Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Street Name Retreat

An Update.

The Board of Selectmen in Mansfield voted last night 3-0 to reverse their earlier decision to change the name of one of the streets from Giles Place to Ronald Reagan Way. This was in response to letters from Democrats in town (see below) and appeals from the Giles family who'd been blindsided by the name change. (The Giles family gave the land the street is on to the town decades ago).

The good guys won! I didn't see the BOS meeting but I'm told they were sheepish and chagrined and they quietly voted to reverse themselves without any discussion.

Friday, March 24, 2006

God$%! Charts

This is interesting. I'm trying to figure out the original source but I found it here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Good Old Fashioned letter to the editor

The Board of Selectmen in Mansfield voted to change the name of one of the streets in town to Ronald Reagan Way. It's a blatantly partisan abuse of their power and the Mansfield Dems are calling them on it. Below is the letter we sent to the local paper. The good old fashioned letter to the editor is one way to improve the human condition; especially if you can make people laugh.

Revealed: The Selectmen’s Secret Plot to
Change Street Names

Recently it was discovered that the Mansfield Board of Selectmen took a well deserved break from discussing the future of our town; the problem of a growing school age population and how to find the resources to educate them; access to affordable housing balanced against retaining our fair town’s character and rural feel . . . you know, that stuff. Their discussion of these items took a brief respite as they turned their attention to a more pressing and vital matter—changing the name of one our streets from its historical name, Giles Place, to Ronald Reagan Way.

The first question a fair-minded voter might ask is “Who elected these people?” Well ok that’s the second question; the first question is “Why would they do that?” The answer is more complicated than you’d think. It turns out the selectmen, in concert with right wing Republicans around the Country, plan to change all of the town’s street names to honor right wing Republicans. This shocking fact was only recently revealed as the plan was secretly conveyed on an episode of Pat Robertson’s 700 Club. To the uninitiated it sounded like Robertson gave a speech where he blamed the destruction of New Orleans by hurricane Katrina on the city’s Godless ways. (Come on! Who would say that?). But to Republican initiates who have the secret decoder ring, like our Selectmen, it revealed the national conservative plan to change all of our street names to honor Republicans.

The plan is outrageous in its reach and depth. Again, you might think national Republicans would be too busy increasing the Country’s debt ceiling to its now historic level of 9 trillion dollars (you read it right, trillion) to find time to come up with this audacious plan. But somehow, between meetings with K Street lobbyists to help them draft a lobbying reform plan, they found a way. The plan involves changing the rest of the town’s street names at future Selectmen’s meetings. Here’s a sample of the names you can expect to see gracing a street sign near you:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger WayA street that makes sharp turns to the left after making short, embarrassing turns to the right.

Rev. Jerry Falwell LaneA street where you have to be a right wing Christian to live on it and if anyone’s house burns down, blame it on their lack of Christian values.

Ann Coulter St – If you live on this street at least once a day you have to open your window stick your head out and yell something insensible and insulting to everyone’s intelligence; then go back inside and call your neighbors to explain that the Liberal media distorted what they heard.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist Lane – This is actually a nice street to live on, everyone here is a doctor and if you’re sick they can diagnose you without ever seeing you in person (as Sen Frist did via videotape of Terri Schiavo); unfortunately the diagnosis success rate is zero.

Rush Limbaugh Lane – This street used to have lots of people called “dittoheads” but then people realized how really dumb you’d have to be to call yourself a dittohead so no one lives there anymore.

Newt Gingrich Road – This street is in the bad part of town. To live on this street you have to sign a contract with America where you pledge to vote against paying for any town services and then be indignant when your street isn’t plowed.

Tom Delay Way –(has a nice ring to it actually). Here you have to be against the teaching of evolution anywhere on your street and if you don’t like your neighbors you can just redistrict them off your street. Also, every other house is occupied by a lawyer, which helps with the pesky corruption charges.

Mitt Romney Road – This street is deceptive; you think it will be a nice middle of the road, road but then it turns sharply to the right. Also this street sometimes disappears and shows up in other states where it badmouths its previous location.

The G.W. Bush Roadway (or Dubya Drive) – Even though less than half the residents voted to change this street name the Supreme Court intervened and . . . well you know the rest. Also, there are no newspaper deliveries on this street and every Tuesday neighbors look for WMDs but so far none have been found.

So watch your street signs and maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few who have their street name changed to honor a politician who never lived here. As they say in all the blue states these days: Good night and good luck.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Good Quote

I like this quote, which I found here -- so I'm sharing.

“TACTICS is knowing what to do when there is something to do. STRATEGY is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.”

--Chess Grandmaster Sawielly Tartakower

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


This is a bit too simple for my tastes but I think it engages people and I think we need to use mockery and symbolism more effectively; this cartoon does a great job on both fronts. My concern is that the the cutsey presentation will insult people's intelligence.

Also, while we had an opportunity to reap a peace dividend shortly after the cold war ended, in the age of terrorism, I think it would be a mistake to present policy choices that take funding from the military and spend them exclusively on social programs. I could take the whole thing a little more seriously if a few of those cookies were added to a pile on containing "loose nukes" or stopping the genocide in Darfur. Both of these are security items that liberals have prioritized and we should call the Right out on this.

On the other hand, I'm arguing with a cartoon.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Words Matter

The term "war on terrorism" has been politically useful for the Right since Bush started using it shortly after the invasion of Iraq. The idea that we are at "war" helped Bush win reelection and is used as the background justification for domestic wiretapping and detention policies that American's might never have otherwise allowed. Denying that "war" is the correct term for the state of conflict we find ourselves in with terrorists is a difficult part of an argument with people on the Right, it leads to the counter argument that liberals don't understand the "post 9/11" world; an argument I don't mind having but it is tedious to get bogged down arguing terminology.

Worse, liberals haven't really had an alternate term to describe the current state of conflict (see!). Well a sensible neocon has come to our rescue (I know that's a little depressing . . .any port in a storm I guess). Francis Fukuyama's essay in the NY Times Magazine refers to the conflict as a "struggle."
We are fighting hot counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and against the international jihadist movement, wars in which we need to prevail. But "war" is the wrong metaphor for the broader struggle, since wars are fought at full intensity and have clear beginnings and endings. Meeting the jihadist challenge is more of a "long, twilight struggle" whose core is not a military campaign but a political contest for the hearts and minds of ordinary Muslims around the world.
Now calling it a "struggle" while they call it a "war" would've been political suicide a year ago. Voters were still deciding who to support based on their fear of terrorism and fear is too powerful a motivator to be countered with semantics. But the the political landscape will be dominated by Iraq and terrorism for the next decade so liberals better figure out another way to describe it if we want to convince people that our solution is better than the Right's. "Struggle" alone may not suffice as a sufficiently evocative term but it lends itself to many adjectives: "long struggle," "worldwide struggle," "historic struggle," even "violent struggle." All these terms capture the enormity of the task but are more honest and less Orwellian.

The larger point in Fukuyama's essay is that the Bush policy has failed and it's failed in part because Bush overreached by seeing the "new struggle" against terrorism and Islamo-facism as a "war." Wars are not fought against particular tactics--which is what terrorism is--or against ideologies--we didn't fight Communism as an ideology, we fought the nations that practiced a version of it which threatened us directly--wars are fought against opponents. Terrorism, and that variety of its wielders who loathe America and the principles of modernism and democracy, on the other hand are things which we must struggle to defeat. It is a struggle in part because unlike a war, we will not know when we have won until long after we already have.