Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cloud cuckoo land, part 2

Andrew Sullivan quotes an email from a reader:

"I'll tell you, being a 16 year-old gay kid in Michigan just got a hell of a lot worse. When I woke up this morning and saw the anti gay marriage proposal had passed, I was shocked. I realized the situation I'm faced with everyday in school - the American people have just shown my classmates that it's perfectly fine to discriminate. A direct quote from a 'friend' at school today: 'It's so cool that all these states just told all the faggots to eat shit and get the hell out...' Because of the above events, I am at a crossroads ... I'm the youngest card-carrying Republican in the county, and am constantly asked to get others involved for Bush/Cheney.

Starting to figure it out, Andrew? Out of Kerry liberals and Bush conservatives, which side is fighting your freedom, Andrew? As "The Bush Dislexicon" points out, Bush was strong on attacking gay rights in his first election campaign, something you were well aware of, and yet you vainly pretended that it was just posturing that wouldn't really affect gay Republicans. After all, you were going to get your fiscal conservatism (ironically, not delivered) and your tax cut and that's all that matters.

As a gay man you countenanced a faustian bargain by climbing in bed with Bush and the Republican party, and now it's biting you in the arse.

Libertarians, gay conservatives, and other useful idiots for the Republicans: you're being played.

Bitterness is my right

You're going to hear a lot about "left-wing bitterness" in the following weeks. We should "accept the result", "embrace Bush's new mandate" and get over it.

Just like the right did when Clinton won in 1996.

Oh wait, they didn't. Instead they spent the next 4 years character assassinating the president and using every possible means to undermine and destroy him. And slandering his liberal supporters as traitorous scum.

There's a pure double standard here: blue state voters are slandered and caricatured as "effete urbanites" who are "out of touch with real America", while the red state voters are portrayed "heartlanders", who themselves of course have no need to respect the strongly opposing moral convictions of their urban, northern compatriots.

Well, our conservative friends have shown us the way. Bitterness is our right. And so I say this: Bush's supporters -- not everyone who voted for him, but those who, this time, had no excuse not to understand his true agenda and yet voted for him anyway -- are true traitors to the ideals of the USA as I understand them. And I would recommend that American liberals, or centrists, or even principled conservatives, can make no accomodation with them.

Intemporate? Maybe. But I tell you what: let Anne Coulter stop calling liberals traitors, and then we can talk about civilising the discourse.

Of course, I'm looking at them from the perspective of an outsider who simply admires aspects of American democracy. Let me tell you where I'm coming from here.

The Culture War

One theory gaining wide credence today is that gay marriage was one the significant wedges in this election, based on the number of voters who listed "morality" as a concern, and the strong suspicion that the anti-gay marriage measure on the Ohio ballot helped Bush. Well, if so, Bush's caricature of Kerry as a Massachusetts liberal sure worked. And yet, what on earth is wrong with a being Massachusetts liberal?

One of my favorite book about America is "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass". In it, Frederick Douglass records, in the heat of civil war, his spirited call for free blacks to join the Union army and put and end to slavery.

By every consideration which binds you to your enslaved fellow-countrymen, and the peace and welfare of your country; by every aspiration which you cherish for the freedom and equality of yourselves and your children; by all the ties of blood and identity which make us one with the brave black men now fighting our battles in Louisiana and in South Carolina, I urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that would bury the government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave. I wish I could tell you that the State of New York calls you to this high honor. For the moment her constituted authorities are silent on the subject. They will speak by and by, and doubtless on the right side; but we are not compelled to wait for her. We can get at the throat of treason and slavery through the State of Massachusetts. She was first in the War of Independence; first to break the chains of her slaves; first to make the black man equal before the law; first to admit colored children to her common schools, and she was first to answer with her blood the alarm cry of the nation, when its capital was menanced by rebels. You know her patriotic governor, and you know Charles Sumner. I need not add more.

The eloquence of this passage is astonishing. And its message of liberty unmistakable. Reading it recently, I couldn't help but think of another "emancipation" in Massachusetts, on February 4, when a court allowed, for the first time anywhere, to allow gays to marry. It may seem strange to link the liberty of slaves to that of gay men and women, and yet there's a common thread running through it: that of the love of liberty. The truth is Massachusetts has always been first. Always been first to champion the cause of liberty, and where such liberty has been cruelly curtailed, to boldly realise the birth of new freedoms for those who have been passed over by the universal guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is that America that I have learned about, and that America that I have learned love and respect, the America that is first to champion every new liberty even as the conscience of mankind shakes off its blinders to first dimly perceive it.

This new America that Bush represents: this southern dominated America that wants, as Bill Bennett says, a culture war to return to "traditional" Christian values that are all too often hypocritical or masks for pure, unreasoning prejudice; this arrogant faction that champions conciliation even as it stacks the supreme court and destroys the honor and moral authority of the USA abroad, who abandons fundamental principles of the constitution, while staving off all criticism by feeding slander and lies through a disciplined, rampantly partisan right-wing press and, whenever pressed, to shout "traitor!" and claim to be the true patriots protecting the USA from the effete liberals: that American I don't recognise. At all.

And yes, I'm bitter about it. Some day I wanted to visit that America I read about, and now I wonder if I ever will.

Cloud cuckoo land

Libertarian bloggers still don't get it...

Glenn Reynolds writes:

NICE BUSH SPEECH, TOO: I hope the conciliatory mood lasts. I listened on NPR, and was happy to hear the NPR folks saying that Bush's popular vote majority erased any concerns about legitimacy from 2000.
HOW CAN BUSH DEMONSTRATE MODERATION? What better way than to nominate Eugene Volokh for the next Supreme Court vacancy? (Thanks to reader Mike McConnell for the suggestion).

When will you get it, Glenn? You're supporting a rabid Christian fundamentalist ideologue who's steamrolled the election with a relentless diet of lies, smears, and outrageously false propaganda from the conservative press. He's not going to be conciliatory. He's not going to be moderate. He's not going to reach out to the 49 percent who didn't vote for him. And he's sure as hell not going to appoint a liberatarian hack lawyer to the Supreme Court. He's going to stack it with ultraconservatives. He wants faith-based initiatives, the war on drugs, and a reversal of Roe vs Wade. And the new line about a "morals-based" voting block suggests a renewed war on porn, "anti-Christan hate speech" (blasphemy) and lots of other things covered by the first amendment.

Oh yeah, but he'll cut your taxes. So none of this other stuff matters. Once again, we find out the only thing libertarians really care about...

Nothing has changed...

The LA times

In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.

...

The senior intelligence official said there was no order for any unit to secure Al Qaqaa. "No way," the officer said, adding that doing so would have diverted combat resources from the push toward Baghdad.
"It's all about combat power," the officer said, "and we were short combat power.

Yep, everything that was true the day before yesterday is true today. It's still true that Bush bumbled the war. It's still true that Bush didn't send enough troops. It's still true that he put explosives in the hands of terrorists.

A new "mandate" doesn't wipe out any of Bush's unfitness for office. And as the scandals break, as Bush reaps what he sows, ... the loyal opposition will be there to make him feel the heat. By the time reality is done with him, Bush's only mandate will be to retire in disgrace.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm so used to being kicked in the teeth with election results...

That I get over it fast now. I've been through denial. I've been through forlorn hope. I've been through despair. I accept the verdict and am ready for four more years of George W. Bush.

I also accept that there's definitely still a very, very slim chance of Kerry pulling a victory out from here. "Pressure to concede" be damned. Quitters give up.

But realistically, I've come to terms with it. It's not like I live over there, after all. And I have the consolation of knowing that even the rabid Bush conservatives now have to deal with a powerful and resolute opposition. Kerry will be painted as a pathetic also-ran by the conservative media, but truth is, with a little more fair coverage, and a lot more of a fair electoral system, Kerry could have pulled it off. And that George W. Bush now has to face the consequences of everything that he has reaped in the past four years.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Go Kerry!

Over the course of the US election campaign I've concluded that John Kerry is a man of many virtues, the chief of which is that he is not George Bush.

However, I've been more than usually inspired by the man himself. Although I am supremely cynical about politicians, I like Kerry on a personal and a principled level. I like him for the very same reason that, in the current climate, Americans regard as a colossal liability: he's a liberal senator from Massachusetts.

If he's not, as the not-quite-non-partisan National Journal didn't say, the most liberal member in the Senate, he's certainly liberal enough: a former anti-Vietnam firebrand, a radical senator ready to take on the worst of corporate miscreants, such as the narcotraffic and terrorist money-launderer BCCI, and a man who's demonstrated his willingness to, yes, tax-and-spend, as opposed to Bush's simple "spend."

If Kerry wins (still a very big "if", despite encouraging signs) what will happen? Kerry will still face a supremely hostile Republican dominated legislature, with intense pressure to be just as "tough" on national security as George Bush was... will he be able to do any good at all? Can he afford to end rendition or the torture camps? Can he do anything to restore lost civil rights at home? And restore any honour at all in the eyes of the people of Iraq? Will it be that the American people decide that however much the Christian in them doesn't like it, national security requires cutting a swathe of brutality and torture through the ranks of the guilty and innocent alike? As the conflict in Iraq cranks up, will Kerry be left in the position of instituting, as President, something morally equivalent to the very free-fire zones that as a 27 year old he decried?

And on domestic policy, will Kerry really be able to fund his promises for healthcare and education? His tax rollbacks are certainly not anywhere near enough to swing the budget back into the black. Does he do a George Bush the senior and pass tax increases despite his promises? Can he get his public healthcare proposal passed in a country where any increase in public funding for healthcare is viewed as close incipient socialism? Like Clinton, will he poison his legacy with the left by being unable to deliver on any of his projects?

These are big questions. But first Kerry needs to win the election. What happens if Bush wins another term is practically unthinkable. But somehow, if Kerry does pull it off I think we'll be alright. The man, quite simply, has character. He's a genuinely good man, with a good conscience, who served in Vietnam with bravery and then took a major risks to protest what he saw as an unjust war, at substantial personal and political cost. An action that's still costing him to this very day.

I think Kerry has it in him to be one of the truly great American presidents. Even among his supporters, few seem to think this. But I see the man, and I see someone who has been gifted with strong principles, and yet has learned and mastered political pragmatism. This is an unstoppable political combination. It's what Lincoln had.

I'm not expecting miracles. I'm not expecting camelot. But I am expecting something far more from the man than most American Democracts seem to expect.

But first, of course, he has to win. Oh please, oh please. I care about this one far more than the Australian election. This election has consequences. For the whole world.

Let's see -- how wrong can you be?

John R. Miller of The Corner predicts Bush in a comparatively easy victory: If these results hold--no vote-splitting in Maine, no faithless electors, etc.--then Bush wins 300 [electoral votes] to 238.

When "Corner" blowhards are defiantly insisting on anything other than an absolutely razer-close race, you know wishful thinking has taken over.

Elsewhere on the Corner, they're starting to sweat....

Talking to a GOPer pollster type this morning, he warns me, "i want to prepare you for a likely Bush loss." He's worried Ohio and Wisconsin are worse than we know because of the economy. And, generally--which is a point multiple people have consistently brought up-the numbers are just so much closer than they should be for an incumbent.

And the latest news? Of all the polls, Fox News's poll has Bush down two points to Kerry!

Tim Blair also inspires confidence:

My election prediction, by the way: narrow popular-vote win to Bush, biggish electoral college win to Bush.
Tim Blair's prediction track record has taken at least one major blow this week:

OSAMA BIN LADEN IS DEAD, and al Qaeda confirms it

For mine? I know better than to utter predictions. But if it's true what they say, that the polls are actually underestimating Kerry's level of support, then it's Kerry in a comparative landslide.