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:: Monday, June 16, 2003 ::

Aargh. Brunchblogs isn't working. Hell, Brunchma is pretty iffy right now. I don't know if it's on my end or their end. I'll wait and see.
:: Twistre 5:30 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 10, 2003 ::

I'm moving. Over here.
:: Twistre 5:14 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, June 06, 2003 ::
Sometimes I wonder if Americans have such different fundamental ideals of what their country is based on and what ideals it represents, that any nationwide consensus we can build is doomed to be superficial and short-loved.

Let's look at the flag-burning amendment. The proposed amendment will almost certainly never become reality, although we will be hearing about it for a long time to come. It's the fact that so many elected officials support it that matters. I and many other people think that for a politician to support the amendment is a blatantly obvious way of gaining short-term political capital by selling something to the voters that sounds good and gives a good visceral feeling, but by doing so the politician runs completely counter to the ideals we believe the country was founded on, and hope it still represents. We tend to percieve the other side as being dumb or blind to see our side. But is that really likely?

We think our point of view is terribly obvious, and wonder about the intelligence of our elected officials and fellow voters that this proposed amendment is discussed at all. But isn't it possible that we're seeing two very different sets of perceptions about what our country is based on?
:: Twistre 8:20 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, June 04, 2003 ::
Brendan's Law of Political Punditry #1: If they can get away with it, pundits say whatever sounds satisfying to them at the time. Regardless of whether it fits reality, is relevant, or even makes sense in the current context.

I remember something a certain man said on a TV talk show at the height of the Clinton administration. The man was (and is) a fairly well-known partisan Republican political commentator, although one generally thought of as colorless and uninteresting rather than spittle-emitting and anger-provoking. He mentioned an interesting statistic about Bill Clinton: that of the people who voted in 1992 (thus maybe half of the electorate), only 43% of them voted for Clinton. He made it sound as if he believed this factoid had some sort of great signifigance concerning Clinton's legitimacy as President, and then even repeated it with the same lecturing intonation. He made absolutely no attempt to explain why this signified anything other than the fact that Clinton ran against two different guys in 1992, in a country where half the voters don't bother to vote. But hey, it must have been satisfying for him to say at the time, even if it sounds slightly foolish in light of the specifics of his guy's perfomance in 2000.

Speaking of the numbers from the 2000 election. We have all heard Demopartisans trot out the fact that Bush lost the popular vote, treating that fact as evidence that Bush's presidency (and presumably Benjamin Harrison's as well) is somehow not legitimate. Which must be very satisfying for them. But it is unfortunate, because it allows the Republipartisans the opportunity to claim their undeserved moral high ground to remind us, correctly, that the popular vote totals are completely irrelevant. (I say "undeserved," because if the situation were reversed and Gore had won the election and lost the popular vote, you can bet it would be these same Republipartisans crying foul. While the Demopartisans would be sanctimoniously preaching the benefits of the Electoral College.)

(As a quick note: Yes, there are many fascinating oddities in the Florida vote count that allow Demopartisans to build up a better case for Bush's illigitimacy. But the fact that Bush lost the popular vote nationwide is totally and completely irrelevant to the Florida vote count. And in my personal opinion, people who trot out the nationwide popular vote count to use it as evidence when arguing about Florida are severely damaging their own credibility.)

Finally, one of my favorite bits of rhetoric from the Florida situation is a perfect example of Brendan's Rule #1. It regards the infamous butterfly ballot. I heard, out of the mouths of many Republipartisans back then, all about the silliness of the Democratic case against the ballot when it had been a Democratic state official who had approved (some versions of the remark say "designed") the ballot. And much like the partisan talking head mentioned above, these people managed to make this remark sound as if it actually contained some higher meaning, even though it was completely irrelevant. So the ballot was approved by a Democrat. So what? Was the Democratic line on the ballot that it had been designed, in some smoke-filled midnight back-room session, by a bunch of chuckling cigar-smoking Republicans with minds intent on fooling confused Jewish retirees? Or was it that the ballot contained an unfortunate design error that didn't surface until Election Day? As for me, I don't find the Democratic line, that the ballot caused large numbers of Gore supporters to vote incorrectly, to be convincing. But is it too much to ask that people on both sides please say things that actually make sense in the context of the debate, instead of basically meaningless remarks that do no good except for causing some momentary satisfaction?
:: Twistre 7:17 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 ::
Having been reading the "Howard Dean is unelectable" vs. "Howard Dean is the real thing and has a real shot" back-and-forth arguing on the popular blogs, I'd like to clarify my own personal position on Dean. And I apologize if what I am about to say makes anybody's head explode.

I believe that Dean may not have the best shot at the nomination, but he is the Democrat most likely to beat Bush if nominated. But. I'm not convinced that Dean is electable for the right reasons.

Dean has attracted, and is attracting, a devoted and ever-growing following that is perplexing to Kerry, Lieberman and their ilk. But I suspect it's not because of his anti-war stance, or his "outsider" status. It's all because of the undefinable thing that I described in my post of May 29, that Bill Clinton had and Republicans hated him for, that Al Gore couldn't have if he tried, and that George W. Bush apparently has to the great perplexment of Democrats. Call it charisma, because I don't have a better word for it. It's what makes your opponents convinced that the media are pulling their punches with you.

I think Dean has this ability - the ability to have hordes of screaming teenage girls (or their Blogosphere/Punditland equivalent) show up outside his hotel and throw their metaphorical underwear at him. Except maybe for John Edwards, no other Democratic candidate in the running has it.

Is this a good thing? I don't think so. I think if Dean wins, he's not going to win on issues - he's going to win because of this unknown thing that he has. (You know, the thing that decided the 2000 election.) Dean will earn himself the unmitigated hatred of the opposition party the same way Clinton and Bush II did. Limbaugh and Coulter and their friends, overjoyed beyond reason at this wonderful turn of events, will happily turn their rhetoric at the Vermonter serving as their new target. And, of course, Dean will thoroughly enjoy it. Because that seems to be a symptom of having this thing.

Of course, I may be wrong. We may have President Gephardt in two years, which will pretty much disprove everything I wrote above. But we'll see.
:: Twistre 7:25 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, June 01, 2003 ::
I try hard not to be too partisan, but I often become aware of my prejudices concerning American politics.

Take a look at my links to the left. I like reading Oliver Willis, but the guy is without question extremely partisan. No question which political party he supports. And I'm quite certain that, were he a Republican rather than a Democrat, I would find him too annoying to read. My mind favors Democrats over Republicans, and not to implicate Willis or any other specific person, but cheap shots taken at Republicans go over better with me than similar attacks against Democrats. Even though I know how irrational I am being. (If you say "Yes, but it's okay because the Democrats are right and the Republicans are wrong," you lose.)

But it only goes so far. There are plenty of Democratic-partisan blogs out there that are just so painfully partisan and annoying that I cannot in good conscience link to them; in fact, I can't stand reading them. (I won't name names, but if you follow some of the links to the left and then click on some of their links, you may see what I am talking about.)
:: Twistre 6:58 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, May 30, 2003 ::
It seems to me that the word humorous can be used in a variety of ways when writing smug opinion pieces.

It can signify a cool detatchment on the writer's part from the absurdities of politics:

"During the humorous presidential election of 2000..."

It can show a vague dislike or disrespect for something or someone:

"Another effect of Bill Clinton's humorous administration is..."

It can even be so bizarre as to cause the reader to wonder if offense should be taken:

"After al-Qaida's humorous terrorist attacks in September 2001..."
:: Twistre 7:38 PM [+] ::

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