Saturday, November 13, 2004

Stop it

Here's my memo to Democrats. It's pretty simple:

Stop apologizing. Stop giving in. Stop pandering. Stop biting your tongue. Stop trying to be something you're not. Stop being afraid. Stop being ashamed. Stop being a victim.

Stop it stop it stop it.

Fight back. Stand up for what you believe in. Speak out, clearly and simply. Take back the word "liberal" - right now. Step up.

There's a lot more, but you get the point. The more we act like we don't know or stand behind what we believe in, the more we lose. Americans value confidence and belief much more than they care what those specific beliefs are. The whole point of being a progressive is fighting for what you believe. Let's start fighting.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Heal this, bitches

"Never give up. Never surrender."
-Capt. Peter Quincy Taggart, Galaxy Quest

All I needed to know about this election, I learned watching 'The Simpsons'

HOMER: Marge, it takes two to lie - one to lie, and one to listen.
LISA: Dad, did you know that in China they use the same word for both "crisis" and "opportunity"?
HOMER: Yes! Crisatunity!
HOMER: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
LISA: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
HOMER: Thank you, dear.
LISA: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
HOMER: Oh, how does it work?
LISA: It doesn't work.
HOMER: Uh-huh.
LISA: It's just a stupid rock.
HOMER: Uh-huh.
LISA: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
HOMER: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
MARGE: I wonder if he's going to say anything about that horrible fish.
HOMER: Oh, Marge. What's the big deal?
I bet before the papers blew this out of proportion,
you didn't even know how many eyes a fish had.
-- Watching Burns' campaign advertisement,
"Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish''
MARY BAILEY: My worthy opponent thinks that the voters of this state
are gullible fools. I, however, prefer to rely on their
intelligence and good judgement.
REPORTER: Interesting strategy.

Republican Party or Terminator: you decide

"It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear. And it absolutely will not stop – ever – until you are dead."

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


"For an awful lot of people on the losing side, there's going to be a sense of alienation, of, is this the country we thought it was?"
-David Gergen
Unfortunately, my answer is yes.

Monday, November 01, 2004


"In tomorrow's election, which would you choose: the Massachusetts liberal, or the Texas rancher?"
-random Bush flack, on "Fox and Friends" this morning
Interesting question. The problem is, neither of those guys are on the ballot. (Well, he got one out of four right - Kerry is from Massachusetts.)

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The hug offensive

The most expensive ad buy of this obscenely expensive Presidential campaign is all about Bush hugging a girl who lost her mother in the World Trade Center attacks.

Yes, I of course agree that we should be electing a President based on whether (or perhaps how vociferously) he hugged a girl whose mother died at the WTC, based on a snapshot taken by the girl's father, a Republican marketing executive.

And yes, of course a hug from the Leader of the Free World has done more for this girl's grief than anything her family could have done. And of course, this proves he will keep Ashley and all the other little girls across this great land safe in their pink canopy beds tonight and every night.

This is Republican repudiation of reality taken to its absurdist extreme. Illegal, immoral wars don't matter. Deficits don't matter. Job losses don't matter. The most secretive administration in the modern era doesn't matter. Lying to the American public doesn't matter.

Hugs matter.

I feel in my bones that this election, however it goes, won't be close. On November 2 the American public is going to wake up, and they are going to choose. They will choose the path of this country. Reality or fantasy. Democracy or authority. Peace or war. Life or death. Truth or hugs.

We'll see. We'll see.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Why I love Jon Stewart, Part Deux

Jon Stewart went on CNN's Crossfire yesterday, and kicked ass. Here are some highlights:

TUCKER CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their responsibilities?

STEWART: If I think they are.

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?

CARLSON: Thirty-five.

STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.

Jon Stewart fucking rocks. He is both my ongoing and current hero. Media Matters has the whole transcript, which is worth a read. Amazingly, I was flipping through channels and happened to catch most of Stewart's appearance; I rarely watch CNN normally. And it was bracing and fantastic and overdue.

Friday, October 15, 2004

"How dare you point out our family's shameful secret!"

(Headline stolen from my friend Mike Benedetto)

How interesting has this Mary Cheney flap been? The hypocrisy of the Cheneys and the Bush campaign in general has been epic, and that's saying something coming from them. Plus, as usual, the media follows along like drooling lapdogs, amplifying Lynne Cheney's fake rage until she becomes some sort of mother bear in a Nancy Reagan suit.

Lynne, you didn't have a problem when your husband brought up on the campaign trail that your daughter is....what is she again? Oh, yes. A LESBIAN. Lynne, you apparently didn't have a problem when Alan Keyes said your daughter was a "selfish hedonist" simply because she's a lesbian. And Lynne? How do you feel about your husband's administration trying to amend the Constitution so your daughter can never marry her long-term partner? Not too concerned about that one, huh? How about Rick Santorum, huh, Lynne? Is he a "good man"?

And then come the yapping masses called conservative bloggers, who are just outraged at John Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney. How dare he! Well, all of them, and Lynne too, can just shove their fake outrage. They all know that the only reason this is an issue is because 1) lots and lots of people, including the Cheneys themselves, think being gay is something to be ashamed of, and 2) it just throws the Republican hypocrisy about gay issues into sharp relief.

Although I've always considered Lynne Cheney to be a particularly evil satellite of the Bush team, this latest escapade has me wondering when she's going to rip her face off and reveal the hissing reptile beneath. It can't come too soon.

Friday, October 08, 2004


How much bullshit does the American public have to swallow before they choke?

The latest:

-When Paul Bremer said we didn't have enough troops to win the peace in Iraq, he was speaking "off the record."
-We invaded Iraq because of Saddam's misuse of the Oil for Food program.
-The final weapons report, which confirms what the U.N. inspectors said before the war - that Saddam had no weapons and no ties to al Qaeda - justifies going to war.
-Public documents found in Iraq in July justify a non-specific threat warning to American schools in October.
-When Donald Rumsfeld said he knew of no real evidence linking Saddam and al Qaeda, he was "misunderstood."
-The weapons report said Saddam had no nuclear program, and his capability to start anything up again was diminishing, not gathering. But to Condi Rice, "people are still debating."

When are people going to start getting sick of being fed this stuff?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Debate Episode II: The Empire Strikes Back

Dick Cheney - slumped over, with eyes blazing and hands rubbing together in glee - did his best Darth Vader impression last night during the debate with John Edwards. And he got in some telegenic if not honest digs against Edwards and Kerry.

Too bad his best line - "I've never met you before tonight" - was a lie.

Of course they'd met before, and the helpful political bloggers wasted no time in trotting out images, news stories and video proving that.

But his biggest lie of the night, "I never suggested there was a link between Saddam and 9/11," has become so ingrained in the public consciousness that it probably didn't register outside the limited ranks of political junkies. Fact is, Cheney and his flying monkeys have been pounding home the supposed connection between Saddam and 9/11 for years, and even their denials serve to at least enter a sentence into the public record that includes both terms.

It's basic advertising - Volvos are safe. Thinking safety? Think Volvo. Safety is the most important thing for Volvo. Volvo owns "safety."

Unfortunately, Edwards wasn't strong enough to counter Cheney's Vader-like stare and obvious command of the rhetoric. Edwards got in some good jabs, like pointing out how Cheney voted against Head Start, MLK Day, Meals on Wheels, and probably, puppies. But he missed many many opportunities to counter Cheney's lies - most likely because there were just so many of them. So it's probably a wash. Luke Skywalker got his hand chopped off, but he stayed alive.

Still, I keep wondering if the voters are going to start to ask themselves, why did the VP do so much better with basic things like full sentences than the President did? Who's really in charge here?

Sunday, October 03, 2004

A non-vociferous debate

(I was going to title this post "Hooray for split screen!" But that seemed too obvious.)

Voters on Thursday night saw an articulate, thoughtful, forceful man debate a petulant teenager. If that isn't enough for the electorate to decide upon, we're in deep doo-doo, as G. Bush Père would say.

Best Kerry line, when Bush tried to needle him about his comment on the $87 billion: "I made a mistake in how I talked about the war. President Bush made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

Best Bush line: "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us! I know that!"

Best shouting-at-the-TV moment: When Bush said "Saddam refused to disarm," I exclaimed, "What did he have to disarm?"

Best word-geek moment: When Bush said the terrorists in Iraq were fighting "vociferously." Completely the wrong word, unless he meant they shouted a lot.

Best "Did I just see that?" moment: Bush looking blankly into the camera for five long seconds. (And right after he asked for a 30-second rebuttal!) If that doesn't sound like very long, count it out for yourself while staring into a mirror.

Good stuff, Maynard.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Why I am in love with Jon Stewart

Pat Buchanan: The thing about the President is, he exudes confidence. He exudes certitude.

Stewart:....So does Mr. T! It's like, "He drove us into a wall, but he didn't blink!"

-The Daily Show, tonight
The way Jon Stewart cuts through the bullshit of the political arena continues to take my breath away. He can say things that other people can't, because he has the cover of comedy. But the other part of it is, he actually says them.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Just a thought

Maybe if political weblog writers and Sunday morning pundits spent a little less time debating the history of typewriter design and a little more time on the real problems this country faces, we'd be in slightly better shape as a nation.

One man's opinion.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Bush Wins! Bush Wins!

My best-case scenario for this year's election? Bush is Nixon.

I still would put money on Bush winning the election, and possibly by a significant margin. We're just too crazy right now to get off this horse. We're too afraid, and we've endured entirely too much cognitive dissonance to change course now. (He's a great President! He protects us! The economy is getting better! He's not book-smart, but who wants that? He's honest. He's compassionate. His advisers know what they're doing. Deficits don't matter. Iraq was necessary. He held a bullhorn at Ground Zero!)

Still, I have a sneaking suspicion that in his second term, Bush's house of cards will come tumbling down. Plame, Halliburton, Abu Ghraib, Iraq, deficits, TANG coverup - not to mention 12 other scandals I can't think of right at the moment - will finally collapse the shaky foundation of this administration. Of course, that would mean focusing on Bush's implosion for months or years, and not dealing with the real problems this nation faces. But we should be used to that by now. (John Kerry looks French!)

At this point, Bush could still stab a small girl in the neck on live national TV and suffer no ill effects. But how long can his luck hold? All it will take is for a modest amount of people to wake up from their 9/11 comas, and buh-bye, Mr. President.

One can hope.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Anger of the enfranchised

His adoptive party is already backing away from Zell Miller's Emperor Palpatine act at as the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Miller, let us not forget, praised Kerry as recently as 2001, calling him "a great friend" who has "worked to strengthen our military." Flip-flopper, liar, or opportunist? Or all three? (Watch out for that minor mention of Max Cleland - it'll blow your mind.)

Memo to Zell: If your party left you, then why not return the favor? Please. I think I know the reason - because if you became a Republican, you would be lost among the chest-thumping conservatives. They would have absolutely no use for you. They're just using you now to be their Righteous Anger Poster Child, and after the election they'll toss you away like a snotty Kleenex without a second thought. They're already doing it, and your remarks aren't cold yet! (Well, challenging Chris Matthews to a duel probably didn't help matters any.)

I think the best comment on Zellpalooza '04 came from, big surprise, Jon Stewart on The Daily Show tonight:
I can understand with the protestors, it's like the anger of the disenfranchised. But I've never seen the anger of the enfranchised before.
Stewart '08! Stewart '08!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The President is not your Daddy

Here's a message too many people need to hear:

The President cannot protect you from being killed by a terrorist.

It's just the simple fact. If a terrorist decides to kill you, there's an incredibly good chance that he will succeed. All the President can do is create an atmosphere where your death at the hands of a terrorist is as unlikely as possible.

You can wear your seat belt. You can scrupulously follow traffic rules. You can avoid stopping on train tracks. You can give up the keys when you're too drunk to drive. All of these things will greatly decrease your chances of serious injury or death in your car. But along comes the wild swerve across the yellow line, and you're six feet under.

That's life. That's the risk we take being alive.

But too many people, since 9/11, seem to look at the President as some sort of combination father figure, on-call fireman, and security blanket. I heard a Republican delegate interviewed on Democracy Now who said, "I'm voting for President Bush because he will protect me."

Wrong, baby. And the more you cling to that, the less safe you become.

The fact is, George W. Bush has done a deplorable job with the "safety-belt issues" on terrorism. He's done little with domestic security, neglecting borders, container ships and securing chemical and nuclear plants. Meanwhile, he rushes into a war where there were no terrorists, and creates thousands more, over multiple future generations, in the process. He lets one of the biggest terrorist-sponsoring states, Saudi Arabia, off scot-free. He's alienated allies who we need in the long run to squelch terrorists.

If Bush were your neighborhood fireman, he'd be testing explosives outside your burning house. Not helping, and most likely making it worse.

Bush is not your Daddy. And the sooner you realize that, the better.

Who is Bush's base?

Since this is the Republican National Convention week, I've been thinking about the traditional role of conventions - rallying the base. But who, exactly, is George W. Bush's base?

-Right-wingers, who never met a gay person they liked or a fetus they didn't, don't like Bush. He's not conservative enough for them. He pays lip service to their causes, but the payoff just isn't there. Abortion is still legal, and those pesky gays seem to be getting more and more people to agree that yes, maybe they should be equal citizens of the United States after all.

-Fiscal conservatives don't like Bush. He's spending like a drunken sailor. It must really chap the hides of those fiscal conservatives that Bill Clinton, aka "The Evil One," actually racked up a sizeable budget surplus.

-Moderate Republicans, who think of themselves as such mainly because they believe Democrats just want to tax them to death, are much more liberal on social issues than the media understands. Many of them are turned off by Bush's anti-gay stance, and by the folly that was/is the Iraq War.

-Do veterans like Bush? Really? Because why are they going to rally around a guy who thought his National Guard service was less important than working on a campaign (or partying with ambitious secretaries, for that matter); who has cut services for them during wartime; and who has recklessly led the country into an unprovoked war? Will Bush's smears on Kerry's record really be a net gain for GWB? Or will the net effect of John McCain, Max Cleland and Kerry send the mud swinging back into Bush's face?

-Blue-collar workers seem to like Bush, despite his severely anti-union administration, and despite huge tax breaks for the richest Americans. "What's the Matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank deals with this topic in depth. I wonder if this part of the base is as strong as it seems. Still, there's always the "Terrorists are coming to kill you NOW! And I'm the only one who can protect you!" angle.

So who's left?

-The insanely rich.
-Military-industrial-complex CEOs, and those who hope to become them.

Is that enough of a base? We'll see.

BONUS LINK: 100 Mistakes

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Shiny things

I've grown increasingly angry with the Swift Boat Liars "controversy." They get debunked with both the official record and their own statements time after time, but yet the train rolls on. And on and on.

But if I'm being honest with myself, mostly why I'm upset about this tactic is its evil brilliance. Bush gets to attack Kerry on one of his biggest strengths, keep his own hands clean, and simultaneously distract attention from one of Bush's biggest weaknesses in our terror-obsessed world - his own non-service in Vietnam. Plus, it's time not taken up with talking about, oh, I don't know, the mess in Iraq and the mess of our domestic economy.

And people buy it, because they are pretty much willing to follow any shiny thing that's waved in front of their faces. Karl Rove knows this, of course. He knows a smear can be debunked utterly, but it still remains.

The minute people turn away from one shiny thing, they've got another to wave in your face: Gay marriage! Theresa Heinz's money! John Kerry looks French! Michael Moore is fat! Eliminate the IRS!

It's sickening, but it works. And say what you will about the Republicans, they know what works. And the only way it's going to stop working is if we learn to turn our heads away from the shiny things.

I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

A simple question

A question to all the Swift Boat Liars, their enablers in the media and on the web:

Is there anything you actually like about George W. Bush? Or are you just supporting him because he's "Not John Kerry"? Pretty flimsy rationale, I'd say.

Monday, August 23, 2004


I don't intend this to be a standard "link and comment" sort of site. There are thousands out there, and they do it better than I ever could. I want to write about what matters to me - a short-form columnist, if you will.

But Paul Waldman's column in the Gadflyer is just too good to pass up. I particularly loved this part, which speaks to how I'm feeling these days:
But today, something different grips liberals, particularly those ensconced in enclaves like Manhattan, Madison, or San Francisco. Even though they live in an environment in which almost everyone is progressive, they believe that such places are few and far between, and the vast majority of Americans are conservatives whose values and political choices couldn't be more different from theirs.
Read the whole thing, as they say. It's worth it. And a soothing balm to embattled liberals like me.

Shut up and sing, Jessica

Apparently everyone's favorite no-longer-a-virgin newlywed, Jessica Simpson, has joined the august ranks of Bush-supporting celebrities, finding a place alongside Larry Gatlin, Toby Keith, Wayne Newton and Ted Nugent. Welcome, Jessica!

Oh, and then there's that little matter of a major concert tour designed to unseat Bush. But that's not news. Nothing to see here. Damn those celebrities and their platforms!

My irrepressible cynicism tells me that if there were cadres of right-wing celebrities willing to make movies, write books, attend premieres, dedicate songs and go on tour in support of the administration and other conservative candidates, the whole "Shut up and sing!" campaign would not exist.

Jealousy is a bitch.

Through the Looking Glass

I'm still trying to get my bearings in this new world we're living in. And just when I think I'm finally on solid ground, something new comes along to make me queasy and unsure again.

On this side of the Looking Glass, George W. Bush is a war hero. He bravely protected Alabama from the Viet Cong, when he could have gone to England like that sleazeball Bill Clinton. On the other hand, John Kerry is an amoral bastard, who only volunteered for Vietnam so he could arrange some superficial self-inflicted flesh wounds, get an early out, and then betray his country alongside Hanoi Jane Fonda.

On this side of the Looking Glass, John Kerry's 20-year career in the Senate is "undistinguished." Meanwhile, George Bush is a regular guy, a self-made man, despite failing upward his entire life, and being bailed out every step of the way. When John Kerry entered the Senate, GWB was an admitted alcoholic and probably drug addict, running every business he worked on into the ground. But it's John Kerry's Senate record that's the issue.

On this side, Joe McCarthy is a national hero and internment of Japanese U.S. citizens during World War II was a fantastic idea.

On this side, George W. Bush - who presided with cowardliness over the greatest attack on U.S. soil in history, let the perps go, and then ran headlong into a conflict with a nation with no connections to that attack - is the better choice to defend this country against terrorists.

Saddam Hussein was instrumental in the 9/11 attacks.

Bush continuing to read to children while the country was under attack showed admirable restraint, while Howard Dean's "scream" at a campaign event proved that he was unbalanced and unfit to run for dogcatcher, much less President.

Fox News is "Fair and Balanced."

Dean Esmay is a "liberal" and a "citizen journalist."

Deficits don't matter. (My credit card company, alas, feels otherwise.)

All of this may seem laughable to those of us on the left side of the aisle in this country. But why are these things accepted as fact by such wide swaths of the U.S. population? This side of the Looking Glass is a scary place.

Send me back, please.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Why do conservatives hate America?

(I originally wrote "reactionaries" instead of conservatives. But who can tell the difference these days?)

We all know (because Bill "Shut up! Shut up!" O'Reilly tells us so) that "Liberals hate America!" But if that's the case, we learned it from the masters of America-hating, the conservatives/neocons/reactionaries that dominate the American political landscape today. They can't decide if they want it to be 1950 or 1850, but either would be preferable to the ugly truth of America as it is.

They hate an America where gay people's relationships could be considered equal to theirs.

They hate an America where a family could consist of something other than June Cleaver, vacuuming in heels and pearls; Ward Cleaver, standoffish career man; and several well-behaved moppets.

They hate an America where guns make people less safe, not more.

They hate an America where the public schools might possibly mention the messy world that exists outside the schoolhouse doors.

They hate a world where America is not the strongest bully on the playground, but rather an exceptional student who needs to "play well with others" to get along.

They hate an America where people might be more offended by violence than by sex.

They hate an America where people they disagree with still have freedom of speech and press.

Liberals love America for its possibilities and its future. Conservatives fear and hate America for those same traits, and long to return to an America that never was.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

What the hell is wrong with John McCain?

Looking at that widely-distributed photo of John McCain embracing George W. Bush, I felt the gorge rise in my throat. Here's a man who spent years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, while the guy he's stumping for was avoiding his drug-test-including physical and playing water polo with "ambitious secretaries." Here's a man who was attacked viciously by Bush's surrogates in 2000 ("Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if you knew he had a black baby?"), but now appears in campaign ads for Bush. Here's a man who can't contain his contempt for the President when he's on The Daily Show, but says of him at a campaign rally, "He has not wavered in his determination to protect this country and to make the world a better, safer, freer place." Here's a man who jokes on Jay Leno about his purported standing as John Kerry's first choice for VP, " I spent all those years in a Vietnamese prison camp, kept in the dark, fed scraps. Why would I want to that all over again?”

What the hell is he thinking? If this is what passes for integrity among Republicans, they can have it.