Blur Circle

Steve Yost's weblog

November 14, 2004
the difference between democracy and a tyrant

After reading Bush's badly misguided "we'll hold their feet to the fire" quote from the Blair/Bush news conference in so many news sources, I had to find the full text to see the full context. And it's not much better -- in fact it's worse. Here's a longer excerpt of Bush's comment (my emphasis):

But if you're true to democracy you'll listen to the people, not to your own desires. If you're true to democracy, you'll do what the people want you to do. That's the difference between democracy and a tyrant.

And the Palestinians may decide to elect a real strong personality, but we'll hold their feet to the fire to make sure that democracy prevails, that there are free elections. And if they don't - the people of the Palestinian territory don't like the way this person is responding to their needs, they will vote him or her out.

So, at first I imagined Bush merely suffered a badly executed chain of associative language:
"hold elections" => "we'll hold [them to it]" (hmm, too bluntly coercive, better use a colorful 'Texas' phrase here) => "we'll hold their feet to the fire"
resulting in an evocation of Cortez's torture of the Aztec priest to extract from him the location of treasure. It could be that the origin of that idiomatic phrase is more obscure than I think, but in any case it's a terrible choice of image in such a volatile situation. But when Bush follows that with what sounds like the beginning of a threat "And if they don't" , then corrects with an image of democracy in action, it's confirmed for me. Even given the best possible interepretation of motives -- and the image of worldwide democracy eliminating war is a nice one, if unrealistic -- at best, this kind of horrendously undiplomatic speechmaking is a huge problem.

November 12, 2004

Drat. My little corner of the web just got less interesting. But I understand. I had a dream the other day: a Great Master of some sort made a gesture to me that revealed the ultimate truth. I thought "Awesome, I'll have to blog this" and lost my only chance for enlightenment.

November 11, 2004
Best election map

Here are the most informative set of election maps I've seen. And here's a simple one that defuses the "red vs. blue states" thinking a bit. Thanks to Peter Broadwell.

November 06, 2004
President Nixon. Now more than ever.

Here's an old bumper sticker I have that I'm seriously thinking about putting on my car.


A better election map

Election maps like these might help keep us from making broad generalizations about the south, etc. The Democratic swath on the southern Mississippi River is insteresting, but even more interesting is the east-west line of Democratic concentration running through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, which doesn't seem correlate with population centers or even a major river. But here's another political map and discussion.

November 05, 2004

My wife tells me that a friend of hers who worked hard on the Kerry campaign relayed the following statistic. Before the election the "waiting list" for moving to Canda from the US was 2 months long; now it's a year and a half. [Update - debunked: "There is no unusual activity occurring at our visa missions (in the US). Having someone who intends to come to Canada is not the same as someone actually putting in an application".]

But wait, people! Instead, I propose the following two-part plan for victory in 2008.

  • First, everyone who wants to move to Canada should move instead to Ohio (statistic to watch: housing prices in Oberlin).
  • Second, take a large portion of the DNC budget and use it to fund trips to Europe for the entire southern population of Ohio, to add a touch of the global perspective that might be useful to many of our interior state residents (yeah, I'm assuming they get out of the country less because flights are longer, and that their location exhibits or reinforces a lower propensity for exposure to the bigger world).

Seriously, though. This is a huge country, and the strain of division could become more serious. We need to mix more.

November 03, 2004
Cat funeral

There seem to be many quotes in this month's Sunbeams that apply to this moment. But it feels like reading a Hallmark card in the face of the impending decline of a civilization.

Enjoying a Schrödinger moment

I just woke up and haven't seen any news yet. Does the rustle of leaves outside tell me anything about our next president? Is there a message in the way cars are driving down my street?

November 01, 2004
On the cusp

I've got that beginner airplane passenger feeling that still overcomes me at takeoff and landing. If I say a prayer, will it really help the safety of this flight? I'll do it anyway.

Have I done enough? Surely I haven't done all I possibly can.

God help us tomorrow.