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No Wonder

Posted by Ogged
on 11.13.04

Atrios notes that unknown-to-me Danielle Pletka is in the running to become head of the State Department's Bureau of Near East Affairs. She had this hacktacular exchange with Wolf Blitzer regarding Osama's mention of My Pet Goat.

Blitzer: It sounds Danielle as if he may have watched Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11 based on that little clip.
Pletka: I'm glad to know that Michael Moore is giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

But whatever, that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that I went to her home page at AEI and looked at one of her articles, called Is America Safer?

The first two sentences are already great.

Americans are fairly certain the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, but they're not persuaded that his demise has made them more secure. It is tempting to retreat to talking points and dismiss the arguments against the war out of hand, but the issue deserves serious treatment.

But they're even more delicious when you get to sentences like this.

Since the removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, two-thirds of top al-Qaeda leaders have been arrested or killed, including the man who planned 9-11. The chief operative behind the Africa embassy bombings in 1998 was arrested. Six of the perpetrators of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 are on trial.

Talking points bad, discredited talking points good.

But really, just read the whole (short) article. Such a mishmash of talking points and strawmen wouldn't even make for a competent blog post, and this person is being considered for the State Department's top job in the Middle East?


 

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Ashcroft, Looking Out for You

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.04
Good old John Ashcroft. Remember when he testified before the Senate and said this?
To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists for they erode our unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends.
He meant it. Today.
The danger I see here is that intrusive judicial oversight and second-guessing of presidential determinations in these critical areas can put at risk the very security of our nation in a time of war ... Courts are not equipped to execute the law. They are not accountable to the people."
Which is to say that when Antonin Scalia voted to give Americans trials to go with their indefinite detentions, he wandered too far to the left for John Ashcroft's taste. Slightly more seriously, once again, what's so offensive about Ashcroft's comment isn't that it's false, but what it emphasizes and omits. We give up the "efficiency" of an unfettered executive in return for the balance and freedom of separation of powers. Courts are precisely not accountable to the people because they are beholden to the law. A friend that I'm still trying to get to guest blog has some very smart things to say about the work needed to maintain a vital democracy, so I'll stop here. Come on, guestblogger! Ahaha: Because I'm a very tough motherfucker, I'm listening to Ashcroft's speech on C-Span, and he's making the "unitary executive" argument in the context of separation of powers. To him, that means the courts should stay out of the Executive's business, and not, as is generally understood, that the courts should provide checks and balances on the powers of the President. Amazing. Not just for theocracy, for tyranny too!
The general grant of executive power in Article II ensures that the president has the necessary flexibility, and, I might add, agility, to act quickly, decisively, effectively, in responding to the innumerable unanticipated developments and threats that may confront a nation, especially in these complex and dangerous times of the modern world.
By the way, I keep going on about the "unitary executive," so here's a very good primer on what it means and how it's rationalized.

 

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Best Job Ever?

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.04

Ok, now the boss is throwing things at me when I'm not looking. Luckily, he has terrible aim.


 

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Docs

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.04

Sorry, busy day at work today, but this find by Matt Welch is pretty amazing.


 

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Authorized

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.04
This is really scary. And it makes sense of Bin Laden's last taped message, which, you'll recall, was basically a message to the American people to do the right thing. What that means, according to CIA agent Scheuer, is that we've been given "fair warning."
Even if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, he probably wouldn't have used it for a lack of proper religious authority - authority he has now. "[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik...a rather long treatise on the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Americans," says Scheuer. "[The treatise] found that he was perfectly within his rights to use them.
Sounds like Bin Laden found his own Alberto Gonzales.
Scheuer says bin Laden was criticized by some Muslims for the 9/11 attack because he killed so many people without enough warning and before offering to help convert them to Islam. But now bin Laden has addressed the American people and given fair warning.
Everybody has rules and procedures to keep from feeling evil. So far in the past couple of years, we happy humans have considered, then painstakingly authorized, torture, killing x-thousand civilians, and now, nuking cities. It makes having a brain seem unclean, doesn't it?

 

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It Ain't Just One Woman

Posted by Ogged
on 11.12.04

If there weren't other, real, problems in the world, I'd have a lot more patience for this crap. via ct

It must be sad and hard to be a textbook in Texas.
Last year, the school board was trying to cut evolution out of them.
This year, they're removing references to pollution, global warming, and overpopulation.
Oh, and the phrase "married partners" is not to be used, because it's too general and could include gay couples.
And health/sex ed books contain no mention of contraception. At all.

I'd like to think that there's a steady march of progress, with occasional skirmishes with the forces of evil. But no, there's just a constant undertow of primitivism in human societies, and every now and again we get lucky, and have a few hundred years to catch a couple of breaths.


 

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Father Halloween

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.04

I'm warning you, if you're the type to be offended by Catholic Church / child molestation humor, you'll be offended by the link in this post. If you're not so easily offended, you'll probably agree that this is one of the best Halloween costumes ever.


 

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Why Bother?

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.04

I hate to admit it, and I do think the Democrats should fillibuster Gonzales, but I agree with Atrios.

I have no strong feelings about whether the Democrats should oppose Gonzalez. Anyone Bush nominates is going to be horrible. They should use the opportunity to get him under oath on a few things, and remind the world just what AG Torturer - and the Bush administration - stands for.
[[to be clear, by oppose I mean try to filibuster. Of course they should vote against him and be on record as opposing him.]]

I support the fillibuster in this case because of the torture memos--which is not to say that I think it will get us a more acceptable judge, just that, as a matter of principle, the author of the torture memos should be rejected.

But this whole post-election world makes me think of this.

She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind

She put down in writing what was in her mind

I just don't see why I should even care

It's not dark yet, but it's getting there


 

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Coarse Discourse

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.04

I had to read it twice, but Jack Shafer's Slate column really does start this way.

Newspaper editors give a lot of lip service to the importance of reducing the number of anonymous sources—but they almost never swallow.

The country rejects you, Mr. Shafer.


 

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Gonzales Roundup

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.04

Jack Balkin is typically excellent on why the Democrats must oppose Gonzales for Attorney General.

Matt Yglesias writes,

...if the Geneva Conventions are, in some respect, a bad idea, or even if they aren't a bad idea but Bush merely believes they are a bad idea, there is a procedure in place to alter US law. This procedure involves the United States Congress, passing a new bill, and having the president sign it into law. We all understand, I think, that just because the White House thinks we should privatize social security doesn't mean they can just stop sending out checks and start putting payroll tax money into private accounts. They need to propose a change, and get it passed by the legislature. Al Gonzales is by no means the most rabidly rightwing Texas lawyer in the universe, and he has a nice life story, but he doesn't seem to grasp this basic point of constitutional procedure. That there's a war on doesn't mean the game suddenly has no rules and the president can just do whatever. A man with no respect for the law has no business as Attorney-General.

Finally, Ryan Lizza has the most convincing analysis of Gonzales' nomination.

Given the right's hostility to Gonzales, it might be tempting to interpret his nomination yesterday to run the Justice Department as a sign that Bush is going to start elevating moderates to key posts. After all, Gonzales is less polarizing and less conservative than Ashcroft. But the appointment probably signals the opposite. Conservatives seem to have vetoed Bush's first choice for the Supreme Court, and instead of a lifetime appointment to the bench, Gonzales gets the consolation prize of a few years as attorney general. This may appear to be the first post-election loss for members of the religious right. In fact, it is their first post-election victory.

...

Besides signaling to the religious right that Gonzales will not be his choice for the Supreme Court, Bush derives some ancillary benefits from installing his old friend at Justice. He can now pray that Senate Democrats try to block Gonzales's nomination, which would both showcase the party's ambivalence about some of the Bush administration's anti-terror tools and offer the theater of them beating up on a high-profile Hispanic a few weeks after an election that proved Hispanics show no inclination of voting as a bloc for Democrats. In addition, once confirmed, Bush would have one of his closest friends, someone who owes his entire career to the president, as the chief law enforcement officer of the Unites States. Considering the legal scraps that presidents have often found themselves in during their second terms, Attorney General Gonzales will be a nice piece of insurance for the White House.
So liberals have plenty of cause to worry that Gonzales will be an excessively partisan attorney general. But they should probably be less concerned about the job Gonzales just got--and more worried about the Supreme Court job he almost certainly won't get.

 

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Arafat

Posted by Ogged
on 11.11.04

In the U.S., we're all supposed to know that Yasser Arafat was a terrorist who failed at leading his people. But even here there might be just enough humanity to acknowledge that he didn't choose the easiest life, and for all his faults and failures, he did represent the Palestinian people. And his death, stateless, at a not young age, is a sad reminder of how many years the Palestinians have been abused and neglected, by Americans, Israelis, and Arabs--though hardly by all in equal measure.

We look back on sorry human episodes like the expulsion of Native Americans, and wonder how people could have been so callous. But it's much harder to see when it's happening in real time, in our own lives, with so many people making excuses, and offering justifications. You needn't grieve the man, but at least spare a thought for all the people there who have died, and will die, without even a country to be buried in.


 

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Like a Fish

Posted by Ogged
on 11.10.04

I've been swimming about every day for a couple of months now, and since I seem to be sticking with it, I figured it was about time to make sure I'm doing it right, using proper technique, and all that.

I looked around the web for lessons, and finally agreed to meet with an instructor who turned out to be a former member of the Swedish women's Olympic team.

Yeah, it's totally as hot as it sounds.

Can there be a better way to learn than from a wicked hot, good-natured, no-nonsense member of one's desired sex who can totally kick your ass at what you're learning?

She says Swedish-accented things like, "Now swim to the other side, but you can only take three breaths." And what I think is, "Woman, are you crazy? I breathe on every stroke, and I'm still gasping." But, of course, what I say is, "Ok."

Then, when I pop out on the other side, all little-boy proud of having made it with just three breaths, she's already there waiting for me (of course) and says, "Ok, now go back and only take two breaths." Fuuuck.

So, two breaths back, pop up, and she asks, "How was that?" "Fine. I didn't enjoy it, but it was fine."

"It's not supposed to be fun," she says, smiling.

I'm so in love.

Anyway, she's married.


 

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Hyperactive

Posted by Ogged
on 11.10.04

Wow. James Wolcott drops the snark and writes a fantastic post on American empire and the illusion of military might. Read the whole thing.


 

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Like Cymbals, Baby

Posted by Ogged
on 11.10.04

I can't even post the fun stuff anymore without slamming baa. Ages ago, we were talking about Leon Kass, and part of the disagreement was about the claim that women are more "naturally monogamous" than men. There are precious few debunkings on the web of that tired claim, but the apostropher has found a good one.

A study of the evolution of sperm has revealed the average human female does anything but stand by her man: like many other primates, she is not averse to promiscuity if she can get away with it.

The science behind this boils down to: big testicles = cheating women. Pretty funny that size obsession even extends to testicles, so having "big balls" is a compliment. I have no idea how it came to be that having metal testicles--brass balls, balls that clang--became desirable.

Awesome: Ben W-lfs-n found this nugget.

Baker describes at least three types of distinctly different sperm, each with an apparently different mission. The "egg-getters," those who match our usual characterization of the typical sperm, in actuality comprise only 1% or less of the sperm in a man's ejaculate. Other sperm appear to function as "blockers" of women's cervical crypts or "egg-killers" who attack foreign sperm.

How cool is that?


 

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Skidding Along the Bottom of the Slope

Posted by Ogged
on 11.10.04

So, Alberto Gonzales is to be John Ashcroft's replacement. Such a nice-seeming Hispanic man. Also the nice man who called the Geneva Conventions "quaint." Michael Froomkin is exactly right.

That would be the same Gonzales who is up to his eye teeth in not just the torture memos, but also the idea that the US can unilaterally decide that the Geneva convention doesn't apply to people we designate as ‘terrorists' even if they are captured on a battlefield.

...

The lesson for the Democrats seems clear to me: if you are going to take damage either way, better to be hung for a lion than a lamb. Not to mention that Gonzales's conduct in office has been immoral. To allow him to hold office requiring confirmation is to partake of his taint.

Does anyone even care that we're now one of the world's torturing regimes? And that we're about to appoint the primary apologist for that state of affairs to become our enforcement officer?

UPDATE: I did not know that Gonzales was also counsel for Enron.

It's clear what's happening, right? This is only in small part about who will be Attorney General. It's an effort to make the Republicans the presumptive party of choice for Hispanic voters. Throw up a Hispanic candidate that Democrats will have to at least make a show of opposing, and accuse them of being anti-Hispanic. Simple as that. (Actually, you don't even have to make the accusation, just let their opposition turn off Hispanic voters.) Only a very skilfull response by the Democrats, accusing the Republicans of using race cynically, could possibly salvage them. But it won't happen. They'll note their objections, and then confirm. But even noting objections will hurt them with Hispanic voters, and in confirming they'll be selling their souls. Remember when Howard Dean was complaining about Democrats not standing up to the Republicans? It's happening all over again.

MORE: Why the Hispanic vote is crucial.


 

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Scary Bodies

Posted by Ogged
on 11.10.04
I have to confess something, as a liberal guy: I was always just a bit uncomfortable with pro-choice rhetoric that invoked "control of women's bodies" as the central issue of the abortion debate. I believed that women were sincere in invoking it, but the plausibility of abortion as murder was enough to keep me thinking that anti-abortionists weren't necessarily pursuing ulterior motives. I was wrong.
Women seeking abortions in Mississippi must first sign a form indicating they've been told abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer. They aren't told that scientific reviews have concluded there is no such risk.
Similar information suggesting a cancer link is given to women considering abortion in Texas, Louisiana and Kansas, and legislation to require such notification has been introduced in 14 other states.
That's just typical unconscionable wingnuttery. But listen to one scientist who claims that there is, in fact, a link between abortion and breast cancer.
Joel Brind, a biochemist at Baruch College in New York who advises the [anti-abortion group] Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, noted that a woman's chances of getting breast cancer go down if she gives birth at a relatively young age. He reasons that those who opt for abortion are giving up a chance of reducing their breast cancer risk.
Did you catch that? He's not actually claiming that abortion per se increases the risk of breast cancer, but that not having a baby at a young age does. Abortion, in this case, is the just the mediating factor; no different, logically, from, say, a career. If you're tempted to defend Brind on the grounds that what he says is narrowly true (and I don't know that it is), consider that his comment isn't outrageous for being false, but for being misleading (by making abortion seem to be the cause of an increased chance of cancer) and selective (first, because there are many factors that increase or decrease cancer rates, and he's just focusing on one and second, because having babies early has its own costs and risks, and he's not mentioning them). Finally, the story is yet another reason why voting for a Republican in our current political alignment is very hard to justify.
Louisiana -- which elected a Democratic governor last year, replacing a Republican -- is going to change its official literature that mentions the cancer link, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the state's Department of Health and Hospitals.
A small, likely brief moment of triumph for the forces of light.

 

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A Review

Posted by Unf
on 11.10.04

In case we have any gamers out there (and I tend to think we don't), let me offer my opinion that Halo 2 is definitely way cool, although not totally mind blowing as I had hoped. To get all Kuhnian on you, I wouldn't call it paradigm-shifting.

Of course, I've only played the multiplayer levels so far, so maybe the campaign portion really kicks ass. Also haven't tried out the online elements of the game, as I'm scared of being thoroughly beaten by a bunch of 12 year olds.


 

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Road Trip!

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

Was it here or off-blog that I was saying that in twenty years, Iran would likely be more free than the U.S.? In any case, Iran is looking pretty damn good, no?

Well, the Tehran pictures are, one should note, all from the same roughly five square-block area, in the far north of the city, where you can still breathe the air (if you're rich enough to live up there, of course). Even so, I wouldn't be surprised if they had to Photoshop the bejeebers out of those. In the rest of the city, the sky looks like this. That's not dusk, or underexposure.


 

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Faith

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

Ah, I'd missed this, but apropos our recent discussions of the role of religion in politics, here's a very nice--Christian--editorial on faith by Gary Hart.

via lindsay


 

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The Hitch

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

You can just smell something that's going to be linked a lot, and Hitchens' latest stinks plenty.

George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the U.S. armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled. The demolition of the Taliban, the huge damage inflicted on the al-Qaida network, and the confrontation with theocratic saboteurs in Iraq represent huge advances for the non-fundamentalist forces in many countries. The "antiwar" faction even recognizes this achievement, if only indirectly, by complaining about the way in which it has infuriated the Islamic religious extremists around the world. But does it accept the apparent corollary—that we should have been pursuing a policy to which the fanatics had no objection?

This is pure foolishness, and I don't mean that in a good way. It's the "killing terrorists is defeating terrorism" argument, with the same "But, what if the way you kill them makes more terrorists?" lacuna. Hitches dresses it up as a fight against fundamentalism, to give it some counter-intuitive frisson, but color me unmoved.

And his second bit of cleverness depends on a misrepresentation. The anti-war faction doesn't complain that we're outraging extremists, but that we're outraging moderates such that they become extremists. But that doesn't have such nifty corollaries.


 

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They Reign Supreme

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04
One way to "fight" the religious right would be to have a site that catalogs all the scary things it gets away with, and would get away with if it could. Things like this.
For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control.
...
The American Pharmacists Association, with 50,000 members, has a policy that says druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object on moral grounds, but they must make arrangements so a patient can still get the pills. Yet some pharmacists have refused to hand the prescription to another druggist to fill.
In Madison, Wis., a pharmacist faces possible disciplinary action by the state pharmacy board for refusing to transfer a woman's prescription for birth-control pills to another druggist or to give the slip back to her. He would not refill it because of his religious views.
They face disciplinary action now, but the movement is toward allowing this behavior. Does such a site exist?

 

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The Eagle Has Flown

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

Not that this is your source for breaking news, but just because it feels good to write it, CNN is reporting that John Ashcroft has resigned.

Killjoy Atrios notes (correctly...sigh),

Sadly, it's not a moment for jubilation. They'll likely find someone who's actually much more competent about throwing away civil liberties and who is more popular.

Well, it's still a moment for jubilation.

MORE: And, of course, we thought we were rid of Ashcroft when he lost his Senate seat, and he came back, more powerful than ever. So, what, Chief Justice Ashcroft?


 

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Just Grr

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

Ok, this'll be my last purely angry post for a while (I think). And once again, what the apostropher says.

One salutary result of the election is that we blue-staters (speaking spiritually, of course), finally feel free to say, "Oh, fuck you already" to the red-staters. It is, as the apostropher catalogs, amazing how much abuse "liberals" take, and are expected to take, while any mention that crazy right-wing Christians are crazy, or right-wing, is beneath us, or out of bounds, or bound to cost us votes, etc.

Yes, we'll get around to crafting the brilliant rhetorical/political strategy that will lead the Democrats to their rightful place atop the American political pyramid, but I've been waiting years and years to hate my closed-minded neighbors, and I'm not passing up this chance.

MORE: Matt Yglesias writes,

Interestingly, I never actually saw John Kerry or any other Democratic elected official condescend to these people. Certainly, Kerry had no equivalent to Bush's sneering evocation of Massachusetts as a land of pure darkness and evil. And no one on the left has ever treated preachers and priests to the volumes of scorn the right regularly heaps on academics and the dread Hollywood elite. Kerry went so far in the debates to clarify that he "respects" the views of the pro-life, while Bush compared the pro-choice to slaveholders.

...

the next election's a long way off, and one doubts that these paragons of humble American virtue spend a lot of time reading liberal Web magazines. So perhaps for a moment I can say what I mean rather than what would be tactically expedient: If ever there were a group of people deserving of scorn and condescension, we have been meeting them at the polls these past few elections.

And Kevin Drum has typically moderate and reasonable thoughts on the topic.


 

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I Blame You

Posted by Ogged
on 11.09.04

I keep forgetting to say this. This post was stupid and unfunny, and no one called me on it. What kinds of friends are you people, anyway?


 

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Them Too

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

Andrew Sullivan links to this story.

In the Netherlands, artist Chris Ripke reacted to the murder on Theo Van Gogh by an islamic fundamentalist by painting a mural with the text "Gij zult niet doden" ("Thou Shalt Not Kill"), one of the ten commandments of the Christian religion.
But because the head of the nearby mosque complained to the police that this was 'offensive' and 'racist', the cops came and sent in city workers to sandblast the mural. A local journalist, Wim Nottroth, who wanted to protest against this by standing in front of the mural was arrested.

Sullivan writes, "It is as if liberal society wants to commit suicide."

He's exactly right. And suicide is precisely the right term for a society that manages to make its defining characteristic, its tolerance, the means of its own undoing. Do liberals have a catechism? They should add this: When someone with skin darker than yours does something wrong, it's still wrong. Another way to put this: if you think the folks who voted for Bush because he's anti-gay are dumb fucks, you damn well better think that observant Muslims are dumb fucks too, because they can't even believe we're talking about this shit.

And Europe will explode over these issues. This is hardly my area of expertise, but as far as I can tell, European governments have responded to the influx of Muslim immigrants with precisely the wrong combination of economic neglect and cultural deference. As a result, you have disaffected poor Muslim youth, and resentful native Europeans. Neither side is going to become more reasonable...


 

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Feeling Ornery?

Posted by Unf
on 11.08.04

Pictures of puppies always make me feel better when I get mad at the whole world.


 

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I Could Go On

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

And another thing, while I'm not being reasonable: every time you see a "Support Our Troops" sticker, it belongs to a Bush supporter and what it means is, "I'm a fucking idiot."

Thanks for visiting.


 

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They're not Martians

Posted by Bob
on 11.08.04

Steve Gilliard thinks the election was won by willfully ignorant bigots:

They think Bush is a godly man. They never wonder why the Republicans never meet their promises to them. They don't believe in global warming. They do believe in the "Flypaper Strategy." They believe in one paragraph out of Leviticus, but they ignore the rest of the Bible. They let themselves get scammed over and over by robber barons and religious hucksters. And apparently, although I find this hard to conceive of, they believe that the media is liberal. They're fucking stupid. They've been calling me an elitist snob for many years now. Fine. I'm an elitist snob, fuck you very much, you mouth-breathing bloodthirsty fucktard bigot. I work to educate myself. I spend an inordinate amount of time, energy and money to get a more or less accurate idea of what's going on around me.

Timothy Burke thinks it was won by anti-meritocratic peasants who just want Mr. Incredible to stick to his cubicle like the rest of us.

...red-staters are not dupes of plutocrats. They are not people who've been distracted by the "moral issues" trope from their "true interests". The red-staters are the people who have stayed behind while everyone else has left because they do not want to or cannot live the blue-state way, because they have an idea of moral economy that scorns getting ahead, rejects meritocratic values. They don't mind wealth achieved through pure serendipity.... But they do mind wealth achieved through individually differentiated effort, through accumulative aspiration.

Either way, they're Martians. Christian Martians who hate double-groom wedding cakes more than they hate poverty and 100,000 senseless war-dead in Iraq.

What do we do? A lot of people are saying that we have to understand them better, go to the Wal-Mart and chat with them over the riding mowers. Use religious language and make the war against the flat income tax sound to them as righteous as the war against Islam. They're aliens, and like Picard invoking "Darmok and Jelad at Tenagra" we must use their words to communicate our thoughts.

No. There is no evidence that any actual Martian voted in this election, and the condescension that is currently dripping from all over the American left -- from my lips included -- will only gross those people out more and drive them further into the arms of those phony populist Republicans. We call them Martians, we call them yokels who don't understand their own values -- do we also think they don't know how to train their web browsers on our blogs?

And anyway, I don't like invoking religion to push my secular agenda. It's dishonest, and it must come across as dishonest. And anyway, it's disrespectful to those of us who are religious but who don't buy into Jesus' divinity.

The conservative movement has made bigotry acceptable by launching a religious war. We have to make it unacceptable -- by calling spades spades, and by getting our allies in the churches and the racial-identity groups to denounce the notion that we humans can judge or fellow humans. And none of this requires even stepping foot into Wal-Marts.


 

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The personal is political

Posted by Bob
on 11.08.04

The gay-marriage types will be eggshelling around for a couple years, so here's a new (not so new, but new to me) progressive pet cause to adopt! It's got everything we like in our pet causes: (a) it's good for the environment but bad for big business; (b) it's sure to piss off heartland types -- even poor ones, who stand to benefit the most; and (c) it comes across as possibly anti-Christian, when actually it's more than compatible with a deeper, truer Christianity.


 

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The Easy Part?

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

Jim Henley makes a very good point.

The Australian quotes a US Marine surgeon warning that the casualty toll from the incipient Fallujah Assault (codenamed Operation: Here We Go Again) "would reach levels not seen since the Vietnam War." I wouldn't be so sure.
This assault was telegraphed well in advance. As a reminder, we are fighting a guerrilla war. Guerrillas are not in the business of sitting around waiting for long-telegraphed assaults. I'm not saying there are no insurgent forces in the city any more, but I'll bet a lot of them are long gone.

Which is to say, the takeover of Fallujah, much like the takeover of Iraq itself in the initial phase of the war, might be much easier than anticipated. But that doesn't mean it will have been a success.


 

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Given Up, Already?

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

I don't get it. Atrios and Yglesias are both advocating a Democratic strategy of "opposition, not obstruction" with an emphasis on making the Republicans responsible for everything that happens, while offering utopian plans to use as election cudgels next time around. I see the logic, though I'm hardly convinced people will fall for it, but, more important, what about the Supreme Court and the fillibuster?

My boss usually votes Republican, and he's been coming to chat over the last few days about how Democratic senators "owe it to the country" to keep wingnuts off the Supreme Court. Regular folks are learning to do their own abortions. It's quite possible that Rehnquist's replacement, like Rehnquist, will serve for over 30 years. Surely the Democrats can stand up on this one?


 

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Resolved

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

James Wolcott takes the cue from the increasingly mindless Nick Kristof, and has the perfect slogan for Dems in '08.

Shoot a Fag for Jesus. It's a simple, catchy slogan that will look good on a bumperstickers, yet carry a multilateral strike: pro-guns, anti-gay, and unashamedly Christian.

We can't lose.


 

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Love Me, Dammit

Posted by Ogged
on 11.08.04

Mark Schmitt has some fine advice for your upcoming reading.

In the weeks ahead, there will be hundreds of essays, blog posts, sonnets and sestinas on the perennial question of "Where the Democrats Should Go Next" or "How to Save Liberalism." I expect to write a few of them myself. You can't read all of them, so here are two tips to pare back your reading:
First, whenever you see an analysis that begins with a phrase similar to, "We need to find a way to convince low-income/rural/evangelical whites to stop voting against their own self-interest," stop reading.

There's more.


 

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The window dressing

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 11.07.04

America might be in a terminal decline, but let's talk interior decorating. Exciting discoveries: for less money than you might expect, Linens-n-things will sell you faux-mink drapes. To me, it's a look that says "you'll never make it out of this one-night stand alive," but to each his own. If your tastes run that way, as I almost wish mine did, you can pick up an imitation leather shower curtain as well. I would have thought that leathermen had their own specialty stores, but apparently Tom of Finland heads to the strip malls with the rest of us.

The only redemptive moment: the femme/buch transformation from man who thinks carefully about drapes to man who gets out his drill and installs them. My soul is at rest; my drapes look fantastic.


 

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59 Million is A Lot

Posted by Ogged
on 11.07.04

Ok, ok, so I'm trying to understand the people who voted for Bush. At least the ones who can be engaged. So, this bit from (god help me) Mark Steyn (via, yes, Insty), is worth thinking about.

Forty five per cent of Hispanics voted for the President, as did 25 per cent of Jews, and 23 per cent of gays. And this coalition of common-or-garden rednecks, Hispanic rednecks, sinister Zionist rednecks, and lesbian rednecks who enjoy hitting on their gay-loathin' sisters expanded its share of the vote across the entire country - not just in the Bush states but in the Kerry states, too.

Though I still think America's decline is now just a matter of time and that things really are hopeless, I'll try to address some of this in a post later about what the Democrats ought to do (hope being, as we've discussed, for the hopeless).


 

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