Tuesday, August 31, 2004

In the interest of equal time and fear of being smashed, Song of the Suburbs presents...

HULK ON POLITICS!!!

Hello friends on internet! Hulk here! Hulk talk to you today about politics. Hulk hear old joke about politics being old Greek word meaning "many bloodsucking insects," but Hulk not get it. Hulk smash puny political science professor who not tell Hulk how to get elected King of America! Puny professor say "No, Hulk! America have no king! Please not hit puny professor no more!" or something like that. Hulk not sure what professor say after that. Hulk chased out of university by Army! Stupid Army always on Hulk's case! BAH! Hulk just want learn politics! That so difficult to understand? Oh, where was Hulk just now? HAH! Hulk remember now! Hulk talk politics!

Okay, Hulk know that presidential race VERY important in 2004. To Hulk, come down to two main issues. Defense spending and school vouchers. HA! Hulk fool you! Hulk only care about defense spending! Hulk like defense spending, think it very important to have strong military force. If Hulk elected, Hulk promise to increase size of military forces by fity kajillion percent. Hulk also add more gama bombs to arsenal, tell Iran to shove nuclear fuel up mullah's turbans. Something like that. Hulk make sure to not allocate funds to General "Thunderbolt" Ross, that for sure! Ha! Hulk kill Hulk with jokes! Killing no laughing matter, though. Hulk understand foreign policy. Foreign countries say "Rargh! Foreign leaders not like America! Hope America smashed for impudence!" Now, Hulk like a good smash every now and then, but saying America need smashing like saying income tax is fun thing to pay! Hulk hate taxes! HULK SMASH TAXES! HULK DESTROY PUNY IRS!!! HULK-- wait, Hulk not done yet. Hulk summarize by say Hulk increase size and force projection capability of armed forces. What that? Hulk not run for President? Hulk not on ballot?

Hulk go have a good cry now.

Okay, Hulk back!

Now, Hulk talk domestic policy. Hulk understand need for sound environmental policy. Hulk not understand why Green Party only look out for trees and not Hulk. Hulk green, too! Hulk go to Green Party treehouse fort, er, headquarters and say "Puny Greens not green at all! All pink, tan or brown! Need Hulk to help image!" Puny man at Green headquarters say not need Hulk help. Hulk say Hulk lead Green Party now. Puny policy wonk say "Green Party already have leader!" Hulk smash puny policy wonk and search for Leader. How hard it to find Leader? Leader green like Hulk, but has big green forehead and snazzy mustache! Hulk want snazzy mustache too! Hulk like word "snazzy!" Make hulk feel snazzy! HULK SNAZZY!!! Rargh! Hulk forget what Hulk talk about!

Hulk also watching Senate race in Illinois carefully. Hulk not understand why Alan Keyes having meltdown and being loudmouth. Keyes not talk policy, just answer questions with questions.

This very confusing for Hulk.

Hulk not hear about Obama, but if Obama not in Hulk face, Hulk not smash. Also, Hulk think Illinoisan should serve Illinois. Keyes not Illinoisan. Hulk think Illinois Republicans not look to center of party for candidates. Oberweis good, and want keep green cards rare. Hulk not mind being rare. Make Hulk stand out! McKenna nice puny human, good with business. Hulk also think Republican state senators like Wendell Jones and Larry Bomke make good US senators. They understand politics better, and decent guys to boot. Hulk dig that.

In all, politics too tough for Hulk. Hulk go smash supervillains like Doctor Doom and Michelin Man to save America. Hulk good at smashing.

WHAT? MICHELIN MAN NOT SUPERVILLAIN? HULK SMASH PUNY PERSON WHO TELL HULK THAT!!! RARGH!!!


Uhm, yeah. A few random thoughts from the Hulk. Note: This is the only time I'll let superheroes borrow my blog...
I caught the tail end of a conversation between Rush Limbaugh and President Bush while going out to pick up some lunch today. Dubya sounded as relaxed as possible for being in the middle of a campaign. Rush hit him with questions on Iraq: what's the link between Iraq and the broader war on terror? Why are we still there? What are future plans in regards to the war? The President answered them all succinctly and with clear answers. They're answers we've heard before: Iraq as safe harbor for terror groups, Saddam Hussein as patron to terrorists such as Abu Nidal (the leader of the Achille Lauro hijacking and murderer of American Leon Klinghoffer), use of chemical weapons on the Kurds, invasion of neighboring nations, sponsoring terrorist actions in Palestine, and constant violation of United Nations rsolutions. The song is the same, because there's no need to change any lyrics. I was also informed that 75% of al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed. Good on us.

On the domestic front, President Bush told Rush to wait for his convention speech for his answer. He did, however, talk about the reforms to Social Security and health care that will be crucial for a more modern society where moving from job to job is a reality. Those reforms have been discussed a bit by Congress and need to be implemented. The income tax reductions, a major facet of Dubya's 2000 campaign, still appear as both an accomplishment and a stepping stone to greater reductions. I'd like to see something about gay rights and civil unions, but that's likely asking too much for this term. Like the faith-based initiatives that allowed reliious charities further access to cure social maladies, a nod of agreement to the civil unions issue would show the compassionate side of conservative thought.

The President delivered this message as usual; a quick stutter here and there, a stutter that shows that his mind is moving far faster than his speech. It was a delivery similar to Jimmy Stewart's little stutter, and made him seem very human, very close to the people he serves. He also brought out his genial side, asking about Rush's health, asking the listeners to send prayers Rush's way to help him in his personal life. In all, it was a good interview.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Field Museum - Secrets of the Forbidden City

So, Isaac, Gretchen and I went to the Field Museum to see this exhibit. Honestly, I wish I'd gone sooner and more often. There's a lot of amazing stuff to see. There are displays of the emperor's daily robes, ceremonial armor and weapons, the various swords and knives having overly-poetic names. This was pretty typical for weapons of the time. You can definitely tell which sword was for actual defense and which were for ceremonial duties only. A lot of the blades had jade hilts, which I'd think would crack easily if the weapons were used in a real fight. There were also lots of plates and dinnerware, each set denoting who was allowed to eat from it.

The impressive parts of the exhibit included Qianlong's throne room. Yes, you read that right. They brought the imperial throne to the Field Museum along with the items that would have been in the throne room as well. What I noticed was the emperor's nod to tradition, with many of the numerous censers, sacrificial wine cups and daily-use goblets having three legs on the bottom of each vessel. This is something that can be traced back to early Chinese history, including the semi-mythical Shang dynasty.

The scrolls and paintings by various artists from China showed the power that the Emperor wielded, as well as his place in nature: he ruled mankind, but had no significance compared to the mountains, streams and sky. There were also paintings by Giuseppe Castiglione, a Jesuit priest who traveled to China to spread the word of God. His paintings were extremely realistic compared to the ink-brush paintings of China. Those paintings were on display, large silk scrolls with the pictures of Qianlong, his first wife (out of 26 I think), and scenes of the Emperor at home with his children. The last one is probably idealized, since the emperor of China would have almost no time to devote to his family due to the business of runing the country. The paintings are beautiful. What is quite amusing is the Buddhist mandala that the emperor commissioned from Catiglione.

The books that were on display were beautiful, though I wish I could have read more of them than what I did. My knowledge of Mandarin is fading and I need to brush up on it so I don't forget anything. The emperor was a skilled poet in the traditional Chinese styles, and some of his poems were on display.

The exhibit also shows Qianlong's reverence to the various religions of the country. There were various stupa used for meditation among the Tibetan sects of Buddhism, numerous idols of Chinese and Tibetan gods, even the Manchu gods of Qianlong's heritage. In addition, the Chinese government allowed the museum to show Qianlong's memorial tablet made after he died. The throne and tablet matched beautifully. Also of note was the Buddhist stupa commissioned by Qianlong's son Hongzheng. Hongzheng loved his mother so much that declared his mother an Empress after her death. This was more a gesture of grief than anything else, as the emperor would hold all of the power. Hongzheng's mother was merely the first wife, nothing else. She could wield no political power. So, the term Empress is used in some amount of error in the exhibit.

What I really wanted to see, though was the lute used by Qianlong when he was at court. I'd heard it was made in the Ming dynasty, and saw that it was described as having been made during the early Qing dynasty instead. You can see the Ming stylings in the carving of the wood, and its simple lacquering contrasts with the beautiful cloissone ceremonial lutes used in worship of the Manchu deities. I still think the emperor's lute may be a Ming-era instrument, though. It looks very simple compared to the other items found throughout the exhibit.

This exhibit is worth the admission price. It will close on the 16th of September. Go see this exhibit.

Friday, August 20, 2004

One More Thing! as Uncle says...

I'll be at GenCon in Indianapolis this weekend, so there won't be any posting to the blog over the weekend. Just so you know.

Toby McDaniel Column for 08/20/04

Read the second part in the column titled "HEADS UP!" about Governor Blagojevich's remarks about where he'd like to house the steer he won at the State Fair auction. Well, since the Executive Mansion is currently unoccupied, the governor joked about moving the steer there.

Yeah, thanks a frickin' lot, Blaggie. Tell us how you really feel about Springfield. I hope that more Springfielders feel the same way about you next election season. Contempt for the folks living outside the Chicago area is a great way to get them on your side.

At least we'd have someone more qualified to balance the state budget residing at 4th and Jackson again.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

"This is not about Oprah"

No, it's not about Oprah at all. It's about the fallout caused by Oprah. Ms. Winfrey served on a jury in a local murder case, which she should do; it is our duty as citizens to serve on juries when called. Celebrity status should not shield you, nor should your day-to-day life be a barrier to service, barring extraneous circumstances like moving, family emergencies and other similar situations. I am glad that Oprah served, showing that even celebrities are not immune to their responsibilities as citizens.

I am not pleased, however, about Oprah's offhand comment about doing a show that brings in her fellow jurors. This has the potential to ruin the right to privacy of the victim's family as well as that of the convicted man. Even the most innocent slip-up by a juror could endanger the appeals process for Dion Coleman. Is Ms. Winfrey willing to sacrifice the future of another human being for a ratings spike? I hope that she'll reconsider her plans. What goes on in the jurors' chambers needs to stay there for the sake of confidentiality.

A trial, even one such as this, should remain in the courts' purview of what does and does not get released after a verdict is handed down. Oprah and her fellow jurors need to take a step back and determine what effect their public discussion couyld have on this man's future. Oprah Winfrey is a very influential woman, and this is one instance where she should curtail her influence for the sake of another's life.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One more thing:

I do realize I haven't been posting like a madman lately. Now that I live with roommates, I do have to be more sociable with the folks around me. I also have a longer commute every day, so I'm rather tired once I get home. I will post more often, though. I think I can find some "me time" every couple of nights to get some blogging in. So, stay tuned.
Keyes likens abortion to terrorism

Okay, now I'm officially wondering what the hell the leadership of my party was smoking when they offered Alan Keyes the job. I'll give him points for honesty that abortion is a terrible thing. I'll give him credit for saying that the culture that has sprung up around the abortion industry needs to be eliminated and replaced with something better. You may consider abortion to be a type of terrorism or an infringement on the rights of the unborn, but you do not under ANY circumstances use the imagery of what happened on September 11, 2001 to draw a parallel between the killing of the unborn and the war we face against Islamofascism. That is a slap in the face of the 3000 people who died in New York and Virginia. (Yes, the Pentagon is on the other side of the Potomac, so I'm being a bit pedantic with that.)

I am becoming less and less enthused at the thought of Alan Keyes' campaign. President Bush needs someone who can keep his issues straight and not try to run everything together. Mr. Keyes is doing a horrible job of it so far.

On the other hand, President Bush has been doing a better job with his message. John Kerry will raise taxes on more than just "the rich." The less money I have to send to the feds, the better.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Thompson snubs Keyes

Oh, this isn't good for Alan Keyes. When a former governor won't support your campaign, you have a problem. Thompson's name still carries weight in the Illinois Republican party, and he would be able to do a lot to mobilize the centrists among the party faithful. This election just got tougher for Mr. Keyes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Downtown Downers Grove evacuated after pipe bomb found

Downers Grove is too nice of a town for this stuff to happen. My guess is that it's a local who was ticked off at the village government, but I can't figure out a specific motive. If it's some "peace activist" trying to "raise awareness" about domestic security, there are lots of better ways to do that than building an improvised explosive device and putting lives in danger. I have to give credit where it's due: the public works employee who found this reacted calmly and quickly to the discovery and the village government's safety procedures worked well.

On a personal note, I have family members who live in Downers Grove. While no one was injured, the potential for damage and deaths was there. I hope for quick arrests and a full explanation of motive. I'm almost of a mind to make the punishment for this hinge on the explanation. The more trivial a motive, the worse penalty that should be handled down. God forbid we hear "I was bored" or "I thought this would be cool." Something like that the guy ought to get jail time and a public beating by the folks whom he endangered. That may sound barbaric, but it could work nicely. Of course, whoever did this will be getting some nice federal prison time and all the hell that entails. I'm not saying there's a link to groups outside DuPage County, but if there is, we can point to another success in the War on Terror.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Keyes promises Republicans he'll run

So, Alan Keyes is willing to run for US Senate here in Illinois? This is going to be an uphill battle for Keyes, who already has two strikes against him. Mr. Keyes is a former Presidential candidate who was unable to gain any serious amount of votes in the 2000 primaries, which shows that he has difficulty in getting his message out on a national level. On top of that, he's literally an outsider: Mr. Keyes is from Maryland. I know everyone can point to Hillary Clinton as a successful case of carpetbagging as she is a former Chicagoan-turned-Arkansan-turned-New Yorker, but will it work for Alan Keyes? He's been quoted before as saying that he wouldn't do the same thing as Senator Clinton, but now he's considering it. Much like Lucy Ricardo, he's got some 'splainin' to do about his change of heart.

I pose this question: How is Mr. Keyes going to get his message out to the state in plenty of time to make an impact on the November 2 election? We're less than 3 months away. Will the Illinois GOP be able to fund enough commercials, print ads and internet presence to properly back him? The party has been pretty weak since George Ryan's ruinous escapades in office.

Mr. Keyes' conservative credentials are definitely in order, so he'll be able to mobilize a good portion of Republican loyalists. He supports school choice and vouchers, which ought to resonate with black voters. His stance on the Second Amendment is pretty safe, too. He's also pro-life, which is a must for anyone who wants to seriously run as a Replublican candidate. I think this is one of the reasons why John Borling fared so poorly in the primaries. He did get the nod from outgoing Senator Peter Fitzgerald, so any animosity between Keyes, the GOP and the Senator is either well-hidden or ameliorated.

Personally, I'd still rather have a local guy like Jim Oberweis or Andy McKenna as the candidate, and here are my reasons. They're both from Illinois, each man has a vested interest in making the state successful as their businesses depend on it, and they were both in the primaries. Mr. Keyes was not someone who appeared on the primary election ballots.

I'll wait to hear Mr. Keyes' message before I pass complete judgment, but it doesn't look good for the pundit from Maryland. If his message truly impresses me, I may be able to hold my nose and vote for an outsider. If not, things are going to look bad for the Illinois GOP for a few more years.