August 31, 2006

This should make you smile

OK Go, Dancing on Treadmills

Buy the album at iTunes:

More OK Go:


I don't know. Are they this capable?

Digby quotes Frank Rich on Bush the Republican party's true motivations in the weak response to Katrina:
Douglas Brinkley, the Tulane University historian who wrote the best-selling account of Katrina, “The Great Deluge,” is worried that even now the White House is escaping questioning about what it is up to (and not) in the Gulf. “I don’t think anybody’s getting the Bush strategy,” he said when we talked last week. “The crucial point is that the inaction is deliberate — the inaction is the action.” As he sees it, the administration, tacitly abetted by New Orleans’s opportunistic mayor, Ray Nagin, is encouraging selective inertia, whether in the rebuilding of the levees (“Only Band-Aids have been put on them”), the rebuilding of the Lower Ninth Ward or the restoration of the wetlands. The destination: a smaller city, with a large portion of its former black population permanently dispersed. “Out of the Katrina debacle, Bush is making political gains,” Mr. Brinkley says incredulously. “The last blue state in the Old South is turning into a red state.”


Thoughts? On one hand, I can see the Rovian hand here. On the other hand, these people couldn't actually do anything except cheat at elections. Not sure they are this effective.

A belated thanks to Zalm

A few months back, when I was feeling pretty low and down about our country, Zalm suggested that I listen to Mark Erelli's "Seeds of Peace." I downloaded the song soon after, but then just lost track of it. A Ubub suggestion of using an Itunes playlist to look at rarely played songs brought it to my attention this very morning. As you can see from my earlier posts, I need this song today as much as when Zalm suggested it.

Some of the lyrics:
"What's become of my country torn by contradiction
The spirit of freedom propped up by a culture of fear
Where it's unpatriotic to protest or even to question
Have we learned nothing from history or the last couple years

And the rain pours down
On the fallow ground
And the fruited plain as barren as the sand
Is it not within our will
How long must we wait until
The seeds of peace find purchase in this land

He stood on the deck and he said we'd accomplished our mission
He twisted the facts 'til he knew it would pass for the truth
Vengeance can fill any fool with conviction
But he can't wash the blood of the fallen from his cowboy boots


I will not be shamed into silence by partisan thunder
I won't fall in line and march to the drums on the wind
How many more daughters and sons will we see plowed under
How much longer must we wait 'til the harvest comes in"

How Katherine Harris went from "rock star" to "batshit crazy"

Katherine Harris, still crazy

Speaking of our idiot leadership

And World War II analogies, Matthew Yglesias points out the problems with comparing our current situation to 1939.
Back to Iran. Talk of a unified Qaeda/Iran/Hezbollah/Syria menace is nonsense as a casual scan of actual Sunni jihadist views will make clear. As Fred Kaplan notes, if Churchill and FDR had operated with the Bush mentality, 'they might not have formed an alliance with the Soviet Union (out of a refusal to negotiate with evil Communists), and they might have therefore lost the war.'

It's worse than that, though -- they might have proposed attacking the Soviet Union in the middle of the war because Bolshevism and Nazism were both species of Eurofascism."

Exactly. This is what you get when you combine religious fundamentalism and foreign policy. Why not make Tim LaHaye our Secretary of State? Cut to the chase?

Perhaps it is dawning on even conservatives

These are tough days. For progressives, the world looks so much worse than it did even a couple of years ago, and we seem to have the worst possible administration in power during that time. We could have had a competent conservative group who disagreed with us on tax cuts and environmental regulation, but did what they did competently. We could have had a progressive, yet incompetent, administration who we liked but couldn't get anything done. We have the incompetent conservatives who discount anything they don't like AND can't do a damn thing well.

Listening to NPR the other day, the promo for Terry Gross was about Iran and the same people who wanted "regime change" in Iran used to say the same thing about Iraq. It is as if these people never heard the story about the "boy who cried wolf" as a kid. Maybe we should make that required reading for the nation.


But the view that our President is incompetent and stupid is starting to have more legs than just liberals drinking lattes. As David Corn notes that group is growing:
"The other day I crossed paths with a conservative talk show host. We chatted about current events. He noted that he was quite pissed off at the neocons for suggesting that American blood should be spilled to benefit the Iraqis. Let the Iraqis take care of themselves, he huffed. I asked, "Are you in the Bush-is-an-idiot camp?"

This was a reference to a recent segment on Joe Scarborough's MSNBC show during which Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, posed the question, "Is our president an idiot?" After playing a montage of video clips showing Bush at his tongue-tied worst ("Fool me once, shame on you--fool me--you can't get fooled again"), Scarborough said that an former close aide to President Bush had recently told him that Bush is "intellectually shallow and one of the most incurious public figures this man has ever met." Scarborough claimed that Bush is "getting worse instead of better" and that when it comes to presidential stupidity Bush is "in a league by himself." He added, "I don't think he has the intellectual depth."

My conservative interlocutor fidgeted, as he considered how to respond. After a moment or so, he said softly, "Well, he can be moronic.""

Olbermann on Rummy

A first class rant on a Sec Def so arrogant that he can dismiss critics as immoral, and by extension the President that allows him to serve. At the end of the rant (either read it or watch it), he quotes Murrow:
"'We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,' he said, in 1954.
'We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.
'We will not walk in fear - one, of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of un-reason, if we dig deep in our history
and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men; 'Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were - for the moment - unpopular.'"

August 30, 2006


Hat tip to my Anglican friend for this Garrison Keillor gem:

This week we mark the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the Current Occupant's line "You're doing a heckuva job," which already is in common usage, a joke, a euphemism for utter ineptitude. It's sure to wind up in Bartlett's Quotations, a summation of his occupancy. Annual interest on the national debt now exceeds all government welfare programs combined. We'll be in Iraq for years to come. Hard choices need to be made, and given the situation we're in, I think we must bite the bullet and say no more healthcare for card-carrying Republicans. It just doesn't make sense to invest in longevity for people who don't believe in the future. Let them try faith-based medicine, let them pray for their arteries to be reamed and their hips to be restored, and leave science to the rest of us.

August 29, 2006

Hey Les

You keep coming back, so here are a few questions. No, nothing to do with SBC policy or treatment of moderates.

  • Why do Southern Baptists seem so happy with Bush's presidency?

  • Why do they seem to applaud an ill-advised war even when so many Republicans are unhappy with the management of this war?

  • Why do conservative evangelicals still refuse to hold the President accountable for torture policies, horrible response to Katrina, and tax policies seemingly aimed at helping the already rich?

  • Why does it seem that the only accountability calls come when Bush vacillates on gays or stem cells?

  • And to reiterate, the Bush administration has worked exceptionally hard to be able to torture people. That seems like a fundamental moral question and I am unclear as to why conservative evangelicals seem to be sitting on their hands on this one. They can raise hell over Harriet Miers, but not over torture?
  • August 28, 2006

    We have way too many idiots

    This headline: Prosecutors Drop Case in Ramsey Slaying just about drove me up the wall. And our media? Idiots.

    I admit, when a friend told me that they had a possible lead in the Ramsey case, I was mildly intrigued. I remembered how sure I was that the parents were involved--that any parents who would put their tiny child in beauty pageants like that weren't quite right. I thought, like so many, that maybe we had jumped the gun.

    Then, like everyone else, I was inundated with the story. Yeah, yeah, war in Lebanon; Iran making nukes; our President doing something stupid--all that stuff was shunted aside to watch this nut job fly back from Thailand. Even to the point that we heard details on his meal and drink preferences. Idiots.

    Once I heard a little about the case, it became clear to me that if that was all the prosecutors had, they were in trouble. Always tricky when your witness has the reliability of a child molester. Reminds me of Dobson using Ted Bundy to justify that porn made him kill women.

    But the media........ I have an idea. It is unworkable from the start, but here is what I would do as King. A bi-partisan committee of smart people (rules out Bush administration, I know, but I am willing to live with it) takes a look at the last few years of media coverage. Any meaningful discussions about healthcare and tax reform gets plusses--Tom Cruise mentions and anything related to Paris Hilton are clear minuses.

    Panel adds them up and goes to the businesses AND "reporters" and gives them the business. For most of the media, King Streak would recommend banning from news programs. You can moderate celebrity stories all you want--entertainment and fake news is all yours--but no real stories. Banned, as it were, from even discussing Iraq, politics, or the environment. Those stories would be given to real smart people who write for the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly and occasionally are on the air.

    Now, if I can just figure out how to make myself King.....

    Katrina revisited

    Jonathan Alter notes that he actually thought Bush might take the opportunity to do something to attack poverty after he realized how bad things were in New Orleans. That optimism was sorely misplaced:
    "Well, it turned out that the critics were largely right. Not only has the president done much less than he promised on the financing and logistics of Gulf Coast recovery, he has dropped the ball entirely on using the storm and its aftermath as an opportunity to fight poverty. Worker recovery accounts and urban homesteading never got off the ground, and the new enterprise zone is mostly an opportunity for Southern companies owned by GOP campaign contributors to make some money in New Orleans. The mood in Washington continues to be one of not-so-benign neglect of the problems of the poor."

    August 27, 2006

    Jon Swift notes that Science is dead--credits Republicans

    Funny stuff over at Jon's blog. Unfortunately, just a little too close to the truth.

    Oh, and check out the commenters who didn't quite understand it.

    Liberal media?

    I am a surfer. I think we all are. I surf past CNN's other station where normally I see the news top stories, and find this jerk--this conservative host. His name is Glenn Beck and he annoys me beyond belief. Every show I have seen recently is this tool pushing for us to attack Iran. That's right, this asshole thinks that the same administration who screwed up Iraq, couldn't get water and food to Katrina victims (remember that?) or interrogate possible suspects without waterboarding, should be given permission to attack Iran.


    Oh, and speaking of Katrina, here is what asshat had to say about Katrina victims AND 9-11 families:
    "But the second thought I had when I saw these people and they had to shut down the Astrodome and lock it down, I thought: I didn't think I could hate victims faster than the 9-11 victims."


    Substitutionary atonement discussion

    Kevin Powell provides a great concise critique of this difficult theology:
    "When I was in seminary, my systematics prof noted that the bible does not have one theology of atonement. And all the theology it does provide is based on metaphor.

    But what I find most troubling about SA specifically, other than divine blood lust, is how abusive it can be toward non-believers. In my wife's LCMS childhood church, the pastor would point to a crucifix and bellow: 'You're the reason Jesus is up there! It's YOUR sin that Jesus is dying for! Everytime you lie, cheat, or steal, you hammer another nail into Jesus' hands. That should be YOU up there in horrific pain. But Jesus is dying in your place.'"

    August 26, 2006

    Another War Widow who hates Freedom?

    Another brave person stands up to Bush.
    War Widow To Bush: "You're Here To Serve The People. And The People Are Not Being Served With This War." | TPMCafe: "But Halley has just given me a much more detailed account of her meeting with Bush. She told me that she went much farther in her criticism of the President, telling him directly that he was 'responsible' for the deaths of American soldiers and that as a 'Christian man,' he should recognize that he's 'made a mistake' and that it was his 'responsibility to end this.' She recounted to me that she was 'very direct,' telling Bush: 'As President, you're here to serve the people. And the people are not being served with this war.'"
    And to be fair, in her account of meeting with the President, you do get a sense that he has compassion. Unfortunately, he either listens to other (Cheney, Rove) voices more, or just can't connect that better person to his policies and political actions.

    I want to believe in that Bush. I really do. But then I hear Karl Rove outline the strategy for the fall--which of course, is to say to the American people, "if you elect a democratic congress or senate, you might as well be sending Osama an engraved invitation." It is horrible political dialogue, and we are all diminished by it.

    August 25, 2006

    What is it about some conservatives

    And to be fair, some liberals. Perhaps those who study the human mind can help us here. There appear to be personality types who are completely convinced that they are right, end of story. My recent conversation with Les highlighted that. As much as he used the language of conciliation and dialogue, he never really entertained any other idea because he was already right.

    The AP notes that Tom DeLay knows the courts erred: "'I'm very disappointed in our justice system. There doesn't seem to be justice,' DeLay told KTRK-TV." Why? Because he knows the law and they are wrong.

    I am sometimes a little jealous of these individuals. As strong as my ego is and as fervently as I can make my case, I never believe absolutely that I am right.

    August 24, 2006

    Let's not forget this wingnut

    You remember her--the one who may have decided the 2000 election for Bush and then ran for the house on that street cred? Well, she might as well join D James Kennedy's church because she is parotting the entire right wing evangelical line here:
    "In a lengthy interview with Florida Baptist Witness, struggling U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris asserts, among other things, that the separation of church and state is a fallacy.

    'We have to have the faithful in government and over time,' the Witness quotes Harris as saying, 'that lie we have been told, the separation of church and state, people have internalized, thinking that they needed to avoid politics and that is so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers.'"

    I really think she should be held accountable for that. Because blaming God for Bush, or Cheney, or Frist or Hastert has to be blasphemy. It just does.

    That woman ain't right....


    I just read that the Decemberists have a new album coming out. I have to confess that this band has annoyed me. I know that many music people who happen to read my blog love them, but I have difficulty listening to their last album (with a few exceptions). Some of their songs just piss me off.

    Downloaded this song from Heather's blog and it sounds decent. At this point, I am not sure I will rush out to buy the album, but not bad.

    My silly friends think that an SBC pastor might raise my bp

    Right. An argument with a guy who really thinks that his learning comes only from the Holy Spirit is my problem. :)

    Let's review:

    Consider the recent meme of conservatives ramping up on Iran:
    "Lieberman on Iran: Greg Sargent has the excerpts from Joe Lieberman's appearance on the Glenn Beck show during which Beck said a whole series of absurd things about Iran to which Lieberman happily agreed. The highlight is that Lieberman assented to Beck's view that 'The weapons of mass destruction was a nice side benefit' of the Iraq War, but that fundamentally, 'We were trying to go and pop the head of the snake in Iran.'"

    Yeah, because we are about to hear all sorts of Neville Chamberlain/Sudentenland comparisons to Iran. Just as we heard them with Iraq. And Panama. And Granada. ....


    Oh, but Republicans as the pro-military, strong-on-defense-party is what you are looking for, right? Yeah, well, this is what the Repubs are up to: (H/T Shaun at Upper Left)
    Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.
    House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center Â? half of what the center received last fiscal year.

    Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.

    "I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country," says Martin Foil, a member of the center's board of directors. "It blows my imagination."

    Yeah, the GOP "Bomb them till they vote" has decided (yet again) to disregard our fighting men and women. I think it was my Anglican friend who noted that this was not surprising. After all, they are just other workers. And we know what the GOP thinks of the workers...


    Or the declining moral values of our country is your bag? How about that wingnut of wingnuts D. James Kennedy? (Please note, I have been warning people that this crazed lunatic has a big following for sometime).

    Well, "Dr." Kennedy has a new "TV Special" on how Darwin and Hitler. See, in the idiot's mind, Darwin caused Hitler. Simple enough, right? One comes after the other. To be fair to the idiot made-up-doctor, smarter people than him have worried about the consequences of Social Darwinism (not actually the ideas of Darwin, btw) on society. Of course, people like William Jennings Bryan worried that Darwinianism would quell social reform and concern about the poor. Our idiot has no such concerns. He just wants to align Darwin with Hitler.

    Such, unfortunately, is the mental acuity of the religious right. And I am worried about SBC Pastors who can't quite connect the logical dots?

    August 23, 2006


    Well, I continued my little discussion with the SBC pastor. I was warned. No worries, I am fine. Hell, every single action by our President raises my blood pressure more than this little discussion.

    True, arguing with Les is like wading through a fog. No offense to the good pastor. He was not abusive nor rude, but just inconsistent. He never responded to key points. He never explained why on one hand he was interested in a discussion and wanted to "agree to disagree" and on the other hand adamantly dismissed anyone to the left of Al Mohler. And when I say dismissed, I mean that people like that have nothing to contribute and there is absolutely no reason to dialogue with, or meet with, or find commonality. The best thing, in his mind (blog artistic license, Les) was when the liberals and moderates were pushed out of the SBC. After all, Jesus didn't hang around the lefties, did he? Heh.

    Honestly, I like little arguments where the stakes are pretty low. They can be fun. I don't know Les and really don't care what he thinks of liberals and moderates. No offense to him, but I am not looking for a way back inside the SBC. (Just between us, I was kind of surprised when I realized that the moderates in the SBC were far too conservative for me.) I just wanted him to honestly acknolwedge that he and his buddies have systematically excluded people who think differently. Because they could. And they are proud of it. And when someone like Burleson dares to apologize for treating people badly, it raised some feathers.

    Perhaps I entered into this discussion because of another experience. A potential job experience where the employer was a conservative religious school. A horrible fit for me, and I would have not worked well for them. They wanted not diversity, but uniformity of thought. And that is the SBC model. And that is ultimately what saddens me. I would think the faith would be strong enough to handle some ideas a little bigger than innerrancy.

    And I still do.

    August 22, 2006

    Not sure why I do that

    That last post was probably a mistake. I am miles away from my SBC days, yet reading Burleson's post evoked memories I had long forgotten. Then I read this blog and find that conservatives think Burleson is some kind of liberal turncoat. And I engage with him over that.

    Sigh. Why do I care? I have no interest in a church denomination where woman's equality is debated. I have no interest. None. Just as I have no interest in a denomination that considers the word "liberal" as pejorative--something you use to slander opponents. Or a place where people are absolutely sure that their view of the Bible is the same as God's.

    I should not have responded--to either. Not sure anything good can come of it.

    SBC "mea culpa"

    Found this post over at Jesus Politics where Wade Burleson evidently feels bad about how the SBC takeover occurred. I click with interest. After all, this used to be my denomination and that purge had a deep impact on my view of church. Then I get over to Mr. Burleson's blog and find that he wanted a "kindler, gentler" purge. Liberals are bad and should be kicked out, but it should have been done nicer. And the worst thing that conservatives did? They called other conservatives "liberals."

    "Now I realize I was fighting for the wrong thing. I should have been fighting for Southern Baptists to TALK to each other, to PRAY with each other, to COOPERATE with each other, to LOVE each other, rather than to divide into sides and conquer one another. True, classical liberals need to be removed from any positions of authority in the SBC, but it should be done in a proper manner, following all protocol and procedures established for such an event.


    However, I now realize that several good, solid conservative evangelical Christians have been slandered and maligned. Men who are gracious, gentle and gospel believers have been called liberal, heretics, and even worse. "

    Worse? Worse than a liberal? Please say it isn't so, Wade.

    Well, though reading stuff like this raises my blood pressure and brings on a few expletives, it also serves a good purpose. It reminds me why I am no longer a Southern Bapist. No room for liberals.

    You can have it, Wade.

    August 21, 2006

    The consumer church, yet again

    After yoga this morning, a few of us were talking about PTA meetings and church news (though not necessarily in that order). I learned that one of the local Baptist churches is hell bent (hah) to buy an entire city block because they have a hankering to start a Bible based school. That is ALL we need--another fundy thumper factory. (Motto, "We put the "fun" back in "Fundamentalism*).

    Another church has decided to build what a friend refers to as an "atrium for Jesus" on the front of their very nice church building. Those stories from the OT? You know, towers and edifices? Nevermind.

    Anyway, these have me thinking about an old post from the blog, so I did a little digging. I think it is still relevant and even better than I remembered--if I do say so myself.

    Please note: I am more than aware that MOST churches are NOT like this. Even many fundamentalist Baptist churches would never be caught dead with a coffee shop or bookstore. But there is undoubtedly a consumer trend, and below is my humble idea of what it might look like.

    Streak's Blog: "The recent Passion-related merchandising and subsequent deafening silence from the evangelical community has inspired me of the business opportunities to be gained in this largely untapped market. Below is my vision of the new, P.C., LLC.. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Nabisco foods)

    [As our visitors enter the sanctuary decorated with the usual crosses and stained glass depictions of our Lord and Savior saving mankind, they are directed to their seats by ushers. Those same ushers take drink and muffin orders as the organ plays.]
    [Lights dim, Pastor steps to the podium.]
    'Welcome to our church,, where your religious dollar goes farther!'
    [Thepastor grins and waits for the laughter to fade.]
    'In all seriousness,we hope that our visitors were able to negotiate the parking system outside and urge you to sign up for a monthly permit if you join our church. Great savings over the single visits. Remember that salvation and standing up to the devil is a costly venture and we must compete. And before we start the hymns, please make your final drink orders from your usher. We are having a Passion of the Christ muffin sale today, 2 for 5 dollars. And now our music minister. Praise Jesus.
    [Music minister takes the stand.]
    'Please turn in your hymnal to page 242. If you do not have one, your usher can bring one to you for a $4 rental or you can purchase your own (engraved in fake leather) at the bookstore after the service or online at
    Now,let us sing: 'what a friend we have in Jesus...'
    [After the choir has sung their song (paid for today by the $2 cover charge), the Pastor reappears to call for the offertory. He explains how to use the touch screens and card swipes in front of every worshipper. Those without credit cards are ushered out to avoid embarrassment.]
    [Organ music.]
    [Pastor returns for his sermon.]
    'Today's sermon is brought to you by the good folks at Keeler SUV and Gas Guzzler. If you need to buy a new car, the Lord has directed me to say that these folks are his anointed dealership in this area. They will not cheat you out of the heaviest car they can sell you, and you can show your devotion to our Lord and Savior by following his will. On a side note, there are people who will tell you there is something wrong with SUVs. They are called Communists and the Lord is not amused. SUVs are exactly what our Lord and Savior would have driven except for the fact that the Jews hadn't figured out the internal combustion engine when he walked the earth. And don't listen to the 'tree-huggers.' God made these cars too and if you buy a, so-called, 'efficient' vehicle, you will be cheating our good Brother Exxon--Hi brother, so glad you are enjoying your front row boxseats--out of his hard earned profit. If his business suffers, the Lord will not be happy.

    Now to our sermon on the Moneychangers. These were evil Jews, much like you would see in our contemporary Hollywood. And in this story, Jesus just threw them out of the temple. Wouldn't that be grand? Wouldn't we love to see the fornicators and abortionists and pornographers just thrown out of this good country?
    Remember, Hitler loved porn. Abortions and porn.

    Let us pray. 'Dear Holy God. Help us to be better children of thine and show us thy pleasure by making our stocks go up, Lord, yeah, even double. For as I walk through the uncertainty of downsizing, I will fear no evil as God himself will ensure that my 401K will increase at a healthy 10% rate. Amen.

    'Now is the time to call our new converts and consumers to the front to declare your allegiance to our Lord and Savior. Once you have declared before God and man, you will have one more step.

    For while it is good to declare your love of Jesus and God before this holy, incorporated partnership and congregation, it is most important that you show the rest of the ungodly world where your allegiance lies, verily. So following your conversion, please follow Bridget (head usher) to the Church GiftShoppe where you can purchase your proof to the world. We havet-shirts (pre-shrunk, of course) posters, bracelets, official pendants of the Passion of the Christ movie, and of course, John The Baptist ties for the Christian executive. For our youth fighting the sin of premarital sex, we have 'Abstinence Only' thongs and 'Just say No' briefs.

    The Gift Shoppe accepts all major credit cards, and today only, if you turn your life over to Christ AND purchase a minimum of $50 worth of Christian-proving merchandise, we will sign you up for a low interest credit card.This new card will allow you to profess your heartfelt faith whereveryou shop, and in fact, you will be witnessing to the world every time you buy something. So, buy, buy, buy. Show the Lord and the Devil whose side you are on! Let us pray.
    [End of service.]"

    If I were to write this today, I might have added an option on the swipe card screen to order coffee, muffins, and make a substantial donation to the Republican party right from your pew. With the free wireless (undoubtedly available at this church) new consumers could set up their tithing as an automatic payroll deduction ("Remember, people, that is 10% off the top, not take-home.**)

    *Simpsons reference
    **and yet again

    Lieberman may not be registered as a Repub, but he sure lies like one

    Interesting. Lieberman, in an obvious bid to blunt some of the image of him kissing the President, told Face the Nation that he thought Rummy should go. But he also told them that he had said that for the last three years. Hmm. As it turns out, he lied For the last three years, he has defended Rummy. That is one of the reasons that Bush likes him so much.

    But that said, here is a prediction. I predict that Karl Rove will convince Bush to fire Rumsfeld, give him the Presidential Medal of Freedom (of course, he gives it to all the incompetents, liars and torturers). Why? Not because Bush will admit he was wrong, but to take pressure off the midterm elections.

    I actually hope I am wrong and Bush remains as stubbornly dedicated to incompetence that it makes it easier to run against him. And, I am absolutely sure that who ever he would pick to replace Rummy will be an incompetent boob. Perhaps even worse. Has he improved on any of his cabinet level choices yet? Pushes out O'Neill for Snow? Pushes out Powell for Condi, Condi, Condi?

    If he was smart, he would reach out to James Baker and maybe even put Baker in that role. That would restore some element of power to the position (vis a vis the neocons) and also establish a reality check there.

    But he isn't smart. Bush will regret that Kissinger is probably off the table. Given his tendency to rehabilitate past Republican criminals (Poindexter, Negroponte, Kissinger), he could tap G. Gordon Liddy for the post.

    Upper Left

    Hat tipe to Shaun at Upper Left for this nice summation of the issues. I wish I could say that Democrats would fix the world, or at least solve the problems we have. I don't necessarily believe that. But I have no doubt that the current Republican party and leadership is the most soul-less and corrupt institution on the planet. If you can allow George Bush to run rampant through our constitution and decimate our military without ever asking "why?" then you have proven that you can't run the country. Period.

    August 20, 2006

    Well, do we call these grownup Repubs or just weasels who were afraid to speak out before?

    Pundits Renounce The President: "For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether 'George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad.' For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, 'IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?' (you can watch that segment here)"

    And George Will seesm to have made it his mission in life to take on the neocons. In this column (with a great title: The Triumph of Unrealism) Will both castigates the neocons and notes that John Kerry was right when he suggested that law enforcement would be a better tool against terrorism than the military.

    Shocking, but the White House still disagrees. Their hubris is pretty amazing, considering that the death toll in Iraq continues to climb and the Mideast is less stable than it was when "Bring it on" Bush was elected.

    Speaking of that, we watched Kathleen Madigan's standup dvd the other night. I think she is funny. Anyway, she said that John Kerry lost the election in 04 because he lacked any personality. He should have just picked one, she said. "After all, George Bush picked Yosemite Sam and people can't get enough of it."

    And finally, we heard two stories on NPR this morning during our coffee run that caused us to wait in the car. The first was a great interview with PF Sloan, who wrote "Eve of Destruction" when he was somewhere around 19.

    The second was a very insightful interview with Atlantic Monthly's James Fallows about his new article on how to fight terror. He suggests we declare victory in the "war" on terror and go about fighting it with law enforcement and intelligence. (Intelligence would be a nice place to start.)

    But his bigger point was that we have been largely effective in harming Al Qaeda's abilities, with one notable exception. That exception? The war in Iraq essentially accomplished exactly what Bin Laden hoped 9-11 would do. As Fallows argues, the goal of terrorism is not to kill people necessarily, but to force governments to react in a way that is ultimately self-destructive. Hard to find a better example of that than our own government's response to 9-11. Israel, he suggests, has also fallen prey to that, reacting to a very real provocation with a policy that have long term negatives for Israel more than they do for Hezbollah.

    August 19, 2006

    I don't have any of his music

    But this Kris Kristofferson is not bad. As protest songs go. Neil Young was on Colbert the other night and I loved his "I hate this stinking war" sentiment.

    Someone asked if I was in a funk lately. Perhaps. Lot going on with school. No more stress than anyone else, and less than some. But it is hectic.

    The summer heat tends to wear on me too, though I suspect that is less than the wear and tear of living in the shattered remains of our constitutional government. I watched Bush the other night do his little smirking chimp at a Harley factory and thought, "I have avoided saying this, but our President is a dick." I mean, he is a total ass. All respect due to the office, but the man in that office right now is someone that none of us would want to spend time with.


    Speaking of that, and the Kristofferson video, I was listening to an interesting discussion on NPR the other night about what to call the recent Israel/Hezbollah war. Interesting how every side chooses those names that most benefit their view of culpability. The mayor of Beirut (I believe) however, caught me off guard when he hoped this would be called "the last war."

    Holy shit. I am not a pacifist, though, as Greg over at the Parish and Wasp Jerky ask, if Jesus was one, and we are to model him, then . . . I can't quite get there, but there are a great many things that Jesus asked that I am unable to do. I have no love in my heart for our President, I hold grudges, and against my better nature, I sometimes take pleasure in the suffering of my enemies. (In my own defense, at least I know that isn't right, whereas the Falwell and Dobson's of this world seem unaware).

    But back to pacifism and war. I am struck by how many people in our world thrive on war as an idea. Oh yeah, they say they hate war, that "war is hell," blah blah blah, but it is hard to watch the news and not feel that many of these people like the leader of Hezbollah, the President of Iran, some in Israel and Bush and Cheney all like war. They like it. They want it.

    I am not arguing for a complete moral equivalency here--some of these demand that Israel be wiped off the map. But our world is a dangerous place because all of them like to put others in harms way and then talk about the costs of war.

    There will always be war, I have no doubt. This won't be the last war probably this year. This will continue. But part of that is due to way too many people in power who don't even believe in peace.

    And unfortunately, our country is high on that list right now. Call me an idealist. Call me a wimp. Call me a commie. Hell, I don't care. But this isn't working.

    Hell, maybe I am in a funk!

    August 16, 2006

    This just in: Richard Land is a tool

    I know I should not. But I listened to The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission on the way home today. Richard Land is a moron, and I know that, but I keep holding out hope since he made a big deal out of apologizing for slavery in the 1990s.

    Wow, what bravery. How about apologizing to science for the whole "earth at the center of the universe" controversy?

    Well, today, Dr. Land took on the war on terror and spread the Iranian message far and wide. Yeah, he took the crazy preznit at his words (just as he does routinely with Bushy) and decided that Iran wants a new Islamic empire. Ok, fine. But then he pronounced the preznit's name--not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but rather "Abbadabadoo."

    Yeah, that's right. Our Oxford PhD who speaks for the SBC can't be bothered to pronounce a Persian name. So much easier to make it a cartoon.


    So here is what I sent to the good Doctor:

    You have made great mileage out of defending the SBC "apology" for slavery, yet your comments about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed your true racist soul. Rather than pronounce his name, and then critique his outrageous statements (make no mistake, the man is crazy) you decided to call him "Abbadabadoo." I am so glad that the SBC has a PhD addressing key foreign policy issues.

    Perhaps you should call your White Citizen Council "handlers" and assure them that you are attending to the white supremacy agenda.

    There is a legitimate war on terror, and you choose instead to affect a jocular attitude and mispronounce "foreign" names as if you can't be bothered to learn their pronunciation.

    Hey, news flash, you don't get to apologize for slavery and then assume that racism ended. I expect that from the klavern people who support you, but not an Oxford educated man who putatively cares about theology and morality.

    Shame. Shame.

    Oh, wasp jerky, why do you point at the naked emperor?

    wasp jerky: Boo Part 2 (Weapons Of Mass Distraction?): "Am I saying there's no danger, no threat? Sure there is: 46 million Americans don't have health insurance. IBM is legally stealing from its employees' pension plan and United Airlines has dumped its pensions altogether. Four-million three-hundred thousand Americans were injured, made sick or killed by their jobs last year. TXU Corporation is right now building four monster-sized power plants in Texas that will burn skuzzy gunk called 'lignite.' The filth it will pour into the sky will snuff a heck of a lot more Americans than some goofy group of fanatics with bottles of hydrogen peroxide."

    August 15, 2006

    In case anyone thinks I am a democratic shill

    Tonight, just received a "poll" from one of the candidates in the State senate race (My friend Mary will love this story, and my other friend M will too). "Poll" goes "who you voting for?"

    I say TE.

    "Poll" asks, would it matter if I knew that TE had registered to vote in the last six months?

    I say, "is this a push poll?"

    "Poll" chuckles. Repeats question.

    I say, and this damn near a quote: "I will say that I have met JS, and like him, but if I get any more of this negative shit, I won't vote for him EVER."

    August 14, 2006

    We don't need no stinking warrants

    Our Homeland Security Chief is unhinged, and incompetent. Seems to think that last week's terror arrest in Britain means that our government needs more power.

    I remember a day when a statement like that would have sent the Tubbo Limbaugh's and Hannity the Stupid into a violent rage. Remember when conservatives feared the power of an encroaching state? Remember?

    More on the concert

    I have said that Alejandro is the best artist that most Americans have never heard of, and last night's show reaffirms that in my mind. Great rock, great ballads, and just an overall great show. Here is a picture from an older show, but same venue.

    Those who are interested can download a couple of tracks from here. "Dearhead on the wall" is a great song, even better live.

    Liberal media strikes again

    Good old Crooks and Liars catches this exchange between Arianna Huffington and Howard Kurtz. Talking about media responsibility, Arianna says:
    "I mean, you had your own headline anchorman, Chuck Roberts, describe Lamont as the al Qaeda candidate. This is an equally deceitful, fraudulent, fabricated statement. There should be zero tolerance for all those deceits, whether in images or words.

    KURTZ: Well, what Chuck Roberts said, according to the transcript, was that some are calling Ned Lamont the al Qaeda candidate. But it's certainly not a formulation I would have used."

    Funny story really. Searching Nexis Lexis, Arianna finds no other such reference. "Some are calling" is passive bullshit and this should be opposed at every damn level. Here we are again, some guy on a diary over at Kos makes a funny photoshop of pulling over a Lieberman statue ala Saddam, and the right wingers go nuts. But the RNC paints a hitler mustache on Dean and CNN anchors call a Democratic candidate an Al Qaeda candidate.

    Every day, I get prouder and prouder to be liberal, and more and more ashamed of the conservatives in my country.


    But, one bit of good news, btw, also from C&L, [via Newsweek] this grownup Repub sighting:
    At the same time, […]Dick Cheney, darkly warned that the Connecticut primary victory of antiwar candidate Ned Lamont over Sen. Joseph Lieberman would only encourage "Al Qaeda types." (Interviewed by NEWSWEEK, former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge bridled at his former colleague’s remark: "That may be the way the vice president sees it," he said, "but I don’t see it that way, and I don’t think most Americans see it that way.")

    August 13, 2006

    Another live music experience

    little tired, but saw Alejandro Escovedo at the Blue Door tonight. Almost talked myself out of it, but as usual, was well worth the effort.

    He put on a great show and there is much that I enjoyed. But I think my favorite part was his introduction to a song about his father who passed away at 97 in the last few years. He talked about what his father taught him and gave him, and noted that this man, who came from Saltillo, Mexico and worked for a time as a migrant worker, had also provided so very much to his new country. These, Alejandro pointed out, were the people that so many want to stop from entering America.

    One other moment. He introduced Castanets with this: "We didn't play this song for a while because we found out it was on George Bush's favorite Ipod list. But we can play it now because he is on his way out."

    August 12, 2006

    I had trouble sleeping

    And this isn't helping. Cal Thomas calls democrats who unseated Joe Lieberman "Taliban Democrats."

    At first I was outraged (OUTRAGED, I say) that Thomas would use such an incindiery term to refer to liberals, but then I remembered a few of us (and possibly even me) referring to Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as the American Taliban. It still makes me mad, mind you, but I got over the shock of the term.

    Perhaps it was too extreme to use that to describe the Religious Right, though it is so damn easy when they bash gays, feminists, and seem to want women to cover up more. And let's not forget calling for the death of foreign leaders. More like a fatwa than anything that occurred in Connecticut. In fact, note to idiot Cal: a ballot is not a fatwa--that is what makes us different, remember? Why they hate us?

    But back to Cal Thomas's shit piece. And it is a pile of it, trust me. The logical leaps here are so annoying that it would take all morning and more coffee than I have in me to refute them all.

    But let me take on a few. As EJ Dionne pointed out, conservatives have all jumped on All democrats for Lieberman's failure, as if the leadership of the party turned on Joe because he stepped out of Democratic orthodoxy on one point (the war). Most of the Democratic leadership supported Joe. Hell, Bill Clinton campaigned for him. But when the people of Connecticut chose otherwise, they decided to support the system of democracy. That doesn't seem like Taliban policy to me.

    By the way, Cynthia McKinney, the Representative most famous for punching a Capitol police person also lost in her primary. I didn't hear anyone in the GOP coming to her defense. Democracy worked there, evidently.

    But back to Toxic Cal. He makes two points that really infuriate me. First:
    As a Jew, Mr. Lieberman is particularly sensitive to those who have targeted the Jewish people for extinction. But even if he weren't Jewish, he would still "get it," because he understands what's at stake in the region and has correctly concluded that the consequences of American failure in Iraq would be catastrophic.
    See, Republicans and Bush followers are the only people who "get" the problems of the region. Cal, I "get" it too. I wonder why you don't "get" that Bush's little war has caused the entire region to become less stable, not more.

    Second, is something we have talked about here before.
    Former Bill Clinton aide Lanny Davis, in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal titled "Liberal McCarthyism," printed a sample of the incendiary rhetoric directed toward Mr. Lieberman. There is thinly-veiled anti-Semitism ("As everybody knows, Jews only care about the welfare of other Jews...." Posted on Daily Kos); irrationality ("Joe Lieberman is a racist and a religious bigot." Daily Kos); and personal attack ("Lieberman cannot escape the religious bond he represents. Hell, his wife's name is Haggadah or Muffeletta or Diaspora or something you eat at Passover." Posted on the Huffington Post blog).
    This is the most annoying and dishonest tactic most recently employed. If you notice, all those stupid things he quotes are not from Kos himself, nor from any other notable liberal, but from the comments. I agree that they are stupid. I find the commenters at the DailyKos (sometimes) annoying and same with other liberal blogs. Yes, liberals can be pretty obnoxious in the comment threads. Some of them are even racist. But those are fucking commenters!

    If I want to find obnoxious, racist and demeaning prose from conservatives, I don't have to even read the comments over at LGF. Or, I don't even have to read blogs. All I have to do is check out what Michelle Malkin, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or Cal Fucking Thomas has written in print, spoken on Fox, or spewed from their syndicated radio show.

    The right has put their bigots and idiots in power, yet the left has to answer for anonymous commenters. The RNC puts a Hitler mustache on Howard Dean, yet Cal attacks commenters on a blog.

    Yeah, that's right. Sigh.

    August 11, 2006

    This is your GOP

    E.J. is one of my favorites and he is obviously as pissed off as I am. Read his column, but here are a few select quotes:

    Oh my goodness, as Don Rumsfeld might say. Support for the Iraq war hits a record low, and all the president's hit men decide that it's time to smear their opponents as defeatists who give aid and comfort to the enemy.


    The gentlemen who have gotten us into a mess in Iraq prefer not to explain how they'll fix things. They would rather use national security for partisan purposes, and they were all out there on Wednesday, spewing incendiary talking points. Hey, they may not have sent enough troops to win a war, but they sure know how to win midterm elections.


    Then there was Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, handpicked by President Bush and Karl Rove.

    Speaking in Cleveland, Mehlman couldn't resist starting with a little old-fashioned redbaiting. He explained Ronald Reagan's defection from the Democratic Party this way: "He saw the beginning of the end, as a party that had vowed to fight communism became a party that set itself against those who fought communism." Ah, yes, the party of Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale was nothing but a bunch of anti-anti-communists.


    Finally, from Tony Snow, the White House official who speaks for the president, came this analysis of the Connecticut result: "It's a defining moment for the Democratic Party, whose national leaders now have made it clear that if you disagree with the extreme left in their party they're going to come after you."

    This statement is rooted in a lie -- or, to be polite, fiction. As Adam Nagourney noted in the New York Times yesterday: "In fact, the vast majority of Democratic Party leaders supported Mr. Lieberman in the primary and did not endorse Mr. Lamont until after the results were in." On, Perry Bacon Jr. noted that Lieberman had the support of "almost the entire Democratic establishment."

    This president

    Eugene Robinson has a good piece on the reality of our "war" on terror--and the one that Bush isn't actually fighting. The fact that he was able to convince enough Americans to follow his neocon advisors into this Iraq war is really unbelievable.
    "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks of building a 'new Middle East,' but the Bush administration construction plan seems to begin with setting the old Middle East on fire. The bungled occupation of Iraq has drawn new recruits to the jihadist cause around the world, and now the disproportionate Israeli assault on Lebanon is doing the same thing. We are at war with an ideology, and pounding it frontally just disperses it. It's like trying to smash mercury with a hammer.

    Maybe the discovery of the airliner plot will bring us back to the real world. There are deadly enemies out there, and one way to fight them, as the British demonstrated yesterday, is through intelligence. One way not to fight them, as the Bush administration continues to demonstrate, is through reckless military action that may kill terrorists but also kills innocent civilians and thus creates a new generation of terrorists -- doubtless including some bright young man or woman who will come up with a new idea for downing civilian airliners."

    Add to that the incredibly cynical tactic of using this terrorist plot to demonize political enemies, and you get just more proof of the depravity of this administration.


    Immigration and Jobs Link Is Disputed - New York Times: "In the furious debate over immigration, advocates of reducing the inflow have argued that the millions of foreigners who came to the United States in the last decade took jobs from American workers. But a study released yesterday by the Pew Hispanic Center found that there was no evidence to support that claim for the country as a whole."

    Maybe that will stop some of this hysteria from the right. Or maybe not:
    "Conservatives are outraged that a strict new immigration bill in Colorado still allows children of undocumented immigrants to receive public assistance like food and healthcare: "We're helping create the next generation of terrorists," said Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora."


    August 9, 2006

    This is very interesting

    In this essay, the Washington Monthly discusses a bipartisan group headed by James Baker that hopes to provide an alternative approach to the Iraq war. Some suspect it has ulterior motives--to try and take the legs out from under Dems in 08, but most assume that this is the grownup repubs trying to reassert some influence. It interests me because I have always believed that Bush 41 thought this war was ill-advised and that Bush 43 has done much of his "Presidency" because of how intimidating his father was to him intellectually, professionally, and in experience.

    I hope like hell it works. I am one of those democrats who hates the idea of withdrawing from Iraq--not because I support the war--but because I don't like the resulting chaos. This panel could provide some kind of middle ground that tries to fix the unbelievable debacle that this President and Cheney have created.

    I loved this, btw. To no one's surprise, Bush and Cheney were not happy about this group, especially Cheney. Reportedly, he threatened to shoot Baker in the face (ok, I made that up), but finally the idiots two decided to support it. Said our prez:
    "In June, President Bush himself met briefly with the task force. 'Iraq is a complex situation,' Bush told them. 'And the fact that you are all willing to lend your expertise to help chart the way forward means a lot.'"

    This, remember, from the same Commander in Chief who brought us this little gem:
    A year after his "Axis of Evil" speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

    Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam — to which the President allegedly responded, "I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!"

    A full year after 9-11 and he didn't know the difference between Sunni's and Shiites. Unbelievable. And this brain trust authorized the most ill-advised war in American history.

    Just beyond belief

    War Crimes Act Changes Would Reduce Threat Of Prosecution: "The Bush administration has drafted amendments to a war crimes law that would eliminate the risk of prosecution for political appointees, CIA officers and former military personnel for humiliating or degrading war prisoners, according to U.S. officials and a copy of the amendments."

    Bush people now changing laws so political appointees and CIA people can't be charged with war crimes. The Christian presidency continues doesn't it? I am so glad we elected a good moral conservative Christian, because it has added such depth of morality to our government that was sorely needed. Our government now just exudes morality and responsibility. No more lying and shifty dealings. No more abuse of power, because, of course, Christians believe in humility and honestly. This George can't tell a lie because his God will punish him.




    So Joe loses

    This defeat for Lieberman is not really a surprise. Nor, as it turns out, is Lieberman's decision to run as an independent if he lost. He did and he will.

    Now the discussion will begin in earnest. Is this moving the Democratic party too far to the left? Is this a result of activist bloggers? Is this a vote a lack of confidence for Bush?

    I remember thinking that Lieberman was a good choice for Gore. Not the best choice, but a good one. Then came the VP debate. Lieberman caved. Horribly. He allowed Dick Cheney to run rampant over him. Cheney could claim with a straight face that his massive wealth gain during the Clinton years had nothing to do with his vast contacts in the government. Lieberman could have easily pointed that out. Instead, he allowed Cheney to do his little Grandfatherly act. I mean, how hard do you have to work to make Dick Cheney more interesting and credible?

    In 2003, SOF, myself and some Democratic friends traveled to Stillwater to hear the Presidential candidates. We heard John Edwards, Carol Mosely Braun, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, Dick Gephardt, and good old Joe Lieberman.

    It was a learning experience. Kucinich and Braun were more impressive than expected. John Edwards was simply not very polished or credible yet. Howard Dean was fantastic. And Joe Lieberman was annoying. I think he told us that Democrats who don't support this war "risk not understanding a moral war when we see one."

    I could understand his support for the war. But his arrogance and condescension really mimicked that of the President, and I think we have had all of that we can take.

    So, I am not sad that Joe lost. I am not surprised that he will threaten the Democrats possible gains in the mid-year election, because he is not, nor has ever been, a team player.

    August 6, 2006

    I am giddy, I tell you

    Goddamn giddy.

    Turned on the tv tonight only to see FOOTBALL!!

    Yeah, it is presason, and two teams I HATE, but it is FOOTBALL!!!

    God help me, I love the football.

    August 3, 2006


    McSweeney's Internet Tendency: This Bible You Sold Me Is Clearly Defective and I'd Like to Return It, Please.
    "The printer must have run out of black ink, because a bunch of it is in red."

    "This has got to be a bad translation because the Book of Revelation, instead of very clearly explaining the end times, the Rapture, and the final war with the Antichrist, doesn't make a damn bit of sense. It's full of a bunch of obscure symbols that are so open to interpretation, they could be applied to anything."

    August 2, 2006

    King George?

    On the new Bush administration proposed response to Hamdan:
    Crooks and Liars: White House proposes 'solution' to Hamdan case: "The Navy's top uniformed lawyer from 1997 to 2000 said the rules would evidently allow the government to tell a prisoner: 'We know you're guilty. We can't tell you why, but there's a guy, we can't tell you who, who told us something. We can't tell you what, but you're guilty.'"

    I remember my naive days when I believed in our democracy. I will say this. This administration has turned me into an ABR voter. That means, I would vote for just about anything before I would vote for the party that gave us Bush and then told us it was ice cream.

    August 1, 2006

    Just one of the reasons why I like reading Sojourners

    Actually two. This last issue had Jim Wallis challenging James Dobson on his stance on the environment:
    "A 2005 Focus environmental statement rejects that the Genesis mandate "justifies pillaging the earth" but insists that environmental concerns should always be secondary to "basic human welfare." But environmental problems affect people, not just some notion of "the earth" that excludes them. Global warming has potentially cataclysmic consequences, especially for the poor. The distinction between exploiting the earth and merely valuing humans most may sound reasonable, but its neatness relies on the fiction that our lives are not dependent on the health of all creation."

    This has always bugged me. Maybe it is my background in environmental history, but I don't understand Dobson (and so many others) artificial distinction between "nature" and humans. We all live in nature--even the man-made versions of it. This is one of the key transitions in 20th century history--moving from the early conservation and preservation concerns of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt where the arguments focussed on saving distant nature (parks, trees, cute deer) either for asthetic or efficiency efforts. In the late 20th century, after Hiroshima, Strontium 90, Silent Spring and Superfund sites, the focus turned from those external ideas of nature to seeing humans as another occupant in a giant nest--one that is being spoiled to our detriment.

    When Dobson says that environmentalists put trees and animals above humans, he repeats the earlier error. It isn't a theological distinction about who has a soul--but simply an broader life issue. And one that he is horribly wrong about. We can argue about best solutions (and probably should), but regardless of our solutions, we cannot separate humans from nature--not with any sense of intellectual honesty or basic hold on reality.


    Second, is this critique of the Bush admin's foreign policy where, as Wallis says, the idea of diplomacy seems to connote weakness:
    "The best line I heard in the period leading up to the war in Iraq was, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." It came from my friend Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, when we were on a panel together in England about the best response to terrorism.
    The premise of the panel was that the threat of terrorism is real, that there are real dangers prowling about in our world, and that the problem of evil is a very serious one. The question we were addressing was what the best response to the real threats of terrorism should be."

    The Israel/Lebanon issue has really been vexing. Partially, at least for me, because of some sense of false choices posited by conservatives. It is as if we have to choose between supporting Israel or not--and those are our only choices. Since the founding of the modern state of Israel, US policy has been to support them as a country. We have sold them arms, and been a friend. We have defended their right to exist and that all makes sense and is really not being challenged in this country. I know of no actual politician and certainly none who have any power at all who actually suggest that America should not support Israel. To suggest otherwise is misleading.

    Yet one of the other major roles that America has played in this area is the role of honest broker. We have cultivated (to some varying degree) a sense of clearly supporting Israel, but not solely Israel. In that sense, we could step into these situations and help find some meaningful ways at peace, or at least, a less violent situation.

    The Bush administration--waving hammers at all who move--have abdicated that role, and did so (as Zalm pointed out) from the beginning of his administration. Despite the cautionary words of people like Colin Powell (and Bush's own father, I assume) W decided he knew better.

    For those who like to see in him some Christian witness, I still am looking for it. I look for it as I look for a semblance of competence or genuine compassion. I look for it when I am watching him for signs of curiosity or intellectual interest. I still don't see it. And turning the idea of diplomacy into some notion of the unmasculine is not Christian. Is it? Aren't we called to reach out to our enemies?

    Anyway. Tired and probably grumpy. Mostly tired.

    Peace. Please. Just some peace.

    The RepubChristian dilemma

    Unfreaking real!

    The Open Voting Foundation:
    “This may be the worst security flaw we have seen in touch screen voting machines,” says Open Voting Foundation president, Alan Dechert. Upon examining the inner workings of one of the most popular paperless touch screen voting machines used in public elections in the United States, it has been determined that with the flip of a single switch inside, the machine can behave in a completely different manner compared to the tested and certified version.

    “Diebold has made the testing and certification process practically irrelevant,” according to Dechert. “If you have access to these machines and you want to rig an election, anything is possible with the Diebold TS -- and it could be done without leaving a trace. All you need is a screwdriver.” This model does not produce a voter verified paper trail so there is no way to check if the voter’s choices are accurately reflected in the tabulation.

    This is the Republican version of democracy. Shame on all of you.

    Conservatives, America, and faith

    It feels like we have been talking about this since the blog began. And before that. The central problem appears to be people who can't tell where their loyalty to America ends and their allegiance to God begins. And, speaking from my perspective, many of them can't tell where their Republican loyalties differ from their Christian ones.

    That is why it is nice to see this story: Disowning Conservative Politics, Evangelical Pastor Rattles Flock - New York Times.

    The requests came from church members and visitors alike: Would he please announce a rally against gay marriage during services? Would he introduce a politician from the pulpit? Could members set up a table in the lobby promoting their anti-abortion work? Would the church distribute “voters’ guides” that all but endorsed Republican candidates? And with the country at war, please couldn’t the church hang an American flag in the sanctuary?

    After refusing each time, Mr. Boyd finally became fed up, he said. Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

    “When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”

    Exactly, and that is what the Rod Parseley's of the world don't understand. Once you become part of the establishment, you lose the prophetic edge. And once you endorse the sword, you become just like every other point of view in the world: "we are right, and we will kill you."

    “Most of my friends are believers,” said Shannon Staiger, a psychotherapist and church member, “and they think if you’re a believer, you’ll vote for Bush. And it’s scary to go against that.”


    “When we joined years ago, Greg was a conservative speaker,” said William Berggren, a lawyer who joined the church with his wife six years ago. “But we totally disagreed with him on this. You can’t be a Christian and ignore actions that you feel are wrong. A case in point is the abortion issue. If the church were awake when abortion was passed in the 70’s, it wouldn’t have happened. But the church was asleep.”
    And I understand. One of the false arguments, however, is that separation of church state types (like me) don't want christians involved in politics or society. And that is exactly wrong. I have been clammoring on this blog for Christians to assert some moral voice--just over more than gays and abortion. And it is a mistake to assume that political action=turning the church into a chapter of a particular party. I think, personally, that churches are obligated to engage in the broader moral questions of our day--environment, poverty, global poverty, terrorism, racism, sexism, etc.--but not necessarily as a partisan hack. And that is what the evangelical church has done--they have become chapters of the Republican party--and have abdicated any moral voice on anything other than sex.

    Oh, and patriotism. Damn, have they endorsed patriotism.

    He [Boyd] said he first became alarmed while visiting another megachurch’s worship service on a Fourth of July years ago. The service finished with the chorus singing “God Bless America” and a video of fighter jets flying over a hill silhouetted with crosses.

    “I thought to myself, ‘What just happened? Fighter jets mixed up with the cross?’ ” he said in an interview.
    And that should scare the shit out of every Jesus-follower in the world. Who would Jesus Bomb? Oh, right, others.

    “America wasn’t founded as a theocracy,” he said. “America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn’t bloody and barbaric. That’s why our Constitution wisely put in a separation of church and state.

    “I am sorry to tell you,” he continued, “that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ.”

    These sermons had a cost among the Republican faithful.

    Mary Van Sickle, the family pastor at Woodland Hills, said she lost 20 volunteers who had been the backbone of the church’s Sunday school.

    “They said, ‘You’re not doing what the church is supposed to be doing, which is supporting the Republican way,’ ” she said. “It was some of my best volunteers.”

    Most evangelicals I know don't see their faith as entwined with GOP politics, but if pressed, can easily answer the same way one of Nathan's commenter's did:

    Moral Contradictions: Words we need to hear: "Logical words but you still haven't made your caes why ther Democratic Party is more 'Christian' or Christian supporting than the GOP. There are rules and regulations on everything we do and its based on the Ten Commendments. Three major religions are based on these rules. Which party bases its party platform on this? If you are a fundamentalist Christian which party agrees with your personal beliefs? If you are an evangelical Christian would you be welcomed at a Hollywood party? Show me exactly where in the Constitution it says'seperation of Church and State'? If your moral beliefs are against gay rights, abortion,etc, why are we excluded from campaigning against those that support such? "
    Translation: Republican party not Christianity, but more Christian than Dems.