Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Walter Williams OK's Discrimination

First things first--I misread Ross Mackenzie's article yesterday. For some reason I put Ponyang in China rather than North Korea where it actually is. So I apologize for that mistake, and promise you i will almost certainly make that kind of mistake again.

Moving on to today's article, we have the sad spector of Walter Williams shilling for racism.

There are those who would argue that Walter Williams decision to embrace conservatism makes him a sellout to his race (Williams is Black), but I am not one of them. I understand that the Conservative Viewpoint has positive aspects for all races, and I don't think any American owes political allegience to one party or point of view by virtue of the color of their skin.

But what Williams supports today is dispicable. He states, "Suppose leaving your workplace you see a full-grown tiger standing outside the door. Most people would endeavor to leave the area in great dispatch. That prediction isn't all that interesting, but the question why is. Is your decision to run based on any detailed information about that particular tiger, or is it based on tiger folklore and how you've seen other tigers behaving? It's probably the latter.

"You simply pre-judge that tiger; you stereotype him."

OK Williams let me put forward this argument, one I don't believe but that is believed in many places in this country (and not just in "the red states." Black people are self evidently dangerous. They are stronger physically, given to violence as a way to solve their problems, and have resentments against normal (white) America. The Government and the Law should be careful to keep thse potential menaces under control, by locking as many of them up as possible, and keeping the rest in a state of terror and fear.

Why not?

Well for one thing, people aren't tigers. Conservatives are always telling America that Mankind is not made up of animals but when it comes down to it, you really mean, many human beings are not animals (the white upper and upper middle class), and others are (blacks, hispanics, "white trash," etc.).

My scenario mentioned above is one interpretation of America's draconian drug laws, and it's interpretation that has a lot of validity.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

War Without End

Two articles today about the current clash between the West and El Islam.

Ros Coward wrote in the Guardian UK, published at about the recent Nigerian Riots over the Miss World competition. His basic theme is that we need to choose more carefully which values we take with us into the third world. He's careful to position this incident, and the bombing in a Bali night club as the third world responding to Western Cultural Imperialism. He states, ". . . casual imperialism caused offence when the west paraded its interests and values as self-evidently desirable. Now the reluctance to attack representatives of western values has disappeared even among those with no involvement in extremist organizations." In other words, it was the clubber's fault for daring to dance in a Muslim Country. The deaths and injuries are legitimate when inflicted on Western Imperialists.

The use of the Miss World pageant is a helpful springboard to attacking this issue. It makes the west look petty and vulgar. Well enough. But unless people are free to be petty and vulgar, they aren't free. What about the young girl in Nigeria who sees what the Miss World contestants have to offer? Who desires the freedom and opportunity that women in the west desire? Is Mr. Coward comfortable condemning her to a life of near slavery to satisfy his anti imperialist world view?

The second article, by Ross Mackenzie, at discusses the ongoing war and is so filled with lies and half truths and misleading statements its breathtaking. Lets take a look at one paragraph.

"They said - remember? - Bush II, the graduate of both Yale and Harvard, is stupid. They said he wasn't really president and couldn't lead. They said he could not get an enabling resolution for Iraq through Congress, but he did - with a majority of congressional Democrats voting against him. They said he could not prevail in the UN Security Council, but he did - unanimously. They said he could not enlist the NATO allies, but next week he likely will - just watch. One day soon he may even win over a majority of the Arab regimes as well."

I'm not sure that Bush has escaped permanently his label as stupid, but lets leave that aside. "They said he wasn't really president and couldn't lead." Well of course this fails to take into account the huge bump in popularity Bush received after September 11. Americans are going to follow a president in war; it's what we do.

"They said he could not get an enabling resolution for Iraq through Congress, but he did - with a majority of congressional Democrats voting against him." I don't know what the final vote was off the top of my head, but it's clear that Bush could not have received his resolution with out the support of many Congressional Democrats. More to the point, the debate wasn't about whether or not Bush could get permission, but whether or not he would seek it.

"They said he could not prevail in the UN Security Council, but he did - unanimously." Again the issue wasn't that He couldn't get permission (although odds were against him), but whether or not he would go to the UN or decide to invade Iraq unilaterally. I'm personally glad that he decided to work within the UN, but there were many commentators on the right who argued that UN approval was unnecessary and in some ways detrimental.

McKenzie argues straightforwardly for an ongoing war against the Arab/Islamic world in order to eliminate anti American sentiment in that region. Good plan. And then, in a fit of insanity, argues for war against China, after we have finished off Iraq.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Two quick things. Thank you to Ms. Kate Seller for correcting me. It was not the Canadian Prime Minister but an aide of his who called President bush a moron.

The other is that I am on the road the next couple of days--i should be able to update ok, but in case i don't, that's why.

Have a nice day.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Your weekly Rush

Apparently the Canadian Prime Minister called President Bush a moron this week. You might think this would push all of Limbaugh’s buttons, but it didn’t. Instead Rush encouraged his fans to laugh at it.

One of Rush’s prevailing opinions is that the United States should export liberalism around the world so that all the other countries will be messed up and Americas power will increase. This reflects the common American perception that all the other countries in the world are merely bit players in the American Drama. Canada forms no important opinions on it’s own, but merely reacts to the United States. Rush is proud of his uniculturalism, and unlikely to care very much about this criticism, but the rest of you should realize after a moments reflection that all the nations of the earth are full of people trying to make their life the best they can, who make decisions often based on local issues or challenges and who do not focus on the United States twenty four hours a day.

Friday, November 22, 2002

On Slander

"Great wisdom is generous; petty wisdom is contentious. Great speech is impassioned, small speech is cantankerous." Chuang-Tzu (4th century BC)

Well one of the big stories of this week is that Senator Daschle thinks that Rush is inciting people to kill him. Possibly. If you look at it right. Senator Daschle is known for making reckless statements on occasion, and having them blow up in his face.

Thomas Sowell wrote on this issue in, making an argument that Republicans have had it far harder over the years. He repeats the tired refrain that Liberals demonized Conservatives over social security, welfare, civil rights etc. What he does not comment on is Rush and other Conservative speakers attacks on Democrats for treason, for being soft on communism, for being pro-drug, pro-crime, pro-abortion.

It reminds me, as it must remind many of the old scene where a parent comes in a room to stop children fighting. Both kids are anxious to argue that the other kid started it. The parent rarely cares, but merely wants the fighting to stop. One wonders when America’s ideologues are going to stop fighting over whose fault this rancor is.

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Fear

I regularly enjoy the writers at They are often articulate and thoughtful. Their writing on the impending war today, however, struck a shrill and paranoid tone.

Doug Thompson wrote of the homeland security bill calling it the American Gestapo. He states, “these fears have forced America to abandon its principles and create a police state.” Admittedly some of the powers granted in the name of Homeland Security are scary, particularly those related to the surveillance of Americans. But calling it a Gestapo and painting it as a force that Bush will use to maintain political power is questionable in the extreme.

Seumas Milne, writing in the Guardian, states that “But there is little sign of any weakening of the wilful western refusal to address seriously the causes of Islamist terrorism.” What are the causes of Islamist terrorism against the United States?

The United States supports Israel. I believe we could put some pressure on Israel to move towards peace. But it is clear that the Islamist Terrorists for the most part are more interested in eliminating Israel all together.

Most of the rest of the arguments I hear coming from Islamist Terrorists have to do with our being in the middle east, or with our (and Western Europe’s) Secular, Christian, and Jewish societies. I hear dozens upon dozens of arguments coming from apologists for terror, but from the terrorists themselves, these are the only arguments. Does Thompson really expect the United States or his own Great Britain to convert to Islam en masse?

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Cathy I'm lost I said though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all come to look for America

America Simon And Garfunkel

Sorry this is a bad week for posting. Feeling a little run down. Thought I would comment on a piece by Pierre Tristam on the American Heartland. In it he comments on the mythical America that conservatives believe in. He takes a moment to attack the Great Plain States, or the Red States (truth to tell I’m not sure which area’s he’s talking about), commenting, “Red-blooded conservatism has never seemed so grim, so hungry for hand-outs, so capably deluding.”

I can understand Tristam’s point of view. Certainly Harvard is as American as small town Iowa. San Fancisco is as American as Saint Louis. On the other hand it’s easy enough for the left to swing back. Michael Moore, for example, talks all the time about the good hearted working class America that hates corporate America. I suspect we all want to see a sanitized America, an America with the bits we don’t like cut out, removed. However, cutting out those parts, whether they be in the corporate world, or on the streets, in the middle of the country, or on the coasts, would leave us just a little bit less America.

The Prestige oil tanker has been fallen apart in two

For those who don't know it, there has been an oil tanker disaster off the coast of portugal. According to AP, "Oil has already blackened beaches in northwestern Spain, and cleanup workers said scores of animals were covered in sludge and in need of care. Fishing has been prohibited leaving hundreds out of work. The oil threatened some of the richest fishing grounds in the region."

This story, and the other ones I've read don't talk about who is responsible other than the captain. There are indications that the ship was not checked as often as it should have been. The owner of the ship was Mare Shipping Incorporated, apparently an italian company. And if you want some fun, go to Google and get them to translate their webpage for you. The title comes from their webpage.

One problem with the environmental movement, among many others, is that they have allowed Conservatives and Corperations to portray them as alternatively only interested in animals or as doomsaying prophets. Here's a situation where a company, Mare Shipping, has caused a problem that will hurt hundreds of humans. Fishermen, as referenced above. It will hurt tourism in those areas, and there could be other consequences. Focus on the people, and don't let the captain of the vessel be demonized alone.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Nothing really stood out to me this week on Rush, except his continued contempt for modern music. I can understand not liking or appreciating trends in modern music. There are many I don’t like. But talking about how bad modern music makes one sound like a grouchy old man, and it doesn’t look good no matter who does it.

His brother, David Limbaugh, has written an article for which continues a Limbaugh tradition of describing the Poor. Limbaugh states, “Plus, any money they [the rich] save from the tax cuts will be money they earned themselves, not transfers from the poor or the government, neither of which produce wealth.”

You see, to the Limbaugh clan the Poor and the Unemployed are essentially the same. The Working Poor is a contradiction; if the poor were working they wouldn’t be poor. The wealthy create wealth all by themselves, presumably in a manner wholly unrelated to those factories one sees from time to time. Imagine the manager of your local Wal-mart running his store without the hundreds of employees, many of whom work at or near the poverty level. Many of whom may be working two or three jobs to maintain a family. And yet to the Limbaughs of the world (David or Rush), the working poor are irreverent.

Perhaps disposable.

The Wisdom of Solomon

It was kind of a slow week, and then all of a sudden we got several good articles. So several updates today. Probably.

First came across Norman Solomon through his book “The Trouble With Dilbert: How Corporate Culture Gets the Last Laugh.” In it he takes Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) for not writing cartoons that expose the horrors of large corporation capitalism. He also argues that by providing a safety valve for workplace anger, Scott Adams prevents the workers from getting mad enough to organize and change the system.

One of the ways you can tell an ideologue is that he is satisfied with the suffering of others if he believes it will lead to the changes he’s advocating. Norman Solomon wants to see capitalism over thrown, and as such is unhappy when management gives the workers some of the things they demand. He’d rather the workers suffer so that they will get angry enough to completely destroy the system.

Such thinking is not unique to the left. Certainly there are right commentators who take pleasure in the problems of California, which they attribute to Liberal Politicians.

Solomon’s latest article is a portrait of the future 50 years hence, in which there is only one media company (with the catchy name AT WONDERS), and the air is so bad that you have to wear a gas mask outside. Cheery. Of course in the future we’ll all have giant domes so the gas mask scenario isn’t really the future.

Solomon’s critiques of media are pretty much always old school, and ignore the internet. There are a lot of metaphors for the internet. Here’s one. It’s an infinite frontier. It’s being colonized. There are large ranches and small farms and tiny vegetable garden’s (like the site you are currently viewing.) Most people still get their news from Mainstream sources perhaps, but the numbers shrink ever year.

Now the Internet isn’t the best counter to the mainstream media. As I document pretty regularly, there are hundreds of different points of view online, all with “facts” backing them up. I personally like that. I like that I can visit websites of all different political factions and ideals.

But remember rule #1, which I haven’t mentioned yet, but is true. Ideologues hate democracy. You see the internet allows points of views from most American’s, and probably eventually all Americans. But if points of views are available everywhere, doesn’t that devalue the value of any one point of view? If an Ideology points the One True Path to ideology, than why have other points of view? Tough question. Because it’s clear on many issues that there is one right answer, and differing points of views don’t seem to add much value.

Still I believe in noisy boisterous and occasionally angry democracy.

Still to come, an analysis of Michelle Malkin’s “A Generation of Skanks” and Your Weekly Rush. Come on back.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

It's Thursday!

Sorry not much of a post tonight. Ann Coulter's and Ben Shapiro's columns posted today, but both are doing post election spin. It's nice that Ann Coulter is pushing to have the Democratic party renamed the Abortion party. And it's nice that young Ben has realized that he need never worry about liberals returning to power again. After all, "Americans are looking for more than radicalism with a friendly face." Nope, young Ben has realized that American's will see through liberals from now until the end of time.

Oh, and Ms. Coulter, some Democrats do know how a squirt gun works. I myself experimented with one this very evening. You see you pull the trigger and water shoots out one end, and also drips out the other end, thus wettening the hand. They aren't so tough to figure out.

Seriously, Ms. Coulter, are you for anything other than defeating the Democrats?

Wednesday, November 13, 2002


Well, one thing you have to say about Walter Williams; he’s consistent. Walter Williams believes in the strictest of interpretations of the constitution. He would abolish the departments of Education, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, etc.

In his latest article he attacks the generation that lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War. As he says, “There's no question that the "great" generation spared the world from external tyranny, but it has outdone any other generation in destroying both the letter and the spirit of our Constitution, and as such produced a form of tyranny for which there's little defense.”

Williams, like most ideologues, fears democracy. He admits readily that the growth of the government is reflective of the will of the people, but would presumably argue that the founders did not intend for the government to be reflective of the people. And he’s correct. Walter Williams, for example, was considered by the founders to be three/fifths of a person for purposes of representation. While I have enormous respect for the Founders, I don’t believe that they had the solutions to all problems America has faced or will face.

You might check out this article by Brett Dakin about “The Quiet American.” The movie was to be released before September 11, but was seen as too radical after that. The movie stars Brenden Fraser and Michael Caine--and apparently is opening in selected theaters. I don’t know much about it, other than it deals with the moral problems posed by the Vietnam War.

Also if you are reading this--please e-mail me any thoughts or questions you might have.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Don't Let it Get you Down

Well can’t find much to write on today. Bin Ladin is apparently alive and well, according to Most columnists are still doing post game analysis. One interesting column by Sean Wilentz appeared at Unfortunately it's on the pay side so I can't link to it. Wilentz argues that the recent republican gains in the South are probably linked to their support of the confederate flag. He may be right; and if so it's a troubling reminder that the Civil War is not all that long ago.

Rich Lowry wrote an article on a new Sonar System designed by the navy that may prove harmful to whales. He spends most of his article talking about what a submarine is and what it’s designed to do, suggesting Iranian subs (both of them) off the coast of Atlantic City or San Francisco “launching a cruise missile or disgorging an operative to carry a suitcase nuke into a city.”

Then he makes the standard environmental argument about how whales have no problem using sonar attacks to stun their prey. This proves that Whales are hypocrites for being critical of our use of sonar. So the next time you see a whale speaking on Face the Nation or Hardball, you'll know to discount anything he says. Of course, humans, who speak on behalf of whales have no such sonar powers, and so are not being hypocritical in their suggestions.

He then ends with a neat bit of historical revisionism. “Liberals opposing the Cold War used to preach "Better red than dead."“ Of course the phrase was “better dead than red” was much more popular. The right made use of that and other cold war slogans to attack their political enemies. "Better Red than Dead" was a reaction by some in the far left to this more common phase.

Monday, November 11, 2002

More Post Election Commentary

Well the writers at are not very happy. I use and for most of my research these days. Both collect at least 7-8 articles a day, usually on a fair range of subjects. There is some differences between the two however. I find that has a greater diversity of opinion. While there are certainly hard-line conservatives, such as Oliver North, and David Limbaugh, there are also contrarian voices such as Pat Buchanan (who has consistently opposed invading Iraq), and Steve Chapman (who wrote an excellent article today on the futility of Ashcroft fighting a war against drugs and a war against terrorism at the same time).

At, however, the viewpoints are much more homogenous. There are very very few words of praise for President Bush, for example. also prints a number of articles from outside the United States, although they are all about the United States. In Sunday’s edition, they printed an article by William Hutton from the Guardian UK about how terribly messed up the United States is now that we’ve elected a Conservative Congress. As he says, “America is not a happy place.”

I don’t know, I suspect a good percentage of American’s are happy--at least 30 percent or so, and possibly more. Last Thursday America had a chance to speak it’s mind, and it did. I’m not sure I like what came out any more than Mr. Hutton. I think, however, it’s nonsensical to assume (baring massive voter fraud) that the American People didn’t know what they were doing last Tuesday.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

Rush was pretty difficult to enjoy this week. His incredible joy about the election was not enjoyable. On Thursday, Rush said, “We ran on optimism and the future, not Mondull's pessimism and the 70s. (Somebody tell me the last time anything about George W. Bush made you feel pessimistic.)” Hmmmmmm. I don’t want this nation to invade Iraq and yet that seems inevitable. I’d like to see tighter corporate oversight, and yet Wall Street is ebullient because it seems that that is not likely to happen under Bush’s administration.

My biggest problem with Bush is this. It’s a hallmark of conservative thought that those who are wealthy and in power got there because they worked hard, and had talent. And yet we have Bush, who for the first 30 to 35 years of his life was mediocre at best. I haven’t read the article that talks about his brilliance as a businessmen, and his performance as a student was so unexceptional that even he jokes about it.

Here’s the rub. Any Black man or woman, Hispanic Man or woman, White Lower class to lower middle class man or woman who preformed like Bush did as a young man into his thirties would be flipping burgers or waiting tables or worse. Some businessmen can say, “Nobody handed me anything.” Bush has to say, “Everybody handed me stuff, and pretty much my only skill has been in taking it.” So what does this say about the Republican ideal? Answers should be sent to me care of this email address. The first person who’s not my brother to send me an e-mail will get a personal e-mail back, typed by my secretary Doogie McBouser (Personal in this case meaning that I count Doogie as a person.)

Friday, November 08, 2002

The Healing Power of Music

Yesterday while I drove around at lunch, I turned on Rush Limbaugh and listened for a while as he discussed all the wonderful things Bush would do now that he had the country firmly in his back pocket. And then I put on Fatboy Slim's "Drop the Hate." And it was better. Not perfect, but better.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

What comes after math? Aftermath!

Well today’s articles are full of responses to the elections. So lets go down them. The Republicans are naturally ebullient. Ann Coulter happily contemplated the fate of the democratic party, saying “What a miserable party. I'm glad to see their power end, and I'm sure they'll all be perfectly comfortable in their cells in Guantanamo.” Something to look forward to I suppose. I suspect the cells in Guantanamo aren’t sufficient for the approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of this country that is Democrat. Steve Chapman has a somewhat more realistic assessment.

On the Liberal side there are two theories. One is that Democrats ran to the middle and never came up with an issue other than vague generalities. The other is something about how the American system is biased against real reform, and therefore the democrats never had a chance. This second opinion is advocated strongly by Thom Hartmann, who suggests that “It's time to get the banana companies out of our republic.” I don’t know about this; I really enjoy the occasional banana.

For those interested in economics, Salon ran a very good article by Andrew Leonard on Harvey Pitt’s resignation today - well written and interesting. And if you have any comments or questions on what you read here, please e-mail me.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Walter Williams, A Voice you can Trust

Walter Williams is one of the triumvirate of conservative commentators, along with young Ben Shapiro and Ann Coulter, who almost never fail to amuse. Walter Williams favorite sentence structure is putting words in his readers mouth.

You say, “Gries, what do you mean by that?” I mean that Walter Williams loves having his readers pose innocent dopey questions that he can immediately and condescendingly answer. Gives the illusion of considering both sides of an issue without having to.

His latest piece does not happen to use this sentence structure unfortunately, but a quick study of William's archives will reveal it’s constant use. His latest piece does borrow another common rhetorical technique, that of answering the question you want to answer without any reference to the actual question.

You say, “Gries, how does that work?” Well it works like this. In his latest article, Williams discusses Princeton University economist Paul Krueger’s contention that the 1950’s and the 1960’s were are more egalitarian time in American society. Krueger’s work, which I must admit I have not read, laments the shrinking middle class, and the subsequent growth of the lower class. Williams, like most conservatives, is uncomfortable with the idea that our society is moving to a division between the haves and the have-nots.

So how does Williams respond? By comparing life now to 100 years ago. Life is probably better now for most people than it was 100 years ago. Isn’t that great? But of course it doesn’t answer the question of whether life is better now than it was 50 years ago. And Williams focuses mainly on technological and medical innovation in his article, ignoring the social and economic ramifications of Krueger’s work.

You say, “Gries, I’m sick of reading your web log, would you kindly shut up.” Yes. Yes, I will.

Oh, don’t miss Ben Shapiro’s discussion of female sexuality. Pretty bold territory for young Ben. Commondream’s columnists didn’t update today, but I love their headline. “ELECTION FALLOUT: WORLD IN FEAR OF AN EMBOLDENED BUSH…” Just have this image of a gigantic Bush making the Godzilla sound and knocking over the Eiffel Tower. Most ideologically motivated people fear democracy.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Once around the horn

Several articles caught my eye today.

Dennis Prager wrote an article continuing Ann Coulters line on Islam. In it he reiterates the comparison of Islam to Nazism (and adds in Communism for good measure). He’s a bit more cagey than Coulter, admitting that the majority of Muslims are not terrorists. He merely holds them responsible for not rooting out the terrorists. Of course this is akin to holding the United States responsible for not rooting out the rampant (although greatly diminished) crime that exists in our society. In only a few places (Iraq, Saudi Arabia) are the governments entertwined with the terrorism business. In most of the Islamic world, the governments and law-abiding citizens are victims as surely as the West is.

Matthew Engel wrote, in the Guardian/UK on the terrible state of American politics. You can read it yourself and get your own take on it. To me it feels like Matthew Engel is complaining that the Federal Government is too democratic and too weak. It is also interesting that would choose to reprint this article on election day. Are they trying to dispirit those who might vote, particularly given their predominately liberal base?

James Carroll’s article comparing the terms of surrender at the end of WWII and the terms we are offering Saddam is also thought provoking.

Anyway, hope you all had a nice election day.

On Election Day

Remember to Vote today. And in case you are stymied in your attempts to select an appropriate candidate--you can always write in the candidate of your choice. And my name is Bryant E. Gries.

Seriously though, vote.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Ideology and Ira Chernus

“Ideology - that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. . . . That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.”
Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn The Gulag Archipelago

I am an American, and I make no apologies for that. I love my country and what it stands for. I love freedom, and seek to do those things which will increase the freedom and opportunities of all Americans.

Because of that I am suspicious of Ideology of any kind. Ideology is a form of shutting off the mind--closing yourself off from possibilities and truths.

It should be said that the prevalent ideology of the 21st century (at least so far, and I hope it changes) is cynicism. It is so easy to believe the worst of our public officials, of religious leaders, of media representatives, of ourselves. Easy, but lazy ultimately. The truth is that our public officials are no different from we ourselves. I don’t know about you but I find in myself a mixture of passions. Some of them are exceedingly noble, some are terribly base and mean spirited, and most are just selfish. I would assume our public officials are animated by the same mixture of passions. They do have noble impulses and on occasion they give reign to those impulses.

With those thoughts in mind, and believe me I will return to them often, I turn to Ira Chernus’ recent article, entitled The National Insecurity State. In it he makes some interesting points on the origins of the cold war and then proceeds to cite a recent Bush administration document, entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United States.” In commenting on the document he provocatively suggests that the document states that we the United States is “threatened by any nation that might resist the spread of free trade or seek military strength equal to our own.”

That would be terrible if true. Not so much the second part, but the United States is threatened by any nation that resists free trade? What does resisting free trade mean? Allowing trade unions? Levying taxes?

Unfortunately Chernus does not provide a link to the document in question; one quality of many commentators that I do not share is the desire to shield my audience from the source documents. However, a review of the document does state the Bush Administrations hardly remarkable affinity for Free Trade, but does not commit the United States to intervene militarily in any way, assuming I didn’t miss anything.

Why read a document stating that the United States is in favor of free trade and automatically jump to the assumption that the President is in favor of military action in those situations? Because it’s an easy assumption to jump to, if you are facing that direction ideologically. It’s no more noble to reflexively attack President Bush than it is for Rush Limbaugh to reflexively defend him.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

It's a Confusing World

“Phrases such as "plucking out the terrorist network," "destroying the terrorist infrastructure" and "attacking terrorist nests" (note the total dehumanization involved) are repeated so often and so unthinkingly that they have given Israel the right to destroy Palestinian civil life, with a shocking degree of sheer wanton destruction, killing, humiliation and vandalism.” Edward W. Said

“[T]he creation of "Palestine" will simply bring into existence yet another Islamist, terrorist-sponsoring, corruptly and despotically misruled nation committed to the destruction of Israel. The difference is that this nation would exist on territory without which Israel is essentially indefensible, giving rise for the first time since 1973 to the distinct possibility that the very existence of America's only regional democratic, and most reliable, ally could be imperiled.” Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

I can’t write very much tonight--but did want to comment briefly on the Palestine-Israel conflict. With Ariel Sharon’s recent troubles and his subsequent courting of more hard-line parties, it seems likely that this issue will flare up again.

What I have to say isn’t brilliant. Those who choose to support Palestine, generally choose to ignore the aggression of Israel’s neighbors, portraying Israel as the aggressor in conflicts where the record is clear that they were not.

Those who support Israel, on the other hand, generally choose to ignore the Palestinian people’s legitimate claims to the land and to popular sovereignty. They choose to ignore that Israel’s settlement policy is aggressive.

So what is my solution to this terrible problem. I don’t have one, except everybody should stop believing things they know aren’t so. Tell the truth, and work towards a peaceful future.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Your Weekly Rush

For anybody who enjoys mocking commentators, Rush Limbaugh is someone who provides a goldmine of opportunities. In fairness to all the other commentators out there I have decided to limit my servings of Rush to once a week. I had originally planned to riff on his bizarre Thursday comment on the reason the music industry is going down the tubes is that they don’t put out records by Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. But then yesterday he said this.

“I'm now convinced that most of you Democrats out there are so filled with hate that you don't care, either, about how your people win. It doesn't matter a hill of beans to you. In fact, winning is not even what matters to you. Seeing to it that the people you hate lose is what's important to you. You don't care what we're left with as a nation.

“You take all of your pleasure in the people you hate losing or getting booed. There must be nothing in life from which you derive pleasure. You are so consumed with bitterness, animus, and hate that you spend all day trying to rid yourself of it, but all you do is turn up your own hate because all you do is live in it day in and day out. You make up things about people in order to justify, in your minds, hating them.”

And all I have to say is, he’s certainly got me nailed. I have nothing to live for except for my passionate love of strawberries, and my hatred of all things Republican. I have no positive agenda, only a desire to stop Republicans from getting their agenda. Protecting the American Worker, protecting and expanding Social Security, giving tax breaks to working families so they can send their kids to college, protecting free speech and freedom of association; none of these ideas count because they are old ideas. See we Democrats can’t come up with any new fresh ideas, like Bush’s idea to give tax cuts to the wealthy. That had never really been thought of until Bush proposed it.

I guess Rush must think either the Republicans have got the election nailed or that the best way to bring out the Republican vote is to remind them how much they hate Democrats. And in an ironic twist, Rush decides to portray Democrats as hateful because they are full of hate.