Friday, October 22, 2004

Some letters...

Joe Loconte from the [right-wing] Heritage Foundation wrote this article on Bush and faith.

You can go read it yourself. It's totally full of shit.

Anyway, I wrote Joe a letter:

To: Loconte, JoeSubject: who was your article addressed to?

As a member of the "reality-based community" I was wondering who your article was addressed to. I was also wondering if you're a member of the reality-based community, or if you're one of the people mentioned in Suskind's article who believe that you make a different reality every day.

Conservatives used to belong to the reality-based community: during the Clinton years there was always aconservative ready to stand up and say "Yes, BUT.."and bring everyone back to reality. I always thought it was the left that lived in Fantasyland. Where did you all go? Am I the only one who hasn't moved from the reality based community to the neighborhood of make-believe?

Brendan Skwire

Joe wrote back:

Mr. Skwire,

Thanks for your note. My op-ed was, in fact, addressed to the reality based community. But if you agree that the President of the UNited States "is just like" the Islamic radicals, then it's fair to ask what realities are guiding your political views. The Christian realist, Reinhold Niebuhr, called it "sheer moral perversity" to equate the failings of liberal democracies with fascist tyrannies. Worth mulling as we consider the rhetorical abuse heaped on Bush and the United States these days.

Sincerely, Joe Loconte

Well that was just lame, so I wrote back again:

But if you agree that the President of the UNited States "is just like" the Islamic radicals

Um, where in my email do I say that? Don't put words in my mouth. I'm not Bruce Bartlett. You have a problem with him saying that, go tell him, not me.

ask what realities are guiding your political views.

Since you're asking, here are some realities guiding my political views. This may take awhile.

One reality is that in 2003 I got laid off and lost my health care; that the job I finally found after nearly a year of looking pays $12K less than my last position and offers no benefits (the job is a position writing descriptions of pornography films available online. Who knew "gobbling" was such a popular gerund in the pornography industry?). I've gone from being a professional writer with 6 years of solid experience under my belt, $32K a year... to a smut peddler making $19K after taxes. Did I mention I have a baby? Mr. Bush says, in the face of a number of critics from theleft and the right, that his tax cuts are growing the economy. I'm not seeing it. This political reality is shaping my views.

Another reality is that I'm a pretty conservative guy,and I don't see any need to mess with the constitution unless absolutely necessary: denying marriage rights to a whole group of people ain't absolutely necessary especially when it's due to the objections of a major religious group. I thought in a liberal democracy, no one religion gets preference over another. You say in your article that "Bush often reaches for a principled compromise - and is hesitant to act unless he sees a strong consensus to do so." I'm looking at the amendment, which even many republicans like Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay admitted was just a tool to embarrass democrats and had no chance of passing, and I'm not seeing any of this "compromise" stuff you're talking about. This is one of the most divisive presidents in history. That's a political reality shaping my views.

Another reality is that despite the "neighborhood of make believe" talk about painting schools and healthcare for all Iraqis (while we have lines next door inNJ because we're rationing flu shots because we don't have a health care system here), I read (in a number of sources from the left, right, and center) that things aren't going very well. When you have to keep coming back to Congress and ask for even MORE moneyfor a war that was supposed to be over very quickly, the neighborhood of make believe talk is pretty well undermined. Mr. Bush keeps saying things are going well and there's lots of progress in Iraq. Meanwhile,Poland (a country I will never forget) is pulling out and saying they're upset that they were "taken for a ride" on the WMD claims. That's a reality that's shaping my political views.

And then there are issues of taxes, which I pay close attention to (I'm a homeowner, and this talk of eliminating the mortgage payment deduction is not sitting well with me at all).

The Christian realist, Reinhold Niebuhr, called it"sheer moral perversity" to equate the failings of liberal democracies with fascist tyrannies.

Again, I never equated the failings etc. But you seem to be suggesting that I am. I will suggest that taking out a fascist tyranny for the sake of it wasn't such a hot idea. There were no wmds or robot drones; the intelligence was not only bad, it was cherrypicked according to pretty much just about everyone; and Saddam Hussein, whatever his faults, hated radical islamists as much as we do and slaughtered them wholesale, while we give up control of Fallujah to radical Islamic insurgents. Now, I know that in the white house, a new reality is invented every day for people like you to write about (their words, not mine), but Joe as I read your article over again, no offense, there are so many flawed examples within it that, like Dick Cheney debating John Edwards, I don't know where to start.

I am VERY thankful to my father for teaching me early to question everything.

Brendan Skwire

Well, I waited a couple of days, but no response from Joe, so I wrote him a second letter.

I'm disappointed. I figured a smart fella like you would have some explanation for all these realities I described to you.

It's OK though: it's very difficult to reconcile the cognitive dissonance when theory hits reality. I hope you remain employed at Heritage for a longtime. It's ugly out here in the reality-based community.

Here are 2 letters merged into one regarding the Philadelphia Inquirer's complaint that John Kerry had the sheer audacity to point out what everyone already knows: that Mary Cheney is a lesbian. The letter was forwarded with further comments to Jill Porter, normally a rational voice at the Philadelphia Daily News (commentary for Jill will be boldfaced):

I sent this letter to the editor at your sister publication yesterday, knowing that it wouldn't be printed (not because of the content, but because I write a lot of letters and was printed recently). I am copying it to you. [for the record, I agree withyour comments about McGreevey 100%: he's an utter disgrace.]

To the editor:

Give it a rest already.

The last time I looked, Mary Cheney was not only a lesbian, she had been out for years, acting as Bush/Cheney's campaign liaison to the gay community in 2000, and before that acting as Coors Brewing's liaison to the gay community. How then is it wrong for John Kerry to point out what everyone already knows? Why shouldn't conservative Christians be reminded of the foundation of hypocrisy upon which their champions stand?

The truly shocking moments from the evening's debates were Bush's outright lie that he had never said he was unconcerned about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts, and Bush's shameless suggestion that Americans go without a flu shot this year so we could ration supplies for the young and elderly (this after saying that it was Kerry's health care plan that would cause rationing). You should be talking about the lines for vaccines in New Jersey.

I believe it was Lenin who spoke of "useful idiots". Whether the editorial staff at the Inquirer knows it or not, that is EXACTLY the role you are playing. You can do better than this.

Brendan Skwire

I will add Jill, that John Kerry's comments were very positive about the Cheneys' love for their daughter. When John Edwards said the same thing the week before, Cheney very graciously said "thank you."I will also add that Mary Cheney has been publicly OUT for years. if it's so embarrassing that she's gay, why was she BC2000's liaison to the gay community?

It's interesting to hear Lynne so protective yet embarrased of her daughter, as if being gay is a secret shame like alcoholism or something. Where were Lynne and Dick when Bush was pushing that awful marriage amendment? Where were they 2 years ago whenTrent Lott compared gay people to kleptomaniacs? Hell, where was their outrage 2 weeks ago when AlanKeyes (whose daughter is gay) said that Mary Cheney is a "selfish hedonistic person", as are all gay people. Keyes named Mary Cheney specifically: there was not a peep out of the Cheneys, or from any of the other members of the Peanut Gallery.

I can't quite figure it out Jill: John Kerry remarks positively upon the Cheney's relationship with their openly gay daughter, noting that it transcends politics, and it's like he's committed a heinous crime. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell come on TV the day after some a**hole flies a plane into the World Trade Center, and say it's the fault of homosexuals (and feminists, liberals, democrats) and Dick Cheney and his lovely wife say nothing.

If you haven't seen Jon Stewart's takedown of Tucker Carlson on "Crossfire", you really ought to. Because by jumping on John Kerry for this innocuous statement, you are committing the same type of media bandwagon hackery. I read your column regularly and I think you are a smarter person than that. Your columns on McGreevey have been right on. The baby-sleeping columns have actually changed my habits when it comes to letting my infant into the bed with me. It is disheartening and embarrassing to see someone who really DOES have common sense wallow into the pigsty.

What a shame.

Brendan Skwire

No response from Jill either.

The Philadelphia daily News DID however publish my most recent letter to the editor:

It's great to know that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum and John Kerry and John Edwards and Chaka Fattah and Joe Hoeffel and everyone else in Congress gets free flu shots, while the rest of us stand in line.

Who pays for this?

How is it fair that I go without a flu shot, when I'm poor and have no health insurance or paid sick time, but my representatives in government, all of whom are well-to-do, get flu shots free of charge?

"All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."

Brendan Skwire


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