Saturday, September 04, 2004

What do we Mean?

What does it mean to say that September 11th changed everything? I mean it's such a vague statement when you think about it. What could it mean? Well Kathleen Parker in her latest article (which covers Zell Miller's speech at the RNC) puts it in perspective.

The world changed on Sept. 11, 2001, and the old default modes no longer work. The old political templates and loyalties do not apply.

That understanding prompted Miller to abandon his Democratic Party to endorse President George W. Bush for re-election.
The world became more dangerous on September 11, 2004 and because of that increased danger we must vote for Republicans forever. The old loyalties no longer apply; if Democrats really loved their country they would abandon their party, and line up solidly behind whatever President Bush wants to do.

Of course this all assumes that President Bush knows what he's doing and his plans are solid. I don't blame Ms. Parker for thinking that; after all she is a conservative. I would expect her to support a conservative President. On the other hand, as a liberal, I'm not sure why I should be expected to give up my opinion that President Bush doesn't know what he's doing and the last four years have been a string of mistakes and errors.

But then again, maybe I just don't understand how September 11th changed everything.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Anger is as Anger Does

Great editorial by Paul Krugman today at the New York Times, although not one that is likely to win him any Republican friends. It's about the Republican convention and the tone of negativeness that characterized it.

Why are the Republicans so angry? One reason is that they have nothing positive to run on (during the first three days, Mr. Bush was mentioned far less often than John Kerry).

The promised economic boom hasn't materialized, Iraq is a bloody quagmire, and Osama bin Laden has gone from "dead or alive" to he-who-must-not-be-named.

Another reason, I'm sure, is a guilty conscience. At some level the people at that convention know that their designated hero is a man who never in his life took a risk or made a sacrifice for his country, and that they are impugning the patriotism of men who have.

That's why Band-Aids with Purple Hearts on them, mocking Mr. Kerry's war wounds and medals, have been such a hit with conventioneers, and why senior politicians are attracted to wild conspiracy theories about Mr. Soros.
It is an interesting theory; certainly the convention was all about attacking John Kerry and the War on Terror, with a smattering of Compassionate Conservative. We'll have to see if this is a message that motivates the American people.

Round the Horn Part (2)2, Avast Ye Maties

Yep it's pirate day here at Make me a Commentator!!! You can't see me but I am in fact wearing a pirate outfit.

But first some serious notes.

Last weekend I thought I was pretty diligent at getting everybody in the Liberal Coalition, but I missed a few. I want to make sure to say that these were not left off for any reason other than my stupidity, they are both fine sites.

blogAmy has an interesting contrast between President Bush's attitudes in years previous and his attitudes this week.

All Facts and Opinions has some interesting information on global progress on woman's issues.

As for the other members I didn't link to last week, New World Blogger, who is a really fantastic bloggist handling international issues, hasn't updated her blog since July 15 unfortunately. Edwardpig went on hiatus on June 8, only returning once, and (I think) should also return to the world of blogging because he is quite good. T. Rex's Guide to Life has apparently had a very busy summer, but will possibly be returning soon, which would be nice, particularly with the election so close (he's very good with polls as I recall). Words on a Page has also gone on hiatus but don't know when it will be returning; hope it does.

I certainly understand the desire to walk away for a bit, but I don't know if I could without walking away (from this particular website) forever. I've thought about doing that, shutting it down and coming back in a couple of months in a new guise, but the feeling usually passes.

But on to the rest of Round the Horn, Special Pirate Version.

Avast ye maties, set sail to Musing's Musings for a missive on a letter President Bush used in his acceptance speech.

If ye would find buried treasure, seek out this reaction to President Bush's story at Iddybud,and turn left at the thing that looks like another thing.

Then you best be sailing to the fair port of Dohiyi Mir for a fascinating look at President Bush in the polls.

Only a scurvy dog would pass on the chance to read Bark Bark Wolf Wolf's response to Senator Kerry's response.

Grab a pint of grog, mosey up to the bar and read this article from Collective Sigh on the Bermuda triangle of John Kerry, The RNC, and the Weather Channel.

Top the mainsail and chart fair winds for rubber hose, where I spy a piece on elevating the discourse.

Draw cutlasses and charge to Steve Gilliard's News Blog for a piece on Zell Miller's melt down and Republican reactions to it.

And remember to check back here for next week, which will be Cowboy Week! Unless I forget.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Let's Pretend!

Since America is like a 10 year old child, I suppose it's a good idea to join Vice President Cheney in a fun little game of let's pretend. Won't that be fun? Let's all put our pretending hats on and consider these words from our Vice President.

Even in this post-9/11 period, Senator Kerry doesn't appear to understand how the world has changed. He talks about leading a "more sensitive war on terror," as though Al Qaeda will be impressed with our softer side.
The Vice President doesn't mess around, does he? Right off the bat he gives us something especially hard to pretend. But there's no point in pretending things that are true, I suppose. So for the moment pretend that Senator Kerry wasn't talking about being sensitive to possible terrorist threats or to the opinions and intelligence of our allies. Oh and you'd best forget that the President has talked several times of waging a sensitive war. Instead, let's pretend that Senator Kerry is a big sensitive crying person who wants to invite all the terrorists over for cookies and punch.

I know that's a hard thing to pretend, but it's good practice. Anyway here's something else that the Vice President would like us to pretend.

Senator Kerry also takes a different view when it comes to supporting our military. Although he voted to authorize force against Saddam Hussein, he then decided he was opposed to the war, and voted against funding for our men and women in the field.
This is a little easier. All you have to do is forget that the President threatened to veto the very same bill if he didn't get it the way he wanted it. And of course forget that the bill was passing by a wide margin when Senator Kerry cast his vote.

Senator Kerry says he sees two Americas.
Oh this is easier still. All you have to do is pretend that Senator Kerry is Senator Edwards.

But still I'm tired of pretending. I think that first pretending, about the "sensitive" war has tired me out terribly. But remember all you Americans, that your Vice President would you like you to continue pretending, at least until November.

Hey Kids!

White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card had some interesting comments yesterday. "It struck me as I was speaking to people in Bangor, Maine, that this president sees America as we think about a 10-year-old child. I know as a parent I would sacrifice all for my children."

Interesting. I mean obviously we should focus on the second part of the statement, the part about President Bush being willing to sacrifice all for his country. But that first part is interesting too. President Bush sees America as a 10-year-old child. I'm not really sure how to take that.

But it's a long way from considering oneself "first among equals," isn't it?

There's No Riot Going On!

Watch, as soon as I say this one will break out.

Still so far the protests haven't created any major problems. How do I know this? Articles by Gary Aldrich and Emmett Tyrrell, both of whom would love to trumpet liberal wrong doing and law breaking, don't mention them.

Both of their columns are on New York and the police state that exists there currently. Emmett Tyrrell contrasts the protests of today with the protests of yesteryear (1968 to be exact). He suggests that today's protesters are a more diverse crowd, which I guess is a good thing. He does offer this interesting line. "Violence was greatly feared at this convention owing to the huge number of Democrats who account for 80 percent of the registered voters in the city." Well, I can see why you'd want to focus on that as the potential cause of violence, but I do think there are some other factors that play into it. And even if you buy that reasoning, doesn't it still beg the question of why hold the Convention in New York City?

Both Tyrrell and Aldrich share a concern that the Police may be getting out of hand. Tyrrell comments on friendly (or "conservative") reporters getting rounded up along with protesters. Aldrich wonders why so many cops are visible and carrying automatic weapons.

Apparently authorities think this show of power sends a strong message to possible troublemakers. But I have to wonder -- protesters I've seen are rude but unarmed. Rock and bottle throwers normally don't bring along guns. If there was an isolated incident involving a firearm, the normal number of police officers could surely handle it as they usually do. If they have evidence of the possibility of guns, then they should move swiftly to arrest such persons preemptively.

Moreover, real terrorists either blow themselves up with bombs or attack with timing devices. Do authorities actually believe they will be engaged in shootouts with armed terrorists? If so, it will be the first time in American history. We should remember that at other times when officers have used their guns against crowds, they have been found to be guilty of terrible excesses. In turn, incidents like Kent State created historical moments of martyrdom, which those in authority have never overcome.
Of course the answer is to profile. Anybody who looks like a "violent" protester or a Muslim should be hassled by the police. All the conventioneers should be left alone. I'm not sure exactly how you tell a violent protester from a non-violent protester (except of course, if the protester is committing an act of violence). I'm sure that there are going to be many reports from the protesters indicating that they are getting more than their fair share of police attention.

But of course the big story, from my point of view, is that this isn't 1968.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

That Darn Liberal Media!

Media Matters, an invaluable resource, has the story of a little poll MSNBC ran after Rudy Giuliani's speech. Apparently the question was as follows.

Did Rudy Giulianis speech reassure you or move you to support the Bush-Cheney ticket.

Choice 1 - Reassure

Choice 2 - Move you to support
I don't know if you can catch the tricky subtlety of those choices, but neither choice allows for people who are not going to vote for President Bush. They apparently caught on and changed it, but it still is an interesting reflection of their mind set.

Your Weekly Rush: Ideological Connections

There's an interesting song by Jefferson Airplane entitled "A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly." It consists of the band saying stuff, modified by reverb, over a nice beat. The last thing you hear in the song before it fades into "Young Girl Sunday Blues" is a voice yelling "No man is an island" and a quieter voice saying "He's a peninsula," which sets of some laughter. This is just to indicate that no person's ideology is formed in a vacuum, but is influenced by all that has come before and all that one has been exposed to.

I've often referenced my division of the Modern Conservative movement into four parts (Traditional Conservatives, Classic Conservatives, Libertarian Conservatives, and Limbaugh Conservatives), but this, perhaps, creates the false impression that these schools of thought are separate and distinct. In fact a better way of looking it is somewhat like a pool or lake. All of the currents of thought (and many more that might be added) while recognizable and distinct, are not separate from any of the other trains of thought in modern Conservatism. Individuals are influenced by these strains of thought, and to a certain extent may identify with them to a greater or lesser extent.

All this by way of saying, Rush Limbaugh is probably the most influential conservative thinker of the 1990s and so far the 2000s. His brand of conservatism, whether you like or dislike it (give you two guesses as to my opinion of it) is the dominant form right now. And you need look no further than the President of the United States appearance on the Rush Limbaugh show yesterday.

President Bush (who got cursed with a really goofy looking picture at the Rush Limbaugh website) started his interview by saying "It's an honor to talk to you." and later in the interview stated, in response to a request for an overview of the President's 2nd term agenda, "I mean, you're a good friend and I would hate to let you down . . ."

For those of you who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh regularly, I should note that he very rarely allows guests to appear on his show. As he has explained often enough, he is the show. His opinions and his views are what make the show work. It's not like Hardball or the O'Rielly Factor where, although the hosts are clearly important to the show, having guests on is part of the format.

Of course, you might also argue that President Bush is appearing on the Rush Limbaugh show because he's a big phony. While he's really a reasonable and rational guy, he wants all of Rush Limbaugh's fans to think that he's one of them. To that argument I say, OK, but doesn't that still show the importance of Rush Limbaugh's thought on the modern conservatism?

Anyway obviously the importance of Rush Limbaugh has some interesting implications for the future of the Republican party / Conservative movement. For example, is Ann Coulter an aberration, or is she the next logical step? Something to consider.

Reality is Partisan!

Once again we see how reality is partisan. For example, these Swift Boat Veterans have made many complaints about Senator John Kerry, detailing specific aspects of his military career that they describe as ignoble or cowardly. Unfortunately for those poor swift boat veterans, reality fails to agree. Other witnesses come forward and contradict their stories. The official Navy Records contradict their stories. In some cases common sense contradicts their stories.

Fortunately, our "liberal" press corps does everything they can to cloud reality so as not to shock those who believe the Swift Boat Veterans. A very good article at Salon by Eric Boehlert dissects the heroic role our reporters and news people are playing in protecting us from the liberal-dominated reality.

A Dallas Observer headline was typical of the shoulder-shrugging quality of the Swift boat coverage: "A group of veterans says John Kerry stretches the truth about his Vietnam service. Whom can you believe? Who knows?" USA Today, ignoring the official Navy records, threw up its hands and announced, "A clear picture of what John Kerry did or did not do in Vietnam 35 years ago may never emerge." Early on in the controversy, ABC's "Nightline" reported: "The Kerry campaign calls the charges wrong, offensive and politically motivated. And points to naval records that seemingly contradict the charges." [Emphasis added.]

Seemingly? A more accurate phrasing would have been that Navy records "completely" or "thoroughly" contradict the Swift Boat Veterans charges that emerged 35 years after the fact. Just this week, a CNN scrawl across the bottom of the screen read, "Several Vietnam veterans are backing Kerry's version of events." Again, a more factual phrasing would have been "Navy records completely back Kerry's version of events.” But that would have meant undermining cable news' hottest story of the summer.

Even when faced with bold-faced Swift Boat Veterans contradictions, the press rarely blinked. In an Aug. 25 dispatch, the Associated Press revealed that in 1971 O'Neill met with President Nixon and told him, "I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border," a conversation captured on the White House's secret taping system. Asked about the quote, which completely contradicts O'Neill’s "Unfit for Command" claim that any soldier, including Kerry, who entered Cambodia would have been court-martialed, O'Neill simply told the AP he never went to Cambodia. The AP then failed to ask the obvious follow-up: What part of "I was in Cambodia," did O'Neill not understand?
Thank goodness for such reporters. Remember, they have to face the mocking slurs of such media watchdog groups as the Daily Howler and Media Matters, but they are standing firm to protect every American's right to believe in the Swift Boat Veterans, without facing any troubling contradictions from "reality." Of course, protecting the Swift Boat Veterans claims from the crushing weight of reality also protects a story they've invested quite a bit of time in promoting and commenting on, so I guess it's a win-win situation from their perspective.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I'd Be Upset Too

New York is resolutely liberal city, and, as such, has been the butt of conservative jokes for decades. Conservatives might have a little more hatred for San Francisco, but New York is top of the list of cities that conservatives point to as the opposite of the small town virtues they idealize. So why hold the convention there?

Well a big draw, of course, is Ground Zero. Ground Zero highlights the biggest and best reason to vote President Bush a second term, apparently. I think that this This Modern World cartoon puts that decision in perspective.

And of course that's why New Yorkers are just a little bit upset. The Republican Party is capitalizing on a tragedy that affected all Americans, but New York more than most of us. And it's doing it to promote an agenda that most New Yorkers disagree with. And on the sidelines of all this is the fact that most Republicans at least pretend that New York is an evil corrupt place and that New Yorkers are an evil corrupt people (at least compared to those gentle and noble people who populate other parts of the country).

Of course I'm not a New Yorker, so perhaps I'm not entirely correct in my assessment of the situation.

I Hung My Head

Here's a touching shot from the convention floor.

The Announcer asked this person "What is that on your chin?" Pat Peel, Delegate from Texas replied "I have a purple heart, I hurt myself this morning- uhh - swimming a river I think it was."


DNC Chair Terry McCaulliffe had this to say about the "Purple Bandaid."

It is inexcusable for a Republican delegate to mock anyone who has ever put on a soldier's uniform. It is inexcusable to mock service and sacrifice. Our service men and women put their lives on the line every day. If they are wounded in the line of duty it is because they are fighting on the frontlines for freedom. Anything but complete respect for their service is unacceptable.

Mindful of the fact that over 3,700 purple hearts have been issued during the Iraq war so far and none of us know how high that number will climb, I call on John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, before they speak, to tell their delegates to disavow these tactics.
For myself, I have a hard time imagining the sort of person that could be proud of this sort of behavior. Are these conventioneers not aware that thousands of soldiers have received Purple Hearts? Or do they think John Kerry is the only one?

Ketchup? Catsup?

Here's a nice story from New York, where, if you hadn't heard, they are holding the Republican Convention this week.

FOX News Channel commentator Cal Thomas noticed something was different yesterday when he ordered his ham and cheese omelet in the restaurant at the Double Tree Hotel. The usual bottle of Heinz ketchup was missing from each table. When Thomas asked for some, the waiter brought him ketchup in an unmarked dish. Turns out the Illinois GOP delegation is staying at the hotel. "We were afraid the Heinz bottles would offend the delegates," the mousy management explained. They should have gotten a supply of the special W ketchup being distributed as some events.
Nice. Does it strike you that a defining characteristic of Republicans seems to be pettiness? But perhaps this kind of activity is just an aberration.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

Perhaps this will be my final post on this subject. But if history is any judge, I'd say probably not.

At any rate I had considered putting together all the claims by the swift boat vets and how they had been refuted; but it turns out another person with more ambition has already done it. So I am going to suggest those of you who still think maybe the Swift Boat Vets aren't liars go check it out.

An Interesting Admission

From Robert Novaks latest article.

On the eve of the Republican National Convention, one of the party's foremost leaders from the South was asked about George W. Bush's chances in November. He replied, in a moment of rare candor: "If this campaign is about Kerry, Bush will win the election. If this campaign is about Bush, he will win my state." That is, the GOP must make sure the focus is on Sen. John Kerry to avoid being reduced to the solid Republican South -- and a lost election.
For those playing along at home, how is this different from saying that President Bush doesn't have a record to run on?

Monday, August 30, 2004

Something You'll Probably See elsewhere

This is from a very interesting column by Lloyd Grove at the New York Post, in which he also discusses the Republican Party's plan to dress people up as dolphins.

That's kind of funny in a pathetic kind of way. This, on the other hand, is downright enraging.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert - having already enraged some New Yorkers with his remarks about local office-holders' "unseemly scramble" for federal money after 9/11 - yesterday opened a second front. On "Fox News Sunday," the Illinois Republican insinuated that billionaire financier George Soros, who's funding an independent media campaign to dislodge President Bush, is getting his big bucks from shady sources. "You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years - George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."
Just in case you missed that. Dennis Hastert doesn't know where Soros gets his money (and, frankly, can't be bothered to do some research and find out). So it must be from drugs.

Because if I was making a ton of money off of illegal drugs, the first thing I would want is to legalize drugs so that, well, prices for drugs would plummet and I'd have to start paying taxes. It all makes perfect sense.

A Generic Story

Here's a Generic story that you can plug into the article you like, all related to the Protests in New York.

Of course we hear at Make Me A Commentator!!! do not condone illegal behavior of any kind. But (insert commentators name here) misses the mark a bit in their critique of the (insert civil disturbance here).

For one thing, he seems to buy the notion that the actions of a few individuals are completely representative of liberalism as a whole. I doubt he would feel as comfortable making that comparison if we were to suggest, for example, violence directed against homosexuals or terrorism inflicted on Abortion clinics was somehow representative of American Conservatives as a whole.

He also equates this with the lies of the Swift Boat Veterans, claiming that if we liberals wanted President Bush to condemn those Swift Boat Veterans, shouldn't Kerry be required to condemn the actions of (insert protest group here). The difference being that every day we are finding out about links between the Bush campaign and the swift boat veterans, and Senator Kerry has no connection to said group. I suspect that makes no difference; if there is one thing Conservatives love it's when Liberals condemn other Liberals.

At the end, it's rather sad that a few irresponsible individuals are being used to paint the entire Democratic Party/Liberal movement. But I suppose that's how things go in Conservative Babylon, where there are a million free lance optometrists willing to squash motes like flies while becoming enraged at any suggestion that they might have a few beams of their own.
Thank you. This won't, of course, stop us from making our own comments on specific articles later, but if we miss any this should provide at least partial relief.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Round the Horn, Sunday Sequel

LEFT is RIGHT has a piece on the Progressive Democrats of America which is well worth checking out.

MercuryX23's Fantabulous Blog has a story on a particularly great band and their political leanings.

Musing's Musing has a piece on our brilliant President who never reads polls or newspapers.

Pen-Elayne on the Web has an article on the recent dust up over passing secretes on to the Iraelis.

Respectful of Otters has an illuminating piece on the sort of campaign our beloved President is running.

Ricks Cafe Americain puts some of the Swift Boat Vets statements into perspective.

Rook's Rant has a bit on exactly how dirty this election is turning out to be.

rubber hose has a piece on that greatest of subjects, Spam from Africa.

Sooner Thought has the Seattle Time's endorsement of Kerry. Four years they endorsed President Bush, but have changed their mind.

Speedkill runs the numbers on a recent ad for George W. Bush.

Steve Gilliard's News Blogs has a piece on the protests in New York that is somewhat comforting to those who are worried (like me, I have to admit).

Trish Wilson's Blog has a nice story on Pro-Feminist Men.

Yellow Doggeral Democrat has an interesting exploration of the intersection of language and law in Guantenamo.

And that's the list I hope. I may not be updating very much for the next couple of days; hope that I will be able too, but we'll have to see what life has in store.

New Quote - Huvvah!

And, as always, a new Quotes Page. And later on, our special supersized version of Round the Horn will continue and conclude.