John McCain needs to write Hillary Clinton a thank-you letter, and he might as well start working on it right now. At this point, there’s nothing he can do to help himself win this year’s presidential election more than what Senator Clinton has already done.

First and foremost, Clinton is trying to get herself (s)elected as the Democratic nominee. Considering that she might be the most passionately hated person in America (not counting terrorists, who presumably do not live in America), there is nothing McCain could do to gain the support of the far right more than having her as an opponent. They’re still convinced that she is just biding her time and plotting her way to creating a socialist state, no matter how lamely centrist she might actually be in reality. The Clinton-haters may be delusional, but they happen to be exactly the same Republicans who are disappointed with McCain. So, McCain can count on getting the moderates on his own merits, and he can count on Hillary to deliver the right-wing votes to him as well. One McCain presidency, courtesy of Clinton.

Second, Clinton keeps praising McCain in her efforts to tear down Obama. People are becoming genuinely concerned that Clinton’s do-anything-to-win strategy is guaranteeing that even if she loses, she will have raised enough doubts about Obama to keep him from winning as well. “If I can’t have the White House, then you can’t either!” says both the toddler and the junior senator from New York. All McCain will need to do is to take the Clinton ads out of the trash, change a couple names, and start running them on TV. Again, a McCain presidency, courtesy of Clinton.

Speaking of doing anything to win, Clinton’s efforts to get delegates any way she can is doing a great job of damaging the Democratic Party’s credibility. I was a little worried back when it was announced that Clinton was the only candidate remaining on the disqualified Michigan ballot. Sure enough, she’s now trying to get the delegates from Michigan and Florida to count. Once again, the only comparison that comes to mind is little kids cheating by changing the rules in the middle of their games. This is politics, not Calvinball, and any attempt to treat it as such will only make the Democrats look like crooks. In turn, this will help McCain win the presidency.

Now there are even rumors that the Clinton campaign will try to get pledged delegates (not the superdelegates!) to switch sides at the convention. Such a strategy is so unlikely to work that I doubt the rumors. However, given everything else we’ve seen from Senator Clinton, perhaps I shouldn’t be so skeptical.

In the end, Senator Clinton just doesn’t get it. She talks about a joint ticket with Obama, which is great if all you want is to get one or both of these people into the White House at some point. However, a backroom deal to settle the nomination is not going to please voters who support Obama specifically because they’re fed up with the current crowd of politicians (including Clinton) and their backroom dealings. The joint ticket idea just seems like yet another way for Clinton to put herself in the White House in spite of losing most of the primaries; and it’s exactly that kind of cynical ambition that will turn off voters in the general election.

So, whether she wins or loses, Clinton’s doing all she can to make McCain the president in 2009. She might lose in August or she might lose in November, but her seemingly limitless drive to win guarantees that sooner or later, she will lose.

A very creative depiction of the United States prompted an interesting discussion among the Angry Men this past week. One of the most striking features of the map is the complete absence of our nation’s capital, which prompted our Angry Overeducated Catholic to rejoice that our nation is blessed by having an insignificant capital city. After all, a large capital suggests a large government, and a larger capital would have made it onto the map. As AOC put it, “All true sons of the Founding Fathers should rejoice that, despite the best efforts of socialist weenies like the Democrats, foreigners still don’t give a fig about our capital.”

As a long-time DC area resident (like the Angry Midwesterner, actually, no matter what he might tell you), I too noticed the conspicuous absence of our capital city. I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions about this particular map: Just like the word “anecdote”, the plural of the term “funny picture on the Internet” is not “data”. In reality, the large number of international tourists in DC suggests that foreigners actually care more about Washington than most Americans do. Every American I meet from outside of DC says something like, “Oh, yeah, I was there once in fifth grade,” and all they seem to remember is the oppressive summer weather and a lot of buildings with columns on the front of them.

However, I would agree with a complementary point to AOC’s, which is that sons of the Founding Fathers should rejoice when Americans don’t give a fig about our capital. Having pretty monuments that attract Japanese people with cameras does not suggest that our government is too powerful. However, having too many people and jobs in our capital city suggests that our government is too powerful, and in fact that’s exactly the situation that we are in. Relative to its humble beginnings (to paraphrase Monty Python, “When I started here, all there was was swamp. Other kings said I was daft to build a White House on a swamp, but I built it all the same, just to show ’em. It was burned down by the British, then sank into the swamp. So, I built a second one, and that one stayed up!”) or even its recent past, the Washington area is growing like a Republican president’s budget deficit.

Of course, I now have to take that point about “small capital = good” and turn the political implication (“socialist weenie Democrats”) on its head. The Washington area (particularly Northern Virginia) has exploded over the past few decades, with millions of people and numerous businesses moving to the area. Besides triggering an automotive transit clusterf**k of Los Angeles proportions, this migration suggests that our government is growing too quickly. However, these people and businesses are not here because they want to work for the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Commerce or all of the Departments of Things That Even Well Educated Americans Can’t Be Bothered To Remember. Rather, they’re all here directly or indirectly because of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

As someone who has looked for a job in the DC area, I can tell you that you can’t do anything more than flip burgers without a security clearance in this town (and that’s not because you’re going to work for some Super Secret Welfare Program, either). I’m currently in the process of finishing a graduate engineering degree, and I’m planning to move away following graduation because I don’t want to work for the military and I don’t want to work for some three-letter agency that is in the business of spying on Americans. If I stay in Virginia, I simply won’t have any other choices.

So, I would agree that a big and thriving capital is a bad thing, though I would argue that it’s a bad thing because it represents the excesses of the American War Machine and not the excesses of an alleged welfare state.

Consider the following statistics:

  • 40% of University of Virginia (UVa) students consume an average of six or more drinks a week.
  • 24.4% of UVa students don’t care if their friends drink and drive.
  • 33.5% of UVa students don’t mind if their drinking causes problems for other people.
  • 16.5% of UVa students are too scared of the cops to call 911 when one of their friends has alcohol poisoning.
  • About one in twenty UVa students has gotten into a fight while drinking.
  • 25.4% of UVa students drink alone and/or go to frat parties without anyone there that they know.
  • 35.1% of UVa students will leave their drunk friend with a stranger.
  • 10% of UVa students who drink have been injured at some point because of their drinking.

Now, consider the source of these statistics, namely a web site that is supposed to convince UVa students that other students don’t drink. The idea is that students will be overwhelmed by how many of their peers do the right thing, thus causing students with drinking problems to abandon all of their foolish and irresponsible habits.

Of course, to make this argument more convincing, all of these statistics are provided in reverse. For instance, they assert that 60% of UVa students consume 0-5 drinks per week…

I guess you’ll have to excuse me if I’m still underwhelmed by those numbers.

Apparently, this is a popular approach to addressing alcohol problems at universities. You can even find consulting companies that will put together one of these “Social Norms” campaigns for your school. There are (at least) two things wrong with this picture.

  1. If I go to a crowded frat party or a popular bar that is turning people away at the door every Friday and Saturday night, I’m not going to be worried that too many of my peers will look down on me for drinking. On the contrary, I’m still going to be more worried that I’m never going to get through the crowd around the bar to get a drink of my own.
  2. If you can do the simple arithmetic that I did at the beginning of this post, then you can figure out that there are very large groups of students who do these things that you are not supposed to do. There are over twenty thousand students at UVa, and so I have to conclude that nearly a thousand of them have gotten in a fight while they were drunk. The first two rules of Fight Club might be not to talk about Fight Club, but they evidently still have quite a few members in their Charlottesville chapter.

The only part that I can’t figure out about all of this is why anyone would think that such a ridiculous campaign would work in the first place. Yes, people are very sensitive to what their peers are doing, but people also already have a pretty good idea of how much their peers are drinking and posters with these messages certainly aren’t going to change that.

PS – Please double-check to make sure that your friends would actually call an ambulance for you if you needed one. Apparently, a fair number of my peers wouldn’t.

The Angry Men are once again pleased to welcome a new voice of anger to the fold. In keeping with our belief in the healing power of anger, we present the Angry Virginian in his own words, writing about his recent epiphany:

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Once upon a time, I didn’t understand conservatives at all. I mean, what is it that they have against poor people? Why do they like violence so much? Why don’t they care about the future of our planet? They just seemed like a bunch of greedy and hypocritical old men to me.

Then, a funny thing happened that turned my view of conservatives on its head. It wasn’t George Bush’s election – He seemed like a harmless nitwit, and by himself, he didn’t do much to change my view on anything. It wasn’t even the September 11 attacks, as I’m the sort of person who believes that whatever was a good (or bad) idea on September 10 was still just as good (or bad) an idea on September 12. However, the United States’ response to the September 11 attacks, which has been inefficient at best and utterly terrifying at worst, dramatically changed the way I view politics, government, and international affairs.

First and foremost, I learned why so many conservatives don’t like big government. When you realize for the first time that your tax dollars are being spent on things that are stupid and unethical… well, you get mad. You get frustrated. You realize that when the government does something wrong, it does it on such a vast scale and with so much momentum that there is little (if anything) the private sector could do to counteract it. Previous presidents might have been sleazy or inconsistent, but they didn’t waste too much of my country’s time and money doing it. George W. Bush taught me just how wrong the government could go, and he made me wonder if maybe government is inherently bad after all. It’s a possibility that I hadn’t considered – Thank you, George, for pointing that out.

Speaking of evils that I hadn’t believed in before, how about some more government surveillance? I participated in a protest so that I could speak out against the invasion of Iraq – Does that mean I’m on a government watch list now? I mean, I have nothing to hide, but that shouldn’t mean squat. The idea that expressing one’s political views and participating in public debate could be punished by the United States Government is deeply and truly disturbing. All of those gun-toting libertarians who have been fretting about Big Brother don’t seem so paranoid any more.

There’s another area where Bush has made me more conservative. For many years, liberals (myself included) have favored increased federal power, as the states dragged their feet in providing many Americans with fair treatment and essential liberties. However, as the federal government now seems to be more in the business of discrimination and restricting rights than many of the states are, my attitude is shifting. As long as certain powers are reserved to the states (hey, it’s that Bill of Rights again!), then I will always have the option to leave my embarrassingly-red home state for somewhere more civilized and yet stay in the United States.

To sum it all up:

  • If my taxes are funding a pointless war, then I want my taxes to be cut.
  • If law enforcement is being directed to go after pacifist old-ladies, then maybe I really do to hide from the government and buy a gun.
  • If the federal government is going to be so stupid, then maybe some power needs to be given back to the states.

Living under the Bush administration has taught me that these conservative ideas make a lot more sense than I thought.