Monthly Archives: October 2004

John Kerry For President

I guess it makes sense that Halloween is followed so closely by Election Day. Maybe I should wear a mask when I vote, that way I wont be so ashamed of myself.
Lewis Black, on The Daily Show, a few days before the 2000 vote.

In this election the longest, most competive, and most bitterly fought of my lifetime, my thoughts have been generally consistent, with one exception on which Ive flip-flopped: I used to be a political junkie. Now, Im sick to death of the election and everything associated with it, and cant wait for it to be over.
Is this the most uninspiring choice for president of all time? Kerry and Bush are unimpressive enough on their own that that appears to be the case, but then again maybe it just seems that way because both sides are constantly spewing so much hatred at the other- especially now that both sides have their own networks of blogs, radio stations, and news channel in order to foment the latest fresh outrage. By the 2008 election, well likely have reached the point where no one ever again has to ever hear an opinion with which they disagree.
Either way, this is the first election in American history in which the bases of both sides legitimately believe that if the other guy wins, the Republic will cease to exist by the end of his term.
I have my issues with both Bush and Kerry, to be sure, but I dont believe the worst about either man. I dont believe that George W. Bush is stupid, or evil, or that he lied us into war with Iraq in order to enrich his oil buddies. Likewise, I dont believe that John Kerry is a flip-flopper any more than any other politician, nor is he the most liberal Senator in the nation- and how can he be both? And I dont see how the petty personal insults leveled at either man have any bearing on his fitness for office- I long ago came to terms with Bushs often-mangled syntax, while at the same time Kerry looks French may very well be the most tiresome, meaningless insult in the history of politics.
But beyond all that, the election is about issues. And based on those, Ill be casting my vote on Tuesday for John Kerry. What follows is an explanation of why; do not construe it as an attempt to try to change anyones mind.
As longtime readers of this blog know, Im a lifelong Democrat who identified very strongly as liberal in my younger years, but never quite made the jump into full-fledged leftism, and in fact became more and more disillusioned with it as the years went on. I voted for Clinton in 96 and Gore in 2000, but gradually became more and more comfortable with certain parts of conservative doctrine, especially in the areas of economics and foreign policy.
Then of course came September 11, which affected my worldview even more, as it did everyone elses. I enthusiastically embraced President Bushs war on terrorism, especially the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban, and My Pet Goat notwithstanding, I greatly admired his decisions not to mention, his speeches- in the months following that tragedy. And my newfound agreement with the president continued with the war against Saddam Hussein, which I supported and continue to support to this day.
When I began this blog in May of 2002, I sought to articulate how my previous politics collided with the events of the time. I was of course quick to embrace the Christopher Hitchens/Paul Berman position that support for a global war against jihadist fanatics was in fact the most liberal position imaginable. I also attempted to quantify this position as the following:

I myself fall into a group, along with many of my friends, of young Jews who remain generally liberal on most social issues, and loyal to the Democrats, yet quite hawkish in regards to the terrorist threat, unwavering in support of Israel, and very much opposed to the reflexive anti-Americanism and other lunacies of the far left. We’re people who grew up surrounded by “progressive” leftism but never quite bought into it, yet don’t feel comfortable joining up with the Republicans either.

I gave this group a name- the Kosher Scoop Jacksons- and named several bloggers, including myself, LilB, Mike Silverman, and John Paul Pagano, as a Jewish auxiliary to Andrew Sullivans similar group, that he dubbed the eagles. Many readers and commenters, at the time, compared us to the original neoconservatives of the 60s, and predicted that like Irving Kristol and Co., we’d all jump into the Republican tent soon enough.
I look now, nearly two years later: Im voting for Kerry. So is LilB, so is Mike, and so is John Paul, who says I am voting for Red Sox adulation, Arafat’s demise and John Kerry. Sullivan is backing Kerry, as are fellow eagles Jeff Jarvis, Daniel Drezner, and much of the Oxblog gang. So are countless non-blogging friends of mine who share my politics, including numerous readers of this blog (you know who you are).
Have these people all gone soft? All abandoned the War on Terror altogether? No, of course not- the truth is, we no longer trust Bush on it. We wanted badly for Iraq to go well, and it hasnt. The forcefulness and statesmanship that Bush brought to the early War on Terror is no longer there- and his refusal to admit any mistakes whatsoever is worrisome, to say the least.
And on top of that, his penchant for pandering to his socially conservative base with radical proposals with no chance of passage- most egregiously, the Federal Marriage Amendment- have reminded all of us why we were always uncomfortable with Republicans in the first place. I find it hard to square such theocratic impulses with the sort of liberal democracy we’re attempting, rightly, to establish abroad.
Did Bush lie about weapons of mass destruction? I dont believe he did. But should he be held responsible for initiating a war based on evidence that turned out to be wrong? Of course he should- hes the president, the buck stops with him. And while he didnt order it directly, Bush also presided over the catastrophe that was the Iraq prison abuse scandal and must be held accountable for that as well- despite over-arching conservative spin that the REAL outrage of Abu Ghraib was that the New York Times put it on the front page too many times.
No, John Kerry isnt perfect- Id have preferred Dick Gephardt, Joseph Biden, or even John Edwards as the Democratic nominee. He does indeed have a history of taking the wrong side in foreign policy debates, especially during the Reagan Administration. But then, George W. Bush had a history of opposing nation-building. But that was before 9/11, an event that affected the foreign-policy thinking of just about every American. Kerry vows that he will take the fight to the terrorists, and I have no reason to believe he will not. Indeed, many ex-liberals have endorsed Bush say their problem is that they cant trust Kerry on defense- but I say, the problem is that I cant trust Bush.
A few other reasons why I support Kerry:
– Unlike the downright unlikable Al Gore and the lascivious Bill Clinton, John Kerry is by most trusted accounts a man of outstanding moral character- who, despite everything you may have heard from certain 527s, is a legitimate war hero.
He may not know anything about sports, and his wife may be a lunatic, but that doesn’t mean Kerry can’t be an excellent president.
– Im not one of those a vote for Bush is a vote for back-alley abortions people, but Id greatly prefer four years of Kerry judicial appointees to Bush appointees.
– Karl Rove is attempting to not only re-elect Bush, but to build a Republican supermajority in Congress. With the House remaining Republican for the foreseeable future and the Senate most likely staying that way too; a Democratic presidential term would strike a blow against one-party rule in America. And yes, I have sympathy for the argument that executive/legislative gridlock would work to restrain excessive spending.
– I would very much like for the attorney general to no longer be John Ashcroft.
And theres one last thing. I call it The Michael Moore argument. As you may have noticed, since Bush assumed the presidency a sizable anti-Bush movement has emerged on the left, and as you also may have noticed, I dont like these people very much. Their arguments are shrill, condescending, and hateful, and have a lot more to do with their hatred of Bush personally than any particular policy he has supported or advocated.
Their unofficial leader is Michael Moore, and conservative bloggers have had lots of fun this year acting as though Kerry and Moore are one and the same- even though Moore has never endorsed Kerry, the two men to the best of my knowledge have never met, and its virtually certain that should Kerry be elected, hell be turned on on a dime by the Michael Moore Community, once the first 100 days pass and the new president has neither withdrawn from Iraq, re-instituted the Great Society, or raised the minimum wage to $15/hour.
As blogger Michael Totten (an Eagle who has said hes voting for Bush) pointed out in a piece he wrote called The Hawkish Case For Kerry, one advantage to a Kerry victory is that it would leave the anti-war/anti-Bush left essentially marginalized, once they no longer have a Bush to kick around anymore. And yes, these people are supporters of Kerry- but that doesnt mean Kerry supports them, and doesnt mean that a vote for Kerry is a vote for Michael Moore. Im sure the majority of Klan members are planning to vote for Bush, but that doesnt mean Dubya supports, or is tainted by, the Klan.
Its impossible to get elected president of the United States without some crazies in your base. But the difference is, Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky would not have the ear of the president in a Kerry Administration. Pat Robertson and James Dobson DO have ear of President Bush.
Yes, I want Kerry to win. But even more than that, I’d like to see a fair, non-controversial election, one in which both sides accept the result and thus won’t spend the next four years sulking about calling the other guy illegitimate. We’ll always have partisanship, but more than anything else, I want to us advance towards a day when every single human event is no longer filtered primarily through the lens of extreme partisan warfare.
Unlike most Kerry voters, I won’t be absolutely crushed if George W. Bush wins on Tuesday -though it would hurt me quite a bit if he won Minnesota. What I want to see more than anything else is a return to civility in politics- something I feel would best be achieved by a clean election, and a Kerry victory. In that order.

World Champion Boston Red Sox: Day 2

This is indeed a great day in baseball history. Simmons weighs in, as does Gammons. In the Globe, heres Dan Shaughnessy; since the Curse has been his life for the past couple of decades, I expect him to now immediately retire from journalism.
Blogs are at it too, including the Dirt Dogs, RSN, and lifelong fans Sheila and Joe. As for the Win It For thread, its still going strong. Check out page 51, featuring the first posts after the Series ended.
On a lighter note, check out UltimateBalls, a baseball parody site brought to you by the guys who have spent the last couple of years imitating Gammons, Varitek, and Epstein on Friendster. And proving that Sox fans will be Sox fans, then theres this classic New York Post lede:

October 28, 2004 — A Staten Island couple’s dream of a perfect wedding at a Massachusetts inn turned into a nightmare when a Red Sox-loving busboy got drunk, chanted, “Yankees suck!” and threatened to beat up the groom and guests, according to police in Salem, Mass.

And finally, here’s that great Nike commercial with the old guys going to Fenway, throughout the 20th century.
At any rate, this is a wonderful moment in baseball history, and Ill be up there for the parade on Saturday.

The Curse Has Been Broken

Words I never thought I’d write: The Boston Red Sox are World Champions.
The Sox swept the Cardinals- the team with the best record in baseball- never trailing at any point in the series. Congratulations to all of my friends and readers who are Red Sox fans, and others who have been waiting for this moment for their entire lives. For some more stories of that kind, check out the soon-to-be-legendary “Win It For” thread on Sons of Sam Horn. And of course, Bill Simmons tomorrow.
On a personal note, this year continues my streak of seeing the final out of the World Series every year since 1985. But ’91 was the only year that I saw it in person.
UPDATE: Yes, Fox’s coverage of the postseason pretty much sucked from start to finish. But their closing credits of the Series contained a masterstroke: it closed with the still photo, from the “Cheers” opening credits, of the guy behind the bar holding up a newspaper reading “WE WIN.”
As a young fan I used to always love the closing montage of World Series highlights every year, and this was a nice reminder.

No Remotes in Boston Bars

I don’t like it. With the Red Sox, as of this writing, 15 outs away from winning the World Series, I want to see Boston right now, celebrating something they’ve been waiting for for 86 years. Yes, I understand wanting to crack down on drunken behavior after the events of last week, but that girl didn’t get shot because of cameras in the bars. And I know they’re showing Sox fans in New York and LA, but it’s not the same.
Also, in honor of tonight’s lunar eclipse, they’re playing “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” After “Old School,” I don’t know how anyone can take that song seriously again- “I fuckin’ need you more than ever!”

Fair Isaac

As an Office junkie, I greatly enjoyed The Office Special last week- great to see the characters again, and it was much better than getting knobrot from some tart. I also caught Shaun of the Dead the other night- call it The Office With Zombies- and liked it a lot too.
Anyway, on the Office special the greatest character on the show, Finchy, told a story about being introduced to a co-worker named Isaac Hunt (say it in a British accent, and youll get the joke). Assuming this must be an old joke, I checked around the internet, only to find this:

President Bush Signs Recess Appointment of Isaac Hunt
President George W. Bush today signed the recess appointment of Isaac C. Hunt, Jr. to be a Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And speaking of Isaacs, LilB was in Boston for Games 1 and 2, where he went to the Cask and Flagon, met Conan O’Brien, and came up with empirical evidence that a blinking Red Sox hat can get you laid. It never worked that way with the beer hats.