Reminder: Bloggers' New Year

Just a quick reminder that Chris and I will be on Almanac with Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker of Powerline tonight at 7:00 PM.

Or you can watch it right now online (Real).

Who's 'stingy'?

In response to international criticism and the widening scope of the disaster, Bush has increased the US's tsunami aid to $350 million (from $15m and then $35m). This is a good move and I'm glad to see that the US government is doing more to help the millions of people killed and injured by the tsunami. MSNBC has an article that lists the relief that various countries are providing.

Could we do more?

When UN official Jan Egeland called Western nations 'stingy' with relief funds, he meant all of us. As he noted, at this time of year we should reflect on how fortunate we really are.

$350 million is the largest commitment I've been able to find so far and is a vast improvement over the much-criticized $35 million.

To provide some perspective, the US government provided $13 billion in aid for Florida following the hurricane disasters there this fall. That's $13,000 million, for a disaster that pales in comparison to the tsunami.

Should we do more?

With tragedy comes opportunity. Even our most right-wing readers will agree that the US's image in the world is not at its highest since the Iraq war. This disaster gives Bush a good chance to start his second term off on the right foot with the world. It gives America a chance to reclaim its mantle as the leader of the Free World, by leading all the nations in disaster relief and rebuilding. It gives us a chance to show that America is not on a crusade against Muslims, by helping the hundreds of thousands of displaced Muslims in Indonesia. America should lead an effort to link earthquake early warning systems into a world-wide network.

If I were president, I would not only provide aid commensurate with the scale of the disaster and wealth of the US, but also use the bully pulpit to encourage Americans to donate to the disaster relief efforts, setting a goal of, say, $500 million.

Bush started out on the wrong foot with a bungled response to this tragedy. But we can still recover, if he's willing to lead.

Update: Kos also writes about this today: $350 million and a PR goldmine lost.


Today's lesson: Toe the GOP line or lose your job

Often, something comes up that reminds me why I campaigned so hard against Republicans. Some will be surprised that it isn't related to policy positions, though I profoundly disagree with the policies of this administration. I recognize GOP positions as an interpretation of the world that is very different than mine, founded on a different set of assumptions about human nature. I mean heck, I understand fiscal discipline, smaller, effective government, strong defense, and fewer government entitlement programs, that's why I am a democrat. Republicans believe in the opposite. I get it.

What I truly don't understand is how Republicans, heck Americans, can tolerate the way the current incarnation of the GOP does business. When
House Republicans Acted to Protect DeLay Republicans said nothing. Now, House Ethics Committee chairman, Joel Hefley (R-CO) might lose his job for rebuking Delay last October. The Washington Post likens this to Ousting the Umpire.

Differences of opinion I understand. Churning congressional wheels to protect the disgraceful Tom Delay is totally, obviously corrupt. Why do Republicans put up with this?


Throw 'em a bone

I just read a post via norbizness that the Bush inauguration this time around will bust a U.S. record at $40 million.

And U.S. aid to the recent tsunami and earthquake victims is at $15 million.

Can't we possibly dig a little deeper Mr. "compassionate conservative"? Like perhaps not throw yourself such a big ass party? I know I'd feel like the world's biggest heel doing that, but that's just me.

Norbizness also has many other fun numbers to put the $15 mil. in perspective.


Support our troops and the Iraqis

Gift-giving is one of the oldest traditions of this season, going back to ancient times. We also wish "peace on Earth and goodwill towards men" but this year, sadly, seems to be lacking. But you can help make a soldier's life easier or ease the humanitarian crisis in Iraq with a gift to one of the following...

The USO is collecting money to provide phone cards for our troops abroad so they can speak with their families.

Thousands of American soldiers have been wounded in Iraq. They are transfered to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for treatment, practically straight from the battlefield with only what they are wearing. The Civil Air Patrol cadets at Ramstein are raising money and collecting donations to provide these hospitalized soldiers with basic necessities -- a change of underwear, sweatpants, toiletries. (Via Juan Cole)

There is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have been wounded, killed, or displaced from their homes by this war (Falluja alone was a "town" of 500,000 people before the war). The Red Cross/Red Crescent is doing vital work there to help these people. They need food, shelter and blankets for the winter, and medical supplies. You can earmark your IFRC contribution for Iraq to help support these efforts.

Happy holidays, everyone. I should be back posting after Christmas.

Just a little

I was amused to read conservative blogger John Hinderaker dismiss his Web site's income from ads as only "a couple thousand bucks a month." More than a quarter of U.S. households live on that much or less -- though I wouldn't expect Bush-supporting attorneys to know that.

Andre Theisen, Minneapolis.

Star Tribune Letter to the Editor, Dec. 23 2004


Jack Newfield 1938-2004

"Combine activism with writing. Create a constituency for reform. And don't stop until you have achieved some progress or positive results."

:: Jack Newfield


Rumsfeld: callous and lazy

If there is a better example of a failure of leadership than Rumsfeld's using a signature machine to sign death announcements for soldiers killed in combat, I am anxious to hear it. It's beyond lazy. It's pompous and callous. It really indicates how little these people care about the troops. 1400 letters in 18 months? That has to amount to, what, 8 hours over a year and a half?

A democratic hero for the Middle East

Hey folks, I just got back home with the latest copy of the newsweekly "TIME", and I'm excited to see that Mohammed Mossadegh is on the cover as MAN OF THE YEAR! I bet Henry Luce and his Time-keepers love to put these left-wing radicals on their cover, just to scare the rest of the world. But this time I think the editorial board has some affection for this sneezing, weeping, napping nut who tossed the Brits out of Iran and nationalized the oil industry. Mossadegh now actually seems to be fostering a sense of independence and democracy in the Persian Gulf. Hard to be neutral these days, what with the Soviets barking anti-imperialist dogma at the same time they're roping half the planet in with dictatorships of the proletariat. But Mossadegh seems above that game: he clearly cares only about his own people, the Persians: their independence, freedom, and prosperity. In some weird way (the Shah notwithstanding) he might even become the Middle East's George Washington. Hell, TIME even paints him like Washington on the cover! I'm hoping he's been anointed Man of the Year in order to discourage those State Department rook-shovers (not to mention those secretive spooks in this new "Central Intelligence Agency") from meddling in Iranian affairs, particularly given our "special relationship" with the stewing Brits currently blockading the Persian Gulf. Really, no matter how much that crafty ol' wind-blown pragmatist Acheson hopes to effect "regime change" out in Persia, I'm pretty sure we can all agree that the only result of American interference in Iran will be a hell-storm. And given the new Cold War, only heaven and hell can pick Acheson's successor, am I wrong? I'm just glad that we're one of the few countries in the world with a perfectly free press, which can keep the public informed, and prevent such nonsense from happening.

[NOTE: This post is reprinted from New Patriot's 1951 holiday archives.]



This story about a woman who strangled an eight month pregnant woman and cut her unborn child from her womb, then tried to pass it off as her own is one of the most grotesque things I've ever read. What would possess a person to do something like this? Lisa Montgomery confessed to the crime on Thursday. Montgomery even lied to friends and her husband saying she'd given birth while shopping in the city. How would you hide that from your husband?

Montgomery contacted her victim through email about buying a dog. Did Montgomery find out the other woman was pregnant and decide to kill her and take her baby? Or was it some sort of bizarre impulse?

All I can think is that she must be insane.


Iran is in the mix - results of Iraq elections in doubt

I have long regarded the upcoming elections in Iraq with very mixed emotions. Once again, we are faced with a situation where a strategic decision must be made that runs counter to what we might ordinarily choose if circumstances were different. A case study in this would be Bush's decision to go into Iraq in the first place. Yes Saddam was evil. But in removing him we we hurt ourselves. Saddam is gone, but Al Qaeda is stronger. 1,200 American soldiers are dead and 10,000 are wounded. Many previously solid international relationships are in tatters. What was expected to be a short military engagement has no projected end after almost two years.

Unfortunately, we cannot uninvade Iraq. We are where we are. So it doesn't really benefit anyone to re-hash the myriad of reasons why it wasn't a good idea to go there. Likewise, we cannot take back the cavalcade of errors that were made immediately after the invasion. We can only begin to do things differently. We have to start acting in our own interests some time. The elections would be a good time to consider putting our national interests ahead of a romantic ideal.

While elections are near and dear to all of our American hearts, President Bush's insistence that they be carried forward while Iraq is so unstable will result in a stronger enemy. Like so much of this administration's policy, a ham handed approach to accomplishing an admirable goal will create an opposite reality. David Ignatius in Friday's Washington Post writes about How Iran Is Winning Iraq.

If you had asked an intelligence analyst two years ago to describe the worst possible political outcome following an American invasion of Iraq, he might well have answered that it would be a regime dominated by conservative Shiite Muslim clerics with links to neighboring Iran. But just such a regime now seems likely to emerge after Iraq's Jan. 30 elections.

Iran is about to hit the jackpot in Iraq, wagering the blood and treasure of the United States. Last week an alliance of Iraqi Shiite leaders announced that its list of candidates will be headed by Abdul Aziz Hakim, the clerical leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. This Shiite list, backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is likely to be the favorite of Iraq's 60 percent Shiite majority and win the largest share of votes next month.

With the stakes so high, Iran can be expected to pull out the stops to influence the outcome as is evidenced by a recent increase of border traffic. Even stalwart Republicans are clamoring for Rumsfeld's resignation, which is interesting since he was one of the primary architects of the policy they all supported. Washington is about to catch inauguration fever. The troops are short on armor and long on tours. The President hands out medals to men who barely deserve it. The New York Times calls it Fiddling while Iraq Burns.

There may have been a time in the beginning where we could have earned the trust of the Iraqi people. But that time is past. Now we must labor to secure the country so a sufficiently diverse majority of the nation can vote in a real election that ultimately delivers a moderate republic that doesn't hate us too much. By racing to elect leaders before Iraq is stable we could hand the whole deal - money and blood - to either Iran or the insurgency. I love elections. But it might be better to wait.


That Liberal Media

Today's Star Tribune article It's official: McLaughlin's in Minneapolis mayoral race is pretty standard political fare: a blurb from the candidate's speech, some background info, a chance for the opponet to respond.

But why is the only other person quoted Taxpayers League president/conservative bombthrower David Strom?

David Strom, president of the conservative Taxpayers League, said that while he likes McLaughlin, the commissioner's eyes glaze over when discussing numbers and budgets. "If he gets to be mayor, he may talk about neighborhoods, but you're going to see big projects. That seems to be his model."

He also said that if the NRP needs anything, it's accountability. "My impression of the NRP is it's making sure whoever the neighborhood activist is gets his chunk of change," Strom said.

He finds the notion of a McLaughlin-Rybak match interesting. "He's a guy who's never seen a spending project he doesn't like and a city that doesn't like saying no," Strom said.
It's that liberal media.


New Patriot TV Debut

Yesterday, Chris and I shared a short segment on TPT's Almanac with Powerline bloggers Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker. The discussion stayed off of politics, so it's a little tame.

You can watch it on TPT at 7:00 December 31, or watch it online here [RealVideo].


Hammurabi's Code

If we're going to post ancient laws in our courthouses, I think we should really go all the way back to the source: Hammurabi's Code of Laws, one of the first known sets of written laws.

My favorite?

If a builder build a house for some one, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.

How Do You Drive Out a Union?

South Carolina Factory Provides a Textbook Case. Not many "textbooks" droning on about such dire corruption though: a company attempts to destroy a legally created union using the help of well-paid consultants (and bribed insiders), then is successfully sued for violations of obvious labor laws, then they attempt to de-Grinch their souls by, er, suing their union-busting strategists for engineering a "relentless and unlawful campaign to oust the union."

Throughout this sordid tale, we get the impression that the union remains a paragon of principle and morals, go figure. The expensive mess was a success:

"After all this, I don't think you could pay the people here to join a union, to mess with a union," Mr. Clemmons said. "And I don't believe the union would want to deal with us anymore down here."

Also, there's an entire community of unemployed workers round Sumter who probably find it difficult to believe in anything this year. Good going EnerSys, another such victory and we are all undone. [A public display of affection to SarahD for the link.]

Defining the Progressive Philosophy

I just picked up a copy of George Lakoff's new book Don't Think of an Elephant. The new book is a condensation of his more academic 1996 work Moral Politics and contains more useful advice for progressives. Nathan Newman Ralph Taylor offers his review here.

Without getting into Lakoff's thesis (about which I will probably have more to say later) I thought that his attempt to create a ten word summation of the "vision" of the progressive movement was important enough to re-post here.

The conservatives have figured out their own values, principles, and directions, and have gotten them out in the public mind so effectively over the past thirty years that they can evoke them all in a ten-word philosophy: Strong Defense, Free Markets, Lower Taxes, Smaller Government, Family Values. We progressives have a different ten-word philosophy, but it won't be as meaningful yet because it will take us a while to get our values, principles, and directions out there. My nomination for our ten-word philosophy versus theirs is the following:

Stronger AmericaStrong Defense
Broad ProsperityFree Markets
Better FutureLower Taxes
Effective GovernmentSmaller Government
Mutal ResponsibilityFamily Values

Lakoff is all about framing, so as an experiment, I constructed a another table with opposites of these values (i.e., we're for a Stronger America, so you are for a Weaker America).

Stronger AmericaWeaker AmericaStrong DefenseWeak Defense
Broad ProsperitySelective/Stratified ProsperityFree MarketsRestricted Markets
Better FutureWorse FutureLower TaxesHigher Taxes
Effective GovernmentIneffective GovernmentSmaller GovernmentBigger Government
Mutal ResponsibilitySelfishnessFamily ValuesImmorality

Daily Kos Profile


Party Central: Berkeley blogger Markos Moulitsas wants nothing less than to reinvent party politics.


Don King for Secretary of Homeland Security

Earlier in the week I predicted that we would probably find more skeletons in Bernard Kerik's closet than just an illegal nanny. The story gets more and more bizarre.

Let's consider for a moment that Bush and Cheney spent the entire campaign season scaring the bejeesus out of anyone within a mile of a television, radio or campaign rally. I mean, supposedly if we elected Kerry we would be turned into particulate matter on November 3rd by a terrorist nuke. Based on their assertions, one could reasonably expect the administration to put forward the best administrator and strategic mind in the country to run Homeland Security. The candidate presented to the people by the administration is a direct reflection of the values of the values party.

Here's what Bush gave us: We have a guy that might be mobbed up, deserted an illegitimate daughter in Korea, fumbled a key job in Iraq. What could make him more qualified to make America Secure? Maybe if he were a bigamist.

In nominating Kerik, Bush once again showed he values loyalty, personality and ideological correctness more than competence, more than the country, actually. I don't think there is anybody in the Whitehouse left who can slap the President and say, "Get a grip on yourself, man, for all our sakes." But someone should. Otherwise the next candidate might be another extremely loyal, right-thinking campaigner with a checkered past - Don King.


Which Ten Commandments, part 2

In my last post, I pointed out that there's a tiny problem with hanging up the Ten Commandments everywhere: not everyone agrees on which commandment is which. There are a total of 25 instructions in the original text and the Commandments are not numbered. In fact, they are not even copied exactly in different places in the Bible. Jews, Protestants, and Catholics have slightly different interpretations. Muslims are told by the Qur'an to honor the Commandments, but they are not repeated in that book.

Of course, Swiftee ignored my main point and rushed into a discussion of why the Ten Commandments apply to this "Christian" nation. So I decided to go through with my idea of examining each of the Ten Commandments for their applicability to US law.

I decided to use the Catholic version, because I was raised Catholic and because that's the version Swiftee quoted (#4 gives it away -- in the Protestant and Jewish versions, it's remembering the Sabbath. In the Catholic version, it's honor your parents). Assume for a second that the Lutherans and Jews didn't sue over hanging up the Catholic commandments in every government building. Which ones would still apply to US law today?

Ronald Youngblood notes that, "According to rabbinic tradition, the purpose for having two tablets was to divide the Ten Commandments under two rubrics. The first tablet, we are told, contained the so-called religious commandments, describing obligations owed to God. The second tablet contained ethical or moral commandments, describing obligations we owe to one another as creatures of God and as fellow human beings." So we can pretty much agree that the first five (or rather, first four in the Catholic version) will be thrown out due to the separation of church and state, as they entail specific obligations to a specific God.

The Ten Commandments (Catholic Version)

1. I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.

First amendment prohibits favoring one religion over another, so this one is right out.

2. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

Oops, freedom of speech.

3. Remember thou keep the Sabbath Day.

Which one?

4. Honor thy Father and thy Mother.

A good idea, but impossible to legislate. And what about abusive parents?

5. Thou shalt not kill.

Good one. One of those timeless classics. Apparently there are some exceptions that we're still working out, though.

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Define "adultery." What if everyone's OK with it? No longer illegal in most places.

7. Thou shalt not steal.

Another timeless classic.

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

Generally a good policy, but that pesky free speech thing keeps interfering. Breaking this one will probably get you a bad repuation. Of course, modern politics is practically built on breaking this Commandment. Still illegal in court (perjury).

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.

Thought crime?

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

Our whole economic system is practically built on coveting thy neighbor's goods, conspicuous consumption, keeping up with the Joneses. The whole country would fall apart if we legislated this one!

Commandments, revised and updated

Based on these observations, I've whittled the Ten Commandments down to a more manageable Three. I look forward to getting these posted in courthouses and schools across the country.

1. Thou shalt not kill.

2. Thou shalt not steal.

3. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor's goods.

Update:Chris posted this in the comments, and it's so good I'm bringing it up to the main post:

That fact that we are dickering over the spiritual intent of the ten commandments speaks to Luke's original point. Seven of the ten commandments have nothing to do with the law. I can legally "covet" anything I want to, no matter how you define it, even though it is not good for me spiritually. I can also make graven images, cheat on my wife, pick Wednesday as my Sabbath Day, sass off to my mom and dad, gossip and exaggerate (though not under oath) about my neighbor and lust after his wife and pray to a strange God - and not break any laws of the land.

I would no more hang the ten commandments in a courthouse than I would hang the 400 bc Roman penal code in a church.


Kerry 9, Edwards 1

This is odd... One of Minnesota's electors voted for Edwards instead of Kerry. Apparently nobody's taking credit, either, and electors are assuming that someone made a mistake. Fine, it's a mistake, but what a stupid mistake! And though the election is all but over (aside from the recount in Ohio), why throw away a vote? Is it so difficult to write "Kerry" on the presidential ballot and "Edwards" on the other? Ugh.


Which Ten Commandments?

I was going to do a post about how posting the Ten Commandments in schools and courts is a bad idea because so few of the laws given in them apply to a secular society like ours.

But then I hit a hang up looking for the exact text of the Commandments.

When they're not printed as big Roman numerals, there's quite a bit of disagreement over which Commandment is which.

ReligiousTolerance.org provides a good overview of the Ten Commandments, with the text, various viewpoints on who wrote them, and the way different denominations split up the commandments. Positive Atheism provides a side-by-side list of the Ten Commandments as used by Jews, Protestants, and Catholics (if you don't want to be influenced by their atheism, just read the commandments).

Which version of the Commandments are we going to post in the schools? Shall we discriminate against the Jews, the Protestants or the Catholics (along, of course, with the Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, Sikhs, etc.)?


Kerik bolts from kitchen before it gets hot

So which of the myriad of reasons not to pick Bernard Kerik for Secretary of Homeland Security was the one that forced him to withdraw his name? Was it the six million bucks he made selling Taser stock? Was it that he only served half of his 6 month stint as top cop in Baghdad? Was it one of the scandals that occured on his watch as New York City Commissioner of Police? Nope.

It was the ol' I hired an illegal immigrant for a nanny mistake. It's a rare day that a Bush appointee falls on his sword before his compadres have a chance to claim that it is the result of partisan politicking.

What do you want to bet that more will be revealed on Mr. Kerik?


Uptown Borders Unionizes

Hey everybody, when you're out and about shopping for books this holiday season and beyond, throw a little of your business Borders' way. The Uptown Borders bookstore has just signed a spanking new union contract!

When making your purchase tell them you are buying from them because they have unionized and you want to support that. It's important to show an employer that the fate of the worker in important to their customers. If more of us paid attention to this and let them know we cared, perhaps it could start a positive trend.

It is sad that even today when many people think that unions have become obsolete, they are actually becoming more relevent. (ie. Wallmart, etc.) It would be nice if we could retire the need for the workers to unite against their employers to fight for their rights and a living and fair wage, but that day is not yet upon us. I hope that someday we can all relax and know that our employers respect us enough to give us our due in a fair portion of the profits our hard work has brought them. That day is not today, but maybe some day soon we'll "turn that corner".

Centrisity teaches right wingers how to read

Over at his blog Centrisity, Flash gives our right wing friends at the Northern Alliance Radio Network a lesson in criticial reading. You see, they seem to have some problems with context and sequentiality.

Flash takes NARN to school with fine style. But then, he is a teacher.



"Wellstone!" the documentary on Paul and Sheila Wellstone which made its world premiere at IFP MSP's Central Standard Film Festival this year, is screening for one last weekend in 2004 at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis on Saturday, December 11th and Sunday, December 12 at 3:00 pm. City Pages called the documentary "an engrossing, inspiring David and Goliath tale."  Filmmakers will be present. Tickets  $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 12 and under. The Riverview is at East 38th St. and 42nd Ave South.   For more information about the documentary, and to order a DVD, visit www.carryitforward.org. [via IFP Newsletter]


Bernard Kerik a known unknown

Bernard Kerik's bald noggin is a fitting ornament for the top cop of Tough Town, USA. He campaigned hard for the President. He toed the party line. He looks the part.

But what does he have to offer? What makes him qualified to run the bureaucratic train wreck of Homeland Security?

It will be interesting to hear his answers to Slate's questions.

Much of what is being written about Kerik from his home state paints him as a supreme opportunist and someone who is not afraid to use his new found influence to make a buck.

It is interesting to contrast the NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's glowing praise of Kerik with the scathing, Kerik nomination is a ticking time bomb, from Newsday, which identifies several scandals Kerik allegedly touched during his term as Police Comissioner of New York City and during his miserable term in Iraq.

Here's hoping he performs with integrity and savvy, more integrity than he displayed after he deserted his illegitimate daughter. Here's hoping he has the guts to resist the lucious barrel of pork he now controls. Here's hoping he puts the saftey of the American people over loyalty to the President and loyalty to the party line.

I am hoping. But I am not holding my breath.


The Truth Is Emerging

History books are being written before our very eyes. Eventually, the mounting sum of egregious failures and casualties in Iraq (and the War against Islam) will bite us in the ass – on the scale of 9/11 or bigger, I fear. The red state president will have more blood on his hands than Karl Rove or Scott Mclellan can wash away. How many civilians, doctors, and clerics can we torture and kill before a majority in the Arab world quietly say of Americans, "Kill 'em all"?

New Patriotism means truth-telling, to save our country... and our future.

Pentagon report reveals catalogue of failure

THE Pentagon has admitted that the war on terror and the invasion and occupation of Iraq have increased support for al-Qaeda, made ordinary Muslims hate the US and caused a global backlash against America because of the “self-serving hypocrisy” of George W Bush’s administration over the Middle East.

In Iraq, the US does eliminate those who dare to count the dead

Mr Ambassador, I believe that your government and its Iraqi surrogates are waging two wars in Iraq. One war is against the Iraqi people, and it has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. The other is a war on witnesses.

Government Says Evidence Gained by Torture Can Be Used to Detain Enemy Combatants

Evidence based on torture is not admissible in U.S. courts. "About 70 years ago, the Supreme Court stopped the use of evidence produced by third-degree tactics largely on the theory that it was totally unreliable," Harvard Law Professor Philip B. Heymann, a former deputy U.S. attorney general, said in an interview. Subsequent high court rulings were based on revulsion at "the unfairness and brutality of it and later on the idea that confessions ought to be free and uncompelled."


Franken On Caldwell (w/ Free Bonus Editorial)

Not that we'd expect the NYTimes to care much about integrity... but Al Franken does a pretty fine job outlining exactly why Christopher Caldwell is not fit to replace William Safire:

Now, I called up Caldwell and I told him, I said, "Hi Chris, it's Al Franken, and I like some of the stuff you've written" -- and I have. He said, "I liked some of your stuff," and I said, "OK, you wrote this thing, you called this thing pagan. Did you see the stage full of clergy from every faith tradition in Minnesota, the stage full doing an ecumenical prayer?" And he goes, "uh, no."

"OK, you say 20,000 people booed a succession of people. What are you talking about? Did you see 20,000 people boo anybody? Did you see the booing?" "No."

I go down the whole list. He said that the people, other people who died other than Wellstone weren't even treated, weren't even talked about, were barely treated at all. Most bizarrely, he writes: "The pilots and aides who died with him were barely treated at all." Which is just crazy. The first three hours of this thing were -- the pilots were not eulogized -- but the aides of Wellstone were. Will McLaughlin, the driver. Tom Lapic. And, I'm sorry...Mary McEvoy. ...They were eulogized by friends and family. By people family had chosen. It was three hours before Paul was even gotten to. I asked if he'd seen any of those. I asked if he'd seen David McLaughlin's unbelievably beautiful eulogy of his brother Will. No, he hadn't seen it.

I said, "Where did you see it? Did you see the thing?" He said, "Yes, I did." I said, "What, a tape of it?" And he goes, "No." "So you saw it on C-SPAN, like a repeat? Did you see it live?" "No. no. no." "Where did you see it?" "Well, I saw it on TV." "What does that mean?" "I saw it on TV." "What does that mean?" "I saw some clips of it." He saw, like, whatever Hannity & Colmes had pulled.

To me, more than anything else, the Wellstone memorial will always epitomize two important highlights of modern day Republicanism. A) How they cynically manipulate media and popular opinion through lies and well-orchestrated distortion, illustrated by Mr. Franken above. And B) The absolute shamelessness with which they will claw for power... fuck a dead Senator and his family and friends. Fuck common decency.

Perhaps history will look fondly upon them, the riches and power they've amassed. Perhaps in the distant future, children will be taught to look up to these people, their disregard for everyone but themselves and those close to them who can help them further help themselves. Maybe a national holiday will be placed in their honor, with monuments built in green, lush parks, built far removed from the parts of the country that lay in ruin because of them. Maybe one guy will note the irony. Maybe another will blog about it in vain, if such a thing still exists.


As for me, I'm glad to be on the wrong side of history. I'll gladly stay there.

I was there that night, by the way. At the memorial, sitting with Wellstone staff... kids that had poured their hearts and souls, every ounce of energy they had, into the guy, their friend; some for a few months on the campaign trail, others for years and fucking years. It was one of the most emotional events I've ever been a part of. It was also the most beautiful and heartfelt.

I will always resent the GOP for what they did to Paul and his memory. And Rick's. Paul deserved better.

So, in conclusion: Fuck Christopher Caldwell. Go to hell and die. Thank you.



Check it out, folks, there's already a Dayton v. Kennedy blog up and running (written by a Mark Kennedy fan, natch). Um, so is there any chance we can convince Mark Dayton not to run in 2006? Not that Kennedy would beat him or anything, it's just that after the office-closing incident I'm convinced I can carve a stiffer spine out of a banana.


Prospects for Progress in a Polarized World

I'd intended to post this days ago...the event is happening TONIGHT in St. Paul. My bad.

Thursday, December 2, 2004, 7 p.m.
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul Campus
2115 Summit Avenue
O’Shaughnessy Educational Center

Prospects for Progress in a Polarized World: A Conversation with David Brooks
David Brooks — New York Times Op-Ed columnist, and frequent commentator for NPR and PBS' News Hour with Jim Lehrer — comes to St. Paul for a savvy conversation about present-day politics and foreign affairs.

Tickets are $20; free for students with valid ID. To register for this event, go to the National Institute of Health Policy Web site, www.nihp.org. Minnesota Public Radio members should call 651-962-4613 for reservations and discounts.

Sadly I will be unable to attend.


Duct Tape Dreams and Bottled Water Wishes

Ridge steps down as Homeland Security chief.

"The Justice Department announced plans this week for a new color-coded alert system with green for the most relaxed and red as the most serious warning. ....Strom Thurmond was visibly enthused about the plan, saying, 'A colored alert system? I've been waiting for one of them for years.'" —Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

Trope a dope

I posted below that it was being reported that the US had napalmed Falluja. In an ironically titled repsponse, Saint Paul at Fraters Libertas gives us the same old trope in Meet the New Trope, Same As the Old Trope.

Saint Paul employs the time honored conservative tactic of crying "Socialist" when presented with a set of ideologically contrary facts. When confronted with a very uncomfortable moral dillema - That it is obviously wrong to use napalm in civilian populations - he accuses the neutral observer with false moral clarity.

As much as St. Paul would assign the qualities of self-righteousness and cynicism to me I ask in return: When is the right going to get real? Although it is a war crime to drop napalm on civilian populations (it is, of course, endlessly arguable whether or not Falluja is a civilian population so let's agree to disagree), that's not the only thing that bothers me about it. Number two on the list is that the use of a weapon like that it is so unbelievably, tragically stupid. It is particularly stupid to use it in pursuit of an asinine war, ineptly run.

See, St. Paul, the thing is, I want to win the war on terror. This isn't about right and left. It's about winning a war. In order to win it, we have to come to grips with the fact that the war in Iraq and the way we are waging it is not making us safer. We are selling the soul of our nation to make our enemy stronger.

Here's some socialist propaganda that supports my argument, not that you or this administration would ever listen (two bits if you can guess the source):

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies. Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.

Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.

Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self determination.Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.

What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.

Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game. This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves. Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of “dissemination of information,” or even one of crafting and delivering the “right” message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none — the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the “loud and clear” channel: the enemy.

Source: September 2004, Department of Defense, Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication

Momentary Diversion