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.

November 11, 2003

Trish Wilson's Blog: DuToitglodytes and Other Irritants: "DuToitglodytes and Other Irritants

Update: Apparently, John Wayne was no Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Vandervoort. Streak mentions in my comments section that Wayne never served in the military and he avoided service. Real soldiers used to beat him up when he was filming in the South Pacific."

Hey!!!, what do you know? Streak is famous! Streak may be a dog, but he knows that John Wayne isn't the male icon that some men want him to be.
This one needs very little additional comment. The same admin that questions the patriotism of critics consistently undermines the the needs of the people who make up the military.

Press Briefing by Scott McClellan: "Q Scott, there are 17 former POWs from the first Gulf War who were tortured and filed suit against the regime of Saddam Hussein. And a judge has ordered that they are entitled to substantial financial damages. What is the administration's position on that? Is it the view of this White House that that money would be better spent rebuilding Iraq rather than going to these former POWs?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know that I view it in those terms, David. I think that the United States -- first of all, the United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal torture to which these Americans were subjected. They bravely and heroically served our nation and made sacrifices during the Gulf War in 1991, and there is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. That's what our view is.

Q But, so -- but isn't it true that this White House --

Q They think they're is an --

Q Excuse me, Helen -- that this White House is standing in the way of them getting those awards, those financial awards, because it views it that money better spent on rebuilding Iraq?

MR. McCLELLAN: Again, there's simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering --

Q Why won't you spell out what your position is?

MR. McCLELLAN: I'm coming to your question. Believe me, I am. Let me finish. Let me start over again, though. No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam Hussein. It was determined earlier this year by Congress and the administration that those assets were no longer assets of Iraq, but they were resources required for the urgent national security needs of rebuilding Iraq. But again, there is simply no amount of compensation that could ever truly compensate these brave men and women.

Q Just one more. Why would you stand in the way of at least letting them get some of that money?

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the way you characterize it.

Q But if the law that Congress passed entitles them to access frozen assets of the former regime, then why isn't that money, per a judge's order, available to these victims?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's why I pointed out that that was an issue that was addressed earlier this year. But make no mistake about it, we condemn in the strongest possible terms the torture that these brave individuals went through --

Q -- you don't think they should get money?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- at the hands of Saddam Hussein. There is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate those men and women who heroically served --

Q That's not the issue --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- who heroically served our nation.

Q Are you opposed to them getting some of the money?

MR. McCLELLAN: And, again, I just said that that had been addressed earlier this year.

Q No, but it hasn't been addressed. They're entitled to the money under the law. The question is, is this administration blocking their effort to access some of that money, and why?

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't view it that way at all. I view it the way that I stated it, that this issue was --

Q But you are opposed to them getting the money.

MR. McCLELLAN: This issue was addressed earlier this year, and we believe that there's simply no amount of money that could truly compensate these brave men and women for what they went through and for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein --

Q So no money.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's my answer. "
A Counter!
I have finally added a free counter to this blog. The good news is that I now can see how many people visit the blog. The bad news is, well...that I can see how many people visit the blog. For the low number, I blame all of you. :)

November 10, 2003 Arts & Entertainment | He can play honky-tonk just like anything: "That was my next question. You chastise him [Bush] pretty hard in that song [about Karla Faye Tucker].

I think he deserves it, don't you? I think that he got off lightly there. I think anyone who can sneer at somebody on death row, and anyone who has the possibility of offering a reprieve and redemption and just says 'God bless you' after icing them, is going to go to a special kind of perdition. There's a special place in hell for someone who can do that. "

November 9, 2003

continued Occupational Hazards - How the Pentagon forgot about running Iraq. By Jacob Weisberg: "Back during the 2000 campaign, George Will and others argued that presidential intelligence didn't matter. This notion was reinforced after Sept. 11, when it became fashionable to argue that Bush's 'moral clarity' was preferable to the ability to comprehend many sides of a complicated issue. In fact, presidential intelligence does matter. The intellectual qualities Bush lacks--historical knowledge, interest in the details of policy, and substantive (as opposed to political) judgment--might well have prevented the quagmire we're facing in Iraq right now. A more engaged president--one who understood, for instance, the difference between the Sunnis and the Shiites--surely would have asked about Plan B. "
Occupational Hazards - How the Pentagon forgot about running Iraq. By Jacob Weisberg: "Constrained within a strong foreign-policy-making apparatus, such as that of the previous President Bush, theory-makers can be highly valuable. People like Wolfowitz are assets when it comes to challenging the assumptions of pre-existing policies, bringing ambitious ideas into a debate, and articulating basic principles. Kirkpatrick, Richard Pipes, and others were useful in exactly this way under President Reagan. Under Reagan, the more ambitious fantasies of the neoconservatives were effectively checked by George Shultz and other practically minded policymakers.

Under the current Bush, however, the check was blank--Powell was beaten down while Condi Rice and Dick Cheney somehow went AWOL. The result was that a few charismatic, outside-the-box thinkers were able to bamboozle the president into mistaking their roll of the dice for a mature judgment. No wise old head (where was Brent Scowcroft when we needed him?) took the president aside to explain that winning a debate in the Cabinet room isn't the same thing as having a sensible policy. (Bush's tax cuts are another example of a similar phenomenon, driven by a different set of ideologues: the supply-siders.) "

I hate to hear Wolfie referred to positively, but this is an interesting perspective.
Howard Dean and public financing

The democratic challengers to Dean's campaign are criticizing his decision to forego public financing as hypocritical. I know he said early on that he would go with the public financing and would criticize any Dems that didn't, but when you see his road ahead (assuming the nomination) and he would be unable to fight Bush at all after locking up the primaries. Bush has no such limitation and can spend into the stratosphere. It would be like me and a few other middle-aged historians taking on the OU Sooners in a football game. The system is broken, and Clinton and Bush broke it by raising so much money. | Dallas-Fort Worth | Opinion: Letters: "I'm switching parties

I'm tired. I'm a Democrat, and I'm tired.

We Democrats have to worry about too many things. We worry about global warming. We worry about children without medical care. I'm worn out.

I have decided to become a Republican. Republicans simply take their tax cuts and they are happy. No worries. Of course the tax cuts are being charged to the federal government's credit card, creating an astronomical federal debt. Oh, no, this is going to be harder than I thought. Worry, worry. I'm thinking too much.

I must surrender to the teaching of our president. When the economy is strong, the proper action is to cut taxes. When the economy is weak ... cut taxes. When financing a war ... cut taxes. Hey, this is soothing. By the way, global warming doesn't exist. It's a big lie told by the left-wing media. Children without medical care don't exist either (and, if they do, it's their parents' fault, not mine).

Republican Party, sign me up.
Michael Craig, Temple "

God help me, but this is exactly how I feel much of the time. Whatever convinces conservatives that the environment isn't a serious issue, I would like some of that.

Yahoo! News - Education 'Miracle' Has a Math Problem
: "And the Houston Independent School District -- showcase of the 'Texas educational miracle' that President Bush (news - web sites) has touted as a model for the rest of the nation -- is fending off accusations that it inflated its achievements through fuzzy math. "

Streak wonders if this is the same president who accused Al Gore of using fuzzy math? Maybe the president isn't very good at math.

Good question, Streak!

November 6, 2003

Dean Meetup Report
Went to the Dean Meetup last night and was once again kind of thrilled to be participating. We wrote hand-written letters to Iowa voters urging them to consider Dean. Have to see how it works out, but like I said, it is kind of cool to be participating. M has assumed a leadership role and is doing more than her share of volunteering, and I am so impressed. When you consider how few people get involved at any level, well, it is just impressive.

One more note: Howard Dean has decided to let his campaign members (those who have signed up on his web site, I guess) choose whether he accepts federal matching funds or not. He has been a vocal supporter of campaign reform, but in this case, I can't see how he can accept the matching funds. Bush has a kazillion dollars to spend and disarming here would be disastrous. The other very interesting point here, is that by not taking the matching funds, Dean has the opportunity to be truly publicly financed, since most of his donations come from small donors.

November 5, 2003 Arts & Entertainment | Craven Broadcasting System: "Rep. Dingell said that he wrote his open letter to CBS's Moonves because he believes that people deserve to hear the truth about President Reagan's years in office. Dingell, a congressman since 1955, remembered that truth as encompassing, among other things, 'ketchup as a vegetable,' the Iran-Contra affair, voodoo economics, Oliver North, the savings and loan fiasco, and farm bankruptcies. 'If they can come up with something good that can be said about him, then by all means they should say that too,' Dingell said. 'All I want to do is see to it that the media is allowed to function in a free, responsible, decent and truthful fashion.' "

This is annoying. Is Reagan above reproach here? Why not let the market work? Let it air and then see how it is received. Put your experts on your networks and refute it.
Comments are back. I may be tinkering with a new comment provider. Of course, no one seems to leave me comments, so that may not be a big deal. :)
Yours truly is feeling a little anxious about Thanksgiving. We will be visiting family and just found out that more family will be there than we initially anticipated. Part of the problem is that we will not be the only democrats, but may easily be the only ones willing to speak up for the cause. History is not great here as well. In these kinds of group dynamics, even well-intentioned discussions can turn sour.

I need to start planning how to manage this. I care very much for all of these people (though all at once is rough!) and like talking to them. I am trying to remember a few swing points (golf term, but helpful as a way to keep one or two key thoughts in mind):

1) Their disapproval of my views (and many will disapprove) is not something I have to carry. They have the right to disagree, but I don't have to take their disapproval personally.

2) It is not my job to change anyone. Not only is it arrogant and self-righteous, it is a fool's errand. In other words, I don't have that ability to change people even if I thought it a good idea.

3) I have the right to express my own thoughts. If the above points are in mind, I can say what I think (with tact, of course) but don't have to worry about anyone finding my ideas offensive or wrong.

Well, I will keep working on it. News | Waiting for the command to start killing Americans: "'Here is the problem,' Abu Ali says. It is later, after iftar, and we're sitting outside to make the most of the cool evening. While we talk, an apparently nocturnal rooster crows now and then down the street. 'Before the war,' says Abu Ali, 'Americans said, 'Our problem is with Saddam and his closest senior officials.' We Iraqis also had the same problem with them. But when the Americans made the issue general and fired all the Baathists, they basically were saying, 'Go fight for Saddam.'' "

Interesting story in Salon about the frustration many Iraqis have with the american occupation. This reporter is saying that many Shiites (supposedly the ones who love us) want to go kill Americans to prod them into taking care of business. Others, as the quote above shows, say that dismissing all Baathists as Saddam lovers was a mistake. Many of them hated Saddam too. If we lose the Shiites, we may be in deep.

November 4, 2003

With thanks to M for telling me to look at this story. It is all about information. BTW, M is taking an active role in our community and taking leadership roles in (volunteer basis) for Howard Dean's campaign. Kudos indeed. What a better world we would have with more like her.

File Sharing Pits Copyright Against Free Speech

This is both annoying and scary. I am still waiting for the right to stand up for democracy and address these concerns about electronic voting.
Note and apology. My comment field has vanished. Not sure what happened, but it was a third-party option. May have to think about going to a different level if I really want to have comments and compete with the other bloggers. Of course, that may require me to supply more original material. :)
Trish Wilson's Blog: "The Daily Show" Squashes "Fair And Balanced" -- Again

This makes me smile. I have said for sometime that I find Jon Stewart's show the most reasonable on tv. During stressful times, it is the only one to truly ask good questions about the administration and the media. They have that head tilting thing down pat, btw.
Ok. Now for a little levity. Fox News (of the Fair and Balanced variety--don't sue me) is worried that fake news crawls might confuse the viewers. Fair and Balanced? What about just respecting the 1st Amendment? How about just starting with the basics?

t r u t h o u t - Fox Nearly Sued Itself Over 'Simpsons' Parody: " In an interview this week with National Public Radio, Matt Groening recalled how the news channel had considered legal action, despite the fact that 'The Simpsons' is broadcast on sister network, Fox Entertainment.

  According to Groening, Fox took exception took a Simpsons' version of the Fox News rolling news ticker which parodied the channel's anti-Democrat stance, with headlines like 'Do Democrats Cause Cancer?'

  'Fox fought against it and said they would sue the show,' Groening said. "
This hardly qualifies as good or uplifting news, but once again, Americans have found new lows with the death penalty. Executing the insane IS in itself insane and puts us right up there with our good friends in Iran, China, etc. I fail to see how it makes us safer, more moral, or enlightened. It doesn't solve any problems, doesn't save us money, doesn't bring back one dead victim. All it does is make its supporters feel morally superior, I guess. I hate it and find it dehumanizing. If the death penalty is moral at all (and I can see arguments for it) then it must have meaning. Executing the retarded and insane don't qualify. At all. Shame. Shame. News | Ark. moves toward executing drugged man: "Nov. 4, 2003  |  LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas' attorney general has determined that appeals have been exhausted for a death row inmate who is forcibly given anti-psychotic drugs that make him mentally competent to be executed, the governor's office said Tuesday.

November 1, 2003

For today, Streak and company are cheering for the Sooners to win the Bedlam series. Streak remembers cheering for OU when they had jokes about the football team: "How do you keep an OU player out of your backyard? Erect a goalpost." Now that joke doesn't apply, and the team is competing for another National Championship. Why doesn't Streak have any affinity for OSU given his agricultural background and heritage (Streak is an Australian Cattledog)? Well, just as Streak hates Australian Rules Football and Rugby, he has developed an intense dislike for the school from Stillwater. Not sure why. Anyway......