Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Friday, August 25th, 2006.


The Canada Bugaboo

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Health Care

Ezra Klein addresses the rightie myth that American liberals consider Canada’s single-payer health care system to the best in the world. I’ve observed this same phenomenon, which is more evidence that righties have no idea what we lefties really think.

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Why I Hate Righties

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Bush Administration

There’s some chatter about this CBS story, in which the reporter asks New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin about the slowness of Katrina cleanup. The Mayor replies, “That’s alright. You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair.”

Yeah, it was a dumb remark, especially since (as I blogged here) comparing Katrina to 9/11 is comparing apples to oranges.

But that’s not what pissed me off this morning. What pissed me off was what this rightie said (via Daou Report):

What an idiot.

Then again, he’s treating Ground Zero with the same respect the rest of the Left does. It ain’t nothing but a hole in the ground to them.

I’d like this jerk to come to New York City and tell the solid majority of lefties who live here that Ground Zero “ain’t nothing but a hole in the ground to them.” I’m sure he’d get some interesting feedback.

I wrote awhile back about 9/11 being an entirely different experience for eyewitnesses and survivors than it was for people who only watched on television. And if you haven’t read John Homans brilliant essay in New York magazine, “The Long Funeral,” be sure to do so. Homans writes,

New Yorkers tended to want to keep 9/11 (“it happened to us”) for their own, but no one believed that could happen. The grief culture this country has lived in for the past five years began in those spontaneous shrines, but it didn’t end there. Before the week was out, many different interests had moved in to stake their claims on its meaning.

Among those “interests” are righties like the jerk quoted above, who assume Ground Zero belongs exclusively to them. As James Wolcott wrote,

I’m amused, amazed, and annoyed that bloggers thousands of miles away from the actual death and destruction chide the rest of us for “not getting it” and wanting to bury our heads in the sandtrap when, as Sir Lancelot notes, New Yorkers themselves have a saner, wider, calmer perspective as the years pass. And unlike so many of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders, New Yorkers don’t have the luxury of or inclination to demonize Arabs and Muslims and hat-tip Michelle Malkin or run sceered every time a couple of Them materialize in our visual field. Every time we step into a cab or enter a store, there’s a good chance that the driver or manager may be Pakistani or Iranian or Iraqi or Palestinian and they don’t represent the Other, they’re fellow New Yorkers, we all have get on each nerves here as best we can, and if we wanted to hang around nothing but white people concerned about their car insurance and those noisy skateboarders who have no respect for private property we never would have moved here in the first place.

“Sir Lancelot” is Lance Mannion, whose blog post on righties and fear is a must-read. Be sure to catch the conclusion.

Back to Homans, and why the Right’s alleged “respect” for Ground Zero is a sham.

Bush and his administration quickly swooped down to scoop up the largest part of the 9/11 legacy. The justified fear and rage and woundedness and sense of victimhood infantilized our political culture. The daddy state was born, with attendant sky-high approval ratings. And for many, the scale of the provocation seemed to demand similarly spectacular responses—a specious tactical argument, based as it was on the emotional power of 9/11, rather than any rearrangement of strategic realities.

Of course, the marriage of the ultimate baby-down-a-well media spectacle with good old American foreign-policy adventurism was brokered by Karl Rove, who decreed that George Bush would become a war president, indefinitely.

The final military takeover of Manhattan was the Republican convention in August of 2004, with nary an unscripted moment. In the convention’s terms, New York was less a place than a stage set for a sort of 9/11 puppet show.

The memory of 9/11 continues to stoke a weepy sense of American victimhood, and victimhood, as used by both left and right, is a powerful political force. As the dog whisperer can tell you, strength and woundedness together are a dangerous combination. Now, 9/11 has allowed American victim politics to be writ larger than ever, across the globe. When someone from Tulsa, for example, says, “It’s important to remember 9/11 every day,” what he means is, “We were attacked, we are the aggrieved victims, we are justified.” But if we were victims then, we are less so now. This distorted sense of American weakness is weirdly mirrored in the woundedness and shame that motivate our adversaries. In our current tragicomedy of Daddy-knows-best, it’s a national neurosis, a perpetual childhood.

“The country has made a mess of our grieving,” Homans concludes. Exactly.

Homans also describes the squabbling over what to do with the now-vacant space in lower Manhattan. The early plans were all either ugly, or too grandiose, or too plain, and even among the victims’ families there is no consensus about what should be done to memorialize September 11. Any idea anyone comes up with is quickly vetoed by someone else. And the fact is that no physical memorial could do justice to what September 11 became to the nation even before the dust had settled.

For that reason I wish we could put aside all plans and leave the site alone for another five years, or at least until such time that Washington politicians have stopped using September 11 as a one-size-fits-all rationalization for whatever they want to do. By then our perspective will have shrunk down to a manageable size.

Update: Avedon has another reason to hate righties — see her comments on this example of stupidity.

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Mean Jean, Fast Woman?

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Congress, elections, Republican Party

Former maha next-door-neighbor “Mean” Jean Schmidt, now a U.S. Congresswoman from Ohio, is being called out for possibly making false claims about how fast she can run a marathon. Matt Leingang writes for the Associated Press:

Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt is fast, capable of running a marathon in 3 hours, 19 minutes, 6 seconds.

At least that’s what a photo on the Ohio congresswoman’s Web site shows.

No way, says a rival who contends that the picture from the 1993 Columbus Marathon is doctored and complained to state election officials. A four-member commission panel ruled Thursday that there was enough evidence to look into the complaint.

Nathan Noy, who is running against Schmidt as a write-in candidate, says that Ms. Schmidt was the only runner in the photo who doesn’t cast a shadow. (Here’s the photo; seems to me one of the shadows could be hers.) Also, a newspaper story about the race does not list Schmidt among the top runners. Schmidt’s attorney says he has an official results book from the race that shows Schmidt’s official time as 3:19:09. (Read more about Noy’s allegations here.)

On her Web site, Schmidt, who is 54, said she has completed 59 marathons.

Now she’s saying 60 marathons since 1990. I seem to recall she was running marathons when I knew her 25 years ago, and I don’t think the photo was faked, so I’d be surprised if anything comes of this. However,

In April, she received a public reprimand from the Ohio Elections Commission for claiming on her Web site that she had two college degrees when she had only one.

She was doing good to get the one. A brain she’s not.

And then there was the famous Danny Bubp episode. As reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Three days after Rep. Jean Schmidt was booed off the House floor for saying that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do,” the Ohioan she quoted disputed the comments.

Danny Bubp, a freshman state representative who is a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve, told The Enquirer that he never mentioned Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., by name when talking with Schmidt, and he would never call a fellow Marine a coward. …

… Schmidt – decked out in a red-white-and-blue suit that resembled the U.S. flag – went to the floor and quoted from a telephone conversation with Bubp: “He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course.

“He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: That cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

The comment drew a chorus of boos and shouting from Democrats.

It’s unclear whether Schmidt, who will start her 79th day in the House today, knew at the time of her remarks that Murtha had served 37 years in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve.

She immediately took back her remarks. It’s against House rules to refer to a fellow lawmaker by name or to criticize them.

Another Enquirer story said Schmidt’s constituents were embarrassed by the “coward” remarks. On the other hand, Schmidt “got a round of applause at a recent closed-door meeting of House Republicans. She’s even gotten several marriage proposals.”

There are some sick people out there, folks.

Jean barely squeaked by a Republican challenger in this spring’s primaries. Her Democratic opponent in the general election is Dr. Victoria Wulsin. I’m a bit put out that the netroots guys who organize these things didn’t crank up netroots support for Dr. Wulsin, who clearly would be a huge improvement. More here. But she’s not on the Official Netroots Act Blue page.

If you want to help her out, here is Dr. Wulsin’s individual Act Blue donation page.

Update: Mimikatz at The Next Hurrah says Schmidt’s seat is vulnerable.

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