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 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.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Ohio = Florida Squared?

One of many bad signs. This one sounds just plain stupid.

All Hallow's Eve on the Campaign Trail

Which scion of a so-called noble American family is really related to the famed Transylvanian blood-sucker? Give you a clue. He belonged to an exclusive and secret group called Skull & Bones.

Most normal people dress up for Halloween. Ralph Nader, as well all know, is not normal.

Top Ten Movie Villains? Darth Vader. Hannibal Lector. Sauron. The Evil Witch in Snow White. George W. Bush. What?

The Un-Hinged Right

No I'm not talking about asking supporters at a rally to take a "Bush pledge."

I'm talking about National Review online. That liberals always side with the enemy (even at Scrabble) is a popular line of argument with the Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity wing of the Republican party. This moronic idea fits too neatly in the Manichean universe of the extreme right (as Bush having pre-knowledge of 9/11 fits in with the extreme left.)

This column asks those on the left to "look in the mirror" and see what they have become! It alleges the left has become...Bin Laden! That the Bush-hating fury of liberals has lead them to embrace the terrorist who attacked one of the most liberal cities in the world. Again, I think this is one of those stories that says more about the writer than its' subject. There are lefties who are so un-hinged they think Bush is the Anti-Christ. But that's the radical fringe, those who think Michael Moore is a centrist. Jim Geraghty explains that because Bin Laden (who would reside more easily on the far right than the left) utilizes leftist arguments against Bush, liberals should be ashamed! He compares Bin Laden's tape to Democratic attack ads and Fahrenheit 911. Should the FEC fine the Democrats for all this free media exposure?

Elsewhere on The Corner, Michael Graham explains: "The Election is Official [sic] Over." His main point: "Whatever hope John Kerry had of closing the gap ended when Osama bin Laden became part of the national conversation about this election. As I've said a hundred times Kerry wins 10 states, plus Hawaii (maybe)." How did Osama become part of the "national conversation?" By threatening all Americans? No, again according to Graham, Bin Laden endorsed Kerry. He must have seen the unedited version of the tape 'cause otherwise, its another case of fitting the facts to your ideology.

And anyway, if Bin Laden wanted Kerry to win, he probably would have been smarter to make no comment. From what I've heard of his statement, it doesn't seem that he especially favored either man to become President. The more important goal than electing either Kerry or Bush was that Bin Laden wanted to be heard and claim the results of this election as a victory of sorts no matter who wins.

The Powers That Be

Over at Truth Laid Bear, is it just internet scandal-mongering? Or the long feared October surprise? It sounds ludicrous to me, but to him it "rings true." Perhaps our reaction say more about the reader than Kerry.

Latest news on the Swift Boat Vet's discussion forums: the "powers that be" have squashed the story. Could the Bush campaign be having an attack of conscience? I for one cannot believe a story like this could stay unreported for so long in this blog-driven news cycle. But it's interesting to read how these true believers react.

Look, it's the Bat Signal!

The Batman Syndrome? Sounds about a reasonable reason as any to swing the vote in this crazy election.

Curiouser and Curioser

Is it the full moon? Halloween? The Red Sox? Or this election?

People around the country are acting strangly.

A Georgia man was arrested outside of a polling station after drunkenly yelling while wearing a Bush mask and a Kerry-Edwards t-shirt. Both campaigns quickly came to the man's defense, hoping that they had found that rare species, the even still undecided voter.

Two men were arrested in New York City today for illegally landing a hot air balloon in Central park that read, "Go Kerry." Police investigators believe the message was referring to Presidential hopeful, John.

Meanwhile, several days ago, 58,000 absentee ballots went missing in Florida. In case you were wondering, that's over 100 times the differential the last time around. Katherine Harris was not available for comment as she was busy picking local Democrat Barry Seltzer out of a lineup. Seltzer was arrested for what he called "political expression" and the police labeled "aggravated assault with a deadly weapon", his car.

Meanwhile, professed liberal, Ralph Nader is still running for President drawing earnest crowds of dozens to his box on the streets of Manhattan. He claims four more years of Bush's tax cuts, fiscal irresponsiblity, wars, environmental laxity, and broken syntax are America's plague for not electing him president last time.

A Bobo Fuming at the Mouth

David Brooks’ column today has to prove something. Either this election is polarizing people more as we get closer to November 2 or Brooks is feeling the pressure to circle the wagons and defend against John Kerry. Or maybe his response proves that Bin Laden just handed the election to Bush.

Brooks obviously has a fixed idea about John Kerry. And he won’t let any damn context get in the way. That must be why he implies that Kerry only thinks Bin Laden is a nuisance. Kerry’s comments that, in the future, he wanted to reduce terrorism to a nuisance are warped to mean that Kerry today doesn’t see all these threats of our “streets running with blood” as a serious problem. Kerry’s remarks are reasonable considering anyone with a truck full of fertilizer can become a terrorist today. Brooks then praises Bush’s statement on the Bin Laden tape ignoring that Kerry made virtually the same statement shortly before Bush. Bush was trying to remove this event from “crass politics.” Brooks instead cannily chooses to focuses on statements made later by Kerry in an interview.

He claims that Kerry is all about politics and opportunism. Bush of course is above that. Bush would never uses Bin Laden’s image to sway voters, or claim that Bin Laden wanted Kerry to win, or explain that it was unpatriotic for Kerry to criticize him during this open-ended war. Brooks says that Kerry is “nakedly ambitious” to exploit “this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11.” If that’s ambitious, then what was holding the Republican convention in New York City in September? No one was exploiting an echo there.

National security is an election issue, and should be. Kerry has been tarred for exploiting just about everything in this election—soldiers dying in Iraq, terrorism around the world, a slumping economy, global distrust of the United States. Bush has been accused of exploiting fear of more attacks, homophobia, the terror alert system, September 11th, his status as a “war president.” All this “crass politics.” Next thing you know, they’ll be asking us to vote.

In the meantime, Mr. Brooks should take a cold shower.

"My Pet Goat"

It’s startling.

I remember where I was on September the 11th. I was asleep, planning on sleeping through my morning class—on Islam no less. My roommate woke me up, we watched, the whole dorm was watching, the whole world…and I didn’t know what to do, how to react. Just pure shock.

George W. Bush was on camera when he heard. Reading the now infamous story “My Pet Goat.” And he stayed there for seven minutes after being told, “America is under attack.”

This image has proven to be iconic. Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 911 used it to prove that Bush was incompetent and unable to function without a script. Eminem used it in his video to prove Bush knew of the attacks beforehand. Osama Bin Laden alluded to the image to prove Bush was a coward. The image is a virtual Mona Lisa, with its’ meaning being found in the eye of the beholder.

For me, this image just about sums up all my feelings about this election. The importance. The surreal-ness. The confusion. The shock. The fear. The quiet panic. The anxiety.

To use this image to indict Bush is unfair. How would you or I react, on camera, knowing suddenly the weight of the world was just dropped on your shoulders? And that your actions in the next few moments, minutes, hours, days would change the world? Some of us have no idea what that is like. We were too busy hiding in a cave.

But the image is useful. It punctures a myth being echoed in the media of a decisive, determined, steadfast leader who knows America’s enemies and how to fight them. The image they paint is that of some superhero who is taking charge of history, who is the only one will save America, the only one who cares, who has the guts, who has the will. He is a man chosen by the Almighty to lead America against the enemy of freedom and good. Instead, we see a human being, confused, overtaken by events. He is capable of mistakes, paralyzed and unable to react, a deer in the headlights.

And now we are faced with another attack ad. And a choice in three days. We will not be intimidated. But the image of the President, with the odd smile on his face, reading the book, frozen…The image will stay with us, ambiguous, disturbing waiting for history to move on.

When Pigs Fly...

And hell freezes over...

Click on the image for 10/28 if one doesn't automatically appear.

Marilyn O'Grady Calls Me a Bigot...

Dr. O'Grady decided to respond to my letter. Aside from the many spelling errors (Don't diss them--there are a few on this site) the letter is just incoherent bile.

Mr. Campbell,

Thank you for your email. I commend you on your willingness to express your opinion. Encouraging dialogue is a valuable goal that is too often overlooked.

I did not know who you were until I received your email. Rading through the email, I read about your dismay at my ad against gay marriage.

Perhaps, the most interesting part of your email is your relief that I don't seem to have much support in New York. For that, you are thankful. Unlike in places like "Alabama, or Louisiana," New Yorkers are too sophisticated to fall for "scare-mongering." However, your email blatantly tried to use imagery of unsophisticated southerners to inflame those lesser beasts of human nature, those of paranoia and of bigotry. This is not consistent with either Catholic or American ideals, although it both have often been used to justify such acts.

Mr. Campbell, I do not understand what you are trying to accomplish with an email such as this if you are not attempting to appeal to what I think we all agree are the baser emotions.

I hate to point it out, Mr. Campbell, but you are a bigot. You are so glad that New Yorkers aren't like those gun-toting, sister-marrying yokels with one tooth who live down south. It seems that on the liberal side, there are only two groups worthy of scorn: committed Christians and Southerners.

I am disgusted as a Catholic and an American that you would look upon Southerners as fools who would fall for the tactics that you and your "cocktail party circuit" liberals are so immune to.

Given what I have written, do you deny that looking down on those less sophistacted than yourself was inapporpriate? If so, what justification do you have for portraying them as easily swayed boobs? That is, what purpose other than to inflame those who are bigots among us. I assume that you are not one, because I always try to look on the positive side of people. But why? From where I sit, your eamil is a disgrace to our state. Not because of your opinions, but because of the words you have used to express them.

Marilyn O'Grady

Thank God this woman isn't anywhere near elective office. Let's just hope she doesn't manage to finish ahead of Republican Mills as a result of her tactics.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Quote of the Day

"And you have to love this particular Sox crew for being so un-corporate and untidy. They look like the kind of people who routinely get thrown out of President Bush's rallies."

E. J. Dionne in an editorial in today's Washington Post.

What liberals?

George Will has a good column today, talking about a fact that few liberals like to acknowledge: conservative ideas are dominating our politics. They are dominating because liberals have no ideas.

Look at the major issues facing America today. I know Bush has a Social Security plan, even if I doubt its effectiveness. Kerry is in favor of the status quo. I know Bush has a plan to reform the tax code, which is disasterously complicated. Kerry wants the status quo. The recent changes to the Kyoto accords--adding a market-based strategy of greenhouse gas credits that could be traded--a conservative idea. Charter schools, whether you like them or not, are the most original idea in education reform. On national security, Kerry has been forced to run not with a different plan of attacking al-Qaeda, but by promising to be competent in carrying out Bush's plan, and returning to the status quo of the past 50 years by focusing on institutional relics of the Cold War.

Up until the late 60's, liberal ideas were ascendant--with progression from FDR's New Deal to LBJ's Great Society, from the Allied Forces to NATO and the UN. Democrats embraced the Civil Rights movement, feminism, and environmentalists. They sought to isolate the Soviet Union rather than to go to war. Repubicans were on the wrong side of all these issues. They favored isolationism, segregation (as did many Southern Democrats until 1964), big business, and the past.

After 1964, some people realized the Republicans needed a new agenda. Liberals in the Democratic party began to abandon the center and sought to exceed their mandate. Those in power became defenders of the status quo with all its faults.

Such is the inevitable course of all political movements. At the moment of highest power, they overreach. Though perhaps, the overreaching is their downfall. Republicans began to paint Democrats as the party of abortion, affirmative action, criminals, flag-burning, atheists, and fellow-travellers. They elevated character as an election issue, pointing to sharing values as more important than agreeing with policies. They made foreign policy a moral issue. They unapologetically called democracy, freedom, and capitalism the way of the future. They were a visionary force that was allowed its day because of the failure of imagination on the part of the Democratic elite that refused to adapt to changing world circumstances.

Now is the high tide of Republicanism. Clinton was a mere Eisenhower in a conservative sea. He accepted Republican ideas and implemented them rather than creating a new liberal consensus. This was his genius--to accept the valid criticisms of the other side, and focus on the strenghts of your own. What was missing was any liberal ideology.

Today, we can see the beginnings of a new liberal ideology being formed. And we must marshall our forces and ideas to come to a new consensus. The basis of this new liberalism will not be Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky. We need to acknowledge the strengths of the conservative movement today. We need to accept their successes. And then we need to create a new way of viewing the world--a new way to combat terrorism and Islamo-fascism, a new understanding of government, of American power, and America's place in the world. We need to be on the cutting edge.

But we cannot mistake a Kerry victory for one of liberal values--Kerry is running as the conservative competent candidate, not the liberal one. Win or lose, we still have the same internal problem--creating a liberal consensus and finding how to explain to the majority of Americans. The main successes of modern conservatism have been to correct the overreaching of liberals and remind them of their original intents. There are real problems facing America. We've heard one side. For the good of America, its time to present another.

Gay pickles

This year's election must be putting gay Republicans in a pickle.

And no, I'm not talking about the proposed amendment to the Constition to enshrine the idea that states no longer have a right to decide who marries (or all legal incidents thereof.)

I'm talking about the attempt by Republicans throughout the South especially to play off homophobia to tar Democrats. It is an updated version of the strategy that Republicans used after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 to woo the alienated white voters from the Democrats.

The latest examples:

  • "Top Republican officials" in the Kentucky state legislature called the Democratic Senate candidate Mongiardo "limp-wristed," questioned whether the "word 'man' applies to him," and called him a "switch hitter who doesn't whether he's on the left or right" while campaigning with his Republican opponent, Senator Jim Bunning. They deny they were referring to Mongiardo's sexuality.
  • Alan Keyes referred to Mary Cheney as a "selfish hedonist" shortly before the Republican convention because of her open lesbian identity and later explained that gay marriage was wrong because it would inevitably lead to incest. (Can't find the original articles, but mentioned here.)
  • The Star-News of North Carolina two days ago retracted their endorsement of Woody White who was running for the state senate after he made his opponent's sexuality a major issue in final TV ad talking about her "liberal activist homosexual agenda" and "radical homosexual rights and privileges," concluding with this: "The truth is … Julia Boseman seeks to be the first openly gay or lesbian State Senator in North Carolina History." The Star-News in withdrawing its endorsement explained, "But now a vote for him would be a vote for intolerance and dirty politics." Amen.
  • A recent ad run against Oklahoma congressman Brad Carson implies that he is in favor of gay marriage. He voted for the amendment to the Constitution and has spoken in opposition to gay marriage many times.
  • In Arkansas and Virginia, the Republican National Committee sent fliers to voters implying that a vote for Kerry would lead to banning the Bible and promoting gay marriage. (Interesting editorial on the lack of outrage here.)
  • In South Carolina, the Republican candidate for Senator Jim DeMint first entered into controversy regarding homosexuality when a staffer accidentally sent an e-mail to a homosexual activist reading, "Come on, fag, give this dike a reply.” The staffer stayed on with the campaign. DeMint later made news when he announced at the Senate debate that he did not think that homosexuals should be allowed to teach in public schools, which is consistent with the South Carolina Republican platform. Meanwhile elsewhere in the state, Rep. John Grahm Altman (R) sent an e-mail to his supporters claiming that his opponent was in favor of the "decay of traditional values in America" by supporting same-sex marriages and hiring homosexual Boy Scout troop leaders.
  • Mike Liffrig, the Republican Senate candidate in North Dakota has been accused of airing an anti-gay ad while mischaracterizing his Democratic opponent's position on gay marriage. Similar accusations have been leveled against Mel Martinez, a Republican Congressional hopeful in Florida.

Not that Republicans are trying to exploit this or anything! Republicans also are responsible for the numerous referendums in 11 states that are on the ballot to try to boost anti-gay marriage turnout.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

October Surprise!

I think we've found Bush's latest weapon!

Gallop Polls Figaro!

This is exactly the type of thing that is bringing down political discourse today--reducing political figures to caricatures. Both Bush and Kerry are buffoons--Bush is stupid (a fact I dispute) and Kerry is a flip-flopper (as their Republican opponents have alleged of every Democratic candidate since Dukakis...hmmm...)

But you know what, its funny. I especially like how John Kerry is the only rich boy in this race of four millionaires. And Bush is now forced to ask for a recount, to which his brother Jeb adds a box of votes.

In the end, the message: "It doesn't really doesn't really matter...America will vote for me!" Bush sings. Sad, but maybe true.

Terror Video

Well, despite some news reports late last night that indicated the CIA had decided the video of a man claiming the next attack will dwarf 9/11 was a forgery, Drudge is now claiming the CIA has authenticated the video.

As he broke the story originally, he's probably ahead of the curve on this one.

Misleading Headline of the Day

I log onto AOL Instant Messenger, and as usual my Afternoon screen pops up along with my buddy list to greet me. The #2 headline on the "Top News" list: U.S Helped Remove Weapons. Follow the link, and you find that, as a matter of fact, an armed anti-coalition group claims to have the weapons, and that it was aided by "the American intelligence" in getting them.

Slightly different than the headline suggests I think.

Millionaires for Bush

Jack Welch and Steve Forbes have editorials today in the Wall Street Journal explaining why we should vote for Bush--cause he's not a wimp like Kerry.

Welch has the more reasonable of the two arguments. He frames all of the "Five Questions to Ask" in ways that undeniably favor Bush. A more reasonable man might worry that a unanimous decision would seem suspicious. Not Jack. Welch frames the issue of "learning from mistakes" as "Does He Get Back on the Horse?" He asks voters to ask themselves, is the person you voting for "real"--as in, does he reach people on an emotional level. He says that a great leader should seem dumb because he surrounds himself with people smarter than he is. Finally (but not least), in this time of terrorism, Welch suggests that we ask ourselves "Is He Pro-Business?" Welch pretends he isn't telling us who to vote for. It's a lot like Fox News. He reports--you decide.

Welch keeps saying we need a great leader in these times. I agree. It has been said that no form of government needs great leaders as much as democracy. In these times, we need a great leader. I'm not convinced Kerry is one, but anyone who points to Bush as a great leader must be delusional. The horrific mismanagement of Iraq--where the Wall Street Journal, no liberal mouthpiece, acknowledges, "Iraqi Arms Site Likely Was Looted," the failure to attack the ideology of al-Qaeda, the attacks on criticisms of his record as "aiding the terrorists," the ramming through Congress of a partisan agenda in a time of war--these are not the acts of a great president. They are failures of historic proportions.

Kerry hasn't had a chance to show his stuff, but it would be difficult to imagine Kerry dividing the country so radically or ignoring the advice of his military advisors so freely. I am not sure that Kerry would be a great leader; I am convinced that he would be a competent leader.

Steve Forbes meanwhile makes the case for Bush the "radical" and "revolutionary." He explains that Bush is moving America toward a flat tax while Kerry is trying to "pander to fashionable and apocalyptic fantasies, such as global warming or the ever-recurring notion that we are running out of oil." He uses a page out of Ann Coulter to describe all Democratic presidents as weaklings on foreign policy--Carter on Iran and Clinton in Somalia. He insinuates that Kerry was brain-washed at the "French-Swiss boarding school" he went to as a child. He says that Kerry would fail to protect America from terrorists because at heart he is a weak man who belives that foreign people "possess superior, more sophisticated wisdom."

Is this stupidity really able to be published in the Journal? This venom makes Michael Moore look reasonable, and that's not easy.

Millionaire Celebrities for Kerry

Where to start? Things are heating up in this last few days in a way I have never seen before in my short lifetime. Eminem, Howard Stern, Bruce Springsteen line up for Kerry. For Bush, we have Jack Welch, Steve Forbes, and...Guiliani. Hm...

I always suspected the Boss was a liberal. His music looks at class issues which are generally only seriously acknowledged by those who are more liberal. (I hope someone can prove me wrong on this statement--it paints conservatives in an ignorant light that I hope is ridiculous, but I cannot think of an artist or politician who acknowledges class issues in America while defending conservative domestic policies.) But his extremely strong support for Kerry is surprising. It's one of the many factors that seems to be bringing this election more closely to the attention of Americans. It shows how important many liberals (and conservatives) see this election to be. Bruce will be appearing with Kerry around the hotly contested state of Ohio until the election culminating with a large concert in Cleveland. For those of you with your heads in the sand, Ohio is being called the "Florida" of this election as Pennsylvania has swung towards Kerry and Florida towards Bush in recent polls.

Howard Stern is an interesting case though. His political philosophy seems to involve fart jokes before all else. If anything, I would suspect that he is a libertarian. He has come out against Bush in a big way; he blames Bush for recent FCC crackdowns on his show, pointing to the fact that he always has acted this way, but it wasn't until he criticized Bush on air that he was slapped with massive fines. Stern has railed against Bush all summer asking his listeners to do just one thing for him--not vote for Bush. Stern's demographic includes many of those people Bush is counting on to win the election--the guys, as Howard Dean once said, with Confederate flags on their pickup trucks. In the past week, Stern has been attacking the FCC and its Chairman, Michael Powell. What has been Stern's effect? No survey I have seen has tried to measure.

Finally Eminem... Well, I'll get to his Mosh video later.

You know you're deranged when...

Speaking of the woman whose name is synonymous among some Democrats with voter fraud, a registered Democrat in Florida attempted to exercise his right to "political expression" by swerving onto the sidewalk and aiming his car at Katherine Harris before swerving away at the last instant several days ago.

Voter Fraud and Republicans

This Slate piece's allegations against the Republican party aren't supported enough to be convincing, but they do raise an interesting point.

Terrorism and the Election

For a long time now, administration officials have raised the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack to disrupt the election as well as the economy. Mainstream media sources indicated in the beginning of August that they had intelligence related to election threats (Reuters, AP, and other reported this, though all I can find online now is this cached Washington Times article that is almost word for word the same as the Reuters one.) The article states that these attacks would be launched in response to a public message from Osama Bin Laden.

Earlier this week however, many newspapers around the country ran stories indicating doubt that there would be any attacks before or on Election Day. They claimed to find "no direct evidence" of a plot.

Okay, fine. That's good.

However, there has been little official comment on a video recently acquired by ABC News in Pakistan featuring a professed al-Qaeda supporter warning of a massive attack on the United States where the "streets will run with blood." The CIA and FBI are currently attempting to see if the tape is authentic.

After floating the idea of postponing the election in the event of a large terrorist attack, administration officials quickly withdrew the idea. Officials now are talking about how to ensure security at polling places and to protect ballots in the event of some emergency. Just as elections go on around the world despite threats of violence, we cannot let our democracy become derailed because of the actions of a violent few.

However, how does one make sense of all these mixed signals? The safe bet now is, no. However, a group associated with al-Qaeda did use attacks in Spain shortly before their election to ensure the ouster of the pro-Bush party, and it would seem that the US election provides a unique opportunity for al-Qaeda. What are the chances of some sort of massive plot going undetected by our newly vigilant intelligence services? Perhaps we are about to find out.

The Challenge to Our Generation (Part I)

If there is one event that would seem to be immune to hype, it would be American elections. They are much too important for anyone to take seriously anymore. That's so 19th century--when suffrage and civil rights were issues.

Yet this election seems terribly important despite the hype. Both campaigns have said that this is the most important election in a generation. The range of important issues facing whoever wins this election is tremendous. Whoever is president must take up the long-postponed task of weaning America off of foreign oil and at the same time minimizing the amount of greenhouse gases spewed into the atmosphere. The president must deal with a world in which America is the only superpower and thus has tremendous responsibilities. Yet during Bush's term, world opinion of the United States has sunk to an all-time low. Whoever wins the presidency must work to restore the world's trust in America. This is essential for many of America's purposes in the world, including stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The entitlement programs must also become a focus for the next president--Social Security and Medicare will soon have to deal with the Baby Boomers retiring en masse. The massive deficits of recent years must be reigned in, or at least minimized in the next term. Chaotic situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are now the responsibility of the US. Although Afghanistan has shown signs of improvement, Iraqi instability seems to be increasing and our foes seem more bold, striking even within the "Green Zone" in Baghdad that is supposed to be entirely secure. And then of course is the increasing divide between the very rich and everyone else in America, that has been growing exponentially since the early 1990s.

Finally, perhaps the key issue of this election, and one which oddly had not gotten much analysis, is how to combat Islamo-fascism and al-Qaeda. This issue is at the base of why energy policy, WMD, and Iraq are now at the top of the national agenda, yet Bush and Kerry have dealt with it mainly by making broad pronouncements and trying to make it an issue of character. There is more to winning the "War on Terror" than words and resolve--there must be first an understanding of the enemy and then a strategy to destroy and isolate this enemy.

Bush has made it clear that his strategy involves attacking nation-states that provide support for terrorists. He has linked this with having weapons of mass destruction as well. I have heard people talk about the need to invade every country that supports Islamic terrorism--Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, and not stopping until these people are wiped off the face of the earth. This is the logical extension of the Bush doctrine. To invade all countries that do not begin moving towards democracy and isolating Islamic extremists, starting with those that have access to weapons of mass destruction.

I think this is one of those ideas that sounds better in theory than it could possibly work in practice. There is no conceivable way this is possible, even given 100 years and America's continued military superiority. Because, simply, the world would not stand for it; quite possibly, we would also become worse than the evil we seek to destroy, becoming an empire and often attacking the innocent along with the guilty. That is always the price of war, even one that tries to minimize civilian casualties. The price of an occupation on innocent lives is even higher. More importantly, it is unclear that this strategy will be successful. Rumsfeld himself has said that he believes we are probably creating more recruits for Al-Qaeda than we are killing with our occupation of Iraq. This is one of the lessons of power--for every action, there is a counter-reaction. Just look at the situation in Palestine and you will see that military action, no matter how decisive and strong, will not breed moderates who want peace, but instead more extremists. The same was true of England in Northern Ireland or the French in Algeria.

I know my great-grandfather was once arrested for being part of the IRA. He wasn't but after his treatment in prison, he quickly joined. Suppression breeds extremism. Occupation breeds extremism.

So what are we to do?

The Curse

Is now officially broken. Congrats to all you Red Sox fans! But c'mon--wouldn't it have been more exciting to win it in seven games?

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Procrastination Central

Try to keep the drunk person on his feet... The game is more fun than it is in real life.

To keep the drunk guy standing straight, move the mouse to the left or right to correct his leaning. My record is 76 metres. Beat that..

How To Convince Someone To Vote Against George Bush In 5 Easy Steps (Part II)

Argument # 2
For me, the most persuasive argument for Kerry is that he is the conservative option in this race. He promises a return to the tradition of multilateralism that FDR and Truman embraced. He promises a break from the tax-cutting that it seems America can hardly afford at this time and the other radical changes Bush wishes to experiment with in the middle of this "War on Terror." Most importantly, Kerry promises that Democrats too have a stake in fighting terrorism--something most partisans are loathe to admit (See Sean Hannity's latest book-- Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism or Ann Coulter's Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.)

A break after four years of president imposing a radical agenda onto America and the world. Perhaps Bush's agenda will turn out to be not as bad as we all predict, but certainly now, we need a break. Of course, most conservatives deny (in public anyway) that Bush has anything resembling a radical agenda. Yet conservative media ranging from the Economist to the Wall Street Journal have described the Bush term as radical--meaning a break from the policies that have dominated American politics since FDR. His foreign policy--in rejecting the importance of multinational institutions in favor of issue-based coalitions--is a dramatic break from the policies of every president since FDR who created and worked with the United Nations and NATO. Yet this administration rejected NATO offers to help with the invasion of Afghanistan and has rejected UN authority in numerous ways. This has undermined America's credibility in the world. The UN isn't perfect, but it is not yet ready to be put into the dustbin of history. America needs to work to make the UN a body that has the courage to call for decisive action when situations warrant it--in regards to Saddam's Iraq, the situations in Bosnia and Rwanda, and the genocide being perpetuated now in Sudan. Bush has shown no interest in this while Kerry has.

The radical nature of Bush's domestic agenda is acknowledged by the right. The Wall Street Journal editorial page yesterday featured an article that called Mr. Bush's policies radical. The Economist in its issue analyzing the candidates issues on various issues similarly called Bush's domestic agenda radical. The point is, these sources see Bush's radicalism in a positive light. They see his changes to the tax code which are disproportionaly helping the wealthy. They hear his talk of tax code reform, of looking into the idea of a national sales tax, of creating an "ownership society" and they like where this is headed--a nation that is closer to a flat and thus fair tax, that values wealth creation, and that encourages all those behaviors that make a market economy run. They ignore the fact of those left behind.

How To Convince Someone To Vote Against George Bush In 5 Easy Steps (Part I)

In my opinion, probably the most comprehensive argument against another Bush term is found in The New Republic. Their series of articles "The Case Against Bush" provided a number of good arguments about Bush's presidency that in measured terms condemn Bush for at various times, incompetence, a disregard for the opinions of experts, undermining democracy at home, and for being manipulated too easily by certain advisors. They make persuasive cases for each point. And all this comes from a magazine that supported the war with Iraq and in general the War on Terror. They see it in terms similar to Bush--as a generational conflict with evil. Yet, given the evidence of his incompetence and their faith that Kerry will remain true to his word, they unabashedly side with Kerry.

Andrew Sullivan also makes the case for Kerry persuasively. As a conservative gay Catholic British journalist living in America, he has many diverging opinions on various aspects of the Bush presidency. He supported Bush in 2000 and was a very strong early supporter of the War on Terrorism. Yet, as a conservative, he is appalled by Bush's record of increasing the size of government, of fiscal irresponsibility, and of the administration's consistent mismanagement of the war. He is not overly impressed with Kerry, but does not mimic the Republican talking points on him. Sullivan's concludes his endorsement thus:

And it is simply foolish to ignore what we have found out this past year about Bush's obvious limits, his glaring failures, his fundamental weakness as a leader. I fear he is out of his depth and exhausted. I simply do not have confidence in him to navigate the waters ahead skilfully enough to avoid or survive the darkening clouds on the horizon.

But Kerry? I cannot know for sure. But in a democracy, you sometimes have to have faith that a new leader will be able to absorb the achievements of his predecessor and help mend his failures. Kerry has actually been much more impressive in the latter stages of this campaign than I expected. He has exuded a calm and a steadiness that reassures. He is right about our need for more allies, more prudence, and more tactical discrimination in the war we are waging. I cannot say I have perfect confidence in him, or that I support him without reservations. But not to support anyone in this dangerous time is a cop-out. So give him a chance. In picking the lesser of two risks, we can also do something less dispiriting. We can decide to pick the greater of two hopes. And even in these dour days, it is only American to hope.

Sullivan picks what I see as the perfect middle ground here. If only he could vote!

Republicans Encouraging Minority Turnout!

Hard-hitting "journalism" at its best at The Onion.

Baseball Is Politics

My prediction: Red Sox lose in 7. Because that would be the most incredible ending to the series. It would prove the Curse still lives and that the Bambino has a sense of humor (given the Yankees were just up 3 games to none last week.)

Quote of the Day

I had an uncle once who gave me dating advice when I was single. “When a girl stops her train of thought and says, ‘Oh, never mind,’” he told me, “leave it alone--don’t ask what she was going to say. You don’t want to know. The rule applies to both genders and transcends courting.

David Hajdu on Brian Wilson’s Smile in the October 25th issue of The New Republic.

Political Porn

Vote Pairing

What a fantastic idea I can't believe I haven't heard of before. Jamin Raskin's article in Slate on vote pairing pointed me to's site.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kerry Wins Big!

The more I read, the more it seems that the dynamic of this election needs to change quickly if it will follow historical trends. Generally, incumbents are either voted another term or out of office by a large margin. Yet this race seems like it may be as close as the 2000 election, if not closer. Most major polls are showing a small Bush lead in many swing states and nationally going into Nov. 2.

Depending on who you talk to, their either means Kerry is an awful candidate, or that he'll win because of the historical trend of undecided voters breaking to the challenger by at least a 3 to 1 margin. See City of Lakes.

Of course, aside from analyzing history like this, its so much more fun to analyze random trends and see how they fit into presidential politics. That was Newsday's take yesterday. Newsday sees trends in Kerry's direction on hemlines (going up), candidate height (Kerry's taller), and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (lower.) However, the important factors of Halloween mask sales, Iowa Presidential Futures, and the Weekly Reader poll of elementary school students all favor Bush. Every other "indicator" is up in the air. But I know I'll be rooting for the Washington Redskins to lose their October 31st game against the Packers. (Which would favor the incumbent.)

Two factors that might not be taken enough into account in polls seem to favor Kerry. A larger number of voters tends to favor Democrats, as does large numbers of new voters. There has also been a lot of talk recently about the impact of cell phone users on the election, as most polls are not able to take these people into account. Generally, those whose only phone is a cell phone tend to be younger and thus in a group that supports Kerry over Bush. Of course, all this does not take into account the legions of Republican and Democratic lawyers that will be descending on polling stations in swing states on November 2. The Republicans will be attempting to disqualify illegitimate voters (some have alleged this is a tactic of intimidation against minority districts where Republicans are focusing.) It's difficult to say what will happen if there is another election tainted as the 2000 one was. Ronald Brownstein of the LA Times takes this issue on in a recent column.

Then of course is the possibility of some sort of terrorist incident between now and when voting closes on Tuesday. The administration has brought up the possibility several times, though recently, the idea of an attack timed to influence the election has been discredited in most media sources. The effect of such an attack though could be dramatic. In any direction. Depending on how Bush reacts primarily, and secondarily on Kerry.

However, assuming no major surprises (aside from surprise late-inning attacks by both Kerry and Bush this coming weekend) I see this race trending to Kerry, with him winning big in the Electoral College (up maybe 30 or 40 electoral votes) and winning the popular vote by rolling up huge margins in New York, California, and the other big states.

Marilyn O'Grady: Senate Hopeful

I got a copy today of the Torch Tribune delivered to my house on Long Island. Never heard of it before, but apparently its the Conservative Party paper. It had an article about a Dr. O'Grady, who in my letter I accidentally called Ms. O'Grady (My apologies Dr.) The article was titled: "Schumer and Mills Are 'The Perfect Liberal Couple.'" Which led me to Dr. O'Grady's website.

Watching her ads, I was struck by their increasingly hysterical tone as she took more extreme views. From her first ad attacking Senator Schumer for an "anti-Catholic bias" which, although perhaps unfair, was muted and considering the awkward ways in which Senator Schumer talked about his opposition to Catholic anti-abortion candidates understandable, to her screed on immigration, and finally, in a seeminly desperate attempt to get media attention her wedding cake ad portraying the Republican and Democratic candidates as a homosexual couple. I do not see what possible purpose this woman might have in airing this image if not to inflame those homophobic people who make up a portion of our community.

Here is the letter I sent her today, and am now waiting (though not holding my breath) for a response.

Ms. O'Grady,

I commend you for deciding to enter the race for NY Senate because you saw too little difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates. Encouraging real political dialogue is a valuable goal that too often is overlooked.

I did not know who you were until I received a mailing from the Torch Tribune at my home in Suffolk. Reading through the sheet, I read for the first time about your gay-baiting attack on Schumer and Mills. I was disgusted as a Catholic and as an American by the tactics you decided to employ to achieve your "conservative" ends. It is one thing to oppose gay marriage. I do not think that a secular government such as ours should, but I can understand and appreciate this view. However, your ad blatantly tried to use imagery of homosexuality to inflame those lesser beasts of human nature, those of paranoia and of bigotry. This is not consistent with either Catholic or American ideals, although both have often been used to justify such acts.

Ms. O'Grady, I do not understand what you are trying to accomplish with ads such as this if you are not attempting to appeal to what I think we all agree are the baser emotions. This seems to be the basic of your tactics on immigration as well. I agree it is important to protect our borders and stop illegal immigration, but your tactics are merely scare tactics, like the nightly news programs that attempt to get people to watch saying, "Look, your children's lives are in immediate danger!" Terrorism is a serious problem--it is central to the struggle my and your generation faces as we confront the future. But scare tactics are not the answer.

The only positive thing I can say I see about your candidacy is that you have such low support in the polls, it makes me appreciate New York. Republicans in other states have taken your tactics of fear-mongering about immigration and gay marriage to the next level and some are succeeding in moving up in the polls! By comparison you have been rather tame. I guess when I see filth in my home state, it makes me angrier than if I see it somewhere half-distant, like Alabama or Louisiana.

My question then is this: given all that I have written, do you deny that the ad attacking Schumer and Mills was inappropriate? If so, what justification do you have for portraying them as a gay couple? That is, what purpose other than to inflame those who are bigots among us. I assume that you are not one, because I always try to look on the positive side of people. But why? From where I sit, your campaign is a disgrace to our state. Not because of your opinions, but because
of the tactics you have used to express them.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this issue.

Joe Campbell
Islip, NY

A side note: you claim be the only candidate in the race who supports the president on the issues of abortion and civil unions. The president has said that he supports civil unions. Will you now release an ad of the President and Mr. Cheney atop a wedding cake?