Monday, February 28, 2005

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down 

Three years ago, Mark Sanford became Governor of South Carolina, winning on a platform of fiscal responsibility and having abstained from negative campaigning. He was supported by both Democrats and Republicans, a rare feat in an increasingly divided political environment. There was murmuring at the time that perhaps he should run for President some day.

It seems that murmuring hasn't died down. I don't know anyone who thinks Governor Sanford won't run for re-election next year, but after the debacle of the 2004 elections it's understandable people of all political persuasions are casting a wide net, looking for viable Presidential candidates whom voters can support without reservations. That's why I think that Lee Bandy's op-ed piece urging Sanford not to run is misguided. He says that a Sanford candidacy would be damaging to the South Carolina GOP because it would diminish the importance of their primary. He's saying that whether or not Sanford would make a good President is irrelevant - it's more important to let South Carolina Republicans bask in the glow of their hard-won power.

I admit that I have little patience with insider politics. The machinations of party insiders are what got us John Kerry as a Democratic candidate in 2004 instead of Edwards, Dean, or Clark. They're what got us George Bush for a Republican candidate in 2000 instead of McCain. Party insiders have a preconceived idea of whose turn it is to run for President, and they are not going to let a petty thing like the will of the American people stand in the way. But those insiders can be woefully out of touch with reality, with the daily struggles of everyday Americans. That is why, if we want to have a President we can all be proud of, sometimes we have to refuse to toe the party line, something Sanford hasn't been afraid to do as Governor.

If Mark Sanford decides to run for President, it will not be bad for South Carolina. What would be bad for us, and for the rest of the country, would be to keep a good man from running for President.
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Friday, February 25, 2005

Didie Chic 

As usual, I saw several of them today on campus: young women carrying quilted diaper bags as book bags or purses. Maybe I am officially over the hill, because this is one trend I simply do not get. I can understand the granny chic trends like crocheted shawls and giant brooches - there's a sort of old-fashioned Victorian romance attached to such items. But what on earth is appealing about a diaper bag?

I've looked at bags like these and tried to see them through other eyes. Tried to see them as cute, preppy, granola, so-dorky-they're-cool or some combination thereof. But I can't get away from the fact that no matter what else it's supposed to be, it still looks like a diaper bag.

I don't know any mothers who relish schlepping around that bag full of diapers, wipes, burp cloths, teething rings, etc. But I know several who have made the best of it, carrying fun, attractive bags. Some are quilted and appliqued, some are more sleek-looking, but when you see someone carrying one its function is unmistakeable. The woman boldly carrying her decorative diaper bag says to me, "I am proud to be a Mom, and the joy of motherhood is worth dealing with the occasional dirty diaper."

I'm not a mother myself, but I can understand that sentiment. What I don't get is why childless teenagers want to project the same message.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Shopping for Spam 

I saw this banner ad on Television Without Pity and thought it sounded too good to be true. So I command-clicked on it to see what it was all about (advertisers oughta love tabbed browsing). The site, RetailReportCard.com, offers you "FREE money to shop!" They say that "secret shoppers" will go to major stores and evaluate them. They also say that "membership is 100% FREE."

I went ahead and clicked through to the registration form, thinking there had to be a catch. I found what I was looking for in the terms and conditions, which I copied and pasted from their tiny form window into TextEdit so I could actually read them:
Right to Sell/License Data: CRC may sell and/or license the personal information that you provide to us to third party businesses. These businesses may include providers of direct marketing services and applications, including lookup and reference, data enhancement, suppression and validation, email marketing, and telemarketing.
So not only are you getting FREE money, you're also getting spam, junk mail, and phone calls in the middle of dinner. Needless to say, I didn't sign up to be a secret shopper.

"CRC" stands for Consumer Research Corporation. I searched for some information about the company and found this article. Apparently, I'm not the only one who finds their offers too good to be true, and I hadn't even gotten to the part of registration where I had to agree to sign up for six "offers" from CRC partners. And the scariest part of all this - which actually has nothing to do with anything - is that CRC's parent company, Subscriber Base Inc., is headquartered right down the street from my house.
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Monday, February 21, 2005

John Edwards on Keeping It Real 

John Edwards came to Columbia last week, as reported in The State by Lee Bandy: Edwards says keep faith real. Most of the article is about how Democrats should reach out to Christians, but what I found interesting was this news:
"Edwards... was in town to meet with the poor and those who work with them. He has joined a University of North Carolina think tank to study ways to alleviate poverty."
I'm glad to see that he has not abandoned what I think was one of the most important planks of his campaign platform.
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Friday, February 18, 2005

The Propaganda Power of Web Apps 

Anyone who doubts the power of simple web applications should take a look at the Social InSecurity Benefits Calculator. It's just a simple CGI interface, but this page contains propaganda more powerful than any speech or brochure. You plug in your salary and the year you were born and this application calculates your estimated Social Security Benefits under the current plan and under President Bush's proposed partial privitization plan.

This web app has two advantages as an effective marketing tool: it's personalized, and it offers numbers that have the appearance of hard facts (a computer calculated them, so they must be correct). The number in the black "Annual Cut" box is a more relevant and convincing argument than old-fashioned rhetoric. Senator Schumer (D, NY) has a very smart staff.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

An Hour A Week, Revisited 

I ought to know better than to say I'm definitely going to do something, because I never do. The most I've done to follow up on my previous post is to check out VolunteerMatch and discover that there really aren't any volunteer opportunities in my area that could use someone for an hour a week. So now I'm thinking about other ways to help people.

An article came to my attention today about the shortage of shelters and food for the homeless. With the amount of money people are spending on food they don't need, it's shameful that people in America are going hungry. So perhaps what's needed right now is for people to donate to their local food bank. I know that my church collects food donations every Sunday to send to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Kroger grocery stores also have barrels right there in the store to drop off items you've bought for the food bank. If everyone who was able donated to their local food bank, consistently (say, weekly), we could make a huge impact on hunger in America.

Here is a list from Harvest Hope of the items they need:
  • Canned meat & fish
  • Peanut butter (plastic jars)
  • Canned soup
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit
  • Sugar
  • Similac with iron
  • Baby food (in jars, stages 1 & 2)
  • Personal care items
  • Laundry detergent

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