Saturday, July 31, 2004

I am Proud to be a Liberal

Just in case anybody has any doubts on that score. I am a liberal, I'm proud of it. Anybody who wants to call me a Liberal should go right ahead. I'm also proud to be called a progressive. Calling me a progressive does not conflict with calling me a liberal. They aren't exactly synonyms, but in political terms they are similar.

Rush Limbaugh made a lot of hay yesterday out of a quote by Rob Reiner in which Reiner said . . . Well I'll just print the quote.

"I don't believe that there is a bias in the mainstream media. I think you have a fairly balanced mainstream media and I think you do have certain outlets, whether it's Fox or Rush Limbaugh or certain other outlets that are heavily tilted the other way. That's not to say now that there's now more progressive outlets being formed."

From that statement Rush Limbaugh discerns that Mr. Reiner is embarrassed of his liberalism. If he wasn't he would say "Liberal" outlets rather than "progressive" outlets.

In other news President Bush has said that "Results Matter" in this election. I'd agree, which of course is why I'm voting for Future President Kerry. Who replied to President Bush's attacks with this accurate observation, "They don't have a record to run on so all they can do is attack."

Friday, July 30, 2004

Round the Horn and back again

Some people say that Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has revealed a great new rhetorical device certain to win any argument. 

Gamers Nook returns us to those halcyon days of yore with a musical selection.

All Facts and Opinions relays why she will not be voting for Ralph Nader.

Left is Right explores the possibility of a new political party arising at this time.

Archy has a great pitch for a political comedy with one minor drawback; it's happening in real life.

Bark Bark Woof Woof has actual reporting from the Democratic convention floor.

The Invisible Library has a discussion of the conditions protesters have been met with at the Democratic Convention.

Respectful of Otters has a book review of what sounds like a fascinating book, called Beyond Fear.

Well that's enough for this week--busy morning, but hopefully I'll be back later.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Cartoonish villains and Revenge Fantasies

Went and saw "I, Robot" last night. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be, so I was reasonably satisfied. But that's not what I want to talk about here. Instead I want to talk about an trailer I saw before the main movie started for a forthcoming movie called "Paparazzi."

Apparently the movie is about some big Hollywood action star who finds himself the subject of the Paparazzi. They take pictures of him and his wife naked, and also pictures of his kid. Then he punches one of them, and, well, why don't I let the official synopsis tell what happens next.

"The paparazzi become increasingly relentless, ruthless - even criminal. One night they trap Bo and his family in a high-speed chase that ends in a terrible accident, sending Abby into intensive care and 6-year-old Zach into a coma."

Yep, a reporter (of sorts) becomes transformed into a cartoonish monster, people who kill without mercy. You have to watch the trailer to look at how cartoonishly evil they look as they flash their cameras again and again into the stars eyes as he drives. One of the paparazzi literally says "let's box them in."

And guess who is one of the producers of this movie is? That's right, it's Mel Gibson.

This is a revenge fantasy movie. Revenge fantasies are pleasant enough, I guess. But they always involve dehumanizing your victims. The hero is totally justified in what he does by the very inhuman nature of his enemies. The Paparazzi are evil, pure and simple, and so killing them, taking the law into your own hands (as the character in this movie apparently does), well, that's totally justified.

I mean it's only murder if your victims are human, isn't it? I mean if we thought that the Paparazzi was so aggressive because he was about to lose his house, and his marriage was on the rocks, if we knew that he took these pictures because he is angry at a Hollywood that betrays the huge rewards given him, if we know that he cries and laughs and feels pain, in short if we know that he is Human . . . Well it takes all the fun out of the revenge fantasy.

You know, now that I think about, I'm not so sure I like the idea of enjoying revenge fantasies. Seems pretty destructive.

The West Wing

There's an article over at Salon which contains interviews with Rob Reiner and Richard Schiff, who plays Toby Ziegler on NBC's The West Wing. A good interview, well worth checking out.

"What issues matter to you?

Retaining our claim to democracy is one. President Clinton gave an incredible speech the other night -- you know, "forming a more perfect union." We've been fighting, living and dying for 200 years to continue the tradition of forming a more perfect union. Sometimes we regress, but it's all formulated on the dialectic and discussion. It's not dictatorial and not based on rigid pillars of ideology."
Anyway, you have to watch a little ad to see the interview, but he also comments on the direction the show has taken since the departure of Aaron Sorkin, if you are interested in that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Suzi Registered Voter and the Commentators

Suzi Registered Voter had certainly enjoyed listening to the Big Democratic Dog and other speakers at the Democratic Convention. As she was walking around she saw Conservative Cat talking to a group of very odd looking creatures.

Suzi had never seen such odd creatures in all her life. They were a little like moles and a little like jellyfish and a little like horseshoe crabs. After a moment she recognized them as Commentators. Note, dear reader, that the brave commentators of the Liberal Coalition look nothing like this. No, they look much more attractive and charming.

You see a television Commentator has to twist himself or herself into so many strange positions and has such a tiny area to do it in (particularly on those little handheld TV's people have), that they soon end up looking very strangely indeed.

Suzi Registered Voter was curious about these strange creatures and walked over listening to them commentating on the proceedings.

She heard one commentator growl out that the Big Democratic Dog had called half the people in America whackos. Suzi put her hand over her mouth. What a terrible thing to say about so many people. But then Suzi, being a very reflective person, considered what the Big Democratic Dog had said. Why, she couldn't remember the Big Democratic Dog even saying the word "Whacko."

Another one of the commentators hopped up and down and said, in a very quick voice, "The problem with John Kerry is John Kerry is out of the mainstream." Suzi thought about John Kerry's opinions on the issues, and concluded that he wasn't far out of the mainstream.

A third commentator walked forward, trying to look very formal and dignified (although his tie didn't really fit around his neck), and said that when the Big Democratic Dog was President, Ken Lay had stayed in the White House 13 times. Suzi Registered Voter had to put her hand over her mouth again, this time to keep from giggling. Everybody knew that that story was a bunch of baloney, and it was silly that this commentator brought it up again.

Suzi Registered Voter decided that the Commentators were being a bit silly and she walked off to hear another speaker. A very dynamic woman was standing, and one of the other conventioners said that she was the wife of the man who would be President. Suzi Registered Voter thought that she made many good and inspiring points.

"For many generations of people around the globe, that is what America has represented. A symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its people- people coming from all over the world.

Americans believed they could know all there is to know, build all there is to build, break down any barrier, tear down any wall. We sent men to the moon, and when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn, and Hubble to touch the very edges of the universe at the very dawn of time. Americans showed the world what can happen when people believe in amazing possibilities.

And, that, for me, is the spirit of America - the America you and I are working for in this election. It is the America that people all across this nation want to restore - from Iowa to California, from Florida to Michigan, from Washington State to my home state of Pennsylvania. It is the America the world wants to see, shining, hopeful, and bright once again.

Suzi nodded at these words and thought they were much more interesting and important than all the fibs Conservative Cat and her Commentator friends were spreading.

Woe is Ann Coulter!

Oh what tribulations does Americans most well known leggy Conservative Commentator have to suffer?  After writing what could be her definitive column on liberals, USA Today spikes it.  Poor Ann.  Let us all shed tears in her general direction.

Fortunately she posted her mangum opus on her website, so that we don't have to miss out on her brilliance.  She opens her treatise with this brilliant paragraph.

"Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazened with the "F-word" are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling."

Note the immediate use of Biblical imagery. By calling Democrats the "Spawn of Satan" right off the top she places us in a black and white old testament context. We know who the evil doers are (they are Democrats). The second part of that sentence, however, throws a different light on her role in this Manichean Drama.

She describes herself and other conservatives as having to use covert signals, like gay men. In this biblical setting that Ann Coulter has thrust us into with her prose, one can only assume that doing anything like a "gay man" would be, in a word, wrong. Ann is defining the Democrats as evil "spawn of Satan," but she's not all that good herself apparently. One hears echoes of the one hundred forty sixth Psalm ("Put not your trust in princes") or of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues ("Don't follow leaders / watch the parking meters.")

Ann brushes the implications of this statement aside almost immediately, as if, having raised the doubt, she is content to ignore it. Instead she begins describing her allies and her enemies in this Mephistophelian landscape within which she finds herself. Her allies are those who wear the cross or those who wear the American flag. Like the Florida delegates for example.

Perhaps I spoke to quickly about us returning to moral clarity. For these are pictures of delegates to the convention. Presumably they are Democrats and therefore the "Spawn of Satan." Is Ann saying that she is allied with the Spawn of Satan who adopt a more pleasing image? Or is she deliberately confusing her own role in this drama.

The line about people wearing T shirts with the F word on them is a bit coy, but the meaning is clear. Ann can't be literally talking about people with those shirts on, but clearly is talking about a metaphorical shirt. Finally she moves on to talk about pretty girls being on her side. One is reminded of another biblical passage, namely the second half of Isaiah chapter three, in which another group of "pretty girls" is mentioned. Truly Ann has plunged us into a spiritual minefield where nothing is exactly as it should be.

Or else Ann is just a sloppy writer and doesn't really think through the implications of what she is writing.

Apparently USA today has decided that the latter explanation is more plausible, and I have to say, now that I've dropped my erudite critic voice, that I agree. Salon has a great article on how and why she was dropped that goes into her piece further. The piece contains a great bit on comparing Ann Coulter to Michael Moore (who USA Today has apparently tapped to cover the Republican Convention.

"USA Today editorial page editor Brian Gallagher, defending the choice, told a reporter Coulter "was a voice from [the conservative] side with standing and visibility." Notice how credibility was not a requirement. By contrast, for the Republican convention in August, USA Today has tapped Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore to file dispatches.

Are the two really compatible? Nowhere in his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" does Moore suggest, for instance, that Republicans hate America or that Bush's Cabinet members are akin to Iraqi terrorists. Moore is an accomplished and, yes, partisan filmmaker; Coulter is a factually challenged name-caller. Could USA Today honestly not tell the difference?

Anyway, tune back in later when we continue the adventures of Suzi Registered Voter at the Democratic National Convention.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Suzi Registered Voter and The "Haters"

- with apologies to Cat Lovers. I am, of course, a Dog Lover.

One day Suzi Registered Voter was walking along. She saw a big crowd of people talking to each other excitedly. Suzi couldn't hear what they were saying but they were waving their arms. One person even got on his chair and raised his hands over his head.

While Suzi was looking at the crowd of excited people, a Conservative Cat walked up and said, "Look at all those people who are filled with hate."

Suzi looked down and saw Conservative Cat and said, "They don't look so hate-filled to me."

Conservative Cat sat on his haunches and said, "Oh they are trying to pretend not to be hate filled, but they all hate President Bush."

Suzi sat down next to Conservative Cat and said, "Oh. I don't like hate-filled people."

Conservative Cat purred a little to itself and said, "Oh well you wouldn't like those people than. You're better off just ignoring them."

Suzi Registered Voter thought a moment, and said, "But how do I know they are hate-filled?"

Conservative Cat looked up at this and said, rather brusquely, "Well I just told you they hate President Bush. They hate him so much they try to hide their hatred. That's why they are smiling over there." He waved a paw over at the crowd of people. "They are thinking of how much they hate President Bush and trying to trick people into thinking they are positive, upbeat people."

Suzi nodded sagely. "That's very tricky. But with your warning, perhaps I should still go over and hear what they are saying."

Conservative Cat leapt at this and landed right in front of Suzi. "Oh no, Suzi. Don't go over there. You don't want to be around such hate-filled liars and hypocrites."

Suzi stood up and said, "Well I can listen for a little while. Look the Big Democratic Dog (and dear readers, I'll leave it up to you to guess who this might be) is going to make a speech."

Conservative Cat hissed and said, "Oh don't listen to him. He's a liar and a cad and a murderer and all kinds of bad stuff. He's the worst of the lot." At this point Conservative Cat began foaming at the mouth. Cats can't usually foam at the mouth, but Conservative Cat managed it just the same. "I hate him. I hate him. I wish he had been killed for all the bad things he did."

Suzi Registered Voter didn't say anything.

After a moment Conservative Cat, in a sulky voice, said, "Anyway he's just trying to steal the thunder of their new candidate. He wants Senator Kerry to lose so his wife (who I hates and hates and hates) can be President."

Suzi Registered Voter didn't say anything, but wondered how Conservative Cat knew so much about what the Big Democratic Dog was thinking.

The Conservative Cat started pacing away, still a little sulkily. "Go over there with the Bush-Haters if you want. Anybody who even looks at those people must hate Bush already, Bush-Hater." Cats have many admirable qualities but they are rarely good sports.

So Suzi Registered Voter walked over just as the Big Democratic Dog was finishing his speech. So this is what Suzi Registered Voter heard.

"In the Civil War, America was at a crossroads, divided over whether to save the union and end slavery-we chose a more perfect union. In the 1960s, America was at a crossroads, divided again over civil rights and women's rights. Again, we chose a more perfect union. As I said in 1992, we're all in this together; we have an obligation both to work hard and to help our fellow citizens, both to fight terror and to build a world with more cooperation and less terror. Now again, it is time to choose.

Since we're all in the same boat, let us chose as the captain of our ship a brave good man who knows how to steer a vessel though troubled waters to the calm seas and clear skies of our more perfect union. We know our mission. Let us join as one and say in a loud, clear voice: Send John Kerry.

That didn't sound very hate-filled, Suzi Registered Voter thought, but she realized that she hadn't listened to very much at all. So she stayed and paid attention to the whole convention. And Conservative Cat, high on a perch in a tree in a park near the convention, scowled and made angry growls and hisses.

Let's all go to the movies!

I went to see Control Room last night. It was an excellent thought provoking movie.

I think the greatest strength of the film is how it humanizes Muslims / Arabs / Middle Easterners. Instead of seeing the faceless villains or victims of other movies, we see them talking and expressing points of views. I know that's not a revelation or anything; but it is nice to have it brought home. I retain a healthy skepticism about Al-Jazeera (for about the same reasons that I retain a healthy skepticism about Fox News), but it is good to understand a little better where they are coming from.

Monday, July 26, 2004

More on Angry Democrats

Robert Novak writes an astoundingly myopic piece today on the current and constant Republican script; we Democrats have an irrational hatred of President Bush.  Of course it must be irrational; President Bush's actions deserve nothing but praise and admiration. 

The most myopic part of Novak's piece is his coverage of Max Cleland.

"Until 2002, Cleland had been treated gently by Republicans as a Vietnam War triple amputee veteran, and he never lost an election. This treatment enabled him to float in the Senate under the ideological radar, representing conservative Georgia while voting the straight liberal line. It ended two years ago with then Rep. Saxby Chambliss's Republican campaign, which pointed out that Cleland bowed to organized labor's demands to vote against the homeland security bill because of union representation questions."

Anybody familiar with the 2002 Georgia race in question has to know that there is a lot more going on than one vote. Indeed the Bush Administration set up an organized attempt to slander and slur Mr. Cleland. A more complete reading of that campaign might have included a certain ad put out by the Republican Party. Jim Boyd wrote an article for the Star Tribune on the subject.

"Take what they did to Max Cleland, for example. Cleland is a triple-amputee Vietnam veteran, former head of the Department of Veterans Affairs and for one term a U.S. senator from Georgia. Then the Republicans decided to do a number on him. In a hard-fought campaign for re-election, Cleland got everything the Republicans could throw at him, including the kitchen sink. His challenger was Saxby Chambliss, picked and managed by the White House's Karl Rove and Georgia GOP Chairman Ralph Reed. The absolute low point was a television ad which showed Cleland's photo together with those of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, equating the three. Cleland, the ad said, had shown his true colors by voting against homeland security. He was, the ad implied, unpatriotic.

Of course he wasn't. Through the long process of creating the Department of Homeland Security, Cleland had supported an alternative plan pushed by Democrats. It differed with the Republican version chiefly in the way it treated federal employees who are members of unions.

At any rate Mr. Novak is right that there exists a difference between the image that the party wants to portray to undecided voters and the image that the party loyalists would like to see. But this difference is not unique to the Democratic Party; President Bush is going to face the same problem when he finally holds his campaign.

The Block of the Writers

Nice to know that I'm not the only one suffering from a lack of inspiration. Jeff Jacoby has an article today in which he clearly wants to focus on how much we Liberals hate President Bush in the context of the ongoing election. So naturally he takes as his chief evidence an article written a year ago.

Because that's presumably easier than digging up a lot of hateful things we are saying right now. Granted that article, "The Case for Bush Hatred" by Jonathan Chait, published in The New Republic, was a bit extreme. But most Conservatives apparently believe that even mild criticism of President Bush, coming from liberals, can only be motivated by hatred. So you'd think he could find some examples.

Jacoby's not content to recruit an article from last November. Why not through in a deception while he's at it? Let's read this sentence and see if we can pick out the lie. "That was before posted two videos on its website depicting Bush as Adolf Hitler."

Did you catch the deception? If you read that story it sounds like MoveOn posted two videos comparing President Bush to Hitler doesn't it? But the truth is somewhat different. MoveOn held a contest, entitled Bush in 30 seconds (if memory serves), allowing people to turn in ads criticizing President Bush. Two contestants turned in the ads which used Nazi imagery. MoveOn promptly removed the ads, saying that they had exceeded the boundaries of good taste.

Coincidentally, the Bush Campaign then choose to use those images in a web ad of their own, splicing the images of Hitler in between images of Howard Dean, Al Gore, and John Kerry. You'd think if these images were so bad and so beyond the pale, they wouldn't want to use them. But I guess this was a special case.

Let's take another statement. "Clinton-bashing got pretty intense, but rare was the Republican who was proud to call it "hatred." Many Bush-haters, by contrast, embrace the term enthusiastically." I guess Jacoby has a hard time telling the difference between one (Mr. Jonathan Chait) and many. He's also not adjusting for irony. After Hillary Clinton referred to a "vast right-winged conspiracy" more than one Conservative commentator or politician was happy describing themselves as members of this conspiracy.

Conservatives have been calling Liberals Bush-haters for a couple of years now. If some liberals besides Mr. Jonathan Chait have accepted the term (and Mr. Jacoby's article gives no evidence that they have (other than assertion)), than might not the same logic apply?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

New Quote

I wasn't around at all yesterday, but here I am back with a new Quote.  And a new Quotes Page.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Fox and Friends

Well it's safe to say that this hasn't been a banner week for Future President Kerry.  I don't think it's a disasterous week; none of the big anti-Kerry stories (Berger's wandering hands, the problems with Richard Clark's story) are real campaign sinking torpedoes.  But it's not been the greatest.

On the other hand it hasn't been a terribly grea weak for Fox News either, as this new Documentary Outfoxed has gotten out to the people.  It demonstrates to those who don't know that the best argument for Fox News isn't that it is fair and balanced (it isn't) but some vague argument about how it balances the more "liberal" news stations. 

One claim being made by Fox defenders and employees is that they can't be seen as pro President Bush because they are the ones who broke the story of President Bush's DUI.  Well Eric Boehlert takes issue with that particular interpretation in an article at Salon today.

"The truth is that it was a resourceful 27-year-old reporter at a local Fox affiliate, WPXT-TV in Portland, Maine, who uncovered the DUI story, not the Fox News Channel in New York or Washington, the partisan national network that's the focus of Robert Greenwald's new documentary, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism." Nobody associated with "Outfoxed" or elsewhere participating in the media debate has suggested that local Fox news teams in places like Bakersfield, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; or Boise, Idaho operate under Republican marching orders as they cover arsons, car crashes and zoo openings. So it's not that unusual that an enterprising reporter, operating off the FNC reservation as it were, could play a starring role in the DUI story. Not surprisingly, Ailes and Cameron are now conveniently trying to pretend that it was Sean Hannity's "Fair and Balanced" Fox News, those bold seekers of the truth, who unearthed the damaging dirt on Bush that almost cost him the election."

Of particular note in Boehlert's article is the way they chose to present it in 2000 as compared to how they present it today. 

Around the Horn; It's all one song

Here we go with another exciting trip round the Liberal Coalition Universe.  An extra long one today, I hope.

First of all we welcome the return of MercuryX23's Fantabulous Blog, and in this post he contrasts Liberal humor with that that emmenates from the current Governor of California.

And Then . . . has some trenchent comments on the 9/11 report and the difference between repairing a machine and defeating evil forever. 

Kick the Leftist has some thoughts on the Philipines pulling out of Iraq.

Rick's Cafe Americaine has an important piece on how Insurance Companies are taking advantage of American Soldiers.

Rook's Rant has a piece on the timing of President Bush's request for intelligence.

For those who love music, Sooner Thought has an article on a recent Sting / Annie Lennox concert. 

Sooner Thought also posted a piece at The Liberal Coalition website about Kalyn Free, who seems like someone worth checking out, and lending a hand too as she tries to get into Congress.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has a section dealing with Dennis Kucinich's endorsement of John Kerry. 

The Gotham City 13 have a treatise on a soldier in Afghanistan who claims to have had constant contact with Donald Rumsfeld.

Dohiyi Mir has some hard-boiled commentary on a certain member of the Bush Campaign. 

bloggg has a collection of quotations from our current President. 

blogAmy has some well written thoughts on going through a Police Barricaide.

The mighty edwardpig emerged, groundhog like, saw President Bush's chances unfolding, and apparently returned to haitus.  Hopefully he'll return often from haitus; he's good. 

rubber hose has some commentary on where the national Abortion debate is. 

Anyway that's an extra long one.  Hope you enjoyed--tune in next time when the cow says "Neigh."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Law is an Idiot

Good article today at Salon by James K. Galbraith.  He goes through President Bush's recent approval numbers, but then moves onto something puzzling President Bush said recently, as part of his effort to explain why we invaded Iraq.

"Bush made this clear the other day with his definitive defense of his war in Iraq. He said: "Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq ... We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them."

Was this just the latest lame defense of failure? Or was it a calculated statement of doctrine? It could be either. Unlike the neoconservatives before the United States went into Iraq, we should be prudent and assume the worst.

Read Bush's statement again. In it, he asserts a right to remove any "declared enemy" with "capability" to produce weapons who "could have passed that capability" along.

"Capability"? "Could have"? What trouble spots in the world doesn't this fit? It certainly fits North Korea and Iran. Will this doctrine thus lead to a raid on the internationally legal Iranian Nuclear Plant next year? It could, as the Times of London has reported, citing an unnamed U.S. administration source. "

Anyway the whole article is interesting, but I for one think we might have enough to right now without invading Iran or North Korea. 

John Kerry already controls France

This in interesting news that Emmet Tyrell passes off almost offhandedly in his latest article

"Just when things were going swimmingly for the presumptive Democratic presidential ticket, a cloud appears on the horizon. The French Consulate in New York has tacked onto its front door an announcement reminding Americans once again of French haughtiness ... and of French geopolitical ambitions."

You catch that?  Apparently it's bad news for Future President Kerry that France has advised those seeking visa's be polite.  That's because Future President Kerry is the secret king of France; so anything France does reflects badly on him.  I guess you can see why people complain about the media; they should be telling us all about Kerry's control of France.  But I'll bet you weren't even aware of it until this moment.   

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I'm Dreaming of a Genie In a Magic Bikini - An Absurdist Post

"My Friends, do you ever marvel . . . at me?" - Rush Limbaugh, just before 2:00 p.m., July 21, 2004.

"I keep saying, greatness does not need to be explained. Greatness does not need to be defined and John Kerry continues to have to explain himself and to define himself because who he is doesn't stand out, and who he is doesn't strike anybody as great." - Rush Limbaugh on or around Monday, April 26.

I just can't get my head around those two statements.  They seem so . . . contridictory. 

"My Friends, do you ever marvel . . . at me?" - Rush Limbaugh, just before 2:00 p.m., July 21, 2004.

I guess honesty forces me to admit that at times I do marvel at Mr. Limbaugh.  But not for the reasons he's probably thinking of. 

"My Friends, do you ever marvel . . . at me?" - Rush Limbaugh, just before 2:00 p.m., July 21, 2004.

Oh and those three ellipses are not indicating any missing lines; just to show the pause. 

Independents Unite!

Kathleen Parker writes an interesting article over at Townhall about the virtues of being independent of either party.  Apparently both parties are guilty of extreme partisanship.

"We're ripe for a terrorist attack, yet we've become so stridently self-absorbed and distracted by partisan one-upmanship that you begin to wonder whether anyone's manning the barricades."
What crowd pleasing title does Ms. Parker give this discussion of the perils of partisanship?  "Beyond bashing Bush."  In it she mentions Michael Moore twice, but can't find room for Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage.  She could also note that the Bush campaign spends three or four times more on their campaign website bashing Kerry than Kerry's website spends bashing Bush. 

So I have to admit I find this article remarkably similar to other articles that have more honestly admitted that they think Democrats are partisan and if they weren't partisan they would be more pro-Bush.   

Still, at least she didn't suggest that Democrats hate President Bush irrationally. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Foreign Policy

For those interested in good political writing (as opposed to what I seem to be capable of today), you might check out this piece by Joshua Micah Marshall  that appeared in the Atlantic.  Mr. Marshall writes "Talking Points Memo" over there on the left and this article concerns how President Bush and Future President Kerry's foreign policies are likely to differ.  Well worth checking out.

Deep Thoughts

I've been thinking about the latest edition of This Modern World. For those who haven't seen it, here it is.
I have to admit that I do fit some of the characteristics of a "sensible Liberal."  And, on the other hand, I've commented more than once on the dangers of being overly concilitary towards Liberals.  It's enough to realize that many conservative leaders don't want liberals to exist in America to realize that compromise is not always the wisest course of action. 
Tom Tomorrow is also correct when he notes that many liberals should just admit that the anti-war protesters were right and we were wrong. 
I disagree, however, with the idea that moderation in discourse is always wrongheaded.   The two examples he gives (discomfort with calling the President a Liar and liberal attacks on Fahrenheit 9/11) I can get behind.  Some of the attacks on Fahrenheit 9/11 have been misguided at best (while others have been dead on, such as those from the Daily Howler).  On the other hand, there are occasionally some outrageous things said by those on the left.  One has only to summon Ted Rall to one's mind.  Are we committed to never criticizing those on the left?  
One possibility is that we should have two parties; one for Moderate Liberals and one for People Further Left (boy is that an awkward phrase).   But, in reality, that's a pipe dream.  The truth is that for the foreseeable future, rightly or wrongly, we've got one party for the left and one for the right. 
I will reiterate a criticism I've had with this argument; it gives short shrift to the idea that a Moderate Liberal might actually disagree with the Person Further Left.  It's assumed that the Moderate argues from a Moderate position simply as a tactic, but that in reality his goals are essentially the same as the Person Further Left.  That may not always be the case. 

I'm reminded of an old Limbaugh bit where he made fun of Moderates by suggesting there woudl never be book called "great moderates in history."  Of course Limbaugh basically assumes anybody not a hardline Conservative is essentially a liberal.  Mr. Tomorrows last line seems to indicate that he feels that "Sensible" Liberals are more or less working for the Republicans. 
Anyway I can tell I'm having a hard time getting my point to come out organized, so I'll just cut it off here. 

Both Sides of the Mouth

Rich Lowry writes an article today in which he imagines all liberals to be essentially the same person, and that "person" is hypocritical because he seems to have two different opinions on the issues.

Perhaps an example would demonstrate to Mr. Lowry the folly of this argument. Take Ms. Moderate Liberal and Mr. Less Moderate Liberal. Ms. Moderate Liberal says, "Well, invading Iraq might have been an ok idea, but the way he went about it unilaterally and without the support of the UN, well that wasn't very smart." Mr. Less Moderate Liberal says, "Are you kidding? Invading Iraq was always a bad idea, and we should never have done it, particularly since Iraq was no threat to the United States." Mr. Lowry, evesdropping on this conversation and unable to tell two liberals appart, assumes hypocricy on both parts.

But of course Mr. Lowry hardly needs to go to the trouble of listening to what liberals say when he can just make stuff up. Take this section. "If he restrains government spending, he's heartless. If he supports government spending, he's bankrupting the nation and robbing from future generations."

Of course, I need hardly point out that while Liberals are critical of President Bush's failure to keep much control over spending, of far more concern are his tax cuts, which are a much larger part of the equation in figuring out how high the deficit is going to go. Mr. Lowry chooses not to spend much time on taxes in his little essay.

Mr. Lowry is, of course, no stranger to how a President can inspire some intemperate comments; I think we all remember how sensible the Republicans were during the Clinton Years.   

Monday, July 19, 2004

There's a Riot Going On!!!

Well a couple of big stories in the news on the upcoming Republican Convention.  It's already well known that dozens of protests are planned during the convention which is being held to tie in with the remembrance of September 11th (so that Team Bush controls the news cycle for quite a little while). 
Well it turns out that some Conservative groups are planning counter protests.  According to AP Reporter Sara Kugler, "Activists planning to demonstrate against the upcoming GOP convention should be on the lookout for young conservatives gearing up to protest the protesters.
These brave young conservatives are apparently called the Protest Warriors (and in a 100% unrelated story, the good folks at Make me a Commentator!!! are considering changing their name to Commentary Warriors).  
This is at the top of their website.  "Welcome to, a website created to help arm the liberty-loving Silent Majority with ammo -- ammo that strikes at the intellectual solar plexus of the Left. "
The intellectual solar plexus of the Left.  There's a phrase that's rife with possibilities. 
In other happy news is this editorial, by Adam Cohen, at the New York Times.  Apparently Mayor Bloomberg in 2004 is somewhat similar to Mayor Daley, Mayor of Chicago in 1968.  The 1968 Democratic Convention was somewhat of a debacle, as anti-war protestors clashed with the Chicago City Police Force.  Could such a debacle happen in 2004?  
While it doesn't seem likely that we will see a repeat of 1968, according to Mr. Cohen, it also seems unlikely that the Protesters will receive a warm welcome. 
"Mayor Bloomberg's roots lie in a social organization that's very different from the clubhouse, but equally intolerant of spontaneous outbursts. Until he ran for mayor he had spent his life in the corporate world, where ? as in a political machine ? people pursue a common goal by working through the system. Employees who try to harangue leaders into changing corporate policy are not engaging in free speech. They are being insubordinate."

Mr. Cohen calls on Mayor Bloomberg to welcome the protesters, provided they stay within the law.  At any rate, we got Protesters, Counter-Protesters, and a Mayor who prefers silence to dissent.  I'm not saying anything is necessarily going to happen, but it probably could. 

Confusion about the Message

(Overheard at the Offices of the Center for Consumer Freedom.)  
Flunky:  Look, Boss I'm just not sure about this latest article
Boss:  What, that hollywood piece?  It's boffo. 
Flunky:  Well it's gratifying, but what's our point?  I mean do we list all these hollywood people and point out how according to Government Regulations they are all overweight.
Boss:  So.  Gives a visual representation of how over regulated we are, and how detatched from the real world Government pencil pushers are? 
Flunky:  Yeah Boss, but we don't like Hollywood either.
Buss: (eating Danish) What's that?
Flunky:  Our fans don't like Hollywood either. 
Boss:  So?
Flunky:  Well this is going to make them look good, isn't it?  Sort of pointing out their healthfulness. 
Boss:  So we make a lot of jokes about how big hollywood types are all fatsos.  I thought I had a few jokes like that in there anyway.  Something about Conan the Obese?
Flunky:  Yeah, I noticed that.  You know he's a republican, right? 
Boss:  Yeah but Conan was a piece of crap, so I figure it's ok. 
Flunky: Anyway I'm just saying our message might be a little confused.  Are we angry at the regulators or Hollywood. 
Boss:  Look, nobody will notice, so who gives a  damn?  Just run it and let's go have lunch. 
OK not really heard at the offices of the Center for Consumer Freedom. I made that part up. But the rest of it is true.

Left Behind Redux

You remember a couple of weeks ago I pointed out a website that dealt extensively with the Left Behind series.  Well, Nicholas D. Kristof deals with the series today and he asks some pointed questions.
"These are the best-selling novels for adults in the United States, and they have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. The latest is "Glorious Appearing," which has Jesus returning to Earth to wipe all non-Christians from the planet. It's disconcerting to find ethnic cleansing celebrated as the height of piety.

If a Muslim were to write an Islamic version of "Glorious Appearing" and publish it in Saudi Arabia, jubilantly describing a massacre of millions of non-Muslims by God, we would have a fit. We have quite properly linked the fundamentalist religious tracts of Islam with the intolerance they nurture, and it's time to remove the motes from our own eyes."
Pointed questions indeed. 

Sunday, July 18, 2004

A Cartoon

This one is from Don Asmussen, and I like it.

Edited to add this is from the last election cycle, not the current one. I think.

New Quote

Yep, a brand new quote here from your buddies at Make me a Commentator.  And to top it off a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Your Weekly Rush - Fear and Loathing in Tallahassee

Well, Rush Limbaugh has finally explained it all.  Now it can be told why we Liberals are so upset with President Bush.  
"They have rage. They have anger that is irrational, and I know the root of it and we'll talk about it when we have more time. Well, it's in their own -- they feel powerless. That's really, folks, if you want to understand it, the rage and anger stems from their utter feelings of powerlessness, and you look at them and you think, "My gosh, these people are strong and they're united. They got a sense of purpose. They know what they want." They are scared to death, and that's why they hate, and that's why they have rage, and that's why they have anger, and they are scared to death because they sense they have no power. "
That's it, my readers.  Forget all you might have heard about Liberals being upset with the war in Iraq or with the pressure on the economy from the deficit, or the Patriot act, or anything else.  Liberals are angry because of an irrational feeling of powerlessness. 
Personally I think this is a bit of projection.  Limbaugh Republicans, while controlling the Congress, the White House and having a good stake at the Supreme Court, having new ways of getting their message out, still feel like they don't have enough power in America and are overly persecuted. 
I personally have all the power I need.  A little more money would be nice. 

Friday, July 16, 2004

Round the Horn Part L7

Yep it's another round up of the old Liberal Coalition.
All Facts and Opinion has a piece on the Underblogs and the Overblogs, and their secret plan to conquer Earth.  Or just get more hits. 
Gamer's Nook has an anecdote on the perils of carrying a sword to a hardware store. 
In other news of smart guys around the world, Iddybud has a tale of a man and a his fishing hook.
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has a witticism about the new Will Smith movie "I, Robot," which was apparently suggested by an Issac Asimov story.
Left is Right has an account of the Bush Campaigns ongoing effort to hold Hollywood against Future President Kerry. 
T. Rex's Guide to Life has a response to those who would argue that claiming this war was unnecessary trivializes the dead (based on a comment he received).
Collective Sigh has a report on new information coming out of Abu Ghraib.  Disturbing information which could put the whole "abuse" theory to bed. 
Steve Gilliard's News Blog has a bit on Future President Kerry's service in Vietnam as contrasted with someone else's service in the National Guard. 
And finally The Fulcrum has a suggestion that we all relax every now and again along with a nice picture. 

Thursday, July 15, 2004

A New Link

Just added a new link to to the old Website, for the web page A Scrivner's Lament.  Seems like they have a fair amount of good information and stories over there.   Check it out!

Get up get down turn all around

I just read an interesting column from Ellen Goodman in which she decries the optimism assault during the political campaign. Apparently it's hard to get elected unless everybody thinks you are optimistic. I think personally that goes back to having a vision of what American could be and articulating that vision.

With his mouth President George W. Bush hasn't been able to articulate that vision very well, but with his actions he's done a little better (it involves manliness, stump removal, and no books). Kerry's got the opposite problem, he's good at talking about what his vision is (his current campaign theme "Let America be America again" is brilliant) but he doesn't project that vision as well. Edwards joining the campaign, however, should help with this a bit. Which, of course, is why the Bush camp is in such a hurry to discredit him.

I do think, however, the closing words of her article are pretty dead-on accurate.

"In my book, any politician who thinks he can beat the odds and become president of the United States qualifies automatically as an optimist. With the possible exception of Ralph Nader. But I am not willing to concede that a candidate's optimism is the political trump card. Attitude is no substitute for sober judgment. A cheerleader is not always a leader.

Some of our greatest accomplishments and some of our greatest disasters were all begun with optimism. The "can-do spirit" is fine and Yankee Doodle Dandy. But a leader needs to know the difference between what we can do and what we should do, and what we'd better not do.

That would give me reason for optimism.

Two for the Price of One

Two stories for the price of one.

First of all Larry Elder writes a column touting the negativity of the Kerry Edwards campaign. He begins his column with this paragraph.

"We're running a very positive and affirmative campaign," said Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Indeed, Sen. Kerry, D-Mass., renounces nastiness: "We have not stood up," he said, "and attacked our opponents in personal ways." Really?

Let's go to the videotape.

He then quotes 11 Democrats / Liberal saying mean hurtful things about President Bush. Many of them are justifiably questionable statements; others aren't. But out of the 11, only one comes from the Candidate for President or the Candidate for Vice President.

Two come from the recent star-studded Hollywood fundraiser, so I guess we could put those in the camp of coming from the Kerry/Edwards campaign.

But 8 or 72.73% came from outside the campaign. They are all Democrats; but it certainly seems like nonsense to suggest that all Democrats are responsible for the actions of all other Democrats.

Incidently, the one statement by John Kerry? Made off stage. It was an open mike gaffe. He didn't apologize for the words, though, so I guess it counts.

On the other hand we've had on stage comments by both President and particularly Vice President slamming Kerry and Edwards. Their campaign website spends a lot of bandwidth ripping into Kerry and Edwards (the Kerry site doesn't reciprocate, merely pointing out discrepancies in the Bush attacks). They ran an web ad comparing Democrats to Adolph Hitler. So I think I'm going to continue believing that the Kerry Edwards people are running a far more positive campaign.

The second story is by Marvin Olasky, and I'm having a hard time figuring it out. He writes on a visit to Turkey and a comparison between the Haggia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmet. He moves from that to a discussion of the Crusades and the age old struggle between the Muslims and the Christians bringing it right up to the modern day.

" Those Christians saw a clash of civilization that went on for centuries, and their paintings are very much in an Onward Christian Soldiers motif, with lots of red ochre, green, and cobalt blue. In places of Cappadocia without cliffs, the Christians went underground: 32 Thirty-two underground cities probably housed at times 20,000 or more, with multiple entrances and exits for escape.

I visited one underground city at Derinkuyu that went down eight levels and included a church, classroom, baptistry, storerooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, wine cellars, stables on the first and second stories, wells, tombs, and 52 ventilations shafts to a depth of 75 to 90 yards. Christians apparently built the city by hollowing out airshafts and excavating from the sides of the shafts.

And talk about security: Christians built not bolt locks but bolt stones -- two feet thick and weighing half a ton -- that could be rolled across passageways in case of attack. Which leads to a question: What kind of bolt stones do we have today? We need to pray for peace and work to build honest Muslim-Christian friendship. But we must also be discerning, so that terrorists don't force us into a position of weakness where all we can do is hide.

I'm not sure what the point of Marvin Olasky's article is intended to be. It is a bit like an old time "Muslim Menace" article, and perhaps that's it. We should respect Muslims if they are willing to convert to Christianity or something, but otherwise we are enemies forever? I don't know. Certainly reminding us all of the Crusades in the middle of our current conflict isn't meant to encourage understanding of the Muslim world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

So you Want to be a Rock and Roll Star

I know my titles aren't making a lot of sense lately, but thems the breaks as they say.

I got this link from REMs website. The groups name is November 2 (I think), and they are apparently group of lefties that want to encourage as many as people to register and vote in the upcoming elections (which if memory serves, are being held on December 13).

That'd be funny if the Bush Campaign, last election, hadn't put out ficticious flyers in Democratic Districts (two bits of alliteration there, in case you didn't notice) which encouraged voters to go vote the day after the election.

Anyway the site has a really cool countdown to the election. It's apparently in 110 days 12 hours and 7 minutes, so get ready now. Book your parties in advance. I'm available to perform, but I must warn you that I no longer create balloon animals as part of my act.

A Functional Relationship

You know it really is a lot easier to debate when you just ignore the other sides position. Or distort it all out of reason. That's what today's William Safire column does.

"Think about that. Do today's groupthinkers believe that Osama bin Laden would sit down with Saddam in front of the world's cameras to sign a mutual assistance pact, establishing a formal relationship? Terrorists and rogue states don't work that way. Mass killers collaborate informally, without a photo op, even secretly."

The difficulty in uncovering evidence of a conspiracy is that failure to produce evidence is taken as proof of the conspiracy. The fact that we haven't been able to find any evidence of a collaboration between Saddam's Iraq and Al Qaeda is not evidence that such a link didn't exist but evidence of their skill in disguising that link.

Let is be clear on our terms. When we Democrats say there is no link between Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, we don't literally mean no link. We mean no operatative link. They weren't working together to hurt America.

It's impossible to prove a negative, of course, and perhaps some Democrats are making overly strong statements denying such a link. But the other side of the argument is that the Administration and it's defenders have had three years to prove an operative link, and they haven't succeeded yet. After a while, the failure to prove the link becomes a kind of evidence.

Which you don't seem to Understand

If you have already watched the add to get one day access to Salon, you might as well check out this interview with Ralph Nader as well. I don't think either Nader or Talbot comes of particularly well.

Here are a few exchanges.

"Nader: This is ridiculous. You're treating Republicans like they're all criminals. Did you ever hear of Republicans who might work with us on issues over the years, who might believe in civil liberties even though they might prefer a Republican ticket?

Talbot: Look, you and I know that those kinds of Republicans are few and far between. And I challenge you to show me that the bulk of this money you're getting from conservatives is meant to advance the cause of American consumers. I just don't believe that. And if that's not the case, why is your own running mate, Peter Camejo, saying that you should give back this money?

Yep, some Republicans aren't criminals. Nader's final comment before hanging up on Talbot is as follows.

"Nader: We're not going to play the fascist game of the two-party monopoly barricading itself from any competition, with all kinds of statutory obstruction that cost third parties immense time and money if they can surmount them. This is a dictatorship, which you don't seem to understand..."

Nader has the right to run, but he is showing a lot less attractive face than he did four years ago.

Goofy Article at Salon

Salon has a pretty negative opinion of Michael Moore, one they've had it for a long time. In 1997, they published an article by Daniel Radosh which stated, "For most people on the left, Moore is welcome news. Some of us, however, have had enough." They have taken the occasion off and on since then to take shots at Mr. Moore, and today they take another shot. But unlike some of their earlier efforts which made good cogent points, this one seems a little bizarre.

The story is this. Michael Moore has claimed that soldiers appreciate Fahrenheit 9/11. Bill Warhop, the author of this article, doubted this claim. So he took four soldiers with him to see Fahrenheit 9/11 and recorded their disapproval of it. This, along with the fact that the showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 was empty, proves that Michael Moore is a filthy liar.


Well, maybe Mr. Warhop isn't going quite that far. After all he does spend nearly two thirds of his article telling us of the difficult he had to go through just to get four soldiers to go see the movie with him. I mean that's surely the most interesting part of the article, isn't it? The struggles of the reporter to round up people to talk to. Much more interesting than the abbreviated comments of these four soldiers you managed to watch the movie with.

Anyway it turns out the four soldiers didn't like the movie and felt it portrayed the military in a bad light. They make some good points.

"They particularly disliked the scene of a U.S. patrol on Christmas Eve raiding an Iraqi house in search of a male suspect. Marks said, "They just showed the two women crying, 'He's a student.' They don't show you what those soldiers said before that. Maybe this Iraqi guy killed an American soldier, planted a bomb ..."

"We don't know why they're looking at this guy," Garcia complained. "We don't know if maybe they found 10 RPG rounds or 200 pounds of C4. All we get is the family screaming."

That's a fair complaint; we don't know. Odds are Mr. Moore doesn't know either or he knows that the guy was guilty. One has to assume that if Mr. Moore had known that this guy was totally innocent he would have made that explicit in his narrative. Pity Mr. Warhop didn't spend more time with the story rather than with his difficulty in getting the story.

Incidently, as for the question of whether the Military supports Fahrenheit 9/11, the answer is clearly, we don't have enough information. Mr. Moore has put up letters from soldiers who do support his work, and I'm sure that many exist. On the other hand, I'm sure that there are many who don't like Michael Moore and what he stands for. I don't know if you can really assess how it shakes out based on a handful of letters and four guys Mr. Warhop took to the movies.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


There's a lot of talk this week about increased speculation that they may postpone elections in the case of a terrorist attack. I think that Joshua Micah Marshall over at Talking Points Memo has the right analysis.

"Added to my suspicion [about plans to reschedule the elections] is the increasingly common refrain from the White House that the Madrid bombing was responsible for Spanish 'appeasement' in Iraq and the obvious subtext that the answer to any future terrorist attack would be to 'not give in', i.e. reelect President Bush."

I personally don't really think there is any serious plan to postpone elections. The race is still pretty tight, and any terrorist attack close to the election will help President Bush not hurt him (unless he does something really unpresidential).

On the other hand this is another slam duck victory for the conservatives. When the elections are held on time, they will get to go on and on about how we Democrats didn't believe that we could trust the President to hold elections. "You Democrats, you didn't believe that we would even hold elections. You thought President Bush was some kind of dictator. Well look at what's happened now." That kind of thing.

Intelligence Failures

As we all know the Senate Intelligence Committee has published a report which would seem to place the blame for the Iraqi War squarely with the CIA. The CIA misled the President and the President then inadvertently misled the American people. This report does have several unanswered questions the chief being were the CIA pressured into providing President Bush with a specific answer. This question won't be addressed any time soon, if at all. After all the Congress and the House are firmly in the control of the Republicans who have no interest in an answer to that question. Instead, they are happy to have a report that exonerates the President. Sort of.

We're a long way from "the buck stops here" though.

Anyway for more details on this story, check out this article at Salon.

In other news, David Limbaugh places the blame for taking us into Iraq can rest squarely on the shoulders of John Kerry and John Edwards. Yep, they are the one's who took our country into Iraq. I can imagine it now.

President Bush: I just don't know if the evidence is strong enough for us to invade Iraq.

Vice President Cheney: Yes, perhaps we shouldn't invade just now.

Senator Kerry (bursting into the Oval Office with John Edwards right behind him): Mister President, I demand that you invade Iraq immediately. Don't give a second thought to it.

Senator Edwards: Yeah, you'd better invade. So what if the intelligence isn't that great? Invade now and ask questions later.

President Bush: Well if you guys say so.
Actually I think David Limbaugh's point is that if Future President Kerry calls President Bush a liar he's a hypocrite because he voted for the Iraq War Resolution (IWR). Kerry has explained that he voted for the IWR in order to give President Bush mower power to force Saddam Hussein to open his country to inspectors again. President Bush then chose not to let the inspections process run it's full course but invaded prematurely.

It's interesting watching David Limbaugh condemning John Kerry for doing something Limbaugh probably thinks was a good idea. In other words, Tom Delay voted for that IWR as well. Is he also a liar? No. Because of course, Senator Tom Delay is a Republican. When you strip aside all the attempts to take a highminded tone, David Limbaugh and his brother have a pretty simple agenda. Republicans Good, Democrats Bad.

Monday, July 12, 2004

A Campaign of Ideas

Here's what Rush Limbaugh was talking about last week (which is apparently important enough to give a prominent spot near the top of his website).

"If you haven't seen this yet, what you need to do, you need to go to the Drudge Report, and take a look at the pictures there. Uh, you gotta click on the link that says "Can't Keep Hands Off Each Other." Looks like these guys are bringing that old Frankie Valli song from 1967: "Can't Keep My Hands Off of You." They're bringing it to life Kerry and Edwards are. You've got to look at these pictures. My gosh it's a couple of metrosexuals, and I'll tell you why. The issues have just gone south on them. The job numbers are the best they've ever been since 2000. We've got the situation in Iraq straightening out. So all these guys can do is act weird! It's absolutely el strange-o out there. Greetings -- and to me it looks like John Kerry finally, ladies and gentlemen, has found what's he's been looking for his whole life, and that is a trophy wife, in his vice presidential nominee, John Edwards."

And here's what Bob Herbert of the New York Times is talking about today.

"If we know that bin Laden and his top leadership are somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and that they're plotting an attack against the United States, why are we not zeroing in on them with overwhelming force? Why is there not a sense of emergency in the land, with the entire country pulling together to stop another Sept. 11 from occurring?

Why are we not more serious about this?

I don't know what the administration was thinking when it invaded Iraq even as the direct threat from bin Laden and Al Qaeda continued to stare us in the face. That threat has only intensified. The war in Iraq consumed personnel and resources badly needed in the campaign against bin Laden and his allies. And it has fanned the hatred of the U.S. among Muslims around the world. Instead of destroying Al Qaeda, we have played right into its hands and contributed immeasurably to its support.

Hmmmmmm. So who sounds more serious about protecting America? Of course there is always the possibility that this isn't a fair comparison. I mean Rush Limbaugh is America's Truth Detector. He is show prep for the rest of the media. The views presented on his program make more sense than anything anybody else is saying. I know all this because he says it every hour on the hour (right before he complains about how boastful John Kerry is).

But still, I think Mr. Herbert's comment is at least as germane as Rush Limbaugh'.

There are only two choices

You can read this comment thoroughly and leave a comment saying how great it is or you can appease the terrorists.

There are only two choices.

You can go see that great new Dodgeball (A true Underdog Story) movie or you can appease the terrorists.

There are only two choices.

You can either run around with no pants or you can appease the terrorists.

There are only two choices.

You can either appease the terrorists or you can appease the terrorists.

There are only two choices.

"There are two approaches to terrorists. One is to fight them with every weapon you can -- the military, intelligence services, interdiction of money flows, diplomacy. That is what George W. Bush is doing against the Islamist terrorists who struck Sept. 11. The other way is appeasement. Give the terrorists some of what they want, and hope that they will stop being terrorists any more."

The above quote is from Michael Barone. You can fight the war in the way President Bush has fought it or you can be an appeaser.

There are only two choices.

Only in the real world, there are a lot more choices. For example, you don't have to read this thoroughly (although if you got this far, my guess is that you have). You could have just skimmed it. You could have skipped it and read down to where I talk about comic books. You could of moved over to, say, Pen-Elayne on the Web. There are any number of things you could do.

And there are a lot of different strategies for dealing with Terrorism, many of which, in my opinion, would be more effective than what President Bush has done. I could go into ideas and suggestions, but that's not really the point. I just want to point out the inherent fallacy in saying . . .

There are only two choices.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Comic Book Round Up

I've written on comic books before but here a couple of recent purchases that I think are worth checking out.

Terra Obscura from America's Best Comics, is a little hard to describe. But take a bunch of golden age type heroes and place them in a modern world, albeit a world that was under the thumb of an alien race through most of the time they missed. This worlds "Batman," the Terror is now a completely electronic intelligence and has turned his city into a crime free police state. He has a ward, Tim, and their relationship might be the creepiest thing about this comic. It is at heart a sort of mystery, but in true Alan Moore style, it covers a lot of ground.

The Magnent. "I'm good at finding things . . . and when a man's partner's killed, he's supposed to do something about it.

Morgue attendent. "Isn't that a Humphrey Bogart line?

The Magnent. "So? It's still true."

Supreme Power from Marvel's Max line is a title I might have mentioned before. But I just got Issue 11 and it's revitalized my passion for this comic. Supreme Power is the retelling of the history of Squadron Supreme, a sort of alternate universe knock of DC's Justice League. As such they have a Superman named Hyperion, a Wonder Woman named Power Princess, and a Batman named Nighthawk. This is a very different Superman however. For one thing he's been raised by "parents" who are United States operatives working to ensure that he stays loyal to the United States of America (and completely and justifiably frightened of him). There's a chilling discussion held by a General in which he calmly discusses potential ways of killing Hyperion, over Hyperions crib. It's a dark story, but it also has a lot of humor and it works.

The Blur (to Hyperion): "You ever see one of those English Border Collies? Fast, strong, and smarter than any other dog on the planet. But you got to keep them busy, you get to give 'em homework and projects and goals.

I knew a guy had one, didn't keep it's mind occupied and over the summer it took apart his front porch with its bare teeth, board by board.

You don't give a dog like that something to do, a problem to solve, it goes crazy. And the last thing the world needs is somebody like you going crazy, you know what I'm saying?"

The Losers is from DC's Vertigo line. It's pretty testosteroni. It's about a CIA team sent into Afghanistan and betrayed by their leaders. In essence its a caper comic book, about guys who steal things from other guys. It's got great characters and great action. This one has the most distinct artwork (although the artwork in all these comic books is quite good). Strong characterization, but as mentioned above, full to the brim with masculine energy (if I can use such a new age cliche. But then again, who's going to stop me?)

Aisha (the only female character): "I was born in a desert place. War was my only mother. As a child, I moved through the battlefield and slit the throats of screaming Russian boys. I firebombed my first tank when I was twelve years old and machine-gunned the crew as the fled, burning.

And yet perhaps you expect me to be afraid of you? Tell me, what do you think?

Guy with Aisha's Knife against his ribs: "I think you have a very persuasive negotiating style."

Friday, July 09, 2004

I haven't been very diligent

I meant to post a fair amount today, but work caught up with me. I'll post on comic books tomorrow. Expect some Chuck Austin bashing.

In the meantime, a vaguely political cartoon from old Walt Kelly.

Round the Horn Part 2b or not 2b

Here we go.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has commentary on the story that the Bush Administration is putting pressure on Pakistan to have some major captures during the Democratic Convention.

On a similar note, Trish Wilson (Of Trish Wilson's Blog) has a letter from our president to that guy who runs pakistan. It's brilliant.

It's Craptastic has the low-down birds-eye scoop on President Bush's dissing of John Edwards political experience.

Musings Musing has even more fantabulous stuff about the Bush administration trashing John Edwards. It's so great I have to post two links (links go to different stories: here and here)

HLVictoria, over at New World Blogger, has a bone chilling story about the menace of Nepalese Buddhists with video cameras. There's also something in there about wrongful arrest of a guy who clearly is innocent; but that's the price you pay for being foreign.

Respectful of Otters has a solid round up of issues related to the nomination of John Edwards as the Vice Presidential Nominee. She's rounded them up. She's put them in the corral. All you have to do is read them.

Corrente has a lot of great stuff; one story that struck me was on how individual American citizens are Supporting the Troops and how the Bush Administration isn't.

Echidne of the Snakes has a bit on the perils of . . . well just the general peril of having ideas.

Speedkill has the 411 on how Vice Presidential people are picked, as well as a very funny letter to the NYPOst.

Chris "Lefty" Brown has some thoughts on Green Lantern, which is nice because I plan on talking about comics myself later on today.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Reality used to be a Friend of Mine

Incidently, our big catchphrase, which was haphazardly introduced and quickly forgotten, is still "Reality is Partisan." But that's a story for another day.

In 2000, Senator John McCain ran against then-governor Bush. The race was very dirty, and, of course, President Bush went on to become President (despite the handicap of having lost the election).

In 2004, The day Senator Kerry announces his running mate, Senator McCain is proud to appear in ads with President Bush, which clearly imply that he was Kerry's first choice and that he favors President Bush.

It might be instructive to remember how dirty the 2000 campaign against McCain was. The Bush Campaign ran leaflets accusing McCains wife of being a illegal drug user. The Bush Campaign ran leaflets in South Carolina insinuating that a little girl they had adopted from Bangladesh was McCain's illegitimate daughter. President Bush stood on stage with a man who called McCain a traitor and a Manchurian Candidate.

For more details check out Joe Conasons latest article, which I cribbed from. Mr. Conason has some strong questions for Mr. McCain.

This is not a sentence

Ann Coulter's latest article takes on John Edwards. For those who don't like subjecting yourselves to bile and venom, here's the short version. Edwards is a light weight and a trial lawyer, and the Democratic Party are liars.

Now for some venom and bile (notice how I reversed those two words? That's the mark of a good writer; always throwing change ups).

"I guess with John Kerry's choice of John Edwards as his running mate, he really does want to stand up for all Americans, from those worth only $60 million to those worth in excess of $800 million."

Both Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush are extremely wealthy, and President Bush was born into privilege and stayed there. He was more or less a complete washout as a business, but very skilled at being the President's son, and so managed to get bailed out by investors. They weren't investing in his company; they were investing in him and his connections.

"What is so amazing about Edwards' father being a millworker? That's at least an honorable occupation -- as opposed to being a trial lawyer. True, Edwards made more money than his father did. I assume strippers make more money than their alcoholic fathers who abandoned them did, too. This isn't a story of progress; it's a story of devolution."

Here we see the traditional Republican love of our American Justice system. I'm coming to believe that Republicans like Ann Coulter live in a fantasy world where all we need are Charles Bronson and Dirty Harry to have the power to blow criminals away and we can do away with the American Justice system all together. I mean the only purpose of the American Justice is to punish criminals, and if the cops could do that without getting Lawyers involved, so much the better.

It's not like there would ever be a legitimate reason for a person to sue a corporation or another person.

"So while Michael Moore, Al Franken, George Soros, Crazy Al Gore and the rest of the characters from the climactic devil-worshipping scene in "Rosemary's Baby" provide the muscle for the Kerry campaign, Kerry picks a pretty-boy milquetoast as his running mate, narrowly edging out a puppy for the spot."

That's just nice, isn't it? The Democratic Party as Satan Worshippers.

Anyway, that's all the bile and venom I can take today.

Left Behind

I am busy right now reading this website that is analyzing the Left Behind books in some detail. He makes this comment which I find fascinating.

"Evangelical Christianity, at its core, is radically inclusive. Evangelicals, born-againers, want everybody else to become born-again too.

Granted, this inclusivity isn't always expressed in the most winsome or persuasive manner, but it's the heart and soul of evangelicalism. As the Sunday school chorus quoted at the top of this post shows, the goal of evangelicals has traditionally been to reach out to the lost, to the "untold millions" of the unsaved.

Most evangelical fiction has conveyed this evangelistic impulse -- albeit with the unfortunate awkwardness and fecklessness that characterizes too much of their evangelism. But that's not what one finds in Left Behind. Here you find little concern -- and even less of a sense of responsibility -- for the plight of the untold millions. What one finds instead is a sense of triumphalism. Those "inside the fold" feel no sense of obligation to those on the outside -- they are bad people who are getting what they deserve and the godly remnant gets to watch, more in delight than in sadness.

Anyway if you have any interest in this subject, this website is the bees knees.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What does it mean to be an American?

Here's some comments on that subject by Archy, a fellow member of the Liberal Coalition, that are well worth checking out. I really can't add much to what he says; he's right.

Also, for good measure, here's a picture of a lamp.

More on Edwards

Nicholas D. Kristoff has an interesting article on the Edwards appeal today.

"The oddity is that President Bush manages to come across as a real guy (a triumph of marketing), while John Kerry still has the whiff of an aloof Massachusetts liberal.

This is where Mr. Edwards comes in. If you look at the Democratic ticket through the prism of places like Yamhill, Mr. Edwards, the son of a millworker and a postal worker, appears down-to-earth and trustworthy, a fellow who strikes a chord on values as well as issues. So the Democrats gain street credibility among blue-collar voters, and a leader who can help win back the Reagan Democrats.

This is a good point. The people's acceptance of President Bush as a normal down-to-earth guy is somewhat baffling, although I know he's worked very hard (or not worked at all) to give that impression. Edwards will help provide a contrast to that image.

But unlike Lieberman (who could play the religion card if nothing else) Edwards program is pretty solidly progressive. This is a guy who understands what kind of America most people live in and will fight to improve that America.

Also note the end of the article, where we have a story on Genocide occurring in the Sudan. You might also check out this post at This Modern World.

Edwards is the Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate

Here at Make me a Commentator, our top reporters bring you yesterdays big story. After it's news but before it becomes nostalgia, like an old fish.

OK, maybe I need a better slogan writing department.

Basically the consensus is that Edwards is a good pick. Even some of the Conservatives are saying that, although they are also trying to find ways to pick apart Kerry and Edwards. That is, after all, their jobs.

What is interesting is that while many democrats seem excited by the prospect of a debate between Senator John Edwards and Vice President Dick Cheney, comparatively few Republicans seem enthused by the possibility.

Instead they are trying to get him dismissed sight unseen by suggesting that the selection of Senator Edwards means that the Kerry Campaign doesn't care about the War on Terror. That's Jonah Goldberg's point.

But of course having a President in the White House who understands combat and the value of our troops lives might make a bit of a difference.

Linda Chavez compares Edwards to Dan Quayle, " minus Quayle's more impressive Senate accomplishments." The difference there is that Edwards had run an impressive campaign, giving people the opportunity to know what he stands for. I can understand how lazy conservative commentators might not know much about him, but most tuned-in Americans probably do.

Salon has an article on the upcoming vice presidential debates, with this fascinating quote.

""I can't imagine two human beings that are more polar opposites than John Edwards and Dick Cheney," said Alan Schroeder, a professor at Northeastern University and expert on presidential debates. "I see Cheney as this dour character who exists on the dark side, with a sense of suspicion and almost paranoia about him, and then you've got the sunny optimist Edwards, who was very reluctant to criticize his opponents in the primaries, never went negative, and had a message that was serious but not the least bit paranoid. There is so much that's different in their personalities and their politics; their debate could be an unpredictable, volatile mix of elements."

Should be fun.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

More on Moore

I've criticized the movie. I don't think many will find the movie flawless. But I do want to point out the difference between liberal criticism such as the Daily Howler or Paul Krugman might make, and the way that Republicans are portraying such problems.

You see, Conservative Republicans, particularly Limbaugh Republicans, don't want people to see the film. They have made and are still making efforts to limit your ability to see the film, but such efforts have largely failed. So they have to talk you out of seeing it. Here's the game; Small flaws in an otherwise fine and thought provoking film are magnified to an enormous extent. Finding small things to pick apart, so that they don't have to grapple with the larger questions that Mr. Moores movie asks.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Matthew 7:3-5
Simple right?

The key problem with Mr. Moore's movie, from the viewpoint of the Limbaugh Right, is that it reminds us all of the cost of war. The Bush administration doesn't want us thinking about the cost, because then we might compare that to the reasons we invaded Iraq. Let's run down the reasons.

1. Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Just today the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released information that the Central Intelligence Agency had been provided with evidence from relatives of Iraqi Scientists that Saddam had abandoned his programs to develop unconventional weapons. The official story is that they chose not to pass on this information to the President. I guess we know why George Tenet resigned.

2. Iraq has operational agreements with Al Qaeda.

They didn't, and nobody is claiming they do at this point. Even the Administration has backed of on this one, now claiming that Iraq merely had a relationship with Al Qaeda. Well, so did the Central Intelligence Agency. The only kind of relationship that would have justified invasion is a collaborative relationship to attack the United States. They haven't even come close to proving that. Instead they just like saying Saddam and Al Qaeda together a lot so that we get the subconscious idea that they are connected.

3. We want to liberate the people of Iraq, and give the Middle East a freedom- loving democratic state to emulate.

I wish this were possible, and maybe it is. Someday. But things like Abu Ghraib and other horror stories we've heard don't strike me as the way to accomplish this goal. Seems like it's more likely to push Iraq the other direction. I guess it would be nice if the idiots that run this country hadn't bought into this notion that Invading and holding Iraq would be a cakewalk. Our troops were able to defeat Saddam's army, but the administration has failed that effort and sacrifice by failing to plan for the peace.

Anyway I'm closing with the words of Michael Moore from a recent article, on putting out the Flag, that he posted at his website.

. . . I intend to perform what I believe is my patriotic duty. I can't think of a more American thing to do than raise questions - and demand truthful answers - when our leader wants to send our sons and daughters off to die in a war.

If we don't do that - the bare minimum - for those who offer to defend our country, then we have failed them and ourselves. They offer to die for us, if necessary, so that we can be free. All they ask in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. And with this war, we have broken faith with our troops by sending them off to be killed and maimed for wrong and immoral reasons.
I guess I'm not doing very good at being non-political. Oh well.

I'm Sick of Politics

Taking a break for at least a day.

One other point to the movie; they used Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" as the outtro music for the film, but they chopped it up something awful. I am guessing in part to make the words fit the message of the movie better? I don't know. Anyway here are the lyrics of the song. I'll italicize the one's they used in the movie.

Rockin' in the Free World

There's colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin' their feet
People sleepin' in their shoes
But there's a warnin' sign
on the road ahead
There's a lot of people sayin'
we'd be better off dead

Don't feel like Satan,
but I am to them
So I try to forget it,
any way I can.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

I see a woman in the night
With a baby in her hand
Under an old street light
Near a garbage can
Now she puts the kid away,
and she's gone to get a hit
She hates her life,
and what she's done to it
There's one more kid
that will never go to school
Never get to fall in love,
never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.

We got a thousand points of light
For the homeless man
We got a kinder, gentler,
Machine gun hand

We got department stores
and toilet paper
Got styrofoam boxes
for the ozone layer
Got a man of the people,
says keep hope alive
Got fuel to burn,
got roads to drive.

Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world
Keep on rockin' in the free world,
Keep on rockin' in the free world.
Great song from a great album.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

Just got back from seeing it. Very very powerful movie, even though it has some problematic bits. The section on the Saudis being allowed to fly out of the country could have been put a bit more clearly, although it is not as deceptive as Republicans make it out to be.

On the other hand the tracing of the links between President Bush and his family and Osama Bin Ladin and his family are very clear, and are not something people are as aware of as they should be. Also shocking are statements made by some in the administration early in 2001 to the effect that Saddam Hussein was being effectively contained.

I don't understand how anybody could see this movie and come away with the belief that Michael Moore doesn't love his country. The only people who believe that are the liars and sophists who want to convince us all that the only way to love America is to be conservative and those blamed fools who believe them.

The most gut-wrenching parts of the movie center around Flint Michigan resident Lila Lipscomb, and her son, who was killed in Iraq. It's hard not to watch those scenes and not be affected. Her visit to the white house grounds, where she is accused of staging her visit, and urged to "Blame al-Qaeda" for her son's death are terribly emotional.

But it doesn't answer the question of whether the war should have been entered into at all. If you believe that the war was beneficial and had good reasoning behind it, well, as painful as it is to say this, Ms. Lila Lipscomb's story becomes irrelevant. Good people have died in every war since this country was founded; people who didn't deserve to die, and many of those deaths have been needless. Civilians have been terrorized and killed in many if not most wars. It's part of war, and if you accept war as part of the foreign policy, you have to also accept the cost of war.

On the other hand, if you believe, as I have come to believe, that this was the wrong war at the wrong time, waged for false and deceptive reasons, than that cost seems unbearable. To paraphrase the current Democratic Presidential Candidate, how can we ask Lila Lipscomb to give her son for a mistake? How?

Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

Why didn't we invade Afghanistan with a sufficient force to catch Osama Bin Ladin?

Why did we let Afghanistan become a crap hole after we invaded it?

Why do we buy the idea that just having "relations" with al-Qaeda is good enough? The United States had "relations" with Osama bin Ladin, are we committed to invading ourself?

Why doesn't President Bush look at Saudi Arabia, the country where 15 of the Hijackers came from, as well as Osama bin Ladin and his family?

I don't have the answers to these questions and dozens of others. I suspect I never will.