Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Supporting our Troops For Real

I intended to post this on Monday but did not in fact do so. I consider it well worth considering as Mr. Deitrick makes a number of really good points.

Supporting Our Troops for Real
by Conrad Deitrick

There’s much talk these days of Supporting Our Troops. It’s a buzzword (buzzphrase?), like Saying No to Drugs used to be in the 1980’s or Tolerance in the 1990’s. In the reality that is now, if you support the troops you’re patriotic and a true American with values, but if you don’t support the troops, you’re unpatriotic, loathsome and maybe even a terrorist sympathizer. Not Supporting Our Troops in the 2000’s is like being secretly a Communist in the 1950’s. Political suicide at the least. Accusations of treason.

So everyone has to say they support the troops, vocally and publicly. You see it on bumper stickers, on t-shirts, on buttons. Politicians bandy it about; it’s the preemptive defense that you have to erect, especially if you’re a Democrat, lest someone point the finger and yell j’accuse and you’re hauled off to meet Mme Guillotine. The accusation alone is proof of guilt.

The problem is that really, it’s a bunch of rhetoric. I see a bumper sticker that says “Support Our Troops,” and I wonder what that person really is doing to support the troops. I’d wager nothing at all. Sure, they may write letters to some soldier in the family who they love and are proud of and hope makes it home safely, but that’s not Supporting the Troops. It’s supporting a troop.

The bumper stickers and rhetoric amount to little more than cheerleading, but even less effective. At a football game, the cheerleaders are right there on the sidelines. This “Support Our Troops” stuff is on the other side of the world from most of our troops in combat. Does it bolster their morale? Maybe a little. Knowing that people back home are proud of you does help a little, but when things are really bad and you’re cold, wet, hot, scared, and feeling pretty puny, cheerleading is pretty low on the list of what raises morale. It almost feels like a slap in the face sometimes. It’s hard to explain, but getting one warm shower and something to eat and a good night’s sleep will do more for your morale than all the bumper stickers and t-shirts in the world. And you know what would really help? Going home.

So it’s a little irritating because Support Our Troops is an ever-present droning mantra here in the states, but it’s almost worthless. An empty gesture. Even worse, sometimes it seems like a slap in the face: America pats them on the back and tells them they’re in its prayers and then places them in harm’s way and asks them to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the burden over and over again. “We love you and we’re proud of you, but guess what? You don’t get to go home to your wife and the daughter you’ve never seen because we’re involuntarily extending your enlistment and keeping you out here.”

So, here’s my point: If you want to Support the Troops for real, here are some things you can do.

1. Support measures that increase the military’s manpower, especially active duty manpower. Write to your congressmen. Yes, the generals say there are enough troops on the ground, but how long do they have to stay there? And how many times do the same troops have to come back? Given the current situation, the military is stretched pretty thin. Multiple deployments, even back-to-back, are becoming the rule instead of the exception. Deployments are getting longer. Especially for the reservists and Guardsmen who make up roughly half of our military strength, this is a terrible trial. If the need were dire, we’d suck it up and do our duty- out duty is what we signed up to do. But the need isn’t dire. The USA has a population of nearly 300 million, and our current military strength is tiny in comparison. Increasing the size of the military is simply a matter of spending the money to make it happen. With more manpower, there would be no need for back-to-back deployments. After soldiers, especially Guardsmen and reservists, have done their duty they would be able to go home, secure in the knowledge that they have done their duty and served with honor but now it’s someone else’s turn.

2. Encourage young men and women to enlist. How many military-aged men and women are hanging out on college campuses, living it up on mom and dad’s credit card and getting drunk every night while the same reservists and Guardsmen have to leave their wives and families over and over again? If you are the right age and medically capable, enlist. Yeah, you’ve got plans for your life, you’ve got places you want to go and things you want to accomplish, but so do all of those soldiers whose dreams and plans are being put on hold while they do their duty. Are your dreams better or more worthy than theirs? I doubt it.

3. Find out what things soldiers need, and send them packages. It doesn’t have to be just your son or daughter or brother or aunt. That relative you have in the military probably has battle buddies that might not get care packages- it would be incredible for a whole squad to find that one of their mothers had sent them all things like baby wipes, cheap but durable sunglasses, DVDs to kill the boredom, books, etcetera.

4. When the troops come home, cut them some slack! They’ve been living a life that is fundamentally different from what they’re coming home to. There’s going to be an adjustment period- it might involve a short temper, and there might be all kinds of trouble. Don’t be a fair-weather friend and turn their back on them when they don’t fit in right or when they lose their temper easily. Don’t nail them to the wall the first time they tell a tasteless joke. Please realize that this young man or woman has just had their entire world shaken up in a way you can’t even imagine and they’re doing the best they can to adjust. They’re transitioning from a world where a whole different set of norms and expectations are in place. If they don’t fit the socially acceptable mold you think they should, give them some time. Give them some leeway. Be patient. Be understanding.

5. Support expanded financial and other benefits for soldiers. Again, the Guardsmen and reservists are making a big sacrifice; many times they’re leaving a good job with a high salary to serve and make a whole lot less money. Things like pay raises, increased separation pay, increased combat pay, and other non-money benefits like Tricare are a way the Troops can really be supported. What can you do about it? Write to your congressman.

6. Support political candidates who seek to strengthen America’s alliances in the world. The more the US tries to go it alone, the more our Troops have to carry the burden. Weighing Down Our Troops and Spreading Our Troops Too Thin are definitely not the same thing as Supporting Our Troops.

7. Find out what businesses deal fairly with their reservist and Guardsmen employees, and make sure you patronize them. At the same time, find out what businesses give their reservist and Guardsmen employees a raw deal and boycott- and let them know why you’re boycotting them.

There are probably more ways than that, and in fact, there should be a number 8: look for ways you can Support Our Troops for real. Toss the t-shirt and the bumper sticker and let your actions speak for you- actions are so much louder than words.

The Other Side

Of course criticism of the New York Times isn't limited to just the Right Side of the dial. FAIR has some criticisms of how they have reported the war as well. Take this story on how they have dealt with Civilian casualties, for example. Basically FAIR argues that the times minimizes the numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths.
In three recent reports about the military invasion of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, the New York Times has misreported the facts about the April 2004 invasion of the city and the toll it took on Iraqi civilians.

On November 8, the Times reported: "In April, American troops were closing in on the city center when popular uprisings broke out in cities across Iraq. The outrage, fed by mostly unconfirmed reports of large civilian casualties, forced the Americans to withdraw. American commanders regarded the reports as inflated, but it was impossible to determine independently how many civilians had been killed."

The next day, the Times made the same point, reporting that the U.S. "had to withdraw during a previous fight for the city in April after unconfirmed reports of heavy civilian casualties sparked outrage among both Sunni and Shiite Iraqis." And on November 15, the Times noted that the current operation "redressed a disastrous assault on Fallujah last April that was called off when unconfirmed reports of large civilian casualties drove the political cost too high."
FAIR's opinion is that these stories portray the casualties as unconfirmed. My read is that they are placing the stories in time; at that time that the United States withdrew from Fallujah, those reports were unconfirmed. That said, I would be interested to know if the original stories had some message about the information on Iraqi Casualties that has come out since then.

This issue does, however, underline the point that we know a lot more about how many American Soldiers have died verses how many Iraqi civilians have died during our occupation.

There are some difficult questions that have to be answered before you can start counting Iraqi Civilian Deaths. Do you count just those deaths caused by the Coalition forces? Do you count those caused by insurgent movements? How do you count insurgents? Obviously President Bush and his supporters would like a standard that minimizes the number of Iraqi Casualties. Opponents of President Bush want a standard that shows the maximum number of Iraqi casualties. So you see a pretty wide range of numbers.

But it strikes me that the media has largely chosen to face this issue by avoiding it. Which I'm not sure is the best strategy. If we are to judge whether the Iraq war is a success or failure we need to have at least some idea of the cost of the war.

Reading the Times

The Media Research Center, Brent Bozell's organization to remove all liberalism from the news, has set up Times Watch, a website dedicated to proving that the Times is biased. This is a gold-mine for me, since I can go and read the articles they are talking about and see if their complaints are valid.

Take this story, entitled "Shadow of Vietnam Falls Over Iraq River Raids," by John F. Burns, which appeared at the New York Times yesterday. My guess is that the people writing articles at Times Watch just were gleeful as all get out when they saw that title. I mean the story practically writes itself, doesn't it? The Times thinks that Iraq is just like Vietnam and that shows that they are defeatist.

In the article, Mr. Burns offers several details that validate the Vietnam Comparison. For one thing he hears the soldiers themselves making the comparison. Although he notes that most Soldiers don't think a lot about Vietnam. He also notes that the river combat along the Tigris and Euphrates is similar in some respects to the river combat of Vietnam.

Most damning, however, is the suggestion that our allies may not be everything one would hope for in allies.
At one point, Lieutenant Duarte bridled when some of the Iraqis resisted his repeated urging that they spread out along the line, preferring to cluster together, ineffectively, at one end. A Marine sergeant told him that the Iraqis were officers and did not feel that they should be asked to work side by side with common soldiers.

One of the Iraqi officers, asked if he spoke English, replied snappily, "English no good. Arabic good. Iraq good." The message seemed clear.

Although recruits in the new Iraqi units undergo strict vetting, American officers say rebel sympathizers have infiltrated some of the new units - some of the soldiers have been caught tipping off rebel groups.
Hmmmmm. Allies we can't exactly trust. Where have we seen that before?

But the Times Watch analysis isn't interested in determining whether or not Mr. Burns had a good argument. They are only interested in pointing out that the point that Mr. Burns made contradicts Conservative orthodoxy, and is therefore wrong, regardless of any evidence offered.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Should the Media have an Adverserial Relationship to the President?

Goodness gracious, not right now! Currently we have a Republican President, so naturally the media should play a supportive role in getting his message out. When we have a Democratic President again, that's when the Media should be aggressive.

Look at this statement by Fox News Personality Bill O'Reilly. "Well, I think Fox News Channel was lucky because we were less skeptical of the war, and the war went very well. So we won." Well, of course there is some debate over whether the war went well. But not the way Mr. Reilly puts this. They were less skeptical of the war, and since the war went well, they won. That's not the same as saying, "We sifted the evidence, evaluated it, and determined that this was the right war." Not the same at all. FAIR has a pretty good response to this.
If you believe that a journalistic enterprise "wins" not by cheerleading for the more powerful side, but instead by informing its audience, then a recent study indicated that Fox News was actually the biggest loser during the war. The survey, by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found that misconceptions about the Iraq war were closely related to what news outlets an individual relied on for information. And for each misperception studied by the research group, viewers of Fox News were the most likely to be misinformed.
Of course that depends on what Fox News viewers want to be informed on. If they want to be informed on what is actually going on, this is negative. But if they want to hear that everything is fine and President Bush is wonderful, well, than Fox is giving them what they want.

The Assumption

The assumption is that the Media is clearly biased for Conservatives. We aren't talking about a little bias, such that all humans are susceptible to. We are talking about massive bias against conservative, Conservative ideas, and conservative politicians. Bias that leads to dishonest and deceptive reporting.

That assumption makes for a nice short hand. If you read the article in which FAIR suggested that the media were biased in how they select liberal and conservative panelists, you will see that they provided several examples of this bias on a variety of networks. This is very time consuming. Proponents of liberal bias, like the MRC, don't have to do nearly as much work, because they can assume already that their audience agrees that the media is awful.

Another favorite "proof" of media bias is that polls indicate that many Americans believe that the media is biased. Funny that, after decades of conservatives telling Americans that the media is biased a lot of them believe that they are biased.

The Media Research Center's 2004 campaign was called "Tell the Truth," by which they mean present conservative beliefs. The truth is that the economy is going gangbusters. So stories that suggest that Wal-Mart reported a drop in holiday spending, are clearly examples of liberal bias. Stories that report the difficulties our troops face in Iraq are also liberally biased. Stories that report that President Bush's economic policies are working wonderful are "telling the truth." Simple.

The Face Off

I don't know whether I'll stick with this or not, but it is a subject I'm interested in so maybe I will. As you know the media is worthy of criticism. And as you know both Conservatives and Liberals have some critiques for the media. The right has organizations like Brent Bozell's Media Research Center. The left has Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). But as we shall see over the coming days, their approaches differ a bit.

FAIR, for example, doesn't assume that the media is biased conservative and assume that any readers assume that as well. This forces them to provide a little more information. Take a recent article on how the cable networks select guests for their panels.
Though such debate segments purport to pit right against left, centrist pundits are routinely substituted for the left on panels, while progressives are often excluded altogether.

Debates matching conservatives with centrists are a cable television tic so pervasive that a small army of centrist pundits has formed whose motto might as well be, "I'm not a leftist but I play one on TV."
Take a second and consider how many strong conservative voices you can think of. Now consider how many strong liberal voices you can think of. That should tell you something.

The Cable News Networks have promoted conservatives and conservative views by letting them appear opposite centrists or (even better) reporters. Some of you might think that, since reporters are automatically liberals, this is a good match. Except that reporters have to maintain an air of being unbiased, while the conservatives are allowed to be as biased as they like. It's an unfair fight.

Which is exactly what Conservatives want, I guess.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

New Format, New Quote!

I might have used this weeks logo once previously--I am running to the end of my barrel of logos; so will have to make some more.

Anyway new quote, and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Your Weekly Rush: If I Wrote a History Book

Rush Limbaugh is thinking about writing a history book for kids. But as he explains that isn't the real problem. The real problem is the text books. They are all liberal!
I said yesterday that what needs to happen now with this great victory here and this alignment of political parties, conservatism needs to constantly be referenced and taught. Take the opportunity here to realign the country ideologically as well. It's a long-term project and part of it is wresting control back of the public school system from the left.
Teaching the History the Rush Limbaugh way is simple. All you do is ignore any historical fact that conflicts with conservatism. Any historical fact that conflicts with conservatism is to be expunged from the record.

Take for example Civil Rights. You will teach that the party that opposed integration was the Democratic party. You will teach that the Civil Rights bills passed because of Republican Votes. You will not teach that those who opposed integration and supported segregation made a beeline for the Republican Party. You will not teach that the civil rights movements was spearheaded by liberals. Simple, right?

Because the purpose of schools isn't to pass on correct and complete knowledge, but to pass on ideology. Conservative ideology.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Talkin' Thanksgiving Blues

I was offline yesterday by choice for two reasons, I was out eating turkey and I was playing World of Warcraft. For those non-Gamers out there, it's one of the online RPGs like Everquest or Ultima Online. It's pretty fun, and the graphics are, if not the most advanced, some of the most attractive.

Anyway I want to get back to playing it right now, but I did want to point you to an article by Mr. John Conosan on the future improvements President Bush wants to make to our tax system. He mentions that the Bushies plan to eliminate the ability for private citizens to write off state and local taxes and the tax deduction for those companies who provide health care to their employees. This in order to give Barbara Streisand and other Hollywood creampuffs more money to spend. He neglects to mention that both of those items may very well be bargaining chips; placed on the table so they can be taken off to protect more important parts of this new "Tax Reform."

Have a nice Friday.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

You May Be Doing This, You May Be Doing That

The Plaid Adder, a columnist for Democratic Underground, has a review of the lost Lynne Cheney Novel Sisters, which is mostly famous because it contains a lesbian subplot (although it does not, in fact, contain any lesbian sex). Anyway the review is worth checking out. If nothing else, it reminds us all that we are fundamentally screwed up when it comes to Sex and to Class.

Boy life in the 1920s was great wasn't it?

Conservative paradise. The 1920s had a tiny bit of regulation (brought on by the progressive movement and "The Jungle") but not nearly as much as it would gain later. If only we could go back to those wonderful times before Franklin D. Roosevelt.

At least that's the take of Raymond J. Keating, writing for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship council. He makes fun of a plan by which Thanksgiving was briefly the third Thursday rather than the fourth, because businesses convinced President Roosevelt that it would extend the shopping season. Congress passed a law mandating it be on the fourth Thursday and that was that.
FDR's "Thanksgiving economics" turned out to a real turkey. But it was emblematic of the misguided economic thinking put forth throughout his administration. FDR's economics was about putting more control and resources in the hands of politicians and government bureaucrats. His policies and often his rhetoric attacked the businesses, investors and risk takers that create economic growth and jobs. That simply led to a deeper and more prolonged economic downturn. Rather than engaging in pointless efforts like changing the date of Thanksgiving, it would have been far more productive for FDR to roll back the enormous tax and regulatory burdens that he and his predecessor (Herbert Hoover) had placed on the private sector.
This isn't an entirely accurate depiction of Roosevelts policies by the way. It helps Mr. Keating's argument for us to forget that corporations were guilty of some real atrocities in the 1920s and 1930s. On March 7, 1932, for example, Thugs under the employ of General Motors shot down peaceful Union protesters. Unions weren't even allowed to exist in 1932, incidentally. Workers had no recognized rights.

But the larger point is a fundamental difference in the way Mr. Keating looks at the world and the way others might look at it. Compare and contrast the following two statements.
The American entrepreneur is the fundamental force in our society. He alone is responsible for creating America's success and therefore all other societal concerns should be suborned to his needs.

The American worker's ingenuity and labor is responsible for creating the prosperity we all enjoy. Without the hard work done by the American Working Man and Working Woman, America would be nowhere. We should therefore protect him and her, economically and physically.
Fundamentally different. Personally I would say that both miss the mark, although the first one misses it by more. Particularly when you realize that by Mr. Keating's standards an entrepreneur's needs are pretty much whatever he would like. Anything that cuts into an entrepreneur's profits should be done away with, regardless of how that would hurt other American citizens.

But they both miss the mark a little, in the sense that we need everybody in society. It reminds me a bit of a scriptural reference.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
Granted this passage (1 Corinthians 12:14-20) is meant to refer to Christ's church, but the point I think is equally applicable to American Society. There are people who want to lop off a part of our society under the assumption that that would make us better. Get rid of those snooty professors? First thing we do is kill all the lawyers? You get the idea. The truth is that we need everybody in America, and therefore America needs to work for everybody. To quote Toby Ziegler from the West Wing. "We have to say what we feel. That government--no matter what its failures were in the past, and in times to come, for that matter--the government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind."

Anyway something to think about.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Daily Howler

I really enjoy the Daily Howler, and I think all of you should read them regularly. Particularly those of you who believe that the media is liberal should check it out. This last week they have discussed the NFL / Desperate Housewives flap with a lot of perceptiveness.
Why might some folks have objected to the MNF skit? Duh! For the reason these people have endlessly stated—because they were watching the program with their kids, and found the skit inappropriate. As we’ve said, you don’t have to agree with that judgment, although we ourselves are inclined to. But if you want to be a sentient being on the planet Earth, you have to be able to consider the possibility that people who found the promo inappropriate aren’t hypocrites, liars, sexists, sleazeballs or racists. You have to consider the possibility that there’s more than one way to react.
These words are dead on, in my opinion.

Good News from the Rockies

Interesting article at the Nation that suggests that Democrats may not be as endangered in the Rocky Mountains as previously thought.
On the same day that George W. Bush was winning nationally and Republicans were increasing their majorities in Congress, Democrats in the eight states of the Rocky Mountain West were winning state and local contests at a rate not seen in decades and offering valuable lessons for the national Democratic Party, organized labor and progressive activist groups that are sorely in need of new models for campaigning. "Before the pundits write this off as the year when nothing seemed to work right for the Democrats," says Montana Democratic Party executive director Brad Martin, "there is a Western story that needs to be told."
Nice to know. The article covers how the Democrats are doing better and why they are doing better. One somewhat scary thought for the Republicans is the idea that issues of Morality might eventually play themselves out.
For instance, while many pundits saw in the national election results a signal that Democrats were out of touch with "moral values"--the hot code phrase for opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights--Western Democrats found that one of their big advantages was a growing sense among voters that Republicans had gotten a little too in touch--or, to be more precise, obsessed--with that theme.
Anyway interesting and heartening article. For Democrats, at any rate.

The Old Bait and Switch

This is a popular tactic. Today it applies to the budget an an article by Cal Thomas. One popular technique of some conservatives (and some liberals too, actually) is to pull out some particularly egregious budget expenditures, as Mr. Thomas does here.
Other "golden eggs" laid by the Congressional geese include $450,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame, $200,000 for the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in Ohio, $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, $1.5 million for the Anchorage Museum/Transit intermodal depot in Alaska, $250,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame, $100,000 for the Municipal Swimming Pool in Ottawa, Kan., $35,000 for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, $300,000 to build the Great Falls parking garage in Auburn, Maine, and $1.5 million for departing Congressman Richard Gephardt's archive at the Missouri Historical Society.
Let's see what we got here. Nine items. Six of them are museums of one kind or another. One is a swimming pool, one a parking garage. And finally we have a plan to preserve the papers of Richard Gephardt. I have to say I don't have much problem with any of these items. I like museums. I think the government should help to preserve our culture, even if that culture is something like Country Music. I think it's telling that Cal Thomas picks Museums as his target.

On a side note, Tom Tomorrow captured a quote from Rush Limbaugh back in the nineties that Cal Thomas, a fellow talk show guy, might enjoy. "I don't go to museums because they don't have golf carts . . . If you put a golf cart in a museum I'll go. You can get around a lot faster."

Anyway back to the old bait and switch. Let's take the most expensive item on the list--$1.5 million to preserve the papers of Richard Gephardt (who, as a liberal, can go to hell). Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Well the President's proposed 2005 budget has expenditures of $2,853 billion. So to put that in perspective, all that money wasted on preserving the papers of a long-time and influential member of congress? Comes to approximately 0.0000526% of the total budget. Reading down in Mr. Thomas's article we see that Citizens Against Government Waste has rounded up all of these wasteful type programs and their total comes to nearly $23 billion in wasteful projects. Let's be charitable and round up to the nearest billion. That still only accounts for 0.81% of the budget.

Here's where the switch part comes. Cal Thomas has dozens of other massive programs he wants you to support. Things like a national sales tax (because the poor have it too easy in this country). Things like passing a non-defined taxpayer bill of rights. Somehow tort reform (in other words making it harder for citizens to defend themselves against corporations on the theory that Americans can't be trusted to sit on juries) will also help with the budget as well.

The one thing Mr. Thomas is hoping you don't think about is the other side of the equation. A budget involves two parts, an input and an output. Revenues and expenditures. Maybe having the wealthy among us pay a bit more would somehow allow us to let the kids of Ottawa Kansas to have a swimming pool.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Confusion Beats

I just noticed this in the comments section of my post on Tom Delay, and felt it required a more prominent place on my board.

The following rule WILL BE enforced on this blog as is required of all DUers.

Troops Support will be faked.

We know you are a terrorist sympathizer, but you WILL NOT post such on this board.

Failure to obey this rule will result in dire consequences.

We required the same at DU and enforcement of this rule is now in effect at DU.
DU Link 1
DU Link 2
DU Link 3

You will see derSkinner has chosen to adopt this enforcement rather than face our wrath.

This will be your only warning.
Here's my dilemma; this mandates that I fake support for the troops. But I actually do support the troops. How can you fake something you actually have? Is that logically possible? Epistemologically possible?

I mean how can you pretend to believe something you actually believe?

For those who don't know I strongly support our troops. I have a brother who served in the Marines and a father who served in the Air Force. I have friends who will probably be in Afghanistan next year. If anything my respect and admiration for our troops is one thing that prompts me to be very critical of how President Bush has used them.

It goes without saying but I have no fear of the wrath the DU Wolverines, incidentally. It should be clear to all that they are bunch of losers with delusions of masculinity.

Red State, Blue State

Here's an interesting statistic; the state with the fewest divorces? Massachusetts. Which is interesting when you set it against some of the claims made on behalf of the red states (many of which have divorce rates well over the national average) by pandering politicians and pundits.

Now that's some nice alliteration.

But it's not as meaningful as it looks; sure things aren't as wonderful in the red states as some would like to pretend, but that doesn't mean that the only answer is that people in Massachusetts are more moral than people in, say, Texas. There are any number of other explanations possible.

The Hammer

This is a story I haven't spent a lot of time on, but it's worth being aware of. Tom Delay, the House majority leader, is being investigated for campaign finance violations in the 2002 election (the election which, if you will recall, gave him the power to redistrict the state to ensure a conservative majority). House rules require him to set aside his leadership status for the duration of the investigation. So naturally Senate Republicans are rewriting the rules to allow Delay to stay in power.

My favorite quote by Tom Delay was when he said, "Emotional appeals about working families trying to get by on $4.25 an hour are hard to resist. Fortunately, such families do not exist."

For the record, they do exist.

Anyway E. J. Dionne, Jr. writes on this issue today, and makes a telling comment.
Recall how Republicans dismissed any and all who charged that the investigations of President Bill Clinton by special prosecutor Ken Starr were politically motivated. Ah, but those were investigations of a shady Democrat by a distinguished Republican. When a Democrat is investigating a Republican, it can only be about politics. Is that clear?
We'll have to see how far this goes. I'm a little surprised that some other ambitious republican isn't suggesting they keep to the rules. I mean if Delay has to step down there's going to be an opening, isn't there? I guess it's a tribute to the Republican spirit of unity.


43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

St. Matthew 5:43-44
It defies reason and upends morality to claim that God loves both Saddam Hussein and the innocent Kurds he gassed to death -- that He bestows His love on Osama bin Laden no less than on the 3,000 souls he butchered on 9/11. Of course we should pray that an evildoer will realize the awfulness of his ways and atone for his crimes. But to love him even if he doesn't? To bless him when he dies? God forbid! To bless the Hitlers and the Arafats of this world is to betray their victims. That we must never do.

Jeff Jacoby,
When Hatred is Necessary
Interesting contrast.

Now in all fairness, Mr. Jacoby is not a Christian and can hardly be expected to see the world in that light. And he does make it clear that he understands Christian belief, but this passage seems to attack a central belief of Christianity as unreasonably and immoral.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Saturday, November 20, 2004

This Thing of Ours

Mr. Tom Tomorrow wrote a post a day or so ago on the blogging phenomenon. I've found Mr. Tomorrow's position on blogging interesting because he is both a blogger and a strong critic of blogging. I think it boils down to he's in favor of himself and a few other select bloggers blogging, and lukewarm (at best) towards most other bloggers.

I think it has to do with the devaluing of opinion. Anybody can start a blog (as I'm sure you've noticed). There's little peer review and even less editorial control. It has the effect of making every bloggist's opinion pretty cheap. It's a real problem.

Still I thought part of his comments went a bit too far.
I guess you have to have a fairly high opinion of yourself to keep one of these little weblogs, but you also need to keep things in perspective. A little bit of attention and a few small victories do not change the fact that you are still, for the most part, a novelty act, like a horse that can count by stomping its hooves. People may be amused and interested by the horse, but they aren't going to give him tenure in the math department at a prestigious university.
The difference between a blogger, however, and a horse who can stamp his feet, is that bloggers trade in ideas. And good ideas, well expressed, can move far beyond their initial humble venue.

Friday, November 19, 2004


It's all madness. I have it on good authority that all us liberal commentators are off our collective rockers. And that good authority is old David Limbuagh, Rush Limbaugh's spite-filled brother.
The liberal chattering class has literally gone off its collective rocker. Little negative has occurred since the election -- cabinet shakeups are routine and traditional, and our guys routed the bad guys in Fallujah -- but the way the Left is carrying on you'd think President Bush had issued a string of corrupt pardons, or something.
By the way, I'm pretty sure that I'm part of the liberal chattering class, for all that I type rather than chatter.

The bitter Limbaugh is just upset that his candidate won. His party has control of the Presidency, the Senate, the House, and the Supreme Court, so naturally he's in a funk. How can he be expected to be satisfied when a few liberals have criticized his Presidency? Fortunately old sourpuss has a way to cheer himself. He can take a cheap shot at former President Clinton.

Round The Horn and the Law of Averages

You know that if you play a game of solitaire and not one card moves through the entire game, that is pretty unlikely. I don't know if that's more or less unlikely than actually winning a solitaire game, but it's still a low-probability event. Still sucks, though.

Anyway let's get right to it.

All Facts And Opinion apparently had to make sudden changes in her appearance, and we wish her good luck in her new location. She also has some thoughts on the changes in the Bush Administration (as, I suppose, we all do).

Dohiyi Mir has both the scoop on what sort of guy Tom Delay is and a cool picture.

Gamer's Nook reveals a very plausible explanation of the Bush Administrations secret plans.

Happy Furry Puppy Story Time has an uplifting story about Texas Justice or the lack thereof.

LEFT is RIGHT has a few lines on our current operations in Fallujah responding to Jaun Cole's take on the subject.

Rick's Cafe Americaine has a nice slice of life post that also talks about the Vichy French (seems like they showed up on a famous film or two).

T. Rex's Guide to Life has a reaction to the death of Yassar Arafat.

Edwardpig, who I am really glad to have back, has some thoughts on the CIA purge.

And that's it for this week--tune in next time when we will be replacing words with other words.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Conservative Triumphalism

If you are a conservative please read the following paragraph and then skip the rest of the article.

As you know, President Bush won a slim victory over Senator Kerry in the recent presidential election. This means that America has completely accepted whatever conservative programs you think are important now. Conservatism is in the ascendancy forever! Liberals will soon be gone, so there is no need to even soften your beliefs. Also all the Republicans who disagree with your particular point of view are filthy dogs who you should denounce loudly.

OK, now that that's taken care of, I want to talk about conservative triumphalism. Many conservatives think they have won for the long term and that the Democrats are gone, possibly forever. I'm happy with them thinking that. The truth is that there are a number of societal trends that are favoring Democrats.

The other truth is that it seems clear that President Bush won this election on Gay Marriage and Abortion. Were it not for those issues a number of people who voted for President Bush might very well have stayed home or voted for Senator Kerry. This says something about the popularity of Conservative Economics, Neo-Conservative Foreign Policy and so on. Some Republicans have twigged to the negative implications of having won on so narrow a basis, and are loudly denying it, claiming with little evidence that President Bush won on a wide variety of issues. Others like the opportunity to tell the Blue States and Democrats that they are depraved monsters and that the American people are really very religious, and so support this interpretation.

I would have assumed Rich Lowry to be in the former category, but apparently he's in the second, at least in regards to Black Americans. His article this week is about how Black America is becoming Conservative (a whopping 11% voted for President Bush, up from 9% in 2000, so you can see that Blacks are now as Red as can be). The point of his article is that, after years of championing blacks, liberals will now attack them as bigots.
If a significant number of blacks now join their fellow moral traditionalists in Red America in voting for the GOP, they will experience the sort of elite scorn heaped on all other opponents of social liberalism. Blacks will be the new "bigots." Their consolation will be having a seat at the table of the nation's new majority party.
One wonders exactly what kind of seat they will get. I don't think they will get the sort of seat that lets them suggest that more taxpayer money might help out black communities. I'm guessing they will have the kind of seat that lets them agree with conservatives on Gay Marriage and Abortion, and lets them keep their mouth shut the rest of the time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I Condemn Myself

As many of you probably know, I am a fairly regular poster over at Democratic Underground (I am guessing you know it, since nearly two thirds of my hits are directed here from DU). I enjoy discussing ideas and strategies with other Democrats, despite occasionally seeing opinions that I find reprehensible. But never did I realize that by posting at Democratic Underground I was really acting as a traitor.

Thank goodness a new blog has arisen to show me the light. Here is a quote from that blog, which posted its first post on Monday and has yet to post a second (industrious folks over there).
The Mission of the Wolverines is to Savage DU in retribution for the treasonous activities in regards to soldiers in combat. They are providing direct aid and comfort to the enemy in the tradition of Hanoi Traitor John Kerry. Their comments degrading soldiers have gone beyond acceptable levels and have now reached the level of treason. We join http://www.hundredpercenter.com in calling for an investigation by the Federal Government and prosecution where applicable. We also call for the shutting down of DU as a Terrorist Supporting web site. Soldiers are dying and DU is helping the enemy and mocking the soldiers. This cannot be tolerated. You are with us or against us in the War on Terror - and they are against us.
Yes some posters at Democratic Underground have made comments that go a little beyond the pale. When you get a large group of people together to discuss issues, you are going to get some extremists. However when posts are actually made attacking the troops, there are also numerous responses attacking such posts.

Incidently by this same logic, Free Republic is a racist and bigoted site. I'm guessing, however, this sort of logic doesn't apply to Free Republic.

Fortunately, however, DU Wolverines has a solution. They will post disruptive posts at Democrat Underground to bring them down. Under the various types of infiltration they encourage is the Suicide Mission.
This is the most basic mission of charging in and getting yourself banned after letting the bastards know how you feel. Make sure you take screen shots or note the post in some other ways and post it at CU so we can all enjoy your brave assualt on these traitorous cowards. Your post will surely be deleted and you quickly tombstoned... so documentation is a must for full effect.
Yes it's so brave to post a hateful message on messenger board. That definitely qualifies as a "brave assault." I personally would put it right behind the charge of the light brigade.

Charging Democratic Underground with treason, however, is a bit more serious matter. I don't seriously think it will go anywhere, but it is indicative of the mentality of many Republicans.

New Comments Policy

I've decided to take a page from the Bush Administration and their handling of the CIA and institute a new policy. From now on in the comments section I only want to read positive comments about my posts. Things like "Way to go!" or "Boy you said it" or "You sure are right there." I don't want to hear see any comments that dissent from my opinions in the slightest, nor do I want any facts presented that might contradict my opinions. I'm pretty sure if I have an opinion, I'm right, so there is no need to examine other views.

President Bush has placed Peter Goss in as the new CIA Director with a very similar mandate. Tell me what I want to know, don't tell me things that contradict what I already know. Like me, President Bush and his advisors already know what policies to follow, and if the facts don't support their policies, the facts are probably wrong. Of course this might make Goss's tenure at the CIA somewhat rocky, as an article at Salon by Spencer Ackerman suggests.
The widespread animosity toward Goss is likely to mark his entire tenure. Effective, long-lasting DCIs typically owe their success to an ability to balance three constituencies: the White House, Capitol Hill and Langley. DCIs who neglect their CIA power base don't often survive or implement much. Goss seems to be predicating his career on deliberately antagonizing the agency and forcing it into submission. But without the support of the agency he runs, Goss will be forced to rely on the warm wishes of the president for his continued service, which will only escalate the bitterness between Goss and the CIA.

The director has already shunned those who've pleaded for conciliation. Four former deputy directors of operations attempted to "tell him to stop what he was doing the way he was doing it," an ex-senior official told the Washington Post, but Goss refused to meet with them. As tensions rise between Goss and the agency, they risk becoming mutually reinforcing -- and difficult to defuse. If Goss thought the CIA was dysfunctional before, he has guaranteed that it is now.
Fortunately I don't have any staff so I am free to delude myself into thinking I am always right. It also helps that my website has an approximately 0% chance of affecting your life. With the CIA, the chance their recommendations could impact your life is somewhat greater.

Oh and in case you are wondering, of course I'm joking. Go ahead and critique me all you want. I think reading well reasoned critiques helps me understand my positions better and improves my ability to comment well.

Talkin' Gay Marriage Blues

Interestingly disjointed commentary by Edwin J. Feulner today. That's not a name I recognized, but apparently he's the President of the Heritage Foundation.

Basically he starts out ripping the New York Times for supporting Kerry, and then moves into Gay Marriage. He tells the sad story of Rocco Buttiglione, nominated for a job in the European Union as a Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security. He got shot down (according to Feulner) because he's a devout Catholic. He believes Homosexuality to be a sin, but doesn't think government should interfere. He apparently stated, "The state has no right to stick its nose into these things and nobody can be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation... this stands in the Charter of Human Rights, this stands in the Constitution and I have pledged to defend this constitution." This got him kicked off the committee. Here in America, on the other hand, freedom of religion reigns.
Meanwhile, freedom of religion is thriving in the U.S. This year's presidential election featured a well-known Protestant against a self-proclaimed Catholic. Four years ago, Joe Lieberman became the first Jewish man to run for national office. And we've already heard talk that Barak Obama, just elected to the Senate, may seek higher office in 2008. Obama's grandfather was Muslim.
So good for us, I guess. Nice that Mr. David Limbaugh's book about the persecution of Christians is already obsolete. Of course let's jam the knife into John Kerry once more for pretending to be a Catholic.

But let's not mince words. There is no way that America's Conservative Christians would be satisfied with Mr. Buttiglione's position (as Feulner defines it). The whole point to their efforts are that they do want the American Government to be able to tell Homosexuals they can be discriminated against and they should be discriminated against. This isn't really a case of intellectual freedom. People have the right to believe that Homosexuality is a sin as much as much as other people have the right to believe it isn't a sin. The problem comes when some Christian conservatives seek to use the mechanisms of the government to impose their beliefs on society.

Incidently, Mr. Buttiglione's position is a bit more nuanced than Mr. Feulner defines it. Apparently he has pushed for an amendment that would have allowed discrimination based on sexual preference. He also opposes civil unions and gay marriages.

This is as good a time as any to repeat my view on Gay Marriage which is stated by Hamlet in Act 3 Scene 1. "Go to, I'll no more on't; it hath made me mad. I say, we will have no more marriages." Ironically this view was expressed (somewhat satircally) on the West Wing last week. Allow me to quote from Television Without Pity's recaps.
The Congressman says that he is aware of the political situation, and then tells Josh that he wants to introduce a bill to ban marriage. Josh thinks he's talking about a strategic move to introduce a bill to ban same-sex marriage, thereby putting opponents on the record. But Congressman Gay (for indeed he is) tells Josh that he wants to ban all marriage: "If the government can't make it available to everyone, I want us out of the business entirely. Leave it to churches and synagogues. And of course, um, casinos and department stores." Josh asks him if the Republicans put him up to this. Congressman Gay: "They don't condone my lifestyle, and I don't condone theirs." Well said, Congressman Gay. Well said.
I believe in a separation of Church and State, and the fact that so many people are up in arms about Gay Marriage tells me that Marriage, whether performed in a church or a courthouse or a department store, is still intrinsically a religious ceremony. So why have the Government in the business at all? Shift the legal protections and rights to a new form, which we may as well call Civil Union, and mandate them for everybody. Fix the problems with Civil Unions (which will be fixed quickly if everybody has a stake in fixing them, and will never be fixed if only homosexual couples have a stake in fixing them). That's my proposal, and I'm standing by it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


For those who are interested in encroaching Government Regulation, you might look at recent actions by the FCC. Apparently they are claiming the widest possible mandate to regulate how any information that goes over interstate radio and wire communication. Which includes, for example, this very website.

Worth checking out, although I'm not sure I understand the implications entirely. The issue at hands revolves around HDTV, which I know little about.

That Lying David Limbaugh

I just had to see the title of David Limbaugh's latest, "The Never-Ending Clinton Factor," to know that I'd be writing on it. Because for all their phony baloney hand wringing, the Conservatives love having the Clintons around. Now that the election is over and they don't have John Kerry to kick around any more, they are going to need the Clintons in order to deflect attention away from President Bush's failures.

The article is pretty much what you'd expect. The Democratic party is trying to figure out what they want. David Limbaugh encourages them to consider Hillary while gently trashing her.
Whether or not the Democrats are in steady decline, the fact remains that Clinton represents their only recent presidential success. So they need to determine whether his victories are attributable to his ostensibly centrist policies or his cult of personality, or both.

If Clinton's victories were a result of the Clinton mystique, this could arguably work in Hillary's favor.
By the way, Democrats are not in steady decline, just so you know. But I guess I applaud your positive thinking.

Anyway you get the point. Limbaugh can't praise the Clintons or they will throw him out of the He-Man Liberal-Haters Club. But he certainly wants Hillary to be a viable candidate in 2008. So he does this round the belt thing.

But just so nobody gets the wrong idea, he then offers a completely fallacious but conservative pleasing account of President Clinton's presidency. Basically he lies and says that Clinton was a far leftist, then he lies and says that all the more moderate or conservative moves on Clinton's were due to Newt Gingrich forcing Clinton to do them. In case you are wondering these are deceptive statements, and I have no doubt that David Limbaugh knows the actual facts of the matter, so I feel no hesitation in calling them lies.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Man Who Has Everything

By the way if you are still down about the Republican ascendancy you might consider picking up "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads." Really great live album from a band who pretty much knew the score. Songs like "Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)" or "Cities" or "Don't Worry About the Government" may pick you up a bit.

Anyway Bruce Bartlett takes on the question of what President Bush should focus on in his second term and makes some surprisingly good points. First of all, President Bush doesn't have a specific mandate to accomplish any specific reforms in the areas of Social Security or Taxation.
Comments by Bush and his aides indicate their belief that he has a "mandate" to act on tax and Social Security reform. However, long experience shows that unless a president has campaigned on something fairly specific, Congress can easily ignore his mandate, chalking it up to personal popularity or some other factor unrelated to policy.
A mean-spirited person (such as myself) might point out that President Bush's lack of a specific mandate stems from his apparently successful decision to run against President Kerry rather than to put forward specific plans of his own.

Not surprisingly, Bartlett proposes that President Bush focus on fixing up Taxes and ignore Social Security. On the more surprising side, it turns out Bruce Bartlett has heard of the deficit.
. . . the tax system is under severe pressure. Expiring provisions need to either be made permanent or excised from the code, the Alternative Minimum Tax demands a permanent fix, and something desperately needs to be done to help the Internal Revenue Service administer a tax system that is increasingly incomprehensible and too easy evaded.

I also believe that sooner or later Bush is going to be forced to deal meaningfully with the budget deficit and that higher revenues will necessarily have to be part of a budget agreement. Although he has stated publicly that he sees no need for higher revenues, I believe that financial markets will force Bush to act, as they did for Reagan.
President Reagan was smart enough to adjust his tax policies. We'll have to see if President Bush is that smart.

Troubling Times

Glen: Outsiders have kidnapped some of our property. We must respond with our deadliest weapon.
Jane: [Sinister] The lawyers.
The Simpsons, Episode 5F23, "The Joy of Sect."

Marvel comics is suing the online computer game City of Heroes, according to Gamespot. Apparently players of that game have created characters that bear a striking resemblance to Marvel properties Wolverine and the Hulk. Said one Prominent Marvel Spokesman. "I have one word for those punks over at City of Heroes. It's Clobbering Time." Which is three words, but since I made that statement up, it's ok.

Seriously though this is bad news. If Marvel can pull this off, how can online roleplaying games survive? How much money could the Tolkien estate get if they sued everybody who created character that were reminiscent of the characters in the Lord of the Rings?

Anyway it's a troubling action on the part of a company that also gives us 18 X-Men related comics a month. Still they did finally give old Chuck Austin the ax, so I guess they aren't all bad.

Back to the Old Format

Well I'm back doing the old thing of finding conservative commentators and doing what I can to pick them apart. And for a start I've decided to take on one of the most painful commentators around, Rush Limbaugh.

And what does Rush Limbaugh have for us? Well he commented on why he's not going to slam into governor McGreevy for his personal life. Way to take the high road Rush.

He also commented on the death of Yassar Arafat and the opportunities his death opens up for the Palestinians. Namely none.
Are they [the Palestinians] going to have somebody running the show here who is actually interested in some accommodation and getting along with and side-by-ide peaceful coexistence? I just don't see it. They can have a leader that stands for it and this guy's going to get shot or AIDS or poisoned or whatever, because the militants, you know, are just not going to go for this.
Whoever transcribed this for Rush wasn't at his or her best, but I'm particularly confused by the AIDS reference. Are Palestinian Militants going to sneak into the new leader's compound and inject him with AIDS? Is this a particularly crass and stupid way for Rush to suggest that the Palestinian Militants are gay? The shameful truth is that Rush isn't all that comfortable on the high road.

Of course Rush also takes time to repeat the Limbaugh Doctrine, which is, "The only way to get peace is through victory." I've never understood how this isn't, in part, a call for the elimination of the Palesinian people. How could the Palestinian people be any more defeated and still living? They don't have their own land nor do they have control over their destinies. How much more defeated could they be? And the answer presents itself; they could no longer be living.

But wait a second, Rush might respond, who cares if a bunch of terrorists die? The problem is that the terrorists seem willing to believe that they are representing the will of the Palestinian people and most of the right wing seems willing to take them at their word. I'm pretty sure that, in Rush Limbaugh's eyes, to be Palestinian is to be a terrorist.

Of course that may not be true. There might be plenty of Palestinians who aren't murderous terrorists, but who are just normal people living their own lives as best they can.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Find Myself a City to Live in

I've been reading and thinking about an article at the Stranger entitled The Urban Archipelago. The basic argument of the article is that the blue areas of America are in the cities. Even those states traditionally thought of as Blue are generally blue in the cities and red elsewhere.
It's time to state something that we've felt for a long time but have been too polite to say out loud: Liberals, progressives, and Democrats do not live in a country that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. We live on a chain of islands. We are citizens of the Urban Archipelago, the United Cities of America. We live on islands of sanity, liberalism, and compassion--New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and on and on. And we live on islands in red states too--a fact obscured by that state-by-state map. Denver and Boulder are our islands in Colorado; Austin is our island in Texas; Las Vegas is our island in Nevada; Miami and Fort Lauderdale are our islands in Florida.
. So what does this mean for a long term Democratic strategy? Well their suggestion is that we focus our energies on improving the cities.
We're going to demand that the Democrats focus on building their party in the cities while at the same time advancing a smart urban-growth agenda that builds the cities themselves. The more attractive we make the cities--politically, aesthetically, socially--the more residents and voters cities will attract, gradually increasing the electoral clout of liberals and progressives. For Democrats, party building and city building is the same thing. We will strive to turn red states blue one city at a time.

. . . You've made your choice, red America, and we urban Americans are going to make a different choice. We are going to make Seattle--and New York, Chicago, and the rest--a great place to live, a progressive place. Again, we'll quote Ronald Reagan: We will make each of our cities--each and every one--a shining city on a hill.
The authors have some specific ideas on how to improve the cities, as well as plenty of abuse for the red counties in America.

I can certainly empathize with the anger. For decades if not longer we've been telling ourselves that people who love in the country are good honest hardworking loyal Americans, and people who live in the cities are ethnic cheats and liars and bad people. So turning the tables a little, well, I can understand it. But I'm not certain such hostility towards other Americans is good for America in the long run. I don't like it when it is the red states telling me I'm not American because I'm urban, and so I have to say it's not the best when such attacks go the other way.

The strategy is good but problematic. Certainly for the most productive parts of our nation, American cities do get dumped on a lot. Both Rhetorically and in other ways as well. How much money flows out of our cities to help those parts of the country who despise them? Quite a bit.

This strategy won't do much for short term. The electoral college will see to that. Long term, I agree strongly with the goal. The best strategy might be a combination one. Building up the cities while also pursuing a national strategy. As I implied above, I don't think Rural America is a lost cause.

This may be naive of me, but I don't think any part of America is a lost cause.

New Quote, New Format!

But back to the old title. I've taken a long enough break. Also of course a new quote and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Music tip

Found this online radio station out of Switzerland. They play a pretty good mix and they tell you what they are playing, which is always a nice touch. Nothing worse than hearing a cool song and not knowing who performed it. It's acid lounge. The way they describe it is "ENJOY THIS LIGHT SUMMER-PLATE CONSISTING OF FRESH BEATS OF NUJAZZ - DIPPED INTO THE WARMTH OF BRAZIL ELECTRO AND FINALLY SERVED WITH A BREATH OF AMBIENT." So check it out, if you want to.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Identity Politics

I've been thinking about identity politics. It's an inelegant term, but one that does contain some meaning (which puts it one up on many other political cliches). If I understand correctly it applies to how who we are plays in the political sphere. It's why starting an African-American studies program in a local college is a political issue. It's also how being both an church-going member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and being a moderate liberal Democrat creates a certain amount of conflict.

For those who don't know, Mormons tend to be conservative and Republican. Utah and Idaho, our two states with the highest percentage of Mormon Population, went overwhelmingly for President Bush in the last election. And of course the perception of liberal Democrats is that we aren't religious.

So there is a perceived conflict in my life. And there are dozens of conservative pundits who want to widen this perceived gap for political gain. The President and Karl Rove have also played off this gap as well. Conservatives would love it if we would all just accept that being a liberal Democrat automatically divorces one his or her religious beliefs.

To be fair there are Democrats who do the same thing from the other side (To be a real liberal you can't be a believer), but they are far fewer in number and are not taken nearly as seriously.

This "divorce" makes me furious, on a number of levels. Suffice to say that I am both a liberal Democrat and a church-going Mormon and I see no great conflict between the two. And anybody who wants to suggest such a conflict should exist or does exist can kiss an unpleasant part of my anatomy. I haven't decided which one yet--possibly my elbow, I rarely wash it as well as I should.

Round the Horn Part M, In Which We Learn that the Martian Invaders are just a Metaphor and therefore Doubly Dangerous

And here we go.

And Then . . . has a piece on the type of candidate we apparently need to run next time to even have a chance of winning.

blogAmy had a treatise on intellectual diversity. The common Republican wisdom is that our diversity makes us weak; that may not necessarily be the case.

Chris "Lefty" Brown has a think-piece on the term Christian and whether it applies to him.

Collective Sigh has an account of grand-fatherly service in remembrance of Veteran's Day.

Mercury X23 has some extremely big news, for which we congratulate him profusely.

Rooks Rant has some thoughts on redoing the electoral college.

Steve Gilliard's News Blog has an article on who Bush is pushing for the new head of the RNC and his sexual orientation (or lack thereof). I'm not sure I buy the argument, but it's worth considering.

Words on a Page has a section on how we can get past this election and cheer up.

Yellow Doggeral Democrat has a discussion of the current round of "Fuck the South" posts going around.

Scrutiny Hooligans takes stock of the landscape in the wake of President Bush's reelection and the nominee of Alberto Gonzelez to the Attorney General.

And that's it for this week. Come back later when I may or may not post.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Holy Thursday

Two poems by William Blake

The first from Songs of innocence.
Holy Thursday

'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey-headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.

O what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.

Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.
The Second from Songs of Experience.
Holy Thursday

Is this a holy thing to see
In a rich and fruitful land, -
Babes reduced to misery,
Fed with cold and usurous hand?

Is that trembling cry a song?
Can it be a song of joy?
And so many children poor?
It is a land of poverty!

And their sun does never shine,
And their fields are bleak and bare,
And their ways are filled with thorns,
It is eternal winter there.

For where'er the sun does shine,
And where'er the rain does fall,
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appal.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Low Posting

Haven't posted much today. So I thought I'd post a post on how I wasn't posting very many posts. Pretty interesting, eh?

The President has got a Mandate

Remember how I said that it didn't matter if the President had an electoral mandate or not? Well it turns out he did get an electoral mandate. The "liberal" media, in their helpful way, have declared that Bush did get a mandate from the election. Unfortunately this declaration isn't as open and shut as one might wish.
USA Today headlined a Nov. 4 story "Clear Mandate Will Boost Bush's Authority, Reach," which said that Bush "will begin his second term with a clearer and more commanding mandate than he held for the first." (The first being when he lost the popular vote to Al Gore.) The Boston Globe asserted that Bush's victory grants him "a clear mandate to advance a conservative agenda over the next four years," while MSNBC's Chris Matthews insisted, "To me the big story is the president's mandate. The president has a mandate."

But as Al Hunt noted in the Wall Street Journal, Bush's victory was "the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916." (Presidential reelections in recent decades have all come with comfortable margins of victory attached.) In fact, Bush's final margin was almost identical to Jimmy Carter's win over Gerald Ford in 1976, when there was very little discussion of a mandate for the Democrat. And it's hard to imagine that if Kerry had bested Bush 51 percent to 48 percent and collected just 15 more electoral votes than needed to win, the press would be so liberal with talk of a mandate.
Hmmmm. Seems like sometimes the "liberal" media plays on the other side. Who would have thought it?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

From the Bright Ideas File

Got this from Democratic Underground although I understand both Atrios and Daily Kos have it as well.
The truth is, America is not just broken--it is becoming irreparable. . . .

That is why the unthinkable must become thinkable. If the so-called "Red States" (those that voted for George W. Bush) cannot be respected or at least tolerated by the "Blue States" (those that voted for Al Gore and John Kerry), then the most disparate of them must live apart--not by secession of the former (a majority), but by expulsion of the latter. Here is how to do it.

Having been amended only 17 times since 10 vital amendments (the Bill of Rights) were added at the republic's inception, the U.S. Constitution is not easily changed, primarily because so many states (75%, now 38 of 50) must agree. Yet, there are 38 states today that may be inclined to adopt, let us call it, a "Declaration of Expulsion," that is, a specific constitutional amendment to kick out the systemically troublesome states and those trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior. The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Only the remaining 38 states would retain the name, "United States of America." The 12 expelled mobs could call themselves the "Dirty Dozen," or individually keep their identity and go their separate ways, probably straight to Hell.
A little Red State Triumphalism?

The sad truth there is a significant part of the Conservative movement that would like something along these lines. Some way of getting rid of liberals forever. I don't know why this is a desirable thing.

The Real America

What is the real America? What makes a real American? What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros?

Which brings us to a quote from my favorite political website (except of course all the wonderful Liberal Coalition sites), the Daily Howler.
We think people are basically the same in all fifty states, and we think those states are all red white and blue. We find it amazing that Dem politicians-Barack Obama excepted-don't know enough to say so. We think Massachusetts is a great state-and we think Alabama is a great state too. We think the president's endless, sneering attacks on Massachusetts were a sign of his low, inept character. And we think those attacks played hard on foolish voter prejudice-voter prejudice that ought to be challenged. And oh yeah-we think the president shows his "contempt" for red-state voters when he panders to them in this way.
He also covers the not so-surprising fact that the blue states are generally the net losers in the budget games. In other words, if you take those states and work out the ratio of dollars contributed in taxes to dollars received within the state--well, a lot of red states are getting more than they are giving and a lot of blue states are giving more than they are getting. Don't know exactly what that means.

Anarchy Now! (please)

I really am having a hard time finding anything to write on this morning. I've been looking I assure you. But nothing sparks my interest.

Listening to old time radio shows more lately. Particularly the Goon Show out of the UK and Broadway is my Beat, the most lyrical cop show ever.

Broadway is my Beat starred Detective Danny Clover, who solved crimes with the help of Sergeant Muggavan (the serious one) and Sergeant Gino Tartaglia (the ethnic comedy relief, in this case, Italian comedy relief). Poor Detective Clover lives in a relentlessly dark and oppressive world, but he also has the soul of a poet. The episodes were filled with impressively poetic monologues, which sound even more poetic coming out of Larry Thor. Here's one show opener.
In the sunlight of an October morning, Broadway stands on its street corner and breaths deep of the autumn filtered air, presses out of its lungs the taste of the night past. This is the time of the day when neon is silent, spectaculars doze. The shadows have not yet found their final shapes, and the pavement is flecked with glints of sun fragments. Doorways are opened on the October day and the night dreams are swept into the gutters. It's the time of the coffee and cakes, and break from the starting gate. And the odds? Even up, you never come in.

And where I was the sunlight filtered through Italian damask, swiftly caressed Grecian fragments; a torso in black marble, a head in stone, clocked with antiquity. A glass case with golden coins, hermetically sealed against corrosions and desire. And impervious to it all, the man who leans fastidiously against a Grecian column, then lifted his glass of champagne, silently toasted the bust of Plato. Then let the realization flow over him that a policeman was there, among his treasures.
A very interesting radio program. You can listen to one episode here.

Anyway hopefully I'll get more inspired later.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Amazon Reader Reviews by Idiots

My favorite idiotic review was to the wonderful Nuggets Compilation. For those who don't know, the Nuggets albums contained a bunch of proto punk, garage rock and psychedelic one-hit wonders of the late 60s. Bands like the Chocolate Watch Band, the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the Electric Prunes and so on and so forth. Anyway read this brain-dead review.
it said on the box that it was original punk rock...this is not punk it sounds like stuff my dad like. i know alot about punk and it wasn't in the 60's... it happened a few years ago when green day came out don't be fooled if you want to here real good punk, by the new blink 182 take off your pants and jacket cd or the mark tom and travis show cd by blink it really good and much better than this...
That's hard to top, and today's idiotic review doesn't top it. Sorry to get your hopes up. But it is pretty stupid. It's in a review of the latest John Lennon release (well one of them) of acoustic songs.
This CD is horrible. I'm not a Lennon or Beatles fan mind you so maybe I'm biased, but I had to listen to this tripe in the car the other day and it was the worst thing I've ever heard. I don't understand why people don't just move on. Music has a time and a period in which it should be listened to. John Lennon died over 20 years ago, meaning his music expired well over 20 years ago as well. This music was lame then, and it's lamer (not sure if that's a word, but you get the point) now. Please do not continue to purchase the albums of long dead idiots. Buy something new, because 20 years from now what you just bought will be old and washed up, and you don't want to have some album of songs by some dead guy recorded 40 years ago taking up space in your precious home.
How many of you are making a list of dead guys that made brilliant music? Bob Marley. Miles Davis. Janis Joplin (not technically a guy, but dead, and brilliant). Beethoven. Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Corbain. George Gershwin. Louis Armstrong. Jim Morrison, Billie Holiday. Ian Curtis. Lots of others I'm not thinking of.

And John Lennon was never lame. And to prove it here are the lyrics to Working Class Hero.
Working Class Hero

As soon as you're born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you're clever and they despise a fool
Till you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

When they've tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

Keep you doped with religion and sex and tv
And you think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still fucking peasants as far as I can see
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

There's room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

If you want to be a hero well just follow me
If you want to be a hero well just follow me

Hillary in 2008?

Josh Marshall takes on this question over at Talking Points Memo and he comes to the same conclusion that I have, namely that it would be a bad idea. He brings up the dynasty problem (we really don't need to have all our presidents coming from a few families), and also suggests that Hillary will be a polarizing figure (true). But he also makes a statement I have to admit I disagree with.
Let's be honest, Hillary Clinton is a deeply divisive figure. And if there's one thing Democrats have learned in this and the previous election it is the danger of going into a national election with a candidate who cannot even get a real hearing over a large swath of the country.
The problem with this statement is that it discounts the ability of the Rush Limbaughs and the Ann Coulters to tar any prominent democrat. How long is it going to take, for example, for Barak Obama, one of the most exciting Democrats to come along, to be portrayed as five kinds of evil by the Republican Party? Every potential candidate from Dennis Kucinich to Joe Leiberman has a past that will be exploited by Karl Rove or his surrogates.

I do agree that Hillary's past has calcified to the point that it would be a lot easier for them to do it to her.

Having a Stake

Last week I posted a post on Rush Limbaugh talking about the wisdom of the founding fathers in making sure only property owners could vote because only property owners had a stake in the system.

Well that argument piqued Random Goblin's ire, so much that he posted a comment and then e-mailed me his comments as well. The thing is, he makes some good points, so I am going to give them a more prominent position.
I've been thinking about what Rush Limbaugh said (you printed it on your website) for a couple of days, and it's really been ticking me off. Here's why:

He says that only property owners have a stake in the system, and that poor folks don't, so they shouldn't be able to vote. Basically, right?

But poor people live their lives in the system and directly affected by the system. They have children who will grow up shaped by the system.

Yet, this does not qualify as "a stake."

Essentially, what Rush is saying is that property and wealth are more valuable and important than human lives and children's futures.

And you're going to have a hard time finding something that's going to piss me off more than that.
This is hard to dispute, and it is very annoying to me as well.

Of course on another note, the "system" always disproportionately helps the poor and the working class. Frankly that's what it supposed to do, protect those who can't protect themselves. This shouldn't come as any great surprise, but the wealthy can protect themselves pretty well. It's the poor and working class and middle class who need a system to protect them. Anyway, well worth considering.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

New Format, New Quote, New Blog Title

And yes after many suggestions we narrowed it down to two new blog titles. One was my personal favorite "Stupid Enough Unexplanation." The other was suggested by Random Goblin, "Legal Daisy Spacing." So in the interest of fair play and also so I can save the other title for future ventures, for this week and this week only we will be known as "Legal Daisy Spacing." Those who link to this blog, there is little need to change your link, as I will be going back to Make me a Commentator in exactly 7 days time.

Oh and in all the hullabaloo we also have a new quote and a new Quotes Page.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

A lot of people are complaining about how the President doesn't really have a mandate for enormous change. Pandagon has a chart that presents how much of the country is 100% behind the President (which is 51% of the voters). When you add in the apparent furor about abortion and Gay marriage that probably helped Bush to many of those votes, well, the idea that he has a broad mandate in the traditional sense seems a little laughable.

The problem is that President Bush doesn't need a broad mandate, in the traditional sense, to push through his extremist positions. He thinks what he is doing the right thing. In a sense he has his mandate from God, and frankly what are 55,949,348 Americans compared to God? Particularly when we are clearly both morally and intellectually wrong (as he and his followers believe). So I wouldn't necessarily expect President Bush to moderate his plans in the slightest based on a tight electoral victory.

On the other hands the New York Times also has a story on how President Bush may face certain Congressional roadblocks to doing everything he wants to do.
The president declared that he had "earned capital in the campaign, political capital," which he would spend on an agenda that includes overhauling Social Security and the tax code. Republican leaders seemed determined to carry it out.

But in the convoluted political atmosphere of the Capitol, where every lawmaker must worry about something that no longer concerns the president - re-election - it may not be so easy for the Republicans to steamroller the Democrats.
Anyway no reason to despair just yet, although I can certainly understand a certain amount of weeping and wailing.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Another H. L. Mencken Quote

Mencken writes on the reason for remaining a "faithful citizen of the Federation."
It is the reason which grows out of my mediaeval but unashamed taste for the bizarre and indelicate, my congenital weakness for comedy of the grosser varieties. The United States, to my eye, is incomparably the greatest show on earth. It is a show which avoids diligently all the kinds of clowning which tire me most quickly - for example, royal ceremonials, the tedious hocus-pocus of haut politique, the taking of politics seriously - and lays chief stress upon the kinds which delight me unceasingly - for example, the ribald combats of demagogues, the exquisitely ingenious operations of master rogues, the pursuit of witches and heretics, the desperate struggles of inferior men to claw their way into Heaven. We have clowns in constant practice among us who are as far above the clowns of any other great state as a Jack Dempsey is above a paralytic - and not a few dozen or score of them, but whole droves and herds.
For those who don't know Jack Dempsey was a very successful boxer of the time.

I must say Mencken is a man after my own heart. I don't know what he's going to do with it once he gets it, but there it is.

Round the Horn. Life is just a bitter tune with sad refrains.

Here we go. Oh the line is from a song by Bossa Nostra called "Jackie."

Iddybud has some comments on whether or not we should give President Bush his honey moon by dropping our opposition to him and his presidency out of a sense of graciousness.

Speedkill has a bit on the ever gracious Alan Keyes. I have to say, his reaction probably mirrors what the rest of the Republicans would have said, had it gone the other way.

The Gotham City 13 has a post on how we need a party that is proud of being liberal. It also doubles as his farewell post, so we'll say goodbye and a heartfelt good luck.

The Invisible Library has a somewhat discouraging but potentially accurate post on what the next four years might bring, and a dissection of the "ownership society."

Trish Wilson has a bit on what kind of blogger you might be. I am a pundit blogger apparently. Now I can sleep easier.

The Yellow Doggeral Democrat has a bit on how we need to let them know we liberals are here and we aren't going anywhere, keying off of this post at Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Anyway short today, but I have been linking around a lot this week so I don't feel that guilty.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


For those of you who enjoy the X-Men Comics, you might enjoy reading the X-Axis Reviews. For those of you who think the X-Men Comics are pretty overrated and not all that good, you might enjoy reading the X-Axis Reviews. Here's a sample paragraph that I found particularly interesting in a review of Wolverine #150 from a couple of years ago.
The Wolverine-in-Japan story has now been done so often that it almost counts as a sub-genre. Traditionally, it involves squabbling martial artists, people trying to kill Wolverine, "ninjas" who don't appear to remember any of the basic principles of assassination, and at least five ludicrous plot developments explained away by reference to Japanese concepts of honour. ("For the honour of my family, I must pour a bucket of custard over my head and dance an Irish jig. You would not understand, gaijin." "Oh, well if it's your CULTURE, I'll accept that in lieu of actual characterisation or plot. Fair enough.")
Be sure also to check out the indexes which are quite well down, and in the Silver Age section, very funny as well.


From the Tao te Ching.
Whilst developing creativity,
also cultivate receptivity.
Retain the mind like that of a child,
which flows like running water.
When considering any thing,
do not lose its opposite.
When thinking of the finite,
do not forget infinity;
Act with honour, but retain humility.
By acting according to the way of the Tao,
set others an example.
By retaining the integrity
of the inner and external worlds,
true selfhood is maintained,
and the inner world made fertile.
An idea. An ideal?

Talking W Blues

I hinted at some big changes in previous posts. Well, I've decided long term this site will remain Make Me a Commentator!!! And we will continue to focus our laser like focus on conservative rhetoric. It's proven such a fertile field of study, and I don't get the impression that having won an election, conservative pundits (like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh) are going to get any smarter.

On the other hand, reading their articles over the next week or so is really going to make me full of anger. I mean more full of anger than normal. So I'm not going to do that. If you want to read gloating Republicans there's the Townhall link over there on the right. Just interject me saying "What a moron" every few sentences and it will be just like the real thing.

So I'm going to focus elsewhere, for at least a week and a half. Next week will be a special edition of this website with a very special name for one week. So far the top contender is "Stupid-Enough Unexplanation," if you would like to join in the fun, post your suggestion for a name for this blog in the comments section below. One lucky winner will get the privilege of having the blog named after his or her suggestion for a week. And who knows, the winner could be me!

I mean you. You could name the blog. Not me.

And Sunday the 14th we will resume our regular programming format.