Question to readers

Should I keep George’s comments or delete them all and ban him from the site? I’m inclined to keep him on for entertainment value, but he’s crossed a lot of lines today and is clearly out of control. Majority rules; let me know what you think.


Jerry Falwell and the Republicans

I’ll never forget a post by Andrew Sullivan just a few days after the 9/11 attacks. I was living in Hong Kong ath the time, and I could scarcely believe what I was reading.

So far relatively few have used this terrible tragedy for political points. Here is what Jerry Falwell said on the 700 Club: “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.'”

Do you fathom just how low, how vile and profane these words are? Can you imagine the hatred and bigotry that inspired them? Jerry Falwell, to use one of Conrad’s phrases, is a true moral pigmy, his malignant obsessions made even more disturbing by his cloaking himself in religion, and speaking as one in touch with Christ.

So why do I bring all this up now, nearly three years after the fact? Simple: It appears that Jerry Falwell, the man who represents the very worst, most ugly side of Evangelical Christianity in America, the self-righteous Bible-thumper who dares equate huge and innocent portions of America’s populace to psychotic terrorists — this man will be delivering the invocation that kicks off the Republican Convention in New York City.

Forget Iraq, Forget the lies and the dirty tricks. Forget even the staggering deficits America must now live with for generations. This one catastrophe, bush’s alignment of American politics with the right-wing Christian agenda, is the most profound sin that the republican party must bear on its conscience. And it is a huge, ugly, metastasizing sin — and I firmly believe that America has had quite enough of it.


Al Sharpton’s speech

I’ve never liked or trusted Al Sharpton. I think he’s shallow and sneaky and deceitful and the ultimate opportunist. And he can be downright dangerous.

All that said, he gave a damned good speech tonight. Certainly a lot better than Dean or Kennedy. The audience was transfixed, and some were crying openly. It seemed like he was ad-libbing a lot, and his 6-minute speech went on for more than 20 minutes. It was lot more intense and damning of Bush than any other speaker so far.


“PRC prepared to defeat Taiwanese separatists”

Where will it end? Here’s the latest outburst.

Calling the cross-strait situation grim, a senior Chinese official yesterday warned that China has made full preparations to thoroughly defeat Taiwanese separatist forces.

It is extremely dangerous and a mistake for the separatist forces to believe that China would tolerate them because of its desire to hold a successful Olympics and to develop the economy, Taiwan Affairs Office vice-director Wang Zaixi said.

‘To resolutely attack and effectively contain Taiwan independence separatist activity relates to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, to our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to the future of peaceful unification, and has become the most urgent task of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,’ he said.

He added that Taiwan independence forces and separatist activity were becoming the biggest threat to peace and stability of the strait.

Of course, Wang tempered it all by assuring us China will first seek a peaceful solution (which I believe is true — who the hell wants to go to war?). He also pointed out, correctly, that Taiwan is enjoying huge economic benefits from China’s boom, and that Taiwanese businessmen who support independence will be banned from doing business in China.

For all the bluster, it sounds as if China is still trying to appear reasonable. But there’s no negotiating on this issue, no rationalizing or bargaining. If it were up to me, Taiwan would have its independence. But looked at through the lens of realpolitik, I have to say the best Taiwan can hope for is to hold on to its current obscure status, accepting the fact that at some point unification is inevitable. Hopefully that time will be off in the distant future, when the motherland is a freer and more magnanimous place.


Convention blogging — do we really need it? (No.)

So much fuss has been made out of bloggers covering the Democratic convention right alongside the “real journalists,” but what has their presence there yielded? I would have to say very little.

Ever since he arrived in Boston, Josh Marshall’s blogging has gone straight downhill, as has Atrios’ — they are only interesting when they stop covering the convention and get back to what they do best, i.e., punditizing about what’s going on in the media. When they try to be the media it falls flat. Pandagon’s doing a lot better, maybe because they are younger and less jaded and their energy is contagious. But all in all, this experiment tells me that sending bloggers into the front lines is a not-so-inspiring failure. I would much rather read Marshall’s analysis of the speeches and the news about them as opposed to how he’s trying to feel his way around the huge convention hall. I’d rather get their take on events as opposed to who went with them to dinner and what famous reporters they saw on the lunch line.

I found one “convention blog,” however, that stands out for originality and wit. I’m not sure if he’s really at the convention or not, but it doesn’t matter — this is some of the most original and humorous blogging I’ve ever seen. Whatever you do, be sure to check it out. I’ll take this over the monotonous recitations of the other convention bloggers anytime. A most precious sample:

I am touchin Atrios’s laptop right now!

Well here we are at the Democratic National Convention! I woulda blogged about the speeches last night but we had a slight medical mishap as I almost got trampled by Sidney Blumenthal while tryin to touch the hem of Bill Clinton’s garment. I could not help it he is just too beautiful!

Just five minutes ago I got to see THE Newsweek’s Howard Fineman! He is even shorter an pastier an more pathologically blase about the status of American democracy in real life! I tried to engage him in insightful commentary but I was overcome by girlish squealin and mobbed him along with some of the understaff of the New Republic. I came back with two teeth and an eyebrow!

But none a that matters right now cause I AM TYPIN ON ATRIOS’S LAPTOP RIGHT NOW. He musta left it out or somethin cause here I am an he even left his Blogger window open I can totally post to his blog an everythin!

Wooooooo I’m Atrios blah blah blah, phony wars are bad, blah blah blah, the media is corrupt an stupid blah blah blah

aaaaaa here he comes runawayrunaway

It gets even funnier than that.

Update: John Dvorak, the in-house curmudgeon at CBS Marketwatch, has this to say about the convention bloggers:

Many of these posts are vapid observations combined with simple Kerry boosterism or knee-jerk Limbaugh-Republicanist complaints.

Some are simply an undecipherable mess. Hopefully a few professionals will come in and publish some thoughtful pieces before the exercise is over, but this looks laughable thus far.



Doug in HK needs your help

Writer and journalist Doug over at Wrong Place Right Time has managed to land a very hot interview about blogging and the media, and he’s requested help.

It is not all set in stone, yet. However, Robert Kaiser, an associate editor of The Washington Post, has agreed to talk with me about blogs, journalism, and his recent work at the Democratic National Convention.

Here’s where I would like your help. If you wish, provide questions either straight or snarky that I can ask Mr. Kaiser about his work, his paper, and the emergence of a crossover involving blogs and old school media.

I will even provide you a few links so that you can check them out yourself. You have to register, but I think it’s worth it if you are a newshound or a blogger interested in the new styles found in old journalism….

My idea is to generate discussion about where blogging is taking old media. As it seems to me that blogging has had a sharp influence on some editor’s positions in writing material that was previously known only as “information.” Now there seems to be a life in it, something more on the ground and editorial in its comments, and even acting as a foundation for new theories about old things and current events.

Check out Doug’s entire post and lend him a hand if you can. Thanks.


Barack Obama steals the show

Hats off, gentlemen — a political genius. Obama just established himself as the foremost young politician in America, a true star in the ascendant. Tragic, that our network television stations couldn’t take a break from their sitcoms to share something this historic with the American people.


Bush’s Brain — a documentary about puppetmeister Karl Rove

If, like me, you’ve wondered who Karl Rove is, where he came from and why some say he’s the most powerful man in America, rent or buy the movie Bush’s Brain.

I won’t give it a full review here; suffice it to say it’s a documentary on Rove and how he operates, based on a book of the same title by Joseph Mealey and Michael Paradies Shoob, both prominent Texas journalists.

Before seeing the film I never realized just how down and dirty Rove plays. He believes in only one thing in life, and that is winning. Now, that’s okay; winning is important, and it certainly beats losing. The fascinating thing is exactly what he’s willing to do to win. In the name of winning, he has virtually no concern for the life and reputation of the opponent. There can only be total victory, at whatever cost to the loser.

One of his favorite tactics is the coordinated whisper campaign. He used this against Ann Richards when Bush ran against her for governeor in Texas. Although she is a grandmother, toward the end of the campaign word began to spread that she was a lesbian. Suddenly people were calling the talk radio stations throughout the state, all raising the same question about her sexuality.

Nowhere is Rove more famous for this tactic than in the attempt (successful) to smear John McCain during the 2000 primaries. It all started after McCain beat Bush in New Hampshire and was about to move on to South Carolina. This was seen as absolutely pivotal, and sure enough, phone calls started coming in to the right-wing talk-show hosts, this time raising an evil rumor that McCain had a black daughter he fathered with a prostitute. To call this “evil” doesn’t quite cut it. McCain had adopted an impoverished black daughter (I believe she was from India but am not certain) in an act of extraordianry humanity and decency, and Rove was twisting it into racist nonsense — except a lot of people didn’t know it was nonsense. Then came the whispers about McCain’s wife being an active drug addict, another very dirty trick (she was, like Kitty Dukakis, an addict at one time, and has always been open about her orderal and her road to recovery). And he went on to do even worse to McCain; so much worse, I can’t imagine how they got him to be their keynote speaker at the upcoming GOP convention.

The movie interviews a broad range of politicians and journalists, each of whom has a horror story to tell about Karl’s ruthlessness. (The interview with Max Cleland was especially poignant.) Some of the stories blew me away, especially Rove’s ability to use slander and innuendo to turn things around at the 11th hour. Sometimes it’s worse than slander.

And that’s what makes me so worried now. I simply cannot believe that as November 2 approaches Rove will refrain from implementing once again his time-honored and proven tactic of take-no-prisoners character assassination. Especially if the race remains tight. I’m worried that Rove will strike at the most critical time, as he always does. There are no rules with Rove, no restrictions. It’s full-frontal assault and morality be damned. Bush, of course, gives it his full blessing. Such are the ways of our great religious president, the resident White House saint.

Bush’s Brain also reminded me of how good a campaigner Bush can be, despite his lack of depth or ideas. Rove and Huighes have trained Bush to remain ruthlessly “on message,” and no matter what he’s asked, he knows how to keep spewing out his message while ignoring the question. So I get worried when everyone says how easy it will be for Kerry to win in the debates. Personally, I think Kerry will win, but Bush won’t go down easily, and if he just comes out alive and in one piece he’ll be seen by many as the winner.

Bush’s Brain is gripping, disturbing and loaded with good information. It isn’t anywhere close to Fahrenheit 9/11 in terms of polish and excitement; it’s basically a lot of interviews strung together. It’s intense, but it’s not entertaining the way Moore is. Still, it’s a great primer oo who Rove is and how lethal he can be.

I pray to God the Kerry camp has a copy; I suspect that the better Kerry does in the polls, the more violent will be Rove’s assault at the most critical moment. And Rove doesn’t lose. So please, Mr. Kerry, watch out.


Thread on China’s potential invasion of Taiwan

In case you’ve missed it, there’s quite a comments thread going on in regard to that most sensitive of issues, whether or not China would really consider invading Taiwan. I’m steering clear of the issue because I’m not much of an expert on the topic, but some of the points people are making there are damned interesting. It ‘s certainly the most spirited discussion this site has seen in some months.


USA Today fires she-devil Ann Coulter after her first column


USA Today has dropped plans for conservative columnist Ann Coulter to write a daily column from the Democratic National Convention this week after an editing dispute over her first piece could not be resolved on Monday. Jonah Goldberg, a contributor to the National Review, has agreed to take her place, with his first column slated to run Tuesday.

Goldberg, of course, is the editor of National Review Online who fired Coulter a couple of years back for her inafmous remarks on how we should invade the Middle East and convert all the Muslims to Christianity.

It leaves one wondering, why on earth would mainstream USA Today hire the likes of Ann Coulter, a true extremist, in the first place? She is way too out there for the mainstream, kind of like signing on Mike Savage or Noam Chomsky. Definitely not mainstream.

Meanwhile, on her own site, she of the anorexic body and protruding Adam’s apple has posted a copy of the column that got her fired on her first day. Here’s a snip.

Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazened with the “F-word” are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.

Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists — with the exception of Boston’s police, who’ll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they’ll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs.

Is that really what mom and dad want their kids reading over breakfast? I think this confirms what most of us know: that Ann is a fire-breathing, Democrat-hating walking streak of sleaze, a freakish entity that somehow made it to Earth, where its sole attraction is its freakishness. Let’s just hope the entity never reproduces. One Ann Coulter is way too many.