Bush Vs. Kerry

So it looks like John Kerry is it.

And therefore I’m out.

I would have voted for John Edwards had the Democratic Party chosen him as the nominee. Heck, I would have voted a straight-Democratic ticket next year if that’s how it went down. But it didn’t, and so I won’t. I can’t.

Until further notice, this blog officially supports George W. Bush for president in 2004.

I will not be his cheerleader. Though I will defend him from scurrilous charges, I don’t like the man, and I never have. I appreciate very much what he has accomplished in the realm of foreign policy, as anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows. And there is simply no way I can vote for his opponent who has spent the past year whining about every good thing we are doing and have done in the Middle East. This is by far the most important task now and ahead of us.

I am not about to join the right-wing bandwagon. I will support a Democratic Congress as I always have.

The Christian Right can take its hysterical reactionary agenda and stuff it. They are not my comrades, and they should not come looking to me for support. They will get none.

I cannot and will not be a team player for the Republican Party. None of the partisan “responsibilities” apply to me because I do not accept them. When I side with the liberals I am not a “traitor.” I could be plausibly accused of heresy for siding with conservatives as a Democrat. But that’s because I actually was a Democrat. I am neither a Republican nor a conservative. I will vote a split ticket this year because the way I see it, each party gets some things right. The inverse of that statement is obvious. Each party gets some things wrong.

I hope the Democrats spend the next several years, whether in the White House or out of it, getting themselves a serious foreign policy. Right now they don’t have one. Some individual Democrats are exceptionally sharp on this subject. But the party as a whole is lost. It hasn’t always been this way, and there is no reason to expect it to remain this way forever. I may very well support the Democratic candidate in 2008. It depends on who they nominate, and it depends on what happens between now and then.

It’s also entirely possible that John Kerry will win in November and I will come around to his side. He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice. I’ll be grateful and relieved.

Until then I oppose him, and I do it without malice. I don’t hate the man, and I doubt I ever will. Hatred destroys people emotionally and intellectually. The pitched level of anti-Bush hatred is shocking to me, just as the fury from the right against President Clinton was shocking. The asinine bluster from political haters is surely the dumbest commentary on any subject I’ve ever heard and read from adults. Get a life, haters. This is just politics.

I am the same person I was when I wished Al Gore were president. And if I change my mind about Bush in the meantime, or if I warm to a President Kerry, I’ll be the same person then that I am today. Some people make the funniest judgements about others because of who they support as a president. It’s not until you change your mind about a president that you come to realize how petty that is.

Using God as a Club (Update)

Behold the Drudge headline: KERRY NOT SURE GOD ON AMERICA’S SIDE

Perhaps John Kerry thinks God is on Osama bin Laden’s side. Let’s see.

Democrat frontrunner John Kerry is not sure God is on America’s side in the war terrorism. Kerry made the startling comments during Sunday’s Democrat presidential debate in New York City.

Elizabeth Bumiller of the NEW YORK TIMES asked Kerry:

“President Bush has said that freedom and fear have always been at war, and God is not neutral between them. He’s made quite clear in his speeches that he feels God is on America’s side.

“Is God on America’s side?”

KERRY: Well, God will — look, I think — I believe in God, but I don’t believe, the way President Bush does, in invoking it all the time in that way. I think it is — we pray that God is on our side, and we pray hard. And God has been on our side through most of our existence.

It is a pretty weak answer. It’s also a ridiculous question.

Jerry Falwell said God punished America for abortion, feminism, lesbianism, and paganism by unleashing the September 11 attacks. I think it’s safe to assume John Kerry does not share Jerry Falwell’s twisted view of the universe.

Kerry mangled his words, but it’s clear what he meant. Bush brings God into the Terror War too often. I think Kerry is right. This isn’t a war between Christianity and Islam. It’s a war between liberal secular civilization and totalitarian religious fascism.

So let’s not pretend to be “startled,” as Matt Drudge does, because Kerry wants to keep the spirit of the Crusades out of our language.

UPDATE: I’d like to add an afterthought that occurred to me from the discussion in the comments. Israel and India are fighting the same enemy for the same reason. And neither country is Christian.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan highlights a nasty screed by Dennis Prager:

America is engaged in two wars for the survival of its civilization. The war over same-sex marriage and the war against Islamic totalitarianism are actually two fronts in the same war – a war for the preservation of the unique American creation known as Judeo-Christian civilization.

One enemy is religious extremism. The other is secular extremism.


Dean is Nader

Roger L. Simon speculated a while back that Howard Dean never really wanted to be president. I found Roger’s psychoanalysis intriguing but also a bit much. It was just a gut feeling sort of thing, impossible to back up with hard evidence.

I can’t imagine McGovern reacting to the capture of Saddam by saying it didn’t make America safer. This is one of the more tin-eared remarks I can remember ever being made by someone running for the Presidency.

So why then did Dean say this? Although he’s no genius (few in politics are), he’s plenty intelligent to realize that the vast American middle (the voters who finally elect the President) would roll their eyes at this comment. Why didn’t he say what a normal politican, even a normal person, would say under these dramatic circumstances? It may be that, as Novak indicates, he has simply gotten himself in an impossible box (but there are various ways he could have deflected the situation). Or it may be that deep down Dean does not want to be elected.

Turns out, he was right.

Howard Kurtz says as much in the Washington Post.

In different conversations and in different ways, according to several people who worked with him, Dean said at the peak of his popularity late last year that he never expected to rise so high, that he didn’t like the intense scrutiny, that he had just wanted to make a difference. “I don’t care about being president,” he said. Months earlier, as his candidacy was taking off, he told a colleague: “The problem is, I’m now afraid I might win.”

So Dean was Ralph Nader. At least on some level. He wanted to pull the Democrats to the left, and didn’t really want the responsibility that comes with being the president. (No doubt Nader never thought he would win.)

I voted for Ralph Nader in the last election, though I certainly won’t do it again this time. I was as frustrated with Clinton and Gore as the next person, but I had no desire whatever to vote for George W. Bush. I’ll admit that one of the reasons I pulled the lever for Nader was to punish the Democrats for being lame. (I also didn’t expect Bush to win, or I surely would have voted for Gore.)

I like to think I’ve changed since 2000. I won’t be supporting this year’s Ralph Nader (not the real one or the one from Vermont), but I have to admit my desire to punish the Democrats once again for being lame. Only this time the lameness is of a different variety. A vote for Nader was supposed to be a vote for Bush. So perhaps I haven’t changed at all and I’m just reverting to form.

Digging Holes

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Florida) dug one heckuva hole.

She ripped into Bush’s policy on Haiti and called it “racist” (for some inexplicable reason) and said his administration is “a bunch of white men.”

Last I checked, Colin Powell was not a white man. Condoleeza Rice isn’t even a man, let alone a white one.

Oh, but it’s plenty worse than that.

Her outburst was directed at Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega during a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill. Noriega, a Mexican-American, is the State Department’s top official for Latin America.

Now. Anyone who has visited Latin America knows it isn’t a racially homogenous place. Argentina, for example, is more caucasian than the United States. Mexico is much less so, but still there are white Mexicans, just as there are white Mexican-Americans.

But it doesn’t look as though Mr. Noriega is one of them.

Noriega later told Brown: “As a Mexican-American, I deeply resent being called a racist and branded a white man,” according to three participants.

It’s always a good idea to remember the First Rule of Holes. When you’re in one, stop digging.

Brown then told him “you all look alike to me,” the participants said.

Rep. Brown hasn’t studied that rule. Someone ought to help her out after she apologizes.

And perhaps while she’s at it she could spend a few minutes brushing up on foreign policy so she doesn’t drag the Democratic Party further into the hole it dug for itself. The First Rule of Holes applies to political parties as well as to people.

Required Reading

Read Sullivan now.

Freedom and its Discontents

Like Andrew Sullivan, Sheila O’Malley, and Roger L. Simon, I am frustrated but not at all surprised by George Bush’s support for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage forever.

The very idea of using our Constitution the ban anything is viscerally repulsive to me, especially when we’re talking about the harmless pursuit of happiness.

You don’t have the freedom to rape and murder and steal, nor should you. That is universal. We do not, or at least I should say that we should not, limit the freedom of our citizens unless that freedom will be used to harm another. That is revolutionary.

Neither side in our binary political system gets it quite right. Some on the left, when they can, won’t let you smoke in restaurants or voice your opinion on campus. A large swath of the left was content to let Iraqis rot for the rest of their lives in a totalitarian dungeon.

Many people on the right really do want to tell me what I can and cannot do in my own bedroom. They would, if they could, force my children (if I had any) to pray to their God in school.

On some days I feel pulled to the left, and on other days I feel pushed to the right. It mostly depends on what’s in the news that day. Today I’m feeling left.

As frustrating as this is, there is an upside. There is a Glass Half Full way of looking at it.

When I find myself wishing we had a political party that consistently stood for freedom and against authoritarianism so that I might find a home there, I remember that our political system is binary. If one of our parties were truly liberal (broadly speaking), that would mean that the other would necessarily be an anti-liberal party. Freedom wouldn’t be an American value after all. It would only be a sectarian partisan value. And if that were the case, we’d be looking at civil war.

The left specializes in promoting certain kinds of freedom. And the right chooses to focus on different varieties. They balance and make up for the blind spots of the other. It’s not a bad system, really. But it’s awfully disconcerting to be in the middle of the vortex.

UPDATE: Kevin Drum points out that Bush supports five new Constitutional amendments, not just the gay marriage ban.

He really seems to think the constitution is just a rough draft, doesn’t he?

Just think. If every president supported five new amendments and they all passed, how many would we have?

Bush and Gay Marriage

Well, he did it. George W. Bush decided it’s a good idea to use the U.S. Consitution to deny freedom to American citizens.

I wish I had time to write about this in detail tonight, but I don’t. So let me send you over to Sheila O’Malley. She said it for me.

Outing the Jewish “Cabal”

Yesterday I took aim at Kalle Lasn, the editor of Adbusters magazine, for cheerleading the mayhem of World War IV.

I’m not finished with him yet.

His newest editorial is even worse than the last one. The title says it all: Why won’t anyone say they are Jewish?

Let’s just pause a moment before wading into it.

It hardly matters who he means by “they” in the title. “They” are a group of people who, for whatever reason, Mr. Lasn thinks need to be “outed.” Here he is posing as the brave writer bucking the tyranny of political correctness to tell the truth that others dare not say. “They” are Jews. As if this means something important. Aha! he expects his readers to think. They’re Jews. That explains it.

“They,” by the way, are neoconservative intellectuals. Or, I should say, “they” are half the people on his list of neoconservatives. He has a tidy list of 50 people he labels as neocons. He penciled in a little dot next to all the Jewish names. At least he didn’t use a yellow star.

He admits it’s difficult to categorize neoconservatives because some of them, as he says, deny the label. Still, he doesn’t list his criteria. He just names names. Some of those on his list are not at all neoconservative. Gary Bauer? He’s a staunch religious rightist. Jonah Goldberg? He’s just a plain old conservative.

The fact that he doesn’t know a neocon from any other kind of conservative isn’t surprising. Few people do, and this vagueness is perhaps the biggest enabler of the lurid conspiracy theories out there. (If you’re unsure what neoconservatism is and if you genuinely want to know, you can read about it in the Weekly Standard from the godfather of the movement himself, Irving Kristol. The word “Jew” does not appear in his essay.)

Anyway, Mr. Lasn thinks it’s important that half the people on his list of neoconservatives are Jewish. And why does he think this is important? They “do not distinguish enough between American and Israeli interests,” he says. “For example, whose interests were they protecting in pushing for war in Iraq?”

This is one of the world’s oldest anti-Semitic slurs. For centuries Europeans suspected Jews of placing their loyalty to their ethnic “tribe” above whichever community they happened to be living in.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Lasn’s loyalty charge does not have an anti-Semitic pedigree, that he’s the first person in history to make this accusation.

It’s still awfully peculiar. Anyone who bothers to trace the ancestry of my last name will learn that my family came to America from England. Yet no one has ever accused me of disloyalty to my country because I support Britain and think of the British as allies. There are two obvious reasons for that. First of all, there isn’t much of a stigma attached to having English ancestry. More important, it’s simply a fact that Britain is an ally of the United States. So it’s perfectly normal that I personally recognize Britain as an ally and care about her interests and well-being.

But it’s also simply a fact that Israel is an ally of the United States. Most Americans, and not just Jewish Americans, sympathize with Israel. There’s nothing odd or mysterious about that. Israel is a Western democracy. And Americans naturally sympathize with Israel because she is also a victim of the Islamofascist jihad. So of course neoconservatives, Jewish or otherwise, sympathize with Israel. It would be downright bizarre if they didn’t.

All this is outside the fact that regime-change in Iraq had nothing whatever to do with advancing Israel’s foreign policy. Saddam Hussein was nowhere near the top of Israel’s list of problems. The PLO, Hamas, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, Hezbollah, the Iranian mullahcracy, and the Baathist regime in Syria are and have been far bigger problems for Israel than Iraq is or has ever been. If Israel called the shots in American foreign policy, or if our own defense team were acting out some “ethnic solidarity” adventure in the Middle East, the US would have invaded Syria, Lebanon, Iran, or the West Bank. Saddam would still be in power, and Yasser Arafat, Bashir Assad or some other tin pot jerk would be awaiting his trial instead.

Kalle Lasn isn’t left with much of an excuse for his list of Jews. He says he’s not anti-Semitic, and he very well may not be, at least not consciously. The thing is, he doesn’t need to be. Whether or not he’s the type of guy who lays awake in the middle of the night fretting about Joooooooos, or whether he’s just a left-wing hack with a kooky axe to grind, the fact remains that he’s repeating the ZOG propaganda of white supremacists. And he’s doing it in a left-wing magazine with the expectation that his readers will eat it up.

(Thanks to my old friend Karrie Higgins for pointing this out to me.)

The Decline and Fall of Adbusters Magazine

A few years ago I was a big fan of Adbusters magazine. I loved the way it mimicked the obnoxious manipulation techniques of TV and magazine ads and flung it all right back at ’em. The skewering of shallow consumer culture really struck a chord with me.

After 9-11 I put this project on my own back burner. It was suddenly all so trivial. The writers, designers, and editors of the magazine must have sensed what they were doing was getting shunted off to the side by momentous events. So they ramped it up. They pushed their previously mild subversion into overdrive.

The current issues of Adbusters would have turned me off even then.

Here are some excerpts from a current piece by the editor Kalle Lasn. It’s called World War IV.

It has come down to this: a fight to the finish against the evil forces of capital that would wage a terror upon terror upon terror without end.

The evil forces of capital? I don’t remember the old Adbusters ever publishing sentences like this. Kalle Lasn has previously written that he has a visceral hatred of Communism. That wasn’t so hard to believe. He’s from Estonia and knows Communism up close and personal. But it looks like some of the propaganda got hard-wired into his brain.

In time we will learn to modulate our resistance — to raise it to the point where airport-type security systems are needed just to let customers into stores, until the daily pain and cost of doing business as usual becomes simply too high to bear.

In other words, he wants to terrorize his community.

Then, at our pleasure, we will lower our resistance to reward the concessions being made.

Well that’s nice. At least he still has some sense of restraint. Let’s hope his readers share it.

We don’t have to get the shit kicked out of us like we did in Miami. Instead, we grow the power and sophistication of our networks and ratchet up our disobedience. We attack in the dead of night and under the noonday sun. We hit them before, during and after world events. Bit by bit, hit by hit we bend them to our will.

“We bend them to our will.” This thuggish mentality is definitely not the Adbusters I used to know.

Military might does not count for much anymore. The global capital machine is now so finely tuned, so delicately balanced, that just one virus, one blackout, one bushfire, one mad cow, one hand-held rocket launcher, one gram of plutonium, has the potential to crash the whole deal. From now on, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will not be able to keep it together.

That’s the dirty, anarchic, kick-ass side of World War IV. [Emphasis added.]

From the context of the piece, it doesn’t look like Mr. Lasn expects his “culture jammers” to be the ones wielding the rocket launchers and the plutonium. I guess (although I am guessing) he expects Al Qaeda to carry out those attacks.

But it’s awfully telling, is it not, that he thinks downing a passenger jet with a rocket launcher or destroying New York with a nuclear weapon is “kick-ass.”

This brings to mind a powerful recent piece in Slate by Christopher Hitchens.

Having been screened by the special operations department of the Pentagon last August (see Charles Paul Freund’s piece in Slate), The Battle of Algiers is now scheduled for a run at the New York Film Forum. Unless I am wrong, this event will lead to a torrent of pseudo-knowing piffle from the armchair guerrillas (well, there ought to be a word for this group). I myself cherished the dream of being something more than an armchair revolutionary when I first saw this electrifying movie. It was at a volunteer work-camp for internationalists, in Cuba in the summer of 1968. Che Guevara had only been dead for a few months, the Tet rising in Vietnam was still a fresh and vivid memory, and in Portuguese Africa the revolution was on the upswing. I went to the screening not knowing what to expect and was so mesmerized that when it was over I sat there until they showed it again. I was astounded to discover, sometime later on, that Gillo Pontecorvo had employed no documentary footage in the shooting of the film: It looked and felt like revolutionary reality projected straight onto the screen.

When I next saw it, in Bleecker Street in the Village in the early 1970s, it didn’t have quite the same shattering effect. Moreover, in the audience (as in that Cuban camp, as I later found out) there were some idiots who fancied the idea of trying “urban guerrilla” warfare inside the West itself. The film had a potently toxic effect on Black Panthers, Weathermen, Baader-Meinhof, and Red Brigade types. All that needs to be said about that “moment” of the Left is that its practitioners ended up dead or in prison, having advanced the cause of humanity by not one millimeter.

Those on today’s radical left are having a similar “moment.” Plenty of these fools will end up dead or in jail. And even the strictly intellectual radicals aren’t doing a damn thing for the cause of humanity except reminding the rest of us that even after the fall of the Soviet Union there are enemies to the left. (No, not everyone on the left, just some of the radicals.)

It’s depressing and sad to watch people I used to admire degenerate in this way. My consolation is that others, like Christopher Hitchens, who I admired at the same time for the same reasons, escaped from that quagmire, too.

The Unbearable Lightness of Scandals

Here’s a shocker.

WASHINGTON – John Kerry’s protests against the Vietnam War and President Bush’s wartime service in the National Guard generate disapproval largely among people who already have made up their minds against that particular candidate, according to a national poll released Friday.

The scandal mongers are surely trying to win over independents by smearing the other guy. It doesn’t work, obviously, but it does make the outraged feel superior. Political sleaze seems to me a strange form of emotional therapy, but hey, go with whatever works for ya. It had better feel good, because it wastes everyone else’s time.

Quiz Time

This is great. The funniest political quiz I’ve seen yet. (I suppose that’s like saying “the best horror movie from Greenland,” but whatever.)

Are you a liberal, a conservative, a libertarian, or a communist? The communist answers are the best.

Some teasers:

What should people not be allowed to do in public?

CONS: Offend the sensibilities of others.

LIBL: Offend the sensitivities of others.

LBRT: Offend the sensibilities of yourself.

COMM: Offend the sensitivities of the authorities.

What’s the best way to stop people from illegally crossing our borders?

CONS: Seal the borders so no one can get in.

LIBL: Do nothing to beef up security at the borders, and offer illegal aliens a wide array of free services.

LBRT: Allow unrestricted passage across the borders.

COMM: Seal the borders so no one can get out.

Via Porphyrogenitus.

The Passion of Hutton Gibson

I’ve always enjoyed Mel Gibson’s acting, and I’ll withhold judgement from his controversial new movie The Passion until after I’ve seen it. Sadly, it seems his father, Hutton Gibson, is an anti-Semitic lunatic who thinks the Holocaust was exaggerated, Alan Greenspan should be lynched, and the United States government should be overthrown. Meryl Yourish has the details.

Weekend Reading

Cara Remal’s open letter to her anti-war friends.

My New Gig

It’s been a little while now since I’ve published an article at Tech Central Station. But Nick Shulz was kind enough to take me on as a bi-weekly columnist. So from here on out you’ll get a new column from me every two weeks.

Here’s my latest. It’s called Kill Saddam.

Yearning for Tyranny

The Guardian reports (surprise, surprise) that some British politicians were paid to help prop up Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.

Anti-sanctions campaigns by former Irish premier Albert Reynolds, former Labour MP George Galloway, and current Labour MP Tam Dalyell were bankrolled by money from the UN’s oil for food program.

Tam Dalyell made a name for himself last year when he attacked Tony Blair for being in thrall to a “Jewish cabal.” Whoops! Looks like Mr. Dalyell was projecting. He’s the one in thrall to a cabal. And not a make-believe cabal, but a real one based in Baghdad.

Galloway’s defense of himself is pathetic.

Mr Galloway said he was unaware that his financial sponsors were getting oil cash from the UN programme. But he accepts that he knew his supporters had links with Saddam’s regime, and regarded that as an inevitable price to pay.

Galloway most certainly did not view the fact that his friends were Baathists as a “price.” He is and has been an open admirer of totalitarian regimes from the Soviet Union to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Fidel Castro’s little tinpot paradise in Cuba.

After visiting Saddam in 1994, Galloway said to him, “Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” When asked if he was a Stalinist, he answered thusly: “If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life.” He supports North Korea while he’s at it. “If it comes to invasion of North Korea, I’ll be with North Korea. Be sure about that.”

Naturally he’s a fan of the terrorists in Iraq. “The Iraqis have a legal and moral right to resist violent, illegal, foreign occupation, and that’s what they’re exercising.”

And, as Andrew Sullivan pointed out yesterday, he just adores Fidel Castro. “He’s the most magnificent human being I’ve ever met.”

The man is despicable, but give him some credit. He makes no bones about the fact that he sides with the enemies of democracy and the enemies of his country. He doesn’t waste any time dressing his wicked sympathies in liberal drag.

I can’t help but think some people admire totalitarian regimes not because they want to live in one, but because they want to be in charge of one. The Labour Party kicked George Galloway out on his ass, but he’s still a member of parliament.


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