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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Wednesday, 11 August 2004

Topic: Election Notes

Peri Bathous, or the Art of Sinking to the Profound

Bob Patterson, who writes a weekly column for Just Above Sunset as "The World's Laziest Journalist," listens to Rush Limbaugh so the rest of us don't have to.

He sent a quick email -
... Rush has just read something from a guy named Anderson at Thor books in New York (I believe I was introduced to him by Dennis) and the guy says it all boils down to one issue. A male voter's sexual identity. Men like Bush fight wars. This is about war. Sissies are for Kerry. Men are for Bush (hence: "Punch Protesters"). Men throw punches in friendly college games. Are you a "girly-boy" or a Bush man!
Or would that be a Bushman?

The funny thing is that I had just read the Anderson item Rush Limbaugh loved so much. The source of all this?

Duncan Maxwell Anderson, The New York Post, Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Anderson is blunt -
This November's election is about something everyone is thinking about, and almost no one is talking about. Words like "national security" are fig leaves for the real subject: manhood.

Why does manhood matter? Because we're at war. What kind of leader do you want when armed lunatics are trying to kill you and your family? Do you need a master of nuance or a leader of men? Do you want Alan Alda or Braveheart? (Hmm. Let me think.)
And Anderson goes on to point out the recent Democratic convention in Boston seemed to him " he gaudiest display of militarism and macho talk since the Berlin Olympics of 1936" - and he was amazed because, as he says, the Democrats "successfully ran a draft-dodger for president twice, and which won't fund a candidate who doesn't bow to the feminist abortion-god." Yeah, what wimps. Now the want to pretend they're real men.

But Anderson says there is a reason for this - and it is 9/11 of course. And that caused a special kind of crisis -
The 9/11 attacks have precipitated a crisis of manhood that is shaking our society to its roots. But for so many years, we have been so entangled in the delicate sensibilities of feminism that we can't even put our confusion into words.

To state the crushingly obvious, war is a male thing. Even when directed by the occasional Maggie Thatcher or Joan of Arc, war is fought by men's rules, by men. At the same time, not all men are enthusiastic warriors; in peacetime, for the sake of civilization, there is a need for men who are contemplatives, diplomats, artists and even complainers.

Martial men are always eager to believe it's time for action, that the enemy is at the gates. It can make them seem crude and scary. But on 9/11, it was suddenly obvious that the everyday heroism of soldiers, firemen and cops was indispensable.

Meanwhile, the stock of intellectuals goes down in a life-or-death crisis, especially for those who weren't that brilliant to begin with. Some men claim the status of artists simply because they don't know how to change a tire. Men from the arty class can become parasites, making their try for greatness simply by throwing muck at men who are truly great.
Your see where this is going from what was emphasized here in bold.

Anderson of course lays into Michael Moore and all those kind of folk who raise issues - "... weenies like Moore, who resent the new importance of masculine men like George W. Bush. It's just resentment of the larger male member and higher levels of testosterone, you see. And he goes after Kerry, who he says "has been trying to recast himself as a he-man" - but who Anderson says is, as we all know now from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, "no more than a timorous whiner who lied his way to several combat medals."

As for that last matter, not one of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth actually served with Kerry in Vietnam - and Robert Perry, a Texas Republican who over the decades has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to the Bush family, funds them. Yes, those who actually served with Kerry, and stood on stage with him in Boston, say Kerry did actually do those things for which he was awarded medals. The Navy and the Defense Department say it is so. But for the sake of argument, for the moment, accept the contention that the guys who were actually there are full of crap, even if they were there for the events, and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth who weren't there are telling the real truth. And the Navy and Department of Defense are in on the deception. You see why Kerry isn't really a man - he's just a timorous whiner. Got it?

If so, then Anderson makes sense when he says -
For these times, in place of Kerry's limp salute and tedious 55-minute acceptance speech, I prefer Bush's terser words, on the phone to Vice President Dick Cheney on Sept. 11, 2001, on his way to the airport: "I heard about the Pentagon. We're at war. Somebody's gonna pay."
That's a man's response.

Reaction on the web? Over at Demagogue one finds this -
Let's think about [this]. Braveheart, a.k.a. Sir William Wallace, was a Scottish noble who battled the British in the late 13th century. His army beat back an English force in 1298, only to be soundly defeated a year later. Then, Wallace turned tail and France of all places! He was eventually tried for treason and executed. He even wore makeup for chrissakes! Lots of it.

Then, there's Alan Alda. His most famous role is that of Capt. Benjamin Franklin Pierce (patriotic name, that), a.k.a. Hawkeye. Hawkeye served at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (or M*A*S*H) during the Korean War. There, he proved to be cool under pressure and an excellent surgeon who saved countless lives. Moreover, he was adept at cutting through bureaucracy and red tape and good at exposing shoddy intelligence.... These would be welcome traits in a Commander-in-Chief. Finally, although the Korean conflict ended in a draw, it was not the complete rout that Braveheart experienced.
Yeah, yeah. The election comes down to whether you want the hyper-masculine Mel Gibson leading us, or the effeminate Alan Alda.

Joseph, my expatriate friend now living in France comments -
I don't see what's so manly about sending other people to war; history is full of overprivileged sissies who did that. This is just an attempt to distract us from the fact that we were lied to, and that the principles in this war completely screwed it up. If that weren't true, this guy would argue that, rather than claiming that his dick is bigger.

And frankly, his claim that Republican's have a corner on the ability to wage war seems as spurious as the claim that republicans have a corner on fiscal responsibility.
As Joseph sees, even from France where he is once removed from all this, the Bush side, sensing there is not much good to say about the economy or the war or the environment or even their actual candidate, is dropping the discourse to a more basic level where they think they might get folks to vote for their guy on a psychosexual basis - as voting for Kerry and Edwards is denying your very manhood. I always liked the title of Alexander Pope's mock epic - Peri Bathous, or the Art of Sinking to the Profound (1727). This too is sinking to the profound. But heck, when you run out of issues you can defend, well, what else are you going to do?

So the twin ideas here, since nothing else is working? 1.) If we don't keep Bush and Cheney in office, well, we're all going to die. 2.) Your political position is an outward and visible sign of your inward and spiritual... manliness - so vote for Bush or else you might just as well just go ahead and declare yourself a mincing interior decorator queen with a lisp who loves Broadway show tunes and thinks Barry Manilow is still a hunk. Wimp.

But isn't the epicene Wayne Newton of Las Vegas a right-wing Republican? Something to think about.

And Phillip Raines, from deep in Georgia, adds this riposte to Joseph in France -
Your points are most true. This weekend a friend who described her self as an ex-Republican-now-converted said (and it is also most true) that the last thing she allied herself to was fiscal responsibility, and that is totally out the window. Now it has become the party of religious fanatics and na?ve windbags - manly - with the back up of a gun.
I'm sure Anderson would say, "You got a problem with that, Bubba? Maybe your gun isn't big enough?"

Well, things are getting down to basics. If you have no case on the issues and policies, go to a deeper level. Tap those deep fears about sexual identity. Hell, not much else is working for these guys.


Other reactions? This from Joseph in France who wonders about Anderson, the Post columnist, himself -
It's just the gnawing suspicion by some of us who have actually done things that demanded some moral and physical courage that guys like this - just sniping from behind a typewriter - would cry if you hit them. How I miss the days when one could tell a blow-hard like this that we better "settle it outside" without getting arrested.

Talk is cheap.
Well, that's pretty blunt.

And Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta adds this -
Anderson says the Democrats "successfully ran a draft-dodger for president twice..."

Excuse me, but so did the Republicans (George W. Bush) -- at least one time, and are threatening to do it again -- and this after having previously successfully put up a draft dodger for vice president (Dan Quayle).

And at least Bill Clinton resisted going to Vietnam on principled objection to the war, unlike Quayle, who said he was in favor of the war but had better things to do (which was to become a lawyer). In any event, unlike the other two, Clinton wouldn't have had a rich relative to fall back on, even if he had wanted to try that route.

But were Bush and Quayle technically "draft dodgers"?

Let me clue you -- there is no such technical term as "draft dodger," it's merely slang for those who pulled whatever tricks they could so they wouldn't be carted off to a war zone, especially one any more dangerous than Alabama or Indiana, and especially one where they take strict attendance.

I'm about two years older than George, but we are still in that same generation of American males, both anti- and pro-war, who knew by heart the list of ways to get out of going to Vietnam. At or near the top of the list was getting into your state's National Guard, but you knew that was virtually out of the question, since sons of rich guys and others of influence always seemed to get there first. And even if they ever arrived after you, they often seemed to jump the list to the top, which is something else that this Bush has been accused of doing.

Do I have personal knowledge that these two guys used their influence to get out of going to Vietnam? No, just heard the rumors. But having watched these guys over the years, I have to take those rumors seriously.

Note that this topic also came up in the August 5th edition of The Economist (UK) - under the title It's a man's world.

Yes, that's the title of an old Wilson Pickett soul tune - and I do have a recording of that song being covered by Patricia Kaas, the French pop singer, who does it in Alsatian-accented English of all things (the album also has her singing Lyle Lovett's "Simple Song" in her French translation, and a duet with James Taylor - his "I Don't Want to be Lonely Tonight.") But I digress.

The Economist?
LET'S call it the testosterone election. John Kerry never misses a chance to surround himself with he-man veterans. George Bush looks happiest when addressing crowds of pumped-up soldiers. Mr Bush likes to spend his free time clearing brush on his Texas ranch, dressed in a sweaty T-shirt and a cowboy hat. Mr Kerry likes to spend his riding Harleys or slaughtering wildlife. Both potential leaders of the western world seem to be remarkably proud of falling off their mountain bikes.

It is all a far cry from the Clinton era. ...
Indeed it is.

But this is key now -
The politics of manliness is trickier for the Democrats than the Republicans. The Democrats have traditionally played the "Mommy Party" to the Republicans' "Daddy Party", in Chris Matthews's phrase, more interested in nurturing children than fighting wars. The Democratic Party is the natural home of effete thespians and quiche-eating intellectuals, not to mention feminists. The Republican Party is the natural home of macho men--erstwhile wrestlers such as Dennis Hastert and Donald Rumsfeld, football stars like Jack Kemp and J.C. Watts and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The body-builder-turned-governor recently attacked "girlie men". He was referring to state legislators who, in his view, were too cowed by vested interests--particularly trade unions and trial lawyers--to do the decent thing and vote for his budget. Politically correct California immediately slammed the governor for homophobia and indifference to the transgendered community, among other sins. But Arnie had put his finger on a debate at the heart of this election: who are the real men and who are the girlie men?

The Republicans are determined to paint Mr Kerry as a Frenchified wimp in macho garb (the Botoxed Brahmin even opposes the death penalty, for Pierre's sake).
And that settles that.

Except there's little difference. Kerry is much like Bush.
Both Messrs Kerry and Bush are products of a preppie establishment that once put a premium on the manly virtues of athleticism and civic leadership. Mr Kerry shone at soccer and hockey at St Paul's and Yale, and once tried to fly a plane under the Golden Gate bridge. Mr Bush was a sports-loving frat boy who partied hard and regarded academics as wimps. Both men are devotees of hunting, shooting and fishing. Neither is particularly at home with Mr Clinton's metrosexual buddies.

Moreover, they are vying for leadership of a country that, for all the quibbles, is reconciled to the exercise of "hard" military power...

... Robert Kagan, argued that "America is from Mars and Europe is from Venus". The American half of that will remain true whoever wins the White House on November 2nd.
No girly-men metrosexuals allowed any longer.

Posted by Alan at 19:08 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 12 August 2004 09:14 PDT home

Topic: Photos

Sepulveda and Palms, Los Angeles, California - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Folks with another point of view have modified the wall of movie posters, with political commentary added without the approval of the major studios.

(Photos by Bob Patterson)

Bob also notes -"Intense poster activity marked the fight for control of the Palms and Sepulveda intersection in Los Angeles as rival factions were struggling for control. Posters were being put up and torn down at a rapid pace. This second photo was taken mid morning (10 a.m.) Wednesday, August 11, 2004. A poster that was up at 8 a.m. was gone by 10 a.m."

Posted by Alan at 14:55 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 11 August 2004 15:52 PDT home

Tuesday, 10 August 2004

Topic: Photos

Sepulveda and Palms, Los Angeles, California - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

A wall of movie posters with political commentary added without the approval of the major studios - with detail of the center of one of the signs.

Posted by Alan at 16:41 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Monday, 9 August 2004

Topic: Election Notes

The Bad-Boy Vote

Last weekend in Just Above Sunset, the weekly virtual magazine that is parent to this web log, you might have noticed this bit of dialog in Political Discourse: There seem to be some disagreements on methodology... - where Joseph, now living in France, had this comment on the new Republican tactic just announced, to go after Kerry with "derision" as a tactic, a sort of frat-boy thing, and what the Democrats should do about it...
... it's not so much that Democrats aren't good at derision, or avoid petty fights. It's that completely lacking self-awareness, the Bush-type personality is simply impervious to it.

You've seen this - it's the mark of the true bully.

You can say anything you want about them, but no matter how true, clever or embarrassing, they will stand there with this shit-eating grin (not the fake grin of the self-aware person who has momentarily been stunned or shamed, but the genuine, vapid article). They will think of something really witless to say and make you look like the idiot.

Why? Because you have to have some awareness of how others see you, of your own faults and imperfections and some inner acknowledgment of the validity of the criticisms of others. If not, the remark just slides right off.

When an entire nation admires a bully, I begin to wonder if some psycho-sociological force isn't at play. Do American men today feel so powerless and ineffectual, so limp-dicked, so henpecked by their wives, so disposable at their jobs, so despised by their children, so scared of the world that they must resort to infantile bully worship?
And as I commented, maybe so.

Bully-worship is empowering, when nothing else is. Something about surrogate power, I suppose - and as I have maintained for a long time, this has to do with seeing someone doing or saying what you wish you could do or say, but cannot. When Bush tells the rest of the world to shove it - choose your issue or treaty or international law or whatever (the constitution will do as an example too) - the folks Joseph identifies get at least a partial erection. That'll do. Bush's election strategy will be to play to that strength, if that's the right word.

And right on schedule, from Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in political science at Yale, and the author of "Liberal Racism" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003), we get a good summary of how this all will work out. It really is a frat-boy thing, and Sleeper shows how our president is not much different than he was as an undergraduate at Yale.

He's Got the Bad-Boy Vote Sewed Up
Jim Sleeper, The Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2004

Unfortunately there is no way to show here the photograph of George Bush that accompanies this piece - a clipping from the Yale student newspaper the Times does not make available on the net. It's a black-and-white sports-action close-up of Bush at Yale in a rugby game. He's got a hammerlock on a guy from the opposing team, a smirk on his face, and he's in punching the other guy good and hard in the side of the head. This was thirty years ago. The caption reads - "George Bush delivers illegal, but gratifying right hook to opposing ball carrier." A right hook, no less.

Sleeper seems to think this somehow symbolically explains one reason why Bush still is riding high in the polling and hasn't really dropped in popularity much at all since the Kerry nomination. And here's how Sleeper explains Bush's continuing popularity -
He owes more than a little something to the "bad boy" vote that no pollster captures as well as this photo and caption do.

What I have in mind here isn't the bad guy in a detective story or the stand-up guy in "The Sopranos," or even some rock-band poseur. He may actually be a good guy most of the time, like millions of this country's mischievous frat boys who like getting away with things but who aren't that bad as long as they don't get into anything too far over their heads.

As president of his chapter of the DKE fraternity, Bush sounded a classic bad-boy note when he said he "didn't learn a damned thing" at Yale. "The reason was that he didn't try," Jacob Weisberg reported this spring in Yale Alumni Magazine. "One year, the star of the football team spotted him in the back row during [course-] shopping period. 'Hey, George Bush is in this class!' Calvin Hill, '69, shouted to his teammates. 'This is the one for us!' "
So his leadership style was born. The smirking frat-boy leads the others in mocking the whole business. You can take all the intellectual pretensions of college and books and learning and do a goof on it, and lead men. Readers who, like me, attended Denison University at the same time remember how it was with the frat-boys. They thought the rest of us were all fools. And they let us know that.

But what does Jim Sleeper really know of this? Is he making this up? He says he isn't.
I was in that room that day. Bush gave them a grinning thumbs up and, I have to admit, everyone laughed. He had a certain charm about getting away with things, like DKE's custom of "branding" new members' on the butt, a less-than-noble tradition he managed to protect when it came under fire.
Ah, I had forgotten about that branding thing Bush managed to get away with.

An old Denison friend wrote me about this today -
I was wondering if you'd seen the interview with Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury) in Rolling Stone. Trudeau was two years behind GWB at Yale, and in a weird twist of fate, a hazing scandal at Bush's fraternity prompted someone to request Trudeau to do a cartoon about it - his very first cartoon. Bush was rush chairman, a role he was perfectly suited for, and which he still plays, according to Trudeau. Bush was a sarcastic preppy who gave people nicknames, and was very good at making people feel comfortable, and also at making people feel uncomfortable. The hazing incident? They were branding freshman bare bottoms with red-hot coat hanger branding irons.

This puts comments about the torture at Abu Ghraib not being our "American nature" and Rush Limbaugh's dismissal of the scandal as nothing more than a college prank, in a different light.

Frat-boy group-enforced cruelty to calculated derision - their answers to a lot of unexamined fear and anger... who wants to examine fear and anger? It's easier to see some ass kicked.
Clare sort of nails it here, doesn't she?

An excerpt for the Rolling Stone interview with Trudeau is here, and an MSNBC summary here. Bush and those nicknames and mockery? Trudeau comments - "He was extremely skilled at controlling people and outcomes in that way. Little bits of perfectly placed humiliation."

And now that's how we do politics.

Sleeper in the Los Angeles Times comments that this is a problem -
Being that kind of bad boy may be OK if you're cutting a history class or smirking behind your hand at some radical grad student leading your discussion section - but not when you're staging a commander in chief's flight-deck landing or a Thanksgiving Day pop-up in Baghdad.
Really? Ask Karl Rove about that. Look at the poll numbers.

Sleeper does point out that "Bad Boys" don't get that far very often and Bush himself would tell you that he's changed a lot since college. When Bush turned forty he stopped drinking and found Jesus, after all. He's a new man?

Key people don't believe that -
But I don't think the difference matters much to the bad boys he's left behind, including some classmates I know who are raising money for him, not to mention the up-and-comers I taught at Yale last year. Whether they cheered Bush's flight-deck landing or are reliving the joys of intramural rugby, they think he has shown them how to mess up yet still swagger off the field with an impish grin.
Leadership by example? I guess.

But it's really not a partisan political thing. Sleeper points out that this has less to do with crude and bullying Republicans than you'd think.
This really is an apolitical, "guy" thing, like the thunderous welcome Bill Clinton got from a huge crowd of college boys, with their baseball caps on backward, at the University of Illinois' Urbana-Champaign campus on Jan. 28, 1998, only days after rumors of his Monica Lewinsky affair surfaced. Just the day before, 120 million Americans had been riveted, watching him pull off a triumphal, almost defiant, State of the Union address.

"Yeah, Bi-i-i-i-lll!" the college boys roared lustily, and not because Al Gore had just warmed them up with news of Clinton's tuition loans, Hope scholarships and his plans to add slots for more AmeriCorps volunteers. Bad Boy Bill entered the hall to a booming rendition of the rock band Kansas' "Carry On My Wayward Son." He was greeted like a rock star, with no boos or catcalls.
Whoa, Nellie! Clinton and Bush are just alike? Their popularity with male voters depends on them playing the bad boy? That is a strange linkage, but it feels right.

Well, Bush is our president. Many of us misfits managed to make it through college in the late sixties doing what we did, even with the frat-boys mocking most of what we said, most of what we did, and most of what we thought - and most everything we cared about. Four more years of this?

Been there. Done that. We can manage.

Jim Sleeper himself did drop us a line - and makes an important clarification -
I really enjoyed your commentary on this! But when you get to saying "Whoa, Nellie! Clinton and Bush are just alike? Their popularity with male voters depends on them playing the bad boy? That is a strange linkage, but it feels right...," you might take note of how I ended my column, in the very next paragraph:

"Whoever wrote that caption under George's rugby photo would understand. What he shouldn't understand is how anyone could act as if Iraq were just rugby or a dalliance. A history lesson ignored might be more like it."

The point being, that Bill Clinton's dalliance is nowhere on a scale with what George Bush is doing to the country in his "bad boy" mode, whether in Iraq or, for that matter, on the budget.
Indeed so. Yes, there is a difference - a big one.

Bob Harris writing at This Modern World, when questioned about his own harping on this rugby business, says it really isn't that very important. His problem is with this, the administration's new pet project, National Preparedness Month - September 2004

Harris adds this perspective on the Yale rugby business -
Finally, no, of course this isn't supposed to be more important than other issues like the War On Tara, "voting" machines which are anything but, the slow Guantanamization of American life, or the rest of our impending doom during the incompetent reign of a corrupt alcoholic chimpanzee who thinks he talks to God. September ... is National Frighten The Children Just Before The Election month. That alone is way more a part of our future than whether or not Bush slugged a guy, drove drunk, dodged Vietnam, profited from insider trades, took sadistic delight in executing people, or ignored repeated warnings about Al-Qaeda until it was too goddam late.

But the past is prologue.
Of course it is. As Michael Josephson, the schlock radio guru says, character counts. Except when it doesn't.

[Note: Harris says he too has been trading emails with Jim Sleeper. Sleeper has written me two notes so far - but none of his email addresses (AOL) are working so I haven't been able to thank him yet, or trade quips. My replies to him just bounce back. The Yale man of many books, and numerous reviews in the New York Review of Books, compliments me and I cannot reach him! ]

A late comment from Bob Patterson, also know as "The World's Laziest Journalist" -
There was a country song titled "Ladies Love Outlaws" that had a refrain that went "Outlaws touch ladies deep down in their souls" but in the final rendering of the line it was changed to "Outlaws touch ladies ... anywhere they want to ... "

Outlaws, bad boys, rebels . . . nonconformists all.

Camus in "The Rebel" says (although I can not find the exact passage despite several attempts) that one way society disarms the rebel is to absorb them into the upper class. Thus the Rolling Stones become the Rolling Stones Incorporated. They lose their cutting edge when they have a stake in the establishment they used to rebel against.

Bush as bad boy?

It maybe a matter of semantics. Not a bad boy. (Think the wrong side of the tracks.) It's the spoiled brat. Richie Rich. I read somewhere before he was elected that it would be dangerous to have him as a president because he did not know the value of a budget. He had no experience about planning how to pay for a purchase. Buy an invasion of Iraq? No problem! Put it on the charge card and dad's accountants will take care of it when the bill comes due.

He seems to be living up to that psychological profile quite well.

Four more years! Or as James Cagney said when he pushed the grapefruit into May Marsh's face: "You'll take it and like it. See!"

Isn't someone a bully only until they lose their first big fight? As long as they pick on the little guys, they remain bullies. Lose to a bigger guy, and then you can start to worry about a little guy who might take you too. George W is in the process of realizing that he is losing a fight. It hasn't quite dawned on him fully yet.
Maybe so. But don't count on him losing.


Bob Harris at the website This Modern World has published the photo of George Bush at Yale that was in the print edition of The Los Angeles Times but not on line. The photo is credited to the Yale yearbook (the caption is in the original). This is what is being discussed at the top of this column.

Here is a bit of what Harris has to say about the photo -
It's not in the Times' online version, and the rest of the country should see it, I think.

Incidentally, while rugby is a contact sport, every player knows that tackling above the shoulders is a foul. So is leaving your feet during a tackle. Either of these is serious enough that the other team is immediately awarded a penalty kick, often directly resulting in points for the other team.

So even without throwing a punch, Bush is already well outside fair play.

Grasping an opponent by the back of the head and punching him in the face is beyond the pale - I've watched rugby avidly for years, and I've never seen it during an open-field tackle like this, honest - and will typically result in a player being immediately sent off.

I'm sure by next week Karl Rove will have a collection of rugby players claiming that John Kerry was even worse...
Rugby has rules? Yeah, I suppose it does.

And the consequence of this old photograph hitting the web? For those who think that rules are for losers, and that those who insist we play the rules - you know, the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and all that - are sissies, well, this photo gets Bush more votes. Harris is wrong to think otherwise.

I suspect most pro-Bush websites have posted this photo today - proudly.

Minor note - this from May 5, 2004 -
With all the controversy about John Kerry's Vietnam medals and ribbons, who'd have thought that loyal George W. Bush aide Karen Hughes would be the one to catch the President fibbing about a supposed varsity letter? In her new book, "Ten Minutes From Normal," Hughes recounts a conversation with Bush after Russian President Vladimir Putin grilled him on his Yale days.

"President Putin knew you had played rugby, but he didn't have the context. I mean, you just played for one semester in college, right?" Hughes said.

Bush corrected: "I played for a year, and it was the varsity."

Yesterday, a Yale spokeswoman confirmed that there's no such thing as varsity rugby at Yale - not when Bush was an undergrad in the 1960s ....
Screw the rules and lie too? Bush as bad boy. You have to love it. And all this is, in its own small way, a winner for Bush.

(That last reference was uncovered by Atrios over at Eshaton.)

Posted by Alan at 18:53 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 13 August 2004 14:57 PDT home

Sunday, 8 August 2004

Topic: Couldn't be so...

Political Discourse - New Factors

Here is the curious trigger -

International team to monitor presidential election
Observers will be part of OSCE's human rights office
David de Sola - CNN Sunday, August 8, 2004 Posted: 8:22 PM EDT (0022 GMT)

And the bare bones of the story?
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.

"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."

Thirteen Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers.

After Annan rejected their request, saying the administration must make the application, the Democrats asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to do so.

The issue was hotly debated in the House, and Republicans got an amendment to a foreign aid bill that barred federal funds from being used for the United Nations to monitor U.S. elections, The Associated Press reported.

In a letter dated July 30 and released last week, Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly told the Democrats about the invitation to OSCE, without mentioning the U.N. issue.

"I am pleased that Secretary Powell is as committed as I am to a fair and democratic process," said Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, who spearheaded the effort to get U.N. observers.

"The presence of monitors will assure Americans that America cares about their votes and it cares about its standing in the world," she said in a news release.
And the item goes on in more detail about the process.

And what reaction did this announcement trigger?

Needless to say, some folks are angry with this. The folks at Free Republic, one of the somewhat right of center websites out there, suggest that this calls for armed defense of our country. See a UN inspector? Shoot him (or her) dead. This is what you do when a foreign force invades your country.

Here are some of the comments -
If I see one BLUE HELMET ... No threat - just a promise! They do not have to be wearing the helmets or uniforms (then they are illegal agents) either.

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic ... SO HELP ME GOD.

Just let me see the blue helmet at my polling district. The person that's wearing it will not be harmed but don't count on that "Petty Blue" thing surviving.

I wonder how many of them have been paid by George Soros to pass themselves off as Democrats and vote.

This is bull-shiite! I'll be wearing my Sig P239 in full view. And the wife with her Walther PPKS. If a blue helmet peers behind the curtain there will be a reaction... Confrontation! This is a slap at AMERICA's face.

It is totally and 100 percent against everything I was taught about America and why I FOUGHT for this country and, yes, I even have three Purple Hearts of my own to go with it, but a hell of a lot of scars to go with them. I will continue to fight to the DEATH (theirs) to keep my family, my friends, and my country free. As the unofficial USMC motto states: I am not here to die for my country - I am here to make that other son-of-a-bitch DIE for his!
You get the idea. The UN dudes will be in some danger. Folks are ticked off by this item.

Colin Powell and Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly better watch their backs too.

Curiously, when it comes to the shooting part, the somewhat left of center folks do have a problem. They favor gun control laws, and probably don't have any guns handy. Oh well.

Personal Note: A few years ago I was dating a woman who taught French at UCLA, and one evening while driving down Sunset, near La Cienega as I recall, with the top down on the car, she asked me if I had a gun. Convertibles can, I suppose, make one feel vulnerable. She was amazed I didn't keep one handy in the car and another at home. I told her packing heat never occurred to me. Well, it hadn't. At first she just snorted derisively, but as we talked that derision soon turned to deep anger. How could I be so careless with my safety, and so cavalier with her safety? Ah, maybe she had a point, given how things are heating up these days. Needless to say that relationship didn't last long.

Posted by Alan at 21:22 PDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 9 August 2004 07:17 PDT home

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