Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Intelligent Attraction of Mass

Ahhhhhhh... Today's thing driving J crazy is the further attempts to bring Intelligent Design into school curriculums (apparently the anti-evolution forces have a majority on the Kansas schoolboard again... so look for more ridicule-inducing cringe-worthy news from there soon). Today's NY Times (reg. required) has the latest on this.

Now, you can maintain, like one dude in the article, that the reason the ACLU, and, well, me, and others get so upset about this is that, apparently, sound science filling in the "gaps" in evolution is actually what's at issue, and that this so-called sound science then leads to the possiblity of a Creator, and we just don't like religion, and that's why we have a problem with all of this. Yeah, sure, that's the ticket.

I'm sorry, but people -- PEOPLE -- listen to me -- a theory saying that some parts of the world are unexplainable and attempts to prove that they are, by definition, unexplainable and therefore made by a Creator are *simply* *unscientific*. To make the conclusion of a Creator based on a lack of ability to explain phenomena is NOT a valid deductive chain -- it is fallacious! Why can't you see that? It may or may not be true, but our present inability to explain something does NOT logically lead to the idea that it must have been created by means beyond the view of observable reality. Occam's Razor would imply that we SIMPLY DON'T HAVE A COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PHENOMENA. By the same reasoning as Intelligent Design, Phlogiston was COMPLETELY reasonable -- phlogiston being the concept that, since burned objects were noticeably, well, different than the same object before it was burned, that they contained an odorless, colorless, tasteless, weightless substance called phlogiston -- and when you "burned" something -- that is, dephlogisticated it -- you were releasing the phlogiston and what remained was the true material the object was made of. Er, yeah. But given a certain set of information, it can be seen as reasonable, no? Logical, no, reasonable, perhaps. Or what of the flat earth? Certainly, as far as any one person standing on the surface of the earth without advanced observation equipment (or simply a very tall building), it is PERFECTLY REASONABLE to deduce the earth is flat -- this is only disprovable once equipment and/or information previously undiscovered or unrealized is used. The earth-centered solar system? Very possible -- though that explanation of retrogression gets tough -- probably just God moving around those lights fixed in the black cloth of the firmament.

Ok, here's the brass tacks kids -- next time anyone gives you some Intelligent Design claptrap, point out that evolution is better understood in many ways than gravity -- that is, we have stronger evidence confirming our understanding of evolution than the universal theory of gravitation -- BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHY GRAVITY WORKS. Einstein's brilliant insights about time-space being all very well and good, the idea of gravity being "wells" in the "fabric" of space-time is a great metaphor, but the actual explanation of WHY things act like this is, well, lacking. We KNOW the details of evolutionary theory -- though we can't explain all observed cases. We know the mathematical rules governing gravity -- except for the expanding, accelerating universe (dark energy) and the details of explaining how it propagates faster than light (seemingly instantaneously).

Must be God pushing the elements of the universe apart -- yeah, that's it. Intelligent Pulling and Pushing Things Together and Apart -- that's a much better explanation than the universal theory of gravitation.

Seriously kids. Gravity. Less understood. Than evolution. In many ways.

Though I'm sure SOME people SOMEwhere wouldn't be opposed to Intelligent Gravitation, can the rest of us see now how baaaaaaaaaaaad intelligent design is?

Please. Now. Go forth and tell people that gravity is a less complete theory than evolution. Seriously. And please. Tell a lot of people in Kansas.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Please Throw Eggs at Dinesh D'Souza

Or anyone else who ever proposes Two Cheers for Colonialism.


Also, read an interesting article in Slate by Tim Noah on D'Souza's antimaterialism (ha!)


Thursday, December 09, 2004


I should be working, really, serious, but I can't resist.

USA Today leads with word that the Dept. of Homeland Security's effort to create a list of potential terrorist targets, such as dams, nuke plants, and skyscrapers, is way behind schedule and kind of whacked. Apparently, it includes water parks and miniature golf course, but not some major sites.

"Their list is a joke," said one Republican congressman.

--Eric Umansky, J-Fave Today's Paper's on Slate

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Proxy Servant

Hey one and all, latest fall-down bad job by the much-maligned (by me, at least) US media.

I've been slightly suspicous of our Ukraine election coverage, particularly because Yushchenko's better-for-democracy-ness has been chiefly "proven" in the media with simple mention of the fact that he is more "pro-western". I haven't heard anything like "and he supports more transparency and politics responsive to the average and less well-off citizens" or, I don't know, he insists on a larger role of women in Ukrainian politics (this is a random example of something I would consider "pro-democracy", though for all I know, the Ukriane could have amazing gender equity). The point here is that the story crafted by our media was already somewhat suspect to me -- if nothing else, it was ever-so-superficial; can any of you tell me WHY Yushchenko is better for democracy than Yanukovich? No? You, in the back there, with your hand up? Oh, you were stretching? What about proof of election fraud? Yes, over there -- no? No clue?

What this is leading up to is this article recommended by J-friend and advisor John. Don't let the fact that it's on Al-Jazeera frighten you. Not that I expect anyone reading my page to be uncritical enough to dismiss something simply cuz it's on Al-Jazeera (see: Control Room. No seriously, see it. It's really good. Much better, convincing movie than Fahrenheit 9/11, in my opinion). Basically, one guy seems more under Putin's thumb, one more under our thumb -- and guess which one our unbiased media portrays as the democratic underdog? (Though I have to admit, the possibility that Yushchenko was possibly poisoned with dioxin does compel some sympathy -- though perhaps it should be no more sympathy than would be due your average Roman Senate-esque wheeler/dealer.) Nonetheless, the point isn't whether or not Yush is the great, er, whiter hope, but rather what the real political landscape is. Who wants to bet that what we're going is a good, sophisticated analysis of that? (Though to be fair, NYT did have the conventional "on the other hand" article a little while ago.)

In other news, speaking of gender equity in government (a paragraph or two ago), check out the Human Development report from this year. US: 14% women in "parliament" (congress); around 30% in Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia; 36% in Cuba; 10% in Brasil; 20% in Nicaragua, to go through some other countries I'm familiar with. So, we're not on the bottom at all -- but let's see, women are only about 14% of the populace right now, right? Riiiiiight. Sexism. Thing of the past. Well, that's a relief.)

That's all folks,


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

New Meme: The Bush Administration Is Awesome!

No, I haven't gone crazy. I've just become desperate/bored enough to think of a useless silly subversive tactic.

You realize, of course, that even among Bush supporters, expectations aren't very high? (Disclosure: More than half of US citizens think he's mishandling Iraq, won't help the economy, the tax cuts shouldn't be permanent, and that he will fuck up social security; more than half do think he's doing right in general on the war on terror.)

And of course, as we all know, with low expectations, it's harder to be disappointed.

That's right, you see it, don't you? That's right.

We must TALK UP THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION. Maybe if we liberals and progressives wage a constant, non-stop positive PR campaign about how good Bush's crony-Cabinet is going to in its second term, then its failures will be all the more dramatic! Bwa hah hah!

It's just crazy enough... not to work.

In other news... anyone besides me remember the earlier critiques of the Department of Homeland Security? (Seems not -- Slate had some great stuff that appears to have gone down the Memory Hole, annd not the ironic, good kind).

I mention this, because the "Intelligence Reform" flap had a similar background that has also disappeared. Hey, I realize it's important to reform intelligence -- everyone, everyone agrees there was some major fucking up (remember SecState-to-be's description of "Bin Laden to attack inside US" as historical information?), but the sometimes-mentioned point that THIS reform might not be efficacious, in that, it may not, you know, help fix things seems COMPLETELY GONE.


Just to refresh or introduce you to the critiques, the DHS and the "Intelligence Czar" have the similar critiques that creating new bureaucracy may not help increase the efficiency of information flow, especially without large (painful) reorganizations (which seem unlikely to be done); the DHS united (what was it? 22?) many disparate departments with varying degrees of connection to "homeland security" without (seemingly) creating an appropriate administrative structure to handle it. And as Fred Kaplan has pointed out on Slate, if the problem in the 9/11 mishandling was that information wasn't properly flowing through the different organizations, i.e. it was "over-centralized" in that the Washington hierarchy supposedly wasn't keyed in enough to the branch offices, and there was "groupthink", how does having one new guy (or in an unlikely case gal) at the top of it all fight groupthink, lack of cooperation between competing intelligence organizations, and over-centralization?

Now, I don't know -- maybe the 9/11 Panel's suggestions are great, and actually answer all concerns. BUT MAYBE WE SHOULD STILL BE TALKING ABOUT IT. I defy you, DEFY YOU, to find critiques of the intelligence proposals and the DHS: 2 Years Later, or even a systematic analysis of what's gone right, rather than simply "process" stories on Bush vs. Congress vs. Hastert vs. DonRum vs. etc. Shouldn't we not only know about the progress of reform, but WHETHER OR NOT IT WILL BE EFFECTIVE? Surely, not everyone in the entire US is convinced this bill will work, or that DHS is working just fine?

You wouldn't know it from reading the "news".


Sunday, December 05, 2004

Today's News... not really (...spoliers! a J-Continuum first)

No current events stuff for the people today... just two random entertainment/enlightenment recommendations...

On the entertainment front, finally saw one of the last Angel episodes... had a marathon on today here in Brasil. BOY. A very sad ending to the series -- sad, emotionally, not quality-wise.

Though I had some qualms about the quality of the last season, these last episodes did imply there was some method to the madness that had been missing, in my opinion, since the end of the Jasmine saga and a little before that, even. (I think Angel got a lot rockier after Connor buried Angel at the bottom of the sea... though the beginning of the next season was still relatively tight, with "evil" Wes a cool move... but I digress.) I was trying to think of why the (synopses -- still haven't caught the actual last eps) last eps got me so sad, and I think it's cuz, despite the weakened (imho) writing behind their characters, I really miss them. I miss the more "happy go lucky" days of the apocalypse, with Lorne still in Caritas (I think he lost a lot of direction, not just as a character but in the writing for him as a character, after he lost his club), with Gunn still a little more "street" (again a loss of depth in his character as he became Scooby-ized), with Cordy still in the SHOW! (and not completely turned into a nice, 3-dimensional, caring person), and Wes -- Wes actually stayed the most true to his character, throughout I think, though he moved from comic to tragicomic to just tragic... Whereas Spike was moving through this progression the opposite direction, in a way...

Anyway, I was going to say, I think I miss them more than many characters from series because they're *dead* -- some of them -- or just (apparently) *gone*. Fred's dead, seemingly *forever* -- destroyed to the essence (though of course, so was Elektra in Marvel and now she's got her own fucking series, no?). THAT's tragic. Wes' dead. Cordy's dead. (Though at least not dead down to her soul being destroyed). In many series, i.e., Buffy, you can go on to imagine the life their characters might lead (though Buffy did its closure so well, it would've been hard to imagine without Angel's clues to their life continuing, and possibly even being - gasp -- fun!), but in Angel, well not only are the living characters fighting the Apocalypse, but several are dead and gone beyond (easily) conceivable return. And their last few years were not happy ones. I miss them... like friends that are dead. Their deaths were so tragic, and moving (to me, at least), watching old episodes won't cut it -- they're *dead*. They're gone, and memories of them are just that... wow. What good tv.

In other news, hopefully those intellectual elites among you sniffing in disdain about TV and/or Angel specifically made it this far, because YOU MUST READ CORNEL WEST. I'm reading "Democracy Matters" and it is EXCELLENT. It is very refreshing to hear a black voice in the US railing against EMPIRE -- when was the last time you heard Kwesi Mfume and the NAACP talking about Empire? They're been pretty DNC-ized (maybe why their membership is flagging...) The radical strain of American thought is dying, and the NAACP is complicit in this... like West's heroes James Baldwin, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many others -- a deep radicalism is needed these days, in my opinion, to reinvigorate the entire left. But perhaps, most especially, the African American Left. We can't play the DNC/Clinton games like the NAACP has been doing and win... we cannot, as it has been said, seek approval from the same system we wish to overturn or reform. Come with me my Democratic friends... the African American community can no longer afford to be Center Left!!!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Unbearable Moral Bankruptcy of Being Center-Left

Michael Kinsley, on Al Franken this week (or was it Morning Sedition? Whatever) proved the ABSOLUTE idiocy of the erstwhile Kerry Platform/Centrist Democrat approach to Iraq.

As usual, the nonsense began with something making sense...

"Has there ever before been a war that so many people disapproved of but so few wanted to stop? Have the reasons for starting a war ever been so thoroughly discredited without turning into reasons for ending it? " Kinsley asks in a recent (21 November 2004 LA Times) article.

"What seems to be today's antiwar position — it was a terrible mistake and it's a terrible mess, but we can't just walk away from it — was actually the pro-war position during Vietnam. In fact, it was close to official government policy for more than half the length of that war.

Today's antiwar cause doesn't even have a movement, to speak of, let alone an agenda. It consists of perhaps 47% of the citizenry — the ones who voted for John Kerry — who are in some kind of existential opposition to the war but don't know what they want to do about it."

Thank goodness he represented this as the 47% of the citizenry that voted for JK -- I'd hate to be confused with having an existential* opposition to the war. I have a very DEFINITIVE opposition -- we were wrong, and we should come home now. After all, the earlier worry for why we SHOULDN'T come home is we could leave a civil war in our wake, right? WHAT THE BLOODY HELL IS GOING ON NOW, EH?

Just in case you think that there lay some kind of logic or reason left unvoiced by Kinsley, some deep motivation that stands up to examination that he forgot to mention -- an answer to the implied question of what sense this existential opposition makes -- nope, he cleared that up on old standby Air America Radio. He's just whistling into the wind.

I can't find a transcript... but more or less, he said the only reason to stay IN Iraq is the belief that things will get better if we stay there: that in the next couple years, our presence will finally help restore a stable society. He WENT ON to say that he saw no particular reason to believe this, he just supposed he hoped that it wasn't the case the it would continue as it was now. He didn't have a reason for such beleifs, but, he said, he wasn't ready to say that the US should pull out.

GREAT. What a towering intellect you're showing Mike; a) the only rational reason to not advocate for a pull out is if the US will help stabilize Iraq in the next couple years, b) that's not happening now (stabilizing influence), c) there's no particular reason to believe it will happen in the future, d) but what the hey, just cuz it's logically inconsistent, let's continue our existential opposition.

THIS is (was) the case for Kerry? EXISTENTIAL OPPOSITION? Hope for something you don't think is likely? WOW, the military-industrial complex, worried after Viet Nam that the US' citizenry's irrational confidence that using US power to kill other people (and to have our own soldiers killed) in service of our myopic economic interests, appears to have had a tremendous victory. Kinsley, the token-Leftist Talking Head, has confidence in our use of the military's force as a force for good, DESPITE the already serious problems doing so (between 20,000 and 100,000 civilians dead, the use of napalm, torture in Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and recent reports from the Red Cross "alleging" continued torture (see earlier Red Cross report at The Smoking Gun).

Can all of you see this? How morally repugnant and weak this is? THIS is the Kerry legacy -- opposition equivalent to support from the Viet Nam era.

There is, in my opinion, LITTLE REASON to think that we will be a force for good in Iraq in the short or long term, with our troops on the ground there (see: Haiti, Nicaragua, Grenada, Viet Nam, Korea, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq Part I...). Therefore, pulling out is the only, rational, opposition stance to have. Further, if one is to believe in democracy and/or Tariq Ali, Iraq should, Iraq must be allowed to develop their own government, their own way -- to say that we must stay there to create a democratic utopia for them is anti-democratic and simply intellectually incoherent... not to mention ignorant of our incontrovertible history of only supporting and implanting puppet or semi-puppet governments. (Yow! Haven't read this yet, but check out the transcript of Mr. Ali v. Chris Hitchens... if there aren't some sparks here, we deserve our money back...)

Chalk another one up to the failure of today's so-called liberals...

*J-Friend Sarah points out that she doesn't believe existentialism has ever been used correctly, and indeed may not have a coherent meaning. She tems some razão (to use super-portuglish, after J-Sister's super-spanglish "I gotta voy") -- that is, she's got a point. "Existential" means both "grounded in existence or the experience of existence : EMPIRICAL b : having being in time and space" -- in other words, something solid and perceivable in a mundane day-to-day way, and also means related to existentialism, " chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for his acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad", in other words, something uncertain grounded in a universe that is inherently thus. As Sarah points out, there's little better than those english words that mean both something and a concept almost exactly the opposite of that something.

And that's... one to grow on.

Hooray... I'm sick to my stomach...

Randi Rhodes and Air America Radio are possibly the last patriots left…

There’s so much wrong with Iraq right now, where the fuck to start.

Randi is reporting today that the US has been using Napalm in Falluja… a quick google search provides back up for this. Although the Pentagon apparently denied this last year, they also apparently admitted this last year (thanks to J Continuum fave Our use of napalm is also reported by the Sunday Mirror, the Independent, Al-Jazeera, and Alternet, both last year (where we tried to claim, apparently, that our technologically updated Mark 77 Napalm bombs were ‘remarkably similar’ to Napalm, but not napalm) and THIS year, in Falluja. (But hey, at least the media has done a great job of covering Falluja, right?) FUCKING. SICKENING.

Supposedly, there have been some calls before the UK House of Commons to take the US to task over this, described ever-so-Britishly as a “row” that insisted PM Blair take account of this and threaten to withdraw UK troops if such actions continued. Dollars’ll get you Pounds Sterling that this Napalm thing doesn’t break out into the open, much less get Blair to make any serious noises against Herr Bush.


Monday, November 15, 2004

Addendum: Helpful Source

One of the people on the website argued that the Green Party is out of step and not the right party, in part because it reflects "European"-style politics and didn't come organically from the US and that "Green" issues might work as a theme in Germany, but not here.

Well, my duckies, go to and you can see that the environment *is* important to people -- in fact, a majority of people (in 2002, granted, but I'm not sure that makes a big difference; it was in the depths of the economic downturn, afterall) said that NO economic cost was too high to pay for environmental quality and regulations should be made irregardless of this cost because of the importance of the environment. Now there IS such thing as "soft support" -- I'll say I support it, but you can pry my pocketbook from my cold, dead, fingers -- but you have to admit, this is an IMPRESSIVE LEVEL of soft support. Definitely more than enough of a base to work with.

And I'm not going to Google-research it now, but people, realize that the Internationalist Socialist/Communist Movement isn't a "European"-sprung construct (any more than most of "Western" Culture); just because we killed and jailed a bunch of our Internationalists after the Haymarket Riot doesn't make it any less US. (side note: I love Wikipedia) The continued erosion of this line of thought, beliefs, and values through subversion and accident (see great accounts in Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States (used copies from $10!)) has nothing to do with its genuine US-ness. The automobile was invented in Germany, after all, but 200 or so years later, no one would say it's not sufficiently US based. All we need to do is rediscover, not create out of whole cloth, the Green Progessive-ness here in the US. The seeds are there.

So Bad it's, well, Good


I hate to do it, as it's exactly the type of unproductive anger-mongering I've been decrying, but I have to say that Fuck the South is funny and worth the read.

For all 0 of my conservative readers, I completely agree that this is rude and viscious... but that doesn't mean it isn't full of facts. If you want to get angry, get angry at the man but think about the facts -- do you agree that they exist? And what does that mean if they are true (and they all are based on my research)?

For everyone else (all 3 of you), read and enjoy your guilty pleasure. Or for some of you not-so-guilty, you sarcastic pieces of...

In other news entirely, is a website dedicated to Nailing (taping) Theses on the direction the Democratic Party should take on the Glass Doors (and breaking the glass ceilings) of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters throughout the US. I'm not sure how effective taping them to any of the Brasilian parties' doors would be (even their Right-parties have "Democratic" "Socialist" and/or "Labor" in them), so I'll have to ask you all in the US to do double duty for me. I also posted on there under the thread Support the Green Party Instead. Long-time readers guess whether I was for or against this proposition.

Actually, I think an either/or is ultimately destructive. We shouldn't turn our backs on the Dems to be spiteful or on principle, except on the (to me) very pragmatic and common-sensical approach: don't vote for someone you don't believe in. Ok, everyone thought this was an important stop-gap election. But it didn't work, and that wasn't Nader's fault. So it appears to me that if we're going to lose anyway, or more importantly, win in the long-run, we have to start supporting only those who support our views. And support them explicitly. (More than one J-friend has used argument I used last year that we had to simply trust that Kerry didn't mean anything he said, for instance, about appointing anti-choice judges, drilling "everywhere but" ANWR, sending more troops to Iraq, etc. I think believing this cannot strictly be called "pragmatism", unless by pragmatism you mean "wistful thinking" or "desperate hope".)

Because here's the brass tacks ladies and germs: as long as a candidate knows that s/he will not lose his/her base, they can go and do whatever the fuck they want to. And they will -- i.e. Clinton and Op. Desert Fox, the Pharm. Plant at Darfur, the "Welfare Reform" Bill, the Farm Bill, the increased rate of lumber production (several times higher than lumber production under Bush!), the end of the release of yearly Federal Environmental Quality Reports, the lowest rates of improvements in Environmental Quality in 40 years, voting for the PATRIOT ACT, for the Iraqi War Resolution -- without the near-complete support of the Democrats, Bush COULD NOT have done all of this! Our "politically pragmatic" Democrats did -- but if they were "saving their big guns" or worried about losing an election and supported such things in order to "go with the flow" and fuck over the 60-80% of Dems *against* the Iraq War and PATRIOT ACT, i.e., then when the hell is something important enough to make a stand? If not for War and Civil Liberties, I think it's definitely time there were some repercussions -- and not just losing elections because 50% of the Republican Electorate was unininformed into voting for Bush -- but because the INFORMED Left decided not to support someone *working against our Progessive Interests.*

What's the matter with Kansas, they ask. I ask, What's the Matter with Progressives? (Why do WE vote against our own interests?)

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Kerry had the JoeMo

Have I already recommeded that everyone read Alexander Cockburn's post-election analysis yet? If not, go there now. And while you're at it, read at least 25% of the articles in Don't worry, they're not all about the tiresome topic of this past election. Though in regards to Cockburn's work, hopefully if you find this article to be snotty and overly snide by half, as one J-friend did, please look past this as much as you can into his research.

One of his most important points, in my opinion, is the fallacy of Kerry as the Senate's "#1 Liberal." My friend pointed out that perhaps he was farther right over his lifetime record -- with decades to be in Senate, he'd doubtlessly made lots of votes out of political pragmatism that would push him right (she doesn't believe that he should be blamed for the political pragmatism that she correctly points out is necessary to maintain high elective office, and that in the Prez's office he would've wielded his newly gained power for good -- needless to say, we disagree). But I found an important point -- the analysis of Kerry putting him in the middle of the increasingly-conservative Democrats (though not to the right of middle as I may have claimed at some point) was *only* from the 108th Congress -- i.e. his past term in the whole. The "most liberal" label apparently is only based on a slim cross-section of issues. Source material here. (Ed's note -- just checked that website -- with the end of the term, it appears Kerry is the 21st most liberal senator out of 48 Dems -- 10 or so places ahead of Joe Lieberman, who may be the best known as a hawkish Dem, though around 30th place he has many lesser-known senators below him; Miller of Georgia is as "liberal" as a Moderate Republican based on votes; Nelson of Nebraska is the most conservative of the remaining 47 Dem Senators from this term. The website's methodology is somewhat complex, it was developed by someone at the University of Houston, apparently. It (the methodology) seems kosher to me from casual glance -- also on Kerry, his attendance record for votes was 8% this year -- ok, duh, election year -- but was 36% in 2003, missing many crucial close votes that Cockburn lists in his article. Primary sources of analyses over at UH again; second source, on Kerry's attendance, for the Intelligence committee here on FactCheck.Org. On a sad side note, my freshwoman Dem Senator, Debbie Stabenow, is farther right than Kerry, in between him and Lieberman I think...)

So 21st most liberal senator, not quite as inspiring. And this is just for his most recent term -- my friend may have been right that his older, pragmatic votes may slip him farther right (and then the question would be over what that means for the Kerry of today -- would he have continued his random walk towards farther Left? (Ed's note -- I, for one, don't think so...).

I hope this doesn't seem like crowing -- it's not. I feel this is an important debate -- just like in 2000 when I was telling people Gore wasn't all that great or much better than Bush (which still inspires righteous indignation; Gore's boss, who most people think is more liberal, is still estimated to have killed more Iraqis than Bush in his first 4 years (remember Desert Fox and non-UN sanctioned bombing, plus the trade sanctions?). If, as the many articles I have read and linked to here for you all, are correct (and no one I know has disputed their research, just the interpretation of it, or rather, said "well, you can't think Kerry actually meant it [when he said all of those Right-ist things]") then not only do we need to keep agitating, WE need to do our homework as much as any of the least-informed Red Staters who we unproductively deride and whose mind we hope to change. If WE, too, are voting against our interests -- and experts like Chomsky and Zinn are buying into it too -- then we need serious, serious re-evaluation, including re-evaluation of this past election. Obviously, I don't think the argument is resolved, though my immense respect for Chomsky and Zinn has not made their arguments seem any less weak to me. But we must sort this out, and quickly -- if the ABB/Centrists are right, and we need to focus on just eliminating the Republican advantage at all costs, then we must convince those of us (i.e. me) of this on the facts (and not on "well, obviously they don't mean it when the spout right rhetoric -- possibly, but a flimsy basis for a political strategy). If those of us who believe that you can't support change by supporting those who oppose real change -- especially if they are only slightly less opposed to real change than their competitor, or in some ways more hawkish, cause more casualties, or are worse for (at least some of) the environment -- are correct, we need to convince more of the Center-Left to follow us out of the party, or at least into voting ONLY for those in party that represent enough of our views to be more clearly distinguishable in rhetoric AND reality than the Imperialist Republi/Crats.

So far, I've never heard an argument for Kerry refuting the facts as laid out, that seem to me to show that he -- and his would-be sherpa guide to centrism, Bill Clinton -- have not been almost as bad as Republicans in some areas and rather worse in others. At best, I would think this averages out to a close call -- one should not easily have been assumed to be a "big damned difference."

Let the argument continue... and tell me where I'm wrong. I can change! Really! All I ask is, you know, facts.

Extra bonus J-Continuum update
Other random cool stuff at Counterpunch, highlighted here for your satisfaction:
Cuba's Response to AIDS: A Model for the Developing World
Reviews Cuba's program and tremendous success at controlling AIDS (0.7% infection), and uncovers (what appear to be) the facts on the forced sanitoriums -- i.e. quarantine -- of those infected with AIDS. In any case, these sanitoriums are now voluntary (since 1993) and reportedly were always places providing food not rationed (as it is for the rest of the country) and counseling in depression and nutrition for those infected. Everything about it now is completely voluntary, and Cuba's program seems to be working -- apparently the model is so successful, the World Bank has sent a rep to Cuba (the US didn't) for their AIDS conference, saying (as reported by Edwin Krales in the article linked above)
...their view is that economic disaster is a fate worse than socialized medicine. She suggested that the developing world adopt Cuba's medical model as the strategy for fighting the pandemic.
. (Though my cynical side says to my rational side that if the World Bank supports it, there's got to be a secret evil catch to their (the WB's) intentions.)

Kerry's Enablers: The Clinton Cult Factor
Good article further analyzing the Clinton/Kerry axis of using Centrist Politics to make things Worse

Debating a Neo-Con
A GREAT article by a self-described "burned-out commie vet emaciated with an amoeba". He only provides a summary of the Neo-Cons argument -- assumedly because it breaks no ground -- but his amazing and excellent comments should be required reading for anyone who wants to learn about this whole "Changing The World" thing.

Why do they laugh at us?
A good, if somewhat light-weight, article on the growing derision of America -- gone are the Stupid Pols, Greasy Pakistanis, and Jibbering Chinamen -- the Ugly American is apparently the new joke the kids will be telling on the playgrounds in the rest of the world. (Though he doesn't use the term Ugly American, just to note. All ire at the term should be directed at me alone.)

Failing the Test of History in Iraq
Pretty self-explanatory -- reviewing why, in the light of history, our (government's) plans for Iraq não da (lit. "it won't give" -- it won't work or it won't be worth it in Portuguese jiria, mais ou menos).

And with that, I'm getting the hell to bed -- as should you. Sleep and dream of an organized, informed, determined Left.

"Rest well. And dream of Large Women.
--Westley to Fezzik in "The Princess Bride"

**ps. in case the title is cryptic, it's in reference to the fact Kerry is almost as conservative as Joe Lieberman, whose horrible primary campaign was waged with "JoeMentum", apparently.

First Annual J Continuum Contest

Ok, actual, this isn't really a contest and I don't plan on doing it annually. (Sort of like "Everything you are about to hear is true. And by true, I mean false." -- Leonard Nimoy on The Simpsons.)

I just read a, I don't know, startling? article at Anyone reading the site for more than 2 days or so (all three of you) will already have noted my counterpunch-obsession (though Portside also has had a lot of good articles I haven't spent much time reading). But, I think their analyses are right, and so I don't see any reason to stop my obsession.

All 3 of you prior readers will also realize now that I'm about to talk about something against Kerry. Well done. Award yourself 10 points on your Home Game Version of The J Continuum.

Here is an article discussing how, in fact, Clinton was worse than Bush on environmental policy, at least as far as tree felling goes (despite the "goodfact" name of the Healthy Forests Initiative, apparently, 1/5 the rate of the lumber per year that was generated in Clinton's first term has been felled under Bush -- 1.1 billion board feet/yr as opposed to 200 million board feet/year). Also, Frank (the author) asserts that more Iraqis died in Clinton's first four years than so far under Bush (not sure if he's counting sanctions here, though don't forget also that we had Operation Desert Fox and continued bombing in Iraq that was not approved of or under the aegis of the UN). Economic inequality under Clinton apparently increased the most it had for forty years.

Ah, yes, so the contest part. Since I already spend approximately WAAAAAAAYYYY to much time blogging and not enough researching non-blog related thesis work, I challenge any other readers to find the hard facts (realfact) behind Frank's article. Actually, it might be as easy as emailing him and asking his sources, I don't know. If I don't hear from others in the blogosphere, I'll take it on myself, but I'd really like to hear from "readers like you".


Tuesday, November 09, 2004

An Eye Like A Ripe Grape

Got your attention? That phrase is, if I remember correctly, one of the signs of the End Days from Islam -- the Anti-Christ will come, and you will know he is the Anti-Christ because, among other things, he will have an eye like a ripe grape. You wouldn't BELIEVE the amount of time we spent discussing what exactly "an eye like a ripe grape" would be like. At one point, our professor quite reasonably said that the Anti-Christ was not the only part of the signs of the End Days, and explaining exactly what his looked like was definitely not the most important part of the topic.

Speaking of End Days...

I bring this up because the progressive AND center- left, swayed by siren song of beating mediocrity (or stark horribleness perhaps) with mediocrity, voted en masse for a candidate who not only voted to confirm Antonin Scalia, but said he could see appointing "somebody with a different opinion" on abortion than pro-choice (as long as it didn't result in, his example, a Supreme Court with a majority inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade. I still haven't found the primary source Counterpunch.Org used, but here is the Washington Post repeating that he did, in fact say it.

Why is this a sign of end days? Because it's likely that a Republican will be, and would've been, the one to oppose confirmation of anti-choice judges. And this Republican is in line to be the Chair of the Judiciary Committee. That's right, Arlen Specter, being moderately pariahed right now, apparently "[made the comment] last week that anti-abortion judges would be unlikely to be confirmed by the Senate".

So we have a (defeated) Democratic presidential candidate who as prez may have appointed the next Antonin Scalia (now with more scariness!), a Republican Senator lined up for chairmanship essentially vowing that anti-abortion judges wouldn't get to the floor, the Christian Coalition essentially saying that this is *not* what they expected as a result of their fealty ("This isn’t what we worked for,” he said. “It sends the exact wrong message to the core of the Republican Party that helped win this election. No matter what Senator Specter says, there is a complete lack of trust between him and us now, no matter how much he tries to do damage control”), and a pro-choice Republican ex-Senator rejecting the question of whether there even IS a Christian Right, much less whether or not Bush now owes them political favors, and essentially accusing Bill Maher of being a gay-basher, Wyoming-basher, Christian-basher, and Republican-basher.

These are no sun running backwards in the sky (or ripe-grape eyes), but at least they're funnier signs of the apocalypse than last week.

(and now I'm really, really actually going to work on my thesis...)

Monday, November 08, 2004

Tapdancing around awful truths....

So much rage… Michael Moore’s “The Awful Truth” is so good; but so bad.

So brilliant. (See for yourself.)

Confrontation, unfortunately, even (perhaps especially) brilliant confrontation, will not work for us.

It should. One should be able to say “Look, Tobacco Company/Lobbyist/Security Guard, your product is killing people; shouldn’t you re-evaluate what you’re doing?”

But no one wants to be a killer. No one will engage you if they feel guilty (even if they ARE guilty). More proof of the moral relativism of the Right. (How’s that? Isn’t smoking about personal responsibility? Sure – as much the responsibility of tobacco companies for a) lying about the health problems for decades, as internal documents and common sense have shown, b) lying about the addictiveness of smoking, and c) marketing to children on purpose to generate lifetime addictees. Some measure of personal responsibility falls to the smoker who “chooses” to set foot on the road to addiction; but the argument that it’s all THEIR responsibility rests on one of three premises: 1) awwww, they should’ve known better than to believe what the companies told them, 2) well, companies always lie, so we can’t blame them for lying just like everyone else, and 3) well, bygones should be bygones. NONE of these is a responsible argument for why Tobacco should get away with lying without taking THEIR personal responsibility for it. They already have you say?... What about the tax breaks they’re getting this year, supposedly in exchange for “allowing” the FDA to regulate nicotine… except the nicotine regulation part of it was taken out of the bill…)

Just like it’s been found you can’t encourage safe sex by “scaring” people into it (USE CONDOMS OR YOU DIE! AIDS AIDS AIDS! doesn't work) because they people generally unconsciously push negativity out of their mind before sex, you can’t win an argument by demonizing, or often even lightly ridiculing your opponent.

Sarcasm is a sharp sword for the Left – it cuts both ways. (Interesting tidbit: an ex-girlfriend, when we were dating, asked me if the Right had comics like “Doonsebury” or “The Boondocks” – it occurred to me that they probably didn’t, because comics like those lie usually on the irony of some Right foibles because we find them intellectually inconsistent; the things “they” often find ironic about us is, for example, our concern for parenting yet our stereotypical parental permissiveness. I speculated that a Right Doonsebury would be something we think of as POSITIVE, like a mom coming home and seeing her 18 year old daughter with a piercing, or coming out as a lesbian, and the mom saying “Great! I’m glad you’re your own person” or something like that… turns out, this pretty much IS their version of it – the only Right “political” comic strip she could find was “The Leftersons”, about, natch, naively permissive parents too intent on useless social causes. Make your own judgements here.)

Oh, but back to “The Awful Truth” – after seeing 3 of them, I wonder if they do more harm than good? Yes, it feels REALLY GOOD to see those who’ve lost their vocal cords to smoking sing “Voicebox Christmas Carols” to smoking lobbyists and execs, but what do you bet that we not only won no points with them (to be expected), but lost points with those security guards, and secretaries, and police officers who had to push Michael Moore out? While we who agree with Michael see the humor, and get enraged (or at least, my blood was/is boiling), I bet those functionaries just saw it as a hassle, and perhaps even had their heart hardened to “the cause.” The banality of evil, if you will.

As tiresome and logically unnecessary, the Left must “validate” the starting point of the Right before we start; the internalization of post-modernism by the mainstream means before you can argue about who is correct, you have to acknowledge everyone’s right to their opinion, and reassure them you respect it, before arguing against it WITHOUT mocking them (I lost a high school debate that my team AND the other team thought we won; the judges thought we were too “snotty” and awarded it to the other team; when I asked them about why, they couldn’t think of a logical reason – “I guess I just felt that they won,”) (also, I’ve taught the class “Biology and Human Affairs” – believe you me, students hate the idea that they are factually wrong, and even those most stridently against moral relativism will unconsciously resort to it, saying that “they have a right to their opinion”, or “you don’t respect them”, or even “they get points taken off if they don’t agree with your [political] views” – all arguments that may be valid, but many treat them as if they are always valid whenever they are argued against; as someone said, everyone has a right to their own opinion; they don’t have the right to their own facts – the inobtainability of “realfact” being a whole ‘nother issue…)

Achem. So. Yes. My point here is, unless I’m wrong, I think we face a very real choice between having to, in soothing words and pliant tones, ease our fiercest opponents into debates, using the dulcet sounds of mutual relativistic respect, before we can engage in “winning hearts and minds.” Sadly, I think the only way “The Awful Truth”-style confrontationalism can work is if we start a violent uprising (and as Sally Forth said, “Revolutions can be messy”). Of course, it might also work if it creates more new activists than it turns off people on the other side. A balance of the equation I don’t think anyone’s done… especially Michael Moore. (Well, other caveat – the guy who got a pancreas, and the change in Humana’s policies (supposedly) to allow diabetics pancreatic transplants – if this kind of turn around on a small victory was common to “The Awful Truth” – that satisfying result offsets some additional enemies, imho.)

What to do? What to do?

”The truth is, folks, that jokes in actuality defuse criticism of a politician rather than erode his support.”

“…so maybe I’m punkin’ you all…”

--Jon Stewart (from a Rolling Stone interview -- full version not online)

Great Analyses by people who just happen to agree with me, in part or in whole

For reasons surely based solely on quality and not on the fact that they agree with me (well, no, seriously, I think these are very good analyses AND are better than the ones I don't agree with), I highly recommend the following several links:

Voting Without the Facts (by Bob Herbert, who I've never heard of before but will be following closely now, on; registration required)

The Radical Centrist Fringe (on J Continuum Blog-friend Geoffland)

Why Americans Hate Democrats—A Dialogue: To win, you have to fight (by Laura Kipnis, on J Continuum news mainstay,

Of course, the facts as presented in Herbert's and Kipnis' articles have to addressed... er, delicately, imho. See the next post to see why (though probably in an only semi-coherent form).

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Interludes and Examinations... Oh, and A Call to Arms

Oh, yeah…

Hooray for Air America Radio (AAR?) – if I’m not mistaken, one of the most downloaded programs on the internet, and a better ratings-earner than Bill O’Reilly’s radio show (ok -- found old source showing that they were projected to out-compete Rush in April 2004(registration required). Don’t hear any news stories about it these days, do you though? At least I can't find any.) All those “this will never work, there’s no market for liberal radio, these people are delusional and don’t know what they’re doing” – where did all of those stories go? Have they all admitted they were wrong while I wasn't looking? No? ...Sigh.

(Other only partially informative and out of date link here showing that Air America raised the station it was on two places in rankings in Denver -- an increase of about 5,000 people -- over the two months it was on. Gee, aren't we lucky the liberal media is so closely following the fortunes of a genuinely liberal, yet genuinely fact-based radio station? I'm practically weeping at our good fortune.)

So it (AAR) seems to be a success to me. More importantly, now that I have internet at home again, I can listen to it, and verify that it still seems like a success to me in the most important way – despite Franken and many of the the other hosts’ DLC-centrism, they still use the facts.

All of this Democratic soul-searching that I’ve been reading the past few days seemed a little… misguided to me. I mean, we lost, and we lost big in terms of popular vote and seats in Congress, and now all of the party faithful are asking, “What did we do wrong? What must we change to win again?” Of course, as Tom Tomorrow points out in the article Why Americans Hate Democrats, A Dialogue: The party's message is low risk, low reward,
and J blog-friend Geoff have pointed out, asking “why does the US hate Democrats?” is RIDCULOUS and emblematic of our problems in allowing others to frame questions unfavorably, considering at least 55 million US citizens DON’T feel that way. (Not to mention the millions of people who didn't vote who are usually assumed to be the poor, the minorities, and others who feel they are ignored by the mainstream but would otherwise be "Democrats".

And all of this “moral values” claptrap seemed a bit off to me too, and solid analyses in Slate and the NY Times (in op-eds by David Brooks and by Gary Langer, ABC director of polling), among others, were able to articulate why I felt that way. “Moral values”, put simply, is an ill-phrased category for a response to the question of “your most important issue as a voter”! All of the other exit-poll questions were specific, i.e. jobs, economy, Iraq, War on Terrorism – these all have relatively unambiguous meanings; but moral values? The fact that the News Media is interpreting this as Gays and God (and maybe Guns) in the face of good counter-analyses (see Geoff, Slate, and the NYTimes), in face of the fact that Bush didn’t do that much better in anti-gay-ballot-intitiative states than he and Republicans have done in the past, but made big gains in other states on national security issues, the fact that only 8% of people said they voted for their candidate based specifically on religious issues, and the fact that if you were a strong Bush supporter but felt that the other options didn’t adequately represent your reasons, “Moral values” could be a catch-all – the News Media is doing us the great disservice of making that great, classic faux-liberal argument, “We’re just morally superior, and they don't appreciate it, and that’s why we lost.”

Now, granted, I think we’re morally correct on the issues where we stand up for gay rights, and against invading sovereign countries on false pretexts to depose a dictator we formerly supported and supplied with weapons, but that doesn’t mean we’re superior; if anything, it means we have had a terrible time doing a terrible job of making our argument. And gee, with a candidate unwilling to take a strong stand on God's place in government (hint: S/He is NOT and should not be Sec. of Defense) or Gays, much less against the War, against the PATRIOT ACT, and against the incoherent War on Terrorism, I wonder why?

Which brings us back to Al Franken: without being judgemental (as he was, a bit) about it, those that voted for George W. Bush, by a majority, had a fundamental misunderstanding, or at least, a fundamentally unsupported view of the War on Terrorism. A majority of them STILL thought that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11, that WMDs were found in Iraq, and that, in fact, the final Duelfer Report to the government, saying that NO WMDs were found, in fact, CONFIRMED that WMDs were found*. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – from the conservative tactics distracting from the fact the GW doesn’t seem to have actually fulfilled his duty to the National Guard to the fact that some of the evidence for this was shaky or forged (despite much STRONG evidence backing it up and near-universal admission of of the underlying facts), to the “Global Test” meme (where Kerry basically said when we engage in pre-emptive war, we need to be able to prove it’s necessary and that our evidence is true, to which GW, almost literally, said “We need to pass some kind of truth test? I don’t think so”, or how 'bout "We don't need no stinkin' test"?**), to the fucking Swift Boat Veterans (why in dear goodness’ name did Kerry let that float unrefuted for so long?) – objectively speaking, the Bush campaign used more lies/obfuscations/errors where the facts were concerned than the Democrats, and used them more consistently, more effectively, and in the end, more convincingly than Kerry could sell his milquetoast version of the truth.

This wasn’t a problem over GAYS (Geoff and others point out that 60% of US citizens support either civil unions or same-sex marriage; the amendments were primarily over marriage, even though some also banned civil unions), this was a problem over framing, and our (the Left, or more specifically, Kerry) inability to make the truth sexy (or really, in Kerry’s case, even acknowledge that the truth might be a useful tactic even if it’s viewed as “negativism”).

(Franken just pointed out that most Bush supporters believed Bush is for the Kyoto Treaty – I have to find his numbers! He also pointed out that most supporters believed that if there weren’t WMDs, and if Iraq wasn’t involved in 9/11, we shouldn’t have been in Iraq – INCRÍVEL! I really have to find his sources.) (...done: The Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) Report from August has the results of over 40% of people believing various things demonstrably false about Iraq... articles discussing it here and here.)

Franken’s guest right now of course is conflating this with the idea that we think “Red-Staters” (is anyone else beginning to really hate the red-state/blue-state meme too?) are stupid; which, is easy, because many of “us” are heard to say this in real life. Doh. But frankly, thinking someone is wrong, or was conned, is not the same as thinking they’re stupid – I think people believing the things above were conned by an extremely efficient Republican machine – just like I think many liberals were conned by the relatively inefficient Democratic machine to vote for a guy who doesn’t strongly stand for what we (Progressives) believe in. In this case, I think liberals voted against their interests as well, just like “Kansasians”. (Franken’s guest is decrying the condescension in the title of the book “What’s Wrong With Kansas?”. Although I agree with Franken that there is a non-condescending point to the book – that people are voting against their economic interests out of perceived moral similarity with the Republicans – I think his guest is right that the title doesn’t fully express this free of any kind of derision, without the “What the fuck is wrong with Kansas?” connotation and not just “I think the analysis of Red State Kansans is somewhat in error despite their wisdom as fellow US citizens.” And of course, his guest’s point as well that they DO believe that “moral issues” are more important than their pocketbook is well taken; I think the extended argument needs to be the Republicans by and large only give lip service to the important parts of morality, say, helping others and not invading sovereign countries and killing their civilians, and not lying and not accumulating unsightly wealth, in favor of nice, easy, issues like “gays bad; Bible says so.” Not to mention that religious freedom should go both ways – they should have the right to be very conservative, and others should have the right… not to be very conservative.) (And then there's the whole lying/misconception thing to go back to...)

But until the same type of massive pre-election blitzes of evilness and deception are shown in the Kerry Camp, such as has been pointed out from the Bush Camp -- including further examples such as passing out leaflets saying Kerry would ban the Bible if elected (also pointed out on Franken’s Show), the numerous accounts of Republicans either refusing to register people wanting to vote for Kerry, or “accidentally” signing them up as registered Republicans, or the piles of Dem. Registration cards ending up in dumpsters – we were Outfoxed kids; their tactics won, and their tactics were lies. And I’ll stand by this barring proof to the contrary – proof that people didn’t think there were WMDs, that Bush voters weren't by and and large convinced that Iraq was involved in 9/11, etc. We realized these issues were being distorted YEARS ago, but we let it fall by the wayside, in our rush to jump behind Kerry and his absolute refusal to critique the real problems behind the Bush Administration, and his talk about “reporting for duty” and being a Viet Nan Vet and… what the hell did he talk about of substance? Even I can’t clearly remember.

Wake up kids. Based on THE FACTS, and based on PRINCIPLE, and based on STRATEGY, the key is NOT to move right, to move left, to sell ourselves, to whore ourselves, to fight dirty, to fight more clean simply as electioneering TACTICS – the NEED is to FIGHT our GENUINE FIGHTS. Kerry didn’t fight, he defended. He didn’t stand for our principles, he squirmed from them. We need to say what we mean, mean what we say, and live or die by our issues – if we can’t find a Democrat that is FOR same-sex equality and AGAINST draconian PATRIOT measures, then dammit, we DON’T support him/her next time. We find someone who will MAKE THE CASE for our beliefs, and MAKE THE CASE for the truth. I don't believe in the various "tactics" put forward by many of the Slate-ers, or others, because they are just that -- based in tactics and not in strategy or beliefs. Will Saletan thinks we need to show we can speak morality too -- and kill terrorists just like everyone else without worrying about what the int'l community thinks (Will -- your hard-nosed swift-sword-of-death conservative underbelly is showing...)

I CAN HANDLE (losing based on) THE TRUTH! But what’say let’s try that – because we haven’t, we didn’t, and we lost. We had the strongest machine in recent memory – but we had a candidate as unwilling to call the President a liar when he knew he was lying -- unfortunately, just like "journalist" and my current nominee for "traitor to the truth" Jim Lehrer is. We can’t continue to let the Republicans get away with the same horrible, mushy post-modern relativism they accuse “intellectuals” of using – of our side saying something, and their side saying something, and leave the truth to sort itself out. As we all know, Kerry had plenty of ammunition – but he feared calling Bush a liar, despite ample evidence that he WAS.

This is the true battle. Anything else is DLC boilerplate or a distraction. We can’t decide that playing better politics is going to get us any farther as long as we continue to let all the petty lies (and some big, important, cardinal lies) accumulate without response. I am willing to lose based on what may be decried a bleeding-heart liberal “nuanced” wimpy unilateralist one-worlder agenda – AS LONG AS IT REALLY REPRESENTS MY AGENDA. If we lose based on the facts, it means we have to keep arguing. If we lose based on lies, it means we have to find someone who’s not too craven to call a lack of WMDs a lack of WMDs.

Let us live or die by our values, and by fighting them in their real terms and not in News Media-controlled memes. That’s something I’m willing to go down in the trenches for, and who knows, we might even make progress. But we can't do worse standing on our own values than we've now done standing on a guy one step removed from a President who could barely be farther removed from our views. So,


*Reading the Duelfer report's key findings also turn up this tidbit: He concluded the Hussein's nuclear weapon program-related-activities (to use David Kay's much trumpeted phrase) were primarily aimed at deflecting IRAN; "balancing Israel and the other Arab powers" he states were "secondary" goals -- so where does using them against the US come in? 3rd place, or maybe 4th place after "To Build an Authentic Diorama of Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove"? This is great, just great, not only are Bushies misinterpreting their own results on the presence of a threat, but even if the threat were present, the US isn't in the TOP 3 of the threat list of their own assesssor.... WTF, I say, WT Royal F.

** From Saletan's article:
...don't have to argue the point anymore, because last night, Bush confirmed it. Here's what he said at a rally in Oregon, according to a White House transcript:

Once again, last night, with a straight face, the senator said—well, shall we say, refined his answer on his proposed global test. That's the test he would administer before defending America. After trying to say it really wasn't a test at all, last night he once again defended his approach, saying, I think it makes sense. (Laughter.) The senator now says we'd have to pass some international truth standard. The truth is we should never turn America's national security decisions over to international bodies or leaders of other countries. (Applause.)

You heard that right. The president explicitly refuses "to pass some international truth standard." Because evidence is the fundamental test applied in France as well as in the United States, Bush thinks he shouldn't have to back up his claims or decisions with evidence.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Reflections and Recriminations

I have a lot of thoughts on this just past election (most of them virulently against the type of things said on Slate and new J Continuum blog-friend HopefulCynic), but I will save it for another time.

I just want to say, in a bit of a serious, somber, but also snide way, What did we gain in supporting Kerry????

By "We" of course I mean the Progressive Left, those of us off the Democratic Leadership Council's scale, those 60% of "Democrats" (I no longer count myself as a Democrat) who opposed the Iraq War all along and had no voice in our country's leadership (let's see, Dennis Kucinich was starkly against the war, and he's the politician given the most deference by the media and the people, right?). We supported a 'compromise" candidate to win the battle, hoping to have a stop-loss on the way to a real war strategy.

In all of my arguments against Kerry, I completely forget an important one: An "Anybody-But-Bush" approach has little or *no* value in the case of a Kerry *loss*. We lost even more than we lost from 2000, where Gore wasn't so strongly backed by even those "Democrats" strong-willed and intellectually honest enough to call themselves Socialists, Liberals, Communists, Anarachists, or other "Bad Names" in the US (like "Reader of Chomsky").

What would we have gained had the True Left (or Far Left or Real Liberals or Progressives or Greens) went all out for Nader (or pushed Kerry left or gone for Kucinich or Sharpton)? Can you IMAGINE the heartening feeling we wouldn've gotten for having a real liberal at even 30%? What if Nader got 20%? Or Kerry, running on a stringently anti-imperialism platform still got 49%? GREAT! "Our" views would've been heard, and we would've seen we shouldn't be so DAMNED afraid of them! (Tim Noah of Slate dismisses the idea of the Democrats moving farther to the left -- as well as farther to the right -- because it's clear that the US is moving to the right and left ideas won't win -- maybe yes, maybe no, but hey, no one big's made a big argument for them, remember? Not to mention the 1000s or perhaps MILLIONS of poor, minority, and/or women voters who just DIDN'T TURN OUT -- apparently Anyone But Bush didn't seem to reassure them the Demopublican Elite wouldn't continue to FUCK THEM OVER. Hey Tim, maybe we SHOULD ACTUALLY move left, or at least figure out why those in our society WORST OFF tend to VOTE THE LEAST. Could it be 100% of campaign rhetoric aimed at the "middle class" and approximately 0% at the "lower" class, the poor, the disenfranchised, the inner city, the farmer being squeezed out by Big Government (Republicrat) Policies of subsidizing agrobusiness???? For cripe's sake, Noah.)

One definite gain of this election was the apparatus of groups like MoveOn (though the Republican tarring of them as radical groups makes my head throb -- they're as radical as the Democratic Leadership Council for cripe's sake... which is to say, NOT radical; CERTAINLY not socialist as Rush Limbaugh and Hannity and similar talking heads tarred them; you realize how doubly bad that is? FIRST, it's already granting "socialist" as an evil thing, which I don't believe I am, conflating it with the State Capitalism of the USSR which had oh so little to do with the actual diversity of thought in socialist philosophy, and SECOND, MoveOn is NOT socialist, even if *I* think it *should* be...) Michael Moore, MoveOn, and others mobilized thousands of voters. This is good. I can only hope and assume they also moved voters to not just vote for Kerry out of reactionism, but to Get Involved and Do Their (Electoral) Homework.

So good things there. (Though as Tom Tomorrow on Slate points out, we REALLY have to stop letting conservatives set the terms of the debate -- read this with me again -- MOVEON IS NOT RADICAL, IT IS CENTRIST. And while we're at it -- this is a dangling thread for HopefulCynic and others -- MICHAEL MOORE AND F 9/11 WERE NEVER SHOWN TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE FACTUAL ERROR -- that is, Richard Clarke said afterwards that he *did* clear the Saudis for flight personally after 9/11, though it is my understanding he said differently in his book, making this a dubious factual error -- THAT IS, YOU CAN DISAGREE WITH HIS INTERPRETATION AND IMPLICATIONS, BUT STOP CALLING IT LYING DEMAGOGIC PROPAGANDA, especially without any kind of proof or nuanced analysis. Just cuz you hate it doesn't mean it's wrong, just like just cuz we hate W's policies doesn't make his backers stupid. (I may believe they are horribly incorrect, but that is different and far less condescending, neh? After all, they believe the same of me.)

All this is to say, a defeat with a candidate we believed in would've shown us there is strength in our views, we just need to work even more on convincing people. (Though of course the DLC and it's ilk probably would've and probably will always view any loss, or any win for that matter, as reason to move right -- an idea that, as Tim Noah points out, only even works on paper if you assume there is a limit to how far right the Republicans can move in response, a dubious prospect.)

Ignore, for god's sake, ignore all of those who say this proves that the Left's Agenda is Not America anymore. It is not 59 million US citizens, but hey, you know what, it IS 55 million of us. Hey, if you believe the studies, it's FAR MORE THAN THAT, in that the poor, minorities, non-voting women, and young voters have been repeatedly shown to skew Left; so it's LIKELY that culturally, we're STILL in the majority (though of course highly debateable), it's just that the majority of that, er, majority, doesn't vote because they haven't seen any real help for their conditions since, oh, maybe Nixon (who actually had some of the best policies on Race Relations of our presidents, and perhaps good policies on poverty as well; it was he who hired Maya Angelou as his advisor on race relations, not Kennedy, for example). This is NOT a GOOD THING.

I don't know if we can "win", I don't know if we can convince others that our agenda is superior and more in the spirit of the values we profess to believe in (religious freedom should include atheism, neh? How many atheist politicians do we have? Democracy would imply we wouldn't have invaded, or at least not stayed, in a country where 75% of the populace wants us gone; it would imply we wouldn't have had ProConsul Bremer dictating that partial elections were in fact democracy in progress and not anathema to democracy; we wouldn't have 1000s of dead foreign nationals on our hands, from the Sandinistas to Iranians during the Coup to the Kurds Hussein gassed while acting under our aegis with "weapons of mass destruction" supplied by US... and on and on....) I don't know if we can convince them that we can't kill every terrorist, for good, such that no terrorists ever arise again, such that we don't further inflame rage against us, such that we don't worsen the very conditions in the world that do not necessarily GENERATE extremism, Islamic or otherwise, but AIDE and ABET them in finding recruits, in taking root and prospering. I don't know if we can convince them that, logically, John Kerry was RIGHT in arguing to reduce terrorism to a NUISANCE, for the simple fact that you can't kill a method, you can't kill an IDEA -- terrorism is a tactic, and winning it completely as Bush wants to do means not only killing all terrorists, but killing all people who would THINK to use terrorism, or detaining them, or spreading "democracy" in a way FAR better and FAR DIFFERENT than in Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries sagging under the weight of our ineptitude, if you believe Bush's theory, which is of coruse bunk because DEMOCRACY PER SE doesn't seem to make people better off or happier, and certainly not FREE MARKETS or CAPITALISM, but substantive EQUALITY -- which is no more common in democracies than in autocracies it seems to me.

But I do know -- at the conclusion of all of that rambling -- that we can't hope to win ground for our ideals if we fight instead on the idea of averaging our ideals with "theirs" -- we may not be right, we may only be partially right, we may be all right or all wrong, but the only way to determine reality is not to fence off along partisan lines, nor is it to become the party whose ideals we oppose, but to have a genuine debate on our differences. To debate best tactics in "the war on terrorism", to debate the SANITY of the war on terrorism. And we may lose -- as good ideas often do -- but losing in and of itself is not a refutation of what we believe, and we must start to realize that. If we don't, all is lost and we have learned nothing.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Jon Stewart Sez: Funk you very much.

Hmm... actually, I think it's George Clinton who says Funk you very much.


Thanks to all my actual readers who stuck around through the dry spell of blogging -- sadly, I can garuntee it will continue (garuntee is the one word I can never, ever spell) as I continue through my studies here in Brasil. I will try and post as often as possible, but as procrastination is one of my brightest talents, I've been trying not to use the blog towards that end rather than my research (no, no, and Warcraft III will do nicely...)

But, I just saw the clip of Jon Stewart laying the smack-down, the funk-bomb, the in-your-face, the slap-with-the-big-swiniging-dick, the kick-in-the-balls on CNN's Crossfire.

Mr. Carlson, who is your daddy?

Ok, sorry for the rude, crude obnoxious lead-in, but WOW. Stewart has been ready to burst for months, and the time apparently came.

I have many thoughts on this (including the theme I very much like of Jon Stewart as a real life The Fool in King Lear; as my beloved erstwhile Shakespeare professor would say "Rubric for the Day: Speaking TRUTH to Power: License and the Fool in the Royal Court".

As follows (comment by J reposted from here. (Link to JS on Crossfire Transcript here, and to video here.)

What Carlson -- and E-boy and others -- all look over is that Stewart is an equal-opportunity soft-baller. True, he has shifted into a MUCH more attackful banter if he thinks his guest is full of shit -- the Sen. from Texas, for example, and the guy who wrote "The Connection" (btw Osama bin Laden and Hussein).

But if you look back, two things:
a) This is only recent, and only sometimes -- he was pretty nice to the Democratic and Republican National Chairpersons both, not questioning their demagogery overmuch, not challenging them, having a nice conversation about life and the election and letting all the little white lies of both go without notice. If you look back further -- he has almost NEVER been hard-hitting before this year, which must represent a new level of frustration to the poor man. I mean, Ann Coulter was on his show, and he treated her like she was as reasonable a person as, I don't know, Sandra Day O'Connor. Which brings us to the second point...
b) Due to either being a suck-up, or, equally likely, a man somewhat intimidated by heights he never thought (or, imho, wanted) to obtain, simply by voicing what he feels is true and funny, he gets SCARED with big names. Watch him & Karen Hughes -- his nose was up her butt as much as Kerry's!


He doubtlessly would be scared of Bush, too, were Bush somehow on the show, and would softball him. But Karen Hughes -- the HEIGHT of political hackery, and Ann Coulter, the height of hate-spewing psuedo-intellectual non-sequitirs and controversy, gets a free pass as well.

No, if you look at TDS, Stewart has been equally nice to everyone in the past -- and these days, equally savage to those that come and lie (i.e. untruths in his house).

I'd bet you my last dollar that if Begala had not had the GOOD SENSE to shut up, and instead defended what he did, he would be taken down a peg with Carlson (though Begala is slightly less testy, making a drag-out fight unlikely even he stayed in the fray). But Begala knew he could gain nothing unless he a) prostrated himself before the truth and admitted all the "news" he's ever done has been just this side of an SNL skit of the news, i.e. bullshit, or b) shut the hell up, because while Stewart might be an equal-opportunity challenger, if Begala spoke no words, he could tell no lies for Carlson to debunk.

And whatever you think of JS's comportment, is it not for a moment a shame, or suspicious, or looney, that Carlson didn't challenge Stewart on the FACTS? His form of "debate" was a) stop lecturing b) be funny c) you were a suck up to Kerry on your non-news show d) stop lecturing e) what do you think of an irrelevant sex scandal? f) stop lecturing.

Hey, Carlson -- while you might have brought Stewart on as a "spice of life" segment, WHY IN THE HELL ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT A "LECTURE"-LIKE DISCOURSE ON A SUPPOSEDLY INFORMATIVE SHOW? Fine, it wasn't what you'd planned -- but it isn't like this is The Bozo Show (let fly sarcastic ripostes here), where politics would catch everyone flat footed. He wanted to discuss realpolitik -- is that so foreign that you can't recover?

Oh wait, you did. It was vitally important that the US, in this heated and important election season, know about Bill O'Reilly's sex life.

Thank you for reminding me what fake news looks like.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Anyone who can get the phrase "Bush & Cheney's Excellent Adventure" into the popular lexicon will be my personal hero.*

Second best will be if anyone can tell me if they find it somewhere else (coolest would be in the mainstream media).

*Hey, it could happen. It took a year, but I convinced my friends to start using "big fat ass" as a complement in college, i.e. "You passed the course? You are a big fat ass!"

Hell, handbasket. Handbasket, hell.


I always hate to actually use the "hell in a handbasket" phrase, cuz, you know, as bad as things are, they're very rarely uniquely bad in terms of history.

Perhaps they aren't right now, in terms of ages of civilizations.

But in terms of recent lifetimes...

I'm not in the US right now, so I can't fully appreciate the absolute horror most of my friends and family are expressing right now. I don't even get CNN here yet. Of course, I can imagine the horror, both because of the election down here (it seems two candidates for prefect -- mayor -- who just happen to be down in the polls are accusing the current prefect's party of vast campaign malfeasance. What I have yet to see is one, any, SINGLE shread of evidence in this, the second-to-last week before elections here), and because of how bad it was before I left, I can imagine how horribly intolerable it is now. Even NPR and BBC get less good (horrible) during election years.

Meanwhile, we join our heroes in Iraq, where there certainly is a most un-pretty how-dee-do.

A really good overall take on the coverage here on (my favorite, Today's Papers of course. I can't believe I used to not like this feature. Of course, it didn~t used to be this good, perhaps.)

Also, splendidly horrible stuff here (really, truly, breath-takingly horrible -- can we all take a deep breath now and stop calling the ACLU crazy commie alarmists?)*

Also, a link to a Fray post that is really good on its own merits, but should be read by everyone just for its use (creation?) of the phrase, "Bush and Cheney's Excellent Adventure".

However, I think if we've learned anything from Bush and Cheney's Excellent Adventure, it's that good intentions, once implemented, aren't necessarily in one's best interests. That is, bringing Democracy to Iraq through force doesn't, by definition, improve the lives of either Americans or Iraqis.

Rarely has the phrase "Read them, and weep" been truer.


*No? Really? <...> Sigh. Yeah, I didn't think so.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Brief Update

Fixed some links in the previous two pieces, in case anyone was worried.

Also, thought it worth it to bring this quote back to the top of the page (it is from an earlier post, quoted from Alexander Cockburn on

"I agree that Bush should be kicked out of the White House, and if I lived in a swing state I would consider voting Democratic. But I don't believe that will be meaningful unless there emerges in the United States a significant anti-empire movement. In other words, if we beat Bush and go back to "normal," we're all in trouble. Normal is empire building. Normal is U.S. domination, economic and military, and the suffering that vulnerable people around the world experience as a result. This doesn't mean voters can't judge one particular empire-building politician more dangerous than another. It doesn't mean we shouldn't sometimes make strategic choices to vote for one over the other. It simply means we should make such choices with eyes open and no illusions. This seems particularly important when the likely Democratic presidential candidate tries to out-hawk Bush on support for Israel, pledges to continue the occupation of Iraq, and says nothing about reversing the basic trends in foreign policy."


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Other things -- Kerry: Not Doing So Bad (Maybe) and One More Reason to Not Vote for Kerry (I knew you couldn't wait)

Part the First:

DailyKos, a new favorite blog of mine, has some good stuff on the recent polling. I'm sure the looming spectre of Bush winning is not the only reason my friends and family back home are variously trying to learn portuguese in order to move down here with me or trying to convince me that it really is time to cut bait with Nader; I'm sure a lot of it is also the media saturation of having to think constantly about someone you loathe (in the case of most of my friends, Bush).

But here on DailyKos are several good threads with the theory that Gallup's poll, which shows Kerry 11 points behind, is possibly flawed, certainly an outlier, and that all of the polls may simply be lagging behind significant retreats in the gains Bush has made (that would be nice, for me as well as for the kids back home). At the heart of the matter, in part, is that Gallup assumes more Republicans will turn out than Democrats for this election -- and also apparently do not consider people who didn~t vote last year to be "likely voters" -- which would exclude the theorized large number of (mostly liberal) people who have come off the bench for this election. Read on and decide for yourself...

Also, a tidbit I had been pretty gleeful about but now am utterly incapable of finding, was an article that reported a survey or some other type of research indicated that while most people abroad hoped Kerry would win, few if any thought that meant life would get any better for them or that foreign policy would change noticeably. However, has many other articles discussing the Bush/Kerry problem, and I heartily recommend them, having read only a couple. Hopefully, the rest aren't all horrible or something.

Besides the what I consider numerous arguments showing that a Kerry presidency will not better the world -- only better the rhetoric -- I have what I think, hope, is a deeper point. People, i.e. Chomsky & Zinn, say that under a Kerry presidency, there is at least hope that he will change in response to the public, whereas under a Bush presidency, there is no hope.

I think they are incredibly wrong, and have misread the situation.

We have seen, time after time, Bush shifting positions -- his stances on Korea, China, Taiwan, Israel, Palestine, Homeland Security, Commissions, and a slew of issues on Iraq.

Why did he switch? Why, at some moment, did he back down (though claiming the entire time not to be backing down)?

The same reason he switched from not supporting an anti-gay amendment to supporting it.

He was afraid he would lose this election.

Bush has whorishly clung to whatever position he could best exploit to remain popular. Whether or not his advisors knew that stubborness would go over so well, I don't believe for a moment his "principled stands" of never, ever (admitting to) changing his mind come from an honest place; or rather, that if it weren't working it wouldn't be scrapped.

Bush knows that what he's doing is working for him. And he seems to be right, insofar as he's even if not ahead of Kerry at this point. But again, does anyone here have any doubt that Bush wouldn't find a way to move his position, or even become a "nuanced flip flopper" if he & Co. thought it would work to their (electoral) advantage? Of-course-fucking-not.

Now, many of my friends are saying that even if Bush loses, he'll win, because the Repubs are so evil/crafty. While I certainly believe they are doing everything possible to sabotage the election beforehand (i.e. being in bed with Diebold, the continuing problems with people wrongfully expunged from voting rolls in Florida, etc.), I don't think they will be able to steal it if they actually, publicly lose it, i.e. steal it after the fact like last time. While I'm not confident Kerry is a better "strategerist" than Gore, assumedly, hopefully, he wouldn't go Gore's crazy milquetoast way and only recount a select number of places -- research has shown Gore would've won a statewide Florida recount, but not the limited recounts he actually asked for.

But I have no more confidence in the Bush team's complete god-like genius now than when people said "even if they don't find WMDs in Iraq, they'll find some." After all, GHWB was CIA head, right? They could find a way to plant that shit.

Ain't happened. For two reasons I think -- they believed their own press ("everybody thought they had WMDs" -- give me a fucking break) and also it's very logistically difficult, and not that hard to expose.

Similarly, while I am SURE they are creating conditions for a fixed race, I think should it shift significantly Kerry's way, it will be his to lose. That is, if he, like Gore, chooses a challenge in such a way that even were it carried out, he would lose, then I think the GOP might be able to take another after-the-fact victory; Gore managed, as they say, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. (Was it truly worth it to avoid looking petty, to lose the election?)

There WILL be irregularities. It looks like it will probably be close. And the GOP has any number of harrassment, subterfugeristic strategeries, and other ploys (like the true ploy, outlined in Eric Alterman's "What Liberal Media" (but documented in Bush campaign tax documents, so any conservatives who are here by accident or something, there IS source material to back up liberal claims) of bringing people from OUTSIDE OF FLORIDA to stage protests in front of the Florida government about the FLORIDA recounts).

While I'm alternately called too cynical and too naive by friends, I think that in a close election, if Kerry keeps the pressure on in a way wholly unlike Gore, he can win. Last time, Gore had the facts on his side but not the stones. This time, I have a hard time imagining the Supreme Court finding for Bush again. It left a bad taste in many of their mouths -- especially Sandra Day O'Connor -- and I don't think anyone outside of the big 3 -- Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas, the Boy Wonder -- would want to go down in history as having decided two presidential elections for the same guy. No, they would either avoid this hot potato or find in some way to not decide it conclusively. And seriously, I think the left would seriously go on an apeshit riot if it came to the Supreme Court again. I'm not entirely sure what kind of result that would lead to.

But my point here is this: in this election, it is largely irrelevant what president wins. You heard me. Bush has showed himself to be a pollwatcher as much as any other freakin' president, and he *follows where the polls go*. When HASN'T he? He's been able to do what he's doing because the country is split slightly in his favor, but he makes strategic retreats to maintain said favor. The reason such retreats have not been gains for the Left, like the bungling of the patient's bill of rights, the Health Care bill, anything dealing with Iraq, etc., is because the Left has not been able to create or maintain pressure outside of their own pre-existing groups. I do not believe the ability of the Left to maintain or create such groups depends heavily on the President; Chomsky & Zinn argue they will be more effective under Kerry, has articles arguing the Left would demobilize under a Kerry presidency (a more likely outcome, imho). In either case, however, the challenge is not to create more protest groups, but to create a sustained, involved political movement reaching out across traditional lines. The "Hard Left" cannot afford leaving behind the soft left and the soft right. (The Hard Right definitely has to simmer for a bit longer before we try and gnaw on that hunk of meat. Or something that makes sense.) And I do not believe a Kerry presidency will in any way HELP remove the rift between the Left/Right (and various other divisions) we now see. It is POSSIBLE under a Kerry Prez, but no less possible under a Bush pres.

If we start changing those millions of Bush backers, it won't matter if he's still in office. It's been pointed out he went to Iraq even though the public wasn't behind him. But he went to Iraq months after ramping up about it, and basically wore down the resistance from 75%ish to 60% to around 50/50 and then, once in, it collapsed into very clear support. (Of course, there is still the argument that a Dem wouldn't have gone to Iraq in the first place... which is an argument I have to grant. Nevertheless, we ARE in Iraq, and it is clear that Bush does not have the political capital to go BEYOND Iraq, and Kerry doesn't have the political will to get OUT of Iraq. Looking at all those prepositions, it seems to me the "would've" is irrelevant in this case; the case today presents us with two candidates who I think will pursue essentially the same strategies, one because it's what he wants, the other because it's not so far from what he wants and he's too weak to move it too much.) If we had a true grassroots movement, beyond our 50% of the electorate, we would not have gone to war in Iraq. If we had a solid 60% of people against the war, or 75%, or everyone but the hard right, and it was clear that it was NOT going to dissolve once boots were on the ground, we would NOT have gone to Iraq. I think one of the lessons George W has taken from George HW is avoid unpopular decisions at all costs -- HW took the seemingly rational step of raising taxes. That's not the only reason he was defeated, but it contributed significantly, I think.

Bush will not do that. If faced with clear opposition that threatens to hurt his electoral chances, he has backed down every time. On the Patient's Bill of Rights, he was against it, then for a different version, then he had to go through back doors, getting the one medical Doctor in Congress to switch from for- to against- it, and not much later, it was dead. How many people know this is how it happened, how this popular issue got quashed? I guarantee you, had those moderate Republicans who were for it a clear idea of how it got quashed, and what was at stake, it would've gone differently. Bush could not afford to veto it; thus, he arranged for it to die in committee and he didn't have to take any political heat; it was, ideally, dissapated among not only Congress Republicans, but also the Democrats, who the GOP could claim stopped the bill because of obstructions in committee. Safe and sound for Bush.

Given that, to me, the grassroots movement depends on real, deep education and knowledge, I don't see what it matters who's president except as far as whether or not I will be able to keep my food down during the next 4 State of the Union Addresses. But while Bush has hurt education, Kerry has helped him. And it is certain that a Kerry president would not revolutionize the way education happens in the US, and it is clear Bush cannot stop the Left from teaching. The Miami riots were quashed, brutally, but this backlash clearly would not have propagated to Bush, even had it been out. And Clinton, like Kerry I suspect, was willing to have riots quashed as president as well, if not with such efficiency. But protests are effective only insofar as they are a learning tool, and very few center-rights listen to what is taught there.

Whatever the Left's strategy for the future is, winning over the soft right (or, hey, better yet, getting the Non-voting downtrodden Left on board -- another problem I have with Kerry -- numbers show many eligible women in the last election didn't vote, and most women vote Democratic. Further, many nonvoters are poor and minority, and don't vote for that reason. There are MILLIONS of votes Kerry could get with plans for REAL change -- politically dangerous, yes, off the beaten path, yes -- but it seems like a foregone conclusion that a candidate that can make the worst-off electoral base of the US *believe* in what they say, they will have gained a constituency of millions... more, I suspect, than the fucking swing voters everyone's so fond of. But no, this tactic was passed up for exactly the kind of pandering keeping many of those too cynical to vote exactly where they are) -- whatever the strategy for the future is, it won't depend on who is in office. It will depend on who is on the ground, and what they think, and what they are willing to do about it -- most especially, what they are willing to do about in November.

We can't afford the soft bigotry of low expectations (my hands will never be clean now, I quoted Bush in earnest). We can't afford to convince only ourselves. And we can't afford to think changing the face of our government will in large or small part mean that our education and compromising with the reality of other US Americans will be affected. Millions of Democrats (I believe) voted for Bush in 2000. Some number of Democrats will vote for him this time. Many eligble voters will not. Our job is to help in whatever way is needed to understand these people's views and, should we be correct in our ways, convince them to see it from our view, indeed, to think about many views, from that time on. Bush will not do this. Kerry will not do this. We can, we will, and we will not do that by spiting the only candidate who actually believes in it, the only candidate not wholly a whore to our present system.