Friday, February 27, 2004

Paul Whiting sends along this link in support of my ongoing contention that the roles of liberals and conservatives have become bizarrely reversed in American politics.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I was sorry to see that The Gazette fell for this story. PETA tried to get us to bite, too, but I wouldn't go for it. The conversation went something like this (after the PETA spokesman explained what PETA was up to).

Me: But Jesus ate meat, didn't he?
PETA: Well, I'm not an expert on that. We're just saying that Jesus would have objected to how corporate farming methods treat animals.
Me: Is Mel Gibson a corporate farmer?
PETA: No, but he feeds animals into that corporate chain.
Me: So you're just picking on Mel Gibson because he's famous.
PETA (with an uncomfortable chuckle): Well, I guess you could say that.
Me: I don't think that's fair. We're not covering that.
PETA: Well, thanks for talking to me.

I've always had a bit of secret sympathy for PETA (are there really people who oppose the ethical treatment of animals?). Even when PETA protests started to get outrageous, I thought they were at least brave and might even be smart. Sometimes you can arrive at a reasonable compromise by starting with an unreasonable position.

Lately, though, PETA has gone too far even for me, and an organization is in trouble when it starts alienating sympathetic simpletons like me. And I certainly feel no obligation to cover a story that exists only because some activist group thinks reporters might be tempted into creating it.

Of course, that's easy to say when you have no time or money to cover the story in the first place.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

If you haven't been following the discussion at on the school bond issue, you should be. Lots of good posts. Just click on the survey at the top right of the page. You don't even have to vote to read the comments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

In the Montana Green Party Weekly Bulletin, Paul Stephens calls on Bob Kelleher to quit call himself a Green:

"So, Bob, before you burn any more bridges or incur the wrath of Greens who otherwise might work with you, or even learn from you on the issues of Parliamentary government, state ownership of public utilities, mineral rights, water rights, etc., I will ask you publicly to quit calling yourself a Green and quit disrupting and fragmenting our party. I know you are still a Democrat at heart, and are angry at your party for violating your personal ethical and social beliefs. You apparently hold that anyone who chooses to terminate her pregnancy, or helps her do so, is a criminal and should be punished, accordingly. This is a view which has no place in the Green Party, and I think we'd outvote you 95 to 5 or so on that issue, in case you still believe in the democratic process."

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Pat Dawson's Oct. 9, 2002, column on Marc Racicot's military service was picked up by Buzzflash, which resulted in a ton of new comments on the topic. Further evidence that for those who served, and for those who didn't, Vietnam remains a touchstone issue.

Friday, February 06, 2004

OK, here's a nickel's worth of sympathy for CBS, which it can apply toward its FCC fines: The sleazy world of modern network television wasn't created by CBS, although it certainly must shoulder some of the blame. But the networks are in an impossible situation. They broadcast on publicly owned airwaves, yet are forced to earn a living in an increasingly crude marketplace. And their share of that marketplace is falling rapidly. As soon as Janet Jackson's 1 1/2 second exposure went off the air, it became the most downloaded item in internet history. CBS provides the titillation, then one of its prime competitors cashes in, and CBS is left catching the heat.

The self-righteous Michael Powell bears more of the blame than CBS. He is presiding over the tranformation of the airwaves from a publicly owned trust to the private property of a few mega-conglomerates with no values other than the bottom line. Having made that decision, it's a bit late in the game to get prissy about what those bottom-line entertainment values really are.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

To my surprise (and not-quite-secret delight) the whole Bush military service issue seems to be taking off. Two posts on other blogs have set me off: This one argues that Kerry is insulting those who served in the National Guard and this one argues that you can't logically oppose the war and support the troops. Since I was inflamed enough by both arguments enough to post comments, I suppose I should comment on my own blog. So here goes:

Two groups of young American males made terribly difficult choices during the Vietnam War: those who volunteered for combat and those who actively opposed and resisted the war. The first group risked death and dismemberment; the second risked prison and diminished job prospects. Some, like Kerry, were in both groups. The rest of us found some easier route. We stayed in school, or we cashed in our daddy's reputation, or we volunteered for relatively safe duty, or we joined the National Guard or reserves. None of those choices was entirely risk free. National Guard units could, and did, get sent to the front lines; radio operators like me would have been wiped out in the first few minutes of a Soviet invasion of West Germany. Mostly, though, Guardsmen pulled relatively light duty, and I worked on my German and acquired an inextinguishable thirst for German beer. What we did wasn't disgraceful, but it sure wasn't heroic. When I was in basic training, a common joke was that the initials for National Guard stood for "Not Going."

I don't really much care whether Bush served all the time he owed the National Guard. I do care if he is lying about his service all these years later. And I especially care if the president who has ordered troops into two wars still hasn't decided where he stands on the one war he could have fought in himself.

Those things matter because we are still in the middle of a war that strikes me as far less justifiable than Vietnam ever was. I opposed the war and am appalled by it. But if supporting the troops means that I favor spending every penny it takes to bring the war to safe conclusion, then I support the troops. And I would willingly support them with real dollars, not vague deficit dollars to be repaid somewhere down the road. My fear about this war is not that I will be proved wrong but that I will be proved right. I would rather have hawks ridicule me to my grave than to have one more soldier die unnecessarily. If it isn't possible in this country to oppose the war and still support the troops, then the war already has been lost.