Friday, July 29, 2005

The universe mocks me.

The job market is so bad that I have stooped to considering temp jobs in faraway suburbs, the commute to which would most likely cost me more in time, aggravation and money than the job is worth. That's where my job hunt stands. Anyway, when calling about one such job (in Malvern, may the Seven protect me), I was placed briefly on hold, during which time I was treated to Whitney Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You."

Not only was that the longest fifteen seconds in my life, but it was a little billet-doux from the universe that read, "Remember: Things can always seem worse."

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Great Idea

Hey, check out the Christian Exodus, which aims to move enough conservative Christians to South Carolina where they can muster the political power to turn the state into a theocracy.

Personally, I think this is a marvy idea, particularly since the commonwealth of Pennsylvania sends more students to Bob Jones University than any state other than Michigan and South Carolina itself. If we can help promote the Exodus, that will drain a good number of the kooks and slap-nuts out of Pennsylvania (and other states), leaving behind a saner electorate to make laws and elect politicians. In addition, sensible South Carolinians, rightly disturbed by this influx of loonies, will move to other states, thus increasing their not-crazy quotient. Finally, the Christian Exodus, if successful, will concentrate most of the God Squad in a single area that's easier to fence off, regulate, avoid, and, if necessary, nuke. I don't know about you, but I like my crazies right where I can see 'em.

(Note: For those who might be alarmed by the next-to-last sentence, I don't really want to destroy conservative Christians via nuclear power. However, given the bigoted nature of the Exodus' intended audience, I wouldn't shed a bitter tear if those fuckers wound up riding the rocket, either.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

It feels good, but is it?

Here's the situation. The NYPD is conducting random searches of the bags of would-be subway riders at selected stations. Those riders who choose not to submit to the search may leave the station, but may not board the train.

Let me see if I've got this right. Tom Terrorist is entering a subway station in Manhattan, and is stopped by a police officer who asks to look in his bag. Well aware he's carrying an explosive, Tom refuses. The nice officer asks Tom to leave, and Tom does so. He then walks five blocks uptown and boards the same train via an unguarded station, bomb at the ready.

How does this make anyone safer? Seems to me the only terrorists this screening will catch are those who wish to be caught, or who are foolish enough to attempt to force entry to a station. I don't claim these searches are unconstitutional, but I have to question their value. In fact, I could say the same of many of the security measures instituted since 9/11/01, except for the not-being-unconstitutional part. I sense that these steps are taken not to actually decrease the threat of terrorism, but to make we, the taxpayers, feel as though our government has things in hand. Truth be told, I'm more worried about what the government has firmly in hand (banning gay marriage, giving tax breaks to the wealthy, making the world safe for big business), than what it doesn't.

You know, I used to believe in the power of federal government to improve lives and make things fairer. After five-plus years of Republican power abuse, I'm now starting to believe in limited federal power and greater state control, because if I don't like what Pennsylvania does I can move across the mighty Delaware for relief. It's alot harder to move across the mighty Atlantic, you know?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Media discovers spines.

The White House gets some tough questions. Check out this transcript of a White House press briefing, and watch McClellan wriggle his way out of answering the tough questions of a press that seems to have finally reawakened.

Heh...when they circle the wagons and dodge the questions, you know something's gonna hit the fan, and it's not sweet, sweet chocolate.

Monday, July 11, 2005

This one is rich

Politics is often amusing, but the recent pay raise for the Pennsylvania legislature has provided me a good chuckle. Here's what I consider to be the highlight of the article...

"We deserve it," Rep. Frank Oliver (D., Phila.) said as he walked out the House chamber at 2 a.m. moments after the body voted, 119-79, for the raise. "See what time we are getting out right now."

And I imagine he said this with a straight face.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Yay Slate!

I saw this really neat article on Slate today. Here are some of the highlights, and my commentary on same.

"Instead of ratcheting up the threat level and along with it public fears, Chertoff should have told Americans what he most certainly knows: that national security officials and local police have been worried about a subway or train attack since last year's bombings in the Madrid transit system, and that they have little reason to be more worried now."

Yup. (I realize that's not much commentary. Live with it.)

"Look at how the British are handling these attacks. Their endurance of the Irish Republican Army's 30-year terror campaign has made them masters at picking up the pieces after an attack and moving on. Did they institute a national alert today? No. Did they close down the subways indefinitely? No. Some theaters canceled shows scheduled for tonight, but that was a small and sensible measure taken to lessen the pressures on London's transportation system as it stretched to the limit to get people home from work. Could we possibly expect this sort of sane moderation had Los Angeles been the bombers' target rather than London?"

Nope. All air traffic into and out of the West Coast would likely have been stopped, Congress would have gone into special session and Tom DeLay would probably have called for Arab-American internment camps.

"In addition, the attack revealed the limits of the terrorists' technical capabilities. The bombings involved relatively crude and conventional weapons. They were no more sophisticated than the twin African bombings of 1998 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, which suggests that for all their claims, the jihadists don't yet have weapons of mass destruction."

And yet in America the very word "terrorist" prompts people to yank their kids out of school, give up their constitutional rights, and vote Republican. Personally, I'm more worried that the jokers working the TSA security line at the airport will put me on the do-not-fly list because they take a dislike to me than I am that a terrorist will try to blow me away. After all, my chances of running into a terrorist at the Philadelphia International Airport are almost zero, whereas I am 100% certain that I'll have to deal with the TSA.

By overpromising security—and implying that Democrats neither understood terrorism nor were prepared to fight it—the Bush administration has given itself little choice but to overshoot in response to any terrorist attack anywhere. Chertoff's response today was about one thing: cover. If there is an attack on the Washington Metro tomorrow, the federal government will be able to say to commuters, "Well, we warned you."

I'm sure glad that our government is engaged in a game of cover-your-ass. Next they'll call the Democrats poopyheads, or Bill Frist will challenge Harry Reid to a fight in the schoolyard at recess. Mother of all creatures great and small.

By the way...for what it's worth, a big "yay!" to the people of the city of London, who showed maturity and grit in response to these dreadful bombings. I only know one Englishman well, but I see that his levelheadedness is not uncommon among his countrymen.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Now I say something about London...

I'm going to London (which is my favorite place in the universe) in a few weeks, and the news today about the bombs hit me fairly hard. It hit me hard in two ways. First, the fact that (at least) 10 people are dead and anothger 150 who set out for work today are now in hospitals with I-don't-want-to-think-about-what injuries. Second...well, my friend Gary said it best:

"Our irresponsible action in Iraq has served only to provide cause and training grounds to those who are determined commit such acts."

He was talking about his own government, but the same could be said of mine.

Terrorists are running around like jackals, blowing up buses and ramming planes into buildings, and the world's sole remaining superpower is fucking around in Iraq in a conflict that is only tangentially related, if at all, to anti-terrorism efforts. This would make an interesting novel, but in real life it just sucks.