Chris Bowers outlines his personal liberal beliefs, in terms of the various kinds of initiative it supports and encourages, and then sums up:
Liberalism is not about a nanny state mischaracterization, a do-gooder strawman, or pandering, mythical "elites." It is about releasing American initiative, the initiative of the small business owner, the initiative of the union member. It is about the initiative of nurses and doctors, journalists and bloggers, political organizers and political demonstrators, teachers and students, firemen and policemen, officers and the enlisted, outdoorsmen and athletes, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, writers and painters, musicians and filmmakers, priests and nuns, ministers and rabbis, imams and spiritual leaders of all faiths. We have all made America through our initiative, not through our sloth, through our convictions, not through our apathy, through our actions, not through our dogma, and the purpose of government must at all times be to reward this initiative rather than to crush it, and to widen, rather than close, the doorways through which our own latent talent can allow us to pass.
A friend sent me this via e-mail. It turns out to be by Joe Blundo, columnist for the Columbus Dispatch, published here.
Canada Busy Returning Bush Dodgers
The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration.
The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray, and agree with Bill O'Reilly.
Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night.
"I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota.
The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry.
"He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"
In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields.
"Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."
Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves.
"A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."
When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives.
Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.
In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs.
After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers on Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney hits to prove they were alive in the '50s.
"If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.
Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies.
"I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"
I want to admit here, in this semi-public place, in front of all 100 of my regular readers (I said recently that there were 300 of you, but once I did so the number almost immediately dropped; I have little doubt that now that I've posted the number 100 -- well, 94, really -- it'll fall again, and precipitously, probably right back down to the 30 people I started with 15 months ago), that I, Ed Fitzgerald, husband, father, stage manager, fan of Philip K. Dick and Philip Glass, proud recipient, on my last birthday, of a new Stanton turntable (so that I can -- finally -- listen to my extensive collection of LPs again), blogger ordinaire, bon vivant and man about the sofa, like and utilize pornography, for the primary purpose one might expect; apparently, from what I can infer from what I read, I am the only person in America who does.
As the sole consumer of pornography in the United States (and wouldn't you just know that I live in a blue state, where we're well known for our lack of morality?), I take my personal responsibility for supporting this $12 billion domestic industry seriously, although I will say that I am a little mystified at the precise mechanism that converted the $45 I spent on porn last year into billions of dollars. Normally, I'd suspected that perhaps someone out there might not be telling the truth, and might be a porn consumer as well, but given the reputation of red-staters for upholding high-moral values, I know that such deception and hypocrisy is impossible for them, so if there are other pornsters out there, they must be fellow denizens of the blue states. Still, even here in the native land of the ultra-liberal, no one, except those who work in the industry, seems interested in either defending it or lending it moral support by admitting to using it.
It's a puzzlement, a real paradox that something no one buys (except me, of course) is so darn profitable for its purveyors.
Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I can't shut,
If it's uncut,
and unsubt- le.
I've never quibbled
If it was ribald,
I would devour where others merely nibbled.
As the judge remarked the day that he
acquitted my Aunt Hortense,
"To be smut
It must be ut-
Terly without redeeming social importance."
Nographic pictures I adore.
Indecent magazines galore,
I like them more
If they're hard core.
(Bring on the obscene movies, murals, postcards, neckties,
samplers, stained-glass windows, tattoos, anything!
More, more, I'm still not satisfied!)
Stories of tortures
Used by debauchers,
Lurid, licentious, and vile,
Make me smile.
Novels that pander
To my taste for candor
Give me a pleasure sublime.
(Let's face it, I love slime.)
All books can be indecent books
Though recent books are bolder,
For filth (I'm glad to say) is in
the mind of the beholder.
When correctly viewed,
Everything is lewd.
(I could tell you things about Peter Pan,
And the Wizard of Oz, there's a dirty old man!)
To any book like Fanny Hill,
And I suppose I always will,
If it is swill
And really fil
Who needs a hobby like tennis or philately?
I've got a hobby: rereading Lady Chatterley.
But now they're trying to take it all
away from us unless
We take a stand, and hand in hand
we fight for freedom of the press.
In other words,
Smut! (I love it)
Ah, the adventures of a slut.
Oh, I'm a market they can't glut,
I don't know what
Compares with smut.
Hip hip hooray!
Let's hear it for the Supreme Court!
Don't let them take it away!
Come, join the lonely crusade to support filth, depravity and the American way!
[P]eople are not rational. In fact, when it comes to modern American politics there seems to be a conscious embrace of the irrational, an epistomological relativism that renders ... reasoned arguments completely inneffectual. People who listen to Rush or absorb his message through osmosis in their social group are operating on the basis of some very long standing tribal hueristics that have been very sophisticatedly manipulated by the real elites in this country. It will take more than fiery speeeches about sticking it to the man to penetrate this mindset.
Certainly, a populist message should work for the Democratic party. But, our populist message cannot obscure the fact that we represent blacks, urban dwellers and those who appear to be agents of rapid social change. And even if it could, the Republicans are hardly going to sit back and be quiet about it.
This problem needs some fresh thinking and I think that the article I posted about earlier about undecided voters provides us with some clues. The first is that we have to stop thinking in terms of issues or a combination of issues. People think in terms of worldview and tribal identity.
The next thing we need to recognise is that we are living in a post modern environment in which straight appeals to reason are not very effective. We have to begin to use symbols and semiotics more effectively. This means that we have to be more stylistic and sophisticated in our presentation. TV with the sound turned off.
But that won't be enough. We need to consider the American character and use it to shape our message. There is tremendous complexity in our national character and racial or social resentment is only a part of it. And there is a lot of tension, for instance between Equality/freedom --- Community/individualism. This tension has always been present and the line isn't drawn by region --- it's drawn within each person. We have to use some of these commonly understood and believed American values to illustrate our wordview in ways that people can understand hueristically instead of intellectually. We do this with a certain kind of candidate, a certain message and a certain kind of presentation. But we have to embrace this way of communicating before we can possible hope to use it to relate to Americans who are conditioned to buy and consume on the basis of their feelings not on the basis of their reason.
This is the world in which we live whether we like it or not. The Republicans are selling a vision and a sense of belonging to a certain tribe. We are selling an argument and a program. They are using 21st century tools to manipulate primal human needs and simplify the world. We are using 20th century methods to appeal to reason in a complicated way. They have the better hand.
Note [from Digby]: Over the past couple of weeks, I've written a few posts on this subject and others sort of tangentially related. A couple of readers asked me to put them all together in one place. Here they are.
Fox Searchlight said Friday that PBS station WNET New York rejected a promotional spot for its sexologist biopic "Kinsey" for fear of a backlash from conservatives who have protested the pic.
In an email from WNET to the Searchlight ad-buying firm, the station said it did not have a problem with the content of the promo, a spot that would have run ahead of programming on the station, but rather was concerned about being connected to the controversial pic.
An email from the station, released by Searchlight, said in part, "We do apologize, but Tom (Conway, the station's chief financial officer) is not comfortable with the content of this movie and because there has been controversial press re: groups speaking out against the movie/subject matter, we feel we can't risk viewer complaints on this."
Earlier, a WNET spokeswoman told the Associated Press the blurb was rejected because it was "too commercial and too provocative."
Searchlight said in a statement that it was "greatly disappointed" by WNET's decision and added, "We have faith that other stations will not bow to efforts to censor our film."
Please note that this is a PBS station in ultra-blue New York City that's knuckling under to their anticipation of possible right-wing pressure. PBS stations are heavily dependent on viewer donations -- that's why they have all those pledge drives -- and thus (it seems to me) should be vulnerable to some well-publicized liberal backlash right about now. Use this form to contact WNET -- tell them you'll remember their moral cowardice come the next pledge drive.
Update (12/3): It took a few days, but I got a response from WNET -- or should I say, a non-responsive response:
Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding Thirteen’s decision not to air the underwriting announcement from Fox Searchlight Pictures featuring the film Kinsey, as reported in the press this past weekend.
Thirteen has no objection whatsoever to the release of the film Kinsey or its subject matter. In fact, we will be airing our own documentary about Dr. Kinsey on American Experience in February, and we hope you will tune in.
Unfortunately, the Fox Searchlight Pictures announcement did not meet our guidelines for on-air underwriting announcements. Please note that in passing on this announcement, Thirteen also declined the underwriting support that accompanied it. This decision was made after careful consideration.
Please know that your voice counts and we consider your concerns in making decisions. Our foremost aspiration is to provide intelligent, thoughtful, and honest programming, and to be responsive to our community of viewers. We continue to dedicate ourselves to these goals.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. We truly value your input and your support.
Customer Relations Management &
On-Air Fundraising Administration
Thirteen WNET New York
There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.
The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt. [Emphasis added.]
Distict Attorney, Travis County, Texas
A Moral Indictment New York Times op-ed (11/23/2004)
On the Usenet newsgroup lbo-talk, poster Dwayne Monroe remarks on the eerie similarity of news reports from Iraq:
News stories on National Public Radio, the New York Times, the Washington post, MSNBC and so on contain a similar structure: it's all over, we've killed them all - well, all except for the guys who just blew up that tank and the ones we're trying to bomb to atoms in that mosque over there who, by the way, are very, very good fighters.
The blood soaked absurdity of it all makes me want to vomit.
And for those of us who remember Vietnam, the familiarity is distressing as well. We'll be getting body counts as an indication of mission success soon, and they will eventually indicate that we've already killed the estimated number of insurgents three or four over. Need I quote Santyana?
But I guess the military did learn some important lessons from the Vietnam War: get your correspondents safely embedded, where you can control them and influence their output, and don't, for heaven's sake, let them wander around the countryside finding out what's actually going on (not that our current press corps seems too interested in doing so anyway).
Some people claim that the US won the War in Vietnam, to which I can only say that I strongly disagree. Others argue that Vietnam differed from Iraq, saying that it was essentially a conventional war that was lost because the American civilian leadership failed to provide its Armed Forces with proper strategic direction. It is of course true that there are considerable differences between the two. Still, recalling Dayan’s observations, I think there are three main reasons why the similarities are more important.
First, according to Dayan, the most important operational problem the US Forces were facing was intelligence, in other words the inability to distinguish the enemy from either the physical surroundings or the civilian population. Had intelligence been available then their enormous superiority in every kind of military hardware would have enabled them to win the War easily enough. In its absence, most of the blows they delivered – including no fewer than six million tons of bombs dropped – hit empty air. All they did was make the enemy disperse and merge into the civilian population, thus making it even harder to find him. Worst of all, lack of accurate intelligence meant that the Americans kept hitting noncombatants by mistake. They thus drove huge segments of the population straight into the arms of the Viet Cong; nothing is more conducive to hatred than the sight of relatives and friends being killed.
Second, as Dayan saw clearly enough, the campaign for hearts and minds did not work. Many of the figures being published about the progress it was making turned out to be bogus, designed to set the minds of the folks at home at rest. In other cases any progress laboriously made over a period of months was undone in a matter of minutes as the Viet Cong attacked, destroying property and killing “collaborators.” Above all, the idea that the Vietnamese people wanted to become Americanized was an illusion. All the vast majority really wanted was to be left alone and get on with their lives.
The third and most important reason why I think Vietnam is relevant to the situation in Iraq is because the Americans found themselves in the unfortunate position where they were beating down on the weak. To quote Dayan: “any comparison between the two armies… was astonishing. On the one hand there was the American Army, complete with helicopters, an air force, armor, electronic communications, artillery, and mind-boggling riches; to say nothing of ammunition, fuel, spare parts, and equipment of all kinds. On the other there were the [North Vietnamese troops] who had been walking on foot for four months, carrying some artillery rounds on their backs and using a tin spoon to eat a little ground rice from a tin plate.”
That, of course, was precisely the problem. In private life, an adult who keeps beating down on a five year old – even such a one as originally attacked him with a knife – will be perceived as committing a crime; therefore he will lose the support of bystanders and end up by being arrested, tried and convicted. In international life, an armed force that keeps beating down on a weaker opponent will be seen as committing a series of crimes; therefore it will end up by losing the support of its allies, its own people, and its own troops. Depending on the quality of the forces – whether they are draftees or professionals, the effectiveness of the propaganda machine, the nature of the political process, and so on – things may happen quickly or take a long time to mature. However, the outcome is always the same. He (or she) who does not understand this does not understand anything about war; or, indeed, human nature.
In other words, he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat; if U.S troops in Iraq have not yet started fragging their officers, the suicide rate among them is already exceptionally high. That is why the present adventure will almost certainly end as the previous one did. Namely, with the last US troops fleeing the country while hanging on to their helicopters’ skids.
Van Creveld also provides an explanation for why the comparison seems to elude the American military:
Between about 1975 and 1990, following the US defeat in Vietnam, military history was extremely popular among the US Armed Forces. After 1991, largely as a result of what many people considered the “stellar” performance of those Forces against Saddam Hussein, it went out of fashion; after all, if we were able to do that well there was not much point in studying the mistakes our predecessors made. Now that comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq have suddenly become very fashionable indeed, history is rushing right back at us.
Hey, GOP! Check out Article V of the Constitution:
The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
You know, I wouldn't be at all suprised if sometime quite soon, while they are at the apogee of their power (and before they manage to bring themselves down with their flagrant abuse of it) the right-wing party didn't call for a full-scale Constitutional Convention to re-write the document the way they'd like it to be. No more namby-pamby issue-by-issue amending, just put it all together in one package and let it rip. Surely, with their great mandate in hand, they can dominate the election for representatives to the convention, and assure that their agenda is paramount once it's convened?
They could put in a flag-burning amendment, make gay marriage unconstitutional, get rid of the separtion of church and state (opening the way for a true theocracy), and perhaps insert something to make corporations no longer second-class citizens (ultra-first-class with special voting rights would be best, I think).
They could abolish the 22nd Amendment so that George II could take his rightful permanent place on the throne, and agents for Arnold Schwarzenegger could at least try to amend Section 1 of Article II so that their boss can fulfill his ambitions (good luck, Ahnold, because the infamous Assurance of Presidential Quality Amendment will require that all Presidents be descendents of Prescott Bush).
I'm sure there's a bunch of those post-Civil War amendments that they'd like to get rid of as well. In fact, there's a passel of pesky provisions in there, and Bush being so good at clearing overgrown brush, it's natural that he'd want to set things to right.
His Poppy just spewed his guts at state dinners, but George W. can use his vaunted gut instincts (and the power of prayer) to make us real a Christian country once again.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.