Better Angels

"...all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." ---Abraham Lincoln, First Innaugural Address

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Put on Your Podhoretz Jammies - It's Storytime!

Sometimes the mind just boggles. I've been reading a books of critical essays on 1984, edited by that old gasbag Howard Bloom. Bloom, in his introductory essay, mentions that Norman Podhoretz "recently" (as of the 1986 writing) claimed Orwell as a neoconservative.

Sure enough. I've found the essay here. Has Podhoretz ever actually read 1984?

Right Christians

I know I do a lot of what seems like Christian-bashing here, so it might be easy to assume that I myself am not a Christian. I am, in fact, a committed Episcopalian. I was confirmed this summer, after leaving the Roman Catholic church I was raised in.

It's the Christian Right I unapologetically "bash," as I can not stand their perversion of Christ's message. Christianity has been co-opted by these lunatics and the Christian Left has been marginalized. So it was with great pleasure that I read about Church Folks for a Better America. They state:

We grieve that our nation is not standing for “liberty and justice for all,” nor treating Iraqis as we would be treated. We believe that accountability begins at home, that wise leaders know their mistakes, and that honest leaders admit them. Fear and resentment will never guide us to a just and lasting peace. Any nation that hopes to be “under God” must live for a positive vision of world community, not a blind response to terrorism that tragically makes others see us as if we were terrorists ourselves.

CBFA is currently raising funds to place an anti-war ad in a major newspaper. Drop by and give if you can, and help give the Christian Left a voice again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I was watching C-Span last night and managed to catch the rerun of James Fallows speaking about the debate styles of Bush and Kerry. I read his original article in the Atlantic with interest and it was a treat to see actual clips of the debates referenced, especially the Weld-Kerry match-up. True to C-Span form, the callers alternated between Bush and Kerry supporters and it made for a particularly interesting contrast.

Kerry supporters called in with specific suggestions, especially about which issues Kerry should attack Bush with. Many of them sounded like they've been following comment threads at Eschaton or Kos.

When asked "what does Bush need to do to win these debates?" at least two Bush callers I heard answered with some variation on "just be himself, speak from the heart, tell the truth." He was praised for being "sincere" and "a godly man." One particularly emotional caller stressed how we should never forget what he did for us "at 9/11." Don't worry, love, we won't.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bush on "the rich"

He's STILL saying it:

And finally, when you hear them say, tax the rich, be careful. The rich hire lawyers and accountants for a reason, because they don't want to pay. And you get stuck with the tab. But we're not going to let him stick you with the tab. We're going to carry Minnesota in November and win a great victory. (Applause.)

---Pres. Bush - NSC Sports Hall, Blaine, Minnesota 9/16/04

Um, how long are the rich going to let Bush get away with insinuating that they are tax cheats?

Thanks for nothing

I'm always sensitive to the portrayals of homeschooling families in the media so I was interested to see the story of Jan Rankowski, a 9 year old Maine boy with Asperger's Syndrome who has been barred from the local playground.

Turns out Jan, who is being homeschooled this year after being "mainstreamed" out of his special ed classes, wanted to go play with the school children during recess. The town apparently has only one playground, which the school uses. According to this Boston Globe article, Jan had played on the playground for a year without incident until the school began documenting his behavior without informing the family and determined that his agressive behavior was unacceptable and dangerous to the other children. The parents are now suing the school for access to the playground.

I don't know who's right in this case. As a homeschooling parent I have certain biases, which this story mostly confirms. My main rule of homeschool/school relations is "the less, the better." I turn in my paperwork, they send my approval letter and that's it. But the Rankowskis seem to have other ideas. The AP story reports that "The boy's parents say they hope their lawsuit will force schools to treat disabled or home-schooled children the same way as other children. " Fair enough, in theory, but this isn't an issue of the school treating a homeschooled child unequally. He was allowed to participate in a school activity, and like any child, the school is obligated to make sure he obeys the rules set out for that activity. Whether or not he was able to is not the question. If I decided to send my children to recess at the local school, the school folks would have every right to make sure they were behaving the way they expected the other children to behave, whether or not they were disabled.

In the Globe, the Rankowskis paint a sad picture of Jan's life without recess:
Sitting at a wooden picnic table outside their home, Jan's parents said they blame the school for leaving their son without daily playmates for the last seven months.
He is increasingly isolated, holing up with his computers, gaining weight, and struggling with social skills.

This just doesn't ring true to my experience as a homeschooler. I seek out activities and playmates for my children. It's my responsibility, not the school's to makie sure my kids get a well rounded experience, both academically and socially. If my kids can't read, or don't have access to a chemistry lab at home, or don't have anyone to play with during school hours, it's not the school's fault! They took the child out of school. Now they need to take responsibility for his education, in all areas of life.

Ouch! Will Brings the Smackdown!

What a hectoring know-it-all. I've never had any use for him and usually don't even bother to read his column in Newsweek. But for some reason I did read it yesterday and was amazed to see this:

Last week in The Washington Post, Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative, wrote a column that illustrates why neoconservatives alarm almost everyone who isn't one—and especially dismay real conservatives. (emphasis mine)

Since I imagine Will considers himself a "real conservative" I'm going to take this as a sign that the Republican civil war has begun. Can it be they've finally realized the untenable position these imperialist clowns have put them in? I'm going to enjoy this.

(Will also gets his shots in at Kerry, concluding the column with this:"Lurking there is the idea behind foreign-policy overreaching—the anticonservative delusion that political will can control the world. And Kerry has nothing to say about it." Whatever.)


Newsweek online reports on a Bushtwins stop on the campaign trial:

As they left the building on their way to another campaign event in Milwaukee, Jenna and Barbara ran into a group of about 40 student protesters, who were positioned near their motorcade. One girl held a sign that said DRAFT JENNA, while another held a sign that read SEND THE BUSH TWINS TO IRAQ.
A male student on his way to class read the signs and paused. “No way,” he yelled. “Don’t send them to Iraq. Send them to my room!”


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

I Loves Me Some Pierce

Charlie Pierce is one of my favorite journalists in all the world. His letters to Jonathan Alterman never fail to crack me up. Here's the money quote from last Friday:

Pretty sorry-ass week, though. Dan Rather beset by pipsqueaks with Cheerios dripping down on their Norm Podhoretz pajamas.

And here I am wearing my matching Midge Decter peignoir.

Speaking of Podhoretz, I keep sitting down with Commentary magazine to try and wade through his article "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win" . I get about 1 paragraph in before I get the itch to do something more fun, like brush the cat's teeth.

Monday, September 20, 2004


You know, usually our local Fox affiliate isn't too bad. But tonight I was so irritated with their political coverage. Their "analyst" Joe Battenfeld mentioned that a "lot of people would be watching" Kerry's appearances on Letterman and Regis and Kelly "to see if he shows his human side." This he says without any irony after showing a clip of Bush shambling around a stage in New Hampshire, smirking and speaking non-sensically. ("I couldn't disagree more, and not so long ago, so did my opponent.") I'd like to see Bush's human side sometime - you know, the side of him that gives a rat's ass about the millions of Americans suffering as he cavorts around his neo-con fantasy zone.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Are you a moonbat?

Trolls like to throw around the term "moonbat" like it's a hideous insult. I don't get it. We're moony? Batty? We fly through the night on silvery wings? I dunno. But I DO know that you can get your moonbat merchandise at my cafe press store.

Isn't he cute?


So everybody's all over the outing of "Buckhead" the once-anonymous blog poster who started the maelstrom that we know as "Kerning! The Musical."

He's not just some basement dwelling, cheeto eating troll; he's Harry MacDougald Esq. of Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to being a lawyer allied with conservative causes, he's a member of the Fulton County Board of Electors.

Not only that, but when the LA Times and the Washington Post sued for copyright infringement, Macdougal drafted an amicus brief for the Freepers on behalf of the Southeastern Legal Foundation.


ETA: Powerline blog, which followed the Superscript Follies from the beginning, credits a certain Elizabeth MacDougald with pointing them to the Freerepublic comments thread where Buckhead first struck. Hmmmm. (I'd provide a link, but uh, I really don't want to show up in their stats. Here, look at the Google results.)

Friday, September 17, 2004

Blogger ate my Blogroll

It was there yesterday...I swear.

Well, go visit Attaturk while I fix it.

Update: Look! It mysteriously re-appeared...just like Bush's TANG records!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Who's writing this war? John Waters?

So I was reading Newsweek's little story on the Green Zone, when this line stopped me in my tracks:
"Sheik Fuad Rashid, the U.S.-appointed imam of the local mosque, dresses like a nun, dyes his hair platinum blond and claims that Mary Mother of Jesus appeared to him in a vision (hence the getup)."

Hello? Is this not a story all by itself?

The San Francisco Chronicle thought so. The highlight has to be the picture. He's...fabulous!

The Ineffable Sadness of Laura Bush

Sometimes you can see it behind her frozen mask of First Lady compliance:

People:You've just been traveling with your grandmother [famously strict former FirstLady Barbara Bush]. Do "Ganny's rules" still apply?

Barbara: Mmm-hmm. Definitely.

Jenna: We had some wardrobe malfunctions. Age 22 and 80 don't really go together. There were outfits that got nixed before they even were put on.

Barbara: She doesn't like a lot of complaining, really.

Mrs. Bush: Yes, you don't get to complain.

Doesn't that just about sum up Laura's life?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Messiah Complex

I've created LIFE! LIFE, I tell you!

I Shot the Sheriff...

In the September 7th issue of "People" there's a charming little "at home with the Bushes" story meant to emphasize for all the red staters how down home and reg'lar the first family is. Among the mundane trivia is this exchange:

People: Mrs. Bush, we read that you like Bob Marley. And Jimmy Cliff?
Mrs. Bush: Well, I just have my old record collection.
Jenna: I think it's funny people think it's shocking that my mom would have good music taste. What does music have to do with politics? I mean, she can have cool music tastes. She's a normal woman.

Boy, I'll bet they're going to regret that little anecdote once the Laura-as-pothead meme hits the fan.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Small World of Wingnuttery

Wow. Turns out Skulky McStalker in the previous post is the son of Tim Lomperis, a St. Louis University professor of Political Science and a Vietnam vet. 'Tis a pity, but I can no longer hear that designation without wondering "are you a good witch, or a bad witch?" Turns out he's the latter. Lomperis spoke this summer at a conference in Boston put together in response to Kerry's, well, general existence. It was apparently entirely funded by Vietnam vets who were also Harvard MBAs. (No, GWB did not make a pledge.)

IRD Watch

Christian Century Magazine had an interesting tidbit in the 9/7/04 issue:

At the retirement banquet for Bishop C. Joseph Sprague of the Northern Illinois District of the United Methodist Church, guests observed a young man assiduously noting who was present, and photographing and tape-recording every speaker. Sprague recognized the man as John Lomperis, a staffer for the Institute for Religion and Democracy, an organization that regularly assails what it terms the “leftist” stances of mainline Protestant denominations. Lomperis works for Mark Tooley, the director of the IRD department that focuses on United Methodists and that for the past eight years has especially hounded Sprague. When asked why he was attending the event to honor the bishop, Lomperis insisted he had a right to be there because he is a United Methodist. When pressed, however, he said he belongs to an “evangelical ecumenical” church, not a UMC congregation (The Reporter of the Northern Illinois Conference, August 13).

Here's an eyewitness account of the event and here's the IRD's response.

I'd been wondering what those dogs had been up to lately, since they seem to have momentarily stoppped trying to destroy the Episcopal Church from within.

Flag Desecration

Pixie over at Eschaton linked to this picture in the flag desecration thread and I just had to post it here, too.

Yes, my fellow 'Muricans, this is your president, commander-in-chief of the brave men and women of our armed forces, signing his name on an American flag.
Either it's a sacred piece of cloth, that must never be treated with anything but the utmost respect or it's not. If you can autograph it, Georgie, I can burn it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


Yesterday my stepsons and I were talking about the 9/11 anniversary and where we were at the time. They recalled that they were on their way back from a dentist's appointment with their mom:

"Mommy had the radio on and heard that there were explosions and people were escaping and stuff and she turned it off. Then she dropped us off at school." This I already knew and had always thought odd, since most people heard the news and rushed to pick up their kids from school.

"What time was it?"

"9 or 10 A lot of kids left early."

"I had to keep it a secret." This from S, who was then 9.


"The teacher told me not to tell anyone."

"Yeah, they didn't make an announcement until dismissal," added M, now 14.

Can you imagine? Your mother drops you off at school, knowing there's a terrorist attack. She heads off to work and you have to spend the school day acting like everything's ok. I don't get some people. At all.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Watching the Tragic Odometer

Attaturk pointed to this in a thread over at Eschaton.
999 dead Americans in Iraq. Do you suppose the men and women in the field have any idea? Imagine starting your patrol knowing you could be #1000.
Athenae has an idea to mark this sad milestone.
When I hear the news, I'll light a candle, too.

Someone at the AP has a sense of humor!

"Now go over there and get me some of that "W" ketchup, boy!"

Monday, September 06, 2004

Could this be the convention kicker?

Jesus' General reports that the convention kicker bears a striking resemblance to the son of conservative radio host Dr. Laura.

What do you think?

Deryk Schleissinger - undated but obviously a few years ago.
(Cropped and enlarged. Original photo is here.)

The convention kicker.

Verrrry interesting.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Out of the mouths of babes...

Driving home from the aquarium this evening with the wee Biblios, my kindred spirit AM and her 2 kids. After 3 hours of gazing at mollusks, chasing crazed preschoolers around the penguin exhibit and testing the limits of the Bickford's waitstaff's patience, the rise of the backseat chattering class is almost too much for the mamas to bear. We order silence to commence. Murmurs and giggles...then their voices rise again until finally we hear the youngest call out "I'm going to kill you! Nanny nanny boo boo!"
Amazed, I turn to AM and said "I think that's our foreign policy in a nutshell!"

(You were right, AM. I did put it on my blog!)

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Big Top of Hatred

So the Republicans are always going on about their "big tent." I don't know about you, but the image that springs to mind when I hear that is a big ol' stripey circus tent. Which, given the recent freak show of the RNC, seems to be appropos.

What is it with them? Why do they want to be the party of doom and gloom and apoplectic speakers with venomous spittle flying out of their mouths? I practically mainlined CSPAN during the DNC and I don't remember anything approaching the level of vitriol coming from the Republicans. If their whole goal was to reach out to swing voters, I think they botched it. (Well, I guess that's another manifestation of the Botch doctrine) First they had Rudy, with his nervous little hands all a-twitter, thanking God for W. while a body came hurtling toward him. Then John McCain swallowed his pride and shilled for the man who destroyed him in 2000 by making fun of Michael Moore. Liddy Dole apparently misunderstood the "big tent" and thought they said "tent revival." Then we had Arnold, you know, all misty eyed over Nixon and insulting girls, men, girly-men and people who worry how they're gonna buy the kids lunch this week. Miller and Cheney rounded it out by delivering a tag-team smackdown of John Kerry in one of the ugliest evenings of television I've ever seen.

What would an undecided voter make of all this? "Gee, they seem angry, but they sure do like flags!" "Wow, John Kerry has screwed up the economy and the war so badly, we need to make sure he doesn't get reelected!" "Look! Shiny!" I don't know. I should think "Hope is on the Way" would come off better than the use of adhesive bandages to insult our veterans, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Bush and company knew the best way to get reelected was to make sure America was poor, hungry, frightened and eager to find someone to blame. They created the perfect storm, and now they're exploiting it by pointing the big finger of scapegoating our way. Yes, Liberals are to blame for the woe that has befallen America. We are to be treated with scorn and derision for our insistence on the truth and our stubborn idealism and our sense of fairness. We went and ruined America, didn't we?

The faces I saw at the DNC were joyful. People from all walks of life looked like they were thrilled to be participating in the process, thrilled to be nominating John Kerry and celebrating their party. The GOPers just seem grim, roused to excitement only when swept up in a moment of loathing and jeering. It's a side of America I don't understand but I'll do my damndest to make sure those folks have jobs, healthcare and peace while John Kerry is prseident. They may hate us, but we'll deliver the goods to them anyway, because we're liberals and that's how we do it. We have a big tent, too. Big enough for the whole damn country.