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Friday, November 05, 2004

Misperceptions of the right 

Plenty of other people, more eloquent than me, have had their say about Jane Smiley's Slate piece. So I will add only one simple observation about the consistency of Smiley's argument.

Compare the central point of each of the following two paragraphs:

Here is how ignorance works: First, they put the fear of God into you—if you don't believe in the literal word of the Bible, you will burn in hell. Of course, the literal word of the Bible is tremendously contradictory, and so you must abdicate all critical thinking, and accept a simple but logical system of belief that is dangerous to question. A corollary to this point is that they make sure you understand that Satan resides in the toils and snares of complex thought and so it is best not try it.

Next, they tell you that you are the best of a bad lot (humans, that is) and that as bad as you are, if you stick with them, you are among the chosen. This is flattering and reassuring, and also encourages you to imagine the terrible fates of those you envy and resent. American politicians ALWAYS operate by a similar sort of flattery, and so Americans are never induced to question themselves. That's what happened to Jimmy Carter—he asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted. The history of the last four years shows that red state types, above all, do not want to be told what to do—they prefer to be ignorant. As a result, they are virtually unteachable.
Does anyone else see the contradictions?

First, you've got to do what you're told, abdicate critical thinking, stop questioning.

Then, by some really nifty trick, you have to also "not want to be told what to do."

If the second premise is true, the first cannot be.

But who cares... Let the left think that the entire right is made up of evangelical Bible thumpers and "big capitalists, who have no morals," exploiting "a long American habit of virulent racism." That thinking will only lead them further down the path of defeat, because it utterly fails to understand the American people.

Take a look around the right side of the blogosphere, and you'll get a better picture of what, to me, is the real right. If there's a Bible-thumper among them, I have yet to see it. Now, maybe I have a skewed perspective, growing up in a "blue" state as I have, but evangelical Christians are almost as rare in my Maine town as they are in Boston or New York. From my experience, they just aren't a factor. Religion itself is not a factor.

In fact, among the conservatives I know among my family, friends, and acquaintances, not one, so far as I know, even considered religion in the voting booth. The most outwardly religious member of my extended family is actually a passionate, nearly rabid liberal.

Because of my 11 years in uniform, many of the people I know are in the military. They are also overwhelmingly conservative. They are not, by and large, very religious.

What is my point? That from my point of view as a Catholic military guy from Maine, those Bible-thumpers that so infuriate the left are simply not that big a deal. They're not "The Right." They certainly aren't 58 million strong.

Stephen Stanton got it mostly right when he wrote about South Park Republicans. These are the people I know, not the "Left Behind" crowd.

But whoever the typical Republican is, Jane Smiley and the hordes of lefty writers, bloggers, and activists spewing insults and hatred aren't going to get his or her vote next time around if they keep it up. You can't dump vitriol on 51% of the electorate in 2004 and expect to win some of them over to your side in 2008.
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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Great moments on DU 

Ladies and gentlemen, Democratic Underground is proud to present:

The party of charity and tolerance.

UPDATE: Then there's this, which should do wonders for the average working man they always champion.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Vote 

If you haven't already, vote today! No, not for President, although you should do that as well.

I'm talking about this vital poll for Red Sox fans. Do you think Kevin Millar told the truth on The Best Damn Sports Show Period, when he said the Sox did shots of Jack Daniels before several postseason games? Or do you believe six of his teammates who denied the story on Leno and Letterman last night?

I'm for the third option--that the guys took sort of a symbolic taste from a cup, but Kevin Millar being Kevin Millar, he had to embellish the story.

Option three isn't a choice in the poll, though.
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Sudanese army denies camp access 

As we here in America turn our focus to the polls today, it's important to remember that we aren't the center of the universe, and that less fortunate people around the world are dealing with much more critical problems than an election. In Darfur, for example, the Sudanese army has surrounded refugee camps and excluded aid workers from them, denying the long-suffering refugees critical food and medical aid.

GENEVA, Switzerland (AP) -- The Sudanese army and police have surrounded several refugee camps in the war-torn region of Darfur and denied access to humanitarian groups, the United Nations said Tuesday.

"It started at 3 a.m. without any warning," said Christiane Berthiaume, spokeswoman for the World Food Program. "Agencies have been denied access to these camps since this morning." ...

WFP is concerned that government forces may start relocating people in the camps back to their villages, where there is less protection from government-backed militias known as Janjaweed, she said.
At what point will the world decide enough is enough, and send a robust peacekeeping force into Darfur? The African Union contingent, eventually to number 3,000 troops, is a good start, but I fear that much more will be needed to stop this human tragedy.

Real action on the part of U.S. elected officials would go a long way. So would the unlikely development of a spine in the Security Council. I'm not really counting on either, unfortunaely.
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Monday, November 01, 2004

Election blogging 

I'm making a cameo over at The Command Post, covering the election from Maine. In particular I'm keeping an eye on the battleground 2nd District, which could tip in President Bush's favor and give him a single electoral vote. As close as this thing might be tomorrow, a single electoral vote could be a big thing. So, check out the Command Post's election page, which will have nationwide coverage from myself and 88 other guest bloggers. It will be, without a doubt, the best one-stop-shopping source for election news from all over America. In fact, it already is...the page has been opened up for guest posts and is filled with some great stuff.
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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Make up your mind, Senator 

NYT, October 28th:

In an interview with WISM in Milwaukee, Mr. Kerry also took the opportunity to suggest that Mr. bin Laden remained on the loose because of the Bush administration had bungled the campaign against terrorism.

"He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden," Mr. Kerry said, referring to efforts to catch Mr. bin Laden in the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. "He outsourced the job" to Afghan fighters.
John Kerry at the Democratric National Convention:

I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers.
So... depending on where American troops are fighting, having allies fighting alongside us is either:

A) Outsourcing that cost us Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, or

B) "Shar[ing] the burden... and reduc[ing] the risk to American soldiers", which is the proper way to fight.

If you're in Iraq, share the burden. But not in Afghanistan. That one's a fight we shouldn't "outsource."

You're confusing me. What is your real stand, Mr. Kerry? Do you have one?
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