Your hosts in the Hall of Super Justice:

Conservator: The Red-Blooded, Blue-Collared American Hero
Captain Capitalism: Valiant Protector of a Free Market
Libertaria: With her Bureaucratic Shrink Ray
The Dynamic Uno: A Lone Force Against Idiotarian Evil
Senator Stupendous: Mild-Mannered Page by Day

Monday, March 29, 2004

Captain: "Should we have a meteor protection plan?" askes Dennis Powell:

You are the president of the United States, and you receive the phone call.

"Mr. President," the person on the other end says, "there is a one-in-three chance that an asteroid more than 500 feet in diameter will strike somewhere in the northern hemisphere six days from now. We cannot be more precise, though we'll have better information in the next few days."

You are the president of the United States. What do you do?

...It turns out that something not very much unlike this almost happened two months ago. In January there was evidence that for several hours suggested that the Earth had a frighteningly good chance of being hit by a space rock 100 feet in diameter.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Captain: No. 2 Pencil links to a story about a moratorium being proposed on Delaware's new "three-tiered" high school diploma system:

Two state representatives from New Castle County said they will introduce legislation, perhaps as early as today, to put a moratorium on the state's controversial three-tiered high school diploma system set to take effect in June.

Thousands of high school seniors are to receive one of three kinds of diplomas this spring - basic, regular or distinguished - depending on how well they scored on standardized state tests administered in the 10th grade.

She goes on to talk about how this encourages dropouts--I can believe it. It doesn't make much sense to me to define someone's high school career around a test they took their sophomore year. How very demoralizing if you don't do well.

And what exactly is the point?

Captain: Right Wing News carries this homemade anti-Kerry ad:

The point, of course, is not that Kerry should be reprimanded for lying, because what he said wasn't a lie--it was a fair assessment given the facts as our intelligence (and the intelligence of scores of other countries and international organizations). The point is that it's two-faced for the Kerry camp to then criticize Bush for "lying" about weapons of mass destruction.

The idea that Bush somehow knew Hussein had no WMD and made it up as a pretense for going to war is ridiculous. There's just not a solid scrap of reason to back it up.

Captain: The medical world astounds me:

Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor.

Innsbruck-based lung specialist Prof Dr Friedrich Bischinger said people who pick their noses with their fingers were healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies.

He says society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up.

Dr Bischinger said: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Hi, I'm James: And the website of said story is http://www.theonion.com/news/ .

Hi, I'm James: I think this week's Onion cover story was made espcially for you, Conservator.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Captain: It is not, as it never is, that simple. Libertaria's argument is a good one--many people under the age of 18 are being taxed and simultaneously disfranchised. But, if "no taxation without representation" is your credo, is it true that:

1.) Those who are not taxed should not be represented? Conservator and I both work at Target, but neither of us has hit the minimum amount of total pay by our employer to be taxed at the state or federal level (I believe it's in the area of $6000.) However, we pay both Medicare and Social Security. Do those count?

2.) We should lower the voting age even more? In the state of North Carolina, permits for many occupations are available to persons as young as 14, and by 12 it is legal to have a paper route. From the age of 13, a judge can waive any restrictions on labor laws in order to alleviate family hardship. Should we therefore lower the voting age to 12?

So, in theory, I agree with Libertaria--18 doesn't give the youth of America enough credit. I don't think students are all that more informed or energized about public policy than they are at 16. Of course, such a change would surely bring an influx of Democratic voters, so for we Republicans it's not a very smart move politically.

Conservator: No way. The Social Justice Friends do not count as your normal kids. Most normal teenagers know more about their favorite band or videogame than they do about the government of the United States. Teenagers are super apathetic. And believe you me, organizations like MTV or parents will force kids to vote for ridiculous things. Its like those 8 year olds you see holding "Anti War" signs. They have no idea whats going on, but aww they're so cute!

As a working stiff who is also under the age of 18, I can also tell you that I simply don't make enough money to have alot of my income go to taxes. And furthermore the majority of which goes to social security.

In esscence it would be great if we could have kids voting. But there is no way in the world that it would be good for this nation at all.

Helen Rittelmeyer: California state Senator John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) wants to give fourteen-year-olds 1/4 of a vote, and sixteen-year-olds 1/2 of a vote, earning him the honor of having proposed the second silliest constitutional amendment of 2004 so far.

Betsy Newmark quips that anyone who wants to give fourteen-year-olds any portion of a vote must never have met one.

Having once been fourteen years old myself, and being just days away from my eighteenth birthday, I consider myself a fair judge of the 14-17 demographic, and I can say that the voting age ought to be lowered at least to sixteen, if not fourteen. One reason, of course, is that America has a poor history when it comes to splitting its citizens into fractions, 1/4 or 3/5. The second reason also dates back to the American Revolution, specifically its battle-cry, "No taxation without representation!"

If you are old enough told hold a job, according to federal law, it stands to reason that you ought to be able to have a say in where your tax dollars go. Anyone's perception of that age-group's maturity or experience is irrelevant.

As for the argument about apathy among younger voters: yeah, so? That just goes to show you that the sixteen-year-olds who watch MTV and cruise the mall probably won't become a menace to democracy and vote Ashton Kutcher into the Senate. The only 16-year-olds voting will the the active, informed ones who understand the issues, maybe even enough to do some light political blogging (?).

Or maybe just the ones who can quote Gide.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Captain: Wow. Is North Carolina ripe for a Democratic takeover?

RALEIGH, N.C. -- John Edwards returned to a hometown hero's welcome last Wednesday after losing 29 out of 30 contests, good enough for runner-up to John Kerry for the Democratic presidential nomination. While Sen. Edwards was given up for dead politically little more than a month ago, one public poll shows that today he would carry North Carolina against President Bush. More troubling to the Republicans than a transitory survey is what ails George W. Bush here.

It is not the war in Iraq, strongly supported in a state known for patriots and warriors. The GOP worries about the sea change here on international trade created by job losses blamed on foreign competition. Edwards' lurch toward protectionism at the end of his presidential campaign reflects the Democratic Party abandoning its heritage of free trade. But it is Republicans who have trouble coping with the new reality.

Republican politicians are chilled by a story making the rounds in the state's political circles. A delegation of North Carolina factory owners recently went to Washington to plead for relief from foreign competition. They returned complaining that the president's agents responded with the ''free trade'' mantra. Their verdict: They could no longer support Bush. North Carolina may be changing from a certain ''red'' state (carried by Bush with 56 percent in 2000) to a potential battleground with hopes for capturing Edwards' Senate seat diminishing.

I don't know, the military presence here accounts for a lot. I wouldn't be surprised to see Bowles come away with it, but I'll eat my hat if North Carolina becomes a "blue state" in November.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: Anyone else think it's strange that the new nickel design features the Louisiana Purchase, what with France not being on our Christmas card list anymore?

Not to mention that the hand "with a military cuff to symbolize the U.S. government" and the one "with an ornate bracelet to represent American Indians" are clasped in friendship. (!?!)

We gave up Monticello for this?

Captain: Puke.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: Oh Captain, my Captain, I am afraid that Jay Bryant was misinformed about John Kerry's 1971 testimony. The real text does not imply that Kerry himself actually witnessed any wrongdoing. Here is the whole passage:

I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.

It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings of the men who were reliving their experience in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads . . .

Kerry was acting as a representative for soldiers who had done these things. He hadn't seen, or, God forbid, actually done any personal raping or cutting off of various body parts.

And as for Soldier Bryant's rosy depiction of 'Nam: hasn't he ever seen Apocalypse Now? I mean, Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick didn't invent the horrors of war. I've seen Vietnam vets cry about the things they've seen, the tunnel rats, the LRRP's, and to call Kerry a liar . . . well, Bryant may himself have had a peaceful tour, but it is strange to me that he would be so unaware of the experiences of his fellow soldiers.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Captain: Jay Bryant posts a letter to Kerry from a Vietnam Vet:

After spending only four months in the country of Vietnam, you testified before Congress in 1971 with these exact words about incidents you say you witnessed: "They personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blew up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Viet Nam."

Spread that on a farmer's field where it will do some good. I spent a year there in 1968-69 in a combat arms unit. I was a Field Artillery Forward Observer in an Infantry company and I saw combat every day until I was wounded. When I returned from the hospital, I was assigned to an artillery battery. I saw brave men fight and die; I saw brave, good men pass out all their rations to hungry kids, build churches and schools, donate to orphanages, cry silently at the sight of villagers slaughtered by North Vietnamese, but I never saw anything approaching the war crimes that you happened to witness as your boat sped by villages on the river bank. If you witnessed atrocities and did not report them, you are guilty of aiding and abetting. If you lied, you are simply unfit for leadership at any level. The most serious incident I witnessed was a young sergeant who grabbed the arm of a Vietnamese woman during a village search. An older, more experienced noncommissioned officer knocked the sergeant to the ground and told him, somewhat forcefully, that that woman was someone's mother and would be treated with respect. That's it, Kerry, that's my confession - I didn't report the incident.

Hi, I'm James: I attended the John Edwards concession speech yesterday at Broughton. It was really interesting political theater.

They kept us waiting for more than an hour after they had originally said the speech would be. The gym was packed with supporters and Secret Service people were roaming the area. What suprised me was that they brought out Erskine Bowles and Lt. Governor Perdue out on the state (standing behind Edwards for the TV cameras) about 30 minutes before he spoke. He even kept them waiting. All the while, the sound system was blaring a series of songs that were obviously chosen for their ability to convey a part of Edward's message: "I'm coming out, I want the world to know, I'm gonna let it show", "I want you to want me", "You're life is now" (by Tom Petty, I believe) among about 15 others played on a loop. They probably have to buy the rights to the songs they play.

Finally, they brought out his wife and kids to stand on the stage, so we knew he was fainlly coming. They showed this video montage with music (different, specifically chosen music), which was isolated quotes from Edwards speeches with pictures of Edwards on the campaign trail. Then I saw him about a yard from me behind the curtain. His face was blank - he was probably getting focused. Some announcer said "Ladies and Gentlemen, John Edwards!" His head turned about 45 degrees forward like he was charging into the crowd and he immediately turned on his huge smile. He charged into the crowd, grabbing hands on the way up to the podium. Before he spoke, he put a big fist up in the air. And the crowd goes wild.

He gave a pretty good speech - better than the President could do. It was very - polished, but not TOO polished. He responded well to the crowd and to the antics of his little boy. He, like Dean, said he was "suspending" his campaign, not ending it - I wonder if this is a new trend.

Fascinating. It was all very fascinating, and very well designed. It was almost TOO well done - as if it were in a movie or on a TV show and the candidate was fictional. But thats exactly what it is, really, one in the same. Theater, as my comrad for the event Alex R. pointed out.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Conservator: That koala thing reminds me of the deer situation that occured in Conneticut. Or the rat thing that happened in Australia. Or the beaver problem that is happening in Clinton, NC recently? Perhaps its a trend that could be easily solved. BY not listening to aniaml rights activists and simply goin to town with a .22 rifle on the animal of choice.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Helen Rittelmeyer: Wow. Koalas. And I thought I had the most ridiculous article of the week.

Atrios caught this quote from Paul Cameron, an "anti-gay activist." Cameron isn't just a random nutcase, either. The man was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Court dissenting opinion in the gay marriage case. This one of Cameron's remarks seems almost like a parody of himself:

"Untrammeled homosexuality can take over and destroy a social system," says Cameron. "If you isolate sexuality as something solely for one's own personal amusement, and all you want is the most satisfying orgasm you can get- and that is what homosexuality seems to be-then homosexuality seems too powerful to resist. The evidence is that men do a better job on men and women on women, if all you are looking for is orgasm." So powerful is the allure of gays, Cameron believes, that if society approves that gay people, more and more heterosexuals will be inexorably drawn into homosexuality. "I'm convinced that lesbians are particularly good seducers," says Cameron. "People in homosexuality are incredibly evangelical," he adds, sounding evangelical himself. "It's pure sexuality. It's almost like pure heroin. It's such a rush. They are committed in almost a religious way. And they'll take enormous risks, do anything." He says that for married men and women, gay sex would be irresistible. "Marital sex tends toward the boring end," he points out. "Generally, it doesn't deliver the kind of sheer sexual pleasure that homosexual sex does" So, Cameron believes, within a few generations homosexuality would be come the dominant form of sexual behavior.

The biggest danger from gay marriage, it seems, is that sex will become fun.

Saints preserve us.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Hi, I'm James: It's about time they got blamed for something.

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