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When It’s Not Enough To Be a Hero

Posted by sdrury on January 3, 2010

On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into an icy Potomac River moments after taking off from Washington National Airport. The weather in the Washington, DC area that day was frigid, with the temperature in the low-20s and the region had been blanketed by snow from a record-setting blizzard. Washington National, since re-named after Ronald Reagan, who ironically was president at the time of the tragedy, had been closed for a few hours that day due to the inclement conditions. A subsequent investigation into the accident revealed that the plane had not been properly de-iced and should never have taken off.

All but five of the passengers and crew were killed. Before coming to rest in the Potomac, the plane struck several cars on the 14th Street Bridge, killing four people.

Amid the senseless loss of life, what emerged from that day were stories of incredible acts of heroism.

Two such stories were those of Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian, neither of whom was affiliated with the flight or with emergency personnel. Olian was parked on the 14th Street Bridge on his way home from work as a sheet metal foreman. Seeing what was happening, he leapt out of his car, ran down an embankment, and upon hearing the desperate shrieks from the river, jumped into the Potomac while bystanders looked on. Navigating through ice floes, he yelled words of encouragement and told the survivors that help was on the way even though he wasn’t sure if it was. In retrospect, it seems that Olian was attempting to comfort people, complete strangers, as they neared a horrific death. They later reported that his actions gave them the hope and impetus to struggle on.  Once Olian’s own act of humanity had been completed, he was later pulled to safety himself.

Skutnik was working in a nearby office at the time, and like many others, went close to the river bank to watch the rescue operation unfold. Once at the scene, it became apparent to him that one passenger was too weak to grab the rescue line that had been thrown to her from a helicopter. Even though numerous rescue personnel were nearby, he refused to stand by idly, watching someone drown or freeze to death. So, he tore off his coat and boots and jumped into the river and assisted the woman in reaching the life line that led to her rescue. The woman was then taken to a local hospital, her life saved by a complete stranger.

To make it plain, both Olian and Skutnik threw themselves into frozen water to save the lives of people they did not know.

This past Christmas day another air tragedy, albeit of a different kind, may have occurred aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 were it not for another act of heroism. Above Ontario, Canada, as an Airbus with 290 passengers on board was making its final descent to Detroit, a 23 year-old Nigerian terrorist named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to ignite an explosive device he had sewn to his underwear. Fortunately, the device did not detonate properly, but it still created a small fire and passengers later reported hearing a popping sound. As the terrorist was attempting to re-ignite the device, he was grabbed and subdued by another passenger, Jasper Schuringa, preventing him from doing any more damage. The fire was extinguished in short order and the perpetrator, later identified as a member of Al-Qaeda, was handcuffed by a member of the crew with assistance from Schuringa who had endured minor burns to his hands. The plane landed just after noon, without further incident. Schuringa was applauded by his fellow passengers as a hero.

By the afternoon, as word about the near-cataclysm had spread, an associate of Schuringa contacted CNN, informing the network that there were pictures of the incident, taken from a cell phone, available for sale. The following day, Schuringa, who is a Dutch national, signed an agreement with CNN, giving them the rights to the photograph in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money. In the next few days, Schuringa made similar arrangements with the New York Post and ABC News. Other news organizations reported that they also were approached by Schuringa, or his representatives, with the offer of rights to photos in exchange for financial considerations.

When news of Schuringa’s post-flight maneuverings gained traction on the Internet, many wondered if he was exploiting a national security failure for personal gain. Nevertheless, he continued to appear on media outlets, without compensation, to describe his story. It should be noted that Schuringa lists his profession as a film director and told interviewers that what had happened to him over Canada bore an eerie resemblance to a script he had written several years earlier, not long after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

In the aftermath of their efforts, Olian and Skutnick were given Carnegie Hero’s Medals, (among the many honors they received) and were lauded by President Reagan during his State of the Union address two weeks after the disaster. In 1984, a television movie aired,  paying tribute to their actions along with the many other feats of bravery that occurred that day. While many books have been written that mention both men for inspirational or spiritual purposes, neither Olian nor Skutnick has written a book to call his own. As of 2009, both men were in the same line of work as they were that day they plunged themselves into the Potomac.

It almost goes without saying that Schuringa would not be the first person to profit from an act of heroism and he most certainly will not be the last. Yet the alacrity with which he seized his moment gives one pause. How long after suppressing the threat did Schuringa think he think he ought to promote his own bravery? Would he have acted in such a manner had he thought there was a chance he wouldn’t be recognized? The answer to the latter is “of course he would” and only Schuringa knows the answer to the former. Schuringa’s accomplishments should not be minimized, for his fellow air travelers are undoubtedly grateful for his presence on their flight. But a distinction must be made, particularly in comparing his deeds to those of Olian and Skutnik nearly 28 years earlier. When Schuringa thwarted the terrorist, first among the lives he saved was his own. Conversely, Olian and Skutnik intentionally risked their own lives for the benefit of people they did not know. On the hierarchy of heroic altruists they rate a notch or two higher than Schuringa. The specific acts of gallantry aren’t so much the point here as are the responses that followed and the conditions that created them.

Commentators are quick to point to events where things “change”, as if drawing a circle around a date on a calendar will clarify complex human behavior. However, in considering Schuringa’s conduct post facto vis a-vis Olian’s and Skutnik’s, it is apparent that a fundamental change has taken place.

Previously, in a more Romantic era, people did things (worked, prayed, cared for their family, maintained good health, etc) because, in an empirical sense, they were the “right” things to do. You did the right thing as a matter of course, indifferent as to whether someone else was watching you, with no expectation of praise. Ted Williams, the great Boston Red Sox slugger from the 1940s and 1950s, once remarked that it’s easy to give it your all when the stands are full, with thousands watching your every move, but it was the truly great players that gave their maximum effort regardless of circumstance. Often, doing the “right” thing meant putting the needs of the group ahead of the needs of the individual.

Things are different now, different than they were in 1982 and a mere silhouette of what they were in Ted Williams’ day. Now, one can’t help but wonder if the only reason people do the “right” thing at all is so they’ll get credit for it. By extension, one wonders if being acknowledged for a heroic deed has become more important than the deed itself.

In 1982, MTV, CNN, and ESPN were in their infancy. Their success was far from assured. Watching any of these channels today, as they document the endless parade of people with insatiable desires to do something worthy of the camera’s gaze, that’s hard to believe. There are no shortage of subjects who feel themselves worthy of notice.

To be fair, human beings are, and have always been, social animals that seek feedback, and we do all manner of things to get it. To be sure, positive feedback is preferred, but some attention is better than none at all. With the explosion of media in the last generation, there’s more opportunity than ever before to be appreciated. The problem is, that although the number of places a person can be appreciated has multiplied exponentially, the things that merit such appreciation haven’t.

So, scenarios were manufactured to produce them. Television screens are now filled with phony conflicts, callously billed as reality shows, which exist solely for the purpose of designating winners, who, by definition, must be feted. The shows are populated by dozens, if not hundreds, of people, who seem hard-wired to engage in activities meant to elicit some response, irrespective of form. Can it be a coincidence that almost all of the “characters” in these shows were born after 1982 and, therefore, know only a world of cable television?

Lacking the prodding of producers and cameramen, some among us have taken matters into our hands by devising false crises on our own. A few months ago, a Colorado man informed authorities that his son had blown away in a balloon setting off a search and rescue mission that was followed, step by step on live television. Except the boy was perfectly fine, sequestered away so that when he was found by his father, his dad could be hailed as a hero in the news media, and therefore launching a reality of his own.

The most popular “reality” shows of them all, are, of course, sporting events, whose participants are routinely dubbed “heroic.” Let’s take this moment to be clear. No athlete, ever, while in pursuit of victory for his or her team, can have performed in a way that could be described as heroic. Admirable? Perhaps. Heroic? No. Using such terminology is an insult to people, like Lenny Skutnik and Roger Olian, and, yes, Jasper Schuringa, who actually have performed heroically when something more than a win or a loss was at stake.

And then there are the numerous websites where even the most quotidian of choices can be met with chords of approval, be it a knowing remark or an apparitional thumbs up. Facebook, specifically, with its 350 million users (and growing), is the king of the affirmation, allowing “friends” to pile plaudits on our choice of breakfast or our taste in music or our inclination to take a nap. Or whatever else we choose to share. How long did it take Jasper Schuringa to type, “Just foiled a terrorist plot from another one of those crazy Muslim suicide bombers!!!” into his Facebook status?

We shouldn’t be offended by Schuringa because we created him. And given the chance, most of us would have mimicked his actions—including what he did after the plane landed. We are entitled, after all.

Before anyone rings a death knell for heroes, be advised that as long as there are police officers and firefighters there will be acts of unselfishness. But in our current landscape, where the line between competing character traits—like narcissism and altruism—is blurred, determining who or what makes a hero has become virtually impossible and by necessity we need someone to tell us who they are, thereby diminishing the heroes in the process.

Posted in Current Events, Essays, We're Doomed - Americans, We're Doomed - Humanity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

An SU at the CU equals ewwwwwwww…

Posted by sdrury on December 28, 2009

This is the first in an ongoing series of missives that are meant to illuminate the deteriorating state of decorum and consideration towards our fellow man. The continuing disintegration of the interest in the common good, rather than the personal good, is further evidence that we are, in fact, doomed as a country, and eventually, as a race of humans.

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So. I’m at a coffee shop (not Starbucks, actually it’s The Coffee Underground) here in Greenville. I’m working on a freelance project on my laptop, listening to my iTunes library and generally minding my own business. The iced teas I’ve downed while tapping away on my keyboard have made their way to the section of my body that demanded immediate attention. Nature called.

The bathroom at the CU (the abbrevaition it ascribes for itself) is fairly standard as far as coffee shops go. A sink, a stall and a commode. As the latter two were occupado, I waited patiently by the sink. A gentleman emerged from the commode and he and I exchanged nods in the way that men unfamiliar with each other will do after they’ve just exposed they’re genitalia in close quarters. It’s a kind of half-smile, meant to make pleasant an unpleasant circumstance.

(not the commode in question)

As I arrived in the now vacant toilet, I instantly noticed that the previous tenant had abused the machine in such a way as to make it unusable for subsequent visitors. The detritus of his labors had been left untended. The dude peed all over the lid. I groaned, hoping for a sympathetic ear in the other person in the bathroom, but he was in mid-stream. So I uttered an expletive and left.

Emerging from the rest room, I was furious, not only at such an egregious lack of hygiene but by the false sense of fellowship created by the trade of glances when we passed shoulders. I was determined to confront the offender. I spotted him instantly, seated across from a member of the fairer sex. Perfect, I’ll humiliate him in front of his soon-to-be ex –girlfriend. But I paused. The coffee shop was crowded. The non-threatening music (Counting Crows?) and holiday season had forged a mood incompatible to confrontation. I thought about finking on him to one of the barristas. Or maybe just pull him inside and implore not to repeat such an indiscretion. I did none of these and instead returned to the rest room once it had emptied.

Once I returned to my seat—having washed my hands more thoroughly than I had in recent memory—I glowered at the SU (sloppy urinator). I am regular here and should our paths cross once again, in latrine or out, he shall be made fully aware of my umbrage and ordered to…make sure it never happens again. Or I’ll really get mad.

What should I have done? Vote in the poll below.

Posted in Humor, Life in Greenville, We're Doomed - Humanity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What should I have done in response to the sloppy urinator?

Posted by sdrury on December 28, 2009

Posted in Life in Greenville, We're Doomed - Humanity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’m Not A Serious Cyclist Since I Don’t Shave My Legs

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

I am an amateur cyclist. Very amateur. I am mostly a weekend cyclist. Weather permitting I can get out a couple of times a week. My bike is about eight years old but it’s sturdy. I keep the seat, the tires and the brakes in good working condition. My bike is not quite a road bike, but it’s not a mountain bike either. In other words it’s just right. Now that I’ve moved to Greenville I can ride year round and the more I ride the more I’m becoming aware of the habits and practices of other, more accomplished bikers. There’s one phenomena in particular that has caught my attention. Well, calling it a phenomena is inaccurate, since that implies it’s a passing trend and it most certainly is not. It’s the practice of male cyclists shaving their legs.  Surely, I thought, there must be an aerodynamic benefit but that must only be felt by elite riders. Then I saw plenty of guys who probably aren’t elite cyclists, but they shaved their legs too. I didn’t dare ask another cyclist why he shaved his legs for it might reveal an ignorance on my part.oo. So, like any person with a computer, I Googled it.

My source here is www.coachlevi.com. I don’t know who Coach Levi is or what his qualifications are on such matters but he seems to be pretty knowledgeable about all things cycling. Here’s what he has to say about the leg shaving business:

Shaving Your Legs for All The Wrong Reasons

First, we’ll start with a few reasons people give for shaving their legs that are actually myths or just dumb reasons.

To ride faster (due to better aerodynamics.)

The first thing most people think of with smooth legs is better aerodynamics. Surely a smooth leg slices through the wind much, much faster than a leg covered in thin little hairs!

But guess what – this lack of leg hair does not make you more aerodynamic. While there are a variety of wind tunnel tests for time trial positioning, along with big studies about air turbulence for golf ball dimple designs, drag from leg hair has not been studied. Why? Because it is way too minimal to even matter.

If you are a triathlete or swimmer, though, you’re dealing with water, and that’s a different story. (One which doesn’t even matter these days, thanks to super fast suits that even smooth skin can’t compare to.)

For sheer joy and excitement.

You might be thinking “hey, that might be neat to shave my legs once.” Trust me, it’s not. Ask any cyclist (or any female, for that matter) that shaves their legs how fun and exciting it is, and you’ll get blank stares and confused looks.

The first time is alright, and smooth legs do make for a good conversation piece, but then you have to shave again at least twice a week. It’s a hassle, and if you don’t do it, well, the stubble is not fun. So then you are forced to keep shaving or deal with stubble for a couple weeks.

Good Reasons to Shave Your Legs

Now here are the real reasons to shave your legs that actually justify the time, expense, and possible ridicule you’ll experience once you begin shaving your legs.

Reason 1 – To look good.

This is what it’s all about right here. You can have a fancy kit, sleek helmet, and top-of-the-line bike, but if you pair hairy legs with tight spandex, the cycling fashion police will be forced to haul you away.

Best of all, hairless legs emphasize your muscles. With hair, your legs will still be big, but once they’re shaved, every little ripple in your muscles stands out for the world to see. 

Reason 2 – To feel like a pro.

All the pros shave their legs. Not once have I seen a professional racer (on the road, at least) that foregos shaving, and even the majority of recreational roadies and amateur racers shave their legs. If you shave yours, too, it makes you feel like part of the group.

You’ll feel faster, too, just like the pros. Heck, you might even get motivated enough that your mind is driven to ride faster. This is a placebo effect, not aerodynamics, but it could very well result in faster times!

And not only do you feel like a pro, you just feel good. That’s probably because hairless legs keep you cooler (think of hairy legs like wearing a cotton t-shirt.) Plus, you actually “feel” the air moving around your legs, which is very neat.

Reason 3 – To treat road rash easily.

The less you race or do group rides, the less you’ll have to worry about road rash, but it’s always a concern. But if you do a lot of group rides and races, there’s a good chance you’ll experience road rash first-hand.

The previous two reasons (looking good and feeling good) will help you on each ride, but the (hopefully) rare cases when you get road rash will be the most memorable “I’m so glad I shaved my legs!” moments. That’s because cleaning your raw skin is much easier if you don’t have hair in the way. Not to mention, the hair will likely trap more dust, dirt, bugs, and gravel in your wounds.

If you end up in the hospital to get your hairy road rash cleaned out, chances are a tired, unsympathetic nurse will bust out the wire brush to scrub your wounds. Ouch! So in this case, leg shaving is kind of like wearing a helmet – you hope you don’t need it, but it’s there just in case.

Smooth legs also come in handy if you’re a mountain biker and get scratched up or cut; then you can put a band-aid on your wounds without it pulling out your hair (which can sometimes be more painful than the cut itself!)

Reason 4 – For better massages.

Again, this probably doesn’t matter on a day-to-day basis (unless you’re a pro,) but getting a massage feels so much better if your legs are smooth. Part of the reason is that the hair gets sticky and creates friction, which makes it harder for the masseuse, which translates into a sub-par experience for you.

Try it yourself: rub some massage oil on a hairy leg, and then do a little self-massage. Then try the same thing on a smooth leg, and you’ll see a big difference. Your hands will glide easily, and it will feel oh so good!

Reason 5 – To deter ticks.

If you ride in the woods (or even on back roads,) ticks can jump off weeds and grab your leg hair, then make their way around your body until they decide to bite. Smooth legs don’t leave them much to grab onto, so it’s less likely that a tick will stay on your body.

It will also be easier to spot a tick if there isn’t a mass of hair obscuring your vision.

I’ve found five ticks on me so far this year, but with my smooth legs, most have been stuck hiding on my clothes. With hairy legs, I probably would have had at least twice as many ticks, some of which may have crawled through my leg hair and made a nice home somewhere on my upper thigh!

(One did stick itself into my hamstring, but that bugger got there one evening when I was sitting around in the grass. I don’t think he would have made it there had I been wearing lycra!)

So there you have it. Five solid reasons to shave your legs that have nothing to do with aerodynamics.

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Alrighty.  So the best reason is to look good? I’m not pageant walking here, I’m riding a bike. None of the other reasons are particularly compelling either, as I think I’ve gotten two ticks in the entirety of my cycling experience. And I’ve never had road rash. And wouldn’t shaving just draw attention to the rash? And who wants to look at a rash? Massages? Please. I confess that I not only do I find the practice extremely time consuming (once you start shaving it never stops; remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry shaves his chest?) it’s steeped in vanity. Basically, it’s for show, like a basketball player getting a tattoo. It just seems like an awful lot of trouble to through in order to make your commitment to a rather amorphous group. By comparison, the tattoo requires much less maintenance. You don’t have to re-colorize it every week or so. I’d much rather than have my commitment measured by my mileage rather than follicles. I don’t want to alienate myself and tell other weekend cyclists to get over themselves but…

 

Posted in Life in Greenville, Outdoors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Guitar Solos

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

If there is such a thing as a staple of rock and roll, something that transcends the lyrics, the posing, the outfits, the hair and whatever other tropes can be associated with the genre, it is the guitar solo. Seeing and hearing one in person, live, sends otherwise normal people with normal jobs and normal clothes and normal lives, shivering and writhing as if in the presence of a shaman. In anticipation of one, strangers trade knowing glances and then tilt their heads skyward acknowledging a tradition created by bluesmen like Robert Johnson, modified by Chuck Berry, and then re-created all over again by Jimi Hendrix (is it a coincidence all these men are black?). Indeed, every guitar solo has its roots in the Blues.

Any musical list is far from empirical, nevertheless here’s my two favorites:

Mike McCready:

David Gilmour:

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Bill Maher Interviewed

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

Rather than go into the list of issues in which Bill Maher and I concur, it’s much easier to say that we start from the place, which is a humanist perspective. In most any policy decision, there is the “right” thing to do, that is, the choice that best serves the vast multitudes, rather than a particular constituency. A person must divorce himself from electoral politics to be a humanist because it is position, that is, by default, globalist, whereas politics is, by default, territorial.  

This point of view makes someone like Bill Maher perplexing to someone like Joe Scarborough who exists in the narrow world of voting, whether it’s in a polling booth or on a couch with a remote control. The interview is from Newsweek’s December 21, 2009 issue:

Scarborough: So, liberal comedians were wringing their hands a year ago in The New York Times over the prospect of telling jokes at the expense of the chosen one, Barack Obama, at the beginning of his presidency. Have any comedic themes emerged over the past year surrounding Barack Obama that you find funny?
Maher: Well, let me correct your question first of all. Comedians weren’t wringing their hands, the media was. The media gets a hold of a question, and then like sheep all repeat it ad nauseam until we are so sick that we want to jam a needle in our eye. But yes, six months ago I was getting booed by my own audience when I would make jokes about Obama. I remember one show I had to say to my audience, “He’s the president, not your boyfriend.” And at the time, what I was basically saying was that he wasn’t putting it on the line against the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and big agribusinesses, and the credit-card companies, and the banks. Basically, the American political scene didn’t have a party that was representing the left at all, and that’s what we thought we were voting for. Well, they’re not booing anymore when I say that. I said that he needed more Bush and Cheney his personality and my audience went nuts.

Speaking of Dick Cheney, do you feel betrayed as a progressive by the president’s decision on Afghanistan to defer to the generals’ wishes, much in the way Dick Cheney and George W. Bush did over the past eight years?
I don’t feel betrayed, I feel disappointed. I don’t feel betrayed because he did run on the idea that, well, we’ve got to have some war. I mean, come on, we are Americans. So he was not untrue to what the campaign said. But things haven’t changed in Afghanistan. Mostly we found out that the government was even more corrupt than we thought. [Laughs] Which is saying something. And I think that would have given him enough cover to get out from his campaign pledge. He didn’t have to do this.

Was he afraid to stand up to the generals or an American public that you suggest likes a good war?
I don’t think they like this one anymore. I mean, there are even a number of people on the conservative side who are against this war. I have no idea what his thinking is. Something happens when you become president. They give you the plane, they give you the helicopter, everywhere you go they play “Hail to the Chief.” You get your ass kissed 24 hours a day. You think that America can do anything.

Let’s go back to your discussion about health-care reform that you are now talking about in your stand-up act. If the president ends up supporting a health-care-reform bill that doesn’t contain a public option, but does have the amendment that restricts abortion funding, will progressives have been betrayed or abandoned by the Democratic Party running Congress?
I think that we were abandoned by the Democratic Party years and years and years ago. I don’t, as I said, think we have a progressive party. They were abandoned by the Democratic Party on gun control. They were abandoned by the Democratic Party on catering to the needs of the banks and the credit-card companies before the people. I mean, when the Democratic Party is OK with 30 percent interest credit cards, I think any discussion of betrayal is late. There’s not a society in the world that hasn’t condemned usury. There is not a religion, you’ll be happy to know, or a religious philosopher that hasn’t condemned the practice of usury. The reason we don’t have loan sharks anymore is because that’s what banks do legally. If there was any time to bring out a can of socialist whoop-ass, it would be now on that.

How could Barack Obama, after 11 months in office, manage the trifecta of offending progressives, who believe he hasn’t gone far enough, conservatives, who believe he’s gone too far, and independents, who are acting like they did when Ross Perot was running around the countryside?
That’s a good question. I’ve heard you ask that on your show. There is no good answer because he is such a bright guy, so you wonder how he could do it. He was never going to get the conservatives. I mean, I don’t know why he spent the amount of time he has so far in his administration currying the favor of people who don’t like him. Someone has to give him a memo that says, “They’re just not that into you.” You are the wrong age, the wrong party, the wrong color. They’re just never going to get behind you. So, you know, I hate to say it, but I agree with your boy Pat Buchanan. If Obama was in Congress still, he would have been against this troop buildup in Afghanistan. He would have been with Kucinich.

But let me correct you. Pat Buchanan is not my boy, Pat Buchanan is America’s boy, OK, Bill?
[Laughs] Certainly not America’s boy.

You know, speaking of Pat Buchanan, who certainly under-stood where populists were in ’92 and again in ’96: Buchanan seems to believe that Americans are exhausted by war, after eight years in Afghanistan and Iraq. Don’t you think the president could unite progressives and conservatives like George Will, Pat Buchanan, and myself by actually having the courage to stand up to the generals and say, “You get 18 months and no more. [Then] bring the troops home.”
Well, yes. His own top military guys said there’s probably less than 100 Al Qaeda [in Afghanistan]. So why can’t we call up George Bush and get the old MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner and put it up and march right out of there? You’re right, it might unite progressives and conservatives.

You’ve heard this theme as well. For eight years Republicans worked around the clock to delegitimize Bill Clinton. For the next eight years, Democrats tried to delegitimize Bush. Now Barack Obama is enduring the rage of his conservative opposition. How do we step back from a political system that seems to promote mutually assured destruction, regardless of whom we elect?
Well, I would take some issue with that question, and this is something conservatives like to do, which is to spread it around equally when that’s not really the case.

Here’s the problem, though, Bill. Hold on, Bill
Do you really think if there was a terrorist attack on the order of 9/11, Republicans would rally around Obama like Democrats did around Bush?

Yes.
You do?

I think they would for about as long as Democrats rallied around Bush before going after him. And here’s the problem, Bill—when I make this argument to Republicans, they of course say, “Well, Joe, I take issue with what you’re saying.” It’s just it’s always the other side’s fault.
Right. I hear you. I’m not saying that Democrats are at all blameless. They are responsible, for example, for the process of politicizing Supreme Court nominees.

Right. So how do we step back from that? Is it possible?
That is the $64,000 question, and every president who gets elected runs on the platform “I’m going to change the tone in Washington.” But then the tone in Washington gets even worse. I don’t know if a president or a leader can do that, because the provenance of that problem is the people. I don’t know how a leader can fundamentally change what’s in people’s hearts.

Is it time for an independent?
Independent?

Yeah.
An independent? Well, that’s possible. Isn’t the independent registration now bigger than either political party?

It’s up in the 40s. It’s the highest it’s ever been, according to Gallup.
That’s twice as many as Republicans, and I think it’s more than Democrats too. You know, I guess what we need is an independent leader. Maybe you and I should run together on a unity ticket, Joe?

I think we could do that. [ Laughs ]
The unity ticket of Scarborough and Bill Maher. I’ll be happy to be the vice president because you have experience in Congress and I don’t really want to get up before noon.

That will bring America together. Now, if I can’t do that, what about Lou Dobbs? Would you serve with Lou Dobbs on an independent Lou Dobbs ticket?
Ah, no, I don’t think so. I don’t think I want to have lunch with Lou Dobbs once a week.

What do you think about TV hosts like Lou Dobbs talking about running for president?
Well, I think it’s the age we live in. You know, he certainly has no less credibility than Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was in Bedtime for Bonzo, and you guys think he was the greatest president since George Washington. So, I’m just glad we have a constitutional-law professor who was able to somehow sneak into the presidency. I’m just going to hold my breath for the next seven years.

You have any holiday plans?
I’m going to try not to do interviews.

Good.
Not that I don’t love talking to you. You’re an exception. No, I don’t have big holiday plans. You know I don’t celebrate the whole baby-Jesus thing, so we can put the religious part of it off the table. I don’t really have much family left. I really like the holidays as a time where people are away and the phone doesn’t ring and nobody can call you up and say, “Oh, can you do this, can you do that?” I wish it would last longer.

Well, speaking of our favorite topic this holiday season, what are your thoughts about God? Do you believe in any supreme being in any form?
Joe, I put this all in my movie Religulous. It’s on DVD.

I know. But you wouldn’t do our show.
It’s the perfect stocking stuffer for the secular-minded person at Christmastime. Christmas is a national holiday, and I don’t object to the holiday. Of course, I have wonderful memories of Christmas when I was a child, and it’s a great time of year for family to get together. That’s a nice thing. Families should bond. But also to reassess. It’s a good time to say “Oh” and take stock and say, “Gee, how was I ethically this year?” That’s the problem with faith, Joe. What it does is it kind of screws up your priorities. Your priorities shouldn’t be saving your own ass, which is the focus of Christianity. The focus should be, I’m a good person, and I do that just for the sake of being good. Like the Christmas song says, “Be good for goodness’ sake.”

OK, final question from me. You talk about the fact that you had good Christmas memories. Do you have a favorite?
Um…

Going back to your childhood? I’m trying to help you here with all of the people you’ve pissed off already. So give me your favorite Christmas memory.
I don’t know about a specific one, but what I remember was a Christmas tradition, which was playing Robert Goulet’s Christmas album. My mother was a big fan of Robert Goulet, and so many housewives were in the 1960s, Joe. I don’t know if you remember that at all, but Robert Goulet was quite the matinee idol. In fact, I once flew my mother out to Las Vegas to have dinner—we all had dinner together—Robert Goulet, his wife, my mother, and I. It was the thrill of her life. It was the best Christmas album, we just wore that thing out. I remember after Christmas we had a party, which was odd, because it was a Christmas party, and my father was very Catholic but my mother was Jewish. It was all the Jewish relatives who lived in the area, so they came to the Christmas party, and then they would leave and we would all be exhausted. And we would all just sit there, and [enjoy] the glow of the fire, the fire on the TV—we didn’t have a fireplace—and listen to the Robert Goulet Christmas album.

It doesn’t get better than that, Bill Maher.
And then I would go upstairs and masturbate.

All right. Thanks, Bill.

Posted in Current Events, Humor | Tagged: , , | 6 Comments »

Found on the Internet – Bill Maher Eats Raw Food

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

Not only do I agree with just about everything that comes from the man’s mouth, I’m envious of his commitment to healthy living.

Posted in Found on the Internet | 1 Comment »

Miles Styles

Posted by sdrury on December 26, 2009

After listening to the sounds tumble out of Miles Davis soul, one can’t help but wonder where someone gets the bravery to even so much as press a trumpet against his lips.

Posted in Jazz | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Worst Football Play Ever

Posted by sdrury on December 22, 2009

If there was ever a hope that Jim Zorn might keep his job with the Redskins, it ended with this play.

Posted in Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Found on the Internet — The Shake Weight for Men

Posted by sdrury on December 16, 2009

Some things speak for themselves.

Posted in Found on the Internet, Video-Humor | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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