Friday, August 18, 2006
"Oh my God, oh my God, they're going to kill me, this is going to be it. I don't know when but they're going to do it," I thought.
I crawled over to Abu Hassan, the one who seemed more grown-up and sympathetic. His 9mm pistol was by his side, as usual.
"You're my brother, you're truly my brother," I said in Arabic. "Promise me you will use this gun to kill me by your own hand. I don't want that knife, I don't want the knife, use the gun."
This from Jill Carroll, the Christian Science Monitor reporter kidnapped by Sunni terrorists in Iraq, as part of her series on her captivity.
And in her pleas for a quick and relatively painless death we see the face of those who have declare themselves our enemies. Those who have declared war on all of us. Those who would gleefully murder our children.
It is good that we are in Iraq, fighting these monsters, because that is what they are.
How could anyone other than a monster frighten a woman so badly that she would beg to shot instead of having her head cut off?
Friday, August 11, 2006
They sort of dance around the answers, tip-toeing around the issues. What we need in this fast-paced world we live in are answers that get to the point quickly.
It's one of those rare cases where I actually think I could do a better job than most of them.
So, below you'll find a sampling of letters to various columnists, with their reponses and then my alternatives. You decide.
Annie's Mailbox (by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar)
Dear Annie: Both my boyfriend and I are over 40. He has two teenage children, and so have I. We plan to marry early next year, and I will be moving into his house because it's paid for and there are enough bedrooms for each child.
The problem is, his children are very lazy. They don't pick up after themselves, and the place looks like a tornado hit it. I figured when it got dirty enough, someone would clean it, but that never happens. Sometimes I go over there and want to faint.
I will not accept this slovenly behavior when their father and I marry. What can I do? Give me some ideas, please. -- Not Domestic Help
Their Answer: First, don't come on like gangbusters. They will resent it and can make all kinds of problems for you. You need to develop a solid, loving relationship with these children, and it would be best if housekeeping did not become a major source of conflict.
You and your boyfriend should make a list of chores that are distributed equally among all members of the household. He should be primarily in charge of monitoring his children, at least initially. You can remind them, gently, that it's Child A's turn to do dishes, or Child B needs to pick up his clothes, but don't call them slobs or yell about the mess. Check out the National Stepfamily Resource Center (stepfamilies.info) for more suggestions.
My Answer: Okay, you're an idiot. If you think anything is going to change after you two get married, you're nuts. So, crazy and stupid -- not a good mix. If you have any shot at all at fixing this you have to do it now -- tell that Reginald Q. McSissyboy that you're marrying that HE better man up to this and get his kids and his house under control and he can look someplace else for his good lovin'.
Dear Abby (By "Abigail Van Buren")
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Clay," has a very abnormal relationship with his mother. (I'll call her "Jewel," although she's far from one.)
Clay frequently tells me I'll never be as perfect as Jewel, that she's a living saint. He tells her how much money he makes, but he won't tell me, and he refuses to tell me where his money goes. He insists we have separate checking accounts, but he shares an account with Jewel. Abby, Clay earns three or four times as much as I do, but he never helps financially.
He never buys groceries, and I've had to pawn my jewelry, work overtime and beg my parents for money to put food on the table for our three children. Clay will pay nothing toward the children's clothing or doctor visits, and he has never bought them -- or me -- a gift for any occasion. He has never bought anything for our home, either.
Jewel is nosy and butts into every aspect of our lives. She claims she "loves" us and is "trying to help." When she calls, if no one answers, she demands to know where we were -- and Clay tells her. If he goes somewhere alone and I ask where he's been, he says it's none of my business and accuses me of being controlling. Jewel calls to question him five times a day and it's OK, but when I ask him anything, I'm "intruding" on his life.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. Abby, how can I get him to understand how his relationship with his mother is hurting me? Mothers and sons should be close, but not that close. It's time for him to cut the umbilical cord. I'm desperate -- please help me. -- MARRIED TO A MAMA'S BOY
Her Answer: The "saint" in the family must be you -- for having tolerated this situation long enough to have three children with this man.
Your mother-in-law may be part of your problem, but your marriage to Clay is so out of balance I almost hesitate to call it a marriage. When people marry, they have certain financial obligations toward each other that Clay seems to have ignored completely.
Marriage counseling might be helpful, but only after you have consulted a lawyer to learn what your rights are -- because it seems to me you're enduring all of the hassles and enjoying none of the privileges of marriage.My Answer: Okay, you're an idiot. What were you thinking when you married this loser? Had you MET his mother beforehand? This situation is hopeless. Here's what you need to do: a) get a good lawyer and file for divorce; b) pack Clay a suitcase and put it on the front porch with a note telling him to go back to his "perfect" mother; c) change the locks. The sooner the better. You'll be far better off without him AND his mother.
Dear Margo (by Margo)
DEAR MARGO: My wife has always had what I refer to as a "trucker's mouth." Her whole family does. They can have conversations averaging at least one swear word per sentence. I'm no puritan and can swear with the best of them, but when I do, I try to do so only in appropriate company.
In the two years since our daughter "Gloria" was born, I've been asking my wife to curb her swearing. Alas, the cursing continues. I wasn't so worried during the first 12 months, figuring I'd give my wife some time to transition herself, and also because my daughter was too young to understand a swear word from any other word.
Now Gloria is 2, and she's talking up a storm. This battle came to a head last night when my wife was so wound up that she kept swearing about this and that, even after I repeatedly asked her to stop. (We were out for a walk with Gloria at the time.) She didn't, so I walked away from her, taking Gloria with me. We haven't spoken since.
--- CURSED IN MASSACHUSETTS
Her Answer: Well, at least you're not hearing her swear. (Kidding.) This is a problem you are unlikely to be able to fix. People who rely overly on swear words reveal a poverty of language skills, and to retrain an adult would be very difficult.
You are right about kids picking up on this language, however. Perhaps the first time your wife hears Gloria mention &*^%$# to her grandmother, she might rethink what she says. Failing this, should Gloria start talking like a sailor before she even knows what the words mean, you need to be the one to tell her that while Mommy is saying a no-no, Gloria is not allowed to.
I do believe there's a way to use an occasional vulgarity in conversation and still stay within the bounds of polite society. Ahem. But you have to gauge where you are. I had a bit of a potty mouth when my kids were little, but they were somehow able to understand the restriction: "Not in front of Gram!" Good luck.My answer: Okay, you're an idiot. Seriously, you, your wife and your in-laws sound like a real delight. But at least you get that it's a problem, and you took the first step last night -- literally. When your wife "Tractor Sally" starts up, walk away and take the child. She'll get the point. And if she doesn't, keep walking. Stop pleading and start punishing. Time to grow a set and act like a man, sonny.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Lost in the post-election media gushing over Lamont's victory against incumbent Joe Lieberman is what happened to Lieberman's Web site, which crashed less than 24 hours before the election.
A NY Times story yesterday chronicles the event but provides no resolution. Here's a synopsis:
On Monday, Lieberman's site crashed under what his Internet provider said was an unusually large swell of traffic -- characterized as a denial of service attack. Lieberman's team immediately blamed the Lamont camp.
Lamont's team and his supporters denied they were involved, saying that Lieberman's site collapsed under its own weight because of inadequate server capacity. They claimed that site only had only 10 gigabytes per month of capacity.
But Lieberman's Internet service provider countered that the site actually had 200 gigabytes per month of capacity, which should have been ample.
Assuming that's true, the site was almost certainly targeted for a DOS attack -- it had, in fact, been hacked twice in the previous month.
Could losing the site less than a day before the election have made a difference in the outcome? Most certainly, considering that Lamont only prevailed by a margin of only 4 percent over Lieberman.
If Lamont's organization wasn't directly involved in the attack, it's almost certain that some of his supporters were.
Which raises questions about the character of his supporters, as well as his own --it's that whole "the company you keep" thing.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
One could conclude that there were many reasons Lamont won -- Lieberman didn't run hard enough, Lamont tapped a rich vein of anger over the war, etc.
But the primary reason he won was because Lamont ran a very focused, very negative, very well-funded one-note campaign. And those types of campaigns work -- pity the voters who fall for it, and the rest of us who have to live with it.
His nomination also plays right into the hands of the Republicans, who can point to one more antiwar extremist Democrat candidate this call and paint all their opponents that way.
Proving that Abe Lincoln was right when he said you can fool some of the people all the time, Lamont polled 52 percent of the vote to Lieberman's 48 percent. To hear the talking heads tell it last night you would have thought Lamont had unceremoniously trounced Lieberman.
But he didn't, and the thin margin has encouraged Lieberman to run as an independent in the fall -- a bid he will likely win, according to political analyst Ken Rudin over at NPR.
And should anyone come to the conclusion that this marks some kind of national trend, take a look at Georgia, where Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney -- every bit as big an antiwar nutjob as Lamont -- also lost her primary to a nobody from nowhere.
McKinney -- known for her outrageous claims that the president knew about 9/11 beforehand, her vicious disagreement over the war, and for occasionally slapping police officers -- of course blamed everyone and everything else for her loss -- whites, Republicans, the voting machines, etc.
Why, she was so upset with the results, she had to rough up some news crews.
Monday, August 07, 2006
The Associated Press reports Lieberman got support from the Norwich Bulletin, the New Haven Register, The Day of New London and the Danbury News-Times.
He also was endorsed by the Hartford Courant and, most tellingly perhaps, the Greenwich Time -- the newspaper in Lamont's own hometown, where he performed his only service as an elected official as a town selectman.
A recurrent theme through the editorials: experience. Lieberman has tons, says the Greenwich Time, and Lamont very little.
While most call out Lieberman's support for the war as a negative, they all note that his balanced record and consistent service make him the more admirable candidate. And they also note that if he loses the primary but prevails in the general election as an independent, the Democrats lose a seat in Congress.
Meanwhile, current polls show the race tightening. Lamont had surged to a 13-point lead last week, but Lieberman has charged back trimming that lead to just six points.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Seems appropriate -- a dim dilettante candidate appearing on a fake news interview program.
Lamont is challenging incumbent and fellow Democrate Joe Lieberman, running on a "retreat and defeat" antiwar platform.
And he may win -- at least the primary next Tuesday, with polls currently showing him in the lead but within the margin of error. That's okay -- Lieberman would likely run as an independent, making it more palatable for Republicans to vote for him.
A story in the Stamford Advocate on his TV appearance flatters Lamont, but it seems pretty clear that he didn't get the jokes. As for delivering his message, he relied on glib one-liners like "We got into this mess not because we asked too many questions, but too few."
Of course, he didn't define what those unasked questions were -- probably because there weren't actually any.
Lamont's campaign platform epitomizes those of Democratic challengers this year -- they're mad about the war. Mad, mad, mad!
Unfortunately, they offer little else other than their anger.
When asked by Colbert what else motivated him to run, Lamont sputters about the deficit (which is declining, actually), health care, energy, and lobbyists' influence in Washington. Almost like he actually took the time to read the headlines in the New York Times before the interview.
Of course, what he hasn't done is show how he differentiates himself on those issues from Lieberman.
So it really just comes down to the war.
Ah well, Connecticut is a blue state however, and many will almost certainly overlook his lack of substance. Another rich liberal from Greenwich in Congress -- yeah, boy, howdy, that's just what we need. I guess they don't call it the Numbnuts State for nothing.
Oh wait -- that's Nutmeg State. Whatever.