Friday, September 27, 2002

A very good friend of mine has recently pointed out that it won't matter how many people oppose the war since it is highly unlikely that Bush is interested in reelection. Still, one really has to wonder what Republicans are going to do when their constituents are among those who are opposing the war.

Aides to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) counted 5,614 phone calls over the past six weeks, only 136 of which indicated support for unilateral military action, with letters reflecting about the same division. Phone calls to the office of Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) were running 8 to 1 against war, a Frist aide said. Rep. Charles W. Stenholm (D-Tex.), who represents a hawkish district, said calls and letters were running overwhelmingly against a unilateral strike until Bush's speech to the U.N. earlier this month. Now, he said, they are about 50-50. Only a couple of the offices reported a majority in favor of military action, although some questioned whether the communications accurately reflect their constituents' views.

This is a bad idea.

IS Sen. John McCain going to quit the Republican Party and become the running mate of Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race?

Don't be fooled simply because McCain portrays himself as a GOP rebel, lone champion of campaign finance reform and the environment. He's a dyed-in-the-wool conservative.
I was pretty sold on Kerry too. Oh well. Hopefully this is just a rumor. It's troubling though. Have we become so preoccupied with beating the Bushies that we're willing to sell out completely?
You think Daschle took a hit of whatever Gore's been smoking? All kidding aside, FINALLY the Democrats are showing signs of life. Why are they so late in learning what the rest of us have known since the 2000 Election; the Republicansdon't play fair? My guess is a lot of Daschle's indignance yesterdays was repressed frustration at always being the wimpy compromiser. Mediawhores has an email link if you want to congratulate him on finding his voice.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002


Interesting analysis of Iraq debate by
Saletan on Slate,
although I think he misses some rather vital points in


Each school has its problems. If you believe in good will, you
risk being manipulated and abused by foreign governments that don't. Say
you want Russia's help to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution
returning weapons inspectors to Iraq. Russia, which has a huge
commercial stake in Iraq, says it will go along, but only if you remove
the clause authorizing the immediate use of force in the event that Iraq
blocks the inspectors. Russia also wants a free hand to crush Chechen
rebels by means that will probably entail extensive civilian casualties.
The price of good will turns out to be not just a weakening of the
policy for which you seek support, but fear and misery for third parties

I'm not sure that this argument directly applies to the issue at
hand. This situation in Russia exists whether or not one uses Gore's
approach or Bush's. Moreover, if you take the moral high ground with
Gore's approach you can argue that there is a huge discrepancy between
taking out the clause authorizing immediate use of force in Iraq and
giving Russia carte blanche to massacre rebels in Chechnya. With Bush's
approach you run the added risk of pushing Russia further away and
losing all influence. Diplomacy is like that. You can't make omlettes
without breaking eggs. The trick is to break as few eggs as possible.

Saletan goes on to say:

Another problem with the party of good will is its implicit
attitude of passivity and relativism. Describing the resentment of
foreign leaders toward Bush's Iraq policy, Gore stipulated, "Now, my
point is not that they're right to feel that way, but that they do feel
that way. And that has consequences for us." This preoccupation with
consequences others might impose on us, rather than with consequences we
might impose on them, is lazy and self-debilitating. And Gore's
suggestion that we should let that resentment affect our policy without
judging whether it's right or wrong is irresponsible.

I really don’t think that a policy of good will is nearly as
do-nothing as all that. For one thing it’s a misrepresentation of what
Gore actually said. He didn’t say that we should let international
resentment lead the way in dictating our foreign policy nor is he
preoccupied with the consequences that terrorists might impose on us.
What he’s pointing to with these points is that fact that in our history
of waging war in the Middle East we constantly miss opportunities to
build relationships with nations and therefore reduce the risk of
terrorism against us. He specifically points the example of the U.N. as
a case for winning the peace as well as the war. If anything an attitude
of goodwill requires a more active approach to diplomacy and far more
vigilance than a policy of fear. Waging war without fear of consequences
is far more irresponsible.

Saletan does come out more or less on the side of Gore. “Purchasing
the good will of other regimes risks morally ugly consequences,
embracing the exploitation of fear makes such consequences far more
likely.” And he is right in welcoming the debate it opens. But he would
do better to take a more evenhanded approach to Gore’s policy.

Sunday, September 22, 2002:

Excerpt from Maureen Dowd's op-ed piece in today's New York Times:

"The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq. This new fight isn't logical — it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny.

The Bush hawks don't simply want to go back in a time machine and make Desert Storm end with a turkey shoot. They want to travel back even farther to the Vietnam War and write a more muscular coda to that as well.

Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975.

We can't prove it with al Qaeda. That's like grabbing smoke"

Lenora 11:36 AM


Op-ed Sunday

Today is my day to take a break from politics and comment on something relatively frivolous.

Hard as it may be to believe, there was a very brief period in MTV’s “Real Word” history where the show was actually on the verge of being interesting. The San Francisco season was when the people at MTV put themselves on the line and made a public statement on the place of AIDS and homosexuality in mainstream culture. Remember Pedro? I don’t know about you but, for people my age, that was the first time I can recall seeing a real gay relationship depicted frankly and sensitively.

But after that it was as if they got scared by the attention they received for being relevant and fell back on finding these bland standard-issue hot people with serious personality and hormonal issues simply for the salacious voyeuristic effect. Now I’m not one of these people who are against entertainment for entertainment’s sake, but give me a break! At least change the formula people. This is the “Real World” formula as it has been for something like the past seven seasons:
--Seven or eight people who look like they may or may not have been rejects from the latest teenybopper video casting. (You know the type; attractive but in no way memorable) arrive at apartment that is decorated in a painstakingly outrageous fashion.
--immediately the drama ensues given the fact there can never be an equal number of guys and girls. If one of the roommates is gay, the fifth wheel thing doesn’t quite come off, although lately they’ve been upping the ante by occasionally having one gay roommate and one bisexual roommate. Important note here: the gay roommate is nearly always a man and the bisexual roommate is usually female. Rarely do they have a bona fide lesbian on the show. My humble opinion? Bisexual women preserve the male fantasy of girl-on-girl action without any militant overtones.
--There are the obligatory hookups: “I think of all the people here I’ll connect with so-and-so because he/she is so hot/funny/cool/real,” the inevitable disillusionments: “He/she isn’t the person I thought he/she was. Too clingy/petty/etc. and I ain’t feelin’ that.”
-and of course what “Real World” season would be complete without the one roommate nobody can stand? We have Puck to thank for that.

I’m not going to go into all the reasons why the title “The Real World” is a misnomer. If the show was in any way like the real world, who would watch it? But must it be so formulaic? Take this latest crop of Las Vegas roomies. I think with this season MTV is throwing away any claim of legitimacy. In the first place there’s a huge statement being made by having the location be Las Vegas. What better place to really bring out those party instincts? Location is everything, and the pilot season already has one of the females starting out in bed with one guy and ending up in bed with another. I think that’s a “Real World” record. My prediction is Vegas is the star of this season, especially when one examines the roommates. These people not only look like everyone that you or I have ever met, they even resemble each other!

It is one thing to watch a formerly great show lose relevancy and entertainment value, and quite another to watch a mediocre show see how low it can go One could feel sorry for MTV. By being the reality TV trailblazers they have become victims of its hype. The desperation they portray in their constant catering to the lowest common denominator of viewers is pretty indicative that their time has past. As dynamic as the concept of music television was in the early eighties, it created a larger system of image and sexuality on TV, and MTV in trying to defy the stringent radio system has become trapped in a larger system of image-conscious programming that they themselves helped to create.
The show is still compelling in a gaping-at-car-wrecks kind of way. But if you really want edgy television, catch “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” over at UPN. Here’s a show that takes risks. By being so completely out of the realm of reality it enters this safe zone that enables them to confront real world issues on sexuality, the nature of youth, prejudice, and relationships. Ironic that a show on vampires can do so easily what a show based in “the real world” cannot.



Saturday, September 21, 2002:

Well, it's kinda late, but I think I'm going to make it a policy to update on weekends when I can. Dontcha hate waiting for Mondays? If you haven't done so yet, take a gander at the letters to the editor in todays NYT I know one really can't judge what a majority of "regular Americans" are thinking based on the NYT, but isn't it odd that out of ten published letters only two show the kind of rallying support for war on Iraq that is supposedly the majority opinion?

"To the Editor:

Re "Bush Seeks Power to Use 'All Means' to Oust Hussein" (front page, Sept. 20):

I have one question on the eager, headlong rush to war by this administration: Whose lives will be at risk this time?

Like Vietnam, will the cannon fodder again be the children of the working class?

We can be sure that President Bush's children and the children of other politicians will not be at risk; neither will the children of the wealthy be put on the front lines.

It is easy to declare war when you have nothing to lose and are not risking the lives of those close to you.

San Rafael, Calif., Sept. 20, 2002"

One more word on this whole Bush Doctrine insanity: It's plain hypocritical for us to claim to represent all that is free, equal, and moral if we adopt a policy that pretty much amounts to global totalitarianism. How on earth can we turn our backs on the International Criminal Court because it threatens US sovereignity when we expect other nations to shape up or ship out? I have a sneaking suspicion that our foreign policy is really being framed by a bunch of adolescent videogamers bent on virtual world domination. Actually that's more comforting than the truth.



Friday, September 20, 2002:

Usually Fridays are pretty slow news days but today is just jumping with news of the new Bush Doctrine. You can download the pdf at but beware. I'm not sure you want to put 35 pages of something that scary on your hard drive. Is it my imagination or has the US become Rome before the fall or the Third Reich all rolled into one? What happened to the notion of humility in this country?

I'm not feeling particularly well today. I have a paranoid feeling that I have the West Nile Virus. Damn Patrick Leahy!

If you haven't been watching the Daily Show this week you've missed some the most skewering criticism of the Bush Administration to date. How sad is that the network that spawned South Park and the Man Show is also the network with one of most clearheaded accurate reporting I've ever seen? The world is getting stranger and stranger.



Thursday, September 19, 2002:

I’m not sure how this will end up working. This won’t be a personal blog, mostly because a personal blog about my life would be intensely boring. I am starting this blog not for the greater good of blogistan but to keep my head from caving in.

I think I’ll dive right in with this little gem from The Washington Post. I especially love that it closes with this:

Democratic consultant Peter Fenn, who advised former Vice President Al Gore in his 2000 campaign as the Democratic presidential nominee, said Democrats should avoid looking at the war as a campaign issue. "This is the new third rail of politics," he said. "Touch it and you die."

Personally, I have issues with those who blame Gore for “losing” the 2000 Election. But I very much hope that come 2004 this guy Fenn is not on the Gore payroll. This quote smacks of the wishy-washy kind of thinking that tends to get the Dems in trouble. And I am so sick of the word “nonpartisan.” Why must the Democrats always meet the Republicans halfway when the Republicans have never been compromisers?

Lenora1:45 PM