November 30, 2006

Hanging with Alejandro (Escovedo, that is)

In my dreams, anyway. Curious thing about me, is that I often have dreams about me with famous people. I have been on stage with Emmy Lou, talked to Bill and Hillary, and sat down with the Boss. One, rather memorable dream during the Panama war (when wars were still fun) had me chasing Manuel Noriega on a motorcycle.

Last night, I was in a cafe with Alejandro. We sat in a booth and chatted and then he set up to play and I realized I was too close to hear as well as I wanted.

I am sure it means something, but I am damned if I know what. I think it means that I am cool. Very cool. Yeah, that's it.

Snowy Oklahoma

Looking out the back door.

And the front window.

Damn pretty. But also 21 degrees. Brrr.

Snow Day!

And, of course, the dogs wanted to go for a walk! We tried to sway them, and tell them that the temp hovered around 25 degrees and the "snow" was more sleet, but, in the words of Dale Gribble, they were "unswayable."

School is closed. Businesses are closed, and much of Oklahoma has come to a skidding stop. I remember when I first moved south, I mocked people in Texas and Oklahoma for shutting down school with an inch of snow. But then I realized that in Colorado we rarely had ice storms like this. And people drove in it routinely. Tends to make a big difference.

So I reserve my mocking for other things. :)


Speaking of that, I was rather strident yesterday. Chalk it up to a bad day. I should thank Volfan007 for engaging in the last few threads, even though his style of argumentation tends to make me angry. We have had more comments on my blog in the last couple days than the last month. I am not sure how long we can continue this, since arguing with him is akin to bashing your head against a wall. Obviously, I have had and continue to have good conversations with other conservative evangelicals, but Volfie has a particularly frustrating approach--mingling absolutism with selective reading of my and other arguments.

Oh well.


I am going to enjoy the Snow Day. I am making bread and planning on doing some reading and guitar. And a nap.

November 28, 2006

Now who has been saying this all along?--updated

No worries. volfan has told us that this is perfectly acceptable--that Christians need not focus on reducing abortion or poverty or the environment. They only need to attack the gays and call for a ban on abortion. Because reducing abortions is doable. Banning it is much, much harder. Reducing poverty might be doable too--if the moral leadership of the Christian right wasn't as corrupt as their partners, the GOP.

But the good news is that at least some Christians recognize that there is more to the moral agenda than gay bashing.

Christian Coalition pres.-elect leaves - Yahoo! News: "ORLANDO, Fla. - The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America has declined the job, saying the organization wouldn't let him expand its agenda beyond opposing abortion and gay marriage.

The Rev. Joel Hunter, who was scheduled to take over the socially conservative group in January from Roberta Combs, said he had hoped to focus on issues such as poverty and the environment.

'These are issues that Jesus would want us to care about,' said Hunter, a senior pastor at Northland Church in Longwood, Fla."


And if we needed more proof, the same Religious right is already starting its attack on Obama:
Obama's Wooing Of Evangelicals Runs Into Fierce Resistance | TPMCafe: "Obama's efforts are running into fierce resistance. For instance, an open letter from a group of Christian-Right figures — including Phylis Schlafly, Tim Wildmon and others — criticizes the invitiation by citing Obama's pro-choice stance and his support for condom distribution in answer to the AIDS epidemic, "not chaste behavior as directed by the Bible." The letter ends, "No, Mr. Warren, Mr. Obama, we will never work with those can support the murder of babies in the womb.""

See. The religious right can speak up when they care about something. But evidently, they have NO PROBLEM whatsoever working with people who can take an alleged terrorist, fake drown, bury, or freeze them. Those same people could have at least written a letter on torture, right? Or the suspension of habeas corpus? Right?

Yeah, as it turns out, they don't care at all about either of those. Just as they don't care if global warming will impact the poor more than the rich. Those are other people's concerns. Now where are those gay people?

That conservative evangelical voter

Immediately after the recent election, there was some talk that evangelicals had possibly stayed home or perhaps voted against Republicans. With a little distance, we now know that some 70% of white evangelicals voted Republican, making them one of the groups most consistent with their 2004 voting patterns. Other groups saw substantive GOP losses, but not white evangelicals.

I continue to puzzle over this issue. How, I wonder, can evangelicals who emphasize "Biblical values" vote for people who have allowed and even endorsed torture? How can they still support people like Tom Delay when there is ample evidence of his corruption?

Mainstream Baptists points to this insightful essay that may offer the best take on it I have read. Here are a few key paragraphs:
[Conservative columnist Maggie] Gallagher's pithy commentary raises an intriguing question: If the killing fields in Iraq, the Republican Party paying lip service to their agenda, and the GOP's ethics breakdown didn't dissuade the "values voters" from straying from the fold, what ever could cause them to desert the Republican Party?

While he doesn't speak directly to this question, Ken Connor, a Christian conservative leader who has consistently spoken out against this eras ethically-challenged GOP leaders and the evangelicals who support and enable them, lays part of the blame for the GOP's defeat at the doorstep of Christian evangelical leaders: "It is clear that Christian conservative leaders contributed to the Republican defeat, and in the process they've lost credibility," Connor wrote in a post-election commentary titled "Defending the Indefensible: The Road to Defeat."

Connor, the former president of the Family Research Council, who currently heads the Center for a Just Society, wrote that "When Tom DeLay's excesses were exposed, Christian political groups closed ranks to support him. When congressional Republicans put on their phony legislative parade, Christian political leaders were willing accomplices. When the Mark Foley scandal hit, Christian groups faulted everyone but Republican leaders. Why have prominent Christian organizations and leaders behaved in this way? The sad reality is that many have been seduced by the Washington, D.C., political culture. They have identified themselves so closely with persons and parties that they have lost sight of principle. By excusing the behavior of the Republican Party, Christian conservatives set the party up for the 2006 defeat."

Cal Thomas, one of the country's most widely syndicated columnists, maintained in a recent report that intoxication with political power "often dulls the senses to morality and 'values.'" In a story titled "Where do conservative Christians go from here?" Thomas argued that the "unholy alliance between people of faith and politicians ... often ends in compromise on the part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little offered in return." The case of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), who lost his seat to a Democrat, is particular instructive said Thomas. Here is someone who "cheat[ed] on his wife and allegedly abus[ed] his mistress, Cynthia Ore, [yet] he still gets an 85 percent approval rating from the Focus on the Family Action organization. The delicious irony here is that he might have earned a 100 percent rating had he voted for the Marriage Protection amendment, which he supported.""

November 26, 2006

2006 top Albums--part five--Kasey Chambers

I know that this artist tends to evoke strong responses. Either people like her or dislike her. Well, I am obviously in the "like her" camp. We bought Kasey Chambers's new album the Tuesday before heading down to ACL with the full expectation that we would see her live in a few days. She canceled for some reason, but the album was still worth the wait. Not, on the whole, as solid as Wayward Angel, but still quite good. "Colour of a Carnival" and "Sign on the Door" are two very good songs. What can I say? I simply enjoy her voice.

  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part one--Calexico
  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part two--Josh Ritter
  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part three--Centro-Matic
  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part four--Alejandro Escovedo
  • November 25, 2006

    Assorted Saturday musings

    I am not a fan of James Dobson, as everyone knows. I thought this quote from Dick Army was instructive:
    "“Dobson and his gang of thugs are real nasty bullies. I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There’s a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn’t work unless it’s dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they’re easy. There ain’t no thinking.”

    Now we find that Dobson has dropped Ted Haggard and won't be assisting in his "restoration." I can understand this, but here is how this supposed man of God answered a pretty basic question:
    "KING: How's he doing?
    DOBSON: I don't know. I haven't talked to him since it happened."
    That's right. Not only does he not want to be involved in the process he says is Biblical, but he hasn't even talked to his supposed friend to find out how he is doing after Haggard's world came undone. With friends like this.....


    Is it just me or has the recent election completely changed the dynamic about Iraq? Democrats haven't changed how they talk about it, but now Republican after Republican are saying that it is unwinnable and a horribly managed war. That kind of honesty might have been better served a few years ago. But then you had to defend what is clearly Cheney's policies. Or he would shoot you in the face.

    Speaking of Cheney, and I don't have the link handy, but he was evidently not in the know on Rummy's firing and was very upset by it. Daddy Bush's friends coming in means one thing--and that is that Cheney is now on the periphery. Daddy doesn't like Cheney, which makes his choice as VP something out of Freud for Junior. But now, it appears that James Baker might invite Dick to go dove hunting.


    One last thing. Amazing game in Austin yesterday and now, of course, the OU/OSU game has meaning beyond the rivalry. I can't stand Colt McCoy (or any of the Longhorns) but also loathe Texas A&M which seems to offer "applied fascism" as a degree program.

    The hit that took McCoy to the hospital was borderline but within the game. Seemed like the defender used the top of his helmet in that hit, but I can see how those things can happen in the flow of the game. The hit before that, however, when McCoy was taking off his chin strap after throwing his last interception was not within the flow or rules of the game. The A&M defender was ejected, and from my limited perspective, should not be allowed to play football again. At any level.

    the Christian intellectual tradition

    Over at Les's Blog, in a discussion regarding homosexuality, where I was a rare voice suggesting that homosexuality isn't always a sin, one of the commenters suggested that the Bible was simple.

    That is one of my annoyances with the modern conservative church--the intellectual decline. Perhaps I am influenced by Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind but this argument that the "Bible says what it says and means what it says" is damn near a nonstarter. This faith, say what you will, is a complicated and difficult one. Turning it into a simplistic faith has not helped us. Elements might be relatively simple, but overall, it is complex.

    Simple was the way to avoid tradition, training, intellectual rigor, etc. No need for "book learning" and all you needed was a lay preacher who could read the Bible. Wow, that has really served us well, hasn't it? Given us slavery, segregation, anti-feminist rants, capitalism masked as faith, and even a cottage industry eschatology that has spurred a horrible foreign policy.

    Ideas are not everything, nor is intellectualism. I am not suggesting that. But Christian thinkers used to influence more than the faith. They were respected as thinkers by others. CS Lewis comes to mind as the last one I can think of. Christianity has turned to their own versions of Deepak Chopra or insular notions of theology that are never read outside.

    I really think we need Christian thinkers now more than ever. We need people to grapple with global poverty, environmental problems, and the issues of wealth and capitalism. Where are they?

    November 24, 2006

    voting problems

    Yes, there were some, and surprise, surprise, from Katherine Harris' old district come some of the worst. E. J. Dionne Jr. - An Electronic Canary -

    I am still puzzled why conservatives aren't more concerned about this. If elections are stealable, then they are stealable from both sides.

    Talk about Prophetic

    Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Quote for the Day: "'Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them...

    There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'' - Barry Goldwater"

    November 21, 2006

    Bush should not pardon a turkey

    Jon Swift is normally funny, but brilliant when he suggests that Bush should not pardon the Thanksgiving turkey and send a message to the terrorists.
    "Instead of giving a jokey speech full of holiday bromides, he could show up in the Rose Garden this holiday season wielding an axe and after condemning the turkey to death, he could carry out the execution immediately, the way they do in China. Just to be on the safe side, in case the turkey tries to get away, Vice President Cheney could stand on the sidelines with his shotgun to make sure it doesn't get far. Pictures of the President beheading the turkey would be on the front pages of every newspaper in the Middle East and on Al-Jazeera, replacing the usual pictures of terrorists beheading hostages. That would put the fear of God into those who think they can push the United States around."

    Religious credibility

    My religious conservative friends tend to assume (though some will not admit it) that they are slightly more moral than the rest of us. After all, they believe in the Bible as a literal and innerrant guide and so are grounded in principle. I have always struggled with that for multiple reasons.

    First, it seems to me that most innerrantists also interpret the hell out of the scripture--some verses more than others, and actually give credence to some more than others. Prohibitions on homosexuality are taken at face value, while challenges to wealth, violence, war, arrogance etc., are read in a "context." Which is exactly what I do.

    Second, as someone who reads history quite regularly, I am struck by how often our religious conservatives have been on the wrong side of history, or certainly have been very slow to come around. Religious conservatives defended slavery, segregation, women's inequality, anti-poverty efforts, and have opposed environmental movements.

    This came up recently during a discussion over at Les's blog where the subject of homosexuality came up. (Les and Tony continue to be good friends of Streaks Blog even though, and perhaps because we disagree on so many issues. Those disagreements, however, have been respectful and listening to the other side. That is true of this discussion as well, though we disagree.) In the comment field, a Baylor graduate student (Big Daddy Weave) and I tangled with some guy from Tennessee. Now, I don't think BDW and I share the same viewpoint on everything, including homosexuality, but he made a great comment:
    "Baptists have been on the wrong side of most cultural issues. A good family friend once said that the Southern Baptist Convention's stance on homosexuality is reminiscent of its stand on slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Look at what Baptists have had to repent for in recent years - slavery, civil rights, women. Southern Baptists attempted to paint John Kennedy as the boogeyman and were at the forefront of saying a pope would be in the White House if we elected a Catholic to office. Southern Baptists were wrong then and maybe they are wrong now ???"

    At the same time, I read Melissa Rogers where she pointed to this column on religious redibility:
    "For those who have lingering doubts, dust off your Bibles and take a few hours to reacquaint yourself with the teachings of Jesus. You won't find a single reference to homosexuality. There are teachings on money, lust, revenge, divorce, fasting and a thousand other subjects, but there is nothing on homosexuality. Strange, don't you think, if being gay were such a moral threat?

    On the other hand, Jesus spent a lot of time talking about how we should treat others. First, he made clear it is not our role to judge. It is God's. ('Judge not lest you be judged.' Matthew 7:1) And, second, he commanded us to love other people as we love ourselves."

    At the end of the day, I understand (again) that reasonable people will disagree on this subject. While I don't understand the fear that some people have regarding homosexuality, the subject strikes at the heart of a very complex human dynamic. Our psycho-sexual makeup is complicated and confusing.

    But the conservative religious track record is very mixed here. In most cases, they have followed progressives and then often grudgingly. I understand that they believe they are following the Bible and God's leadership on this, but when that same justification was used to oppose MLK and Civil Rights, or was used to oppose equal pay for women, or against environmental regulation--then the process for determining truth has credibility problems. That doesn't mean they are wrong this time, but it does suggest that humility is in order.

    November 20, 2006

    Ok, time for some football--I am done with Jake the Snake

    This will make CIL laugh, since he has been saying this for sometime, but I am done with Jake Plummer. After watching San Diego's comeback last night and watching Jake throw away two late opportunities to either win or tie, I am done. He doesn't have "it," whatever "it" is. He threw a stupid pick, and then allowed a sack and fumble instead of getting rid of the ball. Not only that, but earlier in the game, on a crucial third down, he simply dropped a snap. I am done.

    In other football news, Al Michaels is the most over-rated broadcaster in the media. I am actually amazed at how often supposedly good football broadcaters miss critical plays on the field because they are chatting, and Michaels is one of those. Late last night, San Diego was called for a unsportsman delay of the game. Michaels told us that was a defender holding the offensive player down after a tackle and not letting them get up for the hurryup. Having just seen the play, I knew that wasn't it, but Michaels didn't even bother to notice that the replay showed clearly that the defender kicked the ball away from the ref. Instead, Al repeated his earlier claim.

    I am done with him too.

    "Scumbags who didn't respect the Geneva Conventions"

    That used to be other people, like the North Vietnamese and the former Soviet Union. Here is a former Air Force linguist describing his training in the early 80s:
    "Our trainers were careful to instruct us on the Geneva Conventions and which interrogation techniques were covered and which were illegal. I have a very clear memory of what they said about waterboarding. As I recall, water boarding was classified as torture and was a violation of the Geneva Conventions. They told us about the technique for the simple reason that the North Vietnamese used it on American Forces. They wanted us to know about that technique in case we were ever captured by 'scumbags who didn't respect the Geneva Conventions.' There were no demonstrations; it was considered too traumatic.

    I'm not making this up. The military trainers at our Survival School had nothing but contempt for techniques like this, and we were taught that they were international criminal offenses. We were also warned that there were groups out there who did not respect international law and wouldn't hesitate to use techniques like these to get the information they wanted. "

    This is why I don't take Republicans seriously

    At least the current crop. See Glenn Greenwald's great post on how Mel Martinez (Republican party chair and Florida Senator) has made great noise about how he helped protect a U.S. citizen who was convicted in Vietnam for terrorism against the government (Vietnamese government). Martinez won her release, but made a lot of noise about the fact that Foshee had been "arrested and imprisoned in Vietnam and for the first 14 months of her imprisonment, she was not formally charged nor allowed to seek legal counsel. . ."

    Shocking, just shocking. Martinez, of course, also loves Bush's Military Commissions Act: "Senator Martinez said: “We must remember the detainees this law affects are terrorists engaged in an ongoing war against the United States." Oddly enough, Cuc Foshee (our American Vietnamese terrorist) was extended far more rights by the communists in Vietnam than anyone charged under our own Military Commissions Act. She had a right to a trial, she was allowed access to the U.S. consul, and she was not tortured.

    Get that? The Vietnamese treat their suspected (and in this case, actual) terrorists better than the American government. Under this monstrosity of a law, our detainees could be denied trial, tortured, and refused access to anyone. Yet Martinez can brag about his efforts to get her released AND praise Bush's attack on habeas corpus.

    First item of business for a Democratic House and Senate has to be fixing that law.

    November 19, 2006

    2006 top Albums--part four--Alejandro Escovedo

    Gvien Alejandro's well publicized battle with health issues and near death experience, the release of his first album in numerous years attracted attention. Escovedo is, in my mind, the best singer/songwriter rocker that most Americans have never heard of. I have seen him twice and both times went away impressed with his songwriting and is ability to put together a great set.

    This album is very strong. I enjoy "Arizona" and "Dearhead on the Wall" which are great songs. His "Evita's Lullaby" about his late father is a great example of his craft--weaving cello, guitar and drum all together. Alejandro may be the first rocker I ever saw who traveled with his own cellist, and I love that sound. In fact, he also released an album called Room of Songs as the Alejandro Escovedo String Quartet which has an absolute amazing version of "Baby's got new plans."

    Give his work a listen. This is a good place to start, but he has several strong albums. Gravity has amazing songs like "Broken Bottle," "Pyramid of Tears," "Bury Me" and "I wish I was your mother (cover)." A Man Under the Influence includes some of my favorites including "Castanets," "Rhapsody" and "Across the River." And With These Hands has multiple versions of two songs I consider damn close to perfect: "Put you down" and "Crooked Frame" to say nothing of the wonderful "Pissed off 2 am."

  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part one--Calexico
  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part two--Josh Ritter
  • Streak's Blog: 2006 top Albums--part three--Centro-Matic
  • Class warfare--updated--again

    Americans don't really like to talk about poverty. That is the tragedy of the religious right--in that they seem to ignore the entire Sermon on the Mount and any Biblical critiques of wealth. Poverty becomes a personal failing (if they had ust applied themselves more, worked harder, etc.). When someone tries to talk about poverty, they are accused of "class warfare." Same happens when, as Ezra Klein points out, the wealthy are asked to pay taxes. But the reality is that the poor are growing in number and with reduced power or even attention. They have become the invisible--the often working poor who cannot make ends meet. That is bad enough, but follow this link to see the video of what happens when some of those people dare to protest. I have always loved horses, but their use here is horrible:
    "Among the most darkly grotesquely absurdities of contemporary political life is that class warfare is used to describe marginal tax increases for rich people and calls for mild redistribution to the working class. Here's what it actually means. These are janitors in Houston who make $20 a day with no health insurance. Their labor is physical, the chance for workplace injuries massive, and the desire for better conditions natural. So they struck. And the police came in with horses."
    Here is the Houston Janitor's website. Something about oil companies making record profits and calling out the cops on janitors without health insurance makes me a little queasy this morning.


    More from Ezra. Turns out the original bail on the striking janitors was $888,888 dollars each for people making $20 a day. "By contrast, a Houston man charged with murder had his bail set at $30,000." Tell me this isn't class warfare against people who are already powerless.

    November 17, 2006

    Friday morning fatigue

    I am reminded of how dismissive the Bush administration was during the last election of the Shinseki troop levels when John Kerry raised the issue. I am also reminded of Bush's continual lie--"I listen to the generals." Or let's call it a lie of omission, since he made sure with Rummy that those generals would never ask him for more troops.
    Andrew Sullivan | The Daily Dish: Quote for the Day II: "'General [Eric] Shinseki was right that a greater international force contribution, U.S. force contribution and Iraqi force contribution should have been available immediately after major combat operations,' - General Abizaid, finally contradicting Rumsfeld, under oath."

    Speaking of Bush, Ted Koppel joked the other night that 35 years ago, George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard to keep out of Vietnam. Today, he goes to Vietnam to keep out of Washington. According to one news source from the other day (not being coy, just can't remember which one) Republicans are still so angered about the timing of Rummy's firing that they refused to pass certain legislation that Bush wanted in time for his visit to VN. Perhaps even the true believers in the GOP are starting to recognize what the rest of us knew very early on--Bush is only about himself.

    Anyway, the Bushmeister himself visited VN, and on NPR this morning, we heard the clip of him talking about a poignant moment when he passed the lake where John McCain was pulled out of his downed plane and began his 5 year POW experience. All the while, we should note, GWB was skipping what limited service he had agreed to do in Texas and Alabama. Oh, and Bushy also said that McCain was a "friend of ours." I wonder how many other "friends" have received the Bush/Rove treatment of alleging that they might have fathered an illegitimate black child? I think I would prefer my enemies to friends like W.

    But back to VN. The draft dodger/war President decided that VN offered some lessons for Iraq:
    "'We'll succeed,' Bush added, 'unless we quit.'"
    For some reason, I keep thinking of a bag of hammers.


    Oh, and that pesky "liberal media" keeps messing up. First it jumps all over the Murtha/Hoyer leadership battle and calls the Democrats in disarray. Idiots. Then, on CNN's Headline News (as I have noted before) that idiot twit Glenn Beck gets to spout his hatred unopposed. Here is how he addressed the first Muslim representative:
    : "On the November 14 edition of his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck interviewed Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), who became the first Muslim ever elected to Congress on November 7, and asked Ellison if he could 'have five minutes here where we're just politically incorrect and I play the cards up on the table.' After Ellison agreed, Beck said: 'I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, 'Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' ' Beck added: 'I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.'"

    Yeah. I am not accusing you of being the enemy--but I am.

    For those wondering if the recent election meant anything, here are few items to mull over. First, our President really shows what he thinks of women:
    "'The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as 'demeaning to women.'"

    And for those who see no difference in the Democrats, Shaun points us to Chris Dodd's proposed bill The Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act, which would modify the horrifying Military Commissions Act:
    "· Restores Habeas Corpus protections to detainees
    · Narrows the definition of unlawful enemy combatant to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States who are not lawful combatants
    · Bars information gained through coercion from being introduced as evidence in trials
    · Empowers military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable
    · Authorizes the US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to review decisions by the Military commissions
    · Limits the authority of the President to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions and makes that authority subject to congressional and judicial oversight
    · Provides for expedited judicial review of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to determine the constitutionally of its provisions"
    Couple of great phrases: "effective," "limits" and the precious "oversight."

    November 14, 2006

    With Christmas around the corner

    Here is a really cool list of cool sites where ordinary people might make a difference in someone's life. We have been fans of Heifer International for sometime, but here are a few others.
    A micro-loan is as little as a few hundred dollars invested into a one-person business with minimal qualifications. That tiny borrowed amount can launch a vegetable stand, repair shop, or bicycle taxi -- a living in other words. As each micro-loan is repaid (and most are), the effects of that small goodness are amplified and leveraged by being loaned out and invested again and again. Micro-loans are the world's only perpetual motion machines.

    Military Commissions Act

    Read Glenn Greenwald's take on this:
    "But his trial never took place, because in June, 2003 -- one month before the scheduled trial -- President Bush declared him to be an 'enemy combatant.' As a result, the Justice Department told the court it wanted to turn him over to the U.S. military, and thus asked the court to dismiss the criminal charges against him, and the court did so (the dismissal was 'with prejudice,' meaning he can't be tried ever again on those charges). Thus, right before his trial, the Bush administration simply removed Al-Marri from the jurisdiction of the judicial system -- based solely on the unilateral order of the President -- and thus prevented him from contesting the charges against him."

    November 13, 2006

    Kuo on the fact that 70% white evangelicals still voted Republican

    And he isn't happy about it. He repeats how effective the White House has been portraying Bush as some kind of "Pastor in Chief." He also notes how ridiculous the entire gay bashing agenda is and suggests that evangelicals would be better focused on divorce or poverty.
    FINDING MY RELIGION / Former second-in-command of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives talks about why evangelicals should stay out of politics: "But right now, there is no great concern that evangelicals are about to embrace the poor. Right now, the evangelical priorities are probably best found in what the Family Research Council has listed as its top 10 priorities. The poor are not even mentioned there. The No. 2 issue is defunding the ACLU, and defunding Planned Parenthood is, I think, at No. 6 or 7."

    November 12, 2006

    2006 top Albums--part three--Centro-Matic

    I bought Centro-Matic's Fort Recovery after reading the buzz from other musicians. I had heard some of their songs, and saw one of the band members perform with Slobberbone, but had never purchased an album. The album grew slowly. I loved "Calling Thermatico" from the beginning, but it took a while for the rest of the album to grow on me, and to warm to Will Johnson's voice.

    We caught the band's one hour set at ACL. They had a tough gig--playing a 12:30 set in 90 degree heat. Hard to really excel in that setting, but they did more than fine. It was clearly one of the best sets of the festival. Now the album is in pretty solid rotation and a clear top-ten finisher. Give them a listen.

    A few myths debunked from last Tuesday

    Looking at the exit polls, Kevin Drum takes on a few myths from this week, including the idea that Democrats took much from the white evangelical vote, how the youth vote changed (or didn't) and my favorite, the myth that democrats won by running more conservative candidates.

    November 11, 2006

    Still recovering

    All the blogs I read regularly have experienced the same kind of drop off. After all, some of us have been blogging pretty seriously since about 2003. Nice to be on the winning side for once.

    Much of what has occurred this week is predictable. Some democratic infighting with people like James Carville sniping at Howard Dean. The far right has come unhinged. Rush Limbaugh essentially admitting that he lied about the Republicans, and other right wingers saying that now they will be free to attack the left. Sigh.

    If you need a look at the immoral center of the Republican movement, check out Grover "Drown Government in a Bathtub" Norquist's take on the election:
    "Although some glitz has come off Mr Rove, Republicans have been more eager to blame botched campaigns and individual ethics scandals. “Bob Sherwood’s seat [in Pennsylvania] would have been overwhelmingly ours, if his mistress hadn’t whined about being throttled,” said Mr Norquist. Any lessons from the campaign? “Yes. The lesson should be, don’t throttle mistresses.”"

    These are the Republican morals.

    November 10, 2006

    Democratic wishlist

    I have a few things I would like to see. Some environmental responsibility, reform for No Child Left Behind, and a repeal of the Bush tax cuts. I don't know what we will see.

    But this morning, I realized that I would love to see the Fairness Doctrine restored, or something close. Much of our political divisiveness can be traced back to the cessation of the doctrine. It created the careers of people like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.

    But say that a fairness doctrine is out of the question, how about simply starting to question the media consolidation? That concerns me more than Blubbo talking on radio stations I don't listen to. In fact, media reform should be a talking point of some sort.

    Better start on my letter to Nancy Pelosi....

    November 9, 2006

    He broke the Presidency

    I don't read Maureen Dowd that often, but this one is worth a look:
    "Poppy Bush and James Baker gave Sonny the presidency to play with and he broke it. So now they're taking it back."

    An interesting take on this complicated family. The other day, it appeared that Bush might have truly believed he was going to win on Tuesday, but his subsequent comments suggest that he knew last week that he was going to have to dump Rumsfeld. Stupid politics, though. I think dumping Rummy last month would have saved the senate for them. The might have won New Jersey and Rhode Island and very well won in Virginia. Lots and lots of Republicans went to the polls this time saying, I know it is my party, but these guys are incompetent.

    I wish Rummy had left 4 years ago when something positive might have been done in Iraq. But at least he is leaving.

    November 8, 2006

    Recounts and Florida

    George Allen fights on with the help of Republican hack Ed Gillespie who had this to say:
    "'I think it is very important that we respect the voters of Virginia and count their votes accurately and count them all. We should respect the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia,' he said."
    Count all the votes? Where have I heard that before. Seems like that was Al Gore's call in 2000 and I still hear conservatives calling that sour grapes. But now, Ed Gillespie wants to count them all.

    Fine. And let me say that I don't appreciate Charles Shumer stepping in here and calling Allen to do the "gentlemanly thing." First, the "gentlemanly thing" for George Allen involves stuffing a deer's head in a black family's mailbox. Second, he has a right to call for a recount if he wants. Unlike my Republican colleagues, I believe in the integrity of the election. Make it right. it is worth it to make sure the system has integrity.

    Rummy gone

    I saw it here first but Rumsfeld is stepping down. I can imagine that a lot of Republican candidates out there are wondering why now? Why not a month ago when it might have helped them? In fact, I actually thought the October surprise would be Rumsfeld stepping down and deflating that criticism of the Bush administration.

    Me thinks these people are not nearly as good at the politics as they think.

    Perhaps democracy still works

    I admit a sense of relief this morning. The idea that Republicans could bully their way back into control of the House despite this administration's bungling was just more than I could stand.

    And, despite the robo calling, the Democrats have won 27 seats with the potential to pick up a few more. Tom Delay's former seat is Democratic, as is Tom Foley's. Crazy Curt Weldon lost, as did the mistress strangler, Don Sherwood (republican family values). Rush Limbaugh lost the race for Jim Talent in Missouri (more Republican family values at work) and Rick Santorum (homophobe) lost badly in Pennsylvania. (According to Crooks and Liars, Paul Begala called Limbaugh "a Self-Discredited Drug-Addled Gasbag" which of course brought a defense by Bill Bennett--more family values.) Kenneth Blackwell, and his fundamentalist, homophobic, and Christian Reconstructionist platform were all soundly thrashed. That made me happy.

    Not all went well. Marily Musgrave won in Colorado, and Roskam beat Tammy Duckworth in Illinois. That last one is particularly painful, since Roskam participated in some of the most negative campaigning out there. Now he credits her for her service, but during the campaign, he didn't. In Tennessee, racist ads still worked against Harold Ford, but George Allen may have lost a sure Republican seat in Virginia with his blatant racism.

    We still have numerous problems. At least some of our gain comes only because of sex scandals--the only scandal that our media seems able to cover. And speaking of our media, CNN interviewed Tom Delay this morning who assured us that the Dems would "defund the war on terror." But who invites a disgraced, corrupt, indicted congressman as a pundit?

    But I will take it. The first woman Speaker of the House, and a nation-wide referendum on Bush. We still have a chance to take the Senate. Today, as opposed to my response two years ago, I feel good.

    November 7, 2006

    Election day

    I voted and for the first time in my voting history voted straight-ticket Democrats. I have certainly leaned that way since the first Bush administration, but never saw myself as a straight-ticket voter. But watching the Republicans do robo-calling and other "dirty tricks" clearly aimed to disenfranchise as many people as possible, I cannot stomach them any more. The Democratic party is hardly a prize, but compared to the Republicans they look better and better.

    It isn't that all Republicans are this way--of course that isn't true. That is what makes it so difficult. I know Republicans who do not stand for what Rove and his gang do, but they either are unaware or distracted by the gays marrying burning flags. Either way, it is counter to the basic notions of our democracy.

    Well, off to class and hoping that something turns out right.

    November 6, 2006

    Amazing image

    Politics: Evangelicals vs. the Religious Right - Newsweek National News -

    I haven't had time to read the entire piece, but the cover is spectacular, no?

    More on Ted

    I guess the initial denials are done, and his church removed him from office.

    I have not listened to Haggard much. He has come up in conversations as one of the most powerful evangelicals at the head of a huge church in Colorado Springs (which has become "Jesusland"). I know he reiterated most of the talking points of the religious right--including the oft-invoked "activist judges" and of course the stance opposing gay marriage.

    Now we know that he has been tortured everytime he spoke. I know how it is to speak in front of a group, and I always have this running conversation in the back of my head as I am blathering in front. "Better check that date. That was an over-simplification. Why is she sleeping in class?"

    Imagine the conversation in the back of Ted's head everytime he addressed homosexuality. There is nothing to suggest that he is some kind of Elmer Gantry, so we have to believe he is a true believer. He had to have been completely devastated everytime he visited that man. I can only imagine the prayers to take away that temptation.

    I really feel for the man when I think of how tortured he must feel. And, as others have written, I can only imagine the horror of being taken down this way; gone from national evangelical figure to pariah over a weekend; the impact on his wife and kids.

    What troubles me, besides the hypocrisy from the pulpit, is how the Christian right will respond. On two points. First, as Dobson has already shown, there is no mercy extended to sexual sins, especially gay ones. Second, I assume they will try to "fix him" and make him not gay.

    It is that last part that is most painful. All those gay kids in junior high and high schools struggling with their sexuality--struggling to mask their attractions and knowing that coming out could be painful in more than one way. I read that the suicide rate of gay teens is 2-3 times higher than heterosexuals. If they try to "fix" Ted, it won't help any of those kids, because I don't think you can "fix" that attraction, any more than you can stop a straight man from responding to a lingerie model.

    It seems to me that the Christian right could learn from the Haggard experience. Here is a man devoted to his church, to his God, to his ministry. A man, by all accounts, who tried to love his wife and certainly his kids. If any person on the planet could have prayed this away, don't you think it would have been him? Don't you think he would have given anything to not be gay?

    I don't think our sexuality works that way, and I don't think the conservative church is well served by this. And I think that Ted Haggard is in pain and I feel for him and his kids.

    November 5, 2006

    Sunday night

    With the Sooners pulling one out yesterday and the Broncos today, I will call this a good football weekend. I am starting to hate John Mellencamp at a deep personal level, but still a good football weekend.

    I will be glad when this election is done, though. I am also hating political ads of all stripes, though mostly from the Republican side. Saw one here locally the other night where a candidate's mom was assuring me that she raised her son to rely on his Biblical values to fight corruption. Dude, if you need the Bible to recognize that cheating the public good is wrong, then we ARE in trouble.

    Annoys me. We all know what corruption is. Just as we know it is wrong when Republicans have signs around polling places telling voters that voting for democrats is voting for more terrorism. Spineless weenies.

    But the weekend is still a success. Sierra Nevada Christmas beer is out and it is spectacular as usual. SOF made a fabulous potato soup, and we are girding up for the week ahead. The week to face the failed shell of democracy. :)

    2006 top Albums--part two--Josh Ritter

    This album made the list immediately. I had heard a few Josh Ritter songs over the years but nothing stuck. Then I downloaded "Girl in the War" and thought it might be one of the more beautiful songs ever. Great song in the anti-war folk tradition--but anti-war without cursing at people.
    Are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go"
    But now talkin' to God is Laurel beggin' Hardy for a gun
    I gotta girl in the war, man I wonder what it is we done
    "Thin Blue Flame" is an amazing song as well, though it took a few listens. And not on this album, but if you get a chance to hear his live version of "Golden Age of Radio" (available on Emusic) check it out. Great song.

    Thanks to Youtube, you can watch the video for "Girl in the War" right here at the blog.
    Josh Ritter -

    2006 top Albums--part one--Calexico

    November 4, 2006

    Oklahoma 17--Texas A&M 16

    Holy Crap

    Ted who?

    Press Gaggle by Tony Fratto: "Q This Reverend Haggard out in Colorado, is he someone who is close to the White House? There had been reports that he was on the weekly call with evangelicals. Is that true?

    MR. FRATTO: I'm actually told that that's not true, that he has -- in terms of a weekly call that he has? He had been on a couple of calls, but was not a weekly participant in those calls. I believe he's been to the White House one or two times. I don't want to confine it to a specific number because it would take a while to figure out how many times. But there have been a lot of people who come to the White House, and --

    Q -- when was he at the White House?

    MR. FRATTO: I couldn't tell you specifically. I know that there was a picture of him with the President in one of the TV reports, so obviously he met with the President at some point in time.

    Look, this is a personal issue for someone. It's something that Reverend Haggard needs to deal with, with his family and his church. And I'm not sure that there's any comment beyond that that's necessary."

    November 3, 2006

    I did not inhale?

    I really don't mean to mock Ted Haggard. If the man is gay, then I have compassion for him trying to make sense of that in the middle of a religious organization that can't really make sense of sexuality. And there is much we don't know. But he has confessed to part of it, even though the "confession" has a rather Clintonian spin:
    ABC News: Evangelist Admits Meth, Massage, No Sex: "Evangelist Ted Haggard admitted Friday that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a gay prostitute who claims he was paid for drug-fueled trysts by the outspoken gay marriage opponent.

    Haggard resigned Thursday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and stepped down as leader of his Colorado megachurch while the two groups investigate the allegations.

    Talking to reporters outside his house Friday, Haggard denied the sex allegations but said that he did buy meth from the man because he was curious.

    'I bought it for myself but never used it,' he said. 'I was tempted, but I never used it.'"

    "I threw it away?" What really puzzles me is that the gay prostitute advertises in gay publications, or that is what I read. I don't think he was operating a massage business somewhere and that is how Haggard found him. It isn't difficult to find a legit massage.

    Something doesn't seem right here.

    Sully debates Mohler

    And evidently really respects the man. I have never found him either thoughtful or helpful, and instead have found him to be rather annoying. Perhaps that is more aimed at his attack dog Russell Moore, but I have never found Mohler worht much attention. Sullivan, I think likes him.

    But aside from that, Street Prophets blogged about it and caught this interesting distinction between the two men:
    "Quote from Mohler: 'Faith Development should move not from certainty into doubt but rather from doubt into certainty...Sullivan's Christianity is not defined by scripture and is not seeking certainty."
    That may define the difference between me and many of my conservative friends. I think certainty is the enemy of faith, not the helper. Faith is how we address doubt, not how we remove it.

    Am I wrong?

    November 2, 2006

    Why doesn't Bush apologize to the troops?

    Olbermann deftly recalls Brooks/Sumner when a Southern congressman nearly beat a Northern Senator to death, and his Brooks' constituents responded by sending him more canes. Nice. Got to love the South. And got to love just how cynical Bush and the Republicans are to use a misstep as an attack on the troops. Their entire policy has been an attack on the troops.

    This entire Kerry joke is an amazing testimony to just how bad our press really is. As slacktivist notes reporters spend more time "examining the political effectiveness of Bush's baldly disingenuous claims to be offended on behalf of the 'troops' than they ever will examining the many reasons those troops have to be offended on account of Bush." Remember the WMD "skit?" The one where our President jokes about looking for weapons of mass destruction under his desk while people die in the war he started with that ruse in mind? Or the vaunted "bring it on" which only emboldened the insurgents. Sorry, I forgot. Only liberals can do that. Conservatives have the corner on patriotism and defending the troops.

    Conservatives can undermine our very ability to fight by continuing tax cuts during the "war for our survival" and cutting military benefits and programs for military families. John Boehner criticizes the generals for what is going on in Iraq, and that wasn't even a joke. Where is the outrage? The death rate soars in Iraq, but as Jon Stewart noted wryly last night on the Daily Show, it becomes news when John Kerry mangles a joke.

    As I said in the comments, when a liberal mangles a joke, it becomes proof (as the asshole Glen Beck said on his show before I could switch channels) that Kerry would have made a terrible president. When Bush mangles a sentence, it is called Tuesday.

    November 1, 2006

    A little Alejandro for you

    Escovedo Alejandro - Crooked Frame LYRICS : "I'm glad you didn't stick
    To my fingers like a tremble
    A wasted fortune spent
    On things we never felt inside
    I count the footsteps
    That take me away from you
    Because I stayed too long
    Inside this crooked frame

    I'm glad you didn't spend the night like you had promised
    I'd have to stretch the truth to say that I was sorry
    And now I laugh out loud at things that aren't that funny
    Because I stayed too long inside this crooked frame"


    You both have to realize that this midterm election will drive me nuts. At this point, after torture and habeas, I have no clue how anyone supports Republicans any longer. As I have argued, voting for Republicans in this election only--is a vote for torture and against accountability.

    But my post this morning is spurred by what the Republican party has become. Bush, Cheney, Frist, etc., have all been out on the stumps saying that if you elect Democrats, the terrorists win--implying ever so subtly that Democrats like and support the terrorists. Or just that we are weak and spineless and in the words of Bill Frist, will "surrender to the terrorists." Perhaps the greatest straw man argument I have ever heard.

    I get so tired of it. No matter how Bush undermines our safety and security with his bluster, he never has to answer to that, and then can attack liberals? Why is it always fair game for conservatives to question our loyalty? They have done so since the Civil War, for sure, but certainly since the Cold war began. Liberals are always the ones who have to start every critical statement of government policy with: "I am a good American and love my country."

    In the 80s and 90s, conservatives embraced militia groups who hoped to overthrow our government. How many of them were ever asked to defend such action?


    I am not the only one, of course.
    The Washington Monthly: "FORMER REPUBLICANS....Former Republican John Cole on why he's a former Republican:

    "I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends — but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse. I don’t know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a “terrorist-enabler” than to swing back. I don’t know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the administration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, prescription drugs, etc., are signs of ... liberal media bias."

    That about sums it up. The modern Republican Party — definitely not the party of Dwight Eisenhower or even Ronald Reagan — had full control of the government for a mere four years before they overreached so far that the American public became disgusted by them. It took Democrats 50 years to do that. So, you know, congratulations on that. Apparently pandering to the most extreme elements of the Christian right and selling their soul to K Street turned out to be less popular than they thought. Imagine that."