Saturday, October 21, 2006

Those Things I Think About

If a bear were to eat the Pope, would the bear shit the Pope in the woods?

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Senator Leonard K. Bullfinch Newsletter #14


My Fellow Americans:

Having recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Las Vegas, I was shocked and surprised to find my office embroiled in a sexual scandal. This was obviously a ploy that was manufactured by my opponents to keep the focus off the real issues, which, as we all know, is the United States’ continued involvement in Iraq.

Whereas I am loathe to give any of these rumors credence at all, I feel that the scandal has reached such proportions that I must face these accusations head on if any real, meaningful work is to be done. Therefore, let me set the facts straight.

First of all, it is impossible for my office to be embroiled in scandal because I don’t even have an office. Secondly, I don’t have email. Third, I don’t have any pages. And finally, even if I did have pages, I can assure you with unwavering certainty, as my ceaseless work with the sheep farming industry attests to, that I have no sexual interests in little boys. If any of these young boys’ mothers, or older sisters would like to personally discuss any of these accusations, I would be more than willing.

Having put that unpleasant issue behind us, so to speak, I would like now to address the real issue of the day: Our course of action in Iraq.

There are many people in America who would like to see our troops leave Iraq. They would like for us to cut and run, to abandoned all the good that we have done there. Unfortunately, the liberal press has distorted that good or failed to report it at all. But be assured, we are doing good in Iraq. Case in point:

Before the United States invaded Iraq, it was a country of uncertainty. Now it is a country that is certainly bad. And certainty is good.

We have brought excitement to their lives. Imagine taking a road trip and trying to guess what will blow up next. That’s way more fun than trying to find license plates from all 50 states.

We have also brought an appreciation for life to the Iraqi people. How many of us in America leave home every day and assume that we will see our loved ones again? Imagine the things you would wish you had said or done if they were to die during the day. I can assure you that no Iraqi leaves the house in the morning and assumes that they well ever return, or that there will be a house to return to.

In addition we have brought the country closer to God. In many cases, really close. And who is so cynical to chide spirituality?

And, I am assured, eventually there will be democracy in Iraq. Imagine the joy these people will feel when they are able to have fair, open, honest elections with people who truly represent the average citizen and will always strive to do what is best for everybody, not just themselves or some special interest that has paid them an obscene amount of money. Just like we have in the United States.

More importantly than the Iraqis though, are our soldiers. If we were to cut and run now, we would be doing a dishonor to those people that have already died. With every new death in Iraq we show that those who have died before have not died in vain. 3000 deaths and 300 billion dollars is a small price to pay.

It is important that we hold the course in Iraq. It is important that we prove to the American people that this war can be won. After all, we must prove to terrorists everywhere that America will not be pushed around. We must prove that we will not hesitate to ruthlessly kill as many people as it might take, guilty and innocent alike (although we deeply regret it when innocent citizens are killed, and I’m certain that they and their loved ones understand that that is the cost of war). Unless the United States is willing to stand strong in the face of our enemies, how else can they learn to be like us? How else will they come to understand that we only want the best for the world, which is an unending supply of oil?

Finally, I would ask that we be tolerant of those people who oppose the war, no matter how treasonous they might be. After all, they are free to express their opinions, even if they are obviously wrong. We should embrace these dissenters. And what better place to embrace them than working as a page for our elected lawmakers.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Culture of Violence

Violence in schools has always been a concern to everyone involved: students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the entire public. One source of ongoing, ever-present violence in our schools that has been singled out, and rightly so, is bullying. This is where one student, or a group of students, forces their will on other students, often through violence. Those students being bullied often feel powerless, and, on occasion, have struck out against those bullying them and those who have allowed them to be bullied. Columbine is the best, and the most tragic, example.

Bullying can take many forms, from the stereotypical thug to the preppy students who simply believe they have a right to be at the front of the lunch line and dare anyone to tell them no. However, the results are the same. Students are denied their equality, and often their dignity, through an act of force, either threatened, implied, or actual, by others.

Many solutions to bullying have been proposed, such as having students discuss their concerns with peers as well as trusted adults, reporting bullying, staying in groups, or learning self-defense. Arming teachers has even been considered. All of these solutions may have merit, but ultimately, they will all fail. They will fail because they fail to address the real problem, and that is that we live in a violent society that ultimately rewards violence. America embraces a culture of violence, and in this culture violence, virtually any violence, can ultimately be justified.

Everywhere in our society violence is accepted, if not encouraged. This includes military incursions, the death penalty, handgun ownership (ostensibly for self-defense), spanking children, and corporal punishment in our schools. Indeed, there are those who argue that the problem with our society is that we are not violent enough. Children aren’t hit enough when they are young, prisons don’t kill enough prisoners, and our military is not willing to wipe out entire cultures if necessary.

The message is clear, or at least it should be. It is not violence that’s the problem; it’s the ways in which that violence is applied that is the problem. And for children, the finer nuances can be very difficult, if not completely impossible, to understand. For instance, it’s not acceptable to hit someone who cuts in front of you in line, but it is acceptable to hit someone who repeatedly says things you don’t like, but probably not right away. If you’ve put up with it for an unspecified amount of time, then it is acceptable. But what if a kid cuts in front of you while saying bad things? Maybe the child who strikes another for “mouthing” him or her will be punished by the school, but the violence will be justifiable to that child’s friends, and quite possibly her or his parents, and definitely to that child. In short, retaliation is acceptable. Preemptive strikes are even acceptable.

Until we find some other way of solving our problems than through violence, then somebody will always end up on the bottom. And that somebody will not like it. We shouldn’t be surprised when that somebody strikes back, even if we don’t deem it to be appropriate.

The solution is that we need to teach non-violence. We need to teach our children that violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in any form, ultimately not even in self-defense. This would be a radical shift from contemporary teaching. In history, for instance, we would need to teach that war is not something to be glorified, but to be studied as a way to prevent it. That war is the ultimate human failure. We would need to teach that chances of birth are not the basis for superiority. That greed is wrong. That nothing can justify harming someone else, or denying those things basic for survival, including the freedom from fear, to anybody. We would need to teach that everybody is imbued with a social responsibility that cannot be shirked. Admittedly, this will not be an easy task. And, perhaps the hardest of them all, if we don’t want our children to be violent, then we must not be violent, either, both in action and in thought.

There are many who will say that teaching non-violence in a violent world is naive. And certainly we cannot simply abandon all of our defenses on the hope that others will be non-violent, too. However, unless we go after the root of the problem, unless that is our ultimate goal, then all we are doing is teaching children to be appropriately violent, not to be non-violent. And not that violence is ultimately wrong. And if that is what we are teaching, then we shouldn’t be surprised when violence continues.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

After this word from our sponsors...

Larry had always supposed his life was good. I mean, when you weigh the good and the bad and all. But isn't that what you're supposed to believe? I mean, if you're normal and all? Maybe even if you're not.

And the thing was, he and his family always looked good together. I mean, they always made this great looking family. Mother, father, little girl. Like they could've been on TV making commercials.

And that's exactly what happened. This car company's ad exec saw them all at the museum one Sunday. The art museum. They went there about once a month. Mostly just to see if the exhibits had changed. They hadn't.

So anyway, this ad exec sees them, and he thinks they'd be perfect in one of their mini-vans. You know, the All-American family that everyone wants to be. Maybe you can't be that beautiful, but you can buy that van.

So they do. Not buy a van, but agree to be in the commercial. Aside from the fact that it's just cool, they were paying them just a bucket-load of money. Well, Union plus 10%, but hell, times that by three. And remember, there's no cut for the agent.

Well, here's the deal, see. They just get ready to shoot the commercial and some artistic dude says that Larry just wasn't right for the role. And the thing was, he couldn't say exactly what it was about Larry that wasn't right. Only that he wasn't right. And that was that.

So they brought in this other guy to play Larry's part. Well, to play Larry. An actual actor. They still paid Larry and all. I guess they paid that other guy, too. I mean, do you suppose it matters to those guys?

So they go ahead and make this commercial. And it really was a hit. Well, as far as commercials go. And even Larry had to admit that this other guy played Larry better than he could.

So Larry's family is doing really well because this $70,000 bird had laid an egg in their livingroom. I mean, really, think of how many of your problems would go away with a quick $70,000. Even if you take out the taxes, which they did.

The only thing was, the more Larry saw the commercial -- and they played it all the time -- the more he came to realize that he'd done absolutely nothing to earn it. I mean, that sounds like something that once you realized it, you'd be done. But it doens't work that way. And the more you realize it, the more you want it to go away.

You can buy a lot of liquor with $70,000. And liquor will help you forget a lot. All of your problems. Your job. And the fact that you used to be married to a beautiful woman with a beautiful child.

And then one day you stop remembering altogether. Which is good. Because you forgot all about that bright light you're supposed to see.


What do cats do at night while you're sleeping? They lay close by quietly purring, "Leave the money to the cat. Leave the money to the cat."

The Kansas City Curse

Wow. There I was. Sitting. Thinking. And it all became so clear. Why the Kansas City Royals suck. So bad. So really, really bad. It's the Curse of Kansas City. Back in the 1985 World Series, game 6, the Royals sold their soul for that call at first. I mean, I'm a die-hard Royals' fan, and even I admit that was an awful call. I've spent the last 20+ years telling all of my Cardinal fans friends (many of whom weren't even alive at the time but still bitch about it) to get over it. But now I realize that it's KC that's screwed. We can never have another winning season. That was the cost of one World Series.

OK. I know that there are some of you out there who are saying, "But hasn't KC had a winning season since then? What about '86? What about 2003?" What about shut the hell up, already. That's just the devil (aka, Don Deckenger) messing with us. He doesn't have to let us have a winning season, he just does it to make us think we can. Like it's actually possible that we could win another series some day. He also sends players like Beltran, Tucker, Damon, and Dye through our organization, just to make us think: Damn! I mean, what else would the devil want you to think?

And this isn't any 100 year curse. This isn't anything that being nice to goats will stop. Uh huh, baby, this is forever. Oh, there was no joy in Mudville, the might Royals f***ed up.