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12/20/2002

 

the world loves osama ‘cause he's a nice guy



and they hate us because we aren't, or so was the message of one senator patty murray (D, WA) to a group of vancouver school children.

"We've got to ask, Why is this man so popular around the world?," Murray said during an appearance Wednesday at Columbia River High School. "Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?"

"He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that," Murray said.

"How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"


before i begin folks, people like murray are the reason that no one likes the democrats any more. let's hope we see a lot more of her, at least until the next convenient opportunity to vote her out of office. now then.

i'm not all that well versed on bin laden's philanthropic habits, but according to the article murray's claims about bin laden are not that far off base. we'll see. as for her claims about the united states of america and our involvement, well, i'm afraid i have no idea what she's talking about. as you may be aware, the united states has pledged to send $400 million dollars in aid to afghanistan, but that's all post september 11th, right? of course we're giving them money now, right? (i wonder, by the way, what our contributions have done to improve our standing on the arab street...) so, let's take a look at some of our pre-september 11th contributions and see what they got us.

the CIA world factbook (years other than 2002 can be found here) says that from 1985 to 1993, we sent 450 million dollars in economic aid to afghanistan. in 1997, we sent them around 70 million dollars, around 45 million in 1998, 215 million in 1999. clinton gave them 100 million in aid shortly after the uss cole bombing, as well as sending funds earmarked for the pakistani education system. how did the taliban reward our generosity? by imprisoning eight aid workers, two of whom were americans, on charges of preaching Christianity only a few scant weeks before the september 11th disasters, and of course by harboring the beneficent bin laden and his cronies.

senator murray's logic isn't anything new. it's that age old liberal plea, the one that has us buying off the affections of potential troublemakers so that they'll leave us alone, with its basis in the misconception that being nice to crackpot dictators and evil regimes is the most effective way of getting them to do what you want (consider the way clinton and carter tried to buy off the north korean nuclear program with fuel oil and fissionable material to be *cough* used for energy production). her implication is that the third world loves bin laden because, while we were blowing them up, osama was rescuing cats from trees and helping little old ladies cross the street.

which is nonsense. whatever bin laden stands for, it isn't altruism. senator murray thinks that the arab world feels differently and their opinion, she obviously believes, is valid: one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, as cnn decided shortly after the initial 9/11 furor died down. no, he isn't. bin laden is a mass murderer and a genocidal madman who would gladly kill every american he could get his hands on if it meant establishing the sort of theocratic rule he believes in, and that is true regardless of cultural perspective because no matter who you are or what you are trying to do, nothing justifies sneak attacks on thousands of innocent lives.

besides that, am i to believe that bin laden's popularity in the arab world is based on his generous nature alone? osama is popular because he hates you and me. that's what he preaches. we hear it with every speech and see it in every ak-47 toting video clip. he appeals to the misguided hatred of the west that dominates the arab world. and why do they hate us so? "because we aren't nice to them," says senator murray. not true, but even if it were things would be little different. how could they be when the arab world is in shambles? when the only reason that any of them have money is because they had the good sense to live atop the world's richest oil reserves, a product which they must sell to us to get anything useful for? when their belief system and supposed favored status in the eyes of allah has led them down the path to poverty, misery, sickness, bloodshed, and inconceivable human cruelties? when the west, the great satan, everything that allah hates, is a beacon of culture, power, charity, and hope?

when it comes to the arab world, speaking softly brings you nothing but deaf ears. bush is on the right track with the big stick. once he's done clobbering those who need it, then we can work on rebuilding these nations, preferably into smaller versions of ourselves which, let's face it, is the only thing that will ever truly fix them. as for senator murray, her remarks are absolutely disgusting. the implications that we had september 11th coming, that bin laden is somehow morally superior to the united states, that we have earned our reputation as the bad guy, are things that would have got her booted out of the senate had she said them in, say, october of 2001. she's slithered out from under her rock because she thinks it's safe now, but hopefully the good people of washington have remained vigilant.

locdog certainly will





 

Lott's gone



good riddance. he was a lousy leader from the start: too weak to stand up to the democrats despite his nearly bullet-proof position and a republican president covering his flank. i'm glad he's gone. if lott's crypto-racist remark at thurmond's birthday left any doubt as to his segregationist intent, his apology (or lack thereof) left none. "discarded" policies indeed.

what happened to lott? almost certainly he was forced out. the republicans learned their lesson with gingrich and weren't going to fall on their sword defending the indefensible (although gingrich, unlike lott, was a great leader and worth the attempt). why give the democrats what they most desperately need: an issue? why hand them a club to beat the GOP severely about the head with when the dems are bruised, bloodied, and ready to go down for the count? bravo to the republicans for having the good sense to get this off the front page. finally. i wonder what strings they had to pull or what threats they had to make to get lott to step down...

who will replace him? probably frist, who looks like a good pick. solid conservative from a safe, southern state. reasonably young. seems like the sort of guy bush could count on to serve as a rubber stamp, which is what the republicans need and the democrats so desperately fear.

locdog doesn't have much to say about this, except that it's time to move on





 

bush bringing home the bacon for mexico



the washington post has a large story on a pork barrel deal president bush is working on with vincente fox. if they can come to terms, social security benefits may be extended to thousands of mexicans who reside in mexico, but work in the united states. the cost will be small at first, but could reach a billion within five years, and from there who knows how high it will go.

i'll resist the temptation to use this story for grinding the axe i'd like to smash through the heart of social security in general, and instead merely point out the following:

the united states government isn't obligated to provide comfortable retirements for non-citizens.

not that the mexico deal would be unprecedented. according to the post, there are some 94,000 foreigners currently receiving benefits via some twenty international agreements, but current estimates are that this number could nearly triple in five years with the influx of mexican recipients.

now obviously these people are non-voters, but it is just as obvious that this proposed agreement is one more slab of bacon in bush's big, tasty, and highly non-kosher gift basket to his ever-stronger latino constituency. i can't fault bush that much since there are all ready 100,000 non-citizens receiving social security benefits, nor do i think that it is right that people, citizens or otherwise, should be required to pay into our system if they aren't benefiting from it. so...why are they paying into it? our social security system is barely able to care for its own house, let alone taking on the neighbors. i think the best solution would simply be to stop withholding social security taxes from these people's paychecks and let their own governments worry about what becomes of them in their old age. or, better still, let's let all governments everywhere worry about militaries and post offices and let people provide for their own retirements. ok, fine, so i ground my axe a little.

locdog couldn't resist





12/19/2002

 

are sports stars role models? a poll.



i posted the bonds/lemieux thing on the fray and a couple of posters pointed out that athletes are under no obligation to serve as role models. is this so? take a moment to ponder the two questions below, then post your repsonses in the comments section.

1. which sports star (if any) has served as a role model in your life? (no dennis rodmans or tonya hardings, mr. smarty-pants.) if none, are there any athletes that have impressed you with their moral character?

2. do you believe that sports stars (or celebrities in general, i suppose) by virtue of their fame and popularity with young people have an obligation to live to a higher standard? explain your answer.


since i can't resist tainting my own polls, here are my answers:

1. mario, baby.

2. of course they do. famous athletes are people who have been given tremendous gifts which make them attractive to children. they are going to be influential no matter what they do, like it or not. it's always been that way. mario lemieux loves wine as much (if not more) than he loves golf. (hockey is probably a distant third.) but if he's drinking a glass in a public setting and a child comes up to say hello, he'll put the glass away.

we don't always choose our responsibilities in this life and it's childish to pretend otherwise. even if athletes can't all be expected to live by a higher standard (and they ought to) they should at least meet the bare minimums for adult behavior in a civilized society--but nine times out of ten, they can't even do that.

it's just like spiderman's uncle told him "with great power comes great responsibility." spiderman didn't ask to get bitten by a genetically engineered super-spider (or radioactive spider in the more dated comic book version) but once he had, he knew he had an obligation to fulfill. that's just the way it is.

locdog: the man, the hero, the lover, the role model





 

barry bonds vs. mario lemieux



a judge ruled wednesday that barry bonds' historic 73rd homerun ball will be sold, and the proceeds split evenly between the two litigants claiming possession. the one guy had initially come down with the ball, but the other came up with it from the ensuing scrum. i would have probably given it to the guy that initially caught it. isn't the other guy just a thief? pardon me, dear reader, for trying to inject common sense into the legal system.

actually, what would have been really cool is if the judge would have decided to kick it old-school, king solomon style. he should have ordered the court executioner (in my world, there would always be one handy) to split the ball in half, and each man would be given a piece. then the true owner of the ball would have came forward and made a tearful plea for the life of the ball, waxing eloquent about the depths of depravity that commercialism has driven us to, the destruction of the american soul which is reflected in the sad state of our national pastime yada yada yada. "the ball," he would say "must be given to the other guy or the american people will lose what little faith yet remains in baseball." then bud selig would appear, snatch the ball, hawk it, and give the loot to steinbrenner, who, let's face it, could always use another two million. you know, in the old story about king solomon and the baby, both of the litigants involved were harlots. how apropos.

the shallow legacy of the bonds ball is befitting of its namesake, who, like his record-breaking treasure itself, always seemed to follow the money. not that barry is the only one, mind you, nor the worst offender. it's just that, being from pittsburgh, i've never been able to forgive the guy for bashing his former home after he pursued an 8 million dollar a season (keep in mind this was the early nineties) deal in ol' san fran. everyone goes for the money, but not everyone napalms his bridges, and pittsburgh, with its three rivers, has a lot of bridges. slamming the management, the town, the team, just about everything he could think of to insult, bonds left a swath of scorched earth in his wake that was as wide as one of his round-trippers was long. classy, barry.

but then, when has bonds ever had an ounce of class? a legendary egotist, he was a man who was fully aware (and then some) of his significance in the sport. when the rest of the nation was gushing over TV interviews of him and his little ones as he chased mcgwire, i couldn't help but remember all the kids he'd sooner step on to get to his ride than pause to sign an autograph. again, he's not the only one. shaq will sign autographs at autograph sessions, they tell me, but only if the item he is signing comes from one of his sponsors, otherwise, it's "sorry, kid, but i don't make any money from those guys." i think i'd be afraid to even try asking daryl strawberry for an autograph.

but if there was one episode i could point to that really summed up bonds for me, it would have to be some comments he made after losing game seven of the world series.

"What are you going to write? 'He had a good postseason and they still lose?'" [bonds] asked. "Doesn't that just show you that it takes a team to win it?"

"One-for-three with a walk," he said, citing his line in the box score. "Doesn't seem like a bad day, does it? What am I supposed to do, go 3-for-3 with three home runs? What do you want from me?"


i thought back to the '90, '91, and '92 NLCS games, back when barry was still playing for the bucs. all three were losing efforts, the last two were 4-3 nail-biters against the braves, the first a 4-2 stinker against the reds. during those years, bonds was consistently one of baseball's most dominant players during the regular season--in fact, he won the NLMVP in both '90 and '92. but come the playoffs, and he completely vanished. though surrounded by big bats and solid pitching, barry seemed to wilt in the playoff atmosphere. disgusted pittsburgh fans had taken to calling him "mr. september". he'd been given three opportunities to show that he could run with the big dogs, and he came off looking like a pup each time. little had changed after the jump to san francisco, at least, up until this last season's pennant race.

and then, finally, after all those harry houdini playoff seasons, bonds finally decides to show up. but--irony of ironies--no one else does. and what does barry do? face the situation with stoicism and humility? remember the long years of disappointment he'd engendered from one side of this continent to the other? nope, he disses his teammates, thumps his chest, and demands to know where in the hell everyone else is at.

you are wondering if i'm ever going to say anything about mario lemieux, right? the penguins general manager, craig patrick, had traded away what little talent the pens had towards the end of the '83-'84 season to ensure a last place finish, and the chance to draft le manifique. as a pen, mario toiled in obscurity throughout the eighties, surrounded by a cast of minor leaguers whose names i doubt anyone not from pittsburgh could recognize. patrick would take some has-been or never-was, stick him on lemieux's line, and the bum would finish the season with fifty goals. if he'd have sent mario out there with a fire hydrant and a broken roller skate for wingers, i doubt the results would have greatly differed. those were the years that wayne gretzky, blessed with health and a fabled supporting cast, was assaulting the record books in edmonton.

eventually, patrick managed to assemble a cup-caliber team and mario went on to lead the pens to two stanley cup victories, which came, oddly enough, during the very years in which barry bonds was leading the pirates to within a hair's breadth of the world series only to come up short again and again and again. but during those lean, early years, there were many a night in which mario lemieux seemed to be the only penguin on the ice, often factoring in on all or most of his teams goals, only to absorb yet another loss. i can recall those post-game interviews in which he'd promise reporters he would work harder, do more, and try his best to get a win. the cup years changed all that for a while, but then the injuries hit. first the back, then the cancer. surgery and radiation treatment took its toll, and some nights lemieux couldn't even bend over to tie his own skates, yet he somehow found a way to get on the ice and add another two or three notches to his points tally. mario probably could have left the pens for bigger money somewhere along the way, but he never did. after he had retired, he probably could have shrugged his shoulders upon learning that the pens (much like the pirates of today) were in dire straights financially speaking. but he didn't. he stuck by his team through futility and injury, and earned every letter of his name (which means "the best," by the way) emblazoned twice as it is on the cup. and when his playing days were over, he did as much to save the penguins off the ice as he had on it by rescuing them from bankruptcy and building an ownership consortium which kept hockey in pittsburgh. as if the guy hadn't done enough, he returned to the ice to save them once more, and in his comeback season as the first player-owner in sports history, he lead the pens to the stanley cup semi-finals. after that series ended 4 games to 1 in favor of the new jersey devils, a philosophical lemieux said this:

"Obviously it's disappointing right now," the 35-year-old center said. "But when you look back, it was a lot of fun to be part of the National Hockey League again."

"It's a tough grind out there, but there's no excuses," Lemieux said. "I did my best to get us to our goal, but it doesn't work out every year."

"You don't dominate in the playoffs anymore," Lemieux said. "It's a team game and that's how you win in the playoffs."


the similarities between the post game remarks of bonds and lemieux are superficial. "i did my best, but it wasn't enough. i came up short. i couldn't get it done for my team," was how lemieux seemed to feel. i'm not sure that barry bonds has ever uttered the word i except to follow it with some statement to the implicit effect of "am the greatest player ever" or "did my part but everyone else screwed up". i wouldn't give you two bucks for bond's homerun ball (well, i would, but only to sell it!) that ball, like barry, is everything that's wrong with baseball. to be honest, i'd trade it in an instant for the stick mario used to score five goals in five different ways in that legendary new year's eve game against the devils back in '88. that stick, like mario, is everything that's right with sports.

locdog wouldn't mind the puck that mario scored his first NHL goal with--on his first ever shift with his first ever shot and being hounded by ray borque every step of the way--either





12/17/2002

 

can't decide which story is more irrelevant...



the news that al gore isn't going to seek the presidency in '04, or this story. seems that if lott were to resign, a black democrat by the name of espy would take his place. except, well, why would lott resign? strom thurmond, who, according to timothy noah--arguably slate's most blatant democratic partisan--never amended his segregationist past, should probably precede lott out the door. in a just world, however, those two would be tiny specs in the rear-view mirror of robert "white nigger" byrd as he speeds back to the klan rallies and cross burnings from whence he came, and don't even get me started on the congressional black caucus...anyway, drudge must think this espy story is really something since it's the big 36 point font headline above his title, but i'm not sure i understand why. barbara streisand has a better chance of being appointed chairman of the RNC than this espy bloke has of getting lott's seat.

but wait, what's this? a dark horse comes charging past gore, zigs in front of espy, and takes the lead:

The American movie star, Sean Penn has condemned the US-British threats to wage war against Iraq.

He told press conference that there is no legitimate justification for the brutal campaign against an authentic state like Iraq.

He confirmed that Iraq is completely clear of weapons of mass destruction and the United Nations must adopt a positive stance towards Iraq.

He also condemned the US misleading claims arguing that it is the US and not Iraq who is practicing such illegal behavior.


that courtesy of the iraq daily newspaper and, once again, matt drudge. ordinarily, i'd probably make some snide remarks about the reliability of any publication with the word "iraq" in the title, but in this case, i see no prima facie grounds for mistrust. american celebreties. perhaps the dumbest, most useless people on the face of the earth. were they born anywhere else, or in any other time, they would have doubtless starved to death before they were old enough to do any real harm. but here in the good ol' u.s. of a., they are millionaires with opinions more respected than those of scientists, diplomats, and political leaders combined. the vanguard of american societal decay, they have suckled at the teat of a bankrupt culture until fat and happy, then promptly turned to maul the hand that feeds them. bah. who knows? maybe penn didn't say it. sad, though, that no one would bat an eyelash if he did.

well, that's our winner. in other news...i feel like dirt. i'm not sure if i'm under the weather or what but i haven't been able to focus enough to write much in the past few days--and that's really saying something, given my bottom-scraping standards. i hope i can shake this off before blogdom forgets about me!

locdog