of day yesterday, so I couldn?t update this little journal of mine.

When I got home last night from work we left right away for yoga and then it was almost eight when we got home so I watched the last two hours of Frasier and breathed a sigh of relief along with the rest of America (seriously, a show CAN go on too long), and then I watched ER. I know, I know. Probably I?m the only one left watching this sad gasp of a show but I can?t help it. I like Abby. Well, no, I like Maura Tierney. I was one of those annoying people who was rooting for her to hook up with Carter. What a mistake that was. Blech.

Anyway, here?s my entry for today. Enthralling so far, no?

I?m going to the ballet in New York tomorrow and I?m really psyched. The last time I went to the ballet it was Christmastime and my mom took me to see the Nutcracker. I think I was like ten or so.

On Sunday I have to run errands all day, but hopefully we?ll squeeze Kill Bill, Vol. 2 into the day somehow. I am utterly ashamed that I haven?t seen it yet.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 4:29 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 12 May 2004
Meh.
I douched you out of an entry yesterday so you get two today. Am I the only one who has no interest in ?Troy?? I feel sort of unfaithful about it. Brad Pitt is both a great actor and easy on the eyes and yet?meh. I just don?t care. The last thing I want to see is ANOTHER damn saga about ancient, medieval, or modern history that also ties in with war, hatred, violence and death. Shoot me now. Or better yet, shoot the protagonist of the next movie and just save us all the headache.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 3:03 PM EDT
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Can you say
?last ditch attempt to garner interest in this almost certain crap-fest of a spin-off?? Don't get me wrong, I think it's a brilliant move on the producers' part. I have no interest in watching Joey without the other five, but adding Drea to the cast just made it more appealing to me. The trouble is that good actors don't always make a good show. Drea, my fingers are crossed for you.

Posted by freak2/katertot0208 at 1:03 PM EDT
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