August 31, 2004

Obsidian Wings: Why I Will Not Vote For Bush #1: The Constitution:

"The person who supervised the working group that produced this [torture] memo has been nominated to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; his nomination may, however, be derailed by the disclosure of this memo. In any case, neither Bush nor his deputies, when confronted with this memo, seem to have concluded that those who wrote it were dangerously wrong about the Constitution. Instead, they nominated them to judgeships. If they had their way, those responsible for this memo would be able to apply their understanding of the Constitution to us for the rest of their lives."

A long, but very interesting post on why Bush is a danger to the constitution.
I am combining rant points today, not because I am lazy, but because they are converging.

A friend and I have discussed the contemporary evangelical emphasis on the personal relationship with God. As I understand it, the idea of "works" was replaced (and for many, many good reasons) with a grace based theology. All of that makes sense, but it has morphed into something else. At least under works, people were required to actually do something. Under the contemporary theology, the obligations are as follows: pray, read the bible, communicate with God, attend Church and worship. Your banned behavior is essentially sexual and personal in nature. Don't cheat on your wife, don't be gay, don't have pre-marital sex. Don't do drugs, drink too much, and (possibly) don't gossip or steal pens from the office. Seem like I am dismissing it? Maybe. Kind of frustrated this morning. The problem I have with it is two-fold: the reason I am supposed to pursue this relationship with God appears to be all about me. The works doctrine was at least supposed to help those around me. But the relationship is another me-focussed activity where I benefit from my relationship. How will others know? As far as I can tell, because I would tell them that I pray, communicate with God, attend Church, and generally speak the language of Churchese. Any benefits to those around me are incidental. Perhaps I lead others to the church and get them to have that relationship for them. But I am not expected to act in ways that are beneficial to a broader community.

Second part of the Rant: another friend and I have discussed the morality of GWB. I heard some doofus on Fox the other night saying that Bush was not the first President to talk about his faith (though his is more open and in-your-face), but he was the first to try to act on his faith. Act? How the hell? He has certainly given lip service to the points above: he allegedly prays, reads his Bible, reads a devotion, has a personal relationship with God that he will tell whoever wants to hear about it, and we know he attends church (just as just about every recent president--except Reagan, ironically). Check, check, check. But, where is the f-ing fruit? Where is any proof that he acts on that faith? Has he treated his enemies, either political adversaries or international foes, differently than previous presidents? Well, kind of. He ruthlessly punishes political adversaries and bombs his international foes. Has he brought meekness, love, kindness to the process? Has he? If you take away his talking about faith, would you know or suspect he was a Christian? That is the standard, I think.

He has, as I noted above, treated his political foes with a kind of ruthlessness that is hard to imagine with Christ. Imagine Jesus saying that McCain had fathered a black baby (and meaning that as an insult)? Or criticizing McCain as possibly betraying his country as a POW. Imagine Christ saying "bring it on." Pursuing "usable" nuclear weapons? Invading countries? How about mocking Karla Faye Tucker on death row? How about going to Bob Jones University and embracing racism? Sorry, but that doesn't sound like the Jesus I believe in. Not even close.

But that appears to be the rub. Bush has all the aspects of contemporary evangelicalism down. He does the relationship thing, and just like other evangelicals, he is not expected to actually act on them. He is not expected to treat God's creation with respect (not a moral issue), nor is he to address greed and the love of money (a moral issue only if you are Scrooge), and he is certainly not to address capitalism critically (it is a divinely ordained, magical self-moderating economic device). He is not asked to address his own weaknesses (beyond sex and beer) and is not asked to actually act like Christ, just to merely figuratively wear the WWJD bracelet.

I know that there are many evangelicals who are good people who work hard to be moral. I am deeply frustrated by what I see as evangelicals embracing someone as a good christian man, while completely failing to hold him accountable for acting on that faith. "You shall know them by their fruit" only applies to Monica and the blue dress, evidently. And I think that stinks. I am amazed that people seem to care so little about the environment that they will reelect this man. I am amazed that people don't mind the growing gap between the have's and the have not's. I am amazed that people lament divisiveness in politics and then seek to reelect the great divider.

Done for now.

August 30, 2004

PhD woes

So, I have a PhD. It isn't nearly as impressive as it sounds. I am glad I completed it, know that it was an accomplishment. No more than many countless other accomplishments, and in fact, less than a good many others.

And I know all too well how little I know, and sometimes how much I think I should know to qualify as a "Dr." Today was one of those days where I am reminded of how little I know. Had a student walk up after class and ask, "is there anyway to make some sense out of your lecture?" Well, not quite that bad, but maybe not the best reaction for a PhD speaking on his area of expertise.

But here I am. It has been a few years now, and I happened to stop by my old advisor's office today. He was in with a student. Grad student. Poor bastard.

So, I say hi, and talk about the class. He introduces me to the student this way: "my old TA." Old habits, I imagine. For that student, that might mean that I never finished. Or the old advisor might have filled that part in after I left.

It really is ok. One of the things I learned when finishing this degree was what it meant to me and what it didn't mean. I knew it was a mistake to expect the degree to somehow make me something I wasn't. People who didn't respect me weren't going to change their mind when they saw the initials.

It would have been nice to hear the old advisor proudly say who I was. But that is his issue. He is the one who can't handle me as a peer. That isn't my problem. I know who I am.
For Shame - A leaked video reveals what Bob Dole really thinks about Bush's tactics. By Chris Suellentrop: "But Dole also made another statement that day, one that hasn't been aired until now. Of McCain's charge to President Bush during a 2000 debate—'You should be ashamed'—Dole told Wolf Blitzer, 'He was right.' Dole made the remark off-air, while CNN broadcast the Kerry ad called 'Old Tricks,' the one featuring McCain's 2000 debate remarks. The campaign stopped airing it recently at McCain's request."

Watch this damn video! Even Bob Dole thinks Bush should have been ashamed in 2000. Why not now?

August 28, 2004

'We Could Control This Country': 33 Extreme Reasons to Give Bush the Boot - Maureen Farrell at "Barbara's Daily Buzz"

Last week, I wrote about how the GOP's secret bride, the Religious Right, will be shuffled into the broom closet during next week’s Republican National Convention. And lest you think this is a case of leftist 'religion bashing,' consider this: The National Council of Churches, which represents the country's Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Presbyterians and 32 other denominations, has, against all tradition, been brushed aside by this President, while evangelicals have enjoyed unparalleled access.

'Bush has shown an ideological commitment to the literalist Christian tradition at the expense of the broader view of the larger religious community,' National Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Bob Edgar told, which is just a nice way of saying that the girl next door has been dumped for Tammy Faye Baker. 'He is the first president not to meet with the leadership of mainline Christian traditions since George Washington. We've been able to talk with the prime minister of Britain and the chancellor of Germany, but not our own president.'

The Reverend Fritz Ritsch also questioned this historic snub. 'The president apparently believes that he can talk about theology from the bully pulpit without talking to theologians,' Ritsch wrote in the Washington Post. 'Which begs the question: When did the president become theologian in chief?'

'I trust God speaks through me,' George Bush reportedly told a gathering in Lancaster, PA."

A laundry list of all the reasons we need to be concerned about Bush's theology and the people who benefit from his term in office. And it is scary. Scarier than that last line.

August 27, 2004

Via Slacktivist, via Atrios, a transcript from the Daily Show that is funny, yet not funny about how the media operates. And I thought it was the liberals who were dismissed as postmodern idiots who thought that every point of view was equal (ridiculous as that sounds), but it appears that the media loves this point of view. Not because of any philosophical stance, but because actually analyzing the merits of the various arguments takes work. That and they have been so cowed into believing the "liberal media" bullshit they have bent over backward to appear "objective." Anyway.

slacktivist: A dispute: "Monday night's Daily Show had what I thought at the time was a very funny bit with Rob Corddry (transcript via Atrios):

STEWART: Here's what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry's record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the US military, and haven't been disputed for 35 years?

CORDDRY: That's right, Jon, and that's certainly the spin you'll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

STEWART: Th-that's not a spin thing, that's a fact. That's established.

CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontravertible fact is one side of the story.

STEWART: But that should be -- isn't that the end of the story? I mean, you've seen the records, haven't you? What's your opinion?

CORDDRY: I'm sorry, my *opinion*? No, I don't have 'o-pin-i-ons'. I'm a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called 'objectivity' -- might wanna look it up some day.

STEWART: Doesn't objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what's credible and what isn't?

CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well -- sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] 'Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.' Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me."
Really interesting discussion from a linguistics professor on the problem we have communicating between conservatives and progressives.

Linguistics prof. George Lakoff dissects the "war on terror" and other conservative catchphrases: "What's in this new 'essential guide for progressives'? Even the Democratic Party seems to have trouble defining what makes a liberal.

Well, for that reason I wrote a chapter on what unites progressives — a moral system, certain political principles, and what I call policy directions as opposed to policies. A policy direction is something like 'Let's have a sustainable environment' and 'Working people shouldn't be living in poverty' and 'Everybody should have health care.' The problem is that the Democrats have wanted to talk about programs rather than policy directions, and programs call up distinctions, which tend to separate people. For example, Kerry should be talking about health care for everyone, and just put a white paper with the details of the program on his website. The values, principles, and general directions are what people care about and what brings them together. It's pointless to argue about the policy-wonk details, because they're going to change anyway."

August 26, 2004

One more, I guess Carlos is on a roll! This from the Baptist press's Tim Ellsworth, talking about the Iraqi soccer team (I admit, I cheered for them). Evidenlty, Sir Tim was not happy when the Iraqis deigned to criticize Bush (who, in BP style, should be considered their Great White Stupid Father, I guess) and at that point decided that these Iraqis weren't smart enough to recognize how great Bush was. And he lost a lot of respect for these guys. I hope they can handle it!

Jesus Politics: The Baptist Press "Listens" to the Iraqi Soccer Team: "The Bad

This honor goes to the Iraqi soccer team. On one hand, the surprise performance of the Iraqis could be classified in the category above. But the minute some of the Iraqi teammates began criticizing President Bush, it changed my opinion of them completely.

“How will he meet his God having slaughtered so many men and women?” midfielder Ahmed Manajid said about Bush. “He has committed so many crimes.”

Memo to the Iraqi soccer team: If it weren’t for Bush, you’d still be under the rule of a murderous tyrant. Maybe the war in Iraq hasn’t gone as smoothly as both Americans and Iraqis hoped. But it did result in the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his sons, and the Iraqi soccer players ought to be a little more grateful to Bush for changing their lives for the better."
Jesus Politics: Jerry Falwell: Vote for the Bush of your Choice: "As for his critics, Falwell said his vision for ministry, which is shaped by his relationship with God, allows him to focus on the goals set before him. Addressing his critics, he was unbowed.

'We're here to stay, we're going to bring this nation back and we couldn't care less what you think about it,' Falwell said to his opponents."

Two brilliant examples of what my last post was about. Falwell thinks that all Jesus cares about is abortion and gay people. Poverty? Well, not so much. And this great wisdom? It comes from his "personal relationship" with God. In that relationship, God whispers sweet-nothings into ole Jerr's ear, you see, and tells him that gay people are bad, and that God is pro-war and pro-Bush. Amazing thing, that ability to self-deceive.
From Jesus Politics, this disturbing bit of news. Pandagon also pointed to this, suggesting the insanity of how the Swiftboat TRuthees are distracting the nation (conveniently) so that Bush doesn't have to take responsibility for his policies on the poor.

It is unbelievable, however, that evangelical Christians can look me in the eye and say that they vote for Bush because he is a "good Christian man." Vote because you think his policies help (hard case, that) or because you don't like Kerry, but don't tell me he is in any shape or form emulating Christ. The only thing he does (besides reading Oswald Chambers every day) is talk about his faith. His campaign style is just as ruthless as any other person (perhaps more) and his political style is equally so. Very hard to imagine Christ acting this way, unless the Jesus you believe in mocked the dying and showed no concern for his enemies. (Wait, I am remembering something completely opposite of that.......)

Jesus Politics: Voting to Have More Children in Poverty: "WASHINGTON (CNN) - The number of Americans living in poverty jumped by 1.3 million last year as household incomes held steady, the Census Bureau said Wednesday.

The percentage of the U.S. population living in poverty rose to 12.5 percent from 12.1 percent -- as the poverty rate among children jumped to its highest level in 10 years. The rate for adults 18-to-64 and 65 and older remained steady.

The bureau also said that the share of aggregate income for the lowest 20 percent of Americans fell to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent.

The report indicated that children and blacks were worse off than most, Reuters reported, noting the report would almost certainly fuel Democratic criticism of President Bush.

The number of poor rose to 35.9 million, up 1.3 million from 2002.

Health care coverage also dropped last year and incomes were essentially stagnant, the Census Bureau said in its annual poverty report, seen by some as the most important score card on the nation's economy and Bush's first term in office.

The number of uninsured people rose to 45 million from 43.6 million in 2002, the bureau said."

August 24, 2004

Pandagon: Enough: "The truth that our media won't admit and our people don't want to hear is that this election should revolve around one refrain, repeated every time this ad airs, every time the job numbers drop and every time a soldier dies. And it goes: 'You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?  Have you left no sense of decency?'"

Damn. Pandagon does it again. I had a rant building, but this is so much better than mine.

August 22, 2004

Using the Internet to pick up, er, friends?

Talked to a friend yesterday about online chat. We did our fantasy football draft in a chat session and he said he had avoided them in the fear that some stranger might abduct him. Well, not really. But it was funny. I talked him through the chat session and he did fine (except for drafting some Arizona Cardinals).

But his joke reminded me of the almost paralyzing fear that some people had regarding meeting people online. The strangers and the abductions and the nefarious activities: all the kinds of things my family still fears about the internet. And there is certainly some peril out there for the uninitiated.

So we had lunch with some new friends--friends that we met on the internet. This was a first for all of us, I believe. They are bloggers too (and here), and after exchanging emails and comments and recognizing that we all live reasonably close to each other, we decided to meet face to face. We chose a restaurant equidistant (roughly) and set the date and time.


Little nerve-wracking at first.

But then, damn cool.

After all, it isn't every day that you go on a blind, er, lunch date with two other couples. I know that sounds weird, but accurate. And it was a great experience. Funny and interesting people are usually good lunch partners. And that proved to be the case here.

So nice to find people in this area who are asking many of the same questions and who share some of the same frustrations. People who share similar values about justice and peace (even if some flirt with Nader!) :)

Nice to know that we are not alone out here in the Oklahoma wilderness. So, thanks to new friends.

August 21, 2004

Swift Boat charges falling apart
These guys have certainly gotten a lot of press with their accusations that Kerry lied about his vietnam experience. Finally the media appears to be doing its job.

The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > Friendly Fire: The Birth of an Anti-Kerry Ad

and then:

Chicago Tribune | Anti-Kerry vets not there that day
: "But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown. The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us. It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there."

August 20, 2004

Steve Earle

Coming next Tuesday is the release of a new Steve Earle album called "The Revolution Starts Now." For those who haven't heard him, he is a very interesting guy with a fascinating past. He has put out a lot of albums over the years from hits like "Copperhead Road" to a just fabulous album called "Transcendental Blues" to the controversial "Jerusalem" that included the controversial "John Walker's Blues" about American Taliban John Walker Lindh. He is also a fantastic song writer, great singer and musician.

He has been to prison, is a recovering drug addict and has become a staunch anti-death penalty crusader. In a recent Onion (yes, the Onion) interview, he spoke about his stance:

O: What about the criticism that you're more sympathetic to killers than to victims?

SE: Well, I'm not. Just look at my record as an activist. My main area is the death penalty, but I've done most of my work with Murder Victims' Families For Reconciliation and Journey Of Hope... From Violence To Healing. The idea that murder victims' families are best served by continuing the cycle of violence is something that I consider to be not only a lie, but criminally negligent. You lie to victims' families when you tell them they're going to receive closure if they participate in the process and witness the execution of a human being. I've witnessed the execution of a human being. This is not an abstract for me. I promise you, it isn't going to heal anybody. I'll never recover from it. It's incredibly irresponsible to allow victims' family members to witness executions.

Anyway, his new album comes out this Tuesday. I hope people vote with their feet just like they have with Farenheit 9-11 and buy this album. Show Toby Keith that he isn't the only picture of a modern American. BTW, in another interview, Earle watched as his dog Beau (a Blue Heeler! Wonder if Streak is related) gets sick during a taping. The dog had swallowed a tennis ball and had to have surgery the next day (he was fine).

Sucking on a cigarette, Earle says, "I can deal with losing girlfriends." He has been through six marriages with five wives. But, he adds, "there are two things I won't be able to stand: losing that dog and seeing Bush reelected." He tosses the cigarette and heads back into the booth.

Anyway, go order the album. Now.
The New York Times > Washington > Campaign 2004 > White House Letter: On the Road, Bush Fields Softballs From the Faithful: "'I'm 60 years old and I've voted Republican from the very first time I could vote. And I also want to say this is the very first time that I have felt that God was in the White House.''"

Wow. What kind of theology is this? Don't misunderstand me, I would find it equally offensive and stupid if it the recipient was Bill Clinton or anyone. What a positively moronic thing to say.

The second part of why this is moronic is the farce the Bush Campaign puts out there in the guise of public dialogue. I understand it. No one wants to have a hostile question or shouter. But that is our democracy. We disagree on lots of stuff. And pretending that we don't is disengenuous and even dangerous. Easy to make the leap from there that those who disagree are simply out of step and possibly subversive. Don't laugh. We have done it before. Free speech and dissent are not guaranteed. They are if people follow the constitution, but they don't always. A prof of mine reminded me once that when the people have to choose between freedom and chaos v. order and repression they will always choose the latter. They will always be willing to trade their freedom for a sense of order.


August 19, 2004

Politics, loyalty, and stuff

I watched John McCain the other day chide the Swift-Boat Veterans for Trooth about their ad against Kerry. McCain called the ad dishonest and dishonorable and also suggested that this was the very same stuff they did against him in 2000. They, being the Bush people. They, who push polled South Carolinians about McCain's "black" baby (They adopted a child from Bangladesh, I believe) to remind the state's racists that they needed to be careful who they elected. They, who ran ads challenging McCain's patriotism even though he spent years in a POW camp. Evidently, by allowing himself to be captured, he was dishonoring the brave Cheney's (had better things to do) and Bush's (I served, I served, I served, but those records were destroyed).

Then, McCain is seen around swing states introducing this guy! What gives? McCain is supposedly not fond of Bush personally (who can figure that?) and has been openly dismissive of the administration (he was the one who said Bush spent more money than a drunken sailor). Yet, here he is endorsing this guy for president. Does Bush have pictures of McCain? Or, as many bloggers have pointed out, is McCain really not what many Dems wanted him to be and is instead a hard core conservative.

The answer is probably both (not the pictures). I think McCain hates Bush and loathes his policies. But what happens if McCain endorses Kerry? What happens to any Republican who crosses the line? They might be voting their conscience at that moment, but are risking their entire future in their party of choice. Makes me a little sympathetic for all those Republicans who are endorsing Bush through clenched teeth. I wonder how many of them will vote in secret for Kerry? That is, unless they signed that loyalty oath to see Dick Cheney..........

August 17, 2004

I think I am getting old

So, I have the Tivo, did I mention that? I am in the tv room watching King of the Hill. I had been working in another room with the computer and music going. Now I am watching the Tivo and start to get annoyed about the definite sound of bass coming from behind my house. Damn kids. I did the fist shaking and the swearing. Have always found it annoying when people play their stereo so loud that it interrupts my tv viewing.

Then it dawned on me. The bass was coming from my own computer. Damn kids.

August 16, 2004

The Olympics, or What is an American to do?

Those who know me are aware that I am not a fan of the Olympic games. I think they peaked with the Cold War battles between the US and Soviet athletes. Now, we make up rivalries between the Australian and American swim team, or turn to the women's gymnastics team to foster memories of Mary Lou Retton. And, I might add, the games have become huge money makers and are far more about the money than any sense of global unity or peace. Perhaps that has been true for a while, I don't know.

So, despite my opposition, I actually sat down and watched a little of the games. With the variety of channels, we have been trying to catch things like Olympic badmitton (????) or Table Tennis. I actually started cheering for the women's sand vollyball team, well, maybe for different reasons. I have to concede there are some great stories at the games. Martina Navratalova playing at 47 is kind of cool. And I know there are great stories of people who work their asses off at other jobs while they train for a sport that only seem to count at these games. So, those are cool.

But the stories that dominate the games? Michael Phelps and the so-called "Dream Team" men's basketball. Phelps is a swimming freak and was hoping to win a new record for individual medals. As is the norm, we had to suffer through the human interest stories about these athletes and so learned a little more about Phelps, the swim freak. Turns out he seems like a teenage jerk, who's big lesson from international competition has been that when he breaks a world record, he gets to buy something extravagant, like a "tricked out" Cadillac Escalade. No sense of global responsibility here. But, to be fair, he may have actually learned the lesson of the modern Olympic games--money rules!

And then we have the men's basketball team. Beaten to a pulp by Puerto Rico. And this was not a new trend. Beaten in preliminary play by Italy, and needing a miracle shot to beat a German team that didn't even qualify for the Olympics--we were not terribly surprised to see them lose to Puerto Rico. And yes, the team doesn't have its best playing, blah, blah, blah. But count me among one of the observers who are tired of the "Dream Team" crap. Kind of glad they lost. Maybe they will learn a little humilty--that used to be one of the things you were supposed to learn in sports.

August 11, 2004 : Leak Allowed al-Qaida Suspects to Escape: "But on Tuesday, two senior officials expressed dismay that the arrest of Khan made it into the media too soon reported first in American newspapers on Aug. 2 after it was disclosed to journalists by U.S. officials in Washington.

'Let me say that this intelligence leak jeopardized our plan and some al-Qaida suspects ran away,' one of the Pakistani officials said on condition of anonymity.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice acknowledged Sunday that Khan's name had been disclosed to reporters in Washington 'on background,' meaning that it could be published, but the information could not be attributed by name to the official who had revealed it."

Hmm. So, let me see if I understand this. Our current administration is running on the claim that they are best suited to secure us from terrorists. Yet, to bolster their political stance they essentially broadcast an undercover operation in process that stopped us from capturing more people. This was a purposeful decision by the most secretive administration in recent memory--and yet there is no outcry. Why? Had this happened under Clinton, we would have multiple investigations and possibly an impeachment call. And this is the second time that the White House has imperilled our national security for purely political means (the invasion of Iraq doesn't count) when someone leaked to Bob "John Kerry has a lot of splaining to do" Novak the identity of a CIA AGENT WORKING ON WMD!!!!!

Yeah, Bush makes me feel real secure.

August 10, 2004

the parish: It Appears I am a Secular Humanist...Alas

Greg scored in the Secular Humanist zone, while I, apparently, am a Socialist. I didn't realize that and am grateful to the good folks at Worldview Weekend for pointing this awful truth out to me. Maybe there is something I can take for it. I wonder if I eat the Bible if that will help?

Very interesting test, btw. Here is a sample question (one that I failed miserably, btw):

When you study the Bible as a whole, it becomes clear that God is very supportive of an economic system that is based on private property, the work ethic, and personal responsibility.

Most of the others were just as bad. One other comment (kind of a spoiler for the quiz) is that their "correct answers" were always either strongly disagree or agree. No room for nuance in this worldview. No room to suggest that perhaps there are merits to a capitalist economic system, but many problems as well. No room to talk about the merits of government, not as a source of wealth, but as a powerful force that can assist business and also protect consumers. No room for gray at all. Black and White. Off and On. Right and Wrong. Binary thinking.


Yahoo! News - Bush Listens to Sermon on Material Wealth
: "The Very Rev. Martin Luther Agnew preached Sunday to a packed Episcopal church just down the road from the Bush family's seaside estate. Its oceanfront parking lot was filled with luxury cars made by Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo, testament to the wealth of the summer visitors at this southeast Maine resort.

'Gated communities,' Agnew said, 'tend to keep out God's people.' But, he said, 'Our material gifts do not have to be a wall.'

'They can very well be a door. Jesus says, `Sell your possessions and give alms,'' Agnew said. 'I'm convinced that what we keep owns us, and what we give away sets us free.'"

Indeed. This speaks to a very interesting trend in protestant theology where greed has been exised from the faith. I suspect that the Bushes did not expect to be chastized for wealth, or more accurately, to have their wealth challenged. Churches simply don't do that. Class warfare and all that. Plus it implies that God doesn't want Americans to be wealthy if they work hard enough, right? Isn't that somewhere in the Bible?

I am not completely sure where this comes from, but suspect that whatever started it, the damn burst during the Cold War when criticizing capitalism was tantamount to agreeing with the Soviets and their God-less communism. In any result, the only sins we talk about anymore are those of the sexual or personal nature. Don't do drugs, don't have an abortion, don't have sex outside of marriage, and for Pete's sake, don't be Gay! Follow those rules and you are close to being a sin-free Christian! Well, not sin-free. You might still gossip and not study the Bible enough, but you will consider yourself more moral than the "world" as you drive through it in your Suburban to your Gated Community where your 4,000 square foot house (has two air conditioners) sits next to the other non-sinning protestants.

August 9, 2004

Iraq Seeks Arrest of Ahmad Chalabi ( "Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Ahmad Chalabi, a former governing council member, on money laundering charges and another for Salem Chalabi, the head of Iraq's special tribunal, on murder charges, Iraq's chief investigating judge said Sunday."

This appears best sorted in the "what were we our leaders thinking?" file. Remember Chalabi? The guy sitting right next to Laura Bush at the SOTU? Remember the guy that Bush soon after tried to act like he didn't know? Well, he is being charged in Iraq with counterfeiting, while his nephew is charged with murder. Of course, it might be as Ahmed says, a politically charged sting, but it isn't like the guy is new to the world of fraud. Our leaders should have known that the CIA didn't trust this guy because he was widely known to be a problem. But our leaders, led by Wolfowitz and Perle and Cheney, all loved this guy.
American Prospect Online - ViewWeb: "Bush’s words may be semantically secure, but his intent has always been to mislead."

Matt Yglesias has some thoughts on how Bush and his handlers say things that are technically true but actually misleading. Gives him some measure of plausible deniability, I guess, but it still stinks. It stinks in the way that Clinton was savaged for the same behavior with lower stakes.

Sometimes I really wonder about Bush's appeal. Do people really like his facade of steadfastness? Do they really think that their economic future is better off with this guy? What about security? Saw Marc Racicot on cnn this morning defending the Prez and attacking Kerry. Kerry, he noted, was impossible to understand because his message changed so much (big flipflopper) while the President, he noted, was still clear. Even with what he knows now about Iraq and WMD, he would still invade Iraq!

Now, I understand that the pundits and Bush's own people would stroke out if he actually admitted a mistake, and it would play badly with his base if he said that given what he knows now, he would have pursued a slower course in Iraq. But give me a break! We know that Iran (that's and "n") actually assisted the 9-11 hijackers, and, oh right, it is Iran who has a growing nuclear program, and, oh right, Iran that benefits greatly from destabalizing Iraq. I am not saying we should have invaded Iran instead, but how do you look at this situation and not have a trace of humility?

Shame on Bush for his obstinant flipflopping, and shame on the American public for encouraging it.

August 6, 2004

The Volokh Conspiracy - Home

Eric Muller continues his thoughtful dissection of Michelle Malkin's polemic.
The Washington Monthly

Kevin at the Political Animal points out that the Bush people might want to ask the Swift Boat Morons for Trooth (as Fafblog put it) to shut the #$%& up. Shut the #$%* up. After all, the more time we spend looking at Kerry's record from the 1970s, it become more and more relevant to ask where was George? Do the American people really prefer a guy who pulled strings to get into the guard and then didn't even fulfill that duty while on the other hand a young man of priviledge volunteers for service, volunteers for dangerous duty and then has the gall to speak out against the war?

I, for one, just don't get it. Paint Kerry as negative as you like for speaking out against the war, say that his purple hearts were for superficial wounds--that other people didn't get medals for the same kind or even better acts of valor--say it all. How is that still worse than a guy who cares so much about his country he won't even fulfill his Guard duty?

This is a timeline comparing Bush's poll numbers and terror alerts. Suspicious timing, for sure. Former President Clinton (I miss him) was on Letterman the other night, and as I noted in a previous post, he said this recent alert was a result of the administration playing it straight. But all those other times make this one suspicious. I am beginning to think that all of those things the rest of us learned in kindergarten--you know, about boys and wolves, and being nice to others, and not invading countries--Karl Rove, George Bush and Dick Cheney just didn't learn. Maybe Cheney had better things to do. Maybe we should look for those school records for Bush (hope they weren't destroyed), and I think we all know that Rove was out in the playground spreading rumors about the other kids and their military records, alliances with people of color, stuff like that.

August 5, 2004

World O'Crap: "Dennis Prager

Liberals and Democrats are not comfortable with adult-child distinctions. They therefore frequently treat and regard children as adults and frequently treat and regard adults as children.

That is why liberals do not generally want children to call adults 'Mr.' or 'Mrs.'  Such titles render adults distinct from children.

Prager's column was indeed bizarre and argued that the Democrats desire to not distinguish children from adults led them to have this little girl chastize Cheney for his language. And how dare they, noted Prager, since:"Of course, this girl has accomplished nothing compared to Dick Cheney" said Prager.  So, World O'Crap suggested we compare the various accomplishments/attributes of the little girl v. Cheney.

But just to be fair, maybe we should compare their accomplishments:

                                                        Girl           Cheney

Served in Viet Nam                          No               No

Promoted false al Qaeda/Iraq ties   No               Yes

Taken in by Chalabi                          No               Yes

Seems likable                                    Yes              No

Conflicts of interest re Halliburton      No             Yes

priceless. Also note that many of the same people who loved Cheney having the moral fiber to tell Leahy off were shocked, shocked that Theresa Heinz Kerry would tell someone to "shove it." I am at least consistent here. I have said that Cheney's utterance to Leahy almost made me respect him. Almost. 
Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | McCain Condemns Anti-Kerry Ad: "Later, McCain said the Bush campaign has denied any involvement and added, ``I can't believe the president would pull such a cheap stunt.''"

John! I hope you were kidding when you said that. Or had tongue firmly in cheek. What about the Bush administration and previous campaign tactics would lend you to say that?

McCain called the recent ad saying that Kerry was unreliable in Vietnam "dishonest and dishonorable," and noted that none, that is none of the individuals in the ad actually served with Kerry. Put this in that big file called "Whatever it takes to get Elected."
History, Internment, Racism and Celebrity

Much has been written about the blog world lately. Critics say that bloggers, since they are not real journalists, they don't have to fact check or use real sources or stuff that real journalists do. Of course, the real journalists don't seem very good at those things either. Else we might have had more critical questions of our WMD-induced war.

But back to the blog world and how this unique forum can really make a contribution. And also back to the celebrity of "journalism." Michelle Malkin, for those unaware, is a very conservative columnist who's views are routinely posted on and she frequently appears on Fox (natch). Her fame supports my observation that the media is not really either liberal or conservative, but is drawn to the stupid and the loud and the pretty. Malkin isn't stupid. But she is loud and decent looking. Shrill works where facts and measured discussion fail, or that is how our modern world seems to work. So, in the vein of Ann Coulter attempting to redeem McCarthy, Malkin has decided to redeem and justify the Japanese Internment with a new book. She argues, from what I can pick up, that internment evacuation was justified not on racist terms, but because the government had ample evidence that the Japanese government was actively recruiting people of Japanese ancestry to work for the Emporer against the US.

The good part of this little story is that this incendiary book is bringing out some really good blogging that underscores what this medium can accomplish. The bad part is that it gives Malkin more publicity, and given the politics of celebrity, that means more sales and more sense of justification for her.

But back to the bloggers. Eugene Volokh's Volokh Conspiracy, provides a great (moderate) commentary on law and politics (he is a professor of law). He has invited Eric Muller (another law prof) of Is that Legal (another blog) to guest blog on Malkin's book. Muller brings expertise to this issue, having published a book on Japanese American draft resisters in World War 2, and let me say that I have found this entire discussion fascinating. This is exactly the kind of discourse that we need. Not Malkin, of course, but the others are countering this incindiery book with facts and thoughtful rebuttal. Read Muller here for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 or what he calls Part 4, the Robinson Rebuttal where he cites Professor Greg Robinson's cogent review of Malkin, part 65. And by all means read David Neiwert's take on the book here.

All of these point out just how flawed Malkin's methodology and reasoning are in this book. Turns out that the Japanese government did, of course, try to cultivate spies inside our country, but they tried to recruit both of Japanese and non-Japanese heritage, which might have justified the internment of all of California.

Malkin wants us to be able to discuss internment without political correct lenses, but of course, she really wants us to be able to discuss racial profiling and possible internment of Arab Americans. But, by all means, let's discuss internment openly. I think the facts will show that it was a mistake and a racist policy that did little to make us safer.

But, finally, let's hear no more of the blog bashing....
Just the politics, please

In an attempt to manage between spamming my friends and going crazy with this administration, I am hoping to vent my rage in planned and measured outbursts rather than holding it in and taking it out on Streak's other friends.

So, a few news and notes.

First, it appears that one of the Republican fundraising and newspaper supporters is a traitor. That's right, the crazy and moronic Reverent Moon evidently helped North Korea obtain old nuclear submarines. Where is the outrage from George and his buddies? Why, oh why does the American people stand for this kind of stuff?

Second, speaking of FOB's (Friends of Bush), there is Katherine Harris, of Florida election fame. Now, a sterling Representative from that state (undoubtedly helping the mascara industry) Harris made a speech where she quoted a mayor from a town that had had uncovered a plot to blow up that town's power grid. Funny, but the mayor knew nothing of the sort. Then she said that it was still true, but was classified...not for her, of course.... Turns out it wasn't classified or correct.

Third? Yes, there is more. Our Veep, the estimable Richard "Dick" Cheney spoke in Albuquerque last week to a crowd of well-wishers. Not a dissenting voice to be heard. Well, actually, not a dissenting voice even allowed near. To get tickets, people had to sign a pledge that they supported the President and VP this fall. Add to that the free speech zones (no, the entire country is NOT a free speech zone) and this administration starts to take on a really bad vibe. I don't want to say goosestepping, but jeesh! Hell, if they can say I am unamerican, then I get to say they lean toward the fascist side of politics. Well? If you control the news, limit dissent, and make rulings in secret, what do you call that?

Fourth. After Tom Ridge's annoucement this week (as Letterman put it: "Hold on to your wigs and keys") we dealt with the whole fear that this administration has so politicized Homeland Security that these terror announcements are politically timed to discredit or distract the opposition. Truly disturbing allegations, and it should be noted, the former President Clinton said that the administration was playing it straight. But the administration has some credibility problems. Pandagon (damn fine blog, btw) noted this little gem:

Pandagon: Completely Divorced From Politics, You Betcha: "Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month."

See? No politics going on here. Just as they used the budget last February to publish campaign photos of Bush being "presidential" they are politicizing even our security. Add to this the Bush tactic of asking churches to provide their rosters to help the campaign, and I think we have a full folder called "Will do anything to get Elected!" That last thing made Richard Land mad. And his voice is usually muffled and hard to hear since he is speaking from inside the President's ass!

Ok, and now last something positive. Really. (At least for me.) Bruce Springsteen (yes, the Boss) is speaking out on the political election. And will be singing out in a tour with other lefties (or people just left of Bush). He argues, and I think this is a good argument, that people criticize artists and celebrities for speaking out on politics, but corporations also speak out and often for the conservative side. Artists have their own right to speak, and yes, to be criticized for it. But this is what Bruce wrote about America:

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting. (Thanks to Obsidian Wings)

We really can do better. I don't know about the Dems recent campaign themes, but let me say that I "Hope" that "Help is on the way."