Friday, February 27, 2004

At least he paid for the hunt himself

I don't think this as big a deal as the outing with the VP - I don't think Scalia is a dirty guy. Do I like him, not always. Was this the best idea PR-wise? No. But guess what - life tenure's a bitch, and this doesn't rise to the level of impeachable offense.

I think it's lame that he likes shooting little birdies. Especially when the birdies are specifically put there to be shot - it's like overstocking a lake for fishing - honestly, where's the challenge?

Other highlights:
"Bond said that because the trip was two months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Scalia had told them in advance that he did not think it wise to fly from Washington with his own firearm. So, Bond said, "I loaned Scalia a gun. I have plenty.""

Aww, well, that's sweet.

"Back in Kansas, Bond and Graves said Scalia had earned their respect as a marksman. At one point in the field, the hunters were surprised by a quail, and Scalia shot the bird in midflight.

"He came back with a bag full of birds," McAllister said, "cleaned and packed in ice, ready to take back on the plane to Washington.""

Good for him. (full disclosure: I was a crack shot on Nintendo's Duck Hunt game as a child, so I know a fair bit about this kind of thing). The real question is: how many pieces of carry on luggage do dead birds count for?

I do dislike anything that encourages Americans to maintain a healthy distrust of government - but I also have a fair bit of judicial-branch hostility, so if they get taken down a peg or two every so often, whom am I to complain.

Just keep electing Republicans who can appoint their friends - then no one will disappointed when all expectations are lived up to.

Scalia Took Trip Set Up by Lawyer in Two Cases

Tube for the Boob

See, and he had us all believing he didn't watch television. Oh, he just said he didn't watch the news, right? Okay, that makes sense.

"War President 'Loves' New TV Show
Friday, Feb 27, 2004; 10:10 AM

Some L.A. producers are hyping their new TV show by saying it has the president's endorsement.

Jeffrey Jolson-Colburn of E!Online reports that "George W. Bush is apparently giving the White House seal of approval to a television series, D.H.S.--The Series . . . being introduced Thursday night to prospective networks at an Industry gathering.

"President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge both 'endorse and contribute sound bites to the introductions of the series,' according to the show's producers. . . . 'They love it. They think it is fantastic.' . . .

"The show is billed as a realistic action series following the exploits of Special DHS Agents Andrea Bacall and Jack Callahan, portrayed by actors Alison Heruth Waterbury and Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh. The characters venture from the halls of Washington, D.C., to war-torn locales as they fight fanatical terrorism."

The show has its own Web site.

Mind you, Bush is having a hard time convincing many people that the country is actually still at war, though it's a central element of his campaign for re-election as the "war president." And this show is based on exploiting that very premise.

Don't miss the trailer. Its prologue is none other than Bush's solemn declaration on the morning of Sept. 12, 2001: "The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war. This will require our country to unite in steadfast determination and resolve. Freedom and democracy are under attack."

And it's got visuals and a soundtrack that would make even Karl Rove blush.

But it's not entirely clear whether Bush actually contributed sound bites especially for the show, or whether the show's producers just spliced them in on their own.

E!Online couldn't get the White House to comment. Could this just be an L.A. publicity stunt? We'll find out ? White House Briefing:

Thursday, February 26, 2004

My impression of a broken record continues . . .

The Los Angeles Times (my paper of choice, and what I mean when I say "The Times) on the folly of Bush's gay marriage amendment:

"There's no crisis here, only a president bent on dividing a nation that is otherwise more concerned about war and jobs."

The Politics of Gay Marriage

A.B. . . K?

Last night, I attended an Edwards event in Sacramento. It was old home week - I saw lots of Sacto types I hadn't yet run into since being back. Many of my fellow Italianos. Lots of former co-workers. And being there gave me a little bit of New-Hampshire-reverie (if such a thing is possible). There was waiting, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot while standing on an unforgiving marble floor, Bob Mulholland - whole 9.

At one point, while discussing our various concerns over whom to support and how we'd made it to that event, that night, one friend said, "yeah, this is the Anybody But Kerry caucus."

So very well put.

I went to the speech partly because I'm a junkie like that, and partly because my former boss is his state campaign chair - so I figured maybe I was missing something. I was still hoping to hear the inspirational stump that had won so many fans across the country.

For the record - my boss was more energetic, more enthusiastic, and more vivacious than the candidate. Perhaps "more" isn't the best word - if there's a word for "different in a way that pleases me more," that's what he was.

Edwards's stump was verbatim what I'd heard in that cold NH church last month. Same punctuation, same hand movements, a little less rushed. He sort of got me more. But it may have been his speech combined with the Kerry campaign's call last weekend.

The part that got me was his segment on equal rights and his memories of seeing different drinking fountains and whatnot. As he waxing on and on about civil rights and equal rights and fair deals or whatever, it took everything in my power not to shout "what about gay marriage?"

But perhaps I'm unfair - none of our candidates says he's for gay marriage. They'll mince words just fine - civil unions yes, marriage, no - but they won't support actually treating all Americans equally. So what are we to do - I still think Dems will do a better job on rights than Reeps will - at least as long as the libertarian branch of the Reeps is tied down.

So it was good to hear him. But not surprising. I'm leaning Edwards now - but more out of cold calculation, than firey belief. Maybe the former makes more sense in the grand scheme of political things. But the latter felt so much better - especially on those cold, New Hampshire nights.

To put it mathematically, then: ABK < ABB.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

More from the NY Times

Excellent points all - this movie may rudely awaken those who like to lump all Christians together. We're different - Catholics have never been the happy, glossed over folks that other sects can be. C'mon, we're the guilt gurus.

Do You Recognize This Jesus?

Published: February 25, 2004

Watching "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's new movie, I kept thinking the following: it is Christians, not Jews, who should be shocked by this film.

Mr. Gibson's raw images invade our religious comfort zone, which has long since been cleansed of the Gospels' harsher edges. Most Americans worship in churches where the bloodied body of Jesus is absent from sanctuary crosses or else styled in ways so abstract that there is no hint of suffering. In sermons, too, the emphasis all too often is on the smoothly therapeutic: what Jesus can do for me.

More than 60 years ago, H. Richard Neibuhr summarized the creed of an easygoing American Christianity that has in our time triumphantly come to pass: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment though the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." Despite its muscular excess, Mr. Gibson's symbol-laden film is a welcome repudiation of all that.

"The Passion of the Christ" is violent — no question. Although Mel Gibson the believer identifies with a traditionalist movement that rejects Vatican Council II, Mel Gibson the artist here displays a thoroughly Catholic sensibility, one that since the Middle Ages has emphasized Jesus as the suffering savior crowned with thorns. Martin Luther, too, would have recognized in this film his own theology of the cross.

But there is a little twist here. In his prerelease screenings, Mr. Gibson invited mostly conservative evangelical clergy. They in turn responded by reserving huge blocks of movie tickets for their congregations. When the film opens today, expect theaters around the country to be turned into temporary churches.

And what's so strange about this? Unlike Mr. Gibson's film, evangelical Protestantism is inherently non-visual. As spiritual descendants of the left wing of the Reformation, evangelicals are heirs to an iconoclastic tradition that produced the "stripping of the altars," as the historian Eamon Duffy nicely put it. That began in the late 16th century, when radical Protestants removed Christ's body from the cross. To the Puritans, displays of the body of Jesus represented what they considered the idol worship of the Papists. To this day, evangelical sanctuaries can be identified by their lack of visual stimulation; it is rare to see statues or stained-glass windows with human figures. For evangelicals, the symbols are all in sermon and song: verbal icons. It's a different sensibility.

For this reason, I think, evangelical audiences will be shocked by what they see. And, as Mr. Gibson has said repeatedly, he means to shock. Catholics will find themselves on familiar ground: they, at least, have retained the ritual of praying "the stations of the cross" — a Lenten practice that, like Mr. Gibson's movie, focuses on the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus. By contrast, Southern Baptists and other mostly fundamentalist churches do not observe Lent, and even Catholics have muted the ancient tradition of fast and abstinence that commemorated the Passion of Jesus.

Indeed, Mr. Gibson's film leaves out most of the elements of the Jesus story that contemporary Christianity now emphasizes. His Jesus does not demand a "born again" experience, as most evangelists do, in order to gain salvation. He does not heal the sick or exorcise demons, as Pentecostals emphasize. He doesn't promote social causes, as liberal denominations do. He certainly doesn't crusade against gender discrimination, as some feminists believe he did, nor does he teach that we all possess an inner divinity, as today's nouveau Gnostics believe. One cannot imagine this Jesus joining a New Age sunrise Easter service overlooking the Pacific.

Like Jeremiah, Jesus is a Jewish prophet rejected by the leaders of his own people, and abandoned by his handpicked disciples. Besides taking an awful beating, he is cruelly tempted to despair by a Satan whom millions of church-going Christians no longer believe in, and dies in obedience to a heavenly Father who, by today's standards, would stand convicted of child abuse. In short, this Jesus carries a cross that not many Christians are ready to share.

It is easy, of course, to contrast third-millennium Christian mores with the story of Christ's Passion. Like other Americans, Christians want desperately to know that they are loved, in the words of the old Protestant hymn, "just as I am." But the love of God, as Dorothy Day liked to put it, "is a harsh and dangerous love" that requires real transformation. It is not the sort imagined by today's spiritual seekers who are "into" Asian religions.

Significantly, the Passion and death of Jesus is the chief element in the Gospel story that other religions cannot accept. In Islam, Jesus does not die on the cross because such a fate is considered unfitting for a prophet of Allah. By Hindus and Buddhists, Jesus is often regarded as a spiritual master, but the story of his suffering and death are considered unbecoming of an enlightened sage. Like the Buddha, the truly liberated transcend suffering and death. But Jesus submits to it — willingly, Christians believe — for the sins of all.

Were we a nation of Bible readers, not just Bible owners, I don't think a film like Mr. Gibson's would cause much fuss. While I do not think that "The Passion of the Christ" is anti-Semitic, I do think it presents Christians with a "teaching moment." But the lessons have more to do with forgotten Christian basics than with who killed Jesus.

Kenneth L. Woodward, a contributing editor at Newsweek, is the author, most recently, of "The Book of Miracles."

Op-Ed Contributor: Do You Recognize This Jesus?

'Putting Bias in the Constitution'

Thanks, New York Times. Sometimes, I like you a lot . . . .

February 25, 2004
Putting Bias in the Constitution

ith his re-election campaign barely started and his conservative base already demanding tribute, President Bush proposes to radically rewrite the Constitution. The amendment he announced support for yesterday could not only keep gay couples from marrying, as he maintains, but could also threaten the basic legal protections gay Americans have won in recent years. It would inject meanspiritedness and exclusion into the document embodying our highest principles and aspirations.

If Mr. Bush had been acting as a president yesterday, rather than a presidential candidate, he would have tried to guide the nation on the divisive question of what rights gay Americans have. Across the nation, elected officials and others have been weighing in on whether they believe gays should be allowed to marry, have civil unions, adopt, visit their partners in hospitals and be free from employment discrimination. Except for a throwaway line about proceeding with "kindness and good will and decency," the president's speech was a call for taking rights away from gay Americans.

President Bush's studied unwillingness to talk about the rights gay people do have is particularly significant given the wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment now pending in Congress. It calls for denying same-sex couples not only marriage, but also its "legal incidents." It could well be used to deny gay couples even economic benefits, which are now widely recognized by cities, states and corporations. Such an amendment could radically roll back the rights of millions of Americans.

In his remarks yesterday, President Bush tried to create a sense of crisis. He talked of the highest Massachusetts court's recognition of gay marriage, San Francisco officials' decision to grant marriage licenses to gay couples and a New Mexico county's doing the same thing. He did not say the New Mexico attorney general found that gay marriages violate state law, the California attorney general is asking the California Supreme Court to review San Francisco's actions, and Massachusetts is considering amending its State Constitution to prohibit gay marriage. The president, who believes so strongly in states' rights in other contexts, should let the states do their jobs and work out their marriage laws before resorting to a constitutional amendment.

The Constitution has been amended over the years to bring women, blacks and young people into fuller citizenship. President Bush's amendment would be the first adopted to stigmatize and exclude a group of Americans. Polls show that while a majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, many would prefer to allow the states to resolve the issue rather than adopting a constitutional amendment. They understand what President Bush does not: the Constitution is too important to be folded, spindled or mutilated for political gain.

Putting Bias in the Constitution:

Hardwear Store

So thinking about religious jewelry, I can't help but wonder if legions of teenage faithfuls will wear "nail necklaces." I volunteer with a local Catholic youth group - so I'll take a poll.

The last big trend were those "W(hat)W(ould)J(esus)D(o)?" bracelets and whatnot.

On one level, those were much more positive - they focused on a living Christ and positive values, kindness, charity, selflessness, concern, sacrifice, and most of all, love.

What does a nail symbolize but his death? His death isn't the point. His resurrection is the point - and that's life. The nail isn't a good symbol of that.

Of course, on another level, you'd go a little nuts if you tried to do everything like Jesus did because he was, well, God. Pretty high standard.

But I'd still shy away from hardware. Or hardwear, as the case may be.

'See The Movie, Buy The Nail'

"But nothing says 'slightly masochistic Jesus fanatic' like adorning your fine self with a two-inch silver pewter crucifixion-nail pendant, hanging 'round your neck from a nice 24-inch leather chord. Oh my yes. "

Now, this Notes & Errata column kinda gives too much ammo to those who see San Francisco as a bastion of crazed, liberal, souless blasphemers. But he has a point too. Do check out the film's website. Who knew Jesus was such a fan of tie-in merchandise. SUCH a fan . . . A Nail necklace? Honestly, kids, in the words of Kevin Smith: "Jesus didn't come to give us the willies. He was a booster!"

Or this point is fun too:
"After all, cheap movie swag is an American tradition. We expect and demand it and aren't we all just a little shocked this time out that we can't have, say, a cute Mary Magdalene mood ring for girls that changes color as your divine feminine power is shut down and demonized and made whorelike by the Catholic elders? "

Today is Ash Wednesday. As a practicing (not devout, not great, but church attending) Catholic, this movie makes me cringe. So do all the ADL types who say it's Anti-Semetic. Maybe it is, but to them, it sometimes seems like EVERY telling of the Easter Story is Anti-Semetic. Hey, I don't blame them. If Jesus hadn't died, we wouldn't have a religion. And in case no one noticed, Jesus isn't so much into the whole blame thing.

So happy Ash Wednesday to you all. I went to mass and have since had several dozen people advise me that I have a smudge on my forehead - I thank them for their concern. I won't be seeing the Passion - probably ever. Not because I'm a closet atheist, or because I'm offended, but because, in short, I don't like Mel Gibson movies. Hated the Patriot. Never saw Braveheart. Not my bag. But y'all have fun.

And don't run with those necklaces on.

See The Movie, Buy The Nail / Jesus died for your sins -- and also to sell you a really bitchin' "Passion" coffee mug:

And more yet on the marriage question

Here's a nice synopsis of the convoluted and troubled history of "marriage."

History always helps, but it's usually just ignored.

Marriage's lineage a bit convoluted

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

One writer has hope for a true protection of marriage . . . .

While I usually agree with Mr. Pinkerton's analyses, this graf strikes me as potentially overly optimistic:

"Well, here's a prediction: Such an amendment will never pass. Why? Because there are too many gays and lesbians living a conservative lifestyle, now aspiring to be even more conservative by getting legally hitched. And in the final analysis, the political establishment will not be hard-hearted enough to crush their legal and human rights."

I sure hope so - but hard-hearts seem to win out these days, don't they, Mr. Pinkerton?

Assault on basic freedoms, cloaked in 'protective' language

"Clarity is needed" on the issue of same-sex marriage, according to the President.

So he tosses up a nice, easily argued political football to distract us from the death and dismemberment in Iraq. That's fine, I suppose. We get what we pay for, as a country, and on a certain level, I suppose I ought to thank him for living up to my every expectation.

But to gum up our Constitution. To use a formal process to tighten and restrict liberty - well, I never thought I'd say with any measure of seriousness that it might be worth it to move away . . . but maybe it is. I'm not sure where it's any better. But right now, my homeland is a homophobic, scared, bully with no friends. And she's so much better than that. I believe in everything America can be, and that's what keeps me here. But don't do this, America, don't muck things up so badly.

Protect marriage? Stop cheating on your opposite sex spouses. Stop divorcing, separating getting married because you're pregnant, getting married for the money, getting married for a thousand bad reasons. Protect marriage?

I just don't get it.

Which FRCP am I?

Never thought about it. But now I have an answer. For you law nerds out there - this is a sick, sick kind of fun . . .


You are Rule 20, an important part of the Federal
Rules' policy of permissive joinder. You are
designed specifically to allow as many parties
in an action as can be tried efficiently, and
you'll include someone as long as there is some
factual overlap between a claim involving them
and the rest of the case at hand. You are
popular, out-going, and are never far from
friends. However, your overly gregarious
nature and magnanimous approach to all things
cause your closest friends to wonder that, even
when you're surrounded by your compatriots,
there is a part of you that feels cold and very

Which Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Reason Runs Out in Fulbright Squabble

Reason Runs Out in Fulbright Squabble

Honestly, Berkeley, get over yourself. Maybe I'm biased - okay, I am biased - but seriously, this entire story is laughable. It's another reason why California is mocked by the rest of the country. It's another example of our crazy sense of entitlement-without-responsibility. In short - if you haven't heard and haven't read about this yet - some fine folks at Berkeley called FedEx twice to pick up a set of students' applications for the Fulbright program. FedEx never showed. Did they rush to get it postmarked at a post office? No. Did they call UPS? No. Did they call FedEx a third time? No.

They simply let the package sit and go out a day late, DQ-ing the Berkeley grad students. Doh. But now Berkeley feels it's been wronged by FedEx and the Dept of Ed. Let me go ahead and toss out some Hadley v. Baxendale for you law types - how much damage can FedEx predict by not fulfilling its pick-up time? Not the many hundreds of thousands that Berkeley would like it to.

And the "Aren't we hot shit" award goes to Cal for this statement:

""Now, I'm being a bit argumentative," Miller said, "but all the other students in the country got an edge. For this year only, they got to compete for Fulbrights without 30 students from the University of California. Why is that a good thing?""

Dept of Ed is considering handing out SPECIAL AWARDS to these kids, though the money would have to come from Cal. They may have won in the past. What's to say they'd have won this year?

At any rate - yes, it is more than unfortunate for the Cal-kids - they got screwed. But this is 100% Berkeley's fault.

Time for this institution of higher learning to own up to its own lesson.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

More on marriage . . . .

As the Drudge Report seems to bring up questions about Kerry's marriage - here's more on the fight to allow more people to marry legally. Today's SF Chron editorial on the issue pretty much sums up "problem" for opponents. See, what you're doing, besides being mean and morally wrong, is also completely against the basic paradigm on which this country was founded. Don't you just hate when that happens?

A matter of rights


So, Drudge reports a story about Kerry and infidelity is about to break. Lower headlines say:

" In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: 'Kerry will implode over an intern issue'... "


"Kerry commotion is why Howard Dean has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision not to drop out of the race after Wisconsin... "

So - this could be interesting. And while I'm not a huge Kerry fan, I'm not in favor of anyone being taken down for taking down his pants.

As long as he's anti-war - for real - he can shtup whomever he pleases as long as they are a consenting adult. And so long as he's not married to me.


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Bush Plans To Back Marriage Amendment (

From the Washington Post:

"The White House strategy, designed to minimize alienation of moderate voters, calls for emphasizing that Bush is for traditional marriage, not against gay people"

Bush Plans To Back Marriage Amendment (

Ah - yes, there's that "alienation" again - so maybe I was quick to judge Fox News. I should've been angry at the administration. Or is that one of those 6 and 1/2 dozen situations?

He's not against gay people, just for traditional marriage. Define traditional? How many men in his family cheated on their wives? Or wives on their husbands? How many marriages end in divorce? What's traditional these days? Let's make divorce illegal. Better yet, let's make adultery laws more strict.

I wonder if the family law attorneys are against this proposal? Think about it - wouldn't it be great if they had more dissolutions to process each year? Actually, here's another thought - that many lawyers could probably blow out of the water, but here goes anyway: In my "professional responsibility" course i learned that lawyers aren't allowed to solicit divorce services because it's their primary duty to preserve the union. So lawyers who litigate on the anti side of gay marriage are preemptively working against the union, right? Of course, there's also the whole don't-do-things-that-run-counter-to-public-policy angle. And many say this is against public policy.

Still, marriage has a lot of misery and potential for heartbreak and anger associated with it. Why not allow everyone to join the fun?


Deconstructing David Brooks
The New York Times columnist translated Bush's "Meet the Press" debacle for those who missed its hidden wisdom. Now let's translate Brooks.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By James Pinkerton

Feb. 11, 2004 | "Like most of us, President Bush doesn't have the facility for perfectly expressing his situation in conversation. But if he did, he might have said something like this to Tim Russert in the interview broadcast Sunday ..." So David Brooks began a remarkable column in Tuesday's New York Times.

In other words, if the president faltered, or failed to convince, or otherwise deviated from the neocon line, surely it was but a trip of the tongue, not a rebellion of the mind. So like a frustrated Cyrano de Bergerac shoving his blundering frontman aside, Brooks proceeds to voice the heartfelt thoughts that tantalizingly didn't come out of the president's mouth, although they so obviously should have. For the right words are words to move the hearts of patriots to love and to conquest.

Since Brooks has no qualms about lip-syncing for the inarticulate, I'm happy to provide a similar service for Brooks, subtitling for the all-too-articulate. Indeed, so smooth is Brooks' gloss on what Bush should have said that I feel I must spell it out for the American people, most of whom don't read the Times. So here follows a translation of David Brooks' vision of George W. Bush's vision, in 10 straight-up simple talking points for the noncognoscenti. And by the way, Mr. President, I hope you're paying attention this time.

I, David Brooks, say that Bush meant to say:

1. You, the American people, must be afraid. Your level of fear is the measure of your grasp of reality. Absolute Fear is Absolute Truth, and must be the driver of all your deeds.

2. Optional wars of aggression make countries safer. Strike first, then repeat indefinitely. Going on the attack diminishes the number, motivation and activity of your enemies.

3. Occupation, and imposing different values by force, is freedom. Success in neocolonialist enterprises is probable. And triumph is inevitable, if we have enough Will.

4. Sins of commission are better than sins of omission: This means America, a big rich country with a lot to lose, must act like a poor desperate country with nothing to lose. This is known as "national greatness."

5. We are fighting pure evil and the hate in men's souls -- the human condition. This will take a "generational commitment," and then some. So hurry up, Mrs. Gomez, and bear more sons.

6. Of course, the adversarial elites oppose the Iraq war. Therefore, I have had to put my faith in The People -- only to realize that the masses are more interested in their private fleshly pursuits than in their public martial duties. In fact, I slept through that Janet Jackson halftime show, because I've been laboring so long at my lonely Churchillian duties. Fortunately, I've still got the military ready to join me in this world-historical crusade.

7. Oh wait: Much of the military is critical of this open-ended, no-exit-strategy war. Good thing they don't have free speech. I will put on another quasi-military costume to convince them I'm one of them.

8. Got God? Check. And if God's on my side, where does that leave you?

9. I never said I was against Big Government.

10. Finally, if you disagree with any of this, you may be an anti-Semite. Oops, that was just me again, David Brooks. Couldn't help myself.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

About the writer
James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday and a fellow at the New America Foundation

Love, American Style

Every so often - okay - frequently - Fox News reminds me why it's so dangerous. Well, not dangerous I suppose (not like it's starting any wars, oh wait), but - what's a word for "placating the lowest common denominator of society?" It's doing that.

This morning, while reporting on the 7 or so same-sex couples that have put in for marriage licenses and the pressure on the Mass legislature to act swiftly, the reporter/host/whomever, said that the if the legislature failed to pass a defense of marriage amendment it risked "alienating" over half the electorate that oppose gay marriage.

"Alienate?" Like white people were alienated when someone allowed the dilution of the race with interracial marriage? (and it's good to know that Fox is as fair and balanced in its presentation of domestic - that would be American and in-the-home - issues as they are in foreign.)

For the record - I'm not married and I'm not homosexual. So maybe that's why I don't feel a need to defend the institution of marriage. If I did defend it, it would probably be from serial matrimonialists and adulterers. If any two people can stick together for better or for worse, I say go for it. It doesn't bother me if you call it marriage.

A wise Reep friend of mine said conservatives should be for gay marriage because they are generally for institution building - and what's more institutional than fitting the love-that-dare-not-speak-its-name into the same contractual setting that everyone else is in? Add normalcy to it and control it more easily.

Or keep calling them subhuman, abhorrent, unnatural, or incapable of honoring the high and mighty institution of marriage. Say it's against the bible, and affront to God. Then when you meet your maker, explain to him why you felt adequate to pass judgement on someone else's love. Explain why yours is worth more. You might want to start explaining now - because I still don't get it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

'Top Billing'

Check out Dan Weintraub's most recent blog entry on our darling governor's newest self-honoring mechanism. It's awful - it defaces my dear Building. According to the Capitol museum curator this is the first time any governor in history has done this kind of tagging. From the blog:

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has just emblazoned his name in gold letters above the word "Governor" that has long been the only identification outside the chief executive's office in the Capitol. Staff say the addition is not a sign of a new cult of personality but instead a favor to tourists who are clamoring to have their pictures taken near something, anything, with the movie star's name on it. "Californians are extremely thrilled," says Press Secretary Margita Thompson, "to have a governor of whom they can be proud." Thompson said the 20 letters cost a total of $80 -- not including the labor for affixing the name to the wall."

Check out the link for the photo. It shines even more brightly in person.

California Insider - A Weblog by Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

Monday, February 09, 2004

The new realism movement in art

Interesting article from today's NYT. Not on politics, but on art (sometimes I like to branch out). I like the science-y aspects. My main question is, however, who cares about Mona Lisa's smile? Maybe there's something wrong with me that I never wondered. It was never the most inspiring painting I've ever seen - but I haven't seen the real thing, maybe that's why.

It just seems pointless to wonder. Unless you know her, why would you care?

The Scream, East of Krakatoa

Nope, sorry, doesn't cut it . . . .

[President Bush, on Meet the Press] On the death and injury toll in Iraq: "It's essential that I explain this properly to the parents of those who lost their lives. Saddam Hussein was dangerous, and I'm not going to leave him in power and trust a madman. He's a dangerous man. He had the ability to make weapons at the very minimum. For the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening, David Kay, the weapons inspector, came back and said, 'In many ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought.' It's -- we are in a war against these terrorists who will bring great harm to America, and I've asked these young ones to sacrifice for that."

Hitting the Nail on the Head

Here's a great Slate article:

The Pragmatists' Primary
Desperately seeking electability.
By Michael Kinsley
Posted Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004, at 12:26 PM PT

Democrats are cute when they're being pragmatic. They furrow their brows and try to think like Republicans. Or as they imagine Republicans must think. They turn off their hearts and listen for signals from their brains. No swooning is allowed this presidential primary season. "I only care about one thing," they all say. "Which of these guys can beat Bush?" Secretly, they believe none of them can, which makes the amateur pragmatism especially poignant.

Nevertheless, Democrats persevere. They ricochet from candidate to candidate, hoping to smell a winner. In effect, they give their proxy to the other party. "If I was a Republican," they ask themselves, "which of these Democratic candidates would I be most likely to vote for?" And by the time this is all over, most of the serious contenders will have been crowned the practical choice for at least a moment. First it was Lieberman the Centrist. "I'm actually for Dennis Kucinich," a Democrat might say, "because I like his position on nationalizing all the churches. But I'm supporting Joe Lieberman. His views on nearly everything are repellent to me, and I think that's a good sign."

Then the General entered the race. And I don't mean General Anesthesia. A man in uniform, Democrats thought. People like that sort of thing, don't they? And yet he's a Democrat. Or at least he plays one on TV. True, on most issues he has either no known position or two contradictory positions. But he says he can requisition those missing parts. And he's a General. Talk about pragmatic! But when the General traded in his uniform for a fuzzy sweater, he suddenly looked less General-like than Al Sharpton.

Some Democrats cheated and looked into their hearts, where they found Howard Dean. But he was so appealing that he scared them. This is no moment to vote for a guy just because he inspires you, they thought. If he inspires me, there must be something wrong with him. So, Democrats looked around and rediscovered John Kerry. He'd been there all along, inspiring almost no one. You're not going to find John Kerry inspiring unless you're married to him or he literally saved your life. Obviously neither of those is a strategy that can be rolled out on a national level. But he's got the résumé. And gosh, he sure looks like a president (an "animatronic Lincoln," as my Slate colleague Mickey Kaus uncharitably described him).

So, it's a deal? Probably, but just to be completely businesslike, Democrats are taking the opportunity to check out John Edwards. He certainly is good-looking, though maybe not in a presidential way. He lacks the uniform, but he has a Southern accent, which is almost as good if you're trying to seduce those non-liberals. Aspiring pragmatists also have noted recent press reports that Edwards has a stunning ability to sway an audience. I'm not looking to be swayed myself, our Democrat thinks. No need to sway me this year; my views don't matter, even to me. But swaying the heathenry would be good.

And Edwards is a first-term senator who never held office before. Thus he offers almost no experience, which is just the right amount. No political experience at all makes you look silly running for president, as Wesley Clark is discovering. But experience is also a disadvantage in American politics. All politicians, including incumbent presidents, campaign against Washington insiders and the political establishment. But it's a bit more convincing if you're a relative newcomer. Also, experience means a record of past votes and speeches. This limits your ability to invent yourself for the needs of today. As Kerry is discovering, even the most uninteresting two decades in the Senate can provide rich material simultaneously for Bush operatives trying to convince voters that you are a dangerous liberal and for primary opponents trying to convince voters that you are not one.

As each candidate takes his turn in the pragmatists' spotlight, he gets beaten up a bit, irritates supporters of the other candidates, and gives the Bush troops a chance for some early target practice.

If political pragmatism is defined as thinking like a Republican, it's no surprise that Republicans do it better. Four years ago, in a roughly analogous situation, it was decided that the Republican candidate for president should be the less impressive of the two political sons of the man who had most recently lost them the White House. A far from obvious choice. Decided by whom? If you're going to be pragmatic, that's just the kind of question you don't ask. It was decided, OK? On the issues that divided their party, his views were hard to fathom and stayed that way. He was rich in valuable inexperience. And so, with one voice, millions of Republicans shouted a mighty, "Well, I'm glad that's settled."

The process the Democrats are putting themselves through resembles John Maynard Keynes' famous description of the stock market. The game isn't to figure out which stocks are most likely to do well, but to figure out which stocks other investors think are most likely to do well. And these other investors are thinking of other investors and so on. Keynes thought this helped to explain the volatility of stock price. Your judgment about other people's judgment, let alone other people's judgment about other people's judgment, is inherently less certain and more subject to breezes of false or true insight and information than your judgment about your own judgment.

Something similar may be going on in the Democratic primaries. But the analogy breaks down, because only the Democrats are intent on figuring out what other people want. Republicans know what they want.

Michael Kinsley is Slate's founding editor.

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Friday, February 06, 2004


I'm such a smart blogger! I figured out how to make titles - which makes it easier to tell where things begin and end. Except the title are a leetle large for my taste. I'll work on it. And when it's fixed - this test post will disappear like bl-agic.

Constructive Criticism

I blogged too soon. I should've waited until I finished reading the next Update piece. For ease of venting, I'm going to thread my comments, in blue, below (I know, I know, in the other post the excerpts were blue and my writing was black, but I'm learning - so you have to be forgiving) Also - what I say below may make me seem more anti-Kerry and Edwards than I am. That is to say, I will, without a doubt, fully support and work to aid the Democratic Presidential Nominee. But I have high standards. And for my vote, I choose Dean. I do think, however, that the DLC item below doesn't help win my support for Kerry or Edwards - so they are the target here, more than the specific candidate:

From the Jan. 28 Update:
"Another Vote for Hope Over Anger"

For the second week in a row, rank-and-file Democrats have spoken loud and clear: The Democratic Party is moderate, middle-class, and motivated by hope, not anger.

Technically, the Dean signs say "Hope Not Fear," which is a tremendously positive message since, if my fellow Dems recall, we got kicked squarely in the behind by Bush's big boot of Fear. If Dean, and his supporters, are angry, it's because they've figured out that anger is much more efficient use of energy than fear. Carefully channeled anger with purpose, direction, and pure motive - not yelling at the TV anger, or punching someone in the face anger. I'm angry about the state of my country. I'm angry about its world reputation. Why aren't you?

Sen. John Kerry firmly established himself as the big comeback story of the nominating process. He won a second straight victory by following the path urged on Democrats by the original Comeback Kid, President Bill Clinton: showing the country not just what Democrats are against, but what they are for. Kerry's solid middle-class message and mastery of the issues once again lifted him to a big margin over Gov. Howard Dean in a state Dean was supposed to "own" and badly needed to win.

Kind of petty and taunting, isn't it?

For the past year, we have said time and again that Democrats need to offer answers, not just anger. As in Iowa, voters in New Hampshire proved that they're not interested in simply making a statement; they want a candidate who can beat George W. Bush and who offers answers to their most pressing problems. Candidates like Kerry who supported middle-class tax cuts picked up 70 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, crushing candidates like Dean who reflexively opposed them.

This goes back to my point in the earlier post. Dean may be less controlled by his campaign staff, but is any presidential hopeful really "reflexive" in anything he does? None of them so much as put on a tie without carefully review by a consultant somewhere. I digress. Here's the deal, fellow Democrats: my parents work very hard - 2 jobs each - to keep everyone fed, housed, tuition-ed, and insured. Do I want them to keep as much of their paychecks as possible - you bet your ass I do. Do I want to keep as much of my paycheck as possible? - hope you have an ample ass - cause you can lay it down on that as well. But that's not the point. Stop appealing to selfish needs. If we want to care for everyone, we've got to give a little along the way. Dean never starts a speech by saying "middle class tax cuts suck." He usually starts by listing the programs important to us: healthcare, education, mom, apple pie, etc. The he says- guess what? Those things COST MONEY. It has to come from somewhere. And I want it to come mostly from the upper classes as well - but why should they be more willing to part with their hard earned cash? (It is possible that some wealthy people worked hard to achieve their American Dreams, just possible). Bottom line - government is big and has the ability to do so much good. But nothing's free. Dean gets credit from me for being open about it. All the others list the programs and promise tax cuts. Mathematically unsound. If I could find a way to do both - I would. I'm sure Dean would too. I think even a Republican would. Someday, I hope we can. But for now, can we allow for the possibility that Dean's realism could protect our seats in Congress better than an oops-guess-we-can't-pay-for-this/oops-guess-we-can't-cut-that-much-of-your-taxes moment from Kerry or Edwards a year after election. Read my lips: take a chance on truth.

As in Iowa, the Blair Democrats who supported the use of force in Iraq solidly defeated Democratic candidates who tried to stoke anger against it.

What do we do with this line??? Fellow Democrats - hell, fellow Americans - humans, bipeds, whatever - They ran over us with this war because they kept us scared. If we stopped flying, the terrorists won. If we were afraid, the terrorists won. But with a kaleidoscopic system telling us when to be how afraid and constant insistence that there were bad, dark-skinned men plotting YOUR DEATH at this very moment, how could we be unafraid? Were you happy afraid? Are you happy afraid. I'm mad as hell, and no, thanks for finishing the line on your own, I'm NOT going to take it anymore. Dean didn't stoke my anger - he gave it a voice. He reminded me that my anger is as valid as your carefully enticed fear. Do not criticize him for making the stand negligibly few of our Democratic electeds made. Dislike his manner, dislike his personality - but don't accuse him of creating the problem. That was Bush. Keep your eye on the ball.

Kerry's decisive margin over Dean shows the enormous appeal of a comprehensive, rational critique [note: later we'll see a dismissal of his Iowa whoop as reason for the drop in ratings - I think that what's unsaid here is calculated to make your mind jump straight to Dean's January Geography Lesson] of George W. Bush combined with a comprehensive, positive agenda for what Democrats would do after replacing him, based on clear progressive principles.

As in Iowa, turnout was very high, which is good news for Democrats generally. Indeed, about half of the primary voters were self-identified independents, attracted by a campaign that was generally positive in its final phase.

As in Iowa, an electorate that was by national standards unusually opposed to the decision to go to war in Iraq actually focused on a lot of other issues in choosing a candidate. According to the final exit polls published by a major media consortium, only 19 percent of primary voters said the war was their top issue, as opposed to health care (28 percent), Economy/Jobs (22 percent), and other issues (25 percent). About half of primary voters declined to describe themselves as "angry" toward the Bush administration.

Not to nitpick, but what did the other half say?

As in Iowa, Kerry put together a winning coalition that transcended ideology, party affiliation, age, income, education level, attitudes towards the war, and nearly every other variable. He did significantly better than his overall state average among moderates (winning 43 percent), and nearly as well among independents (37 percent) as among Democrats (41 percent). Though his only major union endorsement was from the intrepid firefighters, Kerry did equally well among union and non-union households.

And as in Iowa, it appears the key to Kerry's success was his willingness, day after day and night after night, to stand before some of the country's most discriminating voters and answer their questions on a host of international and domestic issues.

Finally, as in Iowa, Gov. Howard Dean did not wear well on the electorate in one of his best states. The Dean campaign had New Hampshire organized to the hilt, and benefited from a big money advantage over Kerry and his other opponents. According to the American Research Group tracking polls, one month before the primary, Dean led Kerry by a 45-20 margin in New Hampshire. Other polls showed an even bigger margin. As in Iowa, Dean lost nearly half his support, and as in Iowa, the slide cannot be attributed primarily to media coverage of his post-Iowa "rant." [see, told you so] His support was dropping, and his "unfavorable" ratings were rising, all over the country, and specifically in New Hampshire, well before that.

Put simply, Gov. Dean's support seems to have shrunk to the same hard core of upscale, antiwar, white liberals who were first attracted to him when his 2003 surge began many months ago.

Now, let's examine this for a moment, shall we? A Hard core of upscale, antiwar, white liberals. Aren't Kerry and Edwards upscale, antiwar, white liberals? Isn't much of the D leadership? That's not an indictment. Well, my words aren't - but what is the DLC saying here? It's kinda, a little, maybe, offensive based on race and income? Pot, let me introduce you to kettle. Oh, kettle's antiwar though, he's much more useful that way - last thing we need is waring kitchen equipment. As a non-(or not-yet - still waiting on that American Dream)upscale, antiwar, Latina, who's been favoring Dean since January 2003, where does that leave me? This is as divisive a statement as I've ever seen coming out of a respectable Dem-org. I used to consider myself a DLC fan. But this kinda talk makes me reevaluate my loyalties.

The rest of the Democratic electorate looks upon him dimly: On primary day in New Hampshire, he had the worst favorability ratio -- 56 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable -- of the five major candidates.

All the hype and buzz about the "transformational" nature of the Dean candidacy has been buried by actual voting results. He failed to attract new voters and turned off moderates and McCainiac independents.

The nominating contest now moves into a host of states that are far more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire both demographically and ideologically. These states will provide the first real opportunity for African-Americans and Hispanics to participate. And their voters are, on average, less liberal, less dominated by strong antiwar sentiments, and less inclined to believe that Bush's poor record is matched by an evil character.

And that's good news for us how?

In a party that's looking for hope and answers, it's not clear Dean has anywhere to go unless he abandons his past tactics completely. Sen. John Edwards emerged from New Hampshire, as from Iowa, with a finely honed message and positive campaign that even voters for other candidates like. Now he must win South Carolina on Feb. 3. Likewise, Gen. Wes Clark and Sen. Joe Lieberman both have one more chance, in more favorable terrain, to show that Kerry is not the only candidate capable of mounting a stunning comeback.

As we have said all along, a good contest about ideas is good for Democrats. This remains an open race, and it's too early to predict the nominee. But one winner is already clear: The Democratic Party heads for November far, far stronger by voting for hope over anger.

Wake up, Dems. Anger isn't your enemy. When I was in New Hamphire, each stump speech, regardless of the candidate, tossed around more dead presidents than an exploding bank vault. One of the most beloved? FDR of course. If you're going to cite to his programs and ideology - why skip the easy lessons first - the truths we've seen proved again and again. What is the only thing we have to fear, Democrats?

No, Dems, anger isn't our enemy. It's fear.

Which kind was that again?

This is from The DLC Update, as received via fax, on "The Right Kind of 'Populism:'"

"But there's a second kind of populism as well, closer to the historic populism of the 19th century, that represents not a progressive call for elevating the national interest over the special interests, but a reactionary demand for class warfare and the rejection of economic and social progress. The sort of populism represented by Ralph Nader, Michael Moore, and others on the left, who believe that capitalism itself is fatally flawed, and that the primary mission of government is to redistribute wealth rather than to expand opportunity for all Americans to earn it. The inherently reactionary nature of this second kind of populism violates the progressive principles that most Democrats Share, and offends the optimistic, pro-opportunity values that most Americans share. The true mission of the Democratic Party is not to vilify capitalism or decry success, but to offer a positive plan to make sure that every American willing to work for it has the chance to get ahead."

I feel a kind of bipolar when reading this whole Update. I agree with much of the philosophy, yet disagree with many specific examples and details. I do think Michael Moore can be a raging pain in the ass - but I don't think his remarks at the Academy Awards made him an unpatriotic traitor - or whatever his detractors would say of him. I agree with his anti-war message, and in modern American culture what more appropriate forum is there for getting your message out than one based in entertainment? The news is entertainment (Janet's boob? Most of Fox News's daily content?). His medium is film, therefore his microphone rightly was an event about film. Where's the surprise? And maybe he doesn't have the answers or positive, forward momentum that DLC advocates. But the guy makes movies. He's yet to run for or be elected to any office. I'm not sure who died and made him a Democratic Party mouthpiece anyway.

The piece also praises Kerry and Edwards for embracing the good kind of populism on the stump. This kind that opposes unearned privilege and "crony capitalism, not work-based success or genuine free enterprise." I think the cronies think they are freely enterprising - but whatever - I'm not for cronies either. The bit opens with a reference to Dean, then drops him. It's clearly not a we-like-Dean piece, but the underlying current, from my reading, is that Dean is the bad populism, and Kerry and Edwards are saving us from ourselves.

I'm glad a 1986-established Senator is free from insider influences. And Edwards talks big about never having taken a penny from Washington lobbyists. I, or someone, need to pull his reports and make sure. I can't imagine he'd make such claims if they were blatantly false - but stranger things have happened.

The whole point is that the Dems need to stop playing GWB's us against the biggovernmentspecialinterestboogeymen, and start playing GWBandtheboogeymen against the middle class - get the middle class in the, well, middle of the fight.

I consider myself middle class right now. Well, given my financial profile, I'm sort of middle, could go upper, but could easily go Maytag-box as well. Clinton did a great job with the middle class - tapping into our hopes, dreams, fear, anger, potential, and sometimes, lesser qualities as well. But we keep promising the middle class so much. And we're kind of afraid of them. And now we have so much to pay for, yet we cut the taxes on the upperclass piggybanks that keep us in stylish programs.

The DLC calls the middle class "forgotten." Are they really?

In the news . . . .

Here's Jim Pinkerton's latest from this Sunday's Washington Post. To borrow from Linda Richman: Compassionate Conservative President Bush is neither compassionate nor conservative - discuss . . . .

Bush the Budget Buster (

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Coming soon to a blog near you . . .

If I can ever get it done, I'll eventually have a journal account of my recent trip to New Hampshire.

Most people want to know why I was in New Hampshire at all. It wasn't to work for a specific candidate. I went because I wanted to see the candidates in a way that I just won't get to see them in my home state. I went to find someone to believe in. To find my Democratic, and democratic, heart. To reinforce my inner patriot (no, not the George Bush kind, the real, I-welcome-dissent-and-discussion kind). I went because I'm an American and I want my vote to count - and count for something.

So stay tuned - it's a fun story. In the meantime, if you want an erudite, highly educated, and accurate description of the NH primary, check out Talking Points Memo (the link is on the left) - I attended many of the same events as the Josh Marshall and, for the most part, agree with his analysis.

And for the record - regardless of how he's done thus far, or how he'll do in contests between now and March 2 - I'm for Dean.

Hey George - remind me what the W stands for . . . .

This is from today's San Francisco Chronicle:

With the increasing influence of Iraq's religious establishment weighing heavily on their concerns about work, family life, education and opportunities to take part in politics, many Iraqi women have been thinking -- and are now giving voice to -- the unthinkable: Could it be, some are asking, that they were better off under Saddam Hussein?

The main reason for their consternation lies in a decision made last December by Iraq's Interim Governing Council (IGC), which was then headed by the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, "to scrap secular family laws and place them under Muslim religious jurisdiction." Those 1959 laws were "once considered the most progressive in the Middle East, making polygamy difficult and guaranteeing women custody rights in the case of divorce." (Al

"The controversial decision would, if implemented, ... eliminate the idea of civil marriage and place ... marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance directly under the control of religious authorities." It could allow "conservative Shi'ite religious leaders on the [Interim Governing] Council to pave the way for [establishing] a [post-Saddam] theocracy based on Islamic Sharia law." (Al-Ahram) But since the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which is administering post-war Iraq, must ratify all IGC decisions in order for them to become law, and CPA chief Paul Bremer has "promised not to sign it," the attempt to repeal what is known as Iraq's "personal-status laws" is not expected to succeed anytime soon.

Looking ahead, though, as Iraq's "Shi'a Muslim majority flexes its political might, Iraqi women are beginning to fear that the brutal secular repression formerly exercised by Saddam could be replaced by religious law under blanket male control." As it is, despite the fact that, thanks to recent wars, women make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population of nearly 25 million people, "they occupy only three seats on the 25-member, U.S.-installed [IGC] and [only] one in the interim cabinet." (Independent Online, South Africa)

"It's a symbolic decision, but it's symbolic of some very dangerous trends," a leading member of the Iraqi Women's League said. "Women suffered as much [as], if not more than, the men under Saddam. Now democracy comes, and this happens?" (Al-Ahram)

"What place will religion have in the next Iraqi constitution?" Baghdad-born journalist Inaam Kachachi, who is now based in Paris, asked in a magazine interview. (Le Nouvel Observateur) "Today, what's important is not that the large majority of women are wearing the veil in Iraq. No, what concerns me is the risk of seeing a law [instated] that will oblige all women to wear the veil, as in Iran." Kachachi said that, decades ago, it was the "blood and tears" of Iraqi women that led to the establishment of Iraq's milestone personal-status laws.

To date, women protesters have taken to the streets in the Kurdish north of the country against the proposed change in the law and in the Shi'a-dominated south in support of the IGC's decision. "It is a heavy blow for women of Iraq and Kurdistan" that ignores "the long struggle of women in this country," a Kurdish women's rights activist said. By contrast, the head of the Islamic Union for the Women of Iraq, which favors basing family law on Islamic religious canon, said, "We are with any voice that calls for implementing Sharia in the family law. ... Sharia guarantees the goodwill of people ... . We cannot fight the orders of God." (Al

Meanwhile, an article in a recent edition of the Baghdad daily Al-Zaman "marveled that the IGC found time to worry about marriage laws in the face of Iraq's other problems" and asked, "Is the personal-status law an obstacle that stands in the way of rebuilding the telephone network, or the electrical and water systems, or repairing schools or establishing security or, most important, ending the occupation?" (Al-Ahram) Even the Saudi Arabia-based publication Dar Al-Hayat offered an op-ed commentary recommending that "[i]t is time for efforts to unite and extract [Iraq] from a religious crisis," to encourage "freedom of choice" and not to placate "those who demand that women be returned to the barns."

However Bremer ultimately weighs in on the IGC's proposed change in the law, Iraqi women seem to know what they're up against. "We'll take our rights with our own hands," a member of the Iraqi Women's League said. "We don't need the Americans to protect us from these people." (Al-Ahram)


Nice, eh? Wasn't the W in George W supposed to stand for Women? Oh, just American Women? Just Republican American Women? Not even them so much? K, just checking.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Look, my point here is . . . .

Hi. I don't have much to add to the discussion other than ample amounts of pith, vinegar, and pure Democratic anger at the state of my country. But in a sunny kind of way.

(Phoblographer was formerly the Hastings Press Democrat, a short-lived, but lovely little rag)