February 2004 Archive
February 29, 2004
Happy Leap Day!
Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character. - Oscar Levant
February 28, 2004
Yesterday morning, I was at the drive-thru teller at the bank. A woman in a Porsche was in the next lane, eating a donut. When she finished the donut, she wadded the wax paper and threw it out the window. The ensuing conversation went like this:
Me: "Very classy. Just because you drive a fancy Porsche, you think you're entitled to litter."
Classy lady in Porsche: "Fuck you."
Me: "Do you kiss your mother with that filthy mouth?"
Classy lady in Porsche: "Fuck you."
And she left me in a cloud of dust.
I would like to end this rant by describing the bumper sticker on the back of the Porsche - BUSH/CHENEY 04 - but it wasn't there.
February 27, 2004
Last night, the Democratic presidential candidates debated in Los Angeles, a debate which was hosted and televised by CNN. Has there ever been a worse moderator for a nationally televised debate than Larry King?
At one point, Dennis Kucinich, annoyed that Larry King was vamping to the audience as Kucinich answered a question, called King on his obvious inattention to the debate. Instead of apologizing, King explained to Kucinich that he could look in one direction and listen in another, that it was a "Jewish trait".
February 26, 2004
"I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt."
- Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826
Conservatives love to label Democrats as "Tax and Spend Liberals." Now, Bush is in an election year facing increasing criticism from the right as well as the left for being a "Borrow and Spend" president. Unfortunately, too many Americans do not understand the deficit's day-to-day impact on their pocketbooks and, as a result, the deficit is not as important an issue in the political landscape as it deserves. Voters who are swayed by a $1,000 tax cut need to understand that, in 2003, the average American household paid an astounding $3,153 in taxes annually just to service the debt. That's over $3,000 which goes for interest payments and buys no services.
Consider that five years ago, under President Clinton, we were looking at retiring the national debt within 15 to 20 years. George W. Bush, with his reckless tax cuts and skyrocketing deficits, has guaranteed his legacy. Future generations will be paying interest on the hundreds of billions spent by Bush in Iraq.
While Bush will never be regarded as being Jeffersonian, the two presidents do have something in common. Jefferson made love to the slaves and Bush is screwing the working people.
February 25, 2004
The Red Herring of 2004
Bush has finally come out of the closet with his decision to support a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriages. Why now?
This is an election year and Bush sees this as an opportunity to take a strong position which will re-energize his support from the religious right and will also be popular among many swing (politically, that is) voters who will determine the upcoming presidential election. More importantly, Bush hopes that this issue will distract the electorate from issues such as foreign policy, health care, education, and the economy, all issues which are serious problems for the country and for Bush.
Let us not forget that gay activists have chosen this election year as an opportune time to push the issue of same-sex marriage and, in doing so, may prove to be Bush's foil. It would be ironic if same-sex marriage turned out to be the Ralph Nader of 2004, the difference in a close election.
WASHINGTON (AP) - At a White House conference of state governors, Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union, a "terrorist organization" Monday, taking on the 2.7-million-member National Education Association early in the presidential election year. Paige said later in an Associated Press interview that his comment was "a bad joke; it was an inappropriate choice of words."
"If there really are any women on Earth who live and talk and
spend and dress and behave like this, you wouldn't want to know them." - Robert Bianco, USA TODAY, about Sex and the City.
February 24, 2004
Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush appointed Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a federal appeals court, bypassing U.S. Senate Democrats who blocked his confirmation because they said he is hostile to abortion rights and civil rights.
“Right-wing Zealot is Unfit to Judge”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (May 6, 2003)
What caused the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and many others to reach this conclusion?
Pryor has bitterly criticized Supreme Court rulings upholding "the so-called wall of separation between church and state." - October 16, 1997 speech to the Federalist Society.
Pryor insisted that the First Amendment does not mandate "the strict separation of church and state." - October 19, 1999 debate in Dallas.
"The American experiment is not a theocracy and does not establish an official religion, but the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man. The challenge of the next millennium will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective.... On January 22, 1973, seven members of that Court swept aside the laws of fifty states and created – out of thin air – a constitutional right to murder an unborn child. Last year, the Court swept aside the vote of a majority of the people of Colorado to end any preferences or special privileges for homosexuals in their state. Recently, lower federal courts struck down laws that prohibit assisted suicide. The most important decisions of our time and our country are not being made by the people or their elected representatives. The Supreme Court has restructured our political community without the consent of our people in my judgment, and has violated the Christian understanding of tranquillitas ordinis [the tranquility of order]." - 1997 speech at Mobile, Alabama school.
"God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time, this place for all Christians – Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox – to save our country and save our courts." - Pryor, April 13, 1997, The Birmingham News.
Pryor said "the state has no position on whether Moore’s right to pray and have a religious display in his courtroom extends to people of other faiths. Pryor said he did not know whether the rights of non-Christians would be violated if they were barred from praying in Moore’s court." - AP, April 4, 1997.
At a federal court hearing on the public display of the Ten Commandments, Judge Ed Carnes, a conservative jurist appointed by the first President Bush, asked Assistant Attorney General Titus (specially appointed by Pryor to argue this case) whether it would be constitutionally permissible for a state Supreme Court judge such as Moore to "decorate the Supreme Court with a mural depicting the life, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ? In big block letters behind his bench, for all the lawyers and everyone else to see, he could spell out ‘What Would Jesus Do?’" Titus replied that such actions would be constitutional because they "would not amount to a law establishing religion."
Pryor "was the only attorney general in the country to file a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court opposing the Violence Against Women Act, which allowed rape victims to sue their attackers in federal court." - May 25, 2003, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Pryor also testified before Congress in 1997 against a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires approval from Congress before state voting procedures which guarantee minority access to voting booths. Pryor said the federal provision was an "expensive burden that has far outlived its usefulness."
Pryor derided the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade as "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history" and warned that he would "never forget Jan. 22, 1973, the day seven members of our highest court ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of our children." - "Save the Commandments" rally, May 21, 1997, The Wall Street Journal.
Pryor excoriated Roe and Miranda v. Arizona (the Supreme Court decision requiring that criminal defendants be informed of their right to remain silent) as "the worst examples of judicial activism."
- July 11, 2000 event sponsored by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
In early 2003, Pryor was one of only three state attorneys general to file an amicus brief supporting a Texas sodomy law. The brief proclaimed that "the States should remain free to protect the moral standards of their communities through legislation that prohibits homosexual sodomy... A constitutional right that protects ‘the choice of one’s partner’... must logically extend to activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia (if the child should credibly claim to be ‘willing’).... Even legislation that is largely symbolic and infrequently enforced... has significant pedagogic value. Laws teach people what they should and should not do, based on the experiences of their elders. The States should not be required to accept, as a matter of constitutional doctrine, that homosexual activity is harmless and does not expose both the individual and the public to deleterious spiritual and physical consequences."
"As a law enforcement official, I know crimes are caused by criminals, not by the gun industry. Indeed, by providing good-quality firearms at reasonable prices to law-abiding citizens and lawmen, the gun industry helps reduce crime."
"I’m probably the only one who wanted it [the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore] 5-4. I wanted Governor [George W.] Bush to have a full appreciation of the judiciary and judicial selection so we can have no more appointments like Justice Souter."
Do you want George W. Bush making federal court appointments for four more years?
(If so, what are you doing reading The Daily Rant?)
February 23, 2004
Oops, I did it again?
Many Democrats blame Ralph Nader for Bush's election in 2000. In Florida, where Bush won by 537 votes, Nader drew 96,615 votes. In New Hampshire, where Bush won by 7,882 votes, Nader drew 22,156 votes. Most Democrats assume that the overwhelming majority of Nader voters would have been Gore voters had Nader not been in the race.
Fearing the Nader effect in 2004, Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe and other liberal leaders tried in vain in recent weeks to persuade Nader from mounting another presidential bid. McAuliffe argues that for all of his groundbreaking achievements, Nader should not want his legacy to be eight years of George W. Bush.
Today, to the surprise of few, Nader announced that he is running again.
I don't know Ralph Nader personally. However, I think McAuliffe's appeal to Nader's ego (which an appeal to legacy is all about) misreads the man. That is not to say that Nader does not have a big ego which motivates him. Rather, it is clear to me that Nader is not one to shy away from tilting at windmills or, more aptly, trying to slay the dragon. The dragon Nader sees is corporate influence in government - be it a Republican or Democratic administration. While Nader would undoubtably have preferred Gore to Bush in 2000 and Kerry (or Edwards) to Bush in 2004, Nader believes it is more important to start the dialog, the process of change, which might, in a generation, bring about real change in our political system.
I don't think Nader is wrong and I don't blame him for 2000. I blame those voters in states like Florida and New Hampshire who strongly preferred Gore to Bush but voted for Nader. They knew it was a tight race and chose to make a statement rather than defeat Bush. I am hopeful that many of these same Nader supporters learned from the experience - a lesson hammered home daily by the Bush administration - and will chose differently in 2004. The supporters of change do not want their legacy to be eight years of George W. Bush.
February 22, 2004
Marriage vs. Civil Union
The issue of gay marriage has temporarily displaced abortion as the most divisive issue in our society. Judging from the published public opinion polls, a significant majority in this country opposes same sex marriages. Many fewer people oppose same sex civil unions and other protections for gay couples which would be comparable to the status of male/female married couples. However, gay activists contend that civil unions - a separate but equal concept - is, in itself, discriminatory in that it denies gay couples the status of being married.
The traditional concept of marriage which has been codified in the legislation of all fifty states is clearly derived from Judeo-Christian doctrine and practices. The question then arises, by the adoption of legislation which codifies religion, are we not fundamentally violating the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state? And, if we were to legalize gay marriages, would we not be establishing laws which invade the practice of religion?
What we have is a problem of semantics. States should be in the business of legislating civil unions and religion should be responsible for marriages. Let's change the laws so that states authorize civil unions and all of the rights and protections which traditionally have gone with marriage will apply to couples civilly united, no matter their gender. The churches, synagogues, and mosques can determine who they will marry. If a couple getting married complies with the laws of civil union (getting a license), the rite of marriage and civil union would be simultaneous. Gay couples can have a civil union and a wedding by joining religions which do not discriminate.
Which raises another question - why not allow more than two people to be joined by civil union?
I didn't claim to have all the answers.
February 21, 2004
I saw The Fog of War last night. This is a fascinating documentary based upon extensive recent on-camera interviews with Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War under JFK and LBJ. McNamara openly acknowledges U.S. mistakes in Vietnam.
"We are the strongest nation in the world today, and I do not believe we should ever apply that economic, political or military power unilaterally. If we'd followed that rule in Vietnam, we wouldn't have been there. None of our allies supported us. If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better re-examine our reasoning."
Or, we can practice an arrogant, macho foreign policy which disregards our allies and world opinion and wear this arrogance as a badge of honor.
February 20, 2004
A question for George W. Bush in the Presidential Debates this fall:
Federal and state child care assistance to low-income working families grew substantially between 1996 and 2001 as a result of welfare reform. Increased child care assistance—both for welfare recipients and for other low-income working families—was an essential part of states’ strategies to help promote work and reduce the need for welfare. During these years, employment of low-income and single mothers increased significantly.
The growth of child care funding essentially stopped in FY 2001. Limited resources have forced states across the country to cut child care assistance, creating hardship for already struggling low-income families. In your budget submitted to Congress for 2005, this situation will become even worse, causing 447,000 children receiving child care assistance in FY 2003 to lose this assistance by FY 2009.
President Bush, in the 2000 campaign, you characterized yourself as a compassionate conservative. Can you explain how this kind of budget cut fits into your definition of compassionate conservatism?
February 19, 2004
Rest in Peace
Howard ("faster than you can say Dot-Com Bust" -AP) Dean
Fifty years ago today, my life went from the sublime to the ridiculous.
My brother was born.
Happy birthday, Paul!
I don't care what everyone says about you - I love you.
For those of you who would like to know Paul a little better,
click here for his "self-portrait".
February 18, 2004
It’s the environment, Stupid!
(Stupid = Bush)
- The Progress Report
February 17, 2004
A pre-rant disclosure: I am a dues-paying, card-carrying, proud-to-be, Yankee hater.
Yankees get A-Rod.
Yesterday, the New York Yankees completed a trade which brought Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid player in baseball, to the House That Ruth Built This addition to the Yankees' roster will bring the team payroll to $190 million compared to $31 million for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays payroll.
I don't blame the Yankees or George Steinbrenner for this disparity. They are playing (paying) by the rules. However, baseball should address its rules which permit an unlevel playing field. The ongoing appearance that teams in smaller markets have the cards stacked against them will, in the end, result in less interest in baseball across the country because it will not be perceived to be a fairly competitive sport. The salary caps in the NBA and NFL work and MLB should take the cue.
Go Marlins (payroll $61 million)!
February 16, 2004
In honor of President's Day...
The Wit and Wisdom of George W. Bush?
The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.
If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.
One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.
I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.
The future will be better tomorrow.
We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.
I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.
We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe.
A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.
We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.
For NASA, space is still a high priority.
Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.
It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.
It's time for the human race to enter the solar system.
You teach a child to read and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.
I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question.
Will the highways on the Internet become more few?
If affirmative action means what I just described, what I'm for, then I'm for it.
There ought to limits to freedom.
My [tax cut] plan is realistic because it avoids meaningless 15-year projections.
I would have said yes to abortion if only it was right. I mean, yeah it's right. Well no it's not right that's why I said no to it.
Public speaking is very easy.
February 15, 2004
Trendy sea salt, particularly when it is in a salt shaker with holes sized for conventional table salt. The sea salt won't come out.
Even worse, restaurants which don't put salt and pepper on the tables. When I ask for salt and pepper and am refused, I know I am dealing with a chef with an ego bigger than mine. I don't presume to think that something seasoned to my taste is to the taste of others.
Waiters/waitresses who don't write down the orders (although, in the rare case that they get all the details right, they get a big tip).
Potatoes baked in foil - these are steamed potatoes, not baked.
Margarine instead of butter.
"Background" music with pulsing bass.
Vertical food (a term coined, I think, by my friend, Bud). I am turned off by trendy chefs who think that presentation is anywhere near as important as the food itself. I don't want my veal chop served on top of polenta laced with truffle oil and fried leek frizzles on top of the veal.
While I'm talking about trendy, too many of the trendy places serve teeny tiny portions, artfully presented, at outrageous prices.
Frozen French fries. Although they are not always awful, when you've eaten the increasingly rare delicacy - fresh-cut fries - you realize that the best frozen fries are not in the same league.
Smoking (no more in Florida!).
Ketchup which isn't Heinz (no, this is not a political rant). Heinz is unequivocally the best and if a restaurant is skimping and saving a few cents in the front of the restaurant, I hate to think of what is going on in the back.
Serrated steak knives. I understand that they cost less to purchase and don't require regular sharpening. But, they tear rather than slice the beef.
Lemon slices in my water. If I wanted lemonade, I would order it.
The restaurant owner in San Gimignano, Italy who tried to charge me for the wood chair which disintegrated ("You sit too strong!") when I sat down.
February 14, 2004
Amendment XIV to the U.S. Constitution provides, in part:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
George W. Bush is supporting the following Amendment:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person (other than gays) within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Do we really want to amend the Constitution to take away rights?
"Little Johnny Ashcroft, put your hand down."
February 13, 2004
Was Bush AWOL? Continued...
Allow me to recap. On Sunday, on Meet The Press, President Bush committed to releasing "everything" to clear up the allegations regarding his National Guard service. On Monday and Tuesday, the White House did release records which had not previously been made public. However, the White House refused to answer questions about why Bush missed a 1972 physical which resulted in the suspension of his flight status.
"We spent $1 million to train him to fly. You're supposed to be ready to fly if we need you. If you didn't show up for your flight physical, good heavens!"
- Larry Korb, assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration
The Boston Globe reports "President Bush's August 1972 suspension from flight status in the Texas Air National Guard - triggered by his failure to take a required annual flight physical - should have prompted an investigation by his commander, a written acknowledgement by Bush, and perhaps a written report to senior Air Force officials, according to Air Force regulations in effect at the time." A spokesman for the National Guard Bureau said those records would most likely be in Bush's personnel file – the file the White House on Wednesday said it was "reviewing".
On Thursday, the White House announced it would not release the remainder of the Guard file.
MoveOn.org, the group which produced the TV ad on the deficit which CBS refused to run during the Super Bowl (the ad has been running on CNN), has a very effective new ad, "Polygraph". Click on the ad title to view the new ad and, if you are so motivated, to contribute to MoveOn.org's advertising fund.
February 12, 2004
In September 2003, President Bush went to Congress and asked for and received $87 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year which began October 1, 2003. That $87 billion will run out in September. The White House, in its recent budget proposal, has not included funding for the wars for the next fiscal year even though White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten admitted last week that the bill for Iraq for the next fiscal year could run as high as $50 billion.
"I am concerned...on how we bridge between the end of this fiscal year and whenever we could get a supplemental in the next year...I do not have an answer for exactly how we would do that."
- Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army Chief of Staff
"I think it's a deceptive way to finance the operations of the military, and I think it has practical ramifications also."
- West Point graduate Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)
Funding the fighting later "deceives the American people about the size of the deficit and the debt that we are incurring."
- U.S. Naval Academy graduate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
"It's very unusual...to request a supplemental when you know the money will be needed...So in this case, if they already know they're going to need $50 billion more for ongoing operations, then not including it in the budget is disingenuous at best."
- Stan Collender, former House Senate budget analyst
The White House intends to wait until after the election to make the funding request.
February 11, 2004
Was Bush AWOL? Continued...
Documents released from the White House yesterday show that Bush was paid for Guard service during the period which he is claimed to have been AWOL. Much to the chagrin of the White House, the questions persist. Why?
Although the records show Bush was paid, they do not indicate the location of or the type of duty performed by Bush. Even the military expert cited by the White House agrees that such detail is normally in the permanent records. Furthermore, the newly released pay records show that Bush was on duty in Houston on May 2, 1973, the same day that two officers signed a report stating that Bush "has not been observed" at the Houston base.
Albert C. Lloyd, a retired personnel officer in the Texas Air National Guard who helped the White House review Bush's file both in 2000 and recently, said "original documentation" would have been filed when Bush performed his duties stating exactly where they were performed and what he did. "The document goes to the payroll office and shows he performed at X place for X hours on X dates." No such documentation has been produced.
February 10, 2004
Was Bush AWOL?
Several times during President Bush's interview on "Meet the Press", the president said that he had released his military records back in 2000. That's not true. He's never released those records. Russert's final question on this point:
MR. RUSSERT: Would you authorize the release of everything to settle this?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yes, absolutely. We did so in 2000, by the way.
"What I think the president was trying to do here was to give those watching the interview the impression that he's willing to completely open up his records. Yet at the same time he's tossing in this false statement so that when reporters follow up and ask where those records are, his aides will say that what he meant was that they'd release those records they released in 2000 --- which is to say, none of them.
The bottom line is that the president told Russert that he'd release all his service records. That's the press corps' hook. And in the relatively near future, as much as they may wriggle, his aides will either have to come forward with those records or go back on the commitment the president made in front of the whole country." -- Josh Marshall
The issue of Bush's National Guard service is not so much that he probably used his father's pull to avoid the draft (and Viet Nam) and get into the Guard or that, because of who he was, Guard commanders looked the other way while he was off working in a political campaign instead of showing up for active duty, but rather his consistent lies about his military record throughout his political career.
Ironically, this recent attention to Bush's military record (which will be contrasted during the campaign with Kerry's) has come about because of filmmaker Michael Moore's comments (at a Wesley Clark rally) that Bush was a deserter. General Clark took serious flak for not disavowing Moore's remarks. If the story of Bush's record has legs throughout the campaign, Clark will be entitled to credit for taking one for his newly adopted team, the Democrats.
February 9, 2004
"President Bush's interview on "Meet the Press" seems to me so much a big-story-in-the-making that I wanted to weigh in with some thoughts. I am one of those who feel his performance was not impressive.
It was an important interview....
The president seemed tired, unsure and often bumbling. His answers were repetitive, and when he tried to clarify them he tended to make them worse. He did not seem prepared. He seemed in some way disconnected from the event."
This is not my rant. It was written by former Reagan speechwriter, now conservative Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan.
February 8, 2004
Remember Jacques, the chef-owner of Jacques-Imo's Cafe (see rant of 2/6)?
Well, it seems that Jacques (aka Jack) also owns Crabby Jacks, a low budget place outside of the city of New Orleans which has the highest Zagat rating for Po-Boys. Yesterday, while running errands with Alex in Jefferson Parish, we decided to do our own evaluation.
Crabby Jacks is an order-at-the-counter, eat-at-the-picnic-table, lunch-only place in an industrial area on Jefferson Highway. The duck and andouille gumbo, oyster Po-Boy, and piece of fried chicken which I lifted off Fran's plate were all as good as I've eaten anywhere, all at dirt cheap prices. This no-pretense place is my new favorite good eats venue in the Big Easy. Too bad Crabby Jack's is not open today, Sunday, our last day in New Orleans. I'll have to settle for a muffuletta at Central Grocery.
Jacques learned about Cajun cooking working at K-Paul's. K-Paul's (the restaurant made famous by its owner, Paul Prudhomme, the "father" of Cajun cooking) has long been the place which locals love to hate. The chief complaints about K-Paul's were the no-reservation policy, the community seating, and the stars stuck on the foreheads of diners after the meals were finished. The constant, however, was the line, snaking down and around the block, of people waiting for a chance to eat Paul's cooking. Like Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, tourists are willing to wait for the one shot to experience a legend.
Over the last decade, K-Paul's has evolved. They now take reservations, the community seating and the stars are nostalgia, the atmosphere and the prices are decidedly more upscale, and Paul Prudhomme is no longer a daily presence in the kitchen. Having said that, Paul's influence on the menu, the cooking techniques, and the friendly reception and service have not changed. Every time I eat at K-Paul's, every item on the menu is tempting and each item selected exceeds my expectations.
K-Paul's is the place in New Orleans at which this tourist loves to be trapped.
February 7, 2004
When I was a child, my mother taught me how to wash myself: "First, wash as far down as possible. Then wash as far up as possible. Then wash possible."
This technique doesn't work for me - it may for jockeys - showering at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. The shower head is mounted so low that, with the downward angle of the spray, possible was the first part of me getting wet. I practically had to get on my knees to shampoo my head.
The Detroit Pistons stayed at this hotel the past two nights. Imagine the difficulties showering for some of those young men. A seven foot center has big possibilities.
February 6, 2004
Time for a rave! The food in New Orleans! Wow!
We arrived yesterday in New Orleans for a long weekend with our son, Alex. He met us at the hotel and we went to lunch at Uglesich's, a hole-in-the-wall which I had read about in a USA Today article about holes-in-walls. Zagat gives this place a 26 for food and a 9 for decor. I would say that is just about right except that the 9 for decor is deceptive. The place should get a 26 for character. Uglesich's has apparently been in the same place for 80 years. It is open only for lunch. When you walk in - the whole restaurant is about the size of our hotel room - a man who, I'm sure, is somebody's favorite uncle, told us that we should look at the menus and give him our order. He gave us a number which would be called when our table (and food) was ready. The menu is chock full of Cajun influenced versions of shrimp and oysters. We selected a variety of appetizers and soups, followed by oyster and/or shrimp Po-Boys. Shrimp Purgatory featured medium shrimp dusted in a fine corn meal, sauteed in cayenne butter, served over a bed of lettuce, with a Gorganzola dip. Outta sight! I'm a sucker for oyster Po-Boys and Uglesich's is one of many places in New Orleans which does a great rendition of this sandwich. It's really simple. Freshly shucked oysters are breaded and fried and then served on fresh French bread (lettuce and tomato, "dressed", are optional). Sorry, Dr. Atkins, but these are some rockin' carbs!
Late in the afternoon, off to Felix's for a snack of raw oysters and Felix's oysters brochette. Oysters brochette are oysters and bacon skewered, then breaded and deep fried. Once again, artery-clogging, heart-stopping heaven.
Dinner was at a favorite of Alex and his friends, Jacques-Imo's Cafe. This is a loud, colorful joint with wonderful cooking. From the duck and andouille gumbo, to the blackened redfish, to the crawfish etoufee, to the fried chicken, everything was delicious and Jacques-Imo's is now on my ever-growing list of places not to miss when in New Orleans. We were there late and, on the way out, Jacques was at the bar visiting with sated diners on their way out. Jacques insisted that Alex, his friends, and his parents join him in having Kamikaze shots. Jacques appeared to have had a few of these already and would not accept from me my protestations that I don't drink. I clanked my glass with Jacques, took a sip, and told him that it wasn't as good as the food. He didn't disagree and, I think, we were both happy.
February 5, 2004
Many of you are probably wondering how the U.S. interrogates the likes of Saddam Hussein without resorting to physical torture. This same group of day dreamers has probably been waiting for a rant which will explain this technique. Well, not to disappoint my faithful reader(s)...
"Alex, I'll take Psychological Warfare for $100."
"What is sensory deprivation?"
Oh! Sorry. I thought I was on Jeopardy.
Today, I experienced sensory deprivation for about 45 minutes. Actually, my experience was rather limited. The audio system in my car died on Sunday and I've been driving around with no music or NPR. I still heard road noise and had all of my other senses. Nevertheless, for three quarters of an hour today, driving to Ft. Lauderdale, I was bored out of my mind (I know, it's a short trip) and realized the intense power of sensory deprivation.
Imagine being locked in a cell with no windows, no other prisoners within eyeshot or earshot, one light outside the cell which is always on, no books, magazines, newspapers, radios, etc., etc., etc. You lose all sense of time, of night and day, and, in the absence of external stimuli, your mind becomes overactive to fend off the boredom. Overactive soon becomes madness. Your intellect understands that you are losing your mind but is unable to slow your slide down this slippery slope.
Then, a person appears. He or she (at this point, it hardly matters) is soft-spoken but firm. At first, you resist the questions which come. But the stranger doesn't demand, doesn't get angry, he or she just leaves. Again and again, with seemingly longer intervals in between visits, the stranger returns with the same questions and leaves a bit more quickly as your deflections of the questions become more and more transparent. Until the time comes that you will do anything to keep the stranger from leaving. But, what can you tell that will keep this stranger there?
"I'll tell them where the WMD's are hidden. Of course they will not find them there and know that I am lying. They will never accept the truth - there are no WMD's - but, for a few moments before they uncover my lies, there is someone to talk to."
February 4, 2004
Say it ain't so, Joe!
Joe Lieberman has dropped out of the race. If you are surprised by this, you haven't been reading my rants and you probably believe that the Janet Jackson episode was a wardrobe malfunction and that Bush will find WMD's in Iraq.
So, where does that leave us in the race for the White House? I remain convinced that Kerry is the man for the ABB (Anyone But Bush) voters. He is simply the most electable. Kerry appears to have the momentum to clinch the nomination by the first week in March, if not earlier.
I stick by my inaugural rant (1/14/04) which predicted that Florida Senator Bob Graham will be the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee. Some pundits are saying that Kerry backed off advertising and campaigning in South Carolina to give Edwards viability and visibility as a national candidate so that he can be the VP on the Kerry ticket. Edwards is an up-and-comer in the Democratic Party and, in eight years, he will be a leading contender to replace President Kerry (VP Graham will be too old to challenge for the nomination).
February 3, 2004
Over the weekend, in the face of mounting public and political pressure for an independent investigation into the intelligence "failures" which were the basis of the Administration's claim of WMD's in Iraq, Bush announced that he would appoint a bi-partisan panel to investigate. The panel's report will not be due until 2005.
Reporter: "Do you think Americans deserve answers before the presidential election in November to questions about the yawning gap between prewar allegations that Iraq possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and the later failure of American inspectors to discover any such weapons."
George W. Bush: "I don't know all the facts. What we don't know yet is what we thought and what the Iraqi Survey Group has found, and we want to look at that. But we also want to look at our war against proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, kind of in a broader context. And so I'm putting together an independent, bipartisan commission to analyze where we stand, what we can do better as we fight this war against terror."
Actually, his failure to answer tells us a lot.
"Bush doesn’t want his re-election subject to any informed judgment about the disaster that reshaped the nation and his Presidency. But why should such crucial facts be withheld from the voters? What does the President fear?" - author Joe Conason
(This quote was originally used in the 1/ 31/04 Rant, White House (Bush) Stonewalls 9/11 Commission - Link)
February 2, 2004
Super Bowl Final
Carolina Panthers 29
Once again, I am glad I don't bet on football. I give Carolina a lot of credit. They played New England very tough. Even though he was on the losing team, I think I would have given the MVP to Jake DelHomme. I was duly impressed with this "unknown" QB.
An interesting note: the over/under for the game was 38. This line was creamed by 23 points in a game which went scoreless for 27 minutes - the longest start of a game without a score in the history of Super Bowls.
This turned into a great game. Too bad the coverage of the game was one of the worst ever. An example. There were two fouls on Carolina with 2:58 in the first half and CBS showed neither. Also, am I the only one who can't stand Phil Simms as a color commentator? It's amazing to me that CBS kept Dan Dierdorf on the shelf.
Speaking of CBS, the network which refused to run a political ad from MoveOn.org (click here to view the rejected ad), appeared to show Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson's breast. Some of the conservatives who were thrilled with CBS this week must be having second thoughts.
About the commercials, a few grins (most notably, Cedric the Entertainer getting a bikini wax) but, overall, a disappointing year for the Super Bowl commercials.
February 1, 2004
DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Prospective University of Colorado football players were recruited with sex parties...
Did Colorado football coach Gary Barnett plant this story to shore up a bad recruiting year?
Super Bowl Prediction*
Carolina Panthers 13
* Do not bet based on my prediction. Check the 1/19/04 Rant in the Archive. I got both games wrong in the Conference Championships.
Tomorrow: Groundhog Day