July 31, 2004
On This Day
St. Ignatius of Loyola, died in Rome.
The Marquis de Lafayette, a 19 year old French nobleman, was made a major-general in the American Continental Army.
Coast Guard Academy was established.
Germany's Weimar Constitution was adopted.
- Joatmoaf -
Kerry Plays The Gender Card
My God - I just realized that if George Bush is elected, we'll go back to the days when women were chained to the stove, barefoot and pregnant...
Where's Lorena Bobbett when you need her?
The Party's Over
David Brooks is feeling those morning-after blues.
What If They're Right?
I'm always searching for articles from the 'other side of the fence' on the theory that it's not a bad idea to find out what one's ideological opponents are thinking. It sharpens the mind and challenges cherished notions that might otherwise languish, like dusty treasures laid away in an old maid's hope chest: useless because they never see the light of day. Often I've been forced to re-examine my own bias after reading a particularly well reasoned argument, even if I rejected the author's ultimate conclusion.
In the final analysis, our ideas rarely evolve unless they are subjected to rigorous scrutiny. But how often do we have the courage to confront our prejudices and ask ourselves the tough questions that help us grow as intellectuals and human beings?
I ran across this article by Tom Junod and was blown away - not just by his writing, but by the courage of a man clearly confronting his visceral dislike of George Bush and challenging himself to think again, to look at things from a different perspective.
I was tempted to respond to a few minor points that I disagreed with.
But then I decided that there was a larger point; I did not wish to turn this into an argument that he would lose or I would win - this would accomplish nothing. I reflected that here was a man I could respect. I wished I could sit down with him and have a cup of coffee and talk for an hour or two. How much simpler life would be if we could put aside the bitterness, the partisan rancor, and challenge ourselves to look at things from a different viewpoint. To entertain the notion for just a moment: what if the other side is right?
The object is not to yield one's principles or give in to the wishy-washy moral relativism that seems to have taken over American life of late. It is, rather, to explore whether even in disagreement, there can be some meeting of the minds. Whether we might not have more in common than we realize.
I have often been struck when listening to debates in the British House of Commons by the practice of referring to the loyal opposition as "the Honorable" so-and-so. In my son's college classrooms at St. John's in Annapolis, often heated debates were defused by the rather archaic (but to my mind charming) practice of requiring students to address each other as "Mr. Adams" or "Miss Higgins". This outward show of respect restored civility to the discourse and is something I think we have lost in today's overly familiar world, where manners seem to be a thing of the past and casual contempt for one's opponents is always de rigeur.
I like to poke fun at the opposition, and hope I can still laugh at jokes directed at conservatives. Still and all, there is also room for serious reflection. Mr. Junod's essay made me stop and think. Always a good idea, and I hope always in fashion.
More Fear and Loathing in Beantown
I can't make this stuff up....
Al-Jazeera aired more live coverage of the DNC convention than US commercial networks:
Al-Jazeera spokeswoman Stephanie Thomas said the network brought almost its entire Washington bureau to Boston, including an anchorman, two reporters and two cameramen.
"This convention is particularly relevant, both to our Middle Eastern and our American audiences,'' she said.I'll bet...
Dennis Kucinich slams The Cage.
Dan Rather is a busy man.
Protesters dragged from 'free-speech zone' near FleetCenter.
Medea Benjamin, head of Code Pink, led away in handcuffs after displaying "End Occupation of Iraq" banner on the floor of the DNC: Priceless.
The final insult: apparently four years of Republican small-mindedness has had a dampening effect on the World's Oldest Profession...
Bait and Switch
John Kerry is running for a political office and he has a political track record that goes back 16 years in the United States Senate alone. The facts on how he has voted on innumerable issues are all on record. Yet everyone at this Democratic convention and on the campaign trail seems to want to talk about everything except that record.
In fact, everything at this convention and on this year's campaign trail seems carefully designed to create the opposite impression from what Senator Kerry's voting record shows.
Over the years Senator Kerry has voted again and again to cut spending on the military and on the intelligence services. In short, his votes have weakened this country militarily. Therefore the rhetoric of the convention and the Kerry campaign uses the word "strong" or "strength" at every opportunity.
By repeating such words incessantly, the rhetoric counters the reality -- at least for those voters who cannot be bothered to find out the facts.
John Kerry's military service three decades ago is likewise used over and over again at the Democratic convention and on the campaign trail to cover up his repeated weakening of this country's military defenses as a United States Senator during the many years since then.
If we were fighting the Vietnam war over again, nobody would deny Kerry's qualifications for being an officer in that war. But that is not the job he is seeking this election year.
On the domestic front as well, Senator Kerry is hard at work creating an image that is the opposite of his record. His recent statement that he believes life begins at conception may create the impression among the unwary that his views on abortion are very different from what his voting record in the Senate plainly shows.
Senator Kerry has not only voted consistently pro-abortion, he has even declared that he will vote against confirming any federal judge who is not in favor of abortion "rights." The issue is not what your position is on abortion. The issue is whether you want to be conned about a presidential candidate's record.
Voters who listen to Kerry's speeches (but ignore his voting record) are in for a big surprise come November. He took a big step toward the center recently, and his campaign rhetoric has been toned down accordingly. Swing voters who believe Kerry is strong on defense will soon find they have fallen for the oldest trick in the book: bait and switch.
This editorial, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 1952, was sent to me by my father with this note:
"The editorial below refers to the collision between the carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS Hobson. The Hobson sank with 176 sailors including its CO. It was written to answer those who said that it serves no purpose to hold a court of inquiry to determine whose fault the collision was, since the officer most obviously at fault (the Hobson's CO) lay at the bottom of the sea."
"Your old man believes that we can use a lot more accountability (as defined below): i.e. George Tennant, Sandy Berger, etc."
I have been sitting (not literally, because that would be uncomfortable) on this fine essay for quite some time because although, like my father, I strongly believe in old-fashioned accountability, I have more to say on the subject. Hence the title of this post: Accountability I. For now, I would like to let the essay speak for itself.
"One night past some 30,000 tons of ships went hurtling at each other through the darkness. When they had met, 2,000 tons of ship and 176 men lay at the bottom of the sea in a far off place."
"Now comes the cruel business of accountability. Those who were there, those who are left from those who were there, must answer how it happened and whose was the error that made it happen."
"It is a cruel business because it was no wish to destruction that killed this ship and its 176 men; the accountability lies with good men who erred in judgment under stress so great that it is almost its own excuse. Cruel, because no matter how deep the probe, it cannot change the dead, because it cannot probe deeper than remorse."
"And it is even more cruel still because all around us in other places we see the plea accepted that what is done is done beyond discussion, and that for good men in their human errors there should be afterwards no accountability."
"Everywhere else we are told how inhuman it is to submit men to the ordeal of answering for themselves; to haul them before committees and badger them with questions as to where they were and what they were doing while the ship of state careened from one course to another."
"This probing into the sea seems more merciless because everywhere else we have abandoned accountability. What is done is done and why torture men with asking them afterwards, why?........"
"We are told men should no longer be held accountable for what they do as well as for what they intend. To err is not only human, it absolves responsibility."
"Everywhere else, that is, except on the sea. On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom. It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them both goes accountability."
"This accountability is not for the intentions but for the deed. The captain of a ship, like the captain of a state, is given honor and privileges and trust beyond other men. But let him set the wrong course, let him touch ground, let him bring disaster to his ship or to his men, and he must answer for what he has done. He cannot escape...."
"It is cruel, this accountability of good and well-intentioned men. But the choice is that or an end of responsibility and finally as the cruel scene has taught, an end to the confidence and trust in the men who lead, for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do."
"And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts."
July 30, 2004
John Kerry - War Hero
Dave sent me an e-mail with a really cool link about John Kerrys glorious war career.
I know, I know, nobody can shine the light on Kerry like Cassandra but this is pretty cool.
Update: If that isn`t enough to convince you of Kerrys Heroism read this.
- Joatmoaf -
Single best thing I've read on Kerry's speech last night. Bar none.
I wish I'd written it. I'm glad someone did.
Return of the Hamster
Just to show you that there is no stunt the Senator from Massachusetts won't pull to get elected, there's always this...
I wondered why I was seeing so many hits on the server for Kerry + hamster + CPR this morning. Well, you guessed it... the hamster story is back. The NY Times is giving this heartwarming story of heroism prominent treatment, unlike those flash-in-the-pan stories like Joseph Wilson being proved wrong on yellowcake or Sandy Berger stuffing secret documents into his undergarments. We're happy to see the Times has their eye firmly on the ball.
And Jim Rasmussen must be proud to be in such illustrious company. I just hope this means we're not going to be seeing brigades of the little buggers in the background on the campaign trail.