General Chaos

Sorry, Wrong Number (a teleplay in one act)

Phone rings.

Me, answering :   “Sean Gallagher.”

Telemarkechick :   “Hello, may I speak to Sean Gallagher please?”

Me :   “Ahem.  Speaking.”

Telemarkechick :   “Mr. Gallagher, this is [name excised]
calling for CRN and VarBusiness.  Your free subscriptions to these
weekly magazines are about to expire, and I just wanted to quickly
confirm your details so we could renew…”

Me :   “I'd rather not renew. Please remove me from the subscription list.”

Telemarkechick :   “May I ask why?”

Me :   “Well, because I no longer even bother to look at
those magazines. Weeklies are irrelevant when I can get the same
content online without cluttering up my office with paper.”

Telemarkechick (rustling through script for appropriate response):   “I understand you're busy, Mr. Gallagher, but the publishers of these magazines only offer free subscriptions to a select….”

Me :   “I understand how controlled-circulation
publishing works.  I'm sure they can find someone else to lie
about their credentials to appease their advertisers' desire for a
qualified circ base.”

Telemarkechick (puzzled) :   “Is there someone else I can talk to there? Someone in IT?”

Me :   “Sorry, lady, I'm it.  Have a nice day.”

(Click of line disconnect.  Dialtone,)

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General Chaos

I Was a College Republican (because the Dems weren’t liberal enough for me)

A little-known fact about me: In 1986, I was voted the Most Liberal Republican in Wisconsin.

It mystifies many who know me now that I was a member of the College Republicans at all. But in 1982, when I started school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, it was clear to me that as a member of Navy ROTC (another detail of my life that mystifies many), I was not going to be welcome among the ranks of the Campus Democrats. I didn't pass their orthodoxy test.

Nor, for that matter, would I be welcomed by the media establishment of UW, the Daily Cardinal (also at that time known by the student body as “the Daily Red” or “Pravda”). And looking around, I didn't feel like I wanted to be, either (though I did run unsuccessfully for the Daily Cardinal's Board of Control, a politburo-like body that oversaw its editorial operations). No, I could see where the real insurgency on that campus, the birthplace of political correctness, was–and it was the College Republicans.

The CR's were running guerilla political warfare against a group of foes no less caustic and crass than Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly (“Shut up!” was seen as the only rhetoric suitable for use against dissent by the entrenched left at Madison). Something about the whole thing appealed to my inner libertarian (small l, not Capital L).

And, plus, they didn't spit on me when I was in uniform.

Today's neo-conservatives are cut from the same cloth as the establishment left was at Madison in the 1980's. So working as a political foot soldier for the party of Ronald Reagan was not, at the time at least, that repugnant to me. I didn't like Reagan, and I liked GHW Bush a whole lot better before he put his manhood in a blind trust and all that.

But I liked Walter Mondale even less, from his charisma vaccum to the floor-wax taste of his position papers. So I worked for a local Republican candidate for the state assembly, and then, in some small part, for Tommy Thompson's first gubernatorial campaign until I got commissioned in the Navy and left Wisconsin behind.

However, there were those among the CR's who were suspicious of my Republican credentials. I came from a family of Democrats. I was liberal on many social issues. I didn't toe the line on abortion. I wanted smaller government, but for all the wrong reasons from their standpoint.

And then came the '86 model legislature, and the referendum on divestiture from South Africa.

At the time, like in many state capitols and college towns around the country where pension funds had been invested in businesses with operations in aparthied-rule South Africa, Madison's capital dome was surrounded by a shanty town. Some (hell, most) of the CR's ridiculed the protestors as being silly leftists. I thought that some were a little too enthusiastic about the protest, but that it was just bad policy to invest state money in a way that ran contrary to the principles of civil rights.

So, for being against apartheid, I was given the “Gypsy Moth” award by the CR caucus (for “eating away at the party line”).

A few years later, as I was serving aboard the USS Iowa, trying to keep my 125 sailors paid, fed, and out of trouble (and generally demonstrating that I had a paladin complex bigger than the guns on that big grey barge as I fought to right the wrongs inflicted on those I had been charged with), I awoke to the reality of my political persuasion. A few years later, as I was covering the government for a tech paper owned by a British-Dutch conglomerate with no soul, that persuasion became a conviction.

It makes me ill to look at the neocons who run today's Republican party and think that I once shared a political affiliation (in name, at least) with them. I think Teddy Roosevelt would throw up if he saw what the Bush/Cheney regime and its neocon tools like John Ashcroft have done to his party and his country. And that's saying something–Teddy was something of a tool himself, despite his trust-busting bluster (he was, after all, Mr. Big Stick).

I have been a regisitered independent since I moved to Baltimore in 1990. I am considering registering as a Democrat now, if only to gain the right to vote in the primary that matters in this town. I will do that with my nose held.

The Democratic Party, as the current gaggle of candidates proves, is a cesspool of bad ideas propped up by being the “loyal opposition.” I know I said that I thought Clark was the best hope for the Democrats, but his campaign has thus far shone light only on his martinet nature. I cannot say that any of the candidates has yet convinced me that they deserve my vote on their own merits.

But I will never wear the label “Republican” again. The libertarian wing of the GOP is dead; Ashcroft stuck the knife in it and twisted it until it fell. There is no reconciling Bush's deeds with the libertarian desire for less government and more individual freedom and accountability. If you love the Bill of Rights, you can't love this president and his henchmen.

So, I'm going to vote for whoever runs against Bush, and hope that we can, as Noam Chomsky put it, “widen the cage floor.” The best we can hope for is a day when government is as irrelavent as it seemed in the mid 1990's when the Clinton impeachment rendered all of government impotent. Certainly, no one being offered up for our highest office could do better than that intentionally.

Now, if McCain would run…that would be interesting. Not necessarily good. But at least interesting.

Standard
General Chaos

I Was a College Republican (because the Dems weren't liberal enough for me)

A little-known fact about me: In 1986, I was voted the Most Liberal Republican in Wisconsin.

It mystifies many who know me now that I was a member of the College Republicans at all. But in 1982, when I started school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, it was clear to me that as a member of Navy ROTC (another detail of my life that mystifies many), I was not going to be welcome among the ranks of the Campus Democrats. I didn't pass their orthodoxy test.

Nor, for that matter, would I be welcomed by the media establishment of UW, the Daily Cardinal (also at that time known by the student body as “the Daily Red” or “Pravda”). And looking around, I didn't feel like I wanted to be, either (though I did run unsuccessfully for the Daily Cardinal's Board of Control, a politburo-like body that oversaw its editorial operations). No, I could see where the real insurgency on that campus, the birthplace of political correctness, was–and it was the College Republicans.

The CR's were running guerilla political warfare against a group of foes no less caustic and crass than Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly (“Shut up!” was seen as the only rhetoric suitable for use against dissent by the entrenched left at Madison). Something about the whole thing appealed to my inner libertarian (small l, not Capital L).

And, plus, they didn't spit on me when I was in uniform.

Today's neo-conservatives are cut from the same cloth as the establishment left was at Madison in the 1980's. So working as a political foot soldier for the party of Ronald Reagan was not, at the time at least, that repugnant to me. I didn't like Reagan, and I liked GHW Bush a whole lot better before he put his manhood in a blind trust and all that.

But I liked Walter Mondale even less, from his charisma vaccum to the floor-wax taste of his position papers. So I worked for a local Republican candidate for the state assembly, and then, in some small part, for Tommy Thompson's first gubernatorial campaign until I got commissioned in the Navy and left Wisconsin behind.

However, there were those among the CR's who were suspicious of my Republican credentials. I came from a family of Democrats. I was liberal on many social issues. I didn't toe the line on abortion. I wanted smaller government, but for all the wrong reasons from their standpoint.

And then came the '86 model legislature, and the referendum on divestiture from South Africa.

At the time, like in many state capitols and college towns around the country where pension funds had been invested in businesses with operations in aparthied-rule South Africa, Madison's capital dome was surrounded by a shanty town. Some (hell, most) of the CR's ridiculed the protestors as being silly leftists. I thought that some were a little too enthusiastic about the protest, but that it was just bad policy to invest state money in a way that ran contrary to the principles of civil rights.

So, for being against apartheid, I was given the “Gypsy Moth” award by the CR caucus (for “eating away at the party line”).

A few years later, as I was serving aboard the USS Iowa, trying to keep my 125 sailors paid, fed, and out of trouble (and generally demonstrating that I had a paladin complex bigger than the guns on that big grey barge as I fought to right the wrongs inflicted on those I had been charged with), I awoke to the reality of my political persuasion. A few years later, as I was covering the government for a tech paper owned by a British-Dutch conglomerate with no soul, that persuasion became a conviction.

It makes me ill to look at the neocons who run today's Republican party and think that I once shared a political affiliation (in name, at least) with them. I think Teddy Roosevelt would throw up if he saw what the Bush/Cheney regime and its neocon tools like John Ashcroft have done to his party and his country. And that's saying something–Teddy was something of a tool himself, despite his trust-busting bluster (he was, after all, Mr. Big Stick).

I have been a regisitered independent since I moved to Baltimore in 1990. I am considering registering as a Democrat now, if only to gain the right to vote in the primary that matters in this town. I will do that with my nose held.

The Democratic Party, as the current gaggle of candidates proves, is a cesspool of bad ideas propped up by being the “loyal opposition.” I know I said that I thought Clark was the best hope for the Democrats, but his campaign has thus far shone light only on his martinet nature. I cannot say that any of the candidates has yet convinced me that they deserve my vote on their own merits.

But I will never wear the label “Republican” again. The libertarian wing of the GOP is dead; Ashcroft stuck the knife in it and twisted it until it fell. There is no reconciling Bush's deeds with the libertarian desire for less government and more individual freedom and accountability. If you love the Bill of Rights, you can't love this president and his henchmen.

So, I'm going to vote for whoever runs against Bush, and hope that we can, as Noam Chomsky put it, “widen the cage floor.” The best we can hope for is a day when government is as irrelavent as it seemed in the mid 1990's when the Clinton impeachment rendered all of government impotent. Certainly, no one being offered up for our highest office could do better than that intentionally.

Now, if McCain would run…that would be interesting. Not necessarily good. But at least interesting.

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General Chaos

NPR Blues

I dropped off my kids at school this morning, turned on the radio, and our local branch of the NPR talk empire came on.

Listening to NPR is akin to watching a car wreck–you know you could turn away, but you just can't bring yourself to.

By the time I got home, all of the little morning enthusiasm I could muster had been sapped from me. The analysis of the shifting Bush administration media gameplan to shore up their favorability numbers, the news from Iraq, the review of the vote a year ago to give Bush the green light to do whatever he saw fit in Iraq…my bile was coming up. After a really happy weekend, in ten minutes worth of drivetime my whole mood had been inverted.

A driveby visit from my parents this morning (they were returning items left behind by my sons from their weekend camping trip with them to Gettysburg) only served to exacerbate things; they were on their way north again, and we had seen each other for only a few hours over the weekend. My funk runneth over.

Not to mention, I have deadlines today stacked around me like cordwood.

Fsking NPR, dropping their filtered reality and punditry on me so frigging early on a Monday. Fsking radio, being tuned to the low end of the FM spectrum. Fsking Monday. Fsking world.

Maybe I need more coffee.

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