Sine Qua Non Pundit

And what is good, Phaedrus, And what is not good -- Need we ask anyone to tell us these things? ------ ------ ------ ------ E-mail: charlesaustin@earthlink.net

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Friday, December 20, 2002
 

Congratulations Mac

Allow me to offer the oblogatory, though belated, congratulations on reaching War Liberal's one year blogiversary.



 

I'm Impressed

Cough! Cough!



 

If Patty Murray Represents America, Then The Terrorists Have Won

The roar of silence from the Democrats will no doubt be deafening over this:

Why is terrorist leader Osama bin Laden so popular in some parts of the world? Perhaps, said Sen. Patty Murray, it's because he and his supporters have spent years building good will in poor nations by helping pay for schools, roads and other infrastructure. At an appearance before a high school honors class, the Washington Democrat offered what her spokesman called an intentionally provocative challenge for students to ponder. "We've got to ask, Why is this man so popular around the world?," Murray said during an appearance Wednesday at Columbia River High School. "Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty?" The answers may be uncomfortable, but are important for Americans to ponder -- particularly students, Murray said. "He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that," Murray said. "How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"

Answers: Maybe Osama bin Laden is popular with a lot of the third world because they've been feed nothing but propoganda their whole lives, and combined with the never ending stream of self-loathing from Americans like Senator Murray, they see no reason to change. Of course, all of this assumes that Osama bin Laden really is popular, but that's another post. As to building infrastructure, Senator Murray is frankly, an idiot. Both in her perception of what Osama bin Laden has done and what the US has done. And to think she beat Slade Gorton.

I'm curious, is the Senate collectively trying to recreate Joe Louis' Bum of the Month club, and now it's a Democrat's turn in the barrel?

DOWNDATE: The watcher is correct. It was Maria Cantwell that beat Slade Gorton. My bad. But I think my sin was a mistake of fact, which was quickly corrected as soon as it was pointed out. Senator Murray's problems go way beyond simple factual errors.



 

Purge

It is time for a purge. After reading of Congressman Ballenger's "segregationist feelings":

Ballenger, a North Carolina Republican, said former Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., so provoked him that "I must I admit I had segregationist feelings." "If I had to listen to her, I probably would have developed a little bit of a segregationist feeling," Ballenger told The Charlotte Observer in Friday's editions. "But I think everybody can look at my life and what I've done and say that's not true. I mean, she was such a bitch."

I'm not sure that anything less is appropriate. I'm certainly no fan of Cynthia McKinney, but what unique brand of mental deficiency is required for a nine-term Congressman to make the leap from "Cynthia McKinney is a loon" to "perhaps segregation is a good thing?" This kind of thinking is inherently racist and poisons the well in and of itself, as well as encouraging people like Bill Clinton or E.J. Dionne to come on down and poison it some more. Note to Mr. Dionne, just because the principle of state's rights was used to defend segregation in the past doesn't mean that state's rights as a principle of federalism and limited government is wrong. The illiberal utopian impulse to impose their perfect society an a free people is never clearer than when they take up the argument against state's rights.

I am disgusted. Waking up at 3 AM with vertigo is bad enough. I didn't need to read crap like this as well.



Thursday, December 19, 2002
 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXII

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

On the sixth day of Cohen, my pundit gave to me Bill Clinton lying
George Bush as Ike
Christian bigotry
Saud perfidy
Duke his doggy love
And a critique of Homeland Security.

Four years on and Richard Cohen is still providing yet another defense of Bill Clinton’s abuse of the public trust with his private tryst in the Oval Office (and the subsequent perjury that got him disbarred), polishing the turd of Bill Clinton’s legacy when the integrity of the Democratic Party, the feminist movement, and a whole gaggle of sycophants was sacrificed to protect a human slug who would discard them in a New York minute if he thought it would save his sorry hide. Sure, this column masquerades as a criticism as President George W. Bush’s selection of a couple of Iran-Contra players because they – gasp! – lied to Congress, but it's just another apologia for Bill Clinton. Well, even granting Mr. Cohen’s disgust with Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter, if the best he has to offer in Bill Clinton’s defense is immoral equivalence, well, that’s really not saying very much now, is it? Do you really think that Mr. Cohen would have willingly sent Mr. Abrams and Mr. Poindexter to jail in fair trade for the impeachment of the Wizard of “Is”? No? Maybe this is the true meaning of Liars' Legacy:

Damn!"

“We’re in a tight spot!”

I'm in Bill Clinton's head as he reads the morning papers, and this is the first thing I hear.

Bill Clinton’s head. Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo, shudder. (Another sentence asking if this was a euphemism for something rhyming with “euphemism” has been deleted, because; well, because it’s Christmas damnit.)

I have to squeeze past Bill Safire, whose literary device I am expropriating, and I arrive just as Clinton turns to the story saying that Elliott Abrams has been named the Bush administration's Middle East honcho.

I haven’t read Mr. Safire’s column, but why’s he slummin’ around in Bill Clinton’s head? Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo, shudder.

A blast of white heat engulfs me.

The self-righteous anger of an illiberal cannot be assuaged with time. Utopians never forgive nor forget. Remember that when we get to Senator Lott.

"Can you believe that?" I hear him say. "Elliott Abrams, the same guy who twice lied to Congress. He pleaded guilty to withholding information from a Senate committee and then a House committee. The only reason he wasn't strung up for perjury is that he wasn't under oath.

Kind of anxious to "lynch" somebody isn't he? Remember this later. But what’s Bill Clinton’s reason again for not being "strung up" for perjury? But is this a tacit admission on the part of Mr. Cohen interpreting the thoughts of Mr. Clinton that it is indeed wrong to lie under oath and that it is perhaps worse than not telling the truth when not under oath?

A distinction without much of a difference, if you ask me.

Sigh. Now he’s arguing about the meaning of words. I feel a digression about the meaning of “is” coming on.

"This guy could have taught me some lessons. He was asked if the Reagan administration had solicited a $10 million loan from the Sultan of Brunei for the Nicaraguan contras. He said the report was 'false.' Later he said the answer was technically correct because the money hadn't yet arrived. It's all a matter of tense -- a case of what you mean by 'is,' if you know what I mean.”

Damn.

Damn.

Double dog damn.

"The second lie was even more of a jaw-dropper.”

Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo, shudder. Is it me or is the recurrent symbolism of Bill Clinton’s patriarchal abuse of his position with a lowly intern impossible to avoid?

“He denied that the Reagan administration was helping the contras. I just looked up what he said. 'It's not our supply system.' But it was their supply system. And Congress had passed a law forbidding aid to the contras. He broke the law. He lied about it. He got convicted and then he got a presidential pardon from Papa Bush. “

So then there’s no reason he can’t serve now, right? That would be President George H. W. Bush, you disrespectful pardoner of Carlos Vignali and Marc Rich.

"I don't get it."

Perhaps because she is still pissed off about Monica.

"I lied about sex, which, of course, wasn't really sex anyway, and I got impeached for it.”

Uh, don’t forget the “under oath” part. It’s kind of important.

Anger. Denial. We’ve still got to live through bargaining, depression and acceptance yet.

Sigh.

“All these Republicans were jumping up and down, saying my case wasn't really about sex but about the rule of law.”

Because it was true? And so far as I know, the only member of Congress with a reputation for jumping is Senator Jim Jeffords.

“No man can be above the law.”

Maybe they should have settled for, “No intern can be below the desk.”

“Yeah, right! But no man tells the truth about sex, either -- not that it was really sex.”

Unless they are under oath and have a shred of decency and honor. And it is sex, you sleazeball bastard.

"You know what Abrams said later in his book? He was the victim of an overzealous prosecutor.”

Yeah, right!

“What does he know about an overzealous prosecutor?”

Uh, being prosecuted by one? Especially by one Lawrence Walsh, who single-handedly demonstrated the unique havoc a special prosecutor can wreak. Remember Larry’s October surprise reindictment of Caspar Weinberger 4 days before the election? And wasn’t Mr. Walsh the guy who called a press conference to announce that those he was investigating were guilty, even though he couldn’t prove it? My memory is a bit fuzzy here, but I think I’m remembering this correctly.

“Keyhole Ken Starr …”

Keyhole? Keyhole?

“… took a bogus sexual harassment charge by what's-her-name, Paula Jones…”

Having trouble remembering all the alleged raped or abused women in your past?

“… and turned it into a capital crime.”

Capital crime? And this amoral wart-spreading toad taught constitutional law?

“Before you knew it, Monica was emptying her closet, her computer was being ransacked, her unsent e-mails were being published and her mother was being dragged before a grand jury.”

Only because the Clinton Administration did everything it could to pervert the course of justice in the investigation, including some finger wagging and committing perjury.

“Overzealous prosecutor? Abrams was prosecuted by one of Santa's elves.”

Lawrence Walsh. Santa’s Elf. Won’t the kids in his neighborhood be surprised?

"I got to be careful what I think. I never know who's in here with me.”

Ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo, shudder. Being Bill Clinton. I wonder what floor the portal into his mind is located on?

“But look what's happening. John Poindexter is back in the government. Another liar. No sex, just policy.”

Some lies are more equal than others, apparently. But lets’ not forget that Poindexter was convicted and shamed. When Bill Clinton has paid his debt to society let me know.

“It took a collection of right-wing appeals court judges to reverse his conviction on a technicality. If liberal judges had done that, every Republican in Congress would be running around screaming, 'Strict construction, strict construction.' “

Bill Clinton should be very happy the Senate didn’t apply strict construction at his impeachment trial. Because we all know he was guilty. Guilty as sin.

"But this Abrams thing really frazzles me. Where's Henry Hyde bellowing about how the government can't function if officials don't tell the truth?”

The unmitigated gall. Abrams and Poindexter’s sins do not excuse his.

“'Truth-telling is the heart and soul of our justice system,' he told the House when they were trying to lynch me.“

Well, those Republicans were just trying to do what they do in the back roads every day. This projection of Bill Clinton’s thoughts by Richard Cohen is showing us the mind of a sociopath.

"And what about Tom DeLay, that sanctimonious hypocrite? He and Hyde are in Congress, the very body that Poindexter and Abrams lied to. Not a peep, though.”

What about them? Maybe they thought that Abrams and Poindexter’s actions were appropriate, I don’t know. I don’t think they should have lied to Congress, but hearing Bill Clinton call someone else a sanctimonious hypocrite for any reason whatsoever is a bit much.

“So it isn't just about truth. It's about ideology and politics.”

Just like the vote in the Senate for Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

“These guys will get on the radio with Oliver North or Gordon Liddy,...

Two of the illiberals favorite strawbogeymen.

"... but they only care about truth, honesty and the American way when a Democrat's involved. “

At least they care about truth, honesty and the American way sometime.

“Republicans can lie but Democrats can't.”

Puhleeze.

“I guess it's a rule, but I don't like it.”

Never underestimate the size of the blind spot in Richard Cohen’s ideological rearview mirror.

"I know what they're gonna say. They're gonna say I lied to protect myself.”

It’s still all about him. Amazing, isn’t it?

“It was selfish. And Abrams lied to protect a secret policy. That was noble.”

Ignoble actually, but at least he didn’t ask anyone else to go and lie for him.

“But you can't allow government officials to decide for themselves when to lie and when to tell the truth. They all gotta tell the truth, especially to Congress.”

And grand juries.

"Bush ran on this platform of moral purity.”

Did he? I though it was moral probity, rather than moral purity. (Heh, heh, he said probity.)

“Then he turns around as president and chooses liars for high government positions and no one says a peep.”

Of course, there were no liars in the Clinton administration. After all, they kept all the promises they meant to keep.

“I'm waitin' on those hyperventilating hypocrites on talk TV to say something. The country's about to go to war on little more than the president's word.”

The president’s word. And Saddam’s lies. And Saddam's deeds. And Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. And the memory of all the souls that have died because of Saddam’s evil regime. But, at least we can trust this president’s word, and that's sufficient in this case.

If Saddam tried to kill Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush did nothing but launch a few cruise missiles, can you imagine the state of apoplexy it would induce in Paul Begala, Lanny Davis, and James Carville?

“Maybe he won't lie. But he's hired people who have. “

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

"I've got to stop reading the papers. Nothing makes sense anymore.”

It’s a bitch not being taken seriously anymore isn’t it?

“I should have been born a Republican. “

Perhaps, but then he wouldn’t have been able to use his demagoguery and race baiting tactics that he honed over the years. And of course, he would have been thrown out on his ass by his own troops under similar conditions. Right Trent?

“It's even better than being in love. You never, ever, have to say you're sorry.”

I’ll say it for you, “Bill Clinton, you’re sorry. You’re a sorry POS.”

"Damn."

“Were in a tight spot!” Especially when a reputable paper continues to give Richard Cohen space to defend Bill Clinton’s reprehensible actions in office and try to drag down others for lesser sins while managing to still excuse the boy president’s transgressions. The Dick in Bill's head is still trying to excuse the willy in Willard's pants.

What an asshole.



Wednesday, December 18, 2002
 

Why Are They Doing This?

When it comes to Barbra, Sean, Susan, Alec, Gore, Viggo, and others in the entertainment industry weighing in against America, just remember that they and their press agents believe there is no such thing as bad publicity. Or as Oscar Wilde said, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."



 

TTT Pre-View

I haven't seen it yet, but I've read an awful lot about it, and here's a few comments and thoughts.

One has to pace oneself for a three hour movie, and having 20-25 minutes of commercials in front of the movie does not help much.

The most insightful comment I've read thus far was when one reviewer noted that each character realizes at a different time that this is his fight, not Frodo's or everyone else's.

Why are folks so concerned about spoilers? It's not like I haven't read the whole LOTR trilogy at least three times already. However much Peter Jackson may be changing the storyline, it can't be anything compared to what I already know going in. Even with the changes I've picked up from reading all the reviews I can find, the LOTR movies still seem to be more faithful to the books than most filmed adaptations of other books.

I wonder how Viggo Mortenson can play Aragorn so well, when he doesn't seem to understand the motivation of his character. If he did, I wouldn't think he'd being wearing a "No Blood For Oil" shirt around and dithering on about American imperialism. President George W. Bush as Saruman (or Sauron)? Nah.

Why aren't theaters showing FOTR at the same time in the theaters. It would almost certainly do better than most of the other crap they have out now. Even though it's been out on DVD for a while and it's on cable now, watching it on the big screen with the audio in the theaters is so much better, and most of the geeks (including me) would sit for 7 hours and watch them back to back. They'd even pick up some viewers who'd watch FOTR if they couldn't get tickets for TTT.

I'm wondering if TTT isn't suffering from expectations that are so very, very high based upon FOTR and the trailers? The technical accomplishments are phenomonal from everything I've read, and I've yet to encounter anyone who was fond of Tolkein that hasn't felt that this adaptation is marvelous. Compare TTT to any of the other movies currently being screened. Even though a lot of advances have been made with CGI, Peter Jackson and his team are getting a whole lot right besides that. Can we expect the success of LOTR to spawn a series for the Dune books or the Foundation Trilogy (and then some)?

All in all, it kind of makes you wish each movie was four hours long with an intermission doesn't it? Has any extended version of a DVD release ever been so anxiously anticipated? Or a second sequel? If the terrorists interfere with me seeing ROTK, I'm really going to be pissed.



 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXXI

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

On the fifth day of Cohen, my pundit gave to me George Bush as Ike
Christian bigotry
Saud perfidy
Duke his doggy love
And a critique of Homeland Security.

Richard practices his backhand compliments in Adlai and Ike All Over Again:

Is Al Gore destined to be the Adlai Stevenson of our age?

Wouldn’t Al have to actually finish his graduate studies first? I was born and raised in Illinois and attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I take it as something of an insult to one of Illinois’ favorite sons to have him compared to Al Gore.

Stevenson, who also came from a political family (his grandfather was Grover Cleveland's vice president), won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1952 and 1956 and both times was defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower.

I like this pattern. Run, Al run!

Stevenson was considered an intellectual -- an "egghead" in the jargon of the day -- witty and erudite. Ike, on the other hand, was a clumsy speaker, a syntax-mangler who supposedly thought no great thoughts.

Why would the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in WW II be required to think any great thoughts? This statement is so very revealing, if only the Democrats had a mirror.

He won both times in a walk.

The electoral vote in 1952 was 442-89. In 1956, Stevenson’s electoral votes fell to 73. I would see this pattern being repeated if Al chose to run again.

If my reference to Eisenhower brings George W. Bush to mind, it is supposed to.

Actually, I was thinking more of President Reagan, but if Richard wants to use Bush, I’ll roll with it.

The two are hardly the same, of course. Ike was a war hero who, for most of his career, so obfuscated his political leanings that both Democrats and Republicans wanted him to be their presidential candidate.

Maybe Secretary of State Colin Powell is a better fit for this column.

And when he did run for the White House, he did not eke out a victory -- no hanging chads for him -- but neatly trounced Stevenson. America really liked Ike.

Or maybe President Reagan.

Democrats were perplexed.

A terminal condition, but one in which the patient steadfastly refuses to improve.

To them, Ike was a bumbler, something of a political coward as well. He had refused to publicly rebuke that red-baiting demagogue, Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. Ike was both slow and reluctant to bring what was then called the "moral suasion" of the White House down on the side of the nascent civil rights struggle. And he appeared to be a delegator's delegator -- so detached from the workings of his own White House that sometimes he seemed ignorant of what was going on. He was Reagan before Reagan.

Richard’s catching on. Slowly.

But what really mystified many Stevenson fans was how the country did not appreciate that their man was brilliant and Ike a fool.

The Democrats dislike and lack of appreciation for the professional military has a long, sorry tradition.

These people judged both men as if they were taking their orals -- the way they spoke, the clarity of their thoughts, just the right reference to something from the classics. Stevenson could do that; Ike could not.

But the comparison to Al Gore is really starting to break down here as well. The way Al speaks? Al’s clarity of thought? His reference to the classics?

If anything, Bush is sometimes characterized as even more of a cartoon figure -- a man of such mangled syntax he makes Ike seem downright Shakespearean.

Sometimes?

And yet, as Bob Woodward shows us in his new book, "Bush at War," Bush had what it took to lead his contentious war cabinet and, much more important, the nation in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sure, President George W. Bush can lead the nation, but The Nation doesn’t think so.

His performance has not been without glitches and mistakes, but in his demeanor, his body language -- his something -- he has won the confidence of the American people.

The details in Woodward's book are riveting -- he's not the proverbial fly on the wall, he's the wall itself -- but they don't change the larger picture. The proof of Bush's performance is in the pudding. He did not merely lead the GOP to victory in the recent midterm election, he emerged as the country's dominant politician -- popular in general, adored within his own party. For the moment, at least (a columnist's dodge), he seems in sync with the nation.

Hmm, how long is this momentary lapse of partisanship going to last?

And yet in certain Democratic circles, the caricature of Bush as a fool clings with great tenacity. Daily, it seems, I get yet another Bush joke via e-mail. Some of them make me laugh, even though I know the basis for them is untrue. But the people who send them aren't laughing at the assumption. They believe it. To be blunt, they think the president is a dope.

Starting with Al Gore and his staff.

As some of us learned in high school, verbal agility ain't everything. No one would dispute that Gore has it…

Uh, well, I’ll dispute it. Al Gore has verbal diarrhea, not verbal agility. There is a difference.

… and yet presidentially speaking, he doesn't get the girl.

Wince! After Bill Clinton’s, uh, performance, I wouldn’t have thought Richard would go there.

Just recently, for instance, the New York Times found in a poll that Gore was rated favorably by only 19 percent of respondents -- and unfavorably by 43 percent.

The truth hurts.

Gore is now considering whether to run for president again.

Unfortunately, with the delay in getting to this column, we all know how this one ends.

If he does, he will be the presumptive front-runner, the candidate with the greatest name recognition if not the greatest claim on the nomination: He actually won the popular vote last time out.

But he didn’t. And with Al out of the race in 2004, maybe we won’t have to hear anything further about the angry white van of the popular vote for at least another 4 or 5 years.

Still, now is not then, and the Bush of the campaign is not the Bush in the White House.

Unlike Bill Clinton who was always in campaign mode -- and still is.

More and more, Bush is looking like Ike.

Winning a major war that threatens our survival.

And more and more, Gore is looking like Stevenson.

No, he’s losing like Stevenson, but Al Gore is no Adlai Stevenson.



 

The Scourge of Richard Cohen, Vol. LXX

(Ed. -- The following is a bit of mean spiritedness that will be an on-going feature of this blog. Normally the author will endeavor to be reasonably fair, but this is an exception.)

On the fourth day of Cohen, my pundit gave to me Christian bigotry
Saud perfidy
Duke his doggy love
And a critique of Homeland Security.

Tonight’s music to soothe the savage beast as I decompose this Scourge is The Roches'We Three Kings.” Richard focuses on three unwise men in the crudely mislabeled Imams of Inanity:

Back in October the Rev. Jerry Falwell called Muhammad, the founder of Islam, a terrorist.

Silly Jerry, Muhammad was a freedom fighter. Well, technically he was an anti-freedom fighter since he and his followers enslaved many of the indigenous peoples around them or put them to the sword. But calling him an anti-terrorist makes even less sense.

This set off riots in India and may have contributed to the good showing of religious parties in the Pakistani election.

The Religion of Peace™ never fails to provide good copy.

About two weeks after he made the remark, Falwell retracted it. I think Falwell is an idiot. I will issue a retraction later.

I think Richard Cohen is an idiot.

(Pause.)

That sound you haven’t heard isn’t the other shoe dropping.

In the meantime, I will concern myself with the Rev. Pat Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition, who has conferred on Islam in general the distinction of being worse than Hitler. "Adolf Hitler was bad, but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse," Robertson said recently.

Worse? Difficult to say, really. Isn’t that kind of like saying its worse to be killed with by gun than with a knife? Or with Zyklon B rather than Semtex?

And rather than apologize or retract in the manner of Falwell, Robertson went on ABC's "This Week" and repeated it all to George Stephanopoulos.

Small-minded consistency remains the hobgoblin of the consistently foolish.

Jews might quibble. In the first place, it's impossible to conceive how anyone could be worse than Hitler.

Concur, though it might be just as bad.

Second, Jews familiar with history might note that from Spain to Baghdad, it was the Islamic world that offered the Jews of the Middle Ages a fair degree of toleration -- not the Christian West.

True, to a point, though there were pockets of Europe that offered peace to Jews from time to time, and I don’t think the Rev. Robertson’s remarks were offered as a criticism of medieval Islamic tendencies, but those since 1947 or so as they relate to Jews.

If there is anything inherently genocidal and anti-Semitic in Islam, it was somehow overlooked by most Muslims at that time.

So, by this reasoning, since the Pilgrims got on fabulously for a time with the Native Americans who helped them survive, there’s no point in dwelling on the virtually genocidal policies towards Native Americans for the next 300 years. Right?

Radical Islam, like radical anything, is a different matter entirely. As Robertson pointed out, Islamic clergy in too many Islamic countries have been permitted by their governments to traffic in the worst sorts of anti-Jewish -- and anti-Christian -- stereotypes.

Permitted? So much for the separation of church and state, eh Dick?

Still, distinctions have to be made and contexts taken into account.

Oh? So from this date forth, we should expect no further historical revisionism on the part of Richard Cohen, judging the past by today’s standards. This ought to be interesting.

To sweepingly liken a thousand-year religion of a billion people to the ultimate in modern evil -- Hitler -- is reckless, ahistorical and just plain insulting.

Perhaps Jews could call them the penultimate modern evil. Is that better?

After Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush went out of his way to emphasize that the enemy of the United States was not Islam but extremists who in no way were representative of the religion.

No way. Way. So President George W. Bush has done something acceptable in Richard’s eyes? Careful, something doesn’t smell right.

He has repeated this message over and over, recently distancing himself from the anti-Islamic remarks of certain conservative Christian leaders -- Falwell, Robertson and the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham. Franklin Graham called Islam "evil."

To fundamentalist Christians, Zoroastrians and Manicheans are evil too. Big deal.

Oddly enough, Bush is in somewhat the same position as certain political leaders in the Muslim world. He too is finding it awkward to deal with crackpot religious leaders.

The Reverends Jackson and Sharpton come to mind.

America's religious fundamentalists are Bush's core political constituency.

All 2% of them.

He relied on them in South Carolina, for instance, to defeat Sen. John McCain in the Republican presidential primary.

The whiff of guilt by association is wafting through the air. So that’s what I smelled before when Richard was trying to make nice with President George W. Bush.

The last thing the United States needs is for the war against terrorism to become one between Christianity and Islam -- or, if you wish, the Judeo-Christian culture and the Muslim one.

Regrettable as it would be for the United States or the Judeo-Christian culture, it is the Muslim world that has this battle last on its wish list. If it came to this, they would cease to exist.

If that is allowed to happen, then Muslims who abhor Osama bin Laden and all he stands for will be compelled to take sides on the basis of religion, not ideology or politics. That would be disastrous.

For them more than us.

But just as I and others have held certain Islamic regimes -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. -- responsible for the hate speech of religious leaders, so will Bush be held responsible for the rantings of Falwell, Robertson, Graham and others.

What? Does Richard think this is England where Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell decides what the acceptable theology will be or where Prime Minister Tony Blair appoints an honorary druid to head the Church of England? When Falwell, Robertson, and Graham begin taking their marching orders from President George W. Bush because he is the president, we’ll revisit this topic. Until then, it’s poppycock.

After all, they are not peripheral figures.

Yes, they are.

They are now mainstream religious leaders, courted by political leaders of both parties (especially the GOP) and treated with great, if undeserved, respect.

No, they straddle a few little streams that feed some religous backwaters. But it’s clear how much respect Richard Cohen has for them.

Bush felt close enough to Franklin Graham, whose father has been a longtime Bush family friend, to have asked him to speak at his inauguration.

Oh, the shame! Remember when the Reverend Jesse Jackson come to counsel and console President Bill Clinton after his follies with Monica? We now know how hard it was for Jesse to drag himself away from his mistress and their love child, but when the President calls, you must answer – unless your Dr. Henry Kissinger or former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, in which case, your desire to make money off those who might be enemies of America overrides your sense of duty.

Bush has yet to denounce these preachers by name.

Perhaps, because there are more pressing matters?

Robertson and Falwell, you will recall, were quick to blame the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on God's wrath over liberal tendencies in the United States -- gay rights, for instance.

They’ve been blaming every ill in America on the same root causes for 30 years. So what else is new?

When it comes to blaming, perhaps Robertson's personal best can be found in his book "The New World Order," in which he attributes the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth to "European bankers" (Page 267).

Hey, I’m, convinced. Pat Robertson is a loon. But isn’t he kind of an easy target when you get right down to it? Yeah, yeah, so I keep picking on Richard Cohen too.

It is easy enough to have fun with such nonsense, but the situation is in fact sad. Falwell, Robertson and Graham are among the most famous ministers of our time, replacing the learned and, yes, liberal ones who offered the nation moral instruction during the civil rights era and the Vietnam War.

Huh? Most famous is a relative term. The number of people that hang on the pronouncements of Jerry Falwell is pretty damn small. And I would note that the men who have tried on the clothes of Dr. Martin Luther King since his death have brought just as much shame on themselves as Richard’s three fundamentalist stooges.

Now we have preachers who do not counsel toleration and understanding, but a sort of bigotry -- an ugly and sweeping vilification of a whole people, in the manner of the very Islamic radicals they condemn.

Kind of like the Imams and the J-E-W-S.

Now I must make my retraction. Okay, Falwell is not an idiot.

Well, as Richard noted above, perhaps if we make distinctions and take contexts into account.

Robertson is.

Sorry, I’ll be holding that other shoe for a long, long time.



 

Where Do I Apply For The Large Defense Grant?

According to ABCNews:

Military Seeking Radical Ways of Stumping Need for Sleep

Shoot, I figured this out years ago. Get a job, buy a 60 year old house, have a couple of kids, and start blogging.

Where do I apply for the large defense grant?




 

Republicans Are Racists

Former President Clinton said Wednesday it is "pretty hypocritical" of Republicans to criticize incoming Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott for stating publicly what he said the GOP does "on the back roads every day." "How do they think they got a majority in the South anyway?" Clinton told CNN outside a business luncheon he was attending. "I think what they are really upset about is that he made public their strategy."

Bill Clinton is an ass. But you already knew that.

This is despicable. Impugning the motives of people is what is poisoning politics these days, and casually calling people racists because you don't like them or want to beat them in an election is as bad, if not worse, than what Trent Lott did. I hadn't realized that I could think less of Bill Clinton than I already did.

By the way, weren't Strom and his friends called Dixiecrats rather than Dixiecans?



 

No Blood For Oil

I filled up my car yesterday and tried to trade blood for their refined crude, but they insisted on cash.

Bastards.

I know that some of you won't understand, but I guess there'll be no further Youngian (or Jungian) punnery about milking blood to keep from running out when it comes to the damage done to my wallet as the needle edges closer to E.



Monday, December 16, 2002
 

He Must Have Read the Early Reviews of His SNL Gig

So Al's grasp of reality has grown by 400%. Or maybe he's waiting by the phone for that groundswell of support to beg him to please run again?



Sunday, December 15, 2002
 

Darn

I missed Al and Tipper on SNL last night.

There. I'm over it now.



 

Keep Digging Trent, Your Circle of Hell Is Down There Somewhere

According to Senator Mitch McConnell:

“Leaders who are ousted tend to leave altogether,” he said in his voice-of-doom baritone. “That is what Newt Gingrich did. That is what Jim Wright did. They don’t stick around.” If Lott left, he noted, the Democratic governor of Lott’s home state of Mississippi would name one of his own as a replacement. Republicans relishing the return of perks, power and committee chairmanships could forget it. Instead, they would face the kiss-your-sister chaos of a 50-50 Senate.

If this is even remotely close to being true then Trent should be shown the door. And make sure it hits him in the ass on the way out. I'd rather deal with the "chaos" of a 50-50 Senate than have a 51-48-1 Senate with Trent Lott in charge. As if anyone needed further evidence that Trent Lott is all about nothing but Trent Lott.

Do the Republicans in charge have a friggin clue what leadership is all about?





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