kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Well, I got back from Texas, having met all of my goals: barbecue (at both Sonny Bryant's in Dallas and Angelo's in Fort Worth) and comida mexicana (Joe T. Garcia's), catching up on family things, and letting my children see Texas. They had all sorts of Texas experiences, from Blue Bell Ice Cream to riding horses to watching football to going to church (to the extent that the last two can be distinguished). Good time, in spite of 2000+ miles of driving.

Most of the news I heard about was, naturally, about the former Representative from Florida, Mr. Foley. The Democrats seem to be playing this--for Democrats--pretty cagily. Namely, by staying out of it, reminding people on occasion that traditional family values usually don't include a congressional page and a Representative engaging in mutual masturbation while chatting over the Internet, and making sure that folks in the middle (not the Republican base, and not the "left") hear both the various explanations/excuses for Foley's behavior, and the timelime of just when and what the Congressional leadership knew about it (the old "what did you know and when did you know it" canonical question of Howard Baker).

My favorite spin is that of Rush Limbaugh, first posed by Matt Drudge, that this was the result of a Democratic dirty trick/October surprise. That the ABC reporter who broke this identified his sources as Republicans, and that the pages were able to keep this under wraps for three years, waiting until the perfect time to spring it on an unsuspecting public, credits Democrats with a remarkable skill at coordination and strategy that has been sorely lacking in virtually all other areas of their political work. Perhaps they were so busy coordinating this attack that they couldn't figure out how to return Paul Hackett's phone calls, in order for him to pick up Jean Schmidt's very vulnerable Congressional seat in Ohio?

Foley has blamed his behavior on a) being abused, when young, by a priest b) being gay and c) being an alcoholic. As has been noted elsewhere, this annoys a1) those abused by priests b1) gays and c1) alcoholics. Maybe all these things are true; it is interesting that the line being taken views a pathology generated by a sexual predator is taken as equivalent with one's sexual orientation. There are some controversial issues here, no doubt, but I guess I would be annoyed were one to tell me that my sexual orientation was one of a series of objectionable moral characteristics. "Ol' so-and-so: he was not only a sexual predator himself, but a drunk, a liar, kicked dogs, and was a heterosexual."

For W., this is sort of good news and bad news. The good news is that it has relegated the interest in the NIE that indicates that Iraq is making the US less secure and is generating, not preventing, terrorism, to the obscure parts of the media that deal with, say, content and significance. It has also muted the effect of Woodward's new book indicating--as if it needed confirmation--that the Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld troika (the "axis of omnipotence") has not been well-served by ignoring such trivialities as evidence and information from people actually in Iraq. It isn't really that they ignore those in the military (or those who were); it is just that such information is sorted a priori into "accurate information" (the material that confirms the troika's preconceived notions) and "treason" (the material that conflicts with those notions). This makes filing this information easier, to be sure, but it also seems to be generating news reports and official statements that sound, sometimes almost word-for-word, like the news reports and official statements coming out of the Johnson and Nixon White Houses, relative to "progess," "staying the course," "cutting and running," etc., in Viet Nam. Some enterprising blogger with more time and energy than I have will no doubt run such a list of parallel statements, if it hasn't already been done.

The bad news, of course, is that Bush's apparent single remaining strategy--to paint the opposition with wanting to abandon Iraq, to "cut and run," and thus to be inadequate to fight the Global War on Terror--is falling, if not on deaf ears, on the ears of those who are going to vote Republican even if Osama bin Laden was found naked in the Lincoln Bedroom underneath Condaleeza Rice. (The Democrats, of course, have a proud tradition of such "yellow dog" partisans.) It is also difficult for Bush to tout his economic success (if one measures such a thing by a surging Dow Jones average, with considerably less attention being paid to education costs, health care costs, retirement costs, and other minor factors in most people's economic lives). If the Republicans can't get people sufficiently scared to identify them as a solution to a genuine threat, they are in trouble.

My guess is that not much of content, argument, or civil discourse should be expected in the next month; we will see just how nasty each party can get, how they choose to play the various factors leading up to the election, and then, when it's over (as do many, I expect the Democrats to take the House, and narrow the margin in the Senate), and the dust clears, we will have to see where we are and what, if anything, has changed. If this scenario pans out, we are in for a couple of very ugly years, but, perhaps, a couple of years where neither party can do much damage (although neither will be able to do much good, which is problematic when one considers North Korea, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Sudan).


Blogger TRIANGIRL said...

After living in Southern Arkansas for three years, I can't imagine why you'd be interested in going to Texas, although the Blue Bell ice-cream and barbecue almost tempt me to head for southern comfort. My experience in the south was in a dry town of 12,000 residence and 42 churches. Catholics were not considered Christian, snake handling was a Biblical commandment and your entire social life was regimented by your church family to the exclusion of all others. In some cases, sixteen year olds with no education, but with a "calling" ministered to a bracnh of Baptism that, apparently, descended directly from Saint John the Baptist, with no roots in the reformation.

The worst thing about Texas, for me, is that Bush has claimed it as his homeland (foresaking his native Connecticut), and as such, has made it a much less appealing place to visit than it was when the southern democrat tradition held strong and proud.

I'm worried that this Foley scandal will blow over, and that over-confident democrats, sensing blood, will end up looking like opportunistic hounds hunting down weak prey. Republicans can, of course, get away with this kind of behavior (Look at the success of Monicagate), but democrats are too uncomfortable to point fingers and act holier-than-thou. The Republican spin machine has already kicked into hard drive, as you mentioned, claiming that the news was leaked as an October surprise. Perhaps I'm a conspiracy theorist, but I'm waiting for the other show to drop. What are they going to dig up to blacken a democrat's name? Who is going to be accused of complicity? What, in short, do they have up their sleeve?

7:31 PM  
Blogger Bazarov said...

It seems to me the time couldn't be more ripe for a third party to come in and take advantage of the present political system. Does anyone ever see this country getting rid of the two party system in our lifetimes without some sort of revolt or bloodshed?

2:05 PM  
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Headed for the World Series!

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