Friday, October 01, 2004

What condition my condition was in

I think Big Lebowski has to be one of the greatest comedies of all time. Its one of those movies where the first time you watch it, you think, 'what the hell did I just watch?' The second time you laugh your ass off. Then it just gets funnier....

I have been sitting here watching it (while drinking high quality beers, because, well, how else would you watch a good funny movie?) with Sean, Sarah, and Holly. And I decided I needed to share some of my most favorite lines:

The Dude after having his head thrown repeatedly in the toilet with the demand: "WHERE IS THE MONEY LEBOWSKI?"
The Dude: "It must be down there somewhere let me take another look"

Thug 1: "What the f#$* is this?" (holds up a bowling ball)
The Dude: "Obviously you are not a golfer"

While watching Bunny's porno flick about 'the cable man'
Maude Lebowski: "You can imagine where it goes from here..."
The Dude: "He fixes the cable?"

The Dude: "Its like Lenin said: uh 'you look for the man who will' uh 'benefit and' uh you know, 'there you' uh, you know!
Donnie: "I am the walrus" ...
Donnie: "I am the walrus"
Walter: "Shutup Donnie, V. I. Lenin, Vladmir Ilyuch Ulyonov"
Donnie: "What the f#$* is Walter talking about dude?"

While discussing the nihilists who attacked The Dude with a ferret and a bathtub (very dangerous)
Walter: "Nihilists? I mean, say what you want about the tenets of modern socialism, but at least its an ethought"

The Dude: "I need my Johnson"
Donny: "What do you need that for Dude?"

The Dude: "He treats objects like women, man"

The Dude: "She's not my special lady friend, man. She's my f#$*ing lady friend. We are just trying to conceive, man."

Bunnie Lebowski: "I'll suck your dick for a thousand dollars"
Brad: "Hahaha, she is very funny"
Bunnie: "Brad can't watch though, or he has to pay a hundred."
Brad: "Thats lovely"
The Dude: "I am just going to find a cash machine."

I am sure there are many more, feel free to add!

North Korea Bilateral Talks vs. 6 Nation Summit

One of the key policy differences in last nights debate was over how best to deal with North Korea. Kerry promises to have bilateral talks with North Korea while mainting multi-nation summits with North Korea and its neighbors. Bush feels that having bilateral talks will alienate China, and without China, any dealings with North Korea will certainly fail. I was taken by Bush's point. I thought it was a strong point and a huge risk... But according to fact checkers at the Washington Post, both Bush and I are dead wrong:

Bush said direct talks with North Korea would drive away China, a key player in the negotiations. But each of the other four countries in the talks has held direct talks with North Korea during the six-party process -- and China has repeatedly asked the Bush administration to talk directly with North Korea.

Bush vs. Kerry: Foreign Policy Debate

I was dreading last night's debate. After the Bush/Gore debacle of four years ago, I was afraid that Bush would show up the new stiff democratic candidate. Bush's simplistic style and ability to stay on message would surely be better than Kerry's rambling speach. But this did not happen.

In an interesting twist, Kerry finally seemed on message and seemed at ease with his position. He seemed comfortable, like he was making the point, "This is my turf now, you can just go back to the white house and pack up your things." Okay, maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I really thought the debates went well for Kerry. When the camera would provide shots of Kerry while Bush was speaking, he looked attentive, he smiled, he would jot notes down on his paper. Shots of Bush were the opposite. He looked angry at times, confused at others. Bush would jump on the moderator, in a hurry to get in his counter. Bush was, in a word, defensive. Instead of a debate about policy, this debate became what Kerry wanted: a referendum on the Iraq war. Bush tried to stick with his message that Kerry is a flip flopper who changes positions. But in this debate Kerry was the one who sounded like he was steadfast and consistent. At one point, Kerry explained how Bush changed his position in how they were going to approach Iraq initially. Kerry said that the "Bush campaign has a word for that." He made Bush appear to be the flip flopper. And he did this early in the debate. So every time Bush tried to stay on his 'Kerry Changes Positions' talking point, the viewer remembered that Bush changed positions too.

My brother called me up in the middle of the debate. Last I had heard from him, he was going to vote Bush. He said to me "Are you watching this? He is raving! Bush is insane! Call up every republican you know..." It was quite entertaining and I have to agree. Bush looked like an angry man last night, who's only justification for the choices he made as president is that he believes he was right. His message last night was 'trust me'. "I know what I am talking about, trust me." Kerry came to the debate and said, I will do this differently. And he gave points on how.

Overall, I thought it was a very interesting debate. And I truly feel that Kerry came out on top on this one. I only hope its not too late.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

New foe for our overextended military?

Well at least our military won't have far to travel. Iran has recently announced that it is starting to renew tests on uranium to convert to a gas suitable for enrichment to weapons grade. However Bush has made it clear that "our position is that they won't have a nuclear weapon." Now, Iran having nuclear weapons probably is pretty low on our wish list, and to give Bush credit, he does say that we will do our best to resolve the situation diplomatically, but he also seems to suggest that if that fails we will go to war with Iran. I don't see how we are going to manage a second war when a significant portion of our armed forces are stuck in the Iraq quagmire.

The frustrating thing about this situation comes when you consider whether Iran would have bothered trying to enrich uranium if we had left Iraq alone in the war on terror. The situation we now have is that two of the three members of the infamous "axis of evil", Iran and North Korea are actively pursuing nuclear weapons that the third member, Iraq, has NOT been interested in since the first gulf war, and didn't have a chance in hell of making!! And the main reason they are doing this, in my opinion, is that they were labeled 'evil' and fear that they will be the next victim of Bush's failed foreign policy. If we did not have our military committed in Iraq we would have the ability to make a show of force significant enough to prevent Iran and North Korea from their pursuits. And if we had never labled them as members of the axis of evil, they would not have been scared them into thinking that the only way to defend themselves was to develop nuclear weapons.

Bush leads the world? Really?

While attacking Kerry today Bush stated "You cannot expect to lead this world if you try to take both sides of every position." Now I will grant you being president of the United States is close to the most powerful position in the world. But to say that you lead the world is a bit rich coming from someone who ignored world opinion to wage an ill-advised war without any semblance of an exit strategy. Other than Britain and Australia and the right wing of the republican party, who exactly is Bush leading?

Friday, September 24, 2004

Globalization: Good or Evil?

The Adam Smith Institute is a British economic think tank specializing in free market analysis; their blog has had an interesting thread on globalization. My wife, Sarah, and I have had several discussions about free trade vs. fair trade and the third world. Often enough, I fail to provide any salient points and end up playing the heartless capitalist. The Adam Smith Institute helps back up some of my viewpoints: that allowing the free market to control wage and price is more effective in the long run than enforcing a minimum fair wage and fair price. Fair trade can be described as a socially conscious effort that causes people in industrialized countries to pay a premium in order for the farmer/artisan in the developing country get paid a fair wage.

However, it is my contention that fair trade policies actually perpetuate poverty in developing countries. This is partially because fair trade requires the creation of protectionist policies such as tariffs. One of the arguments against free trade is that the relaxation of trade barriers causes unhealthy competition by enabling large corporations to invest in developing countries and driving the individual producers out of business. But if you have 500 producers and the company that comes in can provide 500 jobs don't you break even? I am very pro-business because I know who pays my salary. If my company goes out of business because I demanded a higher wage then I have to take responsibility for that. I would prefer to have a low paying job with a large corporation than no job at all. In order for developing countries to develop, barriers to corporate investment need to be removed, not added as fair-traders demand. India is an excellent example of a country that removed barriers to development and since 1990 has seen a strong 6% annual growth rate in GDP. And this from a country that is constantly struggling with overpopulation.

The coffee industry is a popular case study for the fair trade vs. free trade debate. As coffee prices in recent years have plummeted, it has become increasingly popular to purchase 'fair trade' coffee. The effect is that 'fair-trade' producers are getting a higher price for their coffee. This logically encourages them to produce more coffee, thereby increasing the supply of coffee, which causes a decrease in the price of coffee. This is just simple micoeconomic theory. The reason the price for coffee is so low has little to do with worker exploitation, but everything to do with an abundance of supply. Buying 'fair-trade' coffee causes an increase in supply by inflating the price. It also encourages producers to continue producing coffee when they could be producing an alternative crop that could provide them with an economically supportable wage. The blogger Oliver Kamm notes that "subsidizing enterprises that can never be profitable will prevent the development of new businesses which could be. A better scheme is to support farmers efforts to diversify production."

Why Kerry frustrates me

Today, Kerry unveiled his great new plan to fight terror. While discussing his plans for the war on terror Kerry struck back at the Bush brand of conservative,

"I don't view these people as conservatives," Kerry said. "I actually view them as extreme, and I think their policies have been extreme, and that extends all the way to Iraq, where this president, in my judgment, diverted the real war on terror -- which was Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda -- and almost obsessively moved to deal with Iraq in a way that weakened our nation, overextended our armed forces, cost us $200 billion and created a breach in our oldest alliances."

Now, lets break this down for a moment... Kerry starts out saying the Bush administration is extreme. Okay good, I get that. Then the president diverted the real war on terror, and almost obsessively moved to deal with Iraq blah blah blah blah... Sorry John, you lost me a little bit. You see, like most Americans, I have the attention span of a three year old. Meanwhile Bush says things like "Al Qaeda bad." "Iraq bad." You see that works for me, gets to the point, minimal amount of words. And the largest word has five letters. I am not saying that the American electorate is stupid, but they do like things to be as simple as possible. This is where Kerry fails miserably and Bush gets reelected. Almost every sentence I have heard Kerry utter has contained at least three main points. Take the main points in the quote above, 1. Bush conservatives are extreme, 2. Real war on terror is against Al Qaeda, 3. Armed forces extended, 4. $200 Billion dollar price tag, 5. Alliances breached. All excellent points and they show why I am going to vote for Kerry in November. The problem is that most Americans will stop paying attention somewhere in the middle of his statement.

The other issue is he often intersperses statements with unassertive justifications like "in my judgment." Damnit John, just say "Bush has diverted attention from the real war on terror." Now move on to the next point. Saying "in my judgment" makes you sound weak and unassertive. And if you are weak and unassertive going after Bush, how can America trust you to be strong against terrorism?

I am thrilled that Kerry is finally standing up and laying out his plans a bit, and I hope he shows some strength in the upcoming debates. But, unless Kerry can simplify his statements and start making his points clear, I am forced to prepare for a big disappointment in November.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Unfortunate headline for the day:

"Group: Sex supplement claims bogus"

At least they could have stated which group they were talking about. Ah.... a quote from Old School comes to mind (and I paraphrase)... Mitch:"Then you take the early flight home, and some people in blind folds jump out of the bathroom ready to double team your girlfriend." Beanie:"I think what Mitch is trying to say is that love is blind."

One small step for me, one giant leap for... well, probably noone else, but one can dream right?

This is my first post, my first step into the new world of blogging. This is the time to ask the questions. What will this blog be about? Who will it speak to? Why do I think my opinion matters?

Well, my opinion matters to me... and thats good enough for a start. Who will it speak to? I presume friends and family will peak in on occasion, to see what I have been doing, others may stop in to listen to my bitching and complaining about whatever it is I am bitching and complaining about... which leads to the original question, What will this blog be about?

This blog is here for me to express my opinions about life, liberty, and the pursuit of a good beer. The blog will hit on these 3 main topics:

1. Current Events (War, politics, etc.)
2. My interests (books, movies)
3. Annoying stories about my life that will probably only interest me, but everyone else will have to suffer through.

So, 'indulge yourself, kick off your shoes, relax, sit back, and enjoy the melodies, afterall music soothes even the savage beast. '