Roy Edroso at alicublog has added an RSS/atom feed. Go read, y'all.
I dreamed about blogging for the first time last night (or the night before - I just remembered the dream a minute ago but can't remember when it actually was). In the dream, the template had gotten fucked up so that the post titles and the dates and times had all disappeared, but the text remained. And I didn't care enough to want to try to fix it.
I haven't actually dreamed about the act of blogging, so count me as less of a geek than some.
Other recent dreams:
I'm driving around Philadelphia in incredibly dense fog. I am going somewhere, but am considering cancelling the visit because it's just too dangerous to drive. Then I drive up onto the South Street bridge, which has a little elevation, and emerge into a clear, blue sky; the fog only extends a few feet off the ground. The sun is coming up, and I realize that if I wait a little longer, the fog will burn off.
I am traveling around the various countries that my ancestors are from. I am traveling with my brothers, but somehow I manage to be first in getting to each new place, and this pleases me. In one vivid scene, I am on a balcony or walkway on the second floor of this rustic building in a rural area and I see my brother Doug approaching, so I greet him mockingly for getting there after me. Then the scene changes and I am talking to this little man who is a cross between a leprechaun and a holocaust survivor. (I have ancestors from both Ireland and Dachau, Germany.) Apparently this little guy keep trying to break into the local holocaust museum and stealing the clothing on display because, he says, "It's mine and I want it back." In this particular scene, a local burgher/watchman has apprehended the little guy and is recovering the striped prisoner uniform he's taken this time. The stripes are faded green and orange.
I am accompanying a dissident/trade unionist who is in the process of trying to overthrow a tyrannical government. He is very calm, zen-like, and is riding a bicycle toward the seat of government power. He reminds me of my dad in many ways except that my dad was never calm, zen-like, never tried to overthrow tyranny, and never rode a bicycle. Maybe it's just because he's little and neat and rides the bicycle with an economy of motion, like an athlete. The dissident/trade union guy isn't sure he will be successful, but he's not worried about it because success is an illusion. In our conversation, he tells me, "Do what you want." This has two levels of meaning for me. One, choose to get involved with things you are interested in. Two, when prioritizing your time, put the thing you're interested in high on the list. He pedals into the town, which looks a lot like the university town where I went to college. Then I am talking to someone on the sidewalk, and this female campus cop comes up behind me and presses herself against me, provocatively. She wants to touch me but doesn't want me to see her either because she's embarrassed by her desire or she doesn't think she's attractive enough because she's overweight. Then the scene changes and I am behind her, pinning her down and bent over a hard, polished surface like a dining room table. I am rubbing myself against her and with my mouth next to her ear am telling her all the things I am going to do to her - shove my cock down her throat, fuck her up the ass - and she is so turned on by what I am saying and doing she drools a little on the table. Then she licks it up.
Not very subtle, my dreams, but lots of interesting imagery.
I'll just re-print what I wrote last year about this time:
So, it's Thanksgiving Day. If you're like me, you might need some reminders on how to get through a whole day of togetherness with your family. Of course, if you're like me, you might have decided to spend the day in Key West at the clothing-optional resort with an eight ball and a very friendly poly-sci major down from Miami for the holiday who you met at the dockside bar. But, let's assume you want to spend it with your family, instead.
1. Carry no weapons, at least for one day. Even if you firmly believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms, leave them in the safe at home this time. No firearms, much lower death rate. Lower death rate = good.
2. Limit your drinking. I know, three quick drinks followed by a 1.5 liter bottle of Cabernet was your stress-reduction plan. But there are serious downsides. First, if you get hammered you are likely to pop off at the worst possible moment. Bad. Second, you are less likely to notice and be able to ward off the (probably deserved) attack on your person that results from your aforementioned popping off. In other words, if you're trashed, you can't dodge the fireplace poker screaming towards your face. Worse. Third, you have to be sober enough to execute step #3.
3. Sleep Elsewhere. Even if you're broke and mom will be bitterly disappoined if you don't stay on her couch for the night, spring for a room at a motel and leave at an appropriate time after dinner. If you're trashed (see #2), you shouldn't drive. So, stay sober, and when belligerent uncle Don starts in on his fifth whiskey, say goodnight.
4. Have an Escape Plan. Say, like me, you have a bigoted brother who is sure to mouth off about the gays or blacks or whatever. You know it's possible that he's going to say or do something that makes you really, really mad at some point during the evening. If it comes, you have to have a place to go to get away. If there is a place where you can go for a walk, do it. Keep your coat someplace handy and, preferably, near a door. If you can't go someplace in the house or out for a walk, get into the car and, if necessary, execute step #3 early. It's better to have people wondering what the hell happened to you rather than you knocking the offending family member unconscious. Trust me on this one.
These are just a few tips that just might get you through the next 24 hours without cuts, bruises or any additions to your (already-impressive) arrest record. And, Happy Thanksgiving!
This made me laugh:
Next week, millions of college students and young professionals will head home for the Thanksgiving holidays. We’ll sit with our families in warm, candle-lit dining rooms eating stuffed turkey, reminiscing over old photographs, preparing holiday shopping lists and … Please. Let’s be frank. We are going home to fix our parents' computers.
We bought my mom a Dell last year. She's been using free Juno for her ISP, because she's frugal and not all that sure about this Internet thing, and it's like dental torture when I am there. She doesn't use it because it's so slow, but she's reluctant to pay more for access because she doesn't use it. I am debating paying for her to get something faster, but a cable modem is probably going overboard at $40/month. Maybe a faster dial-up service at $24/month.
I wonder if I am doing this for her, in order to keep her informed and her mind sharp in her 70s, or for me to have a fast computer when I visit her. One of the last expensive Xmas gifts I ever bought my Dad before he died was a DVD player. I'll never forget how he unwrapped it and had to stifle a groan. "Another black box," he said, "with more little blinking lights." Then I figured out I was buying him the toys I liked, and stopped, and got him stuff he liked, like golf equipment. I may reach that point with Mom, soon.
(From Scott McNulty at Blankbaby.)
I just participated in a nationwide conference call with thousands of MoveOn volunteers (there were 14,000 on the computer hookup alone) to discuss the next steps. It was an interesting exercise. I went into the process thinking we need to elect progressives to local office, in order to build the farm team for future races. I also thought we needed to craft better messages.
I got some confirmation for the message thing, and had my mind changed about local elections. Nationwide, out of the computer-based audience at least, the number 1 issue was election reform, including campaign finance, media access, better access for third parties, and voting procedures. A close second was the Iraq war.
On the strategy side, the clear winner was to craft a clear, persuasive progressive message. A distant second was reforming the media (opposing consolidation) and third was building organizations at the local level.
What's next? We've built something of a nationwide network for 50,000-100,000 people who were willing to get off their asses and do something in the election. That's muscle that we want to keep strong. In addition, we want to add to the membership numbers and maintain the national visibility in the election. We want to focus on the election reform issue by crafting and communicating a clear, progressive message. So, how to do that?
My idea is a lobbying campaign. We spend the next 6-8 months crafting legislation on campaign finance, third party participation, voting procedures, and media access, and soliciting sponsors in Congress. Then, in the late summer of 2005, we do fundraising and start volunteer organizing. The idea would be to kick off a door-to-door petition drive in support of the legislation, accompanied by advertising in key Congressional districts, timed to coincide with the introduction of the legislation. The culmination of the petition process would be a mass visit by thousands of MoveOn members to D.C. in order to visit their members of Congress and present the petitions. The idea would be to communicate to Congress that we represent an organization with over two million members, and we have gathered thousands of signatures from your constitutents on these bills, and we would like you to support them. The effect could be tremendous.
I'm going to pass this idea along to the MoveOn leadership. It's pretty cool that they really do run the organization using a transparent, deliberative process involving the members who want to be involved. I think that's a formula for creating winning strategies. We shall see.
(From Jim Henley at High Clearing.)
A whole new generation of veterans is coming home from Iraq. They joined the military for a multitude of reasons: love for their country, their desire to serve, to pay for college, to escape poverty, September 11th, to improve themselves, to house and cloth their families, and on and on.
They are coming home from a brutal war, having witnessed and taken part in countless days of destruction and horror. They are coming home from a war whose justification is in question (unquestionably wrong if you ask me). That can only make the horror of war all the more dreadful.
They went because we sent them, and they did what they were trained to do. How will they be treated? Will their physical and psychological wounds be treated properly and paid for in full, or will they be forgotten – dismissed as too inconvenient and expensive? Can we make this a real issue and actually do right by these men and women we sent to fight and die in our unjust war? Can we get it right? Just this once? Please?
- And yeah – I know a lot more are going.
I didn't write about the author who was investigated under the PATRIOT Act when the story came around on the liberal blogs a while ago because (a) it sounded like bullshit and (b) the campaign was uppermost in my mind. Turns out, she was actually committing welfare fraud.
November 19, 2004
I want to thank you personally for what you did in the election -- you rewrote the book on grassroots politics, taking control of campaigns away from big donors. No campaign will ever be the same.
You moved voters, helped hold George Bush accountable, and countered the attacks from big news organizations such as Fox, Sinclair Broadcasting, and conservative talk radio.
And your efforts count now more than ever. Despite the words of cooperation and moderate sounding promises, this administration is planning a right wing assault on values and ideals we hold most deeply. Healthy debate and diverse opinion are being eliminated from the State Department and CIA, and the cabinet is being remade to rubber stamp policies that will undermine Social Security, balloon the deficit, avoid real reforms in health care and education, weaken homeland security, and walk away from critical allies around the world.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, once all the votes are counted -- and they will be counted -- we will continue to challenge this administration. This is not a time for Democrats to retreat and accommodate extremists on critical principles -- it is a time to stand firm.
I will fight for a national standard for federal elections that has both transparency and accountability in our voting system. It's unacceptable in the United States that people still don't have full confidence in the integrity of the voting process.
I ask you to join me in this cause.
And we must fight not only against George Bush's extreme policies -- we must also uphold our own values. This is why on the first day Congress is in session next year, I will introduce a bill to provide every child in America with health insurance. And, with your help, that legislation will be accompanied by the support of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
There are more than eight million uninsured children in our nation.
That's eight million reasons for us to stay together and fight for a new direction. It is a disgrace that in the wealthiest nation on earth, eight million children go without health insurance.
Normally, a member of the Senate will first approach other senators and ask them to co-sponsor a bill before it is introduced -- instead, I am turning to you. Imagine the power of a bill co-sponsored by hundreds of thousands of Americans being presented on the floor of the United States Senate. You can make it happen. Sign our "Every Child Protected" pledge today and forward it to your family, friends, and neighbors:
This is the beginning of a second term effort to hold the Bush administration accountable and to stand up and fight for our principles and our values. They want you to disappear; they are counting on that. I'm confident you will prove them wrong, and you will rewrite history again.
Here is what I want you to know. I understand the strength, commitment, and passion that are at the core of what we built together -- and I am determined to make our collective energy and organization a force to be reckoned with in the weeks and months ahead.
Let's roll up our sleeves and get back to work for our country.
A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods. Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance – the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Professor Michael Hout, will formally disclose results of the study at the press conference.
The press conference is at 1 p.m. Eastern. Please note the weasel words and qualifications: "associated with", "may have", "rarely arise by chance."
At this point, all I will say is, I look forward to reading the study with interest.
(From Mark Blumenthal at Mystery Pollster.)
Update: Here's the report. From the summary:
- Irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000 excess votes or more to President George W. Bush in Florida.
- Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 2000 and 2004. This effect cannot be explained by differences between counties in income, number of voters, change in voter turnout, or size of
- In Broward County alone, President Bush appears to have received approximately 72,000 excess votes.
- We can be 99.9% sure that these effects are not attributable to chance.
The report also claims that the pro-Bush e-vote discrepancy is directly proportional to the Democratic makeup of the county; that is, the more Democratic, the higher the apparent discrepancy. Although the report does not make this point explicitly, reading the details of the report it seems clear that this correlation is significant because it suggests that the actual difference is closer to the upper end of the range, 260,000 votes, rather than the lower end. This is because there are two possible ways that vote fraud could create the discrepancy: (1) a hack or other manipulation could simply add additional votes for Bush, or (2) votes for Kerry could have been switched to votes for Bush. If the second mechanism was used, the discrepancy would have a double effect - an additional vote for Bush and one less vote for Kerry. (Also, please note that a sophisticated vote fraud would tend to avoid the first method, because it potentially could result in the total number of votes being greater than the number of registered voters.)
Update 11/19/04: Kieran Healy analyzes the data and concludes two counties - Broward and Palm Beach - account for the entire discrepancy. It could be an unusual 3% swing in just those counties, or it could be cheating in just those counties. (I've read one comment elsewhere that complained that the regression should factor in number of Bush visits as a variable. I don't know if that's it, exactly, but it's on the right track. It could be in-person visits, or media saturation.) At least it narrows the focus.
Kevin Drum at Political Animal has an interesting post up about an article by Michael Hirsh on Arabist Bernard Lewis. The article's contention is that Lewis has had an outsized influence on the neocons in the Bush Administration, especially with regard to the decision to invade Iraq, but that Lewis's background as an expert on Turkey has caused him to misapply Turkish history to all of the Middle East. That is, because the top-down, authoritarian, rigidly secularist approach of Ataturk worked in Turkey, a top-down, authoritarian, rigidly secular approach by Chalabi (or now, Allawi) would also work in Iraq. (Lewis is also the person who coined the phrase "clash of civilizations".)
Hirsh's article is interesting and deserves reading, but what grabbed my attention was this comment at Political Animal by someone named Halden:
I think we have to realize that in the end the Northeastern Democrats misjudged the south in this last election very similarly to how the Neocons misjudged Iraq, the two tie together.
In both cases, the residents of a globalistic cosmopolitan lifestyle just didn't get how people in a region can be unshakably attached to their religion and traditions, resenting the modern culture and what they perceive (rightly or wrongly) it to be doing to morals.
I think this is an excellent point and one that resonates with me right now. I criticize the Bushies for going into Iraq without understanding the culture or, worse, having contempt for the culture of Muslims and Arabs. But this is also true of liberal attitudes toward the South and Midwest. And, as hard as it is to imagine what to do about it, in order to be effective we have to drop the contempt for the conservative part of America. That doesn't mean agreeing with their reasons or sharing their goals, but it does mean that you have to deal with them as people, rather than an evil concept. (Even if you believe their goals and methods are evil, as things like keeping gay and lesbian people second-class citizens surely is.)
Similarly, the U.S. has to understand and interact with the Arab and Muslim world the same way. First, that world is not in any way monolithic or implacably hostile to us. We have to understand the differences that exist in a way that permits us to deal with peoples in that world respectfully and to allow us to take advantage of those differences. Second, we have to understand that people do not give up their culture or their customs lightly. The Red Staters see no reason to do so; there is no reason to expect that other people are different. Our method must be to persuade. It's a sales job. Part of the salesperson's technique is to explain, show the advantages, take care to actually minimize the downside, and allow the customer the space to make up their own minds. Mutual respect is basic to that interaction. Even when the customer says no, respect is absolutely required, because you want the chance to knock on that person's door again. And when the sale is complete, you continue the respectful interaction because you want to make another sale.
This is a really positive, productive (I think) way to approach both of these problems. And it highlights even more forcefully what is wrong with the right-wing approach to national security. That approach is all about forcing the sale at gunpoint. There is no attempt to persuade, except for some tactical arguments made in the course of trying to complete the initial sale. At the end of the Iraq occupation, we will have delivered a constitutional government at great cost to the Iraqis (and to us), but then what? It will be like the South after Reconstruction - seething, resentful, and dreaming of revenge. Imagine if that process had been done in accordance with Lincoln's vision of reconciliation. Arguably, we would not have had the worst of the excesses of racial discrimination in the 20th century and the entirety of the culture war we are waging today could have been avoided.
I don't know if this approach is practical or workable, given the number of people (including me) who have bought into the conflict model, both domestically and internationally. But it is worth thinking about.
Here is a 16-month-old boy who was wounded in the fighting in Fallujah:
Here is a laughing, squirmy 16-month-old boy whom I love very much:
It makes me furious that we as a nation have invaded a country without just cause and wounded a little boy who would be otherwise be as happy and full of life as the little boy I care so much about. And that one little boy in Fallujah is just one of untold thousands of people wounded in our war, along with many tens of thousands of people killed, on both sides. Are his parents still alive? Did the fighting kill them, too?
I know that some people who are for this war think we're freeing oppressed people, so that in the long run many more people will be free of future conflict. I strongly doubt it. And if the Iraq adventure falls on its face, then I hope the people responsible for this mess are held accountable for all of the suffering they have caused. But I doubt that, too.
(Image from Fallujah in Pictures.)
I just got home from seeing my mom. I wanted to get my thoughts down before reading everyone else's reaction, because I am sure the bullshit is flying already.
First, the story:
[A] Marine can be heard shouting obscenities in the background, yelling that one of the men was only pretending to be dead.
The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner laying on the floor of the mosque.... [T]he report of the rifle could be heard. The ... video tape ... showed the bullet striking the man in the upper body, possibly the head. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.
The tape began with the following:
Gunfire can be heard from inside the mosque, and at its entrance, Marines who were already in the building emerge. They are asked by an approaching Marine lieutenant if there were insurgents inside and if the Marines had shot any of them. A Marine can be heard responding affirmatively. The lieutenant then asks if they were armed and fellow Marine [sic] shrugs.
[NBC reporter] Sites' account said the wounded men, who he said were prisoners and who were hurt in the previous day's attack, had been shot again by the Marines on the Saturday visit.
The videotape showed two of the wounded men propped against the wall and Sites said they were bleeding to death. According his report [sic], a third wounded man appeared already dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing. The fifth was covered by a blanket but did not appear to have been shot again after the Marines returned. It was the fourth man who was shown being shot.
More color, from CNN.com:
A Marine approached one of the men in the mosque saying, "He's [expletive] faking he's dead. He's faking he's [expletive] dead."
The Marine raised his rifle and fired into the apparently wounded man's head, at which point a companion said, "Well, he's dead now."
First, this was truly an inevitable incident in this kind of war. It is one of the reasons why we should not have invaded. Given the fact that we are fighting a political conflict, we should not have put ourselves in the position of having troops engage in urban warfare, when we knew that atrocities would likely occur, unless there was an actual imminent threat to the country. (Atrocities always occur when conflicts last long enough.)
Second, this is almost as bad as Abu Grahib, but perversely, not as bad. The Iraqis and other Arabs knew we were murdering people; they didn't need a videotape to prove it. War is organized murder, anyway. This just shows what they already knew. Abu Grahib demonstrated real depravity, though; that was news.
Third, reporter Sites better leave Iraq now, if he doesn't want his own cranial matter splattered on a wall someplace.
Fourth, how fucking stupid do you have to be to commit a war crime in front of a TV camera and then not shoot the cameraman?
Fifth, can we please have another lecture from the moral values crowd on how people who murder prisoners are not combatants, but terrorists?
Sixth, I wonder how long it will take for the war lovers to go from "tsk, tsk, that is surely the work of a few bad apples" to "you leftists and the MSM are overreacting." I bet it's already started.
Seventh, Republican strategists are chortling with glee that another 9/11-style attack is that much closer. A few thousand dead New Yorkers = 4 million GOP voters.
Eighth, can you imagine how many people have been murdered off camera?
Update: A quick spin around my subscriptions shows only a passing reference to this story on Eschaton, nowhere else. I guess the shit storm will arrive tomorrow. Or maybe never. "What's with this crap about Iraq on the TV? Did the Eagles win or not? " Ah, a gram is better than a damn.
Here's the Boing Boing post on the incident, with links to the video and Site's report.
Update 11/16/04: I love this. I really can't believe how great this is. No one is discussing this murder, this war crime. It's just going to blow over and drift away, leaving only a mist of red on a wall. I love my country!
I'm going to work and make a whole lot of money now, and then I'll do something socially useful like get an 13-year-old hooker or buy an SUV.
Colin Powell has resigned as Secretary of State, AP says, along with Education Secretary Rod Paige, and the Energy and the Ag Secretaries. No surprises. I just wonder how they're going to revivify Attila the Hun to take over at State. I predict a long slide into obscurity and lucrative lobbying work for Sec. Powell.
You know, your cousin doesn't need that fucking $100 Banana Republic sweater - he already has plenty. And your spoiled-ass kid doesn't need that new Xbox game, I assure you. Instead, this year, pop all the people on your list a little note that says, "I have made a contribution to help soldiers in Iraq in your name. Expect the same for your birthday. And next Xmas. There's a war on!" Then select from one of the fine causes listed here. (Via eRobin at Fact-esque.)
Swing State Project alerted me to the fact Pew released a new report on Thursday on various aspects of why people voted as they did. Curiously, my favorite "moderates", Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten, have not mentioned it.
The Pew report says that the most important reason that people voted for Bush was moral values.1 The Bush voters who said moral values were important define that term to mean opposition to gay marriage, followed closely by abortion.
Both Jarvis and Totten have been spinning hard to explain away the "values" vote. (See here, here, here, and here, here, and here, for examples.) Both of them criticized Kerry strongly during the campaign for being weak on terrorism but don't want to be lumped in with the bigot crowd. (Totten voted for Bush; Jarvis voted for Kerry, he says, but he damned him with faint praise, calling him "a dreadful candidate". Bush, notably, did not come in for such criticism.)2
As I have said before, the Republicans have concocted a powerful brew of uber-patriotism and religiously-based intolerance. In this particular election, they began with the broth of calling Kerry a lying flip-flopper who had betrayed his fellow soldiers in Vietnam. Those attacks were against his defense credentials, where Kerry the veteran was strong. They repeated that mantra over and over again. Then, into that mix, they dropped the catalysts: Kerry would give control over our safety to foreigners, and gay marriage. Those two things allowed the poisonous mix - from which both Totten and Jarvis had drunk deeply - to crystallize around specific events that people viscerally hated. Going into the voting booth on election day, voters could then feel on a deep level that Kerry was immoral, and that immorality could be the undoing of the country, both on a military and a cultural level. Therefore, they voted against Kerry.3
The Pew report shows that people who vote for Republicans hate gays and hate abortion, and voted for the guy who they think will stop both. By successfully melding attacks on patriotism and attacks on social issues into one larger attack on morality, the Republicans have increased the power of the moral values attack line against Democrats.4 It has worked for them, and it is working for them, so we can expect them to continue doing it. Jarvis and Totten have thrown their lot in with such people, as did anyone else who voted for Bush. You can stop spinning now.
1 - There is a difference in the results when you ask the question with a list of possible answers or open-ended. When you ask it with a list of possible answers, "moral values" gets 44% from Republicans, versus 27% when you ask the open-ended question. However, with the fixed-list question, the response "other" gets 5% from Bushies, while on the open-ended question "other" gets 34%. In contrast, Bush voters gave terrorism 24% on the fixed-list question and 17% on the open-ended question, a far lower swing than the moral values response. I think the responses show the same result; it's just on the open-ended question people couldn't put a word to what they wanted to express.
2 - Incidentally, the Pew report shows that two-thirds of voters were satisfied with the choice of candidates, something else Jarvis got wrong.
3 - Significantly, the most common emotion reported by Bush voters - 90% of them - after the election is "relieved." Specifically, I believe, they are relieved of the fear of a victory by the immoral Kerry.
4 - Please note that I am not blaming gay and lesbian people, or the Democratic party's support for their rights (as lame as it was, it did exist). I am proud Democrats stood up for equal rights for all Americans. And as a practical matter, abandoning gay and lesbian rights wouldn't help; the Republicans would just create another hot-button issue to press.
The radio says that Arafat has expired. I jumped the gun a couple days ago, but my opinion hasn't changed.
Arafat was virulently hated, especially by conservatives who so strongly believe that Israel can do no wrong that they were blinded to the possibility that he was the best chance Israel had to negotiate a settlement to the conflict. Of course, that type of conservative would rather not negotiate anything, but simply egg the Israelis on to kill their way out of the situation. Which is their model for the way they want the U.S. to deal with angry Arabs and Muslims, too.
The credible scientific evidence shows no link between abortion and breast cancer. But
15 4 states require women to sign a form saying that they've been told of such a link before they can get an abortion [and 14 others are considering similar legislation]. It's just a lie, but the rationalizations of the lie are just as interesting:
Joel Brind, a biochemist at Baruch College in New York who advises the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, noted that a woman's chances of getting breast cancer go down if she gives birth at a relatively young age. He reasons that those who opt for abortion are giving up a chance of reducing their breast cancer risk.
Therefore, he says, abortion increases the risk of cancer.
Yes, and so does anyone who doesn't give birth in their teens. Any woman who is not a teen mother is increasing her risk of breast cancer. Good logic, Joel; maybe Bush will appoint you to something.
Update: Corrected the number of states with or considering these laws. I mis-read the original article or it contained a typo.
AP just reported John Ashcroft has resigned (along with Commerce Secretary Evans.) I was hoping that he'd resign in disgrace, but I guess I have to take what I can get.
Update 11/10/04: A couple of people, including Pwylla in comments, have floated the nightmare scenario that Ashcroft will be nominated to the Supreme Court when a vacancy occurs, perhaps even for Chief. I don't believe it. I think Ashcroft was heaved over the side because he had garnered the singular distinction of being hated by all. The left loathed him the PATRIOT Act and his idiotically simplistic religiosity. But important elements of the right loathed PATRIOT, too, including the NRA and people like Bob Barr. And finally, Ashcroft had few remaining friends in the Senate and he alienated the House with his non-responsive, high-handed style.
Atrios writes what I have been thinking:
[I]rregularities and questionable results are not necessarily "proof" of "fraud" and "proof" that the "election was stolen. " If people want this issue to be taken seriously they need to stop thinking that any of the information floating around right now - and yes, I've seen it all multiple times - provides proof of any such thing. Yes, legitimate questions have been raised, but I fear people on "our side" have started to confuse the legitimate questions with the answers to those questions they've imagined. I'm fully ready to believe that everything was corrupt in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere, but thinking and knowing are different things entirely.
Unless something dramatic emerges, nothing I have seen justifies believing that the election was stolen. I know it may be a comfort to people who don't want to believe that 59 million people endorsed jailing, torturing and killing innocent people, but they did. Those 59 million repudiated liberal, rational, Enlightenment values and chose instead tribal, superstitious, xenophobic ones. That reality is so painful - not the rejection of our side, but the awfulness of what was embraced - that many want to deny it happened. It did.
People are debating whether it was homophobia or the war on terrorism that won the election for Bush on Tuesday; whether it was hate or fear. I think it was both. The flightsuit, rhetoric about fighting terrorism, appearing strong, attacking people of the same ethnic group as the people who attacked us, all that appealed to the tribal instincts of Americans and kept Bush competitive. In addition, Bush stood with those who for whom gays and lesbians symbolize sexual degeneracy, the breakdown of the values that people want to instill in their kids, and urban intellectual superiority. That put him over the top.
Pulling Up The Drawbridge
It would not have been sufficient for Bush to run solely on the war on terror (because Iraq is going badly) or anti-gay prejudice (because it's not widespread enough). But the combination of the two meant that he positioned himself against Red America's external enemies, the Muslims, and their internal enemies, the gays.
The conservative side of America has long believed that the nation was threatened by enemies, here and abroad. It's basic to the philosophy that conservatives see themselves as a bulwark against those who would destroy what America is. (Liberals, on the other hand, see themselves as the architects of what America could become - or at least, the artists who can restore American society to what it truly is.) The conservative side of America thinks of non-conservative Americans and non-Americans as a teeming mass of Other, ranging from quaint and amusing to full-on treacherous. That's why conservatives debate among themselves whether liberals are just unwitting dupes of foreign enemies or their active collaborators - the assumption that everyone is out to get Red America is taken as a given.
Viennese Coffee Stains on the GOP Playbook
The Nazis hated Jews and fought Communists. The American Right hates gays and blacks and fights liberals. Listen:
The Jew knows no love, he knows only the body, especially in the area of sex life. . . . The basic difference between the . . . Jewish and the German outlook on life is simply stated this way: The German can give his life for his love and his woman; the Jew can only purchase a woman!1
Replace a couple of nouns in that quote and you end up with Alan Keyes' "selfish hedonists."2 Going back a little further, it was commonplace for the Right to assert (and later, when that became unacceptable, to imply)
that blacks are genetically inferior, sexually voracious predators, things repeated in current anti-gay rhetoric.
The left bewitches with its potions and elixirs, served daily in its strongholds of academe, Hollywood and old media. It vomits upon the morals, values and traditions we hold sacred: God, family and country. As we learned Tuesday, it is clear the left holds the majority of Americans, the majority of us, in contempt.
The Nazis and German volkish elements generally believed that communism and socialism were alien philosophies in Germany because they undermined the nationalist-racist program by focusing on class divisions. American conservatives believe that liberalism is alien to America because it promotes socialism and standardless moral relativism.
The Nazis also believed that Jews had stabbed the German nation in the back by causing it to lose World War I and were secretly or unwittingly in league with the country's external enemies. American conservatives believe that liberals stabbed America in the back by causing it to lose Vietnam and are secretly or unwittingly in league with the country's external enemies: "Objectively pro-Saddam" and "They're not for peace, they're just on the other side."
Obviously, there are huge differences between the Nazis and American social conservatism, at least as practiced today. The American Right engages in only sporadic violence and talks about killing their opponents and imagined enemies only in passing,3 while political murder and talking about ruthlessly dealing with the Jews and socialists were all fundamental to the Nazi plan. Also, there is no one-to-one correspondence between the Nazi's imagined enemies and the American Right's. Most importantly, the fact that America has not been devastated by a war and is not living under foreign occupation mean that the seeds of extremism have to struggle to find soil. The only place they can really take root is where there are none of the despised Others for conservatives to meet and talk to - and realize they're not a threat.
So I am not saying that Bush is Hitler, but it is correct to make an analogy between the two because their political strategies use common elements. Hitler joined the idea of a degenerate, genetically inferior, politically alien Other at home aiding foreign forces threatening to dominate the homeland. So have American conservatives.
The Way Forward: A Blank Wall
So, what to do? I haven't a clue.
People obviously aren't listening to us when we warn about the extremism and irrationality of the Right. And I don't think that we can count on responsible Republicans to help correct the excesses of the GOP. First of all, there aren't enough of them and they don't have much political power. During the last campaign, for example, several prominent Republicans - in and out of government - stepped up and criticized the Bush administration. That criticism blew away without having any impact.
More importantly, even moderate Republicans largely don't see a problem. They see the country's course as sort of a pendulum, I think, and they think the pendulum needs a good hard shove in the right direction. They support the extremes of the Republican party because it will provide that force, even though the moderates don't want the country to actually end up where the extremists want to take it. For example, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma called for abortion doctors to be put to death. Most Republicans would probably not support that, but they vote for people like Coburn anyway, because they think his extremism will produce restrictions on abortion that they do like. They see the system as a process in which extremists like Coburn are countered by forces on the other side. Ironically, this kind of Republican is counting on us to be there. And, they think, if things go too far the conservative way for a short time, maybe that's a good thing. Ordinary Germans in the 1920s may have thought that way, too. No, moderate Republicans will be no help, and anyway, it's a cop-out to hope others will fix a problem you can't.
I have no solutions to offer for this situation. I feel like I am just chronicling a part of history that may be forgotten in the future, when people look back and ask, "What were they thinking?" We were thinking we tried, and failed, to stop the maniacs.
1 - Speech of Adolf Hitler, 1921, from "Hitler: The Path to Power", Charles Bracelen Flood, 1989, p. 237, emphasis in original. Apparently, I have read no other books.
2 - Yes, I realize it is strange to quote a black Republican after just saying that conservatives hate blacks. They make an exception for Mr. Keyes because he's so extremist on all other issues, and he provides convenient cover.
3 - The fact that most conservatives don't advocate the murder of their political opponents - although some do - does not detract from the point that the implication of violence is present. Yes, leftists engage in thuggery, too. But having imaginary mortal enemies who might have to be killed is central to the Right's self-concept; it's nowhere even close to the self-concept of the Left.
Allawi declares martial law except in the Kurdish area. The "state of emergency" will last 60 days during the US assault on Fallujah. A government spokesman said: "It is going to be a curfew. It is going to be so many things, but tomorrow the prime minister will mention it."
A prediction: one of the "many things" it will be is a a ban on media in Fallujah.
Another prediction: it will last longer than 60 days.
The Americans' goal is to get out without having a PR disaster. One way to do that is to set up a new Hussein who can use repressive measures to keep the violence to a minimum. That way, over the next couple of years (before the mid-term elections), the U.S. can withdraw to the new bases it will be "invited" to keep, reduce the number of forces in the country, and let the New Iraqi Army do what the old Iraqi Army did.
Truly, we are spreading the American way of lie.
I've been reconsidering my pledge yesterday to stay in the United States and fight the right wing. At the very least, I think it might be smart to do some of the research and perhaps lay some groundwork for a move somewhere else. Maybe buy property, invest some capital, start doing business in the country I select, in order to make it easier to apply for a visa.
So, where would be a good place to go? Canada is an obvious one. It's prosperous, it's liberal, it's mostly English-speaking, and it's accessible by land if the balloon really goes up. I guess I want to shop around, though. Australia? Parts of it are warm; a definite plus. New Zealand? I hear good things about Belgium. The Netherlands?
It occurs to me that technological innovation and outsourcing will help liberals escape the rightists here. The internet interprets tyranny as damage and routes around it. (Or something.) If you can develop your software or read CAT scans or write contracts or whatever anywhere in the world, why do you need to be in the U.S.? It's just a place. And if it's a place where, say, you can be arrested for having the wrong kind of sex (again), why live there? Maybe we should start up an international dating service that pairs up liberal American singles with mates overseas in desireable countries. That way, you can get your new citizenship faster and easier and get laid as soon as you arrive as a bonus.
So, Yassir Arafat is dead. Good riddance. But I do not share the optimism of those who think what comes next will be better. The right-wing joy at Arafat's demise is not based on a realistic assessment of the leadership which will follow him but just gratification at seeing a hated enemy die. But we may have cause to regret not reaching a deal with Arafat if the people who come after him are as radical as he was corrupt.
Update: Okay, maybe the story of his death was premature. Consider this post an advance obit.
The most common reaction I hear from Kerry supporters today is a feeling of alienation from the country. It's a decidedly personal feeling of both rejecting and being rejected by the majority of the people of the nation. The closest thing I can compare it to is being married to someone, in a relationship that has the normal ups and downs, and then they unexpectedly do something that so profoundly shocks and dismays you that you can no longer imagine being with them for a minute longer. There is a sense of loss of the relationship you had and a weird disconnected feeling as you look at them, as if from a distance, with new knowledge about their character that disgusts you. You don't want to live in the same house with them anymore, but you don't know whether to throw them out or leave. You don't know what to do, exactly. But the sight of them alone is revolting.
Of course, this is an imperfect analogy. Most people have the means to end a relationship gone sour. Most don't have the means to change their country (in both senses of the word "change"). They will have to go on living in the same house as people who have just endorsed unprovoked war, torture, intolerance, hatred and bigotry.
What happened? Is there something wrong with this country? Did it change from the place that I thought it was into something I don't recognize? Or, as my girlfriend asked this afternoon, is it that my country is wrong for me, or that I am wrong for my country? Maybe people like me don't belong here. I will always have the characteristics of what I think of as "American" (and what I thought is the best of America), but I don't necessarily have to live here. I am only restrained from leaving by a sense of duty to the people who can't leave, and to the people outside the country who will be harmed further by this period of madness. I can make myself safe, but what about the others? If I am fighting in the first place to make the world a better place, what business do I have abandoning that world to a bunch of madmen? Okay, so I am disgusted to be associated with them. I want to move out of the house, or burn the house down. But they have the power, and they will go on to do worse things, unless someone stops them. And the only people who can stop them is us; that is, you and me.
So I have a duty to stay and fight; most likely, fight and lose. And watch my government and its supporters go from depravity to depravity, calling each one virtue: ignorance called wisdom, intolerance called principle, and violence called strength. But if we don't fight them then they will surely go on to do worse to people who can't fight them, and then when that fails to accomplish whatever lunatic goal it was meant to achieve, they will do even worse. They will probably do it whether we fight or not, but we won't know unless we try. This afternoon, Bush said:
He's lying. He no more will work to earn the support of all Americans in the second term than in the first; his idea of working together is the same as the master's idea of working with his servants; he spits on the Constitution. But he is right that we have one future that binds us. We have only a slim chance of making that future a civilized time, but to not take that chance would be wrong.[T]oday I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.
Let's stay, and fight.
Just skimming around this morning, I haven't seen anyone yet connect the anti-gay marriage initiatives with the general election results. There were ballot initiatives against gay marriage in 11 states, including Ohio. All 11 passed. (Ohio banned not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions.) One of the lowpoints of the campaign was when the Republican National Committee - not some minor state or local party operatives - sent mailings into West Virginia and Ohio that said that John Kerry would ban the bible and legalize gay marriage. (Tellingly, the gay couple depicted were two men.) As a direct result, I believe, evangelicals came out to vote in droves and Hispanic support for Bush went up 5%. All of which, in the end, may be the margin of victory. Although I remain convinced that this election was mainly an aftershock of 9/11, hatred of gays may have been the thing that clinched it for the Republicans.
I am proud that the Democratic party stood up for equal rights for everyone and took the hit for it. And this makes it very clear that the Republicans stand for subjugating and oppressing people they dislike, and they really hate queers. I'm glad to pay an electoral price over an issue that is the modern equivalent of racial segregation. Once again, conservatives are on the wrong side of history and morality, because they vote their fears rather than the principles they say they revere.
Update: Please note that I am not saying that all Republicans hate gay people, or even took "moral issues" into account when deciding to vote for Bush. I am only analyzing what the large number of GOP voters in the Midwest and South believe, and that the national Republican apparatus played to their beliefs. Many other people voted for Bush on national security issues (although I believe that judgment is equally wrong and in some ways will have even more long-term negative consequences for us as a country). But if you did vote for Bush, you should at least acknowledge that you did so despite the fact that your guy scrambled to the top by appealing to the worst instincts of Americans
So, how about those Red Sox?
... I'm off to bed, exhausted, satisfied with the effort I made, really happy with the people who came in from as far away as Georgia to help, and proud of how Pennsylvanians voted on the issues and not their fears.
Of course, I am disappointed with how things seem to be going elsewhere. Assuming Bush puts it away in Ohio, I'm tempted to say it was a great exercise in democracy, that the nation can now come together, and that as a country we are great, but I don't really believe any of those things. And I wouldn't believe them if Kerry were about to clinch it, although the intensity with which I don't believe them would be slightly less. As I said a few days ago, when it was a tossup, I don't think much of many of my fellow Americans, and, I am sure, many - apparently, a majority - don't care too much for people like me. I'm too educated, too cosmopolitan, too unbelieving, too rational, too cooperative, or too something for the estate-tax-hating country bumpkin and the gun-loving suburban SUV driver. Fine. This election was a minor struggle between reality and fantasy and it looks like fantasy is about to claim the prize. As a member of the "reality-based community", I'll do the reasonable thing for me, whatever form that takes. I am not especially fond of Canada or its weather, though. There is probably no place far enough to run, anyway.
Okay, polls closed. We got 260 of our voters to the poll. Final results: 540 Kerry, 58 Bush. No, that's not a misprint. Turnout was 71%. That means either Republicans stayed home or crossed over in droves.
If Joe Hoeffel wins, it will be because of party-line voting in Philadelphia.
The turnout at this division is extremely heavy. Last election, a total of 550 people voted for president. As of right now, at 10:15 a.m., we've already had 300.
Anecdotally, we hear that polls are jammed city-wide. If true, it's time for Bush to abandon any hope of taking PA.
Four hours until I get up; six hours until the polls open. There are three boxes of materials on my living room floor, ready to go at 5 a.m. I am leaving myself 45 minutes to get food and coffee and drive to the polling place. Should be plenty of time, since it's all of 1/2 mile away.
As a last step, I just hung a few signs around the neighborhood. There is still confusion about where people should vote, so I made up some maps and hung them on the block where they are likely to go if they are headed in the wrong direction. It's a cold, clear night. The Dems have hung "GO VOTE" cards on doorknobs all over the neighborhood; they were flapping in the wind as I walked down the street. It occurred to me that I might be too excited to sleep, and that I am the hugest geek for treating an election like Xmas day. I passed by one of the signs I had hung earlier, and noticed that someone had tacked a small notice to it. It was an explanation of where the division boundary was; clearly, they didn't think my map was sufficiently informative.
For some reason, that little note made me really happy. I probably am just over-tired, but I am glad I live in a place where people take it upon themselves to inform their fellow citizens about how to participate in their government. It helps that the overwhelming majority of the people here are going to vote for Kerry. My pleasure in this small-scale civic activism would surely be somewhat decreased if I knew that the sign was helping more Bush than Kerry voters, but at the same time the fact that it's helping Kerry is not the source of the pleasure it gave me. I am just pleased people care enough to do something.
Enough. Sleep, then show time.
Okay, the team is in place. The plan is ready. The variables are: weather (the prediction is better than the other day, but it's still looking like rain in the evening, which is bad), traffic (preventing late voters from getting to the polls), and the behavior of the election officials. Just to give you a sense of the precinct, in the last election, 409 voted for Gore, 140 for Bush. I've seen about 100 Kerry signs, and 1 or 2 Bush signs. (I think one of the Bush signs came down in the past week or so.) I think the vote will be 617 for Kerry, 103 for Bush. Why those numbers? Just guessing, but I think we'll pick up a good percentage of people who went for Bush last time, other former Bush voters will stay home, and the switchers, new registrants and higher turnout will pump up Kerry by 50% over last time.
In this division, 700 votes means long lines. The key for us is not just reaching the people in their homes and getting them out the door, but to stop them from walking away when they see the line down the block. In the morning, they have to understand that it's worth it to be a few minutes late to work if they can change the direction of the country. In the evening, they have to feel a sense of moment, or a sense of celebration. Either "we have to throw the bastard out!" or "we're winning!" Or both.
About 535,000 new voters in Pennsylvania, over 60% under 35. We can only hope they break the way we think they will. Most of the younger people I've talked to are both eager and wary of the process they've never participated in before. They don't want to do it wrong. Nobody's for Bush; at least, not so they talk about.
My best memory so far: meeting a new registered voter named Chris, 35, had never voted before in his life. One of those energetic people who may not have gone to college but is really successful through hard work and analytic ability. Chris runs three small businesses - essentially, managing himself - and is a natural salesman. While we were talking, a half-dozen people just walking down the street greeted him loudly. Chris seemed to know everyone's story. He told me that he had registered to vote expressly in order to vote for Bush. When I hear stuff like that, I try not to show any reaction. (I don't reveal my affiliation until people tell me they are planning on voting for Kerry; if they say they're for Bush, I don't reveal it at all, just say thanks and move on.) So, I was disappointed, until he went on to say that he had intended to vote for Bush, until he saw the debates. "I couldn't believe what an idiot Bush is," Chris said. "He really has no plan, and he doesn't take responsibility for anything. At least Kerry has a clue that we have problems in this country. So, I'm voting for Kerry."
The other good thing has been the large number of people - remember, these are people who are new or infrequent voters - who, when I ask whether they're for Bush or Kerry, look at me like I'm insane. "Is there really any choice? Of course I'm voting for Kerry." Then they go off about Bush. I nod, like I'm the reasonable one, and they're convincing me with the points they're making. A lot of people like that have ended up volunteering themselves to come out and canvass with us, without any prompting on my part. I'm sure they're thinking, "I can be more persuasive than this idiot." Which is all part of my cunning plan.