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November 30, 2004
President Sissy. From the BBC:
The president will not address parliament in the capital, Ottawa, apparently because of the risk of being heckled.
We have a President who’s afraid of being heckled. By Canadians.

This is part of showing the world how strong we are, right?

[12:19 PM : 104 comments]

November 26, 2004
Another postcard, another future. Bruce Sterling posts from Belgrade:
This is a ten-billion-dinar note. This is what happens when your regime has a bunch of unnecessary wars and loses them, as the administration’s cronies loot the treasury, in an orgy of self-righteous media propaganda.

[03:42 PM : 17 comments]

November 23, 2004
Great minds. Electrolite’s comment section: where tomorrow’s resistance ideas are anticipated last month!

Did they get the idea from the estimable Karen Cooper? Who knows, but it’s a good one.

[03:27 PM : 10 comments]

Postcards from a future. Via MetaFilter: “Ten things the Chinese do better than we do.” Or, at least, ten details of modern life that our Han contemporaries seem to have sensibly rethought, often addressing the problem with technological elan. The article specifically excludes stuff based on their supply of cheap labor.

If your mental picture of China is still a black-and-white photo of Mao-jacketed swarms on bicycles, check it out.

Also via MeFi, this fantastic site, nothing but thousands of photos of modern cities all over the world, arranged by country. Here’s Shanghai.

[12:17 PM : 31 comments]

November 18, 2004
Nice. Under the Sun discovers those fanatically secular, religion-hating Nielsen Haydens:
I keep blogrolling and un-blogrolling both Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, because they’re intelligent, eloquent, and sometimes even wise, but they have absolutely no interest in being even barely civil to Republicans and Evangelicals and other spawn of Satan. Brad DeLong’s partisan barbs don’t bother me, because they’re serious but also humorous; the Nielsen Haydens are just…fanatics. Secular leftist fanatics. And they, unlike rightist religious fanatics, bloody well ought to know better. I know they don’t care that I’m offended; they just want to commiserate with others of their own kind. But that makes them part of the problem, not part of the solution. It makes them, in short, hypocritical scum. Clear them from the pond so that the rest of us can sit down and listen to each other.
Among the fanatically secular, anti-religious acts of this particular Nielsen Hayden: writing a sympathetic introduction to a collection of religious writing, repeatedly explaining that “evangelical” doesn’t mean “fundamentalist,” and writing admiringly about Dorothy Day. That other Nielsen Hayden’s disdain for religion is, of course, even more sneakily concealed.

Definitely, in handling these deep-cover operatives, it’d be best to “clear them from the pond,” if you know what I mean and I think you do. Can’t be too careful when dealing with “scum.”

[05:08 PM : 378 comments]

November 06, 2004
An interesting answer. Matthew Yglesias argues with Mark Schmitt (see below).

UPDATE: Point to Emma.

[08:15 PM : 169 comments]

Morituri te salutamus. We’re about to attempt to upgrade to Movable Type 3.121. Don’t be surprised if the whole site is flaky for a little while.

UPDATE, 2:37 PM: So far so good, but not finished. Hold off trying to comment for now, please.

UPDATE, 3:20 PM: Commenting seems to work now.

[11:07 AM : 1 comments]

November 05, 2004
A really good question. Mark Schmitt asks it:
We are clearly in the middle of one of the great periods of Christian revival in American history, the third or fourth of the “Great Awakenings” in American Protestantism. Each such period has begun with a change in the nature of worship itself, essentially a private phase, and moved onto a public phase where it engaged with the political process. These have been significant moments of progress for this country. The Second Great Awakening led in its public phase to the Abolitionist movement. What some historians consider the Third Great Awakening beginning in the 1890s led to the Social Gospel movement, settlement houses, and the beginnings of the progressive era idea of a public responsibility to ameliorate poverty.

The right question, I think, is not whether religion has an undue influence, but why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice? Why is its public phase so exclusively focused on issues of private and personal behavior? Is this caused by trends in the nature of religious worship itself? Is it a displacement of economic or social pressures? Will that change? What are the factors that might cause it to change?

[08:47 PM : 58 comments]

November 04, 2004
“Moral values.” I don’t always agree with Amy Sullivan. But Christ, yes.
It doesn’t help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use terms like “moral values” and “moral issues” as shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a “culture of life” or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton’s eight years in office?)

“Religious” does not mean Republican. And “moral” does not mean conservative. There’s going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it’s incredibly important to make sure we’re neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize “the faithful.”

What she said. And, just in case you didn’t already click on the link, fuck you, Salon. Yes, that means every single one of you who draws a paycheck there.

[12:14 AM : 159 comments]

November 03, 2004
No way ahead. I’ve been, for most of my life, an earnest optimist—an encourager, a cheerleader, never at a loss to demonstrate the ways in which the glass is half full. On occasion I’ve even been hard on those friends to whom pessimism comes more naturally. (Hi, Mary Kay.)

This morning I’ve got none of that. I don’t just feel beaten; I feel like I’ve lived a fundamentally foolish turn of mind, like I’ve been defrauding my friends with an amped-up similitude of rational optimism, and that I can’t imagine why anyone should henceforth care what I think about anything.

I’m sure there are ways to come back from last night’s catastrophe. As I’ve said to politically-despairing fellow Americans before, tell it to Vaclav Havel. But right now I can’t see forward. This seems like a good place to stop.

[09:18 AM : 215 comments]

November 02, 2004
Oh, yeah. I kept meaning to say something like this, but work and travel got in the way. To my surprise, it’s Mark Schmitt, a blogger who’s also an experienced Democratic policy guy, who puts it best:
Finally, a less-predictable endorsement, for all of you in New York: Please vote for your candidates on the Working Families Party line, Row E. You don’t live in a battleground state, and your votes for Kerry and Schumer may not have much immediate impact on the outcome of those races. But you can make a difference by supporting the idea of an independent political organization that is aligned with the Democratic Party when its values are right, and not when they aren’t. For example, Working Families enabled an alternative to the Democratic nominee in the special election for City Council in Brooklyn last spring, who ultimately won, and Working Families offers alternatives to the corrupt system of judicial selection in Brooklyn. Further, when the labor and community activists of the Working Families Party can approach, for example, Senator Clinton and point out that the number of votes she received on their line was greater than her margin of victory, that’s a message that no ordinary constituency group can deliver. WFP is only five years old, and it’s still in many ways an experiment. If it works, perhaps we’ll see interest in other states in opening up to “fusion” parties—those that can endorse Democrats or Republicans sometimes, or their own candidates if they need to. This is a reform that will dramatically open up the electoral system and also create strong, modern organizations of the type that are winning this election for Kerry. Voting on the Working Families line sends a message to the New York political system, and also beyond.
My general view of American third parties is that they’re a gigantic distraction from effective politics, because the two-party system is an emergent property of the United States Constitution. With its unusual election rules allowing cross-endorsement, however, New York State is a bit different; a small party can indeed wield real influence, and in its short history the WFP has done so very cannily. Among their aims: repealing the catastrophically draconian Rockefeller drug laws. Their web site is at, and I intend to vote for them on Row E in about forty-five minutes.

[07:51 AM : 28 comments]

November 01, 2004
On All Souls’ Eve. Avram Grumer annotates Rudyard Kipling. “Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.”

Digby nails the self-regard of insiders who never threw a hat over a fence in their life.

John-Paul Spiro says: “I don’t just want him to ‘win.’ I want him to be President.”

The Rude Pundit points out that Kerry is a superhero.

John Kerry for President. Not just “anybody but Bush,” but a man of substance who just might become a great American President.

Dare to hope, and (in the best two words of the New Testament) fear not.

[09:10 PM : 9 comments]