This well-written post (found through this local's fine blog) is awfully good in--again, as in some of the great New Yorker letters this week--pointing out that Moore's movie is inherently partisan and so what:
For the record, ["Moore's depiction of why Bush went to war is so silly and so incomprehensible that it is easily dismissed"] was also my impression of this part of the film, although at this point I don't have as much confidence dismissing even Moore's looniest-sounding ideas because the actual behavior of the Bush gang has consistently exceeded my most dire expectations on practically every front. I don't take Moore as a prophet or even as a serious political commentator, but I respect his right to express his opinion and am willing to say he's doing more good than harm even if Fahrenheit 911 isn’t exactly the film I would have made.
We live in a time when liberal values are under sustained and merciless attack. Our opponents are not interested in reasoning with us or compromising. They don't give a damn what anyone to the left of Colin Powell (if that) thinks about anything and are so convinced of their own rightness that they seize every opportunity to cut opponents out of the conversation. They lie, mislead, withhold important information, shout down and belittle critics rather than engage their ideas, and respond with dark threats when their authority is challenged. If it takes someone like Michael Moore to answer fire with fire, so be it. This is not the time to be splitting intellectual hairs, when the entire conception of the liberal state is at risk.
Every time the center-left has extended Bush and the Republicans the benefit of the doubt, from failing to vigorously contest the election outcome to the Patriot Act to the authorizing resolution on Iraq, they have been made to look like fools and dupes. Daschle and Gephardt tried to play ball after 9/11 and got rolled over. The conservatism of Democrats like Mary Landrieu, Max Cleland and Martin Frost didn't buy them a whit of slack from the Republican attack machine, which pulled out all the stops to slime and defeat them by fair means and foul.
OK, message received: this is hardball. The only principle at stake is the maintenance of conservative power in government, and toward that end, any means is permissible. Those are the ethics of our opponents. So why are liberal-leaning opinion leaders still hemming and hawing, taking Republican spin-points about Moore and "leftist rage" seriously? How many times do we have to get played before we realize that it's time to close ranks and quit giving cover to people who have no use for the least of our values?
Maybe when I have kids, they can live in a country where citizens don't need to "close ranks" against one another, but that ain't happening just yet it seems. I had a couple good, halting conversations with my Bush-voting relatives this weekend in SC, so maybe we'll get somewhere back towards the middle eventually. I remember the last time I went South, a member of my cousin's wedding party thanked me for a good talk on politics and said, "You know, I've just never talked to an intelligent Democrat before." I laughed and said the I felt the same way about Republicans. The problem, obviously, isn't intelligence, but a lack of honest, good-faith talking.
But blah blah blah, I've said this all before, I know. And as E.J. Dionne has already--and more articulately--pointed out, Americans agree on 90 percent of everything, after all. We're just tricked into arguing over our few differences.
While I'm on the subject, my personal economist pdf-ified his "How to Argue with a Conservative."
I'll just throw up a couple of these pics quick while I have a minute, and more later, I promise. (I just got back from a long weekend for the Riley and Hughes reunions, in case you're keeping track.)
Gas in the South is cheap. So are cigarettes. So is a 12-piece "Family Special" of dark chicken with four rolls:
And as I've been trying to tell everyone, we are *dangerously undersupplied* when it comes to grits around here! This is the grits section--the grits *section*!--in the Orangeburg, SC, Bi-Lo, where my grandmother used to shop:
Speaking of food, I got another can of cane syrup from my Uncle Bill for you, Jill. But... it leaked in my bag. Um, in Sean's bag. On the flight back. Sorry, Jill. Sorry, Sean.
More food, the Biddie Banquet, one of Orangeburg's best eateries, second only to the legendary Earl Duke's Barbecue:
A relative told me that Earl Duke wasn't making barbecue anymore, he was just selling sauce. This was news to me, since at last count, there were at least three "Earl Duke's Barbecue" places in or around town. I said, "So, is he franchising or something?" The reply: "No... they just say they're Earl Duke's. But... they're not."
Whoever made the barbecue I had, it was heavenly. My stepmom identified it, rightly, as part of the South Carolina state meal: Shredded pork with sweet barbecue sauce, fried chicken, pork loin (sometimes as a pinch substition for barbecue), rice with sweet pork hash, macaroni and cheese, green beans, cut corn, sliced tomatoes, and white rolls, with banana pudding over Nilla Wafers for dessert. It's mostly pictured here on my stepmom's plate, sans the meat, because she was about to explode from our generous relatives' constant feeding. Which I gladly never turned down. ("Oh, c'mon, Pawl, you have *got* to have anothuh *ham*burguh!" I love my Aunt Eleanor.)
One more set of pics TK. In the meantime, stay out of Mavis' spot (at the First Baptist Church of Orangeburg's Family Life Center):
This is Lucy (my neighbor's wee pup, who I've been walking in the afternoons), upon meeting her first horse. And her first policeman, too, I think. Maybe. Jill saw this and said, "Has there ever been a cuter puppy? Has there ever been a monitor that gets squealed at more often than mine? The last photo of giant black/white horse and tiny black/white dog. eeeee! can't... talk... cuteness... killing... meeeeeee."
Pacific Science Center, night before last, with super-freaky lights on the arches--in case you missed it. This had to be the "Festival of the Fountains," the big annual fund-raiser, where a bunch of rich people come and dance and get drunk and write checks. I remember when we all worked there in college, the best job at the Festival (helping out was compulsory) was "scullery," because while you were basically dealing with people's messy plates, you were hidden away in the back so you got to finish off leftover bottles of wine all night.
Good ol' conservative Sean and I were talking about this piece this morning by Bruce Bartlett, basically a conservative revisitation of the Clinton presidency, in the spirit of the recent, more moderately liberal revisitations of the Reagan presidency. In any case, I think Sean has the right of it:
That seems like a pretty fair assessment, especially the points on the economy. Reading that, I'd bet that Clinton's economic policy is more traditionally conservative than GW's. And even if Clinton may just have been fortunate to be president during the dot-com boom, at least he didn't screw it up. Also, the article doesn't mention welfare reform, which took a big issue away from the Republicans. No president is going to be perfect, but I'd rather an administration that makes small progress and small mistakes than big progress with big mistakes. Even if Bush is trying to make big, bold progress, it doesn't justify the big mistakes. I'm not a big fan of Kerry (or the Kerry of the past...we'll see how he reinvents himself by the convention), but either he needs to get elected or the Senate needs to swing to the Democrats. I'm rooting for a moderate Democrat president with a Republican Senate -- back to the Clinton years of smart, mediated progress.
It goes back to the whole conservatives for Kerry meme. Basically, we're not well-served when *either* party has all the power.