I am afraid for tonight

Tonight is the first Pres­i­den­tial Debate. I am afraid. Read­ing this arti­cle in the Wash­ing­ton Post only makes me more­so. If this elec­tion has real­ly come down to the debate(s), would­n’t we be bet­ter off with John Edwards up there instead of John Ker­ry? He’s bet­ter in front of a cam­era, he thinks on his feet, he nev­er mis­steps, he’s got that megawatt smile…

I wor­ry.

The people voting for George W. Bush

Intel­li­gent Repub­li­cans or oth­er­wise con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers are re-reg­is­ter­ing as Inde­pen­dents, announc­ing they will not vote Repub­li­can, or out and out say­ing they will vote for Ker­ry as the bet­ter of two bad (in their view) choic­es.

Here’s who I think are the peo­ple still vot­ing for George W. Bush.

Peo­ple who don’t under­stand finances beyond their own check­book. Peo­ple who don’t care about any com­mu­ni­ty beyond their own church. Peo­ple who are not exposed to any cul­ture beyond what they find on TV. Peo­ple who do not think for them­selves. Peo­ple who have no curios­i­ty, no desire to learn, noth­ing to reach for, no hope of any­thing bet­ter.

They want a leader who will tell them every­thing is all right, and will only get bet­ter. They want a Pres­i­dent who tells them that they don’t need to under­stand the details, because he’s tak­ing care of it. When he says, “I’m here to tell you that this coun­try is on the right track,” they feel com­fort­ed because they don’t have to decide for them­selves.

Hand them a dol­lar while you take two away from their schools/firemen/towns and they think they got a good deal. New­com­ers, out­siders, peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent are viewed with sus­pi­cion. They do not val­ue diver­si­ty, ques­tion­ing, or intel­li­gence. Instead they val­ue tra­di­tion, obe­di­ence, and loy­al­ty. And while those are good things, sure, they are not enough to sus­tain a vibrant, grow­ing, Demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety.

Do you know some of these peo­ple? Get them a vaca­tion to India. Or Brazil. Give their chil­dren books for birth­days. Show them pic­tures of your last trip. Tell them a fun­ny sto­ry about your black/white/latino friend. Get them to see that the world is larg­er than they think, but clos­er, too.

If you can, ask them why they believe what they do.


My weight

I’ve been mean­ing to write about this for, like, a year. At least it seems that long. When we had Aidan, I gained the req­ui­site preg­nan­cy pounds along with Tiffany. After he was born, what with the mov­ing, and the the­sis, and the mov­ing, and the sleep­less­ness, and the house sell­ing, and the house buy­ing, and the mov­ing… it kept on going up.

By August of last year, 2003, I weighed about 213 lbs. I’m 6′2″, for those of you keep­ing count, and before then, I had nev­er weighed over 200 lbs. When Tiffany and I were attend­ing reg­u­lar gym ser­vices (before the Life-Destruc­tor came into the pic­ture), I was hov­er­ing around 195.

So last year, about this time, we decid­ed to do some­thing about it. I start­ed fol­low­ing the Weight Watch­ers plan (Tiffany actu­al­ly attend­ed meet­ings, I just free­loaded). And I’m a believ­er. Not in the plan, nec­es­sar­i­ly, but in the prin­ci­ples behind it. By appor­tion­ing “points” to your food, and hav­ing a lim­it­ed num­ber of points you can use in a day, you are forced to think about what you eat. And a lit­tle active engage­ment in their own life nev­er hurt any­one.

Two things I noticed. First, I ate a lot of high-point foods (the usu­al sus­pects: Cin­na­mon Toast Crunch, Arby’s, and Hy-Vee deli food). Sec­ond, my por­tions were much big­ger than, say the aver­age two-per­son meal.

I now weigh about 188 lbs. Tiffany is down to below her pre-baby weight, which is awe­some. She’s been very dis­ci­plined, and I only hope I have been help­ful.

We stopped tend­ing to our diet ear­ly this sum­mer, what with a lot of trav­el­ling and the like. At that point I weighed about 185 lbs. While nei­ther of us have real­ly gained back much weight since then, we both agree that we need to get back on the horse here.

The trick at this point is adding exer­cise to the mix, and nei­ther of us know how we’re going to accom­plish that. Maybe if I get up at 5:00 am instead of 5:30…

Ham and beans and pears with mayonnaise… yum!

Try spelling may­on­naise five times fast.

Tonight, we had a scrump­tious meal from Tiffany’s child­hood. It start­ed with a han­ker­ing for soup. Ham and beans, to be pre­cise. Then she added canned pears with may­on­naise and shred­ded ched­dar on ice­berg let­tuce, from last Christ­mas. And final­ly, our stan­dard corn­bread recipe from the Moose­wood Cook­book.

We had corn­bread fix­in’s (well, we had to make sour milk to use instead of but­ter­milk) and may­on­naise, but noth­ing else, so I was dis­patched to the store for pro­vi­sions. At the store I bought ice­berg let­tuce (the small­est, cheap­est, whitest ball of let­tuce I could find. Then I bought the most expen­sive can of pear halves on the shelf, the ones marked “Lite” and packed in grape juice con­cen­trate, instead of in heavy syrup. Final­ly, I bought two cans of Camp­bel­l’s Clas­sic Bean and Bacon con­densed soup.

It was sim­ply deli­cious. The soup may have been a lit­tle salty, but Aidan request­ed two more help­ings (and he’s get­ting it for lunch tomor­row, watch out bow­els!), and the pears were great. Easy to make and hard to beat.

Did Piper Leigh think nobody would notice?

Tiffany and i were cooking/watching Aidan, lis­ten­ing to the radio. Oma­ha’s local folk show was on (in the 4:00 pm hour on a Sun­day, what else would be on?) and they had as a guest a folk singer from Wichi­ta, Kansas. Her name is Piper leigh, and she has a web­site.

She intro­duced one of her songs, “You Left Too Soon”, and we missed the part where she either did or did not say that she’d writ­ten it. On her web site it does dis­tinct­ly say, “by Piper Leigh.” It also, hand­i­ly enough, pro­vides the lyrics, reprint­ed below, just in case, and a Real Audio file of the song. (Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the ram file seems to be bro­ken.)

As we half-lis­tened to the song, we both did a dou­ble-take. “Did­n’t that sound like the Indi­go Girls?” I asked. Tiffany agreed. So we paid more atten­tion, and she did it again. A lit­tle incred­u­lous, we kept lis­ten­ing, but after the song she nev­er made any men­tion of the Indi­go Girls. So we dragged out our CDs (how quaint, a fixed medi­um!) and qeued up Love’s Recov­ery.

And sure enough. Some­body copied some­body. And since all over it says that Emi­ly Saliers wrote the song, I’m guess­ing she’s not the one that ripped it off. Even the melody is a direct rip-off, where the words are the same.

Does this burn any­body else? ‘Cause it piss­es me off.

For your perusal, the lyrics, empha­sis mine, hov­er your mouse over the linked lyrics to see what the oth­er one sings…

You Left Too Soon, by Piper Leigh Oh how I wish we had a sec­ond chance So that we could change our cir­cum­stance Put some hap­pi­er words to this tune But nobody gets a life­time rehearsal Our deci­sions become uni­ver­sal The knowl­edge we have now is what we already knew Baby, you just left too soon Inse­cu­ri­ty is the wall I hide behind To let it fall would hurt your pride and mine How could I show my face beyond this room Guilt is the can­cer of my intel­lect The act of love is soon neglect­ed And lays dying in the strength of its cocoon Baby, you just left too soon Cho­rus You left too soon to know the won­der that your life would be The prophe­cy of God’s will come alive You left too soon to know the thou­sand things that make your life unique The har­mo­ny that heart and beat com­bine You left too soon to know that you were mine I see myself in younger days Count­ing the stars and map­ping the ways My life and love would be Watch­ing for curves and mis­di­rec­tion I put my faith in love’s per­fec­tion But there’s no future in a past that was­n’t meant to be…baby Cho­rus


Love’s Recov­ery by Emi­ly Saliers Dur­ing the time of which I speak It was hard to turn the oth­er cheek To the blows of inse­cu­ri­ty Feed­ing the can­cer of my intel­lect The blood of love soon neglect­ed Lay dying in the strength of it’s impu­ri­ty Mean­while our friends we thought were so togeth­er They’ve all gone and left each oth­er In search of fair­er weath­er And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast To the slim chance of love’s recov­ery There I am in younger days, star gaz­ing Paint­ing pic­ture per­fect maps Of how my life and love would be Not count­ing the unmarked paths of mis­di­rec­tion My com­pass, faith in love’s per­fec­tion I missed ten mil­lion miles of road I should have seen Mean­while our friends we thought were so togeth­er Left each oth­er one by one on the road to fair­er weath­er And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast To the slim chance of love’s recov­ery Rain soaked and voice choked Like silent scream­ing in a dream I search for our absolute dis­tinc­tion Not con­tent to bow and bend To the whims of cul­ture that swoop like vul­tures Eat­ing us away, eat­ing us away Eat­ing us away to our extinc­tion Oh how I wish I were a trin­i­ty So if I lost a part of me I’d still have two of the same to live But nobody gets a life­time rehearsal As specks of dust we’re uni­ver­sal To let this love sur­vive Would be the great­est gift that we could give Tell all the friends who think they’re so togeth­er That these are ghosts and mirages All these thoughts of fair­er weath­er Though it’s storm­ing out I feel safe with­in the arms Of love’s dis­cov­ery

The sheer, unmit­i­gat­ed gall. Does she think she made it bet­ter? Did she think nobody would notice? That some­one in a cre­ative pro­fes­sion would take anoth­er’s work and call it their own… it just floors me.

You know we’re in trouble when Pat Buchanan makes sense

We just watched our TiVo’ed copy of Meet the Press, and boy, am I floored. Who was that guy mas­querad­ing as Pat Buchanan? Bob Gra­ham (D‑FL), sit­ting next to him, could hard­ly believe it. He kept adding in, “Pat’s exact­ly right…” or “I agree with Pat…” Will Alan Keyes start sound­ing rea­son­able next?

Most shock­ing to me was when Pat made the point Tiffany and I have railed against for years. The Bush Admin­is­tra­tion con­sis­tent­ly plays on the fears of Amer­i­cans by say­ing that Mus­lim extrem­ists kill us because they hate our free­doms, and the Amer­i­can way of life.

BUCHANAN: “I believe it is our poli­cies, not our prin­ci­ples that are caus­ing these attacks.  Osama bin Laden was­n’t sit­ting in some cave in Afghanistan and stum­ble on the Bill of Rights and go bananas.  It is because of what we are doing. They attack us because of what we have done, not what we rep­re­sent. Maybe we sup­port those poli­cies, maybe we don’t. But the Admin­is­tra­tion argues that we don’t rea­son with ter­ror­ists because they are crazy, not because their demands are unrea­son­able. That is the height of irre­spon­si­ble.” ((See a full tran­script of Pat Buchanan’s out-of-body expe­ri­ence from 9/5/04.))

Any­way, I was left kind of speech­less by Buchanan’s argu­ments. If that real­ly was Pat Buchanan.

NYT shows some brass

Two days ago, the New York Times ran with a cov­er pho­to of the recent bus bomb­ing in Israel. They chose a par­tic­u­lar­ly bloody pho­to, with a dead woman hang­ing out the win­dow of the bus.

Times offi­cials are quot­ed as say­ing that they did it because “there are times when our read­ers would not be well served by a san­i­tized ver­sion of events.”

You go, gray lady.

From Newsdesigner.com, NYT’s Israel Pho­to, warn­ing, real life vio­lence ahead.

Have the Republicans won? Over my bloody corpse.

Tonight, Tiffany and I watched John McCain on The Dai­ly Show. He was, as he always is, rea­son­able, intel­li­gent, calm, and he deliv­ered a cou­ple of good jokes.

After­ward, Tiffany and I real­ly got into it over the fol­low­ing mat­ter: She believes the coun­try would be bet­ter off if there were more com­pro­mise between the par­ties. That is, if there were less polar­iza­tion in the coun­try. And I can­not dis­agree. While we lived in Iowa, she even gave seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to vot­ing for a Repub­li­can to rep­re­sent her in Con­gress, because he was mod­er­ate, rea­son­able, and believed in com­pro­mise. (This was Jim Leach, for you Iowans in the crowd.) He won hand­i­ly in a pret­ty lib­er­al dis­trict, prob­a­bly pre­cise­ly because of those char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Where I drew the line in our argu­ment, and where we even­tu­al­ly had to just agree to dis­agree, was this: I would always vote for a Demo­c­rat over a Repub­li­can, no mat­ter how mod­er­ate. It is a black or white issue for me. It was­n’t always that way, I must admit. As I reflect, there was a time when I might have vot­ed for a McCain or a Leach. I would sure­ly pre­fer one of them in office over DeLay or Bush. And yet, I would now rather see a Demo­c­rat than any of them, how­ev­er lib­er­al-like their posi­tions. Why? Because I’m not in pow­er. I don’t feel any need to com­pro­mise, in the name of a bet­ter coun­try. Let them take the first step. Until then, I will hold on to what I can of the envi­ron­ment, of social pro­grams, of edu­ca­tion and the rest, with my bloody nails.

McCain, Arnold, Pow­ell, Giu­liani… if they are so mod­er­ate, if they are so forth­right, why are they endors­ing Bush? How can they stand up there and declare that George Bush is lead­ing this coun­try true, and deserves to stay in office so he can con­tin­ue to lead us on this path? How can John McCain, who has declared on many occa­sions that this Admin­is­tra­tion took us to war under seem­ing­ly false pre­texts, and who has called for high­er account­abil­i­ty for the prison abus­es, how can he get up there in front of mil­lions of peo­ple and declare his uncom­pro­mis­ing sup­port for George W. Bush?

Oh, sure. The Par­ties are real­ly big coali­tions, and the mem­bers com­pro­mise their posi­tions in order to fur­ther the aims of the Par­ty. I get that, I even ascribe to that view of Amer­i­can two-par­ty pol­i­tics. But you can have a coali­tion with­out fawn­ing over the major­i­ty’s fig­ure­head. Maybe you could even attract more vot­ers if you show the world there’s room under the Big Tent.

But John McCain, and yes, Arnold, and Giu­liani, and Pata­ki, and the rest of them, they are stump­ing to be the next leader of their Par­ty. They are using this Nation­al Con­ven­tion to fur­ther their polit­i­cal for­tunes by toe­ing the Bush line. That seems a flim­sy plank on which to rest your ethics, and yet, McCain comes on TV and still plays up his “we must fight the war, not each oth­er” line. For that, I can­not respect him.

When the lib­er­als even­tu­al­ly come back to pow­er, then maybe I will be will­ing to spread the olive branch right­ward. Invite them to add some point to my hope­less­ly lib­er­al agen­da. But I can­not think of one piece of their Plat­form that I would be will­ing to accept in order to “mend fences.” They (they being Bush and his crew, but also those who qui­et­ly fol­low in his shad­ow) have tak­en impor­tant social pro­grams and envi­ron­men­tal pro­grams and Inter­na­tion­al good­will and ethics and the rule of law and ripped their heads off and spat down their necks and I say, screw ’em. If that is how they want to play, I will take my bruis­es and I will beat them.

Am I angry? Damn straight. Do I have any oth­er choice?

Do tell.