Thursday, September 30, 2004

"The Enemy Attacked Us"

That's why we went into Iraq according to President Bush in tonight's debate.

Will someone tell the President of the United States of America that Iraq didn't attack us on 9/11?

Of course, Bush knows Bin Laden struck the United States. That statement just shows how much he's convinced (or been convinced by his advisors) of the greatest untruth to have settled into our national consciousness in recent memory: the idea that Iraq had anything todo with the war on terror--before we attacked it.

Whether he wins the election or not, Kerry is dismantling Bush in this debate. Bush just repeats himself over and over again, ignoring Kerry's reasonable explanations about so-called "mixed messages." Just says the same stuff. Some people like that "consistency" unfortunately.

Elephant in the Living Room

It's the evening of the first Presidential debates for this election and the subject Bush and Kerry will "debate" tonight are foreign policy and homeland security. How much of what's *really* going in Iraq right now does anyone think the President will want to talk about?

What's really going on? Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi emailed his friends the following from Baghdad:
Iraqis like to call this mess "the situation." When asked "how are things?" they reply: "the situation is very bad."

What they mean by situation is this: the Iraqi government doesn't control most Iraqi cities, there are several car bombs going off each day around the country killing and injuring scores of innocent people, the country's roads are becoming impassable and littered by hundreds of landmines and explosive devices aimed to kill American soldiers, there are assassinations, kidnappings and beheadings. The situation, basically, means a raging barbaric guerilla war. In four days, 110 people died and over 300 got injured in Baghdad alone. The numbers are so shocking that the ministry of health -- which was attempting an exercise of public transparency by releasing the numbers -- has now stopped disclosing them.

Insurgents now attack Americans 87 times a day.
You won't hear Bush or anyone is his administration talking about any of this.

And there are these stats I'd never seen before:
The cops are being murdered by the dozens every day--over 700 to date--and the insurgents are infiltrating their ranks. The problem is so serious that the U.S. military has allocated $6 million dollars to buy out 30,000 cops they just trained to get rid of them quietly.
I don't know where to start. Over 700 cops killed? We certainly never see those figure. If we add up the deaths of our troops, of our allies and if we include Iraqi police and military on our side, how many deaths would that be? (I'm not even counting Iraqi civilians and U.S. and foreign "contractors.") Does *anyone* know?

Why are we only concerned with our own bodycount? Of course, some people would like to see less focus on that number, too.

Sounds like things are out of control. Do you think you'll hear Mr. Bush say that tonight? No, it'll be, "Things are going well."

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Iraq as the Front - A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Early this morning, Andrew Sullivan says, "To put it bluntly, I don't believe Iraq is a 'diversion' from the war on terror; I believe it's the central front."

He's agreeing with Tony Blair, but I think he and Blair are dead wrong about that. Iraq *was* a diversion, but *now*, it's the front. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. We went there, so the terrorists came. If we'd stayed focused on Afghanistan, that would be the front. It's like living in the Surreal World to hear people say Iraq is "the central front" as if it had to be, when none of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 came from Iraq, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with it, etc--this is all heavily trodden territory and Sullivan should know better than to revisit it.

Why can't The Right be honest about Iraq? Why don't they just say, "No Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, you're right. And Iraq wasn't really a threat to the United States, no. But, dang, we didn't like Saddam and we shoulda finished the job back in the early 90s, so 9/11 just greased the way to that end. And we sure as hell wanted to scare the shit out of folks by creating a democracy smack-dab in the middle of the Middle East. That'll keep 'em in line!" At least that would've been an honest answer. And we could've had an honest debate about whether that were possible and, you know, shouldn't we finish putting things back together in Afghanistan first? And couldn't *that country* be an example of the good the United States can do in the world?

Sullivan quotes Blair:
"They are not provoked by our actions; but by our existence. They [the terrorists] are in Iraq for the very reason we should be. They have chosen this battleground because they know success for us in Iraq is not success for America or Britain or even Iraq itself but for the values and way of life that democracy represents."
Rubbish. In fact, I think this statement by Blair borders on intellectual dishonesty. No, Tony, they're there because we drew them there. They'd be in Afghanistan if we'd limited the war to there. Blair's being disingenuous. "They've chosen this battleground because they know success for us . . . is success ... for the values and way of life that democracy represents." That's just a more eloquent way of repeating Bush's asinine matra, "They hate our freedom." More eloquent, but it's still simplistic. They didn't choose the battleground in Iraq. We did.

And it's a massive oversimplification for Sullivan to say that "it's extremely hard to support Kerry," as if he's going to throw in the towel on the war on terror, just because he disagrees with the war in Iraq--as many of us do--and much more strongly than Kerry does I might add. We (most of us) who were against going to Iraq understand that the work has to be finished there now. We're not simpletons and our thoughts can't be reduced that easily.

I wish Sullivan wouldn't oversimplify things like that. I'd hate for him to turn into another Chris Hitchens--a man/writer I had much admired, who's now been reduced to a twitching, stimulus/response killer app for the Bush administration.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Name Your Surprise

You've probably heard tell of a so-called "October Surprise" Bush and co are supposedly cooking up in order to ensure his re-election to the Presidency. The most popular theory: Osama is caught right before the election; Bush wins by a landslide.

Well, the rumors are flying thick as flies these days, so president of the New Democracy Project Mark Green decided to hold a contest: Name the October Surprise. You simply hafta forward your ideas about what the Bush administration is going to surprise us with.

Here's my entry:
In a nationally-televised press conference, Howard Dean publicly endorses George W. Bush for President. He admits to the error of his ways and apologizes to the nation for doubting the wisdom of the current administration's foreign policy.

"It's clear to me now," he says, smiling and pointing emphatically with his thumb tucked over his fist. "Might makes right." Then he leads the crowd in cheers of "Four More Years. Four More Years" before ending his speech with a subdued and carefully modulated, "Aaaaaaarrrgh!"

Desperate Measures

I just got a letter from the Kerry campaign and the whole thing's in all caps. Someone oughta tell 'em that's a) annoying, b) a bad choice typographically, usability-wise, not to mention aesthetically and c) it stinks of desperation.

They must be thinking too many Dems are thinking "2008 maybe?" already.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Isn't it funny, how quaint and old-fashioned the term information superhighway sounds now?

"Cyberspace" and "World Wide Web," too. So 90's.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Andy Sullivan also directs us to this revolting piece by Chuck Colson wherein he equates the guards at Abu Ghraib with gay couples wishing to get married. He says allowing gay marriage targets us for terrorism. Hmm, might they not target us for interracial marriage, too, Chuck? Maybe we should get rid of that, too?

Of course, there are also those things Bin Laden has railed against explicitly, like U.S. troops being stationed in the Holy Land. Mr. Colson forgot to mention that in his piece though.

Basically, Colson parades his brand of neo-Puritanism before us, hoping we'll accept it now out of fear, if not pure belief.

To that, Chuck, I say, if we give up on gay marriage now, the terrorists have won!

Por Qué Che?

I've been interested enough in Che Guevara to want to learn more about him, but troubled by the idea of lionizing him. Slate's Paul Berman does a good job of articulating why. Che advocated violence. And a helluva lot of it.

I have a feeling a lot of the kids wearing Che t-shirts don't know that and that it's the cool design, the iconic image they're buying into, while knowing Che's become a symbol of the left.

But why can't we have heroes like Vaclav Havel instead? He lead a revolution from the left, too, you know. But it had the distinction of being a velvet one. Maybe I'll work up a Havel t-shirt. Havel apparel.

Viva la Velvet Revolution!

(Via Andy Sullivan, moderate/right/not right enough lately for some icon.)

Friday, September 24, 2004

Mezzanine Photoblog

Decided to create a new photoblog using Blogger. (Blogger guys, Picasa/Hello folks you rock. OK, Google, you filthy-rich SOBs, you rock.) My old one is still out there, but I was getting tired of Fotolog's limitations. I mean, you have to pay for the extras.

Can you imagine?

Remembering the Fallen Ones

This absorbing, but deeply saddening piece NYT writers Kevin Flynn and Jim Dwyer outlines the continuing story about those who jumped from the World Trade Center buildings before they collapsed. Little is known about who jumped, how many,etcetera, but the investigations continue.

You've probably read elsewhere accounts of family members (understandably) discounting the possibility that their loved one would have jumped, consideringit a sort of suicide. But given these conditions, who *wouldn't* jump?
Temperatures in pockets of the buildings rose to more than 1,000 degrees, sufficient to weaken steel, according to researchers. The first people jumped or fell from the upper floors of the north tower just minutes after the impact of American Airlines Flight 11. The heat reached people on the upper floors long before the flames. Some of those trapped reported that the floor itself had grown so hot they had to stand on their desks, according to a fire official.

"The heat was absolutely phenomenal," said Dr. Guylene Proulx, who studies human behavior in fires for the National Research Council of Canada. "If you have ever burned your finger, you know how much that hurts and how you pull away. In the trade center, it was such a hot fire. It was impossible to think you might survive. Why suffer a minute longer when it is so unbearable? It may have appeared to be the best thing to stop the pain, when the window is shattered and the opening is there."
Louis Garcia, New York City's chief fire marshal, has it right:
This should not be really thought of as a choice. If you put people at a window and introduce that kind of heat, there's a good chance most people would feel compelled to jump.

On the subject, if you haven't read Tom Junod's article "The Falling Man" from the September, 2003 issue of Esquire, you really must. It's the most extraordinary piece of post-9/11 literature I've read so far. The photo above is the one described in the article. Junod ends his article with this:
The picture is his cenotaph, and like the monuments dedicated to the memory of unknown soldiers everywhere, it asks that we look at it, and make one simple acknowledgment.

That we have known who the Falling Man is all along.

Geisha Photo Essay

Interesting photo essay about a geisha or "geiko" (the local term in Kyoto) named Kimina.

An excerpt:
Most of the clients tell their families about us. I have sometimes even met the entire family.
I think that their wives send their husbands because they know what is going on - some of them have been to our parties so they know it's kind of safe.

They know he's not going to have any relationship with us.

O'Reilly Vs. Gross: Round II

Couple of days ago, Bill O'Reilly had another showdown with Terry Gross. Found this particular part of their exchange particularly amusing:
GROSS: The point, Bill, is that I think the interview was very fair. The ombudsman criticized it. That's fine. That's the ombudsman's job; to stand back and pass judgment on how things were done. He's an independent voice.
O'REILLY: Right.
GROSS: Does Fox News have an ombudsman?
O'REILLY: Yes. We have an ombudsman some place, I think.
GROSS: I don't think so.
O'REILLY: He's in the closet.
GROSS: Give me a call when you find him.
Note how O'Reilly joked/backpeddled about the presence of an ombudsman. Maybe because he was afraid of getting busted when it turned out Fox didn't have one? I assume they don't. 'Cos, hey, when you're "fair and balanced" by default, who needs an ombudsman. Right?

Related: Here, Slate's Jack Shafer advises how to handle O'Reilly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


From time to time I stumble across Vagrantly, the exceptional photoblog by Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian living in Toronto. He also has a blog.

I think he's somehow associated with those lads (and ladettes) over at Boing Boing.

Cave on Cash

Yes, it's all Nick Cave all the time. Here's a wonderful piece by Cave on Johnny Cash at the time of the Man in Black's passing.
I lost my innocence with Johnny Cash. I used to watch the Johnny Cash Show on television in Wangaratta when I was about 9 or 10 years old. At that stage I had really no idea about rock'n'roll. I watched him and from that point I saw that music could be an evil thing, a beautiful, evil thing.

For me it was very much the way he began the show. He'd have his back to you in silhouette, dressed all in black, and he'd swing around and say "Hi, I'm Johnny Cash". There was something that struck me about him, and about the way my parents shifted around uncomfortably.

Usability Snoozability

Jakob Nielsen applies usability to Kerry and Bush's campaign newsletters. Both fail. Pretty miserably.

Both fail equally and most miserably at "Differentiating newsletter from junk mail"--a 33% score. I'm not surprised. I subscribe to the newsletter from, er, one of these candidates (guess which one - hah!), and a) it comes too often, and b) [which is strongly related to a)] my eyes glaze over now every time I see it. Or most times anyway.

Of course, in typical Nielsen fashion, he ends his Alertbox, a newsletter I usually pay some attention to (but then it's my job), with a grandiose claim:
In 1996, I wrote a review for The New York Times on the campaign websites for Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. I concluded that the two sites scored about even in usability, and I provided several recommendations for improving each site. Two weeks after the article ran, Clinton's site had been updated to incorporate all of my recommendations. In contrast, Dole's site stayed the same throughout the campaign. We all know who won the 1996 election, so maybe this example will motivate the campaigns to pay closer attention to usability this time around.
That article on the Clinton/Dole sites is pretty interesting, too, and it links to both sites, only one of which is still up (Dole's). It looks so 1996.

What If Geraldo Made a War Movie?

Just heard about this pseudo-documentary, September Tapes on NPR. Apparently, it's controversial because, based on the trailer, some think it's a real documentary. Based on the trailer, I'd say it's a dull rip-off of The Blair Witch Tapes set in Afghanistan with a movie star imitating a journalist. Based on everything else I've found about it, Chris Vognar got it right in The Dallas Morning News: "war porn".

Who Said That?

When President Bush proclaims, as he regularly does, that "freedom is on the march," he cannot be thinking of Russia. Across its 11 time zones, freedom is in retreat, again.
Would you believe that's, er, George Will? And in the context of Iraq. And Fallujah. And the supposed January elections. Ouch.

If Bush is re-elected at this point, I think even some of his supporters may be surprised. If he's elected, ironically, it may be because he's Not Kerry. Which is sad really, that'd we'd vote for someone just because he's stubbornly consistent - despite whatever reality he's presented with.

Thanks for being honest Mr. Will. That's more than we get from this administration.

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Money, It's a Crime

This NYT graphic or "Op-Chart" shows just one way the 144.4 billion spent in Iraq (as of August 7th, 2004) could've been used to increase our national security by, amongst other things, securing rou ports (7.5 billion), paying 100,000 police officers (7 billion), securing weapons-grade nuclear material (93.5 billion), and rebuilding Afghanistan (8.6 billion). Afghaniwho?

Friday, September 17, 2004

National Nick Cave Awareness Month Continues!

Great quote from Nick in this recent Independent interview with him about why he works out of an office instead of at home:
I write here because I don't want to do it at home. I don't think my family should be subjected to the creative process which is undignified and shouldn't be seen by anyone. It's kind of like closing the door when you use the toilet.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Fables of the Reconstruction

Two articles today remind us that all this talk about memoes, military services, and Vietnam are clouding the real issues: It's Iraq stupid! And most particularly what we've not been hearing about Iraq that we should've been.

In this sobering New York Times piece, we learn that waaaay back in July, Bush received a much more important memo than the ones Dan Rather's been blathering on about. This classified National Intelligence Estimate from the CIA detailed just how badly things are going in Iraq:
The estimate outlines three possibilities for Iraq through the end of 2005, with the worst case being developments that could lead to civil war, the officials said. The most favorable outcome described is an Iraq whose stability would remain tenuous in political, economic and security terms.
Huh. This is what Bush has been telling us for the last few months. Not what he's told us at the Republican National Convention. Not what he's saying in his stump speech.

People talk about Bush and company lying about WMD in Iraq. Well, I'm willing to believe they could have been mistaken--mistaken in the same way Dan Rather was about those memoes--mistaken because they desperately wanted it to be so, but mistaken nonetheless. But on this subject, the subject of success in Iraq, well, looks like they've been lying to us.

It's important to realize that this briefing wasn't written this week. As the NYT's Douglas Jehl notes, the briefings "pessimistic conclusions were reached even before the recent worsening of the security situation in Iraq, which has included a sharp increase in attacks on American troops and in deaths of Iraqi civilians as well as resistance fighters."

Joe Biden's assessment was gloomy:
The president has frequently described Iraq as, quote, "the central front of the war on terror." Well by that definition, success in Iraq is a key standard by which to measure the war on terror. And by that measure, I think the war on terror is in trouble.
Then let's click over to Sid Blumenthal's piece in The Guardian, entitled "Far graver than Vietnam," wherein he claims that many of our leading military strategists and retired generals believe the administration's exercise in Iraq is already a failure.

Some select quotes:

Retired general William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency:
Bush hasn't found the WMD. Al-Qaida, it's worse, he's lost on that front. That he's going to achieve a democracy there? That goal is lost, too. It's lost. ... Right now, the course we're on, we're achieving Bin Laden's ends. ...

This is far graver than Vietnam. There wasn't as much at stake strategically, though in both cases we mindlessly went ahead with the war that was not constructive for US aims. But now we're in a region far more volatile, and we're in much worse shape with our allies.
Jeffrey Record, professor of strategy at the Air War College:
I see no ray of light on the horizon at all. The worst case has become true. There's no analogy whatsoever between the situation in Iraq and the advantages we had after the second world war in Germany and Japan."
Is it possible Blumenthal's been selective in quoting the experts he has? Of course. But the quotes (and there are many more in his article) seem to reflect what's showing up in that CIA report, too.

Elections in Iraq come January? Riiiight.

Minister Colic: Georgia Welcomes You!

This Serbian education minister should move to Georgia. I'm sure her desire to give Old Testament creationism equal time with evolution would really be appreciated there.

I can't resist spelling out the obvious: The Serbian government was embarrassed by this lady. Georgia's government would celebrate her. In fact, she seems to have a soul sister in the form of Georgia's State Superindendent of Schools Kathy Cox.

And we think we're so sofistikated over here.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

If There Is No God

If there is no God,
Not everything is permitted to man.
He is still his brother's keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother,
By saying that there is no God.

-Czeslaw Milosz (Translated from the Polish by Milosz and Robert Hass)

(from The New Yorker, August 30, 2004)

Morocco Pics

I've been posting some of the digital photos I took on my Morocco trip to my fotolog. Before my IBM laptop died I was working on a rather extensive photo essay. I hope to finish that eventually . . . on my brand new Vaio.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

60 Minutes Fiasco

This is somewhat of first: I'm beginning to agree with Brent Bozell:
The CBS story is a hoax and a fraud, and a cheap and sloppy one at that. It boggles the mind that Dan Rather and CBS continue to defend it.
Increasingly, it appears he's right.

Things are only looking worse over at CBS around these memos, and--unless Dan pulls a rabbit out of a hat--someone's bound to get the axe. Maybe even Dan himself?

I've been disappointed with several things CBS has done over the past year or so anyway. What exactly is going on over there? It's like the whole network's having a nervous breakdown.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.

- Bertolt Brecht

Sit, doggie. Good doggie.

Found this cartoon on my hard drive. Alas, my laptop's screen died, so I'm deleting/burning off a buncha stuff and using it as a server; a brand new Vaio is on the way. Anyway, seemed as appropriate a time as any to post this increasingly accurate depiction of the President and the fourth estate.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

A Time to Dance, a Time to Mourn

In memory of 9/11, some more lyrics from Nick Cave, this time, the first verse and chorus from "The Weeping Song":
Go son, go down to the water
And see the women weeping there
Then go up into the mountains
The men, they are weeping too

Father, why are all the women weeping?
They are weeping for their men
Then why are all the men there weeping?
They are weeping back at them

This is a weeping song
A song in which to weep
While all the men and women sleep
This is a weeping song
But I won't be weeping long


This morning I happened to catch the last 10 minutes of Through a Child's Eyes: September 11th, 2001 on HBO.

The program featured young children of various backgrounds, races and religions, some of whom had lost a parent on 9/11, and many of them (in the few minutes I saw) spoke of their fears.

Watching the show, I was overcome with how unspeakably beautiful and fragile these children wre. Their simple, unaffected wisdom sometimes surprised and always encouraged.

A young black girl told us what to do when we're scared. "Relax," she advised, then "breathe in, breathe out." And a tiny Indian girl said, "When you're afraid, think of butterflies, rainbows, anything."

Most poignant, a young girl who compared the lump of her grief for her father to a piece of clay, which could be flattened over time, so that it would appear smaller, but it would always be there.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Gov't We Deserve?

I was lucky enough to spend a month in Prague a couple of years ago and to study Czech culture at Charles University there. I was reviewing some notes I took there tonight and I came across this quote I jotted down (I think word for word) from Eda Kriseova, who spoke on "Literature and Nationalism" and who is a friend and biographer of the Czech president and writer Vaclav Havel.

I had long admired Havel as that rare modern politician who valued the life of the mind (in complete contradistinction to our own current president, need I point out). I believe it was in the context of how Havel's popularity had of late actually begun to wane in the Czech Republic that Kriseova said the following, which I think I quoted as closely as possible in my notes:
Havel is "too moral" for the ordinary person. They prefer the lying and stealing pragmatic bureaucrat since they make them feel comfortable with their immorality.
Is it the same here only worse?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Regnery Publishing Heir a Hardcore Racist to Boot

Here's something I read in the comments about The Swift Boat Book on Amazon that turns out (shock!) to be true. I definitely haven't heard the mainstream press report this: William Regnery II, heir to the Regnery publishing fortune--Regnery Publishing is responsible for The Swift Boat book (AKA Unfit for Command)--is trying to start a whites-only dating service. He's also the publisher of the charming nationalist rag, The Occidental Quarterly.

Also from Wikipedia, we learn the following:
The America First movement, funded by William Regnery [the II's daddy], among others, took a pro-German view of the world during the 1930s, and fought to keep America neutral after Britain entered the war in 1939.
In addition to The Swift Boat Book (can you tell I like that title better) Regnery Publishing also publishes books by Anne Coulter, Dennis Hastert, and G. Gordon Liddy. Boy, wouldn't *you* be proud to have your book cranked out by a publishing house founded by an infamous white supremacist? Apparently, other conservatives luminaries like Rush Limbaugh, Ollie North and Charlie Daniels have books in the works with Regnery Publishing.

Appears I was wrong[ish], though: the mainstream press is (sort of) reporting this. Newsweek's writer Andrew Murr, however, doesn't point out Regnery's connection to . . . The Swift Boat Book.

What *exactly* is the nature of that connection? It's hard to tell. The publisher's site isn't at all helpful. But a quick search establishes he's certainly an heir to the Regnery fortune and "a prime mover and shaker in white nationalism publishing." Regnery Publishing, no doubt, would prefer not to be lumped with that prestigious milieu these days.

Perhaps that explains the dearth of information about the company's history and its organizational structure on their site. Try finding the name of *anybody* associated with the company on their site. I could only find one, Marji Ross, Regnery's President and Publisher.

Now, that could just be poor information design. Or perhaps there's some history and a name or two Regnery doesn't want to display too prominently.

The Great Cheney Crack Up

Clearly, Cheney's been hitting the crack again.

What other possible reason could there be for his telling supporters that if they didn't vote for Bush in November that they'd be encouraging another terrorist attack:
Cheney told Republican supporters at a town hall meeting in Des Moines that they needed to make "the right choice" in the November 2 election.

"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again -- that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.
Newsflash to Dick: if you want to think in that superstitious manner, 9/11 happened under your administration's watch, so maybe the safest thing to do would be to kick you and George out.

What nonsense. And what an immoral and transparent scare tactic.

Apparently, Michael Bérubé is right:
Real American patriots know that dissent is possible only in America, and therefore unnecessary.
Again, Mr. Orwell, over to you.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Saint Nick

Bought the new collection of Nick Cave videos. Videos? You say. Nick Cave has videos? Well, yes.

Directed by Jonathan Glazer (Massive Attack and Radiohead videos, the movie Sexy Beast), the simple yet stunning black-and-white video for "Into My Arms" really gripped me.

The lyrics may be the first in rock 'n' roll history to use the description "interventionist God," and, yeah, that sounds a bit clunky in the opening line, but hang in there for duration. He sings these softly in his characteristic growl over simple piano:

Into My Arms

I don't believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do
But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him
Not to intervene when it came to you
Not to touch a hair on your head
To leave you as you are
And if He felt He had to direct you
Then direct you into my arms

Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms, O Lord
Into my arms

And I don't believe in the existence of angels
But looking at you I wonder if that's true
But if I did I would summon them together
And ask them to watch over you
To each burn a candle for you
To make bright and clear your path
And to walk, like Christ, in grace and love
And guide you into my arms


And I believe in Love
And I know that you do too
And I believe in some kind of path
That we can walk down, me and you
So keep your candles burning
And make her journey bright and pure
That she will keep returning
Always and evermore



Nick may also be the only musician to write MTV after being nominated for an award to say, thanks but no thanks. He's currently on tour.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Bérubé on the Boobs

Looks like Michael Bérubé won himself a passel of new fans with his satirical (and often misunderstood) coverage of the RNC this past week.

His description of Zell Miller (R-GA) was pricless: Zealous Zell was "angrier than a Georgia chicken in a bread pan without any dough!"

Good on yah, Michael.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Be Afraid. Be Very, Very Afraid

If you'll allow a little belated post-convention analysis, that was the outstanding theme of the 2004 Republican National Convention: "Be Very Afraid." Even Andrew Sullivan had to admit "some" of the proceedings were a little Orwellian:
When your convention pushes so many different messages, and is united with screaming chants of "U.S.A.", and built around what was becoming almost a cult of the Great Leader, skeptical conservatives have reason to raise an eyebrow or two.
Well, since the entire convention swiveled on speeches geared to inspire fear and hate, I'd say more than "some" of the proceedings waxed Orwellian.

What are we supposed to be afraid of?

1. We should fear that if John Kerry wins, we'll retreat into our shells and pretty much let the terrorists have their way with the United States and our freedoms for the next four years. He'll take a holiday from fighting terror. A number (most?) of the speakers touched on this, but Zell Miller (R-GA) essentially howled on about it. Never mind the fact that Kerry has said repeatedly that he'll continue to fight terrorism wherever it appears. Never mind that at the DNC John Edwards summed up his position on terrorists with a sentence that's remarkably difficult to misinterpret: "We will destroy you." We should similarly be afraid that Kerry's some sort of lily-livered peacenik, who'll be overly "sensitive" towards terrorists (Cheney's no doubt intentional mischaracterization of what Kerry actually said), despite the fact that he's the only candidate who actually served overseas (president or vice president) and the only candidate who made no attempt to avoid service in the first place. we're also supposed to be grateful--and this was drummed in again and again and again--that George Bush was president when the terrorists attacked. we're supposed to fear that if a Democrat were president, he would've decided the best reaction was to stay home and hope it didn't happen again.

2. We should fear the imminent demise of the family should gays be allowed to marry. Of course, I doubt a single speaker used the words "gay" or "homosexual," which is always telling, isn't it, that they can't even bring themselves to speak explicitly about the group they're discriminating against. No doubt, in some dark corner of their brain, they realize that it sounds a lot more like hate and much less like family values, when you mention the group you're bashing by name. So the mantra is repeated that if radical judges have their way, "traditional" marriage will be threatened ("gay marriage" again not mentioned--only tacit in its appearance) and good clean society as we know it will (with its 50+% divorce rate) will slip into ugly sinful decadence. It'll be the begiing of the end. Our fall of Rome. This argument is raised again and again--without any supporting evidence and despite all scientific, sociological and commonsensical arguments to the contrary. The truth is we live in a time when people are contemptuous of reason, science, and modernity and slavishly devoted to superstitions, which cannot be supported. And the GOP thrives by nourishing fear in the hearts of those people who desperately clinging to their superstitions.

Well, there are other things we're supposed to fear, too, (John Kerry will raise taxes; the rich won't get to keep their tax break!) but those are the two main things that were hammered on during the convention--and, to be fair, the Repubs devoted 90% of their fear-monguering to making the American public think John Kerry would send out guilded invitations to the terrorists inviting them come do some more damage on American soil--Bush even stooping so low as to refer to the crisis unfolding in Russia to scare us folks, despite the fact that little was even known about who was doing it and why at the time.

Arguably, though, the invasion of Iraq was a guilded invitation for young radicals around the world to rise up, organize themselves and get busy doing damage to the United States and its allies: Little boy George whacking the bees nest with a stick.

Unfortunately, we live in times when it's sometimes difficult not to be afraid. We've got to live our lives. And hopefully, we'll still have time for love and beauty. But if George Bush is re-elected, unfortunately, we'll only have more reason to afraid. If we continue on for another four years, taking a bsaeball bat to the world, disdaining subtlety, nuance and, yes, Dick, sensitivity in battling terror we'll only further undermine this great country's position in the world. We only further increase the likelihood of attacks. And my dear friends that goes a lot further towards bringing this country to its knees than the marriage of any two people who just want to create more love in the world, regardless of what their respective genders happen to be.

So George Orwell must be beating against the walls of his grave. Our country has become a more vicious presence in the world. Like a dog kicked in the belly, we lash out at the ankles of passersby by--whether they kicked us or not. And to justify our method of violence, our leaders enable a culture of fear. Not by reasoning with us. But by repeating words which have no connection to reality. Over and over again.

Bush Flick

Thanks to Boing Boing for highlighting this movie screened before Bush's speech at the RNC. Somehow, the Daily Show managed to get a copy before it even aired at the convention.

(6.2MB Quicktime Download)

Keeping up with the times, the Daily Show's ever-ruminative Ed Helms also kept a blog of the RNC proceedings. He congratulated Zell Miller (R-GA) on "the most awesome speech of all time," explaining that he "ran up to him and told him how much his bile and vitriol inspired me to be better at hating stuff."

The Republican Party. Touching one life at time.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Zell Miller R-GA Update

The usually mild-mannered Kevin Drum has just two words for Zell Miller.

I feel your pain, Kevin. I feel your pain. I guess, to be humanistic about Zell, the man's clearly gone barking mad. In a post-convention speech interview, zealous Zell even pined for an age when he could have challenged host Chris Matthews to a duel.

New Face for the GOP

(Via American Prospect)

GOP in NYC: Stability of the Universe at Stake

The Daily Show's irrepressible Stephen Colbert on the Republican Convention:

"Jon, to call this convention a little manipulative is like calling Marcel Marceau a little quiet."

Where to begin with the GOP, huh? Ah, yes, the Republicans are holding their convention this year near Ground Zero, shortly before the 9/11 anniversary in the one American city they'd usually most want to avoid like the plague because of its huge Democratic constituency. (I'm a little surprised the whole metropolitan NYC area hasn't disappear in a sudden cosmic burst at the utter irony, positive and negative forces effectively canceling each other out.)

Then you could talk about presenters like Arnie and Guliani who hardly reflect the party's swerve to the hard right. Though Guliani seems determined to wander off in that direction himself lately. (2008 ain't that far away is it, Rudy?)

I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know, so I'll quit there. Really just wanted to throw up that Colbert quote. He's a force unto himself that Colbert. I can see him having his own show.

(Via Amy Sullivan on Atlantic Monthly)