Friday, October 4, 1996
n an effort to help educate myself and really understand just what is going on as the nation draws closer to the November General Election, I'll explore many political issues in the next several weeks. For the benefit of conservatives and liberals alike, no topic is taboo.
Politics, like the used car business, is distasteful to hard-working and honest people. This is not to say that there aren't honest politicians (a true oxymoron in its own right) there just haven't been any sighted or encountered in recent memory.
The present White House occupants have done more to damage the credibility of The Office of The President than anyone before them. Repairs to the principles of honesty and integrity of that once-esteemed and reverred office may take several generations to effect.
All those bored political reporters are looking for something to do or write about during this sorry excuse for a political campaign, one suggestion might be exploring just how it was that liberalism died as a viable national political ideology.
This week President Clinton - unquestionably a liberal for most of his slick political career - officially denied in the Oval Office that he was a liberal, a notion he referred to as a "charge."
Monday, Dole's campaign manager sent a memo to his staff urging that the president's liberal legacy be emphasized. "Bill Clinton is a liberal, has always been a liberal, and will always be a liberal," he said.
"The record doesn't support the charge,"Clinton responded. "If you look at what I'm advocating for the next four years, it doesn't support the charge." If the president isn't a liberal any more, he is at least two-faced. He's always been an enthusiastic supporter of liberal policies - until it became expedient to become something else.
Dole, for all his heavy-handedness, is no hypocrite. He's been an unapologetic conservative for pretty much all of his political life.
That liberalism is in free-fall partly supports the idea that we are moving toward a post-industrial political era - except that conservatism is not only vital, but ascending. Surveys show that twice as many Americans now define themselves as conservative than as liberal.
National conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh are far more influential than their liberal counterparts - if one can even name their liberal counterparts. And one of the many reasons mainstream journalism continues to alienate so many Americans is that its dirty little secret - that an overwhelming number of reporters and editors and producers are Democrats, and tend to be liberal - is obvious to everybody.
The notion of liberalism has become so confused that nobody really knows what it is in l996, because almost everyone in public life denies being an adherent. One encyclopedia refers to liberalism as a doctrine that promotes individual liberty. My copy of Webster's calls it a "political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual, and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life." Both descriptions seem miles from the public's notion of liberalism, the name now being synonymous with permissiveness, social engineering, excessive spending, and run-amok social programs like welfare.
Liberals are perceived as sympathizing with the perpetrators rather than the victims of crime, and believing government should and can solve problems that are the responsibility of individual citizens. Liberalism has suffered an agonizing and - at least in terms of mainstream media - a largely unexamined decline. Some people - like me, for example - became liberals at a time when liberals seemed to be the only ones telling the truth about issues like race, gender, and justice.
Yes, I was a liberal in the 60s; weren't we all? In the 70s, I saw the future, became a conservative and am still to this day.
But in the '80s, the liberal function in media and politics began to change. Liberals not only stopped telling the truth about these issues, but worked hard to see that nobody else did either. Liberalism became closely allied to one of the most noxious movements in modern politics - political correctness - and in journalism, academia, and politics, crucial issues from crime to race to immigration to homelessness to date rape to welfare became literally unapproachable. As New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin wrote about the OJ Simpson trial, journalists were so anxious to avoid appearing racist that they failed to challenge or debunk the defense's loopy theories about police conspiracies - notions they all privately ridiculed.
We still know little about the true dimensions of many of our most serious social problems, of their origins or possible solutions, because journalists and most liberal politicians have found it easier and safer to avoid them, or to present them only in the voices of safe, "on-the-one-hand, on-the-other" spokespeople. Freed from PC constraints, conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Limbaugh, Ralph Reed, and Pat Buchanan have experienced an extraordinary cultural and media resurgence. They are unhindered and free to say what they want, and to take on whatever issues they choose. They don't care about liberal constituencies, so they can happily offend whatever sensibilities they like. Had the conservative movement not been taken over by religious and other fanatics who alienated women and other powerful groups with their sometimes cruel social policies, homophobia, efforts to mix government and politics, and fanaticism about abortion, it's likely the United States would be experiencing a conservative Republican dynasty.
There are few (actually none at all) exciting liberal voices at the moment, in media or politics. The ideology seems fuzzy-headed, exhausted, inefficient, and often dishonest.
And as November nears, the country is presented with an electoral conundrum: a conservative candidate whose ideology most people share, but probably very few will vote for; and a self-denying liberal candidate who claims to have no ideology at all, and who's likely to win by a landslide.
The Sunday Enigma.
Windows, that is.
I guess if I had stayed off the InterNet, and just used WFG v3.11 for the usual business matters, it would have sufficed and my investment into high-speed power equipment would have been minimal. But that wasn't to be.
Now, I'm faced with migrating all software (or obtaining new 32-bit versions) over to whatever OS I go to next: Windows NTv3.51 or v4.0 when it's available, or go directly to Windows 95 now. Since Windows NT v4.0s interface is exactly like Windows 95, it'll be a snap to learn. And with all the extra power and features that NT has over Windows 95, it's the next logical step.
"There isn't much of a choice these days. It's Windows 95 or even worse headaches." says my friend Jeff Horn, who managed to escape unscathed from the experience. He actually likes Windows 95, as do a number of other people I know. Maybe the horror stories I've heard about Windows 95 are unfounded. I asked Jeff if he'd take me through the installation. He said he'd be down to the Garden Center Monday evening after work.
The Tuesday Dilemma.
We installed Windows95 last night (Monday), actually into the wee hours of this warm and sunny Tuesday morning trying to get the configurations etc correctly set-up. A bottle of wine from a local vineyard helped pass the eight hours of installation, setback and forward progress. Bill Gates was inside that damned software, watching our every move closely. The Windows 95 installation went smoothly enough; it was all the other things that caused us fits. Since I use this software all day long, every day, it's most critical that it work for me. Jeff spent a lot of time making sure all the apps worked. Hell, he opened every application that I have on the machine at the same time and Windows 95 didn't even burp. Wow! So I know it'll easily handle my day-to-day stuff.
The Windows 95 interface is what takes a little getting used to, after years with WFG v3.11 and previous Windows versions. Tempus fugit. Yes, I know: you've been there, done that.
The Wednesday Dichotomy.
Okay, okay. I was wrong: Windows 95 is everything that I thought it wouldn't be and more. All the rants and vents I made over the last few months about Windows 95 were for naught. I should have switched over to 95 a long time ago. The interface is great. I actrually like Windows 95 now too. Never thought I'd say that in this lifetime...
The memory management situation was my biggest problem: running the InterNet and HotDog caused all kinds of losses of memory and GPFs and assorted other errors. PhotoShop would make it start to crash. That's fixed (sic) now.
There are so many new things to try out in Windows 95, I'll spend a few days playing around until the newness wears off and I get back to some solid work.
But first things first: thanks again, Jeff!
Last night (Thursday), was the last of the Intro To PhotoShop night school classes at The Bradley Academy of Visual Arts here in York, PA. The six sessions, Tuesday and Thursday evening, each week for three weeks, were taught by Professor Ron Ross, an eminent educator in the field of major graphic design software.
What did we learn? As the course title indicates, this is a basic hands-on course (using Macs) that shows the basics of theory and operation of the Adobe suite of software: PhotoShop and Illustrator. Plus, there's Director, MacroMedia, Quark Xpress and several dozen other pieces of software that I'm not familiar with.
These courses are very-highly rated for people who use this software - graphic designers, illustrators, pre-press people - for making a living in their business. Everything we practiced has technical relevance indirectly to the Web and design: creatively using pixels to achieve maximum impact is what it's all about.
I will be going back for Intermediate PhotoShop in January for another six week course of classes; I enjoyed myself. The diploma from The Bradley Academy will look nice on my resume, for when I'm job hunting again. Hahahaha!
The hastily-called Summit by President Bill "Slick Willie" Clinton, Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu of Israel, Yasir "Ringo" Arafat of the Palestinian State and Jordan's King "Bubba" Hussein ended without any agreement on anything. But at least the fighting and Killing has stopped: 76 dead last week was 76 too many.
The Three Stooges:
The riots and shooting broke out last week when Israel opened an ancient tunnel through both Muslim and Jewish holy ground. Real bullets quickly replaced rubber bullets and tear gas. Both sides - the Israeli Army and the Palestinian civilian militia - suffered wounded and dead; the lion's share of the casualties going to the Palestinians.
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