October 31, 2006

An interesting take on the chevy ad

SOF and I felt a little bludgeoned by this ad campaign over the weekend. You could not watch football without hearing it over and over again. We started to think that the ad might backfire just from people getting tired of it. Not sure the ad critics agree with that, but they do have some great points about problems with the campaign.
American Tragedies, to Sell Trucks - New York Times: "“The first time I saw it, I thought, holy mackerel, they are using negative images to generate positive emotions,” said Bob Garfield, the advertising critic of Advertising Age. “I have never seen that in a commercial.”

“I feel a little violated when I watch it,” he said. “I don’t mind when they have a tent sale on President’s Day, but those guys have been dead for 200 years. I’m not sure I’m ready for a Rosa Parks sale-a-bration.”"

WJ on the Christian response to loss

wasp jerky: The Lessons Of September 11: "There is, of course, a much better lesson to be learned from September 11. The Amish know this lesson. They taught it to us all earlier this month. When a 32-year old milk-tank truck driver shot and killed five young girls, the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania did something unthinkable: they forgave the murderer. Even more extraordinarily, that Amish community reached out to the family of the murderer, going so far as to set up a college fund for his children. "

October 30, 2006

So, I called them

I called Focus on the Family this morning. I made absolutely sure I was polite and told both of the women that I spoke with that my comments were not intended to be hostile to them personally, but that I had to voice my frustration that Dobson would embrace someone like Ann Coulter on his show.

The first woman was clearly the receptionist and she was very nice. She asked if I was on their mailing list. I said that I was not and did not want to be. She then passed me off to a woman in their correspondence department. I repeated my statement that it was inconceivable that Dobson could refer to "family values" and embrace someone as hateful as Coulter. She was also quite nice and told me that Dobson had made it clear that he doesn't agree with all of her tactics, but thinks that Coulter has been a "powerful force in the pro-life movement." I asked if that included statements like refering to Muslims as "ragheads." She said, no of course not. I said, that is just like working with a Klan member because they are anti-abortion.

I reiterated numerous times that I was not mad at her and appreciated her letting me speak my mind. But I also communicated the horror that I feel and at one point said something like, "I apologize, but I am shaking this bothers me so much. That a man like Dr. Dobson could embrace someone who makes jokes about torture--torture--is completely incompatible with the message of the Gospel." I went on to tell her that this undermines his credibility on everything.

She was very nice, and I remained nice to her--enough that she thanked me for being polite. She said this comment would be included in a report for Dobson.


October 29, 2006

Like torture? Vote Republican (Updated) again!

What a thought, eh? But true. That is what Bush has created. My Texas friend told me that he would evaluate the candidates on an individual basis and vote for who was best. In any other year, I would agree completely and simply hope that he would truly hold those Republicans to their word.

But this is not any normal year. It is a referendum on Bush's policies. Voting Republican means that you don't want accountability. Think that is too strident? If you could just show me accountability during the last 6 years I might agree with you. But you can't. My values include a belief in checks and balances--and simply asking our President to follow our Constitution.

Voting for any Republican at this point means that you don't mind torture, are ok with signing statements, think that habeas corpus is a luxury we can't afford, and that you don't mind the Republican congress rubber stamping whatever Bush wants.

The Vice President just admitted that we use water to torture, and as Jonathan Turley noted on Countdown, the only reason to use water during interogations is to waterboard them. Anything else is just getting them wet.

The President also showed himself incapable of telling the truth when he said that he had never been about "stay the course." When he says that we don't torture, who can believe him?

Oh, and we waterboard people and incarcerate them without trial. Time to vote Democratic and return to something approaching accountability.

Update Not only do we torture, but our administration is corrupt and inept. Does anyone find this surprising?
Report: Halliburton unit exploited rules on Yahoo! News: "The Halliburton subsidiary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday.

The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction found that Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root Services routinely marked all information it gave to the government as proprietary, whether it was or not. The government promises not to disclose proprietary data so a company's most valuable information is not divulged to its competitors.

By marking all information proprietary — including such normally releasable data as labor rates — the company abused federal regulations, the report says."

Oh, and we waterboard people and incarcerate them without trial. Time to vote Democratic and return to something approaching accountability.

Updated again Conservatives show their lack of character. And this time, it does not surprise. Lynne Cheney has always been shrill and indefensible.
Shakespeare's Sister
In the past couple of days, Lynne Cheney has directed this question at Wolf Blitzer and Bill O’Reilly has directed it at David Letterman, two good little soldiers who have in their debate arsenals nothing but rejoinders issued straight from GOP Talking Points Headquarters. Any attempt to point out the question is ludicrous on its face is met with some variation on what O’Reilly lobbed back at Letterman: “It’s an easy question.” To his credit, Letterman didn’t back down, but instead replied, “It's not easy for me because I'm thoughtful.”

Amen, brother.

I despair that patriotism and pragmatism have become mutually exclusive. Before that “easy” question can be answered by anyone with two brain cells still knocking together, a few other question have to be answered, like What is the definition of winning? and Can we win it? and If so, how are we going to? You know, the kind of questions that certain people resistant to the hypnotic combination of flag-waving and fear-mongering were asking before the war, people who were dismissed as unpatriotic cuckoos. To continue to question whether a person with legitimate questions and concerns wants to win is to obfuscate the frustrating reality that those other questions still have not been answered, three years on.

Oh, and we waterboard people and incarcerate them without trial. Time to vote Democratic and return to something approaching accountability.

Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: The GOP Vs Freedom: "'"'I am a Republican and have traditionally voted that way,' Tony Schuler, an operations services manager at Microsoft with a Harvard M.B.A., said as he sat with his wife, Deanna, in their home above Lake Sammamish. But Mr. Schuler abhors what he sees as a new Republican habit of meddling in private affairs. 'The Schiavo case. Tapping people without a warrant. Whether or not people are gay,' he said. 'Let people be free! It’s not government's job to interfere with those things.'" - from the New York Times today.

American freedom and Bush-Rove Republicanism are increasingly at odds. Don't let them intimidate you. If you're a conservative who actually values the constitutional freedoms these people are stripping away, vote Democrat or abstain. If today's GOP wins, they will take it as vindication for their authoritarian streak. And the path we have already embarked upon will only get darker."
Oh, and we waterboard people and incarcerate them without trial. Time to vote Democratic and return to something approaching accountability.

2006 top Albums--part one--Calexico

I stole this idea from another blog, but it seems cool. I hope to count down to the end of the year with my favorite albums from this year. As there are still albums yet unreleased, I am posting those I know made the list at first, but not in any particular order.

Number one for me is Calexico's Garden Ruin.

I first heard them play a few songs with Wilco at ACL but really only knew them for a lot of horns and TexMex sound. I know, I know, they collaborated on Iron and Wine's In the Reins but I didn't find that album till this year.

Garden Ruin hooked me from the first listen. "Cruel" is an amazing song as are many on this album. Give it a listen if you haven't already.

October 28, 2006

We detain reporters with no charges

Bush has turned us into our enemies.

Kuo is right again

Kuo asks where Christian leaders are now that Rush Limbaugh has been so hateful to someone with Parkinsons. Where is the White House? Where are the so-called Christians? As he notes, the same ones who loved to bash Rosie O'Donnell when she badmouthed evangelical Christians are now silent.

Power is all that matters to these people.

Update. Of course, Dobson cozying up to Coulter is yet another example. Not only has Dobson not chided Rush, he embraces Ann "Kill them all" Coulter!

CS Lewis quote

From Wasp Jerky in the comments and just too good to leave there:
"As C.S. Lewis once wrote, 'Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling sport, and back-biting, the pleasures of power, or hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.'

He couldn't have been describing Dobson and Coulter more if he'd tried."

Dobson endorses Coulter--can we all agree he is not a godly man?

I don't like James Dobson, that is no mystery. I think most christians see him as this kindly doctor instead of the political king maker who, as we find out--from him--admires Ann Coulter:
"In perhaps reaching a new low, Dobson's guest on his Focus on the Family radio program on Oct. 23-24 was conservative commentator Ann Coulter. In her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Coulter attacks Democrats for being anti-religion and for faking religious faith.

When Dobson asked her about the title of the book and its attack on liberals, Coulter responded, "They are the opposition party to God." However, Coulter does not appear to be a member or regular attender of any church.
Ah who cares. Dobson certainly doesn't. He just hates liberals. Just like Anny the nut. And this is the same woman who mocked women who lost their husbands on 9-11, remember. Just like Jesus would do.
Despite these problems, Dobson not only gave Coulter two days of his show but also lavished her with praise throughout the interview. He encouraged her to come on the show again and expressed his "hope" that she would be a guest on the show many times "through the years."

"It is obvious why you drive the liberals absolutely crazy, and it's fun watching you do it," he told her. "You are a good lady. … And I appreciate what you're trying to do."
Both evidently had great fun mocking John Kerry's faith, military service, etc., because you know, Dobson models Jesus.

Ah, but my favorite is this. If anything, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Dobson to correct the nutjob.
Near the end of the interview, Coulter dismissed concerns about how prisoners are treated at Guantanamo Bay. She argued that the idea that one should "shower [your enemies] with kindness" is merely "a liberal idea that will not die."
Sigh. Evidently it is a "liberal" idea to treat your enemies with love. Jesus said something about that, I believe, but neither the good Czar Dobson or the hatefilled bitch can be bothered to acknowledge that.

Make no mistake about it. If these two are the face of Christianity, I want nothing of it. No moral person does. As a good friend of mine said about someone defending Coulter, "that is all you need to know about that person."

October 27, 2006

Hey! you can't just detain someone because you want to

I wish this were funny. As the WAPO tells us Bush is lobbying Vietnam to release an American citizen they have detained without charges. "Some Bush administration officials suggest that the Vietnamese government may have evidence against Foshee, but they fault its failure to bring formal charges."

See, wouldn't it be nice for America to be outraged here? Wouldn't it be nice if we could chide VN on violating this person's civil liberties and pound our moral pulpit with authority?

Instead, the President and Vice President appear to tell other countries to act better than they do. Unbelievable.

Who supports our troops?

Hat tip to Marty for this. How is it again that Republicans get to claim they are the pro-military party when they cut benefits and medical support for the people who actually fight?

UPDATED - Viral Ad: Support our Troops

Friday morning rant

Well, a lot of things bug me.

Item one. NBC and other networks have refused to air ads about the new Dixie Chick documentary. Ironic, since the documentary explores issues of free speech. But the networks are worried that it is disparaging to our president. Sigh. They could kill a movie critical of Reagan; run swiftboating ads that disparaged Kerry, and the lying 9-11 movie attacking Clinton, but dare not criticize Bush?

Item two. Still haven't heard anything from conservatives about this attack on Michael J. Fox. No doubt, btw, that stem cell research is controversial and deserves discussion. This is not a slam dunk issue either way, but I am very afraid that much of the antagonism to this research is not based in any knowledge, but has been stoked by anti-abortion people. That aside, however, Rush Limbaugh's attack on Fox is unseemly and really unbelievable. If compassion is still in any ways associated with conservatism, then Rush should be confronted with this. Disagree with Fox's political stance (though he ran another ad a few years back for a Republican on the same issue) but don't attack his disease. As I noted to a friend the other day, one of the signs that the Republican party is being run by the nuts is the stature afforded to people like Rush and Sean Hannity. When Democrats rush to Michael Moore anytime they want to get the word out, then perhaps the "well, the other side is the same" can be argued.

Item three. Bush did it again with the signing statements. Congress (republican controlled congress) added a requirement for a 5 year experience level to run FEMA. Bush signed it into law, then added a signing statement that said he would ignore that. I really don't care about this particular law that much--Bush will find a way to hire an idiot whatever the requirements--but the fundamental challenge to our system is what bothers me. Do conservatives really think that a Hillary Clinton wouldn't look at those widening powers and think, "hey, why not?" That appears to be one of the major differences between me and my conservative colleagues. I would distrust a liberal president with those despotic powers as well.

Item four. Just a reminder. We torture and our Vice President makes light of waterboarding people, refering to it as "dunking people in water" instead of wrapping their face in celophane and giving them the sensation of drowning. Oh, and we prosecuted Japanese after WW2 for waterboarding and called it torture then. Must be different when we do it. And if that doesn't give you the dry heaves, note that countries like Jordan are now justifying their own torture because we do it. If that doesn't make you sick, then I wonder about our country.

On torture, conservatives still defend it with the ticking time bomb argument. If so and so knows where the bomb is, wouldn't you torture him? That ignores that most of the people run through our little gulag of horrors are not actually in possession of that information. The metaphor I am playing with is that we certainly make room for a police officer to use deadly force, but he is responsible for ensuring that it was a justified shoot. Under the Bush model, he would be able to shoot anyone who looked dangerous, there would be no oversight challenge, and there would be no way to actually charge the officer, or for the family of the victim to sue him in court.

October 26, 2006

If you are continually wrong, we will stop listening to you

Crooks and Liars : Bill Maher Smacks Around Some NeoCons: "Maher: And finally, new rule in two parts: (A) You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid; and (B) If you're someone from one of these think tanks that dreamed up the Iraq War and who predicted that we'd be greeted as liberators, and that we wouldn't need a lot of troops, and that Iraqi oil would pay for the war, that the WMD's would be found, that the looting wasn't problematic, that the mission was accomplished, that the insurgency was in its last throes, that things would get better after the people voted, after the government was formed, after we got Saddam, after we got his kids, after we got Zarqawi, and that whole bloody mess wouldn't turn into a civil war, you have to stop making predictions."
This is the warning to evangelicals who keep telling me that Bush is some kind of "Godly man." At a point, you lose credibility on any kind of moral issue.

Let's recap

Don't read Glenn Greenwald's take on Dick Cheney unless you have a strong stomach. Realizing that our VP jokes with idiot Republicans about waterboarding people when we prosecuted Japanese in WW2 for the very same tactic is disheartening.

Oh, and don't forget that other countries are now modeling their torture treatment on US and giving themselves permission to do more, not less.

Watching Bill Maher last night and was reminded that conservatives (those who defend torture) ALL treat the issue as if all of these people have a ticking time bomb under New York City. That is the only way they can approach this moral issue. But they refuse to address the actual moral environment they have created--one where a President can snap up an American citizen as enemy combatant and also determine how to define torture. One where those detainees can be waterboarded, forced to suffer fake burials and hypothermia, whether they are innocent or guilty. And how will we know?

It is a sickening, disheartening thing. We have become the Soviet Union and conservatives are clapping. Back to Greenwald and our Veep:
Hennen [talk show host and "interviewer"] and Cheney also shared their affection for waterboarding. Hennen told Cheney: "I've had people call and say, please, let the Vice President know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves American lives" and Hennen asked: "Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" In reply to the latter question, Cheney replied: "It's a no-brainer for me" -- a statement understood, reasonably, to be the first open acknowledgement by a senior Bush official that we use waterboarding -- and Cheney agreed with Hennen that the torture debate "seems a little silly given the threat we face."

These are our leaders. This is what they have done to us.

October 25, 2006

Stay the Course?

Thanks to Anglican for sending this link. You wouldn't think we would have to do this. Reminds me of when Reagan would give different answers to the same question before and after a short car ride.
Hmm. Sometimes I wonder if the Bush people really think we are all idiots. Perhaps they have forgotten the Casey Stengel phrase, "you can look it up."

October 24, 2006

Colbert and Kuo revisited

Ubub sent this to me the other day on Colbert:
"One who did appear, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), discovered the pitfalls when Colbert asked him about a bill he co-sponsored requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed in the U.S. Capitol.

'What are the Ten Commandments?' Colbert asked matter-of-factly.

'What are all of them?' Westmoreland said, taken aback. 'You want me to name them all?'

The June segment showed Westmoreland struggling to name just three. Westmoreland actually named seven, said his press secretary, Brian Robinson. And the remaining ones, he added, were somewhat obscure.

A Bible Belt conservative, the embarrassed Westmoreland has been trying to live down his Commandments performance. No Republican has appeared since.

Negative phone calls from around the country poured in to Westmoreland's office, mostly from liberals charging hypocrisy, Robinson said. Several clips of the segment are posted on the YouTube website, and Westmoreland's Democratic opponent, Mike McGraw, put the video on his campaign website."
Westmoreland's press secretary sounds like a Mel Brooks sketch: "The Lord our God has given us 10 Commandments. Well actually 7, the other three are pretty obscure."


Thinking more about the Kuo book and have a couple of questions that I will never get to ask the author. He talks about Ashcroft early in the book, but then never addresses the man as AG. What happened to the guy who opposed forcing his faith on others?

Second, no mention of Abramoff. Not one. As close as he was to Rove's office, and since Abramoff used Ralph Reed and other religious conservatives, it seems conceivable to me that he saw some of this.

US now a model for torture?

Can't say we didn't tell you so on this one. Just let that sink in, though. We are now a model--a leader in encouraging other countries to torture detainees. And why wouldn't they? If we torture, who is there left to criticize it as a super power? China won't. It is enough to make you cry.
Reuters AlertNet - Governments say they follow U.S. on jail treatment:
"UNITED NATIONS, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Some countries try to refute criticism over their treatment of prisoners by saying they are only following the U.S. example on handling terror suspects, a U.N. human rights expert said on Monday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. investigator on torture, told a news conference that "all too frequently" governments respond to criticism about their jails by saying they handled detainees the same way the United States did.

"The United States has been the pioneer of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world," Nowak said. "Today, other governments are kind of saying, 'But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing.'"

He said nations like Jordan tell him, "We are collaborating with the United States so it can't be wrong if it is also done by the United States.""

Glenn Greenwald has more on American values under our Godly President and how we have become more like our enemies:
"In other words, by studying the torture methods used by America's enemies -- those uncivilized, evil regimes and groups we are always hearing about -- we learned how to torture people and then decided to copy their torture techniques. As always, the "rationale" of the Bush administration is that in order to defend our values and culture from the evil forces seeking to destroy us, we have to become as much like them as possible and copy their behavior.

It seems virtually certain that the entire top level of the Bush administration was fully aware of the techniques being used at Guantanamo. They took frequent trips to Gunatanamo and met with Gen. Miller. One particular trip that MSNBC learned about took place in October, 2002, when various key Bush administration lawyers -- including Alberto Gonzales, David Addington and John Yoo -- visited Guantanamo. That was the same group which, just a couple of months before that trip, had created the now infamous "torture memo" authored by Yoo in August, 2002, which sought to both re-define and justify the administration's use of torture.

I am not entirely unsympathetic to the defense that in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, military and intelligence officials would be tempted to use unusually aggressive, even extreme, interrogation methods on the person who was likely intended to be the 20th hijacker. That isn't a defense of those methods, but it makes its use more understandable.

But that isn't what happened here. These extreme and vile techniques became standard operating procedure for how we interrogate detainees. Far worse, five years after September 11, the U.S. Congress -- right out in the open -- voted expressly to authorize the use of most if not all of these techniques and empower the President to use them at will. Put another way, our country, after five years of distance from 9/11 and after much debate and deliberation, decided to enshrine this behavior as legally authorized and reflective of our new national values."


October 23, 2006


Finished the book tonight. Will have to think about it a little more. Melissa Rogers has a nice post on the numerous problems with the Bush White House use of Faith Based Programs in political terms, and the sheer political cynicism of such use. I agree with her that this is a deeply troubling program.

For me, I think that there is much about this book that bothers me. I still find Kuo rather naive about people. He still talks about Bush's great faith and dedication after describing a situation where Bush himself decided to lie about how much new money was spent on faith programs. Kuo also speaks highly of Karl Rove even though when Kuo wrote his first public criticism of the administration, his supposed former friend from the White House sent a veiled threat mentioning that he knew about Kuo's wife sending out a prayer request to a small group. I don't know about you, but I would find that troubling and very hard to justify with a supposed friend. Likewise, he is far too kind to James Dobson even though he exposes much of Dobson's political machinations and self-agrandizing attitude.

The one guy he seems to truly dislike is Jerry Falwell. Kuo relates that during the post 9-11 service at the National Cathedral--that's right the service at the National Cathedral, Falwell was cracking jokes about Barbara Bush. Evidently, Jerry heard that Kuo was fond of comparing him to the stately and serious Bill Graham, and sent an angry fax to Rove demanding an apology. Kuo was forced to apologize, as Falwell told him it never happened. Too bad Kuo isn't as clear-eyed about the rest of this crew.


I really have been thinking about our political tone. My political tone. I know I have been shrill lately. I feel a certain justification, mind you, but I have been shrill. Everytime I think of moderation, I see something like this: Rush Limbaugh attacks Michael J. Fox: "he was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all." and I get a little angry. Sigh.

But as I noted, I have been reading Kuo's book. I don't read many of these. In fact, I have purporsefully avoided many. I don't want to be more angry. I don't want to be more despondent. But I decided to read this one.

Reading about his own political maturation during the Clinton administration, I have a lot of sympathy. The book reminds me of how the Lewinsky scandal effected us. I have downplayed that in my mind, because in the aftermath of torture and two failed wars, oral sex in the White House seems pretty trivial. And it did for me then too, but not quite. Reading this reminds me that I was a hesitant Gore follower in 2000. I voted Democratic, but it was tepid. I was more incensed at the post election proclamations by Pat Robertson than I was anything leading up. Oh yeah, I wasn't fond of the "Jesus is my favorite philosopher" and I was deeply skeptical of Cheney (man, I had no idea!), but I was lukewarm on Lieberman and Gore. And, to be fair, I was not terribly distraught when Bush won. I thought it was time for a change and that the narrow margin would force Bush to govern from the middle. How wrong I was.

But all of that is to say that I really understand why people voted for Bush in 2000. I too assumed he would do some positive things with faith based programs even as I questioned the constitutionality of such efforts. I didn't think they were the solution, but I ultimately assumed that some good would come out of it. Again, how wrong could I be?

I will be angry between now and the election. If the Democrats don't win a house, i will be inconsolable. I know that. I feel it in every fiber of my being that Bush needs to be checked and balanced. I know that accountability is important for our system.

But for tonight, I will try to find compassion.

Our system

Flawed as it is, is a pretty good one. We value checks and balances as well as the peaceful transition of power. With that in mind, this from former President Bush is not good:
"Earlier this month, the elder Bush was reported to have told the audience at a Republican fundraiser in a Philadelphia suburb that 'if we have some of these wild Democrats in charge of these [congressional] committees, it will be a ghastly thing for our country.

'He was also quoted as saying, 'I would hate to think . . . what my son's life would be like' if their Republican Party lost its majorities."

I hate to be obvious, but the system should be able to allow the opposite party to have some control. If Bush is in trouble because the opposition gets power, then what does that say about the system, or how Bush has played within that system? Rove decided in 2000 that ruling from the middle was unnecessary and that he could alienate the left and middle and appease the base.

Something about reaping the whirlwind. I can only hope.

I love knots

I always loved learning to tie knots. My oldest brother did a lot of rock climbing and taught me a couple, and my father showed me several that I still use today, especially the bowline. Here is a great knot site with animations to show you how to tie them correctly. Very cool!

Oh, George

I am usually amazed at how quickly the Bush White House can completely switch their spin. When Clinton was in office, they called this "waffling"(hat tip to Darryl at Upper Left). When asked about the two approaches to the Iraq war, George responds with this little gem:
"'We've never been 'stay the course,' George!'"
And the sad thing is that this type of spin has historically be effective for them. They switched their defense of the war several times. During the campaign, Bush hammered Kerry for suggesting that he wanted to reform Social Security with private accounts, then made it the halmark of his second term. Hard to take their moral foundation seriously when they lie all the time.


More on Kuo. Several interesting nuggets including the idea that John Ashcroft was far more moderate before he had Presidential aspirations. He is the guy pushing back at Dobson and others who want to fully incorporate converstion efforts in the faith based money. He is the guy respecting other beliefs. Not sure where that guy went.

Kuo also relates leaving Ashcroft's office to work full time on his charity. Dan Quayle put him in touch with several high powered donors who could help. Only one donated money. At first, Kuo thought it was his own lack of stature, and then suspected that they really didn't like Quayle that much. But he realized that they weren't interested in anti-poverty efforts. "Had I called with a proposal for a new political organization that took on the Clintons, funding would have been lavish. That wasn't speculation; it is what donors told me."

And on Bush himself--the one who now is saying that he never asserted "stay the course"--Kuo writes of meeting him in 98. He notes how concerned the man was about the poor. He also notes how Bush recognized that the South Carolina primary (obviously in 2000) cost him a lot of credibility. His early speeches emphasized addressing social ills and social justice. Kuo clearly believes that Bush was earnest about it. I hope he has some kind of explanation for where that went, because it is hard to see in an administration that values tax cuts over even military families.

More later.

October 22, 2006

Jesus, they have no scruples

Watching the World Series tonight while I cook. I was stunned when Eminem sang the opening song. I guess misogyny is no barrier to the prime time. Then I was reminded that Kenny Rodgers (the pitcher) has been in several scrapes over the years and is a complete asshole.

But all of that was prelude to the gigantic sell-out of John Mellencamp singing his "song" "this is our country" at the World Fucking Series. That's right, the same exact song he sold to Chevy. I think this is called being a whore. Selling out to a company that would dare to commodify Rosa Park's civil rights stance, MLK's dream, or 9-11. Shame. Shame on all of them.

And I was thinking of writing a nice post about the need for civility. Sorry, that will have to wait.

I am telling you, that ad with Jesus on the cross is forthcoming. It is all for sale.


Sunday reflections

As we head toward this midterm election, I hate how divided we are. But I also cannot believe that with everything this administration has done from signing statements to torture and habeas corpus--the election is anything but a done deal. The American people seem to have an unbelievable tolerance for incompetence--as long as most of the people effected aren't them. That discussion came up in our comments a few weeks ago--when I was asked if Bush's policies have effected me personally. I don't think that is really the proper question.

Speaking of that, the situation in Iraq continues to discourage me. According to the reports I am hearing and reading, the Iraqi government is so weak that local people are turning to militias for protection. And not to say "we told you so" but many people warned that sectarian violence was a real risk. But our President expressed as late as 2003 an ignorance of the differences between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Paul Wolfowitz once said that Iraq would be easier than Kosovo because it lacked any religious factionalism. Sigh.


That Chevy ad is still galling. Amazing that a corporation can use Rosa Parks and 9-11 to sell pickups. Everything still for sale. One good thing is that some younger people agreed with me that it was appalling. That made me feel a little better.


I bought David Kuo's book on Friday and am working my way through it. He relates exactly what I had feared, that "Christian" in his circles became synonamous with Republican. "I learned that Christians were absolutely pro-capitalism and that meant taxes were bad and always needed to be cut."

He also quotes from the Screwtape letters a great little line where the demon uncle has advice on how to derail a Christian: "Let him begin by treating patriotism...as a part of his religion." Zounds.

Also interesting how deeply critical his compassionate christian colleagues were of any Christians who made nice with Clinton. Not only did they, of course, think that Clinton might be evil, but they feared that Christians could easily be coopted by power. When Republicans took over in 94, they swore that would not happen to them.


October 21, 2006

Still like that tax cut?

Hat tip to Nathan for this story about military families in food lines:
"These families are among a growing number of military households in San Diego County that regularly rely on donated food."
But at least the President keeps your taxes low. That is something, right?

October 20, 2006

Some Colbert goodness for your Friday

First, an older clip where Colbert interviews a southern congressman who cosponsors a bill mandating the Ten Commandments be displayed in court buildings. One of the funnier moments in Colbert history, and also proof that the Republican party may be scoring well on the Christianese meter, but perhaps not checking on the IQ.

Second, from last night's show, Colbert finally gets John Hall to sing with him (toward the end of the clip). Charming, and yet another thing that Colbert does well.

John Hall Harmonizes With Stephen Colbert

Ruh Roh

ABC News: Judge Orders Cheney Visitor Logs Opened:
A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.
We might find out who visits the dark lord.

October 19, 2006

Unbelievable. Seriously. Unbelievable.

But then again, I guess now that habeas corpus and the Geneva Conventions are optional niceties, why should free speech be any different? BTW, let me reiterate that this kind of stuff used to drive the conservatives batshit crazy. Hard to do that now, since the term "free speech zone" was so commonplace on the Bush campaign trail, and the Preacher in Chief barred anyone who disagreed with him from attending his own tax-payer paid campaign events.

Tell you what. When conservatives figure out what they stand for, maybe they can tell me. Because it sure as hell isn't a fear of encroaching centralized government.

University Bans Humor Quotation From Student's Door -- 10/19/2006:
"(CNSNews.com) - Officials at Marquette University have ordered a Ph.D. student to remove a quotation critical of the federal government from his office door, because the hallway the door faces is not a "free speech zone."

In August, Stuart Distler, a doctoral student teacher, posted a quotation from humor columnist Dave Barry on his office door. "As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless," the sign stated. "I refer, of course, to the federal government."

On Sept. 5, Philosophy Department Chairman James South informed Distler via email that the sign had been taken down because it was "patently offensive."

"While I'm a strong supporter of academic freedom," South wrote, "I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.' If material is patently offensive and has no obvious academic import or university sanction, I have little choice but to take note.""

Who Will Protect Us From Him?, Sojourners Magazine/November 2006

Jim Wallis on the flawed theology of George W. Bush:
"A God who warns us not to trust in military might and who judges the rich and powerful most of all, and a Savior who challenges his disciples not just to see the log in their adversary’s eye but also the one in their own—all this seems quite foreign to the faith of George W. Bush. I don’t doubt his personal faith, but Bush’s bad theology (they are evil and we are good) is the foundation for his bad foreign policy and reveals an alarming lack of capacity for self-examination. The fact that he is president and (unlike Lincoln) believes that God is on his side poses a real threat to the safety of our children and the peace of the world."

Speaking of our president's faith, he is in Pennsylvania today (I think) campaigning (that part I know) for a Representative that had to admit to cheating on his wife, but claims that he didn't choke her. Lovely. Party of family values strikes again. Reminder, I know democrats cheat on their spouses. I am aware. I don't vote for them to quote the Bible. I vote for them to represent the people's interests in a legal and ethical manner.

But I digress. Remember how Kuo admitted putting coded Christianese in speeches? Little blurbs meant really for the faithful. This one
seems a little more overt:
""Mr. Sherwood has certainly admitted to what has gone on, and the president also believes that we're all sinners; we all seek forgiveness," Snow said."

Is that code? Or just more bullshit. I love how Republicans go to the "forgive the sinner" mode when it is their own people. There was absolutely no forgiveness for Bill Clinton, as our good Mob boss James Dobson reiterated not that long ago.

We are proudly liberal

A liberal manifesto. Some key quotes:
We believe that the state of Israel has the fundamental right to exist, free of military assault, within secure borders close to those of 1967, and that the U.S. government has a special responsibility toward achieving a lasting Middle East peace. But the Bush administration has defaulted. It has failed to pursue a steady and constructive course. It has discouraged the prospects for an honorable Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It has encouraged Israel's disproportionate attacks in Lebanon after the Hezbollah incursions, resulting in vast destruction of civilian life and property.


The misapplication of military power also imperils American freedom at home. The president claims authority, as commander in chief, to throw American citizens into military prison for years on end without any hearing, civil or military, that would allow them to confront the charges against them. He claims the power to wiretap Americans' conversations without warrants, in direct violation of congressional commands. These usurpations presage what are likely to be even more drastic measures if another attack takes place on American soil.

At the same time, the president is unconstitutionally seizing power on other fronts. He seeks to liberate himself from the rule of law by issuing hundreds of "signing statements" asserting, with unprecedented sweep and aggressiveness, his right to ignore congressional control. Such contempt for the people's representatives verges on monarchical pretension.


We reaffirm the great principle of liberalism: that every citizen is entitled by right to the elementary means to a good life. We believe passionately that societies should afford their citizens equal treatment under the law -- regardless of accidents of birth, race, sex, property, religion, ethnic identification, or sexual disposition. We want to redirect debate to the central questions of concern to ordinary Americans -- their rights to housing, affordable health care, equal opportunity for employment, and fair wages, as well as physical security and a sustainable environment for ourselves and future generations.


This government's failures to respect the process of public reason have generated predictable consequences -- none of them good. The Bush administration has failed to protect its citizens from disaster -- from foreign enemies on September 11, 2001, and from the hurricane and flood that afflicted the Gulf Coast in 2005. It has driven the war in Iraq to an impasse. It is incapable of presenting a plausible strategy to bring our military intervention to a tenable conclusion."

A good apologetic on why we are proud to call ourselves liberal.

Another Olbermann rant

Read the entire special comment here, but this was one of my favorite parts:
"And did it even occur to you once sir — somewhere in amidst those eight separate, gruesome, intentional, terroristic invocations of the horrors of 9/11 — that with only a little further shift in this world we now know — just a touch more repudiation of all of that for which our patriots died —

Did it ever occur to you once, that in just 27 months and two days from now when you leave office, some irresponsible future President and a "competent tribunal" of lackeys would be entitled, by the actions of your own hand, to declare the status of "Unlawful Enemy Combatant" for… and convene a Military Commission to try… not John Walker Lindh, but George Walker Bush?"

October 18, 2006

Ashcroft on the Daily Show

Boy, this does not make the Republicans look good. I don't think I have ever seen a high ranking government official look this bad (except Bush, of course). The most anemic defense of the Bush administration I have seen to date. The former Attorney General--highest ranking law enforcement agent in the country--defended Bush with a weak series of straw man arguments. "We can't protect our country by asking detainees 'pretty please'" or "it would be a sign of weakness to disagree with our President by saying that we won't defend ourselves." No one is saying either, dippy.

I think Jon felt bad for him. Clearly in over his head. And he was AG for 4 years. Now I feel better.

October 17, 2006

The day we killed habeas corpus

And Bush patted himself on the back. Personally, I feel a little ill today. I don't know how America can let this happen. I really don't.

At least I am glad to see that others do feel the same way. Law professor Jonathan Turley had this to say:
"'"People have no idea how significant this is. Really a time of shame this is for the American system.—The strange thing is that we have become sort of constitutional couch potatoes. The Congress just gave the President despotic powers and you could hear the yawn across the country as people turned to Dancing With the Stars. It's otherworldly..People clearly don't realize what a fundamental change it is about who we are as a country. What happened today changed us. And I'm not too sure we're gonna change back anytime soon.""

term "godly man" now meaningless

As if on cue, this from Jesus Politics
Welcome to Ethics Daily.com!: "'"We have every intention of out-praying, out-thinking, out-working, out-serving and out-loving our opponents," Sutton said. "And we will by the grace of God make this a Christian nation."
Shorter Sutton. We will make you Christian whether you like it or not.

And not to be outdone, Gary Bauer suggests that there is a conspiracy by the radical left (can anyone define radical left for me?) to further victimize Christians. You know, since they have only the leadership of the Senate, House, and Presidency. Poor Christians. Powerless and persecuted.
"There's an effort underway by the radical left and big media to suppress the Christian vote this year," said Bauer, chairman of American Values and the Campaign for Working Families. "They believe we are stupid enough to fall for it, and I believe with every fiber of my being you are smarter than all of them."
Dude, if you still support Bush after torture and habeous corpus, then you shouldn't raise the question of intelligence.

My favorite, though is good old Richard Land. Dr. Ethics--the same one who can't be bothered to learn the name of the Iranian president.
"I have had the privilege of knowing our president since 1988," added Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "As Dr. Dobson said, he is not a perfect man. None of us are, but I'm telling you he is a godly man."
Oh, you are telling me he isn't perfect? Gee, I was really hoping for a perfect President. What stupidity! As if perfection is the issue. I certainly would not mind a flawed, but well-intentioned president. I think we have had many.

But if you look the other way while your minions torture others, and you are willing to undo 900 years of western civilization, being "flawed" is not the problem. But if Bush is a "godly man" then what the hell does that even mean?

And then Land played the victimization card again. Poor Georgie. People are so hard on him.
"I have never seen any politician who has been vilified and attacked and savaged the way this president has been vilified and attacked and savaged, and it is unfair," Land said.

Hmm. Falwell sold a video saying that Bill Clinton had killed people and ran a drug ring through Mena, Arkansas. The criticisms aimed at Bush are all about policy. He is an idiot who has blundered us into 2 poorly fought wars, has undermined our constitutional protections, and has turned us from a moral beacon to a nation that emulates the Soviet Union.

More Kuo

Salon has an interview with David Kuo and is worth watching the day pass to read. Here are a couple of snippets.
What they need to understand is that President Bush is a politician, a very good politician. He's the head of the GOP, he's the head of government, but he's not a pastor. I think that this pastoral sense of him that has been perpetuated is preventing Christians from being more critical, objectively critical -- in Jesus' words, "wise as a serpent." And I also think that it contributes to this sense of political seduction by Christians. When you get to the point where when I mention Jesus people think they know my politics, that I'm pro-life and anti-gay and pro-Iraq war, as opposed to identifying Jesus as someone who will bring life and has good news, I think that's troubling.
Two important points, one that seeing Bush as a pastor figure means that Christians see him differently and don't apply the same critical approach to him, and two that Bushco has successfully turned a connection to Jesus into a certain political stance--something Tony has tried very hard to address without much luck.
One of the things that I write is that George W. Bush's religious orientation was probably among the most closely managed aspects of his public persona. It may be one of the most important things that, from the 2000 campaign on, people have managed.
In other interviews, Kuo talked about putting specific religiously coded messages into speeches.
Anybody in politics who goes after the evangelical vote, I think, has a measure of spiritual accountability, especially when you invoke the name of God. Invoking God's name to get anything can be a very dangerous thing spiritually. So, yes, I do think that I have responsibility, and I think one of the reasons to speak out, to write, is to confront that, to say to others: I know of what I speak.
There should be accountability for people invoking God. It stuns me how little Christians seem to think of that. Some idiot like Tom DeLay can invoke God and no one quibbles. Crooks, liars and worse, all drape themselves in Christianity. Christianity, it seems, has become the last refuge of scoundrels.

How do you think the Christian right will respond to your book?

It's rather extraordinary. I saw one evangelical political leader [Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council] say that no one will touch me now, which I found just an amazing phrasing. That's the way the lepers were treated in Jesus' time, and what Jesus was known for was going to the lepers: [Jesus wanted] to be where the sickest, most hurt people [were]. It's amazing to me that someone in politics would say that anyone, anywhere, would become untouchable. That is extraordinary to me, and sad confirmation, frankly, of the political seduction that Christians are going through. I think that's true of the Christian political leadership class, but my hope is that the tens of millions of people out there who aren't controlled by these particular people will see this, read this, hear about this and think, "Wow. You know what? Maybe I need to rethink this. Maybe this makes some sense." And frankly, that's why I say we need to have this fast from politics, which I think is absolutely vital.
That is what our good friend PM Prescott refers to as the "moral mafia" and was just part of what struck me about the 60 minutes interview. Growing up, we raised sheep, and so I have a real affinity for the image of Jesus the shepherd. Jesus leaving the flock to find the one lost sheep was one of my favorite stories. Yet, here, we have the conservative Christian leadership essentially saying that this person who dares speak against them should be cast out. Not saved. Not rescued. Not cared for. Cast out.

October 16, 2006

Everything is for sale

And shame on John Mellencamp for an ad featuring Rosa Parks to sell a pickup!

I keep telling people that all is for sale, but they say, no, it is fine. Just an ad, they say. Just an ad that takes an historic protest and turns it into just another marketing tool. Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King--all good to sell one thing or another. Nothing is sacred, therefor it is all for sale.

We shouldn't be surprised. For all the reverence aimed at our flag, no one blinks when it is used to sell everything from mattresses to used cars. Capitalism triumphs all.

That is why I want to make an ad, but know that it would be taken wrong. It would be read as anti-Christian when it would instead critique capitalism. Then again, those two have merged so much that it might do both.

In this ad, Jesus on the cross pushes a pain reliever to make crucifixion more palatable. Japanese Internees sell sanitizing gel to make life in the camps more managable. Holocaust victims use the latest anti-depressant to make the death camps more tolerable.

Tasteless? Hell yes. Offensive? Hell yes. Just as I feel when a heartfelt song is sold to sell diapers or a civil rights leader turned into a shill for a two-ton pickup.

David Kuo on 60 Minutes

If you want to see the video, Crooks and Liars has the goodness and the transcript of the interview as well.

I see critics everywhere with Judas references, implying, as Les did (sorry, Les) that anyone who is making money criticizing the President is suspect. Follow the money, they say, and I kind of agree. After all, money is a great temptor.

But I ask the critics to actually look at the bigger picture. Kuo is just saying what we already know. Bushco have played evangelical fears of gay marriage and abortion to encourage them to vote against their economic interest (for some). They trot those issues out every voting cycle, but have done little. Have they pumped money into faith based programs? Have they fundamentally altered America's approach to poverty and crime?

No. They have not. Kuo simply reflects what every critic has said--that Bushco is intensely political and nothing more.

October 15, 2006

Kuo on 60 minutes: maybe White house not all wrong

Watched Kuo and must say that he seemed pretty convincing to me. Not someone with a political angle as much as someone who really believed in these people.

I did chuckle, however, when he mentioned that the White House referred to Pat Robertson as "insane," Jerry Falwell as "impossible" (not sure about that one) and James Dobson as "needs handling." When he called Robertson "insane" SOF and I kind of nodded, "well, yeah."

Of course, that wasn't what they were telling the faithful. And another thing about your religious leaders. Just watch them get out of their limos in their tailored suits to meet with people in power and tell me that Jesus would do that. Tell me that Jesus would drive past the poor in Washington to meet with the well-heeled? These assholes do that every day, because they are CELEBRITIES, not Christian leaders.

And speaking of that. Kuo spoke of how he followed Bush because of what he offered to do on poverty. I can respect that faith, though it is hard for anyone objectively to suggest to me that the poor are better off with Bush.

At the end of the day, I am convinced, though I was all along, that Bush and his people used the faithful to get political votes. I have known that for a long time. I think many of us have. Kuo provides confirmation that hymn phrases were inserted as code language to appeal to evangelicals while not upsetting mainstream conservatives. We saw that and noted it. Kuo confirmed it.

And at the end of the day, many conservatives can be forgiven for following this man who promised to use the power of the federal government to fight poverty and crime in a way that encouraged faith. What is less forgiving are those who continue to follow these people when there is no proof of actual fruit.

Excellent timing

After my disheartening post below, I read my friend Anglican's excellent post on "a rule of life." Much needed and appreciated.

Dobson, others not shocked by Bush White House Machiavelian approach

Because they share it. Bush's cynical manipulation isn't shocking to them because they emulate it. They do it all the time. When a racist like Tony Perkins can lecture anyone on morality, we are all the fool. When a braying ass like James Dobson can claim that God is on his side to cheering crowds, then our Republican is diminished. Our faith is undermined.

I certainly feel like an idiot. I really thought that conservative evangelicals would wake up. I thought it when no WMD were found. I really thought it when allegations of torture came out. And, bless me for my naivete, I thought some of them would wake up when a true believer noted that Bush was using them cynically.

All wrong. They didn't even blink at the WMD issue and made the transition to an alternative justification for the war almost before the Prez did. Worst of all, they never even hesitated at torture. The best of them just look the other way and pretend that it doesn't happen--that our country doesn't torture. The worst of conservative evangelicals cheer on the torture and justify it by focussing on the evil of the terrorists--or the golden rule turned on its head.

And that is still an amazing fact--all the conservative evangelicals who have told me that it is hard to feel compassion for someone who wishes them harm. All without irony. All without even a notion that the Jesus they claim called on them to love their enemy.

As for this latest, they simply attack the messenger--immediately. I should have expected nothing else from the likes of Dobson and others who have attacked their own colleagues for daring to address global warming or other, non-Dobson approved issues. When these people pass out the coolaid, it isn't a choice.

I see now that conservative evangelicals are so in bed with this President and his Mob version of Republican politics that nothing will dissuade them. Torture, Katrina, Iraq, Iran, N. Korea, habeus corpus, signing statments--if those don't raise an alarm bell, then NOTHING WILL.

Read below. I don't know if I can any longer. See how Tony Perkins, or James Dobson's political hand, emulates Tony Soprano. These people are something. That something is not anything close to Christian, but they are something.
Conservatives Rally Against Bush Aide-Turned-Critic - washingtonpost.com: "James Dobson, Charles W. Colson and other stalwarts of the conservative Christian movement defended the Bush administration and questioned the timing of the book's publication, a month before the midterm elections. Some suggested that Kuo had betrayed the White House.

'I feel sorry for him, because once you do something like this, you get your 15 minutes in the spotlight, but then after that nobody will touch you,' said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Christian advocacy group in Washington. 'These kiss-and-tell books do more damage to the author than to the people they attack.'"

October 14, 2006

Maybe Kansas not so wrong

The Johnson County Sun is going to endorse almost all Democrats this fall. Why?
"The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.
You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.
To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.
What does to-the-right mean?
It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.
It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.
It means anti-stem cell research.
It means ridiculing global warming.
It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.
It means immigrant bashing. I'm talking about the viciousness.
It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.
It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.
It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education.
Note, I did not say it means 'anti-abortion,' because I do not find that position repugnant, at all. I respect that position.
But everything else adds up to priorities that have nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.
That's why, in the absence of so-called traditional Republican candidates, the choice comes down to right-wing Republicans or conservative Democrats.
And now you know why we have been forced to move left."

I could certainly add to that list, but this is a start. The Republican party (as it is today) has pulled off the most amazing feat I have ever seen. It has pursued the most immoral policies (both politics and policy) and gotten the religious conservative leaders to endorse them. Amazing.

And, as I noted in the comments, evangelicals need to figure this stuff out. If they can't speak on torture, then what? If they can't discern the duplicity of Bush and Rove, then I am going to listen to them on innerrancy or any complicated Biblical theology? If they have no problem with interning American citizens without habeous review, I will listen to them on abortion or homosexuality?

Nope. In September of 04, I wrote that Bush was terrible for evangelicals. Rereading that blog, I think I nailed it, and if anything, was too easy on Bush. But that was 4 years in, rather than 6. Who would have thought that Bush would use signing statements to elude his own laws? Or undo habeous? But the charge for conservative evangelicals remains. Your credibility remains in shambles.

October 13, 2006

Why do I hold out hope?

With all due respect to Tony, evangelicals are hopeless. I had two conversations today with conservative evangelicals about the arguments in Kuo's book. Both simply ignored it. One told me, after several emails, that he had never heard any arguments like this.

6 years in and this is the state of the evangelical mind. Scandal doesn't come close to a right description. Even Les wrote that he would read Kuo's book with hyper skepticism. Great. Had we a modicum of skepticism back when Bush was selling this whole snake-oil concoction, we might not be in this mess. But now, we will employ a critical mind. Fantastic, be critical. But don't forget that Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, John Dilulio (before the horses head in his bed) and Rand Beers all said the same thing.

For Bushco, everything is political. Everything is political. Iraq, Afghanistan, abortion, prayer, the American flag, homosexuality, American security. They are all political weapons. And if you don't believe me, just revisit how Max Cleland was treated in Georgia. Or how Tammy Duckworth has been treated by her ass of an opponent.

And these are all related to the evangelical mind. Or lack thereof. Facts are irrelevant. Proof of evolution? Nope, we will ignore. Proof that Bush sees evangelicals like Dobson and Mohler as giant voting blocks with "I'm with stupid" painted on them? Nope, will ignore. Proof that an actual veteran speaks out against the war while sniveling cowards dare to demean her service? Ignore.

So the next time an evangelical tries to convince me of, well, anything, I think I will pass. Their judgment is, well, let's just say, compromised.

October 12, 2006

Oh, isn't that sweet?

I guess the SBC isn't aware of David Kuo's book that notes that Bush and his people mock evangelicals behind their back. But Streak, they prayed together! Well, then, that makes them legit.

Bush thanks Southern Baptists for prayer in meeting with Page, Chapman at White House - (BP): "Page said he told the president that Southern Baptists feel strongly connected to him “because of our soul connection, because we believe we have a man [in the White House] who knows Christ and is not afraid to talk” about his Christian faith.

“He seemed delighted to hear that,” Page said. "

Delighted. Of course he is delighted. That means that some of the faithful still buy this guy as a good Christian.


On The Homefront: Tell Congress to Support Wounded Troops: "TBI - the signature wound of the war in Iraq. TBI can cause dizziness, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, memory loss, and even severe brain damage. But in the midst of war, Congress has planned to cut in half the funding for the leading research and treatment center for TBI."

Tempting Faith indeed

Melissa Rogers has this blurb about Kuo's book:
"What he saw made him realize that his Christian values -- and those of millions of Americans -- were in danger of being corrupted by politics. Religious organizations were being manipulated cynically, for political purposes, and rewarded through financial shenanigans. Certain religious leaders were so hooked on politics that they were routinely canvassed by the White House to vet judicial appointments and horse-trade on policy positions, regardless of moral content. Tempting Faith is both a headline-making expose and a heartfelt plea for religious leaders to take a hiatus from politics."

She also notes (as Mary told me this morning) that Kuo will be on 60 minutes this Sunday and on Morning Edition next Tuesday. This is a potentially explosive book, but like I said earlier, we have known about this since Dilulio quit the Faith Based office. Will evangelicals listen to this critic?

October 11, 2006

this isn't news for most of us

But a few of James Dobson's listeners might be interested to know that Karl Rove's office refers to them as "the nuts." I am really trying hard not to say "I told you so."
Crooks and Liars : Olbermann Exclusive: Dissecting new Book: Tempting Faith: "A White House which routinely speaks of the nation's most famous evangelical leaders behind their backs, with contempt and derision.

Furthermore, Faith-Based Initiatives were not only stiffed on one public promise after another by Mr. Bush — the office itself was eventually forced to answer a higher calling: Electing Republican politicians.

Kuo's bottom line: the Bush White House is playing millions of American Christians for suckers.

According to Kuo, Karl Rove's office referred to evangelical leaders as 'the nuts.'

Kuo says, 'National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy.' "'"

Amazon.com: Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction: Books: David Kuo


New study suggests that mortality rate has doubled in Iraq after invasion

This new study believes that 655,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the invasion, and further estimates that 600,000 of them have died violently. This study used statistical sampling (as I understand it) and could be way off. But those around the issue (who aren't Bushies) think it is close. The study measures the mortality rate and has it well over twice pre-invasion Iraq.

As Glenn Greenwald notes, and as Stephen Colbert remarked, "facts have a well known liberal bias." This study is far from established fact, but is just another indication that our policy there has been ill conceived to say the least. It will go down as a needlesss historical tragedy, and set our relationships with the Middle East back 100 years or more. Not only did Bush sell the war on false pretenses, he and Rummy decided to ignore the Powell Doctrine and tried to fight this one on the cheap, and it should be noted, rob from Peter (Afghanistan) to pay Paul (Iraq) and then rob from the military families and national treasury to, well, not pay Paul.

It is very possible that this war was doomed from the start--that the entire idea of forcing democracy at the point of gun is ridiculous. But it is arguable that once invaded, an overwhelming force could have immediately improved the lives of Iraqi citizens and stopped the insurgency from forming, or at least becoming the force it is.

We will never know. But regardless of how you see this new mortality study, Iraq is not better off than it was. The UN estimates that torture is worse in Iraq now than under Saddam. Iraqi citizens in huge numbers want America out and distrust our motives.

I wonder if my hardcore Bush supporting friends and family will ever concede that this presidency has been a HUGE mistake? Iraq is a mess; Afghanistan headed back to Taliban rule; the president using the constitution as kleenex; civil liberties up for political points; and our own ability to take care of the American people severely weakened. Our army is in shambles and our military families the only ones asked to sacrifice for this mess.

Time to vote Democratic, if only for this election cycle. Time for some semblance of accountability.

October 10, 2006

Just a reminder--our government tortures

Glen Greenwald is still pissed about the Padilla issue, and I agree with him. This is utterly amazing--that we have a government who asserts the right to detain American citizens without legal counsel or habeus review AND that so many Americans look at that and give their assent.

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: The Bush administration's torture of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla: "To this day, I have trouble believing that we have a Government that claims this power against American citizens and has exercised that power and aggressively defended it -- and even more trouble believing that there are so many blindly loyal followers of that government who defend that conduct. The outrage that it provokes when thinking about it has not diminished even a small amount and does not diminish no matter how many times one reads, writes or speaks about it. It is as profound a betrayal of the most core American political principles as one can fathom.

The Bush administration finally charged Padilla with a crime (after 3 1/2 years of detention) only because the U.S. Supreme Court was set to rule on the legality of their treatment of Padilla, and indicting Padilla enabled the administration to argue that his case was now 'moot.' The Government's indictment made no mention of the central allegation they originally trumpted to justify his lawless incarceration -- that he was a 'Dirty Bomber' (because the 'evidence' for that accusation was itself procured by torture and therefore unusable) -- but instead contained only the vaguest terrorism allegations. Since then, the federal judge presiding over Padilla's case (in the Southern District of Florida)has repeatedly expressed skepticism over the Government's case against him and has, on several times, admonished them to provide more inforamtion."
By all means, we should be vigorous in our effort to stop terrorist attacks. But Bush and his minions are undoing our basic American freedoms. And Bush supporters are letting him.

October 9, 2006

Celebrity Christians

I actually like many celebrities. At least in the superficial way that I can. I like Neil Young and Paul Newman. I like Bono. I like the actor Chris Cooper and Sam Watterston.

But I don't look to them for much beyond what they do. They are celebrities. They might be talented and funny, but that is it.

I have noted here that celebrity is part of the allure and corruption that harms our media. No doubt Cronkite was also famous, but the media today is filled with people who are famous because they look and sound like journalists, even if they have no journalistic training. They are famous people who make a lot of money off speaking engagements. Probably too much to expect them to actually act as true investigative journalists.

Well, Tony (in my recent comment on voting Democrat) noted that he was particularly annoyed with the "celebrity Christians" like Falwell who are the first asked by the Press about anything. When he compares Hilary Clinton to Lucifer, most of Christendom winced, but those are the problems of this culture. And while conservative Christians would like to present themselves as different, they are, in fact, even more so. They are as incapable of challenging James Dobson's authority as is a 13 year old girl challenging her friend's adoration of Britney Spears (or whoever succeeded her).

Witness Stephen Baldwin of the famed Baldwin brothers. Now that he is a Christian, he has used his fame to present his theology. Unfortunately:
"Now Baldwin has released a memoir, 'The Unusual Suspect,' a reference to the one critically acclaimed film for which he's known. The book, the 'Gospel according to Stevie B.,' is part testimonial and part evangelical manifesto, a cocktail of anti-intellectualism and a biblical interpretation that would have Jesus spinning in his grave, had he stayed there. Baldwin preaches that free will is a lie of Satan -- we must shut off our brains, he says, and be led by what God tells our hearts. Furthermore, he writes, efforts to end global poverty and violence are just the sort of 'stupid arrogance' that incur God's wrath, which we'll be feeling any day now in the coming apocalypse. I suppose when the star of 'Bio-Dome' is advising the president and converting kids by the thousands to his gnarly brand of faith, the end is, indeed, nigh.

'The Unusual Suspect' features an open letter to Bono, lambasting him for lobbying for debt relief for developing countries instead of preaching the gospel on MTV. Bono must be in league with Satan, whom Baldwin spends a lot of time thinking about. 'I am smart enough to know that Satan is alive and well today,' he writes. 'Satan has all kinds of power, and he is able to control the minds of anyone whose mind isn't controlled by God.' Baldwin's theology -- and criticism of secularists and Christian poseurs like Bono -- is written with remarkable confidence for someone who can only recite six of the Ten Commandments and four of the Twelve Apostles."

I promised some funny

I started reading John Hodgman's
The Areas of My Expertise: Books and it is truly funny. A couple of examples:

While discussing options for determining time if you don't have a watch (besides paying a Time Peddler, duh):
Using only the stones and twigs around you, it will take you exactly 120 minutes to construct a working sundial.

In another section, he discusses "Jokes that have never produced laughter" all of which he warns, should never be told. But one is actually funny. At least to me.
A duck goes into a pharmacy. He says to the pharmacist, "I need some ointment for my beak. It is very chapped." The pharmacist says, "We have nothing for ducks here."

I am sure I will have more later. His section on the Mall of America is priceless.

Here is John Hodgman On The Daily Show presenting his book.

Monday morning

Item one. James Dobson's political machine released a statement condemning the responce to the Foley matter. Dobson is outraged, OUTRAGED that liberals connect this scandal to evangelical Christians. He says that this is a sex scandal by a closet homosexual (hint, it is just about the gays) and refuses to connect it to the Republican leadership that he has been in bed with (hah) for the last 10 years. He repeats Drudge's lie that the page scandal was only a prank by young boys and completely undermines his own credibility. Oops. What credibility?

Well, for millions of Americans, Dobson is the man. Unfortunately. Even though he staffed his political wing with a man (Tony Perkins) who did business with David Duke. Political business. Buying mailing lists from the Klan. Isn't that sweet?


I really get annoyed at how the Republican party waves the military banner in my face. They love to support the troops and use any dissent by liberals to suggest that a) we are unamerican, b) that we hate the troops, and c) that we are unamerican. Yet, while the Republicans insist on permanent tax cuts, they are dangerously underfunding the Army:
" The Iraq war has left the United States military in critical condition, stretched beyond its limits in manpower and equipment and in danger of "breaking," a retired U.S. Army general said here today.
"The United States Army is stumbling toward the edge of a cliff. It’s starting to unravel," said Gen. Barry McCaffrey, speaking at a homeland defense symposium.

"It has about $61 billion in equipment shortages. It has a $50 billion shortfall in the vital equipment and parts you need to run a war," said the former commander in chief of the U.S. Southern Command and former drug czar under President Bill Clinton."

But we need permanent tax cuts, Streak. Without them, how will the GOP continue to buy off the middle class voter? And we are still pro-military. Our military families are the backbone of our proud tradition. And that is why we will make them the only ones asked to sacrifice for this horrible war:
"WASHINGTON — Army officials have told base commanders to prepare for even deeper cuts in family support programs and other non-war-related expenses next fiscal year.

In June, the Army announced cuts in base discretionary spending and other non-war expenses to offset unexpected costs associated with military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even after Congress approved supplemental military funding in response, service officials said they would continue to curb spending." [h/t Marty]
Next time you see a Republican with a "We support the troops" ribbon, ask them why the troops are underfunded and under supplied.

October 8, 2006

Glenn Greenwald says it best

Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Does the Foley scandal prove the existence of a God?: "In that regard, this scandal is like the Cliffs' Notes version of a more complicated treatise on how the Bush movement operates. Every one of their corrupt attributes is vividly on display here:

The absolute refusal ever to admit error. The desperate clinging to power above all else. The efforts to cloud what are clear matters of wrongdoing with irrelevant sideshows. And the parade of dishonest and just plainly inane demonization efforts to hide and distract from their wrongdoing: hence, the pages are manipulative sex vixens; a shadowy gay cabal is to blame; the real criminals are those who exposed the conduct, not those who engaged in it; liberals created the whole scandal; George Soros funded the whole thing; a Democratic Congressman did something wrong 23 years ago; one of the pages IM'd with Foley as a 'hoax', and on and on. There has been a virtual carousel -- as there always is -- of one pathetic, desperate attempt after the next to deflect blame and demonize those who are pointing out the wrongdoing. This is what they always do, on every issue. The difference here is that everyone can see it, and so nothing is working."


My post on why I think people have to vote democratic this election if they want accountability drew some comments, and I hope it continues. I especially hope Les will come back and elaborate on his explanation of our electoral process and philosophy of government.

I made it clear that I don't expect people to switch parties, simply vote for accountability this round. Next election, they are free to go back--though they are expected to demand that the Repubs do better than Tom Delay and George Bush.

But here is where things will get difficult. My prediction is that people will actually hold some future Democratic leadership accountable at a level that would have stopped GWB from doing much of anything. They will pounce on every percieved and real sin. The media will be rigorous in their investigation of Pelosi and Reid, and call them on every stupid thing they say or do.

As a result, religious conservatives will believe that Democrats are slimier than Tom Delay only because they and others dared to hold them accountable.

NY Times at Starbucks

Two headlines while SOF waited for her latte.

Item one. Rumsfeld has so broken the Army that they are forced to beg directly for money. He won't do it for them, because he wants further cuts in high tech weapons. But the Army is badly damaged by his mangling of the military.
Rumsfeld Shift Lets Army Seek Larger Budget - New York Times: "But Mr. Rumsfeld is requiring the Army to make its own case. The defense secretary has broken Pentagon precedent by allowing the Army to make its financial case directly to the president’s Office of Management and Budget, a task normally managed by the defense secretary and his staff rather than by the individual military services. The Air Force and the Navy also asked to present their budgets directly to the budget agency and the requests were granted."
Remind me how he keeps his job again? Oh right, because if he didn't, Prez Bush might have to admit that he has mismanaged two wars.

Item two. The times notes that Religious organizations have eluded federal regulation in areas where the state has a compelling interest. Like daycare centers. The private ones can expect spot inspections, but the church ones (at least in Alabama, do not. They don't have to follow civil rights laws, etc. Read on and remind me how much religion is under attack again?

An analysis by The New York Times of laws passed since 1989 shows that more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents were tucked into Congressional legislation, covering topics ranging from pensions to immigration to land use. New breaks have also been provided by a host of pivotal court decisions at the state and federal level, and by numerous rule changes in almost every department and agency of the executive branch.

The special breaks amount to “a sort of religious affirmative action program,” said John Witte Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the Emory University law school.

October 7, 2006

More proof, in case we needed it, that Dobson is a twit

Media Matters - Echoing Drudge and Savage, Dobson and Henninger claimed Foley scandal is "sort of a joke" and a "prank[ ]" by pages

Well, in the religious right world view, the only facts that matter are those you decide are valid. I wonder if Dobson had to remodel his home to account for his giant ego.

Have to vote Democrat!

I have a humor post coming later, I promise, but first this.

EJ Dionne's column highlights the problem of right wing hypocrisy. Moral and family values are more than campaign slogans and those right wingers who now look to blame people other than Mark Foley and the Republican leadership should be ashamed of themselves.

Accountability. As The Anonymous Liberal points out, Republicans made it the hallmark of their 1994 Contract with America--that they would restore accountability. Anyone who thinks that Republicans have accomplished that probably need a reality check.

As I see it, Republicans have two choices. You can either reform your own party--meaning that you actually call your reps and senators when they do stupid and illegal stuff AND stop the President from undoing 900 hears of civilization


You vote Democrat during this election. Not forever. And not without reservations. But we have to have some level of accountability in this system or it no longer works. Bush cannot have carte blanche to ignore laws as he sees fit. Bush cannot bamboozle the American people into two failed wars and then blame Democrats. Even my republican friends and family have to see that.

I would be more than happy to see you reform your own party. But you know that you promise to reform it and then never do, and who ends up walking the dog? er., or cleaning up Congress? We do. We do.

No, until you can prove that you can hold your leaders accountable, you are going to have to vote Democratic. Not because they are more moral. Far from it. Let me guarantee one thing. Democratic leaders will screw up. They will sexually harrass people. They will sleep with someone they shouldn't. They will date hookers and strippers. They will take advantage of the system to line their own pockets, and they will abuse their power.

That seems to be what separates me from my religious right colleagues. I know that people are vulnerable to the lure of power and corruption. I know they are flawed. I know that they are not there because God tapped them on the shoulder and tells them how to vote, but that they are there for a mix of motivations--some good and altruistic, some self-centered and proud.

That is why we have to hold them accountable too. And if you had held Delay, Hastert, Bush and Cheney accountable, we wouldn't need to have this talk.

Vote Democrat. Then maybe, just maybe, we can get back to arguing about how best to govern under our Constitutional government. Not with fear-mongering and gay-bashing. But about how to use government to make this country a better place.

October 6, 2006

On The Homefront

I posted a link to Marty's blog before, but think it is worth reiterating. Her son is serving in Iraq. This war, which is part theory and parlor argument for so many of us, is deeply personal to her.

Read her blog.

Politics and money

Had a funny moment yesterday. My friend Mary told me about the local candidate running against our Representative Cole. Cole, as far as I can tell, has been a proxy vote for Bush--whatever the Prez wants, Cole will give him. Torture, wiretapping, etc. Hal Spake is the candidate.

Pretty much exhausted, I went to the grocery yesterday to plan for dinner. While listening to a report on NPR in the parking lot, I noticed a blue pickup with a Democratic bumper sticker and a "Hal Spake for Congress" bumper sticker. As my story ended, and I headed into the store, I saw the truck's owner. I said, "like your bumper stickers" and he said, "thanks, I am Hal Spake and I am running for Congress."

We had a nice talk, and he gave me some yard signs.

Our political situation is not good.
  • Bush routinely ignores laws he signs;
  • the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are going horribly--not that Bush will admit that.
  • Bush's war on terror is creating more terrorists than we can fight.
  • Bush and his Republican cronies think that Habeus Corpus is a luxury we can't afford any longer. Why would they care? They are not the ones facing imprisonment as enemy combatants.
  • Bush now accuses Democrats of cowardice and cutting and running. How this man looks himself in the mirror is beyond me.

    One of the people Bush charges as a "cut and run" democrat can't run because she lost both her legs fighting in Iraq. We can do something about this. Go give Tammy Duckworth or Hal Spake some financial assistance. That is what I am doing today. I am trying to put some money where my mouth is.
  • Why do we have a congress, again?

    Since Bush thinks he knows better and wants to be king:
    "President Bush, again defying Congress, says he has the power to edit the Homeland Security Department’s reports about whether it obeys privacy rules while handling background checks, ID cards and watchlists.
    In the law Bush signed Wednesday, Congress stated no one but the privacy officer could alter, delay or prohibit the mandatory annual report on Homeland Security department activities that affect privacy, including complaints.
    But Bush, in a signing statement attached to the agency’s 2007 spending bill, said he will interpret that section “in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch."

    October 5, 2006

    Appropriate lyrics

    If you don't listen to Centro-Matic then you should. Great band, even if they are from Texas!

    For some reason the lyrics from Flashes And Cables struck a chord:
    "nobody told us that the bastards were here
    all the rogues and the scoundrels are shedding their tears
    no, nobody told us that the cameras were here"

    Bush has turned us into what we fought

    Joseph Margulies - 'The More Subtle Kind of Torment' - washingtonpost.com: "After the war North Korean atrocities were roundly condemned by the United States, which complained to the United Nations that the Koreans had not complied with the Geneva Conventions. One institution, however, was not repelled but intrigued. The experience led the CIA to accelerate its research into the theory and science of coercive interrogation."

    Isn't that nice. Bush has us in the company of North Korea.

    All I can say is, "sigh"

    But read the entire column.

    Congress' shameful retreat from American values | Chicago Tribune
    : "I got some insight last week into who supports torture when I went down to Dallas to speak at Highland Park Methodist Church. It was spooky. I walked in, was met by two burly security men with walkie-talkies, and within 10 minutes was told by three people that this was the Bushes' church and that it would be better if I didn't talk about politics. I was there on a book tour for 'Homegrown Democrat,' but they thought it better if I didn't mention it. So I tried to make light of it: I told the audience, 'I don't need to talk politics. I have no need even to be interested in politics--I'm a citizen, I have plenty of money and my grandsons are at least 12 years away from being eligible for military service.' And the audience applauded! Those were their sentiments exactly. We've got ours, and who cares?

    The Methodists of Dallas can be fairly sure that none of them will be snatched off the streets, flown to Guantanamo Bay, stripped naked, forced to stand for 48 hours in a freezing room with deafening noise. So why should they worry? It's only the Jews who are in danger, and the homosexuals and gypsies. The Christians are doing fine. If you can't trust a Methodist with absolute power to arrest people and not have to say why, then whom can you trust?"