Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mmm . . . Fresh Asparagus
In days of old, I used to surf around blogs and news sites in the morning like a chef goes to the market, poking around amongst the produce to find something to cook up for the customers. For several reasons, I've gotten away from that in the last several months, but today is like old times. So here are some headlines and comments:

It's Election Day in Britain today.
The Labour Party is expected to hold onto its majority, albeit somewhat reduced, and that means a minimum of five more years for Tony Blair as prime minister. It's probably a good thing that prime ministers in the British system have a great deal of control over when to call elections, because if Blair had been forced to go before the voters a year or 18 months ago, when voter outrage over Iraq was at its high point, the outcome might have been far different. Of course, the Conservative Party, the main opposition, hasn't been an electoral juggernaut since Margaret Thatcher left the building. There's a third party, the Liberal Democrats (Britain's answer to the Deaniac left), but they appear to have as much chance at passing the Conservatives to become the official opposition as the Deaniac left currently has of taking control of the American Democratic Party. TPM guest blogger Kenny Baer, who lived in England for several years, has a post that sets the scene here.

Remember when Blair first took office, in 1997? He was Britain's answer to Bill Clinton, young, telegenic, and far more liberal a leader than Britain had seen in a long time. But in the runup to the Iraq war, he cast his lot with George W. Bush--a centrist Democrat sellout, British style.

We have found a witch. May we burn her? I wish I could claim that title as my own, but I stole it from a commenter to this post at Pandagon, about the decision by a judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a Virginia county's decision to forbid a Wiccan to give the invocation before a board meeting. Invocation-deliverers henceforth are to be limited to Judeo-Christian denominations only. "The Judeo-Christian tradition is, after all, not a single faith but an umbrella covering many faiths," said the judge. Yes, but not all, and the Constitution seems to clearly contravene such a ruling, making it the sort of judicial freelancing that's got the Ayatollah Robertson so up in arms. We eagerly await Robertson's thunderous condemnation of such dangerous activism.

(Insert sound of crickets chirping here.)

Red and blue make purple. I was reading something somewhere the other day about whether the blue states should just secede from the red ones and let them establish the theocracy they so badly want. The post (and I wish I could remember where I saw it) offered several reasons why secession isn't a good idea. Would we blue staters would want a bunch of religious fanatics armed with nukes on our southern border? Would we want to abandon our blue friends in red states, anywhere from 26 to 49 percent of the population in some of them? (One commenter observed that no matter what, Austin and New Orleans should remain blue, even if it required a Berlin-style airlift to keep them that way. I'd add Iowa City, too.) It's true that no place is entirely red or entirely blue--but that doesn't keep people like David Brooks and John Tierney of the New York Times from writing precious little think-pieces on the lessons of the red/blue divide. Daily Kos contributor Hunter has had enough.
They write about mainstream America, and they write about mainstream America from the view of top-tier editorial newspaper columnists sitting in the very midst of the political powerbroker class, every one invited to the correct parties and appearing regularly on the same small set of television shows, and they tell us patiently that their view from this distant closed-circuit perch is much, much more illuminating than the view from our own cars and sidewalks and porches. Because we, living in that mainstream America, don't understand.
Hunter's point is that only when you actually get out into the provinces--which Brooks and Tierney do not--do you understand just how nonsensical their supposed wisdom really is.

The mainstream media sucks again. Tierney's column was apparently sparked by the milking-a-horse joke Laura Bush told about her husband at the correspondents' dinner the other night. Best of the Blogs had an interesting thread earlier this week about the timing of the monologue, and whether it was an attempt to open up some distance between Bush and the theocrats. (BotB's links to individual posts haven't been working lately. Go to the main page and scroll down to "Open Thread: What Was Laura's Game?" from Tuesday, May 3.) It seems to me that the correspondents' dinner is a fine symbol for what's wrong with the American press--in the end, they want to be best buds with the people they cover, and the adversarial relationship that's supposed to exist between the media and the government is all just an act. Which explains a lot.

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