When Smart People Talk Dumb

And, seriously, she really needs to stop using “elite” as a pejorative — first because it degrades language (if “elite” doesn’t necessarily describe the most powerful office in the world, then it no longer means “elite”), and second because SHE LIVED IN THE WHITE HOUSE FOR EIGHT YEARS. Her efforts to exclude herself from “the elite” is an embarrassment to her intelligence and experience.

Can I Go Home Now?

Watching this video it occurs to me that, instead of the presidency, this guy would have been much happier if he’d inherited a West Texas Chrysler dealership. I have to admit that I more or less supported Bush’s immigration plan. It’s the first time in six-and-a-half years I’ve been able to say that about a White House policy.

Why Hillary Ain’t on My Short List

Have you learned that it’s not okay to allow fear — including fear for your career in politics — to herd you along with the crowd.

I Think I’m in Love

Jim Webb during his first hearing with the Armed Services Committee . . .

One of Those Political Posts

I’ve come to feel increasingly alienated from evangelical culture, and politics is an important reason. I used to write about this a lot more on Long Pauses, but I grew tired of my own voice and my own hypocrisies. Too much finger-pointing. Plus, the results of the 2004 election broke my heart. I’ve felt more than a bit defeated and hopelessly cynical ever since.

Just a Question

Many of us who opposed the war did so, in part, because we feared that destabilizing Iraq would provoke a civil war that would prove a humanitarian crisis worse than even Saddam’s regime. I wonder how American sentiment toward our role in Iraq would change if we admitted that the civil war has already begun?

Confidence Man

In the last month, Bush has given America’s highest civilian honor to George Tenet, the man who most on the right scapegoated for his “slam dunk” on Iraq intelligence. He’s nominated a petty criminal for the nation’s top security position. And he’s repeatedly emphasized his support of Donald Rumsfeld. I think we’re reaching a point when Bush’s statement of “confidence” will be read quite differently from how it’s intended.

Right Back Atya

Karen Hughes will, I assume, deny that this is the real President Bush.

Some Kind of Perspective

And then one of my Mexican students reminded us of the 1968 Olympics that were held in Mexico City, where only ten days before the games opened 267 students were gunned down and more than 1,000 were wounded during a protest at the Plaza of Three Cultures. And then two of my South Korean students told us of their government’s secret decision to send troops to Vietnam despite the public’s protest against such a move. And then one of my Chinese students, a remarkable young woman who exudes joy like no one I’ve ever known, said, “Yes. The same in China. During the Cultural Revolution.”

In Lieu of Original Content

“The people have spoken, goddamn them.”

The Long View

From Bob Woodward, we’ve learned that President Bush doesn’t give much thought to history — “History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” — but for those of us who do, the San Francisco Chronicle has put together a nice collection of statements from prominent military historians, including G. Kurt Piehler, a member of my dissertation committee.

Presidential Referendum

Not surprisingly, President Bush was at his best last night when asked about his faith and family. Ignoring for a moment the relevance of such questions in a supposed domestic policy debate that never addressed the environment, the Patriot Act, or stem cell research, those two questions allowed Bush to put aside policy (which is awfully complicated) to talk instead about feelings and relationships.

Party Politics & the Movies

Yeah, I know that Kerry’s plan for Iraq is only slightly less doomed to failure than Bush’s, and I know that Kerry’s years in the Senate have taught him too much about political compromise, but here, finally, is an honest-to-goodness, no-doubt-about-it reason to get behind the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

Still Big News

Yesterday, after weeks of bloody fighting in Najaf, The Times ran another piece on Falluja, and I’m at a lost to explain why it wasn’t front page news. In all of the sound a fury of the Sunday morning spin fests, shouldn’t someone have been talking about this?

Mr. Bush Comes to Town

It’s interesting to see how Bush’s rhetoric has evolved. While admitting — finally — that WMD have not been found, he continues to litter his speech with allusions to them, though they’ve now morphed into “weapons of mass murder,” and — in a turn of phrase that would have made Monicagate-era Clinton proud — they are now modified with the nebulous term, “capability.”

The Living Room Candidate

It’s embarrassing to admit just how effective those “morning in America” spots really were.

Pretty close

What he actually said: “In terms of this administration, we laid out the facts very clearly for the American people.”

Catchin’ Spears

I’m guessing that it’ll go something like this:

Moral Equivalence

A nice post yesterday from slacktivist.

Is It Just Me?

We Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population. For every 21 citizens of the world, only one is an American. We Americans represent less than 5% of the world’s population. For every 21 citizens of the world, only one is an American.

Looking Back

Yesterday, I found the “Peace on Earth, No War on Iraq” sign that I carried in a protest during the rush to war, and it occurred to me that I am genuinely proud of that act. It’s difficult to explain, but I know that it was absolutely the right thing to do. I guess that’s why I’m taking some comfort from quotes like these, all taken from traditionally conservative commentators

Because You Lied

Andrew Christie imagines what he would tell Dick Cheney if he were in Kerry’s shoes. I just wish that Kerry would say something. His “we need a broader international coalition and more troops” line is already wearing thin.

God Save the Queen

Joan Chittister watched Condoleezza Rice’s testimony with great interest, hoping to learn more about our government’s pre-9/11 knowledge of al-Qaeda. Instead, she was stunned by “the amount of self-congratulation spent on the fact of the testimony itself.”

Liberalism and Literature

A comment left here on Wednesday by Daniel Green led me to his blog, which in turn led me to his wonderful article, “Liberalism and Literature.” A critique of the “academic left” and of ideological criticism, in general, Green’s piece is refreshingly articulate, well-informed, and even-handed.

By the Numbers

I’ve been daydreaming lately about the upcoming Presidential debates, wondering if the eventual Democratic nominee will find the courage to really take Bush to task.

Democracy in America

De Tocqueville is near the top of my “Darren, seriously, isn’t it about time that you read this?” list. I stumbled upon this passage while reading Wendy Brown’s Politics Out of History, a provocative defense of critical theory as a potentially invigorating voice in the discourse of liberal democracy.

Moral Empathy

Jeffrey Alexander and Ron Eyerman published a great piece yesterday in Newsday (also available at Common Dreams), in which they argue that the massive economic and social changes necessary to alleviate suffering on a global scale are dependent, finally, upon change of a more fundamental and personal nature

Stuck in the Long, Hard Slog

But wish as I might, I can’t yet join the knee-jerkers, and I’m not sure why, exactly. Except that I don’t want it all to have been for nothing.

Bring ‘Em On

“When Bush landed on the aircraft carrier in that flight suit, I immediately thought, ‘From now on, just do Bush in the flight suit. Every single time.'”

This is Persecution?

So, while driving to and from Atlanta this week we heard two interviews with David Limbaugh, who is out promoting his latest book, Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity.


The “business” of health care is beyond me. Which is why I don’t typically write about our need for something like socialized medicine. But that quote has stuck with me. In our money-saturated political discourse, caring about the health of our least advantaged citizens has become a question of “altruism.”

Trying to Understand It All

I’ve become interested in Iran lately. For personal reasons. I have a new student in my ESL class who arrived recently in America by way of Switzerland and Tehran.

Incompatible with Morality?

Hitchens, a man obviously capable of higher-order thinking, looks at the Church and denounces it as incompatible with morality. I disagree completely, of course, but, watching events as they unfolded in Alabama, I can’t say that I blame him. Hitchens, a man obviously capable of higher-order thinking, looks at the Church and denounces it as incompatible with morality. I disagree completely, of course, but, watching events as they unfolded in Alabama, I can’t say that I blame him.

I Just Don’t Know

A dear friend of mine is now in parts unknown, doing the type of work that must be done if this war ever really will lead to greater peace and safety in the world. This is the last note I received from him: “I consider it a privilege to be able to serve the people of Iraq. Please pray that they will find true shalom in the coming months and years.”

F— Off, Old Europe

The arrogance of this bunch is just staggering. Tell me — is there any legitimate justification for our continued snubbing of the U.N.? I mean, other than a general, “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do” stupidity?

Theology of Empire

This weekend I received the latest issue of Sojourners, in which editor-in-chief Jim Wallis discusses the neocon move toward empire and the bad theology that Bush uses to promote it.

Vigorous Democracy

George W. Bush has turned me into a political animal, and I’m not the only one. Everywhere I go now, I find myself stepping into political discussions. Wars, dead soldiers, and budget deficits will do that to a country, I guess.

The Precision of Words

I worry when politicians denounce ambiguity, when they normalize and conventionalize concepts as mysterious as democracy and history. People die unnecessarily as a result.

Looking Back

I totally sympathize with this woman’s frustration (believe me), but to act as though the “untidiness” of post-war Iraq is a big surprise only proves your ignorance.

It Smells Like . . . Victory

I was aware of Sheen’s activism, of course — it’s near impossible not to be when he is so often demonized by the conservative media — but I’d never heard him explain so rationally and passionately his motivations.

Take Me With You, Alec

According to a recent poll, a third of the American public believes that we have already discovered WMD in Iraq. And nearly a fourth believes that Iraq actually used chemical and biological weapons during the war.

Give ‘Em Hell, Bill

“Sleep the sleep of the just” is my favorite line from Moyers’s speech. That strange metaphor — the idea that sleeping soundly somehow demonstrates moral rightness — has shown up in a few odd places lately, most notably in the frequent reports that President Bush is sleeping well despite (or, perhaps, because of) the war. Well thank God for small blessings, eh?

A Dangerous Admission

I’m slowly waking to the realization that I’m a socialist.

Christian Nation

“Christian” — if you mean by Christian what the Sermon on the Mount says — is a weighty word, and it’s serious, and, most remarkable of all, it’s full of grace. Please don’t affix that word to this country, which, for some reason, has been blessed with the delicate gift of democracy but will never deserve it.

Red Five Standing By

After describing the administration’s push for the American Services Members Protection Act, Lawrence concludes with this fun little anecdote (and by “fun” I mean horrifying).

The Agenda

Within the strange confines of my personal experience, many of the “Regular Joes” who support President Bush and his agenda seem to do so because he is pro-life and because he evidences publicly the recognizable signs of a “committed walk with God.” Within this community — this large, evangelical sub-culture — voting Republican is a “moral” act, a single gesture by which evangelicals hope to restore America to its Christian foundations.

News from the Front

Tonight, I listened to Shane Claiborne tell stories about Baghdad. He’s taller than I expected (6′ 3″, maybe) and skinnier and younger. I mean, I knew he was young, but after reading his diaries for the last few weeks I somehow expected him to carry the weight of his experience in his skin.

Kushner on Bush

Tony Kushner on President Bush and military intervention in Iraq.


I watched a fantastic installment of Frontline last night called, The Long Road to War. The first half hour was devoted to a political biography of Saddam, the second segment dealt mostly with the ’91 Gulf War, and the final bit addressed the Clinton and Dubya years.

A Bush Win?

With war now only days away (I assume), parts of the anti-war movement seem to be — and I say this with some hesitation — relishing the prospect of disaster.