12.14.2004

Revolution: a different view

I don't know about you, but I can hear it. I can feel it. It's bubbling just under the surface, with Congressional testimony of tinker-thieves and vanished votes. It's riding on the tide of recrimination against a SecDef bereft of accountability or empathy. It's careening around and echoing off the fractured walls of the Democratic Party.

The revolution isn't coming. The revolution is here.

"The tree of liberty," Thomas Jefferson said, "must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." That's probably Jefferson's most famous quote. While it is most often employed in a cautionary tone, and while it may invoke the idea of revolt rather than the idea of revolution, I argue that we are already bleeding profusely.

I argue that in a country that upholds itself as the exemplar of democracy, it is an act of violence to deprive a citizen of his or her right to vote, and that the act is even more egregious when the citizen is led to believe his or her vote was counted. While reasonable people continue to dispute whether the net effect of such instances would have changed the outcome of our Presidential election, the evidence of organized efforts to suppress the democratic process in this country for partisan reasons is incontravertible. If you doubt that the stakes are life and death, consider the decisions our President makes every day. Put yourself in the shoes of a National Guardsman, a true patriot and father, whose tour has been extended as a result of misbegotten policy, and tell me we are not paying the price in blood.

How many of us have seen protests put down with violence, at least until the TV cameras show up?

Does anyone doubt that we are living under the formal definition of tyranny in today's United States? We are being called to fear, conditioned to fear, subjected to ever-increasing doses as our tolerance inches higher, almost unnoticed, month after month. No one in power speaks of an end to our condition. We are told to get used to it. We are told to get in line and buy our camera phones. We are told to watch what we say. When we object to intrusions into our homes, our mail, and our personal habits, we're told that we shouldn't have anything to worry about if we're not hiding anything.

None of this feels right to us. I imagine it feels wrong even to most of the people who voted Republican in November. It feels wrong because it's not American. This isn't my country, and I want it back. So many of you feel the same way, and so many of you are nobly fighting the war of ideas and values. Ultimately, the war of ideas and values must become a war of behavior. It has to become a revolution, natural-born.

I'm not advocating bloodshed, certainly no more than is currently being visited upon us. I'm advocating revolution as the wholesale dismissal of fear. I'm advocating revolution as disobedience en masse. I know you're feeling me.

Does anyone think it immoral for electronically disenfranchised voters or gay victims of marriage discrimination to cease paying taxes to a government that no longer gives them a voice or represents their interests? Impractical, perhaps, but how desperate do things have to get before desperate measures are taken?

Bring it even closer to home. Does the Democratic Party of today or tomorrow represent your values? Does anyone think it immoral for genuine liberals or progressives to hold their party to higher standards, or abandon it if it shows itself willing to compromise our most dearly held principles? Impractical, maybe, but how many palatable hedge artists deserve a turn at bat? When will we agree that vision, leadership, and even defiance are the only way out of this dark alley?

It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Revolution implies the existence of cycles, circular progressions. The Mayan calendar "rolls over" in another eight years, in what Terence McKenna has predicted as a "harmonic convergence." The nature of the change he and others predict is uncertain, but metaphysicists suggest we may be approaching an inflection point in reality itself, after which power structures become irrelevant and absurd. Perhaps it's a coincidence that 2012 is an election year, and perhaps it's not, but the signs of revolution on the rise are everywhere. The emergence of this community, for example.

The purpose of this diary is not to pontificate, but to stimulate ideas -- and not the incremental kind. What does the revolution look like from where you sit? What's your part in it? And when will we know it's over?

12.09.2004

Fuzzy, Fuzzier, Fuzziest: Junior's SS Math

So, Junior launched his new "initiative" to save Social Security this afternoon. From the AP:

"President Bush on Thursday flatly ruled out raising payroll taxes to ensure the solvency of Social Security as he began a push for historic changes in the retirement program... 'I will not prejudge any solution,' Bush said."

AP's been doing a pretty good job of late juxtaposing contradictory comments like this as they issue forth like explosive flatus from the mouth of Junior and his lackeys, but this contradiction like most will slide right under the radar of the mainstream media. Which is shameful, since this charade is particularly emblematic of the politically fantastic, utterly irrational, and mind-bogglingly ignorant economic policies of this administration.

"'Does this country have the will to address this problem? I think it must,' Bush said, sitting next to Treasury Secretary John Snow and the members of his panel."

If the country has the will, Bush is certainly not about to call upon that will. The only way to save Social Security, as any impartial and credentialed economist will tell you, is to raise additional revenue to make good on future payments. In other words, taxes.

Loathe to electrocute himself on the third rail lest he suffer the same tax-hiker legacy as dear old 41, Junior puts forth his alternative: private accounts. There's only one problem. If private accounts are offered as an alternative to paying into the public trust that in today's model is Social Security, the Bush plan would diminish revenue; perhaps slightly, perhaps significantly. But it will never and can never increase revenue. This plan is in intention and construction a replacement for Social Security.

Of course, this is a tactic designed to appeal to those who respond in a Pavlovian way to Rove's "Ownership Society" premise. Only for those who live hand to mouth, and even for those on fixed incomes or those in the middle class, this plan paves the way for a "You're On Your Ownership Society," and it ain't hard to connect the dots to a future where America's elderly die poor and penniless in vast numbers.

Junior Reassures Many Family; Many Appeased

Said Junior: "If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country, I'd want to ask the secretary of defense the same question, and that is, 'Are we getting the best we can get us?'"

Well asked!

American soldiers "deserve the best," the president said, adding that "I've told many family I've met with, 'We're doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones.'"

I've told many family I've met with.

And Junior, I'm sure that The Many Family appreciates that you're doing everything you can to protect Corporal Many (with the obvious, nit-pickity exception of extending his tour so we can send him ill-prepared into live-fire zones to root out booby traps with his face).

12.01.2004

As Stupid Does

There's a rationale making the rounds among Junior supporters these days for the war in Iraq, perhaps benefiting from right wing talk radio innuendo, that is so preposterous, such an nauseating affront to reason, that the Administration itself doesn't dare speak a word of it (which doesn't mean it won't find its way into one of those laughable Heritage Foundation memos soon, of course).

As the famous Milgram Experiment demonstrated, the human mind has a fascinating, almost gymnastic capacity to rationalize and justify past behavior, even in the face of compelling evidence that this behavior was cruel or inhuman. And so, in the face of vanishing reasons for waging a bully's war with a hobbled power, chickenhawks have collectively embraced this doozie:

Junior and his advisors invaded Iraq not to seize weapons of mass destruction and eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, but to draw terrorists from all over the Middle East into one place so we could finish them off, and in so doing win the Woron Terra. As one member of my immediate family argued recently, "How else could you get Islamic terrorists to congregate in one place like Fallujah or Mosel (sic) so that they can be neatly massacred? When you have been taught to believe that dying is good and honorable, you can't resist jumping on the pile."

As jingoism, the idea drips with Machiavellian brilliance. Of course the Administration can't cop to it -- it's jess plain maverick!

When you scratch the surface, though, the stench of shit overpowers.

Among other assinine assumptions, this theory presumes that terrorists do not multiply, or are not made, in occupied territories and war zones -- or, for that matter, in an Arab world where televisions now function reliably. We know that's false. Evidence that Zarqawi may have spent time in Baghdad prior to 9/11 hardly constitutes proof of significant pre-war al Qaeda presence in Iraq; we have unearthed more al Qaeda operatives in Rochester, NY. In wartime Iraq, in contrast, there is no doubt that anti-American violence is significant and increasing. We push into Fallujah and insurgencies erupt in Mosul, in Najaf. Progress eludes. Public opinion of the American occupying forces deteriorates. And no evidence is produced -- none whatsoever -- to indicate that we are killing al Qaeda in significant numbers.

And assuming we are, so what? When a car bomb takes out 15 post-adolescent Marines, or when a hapless civilian contractor is beheaded, what's the difference whether the perpetrator was an Iraqi native, a Sunni, a Baathist, an al Qaeda operative from Jordan, or a Canadian hockey fan with a plate in his skull? Our enemies are multiplying, and their nationalities and ideologies make them no more or less lethal.

If you haven't read what America's most respected military retirees have to say about Iraq, about the folly we've undertaken, about the strategic blunders, about the cities we're turning into perpetual meat grinders, then you're doing yourself a disservice. These leaders -- these men and women of experience, courage, reason and truth -- speak plainly and sadly. They agree that this war is doomed to failure by any measure. They stand against the dilettantes and the chickenhawks, but somehow the dilettantes and chickenhawks caw on, emboldened by a nation of people all too willing to distort the facts to excuse their crimes.

11.30.2004

Rugby Ridge

Well, great, that’s just great. Who the hell is going to man the dial on the Fear-o-meter now?

Tom Ridge, who politely waited after the sting of the previous litany of Junior’s cabinet resignations subsided a little, is now gone, too. He says he wants to spend more time watching his son play rugby.

I can relate. If faced with the choice, I would probably rather watch my beloved, fragile offspring bite off his tongue trying to drag a slab of pigskin across a chalk line than fall asleep every night with the knowledge that if some deluded zealot blows himself into chuck in a Wal-Mart someplace, I’m going to wake up to three hundred million freaked out Americans who want answers from ME. There were six orange alerts under Ridge’s watch, and not a single terrorist attack on our soil. If I were him, I’d cash in my chips, too.

Unlike Junior, Ridge is not as dumb as he seems on television. He's self-made, well-educated, and he's been a dutiful and fairly capable public servant. And unlike John "Moses" Ashcroft, at least his parting words were modest and measured:

“I am confident that the terrorists are aware that from the curb to the cockpit we’ve got additional security measures that didn’t exist a couple years ago, that from port to port we do things differently with maritime security. I am confident they know the borders are more secure. I am confident they know we have developed and are sharing information with state and local law enforcement.”

I am confident they know that stuff, too, but that doesn't necessarily make me feel safe. And unfortunately, what history will probably remember about Ridge is the politically timely manner in which changes to the terror alert level were announced. Most recently, for example, the alert level dropped the day after Ashcroft issued his preposterous statement that “the objective of securing the American people from crime and terror has been achieved," as if to throw the delusional old man a bone.

Nonetheless, in this administration full of howling incompetents, Ridge shone in his mediocrity. He might, sort of, like, be missed. Kind of.


11.28.2004

Prediction, Stranger Than Fiction

Slide over, Nostradamus.

Thanks to Dan Chak from Seattle for reprinting with permission the following post-inaugural piece from The Onion, complete with embedded links that point out exactly how prescient, impactful, and effective satire can be.

Almost four years later, nearly every sarcastic barb in this classic piece has actually come to pass as sad fact. The only thing missing, as far as I can see, is the prediction that after four years of economic misery and global chest-puffing, people will line up proudly in droves to re-elect the man who made it all possible.

Looking into my own crystal ball, I feel a big news week approaching...

11.26.2004

Read This Now

I will not make it a practice of simply copying and pasting other people's work without my own analysis or comment, but I happened upon this article today and it speaks so eloquently to our problem that I feel compelled to share it.

"What Became of Conservatives?"

by Paul Craig Roberts

I remember when friends would excitedly telephone to report that Rush Limbaugh or G. Gordon Liddy had just read one of my syndicated columns over the air. That was before I became a critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration, and the neoconservative ideologues who have seized control of the U.S. government.


America has blundered into a needless and dangerous war, and fully half of the country's population is enthusiastic. Many Christians think that war in the Middle East signals "end times" and that they are about to be wafted up to heaven. Many patriots think that, finally, America is standing up for itself and demonstrating its righteous might. Conservatives are taking out their Vietnam frustrations on Iraqis. Karl Rove is wrapping Bush in the protective cloak of war leader. The military-industrial complex is drooling over the profits of war. And neoconservatives are laying the groundwork for Israeli territorial expansion.


Read the rest of the article here.

We're Sorry Howard

Dear Howard Dean,

On behalf of progressives everywhere, I apologize. I'm really, really, really, really sorry.

I'm sorry that so many of us were unable to see the strength, clarity and integrity that you demonstrated in opposing the invasion of Iraq from the start, and without qualification. You got it right, and nearly everyone else who mattered got it wrong. How you go a waking moment these days without telling the world "I told you so" is beyond me.

I'm sorry that the media got scared of a genuine and unapologetic progressive. For all the self-serving wingeing they do about slick politicians, and for all the lip service they give to the notion of plainspoken, honest leadership, they sure do get cold feet when the real deal comes along. They were loaded for bear when you made that speech in Iowa, you know. They were waiting for a reason to kneecap you because they were scared gutless of anything but palatably average. And palatably average they got.

I'm sorry we let them paint you like a nut. It wasn't fair.

I remember my wife called me into the bedroom to watch that speech. "You gotta see this guy," she said. "He's so passionate. Look at how fired up that crowd is!" And God, they were. The real reaction to that infamous scream of yours was right there, in the moment, with those people. The press's rearview reaction to it was contrived, hysterical and unfair; anything sounds stupid when you parse it and play it over and over and over. I expected guys like Hannity and Buchanan to weaponize that outburst against you, but Chris "Windsock" Matthews earned a special place in Hell for playing along.

I should have stood up and said something then. We all should have stood up and said something. I'm sorry.

Here's the thing: you should be the President-elect right now. I know it. Plenty of us know it. Watching Junior bang away at Kerry's inconsistencies in the last few weeks of that tragic campaign, I couldn't help but think, "Rove is right... I have no goddamn idea where this man stands... he has Kerry by the short hairs." If you'd been the progressives' candidate, Howard, nobody would have even had to ask where you stood, and I believe that people would have stood by you as a result.

I know this isn't much consolation, and I know it takes a lot of nerve, but a lot of us would be really, really grateful if you agreed to Chair the DNC for a while. I'm not even a Democrat, but as a political force, the party is the only thing that can dig in its heels against the incestuous, soul-crushing power trio of industry, church and state. Most of us either believe in, respect, or contribute to those institutions in one way or another; we simply distrust the motives and influence they wield when they are combined or co-mingled. And we're not headed that way, Howard. We're there already. The Republican Church of Clear Channel, Inc. is buying up bandwidth with the spoils of government interference with the unabashed aim of controlling airwaves and therefore message, and they know it's going to be years before their mega-audience gets Sirius. 1984 arrived 20 years late.

The party is divided how to deal with it, but the good news is that one side is right and the other side is wrong. A lot of people in the party are saying the Dems need to look more like the Republicans. If you take this job they will pressure you to behave. To be a polite centrist. I don't think you will. And that's why I think you're the man to turn the battleship around.

We don't deserve you, but we need you. What do you say?

11.24.2004

Who Does This Ukraine Guy Think He Is Anyway?

Ukraine Rejects U.S. Vote Results

Kiev (DP) -- Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma said Wednesday the Ukraine cannot accept the results of elections in the United States, which the opposition says was marred by fraud. Kuchma warned "there will be consequences" for the Ukraine's relationship with the U.S. as a result.

Kuchma spoke shortly after election officials in America declared that incumbent George W. Bush won the election over opposition candidate John Kerry. The announcement raised fears of violence in Washington, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have been demanding that the results be overturned.

"We cannot accept this result as legitimate because it does not meet international standards" and allegations of fraud hadn't been investigated, Kuchma said at a news conference.

Kuchma said he spoke with President George Bush and urged that his government not crack down on demonstrators. He also spoke with other leaders, including Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Kuchma did not elaborate about his conversation with Bush, but said he advocated a solution to the crisis in the U.S. that is "based on the law, using legal procedures."

Ukrainian officials confirmed Tuesday that they had summoned the White House and discussed the election. The White House described the meeting as "unprecedented interference" in another country's affairs.

© 2004 The Dissociated Press. All rights in jeopardy. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed, and we very well may wiretap your ass for looking funny.

Read the real article here.

11.23.2004

And Smoke Comes Out Of His Ears When He Thinks, Too

The shit-hot new catch phrase used to describe Junior in the wingnut blogosphere is "he clanks when he walks." Don't believe me? Google it. And assuming this is meant as an allusion to the spurs-and-holster cowboy heroes of Ford-era Westerns, it's as revealing as it is worthy of priceless ridicule.

First, the priceless ridicule, courtesy of The Village Voice.

Now the revealing part.

That so many voters and even pundits obviously want to believe that their tenderfoot, country club ass-pilot of a President is in fact a rough-hewn frontiersman speaks disturbing volumes about the collective political psyche of middle America. After all, this is an image Junior cultivated by quoting Bon Jovi songs that themselves quoted cliched spaghetti Westerns, and by walking across the White House lawn with his arms suspended outward from his sides as if he were ready to draw double guns at the first sign of Injuns. Call them highly suggestible, call them wishful thinkers, or call them rubes, but 53% of our countrymen and women bought it -- lock, stock and two rubber barrels.

Actually, come to think of it, Rummy does sort of look like Gabby Hayes...

Lauded Photog Says War Reporting Is "Futile"

Just caught an interview on NPR with award-winning L.A. Times photographer Luis Sinco, who captured some phenomenal images from the Fallujah campaign.

Luis is home for good. "I'm not going back to Iraq anytime soon," he says. "It's a losing battle. In the year and a half we've been covering the story, opinions at home haven't changed."

While I don't necessarily agree with Sinco's assumption (who knows what impact reportage has had on popular support or lack thereof), I think his general sentiment is symptomatic of the bigger problem I keep referring to on this site. Specifically, at least 53% of the people in this country are deaf and blind to the truth. They refuse to open their eyes and ears to it lest they feel compelled to abandon their faith in our "leadership," or forsake the comfort that comes with the facile lies they spin about how we're safer at home, and how "freedom is on the march" abroad.

Sinco is dead right to feel like his efforts are Sisyphean, especially because the vast majority of the images he and his colleagues capture are deemed "too shocking" to see the light of day in this country.

Of course it's shocking. We're razing a country and slaughtering thousands of its inhabitants for a rationale that to this day remains muddled... at least to anyone who's paying attention.

The Fat Lady Done Sang

The New York Times reports that 82% of Americans polled believe Bush won a legitimate victory on November 2, 2004 -- compared to only 50% who believe he won legitimately in 2000.

Here's a shocker: I'm among the 82%.

Reason says it's over. The truth is we lost. As much as it may turn your stomach, Bush won, and "four more years" is no longer the other side's foreboding mantra. It's reality. Turn the phrase over on your tongue a few times, and savor the taste of blood and gunmetal.

Yes, we should and must count every ballot and do whatever else it takes to restore and preserve confidence in our system, and there are good people doing that in Ohio and everywhere else where it matters. As a political bellwether, however, this issue has gone frigidly cold. Liberals and progressives and activists who dwell on it are wasting precious energy that's better spent rediscovering what they share in common, drawing attention to "warm" issues like corruption in Congress, or defining the next big battleground.

Give up. Then get up.

Four more years is all we can afford.

11.22.2004

Clear Channel Says Thanks, Jams Head Up Colin Jr. (Via Bush Junior)

As if you needed more evidence that Clear Channel was the neo-corporate manifestation of PURE EVIL, have a gander here.

It is possible see a lot of genuinely gross shit on the side of the road on I-4 near Orlando (dead possums, vulture bait, lard-ass Disney-bound Republican tourists with plumber's crack changing a tire on their doublewide), but pity the poor Orlandans now. I'd almost rather lick a hunk of week-old road kill than be forced to pass Junior's smirking visage everyday on my way into work. Especially when emblazoned with the caption, "Our Leader."

I know you're throwing good money after good, Clear Channel -- after all, Junior Part I turned out right nicely for you, what with Michael Powell taking a juicy bite out of Viacom's hide, and Junior Part II promises to be a barn dance -- but let's be reasonable. Junior isn't leading anyone anywhere. He's ruling, and from time to time bequeathing spoils upon his benefactors and sycophants (like you, dig?).

So enough with the billboards, already; you have a burgeoning monopoly to care for, and four years to make it happen.

Chop chop!

When The Only Tool You Have Is A Hammer...

...you might as well bang on shit.

Friedman Lays An Egg

In his Sunday NYT column, Thomas Friedman -- always hell-bent to make sure he never, ever, ever writes anything that anyone might be able to disagree with, ever -- suggests that troop morale is just ducky in Iraq, and that that alone is reason to have hope that our mission there will succeed. "They'll tell us if it's time to go or stay," he says.

This is the foulest kind of pussyfooted hawk-pandering, and an afront to reason and truth. Why?

Firstly, Friedman bases his sunny opinion on troop morale on two personal encounters, both of which were staged for him. Ample evidence to the contrary, both anecdotal and statistical, exists in both mainstream and alternative sources. One conflicting data point to consider: is it righteous optimism that causes a soldier to blow a wounded combatant's brains out, or is it nihilistic terror and exhaustion?

Secondly, it's one thing to assume that our forces will "tell us" the best course of action; it is another altogether to assume that we will listen. It is certain that we didn't listen on November 2nd.

Thirdly, if they tell us and we listen, what then? What if they tell us it's time to cut and run, and we as a nation agree? Can we trust this administration to heed public opinion?

Finally, consider the words of America's most respected retired military leaders, who offered their own opinions about our so-called "mission" in Iraq, and our likelihood of achieving it (taken from this month's feature by Paul Alexander in Rolling Stone):

- "We have a force in Iraq that's much too small to stabilize the situation." (Gen. Tony McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff 1990-94)

- "Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror the same way Vietnam was a diversion from the Cold War." (McPeak)

- "It's a huge strategic disaster and it will only get worse." (Lt. Gen William Odom, Director of the NSA, 1985-88)

- "Did we have to do this? I saw the intelligence right up to the day of the war, and I did not see any imminent threat there. If anything, Saddam was coming apart... we had him by the throat." (Gen. Anthony Zinni, CINCOM 1997-2000)

- "Have you seen an American strategic blunder this large? The answer is: not in fifty years." (Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, 1997-2000).

- "They thought that once Iraq fell we'd have a similar effect throughout the Middle East and terrorism would evaporate, blah, blah, blah. All of these were terrible assumptions. A State Department study advising otherwise was sent to Rumsfeld, but he threw it in the wastebasket... There is not a very good answer for what to do next." (Adm. William Crowe, 1985-89).

Unless you believe Thomas Friedman, I guess.

11.20.2004

Thanks

Thanks to everyone who's already been by to check out the new site, to everyone who's taken the time to engage with a comment or two, and to the folks out there in the blogosphere and elsewhere who've been kind enough to post links to The Termite.

I'm incomputercado for the next day and a half visiting my slightly-right-of-Stalin* mother and stepfather and resisting the temptation to duct tape them to the furniture. If it's your first visit, I humbly suggest you start here and work your way up.

See you soon.

* see comments

11.19.2004

Five Alarm Chile

You know it's bad when the people who endured the Pinochet regime call your President a fascist.

11.18.2004

And Iran, Iran So Far Away...

American intelligence now suggests that nuclear warheads lobbed out of Iran using missile technology pose an imminent threat to targets within an 800 mile radius. We're talking as far south as Cairo, as far north as Warsaw, and as far east as Calcutta (three cities I'd like to visit someday, provided they don't have radioactive half-lives and roaches the size of a Volvo). The scenario also suggests that next-gen missiles will be able to carry these warheads almost 2,200 miles, which means a shit sandwich for supper in places like China, Russia, and the vast majority of Western Europe (including dutiful Great Britain).

Forgive my cynicism, but is this intelligence, or "intelligence?" Because the whole thing just seems too credible and too well timed.

The mouthpiece? The outbound Colin Powell, who is not only trusted implicitly even by most doves, but presumably has zilch to gain politically by trumping up a cassus belli and teeing up Junior's next goose hunt.

If I were a bastard cynic, I'd consider that perhaps the administration is floating a balloon to see how the notion of turning Teheran into a Wal-Mart will play in Topeka. They didn't produce any hard and actionable evidence, so it won't be hard to back down if it doesn't play. Then they can wait until this nation of "complacent patriots" forgets the painful lessons of Iraq -- as they inevitably will -- and off we'll go again.

But since I'm not a bastard cynic, I'll assume the intelligence is genuine. Which begs the question: why so late? Why did we take our eye off the b-...

Oh, yeah. Now I remember.

11.17.2004

Porter-san Politics

Porter Goss wrote a memo, and it goes a little something like this (emphasis mine):

"I also intend to clarify beyond doubt the rules of the road. We support the administration, and its policies in our work as agency employees. We do not identify with, support or champion opposition to the administration or its policies. We provide the intelligence as we see it -- and let the facts alone speak to the policymaker."

Now, I'll admit that the central message of this paragraph is somewhat unclear. If I were a CIA employee, I might be confused, and uncertain as to how Porter-old-boy wanted me to behave on the job. But, if I were a CIA employee, I'd also be adept at deciphering code, so I'd probably parse it a little and break down the meaning of each sentence (ignoring the introductory one).

The meaning of the first sentence seems clear, and rather sterile: "We back the boss." So far, so good.

The meaning of the second sentence seems connotatively clear ("Any enemy of the boss is an enemy of mine"), but literally ambiguous. Does "opposition" mean (a) Democrats, (b) al Qaeda, or (c) other? If (b), then who in the CIA would need to be reminded that al Qaeda's goals are not aligned with those of the Agency? And if (c), then who is "other?"

The meaning of the third sentence, like the first, seems clear: "We deliver information that is objective and accurate and devoid of political agenda."

So in sum what we have is two almost tautological messages sandwiching one cryptic message. In the intelligence community, meaning is often derived from chatter and noise -- and focus applied to a point of data -- by asking the simple question: "Which of these things is not like the other?"

In this case, it's pretty clear.

So why are Porter's and his porters objecting so strenuously to the media's interpretation of his statement as an attempt to influence CIA output in a partisan way (which would, for obvious reasons, be scandalous)? If it weren't partisan and scandalous, why would someone at the Agency bother to leak it to the press?

And if that third sentence is just so much noise, how can American intelligence be anything but an oxymoron?

Word Association

Ready? "Activist judges."

Bet I know what your answer was. "Gay marriage," right? Right.

"Activist judges" is Rovespeak for "fag lovers," really. You can tell it's code because of the oafish way Junior emphasized the phrase during his fall stump speeches (think: "exaggeration"). But closer examination shows the shrewdness of this deception.

"Activist" connotes "uppity." In this context, it implies that not only is the "sanctity of marriage" under attack by these Godless homos, but that the Constitution is under attack as well by some shadowy star chamber of power-drunk, robed renegades hell bent to destroy our nation. Truth and reason tell us both are false.

First things first:

What does the "sanctity of marriage" truly mean?

Is it the sanctity of the institution?

In Christian matrimonial liturgy, as people of true Christian faith should know, the institution of marriage is of God and given by God. To people of true faith, the institution of marriage is divine and unassailable, and therefore in no jeopardy of being diminished by the acts of man -- be they gay weddings, goat weddings, or doggie divorces.

Is it the health of the institution in society?

Interesting question. Where do we stand? What is the measure? About half of American heterosexual marriages (Christian and non-Christian) end in divorce, and about 70% of men have cheated on their wives. Fewer young heterosexual couples are choosing marriage than ever before -- in fact, the only group who seems passionate about wanting to get married these days is homosexuals. If you believe marriage is a pillar of our society, which the facts certainly support, then you must also accept that the pillar was crumbling long before the gay marriage flap.

Should we as a society champion monogamy? If so, we should champion gay marriage, and those of us who are married should look to ourselves as individuals to uphold the sanctity of marriage and family in our own lives.

Tomorrow: What is an activist judge, anyway?

11.16.2004

Who Said This?

Junior has "basically declared war on [Washington] with a very narrow set of alliances." Who said this?

(a) Tom Daschle
(b) John Kerry
(c) Bruce Springsteen
(d) Pat Buchanan

What does it say about the current climate when the Right feels more comfortable criticizing itself than the Left does?

Reid, for a Righter Left

I don't want to sound like the harbinger of doom, but Harry Reid (D, NV), Tom Daschle's replacement as Senate Minority Leader, shows that Democratic leadership is still too deep in the throes of self-flagellation to make a strategically sound decision.

Why does this one stink? Because it's not an appointment; it's an apology.

Reid is against abortion rights and against gun control, and naming him is a naked appeasement of the power-drunk Values Police on the Hill. It says more than, "We're looking forward to six years of constructive debate and cooperative progress, so here's a guy you can relate to." It says, "Gosh, we're sorry about that uppity Daschle wingnut. Who knows what he was thinking? I mean, we Democrats can hardly wait until you Republicans finish your gratuitous endzone dance so we can get to work at teabagging your collective nutsack, so here's a guy who could just as easily be playing for your team. Hey, here's another idea: why don'tcha e-mail us a list of amendments you'd like to write into the Constitution (think outside the box)!!! Soon as we get those from ya, we'll get cracking on a draft. Meantime, fellas, please don't grind us into pulp. Cheerio!"

There are many miles to go before we sleep.

Privatize This

George Will, a guy who occasionally does right by reason and truth, gets it painfully wrong here.

The Liberal Elite, he says, suffer from a lack of faith in the people (which in the accepted Republican lexicon are called "consumers") to do the simplest of things, like walk and chew gum at the same time, or bathe without bringing powered appliances. It is the Liberal Elite's snotfaced disdain for the common man, he says, that leads us to be skeptical of Junior's agenda to privatize social security, and let consumers invest as they please.

Word to George:

It's called "social security" for a reason. It was formulated as a social instrument and not a private one, because we agreed as a society that volatility in private markets put large populations of aging Americans at risk of dying poor. We didn't like that idea much, nor the reality of it. So social security was born as a social contract. Pay in as you age, take out what you put in later. Sounds reasonable.

Of course, since we just couldn't imagine a world without fig subsidies and Star Wars, social security is hurtling toward insolvency, and the social contract, by some estimates, may be worth little more than the paper on which it's written. So what do we do? We could swallow the horse pill now and make it right, or we could hand every American a pair of dice and say, "Good luck."

Don't accept that analogy? Then consider that investing wisely requires an understanding of risk and return. It demands a fundamental understanding of macro and microeconomics. In how many inner city schools you know of are these subjects taught to children and young adults? Who's going to teach them that the growth fund that earned thirty percent last year has an even chance of tanking tomorrow? Their broker on the Street?

This isn't a question of trusting people to do what's right with their own hard-earned money. It's a question of how we can in good conscience unravel a social contract that most people still believe is worth saving, and replace it with a system that once again favors the wealthy and the educated.

We don't disdain the common people, George. We fear for them.