Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Matter of Taste 

Prolific, ubiquitous historian Douglas Brinkley is moving from UNO to Tulane this year, and will be director of the new Theodore Roosevelt Center for American Civilization. I thought Brinkley's Tour of Duty was quite solid, and I'm not as annoyed by his frequent television appearances as others seem to be.

However, one of his observations in a recent interview perplexed me. From New Orleans CityBusiness (sub req-- my emph):

The pendulum in America is swinging toward more of a conservative era during which homeland security is of a concern. We're still living in the shadow of Ronald Reagan just like we used to live in the shadow of FDR. We're living in a time where the federal government is shrinking, where tax cuts are a priority, where no new social programs are being added and where a more fundamentalist, religious fervor is percolating toward the top of the national agenda.

But it won't last forever. These things go in cycles. What we have to keep in mind is that history is there to remind us that our times are not so unique. The media people always make things big when they're not really big. We're actually living in very bland times right now.

Very bland, professor? That's an unconventional belief. I know history puts things in perspective and all, but does anyone think times are in need of more "seasoning" right now?

For comparison, let's consider Brinkley's sober, restrained historical opinion on the impact of JFK Junior's death in '99:
It's as if suddenly, an entire generation's optimism is deflated, and all that is left is the limp reality of growing old.

I guess for the vegetarian Brinkley, bean curd lost all its flavor after John-John went down. We'll never forget that world-historic day... right?
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Rare Misfire 

[Mandatory: See this post if you haven't visited the General recently.]

A hilarious "rip-snorter", as my father would call it.

Needlenose uses a lyric from Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" to title a post linking to a Reuters story, which begins: "U.S. troops threw two Iraqi civilians into the Tigris River and laughed as one of them drowned, the survivor said on Wednesday, although American soldiers said the teenager may have faked his death."

So, being a lover of lyrical titles, I thought this Friedman quote would be easy, low hanging fruit:

In short, we need these elections in Iraq to see if there really is a self-governing community there ready, and willing, to liberate itself... This was always a shot in the dark - but one that I would argue was morally and strategically worth trying.

Normally, in lieu of substantive counterargument I would seize on Friedman's "shot in the dark" cliche, and mock it via Ozzy Osbourne's song of the same name. Problem is, in light of the war, the lyrics seem too damn cryptic. There's certainly material there, but I was unable to gracefully connect it to the article in a way that was trenchant or funny. Sorry.

Out on the street I'm stalking the night/I can hear my heavy breathing/Paid for the kill but it doesn't seem right/Something there I can't believe in

Voices are calling from inside my head/I can hear them I can hear them/Vanishing memories of things that were said/They can't try to hurt me now

But a shot in the dark one step away from you
A shot in the dark always creeping up on you

Taught by the powers that preach over me/I can hear their empty reason/I wouldn't listen I learnt how to fight/I opened up my mind to treason

But just like the wounded and when it's too late/They'll remember they'll surrender/Never a care for that people who hate/Underestimate me now

But a shot in the dark one step away from you
A shot in the dark not a thing that you can do
A shot in the dark always creeping up on you

Does anyone have a cogent theory about what Ozzy has in mind here? Religion? Murder? Insanity? ... What's the theme? Don't ask me-- I don't know!.

Metalheads, get ready: a post inspired by Exodus is in the works!
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Creme & the Mint 

New information has emerged about Sunday's horrible episode outside Galatoire's restaurant. Allegedly, an asshole tourist from Dallas named Anthony Creme shoved a gentle, elderly art collector into the pavement, fracturing his skull and causing brain damage. Yesterday's story in the Times-Picayune offered no explanation for such contemptible behavior. Today's story has more details.

[Galatoire's patron Marc Goodman] said that as far as he could tell, the alleged assault was provoked by nothing more than Dr. Russell Albright, 69, tossing a mint onto Creme's table, a common interaction at the Bourbon Street restaurant where well-heeled regulars table-hop and socialize, sometimes winging Carnival throws from table to table.
Goodman said he will never forget the sight of the ambulance pulling up outside the fashionable French Quarter restaurant and what happened inside after Albright was taken away.

"We thought he died, frankly," Goodman said. "I didn't see one person in his (Creme's) party look upset. It was an awful display."

Goodman said Creme "went right back and sat at the table and continued to eat." After police officers handcuffed him, Creme sat in the restaurant foyer, Goodman said.

After Creme was taken to jail, most of the people he was dining with returned to their table and continued to eat and drink, Goodman said.

"There were members of his entourage still having a good time," Goodman said. The group included a man and a woman old enough to be Creme's parents, another older man who took notes after the incident, and several young people, he said. Most if not all of the men were in jeans and wore dinner jackets provided by the restaurant in compliance with its dress code, he said.

Later Sunday night, Goodman said he and his girlfriend went to Harrah's New Orleans Casino and as they approached a casino bar for a drink, they saw the same members of Creme's dinner party.

"We stood there for about 20 seconds looking at their faces," Goodman said. "They were hanging out at the bar and having a good time."

So Anthony Creme and company know how to party, except when a New Orleanian makes a playful gesture to them at a restaurant? Jeezm. And who the hell can enjoy trout meuniere immediately after inflicting brain damage on an old man because he tried to give you a mint?! Who continues partying after that?

I wonder what Creme's parents were doing in Nov '63? Perhaps while the Harper fragment lay in Dealey lawn, they were making toasts. They'll let nothing-- not even an elderly art collector-- stop their revelry.

Send Anthony to Angola prison for a bit. Let him brandish his "shoving skills" there.
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

"Taxing the Unborn" 

If Democrats repeat "taxing the unborn" ad nauseum, they will win the Social Security debate. I'm serious. It's that strong. Dems should take a page from the Bush playbook and simply repeat the same catchy bullets every time they talk about an issue. And folks, this is an A-10 tankiller of a phrase (intellectually ugly but brutally effective); assuming, of course, that Dems have the audacity to continually repeat it-- sincerely and convincingly-- as frothing rightwingers go apenuts. There are plenty who could not pull this off, but I'm convinced it would work.

Congratulations to PGL at Angry Bear and Poppy at Patridiots for crafting the winning phrase. All you need is one of those for each issue. In fact, we've seen how some of them (such as "It's Your Money") can perform double and triple duty. The key is that the phrase must use words with emotional triggers, so that the debate is framed for the audience in a hopelessly one-sided fashion. Think Rovian: Don't debate, control the debate.

But what if a young, true-believer isn't satisfied with mere phrases, and actually wants to understand an issue like Social Security?


Although it's highly unnecessary in today's political world, here are some clear, brief statements and graphs that might help in an honest SS debate, should you find one. I've even listed them with selected rhetorical highlights:

Josh: "Almost the entirety of President Bush's Social Security phase-out plan comes down to a simple proposition: finding out how not to pay it back.... Across the board, it's just one big scam. The guy who's the biggest threat to Social Security says he wants to 'save' it by abolishing the program and replacing it with private accounts."

Angry Bear: displays two revealing GAO graphs. Read all of AB's posts on the topic.

Maxspeak: "What we have here, under the guise of an exercise in fiscal rationalization, is contraction of social insurance for the sake of public sector shrinkage, enabling a perverse, regressive redistribution of income."

Tiny Revolution: Jonathan explains it three ways to Sunday. You can choose your own level of difficulty. In a second post, he can't help himself:

"I admire the Bush-ites because they're trying to pull off the greatest heist in world history. And not under cover of night, but in broad daylight. If they manage it, they will be the greatest thieves who've ever lived. So on a moral level they're hideous. But I do enjoy their moxie."

I say: Why not fight moxie with moxie?
Update: I forgot about Michael's fine SS post at 2millionth web log from yesterday, which usefully distills Professor Krugman's work, and links to an invaluable .pdf file. As always, Michael concludes with a sweet money quote:

"I look at Team Bush and see not just a closetful of lies, but a pervasive tendency to ignore the truth that is literally supersized. You simply can't trust serial prevaricators like this administration--where every public statement is through the looking glass. Trust them on Social Security? If you do, I've got some weapons of mass destruction I'd like to have you take--by force, if necessary."
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Tsunami strikes New Orleans area!  

WESTWEGO (AP) - A 790-foot tanker struck a Mississippi River pier today causing a chemical spill.
The tanker, the Tsunami, struck the pier before noon at Westwego, across the river from New Orleans. The Coast Guard says the ship was carrying caustic soda, molasses and lube oil.

No information yet on whether the Swedes are somehow involved, or if anyone in the area was wearing a shirt depicting evildoers...

In two related stories, several French Quarter Dominatrix exhibitions were ubruptly cancelled, and the Coffee Pot restaurant said it would be unable to serve calas (a signature Creole treat) until more supplies arrive.
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Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Grass on the field?... Play ball! 

It's time Major League Baseball expanded to more foreign cities. How can they call it a "World Series" when there's only Toronto competing against the U.S.? Clearly Japan, Mexico and the Dominican Republic should get some immediate attention next time the league expands. And I'd love to see a team in Havana one day, too.

Perhaps they should consider some less obvious locales as well; for example, in the Southern Hemisphere. Hey, Antarctica would be a novel choice! The weather's moderating nicely, and the fields are practically growing themselves! I say: if nature builds it, we shall come.

From the Australian:
GRASS has become established in Antarctica, showing the continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years.

Scientists have reported that broad areas of grass are now forming turf where there were once ice-sheets and glaciers.

Tufts have previously grown on patches of Antarctica in summer, but the scientists have now observed larger areas surviving winter and spreading in the summer months.

Some fear the change portends a much wider melting of the ice-cap that formed at least 20 million years ago.
Measurements made over the past three decades show the peninsula and islands are among the fastest-warming places on earth, with winter temperatures already 5C higher than in 1974.

Many glaciers and ice-sheets are melting.

I'm reminded of that Hummer commercial where multicolored, high-emissions behemoths are speeding across a vast expanse of ice and snow, no irony in sight for miles...

Let's think of some potential mascot names for the Antarctica baseball team:

Last Emperor Penguins
Quick Melts
the Drifts
the Undrilled
the Things
Noble polar bears

.... what else ya got?

Hat tip Green Car Congress (via Praktike's Place)
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Monday, January 03, 2005

Deflowered Liberators 

The Iraqi Intelligence Director believes that the resistance outnumbers U.S. troops, with at least 40,000 hardcore soldiers and 160,000 sympathizers.
Past US military assessments on the insurgency's size have been revised upwards from 5,000 to 20,000 full and part-time members, in the last half year, most recently in October.
Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, put Shahwani's estimates on an equal footing with the American's. "The Iraqi figures do... recognize the reality that the insurgency in Iraq has broad support in Sunni areas while the US figures down play this to the point of denial." [via my pals at Wizbang!-- read the whole article.]

Now amble with me down the memory lane of Vice President Cheney's mental neighborhood. Ahh, so nostalgic and pleasant.... Soon a mild euphoria may wash over us, and we might even spontaneously break into the familiar tootsie roll theme song: "whatever it is I think I see, becomes a happy Iraq for me..."

Meet the Press 3/16/03:

MR. RUSSERT: If your analysis is not correct, and we're not treated as liberators, but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with significant American casualties?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators. I've talked with a lot of Iraqis in the last several months myself, had them to the White House. The president and I have met with them, various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. And like Kanan Makiya who's a professor at Brandeis, but an Iraqi, he's written great books about the subject, knows the country intimately, and is a part of the democratic opposition and resistance. The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but [that] they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that.
MR. RUSSERT: The army's top general said that we would have to have several hundred thousand troops there for several years in order to maintain stability.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: I disagree. We need, obviously, a large force and we've deployed a large force... But to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement.

Valentine's Day approaches. What should we send to Cheney and his beloved professor, Kanan Makiya?

(QUESTIONER): Vice President Cheney yesterday said that he expects that American forces will be greeted as liberators and I wonder if you could tell us if you agree with that...?

KANAN MAKIYA: I most certainly do agree with that. As I told the President on January 10th, I think they will be greeted with sweets and flowers in the first months and simply have very, very little doubts that that is the case.

This is a remarkable situation in which the population of a country that's about to have a war waged over its head positively wants the war while all kinds of other countries don't for one reason or another. That should tell us a lot about this war and about the future...

So many multiplying, desperate dead-enders... so few confections and floral arrangements.
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Wizbang Update!  

Wizbang! is featured in a NYT article today, and there are some references to what I wrote about yesterday concerning Wizbang's curious treatment of idiotic comments.

The NYT refers to the offending comments, obliquely, in an article by John Schwartz:
In the tsunami discussion on Democratic Underground, some participants continued to post farfetched theories about what caused the earthquake based on pseudoscience and conspiracy, and on Wizbang, the vituperation continued unabated, spreading even to many victims of the disaster.

In a widely read post Kevin Aylward acknowledges the "stupid" comments I highlighted and brought to his attention. Then, bizarrely, his friend Paul bends over backwards for the asshole who asked "Can't they swim?" about the tsunami victims.

Paul says (my emph):
We've had the better part of a half a million people show up at Wizbang this week. In that mix, there were a few goofballs who came thru and posted nonsense in the comments. It was pointed out to me by a commenter on another thread last night and I removed all the comments from that post and emailed Kevin that I did it. (it was his post)

[For the record, the guy's question might have been in good faith but taken the wrong way... I deleted it anyway.]

Wizbang is one of the few high traffic blogs left to have unrestricted open comments. We work very hard to keep the comments free of such noise. To say that Wizbang attacked or blamed the victims is simply wrong. It was an ambiguous comment that I deleted anyway.

"Ambiguous"... "Good Faith"? Not if you read the comments attentively. I dispel those possibilities here. And I'll reprint my comment below should it get deleted:

There was plenty of blaming the victim on the comments section of that post, which I assume is what the NYT article is referring to. It was my pleasure to bring it to Wizbang's attention. There were several idiots on that thread, and I copied their drivel and posted it for the record at my blog Your Right Hand Thief.

And, for the record, what I posted was only part of the crap that was on that thread. I brought this to the attention of the Wizbang crew (going OT via the comments, unfortunately) and I was promptly deleted. The second time Paul or Kevin, responded and said he would delete the offensive comments, although, it's interesting that he sometimes finds lefty idiots instructive, while (presumably) righty idiots not so.

Let me also clear up this business about it being an honest question. The same asshat, Matt, who asked "Can they swim?" about the tsunami victims also posted the following, sometimes with variations on his name, but all coming from the same email address.
(Warning: offensive, but since Wizbang is repeatedly giving this questioner the benefit of the doubt, I thought I'd put that to rest):

I agree with matt, it's rediculous that they al died from drowning. GET SOME WATER WINGS OU LOSERS!
Posted by: Steve




Posted by: Im gonna pop your jugualr

Most of these posts had time-stamps within a few minutes of one another, and I'm sure they were all from the same mouthbreather.

A legitimate question? No way.
Posted by: oyster at January 3, 2005 10:24 AM

A bit more about Paul's comment, "To say that Wizbang attacked or blamed the victims is simply wrong. It was an ambiguous comment that I deleted anyway."

The NYT article didn't assert that the Wizbang editors blamed the victims. Also, Paul removed the entire thread, not just one comment. And as I've excessively demonstrated, there were many comments on that thread that were unambiguous. Even my cursory inspection easily revealed that many (but not all) offensive comments were authored by the same fool.

Curious, too, coming from the same Paul (I believe) who recently had this cheapness for Ezra at Pandagon:

"If only you could read, I'd be oh so much more impressed... Before you embarrass yourself further, you might read the comments of that post. Or not." And: "Um dude, learn to read.... Slow down. Read the post(s) then try to reply."

I'd be impressed if Paul followed his own directives.
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Unbought and Unbossed... Shirley Chisholm had guts. 

Whatever else, the Grey Lady still has fine obits for great people.

[Shirley Chisholm] mentioned her hospital visit to George C. Wallace, the Alabama governor who built his political career on segregation, after he had been wounded in an assassination attempt in 1972.

"Black people in my community crucified me," she recalled. "But why shouldn't I go to visit him? Every other presidential candidate was going to see him. He said to me, 'What are your people going to say?' I said: 'I know what they're going to say. But I wouldn't want what happened to you to happen to anyone.' He cried and cried and cried."

"I am, was, and always will be a catalyst for change."

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Sunday, January 02, 2005

When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.  

Sunday's Times-Picayune Living section has a small picture and story about a New Orleanian's heroism during the Great Flood of 1927, the most destructive natural disaster in United States history. (Following excerpt edited for clarity, emphasis mine):

Fourteen inches of rain fell on the city [of New Orleans] on Good Friday, April 15 (1927). To make matters worse, lightning struck at the main power cables of several drainage plants. The storm took many by surprise, stranding thousands of workers in the downtown business district after floodwaters stalled automobiles and forced the closure of public transit lines during rush hour.

Samuel White [a black man in his early 30's], whose home was on railroad property well above the street level in the Edgewood area, noticed the rising floodwaters, so he built a wooden raft by lashing together several beams. He made several trips into low-lying areas, rescuing family after family, taking them to his home and, when it was full, to empty boxcars.

In this makeshift raft, Samuel White rescued 26 families, 25 of whom were white. He and his wife, Marguerite, "cared for and fed the victims, including three sick children, for two days." Afterwards, Mr. White never spoke about what he did, and was never formally honored or recognized for his heroism, despite a write-up in the newspaper.

In 1927, Samuel White saved nearly 100 New Orleanians from rising floodwaters.

Here's a few interesting nuggets I found about the Great Flood's impact:

[When] the flood finally subsided, the disaster had displaced about 700,000 people. About 330,000 African Americans found squalid shelter in 154 relief "concentration camps." Many blacks were unjustly detained and forced to labor at gunpoint.

1927 Great Flood Concentration Camp

Slowly word of the abuses in the refugee camps reaches the Northern press. Once the situation in the refugee camps hits the national press, [Secretary of Commerce] Herbert Hoover initiates an investigation of the reports. His investigators confirm numerous instances of abuse, but Hoover chooses to suppress the report. Hoover, known as "the Great Humanitarian," has his eyes set on the presidency. He has ridden a wave of good publicity from his flood relief efforts, and is determined to maintain his positive image. Hoover forms a Colored Advisory Commission of influential African American conservatives, led by Robert Russa Moton, to further investigate the camps. The commission confirms the initial findings. In exchange for keeping the report quiet, Hoover promises that if he wins the election, he will support the advancement of African Americans, including possible agrarian land reform. Moton agrees, and Hoover is never called to account for the treatment of African Americans in Washington County.

Millions of blacks migrated to the northern cities after many had suffered virtual "re-enslavement" in 1927, working days and nights without compensation to rebuild levies, roads and towns.

At a time when the federal budget barely exceeded $3 billion, the flood, directly and indirectly, caused an estimated $1 billion in property damage. President Calvin Coolidge was opposed to government interventionism, and would not provide federal aid to the victims of the disaster. He even refused to visit the affected areas, because swelling emotions might make him abandon his cherished small government "principles". The reaction to the flood helped propel populist Huey Long to the governor's mansion in Baton Rouge, and Herbert Hoover to the GOP nomination.

Nobody knows exactly how many died in the great disaster. Historians once estimated the death toll at 250 victims, but deaths due to disease and exposure after the immediate flood are hard to tally. John Barry's Rising Tide (1997) estimates that up to 1,000 people, mostly black, died in the Yazoo basin alone.
I wasn't aware of most of this history until today. I guess I should read Rising Tide asap.

Comments from the informed are encouraged.

Herb Hoover fun facts.

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"Can't they swim?... Get some water wings you losers!" 

The title is a quote from a Wizbang! commenter regarding the tsunami disaster in Asia. I wouldn't normally broadcast such stupidity, but apparently the Wizbang! crew finds both comedic and educational value in spotlighting illustrative nimrods. For example, under his "Idiots will be published" post, Wizbang founder Paul Aylward chooses to bring attention to the following idiocy by some loon named Jeff:

Our devil leader has stolen that term ["terrorist"] and remade its newspeak definition to now be anyone who might stand in the way of his grand plan to eliminate all life on Earth. The greatest terrorist of all time. His current body count is on par with the tsunami's, but he's got all the short future of humanity to beat that.

To be sure, it is fairly laughable, but Paul goes on to connect it to a more serious claim that he makes afterwards: "This is why they [Democrats] keep losing elections. Forget the fact they don't really give a shit about their common man... A large hunk of the left is just insane." Later he even went on to say that Jeff's post was a "a perfect icon of what is wrong with the party". Really?

When I asked for clarification, Paul explained that the Left liked madman Howard Dean and believes several factually inaccurate statements. Many Democrats are certifiable, he thinks, and that explains why they have lost recent elections.... sigh. Unfortunately I didn't respond to the purported "fact" that Dems don't "give a shit" about their "common man". Most of us do, I would say. Should circumstances warrant, I would even give a shit about Paul-- and I'd make sure it was an "explosively unique" shit, too.

As Bubba sez: Ok, then.

Turnabout being fair (but ignoble) play, I reminded Wizbang Paul of some truly awful statements made in the comments of one of his many tsunami posts. What generalizations and conclusions should we take from those, I inquired. He more or less dismissed the query, and (thankfully) deleted the whole thread. But I saved some of the offending texts, and will present them for the record, following the "idiots will be published" example.
Can't they swim?
Posted by: Matt

I agree with matt, it's rediculous that they al died from drowning. GET SOME WATER WINGS OU LOSERS!
Posted by: Steve (who had the same email address as Matt)

Well lets get this thing straight? We should help as much as possible? give give give? O i see lets help out these musliums so that they live to kill us later...ya thats the right thing to do who can argue against that! get your heads out of your ass fellow americans. the muslium religion calls for anyone not muslium to be slain plain and simple- if you don't believe me just read the kuran. i've read some of it. believe me if the situation was reversed see who would come to our aid! ya there are a few countries out there that would help. but that is strictly for show..after all they know were there bread is buttered.
Posted by: just me

Anybody who can read can understand from the koran that there is no middle ground for "Allah" - you either believe whatever the lone prophet Mohammed says Allah said, or you must die. This is no religion of peace; it is a cluster of situational ethics that allow its followers to lie and kill in the manner of attaining any goal by any means.
What has "Allah" or Islam ever done for anyone or any country? Let's see the proof! Just like socialism and communism, wherever Islam prevails, people are enslaved, poor, or worse, killed by the so called "clerics" who are unwilling to martyr themselves. Their sheep do that for them; if a harem of virgins is waiting, the leaders should be the first ones to strap on the sticks. And the muslim masses should be celebrating whenever one blows themselves up if they really believe what Mohammed said. But they don't and they won't. What a joke! I have friends who are muslim, that I love, but this going-through-the-motions belief system and these "clerics" that instigate hate ruin life for many. There is no joy in Islam - it is a dead end.
Posted by: You're right

Why is the United States sending relief to two countries (Sri Lanka and India) who together make up 1.1 billion people who hate America? Remember Africa and how they thanked the world for relief? They gave the world AIDS. I say let Darwin's "Law of Natural Selection" dictate who survives and who doesn't. The Earth now sustains well over 6 billion people and it is quickly approaching a breaking point of anarchy or ecological disaster which can be detrimental to all life on Earth. This is why disease, famine, war, and natural catastrophies such as the recent Tsunami are necessary. Do not get me wrong. I do feel for these people however I feel more for what is best for humankind and mothership Earth as a whole. I am looking at the big picture.
Posted by: Manson

Noting that this drivel comprises about a third of the commentary on the thread, what broadbrush conclusions about Republicans or right-wing blogs should we make?


More: in case you didn't know, there was already a blog controversy (oh how exciting!) over a recent Wizbang! post which basically called out lefty blogs for not paying requisite attention to the tsunami tragedy. Apparently the paucity of posts exposed our callousness. Ezra at Pandagon responded rather forcefully ("the most vicious, disgusting post I've seen in my entire time online") to Wizbang's politicization of the issue. If you want, you can relive the thing via the trackbacks. Not a great use of time, though.
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Saturday, January 01, 2005

Reaching out to others who share your goals 

From the AP:

The radical Ansar al-Sunnah Army and two other insurgent groups issued a statement Thursday warning that democracy was un-Islamic. Democracy could lead to passing un-Islamic laws, such as permitting homosexual marriage...

Boy, how ironic would it be if the same fear of gay marriage which helped propel Bush to electoral victory in the U.S. was used by extremists to defeat his commitment to democratic elections in Iraq?

The answer is: "So Very!"

Luckily, I know of a Louisianan who could help. Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, should directly address Ansar al-Sunnah and calm their fears about gay marriage's chances at the ballot box. It's the activist liberal courts that are the real threat. Perkins could reassure these insurgents that appeals to bigotry still win big in conservative democracies. They needn't be alarmed; progressivism can be curtailed with good marketing. Perkins is clearly the one to make this argument because both he (and his flock) have also been chosen by the God of Abraham to win this important fight against gays. To wit:
This is our hour. By God's sovereign design He has chosen this generation to defend His institution of marriage, to save a nation, to preserve civilization. He has chosen you and He has chosen me for such a time as this.

Jeff Crouere has more about Perkins' political prospects in New Orleans CityBusiness (sub req):
Looking ahead: In Louisiana, 2005 will be a year of political preparation for Congressional elections in 2006 and statewide elections in 2007. Republicans are already targeting Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of New Orleans, who faces re-election in 2008. Across the state, billboards have started appearing with Landrieu's picture and the warning, "You're next."

Of course, there is a political eternity between now and 2008. Some Republicans hope Jindal will run against Landrieu while others in the religious right are convinced the best candidate is former Rep. Tony Perkins, who is now president of the Family Research Council.

I'll maintain a discerning eye on Mr. Perkins in coming months. Today I think his expertise is urgently needed in Baghdad.
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Best news I've read all year 

A hearty congratulations to President Bush for increasing the United States' initial tsunami disaster relief pledge from $15 million up to $350 million. Now that's what I'm talking about! Well done. It's the appropriate response and will save and rebuild thousands of lives.

Keep giving, folks! This is a great example to follow.

Thanks, George, for making the compassionate, smart choice. I'll be curious to see what your supporters (who viewed the paltry initial amounts as mega-generous) will say.

Also, it appears the massive earthquake wobbled the earth's orbit, making the next four years slightly shorter than the previous four.... Wonder if it will feel that way.
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