The Daily Rant©
May 2004 Archive 

May 31, 2004

May 30, 2004

Kurt Vonnegut Rants...

How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. …

And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform.  Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes.  But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings.  And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus.  I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom?  “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon?  Give me a break!

May 29, 2004

From the Rant Archives...

March 17, "our world-be-damned war in Iraq, will continue to fuel the fires of terrorism assuring that that war will go on and on."

April 14, "in the name of fighting terrorism, Bush is fueling it."

May 4, "just as images of 9/11 fired the patriotism of Americans, the abuses of Iraqi prisoners will be a boon to recruiting by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations."

May 29, "Bush is campaigning on his strength in combating terrorism."

Definition: CHUTZPAH 
When a boy kills both his parents and begs the court for mercy because he's an orphan.


David Letterman:  "Al Gore is back. At a recent speech, he called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.  And Donald Rumsfeld, in response, stripped Gore naked and ran him around on a leash."

May 28, 2004

A joke or a philosophy?

I recently picked a new primary care physician. After two visits and exhaustive lab test, he said I was
doing "fairly well" for my age.  A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, "Do you think I'll live to be 80?"

He asked, "well, do you smoke tobacco or drink beer or wine?"

"Oh no", I replied. "I've never done either."

Then he asked, "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"

I said, "No, I heard that all red meat is very unhealthy."

"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf / sailing / ballooning / motorcycling / rock

"No I don't", I said.

He said, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or sexually fool around?"

"No", I said. "I have never done any of those things."
He looked at me and said, "Then why do you give a shit if you live to be 80?"

Jay Leno:  "Ashcroft went on to say that our way of life is being threatened by a group of radical religious fanatics who are armed and dangerous. And then he called for prayers in the schools and an end to gun control." 

May 27, 2004

Craig Kilborn:  "If Bush really wants to prove what a great job he's doing over there, he should just walk around Baghdad shouting, 'You're welcome everyone.'" 

Jay Leno:  "President Bush said last night that there will be a new president in Iraq. In fact to give him a chance they're going to give him a 30-second head start." 

"He also said that Iraq will have two vice presidents. See that's when you know that they don't expect the president to last that long — when they have a back up guy for the back up guy."

May 26, 2004

The Monetary Cost of Iraq...
(With all respect to the 798 U.S. military fatalities as of 5/25/04)

With $166 billion already spent, Bush's Monday night speech provided no answers about how much the war will ultimately cost Americans.  As Rep. David Obey noted, by the end of this year, "we will have spent on Iraq more than the United States spent on World War I, and that's after it's adjusted for inflation."  Instead of fessing up to this reality, the president trumpeted the fact that Iraqi oil revenues had reached $6 billion, expecting Americans to forget that before the war, the administration told Congress Iraq's oil revenues would bring in "between $50 and $100 billion" in the first two to three years, and that Iraq "can really finance its own reconstruction."  The president also provided no justification for why he is pushing $1 trillion in new tax cuts at the same time he wants Congress to increase the national debt to finance more spending on the war.  According to the LA Times' Ron Brownstein, the Bush cut-taxes-and-war-spend policy is the first of its kind in American history: every president since Lincoln who faced a major war asked the country to sacrifice by paying more taxes.

Source: Center for American Progress

Jimmy Kimmel:  "President Bush addressed the nation tonight and as always he was hilarious. ... Does it scare anyone else that the president has strokes in between syllables?" 

May 25, 2004

SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Criticizing George W. Bush is unpatriotic and may be hazardous to your health.

Evidence:  Joseph Wilson (and his wife), Paul O'Niell, and Richard Clarke.

Last week, Senator McCain gave a speech excoriating both political parties for refusing to sacrifice their tax-cutting and spending agendas in a time of war.  The next day, House Speaker Hastert shot back: "If you want to see sacrifice, John McCain ought to visit our young men and women at Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) and Bethesda (Naval Hospital). There's the sacrifice in this country."

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter castigated Senate Republicans for continuing their public investigations of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, accusing them of undermining the war effort.

Craig Kilborn:  "President Bush still says Iraq has weapons of mass destruction we never found. It sounds like he is back on those drugs he never did." 

May 24, 2004

Fran and Terri!

May 23, 2004

Where are we headed?

Bush has refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty on Global Warming and argued for drilling for oil in pristine wilderness areas.  These are not the answers for the environment or for solving our energy problems.

I recently learned about the Apollo Alliance, a $300 billion, public-private program to create three million new, clean energy jobs to free America from foreign oil dependence in ten years.  Apollo is promoting its Ten Point Plan.

1. Promote Advanced Technology & Hybrid Cars
2. Invest In More Efficient Factories
3. Encourage High Performance Building
4. Increase Use of Energy Efficient Appliances
5. Modernize Electrical Infrastructure
6. Expand Renewable Energy Development
7. Improve Transportation Options
8. Reinvest In Smart Urban Growth
9. Plan For A Hydrogen Future
10. Preserve Regulatory Protections

These are long-term goals - but it is imperative that we move forward.  John Kerry supports the Apollo Alliance and will seek to implement its plan.  We can't afford four more years of going in reverse.

May 22, 2004

It is unpatriotic to criticize Bush...

Interviewer:  Congressman Delay, what is your response to the statements of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to the effect that Bush is an incompetent leader, not a leader, a person who has no judgment, no experience, and no knowledge of the subjects that he has to decide upon?

Tom Delay:  She apparently is so caught up in partisan hatred for President Bush that her words are putting American lives at risk.

Interviewer:  Do you not agree with the sentiment of the famous Voltaire quote, "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to death your right to say it."?

Tom Delay:  Voltaire was French.  John Kerry speaks French.  Americans aren't interested in anything those people have to say.

May 21, 2004

I'm mad as hell...

Bernie Kosar opened a steakhouse one-half mile from my home.  I have always been a big fan of Bernie, both on and off the field.  Nobody wanted Bernie's Steakhouse to be great more than I.  Sadly, this place was a five interception dinner.  Look for post-game stats soon on www.placeforsteak.com.

May 20, 2004

Jay Leno:  "The Bush administration renewed its call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  So I guess they feel the only time that guys should be on top of each other naked is in an Iraqi prison."

May 19, 2004

WOW!  The Big Unit is perfect...
ATLANTA (AP) -- Arizona's Randy Johnson became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a perfect game, retiring all 27 hitters to lead the Diamondbacks over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 Tuesday night.

It was one of those memorable moments in sports.

  • This was the first perfect game in almost five years in MLB - the first in almost thirteen years in the NL.
  • The Atlanta fans were on their feet applauding Johnson in the ninth inning - they knew they were watching baseball history.
  • Johnson's fastball was clocked at 98 mph in the late innings.

I'm glad to have seen this.

May 18, 2004

Conan O'Brien:  "A Bush administration official told Congress yesterday that the war in Iraq could cost almost 60 billion dollars. President Bush said he plans to pay for it with a video series called 'Prison Guards Gone Wild." 

Jay Leno:  "They asked President Bush why we didn't observe the Geneva convention and Bush said, 'That's easy, we weren't in Geneva. We're in Iraq.'"

Jimmy Fallon:  "Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Baghdad this week where he told reporters, 'If anyone thinks I'm here to throw water on a fire, they're wrong.' So, more bad news for Iraqi prisoners who are on fire." 

May 17, 2004

May 16, 2004

What are they thinking?

It is not a trend.  It has been going on for decades.  People plan weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and the like to maximize the enjoyment of their guests to the nth degree.  Hosts agonize over table assignments to achieve the perfect mix of guests at every table.  Fortunes are spent on food, flowers, and entertainment.  It is the entertainment about which I rant today.

Why in the world do people hire bands and permit them to blast music so loud that people can't converse with their tablemates, that those lucky enough to have hearing aids turn them off, and others who lack the foresight to bring ear plugs are literally holding their hands over their ears?

I know this rant appears to be sarcastic, but I am serious.  I welcome any reader who can explain this phenomenon to me to send me an e-mail.  Contrary to the consensus, I can be educated.

May 15, 2004

David Letterman:  "President George Bush's approval rating has dropped to 46 percent. Let me put this in perspective. Saddam Hussein's approval rating is 49 percent. ... But Bush is not worried. That's the kind of grades that got him through Yale." 

May 14, 2004

The Big Apple...

I spent the last two days in NYC, seeing some plays and eating some good meals.  Manhattan is one of the more interesting cities in the world to walk in.  However, in recent years since a progressive clean indoor air act was enacted, it seems (to a non-smoker) that every other person on the sidewalks is smoking.  Even with a breeze, there are times when the second-hand smoke is intolerable to non-smokers.

What if they took one of those subway sidewalk grates on each block, painted a big red line around it, and put big fans underneath to create a downdraft.  These could be designated smoking areas and the smokers could drop their ashes and their butts into the grate.

The rest of the world's problems?  Just call me and I'll work on a solution.

May 13, 2004

Today's Theme:  Accountability, part 2...

I am a big fan of the Seinfeld TV show.  I can recite scenes and dialog from dozens of episodes.  For instance, remember the one where Jerry is traveling and goes to the car rental counter only to find that they do not have a car to honor his reservation?  Jerry tells the rental agent that he doesn't tink the rental company understands what it means to take a reservation.  When the agent disagrees, Jerry says that taking a reservation without honoring it is meaningless.

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, in recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib. These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility...

May 12, 2004

Today's Theme:  Accountability...

But there is accountability!

Before the war in Iraq, General Eric Shinseki, then the army chief of staff, said that Bush was going to need "several hundred thousand" soldiers to occupy and stabilize the country. The general was denounced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then ushered into retirement. 

Jay Leno:  "Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that he was responsible for the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners.  And today President Bush said the abuse was cruel and disgraceful and an affront to the most basic standards of morality and decency. And then he told Rumsfeld that he was doing a superb job. Then Rumsfeld said, 'What the hell do I gotta do to get fired?'" 

May 11, 2004

Jay Leno:  "The Bush administration is now asking Congress for another 25 billion for the war in Iraq. I don't know what they're going to be buying with this money, but I think we can rule out anymore digital cameras." 

"Rush Limbaugh spoke out on the Iraqi prison pictures situation today. He said it's entirely generated by the media. What? Is this guy on drugs?"

"Here's how bad the situation in Iraq is right now. Supposedly we still have 40 rolls of film we're afraid to pick up at the Fallujah photo lab."

David Letterman:  "President Bush has two daughters and they're graduating from college. President Bush says he will not be attending the graduation because he does not want to create a distraction. I believe that is the same excuse he used in the National Guard."

May 10, 2004

A Conservative Viewpoint!

Nancy Reagan Speaks Out for Stem Cell Research

BEVERLY HILLS — Nancy Reagan broke ranks with conservative Republicans and spoke out for the first time in favor of stem cell research, while being honored at a star-studded fund-raiser.

Hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to benefit controversial stem cell research, Saturday night's "Find a Cure" gala was the foundation's first fund-raising event specifically for support of stem cell research.

Many researchers believe stem cell research could find a cure for diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other diseases.

After being helped to the stage and speaking in a quiet voice, the former first lady said the research is too important to become a partisan political issue.

"Science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that for so long have been beyond our grasp," she said. "I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this."

She said former President Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's disease is so far advanced that it can't be cured, but that the research might spare other families in the future.

"Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place, where I can no longer reach him," she said. "We've lost so much time already, and I just really can't bear to lose any more."

"The notion that Nancy Reagan, who has such great credibility, was supporting this issue was quite startling to people," he said.

Giglio said the former first lady "undermined an awful lot of things pro-life people have tried to do."

Nancy Reagan worked behind the scenes to help block legislation to criminalize therapeutic cloning, a process that could avoid the rejection problems plaguing today's transplant programs.

The measure was critical for CuresNow founders. Rejection of new insulin-producing cells is the biggest hurdle in experimental transplants that have cured about half of diabetic subjects.

Nancy Reagan's quiet persuasion also helped win over some leading abortion foes such as conservative Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.  But she had limited success with Bush. The president, in a nationally televised address Aug. 9, 2001, said she'd written him about her husband's struggle with Alzheimer's. But he had to encourage respect for life.

So he sought to strike a compromise. He limited federal money to research on stem cells that had been harvested. There, he said, the "life and death decision has already been made."

Of the 78 stem cell lines eventually qualifying for federal funding, only 19 have been made available to researchers because of difficulties in developing them. Four more might be available soon. But all the lines were developed atop mouse feeder cells, further limiting their use in human treatments.

"This ruling by the president has essentially limited, if not stopped ... stem cell research in most places in the country," Nobel laureate Paul Berg said.

Bush held out hope for great scientific progress with adult stem cells, which don't require an embryo's destruction.

But scientists say the adult cells don't have the ability to turn into as wide a range of cells as embryonic stem cells do.

"We don't know enough about adult, embryonic or germ stem cells to know if we should go down one road or another," said Daniel Perry, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. "We should go down all the roads ... to find cures as soon as possible."

May 9, 2004

Goliath beats David!

Republican defenders of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are grounding their praise in the fact that Rumsfeld has led the Defense Department to "astonishing" victories in two wars.

Astonishing?  Are you kidding me?  He beat Saddam Hussein twice.  Iraq had a third-rate army with no air support.  If either war had been anything other than a cakewalk, it would have been historical.  In fact, in the second war, it now appears that the armed forces of Iraq disbursed into the population and have been waging a successful guerilla war since the time Bush declared victory.

No, if Rumsfeld is to be praised, it should be as one of the most articulate and charismatic Secretaries of Defense in recent memory, not as a military genius.

Craig Kilborn:  "President Bush apologized on TV to Iraqi prisoners. I don't know if the apology was sincere, because at the end, he says, 'I'm George Bush and I approve of this naked pyramid.'"

May 8, 2004

From yesterday's Senate hearing:

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, in recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib. These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility...

SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Needless to say, if I felt I could not be effective, I'd resign in a minute. I would not resign simply because people try to make a political issue out of it... 

SENATOR BAYH: Your resignation has been called for; that's a pretty serious thing for any of us. And you answered that if you ever concluded that you could not be effective in discharging your duties, you would step down. But that you would not do so as part of a political witch-hunt, so to speak.

There's another aspect of this, though, I'd like to ask your opinion about, and that is whether, in your opinion -- and I know it is ultimately a decision for the president to make. But in your opinion, even though you weren't personally involved in the underlying acts here, would it serve to demonstrate how seriously we take this situation, and therefore help to undo some of the damage to our reputation, if you were to step down? 

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: That's possible. 

"I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility."
What does this mean?  What are the consequences?  Is Rumsfeld's responsibility limited to being contrite in his appearance in the Senate?

I don't disagree with Rumsfeld that some of the calls for his resignation are politically motivated.  And I don't disagree with Rumsfeld that it would be wrong to resign solely over politics.  However, Rumsfeld was less than honest when he only acknowledged that it is "possible" that his resignation would demonstrate to the world that America takes the prison abuse scandal very seriously and that his resignation would significantly mitigate the critical view many in the world have of our abuse of Iraqi prisoners.  

In my opinion, Rumsfeld's refusal to resign to bolster the American image abroad is politically motivated.  Bush and Rumsfeld know that Rumsfeld's resignation would be a political liability for Bush and Bush is unwilling to take this political hit in the midst of an election campaign.  In the end, it is the Republicans who are placing politics above patriotism.

"I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you, to hear that gambling is going on in this establishment!"

May 7, 2004

Friends (the TV show)...

It ended last night.  Yawn.

Rob Corddry:  "It seems that the path to the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is not through their electrified genitals.  Now we know.  Lesson learned."

May 6, 2004

More Republican BS...

Former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough hosts Scarborough Country on MSNBC.  Last night, while acknowledging the unacceptable nature of the Iraq prison scandal, he denounced those who oppose the war in Iraq as being the "ultimate hypocrites" for now speaking out about the rights of Iraqis when they have opposed the war to win Iraq's freedom.  

My response is simple.  There are extraordinary abuses of human rights going on in too many countries to list.  The U.S. cannot and should not be the rights police of the world.  But the disclosure that the U.S. is perpetrating these abuses has rightfully mortified most Americans.

May 5, 2004

Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. made the following statement yesterday regarding the issue of U.S. treatment of Iraqi prisoners:

"What happened in Iraq’s prisons is appalling and must be addressed with far more urgency than the Administration has demonstrated so far.  It’s the single most damaging act to our interests in the region in the last decade, and it will negatively affect our national security.  Accountability is essential. So the question for me is what did Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the Pentagon know, when did they know it, and what did they do about it.  If the answers are unsatisfactory, resignations should be sought." 

Jay Leno:  "The Supreme Court is now deciding whether the president can detain an American citizen indefinitely without legal counsel. What? Isn't this why we left England? Didn't we have a King George once already? Hello?"

May 4, 2004

It keeps getting worse...

On March 17, I ranted that our world-be-damned war in Iraq, will continue to fuel the fires of terrorism assuring that that war will go on and on. 

On April 14, I ranted that "in the name of fighting terrorism, Bush is fueling it."

On April 29, I ranted that "by denying the Guantanamo prisoners even the rights guaranteed POW's under the Geneva Convention, the United States has abdicated any claims of leadership for justice it might have had in the eyes of the world."

On May 1, President Bush said, "A year ago I did give the speech from the carrier saying we had achieved an important objective, accomplished a mission, which was the removal of Saddam Hussein. As a result, there are no longer torture chambers or mass graves or rape rooms in Iraq."

Now, we have the photographs documenting horrors in U.S. run prisons in Iraq.  That the conduct depicted in the photographs may be isolated incidents (as opposed to the tip of the iceberg) is of no consequence to the Islamic world which welcomed the evidence to support that which they already believed - Americans are infidels against whom a holy war, an infitada, must be waged.  Just as images of 9/11 fired the patriotism of Americans, the abuses of Iraqi prisoners will be a boon to recruiting by al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.  Moreover, any chance that the U.S. had of becoming an "honest broker" for peace in the Middle East has been set back irreparably.

To those Americans who are embarrassed and outraged by the conduct of certain Americans in Iraq but refuse to place any blame on the military leadership and the commander-in-chief, I have several points to make:

May 3, 2004

Jax Jazz, Day 3...

We can't say enough nice things about the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.  The lineup of talent was truly amazing.  Today, we particularly enjoyed the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the three Verve vocalists, Karrin Allyson, Sarah Gazarek, and Oleta Adams.  Two other acts - Keiko Matsui and George Benson - were very popular with many in the crowd.  Neither played what I consider to be jazz.  

Matsui plays new age crap ala Kenny G, David Benoit, etc.  I readily acknowledge that she is a gifted musician.  I just wish she played something other than music which should be piped into Saddam Hussein's cell 24/7.

George Benson is a brilliant guitarist/singer.  He has eight Grammy's to prove the point.  However, most of his music is more of a R&B or pop genre.  I genuinely like This Masquerade but found most of the rest of his performance not to my liking.

A word about Sarah Gazarek.  She is a USC student who has been signed by Verve and apparently is a protégé of Karrin Allyson.  Sarah is in good company.  However, Karrin ought to have a word with Sarah about performance attire.  Sarah came out on stage wearing a T-shirt which said "Yes I Am Single", a black flared skirt (above the knees), and blue jeans with wide tears at the knees under the skirt.  Oh, yes.  She also had on a man's cap of some sort.  No wonder she is still single.  But she can really deliver a song.

Let me reiterate that this festival was free.  We'll be back.


May 2, 2004

Jax Jazz, Day 2...

Called on account of rain at about 6:30 PM - but not before we enjoyed five different groups including Michael Buble (who was singin in the rain) and Branford Marsalis.  I am fascinated by and curious about the economics of this festival.  So much talent on stage and yet there is no admission charge.  I'll have to look into this.

We are looking forward to Karrin Allyson and George Benson tomorrow - hopefully with some drier weather.


May 1, 2004

We are spending the weekend in Jacksonville, Florida for the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.  We drove through blinding rains in North Florida yesterday afternoon but the skies cleared as we arrived in Jax.  The Friday night lineup included the Joe Sample Trio, The Count Basie Orchestra with Patti Austin and Chris Murrell.  Picture this - sitting under a clear blue sky as dusk settles in and then gives way to darkness while listening to world class jazz, all free.  Unbelievable.

I was familiar with Patti Austin's name and had even heard an occasional track of hers from a CD.  Last night, she concluded the Count Basie set with about forty minutes of songs from her For Ella CD.  While she is not Ella's equal (nobody is), she gave highly entertaining renditions of many of Ella's most familiar hits.  Needless to say, I will pick up For Ella to enjoy on the drive home from Jax.

Before going to the Jazz Fest, I introduced my wife to Beach Road Chicken Dinners, a truly Southern style place which probably has not changed an iota since it opened in 1939.  The fare is fried chicken, creamed peas, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, all served family style.  Forget the Colonel!