2004: Things To Forget

IJ Reilly

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By Arianna Huffington

While so many year-end publications focus on what we should remember about the year now grinding to a close, I'd like to continue this column's contrarian tradition of pointing out the things we'd all be better off never having cross our minds again.

Here then is a list of all the things I'd like to forget, circa 2004:

Bernard Kerik's nanny. Bernard Kerik's Ground Zero love nest. Bernard Kerik.

That the woman who dismissed a presidential briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." as a "historical" document is going to be our next secretary of state.

That a man who finds the Geneva Conventions "quaint" is going to be our next attorney general.

Janet Jackson's briefly exposed right boob.

That it took 14 months and public protests from the victims' families before the president OK'd the 9/11 Commission, but only two weeks before the first hearings were held on Janet Jackson's boob.

That the media thought "Don't be economic girlie men" was a great line.

Scott Peterson's love of golf. And that his lawyers thought it was a reason he shouldn't be sentenced to death.

Paris Hilton's new perfume. Paris Hilton's new album. Paris Hilton's new book. Paris Hilton.

"Surviving Christmas," "Jersey Girl," J-Lo: Ben Affleck goes 0-for-2004.

Madrid, Spain, March 11, 2004.

Beslan, Russia, Sept. 3, 2004.

That the Federal budget deficit hit $413 billion this year, and two-thirds of it is the result of Bush's tax cuts.

That Dick Cheney is talking about another round of tax cuts.

What Colin Powell did to his credibility. "You break it, you live with it for the rest of your life."

"I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

That picture of Lynndie England holding the leash.

The way the administration tried to sweep Abu Ghraib under the rug.

William Hung, recording artist.

Ashlee Simpson, lip synch artist.

Bob Dylan, lingerie salesman.

That George Tenet, who knew that the intel on Iraqi WMD was thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle on Dexatrim, turned into the Dick Vitale of WMD: "It's a slam dunk, baby!"

That George Tenet was subsequently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

That a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich allegedly bearing the likeness of the Virgin Mary sold for $28,000 on eBay.

The 10,000 Web remixes incorporating The Dean Scream.

That of the roughly 550 enemy combatants held captive in Guantanamo Bay, only four have been formally charged.

The Pistons/Pacers basketbrawl.

The looks on George and Laura Bush's faces when Dr. Phil asked them about the "epidemic levels of oral sex" in America's middle schools.

That Osama is still on the loose — and releasing tapes.

That the Kyoto Protocol was ratified — and we aren't part of it.

That Ken Lay has still not gone to trial or served a minute in jail.

That 35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line — 12.9 million of them children.

That 42 percent of Americans still think Saddam Hussein was "directly involved in planning, financing or carrying out" the 9/11 attacks.

That, thanks to presidential cutbacks, we actually have fewer police and first responders on the streets today than we had on 9/11.

Star Jones' wedding.

The Movie Multiplex from Hell: "Alexander," "My Baby's Daddy," "Thunderbirds," "Sleepover," "Around the World in 80 Days."

The iPod Party Mix from Hell: Jessica Simpson's "Take My Breath Away," William Hung's "She Bangs," Britney Spears' "Toxic," Britney Spears' "My Prerogative," Britney Spears' "I've Just Begun Having My Fun."

That Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld couldn't find time to personally sign letters of condolence to the families of troops killed in Iraq.

That Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz couldn't remember the number of soldiers who'd lost their lives in Iraq.

Drilling for oil in ANWR (I've been desperately trying to forget this one since 2001, but the White House just won't let me!).
 

Thomas Veil

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She's forgetting the big one: that a coven of Christian fundamentalists -- every bit as dangerous to America in their own way as Islamic fundamentalists -- put an amoral right-wing fanatic back into the White House.
 

mms

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That 35.9 million Americans live below the poverty line — 12.9 million of them children.
I find the inclusion of this very disturbing. I'm sure the author didn't mean harm by it but poverty isn't something that ends now that the year is over; it is a continuing problem that we have to deal with and definitely one than cannot be forgotten. Applicable to several others, but this one hit hard.

On a lighter note, you can't forget to include the news coverage of Martha Stewart enjoying herself in jail off taxpayer money.
 

Daveman Deluxe

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Thomas Veil said:
She's forgetting the big one: that a coven of Christian fundamentalists -- every bit as dangerous to America in their own way as Islamic fundamentalists -- put an amoral right-wing fanatic back into the White House.
I would argue that the fundamentalists who put Bush in the White House aren't truly Christian fundamentalists. I don't know what to call them, but they seem to be rather selective about which texts in the Bible to be fundamental about. "Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" (Matthew 10.16b) comes to mind as an omitted verse.

So does "It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your job to judge those inside the church who are sinning these ways." (I Corinthians 5.12) This particular verse has completely reversed my attitude regarding the passage of measure 36 in Oregon (Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman). Had I studied that verse before I mailed in my ballot, I would have voted differently (the date on my journal is 11-9-2004). It's not the church's job to influence public policy, provided public policy does not contradict the notion of freedom for all (many churches were outspoken proponents of the abolition of slavery in the U.S., for example). It IS the responsibility of the church's members to influence public policy through votes and other forms of activism, based on their own consciences and what they know to be right, vís a vís the first verse I quoted.

That turned out much longer than I intended. I certainly do not want to forget the things in Huffington's list. I find the general lack of honesty, and the uphill battle it takes to find information, absolutely appalling. Of course, things have become this way partly because of the apathy of the voting public of the United States. Barring some turnaround in the attitudes of the citizens of the U.S., I will be surprised to see the nation survive the end of this century.
 

zimv20

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Daveman Deluxe said:
Barring some turnaround in the attitudes of the citizens of the U.S., I will be surprised to see the nation survive the end of this century.
bold statement. i agree with it.

though i'm looking at about 20 years from now.
 

Daveman Deluxe

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zimv20: Glad to hear that we have some common ground after all.

I tend to look less at policy issues because the true costs and effects of policies are SO hazy. It's just too hard to get to the heart of the matter. I don't even trust the BBC's news reporting anymore. I can't STAND people such as Bill O'Reilly and Arianna Huffington. Intelligent people to be sure, but people that just can't see past the party lines, and it's exactly that kind of in-the-box thinking that has caused a lot of our problems thus far.

I wanted to vomit every time that I heard "I'm voting for Kerry because he's not Bush." I think the attitude should have been, "I feel like cracking open some skulls because the best we could come up with were Kerry and Bush." That fact alone SHOULD get us all ABSOLUTELY F*CKING HOPPING MAD but it doesn't. When I look back at the past century, I can only think of three presidents whom I think were truly qualified for the position: Carter and the two Roosevelts. Even then, I have to say F.D.R. was marginal except for his exceptional willingness to try something new, and I wasn't too fond of Teddy Roosevelt's international policy.

The things I look at that worry me are the things such as the cavalier attitude we have about the environment, the general emphasis on consumption, the general lack of selflessness. I see these things go straight from the average Joe citizen straight to the top, and the problem is that these same attitudes that people find so reprehensible are completely unnoticed by many in our policy makers.

Every day I see or hear something new to illustrate these things, and I wonder, "What's it going to take for people to realize that we live in a world of **** and something's got to change or we're in for a world of hurt?" I do what I can to show those I am in contact with that, "hey, this isn't good, guys!" But it's going to take a nation of people that realize, "Hey, this isn't good, guys!" to change things.

I don't hold out much hope for it to happen. I'm at peace because my hope lies in Christ and not in politics (YMMV, based on your faith or lack thereof), but I still do what I can.
 

Xtremehkr

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I like what Arianna says, I just don't like how she presents it when it is not in writing. This is the wife of a prominent republican turned Democrat after making enormous money from the divorce. Turns out he was gay, interesting story.

Despite the value of what she says she strikes me as being a sham. Quite a few people are cashing in on the current level of partisinship in the country.

Even in writing it bothers me sometimes. There is something about her that strikes me as being completely self serving.
 

pseudobrit

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Daveman Deluxe said:
I wanted to vomit every time that I heard "I'm voting for Kerry because he's not Bush."
And yet Bush maintains he's got a mandate after half the country said "you suck so bad I'd pick anyone but you."

The things I look at that worry me are the things such as the cavalier attitude we have about the environment, the general emphasis on consumption, the general lack of selflessness. I see these things go straight from the average Joe citizen straight to the top, and the problem is that these same attitudes that people find so reprehensible are completely unnoticed by many in our policy makers.
Worse, greed is encouraged. Money is God. Pursuit of wealth is sport.

I don't hold out much hope for it to happen. I'm at peace because my hope lies in Christ and not in politics (YMMV, based on your faith or lack thereof), but I still do what I can.
I don't hold any hope for this nation. We have become the Status Quo Nation. We are living metaphors for Newton's First Law of Motion.

Americans will sit motionless, paralysed while they watch their country rot.
I'll also do what I can; I'll be in Canada enjoying the hockey.
 

Lyle

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Xtremehkr said:
I like what Arianna says, I just don't like how she presents it when it is not in writing. This is the wife of a prominent republican turned Democrat after making enormous money from the divorce. Turns out he was gay, interesting story.

Despite the value of what she says she strikes me as being a sham. Quite a few people are cashing in on the current level of partisinship in the country.

Even in writing it bothers me sometimes. There is something about her that strikes me as being completely self serving.
Yes. When I saw the lead on the story, my thought was "Arianna Huffington's fifteen minutes of fame."
 

Thanatoast

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Daveman Deluxe said:
Of course, things have become this way partly because of the apathy of the voting public of the United States. Barring some turnaround in the attitudes of the citizens of the U.S., I will be surprised to see the nation survive the end of this century.
I disagree with the first sentence of this quote. The voting public was not apathetic in this last election. The problem lies in the fact that fifty-one percent of the country believes the current leadership is correct in it's views on the environment, war, international law, civil liberties, equal rights, and mingling church and state.
 

IJ Reilly

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Xtremehkr said:
I like what Arianna says, I just don't like how she presents it when it is not in writing. This is the wife of a prominent republican turned Democrat after making enormous money from the divorce. Turns out he was gay, interesting story.

Despite the value of what she says she strikes me as being a sham. Quite a few people are cashing in on the current level of partisinship in the country.

Even in writing it bothers me sometimes. There is something about her that strikes me as being completely self serving.
An interesting story, yes -- but this isn't the story. She brought the money to the marriage, much of which was spent to get her no-account husband (who BTW says he's bisexual) elected to one term in Congress but couldn't buy him a US Senate seat for any price. And yes, she was a Gingrich Republican at that time, but now she's an independent. If you read her columns during the election (I posted a few of them here), she was frequently very critical of the Kerry campaign.

So I don't see Arianna Huffington as being any more self-serving than any other pundit who makes a living by writing columns and books. But I do find her more interesting and substantive than most, and I also feel that if we have any hope of organizing an effective third party in this country, it will be a movement led by the likes of Arianna Huffintgon. I'm going to watch her very closely.
 

Daveman Deluxe

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Thanatoast said:
I disagree with the first sentence of this quote. The voting public was not apathetic in this last election. The problem lies in the fact that fifty-one percent of the country believes the current leadership is correct in it's views on the environment, war, international law, civil liberties, equal rights, and mingling church and state.
The turnout for this election was still only around 60%. Furthermore, that's 60% of all registered voters--roughly half of all those eligible to vote are actually registered. So about 30% of the US voting public voted in this last general election.

That seems pretty apathetic to me.
 

Thomas Veil

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Daveman Deluxe said:
I would argue that the fundamentalists who put Bush in the White House aren't truly Christian fundamentalists. I don't know what to call them, but they seem to be rather selective about which texts in the Bible to be fundamental about.
I freely admit that that's a generalization on my part, and I apologize if my phraseology offended anybody of a more moderate stance.

I'm not sure "the religious right" is an accurate description either. Perhaps we need a new term for these extreme-right "moral values" folks.
 

Thanatoast

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Daveman Deluxe said:
That seems pretty apathetic to me.
And yet the fundy red staters managed to be that much more motivated than the pinko blue staters.With a sample so large, it's safe to assume the rest of the country would fall the same way. So even if everyone voted, it probably would have come out the same way. The issue remains, imo, not voter apathy but voter choice. What quality is it that makes people follow our president? I won't go on the usual Bush diatribe, we all know it.
 

Daveman Deluxe

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apathy: 1. Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference (from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

If seventy percent of those eligible to vote can't be bothered to, I think that qualifies as "voter apathy". Although, now that I think about it, it doesn't add up that 100 million people can vote and have that be 30% of the population. I must be remembering what my AP Government teacher said incorrectly. So if it's forty percent who didn't vote, that still seems pretty poor in my opinion. You made the point earlier, though, that statistically speaking, a sample that large all but assures us that the result would have been the same had everybody voted. That's equally scary, IMO.

Thomas Veil said:
I freely admit that that's a generalization on my part, and I apologize if my phraseology offended anybody of a more moderate stance.

I'm not sure "the religious right" is an accurate description either. Perhaps we need a new term for these extreme-right "moral values" folks.
No offense was taken. I merely wished to point out that there are those of us who are Christian AND moderate/liberal. Myself included.
 

zimv20

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Daveman Deluxe said:
If seventy percent of those eligible to vote can't be bothered to, I think that qualifies as "voter apathy".
i agree.

if we regularly had 80% voter turnout, i'd be a lot more willing to accept what voters actually (seem to) want.
 

mactastic

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While I'm not entirely sure that it makes a huge difference, I'd hesitate to extrapolate from the people that do vote that the rest of the country feels the same. Think about the people that do vote regularly. The numbers of seniors that vote is much higher percentage-wise than college students. Same for regular church goers as opposed to non-attendees. The rich vote higher percentage-wise than the poor. Poorer precincts tend to have longer lines to vote, and higher rates of ballot disqualification. And so on. Polls have the same problem, which I guess makes sense since voting is just one hell of a poll.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure that that particular extropolation is necessarily valid. Unfortunately I don't know of any other way to get the answers than to ask. You can't force people to vote.

I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm no statistitian. I'm just suspicious.
 

zimv20

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mactastic said:
What I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure that that particular extropolation is necessarily valid.
i agree. i think w/ 80% turnout, we'd have a vastly different political landscape. what i'm saying is, if the landscape were the same w/ that big a turnout (and i could be reasonably sure it was a fair election), then i'd be a lot more willing to accept where the people of this country stand.

and then i'd find somewhere else to live.
 

solvs

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IJ Reilly said:
And yes, she was a Gingrich Republican at that time, but now she's an independent. If you read her columns during the election (I posted a few of them here), she was frequently very critical of the Kerry campaign.
It's part of the you're with us or you're against us attitude. If you criticize the administration's mistakes, even if you have issues with the opposition, you must be a Liberal. And unAmerican, and unpatriotic, and against the troops...

Rhetoric at it's finest.

I would put her more in the same category as Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. Maybe a little Liberal leaning socially, but will point out BS on both sides if it's there. I'd say, even going out of their way to be more centrist. But it doesn't matter, to some they are still too far to the left. Which basically means not far enough to the right. To Liberals, I'm sure she is considered Conservative. You just can't win.
 

IJ Reilly

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I think some liberals are suspicious of Huffington, especially here in California where we remember quite well her bankrolling her then-husband's failed senate campaign. She wasn't exactly a shrinking-violet Republican back then. How and when was she transformed into a progressive? I'm not certain, but all of sudden (or so it seemed to me) she started appearing on radio and in print promoting some very interesting ideas.
 

IJ Reilly

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2004: THINGS TO FORGET (PART TWO)

By Arianna Huffington

In my last column, I offered a list of all the things I wanted to forget from 2004. Unfortunately, it turns out there was just too much gunk clogging up my internal hard drive to get rid of it all with a single cleansing. So, as we cross the threshold of the New Year, here is another attempt to delete all of last year's political and cultural spam.

I'd be a happy woman if I could forever put out of my mind:

Bill O'Reilly's loofah. His falafel too.

That President Clinton didn't listen to Richard Clarke.

That President Bush didn't listen to Richard Clarke.

How 2002's "thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, and VX nerve gas" morphed into 2004's "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

All the precious media oxygen consumed by coverage of the Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, Scott Peterson, and Robert Blake scandals.

That Bill Safire wasn't kidding when he called Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction "the social, political event of the past year."

That at a time when America has over 35 million people living in poverty, the issue Christians are most up in arms about is gay people trying to make their lifetime commitment legal. Heaven forbid.

Jack Ryan, sex club aficionado.

Martha Stewart, federal inmate No. 55170-054.

That President Bush refused to appear in front of the 9/11 Commission without Dick Cheney by his side.

The Pentagon report predicting that, in the next 20 years, global warming could push the human race to the brink of annihilation. And that Michael Crichton thinks this is all just an enviro-scam.

Cuddle parties.

Trucker hats.

That we still don't know who outed Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. And that the only ones facing jail time in this sleazy affair are reporters.

That Bush has underfunded his cherished No Child Left Behind Act to the tune of some $9 billion for the coming year.

That the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire, making it a whole lot easier for bloodthirsty lunatics everywhere to carry out their murderous missions.

Zell Miller vs. Chris Matthews.

Dick Cheney vs. Pat Leahy.

Mother Nature vs. the people of Florida.

That George Bush, a man who has flip-flopped more frequently than a blind gymnast with an inner ear infection, was able to portray John Kerry as a flip-flopper.

The Bush twins' "comedy" monologue at the GOP convention.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Darfur, Sudan.

Brigitte Nielsen and Flava Flav hooking up on "The Surreal Life."

Low-carb sodas.

That half of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq might still be alive if our troops had been given properly armored vehicles.

That wounded Iraq war vets at Walter Reed Hospital are being forced to ask for donations because the government refuses to foot the bill for their long-distance phone calls.

That the motion picture ratings board felt it needed to protect audiences from puppets having sex in "Team America."

Rathergate.

That A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistani nukes, admitted he had sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya. And that he was then swiftly pardoned for his crimes.

That drug giant Merck spent hundred of millions of dollars convincing Americans to take Vioxx, even thought the company's own studies showed that it greatly increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And that as many as 55,000 patients may have died as a result.

Ahmed Chalabi, the "George Washington of Iraq." Or is it Iran?

That Chalabi was given $30 million in taxpayer money for his "intelligence."

Michael Powell, deregulator-in-chief.

That opium production in Afghanistan is up 64 percent from last year.

That videos of beheadings are hot sellers in the Middle East.

That Disney, which owns radio stations that provide a daily platform to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, refused to distribute "Fahrenheit 9/11" because, according to CEO Michael Eisner, the company "didn't want to be in the middle of a politically oriented film during an election year."

The image of Sandy Berger "inadvertently" shoving classified notes and documents into his pants.

That thing on President Bush's back during the first debate.

"Need some wood?"

That DoD's Don Rumsfeld still has his job while NPR's Bob Edwards doesn't.