Monday, June 23, 2008

Uncomfortable Language

This is from a review of Barack Obama's life by Mary Grabar over at Townhall. Ms. Grabar shows her ignorance by mocking the concept of a community organizer. Then she writes this touching love letter to the good old days.
I imagine if someone like Barack Obama had come to Beach Street in Rochester, New York, in the 1960s where my neighbors relaxed on their lawn chairs on front porches and stoops after a hard day in the factory, and said, “Hi, my name is Barry Obama, and I am a community organizer,” the unanimous response would have been, “A what?”

. . . Barry would have been sent running, which would be a good thing for him because right about that time Mr. Tischenko would be coming downstairs with the rifle.
Yep - a black man trying to organize 1960s Rochester, New York would have been sent running, with the threat of being shot. I'm not exactly sure how to take that, but it doesn't read very progressive does it? Is she applauding the good ol' days when people like Barack knew better than to come around?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Time and Space have no Meaning

At least night when it comes to measuring Liberal Media Bias. Larry Elder's latest article takes aim at the idea that the media had a negative opinion of Hillary Clinton during the latest Primary Season. Although many people (including yours truly) think the Media was harder on Clinton than on Obama, that's just not true.

And to prove it he pulls some examples out of his file from 1993, 2001, 1993, 2001, 1993, 2001, and then, worst of all, 2001.

Yep back in 1993 the Media probably did give Hillary Clinton more coverage than Barack Obama. And in 2001, if memory serves, Hillary Clinton was running for the Senate? Once again she got way more coverage than Barack Obama.

Frankly Elder loses his train of thought in this article; choosing to drop the theory that the Media was just as soft on Hillary as they were on Barack, to move on to the theory that the New York Times published Editorials that were critical of President Bush and Rudy Giuliani. Amazing.

Edited to add. I am rereading the article; I think my sarcasm above was unwarrented (although still funny). Elder apparently wanted to prove that the Media is easier on Liberals than Republicans; he just started his standard article on this issue with a bit on Clinton and Obama which threw me off.

Presented without Comment

Except to say these were available at the Texas State Republican Convention. Got it from Warren Ellis's blog where I'm trying to find out more about the ending to Planetary.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Michael Gerson used to be a speechwriter for President Bush. Now he's an author, having written a book called Heroic Conservatism that at least one conservative didn't see as particularly heroic or conservative.
The subtitle of Michael Gerson's book Heroic Conservatism is: "Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't.)" What does he mean by “America's Ideals”? The principles expressed in the country's founding documents? No, he means liberal policies and assumptions that have dominated American life over the last four decades.
He does have an article up at Townhall today though. In it he takes on Al Franken, who he accuses of having written Satire that is too cruel and too crude. I'm not going to argue that last point; Franken is very good, but he's better when he restrains himself a bit.

The cruelty complaint is pretty hilarious though. Particularly with this bit.
Franken is not content to disagree with Karl Rove; he calls him "human filth." He is not satisfied to criticize Ari Fleischer; Franken terms him a "chimp." The objects of Franken's humor -- including political opponents and women -- are not merely mocked but dehumanized. His trashiness is also nastiness. Rather than lampooning the emptiness and viciousness of our political discourse -- a proper role for satire -- Franken has powerfully reinforced those failures.
What a jackass. Attacking Franken for being mean to conservatives, for using dehumanizing names, while standing shoulder to shoulder with Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, Thomas, O'Rielly, and so on and so forth is just pathetic. Conservatives have made a cottage industry out of dehumanizing liberals. And it's a big damn cottage.

Another difference between Franken and conservative commentators of the Limbaugh Ilk. Franken attacks political figures; people who have chosen to step into the public light. Limbaugh and his cohort attack liberals indiscriminately. You can argue that Franken's attacks aren't fair (although they usually are), but he's aiming at people who have walked out on stage. Limbaugh, in contrast, wants to make the very existence of liberals detestable. He's not content to just attack public figures, but he attacks all of us as bewildered nincompoops, effeminate cowards, or America hating traitors.

I guess I'd respond more positively to Gerson's attacks if I felt that the cruelty coming from his side of the fence bothered him at all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why I'm so Cranky All The Time

This is from Cal Thomas's latest article.
When the terrorists attack again - as Homeland Security has repeatedly warned us they will - how many survivors will be consoled because the Supreme Court and the State Department looked out for the "rights" of terrorists before the rights of their dead loved ones?
Sweet Jesus.

Well I suppose if they are Americans instead of cowardly authoritarians they might say "Well the rule of law has to come first. It's not acceptable to just lock someone up, anyone and throw away the key. There has to be an accounting, a reckoning. That's the way civilization works."

But then again, Thomas, you and your ilk have been so busy scaring Americans and whipping up fears, well, maybe they'll be willing to give away the rest of their civil liberties in order to somehow hurt the Muslims.

Not sure what you call this nation after that, but you can't call it America.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Politics and Morality

Ken Conner's latest article over at Townhall is kind of interesting. It's mostly aimed at Republicans, who, Conner feels, have lost their way. But he isn't going to let Democrats off the hook either.
Unfortunately, both political parties today seem to have lost their grip on whatever moral philosophy they once held to be true. Democrats have abandoned their old socialist ideals for a pragmatic approach focused on winning elections by promising new domestic programs and repeating a mantra advocating vague, undefined notions of "change." Republicans have dropped their ideals of personal freedom and limited government in favor of winning elections by rewarding powerful special interests group with earmarks, tax cuts, and limitations on liability for wrongdoing.
I'm not sure how to react. First of all it's not true that the Democrats are motivated by "old socialist ideals." That said it's nice that he seems to think we are moving pragmatically as opposed to most Conservatatoids who paint us as more Socialist than Mao.

He spends the bulk of his argument saying that Christian Conservatives are truest conservatives. Not sure about that, but it is certainly the sort of argument that will please Christian Conservatives.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Habeas Corpus

It's back. The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the concept of Habeas Corpus has legs. Essentially the President can't just take people, lock them up, and throw away the key. They have to figure out some way to process such people. Or that's how James Ross describes it in an article for Salon.
. . . the court makes clear that Guantánamo can't be a law-free zone. The main reason the administration started sending those apprehended in the "global war on terror" to Guantánamo in 2002 was so that it could hold people without intrusive lawyers and courts getting in the way. The court said no; detainees can challenge their cases before the courts.
I don't know why Conservatives thought this could be a long term solution anyway. But apparently they did - Rush Limbaugh ties this decision into an over arching plan for Liberals to destroy America.
This is what many of us who ring the clarion bells are trying to get people to understand. This is not a bunch of little idiots that write laws in Congress with their unintended consequences. . . .

When it comes to the liberal judiciary, these are leftists, folks. They have every intention of changing the way this country looks, cutting this country down to size. I've been through all the reasons. They think we're too big. We're stealing the world's resources. We're destroying the planet with global warming. We've got this idiot president they can't figure out how to beat. He's so stupid he keeps beating them, and we gotta get rid of him. He's illegitimate, his war is unjust; his policies are unjust. Look, there's a systematic desire -- and it's been going on for quite a while -- to change or get rid of the institutions and traditions that have always defined and maintained the country's greatness. It's a very serious problem.
I suppose it is hard to defend a crazy program with sane arguments.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's a Conservative Ideologue to Do?

There's an interesting post by Jeffrey Feldman over at the Huffington Post about Conservative Ideologues and how they are handling Senator McCain.
Rather than back McCain, right-wing pundits seem poised to turn Sen. McCain into a cartoon effigy of all they claim is wrong with American liberalism. In this way, pundits like Coulter and Limbaugh will be able to argue simultaneously that McCain lost because he was 'too liberal,' and that a Democratic victory will bring disaster because a President Obama will be 'too liberal.'

By supporting McCain, right-wing pundits risk the loss of prestige that comes with backing a losing candidate. By turning against McCain, they can blame Republican defeat and predict doom for the country with the same argument. Anti-McCain right-wing pundits, in other words, can advance their goal of staying relevant in a rapidly shifting media environment where their access to the White House and to Congress will likely be limited relative to what it was during the Bush years.
Makes sense to me.

Real True Christians

One of the fixtures of recent elections has been the declaration that Liberal or Democratic Candidates are not really Christians, and this election is no exception. Today's example comes from Cal Thomas, who assures us that Obama is not really a Christian. For one thing he believes that all of God's children are reaching out to him through their various religious teachings.
According to Falsani, Obama thinks that "all people of faith - Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone - know the same God." (Her words.)

Evangelicals and serious Catholics might ask if this is so, why did Jesus waste His time coming to Earth, suffering pain, rejection and crucifixion?
You see believing that God and Christ select one group of people to be saved and condemn everybody else is "Christian." Believing that God loves all his children and reaches out to all of them is not.

Then there's this interesting line.
Falsani adds, "Obama doesn't believe he, or anyone else, will go to hell. But he's not sure he'll be going to heaven, either." Again, that is contrary to what Evangelicals and most Catholics believe.
I'm guessing that Thomas is saying most real Christians believe that some people will go to hell, but it reads like maybe they are sure that Obama is going to heaven? Or hell? It's not clear.

At any rate, these heretical beliefs are enough to declare Obama not a real Christian. Pretty sad, but on the plus side, the only people who are going to be swayed by such statements are people who wouldn't vote for Obama anyway.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The End of an Era

Maggie Gallagher's latest article basically says that Conservatism, as inaugurated by Barry Goldwater, is pretty much over, a victim of it's successes.
The Reagan coalition, that combination of anti-communist hawks, pro-growth low-taxers and social conservatives, has achieved great things: the fall of the Soviet Union, the resurgence of faith in market economies, a permanent reduction in the federal tax rates (including taking millions of Americans off the federal income tax rolls altogether), a striking reduction in crime rates, welfare reform and the largely unsung doubling of the per-child tax exemption that each year protects the incomes that families (especially larger religious families) need to raise their kids.

But all that is so yesterday.
Gallagher downplays the role of President Bush in weakening the Republican Brand, which I guess is par for the course. She also has this interesting line.
Meanwhile, the left never was defunded, creating a huge structural mismatch in the process of "culture creation": Massive government dollars fuel their organizations and ideas, while even tiny social conservative funding streams like abstinence education are under intense assault.
I guess she's talking strictly about Government spending. Most government spending, by definition, funds the left (since the right is opposed to government funding). But in the universe of funding, the Right certainly hasn't gone hungry in this country; organizations like the Heritage Foundation have done quite well for themselves.

That said, I do find myself wondering how Gallgher would defund the left if the right regains power.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Dennis Prager's latest article is entitled, "When I Was a Boy, America Was a Better Place." That pretty much sums it up. It's an interesting mixture of the depressing and the bizarre. For example he's upset that people no longer dress up to go to baseball games and he misses the days when Lucy and Ricky had separate beds. But that's not all.
Today, people at work, to cite but one example, are far less free to speak naturally. Every word, gesture and look, even one's illustrated calendar, is now monitored lest a fellow employee feel offended and bring charges of sexual harassment or creating a "hostile work environment" or being racially, religiously or ethnically insensitive, or insensitive to another's sexual orientation.
Yeah back in the old days, Prager could have made minorities and woman feel uncomfortable; as a white male he was just better than everybody else and he didn't have to worry about having that truth challenged. Nowadays, he has to act like Black people and woman matter. I can see how that must be very difficult.

McBush - Fair or Not?

Douglas MacKinnon's latest article is about the idea that electing McCain represents a third term for President Bush, which many, including myself, have suggested. In order to refute this theory he sets up a false historical analogy to the 1996 campaign between President Bill Clinton and Senator Bob Dole, in which the Democrats portrayed Dole as strongly connected to Newt Gingrich. The difference this time is that Obama isn't as skilled as Clinton and can't pull it off. Also Bush is leaving politics so can't really serve as the power behind the throne the way Gingrich, still Speaker of the House, could.

Fair enough, but I don't say that McCain is a third term for President Bush based on those reasons. I don't think McCain and Bush like each other that much, and I strongly suspect that if McCain gets the Presidency he will keep his distance from the Bush's So MacKinnon is right, the two situations are not parallel.

That said, when I suggest that McCain is a continuation of Bush policies, I mean just that. McCain, while remaining a politically distinct person from Bush, will pursue very similar policies on the most important issues of the day; the War in Iraq and Foreign Policy. With the notable and noble exception of Torture, McCain is going to continue the policies that Bush has laid out, including extending our occupation of Iraq and probably expanding the war to include Iran.

MacKinnon also suggests that the Primary proves that working class whites won't vote for Obama, a tale I suspect Conservatives are going to tell themselves all summer long. He makes the claim that Hispanics won't support Obama because they want the first President of Color to be Hispanic, not Black.
What I have learned is that a number of Hispanics are not going to vote for Mr. Obama - period. When history is made and a minority becomes president or vice president, they want that person to be Hispanic. To those who would claim that this observation is false, petty or even racist, I would suggest they bury their partisanship or ignorance and start asking some off-the-record questions.
Well, it's certainly a unique argument; that said, the sort of Hispanics that MacKinnon is out talking to may not be representative of the Hispanic population as a whole.

Monday, June 09, 2008

History Moans

Paul Greenberg's latest article is about Barack Obama's problem with history. But his first example isn't all that convincing.
Barack Obama chose St. Paul, Minn., to stage his victory or at least near-victory rally Tuesday night. It was a good way to stick a thumb in John McCain’s eye, since the Republicans have chosen to hold their national convention at the same arena.

Yet he overlooked the historical connotations of that site. Beautiful downtown St. Paul is where Walter Mondale delivered his concession speech after one of the most lopsided defeats in the history of American presidential elections: Ronald Reagan’s 49-state sweep in 1984.

For his last hurrah of the primary season, he chose a place associated with one of his party’s great defeats. It’s as if admirers of George Armstrong Custer were to gather at Little Bighorn, aka Custer’s Last Stand, to proclaim victory.
The difference being that people associate Little Bighorn with Custer. You say Little Bighorn and people think Custer. Alternatively if you say St. Paul, most people don't immediately jump to "Mondale's concession speech." Unless of course you are writing an article and need a good intro.

The rest of the article deals with Obamas desire to use diplomacy rather than warfare in dealing with Iran and North Korea, and how foolish that is.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Katrina and Karl Rove

There's an excerpt from "Machiavelli's Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove," over at Salon today, covering the Bush Administrations response to Hurricane Katrina. The darkest bit comes near the end, where Mary Landrieu was showing the devastation to George Stephanopoulos in a helicopter.
Then I said, 'George, before we finish I have to show you one positive thing because I can't send you back to Washington to produce a story that shows nothing but devastation and disaster.' So I told the pilot to tack right so I can show George the 17th Street Canal and the work that was going on there. I swear as my name is Mary Landrieu I thought that what I saw with the president was still there -- people working, trucks, sandbags, everything. Then I looked down and saw one little crane. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me through my heart. I lost it." There, in the cabin of the helicopter, as they flew above the breached canal below them, Landrieu sat devastated.

"I could not believe that the president of the United States, staged by Karl Rove himself, had come down to the city of New Orleans and basically put up a stage prop. It was like you had gone to a studio in California and filmed a movie. They put the props up and the minute we were gone they took them down. All the dump trucks were gone. All the Coast Guard people were gone. It was an empty spot with one little crane. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I knew what was going on and I've been a changed woman ever since. It truly changed my life."
The question of this election is going to be was President Bush an aberration, something out side the bounds of conservative, something alien that dressed itself up in conservatism. Or, after years of predicting and believing that the Federal Government is incapable and useless, did Katrina reveal the destructiveness at the core of modern conservatism?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Everything you need to know about Rush Limbaugh and Conservativism in 2008

This is from a pep-talk Rush Limbaugh gave yesterday, near the beginning.
I am not responsible for what's gone wrong. I am the rock. I am the bulwark. I have not wavered. What has gone wrong is not because of me. I'm not trying to absolve myself of having any involvement here or having a role, but in terms of having a role with what's gone wrong, it hasn't been me.
When you begin a pep talk by explaining that it's not your fault, well, that's not a very good pep talk. And then he gives this upbeat line (upbeat to me more than Conservatives).
Look, at some point, however it happens, the Republican Party, as it's currently constituted, is going to have to lose, and it's going to have to lose big.
Gosh that's inspiring.

His point being that the party is in the thrall of country club Republicans and Washington big government types, and they need to lose big enough to clear those guys out and replace them with more Conservative types.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Should Kid's be Allowed to Wallop Each Other? or Most People Were Kung Fu Fighting

John Stossel's latest article takes John McCain to task for not defending the right of parents to allow their kids to participate in mixed martial arts tournaments. Mixed Martial Arts is akin to the Ultimate Fighting Challenge, in which you are allowed to use any martial art to wail on each other but no weapons and no eye gouging or finger twisting. Apparently McCain has been critical of this sport. And that makes John Stossel angry.
Sen. John McCain -- yes, that John McCain -- once called the adult version of MMA "human cockfighting." He wrote letters to the governor of every state asking them to ban it.
Also, according to John Stossel all sports are dangerous, even cheer leading. So why shouldn't kids be allowed to beat the hell out of each other for their parents amusement?

I have to say I find this an odd angle from which to attack Senator McCain; but I would like to point out the vapidity of argument that all sports are dangerous by suggesting competitive Russian Roulette. Six kids. Six Chambers. That's a 83.3% survival rate. Since some kids get injured in all sports, why not competitive Russian Roulette? Because the odds that at least one kid will die or get seriously injured in Russian Roulette is pretty much one to one. The odds aren't as bad in this Mixed Martial Arts, but it certainly seems more likely to injure kids than other sports.

Even regular Martial Arts, for example. Martial Arts usually stresses discipline and safety (yeah there was that one bad teacher in The Karate Kid, but most teachers aren't like that (I hope). The bravado that saturates Mixed Martial Arts (hell just think Ultimate Fighting Championship), well, that's something else entirely.

I don't actually have that strong a feeling on this issue; I just don't think that McCain's position is so bizarre that it will hurt him in the election.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


This is one of the right wings more persuasive arguments. We want to believe that America has changed and we want to believe that we have changed. We want to believe that we as a nation have moved on past racism. That we've cured ourselves of this cancer.

But Blacks and other minorities keep complaining about unfair treatment. Why is that? If we've fixed our problems why do we keep hearing them? Well because Blacks and other minorities are pretending to be victims to get some sort of special treatment. See how emotionally satisfying that argument is? You aren't the problem; Black people complaining are the problem.

This argument gets expression in Dennis Prager's latest article.
To an ever greater extent, schools and the news media do the same thing to African-Americans -- tell them over and over that they are oppressed. And the effects have been even more corrosive. Just think of the wildly enthusiastic receptions the NAACP gave to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the black members of Trinity United Church of Christ gave to Father Michael Pfleger when he spoke of America being "the greatest sin against God" because it is so racist. The number of blacks who perceive of their lives as oppressed by whites can only lead to estrangement from the greater American society, not to mention anger toward and resentment of it.
That last line is particularly interesting. Either there are still racial problems in our society or their aren't. If we have solved our nations racial problems, than the line makes perfect sense. Black people should just get over the problems of the past and accept that nowadays things are fine racially speaking. Dwelling on imagined slights will just hurt them and hurt us.

But if there are still racial problems in America, well, that's just an encouragemen t for Blacks to accept "their place" in society. Which is probably a bigger problem than some white people being frustrated that solutions haven't been found yet.

Appeasers and Flip Floppers

Salon is good today; they have an article on the Appeaser Meme propagated by the right wing in which anybody who wants to talk to terrorists is an Appeaser. According to Gary Kamiya this isn't a reasonable line of attack.
The coming election is shaping up to be a referendum not just on Iraq but on that black-and-white mind-set. McCain and the GOP will relentlessly attack Obama as weak, inexperienced and cowardly, pointing to his willingness to talk to our enemies as evidence. But the fact is that what Obama is proposing is simply rational, realistic foreign policy. And the proof is that the rest of the world, including Israel, has defied the Bush administration and is talking to the "terrorists."

If it's appeasement to talk to "evildoers," we are all appeasers now. Everywhere you look, our allies -- or we ourselves -- are negotiating with members of the "Axis of Evil" and their allies.

Israel, whose U.S.-backed security theoretically could be most directly compromised by "appeasement," has been talking to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, using Egypt as an intermediary. Israel isn't doing this because it suddenly decided that "some ingenious argument will persuade [Hamas] they have been wrong all along," as Bush derisively commented in his thinly veiled attack on Obama, but because it is trying to reach agreements on issues critical to its security, including a cease-fire, prisoner exchanges and border-crossing arrangements. Israel has realized that pretending that Hamas does not exist, or wishing it would disappear, is not a viable strategy.
That is the most damning part of this attack. If it were really that bad and and that anti-Israel to talk to Hamas, why would Israel be doing it?

One answer is that Christian America's support for Israel is not motivated by the same desires as Israel's desire to keep existing. Christians support Israel, at least in part, because they believe it's existence is necessary for the Second Coming of Christ. Israel wants to survive because it wants to survive. Those two different motivations might lead to different approaches - Israel has no reason to want a conflict with it's neighbors. But many Christians believe that such a conflict will usher in the end times.

Salon also has a great post by Glenn Greenwald on Senator McCains change of heart on wiretaps.
Worse, when answering the Globe back in December, McCain said that "presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is." Yesterday, though, McCain said that the President and the telecoms did nothing wrong in spying on Americans without warrants and that such spying was "appropriate" and constitutional "in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001". How can spying in violation of the law possibly be justified by the circumstances of 9/11 (as McCain said yesterday) if (as McCain said in December) the President is barred from spying outside of the law "no matter what the situation is"?
McCain knows who he has to keep won over, and so he's got to take these extremist positions, particularly in regards to executive power. He basically has to uphold the Bush power grabs, or he feels like he has to, or he actually believes in a unitary executive theory (or something like it).

Or to put it another way, was McCain Lying when he said he thought the President had to obey the law or is he lying now when he says the President didn't?