I’ve been listening to talk radio for 15 years, and I can now tell you the sum total of what I’ve learned:

This is an excellent time to buy gold.

Market’s up? An excellent time to buy gold. Market’s down? An excellent time to buy gold. Mars Rover discovers that the red planet is composed mostly of gold? A wonderful time to buy gold.

Wife’s at a play tonight – she just called to say they’re bailing at intermission, due to the overall lack of talent on the stage. But she’s having a bite & drink with a friend, so that puts us right here at the kitchen table, banging out the nightly work while Gnat finishes her yogurt and watches Kipper, the English Dog Named After A Fish. It’s a charming little show, really, and all the dogs have specific British accents. There’s a big dumb slow dog who has, I believe, a Yorkshire accent. Kipper’s voice changes from tape to tape, I’ve noticed – in the latter tapes it’s almost half an octave higher. I wonder if there’s a cartoon devoted to that operation.

We’ve had a long day. After school, Target – and what a grand stock-up that was. Wife gets job; I buy in bulk. Then the grocery store. Home for pizza. Gnat colored her new My Little Pony book – she’s getting quite good, because Daddy has impressed upon her the necessity of coloring inside the lines. Yes, yes, I know: I am stifling her creativity and making her conform to the whole grey-flannel Eisenhower square scene, man. But you can’t color outside the lines until you learn how to color inside of them. “Colors outside the lines” was a catchphrase a few years ago – a teacher’s narrow-minded observation turned into a badge of pride. Well, perhaps. But as any parent knows, coloring outside the lines results in an ugly mess. The black-and-white picture is a template for the child to decorate as they like, but it also suggests that there are rules to be honored. I was quite amazed to see what Gnat did with a six-layer cake. She meticulously detailed the stratifications with an alternating color scheme. That’s imagination; that’s a unified aesthetic scheme. (Yes, I know. Grand words for a kid and a coloring book. I’m kidding. Mostly.) And it not only looks better than one color randomly scribbled over the cake, it shows thought and attention.

And fear of the grim taskmaster of this terror-soaked atelier we call L’ecole Jasperbois!

The pizza was exceptional. Then we killed a few hours playing around, ending up having a camp-out in the bed upstairs, hiding under the covers with 673 dolls, 50 cents in pennies, a kaleidoscope and a flashlight. Then it was a dance party for boys and girls. Then it was bathtime. Then it was running around to music – tonight’s hit being “Surfin’ Bird.” Papa oo-maw-maw. Now she’s pancaked, watching TV, and Jasper’s sitting on the rug by the door, and any second now the first flakes of the last great winter storm will fall. Eight inches, they say. Fine; it’s March. Gone in two days, forgotten in three.

Update: it’s midnight, at which point the freezing hail was supposed to have converted to snow. So far, NOTHING.

Wouldn’t be a week without something screedish, eh? Those who find this weekly descent into madness tiresome are given a hall pass, and we’ll see you Monday.

Okay, it’s just us. Seat belts on? Good. As usual, this is unedited and unfiltered – I am dead beat tired, human roadkill with fingers that feel like cold hot dogs. It’s been a LONG day. But we struggle on.

Heard some of the Soros-financed ad today, about Bush eliminating overtime. The ad made it sound as though he had signed an executive order that outlawed the practice of paying ANYONE any overtime EVER, which of course isn’t the case. It fits with the worldview of the intended audience, I guess – the people who think that once upon a time the United States strictly adhered to the Kyoto protocols, had legal gay marriage, and allowed overtime pay, and the President has undone these pillars of society one by one. Because he hates people, you know. He really wants to screw people over. That’s how you get reelected: wage unrelenting war against the electorate so they’ll vote for you in hopes that the beatings will slacken somewhat in the lame-duck term.

Obligatory statement: I am tired of making the following obligatory statement, but I must. Obligatory Statement the Second: I do not believe Bush walks on water. I have arguments with many policies. McCain Feingold: gah. Gah in excelsis deo. Other policies I understand as political expediencies, but that doesn’t mean I like them. I have one issue above all: the war. And yes, I’m one of those deluded types who thinks we’re at war, and that the absence of attacks since 9/11 no more means we’re not at war than the absence of air raids on Manhattan in 1942 meant we weren’t at war with Germany and Japan.

Obligatory Statement the Third: I was not a Clinton hater. I eventually developed an eww-ick distaste of the man, but I was frequently amused and impressed by the politician; he was good. And he did some things I liked. It’s possible, you know: you can disapprove of a politician’s value set, applaud some decisions, dislike others, and wish his exit - that’s normal and American. If you see the guy on TV and you have an aneurism because the crawl doesn’t say THIS MAN BURST FROM A CARBUNCLE ON SATAN’S BUTT! you have a problem.

Statement the Fourth: it’s the war. That’s what counts. If I had a choice between an isolationist Republican who would withdraw all American troops from everywhere and cast Israel adrift, OR a Joe Lieberman Democrat who understood the threat and wanted to take the fight to them - and nevermind what our valiant allies thought, like Russia - I’d pull the lever for the D. As I've said before: we can argue about the future of Western Civilization after we've ensured Western Civilization will survive.

So there. Obligatory opening statements. I wish we could just have a chord that would stand in for one’s position. A nice augmented chord for those of us who have our beliefs but respect the loyal opposition, a bright shining major tonic for those who are unabashed partisans, and a minor-key fugue that strays into atonal chaos for those who hate the opposition and don’t care who knows it. You’d load the page, hear the chord, and know what you were in for.

This relates to the Soros-funded ad, how? Well, when I heard the ad I recognized the music bed: it’s a Soundtrack loop. I used it in the start of my Doctor Poppycock tune. To those guys it sounded downbeat and ominous; to me it sounded mysterious and ethereal. Compare and contrast with the music beds for the Bush ads. They remind me very much of the music for the Rick Burns New York series; it’s “American” music, because it’s plain, simply arranged, with a touch of sadness. The Burns documentary used a few simple tunes over and over again – strong and potent pieces that to this day make me well up; I saw the documentary in the months after 9/11, and when I made my first trip to New York after the attack, and saw all the shrines and memorials I kept hearing the themes over and over again. The music in the Bush ads is cut from the same cloth.

“American” music in a political season was much different in previous eras – it usually harkened back to an ideal age far removed, so its flaws had been softened and forgotten.

The text of the ad doesn’t mention 9/11. The visuals – which I haven’t seen – apparently show a body being removed from the wreckage. And this is beyond the pale, I guess. It is now unacceptable for a president to remind people he was president during an attack on American soil.

Hmm. Well. It’s called running on one’s record. They get to do that. But now people who were secretly relieved that Bush was in the White House after 9/11 are complaining that Bush is reminding us . . . that he was in the White House after 9/11.

At Target today we went down the camping aisle; Gnat chattered about this and that as she paged through her new coloring book. I had a different emotion. I hate that row. I loathe it. After 9/11 I made the weekly Target run, and wondered whether it might not be prudent to get some camping stuff in case, well, we had to leave. What would we need if something awful happened, and we had to light out for the territories? If this seems like a ridiculous overreaction, then either you’ve forgotten what it felt like after 9/11, when no one knew what the hell was around the corner (besides anthrax). Or your primary reaction to 9/11 was to fight American overreaction to a regrettable but understandable act of karmic comeuppance. Me, I just channeled the inner Boy Scout. Be prepared. So I bought waterproof matches and a small cook stove and some propane tanks and a wind-up radio, and put them in a box in the garage with some canned goods and fresh water. I didn’t think it was likely we’d have to leave. And I didn’t want to be caught flat-footed if the worst happened. Toss the box in the trunk and roll.

That box is still up on the shelf in the garage. The threat level could be light beige, and I wouldn’t take it down. Why would I?

So the ad is bad because it reminds us of those days. I know, I know – some things ought not be used for transient political advantages. For some, the the real issue isn’t what Willie Horton did, it’s pointing out that he did it. I know. But we need to be reminded. In an odd way, the attacks on New York and Washington were so harsh they cauterized the wound they caused. Or to switch metaphors – we were stabbed in the back, and that’s not a scar you see when you face yourself in the mirror.

People forget. People must not forget.

People forgot the Cole the day after it happened. People forgot the embassy attacks – if they were aware of them at all – by nightfall. People shrugged at Desert Fox and the Tomahawk attack on empty Afghan camps. No one took it seriously until we were all sitting in a dark room at 1 AM staring at the TV, watching the crawl, wondering what was next, stunned and horrified and scared. Three moments: Bush’s speech on the pile, the speech at the National Cathedral, and then the jaw-dropping State of the Union address, which was the moment when the national mood got off its knees and balled its fists and said that’s not going to happen again.


The way some people are complaining, you’d think the ad had text like this:

“In the dark days after the attacks on America, President Bush gave the nation hope that this was not the end of our society, but the beginning of a new era in which grave threats would be met and overcome.”

That would be unacceptable, of course. Politicizing 9/11! Wrapping himself in the flag! Implying his opponents are unpatriotic! Plastic turkey! Aircraft carrier landing! Mission accomplished! AWOL! French goodwill squandered!

By this logic, FDR should have run his 44 campaign on his domestic agenda.

The theme of the Democratic primaries was clear: Bush is the problem, not the war. Clarification: the “war.” The “alleged” war. The “war” is a smokescreen to keep us in fear while a few top-hatted plutocrats convene in Texas to complete their grand strategy: we’ll invade Iraq for reasons we know will fall apart, and then we’ll turn the oil revenue over to the people under UN supervision, and the publicity will cause Halliburton stock to fall so we can buy it back at artificially depressed prices. Let’s all do the secret Mason handshake! Right. Paging Oliver Stone: you’re needed to script-doctor the third act, where Karl Rove’s shocktroops put Bill Maher and Howard Stern in a trunk so they don’t blow the whistle on the secret code in the electronic voting machines that returns a 99.9% mandate in the 2004 election.

Will Bush run ads that accuse the Democrats of fumbling the ball on al Qaeda in the Clinton years, and suggest that the last Democrat in the office seemed more concerned with slipping in some lap nooky before quitting time than killing bin Laden? No. Will Bush run ads that contrast John Kerry’s sonorous litany about “the worst foreign policy” with pictures of women in Kabul throwing off the burqa or men in Iraq toppling a statue? I can only hope; it would be right on the money. We fought back – but they were not wars of retribution. We salted no fields. We entered their lands – but they were not wars of conquest and sublimation; we demanded no tribute. We could have nuked the place flat. History will note that when we left, we left them with a constitution, a hundred thousand roofs festooned with satellite dishes, a souk where people could speak their mind again and buy newspapers that criticized the nation that had made this freedom possible.

Another suggested ad: “Some say that we shouldn’t haven’t invaded Iraq. Even after the discovery of mass graves. Even after the realization that the UN’s Food-for-Oil program diverted billions to Saddam’s pockets. Even after seeing how the terrorists have poured into Iraq to make a last desperate stand against freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Some say we should have listened to our allies.” A stock shot of Marcel Marceau in full-mime makeup, pretending to be trapped in a box. “Some people are a little too worried about what the waiter will think the next time they take a trip to Paris.” Shot of a Kerry lookalike in a bistro, saying “No, really, I’m Canadian.”

Reality check. That’s a cruel mean harsh nasty ad.

A few days before the Minnesota caucuses a flier was stuck in my door. It was from “Peace in the Precincts,” an organization that wanted five planks inserted into the laundry list of caucus resolutions. Number four caught my eye:

Be it resolved, that the US should renounce the doctrine of preemptive war and promote the rebuilding of the international community through the United Nations to track down and incapacitate international, terrorist organizations, and to intervene to stop genocides, tyrannical regimes, and international armed conflicts through diplomacy, the promotion of democracy, focused and forceful nonviolent intervention, and peaceful conflict resolution.

Okay. A simple quiz.

1. We should promote the rebuilding of the international community through the UN to stop tyrannical regimes through forceful nonviolent intervention.


2 "You’re either with us, or with the terrorists."

Imagine a bomb just went off in your local mall. Choose one.

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