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Stupid NRO piece
John Samples has a silly article in today’s NRO, recounting an apocryphal conversation with a kids who sounds much like me. He does a terrible job coaxing him out of a Kerry vote.

“YoungMan,” I begin,

Mistake #1. Being called “young man” sends a warning through my nervous system warning me that the speaker is a dick and not worth listening to.

“George Bush is the Republican candidate. The Republicans are the party of limited government and individual liberty.”

“Says who?” YoungMan quickly replies. “The GOP has had control of the presidency and Congress since 2000. Discretionary domestic spending (that is, non-defense spending) began to rise early in Bush’s term. It started with education and ended up with a $16.6 trillion Medicare drug benefit. The Bush administration also seems to have abandoned Social Security reform. When was the last time you heard anything about that? Even the people who would be inclined to blame Congress for all the spending know that the president has never raised a finger to object to any spending at any time.”

I begin to wonder if YoungMan Intern owns a Prius with a “Re-Defeat Bush” bumper sticker on it. Probably not. He doesn’t live in Bethesda.

What? If the guy was a “Impeach Bushitler” type, why would he beef about Bush’s immense spending on New Deal programs?

“War is a big problem for me. It leads to killing people abroad and coercion at home. Like most things governments do, it is usually unjustified from the start or leads to perverse consequences. That said, every libertarian I know supported the war in Afghanistan after 9/11. Some of my friends supported the war in Iraq. Not me. The president didn’t make much of a case that Saddam Hussein represented a real threat to the life, liberty, or property of Americans. Then Bush started talking about democracy and endless wars of liberation. He’s a combination of Lyndon Johnson and Woodrow Wilson.”

“I don’t think he’s anything like LBJ. He doesn’t make Cheney come into the bathroom when he’s using it.” Once again my learned historical reference falls on deaf ears.

Insulting and irrelevant. This is familiar to anyone who read the third volume of Caro’s book. I would blow off this quip, too.

“To vote for Kerry you have to assume the Republicans will control Congress and be willing to limit his desire to expand government. That means you are voting for a president you don’t agree with at all,

But he DOES agree with him! If he opposes Bush’s foreign policy, odds are he likes Kerry’s lightfooted, pragmatic approach.

but you hope someone else will stop him from doing the things you disagree with but have nonetheless empowered him to do. Who’s supposed to stop him? The Republicans in Congress. The same people that have been spending money like drunken sailors.

Because they knew their Republican president would okay it. They did not behave so profiligately in the 1990s.

And that assumes they hold on to Congress. The House Democrats are way further left now then they were in 1994. If they win a majority in the House….”

An outcome almost unrelated to the election or re-election of Bush. If there are enough people like “YoungIntern” and me, voting GOP tickets with Kerry at the top, we’ll cede maybe 5-6 house seats to the Democrats and leave Kerry a cohabitated Hill, much like Clinton had. If Bush goes down, split-ticket voters are the author’s only hope.

“So you’re going to vote for Bush?” YoungMan interrupted.

I looked up at the bar’s TV. Europeans were running around in shorts playing kickball. The world seemed strange.

The world’s fine. You’re just shallow.

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Fark.com sucks
I checked the site’s most recent thread on USA Today and, sure enough, they hate us.

2004-06-23 01:48:10 PM sos

USA Today is a worthless newspaper anyway. I would never even pay 50 cents for a copy, let alone 75 cents. The only time I read it is when I am in a hotel and I get a free copy, or someone has left one somewhere and I am bored.

2004-06-23 01:53:24 PM Almighty

Does Firefox have some sort of utility on it that searches online forums for the word “popup” and posts some inane comment about not know what popups are because you use Firefox? Just wondering.

Anyway, I agree with sos, USA Today is worthless. I can’t even stand to read it for more than 5 minutes at a hotel , and I would never actually purchase a copy, regardless of price.

2004-06-23 02:08:23 PM mutt

I agree with pretty much everyone here that USA Today is worthless. I work in the hotel business and rarely read it even though it’s free. The rag is written for third graders. Reading the letters to the editor gives one an insight as the the level of literacy and intelligence of the average USA Today subscriber.

The Los Angeles Times has started a push to get the hotel market in Southern California by offering free copies to hotels in place of USA Today for one year – no strings attached. Thankfully, my hotel took them up on their offer.

And so on. This from a site with a special tag for articles that contain “boobies.”

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Earspam
I was pissed off yesterday when I spent an hour erasing spyware from my PC. This is far worse.

For the millions of blind and visually impaired Internet users around the world, using text-to-speech software is often the only way to check e-mail. But as the spam problem gets worse, more and more of those users are finding that having their e-mail read aloud can be a minefield. Listening to the next message in the inbox may reveal an important letter from an old friend or, more often, an embarrassing ad for penis-enhancement therapy.
(snip)
Dan Scissons, the IT director at the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind, said he came to the same conclusion after students at the academy began complaining about their spam problem. “We decided against using a client-side solution because that would be another burden we’d have to lay on the users,” he said. “They have a hard enough time learning what they need to.”

He said the 20 students who regularly used the Internet at the academy had begun to receive so much spam that they couldn’t read it all in a 50-minute study-hall period. “Some students were getting as many as 100 spam messages a day, while only three or four were from family members and three or four were from teachers.”

Is it still illegal to send anthrax to spammers?

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Hitchens on “Fahrenheit”
Christopher Hitchens’ expectedly terrific polemic on “Fahrenheit 9/11″ means a lot to me, because Michael Moore was responsible for instilling my pro-Iraq war opinions in the first pleace.

People forget this (mostly because Moore has such a complex about “corporate media”) but Moore hosted two pretty great TV shows in the 1990s. The first, TV Nation, ran on NBC and Fox from July 1994 to June 1995. The second, The Awful Truth, ran on Britain’s Channel 4 and America’s Bravo from April 1999 to September 2000. I caught ever episode of the latter show, including one where Moore airdropped TVs into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. But the most relevant was episode 23, where Moore interviewed Americans smuggling food and goods into Iraq, to save citizens dying under the sanctions and Saddam’s regime. I took this to mean that Iraq would better off if we removed Saddam and the sanctions, and in the shitstorm that is global geopolitics, the war seemed like the way to do that. Moore kinda disagrees.

The question really should be posed to NBC News and all of the other news agencies: Why didn’t you show us that the people that we’re going to bomb in a few days are these people, human beings who are living normal lives, kids flying kites, people just trying to get by in their daily existence.

Why am I getting such a different opinion watching his show than Moore developed filming it? Or has he just forgotten it?

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If you’re wondering about Al Sharpton’s ambitions
Note that he’s let his “signature organization’s” website die off.

If you haven’t picked up the new Atlantic (with reason – it’s been slipping lately), do so. Mark Bowden has a tremendous article about Sharpton’s fraudulent “presidential campaign” and how he makes his way because white liberals see a loud-mouthed preacher as the kind of leader black Americans are just supposed to have.

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Graduation report
My previous sentiments about commencement read bitter now, but I knew that would happen when I wrote them. I’m of two minds on the whole process. Only a few things are sure.

1.)I wish I’d wasted more time. In college I was obsessed with making the most of my student paper and breaking into real journalism. As a result I’m a little more employable than my peers and a lot less happy. You could throw a dart last week and hit someone on his cell phone planning a bar night, or hugging a friend, or heading off to a senior event. I didn’t really develop a close circle of friends who wanted to see me when I came back to town. Luckily, that only really mattered last week.

2.)I’m glad I un-burned my bridges. Editing a controversial newspaper led me to make bitter enemies out of campus celebrities who disagreed with me. The last time I would ever see Jonathan Katz, I specifically told him our tiffs didn’t matter and wished him well. The last time I’d ever see Jake Werner, I flashed him the copy of his magazine I held under my arm.

3.)My professors definitely mean more to me than my classmates. I promised more of the former to keep in touch with them.

As for the ceremonies themselves … well, they went as expected. I was a little blown away at just how good NPR’s Ann Garrells was at the Medill commencement, and how bad our band was (I got to try out my Chunklet-derived heckle “keep sucking!”).

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Alma mater
You know that part in “Half Baked” when Guillermo Diaz quits his fast food job and uses the cashier’s mic to tell off the whole restaurant? “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck YOU, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you, I’m out.”

I’m reenacting that at Northwestern. I really detested my last year or so on the campus, and am gleefully rebelling against it during my forced return for graduation. A week ago I got an e-mail affirming that my payment for my cap and gown was never recieved, so I showed up at the office on the first day of distribution to pick up an extra. Before I could, I was redirected to a room with 20-odd Apple iBooks, prompted to give me a “senior survey.” I clicked on it, filled out the first button of every answer, and gave my current address as Arlen, Texas.

Then I headed to the gown room for an extra. Surprise! There were no extras! I smiled at the attendent who gave me the news.

“Glad you guys are on the ball!” I said.

I headed over to the ticket-dispensing table where a fellow grad was chatting with the ticket guy. “Move it along,” I said.

And this is when it dawned on me – I’m one of the few people truly unhappy to be here. The rest of the campus and the insta-bureaucrats set up to service are smiling, forgiving and giggly. So if I blast them – they don’t do anything!

I asked the ticket guy for my commencement passes; he asked for my gown. I told him they had failed to order the extras and told me to come back tomorrow. The guy, an alumni-looking pensioner, sort of ruffled his expression and told me I couldn’t get my passes without a gown.

“So I have to come back tomorrow because you guys screwed up your order?”

He kind of stumbled – again, he wasn’t expecting rudeness.

“That’s great. Thanks for nothing, jackass!”

And I walked off, cutting right through a line of people waiting to pick up some corporate gift. It was GLORIOUS.