Smackdown in the Rose City

So last night, the FAN Founders attended the foreign policy debate between Howard Dean and Richard Perle at the Schnitz. We'd gotten our tickets a couple of weeks ago as a kind of a pre-celebratory thing in anticipation of Dean's win of the Chairmanship.

Anyway, as you've no doubt seen/heard, it was quite the barn burner. And not just because of the shoe-throwing thing. (A few minutes into Perle's opening speech, some guy came down the to the stage and threw his shoes at Perle's head. The first one hit the curtain behind panel, the second hit podium and bounced off, then a couple of people/security guards wrestled the guy to the ground before he could try a third attempt.) Honestly, the shoe-throwing thing startled and disappointed me -- very not cool -- though I have to say I sympathized with the guy being so angry that he just wanted to throw things at Perle. I mean, this is one of the chief architects of the entire Iraq debacle, for the love Eru. Until I saw him in person, I'd scream at my television whenever he came on the screen so I can understand the urge. And I wouldn't be surprised if that guy's got a friend or loved one in Iraq, that's the kind of vibe I got from it. He was vocal, too -- shouted "motherfucking liar" so loud that we could still hear him long after they'd moved him out to the foyer and beyond.

Still, it doesn't help our cause when stuff like this happens. I don't think there's a lot of handwringing needed -- what's done is done -- but it certainly plays into "liberal wacko" stereotype the VRWC has built for us. Not that I give two shits about what the freepers think, but when you're playing to win, this kind of thing doesn't help.

Anyway, the debate moved apace. Howard was in fine form and didn't concede an inch to Perle. I have to give Perle his due -- he must've known the kind of hostile territory he was headed into (George the Elder once famously dubbed Portland "Little Beirut" because of the demonstrations that always happened during his visits...you can imagine what happens when anyone even remotely related to Junior shows their face in town). Doesn't make him any less of a nut-flavored whackjob, but still.

One of his various "points" that really got to me: that going into Iraq was like buying fire insurance for your house and that complaining about there being no WMD a year later is like complaining that your house didn't catch fire. I know. I know. This is the kind of insane clown logic we're dealing with here, people.

I've been thinking this over since last night. The thing is, this guy has totally drunk the Kool-Aid. He completely believes this shit, he's totally earnest and sincere about it. And he's a smart guy. Evil, but smart. So the work we've got ahead of us, the changes we have to make and the thinking we have to reverse...it's a really big job, folks. Not telling you anything you don't already know, of course, but there it is.

Which can be really disheartening at times. But the other part of last night is one of Dean's responses to something else Perle said last night. Perle had tried to slip in a little reframing by burning down a strawman argument about the Democrats that he'd constructed. And Dean totally called him out and busted his chops about it. He even said, this is the kind of thing we can't let the Republicans get away with and then he proceeded to kick his ass. I would've kissed that man if I'd had the opportunity.

Anyway, the night was great. Invigorating and enlightening, made us all ready to get back in the trenches and get back to work. There's a lot of work to be done, but we've got the right guy leading us. So be glad -- we'll persevere.


Those godless heathens

There's an article in The Nation today titled "Our Godless Constitution" making the very salient point that not only did the framers intend for there to be a separation between church and state, they -- and the rest of the country -- they emphatically affirmed this concept later on:

In 1797 our government concluded a 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or Barbary,' now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of the treaty contains these words:

"As the Government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

This document was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John Adams. It was then sent to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history. There is no record of debate or dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the Philadelphia Gazette and in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one might expect today.

The next time your favorite winger starts bloviating about the Christian foundation of this country, tell 'em to put the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli in their pipe and smoke it.


Happy Birthday to me!

Because the DNC knew it was my birthday and wanted to make sure it was a happy one, they did exactly what I wanted and elected Howard Dean to the Chairmanship of the Party. And thus in these dark times, I see a bright ray of hope.

It's time to throw our support behind him and get down to the business of taking the country back from the nut-flavored whack jobs currently in charge. Throw a little love their way to let them know you heartily approve of CHAIRMAN Howard Dean.

Contribution amount:

We got yer back, Howard.


A reminder

I know those of us on the left have experienced our moments of despair, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the evil* times in which we live. We and the things we' dearly care about -- all of them, from education to peace to the environment to women's rights and thousands more -- are under constant assault. And who hasn't checked out, at least for a bit, because it's just too much?

It's happened to all of us.

I hope we can help pick each other up, like soldiers on a forced march by the enemy, so that we find our strength in each other and together, fight back. We have no choice but to resist wtih everything we have.

Several things have prompted me to say this, but in particular Mathew Gross, who posted yesterday that he's quite simply exhausted by the mendacity of Bush and Co. One of his readers posted the following comment, and it seemed a good reminder to us all:

"Take heart. All empires contain the seed of their own undoing. The arrogance of this administration is that seed.


I heart Garrison Keillor

Ezra's got an intriguing idea or two for who could replace Mark Dayton in Minnesota in 2006. Either one sounds good to me. But I especially like the quote of Keillor's that he uses to make the point that our beloved Garrison has quite a gift for framing, a quality the Dems desperately need in their candidates these days:

"Medicare says that even though you're not working and may need special help with the ordinary business of life, you have value in this society. This is a Democratic idea. Be a howling right-winger if it gives you pleasure, but nonetheless milk comes from cows and Medicare comes from Democrats."
God bless that man.


Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a little bit worse

London Yank has compiled a handy list of Bush players we've seen before. Next time one of the fundies goes on and on about the righteousness of Bush et al, I do believe I'll be forwarding this on to them.

Daily Kos :: Bush's Felon Job Placement Program