BSG 3.08

Eric’s comments on "Hero" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


BSG 3.07

Eric’s comments on "A Measure of Salvation" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


Let This Acceptance Take

I find very little grace in political results.  I’m one of those teacher’s-pet liberals who not only hopes others vote in accord with my political views but asks that they do so for the right reasons.  In recent weeks, had I encountered a voter who said, "I normally vote Republican, but this whole Foley scandal has turned me off," I would have replied, "Mark Foley supported enormous tax cuts to the wealthiest fraction of society while government spending expanded beyond that of the Reagan Administration.  He unreservedly embraced the invasion of Iraq and every infringement of civil liberties Bush asked for.  He did his level best to increase the government’s role as cultural nanny and enforcer of social mores as construed by his narrow-minded constituency.  If your only objection to Foley was that he got caught sending racy messages to teenagers, then—please—go vote for Republicans with the other cowards."

I grant that it’s something of a relief to see evidence that, despite gerrymanders and Diebold, Rove’s "permanent majority" hasn’t yet been locked in.  And watching Bush contradict himself and accept Rumsfeld’s resignation was fun.  But looking over the "Blue Wave," I just want to shout, "Where the fuck were you people in 2004?"  More to the point, what do we know now that we didn’t know two years ago?  Nothing, of course.  And now we have Roberts and Alito on the bench, the Military Commissions Act suspended habeus corpus, and thousands more Americans and Iraqis have been maimed and killed.  So pardon me if I’m not very gracious.

Please remember Veterans Day. In Flanders Fields


No Exit

I used to despise exit polls because I felt there was no good use for the information and plenty of poor uses.  For myself, only the final result mattered, so why should I care who some network talking head projected to be the winner?  More vituperously, no model of voting behavior I could construct allowed for influence by exit poll reports, yet allegedly millions of people are so influenced.  I was never so jaundiced as to advocate that we follow the example of France and some other democracies by banning the publication of exit poll results before the polls closed, but I just shook my head at the waste of energy and money for which I had no use.

In recent years, however, I have acquired a new reason to dread reports of exit poll data.  In cases of election fraud, there are varying levels of evidence, from tainted or lost ballots to unaccountable electronic tallies.  It is impossible to conceive, however, of a serious challenge to an electoral result without widespread and rigorous exit poll data indicating that a plurality of voters voted for another candidate.  The result of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio featured just such data, contributing to a poisonous unease that I cannot foresee ever lifting.  We can fight for more accountable elections, but even if Diebold and similar systems are categorically rejected, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch live election returns again without an icy trickle of bile in my gut.


In his column at Slate, Christopher Hitchens takes on the unpleasant task of trying to distinguish the principles behind his support of the invasion of Iraq, now that the role of "little gargoyle" and Hitchens-nemesis Henry Kissinger in forming Bush’s Iraq policy has been revealed.  In so doing, Hitchens takes Kissinger (and his fellow-travelers in the "realist" camp of Iraq war skeptics) for being overly concerned with avoiding "instability."

The "instability" resulting from the invasion of Iraq that most worried me (and, I imagine, many others excluding, tragically, Hitchens) was not that of Iraqi governmental institutions, or even any of the local players in the Middle East, but rather that of the Bush Administration. All of the purported concerns that the Bushies allegedly had that necessitated regime change—WMD, pursuing al-Qaeda, fostering democracy—have been given systematic short shrift by Bush’s actual policies.

  • Russian and Pakistani nuclear weapons remain unsecured due to willful neglect by the Bush Administration, both before and after 9/11.
  • Osama Bin Laden was permitted to escape and the Taliban has reconsolidated control over southern Afghanistan.
  • Safeguarding the Iraqi infrastructure and giving the Iraqi professional class reason to hope that strident political participation would not result in kidnapping and assassination have taken a back seat to force-protection and corporate graft in the Green Zone.

The best reason for opposing the Bush-led invasion of Iraq has always been that Bush clearly never believed in any of his stated war aims or principles, and that he valued the invasion and occupation solely to the degree that they created circumstances of domestic political advantage for (loyal) Republicans.

That’s instability.


BSG 3.06

Eric’s comments on "Torn" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


BSG 3.05

Eric’s comments on "Collaborators" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


BSG 3.03

Eric’s comments on "Exodus, Part 1" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


BSG 3.01-3.02

Eric’s comments on "Occupation" and "Precipice" are now available through his Battlestar Galactica Fanboy Page.


Sowing, Reaping

As my post below indicates, I am fully aware that we are at Total War with the gang of thugs and kleptocrats who have captured our government.  It is obvious that regaining as many Congressional seats for the Democrats this Fall as possible is a necessary step in this struggle.  I have also previously condoned otherwise unseemly tactics and even half-truths that are reliably effective at achieving such political ends.

Nonetheless, I am less than comfortable with giving additional currency to the Foley scandal.  Even though it points up the utter bankruptcy of the Republican lie that they have restored accountability and ethics to government, the story ultimately derives its notoriety and endurance from a breezy conflation of homophobia and the persecution of anyone tarred with the smear "pedophile."  Legal and clinical definitions of age of consent aside, so far all we’ve heard about are e-mails.  Nursing hysterial, puritanical, homophobic bluenoses is a tactic that will have "blowback" lasting far longer than the advantage of gaining a single House seat.


Are You Ready For Some Pyramid?

The new season of Battlestar Galactica starts on Friday, and so I thought it best we all get our facts straight about Vichy.



Star Chamber.  Lettres de cachetLos desaparecidos.  I used to wince at the counter-productivity of such hyperbole.  No longer.

Jim and his crew have some sober thoughts, including the not-useless perspective that the Republic has been stained by previous outrages and returned to sanity.  Dahlia, however, points out the truly depressing aspect of Congress’s vote: up until now, the Bush Administration’s extraordinary rendition, secret gulags, and pervasive culture of "smacky-face" were unilateral, exigent, and certain to be found illegal.  Now, in a breathtaking lunge of hubris and cynicism, Bush has bluffed Congress into making it legal.  Our Generalissimo asked if he needed to justify the detention of "enemy combatants" or let them have a trial, and Congress—we, the people—said "No, thanks."

I don’t really know what to say about this; before all Americans—those who came before and shed their blood against George III, Jefferson Davis, and Hitler; and those yet to come who will look back with contempt—I feel a deep and abiding shame.  Letting this wound demoralize us into apathy is surely Rove’s fondest hope, yet decency requires a moment of mourning and anguish—it simply hurts too much.

In due time, we shall remember the 253 and the 65, as will history.  I cannot say who will be less forgiving.



Congratulations to that Straight-Talkin’™ Maverick™, Sen. John McCain (R-Gulf of Tonkin), who has managed to Sen. Hillary "Helen Lovejoy" Clinton (D-Turtle Bay) seem a model of courage and integrity.



Everything you ever needed to know about The Corner:

I wish everyone would choose sides so forthrightly and unambiguously. I know where America stands with Hugo Chavez. Do you know where we stand with Jacques Chirac?.



Thomas Hoepker, whose photo I posted previously, responded to the controversy sparked by Frank Rich’s interpretation.  I responded in turn:

The picture, I felt, was ambiguous and confusing: Publishing it might distort the reality as we had felt it on that historic day.

It doesn't matter what the subjects or the photographer were thinking at the time that the photo was taken.  What matters is what the photographer was thinking when he (initially) withheld it from publication.  As Hoepker said, he felt the pitcure was ambiguous, and ambiguity was the last thing many people wanted to feel in the days and weeks (and, unfortunately, years) after 9/11.  They wanted it to be Pearl Harbor.  Others wanted it to be Dealey Plaza. Some couldn't shake the impression that it was just Die Hard.

The people who would have been outraged by Hoepker’s photo in September 2001 and continue to express outrage five years later were relieved by the simplification they thought 9/11 brought to their lives.  "It was an act of war," they declared, and they have been desperate to keep that state of war going, lest they have to start thinking critically about enormously complex subjects, as the people in Hoepker’s photo appear to be doing.



Five years of craven narcissism is more than enough.  This is what self-respect looks like:
Give it a try.


Which Easy, Again?

There are many reasons to be outraged, dismayed, and bewildered by the anniversary of Katrina, but what I’m still puzzled by is: how did "NOLA" become a (helpful) abbreviation for "New Orleans"?  Is there another New Orleans I should be careful not to mistake for the Crescent City?  To conserve precious characters, should we start referring to "NYNY", "SFCA", or "LVNV"?  Just askin’.


Shoulder Your Burdens

The second season of Battlestar Galactica concluded last Friday, and now we have seven months to speculate on where the series is going.