Friday, July 11, 2008

The Nader, Part the Second: His Letter to Rush Limbaugh

Ralph Nader's July 10th letter to Rush Limbaugh is pretty interesting.

Limbaugh, many will recognize, recently received a new 8 year contract to stay on the radio, a contract totaling some $300 Million Dollars. From Nader's letter:

You, Rush Limbaugh, are on welfare.

As you know, the public airwaves belong to the American people. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to be our trustee in managing this property. The people are the landlords and the radio and TV stations and affiliated companies are the tenants.

The problem is that since the Radio Act of 1927 these corporate tenants have been massively more powerful in Washington, DC than the tens of millions of listeners and viewers. The result has been no payment of rent by the stations for the value of their license to broadcast. You and your company are using the public's valuable property for free. This freeloading on the backs of the American people is called corporate welfare.

Nader is like a national artifact. Too thoughtful, too honest, too wonkish, too boring, too self-righteous to ever win. But retaining enough of a slice of the disaffected among us, to impact a national election.

Say what you want about him. Harrogate has said, and before it is over will likely say, worse things about him than any of you. But one thing Harrogate has never heard someone do, and that is actually show that Nader's platform is flawed.

The man speaks the truth far more often than not. Which makes him that much more of an asshole, perhaps.

No "Straight Talk" When it Comes to Viagra Versus the Pill

Tip of the Hat to Daily Kos, both for this image and for the story that follows.

Since questions of sexism and politics recently re-emerged as a hotbutton topic on our award-winning blog, and since Harrogate has heard so many women point out the Issue at the center of this clip, Harrogate thought he'd run it up the flagpole (heh, Harrogate said 'flagpole').

Hopefully to the delight of all our Readers, here we see McCain being grilled by a reporter about the fact that insurance companies routinely cover Viagra, but not Birth Control pills. His tortured (no pun intended) effort to get out of this Rhetorical Situation is about as entertaining as it gets in these dry-ass press conferences.


The Nader

Always fun to excerpt from the Washington Times gloating over the state of the Democratic Party in a year where the GOP Brand is as soiled as it has been in years.

Saturday in that hallowed periodical, on the verge of the Senate's Embrace of Unaccountable Wiretapping, appeared the following headline:
Obama's move to center irks left: Blogs demand return to liberal orthodoxy

Now, this headline is patently stupid. Despite the deluge of Talking Points since the beginning of July, Obama has not in fact "moved to the center." Indeed, as Andrew Sullivan has delightedly pointed out, Obama was never into "liberal orthodoxy" (read: liberal positions on issues). His campaign is about "improving the tone in Washington," about "bringing people together," and most importantly ladies and gentlemen, it is about winning.

To Left Bloggers like the Kos Kidz and the Huffington Army, who have felt so betrayed all month, Harrogate has a message for ye: "He has not changed. It is rather that ye are catching a glimmer of truth, that you wrote onto Obama what you wanted to see, and now you are realizing that your writing it did not make it so."

Verily, how fitting that he will not be giving his acceptance speech at the Convention proper. Will he even speak there at all? It would perhaps be better if he did not. Just let the other speakers sing his praises to heaven, and then bring down the curtain on the Veep nominee and drop five or ten balloons. Yes, it will be a Rhetorical Spectacle and the pundits will drool.

But another thing that it will definitively do, it will drain the actual convention. It will emphasize that Obama is not carrying the Democratic banner. The Party for him is a vehicle, nothing more, nothing less. He could just as easily be holding his acceptance speech in Chicago.

Where does your hero and Harrogate's, the selfless Ralph Nader, fit into the equation?

In the past week alone, Democratic advocacy groups say their Web sites have been lit up by angry complaints attacking Mr. Obama's character and honesty, threatening to withhold their contributions, or worse, shift their allegiance to independent candidate Ralph Nader.

"We've been hearing more from voters who are disconcerted about Obama's move to the right. We're hearing from antiwar folks, civil-liberties people and other activists concerned about his flip-flops and considering voting for Nader," said Chris Driscoll, media director for the Nader for president campaign.

"We've had a big increase in the past couple of weeks in our Web site hits and our online fundraising contributions," he said.

A CNN poll of 906 registered voters reported this week that Mr. Nader's support has risen to 6 percent, potentially enough of a margin to deny Mr. Obama close-fought battleground states.

Aint life grand.

WALL-E Wars 4; or, the Jury is Now in, and WALL-E is an Ode to Classical Capitalism

Isn't this a really great picture of WALL-E????? What a cute robot.

But anywho. Harrogate's Pulitzer-Caliber coverage of the WALL-E Wars continues with Michael Gerson's latest write-up, which has confirmed Harrogate's growing sense that the WALL-E Wars are pretty much over. Conservative American pundits, social and economic, have claimed this movie for their own as a triumph of Can-Do American Sensibility. You know, sort of like the Horatio Alger novels, except with robots instead of thinly-veiled homosexual New York b'hoys at the center of the action.

For Gerson, WALL-E validates the brilliance of one whose Godlike Status is Secondary only to the Founding Fathers and Ronald Reagan. We speak, of course, of the great economic thinker Adam Smith, he of the Invisible Hand. He who foresaw all possible Contingencies and would have absolutely objected to anything but laissez-faire capitalism as we moveth deeper into the new century.

Smith, Gerson reminds us, had a heart. And WALL-E's purpose isn't any more complex than to remind us of exactly that:

Some conservatives have dismissed "WALL-E" as a crude critique of business and capitalism. This is only true if capitalism is identical to boundless consumerism -- a conviction that Adam Smith did not seem to share. Smith argued that human flourishing requires "good temper and moderation." Self-command and the prudent use of freedom are central to his moral theory. And these are precisely the virtues celebrated in "WALL-E." The end credits -- worth staying to see -- are a beautiful tribute to art and work, craft and cultivation.

"WALL-E" is partly an environmental parable, but its primary point is moral. The movie argues that human beings, aided by technology, can become imprisoned by their consumption. The pursuit of the latest style leads to conformity. The pursuit of pleasure displaces the deeper enjoyments of affection and friendship. The pursuit of our rhinestone desires manages to obscure our view of the stars.

Oh, yeah, Gerson is also pleased that WALL-E celebrates "Hello, Dolly," since apparently Show Tunes represent one of the great (lo! if not the greatest!) American Art forms.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Kos (Gasp!) With Something Resembling Common Sense

In the fallout from the FISA debacle. More than our Senate simply proving, once again, that it is not run by real Democrats. Nay.

This one many lefties took hard, as they had convinced themselves for months that Obama was a liberal despite all his rhetoric and evidence to the contrary.

There was an explosion yesterday among the Used at Daily Kos. Fools. That's what they get for treating politics like sixteen year-olds used to treat the release of a Bon Jovi album. But anyway.

The head guy, Markos, had a pretty good piece today that Harrogate invites ye all to read. He denies rhetoric that Hill voted correctly simply to make Obama look bad. He also observes that it was Obama's vote that made Obama look bad, nothing more, nothing less. And for the hat trick, he points out that had Hill been the nominee, she would indeed have voted differently yesterday.

That, folks, is how it works. We all know this but sometimes we pretend that we do not. Look at Gore now, what a good guy he seems to be. Is this the guy we remember from 2000 election, or in the Senate, or during his 8 years as a Veep? What about Edwards? He's awesome, now. As a Senator he was so terrible he'll need another 80 years of life to finish his apologies.

From the Kos:

There's been a great deal of kvetching about Hillary Clinton's FISA vote, that her correct vote on the matter was upstaging Obama's shitty vote, and as such, was making a mockery of "unity" efforts.

Pretty tortured logic, I know.

Regarding Clinton, I have no doubt she would've voted incorrectly were she the nominee. She's shown over the past few years that on every controversial "national security" bill, she has voted incorrectly, whether it was the Iraq War authorization bill, the Kyl-Lieberman Iran bill, or plenty of war funding bills. It's easy to vote the right way when you don't have advisors telling you to "take issues off the table" by betraying things like, you know, the Constitution.

If this marks the end of the triangulating version of Clinton, so much the better. That'll make her that much better a force in the Senate. (Which apparently is necessary given the new triangulating Obama now arrived on the political scene.)

But I also have no doubt that given Clinton's high profile and massive platform, she could've agitated and campaigned against this bill before today, rather than issue a statement during the vote. Dodd and Feingold could've certainly used the support way back when.

Hillary is no hero in all of this. But to complain that her vote somehow undermines Obama? No one here has undermined Obama more than Obama.

He or his advisors (or both) decided that they'd rather capitulate on the issue than face GOP attack ads claiming Obama is weak on national security.

The fact that Obama voted the wrong way isn't Clinton's fault. It's his.

His "see no evil" supporters may have a hard time accepting this truth, but it is what it is. As Bowers says:

Logic aside, I have to wonder why hundreds of people on Daily Kos would desire for people to leave a group that is critical of Obama from the left. This is to effectively ask Obama supporters to stop asking things from Obama. The inability of some to tolerate any criticism of Barack Obama is pretty depressing.

NOW's Media Hall of Shame

The NOW website has a fun quiz I thought the readers of the Situation might be interested in. There are a list of the "worst" and most "sexist" media offenses from the Democratic Primary season.

The FISA Vote; or, 'Well, that Sucked!'; or, an Excuse to Play a Cult-Inspiring Clip from Army of Darkness

Well, yesterday Harrogate held a conference call with bloggers around the nation, and everyone was asking, Harrogate, what about the FISA vote? Harrogate replied that he hasn't had much time to think about it, what with his Pulitzer-Caliber coverage of the WALL-E Wars as well as his Wildly Popular coverage of A-Rod's divorce. Still, a few utterances about FISA may be in order, here.

First of all, TalkLeft has been all over this for a while, which is no surprise since A)the issue is in Jeralyn's primary wheelhouse; and B)for the last couple of weeks it became increasingly apparent that on this issue, Hillary Clinton was going to look very, very good. And yea, Hillary did indeed rise up yesterday. To see the transcript of her post-vote comments go to TL's post here.

A snippet that Harrogate appreciates:

As a senator from New York on September 11, I understand the importance of taking any and all necessary steps to protect our nation from those who would do us harm. I believe strongly that we must modernize our surveillance laws in order to provide intelligence professionals the tools needed to fight terrorism and make our country more secure. However, any surveillance program must contain safeguards to protect the rights of Americans against abuse, and to preserve clear lines of oversight and accountability over this administration

Yeah, not bad Hill. But even slicker was her implicit effort to throw something of a bullwark around Obama, who has been relentlessly savaged over this issue by the Left Blogosphere which hitherto had lain uncritically prostrate at his feet. Obama even candidly ceded, at one point, an awareness that his embrace of these sweeping, anti-Fourth Amendment measures would be a "deal-breaker" for some.

But Democrats do not want this to be a "deal-breaker" between Obama and vectors of his base. Hillary yesterday sought to remind us all of the O'Reillyism that "reasonable people can disagree":

I applaud the efforts of my colleagues who negotiated this legislation, and I respect my colleagues who reached a different conclusion on today's vote. I do so because this is a difficult issue.

Of course, as is so often the case in the Senate, the real hero on this issue was, is, and will remain Russ Feingold.

For example:

Two and a half years after this illegal program became public, I cannot believe that we are still debating the legality of this program on the Senate floor, and that anyone seriously believes that merely notifying the Gang of Eight – while keeping the full intelligence committees in the dark -- somehow represents congressional approval.

Mr. President, it could not be clearer that this program broke the law, and this President broke the law. Not only that, but this administration affirmatively misled Congress and the American people about it for years before it finally became public. So if we are going to go back and discuss these issues that I thought had long since been put to rest, let’s cover the full history.


Publicly, all I can say is that I have serious concerns about how those activities may have impacted the civil liberties of Americans. If we grant these new powers to the government and the effects become known to the American people, we will realize what a mistake it was, of that I am sure.

So I hope my colleagues will think long and hard about their votes on this bill, and consider how they, and their constituents, will feel about this vote five, ten or twenty years from now. I am confident that history will not judge this Senate kindly if it endorses this tragic retreat from the principles that have governed government conduct in this sensitive area for 30 years. I urge my colleagues to stand up for the rule of law and defeat this bill.

But his "colleagues," of course, did not "stand up for the rule of law." All that is left to say at this point is, in the immortal words of Ash, "Jack left town":

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Now Madonna's Pissed

This just in. Madonna's pissed.

Lawyers for Cynthia Rodriguez, the wife of the New York Yankee player Alex Rodriguez said his relationship with Madonna had been "the last straw" before she decided to file for divorce.

The couple's five-year marriage collapsed amid reports of a new friendship between Mr Rodriguez and the 49-year-old pop singer.

Madonna, who denies any romantic involvement with the player, has reportedly told Mrs Rodriguez's lawyer Earle Lilly not to make further statements about her. "Madonna's outraged", a source said.

Will Cynthia back down? OR will she, convinced that Madge and Hubby had indeed, as it were, done the deed, hit back harder than ever.

Madonna, obviously, can take care of herself. And no matter what happens,let us not feel too sorry for Cynthia. This is someone who's about to get paid in a BIG WAY.

As for A-ROD. Harrogate said all along he ought never to have left Seattle.

Answering Machine Rhetorics; or, "Believe it or not, George isn't at home...."

Those at all familiar with Harrogate on a personal level understand that the use of a home answering machine to screen calls has hardly died out in the age of cell phones. If ye would reach Harrogate's mother, ye must speak into the machine with the inevitable: "Anybody there?.... Hello?...."


1)Because all these years later, George continues to delight Harrogate whenever he catches a syndicated episode;

2)This clip is funny;


3)In tribute to his Mom,

Harrogate offers the following for some light entertainment:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ripping Laura Bush's Bodice

The new novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife, is described as a thinly veiled fictional portrayal of Laura Bush's life both pre- and post-dubya. According to, the author takes many actual facts of Laura's life: her job as a librarian, her high school car accident that killed a classmate, and her courtship and marriage to "the roguish son of a privileged family of Republican bluebloods." Apparently the novel gets into the steamier side of couple's love life (P.S. the characters are named Alica and Charlie Blackwell--hello, oil reference). Sounds interesting (except for the sex stuff--ick--I don't ever want to imagine Bush sex--even if it's disguised as Blackwell sex).

Within the article is a link to an msnbc poll: "Are books like this ethically okay to publish?"

Huh? Am I missing something? What is the ethical problem here? It's fiction, right? So, the author takes some details from ol' Laura's life and uses them to create Alice. Aren't most fictional characters embellished versions of real folks a lot of the time? Again I ask: what is the ethical problem here?

Perhaps my fellow Situationers can explain? Or at least chime in...

Alex Rodriguez Divorce Pending, Rumors Continue to Fly About Affair With Madonna

Every now and then, the Harrogate likes to spread a little celebrity dirt. For such an occasion, this serves nicely.

The New York Yankees third baseman, who earned his 12th All-Star selection Sunday, has refused to comment on his relationship with Madonna, who denied any romantic involvement with the slugger in a statement posted Sunday on

"The petitioner has exhausted every effort to salvage the marriage of the parties," Cynthia Rodriguez said in the filing. "However, Alex has emotionally abandoned his wife and children and has left her with no choice but to divorce him."

Rodriguez's attorney in Miami, Ira M. Elegant, said he had not reviewed the divorce petition but added: "As you know, anyone can pay the filing fee and make allegations."

Elegant also represents NBA star Shaquille O'Neal in his ongoing divorce from his wife, Shaunie.

Two points, here.

1)Damn, Cynthia, them's some strong words. Refreshing. Much better than the typical "irreconciliable differences" claptrap we usually get from the rareified people.

2)Et tu, Shaq?

Dem Loserdom is Always a Ripe Theme for Cartoonists

Hot off today's presses:

WALL-E Wars The Third: Rod "Crunchy-Con" Dreher and Andrew "Reagan Was Awesome, But Gays Should Have Rights" Sullivan Weigh In

WALL-E, Oh Readers, has clearly pulled off the Cinematic Equivalent of a Hat Trick in Hockey: entertain masses of people, provide an insanely cute robot (the robot is really cute), and touch off a rainbow admix of intellectual, ideological, and political effusions all at the same time.

Saturday, "Crunchy Conservative" Rod Dreher contributed to the WALL-E discourses. If you have never heard of a "Crunchy Conservative" before, he's a good place to start, so they say, although Harrogate wouldn't exactly know, since he's been wondering, as it were, what a "Crunchy Conservative" is for the last several years. Maybe someone else can start with Dreher though, and from there will eventually be able to explain to Harrogate what a "Crunchy Conservative" is. (Surely it's more complicated than, "I support a consolidated media, the elimination of the IRS, the evisceration of public education, and global imperialism--but dude, lay off the trees!"?)

But Harrogate digresses. Dreher's post will be quite interesting to Readers who have been following Harrogate's Pulitzer-Caliber coverage of the WALL-E Wars over the political meanings embedded in the latest Pixar blockbuster. A Snippet from Dreher:

"Wall-E" says that humans have within themselves the freedom to rebel, to overthrow that which dominates and alienates us from our true selves, and our own nature. But you have to question the prime directive; that is, you have to become conscious of how they way you're living is destroying your body and killing your soul, and choose to resist. "Wall-E" contends that real life is hard, real life is struggle, and that we live most meaningfully not by avoiding pain and struggle, but by engaging it creatively, and sharing that struggle in community. It argues that rampant consumerism, technopoly and the exaltation of comfort is causing us to weaken our souls and bodies, and sell out our birthright of political freedom. Nobody is doing this to us; we're doing it to ourselves. It is the endgame of modernity, which began in part with the idea that Nature is the enemy to be subdued -- that man stands outside of Nature, and has nothing to learn about himself from Nature's deep logic.

As for Andrew Sullivan, by now Readers understand that alas, Harrogate subjects himself to Andrew Sullivan fairly regularly. Mostly due to the sacred principle that dictateth: "A Blind Groundhog Will Find an Acorn Every Now and Then."

Whatever shall Readers make of Sully's take on Dreher and, by extension, on WALL-E? Pleased with Dreher's fidelity to "Aristotelian conservatism" (now don't you feel intimidated by the sheer gravity of Dreher's and Sully's intellects, O Readers?) Sully is moved to write:

Like Rod, I keep thinking about the movie. It draws together a lot of amorphous feeling right now - the gnawing sense that modernity has begun to undermine the natural conditions of its flourishing - and focuses it. The two most powerful factors, to my mind, are the confluence of destructive technology and religious terrorism and climate change with highly unpredictable repercussions. It is hard not to feel a Babelian quality about our current moment; and Rod's crunchy conservatism speaks to it powerfully.

Finally, here is one of our own, Amy Reads, pithily encapsulating her WALL-E experience:

Yesterday we went to see Wall-E, which is, in Mr. Reads's words, a movie that will be a favorite for the rest of our lives.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Land That Time Forgot....

It appears that most U.S. Constitutions and Bill of Rights printed and distributed in South Carolina are free from the first amendment, especially the establishment clause.

This is an old story but it is worth discussing in light of other recent posts. I wonder if this is just an election wedge issue?

According to CNN, the South Carolina State Legislature unanimously passes a bill that would allow for a specialty license plate that states, "I Believe." This, of course, does not refer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster but of a specific faith. The South Carolina License Plate is based on a similar one proposed in Florida though that state wisely rejected the idea.

The problem with this is that this amounts to government endorsement of religion, especially since the state would not allow for the same treatment for other or no faiths sice other faiths would only be able to have pictures but no words i.e. a pentagram from the Wicca faith but no "So Mote It Be" to accompany it.

According to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer., the license plate, "allows people of faith to profess that they believe in a higher calling, they believe in God," as if this would not be possible except for the license plate. The Lt. Gov. also attempted to frame this as a free speech right, which is wrong in the first place and amounts to viewpoint discrimination for not allowing other types of "free speech" from atheists, etc.

As I have argued elsewhere: while this may not be the best type of appeal because of its undemocratic nature, using religion as a means of persuasion is tolerable e.g. Social Gospel to help fight poverty. In this case, it would be another form of argumentative field such as law, science, philosophy, etc.

Using the State to deliver a message e.g. License plates, Faith Based Programs Senator Obama, not a good idea. When religion and the state tangle, little good develops as it
has a tendency to corrupt both. Besides, doesn't this act degrade and trivialize religion in this form?

From a refresher, read John Locke's "A Letter Concerning Toleration."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Selling the Drama

On August 28th, 2008-- forty years after Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream," Senator Barack Obama will deliver his nomination acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver though the Democratic Convention will be held at the Pepsi Center in Downtown Denver.

The Reason for this move: a Rhetorical Spectacle. While the Pepsi center can only hold 20,000 people, Invesco Field can hold 75,000.

The expectations may just be a little too high after this move.

Top Academic Blogs

If you are interested, I found this while meandering around at the Blogora: A list of 100 Academic Blogs categorized by academic discipline. Check it out: it features a lot of smart people who say smart things.

Well, maybe. It is not like I have read them all as "I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition."