Category Archives: Politics

She Quits. Mostly.

Mother Dillon flies up from GA, so we pick her up at National. We get home just in time for lunch and Hillary Clinton’s speech at the National Building Museum. Sarah thinks it’s a funny place to give a speech, but we point out that it’s an awesome space. It’s a great place to give a speech.

The speech itself is billed as a concession speech, and likely will be remembered as such. But, in point of fact, not one time does Senator Clinton utter the word concede; rather, as she puts it, she suspends her campaign.

Parts of the speech are actually gracious, and uplifting. There are some good touches. But she has been so many things this primary season, presented so many faces and moods and personalities. So it’s hard for me to take her at completely face value.

Maybe I think this also because of the strange section in the body of the speech, where she’s supposed to be throwing her support behind Senator Obama, but in doing so she uses such an oddly tortured construction. Because said construction is so utterly un-poetic, because it’s so literally hard to say, it almost reinforces the idea that it’s figuratively hard to say.

The basic structure is:

We’ll have to work hard for [such and such]. But on the day we live in an America [where such and such happens], we will live in a stronger America. And that is why we must help elect Barack Obama our president.

The point of this part of the speech is to tell her supporters that they have to come together as a party and work for him now. She explicitly says it earlier: I ask all of you to join me in working as hard for Barack Obama as you have for me. So then why in this section does she put as many words and concepts as possible between the hard work and the mention of Senator Obama’s name?

The only thing that I can think is that she wants to end each paragraph with, and repeat, the phrase Barack Obama, Our President, get us used to hearing that. Like creative visualization, you know? If you can imagine it, then you can do it. Otherwise, it’s just weird.


Oh, yes. Finally. After what seems like years since Iowa, decades since they first announced, Barack Obama collects enough delegates to sew up the nomination. I watch Hillary Clinton speak around nine-thiry, Senator Obama around ten.

Her speech is as graceless and classless as ever. She has lost. Her job is to concede. But, she famously declares, she will be making no decisions tonight.

Apparently John McCain speaks tonight as well. His speech before literally hundreds of supporters is universally panned, even by the talking heads at Fox.

Senator Obama packs the joint in St. Paul, in the hockey arena where the Republicans will convene later in the summer. Tens of thousands in the place, with tens of thousands more outside. The earth rumbles as great tectonic plates are shifting, as he’s changed the party and the game and the nation, no matter what happens in the fall.

I notice and especially enjoy the little moment with his wife Michelle when they bump fists as she glides off, gives way for him to speak. I think it’s so cute. Others apparently don’t.

Insider Baseball

I annoyed poor Dawn on Saturday by following the DNC RBC meeting on C-SPAN TV and radio all day. Heard Harold Ickes claim that the Michigan compromise commits violence to and hijacks the process.

For the record, though. I am not at all comfortable with awarding the uncommitteds to Obama. I say this as someone who is totally drunk on the Obama Kool-Aid, as well having come to loathe Hillary Clinton with a surprising passion.

At the very least, if they were going to seat the Michigan delegation, they needed to give to Clinton the full 73. She was on the ballot, people. She got the votes. Not just uncomfortable, I’m pretty solidly opposed to taking away four from her. Count me convinced, Harold Ickes.

But Nate Silver over at 538 says that Obama couldn’t concede to the 73-55 split without implying that he supports Clinton’s claim to the popular vote totals in Michigan. Or, the other way around, if Clinton hadn’t been claiming the popular vote lead so vocally, (so loudly? in so shrill a way?), then Obama might have been nicer.

But, even so, Chuck Todd claims that Obama had the RBC votes for a 64-64 split, but that would have been a closer vote than the eventual 69-59. So he was nicer than he could have been. Still, Todd adds this semi-cryptic update:

Also, according to those with knowledge of the Michigan agreement, it is fair to claim Clinton the winner of Michigan. But they caution against counting her popular vote in the state.

Um, okay. Sure. Whatever that means.

In the cold light of day

Andrew Sullivan points to the flip side of the Clinton surge:

Obama supporters should not be dismayed.

Obama has a tougher, nastier opponent in the Clintons than he does in McCain. If he wins this by a long, grueling struggle, he will be more immune to the lazy, stupid criticism that he is some kind of flash in the pan, he has more opportunity to prove that there is a great deal of substance behind the oratory, he has more of a chance to meet and talk with the electorate he will need to win in the fall.

I think the argument for Obama is easily strong enough to withstand the egos of the Clintons. The more people see that her case is almost entirely a fear-based one and his is almost entirely a positive one, the more he will win the moral victory as well as the delegate count. In the cold light of day, the bruising news that the Clintons are not yet dead seems less onerous.

Know hope.

Earlier I mused that if Obama isn’t able to withstand Clinton, then it necessarily follows that he never would have been able to withstand McCain in November. Sullivan makes an interesting reverse negative jujitsu flip of that. Being a conservative, however singular his particular example may be, he sorta kinda likes McCain, and he utterly loathes the Clintons. So he thinks this primary fight now is worse than the race with McCain will be in the fall.

I’m still not so sure, but it’s an interesting viewpoint. I still think the Limbaugh/Coulter wing will eventually come around, if not by St. Paul in September, then certainly by November. What do you think they’ll be throwing at the Democratic nominee?

Pleading for time

John Dickerson has this today in Slate:

We’ll see in the coming days if hundreds of superdelegates allow the primary process to continue without continuing to move toward Obama. Clinton is pleading for time, arguing that voters should be allowed to have their say in future contests. But even in this she comes up against a contradiction posted by Obama’s lead. Because she must rely on the superdelegates to beat back Obama’s likely lead in the popular vote and among pledged delegates, she is essentially asking those superdelegates to listen to the people—but only long enough to be persuaded to vote for her. Then she expects them to undo the will of the people by voting against Obama in Denver.

The idea that struck me, the pleading for time part, makes me think that yesterday was Clinton’s surge. Sure, the violence is down in Baghdad, and Obama’s winning streak is ended at twelve. But what now? How does that change the fundamental strategic position of the two situations?

That’s how campaigns work

Spent quite the sleepless night last night, first following the primary results back and forth between MSNBC and the Web,1 then lying in bed sleepless and sick over the results. Then out of bed at the computer checking further returns (hoping that Sandusky and Cuyahoga, where the polls stayed open later, would break bigger for Obama when those later returns came in) and analysis. Then more lying in bed sleepless. Then surfing specifically non-political Internet trying to get my mind off things.

I had figured Clinton would win Ohio, having heard day before yesterday that Obama was pulling out to finish campaigning in Texas. He had pretty good pollsters, turns out. But I sure was hoping he’d win Texas.

Feel positively hung over this morning. Can’t change what happened, though. Only thing is going forward. Main thing I’ve come up with is that while Clinton has gone very negative, she hasn’t yet received anything in the way of negative campaigning.

And here’s what Josh had to say as his final thoughts, at 2:21 a.m.:

A lot’s getting said tonight. And a lot of it is baseless speculation. But the one thing that rings true to me is this: The Clinton campaign got rough and nasty over the last week-plus. And they got results. That may disgust you or it may inspire you with confidence in Hillary’s abilities as a fighter. But wherever you come down on that question is secondary to the fact that that’s how campaign’s work. Opponents get nasty. And what we’ve seen over the last week is nothing compared to what Barack Obama would face this fall if he hangs on and wins the nomination.

So I think the big question is, can he fight back? Can he take this back to Hillary Clinton, demonstrate his ability to take punches and punch back? By this I don’t mean that he’s got to go ballistic on her or go after Bill’s business deals or whatever else her vulnerabilities might be. Candidates fight in different ways and if they’re good candidates in ways that play to their strengths and cohere with their broader message. But he’s got to show he can take this back to Hillary and not get bloodied and battered when an opponent decides to lower the boom.

I’m not sure how the man with the hope and the pretty speeches (who totally makes me cry sometimes; doesn’t he make you cry sometimes?) can remain the man with the hope and the pretty speeches while hitting back and bloodying She Who Is Was Inevitable. But he’s got to do it. And if he can do that, hit back and bloody and still remain Man/Hope/Pretty Speeches, then I can’t see any stopping him on his way through Denver in August and then on to November.2 If he can’t, then he wouldn’t have had a chance in November anyway.

So this is his chance. We know hope. Now we need tough hope.

1 A necessary component of this is the headphone extension cord that I recently bought. So now I can watch TV after Dawn goes to bed.

2 But then again I’m an utterly hopeless political prognosticator, going all the way back to 1980, when I was certain that Reagan would pick Phil Crane to be his running mate. I’ve always been this total dork that you see before you.

And Yet My Wife Doesn’t Think I Am

Found a link to one of those quiz things. Found it on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, being guest-hosted this week, by a few folks, including Stephen Bainbridge. He’s 57% feminist. Tells me that I’m 95% feminist, by virtue of answering strongly agree to every question except the one about the morning after pill, to which I put not sure.


You Are 95% Feminist
You are a total feminist. This doesn’t mean you’re a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It’s a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.


Dawn tells me that, despite my claim to being so, I am anything but a feminist. She thinks I’m a chauvinist pig.

Who ya gonna believe?

Rumsfeld and Mehlman

Secretary Rumsfeld “resigned” yesterday.

Most interesting to me is the timing. I haven’t seen any pundits anywhere say so, but to me the President’s announcement smacks of diversion, as a way of making big news himself the day after the Democrats made such big news of their own. He says that he would have been announcing Rumsfeld’s “resignation” either way, win or lose, but I don’t believe him.

And I say that I don’t believe him, I can say that the President is simply lying, because in his press conference the President admits to having lied about Rumsfeld’s tenure only a week before. (Emphasis mine.):

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld will be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this, and how much does it have to do with the election results?

THE PRESIDENT: Right. No, you and Hunt and Keil came in the Oval Office, and Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they’re going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn’t want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer.

The truth of the matter is, as well I mean, that’s one reason I gave the answer, but the other reason why is I hadn’t had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn’t had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet at that point.

The President lies. The President admits to lying. Nobody much notices or cares.*

But what it makes me think of more is, after the Republican revolution in 1994, Speaker Gingrich seemed to be the bigger figure in Washington. There was even a press conference where a reporter asked President Clinton if he, if the presidency, were still relevant. I’m sure that’s why President Bush is if front of reporters and announcing major changes. To insist that he’s still relevant.

It’s a politically smart move, but then nobody ever accused this guy of being politically dumb.

And the long knives are out not just for Rumsfeld, though. News today is Ken Mehlman is “resigning” as well. Or, rather, not running for a second term as chair of the RNC. Looks like he’s taking the fall, for Libby Dole at the NRSC, for Tom Reynolds at the NRCC, but even more so for Karl Rove, the Emperor to Mehlman’s Darth Vader. (Or, Mehlman is to Rove what Rove used to be to Lee Atwater, and the lot of them being the bad cops to Bush good cops.)

* Now, if he’d lied about having sex with that woman, now that’d be some news, wouldn’t it?

Say Goodnight, Gracie

Burns and Allen concede. Republicans lose Senate as well.

Especially gratifying is the Allen loss, for the fact that he is so odiously repellent, but then also since it dashes whatever presidential aspirations he may have had. And that goes maybe double for Santorum in PA, although I do feel a slight twinge of guilt about him as well, being that he’s a fellow Catholic and I’ve seen him going to Mass at St. Joe’s.

Otherwise gratifying is McCaskill’s win in MO, after the whole flap where Michael J. Fox had to defend himself for having a debilitating disease. And then there’s the 22nd district in Texas, Tom Delay’s old seat, flipping to the Dems. Although that pickup is somewhat diminished because the GOP ran a write-in candidate named Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. Honestly, people, you expected voters to write in S-e-k-u-l-a-G-i-b-b-s? Next time try something less complicated and weird.

Glad to see Sherwood the mistress throttler lose in PA, but that’s offset by Gibbons the waittress molester winning in NV. Glad to see Curt Weldon lose, after he weirdly accused the FBI of some sort of Democratic conspiracy when they raided offices of lobbying shops connected to him.

Disappointed, though, by Ford’s loss in TN, after the outrageous RNC bimbo ad against him, and Ken Mehlman pretending that he had nothing to do with it. And disappointed that the evil Jean Schmidt seems to be holding on in Ohio’s 2nd district, although it’s still so close that it hasn’t been called.

And locally, glad to see both Ehrlich and Steele go down in flames. Apparently they hired homeless people to campaign near polling stations in Baltimore and PG County. Well, okay, except they hired homeless people from Philadelphia, who wouldn’t especially know that the sample ballots that they were handing out listed Ehrlich and Steele as Democrats. No, I’m not kidding.

Regime Change

I’d been so looking forward to today’s entry, hoping I’d be able to say something about the President and Republicans in general getting spanked by the American people.

And it seems to be the case, more or less, looking like the Repubs having failed to flip anything their way. The New York Times always has the best graphics for elections, and, where they have little blue cubes for Democratic gains and red for Republican, there’s not a single red. Not a single Republican gain. Not a single House or Senate seat. Not a single Governor. They held on to some, but they gained nothing. And lost quite a bit more. The House is clearly in the Democratic majority. More than half of Governors will be Democrats. And the Senate is hanging in the balance, but looks like the GOP will lose it.

But, I’d also been describing to people how I would be only happy with a real bloodletting. A Republican bloodbath, is what I called it. Just metaphorically, of course. But somehow the news about Adrienne Shelly being murdered kinda puts a damper on things. Makes me feel ashamed for using such coarse terms.

Still, the election news itself does cheer me somewhat. I wear a blue sweater, to celebrate the blue victory, but I’m wearing a green shirt underneath. Today I may be blue on the outside, but I’m still green on the inside. Tomorrow I’ll go back to remembering that I’m not a Democrat, that they’re not my party.

Wow, Joe

Somebody else apparently way smarter than I am? Joe Lieberman.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, running as an independent, gets 53 percent of likely voters, with 41 percent for Democratic primary winner Ned Lamont and 4 percent for Republican Alan Schlesinger, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Most incredible to me, and disheartening as well, is that among likely Republican voters, the Senator leads the actual Republican nominee by a vast margin, 75% to 10%. Heck, even Mr. Lamont gets more support than Mayor Schlesinger, with 13%.

“Sen. Lieberman’s support among Republicans is nothing short of amazing. It more than offsets what he has lost among Democrats. As long as Lieberman maintains this kind of support among Republicans, while holding onto a significant number of Democratic votes, the veteran Senator will be hard to beat,” said Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D.

Long time until November though. But I sure had figured that support for Senator Lieberman’s independent bid would fade quite soon after the primary. Wrong, dummy!

Meanwhile, President Bush refuses to endorse Mayor Schlesinger. And looks like the NRSC is stiffing their candidate in Connecticut as well, giving him absolutely no money at all.


To no surprise, Ned Lamont defeats Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. Oh, how I do so utterly dislike Joe Lieberman. He went to high school with Sarah, my mother-in-law, is about his only redeeming feature. I am ecstatic that he loses today.

Let us remember Senator Lieberman’s odiously sanctimonious speech on the Senate floor, on September 3, 1998, telling us of his “deep disappointment and personal anger” at President Clinton, and speaking of “the moral consequences for our country.” I have to admit that I’d never heard of him before, that this was my introduction to the man. Not a good first impression. As if the impeachment really had anything to do with anything other than naked partisan politics. Senator Lieberman, however, was the greatest enabler among the Democrats.

I should like so much to hear the Senator speak now of his deep disappointment and personal anger over the mendacious way this current President has comported himself. I should like to hear him speak of the moral consequences for our country due to holding hundreds of men for years without charge or trial, subjecting them to degrading treatment and brutal interrogation.

This incident of course factored into Vice-President Gore’s decision to pick Senator Lieberman as his running mate, in that such a choice would help distance himself from President Clinton. And I suppose it did that. We simply note here then without further comment that President Clinton carried Florida in 1996.

Let us also remember Senator Lieberman’s debate with Dick Cheney on October 5, 2000, in Danville KY, gently letting Mr. Cheney get away with claiming that he had amassed his wealth by his own hard work, that “the government had absolutely nothing to do with it.” The best comeback that Senator Lieberman could think of: to claim that he himself might be persuaded then to go to work in the private sector.

As if Mr. Cheney’s employment at Halliburton was not dependent on his having been Secretary of Defense. As if Halliburton did not make vast sums from government contracts. As if Senator Lieberman were unaware of any of this.

And then, in that same election in 2000, Senator Lieberman simultaneously ran for both Vice-President and his Senate seat, likely ensuring then that, in the event that Gore/Lieberman had won, the Republicans would have controlled the Senate, Senator Lieberman then giving up his seat.

It’s the same as the Senator working on an independent run for Senate in Connecticut, hedging his bets, even before the Democratic primary. Senator Lieberman has consistently chosen himself over his party. And of course that’s his prerogative. And then it’s the prerogative of the Democratic voters to choose party over Senator Lieberman.

Greater than all of the other minor points, of course, is the Senator’s continued hawkish support for the war in Iraq. And, along with that, Senator-Elect Lamont’s opposition to same. And, therefore, the agreement of a majority of the voters in the primary today. And that’s called democracy.

Oh, but the howls we hear from the right. Morton Kondracke actually claimed that “the future of civility in American politics” is on the line in this particular primary election. David Brooks calls this exercise in democracy a “liberal inquisition.” (Similar to my ears to Byron York’s description of the 2004 presidential election, the very name of his book, the “vast left-wing conspiracy” to “bring down a president.”) And Kondracke and Brooks are ostensibly the more moderate among those on the right. I can’t imagine, and God help me I surely don’t want to know, what the nutty Savages and Limbaughs have been saying.

Wilsons Sue Libby, Cheney, Rove

Funny, after seeing Ambassador Wilson chatting nonchalantly on his cell phone yesterday, there’s news today about him. Case 1:06-cv-01258-JDB filed today in the US District Court here in DC. Maybe had I talked to him yesterday I could’ve gotten a scoop? Blew my big chance, didn’t I?

I wonder a little, not especially seriously, about the Wilsons’ motivations behind the suit. I have no other information, but I personally believe that it’s somewhat peevish. The suit itself seeks relief including but not limited to compensatory damages, exemplary and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees and costs, but I imagine the best part of it all for them is the hassle for and political damage to the defendants.

It’s the best part of it all to me as well. Let’s toast to it and wish it well, all the success, say as much success as Jones v. Clinton.


from The Declaration of Independence

The bulk of the Declaration is a list of 27 grievances against the King. Here they are listed, with emphasis added to a choice few:

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

— Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776

Besides those of colour, figure, and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They [blacks] have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidnies (sic), and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odour … They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation … Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

— Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Viginia, pp. 264-266, 1781


I hesitate1 to dip a toe into this cesspool again, or, to maybe somewhat mix metaphors, to continue this ridiculous pissing match, but I have to mention having laughed ruefully at my poor brother’s feeble attempt to enumerate examples of the level of vitriol directed at our President, in contrast to the bile directed at his, the President’s, predecessor.

Rob lists as his first example a quote from a columnist in another country. And then an actual American, thankfully, a politician even. Oh, but wait. Only a candidate, actually. A candidate for city council in California somewhere. Oh, and the last example, even better, a college student.

Oh, please.

I’ll simply counter with the very American, actual office holder, in the United States House of Representatives, sitting chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, calling President Clinton a scumbag, a used condom, in an interview, and then obstinately refusing even to apologize.

Then I’ll go with Francisco Martin Duran, convicted of attempting to assassinate President Clinton after firing dozens of rounds from a semi-automatic carbine into the White House2

There’s also our friend Frank Eugene Corder, crashing a plane into the White House.3

Comparing all of this to the ramblings of a college student? Bah. That’s what I call bullshit.

1No, really. It’s true. It’s depressing, but then also is very distracting. I get really behind on blog entries, worrying and chewing over and getting angry and then depressed and more worry and chewing over ad infinitum, when I’m working on these.

2Although in true pissing match style, Rob can possibly counter Mr. Duran with Vladimir Arutinian, although the nature of Mr. Arutinian’s failure, indicative of rather a lack of purpose, as well as his very foreign location, might greatly diminish his value in this equation.

3But I think I’ll have to trade Mr. Corder for Robert Pickett. Both suicides or would-be suicides, to be certain, but Mr. Corder’s much more in the vein of trying to take someone, say President Clinton, with him, rather than Mr. Pickett’s more classic suicide-by-cop attempt.

Blah blah Ginger

Once again I’m surprised by my brother, swooping in yet again to drop a stinky pile of corn-infested dung. Last time it was my use of the word “meddle” with respect to US and Mexico. This time, however, he accuses me of saying a lot of ugly things, which things I in fact never actually said. This really saddens me, for some reason, how I say one thing but he hears another. But, for the record, although it even depresses me just to do this much, I will respond.

Rob: So, this guy would rather kill you than look at you, but he’s not “the enemy” because Bush said he was?

I most certainly did not say that because the President declared Zarqawi to be my enemy, therefore I must think that Zarqawi cannot be my enemy. What I did say is that Zarqawi did not necessarily become my enemy simply by mere virtue of the fact that the President declared him to be so. I deliberately chose not to say that he either was or was not my enemy. I got in enough trouble in April when I said that Pancho Villa was my pal, so I’m a little more careful than that.

(And Rob even trots out some quote where Zarqawi declares me to be his enemy. I may very well be Zarqawi’s enemy, but I didn’t say that he was (or wasn’t) mine.)

Rob: I’m glad you admitted that you would rather the war went bad[ly], that you would rather Americans die than have the President do well.

I most certainly did not say that I wished the war would go badly. I wrote about Iraq in this space in January, saying that I didn’t support “the wholesale withdrawal of American troops.” If fact, I said, “If anything, we need more troops.” This time, however, in the Zarqawi post in question, I offered no opinion as to how I want the war to proceed. But, frankly, the war has gone quite badly all by itself, independent of my small opinions on its conduct, on its wisdom in the first place. Americans have been dying anyway.

I only said that I regretted that Zarqawi’s death would reflect well on the President, lamenting the fact that the President might be viewed as having done something well, anything at all, since I see him as having done so many things poorly.

But, regarding those Americans who have been dying anyway, I honestly do have so much more sympathy for the poor Iraqi civilians caught in the middle of all this. I always have more sympathy for the victims of war, rather than the combatants. When the combatants themselves are conscripts, I sympathize with them, too, of course. But our troops are all volunteers.

(Now, I realize that this is very much closer to Markos’s “screw them” philosophy than is comfortable for you. But I don’t think Paul shares this view. I don’t even know if he knows what you’re talking about, so leave him alone about Kos.)

I do of course recognize that Saddam Hussein was a terrible despot, that he killed a lot of civilians his own self. But I still don’t have to believe that this war was the answer to that problem.

Rob: Most of those with BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) can’t admit as much.

Rob hated President Clinton and his administration just as much as anybody hates President Bush now. I specifically remember his view on the tragic raid on David Koresh’s compound in Waco, when he said, as if quoting Attorney General Reno, giving the order to attack, “They’re hurting the children. Kill them all.” Whether he truly believed that the Clinton administration deliberately massacred those people, I don’t know. But that’s what he said.

Moreover, Rob declared that Clinton wasn’t even legitimately elected, having received only a plurality of the vote, rather than a majority. Funny, that, just a couple years later.

Rob: I guess if it makes Chimpy look bad, then our troops should all come home draped in Old Glory, huh?

Sigh. Do I really have to go through all of this?

I did not call anyone Chimpy.

Criticism of Clinton or Carter was and is always fair game. But, oddly, whenever it’s a Republican president in question, criticism of said president is somehow equated with criticism of the United States itself, with being unpatriotic. When Natalie Maines said that she was ashamed that the President was from Texas, Rob took to calling them the “Vichy Chicks,” labeling them traitors to their country for criticizing a person or a government policy.

Rob: And you, Paul; do you object strongly to Zarqawi’s video of Nick Berg’s beheading? Or the video of the 4 dead American contractors hanging from the bridge (You know, your buddy Kos’ “screw ’em” guys)?Or is shit like that only UNacceptable when BushCo does it? (See BDS above)

I’m really getting sick of this. But let’s try to finish. Criticism of one’s own government simply does not imply the endorsement of barbarism by anyone else. Paul is right to label this attack as absurd.

We don’t vote for Zarqawi. We don’t vote for al Qaida. They don’t represent us. We do vote for (or against) the President. He does represent us. He is responsible for us as we are responsible for him. As citizens we are empowered, we are even required by our civic duty, to speak up when we think that what he does, what our government does, on our behalf, is wrong.

I personally stopped reading Rob’s blog for a long time after he posted the picture of Zarqawi brandishing poor Mr. Berg’s severed head. It was tastelessly using the horrifying image for cheap gain. It was using it as pornography. And that’s exactly what Paul was complaining about, the picture of Zarqawi, matted and gold-framed no less. Or the pictures of Qusay and Uday Hussein, splayed and dead, when they were killed.

Beheading innocent people is a priori barbaric and wrong. Unless someone says otherwise, I’m going to assume that they’re against it. But displaying pictures of the dead, it isn’t necessarily wrong. But it might just be a bad idea.

Pancho Villa

Honestly, I pretty much knew nothing about Pancho Villa when I wrote the earlier post, except his name. Or I guess I knew that he maybe was in a Hollywood movie once, that like maybe somebody filmed him attacking a train or something and used that in a movie. But that’s about it. And I mentioned as well Emiliano Zapato, about whom I know even less, except that he’s evidently where the Zapatistas get their name.

Pancho Villa apparently was somewhat vaguely Marxist, in his own way. I love though the description of him from his Wikipedia entry: “Villa’s revolutionary aims (other than military goals), unlike those of Emiliano Zapata’s Plan de Ayala, were never clearly defined. Villa spoke vaguely of creating communal military colonies for his ex-soldiers…” I don’t know how committed a Marxist he was, then, other than speaking vaguely. And he apparently really was in the movies, four of them. All told, he sounds to me more like a bandit than anything else. Probably would have loved to have been dictator himself. Was in fact provisional governor (dictator) of Guadalajara for a while.

But, then, I did in fact call Pancho Villa “pal” in the earlier post, specifically as in being one of “our pals,” as if he were my pal, without actually knowing anything about him. So for that I apologize. I didn’t mean anything by it though. I mean, he never did anything against me personally, so I got nothing against him. But he wasn’t especially a nice guy either, so I got nothing for him then neither.

Or what I know of him is that he was some sort of outlaw. And we all love the outlaw archetype, don’t we? Whether Jesse James or Pancho Villa or Pretty Boy Floyd. Dig deep down and you’ll most likely find a real thug, a pig of a person, a killer, but the legend is the thing that we love, not so much the person. So that’s about all I was going for, with the “pal,” I suppose.

But then again, no, not just that, but maybe a little bit more, a Robin Hood type figure, rich/poor/robbing from/giving to type deal. Always fun.

But, Pancho Villa was a pro-American outlaw before he was an anti-American outlaw. To wit, here’s a link to a picture of Villa and Pershing, a picture from 1914, back when they were in fact pals, back when the US supported Villa, before they cut off aid to him and then in 1916 Villa in a pique of revenge attacked Columbus NM and killed US soldiers and civilians so then Pershing led the Punitive Expedition into Mexico after him.

But I’m not all hung up about all this. It’s all war and realpolitik and deals with the devil and backstabbing and betrayal. Whatever. That’s just war. And like I said before, this whole Mexican Revolution thing is really beyond my ability to grasp, way beyond my ken anyway.

But, bottom line, Pancho Villa is not really my pal.


Rob wrote in to chastise me about my comment about the US “meddling” in Mexican affairs, specifically with respect to Pancho Villa. He apparently thought I was referring the Punitive Expedition, in 1916, where General Blackjack Pershing led US troops into Mexico, after Pancho Villa attacked Columbus NM and killed US soldiers and civilians.

But I was specifically referring to US ambassador to Mexico Henry Lane Wilson, who helped Victoriano Huerta overthrow, capture and assassinate Francisco Madero during the Decena Tragica in 1913. But, anyway, in this particular case, it’s not like Madero himself was a nice guy or anything. Neither was Porfiro Diaz, for that matter, the guy Madero replaced.

But, frankly, it’s not like a secret or anything that the US was involved. Heck, it was official US policy to meddle in the affairs of our southern neighbors. President Theodore Roosevelt unapologetically articulated as such in his annual message to the Congress in 1904. In the section Policy Toward Other Nations of the Western Hemisphere, he specifically announced that the United States, in the case of “wrongdoing” or “impotence” by another country, the United States would be “forced” to the “exercise of an international police power.” We then proceeded to invade and occupy Cuba, Nicaragua (three times), Haiti , and the Dominican Republic in the next thirty years, before the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine was replaced by FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy.

Honestly, Rob totally surprised me. I didn’t imagine that I was saying anything even remotely controversial.

Meddling, it’s just what we do.

Not Just Republicans

Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses: it’s not just for Republican presidents.

I want to clarify something, stemming from the earlier post, about Argentina and the Junta and President Reagan. I single out President Reagan because it was during his administration that I became aware of these things, when I got to the University of Minnesota and met great MPIRG activists and joined the cause. My focus then was more directly on nuclear freeze issues, but on the Peace Task Force we also dealt with the then current issues in Central America, specifically El Salvador and Nicaragua. And there especially is where I take President Reagan to task.

But the coup in Argentina was earlier and, like the coup in Chile, goes back to Presidents Ford and Nixon and, even more specifically and ominously, to Henry Kissinger.

But, but, but. But there also in the late seventies was President Carter. And many, many of the FOIA documents, found on the National Security Archive website of George Washington University, are from his administration. Like see here, an internal memo of the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, where a security officer writes to the American ambassador, only ten days after Azucena Villaflor has been disappeared, when she maybe was still alive, conjecturing, correctly as it turns out, that she and the other mothers were likely abducted by the Argentine Navy. Again, though, I was 12 years old and wasn’t aware of these things at the time (although these documents weren’t declassified until decades later, so not many folks were then). And but furthermore, in his defense, I do remember President Carter getting a whole lot of flak for his stance on human rights, and the observance thereof being a basic tenet of U.S. foreign policy, whereas then and later Reagan and the right were only ever concerned about abuses in the Soviet Bloc and their allies.

But the narrow point here is, yes, the coup in Argentina was very much before Reagan. I understand that.

A Political Town

Sunday we had as our guest in our home the chair of the city council, Chairwoman Linda Cropp. She’s running for mayor and, doing some retail campaigning, was going door to door on our street. We had an advance guy knock first, then another advance guy, and then finally she arrived. I had picked up some the clutter hurriedly before she arrived, but she declined our offer of a seat or a cup of coffee. She just wanted to give her spiel and ask for our vote.

I’m glad that she asked. That was one of the basic tenets that I had read in Chris Matthews’s book so many years ago. You have to ask for the vote.

I told her that I was pleased with her somewhat harder stance on the stadium, since I was unsure as to how much I supported it. Dawn told her that she was concerned about crime, about the various murders on our street the last year.

And then today, walking this morning to work, on the 100 block of C Street Northeast, there at the Hart and Dirksen Senate Office Buildings, we passed by Senator Rick Santorum. I said, “Good Morning, Senator.” He replied with the same, “Good morning.” But he was in the midst of pulling out his cell phone and making a call so he didn’t seem in the mood to chat. And we think he’s pretty much a nut anyway. So we all just kept walking.

Dawn didn’t recognize him, actually, but of course knew who he was when I told her. And then I mentioned to her that he’d been described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “one of the finest minds of the 13th century.” Dawn, who has a master’s degree in medieval studies, retorted that this insults the 13th century.

Later research reveals that the “finest minds” description is not official Inquirer policy but rather comes courtesy of a columnist therein, one Tom Ferrick Jr.

Vice President Shoots Elderly Man in Face

Sadly, no one is surprised. I mean, you can just picture Dick Cheney doing a thing like that, can’t you?

Oh, and this happened on Saturday afternoon. The Veep’s staff then left it up to the owner of the property to notify the media. You know, I mean, whatever, if she really want to say anything at all.

So she called the local newspaper the next day.

Justice Alito

For some strange reason, my father, in his dotage, is becoming more of a political animal. Sadly, such transformation involves becoming pretty much something of a dittohead. He calls the New York Times the “Traitor Times.” He says the Washington Post is not so much traitorous as corrupt. He subscribes to the Washington Times now, balancing out Sharon’s subscription to the Post. Oh, yeah, he reads Ann Coulter now, too.

Whatever. It’s good at least to see him at least paying attention to the body politic, although he has some catching up to do. He asked me to explain “undue burden” to him on Saturday. I mean, I’m no scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think any discussion of Roe necessitates a little background knowledge, Griswold and Casey at least. Or at least know who Harry Blackmun is before you go declaring that he pulled Roe out of his ass.

There are a handful of Supreme Court decisions we should all be at least passingly familiar with: Marbury v. Madison, Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown, Miranda, and Roe.

Get a little bit geekier and throw Korematsu in there, at least for lefties. And then we can go back before Roe to Griswold and then forward to Casey.

So, anyway, my father also seemed quite triumphant over Alito’s appoinment, treating it almost as a personal victory. I myself found Judge Alito quite the dissembler, regarding his personal views when presenting himself as a job applicant to the Reagan Justice Department vs. his views now when presenting himself as a job applicant to the Senate, regarding his affiliation with Concerned Alumni of Princeton, and regarding Vanguard and (non) recusal.

But, hell, they confirmed Rehnquist, and he defended Plessy.

And so now we have five Catholics on the Supreme Court. Gee, you think that’s an accident? Think somebody’s up to something?

Icky Anti-War Movement

I’m feeling guilty still about the post below, about how distasteful I find much of the pro-life movement. Not the movement’s goals, mind you, but the movement’s members.

So I want to plug into the discussion here my distaste for many in the anti-war crowd as well. Again, I believe in an anti-war movement, but I don’t necessarily see a good one most days in the one we’ve got.

I absolutely fundamentally opposed going into Iraq, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t much broke up about going into Afghanistan, I suppose, but I wasn’t especially thrilled about it either. But Iraq? No way.

And then to have fucked up the whole Iraq thing before, during, and after? Unforgivable.


Ah, yes. But. What do we do now?

I don’t support then the wholesale withdrawal of American troops, to leave a basket case and/or power vacuum. If anything, we need more troops. Maybe not more American troops, but definitely more Saudi troops, more Egyptian troops.

Similar to Nixon’s Vietnamization policy, this President seems to be heading down an Iraqization policy road, saying we’ll stand down when the Iraqi troops stand up. I’ll believe that when I see it, but what I see now is this President just laying the groundwork for pullout, eventually leaving behind basket case or whatever.

So, anyway, back to the anti-war crowd. Mostly they seem to call for bringing the American soldiers home for the sake of bringing the soldiers home. The political message is the message, is all I see.

Powell seems to have been right, yet again. First with the Powell Doctrine, which is to have great public support to begin with, then to go in with overwhelming force, and to have a strict military objective which, when achieved, allows going back out again. This President didn’t have any of this going to Iraq, the dolt. Then Powell’s second point was the Pottery Barn Rule, meaning you break it, you bought it. We broke Iraq, so we now own it, and we don’t seem to be able to handle the caretaking. No wonder he bolted for the second term.

So, again, sorry for the digressions, but back to the icky anti-war crowd. By icky, though, I most certainly do not mean Michael Moore, who remains a great hero to me to this day. Admittedly I read Ben Hamper’s Rivethead before I saw Roger & Me, so I was maybe a little late to join the crowd, but I think Moore is a great humanist, a great humorist, and especially a great polemicist, and Roger & Me will always be on my Top Ten List. Oh, and Ted Rall is great as well.

But them A.N.S.W.E.R. Stalinists or whatever they are? Feh. With friends like these…

Icky pro-life movement?

Hmmm. What am I saying here?

I guess this all ties up together for me with what are all of the life issues: abortion, suicide and assisted forms thereof, euthanasia, the death penalty, and war.

In sheer numbers, abortions must kill the most each year, over a million each year in the U.S. alone, easily dwarfing death penalty and war. Harder to say worldwide, though. Maybe 50 million abortions per year worldwide, according to a quick article scan on Wikepedia, quoting a journal article from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.

But from my own phenomenological perspective, how responsible am I for any of those deaths? As opposed to how much responsibility do I share when my state executes someone, or when my government goes to war and, ostensibly accidentally, drops bombs on and thus kills innocents?

I am responsible for abortion deaths by not marching for life, no doubt. But then I am responsible for state executions and war, by not actively opposing them in whatever marches of vigils are held in or out of town. And then add to that the mere fact that executions and war are state-sponsored activities, states where I am an active member, so I feel like I’m in some way doing the actual killing.

So there’s where my disagreement with the usual right-wing characters comes about. This President coöpts the Holy Father’s “Culture of Life” rhetoric, while at the same time killing prisoners as governor (and even mocking Karla Faye Tucker’s pleas for clemency) and promulgating war in Iraq.

So the March for Life doesn’t so much cover the gamut of life for me. It’s a March Against Abortion.

Which is not bad, but it’s not enough.

I see bumper stickers that say “You can’t be Catholic and Pro-Abortion.” And, okay, I’ll go along with that. But how can you be Catholic and pro-death penalty too? How can you be Catholic and not anti-war?

March for Life Day

I go to work instead and feel guilty about not marching for life. And I feel guilty about how icky I find so much of the pro-life movement.

I’ve always thought that someday, maybe a hundred and forty years from now, people will look back at our time, and abortion, much the same way we look back at slavery, wondering how decent people could have believed in or fought over what so clearly is wrong.

But then I feel guilty about not doing enough to bring that time about, or bring it about sooner.

I don’t much feel guilty about how much I hate the Washington Times and Republicans and that man in the White House. But then, just now, saying it, I do feel guilty.

And I don’t understand why the president only ever phones the march but never appears. I seem to remember George H.W. starting this, but maybe that evil Reagan did it before then. I don’t remember that though.

And now Canada’s looking even worse. What’s a boy to do?