Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The long ball

or, Waiting for a good reception opportunity,
or ,
Can’t the democrats be slightly less stupid?

The problem with the democrats isn’t just the leadership. I don’t really understand why Bush was greeted with protesters in Denver on Tuesday, in the beginning of the holiday season. The people who already agree with the protesters already agree with them, and can be counted on to continue to vote democratic or stay home in disgust, as they see fit. But there are a lot of other people out there, who, like cable tv-engorged lab rats, will see the protesters protesting this and that, and, tuning out the actual words...

They’ll just see them as no-good liberal protesters, protesting at the start of the holiday season, and conclude that the noisy opinion-mongers on Fox News(and CNN, and MSNBC, and most of talk radio...) are right, that those no-good liberals hate Christmas. (And freedom. And America, and numerous other things...) When Cindy Sheehan was finally arrested in October, that strategy achieved what it could and had run its course, for the short and intermediate term.

Look: I don’t know if George Bush jnr is evil or not. But I imagine that if he is, he’ll probably be just as evil in early January. If you don’t believe me, just wait four or five weeks.

(And parenthetically, if he really is just the puppet of Cheney and Rumsfeld and the oil companies, wouldn’t offering him a plea bargain to rat out the real villians make more sense than impeaching him? Even big oil would probably be more than happy to leave Cheney and Rummy out in the cold if it left them comparatively unscathed. It's the American way, and winter's coming.)

It’s pretty simple. Mile-high city-- think John Elway. The democrats, on the few occasions they have the ball, tend to have a poor field position. Why, I don’t know. Possibly because

a.they’re stupid, and fail to capitalize on the wealth of issues on which they hold common ground with most voters, or
b. their opponents cheat, and
c. nobody has told the refs about those naughty voting machines that are said to do creative things with the instant replay thingie.

So: If you have the ball, and you have a poor field position, should you

a.perpetually badger the refs(and the fans) about the other guys going offsides, or

b. wait a while, for a wide receiver who’s worth a damn to get open, and go long?
image courtesy Sports Illustrated.

Fortunately for me, I don’t run the democratic party, because I think I’d have to fire the entire starting lineup, or darn near all of ‘em. I’d keep Georgia’s John Lewis and California’s Barbara Boxer(but not Diane Feinstein), Philly’s Chaka Fattah, and maybe a few others.
( If Paul Wellstone had a number, they’d have to retire his jersey.) As I said, fortunately for me, I don’t run the democratic party, and don’t have to worry about these things. But they could sure use a John Elway and a Terrell Davis right about now. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a Doug Flutie and a Gerald Phelan.

And yeah, I know, TD was a running back, not a wide receiver. There’s Shannon Sharpe, but I think he was a tight end. Work with me, ok? At least the Super Bowl isn’t held until after New Year’s. I got that part of the analogy right...

"Chanting, drumming protesters greet Bush"

By Jon Sarche, associated press writer.

DENVER -- About 300 people blew whistles, pounded on pots and pans and chanted "Impeach Bush" in a noisy but largely peaceful protest before President Bush arrived Tuesday for a fund-raiser.

Air Force One landed at Denver International Airport a few minutes after noon, and Bush left by motorcade for an appearance at the Brown Palace Hotel for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.

Protesters briefly blocked the path of two press buses that were trailing the motorcade, and some shouted and made obscene gestures before police cleared them out of the way. The motorcade was not blocked.

Musgrave, a second-term congresswoman, is considered by some GOP analysts to be among the party's most vulnerable lawmakers in next year's elections. She became a lightning rod for criticism by promoting a constitutional ban on gay marriage, a campaign she said she has put on hold while she runs for re-election.

Jeb Bennett, 51, carried a sign saying "Musgrave is Bush-league." He said gay marriage and other issues are being used to distract voters from more important matters.

Eve Ventrella, 31, said Bush's backing for Musgrave and her support for a gay marriage ban were the big reasons she attended the protest.

....Carla Lanza, 59, said the Bush administration has never proved its contention, voiced before the U.S. invaded Iraq, that Saddam Hussein had ties to al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 attacks...
"It's a culture of deceit, corruption and cronyism, all under the guise of patriotism and Christianity," she said between blasts on a whistle. "Where is the morality in permitting all these deaths of young people?"

©1996-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer and ©2005 AP, as far as I know.

Friday, November 18, 2005

a dispatch from France

Veronique X writes:

"Don't worry, this is no civil war, as usual journalism coverage is f**** around and then, it is not like LA 92, it is not a racial thing, and not Arabs as I said, I was being sarcastic...
It is sort of a ghetto problem, people living on the social system, no matter their origin, many of them, most of them have no North-African whatsoever origin.. Lots of them just white trash.. living in social homes but driving Mercedes and BMWs that they can afford thanks to drug dealing and all.. but they can't stand being labeled as such...
Others living there are victims of this all, the dealers, ghettos, and the discrimination; they are the victims of when they write where they live on a resume.. They got tired and got mad; unfortunately, this madness has affected the average Joe, barely making it with social welfare, trying to work hard and feed his/her family. The average Joe got caught in it, they lost their cars (burned down), i.e. their livelihood, so how are they supposed to make it to work and feed their kids??
Others, like us are tired of their taxes going to support some foreigners who manage while living in France to get social security money sent to their polygamous household and many children abroad."

Then there is pure racism on both parts, extremism, religion problems, fanaticism and people just getting fed up with living in dangerous areas..."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

some Wednesday evening thoughts ...

1. My good friend Veronique X (No relation to Holly X of Youngstown, Ohio, I'm sure)...

...wrote to me from her place in the French hinterlands to tell me she's ok. I was concerned.
(I met her here, in Texas, many, many years ago...

VX: Hey!

sorry. I met her here in Texas a few years ago. She worked in IT in th' DFW area at one time, then went back home. VX sent me an extensive email about her thoughts on the conditions in France since the riots. If she's ok with it, I may post an abbreviated version of her message later, this week or next.

France: the riots spread 7 Nov

(map of rioting hot spots in France-- I believe this was as of 7 November 2005.)

2. I wonder if my Yahoo account has been hacked.

3. Happy birthday Maggie Gyllenhaal.

4. in the meantime, I need to attend to sundry 3 dimensional matters, and will probably post very little the rest of this month. Read my incomprable archives, and feel free to give me buckets of money.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday middle eastern pop star blogging: the beauty of ordinary women

For many months my friend Don "please stop asking me where you can find a mechanic for your Fiat" Bintz has been urging me to do this FMEPS post, but I hesitated, because my Arabic is still not good enough to tell you what the caption says. A snippet of our ongoing conversation:

Don: Just crop it out.

JV: No. I want to ask Fayrouz, the lady from whom I got this image what it says, but I'm embarassed. Her politics, such as I can glean, are different than mine, and although I don't think that would bother her so much, she seems like a very busy person.

Don: then don't crop it out, whatever. Jonathan, you are smart, but you don't know everything. You speak Arabic, semi-fluently, but can barely read or write your mother tongue? Big deal.

JV: My mother's tongue. Not my mother tongue.

Don: Oh, that again. "I'm half-Arab and All-American?" Please. You should've gone into advertising. That makes you one-and-a-half people you know.

JV: I'm large, I contain multitudes. Didn't that poet you like say that? Hey, quit rolling your eyes!

Don: How can you see me rolling my eyes in cyberspace? And don't tell me that stuff about your
mysterious voodoo powers again.

incidentally: Texas proposition 2, the constitional amendment defining marriage as a thing between one man and one woman, passed with approximately 76 per cent of the vote, in case you were wondering. My understanding is that less than 20 per cent of the eligible voters bothered to participate. If , this past Tuesday, you were sitting on your ass watching repeats of Will and Grace, live in the Lone Star State, and are over 18, don't blame me. Also, keep in mind: If you think this makes Texas voters look backward to you, keep in mind that they rejected lifting the 28 per cent cap on interest that state banks can charge. And you know what those 2 propositions have in common? They both deal with the freedom of citizens to enter into contracts. Who cares?

[an addendum: Monday, 14 Nov 2005: Fayrouz has since informed me that the photo I had posted was originally from the AFP, and may have, in fact, been of two young ladies from a different country altogether. I apologize for my error. - JV]

Thursday, November 10, 2005

2 responses:

I will deal with Tuesday's election tomorrow. Comments are acting up, or so it seems, so here are
my responses to Invidio Pomorov and Micah Holmquist:

Ok, in order:
1.Welcome back Invidio. I genuinely appreciate your telling me that you offer to behave. I don't mind telling you the duck was beginning to get kind of peeved at my sending her off to worry this person and that, and I was worried she was going to just hole up in her trailer and make me deal with that SOB agent of hers. And as far as the elixir goes... I don't know-- we'll talk.

2. Micah: my goodness- such a long, thought out response-- it's longer than some of my posts! You honor me.

When Dante went to the underworld, he didn't call himself Virgil, so I'm thinking you are right. If I call upon the titanic spirit of the great Victor Hugo as my Avatar, I can't call myself Hugo when I go to Iraq.

I try to communicate to the great middle: there are TONS of people out there who do care about politics and get turned off by the condescending song-and-dance of the pigf***kers who lead both parties.

I was profoundly depressed in the summer of 2004, after the death of my mother in April and of my Grandmother in March, and it started to sink in around June and set in for a while. But I remembered the curious mixture of pity and disgust I felt for all those idiot liberal bloggers peeing all over themselves at what an incredible convention they had, and what a supposedly great speech Kerry gave.

Kerry was effing worthless, and even if it was filled with thousands of people, he was still in a pathetic echo chamber of liars lying to one another. Well-meaning? Sure. But so what?

The manliness issue about Kerry WASN'T the attacks by the Swift Boat veterans and what the Swifties said-- it was about his quisling response. Look guys,

I've lived in Texas since 1974-- I'll tell you exactly what it was about:

Kerry's response: he gave a little sissy-boy speech
about how he wanted George, jr to denounce the attack ads.


"C'mon buddy, tell those meanies to stop picking on me."
a duck Kerry Saluting

And all those idiot bloggers who got invites to wussy-o-rama 2004 and agreed to not notice that the Emperor Had No Balls.....then they were FUCKING BEFUDDLED BY THE BOUNCELESSNESS OF THE CONVENTION???

But at least they finally got a chance to meet each other and kiss the air next to each other's cheeks. But at least he saluted. He didn't defend himself, couldn't be bothered, but at least he saluted. In front of a nice safe audience...


forgive me. I usually don't like to curse in my blog-- it's exceptionally ill-mannered-- but this has been bothering me for a long time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

the Texas election, 2005

Today was ballot referendum day in Texas. I voted against prop 2, which is a Texas constitutional thingie that says, "...marriage is between a broad and a goofy white guy." Ok, it doesn't say white, or broad, or even goofy, but you get the idea. The local paper said that they expected an 11-12 per cent turnout. Some of the other initiatives looked noxious in their own right, including a taxpayer funded fund to help the railroads modernize their tracks in Texas where they had to pay for it themselves in the past, and another lifting the 28 per cent maximum interest Texas banks can charge on consumer loans, supposedly so that Texas banks can compete more successfully with out-of-state banks.

(In the past I've always tried to stick with local banks, not because they were "competitive", but because I'd rather do business with a small local bank than a corporation, and I doubt I'm the only person who looks at things that way. )

I WISH I was making this stuff up.

When he were looking for my name on the rolls, I asked the election judge who was waiting on me if the 11-12 per cent number sounded right. He told me that just at that polling place alone, 500 people voted within the past hour, so he thought the nos. would be higher. I thought I saw one of the persons from the mysterious maritime convenience store, a 23 year old guy whom I've known since summer 2002. Who knows, maybe people are waking up, taking an interest in the process, and all it took was the most corrupt and inept group of politicos in over a generation. But I'm not holding my breath for Hillary or any of the other presumptive big name democrats to be knights in shining armor come 2008.

Sat, 19 Nov: revised slightly for clarity.

Monday, November 07, 2005

through a glass darkly

the window-TAGD-2R
still from Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly, 1961.

I am writing this, asking for some input, hopefully not from the crowd that leaves messages in which they try to sell you fancy watches of dubious authenticity and similar wares.

When I started blogging way back in 2002, I looked around at what other people did, and I tried to do the same thing, writing about politics and other related matters. Gradually I came to feel frustrated, as I saw so many lefty bloggers who essentially did this:

Monday: According to this New York Times article, Bush sucks!
and numerous commenters would applaud.

Tuesday: According to this Washington Post article....[drumroll, please]...Bush sucks!

and again, numerous commenters would chime in, applauding the daring blogger speaking truth to power, etc.

This always bothered me, not because I thought that George Bush, jr and company were unworthy of any criticism, but because I realized there were numerous problems with this approach, an approach which is still commonplace.

1st: if you clicked on the highlighted link and actually read the NYT or Wash Post article in question, it was often a little more nuanced than the blogger who approvingly mentioned it would have you believe.(imagine that.) It helps, sometimes, if you don't just take someone's word for it. And besides, the liberal bloggers who insisted in drawing these unrealistic bright lines between "our good" and "their evil" were essentially doing the same thing that so many pompous conservos did, applying a simple-mindedly ad hominem label to the Times and the Post, albeit from a different angle. But simple-mindedness is still simplemindedness.

2nd: I didn't want to preach to a choir. I wanted, and still want, to communicate to people out there who aren't necessarily politically predisposed one way or the other, rather than preach to an echo chamber of liberals who've already made up their minds anyway. Besides, people who've already made up their minds, whether on the left or the right, tend to be insufferable bores, and I'd rather write and post interesting stuff for interesting people.

3rd: Finally, the smugness of this approach always irritated me. A lot of people out there don't understand your point of view because they simply haven't had things explained to them, and when they've actually tried to seek out someone to explain politics or a specific issue to them, that person or article or tv show left them confused or frustrated or annoyed, and so they tuned out. But far too many liberals automatically assume that anyone who doesn't agree with them is either stupid or mean, when other explanations are also possible...

So: tell me-- is my approach too opaque? Not opaque enough? Do you need more specifics? I try to write about politics and related things, sometimes directly and sometimes in an evocative, impressionistic way-- as I really dig evocation and the power of the image. And I hope I avoid smugness and snottiness.

Should I change the "Hugo" at the bottom of each post to "Jonathan Versen", since I started blogging under my own name on 1 August 2005? Does my still signing my posts "Hugo" confuse people? The "about me" section with the profile link on the top right should be enough, I think. Yes? No? I specifically try to write for the top intellectual decile of the blogosphere, and to others who may not consider themselves in the top 10 per cent, but want to be intellectually challenged, and aren't intimidated by someone who does this, or at least tries to. How am I doing?

(the title comes from Paul, in 1 Cor 13:12, if you were wondering.)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday middle eastern pop star blogging: Hilal

Hilal Cebeci, yet another Turkish pop singer-- this image is here via her fan club/official site:
"Hilal Cebecive"

Ok, I couldn't stay away. Somewhat ironically, just yesterday I ran into a very lovely lady who looks a little like Hilal, someone whom I hadn't seen in a while and I thought I'd never see again.

I've been meaning to post an image of Ms. Hilal for some time, but had difficulty finding one that struck me as not too risque´, as I felt ill at ease with some of the photos that she's posed for. Friday middle eastern pop star blogging is not simply about cheesecake appreciation sans irony-- I have a purpose, some might even call it a slyly ideological purpose, for FMEPS blogging. What, you may ask? That would be telling.

Ms. Hilal's website opens up with a soundfile, as do many of the official sites of sundry middle eastern pop stars. HZ, of course, does not, but does have a theme song:

Peter, Paul and Mary's, "I dig rock and roll music"(for years I thought it was a song by the Mamas and the Papas, because of the mention.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

you must remember this

Louis Renault- esl bill frist

Casablanca, 1942:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

Washington, 2005:

Bill Frist, M.D.: "About 10 minutes ago or so, the United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership! Never have I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution. They have no conviction. They have no principles. They have no ideas. This is a pure stunt."

"...This is an affront to me personally. It's an affront to our leadership. It's an affront to the United States of America!... for the next year and a half, I can't trust Senator Reid."

the second purdy speech is excerpted thanks to Rex Reed Dana Milbank of the Washington Post,

in "democratic maneuver sends Frist, GOP into apoplexy".

Ok, to be fair, Milbank does wink a bit. But those, foolish realpolitik-challenged persons will think he's making fun of Frist's powerlessness in the face of a show of spine. Man I need to start selling real estate.

me tired. me not blog for 5 days. me got housecleaning to do. me may come back with funky new style. me may learn grammar, come back mighty classy. me not decide just yet. me get back to you on that. in meantime, U read incomprable archives, especially since 1 Aug 2005.

[revised slightly, from the 1 November 2005 original, in hopes of a PG-13 rating.]