July 16, 2004

The Heavy Make-Out Sessions of V. Plame, CIA Agent

In previous posts such as this one I've discussed other aspects of the Plame-Wilson affair, but I just noticed that the January 2001 Vanity Fair article has some evidence on the honest of Valerie Plame herself. Early in the article it says,
On the third or fourth date, he says, they were in the middle of a "heavy make-out" session when she said she had something to tell him. She was very conflicted and very nervous, thinking of everything that had gone into getting her to that point, such as money and training.

She was, she explained, undercover in the C.I.A. "It did nothing to dampen my ardor," he says. "My only question was: Is your name really Valerie?"

Later in the article it says, in commenting on Novak's column that said Plame worked for the CIA:
Plame herself thought instantly that the leak was illegal. Even members of her family did not know what she did.

I see an inconsistency. Plame meets a consultant at a party at the Turkish embassy, falls for him immediately (see the rest of the article), and tells him about her job on the fourth date. But she doesn't tell "members of her own family", and she is appalled when a journalist somehow finds out and says she works for the CIA. Maybe if the journalist had gotten his information from a "heavy make-out" session instead, she wouldn't have been so upset.

Posted by erasmuse at 02:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2004


Here we have yet another example of (1) Bush-hating, and (2) the increased vulgarity of America. The New York Times report reports on this concert, the all-time record for political contributions raised in one event.

"Texas Bandito, how much money did you put in your pocket today?" John Mellencamp crooned in a country ballad. "You better split from that Texas Bandito, he's made this world unsafe today. Our thoughts are not free from the Texas Bandito, he's just another cheap thug that sacrifices our young ."

In a two-and-a-half hour gala that raised $7.5 million, a record for a single event, Chevy Chase poked fun at the president's pronunciation of "nuclear" and "terrorist" and said Mr. Bush had invaded Iraq "just so he could be called a wartime president." Paul Newman decried "tax cuts for wealthy thugs like me" as "borderline criminal."

The comedian John Leguizamo, who is half Puerto Rican, said the notion of Hispanics supporting Republicans was "like roaches for Raid." And Whoopi Goldberg, after joking about refusing to submit her material to campaign censors, made an extended sexual pun on the president's surname.

Then the Academy-Award-winning actress Meryl Streep asked which candidates Jesus might support.

"I wondered to myself during 'Shock and Awe,' I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our president's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad?" Ms. Streep said.


After the concert, Mr. Kerry's press secretary, David Wade, said, "Obviously John Kerry and John Edwards do not agree with everything that was said tonight," adding: "Performers have a right to speak their minds even when we don't agree with everything they say. That's the freedom John Kerry put his life on the line to defend."

But unlike one of Mr. Kerry's vanquished primary rivals, Howard Dean, who denounced racial humor and profanity at one of his own fundraisers in New York, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry hardly veered from their script when they mounted the stage at the end of the extravaganza, looking more subdued than they had all week.

"This campaign will be a celebration of real American values," Mr. Edwards promised, saying that voters "deserve a president who knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong."

Mr. Kerry, inviting his and Mr. Edwards's adult children onstage for a sing- along of "This Land Is Your Land," told the crowd that "every single performer" on the bill had "conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country."

It's to the NYT's credit that they reported this, and in this way.
Posted by erasmuse at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2004

Kerry, Langston Hughes, Communism, and the Rectification of Names

Although liberals often link President Bush to the Nazis, Bush never quotes Nazis admiringly. How about Kerry? Does he quote Marxists admiringly? Yes. As Timothy Noah noted in Slate and William Buckley in National Review, and Andrew Sullivan in his weblog, Kerry has more than once quoted the title of a Langton Hughes poem "Let America be America again," which is about the glories of a communist takeover of America:

In the June 1 New York Times, David M. Halbfinger reports that the Kerry campaign thinks it's found a winning slogan in "Let America be America again." They couldn't be more wrong.


Hughes never joined the Communist Party, but he published frequently in its house organs and served as president to the party's principal African-American front group. The same year "Let America Be America Again" was published, Hughes signed a letter supporting the Stalinist purges; he had witnessed, with approval, one of the show trials himself.

Here's a bit more from "Let America be America again".

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--  
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--

Quoting from a bad person is not bad in itself, perhaps. If President Bush quoted a line from some entirely non-political poem of Ezra Pound or from some non-political essay of Heidegger's or De Man's, that would not justify calling Bush a Nazi. It does look bad, I must admit. In his sermon at ECC last Sunday, Pastor Mangrum told about an experiment he heard of that a teacher used on his classes.

The teacher would invent a number of quotations, and distribute two versions to two groups of students. Each version would attribute quotes to people like Hitler, Luther, Lincoln, Stalin, and so forth, but the two versions would attribute different quotes to different people. The teacher would ask the students to say how much they agreed with each quotation. The teacher always found that attribution trumps substance.

I should try that in one of my classes. I'd predict the same thing. But of course that is not reason in itself to criticize Kerry. If the line was from a bad author, but the line and the poem to which it alludes are both correct, then the evil or stupidity of the author does not affect that. Note that I have to add "and the poem to which it alludes", because in quoting one line, you are quoting the poem, unless you make sure to repudiate its associations. "Work will make you free" is a nice line, okay by itself, but if I quote it, I am also linking myself with the Dachau prison gate unless I say I am not.

At any rate, lack of bad context is not an excuse that helps Kerry. He quoted the title from a Hughes poem whose entire thrust is that the America that has existed so far in history is evil and must be replaced by an idealized America that is entirely different.

One might think this is just an unintentional blunder on the part of Kerry-- that neither he nor anyone on his staff has ever actually read the entire poem or knows anything about Langston Hughes. If it was a Republican saying "Let America be America again" that would be plausible. But what is especially striking here is that the idea of this poem *does* capture the way the Left thinks of America.

Here is what I mean by that.

This notion is of course fallacious. Suppose you hate chocolate ice cream, but you want to pretend you favor it. The leftist strategy would be to say,

"I love chocolate ice cream. To be sure, I hate the chocolate ice cream we have now, but that is not real chocolate ice cream. Real chocolate ice cream is white, and tastes like vanilla, and we must all strive to change the false, dark ice cream we have now into true chocolate ice cream."

What would be more honest would be to say, "I hate chocolate ice cream." Or, in the case of America, to say,
"I hate America. It is an evil country, based on capitalism, flag-waving, and other bad things. But I think that it can be replaced by a better system. We must wipe out the old, and replace it with the new."
Confucius was a wise man. This, again is the Rectification of Names problem.

Let's return to Langston Hughes, though. One article to look at is Eric J. Sundquist, "Who Was Langston Hughes?" Commentary, December 1996, Vol. 102, Issue 6:

A characteristic poem of the period, composed for the eighth convention of the Communist party in the United States, begins: "Put one more S in the U.S. A. / To make it Soviet."

In the Soviet Union itself, where he stayed on for almost a year, Hughes ignored clear signs of corruption and repression. Welcoming the privileges of membership in the International Union of Revolutionary Writers, he dashed off "Goodbye, Christ," a poem in which the salvific power of the church gives way to a Leninist pantheon and which would later so haunt his career as to become the centerpiece of an FBI probe. A set of essays for Izvestia favorably compared the Soviet justice system to the American, and in poem after poem in this period Hughes replaced a previously favorite image, the North Star of African-American freedom, with the Red Star of Soviet liberation.

See also James Smethurst, who says,

That Hughes was, with the exception of Richard Wright, the black writer most identified with the Communist Left during the 1930s is undeniable. Hughes's frequent publication of "revolutionary" poetry in the journals and press of the CPUSA, his activity in Communist-initiated campaigns such as the drive to free the Scottsboro defendants and on behalf of the Spanish Republic, his willingness to lend his name to Communist-led or Communist-influenced organizations (e.g., the John Reed Clubs, the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, the National Negro Congress, the League of Professional Groups for Foster and Ford, the League of American Writers), and his public support of the Soviet Union (including his signing of a statement in 1938 supporting the purges of the Old Bolsheviks and others by Stalin) all marked him as an open member of the Communist Left-- whether or not he formally joined the CPUSA.

A couple of other poems round out the picture. First, from Mensnewsdaily,

    We can take anything:
    Factories, arsenals, buses, ships,     
    Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
    Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
    (Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
    Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
    All the tools of production.
    (Great day in the morning!)
    And turn ‘em over to the people who work.
    Rule and run ‘em for us people who work.

    Boy! Them Radios--
    Broadcasting that very first morning to USSR:
    Another member the International Soviets done come
    Greetings to the Socialist Soviet Republics
    Hey you rioting workers everywhere greetings.  
    And we’ll sign it: Germany
    Sign it: China
    Sign it: Africa
    Sign it: Poland
    Sign it: Italy
    Sign it: America
    Sign it with my own name: Worker
    On that day when no one will be hungry, cold, oppressed,
    Anywhere in the world again.

and one of Hughes's better-known poems:

Christ Jesus Lord God Jehovah,
Beat it on away from here now.
Make way for a new guy with no religion at all --
A real guy named
Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME.

Is this the Democratic Party?-- "Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME" ? Remove the peasants and workers, and perhaps it is.
Posted by erasmuse at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2004

Barna on the Politics of Evangelical Christians, Conservatives, Liberals

The Barna Group tells us

Evangelicals are just 7% of the national population. However, they receive an inordinate amount of coverage during major elections because of their alleged influence in the political arena. Evangelicals were one of the most prolific supporters of Mr. Bush in the 2000 election: the incumbent received 83% of the votes cast by the group. (In the 1996 election, evangelicals were less impressed with the Republican candidates, giving Bob Dole 76% of their votes.)

In the forthcoming election, an even higher proportion of evangelicals - 86% - expect to cast their ballot for the President. (Only 8% plan to vote for Mr. Kerry.) The only voting blocks of similar consensus in their choice of a candidate are conservative Republicans (94% favoring Mr. Bush), people who voted for Mr. Bush in 2000 (88% again supporting the Texan), liberal Democrats (95% in support of Mr. Kerry), and blacks (77% of whom expect to vote for the Democratic nominee). Gay adults, who constitute 4% of the adult population, are the population group most likely to vote (93% expected turnout) but they are comparatively less unanimous in their candidate of preference (67% to 23% in favor of Mr. Kerry).

It would not be surprising if 100% of Christians voted for one party, or that a party received 0% of Christian votes. Indeed, that is what we would expect. Suppose you are in Germany in 1930. In the election that year, would it be alarming if no Christians voted for the Nazi or Communist parties? No-- we should hope for that result, since both parties were anti-Christian. It would be improper for pastors to preach against the Nazis from the pulpit, I suppose, but outside the church they should be active. And there is nothing wrong with distributing the church membership lists. Indeed, the churches could be quite neutral on this, and distribute their lists to all parties-- but the Center Party (the Catholic one) would get the benefit. [By the way: I would not be surprised if, to the shame of Christianity, Lutherans voted heavily for the Nazis despite Nazi anti-Christianity. But that says more about the sincerity of the Lutherans of 1930 Germany than about true Christianity, I think. Just look at the secularism of the German Lutheran church now, and you'll understand. ]

Going a bit further, consider the black vote. It goes 77% Democrat. That means black churches must be going heavily Democrat too. Maybe that is because of improper partisanship from the pulpit, but we might expect it anyway.

Posted by erasmuse at 10:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack