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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Monday Musings

Today's entry will be a short one, reader, as I have a lot of math homework to do. You know, when I was in my 20s, I never dreamed that at the age of 36 I'd be doing math homework. Such is life.

By all accounts, the elections in Iraq went well, although there were some casualties. Turnout was pretty high, as high as 72%. Which is a higher turnout than most American elections.

With the election over, hopefully what will follow is the creation of a real government in Iraq and the training of Iraq's security forces in order to take secure the peace there. And when that happens, perhaps American forces can start to come home.

In other news today, a federal judge ruled that some detainees have the right to challenge their status in a U.S. court. Judge Joyce Hens Green also criticized the Bush administration for "failing to comport with the requirements of due process."

"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats...that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic and fundamental threats for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years," Green wrote.

Hmm. I wonder how conservatives will react to this bit of news? Probably not positively. After all, they're the main supporters for locking up suspects and throwing away the keys, due process be damned.

I'm off to hit the books...

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Iraq Elections

Contrary to what brain-dead, sheep-like conservatives say, liberals do want a successful election in Iraq. But, most importantly, we want a safe election. Safe for the Iraqis in their historic first vote in 50 years, and safe for the Iraqi and U.S. forces providing security.

Tomorrow, certainly, the pundit shows will have conservative after conservative talking about liberal reaction to the election in Iraq, and I'm betting someone will mention that liberals wanted the elections to fail.

I really do hope George W. Bush is serious when he says we'll withdraw our troops at the request of the Iraqi government. Although, frankly, I don't see that happening, even if we are asked to leave. Our excuse to stay would be along the lines that we need to continue training Iraq's security forces. Clearly, they are not ready to take on the insurgency that has resulted in such a huge loss of life.

I know, it's easier just to say that liberals hate America and be done with it. Of course, that statement simply is not true, and confusing criticism of government policy as hating America is just ignorant. Conservatives really have no interest in a united America. They need an enemy, whether it's Bill Clinton or John Kerry, as they wedge us all apart ever further in their bid to control everything.



Saturday, January 29, 2005

Weekend Musings

Yesterday I had a much needed day off from school. Did I use my time to do my homework? Nope. I used my time to do nothing at all. Sure, I've got a paper due and a bunch of math homework, but Friday is a day to unwind and recharge the batteries.

Actually, I spent most of the day surfing blogs via Blog Explosion. It's all about getting the credits -- and hopefully discovering an interesting new blog.

As you surf the blogsphere, you begin to notice trends, common themes that appear in blog after blog. For instance, conservative blogs. These blogs are used to attack liberals and Democrats as a group. Now, here at my blog, I tend to attack individual conservatives, such as Sean Hannity, who I hate, and most of the Bush administration. See, I'm focused like some kind of laser (presumably the kind that you would point at someone) on individual conservatives, and I enjoy slamming them for their stupid beliefs and their mind-boggling hypocrisy.

But as I surf, I begin to wonder if I should change my focus to just attacking conservatives as a whole. As much as I enjoy smacking Sean Hannity around, I think it would be more entertaining -- not just for me, but my readers -- to attack conservatives as a group AND as individuals. I know, I'm not taking the high road here. I am, however, following the examples I've found in dozens of political blogs.

Case in point #1: the accusation that Democrats who voted against Dr. Condolezza Rice's appointment as Secretary of States are racist.

Where do people dream this shit up?

The proof of this racism seems to be related to the fact that Senator Robert Byrd was in the Ku Klux Klan. Ipso facto, Byrd is a racist, and a Democrat, which would make the others that voted against Rice racist as well. I think. Actually, I haven't seen any proof yet that the Democrats who voted against Rice were also racist.

I would have voted against Condi. Not because I'm a racist. Because I think she's not qualified for the job. Well, let me take that back. As a Bush puppet, she is extremely qualified for the job. More so than Colin Powell, who on occasion publicly disagreed with Bush administration policies.

Like everyone else in Bush's cabinet, Rice refuses to accept any responsibility for the bad intelligence that led to our war with Iraq to hunt down WMDs.

Your average conservative would counter that John Kerry spoke out about WMDs; why aren't you blaming him?

Well, mainly, he's just a senator, relying on the intelligence information provided by the various intelligence groups working on WMDs. He would have been told, just like Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council, that our intelligence about WMDs was based on facts, not assertions.

It was Bush, Powell, Rice, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld that ran with the WMD angle. They told us all on numerous occasions of the threat posed by Saddam and his vast stockpiles of weapons. And they were wrong. Deadly wrong.

So no, it's not about racism. It's about putting the right person in the job. And since Rice refused to acknowledge mistakes made by her agency and others, and has in the past refused to appear in any hearings where she is required to take an oath to tell the truth, makes her the wrong person for the job.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Conservative Humanitarians

When the United States launched an attack against Iraq in March 2003 to rid the country of deadly weapons of mass destructions, most conservatives supported President Bush and his decision to go to war. As time passed, with no WMDs found, conservatives still supported President Bush. And when we finally learned earlier this month that the Iraq Survey Group had stopped its hunt for WMDs (registration may be required to view the story at the Washington Post), conservatives didn't have much to say. Perhaps they had forgotten the original reason. They're now on board for the new reason, to spread democracy to Iraq and to liberate the Iraqi people.

Suddenly conservatives became humanitarians, with their phony concern for the Iraqi people. Invariably, on a show like Hannity and Colmes, Sean Hannity would launch into a tirade when pitted against a liberal guest who opposed the war. Sean would say something like this:

"There were mass graves, Michael. What about that? What about the rape rooms and the torture chambers? Should we not have gone in to put a stop to Saddam Hussein's tyranny?"

Most conservative pundits spoke of Iraq the same way, referring to mass graves and rape rooms and torture.

Which got me thinking: what did conservatives have to say about Iraq in the 1990s? After all, it was that decade that produced mass graves, and rape rooms, and torture. Wouldn't conservatives have spoken out against the human rights violations in Iraq during the 1990s? You'd think so.

You'd be wrong.

In extensive review of years worth of transcripts from shows like Hannity and Colmes, I couldn't find a single instance where Sean Hannity mentioned how the United States needed to liberate Iraq.

My research tool is Highbeam Research. It's like a low-cost version of Lexis-Nexis. It doesn't have a huge database like Lexis-Nexis, but it does have Fox News transcripts.

So, on to Sean Hannity. What did he have to say about Iraq in the 1990s? I performed a Boolean search with the terms "Iraq" and "Democracy," searching from 1996 to 2000. The result? Three hits. Let's see what Sean Hannity had to say about Iraq in the 1990s:

Hannity and Colmes, March 24, 1999:

"HANNITY: (to guest Gary Bauer) I am a big believer in covert operations. For example, when we bombed Libya and we nearly got Muammar Qadhafi. What happened? He was awfully quiet for a good many years. I believe that, for example, if -- if we had targeted Saddam Hussein personally, many, many lives could have been saved, but there's an executive order that prevents the United States from being involved in any assassination attempts. So if we're talking about Milosevic, if we're talking bout Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qadhafi or Ayatollah Khomeini or any of these people around the world, should the United States perhaps covertly be involved, covert operations, in assassination of foreign leaders?"

Hmm. No mention of rape rooms or torture or mass graves in Iraq. The other two hits were unrelated to Iraq.

Now what? Well, how about a search for "Iraq" and "liberation"?

Nuts. Nothing. Although there are a few instances of Sean Hannity criticizing Bill Clinton's decision to send troops to Kosovo. You know, not supporting the president when we have troops in harms way. I guess that only applies to Republican presidents, eh, Sean?

Well, shoot. I guess I'll try "Iraq" and "rape" and see what I get.

Nothing. Damn.

Hannity's a wash. How about Ann Coulter? Surely she's said something about Iraq in the past.

Guess what? Nothing.

Rush Limbaugh. I'll bet he's said something about Iraq and the horrible conditions Iraqis lived under during the 1990s.

I guessed wrong.

Not a single right-wing pundit spoke out against the horrible conditions in Iraq in the 1990s. None I could find, anyway. So, reader, if you have a link to any republican or conservative advocating the liberation of the Iraqi people during the 1990s, drop me a line.



Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Where Are The Liberals?

I participate in a couple of different blog traffic exchange programs, BlogExplosion and BlogClicker (I know, you're thinking, "Oh no, not another blog shilling for the traffic exchange programs!" I have to mention them for this posting, and I'll explain the reason why in a moment). If you have a blog, both programs are a way to drive traffic to your site. They work the same way: you surf web pages in the exchange ring for a set amount of time (30 seconds), and you gain credits by surfing; the credits in turn drive traffic to your site.

Here's the thing: there aren't many liberal political sites participating. So, dear reader, if you have your own liberal blog, or know someone that does, check out BlogExplosion or BlogClicker. We need you! There are many conservative blogs. Lots of them. But not many liberal blogs. Spread the word!

Oh, and I forgot to include a link to this week's Top 10 Conservative Idiots over at the Democratic Underground. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Republican Hypocrites

It didn't take very long after the attacks of 9/11 for conservatives to blame Bill Clinton for the attacks. Bill Clinton is a convenient target for Republicans who apparently suffer from some sort of short-term memory problem. Ask a conservative to think back to, say, 1996, and you're likely to get a blank stare. What happened in 1996?

What happened? Bill Clinton was trying to pass a sweeping anti-terrorism bill in 1996, which would have incorporated many of the provisions that are now a part of the Patriot Act.

Republicans, of course, were so concerned about the terrorist threat that they worked as hard as they could to block the bill Clinton wanted to pass. They were concerned that Clinton's anti-terrorism bill would violate civil liberties. I know, the irony is rich.

In 1996, Clinton requested from Congress an additional $1.1 billion to fund counter-terrorism. Republicans were not exactly supportive of the idea: Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement that "the (Clinton) Administration would be wise to utilize the resources Congress has already provided before it requests additional funding."

Say, that has a familiar ring to it. I know why: today, the Bush Administration requested an additional $80 billion in funding for continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Strangely enough, no one told Bush to utilize funds already provided by Congress before requesting additional funds.

In 1996, Jeff Nelligan, a spokesman for Rep. Bud Schuster (Republican, PA), complained of the Clinton administration request for additional funds to fight terrorists: "They've given us no idea where they are going to get the money."

I wonder if anyone has asked President Bush where he's going to get the money for his spending request? Nah.

For a more complete look at how Republicans attempted to thwart passage of anti-terrorism legislation, take a look at news articles from September 1996.

Quick note: This is just an update regarding college and liberal indoctrination. So far, I've seen no evidence of liberal indoctrination. However, in my film studies class, there is a definite Alfred Hitchcock bias. Not sure if there's a hidden agenda at play. I will be on the lookout for it, though.

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Most Depressing Day

Today (Jan. 24) is the worst day of the year; the most depressing day of the year. This according to U.K. psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, in a story appearing today on MSNBC.

Dr. Arnall devised a complicated formula to determine the most depressing day of the year. It's pretty technical, so I'm going to present it as explained by MSNBC:

[W+(D-d)] x TQ
----------------
M x NA

From MSNBC:

"The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action."

So, today sucks, according to Dr. Arnall.

“Following the initial thrill of New Year's celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in...the realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills," Arnall told MSNBC.

Good thing I'm listening to Morrissey right now.

Now, if you're suffering from the blues today, let me offer up something that I hope will put a smile on your face. Yes, it's time for another wacky episode of The Adventures of Bush and Rove. For new readers, this is my blog sitcom about the most powerful man in America, and the President of the United States.

I used to have a theme song, but for this episode, I'll just use I'll Be There For You, by the Rembrants, which was the theme song to Friends. You know how it goes.

We are in the Oval Office. KARL ROVE is sitting in a chair. He glances at his watch to see it is 9:17 a.m.

Finally, at 9:26 a.m., the door to the Oval Office opens and PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH steps in. Rove stands as Bush heads for his desk.

Rove: Good morning, sir.
Bush: Mornin' Karl. Did you get some breakfast? They're serving up Coco Crispies. Good stuff.
Rove: I had breakfast at home, sir.
Bush (sitting down): Oh, well, good for you. Breakast will make you a champion. Right?
Rove: Right. (Rove sits down). There is a pause. Then:

Rove: Sir, you're not wearing pants.
Bush (incredulously): Course I am, Karl. Laura dresses me every day. Why would she forget to put on my pants?
Rove: All the same, sir, I think you'll find you are missing your pants.
Bush: Hogwash.
Rove: Just touch your leg.
Bush: Yeah? I've got my pants on.
Rove: Sir, you're touching your arm.
Bush: Oh.

BUSH looks down at his lap.

Bush: You're right! No pants. Oh well, Karl. Some people do their best work pantless. Did you know that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling with no pants?
Rove: I, uh, was not aware of that fact.
Bush: True story, Karl. Learned it at school. So, Karl, what are we going to do with this mandate I won in the election?
Rove: Well, sir, spreading democracy throughout the world is a good idea.
Bush: Yes it is. I spent a lot of time thinkin' that one up, Karl. BUSH knocks on head. See? There's more up here than some hot air.
Rove: So, what region of the world did you want to focus on?
Bush: I was thinking of this country. Somewhere west, maybe. I don't remember exactly where. But I know they need democracy.
Rove: Okay, but which country?
Bush: No, don't rush me, Karl. It's that country with the kangaroos.
Rove: Australia?
Bush: No, that aint it. Help me out, Karl. Kangaroos, that fellow who wrastles gators...
Rove: Australia?
Bush: No, no, I'm pretty sure it's not Australia. Remember that band? Air Supply? Laura and I loved Air Supply. They're from the country I want to liberate.
Rove: Are you sure it's not Australia?
Bush (singing): "Lost in love and I like donuts was I thinkin' aloud"...remember that tune, Karl?
Rove: Sure. (Thinking) Say. Is the country OZstralia?
Bush: Yes! That's the one!
Rove: They have a democracy, sir.
Bush: No, no. Terribly oppressed. By the Taliban.
Rove: Er, where did you hear that, sir?
Bush: From the CIA. You know how great their intelligence information is. They were dead on correct about Iraq, that's why I gave Tenet that medal.
Rove: Sir, I think they may be wrong about this one.
Bush: Nah, Karl. Just imagine: a thriving democracy surrounded by ice and penguins.
Rove: Ice and penguins?
Bush: Yes sir. In Australia, they have ice, penguins, polar bears, and, soon, democracy.
Rove: Sir, I think you mean Antarctica.
Bush: Nah, that's the country that band came from...what was their name? Men at Work. Remember them?
Rove: Sir, Men at Work hail from Australia, not Antarctica.
Bush: Well, Karl, I know you mean well, but I'm going to side with the CIA on this one.
Rove: Er...
Bush: So, Karl, how do we spread democracy to Australia?
Rove: Well...uh...

BUSH is digging through his desk. He finally produces a small silver rectangular device.

Bush: See this, Karl? It's a Nintendo DS.
Rove: Yes, my nephew has one.
Bush: Well, I got this from mom and dad for Christmas...can't put the blasted thing down. Here's my idea, Karl. We get those engineers from Nintendo to create a video game about democracy, and then we load the game up into about a million of these, and we drop them down. Hopefully the penguins and polar bears will stay away from 'em. With this tool, we can teach those Oztralian folks all about democracy. I'm also going to have 'em built with a laser beam. And if they see someone from the Taliban creepin' towards 'em, they can blast the bastard with the laser.
Rove: That's quite an...ambitious...agenda.
Bush (picking up telephone): Hello? Get me Satoro san. He's the president of Nintendo.
Rove: I'll leave you to your call, sir.
Bush: Thanks, Karl. You know, maybe I should send you to Oztralia myself. You can get me some pitchers of all of the penguins and polar bears, and let me know what it's like to walk on a giant mass of ice.
Rove: Yes, sir.

The End



Saturday, January 22, 2005

Eye On The Right: James Dobson, Nut Job

Sponge Bob Square Pants: promoting the "gay lifestyle"? That's the charge James Dobson, director of the group Focus on The Family, has made against the non-human, animated cartoon character. Sponge Bob is among dozens of characters from popular children's television programs appearing in a video called We Are Family, from the We Are Family Foundation, which is being sent to schools in March to help spread the crazy idea of diversity.

The We Are Family Foundation was formed by musician Nile Rodgers (who has worked with too many musicians and bands to mention, from Madonna and Duran Duran to Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton) following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The group's mission:

We Are Family Foundation celebrates our common humanity and the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate individuals of all ages about diversity, understanding, respect and multiculturalism; and to support those who are victims of intolerance.

Enter James Dobson, who sees a more sinister motive for the group: their real goal is to promote the "homosexual lifestyle" to children.

As reported by the New York Times (registration may be required to view article) on Jan. 19, Dobson is convinced the music video for We Are Family hides a pro-homosexual agenda. This presumably based on a "tolerance pledge" included at the We Are Family Foundation's web site (actually written by the Southern Poverty Law Center). The pledge states:

Tolerance is a personal decision that comes from a belief that every person is a treasure. I believe that America's diversity is its strength. I also recognize that ignorance, insensitivity and bigotry can turn that diversity into a source of prejudice and discrimination.

To help keep diversity a wellspring of strength and make America a better place for all, I pledge to have respect for people whose abilities, beliefs, culture, race, sexual identity or other characteristics are different from my own.

You know, just reading that pledge, I think I'm turning gay.

What's wrong with teaching children to have respect for all people? What does Dobson want, intolerance for homosexuals? Teaching kids to be tolerant of others seems like a good thing.

Judge for yourself. Here's the music video for We Are Family. Which, Dobson says, promotes homosexuality.

Paul Batura, assistant to Dobson, claims the video to be an "...insidious means by which the organization is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids...it is a classic bait and switch."

Could it be Dobson's group came across the We Are Family website, a separate group promoting tolerance for gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals, not affiliated with the We Are Family Foundation, and assumed the two groups were the same? My guess: yes. Or, probably more accurately, someone told Focus on the Family about the web site and then no further research was conducted by Dobson's group. You know, to verify the information.

I think it's safe to say that SpongeBob is not gay. Although, I have my suspicions of C-3P0, the famous robot from the Star Wars movies. However, C-3P0 is not currently appearing in any pro-tolerance music videos, so it's impossible to say what George Lucas' motives are.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Bush Inauguration

I don't know if I'm supposed to feel guilty, but somehow I managed to miss watching George W. Bush's inauguration this morning. I'm sure Bush gave an inspiring speech, full of lofty goals and, potentially, a few lies. He can't help it. For reference read any Bush speech from the end of 2002 through March 2003, where he talks about Iraq's WMDs. That part of those speeches is a lie.

A poll released today to coincide with the inauguration, conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal show 50% of respondents give Bush a favorable job performance rating.

On the subject of Iraq, a majority of respondents, 52%, say removing Saddam Hussein was not worth the costs in human lives and money to wage a war. Not that a poll has ever stopped our man Bush.

Here's an interesting line from Bush's speech:

"We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies."

Quick: which nation that is a good friend of the United States also has one of the worst records on human rights? Which nation routinely jails dissidents, humiliates women, and oppresses its people? If you said Saudi Arabia, you're a winner! Yes, Saudi Arabia. If you're curious, you can read Human Right Watch's report on Saudi Arabia, or Amnesty International's report.

Here's an example of Saudi Arabia's oppression: a group of protesters calling for an elected government were arrested on Dec. 16, 2004, and received sentences that included jail time and flogging. Yes, flogging. Between 100 and 250 lashes. Just for demonstrating against the government. I guess this is one of those situations where the United States looks the other way. What else would we do, considering how dependent we are on Saudi oil.

Here's another line from Bush's speech:

"All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you."

Does this mean we're going to do something about the oppression in Sudan? I hope so. That could be Dr. Condolezza Rice's first task when she becomes secretary of state.

Protests of the inauguration have been planned all across the country. Another group is taking part in a boycott by not purchasing anything today. The organization Not One Damn Dime is one of those groups urging people not to spend money today.

I'm not sure what good it will do to not purchase anything today. The Urban Legend References Pages at Snopes has an article about this sort of boycott and how effective it is. Snopes doesn't think it will be an effective boycott, and I agree with Snopes.

I think it's time to fire Halo 2 back up.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Bill O'Reilly Gives Me a Headache

I used to be a big fan of Fox News. Most nights I would watch The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes. I try to catch Fox News Watch every Saturday afternoon.

Now I hate Fox News.

Well, I still like Fox News Watch. But I find that it's impossible to watch The O'Reilly Factor or Hannity and Colmes. The shows are insufferable. I really, really, really hate Sean Hannity. Mainly because he's a smug, arrogant, hypocritical bully.

O'Reilly used to be tolerable. At some point he decided to appoint himself as morality czar and now his show is nothing more than a vehicle for the self-righteous O'Reilly to sit upon his throne and dictate morality for America. Which is ironic, considering the trouble he almost got into with a producer for his show, Andrea Mackris, who had accused O'Reilly of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, the case settled out of court, presumably to keep secret audio tapes of O'Reilly speaking with Mackris in a way that would be the opposite of moral, or decent.

Unfazed by the lawsuit, O'Reilly continues to dish out his tough-love approach to the world. Not just on television; he also hosts The Radio Factor, a show I have not yet heard because I am at school when O'Reilly's show is on.

Which brings me to one of the reasons why I hate Bill O'Reilly (not as much as I hate Sean Hannity, though): some would say that O'Reilly is an arrogant prick. I'd agree.

Take this transcript from his Jan. 13 show, where he's discussing wealth, poverty and education with University of Massachusetts Professor Randy Albelda. Here is Bill O'Reilly's thoughtful exchange with Albelda:

O'REILLY: Come on. The government never gave me anything, madam. I mean, I'm paying an enormous amount of taxes. And, you wanna take more and give it to somebody else who may have not gotten educated 'cause they're lazy. I mean -- I resent that --

ALBELDA: Is that why you think people aren't educated? Because they're lazy?

O'REILLY: Most people who don't make any money are not educated because they didn't wanna get educated.

O'Reilly has a firm grasp on reality, wouldn't you say?

People aren't educated because they're lazy?

Bullshit.

People aren't educated because they cannot afford to go to school. Or they are not educated because they're holding down a full-time job and managing a household. I know, O'Reilly claims he isn't a conservative, but he sure thinks like one, where the world can be broken down into black and white thinking, rather than acknowledging the shades of grey that exist.

I went into the military at the age of 17. I went because I didn't believe I could get a college education. Part of that decision came from the fact that college was never presented to me as a real option when I was in high school. My family was pretty poor, which would have qualified me for scholarships, grants and loans. I didn't know how the system worked. So, I went into the military, spent six years there, got out, and ended up working in high tech. All without an education, but not because I was too lazy to go to school.

In the same interview, O'Reilly also is surprised to learn that there might actually be poor people in Boston:

ALBELDA: Well, I'm a teacher, too. And, I live in a city where I see kids that wanna be educated but often can't -- either they don't have enough to eat every morning --

O'REILLY: They're starving in Boston? I lived in Boston for seven years. I never saw anybody starving in Boston.

ALBELDA: You never did?

O'REILLY: Never! And I was out in Roxbury and every place else!

That's classic Bill for you: if he hasn't seen it, it doesn't exist. Here's a news flash for Bill O'Reilly: people go hungry all across the United States, not just in Boston.

I mentioned being poor as a kid. We had it so bad on occasion that my step-father would get us food by stealing it from dumpsters behind grocery stores.

Somehow, I doubt Bill O'Reilly ever had to eat food stolen from grocery store dumpsters when he was a kid.

Bill O'Reilly likes to say he's "looking out for you." The reality is, of course, that Bill O'Reilly is looking out for himself first. I think looking out for kids is at the bottom of his list. Especially the poor kids in Boston, who apparently do not get educated because they're too lazy to do so, coming from families living on $8.00 an hour from welfare. I think it's safe to say that Bill O'Reilly does not earn $8.00 an hour.

Who's looking out for you? Not Bill O'Reilly, that's for sure.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Top 10 Conservative Idiots

I've been meaning to link back to the Democratic Underground's Top 10 Conservative Idiots list, but with my very busy schedule, I've neglected to do so. I am happy to announce that today I am correcting that mistake. Click here to read this week's installment.

Today was Martin Luther King, Jr., day, which meant no school. And while I should have done something to honor the memory of Dr. King, I ended up doing homework...all day long. Several chapters of math (you know, the bonehead math I'm now taking because I've forgotten almost everything I learned 20 years ago) and several chapters in my film studies class. We're discussing Alfred Hitchcock (of course) and his film North by Northwest.

I didn't like it.

Which will likely make me a heretic in the eyes of my classmates. They love Hitchcock. They love to talk about him in class, too, which puts me at a disadvantage as I've never seen a Hitchcock film (well, until I saw North by Northwest).

But I'll keep an open mind, and even though I'm likely to argue the case that North by Northwest was...well...stupid. And I have my reasons. Such as, the plot was stupid. Something about a man falsely accused of being a spy, climaxing in a scene with characters chasing each other on top of (and in) Mt. Rushmore.

You'll notice a lack of political commentary this post. My apologies. Truth be told, I was too busy with homework to find something to comment on. I could go into the details of my math homework. Nah, I'd better not.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

George W. Bush: The Buck Doesn't Stop Here

In what must be the most arrogant statement to come from George W. Bush's lips, Bush tells the Washington Post today (Jan. 16) that he does not have to take responsibility for any mistakes made by his administration, because his re-election proved voters approved of the actions of his administration. "We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 elections," Bush told the Washington Post. "The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

In other words, the people responsible for the bad intelligence on Iraq WMDs, or the failure to plan for an Iraqi insurgency, are off the hook because of Bush's re-election.

What a fucking load of bullshit.

Why does the media let him get away with this? No one holds this man accountable. Conservatives do not hold him accountable. Bush isn't going to hold anyone in his administration accountable.

I'm sure Bush's words will comfort the families who lost loved ones in the hunt for Iraq's WMDs. And his words will be of comfort to the young soldiers at Walter Reed hospital who are adjusting to their post-Iraq WMD hunt lives of being blind, brain damaged, paralyzed, or missing limbs.

Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had said the same thing about himself in his re-election? Suppose the Lewinsky scandal broke out during Clinton's first term, and upon re-election, would you have accepted Clinton stating that what he did with Lewinsky didn't matter because the American people had chosen Clinton over Bob Dole? Would conservatives had accepted that explanation? Of course not.

The fact that Bush was re-elected does not necessarily mean he has broad support for his handling of the war in Iraq. In a Gallup poll released Jan. 12, 50% of respondents said it was a mistake to invade Iraq. 56% said they disapprove of how Bush has handled the situation in Iraq. 59% said they thought things were going badly in Iraq.

Clearly, Bush is out of touch with reality.

Amazingly, in the Washington Post interview, Bush said that "...some of the decisions I've made up to now have affected our standing in parts of the world...there's no question we've got to continue to do a better job of explaining what America is all about."

In a knee to the groin of his conservative base, Bush said he was not going to pursue a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. Take that, conservative Christians. Your man has just stabbed you in the back, while "flip-flopping" on the issue. You know, what he accused John Kerry of doing. For instance, on February 24, 2004, Bush called for the amendment: "On a matter of such importance, the voice of the people must be heard. Activist courts have left the people with one recourse. If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America (italics added). Decisive and democratic action is needed, because attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country," Bush said in remarks from the Roosevelt Room.

"For all these reasons, the Defense of Marriage requires a constitutional amendment (italics added). An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern. And the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honoring -- honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society," Bush added.

There you have it. Imagine that: you're a conservative Christian, and you've heard your man give speeches on how he's going to protect the institution of marriage, only to say after being re-elected (thanks to your vote) that he had changed his mind on pursuing an amendment to protect marriage.

Congratulations, America. You've elected a man who does not have to answer to anyone, a man who can do what he wants, when he wants, at his whim, with no concern for the consequences.

I wonder what else Bush will do with his "political capital"? Who knows, the sky's the limit for this president.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Saturday News: My New Column Is Up

Not much to report today, so far. My new column is up at CounterBias, on the Iraq Survey Group quietly ending its hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

And no, we didn't find any weapons. Not that the Bush administration will tell you this. You know, because they're dishonest, and Bush can never admit to making mistakes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Liberal Media Strikes Again

Why are conservatives still complaining about liberal bias in the media? Is this still an issue? I think not. Case in point: the CBS "memogate" story and the report that the hunt for WMDs in Iraq had ended with no weapons found.

Now, if the media has a liberal bias, what story do you think it would focus on more? Dan Rather and the CBS investigation into George W. Bush's National Guard service (which was based on forged memos), or the WMD story (which was based in part on forged documents)?

Give yourself a point if you guessed "Memogate" at CBS.

Yes, the media was all over CBS and the outcome of the investigation into why the program 60 Minutes II used forged documents in a report on Bush's Guard service.

Now, earlier this week, the Washington Post broke the story that the Iraq Survey Group had ended its two-year hunt for WMDs shortly before Christmas.

So, how to test the media reaction to these two stories? Well, I don't have Lexis-Nexis, but I have a similar service called Highbeam Research. While its database of news sources isn't as extensive as Lexis-Nexis, it's pretty close.

With that in mind, I'll do a total of four searches: two searches of "cbs news" and "weapons of mass destruction" through newspaper headlines and stories, and two searches of transcripts. I'll start with the date of Jan. 10 through today, Jan. 14.

Newspaper reports on CBS News: 160 hits.
Newspaper reports on WMDs: 57 hits.

Transcripts mentioning the CBS report on the Bush National Guard story: 18 hits.
Transcripts mentioning weapons of mass destruction: 5 hits.

So, in both cases, coverage of the CBS news fiasco was three times that of the report that Iraq had no WMDs.

Liberal media bias?

You can test this for yourself via Google News, if you do not have access to Lexis-Nexis or a similar service. Click here for a search for "CBS News," and here for a search for "weapons of mass destruction, covering Jan. 10 - Jan. 14, 2005.

What do you get? CBS News rates 4,250 hits, while WMDs rates 2,410 hits.

So, if the media has a liberal bias, why is it all over the CBS "Memogate" story?

Answer: because mainstream media does not have a liberal bias. In fact, right now, the media has a pro-Bush bias.

Say, speaking of the liberal media, whatever happened with the investigation that someone from the Bush administration had leaked the name of a CIA operative to columnist Robert Novak?

I can hear the crickets chirping. CIA operative? Huh?

Good job, liberal media.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Iraq: No WMDs

It's official: no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, and we're giving up trying to find them.

Conservative outrage is not expected. Billions of dollars wasted? So what! Hundreds of lives lost? Big fucking deal. Thousands injured? Who gives a shit. At least we captured Saddam Hussein.

What a cluster-fuck. And why isn't the Bush administration being held responsible for the bad intelligence that led to this stupid war? If all of this had happened during the Clinton administration, Bill Clinton would probably be in prison. Conservatives, apparently, hold George W. Bush to a different standard of behavior. Which, I think, is actually no standards at all. In fact, in the Bush administration, incompetence is awarded. Such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to George Tenet, the former head of the CIA. It was his agency's bad intelligence that was used as the bullshit basis to "disarm" Iraq. Remember that? We needed to disarm Iraq before they used their imaginary weapons to arm terrorists or other groups that might be a threat to the United States.

"Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world. The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?"

-- George W. Bush, October 7, 2002.

"The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his "nuclear mujahideen" -- his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

-- George W. Bush, same speech.

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them...U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them."

-- George W. Bush, lying to the world via his State of the Union address, Jan. 28, 2003.

So, conservatives, why is it that Bush is not held accountable for what his administration says or does? Can you explain this? I mean, you guys wanted to drive Bill Clinton out of office because he lied about having an affair. Sure, lying to a grand jury is bad. Then again, when it was Oliver North lying to Congress about illegally selling weapons to terrorists, conservatives reacted not with outrage, but instead embraced the man as a hero. I don't get it. The message I come away with is, lying about sex is bad; lying about your role in illegally selling weapons to terrorists, and then destroying evidence of your illegal activity, is okay. Same goes for lying about the existence (or, in this case, non-existence) of stockpiles of weapons at the hands of a rogue nation.

Just think about it for a moment: George W. Bush's lies about Iraq WMDs resulted in the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers; the WMD lies resulted in thousands of soldiers becoming injured or disabled. The WMD lies resulted in the deaths of Iraqi citizens. The WMD lies put the United States into deficit spending, with billions of taxpayer dollars wasted.

Good thing George W. Bush didn't lie about having an affair with an intern.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Hire A Conservative

First up: I'm coming up on the completion of my second week of college, and I've kept my eye out for any forms of liberal indoctrination. I did see a bunch of signs for the military recruiters, and the building where I'm taking math has a ping-pong table and coin-op video games. Hmm. Didn't China produce champion ping-pong players? Or am I just thinking of Forrest Gump?

Now, I've also seen signs up for a campus group called Phi Theta Kappa, and I'm thinking that maybe this group is a front for the communist movement. Or, it's just an organization for students making good grades. Haven't decided which yet.

Anyway, bottom line, I have not had anyone attempt to indoctrinate me into any sort of political belief. Although I'm pretty sure I saw some students giving each other secret hand signals, so who knows, but I will get to the bottom of this important issue within the next three years, give or take.

Now, on to Armstrong Williams. Last week it was revealed that Williams, a conservative columnist and radio show host, had been paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind program. Williams did so through his columns, media appearances, and on the radio.

Once word got out that Williams was a paid shill for the Bush administration, Williams was dropped as a columnist for the Tribune Media Services.

Which brings us full circle to the Bush administration.

Remember when George Bush said his administration would adhere to the highest standards of ethics? I know, he hasn't mentioned it since 2001, but that was a promise he made when he first became president. Apparently, in addition to not applying to Congress, those ethical standards were not adhered to at the Department of Education, although they're claiming no law was broken. While undoubtedly true, ethical standards tend to be higher that what is required by law. The Government Accounting Office is investigating the matter.

I wonder how conservatives will react to this? I mean, they always bitch about the money PBS gets from taxpayers, so they should, if intellectually honest, speak out against Williams being paid by the taxpayers. I'm sure Rush Limbaugh did a show on it today. Right? How about Sean Hannity? Hannity must have hated the idea of PBS getting taxpayer money to partially fund Now with Bill Moyers, for instance. So I'm sure Sean is very upset over this issue. As soon as a transcript is released of Sean's reaction to this latest Bush administration scandal, I'll post it here.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not been approached by any government agency to promote any government program, although I have received federal funds in the form of a Stafford student loan to pay for college. So, if I write about having a positive experience in college, know that my point of view may be slightly tainted from receiving federal funds. Wait a minute. I have to pay that money back! With interest! Okay, so I'm not violating any ethical standards. Never mind.

Now, if the U.S. Patent Office wanted to pay me to promote their programs (whatever it is they do, I'm not sure), I could live with that decision. So, if anyone from the U.S. Patent...Department, or office, whatever it is they are called, happens to be reading these words, go ahead and drop me a line.

Patents! Help make America safe with a patent.

See? That was easy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Mel Gibson Loves Michael Moore

First up: my new column is up at CounterBias. It's a piece on the New Year's resolutions I'm hoping conservatives will keep...I know, I'm living in crazy-land, but you never know.

If you've been a regular reader of my site, you may recall the column I wrote about Jon Alvarez, the founder of a group called Patriotic Americans Boycotting Anti-American Hollywood (PABAAH). Alvarez, who apparently was schooled in constitutional law by Sean Hannity, has a petition up to charge Michael Moore with treason.

At his web site, (here is the link to PABAAH, but you may not be able to reach the site from my site; Alvarez has blocked me) Alvarez and his robot followers have created a huge list of actors, directors, and anyone else involved in entertainment who has been critical of George W. Bush -- a boycott list. It's huge, there must be hundreds of people on the boycott list. There's no rhyme or reason to the list, either.

Now, to Alvarez and the PABAAH community, Mel Gibson is a hero. They love the guy. Mel Gibson can do no wrong in their eyes. They like to discuss at PABAAH the success of The Passion, and I think they've even placed on their boycott list people who criticized Mel Gibson (not that I can verify that, unfortunately).

Last night at the Golden Globes, Gibson's film won the honor of best drama, and Moore's film won best picture.

After the ceremony, Gibson spoke with reporters. Among other things, he talked about Michael Moore and Fahrenheit 9/11. Here's a bit of what Gibson said:

"I saw the film (Fahrenheit 9/11). I liked it...I feel a kind of strange kinship with Michael (Moore). I mean, they're (the media, or groups like PABAAH) trying to pit us against each other in the press, but this is all just a hologram, you know. They've really got nothing to do with one another. They were used as some kind of divisive left-right thing."

Okay, I don't understand the bit about the hologram, but in reading what Gibson said, it appears to me that he is supporting Michael Moore. AND he's seen Fahrenheit 9/11. Right?

You know, I have to bring up the hologram comment again. What the hell was Gibson talking about? Does anyone know? If you do, please drop me a line so I can understand. Thanks.

So, Gibson was critical of the media in pitting him against Michael Moore. And PABAAH has done that. A lot. If you can access the site, read through the message board and take a look at the numerous threads about Michael Moore. And Gibson. Remember, they love Mel at PABAAH.

Yet Gibson is singing Moore's praises. If Gibson is a supporter of Moore, wouldn't that make Gibson an accessory to treason?

Also, since Mel Gibson is supporting Michael Moore, that should mean that Gibson would have to be put onto the PABAAH boycott list. After all, part of PABAAH's boycott includes the theaters that showed Fahrenheit 9/11 and the studio that released it.

So, if you can actually access PABAAH, I'd be interested to know how they're dealing with Mel Gibson's pro-Moore comments.

Hopefully someone can explain that hologram bit, too.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Eye On The Right: Hillary Clinton

Right-wingers are jumping for joy and high-fiving each other in their bliss that Hillary Clinton's former finance director has been indicted for fraud -- for filing false reports with the Federal Campaign Commission. The finance director, David Rosen, is accused of underreporting campaign funds raised at a campaign events. In one instance, Rosen reported receiving funds of $400,000 for a concert, when the actual amount raised was $1.2 million, according to the FBI.

Does this sound familiar? Let's see: an aide to a member of Congress has been indicted for violating campaign finance laws.

Say, the same thing is happening to House Majority Leader Tom Delay. Three of his aides have been indicted for violating campaign finance laws.

Of course, in the wacky world of right-wing politics, the indictment of Clinton's former director means that Hillary actually committed the crime, as evidenced in this exchange at the Conservative Underground. The thread begins with a link to the Clinton story and this post by someone named "Cadman":

Could the trail lead to the Clintons? Could this be the downfall of the shrill beast? I can only hope.....Or will another of the mindless minions fall on their own sword to save the Clinton crime regime?

Respondents replied with similar sentiments.

Reactions were similar at Free Republic, although the Free Republic responders appear to be fucking crazy. That's just my opinion.

The indictment is also big news at World Net Daily.

Which brings me to the subject of conservative double-standards. See, in Conservative World, Tom Delay is innocent until proven guilty, while Hillary Clinton is assumed to be guilty.

Republicans in the House were so concerned that Delay would be indicted that they decided to change the rules of ethics, in order to protect Delay, who would have had to step down as majority leader if indicted. Delay ended up requesting that the changes in ethics law be overturned.

Here's an assignment, if you are interested: watch Hannity and Colmes this week, and see how many segments are devoted to Hillary Clinton's former aide. We can assume Sean Hannity will be foaming at the mouth over this new Clinton "scandal." We can also assume Alan Colmes will make an attempt to remind the panel of the three indictments of Tom Delay's aides, which will be ignored by Hannity and whatever conservative pundits are on hand; chances are, it'll be Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Malkin, Mike Reagan, or all of them at once.

As far as Clinton and Delay go, it will be business as usual for conservatives: deflect attention away from their own (Delay) and drum up a non-story about Hillary Clinton.

Let the games begin.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Carlson Canned

Today is one of those good news-bad news kind of day. First the good news: CNN gave Tucker Carlson the boot and sent his bow-tie wearing ass to MSNBC (maybe). The bad news: Crossfire is likely to be cancelled.

Now, I've enjoyed Crossfire over the years, through its various format changes or changes to its schedule.

The current (although, apparently, soon to be defunct) format of Crossfire, with Paul Begala and James Carville on the left, and Tucker Carlson and Robert Novak on the right, premiered on April 1, 2002. At first the show was an hour long, but eventually was shortened to half an hour (note to Fox News: Hannity and Colmes could be shortened to 30 minutes. Just an idea).

In case you've missed it, Crossfire was a Left vs. Right debate style show, with lots of arguing pundits and, on one occasion, the use of the word "dick" to describe Tucker Carlson. Carlson was called a dick by Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

Actually, Stewart's October 15, 2004 appearance on Crossfire may have signaled the end for the show. Instead of joking around with Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson that day (America the Book by Stewart and the writers of the Daily Show had just been released), Stewart blasted the Crossfire hosts as "partisan hacks." Which I think was something of a shock to Begala and Carlson, since they were expecting Stewart to be funny. That day's show was quite surreal, with Carlson attacking Jon Stewart for not asking John Kerry tougher questions:

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?
STEWART: Absolutely.
CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...
(CROSSTALK)
STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.

Now, I should say, I didn't agree with everything Stewart said, as I've always found Crossfire to be entertaining. I am a fan of the format of people yelling at each other. At least, when it's a liberal yelling at a conservative. But that's just me.

I do agree with Jon Stewart on one point: Tucker Carlson is a dick, no matter what show he's one.

Or, you could say "pompous ass" or maybe even "arrogant fuck" to describe Carlson.

So, good riddance to Tucker. If he does end up on MSNBC, I'll take bets that his show will be cancelled within six months.

And Jon Stewart will still be hosting the smartest, funniest "fake news" program on cable television.



Monday, January 03, 2005

From the College Front

Today I began my winter term of college, and I'll be in classes Monday-Thursday. Which means update to the site may be sporadic or infrequent. Once I get settled into my routine at school I'll probably be back to daily posts. Until then, make sure to stop by every now and then, you may find I've posted something at 1:00 a.m.

I'm 36, and getting a college degree has been a goal of mine for years. I've procrastinated over the last 12 years, you know, paving a road to hell with my good intentions. So, it's a little strange at college (it's a community college) for me as a good 90% of my classmates are much younger. For most of them, the material is fresh, but for me...well, the last time I took a math class was 1985. So I have to learn math all over again, and it's weird, because what I'm seeing looks familiar, but I cannot quite remember how to solve the problem. Luckily it's a small class, maybe 20 students, and the instructor seems to genuinely enjoy teaching adults basic math.

More updates as time permits...Thanks in advance for your patience. I'm off to do some homework.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Religious Racists

Mention civil liberties and the Patriot Act to most conservatives, invariably the response you will get is "whose rights have been violated?"

That's not the point. The point is the potential for rights to be violated. If you want to test this theory out, start checking out lots of books about Osama bin Laden, or Al-Qaeda, from your local public library and see how long it takes for the FBI to get in touch with you.

God help you if you are a Muslim in the United States.

In a recent poll conducted by Cornell University, a staggering 44% of Americans supported curtailing the rights of Muslim Americans.

Yes, Americans. American citizens.

Quick: guess which group was more likely to support limiting the rights of Muslims: liberals, or religious (Christian) Republicans?

If you guessed Republicans, give yourself a tax cut! (And make sure to check out this piece of Christian literature from Jack Chick, called "The Little Bride.")

Yes, our good friends, that group of compassionate individuals who just hate it when liberals suggest they might be racist, are more likely to support a form of institutionalized racism than liberals.

The survey also showed that respondents who were more likely to watch television news supported limits to Muslim civil rights. Or, in other words, people who watch Fox News regularly support limiting the rights of Muslims.

It's beginning to feel like Germany, circa 1940.

27% of respondents favored requiring Muslims to register with the federal government whenever they moved to a new address. 29% supported the infiltration of Muslim civic groups and volunteer organization by federal agents to keep tabs on members of those groups.

What's next, conservatives? Forcing Muslims to wear a star and crescent arm band? Putting them into Muslim ghettos?

Republicans are big supporters of a limited federal government and support keeping the government out of our private lives -- except if you're Muslim.

So much for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

My New Year's Resolution

Okay, I'm going to try something new today: talk about my life. Now, I haven't exactly created a list of things to do this year, but there is one thing that I've been putting off for a long time now: getting a college degree.

When I joined the military, I did so right at the start of my senior year in high school. The school had a career center, a place to go and read about various job occupations. I wasn't really thinking much about college as I didn't think I'd be able to pay for it due to my family's income.

There was a stack of brochures from the armed forces, and the one I picked up first was for the navy. I looked through it and a particular job caught my eye:

JOURNALIST

At the time I was working on my school's newspaper, and thought that I'd like to make journalism a career. So, it was off to the Navy recruiter, and I signed up for the delayed entry program, meaning I could secure a spot at the journalism school in advance. When I graduated, it was a month later that I went to boot camp in July, 1986.

Returning to civilian life in 1992, I tried to find work as a journalist, and discovered the job market for the media in my home state was closed. Eventually I ended up working in high tech as a QA test engineer, and worked in that field until I was laid off in 2003.

My wife is a college graduate, and she's encouraged me for years to enroll in college. It was one of those things that I had intended on doing, but kept procrastinating. I did finally get my ass in gear and started the process in December 2004. We have a great community college in the Portland-metro area, and there is a campus nearby.

The first hurdle was something I wasn't looking forward to: the placement test. High school was 18 years ago, and I wasn't sure how I'd do on the test. The placement test covers writing, reading, and math. And, depending on your score, you'd be placed into a specific math or writing class.

I was really worried about the math test, as math skills are not something I use very often. I was more confident about the writing and reading tests.

The testing took two hours, and we received our results about 30 minutes later. I was crossing my fingers that I had gotten into writing 121, which is the first college-level writing class offered (otherwise, you had to take the remedial classes for no credit). For math, I didn't have high hopes.

So, the minimum score for placement into writing 121 was a score of 45 and above; reading was 45 or above; and the math part was probably higher, maybe 60 or above to get into one of the college-level math classes.

In writing, I scored 46 out of 55, and in reading I scored 45 (they don't have a scale beyond the score of 45). I had made it into writing 121.

I then looked at my math score.

And my heart sank as I looked at my score:

40

Which meant I had placed into math 20, which is high-school level math. I wasn't surprised by the low score, but starting that low means taking several terms of basic math until I reached the college level. Which means every term taking basic math until I can get up to the math 111 area, when the classes start counting towards my degree.

It is pretty exciting for me. No one in my family has a college degree, which means I'll be the first, although I will not have a degree until I'm 40...but hey, better late than never.