Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I've moved!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Quote of the Day

On January 18, 1915, six months into the First World War, as all Europe was convulsed by killing and dying, Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal, “The future is dark, which is on the whole, the best thing the future can be, I think.” Dark, she seems to be saying, as in inscrutable, not as in terrible. We often mistake one for the other. Or we transform the future’s unknowability into something certain, the fulfillment of all our dread, the place beyond which there is no way forward. But again and again, far stranger things happened than the end of the world.

-Rebecca Solnit in her book Hope in the Dark. I may disagree with aspects of her ideology, but she is inspiring nevertheless. The basic point of her book--we have come so far, and so many times, progressives have found what seems like the end of the road, their direst hour, until reality intervenes. Then strange things happen.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Why Not to Move to Canada

I usually didn't read the Daily Kos during the election. I usually avoid reading anything that I see as too partisan in the direction in which I am more naturally inclined. I feel it creates an insularity that distorts one's view of reality, and pushes one away from understanding the mainstream. I read it, but I avoided reading almost as much--lest I become too sure that Kerry would win or begin to hate Bush too much. I thought the site focused too much on fear of four more years of Bush than on the hope in four years of Kerry.

But now that the election has been lost, hope is the dominant emotion. Progressives the country over were dealt a blow when they motivated their base and still lost. Yet we regroup--nowhere is that more evident than at the Daily Kos. A recent post by DHinMI is the most inspiring thing since John Edwards' concession speech. Progressives aren't giving up--they are not handing this country over to the bare majority that elected Bush. The money quote:
We must remember that this election was, once again, excruciatingly close. For the first time in nearly 200 years, the United States was attacked on the North American continent, and the presiding President squandered 80% approval ratings for his initial response to that attack and had to wait until the morning after the election to find out that the most votes ever cast against an incumbent President were, barely, not enough to drive him from the White House. . .We must remember that even though a narrow majority of voters chose Bush over Kerry, it does not follow that a majority want the kind of nation and government that Bush and his minions surely hope to create. Then, we must stand firm and hold our ground.
There is much to hope for in America. We must keep believing, keep up the fight.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

...

Well, I'm still shocked, all these hours later. Four more years, huh?

I hope the nation chose wisely, despite how it seems to me at the moment.

John Edwards' speech was magnificent. Cheney's was...I assume, a harbringer of things to come. Bush will continue to govern fromt he right as he has, and push America in that direction; Bush will continue his reckless foreign policy, though perhaps without a new term to run for he might admit a mistake. I wouldn't bet on it. I just don't know.

My thoughts are just beginning to come together. I'll post more later.

An odd side note

Kerry jumped in New Mexico from 20,000 votes and 5% behind with over 95% of precints reporting to within 4,000 votes with 99%. A sneaking suspicion arises that New Mexico may fall to Kerry. Sneak and suspicion being the key words.

Ohio...

It all comes down to this.

Ohio and it's 20 electoral votes. Edwards gave a good speech this morning. Perfect tone--making sure not to act like a loser until all the votes are counted. They still have a shot, if a long one. It depends on how many provisional ballots were cast. And it depends on whether or not most of the ballots were cast because Republicans challenged voters. I would bet if most of the provisional votes were cast under those circumstances, they would go heavily to Kerry--after all, it was a Republican who was trying to disencranchise you.

For all those calling on Kerry to give in tonight--to pull a Nixon, I have two points. First, would anyone expect Bush to pull out under the same circumstances? This doesn't justify anything, but makes it seem more reasonable to those who might instinctively want Bush to win.

Second, there is a fine line Kerry-Edwards will have to walk. They have to try, as best as possible, to get every vote counted, and stick to that. They need to keep talking about democracy at work. And that's what this should be about. Very easily, they could begin to look and act like they were trying to do anything to win. This is the second thing that killed Gore in 2000. (The first being the pre-concession concession.) Kerry needs to get the votes counted, argue for it all based on principle, and not his own interest. He needs to make sure everyone knows this is what he is doing. The first thing many Bush supporters will say is this: "Kerry should concede for the good of the country--we are at war!" This is precisely why Kerry needs to stick to counting votes. It's why we have elections. The stakes on who wins and loses are high. But in the end, we all submit ourselves to our democratic system. We are a nation of laws. We stick to them, even in war, for the good of our country.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I pledge...

Jeff Jarvis trying to bring sanity to the world before the election. All I can say is "Amen."

After the election results are in, I promise to:
-Support the President, even if I didn't vote for him.
-Criticize the President, even if I did vote for him.
-Uphold standards of civilized discourse in blogs and in media while pushing both to be better.
-Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better.

I like the counter-pledge as well:
I hereby pledge that after the election is called, I will run naked through the streets, smeared with war paint, stinking of Jack Daniels and screaming obscenities at my neighbors. I will do this even if my candidate wins because drunken, naked cursing is fun no matter who the president is.

Except I'm partial to rum I think.

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the pointer.

Top Ten Reasons to Vote...

Gore Country...

Or not...

Andrew Sullivan points out this Nashville blogger and Bush voter with some good points. Namely, Bush has not governed like a war president--dividing the country instead of uniting it. At least, that's what I get out of it.

The Election Market

And the Iowa Electronic Markets show...

A very small Bush lead after a massive change in momentum with Bush plunging and Kerry shooting up, as, presumably, people assuming Bush would pull away are now hedging their bets.

Disgusting...

Finally, it behooves you to reflect on the last wills and testaments of the thousands who left you on the 11th as they gestured in despair. They are important testaments, which should be studied and researched.

Among the most important of what I read in them was some prose in their gestures before the collapse, where they say, "How mistaken we were to have allowed the White House to implement its aggressive foreign policies against the weak without supervision." It is as if they were telling you, the people of America, "Hold to account those who have caused us to be killed, and happy is he who learns from others' mistakes," And among that which I read in their gestures is a verse of poetry, "Injustice chases its people, and how unhealthy the bed of tyranny."

-Bin Laden in one of the newly released portions of his video

Notable News

ABC News Undercover...at campaign rallies?

Already, the calls of fraud and voter suppression. Let's hope tomorrow's result is clear enough that this doesn't matter.

Gay Republicans campaigning in Florida? Sorry, they were just pretending to be gay.

And the possible ramifications of Kerry having to resign from the Senate. Could get ugly.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Countdown

Some things just make me feel sick in my stomach. Brought to you by these people...

Over at the New York Times, Safire explains that Bin Laden is so stupid, he thought he could get the people he declared war on to vote for the guy he wants them to...Does it occur to any of these people that Bin Laden was begging America to declare war on him so he could use our war to rally Arabs and Muslims to his cause? We should have, and had to declare and wage war on his organization, but we should also know that was part of his plan.

We're in for a dirty last 36 hours...

Who needs to count?

Since 1936, whenever the Redskins have lost their last home game, the incumbent has lost!

Yea Packers!

Scare Tactics

George W. Bush and the "Politics of Fear"

More from the Daily Star, a Middle Eastern newspaper.

It's useful to see America from another point of view, through the looking glass as it were. It confounds me how someone can appear to be both reasonable and so confused as this man seems to be.

He makes a number of valid points, adjusting for the natural exaggeration an opinion piece has. But then he begins to almost equate prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib with the kidnapping and beheadings. He says numerous times that America is "demonizing" and at war with "global Islam." He acts as if Islamic extremism does not exist, and is not a threat in itself, to his country as well as ours. He explains: "This American failure to acknowledge that the political sources of terrorism lay in America's own behavior rather than in Arab failings was an error even more fundamental than the military switch from Al-Qaeda to Iraq." He explains that civil liberties in America have been "gravely curtailed" by the "Orwellian" Homeland Security Department and the Patriot Act.

The fact is, this man's column is as one-sided a look at the problem of terrorism as is Bush's. Like Bush, he offers real insight into the problem of terrorism. Like Bush, he is not intellectually honest enough to allow himself to be challenged by facts. Unlike Bush, Patrick Seale seems to dance around the border of anti-Semitism; suggesting rather than stating that malicious intents and conspiracies. He ignores facts that Bush has incorporated into his strategy--like the fact that the Al Qaeda was a global force before we invaded Iraq, having already launched attacks at the U.S. all over the Middle East and in America, and having contacts through their camps in terrorist groups around the world.

Surreal Realities

"The bin Laden name has become infamous, but one family member is trying to give it a different odor."

Bin Ladin perfume anyone?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Bin Laden in the Media

Here are a few revealing articles that look into the content of the tape rather than it's effect on the election:

In the Washington Post, an article explaining how the tape seems to be an effort to bolster Bin Laden's image in the Muslim world.

Also in the Washington Post, a strong editorial denouncing Bin Laden: "To justify his murder of thousands of Americans on Sept. 11, 2001 -- a crime for which he now openly takes responsibility -- he cites not his erstwhile platform for Islamic dictatorship in the Middle East but -- improbably -- Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Something is clearly troubling Osama bin Laden..."

In The Daily Star of Lebanon, a blistering attack on Bin Laden, decried as an "an individual defunct of a moral compass" and calling for a "fatwa branding him a bigot and a heretic by Muslim clerics the world over."

Somewhere, though I can't figure out where, I also read about the "nightmare scenario" this tape might signify--that Bin Laden is now attempting to create a political wing of Al Qaeda, as the IRA, PLO, and many other terrorist groups have.

Taking Bin Laden Seriously (Part II)

Let me be clear: I think the reasons for rejecting Bin Laden’s deal are correct. A deal with the devil to bring about peace is worse than making war. The Munich analogy applies here. Bin Laden may not be the devil, but his deal is hardly convincing. Next thing you know, he’ll be asking for Spain back. Even if we were to take this deal (which though Bin Laden implies, he never suggests) what would become of the Middle East? Would it not become a dangerous breeding ground for Wahhabist Islam and terrorists? If Bin Laden and those of his religious ilk view Christians and Jews and Shiite Muslims as polytheists who need to be ruled by a Muslim caliphate, then U. S. withdrawal from the region would aid him in his radical agenda and in the long run hurt the U. S.

All of this is fairly obvious based on a knowledge of Bin Laden’s extremist point of view. But someone who merely rejects Bin Laden and his fellow terrorists as evil may come to the correct view on how to win the war against these terrorists, but not on how to prevent more terrorism. This is the problem with the simplistic tone of the media and politicians regarding terrorism.

If you see your enemy as evil, then it becomes unconceivable for anyone to defend or sympathize with them, unless they too are evil. Yet one of our main tasks in winning this “War on Terror” is to separate the many Muslims who sympathize with Bin Laden and his cause to some extent from the extremists who actively support him. We cannot do this if we condemn them all as evil. We cannot do this if we do not understand Bin Laden as he sees himself. The picture painted by the President, Senator Kerry, and most news media is of a man who, waking up in his cave, thinks, “How can I attack freedom today?” Even accounting for the simplification that is necessary for politics in our sound bite age, this is overly simplistic. And if such thinking really guides our actions, then it is dangerous. The attacks on September 11th were evil, but classifying them and their perpetrators as such without understanding leaves us vulnerable. We must understand what drove them to take their own lives in acts of what can only be understood as nihilistic violence. Otherwise, we risk being drawn into a war against all evil, as some Bush supporters have suggested. (See Sean Hannity’s latest book.) Yet, can we really drive evil from Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Iran, Sudan, and every other country that we consider evil? The War on Terror, as described by many Bush supporters is more aptly named the War on Evil.

Which brings me to why I think Bush and company were so focused on Iraq after and on 9/11. They saw Saddam as the most evil guy out there. He was in the right part of the world. Bin Laden was evil. Saddam was evil. They live in the same neighborhood; therefore, they must be friends. Yet this ignores the differences between the two men—that one was a religious fanatic and the other a secular despot, and the evidence that they had not collaborated, at least significantly. The war against Saddam cannot be understood as a primary part of the War on Terror against America. It can be understood as an attempt to remake the region to undermine the wellsprings of terror, but this is a risky proposition, and one in which we now have no choice but to succeed at.

Rejecting Bin Laden and any deal he may offer is the only moral choice we can make as a nation. The difficulty is in ensuring that we still continue to question our underlying assumptions continually, to not fall into the trap of assuming we know Bin Laden or the solution to terrorism. To allow ourselves to be challenged by events, speeches, people; this is the difference between faith and stupidity. A man of faith makes the decision to believe a thousand times a day. A stupid man makes his decision once.

Taking Bin Laden Seriously (Part I)

One thing that boggles the mind is the narrowness of the media’s focus in regards to terrorism. Certain facts are at the basis of all political dialogue and news coverage of terrorists. First, is that they are inherently evil. Second, is that they hate us for who we are, not what we do. Third, is that they are unreasonable and will not respond to anything other than force. While my research in the matter (limited as it is to sources available to the public) and my belief structure supports these statements conditionally, accepting them is not as obvious as media coverage would suggest.

The forced blindness of the media is apparent in how Bin Laden’s latest message was covered, as well as how each campaign responded to it. Bin Laden’s tone in the video was conciliatory and reasonable. When this fact was acknowledged in articles, it was quickly struck down as false, never allowing the reader to be confused for a moment. The headlines screamed that Bin Laden was threatening America; the campaigns responded as if Bin Laden was threatening attacks on them personally (as one report claims the unaired portions did.) Little was made of the fact that Bin Laden alludes to a proposal in the video: that if America withdrew from the Middle East, he would not attack America again as he has not attacked Sweden.

If Bin Laden’s proposal was genuine, it would directly contradict how Bush had described him. Bush said that Bin Laden and the terrorists hated freedom, democracy, and America—they hated us. Bin Laden comes out and says, first, that he does not hate freedom. Then he justifies his actions as exacting retribution for a bombing in Lebanon in 1982 and claims he will stop attacking America if we leaves the Middle East. No one makes a big deal out of the fact that Bin Laden explained one rationale for his actions while Bush attributed an entirely different one. Moreover, few mainstream media voices have pointed out that Bin Laden has consistently explained his actions in terms of history, rather than in terms of hating freedom and the American way. The author of Imperial Hubris, a CIA analyst who has studied Bin Laden for over a decade, thought that Bush’s description of Bin Laden and the terrorists was dangerous drivel, yet his book got little play beyond a vague hint that it attacked Bush.

Thus far, I have seen no one seriously look at Bin Laden’s proposal, to ask if it was worth American withdrawal from this far-off part of the world. If the price of staying in the Middle East was not knowing we were safe, would it be worth it? What if the price were a mushroom cloud in place of an American city? What price are Americans willing to pay? A thousand soldiers? A hundred thousand civilians?

Mosh for the Future

An insightful look at Eminem's "Mosh" video on Slate.

The Legitimacy of a Stolen Election

It's refreshing to hear friends of mine who are working for the Kerry campaign, newspaper columnists, and other injecting a bit of perspective into the mix. Yes, this may be the most important election of our lifetimes. Yes, it's the course of American history may be changed by this election. Yes, there are significant differences between the approaches and policies of the two candidates. Yes, America is polarized as it has rarely been. Yes. Yes.

But you know, America has weathered worse. Even if Republicans steal enough votes in Florida or Ohio to win the election, it's not the end of the world. If it is proved that they stole votes, or engaged in a deliberate strategy to undermine democracy, then there must be reprecussions. But not revolution. Either way, we know that about half the country voted for each guy. If one trusts at all in democracy (and extremists of both sides generally do not) then you have to accept the wisdom of the masses, of the combination of plumbers and journalists, workers for Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs, of all America's various classes, factions, races, ethnicities, regions, and parties. To trust in that mix is part of what it means to be American. To trust that we won't go all wrong.

In the words of America's greatest President, Republican Abraham Lincoln, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Although some on the left cannot see it at all, many people see something positive in Dubya. If those people prevail, Bush might take America down the wrong road, and those who disagree should do all they can to oppose what they see as wrong. But at the same time, far in the back of their minds, they should remember--even if someone's election is clouded by the taint of fraud, neither candidate would have been in the position to win by fraud if it wasn't for substantial support across America. And what does America stand for if not democracy? There's always next year (or 2008.)

The Radical Left

Of course, that may begin to change come Election Day.

I do not feel the Republicans will have trouble coming to terms with Kerry as President. They may not like him, and they will attack him every chance they get, and try to hang him for the problems Bush passed down to him, but they will accept him.

However, if there is another close election, with Democrats crying fraud and Bush coming out on top...there will likely be a split in the Democratic party, between those who, with a heavy heart, accept the final tally, and those who seek different avenues for change, who refuse to accept the legitimacy of the President. The question no one can answer right now is how large each contingent might be. But looking at the large number of people who have invested and believed their chants: Bush is a war criminal; blood for oil; Bush wants Armageddon; Bush knew about 9/11; Bush is a puppet president. In the end, all these chants point to one fact: Bush is evil. Who can tolerate an evil man leading their country? In a democracy we put the matter to a vote--and if those who believe all the hype about Bush now come to think that he will not let go of power, that he will steal another election...They will become radicalized.

Revolution or Bust?

Listening to much of the political dialogue leading up to this election, most alien observers would be led to assume that no matter who won, their would be a revolution of sorts. The rhetoric especially by liberals has suggested that if Bush were to win again, there would only be two acceptable alternatives: moving to Canada or seeking to overthrow the government.

If you listen to those who are most angry at Bush, you come to realize eventually that the charges they routinely throw at the president justify, even necessitate, revolution. Eminem's powerful new video is an example of this. (Not that Eminem is a member of the left by any means.) He suggests that Bush knew of the 9/11 attacks and calls him a "weapon of mass destruction." He repeats the rallying cry of many anti-war protestors saying, "No Blood for Oil." In the end, he calls for the revolution to be brought about on Election Day. It's altogether a stirring package, and one that I'm tempted to say would only be possible in America. A top entertainer attacks those in power, accusing them of treason, ignoring common Americans, and worse; he does this by creating a music video and releases it just before the election so he ends up profiting off it as well; finally, after accusing the powers that be of, among other things, doing nothing to prevent an attack they knew about, he calls for a revolution, calls for people to vote for change. Where else but America would treason by the president be fought only through an election? It's extraordinary. And it's a testament to America's stability that even in circumstances that some on the left consider as dire as these, actual revolution is not considered.

It's all about the Hedgehog...

First off...how does first the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, then the Washington Post, and Washington Times all use the same analogy summarizing the election within 24 hours?

The Dispatch version is then subsequently carried by Wichita Eagle, South Carolina's The State, the Philadelphia Daily News, San Jose Mercury News and the Post's on MSNBC.

How can the same analogy suddenly come to mind to summarize the race? According to a search of GoogleNews, only two writers used this obscure reference (to either the Greek poet Archiolus or an Isaiah Berlin short story, based on the ancient Greek verse) in their entire database. Both did so in the beginning of October. The second was the St. Paul writer for the Pioneer Press Edward Lotterman.

That leaves David Brooks, who mentioned this analogy in two columns in the first week of October comparing Bush and Kerry during the debates. It seems he hit on the perfect analogy to understand and simplify this election. Score one for the Brooks-man...

Notable Columns

From both sides of the aisle come several endorsements or other columns that at this late date try to explain the case for their candidate in reasonable terms. You know where I come down, but here's good arguments on both sides:

Newt Gingrich makes the "last, best case for George W. Bush."

The Economist paints this election as a choice between "The Incompetent and the Incoherent." Their reccomendation: "With a heavy heart, we think American readers should vote for John Kerry on November 2nd."

George F. Will exclaims: "GEORGE! with all thy faults."

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe paints a choice between the "Radical Bush vs. Reactionary Kerry." And comes down for Bush.

Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times comes out for Bush, George H. W. Bush. He concludes: "Yes, next Tuesday, vote forthe real political heir to George H. W. Bush" without naming names. (Apparently it is against the Times' policy to allow columnists to write endorsements of their own.)

Andrew Sullivan gives his endorsement to Kerry, concluding Kerry is the "lesser of two risks" and the "greater of two hopes."

In terms of newspaper endorsements around America, Kerry is soundly beating Bush 186-151. This includes 46 newspapers who have flipped from Bush in 2000 to Kerry in 2004. (Not including 15 that have gone from pro-Bush to neutral.) Bush has had only 6 papers endorse him after endorsing Gore in 2000.

Just What We Need!

The Bush and Kerry camps are sending out thousands of lawyers to battle in polling places across Ohio, Florida, and other swing states.

Michael Moore now is joining the battle! Moore announced that 1,200 cameramen were bringing their video cameras to polling places throughout Florida and Ohio, especially in minority districts, this Tuesday. He explained: "I'm putting those who intend to suppress the vote on notice: Voter intimidation and suppression will not be tolerated."

Quote of the Day

See the world as only an old white man from New England can...and yet I think I agree:

A closing personal thought: Emotions are running high about this presidential choice. Take a moment, before you vote, to remind yourself that this republic has weathered worse storms and, thanks to the Constitution, has never failed to recover its bearings and adhere to its principles. Resolve not to let the defeat of your favorite candidate shatter your faith in America or turn you away from politics. There will be another day. Remember the Red Sox.

-David Broder in the Washinton Post today.