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What Would People Think?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ashok's long lost cousin?

Mike and Jeff -

Tell me whether you think this guy's voice sounds like Ashok (sp?) Krishnan's voice - except that this other guy is Christian. It certainly reminded me of Ashok. (The song comes up in a moment after you go to this blog.)

The blogger is a regular commenter on Kenny's blog. The singer is that guy's son.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Introducing Ching's Literary

My good friend Kenny Ching has created a second blog, dedicated to literary stuff....our own works and critiques and literary thoughts. It's called Ching's Literary. Hop on by. I've just made my first post, which should basically be a re-run to my long-time readers. But search around!

But first, read and comment on my long, rambling political analysis!

Why The Media's Line On Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont is Pure Bull

Senator Joe Lieberman is defeated in the Democratic primary by antiwar candidate Ned Lamont and - judging from the media reaction - you'd think the sky has fallen.

USA Today decries Lieberman's primary defeat as a sign that Democrats are seeking partisan ideological purity at the cost of bipartisanship....punishing anyone who has crossed the line and worked with Bush. Dick Cheney continues his political thuggery by suggesting that the election of antiwar folks like Lamont is playing into Al Qaeda's hands. Republicans in general gleefully spin Lamont's victory as a sign that Democrats are "weak" on terrorism. Even many Democrats in the media fear antiwar activists are going to follow their naive idealism toward a crushing defeat reminiscent of George McGovern's 1972 debacle (triumphantly winning in one state).

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Ned Lamont's victory signals one simple thing: Connecticut Democrats are sick of this horrific tragedy we call the Iraq war and of a so-called "opposition" party that has been complicit in it. And - so I hope and believe - Americans in general are increasingly ready to adopt their view.

In 2002, Democrats (under the leadership of Tom Daschle and Richard Gephart) went along with Republicans and authorized the war based on claims that Saddam had Weapons of Mass Destruction and innuendo about Iraq-Al Qaeda connections. At the time, Americans accepted these arguments. After the invasion, as the body count rose and it became increasingly clear there were no WMDs, the Bush Administration switched its justification to promoting peace (via war) and democracy in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Democrats remained either afraid to oppose the war or vocally in favor of it. Republicans labeled any critics of the war "weak" at best, "traitors" at worst. While Iraq descended into civil war, Joe Lieberman emerged as the most vocal Democratic defender of the war and Bush's failed "stay the course and don't change the tactics" strategy.

Lieberman's defeat is a rebuke of that strategy and of Democrats defending that strategy. It is a victory for Democrats actually growing some spine and acting like an opposition party.

Let's review some of the claims about the Lamont victory and show how they are mistaken:

"Lamont's victory is a victory for rabid partisans who want to purge the party of moderates."

Lots of the talk about a "jihad" against Lieberman by liberal bloggers accused those bloggers of punishing dissent within the Democratic party. Republicans hypocritically claim this is a sign of "liberal intolerance" (all the while setting their sights on moderate Republican Lincoln Chafee), while Democrats claim this is a rejection of the "big tent" philosophy that allows Democrats to win by incorporating people with a wide range of views in one party. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter and TIME's Joe Klein both argue that antiwar Democrats' number one priority should be taking on Republicans, not criticizing other Democrats.

I appreciate the argument about rabid partisans. I have often criticized the liberal blogs for their close-minded, take-no-prisoners, hateful mentality that seemed far to similar to Falwell-esque Republicans. But in this case, that criticism is not appropriate.

There's any easy rebuke to all these claims of ideological purification and his name is Ben Nelson. The Democratic Senator from Nebraska is far more conservative than Joe Lieberman. So why don't daily Kos and all the anti-Lieberman forces go after Nelson? Because he is wildly popular in Nebraska. Because anybody more liberal would not win in Nebraska. Because the best way to battle Bush's failed national security strategy is to keep Democrats in office who, however conservative, will select Democrats to lead Congress.

But in Connecticut, Lieberman was out of touch with his state. In that New England state, antiwar views are a lot more popular. And a Democrat from that state vocally supporting the war and openly attacking critics of that war is an obstacle to the antiwar movement.

Lieberman's foes took the politically astute way to achieve their ideals. Far from purging the party of moderates, they are simply taking the actions which must be taken in different states to save our nation from the ongoing conservative failures. In some states, that means supporting conservatives like Nelson. In others, it means supporting antiwar firebrands like Lamont.

"Lamont's victory is a sign that naive idealists will ignore politics and drive the Democratic Party to electoral defeat."

Visions of 1972 are swimming through many Democrats' nightmares. This is silly.

They fear that open opposition to the war and suggesting a (gasp!) timetable for withdraw from Iraq is going to get the party labeled "antiwar" and "soft on terrorism." They fear that such labels will mean sure defeat for Democrats and more years of Republican mistakes. Yeah, like anything will stop Republicans from putting those labels on Democrats. Because, y'know, 6 years of wavering opposition and double-speak has worked so well for Democrats in elections.

First off, it's time for Democrats to stop worrying about taking positions and choosing candidates based purely on "electability." I'm not saying that such considerations should be thrown by the wayside, but single-minded focus on "electability" is what gave us John Kerry in 2004. He might have made a good, thoughtful, progressive President had he won, but he was a terrible campaigner. The main reason he lost was the very reasons he was considered "electable" - his cautiousness, his being the opposite of shoot-from-the-hip-into-the-foot Howard Dean. When the Swift Boaters launched a series of ads filled with blatant lies against Kerry's war record, he was too cautious to fight back. He thought responding to the ads would only give them credibility. Instead, the lack of response allowed those liars to tear down Kerry's strongest electoral asset. Also, he was so cautious he didn't fight back against the Republican spin and let himself get labeled a "flip-flopper." Lesson learned: the "electability-only" standard of choosing candidates is a failure.

Second, those who fear that being antiwar means losing elections are not paying attention to the views of the American people. Frustrated with the lack of progress, the mounting body count, and the growing civil war, Americans are increasingly turning against this war. 61% of Americans oppose the war. While most Americans do not support immediate withdrawal from Iraq, 57 % support setting timetables for withdrawal. "Timetable" used to be a dirty word in the Iraq debate, but it is increasingly becoming the watchword. It's time for Democrats to wake up and smell the polls - being labeled "antiwar" is no political suicide. By the way, contrary to distortions advanced by John McCain and Joe Lieberman, Ned Lamont does not support immediate withdrawal - he supports the one-year timetable advocated by John Kerry and Russ Feingold.

"Lamont's victory is a sign that Democrats don't have the will to be strong and fight terrorism."

It's unbelievable to me that this laughable claim actually has political traction. What, do people believe that John Kerry, if elected, would have sat around playing with Barbie dolls while Al Qaeda attacked us? Get real!

Let me put this as simply as possible: Iraq is a distraction from the War on Terror. As our nation's time and energy is increasingly absorbed in a tragically deteriorating nation that never had anything to do with 9/11, we are allowing the real battle against terrorist groups like Al Qaeda slide. And it's Democrats and liberals, not Republicans, who are constantly reminding us of that.

It's Democrats who are pointing out how focusing on Iraq is draining resources from homeland security.

It's the New York Times editorial page - which, let us all acknowledge is liberal - which is taking time to point out the crisis in Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan? The place that was the home base of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The country we invaded immediately after 9/11. The war that we seem to have forgotten about. Well, it's still going on and the tide is turning against us. Unlike Iraq, this is a real battle against terrorists and their supporters and losing here would be very dangerous. But it seems only "out-of-touch, soft-on-terrorism" liberals are pointing that out.

Finally, it's Democrats and liberals who seem to still want to capture Osama Bin Laden and top Al Qaeda leaders. The Bush Administration recently closed down the CIA office dedicated to hunting down those terrorist masterminds.

If the Republican spin machine keeps repeating that Lamont's victory means Democrats are weak on terrorism, the American people will believe them. But all Democrats have to do to counter that is to vigorously use the facts.

And to conclude....

So, Ned Lamont's victory is just one part of an increasing antiwar sentiment among Democrats in particular and Americans in general. This is a good thing. Don't believe the media hype that it's not, no matter how many times they repeat it.

Oh, and Joe Lieberman's an ass for running as an Independent and splitting the Democratic vote. Or maybe he's just becoming the Republican candidate.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Memories Continue to Grow Into Beautiful Things

Only fitting that I begin my first blog post as a married man with an Eisley quote about memories. Right now my head is chock full of wedding and honeymoon memories. Before they slip out, I thought I'd share a few.

Day Before the Wedding

I first remember the day before the wedding. One last rush of stupid wedding planning stress (the kind of thing that's been happening for 15 months, only intensified) and, finally, we simply leave it to other people's hands. Christy and I go to the rehearsal and see all sorts of friends, ranging from middle school friends to grad school friends to siblings. It is so awesome to see all our friends who didn't know each other conversing and gathering to celebrate with us.

I remember the rehearsal dinner. An inordinate amount of the toasts concerning me mention me playing air guitar. There is nothing wrong with that. Christy and I are often described as "authentic." I am very, very flattered and touched. I discover that my cousin, Jayme Terrell (the only person allowed to call me "Benjy", the name I stopped using in 6th grade), does indeed have an Internet Movie Database Profile. She has acted in a low budget film with Martin Sheen's younger brother.

I remember the post-rehearsal dinner party, a wild affair where the chocolate fondue flowed freely. Actually, it was the only event of the weekend with a fair amount of alcohol. The bridesmaids, groomsmen, and my cousins gathered for some music (in the form of Mike and Jeff playing guitar leading us in cover songs), fondue, and Truth or Dare (relatively tame version). Best T or D moments: Dan Ortiz walking like a chicken/barking like a dog. Christy's coincidentally named bridesmaid, Elizabeth Stark, (no relation) got dared to sing "I'm a Little Teapot" complete with all the hand motions. Elizabeth is a kindergarten teacher and she went into Full Teacher Mode and somehow got the entire room to sing and do the motions with her. It's scary what power kindergarten teachers have. Eventually, we got security called on us and the party disbursed.

And some point in this blog post I went from present tense to past tense.

Wedding Day

I remember waking up and getting a free breakfast from the Embassy Suites where we were staying. I ran into Christy, but couldn't stay with her because - y'know....that whole dress thing.

I remember putting on the tux and hurrying down to the church. I met Jeff (finally blogging again - good man!) in the parking lot. I had asked him to buy some food for starving groomsmen and bridesmaids, so we carried it into the church together.

After that, I remember a whirlwind of getting pictures taken in the sweltering August-in-Nashville heat.....of sitting around doing nothing.....of chatting about music, law, and politics with Mike and Jeff................of discussing with Kenny how neither of us were very nervous before our weddings (he got married in May), no matter how many times people asked us if we were.

I remember seeing Christy for the first time in her dress. We didn't do the traditional "don't see her until the wedding" thing. But we did set aside a special moment for us to see each other for the first time with just us (okay....us and the videographer and photographer) meeting at the altar of the church. Christy was crying and singing hymns to herself. We rushed to each other and embraced, like something out of a cheesy romance novel. She looked absolutely beautiful in a way that.............well, words are a meager measure of her beauty. She took my breath away.

I remember the wedding itself only in bits and pieces. That's why we have a videographer. I do remember how unreasonably cute my nieces were as flower girls. I remember the pastor, Carter Crenshaw, said some very wise words...none of which I remember at the moment. Bradley Metrock and Becca Gartrell sang songs for us. Poor Jen Weller, a bridesmaid, fainted...but Simon Weller was there for her in a husbandly flash and she was alright....more embarrassed and concerned that she might have messed up the wedding than anything else. Jeff- the King of Smooth - moved off to the side during the recessional so as not to walk alone and draw attention to Jen's absence.

The bridesmaids had quite a time trying to stuff Christy AND her dress (yes, it was still on her) in my car to drive to the reception. We didn't bother with the whole limo thing.

I remember the reception kicked ass. Let's just bullet point my favorite moments in random order.
  • Singing the Everclear version of "Brown Eyed Girl" with Jeff, both of us playing air guitar.
  • The garter toss to all of 3 single guys: David Jetter, Jacob Grier, and Mike. Dan Ortiz (par for the course for Dan) misses the entire thing because he's in another room answering his cell phone. I don't remember who got the garter (I think David) but I do remember all 3 of them proceeding to tackle me. When asked "why?" they shrug.
  • David Jetter and Becca Gartrell cutting up the dance floor.
  • My parents (!) cutting up the dance floor.
  • Yes, dammit, we did the chicken dance.
  • Talking to lots of friends, most of whom I didn't get to talk to nearly enough.
  • Giving my grandparents the wedding bouquet in honor of their 60th (!) wedding anniversary.
  • Giving Chris and Monica Raab Burger King crowns in honor of their choosing to come to our wedding on the exact date of their 1st wedding anniversary. (Hey man, we've only got one bouquet and I was out of ideas!)
  • My nieces continuing to be unreasonably cute during the dances.
  • Everybody on the freakin' dance floor doing the Electric Slide better than Christy and me.
  • Running the gauntlet of bubbles up to a glass elevator to take us to our wedding night.
The wedding night is private, you voyeuristic blog-readers you, but I can tell you that we spent a portion of the night.....sleeping.

After the Wedding

The day after the wedding, many members of the family and wedding party gathered at Ellendale's for the best omelets in America. I can't believe I lived in Nashville for 4 years and never went to this place. After this farewell brunch (and 5 more hours of packing and reminding each other that we were married) it was off to the honeymoon in lovely Navarre, Florida (population: tourists and beach bums).

Honeymoon highlights:
  • Jet-skiing. The best part was going 40 mph with the wind in our faces.
  • Going to a waterslide park
  • Picnics on the beach
  • Collecting sea-shells
  • Watched 3 movies: Brick, Secondhand Lions, and Jurassic Park. Go see Brick if you consider yourself a lover of film. Go see Secondhand Lions if you are sentimental like me. If you haven't already seen Jurassic Park there's no hope for you.
  • Hibachi restaurant followed by kareoke.
  • The best damn ribs I've ever tasted at this tiny little joint called The Rib Shack. They also make good banana pudding.
  • Just being with Christy.
And now I'm back among the living and blogging. We're in the midst of packing up Christy's so I don't know how often I'll be blogging.

But it was wonderful to see so many of you. There is no measurement for how much you all rock!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

[Note: As of this post-midnight writing, it is only 4 days until Christy and I get married. Stresses abound, as do small and large joys. Right now, we're cleaning Christy's apartment. Taking a brief break to post one of those jokes that's been circulating around the e-mails. The more you know of various Christian (or pseudo-Christian) denominations, the funnier this is. My favorites, given my family's background, are the Baptists and the Lutherans.]

[This may well be the last blog post before one of the most important events in my life. So, of course, I decided to fill it with something utterly frivolous. See many of y'all soon!]

Charismatics: Only one. Hands already in the air.

Pentecostals: Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians: None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic: None. Candles only.

Baptists: At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad.

Episcopalians: Three. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons: Five. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians: We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, that is fine. You are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, three-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists: Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Church wide lighting service is planned for Sunday. Bring bulb of your choice and a covered dish.

Nazarene: Six. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish: What's a light bulb?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hell Just Froze Over.....

.....I agreed with something written by the National Review - one of the leading frighteningly conservative magazines. The same magazine that published a cover story which - in all serious - advocated bombing Canada. No, that wasn't just part of the South Park movie.

But there's an actual thoughtful column in the latest NatRev. It all started when a conservative college student group - Young America's Foundation - announced a conference. A liberal college student group - Campus Progress - sent one of its reporters to get press credentials to report on the event. YAF's media relations director not only denied the credentials, he was a real jerk about it.

The author of the National Review piece condemns this rudeness as well as the "take-no-prisoners" style of his activist colleagues. The author is obviously a conservative, but you can switch the words "liberal" and "conservative" in the column and this guy ably explains my own complaints about my close-minded, vicious liberal colleagues.

So, as the temperature in Hell drops and the Apocalypse approaches, I encourage you to read this article in the National Review.

Oh, by the way, I'm getting married in 10 days!!!!!!!