|05-23-2006, 12:53 PM||#31|
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Nov 2002
Local Time: 01:07 PM
Dr. Rice's speech at Boston College__________________
Interesting -great advice but does the Bush administration live in such an eco chamber? Some or many might say yes
"This can be unsettling and it can be tempting instead to opt for the false comfort of a life without questions. Unfortunately, that's easier to do than ever. It's possible today to live in an eco-chamber that serves only to reinforce your own high opinion of yourself and what you think. That is a temptation that educated people have a responsibility to reject. There is nothing wrong with holding an opinion and holding it passionately. But at those times when you're absolutely sure that you are right, go find somebody who disagrees. Don't allow yourself the easy course of the constant "amen" to everything that you say. "
|05-23-2006, 04:25 PM||#32|
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Oct 2001
Local Time: 05:07 PM
I'm sorry if you don't understand the role that tanks play in conventional warfare, especially in regards to central Europe in the last half of the 20th century. Tanks are far from being irrelevant to the point as I was making as there are few other single weapon systems, where more money was invested, and that would have a major impact on any battle that occured at that time. The United States Army, The Soviet Army, The West German Army, the Israely Army especially, were all built around the TANK during the Cold War. Even in the 21st century, most US Army Divisions are Tank Divisions with all other equipment and units within the division playing supporting roles to the tank. I used one example to make a point, but I could have used hundreds. Sorry I did not take the time to do so.
The technical military capabilities of NATO vs. the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact forces in Europe are the primary reason for the need for the Reagan defense build up of the 1980s. The idea that the military overestimated the capabilities of the Soviet Union to line the pockets of corporations is pure liberal fantasy. As absurd as the idea that LBJ murdered JFK.
The CIA was far from being the only intelligence organization that recognized the Soviet threat. West German intelligence, British intelligence as well as Israely intelligence and experience in fighting Arab client states, all reflect the findings of the CIA. Ever hear of the London based think tank the IISS? You'll find their numbers and assessments right in line with what the CIA and the US Army found. I've talked directly to Army personal who were spies in Eastern Europe during the time who would observe Soviet military manuevers and would sneak into armory's to photograph and gain intelligence on new Soviet equipment. These men risked their lives to get this crucial intelligence and some were killed in the act of getting this intelligence.
Most importantly, as the Cold War ended, it was found that most estimates about total Soviet Tank strength as well as other equipment holdings had actually been underestimated by the US Military, CIA, and other organizations. The Soviet Union announced their equipment holdings as negotions on Conventional Force reductions for Europe started in 1989, it was found that the Soviet Union had a little over 60,000 Main Battle Tanks, compared with Western Estimate of 53,000. The Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact forces had another 20,000 Tanks for a combined total of 80,000 tanks! Yep, its just one example, but you can go through the list of Armored Personal Carries, Artillery Pieces, Attack Helicopters, Combat Aircraft etc., and you'll see the same results.
These facts were proven through the inspection and verification process for the CFE treaty at the end of the Cold War. In terms of raw numbers of equipment, the West had slightly underestimated the Soviet threat. The greater numbers of troops and equipment that the Soviet Warsaw Pact forces had vs. NATO is an indisputable fact! The quality of such equipment as well as the training of the troops are the other key factors, but it is a well known military fact that if numbers are high enough, they can overwhelm a smaller and better trained force, as the Soviets found out in World War II fighting the Germans on the Eastern front. But its not as though the Soviets totally shunned the issue of quality in regards to their equipment. By the 1970s, some Soviet Equipment was equal to or even slightly better in some respects than similar western equipment.
With little to no qualitatative advantage in ground equipment in the 1970s and massive imbalance when it came to raw numbers of Armored and Mechanized Divisions, West Germany, the United Kingdom, and United States invested heavily in new military equipment to reverse the military imbalance that had developed with respect to a potential confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Europe. West Germany actually built the most expensive tank at the time per unit, called the Leopard II. The United States in fact considered purchasing the Leopard II but instead went with the cheaper M1 Tank which turned out to be the better tank anyway. The British developed the advanced Challenger Tank which was also expensive. All of these tanks went into full production and deployment in the early 1980s to help reverse the serious imbalance between NATO and Warsaw Pact military capabilities in Europe.
Armored Personal Carriers prior to the 1980s in NATO had mainly just been a vehicle for transporting infantry and had no serious anti-tank role. In response to the increased Warsaw Pact threat, Germany, the UK and the US developed the Marder, Warrier Fighting Vehicle and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle respectively. These vehicles turned the Armored Personal Carrier into what many called and IFV, Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Each vehicle was fited with new modern Anti-Tank missile launchers, Milan for the Germans, Swingfire for the British, and TOW II for the US. In addition, each vehicle was fitted with a small calliber auto-cannon that could penetrate light armor, as well as engage infantry with an anti-personal round. These were very important new capabilities and helped to increase the combat strength of any division that received such vehicles. It was required because of the Soviet tank threat, but also because the Soviets had already developed and deployed these type of vehicles recently called the BMP which had a small auto-cannon and a AT-3 Sagger anti-Tank missile launcher.
I could go into further detail on the above two subjects, and of course then there are other types equipment. This is really to much to discuss, but I think one gets the point.
As for the Soviet Union and whether it was disintegrating, this was always something that was hoped could eventually happen since the policy of containment was put in place by President Truman. But no one knew when or if this would happen. That does not mean some people believed certain things or had certain theory's that happen to fit with what has happened today. We have cases like North Korea, where the stress on the population and country is even greater, but there has yet to be a collapse.
While the strain on the Soviet Union during the first 40 years of the Cold War was great, it was far from certain in the early 1980s that the Soviet Union was within a decade of collapse. In fact, had the coup against Gorbachav succeeded in August 1991, the Cold War and the Soviet Union may not have ended in 1991.
What was certain, was the numbers and capabilities of Warsaw Pact forces VS. NATO at the time and the necessity to offset those capabilities as quickly as possible through a rapid defense build up. The inspection and verfication process of the CFE treaty, starting in 1989, showed that western intelligence had slightly underestimated Soviet equipment holdings. The West now has possession of the latest in Soviet technology in regards to wide variety of equipment from the 1970s and 1980s. Western intelligence in regards to the capability of this equipment at the time has proven to be correct and in some cases underestimated top of the line Soviet equipment.
Too many people ignore the 20,000 French Civilians who died from Allied Bombing in the D-Day campaign, during the liberation of France. Does that fact cause you to seriously question or change your view on the necessity of the operation?
What the United States did and accomplished during the Cold War has provided us with the World we live in today, which is more prosperous and democratic than at any time in human history. It was not without mistakes and the deaths of innocent people, but neither was World War II and other major crises that have threatened the planet.
|05-23-2006, 05:12 PM||#33|
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Local Time: 01:07 PM
[q]I'm sorry if you don't understand the role that tanks play in conventional warfare, especially in regards to central Europe in the last half of the 20th century. Tanks are far from being irrelevant to the point as I was making as there are few other single weapon systems, where more money was invested, and that would have a major impact on any battle that occured at that time. [/q]
this is a textbook example of missing the forest for the trees.
i am also dismayed at your total lack of remorse for the innocent blood spilled in the name of implementing American foreign policy, not to mention the dictators -- Suhartro, Pinochet, Hussein -- we've installed or the armies we've supplied -- the muhajadeen, the Iranians. and such policies have come back to haunt us, certainly in some ways on 9-11, but also in the democratic elections of clearly Lefist governments in Central and South America in recent years.
anyway, to compare this to D-Day is completely inapplicable in so many ways to doesn't merit much of a response beyond pointing out how ludicrous it is.
to compare it to how the Soviet Union also fought the Cold War via proxy is a better comparison.
anyway, to get to the only part of your essay that even invites some sort of response ...
[q]The technical military capabilities of NATO vs. the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact forces in Europe are the primary reason for the need for the Reagan defense build up of the 1980s. The idea that the military overestimated the capabilities of the Soviet Union to line the pockets of corporations is pure liberal fantasy. As absurd as the idea that LBJ murdered JFK[/q]
this is completely incorrect. you've entirely ignored "Team B," and you've also ignored the basic premise of the military industrial complex.
unlike the rest of the world, the US stood alone after WW2 as the only great nation that hadn't been bombed ior incinerated and it's countryside marked by mass graves. by the late 40s, we had the emergence of the national-security state and the Cold War, the paranoid excesses of the McCarthy era, and most importantly the fusion of military and business interest to produce bigger, costlier and more destructive weapons. coincident to that, the country was intentionally kept on permanent war footing by leaders intentionally keeping the public in a state of paranoia.
the term "military industrial complex" comes from that Republicana nd war hero Eisenhower who knew very well how pet military programs metastisize into expensive pork projects for wepons taht don't work, bases that aren't needed, planes that are outmoded before they ever take to the sky. whenever popular support for military spending wanes, politicians and efense lobbyists exploit America's sense of anxiety and vulnerability -- from JFK's "missile gap" to Reagan's "Star Wars" to the "Axis of Evil" -- and with the news networks playing no small part in this. liberal media, indeed.
it seems to happen most whenever Republcians are in charge. American foreign policy gets commandeered by neoconservative ideologues (the boys from the 1970s, the Bushes and Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld are back). what's more important is that there's been a harmonic convergence in recent years between the Pentagon and corporations. think-tankers, lobbyists, former military officers, and politicians move easily between public and private sectors to serve on the boards of corporations that do business with the Pentagon, VP Cheney being the most obvious example.
i'll end this for now, as i don't want to make the mistake of writing a myopic tome and preventing dialogue, but to tie this back into the thread -- simply voting for defense spending, especially in the 1980s, does not make one "right," nor is this how the US "won" the Cold War. as military power increases (and just compare the spending of the US compared to the budgets of the rest of the world), politicians are more inclined to use the military to achieve political goals than they might otherwise be.
the result is more death, and more suffering, especially amongst those with the least to lose.
i'll leave us with this:
[q]A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction...
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
oh, and Eisenhower originally called it the military-industrial-congressional complex.
|05-25-2006, 01:00 PM||#34|
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Local Time: 01:07 PM
By Ann Coulter
Thu May 25, 10:41 AM ET
This week the world gasped in awe at the raw heroism of Jean Rohe, the student at the New School who gave a speech attacking the commencement speaker, Republican Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), at the commencement ceremony.
We mostly heard about Rohe's bravery from Rohe -- and, really, who is in a better position to judge? As Rohe herself put it: "If there's one thing that I know about myself, it is that I care for people, and in that sense I have a great deal of character."
According to her posted biography, Rohe "grew up singing and performing folk music with her family. Jean spent a year at Smith College followed by a summer at the Universidad de la Habana in Cuba on scholarship where she honed her Spanish skills, learned about Cuban history, culture and politics, and made some of her dearest friends" -- mostly while waiting in line for hours and hours each day to get toilet paper.
In other words, Rohe is just a typical all-American girl, right down to a stint in Castro's Cuba.
In an unintentionally ironic article about her brave decision to attack the commencement speaker, Rohe describes going around campus the day before her speech and discovering how overwhelmingly popular it would be to attack McCain. At two graduation ceremonies a day earlier, attacks on McCain brought wild cheers from the audience.
See, where I come from, sucking up to the audience is not called "courageous." It's called "toadying."
Every place Rohe went that day she ran into students and faculty fashioning armbands and preparing their protests. As she said: "The situation seemed pretty serious."
Literally every person Rohe talked to the day before the ceremony opposed the war in Iraq and hated McCain with blind fury. Her mother -- the one who tortured the children by making them sing folk songs -- wept when Rohe read her illiterate speech over the phone.
Rohe's resolve to tell the audience what it wanted to hear, guaranteeing wild standing ovations for herself, was only hardened when she was told there would be media at the event.
While some might say it was gutless to suck up to the audience by insulting an invited guest, they didn't understand the incredible risks Rohe was taking by attacking a Republican at the New School: You'll be a pariah in the West Village! You'll never sing in a jazz club on the Lower East Side again! And don't even think about setting foot on the Upper West Side!
As Rohe later said: "It was something I didn't want to do, but knew I had to out of an obligation to my own values" -- which happened to be the exact same values as the entire audience, the faculty, her fellow students, her boyfriend and her mother, each of whom shared the value of being rude to an invited guest who also happened to be a Republican, a U.S. senator and decorated war hero.
And so Rohe attacked McCain's speech before he delivered it, with such devastating ripostes as this:
"Sen. McCain will tell us that we, those of us who are Americans, 'have nothing to fear from each other.' I agree strongly with this, but I take it one step further. We have nothing to fear from anyone on this living planet."
Except all the people who want to kill us.
Such as, for example, Osama bin Laden -- and that's according to Rohe, who is furious with Bush for not having caught him yet. Isn't Osama a person "on this living planet"? Does she think we have something to fear from him?
I'm sorry to be a snob, but this trusting view of terrorists is hard enough to take from smart liberals. When I have to hear the New School version of it, my eyeballs have rolled not only out of their sockets but out of the building.
Maybe in her heart of hearts, Rohe does think Bush is an imbecile, McCain a lout, and the war is wrong. Maybe she would think so even if she had ever met someone who holds a different opinion.
But then she should just admit: "I know, I know. I'm an utterly conventional brown-noser, the very definition of going-with-the-flow, middle-of-the pack, finger-to-the-wind follower, who doesn't have the candlepower to resist conforming to the beliefs of everyone around me -- but that's what I think."
If you want to find the cool, anti-establishment rebels who don't answer to "The Man" on college campuses today, you have to go to a meeting of the College Republicans. They are rebelling against at least 99 percent of their professors. Even the original '60s anti-war protesters were rebelling against at least 5 percent of their professors. Today's college liberals ape the beliefs of 99 percent of their professors and then pretend they're on-the-edge radicals.
We've always had to endure goody two-shoes apple-polishers -- kids with their hands always up, who turn in talkers when the teacher leaves the classroom and volunteer for extra work after school. But not until today's college liberals have we ever had to suffer the effrontery of the ass-kissers telling us: "I'm bad -- I clean erasers for teachers after class because I'm (BEGIN ITAS)baaad."
I don't care what liberals think. I don't care that they're spineless suck-ups. Just don't insult my intelligence by telling me they're brave.
|05-25-2006, 06:06 PM||#35|
Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: The back of beyond
Local Time: 12:07 PM
Funny how Ann Coulter totally ignores the fact that by criticizing a prominent member of the GOP in a very public forum that Rohe was running the very real risk of getting insulted and having her character called into question by people like Coulter and all the other right-wing pundits. That can't be a lot of fun. Oh, and Rohe's probably got her name on some kind of government watch list as we speak. (Just kidding - I hope).
|06-05-2006, 07:48 AM||#36|
Blue Crack Addict
Join Date: Nov 2002
Local Time: 01:07 PM
[Pours water into a glass at the podium, splashes face and back of neck]__________________
Thank you. Thank you very much. First of all, I’m facing a little bit of a conundrum here. My name is Stephen Colbert, but I actually play someone on television named Stephen Colbert, who looks like me, and who talks like me, but who says things with a straight face he doesn’t mean. And I’m not sure which one of us you invited to speak here today. So, with your indulgence, I’m just going to talk and I’m going to let you figure it out.
I wanted to say something about the Umberto Eco quote that was used earlier from The Name of the Rose. That book fascinated me because in it these people are killed for trying to get out of this library a book about comedy, Aristotle’s Commentary on Comedy. And what’s interesting to me is one of the arguments they have in the book is that comedy is bad because nowhere in the New Testament does it say that Jesus laughed. It says Jesus wept, but never did he laugh.
But, I don’t think you actually have to say it for us to imagine Jesus laughing. In the famous episode where there’s a storm on the lake, and the fishermen are out there. And they see Jesus on the shore, and Jesus walks across the stormy waters to the boat. And St. Peter thinks, “I can do this. I can do this. He keeps telling us to have faith and we can do anything. I can do this.” So he steps out of the boat and he walks for—I don’t know, it doesn’t say—a few feet, without sinking into the waves. But then he looks down, and he sees how stormy the seas are. He loses his faith and he begins to sink. And Jesus hot-foots it over and pulls him from the waves and says, “Oh you of little faith.” I can’t imagine Jesus wasn’t suppressing a laugh. How hilarious must it have been to watch Peter—like Wile E. Coyote—take three steps on the water and then sink into the waves.
Well it’s an honor to be giving your Commencement address here today at Knox College. I want to thank Mr. Podesta for asking me two, two and a half years ago, was it? Something like that? We were in Aspen. You know...being people who go to Aspen. He asked me if I would give a speech at Knox College, and I think it was the altitude, but I said yes. I’m very glad that I did.
On a beautiful day like this I’m reminded of my own graduation 20 years ago, at Northwestern University. I didn’t start there, I finished there. On the graduation day, a beautiful day like this. We’re all in our gowns. I go up on the podium to get my leather folder with my diploma in it. And as I get it from the Dean, she leans in close to me and she smiles, and she says...[train whistle] that’s my ride, actually. I have got to get on that train, I’m sorry. [Heads off stage.] Evidently that happens a lot here. ...So, I’m getting my folder, and the Dean leans into me, shakes my hand and says, “I’m sorry.” I have no idea what she means. So I go back to my seat and I open it up. And, instead of having a diploma inside, there’s a scrap—a torn scrap of paper—that has scrawled on it, “See me.” I kid you not.
Evidently I had an incomplete in an independent study that I had failed to complete. And I did not have enough credits. And, let me tell you, when your whole family shows up and you get to have your picture taken with them—and instead of holding up your diploma, you hold the torn corner of a yellow legal pad—that is a humbling experience. But eventually, I finished. I got my credits and next year at Christmas time, they have mid-year graduation. And I went there to get my diploma then. They said that I had an overdue library fine and they wouldn’t give it to me again. And they eventually mailed it to me...I think. I’m pretty sure I graduated from college.
But I guess the question is, why have a two-time commencement loser like me speak to you today? Well, one of the reasons they already mentioned...I recovered from that slow start. And I was recently named by Time magazine one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World! Yeah! Give it up for me! Basic cable...THE WORLD! I guess I have more fans in Sub-Saharan Africa than I thought. I’m right here on the cover between Katie Couric and Bono. That’s my little picture—a sexy little sandwich between those two.
But if you do the math, there are 100 Most Influential People in the World. There are 6.5 billion people in the world. That means that today I am here representing 65 million people. That’s as big as some countries. What country has about 65 million people? Iran? Iran has 65 million people. So, for all intents and purposes, I’m here representing Iran today. Don’t shoot.
But the best reason for me to come to speak at Knox College is that I attended Knox College. This is part of my personal history that you will rarely see reported. Partly because the press doesn’t do the proper research. But mostly because…it is not true! I just made it up, so this moment would be more poignant for all of us. How great would it be if I could actually come back here—if I was coming back to my alma mater to be honored like this. I could share with you all my happy memories that I spent here in...Galesburg, Illinois. Hanging out at the Seymour Hall, right? Seymour Hall? You know, all of us alumni, we remember being at Seymour Hall, playing those drinking games. We played a drinking game called Lincoln-Douglas. Great game. What you do is, you act out the Lincoln-Douglas debate and any time one of the guys mentions the Dred Scott decision you have to chug a beer. Well, technically 3/5 of a beer. [groans from audience]
You DO have a good education! I wasn’t sure if anybody was going to get that joke.
I soon learned that a frat house—oops—divided against itself cannot stand.
How can I forget cheering on the team—the Knox College Knockers? The Prairie Fire. Seriously, the Prairie Fire. Your team is named after something that can get you federal disaster relief. I assume the “Flash Floods” was taken.
Oh, yes, the memories are so fresh. It was as if it was just yesterday I made them up. And the history, you don’t have to tell me the history of Knox College. No, your Web site is very thorough. The college itself has long been known for its diversity. I am myself a supporter of diversity. I myself have an interracial marriage. I am Irish and my wife is Scottish. But we work it out. And it is fitting, most fitting, that I should speak at Knox College today because it was founded by abolitionists. And I gotta say—I’m going to go out on the limb here—I believe slavery was wrong. No, I don’t care who that upsets. I just hope the mainstream media give me the credit for the courage it took to say that today. I know the blogosphere is just going to explode tomorrow. But enough about me.... if there can be enough about me.
Today is about you—you who have worked so hard to pack your heads with learning until your skulls are all plump like—sausage of knowledge. It’s an apt metaphor, don’t question it. But now your time at college is at an end. Now you are leaving here. And this leads me to a question that just isn’t asked enough at commencements. Why are you leaving here?
This seems like a very nice place. They have a lovely Web site. Besides, have you seen the world outside lately? They are playing for KEEPS out there, folks. My God, I couldn’t wait to get here today just so I could take a breather from the real world. I don’t know if they told you what’s happened while you’ve matriculated here for the past four years. The world is waiting for you people with a club. Unprecedented changes happening in the last four years. Like globalization. We now live in a hyperconnected, global economic, outsourced society. Now there are positives and minuses here. And a positive is that globalization helps us understand and learn from otherwise foreign cultures. For example, I now know how to ask for a Happy Meal in five different languages. In Paris, I’d like a “Repas Heureux” In Madrid a “Comida Feliz” In Calcutta, a “Kushkana, hold the beef.” In Tokyo, a “Happy Seto” And in Berlin, I can order what is perhaps the least happy-sounding Happy Meal, a “Glugzig Malzeiht.”
Also globalization, e-mail, cell phones interconnect our nations like never before. It is possible for even the most insulated American to have friends from all over the world. For instance, I recently received an e-mail asking me to help a deposed Nigerian prince who is looking for a business partner to recuperate his fortune. Thanks to the flexibility of global banking, a Swiss bank account is ready and waiting for my share of his money. I know, because I just e-mailed him my Social Security number.
Unfortunately for you job seekers, corporations searching for a better bottom line have moved many of their operations overseas, whether it’s a customer service operator, a power factory foreman, or an American flag manufacturer. They’re just as likely to be found in Shanghai as Omaha. In fact, outsourcing is so easy that I had this speech today written by a young man named Panjeeb from Bangalore.
If you don’t like the jokes, I assure you they were much funnier in Urdu...
And when you enter the workforce, you will find competition from those crossing our all-too-poorest borders. Now I know you’re all going to say, “Stephen, Stephen, immigrants built America.” Yes, but here’s the thing—it’s built now. I think it was finished in the mid-70s sometime. At this point it’s a touch-up and repair job. But thankfully Congress is acting and soon English will be the official language of America. Because if we surrender the national anthem to Spansih, the next thing you know, they’ll be translating the Bible. God wrote it in English for a reason! So it could be taught in our public schools.
So we must build walls. A wall obviously across the entire southern border. That’s the answer. That may not be enough—maybe a moat in front of it, or a fire-pit. Maybe a flaming moat, filled with fire-proof crocodiles. And we should probably wall off the northern border as well. Keep those Canadians with their socialized medicine and their skunky beer out. And because immigrants can swim, we’ll probably want to wall off the coasts as well. And while we’re at it, we need to put up a dome, in case they have catapults. And we’ll punch some holes in it so we can breathe. Breathe free. It’s time for illegal immigrants to go—right after they finish building those walls. Yes, yes, I agree with me.
There are so many challenges facing this next generation, and as they said earlier, you are up for these challenges. And I agree, except that I don’t think you are. I don’t know if you’re tough enough to handle this. You are the most cuddled generation in history. I belong to the last generation that did not have to be in a car seat. You had to be in car seats. I did not have to wear a helmet when I rode my bike. You do. You have to wear helmets when you go swimming, right? In case you bump your head against the side of the pool. Oh, by the way, I should have said, my speech today may contain some peanut products.
My mother had 11 children: Jimmy, Eddie, Mary, Billy, Morgan, Tommy, Jay, Lou, Paul, Peter, Stephen. You may applaud my mother’s womb. Thank you, I’ll let her know. She could never protect us the way you all have been protected. She couldn’t fit 11 car seats. She would just open the back of her Town & Country—stack us like cord wood: four this way, four that way. And she put crushed glass in the empty spaces to keep it steady. Then she would roll up all the windows in the winter time and light up a cigarette. When I die I will not need to be embalmed, because as a child my mother hickory-smoked me.
I mean even these ceremonies are too safe. I mean this mortarboard...look, it’s padded. It’s padded everywhere. When I graduated from college, we had the edges sharpened. When we threw ours up in the air, we knew some of us weren’t coming home.
But you have one thing that may save you, and that is your youth. This is your great strength. It is also why I hate and fear you. Hear me out. It has been said that children are our future. But does that not also mean that we are their past? You are here to replace us. I don’t understand why we’re here helping and honoring them. You do not see union workers holding benefits for robots.
But you seem nice enough, so I’ll try to give you some advice. First of all, when you go to apply for your first job, don’t wear these robes. Medieval garb does not instill confidence in future employers—unless you’re applying to be a scrivener. And if someone does offer you a job, say yes. You can always quit later. Then at least you’ll be one of the unemployed as opposed to one of the never-employed. Nothing looks worse on a resume than nothing.
So, say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors—you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.
Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.
Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
And that’s The Word.
I have two last pieces of advice. First, being pre-approved for a credit card does not mean you have to apply for it. And lastly, the best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show. It pays well, the hours are good, and you are famous. And eventually some very nice people will give you a doctorate in fine arts for doing jack squat.
Congratulations to the class of 2006. Thank you for the honor of addressing you.
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