"Disorder in the house. . . reptile wisdom . . . zombies on the lawn, staggering around; Disorder in the house, there's a flaw in the system, a fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down."
Warren Zevon

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Justice Delayed 

is probably justice denied, as this New York Times editorial points out. Attorney General John Ashcroft has at long last recused himself from the investigation surrounding the Wilson/Plame incident, conceding what all rational observers already knew: Mr. Ashcroft's political interests are simply too closely tied to the Bush administration to allow him to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry. A special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald was swiftly appointed by Deputy Attorney James Comey. The New York Times:

"We may never know what damage was caused by Mr. Ashcroft's delay of nearly two months in taking the proper action."


The End of the World 

Jesse has the goods on the new neo-con "manifesto," and I really can't improve on it, but I can link to this. Slightly different scenario, same result.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003


Monday afternoon was warm and clear, the kind of North Carolina winter's day that you think just can't get any more beautiful. But it did. My daughter, Emma Cassidy, was born around 4:15 p.m. Somewhere between the sound of her first cry and the look on my wife's face, I forgot all about the weather. And everything else for that matter.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

What the Hell!?? 

Via Atrios, we have this link to Dubyaspeak, and this totally incoherent clip from Dim Son. "Peeance, freeance"?? Kinda ties in to this previously posted ad, doesn't it?

Feed the Monkey 

Fellow NC blogger Todd Morman has a righteous rant about our bottom-feeding media over at Monkeytime that's well worth a read, even though I'm three weeks late in finding it. Go check it out.

Friday, December 26, 2003

You put a gun in my hands, and you hide from my eyes  

Tristero has had a run on good posts recently, and you should read his piece on foreign "policy" ala Wolfowitz.
It's good, and he's put some thought into the origins of Wolfowitz' naivety.
When I finished reading it, I realized I was humming Bob Dylan's "Masters of War."

"Its Bonkers, its Insane" 

So says a former senior US Intelligence official, referring to the fact that the Bush administration has now hired Israel to train US assassination squads in Iraq. Quoted by Julian Borger in the Guardian, this former official commented further:

"This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team . . . It is bonkers, insane. Here we are - we're already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we've just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams."

Also quoted was Brigadier General Michael Vane, who, as reported by Borger, discussed the topic in correspondence to Army magazine earlier this year:

"We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas," wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army's training and doctrine command.
Colonel Ralph Peters, a former army intelligence officer and a critic of Pentagon policy in Iraq, said yesterday there was nothing wrong with learning lessons wherever possible.

"When we turn to anyone for insights, it doesn't mean we blindly accept it," Col Peters said. "But I think what you're seeing is a new realism. The American tendency is to try to win all the hearts and minds. In Iraq, there are just some hearts and minds you can't win. Within the bounds of human rights, if you do make an example of certain villages it gets the attention of the others, and attacks have gone down in the area."

When, exactly, is it “within the bounds of human rights” to “make an example of “an entire village? Well, “Never,” according to some, and even as the US considers the adoption of Israeli tactics, such tactics are under fire from within Israel's own armed forces. A number of Israeli Black Hawk helicopter and F-16 fighter pilots were recently ousted form the prestigious Israeli air force for refusing to carry out orders which involved the killing of civilians and writing a letter detailing the reasons for their refusal. Said one such pilot, "You hear it in the streets of Israel; people want revenge. But we should not behave like that. We are not a mafia."

The triggering event for these pilots was last years Israeli bombing of the home of Hamas military leader, Salah Shehade, which killed him and 14 members of his family, including 9 children.
From a December 3, 2003 article in The Guardian comes this report, including quotes from Israeli pilots involved:

"I served more than seven years as a pilot," said Captain Alon R, who, like all the younger pilots, hopes to return to combat flying and so declines to use his full name in order to retain his security clearance. "In the beginning, we were pilots who believed our country would do all it could to achieve peace. We believed in the purity of our arms and that we did all we could to prevent unnecessary loss of life.
"Somewhere in the last few years it became harder and harder to believe that is the case."

One captain described the bombing as deliberate killing, murder even. Another called it state terrorism, though some colleagues swiftly stomped on that interpretation. But they all agreed that the attack sowed the doubts that resulted a year later in the letter that sent shockwaves through the Israeli military.

"The Shehade incident was a red light for us, a final warning," said Capt Alon R. "With Shehade I began to re-evaluate my beliefs. We killed 14 innocent people, nine of them children. After my commander gave an interview in which he said he sleeps well at night and his men can do the same. Well, I can't. We refused to see it as an innocent mistake."

Capt Assaf L, who served as a pilot for 15 years until sacked for signing the letter, had similar doubts.
"You don't have to be a genius to know that the destruction from a one-tonne bomb is massive, so someone up there made a decision to drop it knowing it would destroy buildings," he said. "Someone took the decision to kill innocent people. This is us being terrorists. This is vengeance."
Lieutenant-Colonel Avner Raanan is among the most respected pilots to have signed the letter. He served for 27 years and was awarded one of Israel's highest military decorations in 1994. "If you look at the past three years, you see that, if we had a suicide bombing, the Israeli air force made a big operation in which civilians were killed, and that looks to innocent eyes like revenge," he said.

At its core, the letter questions the legality of the "targeted assassinations" that have claimed the lives of more civilian bystanders than their Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade targets. In October, 14 civilians were killed when the air force fired missiles at a car in Gaza's Nuseirat refugee camp.

"Is it legitimate to take F-15's and helicopters designed to destroy enemy tanks, and use them against cars and houses in one of the most heavily populated places in the world?" Capt Alon R asked.

Oblivious to this controversy, the US has brought Israeli specialists to train US Special Forces at Fort Bragg, NC, and according to Borger’s article, “US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border, and a group focused on the "neutralisation" of guerrilla leaders is being set up, according to sources familiar with the operations.”

On the Israeli side, Israel admits that it has shared information with the US about its West Bank and Gaza operations, but demurs regarding involvement with the US in Iraq. The Guardian quotes an Israeli official as follows:

"When we do activities, the US military attaches in Tel Aviv are interested. I assume it's the same as the British. That's the way allies work. The special forces come to our people and say, do debrief on an operation we have done," the official said.
"Does it affect Iraq? It's not in our interest or the American interest or in anyone's interest to go into that. It would just fit in with jihadist prejudices."

As if generalized “jihadist prejudices” weren’t enough, Borger reports that one of those involved in the planning of this offensive is Lieutenant General William "Jerry" Boykin, who has generated controversy with his recent comments characterizing the Iraqi conflict in religious terms, and by stating that the US was “at war with Satan.” I suppose than when your enemy is the devil himself, the deaths of civilians, even children, are more easily justified.

No Cause, No Effect 

AL Kennedy nails the dishonest "disconnect" of the Bush administration's foreign (for lack of a better word) policy, in this op-ed piece from the Guardian. It's nice to hear from a writer who "sees the big picture," so to speak, and this concise piece highlights beautifully the common threads of duplicity and denial that run through the policies of this administration.

New Year's Resolutions 

Paul Krugman lists his suggested resolutions for political reporters in 2004.
Read it. It's good.
What'd you expect? It's Krugman.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


Thanks to Notes From Atlanta for this link to another of those "Bush in 30 Seconds" ads.
This is funny.

Confessions of an Anglophile 

Yes, I've long been an admirer of all things British, British humor, writing, music, beer, and even British food, particularly pub fare. I link to British news media at least weekly, (either here or at The Stinging Nettle), and this week, my favorite newspaper, the Guardian announces its picks for best blogs in The Best of British Blogging.
While my previous links to British blogs have been along the lines of Bare Your Bum at Bush, the list you'll find here includes a broader, much less political, range of blogs, all of which are worth a read. "Best Written"? Belle de Jour, the diary of a London call girl.
As if I needed a reminder of how repressed Americans really are.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Shuffle the Penguin 

Just do it.
Trust me,

Tort Reform, the Media, and Urban Legends 

This one is a must read. While most of us realize the involvement of the insurance industry in the "tort reform" movement, Dwight Meredith of Wampum does a brilliant job of exposing the complicity of the media. Best piece I've seen on the subject, and one of the best pieces I've seen recently on any subject.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

An Imaginary Milestone 

You know you’re getting a world class spin when the capture of a delirious, scruffy old man living in a hole is portrayed as making the world a safer place. George W. Bush all but admitted as much when his noontime address on Sunday, December 14 included the admission that the capture would not end the violence against American troops in Iraq. Although the statement was clearly included by Bush’s handlers as prophylaxis against another “Mission Accomplished”- type attack by the Democrats, the remark also conceded that the disheveled and disoriented man pulled from a “spider hole” near Tikrit could not possibly be masterminding guerrilla attacks throughout Iraq. No, Saddam’s capture won’t end the violence, and it doesn’t spell the end of the administration’s problems in Iraq, problems caused by the complete absence of an exit strategy and a rebuilding effort built around cronyism and profiteering.

Contrary to popular belief, Saddam’s captures doesn’t meant the end of Howard Dean, either. Democratic contenders John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, both of whom supported the Iraq war stepped up their attacks on Dean after the events of this weekend, and seem to feel that Saddam’s capture vindicates their pro-war stance. Pundits also see Dean as weakened by anything positive emerging from the quagmire that is post-war Iraq.

To which I politely say, “Horseshit.” Look, it doesn’t matter that something good comes out of the war in the form of Saddam’s capture. That doesn’t mean the war itself was justified. The Bush administration lied to get us into this war, they have no plan to get us out, and Saddam’s ultimate removal doesn’t change that. It doesn’t mean Dean was wrong to oppose the war, and it doesn’t mean his candidacy is doomed. The 2004 presidential race will continue unabated with Saddam’s rat hole barely a footnote. Sure, the GOP will play it for all it’s worth, but it just can’t last. Likewise, the Iraqi reconstruction continues, and subsequent events in that country will soon confirm that Saddam’s removal was a moot point.

Focusing on Saddam’s capture is like taking a picture of the afterbirth rather than the new child. Let’s move along here, people, and pay attention to what matters. One tyrant is gone, now let’s focus on another, this one closer to home.

Crow, please. Medium Rare. 

I'll be the first to admit that I have not always had kind things to say about Howard Dean supporters. One of my rants on another site was so ill-considered that I'm embarrassed to link to it. I've accused the Dean folks of projecting their ideals onto a less than ideal candidate while ignoring his faults, and yes, I've even used the "u" word. In fact, I was so concerned about the "u" word that I've compared Dean's zealous flock to the Naderites of the 2000 election, and predicted a similar result.

My concerns weren't limited to projecting the attributes of a liberal savior on a candidate with moderate credentials and the reputation of a pragmatist. No, I was also really annoyed by the Deaniacs' focus on themselves, and their insistence that the Dean campaign represented some fundamentally different force in American politics. Well, I guess I've come to the conclusion that they may be right.

First of all, I’ve had to grudgingly admit that the man can give a good speech, and that his television presence is improving. Not a perfect candidate, but not fatally flawed either, and I will admit that at times the man has proven that he has balls. It's no secret that I'm a John Edwards admirer, but he too has his weaknesses, and I'm backing off my earlier statement that a Dean nomination would be dangerous for the party.

Second, while I still think, as Ezra so eloquently put it, "the [Dean] campaign deserves a better candidate," I'm willing to acknowledge the importance of what Dean and his supporters have accomplished. Washington Post editorial writer Everett Ehrlich is so impressed with Dean's organization that he makes at least a plausible argument in support of his theory that the Dean campaign represents essentially a new political party, and portends the demise of traditional political parties altogether. While I'm not so sure some of the Deaniac's zeal hasn't induced Mr. Ehrlich to hyperbole, he makes valid points regarding the economic advantages the internet affords those who seek to disseminate political information. Recognizing that at least one major dynamic behind the formation of political parties is the need for a fundraising structure, I would agree that the internet has the capacity to change the rules of the game.

Given articles like this one, and the considerable media attention the Dean campaign has garnered, my earlier criticisms/observations regarding the Dean phenomenon are apparently accurate: the campaign has, in fact, overshadowed the candidate. I guess the real debate, then, is whether this is a good or a bad thing. For those of us focused primarily on the removal of the most "manifestly unfit" president in history, worries about Dean and the "u" word persist. Others, who see an individually empowering, postive transformation of the political process on the horizon, might view that approach as shortsighted.
Here's to hoping the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Expletive (not) Deleted 

Daniel Munz beat me to this one, but I can't help but link to it anyway. Yeah, John, you fucked up. Badly. Even if your supporters had nothing to do with the odious ad I've already ranted about, you've squandered your considerable potential with an inconsistent, pandering campaign, alienated what should have been your base, and even pissed off your own unofficial weblog. Your recent contradictory attacks on Howard Dean represent desperation induced shark-jumping at it's worst. Not that Dean or any candidate is immune from criticism, but jeez, John, at least try to make some sense. Al Gore already taught us that a guy who would make a great president can still be a lousy candidate; we really didn't need a reminder.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Pandagon Gets it Right. . . Twice 

I usually check out Pandagon every morning, and the site has gotten even better recently, with their new format and the addition of Ezra, whose thoughtful posts provide a welcome complement to Jesse's sometimes over-the-top wit and sarcasm. So what's with all this "Open Letter to John Kerry" brouhaha I see today? Seems Jesse, Ezra, Atrios and others co-authored an open letter to John Kerry asking him to disavow any connection between his campaign and this ad. The ad itself is the result a newly formed 527 (after the IRS code section) organization allegedly founded by, among others, a former member of Kerry's campaign staff. The open letter has generated all manner of accusation and recrimination on Atrios' comment board, and it was there I learned that Pandagon has withdrawn the letter with regards to Senator Kerry. Pandagon accepts the Kerry campaign's statement that it does not endorse and had no connection with the ad. Atrios has not, as of yet, published a withdrawal or update.

The ad itself is truly disgusting in both its substance and its shortsightedness. Why any Democrat would ever think it appropriate to attack a Democratic candidate for president, much less the frontrunner, in this manner is beyond belief. The ad actually states, "Howard Dean just cannot compete with George Bush on foreign policy." How many times do you think we'll hear that line quoted during the general election if Dean is the nominee? The outrage over the ad seems to be universal in the blogosphere, with the exception of the most rabid of the anti-Dean crowd, so why don't the real "players" get it? Who convinced well-meaning donors that this kind of attack is a good idea and got this thing financed?
Yet another example of the disconnect that exists at several levels of the Democratic party.

If Ezra and Jesse are convinced that the ad is not the result of a Kerry-Gephardt smear, the Dean campaign is not. But the Dean supporters, ever focused on themselves as the new grassroots face of the Democratic party, (which may in fact be true), see the ad as much as an attack on them as on their candidate: Dean's weblog carries this post on the ad:

News of the latest attack on your campaign, this one by a shadowy group run by Democrats, continues to spread across the blogosphere. Click here for a list of the dozens of blogs that are talking about it.

Over at Dean Nation, Dana Blankenhorn writes:

It wasn't just aimed at Governor Howard Dean, M.D. These people were aiming at you, at us.
They don't want the grassroots involved in politics. They want us to stay silent, afraid that if we speak up, we'll be hurt.

It's impressive that the blogs have been all over this important story that has been largely overlooked by traditional news sources. Which brings up interesting food for thought: How many people actually saw the ad on television--and how many people read about it online, and were immediately able to learn that it was financed by a faceless group run by former Kerry and Gephardt staff. We're not sure. But when we reach the point where Americans get the real scoop on the propaganda before they get fed the propaganda itself . . . that's when you'll know, once again, how much you have changed politics in this country.

You are unstoppable. Contribute now to defend your campaign, and keep up the vigilance.

In the final analysis, it doesn't matter whether you see the ad as an endorsement of Kerry, as an attack on Dean, or as an attack on Dean's grassroots political movement, it might as well have been written by the Rove/Bush machine. Jesse and Ezra's decision to call attention to it was the right move, as was their withdrawal of the letter as it pertains to the Kerry campaign. The real point is, this ad is a colossal misjudgment, a mistake of epic proportions, and the type of self-defeating action that Bob Herbert is talking about here. Aren't we suppposed to be smarter than this?

Several days ago, Taegan Goddard's Political Wire featured a story entitled Bush Not Ready To Engage Democrats, which reported the decision of Bush's handlers to "stay above the fray" until closer to the election. Sound judgment, I'm afraid. This type of "fray" is self-destructive.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Dazed and Confused 

He doesn't use those words, but that's the gist of Bob Herbert's NY Times OpEd regarding the current state of the Democratic party. Read it. It's good. You'll see some familiar, over-used expressions, like "circular firing squad", but there are also new, and in my mind, accurate descriptors of the Democratic party, the most resonant of which is this zinger: "It's a party for the faint of heart." As Herbert points out, the Dems have the moral high ground on just about every issue, but "are too timid to take advantage of it." Amen, brother.

Herbert is dead right when he argues that if the Dems lose in 2004, it won't be because of the nominee, whoever that might be, but rather, because the party has floundered, and has lost its focus:

"To regain control of the White House, the Democrats need to give voters, who are frightened by terrorism and disoriented by the pace of 21st-century events, new reasons to hope. That can only be done by a thoughtful, united, energized and creative party. A party with a plan and a ferocious will to win."

Accurate, but unnecessarily tactful. What the Democrats need is balls. Balls to stand up to the GOP, call a lie a lie and not back down. Quit cowering from the rabid right wing pundits, go on the offensive, and don't worry about being criticized for negative rhetoric. The Democrats need the guts to stand up and speak the truth with the same conviction that the Republicans use when they lie. How hard can it be? We're the ones telling the truth here. Herbert calls it a "will to win." I'm all right with that characterization, but I like mine better. The Dems have the policy positions, they have competent candidates, they have the facts. Now if they could just grow a set of cojones.

When Republicans Attack . . .  

David Neiwert brought my attention to the recent GOP ad, "When Democrats Attack" which prompted my rant here, and which was notable largely because the spectacle ofDemocrats actually attacking anything with conviction is so rare these days that it invites comment. Republicans, on the other hand, attack so frequently, especially on a personal level, that a new attack rarely warrants anything other than a yawn. Unless, of course they're attacking Bush.

Yeah, you heard me right, and I realize I'm a little late on this one, but I finally read a story whose headline on Truthout.org which caught my attention several weeks ago, and I'm glad I did. Penned by Doug Bandow for The American Conservative, the article includes the following:

". . . this president deserves to be criticized. Sharply. By anyone who believes in limited, constitutional government.
First, George W. Bush, despite laudable personal and family characteristics, is remarkably incurious and ill read. Gut instincts can carry even a gifted politician only so far. And a lack of knowledge leaves him vulnerable to simplistic remedies to complex problems, especially when it comes to turning America into the globe’s governess.

Second, despite occasional exceptions, the Bush administration, backed by the Republican-controlled Congress, has been promoting larger government at almost every turn. Its spending policies have been irresponsible, and its trade strategies have been destructive. The president has been quite willing to sell out the national interest for perceived political gain, whether the votes sought are from seniors or farmers. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 encouraged the administration to push into law civil-liberties restrictions that should worry anyone, whether they are wielded by a Bush or a Clinton administration.

The president and his aides have given imperiousness new meaning. Officials are apparently incapable of acknowledging that their pre-war assertions about Iraq’s WMD capabilities were incorrect; indeed, they resent that the president is being questioned about his administration’s claims before the war. They are unwilling to accept a role for Congress in deciding how much aid money to spend.

Some of Bush’s supporters have been even worse, charging critics with a lack of patriotism. Not to genuflect at the president’s every decision is treason. In two decades of criticizing liberal politicians and positions, I have rarely endured the vitriol that was routinely spewed by conservatives when I argued against war with Iraq over the last year. Conservative papers stopped running my column; conservative Web sites removed it from their archives. That was their right, of course, but they demonstrated that it was not just the Clintons who were fair-weather friends.

Third, President George W. Bush has made Woodrow Wilson the guiding spirit of Republican foreign policy. A candidate who criticized nation building is now pursuing global social engineering. The representative of a party that once criticized foreign aid is now pushing lavish U.S. social spending abroad, demanding that it be a gift rather than a loan.

And the administration has advanced a doctrine of pre-emption that encourages war for allegedly humanitarian ends. Attempting to justify the Iraqi war retrospectively by pointing to Saddam Hussein’s manifold crimes, the president apparently believes he may attack any nation to advance human rights. Ironically, the Bush administration has adopted as its policy the question posed by then UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright to then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell: what’s the use of having this fine military you keep talking about if we don’t use it?

The negative practical consequences of this policy are all too evident. Ugly foreign governments from Iran to North Korea have an incentive to arm themselves, quickly, with WMD to deter a U.S. preventive assault.

Iraq has become a magnet for terrorist attacks while becoming a long-term dependent under U.S. military occupation.

Anger towards—indeed, hatred of—Washington is likely to continue growing, even in once friendly nations. It will be difficult to maintain an imperial foreign policy with a volunteer military."

When do you think we'll hear Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly call Bandow a traitor? A treasonous surrender monkey? Don't hold your breath.

Blaming the Victim 

Tristero offers the definitive commentary on the Misha/Blumrich incident. My analysis pales in comparison.

And speaking of Blumrich and victims of circumstance, check out Eric's sympathetic treatment of Bush, who, after all, can't help it that he's the idiot son of an asshole.

Friday, December 12, 2003

A Line Crossed 

It's not often I am ahead of the curve, but my post yesterday proved uncharacteristically prescient in terms of the escalation of violent rhetoric from pro-Bush conservatives. It seems that Misha, the focus of my last post, has once again given us an example of what Neiwert terms "eliminationalism." Early though I may be, Neiwert is once again ahead of me, and his post on this topic is here.

To summarize, Misha, characteristically unable to muster a substantive argument, resorts to his usual invective in response to the anti-Bush Flash Animation of Eric Blumrich. But this time, Misha's obscenity thesaurus fails him. Unable to satisfy his need to vent with his usual namecalling, he steps things up a notch:

Here's a hint to you, Eric: The gov't can't do anything to you over that ad, but that's the extent of your protection under the First Amendment.

The rest of us, however, aren't the gov't, in case you've forgotten, and quite few of us would be more than happy to wipe that nervous little grin off your traitorous mug -- with a belt sander.

Not saying anything in specific, mind you, but we'd be damn careful about showing our face in public if we were you. You just never know who that perfect stranger behind you in that alleyway might be. Could be a sibling or other relative of one of the fallen soldiers that you just took a dump on the grave of, and G-d only knows what might happen then.

Eric may not be famous enough to be a pick for the 2004 Dead Pool, but there's another signed Imperial Mug for the first LC to inform me that Eric Blumrich has died in a "tragic" accident.

Accidents DO happen, you know, and that's the kind of news that would definitely make my entire day.

A tough act to follow, but Misha wasn't done. He then posted personal information about Blumrich, directions to his home, and a map of his neighborhood with a red "X" on Blumrich's house.

A line crossed? Absolutely. While probably not in violation of a criminal law, Misha actively condoned violence, even the death of Eric Blumrich. His belated defense that his words constituted "satire" (he learned the word from Fox v. Franken and needed to use it in a sentence) is laughable and pathetic. No, Misha advocated a specific violent result and gave anyone who wanted to listen instructions on how to accomplish it. And Neiwert's right: if something had happened to Blumrich, the Rottweiler would have had significant exposure to civil liability.

Since Neiwert's post, and since I first saw Blumrich's account on his site this morning, Misha has removed the maps and the comments, effectively tucking his tail between his legs and running. Blumrich implies that he involved the legal authorities, and indicates that two radio talk shows and Congressman Kucinich himself took up his cause, although it is not clear what exactly led to Misha's remedial measures, and the rather lame apology that now graces his website.

Of course, for Misha to back off from advocating violence simply means a return to mindless, obscenity-filled ad hominem attacks that make "Bush Hatred" look downright reasonable, (not that it isn't). So, does Misha's retreat indicate something positive in the realm of civil discourse? Hardly. To paraphrase Malcolm X: "You don't stick a knife ten inches in a man's back, pull it out two inches and call it progress."

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Eliminationism and Escalation 

David Neiwert had been posting thoughtful essays on the increasing prevalence of "eliminationist rhetoric" coming from the right, and he is undoubtedly correct that such language is becoming more frequent and apparently more accepted as a normal part of political discourse. David also addresses the mechanism behind this phenomenon, namely the silence of the "true" conservatives in the face of the hate-mongering of the Ann Coulters and Bill O'Reillys of the world in his brilliant and much talked about essay, "The Political and the Personal." (If you haven't read this, stop everything and read it; it resonates with almost everyone.) Somewhere in all the comments on Orcinus and others, ( I can't remember where) I read someone's caution that eliminationist rhetoric will inevitably lead to an escalation in the rhetoric of the other side of the debate, which in turn increases the likelihood of violence. This week, I think Neiwert himself proves that to be true.

In Backlash, posted earlier this week, Neiwert links us to a thread at Oliver Willis which contains a textbook example of eliminationist sentiment from the proprietor of The AntiIdiotarian Rottweiler. Neiwert then quotes the following response from later in the thread: Try it, fuckhead. Just try it. Fuck with me or my folks and you will get hurt. Bad. I won't start this fight. But I will finish it. There will be others with me. Unlike you, we won't start this kind of shit. We will not threaten to strangle you for your speech. But do not confuse our desire for peace with credulity, weakness or cowardice. Point proven: escalation is occuring.

And, from my perspective, it is also occuring in Neiwert's own rhetoric. The rest of the post contains these comments: Well, I come from an ex-NRA family (Dad was a skilled gunsmith) and have always had a gun or two, but I don't think much about them when it comes to this kind of stuff. (Mine are mostly bird guns anyway.) Among the reasons for owning a gun, civil self-defense is possibly the least well-grounded, except at the most distant and desperate and least likely remove. Certainly the right-wing fetish for guns as a way to fend off the "New World Order" is one of the silliest pro-gun arguments in existence.

Moreover, we really haven't yet hit the point where the threats have moved beyond mere rhetoric. It's been all talk. Like [the above commenter], I'm not a reflexive peacenik, but I think the kind of fear suggested by [a reader] is disproportionate -- for now. If and when actual violence does result, you'll hear me change my tune.

Is that a veiled threat I hear? If so, is it justified? Hell, yes, and hell, yes. I'm reminded of Neiwert's post explaining his affinity for Orcas, for which his site is named: They're big. They're friendly. They're nice. Playful. Even polite. It takes a lot to make them angry. But if you fuck with them, they have a lot of big teeth and will bite your ass off and swallow it.

More liberals need to think and write this way.

Survival of the Fittest 

It is quite possible this blog will not survive. Blogs come and go, and my first one just went. I can't resolve technical difficulties which I undoubtedly caused due to my lack of HTML knowledge, which was apparently undiminshed by the recent exorbitant expenditure of approximately thirty bucks on a tome entitled "HTML & XHTML, Fourth Edition: The Complete Reference." Complete,yes, readable, no. What the hell. I'm not so sure the title of a blog has much to do with it's longevity, given some of the asinine names of popular blogs on both sides of the political spectrum. So, given that the quality, or lack thereof, of the posts on this blog will be the same as the former, what difference does it make?

Then again, I seem to remember studies about the effect a name has on a child's personality, and I definitely have experienced a surge of creativity when I play a different guitar, or changes voices on an electronic keyboard. Perhaps my writing will be different under this title. Maybe I'll get the other one back up and run the same posts to see which on gets more hits. Maybe I'll keep them both up with different posts. This isn't such a bad title.

And yes, for those of you that noticed, it's a nod to Warren Zevon. Rest in Peace, my man.
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