Is there any reason to believe that this economy is going to get better any time soon? I happen to belong to a certain stratum of the socioeconomic pile where my talents and education would be misapplied to the flipping of burgers but, then again, are insufficient to otherwise make a good damn. I have glimpsed prosperity from time to time, but always manage to do (or not to do) something that leaves me holding my johnson. I'll take the blame for that, but it won't make you any richer.
The President is pulling for that huge tax cut, but it ain't gonna help me. It'll put more money in the coffers of people who are so wealthy that their income from stock dividends is actually worth fighting over. Senate majority leader Bill Frist even went so far as to call the present scheme of taxation of stock dividends "immoral," but that's because he's a very rich man who is given to making such judgements when it comes down to the bottom line.
Well, here's my bottom line: if Bush and Frist want to pledge $15 billion to fighting AIDS in Africa, fine, but don't go thinking that that's going to divert our attention from a $400 billion tax cut for the champagne-and-caviar set.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 9:59 AM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 29 April 2003 2:11 AM CDT
Saturday, 26 April 2003
It's Official: The SARS Epidemic Is Boring Me
So quit talking about it, already! The only marginally interesting thing about it is watching some other giant world power (i.e., China) taking the heat for being so old-school. "You owe us A-number one expranation, buddy!"
Rauchen Ist Verboten
Yeah, sure I miss smoking. It's like my days are these huge blocks of unpunctuated, unindented text. And you really get a true outsider's view of your own conditioning, too: what should you be doing ten minutes or so after a meal? Didn't I just finish up a few chores and it's time to sit down and ---ahh, crap. It's always going to be hard, mate. One day at a time, recovering alcoholic kind of stuff, you know. I never knew my Daddy as an active smoker, but I only knew him as a recovering one. There was always a toothpick in his mouth or a half-dozen within reach. He had quit cold turkey with his partner in the Texas Highway Patrol, a guy called Al Chambers. It seems like Al was older than Daddy, but it must have been around the time that Daddy turned 30 that they were riding along and Al challenged him to quit smoking ---cold turkey. As I recall the tale, Al grabbed Daddy's Zippo and smokes and tossed them out the window of their patrol car and Daddy did the same to Al's. I think they must have thrived off of the competition. But it was a done deal before I ever came along in '69 because I never once saw my Daddy smoke.
Travelling in Europe, you can't help but be struck by how complete tobacco's influence is there. Italians practically smoke in church. They would never tolerate the kind of restrictions you see in a town like Austin, where you can't even smoke in bars until after noon, if then. I don't know. Keep on banning it and maybe people will wise up.
But, here's someting for my lefty friends to consider: you're always beefing about how these international supercongolmerates are taking over the world and destroying jobs and basically returning us to serfdom and villainy and, yet, without the slightest sense of irony, you willingly pay forty, fifty, a hundred bucks a month to multibillion-dollar companies like RJR and Phillip Morris to keep you on a leash. They've got you "sitting bitch" and lovin' it. The revolution starts at home, asshole. I done kicked the redcoats out.
Thinking About Pete Shelley's "Homo Sapiens"
Man, I wish I knew where to find that old video! That's early MTV, baby (early 1980s, back when MTV still played videos). In retrospect, I don't suppose it's possible that that song was not about being gay, but it couldn't matter less: it is every bit as cool as The Vapours' "Turning Japanese."
Anyhow, now that I have the set-up for some good old-fashioned Catholic-bashing (which they say is the anti-Semitism of the intellectual set), let's get back to Sen. Santorum and homosexuality. Here's a man who attends mass daily and apparently supports the doctrinal prohibition against homosexual love. But wouldn't you think that he has had, at least recently, some cause to doubt the legitimacy and logic of the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality? Ought he not see, as many other of his co-religionists have, that the Church is comprised of men ---mortal, grossly fallible men--- whose own practices have shocked the conscience of the world? The clerical orders and hierarchy of the Catholic Church are to homosexuality what a dank cellar is to mushrooms. Perhaps it is from the ranks of sexually-confused and guilt-ridden young men that the promise of salvation from the desires of the flesh is the most agreeable point of recruitment for the Church's next generation of priests. But, once locked into the embrace of virginity and celibacy (is there a truer form of atheism?), can there be any surprise what comes next? These are, as Margaret Sanger said, "men who know nothing of love or marriage." Of what value is their advice in such matters? If, on the other hand (as all the great Protestant patriarchs have understood) the clergy were allowed to marry and be the natural men that they are, then the impulse to homosexual degradation among heterosexual men would not occur and it would be strictly a matter of natural love between homosexual men where such an impulse did exist.
So what is the argument against homosexual love? That the Church or the Bible is against it? That can't be enough to anyone who thinks. That it's unnatural? Not to those who desire it. That it spreads disease? No one who knows the facts has made that argument in more than a decade. That is corrupts and persuades heterosexuals into also desiring it? Well, if you're a heterosexual man, for instance, who desires the intimacy of other men, you may want to take a long, cold look into your owner's manual and see just how straight you really are. Is it possible, outside the confines of a prison or some other cloistered environment, that a man who loves the sights, sounds, and sensations of women can be made gay? That's a monstrously stupid idea. It's not something you catch off of doorknobs, you know?
Like I always said, homophobes are the biggest faggots around. People, especially those in positions of power, need to let their fellow human beings be what they naturally are and stop freaking out on them with their doctrinal whip-crackery.
The Dirty MP
If you're a reader of the UK's Telegraph newspaper (and the Christian Science Monitor got in on the act today, too, with some details of its own), then you'll know that George Galloway, the Member of Parliament from Glasgow who vehemently opposed the war for Iraq and who called Blair and Bush war criminals, has been found to have been on the take from Saddam's government. He and his wife (not incidentally, a niece of the Palestinian terrorist-Nobel Peace Prize laureate Yasser Arafat) have been taking money from the oil-for-food program, a United Nations-created instrument by which Saddam was systematically starving his own people. If the documents on which this huge scandal hold up, Galloway will not only have condemned himself to a reputation as a traitor, but will have brought enough discredit upon the anti-war movement in Great Britain to last a generation.
Now for the question: why is this story not getting reported in the American press? Are you seeing it on the nightly news? How about Bill-Fucking-Moyers or NPR? Personally, I'm eating this stuff up like an ice cream cone in August. The only thing that could possibly be better is if the Clintons or Kerry or someone like them were found out to have been in the employ of Saddam. I mean, holy cow, people! You couldn't write stuff like this! Ha, ha, ha...
Nor Do I Care That John Kerry Is a Viet Nam Veteran
John Kerry, the Democratic U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, is a very creepy man and I wouldn't give him my vote for lounge attendant. He believes that he is going to be the next Democratic nominee for President ---and that may well be. But, all that will be good for is to supply a question for some future edition of Trivial Pursuit. I can't think of anything that will cost Bush the Younger his re-election.
I watched Kerry deliver some major address on C-SPAN a few weeks before the war began and it was utterly torpid. Jesus! He made Dukakis seem like a dynamo of wit and charm by comparison. Kerry is such a typical liberal: there's nothing wrong with anyone that the government can't make better by spending your money on it. AND LOTS OF IT!!!
Kerry is as much of a fence-sitting equivocator as Clinton or Gore or any other successful Democratic politician. He was wrong about the war and he is wrong about Bush. Who cares that he's a vet? Who cares that he's got nice hair? Remember: Kerry likes to be likened to his heroes in the Kennedy family, especially JFK. He's basically riffing off of John Kennedy's initials and haircut, but what does that mean to anyone except some nostalgic old Eastern liberal establishment types? This won't be the second coming, folks, no matter how much of his wife's money he spends trying to make you think otherwise.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I Give You....TARIQ AZIZ!!!
Back during the Gulf War of 1990-91, when I was a college boy and a lot more interesting than I am now, I used to tell all my friends that we should start up a heavy metal band called Tariq Aziz. After insisting on how cool this would be, I would then burst out into this preposterous air guitar jam, making these speed metal riffs with my mouth and singing, a la Lemmy (of Motorhead fame), "Everybody, eat my shit!!!"
Anyhow, I used to do this so much that I'll bet that there are several young men of my past and present acquaintance who, when they hear that THE Tariq Aziz has surrendered to the good guys today, will say, "Oh, yeah, that's the guy we were going to name our band after."
The Nut Jobs at the United Nations
Kofi Annan and Hans Blix must be tripping balls (or, maybe tripping over them) to believe that the United Nations has any moral or political authority in rebuilding Iraq. They have the temerity to demand a place in the peace in the aftermath of a war they absolutely opposed? They say that only the UN can confer legitimacy upon the government of a new Iraq? No one could be prouder than I am of Tony Blair's courage in prosecuting the war along with Uncle Sam, but there was never a chance that the President was going to give the UN any role that a competent etiquette consultant couldn't do more cheaply. Blair was said to be a dead duck for charging ahead as he did. Had single-digit approval ratings; now, he's more popular than John Lennon. And so the liberal British press and his own Labour party have set out another hurdle for him: make nice with the UN and, so, repair the breach with the UK's European pals. To hell with that. Bush may owe Blair a lot, but the line MUST be drawn at giving the UN any sense of a political victory. They didn't earn it: young American and British soldiers, sailors, and airmen did.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 4:08 AM CDT
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Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2003 6:09 PM CDT
Wednesday, 23 April 2003
What's all this, then? Apparently, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) has come down against the practice of homosexuality. Or, maybe that's the best I can do with ten broken minutes of Bill O'Reilly's radio program. Anyhow, I don't know what Santorum's deal is, but it's high time for him and the religious right to grow up about the whole gay thang. Attention, ladies and gentlemen: lesbians and homosexuals are out and about and ain't going anywhere. What, are you going to witness to them and set them back down on the straight and narrow? That is to ask: are you going to insist on the non-solution of artificial "change" of what is, to them, perfectly natural? Grow up.
The civil recognition of marriage was necessitated by the question of property rights (e.g., Who's a legitimate heir? What does a survivor inherit? Etc.). It also serves social cohesion by promoting the stability of the nuclear family (let's not kid ourselves about what marriage does to promote monogamy). Now, how are either of these issues mutually exclusive with the purposes of gay marriage and the free practice of homosexual love between consenting adults? It is the very limit of arrogance to deny homosexuals the benefits of marriage because they aren't heterosexuals. And it is outrageous that homosexual love should actually be illegal in the Great State of Texas. Why is that? What should the law care?
I personally find the idea of homosexual intimacy to be repellent and alien, but that's only because it would be an unnatural act for me. But not so for my homosexual friends; to them, what I would find to be natural and desirable would be distasteful (as it were).
But, what the hell? All this talk about homosexual and heterosexual is simplistic crap, as though the whole of a man's identity could only be understood by segregating the animal from the cerebral. The day must come that these identities are recognized and accepted. Nature demands it.
Turns out that, once you stop smoking, everything around you starts to smell bad. And then you feel sorry for the poor bastards around you, whom you can only hope have become so accustomed to the general malodorousness of every day life that they are not burdened, as you are, with all this rottenness.
Happy Traditionally-Assigned Birthday, Master Shakspere
Today is basically the 439th birthday of William Shakspere, Gent., of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. What a happy accident of History did this man meet with to be regarded still as the Author of the works of Shakespeare. It's not true, of course. He had no hand in those plays and poems, but you may as well believe it because, if you say otherwise, the humorless men in the white lab coats will come and shovel you off somewhere.
Have the Hook Now
Oh, I see. It's going to be the unborn child thing. Is Scott Peterson guilty of double homicide or just the one? Well, let's solve this right quick: the fetus was in its eighth month of gestation? In that case, it's not so much a fetus as it is a baby. And that makes it a double, bar-keep.
It's inconceivable that a man could do such a thing to his own wife and blood.
Just for the record, I am strongly pro-choice or pro-abortion or whatever the term. In fact, I encourage any pregnant woman anywhere who knows that she is unprepared for the responsibility of motherhood to do the right thing for herself and society and have the abortion. (Those who would, but don't, can hardly be truly reconciled to their choice later, can they?) Better it be done now and without surfeit of human attachment than to wait for that little darling to grow up and take my property at gunpoint.
But I'm talking about early on, not deep into the third trimester.
Really, my whole social philosophy can be derived from this one statement: anything that serves to humanely reduce or preclude the growing number of unwanted or disabled children in this world must be regarded as a social good. So, put on your jimmy-hats, take your pills, or just go beat your bishop or rock your gravy boat: you're all heroes in my Book.
Laci Peterson (Increasing My Traffic)
Alright, now, LOOK: when Orenthal Simpson murdered his ex-wife and her boyfriend, it was news (first) because he was famous. When JonBenet Ramsey was murdered by [someone who spent the time to make multiple drafts of a ransom letter on a notepad in her house, citing the exact amount of her father's Christmas bonus], it was interesting because ---well, who knew that rich suburban mothers sexualized their six year-old daughters that way? And when Gary Condit lied about his involvement with that nice Jewish girl, it was sorta interesting (to some) because he was obviously hiding something. Oh, and because he was a U.S. Congressman.
But what is the social or cultural relevance of the murder of Laci Peterson? What is the hook? I don't mean to be crass or glib or callous, but why is her murder of such excessive interest to this society? I know that she was pregnant and went missing just before Christmas, but is that what's driving this story? It's honestly a mystery to me. Yes, she was a beautiful woman. Yes, her disappearance (and, now, murder) are a great shame and difficult to understand. And, yes, her husband's behavior has been nothing but weird and disconnected...so maybe that's it. Maybe everyone knows he did it and have been waiting for the denouement. Well, here it is, folks. Now, how about killing the lights and letting her family grieve in peace?
When Does It Stop Being Physiological and Become Psychological?
Three, maybe four, times today already? Daydreaming about a cigarette, you know. How eminently reasonable it seems to gently pull a Winston from its pack, draw it past my nostrils a few times to enjoy the fragrance of unburnt tobacco, place it between my lips, take my lighter, and, concealing the whole marvelously sordid deed behind the screen of my left hand, light the end of that delivery device, and suck its smoke into my mouth where I let it waft out before the intake manifold of my nose. No more Ziggy Stardust sucking off into his mind, please. It's some sort of diabolical magnet. Grasp at the phantom object, look for the absent tool, miss the good tenth and forget the other bad nine. People don't quit because they know they can't. And will it help to recount what there is to regret and to count on what there might be to hope for? How much more pleasantly might I have passed this morning had I just allowed myself to revert to my old habit. Bah! Throw physick to the dogs! I'll none of it.
What Happened to KVUE 24's Bianca Balogh?
Anyone here in Austin know what happened to the oh-so-delicious Bianca Balogh? She was the heavenly vision masquerading as the weekend morning anchor on KVUE News. Jeeze, she didn't last long. Haughty and hottie don't always mix well.
Nothing to It
Smoked about a third of a bummed cigarette over at my friends' house tonight. Boring. There's nothing to it. And that's the attitude I need to keep. I hear that New Yorkers are pissing and moaning about Mayor Bloomberg trampling on their civil rights and making smoking such a pain in the ass, but so what? That's why I could never be a libertarian: because I don't believe that people know what's best for themselves in all cases. Is there any question that cigarette smoking is the single most destructive scam in the whole world? It's a long-term plot, but one worth pursuing: make smoking an anti-social habit and it will help poor bastards like me realize what needs to happen to help restore people's health.
Here in Austin, Texas, where we have a minimum of six months of summer per year, the role of TV weatherman has assumed an importance far in excess of its actual value. We have a lot of well-respected meteorologists working for the various network affiliates and they've all been here since I was a kid. You know 'em: Murray, Spencer, Kimmel, Smith, et al. Now, these guys have been around long enough to be secure in their presentations and they only take a minimum of guff from the anchors, whose job it is to segue into and out of them with witty badinage. Not that they're so great at forecasting; they suck at that as much as the newest of the new. But, the point is that they are only somewhat less likely than the second tier of meteorological talent to give into the mindless whining that's sure to come with even the slightest indication of rain or cooler weather. It drives me insane when one of these people clucks and moans about how it's going to rain, as though the very thought might destroy all our plans and force us into gloomy, inhospitable shelters. Oh, just shut up! We haven't seen an inch of rain for almost two months and your impulse is to complain about how the kids might have to have an Easter egg hunt under umbrellas? What crap! Let it rain! Let it be cool! We've got six months of 90 degree-plus weather around the corner and humidity levels to match. So shut the hell up, already!!!
As for the war...
I am and have been a steadfast supporter of the Bush Doctrine, which is apparently a policy of kicking the ass of those states and cabals which advocate the triumph of Arab and Muslim fascism and terrorism over the liberty-loving culture of the Judeo-Christian West. It's really no great leap or any sort of value judgement for which any thinking American should have to spend much time in contemplation: you either believe that speaking your mind freely is superior to being arrested and tortured for your dissent or you don't. If you want to equivocate and hide behind the academic pretenses of moral relativism and NOT, as George Carlin might say, "step on that fuck before it reaches the children," then you will awake to another 11th of September and find that your "tolerance" was a vector to the disease that now will kill you. But it's not just Islamofascism that endangers us. Same goes for that hydrocephalic degenerate running North Korea. He, too, wants to die and spare himself the shame of knowing his own inferiority, but he's so wrapped up in being North Korea that it is nothing to him that millions of his subjects should die with him before his funeral pyre, turning to terra cotta soldiers in a disintegrating nuclear wind.
Anyhow, I am very proud of and grateful to those good men and women in our armed forces who are paying the price asked of them. They are brave beyond words and we owe them our deepest respect.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 7:17 PM CDT
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Updated: Saturday, 19 April 2003 11:06 PM CDT
Props to The Corner on National Review Online
One of my favorite destinations on the internet is The Corner at National Review Online. Lots of rapid-fire, factoidal conservative goodness. I would certainly credit that blog with my desire to create my own here on Tripod. It should be a lot of fun. So long as I can overcome the great need to smoke a cigarette.
Posted by Toby Petzold
at 6:44 PM CDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2003 3:51 AM CDT
All Beware the Unsmoking God
I HAVE QUIT SMOKING and this web log is a mental toothpick or nipple or ice cube or piece of gum to help me resist the urge to SMOKE ANY AND ALL COMBUSTIBLE SUBSTANCES WITHIN MY REACH, BY GOD!!! Whew. It comes and goes like that. Long patches of calm (even nonchalance, oui?) punctuated by an urge to stick a long, smooth ---HEY! Cut it out. Now's no time for your gay impressions.
Anyhow, this is my web log. I'm not too sure if I'm doing everything correctly or if that contract I just agreed to doesn't include the surrender of my precious scrotality at some point, but we'll see.
It's a drizzly day here and I like it that way, see. Don't get me started on these meteorological hacks and the anchors who goad them. Sunshine, you see, is the very ideal. But, did you know that Christians call the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday Black Saturday? Is that true or is it just something I scraped off of cable access?