Thursday, July 28, 2005

Toilet Training for Adults

There is a commercial on television for some brand of toilet tissue that has one of the actors mention the female bug-a-boo about males leaving the toilet seat up. I remember both Ann Landers and Dear Abby often gave attention to that complaint in more militant feminist years of the recent past.

One of the advice twins wrote once that any man who was a gentleman would position the seat, "as it should be," in the lowered position for the convenience of his female partner.

I was tempted to write and suggest that, conversely, then, any woman who was a lady would raise the seat when finished to provide for the convenience of her male partner. Equality of toilet training seemed one sided. But the issue has diminished in frequency of complaint, until the new commercial.

My experience tells me that nearly all toilets in private homes have both a seat and a lid. Female complaints are never that the seat and lid are both left open. They complain only that the seat is left up. Women say that leaves the sewer open, makes a visual statement that chauvinist men can stand to pee, makes it necessary for the women to put the seat down before sitting, and/or startles those who don’t check it first when they sit on cold porcelain.

Almost all women whose home bathrooms I have observed leave the seat down but the lid up when they finish. That is, like the men who leave both the seat and lid up, women also leave the toilet positioned as it was when they finished using the facility, also with the sewer open. The sexes seem equal in that. Go check it out.

Perhaps a civilized solution to the "problem" could be found if both sexes were toilet trained to close the "sewer" by lowering both the seat and the lid. Or what is the lid "for"?

Not only would that allow those colorful terry cloth toilet lid covers to show, but it would also prevent family dogs from drinking out of the toilet and then dripping water off their floppy ears all around the house.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rove, Rove, Rove your boat, gently up the creek...

We still do not know the truth about the "outing" of CIA operative Valerie Plame. President Bush said some time ago that anyone in his administration who had "leaked" her name would be fired. Or words to that effect.

Now there is mounting evidence that his chief of staff, Karl Rove, was involved. It may have been "payback" for Plame's husband telling the truth about Saddam not buying enriched uranium from Africa, as Bush had contended in his State of the Union Address as another step in the run-up to war. We do not know yet, but we know that Bush has changed his story. He now says anyone "convicted of a crime" involving the "leak" will no longer work in his administration.

I am not sure what to call that. But if it had been Senator Kerry who changed his story like that, the entire Bush League would be chanting "flip-flop" to every reporter inside the beltway.

There has, therefore, been much speculation about whether or not Bush will fire Rove, or anybody. Karl may get past the turmoil, depending on the meanings of "leak," "name," and "crime," I suppose. But there is also cynical speculation that Bush will not fire Rove because the President doesn't have the authority to do that.

All right, so that may be an exaggeration. Or not. Still, you have to remember that Charlie McCarthy couldn't fire Edgar Bergen, either.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

A Question For the Next Press Conference

There is an impertinent question I would ask if I were a reporter at one of President Bush’s rare press conferences. It would simply be an attempt to get him to consider another point of view. Here it is for use by Britt Hume, or any other White House Press Corps reporter.

"Mr. President, we know of your commitment to fighting terrorists and to spreading democracy in the Middle East. We also know how proud you are of our troops and the sacrifices they are making to help accomplish your mission in Iraq. We are also aware that military recruitment numbers have been going down in recent months.

"Given your commitments and those figures, Sir, have you thought of the positive effects on both the general support for the war and military recruitment if you were to convince either one or both of your daughters to join the army and request duty in Iraq?"

I am sure many others have thought of the same question in different words. I am also sure it will not be asked in any way. But maybe it should be.

We as a nation seem more willing to accept military sacrifices and deaths when it is other people’s kids who are fighting. Would our government be so willing to start a war if the Constitution mandated, "The first to become warriors in any war that is initiated by the United States will be the sons, daughters, and grandchildren between the ages of eighteen and forty-five of all elected and appointed Federal officials"?

What I am saying is simple: would we have invaded Iraq if the Bush twins and Cheney’s daughters and all the sons and daughters of all the members of the Cabinet and our elected congress had been required to go?

If the answer is, "No, the United States would not then have started the Iraqi war," perhaps we need to ask just how committed our leaders really are and how necessary starting the war really was.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The language we speak instead of English...

I was born in Iowa and lived there for years. A five-year-old daughter of a new acquaintance from Canada once listened intently to the conversation going on around her. She shyly approached my chair and said softly, "Would you please say something in ‘Iowish’?"

Her parents, my wife, and I laughed, and someone told Jennifer that "Iowans speak English, just like Canadians." That made us laugh again, and we said, "Well, not just like Canadians, eh?"

It is true. Nor do Iowans necessarily sound like New Yorkers, Texans, or Minnesotans. In fact, there are some words that sound different in Western Iowa from their Eastern Iowa sounds.

Yet the variety of spoken sounds for the same words in this country have many similarities, and they are all identifiably different from the sounds of British speech. Americans may write English, for the most part. But we all speak American, which we are more apt to pronounce according to our own region: "’Murkin," Amer’kin," "A-mare-kin," or, my preference, "Mare Kin."

Many pronunciations are only regional. Others are typical across the country. As we celebrate the variations of recipes, fashions, customs, ethnicity, beliefs, architecture, and so many other aspects of American life, we may also celebrate the variations in regional speech. They simply add zest to the Mare Kin language. The following brief list is meant to entertain, not to ridicule. Readers, I am sure, will be able to add their own examples.

PARTIAL DICTIONARY OF MARE KIN:

AIR: "error," as in trial and AIR.

AIR: "are" in the South. "AIR ya comin’?"

ARE: "our" in the North. "C’mon ta ARE house."

ARE: sixty minutes in the South. Also what some Southerners breathe.

AWNT: your mother’s sister in Boston.

AUNT (say "ont") your mother’s other sister in Minneapolis.

ANT: your dad’s sister in Des Moines.

AINT: your deddy’s other sister in Mayberry.

DAM: what beavers build in the North.

DAYUM: what beavers build in the South.

DADDY: a child’s father in Illinois, Ohio, among other places.

DEDDY: a dad in Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, for example.

Die-Dee: your pappy in East Tennessee.

DIE-DEE: a diaper among older Iowans who remember cloth diapers.

DOCK: what Northerners tie boats to.

DOCK: when the lights go out in "Hot-fud," Connecticut, and in parts of the South.

FIR: perhaps the best example of universal Mare Kin. Within a sentence, it means "for" in nearly every American locale. Fir example: "Whud ja pay FIR that?" or, "Wait FIR me." (At the end of sentences, it is usually pronounced as "fore." "Whud ja do that for?")

FUST: a Southern first.

GULL: "girl" in Southern USA.

HAHD: "difficul’t" or "not soft" in the East and down East. "It’s nevah HAHD fir Ted to be re-elected in Massachusetts."

HARD: "not soft" in much of the North.

HARD: "hired" man in most of the South. "Hoired" man in Charleston.

JUICE: "electricity" in Appalachia.

‘LECTRICITY: "electricity" in typical Mare Kin.

MUNDEE: Day after Sundee. We also say "Toosdee, Wensdee, Thursdee," and "Fridee" when we use the words in sentences. Add "Sattidee," or "Sat’dee," or even "Satterdee," to complete the week.

NEW YOKE: what Southerners call New York.

N’ YAWK: what people who live there call New York.

RAT: Southern "right." "Come inna house RAT now!"

RETARD: A southerner who has taken Social Security. "He is RETARD now after forty years of teachin’ school.

TAHD: "fatigued" down East.

TIE YERD: "fatigued" in most northern states.

TARRED: "fatigued" in the South.

TOMATO: Mare Kin vegetable.

TOMAHTO: Boston vegetable.

‘MATER: Appalachian vegetable. (Same pattern for "potato, potahto," and "tater."

WARSHINGTON: first President of the U.S. in the Midlands and in the state of "Warshington" out on the "Wess coast."

WASHINGTON: first President of the United States in Michigan, among other places.

WASH’TIN: first President in Georgia, for example.

WRETCHED: Southern name for "Dick." "WRETCHED Nixon resigned his office as President of the United States."

That gives you the idea. Once you tune yer rears, yule hear Mare Kin pronunciations instead of English throughout the United States. Watch this space for more.

(Material adapted from MAREKIN: THE LANGUAGE WE SPEAK INSTEAD OF ENGLISH, by Dana Wall, Morris Publishing, 179 pp., paper.)

Sunday, July 17, 2005

When is a "leak" a "plant"?

Talk show guests on Sunday are rehashing and spinning the revelation to reporters of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. Who leaked the information? Why?

Did it come from Karl Rove to get even for the truth Plame's husband had published concerning President Bush's false story of Saddam's buying enriched Uranium from Africa? Was it an inadvertant revelation by Rove, who admits having said, "Ambassador Wilson's wife.." not realizing that Wilson had but one wife and her identity would be easily found out? Rove seems smarter than that. But he argues now that he did not reveal her name! It depends on the meaning of "name,"perhaps.

It is typical Washington D.C. strutting and ducking by people involved. If the evidence plays out as it seems today, one wonders how long before someone calls the despicable outing a "plant" rather than a "leak."

And so far no one has answered the question adequately about why Robert Novak, who first printed the story, is not being questioned and, perhaps, jailed.

He contends he has broken no laws. Could that mean he doesn't realize how badly he has been used by whoever fed him the information for his story? Or that he knows, but accepts his Bush League role. He also has said that he printed the story because, "The public has a right to know."

That may be legally true. But it is hard to see why if we, the public, have a right to know the identity of CIA operatives, we don't also have the right to know who is compromising their effectiveness on the job and, perhaps, endangering their lives by "leaking" those identities to the public.

Friday, July 15, 2005

"The first casualty of war is the truth"

"A-Ten-HUT!" all you military personnel out there doing what you are told and seeing what is really going on! Listen carefully. Some of you may eventually get jobs in the public sector. A few may move into elected office. And one or two of you may become prominent political leaders, running for governor or senate in the future. At least one of you may even become a Presidential candidate in the general election of 2036.

I do not plan to be around; so, let me advise you now from a position of pure cynicism, but based on observations of history.

Here it is: Do not go on record with what you know about military abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan or Iraq. Keep quiet about the abuses at the Cuban military installation, as well. Destroy photos you may have. Do not write e-mail reports to loved ones or friends about what you have seen and know. Certainly, do not post any of that on line.

The military cover up of the friendly fire death of hero Pat Tillman? Shut up about it.

Lack of equipment supplied by our government? Hush. Unspent money appropriated for the war and funneled to companies "rebuilding" Iraq? It was needed there.

Extended enlistments, unprotected patrols, suicide missions? Don't talk of them.

Personnel drinking too much, taking drugs? Shhh. The number of female military personnel who become pregnant while on duty overseas? Please! No one needs to know.

Soldiers raping Iraqi women? Don't comment on their actions, the trials that have been held, nor the convictions of those already found guilty. Just shut up about the truth!

Our troops killing Iraqi civilians, including a wounded man at a church site? Let the courts handle it without your comment! The number of Iraqi dead, estimated as high as 200,000 and counting? Never mind. They weren’t Americans.

"Why," you may well ask, "do I give such deceitful advice?"

I'll tell you why with one name: "John Kerry."

He testified years ago about the truth in Viet Nam. But when he ran for President about 35 years later, the nation had forgotten the truth and wanted to believe only in the holy sanctity of both our troops and their mission as Christian people who would never do wrong. That 35-year-old testimony of the truth, paraded before the voters by the opposition instead of discussing the issues of the campaign, made voters angry with Kerry, for they did not want to remember the truth.

So lies were believed instead, and Kerry lost.

One of you in the military today may be running for President in 2036. By then the country again may not want to remember the truth about the mistreatment, illegal acts, and wrong-doings of what they consider a "do-no-wrong America" in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Go on record with what you know today, and lose the election 35 years from now.

You heard it here first.

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