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Monday
Nov082004

Macedonia: A Rose By Any Other Name

I've said before on this blog that I believe the creation of the European Union was unwise: "...a continent full of nations that have spent hundreds of years killing each other's citizens on the slightest of pretexts cannot repair their discord by vastly increasing the number and significance of the issues on which they are forced to agree."



Well, perhaps I shouldn't have used the word significance.



I recommend the EuroPundits blog for a review of Europe's latest silly, yet divisive, controversy: Greece is scared of Macedonia, but only if it is called Macedonia. And now Greece is mad at us because we intend to call Macedonia -- you guessed it -- Macedonia.



Greece actually has threatened "many negative effects" for the U.S. because of this. (What are they going to do, spit in our olives?)



Greece has summoned the U.S. ambassador to Greece in order to give him a formal protest. (I could never be an ambassador. In a situation like this I'd burst out laughing at the moment of sternest complaint.)



It is a good thing the British don't share the Greek attitude of wariness against anyone who uses a name after they've used it first. Given the number of faux-British housing complexes we have, not to mention little things like New York City, they could never be friends with us if they did.

Sunday
Nov072004

CodeBlueBlog: Arafat and AIDS

Does Arafat have AIDS? CodeBlueBlog examines the evidence.



Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

Sunday
Nov072004

Mychal Massie: There's Still Racism

Project 21's Mychal Massie says: "You bet there's still racism."



(But maybe not the kind you expect.)

Sunday
Nov072004

Dr. Brian Moench, Anesthesiologist: No, Thanks  

Would you let the author of this piece put you under?



Addendum: The article referred to in this entry, "Young Rove's Dreams Became Everyone Else's Nightmare," by Dr. Brian Moench, appeared in the Salt Lake (UT) Tribune on October 24, 2004. The link above no longer takes readers directly to the piece, but access can be purchased for a fee from the Tribune.



In addition, various blogs and websites have reprinted it in whole or in part, including The Smirking Chimp, Corrente, Running Scared, Free Republic, and Hot Blava. I have no idea how long these links will remain useful.

Sunday
Nov072004

BlameBush! Suggests a Wonderful Gesture of Goodwill

Very funny, Larry.



Hat tip: What If?

Sunday
Nov072004

Blackfive: Someone You Should Know

Blackfive regrets that this story isn't likely to told by the mainstream media. Me, too.



I find it very refreshing to read about Americans like this. It is good to be reminded that Jane Smiley types are the exception, not the rule.



Blackfive has other stories like this here.

Sunday
Nov072004

Jane Smiley: A Thousand Slurs

After reading this essay on Who Moved My Truth? about an article posted on Slate by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley, I checked out Smiley's piece.



Wow. She really, really hates conservatives.



According to Smiley, we conservatives are evil. ("They are full of original sin and they have a taste for violence.") Ignorant and stupid. ("Red state types... are virtually unteachable.") And powerful. (Smiley blames us for atrocities that occurred before we were born.)



That's when Smiley's being consistent. She doesn't make a habit of that.



She writes an essay calling conservatives stupid and evil that condemns her GOP relatives for their "classic Republican feelings of superiority." (Projection, Jane?)



Her hatred for the right leaps off the page in an essay containing the words "blue state citizens make the Rousseauvian mistake of thinking humans are essentially good." (Yep, Jane, that's your problem, all right.)



She says this, meaning it to be about other people, yet not quite convincing the reader she's not talking about herself: "If you are sufficiently ignorant, you won't even know how dangerous your policies are until they have destroyed you, and then you can always blame others."



Her lack of self-awareness looks positively introspective, however, compared to her ignorance of the country whose voters she spits upon.



Here's her take on the 1980 Carter-Reagan matchup: "Jimmy Carter... asked Americans to take responsibility for their profligate ways, and promptly lost to Ronald Reagan, who told them once again that they could do anything they wanted."



Anyone else remember the 1980 election as a contest between a budget cutting Carter and a "let's bust the bank" Reagan?



Even Carter, no stranger to the deep end himself, probably doesn't believe that one.



She blames red-staters living in 2004 for Quantrill's Raid, a Civil War-era plunder/massacre that took place in Lawrence, Kansas: "The red forces, known then as the slave-power, pulled 265 unarmed men from their beds on a Sunday morning and slaughtered them in front of their wives and children."



The actual death toll was far less, she cited the wrong year, and many of the victims died in other ways, but these are minor quibbles compared to the injustice of blaming the modern GOP for a raid by a Confederate cavalry officer that took place 141 years ago -- when the Republican Party was fighting the Confederacy. (As Who Moved My Truth? observed: "I Suppose Abraham Lincoln Was REALLY Stupid.")



Smiley keeps strange company: "...most important, when life grows difficult or fearsome, they (politicians, preachers, pundits) encourage you to cling to your ignorance with even more fervor..." Okay, I can accept that she probably voted for Kerry and most likely reads the New York Times, but what church can she possibly be going to?



I'd tell you that Smiley's essay has to be read to be believed, but I'd be lying. You can't believe it even if you do read it.



P.S.: If you think I'm harsh on her, read the reviews on the Amazon.com page for her book that won the Pulitizer Prize, A Thousand Acres. (Apparently, she morphed Shakespeare's King Lear into a red-stater who abused his daughters -- doubly unoriginal.) Some of the reviews on that page make this look like a love letter.



Addendum: Doing my evening blog reading, I see that other bloggers have discussed Smiley's essay. In an excellent piece, Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong, for example, says: "It fisks itself as you read it." (Good line, Sean!) Daly Thoughts has a good critique, too, as does The Paragraph Farmer.

Saturday
Nov062004

MoveOn or Move Out?

Robert Novak says support from MoveOn PAC (sister organization to MoveOn.org) hurt some Democratic candidates.

Friday
Nov052004

But They Are Very Busy

BelowStreetLevel says there are just six liberals living in the United States.

Friday
Nov052004

Chirac Snubs Iraq Democracy

I have to agree with Jeff at StarkTruth.com on this one.



Addendum: A Heritage Foundation Policy Weblog November 5 post says Kofi Annan is no better than Chirac.

Friday
Nov052004

Putin and Kyoto

He did it.



Putin made Russia's ratification of the Kyoto global warming treaty final today.



The Kyoto Treaty now takes effect worldwide among nations that have ratified it. Thankfully, this does not include the U.S.



We'll now sit back and watch to see which European nations live up to their treaty obligations -- and if any of those that don't are among those that have criticized us for not joining in this folly.



Oh, lest I forget: Don't expect the world to get any cooler just because Kyoto has been ratified. This treaty is hot air -- expensive hot air, but hot air nonetheless. Just as well. Warm air and CO2 helps plants grow.



Nature comes first.

Friday
Nov052004

Nation Not So Divided

Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong has written a top-notch election post-mortem.



It is too good to excerpt, so I recommend the whole thing.



I also recommend Sean's thanks to Viet Nam Vets.

Friday
Nov052004

Ancient Cosmetics

This BBC article describes the discovery of an ancient Roman tin of cosmetic cream, and expresses appreciation for the complicated recipe the Romans used. (The tin was found in an archeological excavation in London inhabited by the Romans during the Roman occupation of Britain.)



It is interesting that a culture that didn't use soap, and washed clothes in urine, would go to such effort to create cosmetics.



The European preference for cosmetics over soap apparently started early.



The London Telegraph had a funny comment about this:

[Analysis of the cream] shows that British [read: Roman] women led the way when it came to "green" cosmetics: the cream relied on tin oxide as a whitener, a much healthier and more environmentally sound alternative to the toxic lead acetate used by their high society peers in Rome.
Healthier, yes. But do we really believe that the ancient Romans, who held slaves and murdered people as a form of organized sport, cared about the environmental impact of their cosmetics?

Friday
Nov052004

Davids Medienkritik: European Hatred of Bush Won Him Some American Votes

Davids Medienkritik, a German blog (written in English) has published comments found on the BBC website from Americans who say they were more inclined to vote for President Bush because Europe, by and large, doesn't like him.



A fun read.



Davids Medienkritik is asking Americans to post a comment describing why they voted the way they did. If you are inclined to share your thoughts, you can do so here.

Thursday
Nov042004

Ed Haislmaier: Simple Elections

Ed Haislmaier comments on my silly international coverage post:

Here's another silly international coverage example for you:
China's communist rulers are not particularly fond of elections -- the results are just so unpredictable.



In their opinion, international relations would be much simpler if we did not have to choose a new leader every few years. In China, of course, it is much more simple.



- Rupert Wingfield Hayes, BBC Beijing correspondent, How World Sees Bush Victory
Well, I do give him points for honesty. I also appreciate the British flair for understatement deployed in the phrase, "not particularly fond of elections" (I'm envisioning that famous picture of the pro-democracy protestor confronting the tank in Tiananmen Square). However, given the left-wing tilt of "the Beeb" I wonder if he was just trying to tweak his editors.

Thursday
Nov042004

Christian Moritz: Al-Jazeera Poll

My brother, Christian Moritz, reports on a poll from an unusual quarter:

CNN reports that Al-Jazeera asked its viewers to mock vote. Bush got 43 percent -- not bad from the enemy.

Thursday
Nov042004

Soldiers Pleased By Election Results

Joe Roche reports that most of the soldiers he comes into contact with are "super happy" about the presidential election results.

Joe is with the 1st Armored Division, presently in Germany.

Thursday
Nov042004

Operation Clark County: Ouch

Britain's left-wing Guardian's blog examines the question: Did the Guardian's "Operation Clark County" help deliver Ohio to Bush?



Their blogger's conclusion: "Ouch."



Addendum: The Paragraph Farmer picks up where this post left off, in an interesting way.

Thursday
Nov042004

Silly International Election Coverage

Now that I have recommended two excellent pieces (here and here) about the U.S. election in the foreign press, just for fun, I'll make fun of some silly ones:

...the government that Americans woke up to is a dangerous cocktail. Republicans control the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, a majority of state houses and soon, President Bush will be able to stack the Supreme Court with conservative judges. America is a divided two-party democracy with an increasingly one-party state. ...For Canada and the world, not to mention Americans themselves, this will be a worrisome four years. Some analysts expressed concern that a Kerry White House would see the rise of a protectionism that could hurt Canadian interests... However, the potential impacts of a Kerry administration... would have been relatively minor compared to the challenges we face in dealing with an angry, arrogant Bush administration unconstrained by the need to seek re-election and imbued with an almost providential belief in its mission. This will be a dangerous four years for Canada and the world. - Adrian Dix, who failed in the entire piece to mention even one actual threat George Bush poses to Canada, CBC News (Canada)
and
In the end it was as bad as the pessimists feared. Spurred by a Senate clean sweep in the South, the Republicans have strengthened their grip on the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving President George Bush a freer hand to push through his conservative legislative agenda in a second term. - Rupert Cornwell, writing a supposedly objective news story in The Independent (UK)
and
In Ohio the Republicans made one million phone calls in the last days of the campaign. To do that they needed their allies in every right wing group to cooperate fully. Granted the vote was probably stolen from Kerry, but it was also organized for Bush. - Duncan Cameron, who apparently knows something about voter fraud even John Kerry doesn't suspect, writing in The Rabble (Canada)
and my personal favorite
A mystery Northern Ireland man has become a hero of right wing Americans after claiming on national TV and radio that 95% of Northern Ireland wants to see President Bush re-elected today. The man, who identified himself as "Christopher," phoned in to a TV and radio show hosted by Rush Limbaugh, American's most popular right-wing talk show host, to claim that Northern Ireland was backing President Bush because of his stand on terrorism... Do you know Christopher? email: newseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk - Sean O'Driscoll, writing in The Belfast Telegraph (Northern Ireland)

Wednesday
Nov032004

Kerevan: Scots-Irish Elected Bush

Columnist George Kerevan, writing in the Scotsman (UK), has an interesting take on why Bush won: The influence of our citizens of Scots-Irish heritage.



I don't agree with all of it (especially the silly bit about George Bush possibly appointing "reactionaries" to the Supreme Court -- sticking to the Constitution's text rather than making stuff up on a whim does not make a justice a "reactionary"), but I recommend this piece for its fresh and mostly thoughtful perspective.



Some samples:

Here in Scotland, where the mainstream view is anti-Bush, the instant reaction will be to dismiss [the America that gave Bush his majority] as redneck, racist, bigoted, gun-loving and ignorant. But hold a mirror to thyself: the part of America that doggedly voted Republican on Tuesday is its ethnic Scottish-Ulster heartland. These are the descendants of the lowland yeoman folk who colonised Virginia in the 17th century, then crossed the Appalachian Mountains to open up the frontier in the 18th, joined by the refugees from the Govan slums in the 19th.



They brought with them a Celtic tribalism, a small-farmer self-reliance and a rationalist Presbyterian morality based on the Good Book. They also brought their own home-spun music, with its sentimental narratives and view of this world as a trial to be endured. From the bluegrass fiddle music of the Appalachian crofts to the Burns-like honky-tonk ballads of the itinerant oil workers in the Texas dustbowl, country music has evolved to dominate contemporary musical tastes. But beyond the saccharin-sweet commercialism of country rock, it is music that still defines the mental and moral landscape of a community that was prepared to defy the world last Tuesday. Never in a million years were America's Scots-Irish going to vote for John Kerry, whatever the eastern pollsters thought.
and
I... suggest a way for Europe to understand a resurgent American nationalism that conforms pretty much to what the Scots-Irish made it. Contrary to European myth, it is not an especially imperialist nationalism, but when provoked it sees things with a terrible, biblical simplicity.



The Scots settlers who first colonised America, and then illegally slipped across the Appalachians to live among the Indian tribes, were not out to found a new empire. Having been chased out of Scotland and Ulster for economic and religious reasons, then having clashed with the conservative English merchant elites who ran the eastern colonies, the Scots just wanted to be left to their own devices. To this day, their predilection for owning guns is less to do with the desire to blast away at dumb animals, as pique at the idea that someone should tell them what to do. That's why it is not a good idea to try to frighten them by crashing airliners into tall buildings: it just makes them mad.
and
When roused, usually by a wholly correct moral indignation, Scots-Irish America believes it is the agency for Divine retribution. Don't snigger: you are here because of this gut reaction. Back in 1940, the United States was split down the middle - nothing new there - over the war in Europe. The large German immigrant communities of the industrial Mid-West (think Ohio) were fervently isolationist. They had just re-elected Franklin Roosevelt on a platform of non-intervention. The Americans in favour of dealing with the fascists were the Scots-Irish, who had a long tradition of military service, especially during the Civil War (on both sides). Otherwise, the capital of the EU would be called Germania.
and
Like it or lump it, a Bush White House is now a fact of life. But if Scotland calms down a minute, we might discover that his America is a far less alien place than we imagine.
I recommend the whole thing (free registration required).