Saturday, February 15, 2003

"My dislike of the French is independent of any facts about the world."

That quote, D2 Digest's summary of one of den Beste's ridiculously verbose posts, pretty much sums up the opinion of Max the Freshman.

When I first saw these pictures, and the clever captions he provides, I got suddenly and inexplicably angry. I very nearly wrote an obscenely long post which could not be called a "fisking" so much as an "utter full-blog fucking." I even read his archives (a task which was made easier by the fact that he's only been blogging since November) in order to carefully deconstruct and hold up to popular ridicule everything he has ever said.

Much to my surprise, my better nature took hold while I was reading some of his back entries. As it turns out, he is not evil. Nor is he stupid. My friend Max is actually quite the news junkie, a not-uncommon trait for a blogger. And as he's pulling down higher than a 3.5 at Georgetown, he's actually rather intelligent, a trait that is somewhat uncommon among a lot of bloggers.

His problem, then, is a lack of sense, empathy, and basic knowledge of history.

So, to remedy the problem, instead of the terrible horrible things I was originally going to say, I will offer an extremely condensed history lesson -- about things he should have had the sense to find out himself -- in the hope that he will develop a little empathy for his fellow human beings, the French.

-The French surrendered so quickly after the German Western Offensive not because they were abject cowards, but because they had been so thoroughly outfoxed. They had been, with the Maginot Line and not much of an air force to speak of, "fighting the last war," a concept that I would think Max, who is (presumably, as a member of the ROTC) taking various courses in military history, would be familiar with. The Weirmacht completely bypassed all their defenses, and made an all-out dash to the coast, and to Paris. Blitzkreig --massive tank advances with heavy air support -- carried the day. Completely lacking in air support, and with the majority of their heavy forces stationed back on the German border, virtually useless, the French Army was slaughtered. The fact that the French military hierarchy did not grasp the importance of using tanks in mass-attacks, much to the frustration of Charles DeGaulle, only made matters worse. In fact, an idea of what might have happened if the French army had been organized in accordance with the ideas DeGaulle set forth in his 1934 book "The Army of the Future" can be gleaned from DeGaulle's successful rout of the German forces at Caumont. Unfortunately, that one victory was not enough. The majority of France was occupied, and, with DeGaulle out of the country to consult with the British, the Vichy regime came to power under Petain, and negotiated the armistice. Keep in mind: the government that led France when DeGaulle left the country was not the government that negotiated with Germany. Also keep in mind that the primary leaders of that government were sentenced to death after the war -- by the French -- for treason (the 89 year-old Petain's sentence was commuted to life in prison).

So, while it's fair to say that the French military hierarchy was outsmarted, the "surrender-monkey” theme is completely inappropriate. But then, I guess it takes a lot more thought to yell "Followers of an obsolete military doctrine!" than "Pussies!"

- The French Resistance, while perhaps not as effective as some in France make it out to be, was nonetheless composed of some extremely brave men. I would ask anyone living in the middle of the (ridiculously geographically secure) North American landmass if they would be brave enough to fight to delay, with few weapons and no supplies, the 2nd SS Panzer Division were it rolling through, I don't know, say Culver, Indiana? And what if you knew that a nearby town, possibly the one your family lives in, would have its inhabitants rounded up and executed in retribution? Well kids, this is exactly what the French Maquis did when the Allies were storming the Normandy beaches. As anyone who has at least watched Saving Private Ryan knows, the first days after the invasion were absolutely critical, and one of the most elite armored divisions in the Nazi army showing up at the wrong place could have tossed the Allies back into the sea. This was not token resistance.

Furthermore, there were innumerable members of the Resistance, some known, others forever nameless, who lost their lives throughout the war to the Gestapo and the Vichy secret police, often being tortured for the names of their associates. And yet, they continued on; some writing underground newspapers, some carrying out assassinations and sabotage, but all working against the occupying German forces. These were not cowards, and any man who labels them as such demeans not them, but himself.

- American military casualties (dead, not wounded) throughout the war are estimated at roughly 500,000. The French lost 340,000 men in uniform. Right there, it is obvious that the French did not simply turn tail and run. But the more startling statistic is the number of civilian casualties. US civilian casualties were, roughly, 0, because the civilian population was on the other side of the Atlantic. French civilians did not have it so easy; they shared a border with Germany. 470,000 French civilians died in the war. Is there anyone out there low enough to accuse them all of cowardice?

- And in more recent history, it was French troops who, in 1997, rescued 1,500 foreign nationals from the street fighting in the Republic of Congo. And just last September, French soldiers rescued 200 American students and school staff who had been trapped between warring factions in the Ivory Coast when it dissolved into bloody chaos.

The point is that dismissing the French as cowards is itself a cowardly method of argument. Beyond that, passing out white flags at the French Embassy is childish in that it ignores actual history in favor of an easy-to-remember theme: The French are wimps.

Overall, Max is not a bad guy; he’s a bit self-righteous, but, really, my calling someone else self-righteous means it’s definitely pot-kettle-black time. And for my Leftie friends, he’s not necessarily a sheep, either. Hell, he agrees that Fox News is essentially worthless. Point out five other arch-conservatives that will admit that.

In the end, the thing that enraged me so much initially -- besides the morally-bankrupt painting of an entire people as cowards when so many of them clearly are not (this applies to his mouthing off about liberal "hippies" too) -- was the fact that, when all is said and done, the French are our allies, and having images of Americans mocking French cowardice outside the Embassy appear in French newspapers can only make matters worse when they so desperately need to be made better. I f you disagree with the French, fine. If you don't like what they're doing, fine. Go tell them. But for God's sake, don't just spit in their faces and assume that they will then see the light. I understand that Max, being an adamant Right winger with all kinds of rage at us nation-destroying liberals, doesn’t get it, but Glenn Reynolds, who enabled this bit of Frog-baiting by linking to these pictures, should know better.

Here endeth the lesson.

Edit: One sentence broken into three sentences due to overly-complex structure. And the links work now.

Friday, February 14, 2003

Everyone Likes Super Blogs!

Holy hell, it's no wonder Atrios loves this guyso much.

At first, I was jealous that I hadn't created his site, but then I realized that, if I had, I wouldn't have the pleasure of reading it.

Goddamn Commucraps.
Eric Alterman Endorses Genocide!

I hate Andrew Sullivan.

Not for the reasons most people hate him. Not, for instance, because he refuses to engage anyone in actual debate. Not because of his weird jihads against organizations that fired his worthless ass and people who point out that George Bush tells lies. Not because he seems to think that he is morally and intellectually superior to everyone on the Left wing. Not even because of the disturbingly sycophantic orgasm he had while watching one of the most inept, stumbling and blatantly dishonest State of the Union addresses in American history.

No, I hate Andrew Sullivan because he makes me a conformist. How? Because he keeps writing such utterly dishonest bullshit that everyone with a soul, a brain, and a pen has started writing anti-Sullivan screeds, desperately trying to exorcise the unclean feeling they get when they read him. It's gotten to the point where writing refutations of Sullivan's writing is about as original as watching TRL.

Everybody's doing it.

And yet...

And yet...

It simply must be done. I've tried showering. It doesn't work. I feel dirty.

So, let's just have a little fun with Andy, shall we? Because I don't feel like talking about this for very long.

The gist of the column is that, well, Eric Alterman is stupid and mean. He is stupid because he is repelled by Ann Coulter and has no compunctions about saying so in public (Good Lord! That means I'm retarded!), and mean because he wishes Rush Limbaugh would go away (Good Lord! That means I'm Satan!).

The fun starts, of course, when he accuses Alterman of advocating genocide.

Sharp turn! Lost me there.

Alterman, in an interview, said, "I hate to say it, but I wish the guy [Rush Limbaugh] would have gone deaf. I shouldn't say that, but on behalf of the country, it would be better without Limbaugh and his 20 million listeners."

Anyone who has actually heard Limbaugh speak for more than 10 minutes knows that causing Limbaugh to go deaf (or dumb..preferrably dumb) should be, priority wise, somewhere between balancing the budget and defending the country against terrorist attacks. Yes, it's that important. But I'm willing to admit that the point is debatable.

What is not debatable is the fact that, from the context, it is blindingly obvious that Alterman is not saying we should get rid of Limbaugh's 20 million listeners (although I, for the record, am). Rather, he means it would be a lot better if those 20 million people did not have Rush to listen to.

This distinction, of course, is beyond Sullivan. He bitches on for a little while about how terrible and horrible Alterman is, and how he is personally responsible for the state of American political discourse. He gets all self-righteous about how bad it would be if someone advocated the slaughter of 10 million homosexuals, or 10 million African-Americans (Note to Andy: take a close look at some of your pals on the Right. You know, the religious fundamentalists and the white supremicists?).

His coup de grace, then, is this brilliant rhetorical quesiton:

"Do you think [a conservative] would still have a place in respectable discourse after [suggesting various liberal groups should be killed in large numbers]?"

Through wit and cleverness, he implies that the answer is no. I, surprisingly enough, disagree. The answer, of course, is (say it with me):

Ann Coulter.

A tired whipping post for us Liberals, yes, but then, so is Sullivan.

The one bright point in this haze of dip-shitism is that this means that people on the Right are scared of our pal Eric. If you'll look carefully, the Right only really starts to throw a fit about what a bad person someone is when they start making the Right look bad, which What Liberal Media? certainly does.

But that's the only good thing, and not nearly enough to cheer me up. I'm done with this. I grow tired of this game, and this man. No more Sullivan for at least two weeks.

Edit: After all that, I realized that I forgot to mention what article I'm talking about. It's his always fair and unbiased Idiocy of the Week in Salon. Sorry. The intern responsible for the oversight has been shot.


Are you reading Orcinus every day yet?


Why the hell not? What's wrong with you?

Late To The Party

Dammit, CalPundit beat me to it (although, really, lots of people beat him to it, right after the SotU).

I'll just add this bit about Bush's smirking references to people who "would no longer bother us."

Does he not get it?

Does he not understand that he is talking about ending people's lives?

I absolutely believe that we should be actively hunting and killing Al Qaeda members. It is our right, after being attacked, and our duty, to prevent more attacks.


When the most powerful man in the world laughs about casually killing people, no matter who those people are, there is something seriously wrong. It brings to mind the infamous quote he gave to Tucker Carlson during the 2000 campaign, where he made fun of Carla Faye Tucker. "Please don't kill me," he intoned, mocking the woman he put to death as Governor of Texas.

State-sanctioned execution is the most serious thing an executive presides over, whether it be deciding the fate of a person on death row, or ordering a Predator drone to fire a missile at a car containing a terrorist operative, and if Bush thinks it is alright to make light of the situation -- as he obviously does, since he said it in the most official forum there is, the State of the Union Address -- then he is ethically unqualified to hold the office of the Presidency.

But we already knew that.
Tailoring an Argument

CalPundit was kind enough to respond to my dissent from his opinion on genetic tailoring (actually, more like a disagreement about the odds of various possibilities coming to pass), and poked a few rather large holes in my argument. The frustrating thing about it is the fact that I agree with almost everything he said in his response...which means that I didn't present my ideas as well as possible the first time. Well hell, that's what this blogging thing is all about, right? So let's go about admitting errors and plugging holes, shall we?

CalPundit: What you say at the beginning about genetics being an equalizer (over time) is true, but it's a lot less true than it used to be. In the past century, for the first time in history, the biggest component of success has become intelligence, and this is a strongly (about 50%) heritable trait. And since smart people tend to marry smart people ("associative mating"), we're already in a situation where successful and unsuccessful families are becoming more and more entrenched.

This is true. And no, I'm not against smart people marrying each other. I'm not against anyone marrying each other (except for siblings. The entire VeryVeryHappy staff disapproves of that with vigor). However, genetic tailoring presents the possibility of making that entrenchment even more pronounced, and permanent, because it is exactly those smart, successful people who will be able to have their children Tailored, while everyone else is left farther and farther behind. Not inevitably, but very possibly.

CalPundit: There is no gene for genius, but there probably *are* genes for various components of intelligence. If we find a way to increase these components, it doesn't guarantee another Einstein, but it certainly raises the odds a lot.

As soon as I read this one, I slapped myself in the head. I'd really kind of like to go back and remove the entire "Einstein paragraph" from that post- it's not relevent to the overall idea, and it led me to make a logical error which made me look foolish. I don't like looking foolish, but I hear it builds character, so the post remains unedited. Besides, I run an honest operation here. No archive-editing chicanery on this site (except to correct spelling and typos).

CalPundit: Genetic tailoring probably doesn't alter traits forever. More likely, it acts just like a normal genetic difference. This means that your kids might inherit it and they might not.

We don't know the answer to this one way or another yet, but it's a strong possibility. My point still stands, however- the first group of Tailored kids will reach maturity at almost exactly the same time, as everyone who can afford it will rush out to get the procedure the second it is made publicly available. As these kids will generally be each other's peer group ( a wealthy community will have nearly 100% modified offspring, and even a lot of middle class communities- Tailoring their kid will be a lot of families' most important investment), most will likely end up mating with fellow 'modifieds' (they will belong to the same socioeconomic class, be extremely gifted, and as I've said, attractive. Powerful incentives not to stray from the fold). This will, of course, lead to a reinforcement of the original engineering, and as time goes on, and the differences become more distinct, modifieds will be less and less prone to breed with 'unmodifieds.' Which again leads us to the two branches of humanity scenario.

CalPundit: I think we're all going to be surprised by what traits turn out to have a partially genetic component. I'm willing to bet that will, charisma, and compassion will all turn out to have some genetic component.

This is where we disagree. While There may be a little genetic predisposition when it comes to will, charisma, compassion, and other personality traits, by and large, I am firmly convinced that it is environmental factors during childhood development that are the real key.

CalPundit: Once the price of genetic tailoring comes down, wouldn't everyone benefit? I mean, just for selfish reasons, if it's cheap to do this wouldn't it be to everyone's advantage to make sure that everyone's babies turned out to be good citizens?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes. I cannot agree with this more.
The point that I'm trying to make, though, is that, when genetic tailoring does come around, it needs to be made available as widely as possible as quickly as possible to avoid the good branch/bad branch nightmare. If it became realistically available to everyone within, say, 5-10 years of its debut, then there wouldn't be time for it to grant a significant advantage for the wealthy relative to the poor and middle class.. My problem is that I don't see how such a thing could be possible. Let's go with the model of personal computers, one of the quickest-advancing consumer technologies out there. Before the early eighties, only the really wealthy and the uber-geek owned a PC. Now, they're cheap and they're everywhere. But even now, with the technology advancing so fast that price has a half-life of 9 months (which is probably an impossible price target for genetic technology), there is still a huge chunk of the population that does not own a PC. Now, with computers, that's morally acceptable. When you're talking about people having superior babies vs. regular babies, that's when you get into extremely scary territory. You run the risk of developing a truly inferior minority group which, unlike any modern or historical minority group, really cannot say it is as physically or mentally capable as the majority. And that's just if the technology advances rapidly. What if Tailoring remains expensive for a generation, or indefinitely? Then you get the opposite problem, the one I described in the original post, of an elite group of superior humans with a permanent advantage.

CalPundit: I can't help but think that engineering positive qualities will genuinely improve both humans and the overall human condition. Overall, if we have a chance to improve ourselves, it seems foolish not to try it.

I agree. I am actually a huge proponent of genetic research and its practical applications. And I very much hope that genetic tailoring can be implemented fairly and equally; I am too old for it to be an issue with my children, whenever I get around to having them, but I am holding out serious hope for my grandchildren. I just think that when you get around to tinkering with our genetic code, if such a fundamental change is not undertaken with the utmost of care, consideration, and realistic planning, it could potentially lead to a disaster that the human race might not recover from; or if it does, it might do so in a form none of us want to seriously contemplate.

Thank you to Kevin Drum, for keeping me on my toes, and my apologies for accidentally mischaracterizing (through awkward sentence structure) his original post as being somewhat against the speedy development of genetic technology.

Edit: After a quick perusal of this post, I realized that it gives the impression of being an active, back and forth interview with Kevin. This was not my intention. Everything credited to CalPundit in this post was included in a single, itemized response he sent me. I broke it up into chunks to avoid confusion. Apologies to anyone who misunderstood (if anyone did).

Update: Ampersand of Alas, A Blog fame makes some very good points, following up on this discussion. Something that stopped me dead in my tracks: Genetic engineering will very likely decrease the number of Shakespeares in the world, because, with the removal of mental illness, everyone will essentially think the same way. No more of our "mad geniuses." That's a damn good point. How many of the great geniuses of the past were mentally ill in some way? Now what if they had been normal? Would they still have accomplished what they accomplished? Something to consider...
And another thing...

What kind of a pompous ass uses the word "socioeconomic" four times in one post?

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery Dept.

And now, because I am not above acknowledging that I get a little wordy when I hash out an idea, I will now do to my last post what D2 Digest has so effectively done to Steven den Beste:

Genetic tailoring, when it arrives, has the potential to lock people into the current class structure, making it supremely difficult to advance oneself past one's current socioeconomic position.

That's about right.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Genetic Disagreement with People I Normally Like

The always invaluable Kevin Drum has posted a dissent from the opinion of Caroline S. Wagner on the issue of genetic tailoring. While he acknowledges the potential for abuse, he is, overall, in favor of the practice, even though it is at least a decade or so away yet.

Now, where he has to preface his comments with the disclaimer that he is "in favor of moving deliberately and carefully on this kind of thing," I need to preface mine with the disclaimer that I am in favor of moving forward -- speedily -- with genetic research, for both pure knowledge and practical use. However, I have to disagree with his essential dismissal of the potential for this procedure to permanently widen the gap between rich and poor.

The crux of his argument is "if the next Einstein or Shakespeare is born to wealthy parents, that's OK with me - we'll all benefit." I do not disagree with this. The problem, though, is that genetic engineering is not necessarily going to give us the next Einstein or Shakespeare. What it is going to give us is people who are smarter, healthier, and better looking. There is no "genius gene." While certain parts of Einstein's brain were indeed physically different from that found in the general run of humanity, there is no proof that it was this abnormality that we have to thank for General Relativity. While there is the distinct possibility that the composition of his brain allowed him to more easily comprehend higher mathematics, there is so far no evidence that the intuition that allowed Einstein to originally make the leap from A to B to E=mc2, or Newton from a falling apple to gravity, or Shakespeare from technical knowledge of English structure and a large vocabulary to Hamlet, has a basis in genetics. The general concensus when it comes to geniuses like them is that, while the genetic dice were loaded in their favor, it was a combination of their innate talents, their environment, and a building on what had come before that allowed them to make their "leaps."

But even this ignores the larger implication: that genetic tailoring will lead to an objectively superior race, and the members of that race will come from the ranks of those families that are wealthy at the time of its introduction.

Before I continue, I must state the major premise of my argument: Superior strength, intelligence, and appearance, on average, advance one on the socioeconomic ladder, while inferior strength, intelligence, and appearance generally do the opposite.

Genetics is one of the Great Equalizers. Since the beginning, a wealthy family has had the same chance of producing an ugly, physically weak fool as everyone else. In every generation, some of the poor will rise up and make themselves wealthy, and some of the rich will lose their fortune and become poor- not necessarily in equal proportions, but enough to level the playing field so that a transition either way is possible. As time goes on, the probability that a specific family will remain wealthy through the next generation decreases. In the Western world, are there more than a handful of old (mostly royal) European families that have remained consistently wealthy for the last four hundred years (this is an honest question, as I do not know...although I strongly suspect the answer is no)? The point is, the genetic factors which cause a family to move up or down on the socioeconomic ladder do not persist past the next generation- the only thing that keeps them and their descendents at a higher level is wealth, and that is only a few mutations or a dose of bad luck away from disappearing. The net result is that the human race has never been split into superior and inferior branches, at least not for a historically significant amount of time. A wealthy family will arise (usually due to the superior strength, intelligence, or looks of one or two members), remain essentially seperate from those lower on the ladder for a time, and eventually, through chance or poor genetics, the fortunes of the family (or families) will decline, and their genes will rejoin the greater mass of homo sapiens.

In effect, the blue-blood conceit that those with money are genetically superior is most likely true to some (small) degree, but that superiority only applies (if at all) to whoever initially made the fortune. Their heirs roll the dice like everyone else.

Genetic tailoring changes all this, because when you engineer your kids for one trait or another, you alter their descendents forever. Because the procedure, for at least the first few decades of availability, will be available to only the wealthy and upper middle class, the human race will split into two branches: the superior and the inferior, and membership in the group will be determined by the socioeconomic divides in place when the procedure becomes available. Those from the "good" branch, already financially advantaged and now physically superior, will have a vastly higher chance of, if not moving up the ladder, at least staying in the same place. In contrast, those from the "bad" branch will be subject to the same ebb and flow of genetic fortune as before. Consequently, an increasingly large proportion of people from the "good" branch will advance in status, while the "bad" branch will decline, especially as the bar is raised by the increasing numbers of the "good" branch. Transition from one to another will become more and more diffficult, if not actually impossible.

The end result is the creation of very real superhumans, which makes everyone else, by default, subhumans, a possibility which any rational person would rightly view with utter horror.

The problem is only exacerbated by the fact that of the three qualities Drum hails as the desired result of genetic modification -- intelligence, compassion, and problem solving -- the one that is absolutely necessary to prevent such a dystopia, compassion, is the one that cannot be granted to children through genetic modification.

Is this the only possibility? No, of course not. But it is a possibility, and therefore should be considered very carefully, by very intelligent and compassionate people, for a very long time.

Edit: After re-reading this post, I see that I have omitted two qualities that are key to advancement on the class ladder - will and charisma (does anyone else feel like I'm discussing a role-playing game?). I submit that will and charisma are mostly related to environmental factors (nurture, not nature) , and cannot be engineered into a child, except through the elimination of factors which might lead to decreased will and charisma, such as a predisposition towards depression or other mental illness. Therefore, while willpower and charisma are one of the things that would allow members of the bad branch to make the jump to the good, the good (engineered) branch will even here have an advantage, as the reduction of those limiting factors will, on average, increase their will and charisma.

Also, I need to emphasize the fact that I am not saying that anyone who does not make themselves wealthy is genetically inferior...making the leap from one class to another requires a combination of nature, nurture, socioeconomic standing, and a good sprinkling of luck. This means that even if you are genetically superior, you aren't necessarily going to make the leap. When you take the whole species on average, though, those with good genes have a better chance.

Update: Drum has been kind enough to respond to this post, and I have modified my argument accordingly.
Patting Our Mascot on the Head

Ten minutes into Mike Savage's show tonight, and my faith in him is already justified.

To all "liberal writers," Mike lovingly croons, "Have a heart attack and die, for all I care. I'm number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Number one. Number one. Numer one. Number one."

How can you not love him? It's just adorable the way he swoons over this bit of praise from the publication he regularly terms the "Old York Times" and denounces as a bastion of "liberal treason". It's almost as if he has daddy issues -- with the Gray Lady acting as a paternal surrogate -- similar to the cute mommy issues he has with Madeleine Albright that so endeared him to the staff here at VeryVeryHappy.

This man is a gem, and I, for one, cannot wait for his entrance onto the nationally televised stage.

Now if only we could get him to stop urinating on the carpet...

There's Only One Kind of Bush I Like, and the President Is Not It

Life is hard.

Of late, it has been getting more and more difficult to truly feel superior and pissed off at the same time. It's like being a tweaker who lives in a meth lab. Surrounded by your drug of choice, it takes more and more to get you anywhere near that special place.

I mean, there are so many ignorant people saying so many stupid things, you just kind of get used to feeling superior. The high is gone. And since so many of them hold elected or appointed office, the same goes for being pissed off.

So it was with joy and gratitude that I stumbled over Sullivan's self-righteous mocking of anti-war protestors.

I can't feel my face, man.

First off, I am, at best (or at worst, depending on your viewpoint) ambivalent towards the prospect of going to war. But really, my opinion on the situation should not be relevant when discussing the anti-war movement. And neither should Sullivan's. The difference between us, of course, is that I realize this, while he remains blissfully unaware.

You have to envy Sullivan his moral clarity (read: rejection of intellectual effort). War Folk Good, Anti-War Folk very very bad. It must be nice to be able to completely avoid engaging the opposition's ideas by simply declaring them all idiots (unlike Mr. Sullivan, we here at VeryVeryHappy are fully aware of the possible hypocrisy of our condemnation of Sullivan for painting the other side as idiots en masse. However, we feel our condemnation is Righteous, because we emphatically do not accuse all war proponents of idiocy [all warbloggers, perhaps, but not all proponents]). He really gets quite snotty, including his fallback to the Eternal Cry of Conservatism: The young are stupid and not nearly as smart and clever as we were when we were young ( "It's as if an entire generation or more has forgotten what an argument is"). Unfortunately for him, the list of anti-war protest slogans he displays to make fun of those against the war actually does the opposite.

Go look at the list. It's fairly wide ranging, with an obviously broad spectrum of views represented - everything from the eco-warriors to the feminists to the veterans to the geeks to the civil-liberties crowd. This is not a crowd of Bolsheviks. Are some of them lame? Yes. Childish? A few. Mean-spirited? Perhaps, but I approve of that kind of thing from time to time. But, throughout almost every single one, there runs one common thread (besides the obvious anti-war message): these people do not trust the President. And no matter how much the Right may mock these people, as the crowds grow larger, the message will only become stronger: George W. Bush is not trusted by the American people.

And that's a message I'll shout from the rooftops, regardless of how I feel about war.

Sidenote: The title of this post is my own personal contribution to the anti-war slogan bank (and is now, officially, the Second Motto of this site), and as such, I hope to see it on a sign somewhere. So get the word out, huh?

Final Thoughts for the Evening

The impact of today's filibuster is hard to predict, but the key will, of course, be how much media exposure it gets. With so many other Big Stories (N. Korea's new missile, Iraq's illegal missile [which is not really news], the Bin Laden tape, shuttle findings), it will almost certainly be drowned out, left to rot somewhere in the middle of the front section of most of the major papers.

The Democrats must do everything in their power to raise the profile of this thing, because the tactics adopted by the Republican members of the Senate tonight will almost certainly backfire. Sure, the True Believer Republicans will agree that the Democrats are indeed racist for trying to block Estrada, but most reasonable people -- most importantly, Hispanics themselves -- will see this as a cynical attempt to use Estrada's ethnicity to push their own agenda. No matter how loudly the GOP protests, they simply have no credibility when it comes to racial issues, and it was a serious error to try to take on the Democrats on their own turf (although it does give a good indication of just how weak the GOP perceives the Democrats to be).

Will the mainstream media cover this fairly? Who knows. But if they cover it only half-heartedly, we all know that the GOP spin machine will take it and run with it, and it's hard to get a bone out of that dog's mouth. The Republicans were on the ropes tonight, at least as far as facts and composure were concerned, and if the Democrats have the good sense -- and the will -- to mount a full scale media offensive over this, and kick them when they're down, they just might end up with both a blocked nomination and a good clean political hit on the administration.

We'll see.

Official Summary of Tonight's Proceedings on the Senate Floor

Republicans: We're gonna make Estrada a judge. How ya like that?
Democrats Um...we don't think so. He obviously lied his ass off to us when we questioned him last fall. We stongly suspect he may try to lock us up if he is given a judgeship.
Republicans: We're in the Majority. Eat it.
Democrats: [Filibuster]
Republicans: How dare you use a legitimate parliamentary tactic to puncture our swaggering bluster! You are obviously racists, and are breaking Senate rules, and even if you aren't, you are racists.
Democrats: [Facts]
Republicans: This is hideously unfair, and we are personally offended that you are doing to us what we did to you in the past, because when we did it, we had good reasons.
Democrats: [Facts which not only refute Republican statements, but hurl them to the ground and spit on them]
Republicans: Unfair! Unfair!
Democrats: [Communal effort to try to figure out how the hell these people have been beating them since 1994]

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Point of Order

Are you allowed to say "crap" on the Senate floor?

I'm looking at you, Mister Hatch.

Trying yet again...

How about when they stood up for the single greatest value Clinton brought to the Party, fiscal responsibility, and told Bush to go back to Texas when he proposed his first tax cut?

Oh. Right.

Fuck this.

Still trying...

Or that time when they were in the majority and defeated the Constitution-shredding Patriot Act?

Oh. Right.

Trying to come up with a Similar Act of Testicular Fortitude on the part of the Democrats...

What about that time they all got together and filibustered the War Resolution?

Oh. Right.

Goddamn those racist Democrats!

I cannot believe I'm seeing this.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I'm watching the Republicans, right there on the television, talk about how much Hispanics depend on them to advance in society, and that the Democrats are denying Estrada a vote because he's Hispanic, and not because he's a lunatic who's desperately trying to hide the fact that he's a lunatic. (And does anyone else find the sight of Sen. Inhofe (Jackass- OK) speaking spanish to prove how much he loves Hispanics utterly hysterical? My dad started screaming at the television, "He's from OKLAHOMA! Al Pacino is the closest thing to a Hispanic he's ever seen!")

I'm sorry, maybe I'm a partisan hack, but after the first couple years of Republican obstruction after the 1994 revolution, I think that the Democrats have a pass to obstruct anything they damn well please until roughly 2017.

And hoo-boy! Who gave the greenlight for the Democrats to go to the mattresses on this one? This is the ballsiest thing I've seen out of them'll get back to you on this one.

Edit:I meant to say before the 1994 revolution.
Right out of the gate, a break with popular consensus...

Atrios, echoing the opinion of most people capable of explaining why it is wrong to marry your sister, seems to have voted a distinctly Anti-Mike Savage plank into the Eschaton platform.
While this is admirable, I find myself, against all odds, disagreeing. I experienced an epiphany of sorts this evening while listening to Savage on the radio. He stated, with apparent sincerity, that his intense dislike for Madeleine Albright, and his blaming of her for the North Koreans' acquisition of missile technology capable of striking the US, stems from her resemblance, in both appearance and attitude, to his mother.

Usually, when one is witness to a grown man's confession of massive Freudian issues, one is made distinctly uncomfortable. No one wants to seriously consider the implications. However, upon hearing this intimation, all members of the VeryVeryHappy family present burst into raucous laughter.

A man so unspeakably heinous as to make one laugh with actual mirth upon hearing such a soul-baring admission is truly a treasure not to be wasted. Therefore, while admitting the possibility that I am drunk with my newfound administrative control over this site, I am officially declaring VeryVeryHappy a supporter of Michael Savage, Right Wing Lunatic Extraordinaire. We love this man, and sincerely hope that he remains on the air as long as possible before his inevitable tarring, feathering, and deportation at the hands of an angry mob.

Go get 'em, Mikey, you crank bastard!
Can't tell the players without a scorecard!

Just so I'm clear:

Iran, a Fundamentalist Islamic totalitarian state that has funded terrorism against Israel and the United States has Uranium and is working on developing nuclear technology. North Korea, a notoriously belligerant state with an unpredictable leader who sells anything to anyone has a million-strong army armed with huge amounts of conventional weaponry, fissile material production capability, nuclear weapons, and missiles capable of hitting the continental United States. Al Qaeda, an international terrorist organization which perpetrated the worst act of terrorism in US history is planning imminent attacks on the United States. A National Guardsman has supplied top secret national defense information to domestic White Supremicist groups ideologically akin to Timothy McVeigh, who committed the second worst act of terrorism in US history. And Iraq, which is a secular totalitarian state whose military capability has been virtually neutralized since 1991, has no fissile material, no nuclear capability, no delivery system with a range greater than 650 km, and no concrete links to terrorist organizations.

Okay. Just Checking.


Hey! Alright! You go, North Korea! Get down with your bad able-to-hit-the-west-coast-with-a-nuclear-tipped-missile self!

And so it begins...

I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but seeing the words "White House Reax" prominently displayed on the Fox News Channel today pushed me over the line. I have finally broken down, and created a blog, because I have no desire to put my fist through the television screen.
I have decided that an ongoing practice here at VeryVeryHappy will be to state from time to time various postulates -- arrived at through consideration of the news of the day -- which will then be used to construct undeniable proofs of the various positions I hold dear.
So, without further ado, the First Premise of VeryVeryHappy:

Fox News sucks and is making your children dumb.

This just might be fun...