Friday, February 29, 2008

Republicans and term limits...

I've recently been trying to figure out why conservative Republicans (and the right-wingnut talk-show hosts who "carry their water") are so against term limits and campaign finance reform.

In doing this research I came across this report. It's fascinating reading regarding the irony of who wants term limits and who doesn't (who is actually making term limits seem like a good idea).

The argument against campaign finance reform seems to be a free-speech issue.

Opponents believe that spending money on a campaign is tantamount to expression, to free speech. People "vote" with their dollars by contributing to their favored candidates; in doing so their individual voices are heard; they have a right to be heard.

Makes perfect sense to me.

What I disagree with is the argument as it applies to organizational contributions, that corporations/organizations can expect the same rights afforded to individuals (what is called, euphemistically, "corporate personhood"). But the truth is, corporations, unions, and other "interested" organizations aren't individuals, aren't real people, per se, so they can't expect to have or to enjoy the rights of an individual, of a real person.

Yes, the employees of corporations are tax-paying voters --- are individuals by any definition of the term --- but the corporations for which they work aren't, so corporations/organizations simply can't expect the same free-speech treatment afforded individuals.

To me it's this simple. (Although this would suggest otherwise.)

As a result, campaign finance reform would not affect the "rights" of corporations/organizations because these entities don't have these rights in the first place. But the individuals who work for these entities would still have their right to free-speech, to vote with their dollars for their candidates of choice, as the constitution clearly indicates they should.

Lorena is back!

Lorena Ochoa is playing in her first tournament of the 2008 LPGA season, and she seems as if she never stopped playing from last season. Thirteen under after two rounds? Yikes!

Either the
Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore is an easy track or she's playing well.

I firmly believe it's the latter. There's little about Lorena's game that's lacking. After a couple of seasons of less-than-stellar performances and some late-round collapses, Lorena seems to have found her stride, and she is recently doing to her competition what Eldrick Woods has been doing to his for years: establishing a dominance that will one day equal --- and possibly rival --- Annika's over the last decade.

Couple Lorena's great golf with a great personality and a captivating smile, and she can't lose. She's a delight to watch play a game, which is, for us mortals at least, the most difficult game ever devised.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mark my words...

With the passing of the father of the modern conservative movement, William F. Buckley, Jr., just watch: a phalanx of mealy-mouthed, light-weight, right-wing panderers will begin to invoke his name, will begin to tangentially link themselves, their causes, to and with him, and will begin to revise history.

Mr. Buckley was a truly great man, but many of the truly less-than great will illegitimately
associate themselves with him, with his legacy.

Mark my words:
this happened with Ron Reagan and it'll happen with Bill Buckley.

(No... I'm not saying Reagan was great; I'm saying his legacy has been co-opted and spun mercilessly.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

R.I.P. William F. Buckley Jr...

Agree with him or disagree with him, no one said what he said better. He absolutely defined the words erudite and debate.

The man was wonderful to read and wonderful to hear, and his sense of humor was always present, no matter how much he might disagree with someone.

When your argument was disassembled by Bill, you had been disassembled by the best.

We're only poorer for his absence.

P.S. Here is a good article about the current state of conservatism, a la the current administration.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Step aside, Ann: make room for Bill C...

Conservative talk show host (and apparent right wingnut) Bill Cunningham endorsed John McCain today, but Cunningham was repudiated by McCain for remarks the outspoken radio host has made about Barack Obama.

McCain seems to be trying to take the high road even as those Republicans who hate him, but grudgingly support him because their debilitating partisanship won't let them see things any other way, continue to swim along the bottom.
(And there are left wingnuts as well, believe me.)

Hannity and Colmes tonight, Mr. Cunningham said he was going to follow Ann Coulter's lead and support Hillary Clinton.

With endorsements like these, how can Hillary lose?

And in tonight's Democratic debate, Version 20.0, Barack Obama was asked how he felt about having received an endorsement from Louis Farrakhan,
alleged racist and noted anti-Semite. Mr. Obama didn't hesitate to denounce Mr. F's endorsement in strong terms and to distance himself from this guy.

As I've said consistently, it's the extremes and the extremists that'll get you every time.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

C'mon Ralph...

...sit this one out.


Your ego is writing checks your brain can't cash.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I'm definitely NOT Tiger Woods...

I feel privileged to be able to watch Tiger Woods play.

I missed out on the Bobby Jones era, and although I was old enough to have watched Ben Hogan's last tournament win, a six-year old would have a tough time grasping the intricacies of golf. I have seen the likes of Snead, Nelson, Player, Trevino, Nicklaus, and Palmer: all are champions, and all were sensational, even genius golfers.

But then there's Tiger Woods.

I wonder if golfers playing alongside those greats felt somehow slighted that they lived and competed in a time that included such excellent players, and I wonder if golfers now playing alongside Tiger feel something similar, something akin to, "Oh no, not again," or silently breath with relief when they see Tiger is not in a tournament.

I'm only a decent golfer, with maybe a 14 handicap on a good day, but I love golf; I love its elegance and its precision; I love how civilized the sport is and how it requires players to be just as civilized. But I do see the irony in this game. I see how weird it is that in all other sports involving a ball, players have to negotiate that ball as it's moving, and in some cases, moving really fast. But with golf, the ball just sits and waits patiently to be struck: in fact, if the ball moves at all between shots, the golfer could be penalized for it. (And don't even get me started on the clothing choices.)

I also realize that, to many, watching golf is akin to watching lawn furniture, watching clouds, the very paragon of slowness, of sleep-inducing dullness. I get this. But were people simply to watch Tiger for one round, watch what we golfers see, they'd be hooked.

His excellence goes beyond the game, beyond the superlatives reserved for those who went before him. His work ethic is now legendary. He's the Jerry Rice of his field, because to me, at least, Jerry was the essential competitor in his time. Tiger's competitive nature is perhaps captured best in his often-repeated statement, "I just want to beat you." He doesn't give up and he doesn't give in. There is no surrender in him.

Some people think he's too machine-like, that he doesn't smile enough. He smiles. He smiles when he has a reason to smile. When Tiger is on a tournament golf course, he's at work. Would that everyone took their jobs even half as seriously.

He'll probably be the first billion-dollar athlete, which will probably cause many to be repulsed, to roll their eyes, to sigh and say, "Athletes make too much money." Perhaps, but in between the gasps, in between the eye-rolls, if they'd just watch one of Tiger's laser-beam 7-irons, or one of his escapes from a rough-edge jungle with an insanely struck 3-wood, or one of his 25-foot flop shots for which he takes a courageously full swing only to have the ball land like a butterfly with broken legs, or one of his triple-breaking, snake-like putts that roll for 40 feet then hit the cup dead center. Again, and again, and again.

I love when people talk smack about him, and this list is growing: Austin, Sabbatini, Ames, Poulter. I also love watching the result of this smack, which is usually a complete smack-down. But don't get me wrong. He's vulnerable. He sometimes sprays his driver like he's watering flowers, but he always seems to escape, to keep his mistake to one shot. Mike Weir took him down most recently and several others almost have, with the most recent being J. B. Holmes who played well against a struggling Tiger on the first 13 holes, but not well enough against a Tiger who had found his stride in the last five.

This is a rare time indeed, and I would argue that we'll never again see the likes of Tiger Woods, so we need to appreciate what we have while it's here. Sure, someone might come along in the future, some other Tiger-like player might dominate his time, but for now, I'm content seeing Tiger as unique and being thrilled by what I see him do and how he does it: with pure strength, pure determination, and elegant dignity, of which his Dad was so proud.
Like I said, I feel privileged to be able to watch Tiger Woods play.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Oops, I've just plagiarized...

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, and we were discussing Ann Coulter. I said that she often seemed like a "nasty, mean-spirited person" who was "relentlessly sarcastic."

Well, I just read the news articles about Barrack Obama being accused of plagiarism by Howard Wolfson (the Clinton Campaign's Communications Director), and it made me realize that in commenting on Ms. Coulter I've plagiarized hundreds (if not thousands) of other people, so I just wanted to turn myself in for this transgression.

What was I thinking.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

eBay sellers angry about feedback?

This news story discusses a dust-up between eBay's marketing department and eBay sellers upset about buyers being able to rank sellers in four "hidden" categories, including, among other things, shipping costs and communications.

Fair enough, I guess, but I'd like to know why most eBay sellers don't give immediate positive feedback when a buyer pays for an item immediately — via Paypal or some other means — and why so many eBay sellers never send an email to let buyers know the item shipped. Look, I don't need my hand held and I don't need a tracking number. All I need to know is that the item is on its way: please don't make me guess and come after you to find out if you've shipped it.

Further, immediate deserves immediate. If you're selling something and we pay for it immediately, you should give credit where it's due, and just as immediately.

Instead, what sellers do is play a game and wait for the item to get to the buyer and for the buyer to post feedback, which, if it not positive is met by feedback in kind. Believe me, I think the whole feedback thing needs radical alteration, but until a better system comes along, it is what it is.

To put it in a brick-and-mortar model, if I walk into a store to buy something, I expect to pay for that article before I leave the store (i.e., immediately). If the article I purchased doesn't perform as advertised, I expect to be able to return it with no hassles, I don't expect to be slammed for returning it. It's not my fault the item was substandard, and it's the responsibility of the seller to hold the item's manufacturer accountable, and not the buyer.

Why should eBay sellers work within a different model?

Answer: they shouldn't.

And so, to all eBay sellers, if I buy something from you and I pay for it immediately, you should do the following:

  1. Post immediate positive feedback for having received my money,
  2. Send the item immediately, and
  3. Let me know you've sent the item, by sending me an email, immediately.
Now, don't even get me started on the weenies who require Paypal, but then nail buyers for the measly Paypal fee.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm sorry, but I just don't get it...

I just watched the 2008 Grammy Awards Show.

... what is the deal with Amy Winehouse?

What's the attraction? Why is a drug addict being glorified like this? What irony. I know good writers write about what they know, but to sing a song about rehab? Gosh. How clever.

A suffering artist. Give me a break.
I am really fed up with drug-addicted fools who, having everything to live for and the success that so many far more worthy artists long for and work so hard for, allow their lives to just crumble around them.

Yeah, okay. She's a unique singer. So what. She needs to get help—and she is doing thisbut she needs to accept that help, snap the heck out of whatever nosedive she's in, wise up, and realize how fortunate she is.

Perhaps she suffers from depression. If so, that's a huge issue for which she deserves compassion and support.

But if she's just a spoiled freaking junkie
, who cares? Really.

Hopefully she will snap out of it and soon be able to sing "yes, yes, yes" instead of "no no, no."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Maybe it's time for the left and right to splinter...

Are you in the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party or in the left-wing fringe of the Democratic Party?

Are you feeling like you're not getting enough love from your party?

Are you feeling like your party is becoming too liberal or too conservative, respectively?

If you answered "yes," I have a suggestion: splinter!

The disgruntled left-wingers can form a new party called the Liberal Party and the dissatisfied right-wingers can form a party called the Conservative Party. This way you can each field candidates who are in sync with your ideological points of view, and you won't have to settle, like the conservative Republicans feel they're having to this time around with John McCain.

This splintering would give a home to folks like Dennis Kucinich on the extreme left and Duncan Hunter on the extreme right. Debates could be held that are appropriate for everyone, no one would be excluded, and all voices would be heard.

We always hear about people being tired of the two-party system, that the two biggest parties are exactly the same. Well, this would spread the political spectrum to its two extremes and would provide platforms for those who feel they're not being represented.

This would by no means neglect the Libertarians or the Greens; they would still have a place at the table, and I would argue they'd have an easier time of it because every party would be smaller and would, therefore, have to work harder to get out its message. The playing field would be more level.

Think about it. It could work. Where's the harm in trying it?