More Coulter, Peoria Journal Star stuff, and an ex-Mayor weighs in.
I'll talk more about the race later; I had fun with Tracy and seeing Mark (from Chicago) and other friends. I even shook hands with Representative Ray LaHood prior to the race.
But this was the best walk I've had in a long time. Tracy ran well (44 minutes or so) and Mark looked strong with 35:20 (he is a strong masters racewalker with 7:55 one mile speed).
Now back to politics.
First, our former mayor weighs in on world events:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I guess what is starting to scare me is the relative calm and detachment I find in myself as I read the latest reports of violence from Iraq. It's almost as if I have grown oblivious to the death, destruction and carnage that is taking place daily.
America invaded Iraq for the wrong reasons, was totally unprepared for the occupation and, in my opinion, will never defeat terrorism militarily. We are losing allies and friends throughout the world and passing the cost of this war onto our children and grandchildren.
Peoria Congressman Ray LaHood returns from a whirlwind tour of Iraq saying we are making great progress in bringing democracy to that region. That may be so and, maybe, as he says, the press is only reporting the bad and not all the good America is doing. If we succeed in our mission, my question to LaHood would be: At what cost to America?
I have been an optimist all of my life, and I am now very worried for our nation and our way of life. In the new world economy, America has great competitive problems that the Bush administration simply refuses to deal with because fixing them would involve some unpleasant medicine. We have an economy built on consumption and credit with a zero savings rate. We borrow 80 percent of the world's savings to finance our record debt. We have no coherent, long-term energy policy.
Our entitlement programs are set to bankrupt the country. Our health-care system is an expensive time bomb and one-third of our public schools are dysfunctional. China and India combined last year graduated 950,000 engineers to our 70,000, and our national bill for litigation is now larger than what we spend for research and development. We build new roads and bridges in Iraq but can't protect New Orleans from a flood.
These issues are apparently not weighty enough for our president, so he chooses instead to focus on the threat of homosexual marriage to our nation, shamelessly pandering to his political base by asking for a change in our Constitution. This is an unnecessary overreach of big government, a waste of congressional time and something true conservatives should be ashamed of.
Continuing to divert our energy and resources to build a model of democracy in Iraq may very well get accomplished with enough money and time. But at what cost to America and our way of life?
Former mayor, city of Peoria
Mr. Grieves is certainly conservative, but at least he agrees that our political leaders are focusing on all of the wrong issues.Next, we have this column by Leonard Pitts about Ann Coulter. It appeared in a recent Journal Star:
Leonard Pitts Jr.: 'Ann Coulter: Vicious front woman for the malicious right'
Posted on Sunday, June 11 @ 09:25:43 EDT
This article has been read 4517 times.
WASHINGTON // Apparently, it's news that Ann Coulter is a nasty piece of work.
I had rather thought that was the attraction, at least for those people who find her attractive. So forgive me for being mildly mystified by recent headlines about her most recent spasm of trash mouth, i.e., her attack on four women who lost their husbands in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
But then, the attack is vicious even by Ms. Coulter's standards: In her latest book, whose title you won't read here, she savages the widows as "self-obsessed" and "witches."
"These broads are millionaires," she writes, "lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
Evidently, the widows' sins are that they pushed for an independent commission to investigate 9/11 intelligence failures, they are critical of the Bush administration and they endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president.
The nerve of them.
Ms. Coulter's tirade has drawn bipartisan condemnation - New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton called it "vicious," while the state's Republican governor, George E. Pataki, declared Ms. Coulter "far worse than insensitive" - but c'mon. This is all part of the shtick for this chick. I mean, we're talking about the woman who said that Timothy McVeigh's only mistake was in not blowing up The New York Times building and that we should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert the people to Christianity.
Frankly, it's easy to do what Ms. Coulter does. Just say the most outrageous thing in the most inflammatory way. Just give moral and mental cover to that small-minded, anti-intellectual strain of the electorate that recoils like Superman in the face of Kryptonite from complexity and incertitude. And when people call you on it, just wrap yourself in the flag and declare yourself a straight-shootin' conservative under siege by that mean ol' liberal media.
It plays like gangbusters in Peoria. And never mind that it's a brazen lie. Ann Coulter is not reviled because she is conservative. Some of the best and most respected pundits in the country are conservative: George F. Will, Kathleen Parker and Charles Krauthammer, to name just three. They offer smart, snarky, cogent analyses of world and national events, and if you disagree with them, as I not infrequently do, you will be required to do some mental heavy lifting to dismantle their arguments. They challenge you.
No, Ms. Coulter is reviled because she is mean, malicious, the barbed-wire front woman for a cabal of bloviators, bully boys and blowhards (Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage and too many others) who are pleased to regard themselves as the guardians of conservatism's soul. Conservatism's soul should sue for slander.
But again, it plays in Peoria. And why not? It is loud, simple, stupid. Not unlike The Jerry Springer Show.
The nation's political discourse has never been as polite and decorous as we like to think. Abraham Lincoln's political foes called him a baboon, Lyndon Johnson once said that Gerald Ford played too much football without a helmet.
When, however, even widows become fair game for a viperous harridan with an ax to grind and books to sell, maybe decent people should wonder at the lines we have crossed and the type of the nation we have become in the process.
Ms. Coulter's victims, by the way, felt compelled to release a statement. It said in part: "Contrary to Ms. Coulter's statements, there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive. There was no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again." In a better nation, that would go without saying.
Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for The Miami Herald. His column appears Sundays in The Sun. His e-mail is email@example.com.
Unfortunately, there are many who overreacted to his "play in Peoria" comment. He didn't mean that she was popular here; he meant that she does have a strong following among a large segment of the general public; I blogged about that here.
Pitts wrong, Coulter isn't playing in Peoria
Think about this. Emphaisis mine. These clowns are comparing the hateful stuff that Coulter says with a thoughtless use of a popular cliche. You know, our reputation of being an insipid, small time hick town is well deserved. Please note that I used the word "our" as I live in Peoria and consider myself a Peorian all the way, even though I moved here in 1991. I'll probably retire here too, provided I live that long. And yes, I live in the city limits.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Ann Coulter is a made-for-TV screamer, a conservative commentator who's fashioned a lucrative career from being outrageous. Recently she topped herself by attacking four 9-11 widows, writing in a new book that "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much," among other insults.
Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist whose somewhat more liberal views appear regularly on this page. Unfortunately, in giving Coulter what she has coming today, Pitts disparages Peoria, writing that her brand of "loud, simple, stupid" venom "plays like gangbusters in Peoria . . . not unlike 'The Jerry Springer Show.'"
For decades the "will it play in Peoria?" routine has been both blessing and curse, prostituted from its original, vaudevillian intent to become a catch-all phrase for average, or worse. Never mind that one of the world's most cutting-edge companies is headquartered here, or that Peorians tend to zig-zag across an election ballot in this bluest of blue states, or that the 1964 Civil Rights Act wouldn't have happened without a GOP senator named Ev Dirksen from nearby Pekin championing the cause, or that Peoria has spawned a diverse range of notables, from Richard Pryor, a Pitts' favorite, to feminist Betty Friedan. Or that . . .
Like any city, Peoria falls short of perfect, but to suggest we embody "that small-minded, anti-intellectual strain of the electorate that recoils like Superman in the face of Kryptonite from complexity," as Pitts does, hardly seems warranted. Peoria also lost a local young man on 9-11. We can't imagine too many locals giving Coulter - as unrestrained by conscience and compassion and as unrepentant as ever - a standing ovation here, whether they agree with her politics or not. Her book may top Amazon's best-seller list, but central Illinois alone didn't put it there. We'd hope that's not wishful thinking.
We tried to reach Pitts, without success. Perhaps he grabbed onto the first cliche that came to mind and ran with it. Maybe this goes to show that both right and left can be wrong, and knee-jerk, and unfair. Let's just say those of us who try to be polite and productive here in Peoria disagree with both, and leave it at that.
But, they are right on a point: people like Coulter don't really play all that well here. Peoria is sort of your basic "purple" middle-of-the-road type of place; it just isn't mean spirited in either direction.
But Pitts is classy; he published an apology in the Journal Star today, and the Journal Star crowed about our "sticking up for ourselves" (virtual eyeroll here). You know, we sometimes take ourselves too seriously.
Now more about Coulter: (cross posted at the Daily Kos)