19 May 2007

Versus/Reversus for 19 May 2007. In Re: Comey, Gonzalez, and the State of the Rule of Law; or"Why Do the [Liberal] Heathen Rage?"


IN RE:  DELICIOUS IRONIES.  Every now and then it's important to stop and ask why.  At "Hullabaloo," blogger Digby considers the writings of Clinton critic Douglas Kmiec, past and present. In Re:  Comey, Gonzalez, and the State of the Rule of Law; or"Why Do the [Liberal] Heathen Rage?" 

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22 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 22 April 2007. Edwards: Running Into Maureen Dowd's Scissors.

Glassandlights25Yes, yes, we've all hard about John Edwards' two $400 haircuts.  Face it:  it's a legitimate flub.  I like Edwards as well as any of the candidates---I'm pretty neutral to all of them at this point---but it's not being cruel or negative or superficial to find the haircuts a bit out of order. 

Go to Versus/Reversus now...

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Versus/Reversus for 22 April 2007. First We Need to Control the Gun Control Debate

Servilia2damozel   Most of the discussion on both sides is intemperate and some of it is frightening.  People get upset and angry and insult one for what each assumes is the other's secret agenda.  For that reason, it's hardly ever productive.

I had hardly begun to ask myself why when I stumbled on two excellent articles from two well-known law blogs, The Volokh Conspiracy, and Concurring Opinions.  One pinpoints the problem in coming up with a workable solution (if there are workable solutions); the other discusses the reasons why it's impossible for us to have a civil conversation with persons on the other side.  Everyone who wants to talk about this issue ought to have to read both..

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus....

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21 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 21 April 2007. Joe Klein Discovers "Bush Unplugged." Sigh.

Buckle2l Joe Klein might as well give up trying to appease the readers of Swampland because they remember "Primary Colors" and they will never, never, never forgive.  I like him a lot in spite of that---I feel that he is one of the journalists who is capable of reassessing based on fresh evidence and that he speaks as he sees---but I have to admit that his "discovery" that Bush isn't a great public speaker irked me.   What? I know Klein hasn't been living under a rock since election 2000 so this strikes me as disingenuous at best.

Besides I get fed up with people ripping on Bush for his problems with articulation.  I remember his dad:  same problem, different accent.  I'm amazed that Jeb expresses himself as fluently as he does, in fact.  What was it Ann Richards said about Bush Pater?  "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus.

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20 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 20 April 2007. John Maraniss at The Washington Post: This is What Happened.

SunburstIf you can bear to know what really happened to the students at Virginia Tech, and in defense of the survivors (who, inexplicably, seem to need defending), here is an excerpt from a much longer article by David Maraniss at The Washington Post. 

I hope that reading this will make people on the immoderate ends of the Right and Left stop pointing fingers, let go of their anger, and sit with their sorrow. 

Before I read this, my anger at those who attacked the survivors kept some of the horror at bay.  This made it sink in.  So you've been warned. 

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus....

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Quote of the Day for 20 April 2007. Podhoretz at NRO: Neutralizing the Derbyshire Effect.

At National Review Online's Corner, John Podhoretz offers a rebuke to Derbyshire for his insensitive speculations about the students of Virginia Tech. 

Read more at Versus/Reversus here....

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Quote O' the Day for 19 April 2007. At Slate: Gonzalez Q and A!


   Slate has composed its own list of questions for Gonzalez and is filling in the answers when---or if---he vouchsafes them (or if the Senate asks them).  I provided the link (and selected my own preferred "Gonzo" quotes).  I say it there, but I'll say it here as well:  I end up being quite sorry for the man.

To read, go to Versus/Reversus....


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19 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 18 April 2007. A Few Green Leaves in the Middle of the Wasteland.

SatinsilverAt the centrist blog Done with Mirrors, I found a tribute to the victims of the Virginia tragedy that was beautiful, restrained, and profoundly moving. 

At the centrist blog Ambivablog, I found a note focusing on the harder question (harder than all the guns!/not guns! rhetoric) concerning the need for case-by-case attention to monsters waiting to happen (such as Cho). 

Both the extreme right and extreme left routinely exploit the worst tragedies as an excuse for trying to shame those on the opposite side into agreeing with them.  All the questions raised by Virginia Tech are complicated and all the events were set into motion by complicated series of events.

Right and left  politicize every issue.  You have to turn to the moderates for rational commentary.

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus....

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18 April 2007

Quote of the Day for 18 April 2007 Pt. 2. Nathanael Blake: "Where were the MEN?"

Pin_2Blaming the victims is a good way, I imagine, to distract attention from the larger issues about guns and gun control.  Guns don't kill people---bullets kill people.  And a bullet is just a teeny little thing you can duck under or run around, apparently, as you rush a crazed gunman and bring him down with a flying tackle.

Like Derbyshire at National Review Online, Nathanael Blake also believes that he would have rushed at the Virginia Tech shooter to tackle and disarm him. I'm sure the families of the dead would wish that he had been there to do just exactly that.  I am sure the families of the survivors would feel just the same. 

But I'm hoping that none of them read this nonsense.

Ain't it just like a man, as my great-auntie used to say---meaning the kind of m en we knew back in the Carolinas back in the early Seventies---to ask this sort of question?  But it takes a very special man to ask it even before the panicking, desperate parents whose children lived through the slaughter have finished hugging them.

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus here....

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Quote of the Day for 18 March 2007. John Derbyshire at National Review on the "Spirit of Self-Defence."

Pebbses2Don't read this quote until some time has elapsed after the shootings, is my advice.  Unless, of course, you regularly read National Review Online, in which case I'll assume your skin is thick enough.  Discovered through Wonkette: John Derbyshire at National Review Online.   

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17 April 2007

Heather Havrilevsky at Salon on the End of "Top Design."

Sixtiesmosaic2xlSomehow or other I didn't post a link to a note I posted at Just Eat the Damn Peach.  Here is a comment on Heather Havrilevsky's commentary at Salon on the end of "Top Design"  and on the show generally.  Sadly, she takes a swipe at my imaginary friend and ideal counselor Todd Oldham---which made me sad...

To read more, go to Just Eat the Damn Peach.

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Versus/Reversus for 18 April 2007. Rebuttal to Johann Hari's review of the Andrew Roberts History.

RadiantI quoted from a review of historian Andrew Roberts' book that was published in The New Republic.  In the interests of balance (and also because the rebuttal is intrinsically interesting), I have now published excerpts---and comments on---a rebuttal published elsewhere. 

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus.

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13 April 2007

Versus/Reversus Quote of the Day for 13 April 2007. . The New Republic: Johann Hari on Historian Andrew Roberts, Bush, and the Future of the "Anglosphere."

Stonemandalaxss_4   It seems President Bush has a friend in British historian Andrew Roberts, a self-described "reactionary." 

According to Johann Hari, a columnist from The Independent, there may a few drawbacks.  To read more, go to Versus/Reversus....

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11 April 2007

Quote O' the Day for 11 April 2007. Howard Stern: Subverting the Meaning of "Subversive."


  Anyway, so.  There's a big kerfuffle going on over the "subversion" of the reality show/"singing" "competition", American Idol---because in these days, there's really nothing else for people to invest their energies in resisting. 

And radio "shock jock" (if you're easily shocked) Howard Stern is leading the charge!  Go to Versus/Reversus to find out why this is sort of sad.  And lame.

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10 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 10 April 2007. Why Don Imus Should NOT be fired.

Marblestrands_3 There's no need to make a pop culture martyr of him.    I have a much better idea.

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09 April 2007

Versus/Reversus. Christopher Hitchens at Slate (and Why We Used to Love Him).


  At Slate, I was pretty taken with this nonpolitical article by Christopher Hitchens, whom I used to love.  Dem or no Dem, I've always appreciated good, trenchant writing and a mordant sense of humor, and he was one of the writers who could achieve this. 

Compared to the pieces I remember, this is really gentle; yet it reminded me to feel sad about how I (and my friends) parted ways with Hitch when his views on the current Administration no longer made any sense to us.  I miss him though.  I can see myself creeping back in time, if.  You know:  IF.  I don't know about Frances. 

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07 April 2007

Versus/Reversus for 7 April 2007. Britain versus Itself.

EggyeggxlApparently the feeling among Brits, including my husband, is that Iran "humiliated" them.  Really?  I guess I don't see how.  Does anybody on earth not understand what really happened there?   I guess I feel stupid and naive for praising their diplomacy.  This article at Slate by Geoffrey Wheatcroft addresses the British take on this international incident.  "Humiliation." 

I felt a bit better when I read this responsive note by Mickey Kaus, "Didn't Iran Blink?"  At least I'm not alone in regarding what he calls a "muddled success" as, you know, "success."

I guess I am too much of a female and a Quaker to see international diplomacy as a pissing contest.  If you're a little girl, see, and some little boy shows off his range and his aim, what you do is say, "Huh.  An interesting gesture. "  It's not like you can fight piss with piss.  You just let him feel whatever little boys do feel when they've shown they can take things further than you and get on to the next thing.  Despite what Freud believed (who was never a little girl and who therefore didn't know), little girls know that there's no disgrace in walking away. 

To read more, go to Versus/Reversus here (Wheatcroft) and here (Kaus).

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04 April 2007

The Marginal Christian's Handbook for 4 April 2007. Why every Christian should read the Gospel of Judas (Reflections on the Interview with Elaine Pagels at Salon.)

Crossribbons2 I was so excited to see the Pagels interview in Salon. I love her books.  She's an amazingly accessible writer and  I'm fascinated by the lost Gospels.

If you're a contemporary Christian aren't you hungry for any glimpse of  Christ that history can afford you?  As a small-c christian, I know I am.   

And before you discount this Gospel, read good old John's account of the last supper again.  So much that isn't apparent about Christ (or how the author of that Gospel saw him) if you only read it the way someone else tells you to read it becomes clear if you just take a step back.  And certain aspects of this lost gospel are, in their way, curiously consistent (or so it seemed to me).   After all, John was always an outlier, with a strong gnostic tinge. 

But first, read Pagels to give you a perspective.  And before you read Pagels, read more here.

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01 April 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 1 April 2007. The Kathy Sierra Incident and the Standard of Discourse on the Internet. A Simple Solution.

Glassbauble22Everybody's talking about the Kathy Sierra, an incident which highlighted the ugliness of much of the so-called "discourse" that takes place on the net, where random people, behind their anonymous masks, feel free to indulge in a level of incivility they could never dare to approach in the real world and live by the rule "If you can't say nothing at all, say something vicious."

At first I thought the whole thing was too stupid to bother with, and something that a seasoned blogger ought to be able to cope with, and then....and then I looked closer at the things that were said to this woman.  And then I considered what she said about how it made her feel.  And you know what, I believe her.

And I think the fact that my initial response was that she "should" be able to deal with it shows how far the level of discourse on the internet has fallen from even ordinary levels of incivility.  Free speech does not mean the freedom to bully, harass, intimidate, and gratuitously insult others.

I was in the middle of my note when I saw Joan Walsh's blog at Salon, which clinched it for me.  The more I thought about it, the more furious I became.   I am entirely outraged that any woman should be subjected to this sort of harassment and insult.  Why should anyone feel she ought to have to put up with it?  Why should any online publication permit it?  Read more in the Flatland Chronicles.....

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31 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 31 March 2007. A note on the Impending Realignment. (Comment on Gary Kamiya's article at Salon).

HippieAbout this recent poll, reflecting the GOP's plummeting popularity with the American public, and discussed by Gary Kamiya at Salon....

Sure, it's good news by all of those who got shit-scared when the "swing to the right" which we were assured was heralded by Bush's two narrow victories turned out to be a swing to the far right (and by the mainstream press's failure, pre-Katrina, to speak up about anything). 

But I don't know if the Dems should be strapping on their dancing sandals just yet.  I'm a Dem myself and I'm only just marginally less sick of them than of the GOP.  I hope they work out that disliking what the Republicans have become and leaning toward opinions on health care and care for the elderly etc. that are consistent with the goals of Democrats is not, per se, an endorsement of the Democratic party.  There are still plenty of ways for them to lose it all.  For example, we could all be so disgusted that we all just stay home.

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Versus/Reversus for 31 March 2007. Get the DOJ a dictionary, stat! (Comment on Michael Scherer's Article at Salon, Grilling Gonzalez's Fall Guy, and on a Transcript from the Senate Judiciary Hearing.)

Leafage_2   Man, poor Kyle Sampson.  He is the consummate example of the essentially well-intentioned man brought low by too much loyalty. 

"I don't feel sorry for him," said Nick.  "It's the Nuremberg defense."

No, it isn't because he's not trying to deny responsibility for the outcome.   

What's really sad is that nobody in charge at the DOJ seems able to distinguish between "performance as a prosecutor" and "performance as an arm of the Executive branch."   The transcript I read of a portion of the hearing suggests that he really doesn't known the meaning of "political" (as an performance) and "partisan" (ditto).   And Michael Scherer's article at Salon was downright poignant.   Read more about the Senate Judiciary Hearing at Versus/Reversus


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30 March 2007

Random Link O' the Day for 30 March 2007. At Home with the Geico Cavemen.


   Those who appreciate the nuanced, finely calibrated sensibilities of the Geico cavemen will want to visit their digs.  Check out---and envy!---their taste and technology.

But can they make the leap from advertising icons to prime time television? 

Bonus link!  The article from Slate where I found the link (contains actual caveman footage as seen on TV!)  Read on at the  Flatland Chronicles...

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29 March 2007

Versus/Reversus Quote of the Day for 29 March 2007. Garrison Keillor at Excerpt from "The Current Occupant Goes for a Walk."

GulfcoastGarrison Keillor, the man from Lake Wobegon, on Bush bushed.  Poignant! 

Read more at Versus/Reversus.....

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26 March 2007

Versus/Reversus Quote of the Day for 26 March 2007. William F. Buckley on Executive Privilege and Congress's Investigative Powers.

Cherubs23xlToday's quote is from an article by William F. Buckley relating to executive privilege and Congress's investigative powers.  He makes some interesting distinctions between the current scandal and the Watergate scandal that my fellow  Democrats would probably do well to bear in mind.


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Versus/Reversus for 26 March 2007. Congressional Oversight of the Executive Branch as a Conservative Value (Glenn Greenwald at Salon).


TO SUM UP,  I'm still working on formulating a clear opinion about the current White House scandal and the firing---pretty clearly because they wouldn't toe the political line---of those U.S. attorneys.  I concluded that, on strictly pragmatic lines, the Dems would be making a mistake to take any steps that would require the intervention of the courts and a prolonged process.

Glenn Greenwald's column in Salon today made me feel I'd been pretty naive to think anything else would work; and, further, that I have perhaps bought in to the disposition of pundits and the media to dismiss the whole thing with a light laugh.  I don't want an investigation, as they say----but shouldn't I want it?  Shouldn't the Republicans?  And shouldn't the press be all over it?

I looked at Buckley's column (cited by Greenwald) to get the conservative position.  Buckley makes some distinctions between this situation and Watergate that I think are valid, but is also critical of the president.


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Just Eat the Damn Peach for 26 March 2007. The Mainstreaming of TWoP?


  Television without Pity, one of my favorite recreational sites,  has recently been acquired by Bravo.  The site's administrators assure us that this won't mean that they'll lose their critical edge, and I for one have faith in them.  But I am interested to hear what others have to say.   At Slate, Dana Stevens raised the question whether this new development would ruin TWoP's "cult" appeal?  I'm guessing not, but it's a good question.  For why you should check out the site (if you haven't already done so, and been banned), JUMP NOW TO JUST EAT THE DAMN PEACH.

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25 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 25 March 2007. Paul Slansky, at the Huff Post, on the Bush Administration.



I think he should stop mincing his words.  Don't you think he should stop missing his words?  I

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Quote of the Day! A List of Alternative Oaths for Rove.

LuminousbowlxlHart  Seely at Slate Magazine proposed a list of nine alternative oaths Rove could swear  if he's averse to telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing else but.

I've picked out my favorites for my quote of the day.  Which you can either read by clicking on the "Centrist's Bloggers Quotes of the Day" link or by JUMPING TO VERSUS/REVERSUS.  Number 7 is my favorite.  I hope someone, somewhere, is taking note. 

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Versus/Reversus for 25 March 2007. Webb and the Middle Way; Krauthammer Calls for Gonzalez Resignation on Grounds of Incompetence. A Centrists' Take.

I'm relieved to read that Webb is trying to find some middle ground for the troop withdrawal because---frankly---the current plan doesn't sound to me as if it has taken into account all the factors that need to be taken into account.

Sadly, going backwards never puts you back to where you would have been if you'd never embarked on the course in the first place.  Once you've upset the apple cart, you can't put it right just by putting it right again. For one thing, if you've ruined the apples and broken the equipment, you have to replace them.  Time and fate are linear and move only in one direction.  Or, to quote Heracleitis (oh, give me a break; I studied philosophy in college and I've never once been able to work it into a sentence yet), no one can step in the same river twice.

And I'm interested in the way Krauthammer has reframed the whole Gonzalez deal.  It's not that he did anything wrong; it's that he was incompetent! 

Most of all, I'm interested----increasingly interested---in how moderates are viewing these situations. With surprising moderation, it appears.


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24 March 2007

Anglo-Saxon Attitudes for 24 March 2007. One American's Lessons in British Culture.

Auroradamozel_2 I haven't been writing much in that blog, it's one of the ones that's always on my to-do list, not because I don't have anything to say, but because I have too much. 

Today I posted a link to a note which says much of it quite succinctly...and without the rose-colored glasses I'm more or less forced by circumstances to wear.

To read my note on "13 things I Have Learned About America from the British," and to find a link to a most interesting blog,  JUMP TO ANGLO-SAXON ATTITUDES NOW

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23 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 23 March 2007. After Snow, the Deluge.

Abstract23ss More discussion of the Democrats' strategy-free decision to subpoena Rove and Company.  Sigh.  The party games just go on and on. 

Politicians should study Lao-Tze and the I Ching or the martial arts.  All this endless bickering and one-upping and scoring points just wastes time and makes everyone look equally childish and self-serving. 


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Versus/Reversus for 23 March 2007. Snow and the Whirlwind We're All Going to Reap.

GoldenribbonsxlThe Democrats want to know what Rove (and Bush) knew about the circumstances surrounding the firing of the U.S. attorneys and when they knew it.  The White House is---or rather, was----all about the cooperation, provided that the Democrats  knuckled under to their demands to have officials interviewed off the record and not under oath. 

You can read a summary of Snow explaining like a broken record how this was an extraordinarily generous offer.  You can also read why I think my fellow Dems should have taken them up on it. 

For an entertaining excerpt from the transcript, and a suggestion that there are better political strategies than drawing/stepping over lines someone draws in the sand, JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS NOW

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21 March 2007

More Versus/Reversus for 21 March 2007. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.


  Two links to two quick comments on Glenn Greenwald's opinion column at Salon.  First, I found my quote of the day, this time from Republican James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, in his opinion piece on the Republicans who are all so, so disappointed in the FBI's use of its Patriot Act powers.  It's an excellent piece, so naturally I wanted to link to it.  JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS HERE.

Second, I found another excellent argument---this one on the president's stand to protect executive privilege----which I also wanted to link to. To read more, go to VERSUS/REVERSUS here...

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20 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 20 April 2007. Quote O' the Day! Joan Walsh on Christopher Hitchens on Iraq.

Gallifrey2xlJoan Walsh discusses the shift in the culture from two years ago to now, and Salon's part in speaking truth to power when the mainstream press didn't dare.  The quote in question is from something Christopher Hitchens wrote back when people still thought it could work. 


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19 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 19 March 2007. A Centrist View of McCain: We Could Do Worse, and Why (even though he won't get my vote). (Candidates, please take note).

Wheel2bluewheelingMcCain has swung too far right to get my vote, I imagine, and I find myself in disagreement with him on almost everything that matters to me.  But I still feel a grudging admiration for him, or even an ungrudging one, in this respect:  he talks to the press and he says what he thinks and he doesn't think Americans are all stupid.   If he were president, I wouldn't like it, but I also wouldn't hate him.

I get the feeling that certain candidates truly believe you can fool MOST of the people all of the time and I am so fed up with it


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18 March 2007

They're Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot! Heather Havrilevsky at on Role Models for the Empowered Young Women of the New Millenium ("Pin the Tail on the Whoring Sea Donkey!")


At Salon, Heather Havrilevsky rants hilariously about "Generation Whoring Sea Donkey" and how they've finally moved the goalposts too far and set the bar too low.  Who is to blame for this?  The media?  Paris Hilton?  The "hootchie mama role models of Gen X"?  I'm no longer young enough to know what is---and is not---outrageous.   I do think it's all sort of relative.  In my generation, I ranted against the "preppies" in their hideous, vomit-inducing flourescent pastels, their hard primary colors, their khakis and---most of all---their horrid little handbags with fabric that could be buttoned on or off to match their "outfits."

They were both venal AND venial, but also dull and complacent.  They thought being affluent and preppie made them better than other people, and during their reign it didn't matter whether you were hotter or smarter than they were or not; they ran everything.

Also:  They shagged all the damn time, and I don't mean the British sort of shagging people talk about now, I mean the dance (to "beach music!") called "The Carolina shag."  "He can shag," was ever their cry, when speaking with approval of their preppie counterparts.  Ugh. 

Anyway, here's my take on the Salon article and on sexual empowerment generally.  JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES NOW.

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17 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 17 March 2007. Bill Maher in Real Time, on Fox, and Larry King Live.

Brilliant2xlFriday night's episode of Real Time was one of the best ever.  I posted a note here.  When the transcript to the episode gets posted, I'll link to it and perhaps discuss it a little further. 

Then on March 7 Bill Maher had a nice chat with Bill O'Reilly on "The O'Reilly factor" and I couldn't let that go without at least a comment, since Bill Maher's website kindly links to the transcript.  And of course then he was on Larry King Live on March 12.  For discussion JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS HERE.

Little man, you've had a busy month. 

Finally, Trump commented adversely on President Bush today during a CNN interview.  Bill O'Reilly will want  to call out the Donald I am sure and give him the sort of "avuncular" talking to he tried to administer to Bill Maher. 

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16 March 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 16 March 2007. The Secret. Peter Birkenhead at Salon speaks about Oprah; Salon readers share their secrets about "The Secret;" and I speculate about optimism, pessimism, and why Jesus failed as a "prosperity teacher."


  You may be wondering if I could have come up with a more maladroit title for this note.

It does have this advantage:  it explains exactly what the note is about so I don't really have to explain it here.  To read it, JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES.


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15 March 2007

Versus/Reversus for 15 March 2007. Gary Kamiya at on The Coulterization of the Right; Buckley as a model for desperate conservatives.

Bbord2In an article at Salon, Gary Kamiya musters the points and presents the arguments that conservatives in good faith who don't know the difference between loyalty to a principle and loyalty to the party. 

I do not enjoy politics and wouldn't discuss political issues at all if I didn't feel some sort of obligation now and then to speak up on behalf of the sane majority who routinely hear our thoughts, beliefs, preferences, values, and way of life abused by the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.  I am tired of it, and I am tired of my counterparts on the other side of the fence (e.g., moderate/centrist Republicans) allowing without objection these people to lay claim to the values of conservatism when every other word they speak reveals that they've lost sight (if they ever knew) of what those values even are.

So I appreciate having Kamiya sum up all the reasons why conservatives in good faith need to reclaim their party from the extremists who have hijacked it.  This article by Tanenhaus in The New Republic suggests that conservative icon William F. Buckley might be the principled conservative who can lead them out of the slough and back on terra firma.  I don't ascribe to Buckley's views, of course, but do feel that he is the model of a Republican  who knows when loyalty and the will to power need to give way before principle.  So I was happy to find this article by Sam Tanenhaus ( How William F. Buckley turned against the war--and his own movement). in today's edition of The New Republic and to read this interview with its author (discussing Republicanism versus Conservatism.

[quote begins from The new Republic, Sam Tanenhaus, How William F. Buckley Turned  Against the war---and his own movement in The New Republic (03.15.07).

Buckley perhaps differs most strikingly from others on the right in what he hasn't said: Specifically, he has not denounced Bush's liberal critics. Commentary has seriously proposed that the editors of The New York Times committed treason by publishing reports on the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program; Dinesh D'Souza, in his new reductio ad absurdum, The Enemy at Home, consciously summons up the ghost of Joe McCarthy by proffering lists of "domestic insurgents"--they include Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy, and Martha Nussbaum--who "want bin Laden to win and Bush to lose the war" on terrorism. But Buckley, with his memories of the AFC, knows the difference between dissent and disloyalty. (He is succinct on D'Souza's book: "I haven't read it and I reject its thesis.")

Beyond this, Buckley recognizes, as Bush's defenders have not, that the trouble originates with the Iraq war, not with its opponents. When I asked him recently if Iraq is the Republicans' Vietnam, he said, "Absolutely." It is a serious admission for one who knows that Vietnam destroyed cold war liberalism and, with it, the Democratic Party's control of national politics. Iraq now threatens the right and the GOP, Buckley says, with the "identical" fate. No wonder, then, that in a July interview with CBS News, he said that if Bush were the leader of a parliamentary government "it would be expected that he would retire or resign."

[quote ends]

If---with or without the help of Buckley---- we can all just get past this bad patch, intelligent, modest, moderate people on either side of the spectrum can go back to criticizing each other's real beliefs without Ann Coulter popping up from trapdoors every other week to denounce all liberals as godless or traitors or "faggots."  However much this may amuse the sort of Republican who'd listen to anything she says in the first place, it is delaying the time when we can work together to accomplish the things we definitely need to accomplish.   

I believe, because what else can I do, that we will----I hope it's sooner rather than later--- begin to hear new voices emerge from the Republican side of the fence which will take a stand in favor of traditional conservative values (which include a respect for civil liberties and for the right of the individual to be free from governmental scrutiny of private life).  I come from the Carolinas, and I can assure you that while most of the Republicans I know there are religious and favor "family values," the same is true of the Democrats; and except for extremists not a one of them thinks we should be in Iraq or still argues that we did the right thing in going there 

In the meantime, Gary Kamiya at Salon has assembled the arguments that conservatives need to be making to themselves.  JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS NOW.

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14 February 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 14 February 2007. (Seriously) Disturbing Statues from Around the World. Also: Mr. Death as a Cartoon!

"Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day, all in the morning betime
And I a maid at your window to be your valentine
Then up he rose and donn'd his clothes
And dupp'd the chamber door
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.

Quoth she, "Before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed."
He answers:  "So would I ha' done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed."

By Gis and by St. Charity,
Alack and fie for shame!
Young men will do it, when they come to it,
By cock, they are to blame."

Ophelia sings the first part of this fine old English song in Hamlet, Act IV, Scene V.

I never really cared about the day after I read Ophelia's songs in high school.  Many men have noted over the years that I am lacking the essential spirit of romance---which evidently hinges on the ability to read Meaning into consumer goods---and I have resented for years the imposition by the powers that be of present-giving obligations at all the times of the year when I am busy, busy, busy.  Because during summer, when my workload is light, what gift-giving occasions are there?  Exactly.   

Anyway, Nick and  decided when we married five years ago to ignore all holidays decreed such by other people and to create our own traditions, such as A Million Different Chocolates Day, Our Souls, and The Feast of the Three Felines, and best of all,  English/American Mixed Marriage Day (gifts mandatory).  We don't encourage others to follow our example, as it would wreak havoc on the greeting card and cuddly toys industries and advertising business.  I'm just explaining, so you'll know why no hearts and flowers are forthcoming. 

Instead of hearts and flowers, let me present to you some of the weirdest statues on the planet, as well as some unpleasantly morbid cartoons featuring Mr. Death himself, just to remind you that we were not put here on this earth for pleasure alone.  In the midst of your revels my friends, memento mori, and spare a thought for poor fictional Ophelia. 


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07 February 2007

Versus/Reversus for 7 February 2007. Arianna Huffington & Joe Klein---The HuffPost vs. Swampland.

Foldedredxl_1 Okay, here's what happened:  Arianna Huffington, founder of The HuffPost,  wrote a blog at and about Joe KleinIn this blog she called him a "revisionist" with respect to his position on the Iraq war.

Joe Klein deigned to respond in his Swampland blog.  In his blog, he called Arianna Huffington "the doyenne of the Hollywood left"---ouch---and set out his explanation.

Huffington responded.

Reading this back-and-forthing in the first instance got me down; seeing Klein get called out that way depresses me.  I like Joe Klein, if for no other reason than the fact that he isn't completely predictable.  I usually don't agree with him, but he seems to go much further than most in trying to find that lost middle ground. 

And while I've generally been disappointed in the press during the past several years, Joe Klein never struck me as someone who was pushing an agenda.  I always felt, though of course I can't prove this one way or the other, that he was trying to understand the issues and work around to some sort of balanced (not in the Foxian sense) view.  Even though he typically has landed much further to the right than I do, I always felt that he arrived there by a similar process. 

I don't even hold Primary Colors against him; and I love Bill Clinton.  In my experience, most Clinton-lovers are people who are uninterested in Clinton's personal failings.  We liked him as a president, end of. 

But----speaking as a Democrat since the age of Jimmy Carter---I am sincerely sick of people on both sides of the political spectrum who have a position on every issue ready made.   I won't defend Klein's integrity because I don't know a thing about it or him, but I must say I have always felt that he tries to tell the truth as he saw it.   His notion of what is true does tend to fluctuate.  So, for that matter, does mine.  Unlike Democrats of a more extreme stripe (not to mention certain members of the Bush Administration), I don't have my positions all worked out in advance.  I have often lived to retract my opinions...

Why are people who know what they think and are certain that they're right so offended by people who lack that sort of certaintyt?  And why do they get so damn wrought up about it?   

I used to think of myself as progressive---because, after thinking the issues through, I almost always land on that side of the fence---but then a friend (a pretty close friend, actually)  told me I don't qualify for the club because I'm not "committed" to progressivism.  Evidently to qualify for membership, you have to buy into a certain minimum number of items on some agenda somewhere, sight unseen.  That's not how I get my opinions.  Maybe it's not how Klein gets his.  Who the hell knows, except JK himself? 

Anyway, the Huffington/Klein debate, or quarrel, or feud, got me thinking hard about why I feel so uncomfortable when I read the writings of certain people who identify as liberals or progressives.  Even when I agree with their conclusions, I often can't see how they got there.  In many cases, they seem, just like the right-wingers I most dislike, to get their opinions all ready-made.  They're consistent and predictable, and I don't trust people who are always consistent. 


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06 February 2007

Versus/Reversus for 6 February 2007. Party Games: "Let's Play Twister; Let's Play Risk!" "Ashes, ashes, all fall down!"


It's hard to have faith anymore in the political process.  But then again, that's been the case ever since political institutions first came into being. 

"What have the Romans ever done for us?"

But after the first heady taste of victory in the final election, the question of just how the Democrats should wield their newfound power has been the two ton donkey in the room.  Should they be conciliatory and strive for bipartisan solutions for the good of the country?  Or should they administer salutary kickings all round, for the good of the country?

It seems as if they're not yet that sure how they want to play it.  In the end though, the Republicans might make up their minds for them by refusing themselves to play the bipartisan game.  That will put the Democrats in the awkward position of not being able to get anything accomplished.  It will also permit the Republicans to avoid doing anything that might upset anyone they don't want to upset, while making it the Democrats fault---assuming we're all as stupid and credulous as Republicans (notoriously) believe.  Or perhaps it will force the Democrats to throw up their hands in defeat, allowing the Republicans to rush in and save the day.

Maybe we are as stupid as the Republicans believe.  Maybe we will just patiently wait for them to stop fiddling around before the whole earth starts to sweat and burn and it's too late for anything:  Iraq, alternative fuel sources, peace in the mideast, affordable health care, educational reform, anything.

Somehow, though, I have managed to preserve my simple faith in the process.  After all, we've had our backs against the wall before and---despite venal and self-serving politicians---have managed to pull together at the 11th hour.  All we can do now is hope that the 11th hour won't be too late.

In the meantime, I'm comforted by the wise words of Garrison Keillor, who gave me "A Prairie Home Companion" and the spiritual oasis of Lake Wobegon back in the Eighties when all anyone cared about was deregulation, arbitraging, mergers, and disco-dancing. 

On the other hand, I remain disconcerted by the spectacle of two Democrats who totally agree with one another in all important respects take contrary positions on the same issue.  Who is right and who is wrong?  Hell if I can figure it out.


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04 February 2007

Versus/Reversus for 4 February 2007. "Not Playing but Drowning."

Platinumtubesxl_1Further on the subject of polar bears---I'm sorry, but anything to do with animals always gets to me---I posted a quick note at Versus/Reversus which includes a (very humble) parody of Stevie Smith's great poem, "Not Waving but Drowning," adapted to the subject of drowning-not-playing polar bears.  I wish, equally humbly, to dedicate it to Rush Limbaugh

I also wish to point out to the people who inhabit the far ends of the political spectrum that you really DON'T have to fall automatically into line between politicans you favor.  You can be conservative or liberal without feeling that you have to agree----for the sake of that hobgoblin of tiny little birdbrains, consistency---with everything they say.  While you may favor a philosophy of liberalism or conservatism, try to remember that its proponents are fallible human beings.

Remember also that big corporations are mere legal fictions run by people who want to keep their jobs and make money at them.  They're good for all of us when they pay taxes and provide jobs; they're bad when they start operating as self-perpetuating entities that exist only for the sake of their boards of directors and shareholders.  For example, a corporation that's (allegedly) funding research intended to keep you from believing the unpleasant conclusions of the IPCC concerning the causes of global warming, that's not only not good, it's toxic to the whole system and to reality itself. 

You can call them on it and still call yourself a conservative.  Being conservative and a Republican doesn't mean you have to be stupid and credulous.  Or credulous and selfish (in the sense of caring more about your everlasting income tax than about all the polar bears on earth, more about hanging on to what you get or have got than you care about the whole damn planet). 

And that goes for Rush Limbaugh too. 


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The Flatland Chronicles for 4 February 2007. Polar Bear Games.

Curlywurlyxl_1 You'd think that if there was ever an issue that could unite people around the globe, it would be this one.  Maybe that will happen if people will shut up screaming at one another for being the wrong color and believing the wrong things long enough to pay attention.

Deadly tornadoes, in Florida, in the wintertime?   Yes, definitely unusual.   Or, to quote, Naomi Foner, "You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing." 

In the meantime, even the people who understand what's at stake, and how exceedingly soon, seem to be moving in slow motion.  Do politicians and pundits really think that things can continue as they are, or that once the first wave of the changes can no longer be denied,  the people who don't (presently) believe in global warming aren't going to be seriously pissed with them?

Seriously, Rush, the very people you are most likely to persuade with the whole "polar bear games" line of argument are the very ones who are going to want your head on a spike when it turns out you've misled them.  They aren't going to read the scary bad news and work out for themselves what they think, because they trust you.  Does it ever occur to you that there are degrees of being wrong, and that being wrong about an impending global cataclysm is likely to be much more dangerous than being wrong about, well, everything else? 

I suppose human beings just naturally need a human enemy.  If only we could prove that global warming was being driven by someone else.  If we could pin it on the greed and overconsumption of people who are not us, then you'd see action.


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03 February 2007

Just Eat the Damn Peach for 3 February 2007. Homage to the Recapper Jacob (of Television without Pity).

Coloredglassxl A humble tribute to Television without Pity's Jacob Clifton. 

Every now and then on the internet, you stumble across someone whose voice is unique.  There is plenty of good writing on the internet if you look for it, but the proportion of truly original, one-of-a-kind writers is the same as anywhere else. 

If someone writes in a way that fully engages me, I don't really care what the topic is.  I'll read about rainfall levels in Willamette, Oregon, if it's presented to get the information across in a way that makes me feel that it's information that adds value to my life. 

Such a writer is Jacob Clifton of the Website, a recapper at Television without Pity.  In this note, I provide three carefully chosen samples of his particular genius, as well as links to other work produced by him, so that you can see for yourself.

To enjoy this brilliant young writer, jump to JUST EAT THE DAMN PEACH.

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01 February 2007

Versus/Reversus for 1 February 2007. At Walter Shapiro, "Still grave and deteriorating." The equally grave and deteriorating state of war rhetoric, public debate and meaningful democratic process.

To surge or not to surge?  That is the question.

This article is about the continuing adventures of George W. Bush's plans for escalation of the war.  James Baker---one of those who told us the situation is "grave and deteriorating"----would have us give war a chance.  Or, rather, as he puts it, to give the president's plan a chance. 

Everyone on my side of the fence, and more and more people on the other, are saying  no; no, this is wrong; it won't work; it's the wrong way.  According to those on the other, it is the only way.

Naturally, I'm inclined to believe the people in whom I've decided over the  years to put my trust; but that is not to say I believe they are right.  Unlike Bush, Pelosi, the American Enterpise Institute, The Huffington Post collectively, and a whole raft of people I admire and deplore, I do not know what the right thing is to do.

Furthermore, I've reached the point where I no longer think anyone is thinking clearly enough to give me information on which I could form a judgment.  There is no longer any pretense of objectivity or detachment from either side; everyone is right out in the open with their agendas. 

Which means that we now have no choice but to place our blind faith in our leaders and hope that, with all their certainties, they really do have enough data on which to make a decision. 

I opposed the war on principle, but the question of whether we pull out has ramifications for all the people in whose lives we've interfered.  It's not a strict question anymore of principle; pragmatism has to come into it.  Different interests need to be weighed; objectives need to be articulated.

I don't know what the best thing is for the American people, much less for the Iraqui people.  In reality, any decision we make is likely to be benefiical only to some of either.  It's not even a question anymore of what is best, or what's right, but of what could work (and more important, how).  Work in what way, to what end, how?

Criteria!  We need criteria!  But I've given up thinking that's ever going to happen.  The rhetoric of the war is nothing but an endless stream of unfinished sentences and the public has no data to tell us how to fill in the blanks. 


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30 January 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 30 January 2007. Gary Kamiya at, "The Readers Strike Back." Humble Advice from a Reader to Writers Who Surf Too Much.

EmbellishedribbonxlAt, there is a very interesting article by a writer and journalist on the effect on a writer of internet commentary by their readers.

I've been fascinated since I first discovered internet discussion forums by the group dynamics of these discussions.  I've been fascinated in particular by my own response as a participant.  In my opinions, many forums only purport to be about the issue named in the thread title.  They're often much more about the participants and their struggles for attention or dominance than about the topic. 

I think that a writer with a thick enough skin and confidence in his or her work could really benefit from dropping by forums where he or she is being discussed----even if the discussion is largely adverse---and could really build an audience, but there's an important caveat:  that the writer approach the comments with detachment and without defensiveness.  Most of them are only tangentially about you, guys.

Anyway, for a reader's suggestions to writers, JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES HERE.

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24 January 2007

Versus/Reversus for 24 January 2007. Two More Years. A Wistful Glance at the British System.

FloatingplatterxlIt's the evening after the State of the Union address and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has just (12-9 on mainly party lines, though Hagel voted with the Dems) dissed Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq

In the meantime, there's bad news about global warming from the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change.

It's impossible not to feel a certain level of despair that people are still fighting stupid wars over nonsensical differences of opinion about unprovable issues when there are far greater issues at stake.  And it's impossible not to wish Bush out of office sooner rather than later.  The more he isn't gone, the more the two parties are going to find to bicker about. 

But there it is:  he's ours, we chose him, we enabled him (yes, even so, my fellow Dems) and we're stuck with him for two more long years.  Sadly, he seems unlikely to get up to any dalliances with White House interns.  No tit for tat for us Democrats.  And even if he gave us a totally spurious excuse, do any of us really want a reprise of the self-serving idiocy that was the Clinton impeachment?

At times like this, the thoughtful citizen's mind WILL turn to the British parliamentary system and their procedures for getting rid of Prime Ministers who outstay their welcome .  Walter Shapiro mentioned it in passing in an article at Salon and it's an alluring thought.  Completely out of the question, of course---a change of that sort to the Constitution would doubtless have a domino effect on every aspect of the American political system. 

But alluring. 


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23 January 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 23 January 2007. The State of the President.

Sun_flowerxlHe said nothing tonight that would have surprised anyone who has been paying attention.  I didn't want to watch it after the first three minutes, so I just read the text after it was over. 

For links to that, to the Democrats' response and to some first reactions from progressives, JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES.

Because this blog feels both personal and political, I also linked to it at VERSUS/REVERSUS HERE.

Continue reading "The Flatland Chronicles for 23 January 2007. The State of the President. " »

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Versus/Reversus for 23 January 2006. "How to Speak Republican" at

MetallicsunxlIt's always interesting to hear a political tactic revealed, discussed, mulled over.  I have been hearing and reading a lot lately about Frank Lutz, wordsmith to the GOP, and though his book is unlikely to tell me anything I don't already know, I am giving some thought to purchasing a copy.  Though I'm afraid it will simply annoy me. 

His interview with Salon includes a passing reference to the brouhaha that ensued when Barbara Boxer correctly pointed out that she and Condoleeza Rice have in common one thing:  That neither will pay the ultimate price in Iraq, the loss of a son or grandchild.  This, more than anything else he said---that the Dems harm themselves by hyperbole and rhetoric---set me thinking. 

Why would a bald statement of fact be considered a slur against the Secretary of State?  She is childless.    She isn't going to be sending a child to Iraq.   She and I are alike in that respect.  Is childlessness now supposed to be a sign of inadequacy?  If not, I can't understand why all the fuss or  how in the world Boxer's comments are construed as some sort of female tactic to hurt or embarrass her.

I'm sure as hell not embarrassed to be childless.  To me, feminism means that Condi and I don't have to be hurt or embarrassed if someone mentions that we aren't breeders.  But somehow, some way, Tony Snow and various media fools and spinners have spun this into "anti-feminist" or "homophobic."  I mean, my God, what piffle.

And Luntz in speaking of this seemed to me not to distinguish between a statement which, though politically maladroit, has the ring of truth and between one which is "rhetoric" or over the top.  Which disappointed me and also amused me a bit, because apparently everyone in the media, not excluding the lovely progressives at Salon, actually believe that Americans are too stupid not to be able to separate a raw truth from some sort of slur.  Or---if you want to insist on the slur---on a raw truth embedded in an unpalatable (but then why? why? why is what Boxer said unpalatable?) characterization.

Rebecca Traister, bless her, did point out in a note at Salon Broadsheet called "Penalty Boxer" that the sainted Laura Bush made a similar statement about Rice without raising so much as an eyebrow:

All of the huffing and puffing from right-wing media about Boxer's observations that Rice doesn't have any immediate family in the military is pretty hilarious, considering that in December, First Lady Laura Bush told People magazine that Rice probably wouldn't run for president, in part because she is single and has no immediate family. "Dr. Rice, who I think would be a really good candidate [for president], is not interested. Probably because she is single, her parents are no longer living, she's an only child. You need a very supportive family and supportive friends to have this job."

[quote ends; links in original]

Anyway, for discussion of adroit and maladroit use of language to win a political advantage, and for why I'm certain no language would be sufficiently enough to sell "realignment" ("surge") in Iraq, JUMP TO VERSUS REVERSUS.

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20 January 2007

Versus/Reversus for 20 January 2007. Bush's Face.

StonyflowersrxlOkay, first of all, let's be honest:  George Bush is a good-looking middle-aged man.   Even I can see this if  pretend when I look at him that I don't know who he is or anything about him, though I say this with pain.

This note isn't about his looks, but about his apparently rather poor control of his face (which isn't that much better than his control of his diction).  He's taken a lot of crap for both.

I don't understand what the deal is with him.  How does someone who is basically really very good-looking for his age, with regular, well-balanced facial features manage with such regularity to make such inadequate use of them?

Some of it has to do with what I have to say seems to me---this is of course a matter of opinion--- to be poor control of his face in situations where he needs to be aware of it.  While he is talking on grave matters of urgent national interest, his face has a disconcerting tendency to be (or to seem, which in politics comes to the same thing) busy sending out supplementary messages on its own account.  It ends up getting him called callous, indifferent, smug, smirky, arrogant, and other things that may not--or may because obviously there's just know way to know--- be fairly reflective of his true state of mind in the particular context.

I don't necessary agree with the conclusions that Bob Cesca reaches in his note on certain recent Bush interviews about the meaning of Bush's expressions to Bush himself, but the note did contain some photographs that nicely illustrate why Cesca and others might draw certain conclusions about Bush's feelings and beliefs.  For example---though I am a Democrat with no incentive to cut him any breaks--- I actually don't believe that Bush is completely indifferent to the gravity of the Iraq crisis and I certainly don't believe that he wishes to come across that way  when he discusses it.

But if you look at the photographs that appear in the blog entry (link appears in the note), you can see how someone, even someone completely objective, could reach that conclusion. 


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19 January 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 19 January 2007. The Mean Girls Report.

Lunaticcornerxl_1When I say to people, "Violence never solves anything," what I mean is, "No---seriously---violence never solves anything."  It doesn't make things better or achieve justice or set the world to rights or restore the balance or make you whole because it can't.  It's violence.  All violence does is tear new and bloodier holes in the fabric of civilization.

Some people can't believe this, because if you are very angry about something, you can't help wanting to make the person who made you angry feel sorry for doing it.  Making other people sorry is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. 

At present, we have a whole culture that glorifies and enables violent entertainment (because, face it, it's exciting and doesn't get teenagers pregnant or give anyone AIDS) and because it's not real.  That is to say, adults understand that (1) It (mostly) isn't real; and (2) That if it WERE real, it would be unacceptable and disgusting and upsetting. 

I don't necessarily think that the children of these adults understand this.  I think they understand that what they see isn't real, but I think a healthy percentage probably don't realize that if it WERE, it would be the very thing that civilization opposes and that a sane society punishes.  I mean, how are they supposed to understand this if no one tells them?

So anyway, I've not been surprised at the reports during the last few years about the rise in physical violence among teenaged girls or particularly so when it turns out that girl fights are more violent and nasty than fights between boys.  After all, boys have traditions for "fighting fair."   It's just not macho to sink your pointy little teeth into another guy or to shoot him in the back.  Also, you aren't meant to hit below the belt.

At any rate, if you can stomach reading about this, jump to my note on this subject in THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES.  Because yes:  it matters more that violence among young girls is on the increase.  Of course it does.

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Versus/Reversus for 19 January 2007. "Global Warming" vs. "Climate Change." A Compendium of Recent Developments.

Gemflowerxl_1 Since November 16, I haven't posted a thing in Versus/Reversus because---I'll be honest---I was just too sick of politics and thinking about politics to feel at all inclined to say anything at all.  And of course, the election meant that the Dems were going to have the opportunity to shake the kaleidoscope into new patterns.  As they seemed to be getting off to a rocky start---thank you so much, Nancy Pelosi---I just didn't have the heart to try to work out what I thought about any of it at all. 

I'm glad they won. I think they should adopt as their new motto the precept that doctors are meant to hold in mind at all times, "First, Do No Harm." 

After a particularly time- and attention-consuming spate of work, I took a little time last night to page through, my favorite social-bookmarking site to see what I'd missed during the period when I was otherwise occupied.  Among much else, I found a number of notes relating generally to the subject of global warming.

As much for my own future reference as for others, I compiled a number of these into a single note at VERSUS/REVERSUS, if for no other reason than to be able to say in the future to those in my immediate circle whose heads are in the sand:  I TOLD YOU SO, BUT YOU WEREN'T PAYING ANY ATTENTION.  It will be cold comfort, of course, when I have to pick up my worldly goods (thankfully, I don't have many of them) and move north to escape the rising sea.  But at least I can tell myself that I was paying attention. 

TO SEE SELECTED ARTICLES (INCLUDING PHOTOGRAPHS), click here.  It's not exhilarating reading, but it is a useful log of at least some of the recent observations, anecdotes, and reports.

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14 January 2007

The Flatland Chronicles for 14 January 2007. Ann Lamott's Plan B & Oprah's Demonstration of True Charity.

Gemflowe2rxlAfter finally taking a friend's advice and reading Ann Lamott's Plan B:  Further Thoughts on Faith,  I thought at first I'd write about it immediately, because it was that good.  Then I thought I'd better think about it a bit more first.  So I'm thinking about it.

In the meantime, I had some meta-thoughts about books I've read over the years that have actually changed how I perceive reality (this being one of them).  I also reflected on how such changes come about.  I'll come back to Plan B and what, specifically, those changes were, but in the meantime, there's a partial reading list of novels (not nonfiction) that have had a major influence on how I view the world and some thoughts etc.  Anyway.

IN ADDITION, because I associate Ann Lamott with Oprah and also with Salon, a comment on Rebecca Traister's article in Salon about the recent flap over Oprah's school for girls in South Africa and what it means.  Traister think it means one thing---and she isn't wrong---but I think it means something else, perhaps in addition to that rather than alternatively to it. 

The lesson is an important one because it has to do with a piece of Christianity too many people seem to miss:  the requirement that a charitable act also be a graceful and generous one.  According to me, there's little charity in giving to the poor only what you think they ought to be grateful to get.   In this age when people who purport to practice christianity view the injunction to "love your neighbor as yourself" as just food for thought, like advice from Dr. Phil, it's gratifying to see someone do the work of love gracefully as well as graciously. Who cares if she can't tell the difference between "beauty" and "high quality consumer goods." 

Despite what you've heard, it isn't the thought that counts, but the feeling behind it.

To read more, jump now to The Flatland Chronicles for January 14.

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19 November 2006

The Flatland Chronicles for 19 November 2006. Preliminary Reflections on Real Time with Bill Maher, Episode 90: New Rule for Richard Dreyfuss.

Chainlm I'm behind in recapping Real Time and probably won't get to the pretty good Salman Rushdie episode (89) till the end of the week.  As to the finale, it could have been great, if Richard Dreyfuss had been, let us say, more attuned to the dynamics of an edgy, savvy panel discussion.  As it was, it sort of never came together. 

Hence my new rule for Richard Dreyfuss:  He must get a blog.  I would totally read that blog.  And then in panel discussions he must learn to play the role of a universally respected actor with something really important to say who is participating in an edgy, savvy panel discussion, rather than a stodgy old academic who thinks lecturing is the only form of discourse.  He must be succinct and---if possible---witty.  Above all, he must know when it's time to let Bill Maher speak.   


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15 November 2006

The Flatland Chronicles for 15 November 2006. A New Rule for Bill Maher.

Rainbow_squarelm A lot of my friends are pretty furious with Bill Maher over his "death of Steve Irwin Halloween" costume.  And as it is pretty much indefensible in the circumstances, I am not going to defend it.  I loved Steve Irwin and I revere Maher for his achievements, which made it hard for me to sort out my feelings about it.  But then of course, Bill Maher didn't let it drop; he made a "New Rule" about his Halloween costume that reminded me a bit of the sort of inability to take a step back and consider the other side that is such a feature of the very people he is most inclined to ridicule.  You know, neocons and things.  Not to mention the late unlamented Rumsfeld. 

Sure, he didn't actually cause a war, but he did let down those of his fans who believed him when he told us that Americans need to listen less to the inner child and more to the outer adult. 

But I think Bill Maher is incredibly valuable, so I don't like criticizing him.  He's had so much of it already.  I think he gets it that we're mad, but the New Rule suggests that he doesn't actually get it.  Some of my friends don't understand how I can continue to respect him in light of this.  It's quite easy, actually.  I don't have to like everything he does to admire his very real contribution to the political discussion during the wilderness years for centrists, moderate, and libertarians.

But anyway, okay, I was upset by the Steve Irwin thing too.  Now that the election is over, I'm prepared to address it once and move on.  To read my take on it, JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES HERE.

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10 November 2006

How hot---I mean "potentially presidential"---is Alec Baldwin? Sorry; I mean: Versus/Reversus for 10 November 2006. Real Time with Bill Maher. Episode 88.

Mysticalroselm It took me all week to get to it, but I finally did manage to publish my recap of last week's most excellent episode of Bill Maher just in time slightly in advance of this week's episode. 

Alec Baldwin was actually a pretty amazing guest.  It's interesting that so many actors (not all, but a lot of them) are so good at speaking without a script.  So unlike certain politicians.  The other members of the panel were journalist A.B. Stoddard and Georgia Republican Jack Kingston.  The interviews were with Robert Greenwald and Roseanne Barr (clearly there to promote her show, "Blond and Bitching.")

The episode is particularly interesting in light of, you know, subsequent events.  To continue reading, JUMP TO "VERSUS/REVERSUS" HERE:

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08 November 2006

Versus/Reversus for 8 November 2006. The President on the Day After.

Softtarget2lm_1 Watching the president's speech earlier today, I was struck by the difference in what he said during his speech and what he said to the reporters thereafter.  You can't help thinking he would have been okay with a completely different set of advisers.  Or at least I can't.  After all, people have always said that he was good as governor of Texas in working with both parties.  What jackass told him that working ONLY for his "base" and ignoring me was a good idea?

Nick doesn't feel sorry for him, but I thought he was visibly squirming in between his attempts to be ingratiating.  He was all over the place.  And yet---despite the offensive tone of some of his remarks during the speech---his own remarks didn't have at all the same tone.

Anyway, it was interesting.  I was struck anew by how much more tolerable I find him when he isn't being "presidential."  But what do I know?  If you believe the stories about him, the amicability is all on the surface and the people who know him best are shit-scared of him. 

I'm just glad the Dems are back in power, even Lieberman.  Oh yes, and Rumsfeld's gone.

For my further reflections, JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS.

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The Flatland Chronicles for 8 November 2005. Watching the Regime Change.

Brooch2lm As the President himself so rightly said, it was a good night for the Democrats and a good night to be a Democrat.  I certainly enjoyed (vindictively) the shell-shocked responses of certain Republicans I deeply dislike, one of whom is (quite recently) John McCain.  They had that stunned, forlorn look that I had in 2000 when KATHERINE HARRIS---handily defeated in Florida last night----gave the state to George W. Bush.  Even John McCain, a Republican I was prepared to respect until, after fighting for the Geneva Conventions, he handed yet MORE power over to the Executive Branch. It was sweet, sweet satisfaction to hear them trying to spin the outcome into something other than a reflection of public disgust with their regime. 

And there is such sweet, sweet irony in hearing TOM DELAY talk about how the Democrats didn't win, the Republicans lost---and why?  Among other reasons, they are sick of corruption (I forget how he put it). 

For my further reflections, JUMP TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES.

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05 November 2006

Versus/Reversus for 5 November 2006. "Neo Culpa" means "It's all Bush's Fault." The Vanity Fair Article.

Claylm So I took a look at the article in Vanity Fair where the neocons who, whether they like it or not---and they don't---are viewed by most of us as prime movers in the tragically misguided war for regime change in Iraq explain that Bush got it all wrong.  They thought he was the right man for the job turns out that he wasn't.  It's not that the IDEA was stupid, it's that the people who were supposed to make it happen were incompetent. 


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02 November 2006

Versus/Reversus for 2 November 2006. Michael J. Fox versus Rush Limbaugh.

Purplestoneleatherm But with grace and humility, naturally.  He's Michael J. Fox.

For a link to the Katie Couric interview with Michael J. Fox and more, JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS.

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Versus/Reversus for 2 November 2006. Real Time with Bill Maher (Episode 87: 10-28-06)

Gemstoneflowerlm   It was a pretty good episode:  Arianna Huffington (yay!) and Harold Ford were interviewed; and the panel consisted of  Andrew Sullivan, Harry Belafonte, and Christine Todd Whitman.  The discussion was interesting even though I didn't feel that the panel discussion ever really jelled; and the interviews were pretty great.  The actual footage of the "superbowl playboy" ad that the Republicans have been using to attack Ford was particularly telling.  Definitely worthwhile, and with some even more than usually on-target comments by Bill Maher in his closing commentary.


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01 November 2006

Versus/Reversus for 1 November 2006. The Dems learn that putting a face on a policy might be persuasive. In other news, Newton gets brained by an apple. Playing out the "wedge" issues.

Colorflowerlm Michael J. Fox has gone to bat for the Democrats on the embryonic stem cell research issue.  The Democrats discover that for the public to see the painful tremors and jerks and the many sad changes to this incredibly appealing former star of film and television actually has an impact on people's feelings.

Subsequently, Rush Limbaugh is a jerk about it, possibly persuading a few people who have the will to be persuaded but otherwise revealing the stoniness of heart and the indifference to actual present day ongoing human suffering that characterizes the policies pushed by pious Republicans. 

It's all grist for the mill and Michael J. Fox has officially joined my role of the Illustrious.  If the embryo-huggers want to prevent embryonic stem cell research out of the sickening sentimentality of persons of that order over anything related to babies, rub their faces in the consequences for the fully incubated human souls who are suffering for want of those cures.  I'm serious:  rub their faces in it.  Make them own it.  Make them stand up and say aloud that the slow hopeless destruction of a human being such as their hero, Ronald Reagan, is better than the destruction of a clump of human cells.

Also?  Parkinson's or no Parkinson's, Michael J. Fox is still incredibly appealing.  Nothing can change that.

For a link to an important article at, and for further discussion: 


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27 October 2006

A Marginal Christian's Handbook (formerly The Heretic's Handbook) and to Versus/Reversus for 27 October 2006. Note to Democrats: How to Bring the Christian Voters Back into the Fold.

Jewelglasslm_1 I read an article at Salon about a Democrat who is apparently appealing successfully to Christian voters.  And while I was reading it I thought to myself:  well, you know, why not?  Why should the party that (comparatively, anyway) is about compassion, inclusion, caring for the poor, reaching out even to the undeserving, and so forth, not be appealing to people who really value the message of the Gospels.

Of course, this assumes that most of the Christians the Republicans have sucked into their orbit really do care about the Christ of the Gospels and his actual message to the taxpayers of his day.   Most of them may be people who genuinely believe that Jesus said that the Lord helps those who helps themselves.  But it's worth a try, surely?  Worth a try to get them to understand that their values are closer to, say, mine than those of George W. Bush? 

Anyway, for what it's worth, I gave this issue my attention in two of my blogs. 


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26 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 26 October 2006. Real Time with Bill Maher: Episode 85.

Flowerringlm Definitely one of the best Real Time episodes of the season.  The panel consisted of Barney Frank---a pugilist Democrat, of which there are far, far too few---Jason Alexander, and The Wall Street Journal's Steven Moore.  The interviewees were David Kuo (the conspicuously disillusioned evangelical Christian) and New Mexico's Bill Richardson. 

Frank might have been just that little bit too prominent, but honestly, nobody on the planet could stop him when he is on a roll, and you had to love the way he steamrolled right over the week's Voice of the Opposition, Steven Moore.  Nothing against Mr. Moore, but I'm a Democrat, and my whole soul is crying out for more politicians from my side of the fence who can [1] follow an argument; [2] identify a factual distortion; and [3] bust out the statistics and the evidence on the other side.

So, I ate it up.  As would any Democrat.


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23 October 2006

The Marginal Christian's Handbook (The Heretic's Handbook) for 23 October 2006.


At the Huffington Post, there's a blog by Richard Dawkins of The Blind Watchmaker fame.  I loved that book and I like him, but I do wish he'd give up arguing that tbe truth of natural selection somehow disproves the existence of God.  It doesn't.  It only proves that God didn't literally create the earth in the exact manner described in Genesis (which only exceptionally uneducated fundamentalists now believe). 

I don't agree with him (obviously) but I don't have the time at the moment to take his argument apart the way it needs to be.  But it doesn't matter because none of the people he is apparently trying to persuade (if only by providing those who might hypothetically wish to persuade them with ammunition) are persuadable by appeals to reason.  Their beliefs might be flat-out wrong, but you won't get anywhere by trying to move them from the position "There is a personal God who created the world 6000 years ago" to "There is NO God."

It wouldn't be kind to do that if you could.  If the objective is to get them to understand that science has ruled out certain theories of how creation came about, then you first have to show them how to believe science AND retain their belief in God.  Other atheists may read Dawkins' blog and say, "Yes!  It's all so CLEAR!  How can anyone doubt this?" but he's not going to persuade anyone whose views are based on faith.

What he fails to understand is that MOST Americans have some form of religious faith.  It just isn't (usually) the crazy-ass sort that was able to hi-jack Congress after the GOP decided to pander to them specifically.  Some very intelligent people are believers.  The smartest ones take only the sayings of Christ literally and ignore everything else.

But thanks for trying, Richard Dawkins.  JUMP TO THE HERETIC'S HANDBOOK

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19 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 19 Octobre 2006. The GOP: Everything is (Still) Clinton's Fault

Radiantmandala2lm How long do they think they can keep making Clinton the whipping boy for every unfortunate development?  It's so absurd.

Fortunately for the GOP, a certain number of knee-jerk Republican voters are exactly as gullible as the Republican Party assumes.  And many of them have a Pavolovian tooth-grinding response to the sound of Clinton's name.

But they can only pull this excuse out of their bag of tricks so many times before even their constituents start to realize---if only unconsciously---that somewhere along the line, the Bush Administration has had the opportunity (if not the obligation) to address any misguided or failed policies. 

As always, Joe Conason nails it.  JUMP TO VERSUS/REVERSUS for further discussion and the link. 

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17 October 2006

Update to Versus/Reversus for 17 October 2006. Andrew Sullivan interviewed at Salon.


I found an excellent piece at Salon about Andrew Sullivan, the pundit whose pro-war stance so annoyed me in the past, but who---like other Republicans for whom I feel a respect---is capable of thinking outside the party line. 

For me, the proof that the wind is changing is that intelligent Republicans are removing themselves from the cheering section.  They are no longer chanting the same message. 

It doesn't matter to me that they and I still don't agree; I am just relieved that the terrifying unity of the right (which may never have been as much of a fact as it seemed) is beginning to break down.

Too much unity on either side of the political fence is really never a good thing, according to me.  I know progressives have decried the tensions and dissensions within the Democratic party; but that's what I like about it.  One reason I started swinging centerward again is that I was freaked out by hearing too much agreement on the left.  People who all agree with one another tend to believe that their beliefs are---or ought to be---self-evident and to feel okay about forcing other people to do things their way (because it's clearly the right way).  I've had enough of that. 

In the meantime, it's good to see people like Andrew Sullivan step away from what for a long time seemed to be a vast right-wing chorus.  The article at is well worth reading (and you can see it if you just look for a few seconds at an ad or---like me---join Salon Premium).  And you can see my thoughts about Sullivan and the article in Versus/Reversus.

JUMP TO  "Conscientious Punditry: Reflections on "Sullivan's Travels" at" in  VERSUS/REVERSUS.

In addition, I stopped to reflect on the whole Air America thing and why it is that conservatives rule Talk Radio.  To me, the reasons seem self evident.


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16 October 2006

Update to Versus/Reversus for 16 October 2006. Real Time with Bill Maher (Episode 85)


This week's Real Time with Bill Maher (episode 85) was honestly one of the best ever.  Senator John Danforth and Richard Branson were the interviews; the panel---a very rowdy one---consisted of Ben Affleck, Lou Dobbs, and Danielle Pletka.  And there was an excellent closing monologue.


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14 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 13-14 October 2006. The appalling Foley aftermath: The Gay Republican non-gay Witchhunt.


To be honest, I am feeling a bit fed up with politics at the moment.  I know that the Dems are giddily riding the wave of the Foley tide that they think might have turned things in their favor.  I guess I'm not as happy for them/us as I might have expected.

It's not the issue I'd want us to win on.  For us to win on that issue requires us to play on the homophobia of conservative Christians and of the American public generally. 

The Kolbe camping trip hysteria in particular is worrying me---not that I wouldn't think he deserved censure if he covered up for Foley, but because of the implication that every openly gay man in Congress secretly preys, or wishes to prey, on teenage boys.  I'm not excusing him for covering up the Foley thing (if he did), but even if he did, it certainly doesn't mean that he endorsed Foley's actions or that he's a predator himself.  GOD.  As in, "God help us all; this is getting totally out of hand." 

Should Democrats be concerned?  Do Democrats secretly believe that every gay man on earth is a secret predator?   And if not, why are we not rushing to defend the idea that gay people have as much right as anyone else to participate in the system?  Here's an out-of-context quote from Arianna Huffington's blog that I didn't much like even IN context:

[quote begins from Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post, Republicans are Whistling Past the Foley Graveyard]

But anything that makes voters feel -- rationally or not -- that things are going to hell in a hand basket (or in an IM message) intensifies the longing for change.

Mark Foley -- and the GOP's see no buggery, hear no buggery, speak no buggery handling of him -- is one more "sign of how sick the system is."

And, this time around, the only way you get change is to vote Democrat.

[quote ends (emphasis mine)]

Now I know she doesn't think the way the italicized text sounds, and that the subject is the irrational feelings that often influence the voters, but God....It's almost more than I can bear.  If you didn't love Arianna like I love Arianna, and if you read the rest of the article, you would still come out of it believing that a gay Congressman = a predatory Congressman. 

I take back what I said, by the way, about gay Republican staffers getting what they deserve now that the mud is flying.  I've been baffled and infuriated by them for a long time; but the Lord knows the Republican party doesn't need to get any more crazily homophobic than it already is, even if the end result inures to the benefit of Democrats.  I'm afraid that's what is going to happen and I'm not happy about it.  But please see this blog by Max Blumenthal at The Huffington Post, "Is a Gay Republican Purge Coming?

If it does happen, guys? Democrats.  At heart, we're on the side of treating all Americans with dignity and on assuming that adults, whatever their sexual preferences, will refrain from preying on teenagers. Though the tone and tenor of the Kilroy/Pryce campaign might fool you...

And I'm really alarmed at the "guilt by association" tone of a lot of what I'm reading.  There is the distinct odor of witches burning in the autumn air.  It scares me, even though I'm a heterosexual Christian woman. 

Though this---discovered the Huff Post---is choice (David Gregory on Bush on Leno.)


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12 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 12 October 2006. Sydney Blumenthal at Salon on Bob Woodward.


At Salon, I recommend the Sydney Blumenthal on Bob Woodward ("Whose State of Denial?").  It's consoling to those of us who are as hacked off with Bob Woodward as the Bush Administration and whose annoyance has been of much longer standing.  JUMP HERE TO VERSUS/REVERSUS FOR THE LINK AND FOR MY COMMENT.

Believe it or not, I have more praise for Arnold....  Inspired by another Salon article, this one by Chris Thompson ("Arnold's Comeback), I---speaking for centrists and aspiring centrists everywhere--- give him big props for getting itJUMP HERE TO VERSUS/REVERSUS FOR THE LINK AND FOR MY COMMENT

Has the Terminator become the Accommodator (in a good way)? 

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11 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 11 October 2006. Bad days for the President.


So anyway, it seems that these are dark days for President Bush.  His loose-lipped former aides sold him out to Bob Woodward; North Korea defied him; and the House Republicans let him down big-time with the Foley cover-up.  It's nice to know that for once, he and I have had exactly the same reactions to the same people. 


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The Flatland Chronicles for 11 October 2006. First the bad news, then the bad news; then some mitigating schadenfreude.


There is really more news than I can digest or comment on (in Versus/Reversus), but some of it definitely has seized my attention (pretty uncomfortably, at that).  Among the things that have disturbed and distracted me are: 

  1. the newest and even more horrifying study by a group from Johns Hopkins of civilian casualties in Iraq; 
  2. in addition to weapons testing in North Korea, John McCain blaming the Clinton Administration for weapons testing in North Korea;
  3. Bill O'Reilly stating that North Korea's weapons testing is timed to influence midterm elections because North Koreans hate Bush (when the average American teenager not currently in a civics class probably wouldn't understand the connection; and
  4. the Katherine Harris campaign assuming on the basis of a straw poll in LAKELAND that she will defeat Bill Nelson.

FOR  the full and acidic burn, jump to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES/REALITY BITES here.

But the good news is that the world marches on; human progress continues in other fields of endeavor; and billionaires still continue to consider a woman's attractiveness (or lack thereof) the one aspect of her being that truly defines her.  In other news, Katie Couric interviews the erring Mel Gibson about certain remarks we all know all about; and Chris Wallace proves he is Chris Wallace.

For proof that the world says "Whatever" and continues in its course, jump to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES/QUIDDITIES AND ODDITIES here.

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09 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 9 October 2006. Born to be a Democrat.


I am really trying very hard these days to get back to the middle of the political spectrum.  I want to get back to the place where I can be a Democrat and still hear what the other side is saying.  I want to be able to listen to the other side, but learning to do that again is a process.  I've had years---going all the way back to Reagan---of not liking much of what they were saying, and since the Clinton impeachment, I've been more and more inclined to stick my fingers in my ears and sing loudly whenever I encountered any of them.

I still can't be alone in a room with Fox News, and I don't see that changing.  But I really want to be able to listen to what the Republicans are saying.   I mean, what if they turn out to be right (and not just, you know, Right) about some issue of vast importance?  Bill Maher was so right when he said the two parties need to start listening to each other. 

But I'm doing it in slow stages.  It's not something I can do overnight; the habit is too firmly entrenched.   First, I have to start looking more critically at people on my side of the fence.  In the drive for solidarity and unity with other fed up or angry Americans, it's too easy to fall into the habit of endorsing every stance of people whose views are close to mine.  So I'm working first on trying to articulate the ways in which my views differ from those of some people on my own team.

And I have found that I can take my fingers out of my ears if I get the other side's position filtered through my team's view of them, if that makes any sense.  In other words:  I start with The Huffington Post,, Think Progress, and other very liberal sites and try to work around to the more conservative view.  Bill Maher is a tremendous help with this, since he always provides a token conservative and sometimes some very powerful and likable ones, such as P.J. O'ROURKE (whom I have adored since the days when I too was a Republican).  I even managed to feel well-disposed toward Pat Buchanan during Maher interview, mainly by focusing on how like Gene Hackman he sounded.  So a little of what he was saying about immigration got through my force field and so at some future point I'll try to give it head room. 

So, you know, I am trying.  I'm nowhere near ready to talk politics with friends or share my views with people I have to work with, but I'm getting a bit less truculent every day.  And I no longer identify myself with the many angry Democrats.  No, I've realized after a lot of hard thinking that I'm much more hurt and disillusioned than angry.

All together now:  Can't we all just get along? 


No matter what, I can't see ever being anything but a Democrat, no matter how close to the center I eventually draw. Which is why I was inspired to write this in Versus/Reversus, even though it is very late/or extremely early:  Notes from an aspiring centrist:  Why I am still--and will always be--- a Democrat.  A liberal must always at heart be liberal. 

Blogs along these lines are, I imagine, part of the process of coming to terms with where I've been (an angry place I didn't like), where I am now, and where I'm trying to go. 

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08 October 2006

Versus/Reversus for 8 October 2006. Real Time, Scientists and Engineers Unite, and Much Else.



The most recent Real Time had (in addition to my hero Bill Maher) Chris Matthews AND Richard Clarke AND John Kerry AND Lincoln Chafee.  Yes, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (who---for a Republican who won't get off the talking points--- I quite like).  Unfortunately, it also had Robin Williams.

It could have been so great.  As it was it was just really pretty good.  As a would-be centrist coming from the progressive end of the party, I was really pleased to hear from a Republican I truly respect. 

Scientists have organized to push for a presidency that properly values science.

The press continues to dwell on Foley---who seems to have unleashed the whirlwind for a fact---and, more to the purpose, various Republicans who knew about his smarmy and rather wistfully pathetic flirtations. 

Gay Republicans are feeling the blowback.  Let 'em.  I have no sympathy for people who enable those who reject them.  10.14.06.   Okay, but it's getting out of hand.  I hate what's happening, now that it's happening.  But gay people have no business in today's GOP.

Arianna Huffington pointed out that Bob Woodward's book, though well-timed (thanks, Bob!), isn't exactly news to progressives. 

Katherine Harris attacks fellow Christian Bill Nelson for not being Christian enough.  In contrast to this feebly transparent and cynical attempt to court the most ignorant practitioners of the religion of Christ for political, the Amish demonstrate hardcore Christianity---the sort that requires you to mourn the death of the fallen sinner who wrecked your life.

Finally, Jeb Bush flees protesters at a Santorum rally; and ends up hiding in a closet.  Hee.

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02 October 2006

The Flatland Chronicles for 2 October 2006. The Latest School Shootings.

PEACHANDBLACK2LMS  SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE LATEST---THE LATEST---SCHOOL SHOOTINGS.  The facts are really too horrible to process, but then---in different ways---all of them have been.  I didn't say a great deal because there really isn't a great deal to say.  I think it's instructive and perhaps even essential to compare American attitudes toward guns to British ones.  Clearly, something needs to be done.  But I am not holding my breath.

For more, jump to The Flatland Chronicles.


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29 September 2006

Versus/Reversus for 29 September 2006. A Multiplicity of Things.

wrappedblueandgold1LMS  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

Brief commentary on a multiplicity of issues---it's so hard to stay caught up with things when I never have time to blog properly during the week. 

  • A blurb about Bill O'Reilly's demo of typical neocon debating tactics.
  • The Washington Times: a commemt on Max Blumenthal's article in The Nation and George Archibald's blog at The HuffPost.
  • George Soros writes about the "war on terror" as a false metaphor; not exactly unique, but better than most.
  • Rumsfeld's surprise at "the strength of the insurgency" in Iraq and his comment that no one anticipated it (though even I did).
  • C.C. Goldwater on how the G.O.P. has changed.

Did I ever mention that I cast my first vote ever for Gerald Ford?  It's true.  And I still don't like Jimmy Carter, however good a person he may be.  He made a crap president and was the impetus for the Moral Majority which morphed at some point Christian Right.  That was back in the days when the Republican Party was still the party that believed in individual rights of privacy, of course, before Ronald Reagan decided to get in bed with the Moral Majority (okay, there ought to be a joke in there somewhere, but I'm not up to finding it) and show them where they really belonged.

I didn't like Barry Goldwater, even though I was well under 10 years old.  I didn't like him because we had African-American nannies, and they didn't like him.  What they didn't like, I didn't because when I was very young, I was closer to these amazing women who were paid very little to spend all day looking after me than I was to my parents (or anyone else, including God). 

So my first political argument ever with my parents was over Barry Goldwater when I was in elementary school, and I've been arguing ever since, even though I signed on temporarily with the GOP when I first started voting because I didn't like Jimmy Carter.  I still don't much, though of course I honor his humanitarian and diplomatic undertakings.      

But now Barry G. is looking pretty good.

Anyway, this round up demonstrates why I am no longer a Republican and doubt I could ever vote Republican again, unless of course Goldwater comes back from the dead to lead us back to the source.


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24 September 2006

Versus/Reversus for 24 September 2006. The National Intelligence Estimates.


So first I read the article in The New York Times about the National Intelligence Estimates, which didn't surprise me, but which made unpleasant reading anyway.  Having your worst fears confirmed by credible evidence isn't quite the same as just having the fears with no confirmatory evidence, is it?

Anyway, I don't have much to say about it---as my latin-loving lawyer friend says, "Res ipsa loquitur!"---but I wanted to record the information in Versus/Reversus for future reference and for future mulling over.  (After all, this IS an almanack.)  So I posted this.

Anyway, it somehow set me thinking about the whole Iraq debate and how when I listened to Sandy Rios discussing it the other night during Real Time with Bill Maher I had the same feeling I always have:  that people who are "pro" and the people who are "con" are talking about completely different things. They sound as if they are talking to each other and they may even appear (occasionally) to hear what the other one says, but it doesn't matter, because they are talking about COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

So then I wrote this as well, discussing why they don't listen and what they are talking about when they talk about the war that's different from what the other side is talking about.  And hey, I think I've cracked it, Bill!

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23 September 2006

Versus/Reversus from 23 September 2006. The Republicans Who Stood Up Stand Down. Sigh. Other things as well.

wheelgreengold123  IMAGE HOSTING BY FLICKR.

Since I'm not able to blog much during the week anymore, there's always way too much catching up to do on the weekends. 


So...the magnificently principled stand by a trio of Republican Senators ends in....this.  For someone who is desperate to see someone take a nonpartisan position for the long-term good of the country----with due reference to its international reputation----this is a letdown to say the least.  As for the Democrats?  The bloggers at The HuffPost are busy ripping the party a new one for sitting the whole thing out and assenting to the outcome.  If I correctly understand the meaning of the accord,  I have to say it's not what I was hoping for.

But on the plus side, here's a comment on Bill Clinton's interview with Fox News, where he rips them a new one.  Bonus link to the full transcript, published at "Think Progressive."  Being a centrist, not a true progressive, I still love BC, so I was happy....

Finally, I hate to have to call out my own dear husband, but I couldn't let his "Reality Check" blog stand without comment.  I disagree with him about racial profiling, even when airport secuity inconveniences his beloved J.K. Rowling.


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17 September 2006

Versus/Reversus for 16-17 September 2006. Party Politics and Other Absurdities.

necklaceflowerstarI thought a lot this weekend about the detrimental effect of party politics on decency, civilization, and television docudramas; and it all set me thinking about the ways in which the two parties are preventing the system from running the way it's meant to do.  In the course of my musing, I dipped again into The Federalist Papers(Wow, the things you can find free online these days).

  • In "Checks not Accepted/PARTY GAMES" In this extensively linked note, I bemoan the willingness of Congress to act as enablers to the executive branch rather than to fulfill their role in checking unwarranted expansions of executive power and bad policies.  Though I don't hold the briefest brief for most Congressional Republicans, the Democrats must be blamed for making the world a bit more partisan and for failing to stand on principled at certain critical points.  Party games are inimical to democratic government.  Not exactly a huge revelation, I know.  But it's been bothering me and I wanted to get it off my chest.
  • In "More Security than We can Afford," I muse a bit on Chertoff's remarks to a Senate committee: If we devote more resources to security, are we just playing into the terorrists' hands? and other such questions.  Unnerving.
  • In Real Time with Bill Maher for September 16, 2006, I talk about...guess what?  It was a pretty good episode with a lot going on it (almost too much, in fact).  Sometimes an embarrassment of riches is just embarrassing.  The panel didn't talk as much as I'd have liked about the things that interested me most, and there was a fascinating interview with Pat Buchanan about an issue that wasn't especially earth-shaking.

It's a lot of blogging, but I'll more than make up for it by not having any time at all this week to write anything else.  Or at least that's the way it's looking now.   


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15 September 2006

Versus/Reversus for 15 September 2006. Republicans, Due Process, and the American Way.


REPUBLICANS, DUE PROCESS, & THE AMERICAN WAY. McCain, Powell, Warner, and Graham.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I disagree with all of you on fundamental points, but I know courage when I see it and this Democrat longs to return to the day when bipartisan efforts kept the country firmly on the middle path. 

Furthermore, it's reassuring and hopeful to see members of Congress performing one of the legislature's function:  acting as a check on the chief executive who attempts to overreach (as all of them sooner or later do, though in varying degrees).  I've said it before:  it's the role of Congress to step in on behalf of the people.  As one of those people, even though a Democrat, I am very grateful.

I'm glad to see Colin Powell taking a stand as well.  Let's hope they prevail.  Here, in Versus/Reversus


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10 September 2006

Versus/Reversus for 10 September 2006. The Book of Bill Maher?

goldwebs I may move my "Reality Bites" category to Versus/Reversus; otherwise, Versus/Reversus stands an excellent chance of becoming "The Book of Bill Maher."  Actually, Friday's Real Time episode was delightful, especially the panel. (P.J.!  My most beloved enemy!)  Oh yes, and the closing monologue was trenchant

In fairness to myself, I did follow it up with a most sincere essay on my feelings about "the war on terrorism,"  war generally, and what we ought to be doing instead of actual literal war.  It's nothing that other people haven't said, especially Bill Maher. 

The link is here.

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02 September 2006

The Flatland Chronicles, Floridiana Gloridana, and the Digital Artwork Gallery for September 2 2006. Divers Matters.

Redandgold_1 So, today. 

FIRST, UPDATES TO THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES, MY NEW JOURNAL/DAILY BLOG.  I woke up thinking about Bill Maher's Friday night Real Time episode, with which I was less than captivated.  As much as I love Bill M., I do get fed up with him banging on about religion, a subject which for some reason he apparently doesn't think it's necessary for him to educate himself about before holding forth. 

As for the panel, Penn Jillette was incredibly irritating; Berry was all right; Issa was ingratiating ["smarmy", said one of my friends] and struck me as a Republican capable of more than just the automatic kneejerk responses I'm accustomed to from beleaguered Right wingers, Harry Anderson was funny but weird, and I couldn't follow the reasoning of the apologist for the War in Iraq, though I certainly tried. 

Anyway, my first update to THE FLATLAND CHRONICLES consist of my initial reflections on Real Time.  I may live to retract all or some of them subsequently; who knows?  I was offended, frankly, by yet ANOTHER gratuitous throwing-baby-jesus-out-with-the-bathwater slam at "ignorant" Christians, but whatever.  I may be many things, but ignorant I certainly am not. 

  Here it is.

IN FLORIDIANA GLORIANA.  I forgot to post an update from some time back, so I'm including it here.  Having posted a few suitably charming photos from the Space Coast, I felt free to return to my true love, the Nature Coast and specifically to my place of places, Cedar Key.  I've avoided it till now because I love it so much I'm afraid I won't do it justice. 


A few new entries:

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01 September 2006

The Flatland Chronicles and The Digital Artwork Gallery for 30 August 2006 through 1 September 2006. Gordon Ramsay. Other Matters as Well.

Beautifulrainbowmetalrosel_2 I decided today to make this page an index/table of contents for all my other blogs and to relocate the actual content I was posting here to "The Flatland Chronicles", located here.  The main reason I decided to make the switch is that I am having problems with this particular blog; it isn't updating properly, even when I ping Technorati individually, and I have no idea what to do about it.  Anyway, the new addition to my weblog family is HERE.

I've done a fair amount of posting in the past couple of days, as follows: 


  • CHRONICLES FOR 29 AUGUST 2006On August 29, I was in a ruminative frame of mind.  I started talking about my work and how the fact that I'm passionate about it makes me feel good about getting back into it full time; and somehow from there segued into another discussion of Gordon Ramsay and the episode of Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares we happened to be watching.  That somehow brought me to Deadwood----<SNIFF>---and how pointlessly annoyed I am with HBO for not giving us a couple more full seasons.  It's sort of a long and winding road but eventually I arrived where I was going.
  • QUIDDITIES & ODDITIES [30 AUGUST 2006]:   Believe it or not, there is a connection:  free books, Bartleby the Scrivener, the Encantadas, dinosaurs, hobbits, and the late, great Mr. Edward Gorey.  BONUS:  For fans of the macabre, I included two of Edward Gorey's remarkable limericks!  (Not recommended for the squeamish).
  • CHRONICLES FOR 1 SEPTEMBER 2006:  THE GROCERY BAG SANDALS---PART 2.  I've been meaning for days to get around to writing about the charming note I received from the maker of the original grocery bag sandals.  They got me thinking.  Then they got me making things.
  • THE BLOGCOMBER FOR 2 SEPTEMBER 2006.  REAL LIVE PREACHER---THE NATURE OF EVIL.  In my new cateogry, I respond to two fascinating essays by the author of my favorite Christian blog, "Real Live Preacher."


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