William Henry Harrison — The best president ever?

For awhile I’ve been toying with the idea of changing baseball allegiances from the Cubs to the White Sox. The Cubs have been frustrating of late (and by “of late” I mean, of course, for the last 102 years). But I’ve decided that there’s simply no way I could ever become a Cubs turncoat. It’s just not possible.

However, what I can do is change my allegiance to my favorite president — naturally. Like so many others, I do admire Abraham Lincoln. He’s probably been my favorite for the longest. I even have a bust of Honest Abe in my apartment. But for years my favorite president has been Millard Fillmore. Mostly just because of his name. Millard. Fillmore.

But as of this morning, I’ve decided to switch. My new favorite president of all time is now William Henry Harrison — the 9th Commander-in-Chief of this nation. My reason for this switch is simple: he was in office for too short of a period of time to really do anything wrong. Who can criticize me for backing a president who was in office for 31 days. The biggest mistake of his presidency might have come just moments after he was sworn in when he gave the longest inaugural address in history. Had he known his actual term in office would be so short, perhaps he would have shortened his speech and gotten to work.

Of course, there are those who argue that his term was short because of his speech. It was nearly two-hours in length, and given on a cold, rainy Washington day. And Harrison ultimately died of complications from pneumonia stemming from a simple cold. It’s since been proven that weather can’t really give you a respiratory illness, but the fact remains, he didn’t wear a coat or hat as he gave his speech. He also happened to be the oldest president elected to office until Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. This sort of tells me that it’s pretty unlikely that his mother was still alive to tell him to put on his wraps.

Basically, I’m backing this guy on the potential of what could’ve been. Who knows? Had he been able to go full-term, maybe he would have been the one to write the Emancipation Proclamation. Or invade Normandy. Or solve the Cuban Missile Crises. Who can really say.

But if that’s not reason enough, he was also penniless when he died. Now that’s something I can definitely relate to. In fact, Congress voted to give his wife a presidential pension. Even better, she was granted the right to mail all of her letters postage free. Sort of the precursor to email, maybe? She should’ve started her own catalog company with that pension.

There you have it. I still root for the Cubs, and now I’m gonna start shopping for a W.H. Harrison Fathead..

A long-winded rant from an insecure pseudo-intellectual. (Or: Is There Such a Thing as an Alprazolamic Delusion?

Sometimes I feel like intelligence can too easily be ignored based solely on lack of strength. I’m an intelligent person. I know this. I have street smarts. I’m wise. I’m aware. But I’m not always informed. As a result, I’m not often strong about defending my convictions. As such, I don’t often impose my thoughts about politics and such on my friends during the occasional political discussions they have. Of course, it happens that a number of my friends are very fervent in their political beliefs, and to engage them in discussion about these beliefs is to place oneself under the scrutiny of their judgement of one’s personal knowledge of the political arena. My political awareness, both locally and nationally does not run deep. I’m under no delusions about this fact. The question is: how much of this lack of current event knowledge is self-imposed?

(Well obviously it’s all self-imposed. No one is blocking information from reaching me. What I mean is, how much am I subconsciously preventing myself from keeping myself in the know?)

I’ve seen the sort of blow-out arguments that occur as a result of basic disagreements. I remember my parents arguing over dinner about things. I’ve watched my father and uncles disagree vehemently with my grandfather on issues regarding race and religion; both trying to argue the points that they’ve known their whole lives. Neither party could necessarily be considered fundamentally wrong, as far as the times in which they each respectively came of age is concerned, but every party is probably indisputably wrong in assuming that they were right.

The problem was that after witnessing these “discussions,” I never felt like anything was solved. It was nothing more than a bunch of screaming, yelling, anxiety, and unease. It was just a bunch of drunken or caffeinated (or both) people trying to make other people believe that they were right about stuff. And maybe they were. But as a kid watching this crap, how the hell was I supposed to know who was right?

I remember one night in particular. There was a strong argument going on at the dinner table at my Aunt Gloria and Uncle John’s house. My grandfather was still alive and my twin cousins were not yet born, which means this took place no less than 22 years ago. The adults were around the dining room table arguing about something while I was in the living room. Unbeknownst to my family (probably to this day) I discovered a Playboy magazine beneath a bunch of other periodicals in a small basket near a chair in their family room. Now as a current subscriber to Playboy myself, and as my uncle was actually probably younger at the time than I am now, it’s important to state that I consider Playboy to be more like a GQ, or a Men’s Health, or some other such magazine, as opposed to an adult girly-mag. But as an 8-12 year old boy, this was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. If I’m not mistaken, this was the issue featuring Joan Collins. I was mesmerized. All I remember is flipping through the pages thinking about what a wonderful thing I was seeing (a naked woman — and a famously well-known one, at that) while all the stupid adults kept arguing about crap that I didn’t understand. I think that moment was defining for me in that I don’t think I ever wanted to understand it.

What’s the point in arguing about things with people whose minds will never change anyway when we could be looking at naked ladies!?

But I guess that’s what makes this world what it is.

I’ve learned over my years that we’re all fucked up in some way. For some of us, the fucked-up-edness (as it were) is a bit more disguised, where as for others it’s relatively blatant. We all learn to deal with our own issues in certain ways. And we all continue on with our lives hoping to prove to the rest of the world that we’re not actually fucked up. We do this by demonstrating our resolve in discussions over politics, religion, sports, the best way to mow a lawn, and so on. The problem is that everyone wants to be right, and seldom is anyone wrong.

Politics is nothing more than a sport. Everyone wants to back a winner. You’re a Republican or a Democrat. You’re a National League fan or an American League fan. You either like NASCAR or you make fun of it. But the truth is that we all want the same thing. That part is easy. The tricky part is that none of us knows what it is we want. Yeah, we want tax breaks. Sure, we want someone who will defend us from terrorists. Of course, we want a leader. Certainly, we want a person who will help us prosper. But how the hell can any of us tell whether one person will be so much better than another. Perhaps the exception is our current president. (“Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.”) Although, as I think about it, a majority of the jobs I’ve had in my lifetime have come through some sort of nepotism, so how can I criticize others for reaching ranks through similar means. Of course, my jobs haven’t put me in direct command of the most powerful military force on Earth, but still, you see my point.

But I didn’t start writing today to share my thoughts on politics. I love Barak Obama, but I can’t necessarily express to you why I do. Maybe it’s simply because I trust the beliefs of those closest to me, and they, in turn, believe in him. Perhaps this is naive. But frankly, I’m not a whole lot different than I was when I was fifteen. The catch is, I’m much more powerful now than I was then — now I can vote.

Laugh if you want. I’m one vote. Big deal. The thing is, we’re all idiots. We’re all worried about shit we can’t control. We all get worked up over things that we’ll never see resolved and as a result, we make things worse. We’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’re actually lucky enough to have witnessed a Democratic nomination race between a woman and a black man. Can any single person reading this who was alive and aware 20 years ago ever believe that this could be possible? Geraldine Ferrarro was Walter Mondale’s choice for vice-president during his presidential campaign in 1984. It’s doubtful that her selection for this post cost him the election (he was defeated in a landslide by incumbent president Ronald Reagan), but it took 24 years for a female to once again become a significant player in a presidential race.

The problem is that the most remarkable thing about the Democratic race wasn’t that anyone was celebrating what we’ve experienced, but rather that the two unlikely, yet allied party members who were running against each other may have done nothing but ultimately hurt one another. What the hell is up with that? It’ll be interesting to see if Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Obama hurt his chances in the overall race for president. It’ll be even more interesting to see if he actually chooses her as his potential vice-president.

I’m tired. That’s what I am. I’m tired of trying to fake caring about this election, even though I do feel strongly about it. The fact is, my life isn’t going to be a whole hell of a lot different whether a Republican or a Democrat wins. I don’t own property. As of right now, I don’t even have a freakin’ income to have to worry about being taxed. Come January  21, 2009, regardless of which party had the honor of watching their candidate inaugurated into office the day previous, I won’t go to my mailbox to find an envelope full of health insurance waiting for me. I’m struggling financially because of the choices I’m making. Not because of the choices a popular vote and/or Electoral College made (or didn’t make). But god forbid I should appear uninformed.

It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care. More than I’ll probably ever actually let on. It’s just simply not more important to me than it is to be able to create a wonderfully written sentence; or to come up with a beautiful musical melody.

Here’s an interesting question: if you had your choice, would you rather trade places with John F. Kennedy or John Lennon? Or how about Ronald Reagan or Roald Dahl? Perhaps the choice between George Washington or George Gershwin?

I’ll almost always choose art, over politics. But that’s not to say that I’ll choose frivolity over freedom. Whatever the fuck that means.

Obama Takes Iowa — Huckabee Takes Chuck Norris

How about that Barak, huh? A strong showing in my second home state of Iowa. I’m so proud of that guy and can’t wait until he’s in the White House.

And who saw Huckabee’s victory speech? I couldn’t take my eyes off Chuck Norris standing behind him. His smile was blinding. I felt like I was staring into the sun. I’m actually sitting here right now watching MSNBC and they’re talking about Chuck Norris in great detail at this very moment. I’m curious to see what sort of spike I get in views here as a result. Everytime Chuck Norris makes the news or becomes the topic of conversation, this site gets massive view numbers. It’s amazing.

Anyway, congrats to Obama. I truly believe he’s the best person for the job. This will sound weird, but I think he reminds me a lot of Abe Lincoln. How could that be, you ask? Because in my mind, I see Abe Lincoln as having a similar oratory style. I have a feeling that we tend to imagine Abe Lincoln as having a very slow, deliberate, almost quiet speaking voice. But whatever. I’m not here to speculate on Lincoln’s speech delivery style. The fact is that Obama knows how sound presidential. He’s got a natural regal quality that demands a level of respect. He knows how to hold a room. He knows how to make everyone think that they’re hearing the most important thing they’ve ever heard. Part of this is because he’s just a good speaker. But it helps that the things he says are the things we want to hear. Much of what he says really is important. In some respects, the things he says very well might be some of the most important things many of us have ever heard. This is a very exciting time. I actually look forward to educating myself further as these primaries progress. Because as those of you who are regular readers know, I’m not exactly the most politically minded person in the world. But I know a good man when I see one, and that man is Barak Obama.

It helps that he seems to have a magnificent speech writer. Here’s the transcript of his Iowa victory speech (as apparently leaked from the New York Daily News):

“They said this day would never come. They said our sights were set too high. They said this country was too divided; too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose.

But on this January night – at this defining moment in history – you have done what the cynics said we couldn’t do; what the state of New Hampshire can do in five days; what America can do in this New Year. In schools and churches; small towns and big cities; you came together as Democrats, Republicans and Independents to stand up and say that we are one nation; we are one people; and our time for change has come.

You said the time has come to move beyond the bitterness and pettiness and anger that’s consumed Washington; to end the political strategy that’s been all about division and make it about addition – to build a coalition for change that stretches through Red States and Blue States. Because that’s how we’ll win in November, and that’s how we’ll finally meet the challenges we face.

The time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government, we do; and we’re here to take it back.

The time has come for a President who’ll be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who’ll listen to you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know. And New Hampshire, if you give me the same chance that Iowa did tonight, I will be that President for America.”

I’ll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois – by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done

I’ll be a President who ends the tax breaks for corporations who ship our jobs overseas and puts a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.

I’ll be a President who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.

And I’ll be a President who brings our troops home from Iraq; restores our moral standing; and understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.

Tonight, we are one step closer to that vision of America because of what you did here in Iowa. And I’d like to take a minute to thank the organizers and precinct captains; the volunteers and staff who made this all possible.

I know you didn’t do this just for me. You did this because you believed deeply in the most American of ideas – that in the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.

I know this because while I may be standing here tonight, I’ll never forget that my journey began on the streets of Chicago doing what so many of you have done for this campaign and all the campaigns here in Iowa – organizing, and working, and fighting to make people’s lives just a little bit better.

I know how hard it is. It comes with little sleep, little pay, and a lot of sacrifice. There are days of disappointment, but sometimes, just sometimes, there are nights like this – a night that, years from now, when we’ve made the changes we believe in; when more families can afford to see a doctor; when our children inherit a planet that’s a little cleaner and safer; when the world sees America differently, and America sees itself as a nation less divided and more united; you’ll be able look back with pride and say that this was the moment when it all began.

This was the moment when the improbable beat what Washington always said was inevitable.

This was the moment when we tore down barriers that have divided us for far too long – when we rallied people of all parties and ages to a common cause; when we finally gave Americans who’d never participated in politics a reason to stand up and do so.

This was the moment when we finally beat back the politics of fear, and doubt, and cynicism; the politics where we tear each other down instead of lifting this country up.

Years from now, you’ll look back and say that this was the moment – this was the place – where America remembered what it means to hope.

For many months, we’ve been teased and even derided for talking about hope.

But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It’s not ignoring the enormity of the task ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It’s not sitting on the sidelines or shrinking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and work for it, and fight for it.

Hope is what I saw in the eyes of the young woman in Cedar rapids who works the night shift after a full day of college and still can’t afford health care for a sister who’s ill; a young woman who still believes that this country will give her the chance to live out her dreams.

Hope is what I heard in the voice of the New Hampshire woman who told me that she hasn’t been able to breathe since her nephew left for Iraq; who still goes to bed each night praying for a safe return.

Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an Empire; what led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation; what led young men and women to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom’s cause.

Hope is what led me here today – with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America. It is the bedrock of this nation; the belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us; by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is; who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.

That is what we started here in Iowa, and that is the message we now carry to New Hampshire and beyond; the same message we had when we were up and when we were down; the one that can change this country brick by brick, block by block, calloused hand by calloused hand – that together, ordinary people can do extraordinary things; because we are not a collection of Red States and Blue States, we are the United States of America; and at this moment, in this election, we are ready to believe again.

I’m not gonna lie to you, watching him give this speech gave me goosebumps.

Chuck Norris for President?

So if you read the post right below this one, you know that I considered throwing my hat into the ring for consideration for the office of President of the United States. However, since posting that, two things have come to my attention that have now made me reconsider my desire to attain this position.

First of all, what’s with this having to be 35 years old to be president, crap? Theo Epstein was under 30 when that sumbitch took over the Red Sox, and I’d say he did alright. And that would be sort of like the equivilant of Ewan McGregor becoming the Prime Minister of England. Because Britain is to the United States what the Red Sox are to the Yankees. Of course, I’m referring to Ewan McGregor circa 1996, right after Trainspotting. Anyway, I just think that even though I’m 33, I should still be allowed to run. I mean, I’d turn 35 only like two weeks after the inauguration anyway. So what’s the big deal?

But really, the whole matter is moot because now that I’ve seen this presidential ad for former Arkansas govorner Mike Huckabee, I realize that there’s no way I could win. Take a look:

How cool is that? It’s actually genius, really. That alone will get the guy some votes. Which is fine. Frankly, I know nothing about the man other than that he’s a Republican governor from Arkansas. I’m just trying to remember if we’ve had any recent presidents that had any prior association with Arkansas. Hmm.

Anyway, thanks to my old friend Henry for sending that clip to my attention.

Oh, and as long as I’ve got everyone here, I’d like to go ahead and announce Because the World Is Round’s official presidential candidate endorsment: Barak Obama. So for those of you on the fence as far as your local primaries are concerned, I hope that this endorsement will officially sway your decision. Because the entire staff here at Because the World Is Round is nothing if not politically charged and fiercely informed on all situations political. It’s true! It dates all the way back to President Dewey!

Good night, America.
And good night, Ewan McGregor. Wherever you are.

My Bid For Presidency

As the primary elections begin to heat up for the big election next year, I’m reminded an article I posted on Negative Waves a few years back. I thought I’d repost it below for your enjoyment.

Since I’ve been so lazy lately as far as writing here, I figured the least I could do is pull out some old stuff for your enjoyement. I’ll try to get back to writing fresh stuff soon.

I’ve decided that I need some more excitement in my life. I need a part-time job or something. First of all, I could use the extra cash. Second of all, I just feel like I could really stand to fill my free time a little better. So I decided that I should analyze my talents to decide what I might be good at. So here’s a list of my talents, all six of them:

1. I’m tallish.
2. I can make farting noises with my hands.
3. I can drive a car with a manual transmission.
4. I can juggle three easy to catch objects for anywhere from 5 to 38 seconds.
5. I’m good at standing behind podiums.
6. I like to sit around and have people tell me stuff.

So naturally, I realized that the part time jobs that would work best for me would be a cashier at Barnes & Noble, a bartender, a taxi driver, a grocery stock boy, or the President of the United States.

I think being President might pay the most, so I decided to go ahead and apply for that job. It turns out though, that you can’t just apply for it. You also have to get elected or something. And apparently not even by a majority vote, from what I understand. So that sounds good to me. I’m announcing that I’m running to be hired as the president of the United States.

So my job application says that I should list reasons why I would make a good president. This was sort of like the time I got the job at Sears Paint and Hardware and they asked me why I’d make a good hardware store employee. I said, “I would make a good hardware store employee because I’m tall and can reach the paint on the top shelves.” That did the trick, I think, ’cause I got hired.

So since I need to be elected by you, the general public, I thought I would share my list of reasons why you should vote for me for president:

  1. A TV in every bathroom and an armed guard in every driveway.
  2. I’ll get our girl scout troops out of Iroc Z Camaros.
  3. I will declare war on the real villains in this world, people who chase an inside straight and get it on the river.
  4. I haven’t taken a vacation that’s lasted more than five days in years. So I won’t expect to have to do that.
  5. I’ve never tried heroine, but I love a good gyro.
  6. I will pronounce words correctly on national television.
  7. Though I may look funny, I won’t give funny looks unless I’m trying to be funny.
  8. I’ll leave a child or two behind. (But not yours, I swear.)
  9. If I have a dog in the White House that son-of-a-bitch (literally) is gonna be a great big, bad-ass German Shepherd-Pitbull mix, and it’s gonna be angry. Really, really angry.
  10. I won’t invite winning baseball/football/basketball teams to the White House. I’ll make them invite me to each of their houses, the rich bastards.
  11. My vice-president will be Dave Chappelle.
  12. I’ll sit in the coach section of Air Force One. (But I’ll get the whole row to myself.)
  13. I’ll take half of the Federal Reserve’s cash to Vegas and put it all on black. If I win I’m going to the Bunny Ranch. If I lose, I’m taking the other half and going to the all-you-can-eat shrimp bar.
  14. I’ll change the National Anthem from the “Star Spangled Banner” to “Hammer of Love” by Bad Company.
  15. When giving my State of the Union Address, I’ll always wear a Hawaiian shirt and be drinking a Singapore Sling. Every time I say the word “crisis” I have to drink.
  16. I’ll challenge the heads of state of other countries to games of Golden Tee in exchange for natural resources.
  17. If the time comes for us to go to war with a country possessing nuclear capabilities, I’ll hold a contest to see who gets to push the button. Who knows, it could be you!
  18. I’ll give a full pardon to Shoeless Joe Jackson and Buck Weaver and personally induct them into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
  19. My election victory party will be held in the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion, and Fred Durst won’t be invited. In fact, James Caan will be personally in charge of my guest list. We’re gonna party old school.
  20. Ben Affleck will be immediately executed for crimes against the state. Namely, reproducing.
  21. I’ll take control of the National Hockey League and I’ll make some changes. I’ll make the goal bigger, I’ll get rid of icing, I’ll take away the goalie’s stick, and I’ll get rid of the sport of hockey.
  22. I’ll take the Pledge of Allegiance out of the classrooms. I’ll replace it with the reciting of the lyrics to “Rockin’ Into the Night” by .38 Special.
  23. I’ll make it a law that people have to post their cell-phone numbers on their car bumpers so we can call the idiots to tell them how much they suck at driving.
  24. I’ll change the national bird from the bald eagle to the middle finger.
  25. When Superman saves the Eiffel tower from a bomb planted beneath an elevator by sending it into space and the resulting explosion sets free three alien criminals from their two-dimensional glass prison and they come to Earth demanding to meet the president, I won’t hide behind my vice-president. And the first thing I’ll do once I get rid of them is send a memo to Superman asking what the hell he’s doing helping out the freakin’ French in the first place.
  26. I will change the official term “First Lady” to “My Baby’s Momma.”
  27. At press conferences, I’ll be the one who gets to ask the questions.
  28. I’ll legalize gambling in the District of Columbia.
  29. I’ll change the Columbia so it will become the District of Poopfaces.
  30. I’ll consider changing Washington D.C.’s name to Washing A.C./D.C.
  31. I’ll replace “God Bless America” with “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” by Traffic.
  32. I’ll get to decide what to name hurricanes. Instead of sissy names like Katrina or Rita we’ll have names that will scare people away and save lives. Like Hurricane Gotti, Hurricane Bundy, or Hurricane Bea Arthur.
  33. The White House will be painted a different color so as to be more racially friendly. Perhaps eggshell.
  34. Women’s beach volleyball will be assigned it’s own major network. 24 hours of women playing volleyball on the beach!
  35. I’ll make my sister the governor of Florida after I’m president.
  36. All Washington D.C. sports teams will use my name as their moniker. The Washington Wizards will become the Washington Mikeys.

So remember, come election time, say “yes” to Mikey for President.

Bob Marley Day – February 6

To those of you who are practicing Rastifari, I’d like to wish you a happy Bob Marley day. For those of you who are not, well, today is his birthday. I’m not a Rastifarian by any means, so I won’t claim to be celebrating that, but I am a Bob Marley fan. So after heading home tonight I might just throw on the DVD that came with a Marley CD box set I happen to own.

I found it interesting to learn, though, that his religion may have ultimately cost him his life. Marley developed a cancerous tumor on his toe due to an injury he receieved playing soccer. They think that if his toe had been amputated, the cancer wouldn’t have spread. As it happened, it spread to his brain, lungs, and stomach before finally taking his life in 1981. But he refused the amputation for two reasons. One being that Rastifari believe that the body must remain whole. The other reason, though probably less important, was that it would affect his ability to dance. For some this might be found as comical, but if you’ve ever seen footage of him on stage, you know that this was a major part of his act.

Anyway, since today is a Bynghi, or holy day, remember, if you’re gathering somewhere in the United States today to hold a Reasoning, be sure to pass the ganja in a counterclockwise circle, as is the custom when in a time of war.

Peace.