It Looks Like This (sorry, no ice cream) 

Movies You Just Have to Watch

For a change of pace...

John at blogenlust posted some dialogue from The Big Lebowski, which got me to thinking that there are some movies that, no matter how many times I've seen them, if I run across them while flipping channels I'll stay and watch to the end.

Here's my short list

The Godfather
The Princess Bride
A Few Good Men
The Outlaw Josey Wales
When Harry Met Sally
Cool Hand Luke
The Big Lebowski
An Affair to Remember (lets keep quiet about this one, okay?)

What's on your list?

Who's Got the Power?

How is it that the portion of the population who squawked because they erroneously believed John Kerry would give the UN veto power over the use of US force don't seem to have a problem with Allawi determining where and when our troops will be used in Iraq? Either he has this authority, which should be anathema to Bush supporters, or he doesn't, in which case his is a country occupied by a foreign power, which would belie the claims of us having bestowed sovreignity to the Iraqis at the end of June.

Giving Bush a Fresh Start

Writing in TIME, Andrew Sullivan says it's time "to give the winner a chance, a fresh start, a honeymoon to do what he thinks is in the best interests of the country." He goes on to say that those of us who supported Kerry and lost must have "a capacity to give even a man you voted against a chance to prove himself. If you lost, get over it."

I respectfully disagree. If a man is running for his first term as President and you vote for his opponent and your candidate loses, then I agree, it is incumbent upon you to give the victor a chance. That's where I found myself four years ago. I did not vote for George Bush but when he won I was willing to wait and see how he would perform before I passed judgement on him.

That is not the situation we find ourselves in now. The President has had four years to establish what kind of leader he is and in my view, as well as that of 48% of the voters in this country, he has been found wanting. Because 51% of the voters approve of Bush, it is not our duty to ignore all he has done over the past four years to earn our emnity and give him a mulligan. If he wants a fresh start, if he wants us to follow, if he wants to unite the country behind him, it is up to him to choose a path we can follow him down. It is not up to us to set aside our moral principles and blindly follow the leader. Those who would advocate such a course are abdicating their own responsibility for our country's actions. I cannot do that. As long as President Bush represents the United States to the world I cannot sit on the sidelines smiling stupidly when he acts in ways that I believe are immoral or against the best interests of our country. Will I, as Sullivan suggests I should, put aside my anger? I will try. Will I put aside my passion? I will not, and I wonder why to do so would be considered a good thing.

Sullivan goes on to suggest that after the events of the last few months, the President " surely understands now how divided the country has become under his presidency and how deeply flawed his war management has been." Have you seen anything in the President's words or actions to suggest that this is true, that he has a better sense now than he did previously of the degree to which and the passion by which so many people disagree with him? I don't see it. Until Bush pursues some attempt to reach out to the middle, to say nothing of the left, of our political spectrum, until he says or does anything that would discourage corrupt business interests, right wing extemists, and repressive fundamentalist Christians from believing that his reelection is their key to the kingdom and the public treasury, I will continue to withhold my support. Because you know what they say. "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again"

Arrogant Conservatism

Nice to see Michael Kinsley regain his footing. In the Los Angeles Times (sorry, registration required), he makes this observation, vis-a-vis blues (us) vs. reds:

"There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?

"I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose and where gay relationships have civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values ? as deplorable as I'm sure they are ? don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same sex, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

"We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?"

That describes as well as I've seen one of the core differences between those of us who are liberals and those who call themselves conservative. We allow for the possibility that the conservatives are right and for the most part do not impose restrictions on their lifestyles. They are sure that they are right and we are wrong and therefore believe that we must live as they wish us to. As Kinsley asks, which attitude is more arrogant and elitist?

Hey, Let's Arm the Bad Guys!!!

Just three days after the election we receive word that the estimate of the number of unaccounted for Stinger missiles loose in the world has been revised upward from 2000 to 6000. Yes, that's right, it's tripled. Where did these additional 4000 missiles come from? Yes, that's right, they were in Iraq's prewar arsenal and are now unaccounted for. A war fought to keep Saddam from turning his weapons over to terrorists (revised reason 17.a.3) has succeeded in placing 4000 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles in the hands of terrorists. How special. We invaded a country that was not a threat to us and have ensured that the insurgents and terrorists there have lethal means to resist us.

A senior administration official said "there is no evidence they have left the country (Iraq)." Of course, there's no evidence they haven't, either.

A Holy War on Terrorism?

In response to a comment made by Jerry Falwell on CNN, that President Bush should blow away all the terrorists "in the name of the Lord," a number of clergymen and experts in religion have questioned the use of the Lord's name in that way. According to David Gushee of Union University in Tennessee, although fighting terrorists "is a morally legitimate exercise of military must be recognized that in terms of Christian moral thought, even justified wars are not to be treated as if they are being fought 'in the name of the Lord.'"

I wonder how this issue plays out in pulpits across America, particulary in the south and midwest. Is the war on terrorism being widely portrayed as a holy war? Or is Falwell just a blowhard who has once again crossed a line? It's revealing of Falwell that he believe this, although, at this late date, it mostly confirms what I would have suspected. I don't know though, if it's revealing of much more than that, on a broader scale, and it strikes me that it would be important to know that.

I Don't Know if This Means Anything, but...

Does this look familiar?

Slave - Free States 1860Split between Slave and Free states in 1860. Tan territories allowed slaves

Election 20042004 election results map

(Update: Digby, however, does have some thoughts on what it means. Read them and report back.)

Finally, Reflections on an Election Lost

For various reasons, not the least of them a balky computer, I've not before now had a chance to post here my thoughts on the election. Some of the things I would have written would have been driven by emotion more than by cool rational analysis, and I'm glad now that I was unable to get them up here. I hate eating my words.

I want to write first about John Kerry. A year or so ago, when there were still ten Democratic candidates, Kerry wouldn't have cracked my top four. When it became clear that he would be the nominee I was a good deal less than thrilled. As he struck me as far too cautious as a candidate and moderate as a Senator, I found it ironic that the Republicans went to such great lengths to successfully paint him as the most liberal member of the Senate. If only it were so, I thought.

I came to have a great deal of respect for him, though, as a man, as a senator, and as a candidate. He has, as an adult, done everything you could ask of a man in public service. He served honorably and bravely in a war he did not believe in, displaying courage and leadership under pressure. When he returned from the war he followed his conscience to expose the horrors of that war to Congress and the American people. Efforts to paint that as a politically opportunistic act are simply absurd. There is no way anybody at that time could have viewed a floppy haired veteran very publicly speaking out against a war we were still fighting as a calculated step towards some time in the future building a political career. It should have been political suicide. But because it was not a calculated move, because it was the act of a man following his sense of duty and his conscience, it came to fit neatly into his life of public service, along side his tours in Vietnam and his investigations of Iran-Contra and BCCI in the Senate.

I heard a caller on AirAmerica the other day say that, coming from a place where she felt the same reservations I did, she came to love John Kerry. I'm not going there, but I came to respect and admire him as a man and as the Democratic candidate for President. John Kerry would have made a good president. He still is a good man. Let's not denigrate him for what he wasn't. Let's appreciate him for what he was and is. Let's thank him for putting himself out there for us.

There are some who believe we need to learn better how to play the Republican leasdership's game. That we should get down there in the shit with them and lie and cheat and steal to win elections, as they do. I don't think we need to. I don't know if Republicans can win national elections by telling the truth and being honorable, by addressing the American people with facts and honest arguments about what they have done and what they intend to do. Apparently they don't think they can. I believe we can, though. Because, quite frankly, we are better than they are. We have faith that what we are doing and what we believe in is right and that if we honestly present that to the public we will win. The Republicans know that too, and that's why they lie about what they are up to as well as what we are about. They know that they cannot win a battle of facts, that they will lose if the truth prevails. We have to insist, at all times, on speaking the truth, on believing that what we are doing is right and acting accordingly.

I don't know how we go about convincing a majority of Americans of this, but I think we need to bear in mind that despite what conservative pundits from George Will down to Adam Yoshida want us to believe, those of us who supported and voted for Kerry are not the lunatic fringe. There were fifty five million of us, more than ever voted for a candidate before this election. We were devastated by the results of this election not because we lost badly, but because we lost an election we thought we would win. We were close. We still are close. It's not that big a gap, and we can and will close it by being who we are.

About the Reaction I Expected

Daily Mirror

And this was one of the milder reactions.

The Resistance Will Continue

Here's Bush's olive branch to Kerry voters:

"I will need your support and I will work to earn it," the president said in an appeal to the 55 million Americans who voted for his Democratic rival. "We are entering a season of hope," he said.

As he's done nothing to earn our support for the last four years, when he would presumably need it for reelection, is it reasonable to believe that he will actually do anything to earn it now? Do any of you believe he will now, after four years of being the most divisive President in my lifetime (a lifetime that includes Presidents Johnson and Nixon), begin to try to make good on his promise of being "a uniter, not a divider?"

I for one believe that he's just warming up in his assault on our freedoms and the American experiment in liberal government and it's time for us to take a few days and a few drinks to work through this loss, and come back resolved to fight him on all fronts. Voting for President is something we do once every four years. The opportunities to exercise our democratic rights come along daily. We've lost an election. It was significant, but it's not everything. Let's give Bush and the Republicans four years of hell.

I guess you could say I'm rejecting Bush's peace gesture.

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