Saturday, October 30, 2004

From Across the Ocean

I'm watching the Oxford Union debate - "Should Pres. Bush be Re-elected."
Will Hutton, the former editor of The Observer, gave a fiery speech. It was not just aimed against George Bush, but was for John Kerry. One good question Hutton touched on was "Why was this a war on terror, not terrorists or terrorism? It was a deliberate ploy" to create fear in America.

Grover Norquist is speaking in favor of Bush and his view on economics. He just said Bush is up in the polls. I wonder which ones??

I recently read an article in Harper's on the Left Behind series. In that article, the author mentions the sense of victimization that pervades, not just the novels, but certain social groups in America. They are those middle or upper-middle class (white, Christian) people who drive SUVs, etc. etc. It seems as if these people want to find an excuse to feel victimized. Feeling as if they, poor Christians, have been pushed aside by society.
When we look at those people supporting Bush, and speaking with glassy stares about not "fighting them on our soil" and who almost revel in their fearfulness, those are the people that seek victimization. They act as if Bush is struggling against great powers (including, perhaps, the liberal media?). What better way to feel victimized than to assume that the world is against you. There cannot be diplomatic solutions, only absolute solutions. This makes them right and, by extension, makes them righteous.

Richard Dreyfuss is now making jokes that fall horribly flat. He looks drunk, and has mentioned Revelations and the establishment of Israel marking the end of the world (that being the motive for Bush's support of Israel). "Mr. Bush, you are no Ronald Reagan. . . and neither was Ronald Reagan."
Dreyfuss is making some sense, but it would be better if he wasn't clearly soused. Then again, I can't really blame him.
"This election marks something particularly dangerous. . ."

I try to avoid thinking that way, but it seems unavoidable. Even to the most realistic mind, the world appears changing. There will likely be no great destruction or paradigm shift in the next four years. But it is coming, slowly. I can only hope that it will be a gentle shift.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Flailing Against the Facts

From Media Matters - "In an October 28 article, Washington Times defense and national security reporter Bill Gertz cited John A. "Jack" Shaw, the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for international technology and security, to assert as fact that "Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, 'almost certainly' removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility." Although senior Pentagon officials have distanced themselves from Shaw's claims, The Washington Times article was featured on The Drudge Report; cited by radio host Rush Limbaugh; and cited on FOX News Channel by Newt Gingrich and radio host Monica Crowley. Radio host G. Gordon Liddy and FOX News Channel political analyst Dick Morris also proffered the same claim made in the Times article."

Not to mention ABC Phoenix and Dick Morris on recent talk shows (clips of which were shown on two of my Fox affiliates).
"The claims made in the Washington Times article have been further discredited. As CNN noted on October 29, "Asked about Shaw's comments during an interview on WABC radio in New York, [Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld said, 'No, I have no information on that at all and cannot validate that even slightly.'" CNN also reported, "Di Rita said Shaw was not speaking for the Pentagon and that his views were not those of senior defense officials." Di Rita also noted that "Shaw's superiors were talking to him about his comments.""

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Originally uploaded by ccmoira.
Maybe the explosives were hidden in these.

Missing: Arms and a Brain

The issue of the missing explosives should be a negative for Bush, no matter what. The fact that there were ever questions about something so important is damning.
It won't be enough to sway many people but, there you have it. Many people are stupid.
This includes the people at The Washington Times (as if we didn't all know that already).

"John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad."
Urm, ok?
"Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration"."
Oh, well as long as the Washington Times says that this guy says his information is reliable . . .
I'm not even denying that this maybe, could be true. But this type of reporting is pathetic. It is especially pathetic that my AZ ABC show from last night mentioned this story (due to come out today) - and mentioned it as if it dispelled any lingering questions.
"Al-Qaqaa, a known Iraqi weapons site, was monitored closely, Mr. Shaw said.
"That was such a pivotal location, Number 1, that the mere fact of [special explosives] disappearing was impossible," Mr. Shaw said. "And Number 2, if the stuff disappeared, it had to have gone before we got there.""
It was impossible! It could not possibly have happened. Ok then as long as we all agree to shut our eyes and forget everything. . .
According to the article, the UN had sealed the facility in January of 2003. The Pentagon says there was no "evidence of movement of explosives from the facility after April 6." The Army's 75th Exploitation Task Force (what kind of name is that?) inspected the area in early May.
The article has no mention of the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which apparently did not inspect the site when they arrived April 3rd. Trusted Iraqis have also claimed that "it is impossible that these materials could have been taken from this site before the regime's fall." (See Daily Kos for more on this).

The Washington Times believes that the Russians were supplying arms to Saddam Hussein, but began an arms-removal program when "Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said."
". Shaw said he believes that the withdrawal of Russian-made weapons and explosives from Iraq was part of plan by Saddam to set up a "redoubt" in Syria that could be used as a base for launching pro-Saddam insurgency operations in Iraq.
[. . .]
Documents reviewed by the official included itineraries of military units involved in the truck shipments to Syria. The materials outlined in the documents included missile components, MiG jet parts, tank parts and chemicals used to make chemical weapons, the official said.
[. . .]
Defense officials said the Russians can provide information on what happened to the Iraqi weapons and explosives that were transported out of the country. Officials believe the Russians also can explain what happened to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs."
How does that first point even seem like a reasonable hypothesis? And isn't it difficult to move chemical weapons without leaving some kind of trace? And, again, if we were so sure that Saddam Hussein had these weapons, why weren't we monitoring these kinds of movements more closely? Wasn't the whole point to avoid the explosives falling into the wrong hands?
Someone help me before my head explodes.

UPDATE: From the New York Times.
Looters stormed the weapons site at Al Qaqaa in the days after American troops swept through the area in early April 2003 on their way to Baghdad, gutting office buildings, carrying off munitions and even dismantling heavy machinery, three Iraqi witnesses and a regional security chief said Wednesday.
The Iraqis described an orgy of theft so extensive that enterprising residents rented their trucks to looters. But some looting was clearly indiscriminate, with people grabbing anything they could find and later heaving unwanted items off the trucks.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Bullshit's Deep In Here

Originally uploaded by ccmoira.
From James Wolcott:

"[Diane] West claimed that a Newsweek editor had opined that the pro-Kerry bias in the media could swing the election five points in his favor.
[. . .]
Any newsmagazine that employs the Bush-licking Howard Fineman shouldn't talk squat about bias.
[. . .]
There are no coincidences at Fox News. Three times today, and the day is still relatively young, Fox hit the note of liberal bias to sound the theme that the press is "in the tank" for Kerry, and that any victory he gets will be a tainted gift from the media elite."

Meanwhile, consumer confidence has fallen and there are still nearly 380 missing tons of explosives.

Wear This Donkey Outfit

"A poll by Primetime Live revealed that 56% of Republicans are very satisfied with their sex lives, but only 47% of Democrats are. More Republicans have worn something sexy to enhance their sex life, but more Democrats have faked and orgasm." - ABC News/The Economist.
Maybe this might explain it.
". . . Another sex professional, 25-year-old Eve, says, “I don’t want to single out the Republicans, but they are majority male and a fairly wealthy group of people.”"

Painful Withdrawal

"A man does not often change his deepest convictions. But it is not unusual for a man to change his calculation of risk." - The Economist
Bush might want to consider that; but this is actually in reference to Ariel Sharon, who recently got the approval of the Knesset (barely) for the withdrawal of Jewish settlers in Gaza.
Many that supported Sharon's plan want a referendum on the issue, but Sharon is fighting it.
"A person can change their mind from time to time but not give in to pressures and ultimatums," [Sharon] told Haaretz newspaper.
"My position on the referendum is unchanged - I am opposed because it will lead to terrible tensions and a rupture in the public."
People are already divided within Gaza, with some even being targeted by vandals for their views about leaving. This situation will only get worse, as members of the Likud Party and other government officials have threatened to leave the government if a referendum is not called.

It seems like such an odd move for Sharon to push this withdrawal plan. I have no doubt that it is an appeasement effort. Many Palestinians suspect that this withdrawal is just a distraction as Israel takes tighter control of the West Bank.
I remember that after I first heard of the proposal (and doubted its motives) there followed several assassinations of Palestinian leaders. - Pay no attention to the gun I am holding in my other hand.

Still, Sharon seems intent on this plan and I will not pretend to understand the machinations in this situation.

"In the end, the dark and inner thoughts of these geriatric war-horses are unknowable and scarcely matter (not least because neither is likely to be around for the end). What does matter is what they do or can be forced to do while they have power, and whether their actioins look likely to make things better or not. Measured by that yardstick, Mr. Sharon's plan to quit Gaza is a good thing, no matter what his true motives." - The Economist
I am frustrated by the US treatment of the situation. Both Bush and Kerry seem intent on ignoring Yassir Arafat, a fact which has more to do with national politics than any sense that it will help things over there.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I Wish They Hadn't Missed

Ann Coulter, bastion of class...

COULTER: A couple alleged males attempted to sucker punch a 100-pound woman and missed. And they ended up with their faces smashed in and spending the night in the Pima County Jail, where I'm sure -- being good liberals -- their views on gay marriage will serve them well.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Rehnquist and Rod Stewart

Chief Justice William Rehnquist is right now being treated for thyroid cancer. I wonder if this will spur any of those undecideds or get more people out to the polls. People who can't get their heads around the importance of voting Kerry into office for four years might understand better the need to get a reasonable court justice appointed to the court for life.

"Several of the serving justices are over 70, so whoever wins the poll on 2 November could appoint up to four new Supreme Court judges during his time in office, our correspondent adds."
This is all even more important when you think about the fact that we will probably still have a Republican Congress after Nov. 2.

What Weighs More?

There were a couple gems on the news tonight.
First, I saw a meaningful discussion of why the media is covering trivial news in these last few days before the election. This was on CNN's Reliable Sources and involved a rehashing of all of the trivial news stories (including Kerry's mention of Cheney's lesbian daughter and Teresa Heinz Kerry's misstatement about Laura Bush never having a job).
I don't think they see the irony.

I was prevented from lashing out in anger at my coworkers by the calming influence of Jon Stewart on C-Span. Stewart was speaking at the New Yorker book festival and basically expanded on what he said on Crossfire, about the laziness of the media. (I will avoid mooning over Stewart here; but I must say, he is a very charming man.)

In my last program of the evening, I heard Dick Cheney say, "If Kerry had been President the likelihood is that Saddam Hussein would still be in power, and might even have acquired nuclear weapons." Cheney is too good at delivering lines like this. On the lips of Bush, it would sound like a cartoonish rallying cry read from a teleprompter. When Cheney says it, the words "likelihood" and "might" wither under a tone of dread certainty.

Well, we may have reason to be afraid as 380 tons of explosives have gone missing in Iraq, according to a New York Times article.

"United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year."
Last year??
"The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed."
Last month??
Bush was probably not informed. And, if this story goes any further as a scandal, it could be the death blow for Rice.
""This is a high explosives risk, but not necessarily a proliferation risk," one senior Bush administration official said."
Whew. I was worried there for a minute.
"After the invasion, when widespread looting began in Iraq, the international weapons experts grew concerned that the Qaqaa stockpile could fall into unfriendly hands. In May, an internal I.A.E.A. memorandum warned that terrorists might be helping "themselves to the greatest explosives bonanza in history.""
"Stay the course. Stay the course. Stay the course..."

"I just don't feel safe any more," said Judy [to BBC]. "The terrorists could strike any time." - Judy is inclined to vote for Bush.

I would like to react to the WSJ article (Did the U.S. Err by Halting Strike on Zarqawi Camp?), because I've heard mention of it already this morning. Unfortunately, it requires a subscription. So I will wait until it is blogged.
*Sigh* - Always a step behind.

So, what weighs more? Phantom nuclear weapons under a hypothetical Kerry presidency or 380 tons of explosives?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

"Cloud-Cuckoo-Land" Proudly Run By Americans

Management and Training Corp. (MTC) is bidding to run prisons in Britain. MTC, and its Director Lane McCotter, were in charge of Iraq's prison system, including Abu Ghraib.

"There is no suggestion that McCotter was personally involved in the abuses at Abu Ghraib, but questions have been raised about whether the culture of the US private penal system influenced the environment that allowed the atrocities to occur.

McCotter, a Vietnam veteran, has a chequered record of running US jails. In 1997 he was forced to resign as a senior prison official in Utah after a scandal surrounding the death of a mentally ill inmate strapped naked to a chair for 16 hours. This year, Schumer wrote to Ashcroft, asking why someone with McCotter's controversial history was sent to Iraq."
Good question. In general, I would like to know more about the set-up of the prisons in Iraq. It is still not clear to me what role civilian contractors played and what their interaction with Army officers entailed.
"Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten expressed concerns that Britain's prison culture could be undermined by the arrival of American firms.

'The government is in cloud-cuckoo-land if it thinks privatising prisons will solve the mess. The problems of suicides, overcrowding and reoffending will not be solved by bringing in a private company from the US.'"
For more information on the US prison system check out Human Rights Watch.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Watch This

Fun with iFilm...

Poop Valhalla
"If you're going to be against gay rights then you better take out that pole up your ass" - from Triumph to Ralph Reed.

Anne Coulter Pelted With Pies
Coulter runs in high heels.

The O'Sexxy Factor
He sees a lesbian cruise as "a challenge."
"I know men real well, being a manly man."
"Was there sex in the foxhole?"

The GOP in Two Minutes
Put together like that, it's almost like creepy music.

Jimmy Swaggart and Gays
"I'm going to kill him and tell God he died." - Wha?

Alan Keyes Sings
"He didn't even wait for an ethnic holiday."
I think Keyes may be a self-hating homosexual. I mean, seriously.

A Little Django
Completely unrelated to politics - so what?

Hitchens Revisited

I see that James Wolcott agrees with my earlier assessment of Hitchens' flaccid article in The Nation.

"He seems more peeved about the left than he is passionate for Bush."

And it is a left that doesn't really exist, except, perhaps, on a distant fringe. Why does Hitchens, a once respectable if slightly drunk writer, insist on brandishing arguments akin to "Democrats support Saddam!"
He is of the type that decries the popularity of Michael Moore as an example of the unhinged mentality of the left. And this, presumably, is a reason to support Bush (he gives little other reason, so I have to extrapolate).
Those that espouse this view should know that the support for Moore, in many cases, is a desperate one. Democrats are frustrated and so have embraced someone who can speak for them in a loud voice, because they are so often silenced. This should hardly negate the many reasoned and moderated voices on the left.

I think, if we look at the last paragraph of Hitchens' article in conjunction with the PIPA poll, we can see what is really going on in Hitchens' mind.

From Hitchens, "The President, notwithstanding his shortcomings of intellect, has been able to say, repeatedly and even repetitively, the essential thing: that we are involved in this war without apology and without remorse. He should go further, and admit the evident possibility of defeat--which might concentrate a few minds--while abjuring any notion of capitulation. Senator Kerry is also capable of saying this, but not without cheapening it or qualifying it, so that, in the Nation prisoners' dilemma, he is offering you the worst of both worlds. Myself, I have made my own escape from your self-imposed quandary. Believe me when I say that once you have done it, there's no going back."
From the PIPA press release, "Kull continues, 'To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq.'"
Perhaps Hitchens has switched from alcohol to Kool-Aid.

Truly Fertile Land

In an article on BBC online, reporter Hugh Sykes focuses on the differences between the American and British approach to the war. There is a clear bias in the article, one which I would be more frustrated with if it did not follow my own line of thinking.

"But I believe this is a vicious circle of their own making, that much of the hatred of the Americans that is now violently expressed was provoked by their ignorant disrespect of decent people.
. . .
Many of us reported at the time that there seemed to be no plan for the peace, that the occupying forces appeared to be out of control.

Retired American General Jay Garner, the first civilian administrator in post-war Iraq, says this was true.

He told the New York Times this month that the Bush administration did not 'have their heads in the post-war game.'
. . .
An Iraqi engineer told me this week: 'The Americans have made this land truly fertile for terrorism.'"
I have no doubt that this is all true; but it does seem disingenuous to compare these facts with the British approach to the Iraqis. The Americans are steering this war and the British are not in quite the same position. I am not arguing with the criticism of the American approach, just the comparison Sykes attempts.
"[British] Brigadier Andrew Kennet believes that "softly, softly" pays off.

He told me 'I did not raze Basra to the ground, but I could have done.'

And he says he received a delegation of local people thanking him for targeting the insurgents and not punishing the whole population."
All in all, the article is a bit weak (originally broadcast on radio) and ends on a sentimental note (with mention of Sept. 11). Still, it supports the basic premise that American mistakes in the war did, in fact, create more problems. Whether it created more problems than it is solving.... well, you all know where I stand on that issue.

'Nuff Said

Originally uploaded by ccmoira.

Irrational Activities

So the PIPA poll just confirms what we in the reality-based community knew all along.

Don't hate the Bush-people. They know not what they do.

"Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, 'One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree.' Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.

Steven Kull adds, 'Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters.' Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, 'To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq.'"

Toadies of the People

Nice little parody using that wolf ad.
I want to see the media pick up this blog chatter and say, "The Republican's new ad, using wolves to represent terrorists, is being derided as laughable by many on the left." This would be in the vein of creating a story out of nothing. But, of course, that kind of thing never seems to go to the Democrats.

Meanwhile, I was happy to see Marion Barry on the news tonight. He was almost unintelligible in an interview on D.C. News 8.
I found a recent article about Barry that discusses why he was elected to City Council for ward 8, even with his tumultuous past.

"These [scandals] don't come up because Barry's appeal is emotional and specifically designed to override logic.In this regard, Barry is one in a longstanding tradition of American politicians who used images to auger - and even supplant - ideas. . .
'That's why most leaders 'have no personal values,' says psychohistorian Lloyd deMause. 'They just follow whatever irrational wishes we want to pour in them. So you'll get a wide range of personalities who will become these delegates or toadies of the people when the country is in the mood for irrational activities.'"

"Psychohistorian"-? I didn't realize there was such a thing. So, our country is just suffering from some kind of mood swing lately? (Bush and freedom do go together like pickles and ice cream).

Here's some wisdom from Barry:
"I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man." ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough . . .")

"If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate." (potential Bush version- "If you take out the killings, Iraq is a success")

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fairness Doctrine: Equal Time to Truth and Lies

As usual The Daily Howler has done a good job of picking apart the media's inanity.

"Is it normal journalistic practice to do what [Jodi] Wilgoren does—to repeat a factually false bit of mockery by a candidate (Cheney) before mentioning, in passing, that the statement is false? Wilgoren devotes a full paragraph to Cheney’s mocking statement, then spends only half a sentence noting that his statement was bogus—invented, false, made up. Meanwhile, what turns Dana Reeve’s appearance into just “another photo-op?” Surely, everyone understands what that phrase connotes. But Reeve endorsed Kerry for a perfectly valid reason—so what led Wilgoren to pre-trash her appearance? And do we ever see such groaning work anywhere else but the Times?"
This is one reason why it amuses and frustrates me when The New York Times is attacked by people (like Mark Hyman) as an example of liberal media. If this is the best liberals can do, then the Republicans should keep their mouths shut and let liberals shoot themselves in the foot.

I wouldn't be as bothered by this if it was also prevalent in television news. The standard for balance - the standard for what is News - is so low on both cable and network news shows that labels of "conservative" or "liberal" should simply be replaced with "lazy" or "irresponsible."

This type of dubious news is dealt with in the recent Harper's piece Our Friend the Smear: Notes on the origin of specious.
I believe that the conservatives can manipulate the media so well, not because it has some kind of corporate control - though this is certainly a reasonable idea - but because The Media is lazy and Republicans produce better talking points (black-and-white, no nuance, etc.).
"Once a smear has been accepted into the ecosystem, journalists can simply report on the dispute; e.g., the ad was a 'hot potato,' 'very controversial.' This approach allows the smear to grow quickly: if the story is the controversy, then reporters must adopt a mechanical evenhandedness, by which lies and truth are granted equal time.
. . .
Once a smear has survived a few weeks, it can begin to subsist as the basis for itself. The classic indication that a smear has reached this stage is when a candidate is 'dogged by a story that will not go away.'"
The example used in this article is the SBVFT ad campaign. But the same formula can be applied to smaller "news" stories, which are given credence simply because someone (Fox news anchors? NY Times reporters?) reported them somewhere (Fox News Channel? NY Times?).

I am trying not to believe that "victory on Nov. 2 will almost certainly belong to the side that propagates the most effective smear."

I Pity the Fool

Russia has joined the Kyoto treaty train. Too bad the US is still staunchly against it.

"'We do not believe that the Kyoto Protocol is something that is realistic for the United States and we have no intention of signing or ratifying it,' State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said."
. . .
BBC science analyst Tracey Logan notes that many experts believe that Kyoto will be largely ineffective as the world's two biggest emitters, the US and China, will not cut their outputs."
But even if the US did join, they could buy pollution credits from Russia (carbon-trading).

"Others claim that Europeans will choose to buy Russian 'hot air' rather than tackle the tough job of making emissions cuts. But EU countries have agreed to meet more than half of their emissions targets at home. Moreover, it is not in Russia's interest to dump its carbon credits and risk a price collapse. Since credits are 'bankable', Russia will do better to hold on and hope that America will enter the market in future, greatly lifting their value." - The Economist, Oct. 9th-15th
The treaty is not going to be greatly effective, regardless. Still, I agree with The Economist's assessment that "a less aggressive treaty that actually works is surely better than a failed one."

Of course, the main reason the US cannot sign such a treaty is because it could be used to hold the country accountable to set standards.

In an unrelated note - in that BBC page on the What the World Thinks of America - I found the results of a poll on The Greatest American:

Homer Simpson - 47.17%
Abraham Lincoln - 9.67%
Martin Luther King Jr. - 8.54%
Mr. T - 7.83%
Thomas Jefferson - 5.68%
George Washington - 5.12%
Bob Dylan - 4.71%
Benjamin Franklin - 4.10%
Franklin D. Roosevelt - 3.65%
Bill Clinton - 3.53%
37,102 Votes Cast. Results are indicative and
may not reflect public opinion.

Who knew Mr. T was so popular?

"Spooky Puppies"

First saw this on Atrios and those puppies are definitely spooky. View the new Republican "Wolf" ad here.

"Is there an Elmer Fudd hunter in this commercial symbolizing Bush?"- Wolcott

There can also be some obvious "boy who cried wolf" references (or, boy who cried mushroom cloud) - though I imagine the Dems will stay safely away from that.

The new Democratic ad is a decent enough response.

Why I'm (Extremely) Sick of Hitchens

I was reading Christopher Hitchens' article for The Nation, about why he is "slightly" in favor of a Bush Presidency.
The article is singularly empty of good points.
Here are three things that stuck with me...

"You don't like 'smirking'? . . . [What about] the sneers about the astonishing success of our forces in Afghanistan, who are now hypocritically praised by many who opposed their initial deployment?"
Well, from what I remember, most people supported going into Afghanistan. But this shows the basis for Hitchens' position. He sees many liberals as cowards, I suppose, and unrealistic. They deride the war in a reactionary way, he thinks, and refuse to see the true nature of the threat.
Hitchens tries to make reasoned arguments and even qualifies them with words like "slightly". But these arguments fall flat as you realize that, though he brands others as cowards, his position is based in fear. He perceives a certain kind of threat in the Middle East and, for reasons NOT given in the article, thinks that Bush is better equipped to handle that threat.

"In Kabul recently, I interviewed Dr. Masuda Jalal, a brave Afghan physician who was now able to run for the presidency. I asked her about her support for the intervention in Iraq. 'For us,' she said, 'the battle against terrorism and against dictatorship are the same thing.' I dare you to snicker at simple-mindedness like that."
Of course many in Afghanistan support the war. They have good reasons, too. But the reasons why an Afghani or an Iraqi would support the war do not stand as reasons for the US to go to war. This implies the argument that "Well, Saddam was killing his own people." And that argument is a waste of breath. Any time we make an argument for war based on humanitarian reasons it is a waste of breath and tiresome.
Even Jalal qualifies her statement by saying "For us."
This, again, makes me wonder to whom Hitchens is talking. He is fighting a phantom self-righteousness with his own self-righteousness. Maybe this is a result of his own cognitive dissonance.
"The President, notwithstanding his shortcomings of intellect, has been able to say, repeatedly and even repetitively, the essential thing: that we are involved in this war without apology and without remorse."
I am so glad to have a President that can make a declarative statement. Does this make him strong? Does it make Bush stronger that he waltzed into a war without enough armor for the troops, without international help, without an admission that the war would mean nation-building?
Oh but look what Bush has done to keep us safe! - Nothing.
We are fighting the war over there so we don't have to fight it "on our own soil"! - We created the war over there and we will have to fight it on our own soil.

Give me an argument, Hitchens. Give me the other side. So far, you have explained nothing.

Oh, It's Just the Silly Season

Republicans and Democrats on TV feel the need to point out that their opponent is doing this or that for "political reasons" or as a "political maneuver." To hear them say otherwise would be more original. To hear them say their candidate is doing it too would be a miracle.
This is another way in which The Media is letting us down. They keep giving airtime to this meaningless partisan rhetoric and then they act as if they've presented both sides of an issue.
As Mark Hyman said today on MSNBC, this is the "silly season" and everything has a political slant. I think he missed the point. Everything the politicians do has a political slant. The Media should help us escape some of that.
Hyman used that phrase in response to a question about why Sinclair prohibited the broadcasting of that infamous Nightline episode (which no one would have watched anyway) on its stations.
I have to give the MSNBC interviewer some credit for pressing the point that none of the allegations in Stolen Honor were anything new (as Hyman kept insisting). In fact, the movie is based on a book called Stolen Valor by BJ Burkett - who got a nice three minute interview on my Nashville Fox show. Did I mention that is the same channel that airs The Point with Mark Hyman every night?

In the interview, Burkett noted that being a Vietnam Veteran has a negative connotation.
Yes. That is why all the politicians court the veterans. That is why millions visit the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. every year.

(As a side note - I have no desire to get in a long discussion about the Kerry/SBVFT thing. It never goes anywhere.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Where Have You Been, My Blue-Eyed Son?

These quotes came from a debate on America, hosted by BBC:

For those of you that have such strong criticisms of the US, I ask you, have you ever even been to the US? Do you actually know any Americans or have any as friends? People only hate or fear that which they are ignorant about. Krista Little, USA

Krista: considering that 85% of Americans don't even own a passport, perhaps you should be asking the question in reverse? Jan Helens, Belgium

Leave My Groupuscules Alone

"The Republican Party seems to be organised like a blue-chip corporation: directed from the top and tightly disciplined. The Democratic Party is much more of an "adhocracy": a collection of groupuscules that have come together for the single purpose of winning this election.
. . .
The [Republican Party] boasts an elaborate hierarchy of activists - state chairmen, county chairmen, precinct captains, local volunteers - who all have a pre-assigned role in a plan laid down in the Bush-Cheney headquarters... By contrast, the Democrats - ironically, given their opposition to outsourcing - have handed over most of the grunt work of registering and mobilising voters to independent groups such as and America Coming Together.
. . .
The Democrats have been much busier exploiting loopholes in the McCain-Feingold legislation to form a nominally independent organisations, kown as 527s . . .
Mr. Bush is one of the most enthusiastic party-builders to have occupied the White House.
. . .
Meanwhile, the Democrats' party organisation is fraying." - The Economist

This article goes on to discuss the problems facing a Kerry Presidency, including the "civil war between the party's rabid Michael Moore faction and its more sensible Tony Blair wing."

I agree that the Democratic Party tends toward one-issue groups and finds it hard to come together. That is one reason why this election has become so important. If Kerry wins, the Democrats and those "ad-hoc" liberal groups that support them will have pulled off a decent feat of organization and collaboration. The Democrats will face the issue of keeping an energized base (always harder for a party that deals in nuanced ideas). My hope is that groups such as and ACT will benefit from the notoriety gained in the heat of this election and will continue to have power, building voter awareness and improving the voting infrastructure. (This is the optimism part of this blog).

I disagree with the assessment that there is a "civil war." I think that is truer of the Republican Party these days.
I often find Michael Moore annoying but he and his base are hardly "rabid." He is just the liberal version of people like Rush Limbaugh, et al. (I mean this as a reference to his tone, and only slightly in reference to his use of "facts"). This is a vocal part of the Democratic Party, but hardly a dominating or dividing force.

President Bush is not really the party-builder. The GOP has, for the past forty years or so, built up their new people-friendly look and become better at getting people to vote against their own interests. Bush is only a small part of the party-building efforts of this organisation.

In the end, I would much rather have a party that did not control it's base through myopic platitudes. I would much rather have a party that relied on the support of public organizations such as and ACT. The Republican Party's stranglehold on their constituents means that they are never held accountable for what they do.

I think this article, on the whole, misses the point. The Democrats are trying to come together after about forty years of struggling against a Republican Party that has found ways to cloak their true platform. 527s and other groups do not divide the party, they provide ways for the people to be or feel effective. Hopefully this will all prove successful.

Burn It

So here's something from Wolf Blitzer's illustrious CNN site:

"Did distancing Clinton hurt Gore?

'Gore did as well as he did, he carried the popular vote because Clinton's record was so strong. But in the end, voters, after all the trauma of the Clinton years, wanted a change,' says CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider."
Wait, wasn't "all the trauma" caused by Republicans?? I mean, yes, Clinton did what he did; but it got blown all out of proportion (no pun intended).
If the Clinton years were traumatic, what are these years?

I must say, lately I feel as if something was stolen from me.
I have always been very patriotic. I have seen a lot of this country and there is much to love about it. Even our political system has a lot of inherent good.
I am a realist. I know that politicians are what they are, and I know that there are things in the system that can force a man's hand. Still, I was always proud to put my hand over my heart and gaze at the flag.
My father is in the Army, Special Forces, so I have ties to the military culture. I know that one of the purposes of a state is to protect itself (comprising the people and the infrastructure, its present and its future).

I am aware of all of this, and I have never felt so helpless. The flag has no meaning for me anymore (or it has meanings that are painfully conflicted). It hurts even more to see people that shrug all of this off as "just another thing." I try to be reasonable - everything with a grain of salt - but the situation seems more and more dire.

John Kerry will probably not change any of this, but Bush would make it worse.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Enjoy the Draft

Originally uploaded by ccmoira.

I saw this on Pandagon and just couldn't resist.

More Trips Through Un-Reality

Pandagon has addressed the statements by Robertson and the response to those statements.
Jesse responds to Orrin Judd by saying,

"This isn't just moral obliviousness - it's moral cowardice. So long as death and destruction doesn't pass some grossly high threshold, we're exempt from examining the sacrifices involved. In fact, they barely count as sacrifices - unless they serve a motivational purpose towards further sacrifice. It's the same sort of soulless equivalence that, taken a step further, terrorists themselves use to justify mass murder - death and sacrifice in one instance does not equal death and sacrifice in another instance, therefore the former instance is simply devoid of moral value or culpability."

This has been mentioned before and I think it is right on point. What I have often described as moral laziness is part of this "moral cowardice". The human impulse is to ignore such terrible tragedy, especially when it is attacking what we want to believe. The followers of this mindset are also the people that say they prefer Bush's black and white presentation of the world.

And in any talk of casualties, are we including those Iraqis killed? Here is something I found on BBC:
"The survey groups were also asked whether they felt that the American military did enough to avoid civilian casualties during conflicts.

Seventy per cent of the group as a whole thought the US could do more - with the majority in each country bar the United States saying that more could be done, including 73% of respondents in the UK, 74% in France and 57% in Israel.

However 70% of the American respondents said other countries did not appreciate how much America does to avoid civilian casualties."

Maybe 70% of America thinks "surgical strikes" only kill bad people. Reality-based? I think not.

Just the Way It Is

Atrios had this story about Scott McClellan refuting a story told by Pat Robertson. Apparently, Robertson spoke to Bush about the war and warned him about casualties. To which Bush replied, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

"Robertson, in an interview with CNN that aired Tuesday night, said God had told him that the war would be messy and a disaster. When he met with Bush in Nashville before the war Bush did not listen to his advice, Robertson said, and believed Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant who needed to be removed."

So, which God should we listen to?

Robertson went on to say,
"I think God's blessing him, and I think it's one of those things that, even if he stumbles and messes up — and he's had his share of goofs and gaffes — I just think God's blessing is on him," Robertson said. "And you remember, I think the Chinese used to say, you know, it's the blessing of heaven on the emperor. And I think the blessing of heaven is on Bush. It's just the way it is."

Honest to God Penetration

"Mr. Kerry usually gave plenty of details; Mr. Bush, even when talking about Social Security reform ("a vital issue in my second term"), did not really explain his plans."

So even The Economist saw this in the debates. Why can't many Americans? Nevermind.

Also in The Economist:
"Voter registration forms need to be in places where young people are going to see them [like] pornography and cigarettes and condoms - places where they can't miss them." - Jake Gyllenhaal.

Well, that's not a bad idea, but registration doesn't necessarily mean voting. I'm concerned about all of those newly-registered voters actually getting to the polls.
I'm also concerned about the education of voters. What has happened to civics classes in this country? We saw last election that many people did not know about the Electoral College. (Check out this article by a friend of mine about reasons to keep the college). The other day one of my news programs did on-the-street interviews of people about the upcoming election. Several of them could not name the Vice President. *sigh*

When in doubt and frustration, I turn to the endless amusement of falafel. Of course, I'm talking about The Onion's mention of the Bill O'Reilly sex scandal.

What Do You Think?:
"Someone's coming at Bill O'Reilly with lurid public accusations of a heinous personal nature? Wow. Sometimes life can be so... fair."

"No wonder it costs $3.99 a minute to call in to 'The Factor.'"

"He wasn't sexually harassing her. He was just looking out for her, like he's doing for all of us, all the time."



I enjoyed this:

"Good God! What makes it amazing is the way these people discuss this conduct right out in public! We don’t make a point of collecting these items; for example, we didn’t bother discussing that McCain birthday party which compromised member of your “press corps” attended during the GOP convention (more below). But people like Koppel are so blatant about their conflicts that they do become a bit hard to ignore. Examples? Over the course of the past few years, we’ve discussed Bob Schieffer playing golf with George Bush; Gwen Ifill giving home-cooked meals to Condi Rice; and Tim Russert off at Don Rumsfeld’s Christmas party, loudly telling all in attendance about his dreams of the previous night (links below). All of these people then go on the air and pretend to “cover” the people they pal with. Are you really surprised when a flunkee like Ifill goes on the air and rolls over for Condi? Or when all the rest of her compromised cohort pretend that the session was boffo?" - The Daily Howler

If Cheney and Bush Say Trick or Treat... has a good article about the poll problem that many of us are suffering with.
Their list of important poll-reading advice:
Pick your pollsters based on past performance
Watch registered -- not likely -- voters

Forget comparative polls -- watch Bush's numbers
Forget the national polls; focus on the Electoral College

"There are other ways to look at this thing -- futures trading, first-wife cookie contests, a geography-based test that compares the candidates' names and the names of cities and towns in America. But if you're grasping for those kinds of straws, maybe it would be better to take a break from the whole thing now. In just two weeks, Tim Russert will be on TV with his handheld white board, moving states from red to blue and back again. All will be known then. Or maybe not."
There is also that story I've gotten about Halloween masks calling the election.

Essexville resident and Camile's shopper Marilyn Merrifield said anyone willing to buy a vinyl mask of a politician definitely would have to support that particular candidate.

"I can honestly say I wouldn't spend $20 on the mask of someone I didn't like or didn't respect," she said.

"I think people actually pick the mask of their favorite. They really do," she said. "Basically, I don't think anyone would want to wear the mask of something they're not for, especially politically."

Merrifield, a Bush supporter, said she couldn't believe how closely most of the masks resembled the figures they were modeled after.

"That's perfect. That is perfect," she said while looking at the likeness of Cheney. "I noticed his first. It stuck out more than anybody's."

Well, yes, Cheney would scare anyone. And, really, wouldn't Bush be the funnier mask? Wouldn't you be more likely to get the mask of someone you thought was ridiculous? I guess it just figures that this woman is a Bush supporter.

"Taking a step closer to the devil"

BBC has this cool thing to help people learn more about the election.

Unrelated issue - read this stuff from Ann Coulter's book, placed in (thankfully) edited form on Media Matters for America.

Today, when I opened my Nov. issue of Harper's, I found an ad for conservative publications stuck inside. It was titled Writers You Respect - or some such drivel. This was annoying for two reasons. One - Coulter's face was on the ad (not what I needed to see, reading my liberal publication). Two - the gluey thing sticking the ad to the page left a greasy smear.

... the Trouble I've Seen

Rep. Anne M. Northup, KY (R) received $32,000 from Tom DeLay's PAC. This is one of the biggest contributions given to anyone.

"Prosecution documents say Mr. DeLay's PAC raised corporate contributions that were illegal under state law and laundered the money through other groups, including the Republican National Committee, to state candidates. Those indicted in Texas include Mr. DeLay's top political aide and two key fund-raisers.

So it stretches credulity to maintain, as Mr. Delay does, that even though he was actively involved in raising money for his Texas group, making fund-raising appearances, and discussing its strategy and effectiveness in supporting Texas races, he was largely in the dark about its day-to-day operations."

Why does it always seem like no one knows what's going on when they're in charge?

Keyes Is Not Jesus

Alan Keyes is patently ridiculous. Forget that he is running in a state he never lived in, after he criticized Hilary Clinton for something similar (for kicks, read this Republican article by Jan Ireland - "Alan Keyes that is the embodiment of the hope of Martin Luther King, Jr."). Forget that he called Mary Cheney and those like her "selfish hedonists" (he has a gay daughter - shhhh).

Every time this man opens his mouth some new ridiculous words fall out. Unfortunately, his words often echo Bush & Co. even in their extremism.
Today on the news (ABC affiliate in Chicago) I saw Keyes giving speech in a church, presumably to an elderly crowd. Someone asks him a question on the carpetbagging issue and he says (paraphrased) - "If Jesus came to Illinois to run for the Senate you wouldn't accuse him of being from out of state." People got up and clapped, but not anyone in the front five or six pews. And most of the people that got up to clap were young. The reporter noted that this might suggest the speech was stacked with people from the campaign.
The story went on to cover Barack Obama at a retirement center.
Later, in a statement that was probably too political, the reporter noted that Keyes is not Jesus.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Polemic, Puerile, and Malignant

The NYNewsday site has expanded the story I linked in the last post.
The new Sinclair broadcast will be called "A POW Story: Politics, Pressure, and the Media." It will incorporate part of the John Kerry slander story, but will mainly focus on the "role of the media in filtering the information contained in these documentaries, allegations of media bias by media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news and the attempts by candidates and other organizations to influence media coverage."

Presumably by those "media organizations that ignore or filter legitimate news" they mean everyone but themselves. So this will be a show in which SBC can pat themselves on the back for good work and then lament the fact that they have to answer for what they broadcast.

In a lame attempt to appear fair the company has spoken to the Kerry campaign.
"Sinclair has left the invitation open and will make every effort to accommodate [Sen. Kerry] up to the air date for the program should he become willing to present his viewpoint for Sinclair's audience," the company said.

David Smith, CEO of Sinclair, said, "The experience of preparing to air this news special has been trying for many of those involved. The company and many of its executives have endured personal attacks of the vilest nature, as well as calls on our advertisers and our viewers to boycott our stations and on our shareholders to sell their stock."

Awww, poor baby.
While I do not support any personal attacks that may have been directed toward SBC (they are pointless and detrimental), I hardly feel sorry for any suffering they feel from such attacks as it is the same thing they are supporting against Kerry.

Meanwhile, this would have been a good idea:
"Mother Jones Magazine offered Sinclair a half-hour video of four prominent conservative Republicans - John Dean, Russell Train, Peter Peterson and Clyde Prestowitz - condemning the Bush administration."

"Sniff His Throne"

The voter fraud is ridiculous.

And anyone who waves the American flag so goddamn proudly on their shirts, bumper stickers, yards, hearts, minds, Bush-supporter cards should realize what they are so proud of involves the right to protest. One caller on Randi Rhodes' show today mentioned that she and her friend were questioned by security at a Bush rally they were trying to attend because they were "20-somethings." According to the caller, they were told by the Secret Service agent that to protest at a Presidential rally was a felony.

I was watching the British House of Commons on C-span the other day and longed for a government where leaders would be asked pointed questions. Can you imagine Bush officials being put in a room with dozens of angry delegates who can shout questions at them. And that those officials would lose faith if they did not answer every question, acknowledge every charge?

The media could do this job better. It has the facts at its command and can force those facts into public view, if they so chose.
As Jon Stewart suggested on Crossfire (view on iFilm) the media has abandoned the people. They continue to pander to the lowest common denominator and the bar gets lower and lower.

As I listen to Rhodes on Air America Radio I hear that SBC has said it will not air the entire Stolen Honor special. I am searching in vain for more news of this.

Now check this out. Is this "POW Story" the same as "Stolen Honor"? I would assume not.
And, in other good news, SBC is being sued...

"A veteran shown in a new film critical of Senator John Kerry's anti-Vietnam War activism is suing the producer of the movie, saying it libels him by deceptively editing his statements."

It's almost unbelievable, unless you live in reality.

Hoist the Black Flag

Here is the rub. Everything I write on here has probably been said better somewhere else.
That said, I am interested to catalogue my observations on the media in this blog. I have a job where I watch ten to twelve hours of TV news per night. This is news from national stations (ABC, NBC, Fox News Channel) and their local affiliates.

I am glad to see SBC and Mark Hyman get negative attention. Hyman is, unfortunately, a familiar face to me. Sinclair Broadcasting forces his editorial pieces on their stations, including the Nashville station I have to watch every night.
The idea that John Kerry somehow prolonged the Vietnam war with his statements and actions is classic Hyman logic. Now I realize that this thinking pervades the SBC executive community (clearly not reality-based).

Here is an interview I first saw on Atrios today:
HEMMER: Democrats also crying foul over the decision by Sinclair Broadcasting over a documentary attacking John Kerry on its stations just before the election. Question this morning: Is this news, or is it just propaganda?Mark Hyman is the vice president for corporate relations for the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, and he is my guest now. And Mark, welcome. Good morning to you.
MARK HYMAN, SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP: Good morning, Bill. Thank you very much.
HEMMER: What's the motivation behind this airing now?
HYMAN: Well, this is definitely a newsworthy event. These Vietnam prisoners of war had suffered horrific abuse and unspeakable torture for many years. And they -- most of them maintained silence for 31 years and felt a need to respond to claims made by John Kerry.
They have only recently come forward and, as you may know, they've approached the broadcast networks who all said, "We're not interested in speaking to you folks." Nobody has earned a right to speak on the Vietnam experience more so than these men. There are a pair of Medal of Honor winners in this particular group. So, these folks have some standing.
Now, our goal here is to get John Kerry to sit down and talk with these guys, get a chance to tell them why he branded them as war criminals, why he accused them of committing wartime atrocities. These are questions...
No exclamation of surprise is necessary here. This is par for the course. Hyman is also one of those guys who insists that liberals (including everyone at, New York Times newspapers, etc.) hate soldiers.
And, guess what? The Washington Bureau Chief for Sinclair Broadcasting, Jon Leiberman, was fired for disagreeing with the decision to air the movie.
"They're using the news to drive their political agenda," Leiberman said. "I don't think it served the public trust."
And what did Sinclair say? "We are disappointed that Jon's political views caused him to violate company policy and speak to the press about company business."
Company business - right. But they're making it our business by foisting it on the public before the election.

I've seen Leiberman before. They sent him to cover Iraq at one point. He would share the "positive news" coming out of that country. He would interview soldiers complaining about the negative press about the war. I guess everyone has their limits.

"Tentacles of Rage"

Why am I just getting the Sept. Harper's Magazine now in Oct.?
This is upsetting as it puts me far behind in my reading. Tentacles of Rage by Lewis Lapham had me all a-flutter and now I see it's old news.
In the newest Weekly Review on "Poland said that it will begin reducing its forces in Iraq next year. [New York Times] Israel pulled back from its latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, and the [New York Times] University of Haifa began offering a master's degree in disaster management. [Jerusalem Post] President Bush sent Ramadan greetings to Muslims in America and around the globe. [Washington Times] Saddam Hussein underwent a hernia operation. [Agence France-Presse] Doc Holliday got a new tombstone. . .
A senator from Kentucky apologized for saying that his Democratic opponent looks like one of Saddam Hussein's sons."

That last issue was dealt with well in a article. "[Sen. Jim] Bunning at first denied in April that he had said at a private Republican Party event that the dark-complexioned Mongiardo looked like one of Saddam Hussein's sons and 'even dresses like them, too.' He admitted making what at best was a bad joke, at worst an ethnic slur, only after realizing it had been videotaped."
And..."Then Bunning's security detail became a campaign issue when the Paducah Sun, citing local police sources, said in August that the senator was concerned about the possibility of an al-Qaida attack. Bunning warned ominously in an interview with a Paducah television station: 'There may be strangers among us.' When pressed, the Bunning campaign said it had requested extra security for Bunning upon the advice of the Senate Sergeant at Arms Office. It turned out, though, that the sergeant at arms had simply suggested that senators in general remain alert. There had been no specific threat against Bunning."

So Bunning and George Bush are going crazy? Maybe it's all the crap in that D.C. water. Then again, they probably don't drink tapwater (think George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove).
You know it's bad when North Korea calls you crazy, and that was in 2002!

Our Reality Based Community

This is the NY Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind that has been making the rounds.

Excerpt: "The Delaware senator [Joe Biden] was, in fact, hearing what Bush's top deputies -- from cabinet members like Paul O'Neill, Christine Todd Whitman and Colin Powell to generals fighting in Iraq -- have been told for years when they requested explanations for many of the president's decisions, policies that often seemed to collide with accepted facts. The president would say that he relied on his ''gut'' or his 'instinct' to guide the ship of state, and then he 'prayed over it.' The old pro Bartlett, a deliberative, fact-based wonk, is finally hearing a tune that has been hummed quietly by evangelicals (so as not to trouble the secular) for years as they gazed upon President George W. Bush. This evangelical group -- the core of the energetic 'base' that may well usher Bush to victory -- believes that their leader is a messenger from God. And in the first presidential debate, many Americans heard the discursive John Kerry succinctly raise, for the first time, the issue of Bush's certainty -- the issue being, as Kerry put it, that 'you can be certain and be wrong.'
. . . (edit) . . .
[A Bush] aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'
. . . (edit) . . .
And for those who don't get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush, who now runs his own consulting firm and helps the president. He started by challenging me. ''You think he's an idiot, don't you?'' I said, no, I didn't. ''No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don't care. You see, you're outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don't read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it's good for us. Because you know what those folks don't like? They don't like you!'' In this instance, the final ''you,'' of course, meant the entire reality-based community.. . . "

Please take the time to read the entire article.
Then read THIS article from Killing the Buddha.
And then... read THIS from Jeffrey Sharlet on
Someone on Brad Plumer's blog noted that "We're much further down the path to theocracy than a lot of folks realize" and this is probably true. I have read articles about Europe's view of the treatment of religion in this country. Many believe it is odd and excessive. For more information on views of the US from around the world, check out this useful page from the BBC.

A Beginning

This is the beginning. Hopefully it will continue with some success. But what is success? I don't know. Will my political ferver wane after the election? Doubtful. Even if there is not one candidate to pick on I can always criticize the media.