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.

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.

The Moviegoer (1962)

If you’re reading this in the future — say, you’ve wandered here via some poof of Google magic — you should know that if I were to turn on my television right now (now being the afternoon of September 2, 2005), I’d flip past image after image after image of destruction, violence, and misery.

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.

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.

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.”

Fahrenheit 9/11

Like millions of others, I lined up this weekend to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Pretty close

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

Friedman on Fresh Air

In case you missed it yesterday, Terry Gross’s interview with Thomas Friedman is well worth a listen. The first twenty minutes features a discussion of globalization, in general, and outsourcing to India, specifically.

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

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.”

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.

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.'”

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.

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.”

Dreaming of a 28 Hour Day

I hadn’t planned to take a four day break from blogging, but life — as it’s wont to do — keeps getting in the way. And by “life” I mostly mean Sobig viruses, network flubs, and frustrated faculty, all of which have conspired this week to make my day job unusually exhausting.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Rilke’s “The Man Watching”

Less than an hour until President Bush’s national address, and I’m too tired, too frustrated, and too stunned to think. I know that there’s not much lower on the blog food chain than posting a poem without comment, but, well, a friend sent this to me today, and it’s been a source of welcomed comfort.

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.

God Bless Norman Mailer

I’ve been a champion of Mailer’s political commentary since first reading Armies of the Night and gasping at his prescient analysis of the Cold War. Sure, he can be as subtle as a sledgehammer, but the combined weight of his experience, intelligence, and confidence strike me with a welcomed force.

American Triumphalism

I so want Bush to be the Christian President that many of my friends claim him to be, but then I read articles like this, in which he makes such ridiculous comments.

Strange Bedfellows

In Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer calls himself a member of the “Conservative Left,” which makes more and more sense to me as I spend more and more time arguing with friends about this unnecessary, but apparently inevitable, war.


I had planned to post a rambling personal narrative today, describing in minute detail my particular experiences in Saturday’s anti-war demonstrations. But when I sat down to it, the idea seemed a bit too self-indulgent, even by blog standards.

Duck and Cover

I’ve heard the soundbite hundreds of times over the years, memorizing subconsciously its particular pauses and inflections. Not until the weeks following September 11, though, did FDR’s most memorable message resonate in any meaningful ways for me.

Let America Be America Again

So, it turns out that Laura Bush just cancelled a planned poetry celebration after learning that one of the invited speakers had encouraged his colleagues to use the event as an opportunity to publicly denounce war on Iraq.

The State of the Union

A few words on Bush’s speech.

High-Stakes Testing

And by “preparing,” of course, I mean giving practice tests and working systematically (and in mind-numbing detail) through past reading samples — or, in a nutshell, equipping my students not with knowledge or repeatable skills but with the tricks of test-taking.

Hauerwas, Bush, and Alexander

After listening to me ramble incessantly, a professor recently pointed me toward Stanley Hauerwas. I now see why.

Here in the States

A friend from Canada wrote, asking what friends and neighbors in the States are feeling and saying to each other. This is how I responded.

Sick Day

An early update today because I’m at home, trying to kill a cold before it gets out of control. I hate being sick. Although I can’t really knock an opportunity to sleep late, drink coffee, and watch The Dixie Chicks: Behind the Music for the fifth time.

Miscellaneous Debris

Four random but interesting links.

Calling the Bluff

Things are getting interesting, eh? Looks like Hussein has called Bush’s bluff. This editorial is the best I’ve found. Of course, the folks in Washington and London are already voicing their doubts about Iraq’s motives, which is neither unexpected nor completely unwarranted. I realize that the Bush administration must continue to pressure both the UN […]

Wagging the Dog

In today’s Post, Dana Milbank lets leading figures from both sides decide if the Bush administration is “Wagging the Dog” in Iraq. It’s a good, well-balanced piece, and worth a read, despite being fairly predictable. (Daschle: He’s wagging the dog. Fleischer: No he isn’t.) This is the first article I’ve read that compiles all of […]

Cold War Logic

While they have succeeded (though not without difficulty) in reducing the situation to a gross dichotomy (good America vs. evil totalitarianism), they have suddenly abandoned our six-decade policy of deterrence and containment.


Two weeks ago I read a wonderful novella by Joan Didion called, Democracy (1984). Near the end, we learn that one of the main characters is an Ollie North-like agent, a guy who embraces the profit potential and moral ambiguity of international affairs.