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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
This Tim Graham post buttresses my point against Falwell.
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Lee Corso has a favorite saying. Not so fast, my friend! It's always good for a laugh to see the old guy grab Kirk Herbstreit by the collar and shout those words amid a screaming crowd of football fans at 8 a.m. in the morning. Today's article by Jonah Goldberg and a recent quote by Rev. Jerry Falwell (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan) remind me of the GameDay crew.

I can see Rev. Falwell in Herbie's seat, saying on Meet the Press (see this NYT article):

"Well the fact that he's a gay Republican means he should join the Democratic party."


Mark D. Roberts had a great series a while back on Christian inclusiveness, particularly as it relates to homosexuality. Dr. Roberts was talking about the church; Rev. Falwell is talking about the Republican Party. The GOP isn't even a parachurch organization or non-profit mission organization. It's dangerous, for the Church and for the GOP, to confuse the two. I think Falwell is making a far stretch in giving sole credit for GWB's reelection to the moral values campaign. Some gay Republicans still feel strongly about conservative economics and strong foreign policy. At any rate, check out Jonah today, saying, "Not so fast my friend," in this quote:

The rate and degree of societal change depend on a lot more factors than mere partisan politics. Technology, economics, culture, foreign events, demography, and for all I know the tides can play much larger roles in forcing change on society. I fear that the Republican party's success in recent years has much to do with the fact that they are perceived as a port in the storm, not the means of reversing the storm. It's entirely possible that the GOP will continue to rack up more and more victories even as society moves further and further to the left. Even Bush came out in favor of some kind of civil unions toward the end of the campaign.


That last part about civil unions is a point painfully overlooked by the values coalition. Americans voted for the GOP, not because they don't want change, but because they don't want change now. There is no guarantee that the country won't support a more liberal social agenda in ten years. I'm not saying that the GOP or conservative Christians and Jews shouldn't continue to work for the issues they care deeply about. They should simply realize that hearts and minds need to be won, not just legislative battles. If change is to come in favor of social conservatism, it will take place as much at the ballpark and grocery store as it will in Congress. If Jerry Falwell can't grasp that, then he should step aside. Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson made that point years ago in Blinded By Might. Despite some of Ed Dobson's flakiness, it's a point worth considering again.

Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan continues to be one of the most erratic minds in American politics. He rightfully takes Pat Buchanan to task, though I would argue that very few on the social right have taken sympathy with Islamo-facism. I would even suggest that Pat Buchanan is not part and parcel of the social right in the same vein as Richard Land. That said, Buchanan is at least on to something in suggesting that the fanatacism of Islamic Europe will be a serious fight for traditional Europe. I quickly regard Buchanan as a xenophobe and anti-Semite, but in that one suggestion, where's the sympathy for radical Islamists? Oh yeah, it's not there. Sullivan also links to this Christianity Today piece by Chuck Colson. Again, how does Colson's suggestion that radical Islamists might use America's libertine sexual attitudes as a recruiting tool equate with sympathy for the Islamists cause? I know, that sentence was too long. I don't know that I agree with Colson's take that conservatives support the FMA on the grounds that Al-Qeada will suffer a blow. There's a loose connection there, but Osama ain't after us because Will and Grace gets good ratings.

I think Colson is usually on the right track. I think Falwell means well, but he takes the wrong means to accomplish honorable ends. I think Sullivan is just erratic to no end. But I wish they would all examine Jonah's claims and try to further understand the forces at work in this election, and what it means for the social right in the long term.
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Monday, November 29, 2004
I just got back from Target. I needed to pick up a few things, and ice cream was on sale. (Mmmm...ice cream...) I went to Target because it is a close store; I can be in and out and back home in half an hour. The two Wal-Marts in Tuscaloosa are each roughly fifteen minutes away from my apartment; Target is simply more convenient. Glenn Reynolds talked about Target earlier today (here and here), and I figured I'd jump ino the fray.

To quote Reynolds, "I've never understood the fashionable hatred of Wal-Mart, but I've also never really liked shopping there." I second the motion. Wal-Mart has never been an asthetically pleasing store to shop; the aisles are narrow, the parking lots are messy, the color scheme is bland. I realize that asthetics don't always matter when you're buying milk and detergent. I can accept that, but Wal-Mart starts to lose the battle when Target clearly goes out of its way to maintain wide aisles, a slightly more upscale selection of merchandise and a store that's not downright filthy six days out of seven. Maybe Wal-Marts outside of the Southeast are clean and neat, but I've yet to see a store stay clean and pleasant for more than six months after its opening. Those of us with the option don't want to shop at Wal-Mart; not out of opposition to red state values or capitalism. We shop at Target because our feet don't stick to the floor while walking down the frozen food aisle.

I know National Review ran a cover story by Jay Nordlinger on the war against Wal-Mart, and Rich Lowry wrote this op-ed piece in the store's defense. Yet Wal-Mart's struggles are increasingly becoming its own. The Wal-Mart Supercenter is a massive eyesore in any community, on any highway. Shopping in one place certainly has a level of convenience, but if the financial war continues, Wal-Mart will lose to Target. Not because of red state/blue state battle, but because Wal-Mart thought we were all so gullible that we'd buy cheap blenders in a filthy warehouse.

addtional thought: Might we suggest that some conservatives, particularly non-red state pundits and wonks who haven't spent much time in flyover country, have a noble savage fixation with red America?
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College football fans will want to check out Paul Finebaum's website later this evening and listen to an interview with former Auburn coach Pat Dye. I'm an Alabama fan to the core, but Dye is an impressive man. This interview is worth a listen for any serious football fan; it nearly gave me chills.
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Hugh Hewitt's must recent post goes into the new Tom Wolfe novel, and Hugh poses a question for the blogosphere: How many modern novels have you read? He goes on to pose the question to some noted bloggers, particularly bloggers who focus on military-foreign affairs issues and theogolical matters. It's a piercing question. Mark D. Roberts responded to Hewitt's inquiry. With all due respect to Dr. Roberts, I don't find the results to be particularly impressive. I realize the life of a pastor is incredibly busy, but A Christmas Carol and To Kill a Mockingbird are the stuff of junior high school. I would say that all Christians should dig into Flannery O'Connor's work, particularly the harrowing Wise Blood.

I hope that more diverse results are found, particularly among those who would be considered leaders of the conservative Christian intelligentsia. For my own part, I'm still reading more modern novels. Authors I've found to be particularly enthralling include: Don DeLillo, David Foster Wallace, Flannery O'Connor, James Joyce, David Sedaris, Tom Wolfe and Saul Bellow. I'm doing what I can to add to that list.

Scroll down Hewitt's original post for a growing symposium on the topic.
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Sunday, November 28, 2004
I haven't yet finished listening to the new U2 album, but my earliest thought is that this is a very, very good record. It's perhaps the most Christ-haunted album by the band in twenty years. More thoughts on this later; I'm still unpacking from the weekend.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Jonah Goldberg's column today was a fantastic analysis of the role of conservatives in the broader culture. Sample this rather lengthy quote:

"But the real agenda must include an attempt to persuade. As with the so-called war on poverty, the real goal for the conservative movement should be its own obsolescence. The health of the conservative movement shouldn't be measured by the fullness of think-tank coffers and Republican seats in legislatures, but by the overall direction of the country. It seems that some right-wingers who've gotten rich off of winning shouting matches (in the minds of their fans at least) have abandoned even the hypothetical goal of persuading their opponents. Meanwhile conservatives who attempt to persuade or deal with liberal arguments on their own terms or influence events in the realm of the possible are routinely denounced as sell-outs, opportunists, approval-seekers, courtiers, or closet liberals. I may not always agree with The Weekly Standard, but that doesn't make them any less conservative."


What a simple point, yet one that is not often brandished within the conservative movement. Our goal should not be a separate conservative paper; it should be a paper that everyone can trust. Our goal should be broad influence that does not limit us to a conservative ghetto. Hugh Hewitt hammers this point home on his blog constantly, and most distinctly in his book In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition.

It's also an important point for Christians to remember. I'd go a step more, saying that's even more imperative for Christians, for obvious reasons. Broad influence is not, by default, the same thing as compromise. Remaining in a Christian or conservative ghetto increases the likelihood that we're all reduced to another special interest group, another band of ideologues and dogmatic people who demand to be rewarded after every victorious election. Conservatism will never flourish in that scenario, and Christians are called to a higher idea. See this quote from Chuck Colson, courtesy of Rooftop Blog:

"Some fear limiting ourselves to a quid pro quo relationship with Caesar. Says Charles Colson, a former Watergate insider who now heads Prison Fellowship, ‘I disassociate myself from anyone who says, ‘Now we voted for you, it’s payback time. Give us our due.’ That’s what special interest groups do, and we’re not a special interest group. We vote our conscience and what we believe is in the best general interest.”


Points well worth pondering as we proceed into the heart of the next Bush administration.
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Check out Andrew Sullivan's E-mail of the Day. I'd say this is a pretty spot-on analysis of the way the Democrats managed to screw up the campaign for John Kerry. (Warning: Foul Language Ahead)

I really think the election was won and lost on a broad range of cultural issues, not limited to the easy targets of abortion and same-sex marriage. Religious conservatives should be cautious in claiming a mandate on those points.
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Monday, November 22, 2004
I just saw Ted Rall on Hannity and Colmes. What a vile, disgusting human being.

I'm really, really enjoying the new album by Sufjan Stevens. Perhaps the best example of an artistic Christian who is not trapped in the ghetto of CCM.

A year ago tonight I saw Crooked Fingers and Azure Ray at Zydeco in Birmingham. It remains one of the best shows I've ever seen. Both bands were playing at a superb level, Azure Ray was surrounded by family in their hometown and the weather was bitterly cold. What a great night.

I sure hope Target gets their act together. Hugh Hewitt is on the case. I don't want to not shop Target, because Wal-Marts around here are messy and unacceptable. Please, Target, don't make me shop at Wal-Mart.
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Sunday, November 21, 2004
Rooftop Blog has some excellent thoughts on why Jerry Falwell is making a huge mistake.

Certainly I agree, but to me, the question for those of us Christians who are also politically conservative is this: If the old guard is, as the song said, old and in the way, how do we get them out of the way, without being cut-throat?

Any ideas? Lemme hear 'em.
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The gamblers called it out in Vegas. Auburn was going to beat Alabama. And they did, but by two points less than the predicion. It's really an amazing thing, that an Alabama team that had been railroaded by a corrupt NCAA was able to hold the number three team in the country to just 21 points, all coming in the second half. I sure hope Miles Brand is happy. Alabama's team was being held together with chewing gum and rubber bands; a depleted backfield and a third-string quartback, a banged-up offensive line and a group of linebackers playing far more snaps than are healthy. There's no point criticizing coaching right now; I am simply in awe of the effort and dedication of this football team, particularly the seniors who have seen four coaches since their recruitment in high school.

In the meantime, Cecil Hurt has thoughts on the future. Alabama is looking at a spot in the Peach Bowl, and can take some comfort in the knowledge that a close loss to Auburn may have cost the Tigers a chance to play for the National Championship.

Concerning the pathetic brawl in Detroit on Friday night, a few thoughts:

- If a guy throws a cup of ice and beer at me on the street, I'm probably not going to go after him. I might call him a name and run away like a girl, but picking fights isn't something I'm very good at it.

- Ron Artest wasn't even on the street; he was on the basketball court. There was absolutely no need for him to go into the stands. None whatsoever. He could have pointed out the fan to security. Heck, he could have stood up and called the guy a name. But he had no reason to jump into the crowd. All punishment dished out by the Detroit police and the NBA should hinge upon the fact that one ill-concieved motion by a very likely drunk fan was responded in an immature fashion by a spoiled, unstable athlete. Artest is the center of this debacle, and should be treated as such.

- NBA players are big dudes. You'd have to be either really dumb or really into the sauce to square off with one of them. Or maybe a little of both.
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Saturday, November 20, 2004
Check out Paul Finebaum's website for a great montage of classic Iron Bowl calls.
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Friday, November 19, 2004
Tuscaloosa is a madhouse right now. People all over the place, RVs for as far as you can see. Yep, it's Iron Bowl weekend. I don't care about USC/Notre Dame. You can take Ohio State/Michigan and drop it in a Great Lake. BYU/Utah? Please. This is the greatest thing in college football. Just ask Bill Curry.

Over at the Druid City Breakdown, my friend Eric G. Mann is hating on Snoop Dogg. Come on, Eric. Show a little love.

The Desperate Housewives/Terrell Owen skit from Monday Night Football has gotten a lot of hype. Tony Dungy went so far as to call it racially insensitive. I wouldn't go that far, but I see his point. Owens was certainly playing into a sexy black man, Barry White sort of stereotype. Either way, the skit was unnecessary. The game of football doesn't need this sort of thing. The antics on the field are one thing, but we don't need all the rest. Just let us watch a game with no distractions.

Say a prayer for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. His mother died yesterday morning.

Al Mohler's column today is a good one; he's talking Star Wars, Christianity, and the big difference between the two. One exception is this quote from Carl F. Henry:

"Judeo-Christian revelation has nothing in common with the category of myth."


Professors Lewis and Tolkien would no doubt take issue with such a statement.

Over at Erin O'Connor's imperative Critical Mass blog, she's talking up the new Tom Wolfe novel.

Andrew Sullivan makes a great point about Condi Rice's appointment as Secretary of State. See the second point.

More later this weekend, after the Iron Bowl. Auburn is the number three team in the country, expected to win by ten points. I'm an Alabama alum and diehard fan, but it's going to very hard for a banged up Crimson Tide to pull this one out. For all the Iron Bowl talk you need, see the invaluable Cecil Hurt at TideSports.com.

My practical side says Auburn wins 28-10, but the fan in me says Alabama wins 20-13. We shall see.

Finally, the awesome anti-Soviet movie Red Dawn is on right now. Lea Thompson is carrying a backpack made by The North Face. Nice.
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Thursday, November 18, 2004
My dryer is broken. To my knowledge, there are no local hardware stores in Tuscaloosa open past five in the evening. I can think of one store, but it's on the other end of town. So I needed to pick up a few things to try some (alas, unsuccessful) dryer repair, but there were no local stores to shop. I found myself wading through the battlefield that is parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Once inside I wandered the aisles until I found what I needed, then waited in line roughly ten minutes to use the self-checkout. Then back outside to the car, and another bout in the parking lot.

This may hurt my blue state credentials - no, wait, I've got two NPR stations on my car stereo already doing that - but I hate the Wal-Mart Supercenter. I'd rather have my wisdom teeth removed than go to Wal-Mart.

It's something I think about often. James Lileks talked about it on Monday, as there's a chain vs. local coffee shop battle in Minneapolis. We've avoided that sort of thing in Tuscaloosa thus far. There's a Starbucks on campus, but outside that it's The Crimson Cafe. Believe it or not, Tuscaloosa only has one local coffee shop. Must be a record for a large college town. There's also the Bad-Ass Coffee Company, a Hawaii-based chain that's set up shop on the Strip. The coffee's nasty and I won't buy anything else there just on a principle of opposition to tacky restaurants. The Crimson Cafe is a pretty great spot, with good coffee and good food. I'll still stop by Starbucks occasionally for the magnificent Pumpkin-Spice Latte or other drinks, but around here, I like to keep the locals in business. I wish there were more hardware stores that let me do the same.

It's a contradiction for conservatives, I think. I don't oppose chain stores or corporations on economic principles, but surely we can agree that the Wal-Marts and Home Depots and Best Buys have harmed our traditions. Or more properly, perhaps I should say we have allowed them to harm our traditions and our town institutions. Starbuck's makes good coffee. In certain situations, or when I'm in a hurry, their coffee suits me just fine. But I like to know that when I'm in Tuscaloosa, I can go to the Crimson Cafe. When I'm in Oxford, Mississippi, I can go to the Bottle Tree Bakery. Too much Starbucks, if not carefully monitored by the free market, will leave us all without a unique mark. It's a bit more difficult with other industries, I realize. And hardware stores don't gain a reputation the way record stores, bookstores and coffee shops do. I don't propose we interfere with the market, but I think there is a strong conservative argument for doing what we can - within the confines of the free market - to preserve local institutions, those shops and stores and restaurants that make each city and town unique. Supporting independent and locally owned stores isn't just a blue state value - it's a traditional value.

Speaking of blue state vs. red state, NRO's Mac Owens wrote a humdinger of an article about the joys of country music. While my own tastes are vast and varied - Miles Davis to Minor Threat, Outkast to Over the Rhine - I can proudly admit that my appreciation for country music runs deep. I think my own story is typical of the alt.country/No Deepression set: punk rock in junior high turns into Hank Williams in college. But I've gone beyond bands like Uncle Tupelo and Hank Williams to appreciate Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam. Owen's NRO piece is great reading, and I love the way in which he ties country music to its Scotch-Irish roots. One caveat, though, and I'm sure this will disappoint at least one reader: Owens claims Tanya Tucker and newcomer Gretchen Wilson to be two of his favorites. Folks, I'm a proud Southerner. I love country music and don't mind if more than a few records in my collection could be filed under "redneck." (See Coe, David Allen) But Gretchen Wilson? I always wanted National Review to speak about something other than opera, but white trash anthems like "Redneck Woman" may be too much of stretch.
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Peggy Noonan says "chill out."

Actually, her word is "shh..." But you know what I mean. Longer post, on the way. Stay tuned...
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Monday, November 15, 2004
I was a pretty big Tom Clancy fan when I was in junior high school. It was the conspiracies that intrigued me. I like film noir. I did a paper in the tenth grade on the topic of Who Killed JFK. I like reading about the CIA and smoky bars in Calcutta and shady dealings with shady men. I'll even say that I'm willing to believe a few things about the secret nature of the world. But I thought that sports might be the one part of life without a lot of conspiracy.

Of course I'm an Alabama fan, so conspiracy is the theme around town when it comes to the college athletics and the NCAA. Apparently it's the same story in Lawrence, Kansas. Jayhawks' Coach Mike Mangino accused the officials of a bad call against his team in their loss to Texas. Mangino said the call helped Texas come back to win, and helped their chances at a BCS berth, which would benefit the Big 12 conference. Maybe, maybe not, but after poor officiating costing Florida a win against Tennessee and throwing a huge roadblock in Alabama's momentum against LSU, I'm willing to believe a lot.

Believe. Key word these days. Democrats are trying to figure out what they believe, and Republicans are winning elections because they already know. But where does that leave us? Republicans believe an awful lot, and no small portion of it is uniform. As I pointed out Saturday, the rush to claim the victory is on. I had hoped that the skirmishes could wait a while, but no dice. Randy Pugh's comments about the Cheney family are more than unnecessary. They're dumb. The comments demonstrate a profound misunderstanding about the American electorate. They demonstrate an obscenely arrogant assumption that all Bush voters think the same. This is the same sort of groupthink that is currently undoing the Democrats.

Libby Sternberg struck this chord in the Weekly Standard's online edition last week. Swing voters swung for Bush on moral issues because they didn't like a naked Janet Jackson (who does, really?) and a coarse Michael Moore. They don't want Massachusetts being responsible for gay marriage in Nebraska. They probably don't want gay marriage in Nebraska at all. Yet it's reasonable to say that a great many of them don't want to berate Dick Cheney because his daughter is a lesbian. There's the morality voter who sends money to Focus on the Family, but there's also the morality voter who is still trying to figure a few things out. In 2004, they chose George W. Bush because on political - not abstract moral - levels, he wasn't an absolutist. Republicans may not be so lucky the next time around.

Remember Arnold's speech at the GOP Convention? It read like a Jeff Foxworthy skit, with its "You Might Be a Republican..." list of qualities, none of which mentioned white sheets or cross burning, incidentally. The Governor talked about how Republicans believe in a strong military, low taxes, community involvement and personal responsibility. He didn't talk about gay marriage. There's a reason for that, and it's not because Arnie has no issue there. It's because while opposition to homosexuality may be a lasting moral position, it is not always a lasting political position. We could wake up tomorrow in a country with gay marriage in every nook and cranny, but conservative economic policies would still carry weight.

That doesn't mean the party shouldn't have a stance on moral issues. Both parties do, and I'm glad to support and encourage the GOP's efforts. Christian leaders simply need to understand that is politically dangerous to build a party on what are traditionally moral issues. I say "traditionally," because I do believe our foreign policy and economic policy have a moral component, for good or for ill. This is purely anecdotal, but I'd wager that roughly a third of American voters fall into the James Dobson camp. The other third fall into the Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna camp. The other third just aren't sure, and while they'll vote for a party with conviction, they're not likely to vote for a party that carries its dogma to the point of belligerency. They're going to vote, as Americans have done since the 18th century, for the party and the candidate with whom they feel the most comfortable.

Do I like that tendency? Nope. Do I find it to be politically mature? Not for a second. I'd vote for a can of Mountain Dew if it advocated a flat tax, but then again, my roommate came home to find me watching Newt Gingrich giving a speech to GOPAC on C-Span. And there was a football game on, no less. At any rate, issues-based groups of any stripe are going to find this point irritating (Lord knows I do), but them's the facts. If Republicans - ALL Republicans - want to keep winning and slowly but surely enact conservative legislation, we need to continue to find innovative ways to deal with the situation on the ground.
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Saturday, November 13, 2004
Osama's in North Carolina?!?
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It's Saturday, so instead of a long post, here's a list of interesting links.

Todays Auburn vs. Georgia game is a huge game, not just in the SEC but in the entire country. Paul Finebaum talks about the importance of an Auburn win.

I've talked before about the looming Republican civil war. Andrew Sullivan singles out one instance that reinforces the idea. See the second quote.

Free speech is under assault at my alma mater, the University of Alabama. Erin O'Connor has the details.

Apparently my spelling hasn't been good as of late. I'll do my best to make it better. Alright? Good. I'm glad we've got an understanding.
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Friday, November 12, 2004
We have this problem in the South. It's not racism or sexism or fundamentalism. It's not even Auburn fans. It's the humidity. It was here before time began. It won't leave. Not even now, in mid-November. You haven't lived until you've walked out of your grandparent's house on Thanksgiving Day, and the air has all the charming qualities of a post-Super Bowl lockerroom.

Speaking of hot air, David Poland is jumping to Michael Moore's defense. (HT: Looking Closer) Poland suggests that Moore has lost perspective on his journey. If by "lost perspective" he means "was born," then I think he might be on to something. Check this out:

I would argue that Moore lost perspective in his journey. I would argue that his anger got the best of him in the rush to get Fahrenheit 9/11 completed and into theaters in time to make an impact. And I would argue that the embrace of his film, which still stands as a political finger wagging instead of a film of thought and insight as his other films have been, emboldened him to go further and further down the road of excess.


Rubbish, I say. Michael Moore's first job was at the Nation. That should tell you he's not a fan of Barry Goldwater. I'm not calling Moore out for his liberalism, but the fact that he is liberal might - might - suggest an agenda. But let's forget even that. What Poland doesn't acknowledge is that Moore has a history of deceit going back to Roger & Me. That's nearly two decades of half-truths and mischaracterizations. The Right can handle liberals. We can't tolerate liars.

I'm not trying to smear all liberals, though it would hardly be without just cause. Moore has been a unique phenomenon. And not just talking about the two acres of cotton used to make the tuxedo he wore at the 2003 Oscar's. He has always sided with anti-American causes. He has never backed an American war in his lifetime. The noble savages are good; the civilized Americans are war-mongering fools. Corporations bad. Socialization good. It's been his M.O. for twenty years. If Poland or anyone else doesn't see this, it's outright refusal to suggest that someone might be a liberal. I guess that crowd is afraid to be in the same boat as Rush Limbaugh. But impartiality in the battle between multicultural wishy-washy-ness and the resolute belief that Western values are actually better than the cesspool of intolerance and hatred that permeates the Middle East and Central Asia is an increasingly difficult to maintain. The murder of Theo Van Gogh should be a clarion call.

Then again, the murder of Pim Fortuyn should have been as well.
And September 11.
And Madrid 3/11.
And the Bali bombings.
And Beslan.
And Nick Berg.
And the April attacks in Fallujah.
And Tehran.
And the USS Cole.
And the first WTC attack.
And the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.
And the Berlin disco bombing.
And the Israeli Olympic murders.
And every single old man and little kid in Jerusalem missing an arm or leg or mom or dad or son or daughter or those who were blown to bits in the street by a fasict punk should drive home the point that there is no fence-straddling.

Makes you wonder if some people will ever get it.

You start to think they might not want to.
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Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Soundtrack for this update is Steve Earle. Tonight promises fine pizza and good company, so let's get to it.

Our California friend Rick is composing a symposium of sorts on the Arlen Specter debate. I suppose on this end I should pull out a copy of The Clash's Combat Rock, and pretend Specter's singing "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Anyway. I've come to the conclusion that I don't have much of an opinion on the matter. Call me undecided. Hey, I'm a swing voter! I jumped on the Dump-Specter bandwagon over at Rick's a few days ago, but I'm becoming increasingly ambivalent on the whole topic. See this thread for the goods. Since running my mouth on the topic, I've backed off slightly.

I back off on this principle: we should not upend Senate traditions and practices over a potential issue. I say potential, because life with Specter as Chairman hasn't even begun. Maybe all of conservatism is saying "Watch it, Bub," to Arlen, but I suppose there's no sense in upsetting the applecart at this point. However, I think it is somewhat naive to assume that Specter is really one of the good guys. Hint: he's not. The Bush administration would be foolish to trust the man any further than they could throw him. I don't imagine that Specter will be a particularly good Chairman, but I'll concede to Hugh Hewitt's point. The pro-life movement should back off, and work at the grassroots level if overturning Roe v. Wade is the ultimate goal. I will say that my concern wasn't so much the abortion issue; it was the overall moderate stance of Specter. Maybe I'm too ambivalent about abortion. I don't think I am, but like the rest of the keep Specter crowd, I realize that abortion may not be popular, but most folks want it legal. Forcing the issue this early into the Bush administration probably isn't the wisest course.

Specter's a rascal, but heck - he's our rascal. Keep the old man happy for now, but keep him on a very short leash.

Ok, scratch the opening lines. I'm not listening to Steve Earle anymore. The Winamp playlist has sent me to Janis Joplin to Bob Dylan to Radiohead to the Walkmen. And I guess I'm not a swing voter. I'm now in the keep Specter camp. It's a nice place. Everyone's from California, apparently, what with Rick and Hugh and all. Even Matt Feliska is from Arizona. Fun and sun and Arlen Specter. God bless the blogosphere.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Overhead in the bookstore, about an hour ago. Two people talking, young black man and young black woman, about Jerusalem.

Man: "I don't care if they are over there shooting, I want to see it, to walk the streets."

Woman: "Uh-huh. Me and my family talk about it all the time."

I spent an hour or so in the store. Saw the new Tom Wolfe novel. Note to self: buy the book. Nothing in the store by William F. Buckley or Norman Podhoretz. Unacceptable. Annoying Christmas music is in full effect, and it's just the first week of November. What is this world coming to? I head over to the magazine rack. I end up going home with the most recent issues of Newsweek, National Review and First Things.

Briefly peruse the new issue of The Christian Century. Nice articles about humanitarian work; boring, liberal, "progressive" politics. Full page ad by John Shelby Spong. They should rename the magainze The Postmoderns Who Go To Dead Mainline Church Century. It's got a nice ring to it, don't you think? Browse through the new issue Relevant. Rapper Mase is on the cover. I don't want to doubt the guy's faith, but this has the whole "MC Hammer gets saved" schtick written all over it. The rest of the magazine isn't much better. Lots of talk about how God isn't a Republican or a Democrat. Full-page ad from Sojourners. I just love these groups of Christians who refuse labels of conservative or liberal. If groups like Sojourners ever managed a truly impartial, nonpartisan existence, I might be on board. Typically, though, a group that refuses to be labeled is just ashamed of being liberal. Remember O'Sullivan's rule. The rest of the magazine is pretty bland tripe. Look at us! We have tattoos and piercings and we love Jesus! We listen to the Roots and the Shins! See, we're relevant? Get it? No, you're not relevant. You're boring.

While the Beltway sorts out the meaning of the values voter, Christopher Hitchens is praising the secular triumphs of the President. Of course, Hitchens is an avowed atheist, but his praise of Bush speaks volumes about the President's good intentions. The failure of the Left to rise up against the bin Ladens and Zawahiris of the world is proof enough that the emperor is wearing no clothes. Even worse, the Emperor is a morbidly obese Michael Moore and grotesquely skinny Noam Chomsky. And I don't even dare suggest that Susan Sontag is an Empress. I digress. Hitchens lays it all out here:

"Suicide murderers in Palestine—disowned and denounced by the new leader of the PLO—described as the victims of "despair." The forces of al-Qaida and the Taliban represented as misguided spokespeople for antiglobalization. The blood-maddened thugs in Iraq, who would rather bring down the roof on a suffering people than allow them to vote, pictured prettily as "insurgents" or even, by Michael Moore, as the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers. If this is liberal secularism, I'll take a modest, God-fearing, deer-hunting Baptist from Kentucky every time, as long as he didn't want to impose his principles on me (which our Constitution forbids him to do)."


Perhaps the thin-skinned editors of the Christian Century and Relevant could take a lesson or two from Hitchens. The again, he's a smoker. That might offend their progressive sensiblities.
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Monday, November 08, 2004
Fall finally decided to show in Tuscaloosa, and so did a sore throat. So now we're blogging with peach tea and Belle & Sebastian. The ballyhoo is all about values and morals and gay marriage and the election is it not? Well, look, there's a huge chunk of people in this country who are not - no ifs, ands or buts - going to vote for a pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage candidate. That's just the truth, and no amount of universal health care is going to change the minds of those voters. You'll find most of them at church on Sunday morning, if you haven't heard. It's called voting beyond your pocketbook. If Democrats come to understand this notion, they might be able to win more elections than the New Olreans Saints win football games.


The rest of the Bush voters? Well, they feel betrayed. Not betrayed by John Kerry or John Edwards. They feel betrayed by Clark W. Griswold. A huge chunk of this country developed an emotional bond with George W. Bush. People saw him after September 11 and thought "this guy really cares." That may seem foolish to you, but you probably have a subscription to the Nation and find Al Franken to be entertaining. No, America fell for the President and it wasn't the work of the ZIONIST NEOCON CONSPIRACY. And when we saw lovable Chevy Chase join in the chorus calling the President a buffoon and a moron, it was over. When those cute little Dixie Chicks went overseas to talk about how awful the President was, it was curtains for Kerry. And Whoopi Goldberg and Pearl Jam? Well, if it were 1994, people might care.

Art doesn't have to be seperate from politics. It's not inherently wrong, but don't try to fool me. Don't come into my living room every December and tell me to have the hap-happiest Christmas since...well, you know...and then try to run off my President. It's disingenuous. And by the way, I love Christmas Vacation and all that, but Chevy, Godard you ain't. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. You too, Whoopi. I sure hope those Slim-Fast ads paid you well; I doubt you'll be getting any work beyond that anytime soon.

The word values is not an evangelical code word for "gay." And the minute some guy with bad hair and an ugly tie tries to make it so, I'm off the team. No, values is more than that. It means that Janet Jackson's chest stays covered up if she's on television. Desperate Housewives may win in the ratings, but that kind of life doesn't win at the PTA meeting. It means that you don't brag about being an altar boy, especially if you're more than a year or two removed from the playground. Red-state culture doesn't brag about church or hunting or fishing or football. It just is. Kerry's life was telegraphed by every working man and woman from Pittsburgh to Pheonix. If the Dixie Chicks and Chevy Chase didn't sway you, then John Kerry, the Goose Hunter and African-American churchgoer, sure did.



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Sunday, November 07, 2004
Concerning my last post, I was in no way defending Yasser Arafat. I haven't been accused of that, either; I'm just clarifying. I have no doubt that barring some immediate deathbed conversion he'll spend eternity roasting while forced to watch Milli Vanilli videos. I was simply acknowledging that our glee at his death should be muted. Our silence at his passing should speak volumes. We praise the passing of saints and heroes. We should merely not the passing of such vermin as Arafat; our lack of accolades is condemnation enough.
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Friday, November 05, 2004
At the brake shop this morning, the television is turned to Fox News. Someone is talking about Yasser Arafat. Two old-timers are talking it up.

"I think that fella's gonna die."

"He better git right with the Lord."

"Too late for that. He's in a coma."

I kept reading my book, scarcely looking up. I was at roughly page thirty-five of Seize the Day. Bellow is simply amazing. One of the old gentleman took his key s and left; the other read a hunting magazine.

So Yasser Arafat is on his way to eternity. Of course we all are on our way. His journey is likely to end somewhat sooner. I doubt very much that he will encounter seventy-two eager virgins upon his arrival. His death will in many ways be a good thing, forcing the Palestinian people to reevaluate their goals and ambitions and leaders. It's doubtful that such soul-searching will occur without a hefty amount of bloodshed.

Still it would be wrong to gloat and cheer for Arafat's death. Recall Tolkien's words:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.

It is a sobering thought. The man is a thug and a murderer and a coward. The irony that he will die as a feeble man in a bed, as opposed to a brave warrior, is not lost on me. Still Tolkien's words ring true. We shall criticize Arafat's actions in life, for they were reprehensible. Yet when he comes to death's door, we stand aside and watch him make that journey alone, without either condemnation or praise. At that point our owns words are meaningless. More on such matters will be said, by Someone far greater than you and me.
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Thursday, November 04, 2004
The weather finally became seasonable in Alabama today, just as the dust is starting to settled on this election. The more I think about it, the more I realize what a tremendous butt-kicking was served to the Democrats on Tuesday. More on that in a minute. I should say that further reflection has also shown the graciousness and dignity in Senator Kerry's concession speech. His language was moving and his emotions where genuine. I hope he continues in that path from here on out, sticking to his principles - such as they are - and yet demonstrating an amicable spirit. Jay Nordlinger makes further points in his column this morning. Senator Edwards, on the other hand, was downright shameless. Everyone knows he plans a run for the Presidency in '08, but the laundry list of downtrodden focus groups can wait a few weeks. Today we learn that his wife has breast cancer. So despite my political disagreements, and they are indeed many, I offer up a prayer for his wife's safe recovery.

There's a lot to be said about how and why W won in such convincing fashion. I still think that the bulk of this country voted their concerns in the war on terror. Yet it's becoming increasingly obvious that values played a major role. Not homsexuality, Andrew. Values. Al Mohler talks it up on his column this morning. It's not about homosexuality. It's about religion:

Religious faith--and Christian faith in particular--is the most effective predictor of red and blue identity. As the Harwood and Schlesinger research indicated, churchgoers voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush, with the rate of church attendance being the single most effective predictor of a vote for the Republican candidate.

It's really simple. Evangelicals will not vote for an ardently pro-choice candidate. Rural and suburban voters, the suburban voters often being one generation away from the rural areas, just aren't going to vote for a guy who needs to go geese hunting to show his credentials. No matter how many people watch Will & Grace, a huge chunk of this country doesn't live that way. Most of America lives in this middle world, where we shop at J. Crew and Pottery Barn occasionally. We go to church. We watch college football. We might watch Friends or Will & Grace, but we probably don't live like Monica and Chandler. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'm more than willing to talk about legal arrangements for gay couples, but I darn sure don't want gay marriage imposed on Alabama by an unelected judge. I don't hunt, but I know a boatload of folks who do. I saw right through Senator Kerry's talk about crawling around to deer hunt. I like Bruce Sprinsteen, but I don't want him telling me how to vote. Bon Jovi was lame in 1989. He ain't much better now. And Senator, write this down. Take a little note. Whoopi Goldberg is not the heart and soul of America.

Someone could write a book about this. If this blog thing pans out, I just might. We're not lock-step Baptist-Nazis waiting to send the homos off to Pentecostal camp. We don't demand that our President know the history of NASCAR. Lord knows I don't. Wait, yes I do. But we do not want to be catered to. Our beliefs exist from our own American culture and our Christian faith. We didn't vote for George W. Bush because he became like us. We voted for him because he is like us. Truth be told, a lot of us voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore because they both did a pretty good job of leading us to believe that they were, too.

Learn it, Democrats. Understand it. America is more than Manhattan and Georgetown and Beacon Hill and Berkeley. It's more than Austin and Boulder. It's Birmingham and Kansas City and Denver and yes, heaven help them, Knoxville. Understand what life is like out there. Watch a movie like Friday Night Lights. Read a book on Christianity. I'd start with Ravi Zacharias or John Maxwell or Max Lucado. Listen to some country music. Except Daryl Worley. He's terrible. Know that I paraphrased George Strait in the paragraph above. Spend a July week in Destin or Gulf Shores. Spend a weekend in Tuscaloosa or Oxford. Go to a football game. It ain't hard folks. Just understand us. Adjust yourselves accordingly, and you might win a seat in the Senate back sometime in the next two decades.

But I'm not holding my breath.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Sanity has won the day. GWB is back for four more years. Thank goodness. A few quick remarks:
- John Kerry's speech was extremely gracious
- John Edwards' was most certainly not
- W sounded good
- the entire Cheney family was present at the victory party

So now what? We're two years away from dealing with another election. I'm looking forward to a mild break. Questions abound, though. Do the Dems go crazy or return to the center? Will social conservatives place greater demands on the President, or will they fight for a cause and allow the politics to run their course?

I must say, however, that I'm slightly disappoined that I won't have four years of Teresa to discuss. Oh how rich it would be.

And now everyone relax. For a few days, it's all over. Myself, I'm resigning to the couch with a copy of Saul Bellow's Seize the Day. I'll rest knowing that my guy won, and for a little while, all is right with the world.
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Over at Fox, Juan Williams is suggesting that Kerry challenge results because his supporters want to win; they've got too much invested in this campaign to let it go this soon. Fred Barnes is righteously irritated. This is a pathetic excuse on Williams' part, and Barnes was justified in his irritation.

Get a grip, Juan.
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One a.m. central time. Ohio has been called for W, except for CBS and ABC and CNN. Rather and Woodruff look like their puppies were just hit by a garbage truck. Bill Kristol is having trouble restraining his glee. W. has won the popular vote. Kerry does his party and his legacy great harm if he does not concede within the next twenty-four hours. W. looks to win New Mexico as well. Iowa and Wisconsin are close, too.

So long Senator Kerry. Hello four more years of W. Let's dig in and get to the hard work. Right now I'm going to bed. Good night world. We'll see you tomorrow.

By the by, drop me an e-mail. Let me know if you're reading. It's greatly appreciated.
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Third update. The exit polls are bunk, apparently. Shocked? Hardly. So long, MSM. It was a nice run. Enjoy retirement. I'm bored. I don't have inside dirt, no Middle Cheese, no Obi-Wan to consult. I'm going back and forth between cable news, the mid-major football game on ESPN2 and CMT's rerun of the 40 Greatest Men in Country Music. Someone in the campaign should call me. I'll post the news and won't rat you out. Seriously, though. I wonder who's resonsible for the debacle that is the exit polling data. Dan Rather, probably. Even if it isn't, I can still blame him, can't I? His career is almost over, anyway.
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Since last post, I've gone to eat dinner at Eric G. Mann's place and watch some election results. Typical so far. Bush wins expected, same with Kerry. I notice that Republicans and conservative pundits tend to have good ties. Nothing flashy. Repp stripes, very traditional. Russell Kirk would be pleased. Why can't Mississippi be called for W.? Then again, why can't Mississippi do a lot of things. Susan Estritch got rather snarky with Brit Hume. The old tart is quite is a fireball. Local coverage is abhorrent. Birmingham has sent live reporters to D.C. Not to sound haughty, but I think "lame" would be right word.

Locally, Richard Shelby was re-elected to the Senate. Bravo.

Other than that, we're bored at the moment, what with all this too close to call nonsense. I'm watching football at the moment. We'll check back in shortly.
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So here's the beginning of my election night "coverage."

I won't bother covering my workday. Lots of errand-running and election talk. I left just before five and made it to my polling place. Local Methodist church - new buildings. Very nice. Very Methodist. I approve. Voting was easy. I was not required to show my ID, though I was asked to present my voter registration notice. Lots of old folks working the polls; they were quite nice. Voted straight GOP and then on a few amendments of Alabama's crooked constitution. Speak of the devil, I was asked to sign a petition on my out, calling for a constitutional convention to write a new document for the state. I said yes, because the convention would be kept seperate from the nefarious state legislature. As I left, I noticed a Kerry/Edwards yard sign on what appearred to be church property. Not cool.

Came home. I have thus resisted all but a brief glimpse at the news and the blogosphere. I started some laundry. Fixed dinner. Ate two bites. Spaghetti sauce must have been bad. Threw dinner away. Watched Sportscenter. Now drinking Milo's Sweet Tea and watching a Simpsons rerun. Full-on election coverage will begin shortly.

Stick around, yo.
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Monday, November 01, 2004
One final post before the voting begins. I'll be updating tomorrow night during the election returns. Expect updates randomly, but on target. Make sense? No, I didn't think so.

I've been asked for a prediction. I'm not good with this sort of thing, but here's my best guess. GWB is re-elected with electoral votes numbering between 290-310. Bold? Maybe, but that's my take. (post corrected - my prediction had previously read 209-310. -M.)

Finally, read this Guardian article about Tom Wolfe. Money quote:

"I think support for Bush is about not wanting to be led by East-coast pretensions. It is about not wanting to be led by people who are forever trying to force their twisted sense of morality onto us, which is a non-morality. That is constantly done, and there is real resentment. Support for Bush is about resentment in the so-called 'red states' - a confusing term to Guardian readers, I agree - which here means, literally, middle America. I come from one of those states myself, Virginia. It's the same resentment, indeed, as that against your own newspaper when it sent emails targeting individuals in an American county."

That's all for now, folks. See you in twenty-four.
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