Sunday, August 29, 2004

Evidence

I've been punk'd

Here's the photo of me taken by the henna mugger lady. Note the smile on my face which says, "Hi, I'm a naive tourist in Marrakech. Please feel free to hit me up for some dirham." You can also see the fruits of her hurried labor in the larger version of the photo.

If the pic looks like it was taken by a Navy Seal, that's because the camera was accidentally set to "Nightshot," giving it that greenish night vision goggles look.

I guess I should count myself lucky the woman didn't run off with my camera, leaving me sitting on that stool with that silly smile on my face.

X Marks the Spot

Read this article in the International Herald Tribue while I was in Morocco about the efforts of George Ferguson of the Royal Institute of British Architects to create a building grade of "X." Buildings assigned a Grade X would be deemed ugly and worthy of destruction. This might fly in the face of other conspicuous efforts ('Ullo Prince Charlie) to preserve the nation's architecture, but actually its purpose would be not to highlight older, more elegant buildings for destruction, but the newer more utlilitarian buildings which resemble little more than immense concrete blocks.

Seems there's some validity to the idea to me, and, boy, do I have a candidate for an X here in Charlotte should the grading ever catch on from across the pond. The remarkably hideous salmon-colored effort depicted here, the Arlington. The building is broadly reviled--chiefly for its godawfully colored glass--and it's rather prominently placed across the Brookshire freeway from "uptown" Charlotte on South Boulevard, a primary Charlotte thoroughfare. Stories circulate about how the glass got there in the first place, the most common one being something along the lines of the incorrect color glass purposely being ordered by a contractor as an act of vengeance against the developer (or something like that), but I believe the stories are nothing more than urban legend unfotunately. The more likely scenario would be that a developer thought the color eye-catching.

In the 2001 article I link to above, Dan Morrill, consulting director for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, says, "It is an extremely insensitive thing [the developer Jim Gross] has done. It's very insensitive, and not only that, it's extremely unsophisticated. It really is an intrusion into the cityscape, there's no doubt about that."

My own thought: If they ever (god forbid) film a remake of Fight Club, I can think of a very useful way the Arlinton could be used to create a tremendous sense of realism near the end of the movie.

Also somewhat disliked here in Charlotte is a building I quite like, The Westin Charlotte. Sure, it's a bit like a giant razor blade set against the taller, more conservative banking buildings "uptown" (I keep putting quotes around that word because I find the term so pretentious. "Uptown" Charlotte is Charlotte's downtown; it just happens to have a higher elevation, hence the silly moniker), but I admire its clean sharp lines and its less conventional, more modern profile. Obviously, not all that is modern deserves a grade X.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Back from Morocco



Back from Morocco and really quite exhausted. It was a fascinating vacation, but by no means a particularly restful one. Will blog more about it later. Meanwhile, here's a pic of me at Djemaa El Fna in Marrakech early my first evening --before things really got rolling in the square and before The Attack of the Henna Ladies.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Marrakech Highlights: Attack of the Henna Ladies

I guess the highlights from my time in Marrakech would have to include getting hustled by the snake handlers and mugged by the henna ladies. Just when you think you've figured out their tricks, they come up with something new. In the case of the henna harangue, one woman handed me some photos of potential artwork to browse--knowing I was "just looking"--and another younger woman swooped in and began applying henna to my forearm before I could protest. Of course, I could've dropped the book right then and walked off, but, no, I got sucked in, and as she's applying the henna, the woman tells me it'll only stay for two weeks. All this took place in about 30 seconds, mind you. It was dark, too, so when I get into the light, I realize, she's run out of henna at one point, and continued in another, much darker colo--which is taking much longer to wear off. The lighter brown henna lies above my wrist and on two fingers, and the darker henna covers the length of my right thumb and next two fingers. Quite visible. I imagine this is the equivalent of walking around wearing a t-shirt that says "Mark" or "I've been punk'd" (in the parlance of our times). Oh, and also, I've seen good henna: she did a totally crap job. It was definitely a scam and I suppose the real henna artists (for lack of a better word) don't appreciate the hustlers undermining their overall integrity.

Anyway, it'll be fun explaining the blackened fingers on my right hand when I get back to the bank next Monday.

Honestly, I've gotten off easy, though, and the 15 odd dollars I forked over in total (to snakehandlers, henna ladies, et al) seems a small price to pay for the photos and accompanying stories. And considering starting wages here are about 50 cents an hour, all concerned did pretty well for themselves.

The eating I did in Marrakech was the best so far. For dinner I skipped the restaurants and ate very cheaply and very well at the stalls in the Djemaa El Fna--the large open area (square-ish) in Marrakech's massive medina that is the city's primary attraction. Apparently, some tourists avoid these stalls, thinking them unsanitary, but they cook everything right in front of you and it all seemed very fresh to me. The guys running the stalls are both very aggressive --which may scare some tourists off--but they're also very good-humored and creative in getting you to join in with their festivities. And since you simpy sit on a bench right in front of their very colorful array of foods, it all feels very convivial and it's easy to strike up a conversation with your fellow travelers. I had an engaging conversation about American politics and "Americanization" in general with a couple of German students.

Earlier the previous day at lunch I fell into conversation with some Irish/Spanish tourists and a Moroccan on vacation in Marrakech from Casa, who asked me "Why are Americans so stupid?" in reference to the upcoming elections. I guess another tourist might understandably take offense at this question and consider it anti-American, but since I tend to wonder the same (considering the adulation a completely unqualified president like Bush receives*) a great conversation ensued. Also, even if you do consider the sentiment anti-American, this didn't come from a slavering fundamentalist type, it came from a genuinely congenial every-day sort of guy, who clearly meant me personally no ill will, though he no idea of my political inclinations when he asked the question!

All told, if you ever go to Morocco, you *must* go to Marrakech and the Djemaa El Fna or your experience here simply won't be complete.

I'll add some photos later (likely of my henna job), though they may have to wait until I return to the States.

*The German girl I spoke with was astonished by the idea that when Bush became president he had never before left the country. She pointed out that she wouldn't quailfy for many jobs in Germany had she so little travel experience.

Finished 6:10 pm Morocco time

Friday, August 20, 2004

Marrakech Express

I'm in Marrakech right now, which I think is similar in size to Casa (as the locals call it), though perhaps a little smaller. I think Casa's about 6 million. Either way, both are huge. And did I mention it's HOT here, too? It's supposed to get up to 105 here in Marrakech tomorrow. Must have been nearly that hot today.

The train ride here was a riot--almost literally. Along with many others, I thought I might have to stand up in the aisle most of the way. As the train got rolling, a shouting match broke out when people in one of cabins refused to let an additional woman with her child enter. An elderly woman in that cabin began yelling, and children began crying, so I moved down and away from the fracas, stood outside another cabin for a good couple of hours. Eventually, an older woman inside smiled at me; I smiled back. Then she made people move around, put kids on their laps, so I could have a seat. Very nice of her.

It's only a very small sampling, of course, but the oldest woman in both cabins took charge of the situation both times, and I have to wonder if Morocco's a bit of a matriarchal society in the same way I found Korea to be when I lived there. Ostensibly, the men are in charge, of course, but the women know how to work the system. And good for them.

Next time I may have to get a first class (or "Express") ticket. Of course, my ticket from Casa to Marrakech was only about 8 or 9 bucks, so I can't really complain too much.

---

Finished 9:51pm Morocco time

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Morocco Blogging

Well, I made it safe and sound here in Morocco, and I'm having a blast here in Casablanca. The greatest difficulties I've had here so far are finding this place to use the internet and using this French keyboard. Seriously. The people here are incredibly nice. I've experienced absolutely zero anti-American sentiment.

I'm also taking notes of some of the unusual things I see. Here's a few things I've noticed so far:
  • Change into sandals as soon as possible here; otherwise, if you sit down outside at a cafe, someone will try to shine your shoes every few minutes - sometimes against your will. If you're wearing leather sandals, they'll try to shine those, too. Kids come by your table to sell cigarettes and tissues, too--an appropriate combination, I guess.
  • Immense variation: women in veils everwhere, yes, but also many in very "Western" attire. Much like the mix of old and new when I was in Korea.
  • First cafe I sat down in an American couple left their water untouched when they left (as did I just to be safe); a kid immediately swooped in and drank it in a single gulp.
  • I saw an elderly man selling magazines on a spot on the ground in the shade. They were very old, and it appeared that he was cleaning them all, wiping the dust from each page (not just the cover, but page by page)with a rag.
  • I actually seem to get noticed less here than in Korea - perhaps because there are many people with similar frames here (believe it or not), and/or they're more jaded towards foreigners.
  • When the locals do notice me, though, it seems they invariably glance down at my feet - perhaps because in their sandal-shod condition, they're so blindingly white. Or maybe since I'm wearing glasses and a hat, it helps to confirm my caucasian identity. (Har-har. As if that needed proving!)
  • A couple of decades after the whole Marrakech Express thing, there are still a lot of hippy dippy types here. Look like some of them never left.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Christopher Does Jucifer




Kudos to my brother Chris for being so enterprising. He heard one of his favorite bands, Jucifer, were coming to Greenville, SC, so he contacted them about creating the poster above to advertise their gig around town. They were appropriately impressed. Hope it leads to more work for him. You can contact him yourself to engage his services.

The handgun wasn't in the orginal photo; Chris's Photoshop skills run far ahead of mine!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Photoblogging



Got a Sony DSC-V1 Cybershot digital camera today. It's a 5 megapixel, 4X zoom with a Carl Zeiss lens. Should allow me to take pictures and blog them more often--like this screenshot of a palestinian boy from HBO's Death in Gaza.

That documentary focuses on the lives of children in the Gaza Strip. One of the filmmaker's James Miller was killed in the making. It's sad to see kids being fashioned towards violence by their very surroundings.

Maher on Kerry

Just heard Bill Maher explaining why criticism of Kerry's service in Vietnam could backfire:
I mean, no matter what John Kerry did in Vietnam. I mean, he could have been using his medals as roach clips-to have a pot party with Ho Chi Minh, it's still better than dodging the draft in Texas, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Put Me on a Letter



Me on a stamp. You can do it, too. Just don't try anything naughty.

(Via Boing Boing and everyone else.)

Massive in the Area

My fave band Massive Attack have updated their site. It features live, topical news feeds as the artwork, maknig a commentary similar to the effects used in their live gigs last year.

No, I didn't go to Manchester, England last year just to see these guys. OK, maybe *mainly* to see these guys. But I also wanted to see the city from which Joy Division and New Order arose--the backdrop for Michael Winterbottom's movie 24 Hour Party People about said bands and their manager, the incomparable Tony Wilson.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Dogma

Michael Bérubé points to this warning from the Vatican in order to highlight the RC allergy for feminism. I begin to read it, but run into trouble by the third word of their screed: "The Church," it begins, "expert in humanity." Eh?!

"Expert in humanity?" Is there a meaning I'm missing there? A connotation I'm not familiar with?

Can an institution really be considered "expert in humanity" in the 21st century when it hangs onto barbarous superstition for dear life? Contraception is wrong? Homosexuality is wrong? These aren't the enlightened beliefs reflective of a system remotely familiar with what I've come to know as humanity.

"Expert in fetish" maybe. "Ignorance" perhaps.

(My sincere apologies to the many progressive Catholics out there for my tone here; I know many do not latch upon the Pope's every utterance as some do.)

The release goes on to discuss fears of the dissolution of the family, and of homosexuality and heterosexuality becoming "virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality."

All of this without reference to a single study, without reference to a shred of evidence to support their fears (unless you count Biblical references aplenty), exhibiting the Vatican's typical disregard for anything remotely resembling science.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Grassy Arts



Boing Boing highlights this turf-carpeted call-box outside an Aussie grocery store. Turns out it's in my home town--the lovely town of Perth, Western Australia.

More photos here.

P.S. What you think about the newly-tweaked design? I was getting burnt out by all that green and blue. Links should be much easier to identify now, too. (Good usability - it's part of my job!) Though I did like the items on the left sans underlining.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Heartbroken in Minnesota

So sorry to hear that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty is "heartbroken" over Bruce Springsteen's joining other bands on a tour encouraging people to vote against Bush. "I really appreciate his music, but I wish he wouldn't interject his music with politics," said Pawlenty, who happens to be the co-chairman of Bush's re-election campaign in Minnesota.

Maybe Bruce should erase his long and storied career in which he's celebrated and stood up for the little guy, so Pawlenty won't suffer such emotional distress. Maybe he should just go ahead and recant his first amendment rights all together. Yeah.

I've got an idea, Senator. Exercise *your* first amendment right to criticize the Boss if you like--burn his CDs in your back yard if you like--but don't tell him what *to say*.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Good Listening

Fans of the band Lamb will enjoy this site, which includes some great live mp3s. Unfortunately, the band may have split up. If you're not familiar with their music, try "Gabriel." (Direct link to the mp3.)

Tricky's one-time accomplice Martina Topley-Bird has a new disk, Anything, out now, too. You can listen to music from her well-reviewed debut Quixotic. Unfortunately, it looks as if the latter is available only on import. Actually, as I look closer, it looks like Anything is the U.S. release of Quixotic, with three fewer tracks. I'm thoroughly confused. Maybe the label thought we Americans couldn't handle them literary words like "quixotic"?

Urban Photography by Matt Weber

New York 1988 by Matt Weber

Matt Weber's site Urban Photos features some exceptional photography. He's a New York City photographer, "born and bred on Manhattan's Upper West side."

Everything's black 'n' white and good 'n' gritty.

Unfit To Be Taken Seriously

Kevin Drum directs us to this disturbing information about Joe Corsi the co-author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry. He's a regular poster to FreeRepublic.com notoriously hate-filled online forums, and his own language there is redolent with hate. Here's a rather nasty little sampling of his invective:
On FreeRepublic.com, Corsi has, among other things, said that "ragheads" are "boy buggers"; referred to "John F*ing Kerry"; called Senator Hillary Clinton a "Fat Hog"; referred to her daughter as "Chubby Chelsie" Clinton; referred to Janet Reno as "Janet Rhino"; called Katie Couric "Little Katie Communist"; suggested Kerry was "practicing Judaism"; and expressed the wish that a small plane that had crashed into a building in Los Angeles had instead crashed into the set of NBC'S The West Wing, thereby killing actor Martin Sheen.
Hopefully, the media will give the author's background as much attention as they have his book.

Of course, you won't hear the Bush administration coming out to condemn the book. No, they'll be quiet about it, ostensibly staying above the fray while hoping the nasty little book does its work for them. White House spokesman Scott McClellan has already come out to say, "We have not and we will not question Sen. Kerry's service in Vietnam." But he noticeably refused to condemn the book explicitly. Yep, that's this administration's typical modus operandi.

At least, John McCain has come decency. He blasted the ad related to the book. And one of the vets, George Elliot, has now come forward to retract his earlier statement that Kerry didn't deserve his medals. He says he felt pressured to sign an affidavit to that effect at the time and now regrets it. Well, good for him for being honest, but he ought to ashamed of himself for being so willing to lie about Kerry to ruin his career.

These vets are welcome to vote against Kerry; they're just not welcome to fabricate reasons to vote against him. I hope more of their lies are exposed. And soon.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Well of Gladwell

Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell has archived his New Yorker articles on his Web site. Includes his recent article on SUVs and their lack of safety.

You've Won a Luxury SUV!

Well, you have if you're self-employed, drive the vehicle 50% of the time for work (who doesn't?!) and spend less than 100,000 grand (!) on anything qualifying as a truck over 6000 pounds.

Like me, you've probably heard of the "Hummer Tax Break," but I didn't know all the details.This is just wrong on so many levels that it's surreal that it's even going on. Now, apparently driving your vehicle 50% of the time doesn't technically include your daily drive to and from work, but that hasn't stopped all kinds of people from taking advantage of this sweet deal. (Check out the comments in Kevin's post to see how many of his commenters have actually done it!)

Ironically, as Kevin Drum points out, many California cities ban trucks over 6000 pounds in weight from some residential streets--an effort to preserve the streets and reduce costs for repair. So that Hummer Arnie's driving around may just be illegal at his address. I dunno.

Anyway, our hard-earned tax money is paying for free luxury SUVs for self-employed folks (doctors, lawyers, etc). Nice!

But give that money to the poor? No, we can't have that. They have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

I'd rather give a hundred thousand poor kids a free (and high quality!) college education than a hundred thousand laywers and doctors a free BMW X5.

Wouldn't educating all those kids help stimulate the economy, too, Mr. Bush?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Cartier-Bresson Dies at 95

(Hyères), France 1932 by cartier-Bresson

The New York Times >Henri Cartier-Bresson, arguably the father of photojournalism, died today just short of his 96th birthday. Cartier-Bresson famously spoke of the "decisive moment" in photography. His own photos were among both the most extraordinary and the most familiar of the 20th century.

He was a founder of the world's most presitigous photo agency Magnum Photo, where you can see an extensive gallery of his work.

Albert Camus by Cartier-Bresson

The Washington Post also features a fine gallery of his portraits.

Fashionable Mann

The New York Times warns us that Michael Mann maybe responsible for the way men dress these days, and Mann himself declares Miami no longer interesting.

Of course, he's done a lot since creating those sockless wonders, Tubbs and Crockett, on Miami Vice. Mann's more recent movies include Heat, The Insider, Ali and now, Collateral. I always even enjoy his stuff--though it's embarrassing to admit now that I was addicted to Miami Vice then. Hey, I was a mere stripling when the series ran.

Morocco & Islam

I'm excited about heading off to Morocco for 10 days for my vacation on August the 17th. As is typical of my planning, I'm likely going during the hottest part of the Moroccan year, and I plan to take the train into Marrakech where it should prove even hotter. Some folks may think me loony not only for going in the heat, but also for going to a Muslim country in the first place.

Well, no need to worry. I've checked with the State Department, read up on the history, and not only does the United States have a long-standing and friendly relationship with Morocco, but it continues to be solid to this day. As the State Department says, "Morocco also was among the first Arab and Islamic states to denounce the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and declare solidarity with the American people in the war against terrorism."

Here, Susan Kostrzewa writes about being in Essaouira, Morocco on 9/11 and how the locals mourned the loss of American lives that day.
For the last three days of our trip, Moroccans shared their sorrow with us. In the markets of Marrakech, merchants famous for their hard sell tactics stopped, sucked in air, and sighed. “This is terrible for the whole world, not just America,” one man said, shaking his head. His focus lost, he found difficulty wheeling and dealing with us, and left us alone to browse.

Another merchant valiantly attempted to describe his fear of anti-Muslim backlash in the little English he knew. “We like America,” he said, a hint of desperation in his voice. He backed away from us, holding his hands out as if in defense, “We want America to like us. If they not like us, “ he laughed nervously, “That’s not good. That’s not good.”
Yes, Morocco is an Islamic country--almost 100% of Moroccans are Muslim. But then there are over one billion Muslims in the world. Islam is the fastest growing, second-largest religion in the world. Most of these Muslims--you'd think one wouldn't need to say it--are not out to get us. That's something we Americans forget when we fret needlessly over the presence of a few Syrian musicians on a plane.

Unlike the Journal's Annie Jacobsen then, Kostrzewa writes that being in Morocco after 9/11 didn't phase her:
We never felt afraid of being in a Muslim country during these days of uncertainty. If anything, we felt uncomfortable to be the focus of attention of so many, whose compassionate expressions and kind words followed us wherever we went. In most cases, it was the somber silence, the locking of eyes, that spoke of the fear and sorrow we all felt, Moroccans and Americans alike.

I found it impossible to equate the devout, charitable ideology of Islam to the terrorist attacks. Throughout our stay in Morocco, we were impressed with the serenity, patience and kindness of the Moroccan people. Beggars in the street were gently handed alms, acknowledged with kind words. Children and the elderly were looked out for by strangers, even in the bustling souks of Fes and Marrakech.

...

When we needed them the most, Moroccans reached out to us. As our guide had said at our parting, friends are “two bodies, but one heart and one mind.” At a time when the world was so unstable, I found neither cultural, nor religious, nor political boundaries in Morocco, just compassion from one person to another.

As the merchants in Marrakech had said, we are all humans. And that should be enough to unite us.
I agree. So I'm trying to learn a little Arabic and French (a very little; languages don't come easy for me), and I'm off to Casablanca, Marrakech and wherever else strikes my fancy. I'm not going because it's a Muslim country. I'm not going to make any sort of point. I'm going . . . because I want to go.

(P.S., I for one don't think Annie Jacobsen's story has been thoroughly enough debunked; I'd encourage you to link to stories which explain the numerous fallacies behind her story, too. You'll note that I've not linked to it in it's original context. You can find it by searching for her name and "Terror in the Skies, Again?" If you blog her story, you may wish to link to the Snopes article or the Salon feature--written by a pilot--which both thoroughly debunk her account.)

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Barbie Battle



Mattel had hoped to sue photographer Thomas Forsythe for including Barbie dolls in his parodic photos. Instead, they'll be paying Forsythe and his lawyers $1.83 million for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Ouch. Learn your copyright law, folks.

You'd think this would've been solved back in the early 60s with Andy's soup cans. Campbell's were smarter than Mattel, then and now. They checked Warhol out then but left him alone, and more recently they put him on a can! Well, sort of. Smart cookies.

Latest Alert Data Is, Like, Really Old

I really want to trust that the alerts aren't being politicized, but this just makes things seem all the more Orwellian. However, I understand the information, some of which was two or three years old, was also supplemented with more recent material. Let's hope so.

But, when you've got Tom Ridge singing the praises of George W., even as he delivers a new alert, well, that seems simply unwise and unprofessional:
But we must understand that the kind of information available to us today is the result of the President’s leadership in the war against terror.
There's a time and a place for delivering such partisan cheerleading, but it's not when you're in the middle of elevating the threat level to each and every citizen and resident of the United States. Anyone in Ridge's position should be above that--Democrat or Republican. Trying to defend it is unconscionable.

Imagine if Alan Greenspan got up one day and said, "We're raising the interests rates again today. We must understand that we're doing this because of improvements in the economy directly related to the President’s leadership in the nation's economy." Of course, an improvement in the economy bodes well for the future while an elevated terror does not, but you can imagine the outcry. It's the same principle. Greenspan should abstain from political favoritism, and stick to the facts (and, as far as I know, he usually does).

Here, Ridge is inferring that he has the ability to warn us--to keep us safe--because of Bush's leadership. As if another President wouldn't do the same thing. It's his job as Commander in Chief!

Tom Ridge should either take a page from the Alan Greenspan book of statesmanship or change roles. Maybe see about an internship with Karl Rove.

Having said that, I don't necessarily attribute any sort of Machiavellian fiber to Ridge's statement. He usually seems a little more sober. Perhaps it's just political naïveté. Wishful thinking. Or blind allegiance.

Am I?


Which British Band Are You?

Question is, should I be surprised? Guess I'm just glad I wasn't Happy Mondays.

Monday, August 02, 2004

An Irrefutable Argument Against the War in Iraq?

Here's an argument against the war in Iraq, which seems irrefutable.

We can justify Afghanistan. When we first went in, I was afraid we were going to blow the hell out of everything; we handled it better than I’d thought. Some now argue that we had to go into Iraq to teach potential enemies of the United States a lesson. (Since the WMD argument seems to have fallen out of favor for some reason.) They argue that if we hadn't, for example, Iran wouldn't have cried uncle about their nukes program. I think they’re dead wrong.

I'm sure countries like Iran and North Korea noticed that we threw our weight around in Afghanistan, too. So, imagine if instead of going to Iraq, we'd sent more troops to Afghanistan to look for Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda and sent all the money to Afghanistan to really help rebuild it and to encourage democracy there--instead of sending the billions upon billions we're currently sending to Iraq.

Can anyone really argue that things wouldn't be better off in Afghanistan? Can anyone really argue that it's not at least *more likely* in that scenario that we'd've captured Bin Laden by now? Can anyone argue that even if we'd sent half the troops to Afghanistan that we sent to Iraq (and stayed out of Iraq) that Afghanistan wouldn't be a safer place for democracy now. Wouldn't it be likely that far fewer American/coalition lives would've been taken by now? Wouldn't we be more likely to have the will of the world behind us?

These thoughts just seem inarguable. So, why don't we hear them more often?

Iraq was a misguided distraction, pure and simple. Now that we're there, obviously, we can't afford to pull out. But Bush and company were wrong-headed in taking us there. If we wanted to create a showcase for democracy, why couldn't it be Afghanistan? I can't believe that people have really brought into the neo-conservative's smoke and mirrors that brought Iraq into the forefront after 9/11 and has left Afghanistan all but forgotten.

Look at your favorite newspaper or news site. Count the mentions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Far more mentions of Iraq, right? How did we let that happen?

Christopher Hitchens. Andrew Sullivan. The entire writing staff of the National Review. How do you respond?

For Now

Those two little words mean a lot. I just heard the song "For Now" on NPR from the Broadway musical "Avenue Q." The guys who wrote it must be of the dot-bomb generation, too:
For now we're healthy / For now we're employed / For now we're happy / If not overjoyed.
I'm alluding mainly to the "For now we're employed," of course.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Update: Sen. Zell Miller (R-GA)

This morning on Meet the Press, Tim Russert asks Miller what changed--you might recall that the alleged Democrat is speaking at the Republican convention.

Miller replied that "The Democratic party has changed."

Right, Zell. It's gotten more conservative since 9/11. We have two candidates running on the Democratic ticket who both voted for a pre-emptive war in Iraq.

What exactly about the Democratic Party has changed then? How has it moved further to the left? The truth is the Republican party has moved further to the right, following the "values" of the religious right. "Values"--yes, that's the word Miller is harping on about right now (on NBC). And he's now mentioning gay marriage and complaining that he can't imagine why the Democratic party wouldn't vote to support a constitutional amendment to "protect marriage."

Ah, so this is what it's all about then. Obviously, Miller is no progressive. He wants to follow the out-moded, repressive and increasingly indefensible "values," which his party is finally shrugging off. And, as usual it's the GOP that's hanging on to them for grim death. So that's where he's got to go. Into the arms of the Republican party.

So why doesn't he?

Senator Miller, please, please, let's just get it over and done with. Please, just come out of the closet and change your party affiliation. You'll feel better. We'll feel better. We'll all feel better.