An audio tape purported to carry the voice of Osama bin Laden called on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and defend themselves against a U.S. attack. “We stress the importance of martyrdom attacks against the enemy,” said the speaker on the tape, aired Tuesday on the al-Jazeera Arab satellite station...“We advise about the importance of drawing the enemy into long, close and tiring fighting, taking advantage of camouflaged positions in plains, farms, mountains and cities,” he said. He added that the enemy is terrified about urban warfare “because they will have big casualties.”...Before the tape even aired, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel of its existence and said it would show why the world needs to be concerned about Iraqi ties to terrorism.
The only thing I can say to this is: Gee, how VERY convenient!
Anyway, on to my main topic, and I should warn you that if you're not familiar with US politics this is probably going to be very boring.
Today I was in my local bookstore (which, incidentally, sucks) looking for Frog and Toad books. I didn't find any, but I did see a book which caught my eye. It was by a woman named Ann Coulter called Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right. Out of sheer curiosity I picked it up and started reading the dust jacket, then I did something I've never done in a bookstore before: I laughed out loud, very loudly. I don't think I've ever laughed that loudly in a bookstore, and I have spent time in bookstores reading whole chapters of Dave Barry books, and Dave Barry is one of the funniest people in the world to me.
I should take a moment to disclaim myself: I consider myself to be neither a liberal nor a conservative, but a left-leaning moderate, although I will admit that if left in the presence of really outspoken conservatives for too long I do find myself leaning further and further to the left. I definitely have a bias against conservatives. I think it's because I used to be one.
When I was a child, I was a hardcore conservative. This, I believe, is because I was still cognitively and socially immature. As I grew older, I gradually learned that not everything is a matter of black and white, and as I had more and more of my beliefs challenged, I modified these beliefs. However, I still believed I was a conservative until my senior year of high school, when, in one of the more useful government lessons I attended, I took a test to determine my political standing, and found myself to be a left-leaning moderate. I thought about that and decided, "I'm okay with that. I like myself the way I am."
Then I began to look at who was considered liberal and who was considered conservative, and when I heard the views I had held as a child coming out of the mouths of grown men and women, it seemed to me that they were being very childish, that they were not fully developed in cognitive and social terms. I know that's not fair, but I can't help thinking that conservatives sound like whiny children. That's my bias. I'm not proud of it, but there it is.
Anyway, getting back to this book: the dust jacket was just a big whiny sob-story, oh, the liberals are mean to us, they never miss a chance to paint us as big, dumb, racist assholes, they control the media and constantly malign us, boo hoo hoo, poor little us!
Now, another caveat here; I haven't spent much time in other parts of the country, and certainly not enough to discern the political atmosphere of the other places I've visited, but in my neck of the woods, it's the conservatives that have all the power. In my hometown, in my college town, and in most of my state, the conservatives hold the whip.
Now, I've met plenty of conservatives and have heard a lot of other ones speak. Lots and lots of them rallied together in my hometown five years ago to campaign against the production of a high school play because it had subject matter that offended them, and they were successful. The way they talked, you'd think that the director of this play was going to force every student in the high school--no, every student in the town--no, every PERSON in the town--to view this play. They said things like, "Our children shouldn't be exposed to this kind of thing," as though it was a disease. Yes, God forbid that students should be exposed to NEW IDEAS! That's not the POINT of school or anything! I didn't need any liberal-biased media to tell me that these people were meddling, self-important ignoramuses; I could see it for myself.
About this liberal-biased media business: I don't believe it. Try telling that to anyone who had a hometown newspaper like mine. The response will probably be a hearty guffaw. The conservatives have my hometown newspaper by the balls. Almost of the opinion columns it runs, as well as most of its political cartoons, are quite conservative. And most of them spend most of their time whining about how the big, bad, liberal-biased media twists everything they say, until I want to scream, "Too bad the liberal-biased media never gives you a chance to DEFEND yourselves! Oh wait..."
On the dust jacket of this book it said something about how liberals are constantly maligning and insulting the conservatives, always trying to paint them in a bad light, while they always take the high road and are innocent victims. Yeah right. Try telling that to anyone who's seen ads for the Republican candidate for senator with a picture of the Democratic Senate candidate accompanied by a voice-over that says, "The Democratic Senate candidate is a liberal!" in the same tone they might have said, "The Democratic Senate candidate eats babies and kicks puppies." This happened to me a long time ago, before I even knew what it meant to be liberal or conservative. It sure didn't make me too eager to be liberal, though.
Now of course when I say, "Try telling this to anyone who..." I of course mean try telling this to anyone who meets the criteria I have stated AND happens to consider themselves a liberal, or a left-leaning moderate like me. Any conservative you ask will probably put their hand to their forehead and wail melodramatically, "Oh, it's true, poor little us, we are such innocent victims, woe is powerless little me!"
I can't help but wonder, if the liberals really have as much influence as Ann Coulter and people like her claim, wouldn't the last presidential election have been less close than it was? I mean, yes, there was the whole Florida controversy, but still, that was only one state, if everything else went exactly the way it's supposed to it seems to me that the conversatives have plenty of support.
Incidentally, I didn't read the Ann Coulter book I referred to earlier, so I probably shouldn't judge it too harshly. I don't plan to read it either, (take from that what you will), but if anyone reads or has read it and wants to summarize the main points for me I'd be interested to see what it says.
There is something I should say here. While I do enjoy taking out my frustrations on the conservatives, it is not so much conservatism that I object to as I do extremism. Extremism in any ideology, be it political or religious, is very dangerous. I have met up with some ultra-liberals, and they annoyed me just as much as the ultra-conservatives. And, like the ultra-conservatives, they meant well, but tended to do more harm than good