Tuesday, November 30, 2004


So I was just in a little conversation on a message board recently about the nature of patriotism, and it got me thinking. Bear with me here for a little bit.

There's a lot of people who feel very strongly that patriotism should be taught. They feel that "American" virtues (whatever that means) should be instilled in their children just like knowledge of spelling, grammar, and mathematics. They should know the Pledge of Allegiance by heart (even though most people, I believe, don't really know what it says or means, just like the Lord's Prayer; it's just said by rote now), they should automatically stand and remove their hat the the first hint of the Star Spangled Banner, and they should start chants of "USA! USA!" whenever they feel like it (Ok, that last one may be stretching it, but not too much). But is this really patriotism?

Is someone who's told to be proud of their country really proud of their country? Or are they just doing what they were told when they were young and not questioning it? The same argument, I feel, could be made for religion, though I won't go into that now. How can you claim patriotism as a part of yourself, as one of your virtues, unless you've come to it on your own terms?

And the incorporation of all these symbols in expressing patriotism is just silly, in my opinion. Just because your lapel has an American flag doesn't mean that you're more American than I am. Just because both doors AND the antenna of your SUV have American flags on them (along with the "These Colors Don't Run" bumper sticker, most likely) doesn't make you more American, more patriotic than me. I know more than just the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner (how many people do you figure know that there's more than one?). I know all the words to "God Bless America" (Hint: the song doesn't start with "God bless America..."). I know all the verses to "America the Beautiful," "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." They even choke me up, on occasion, if I'm thinking of the right thing. I've sang a solo in an Irving Berlin medley at the Convention of the Daughters of the American Revolution. I have a t-shirt with no sleeves that has a flag on it and says "United We Stand." Am I more patriotic than most other people I know?

Ann Coulter would say yes.

I say no.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Hey, all. Sorry for not posting for a little while. I'm afraid it'll be a little while longer, probably, but I just wanted to say that the reason I didn't post was because I was gone for Lafayette/Lehigh (which we won, I hear!). If anyone has any stories from the weekend involving me, please let me know. Thanks a lot!


Wednesday, November 17, 2004


ABC may be receiving a fine from the FCC for a recent opening to an episode of Monday Night Football which featured Nicollette Sheridan's naked back. Notice I did not say backside, in which case there may be a legitimate complaint. No, it was her back. And unless she's one of those rare people who have breasts in the front and the back, I don't see what the big fuss is. The story's here.

And the evangelicals, once again, say they're not trying to take over the country. They show all the violence they want, nearly to the point of showing a Marine executing an Iraqi laying defenseless on the ground in Fallujah, but one naked back and everyone's all aflutter.

In my mind, the Janet Jackson incident makes this one look like nothing. Wait, no, that's not right. It's nothing regardless of the context which you place it in. This is getting pathetic.


Monday, November 15, 2004

O Canada?

CNN's got a story here which says basically that a number of Canadians, including immigration lawyers and some Canadian businesses are actively trying to encourage Americans dissatisfied with the election to come live in Canada.


Reasons to move to Canada, as cited by www.canadianalternative.com:

1. Canada has universal public health care.
2. Canada has no troops in Iraq.
3. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol environmental treaty.
4. More than half of Canada's provinces allow same-sex marriage.
5. The Canadian Senate recommends legalizing marijuana.
6. Canada has no law restricting abortion.
7. Canada has strict gun laws and relatively little violence.
8. The United Nations has ranked Canada the best country to live in for eight consecutive years.
9. Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.
10. Canada has not run a federal deficit since 1996-97.

Looks to me like they're not going for the Red Staters, huh?


Colin Powell resigns

So it begins. Here's a story from FOXNews about Colin Powell's resignation. This is a little scary, to me. Powell is a good guy, by my estimation, and he helped to at least give the appearance of balancing out the Bush cabinet. Now with this "mandate," who's to say who's going to come in to fill the void? I mean, there's talks that Condi Rice might pick up as Secretary of State, but then who would step in as National Security Adviser? Seems to me that it'd probably be somebody pretty damn far from the center of the political spectrum.

Evidently, as CNN just told me (the TV version.....sorry no link), Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham is resigning as well. My guess is that that Cabinet post will be split up among the members of the board of directors of Halliburton. They have a "mandate," they don't have to be secretive about it anymore.

Anyway, that's about it for now. More later.


EDIT: Word is that Rod Paige (Secretary of Education) is expected to confirm his resignation today as well, along with one more who's as-yet-unknown.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Filibuster Rule

I found this article which describes pretty well the history of the filibuster in the US Senate. It used to be a two-thirds majority of the entire Senate (67 Senators at any time) were needed to break a filibuster, and then it was reduced to two thirds of Senators present, and it's now been reduced to three-fifths of Senators present (the Democrats has damn well better make sure none of them call in sick those days). And I apologize for the previous post, as well. Where I said "Congress," it should read just "Senate."


Friday, November 12, 2004

Republicans Gone Wild

Maybe you know, maybe you don't, about the policy of the government concerning the appointment of Supreme Court Justices in the event of a vacant seat. The President presents his picks to the Congress. Congress then debates and has the power to confirm or deny the appointment. In the Senate, though, a Senator can filibuster a motion to stop it from going through. This process just entails them getting up there and saying whatever they want, to fill time, so that the session will come closer to expiring before the filibuster is broken. It takes only 40 of 100 votes to hold up a filibuster, and the Democrats have done it to 10 of Bush's federal court nominees in the past.

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader, has come out and said that this has to stop. Here's the article. He's said, "One way or another, the filibuster of judicial nominees must end." It's not surprising to hear the guy coming out in support of his President's appointments. What is a little surprising, and what makes me a little uneasy, is the "One way or another" line. It's like an at-all-costs, end-justifies-the-means type of thing. He's hinted that he's in favor of an actual change in the rules of the Senate that would prevent such filibustering in the future.

Now I'm no great fan of filibustering (besides that in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington...ever see that flick? Jimmy Stewart is the man!), but I think that it's dangerous for the Republicans to try to push their "mandate" so far that they feel they have the right to change the rules in such a way to quash opposition to their own views. Pah. Pah, I say. These are important issues, and there's a reason why a minority is allowed to have the power to delay them. Like I said, I'd be pissed if I got filibustered, but I can understand why the rule is there (and by the way, the fact that the filibuster rule is in place is evidence that 40% of a vote is a valuable enough portion of the population to merit some respect.....how much of the vote did Kerry get again? Mandate, what?). Anyway, that's my take.



Boy, ain't it good to know that Ashcroft isn't gonna let his Attorney General-ship fade softly into the night? Here's an article in which the man basically blasts all the judges who "second-guessed" the President's (and Administration's, implicitly) decisions concerning the prisoners of war in the "War on Terror." He calls them "activists," which evidently has become Republican-speak in the last few years for "people who don't agree with us." This, if I may take an aside for a second, brings us back to the whole issue of the conservatives' innate ability to redefine words (liberal, Democrat, freedom, "right," etc.) not just for themselves, but for society at large.

There shouldn't be a negative connotation to the word "activist," if you think about it. An activist should be thought of as someone who's passionate about a cause and runs with it. By Bush & Co.'s own definition, I guess we should now refer to the "activist" Catholic church, trying to push their abortion agenda.

Anyway, as I was saying, it's the right of the judicial branch of the government to operate autonomously. It's a separate but equal branch of the American government. One of three, in case Ashcroft has forgotten. During times of war, no branch becomes subordinate to any other branch. Never have, never will (I hope I hope I hope).


Global stem cell ban

I just read this on CNN.com about how the US is trying to push a global ban on stem-cell research and embryonic cloning. That's right, let that word sink in. Global. Made me a little scared, personally. And to think, people are saying that evangelical Christians aren't trying to take over the country. Well, I don't have much to say about this now. I think that, if you've heard me talk or read me writing (am I a pirate now?), my position on this would be self-explanatory.


Friday, November 05, 2004

The implications

Ok, so now that I've had some time to process what happened on Tuesday, I guess I'm ready to give my cogent analysis of what's going to happen between now and 2008.

  • The Supreme Court

There's a hell of a lot of spots potentially opening up, and despite what was said in one of the debates, I doubt like crazy that Bush doesn't have a "litmus test" for his appointees. He says that he wants candidates who interpret the constitution, but what's coming out of the other side of his mouth when he says that is nearly audible, it's so clear. He wants candidates who interpret the constitution in ways that agree with his own views. Anybody else is an "activist." Say what you will, everybody's got to admit that Kerry was very honest in his admission that he would not appoint a judge who would outlaw abortion, which was in his mind a constitutional right.

  • Legislation

With a clearer majority in both houses of Congress on the part of the Republicans, prepare to see a lot of bold legislation pushed through. Not only do they hold a clearer majority, but a lot of the Democratic senators and representatives are not by any stretch "liberal," and would be much more likely to cross party lines than would the conservative majority. There's already been a push for an amendment which would allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to be President of the United States. Well, the amendment would technically allow anybody who'd been a citizen for a certain number of years to run for President, but let's be honest--it's clearly designed for the Terminator. Prepare to see ANWR opened up for drilling, I'd think, as well. The Senate doesn't have a clear enough majority to block filibustering on judicial appointments, but they're getting there.

  • 2008

Already? Of course. Commentators started talking about the Presidential race in 2008 by the time it was the morning of November 3rd. I haven't the foggiest who the Democrats will run, but it had better not be Hillary Clinton. If she's the party's only hope, then we're in a lot bigger trouble than we ever thought. More likely to win would be a Southern or Midwestern governor, like Tom Vilsack of Iowa, or Brad Henry of Oklahoma, though I don't know if either of them (among others) have presidential aspirations. Vilsack was on the short list of consideration for Veep candidates in 2004, so his name's floating already.

As for the Republicans, I could see it possibly getting ugly. Giuliani and McCain are the two powerhouse names of the party, and they've been busy posturing themselves for it. I think that the current ultra-conservative administration would like a candidate who more clearly represents the logical progression from their own viewpoints (Giuliani and McCain are by far not toeing the party line on all issues), but I think they'd probably win out in the primaries due to their big name status and popularity. The ultra-cons would love to have somebody like Bill Owens of Colorado, for example, or maybe Jeb Bush (no matter what he says) to uphold not just the ideological dynasty, but the family dynasty (his son George Prescott Bush could be next, as well as being the first Hispanic President). If the non-US-citizen amendment were to pass, I'd think that Arnie'd probably win in a pretty big way, due to his big name and popularity, but the ultra-cons wouldn't like having someone in office who is, truly, a social liberal. I think that his name would distract even the Southerners and Midwesterners from that pesky issue, though.

  • 2006

I think that the outcome of the midterm elections will depend on whether the ultra-cons try for their overreach immediately, or in the last two years of their term. If they hold back for the first two years, they stand to gain substantially in the 2006 elections, I'd think, and then they could go for the glory between '06 and '08. If they can pretend toward bipartisanship for two years, they might even be able to get the 60 votes in the Senate needed to break a filibuster (if they don't just abolish that rule first). But I don't think they've got that patience, personally. The only question is whether the backlash reaction to the inevitable conservative overreach will come in 2006, 2008, or later, once we've realized that it's going to take a lot of work to pull America anywhere close to the center again.



Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Election -- What Else?!

So it's over. Months and years of campaigning, billions of dollars spent, and all for it to be over in less than a day. I'm not saying I'm not relieved that it is over, but there is a strange sense of emptiness in me, as though I'm not quite sure what will fill the void that this race has left in my thinking for the last few months; it also seemed a lot darker than I remember as I was out walking tonight.

There are lots of thoughts swirling through my head about this right now, but I'll try to sort it out to the few that I think are important.

  • The swing states

Anyone else a little surprised to see Florida and Ohio (the "Florida" of 2000 and of 2004, respectively, so they were projecting) be not nearly so close as all the analysts throught? I figured that the networks were going to be a lot more careful this time than they were last time, especially with the potential swing states, but that didn't turn out to really mean a lot, did it? It just meant that they'd be careful with Ohio and Florida even when it was obvious to a five-year-old that they'd been taken by Bush.

  • The turnout

To be honest, I felt a little bit betrayed on behalf of the entire part of the country which trusted that people cared enough to get out there and vote. I'll admit that early on in the night, when they were projecting that they thought 120 million people would vote, I was a bit quick to say that I wouldn't be surprised if even more got out there to vote. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a turnout of 130 million, but then again, I'm no political expert. It's been said that now, all of a sudden, it's not "cool" to be apathetic, but it appears to be only a little less cool than it was before. The youth didn't get out in the numbers that they should have (keep in mind, I'm saying this in regards to the youth at large, not just in their capacity as majority Kerry voters). I know people who didn't vote just because they didn't apply for their absentee ballots quite in time, and that's no excuse, in my mind. These are people who know about and care about the issues, and their apathy kept them from being counted again. I have no doubt that my few friends were not the only ones in such a position.

  • The chances, the polls, and "the fight"

I feel like the polls leading up to the presidency didn't mean a thing, and like this election should indicate that more than anything to us. Zogby and Gallup were like our crack and heroin for months, but in the end they didn't mean anything. I thought that Kerry had a good chance because it was the way I felt in my mind, not just from watching the polls. I thought that for the same reason that I thought the turnout would blow me away. But no matter what's said, Bush won a clear majority of the electoral college, and a clear majority (not just a plurality) of the popular vote. As such, I don't think a fight would have been worth it (not to mention the fact that there were no states close enough to swing it for him). In 2000, it was close enough for both sides to be justified in the fight, especially since Gore had only a plurality, and not the clout of a majority.

  • The summary

So where does this leave me? I'm pretty happy that the thing's over without a lengthy legal battle, no matter what the outcome. I'm glad that a precedent hasn't been set for elections like 2000's becoming the norm. I'm a little bit scared to see what's going to happen in the next four years. If the last four years were what Dubya did when he didn't have a "mandate" and when he had to worry about re-election, I'm pretty apprehensive about the possibilities until 2008. There are judicial seats opening up which will be filled by Bush, and there's still a war going on (not to mention a certain Doctrine to apply). I would not be surprised to see many things over the next four years, including:

  • Roe v. Wade overturned
  • Conflict in Iran, Syria, or North Korea
  • Constitutional amendment allowing Arnold Schwarzenegger to be President
  • Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage (unlikely, but wouldn't surprise me)

Especially with the new clear majority in the Congress, there'll be less impediments to getting any of these wedge issues passed. Conservatives are gaining the momentum to make a "change of mind" a pretty uncomfortable proposition for the forseeable future. Say, for instance, the tax cuts are made permanent, and then the country trends liberal in 20 years. It's going to be awfully hard to do anything about that, even if the politicians want to. Or even if the people want to. That's just an example, though. One of the scariest things, I think, is the clear conservative majority that'll be enjoyed in the Supreme Court. "Morals" and "values" are being championed, and as such, a lot of the personal freedoms that religious zealots have crusaded against are going to be in danger in the next four years.

Anyway, that's all I've got right now. I'll be back later. Leave some comments, dammit.