Friday, August 11, 2006

Quick Reactions 

It's amazing what blogging can do to a person. There I was, sitting in the dentist's chair, trying very hard not to leave permanent impressions of my fingers in the armrest while having my teeth tarred and feathered, and all I could think about was what to blog next. In truth, it wasn't that bad -- just a regular cleaning and gum stabbing which I would say I bore with remarkable courage despite not being allowed to take anything from the toy chest because I'm "too old."

Unfortunately, after the dental visit was over, I walked out with a free box of dental floss and a bunch of ideas. You might think a bunch of ideas is better than no ideas, but the problem is I don't really have time to blog four different things these days. But at least I had the floss.

Why is it that the ideas only come in even numbers? All too often I feel like I have zero ideas for days on end, and then suddenly, boom, I get two of the little suckers -- which of course means I have to agonize over which one is the one to write, and which one will get the kiss of death: consignment to the post motel, my Drafts folder (posts check in but they don't check out).

So as I walked home from the dentist's office, the free floss already forgotten in some pocket, I struggled to decide what to write. Multiple ideas but time for only one post -- what to do? So I decided to have my cake and eat it too. I'm gong to try out a new post style: giving a few quick thoughts on a number of different topics -- all in the same post! Brilliant isn't it. Could be the wave of the future.

Lieberman's Loss (story)

I haven't been writing much about the ongoing re-imagining of democratic electoral politics. It's all about what they call "Netroots" -- something to do with these newfangled "blog" things, whatever they are. But I've sort of avoided the topic because I don't particularly enjoy describing car wrecks. The Netroots seem to be the left-most slice of the Democratic party, together with their laptops and blackberries, that has been practicing losing elections for the last few years in an attempt to reshape the Democratic Party in their image. When I say "practicing losing elections," I don't mean to imply they were trying to lose them, they really were trying to learn how to win -- it just turned out that all the practice took the form of losing, 18, 19 times in a row, something like that. But finally all the hard work paid off and this new wing of the Democratic Party won an election: they sent an incumbent Democratic Senator home in a Democratic primary. Bully for them.

If the Netroots goal in life is to learn to win democratic primaries, then this has to be considered a watershed moment for them. But if their goal is to eventually put a candidate in office rather than the lead car's seat of honor in the "moral victory" parade, then they've got some problems. No segment of the body politic can win the electoral game, if I may call it a game, without fostering alliances with other groups. The effect of their big victory is to prove that they will punish any democrat who sullies the purity of Netroot philosophy by working with the hated enemy. Come the general election, it looks like the firewall they've built between their candidate and the average moderate voter is going to doom their candidate from the get-go. Now that they've won the primary by running a campaign to alienate anyone to the right of Michael Moore, the best strategy they have left for the general election -- in which Lieberman figures to enter as an Independent and add most of the Republican votes to the 45% or so of democratic votes he already had -- is to start researching potential flaws in Connecticut voting procedures right away.

All I see here is confirmation that the Netroots expect nothing nothing but a pure and perfect political future for themselves, comfortable little bubble of their own illusions in which they can live without having to interact with any of life's messier truths. And if you're ever watched bubbles long enough, you'll know they eventually pop.

Latest massive terrorist plot againt airlines is foiled

Or so George Bush and his partners in conspiracy would have you believe. Sure, the investigation has been going on for months, and the plot itself was set in motion almost a year ago, but that doesn't fool the Netroots faithful, who see right through Bush's transparent efforts at camoflauging his latest setback. It's totally obvious that Bush only forced Blair to make a big deal about this now, only yesterday, Connecticut primary day, to steal the wind out of the sails of the Netroots momentous victory over Lieberman. Bush and Company are clearly on the run, and arresting terrorists is the surest sign of their craven attempts to cling to power, no matter the cost.

You know what they say, "things have to get bad before they can get worse." It's only once they get worse that people can finally start blaming Bush and seeing new conspiracies in every passing cloud and wondering why they didn't do anything about it when it was only bad. And when they say you have to hit rock bottom before you can change, they forget that some people would rather be buried under rock bottom than admit George Bush might have done something right, or offer their support in this fight.

The still impending cease-fire deal about to be passed in the UN

I'm torn on this one. My reasoning faculties tell me that Hizballah must be defeated now, before both the necessity and price of doing so later skyrockets in the near future, say when their rocket and missile attacks are backed by threat of Iranian nukes -- presuming Iran even bothers to threaten instead of just launching right away. And yet more fighting now will cost the lives of more Israeli soldiers, more Israeli civilians, and more Lebanese civilians too. It will destroy more infrastructure on both sides of the border, and make it that much harder for these two countries -- who really should be regional allies -- to ever find rapproachment.

Those costs, in my sad opinion, would be worth it if they were used to purchase an actual solution to the Hizballah problem now, in these soon-to-be good-old-days (when things were easier). But I don't sense from Israel's political leadership any idea of what that victory would entail. I shudder when I open the front page of Israeli news sites and see a wartime headline starting with the words "Olmert wavers..." or "Olmert undecided..." Regular citizens can waver. It is the job of Prime Ministers (like Winston Churchill) to steady the people, to keep them from going wobbly and focus them all on the goal. Olmert does not appear even to know exactly what the goal is.

I have no intention of trying to bring Olmert down in time of war, or weakening the unity this country needs; in fact, I would love nothing more than for him to find his leadership, even now. I remember George Bush took a day or two before he really started inspiring people in the wake of 9/11 (does anyone still remember those days, before we went back to partisan politics as usual?)

So lacking a vision and commitment to achieving a victory that would justify the price, perhaps for now a cease fire is the right thing. But I shudder to think how much more terrible the eventual conclusion to this conflict will become as this festering ceasefire allows Hizballah time to acquire more lethal arms, and to wait for Iran's looming nuclear umbrella.

More and More evidence coming out demonstrating Hizballah's use of big media as its propaganda arm.

I work with computers, and it is almost a requirement in my field to decorate one's office or cubicle with Dilbert cartoons. For some reason, I can't shake the feeling that every cubicle in the world's great media empires, from Reuters to AP to the BBC, doesn't display Dilbert but a copy of Fox Mulder's famous I Want to Believe poster.

How else to explain their reaction, as forgery after deception after shading of the truth after staging of photographs is revealed? Each announcement leads ot an announcement, and a pulling of the specific problem identified. But there has not yet been a systematic recognition that the media's body has been taken over by the propaganda pod people, and has almost been completely metastized.

For the latest stunning revelations of how Reuters and other "respected" media organizations are being used as megaphones for terrorist talking points, check out Meryl Yourish's fantastic post.

Ok, Shabbat's almost here. Time to find that floss. I really hope it hasn't been reduced to a melted lump of string and plastic in my pants pockets at the bottom of the dryer.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: