Saturday, July 31, 2004

One Degree of Wal-Mart

Yesterday I read that Wal-Mart, the largest corporation in the world, is now even bigger than the country of Sweden, finacially speaking. And that set me thinking about that old parlor game, six degrees of Kevin Bacon. You know, the game where someone names an actor in Hollywood and based on the movies they have been in will be connected to Kevin Bacon within six other actors. For instance, Morgan Freeman. Morgan Freeman was in "me, myself, and Irene", with Renee Zellwegger, who was in "Jerry McGuire" with Tom Cruise, who was in "A few Good Men" with, you guessed it, Kevin Bacon.
My assertion is this, I would be willing to bet that least 70% of the dirty south has either (a) worked at Wal-Mart themselves, or (b) known someone personally who has worked at Wal-Mart. I can think of four people off the top of my head who have worked at Wal-Mart, and that's without even trying. So at least 70% of the dirty south is within one degree of Wal-Mart, scary.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

You Did Good Johnny!

Reporting for duty! He let Bush have it. No doubt about it. Tomorrow, the right -wing pundits will call it the most viscious attack given at a political convention ever. Hardly, but all they have to do is say it, and like Kerry told the convention, it doesn't make it so. He was forceful, and eloquent. I, for one, feel much better about the ticket now that I've seen the message played out over the last four days. He spent a lot of time on Iraq and homeland security. And for good reason, Americans are wary, we keep hearing about various plots and threats and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The second half of the speach was on social issues. Kerry vowed not to privatize social security. "Help is on the Way" was the theme. Kerry asked, "Where is the conscience of our country?" In the towns and cities across the land. Health care is not a privlege it's a right, I couldn't agree more.
Kerry looked in the television and addressed President Bush directly, appealling for a more civil debate over the next few weeks.
Kerry said he didn't wear his faith on his sleeve. My favorite line on this night was when he quoted Lincoln; I don not pray that God be on my side, I pray that we be on God's side." Amen to that. This was a re-invigorated John Kerry, he may not be smoldering with charisma, but he no longer looks like a dead guy in front of the mike. The only hitch, the balloons, the damn balloons.
Next stop New York City, for the GOP lovefest.

Politics as usual...

Benjamin Disreali once said, "In politics, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics." And that was in 19th century England, who knows what he would think about today's poisonous atmosphere. I mean, how can you discuss an economic strategy, when you start off calling the oposition a rapist or worse, murderer. Who cares about capital gains if you believe the other person should be in jail. What kind of debate is that? No debate at all. I want what's best for my country and if somebody doesn't agree with me on the way to best achieve that, fine, we can discuss it. But if all there interested in is ad hominen attacks on a particular person, then leave me out of it. And I know both sides are guilty including me. Let's raise the level of debate. Let's get away from politics as usual.

When Johnny Comes Marching Home...

The plan is for Kerry to walk through the convention floor on his way to the podium. His first stop on the way, the Missouri delegation. Missouri has voted for the winner in every presidential election since 1948. So good move John, get some of that "show-me-state" mojo on your sleeve on your way to your acceptance speech. The Kerry camp is saying that his speech should last around 55 minutes. That's political speak for, over an hour. I hope this thing doesn't drone on and on. This will be Kerry's last oportunity to speak directly to the American people, and the last thing he wants to do is bore the shit out of them. There aren't that many un-decided voters out there, so he needs to set himself apart some how. But he doesn't want to go to negative, he has to walk that fine line between pointing out the problems of the current administration, and letting people know what he would do different. A few people, who may not be thrilled with Bush, still need a reason to vote for Kerry. We will just have to sit back and see how it goes. I'm on pins and needles.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky

Sounding like an old-time country preacher, John Edwards laid out his plan for one America, at the Democratic National Convention. He began by toutinng John Kerry's Vietnam service and heroism. He ended by repeating the mantra: "Hope is on the way!" Amen to that. We are Americans and we choose to be inspired, Edwards told the rapt audience, because in America anything is possible. This was a very positive speech, not once mentioning the Bush administration. No attacks whatsoever, a tactic I doubt we'll see next month in New York, when Vice-President Cheney gives his address. My favorite line of the night was, "The stars and stripes wave for them, the word hero was made for them," when referring to the men and women serving in Iraq and Afgahnistan. All in all it was a good speech, I was worried there at the end when Edwards started sweating, he became a little shiney, it was a kind of distracting. Barack Obama's speech last night was better, just more energy. Tommorrow night, Kerry will speak, perhaps Edwards toned it down a bit so as not to overshadow the star. Hope is on the way! Hope indeed.

Johnny good....

Night number three of the Democratic National Convention. John Edwards, come on down! He's got a tough act to follow, actually two of them, Bill Clinton, kicked things off with flair monday night. Barack Obama kept the vibe flowing Tuesday night. Now we have Edwards. Keep it coming man, don't let us down. Bushies refer to Edwards as the Breck girl. He does have good hair, but come on, not that good. I think Sam on Cheers said it best; "Good looks can open doors,but good hair can blow 'em off the hinges." If this election were decided on hair alone, well it'd be over already. Now that I think about it, Democratic Presidents always have better hair. Think about it, Eisenhower- almost completely bald, Kennedy-great hair, LBJ-well, ok not that great. Nixon-could have been worse (hair wise), Ford-forget about it, Carter-back then, hair for days, Reagan-too much product, but not bad, Bush I-a little thin on top, Clinton-good, but not great hair, Bush II-a fine head of hair, no brain.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Barack Obama

Monday night when Bill Clinton spoke, it was good, and what more did we expect, of course it was good. A seasoned politician, in his element, surrounded by people who love him, yes he was good, very good. But he wasn't the best. The best, so far, was Tuesday night. For those of you who missed it, shame on you. Barack Obama was electrifying. He was on fire. He gave the best convention speech I've seen since Jesse Jackson's '92 speech in which he kept wailing "in jail", when refering to the hopelessness most inner-city youth's felt at the prospect of either spending the rest of their lives on the streets or spending the rest of their lives in jail.
Obama's speech was not pessimistic. He spoke of the things that unite this country. He spoke of how a man, born in Africa, and who moved here, to raise a son, and raised in America, can rise up and allow his son, to run for the Senate. He stressed the unity in this country, "there is not a liberal America, and there is not a conservitive America, there is a United States of America." He spoke of hope and optimism, the themes that, I believe will carry the democrats to the White House in November.
The only misstep the dems might have done Tuesday night
was allowing Teresa Heinz Kerry to speak last, rather than Obama. The schedule of Obama, Ron Reagan jr. & Teresa Heinz Kerry, should have been Ron, Teresa, and then Barack Obama. But, oh well, that's what a marriage is all about, right, compromise.
Stay tuned race fans, I got a feeling John Edwards speech Wednesday will be something to see. Mark my words.

Mr. Bill Goes To Boston

Now that's what I call a speech! He was animated, he was self-deprecating, he was effusive, and he was right on the money. Bill Clinton gave a hell of a speech last night no matter what your political stripes are. When I heard Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop Thinking About Tommorrow", I have to admit, a few tears welled up and I got a big ole lump in my throat. Back in '92, when I was a 21 year old hipster, I thought that was an awful campaign song. Now, it represents, at least to me, the optimism and hopefulness of that time. The first baby-boom president, the first rock-n-roll politician. Those were heady times.
Now, no one will confuse John Kerry with being a rock-n-roll president, if elected, but the optimism is still there. The hopefulness is still there. These are themes the Democrats would do well to keep at the forefront. I have to say though the best line of the evening didn't belong to Bill Clinton, but rather Al Gore, when he said, "...every little boy and girl can grow up and win the popular vote one day..." That and "... I don't want you to think that I lie in bed at night, counting and recounting sheep."
I'm really looking forward to hearing Barack Obama from Chicago speak tonight. He's running for the senate, and if elected, will be the first African-American to serve in that body. So the voters in Illinois, will get a good look tonight along with the rest of the country at this rising star in the Democratic party. Howard Dean is also speaking tonight, and if he doesn't let out an impassioned scream at the end of his speech, he doesn't have a hair on his ass! I think it would be great to poke a little fun at his famous screeching punctuation after his disapointing showing in the New Hamshire primary. Regardless, I'm sure there will be a few surprises tonight, after all Terasa is speaking, and you never know what she's going to say. And for the love of God, please don't mis-quote her, she'll bite your head off man.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Let's Get This Party Started Right!

What better way to kick off the Democratic National Convention than with a key-note address by our man Bill. I say "our" because even you right wing religious nuts and heartless capitalist fiends benifitted greatly from his economic plan. (Surplus anyone?) So yes he was your President too even if you voted for Bush or that other guy back in "92. Even if you were shooting abortion doctor's and fire-bombing clinics you were still able to find a job sweeping up at the Quickie-Mart. Jobs were plentiful during Clinton's watch, remember.
The speech I'm looking forward to the most will be Wednessday night, when John Edwards speaks. He gives a fiery stump speech that is sure to get the faithful going. A perfect contrast to the staid John Kerry. Yes, I wish Kerry were more charismatic. That could only help him get his message out. But that's no reason to not support him. Bland or not, he is the man for the job. He knows a little something about the military and how to use it, and how not to use it. What Kerry needs to do is work on his change-up. Ouch! Nice pitch, bland boy. Now get out there and round up some votes!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

"He's not coming home to Toledo..."

 I was watching Bill Maher on Larry King tonight, and he really summed up one of the main problems with Bush.  Maher was referring to Bush's "born again" Christianity and how this belief that Christ will only return when Israel is restored and how this shapes his foreign policy.  Maher describes two different outlook's in our country.  One group wants to cut open a chicken and "read its entrails" to find the direction the country should go.  The other group looks at a compass to find direction.  Ron Reagan Jr. referred to this as anti-intelectualism, when describing the administrations ban on stem cell research based on religious reasons.  And where are all these people who think like this.  Why are Bush's poll numbers so high, albeit falling, still around 50%.  He should be limping out of office, instead this is shaping up to be as close as the 2000 election. 
Also, today the 9/11 commission report was released.  You know what is most stunning, not one person has been held accountable for the failures on that day.  Not one person has ever been fired.  I guess there are a couple of people we can fire November 2nd.       

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Neo-con's Checklist

One only has to look at a map to see the next logical choice for the neo-conservatives "mid-east make-over."  With the fleet headquartered in Bahrain, one can stand facing Northeast , out over the Persian Gulf, to your extreme left you have Iraq, to your extreme right you have Afghanistan, and right in the middle, low and behold Iran.  Already we are hearing talk of a connection between Iran and 9/11.  It's as if the groundwork is being laid to prepare, should the election go their way, for an invasion sometime next year.  Why are we just now hearing about this? 
Well, for starters, the American people wouldn't have stood for an invasion of Iraq, if it became clear that the evidence pointed to Iran.  No Iraq was always their main goal, even before 9/11.  And after 9/11, the case had to be made, for an invasion.  There was always this undercurrent of chatter about some sort of link between Saddam Hussien and al-Qaida.  Followed by weak public denials that such a link existed.  The administration allowed the public to believe the link existed so as to support the invasion.  That, along with tales of WMD, and neighbors being threatened gave them all the justification they needed to go into Iraq. 
But 9/11 is the administration's ace in the hole.  The fact is, it's a lot more plausible that Iran would have some sort of link to the hijackers because of it's religious extremism.  And Iran does seem to have a more robust weapons program.  So now that we have purchased the Iraqi bag of goods, the hard sell, it's time to poney-up for the Iranian bag of goods, the soft sell. 
There's only one way to stop it, throw these guys out of office.  Let's bring some rationality back to our foreign policy.           

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Do Not Go Gently....

Everyday the news is the same.  More bombings.  More bodies.  And for what?  I hope people remember what is at stake this November.  I hope people don't become numb by the daily barrage of coverage.  Body after body, this is human life.  Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters.  Everyday.  Killing.  Killing as social policy.  Killing as a way of life.  Killing for profit.  Death permeates the atmosphere.  Always remember.  Never forget.  We owe the dead at least that much.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Honkey Tonks & Donkey Dicks

The weekend really kicks off in Memphis on Thursday.  At least during the warm summer months.   I was walking back to my apartment tonight around 11pm and as I was crossing the street, I could over hear the conversation between this redkneck pick-up driving dude, and these 20 something, slightly tipsy chics.
Hey, where y'all going?
Am I following ya?
If you wont.
This kind of flirting is cool in Memphis, as it is in a lot of the dirty south.  I've witnessed similar scenes in Atlanta and Nashville.  Can you imagine seeing that in New York or Chicago?  People are approachable here.  They want to talk to you and they want you to talk to them.  So the act of rolling down your window and striking up a conversation happens without the slightest hesitation.  I once raced up next to a car, gave a honk and an enthusiastic wave, thinking I knew this person only to find out; not the right person.  Actually, a complete stranger, but they waved back, albeit somewhat hesitantly but still they waved.  They waved, I think, because they knew I was sincere.  They knew I wasn't just fucking with them, that I really thought I knew them.  Or, they thought I recognized them from somewhere, and so as not to be rude, they waved.  Politeness is a big deal in the dirty south.   As well it should be. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Bush Twins Interview (an excerpt)

Vogue: So tell us about your dad?
Babara: Well, he's hilarious. Very funny.
Jenna: Yeah.
Vogue: What about your grandparents?
Babara: You mean the ones who were president and first lady?
Vogue: Yes. Those grandparents.
Babara: Oh, they're hilarious.
Jenna: Yeah.
Vogue: Tell me about your mom.
Babara: Well, she's a clean freak. But very funny.
Jenna: Yeah.
Vogue: So, why should people vote for your dad?
Babara: Cause he's like our dad and stuff.
Jenna: Yeah.
Vogue: Thanks a lot girls, it's been a pleasure talking to you.
Babara: Yeah.
Jenna: Yeah.

Here's a joke. How many members of Vice-President Dick Cheney's energy task force does it take to screw in a lightbuld?

None of your goddamn business!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

London Calling

In three weeks I will be in swinging London. When I come back, is anybody's guess. Today it was 10000 degrees in the city of Memphis. It's burning up here in more ways than one. So if I can manage, I will never come back. Maybe I'll get a job working on a boat on the Thames. Or maybe I'll wash dishes in some dodgey pub. I have a friend who lives there, I'm sure he could put me up for a while. I also have family, sort of, who live there. My brother married an English girl and her family, I'm sure, would allow me to stay for a while. I could cultivate contacts all throughout Europe. Hitch-hiking around, Hulk-style, doing odd jobs, and helping people out by getting incredibly mad and smashing something, or in my case incredibly drunk.
I do know my way around boats, and Europe is a very boat-friendly environment. I took what seems like a lot of French classes, but can't speak any. I am going to Paris though, for sure. I'll be in the city of lights for two nights. Left bank, ex-pats, smarmy French attitude, I can't wait. And then there's the incredible works of art, magnificent cathedrals, and universal health care, which hopefully, I won't need. Aside from some psychiatric help. It will be great, it will be my first time there, and it won't be as hot and humid as it is here. And I hear they like people from the dirty South, cause of Elvis and all.

My cat Albert taught me how to cry.

When I was 13 my cat Albert, ran away. After a few days, when it looked like he was never coming back, I started to cry. I cried so much I thought; should a 13 yr old kid be crying over a runaway cat like this? I roamed the neighborhood after school, day after day, looking for him, calling his name. I would sit and stare out the window waiting for him to walk up the driveway. And then I would cry. I never found him. He never came home. And eventually I stopped crying.
I've cried a few times over the years. I cried once when I watched a documentary about the life and death of John Lennon. I cried the day after Sept. 11th. I don't cry at funerals though. Which makes me feel guilty. And I always think about my cat Albert at a funeral. And how I was so worked up then, but not emotional now, at my aunt's or grandfather's funeral. I wonder what that means. I haven't cried in a long time. Although I did tear up when I watched Fahrenheit 9/11.
I always felt better after a good cry. Maybe I should do it more often. Maybe I should get another cat. Maybe not, they always run away.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Mr. Bush Makes a Choice

I saw the news today of the President defending his decision to invade Iraq. He acknowleged that no weapons of mass destruction have been found, but went on to say he had a choice to make. He could believe Saddam Hussein, or defend America. That, according to Bush, was his choice. DEFEND America? Doesn't it say something in the oath of office about defending the constitution ergo, America, our way of life? It's a nice turn of phrase, but the fact is, he had no choice at all. He's supposed to defend America, no matter what his other choices are. But he constructs his argument in such a way so as to make it appear he had no choice but to invade Iraq. "I didn't believe Saddam, so I had to invade." Interestingly enough, Saddam, at least as far as weapons of mass destruction were concerned, was telling the truth. Bush wants it to seem as if people who opposed the invasion are somehow sympathetic to Saddam. An all or nothing proposition that has absolutely no merit. Nobody supported Saddam. He had no friends. At one time, the world was united in its dealings with him through the UN. But all that changed when W became President. God help us if he stays on for another term!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Blank Dot of Self-Expression

Sometimes it would be nice if our emotions were like the period at the end of a sentence. Obvious, in plain sight, and not over-bearing. I have this problem of focusing too much on one thing. Focusing to a point, a dot, a blank dot. Now this creates an illusion of no emotion, or too much of one emotion. This brings on a stasis in your expression, your mood, and the tension created feeds on itself. It becomes a vortex, you can't get out of. You tell yourself you're really not like this. And you worry, will I feel normal again? What does this blank dot say about me? About who I am? Is this the real normal me? And the rest of the time I'm just faking the normalness?
So in this state, the blank dot makes you appear in a zombie-like state, or obsessive and agitated. People do notice that something is wrong, and in turn you avoid people. You make up an excuse not to go somewhere. You let the phone ring. You tell your folks you're working and can't make it. The short term relief is quickly overtaken by guilt. The vortex continues. At this point you start to worry. Some people drink. (guilty) Some people sleep or just lay in bed. (guilty) Some people eat. (guilty) Or sometimes you can't eat. However this behavior manifest itself, it's not healthy. And it helps maintain the blank dot. The blank dot of self-expression is depression, and it happens to everybody I know, every once in a while. And it's happening to me now. Writing is the only way I know to get over it. Talking to friends sometimes helps, but I don't want to be diagnosed and given advice. And if you don't feel better right away, then it becomes a whole thing about, "why don't you just get over it" or they make a bigger deal than it really is. So I write. Ordinarily, this wouldn't see the light of day. The best blogs aren't the very personal ones, in my view. But I wanted to add something, I haven't updated in a while.
It's amazing how this works, cause I feel better already.
Well, not that good, but, better...