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Saturday, November 29, 2003
An Open Letter to the President of the United States
Dear Mr. President,
Good job. No, really, I mean it. Your Thanksgiving Day visit to Iraq was a good thing--the most Presidential thing you've done since the war began. Your presence there undoubtedly boosted morale, and you at least deigned to set foot in the country you conquered. Does your visit hurt your opponents? Yeah, probably, but that's fine by me. I'm not one who hopes that our nation will be led poorly so my side can win.
So nice work, Mr. President.
Now, here comes the tough part.
You've shown you can be a leader, at least for a few hours. Now, you have to lead. Here are a few suggestions I have to prove that the event in Baghdad was a sign of leadership, not a photo-op.
1. Tell the truth
You flew Air Force One in with lights off. You used elaborate ruses to throw people off the track. The media who traveled with you were sworn to secrecy. Nobody reported anything until you were safely on the way out of Iraq.
Nobody begrudges you this. No matter how I feel about your presidency, I hope you continue to remain safe and healthy.
But all of this kind of proves that Iraq is not the safe, happy land of puppies and kitties that your administration has claimed, does it not? It kind of proves that Iraq remains a dangerous place.
Mr. President, the American people are able to accept the truth on this. If you were willing to stand up and say, "Yes, things in Iraq are bad. Worse than we thought they'd be. But we're adjusting our strategy accordingly, and we know that we can't just duck and run," we'd actually support you more. Admit that the "hey, look, schools!" thing was wrong. Tell the truth on Iraq. (While you're at it, just admit there were no WMDs already. It's obvious, Mr. President.)
2. Don't Duck and Run
This becomes easier if you follow point #1.
Iraq is nowhere near pacified. And nowhere near ready for democracy. And certainly nowhere near ready for us to withdraw our troops.
And yet we're trying--with minimal success, to implement a policy that will allow us to draw down our forces in seven months on the hope that what will follow will work.
Mr. President, being a leader means, at some point, saying damn the upcoming elections. The deaths of American servicemen and women in Iraq is going to hurt you politically. But pulling out of Iraq prematurely risks all sorts of chaos, from a renewal of the Baathist Party to a Shi'a dictatorship to all-out civil war. We must stay the course.
3. Start Listening to People Who Are Not Dick Cheney
Mr. President, your Vice President has a lot of experience. But he is not Siddhartha. The Wisdom of the Ancients does not emanate from his soul. He is just a man, and a fallable one at that. He has been wrong often about Iraq. And people in the State Department have been right, or more right, than you've been led to believe.
Just because someone disagrees with Dick Cheney doesn't make them wrong. Be willing to go outside the box to people who disagree with you. They may just be right.
Mr. President, I don't like you much, and I'm not going to vote for you next fall. But I want you to succeed. I say this and mean it: I'd rather you succeed and win reelection than fail and lose. I hope for this because your success is our success, and I want our nation to be the best it can.
Mr. President, for your sake and ours, be a leader. You proved on Thanksgiving that you have it within you to be. Now, you have to continue to prove it. Please do.
Jeffrey K.C. Fecke
Blog of the Moderate Left
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
And The Silence You Hear....
The Glennonites were spitting tacks when that Democratic memo leaked. So what is the reaction from InstaPundit to the news that it was stolen by Orrin Hatch's aide?
NOT A SINGLE WORD
Remember that next time someone accuses liberals of being "one-sided."
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Those Eeevul Democrats, Leaking Memos and...uh....
Remember Memogate? Remember how it was proof that the Democrats were as bad as the Bush administration? Remember?
Turns out that evil Democratic internal memo that was leaked was, er, kinda stolen by one of Orrin Hatch's aides:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced last night that a committee aide has been suspended after an internal investigation determined that the aide had accessed sensitive Democratic computer files that were leaked to the press.
Since the righties have been screaming about this confidential memo for some time now, it's interesting that it only showed up because it was stolen. As for the content of the memo itself, it's crass and unbecoming. It was also crass and unbecoming when Karl Rove wrote a similar memo before the mid-term elections--arging that the Bushies should run on 9/11.
The memo was crass. But stealing a memo from an internal server is, you know, illegal and stuff.
Your move, GOP.
Gay Marriage Compromise Proposal #132,134
Another good suggestion on a compromise on gay marriage from Jacob Sullum over at Hit and Run:
One possibility, getting government out of the marriage licensing business entirely, is ideologically appealing, but it's not likely to happen anytime soon. A step in that direction, perhaps, would be to change the terminology, so that the arrangement certified by the government would always be called a "civil union," while "marriage" would be defined by each religious community for itself.
Makes sense to me. The state recognizes that, say, my wife and I have a civil union: a secular, legal matter that simply creates a series of contractual obligations between us while entitling us to certain rights. Our marriage was solemnized by the ministers at our church. Thus, Carl and Joe can also get a civil union, giving them the same rights as my wife and I, and can get married in a church, provided that church is willing to marry them. (Actually, I'm a minister in the Universal Life Church [who will, for the record, ordain anybody--online!], so I'm willing to solemnize the marriage of any number and permutation of consenting adults for a nominal fee.)
It takes marriage--"That Sacred Bond Between Man And Woman!"--out of the hands of the state and into the hands of the church. It allows churches to set their own policies on who they'll marry. The Catholics can continue to eschew gays (and, for that matter, people who refuse to promise to raise their children Catholic). The Unitarians can continue to marry gays. And everyone can get on with their lives.
It's simple. It's elegant.
It'll never happen.
Hit Them Back
That's Josh Marshall's advice in his new colum in The Hill:
Democrats are reacting to the RNC ad with a mixture of outrage and poorly concealed fear. They shouldn’t be, because this is a line of attack that a strong, wily Democratic opponent could parry and turn to his advantage. This new line from the president also shows why — in a certain sense — an effective Democratic contender next year will want to — indeed, will have to —run to the president’s right on the all-important issue of terrorism.
The whole thing is worth reading, and echoes my thoughts on the current state of the War on Terra precisely: that Gulf War II: The Vengeance was a major distraction from, not a major victory in, the war against international terrorism. And now we're stuck rebuilding a nation that isn't too happy about us being there, requiring us to maintain a troop presence of over 100,000 to pacify a nation that wasn't a threat to us in the first place.
Meanwhile, the Taliban is resurgent in Africastan, or whatever that country's called. Osama bin Laden is still breathing. (So, for that matter, is Saddam Hussein.) And while there have been no further terror attacks on American soil, thank God, our friends in Turkey can attest that al-Qaieda is not dead yet.
Opposed to your fighting the War on Terror, Mr. President? Not in the slightest. I wish you would start fighting the War on Terror, instead of the War on The Guy Who Tried To Kill Your Dad. But until you do, don't expect me to do cartwheels over your miserable handling of our foreign affairs.
The big "Treason" ad that the GOP has been running has a little problem:
When President Bush laid out the potential threat that unconventional weapons posed in Saddam Hussein's hands last year in his State of the Union address last year, he became tongue-tied at an inopportune moment.
Of course, I'm sure the White House had nothing to do with this ad. Nothing at all.
Well, Congress has passed the prescription drug bill, and I, for one, could give a damn.
In my very first rant on this site, I noted that a major contributing factor in the Democrats' defeat in 2002 was their focus, to the exclusion of all else, on Social Security and Medicare. While the GOP was touting (largely misguided) positions on the War on Terror, the Iraq war, and Education, the Democrats were for giving more money to the richest generation of humans in the history of our species.
This is not to say that poor seniors don't need help paying for prescriptions. But so do poor single mothers, and you don't see anybody coming to their aid. Do seniors as a group need help paying for prescriptions? Maybe, but so do minimum wage workers, the young, the single, the broke. Seniors as a whole have a lot of money. Twentysomethings do not.
By passing this bill, the GOP will get a little political benefit, at least in the short-term, but not much. (Hey, it doesn't take effect until 2006. I doubt many seventy-year-olds will get all misty-eyed for GDub next November, knowing they're one-third of the way to getting some assistance.) The Democrats, however, will get a bigger boost by being forced to actually campaign on issues that matter to people under the age of sixty.
(Yeah, yeah, we'll all be old someday. Guess what? When I'm old, I hope the government is geared to work for my grandchildren, 'cause I'm going to die someday, and I want them to have a good life. I'll worry about taking out the proper insurance to cover my care, thank you very much.)
There's a reason that young people are increasingly conservative, and that reason is that the Democratic party has stopped concerning itself with them. In the quest for short-term victories, the Democrats have risked their long-term efficacy. Let's hope that, with Medicare off the table for a while, the Democrats can get back to identifying what they're for.
I'm sick of the damn lockbox. Give me something more.
Monday, November 24, 2003
The World Trade Center PATH Station has re-opened.
Opii Biggus Schnozolus
That's the Common Hefty-Nosed Penguin, or Opus the new Berke Breathed cartoon.
Daniel Drezner has thoughts on the new strip, and points to this Onion interview:
O: Is the liberal stance of the early strips indicative of your own personal politics?
Ironically, that's why I'm not a (big-L) Libertarian.
This all reminds me of my favorite Bloom County cartoon ever. It was published in 1984, when the Meadow Party was staging their national convention in San Francisco, across the street from the Democrats. (To Portnoy's dismay--after all, there were a lot of them in San Francisco. "Rice-a-Roni?" asked Opus. "Read my lips, boy," replied Portnoy. But I digress.)
Anyhow, the Meadow Party was set to nominate Bill The Cat (the recently undead cat, reanimated by Oliver Wendell Jones from DNA from Bill's tongue) for President and Opus for Veep. A Democratic party delegate, toting a "Mondale" sign wandered in to the Meadow Party's hall, and asked, "Hey, is this the Democratic convention?"
"No," came the reply from Milo Bloom. "It's the Meadow Party."
"Well, who are you running?" the Democrat replied.
"A dead cat."
The Democratic delegate looked back over his shoulder towards the Democratic convention, then continued on into the Meadow Party convention. "What the Hell," he said.
I Like Towlie
Jonah Goldberg is whining that the right has no power. Blah.
But he does at least note that the whole "South Park Republican" thing has been overblown.
You want to get high?
The Joys of Juxtaposition
David Reinhard in the Strib on Sunday:
Any act of Congress that has 157 sections and runs 217 pages no doubt contains something squirrelly tucked therein. But darned if the USA Patriot Act's critics have come up with a credible or coherent beef just yet. Their main argument seems to boil down to this: More than 200 cities have come out against the Patriot Act, and we just know something's wrong with it.
The Guardian, Monday:
American civil liberties groups yesterday denounced the FBI for using new counter-terrorist powers to spy on anti-war demonstrations.
Rall For America
Howard Dean's campaign is trumpeting Ted Rall's endorsement. Folks? I'm a moderate democrat who has been nevertheless intrigued by Dean's candidacy. Though I've leaned Clark so far, I've been on the fence enough that I could see myself caucusing for Dean come Super Tuesday II.
Ted Rall is, at best, an idiot. He's written columns suggesting that we should not support our troops, and written columns that--well, read it yourself and judge. He's the worst kind of slimeball leftist, the kind that cannot acknowledge that there's even the barest chance that his opponents are, you know, human.
The kind that sees our troops as nothing more that numbers on a scoreboard of political momentum.
So congratulations, Dean campaign, you've secured my vote. For Wesley Clark. Thumbs up.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Berkley Breathed is Back, Baby
His new comic, Opus is in the Strib today. Sorry, not online.
I am happy.
Well, So Much For NRO's Fantasies
The second the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued its ruling on gay marriage, the righties immediately began to try to figure out how Massachusetts could avoid doing what the court plainly told them to do. Pass a Constitutional Amendment, they said, as conventional wisdom suggested that everyone opposed gay marriage.
Well, everyone but the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
Massachusetts residents, by a solid margin, said they supported the Supreme Judicial Court's landmark decision legalizing gay marriage, according to a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll.
So not only is this court ruling not likely to be blocked by the people of Massachusetts, but it appears it simply recognizes the will of the poeple in that state.
So...what next, folks?
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Glenn Reynolds, Astroturf Provacteur?
Well, he does write a column for TechCentralStation, and TechCentralStation, we now come to find, is published by the DCI group, the kings of right-wing Astroturf.
Turn Out The Lights
Press the big "Pause" button on international affairs. Cancel the press conferences, reschedule the debates.
Everything political is going to receive about three seconds of coverage for a few days.
Because Michael Jackson is about to be arrested.
Now, Atrios is is pretty annoyed by this--annoyed that the media is about to go wall-to-wall, OJ-style coverage on America's Favorite Freak. He points out--correctly--that soldiers are dying daily in Iraq, that there's a Presidential election coming up, that Bush is in Britain trying to sell Plan #47 for post-war Iraq.
All of this is more important that Michael Jackson's arrest, undoubtedly. But I confess--I am very interested in this story at the moment. More so than Iraq, more so than Bush, more so than even the landmark Massachusetts' Supreme Court ruling of yesterday.
Am I a shallow, weak-willed American who is more interested in celebrity that more important issues? Perhaps I am.
But we all know that the news the last twenty-six months has been relentlessly, oppressively real. And while we can all of us--left and right--point to stories that should have been covered more (say, l'affaire d'Plame or building schools in Iraq), and stories (say, Scott & Laci) that should have been covered not at all, none of us can deny that the big stories of the day (the War on Terror, Gulf War II: The Vengeance) have been covered extensively.
And that is why I'm entertained--yes, damn it, entertained--by this story. The utter meltdown of Michael Jackson as an individual, while not important in the grand scheme of things, is wonderful theatre, and yes, a distraction from the news of the day.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I know a child was allegedly abused in this case. And that is horribly sad.)
Last week, my lovely wife gave me $25 and a dispensation to go to the bookstore for a couple hours, to pick out anything I wanted from the shelves. I went to the Current Events section, and I looked at books from Bushwhacked to When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden to, so help me, Treason. I looked through the books, and I just couldn't stomach reading another polemic telling me why the right is eevul, or the left is eevul.
I bought Bill Bryson's marvelous A Short History of Nearly Everything instead. And reading it has been a joy, because it has nothing at all to do with politics.
I'm not saying that politics are unimportant, or that the debate between left and right in America right now is anything but deadly serious. I am saying that all of us, every so often, need to turn away from the deadly serious and simply enjoy the show once in a while.
So I'm not offended that "Nightline" won't be covering Bush's trip to London tonight. I'm going to enjoy watching Jacko self-destruct some more.
And then, after today, I'll get back to the serious business of expressing my views to a few hundred people a month.
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
What does Josh Marshall mean by this?
Oh Boy ... Something pretty big is coming down the pike tomorrow apparently. The world of Astroturf organizing may be shaken all the way down to its phony-baloney roots.
Come on, Josh, tell us! Did Richard Mellon Scafie get involved in a tawdry homosexual affair with an undocumented Wal-Mart worker? Did George Bush actually pen the phony letters from Iraq? Did Stephen Glass actually tell the truth when he penned "Spring Breakdown" for TNR? (Nah.)
What what what? I can't wait to find out.
A Victory for Human Rights
The lawful union of two homosexuals is almost legal after a 4-3 Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court ruling.
The unofficial synopsis of the ruling (the link is here) is clear:
"Marriage is a vital social institution," wrote Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall for the majority of the Justices. "The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In turn it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations." The question before the court was "whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution," the Commonwealth could deny those protections, benefits, and obligations to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.
The Court ordered the commonwealth's legislature to take up the matter within 180 days.
Responses were swift and as expected. In a statement by George Bush:
Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. Today's decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court violates this important principle. I will work with congressional leaders and others to do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage.
Meanwhile, the usual suspects were panicking:
"In this radical, reckless decision, four political appointees in black robes are attempting to redefine the biological reality that marriage is the union of a man and a woman," said Evelyn Reilly, director of public policy for the Massachusetts Family Institute.
No word from Rick Santorum, but happily, John Derbyshire was spreading the love:
1. If "gay marriage" is legalized, will prisoners be able to marry their cell mates? If not, why not?
First, to Mr. Derbyshire, in response to your inane questions: on question two, I think we all have a pretty good idea on what would constitute the consummation of a gay marriage. I'll give you a hint: it's very similar to what constitutes the consummation of a heterosexual marriage. As to question one, I don't even understand your point. I don't see what compelling reasons a state would have to prevent such a union, and I really don't understand why you care.
Or, to quote Billy Madison: "What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it."
Now, to the main point: this is a good thing. A very good thing. It is not a popular thing, but being good and being popular are not the same.
All of the yammering about how "most Americans" feel about Gay marriage is as meaningless as the yammering about flag burning. These things should not be allowed because they are popular. They should be protected because they are not.
The ability of two people to order their lives together, to take on the legal responsibilites and rights of marriage, is a basic human right. These rights have been abridged, to our nation's shame, for reasons as ludicrous as the race of the two individuals. When black/white marriage was legalized, there was no question that many, many Americans opposed the legalization.
But the courts recognized, rightly, that it is not for the state to ordain who a person may love, and who a person may marry. If the state is to be in the marriage business at all, it is as registrar and enforcer of contract.
Interracial marriage has been legal now for decades, and society has managed to survive.
Now, the courts move to recognize the rights of another minority. Good for them. Whether this decision has legal meaning beyond the borders of Massachusetts is unclear for now. But it was the right decision. And its plain meaning: that all people, whatever their sexual orientation, have rights--that meaning is clear, and true, and right.
The institution of marriage was strengthened today.
God Bless America.
Monday, November 17, 2003
A Noble Thought Experiment
You know, I was just thinking...if a whole bunch of left-wing paramilitary folks stormed the White House and Congress and killed all of the Republicans, that would lead to the Democrats being in power. Hmm...nah, it's probably a bad idea.
Why are you mad at me? I was just, you know, thinking out loud. It's not like I advocated the murder of all Republicans.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Stay The Course, We're On Track, A Thousand Points of Light....
Oh wait, wrong Bush.
Our current President? Not staying the course:
"We want the Iraqis to be more involved in the governance of their country," Mr Bush told reporters a day after meeting with Bremer at the White House to discuss expediting the handover of political power in Iraq.
A few thoughts:
1. Didn't we hand-pick the IGC?
2. Didn't many of our European allies suggest this about six weeks ago?
3. Isn't this a change in policy?
It looks to me like Bush is looking for an exit, which is not what Iraq needs right now. As Josh Marshall (btw, Happy Anniversary, Josh!) notes, a new CIA report shows the situation in Iraq to be very grim indeed, brand-new schools or no brand-new schools. As Marshall says: "What's really troubling about the moves we now seem ready to make is that we're about to launch the wobbly new Iraqi provisional ship of state out into the very same gale force winds that we ourselves have found too difficult to endure." Indeed.
There's a meme that the warbloggers have been trying to get started for a while now. The story is that Democrats want a quick, unilateral pullout from Iraq. That's ridiculous. Democrats would like to be able to hop in a time machine and go back to last fall's vote to authorize force in Iraq, but no such time machine exists.
Today, we're in Iraq, and we have two stark choices. We can either stay until the job is finished--at least until there's a stable government in Iraq, if not true democracy--or we can cut and run. I favor doing the job, despite the high costs so far.
Now, this is not to say that the Bush policy in post-war Iraq has been anything short of a miserable failure. It is clear now that the failure of the Bush administration to secure adequate international support before the war is coming back to bite us. The Iraqi insurgency is attempting to isolate the US, and having some success. If the US had a broad coalition of troops in Iraq from three dozen countries, that would be an impossible task, but as the US currently has troop support from only the UK, Italy, Ukraine, the Netherlands, and Poland, it's not that hard for the insurgents to hit the foreigners. Indeed, there are already calls in Italy to "bring the troops home," and since the Italian troops are only committed through spring, it just may happen.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to refuse to bolster troop strength, primarily because the occupation of Iraq has the US military stretched pretty thin already. And the hand-picked Iraqi Governing Council (a.k.a. Ahmed Chalabi and the Pips) has shown a tremendous ability to travel abroad, make vaguely anti-American statements, dither, and do pretty much everything but lead.
Despite all of this, the US needs to find ways to stay in Iraq, to help pacify the country, and to slowly but surely turn power over to the Iraqis--not to quickly force power onto the IGC in an effort to get out.
The Left Is Eeevul....
Okay, this Ted Rall column is at best misguided, and at worst deeply disturbing. I'm all for trying to get inside the head of our enemy, but this takes things a little farther than that. It's hard to read this column and not get the strong sense that Rall is, indeed, rooting for our soldiers to be killed in Iraq.
He's an idiot. And 99% of us stopped reading Rall after he suggested, pre-war, that we should not support our troops.
Of course, that won't prevent Andrew Sullivan for declaring Rall a spokesman for the Left:
After 9/11, I was roundly criticized for daring to suggest that there were some people in America who wanted the terrorists to win. But if you read Ted Rall and others, there can be no mistake. There is a virulent strain of anti-Americanism in this country. Some, like Rall, are now urging the murder of American troops in defense of Islamist terrorists and the acolytes of one of the most brutal dictators in history. Ann Coulter couldn't invent something this depraved. That's where parts of the left have now come to reside. It's as sad as it is sickening.
There are, of course, crazy leftists who want us to lose, just like there are crazy right-wingers who want us to lose. And that is both sad and sickening. But to pretend that Ted Rall is anything other than a marginal voice is worse than disingenuous.
If You're Losing, Change The Rules....
You're not going to see a more blatant example of this GOP modus operandi than the soon-to-be-infamous Bill Frist Judges Poll.
As noted below, Sen. Frist had up on his site a poll asking respondents "Should the President's nominees to the federal bench be allowed an up or down vote on confirmation as specified in the Constitution?" (Screenshot here) Leave aside that 1) Grammar rules indicate it should be "up-or-down," not "up or down", and 2) The Constitution specifies no such thing. Atrios helpfully linked to Sen. Frist's poll, and lo and behold, 60% of respondents indicated that no, the nominees should not be allowed an up-or-down vote.
Embarrassing. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) even mentioned it during floor debate.
So what do you do if you're the Senate Majority Leader. Simply laugh it off, note it's an internet poll, and note (fairly) that a liberal site was directing respondents there?
No. You flip the question to make it appear that previous "no" votes were "yes" votes and vice versa.
Then, when you suddenly realize that this will turn a meaningless internet poll into a national story, you change the question to something completely nonsensical, like "Should the Senate from exercise [sic] its Constitutional duty to provide the President's judicial nominees with an up or down vote?"
Smooth operation there, Senator. Smooth operation.
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Don't You Hate It....
When you're the Senate Majority Leader, you put up a poll on your site about GOP Whinefest 2003, and 60% of respondents disagree with your position?
Incidentally, Sen. Frist, Presidential nominees are not guaranteed a right to an up or down vote by the Constitution. Article II, Section 2:
He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
Of course, it's not important that the Senate Majority Leader know and understand the Constitution, is it?
Josh Marshall thinks maybe. At the very least, it looks like Praetor Bremer may be about to have his role circumscribed.
Of course, this is his reward for fostering all that wonderful desperation.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Just an oddity: today, as noted, is Veterans' Day. Kos noted it--and then some.
Did Patriots Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan note it?
I don't know what that means, but I note it in passing.
Dulce et Decorum
Kos prints a letter from Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, who gave his life in service to his country on May 1, 2003, when his tank fell into the Euphrates River. The letter was to be delivered to his family should he die in Iraq. It was published today in The New York Times.
President Bush did not attend Pfc. Givens' funeral. Nor the funerals of any of the brave soldiers who have given their lives for our nation in the latest war. There were no pictures of the arrival of Pfc. Givens' flag-shrouded coffin; the plane likely reached our nation in the dark of night.
This is because images of our nation's dead would hurt our President politically.
Mr. President, you are a coward. A craven, spineless wimp who lacks even the courage of your convictions. Today, on Veteran's Day, I challenge you to act like the leader of a nation, to attend one--any--memorial for one of the men and women who have died for your Iraq policy. If the policy is just, you should have no problem doing so, you should have no problem looking in the eyes of their families, and telling them that the cost is high, but the cause was just.
The fact that you have not, Mr. President, tells me everything I need to know about you, your policy, and your Presidency. And it confirms for me that I will never, never, never support you.
Gregg Easterbrook said a stupid thing, and then he apologized; he paid pretty dearly for it so I'd say it's time to move on.
Thankfully, we can move on with Tuesday Morning Quarterback, which has been picked up by FootballOutsiders.com.
He opens this week's column with a tip of the cap to John Gagliardi, head coach of the St. John's Johnnies, a Division III college here in Minnesota. Gagliardi is one of the good guys, a coach who believes that football is somewhat less important than life. He's also won more games--409--than any coach, college or pro, in football history. I'd say congrats, Coach, but Gagliardi doesn't believe in being called "Coach." He prefers John.
In honor of all those who have served and continue to serve our nation, Happy Veteran's Day. Your service and sacrifice are greatly appreciated.
Monday, November 10, 2003
Shut Up, Ralph Nader
Sez Saint Ralph:
Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader called Democrats "chronic whiners" for continuing to accuse him of spoiling the 2000 presidential election for Al Gore.
Hmm. Well, you don't say, Ralph.
I'm sure glad that all got cleared up; it'll be great to see President Gore retroactively installed as President.
Yo, Green Party, peep this: if Ralph Nader hadn't run, there wouldn't have been a need for a recount in Florida, because Gore would've picked up at least 538 net votes from Greenies.
That, Mr. Nader, is why the Democrats will never, never, never forgive you for your 2000 ego trip. I'd like an apology, but I won't hold my breath.
Imminent? What are you talking about? I just said it was going to happen right now....
Andrew Sullivan did a good job pretending that Josh Marshall's contest to find examples of "imminent threat" came up empty. Unfortunately, Andrew managed to essentially concede the point...even if it was inadvertent, as Josh Marshall discovered. Sez Andy:
The point about Saddam is that he was a sworn enemy of the U.S., had been known to develop an arsenal of WMDs, was in a position to arm terrorists in a devastating way, and any president had to weigh the risk of him staying in power in that new climate. The actual threat hangs over us all the time. It is unlike previous threats from foreign powers. It is accountable to no rules and no ethics. We know it will give us no formal warning. But we cannot know it is "imminent". [emphasis added]
However, as Marshall notes:
Webster’s, well-known dictionary manufacturer, defining ‘imminent’ …
To go back to Marshall's wonderful metaphor: Andrew never said that the Bush administration ate cake. He merely said they cut it up and put it in their collective mouth.
The insane Kim duToit rant was worth it, just for this priceless response from Winston Smith. It's long, but so worth the read.
Indeed, Mr. Smith, you've earned a slot in the blogroll. I'm sure you're thrilled.
The most recent Newsweek polls show that Bush is in a statistical dead heat with Dean (Bush 49-45), Clark (Bush 48-45), Lieberman (Bush 48-44), Kerry (Bush 49-45), and Gephardt (Bush 49-44).
Of course, the GOP is crying "Hey! Bush is winning all of those races, so...so...he's better!"
Well, leaving aside the fact that people will usually support the devil they know (Bush) over the guy they've never heard of (the entire Democratic field), let's see what people think of GDub:
"In general, would you like to see George W. Bush reelected to another term as president, or not?"
What's interesting about this is that there's no gender gap. Typically, men are more conservative than women. Here, it's dead-pull even.
Of course, one year from now things could be radically different--either way. But things are not rosy in Midland.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
Happy Birthday To We
The Blog of the Moderate Left is one year old today! And glad tidings went up throughout the land.
What a year it's been. We laughed, we cried, we saw our nation get bogged down in a war that seemed like a good idea at the time. And now we're less than one year away from either getting rid of GDub or being stuck with him for four more years.
I know what result I'm hoping for on my second anniversary.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Fire Terry McAuliffe
I've made no secret of my disdain for Terry McAuliffe. So I'm not exactly treading new ground when I tell you the DNC must find a new chair before the 2004 elections.
Aside from being a FOB, McAuliffe has amassed a spectacular legacy. Under his watch, the Democrats lost the Senate, lost seats in the House, and now have lost the Governor's mansions in Kentucky, California, and Mississippi. Meanwhile, the GOP has shown an ability to nearly match Democratic GOTV efforts--not so much because the Republicans are better than they used to be, but because the Democrats are worse.
Meanwhile, McAuliffe wastes time and energy on securing sufficient numbers of attorneys to contest elections nationwide, which is unimportant if you're consistently losing by four points--and less important if you're winning by four points.
McAuliffe has failed. He passed on New York City as a possible convention site in 2004, leaving the symbolism of a September convention solely to the GOP. Did he pass on New York City for a city in a swing state, like Miami? Or for hostile territory, like Atlanta, where the Democrats might be able to make gains? No, he went to Boston. Now Boston is a lovely city by all accounts, but it's also the capital of the most liberal state in the Union. Hardly the backdrop to set up a general election.
McAuliffe has failed. He needs to be replaced. Now.
Bring 'Em On
Another helicopter downed, six dead. Hooray! Desperation abounds!
Thursday, November 06, 2003
The Worst Thing I've Ever Read
I'm not sure that's an exaggeration. Kim du Toit's insane mutterings are...oh dear, let's just go to the tape:
And finally, our President, who happens to have been a qualified fighter pilot, lands on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit, and is immediately dismissed with words like "swaggering", "macho" and the favorite epithet of Euro girly-men, "cowboy". Of course he was bound to get that reaction -- and most especially from the Press in Europe, because the process of male pussification Over There is almost complete.
Jebus. Where to even begin?
The entire post reads like a cry for help from a man uncomfortable with any sort of societal norm. Arguing that rape is an understandable reaction to growing female power is...what's the word I'm looking for...oh yeah, sick. As is arguing that things started going bad when women got the right to vote.
He evinces insane levels of homophobia--not the watered down, "don't like gay people much" homophobia that GLBT centers on major college campuses like to cite, but the real, serious, "Homos are in my closet and they want to convert me!" kind of homophobia.
He's a hateful, whiny fool. His only valid point is that men are portrayed poorly in commercials, and he undermines that point by arguing that, yeah, men are slobs and what's it to ya?
I'm tempted to simply write off Mr. DuToit: he's obviously endured massive amounts of psychic damage in his life. Only someone who has been hurt repeatedly by women could come up with something so venomous. But I can't let Kim tell me that I'm not a real man.
Kim? Men can care for kids. They can take care of themselves. They can express emotions besides rage.
They can diaper their children and care for them when they're sick and read to them and watch teletubbies. They can cook and clean and sew (although, sadly, I'm not so good at those last two) and they can help with housework. They can actually endure gentle teasing from their spouses without blowing up.
Real men don't rape, Kim. They never would, not out of frustration or anger or bitterness. They don't mind that women are achieving equal status, because real men, Kim, aren't threatened by that. Real men are okay--heck, turned on--by successful, bright, intelligent, capable women.
Yes, there are legitimate issues for men to complain about. Our treatment on television is ridiculous--one cold medication commercial I snarled at recently argued that if mom is sick, dad will send the kids off to school in the dead of winter wearing shorts and miniskirts. Sitcom dads are regularly treated at stuttering buffoons.
But this is a reaction--a natural pendulum overswing--to a time when men were the unquestioned rulers of their own personal fiefdoms. Everyone talks about how men were portrayed in the '50s. Go back and watch an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, where Dick takes Laura to task for opening up a passbook savings account in her own name. Yep, the good old days. And Dick was one of the good guys--he loved his wife, and doted on her. There were plenty of real husbands in the '50s who were able to beat their wives and get away with it.
The overreaction to this concentration of power in the hands of one spouse led to a portrayal of men as slow and stupid. That will change, given time. It's changing now.
But arguing that rape is okay, that Bush landing on the aircraft carrier was "manly," that women shouldn't vote--that's not going to convince anyone that the media is portraying men wrongly. It's going to convince people that you're an idiot. It's convinced me.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Extreme Local News Alert
The ISD 194 (Lakeville/New Market/Elko) levy referenda both passed, 52.9% to 47.1% and 51.8% to 48.2%, respectively.
I voted for both.
Overall, Tuesday was a good day for Minnesota referenda; most of them passed, a nice reversal from two years ago, when 24 of 35 failed. Of course, most people now realize that schools, you know, need money to function--something our fair Governor does not.
Side Note: the opposition to the 194 referenda looked to be a cheap, fly-by-night operation based on their ridiculous, Kinkos-at-three-in-the-morning-black-and-white signs. But what really put me over the top was their rallying cry: "We Already Pay Taxes For Schools!"
Well, no kiddin'. All this time I thought schools were operating through sheer will.
The question, of course, was not whether we were paying any taxes for schools, but whether those taxes were adequate to fund operations adequately. The latter point is debatable, the former, obvious.
Rock Around the Vote Tonight, Gonna Rock Rock Rock 'Til Broad Daylight....
Other than launch Tabatha Soren's career (for precisely eight minutes, before she married Michael Lewis and moved to France), Rock the Vote has been a pretty meaningless excercise. I was among the first youngsters who were told to Rock the Vote--the campaign launched during the 1992 campaign, the first I was able to vote in. We all know why; young people don't vote, they're not engaged, blah, blah, blah.
Of course, young people have never voted, they're never engaged. They then grow up, get families and houses, and start voting. So it has been since the Vote started Rocking.
Rock the Vote, of course, started with MTV, but over the years the franchise has drifted to that arbiter of hip, CNN. Last night, the Democrats rocked out in Boston, kickin' it old school...oh, wait, that's Hip-hop the Vote...uh...rocking righteously (yeah, that's it) in front of a bunch of youngsters.
Surprisingly, the debate was pretty good. There's something about the random question from the audience format that seems to open up debate, even if some of the questions were of the unfortunate "Which candidate would you let hold your hair back when you're puking after a hard night of drinking" ilk.
It's been a long time since I've played the Who's Up, Who's Down, Who's Out game, so here we go....
Clark is slowly but surely developing into a legitimate candidate for the presidency. Gone is the fumbling, stumbling, gaffe-prone General of the early part of the campaign; here is a smoother, polished performer, whose dodge of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" question in last night's debate was a thing of beauty. He's skipping Iowa, but it doesn't matter.
Bad news: he looked like he got his outfit last night from Star Trek Villian Outfitters.
The most authenitc liberal with a chance of winning, Gephardt should benefit from Dean's recent Confederate Flag gaffe--it exposed Dean's inner moderate, which could send some of his greenie supporters searching for a legit lefty.
A warning: Howard Dean has lost my friend Andy.
Andy is a criminal defense lawyer who once worked for Paul Wellstone. He hails from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party. He's a natural Dean supporter. But Dean's arrogance, his temper, and his faux plain folks schtick has worn Andy down to the point where he can't imagine voting for him. The last straw was during last night's debate, when Dean averred that when he was twenty, he was "at a college in New Haven, Connecticut." Hmm...New Haven. Was that New Haven Tech? New Haven State? New Haven Community College?
Oh, wait. That'd be Yale.
Add that to the Confederate Flag flap (just say you don't like the flag, Howard! Don't get mad, don't say you want to be for "poor white folks," just say you don't like the flag!) and you have a politician acting like...well, a politician. As Dean is supposed to be the anti-politician, that can't be good.
Just this side of done. But his answer on Grady Little was hilarious
I just can't imagine this guy getting the nomination. Can you?
Everything about this guy is great, save his poll numbers.
Carol Mosley Braun
Every time she talks, my inner Bill O'Reilly says shut up! shut up! shut up! Sleazebags should not be allowed to run for President.
Very funny. Should have his own talk show or something. Should never be President.
Looks like the love child of Hikaru Sulu and Dobby the Elf. Wants to cut the Pentagon by 15% during time of war. Has plan for free kindergarten for all children...oh wait, we've already got that. Has plan for free college for everyone, also plan for magic time machine.
Power Rankings and Odds
1. Clark (1) 4-1
2. Dean (2) 4-1
3. Gephardt (4) 8-1
4. Kerry (3) 10-1
5. Lieberman (5) 50-1
6. Edwards (6) 100-1
7. Sharpton (9) 100,000-1
8. Braun (7) One Million-1
9. Kucinich (10) One Google-1
Dropped Out: Graham (8)
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
Ann Coulter Action Figure
No, this is not a joke.
[But where's her Adam's Apple? --ed. Back! Back to Kaus' site! -jf]
Oh, the funny:
Push the button on the figure, and you'll hear such "Coulterisms" as:
I'm scared, people. Hold me.
The Bush (ka-)Boom
The right was going berserk the other day, touting the 7.2% annualized growth in the GDP. And as a number, it's a great one--bright and shiny, the best in twenty years. Surely, the chattering classes gloated, surely this will put a dagger through the heart of the Democrats.
All well and good. And hey, we'd all love to see the economy recover.
Unfortunately, for all the good news, there's still no growth in jobs.
Now, we can all get caught up in the minutia of political volleyball, so a few weeks ago I decided to check with a person who is an average voter--my wife.
My wife is a bright, successful attorney who never cared about politics before the one-two punch of meeting me (and listening to me obsess about the South Carolina primary in '00) and seeing the mess that GDub has made of things. She'll watch the news, but not obsessively. She'll read the paper every so often. She votes in the General, but not so much in the primary. For the most part, she's a pretty typical American voter (though, admittedly, slightly to the left of center--though slightly to the right of me).
Anyhoo, I was talking about the Bush recovery, and she made a simple comment: "Well, things don't seem to be getting better. Nobody's getting a better job."
And I realized at that moment that the Bush administration can tout GDP growth and housing starts from now until doomsday. If the jobs don't come around, actual Americans will not believe in a recovery.
This is, of course, common sense. I don't care what company x's balance sheet looks like. I care that they're hiring people, which will pull up wages across the board.
There still is no growth in jobs. And unless job growth starts quickly, all the happy, shiny numbers in the world won't convince the American people there's a recovery afoot.
Atrios and Donal Luskin have buried the hatchet. As a rare example of civility in the blogosphere, this deserves commendation.
Yeah, it went kaboom and I can't get it to look right again. I'm going to switch to a new template in January anyhow, maybe I'll put together a Christmas one until then. Ho, ho, ho.
Wouldn't be an election without polling irregularities.
The Most Important Television Show--Ever
"The Daily Show" has higher ratings in the 18-49 demo than any cable news show, including FOX.
Last night, their graphic for Iraq was "Mess o' Potamia"
I love this country.
So should you, assuming there's an election in your area today.
For the record, I voted for both of Minnesota ISD 194's levy referenda, voting to raise my taxes and yours (if you live in Lakeville, Elko, or New Market) in order to fund schools at an adequate level. Thanks, Gov. Timmy!
Monday, November 03, 2003
Kos is a Daddy!
Congratulations! Kids will alter your entire life irrevocably, but nothing is better.
The Hate America Agenda
Cheri Pierson Yecke doesn't believe in it. Too bad, 'cause you know all us lefties do.
So CBS puts together a Reagan miniseries that is a warts-and-all portrayal of the former President--you know, Yay! He won the Cold War! Boo! He's not very pro-gay! Yay! The economy got better under him! Boo! His wife is kinda nutty!
Sounds about right to me. Reagan was, on balance, a good president. He had some serious issues--the ballooning national debt, Iran/Contra, his radical socal agenda--but the Cold War started to end under his leadership, and he should be remembered as one of the two most important presidents of the twentieth century. (Yes, fellow lefties, I know and agree--I wouldn't have voted for him if he was the only candidate. But to deny Reagan's skill would put me in the same category as those idiot wingers who can't admit that Clinton did anything good in his entire eight years in office.)
Anyhoo, because the CBS movie dares to cast Ronnie as a human being as opposed to, say, Siddhartha, the crazies are doing everything they can to get it pulled.
Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ.
I know, it's a free market system, and nobody's forcing CBS to hack this movie to shreds. But still and all, can't you folks just accept that it's a frickin' movie?
Apparently not. Let the deification of our fortieth president continue unabated.
Bring 'Em On
Huzzah! The enemy is super-desperate!