B After The Fact

Saturday, March 20, 2004

I am not impressed by Kerry's response to the bombing in Spain, if I only knew what it was. The only place I found a mention of the response was in Sullivan's blog, where some of the more conservative readers pointed out that Kerry's condemnation of the bombings was "coded" in that he still looked at terrorism as an individual act, and not a state-sanctioned act.

I said this in my "Tuesday" post, but to take more time with it, if people think that Kerry will be inadequate to the task of fighting terrorists, Kerry will not be able to get to the domestic agenda. There are plenty of Democratic hawks who will vote Bush if they think Kerry is too soft. McCain's innoculation helps a lot, but Kerry has to find a position where it is clear that he will continue the war against terrorism, that it will be an American-led fight, but that it will simply be a different tone than the war Bush is waging.

How many voters feel the way I feel about these things? To sum up:

1. I am in favor of the war against Iraq. I hope we can stay the course.

2. I don't really care if the Europeans like the Americans or not. Our families all had very good reasons to leave Europe. Everytime a European politician opens his mouth, those reasons are simply reinforced. I think that Kerry is in a too-liberal bubble if he thinks that the American public as a whole will vote for him because people around the world don't like us.

3. As a general rule, it is ridiculous to assume that the United Nations can be entrusted in a long-term mission to spread democracy. Although, I guess, it is possible that the U.N., as an institution, can grow into it if they were asked to do it.

4. I believe in the vast right-wing conspiracy. As a matter of domestic policy, the Bushies were looking for a war, any war, as a vehicle to clamp down on what they saw as too much freedom at home. Like a lot of dictatorships in the Middle East, it is easy to say that (i) you are in favor of the rights of people far away, like the Palestinians or the Iraqis, and that (ii) their lack of freedom is causing such a grave crisis that you have no choice but to clamp down on freedom at home.

5. One piece of proof is that the PATRIOT Act was all typed up and ready to go minutes after September 11. Another piece of proof is the constant refusal of this Administration to take actions, even symbolic actions, that will engage the American public as a whole in the war-effort. They are looking to create a ruling class and a warrior class and a subject class.

6. And it is because of this systematic and unneccessary clamp-down of freedom at home that Bush has to go.

Brooks continues to drive me crazy. I liked him better when I knew he was writing for the Wall Street Journal, and being a conservative on Brooks and Shields on McNeill-Lehrer (or whatever they're calling it this year).

Actually, it isn't Brooks per se, it is the lack of active opposition to some of the things he says. It is, I guess, the Eric Alterman claim, What Liberal Media?

It is that Mark Shields is so much older than Brooks on the television screen, with that bad wig and those awful, awful glasses, and that he yields too easily.

And he's not alone.

I do not step back from my pro-war stance. I think, and if you read my early blog columns, or those of you who knew my position from before the blog, I have been pretty clear that Sadman was sitting on too much American oil, and he had to go. However, that is not the way the Bushies advertised the war. They advertised the war on WMDs --- a lie on par with all the great lies in history.

Now there are two lies being told. One, is that the war was waged to get rid of the evil dictator who was destroying his own people. Two, is that W said that all along.

I'll let one pass for now. It is two that sticks in my craw. I am sure that in a 30-second segment of some 90-minute somewhere some Bushie said that Sadman was a bad man to his own people, but it was never a main cause for the war. Having Bushies claim that it was always front and center is a lawyer's trick, and it kills me that Shields doesn't call Brooks on it. And it will be used all the way up and down the line on campaign ads, etc.

It also sticks in my craw that the New York Times wastes good op-ed space on David Brooks. This week they also gave Rummy some space. I won't take up my good space to link it.

I wrote this on Tuesday as a response to readingDavid Brooks in the Timesand from an optimistic pro-Kerry e-mail from a friend.

I think if the economy is the main issue, Kerry has a very good chance of winning, and Nader's effect will be negligible.

I think if the war is the main issue, Kerry has a very good chance of losing, and Nader's effect will be enormous. First, because Kerry is by temperament, not as anti-war as a lot of people think he is. Second, because if he is too liberal about the war, Kerry is going to lose a certain percent of mid-Western voters, and he can't afford to do that in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana. However, if Kerry is too conservative about the war, a certain number of Kerry votes in the Northwest (Oregon and Washington State), and maybe even in places like Iowa and Vermont and New Mexico, are going to wind up going to Nader, and could wind up throwing those perhaps Democrat states to Bush. And that will be your election. I

Both the New York Post and David Brooks in today's Times mentioned the ability of terrorist bombs to throw the election. Brooks characterized the decision to hold an election after the bombing as "crazy". Sorry to be paranoid, but those fellows are both taking their marching orders from Karl Rove. They have been asked to soften the ground.

If Kerry is ahead in October, and there is any sort of violent incident, no matter how slight, look for the Republicans to try to postpone the election until they feel climactic conditions are favorable. Look for them to say it is no big thing, even though we have had plenty of elections during wartime before. The reason why it will seem like no big thing is that we will have six months of conservative columnists lying to us, telling us its no big thing.

Monday, March 08, 2004

More about the Bush 9-11 Ads

Which I still haven't seen.

One thing that has been left unsaid is that the Bush ads, and Guiliani's endorsement of them (what else could he say) breaks the almost 3-years where reaction to the tragedy, at least here in the New York metropolitan area, was focused on the firefighters as the first-among-the-victims.

The notion of Bush, and now Guiliani, that it was a tragedy that hurt us all, is not, and after this incident, is probably still not, something a New Yorker would dare say out loud.

If Pataki or Schumer or Clinton, or even Guiliani, all of whom were elected officials, just like Bush, on 9-11, would run ads in New York that were offensive to any of the firefighter, they would have to remove the ads.

A couple of more quick hits on recent events. I'd link a headline or two, but they are everywhere.

1. Who should John Kerry's running mate be?

A no-brainer. Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State. She seems to be the key to winning the state!.

2. Will Ralph Nader draw enough votes away from John Kerry to throw the election to Bush?

Probably. Kerry can not (and probably does not want to) espouse a complete we will leave Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti tomorrow position. I think there are enough disappointed peaceniks who "want to send a message," and who will vote for Nader to bring the boys home.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Some comments on recent events. Headlines in all the papers:

1. More on gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act:

It is hard to know living in New York City what the sense of the thing is. And I have alluded to the fact on these pages that I did not know how I felt about gay marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act. However, and I may be late to this particular game, you have to realize that when the Vice President of the United States has an openly gay daughter, when Newt Gingrich has an openly gay sister

Then the game is already over.

People who are fighting gay marriage have already lost the hearts and minds battle. Now, world history is full of jihadists taking us backwards. The bloody history of the United States has, however, tended to be one of forward progress,

The Palmer Raids and Prohibition coupled with the woman's right to vote. J Edgar Hoover and McCarthyism coupled with the African Americans increase in rights. Richard Nixon coupled with the 18-year old's right to vote. And now John Ashcroft will lead this charge.

The long-term prospects tend to be favorable, although, not, I guess, if it is the blood of your family given up in sacrifice.

Slavery. Reconstruction. Genocide of the American Indian. Concentration Camps for Japanese-American citizens.

2. Bush runs tasteless ads on World Trade Center

I have not seen the ads, and I do not know if they are tasteless. I do know that if Bush feels it is impossible for him to win in New Jersey (as it is impossible for him to win in New York), why should he bother worrying about what people in New York and New Jersey think of his ads?

Friday, March 05, 2004

Couldn't have said it better myself. Heaven knows I've been trying.

William Saletan in today's Slate

How can Kerry persuade moderates to throw out Bush? By turning the president's message against him. Bush is steady and principled. ....

From foreign to economic to social policy, Bush's record is a lesson in the limits and perils of conviction. He's too confident to consult a map. He's too strong to heed warnings and too steady to turn the wheel when the road bends. He's too certain to admit error, even after plowing through ditches and telephone poles. He's too preoccupied with principle to understand that principle isn't enough. Watching the stars instead of the road, he has wrecked the budget and the war on terror. Now he's heading for the Constitution. It's time to pull him over and take away the keys.

Monday, March 01, 2004

But the type of thinking that drives me crazy, because its such a red meat argument made by people who should know better, is made in yesterday's New York Times by SURPRISE!Lisa Schiffrin, Dan Quayle's former speechwriter!

This is the seemingly innocuous comment that drives me crazy!

"What marriage most certainly is not is a benefits grab. It does not exist for the sake of providing health benefits or minimizing estate taxes."

If you read that against David Frum's list of questions (linked below), all financial in nature, you see what a load of garbage that is.

Marriage, as a institution of the state, is completely concerned with financial issues between the parties, as a means of establishing who is financially responsible for who. To the extent it is concerned with the love and affection of the parties, it is only concerned because love and affection enances pysychiatric stability, which in turn enhances financial stability.

Marriage as a way of self-actualizing love and affection is relatively new as an institution.

One of the problems that we will have going forward is how to uncouple marriage in the eyes of the state from marriage in the eyes of the church. They are linked, but not completely the same.

What worries me, as you can tell from the previous e-mails is this:

That people who call themselves liberals believe that marriage is for the emotional self-actualization of the parties. It is that, but not only that, and maybe not primarily that. It is also for the stability of institutions and the stability of children. Any argument about gay marriages that does not emphasize that it is better for children (or at the very worst, neutral for children) is going to fail.

That people who do not call themselves liberals seem to believe that unless the state interferes at the first sign of change, the entire world will come a-tumbling down. Only problem is, especially after these last two weeks, is that I don't think that people who don't call themselves liberals really know what they want.

I have to move on. I'll try to say this better later

But since Andrew Sullivan is gracious enough to hook into his antagonists, like David Frumat the National Review, I will too. And Frum makes a whole deal of fair points, no matter how you come out on it, on the legal/ Federalism issues raised by gay marriages.

I'll let Sullivan handle his own defense. However, I bring it up to cross into two other articles. One is .Bob Herbert's in today's New York Times, who notes, as Andrew Sullivan has, that "Full Faith and Credit" issues take a lot of time to wind through the system. Miscegnation laws invalidated mixed-race marriages in a lot of states for a lot of years. But Herbert undercuts his own argument by admitting that eventually the Supreme Court stepped in. Gays have more resources than African-Americans did. It would not take 100 years for gay rights marriages to come before the courts

I don't know how much writing time or psychic time I feel like spending on the Defense of Marriage amendment.

The most haunting thing I read, the left-wing slippery slope argument to the Rick Santorums who say that if homosexual marriage is made legal than there is nothing left to prevent making incest legal, is, of course a quote from Andrew Sullivan. It is from Wednesday or Thursday, but I have been thinking about it ever since.


Here's an email from a Republican lawyer who sees the religious right amendment as a device to do far more than just deny gay couples constitutional protection. The amendment is just the beginning of the religious right agenda:

"Now that opponents and proponents of gay marriage are all riled about the FMA its time to talk about the true impact of including a definition of marriage in the Constitution. The potential impact of inclusion of the FMA will effect every American straight or gay because the FMA is not about gay marriage, it is a dangerous Trojan Horse that could completely redefine the powers of the federal government. As an attorney who is researching this issue, let me explain to the best of my ability, why I haven’t been sleeping well since Tuesday.

"Under the Constitution of the United States there is no express right to privacy, rather this right to be free from excessive government interference in our personal lives has arisen from Supreme Court precedent that cites the lack of regulation of intimate relationships and the protections of the bill of rights as the basis for an inference of the right to privacy. The right to privacy, according the Supreme Court is found in the penumbras and emanations of these two factors. A shadow of a right, very delicate and now threatened.

"By including a provision regulating the most intimate of relationships into the Constitution, the traditional analysis that the court has used to limit government power will be fundamentally changed and the right to privacy, if it is not destroyed completely, will be severely curtailed. As a result, decisions like Roe v. Wade, (Abortion), Griswold v. Connecticut (Birth Control), Lawrence v. Texas (Private Sexual Acts), will all be fair game for re-analysis under this new jurisprudential regime as the Constitutional foundation for those decisions will have been altered. A brilliant strategy really, with one amendment the religious right could wipe out access to birth control, abortion, and even non-procreative sex (as Senator Santorum so eagerly wants to do).

"This debate isn’t only about federalism, it’s about the reversal of two hundred years of liberal democracy that respects individuals. So why isn’t anyone talking about this aspect of it?
With luck, this agenda will be revealed as this amendment is discussed and debated. The most important thing to remember is who is behind this amendment: Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer, Robert Bork, Rick Santorum. For them, gays are just the beginning, the soft targets before the real battle. Memo to straights: you're next."