“after we prayed, teared up, and laughed some”

Yup, it looks like Kerry won this first one. Apparently, even the Republicans are saying that he kicked ass. Do me a favor, and, even if you don’t necessarily believe it yourself, pretend that Kerry won hands down tomorrow. Better yet, start a letter to your local paper about just how decisive Kerry’s victory was, how you felt the whole election changing shape as you sat there watching your TV, how you came to accept the inevitability that Bush was going to be defeated. At the very least, do what Atrios is suggesting, and find an on-line poll to jump in on… Come on! This is our chance to show Gallup that there isn’t any fucking 14-point lead, at least not for Bush.

UPDATE: This was the response of the Bush Cheney team. (see poster) All they could come back with, after the complete trouncing of W, was, “Well, we knew he’d have a better message and appear more presidential,” like that somehow makes it less damaging.

Posted in Politics | 14 Comments

more moore mooore

I’m going to try to keep this brief.

Michael Moore is on a college tour.

He’s calling it the “Slacker Uprising Tour.”

He talks about it on his blog.

I saw him at his fourth stop, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

He says he’s doing it to increase the youth vote.

His detractors say it’s an act of desperation necessitated by the failure of “Fahrenheit 911” to dent Bush’s armor.

“Fahrenheit 911,” by the way, gets released on DVD any day now. (And, according to the All Spin Zone site, if you buy it from them, the proceeds will go to Democratic candidates running for Congress.)

The Daily Kos site has a good breakdown of what Moore talked about during the tour’s stop in Syracuse a few days ago.

You can hear a few audio reports recorded at that same appearance on the Clamor magazine site.

I was among the oldest 1% of people in the audience. I sat there waiting in a packed auditorium for him for about an hour, wedged between a girl in tight pants with a mouth full of chewing gum and a serious cell phone addiction, and a group of boys with waxed eyebrows and highlighted hair.

Moore started out by saying that Republicans used to be good people, that everyone had one in their family when he was young. He said they were usually tightwads and bad tippers, but that they were otherwise good. He went so far as to compliment Eisenhower and Nixon, saying that they essentially wanted to see their fellow Americans do well.

Now, he said, the Republicans don’t care about the greater good. In his opinion, they only want to do the absolute minimum for those that aren’t super-wealthy that will still allow them to stay in power.

Moore showed a fake ad that he’d made for the Republicans. The focus of the ad was Kerry supporter Max Cleland, a fellow Vietnam vet who lost both his legs and one arm during the war. In the spirit of the Swift Boat ads that question Kerry’s injuries in Vietnam, Moore calls into question the patriotism of Cleland in the ad. “Why,” he asks in the voiceover, “wouldn’t he give that last limb?” The answer is simple — Cowardice.

Another fake ad said that, “If Kerry really loved his country, he would have died in Vietnam.”

Discussing the Republican portrayals of the Senator, Moore questioned how Kerry could be both “the #1 liberal in Congress” and a habitual “flip flopper.” “How,” he wondered, “could a man who constantly changes his mind also have the most consistent record in the Senate?”

Moore said repeatedly that the media hadn’t done its job. After showing six minutes of footage showing the families of prisoners waiting outside of Abu Ghraib Prison for their loved ones, and recently discharged detainees talking about the torture they had endured, Moore said, “I shouldn’t have been the one showing you this.” He said that the cameraman who had shot that footage had tried to sell it to the networks a year ago, long before Seymour Hersh broke the story in The New Yorker, but that no one was interested. He believes there’s a coordinated effort to not show the Iraqis as people, like us.

He cautioned Kerry not to look arrogant in the debates. “Most Americans,” he warned, “are C-students, like Bush.”

He read from “The Pet Goat,” the book that Bush continued reading to Florida school children after hearing that the US was under attack on the morning of September 11. I was surprised to learn that the story is about a goat that foils a car-jacking.

He showed seven minutes of a press briefing, shot the day that Bush testified before the 911 Commission (with his buddy Cheney), in which Bush appears to be completely bewildered.

The most interesting thing that I learned was that Moore was coordinating “an army of independent film makers” to be in Florida on the day of the election. They plan to monitor all the polling places where they feel there may be problems, and to tape everything. (This will be in addition to the 10,000 attorneys that have agreed to be on hand in case questionable practices are noticed.)

Moore said that one of the things that differentiates the liberals from the Republicans is that the liberals would never accuse the Republicans of treason. He said that while he disagrees with conservatives about their stances, he believes that they honestly care about this country. He said that it was unfortunate that they didn’t feel the same way about those that disagree with them. He asked why some Republicans don’t think it’s enough to have an American flag sticker on their car, but how they have to add language like, “Love it, or leave it.”

Moore said that he’s received 3,000 letters from soldiers in Iraq, most of whom had written after seeing bootlegged copies of “Fahrenheit 911.” Moore claimed, with a wink, not to know how they illegal copies of the film made their way to the military bookmobiles.

Referring to his appearance at the Republican National Convention, he said that everyone should experience the feeling of having 10,000 crazed and angry people staring at you and yelling. He pointed out that the mention that was made of him by McCain in his keynote received more of a negative reaction than the mentions of either Saddam or bin Laden.

At some point, emulating the Republicans at the convention, he began doing a Nazi salute, but I wasn’t fast enough with my camera to get a shot.

He said that our actions in Iraq will not be judged kindly by history, and that we have, essentially, been cursed.

He said that soldiers in Iraq have been told by their superiors not to travel into hostile areas between now and the election, in hopes of keeping the body count down.

He went a bit far, I think, when he said to the crowd of 4,000 college students, “Make no mistake, there will be a draft under a second Bush administration.” That, to me, seemed almost as distasteful as Cheney saying that the terrorists would strike us again if we elected Kerry. It seemed to really work in this case though. The students around me erupted during that particular bit. Clearly, not wanting to die is a big motivator.

Another point where he got people riled up was when he screamed, “Yeah, Clinton lied….. ABOUT A BLOW JOB!” That was probably the most standup comedy-like segment of the performance. He went off an a little riff for a few minutes about how shocking it would be to wake up every day, open the paper, and find out how many people died as a result of blowjobs.

Moore, toward the end, started giving away books and DVDs to people who either signed up to register as voters (they had a half dozen people going through the audience handing out paperwork) or promised to vote, after not having done so for years. I was told that on another campus he offered to clean someone’s dorm room if they registered.

OK, those are my notes. I hope you find them useful… And, if you’re caught with them, please don’t tell anyone that you got them from me.

Oh, and one last thing, Moore was pretty cool about taking questions from the people that were there to heckle him. He requested questions from the Republicans in the audience. I thought that was pretty cool, especially in light of the current political climate where people have to sign loyalty oaths to see candidates and, even then, submit potential questions in writing in advance.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

when michael moore attacks

I got lucky. A woman that I know came though at the last minute with a ticket to the sold out Michael Moore appearance at the University of Michigan tonight. I’ll have to write about it tomorrow though. Right now, I’m drenched in piss….

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

cool poster

This poster and others are available at BigPath.net.

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

my sweet lord

I set out this evening with something really ambitious in mind. I wanted to connect the dots between evangelical Christianity and ultra-orthodox Catholicism and then explain why I felt that both movements threatened to undermine democracy in America. Unfortunately, about three hours into the project, I remembered that I’m not a journalist. And, even more troubling, I realized about a half an hour later that I’m not terribly smart. As a result, what you’re about to be subjected to isn’t so much an expose as it is a collection of loosely gathered links and random notes. I’m just going to toss them out here in hopes that someone with time and talent will stop by, pick up the ball and run with it.

I wouldn’t presume to tell someone else how to begin the story, but if it was me writing this piece, I think I’d start with the Reverend Jerry Falwell and his so-called Moral Majority. Here’s a clip from a recent article on the man, his movement, and the power they now hold in Washington.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell said yesterday that evangelical Christians, after nearly 25 years of increasing political activism, now control the Republican Party and the fate of President Bush in the November election.

“The Republican Party does not have the head count to elect a president without the support of religious conservatives,” Falwell said at an election training conference of the Christian Coalition.

Falwell said evangelical Christians are now “by far the largest constituency” within the Republican Party, their route to dominance beginning in 1979 with his founding of the Moral Majority, a precursor to the Christian Coalition.

And then, after tracing the roots of evangelical belief in America, and sharing a few snapshots taken along this 30-year march toward theocracy, I think I’d step back and focus on the concurrent forces in Catholicism which gave rise to today’s ultra-orthodox sects, the people who, along with the evangelical Christians, recently turned Jesus’ murder into box office gold. In telling that story, I’d suggest working in several mentions of Mel Gibson, former pizza delivery magnate Tom Monaghan, and Bush’s advisor on Catholic outreach, Dean Hutton.

On the subject of Hutton, I feel compelled to share this little clip that I just turned up at the National Catholic Reporter site, explaining why he left Fordham University. (I just can’t turn down an opportunity to expose hypocrisy, even if it messes up the flow of my story. I’m sorry, but it’s my kryptonite.) The quotes in the following clip are from a former student of Hutton’s.

“On the train, he began to feel my breasts outside my sweater and coat. We missed the Fordham stop (I’m not sure whether on purpose or not). We went to his house, he put me in his car, and he went up to tell his wife he was bringing a student back to Fordham.”

Once in the car, said Poppas, “Dr. Hudson told me to lay my head on his lap, suggesting fellatio when he unzipped his zipper. I did both. I sat up and said ‘Hold on a second, wait just a minute…’ He replied ‘Yes, let’s wait till we get to my office.'”

At Fordham, “He took me into his office, laid his long coat down, and laid me down on top of it. He began touching me, unzipping my jeans and pulling up my shirt. I was just glad to be laying down, I could barely feel my body.”

Hudson performed a sexual act on Poppas. He asked her to reciprocate, which she did. “Then he took me to Sesqui, my dorm,” recalled Poppas.

OK, now I’ve gone and completely lost my train of thought. Damn, damn, damn… I think I was going to say something about Tom Monaghan’s role as a financial backer of the campaign a few years ago to remove Ypsilanti’s anti-discrimination legislation that called for the equal treatment of gays and lesbians under the law… But all I can think about is this conservative Catholic professor sneaking into the girl’s dorm.

That, you see, is one of the reasons these things are better left to professional journalists.

Back to Monaghan, I wish I still had the postcard that was sent to my house by his group. It was even more terrible than the “Kerry’s going to ban the Bible” piece that I wrote about last week. Monaghan’s mailer centered around the image of a sadly unattractive man in drag. If I recall correctly, he was leering from beneath a platinum blonde wig, and the accompanying words said something like, “If this bill passes, this is the kind of person that will be sharing the public restroom with your granddaughter.” The legislation, fortunately, was defeated, but the saga isn’t over. Come November, the matter will be before the entire state of Michigan. (This demands a post of its own and it will be coming shortly.)

I know it doesn’t really fit here, but I just wanted to mention to my old readers that this blog will, at least to some degree, return to its old ways after the upcoming election. I know it’s gotten more boring than usual lately, but I’d like to ask that you just bear with me another month or so. Once November 4 rolls around, I swear that we’ll get back to the ball shaving, the monkey taints, and all the other things that brought you here in the first place. Really.

Oh, I also wanted to mention what brought this whole post on. It had its origins in a conversation that I overheard yesterday. I was standing in line somewhere behind two women, when one of them said to the other that her sister had been told at her Catholic church that if one were to vote the wrong way in the upcoming election that he or she would suffer for eternity in hell. They would, of course, lose their 501c3 tax-exempt status if anyone were to find out that they had advocated voting for Bush, but I don’t suppose there’s anything keeping them from saying, “Don’t vote for the one that revels in the murder of the unborn.”

I think I promised a few months ago to never link to that Moonie paper, the Washington Times, again, but I just found an interesting article on Tom Monahan (former owner of Domino’s Pizza) and his efforts to start a conservative Catholic law school here in Michigan, and I want to share it. Here’s a clip:

Increasing numbers of parents among the nation’s 63 million Catholics are turning their backs on the traditional powerhouse Catholic universities. They are gravitating toward a new breed of college that aims to attract students who place God’s truth, moral absolutes and loyalty to Pope John Paul II above parties, sexual hookups and winning football programs…

Indeed, Ave Maria Law School was founded in August 2000 after some of the best Catholic minds in the country gathered in Ann Arbor, Mich., in the spring of 1999. Among them: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Notre Dame criminal law professor Robert Blakey and Princeton University jurisprudence professor Robert George. Their mission: to dream up the perfect law school. …

Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan cashed in his share of the pizza empire in 1998, reaping more than $1 billion. Operating on the premise that it’s easier to realize ideals through a new institution than by reforming an existing one, Mr. Monaghan invested $30 million to open Ave Maria Institute in Ypsilanti, Mich. He followed with Ave Maria Law School, for another $55 million, in nearby Ann Arbor.

Mr. Monaghan proposed in 2000 to move the institute — which became Ave Maria College — closer to the law school. But city and county officials refused to rezone his property for academic use.

Mr. Monaghan then got a phone call from Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who urged him to move the college to the Sunshine State. “It had to do with teaching morals and values,” Mr. Monaghan, 66, says of their conversation….

“You can do so much more with a university,” Mr. Monaghan says. “You can train people to train people. If you have a good principal, you have a good school, just like having a good manager makes for a better pizza shop.”

There’s lots of other stuff that could be said, but I think that’s a nice note to end on… Tom Monaghan and Jeb Bush talking about churning people out to interpret American law based upon a pre-Vatican II Catholic doctrine as though they’re managers going through training to run a pizza shop. (I should add that it’s not just theoretical either. The first graduates of Ave Maria are now out in the world, clerking for conservative judges and trying to lay the groundwork for a society more aligned with their conception of morality. It’s scary, but true – the foundations for an American theocracy are being put in place.)

* This post was brought to you by the good men and women of Wal-Mart, who, even though they were forced to stop selling the infamous anti-Semitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, are still doing their part by refusing to sell John Stewart’s new Daily Show book that makes fun of the president.

Posted in Church and State | 13 Comments


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