Monday, December 04, 2006

letters to gil smart vol. 1.0

This is the first of what I’m sure will be many times that I write about the letters to the editor responding to Gil Smart. I’ll keep this short. Once again out of every letter written about Gil not one contains anything even remotely resembling thought. One asks if it was “necessary to spew out all that vitriol.” Another says Gil’s column is “a good laugh.”

A third goes all out calling Gil’s column “hurtful,” “nasty” and “divisive” and says that Gil is “a liberal first and an American second.” Why is it that you never see any liberals questioning the patriotism of conservatives but that criticism goes the other way so often? Not only that, but the accusation is made immediately after calling the liberal “hurtful,” “nasty” and “divisive!”

While these were fun I think the letter that takes the cake is the one that brings the “War on Christmas” into the picture. A testament to the ability of the masses to truly go off the deep end, the WoC is possibly the best imaginary issue in the history of modern American politics, possibly in the history of politics period. I think of it as the political equivalent to Orson Welles reading the War of the Worlds over the radio sending people into a panic. The New York Times on October 31, 1938 says it all:

Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact
I just wish that I would see one letter to the editor criticizing Gil Smart on the basis of an argument that he made.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's so easy to spend someone else's money

So, Gib Armstrong is going to save us from government spending. What's next? His son saving us from fanatics going on a crusade to solve an imaginary problem? Gib Armstrong is right, it is easy to spend someone else's money. Especially for projects that private investors don't want to spend their own money on.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

maybe next season














There are only two non-political subjects you will find on this blog. Abigail and the Steelers. The above photo pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about football right now. The offensive line left so many holes open today it wasn't even funny. Nine sacks for seventy-three yards?! In honor of the end of this season I am posting a link to my favorite Steelers blog. Go enter your feelings of disgust in a public forum.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

route 23 and the convention center

Lanko Yokels has a great post on Bob Walker and the local GOP's screening process for county commissioner candidates. It's funny how everything comes back to the convention center. The route 23 project is the same way. Who's going to profit and how can we make our elected leaders march in lock step with what we want them to do?

I would just like one Republican, maybe Bob Walker, to give me a real answer to the following questions? If you're so in favor of the free market why aren't you applying those principles to the convention center? If I suggested that we take the money for the convention center and use it to buy medicine for people who work but have no health insurance would you call me a "commie" or just a tax and spend liberal? How do you justify being opposed to spending tax dollars on social programs like health care but feel perfectly comfortable spending it on a convention center that can't possibly be supported by the marketplace?

Monday, November 20, 2006

A new road here will support greed — not need.”

I suppose this was to be expected. The Chamber of Commerce has decided to endorse the new route 23 project. This is pretty typical of how things go around here; jettison what the county really needs in favor of making money.

The thing that I really love about this is the affect it will have on the political environment in Lancaster. They'll build this new highway, they'll get more development and finally...they'll get more Democrats. As the population in this county grows the ratio of Democrats to Republicans improves in the Democrats favor.

That's fine for me politically. Unfortunately I actually have principles and would rather save some of the best farmland on the planet than get a few extra votes.

The other upside to this is that Mike Brubaker can finally take a position on the issue.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

weekend baby blogging

Abi is learning to brush her teeth.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

quote of the day

"It's true, [Rush Limbaugh] has carried a lot of water over the years and not just to help him swallow all those pills..."

-Stephen Colbert; on Rush Limbaugh saying that he is relieved that he won't have to "carry water" for Republicans in congress who don't deserve his help

more absurdity

These kinds of talking points have been around for a few years with the radical, irrational right. Since losing so much last week the Coulter wing of the Republican Party has gone into the posture of a rabid dog raising its hackles. A skunk spraying would also be an adequate simile. Here are two examples.

First we have Glenn Beck. Why do the media continue to give microphones to people like this? There are plenty of intelligent conservatives in this country. I may not agree with them but I respect their intellect and their right to a difference of opinion. Yet CNN decided to give this guy a show so he could say to the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Congress:

“I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’ “ Beck added: "I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.”
Did you notice how he attempts to create a fa├žade of rational thought to give himself cover to ask the question? “I not it’s wrong to think this but I have to ask you anyway. There’s nothing wrong with the question. Millions of Americans are thinking it.”

You can see the video here.

Then we have the Fox Opinion Channel. For more on that see Olbermann below.

I said it in the last post. This isn’t a matter of civility. It’s a matter of intelligence. I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that when a conservative/Republican compares the Democrats/liberals to al-Qaida, or any variation on that statement, it is an indication that the person making that comparison has nothing of value to say.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

absurdities in the letters to the editor page vol. 1.0

This was be the first in what I’m sure will be a long series of reactions to letters to the editor that appear in Lancaster’s newspapers.

In his letter of November 14th Richard Marcks makes a good point. Western civilization is facing an extraordinary threat from radical, fundamentalist Islam and there are some people in the west who either do not take the threat seriously or do not have a reasonable plan for dealing with it. Unfortunately outside of that one point his letter devolves into absurdities mixed with the absence of facts.

First, Marcks’ interpretation of the results of the midterm election leaves out some important information about the exit polling and motivations for many voters. He concludes that the only reason for the nation’s change in direction is the war in Iraq. That was a big issue for voters no doubt, but he seems to have forgotten (or purposefully ignored) the unprecedented level of corruption in the federal government right now. The list is endless: Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R, CA) being on the take, Don Sherwood’s (R, PA) shenanigans, Jack Abramoff, out of control federal spending, the rising deficit that will leave our children and grandchildren with crippling debt.

Not to mention that the Republicans lost three congressional seats because the representatives sitting in them had to resign in disgrace when it was too late to remove their names from the ballot. There was Bob Ney of Ohio (tied to Abramoff), Tom Delay (also an Abramoff crony) of Texas and Mark Foley of Florida. I don’t think I need to go into the reason for Foley’s resignation not to mention the Republican leadership’s subsequent cover up of Foley’s peccadilloes.

So let’s not pretend that the voters didn’t have a whole laundry list of reasons to throw out the GOP leadership in congress.

Everyone can let their partisanship influence their selective use of facts so I will forgive Marcks for his poor interpretation of the election. However, he crosses a line of decency and leaves rational thought behind when he says that the midterm election was “a clear victory for al-Qaida.”

I think we need to set some new rules for how one can automatically lose a political debate. If you reduce yourself to these techniques you forfeit any claim to legitimacy. Comparing your opponent to Hitler would be one instance. Accusing your opponent of hating America is another. Saying that a victory for your opponent is a victory for al-Qaida should definitely qualify you for being laughed out of a room. Any variation on these arguments should be shunned by any person with a measurable IQ no matter what their political philosophy or party.

Any serious person in this country knows that al-Qaida is a grave threat. I would say that fundamentalism (religious or political) of all stripes is a threat to the rational thought and liberties of the west. But we won’t solve any problems, especially the problem of terrorism, if our political discussion is reduced to accusing each other of treason or saying that terrorists are “hoping and praying for” the victory of those who disagree with us. Patriots can disagree on the best approach for solving any problem.

This post is not a plea for civility. Political debate is rough; feelings get hurt. This is a call for intelligence. It is in that spirit that I ask Mr. Marcks (and other people who think that a Democratic victory is a win for al-Qaida) to turn off Rush Limbaugh, stop, take a deep breath and think before you speak or write a letter to the editor.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

tom creighton says that voters in lancaster can’t think

I should begin this post with a little debate technique known as poisoning the well. I’m sure that some would ask if I myself am guilty of the problem I am about to criticize. The fact is that I have only once in my life voted a straight party ticket. I’m sure some of my Democratic friends won’t like that but I have voted for Democrats, Republicans and independents of every stripe. I am a proud ticket splitter who comes from a family full of ticket splitters.

That is why I am so bothered by some (I mean all) of the election results in this county and one person’s comments in particular. Republican State representative Tom Creighton (and his party) seems to take the voters of the county for granted.

“I belong to the right party. It wasn’t a race between me and my opponent. It was a race between a Republican and a Democrat.”
Did he mean “correct” or “right wing?”

How unfortunate that the voters of this county have such an incredible inability to think for themselves. Am I elitist? Is this just sour grapes? Maybe I am and maybe it is.

The problem with Creighton’s statement is that it’s true. I have seen exactly what he’s talking about. This county is full of people who will listen to what you have to say, agree with you and promise you their vote until they find out that you’re a Democrat. There are even more who start at party affiliation and don’t go past it. They have reduced their vote to being little more than a choice between Coke and Pepsi.

In the Intell article on Creighton’s race his opponent Lee Heffner mentioned an incident with a voter who complained about the pay raise. The voter, apparently, ended up not voting for Heffner because Lee is a Democrat. The voter was upset about the pay raise and still either voted for Creighton or just didn’t vote at all in the race simply because of party affiliation.

I just have to ask, how do people expect to get decent representation when the only thing necessary for their vote is having a little “r” next to your name?

On Tuesday Lancaster Republicans voted like we have a parliamentary system. Too bad we don’t, instead of a second term for Governor Rendell we could be on the verge of Prime Minister Sturla.