Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Father Knows Best

Hey, it's Screamin' Jane Hawkins!
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Coturnix over at the fascinating Science and Politics gives us a round up today of stories dealing with the psychology of faith-versus-fact based politics. He also has done a lot of work on the bizzare sexual meta-themes of the current presidential campaign. His brief commentary includes the following:

Apart from presenting himself as masculine, Kerry also has to work on the other side of the equation: portray BushCo as sissies, wusses, cowards....They present themselves as erect falluses - we need to show they are just flaccid dicks, afraid of vaginas with teeth.

That brought to mind a little story which, in the interest of providing a bit of (I hope) comic relief, I humbly present to you now:

Stern Father watches from the window of his third-floor leather study as his very young son plays innocently with a little girl on the sidewalk below. He's getting angrier and angrier, his head filling with blood, his veins throbbing. He finally snaps, flies down the stairs, grabs his bewildered son by the ear and drags him all the way up to the study. Stern Father seals the door and turns to glare at the boy: 'You won't understand now, but always remember what I'm about to tell you: stay away from girls; they have TEETH in there and they'll chew you up! In a tremulous whimper the boy says 'Y-y-yes Father'.

A guileless teenager now, the boy finds himself crazily preoccupied with girls. He makes the mistake of walking home with one from his class on the very same sidewalk. His father spies them, rages down the stairs and pulls his son by the scruff of the neck up the stairs: "Don't you remember what I told you?! STAY AWAY FROM GIRLS! They have TEETH in there and they'll CHEW YOU UP!. "Y-y-yes sir".

The boy eventually graduates from college and, displaying enormous drive and ambition, becomes a journalist with a very bright future. A real eager beaver. One day he meets and is smitten by a beautiful turquoise jewelry designer. He certainly remembers what his father had told him, but he can't help it, and neither can she. It's Love. Right after the wedding ceremony, they board a cruise ship and start their honeymoon. After a full first day of shuffleboard, fabulous entertainment and way too much food, the couple retires to their wedding bed. The young groom gives his new wife a big warm affectionate hug and kiss, rolls over and goes right to sleep. She is a little perplexed, but decides to let it go, figuring that he's just tired or nervous or something. She herself rolls over and goes to sleep.

The next day is even better. They swim, do karaoke and again eat way too much scrumptious food before finally returning to bed in the soft pink bridal cabin. He gives her another warm, genuinely affectionate hug and kiss, says 'G'night honey!', and rolls over. His new wife yells: "WAIT A MINUTE!"

" there something wrong dear?"

"Well, YEAH, there IS! Howard, you're a fine man, but you have to, you know...consumate the marriage!"

After she explains exactly what that entails, he says, "Oooh No! My dad told me that you women have TEETH in there and that you'll chew me up!"

With a mixture of pity and slight revulsion subtly animating her face, she says, "Look, Howard; we're husband and wife now. It's time for you to finally learn the truth. Take a very good look at what's right in front of your eyes. See? There're no teeth in there!"

"Well, with gums in THAT condition, of COURSE not!"

Moral: A truly 'responsible' American journalist dutifully goes wherever a story leads him.


The Bodice Rippers

no means yes
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

The future make-up of American civic life will have to be something which actually works. Americans have always demanded that, and will continue to. Our politics will continue to become more and more of a cobbled-together modern admixture of what the country was meant to be about at its inception: libertarianism and liberalism; free markets AND social justice, individual freedom and creativity AND equal opportunity. Ideologues always forget that reality - in the form of passion & rationality & imagination & necessity - spawns theory, not the other way around. It's time to remind some of them of that.

The Editors of the more/less libertarian magazine Reason preface their presidential poll of 'policy wonks, journalists, thinkers, and other public figures' (from which most of the items below are drawn) as follows:

Voting for president is a lot like sex, and not just because it takes place every four years in the solitude of a semi-private booth. Both are intensely personal activities that nonetheless can have profound public consequences. We might add that both often involve drug-and-alcohol-fueled delusions and morning-after feelings of guilt, shame, and recrimination.

Ah, ha ha, they are so witty and sardonic, aren't they? Sex in a semi-private booth once every four years, mixed with shame, alcohol and other drugs. Hoo boy, those libertarians are a fun bunch, I bet. It's a safe, conventional thing to say that a presidential vote is 'intensely personal', but does it really make sense? Isn't that attitude a bit of a luxury in the komplex kluge of big-country politics, especially when the choice is so absurdly narrow ('either/or')? Are we choosing a politician or an avatar?

You will hear a lot of complaints about 'statism' below (especially from the economists!). As a fellow creative person, I have some sympathy with that critique. Without creative deviation from the norm, no net progress is possible. Without a hallowed individualism you will waste or squelch incalculable creative deviation along with its incalculable ramifications. But what our libertarian dreamers miss is the fact that - cliche though it is - politics is no more or less than the art of the possible. It's not intrinsically systematic, but rather terrifyingly intentional. Nauseatingly prosaic. It requires (gasp!) a sense of humor. Why, when 99% of the rest of life is decidedly alloyed, do they think politics can be 'pure'? Lenny Bruce noted that there is only 'what IS'. But, god! Dealing with 'what is' is so vulgar....

If you thought the 'Hollywood Liberals' were dewey-eyed, check out these 'angry old/young men: severe and hopeless Romantics when it comes to voting. Notwithstanding the tough bawdy-talk about sex-in-a-booth, what they seem to really want is immaculate conception. Too bad voting is so icky and not theoretical at all; it's something you have to affirmatively, physically DO. Ewwww! Pity the poor cynics, for of course they're disillusioned, betrayed idealists. Awwww.

You will notice that all of them are 'elite' in some way - have a lot of money and/or work on a university campus. They mostly can't bring themselves to vote effectively against probably the worst Leader Of The Free World in our history. So delicate! so romantic! such fine sensibilities! Most of the rest of us have to content ourselves with shuffling along, trying to simply pay our bills, hoping we or our children or their children get the chance to even dream of creatively deviating from the norm some day.

They have fetishized making the perfect the enemy of the good. They would rather nobly serve what is by definition a lost cause; they'd rather attempt to eat the recipie than the actual-but-flawed meal. How beautiful and fine and hopeless!

It doesn't require a whole lot of education, specialization and intellectual fire-power to be this stupid, but it helps.

Come, let's decant some of the most pungent American intellectual ferment of our time:

Drew Carey

Carey stars in Drew Carey's Green Screen Show, beginning October 7 on the WB.

2004 vote: Quit pretending that it matters, would you? Can you vote for all the nefarious cabals that really run the world? No. So fuck it.

2000 vote: I voted Libertarian, for all the good it did me.

Most embarrassing vote: Is it considered embarrassing to cast a vote out of principle for someone you know doesn't have a snowball's chance of winning? Oh, OK. Then they're all embarrassing.

Favorite president: Andrew Jackson, because he's what a lap dance costs (and because, ironically, he opposed having a National Bank).

Oh well, comedians are famously un-funny when they're not on stage. Drew is the wandering, solitary searcher, sojurning through the night looking for ways to blow his big bucks.

Richard Epstein

Epstein is a professor of law at the University of Chicago and author, most recently, of Skepticism and Freedom: A Modern Case for Classical Liberalism (University of Chicago).

2004 vote: I don't know who the Libertarian candidate is this time, but you can put me down as voting for him; anyone but the Big Two. As far as I can tell, the debate thus far has borne no relation to the important issues facing the nation...except Vietnam. It's just two members of the same statist party fighting over whose friends will get favors.

2000 vote: I can't remember.

Most embarrassing vote: Since I don't remember who I vote for from one election to the next, it's hard to say. I suppose Richard Nixon in '72, though that doesn't mean I'd want to have voted for George McGovern either.

Favorite president: I'm certainly a Calvin Coolidge fan; he made some mistakes, but he was a small-government guy.

Ah yes, the great Coolidge. Such a contrast to the two statist candidates who simply want to give their friends (in Kerry's case, that includes poor people who clean Epstein's house and don't have basic health insurance) 'favors'.

Nat Hentoff

Hentoff, a nationally syndicated columnist, writes regularly for both the Village Voice and The Washington Times. An expanded paperback edition of his book The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance (Seven Stories Press) will be released this fall.

2004 vote: I'm not voting for anyone at the top of the ticket. I can't vote for Bush, who supports Ashcroft's various "revisions" to the Bill of Rights, since our liberties are what we're supposed to be fighting for. As for Kerry, I think he's an empty suit: How much time did he give his years in the Senate in his convention speech, about 40 seconds?

Thanks Nat. Penetrating! One candidate wants to dismantle the Bill of Rights and the other is just as bad because....he's an 'empty suit'. Gotcha. Keep up the Good Whine, Nat.

Penn Jillette

Jillette is the larger, louder half of the comedy/magic team Penn & Teller and star of Showtime's Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

2004 vote: I'm undecided (always the stupidest position). I might do the moral thing and not vote at all, or do the sensible thing and vote Libertarian (Badnarik, right?), or I might make 100 bucks from my buddy Tony and vote for Bush. (I told Tony that Bush and Kerry were exactly the same, and he bet me 100 bucks that I didn't believe that enough to really truly vote for Bush.) But if you want to be pragmatic, I'm in Nevada, so who cares?

Yes, Penn. Since it won't affect YOU, both candidates are exactly the same. Why not make the hundred bucks? At least that IS about you.

John McClaughry

Contributing Editor McClaughry, a senior policy adviser in the early Reagan White House, is president of the Ethan Allen Institute in Vermont.

2004 vote: George W. Bush. Unlike his opponents, he at least understands that only America can defeat militant Islam by a combination of military force and the ideology of freedom. At home, his recent advocacy for "a new era of ownership" promises the only way out of statist stagnation.

2000 vote: Bush.

Yes, John. The 'ideology of freedom' and a recent 'advocacy for a new era of ownership' will save the day. Isn't it great that simply getting your speechwriters to write something up and then saying it makes you a leader? It's a slam dunk! Wanna buy a bridge into the 19th century?

Charles Murray

Murray is W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author, most recently, of Human Accomplishment (HarperCollins).

2004 vote: Reluctantly -- very reluctantly -- George Bush. I find the Democrats so extremely obnoxious that I have to vote against them, and I can't do that voting Libertarian.

Right. Bush in inept and dangerous. But not 'obnoxious'. I'M sold!

P.J. O'Rourke

O'Rourke is H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and author, most recently, of Peace Kills (Atlantic Monthly Press).

2004 vote: George W. Bush, because I don't want Johnnie Cochran on the Supreme Court.

2000 vote: George W. Bush. (I always vote Republican because Republicans have fewer ideas. Although, in the case of George W., not fewer enough.)

Yes, PJ, I'm worried about Jonnie Cochran getting on the SCOTUS, too. And I would emphatically agree that Bush doesn't have 'fewer enough' ideas, but...there's the Jonnie Cochran thing...

John J. Pitney Jr.

Contributing Editor Pitney is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and author of The Art of Political Warfare (University of Oklahoma Press).

2004 vote: I'm voting for Bush. He cut taxes. Kerry would raise them.

2000 vote: Bush. Former reason Editor Virginia Postrel put it well: "Bush is a mixed bag. But I think Al Gore is the devil."

The Business of America is..... John J. Pitney Jr.'s tax bracket.

The stuff about 'Gore is the devil' is not the obvious stupid hyperbole it seems to be. It is a more involved, subtle stupid hyperbole. The 'stateism' thing again. Interesting that Ashcroft/PATRIOT 2 doesn't seem to bother most of these people...

Robert Higgs

Higgs is a senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and author, most recently, of Against Leviathan (Independent Institute).

2004 vote: I never vote. I don't wish to soil my hands.

2000 vote: Had I been forced to cast a ballot for president in the 2000 election, I might have died of septicemic disgust.

'Septicemic disgust'?

Mickey Kaus, Contributor: Kerry

I'm voting for Kerry, mainly because I think Bush is prosecuting the fight against terrorism in a way that will make us dramatically less safe unless we have a conspicuous change at the top. Even if you supported the war in Iraq, now is the time to a) try to preserve our gains in that country and Afghanistan while we b) let the world calm down so that fewer people hate us (and hence fewer people try to come and kill us).

I don't expect Kerry to be a successful president in any other respect. It doesn't matter.

Ah, uber-smart-guy Mickey Kaus gets the (almost) last word: It doesn't matter!! PPS: If I seemed to think that anything but Iraq did matter, then I might be thought of as a chump and not a smartguy!!! PPPPPSSSS: Aren't I a wag?!!


And the Winner is.....

I can see for miles and miles
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Actually, this is part of the previous post, but I thought Landsburg of Slate deserved his own special entry and picture. Enjoy the Strange Fruit of Steven's strenuous 'creative' deviation from the norm:

Steven Landsburg, Economic Writer: Bush

If George Bush had chosen the racist David Duke as a running mate, I'd have voted against him, almost without regard to any other issue. Instead, John Kerry chose the xenophobe John Edwards as a running mate. I will therefore vote against John Kerry.

Duke thinks it's imperative to protect white jobs from black competition. Edwards thinks it's imperative to protect American jobs from foreign competition. There's not a dime's worth of moral difference there. While Duke would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of skin color, Edwards would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of birthplace. Either way, bigotry is bigotry, and appeals to base instincts should always be repudiated.

Bush's reckless spending and disregard for the truth had me almost ready to vote for Kerry, until Kerry picked his running mate. When the real David Duke ran against a corrupt felon for governor of Lousiana, the bumper stickers read, "Vote for the crook. It's important." Well, I'm voting for the reckless spendthrift. It's important again.

To be fair, Landsburg is only 13 years old, but still...

Monday, October 25, 2004


President Bush: Fuck Yeah!

is this a great country or what?!
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

I choose to be an optimist. I'm tired of all the whiners, the gloom-and-doomers, the complainers. America is at her best when she looks forward, not backward. My parents grew up poor and look at where they are today: doing OK! My life is pretty fucking great at the moment. And I look around me and see other people who's lives are pretty fucking great, and I think: everything's gonna be OK. It's all going to work out. It always does.

The war on terror is going to be really hard. Thank god we have a tough 'son-of-a-bitch' in the White House. Yeah, Bush is kind of a dick, but we need a dick right now. I leave it to him. You think Janeane Garafolo is better?! Give me a break! You hear a lot of stuff on the news and whatnot, but of course you can't trust the news. It's so pessimistic! Look at Dan Rather! It's all about the benjamins, of course. None of it really matters. I'm not fooled by the news and the pundits. And those liberal Hollywood types? They're all sooo superior. Look at Michael Moore! He's so fat! (and what's with that fucking baseball cap?!). They all want us to keep track of all these stupid details, which I don't believe anyway - these people are such a bring down. Dude, it's just not that dire! Lighten up!

Sure president Bush looks like a total dork sometimes and might have fucked some things up here and there. Could you do any better? I couldn't, and nobody I know could. That's just the way Americans are, anyway. Plus, he's funny. We need to laugh MORE, not less! Older people just don't understand what it's like to be a young person these days. The future is uncertain. The economy is uncertain. The environment is gonna look like 'Blade Runner' no matter what anyway. Our parents were self-absorbed assholes who didn't love us (they spoiled us, but didn't love us). Religion is all bullshit. Politics is all bullshit. Reading books is bullshit, unless it's fantasy or sci-fi. (Now it looks like the Boomers are going to live forever so they'll never get out of our way! We'll still be force-fed 'the Boss' when we're 60!). We know that ten years down the road, no one is going to listen to the hit music being created today. Same with tv shows and movies. All disposable. Everything's already happened, pretty much. And the hippies didn't have to deal with AIDS or herpes, or metal detectors in schools. And it was so easy for them to get pot!

So, to conclude: Think positive. Laugh more! (If I got cancer, I know I'd make a joke out of it, cause I have a sense of humor!) Follow your gut! America is not Europe. We're on a positive tip.


Friday, October 22, 2004


The Customer is Always Right

there is no flag PIMPING amendment
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

President Bush stands for a culture of passivity and irresponsibility, a culture of weakness, entitlement and permissiveness.

CNN Poll of the day: Do you believe that Mount St. Helens will erupt again in the next two years? Yes: 50% No: 49% Don't Know: 1%

There is a difference between a citizen and a consumer. A citizen has the duty to make informed decisions; a consumer simply has to have a preference or an opinion - founded, unfounded, it makes no difference ('Pepsi Clear is clear, not brown. As a woman, I like that'). Evidently, about half the electorate (or, to be fair, probably more) doesn't know the difference between the two roles. If you haven't yet read the PIPA report (and you are part of the 'reality-based community'), prepare to be amazed. In it, you find that a large majority of Bush supporters believe all sorts of things which simply aren't true, aren't debatable. (I can hear the protest right now; no it's NOT my 'opinion' that those things aren't true. They AREN'T true). They believe them because they want to believe them, as if their total job as citizens is to have an opinion, whether they know anything about the subject or not. They feel arrogantly entitled, that their pulling any opinion out of their ass or anywhere else is their sacred American right. There is no sense at all of concomitant responsibility.

In these closing days of this wretched presidential campaign, I would like to see Kerry and Edwards hammer Bush on his terrible, weak, permissive, values. The Bush campaign is increasingly desperate, a doddering shit-tower; but they have to make it last only a few more days. Kick. It. Over.

(By all means, click on the pic above to get a good look - maybe you'll want to actually order a gross of patriotic vomit-bags, or whatever they are).

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


'1984' Is Like, Sooooo Twenty Years Ago!

hi there, earthlings
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

One of the main dangers of fighting a war (or having any kind of main enemy) is that of becoming like your enemy. For example, the advent of the United States' relatively authoritarian, 'garrison state', 'military industrial complex', era was a Cold War response. Other examples abound. In the words of famous Quaker moralist Richard Nixon: 'Always remember others may hate you but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.'

I was not really surprised to see budding dictator Vladimir Putin ('Puty-poot') endorse George W. Bush for re-election. They're buddies, and probably see eye to eye about a lot of things. As I've said before, they both see themselves as 'men of destiny', and seem to feel, hey! screw anybody who doesn't 'get it'! But I had to make sure I wasn't dreaming when I read first thing this morning that the Iranian government (yes, the 'mooolahs') had done the same thing! Seems they feel that Democrats tend to be too concerned with 'human rights' and other pesky stuff. My, my. Who will win the all-important Qaddafi Endorsement? And what about that other member of the Axis of Evil, Kim Jong Il's North Korea?

Even though we haven't heard from him, I think we know who bin-Laden - if alive - is pulling for: his number-one recruiter, naturally.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004


The Death of Comedy

Or it at least has the flu.

I reluctantly went to see 'Team America: World Police' on Sunday night. I mainly went for a chance to hang out with some friends I don't see all that often. I saw Ebert's review, and knew whereof he spoke when he called it 'nihilist'. I'm not a big fan of 'South Park', although it is very funny sometimes. But, I figured, if Sean Penn is pissed off, it can't be all bad....

The problem is not exactly 'nihilism', but an actual inability to know the difference between seriousness and humor, resulting in a lazy, cowardly satire, neatly disguised by deliberate outrageousness. There is no comedy without tragedy. They define each other. If you don't know what to be serious about, you can't be funny, and these guys are hardly alone in our entertainment culture in not realizing this. At dinner after the movie, my friend Alex called Matt and Trey 'cover your ass' comedians - whenever they veer towards making an actual point, they say 'just kidding!' (My other younger friend Andrea got all the way to the crux by pointing out that being serious about nothing is no better than being pompous and humorless. Parker and Stone may be kinda dumbass, but that doesn't mean their audience necessarily is).

Aside from the strictly high school stuff (eg the vomit scene), they are hilariously funny as they satirize American culture, especially Hollywood and the 'media' generally. The first forty minutes or so of 'Team America' are worth the price of admission. I'm not going to give anything away, but I almost injured myself laughing. The 'Thunderbirds' marionettes are a perfect absurdist vehicle, even better than the crude animation of 'South Park'.

The politics are ultimately deeply stupid, however. I certainly don't mean the skewering of Sean Penn, Jenneane Garafalo and, inevitably, Alec Baldwin. That part is just a cheap plot point (funny at times), although they do sail a little too close to the wind when the Sean Penn marionette has his little speech about how wonderful life was in Baghdad before the invasion; Michael Moore is more responsible for that piece of idiocy than Penn, and that leads to the key point. Parker and Stone's real target is Michael Moore and Hollywood culture, not Alec Baldwin and liberalism in general. Unfortunately, they're too stupid and lazy to know the difference. And proud of it. ('America! fuck Yeah!'). That's why their cultural satire is funny, and their political comment is so dumb.

This becomes clear in the end. The 'cover your ass' satirists can't avoid coming out with a moral (just like they always do in 'South Park'), and it is literalistic and witless: the 'dicks, pussies and assholes' formulation - basically the idea that dicks like Bush are dicks (and hated by pussies like Baldwin), but we need them to take care of assholes like bin-Laden. If Stone and Parker had the guts to know what they were talking about, they would see that Bush is really just another asshole, not a 'dick'.

Hollywood in general is not very good at comedy these days. So many movies don't know what they are. 'Cable Guy'-type films abound - is it comedy? Is it drama? We are living through a humorless, literalistic moment in the US. Guys like Parker and Stone may enjoy their own lives, but - in 'South Park' and their movies - even if they express it in a converse way, they are ultimately all about generational self-pity: 'see how absurd everything is? See what a crappy ridiculous culture we've inherited? Poor poor us!' Neither funny nor tragic, only solipsistic. I don't disagree with their diagnosis, but they are part of the crappy absurd culture, too. And they turn out to be at least as mindless as what they skewer - only 'snarkier' and 'hipper' about it. Now that it's their turn....they mostly chicken out: 'just kidding'.

[UPDATE: Behold, the brilliant satirists of the age in their own words:

I think we just deal with everything with humor. Everything. We say all the time, "I know that if one of us got cancer tomorrow, we would be joking about it." It's just the way we deal with stuff. A lot of people with no sense of humor think that that means that you just basically don't care about anyone or anything, and it's not true.

Ultimately, I think we're both pretty optimistic people, too. A lot of this movie came out of, you're laughing at people because you're sort of saying, "Dude, relax." You have the Michael Moores of the world and all these people telling you, "These people are evil and America's going to be destroyed in a matter of five years!" And it's just, to us, not that dire. It's like, you know what? Our lives are pretty fucking great. And a lot of the lives we see around us are pretty fucking great, and everything's gonna be OK. That's just our basic philosophy.

(from the Salon interview )

Saturday, October 16, 2004


The 'Mushy' Bigotry of Low Expectations

knock knock!
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

It's gotten to be almost as predictable as clockwork; or really more like an incipient sneeze: it's probably going to happen (ah..Ah..AHH), but it might not. I'm talking about arguing with a certain type of angry white (usually) man (usually) here in the blogosphere about this Bush policy or that - say, tax policy. You argue to him that Bush's tax cuts are a windfall for a very few, very rich people, and a hose-job for everybody else, especially said angry white working-class man himself. You're telling him that he's voting against his own interest. Exasperated and indignant, he finally says: 'What, do you think I'm STUPID?!.

Oh, gosh, NO! Wouldn't want to call somebody 'stupid'! That would be mean, or possibly even (gasp!) inappropriate! He's daring you to call him stupid, hypocritically relying on a very discrete slice of 'PC'. Imagine the riot of crisscross synapse-firing in his brain at that moment, the wildly mixed emotions; the shocking intimacy of witnessing his amygdala and pre-frontal cortex dukeing it out right there in public cyberspace.

I have never understood why it's perfectly conventional (and commonsensical) to see high or low expectations as pivotal to the performance of children in school, but it's not painfully obvious that the very same phenomenon applies to adults in civic life, especially in a hierarchical, 'broadcast' culture like ours. Although it isn't really altogether new, there has been a marked shift in the last 25 years, the apotheosis of which is George W. Bush: our political and cultural leaders have deliberately re-set expectations lower and lower, and we - in the aggregate - have, inevitably, lived down to them. This is the very definition of mis-leadership (and 'mis-follower-ship').

A commenter on Matt Yglesias' site makes what is, unfortunately, a very good political point about the current Mary Cheney 'controversy':

But there are a great many people in this country who are neither 100% tolerant of gays nor 100% hateful towards them. Many of them would hold the exact position, incoherent or not, that they'd privately love and accept their child if she turned out to be gay, but would also be embarrassed to talk about it in public.

It's all well and good to denounce this viewpoint as based on bigoted assumptions or whatever. But in relation to present-day American political spectrum, these people are neither strongly pro-gay nor strongly anti-gay. They probably represent the middle of the electorate.

Some of the GOP's rhetoric might make it sound like they're trying to masquerade as gay rights defenders. But the object of that rhetoric is not to drive home a logical point but rather to keep the issue in the news long enough to turn this "mushy middle" against Kerry.

Is the position of this 'mushy middle' stupid? Incoherent? Illogical? Yes, yes and yes. Does the type of person this commenter is describing sound like anyone you know or have met? I would bet the farm that it does. Who cares if it makes ZERO sense? The 'customer' is always right.

A very intelligent artist once observed that Americans, to a singular extent, honor, cherish and even exalt stupidity. We love it and reward it extravagantly, while excellence is often feared and scorned (except in sports). While decrying this, he (an American himself) also allowed that stupidity can be a lot of fun, and even charming - we often call it 'goofiness'. Fairly or not, this election will 'send a signal' (as dubya might say) to the wide world, indicating whether or not we understand that distinction between charming and appalling.

In the words of a Great American Icon: 'Stupid is as stupid does, sir.'

Friday, October 15, 2004


The True Meaning of Democracy

pic courtesy of fitley
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

'The President does our talking for us, as with most Americans.'

- Former Nixon stooge and current Swift Boat Running Dog John O'Neill, from his 1972 debate with John Kerry.


Break's Over

My 'rod' shall comfort thee
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Television news is Karl Rove's best and most reliable tool. Most of the time, it's a passive one. The professional idiots on TV will, without much prompting, talk up anything if it's somehow tittilating - 'Where's Chandra?'; Shark Attacks!; the Dean Scream; etc. Sometimes they get an overt nudge from Mr Pudding Pants, as in the case of the Swift Boat Assholes For Filth. The result is always the same: preposterous - sometimes pernicious - distraction. The 'news' - especially cable news - creates the illusion of vibrant, teeming life ('American Morning') so you can passively sit back and pretend to be alive. The 'American Spectator'!

But aside from the current standard-issue Mary Cheney brou-ha - no, we need an even snottier, more WASPy, polo-shirt word for it; how about 'kerfuffle'? - there are actually some liberals out there wringing their hands about Kerry's mention of her in the third debate. Steve Clemmons originally called it 'gratuitous' (although he did backtrack a bit); others have called it a 'low blow'. (Eric Martin explains why this is simply wrong).

Attention liberals (and by 'liberals' I mean anyone to the 'left' of Dwight Eisenhower)! Pop your heads out of your asses! Not only was there nothing wrong with what Kerry said, but - although he was a little awkward, stylistically - it was exactly the right thing to say. Liberals (and by 'liberals' I mean non-reactionaries) lose and lose because we don't have the courage of our convictions, are unwilling to fight for those convictions, and NOT primarily because of what those convictions are. We have an opponent whose goal is to destroy us, while our goal is to beat them at chess. Guess who prevails in that scenario?

The two sides in this matter couldn't be clearer: on the one side, the Federal Marriage Amendment, which seeks - however improbably - to embed religious and sexual bigotry into our constitution; on the other, a belief in equal civil rights for all. Any questions? Will Edwards' and then Kerry's mention of Mary Cheney alert or remind some 'evangelical' bigots out there that Cheney 'tolerates' a gay daughter? Might that suppress their turnout at the polls? LET'S HOPE SO. If that's 'hardball', we need to play a lot more of it.

Let's get down to brass tacks, here. Osama bin-Laden is a bad Muslim. Jimmy Swaggert is a bad Christian. No, we don't have to be 'tolerant' and 'respectful' of their beliefs when they are trying to shove them down everyone else's throats. Jesus himself understood, 2000 years ago, the distinction between Church and State, for christ's sake ('Render unto Caesar...').

This is war, of a sort. The separation of Church and State is about as basic and fundamental an American value as there is. Why are we fighting insane theocracy abroad and equivocating about it here at home? If you believe in Religious War, it makes perfect sense, but not otherwise. Am I suggesting that liberals fight the way Rove does? Yes and no. We need to be as canny and tough as Rove, but we don't need to lie and slander and cheat. The current grotesque incarnation of the Republican party has provided all the ammunition we need, if we will only use it.

Many people putatively of the Right in America despise liberals because we won't fight for what we believe in. They are absolutely right to. If we won't fight hard against what is probably the worst, most dangerous government in our history, we don't deserve to win.


Thursday, October 14, 2004


The Shrinking Man

the vision thing
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

It ain't over 'till it's over, but the prevailing winds are defintely blowing John Kerry's way now. Like millions of other Americans, I was just glad, late last night, to have these 'debates' over with. However, it would be easy to miss the significance of last night: Kerry pretty much put Bush away. Many have pointed to Kerry's looking much more presidential (he did so) and much more, well, adult (on the 'strong women' question, Bush said his wife told him, more/less, to 'sit up straight, wash behind my ears, eat my vegetables'; Kerry good-naturedly said the women in his life kick him around a bit and then invoked his mother admonishing him with the word 'integrity').

But the key moment for me was when Kerry complimented Bush on his post-9/11 speech to congress, saying he was 'moved', Tom Daschle and Bush hugged, etc. Of course Kerry used that to contrast the unity of then with the bitter polarization of now, but he was very wise, even deft, to linger, sincerely, on that compliment. Bush's margin of majority support has always been his 'likability' - it's the chinese-finger-trap of political Dubya: attack him too hard, and many people viscerally object because they kinda like him, or just object to the "hatin'", or just don't like to see any president humilated; handle Bush with kid gloves, however, and he'll roll right over you. Kerry solved that riddle last night, was perfect: Dubya seems like a nice fella, but he's not up to the job (which has the added merit of being true - emphasis on the 'seems'). Some 'punches' aren't felt right away. This was a subtle but devastating one straight to the solar plexus.

Noted schweinhunt Karl Rove has claimed to have a few 'October surprise'-type things in reserve. But it is getting pretty late, and unless he's hiding something earth-shattering beneath his shiny little piglet hooves, it looks like we're going to get a new administration in Washington.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Debate Preview!

TKOs don't count
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

President Bush will distort and lie and be peeved and repeat the same crap over and over. Kerry will speak English and answer the questions in substantive but still slightly senatorial locutions. Pundits will blab mindlessly and self-importantly; some will 'dot their drawers' in silly-billy excitement. Passive-aggressive 'undecideds' will continue to secretly thrill at being, in a very small way, the center of attention for a change; and, rather than work (ie 'think') at figuring out how they ought to vote, will instead continue to sit mulishly and wait for something to 'happen' to make their minds up for them.

[UPDATE: Hey! I was right! Does that mean I'm now a 'pundit'?]

Courtesan in Chief

pic courtesy of Fitz
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

No real comment, just thought people would enjoy the pic, which was provided by the pic-master, a certian Fitley who has ALL the good graphics.

Most of the talk in the blogosphere today is about the latest example of crony capitalism (or 'courtesan capitalism') 'poking a nose' into our conciousness, making some of us in the Body Politic get - as Fat Bastard would say - 'all emotional': Sinclair Broadcasting's shameless politicking for their patrons in the White House. If you've missed the controversy somehow (perhaps you busy doing something more directly related to your own life), click on either the 'TPM' or 'Legal Fiction' link on the blogroll on the left for all the pertinent info and links.

By all means, this is a good time to interrupt our consumerist stream-of-semi-conciousness and get some boycott action (actual or threatened) going against companies who do national ad buys on the Sinclair chain (if you actually live in one of Sinclair's markets, make your voice heard by local advertizers). Ad revenues are down all across broadcast as it is, so they're mighty touchy about it. Unfortunately, our FCC is and has been a piece of shit for the last few years, so this is probably the only good way to fight back. Obviously, Sinclair is going for broke here. If there were justice, they would lose their licences after the election, although this is unlikely, even if Kerry wins. Broadcasters in America are granted use of the airwaves as 'public trustees' (that's what the licences actually say). HA.

[UPDATE Still haven't 'hit the links' about Sinclair Broadcasting? Here's one to get you started - it tells you which markets have Sinclair stations. Raise hell!]

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Dick's Favorite 'Republic' is a Book

Dick is at ease on the gyroscopic vehicle
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

In his new column, veteran Washington journalist Richard Reeves makes a good, common sense point about politicians (and other people) and character:

My view of political character is that an honest politician is one who only lies when he has to. In this case [Cheney's claim that he'd never before met Edwards], it was more than not true, it was obviously a deliberate and unnecessary lie. You do not forget meeting people who are after your job. It is not only politicians who lie in predictable situations. We all do, of course. Honesty is almost always a virtue but there are times where all of us to sin, perhaps when someone asks, How do I look?


Parsing Cheney in cold print is not the hilarious fun that tweezing Bush's transcript from last Thursday was. Bush is the theatre; Cheney is the brick wall at the back of the theatre behind the drapery and flats. You sometimes can't be absolutely positive that Bush knows he's lying about something (usually, but not always). Cheney, on the other hand, always knows precisely what his lies are, because they are eye-poppingly baroque - he weaves them expertly. Bush is the emotional con, Cheney, the intellectual con. Bush is a dork. Cheney is a prick. A sociopathic marriage made in heaven. One of Ifill's questions during the VP debate was about being 'a heartbeat away'; Cheney's performance that night reminded us that his reptillian character and personality - whether a heartbeat away or in overt power - is one of the most important reasons to vote out the grubby stub-figurehead at the top of the ticket.

Others in the 'sphere and in the press have done a good job unfolding Cheney's many lies and distortions (Kevin Drum is a good place to start), so I'll mention only a few more:

Concern about Iraq specifically focused on the fact that Saddam Hussein had been, for years, listed on the state sponsor of terror, that they he had established relationships with Abu Nidal, who operated out of Baghdad...

Yes, Abu Nidal. The Palestinian terrorist - silent since the early 90s - who was thrown out of Iraq in 1983 (so Saddam could get US support for his war with Iran) and shot dead by either himself or Iraqi authorities in 2002. This is one variation of Cheney's more professorial-sounding version of Bush's ''They' attacked us, Jim!'.

The effort that we've mounted with respect to Iraq focused specifically on the possibility that this was the most likely nexus between the terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.

Cheney: 'The effort we've mounted with respect to Iraq..' Bush: 'It's hard work!'

And get a load of the strange nubbin of honesty in that statement: '..the possibility that this was the most likely nexus..'

Of course, they focused on Iraq because they wanted to; they had a partially-baked Wilsonian plan to remake the Middle East. Bad idea? Not in theory, at least not necessarily. Funny how things go wrong when you are overly secretive and utterly insulated from everybody else. Good thing for Cheney he's not a high official in a democratic government...oh, wait.

(Of course most people know by now that the obvious 'nexus' between terrorists and WMD is Pakistan and Central Asia; not to mention Iran, which is not Iraq).

We've, of course, been through a difficult recession, and then the aftermath of 9/11, where we lost over a million jobs after that attack.

After the tornado, my car ran out of gas.

There's no better antidote to poverty than a good, well-paying job that allows somebody to take care of their own family.

Yeah, Cheney's right. We ought to get rid of the fat dole we have in this country. Cheney the revolutionist: making money is the antidote to poverty.

What he [Bush] said he wanted me to do was to sign on because of my experience to be a member of the team, to help him govern... And I think from the perspective of the nation, it's worked in our relationship, in this administration.

'From the perspective of the nation'? Oh, THAT!

When Dubya was governor of TX, he charmed and was mentored by another powerful, accomplished man named Bob Bullock. Bullock - a nominal Democrat - was the most powerful person in TX state politics for many years, most definitely including his years as Lt. Governor 'under' Bush. The TX Governorship is constitutionally very weak, so Bush did the PR/BS, and Bullock often wrote and always negotiated the passage of legislation.

The main difference with Cheney and Bush is that Cheney clearly chose himself, and maybe even chose Bush. Will to Power and all that. Why be actual president when you can have all the power AND a nice stalking horse to skulk behind?

I think it's worked in part because I made it clear that I don't have any further political aspirations myself. And I think that's been an advantage. I think it allows the president to know that my only agenda is his agenda.

Yes, there's only one agenda, alright.


Nihilists All

a return to modesty
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter. we rubberneck the demolition derby of electoral politics, the 'multi-pronged' reactionary project quietly oozes on. Eric Martin gives us an overview of probably the most nefarious part of the right wing War On Empiricism: the fight to impose 'correct thinking' on Academia. A must read.

(BTW, isn't it great that while we're supposed to be fighting for liberalism and rationality in the world, the same tough 'hawks' are fighting against them here at home?).


Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Residents of Mars Agree: Cheney Won

the leader screen
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

A more detailed look at the transcript will follow in the next few days, but just some general impressions about the VP debate for now.

All of these debates are about persuading non-base voters. Who persuaded more leaners or created more leaners? I'd guess that this was close to a tie, but the edge was Edwards'. Cheney is a very tough debater, especially since he has no compunction about lying extravagantly; his 'baffle 'em with yards and wads and gallons of bullshit' technique is very effective on the moment. But Edwards didn't yield much, and I think he capitalized on the opening Kerry created last week; if you were leaning against Bush coming in, you still are, probably more so. For the people who have doubts about Bush but still aren't sure about Kerry, who knows how they reacted to this debate? Could go either way. Net advantage Edwards.

On substance it was no contest at all (terribly naive of me to bring up actual substance; guess I'm just a sap!). The Bush Cheney record is one of patent failure. There are plenty of people in the blogosphere annotating Cheney's distortions and lies as we speak, so I won't go into them here. Edwards held his own and, I suspect, gained ground with people who think there is something fishy about Bush/Cheney. Edwards made a career taking on corporate bald-faced liars like Cheney. Would that the electorate was more like a jury!


Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Edwards Does Kick Ass

What piquant, excellent cultural theatre tonight! I can't wait to dig in.

Who's the Boss?

W interacts with the 'help'
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Known leftist agitator Will Saletan in Slate mockingly disposes of Bush's current stump-'global test'-canard in his most recent column. Actually, he pretty well disposes of Bush altogether, and not for the first time. Some people give Will crap, and I too have done, at times, but credit where it's due: he's been on to the con for a long time.

Proof, intelligence, spy photos. The pattern is obvious. The test isn't moral. It's factual..... [Bush is] not simply failing the test. He's refusing to take it.

Ouchy-ouch-ouch. Saletan strikes.

He defines credibility as agreement with himself. He reinterprets evidence of policy mistakes in postwar Iraq as evidence of success. In Thursday's debate, he dismissed unwelcome reports from that country as too offensive to heed.....Bush claims he has done all this to protect you. But that claim is precisely what's challenged by the evidence he conceals or disregards. ...And he expects you to applaud him for it, because he thinks you resent the French so much you'd rather have a president accountable to no one.

Why are conservative Democrats/moderate Republicans like Saletan getting so 'shrill'? Gee, you'd think the Bush Administration was anti-democratic! THAT couldn't be, though....

My little 'Debate Highlights' post, (below) was so easy to write (I left a lot of stuff out) that I'm sure I could write an entire book of W. Bush exegesis - it's like falling off a log! But, naturally, someone already has done that very well - two books, in fact. Mark Crispin Miller - author of 'The Bush Dyslexicon' - has a newer book called 'Cruel and Unusual'. I would highly recommend it, except that I get chest pains if I read more than a few pages at a time, so I haven't finished it. But I'm as loud a member of the Choir as I can manage, so I'm really missing out on only the chest pains.

Miller assembles many pertinent perfectly in-context Bush quotes. I present a few of them with no comment (other than emphasis) from either me or Miller:

Woodward, Bush At War

"I'm the commander. See, I don't need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

New Year's Eve 2002:

"You [a reporter] said we're headed into a war with Iraq. I don't know why you say that. I hope we're not headed to war with Iraq. I'm the person who gets to decide, not you."

The day before Inauguration Day 2001:

In 24 hours, I have the highest honor, and that's to become the Commander and Chief of the greatest nation in the world".

Interview in US News '02:

That's the great thing about democracy: occasionally there is a chance for the voters to express their belief or disbelief. I guess that chance will be coming down the road one of these days"


Monday, October 04, 2004


True North - Selected Debate Highlights

tightly wrapped
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.

Yes, it's hard. It's not soft, but hard. A president must be forever tumescent, must not DIS-EN-GORGE. That would send mixed messages, the wrong signal. Not to mention the wrong message and mixed signals. Our vital, precious bodily fluids are at stake. It's hard work to stay 'up'. But a president can't wilt.

Before we dive into the comedy, one quick note about Kerry's 'global test' statement of which the constitutionally desperate Bush campaign is trying to make so much. It was clearly the wrong thing to say, politically; the Kerry campaign, too, was making the RNC spot in their heads 30 seconds after Kerry said it. But it's obvious what Kerry meant: 'global test' as in comprehensive test, not 'global' as in 'the world'.

Anyhow... naturally, the debate is much funnier to watch than read, but there's a certain charm in seeing the words of our dear leader ('dear-leader-lite') frozen on the page. Let the strength and firmness begin:

[The following statement is not a cut and paste error, nor has anything been yanked out of context. This is a contiguous Bush statement]

I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They're not going to follow somebody who says, "This is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time."

I know how these people think. I deal with them all the time. I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently.

They're not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. They're not going to follow somebody whose core convictions keep changing because of politics in America.

What tha? Bush is doing a remix of himself here! It's phat (and firm). And, of course, since the US government is alienated from much of the rest of the world, you wonder what he means by 'I know how these people think'. Oh well, they are foreigners, so it's good to have a president who knows how 'these people' think. He seems like a worldly guy. And he can call 'em on the phone!

And I'm optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I'm optimistic we'll achieve -- I know we won't achieve if we send mixed signals. I know we're not going to achieve our objective if we send mixed signals to our troops, our friends, the Iraqi citizens.

You can 'be optimistic and realistic at the same time'. Yes you CAN be, but that's not to say you MUST be in any given situation. Also, we see here indication of a pattern. Note how he says, 'I'm optimistic we'll achieve - I know we won't achieve..' (hey! are we being optimistic or not?!). For all their posturing about strength and resolve and pro-action, Bush/Cheney '04 is itself sending a strangely negative, passive..well, mixed message: you, the voter, CAN'T vote for Kerry, because then the bad guys will get us! Our country is so vulnerable, our situation is so delicate and precarious that even saying the wrong thing - even thinking it - will cause us to be hit again. Yeeeesss, it's nice and sleek and rigidly, bulbously firm now, but, ai ai ai! don't touch it! DON'T TOUCH IT! DON'T TOUCH IT!........[Sigh]...oKAY, then. We don't want to have an 'accident' and lose our firmness, do we?

The thot plickens:

My opponent just said something amazing. He said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn't going to determine how we defend ourselves.

Osama bin Laden doesn't get to decide. The American people decide.

I decided the right action was in Iraq. My opponent calls it a mistake. It wasn't a mistake.

[then, later]

Again, I can't tell you how big a mistake I think that is, to have bilateral talks with North Korea. It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants.

Ah. We wouldn't want to do 'precisely what Kim Jong Il wants', would we? Clearly, US policy, then, should be 'precisely' the opposite of what Kim wants. In other words, it should be in diametric reaction to Kim. Sounds pretty 'proactive' to me, George. And of course, it's worked great so far.

As to the 'OBL doesn't get to decide' part, Of course it's logically incoherent, but this is still a powerful component of Bush's schtick - that America stays one step ahead of the terrorists by being aggressive. But at the same time, it's a fatally weak spot for him. If OBL or Kim Jong Il or anybody else is trying to 'psyche us out' ('It's precisely what Kim Jong Il wants'), you have to be one step ahead of them in THAT department, too, rather than simply talking/acting tough or refusing to talk. To be unaware that a mishandled invasion of Iraq could possibly abet al-Queda - to be generally unaware of the obvious dynamics in play in this war on militant Islamism - is to surrender much (to put it mildly) to the enemy. Ya see, Jim, I believe you can be not-a-fucking-dipshit and strong at the same time!.

And on it goes:

You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She's a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her son Bryan, they came to see me. Her husband PJ got killed. He'd been in Afghanistan, went to Iraq.

You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm's way.

No, it caused her loved one (her husband, and the father of Bryan) to be killed, not in 'harm's way'.

I told her after we prayed and teared up and laughed some that I thought her husband's sacrifice was noble and worthy. Because I understand the stakes of this war on terror. I understand that we must find Al Qaida wherever they hide.

We laughed! We cried! (well, I only 'teared up' 'cause I'm a strong leader). What a guy I am! See how I am? I gave..what's her name? Missy Johnson..some of my precious time. I'm compassionate yet strong.

KERRY: It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. ..........

LEHRER: Thirty seconds.

BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq.

We will? Wow, THAT's good to know. Don't let the world know, though. Bad signal. Bad message, if you will. Oh, and Novak? That's just a newspaper article. There are a lotta news articles, Jim.

Our commanders have got all the flexibility to do what is necessary to succeed.

..other than having enough troops to establish security practically anywhere in Iraq or even to do basic border monitoring. Gotcha. Good to know they have flexibility. Good to hear you're not one a' them 'micro-managers', except for Fallujah.

But what I won't do is change my core values because of politics or because of pressure.

Can anybody figure out what those 'core values' actually are? Looking at his total record, I can't for the life of me do it. What I get is, roughly: 'Freedom is good. Jesus is good. Firm. On the offensive. Trust me'. I hate like damn to bring him into the discussion, but...Slim Pickens.

And it is one of the things I've learned in the White House, is that there's enormous pressure on the president, and he cannot wilt under that pressure. Otherwise, the world won't be better off.

Wait a minute! mean you're the President?! By god you ARE the president! Great to hear what you've learned while you've been away, being president. Thanks for checkin' in with us. Must be a lot of pressure in that job, eh? Important to keep your pecker up in that kind of environment, huh? Yeeeah, boy.

I've got a good relation with Vladimir. And it's important that we do have a good relation, because that enables me to better comment to him, and to better to discuss with him, some of the decisions he makes. I found that, in this world, that it's important to establish good personal relationships with people so that when you have disagreements, you're able to disagree in a way that is effective.

Who decides? Vladimir and Ariel, or America?! er.... Of course Bush is right about Russia. Even (or especially) a bully knows that you don't fuck with somebody big. Too scary. Unpredictable.

[from Bush's closing statement]

The next four years we will continue to strengthen our homeland defenses. We will strengthen our intelligence-gathering services. We will reform our military. The military will be an all-volunteer army.

Oh, you mean there will be no draft? There's something creepy about a leader answering a question before it has quite been asked. So, that could be an actual lie (as opposed to simply over-promising).

We've done a lot of hard work together over the last three and a half years. We've been challenged, and we've risen to those challenges. We've climbed the mighty mountain. I see the valley below, and it's a valley of peace.

My Rod and my Staff shall comfort thee. The ol' tallywacker points straight, due, true north. Never fails.


Friday, October 01, 2004


The Con Cracks a Little

The Bush 43 Administration has, in large part, been about pushing envelopes. It is actually part of their political strength, I think; aside from the tactical advantage of the blitzkrieg, it also appeals to people's natural 'Fuck it! Let's just get on with it!' instincts. But, every strength can be a weakness, as Rovie knows all too well. One of Rove/Bush's 'tolerence experiments' is to test the limits of how close to exclusively you can rely on the 'automatic gravitas' you're afforded just because you are the president, sort of an 'I dare you' strategy. All or nothing. Bush's spinners and the press forge euphemisms like 'not the most articulate' and 'plain-speaking' to elide the fact that this is a guy who clearly, obviously, has no business being president. He hides in plain sight, sort of a converse 'Bullworth'. In these more formal occasions, Bush reminds us that - as he might say himself - what you see really is what you get; presidential trappings aside, Bush is exactly as he seems: peevish, ignorant, impatient, jive.

These days, you learn the RNC's talking points almost by osmosis! They certainly understand the 'multiple, reinforcing impressions' marketing technique. A big one is a variation on a theme: Bush was on the defensive last night because it was all about his record and not about Kerry's Senate record. Bush himself worked Kerry's Senate record into one of his responses. What they mean is that a Senate voting record is relatively easy to spin and distort, so they're pissed that they didn't get the openings from Lehrer they expected - the sort of opening to which they've become accustomed. Kerry's Senate voting record is actually pretty good, and not particularly doctrinaire. And of course, the point is: Kerry's not running for the Senate. They seem to want Kerry to run on his Senate votes, but complain about the fact that Bush has to run on his record as president. Let's play Twister! Sorry Charlie. (I wish I could add sound effects to this blog!)

Speaking of which, I was glad to hear Lehrer ask mostly substantive questions, with a minimum of 'perception as reality' cable news crap.

When I have time, I'm going to go over the transcript for Bush Gems (there were many), but two come to mind immediately:

[irritable voice] "I know how the world works!"

(once I regain my composure and dry my eyes, I'll type the other one.................hmmm, whew! OK)

[irritable, peevish voice] "I know that Osama bin-Laden attacked us! I know that!

...ahh, laughter is so good for the soul.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?