December 28, 2003


Back and glad to be back. Hope everyone had a great holiday time.

December 24, 2003

Christmas post

We are in Colorado at an undisclosed location. :) The mountains are beautiful and we actually skied in a different undisclosed location. I personally beat Cold in Laramie 2 out of 3 games with his PS2, much to his chagrin.

May post more later as time permits. Hope all of you are having a great Christmas!

December 17, 2003

More Daily Show

This is actually from the other night as well, but Jon Stewart had a great line about Saddam's look after 9 months. "After 9 months, the best you could come up with to elude capture was: beard? That's right. Beard."

Well, I thought it was funny. Last night he made fun of how the 24 hour news channels dealt with the story. After it was done, how do you continue to stretch out the news cycle. On MSNBC, they had a mockup of the "hole" and the cute anchor demonstrated by climbing in and laying down in the bottom. It was surreal.

December 16, 2003

Yahoo! News - Bush: Saddam Deserves 'Ultimate Penalty'
: "'Let's just see what penalty he gets, but I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty ... for what he has done to his people,' Bush said. 'I mean, he is a torturer, a murderer, they had rape rooms. This is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice.' "

Ah, the death penalty again. If anyone deserves it, he does. but what will it gain us? What will it prove? That we can do what he did--kill people?

Why is it that the rest of the industrialized world rejects the death penalty, while we join the despots and tyrants of the world in supporting it?
Toby Keith on America

I have tried to find the transcript on the Dan Rather interview, but the only partials I find focus on Toby's dislike of Peter Jennings. I saw part where Toby talked about his faith and how he was a Christian in a world where Jesus was becoming "tragically unhip."

I won't speak to Keith's faith. Who knows what people actually believe. But his songs and actions do not speak to a Christianity founded in anything close to Christian compassion. Sticking "a boot up your ass" isn't in the Bible (unless it is somewhere toward the back), nor is comparing people to a viscious dictator just because they disagree with you. Hell, his breakout song "How do you like me now" is an in your face song that embraces pride and, what can be called, the opposite of turn the other cheek. How does he exemplify Christianity?

Then again, how does Bush?

December 15, 2003

Daily Show on Saddam's Capture

Best line. "After months and months of searching, we have finally captured the guy who had nothing to do with 9-11."

I love the fact that the Republicans are gloating about this as if this finally is proof of the war's rightness. No one ever doubted the existence of Saddam! His capture (or death) was assumed at the beginning of this war, remember?

All this means is that it took the hard working troops longer than expected. Nothing changes. Even finding WMDs would not change the facts of the war: Bush lied to us to get us into the war. Saddam was a dangerous regional tyrant. Osama is a dangerous worldwide terrorist. Who did we focus on? Right after Sept. 11, that is (remember the great Bush quote? Something like "Fuck Saddam. We are taking him out.") Nothing has changed. - Bush: 'Good riddance' to Saddam - Dec. 15, 2003: "Bush responded: 'Good riddance. The world is better off without you, Mr. Saddam Hussein.

'I find it very interesting that when the heat got on, you dug yourself a hole, and you crawled in it,' the president said. 'And our brave troops, combined with good intelligence, found you, and you'll be brought to justice, something you did not afford the people you brutalized in your own country.' "

I have two thoughts on this. My first instinct was to cringe at the John Wayne speak, but then I decided to give Bush a possible benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he and his friends just want to underscore Saddam's cowardice and dishonorable capture.

On the other hand, it sounds as if the President would really have admired Hussein if he had died fighting and possibly hurt some of our troops. I, for one, am glad that no more people died to catch this person.

Like I said, it may be perfectly explainable. But this president's third-grade morality and John Wayne view of the world seems to dominate his talk. "Bring it on." This is not a movie. This is real life where people actually die.
Opinions You Should Have - December 2003 Archives: "Model For Toppled Statue Found

Found While Posing For Sculpture Of Man In Deep Hole

The model who was the basis for the famous Baghdad 'Toppled Statue' was located today in what authorities call a 'hole.'

'It's really great,' said Paul Bremer. 'I'm pretty sure we'll have democracy inside of a week now.'"

December 14, 2003

MSNBC - U.S. forces capture Saddam near hometown

Undoubtedly a good thing. Unfortunately, will be used to justify war in Iraq, while legitimate questions still remain about the justification for this war.

December 13, 2003 Selectors: "

Your results:

1. Your ideal theoretical candidate.   (100%)  

2. Kucinich, Rep. Dennis, OH - Democrat   (85%)  Click here for info

3. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat   (79%)  Click here for info

4. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat   (77%)  Click here for info

5. Clark, Retired General Wesley K., AR - Democrat   (73%)  Click here for info

6. Gephardt, Rep. Dick, MO - Democrat   (72%)  Click here for info

7. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat   (72%)  Click here for info

8. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat   (55%)  Click here for info

9. Lieberman, Senator Joe, CT - Democrat   (53%)  Click here for info

10. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol, IL - Democrat   (38%)  Click here for info

11. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat   (33%)  Click here for info

12. Bush, President George W. - Republican   (21%)  Click here for info

13. Libertarian Candidate   (19%)  Click here for info

14. Phillips, Howard - Constitution   (2%)  Click here for info"

interesting online form to see how your stances on issues compares with presidential candidates. Mine is close to what I figured, though I was actually surprised to see Edwards above Dean, but then again, Dean is more pro NRA than I am.

Not that this is an issue, but let me clarify my opinon on the NRA. I think that their gun education and hunter safety programs are great. I also am not sure that removing guns from society is either beneficial or possible. In other words, I don't completely reject the NRA, but do find their political stance extreme and often untenable.

December 12, 2003 News | U.N. may have to abandon Afghan effort: "Dec. 12, 2003  |  KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The United Nations _ already forced out of Iraq by suicide bombers _ may have to abandon its two-year effort to stabilize Afghanistan because of rising violence blamed on the Taliban, its top official here warned Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. "

does this mean we won?
Thanks to J for this. A Baghdad Thanksgiving's Lingering Aftertaste: "When last we checked in on Stripes, it was reporting on a survey it did of troops in Iraq, finding that half of those questioned described their units' moral as low and their training as insufficient and said they did not plan to reenlist.
With the Pentagon just recovering from that, Stars and Stripes is blowing the whistle on President Bush's Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, saying the cheering soldiers who met him were pre-screened and others showing up for a turkey dinner were turned away. "

I can hear the Bushies screaming about this now--who cares, this doesn't mean anything, blah, blah, blah. But these are the same people who denigrated (often rightly) the Clintons for their lapses in integrity, often citing the entire administration. But under Bush, evidently, because he speaks "Christianese" he gets a pass.

I won't ever accept the moral self-righteousness of many Repubs. I won't say that dems are more moral, that would be just as stupid, but I will not tolerate GOPites tsking as they talk about "morals, and family values," and shit like that. All of my leftist friends have exhibited far more integrity, moral fortitude, compassion, and heart than this administration has on its best day. That should not be read as an indictment of Republicans. I know many, and know them to be very moral and thoughtful people. But this administration does not share their values. They just talk the talk. The walk is only for their energy corporate friends.

Streak's Take on Capital Punishment--Continued

Streak earlier argued that CP's justfication from the Bible is weak and that the race and class biases make it untenable.

But those aside (and I say that just to continue the conversation--the race and class bias are huge[the death penalty is huge in states that used to allow and encourage lynching], huge problems and I don't understand how moral people acknowledge that and continue to support CP) let's address the issue of effectiveness.

Most supporters say that Capital Punishment reduces crime (as one blogger said about the John Muhammad sentence--it will stop him from repeating this crime), yet there is no evidence to support that. Obviously, killing a killer will stop him from killing again, but there is no evidence that it stops people from committing murder. Part of the problem is that many of the people who kill already don't really care about their life and would have done it regardless of the possible penalty. The others who act out of some insanity or emotional rage are also highly unlikely to stop and think of their date with the needle if they kill someone. Not only that, but the states who have the death penalty often have higher crime rates than those without. We know how to reduce crime (not eliminate). Reduce poverty, increase education, put more cops on the streets and work to stop young offenders from future offenses. Executing people doesn't get it done.

I think people support the death penalty because it makes them feel safer regardless of if it does. While I understand that irrationality, it makes for bad public policy. People have a right to their fears, but if that leads them to support a biased and flawed system that takes people's lives, that is wrong.
Halliburton? That's unpossible! Update

I was thinking about this issue this morning. One of the admin's defenders once defended the issue of giving bids to friends. why not, he said? Who are you going to do business with? Your friends, or the people you don't trust?

As Halliburton is showing us, that is pure crap. If you are in politics to enrich your friends, you are in for the wrong reason. And, if you work for the Bible Thumping President, shouldn't you ask where he gets this out of the bible? It might be near the back. Perhaps a scripture on screwing your enemies? Or only helping your friends?

And how does this work as a small government conservative (you know who you are)? Isn't this one of the reasons you distrust government? During the Clinton administration, didn't you resent the FOB's who got special access? Isn't this administration twice as bad?

December 11, 2003 - News and Views: "Bush Attacks States Rights, Again

NY's Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is fighting another Bush assault on state powers to regulate corporations:

The Comptroller of the Currency ruled in August in an individual case that national banks did not have to comply with state predatory lending laws. It then proposed to make formal its decision to grant all national banks exemptions from state lending laws.

State officials and consumer groups have opposed the move to override state laws aimed at protecting consumers, including those to curb 'predatory' lending practices.

These lending abuses include exorbitant fees and interest rates and payments for undisclosed insurance products.

But the comptroller has the power to override state banking laws. 'Federal pre-emption is not unprecedented,' a spokesman, Bob Garsson, said.
Yes, and Bush would like nothing more than to preempt most state regulation of abusive corporate practices.

Please, can we just bury any rhetoric now that the GOP believes in respecting state sovereignty."

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: "Out-going Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien told a press conference today that in a private phone call President Bush told him not to believe reports that Canada would be cut out of the contract bids.

'He was telling me basically not to worry,' said Chretien, 'so I said 'thank you.''

LATE UPDATE: And there's more ... Responding to Chretien's comments this afternoon, President Bush explained that he was only referring to the subcontracts -- i.e., the ones for which eligibility is open even to the rankest of appeasers!"

If this happened 5 years ago, it would be called waffling.

Yahoo! News - Halliburton May Have Overcharged Millions
: "WASHINGTON - Pentagon (news - web sites) auditors found that Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s former company may have overcharged the Army by as much as $61 million for gasoline in Iraq (news - web sites), senior defense officials said Thursday."

Halliburton? That's unpossible!

Yahoo! News - Federal Warning On Tuna Planned
: "The federal government plans to warn pregnant women, nursing mothers and even those thinking of getting pregnant to limit their consumption of tuna as part of a broad advisory concerning the dangers of eating fish and shellfish with elevated levels of harmful mercury. "

Lovely. I have also heard that many fish are showing elevated signs of some of our anti-depressants in their systems. Yet, Republicans continue to tell me that the environment is just fine and enviros are just nuts. Are we just messing in our own nest? Global warming, mercury in tuna, pesticides killing off zones in the Gulf. I am reminded of Steve Earle's song Conspiracy Theory where he has a soft voice representing the media and conservatives on stuff like this:

Hush, now don't you believe it
Cover your head and close your eyes
Now, take it or leave it
Go back to bed
Now don't you cry
the Right Christians: "The fact that water can be made to run uphill through an investment in infrastructure, i.e. the use of pipes and pumps, makes indoor plumbing possible. It was probably the progressives of a hundred years ago who made this available to us today.

Posted by: Tom Ward at December 11, 2003 10:53 AM "

This comment on Mohler's diatribe is just dead on. - weblogs: "Several figures once identified with the Southern Baptist Convention also appear on the list. James M. Dunn, former executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee of Public Affairs is joined by Robert L. Maddux, a former Carter administration official who currently serves with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. Also listed as a member of the national committee is Jimmy R. Allen, former pastor of the First Baptist Church of San Antonio, Texas and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Allen was the last SBC president elected before the 'conservative resurgence' of the last twenty-five years changed the shape of the Southern Baptist Convention. The fact that these men would rather stand with William Sloan Coffin than the current SBC leadership says a great deal about why the conservative redirection of the denomination was so urgently needed.

The Clergy Leadership Network is not limited to Christian clergy. The group hopes to recruit pastors, rabbis, and imams, as well as others committed to these liberal causes. 'We invite clergy from throughout the country to join us. We offer an avenue of action focused on the 2004 elections that can impact positively the direction of the nation and the leadership we choose.' Given legal restrictions, the group will not formally endorse candidates, but you can bet your draft card that 'the leadership we choose' will not be the Bush-Cheney ticket.

Journalist-historian Theodore H. White once described a liberal as 'a person who believes that water can be made to run uphill.' That describes this new group perfectly. Their goal of resurrecting and reinvigorating liberal Protestantism and an ecumenical phalanx of religious progressives will be an uphill battle all the way. They are still living in the sixties, looking for the next sit-in and reciting the old liberal creeds. The Clergy Leadership Network will be interesting to watch--but nothing to fear."

I know James Dunn and he is a quality individual. The fact that Mohler denigrates people like him shows how little humility or Christian charity he posesses. I am also struck by how he hates that this group is overtly political, but has said nothing about conservative groups that are overtly political. Can it be that these loud claimants of morality and Biblical authority are actually moral relativists who believe that the end justifies the means?

I am glad I am no longer affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Would rather be an Oakland Raider fan.

Yahoo! News - McCain-Feingold Ruling Angers Activists on Both Left and Right
: "It's not every day the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites) are outraged by the same Supreme Court decision."

Thoughts on this? News | Tapes: Nixon called Reagan 'strange': "'On a personal basis, Rockefeller is a pretty nice guy,' Nixon said. 'Reagan on a personal basis, is terrible. He just isn't pleasant to be around.'

'No, he isn't,' Haldeman said.

'Maybe he's different with others,' Nixon said.

'No,' Haldeman said.

'No, he's just an uncomfortable man to be around,' Nixon said, 'strange.' "

December 10, 2003

Daily Show and Zell Miller

I watched Zell Miller push his book in his interview with Jon Stewart. What a maroon. Sorry. I am sure he has made sense in the past, but tonight, he proves he has lost his mind. According to Miller, Democrats are completely run by special interests. Possibly. Jon asked about the Republicans. Miller said, sure there are interests in the Republican party, but they don't hold much power. Excuse me? Does the name Haliburton mean anything to him? Miller went on to say that in the past and maybe in the future, special interests held more sway in the Republican party, but not now. My wife noted that this seemed curious. Those special interests, she said, must not know there is an election next year. They only participate in the Republican party during the off years. Yeah, right!

And the straw that broke the camels back for our principled Southerner? Why the Homeland Security vote, where unions held up the vote on our national security to get things their way. Not just to get some union benefits or some protection, but to get whatever they wanted at the expense of our national security. Not one word from Sen. Miller about how Bush (whom he endorsed already for 2004) delayed the HS vote because he didn't want a new department. Delayed it, of course, until he saw that he could use it against the Democrats who wanted it soon after 9-11. And then, also absent from the good Senator's diatribe, was anything about how Republicans questioned the patriotism of any Democrat who objected. Or compared Max Cleland to Saddam Hussein. Give me a break! Arts & Entertainment | Diane Sawyer to interview Bush

This won't be substantive. I have no faith that Sawyer will actually ask good or probing questions. Wouldn't you like to see this president asked about his black/white view of the world? His "calling" to be president? His administration lying about wmds? His admin's continual undermining of our military?

Won't happen with Diane. She is only a minor improvement over Connie.

December 9, 2003

Daily Kos || Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.: "Some current EPA enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation from their bosses, say they're getting the signal to slow down enforcement cases.

'It's very discouraging,' said one official. 'We're concerned about people's health. We have a job that we're supposed to be doing and we're not doing it. And we should be.'

'It's a sign that this administration is flat-out falling down on the job,' said Dan Esty, a deputy assistant EPA administrator during the first Bush administration and now director of the Yale University Center for Environmental Law and Policy.

The statistics - examined by Lowrance and other former top EPA officials in both Republican and Democratic administrations - are the standard way the EPA measured enforcement progress.

'They measure presence. They measure whether the enforcement cop is on the beat,' Lowrance said, adding: 'And increasingly the cop is absent.'
Are we surprised? Hardly. The Bush Administration is to the environment what the Texas fire ant is to school playgrounds."

From DailyKos. News | Now playing in 2,600 home theaters: Bush's lies about Iraq

I haven't seen this, but am very interested in the attention it is getting. Regardless of political background, more and more people are angry about the way the administration got us into this war. That, in my opinion, is the most important part. Iraq may be better off without Saddam in power, and those Iraqi people may eventually enjoy more freedome than they ever would have under the former dictator, but the process followed by Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush ultimately undermines every future American effort. How will we justify our next war? Will the international community ever trust us when we say we need to do something?
2cents - Q & A with Al Franken

Al is a funny guy. Say what you will about him, but he does have a sense of humor about himself, which is far more than I can say for Hannity, O'Reilly, or Coulter.

December 8, 2003

Nancy Reagan against dime plan: "'When our country chooses to honor a great president such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it would be wrong to remove him and replace him with another,'' she said. ''It is my hope that the proposed legislation will be withdrawn.''"

Will anyone listen? Or is the former president just another person to use for the GOP? Or let me be specific, the cynical, right-wing amoral wing of the GOP. You know, the Cheney wing.

Yahoo! News - Conservatives Want Reagan on Dimes
: "WASHINGTON - Conservative Republicans angry over an unflattering television movie about Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) want to put his image on the dime in place of Democratic icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Democrats are just as determined to keep FDR's profile in coin purses. "

I am fine with this as long as the image includes Bonzo.
KRT Wire | 12/05/2003 | Denial of Purple Heart medals raises questions about casualty count: "GULFPORT, Miss. - (KRT) - An influential Mississippi congressman has raised the possibility that the Pentagon has undercounted combat casualties in Iraq after he learned that five members of the Mississippi National Guard who were injured Sept. 12 by a booby trap in Iraq were denied Purple Heart medals."

This seems very wrong. Is it just an oversight on the Pentagon's part or is it a concerted effort to keep casualty numbers down?

December 7, 2003

Kerry's profanity earns rebuke from Bush

Yahoo! News - Kerry's Profanity Gets Bush's Attention
: "The expletive drew a rebuke from White House, which suggested an apology might be in order.

'That's beneath John Kerry,' the president's chief of staff, Andrew Card, said on CNN's 'Late Edition.'

'I'm very disappointed that he would use that kind of language,' Card said. 'I'm hoping that he's apologizing at least to himself, because that's not the John Kerry that I know.'

The Kerry campaign said the Massachusetts senator had no regrets.

'John Kerry saw combat up close, and he doesn't mince words when it comes to politicians who put ideological recklessness ahead of American troops,' said spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter. 'I think the American people would rather Card and the rest of the White House staff spend more time on fixing Bush's flawed policy in Iraq than on Sen. Kerry's language.' "

this speaks very well to my previous discussion about language. Bush is concerned about language but is not concerned with his own administration's lying to get us into war. What is exactly the obscenity here? How nice for the White House to focus on the f-word, but ignore morality, honesty, and integrity.

John Kerry should not have to apologize to this man. He, nor any democrat, should have to apologize to this GOP who continually questions the patriotism of everyone but themselves. Kerry fought for this country, as did Max Cleland and Wes Clark. How dare someone who lied his way through the Vietnam conflict question a veteran's patriotism? Disagree with his policy? Absolutely. But don't you dare define patriotism by GWB! John Kerry had it right.
Martin Sheen Reads "My Country Awake" by Rabindranath Tagore: "My Country Awake

Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

by Rabindranath Tagore"

Saw Martin Sheen on Inside the actor's studio today. We found this poem very striking and worth posting.

I still wish he were President. Would certainly be better than ......
Naples Daily News: Columnists: "I know, he's even less of a liberal than Bill Clinton was, but I don't think Dean is a moderate centrist. I think he's a fighting centrist. And folks, I think we have got ourselves a winner here. "

More on Howard Dean. I should warn you all: I will be sending you some solicitations for money for Dean. Optional, of course. :)

December 5, 2003

Bible Gateway : EXOD 21;: "'If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely [5] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

Speaking of capital punishment, this is one of the OT chapters that spells out a list of laws. This particular one has always intrigued me, given the arguments surrounding abortion. Here, if a pregnant woman is injured and either gives birth prematurely (probably a bad thing in ancient societies) or miscarries, then the punishment is not that of murder, but more similar to damaging property.

Streak's Take on Capital Punishment

As CP has returned in our news with the sentencing of the Beltway Sniper, Streak and I return to the topic.

I am opposed to the death penalty for many reasons. Very few of them have to do with it being cruel and unusual punishment, though I find the practice barbaric. It does put us in pretty bad company, mostly with countries that we normally don't like to compare ourselves with.

1) the racial and class bias associated with CP. Supporters point to all the white people on death row, but miss the broader point that the bias is not so much to do with the race of the executed, but the race of the victim. When the victim is of color, there is a lower instance of capital punishment.

I don't think anyone doubts the connection between class and capital punishment. If you are wealthy and can afford the representation, you have a much greater chance of beating the needle.

2) number two is actually about number one, in that most supporters actually acknowledge that race and class are factors, but still support the death penalty. That puzzles me from a moral stance. It seems to me that most people separate questions about CP into two parts--theoretical and practical. On the theoretical they ask whether the practice is moral in some higher sense. Then they talk about the practical application--difference between jurisdictions, judges, attorneys, race, class, etc. Most people acknowledge the practical problems, but have made their support based on the theoretical morality of CP and don't connect the problems with that. I don't see how you can acknowlede the biases and still support people being executed.

3) Many of those moral defenders do so based on some, in my opinion, problematic uses of OT theology. First, there are numerous sins that the Bible responds with capital punishment and I don't think we really want to put recalcitrant kids to death.

More later.

December 4, 2003

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Politics (National Capital)

Was surfing looking for another topic and found this. This is a very good overview of the problems associated with many of the "we are a Christian Nation" arguments.
Howard Dean Meetup report

Last night Streak sent me to my third or fourth Meetup for the Dean Campaign. Each time I get a bit of a buzz for participating in the system. We wrote hand-written letters to Democrats in Iowa to urge them to choose Dean. Possible negative is if the two people can't read my scribble, but I am willing to risk it.

I will be adding a link to my page to promote Dean when I have time. This administration is not reflecting the needs of our country (IMHO) and I will do what I can to send them into an early retirement.

In the upcoming weeks, I will try to explain my stance here and why I think that Dean will be a good choice.
beliefnet: Scott Turow, author of 'Ultimate Punishment' on how the death penalty goes wrong

Interesting. The Sniper trials have brought back the death penalty discussion. I will try to write more here on why I oppose it. But in the meantime, here is an interview with a guy who knows the subject and has written far better books than Grisham ever could!
New Comment Feature

Finally tired of the Blogback comment add on. I noticed that more bloggers were using Haloscan, so am giving it a try. Bad news is that old comments now gone, but I think this will prove a better option. So, test it, try it.

"Marge, did you know that they have the internet on computers now?"

Yahoo! News - No Doubts Global Warming Is Real, U.S. Experts Say

This news just cements this day as a downer, I suspect. But it reminds me of why I am so frustrated with Republicans. In my conversation with the other blogger, he told me that environmental activists were hysterical about the environment and refused to acknowledge that we were much better off in that area because it might harm their political agenda. I have no doubt that in some areas, we are improved. We don't have rivers catching fire, and the air is good enough to breathe on most days. But the Bush admin, and their defenders, use that as justification to remove regulations that might cost industry some profits. Not only are they endangering our immediate health by reducing standards on mercury and other pollutants, but as this report suggests, are just delaying the inevitable need to face global warming. Economic cost? Sure, that is a factor, but what do you think your kids and grandkids will say if their standard of life is much lower because of higher temps? You think they will be glad that our generation made money while we could?

Of course, if you buy into dominion theology, who cares. God is returning soon (with wrath, one assumes) and the planet will be destroyed anyway. Might as well make hay while the sun shines. Of course, if God does not return, well......

Speaking of Ann Coulter, here is a funny site. Note the Faux News mugs (very nice) and the Ann Coulter shirts (not completely sfw, btw).

Update: Cold in Laramie (redundant, btw) said that the Ann Coulter T-shirt was funny, but disturbing. Agreed. Shudder. | Opinion: Letters To The Editor: Another name for war protesters 12/03/03

From Atrios--a suposed letter to the editor arguing that war protestors are traitors who should be hung. Nice. Very Ann Coulter-ish.
Military Officers File Brief Against Bush's Policy in Guantanamo: "

'If we want the world to play by the rules, we have to be on the moral high ground,' said Brahms, who spent 26 years in the Marines before opening a private law practice in Carlsbad, Calif. "

From three officers who's patriotism is unquestioned comes this challenge to the Gitmo incarcerations. This is not about some question of whether these prisoners are being mistreated, which is not a serious question in my mind, but about how this country can participate in the global moral debate. If we don't even abide by our own principles, then how can we preach them to others? How do we stop other countries from incarcerating prisoners indefinately? What if they are Americans?

The Moussaoui case also comes to mind. The defendant has asked to interview Al Quaeda detainees around the world who might say that he was not involved in 9-11. The government says no. I understand that completely. There are good reasons to keep that war on terror going and not turn over information to someone like Moussaoui. But the government is not content with that. They want to deny the man exculpatory evidence and still execute him. How is that reasonable? The government should have cut a deal with this man early on and gotten as much information as they could: incarcerate him for 20 years and move on. As it is, they risk losing the trial all-together. We have heard rumors that they might then switch him to a military tribunal, which would cement our falling image as hypocrities who criticize other judicial systems while manipulating the outcome in a China or Iran type of system. Not a proud moment in our history.

December 3, 2003 / News / Nation / Democrats pursue veterans' votes: "Still, some veterans say they are particularly frustrated by the Bush administration this year because of news reports about delays in service for troops returning from Iraq, and concerns about proposed changes in the VA hospital system.

James F. McKinnon, who cochaired Bush's New Hampshire veterans' steering committee in 2000, refused that role this year.

'I told them I could not support the president,' McKinnon said. 'He's done nothing but hurt veterans since he's in office.'

Instead, McKinnon joined Clark's New Hampshire steering committee, spurred by a call from Hershel Gober, the former secretary of veterans affairs under Bill Clinton, who is now national director of Veterans for Clark. The Kerry campaign has enlisted its own luminaries, including Max Cleland, the former senator from Georgia who lost both legs and one arm in Vietnam."

This from Counterspin, who notes that the Republicans might be in for a bit of a surprise next fall. I have been writing for sometime that I don't understand how Bush gets credit for being pro-military since he has worked so hard to cut their pay and benefits. I found out from a colleague that the Army universally hates Rummy, since he wants to take tank money and give it to the air force. Evidently, Rumsfeld likes smart bombs more than he likes heavy artillery. News | Oklahoma man freed due to DNA testing: "A man who spent 20 years in prison for rape was freed Wednesday after DNA testing proved he was innocent of the crime.

Calvin Lee Scott, 48, finished the rape sentence last year but stayed in prison on a three-year term for assault and battery of a correctional officer, the Department of Corrections said. He walked out of the Lawton Correctional Facility on Wednesday morning.

Genetic material taken from the victim the night of the rape showed Scott was not the attacker, said Jim Bednar, executive director of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System."

This is one of the reasons that I don't like the death penalty. We have seen far too many cases of people being incorrectly incarcerated to be comfortable with putting them to death.
Hillary Clinton is un-American. It says so right in today's Times:

The Howler is angry about how conservative pundits are misrepresenting Hilary Clinton's recent criticism of the administration. The Wash Times says she is unamerican.

"Meanwhile, E. D. Donahey and Brian Kilmeade also faked and phonied around with Clinton's comments on this morning's Fox & Friends.

I saw part of this this morning and it was awful. I don't know who the blonde guy is on Fox and Friends, but he was interviewing a republican rep from Michigan (I think) who's brother is serving in Iraq. Fox Doofus said (with a sneer) that Hilary had told the troops that the American people supported them, but were unsure about the administration's truthfulness in getting us into this war. Fox Doofus went on to ask the representative (as if it was a real question) about the good old days when criticizing the President or foreign policy stopped at the water's edge. Of course, this ignored the reality of all the Republicans (including Fox's own punditry) who constantly critiqued Pres. Clinton's policies in Kosovo and elsewhere, regardless of where the speaker was or where the President was. Can't have it both ways. Either this is a democracy where we can debate our foreign policy openly (as we should) or we don't. In either case, republicans want to be able to criticize democrats but won't extend that right to the opposition.

and how, exactly has the former First Lady been unamerican? Here again from the Daily Howler:

ATTACKING THE TROOPS: When will Clinton start supporting the troops? When she appeared on Monday's Today show, she attacked them right out of the box:

CLINTON: Well, Katie, first of all, the military is doing a terrific job. I don't think we can overstate how committed and devoted they are to trying to bring about security. But it is still a very dangerous place as this incident on Sunday clearly demonstrates. They don't have enough of the right mix of troops in our opinion. We visited with not only the military, but the civilian-American representatives. And it became clear that we need more MPs, we need more intelligence, we need more civil affairs. We need a bigger presence. And as we train the Iraqi civil defense corps and the army and the police, we are still going to have to be there in large numbers in order to make sure that that works. Clearly, what we are doing now is not an effective strategy. We need to get the UN back in as quickly as possible to internationalize this. But I can't say enough positively about what our American military are doing on the ground. And it's not just with respect to security. They are the ones who are reopening the schools, fixing up the hospitals, creating the relationships with Iraqis on the ground that I think will give us a better chance than we currently have."

Yeah, that is unAmerican. right. sure.

December 1, 2003

Steve Earle: Self-Professed Newspaper Addict: "You think the media is now swinging to the right?

Earle: It's not that it's right-wing or left-wing, it's just that they're doing the same thing radio is doing -- doing market research and pandering to a market they've identified. I'm ready to do the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox this month, but equating that with a real political discussion is like believing pro wrestling is real. It's just pandering to our worst instincts, and it works. They've just identified a market and can sell to it. It sells more beer. "

this issue came up during my Thanksgiving trip with family. There, they assumed completely that the "liberal" media was anti-Christian. Maybe they are, I don't know. I suggested to them that the media wasn't necessarily biased ideologically, but biased against substance. Much easier to focus on Jacko and Lewinsky instead of explaining the Medicare debate and covering the legitimate questions concerning patriotism and the war on terror. I think I said there was a "stupid" bias. I think that Steve Earle has a great point. News, all of it, seems to be a way to simply sell stuff. Life | Get off your knees, Monica


Don't you mean, Meow?

Reference anyone? News | MoveOn moves up: "'One of the things MoveOn has done that is really interesting: They've been able to engender a radical support for a practical solution,' Seiger says.

That is partly because Boyd and Blades, whose company Berkeley Systems was best known for creating flying toasters screensavers, think like businesspeople rather than ideologues. In fact, they never planned to get into politics at all. Boyd says that if it hadn't been for the impeachment, 'we wouldn't have gotten involved in politics. But at a certain point, you can't look away. You wonder about what was lost and what we could lose if we don't step forward.'

Their sense that American politics had run off the rails began during the impeachment, but was driven home after the 2000 election. During the recount, the right mustered mobs, but Democrats were oddly quiescent. Gitlin, the Columbia professor, held a count-the-vote rally the Monday after the election at Manhattan's Federal Building. At its peak, there were 300 people.

MoveOn was among those that failed to act. 'We totally blew it,' Boyd says now. The reason wasn't a lack of passion -- it was a kind of disbelief that American democracy could go so awry.

'There was tremendous energy within our base, but we didn't engage because I thought for sure that the system would work, that the wheels would turn and a fair result would be found, and I was wrong,' he says. 'And we now know that the system, to be fair, has to be people screaming on both sides.'

Yet MoveOn aspires to more than just partisan shrieking. The organizers insist that the movement is, at its core, centrist, and that MoveOn speaks for the untapped majority of Americans. Of course the group has defined itself by opposition to Republican Party initiatives like the Clinton impeachment and the war, but its ideology is arguably closer to the mainstream than Bush's is. "

I like this take on democratic action--that the system requires "people screaming on both sides."'s t-shirts (evidently) further this by saying that "Democracy is not a spectator sport." We all hate the screaming and frustration at times, but perhaps we have to be reminded that conflict is at the core of democracy.
Questions for Roberta Combs: A New Moral Majority?:
"What do you think American foreign policy should aim for in Iraq?

In the new country, under the new democracy, why should the official religion be Muslim? I think as Iraq becomes a democracy, there are going to be a lot of churches springing up.

Would you like to see American products like television shows flourish in Baghdad as well?

Oh, no. I hope they don't show ''The Osbournes'' over there.
The Osbournes are definitely not a typical American family. Their language is so offensive. Shows like that wouldn't exist if mothers stayed home with their kids and supervised what they watched.

But you yourself are a working mother. Do you think you could have been happy as a full-time housewife?

Probably not. Probably it would not have been enough for me.
I always had a desire to make a difference. That is why I love the legislative process, where you can make a difference. One voice and one vote can make all the difference in the world. "

Interview with Roberta Combs who is the current director of the Christian Coalition. She sounds very nice and actually reasonable (which is more than I could ever say about Robertson). But I was struck by this last exchange. I have no problem with her working and think that one of the ironies of the conservative movement today is how many women denigrate feminism while benefitting from the movement. Here she laments women leaving the home for work, but herself has made that choice. Isn't that contradictory? It is ok for her, but not for those who believe otherwise? Or those who are doing it just to make money? News | MoveOn moves up: "MoveOn's mere existence drives Fox News fulminator Bill O'Reilly into such fits of rage that he once devoted a segment of his program to attacking the group while refusing to allow its staff on air to answer his charges. On his Sept. 17 show, he said: 'Now, the people wanted to come on here, but I can't have them on because, you know, they're going to attack Bush. I got to defend Bush.' He proceeded to rant against MoveOn's nonprofit status, saying, 'I don't know why we're giving tax-exempt status to propaganda outfits ... When you say you're nonpartisan, as says it is, and then you're not, that's a lie, is it not?' O'Reilly fails to register comparable outrage at the partisan activities of nonprofits such as the Christian Coalition and Concerned Women for America. "

interesting essay on and its detractors. this particular graph illustrates at least part of O'Reilly's hypocrisy.

November 25, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving!

Streak's Friend and Streak's Friend's wife are headed on the road for T-day. Streak is going to spend a couple of days with Alafair and our pet sitter (who we fear they prefer to us!). We are duly warned to be alerted to terrorist plots (thanks, Tom) and are anticipating good roads and hot Starbucks. With the Ipod running, should have no problem making our 6-7 hour trip.

Here is hoping that you and yours have a great Thanksgiving. This holiday has always been one of my favorites, despite the blatant attempts to turn it into only a religous holiday. Thanksgiving is a good thing--whatever the form--and roast turkey is sublime.

So, enjoy and be introspective. About all we have, and those who don't.

November 24, 2003 - Democrats pound GOP campaign ad - Nov. 23, 2003

Actually, I think this ad is not nearly as bad as the Democrats are saying. Certainly nothing like the ones that Saxby Chambliss ran with Max Cleland depicted alongside Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Nor the ads the GOP ran comparing Tom Daschle to Saddam Hussein for opposing the President. Those are unbelievably horrible examples of conservatives trying to claim ownership of patriotism while stooping to the lowest possible levels to get elected. This ad just says that dems are attacking the president for his fight on terrorism. It isn't accurate, but it isn't nearly as bad as the ones I mentioned already. Wes Clark has the winning retort so far:

I'm not attacking the president because he is attacking terrorists," said retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate. "I'm attacking him because he's not attacking terrorists."

Indeed. Seems pretty legitimate to be asking why we pulled out of Afghanistan and the border with Pakistan (we still have troops there, I realize, but not our full force) when we could have hunted Bin Laden down. Instead we decided to invade Iraq. And that was decided, evidently, the morning after 9-11. - Jurors recommend death for Muhammad - Nov. 24, 2003: "VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (CNN) -- Jurors on Monday recommended John Allen Muhammad be sentenced to death for orchestrating last year's sniper shootings in the Washington area."

This has to be the most predicted sentence in history. After all, feds purposefully chose the trial venue to get this particular outcome. It makes me sad. Don't get me wrong. I feel awful for those who lost their loved ones in these senseless attacks. I feel very little pity for Muhammad, but just find the death penalty meaningless. It makes people feel better but does very little. Will it stop the other insane former military snipers who decide to wreak their vengeance on innocent people? I doubt it. Will it make us safe? More moral? I doubt it.

I have said this before, but I think the death penalty is the wrong approach.

Yahoo! News - GOP Considers Eliminating MTBE Provision
: "Put together in more than two months of closed-door negotiations between House and Senate Republicans, the legislation would shield MTBE manufacturers from lawsuits such as the one that led to the Santa Monica settlement.

But this 'safe harbor' provision, buried in the 1,148-page bill, created an unusual coalition of Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, against the bill. "

I am curious about passing legislation to shield companies from lawsuits. Don't lawsuits perform a part of the market? If something is unsafe, that is a way to force change in the market without government intervention. But time and again, conservatives have turned to exclude gun manufacturers, and now polluters from the legal system.

I understand the frustration about baseless lawsuits and ambulance chasing lawyers, and I hate those too. But legal challenges have forced some positive changes.
Mark A. R. Kleiman: New dimensions in shamelessness: "George W. Bush, President of a nation at war, speaking of the energy bill, aka the 'No Lobbyist Left Behind' bill, which signally fails to do any of the things that could be done through energy policy to reduce the flow of money from American gas pumps to countries from which it then flows into terrorist coffers:

'For the sake of our national security ... the Senate must pass this bill.'

What's truly horrible is that saying that didn't cost Bush a minute's sleep. He simply and truly doesn't care whether what he says has any relationship whatever to the truth."

Yeah, my favorite part of this post is the "No Lobbyist Left Behind" bill. Just brilliant. I am used to the rest of it--Bush justifying every move on the basis of the war on terrorism.

Yahoo! News - Alarms Sounded On Cost of GOP Bills
: "Rudman puts the long-term costs of these commitments in dire terms: inevitable currency devaluations, massive tax increases, collapsing retirement accounts.

'It is puzzling, unless you take the most cynical political view of 'I've got to do what I've got to do, and whatever bad that's going to happen is not going to happen on my watch,' ' he said, trying to explain lawmakers' motivations. 'If that is what's happening, we are facing the Titanic of fiscal crises in eight to 10 years.'"

All this from the party that spent the 80s and 90s complaining about budget deficits and trying to take credit for balancing the budget in the 90s. I don't mind that so much, but am increasingly troubled by the Republicans who seem to have decided that now deficit spending is good. I personally think that it can be--especially when it is used to jump start the economy. But when matched with massive tax cuts and huge military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, it seems irresponsible and very much like the Republican approach to the economy is this: cut taxes to the bone, continue to spend through the roof, continue to talk fiscal responsibility--especially when talking about a liberal bill--while doling out gov assistance to big business and big energy, and blame the Democrats for any problems.

November 23, 2003

Bush's Remark About God Assailed ( "Evangelical Christian leaders expressed dismay yesterday over President Bush's statement that Christians and Muslims worship the same god, saying it had caused discomfort within his conservative religious base. But most predicted that the political impact would be short-lived."

Thanks to my friend from Madison for this one. It does appear to be an odd situation for Bush. On one hand, trying to assure the world that he doesn't hate Muslims or Islam, on the other hand trying to keep his friends happy on the right who do hate Muslims and Islam. Odd, I think the RR would have referred to Clinton as waffling if he tried this trick.

November 22, 2003

Reason: "Napsterized memos are perhaps the least of Diebold's problems. Allegations have surfaced that upgrades to voting software used in the most recent California elections had not been independently certified, a violation of state law. "

Thanks to Electrolite for this story. I don't know about the controversy surrounding Deibold's chief being a big Bush fundraiser. It would hardly be any different if he were a big Bush opponent. But the company's approach to security and its response to challenges makes me less confident in this approach. More puzzling is the Republican silence on this issue. I know that conservatives care about the electoral process too, so their intransigence on this issue is troubling to say the least. This should be something both sides should address--with some kind of non-partisan investigation. If our vote is not real, what separates us from the rest of the world? Our media obsession with Michael Jackson?

November 21, 2003

China Set to Act on Fuel Economy

Very interesting. Evidently, China will have more stringent fuel requirements than the US. What does that say about our energy policy? Or our pollution policy?

I know that some say that the left over emphasizes the environmental problems and does not acknowledge the gains made over the last 30 years. I don't think that is true. After all, many environmentalists point to the wonderful gains made in the name of environmental protection. Rivers don't catch fire, and the eagle is now not as endangered. But just because we have made gains, that is no excuse for moving backward on this as the Bush admin is doing now.
Gov. Fights Plan to Lift Smog Rule : "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is demonstrating his clout with Republicans in Washington as he takes a leading role in an effort to turn back a measure that would have stripped California of authority to regulate air pollution from small engines.

In his first week on the job, Schwarzenegger, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat; Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands); and other lawmakers, is trying to kill a proposal that Republican Sen. Christopher Bond has sought on behalf of the nation's largest manufacturer of engines for lawn mowers, portable generators and boat motors. The company, Wisconsin-based Briggs & Stratton Corp., has two plants in Bond's home state of Missouri."

this is very interesting. I had wondered if Arnold might be a moderate on this kind of issue. Bobby Kennedy Jr. said he would be strong on the environment, and here is at least a positive step.
The New Republic Online: The Radical: "So Cheney reverted to the intelligence-gathering method he had perfected at Halliburton: He outsourced. Even before September 11, 2001, Cheney had given his staff clear instructions to go beyond the typical information channels in the bureaucracy. 'He very, very much did not want to be trapped inside the government bubble and only see intelligence reports and State Department cables and Department of Defense memos,' an ex-staffer recounts."

I can certainly see how an agency like the CIA can get locked into an orthodoxy of information and information processes and can see how that might need some revision. But it seems clear that Cheney simply replaced the CIA's biases with his own. So, instead of having a process of filtering and questioning those biases, he commandeered the intelligence process to find the intel he wanted. I don't see that as a positive thing.

November 20, 2003 News | "The president ought to be ashamed": "Cleland's opponent, Saxby Chambliss, who sat out Vietnam with a bad knee, aired a spot featuring unflattering pictures of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein ... and Max Cleland. Chambliss charged Cleland, the Vietnam vet amputee, was soft on national security because he'd voted against creating the Homeland Security Act. In truth, Cleland co-wrote the legislation to create the Homeland Security Department, but objected to repeated attempts by the White House to deprive future Homeland Security employees of traditional civil service protection. "

This is so wrong it still hurts. For the Republican party to play the patriotism card this cynically is so horribly, horribly wrong that it makes me ashamed. Ashamed of our system. I resent very much the easy way that the GOP questions the patriotism of liberal Americans. We are no less American.

As a member of the 9-11 commission, he has a few thoughts on this administration. He points out the the administration has stonewalled and balked at the commission's effort to find the truth, though it was perfectly willing to share inside information with Bob Woodward for a book on the Pres. I continue to be amazed that people tolerate this administration's tendency to keep decisions (not national security decisions) secret. It is our government. Or it should be. Read the entire interview for more. Arts & Entertainment | The penguin is mightier than the sword

Here is some good news. Berke Breathed is returning Opus to the funny pages. Here is hoping that I am able to get it. I remember seeing him speak back in the 80s when Bloom County was big. It was great fun and I was a huge fan.

His insight is badly needed at this time. Here we have yet another celebrity legal case that serves only to distract people from actual news. Does anyone really care to know all that Jacko has done? I certainly hope that the judicial system addresses this fairly and finds something approaching justice. But this does not merit the huge number of news cycles that it will consume. Meanwhile real issues are being decided on Iraq's future, our pollution controls, judicial nominees, etc. But will people know? Or care?

November 19, 2003

The Grayson Buzz

Derek at The Grayson Buzz is taking Streak to task for various postings. Certainly his right. He doesn't particularly like my short postings. (BTW, Derek, for me sometimes blogging is about pointing people to news items they may have not noticed. I say that without derision, just to clarify my purpose here). He doesn't like my liberal approach to the world. That's fine.

I appreciate Derek's desire to dialogue, we don't really have much in common. Derek likes Sean Hannity. I don't. Derek thinks that Ann Coulter is ok. I object to someone who accuses all liberals, including Streak, as traitors to their country. I object to people who want us to invade Muslim countries and kill their leaders. All of that is Coulter, but I have watched Hannity enough to see him berate guests. Pass. If you want to watch him or read his books, be my guest.

I don't mean this to sound mean spirited. We simply see the world differently. For me, my blog is a place for me to vent. If visitors don't like it or find it superficial, then fine. I am blogging for me. I bring a certain (yes liberal) perspective as well as my training as a historian to this arena. I am not trying to change anyone's mind, simply to air my opinions and point people to items I find interesting, and will continue to do so. Media Player

This is linked across the blog world, but is worth linking again. Wes Clark stood up to the Fox crap of distorting and dissembling. He rose a few points in my estimation.
Daily Show last night

Watched the Daily Show last night where Jon interviewed Bernie Goldberg who most recently wrote a book arguing for a liberal bias. His argument, essentially, is that the major sources of power in the media exist in a bubble. Inside that bubble, they are able to live their entire lives without having their world-view challenged. When Jon asked about the existence of conservative "bubbles," Goldberg admitted there were, but that the majority was liberal.

Stewart made a joke about Bernie being a conservative, and Goldberg responded that he was an old-style liberal--the likes of Hubert Humphrey and JFK--but that the modern liberals were too mean spirited and angry. Here was his weakest point. He is critical of mean spirited partisanship and never mentions Sean Hannity or Ann Coulter. He singled out Al Franken and Micheal Moore, but doesn't even acknowledge that the biggest and meanest voices in talk radio and loud punditry are conservative.

All in all, his argument was incredibly weak. I have no problem believing that many of the reporters and editors are liberal (though, interestingly enough, Al Franken argues that while they are liberal on social issues, they are very conservative on economic issues and taxation), but Goldberg ignores the role of corporate owners (who ARE conservative) and completely minimized the huge market share that Fox News has on the market.

Update. For those who are interested, the Daily Howler has written a lot on Goldberg's logical fallacies.
Feedback by backBlog: "I appreciate the discussion. On the authority of the Bible, we simply disagree. How can the Bible be of any use to us unless we can stand on its authority? If it were simply the accumlated opinions of an ancient society then why give it any more credence than the accumlated thoughts of any other ancient society?"

Derek left a nice note on his blog about my reaction. I appreciate that. I am commenting here because my cheap commenting option only allows 400 characters.

As for your concerns about the Bible's authority, I understand. You are right, if it is not the Word of God, then how do we give it more credence than other wisdom texts. I am not convinced we should. I personally think that we derive our moral standards from a variety of sources--wisdom texts, cultural standards, our experience, and our collective choice. We must, as a society, make choices to the best of our ability. That is the nature of community or how people work together in a society.

We make these choices all the time. Divorce is thought by many Christians to be immoral--except in extreme cases--yet is a legal process in every state. Adultery, widely assumed to be immoral, is not a crime. These are choices that we make as a society.

Not sure if that answers your question, but it is a start.
More on our commenting blogger.

My initial reaction to the comment in my blog was anger. I didn't realize there were rules to blogging. Sometimes it is a way for me to link to news items and give a brief comment. Other times, I want to spend a little more time and flesh out my comments. If our visitor didn't like that, there are numerous other options out there. No need to insult me in the process, but if that makes them feel better, whatever.

But his initial complaint was my lack of analysis (as opposed to his lengthy analysis that he wrote by himself) so here are some thoughts on homosexuality.

The main opposition to gay marriage comes down (as I see it) to three major issues: theological, nature, and sociological.

The theological argument is that God sees homosexuality as an abomination, or as our blogger friend put it, it is against God's law. I don't know about that, since I am really unsure that we can know what God actually thinks. But that is because I don't find the Bible authoritative. I don't see it as some inerrant word of God, but rather as a reflection of man's search for the divine. As such, it offers us great wisdom and beauty, but is not the final authority. So, with those assumptions (and I am clear that they are my assumptions) it is hard for me to see the anti-gay elements of the Bible as rising above an ancient culture.

The second argument I hear most is that homosexuality is unnatural. I understand the argument. After all, the idea of me having sex with another man does strike me as unnatural--for me. But the very concept of what is natural and unnatural is very hard to define. There are numerous things in our modern world that are "unnatural" but that does not necessarily mean they are wrong. Much of modern medicine includes things that are not natural. And it certainly assumes that homosexuality is, in fact, unnatural. Is that based on nature? From that perspective, monogamy is unnatural.

What about sociology? This argument is that gay marriage undermines traditional marriage and ultimately is detrimental to our society. I find this most unconvincing. Conservatives are often very critical of the Kinsey report which argued that 10% of the population was gay. There are numerous legitimate problems with Kinsey, but their complaint on this matter leads us to a problem. If, in fact, as conservatives argue, homosexuals make up a very small portion of the population, then even if they are allowed to marry, how do they overtake all the supposed benefits of the traditional marriage?

Like I said earlier, I think there are far greater challenges to the traditional family than homosexuality. But ultimately, these are my arguments. I make no pretense as having some handle on the Truth. I konw that my gay friends are good people who make good friends, neighbors, and yes parents. I think we are better off with them being who they are rather than forcing themselves into something they aren't. I think we should encourage good people to spread that, rather than focusing on such a small part of their relationship.

But again, that is me.
Feedback by backBlog: "My first question is rather than simply parroting the words of a new article, can you actually put together some logical reasonings on issues yourself rather than saying 'Yeah...that's right!'
Do you want to know how gay marriage threatens society? Check my blog linked above where I did a complete analysis and commentary ON MY OWN. I would be interesting to see where you think my reasoning is off"

this nice blogger came and visited (which we like) but decided to insult me on his visit (less attractive). He also didn't like my post on the Nazi name. I don't really care. He seems to think I am a moron for doing a quick post where I expressed my opinion. Well, it is a free country, and he is welcome to his opinion.

As for the substance of his argument? Homosexuality is against God's law and does not provide for a stable environment for the raising of children. Fine. I remain unconvinced. I personally believe that the gay people I know make excellent parents--in many cases better parents than most straight parents. I understand the concerns, but do think that gay marriage is a miniscule threat to our country as opposed to the very real threat of this administration's environmental policies. You tell me. What is the bigger threat to children (all children)? The gay couple down the street (with or without kids) or the increased air and water pollution that actually threatens their lives?

So, if I can sum up (I sure hope this posting is acceptable), I understand the moral concerns about gay marriage, I just don't share them. I personally think we should go the civil union route and let the churches decide about holy matrimony. I also think there are far bigger threats to children and family than this. | Save the Earth -- dump Bush: " I would say what the fundamentalists call 'dominion theology' is a Christian heresy. These are people who read the Bible in a certain way, to justify corporate domination of the planet, the same way people used to read the Bible to justify slavery.

Dominion Christians believe that the Apocalypse is coming soon, the planet was put here for us to exploit, to liquidate for cash, and we have a duty to do that -- even if we destroy nature in the process. Reagan's EPA chief James Watt was a radical dominion fundamentalist -- he believed it was sinful for us to protect the earth for future generations. "

lovely. and Kennedy is right here. this is just one of the reasons I left the church. | Save the Earth -- dump Bush: "In a one-to-one debate, Kerry's unbeatable. He's a genuine war hero, unlike the draft dodgers who are now devising our foreign policy, Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, DeLay. Of course there are lots of people who evaded the draft during Vietnam due to moral qualms about the war. But these characters were pro-war hawks. They just wanted someone else to die for our country. Kerry's record of bravery, on the other hand, will appeal to voters in swing states like South Carolina where there are plenty of veterans who understand the significance of the sacrifice that he was willing to make."

more | Save the Earth -- dump Bush: "Gore's failure was he didn't embrace the thing he genuinely cared about -- he didn't have the confidence to do that. Instead, he felt he had to prove his competence in all these other areas, to master the minutiae of every other issue. And Americans don't care about that.

I mean, look at George W. Bush -- he knows nothing about any issue. He doesn't seem to have a single complex thought in his head or shred of curiosity. I mean, he claims he doesn't even watch the news or read newspapers. But people find something kind of charming and trustworthy about his manner -- and that's all they need. "

exactly. Read this interview with Bobby Kennedy Jr. and tell me how you can vote for Bush. The man and his minions are ruining our environment and people sit around and talk about what a great leader Bush is. WTF?

November 18, 2003

AFA press release - 11/18/03 - MASSACHUSETTS HIGH COURT TO HOMOSEXUALS: "COME AND GET IT!": "'This decision,' said Brian Fahling, Senior Trial Attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, 'is on an order of magnitude that is beyond the capacity of words. The court has tampered with society's DNA and the consequent mutation will reap unimaginable consequences for Massachusetts and our nation.'

Steve Crampton, the Center's Chief Counsel, agreed with the words of dissenting Justice Sosman who observed, 'today, the court has transformed its role as protector of individual rights into the role of creator of rights.'

Crampton stated, 'This ruling marks one of the darkest days in the history of American law. Unless the people of the State of Massachusetts rise up with one voice in opposition to this lawless and socially destructive decision, it will destroy society as we know it.'"

How? Maybe I am dense, but how does letting gay people marry harm our society? Why is this "Christian" organization more concerned about loving homosexuals than about global warming (oh, right, a myth) or poverty?

It is easy to dismiss the AFA as crackpot. They are. But how many Americans believe this? I hope not many.

Yahoo! News - U.S.'s 'Iron Hammer' Code Name 1st Used by Nazis
: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military's code name for a crackdown on resistance in Iraq (news - web sites) was also used by the Nazis for an aborted operation to damage the Soviet power grid during World War II."

Lovely. Just lovely.

Yahoo! News - Bush Criticizes Gay Marriage Ruling

This strikes me as odd. I am still wondering why straight people are so offended or scared by gay marriage? Are they really so sure that the legality of it will encourage otherwise straight people to go gay? Or that recognizing homosexual fidelity will be a danger to children?

Would they just prefer that gays live together? I guess the truth is that conservatives especially just want gays to go away. Or become straight.

Why not just focus on encouraging people who treat others with kindness and compassion? Why not take the focus off the sexuality and focus on basic human kindness issues. Good neighbors, concern for community, concern for the world. Oh, that's right. We live in George Bush's world where clean air is for sale and moral self-righteousness is in vogue.

November 17, 2003

The Burden of Truth: Full Transcript, Sojourners Magazine/November-December 2003: "I was born 64 years ago at a time when the Weirmarcht in Germany was about to enter Poland and start World War II. I've always felt a perverse affinity for that period in German history. I lived in Germany for five years and have many German friends and acquaintances, and I never was able to get a satisfactory answer to the question, why did virtually no one speak out? Here you were—the most educated, the most cultured, the most advanced society on the face of the earth—and you were unable to speak out. You were unable to see the injustice for what it was and oppose this terrible thing.
What I saw happening in this country in February and March of this year was like a terrible flashback to August 1939, where I saw my fellow Americans unable to speak out with the power that was needed. Most certainly there were a lot of demonstrations, but the church, whom we look to for moral guidance, was riding shotgun for the system. That's a terrible thing to say, but it needs to be said. And few others in positions of responsibility were speaking out."

This is from a fascinating interview with two former CIA analysts who are mad as hell about this administration's manipulation and exploitation of the intelligence community. Arts & Entertainment | Rush Limbaugh returns from rehab: "ov. 17, 2003  |  NEW YORK (AP) -- Rush Limbaugh returned to radio Monday after what he called 'five intense weeks' of rehab for an addiction to painkillers, promising listeners 'even more honesty to come.'

'I've not been phony here, I've not been artificial on the program,' he said. 'I was all of that elsewhere.' He did not elaborate."
In the past, Limbaugh had decried drug use and abuse on his bluntly conservative show, arguing that drug crimes deserve punishment."

Not been a phony. Right. Still no acknowledgement that he has made fun of poor people with drug addictions. I wonder if his drug crimes merit punishment? Well, if it is good enough for the daughter of Jeb Bush, I guess it is good enough for Rush. Wonder if it is good enough for some street kid hooked on smack?

November 16, 2003 - Democratic senator under fire for 'lynching' comment - Nov. 14, 2003: "'The Democrats in this chamber refuse to stand and let her do it. They're standing in the doorway, and they've got a sign: Conservative African-American women need not apply. And if you have the temerity to do so your reputation will be shattered and your dignity will be shredded. Gal, you will be lynched,' Miller said. "

This from Zell Miller, Democrat from Georgia, who has endorsed Bush for re-election. That is right, disagreeing with a black judge is the same thing as hanging someone from a tree. Miller says that Thomas Sowell wrote it first and he liked it. Great. Another conservative jerk was an ass first.

Miller also wrote book chastizing the Democratic party. Here he talks about it on the 700 Club:
"Right now, we have these [Democratic presidential candidates], I call them "the naive nine," going around and talking about that we’ve got to increase taxes. Every single one of them are for some kind of tax increase. Some want to increase taxes a trillion dollars. And others only a $100 billion. But they want to increase taxes. And we’ve got others talking about that we’ve got to get out of Iraq. And we knew that if you don’t fight that battle in Iraq, we'll have to someday fight it on the streets of America. And we can't let that happen. They have adopted the worst feature of the Mondale campaign, raising taxes, and worst feature of the McGovern campaign, cut and run, and it’s taking the Democratic Party down a rat hole."

This is typically Republican rhetoric, acting as if Dems are raising taxes if they call for halting or reversing tax cuts for the wealthy. Is that technically a tax increase? Perhaps. But this is not accurate. In addition, most of the candidates I hear talking about Iraq, including Dean and Clark (the front runners) are critical of the way we got into the war, but both say we have to do the job right.
Katherine van Wormer: Bush and Dry Drunk Syndrome: "Dry drunk is a slang term used by members and supporters of Alcoholics Anonymous and substance abuse counselors to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking, one who is dry, but whose thinking is clouded. Such an individual is said to be dry but not truly sober. Such an individual tends to go to extremes."

This is an interesting take on our President. Not completely convincing, perhaps, but gives some explanation to some of us for the extreme stances and lack of cooperation. I have Repub friends who just dismiss this criticism--saying that my dislike for Bush is just the same as the Clinton haters. Perhaps. I actually gave Bush a lot of leeway when elected, didn't begrudge Florida and told my concerned friends that he would govern from the middle with respect to the narrow election. Then came John Ashcroft. And it was bad.

Oddly enough, almost every Repub I know is scared of Ashcroft and thinks he is a bad AG. But none of those Repubs hold Bush responsible for appointing him, keeping him in office, and refusing to moderate his radical conservatism.

But all of this goes back to a president who seemingly refuses to compromise at any level. One blogger I read lately (commenting on the blog, actually) suggested that this administration never compromised with itself--never moderated its internal ideas, never questioned the rightness of those ideas. That bothers me. I cannot conceive of a situation where that is a good idea.

November 14, 2003

Swearing cont.
Some more thoughts about swearing. My previous conversation on the subject has led to more. One person commented that maybe the problem wasn't about swearing, but about swearing the context of religious discussions. (I know, it seems like an odd segue, but that is my fault. I will....well, you will see the connection later....Perhaps)

Some people see swearing the context of religious dialogue blasphemous. Remember the uproar over the West Wing episode where Pres. Bartlett swore in the National Cathedral? How dare he?

That is actually a pretty good example of what I am talking about. Bartlett was upset that God would allow his secretary to die. He was expressing grief, anger, dispair, and the focus of the discussion (IMHO) should not have been on Bartlett's language, but on the issue of how bad things happen to good people and what role God plays in that. Legit question, that.

I wonder if the problem with the swearing/religion connnection is some religious perspectives that sees religion as magical. You know, speak the word of the Lord and something happens. Read scripture verses and good things happen. Have a drug problem? Say the right word and SNAP,.... gone. Have a bad marriage? Word, and SNAP.

Maybe that is all true. I don't know. I think that those kinds of solutions require years of work rather than some magical incantation of an ancient scripture. But that is me, the modern skeptic. But I mostly struggle with the binary and rather simplistic view of language....Say good words and good things happen. Say bad words, and bad things, well... you know.

I think there may be more connection between the sacred and profane. Maybe that is the struggle the church has had over all these years. How to differentiate between evil and profane. Can we see profane and lusty and earthy as truly good and not separated from God?

For me, the words are certainly valuable. In case people here don't know, I have written a few pages in my time, even a book chapter (no, no, don't push, no need to rush out and buy it. Unless, you are in need of serious insomnia treatment). So, I certainly value the written and spoken word. But are they magical? Perhaps.

But I am not sure I see swear words or words of praise as magical. Just as quoting from the Bible doesn't make an evil man pure, saying the F-word doesn't make a pious man bad.

That is the issue--separating the difference between the trivial and the important. Seeing the difference between the truly dangerous things in this world and the swear words on TV.

Anyway. News: "'I believe Judge Moore is a man of strong conviction,' said Don Hawkins, president of Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham and former host of the 'Back to the Bible' radio program broadcast on 600 stations worldwide. 'He's risked everything to stand for what he believes. Most evangelical Christians will be saddened.'

Yes, strong conviction. That is how we talk about people who we agree with. People with strong convictions on the other side--perhaps agreeing with the CONSTITUTION are assumed to be power hungry and anti-christian! Puhleeze.

BTW, but Farakhan has strong convictions. So does Patricia Ireland. I have yet to hear any evangelicals celebrate their convictions. And Moore risked nothing. His biggest risk was actually to follow the law, because in doing so, he would have lost the speaking engagements to tell crowds and crowds of bleating evangelicals around the country how mistreated and persecuted they are. For moving a statue. Not saying the statue couldn't exist, but that it shouldn't be in the rotunda of the State Supreme Court building.

"Nationally syndicated radio psychologist James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and TV evangelist D. James Kennedy issued strong statements of support for Moore. They are likely to continue promoting Moore as a martyr to the cause of defending the nation's Christian heritage from encroaching secularism."

And the part I love here is the complete avoidance of the fact that Moore is using this to build up a base of supporters and raise money. Why do they just assume he is doing the right thing? This is a cynical manipulation of people's fears. Dobson and Kennedy should be ashamed--that is if they were capable of those kinds of emotions. Of course, both men have made their careers on the idea that Christians are the persecuted.

"'This is further proof that our federal judges are determined to excise every reference to God from the public square,' Dobson said.

'Moore is being punished for upholding the rule of law, for following the will of the voters, for faithfully upholding his oath of office, and for refusing to bow to tyranny,' said Kennedy, a leading fund-raiser for Moore's legal defense. 'America could use a great many more men of courage and principle like him. For too long, too many elected officials have bowed in submission to lawless federal court edicts that set aside life and liberty. They have stood by as, case by case, God and biblical morality have been removed from public life.'"

Right. God has been removed. And it was Moore who was following the rule of law. Up is down. Black is white.

Conservative Christians dominate the White House, Senate and House and have strong assistance from the Supreme Court, yet are still the victims of some insidious liberal plot. Sorry, but this is moronic. would the existence of a stone statue actually mean that God was somehow enabled to act?

At least some people are questioning this

"`Looking for' persecution:

That doesn't mean all Christians who support Moore on the Ten Commandments believe he was right to defy a federal judge who ordered his monument removed from public view.

Gov. Bob Riley and Attorney General Bill Pryor, who like Moore used conservative religious support to help them get elected, opposed Moore's defiance.

Christians who opposed Moore also sense a potential political backlash building.

'This will be a new hill for evangelical Christians to charge up,' said the Rev. Steve Jones, pastor of Southside Baptist Church, who agreed with the removal of Moore.

'A lot of religious believers in our state are just looking for reasons to be called persecuted and oppressed, when really they're persecuting people who don't believe like them. It's going to raise the level of dialogue and anger and outrage. People are going to say that those who disagree with Moore are not Christians.'"

Exactly. How nice to be victimized by invisible accusers. And btw, how many of these morons were furious about Clinton and used the phrase "rule of law" until they forgot they had never thought about what it meant. Moore violated the "rule of law" as did Clinton, but even more directly and was then asking to be celebrated for his "courage." I tell you, this makes my blood boil and makes me embarrased that I could be connected in any way with Christians who think this poorly.

I would have a lot more respect if these people had taken to the streets to protest poverty in the South, or perhaps to show concern for the children who are dying in Iraq. Or perhaps to march about real issues about the role Christianity could play in this society. There are numerous ways that Christians could be making a positive contribution to our civil culture. This aint it. And Judge Roy Moore is no worthy martyr. He is a moron.
Rocket City Reacts to Moore Verdict: "While Moore's future is up in the air, the church-goers at The Rock worry about our nation's future.

'We have a legacy, and I just have to question what kind of legacy are we going to leave our children and our children's children?' asked Buhler.

'Once we take God out of our lives, we lose what our nation was founded on,' Summers said."

So how are we taking God out of our lives here again? By saying that the Ten Commandments statue is inappropriate in this one setting, we are taking god out of our lives? Nevermind that the 10 C's suggest that idols are a bad idea, what about those commandments that in a way conflict with our laws? It would be illegal to require Americans to have no other God but Yahweh. It is not against the law to not keep the Sabbath holy nor is it to commit adultery.

But all of that aside, the very small God that these people worship is scary. Removing an elaborate statue is enough, in their theology, to somehow kick God out of our society. But then again, people made similar complaints about Columbine--saying that removing prayer from school had caused God to remove his hand and allow such a horror to happen. Forgetting, of course, all the praying students and teachers. Evidently, in this theology, if the top doesn't recognize God, then it matters not what the people below them do. So, we are screwed as a nation if the Prez somehow doesn't respect God. What a screwy theology!

November 13, 2003

Judge Roy Moore cont.
Despite the clear evidence that Moore defied a federal court order, his supporters continue to claim the stupid "God is in control" mantra. Not that God isn't in control. I have no idea. But to exalt this guy simply because he claims he is speaking for God.

Just how did the federal court stop him from acknowledging God? By stopping him from forcing the 10 C's on everyong who comes before his court. Oh, silent prayer--the age-old way that Christians have connected to God? That is gone. We must be public! We must impose our beliefs on those around us--regardless of their beliefs--as a way to show the strength of God. Perhaps God doesn't need our help? That is just the kind of thinking that leads to a tolerant society.

This is just one of the reasons that I don't call attention to my faith. I would rather be thought of as an unbeliever than be lumped in with people like Moore and his supporters.
WallBuilders | American historical events, founding fathers, historical documents, books, videos, CDs, tapes, David Barton speaking schedule

This guy bugs me. Bugs me a lot. He claims to be a historian, but his credentials are iffy--undergrad from Oral Roberts--but because he continues to argue the Christian Nation idea, he is a constant guest on the shows of the religious right. | News | Judge Moore case verdict

This is one verdict I can celebrate. What a moron!
ThisisLondon: "American officials want a virtual three-day shutdown of central London in a bid to foil disruption of the visit by anti-war protestors. They are demanding that police ban all marches and seal off the city centre. "

This, brought to my attention from the Counterspin Central blog. Is this what democracy is about? Security concerns are one thing (and legitimate) but this administration seems to not even want people to be able to express their political beliefs. Here at home, they move the anti-Bush protestors to a sequestered plot. Overseas, they want to block anti-Bush protests at all. I really wonder if this admin really believes in Democracy. Paul Krugman, of the NY Times (yes, I know it is considered liberal) really thinks that this admin doesn't actually believe in our system. I don't want to believe that, but so many times we have seen them do whatever it takes to win, regardless of the implications for democratic speech or the electoral system.
I have been having an interesting conversation with a close friend of mine on the subject of swearing. While he doesn't necessarily dislike swearing, he buys the argument that swearing represents a less intelligent form of communication.

I argued back that while that was a great argument for the kids, that I didn't buy it completely. L and I were talking about this last night. There are times when swearing represents healthy and justified anger. To focus on the swear words and miss the underlying issues seems problematic.

In addition, I think that swearing, when done correctly, functions to challenge reverence. Reverence might be a good thing, but like swearing, it can be taken too fucking far.