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bush the extremist

this is why william saletan writes about, as opposed to practices, politics.

How can Kerry persuade moderates to throw out Bush? By turning the president's message against him...The problem Bush has demonstrated in office is that he has no idea how to apply his principles in a changing world. He's a big-picture guy who can't do the job.

the portrait saletan paints is a familiar one. it's the same one democrats have been painting since bush took office three years ago, and for a year prior to that during the 2000 campaign. what it boils down to is that bush is a reckless extremist who sees the world in black and white and plows through the grays to disastrous effect. daddy bush was a wimp, baby bush is a brute. it's a strategy that has met with consistent failure and will do so yet again if kerry (hopefully) takes saletan's advice.

at the risk of being a "big picture guy" myself, let's take a look at bush's poll numbers throughout his presidency. pre-9/11 he was in the low fifties job approval. post-9/11 he was pushing 90, and managed to maintain seventies throughout afghanistan and right up to iraq. with iraq and the ever-nearing presidential election, he's lost democratic supporters and is now right back where he started, polling around the fiftieth percentile. for a third-year, first-term president, that's not a half bad. it means bush has retained his conservative core and moderate republicans, as well as his share of independents and right-leaning democrats.

through all of this the democrats have been howling about those nutty extremists bush and co., and what has it gotten them? core supporters who would have jumped ship regardless in the undying hope of getting a democrat back in the white house.

if kerry plays up the more nuanced version of saletan's strategy, that bush has the right principles but has wrongly applied them, he's even worse off. nuance will do as much to change the mind of the american voter as a scalpel would to change the course of niagra falls. kerry needs big, bold swaths of primary color, not delicate dabs of grey with a sable-haired brush. didn't al gore teach democrats anything? an even bigger problem with this approach is that it hinges on disaster. kerry needs a bad economy to successfully utilize saletan's tactics, but indications are he's not going to get one. that leaves him with the awkward position of trumpeting iraqi death tolls as his only recourse.

what saletan and most democratic strategists fail to grasp is that right now, more than anything, the american people want a leader, a fixed reference point to ground them in a topsy-turvy world. it doesn't matter if they don't agree with every single facet of his implementation, it's his vision they want to trust.

and what's more, americans resent micromanagement. an american-style leader is supposed to be a big picture guy. liberals got off on gore's ability to quote chapter and verse from the federal cabbage subsidy guidelines, but the rest of us were left to wonder why the hell he hadn't found something more important to do with his time. wonks are beneath the dignity of the office of president of the united states.

if the current prognosis of economic well-being turns out to be correct, kerry is either going to have to convince people that the economy isn't as rosy as it seems, which didn't work for his archetype democratic hopefuls in the eighties, or convince them that the good times are only temporary, that bush's ballooning deficit will have the last laugh. but, as much as the democrats would like to believe otherwise, presidential elections turn on what's happening now, not what may or may not happen ten years from now (or, by the way, what may or may not have happend thirty years ago.) that being the case, kerry's best shot is to reinvent himself (shouldn't be hard) as a clinton moderate at home who's a real pulpit-pounder when it comes national defense, that is, he needs to be the next JFK--the real one, i mean.

kerry needs to sell the american people on the notion that he's going to spend every waking moment thinking up new and better ways to kill terrorists. he needs to convince them that he's the sort of guy that would charge into a burning building to save a little girl's pet kitty cat. they've got to believe that when all hell has broken loose, he won't be bogged down by considerations of french ennui and the pervasive anomie of u.n. bureaucrats disenchanted with roguish, american-brand butt whuppins. in short, he needs to convince america that he'll be a man--everything that the liberals who've emasculated the democratic party hate. don't worry, though. the granola-munchers will vote for him anyway--anything to get bush out of office--and the rest of the democrats will be delighted to have their party back.

thankfully, there's no chance kerry will pay any attention to locdog



constitutional crisis in california

the california state supreme court has upheld a law that decrees catholic charities must provide contraceptive drugs to employees if they provide other prescription drugs as well. the refusal to do so, the court determined, would constitute a "severe form of bias against women."

before i begin, i wish to point out that i am a protestant and, as such, i see nothing wrong with birth control per se. i am opposed, however, to certain contraceptives, including common birth control pills, that are designed to trigger the destruction of a fertilized human embryo--a human life in its embryonic stage--if they fail to prevent conception.

and now that i've done that, let me tell you that this is one of the scariest rulings i have ever seen. let's follow the logic of this thing:

1. birth control is not a privilege made widely available in modern times by wealth and medical science, but a fundamental right of women everywhere. by "birth control," we speak not of the ability to choose not to have children through abstinence free from threat of coercion, but of the right of all women to enjoy sexuality free from the natural consequences of such behavior, namely, pregnancy.

2. rights no longer mean "the pursuit of," but "the provision of," thus, since carefree sex is a basic women's right, there are certain entitlements due. consequentially, opting not to enable such behavior--note this very carefully: not preventing, simply opting not to enable--is a "severe form of bias against women."

3. so severe is this bias that the california state supreme court was compelled to directly and literally contradict the explicit text of the first amendment itself:


there you have it.

am i making this clear enough? the california state supreme court has ordered devout Catholics who follow the dictates of their faith by tending to the needy to violate the very tenets of that faith by providing birth control. what's more, the most widely used method of birth control, "the pill," features a powerful abortifacient mechanism designed to make the lining of the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized embryo, thereby making it a statistical certainty that in complying with this law, catholic charities will be providing abortions.

the california state supreme court has ordered Catholics to commit a mortal sin.

what recourse do the charities have? an appeal to the u.s. supreme court is being considered. at the moment, however, there is no law requiring these groups to provide prescription drug coverage for their employees. they may therefore decide to simply drop drug coverage altogether. the court suggested that they provide employees a higher salary to compensate for a prospective cancellation in drug coverage, allowing employees to find their own care.

to me, this suggestion does little to mitigate the devastating impact of the court's decision. it is entirely plausible that, a year or so from now, this same state supreme court will rule that if church weddings are to be recognized by the state, marriages must be provided without discrimination to all regardless of sexual orientation. how could the state acknowledge marriages, after all, that have been performed by an organization that tolerates such severe forms of bias? one can readily imagine the court suggesting that, if the church opts not to comply via a blanket cessation of marriage ceremonies, they could compensate by providing parishoners a map to the nearest justice of the peace along with a refund from their share of the weekly offering to cover legal fees.

locdog would encourage you to write your congressman, but the legislature no longer has any say in the structure of our society



courageous filmmaking

no, i still haven't seen the passion. had reserved seats for sunday evening but got waylaid by a cold. the tickets were non-refundable, so at least i did my part for the opening weekend tallies.

my wife and i watched the oscars last night, primarily because they looked stunning on my new HDTV (if you are of the means, i highly recommend it.) i've heard a lot of people say how sickened they were by the whole thing. all the same old faces blowing kisses to each other. a big, pretty, mutual validation club (in high def!) no need for me to rehash.

one thing struck me, though. people get lauded at these things for "courageous filmmaking." in hollywood, this means that you go and get someone else's money to shoot two hours of lunatic leftist screed to the guaranteed acclaim of your peers. this year it was that "we're going down a rabbit-hole" guy. last year it was michael moore, courageous filmmaker extraordinaire. when no american company would produce his, ah, "documentary," he bravely begged for bucks in canada and came home a winner. he boldly tells the limousine liberals in hollywood exactly what they want to hear about american culture (something they seldom experience outside of film) and, in exchange, they pat him on the head for being "courageous" and invite his slovenly self to all their glitzy after-parties. he's showered with awards and accolades, fawning talk show and magazine interviews, and universal acclaim--and, what's more, he knew it was coming. had to. because every year it's the same damn thing: find the kookiest kook of them all and make him a star. put him up on stage to rant for five minutes about bush's stinking oil war. give him a big round of applause.

over and opposed to that is mel gibson, true hero. and i mean that quite literally. you people who are saying he's in it for the money are out of your minds--and i mean that quite literally, too. this guy put up twenty million out of pocket to bring to life his own uncompromising artistic vision because no studio would touch the unedited gospels with a ten foot camera crane. marty scorsese, another hollywood-style portrait in courage, bats his eyelashes at universal and the bucks come rolling in for last temptation, a two hour exercise in blasphemy.

twenty million out of pocket to produce a movie with no stars, no distribution deal, shot in two dead languages with subtitles, and, oh by the way, content firmly entrenched in the ultra politically incorrect interpretation of the most inflammatory event in history? yeah, gibson's in it for the money. sure. if i had a nickel for every crackpot critic who's hissed gibson's cynical, barnum-esque marketing--as though abe foxman were on his payroll or something. idiots. if mel gibson wants money, folks, he goes and makes lethal weapon 19.

gibson took a stand to make a movie that meant something to him even though he knew contempt would be heaped on his head like burning coals by the hollywood establishment and the broader film community. mel knew he would be stepping on some toes, and while i don't believe he's anti-semitic in the slightest, he had to know he was going to be branded as such. after this movie, he may as well be elias kazan at the height of HUAC. think hollywood will ever apologize to mel the way they did kazan? fat chance. but gibson did it anyway. did it because he cares about art, not money. did it because he doesn't care what other people say about him, good or bad. did it because he doesn't want to be called a courageous filmmaker, he wants to be a courageous filmmaker.

locdog certainly thinks he is