February 29, 2004

Goodbye, Old Friend

from - smijer

I had to bury Max this morning.

While I was digging around for some pictures and a scrap of video to memorialize him, I was reminded how lucky I am to still have so many of my people still with me. I will be missing Max from now until forever, but knowing that I still have so many of my people really takes a lot of the sting away. For that I am grateful. Click 'more' for the photos and video...

Here are a small assortment of pictures of Max.

m1.jpg m2.jpg

mdeck.JPG

Click on this one to play a brief clip of Max going on his favorite walk in the Chicamauga Battlefield Park:

maxvid.JPG

Posted by smijer at 05:54 PM | Comments (9)

February 28, 2004

Saturday Fun

from - smijer

Try this bit of Saturday Fun. Find the Fakers.

Gon Out Backson Bisy Backson

Posted by smijer at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2004

Various thoughts

from - smijer

In the Left corner, PZ Myers of Pharyngula In the Right corner, Vinod. Actually, there are a lot more takes on the subject of liberalism in academia than these two. In fact these two aren't entirely at odds with each other. It is an interesting study, though - and one that sheds light on the self-image of many self-identified liberals and conservatives. That light is not always flattering to either.

I noticed this webpage in the blog ads at Eschaton. Scary how money = power = money = power.

Many rightists have pointed out that it is fair game to attack Kerry on his defense voting record, regardless of his past service. I would tend to agree with that. Let me stress that I cannot stand John Kerry. Nevertheless, his voting record on a few weapons systems bears defending. You can paint anybody as "weak on defense" by cherry-picking votes on defense spending. Kerry voted for the peace dividend. In retrospect, a few more B2's would never have stopped those jets from being hijacked and flown into those buildings. You can't fight terrorists with a cold-war arsenal.

Oh, and here's another interesting discussion - including the comments.

That's it for now. I'll try to do a little more lite blogging over the weekend.

Posted by smijer at 11:25 AM | Comments (7)

Boortz on Employment: a Study in Cynical Hubris

from - smijer

A sucker born every minute? Someone thinks so. I've noticed that spin like this is usually recycled by the time Boortz gives it play, so I won't assume it originated with him. Here's the scoop. Bush has been creating jobs. No, really. Listen:

Senator John Kerry is running ads in the Super Tuesday states talking about the "millions of jobs lost" during President Bush's term. Sounds like a really impressive stump speech for the Democratic front-runner. Too bad it's totally and completely false. Of course, Democrats never let facts get in the way of their Bush-hating.

At least 2.4 million jobs have been created since the president took office, with 2 million of those coming just last year. At least 366,000 jobs have been created in the last five months, and 100,000 of those in January. There are many signs that the economy is recovering.

The current unemployment rate is at 5.6%, the lowest in 2 years. That is lower than the average of the 1990's, which was 5.8%. Consumer spending grew between 4 and 5% last year. Hourly earnings rose 1.5%. American workers number 138.5 million, the highest level in American history. The economy is recovering quite nicely and soon will be booming.

I hate to say that Boortz is telling a bald-faced lie. Maybe there is some good explanation why his hypothesis of 2.4 million jobs created is so badly at odds with REALITY. Maybe he just misplaced a negative. Maybe he flunked math.

Look at what the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports: November 2003 (last non-"projected" number): 130,878,000 jobs. Versus November 2000: 133,308,000. (That's non-seasonally adjusted). If you look at the projections through January (and bear in mind that we didn't quite make the projections in December or January), the numbers do not improve much at all. Bush would have to create about 3,000,000 jobs just to break even, and he would have to be creating them a lot faster than now if he hoped to keep up with the growth in job demand.

What about this unemployment lower than the "average of the '90's?" That may well be an accurate number. Remember, unemployment was still kinda high when Clinton took office. Specifically, in 1992, the last year of GHW Bush, it was 7.5%. Every year thereafter it decreased: 6.9, 6.1, 5.6, 5.4, 4.9, 4.5, 4.2, 4.0...

4.0. That was the year 2000. 2001 saw the first rise in unemployment since, well, 1992. 4.7, 5.8, and 6.0 in 2003.

(Taken from BLS using this data query)

It takes some kind of hubris to spin the last three years as having been some sort of a job boom. Does he really think his audience is that stupid?

One last thing. In yesterday's Nuze Neal asks us to believe that social security is already insolvent. Broke. Time to privatize. Others disagree. Can't help but be suspicious of the Boortz analysis.

Posted by smijer at 06:30 AM | Comments (11)

February 26, 2004

Max Again

from - smijer

I don't have very many good pictures of Max. This one isn't as clear as it could be, but I like it a lot anyway. It captures more of his personality than some of the others do.

maxsit.JPG

Anyway, thought I'd share while I'm posting lite.

Posted by smijer at 09:26 PM | Comments (1)

Controversy?

from - smijer

I just happened upon an excellent weblog by chance. I was looking for a place to download and listen to the Grey Album, and I found this post with an interesting and somewhat heated discussion in the comments. I've added a link to Freedom-to-Tinker in my blogroll.

As I mentioned, I'm 'bisy' for a few days. Furthermore, I haven't developed any strong views on copyright ethics. So why don't y'all have a little fight in my comments thread about it?

When (if ever) should "intellectual property" become a part of the public domain? Why? Does this sampling-and-remixing to create a chimerical new work of art constitute fair use, or should copyright protections cover that too? For that matter, should Andy Warhol's estate be paying residuals to Campbell's Soup?

Better yet, why not fight it out on the discussion board? While you're at it - help me find this grey album without resorting to file-sharing.

Update: I found it. Unfortunately, it seems to be a case of Beatles and Eminem in ugly car wreck. But my curiosity is sated anyway and now there's something good to argue about. So get to it.

Posted by smijer at 05:01 PM | Comments (1)

By the way

from - smijer

If anybody knows where I can get my grubby little paws on this, drop me a line. I prefer never to use file-sharing clients.

Posted by smijer at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

Still Bisy Backson

from - smijer

I'm still working on other projects, and I will still be posting "Lite" for a while. I hope you'll have patience. Maybe you can start a flame war in the discussion boards while I'm tinkering with other things. Or, visit some of the fine blogger sites on the blog-roll.

Posted by smijer at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2004

Nail, Head, WHAM!

from - smijer

Via Skeptical Notion

nohomos.jpg

With that, I'll shut up about gay marriage for a while. I don't want to beat a dead horse.

(published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Update: I promised to shut up about gay marriage, but I did want to congratulate some of the conservative bloggers out there who have taken the a stand for equality. Most notably, Says Uncle has been right there since the issue started coming up. Several others from the right have taken a stand on this issue, too. That definitely boosts my respect for the conservative viewpoint.

Posted by smijer at 10:01 PM | Comments (35)

Gay Marriage

from - smijer

George Bush got on television yesterday and told all of us straight people that he would actively pursue a Constitutional amendment to make sure that "they" can't have what "we" have. It may be the first amendment to the Constitution ever proposed for the sole purpose of excluding a group of people from the rights shared by the rest of us.

I just wanted to mention that.

Ok, so someone at a Moveable Beast already said it better. Allow me an excerpt of these words addressed to the President:

How dare you tell me that my family is not good for America? How dare you tarnish our beloved Constitution, by seeking to make it an instrument of legalized oppression?

America has seen your kind before. I trust she'll know what to do. Unless, of course, enough of the people most devastated by your war, your economic and social policy decisions, and your fundamental disrespect of them, (which is most of us, by my reckoning), still somehow can't be bothered to go out and vote you away in November.

Posted by smijer at 07:02 AM | Comments (22)

February 24, 2004

Of Whisper Campaigns and Chain-letters

from - smijer

As the 2004 election heats up, all I can say is, "thank goodness for snopes.com". Anyone who reads this blog knows I don't care for John Kerry. The only thing I like about him is that the radical right hate him. I was for Dean or Clark or Graham, and now I'm for Edwards - but I'll take up for even John Kerry when the e-mail chain letters start flying.

My first contact with This FrontPage Magazine.com article, ostensibly from an anonymous retired Marine Master Seargent (who served in Korea, in 1954?!), was from an e-mail that linked to this blog entry. It had already been adapted to an e-mail format by that time if the blogger in question is on the up and up about where he got it. He said it came to him from his brother, who received it in an e-mail from an old shipmate. I'm not sure if it was the blogger or the brother who wrote in such a way to leave the impression that the old shipmate was the author. Apparently, he wasn't. Anyway, it has turned up on quite a few blogs (here, and here, for instance), and has also apparently been circulating as a chain letter.

Snopes comes to the rescue. Unfortunately, more people will read and forward the e-mail than will ever check Snopes, but at least someone is out there trying.

I decided to post this, because I saw what appears to be a very recently added member of the e-mail whisper campaign. It was forwarded to me today at work. Click to read:

"I would like to add my two cents about my John Kerry experience. During my career as an Air Force pilot, I spent two years flying a small twin engine prop plane around the Pacific from my base in Okinawa, Japan. On one trip we had to fly Senator Kerry, his congressional aide, and a Navy Captain (Vietnam, A-4 fighter pilot) who was also in Kerry's party to various locations in Vietnam and Cambodia as part of the MIA/POW talks. When I met him, he was wearing a shirt with a picture of his sailboat on it. I told him I had a small 27 sailboat in Okinawa, he remarked "Oh I never sail on anything less than 135 feet." When we first flew him into Phnom Penh, he went to the back of the airplane and grabbed the pizza that was put aside for the crew and passed it around to his staff.

He was never offered any pizza because they were supposed to have lunch
with the Cambodian government once we landed. The pizza would have been our only meal that day.

When we picked him up in Cambodia, he was an hour late getting to the
airport. We could not start the engines and therefore the air conditioning
until he arrived. Phnom Penh at that time was over 100 degrees with 95% humidity and we were basically sitting in a greenhouse behind the cockpit windows. When he finally did arrive, we were wringing out our clothes from the perspiration. He walks out of the air conditioned car, into the airplane and asks us "Could you guys get the air conditioning running, I'm a little warm?" The other pilot had to physically restrain me from going back there and picking a fight.
Then we took him into Noi Bai airfield in Hanoi. After we picked him up
the next day (he stayed the night in Vietnam, we stayed in Bangkok) we taxied out, ran up the engines for takeoff, and noticed that our prop rpm was
vibrating all over the place. We taxied off to the side to look at it,
but there was a good possibility that there was an engine malfunction and the
engine may fail if we took off with it. Well, Mr. Senator sticks his head up in the cockpit and says "This plane WILL take off, I have a press conference in Bangkok in three hours!" (Maybe this is an indication of how he will run the FAA). We ran the engines again, and did not have the problem, so we took
off and made it back. During the flight, he told everyone how he had taken
a Cessna (a small General aviation plane) up with a fighter pilot, and the
fighter pilot remarked that Kerry was one of the best pilots he had ever
seen. I don't know about other pilots out there, but it's hard to imagine
a little, single-engine prop plane pilot being able to show the "right
stuff." After Kerry left the plane, the Navy Captain came up to us, apologized and said basically that "he knows Kerry is a jerk" and that we should be glad we don't have to deal with him every day." Does this sound like the man of the people or an obnoxious, pompous, arrogant AH?

That's it. I sent it in to Snopes, too. I'm sure I wasn't the first, but hopefully they'll be able to give it their attention soon enough. That's ok - President Rove knows which will get more reads between this phony e-mail and Snopes' correction. That's how whisper campaigns work.

Update: Snopes has posted. I was hoping they could discover whether Kerry took the supposed trip to Cambodia and Viet Nam around the time in question and if so, how he was transported. They weren't able to do either it seems, but they did try to contact one of the attributed authors, with no response. Hat tip to Edie in the John Kerry Forum for noticing the new Snopes piece.

Posted by smijer at 08:51 PM | Comments (4)

February 23, 2004

GON OUT BACKSON BISY BACKSON

from - smijer

I'm working on an involved project for a friend. I will be posting light or none at all for the next day or two. Your patience is appreciated.

Posted by smijer at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe I'm Still Sleepy

from - smijer

I spent thirty minutes this morning looking at Google News and thinking about various things, but not much that I felt moved to discuss. There were items about which I was appalled and saddened. Several, actually. But, I simply didn't want to talk about them.

So I thought I would do a Best of Boortz. That usually doesn't require a lot of deep thought. So I opened Friday's Nuze page to see what was going on there. Monday's had not yet been posted.

Here's the scoop. If the 700 Club stays home over gay marriage, then they are helping the terrorists win.

Actually, I imagine that George Bush will at least make a show of pushing an amendment to write small-minded discrimination into the constitution, and no matter what he does on the issue, the fundies will forgive him and do their part.

I just think it's funny that Neal is using his scare tactics on the Falwell crowd.

I think it is substantially less funny that Neal is taking the anti-libertarian view that gay marriage ain't no big deal, but also ain't a matter of equal protection. He says its because all single males have the same rights as all other single males, and vice versa for females. Huh? Our Constitution is about equal protection for everybody, not just all single males or all single females. He's just taking the issue and reframing it in terms of gender instead of sexual orientation, then failing to recognize that the equal protection is still missing if you ban gay marriage.

Maybe tonight I'll figure out what I want to say about Uganda, or the Israeli/Palestenian "barrier", or the new violence in Haiti, or the old violence in Zimbabwe.

Right now, I guess I'm just sleepy.

P.S. We're taking nominations for post of the week...

Posted by smijer at 07:22 AM | Comments (1)

February 22, 2004

Darth Nader

from - smijer

Terry McAuliffe & co are seemingly terrified of the Nader run as an independent. I'm not. The votes he pulls can only be people who would otherwise have stayed home. This year, anybody who is serious about decent governance will be voting against Bush, unless they are single-issue Republican voters voting against gun-control or abortion, or single issue war-hawks who have bought the neo-con's theories about forcible democratization of the arab world.

If the Dems don't give him the oxygen of their attention or their fear, he will be an asterisk on polling day. You won't hear another word from me about him.

Posted by smijer at 11:13 AM | Comments (13)

February 20, 2004

Got Wiki?

from - smijer

I guess just about anybody who blogs, or even routinely reads blogs, is also aware of Wiki. If that's you, then skip this entry.

To the rest of you (if anyone)... Wiki is the name for a collaborative internet project that allows multiple users to add to or redact web content. It's a powerful system. Witness Wikipedia.org Here, in less than three years, users from all over the world have compiled a free encyclopedia in several languages - without the help of paid staff-writers. It's all volunteer. More impressive is that most articles are far more up-to-date than encyclopedia articles from any other source. If the there is a revolution in Haiti tomorrow, it will be a part of the Wikipedia article on Haiti tomorrow night.

Most impressive is that the system is self-policing. If I edit the "up" entry and change so that it talks all about "down", someone else will have it changed back in a flash. So anyone can make edits, without fear of the system being degraded by vandals. Check out their entry on Weblogs. And while you're at it, give a thought to the hybrid Bliki.

Posted by smijer at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2004

Aw, Doo Doo!

from - smijer

Mrs. smijer's baby, "Shagnasty" (also "Doo Doo", "Doodie Kitty"), is a live one. This is how he sleeps:

doodoo.JPG

Actually, that's how he sleeps when Momma's hair or tummy isn't available to nest in. It doesn't matter. The cat doesn't often even slow down enough to sleep. He is usually scurrying from one end of the house to the other in pursuit of (What? Air molecules?) making noises similar to some you have heard made by Snoopy the dog.

As hinted before, I had a hand in naming the cat -- but my original suggestion (Little S _ _ T) was not original to me. In fact I was making every effort to name the cat after another kitten which was named spontaneously by my friend and former roommate. He came from Greece. The Mobile (Alabama) flea market was his second home.

There, it was always the plants and animals that would tempt him to pull out his roll and haggle, Mediterranean style, with the merchants. "Leht's get some cheekens" (or ducks, or rabbits)...

"How much for theeze things overr heerre (english: 'Gardenias', or 'Lilies')? ... Oh, you see, I ohnly hahf seven dollors. How many can I get forr seven dollors?" ... and inevitably, one day, "How much for theess leetle shit?"

The leetle shit is most likely a great-grandmother by now. I know the last time I made the trip to visit the former roommate, one of her kittens was already pregnant. Anyway, all that's neither here nor there. I'm just trying to explain the cat's name, and I think you get the point.

Now, click on the image below in order to watch him do valiant combat with a fierce Teddy Bear.

dvbear.JPG

(Apparently the AOL media player has problems with this file. I would have preferred to make a .mov for quicktime users, but my software doesn't support it. Sorry about that)

Posted by smijer at 07:51 PM | Comments (4)

Two other things

from - smijer

Les Jones is hosting the tailgate party.

Also, the Post Of the Week Poll is up now with a grand total of two nominations.

Posted by smijer at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

Lite Day: Dentistry

from - smijer

There isn't much happening today. I'll be leaving work early to go to the dentist. I loathe dentists. I need nitrous oxide gas just to have x-rays. Anaesthetics fail utterly at muting my horror at the feel of a metal on tooth: be it a metal drill or a pair of pliers.

As a result of this, and my otherwise poor record of dental hygiene, I have a mouth full of cavities, near-abcesses, and chipped teeth. Boy this is going to be fun. Today is just a preliminary exam, but when the time comes to fix these things, they are going to have to put me so far under that I can have a friendly conversation with Jimmy Hoffa while they do the work.

Else, I'm apt to struggle to get away.

While I take the rest of the day off from blogging, help yourself to the discussion boards. (Are you sick of hearing about them yet?)

Posted by smijer at 07:00 AM | Comments (4)

February 18, 2004

So Long, Ho-Ho. We hardly knew ye

from - smijer

I won't eulogize Dean's candidacy. I also won't indulge in too much speculation on what his campaign will morph into next. I will say I'm sorry to see him out. Now that he is, I swing my support to John Edwards.

I'll leave the link to BFA up for a while. It will be interesting to hear what the Deaniacs are saying in those comments threads. The blog entries will surely be the first place that the "movement's" new direction will be revealed.

Posted by smijer at 06:53 PM | Comments (3)

February 17, 2004

"Shagnasty"

from - smijer

Due to a long standing tradition of the men in my family, all cats are "shagnasty" (alternatively, "dead cat"). This one is named, among the women and youngsters, "Buttons" (alternatively, "Miss Kitty"). She's rarely addressed by either name. She comes to the sound of a can-opener or the sound of embarassed silence among people who can't bring themselves to call her by name.

buttons.JPG

'Course that was before her little operation. She's doubled in size on the x-axis since then. The ivy and daylily are gone now, too.

Posted by smijer at 08:05 PM | Comments (6)

Just Married

from - smijer

I hope it isn't premature to join the celebrations from around the blogosphere about what's going on in San Francisco right now. I "borrowed" this picture from CNN. The expression on these gals' faces warms the heart so much.

justmarried.jpg

In some ways, its still a great time to be an American.

Posted by smijer at 02:20 PM | Comments (65)

Sincerest Form of Flattery?

from - smijer

Oliver Willis: copy cat.

Just kidding of course. I doubt Oliver has ever even seen the inside of smijer-lite, or knows about its discussion board. But that won't keep me from plugging it again anyway. And while I'm at it, I'll go sign up for Oliver's board, too.

Posted by smijer at 07:07 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2004

Conservative Values

from - smijer

Well, it looks like the conservatives (be they Faux Democrats or be they Republicans) have the self-righteous vote wrapped up. Around where I live, that's a mighty big bloc, too. Check out this sermon from old Zig Zag, worthy of the good Jimmy Swaggart himself:

“The Old Testament prophet Amos was a sheep herder who lived back in the Judean hills, away from the larger cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Compared to the intellectual urbanites like Isaiah and Jeremiah, he was just an unsophisticated country hick.

“But Amos had a unique grasp of political and social issues and his poetic literary skill was among the best of all the prophets. That familiar quote of Martin Luther King, Jr. about ‘Justice will rush down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream’ are Amos’s words.

“Amos was the first to propose the concept of a universal God and not just some tribal deity. He also wrote that God demanded moral purity, not rituals and sacrifices. This blunt speaking moral conscience of his time warns in Chapter 8, verse 11 of The Book of Amos, as if he were speaking to us today:

That ‘the days will come, sayeth the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land. Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.
‘And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east. They shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.’

‘A famine in the land’. Has anyone more accurately described the situation we face in America today? ‘A famine of hearing the words of the Lord.’

“But some will say, Amos was just an Old Testament prophet – a minor one at that – who lived 700 years before Christ. That is true, so how about one of the most influential historians of modern times?

“Arnold Toynbee who wrote the acclaimed 12 volume A Study of History, once declared, ‘Of the 22 civilizations that have appeared in history, 19 of them collapsed when they reached the moral state America is in today.’

“Toynbee died in 1975, before seeing the worst that was yet to come. Yes, Arnold Toynbee saw the famine. The ‘famine of hearing the words of the Lord.’ Whether it is removing a display of the Ten Commandments from a Courthouse or the Nativity Scene from a city square. Whether it is eliminating prayer in schools or eliminating ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance. Whether it is making a mockery of the sacred institution of marriage between a man and woman or, yes, telecasting around the world made-in-the-USA filth masquerading as entertainment.

“The Culture of Far Left America was displayed in a startling way during the Super Bowl’s now infamous half-time show. A show brought to us courtesy of Value-Les Moonves and the pagan temple of Viacom-Babylon.

“I asked the question yesterday, how many of you have ever run over a skunk with your car? I have many times and I can tell you, the stink stays around for a long time. You can take the car through a car wash and it’s still there. So the scent of this event will long linger in the nostrils of America.

“I’m not talking just about an exposed mammary gland with a pull-tab attached to it. Really no one should have been too surprised at that. Wouldn’t one expect a bumping, humping, trashy routine entitled ‘I’m going to get you naked’ to end that way.

“Does any responsible adult ever listen to the words of this rap-crap? I’d quote you some of it, but the Sergeant of Arms would throw me out of here, as well he should. And then there was that prancing, dancing, strutting, rutting guy evidently suffering from jock itch because he kept yelling and grabbing his crotch. But then, maybe there’s a crotch grabbing culture I’ve unaware of.

“But as bad as all this was, the thing that yanked my chain the hardest was seeing that ignoramus with his pointed head stuck up through a hole he had cut in the flag of the United States of America, screaming about having ‘a bottle of scotch and watching lots of crotch.’ Think about that.

“This is the same flag that we pledge allegiance to. This is the flag that is draped over coffins of dead young uniformed warriors killed while protecting Kid Crock’s bony butt. He should be tarred and feathered, and ridden out of this country on a rail. Talk about a good reality show, there’s one for you.

“The desire and will of this Congress to meaningfully do anything about any of these so-called social issues is non existent and embarrassingly disgraceful. The American people are waiting and growing impatient with us. They want something done.

“I am pleased to be a co-sponsor of S.J. Res. 26 along with Senator Allard and others, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage. And S.1558, the Liberties Restoration Act, which declares religious liberty rights in several ways, including the Pledge of Allegiance and the display of the Ten Commandments. And today I join Senator Shelby and others with the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 that limits the jurisdiction of federal courts in certain ways.

“In doing so, I stand shoulder to shoulder not only with my Senate co-sponsors and Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama but, more importantly, with our Founding Fathers in the conception of religious liberty and the terribly wrong direction our modern judiciary has taken us in.

"Everyone today seems to think that the U.S. Constitution expressly provides for separation of church and state. Ask any ten people if that’s not so. And I’ll bet you most of them will say ‘Well, sure.’ And some will point out, ‘it’s in the First Amendment.’

“Wrong! Read it! It says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ Where is the word ‘separate’? Where are the words ‘church’ or ‘state.’

“They are not there. Never have been. Never intended to be. Read the Congressional Records during that four-month period in 1789 when the amendment was being framed in Congress. Clearly their intent was to prohibit a single denomination in exclusion of all others, whether it was Anglican or Catholic or some other.

“I highly recommend a great book entitled Original Intent by David Barton. It really gets into how the actual members of Congress, who drafted the First Amendment, expected basic Biblical principles and values to be present throughout public life and society, not separate from it.

“It was Alexander Hamilton who pointed out that ‘judges should be bound down by strict rules and precedents, which serve to define and point out their duty.’ Bound down! That is exactly what is needed to be done. There was not a single precedent cited when school prayer was struck down in 1962.

“These judges who legislate instead of adjudicate, do it without being responsible to one single solitary voter for their actions. Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence was a brilliant young physician from Pennsylvania named Benjamin Rush.

“When Rush was elected to that First Continental Congress, his close friend Benjamin Franklin told him ‘We need you. . . we have a great task before us, assigned to us by Providence.’ Today, 228 years later there is still a great task before us assigned to us by Providence. Our Founding Fathers did not shirk their duty and we can do no less.

“By the way, Benjamin Rush was once asked a question that has long interested this Senator from Georgia in particular. Dr. Rush was asked, are you a democrat or an aristocrat? And the good doctor answered, ‘I am neither’. ‘I am a Christocrat. I believe He, alone, who created and redeemed man is qualified to govern him.’ That reply of Benjamin Rush is just as true today in the year of our Lord 2004 as it was in the year of our Lord 1776.

“So, if I am asked why – with all the pressing problems this nation faces today – why am I pushing these social issues and taking the Senate’s valuable time? I will answer: Because, it is of the highest importance. Yes, there’s a deficit to be concerned about in this country, a deficit of decency.

“So, as the sand empties through my hourglass at warp speed – and with my time running out in this Senate and on this earth, I feel compelled to speak out. For I truly believe that at times like this, silence is not golden. It is yellow.”

God, save us from your followers.

Posted by smijer at 09:17 PM | Comments (20)

The Discussion Board

from - smijer

I'm still trying to drum up interest in the smijer discussion board. If you already registered, you may need to try more than once to sign on-- the cookies have changed a little bit. I think I've ironed out most of the technical difficulties. If you find any problem logging in, let me know.

If you haven't registered already, then there's no time like the present. I'm hoping (if nothing else) to get an active post-of-the-week contest going on there. check the two threads in this forum for details.

If you have any suggestions, I'd be interested to hear.

Posted by smijer at 10:39 AM | Comments (7)

February 15, 2004

Campaign Slogans

from - smijer

I got a kick out of the various proposed campaign slogans for Bush (Bush/Cheney '04: Four More Wars!).. Here's my proposal for the Kerry/?? ticket:

John Kerry '04: Who cares?

Whoops. I guess they used that one already.

Posted by smijer at 10:53 PM | Comments (3)

Day After Valentines: I'm in Love

from - smijer

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration. But, on the whole, I think this guy has it right. Listen to him on NPR. The link to the audio file is found on this page.

According to BFA's post, Lakoff has a book, Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. He also has this simple tutorial, on the subject of framing. Here's what caught my eye:

Progressives have to articulate over and over the moral basis for progressive taxation. They have to overcome the outrageous conservative myth that wealthy people have amassed their wealth all by themselves.

The truth is that the wealthy have received more from America than most Americans — not just wealth but the infrastructure that has allowed them to amass their wealth: banks, the Federal Reserve, the stock market, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the legal system, federally-sponsored research, patents, tax supports, the military protection of foreign investments, and much much more. American taxpayers support the infrastructure of wealth accumulation. It is only fair that those who benefit most should pay their fair share.
Reframing is telling the truth as we see it – telling it forcefully, straightforwardly, articulately, with moral conviction and without hesitation. The language must fit the conceptual reframing — a reframing from the perspective of Democratic morality. It is not just a matter of words, though the right words do help evoke a Democratic frame: paying their fair share, those who have received more, the infrastructure of wealth, and so on.

I'm not sure that liberals are so far behind the conservatives on issues of framing. There are a lot of issues still framed in liberal terms (even with inappropriate spin as part of the frame). There are still a lot of issues still framed in "common sense" frames, that do not discriminate against the liberal view. But what is important is that the liberals are currently playing defense on these issues, while the conservatives have launched a massive offensive.

Look at this:

There is a bill being introduced in the California legislature that will use the state's economy of scale to purchase health care relatively cheaply for workers whose employers don't provide it. Small businesses would contribute to a state fund and be able to purchase health insurance through the state at rates previously offered only to very large businesses. The state would be helping small business compete with large businesses in this way.
The question arose as to what to call it. The issue is still not settled. Names suggested were "Play or Pay," Healthy Workers," and so on. "Play or Pay" frames it as the unions strong-arming all employers into paying. "Healthy Workers" sounds like socialist realism. The issue is not settled, but I have proposed "Earned Care." The idea is simple: If you work, part of what you earn is affordable health care.
It fits our belief system as Democrats that health care is earned by people who work. Naming matters. The naming of legislation should reflect our values.

At the front lines of the Republican offensive are radio types - Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, even Boortz. These guys are the frontiersmen of conservative framing. They are clearcutting new ground for the conservative framers. It was once just a common sense notion that the wealthiest nation in the history of the world should be able to afford basic healthcare for its citizens. It never was a great difficulty for people with progressive values to "frame" health care as a responsibility we have for each other. It's difficult for the politicians and mainstream media to re-frame this from the conservative perspective, because the view of mutual responsibility is one that is deeply engrained in our biology, and the common sense notion of making use of our fabulous wealth for the common good resonates with most anyone.

Enter talk radio. Here's the right-wing blazing new trails into this area, so that the politico's can come behind them using buzzwords of "individual responsibility" and "smaller government" to make the liberal position appear less appealing to voters. Here's the right wing using every rhetorical trick to represent people who cannot afford health insurance as parasites on society. Listen to this, from Neal Boortz:

You may think, for instance, that you have a right to health care. After all, Hillary said so, didn't she? But you cannot receive health care unless some doctor or health practitioner surrenders some of his time - his life - to you. He may be willing to do this for compensation, but that's his choice. You have no "right" to his time or property. You have no right to his or any other person's life or to any portion thereof. (...from here)

See that? It's a complete red herring (no one is seriously talking about forcing doctors to work for free), but it successfully pushes the "frame" where providing health care for our citizens becomes a form of theft.

There's plenty more where that comes from.

Someone in my comments a long time ago said, "When the wealthy are unable to produce a booming economy, the poor suffer more and first. The notion that wealthy people are guilty for having wealth is preposterous." I don't think this commenter was a "framer". Instead, it was probably just someone who has accepted the conservative framework. Look at the inherent ideas:

  • The wealthy create the economy
  • Progressive ideology considers wealth reason for guilt
    Neither are true.

    On the first, a million investors and executives will never produce the first dime of "economy" unless someone down the line is producing and marketing, and consuming goods and services. Creating an economy is team-work, and the poor have a lot more share of the work than the rich - if only because there are a lot more of them working on it. On the second, progressive ideology doesn't associate wealth and guilt. They think that there is guilt for some practices that entrench wealth. The Limbaugh's and Hannity's have succesfully conflated proper liberal outspokenness against certain practices of the wealthy and their political sponsors with "guilt over wealth". One of the major practices is to excuse themselves from their fair share of the taxes. This issue is ripe for some liberal re-framing.

    In an ideal world, everyone would be taking a lot of time to parse every policy that comes down the pipe from the policy makers and try to make sense out of it and decide how well it answers to our basic values, and vote for those that answer best. In the real world, if the progressives don't get busy about some serious offense on issues framing, we are going to be stuck with whatever policies the Republican party and their corporate cronies decide to impose.

    Posted by smijer at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)
  • February 14, 2004

    Animal Blogging - Meet Bingo

    from - smijer

    bingo.JPG

    That's Bingo. He's the family dog of the family that Max and I married into (cue Brady Bunch theme). Since he is an aggressive male, and Max is a dominant male, we decided to split the back yard with a makeshift privacy fence.

    Max gets the best side, sleeping in the basement and having access to the "family side" of the back yard. Bingo get's the forgotten end - sleeping under the utility shed and only getting company during special visits and at feeding time. I am full time dog feeder. He also gets a little bit of company through eldest step-son's opened window from time to time.

    Before the step-sons dismantled it, there was a set of steps that allowed access to the lean-to on the back of the utility shed. The roof of the lean-to allowed access to the roof of the shed. Eldest step-son and Bingo found it a pleasant place to while away a summer afternoon. Here's Bingo watching us over the fence - a favorite vantage-point in times past:

    bingoroof.JPG

    Bingo is still intact in his nether regions, and has been known to attempt copulation with visitors' legs. It's only the visitors who keep coming back to see him that really worry me.

    Posted by smijer at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

    February 13, 2004

    Lite day: Fish Story

    from - smijer

    I don't know where this picture came from. It was circulating on e-mail when I picked it off. It looks authentic, though. I would say that's not an American catfish. My friend who is an avid fisherman says something about the shape of the fins.. blah blah blah... it is definitely not American. I say it's much bigger than the ones that live here, but what do I know?

    Thar she blows:

    BIG Catfish.jpg


    Posted by smijer at 07:15 AM | Comments (3)

    February 12, 2004

    Kerry Intern Scandal Click Here

    from - smijer

    Kos has the goods, but CJG at Ranting & Raving beat him to press.

    My personal feeling is that - if Drudge is taking a swipe at Kerry that helps me get over my dislike for Kerry. Oh also, Kerry Intern Scandal Hanky Panky Monkey Business Gary Hart Inevitable Clinton Comparison... (disregard if you are not a search engine)

    Heh...

    Posted by smijer at 02:01 PM | Comments (1)

    RTB Update

    from - smijer

    Bubba says that the Tennesphere has some new denizens:

    FishKite
    Oh Really?
    Road Warrior
    Doug McDaniel

    An enthusiastic welcome to all four, and hopefully soon to two more.

    Posted by smijer at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)

    Lite Day: a Link, a Strange Sighting

    from - smijer

    The link is to pharyngula, where PZ meyers reminds us of the eloquence and insight of a venerable old man.

    I know I promised more of my own animals, but a friend of mine claims to own a living specimen of this exotic species. I expect it is has a close affinity with the Salientia group:

    taco.JPG

    In the absence of a proper species name, my friend simply refers to his specimen as "Taco".

    Posted by smijer at 07:17 AM | Comments (2)

    February 11, 2004

    What Liberal Means

    from - smijer

    Once again, Body & Soul eloquently expresses what liberal values are about... in no uncertain terms. This time its labor and globalization.

    I mean no disrespect to ideological libertarians and supply siders who truly believe that a free market will bring society along to an egalitarian system of fair and sufficient wages, regardless of the effects of industrialization and international trade. It's just that you see families who cannot afford basic health-care even though both parents work 40 hour work-weeks, and that's in the non-unionized Wal*Mart stores. It's that so many of the products that are most favored under a free market are made by people making starvation wages overseas.

    Being a liberal is about a set of values, but it is also an acknowledgement that sometimes leaving the chickenhouse guarded by the capitalist wolves is not the most effective way to work for those values.

    Posted by smijer at 06:35 PM | Comments (4)

    February 10, 2004

    But seriously....

    from - smijer

    I thought the Democratic party, as a group, opposed Bush's Iraq adventure. I really thought that. But the two leading candidates are both pro-war. I just don't get it. Where are the people who care about standing in principled opposition when the president uses our armed forces improperly? Why don't WE have a party?

    Posted by smijer at 07:32 PM | Comments (2)

    Update!

    from - smijer

    In a huge upset, Howard Dean appears to be winning the smijer-lite discussion board primary, with 100% of the vote. Turn out is reported at an all-time high of 1.

    Despite Governor Dean's strong showing in polling so far, the networks are hesitating to call the smijer-lite primary in his favor yet, preferring to wait at least until the poll is closed.

    Posted by smijer at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

    RTBans, other denizens of God's Country: Vote

    from - smijer

    Following Bubba's lead, I'd like to encourage Tennesseans to get out and vote today. Even if you have gone over to the dark side and have no dog in the primary fight, there are usually a few ballot initiatives or local offices on the ballot, too.

    I'll take another cue from Bubba and pitch my guy. Please consider voting for Howard Dean. He's balanced eleven budgets. Nobody else running has ever balanced a budget. That includes Fearless Leader. He has delivered health insurance and helped make staying alive affordable in his home state. He has the courage and independence to represent Main Street, not just K-street and Wall Street.

    He doesn't have much of a shot at Tennessee or the nomination, but what chance he does have depends on votes. Let's get main street out to the polls today.

    After you've voted at the ballot box, come back and vote here. (edit: To be clear - that poll is on the experimental smijer-lite forum. As SKB noticed, registration is required... but its just my little board that gets the information. I promise not to sell it to spammers).

    Posted by smijer at 06:49 AM | Comments (1)

    February 09, 2004

    Animal Blogging - the Series

    from - smijer

    Here at Lite, we are less focused on politics. We could care less about the missing WMD's, really. Really. Irresponsible tax breaks, mostly for the wealthy? Who cares? I mean that. Really. Let me tell you about my dog instead. Here he is, an Akita. He was about eight years old in this picture:

    maxjsmall.JPG

    The long-haired freak with him? Well, let's just say that even smijer has a past. We'll leave it at that.

    at 15 years, Max is extremely old for an Akita, now. He probably doesn't have a year left in him. He has been the perfect companion for me for a long long time. Now he's in his dotage: he is incontinent, and he is losing control of his hind legs. He still gets around ok and he still loves life... but like I said, he can't go on too much longer. When he was younger, we took a lot of walks, and he did a fair amount of exploring on his own. For a while, we shared a two room house in the country and a waterbed. This made for a rough sleeping experience on days that he was feeling itchy. You can imagine a 130 pound dog scratching himself vigorously on a waterbed. Those were the days.

    Now that I am married and Max is relegated to the basement, the family animals consist of two dogs and two cats. Bingo is the other dog, and the cats are Buttons and Doo-doo. I didn't name any of the animals (I took Max in after his puppy-hood). I did have a hand in choosing Doo-doo's eventual name, though. He started out as Little-shit, courtesy of yours truly. I'll try to add their photos to the animal-blogging series at a later time.

    Posted by smijer at 08:37 PM | Comments (3)

    February 08, 2004

    New "Feature"

    from - smijer

    I'm incorrigible. I "quit blogging" in order to get back some of the time I spent that way. A weekend off work comes along, and not only am I back to blogging, but I'm back to spending unjustifiable amounts of time tinkering. This tinkering has led me to what I am sure is a re-used idea -- probably one that didn't make sense the first time it was considered or tried, and still doesn't now. After all, every blog (that wants them) has comments threads. All the bloggers already have a perfect medium for sharing their thoughts or making their arguments. Why on earth would you make a discussion board for and about blogs? If you're me, its not because you expect so much utility out of it as the simple fact that you can't leave well enough alone. Maybe a few of you will humor me and go play on the smijer-lite fora. Or maybe not.

    For future reference, the link is in the right column under "Contacts", right below e-mail.

    Posted by smijer at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

    February 07, 2004

    The Babinski Reflex

    from - smijer

    Maybe you remember that I had a new niece arrive this January. My wife is thrilled to have a baby girl in the family. But what has me impressed is that she has the Babinski reflex.

    I hadn't ever witnessed it before I saw this child. I guess it isn't uncommon. I hadn't heard of it - Mrs. Smijer had to tell me what it was. Unlike the classic reflex, Emily spontaneously fans her toes and she isn't playing. She wants some serious daylight between them.

    I guess it's not that uncommon, but I've never seen it before... at least not like this. Here's what it looks like:

    babinski.jpg

    Posted by smijer at 09:15 PM | Comments (1)

    Ok, well...

    from - smijer

    I'm going to try something different. You'll see a slight change in the name of my little blog. What once was smijer is now smijer-lite. I'm going to have another go, but I'm not going to wear myself out over it. That means:

  • Fewer posts
  • Less politics
  • Very little Boortz
  • (Maybe) more pictures
  • More time fiddling with the style-sheets

    Anybody reading this who read before... here's your sheepish wave and "hello again..." New people: just hello.

    Posted by smijer at 01:40 PM | Comments (4)