Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Decline of the American Comedy Club

Accordingly, this is written in the most politically correct fashion I can muster.

I think everybody reading will be familiar with the Michael "Kramer" Richards story, where Richards responded to a heckler by repeatedly using a racial slur. The follow-up is that the comedy club where this occurred forbade all future acts from using the word in their club.

Daman Wayans promptly violated the ban. He was fined and banned from the Club. Story. I imagine Dave Chappelle won't be welcome there anymore. In fact, so many black stand-up comedians use the word and stand to be banned, that it might begin to look like a conspiracy to keep the black comic down. But I digress.

Hey- the club belongs to the owners. They are free to set their own policy... except with regard to smoking, and perhaps soon, trans-fats.

This turn of events is sad, though. Comedy clubs used to be the bastians of uncomfortable free speech and the home of the uncomfortable word. Lenny Bruce was arrested for using words in some cities. George Carlin expanded upon the boundaries Bruce opened with his "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television" routine. Now clubs ban the use of an uncomfortable word, even if uttered by a man who is of the group the slur targets.

Well, good for Wayans! He ought to use the word and give a little history lesson for good measure. The owners of that LA club sure could use it. I'll grant that the pop culture use of this particular epithet is disturbingly overused, and in my opinion, disturbingly embraced by some in the group the slur targets. However, if someone tells me that a word that might describe me has been banned, I'll take a moment from my busy schedule to endulge in a gratituitous overuse for a few minutes, just to show my opposition to any attempts to evade the real issues that bely the word by wishing it to be gone from existence.

Here's a link to an interesting discourse between aspiring comics and comedy fans, taking on the issue of free speech vs. censorship. Beware salty language!
US Foreign Policy, Iraq, and Intervention

First things first: I was against the war in Iraq from the beginning. Agreed that Saddam Hussein was a horrible dictator and a violent threat to the numerous minorities he oppressed, but not agreed that he was any real threat to the USA. I take counsel from the Founding Fathers who warned against foreign entanglements and adventurism.

So, the Democrats have been working for a few years slowly, and now rapidly, towards a withdrawal from Iraq. It appears that President Bush is likely to go along with it. And yet, it really gives me little comfort.

I do not for a minute believe that the withdrawal is coming pursuant to a non-interventionist perspective. I would be delighted if I thought that was their course. But the Democrats I know have often ridiculed me as an isolationist over the years, and I’ve not really heard a one enunciate homage to the Founders. It’s hard to see it as anything but purely political, as a means to attacking a weak President.

Indeed, when Democrats were last in control of US foreign policy, we found ourselves in Bosnia and Somalia, where there was no real threat to the USA- just like Iraq.

It’s hard to know what to make of US foreign policy right now, and its direction. With a Republican dominated government, I knew what to expect, and to expect not to like it. Now I have no idea what to expect, but I still expect not to like it.

I used to have a handle on Democratic foreign policy. Democrats presided over the prosecution of World War 2, and the subsequent rebuilding/occupation of Japan and Germany. So stay-the-course was that effort that we still have troops in those countries. Again, I didn't agree with the invasion of Iraq, but once it happened, we eliminated the Iraqi leader and government. We destabilized the country and the region. So, we should leave? Once we made our mess, I came to believe it became our responsibility to fix our mess.

Those committed to an international, interventionist role had always cited "nation building" as their goal. What happened to that here with Iraq? Is the opportunity to attack a weak President so irresistable that nation building in conditions that warrant it due to our invasion efforts just go out the window?

These are interesting times, in the Confucion sense. If this whole episode doesn't reveal the value of a Libertarian foreign policy, I don't know what does.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Post-Election Notes, Part 3

If you want to lose 30 pounds, run for statewide office like you mean it. This is not for everyone, and I certainly don't recommend it strictly as a weight-loss program. But hey- it works! If you have an interest in smaller government, wider freedoms, and a smaller waistline, the CFA-1 form awaits you!

On January 1, 2006, I tipped the scales at 198 pounds. I was concerned that all the chicken and bean dinners, the nights of beers with supporters, and too much eating on the fly would push me over the 200-pound mark.


If you really work every room you're in like you should, you won't get to eat. I don't know how many times I worked the room and then found the spread packed away, with maybe a bun or a dinner roll left out. I rarely ate at functions that were dinners for me. I made it a point to start eating at these functions when none of my suits fit anymore, in October when I got down to 166.
I marvel at how some candidates gain weight on the trail. These are people who are not working the room.

For me though, throw in a year of ill health on top of not eating too much, and you've got a 30-pound weight loss guarantee. I hid the fact of my generally poor health as best I could during 2006.

I have Lyme Disease. It comes and goes, but generally, when it strikes me, it's because I have been dehydrated, sleep deprived, or a little of both. Running a statewide campaign like you mean it assures being sleep deprived. Drinking as much Diet Coke as I did assures dehydration. So, I had a fever of about 101 for the entire month of February, and for half of April and half of May. There were several events where it was a function of willpower just to get up and do my speaches. I lost 10 pounds during each month-long bout. I had a couple of minor flare-ups, but with naps and a lot of water, I kept it at bay.

Then there was the kidney stone. I was lucky in the sense that I decided to tough it out after a trip to Lake County and drive home late at night rather than crash at a supporter's home or at a motel. Lucky because after getting into bed at about 1am, I started feeling a mounting pressure in my abdomen that became a curious pain. My greatest fear in the world is being opened up surgically, so I began worrying about a burst appendix. Knowing that can kill you, I figured I'd better get it out in the open. I described my pain to Ame (an RN, in addition to CNM) and she gave me the "good news" that I wouldn't have to worry about being opened up, just having to pass the stone.

The emergency room story is hilarious like a Monty Python skit. After a night of writhing on the floor, we went to the ER. The staff had a million questions about my pain tolerance, because apparently junkies try to use the ER as means to score narcotics. The doctor asked about any broken bones in my past. I have a lot of those. I listed fingers, toes, and thumbs. He shook his head. I remembered broken ribs. A little more impressed. Ah! I broke my sternum. Twice. Now he was impressed. "Was it hard to breath?" Almost impossible. "Great!" Really? That's great? "How did you rate that pain on a scale of 1-10 at the time?" An easy 10. "Compare that with this." The broken breast bone was a 4, and this was a 10. "OK! You get morphine!" But I had to fill out all sorts of forms. I felt like the patient who was stabbed by the nurse in the Python skit, who upon filling out the form halfway was lectured by the Doc, "Surely you knew when the Magna Carta was signed. Even I knew that"!

I was concerned about having to take morphine. I mean, it was a great pain eraser. It really took the pain away, and I felt no high or even nausea. But, as Libertarian candidates always take scrutiny over anti-criminalization issues, I lost my ability to produce a clean sample. I always had it in my pocket that if anyone challenged me on the issue of drugs, this drug-free candidate would challenge them to a pee test. This episode was good for another 10 pounds.

Now that we are about a month out of the campaign, I've gone back from an Election Night low of 166 back to 183. I've been eating absolutely everything and loving it, but it's time to put on the brakes. 180 is perfect for me until I hit the weights once I get clearance on my hand.

Kole's soon-to-be-patented weight loss plan is all yours. Step right up and sign the CFA-1 and you too can fit into clothes you haven't worn for five years or more!