Strong opinions, weakly held

Month: October 2004 (page 2 of 5)

More on infantilization

Jim Henley endorses John Kerry on the basis of his willing to address Americans as adults when it comes to terrorism.

Slate’s endorsements

Slate posted the endorsements of every contributor and staffer that they could round up yesterday, including Gerry Shargel, the Mafia defense attorney who participated in their dialogues on the Sopranos a few times. (He endorses Kerry.) I wasn’t surprised to see Slate’s Middle East commentator, Lee Smith, endorse Bush. He’s in the group of people who support Bush because he talks about bringing democracy to the Middle East, in other words, the people who really infuriate me.

I’m 100% in favor of bringing real democracy to the Middle East. I’m a believer in the idea that one of the biggest reasons why jihadist groups grow in popularity is that people in various Islamic countries are not provided with any legitimate outlet for political expression if they don’t support the powers that be. President Bush certainly talks a good game about transforming the Middle East, about a struggle that will take decades. But ultimately, if your project is remaking an entire region of the world as a group of states that are democratic, tolerant, and open, I can’t imagine a worse way to start than invading one of them, slaughtering thousands of its citizens, and seeing it go over to utter and complete chaos. Oh, and setting up a puppet government and a torture program didn’t help either. Not only have we not brought democracy to Iraq, but we have alienated just about anyone working for democracy in any of the other countries that are of concern. So even though President Bush and I may agree on the project, I can’t imagine a worse President to carry it out.

Cuban style democracy

Looks like the Bush administration has decided that Cuban-style democracy makes sense for Iraq right now. That may be the right answer, but they really shouldn’t have teased the Iraqis with the idea that they’d get to choose their own leaders for all these months.

For love or money

So I had this big plan to write a new weblogging tool in Java based on the Spring framework. The idea was that I’d use the project to get rid of some of my old creaky code and to learn Spring inside and out. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it didn’t take me very long to learn Spring and I started using it on real projects before I got too far on my weblogging tool. I don’t want to spend my own time writing a Web application in Spring when I spend most of my work time doing exactly that. It’s not smart from an educational standpoint, and besides that, nobody needs to spend all their time doing more or less exactly the same thing. Then this morning I read a rave review of Ruby on Rails, an MVC framework for this year’s “it” language, Ruby. I think I’ll tell myself that I’ll write a blogging tool using that.

The infantalization of America

Jim Kunstler is constantly harping on John Kerry for not confronting America with the hard truth, which seems to me to be painfully naive. I’m in the group of people that pretty much constantly obsesses about just how screwed we are (in the larger sense of things), but I don’t think that a politician that takes that approach has a snowball’s chance of actually winning. And what politics is about is winning.

Yesterday I was watching some footage of Dick Cheney on one of the morning shows, and he was blasting John Kerry for saying that there is some acceptable level of terrorism. First of all, that’s not what John Kerry said. But more importantly, you have to have the mind of a child to even accept Cheney’s train of thought.

Cheney isn’t alone in pitching this sort of fantasy. Democrats are expected to promise a way to end the migration of labor overseas. Republicans are expected to pretend like abortions will go away completely if we just make them illegal. Everybody is expected to pretend like there’s a way to make people quit using violence to promote a political agenda (a.k.a. terrorism). I can’t help but think that the reason politicians take this approach is that voters want them to act this way. So we may as well quit blaming the politicians.

Believe it or not

So somebody in Iraq has made off with 380 tons of high explosives. Wonder what sort of people would have stolen something like that?

Update: Josh Marshall is all over this story. This blog entry from Eric Umansky is tangentially related as well.

Apropos of yesterday

A survey of voters seems to show that one of the big reasons people support President Bush is that they’re incredibly ignorant. (Via Political Animal.)

The Sinclair thing

Jay Rosen reports that Sinclair’s real intentions with regard to airing the anti-Kerry documentary Stolen Honor were to force John Kerry to give them an interview and edit that interview and air it to portray him in a negative light. Since Kerry won’t play, they’ve cooked up this new documentary that will include everything but their manufactured Kerry self-immolation.

The mind of the Bush voter

As the election draws nearer, I continue to try more desperately to figure out why people are going to vote to reelect President Bush. I’m not making a joke here, I mean I really sit and think hard about why someone would think that’s a good idea. And honestly, it’s hard not to come to conclusions that make me think less of them. The best reason I can come up with right now is that a person is a supporter of the larger Republican agenda, and in the greater scheme of things, any Republican is more likely to promote it than any Democrat. I can see why someone would do that. The other option is the sincere belief that President Bush is horrible but that John Kerry would still be worse. I don’t get it, but I guess that’s an option.

What disturbs me though are not those people, but the people who are true believers. They don’t think that voting for President Bush is the best choice among a series of bad options, but rather that President Bush is a great President. I don’t know anybody like that personally (even the Republicans who I know don’t enthusiastically endorse Bush, and quite a few of them aren’t going to vote for him at all), but I know they’re out there. You can spot them by the stickers on their cars. They say things like “W the President” or “Support President Bush and the troops.” And those people I just don’t get. I can’t help thinking that they are what’s wrong with this country.

Update: Jason Levine looks into the Bush true believers.

Take that

William Gibson, in the process of dissing any conservative fans he might have, has this to say about Ronald Reagan:

If I were to put together a truly essential thank-you list for the people who most made it possible for me to write my first six novels, I’d certainly owe as much to Ronald Reagan as to Bill Gates or Lou Reed. Reagan’s presidency put the grit in my dystopia. His presidency was the fresh kitty litter I spread for utterly crucial traction on the icey driveway of uncharted futurity. His smile was the nightmare in my back pocket.
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