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1/17/2003

 

what do the film critics know, anyway?



fox news has an article about the ever-widening gap between the tastes of film critics and movie fans. one of the examples they cite is scorsese's epic gangs of new york, which i just happened to go and see last night.

i'm standing in the men's room after the movie ended, listening in shock and horror as some trousered ape there beside me berates (in a dim, illiterate sort of way) one of the best films by an american filmmaker...well, since raging bull. "leonardo dicaprio," the old man groused to his friend. "what a joke. you really know how to pick 'em, harry. last time it was that 'rings' movie or whatever the hell you call it. everyone was saying how great that one was too. i thought it stunk." having just watched one of the most violent films i'd ever seen, it was a real chore to suppress the urge to bludgeon the philistine. he's just lucky ah didn'ah have ma shillelagh on hand.

but why the difference between critic and fan? what makes mr. snooty new york times love some artsy-fartsy french flick while my men's room acquaintance is probably lining up even now to buy tickets for rambo IV? it's ego, i think. the ape has probably never had a creative thought in his life. if he had, he'd have had a little respect for the creativity of others whether their work was to his own particular tastes or not. but then, that would have required him to be something more than a middle-aged child who dismisses that which he doesn't understand by calling it stupid. the critic is driven by the same motivations but in the opposite direction. for him it's all about trying to impress his peers, trying to guess which way the trend will go and then get ahead of it, trying to pile on the bandwagon gracefully if he misjudged, or else trying jump out of the bandwagon's way so that he can make a name for himself.

all told i probably like the ape better than the elitist: the ape, in his own way, is honest. but i wish we could find a happy medium.

locdog thinks we can have culture and taste without elitism





 

more good things to say about rome



maybe it's just friday euphoria, but man am i pleased with the vatican. their earlier mentioned defense of the english language was sorely needed and long overdue, now this.

the vatican has taken it upon itself to slap the troops back into shape, calling for catholic politicians and publications to toe the party line on abortion, euthenasia, and homosexuality. gee, what's the rush? another few years and the roman catholic church could have caught up with the episcopalians and the PCUSA.

i'm not exactly sure how to interpret this in terms of vatican politics. is this a sign of JPII's waning influence? i've laid a lot of blame at the feet of the pope recently, and drawn a lot of criticism from some of you for doing so. then again, when bad stuff happens, the pope is either directly responsible by deliberately looking the other way, or he's incapable of doing his job. whichever option one considers, the conclusion is the same: the responsibility comes down squarely upon the pope's head. but whenever something good happens, this dynamic is no longer in play. JPII might be directly responsible for crackdown, in which case he deserves praise, or he might have had nothing to do with it, in which case he deserves neither praise nor reproach. i don't really know what goes on inside of the vatican, and while this strongly worded "doctrinal note" doesn't seem like JPII's style to me, i'll give him the benefit of the doubt and thank him for a job well done.

locdog gives credit where credit is due




 

palestinians march in support of saddam



why do we call saddam "saddam" by the way? he's either "saddam" or "saddam hussein", almost never "hussein". we don't do this with any other world leaders that i can think of.

anyway, the palestinians love him. it's a sun tzu thing: they both hate israel and they both hate us. because of that, hussein (see, doesn't that just feel weird?) has supplied the palestinians with food, medical supplies, and oil, and the palestinians have supplied saddam (much better) with many an amusing evening curled up in front of the t.v. to watch mangled israeli corpses being pulled from smoldering former busses, discos, marketplaces...how our politicians can pretend to be neutral with regards to the israeli/palestinian conflict is beyond me.

locdog knows who his friends are




 

for those of you who think i never have anything good to say about rome



bravo.

locdog loves it




1/16/2003

 

"anti-choice" and "pro-abortion"



andrew sullivan doesn't shy from dissent. here he quotes a reader irked by his earlier take on a common abortion epithet

you are anti-choice when you take choice away from people, that’s just basic English. That you have a moral (or legal) basis for taking those choices away doesn’t get you out from under that basic description; that's part of where the rhetorical power of the term comes from, i.e., truth. In contrast, the left is correct to chafe against the term "pro-abortion" assigned to them by the right, because the left’s efforts do not have an increasing abortion rate as their goal, but rather the widest possible protection of an person’s autonomy as embodied in law. We can all disagree about how broad those protections should be, but the pro-choice movement is quite improperly labeled "pro-abortion."

the guy raises some interesting points, so let's get to it.

can't say i think much of reader-x's "anti-choice" defense. the "truth" he speaks of is about as feckless as truth could possibly be--by his reasoning i could correctly be branded "anti-choice" for opposing rape--and the "rhetorical power" emanates not from the pedantic, legalistically correct parsing of the phrase, but from the fact that it implies someone is attempting to rob someone else of their fundamental rights. this is by design, unless i am expected to believe that the other side adopted this phrase out of a slavish devotion to truth.

think about the phrase "anti-abortion". suits me just fine, but if i were a vehement pro-abortion activist (a correct term, as we shall soon see) i would stay away from it. why? it's too precise. it's too truthful--far more truthful than the misleading "anti-choice" could ever be. abortion, how ever a bloke may feel about it, is recognized more or less unanimously as the supreme controversy of the last few decades. so by calling a person "anti-abortion," a pro-abortion activist merely places them on the con side of a very stark ledger. "big deal," says any by-stander. "lots of people against abortion. lots of people for it. that's why it's so controversial." replace "anti-abortion" with "anti-choice" and now you've got a whole other ball game.

as far as "pro-abortion" goes, the phrase is accurate at least to the extent that "anti-choice" reaches, and then some. its truth doesn't hinge on legalistic minutiae, and it doesn't veil its rhetorical intent behind a farce of legitimacy. its appropriateness goes beyond that, though. reader-x contends that since the purpose of a "pro-choice" advocate isn't to increase the number of abortions, they are not "pro-abortion". what he doesn't bother to explain is why being "pro" something means that one automatically desires to see its numbers increase. must "pro" be quantitative in its affections? i'm pro-guns, for instance. i think guns are great. i hunt with them, protect my home with them, and find their history fascinating, but i don't personally give a damn if you buy one or not. i think you should have the right to buy one, hence i'm "pro-choice" when it comes to guns, but i'm also "pro-gun" and that is totally qualitative. it's also a lot more to the point, because, let's face it, "pro-choice" only has meaning within its given context: a person who is a priori "pro-choice" after all, is an "anarchist" and i don't think that's what the pro-abortion crowd has in mind. the reason they've adopted the pro-choice moniker then is the inverse of the reason guys like me are labeled "anti-choice", with both phrases being equally bankrupt.

it's theoretically possible for a person to be "pro-choice" and yet "anti-abortion" of course. i might find guns dangerous and contemptible but still oppose attacks on the second amendment on libertarian grounds. know many people like that? really principled people? i don't--especially when it comes to abortion. sullivan, for instance, finds it "horrifying, immoral, and wrong" but remains "very reluctantly in favor of legal first trimester abortion." fine, there's a person who's "pro-choice" in a legalistic sense (although who would no doubt shy away from the full rhetorical implications of the phrase) while being "anti-abortion". am i to believe then that andrew sullivan is the face of the "pro-choice" movement today? that the angry bra-burners who people most pro-choice rallies in actuality despise abortion and are standing on principle? they'd like us to think so, perhaps, but c'mon. "pro-choice"ers are predominantly pro-abortion. they think it's a good idea. they think it's a right, yes, but also a convenience, an indispensable tool in dealing with complex social problems, a humane solution to autism or birth defect, and (shhh, don't let this one out!) the most effective contrivance by which a woman can reject her God-given identity. it's a sacrament to these people.

that's that. and now, because i'm especially bored, here's some bonus sullivan:

Let's say you're an orthodox fundamentalist who believes that gay sex is immoral. I don't agree with you (gay sex can be moral and immoral, like all sex), but let's concede that this can be a sincere moral position. How do you get from that to saying that gays - uniquely - should be excluded from protection from hate crimes? Isn't your official position that you hate the sin, not the sinner? Isn't it wrong - on Christian grounds - to say that somehow violence against one group is less worrisome than against another? Isn't it a violation of Biblical principles to condone any bigotry accompanied by violence - bigotry not based on a position on a sexual act but on a person's simple identity? --on the contradiction between favoring hate crimes legislation for blacks while opposing it for gays

sullivan is absolutely right: a Christian (fundamentalist or otherwise) should be opposed to hate-motivated violence against all groups equally. it is as wrong to bash a homosexual as it is to drag a black man behind your pickup truck. so i don't see how a person could prima facie favor hate crimes legislation for blacks while not favoring it for homosexuals without being motivated by some sort of personal bias. i don't like the implicit comparison between being gay and being black, though, because whether or not being a homosexual is hereditary, one can still choose not to be gay as a moral decision. enter the priesthood and keep your hands to yourself--hey, maybe you'll start a trend. one can't choose not to be black--well, i guess you can if you're michael jackson, but aside from that...

my real hang-up, truth be told, is that i find the whole concept behind hate crimes legislation immoral. i'd solve the gay/black dilemma by simply scrapping these laws outright. our courts have always sought to determine malicious intent, but once that's established the matter is dropped since the flavor of the malice has always been considered secondary: if it comes up at all, it's only to establish that malice had a warm, dark place in which to grow. hate crimes legislation changes that. it says, in effect, that the motive, the intent itself, is also criminal, and punishes that along side the deed. the logical outworking of this is that someday, it will be illegal to be a bigot. fine, fine: it's hate-crimes on the slippery slope, but to be consistent with the logic must not thought crimes must follow hate crimes? that's scary stuff. and anyway, what gives the government the right to decide that being a racist is worse than being a contract killer? at least the former has principles. or why aren't serial killers "hate criminals"? they target extremely specific classes of person for some of the most heinous bloodletting. hey, they may be nuts, but there's nothing any more irrational about killing someone because they are a nurse with blond hair and size seven shoes than there is about killing someone because their penis gravitates towards an alternative orifice, is there?

locdog thinks not





1/15/2003

 

bush blowing it with north koreans



it feels like an eon ago, but if you think waaaaay back to the murky pre-history of a september 10th world, you may recall an incident in which an american "spy plane" being flown above international waters was bumped by a chinese fighter and subsequently captured. the chinese refused american requests to return the plane and instead demanded an apology. what bush should have given them instead was a single cruise missile aimed right for our plane: it's america's property, and if we can't have it, no one can. instead, he gave them their apology, telling a brutal chinese dictatorship how sorry we all are when they, as usual, were in the wrong. throughout the fiasco, the president inexplicably insisted that china's pending admittance into the world trade organization not be deterred, thus throwing away his only meaningful bargaining chip. i can remember watching bill kristol comment on the whole ordeal on one of the sunday morning news shows (i believe he was still with this week at that point). he'd concluded an honest, no b.s. assessment of bush's china blunderings with the ominous conclusion "there will be consequences." how right he was.

so far, bush's conduct with regards to the chinese could be summarized as jellyfish foreign policy: flip and flutter wherever they drag you and never, ever show a spine. is it any wonder then that the PRC-backed kim regime scorns washington's empty threats for what they are? kim may be a murderer and a liar but he's no fool. he has seen bush back down to the chinese, seen the man behind the curtain, and now that kim has called bush's bluff, bush, rather than raising the ante once more, has decided to go from waffling to utter collapse by offering the north koreans essentially the same deal jimmy carter made with them back in 1994 after weeks of swearing up and down it would never happen.

the shortsightedness of bush administration is breathtaking. i won't waste too many words in pointing out the obvious--if the '94 treaty never deterred north korea's nuclear program (and it didn't) then this one won't either. instead, i'll waste too many words pointing out the even more obvious: bush will, apparently, sacrifice anything to keep the iraq attack on track. maybe in pre-school we believed that we could conform external reality to our own personal agendas, but by the time one ascends to the presidency, one ought to have learned better. don't misunderstand: i believe wholeheartedly that saddam has got to go, and i recognize that if we don't do it, no one will. but there's an old saying that seems perfectly applicable here: the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. and law-dy! will there ever be consequences. a display of weakness such as this can only have worst possible sort, as every would-be conqueror learns two very important facts about the bush administration:

1. they keep their word so long as it is convenient for them to do so
2. they will never, under any circumstances or to any extent, cross china

so you either wait for some inconvenient timing for american, then act up, or you can befriend the chinese, or both. do this, and you have an excellent shot of getting anything you like from the president.

some GOP apologists would attempt to deflect criticism by pointing out that iraq in all probability has something to do with this. and certainly, i would not be surprised to learn that saddam hussein put kim up to his plutonium-laced saber rattling...but so what? if bush had taken earlier opportunities to put the fear of God into the chinese in the first place, the north koreans would have been far more reluctant to go along with any iraqi machinations. any way you slice it, the bottom line is that bush has proven himself a weakling as far as china is concerned and kim is taking full advantage of him. to wit, what was kim's response to bush's mealy-mouthed offering? why, he promptly and quite correctly told the president to go to hell, with pyongyang's wording being only slightly less diplomatic than my own.

did state somehow not see this one coming? kim has been demanding a non-aggression pact from the beginning. he hasn't engineered the second greatest nuclear crisis of the post-cold war era (first being india and pakistan) to settle for exactly what he left behind to start this very mess, and indeed, why should he when bush has already shown his willingness to cave before asian threats? the united states has kneeled before the kim regime, kim knows it, and he's holding out for a better deal. he'll get it. once you've made up your mind to kneel before someone, how deeply you bow is insignificant. it's that initial humiliation that's the hang-up, but once you've gotten past that, what difference does it make? my prediction: kim probably won't get his non-aggression pact (if he does, bush should be impeached) but he will get a much better deal than the one he failed to honor the first time around.

locdog doesn't like his nation being made the victim of a global extortion plot by presidential incompetence





 

screwtape called it



the following is from screwtape proposes a toast by c. s. lewis. if you aren't familiar with the whole screwtape bit, he's "a very experienced devil" who trains young tempters in the ruination of mankind. as lewis described him, his world is the inverse of ours: his black, our white. so that which screwtape wants, humanity should flee. should flee. this was written in the mid-60's, about twenty years after the original screwtape letters, an all-time classic, but is today available for purchase along side that seminal work. here, screwtape pontificates on hell's ideal approach to education.

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised. This can be done at various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing things that children used to do in their spare time. Let, them, for example, make mud pies and call it modelling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work. Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have – I believe the English already use the phrase – “parity of esteem.” An even more drastic scheme is not possible. Children who are fit to proceed to a higher class may be artificially kept back, because the others would get a trauma -- Beelzebub, what a useful word! – by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval’s attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT.

Of course, this would not follow unless all education became state education. But it will. That is part of the same movement. Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated. The removal of this class, besides linking up with the abolition of education, is, fortunately, an inevitable effect of the spirit that says I’m as good as you. This was, after all, the social group which gave to the humans the overwhelming majority of their scientists, physicians, philosophers, theologians, poets, artists, composers, architects, jurists, and administrators. If ever there were a bunch of stalks that needed their tops knocked off, it was surely they. As an English politician remarked not long ago, “A democracy does not want great men.”

locdog finds this stuff oddly familiar




1/14/2003

 

why i believe in satan



he obviously wrote the blogger code.

locdoggian QED




 

why i believe



why are you a Christian?

i'm assuming that most of my readers are Christians, but if you aren't among these then stay with anyway me because this applies to you as well.

i've been grappling with my faith lately, asking myself some tough questions. one of the questions that i keep coming back to is this one:

what one thing more than any other makes you believe the way you do?

statistically speaking, the answer to this question is heredity. as your parents believed, so shall you. if you were born in a catholic home, you are probably a catholic. if you were born an atheist, you are probably an atheist. if you were born a zoroastrian, you are probably a zoroastrian. most people will believe the way that there families have believed for generations, which points me to one overwhelming conclusion: people don't really care enough about this stuff to give it much thought.

check this out: 1 million americans have some type of cosmetic surgery every year and the trend is sky-rocketing. but throughout the nineties, percentages of americans in various denominations and faiths have remained virtually unchanged. for nearly every religion, gallup tracking showed no significant change over the last decade, with the fluctuations that did occur being mostly within the margin of error. over that same period "breast augmentation is up 476%, liposuction is up 386%, eyelid surgery is up 190% and face lifts are up 77%."

americans were born with their religious faiths and their bodies, but they would sooner change their bodies than they would their minds. could this be the result of some overwhelming national religious zeal which gives us all a fanatical loyalty to our traditional faiths? that, or apathy. you know where my money is.

so why do you believe the way that you do? do you practice the faith of your parents? if so, why? if not, why not? i'll be honest with you, with a few minor variations, i believe essentially the Christianity that was taught to me by my father. do i then believe it because it's true, or because it's what i know, because it's what i've always believed, because it's what the people who i care about the most believe?

these aren't trivial questions, and if you pause a moment to analyze yourself you'll see why. say you are a person like me, an atheist or zoroastrian or Christian, who believes (incidentally or not, we don't yet know) as your family believes. ok: why? now perhaps you openly adhere to your faith out of a sense of tradition. if so, you can stop reading now--and this includes those of you who wouldn't use those exact words, but who would say something like "i believe what i believe because it makes me happy or gives me a sense of fulfillment" or whatever, because that's basically the same thing. those of you who are left would probably respond along the lines of

"i believe as i believe because i am convinced that i am right. i've looked it over and i think that i've got the true faith."

but maybe that's only intellectual vanity. maybe you really haven’t fallen all that far from the tree, but to salve your pride you've invented or bought into an elaborate web of arguments that you tell yourself are very convincing. how do you know that this isn't the case?

you don't. that's the problem.

c. s. lewis was a formidable atheist who converted to Christianity after a grueling civil war fought within his intellect. i have no doubt that he believed as he believed because at the end of the day Christianity seemed the most reasonable course, but then, he's a convert. i'm not. i'd left the faith for a while, then i'd "converted" and rejoined, but that's more like the prodigal coming home than a prodigal establishing a permanent residence in the far country. of course, i can honestly tell you that Christianity seems like the most reasonable course to me as well. indeed, looking at other faiths, none have so loud that ring of authenticity which chimes down from the cross. but if i were to be perfectly frank with you, i don't think it's the arguments or the evidence that's really done it for me. that's all after the fact.

there's a story in the book of John about a blind man that Jesus healed. when the pharisees got a hold of the fellow, they wanted all sorts of elaborate explanations as to how this could have happened because Jesus, they were convinced, was evil. the blind man told them that he didn't know anything about all that, and that the only thing he knew for sure was that once he was blind, but now he saw. you can’t argue with that.

and so, at the end of the day, i am an existentialist. funny. i can't stand existentialism in most forms, but when i come to myself and ask why it is that i believe as i do, i find that i think back to my "conversion"--and not just the day of the conversion, but the change in my life that took place afterwards. a change that nothing else has ever produced and that i had thought nothing ever could. you see, no arguments, no matter how good, have ever been more real to me than that. i know nothing else in this universe so well as i know myself--nor can i--and i know that i am not who i was. what’s more, i can point to a definite moment in my life where that change occurred, a point where i threw open the doors to an Entity that i wasn't sure existed and told Him with all the sincerity i could muster that if He was willing to take what little i had to offer, i would oblige. He did.

i can point just as clearly to the moment, almost six months to the day, where that mystical transformation, that felt Presence, suddenly seemed to vanish, and since that time it's been a struggle. since that time i've had to grapple with arguments and evidence for real. since that time i've had to prove to myself that i wasn't nuts--which, honestly, i cannot say hasn't been more the focus of my endeavors than proving to myself that i was objectively correct. when one has undergone a powerful transformation that one's reason is utterly incapable of accounting for, insanity seems just as likely an explanation as any, and the quest for truth, at that point, takes a back seat. besides, who wants to admit they were wrong?

that's some self-absorbed soul searching there, i guess, but i guess there's no other kind. i have a hunch that you've all gone through this, or are going through it, or will, so let's muddle through together rather than pretending we each of us justin martyrs. there are a couple of things outside of myself which i find truly compelling, so i'll give those here and you can add whatever you like. these are in no particular order.

1. Good and Evil these exist. i'm sure of it. i'm sure that they exist as objective things that don't depend on your culture or current circumstance or anything like that. i'm also sure that, on some level, everyone else knows it. it's funny how much of this Good and Evil talk you heard right after 9/11. then cnn stopped calling the "hijackers" "terrorists" because "terrorist" implies a value judgment. but when the rubber hits the road, however, all this equivocating disappears. always has, always will--especially if the evil is being done to you: when good is being done to you, you seldom see it, but evil clears things up right quick. the fact that the person who perpetrates the evil doesn't think he's doing anything wrong (or, more likely, doesn't care) changes nothing. no one does something evil for evil's own sake, they do it because they seek some good from it. they just choose to focus on the good rather than on how they are getting it. that's why we have terrorists.

2. Beauty this exists. it varies according to tastes--varies wildly. but who doesn't like a sunset? there are some things that everyone seems to agree on, and those few that don't are, in some weird way, objectively wrong. a man who cannot find beauty in a sunset doesn't have a difference of opinion, he has a handicap. he suffers from a form of color-blindness or tone-deafness of the aesthetic. i don't think it's a moral failing, but it's probably a symptom of one. how many things like this there are, i do not know. for every sense there is a kind of beauty, and there is a beauty of the mind that we get dimly through poems or equations. that we each cannot appreciate them all, or that we appreciate them to varying degrees, says something about us, not about them.

3. Reality "existence exists," was how ayn rand put it. i think any Christian would have significant disagreements with rand later on down the road, but as far as the nature of the physical universe is concerned we are in complete agreement. fire really is hot. the sky really is blue. rocks really are hard. that we perceive these things in similar ways demonstrates that they have an existence independent of their observers. rand would probably say that they have an existence independent of any observer, but i never could see how that could be. someone is either defining all this stuff, or it's defining itself. quantum physicists say that both are actually going on, but only at the micro level. they're full of it. call that a gut feeling or unmitigated arrogance, but if the most elementary, foundational things of the universe are themselves irrational, then the rest of it should be as well. irrationality in the aggregate is chaos, not Nature. the universe that i see and feel is built on a foundation of rock, not sinking sand.

4. israel israel exists. where did this one come from? let me explain. ever met a philistine? a babylonian? an ammonite or amorite or hittite? now then, ever met a jew? i thought so. ditto the muslims. funny how the abrahamic peoples seemed to pull through with their cultural identity and ethnic makeup largely intact. funny how we Christians pulled through, come to think of it, when one considers the treatment we got from rome.

from these i would infer first a God, then a personal God Who intervenes in human affairs. a few tweaks and fine tunings get me to Christianity, all centering around the cross, and that would include the resurrection. any thoughts?

locdog wonders why you believe as you do




1/13/2003

 

semantics in tax cuts and iraq



don't know if any of you saw tim russert banging away at frist this weekend, but if so perhaps you caught the following not-so-subtle slight of hand:

And then this from the Brookings Institution, and this is really interesting: “More than half of dividends in recent years have gone to investors who would be unaffected by the change in taxation—pension funds, 401ks, non-profits, etc.”

So half the people already are protected. They would not get any benefit from this, and if you have a plan where two-thirds of all the benefits go to just five million taxpayers, how is that possibly going to pass Congress?


didja catch it? russert wants to know why all the wrong people are getting all the "benefits" from bush's tax cut. not why they are benefiting the most from it, which is a perfectly valid question (and one, frankly, i would love to hear debated), but why they are getting the most "benefits".

slate's william saletan adds his $0.02 worth to the cacophony from the left demanding "proof" of saddam's WMDs, going as far as to compare the united state's government's assurances that iraq yet holds chemical and/or biological weapons to the raelian's assurances that they have in fact cloned a human being:

The U.S. government keeps saying it has evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The press keeps reporting this as news, even though the government never produces the evidence. All we get are evasions, excuses, and indignant assurances. Maybe the weapons exist. Maybe the clone does, too. But let's see the goods.

maybe russert and saletan think they are doing the little people a favor by employing what they probably think of as healthy skepticism. maybe that's what they tell themselves. their masters, i think, know better.

tax cuts are not, and cannot ever be, benefits. tax cuts are the government not taking away as much of what you have earned. whether the rich are benefiting the most from these cuts or not is irrelevant because why would anyone ever need to justify not taking something that doesn't belong to them? talk of "fiscal responsibility" sounds lovely, but what fiscal responsibility really means that i, the united states government, will give my constituents as much of your money as i want to, and if you try to stop me you are being very selfish and "irresponsible". that the average american does not deeply resent the implication that the government is somehow doing someone a favor by allowing them to keep more of what they've worked for points to a cancer at the innermost level of our republic. it is quite terminal.

the united states does not, and has never, needed to prove that saddam hussein owns weapons of mass destruction. saddam hussein has owned them for a long time. he's used them. he lost a war and as part of that he had to dismantle his WMD programs and destroy his existing stockpile. the u.n. inspectors who were admitted to ensure compliance where harassed, intimidated, and finally expelled. this went on for an entire decade, and now, suddenly, the burden of proof is on the united states?

this goes beyond spin. on the one hand you have the role of government being redefined in the minds of the american people, on the other you have a bloody despot being afforded more respect than the united states government, both by something as banal as the media and over something as puerile as partisan loyalties.

locdog blames we, the unpardonably dumb american people, for allowing ourselves to be duped