Just Above Sunset
November 7, 2004 - Martyrs and God and Money and Gays and the Press

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Clare, an old college friend, sends a quote along –

"The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose, because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. In order for somebody to win an important, major fight 100 years hence, a lot of other people have got to be willing - for the sheer fun and joy of it - to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. You mustn't feel like a martyr. You've got to enjoy it."

- I. F. Stone

First from Paris – Joseph, the expatriate American ex-film producer from these parts -


Last night at the Philo Café [that Paris institution explained here] we enjoyed a heated discussion regarding the future of democracy.  I argued that as marketing and politics become more scientific, politics becomes more as theatre.  Political parties have greater tools with which to manufacture the consent of the governed, and we enjoy the spectacle, ever more deluded that we are participating in it.

Allow me to draw your attention to the following.  This is just getting started.

Scientists scan brains for political clues
Associated Press story covered by CNN
Tuesday, November 2, 2004 Posted: 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)

SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Applying some of the same brain-scan technology used to understand Alzheimer's and autism, scientists are trying to learn what makes a Republican's mind different from a Democrat's.

Brain scanning is moving rapidly beyond diseases to measuring how we react to religious experiences, racial prejudice, even Coke versus Pepsi. This election season, some scientists are trying to find out whether the technology can help political consultants get inside voters' heads more effectively than focus groups or polls.

Already, the scientists are predicting that brain scanning -- known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI -- will be a campaign staple four years from now, despite ethical concerns about "neuromarketing."

Brain scans measure blood flow. When brain cells start firing in a part of the brain that governs a particular emotion or activity, they need more oxygen, which is carried by the blood. During an fMRI, active regions of the brain can be seen lighting up on a computer monitor.
Last month, Drs. Joshua Freedman and Marco Iacoboni of the University of California at Los Angeles finished scanning the brains of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats. Each viewed images of President Bush, John Kerry and Ralph Nader.

When viewing their favorite candidate, all showed increased activity in the region implicated in empathy. And when viewing the opposition, all had increased blood flow in the region where humans consciously assert control over emotions -- suggesting the volunteers were actively attempting to dislike the opposition.

Nonetheless, some differences appeared between the brain activity of Democrats and Republicans. Take empathy: One Democrat's brain lit up at an image of Kerry "with a profound sense of connection, like a beautiful sunset," Freedman said. Brain activity in a Republican shown an image of Bush was "more interpersonal, such as if you smiled at someone and they smiled back."

And when voters were shown a Bush ad that included images of the September 11 attacks, the amygdala region of the brain -- which lights up for most of us when we see snakes -- illuminated more for Democrats than Republicans. The researchers' conclusion: At a subconscious level, Republicans were apparently not as bothered by what Democrats found alarming.

"People make tons of decisions and often they don't know why," Iacoboni said. "A lot of decision-making is unconscious, and brain imaging will be used in the near future to perceive and decide about politicians." …

… "This is a story of the corruption of medical research," warned Gary Ruskin, who runs a Portland, Oregon, nonprofit organization called Commercial Alert. "It's a technology that should be used to ease human suffering, not make political propaganda more effective."


Emma, our Australian friend in Paris comments – “Orwell must be laughing in his grave!

To piggyback on a famous British poet of the seventeenth century – The grave is a fine and private place, but none I think do there… giggle?  (See this.)

Dick in Rochester, New York adds – “Gee whiz, Joe! The good news just keeps a comin'.”

Bob Patterson, who weekly writes for Just Above Sunset as “The World’s Laziest Journalist” tries out a football metaphor – “Maybe it's time to heed the wisdom of the old football coach? Drop back ten and punt?

Vince in upstate New York demurs – “Can't punt if you don't have the ball...

Ah, but how bad are things?

The previous day Dick in Rochester, New York had mentioned that the national debt is going right off the chart, as the big bucks people will probably get another tax cut.

Joseph adds this -


Dick: This is part of an explanation I will eventually get to, but probably not until I return from London next week.

By this time next week, the Euro will be at 1.30 USD. Look at how the bond market is reacting. We are in a hole we may not get out of for a long, long time. The party that is sitting at the table when this check comes will be ruined for a generation. You can quote me.

Why Democrats should be thankful?

At least they don't have to clean up the Bush fiscal catastrophe.


And Joseph sends along Daniel Gross in SLATE.COM - "…the Treasury Department announced an impending crisis. If the lame-duck Congress doesn't raise the statutory $7.384 trillion debt limit, which was intentionally breached in October, by Nov. 18, the world's greatest power will run out of cash."

Emma? "Ah but for just how long will the Chinese and Japanese continue to buy the debt when they have increasing problems of their own?"

That is a consideration.

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, adds this -


Look at how the bond market is reacting? We are in a hole we may not get out of for a long, long time? The party that is sitting at the table when this check comes will be ruined for a generation?

No time right now for a detailed response from me on that, but yep, you're right!

Republicans and Bush are good for business?!? As I understand it, many of the folks who buy our bonds are them foreigners that Bush has so studiously thumbed his nose at - something they may not take personally so much as they look at his policies of running up huge deficits and think he might not be able to pay it back - which means he'll have to tempt them with higher bond rates, making it even harder to pay back. (And if nobody has yet coined the term "Treasury Junk Bond," please remember that you heard it here first.)

And there are reports that Europeans, who in the past pretty much admired "American confidence and that 'can-do' attitude," now see that as "arrogance," and are starting to boycott the same American products they once thought cool. U.S. firms deny noticing any effect, but Coca-Cola says its 16% drop in sales recently is just due to the weak economy over there. So once again, Republicans and Bush are good for business?

Not really! One could guess that his being-bad-for-business thing going on is one of the prices he paid when he sold whatever passed for his soul to the so-called "moral values" crowd. But I'm pretty sure that at some point, America will catch on and turn on George W. Bush in the same way they did turned on Newt Gingrich.

I haven't read all of the posts, and if you've already explained your pre-hangover thoughts about it being a good thing Bush won - my gut reaction being, "Yeah, you and al Qaedda both!" - and also that disengaging thing, I hope to find the time to get to read them this weekend, but on the face of it, I must say I really disagree.

Yeah, who wants to have to clean up Bush's mess! And especially when at least half the country cares less about how much he screwed us all up in the world than whether God wants us to kill embryos here and there in the name of keeping actual living people alive!

But the fact is, in the reputed words of John Wayne, "It's a job to be done; somebody's got to do it." Kerry would have done it, with both trepidation and pride. And I wish he could have. But since he didn't get the chance, we may have to follow up and do it.

And if I take correctly that business about not trying so hard to be right, I do like the way Phillip made that sound like the credo of the other side, which doesn't seem to care as much about really being right as it does about winning.

I do hope, in the coming inevitable bloodletting of the Democrats, the argument that "we all have to have to have the courage to change our philosophy and become more like the Republicans" gets the mercifully short shrift it so richly deserves.

If we want to win, we have to learn to pretend to "love God" in the same way Bush supporters do? We have to reaffirm our belief that "God hates Fags" and that gays shouldn't get married or raise children? Are we supposed to learn to love guns and hate the idea of legal abortions?


Denounce Hollywood for corrupting our morals? Learn to love the idea that evolution is merely a theory equal to creationism? Run shithead campaigns where we talk trash, and where we lie, exaggerate, distort, and blatantly ignore the facts without fear of contradiction? I think you get my drift.

The point is, if you want to pretend to be an asshole just to get the votes, not only will those other guys always be better at it, they will also gain votes by mocking you for trying to be like them, just to get votes. (Think Kerry-shoots-goose.)

The Democrats do stand for things that the other side doesn't (we can talk about that later), and that's why I almost always find myself voting Democratic. I do hope we don't give into the temptation to fiddle with the formula, just for the sake of winning. Someone has to believe in the things that George W. Bush doesn't, and if need be, let me the first to join that group.

But if you really want to imitate something the Republicans did to win this time, let's try to energize the base. Try going out there and getting people who agree with you to not only go to the polls, but also do the thankless job of going door-to-door and taking shit from the folks who don't agree with you, all in an attempt to get them to join our side. We may not cut too many strays from the herd, but every one you get is one you didn't have. Keep in mind that most those Red State folks have never heard the other side of the argument.

The first step is the midterms. Democrats have to use these storm trooper tactics (pardon the expression) to try to change the makeup of the next Congress. That should set us up for 2008. We can do this, and if we want to do any good whatsoever before we die, we should try. We need not be ashamed of what we believe - hey, we're probably MORE than half the country! And we need to have the guts to both stick by our beliefs and to spread the word!

(Of course, the first thing I myself have to do is find the time to read Slate article. I've been so busy writing this diatribe that I haven't had time. I'm just so pissed off, and plan to stay that way for some time to come.)

But for other good reading matter on this issue, I refer you to the Op-Ed page of the Thursday's New York Times, specifically Maureen Dowd's "The Red Zone", Thomas L. Friedman's "Two Nations Under God", and Garry Wills' "The Day the Enlightenment Went Out". [See below.]


Sex and God

That was also an issue in the election.

Joseph replies to our Cincinnati friend who explained the Christian view of the election results -

“You need to disengage your need to be right."

That particular piece of advice was leveled at me by Joel Silver himself. He was right. [Joel Silver’s Frank Lloyd Wright house in Just Above Sunset here.] Only Phillip and you, I believe, have truly understood the spirit of it. It is a waste of time trying to convince others that you are right, when you could more easily convince them of what they need to believe in order to believe you. In other words, if your ego can forego the satisfaction of being proved right, you are more likely to get what you want. The Republican leadership knows this. Sun Tzu would approve.

Activist judges: judges at the appellate level or higher are activist. That some are not is talk-radio hype. It's just that there are some kinds of activists I don't like, and some kinds don't like. You will be tempted to label them "liberal"; I would urge you to call them "permissive" instead. It's not the same thing.

Don't believe me? How about your cherished right to privacy? Not in the constitution. Lots of other things you and I both cherish (like the right to drink beer, for example!) are not in the constitution and are only rights because "activist judges" "created" them. I think you would be appalled by all that we would have to give up if we had a judiciary full of Antony Scallias. You wouldn't like it. So let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Having said that, I agree. When gay activists first began throwing a fit, now nearly a year ago, I smelled big trouble. For quite a while, we have been in danger of scuttling the party on their behalf, and I for one, do not approve. Their welcome at the table was tentative at best, and this is how they pay us back?

I don't give a shit how badly they want it, their "plight" has absolutely ZERO parallel to the civil rights movement. To make the comparison is absurd. I agree with you 100% that the state amendment story is the elephant in the room. As far as I'm concerned, they should be shown the door until they can prove that they can behave themselves. If that makes me a bigot, tough. Should I let my house burn down to save theirs? 90% of gays aren't going to vote Republican no matter what we do. Those "log cabin" Republicans (who picked THAT name, anyway?) are gonna do what they're gonna do.

True, I don't support gay marriage either, but my reasons have little to do with morality. (Have you noticed that "morality" these days is limited to matters of sex?) If you give them marriage, it's no threat to me or society at large. But there would then be no legal basis for denying adoption rights, etc. This is where I personally draw the line. It’s tough enough being a kid these days without having two daddies that shower together.

The whole gay thing is just a big yawn for me. Except that their collective impatient, impetuous sniveling has played a major role in this particular train wreck. Every sensible Democrat should feel betrayed by those who insisted upon their own little interests when it was important (and smarter) to keep it together, shut up and wait.



Emma responds –


Look I think you guys are making a real song and dance about this gay marriage thing. Personally I don’t think there is anything wrong in gay couples wanting to get hitched and settle down - it might reduce their so-called loud and rampant promiscuity.

Furthermore, in a world where so many couples get hitched for all the wrong reasons I have the impression that gay couples looking to marriage might actually be doing it for far more admirable moralistic reasons than most of us heterosexuals would give them the merit for.

My one concern however with gay married couples is when it comes to having children. That would seem to be the more appropriate discussion to seriously debate.


And Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, takes that up -



I agree about the marriage thing. Although I never cared that much about it before, I was forced to make a decision about this stupid issue since the Republicans made it a wedge-issue: I really can't see anything wrong with it, especially since it seems spousal benefits can't be handled any other way. (Would it "destroy the concept of marriage" as we know it? I can only imagine the day it becomes legal that, all over this country, husbands will smack their foreheads in a "V-8" moment, shouting, "Damn it! If I'd only waited! I coulda married a MAN!!")

But as for their raising kids thing, I very much disagree with both you and Joseph.

Phillip and I live in a town (Decatur, Georgia) that is apparently famous far and wide for being where lesbians come to live. (If you've ever heard of the Indigo Girls, the singing group, they grew up here, and I think still live here.) But I've noticed at my daughter's elementary school countless lesbian couples dropping off their kids, kids who seem as normal as can be. And studies have shown that adults that were brought up by gay couples are normal in every way, and also end up having about the same sexual preferences as those raised by heterosexuals.

Should kids be raised by a mother and father? It's probably best, but I personally believe children of divorce probably fare much, much worse than children with two mommies or two daddies.

One more note about this Republican wedge-issue, as manifested in state amendment ballot proposals: I know that in my state of Georgia, a lawsuit to throw an anti-same-sex marriage amendment off the ballot failed, despite the fact that it secretly also banned not only civil unions, but heterosexual civil unions. (Some claim the challenge will win on appeal, on constitutional grounds.) This whole damn issue was phony from the get-go, designed to get the evangelicals -- people who didn't care about the real issues we face -- out to the polls. And if worked, and we're going to pay the price.



We are paying the price.

Phillip Raines chimes in here -


Scuttling the party on the behalf of the gay thing, huh? Hmm. I recall a headline in the Atlanta Journal "Zell Miller: ' I tried to tell you.'" I didn't have the stomach to read his opinion, but I'm sure it danced around that very issue. I could be worse. A candidate like me might say "Not all church is good and not all dope is bad." Boy that would really scuttle the bonnie ship, eh matey.

I found solace in coming to the conclusion that their writing is better, more hypnotic, and better on things that are bullshit. That's it! THEY DO THE BULLSHIT BETTER. That's what we need. To be better at a bunch of bullshit - then we can pull in the vast pool of the gullible, who after all are real numbers. I feel like we actually got out all the reasonable Democrats there are. That's our whole team, and you're not going to get the artist and anarchist to vote, they're too distracted anyway. Now the next step is to get Robert Redford to run, ahh.. How the electorate would swoon, if there are better writers out there to slip him all cue cards. I see a real dork factor to the image makers in this party, it's not like we have our best talent on the job. And Kerry bore the burden for us, but was not himself overburdened with charisma.

But on the prohibition on gay adoption. Well, it already happens one way or another. A couple of gay guys up the street have a couple of kids achieved by artificially inseminating one or the other in a lesbian couple. All four parents make good money and they aren't pedophiles. In my small town such things don't even raise an eyebrow for most of the citizens. There's a big lesbian population here in downtown Decatur (code named Dick-hater). There are responsibilities like school conferences, who picks up who at after-school, who is sent grades, hospital privacy concerns and medications, and then a myriad of insurance issues, pretty much like families everywhere have to wade through. All the contractual obligations could fall under the umbrella of marriage, but that sounds too much like holy matrimony and then you get some moron wrapped in an idiot who ponders who would Jesus booger or some such shit and their wiring burns through the insulation and there is a melt down of outrage spread chicken little-like through the land. The critical error is really based on the connection of marriage and matrimony, which is well... grammatical bullshit, which like I said, we don't do as well. Always distracted by turning it into some sort of smart-ass joke - and hey, who can blame us. In a way it's funny like a fart, but you gotta keep a straight face and enlightenment is, we must admit, the higher path.

But the point is that there is some sort of family contractual agreement that for all us straight people is covered in marriage, but for gays it is more convoluted, if not impossible. And insurance companies just hate the idea because it means more pay outs, and without national health insurance people are looking for an angle in the same way I tell young musicians to marry a teacher. You can't beat the benefits. With gay couples it all gets distracted by the buggery issue, and the farmers in the red states aren't going to go for that. And apparently even the Amish will vote to stop things from going in the direction of such nastiness. And now it's a democratic issue, somebody’s sex life. Yeah, well maybe we should draw the line on constituency, but replace them with whom? Or as Joseph implies, should we say you can come to the party, but try not to speak and don't make a spectacle of yourself. If they're even sitting at our table we have to defend the question of why do you have a queer at the table. Then where is that bullshit reply? Don't ask me. I would say their table collapsed from the weight of all those dildos, and where is that going to get you?


Rick, The News Guy, adds this -


Decatur (code named Dick-Hater)?

Yeah, I thought of mentioning that, but passed on it because I was trying very hard to come off as serious. (Oddly, I first heard that joke from a guy who lived in Orange County, California, after my having lived in Decatur for maybe ten years.)

Phillips says, "That's it. THEY DO THE BULLSHIT BETTER. That's what we need. If [gays are] even sitting at our table we have to defend the question of why do you have a queer at the table. Then where is that bullshit reply?"

It's odd, but I think their bullshit, on one level, actually isn't.

In fact, the Bush constituency has this indelible image in its collective head of a strong leader, and their guy fits that picture perfectly. So when Bush and his crowd shovel what the rest of us may think of as bullshit, his followers just see it as the kind of thing the "right man for the job" has to say in order to keep it.

This is why all this stuff about Kerry - for example, making sure we see him goose hunting, to show he's not going to take guns away from conservatives ("There he goes, the Massachusetts liberal, pretending to be a gun guy!"); or emphasizing his war record, as opposed to Bush's ("There goes that liberal Kerry, pretending to be as tough as W!"); or admitting to all the world that he's against same-sex marriage ("There goes the liberal from Massachusetts again, trying to pretend he's not a liberal!") - is seen by them as making Kerry look like a big phony who will do and say anything to get votes.

And quite frankly, although "bullshit" is way too strong a word for it, it's hard to deny that so much of it came off as pretty disingenuous and baldly pandering. But no, I don't think it's necessarily Kerry's fault.

The truth is, just as Kerry gambled he might be able to win without carrying one Southern state, Bush took a chance and spent his whole campaign playing to his core fans, not even allowing anyone into his rallies who wouldn't sign a form that promised to vote for Bush. And his gamble paid off. Not once did he try any such stunts to appeal to liberals.

In other words, on that particular level, not once did Bush, the candidate, bullshit anyone!

Amazing, when you think about it!

(By the way, oddly enough, George Bush apparently isn't even a hunter. Then again, nor does he need to pretend to be one in order to impress his crowd.)

So, is there a lesson for our side in all of this? Here's one: Don't try to make yourself look like the other guy, since voters already have one of those, and he will inevitably be better at it than you.

A corollary lesson: Those Bush bastards are begging for an opposition, someone who proudly stands for something else, and it might as freaking well be you.

It can be argued, of course, that Bush was able to get away with playing almost solely to his base only because he knew his base was larger than Kerry's. Maybe so, although I'm still not convinced. I still think there are plenty of untapped smart people out there who have a different definition of "moral values," and who could be recruited to get off their asses if only they were shown some glimpse of hope, and who would be willing to go vote for, and maybe even work to elect, the good guys.

I think prominent among the reasons that Bush beat Kerry, as has been discussed here, is that conservatives are very much into image, while liberals are more into truth. But it's also true that liberals, who try to be open-minded and are always willing to entertain both sides of an argument, are that much more likely than the other side to wonder why their guy can't jimmy up a good image as well as the other guy. (And it's equally true that conservatives are entertained by the liberals' tendency to doubt themselves out of existence.)

But this is not to say the liberals should be tempted to abandon their beliefs, in the vain hope of becoming winners.

Try to remember the dark days of "Strange Fruit" - black bodies hanging from trees, alluded to in the Billie Holiday song of the same name. Because brave people fought, and sometimes died, to make unacceptable behavior no longer acceptable, those days have become a curious relic of the past. The lesson is, happily, that sometimes sticking to good principles ends up being not nearly as futile as all those cynics and pessimists claim.

Which is to say that, among other things, we should stop worrying about coming up with a "bullshit reply" to those who question why we have gays sitting at our table.

I suppose we could tell them to go ask Dick Cheney, but they would then only accuse us of "bad taste" in "outing" Cheney's daughter, or some such crap. Maybe the better approach might be to say that there's nothing wrong with gay people - very smart and creative folks who contribute plenty to society, thank you very much; and maybe that God obviously agrees, since he created so many of them; and, by the way, who the hell are you to go around, second-guessing God?

But if that doesn't work, maybe you should invoke Dick Cheney's wisdom once more, advising them to go do to themselves what Dick Cheney advised Patrick Leahy to do!

Notes on the Press

Joseph again –


On CNN I just saw the announcers TWICE deliver the line that "MOST Americans are happy with the results of the election" while showing a graphic that indicated that 44% were either "disappointed" or "afraid". As a journalistic convention, we don't usually invoke "most" for a shade above half. I guess that's the liberal media for you, the same lot who never said a discouraging word about this president until six months ago.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with some people, one of whom was the kind of guy who refers to CNN as the "Clinton News Network". It was hard going. Here's the funny bit. Do you remember the old saw that says that journalists are liberal because they "want to save the world" which is why they became journalists to begin with? You will be happy to know that it has graduated to the status of urban legend. This guy claims that a "friend" has "a friend" who is a journalist who said this about himself. I could barely keep from laughing in his face.

You know that something is completely indefensible when presented this way. If this were his argument one might present a counter-argument and shoot the whole thing. But by presenting it as the confession of a friend of a friend, one is being asked to accept, like so many other things these days, the core assumptions as an article of faith.

I have known many journalists, and few of them managed to muster more than a detached amusement regarding most of news stories they covered. I think that like much twaddle of this type that one hears these days, it stems from the distance most people have from the practical realities of the subject, an understandable ignorance of how stuff actually "works".

For William Safire, I have no explanation. I have admired is "language" column for years, but I suspect he's coming unhinged.


Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, who was in on CNN at the start, responds –


Except to say, yes, over 50% does indeed qualify as being "most", this is not to be confused with the sentiments of right-wingers I've heard in the last few days that Tuesday's results prove that we are overwhelmingly a conservative -- as if to say, anti-God-liberal -- nation. After all, 50% is a long way from 100%, isn't it?

And yes, I myself have met liberals who have become journalists because they wanted to "do good." But I've always contended that liberals think of education and journalism as "noble professions that help society," while conservatives tend to pass over "noble professions that help society" in favor of "going where the money is."

But I should also note here the little-known fact that, at the height of CNN being referred to as the "Clinton New Network," not only did Clinton reportedly have a distinct dislike for CNN, but that all the very top news managers of the network at that time were conservatives!

And I must say, thank goodness all of those managers (two of the three are dead now, but I still shouldn't betray their secrets by naming them) were so dedicated to principle that they never let their political beliefs interfere with their professional standards.


Well, don’t tell the conservatives that.  They don’t believe it.


References, and other comment –

Rick in Atlanta mentions items in the New York Times and here are two of them.

The Enlightenment was overrated?

The Day the Enlightenment Went Out
Garry Wills - Published: November 4, 2004


… This might be called Bryan's revenge for the Scopes trial of 1925, in which William Jennings Bryan's fundamentalist assault on the concept of evolution was discredited. Disillusionment with that decision led many evangelicals to withdraw from direct engagement in politics. But they came roaring back into the arena out of anger at other court decisions - on prayer in school, abortion, protection of the flag and, now, gay marriage.

… Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?

America, the first real democracy in history, was a product of Enlightenment values - critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence, a regard for the secular sciences. Though the founders differed on many things, they shared these values of what was then modernity. They addressed "a candid world," as they wrote in the Declaration of Independence, out of "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush's supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11.

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.

It is often observed that enemies come to resemble each other. We torture the torturers, we call our God better than theirs - as one American general put it, in words that the president has not repudiated.

… Jihads are scary things. It is not too early to start yearning back toward the Enlightenment.


Note: The Times tells us Garry Wills, an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, is the author of "St. Augustine's Conversion”

And MAUREEN DOWD on the same page –


… The president got re-elected by dividing the country along fault lines of fear, intolerance, ignorance and religious rule. He doesn't want to heal rifts; he wants to bring any riffraff who disagree to heel.

W. ran a jihad in America so he can fight one in Iraq - drawing a devoted flock of evangelicals, or "values voters," as they call themselves, to the polls by opposing abortion, suffocating stem cell research and supporting a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Mr. Bush, whose administration drummed up fake evidence to trick us into war with Iraq, sticking our troops in an immoral position with no exit strategy, won on "moral issues."

The president says he's "humbled" and wants to reach out to the whole country. What humbug. The Bushes are always gracious until they don't get their way. If W. didn't reach out after the last election, which he barely grabbed, why would he reach out now that he has what Dick Cheney calls a "broad, nationwide victory"?

… Just as Zell Miller was so over the top at the G.O.P. convention that he made Mr. Cheney seem reasonable, so several new members of Congress will make W. seem moderate.

Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions and warned that "the gay agenda" would undermine the country. He also characterized his race as a choice between "good and evil" and said he had heard there was "rampant lesbianism" in Oklahoma schools.

Jim DeMint, the new senator from South Carolina, said during his campaign that he supported a state G.O.P. platform plank banning gays from teaching in public schools. He explained, "I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend should be hired to teach my third-grade children."

John Thune, who toppled Tom Daschle, is an anti-abortion Christian conservative - or "servant leader," as he was hailed in a campaign ad - who supports constitutional amendments banning flag burning and gay marriage.

Seeing the exit polls, the Democrats immediately started talking about values and religion. Their sudden passion for wooing Southern white Christian soldiers may put a crimp in Hillary's 2008 campaign (nothing but a wooden stake would stop it). Meanwhile, the blue puddle is comforting itself with the expectation that this loony bunch will fatally overreach, just as Newt Gingrich did in the 90's.

But with this crowd, it's hard to imagine what would constitute overreaching.

Invading France?


It’s a thought.

The world press reaction is here in summary form….

Brits to America: You're Idiots!
Well, 51 percent of you, anyway.
By June Thomas - Posted Thursday, Nov. 4, 2004, at 5:07 PM PT SLATE.COM


… check out the cover of Thursday's Daily Mirror: Over a picture of President George W. Bush, the paper asked, "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" Inside, the left-leaning British tabloid headlined its editorial, "WAR MORE YEARS." In a clear demonstration of the trans-Atlantic culture gap, the paper's description of the president's beliefs—clearly intended to strike Mirror readers as a radical agenda—is simply an accurate, if crude, précis of his platform: "Mr Bush opposes abortion and gay marriage, doesn't give a stuff about the environment, is against gun control and believes troops should stay in Iraq for as long as it takes."

The Mirror wasn't the only British paper with a striking cover. The Guardian's "G2" section was fronted by a page of solid black containing just two small words: "Oh, God." Meanwhile, the Independent ran the headline "Four More Years" along with iconic images from the first Bush term: kneeling prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, tortured prisoners at Abu Ghraib, soldiers fighting in Iraq, oil-drilling machinery, sign-wielding religious extremists, and a smirking Dubya. In France, Libération ran a picture of the president under the headline, "L'Empire empire"—"The empire declines."

… As the Guardian put it: "We may not like it. In fact … we don't like it one bit. But if it isn't a mandate, then the word has no meaning. Mr. Bush has won fair … and square. He and his country—and the rest of the world—now have to deal with it." In a fit of double-negativity, the Independent's editorial added: "This does not mean, however, that we do not contemplate the second Bush term with considerable trepidation. Another four years of a president in thrall to the religious right and the neo-conservatives is another four years in which the United States risks sliding back into an earlier age of bigotry and social injustice." Writing in the Times of London, Simon Jenkins' condescending sigh of disappointment typified the genre:

… Elsewhere in Europe, France's leftist Libération got with the program: "A new reactionary majority … has cemented its hold on American democracy. The rest of the world may deplore it, but it will have to adapt to this reality." Turkey's Hurriyet also echoed the familiar grin-and-bear-it theme: "American voters have once more brought someone they deserved to the presidency. In this case, what is left for us is to bear it and to protect our own interests with maximum sensitivity." But Sovietskaya Rossiya defaulted to quaintly archaic Cold War rhetoric: "Bearing in mind that Bush's policies are prompting increasingly powerful rejection in the entire world, mankind will inevitably unite against the common evil—American imperialism."

Oh my!

Other comment?

This - "'Ach,' says Oliver James, the clinical psychologist. 'I was too depressed to even speak this morning. I thought of my late mother, who read Mein Kampf when it came out in the 1930s and thought, 'Why doesn't anyone see where this is leading?''"

"I think a large part of the public likes the conservatives' theme music. Now they will be tested on whether they like the lyrics." - Barney Frank - Brookline TAB, Nov. 4th, 2004

This -

Rove's re-election strategy was elegantly simple: Scare the bejesus out of Jesusland. Faggots are headed your way! Satanic Muslims are hiding everywhere! That's all it took to get Jesusland to do the job. Intellectual conservatives like the National Review staff are flattering themselves if they honestly believe Jesusland cares about conservative thought. The "reality-based" folks are learning that Jesusland doesn't even care about jobs or the economy. In Jesusland, it's all the will of Jesus. No job? No money? Daughter got her clit pierced? Jesus is just fucking with you again, testing your faith. Got the cancer? Oh well. Soon you'll be with Jesus. Reality is no match for a mystical world in which an all-powerful god is constantly toying with every detail of your mundane life, just to see what you'll do about it. Keep praying and always keep your eye out for homosexuals and terrorists, and you will eventually be rewarded ... all you have to do is die, and then it's SuperJesusLand, where you will be a ghost floating in a magic cloud with all the other ghosts from Jesusland, with Jesus Himself presiding over an Eternal Church Service.

And A reader to the Guardian (UK) – “… I suggest Operation Rock the Voter - well-meaning Guardian readers volunteer to visit America, and are assigned a single Bush voter, who they then shake violently and slap around a bit, and point at any given five second video clip of Bush and scream, "Look! He's a fucking moron! Can't you see that? Everyone else on the bloody planet can, what the hell is wrong with you?" Followed by some more violent shaking.

Oh well.

The London Daily Mirror front page - Thursday, November 04, 2004 –

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Bonus – the cover of the LA Weekly - Issue of November 5 -11, 2004 –

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Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....