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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

KANOPOLIS IN RUNNING FOR NEW REALITY SHOW

I find it somewhat unbelievable that my tiny ol' hometown could be featured on a new reality show, but sure enough, Travis Draft was scouting the town over the weekend. It's kind of an exciting possibility for Kanopolis; it would certainly bring some much-needed publicity to the town. Here's the article from the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter:

By Mike Wilson

Kanopolis could find itself the backdrop for a reality television show. The city of 500 is one of several being considered for a script that would bring 10 people from large U.S. cities to a small town for nearly a month, said Segment Producer Susan Gilreath of Film Garden Entertainment, North Hollywood, Calif.

The show would be filmed for Country Music Television Network. “We’re looking for a small town with a big heart to take in 10 city folks and introduce them to life in a rural community,” Gilreath said when she called Anita Hoffhines, Ellsworth County Economic Development, Inc. “The out-of-towners will compete against each other for the title of ‘Most Popular,’ as determined by the local residents.” Gilreath said the company is looking for a small town that is unique and “has a lot of civic pride, a place where everyone knows each other.” Gilreath said she came across Kanopolis while searching out cities that fit the criteria. “I thought the name sounded interesting,” she said. She said communities in South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Alabama are also being considered. Contestants would come from large cities such as Las Vegas, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. “We would want people who are in their own world and would be the ‘fish out of water,’” she said. “I assume they would be people who grew up in a large city.”

Hoffhines met with the Kanopolis City Council at its Sept. 14 meeting. Mayor Cherie Sauers and council members approved of the project. “I think it’s exciting,” Sauers said. Council member Dolores Shively said she likes the idea of filming in Kanopolis. “I think it would be fun and it’s only for a month,” Shively said. Hoffhines said the city would have no financial commitment to the project. She said the 28 days of filming would be an economic boost to the area and also provide free publicity to Kanopolis. Hoffhines said she suggested to Gilreath that a prize for the winner could be a free lot from the Welcome Home Plan that is designed to bring people to Ellsworth County.

If Kanopolis is chosen, there would be 28 days of filming in late October and early November, Gilreath said. “For the first few days, we will need 10 people to house the contestants,” she said. “Each family or person who houses a contestant gets $50 a day per diem. “Each few days, townspeople will hold a meeting to eliminate one of the city people until there is only one person left. “The city people have to win over the townspeople by possibly doing stuff like working in a local cafe, working on a farm or competing in some sort of staged ‘challenge.’” Travis Draft, a representative of the production company, will be in Kanopolis Friday and Saturday to look over the town, and to meet residents who would like to help.

APPARENTLY BIASED

I report fairly often on the recent presidential polls, and President Bush has been consistently ahead of John Kerry since the beginning of September. CNN pretends this is big news, not to mention unthinkable. Here's their latest headline: Bush apparently leads Kerry in pre-debate poll. This is a link to the numbers that I reported below, with Bush up 11 points and eight points among registered and likely voters, respectively. CNN's headline feigns shock that Bush could be ahead at all.

I've got no doubt that if Kerry were ahead in the polls, the headline would read differently. It would say something more to the effect: "Kerry retains healthy lead over Bush", or "Bush still trailing Kerry as debates near". But Bush is ahead, and CNN questions their own poll.

They're right to do so; no one poll is infallible. But I've pointed out biased headlines before. I couldn't miss this opportunity to do so again.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A FELLOW BLOGGER WHO IS FAMILIAR WITH IRAQ

A reader passed on this thoroughly interesting blog to me earlier today - DAGGER JAG: A Lawyer's life in Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division's, 2nd (DAGGER) Brigade. This JAG officer is among a growing list of soldier-bloggers who keep us up-to-date on the real goings-on in Iraq. Sure, there's combat and violence and terrorist attacks, but most of Iraq is secure, and as Mohaned has told me, most Iraqis are happy to be liberated. Dagger Jag has apparently hit the big time so far as the blogosphere goes; a recent AP story rocketed his number of hits per day from 200 to 13,000. From what I've read, he's not only highly intelligent, but he's also presenting Iraq from a different point-of-view; one the media doesn't often cover. I trust information coming from these soldiers or Iraqis who have seen the reconstruction effort. They know better than anyone what is really happening in the Middle East. Here's a quote from Dagger Jag:

"Writing this blog has been a wonderful experience for me so far. I have been accused of being too positive and upbeat about what is going on over here in my blogs. And there is some truth to that argument. I think the mainstream media does a pretty good job of reporting on each attack, death, and catastrophe that occurs. But there is a lack of coverage about everything else that is going on. Iraq is still a dangerous place but the combat is not as ubiquitous as people might think. I have yet to fire my weapon in combat and I know the same can be said for a large percentage of the 130,000 servicemembers deployed here. Each time we leave the relative security of a FOB (Forward Operating Base) we are prepared and ready for anything that might occur. I am not trying to whitewash or paint a rosy picture of events over here but I honestly don't have any personal experiences with combat operations."

His site is certainly worth a look, and we need to keep all of our soldiers in our thoughts and prayers. This particular blogger hints that more blogs from soldiers are on their way. That's fantastic; it will allow us to find out, from mulitple sources, what the true nature of the Iraq War really is.

Blogs are fast becoming a powerful medium for informational exchange. Our freedom of speech is truly something to be grateful for.

HEADING INTO THE DEBATES

According to most polls, President Bush is retaining his lead heading into the first debate to be held on Thursday. Here's the latest numbers from the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll:



This could change, and Gallup is showing Bush significantly ahead; an 11-point lead is probably unrealistic. I'd say his lead among likely voters (at 8 points) is closer to reality. This is rather startling because of the total lack of undecided voters in this poll. Bush, Kerry, and Nader all add up to 99%. It's like I have said before, the debates will probably not help undecideds choose a candidate; they won't be watching anyway. These three debates will do more to reinforce partisan stereotypes than anything else.

For the last couple of months, I've spent some time around Democrats while I've been helping with Josh's campaign. Just like an insular group of Republicans would be towards Kerry, they're very disparaging towards Bush and the GOP, even while I'm sitting there, which is a bit disrespectful in my opinion. My tongue is usually bleeding because I'm biting it so hard. What partisans of all sides fail to understand (or maybe they understand it and just don't care) is that both parties are nasty towards each other. They both spin. They all lie. Politics is dirty regardless of which side you're on. Democrats are holding Kerry up like he's been an upstanding and honorable gentleman throughout the whole campaign. Republicans do the same for Bush. The reality is, both candidates have done very little of the mudslinging themselves. Party operatives handle most of that. Yet Bush still gets the blame for the Swift Boat ads; likewise, Kerry should get the blame for the ads from MoveOn.org.

This first debate is about foreign policy, and while Kerry has the potential to do well here, Bush is much more well-versed in this arena. He'll know things that Kerry won't, and he's got a tough weapon to use against Kerry; Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. I talked with my Iraqi friend Mohaned Al-Hamdi earlier today. He'll be voting for Bush. He told me that these people who are shocked at the level of violence in Iraq are the real ones living in a fantasy world, despite John Kerry's speeches to the contrary. He said, "Of course there will be violence. It's unrealistic to think there wouldn't be. But the extremists are in the minority, and they have only one goal: to disrupt elections, both here in the US and in Iraq." Mohaned said that it is imperative that the Iraqi elections are held on time and as successfully as possible. That, he said, will do more to discredit and discourage the violence than anything else, especially a US withdraw, which he said would be absolutely devastating to Iraq.

I trust him. He's been there. He lived under Saddam, and he's seen the reconstruction efforts. I'll take his word over the anti-war crowd's any day. He has a strong way of making their rhetoric entirely meaningless.

AN EXAMPLE OF IDIOCY

A few posts back I was writing about disgruntled mothers who have come out against the war. Like I said then, I'm sure those who have children serving in Iraq - epecially those who have lost children there - have legitimate reason to be against the war. That's fine, until they make ridiculous and unfounded statements.

This quote was featured in the Salina Journal's anonymous "Extension 333" opinion forum.

"This is to the attention of President Bush. If your twin daughters had been boys, would you have been so war-happy to send them to Iraq? How can you sleep at night, knowing you sent over 1,000 of America's best to die?"

My guess is that LaVaughn Kubick is at it again, but since the 333 line is anonymous, we have no idea who consistently makes stupid, unfounded, and ridiculously partisan statements like this one. Do people like this actually think that the Bush Administration crept up in the night and snatched away the youth of our nation to send them to fight in Iraq? How ridiculous. Whether you're for the war or against it, here is one undeniable fact:

THE UNITED STATES HAS A VOLUNTEER MILITARY - A VOLUNTEER ARMY, NAVY, AIR FORCE, AND COAST GUARD. NO ONE FORCES ANYONE ELSE TO JOIN THESE SERVICES. WHEN SOMEONE ENLISTS IN A MILITARY SERVICE, THEY REALIZE (OR SHOULD REALIZE) THAT THERE IS A POSSIBILITY THEY WILL BE CALLED UPON TO ENTER DANGEROUS COMBAT SITUATIONS. THOSE WHO ARE IN IRAQ VOLUNTEERED TO BE IN WHICHEVER SERVICE THEY HAPPEN TO BE IN.

Is that so difficult to understand? Apparently for some it is. They just retort, "Why doesn't Bush send his daughters?" Because the decision of whether or not his daughters serve at all is not his to make. It is their own choices. If Barbara and Jenna were in the army, navy, or air force, it's possible that they would be in Iraq.

When the US, under Clinton, undertook the primary role in the air war against Kosovo (another non-UN sanctioned war, by the way), I don't remember anyone calling for Chelsea to be sent to war. It's because conservatives and Republicans understand the volunteer nature of our armed forces. It's only liberal morons who can't get it through their heads that the ranks of our military services are filled by volunteers. They use the "send Bush's daughters" argument because they don't like Bush or his politics; that's still a poor excuse to make yourself look like an idiot. But I won't argue any more; if liberals really want to make themselves look stupid with ridiculous statements like the one above, I can't stop them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

CHEERS...

This story, for reasons not entirely logical, just warmed my heart:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- The creator of one of the world's most famous guns, the AK-47 assault rifle, has launched another weapon in Britain -- Kalashnikov vodka.

Lt. Gen. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who invented the AK-47 after being shot by German soldiers during World War II, said Monday he wanted to continue "the good name" of his gun.

"I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things," he told Reuters Television.

"So we decided to create a vodka under my name. And we wanted that vodka to be better than anything made, up until now, in both Russia and England.

"The Kalashnikov rifle has become the weapon of choice for guerrillas and gangsters across the world. But Kalashnikov said his original intentions for the gun were purely patriotic.

"I did not create the gun for international conflicts, I created it to protect the borders of my country," he said.

"It is not my fault that it has been spread all over the world. It is its reliability and its simplicity that have taken it all over the world.

"Promoters of Kalashnikov vodka, which is 82 proof, say it is "made from grain harvested in Russia and water drawn from Lake Ladoga north of St. Petersburg" and is best drunk with friends.



...cheers to you, Mikhail. If your weapons weren't proof of your patriotism, your alcoholic contribution to the struggling masses of the motherland will be!

Monday, September 20, 2004

CARTOONING AGAIN

The CBS debacle prompted me to do a little drawing this weekend. Here's the result. It's poorly colored since it was a low-quality scan in the first place, but I think you'll still be able to make it out. Click on it to make it full-size...



Sunday, September 19, 2004

...AND MY UPDATED PREDICTION



TODAY'S ELECTORAL VOTE PREDICTION

In 2000, I regularly checked a few different sources for campaign information, including Polling Report for the latest polls. The Electoral Vote Predictor is fast becoming one of my favorite websites this year. It's updated daily and gives you a look at the states where Bush is ahead, the states where Kerry is ahead, the ones that are really too close to call, and what that all means for the final Electoral count.

If anything, this site is biased towards Kerry, but the heart of the site - the Electoral College map - is really non-partisan. The numbers can fluctuate wildly in either direction, as the vote count is based on state polls. If several state polls come out in one day and happen to favor one candidate over the other, the previous day's "winner" can find himself behind in the vote count. As with national polls, very little on the site is set in stone. Battleground states may tip back and forth between Bush and Kerry. However, it's still a good look at where the candidates' strengths are.

Right now, Bush is ahead considerably. Today's vote count puts him at 331 votes to Kerry's 207. It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Presidency, so if the election were held today (based on these numbers), Bush would win. This logic is consistent with other analyses of state-by-state polling currently being conducted; in fact, I heard it reported yesterday that Ohio is no longer considered a battleground state, as it's tilted far enough to the Republican camp. Twenty Electoral Votes is a pretty big concession for the Democrats, just as Republicans normally concede the combined 86 votes of California and New York. However, Republicans seem to be competitive in traditionally Democratic states this time around. The latest polls in New York put Bush within five or six points of Kerry, and the President is running strong in Minnesota, New Jersey, and - just revealed today - New Hampshire.

Here's today's updated map from the Electoral Vote Predictor. Click on it for a larger view, or visit the site for details of each state.



RECOVERY WEEKEND

I hardly ever get sick, but these last few days haven't been fun at all. I normally pride myself on never getting sick. All those years I spent in the dorms, I never once caught so much as a cold, and I had around 600 sniffling, sneezing students around me. My immune system is usually laughing at everyone else's, and probably will be again this winter. So I'm not sure why I decided to catch some germs this week.

One of my roommates was sick with something on Monday and Tuesday. He thought it was sinus problems, but I knew it wasn't because he had a sore throat and chest congestion, too. His girlfriend practically spoon-fed him for a couple of days as he downed antibiotics and other various OTCs. I'm guessing I caught it from him; I was running pretty hard at the beginning of the week - back home on Tuesday for a dentist appointment, to Smolan on Wednesday for Josh's fundraiser - and I probably wore myself down enough that I was more susceptible to catching something. The sore throat is a major pain, but I certainly don't feel like I'm helpless; maybe that's because I know I don't have anyone here to take care of me.

Anyway, I had to make it to class and to work, and I didn't have any problem doing that. But otherwise, I've been kind of lazy - taking naps, not getting out as much. I even missed the football game yesterday. I'm kind of a naturalist when it comes to curing anything (I don't know why - it certainly isn't a "hippie thing"), so I've been drinking lots of fluids and hot tea. My theory is, whatever I've got will run its course. Whether it's done by tomorrow or not doesn't matter; I can't afford to be lazy any more. I've got a lot of stuff on the agenda that needs to be done, and I can't let a little sore throat stall that. So, whether I'm all healed up or not, it'll be back to my regular schedule tomorrow. And no naps!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Cartoon by John Pritchett

CONSTRUCTION OBSESSION

Peg's most recent post on her KansasPrairie Blog is just the tip of the iceberg concerning Kansas' obsession with road construction. It seems that the recently re-blacktopped Douglas Avenue - the main drag in Ellsworth - looks pretty bad. When I was in Ellsworth a few days ago, I noticed the road crew working on Douglas and just had to roll my eyes. It wasn't the first time I'd seen a construction crew that day, and it certainly wasn't going to be the last.

Our state seems to be utterly preoccupied with fixing our roads - interstate highways or otherwise. Sometimes, it looks to me like these roads don't even need fixed. Case in point: the stretch of I-70 between Abilene and Salina. Why is this area reduced to one lane??? Just a month ago, there was nothing wrong with this stretch of highway! The road doesn't have any cracks or potholes. It looks like it has been redone within the last few years. Yet the interstate is now reduced to one lane from roughly Abilene all the way to exit 220. That's around 55 miles! There are stretches of non-construction areas in those 55 miles, but not many and not for long. It looks to me like our state is planning on spending money where money doesn't need to be spent.

The stretch of I-70 going west into Salina has been under construction for over three years; I know because I've been driving that stretch of highway off and on since I started college. From around exit 260 till you get past Salina, the west-bound lane is closed completely. Wasn't it just recently finished? I had heard that some engineering wasn't done quite right and the bridges in that area had to be taken out and redone. You know that as soon as the west-bound lane gets redone that the east-bound lane will go under construction. It's a never-ending process. I just can't figure out why Abilene to Salina is coned off now, or why sections of interstate all the way to the Lincoln-Ellsworth border are one lane. It doesn't appear that anything is being done.

Construction is irritating on interstate because you have to slow down to 60 mph, which is kind of a dubious rule. If you try to slow down to 60 mph, it's almost a guarantee that you'll have some Missourian riding your butt all the way through the construction. If you go any faster, though, you'll get behind grandma driving 50! I've had to literally stop - come to a complete stop! - on interstate because of someone ahead of me not being in the right lane to exit. How can someone stop on interstate? Didn't they have any idea how dangerous that was? I thought I was in the clear after getting to Ellsworth County, but on K-111, just a mile north of Kanopolis, a flagger was waiting for me. I sat for a full ten minutes waiting for the pilot car. Then the construction in Ellsworth was going on on main street. The amount of road crews that I ran into was almost ridiculous.

Maybe I'm a little irate because I'm the one that has to slow down, or stop, or be detoured by all of this construction. But the three-year (at least) stint that KDOT has spent outside of Salina is just too much. Now perfectly good stretches of interstate are cut down to one lane; it looks like they're preparing for some sort of construction that, quite honestly, isn't necessary. Fifty-five miles of construction is just a little much to take, especially when the construction seems frivolous. I'd like to see how much our state is spending repairing roads that don't need to be fixed.

To be fair, it's certainly nice to have good roads. Having just recently driven to Massachusetts, I came across some pretty rough stretches of highway, especially in western Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. In those states, you wish that their DOTs would spend more time and money repairing roads. It'll really be nice to be able to use smooth, clean, pothole-free roads in Kansas. That is if we ever get to use them. It's almost more likely that once a road is finished, it'll be torn up all over again.

PROTESTERS NEED TO BE BETTER INFORMED

I feel bad for women like Sue Niederer; I really, honestly do. She's lost a son in the Iraq War, and I can't even begin to imagine the pain and the loss that she's feeling. So it's hard for me to take issue with Sue, or Lila Lipscomb - featured on Fahrenheit 9/11 - or any of the other mothers or families who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq. But I do have a problem with them. They've got every right to be mad, and I can't fault them for that. I do, however, think that their anger perpetuates false information to the American public. After heckling Laura Bush, Sue was arrested and later said, "Why the senators, the legislators, the congressmen, why aren't their children serving?" And Sue's comments can get the rest of middle-America fired up, asking, "Yeah, why aren't these guys sending their kids over to die? They're all too happy to send ours!"

Sue Niederer's logic is understandable reactionism, but it's wrong. There are currently seven members of Congress with children serving in the military, two of whom have served in Iraq. A visit to Dave Kopel's analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11 shows that the ratio of US families with a child serving in Iraq is 349:1, or one out of every 349 families has a child in the war. Congress, on the other hand, has a ratio of 268:1. It seems that congressional families are about 23% more likely to have a child serving in Iraq. So when bereaved family members of servicemen and liberal pundits around the country shout that the elites in Congress would be unwilling to sacrifice their sons or daughters, they're just plain wrong on the numbers. Furthermore, there are 101 veterans in the House and 36 in the Senate. Around 10% of the total US population has served in the military, whereas nearly 26% of Congress has. Regardless of whether their children are serving in a war, many of these Senators and Representatives have served their country.

Angry protesters across the nation holler at the President, his cabinet members, and congressmen because they feel that America's children are being snatched away from them and sent to die in a foreign land. Nevermind that the US military is a volunteer occupation, and has been for 93% of this nation's history. Nevermind that the soldiers in Iraq, whether they like it or not, knew that when they signed up for military service, they faced the possibility of seeing combat, fighting, and possibly dying. The collective want of all this anger just seems to be for the Bush daughters to be sent to Iraq. They very well could be sent, if they were to volunteer. But that's their choice, just like it was a choice for all the men and women currently serving our military.

Sue Niederer has reason to be upset, but trying to heckle the First Lady (who has had nothing to do with the decision to go to war) and sporting a shirt that said "President Bush You Killed My Son" just doesn't help the situation. Complaining that Senators don't send their children to war isn't productive, because it's not true. This is a great country in which we don't all have to be picked to serve; we have the choice. Such a choice can be dangerous, even deadly, as the families of over 1000 US soldiers well know. Yes, I feel bad for Sue Niederer and others like her. Their losses can never be regained. At the same time, misinformation is counterproductive. Protesters always look smarter when they have some fact to back up their slogans.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

IN DEPTH ANALYSIS OF THE CBS FORGERIES

Even though CBS has more or less admitted to using forged documents to attack President Bush (though they still claim that the heart of the story is true!), here's a website that has put a lot of time and effort into researching the CBS memos and proving them false. Actually, the author says it only took him a few seconds to recognize that the memos were forged, but his site provides the reasoning to prove that these documents are fake.

YES JOHN, ENLIGHTEN US...



Cartoon by Mike Thompson for the Detroit Free Press

BUSH ON A ROLL?

New tracking poll information puts President Bush ahead by four percentage points (49% to 45%) in the state of New Jersey. I'm skeptical of these numbers, published by Survey USA on September 12th, yet they still show John Kerry's weak overall appeal. Al Gore won New Jersey by over 15 percentage points in 2000, yet Bush appears to be running strong in the Garden State. New Jersey hasn't been carried by a Republican since 1988 when Bush's father beat Michael Dukakis in a landslide.

Visit the Electoral Vote Predictor to see up-to-date state polling information. Their current Electoral Vote count is Bush 311 and Kerry 223, with the four votes of Maine too close to call. It's unlikely that Bush would lose Colorado, and I think it's likely that he'll pull Iowa and perhaps even Oregon. If Bush's strength continues, Pennsylvania is likely to go Republican; I can't imagine New Jersey voting for Bush, but it now seems within the realm of possibility. Maine has an independent streak and could certainly vote for the President. If all of those states either stay in or fall into the Bush column, the vote count would stand at 338 to 200. And if Bush could actually carry New Jersey, I'd expect that other close states like Minnesota and Michigan will vote for him, too. Those two in Bush's camp would but the count at 365 to 173 - highly optimistic numbers (even higher than my original prediction of 351 to 187) that are certainly landslide proportions.

Again, with 47 days left in the campaign - including three debates - much can happen to make these numbers shift. My personal revised prediction has Bush winning 317 to 221. I don't see the debates changing too much; Bush will come off as a poor speaker, yet someone who is plain and simple enough that people will relate to what he's saying. Kerry will look like a high-minded Easter Island statue come to life. There are few undecided voters in this election, and I can't see the debates drastically changing anyone's opinions of either candidate; rather, I see them reinforcing stereotypes.

CNN's Electoral College prediction from August 28th has Bush carrying every state that he did in 2000 with the exception of New Hamshire (4). Current polls have Bush behind in Colorado (8), but ahead in Wisconsin (10), Pennsylvania (21), and - interestingly enough - New Jersey (15).

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

FUNDRAISER FOR JOSH SVATY

Incumbent Josh Svaty, running for re-election to the Kansas House of Representatives for the 108th district, put on a terrific fundraiser tonight in Smolan. The Hickory Tree Restaurant was packed with supporters. Josh originally planned on around 100 guests, then told the event planners to expect up to 150. The turnout was better than anyone could have predicted, with between 175 and 200 guests there.

Allan White, chairman of the Saline County Democrats, introduced Governor Sebelius who spoke for nearly a half-hour; much of her speech focused on the need for quality legislators who are willing to work with her in Topeka instead of against her. Much of Sebelius's work in the governor's office has been commendable; the massive Republican majorities under the Graves Administration became too comfortable in their positions and allowed the state to lapse into economic crisis. The issue of tax cuts certainly is a vote-getter, but Kansas conservatives went wild with cutting state income taxes, and now we're paying the price at a local level. At the state level, cutting income taxes often means fewer services provided; areas like Johnson and Wyandotte counties can handle these cuts; counties like Ellsworth, Logan, Russell, and Gove can't. When the state income taxes were cut, local governments in rural counties were forced to raise property taxes in order to get the money they needed to provide essential services to their citizens. Tax cuts are no longer an issue for the state of Kansas. Instead, we should be worrying about reducing the burden on local governments and trying to fund our education and health care systems. Sebelius even discussed her efforts at streamlining the Kansas government and reducing the pork. At times, she almost sounded like a Republican. In more urban states, she probably would be.

I sat by Gov. Sebelius when Josh spoke, and he talked also about the importance of being able to work with the executive as well as being able to build coalitions with Republican moderates to offset the single-minded and sometimes damaging politics of the conservative Republicans. Josh's Republican opponent, Tim Null of Gypsum, seems convinced that Josh is raising taxes right and left; he's also convinced that he can help to lower the tax burden. Trust me, we'd all like lower taxes, but at this point, the conservatives of the Graves Administration cut state income taxes just about as low as they possibly could. When the economy slipped, Kansas no longer had the money to provide all of the services that it had been, and the taxes just shifted from the state to the local level. Cutting state taxes any more will only raise your local taxes higher. Tax cuts can be done common sensically in a booming economic climate. Now, we can't afford to hurt our rural communities any more with foolish, unnecessary, and fiscally irresponsible cuts.

It's important that voters in the 108th understand the dynamics of this race. With Josh being a Democrat and myself being a Republican, we naturally don't agree on everything; I have a feeling that the more national the issue becomes, the less Josh and I see eye-to-eye. However, I trust him to competently represent my district by understanding and researching issues and making the decisions that he thinks will best represent his constituency. Josh is very intelligent and willing to put forth the effort to legislate effectively. Plus, he's not a pawn of his party (few Kansas Democrats could afford to do that!) - Josh has voted independently and has built across-the-aisle coalitions with moderates to work on good pieces of legislation to help his district and the people of Kansas. Plus, when Josh gets back to Topeka in January of 2005, he won't need lessons in how to be a Representative. He's done it for two years and has learned immensely from his experience. He'll be ready to get right to work after he's re-elected.

I can't say the same for his opponent. Tim Null has presented himself as a one-issue candidate (perhaps a two-issue candidate, at best), and his major reason for entering the race was the same-sex marriage amendment. You can check my blog archives for my extended thoughts on such an amendment banning gay marriage, but the bottom line is that this is a non-issue. Our rural communities are suffering and conservatives are worried about gay marriage, which, by the way, is not something that is pushed for in Kansas anyway! We have two laws on the books against gay marriage, and constitutions are to define the relationship between the government and the people, not the relationships between people themselves. Without firm beliefs on many other issues, Null would stand to be a great target for lobbyists and special interests that would sway him to vote their way. Party-wise, Null would be a part of the conservative block; we don't need any more conservatives in the Kansas legislature to attempt to block or stall everything that the governor (or moderates or Democrats) try to do. We need legislators willing to compromise and work with each other for the benefit of Kansans. I can't hold Tim Null's lack of legislative experience against him; after all, Josh was new to the House just two years ago. Yet Josh never ran a one-issue campaign. He spoke knowingly about many of the issues facing Kansas in 2002 and earned his election. From what I've read, heard, and seen, Tim Null speaks in soundbytes designed to catch your attention; they have no actual substance behind them.

I don't know Tim, but from everything I hear, he's a heckuva nice guy. That's probably 100% true, and it's too bad that local politics is so nasty sometimes, whether it's intended to be or not. Neighbors turn against neighbors and friends against friends. But Tim Null is just not the right man for the job, plain and simple. His major issue (gay marriage) is a ridiculous thing for Kansas to be focusing on. Josh, on the other hand, has proven himself in the last two years. He's capable of making intelligent choices, some of them very difficult, for the 108th district, and despite our party differences, he's done well for our district and deserves a resounding re-election victory on November 2nd.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

CBS WAS WARNED ABOUT FAKE DOCUMENTS

If you ever needed hard proof of the mainstream media's liberal bias, the CBS/forged memo debacle should be all you need. This story from the Washington Post reveals that CBS was warned by at least three document experts that if the memos were used in a news segment, they would bring up major questions as to their origins and authenticity. Their skepticism about the documents didn't seem to make much difference, though, as CBS ran the story on 60 Minutes on September 8th - my birthday. I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. At first, the documents looked damning, insinuating that President Bush had violated direct orders to report for duty during his service in the Texas Air National Guard. Then, things got interesting...

The well-known blog Little Green Footballs broke the story that the documents that CBS was presenting looked forged. Using the default settings on Microsoft Word, an exact replica of one of the documents can be typed up, including the superscript letters that would have been unavailable on typewriters of the era. I'd suggest a visit to LGF to follow the whole interesting forgery saga; I've learned a thing or two about typography, that's for sure. Microsoft Word and similar word-processors smash the letters together to make them appear neater. For instance, a "T" and an "O" together (TO) slightly overlap in Microsoft Word after the "O" is typed. A small part of the "T" crossbar (right side) hangs over the left side of the "O". This is to make typed documents look cleaner. Typewriters don't have a way of knowing which letter is coming next, nor can they make changes to letters that have already been written. So it's strange that the documents shown by CBS have overlapping letters; just more proof that they are incredibly inept forgeries, probably made by some equally inept liberal wacko.

Later, I'll post a link to a site that analyzes the documents and more or less proves that they're fake. I don't have all the knowledge or the terminology to describe everything that's wrong with these memos.

What I can comment on, however, is the incredible bias and carelessness displayed by CBS for reporting on these memos. I don't believe, as some others do, that Dan Rather was personally involved in a "conspiracy". I do think that some at CBS, Rather included, jumped all over an opportunity to smear President Bush, regardless of the source of the information. They were so ready and eager to have a story that countered the legitimate issues that the Swift Boat Vets had been bringing up for over a month that CBS didn't check into the accuracy of the Bush memos. They found a story that they agreed with ideologically and sacrificed their journalistic integrity to bring you, the viewer, a false story.

Even more mind-boggling is Dan Rather's unflinching belief that the documents are real. This shows an incredible liberal bias. Instead of realizing that, "whoops, looks like someone could have printed these memos on the desk jet upstairs", the higher-ups at CBS have tried to steer the focus back to the "content" of the memos, rather than the "format". I'm sorry, that's just not how it works. If an archaeologist told me that he'd found the lost histories of the Emperor Claudius, I'd be tremendously excited. If he presented me with those histories, and they were scribbled on the back of a child's menu from Sirloin Stockade, I would instantly lose faith in the content of what was written. The format would have told me that the content was junk. Likewise, the forged format of the CBS documents precludes us from focusing on any potential content.

Dan Rather and CBS probably ran with this story to help John Kerry's floundering campaign. And now, Kerry is nowhere to be seen on the news, because everyone is focused on CBS's lack of integrity. Still, tonight on CBS Evening News, Rather was pathetically trying to get Bush's campaign to respond to the questions brought up by the memos. Dan Rather is delusional; he's seeing his reputation fade, and he won't be able to take it. The Bush campaign doesn't have to respond to fake documents. CBS should be answering the questions: why didn't they analyze the documents more closely? Why didn't they listen to their experts who warned that the memos were forged? Why do they continue to pursue a story that is nullified by its own fraudulence? Why did Dan Rather and some at CBS allow their political feelings to interfere with their duty to provide quality reporting? CBS's reputation will be tarnished for years by this, as the other two networks, the cable news channels, right-wing talk radio, and bloggers like LGF and myself will continue to hammer away at them for their blatant mistake which they refuse to admit.

All along, this campaign should have been about the present and the future. Yet John Kerry decided that it was smart to campaign on the past, a tactic which has brought him nothing but trouble. His buddies at CBS have gotten him into even more trouble, trying to take the forward-looking Bush campaign into the past with them. Again, the tactic has failed, but this time, it's blowing up the liberal ship. They're listing; they're floundering; they're sinking. Like any cornered rat would do, the Democrats are getting vicious. And for me, this is a great moment in schadenfreude.

Monday, September 13, 2004



KERRY QUOTES AND DAN RATHER

Here's a quote that John Kerry made in 1992 during Bill Clinton's presidential campaign. It seems that Senator Kerry has even changed his views about whether or not it is appropriate to talk about Vietnam!

Jan 30, 1992: I am saddened by the fact that Vietnam has yet again been inserted into the campaign, and that it has been inserted in what I feel to be the worst possible way. By that I mean that yesterday, during this Presidential campaign, and even throughout recent times, Vietnam has been discussed and written about without an adequate statement of its full meaning. We do not need to divide America over who served and how. I have personally always believed that many served in many different ways. Someone who was deeply against the war in 1969 or 1970 may well have served their country with equal passion and patriotism by opposing the war as by fighting in it. Are we now, 20 years or 30 years later, to forget the difficulties of that time, of families that were literally torn apart, of brothers who ceased to talk to brothers, of fathers who disowned their sons, of people who felt compelled to leave the country and forget their own future and turn against the will of their own aspirations?

And if John Kerry doesn't take his own campaign down, there's growing speculation that bloggers will do it for him! In fact, it was the blogging community that first noticed that the documents obtained and reported on by CBS News (regarding Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard) looked like they had been produced on Microsoft Word! After the news broke that the documents were made with Microsoft Word, written in Times New Roman font, and included superscript "th" and "st" suffixes, Dan Rather attacked the bloggers. He accused them of ignoring the content of the memos to focus on the format.

Ummm...if the format isn't right, how can the content be any good? Oh, that's right: it serves Dan Rather's purposes! Seriously, it is obvious to me that someone really fooled CBS News, and Rather was just trying to cover himself by trying to reassert the validity of the documents. But it will be revealed that they're forgeries, and they may even be tied to the Kerry campaign itself.

For a look at more of Kerry's contradictions, visit http://www.kerryquotes.com/.

HE WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE (BUT HE WON'T DO THAT)

Paraphrasing Meat Loaf's lyrics seems to more than adequately describe John Kerry. He's a walking contradiction, and after his mistakes and missteps and blatant stupidity on the campaign trail, I'm surprised he still has a base of support. I know, it's not pro-Kerry sentiment as much as it is anti-Bush fervor, but those of you who dislike Bush should at least support a candidate who stands for something. Democrats are starting to see the big mistake they made in nominating John Kerry; true, they would have lost big had they chosen Dean or Gephardt or Lieberman, but they would have at least nominated someone who has principles. Kerry has run a downright craptastic campaign, trying to play himself up as a big-time Vietnam War hero, something he just plain wasn't. He wasn't a hero to the men who were locked up and tortured in the Hanoi Hilton. He wasn't a hero to returning Veterans who met protesters and found their country turned against them. John Kerry's campaign has made a colossal miscalculation in trying to make the 2004 election about Vietnam, and if these reportedly forged documents obtained by CBS have any link to the Kerry campaign whatsoever, his chances in November are completely gone.

Not that I'm complaining. The Republican Party is the big-tent party now; it's got pro-lifers and pro-choicers; death penalty supporters and detractors; it's got its liberals and its conservatives. The Democrats have squelched most deviant views, at least at the national level. The Dems actually had an excellent opportunity to retake the White House this year, and had you asked me about my election prediction in May or June, I may well have said Kerry would be our 44th president. Lots of things can change between now and November, but if I had to put money on the election, I'd bet Bush will win.

Way back in January, I said on this blog that I thought John Kerry was an idiot. That was after he'd used the f-word in a Rolling Stone interview. Since then, Vice-President Dick Cheney has used the same word on the Senate floor towards a US Senator. His use of the word is equally indefensible but more understandable, as far as I see it. Kerry used it trying to sound "hip" for a younger generation that won't bother to vote anyway (he awkwardly used the term "dissed" in the latest Time interview - his first conversation with the press in over a month). When Cheney used the word, he was downright pissed off and was ready to mop the hallowed Senate floor with Patrick Leahy, who probably deserved what he got. Cheney just got mad, like most of us would if pressured by an uptight jerk-off from Vermont during a Senate visit that was supposed to be just a photo shoot. Kerry was pandering when he used the f-word; a 60-year-old Senator pandering to the MTV generation when he's too old to even like VH1.

I stand by my labeling of Kerry as an idiot. As Dr. Dale Herspring put it to me, Kerry did nothing in the Senate for 20 years, so he has had to resort to his "record" in Vietnam as a campaign issue. And the public called him on his record, much to his chagrin. Did he honestly think that after returning from Vietnam and labeling his fellow soldiers war criminals that he could get away with calling himself a hero? Did he really think that conservative and even independent groups wouldn't check into his record? Pat Caddell, a Democratic strategist, is absolutely livid with the Democrats this year, and he explained Kerry's idiocy better and more succinctly than I've heard anyone do yet. Caddell lambasted Kerry for running as "a hero"; Caddell said that heroes are labeled by others, yet Kerry labeled himself. You don't run around the country calling yourself a hero. Bob Dole didn't do that. George Bush Sr. didn't do that. Even Eisenhower didn't do that. And I guarantee you that when those men were in the thick of battle, none of them were thinking about running for president.

John Kerry is a panderer; a suck-up who changes positions depending on the crowd he faces. In Michigan, facing an audience that was pro-Auto Industry, Kerry went on and on about all the automobiles that he and his family owns, many of them large SUVs. Kerry later spoke to an environmental group and touted himself as a tree-hugger, owning no gas-guzzling SUVs. But guess what? A reporter called him on his contradiction, and Kerry wormed his way out of it. He said that the SUVs weren't his; they belonged to his family, not him. And to think, some of you are actually considering voting for this man! He can't tell the truth about the vehicles he owns! Do you honestly think we can trust him with our national security? Our economy? Our health care system? Who knows what Kerry actually stands for!? He changes positions on a daily basis; that kind of behavior would follow him to the White House, God forbid he would be elected.

And Kerry is, as the JibJab cartoon says, a UN pussy. I've got news for all of you who think the world revolves around the United Nations: it is a near-defunct intergovernmental organization that can agree on nothing and helps no one, because it is filled with spineless, bickering, weak nations who can't hold a candle to US power and influence. Is it a bad thing that we're as powerful as we are? Not at all; we've done what any other nation in our situation would do and used that influence for our own ends. I've never heard so many people go on and on about how the United States violated international laws and broke precedent when it went against the UN and invaded Iraq in March of 2003. First, this was not a "rush to war" as Kerry calls it. The final ultimatum, given by Bush after more than six months of warnings to Iraq, was for Saddam along with sons Uday and Qusay to leave Iraq. If the most powerful military in the history of the world was sitting at my nation's border and asked me to leave or face the consequences, I believe I'd get off my ass and leave the country. Saddam was a bad guy; his regime deserved to fall, and Iraq needs our help to rebuild. Hussein can tend to all the little jailhouse rock gardens and write all the fruity poetry he wants; in the end, he'll get what he deserves, which is an execution. Secondly, we've violated the UN before. Remember the war in Kosovo? That was a NATO operation, and yes, even France agreed that we didn't need UN approval to stop the ethnic cleansing and horrible violence in Serbia. The UN is too large and too many countries have too many different interests to be effective. A rule by consensus with nations as different from us as France, Russia, and China holding veto power cannot work.

We had support in this war, and still do. Dozens of nations stood with us, despite the objections of France (a big supplier of arms to Iraq) and Germany. And do you think France is so good, so moral for staying out of the fray? Then why did they just implement a law banning Muslims from wearing head scarves in public schools? The United States has never taken such a discriminatory turn. After September 11th, Islam was touted as such a peaceful, caring religion. While we promote it and try to bring democracy to Islamic areas of the world, the French oppress religious freedom.

There will always be anti-war liberals out there. I don't want to see war either, and frankly the prospect of a reinstated draft is rather scary. Still, we're right for what we're doing. Ask my Iraqi friend Mohaned Al-Hamdi. I've written about him before; he was raised in Iraq, fought in the Iran-Iraq war and deserted after he witnessed a few days worth of battle that killed nearly 200,000 Iraqis and Iranians. His desertion won him a trip to prison and subsequent exile, and only in January was he allowed to return to his home and his family, thanks to our liberation. So there weren't any WMDs? Mohaned would say that doesn't matter; it's his people's freedom that really matters. Liberals nationwide will tout the "equality" of human beings and the sacredness of freedom, but not one of them would ever be willing to put their asses on the line to help out an oppressed people like the Iraqis. That's why in the air war over Serbia, our pilots flew higher than 15,000 feet; all NATO members wanted the genocide to end, but liberals weren't willing to put NATO lives on the line for it, so we flew a little higher and risked hitting buses full of school children rather than strategic targets. Ask Mohaned, and he'd tell you that the liberation of his people should have happened years ago. Yes, foreign policy mistakes have been made by past administrations, both Republican and Democrat, but you can bet that he appreciates what we're doing for his country, his family, and his people. He'd tell the anti-war crowd that they don't know war; they don't know suffering, and they don't know what a relief it was for him to see the liberation of his country. It's easy to sit in the air-conditioning and condemn our administration for war; it's much harder for Mohaned to see the liberal point-of-view, seeing that he's lived through Saddam's terror and seen the real progress made in Iraq since our invasion. Can any of the anti-war crowd vouch for the positive changes that have come out of the war? Have any of them lived through Saddam's terror and continued to criticize the war? No? I didn't think so.

Like the Battle Hymn of the Republic says, "Let us die to make men free." Liberals call that a noble goal. Conservatives are the ones who bring freedom to the oppressed.

And we've got John Kerry giving so many contradictions on Iraq that it's unbelievable. I've heard that he'll pull troops out of Iraq within six months, then a year, but maybe four years, but wait...maybe he really wants to add 40,000 more troops. He's criticized Bush's plan to bring back troops from Germany and Japan while liberals normally champion such a cause. He ran against Howard Dean in the primaries as the pro-war candidate; now he's the anti-war guy.

He blames Bush for not "creating jobs", as if the President can wave a magic wand and create more work. Democrats don't like to hear this, but our economy took a serious hit on September 11th, 2001, and we're still feeling the effects. The airline industry suffered immensely, Wall Street was shut down for days, and the recession that the Clinton Administration left us with was magnified. And now, after all that, unemployment is at 5.4%, one point lower than it was when Clinton ran for re-election in 1996!

Kerry and the Democrats had a real opportunity to take charge of this election, but they wasted time, glazed over the issues, and tried to tout Kerry as a Vietnam hero, which offended countless veterans. Now he salutes to them when he's on the campaign trail (not a real salute, mind you, but one of the Hollywood-type salutes that has the hand over the eyebrows) like he's in a position to do that. The only politician that I feel comfortable with saluting veterans and our troops is our current Commander-in-Chief, George Bush. He's got convictions. He sticks to his principles. He's willing to make tough decisions when required to do so. Would John Kerry be able to make those same tough decisions? Doubtful. It's more likely that he'd spend his time polling the public, wrestling with the issue himself, weighing pros and cons, all while North Korea or Iran arm for nuclear war. We need a president who can make tough choices and stick to them. We need George Bush.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

BUSH LEAD WIDENS TO 25 POINTS.....in Kansas

A new Survey USA poll taken in this state indicates that President Bush leads John Kerry by 60% to 35%. That's not surprising, and it almost guarantees that neither candidate will campaign here, though I heard Bush himself was in Kansas last week. Keep checking my Electoral College sites linked on the left, especially the Electoral Vote Predictor. The predictions are wild right now; back and forth, and several surveys are used that I quite simply don't trust, like Zogby. Zogby now uses computer polling, which certainly has its faults. I've never liked Zogby anyway, since he's personally a Democrat and I think his polling and surveying reflects that. Anyway, Bush is guaranteed a sizable win here in the Sunflower State.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

TEST YOUR HAND-EYE COORDINATION...

...and your skills on the numeric keypad! If you know how to use the keypad well, this game is easy to catch on to, although it gets quite difficult. Try out TONTIE: Click here!

ROLLING UPDATE

It's been a little while since I've written just a general update about myself and what I've been up to, so I figured tonight would be a perfect time to do that. I have homework, but nothing pressing (as in nothing due until over a week from now). That's the nice thing about being a Political Science/History major: we don't have homework like we did in high school. Our professors don't believe in "busy work" just for the hell of it, so most of my classes (in fact, all of them for the past year or so) have consisted of lectures, readings, two tests (a midterm and a final) and possibly a term paper. That's nice for those of us who pay attention in class and do our reading; people who don't do what they're supposed to do, though, are always clamboring for extra credit opportunities. Extra credit shouldn't be given in college, especially in upper-level classes.

Classes are going well. I have only one fairly general class, and even it is major specific. It can be either Political Science 505 or History 505 (it also fits into the departments of geography, sociology, and anthropology); it's called South Asian Civilizations and focuses on the geography, history, and politics of the region of the Indian subcontinent (which includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Bangledesh, and the Maldives). I also have American Foreign Policy, Introduction to Public Administration, and West European Politics. Public Administration is taught by a new professor, Dr. Seok-Eun Kim of South Korea, and has turned out to be very good so far (by the way, Chris, where are you?). South Asia is team taught by four professors, though Dr. Aruna Michie from Political Science handles most of the class. Dr. Jeff Pickering teaches American Foreign Policy; Dr. Pickering is fairly young (I'd guess early 30s) so he appeals to the students quite well. Plus, he's really good at what he teaches; he's one of the advisors from Political Science who is helping me look for graduate schools. And then there's Dr. Herspring teaching West European Politics. He's possibly the most amazing professor at K-State, because he's an odd mix of academia and realism. He's actually done all of the things that he teaches about. He was in the Navy for 32 years and in the Foreign Service for 20. I'm really looking forward to having some one-on-one meetings with him. Check out his Curriculum Vitae here. Click here to look at the rest of the faculty from the KSU Political Science department. All of the professors here are top-notch. A couple of them are a bit lazy in their old age, but the majority of them are well informed and passionate about what they teach and research.

I can tell that I'm getting ready to be in a more serious academic environment, where everyone is dedicated to studying and learning and sharing ideas. Two relatively minor events happened last week that really struck me; ordinarily, I may have brushed them off without much thought, but they both made me realize that I'm getting to a point where I'm serious about my education. In my South Asia class, the professor was telling us about an upcoming assignment that involves researching three websites, describing them, and comparing them, all in a one-to-two-page paper. I told a friend of mine that the whole project seemed a little ambitious for being limited to two pages, and she agreed. Then, another girl in the class started complaining about another of her assignments which involved researching and describing one website in a four-page paper. I thought, "If you can't write a four-page paper (which is double-spaced, so it's really only two pages) over any topic, you shouldn't be in college." Maybe that was a little harsh; she should be in college, but hopefully to better herself and get over that high school mentality of aprehension of assignments. She's a senior at KSU, and still having trouble pecking out a couple of pages; I can do that in my sleep, as I think most serious students can.

The next incident happened in the same class a couple of days later. The professor was talking about the Indus Valley civilization, and a student raised his hand and asked if that was the same civilization that Alexander the Great encountered on his march to India. I knew that he was at least several hundred years off, but his question was entirely relevant and even made the professor think. The professor spent a little bit of time answering the question, and some uptight, snotty, Johnson County sorority girl in the back row said (under her breath, but still audible), "Thanks a lot, genius", in reference to the student who had asked the question originally. She didn't want her valuable time wasted with a relevant question; her tone indicated that she's obviously much too important to be in the class in the first place, but it is a required class. People like that have no business wasting my oxygen at a university. I'm here to learn; the student who asked the question is here to learn, and everyone else in the class was at least repectful enough to listen to the professor's answer. But she didn't want to be bothered with it; she talked through the entire hour anyway. She should leave KSU; she should withdraw from classes and go get her career in professional backstabbing started right away, because that's all she'll ever be good for. At least, that's what I was thinking at the time. I've calmed down now, and trust me, the language I was using in my mind was significantly cleaned up for the ol' blog! But seriously, she's got no business in that class.

I'm ready for grad school. I'm ready to be in an academic environment where discussion is encouraged and all of the students are serious about their education and their goals. In some ways, maybe I've already graduated...

Work is going well, though I suppose I'd like to find something else on campus, especially when it starts getting cold. But I'd sure miss the girls...

The dairy is a great job as far as accomodating my schedule. I work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The morning shift is from 6:00am to around 9:00 or 9:30am. In the evenings, I'm usually there from 6:00pm till 9:30 or 10:00pm. That's easily 15 to 20 hours per week, which is exactly where I wanted to be on hours. I do have a lot more times open that I could work, but having time for homework and downtime is important. I am going to ask professors in the Political Science department if they are (or know of anyone who is) doing research and need assistance. That'd be slightly more ideal for me than taking care of the ladies. No office/reception/filing work, though. I did my time with a job like that, and I think I'd work at the dairy for 1000 years before going back to something like that. Manual labor is repetitious, to be sure, but at least I'm outside, getting exercise, around animals, etc. Putting papers in file folders for four hours a day was akin to slow torture. I've never been a real outside-type of person, but when I worked in an office, I remember looking at the window so often, just wishing I could be outside. Unless a good research position comes along, I probably will stick with the dairy, though a friend of mine said there was a possible opening at the Vet School, feeding the animals there. It's a morning job, and if you want extra hours, you can do "environment enrichment" with the dogs and cats. That's a technical way of saying you get to play with pets.

The apartment is working out great. With the two deer and the wild hog that Grandpa sent to me, the decoration of the living room is complete. Stephen contributed a deer as well, and I already had three sets of antlers and the bear skin on the wall. Eric brought two antique swords and an antique shotgun which are now on the wall as well. It's finally all decorated, and the living room has a very warm feeling to it now. Maybe taxidermy doesn't make everyone feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it's kind of homey as far as I'm concerned. I keep up on the dishes and straightening up the place; I can tell that a lot of Mom's influence has rubbed off on me. I wasn't an obsessively neat person at home or in a dorm room; in fact, I was really messy. Things usually stayed where I threw them, and even though there was a mess of papers on the desk, the floor, and everywhere else, it was my own filing system, and I knew where everything was. Now I've got a whole house to look after (well, apartment, if you want to get technical), and I can't stand to see dirty dishes just sitting in the sink or pillows out of place on the couch. I clean fairly good once a week, on Wednesdays, and run the dishwasher usually twice a week. I like to just wash all of my own dishes and put them up as soon as I'm done with them, but it is easier just to throw things in the dishwasher, especially if we're in a hurry. I also go grocery shopping on Wednesdays, since the Food-4-Less on Poyntz has coupons for four free items if you buy $15.00 worth of other groceries.

I cook everyday, and I guess there are varying degrees of how much effort I put into it. I do eat a big breakfast every morning. And I mean every morning, which is strange for me. Before I moved in here, I never ate breakfast, but then again, I'm up for either work or up early out of habit, now. Once a week I boil about six potatoes and cook a pot of pinto beans. I can make hashbrowns and refried beans off of that for a week. Eggs are cheap, and I've got bacon, sausage, and chorizo, as well. Coffee has also become a pretty regular drink for me now that I'm getting only around five or six hours of sleep per night. Sandwiches are usually on the menu for lunch; grilled cheese or PB&Js are easy to make. For dinner I'm pretty versitile. I've made chicken-fried steaks and roasts, though I'm living off of leftovers that I brought from home, for now.

I was home over the weekend for the Fiesta and for a campaign strategy meeting for Josh's re-election. The Fiesta went well. It didn't seem to be quite as well attended as it was last year, but we all have a good time regardless of the turnout. And that's not to say that there weren't hundreds of people eating there; lunch and dinner times were both busy. I'll write more on Josh's campaign later, as it deserves a blog entry to itself. We're enthusiastic about Josh's re-election bid, and we're making a big effort to get the constituency to look at solid issues. Josh has made more than 600 well-informed votes in the last two years and travelled over 50,000 miles within his district and the state. He's been active in consistently reaching out to his constituents. His opponent, Tim Null of Gypsum, is more or less of a one-issue candidate, and that issue is the gay marriage amendment. He's talking up other traditional Republican issues, like taxes, but the reality for Kansas is that we can't cut our taxes more, and we may have to make the tough decision to raise them. Modest tax cuts are fine, but the end of the Graves administration saw wild tax cuts that have only harmed our economy. But anyway, more on that later; you can bet that I have a lot to say about political things!

Speaking of politics, I was impressed with the Republican National Convention. Bush has pulled ahead in the polls, though bounces don't traditionally last long. I'm still convinced that Bush will win over 300 Electoral Votes, though a lot of people think this race will come down to the wire. I don't; in the end, the public will trust Bush with national security decisions, and they'll vote their pocket books. Guess what? The economy ain't all that bad! Unemployment is at 5.4%, a tenth of a percentage point lower than 1996, when Clinton was re-elected because of the "robust economy". It's true, there are a lot more people out of work now, but you have to take proportional measures into account. There are probably 10 to 15 million more people in the US now than there were in 1996, and I still firmly believe that Democrats underestimate the damage that September 11th did to our economy. Shutting down US financial institutions and collapsing the airline industry were just two big results of the terrorist attacks. We're still feeling the effects.

I have a new cellphone: click here to see it. We had a storm a couple of weeks ago, and when the tornado sirens went off, I realized that our apartment building didn't have a shelter. Eric and I ran across the street to the engineering building to get in the basement there, and somewhere in the run across the road, my old phone flipped out of its holster and was blown away. So I have the new one because of absolute necessity. My cell is the only phone I have.

I typed up a resume today. I'll need one before too long for grad school, though it's probably always a good idea to have one handy. I need to have it looked at by the office of career and employment services to get it fine-tuned.

My 22nd birthday is today. I don't have any plans, since I worked in the morning, had one class, and volunteer at the Church tonight. That's all for now; there'll be more to talk about soon, when I find some more time to sit down and peck out some thoughts. And cheer for the 'Cats on Saturday. They're playing Fresno State!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

MORE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

I love the darn Electoral College so much that I can't stop looking for websites relating to it. Here's another good one: Current Electoral Vote Predictor 2004. This is quite a comprehensive site, on par with Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. The difference is, the Electoral Vote Predictor is constantly updating the election prediction based on polls conducted in each state. Not the absolute most reliable way, in my opinion, since the only poll that matters is the election itself, but it's interesting nonetheless. Some of the polls are surprising to me, like Bush being ahead in Wisconsin but behind in Tennessee, and Colorado and Iowa being split down the middle. Give it a look; it's a well designed site, complete with an Excel spreadsheet of the most recent polling data.

I'M BACK

It's been a week since I've written anything on here, but I've been halfway across the country and back in that short time span. Literally. On Friday, Gabe, Ben, and I headed for Boston to take Ben to Harvard. He's going to med school there, and it worked out better if he could take most of his things with him instead of flying and having everything shipped to him. So we drove. And drove. And drove some more. If you're really moving, the trip to Boston is right at 24 hours. So that's where I've been. I'll probably write later about the details of our trip, which, though rushed, was quite a bit of fun.

For now, I'm doing some reviewing before a test at 10:30am. This is a make-up test that I missed on Monday, but I arranged everything with the professor in advance. He said it was no problem to take it later...something about "going to Harvard" just seems to impress professors. Of course, I didn't explain anything further, I just told him that I was "going to look at Harvard". And that was the truth.

RCIA starts tonight. That's Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults. I went through it a couple of years ago when I converted to Catholicism, and now I'm going to be a team leader at the meetings. It's helpful in several ways. One, I get the chance to review and renew my faith. I think it's important for Catholics to actually know and understand why we do some of the things we do, and RCIA is a good way to catch up. Secondly, my experience with conversion can possibly be helpful to others struggling with conversion. It's not an easy decision, regardless of whether it is what you truly want to do. Conversion can alienate friends and family, but ultimately, religion is a personal decision and should be about your personal relationship with God. If Catholicism is the path that works better for some, they need to be encouraged to do what's right for them. Finally, this is a volunteer opportunity, and I could use more volunteer opportunities. I'm looking forward to getting the year started in RCIA.

Anyway, I'll write more later. I've got to finish studying for now. Everything should be fairly easy except for knowing the Indian provinces. Now, is Madhya Pradesh north of Andhra Pradesh or south...?

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