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August 28, 2006

Sorry for what?

New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has apologized for calling the WTC site a "hole in the ground." The question is, why? I see it every day, and that's exactly what it is. To have it be thus five years out is a sin and a shame and should be a searing indictment against the key players and stakeholders. I don't like it any better than anyone else, but I see no reason to pussyfoot around the sad reality.

August 27, 2006

The Bush-JonBenet nexus

I'm still catching up on the two weeks of news I missed, but the biggest splash by far would have to be the arrest in the JonBenet Ramsey case. And don't think we didn't notice that this "news" just happened to coincide with Bush plumbing new depths in the polls! That Rove is a crafty one, all right, but we're not buying it this time.

This whole JonBenet thing is a real touchstone for Bush critics, for reasons I don't altogether understand. And it's not just Jill, either. My in-laws, who live in Switzerland, were grousing about it yesterday. The world is going to hell, they said, and Americans aren't interested, because they're mesmerized by wall-to-wall JonBenet coverage, and that isn't even real "news," they sniffed, not like they have in Europe.

Ironically, not more than two hours later they were going on and on about some Austrian girl who had been held captive in some pedophiles tiny cellar for eight years before she escaped last week. Apparently this qualifies as real news, because Europe is abuzz with it. That I fail to appreciate the qualitative difference between this and interest in the JonBenet Ramsey case merely underscores my daft American simplisme.

August 11, 2006


Early tomorrow morning I'll head off for two weeks in Maine. I'll be far, far removed from the series of tubes that comprise the Internet (it is not a truck!) so I probably won't be doing much blogging until I get back. Take care, and I'll see ya around the end of the month.

The Democrats' terror problem

Back during the 2004 presidential campaign, there were at least a few attempts by the Democratic candidates to convince the voting populace that they too took Islamic terrorism seriously. John Edwards' "You cannot run, you cannot hide. We will destroy you." comes to mind. Sadly, it proved to be a one-off, election season soundbite rather than the start of a new trend, and that kind of talk has been as scarce as hen's teeth ever since Election Day, and I don't understand why.

If I were a Democrat (ha ha) I would be screaming bloody murder about how this administration was not doing enough to fight al Qaeda. I would do so with specific proposals for positive, pro-active steps. Simply saying "We shouldn't have invaded Iraq" or bitching about wiretaps and bank records isn't going to cut it. The Democrats have to get out there with the message that they're eager to take this fight to al Qaeda in a more effective way than Bush has done. It's not enough to simply point out that Bush screwed up.

They have to offer us a viable alternative in order to be taken seriously. Rightly or wrongly, the Democratic Party has an image problem when it comes to the War on Terror. They can blame that problem on Bush or FoxNews or Karl Rove all they want to, but at the end of the day they're doing approximately jack shit to try to dislodge that image.

Andrew Sullivan says it here and here better than I ever could.

But, for all Cheney's and Rumsfeld's flaws, they are at least proposing something serious, however ineptly carried out. I have yet to hear anti-war voices on the left propose a positive strategy for defeating Islamist terror at its roots, or call for democratization of the Arab Muslim world. Indeed, I heard little but scorn or silence when Bush announced this vision in London. Do the Democrats stand for democracy in Iraq? Or in Iran? Do they favor Beinart-style containment of Islamism? Nuclear deterrence against Tehran? Certainly, the Kossites seem utterly uninterested in any of these subjects. That's their prerogative; and it's equally my prerogative not to take them seriously until they do.


I've been a ferocious critic of Bush, but primarily because I believe this war is extremely important, and that he has been grotesquely inept and immoral in his conduct of it. The threat, as we were reminded this morning, is as grave as ever. Bush's incompetence has compounded it. When DailyKossers simply decide to ignore, say, the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in favor of domestic Democratic in-fighting, they are telling us something. They're telling us they still have no clue about the struggle we are in.... The Kossites are telling us that if they control the Democratic party, the Dems will not take the threat seriously enough.... Maybe those who understand the threat on the left can now take on their comrades who put the "war on terror" in quote-marks.

I understand that criticizing the president is easy, while proposing serious, viable alternatives is hard. But it's too important for the Democrats not to do. Like most Americans, as well as an increasing number of conservatives, I'm hungry for credible alternatives. I wish there was an opposition party that could actually provide some.

"Put your yarmulke on and celebrate."

Just in case there's any lingering doubt that the entire country is better off without Cynthia McKinney in Congress, this should put them to rest permanently.

By the way, this clip highlights another of my pet peeves. One of McKinney's entourage is heard referring to Hank Johnson as an "Uncle Tom." This is clearly a vile slander, but people who use the term "Uncle Tom" as a pejorative do so in ignorance, in my opinion, and have obviously never actually read Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel. I don't see how it's possible to read that book and still employ the term "Uncle Tom" as an insult. Tom is arguably one of the finest and noblest characters in American literature, not at all the shuffling Steppin Fetchit the term evokes.

Wiretapping debate redux

Given recent news events, we can certainly expect another round of debate over the enhanced electronic surveillance practices in the post-9/11 world. The Republicans shouldn't expect to gain much traction from it, however. The Democrats will respond with the predictable: "Good heavens, we're not against wiretapping in general. We're just against George Bush doing it."

August 10, 2006

Peculiar silence

Needless to say, this has pretty much dominated the entire news cycle today. I guess it's pretty big news if Britain thwarts the biggest terror attack since 9/11.

It's odd, because in perusing the leading lefty bloggers Kos and Atrios, I see nary a mention of this news (Kos's big story seemed to be how the Michigan GOP's website lacks a picture of Bush.) It seems to me that this would be an excellent opportunity for the new intellectual leaders of the Democratic Party to convince us that they take terrorism very seriously. You'd think a story like this would at least merit a mention, right? Sadly, I guess they just don't see it that way. Infer from that what you will.

On the thwarted terror attack

Don't get me wrong. I'm really, really glad the terror attack was thwarted before it could be carried out. That's very good news, and the bad news pales in comparison. Still, I have an uneasy suspicion that my days of sneaking vodka onto airplanes in empty Tropicana bottles are over.

August 09, 2006

Handicapping Joe

Well, it looks like Joe Lieberman is setting himself up to run as an independent after all. I was skeptical of this idea at first. I just wasn't sure what kind of calculus convinced Joe he could face the guy he lost to in a two-way race and beat him in a three-way race in which the center-right vote was split between Lieberman and some crooked Republican. It smelled more of desperation than a viable strategy.

After last night's closer than expected primary race, however, I'm not so sure. The late momentum clearly in his favor, Lieberman rode a last-minute tailwind to within less than two points of victory when most polls had him trailing by double digits the week before. I think Lieberman is probably banking on "buyer's remorse" to set in as Connecticut Democrats realize they've tossed out the 18-year Senate veteran, and former party standard-bearer in favor of a trust fund neophyte who is decidedly not ready for prime time.

Couple that with the fact that voters in the general election are going to be far more predisposed to vote for Lieberman than were the primary voters, as Joe Six-Packs will cast their ballots in much greater numbers, consigning the Kos/MoveOn to a much smaller fraction of voters.

My new assessment of Lieberman's chances? I'm thinking of George C. Scott's line in Dr. Strangelove: "Has he a chance?.....Hell, yes! He has one hell of a chance!"

August 08, 2006

The results are in!!

The bad news is that I lost a case of beer. (I haven't seen anyone other than Drudge actually call the race yet, but I don't see how Lieberman can put the arithmetic together at this point.) The good news is that Georgia Democrats had the good sense to send this hateful bigot packing, hopefully for good this time.

But enough about her. The Lieberman/Lamont race is far more interesting. I feel awfully lonely on the whole Joe Lieberman thing, and either I'm nuts or the entire political landscape has turned into Bizarro-world. I frankly find Joe Lieberman to be the same whiny little creep he was back in 2000, and it's freakin' beyond me why A) it took the Democrats six years to figure it out, and B) why so many Republicans are suddenly kissing the guy's ass just because of his unapologetic support for the war. Makes no sense to me, but welcome to American Politics 2006, I guess.

November will be interesting. It's a pity the Republicans can't find a halfway viable candidate, because as anyone who's seen or heard Ned Lamont speak extemporaneously knows, the guy is simply not ready for prime time. He managed a narrow victory in the Democratic primary that was all about Joe Lieberman, but I doubt he'll perform as well in a race that's actually about Ned Lamont.

I guess the big potential wild card in the whole picture is whether Lieberman will, in fact, run as an independent. Ace seems convinced that he won't actually do it, that it was all a big bluff. Normally, I'd be inclined to agree, but this is the same guy who ran for vice president and the Senate simultaneously, all the while insisting with a straight face that he was absolutely confident of a Gore win. It's not like such a move would be out of character.

In the meantime, Mazel Tov, moonbats. You won one. I liked that guy in that DailyKos thread who was celebrating with chocolate martinis. I know it's kind of a girly drink, but I confess he made me want one. The sad part is that I'm all out of creme de cacao, and the liquor stores are closed. I suppose I'll just have to celebrate in my usual fashion, with a frosty mug of Arrogant Bastard. See y'all tomorrow.

Big day in Connecticut

Just because I don't really care who wins today's primary race between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont doesn't mean the race is unimportant. But beyond the fact that I have a case of beer riding on Lieberman, I haven't been able to get nearly as excited about the race as everybody else.

Still, I've remained fascinated by the race itself. I can't take my eyes off the spectacle of Democratic activists targeting one of their own safe seats with a zeal and a passion that's usually reserved strictly for Chimpy McHitlerburton himself. In reality, of course, Lieberman is hardly a Bush sycophant. In fact, he's not even Zell Miller. Go figure.

Equally absurd is the phalanx of prominent conservatives (including Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter) who are going to the mat to help get Joe re-elected. It's all symptomatic of the way the war in Iraq completely defines contemporary American politics, often bizarrely distorting the political landscape in the process.

Most Republicans I know are actually hoping for a Lieberman defeat, for the following three reasons (ranked in order of increasing significance.)

  1. The GOP's chances of picking up the senate seat would improve from "a snowball's chance in Hell" to "a snowball's chance in Miami."
  2. The Republicans would be united with a very popular governor at the top of the ticket, while Democrats would be split if Lieberman makes good on his promise to run as an independent. This would likely benefit some Republican House members in tough re-election fights in Connecticut. Several house seats in the states are considered competitive, and it's not inconceivable that control of the House could come down to how these races play out.
  3. A Lamont win would signal the end of the Clintons' era as de facto party bosses. The new marching orders would come from the Kos/MoveOn wing of the party. This, of course, is Karl Rove's wet dream.

I suppose I see their points with numbers 1 and 2, but I can't really get excited over number 3. Call me crazy, but I think the country would be better off with a viable, centrist Democratic Party than with a nonviable, moonbat party.

So net it all out and throw in the case of beer and it still comes out a wash for me. With Lamont enjoying double-digit leads in many polls and with all the passion and motivation on his side, I can't imagine the returns tonight will be particularly exciting, but I'll follow them anyway, just to watch the reactions.

August 07, 2006

Good God

Ace of Spades is you one-stop shopping place for Reutergate updates. I find the whole sordid mess entirely unsurprising, of course, but I have been enjoying (yet again!) the spectacle of the mainstream media getting caught with their pants down. Yet again, a media giant has eschewed even rudimentary fact-checking, and replaced skepticism with naive credulity when the "news" happens to fit their world view (see related item here.)

It's like deja vu all over again. How many times have we been here already? You'd think they'd learn.

Anyway, it's all been a tremendous source of amusement for me today, and I was still chuckling this evening as updates continued to come in, when my wife pointed out that it isn't quite that funny. Hajj's pictures were seen by millions throughout the world. They were deliberately calculated to inflame passions and foster anger and resentment, and I'm sure they were successful in this regard, helping to make a bad situation worse. It's not at all unlikely that these politically-motivated forgeries will lead, directly or indirectly, to the deaths of even more innocent people. I think she has a point.

Believe it or not...

Cynical Nation's senior Mid-East correspondent is on his way to Israel as we speak, and has promised to keep us abreast (heh) of the current situation from within Jerusalem. Hope he has a safe trip.

August 04, 2006

New blog

Since it might otherwise escape your notice, I'd like to point out a new addition to CN's blogroll: Selling Out America. The writing style will be very familiar to regular readers of this space, as will the author's mastery of the gentle art of persuasion. Keep this new site bookmarked so you can continue to read the author's opinions in the likely event I have to ban his sorry ass again.

August 03, 2006

Why liberals annoy me

Among her many other degrees and credentials, my wife is a certified social worker. Consequently, she gets some fairly moonbat-y e-mails from time to time. Tonight's missive, however, takes the cake.

It's an official e-mail from New Jersey's chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The e-mail thanks her for her activism (because you know all social workers think the same way, right?) in opposition to H.R. 5970.

That's gotta be a bad bill, right? What does it do? Deny social services to low-income families? Health care? Reduce their food stamps?

Well, no. It's actually a bill to raise the minimum wage 40%.

So why does the NASW oppose the bill? Because it's a compromise measure between House Democrats and Republicans that would also lower (but not eliminate) the widely unpopular death tax. Just to be clear, the controversy is not over how much the minimum wage should be increased -- the increase is exactly the same as in Senate legislation (S. 1062) that the NASW actively supported. The controversy stems from the fact that dead rich people might also actually benefit in the process.

This cuts to the heart of one of my biggest complaints about contemporary leftism. It's more important for them to screw the rich than to actually help the poor. These people are going to the mat to oppose their only realistic chance to substantially raise the minimum wage simply because it doesn't do enough to stick it to dead "rich" people. How's that for priorities?


August 01, 2006

The U.N. springs into action!!!

This story would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Bizarre doll on Amazon

All right, I'm not a prude and I'm normally pretty relaxed about such things, but I have to admit I'm a bit stunned by the Madame Alexander "Psycho" doll currently available on Amazon. Seriously, WTF?

Note that in the "product features" area it lists the recommended ages as "3 and up." What the hell are they thinking?