Monthly Archives: November 2004

The Scariest Memo in the World

From Porter Goss, new head of the CIA:

Porter J. Goss, the new intelligence chief, has told Central Intelligence Agency employees that their job is to "support the administration and its policies in our work,” a copy of an internal memorandum shows.

"As agency employees we do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies," Mr. Goss said in the memorandum, which was circulated late on Monday. He said in the document that he was seeking "to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road."

In other words, don’t speak truth to power. Just shuddup and nod ‘yes’.

Seriously, in such an atmosphere, are we MORE or LESS likely to see intelligence agents acting like this?

Contract Ripped Up

In 1994, the Republicans created their "Contract With America". One of the purposes of the Contract was "To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves."

Why did they write that?

Because at the time, there were many GOP complaints about Democrat Dan Rostenkowski who was maintaining his post (Chairman of Ways & Means Committee) after an indictment, as well as other scandals and investigations into (mostly Dem) Congressmen.

And one of the things the Republicans did once they became the congressional majority was pass Congressional rules requiring a leader to step aside temporarily if indicted on a felony charge that carries a prison term of two or more years. A separate rule applied to committee chairmen.

From today’s Washington Post:

House Republicans proposed changing their rules last night to allow members indicted by state grand juries to remain in a leadership post, a move that would benefit Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in case he is charged by a Texas grand jury that has indicted three of his political associates, according to GOP leaders.

Rrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiippp goes the Contract.

The GOP establishment simply has no moral compass. A bunch of ethical hyprocrites.

An Idiot Named Mike Thompson

Every once in a while, a right-wingnut article comes along so ripe for editorial rape that it would be a crime to let it pass.

Here is one such article, from a guy named Mike Thompson, a former chairman of the Florida Conservative Union. Take note of the disclaimer at the top — he doesn’t mean what he is saying, except that . . . you know . . . he kind of does mean it.

Declaration of Expulsion: A Modest Proposal – It’s Time to Reconfigure the United States by Mike Thompson

[From the author: This is an essay I’ve been working on for the past several weeks, updated moments ago with what appears to be Bush’s final number of victory states (31) once the nonsense of provisional votes in Ohio is overcome.

As an admitted "modest proposal" (a la Swift’s satiric story of the same name), it is nevertheless serious in pointing out the cancer that continues to threaten our body politic.]

Branded unconstitutional by President Abraham Lincoln, the South’s secession from the American Union ultimately sparked "The Civil War" (a name that was rejected by Southerners, who correctly called it "The War Between the States," for the South never sought to 1] seize the central government or 2] rule the other side, two requisites for a civil war).

You know that when a winger opens with the Civil War revisions, you are going to be in for a treat. And technically, the War Between the States had nothing — not a thing — to do with slavery per se. The War Between the States was about whether states possessed the sovereign right to permit some its citizens to own other non-citizens as chattel. But not about slavery. Nosiree.

No state may leave the Union without the other states’ approval, according to Lincoln’s doctrine–an assertion that ignores the Declaration of Independence, which was the vital basis for all 13 American colonies’ unilateral secession from the British Union eight decades earlier.

And since we’re rewriting the Civil War, we might as well pretend that a declaration addressed to the King is the same thing as a constitution which sets a framework of government.

Lincoln’s grotesque legal argument also disregards a state’s inherent right of secession which many scholars believe is found in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

But is it not true, Grasshopper, that if a state secedes from the United States, it is no longer protected by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution? (D’oh!)

Meantime, America has become just as divided as it was a century and a half ago, when it writhed in Brother-vs.-Brother War. Instead of wedge issues like slavery, federal subsidies for regional business, and high tariffs . . .

Oh, that’s all that Johnny Reb was talking about back then — federal subsidies for regional businesses, federal subsidies for regional businesses . . . like a damn broken record . . .

. . . society today is sundered by profound, insoluble Culture War conflicts (such as abortion and gay marriage) . . .

I prefer to call it the War Between Those Who Like Gallagher And Those Who Don’t . . .

. . . and debate about our role abroad (shall we remain the world’s leader, or become an unprincipled chump for the cabal of globalist sybarites who play endless word-games inside the United Nations and European Union sanctuaries?).

There’s nothing that gets be madder than globalist sybarites playing Boggle all night long!!!

For many decades, conservative citizens and like-minded political leaders (starting with President Calvin Coolidge) have been denigrated by the vilest of lies and characterizations from hordes of liberals who now won’t even admit that they are liberals–because the word connotes such moral stink and political silliness. As a class, liberals no longer are merely the vigorous opponents of the Right; they are spiteful enemies of civilization’s core decency and traditions.

That’s us all right — moral stink and political silliness to your core decency. Kinda like when Bugs Bunny leaps out of the whole and kisses Elmer Fudd smack on the lips. Only more so. By the way, how come they call liberals elitist?

Defamation, never envisioned by our Founding Fathers as being protected by the First Amendment, flourishes and passes today for acceptable political discourse. Movies, magazines, newspapers, radio/TV programs, plays, concerts, public schools, colleges, and most other public vehicles openly traffic in slander and libel. Hollywood salivated over the idea of placing another golden Oscar into Michael Moore’s fat hands, for his Fahrenheit 9/11 jeremiad, the most bogus, deceitful film documentary since Herr Hitler and Herr Goebbels gave propaganda a bad name.

Ah, I long for the days when propaganda had a good name, because it never ever contained things like slander or libel until those icky fat-handed Oscar-winning directors like Hitler came along.

When they tire of showering conservative victims with ideological mud, liberals promote the only other subjects with which they feel conversationally comfortable: Obscenity and sexual perversion. It’s as if the genes of liberals have rendered them immune to all forms of filth.

That’s right, Mike. It’s genetic. Just like the "mud people", liberals are an entirely different breed. (Again, please take note of Mike’s down-to-earth lack-of-elitist attitudes here).

As a final insult, liberal lawyers and judges have become locusts of the Left, conspiring to destroy democracy itself by excreting statutes and courtroom tactics that fertilize electoral fraud and sprout fields of vandals who will cast undeserved and copious ballots on Election Day.

Unless, of course, the herbicide of conservatism is applied before the harvest, in which case they will just rotate their crops to make the fungicide of liberalism . . . oh, fuck it.

The truth is, America is not just broken–it is becoming irreparable. If you believe that recent years of uncivil behavior are burdensome, imagine the likelihood of a future in which all bizarre acts are the norm, and a government-booted foot stands permanently on your face. That is why the unthinkable must become thinkable. If the so-called "Red States" (those that voted for George W. Bush) cannot be respected or at least tolerated by the "Blue States" (those that voted for Al Gore and John Kerry), then the most disparate of them must live apart–not by secession of the former (a majority), but by expulsion of the latter. Here is how to do it.

Let’s see. The "Red States" just won an election. So why are you saying now that you are MORE LIKELY to have the government’s boot in your face, Mike? And why is the solution is to have the government’s boot in the ass of the Blue States? I’m confused and intrigued . . .

Having been amended only 17 times since 10 vital amendments (the Bill of Rights) were added at the republic’s inception, the U.S. Constitution is not easily changed, primarily because so many states (75%, now 38 of 50) must agree.

In other words, what I have proposed is so preposterously stupid that most states won’t agree with it.

Yet, there are 38 states today that may be inclined to adopt, let us call it, a "Declaration of Expulsion," that is, a specific constitutional amendment to kick out the systemically troublesome states and those trending rapidly toward anti-American, if not outright subversive, behavior. The 12 states that must go: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware. Only the remaining 38 states would retain the name, "United States of America." The 12 expelled mobs could call themselves the "Dirty Dozen," or individually keep their identity and go their separate ways, probably straight to Hell.

Okay, okay. Many questions here.

Will the consitutional amendment actually require those 12 states to go straight to Hell? I just want to make sure that the Hell part is optional, right?

Second of all, how come the Red States get to keep Hawaii? And Pennsylvania? And Washington? And Oregon? Aren’t they "systematically troublesome", too? Just as much as Maine and New Hampshire and Delaware, I suggest. And certainly the District of Columbia needs to be booted out, too, right? And considering that most of the original colonies are getting expelled, then the name "United States of America" goes with them. I mean, you can be moronic, but be fair about it.

A difficult-to-pass constitutional amendment, however, is not necessary. There is an equally lawful route that mercifully would be both easier and faster. Inasmuch as Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution specifies that "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union," it is reasonable that the same congressional majority may expel a state from the Union.

Yyyyyyyeah. Because the words "admit" and "expel" are exact opposites, so . . . then obviously it is reasonable to think that the Founders intended Congress to EXPEL states as well as ADMIT them. And anyone who disagrees is probably a liberal activist judge legislating from the bench who can’t read plain English.

[Fast forward]

The demographics revealed by the two most recent presidential elections are radically different and have resulted in "Two Americas" (but not the simplistic "Two Americas" [one rich, one poor] envisioned by Kerry’s Marxist-tongued running mate, John Edwards):

BUSH USA is predominantly white; devoutly Christian (mostly Protestant); openly, vigorously heterosexual; an open land of single-family homes and ranches; economically sound (except for a few farms), but not drunk with cyberworld business development, and mainly English-speaking, with a predilection for respectfully uttering "yes, ma’am" and "yes, sir."

GORE/KERRY USA is ethnically diverse; multi-religious, irreligious or nastily antireligious; more sexually liberated (if not in actual practice, certainly in attitude); awash with condo canyons and other high-end real estate bordered by sprawling, squalid public housing or neglected private homes, decidedly short of middle-class neighborhoods; both high tech and oddly primitive in its commerce; very artsy, and Babelesque, with abnormally loud speakers.

I’m guessing that the "predominately white" one is supposed to be the good one, right? After all, it’s mostly Protestant (you know, the good kind of Christianity). Not sure how conservatives would feel about this "open" and "vigorous" heterosexuality though.

But I think I can get a better cup of coffee in Gore/Kerry USA, so I pick that one. Besides, it doesn’t sound like the Bush USA has been wired for cable . . . or much else.

Bush USA also is far safer, its murder rate being about 16% of the homicidal binge that plagues Gore/Kerry USA–2.1 per 100,000 residents, compared with 13.2 per 100,000 (from a study by Professor Joseph Olson, Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota).

And more polite with all the "Yes, Ma’am" and "Yes, Sir" stuff you’ll be imposing.

[Fast forward]

As for the dozen ex-American states, they could always petition the UN and EU for foreign aid. Moreover, with any good luck (or bon chance), socialist Canada would annex our jettisoned territory, eh?

Let’s see. We get New York, Illinois AND California? And we’ll be applying for foreign aid? Isn’t that the same faulty economic assessment made by the South in the Civil War War Between The States?

Well, thank you, Mike for your proposal. I’ll take it under advisement. Um, excuse me. Advissement.

Something You Didn’t Think Of . . .

. . . but you should consider:

Over 55 million Americans voted for the candidate dubbed "The #1 Liberal in the Senate."

In other words, more Americans voted for the "Massachusetts liberal" than they did for either Reagan, Bush I, Clinton or Gore.

Conclusion: apparently "liberal" isn’t the dirty word is used to be.

Harper’s, Don’t Tempt Me . . .

The joke among myself and other recent election loss sufferers is "Let’s move to another country." Of course, we’re not and we wouldn’t. We’re staying and fighting for the soul of the country we love.

But I thought this article was interesting:

So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave the country. Let us consider your options.

Read it all.

My only question: if I renounce my citizenship and move to St. Kitts, do I become a St. Kitten?

Where Do We Go From Here?

First Draft of the Next Four Years for Lefties

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – Phew! Now what?

Let’s look at why we lost. Can’t put blame on the Supreme Court (this year). Can’t put any blame on Nader (this year) either. Can’t really blame the media either. Can’t really blame our candidate either (does anyone out there think one of the others could have done better?) Can’t blame the 527’s — I think the Swiftees hurt, but we gave as good as we got. Can’t blame an October surprise, or even Rove’s supposed genius. VP choice? Not likely. And take off yer tinfoil hats — we can’t blame Diebold either.

So what happened? Bush’s approval rating wasn’t that strong. Fiscally, he’s the most UN-conservative president ever, and nobody seriously bothers to dispute this. Most can see that the war in Iraq is not going well — certainly not as well as hoped or hyped. Most can see that most of Bush’s tax cuts don’t go to them. So what gives? What have we learned? Why did we lose?

The answer is quite simply this: We lost because the Republican base showed up. They may call themselves independents, libertarians, or whatever — but they showed up and voted.

Well, who ARE these people? The vast majority of them are the people described in "What’s the Matter With Kansas?". To get a flavor, check out this Amazon review:

The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans’ actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up."

The world to them is that simple. We on the left may be correct in our world vision of a world that is nuanced, where words have specific meaning, where ideas and events have more than two sides and shades are gray. No — forget "may be correct". We ARE correct. But you don’t win votes by being correct, by being nuanced, or by being . . . well . . . smart.

You win votes by projecting a positive image. By portraying yourself as being, for example, a "strong leader" (whether or not you actually are). People like the solid image better than the (nuanced) reality. Don’t bother worrying about what "strong leader" actually means. If you have to try to translate that phrase into a program or a policy, then you’ve lost. Red State Republicans don’t care about your policies and programs either. They just need to be convinced that you are a "strong leader" or a "this" or a "that".

So that’s one reason why Kerry lost. He too readily accepted the image of being smart, thus unwittingly embracing the idea of being weak.

But if I had to choose the one single "X factor" which made a difference in this election, it would be "values". I think we will learn more and more as the days continue, that DESPITE economic news, and even the WOT, Bush won because conservatives came out to vote because of conservative values. I am surprised, for example, at how much the gay marriage issue played not only in the campaign, but in the actual election. Conservatives ACTAULLY BELIEVE that the institution of marriage, which lives in THEIR HOME, is actually being attacked by what some lesbian women are doing in an ANOTHER HOME. (UPDATE: Kevin Drum apparently agrees, saying with 20/20 hindsight that the most important event of the campaign season was the Masschusetts Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage.)

Now, I have yet to flesh this out, but I think I may hear a clarian cry. I remember the first time I heard a homophobe say that there shoudn’t be gay teachers because they will just "promote the gay agenda". I thought that was awfully funny at the time, because the only gay agenda I was aware of was the American agenda — freedom, equality, etc. But now, I have come to see the emergence of a "conservative agenda" which, under the guise of American values, is at its core very anti-American as any social agenda can get.

And I now understand why conservatives have bemoaned things like judges legislating morality from the bench. It has little to do with separation of powers. It is because conservatives want to legislate THEIR morality from whereever they can. And it’s not just gays. It’s privacy. It’s the Patriot Act. It’s immigration and profiling.

All morning, I have been thinking about Pat Buchanan and his references four years ago to the "coming culture war." It scared the shit out of me then. But don’t look now — I think we are in one. And I think the left not only has to fight it, but win it.

That’s where the left needs to hit next — the cultural conservatives. We can’t make them understand the hypocrisy of fighting for freedom abroad, while curbing it here. Kerry’s solution was to treat social conservatives with kit gloves. I say no. I say we fight the culture war at home. BRING. IT. ON.

Update: I don’t mean to suggest by anything in this post that the Left, having lost this election, is in disarray. There are tens of millions of us, and we are all united and more organized than ever before. We just need to focus again, and make this country a better place — from the outside if need be.

Thoughts . . .

Jeez. I go to bed with explicit ideas and instructions about how the election is supposed to play out . . . and you guys screw it up. (I don’t know specifically who I am refering to here, but that’s my rant).

Seriously, let me get out some random thoughts.

First of all, the country is not going to be torn apart if Kerry waits and holds out hope for the Ohio provincial/absentee/military ballots. This is not a ballot controversy like it was in 2000.  These are not recounts. There are no major court cases over these ballots. It is more important, for the sake of democracy, to be RIGHT than to be politically expedient. Especially in wartime.

Note to wingers: Are you seriously asking Kerry to concede because we are at war? Is our democracy that fragile? And what kind of a message does that send to Iraq, who we are expecting to have elections in the midst of a REAL war? Your lack of faith in the democratic process is so staggering, that I begin to wonder if you should be lending your voice in support if it.

Furthermore, I expect that Bush will ultimately prevail in Ohio. If it was meant to be, then let us let him. You want to be rid of the moniker "Commander-in-Thief"? You tired of hearing about the illegitimacy of the Presidency? Me, too. This election, for all its closeness, went well. Let the votes be counted the way they are supposed to be counted. For the sake of democracy, if it has to be Bush, then let’s for once and for all give Bush an UNDISPUTABLE legitimate win by counting all the votes that should be counted. It is in everybody’s interest. Calls for Kerry to concede before he’s even assessed the Ohio situation are anti-democratic. Only totalitarian states and dictatorships are afraid of controversy — not democracies.

Thirdly, kudos to the news organizations for a change. When it became clear that the exit polls were screwy, they stood up and said, "Hey, the exit polls are screwy" and with one or two exceptions, they all stopped the stupid game of trying to be the "first", and they all started playing the game of trying to be "accurate". Which is what we want from them, right?

Which beings me to a meta-point of the past two years. Pick your favorite story — WMDs in Iraq, CBS memos, the election results — and you will see that the same theme emerging over and over again: ACCURACY OF INFORMATION. Specifically . . . "how quickly should we act on information, and how good should that information be before we act?"

It seems to me that those who act hastily, and whose partisan beliefs cause them to accept bad data too readily (or reject alternative information too quickly) do a disservice to the American people. Dan Rather was one such guy. So was George Bush. I am becoming increasingly of the opinion that there are only two kinds of people in this world — those who go to the utmost extremes to convince you of their rightousness . . . and those who actually want to BE rightous. Be wary of the former.

But it looks like the dawn of the Bush second term. And if Bush is sworn in, let him be sworn in clean. Let’s be able to at least say that Bush won and (assuming Ohio doesn’t get short-circuited), he won legitimately. I and many others will happily remain the loyal opposition, as is befitting any democracy, and — from the outside — move this country to a better, more secure, more equitable, more respected, more honest place. There are tens of millions of us — you don’t think we can’t???

I’m Calling It . . .

. . . against my better judgment. As a Red Sox fan, I know that you should never declare victory until the final out. (I know, we broke the curse this year, but still . . .)

But I’m calling it a Kerry victory — now — and here are some (very bad) reasons why.

(1) I pulled my back and I’m not sure how far into the night I can last.

(2) "Democracy Plaza" is Rockefeller Center. That’s all. I can’t deal with "Democracy Plaza" anymore.

(3) Wonkette’s little bird. Conventional wisdom is that Democrats vote LATE, so if Wonkette’s numbers are even remotely correct, it STILL looks good for Kerry. (NOTE: I think her early exit polls are the same as Slate’s. (UPDATE: The later, but more accurate, "unofficial" exit polls are even better for Kerry — see here)

(4) High voter turnout favors the challenger. Record high voter turnout REALLY favors the challenger.

(5) Right-wing blog cites are urging their readers to behave in the face of defeat, except for those which are not. Either way, there seems to be the spector of defeat in right-wing blogosphere land.

(6) Same reason as always: No President with <50% approval rating as ever been re-elected. Case closed.

If some of you intend to really get into watching the returns tonight, you must read this must-read about exit polls. You need to know for your own self how much (or how little) you want to trust them. But Icy Hot patches await me, and I think I’m going to call it a Kerry victory. Feel free to send me some Dewey-Truman jibes — or (ugh!) Koolaid references. I’ll read them all in the morning!!

Final Thoughts and Predictions

1. Kerry has the momentum going into the election. He will win the popular vote: 48.8% to 47.8%. More importantly, Kerry will win the electoral college: 280 to 258.

The battleground state breakdown will be:

NH, PA, NJ, MI, MN, FL, NM, WI for Kerry

NV, OH, IA, MO for Bush . . .

although we won’t know the results for many of these states until early Wednesday. Florida and/or Wisconsin will be the tightest. No upsets in non-battleground states, but Arkansas will give Bush a bigger run for his money than expected.

If I am wrong, then the first indication will be when NJ fails to have a clear winner by midnight. If that’s the case, then turn off the TV and go to bed. You will wake up in the morning with Bush being President.

2. The "second headline" for the election (underneath "Kerry Wins") will be the strength of the (Kerry-leaning) youth vote, which all polls have universally underestimated and undersampled.

3. Highest voter turnout ever. For weeks, the right wing has been saying that the left has been motivated by its anti-Bush feelings, rather than pro-Kerry feelings. Yup. You better believe it. Just watch how much.

4. Yes, there will be fighting and lawsuits afterwards . . . by both parties. The public will not stomach it for very long, and it will all go away.

5. The Republican party will fall into disarray as neo-cons fight the Reagan conservatives for the soul of the party. Not to mention fiscal conservatives who want to regain their voice. And then the fight between social (religious) conservatives and the "Arnold" (socially liberal) conservatives. Sadly, they’ll pull it together by 2008 — they always do.

6. There will be no honeymoon for Kerry.