Friday, July 29, 2005

Shockingly wrong

Usually I'm right about most things. At least that's what I try to convince myself. However, I'm sometimes wrong.

And then there are times when I am so incredibly wrong, so amazingly off base, so egregiously mistaken, that I consider taking a vow of silence.

For those of you who haven't been following the news from the world of sports, Boston Red Sox leftfielder Manny Ramirez has been acting like a big baby recently. Here's the rundown:
  • He's asked to be traded because of a lack of privacy, despite allowing the Boston Globe Magazine to photograph his child's bedroom.
  • During a recent game, he went into the Green Monster to go to the bathroom while pitching coach Dave Wallace visited the mound. Ramirez barely made it back onto the field in time for the next pitch.
  • In a game against the Devil Rays on Tuesday, he failed to run out a groundball, potentially jeopardizing a Sox rally.
  • On Wednesday, he refused to play. During the weekend, he asked manager Terry Francona for a day off. Francona told him that it would make more sense if he sat on Wednesday, and Ramirez agreed. However, on Tuesday, rightfielder Trot Nixon injured himself, leaving the Sox short an outfielder. After the game, Francona asked Ramirez to reconsider his desire to take the next day off. Ramirez said he still needed the rest. It's important to note that during Tuesday's game, Sox pitcher Matt Clement was struck in the head by a line drive that left him motionless on the field for about 10 minutes.
On July 6, this email exchange took place between me and a friend:

Me: Manny is only three grand slams away from tying Lou Gehrig for the most in history.

Friend: He's a jerk.

Me: Based on what qualifications?

Friend: Based on his hanging out with enrique wilson after he didn't play in a game.

Me: Manny doesn't do that kind of stuff anymore. He's a changed man. Seriously. Ever since the Sox tried to literally give him away, he's matured. It really opened his eyes.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The joy of debunking

I love when people forward me unsolicited emails that are brimming with misinformation. Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic.

Once upon a time—like yesterday—I hated them. It infuriated me to know that people's minds are being polluted with lies. Because the vast majority of these emails are sent in an attempt to influence (or reinforce) one's political beliefs, I was angered by the knowledge that people were possibly making ignorant political assumptions!

Today, a friend forwarded me this one about Social Security:
This may make you ill, so read with care!

We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.--Winston Churchill

SOCIAL SECURITY:

Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat, introduced the Social Security (FICA) Program. He promised:

1.) That participation in the Program would be completely voluntary,

2.) That the participants would only have to pay 1% of the first $1,400 of their annual incomes into the Program,

3.) That the money the participants elected to put into the Program would be deductible from their income for tax purposes each year,

4.) That the money the participants put into the independent "Trust Fund" rather than into the General operating fund, and therefore, would only be used to fund the Social Security Retirement Program, and no other Government program, and,

5.) That the annuity payments to the retirees would never be taxed as income.

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the Federal government to"put away," you may be interested in the following:

Q: Which Political Party took Social Security from the independent "Trust" fund and put it into the General fund so that Congress could spend it?

A: It was Lyndon Johnson and the Democratically-controlled House and Senate.

Q: Which Political Party eliminated the income tax deduction for Social Security (FICA) withholding?

A: The Democratic Party.

Q: Which Political Party started taxing Social Security annuities?

A: The Democratic Party, with Al Gore casting the "tie-breaking"deciding vote as President of the Senate, while he was Vice Presidentof the U. S.

Q: Which Political Party decided to start giving annuity payments to immigrants?

MY FAVORITE:

A: That's right! Jimmy Carter and the Democratic Party. Immigrants moved into this country, and at age 65, began to receive SSI Social Security payments! The Democratic Party gave these payments to them, even though they never paid a dime into it!

Then, after doing all this lying and thieving and violation of the original contract (FICA), the Democrats turn around and tell you that the Republicans want to take your Social Security away!

And the worst part about it is, uninformed citizens believe it!

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

How many people can YOU send this to?

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to first.

Actions speak louder than bumper stickers. Please forward this E-mailto others so that they can be informed of the truth. (italics mine)

I was a bit surprised that he sent it to me. He's an intelligent guy and is skeptical about nearly everything.

It clearly reeked of fabrication. It woke me up in a way that coffee never could. Quickly, I opened up a new browser window and directed it to snopes.com. There was nothing there. Undaunted, I googled the phrase "program would be completely voluntary."

The second result was a myth-debunking page from the Social Security Administration. Perfect! You can read it here.

I was so happy with myself. I had been in a bad mood because of yet another aggravating commute on the T. But this gave me a nice shot of adrenaline. I immediately forwarded the link to my friend, with the comment "I thought you knew better than to trust unsolicited emails of this nature." His response: "I didn't believe it at all. But I knew you would debunk it for me."

I'm glad I'm so predictable. He clearly knows how much I like to prove Republicans wrong. (Although I have also been known to debunk liberal propaganda.)

I was reminded of Randal Graves's comment to a video store customer in Clerks: "I hope it feels so good to be right. There's nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?"

At about 3 p.m., I was coming off that high and was in the mood for a break, so I did some more googling and found this link. Once again, I felt great about myself.

So keep those fraudulent emails coming.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Above the law

In a functioning democracy, loyalty to the rule of law must take precedence over anything else. But in the current administration, loyalty to the President seems to be the ultimate order of the day. So if a judge orders the administration to turn over documents that might make them look bad, they will simply ignore the order.

From yesterday's New York Times:

Lawyers for the Defense Department are refusing to cooperate with a federal udge's order to release secret photographs and videotapes related to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

The lawyers said in a letter sent to the federal court in Manhattan late Thursday that they would file a sealed brief explaining their reasons for not turning over the material, which they were to have released by yesterday.

The photographs were some of thousands turned over by Specialist Joseph M. Darby, the whistle-blower who exposed the abuse at Abu Ghraib by giving investigators computer disks containing photographs and videos of prisoners being abused, sexually humiliated and threatened with growling dogs.

...

In the letter sent Thursday, Sean Lane, an assistant United States attorney, said that the government was withholding the photographs because they "could result in harm to individuals," and that it would outline the reasons in a sealed brief to the court.


And yes, I guess this means I've returned to the blogosphere, or as my brother would call it, the bjournalsphere.