April 29, 2007

Moral decline?

I am having a conversation with a friend about this. Are we in a moral decline? I hear it everywhere, but I really have no idea what it means. He says that kids are less respectful than they used to be, and he thinks that connects to broader selfishness and such. I think that our constant mantra of moral decline is often clouded in nostalgia and has very little bearing on our current reality.

What do you think?

Bill Moyers

Anglican suggested I watch the entire interview and he was right. It is thoughtful and worth watching. (Or read the transcript here.)

I don't watch Moyers enough. I have always liked him, but there are times when he just depresses me. It isn't that I think he is wrong--on the contrary. I think at times I just can't handle the truth.

I remember learning that Moyers grew up Southern Baptist and, as I recall, actualy was an ordained minister at one time. One of my favorite LBJ stories involves Moyers. LBJ asked him to lead a prayer, and then said loudly, "speak up Bill, I can't hear you." Moyers responded--and summed up my problems with public prayers--"I wasn't talking to you."

His background as Southern Baptist, but adulthood questioning his faith made him the perfect interviewer (for me) of Joseph Campbell. I watched those closely. I also loved his series on Genesis.

Even if I am not strong enough to watch him all the time, he is one of my heroes.

Sunday editorial comics

Justin Bilicki | CARTOONS FOR THE PATRIOT INSIDE OF YOU | justin@bilicki.us

Nick Anderson: Target practice

Tony Auth

Because that is how he rolls

Always nice to see the President stand up for accountability:
"President Bush hopes someone is held responsible for the U.S. military's mishandling of information about the death of former football star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, the White House said Wednesday."

Too bad that need for accountability doesn't extend to him and his cronies.

I am really impressed with Bush's ability to deny and repress reality. In some ways, I wish I could do that. Life would be much easier.

April 28, 2007

Couple of stories that bother me

I noticed that Bill Maher brought up the whole George Bush receiving a Purple Heart from one of the coolaid drinkers. One of his panel asked what would have happened had Bush refused it--wouldn't that bother people. Maher said correctly that all Bush would have to say is "those medals belong to people who serve. I have not served. I appreciate the gesture, but..."

The fact that Bush accepts this medal is proof of his delusion. I am kind of surprised there hasn't been more coverage of that.


Speaking of Bush and delusions, the ultimate delusion that this is some kind of Christian administration is old news to most of us, but some still cling to the image. When I first saw this story over at Moral Contradictions, I thought that it was interesting, but then found out that the Bush appointee who just quit after being caught hiring an escort service was one of their abstinence-only advocates.

Can you imagine this happening under Clinton? I can, and I can also imagine the outcry and the right wing pundits saying that this was a part of the immoral culture that the Clinton's created.


Couple of stories about violence that caught my eye. The first comes from Austin, Texas where some white male left a bomb at an abortion clinic. One of the feminist blogs I read noted that this should be called "terrorism" but probably wouldn't. Or perhaps it shouldn't be, but it would be if the targets were different.

And speaking of that, this story about a militia in Georgia that was stockpiling grenades, a rocket launcher and thousands of rounds of ammo. As this blogger noted, this would also set off a media frenzy if those doing the stockpiling were Muslim. But since they are white, they are, what, second amendment advocates?


And one more item. Crooks and Liars has this clip of Bill Moyer and Jon Stewart talking about fake news and the Gonzales hearings. Stewart argues that Bush wants Gonzales to act like an idiot and embarass himself in front of the entire country--all to protect Bush himself. And he, just like an organized crime boss, rewards that.


Ah, the Religious Right and politics

Tony notes how now Guliani has thrown himself at the feet of Jabba Falwell and trying to pose as a right winger. Will any of this work?

Well, perhaps. The celebrity Christians posing as religious leaders (Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Kennedy, etc.) are far more political than religious. They like being close to power and will try to cultivate that--even if it means two things. 1) bringing the republican party to the laughingstock moment (close, I would say), and 2) finding themselves curiously conflicted on the moral issues they wield as weapons. You know, endorsing torture, defending encroachments on civil liberties, illegal detainments, etc.

And as it turns out, Dobson--the very same one who joked around with Ann Coulter on his radio program--has no sense of humor. Doonesbury had a pretty good strip a few weeks back where they "interview" Dobson about all the divorces on the Republican side and the few from the Democratic candidates. Dobson is asked who actually represents family values, and he responds that the Republicans do, because they oppose gay marriage. Heh.

So how did Dobson respond? After all, he thinks that it is delightful when Ann Coulter mocks liberals, that he has a healthy sense of humor about himself. Wrong. Dobson called out his drones and asked them to berate the papers that carry Doonesbury. So, in other words, Dobson gets a tax exemption to gay bash, but then uses it (as the author of this blog noted) "soothing Dobson's uneasy vanity."

What a tool.

April 27, 2007

Patrick Henry College

An interesting post at Pandagon about the growing college started by Michael Farris. Be warned, this post is rather critical of religious fundamentalism and homeschooling. But read some of the comments and you find some homeschoolers chiming in--pointing out that there are many in the homeschool experience who are very critical of the Reconstructionist and Dominionist theology of Farris.

I have always found Farris questionable, but I am clearly not close to him either theologically or politically.

April 26, 2007

This should make you smile

Paging Orwell--yet again

First there is this lovely piece where Bushco simply changes the numbers to support his assertions:
"U.S. officials who say there has been a dramatic drop in sectarian violence in Iraq since President Bush began sending more American troops into Baghdad aren't counting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians.

Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Bush administration officials have pointed to a dramatic decline in one category of deaths - the bodies dumped daily in Baghdad streets, which officials call sectarian murders - as evidence that the security plan is working. Bush said this week that that number had declined by 50 percent, a number confirmed by statistics compiled by McClatchy Newspapers.

But the number of people killed in explosive attacks is rising, the same statistics show - up from 323 in March, the first full month of the security plan, to 365 through April 24"

Then there is Bill Moyers exposing the lie of the mainstream media. Turns out that the administration leaked the story of the aluminum tubes to the NY Times, which then allowed Dick Cheney to go on Russert's show and point to the NY Times story.

These people are worse than we think. Republicans and Democrats and Independents who voted for this crowd in 2004 still owe the country an apology. Badmouthing Kerry won't cut it. You voted for the worst president in American history. Deal with it.


Bush loyalty--Laura delusional--Cheney translated

This column tells us what we already know--that Bush is incompetent to a criminal level--but reminds us that many who believe this are Republicans.
If you want to hear despair in Washington these days, talk to Republicans. The Democrats are exulting in their newfound political power and are eager to profit from Bush's difficulties. But Republicans voice the bitterness and frustration of people chained to the hull of a sinking ship.

I spoke with a half-dozen prominent GOP operatives this past week, most of them high-level officials in the Reagan and Bush I and Bush II administrations, and I heard the same devastating critique: This White House is isolated and ineffective; the country has stopped listening to President Bush, just as it once tuned out the hapless Jimmy Carter; the president's misplaced sense of personal loyalty is hurting his party and the nation.

"This is the most incompetent White House I've seen since I came to Washington," said one GOP senator. "The White House legislative liaison team is incompetent, pitiful, embarrassing. My colleagues can't even tell you who the White House Senate liaison is. There is rank incompetence throughout the government. It's the weakest Cabinet I've seen." And remember, this is a Republican talking.

A prominent conservative complains: "With this White House, there is loyalty not to an idea, but to a person. When Republicans talked about someone in the Reagan administration being 'loyal,' they didn't mean to Ronald Reagan but to the conservative movement." Bush's stubborn defense of Gonzales offends these Republicans, who see the president defiantly clinging to an official who has lost public confidence, just as he did for too long with former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Yes, what does it say that you stubbornly retain an incompetent official? Let's be clear. Personal loyalty is a tremendous thing. The last thing I would want to see (though we have seen it when others disappointed Bush) is for him to drop Gonzales and then shun him. He could remain personally loyal to Gonzo, but he has a responsibility to us. I think the comparison to Rumsfeld, however, reveals that this has little to do with Gonzales, but everything to do with Bush. He hates criticism and has no capacity to incorporate it. To fire Gonzales is to admit that his assessment of the man was wrong, and Bush hates that more than anyone.

This week I heard a great assessment of Boris Yeltsin's contribution. I had really forgotten much of the man except the drinking and Chechnya. But the NPR segment highlighted Yeltsin's serious attempts to democratize Russia even as one of the observers noted that perhaps he had been so steeped in Soviet doctrine that he didn't know how to govern a democracy (I immediately wondered the same thing about Bush, minus, of course, the Soviet doctrine--though wait a minute, Bush did use former Gulags to interrorgate terrorists). Yeltsin, though, and not that long before his death gave an interview where he admitted all the things he did wrong. He noted the good intentions, but that those failed. He then said that he would always carry the burden of knowing he was wrong in Chechnya--and that he was responsible for those deaths. I wonder if Bush will ever admit to any of the above.

To a certain degree, I feel sorry for Republicans right now. Except that I told you so. Many of us warned you that he wasn't any good--certainly after the first term, but you insisted. Now you are stuck with this man as your leader, and the damage that he is doing to your party--to say nothing of what he is doing to our country. The very gall of the man--forcing us to have a paralyzed Attorney General overseeing our judicial system all because of his ego. Truly amazing. I guess this is what happens when the "cult of the personality" gets overturned.

One last thing--we see yesterday that Laura's insanity is complete. Once thought to be an intelligent voice in the Bush family, she has increasingly turned shrill and irrational. She has gone from urging her husband to replace O'Conner with a strong woman, opposing same sex-marriage amendment to blaming the press for Iraq. Now she assures us that Bush suffers more than anyone:
The first lady was on NBC's Today show mostly to talk about the president's malaria initiative, but at one point Ann Curry showed some video from Iraq and asked Bush, in a hushed, solicitous tone: "You know the American people are suffering, watching --"

The first lady replied: "Oh, I know that, very much. And believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this. And certainly the commander in chief who has asked our military to go into harm's way --"
This from a man who has not attended one fallen soldier's funeral. This from a man who had no comment when the WaPo broke the Walter Reed story. In 2005, he said this:
"'I'd say I'd spend most of my time worrying about right now people losing their life in Iraq. Both Americans and Iraqis,' he said. But then he added: 'You know, I don't worry all that much, other than what I just described to you. I attribute that to . . . I've got peace of mind. A lot of it has to do with my particular faith, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that a lot of people pray for me and Laura . . . I'm sleeping pretty good. Seriously. I get asked that. There's times when I hadn't been. I've got peace of mind.'"

Denial. Has to be.

One more thing. Really. This from later in Froomkin's column is just damn funny.

Blogging in Time, columnist Joe Klein does a hilarious Cheney translation:

Cheney: "Maybe it's a political calculation. Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party."

Translation: "We have never played politics with Iraq. We didn't schedule the initial authorization vote for just before the 2002 elections. We didn't cook the intel. We had nothing to do with the Mission Accomplished banner. The Navy told Bush to put on the flight suit. We didn't ignore the insurgency and spend vast resources on the Iraq Survey Group to look for non-existent WMD. Karl Rove never told Republicans they could use the war for their benefit. We never questioned the patriotism of people who opposed the war. I'm not questioning Harry Reid's patriotism now. And if you can't get that through your thick heads, you stupid, stupid Americans...you stupid Americans impatient with our master plan for VICTORY in the middle east...you...you... well then, as I once explained to Pat Leahy [expletive deleted]."

April 25, 2007

Vonnegut quote--updated

Today's Quote: The Opinion Mill: "For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

“Blessed are the merciful” in a courtroom? “Blessed are the peacemakers” in the Pentagon? Give me a break!"

"I've also been thinking a bit about the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) lately. Familiarity has inured us to the upside-down idealism of this passage, but try to hear it with fresh ears and you realize how backwards it is from, well, everything else we've been taught. Just look at the list of people it says are 'blessed': the poor, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted. That's quite the lucky bunch.

But the bit that's had me thinking lately is the final blessed: 'Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.'

Somehow, the meaning of this passage has been twisted into the idea that fat, complacent and otherwise-indistinct-from-everyone-else blowhards should invent trumped up, bogus claims of persecution so that they can reap the blessings of direct-mail fundraising. (Yes, Bill Donohue, I'm talking to you.)

What was that term St. John used for people who teach the opposite (or 'anti-') of what Jesus (or 'Christ') taught?"

This just in: Chuck Norris is an idiot

Saw this today and cannot let it go without comment. The great thinker/TV Texas Ranger/karate star, to his credit, first acknowledges the heroism of those on the VT campus who responded as they could to the attack. But then, as it seems is unavoidable among conservatives, he blames liberals for the shooting:
"I believe those who wield the baton of the secular progressive agenda bear significant responsibility for the escalation of school shootings. Even conservatives who refuse to speak when evil flourishes must acknowledge some culpability.

Insert boilerplate about teaching evolution means that people don't value life and act like monkeys, and that abortion means that we don't care about life, and of course that we have "pushed God aside" and no longer teach our children to obey the "thou shalt not kill." Because a) Chuck Norris would never glorify violence as a response to anything, and 2) all of those school shooters didn't believe that killing was wrong? I guess that is why the all kill themselves, because they are proud of their actions and don't expect any negative consequences.

But we can't end there. Norris is also a historian--perhaps of the level of Doug and Pat Robertson:
If we are ever to restore civility in our land and our schools, we must turn back the clocks to a time when such shocking crimes didn't even exist – when we valued life and respected one another much more then we do today. We must use the Bible (humanity's blueprint for life and ''bluebook'' for value) to retrain our youth about theirs and others' value as children of God, made in His image.
Yes, because when our country was more moral and more God centered, this kind of thing, according to Norris didn't even happen. I am sure those African Americans who were lynched in the American South by so-called Christians would beg to differ. Or those 19th century backwoodsmen who were taught from birth to "hate Indians." Or those who advocated or tolerated putting kids in coal mines because they were small and cheap.

Got to love that nostalgic world-view.

John v. Jon--Updated

I am heading out the door to work, but wonder who saw Jon Stewart interview John McCain and any thoughts? I thought, first, that the joke about buying Jon a nice IED at that Baghdad market was in very poor taste. I also thought that McCain was very combative and annoying. It seems to me that when you have flipflopped from calling Jerry Falwell a harm to conservatives and then almost bowed down to Jabba to get his blessing--you don't get to be combative about being mocked. Nor do you get to stand by the "straight talk express" crap.

The reason I like Jon Stewart is that he made points for me. He pointed out that criticizing the President was not harming the troops and it was disingenuous for Republicans to say so. He tried to get McCain to agree on that simple point--that the critics are good Americans too, but I guess that kind of talk doesn't go well in the Republican primaries.

Anyone else?

Updated: Crooks and Liars has the video for those interested.

April 24, 2007

There is something perverse about this

But it isn't new. At least to Bush. I know I am harsh on the man today, but as Anglican and I noted over lunch today, the man seems beyond delusional. A real President--especially one who didn't serve in Vietnam--would not accept a Purple Heart from a real soldier. A real president would say, "I appreciate the gesture, but these awards are for real soldiers and those who put their life on the line. I appreciate the support, but no thanks." But not this President. I wonder if really thinks he is a real hero--just as I wonder if he might think he is a hard working everyman who fought his way up the system, as opposed to being a spoiled brat of privilege.

On every turn, he puts forward policy or people completely contradictory to the supposed policy. For an FDA post on reproductive health, he posts a fundamentalist doctor who refused to give birth control to unmarried women and prescribed prayer and Bible reading for pms. For the UN, he nominated someone who thought the UN should be disassembled. For his first nod to overee the 9-11 Commission, he nominated Henry Kissinger. To oversee security information, he nominated John Poindexter, one of those convicted (though overturned on a technicality) for his role in Iran Contra. Hell, I half expected Bush to first pardon, then nominate G. Gordon Liddy to some post like Attorney General or the Supreme Court.

Well, he is at it again.
"President Bush has nominated Michael Baroody - one of Corporate America's leading anti-consumer henchmen - to head the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) - our top government agency protecting millions of Americans from injury and death from unsafe products.

For the past 13 years, Michael Baroody has served as Executive Vice President at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) - a K Street lobbying behemoth devoted to helping big manufacturers evade accountability for their wrongdoing."


Ranger Alleges Cover-Up in Tillman Case - washingtonpost.com: "In questioning what the White House knew, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., cited a memo written by a top general seven days after Tillman's death warning it was "highly possible" the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire and making clear his warning should be conveyed to the president. President Bush made no reference to the way Tillman died in a speech delivered two days after the memo was written.

A White House spokesman has said there's no indication Bush received the warning in the memo written April 29, 2004 by then-Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command.

"It's a little disingenuous to think the administration didn't know," Kevin Tillman told the committee. "That's kind of what we hoped you guys would get involved with and take a look," he said.

Mary Tillman told the committee that family members were "absolutely appalled" upon realizing the extent to which they were misled.

"We've all been betrayed ... We never thought they would use him the way they did," she said."

What do I keep saying?

Tom Delay accuses Pelosi and Reid of treason. See? Conservatives can and do this regularly. Bush undermines our ability to defend our nation and no one questions his patriotism.

Bush's America

Gary Kamiya has an interesting essay in Salon about our responses to violence and death in our culture. As my recent post on Karl Rove demonstrated (at least in my mind), we seem incapable of making sense of the true extent of Bush's damage. We can focus on others, less powerful, but addressing what this President has done to us, our moral standing, and our national identity, is truly horrifying. Perhaps denial is the only way to address it.
America is responsible for the Iraq nightmare. But this truth must be repressed. It does not fit our official narrative. No state wants to be told that it is the national equivalent of Seung-Hui Cho. And so the Bush administration, which now has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on its hands as well as that of more than 3,300 Americans, clings to its Big Lie, insisting that the dreadful ongoing slaughter in Iraq proves that we were right to invade in the first place.

This is a profound perversion of logic and morality. Fortunately, fewer and fewer Americans believe it. But the mere fact that it is our official governmental narrative about a great human-rights catastrophe, one we set in motion, brings shame upon our country.

Bush does not represent the American spirit, thank God. But his leadership has shrunk our national soul. Bush is a devout Christian, but there is no charity, no spiritual generosity, in his vision. Our flag, under which he struts, once stood for an America bigger than itself. Bush's flag stands for an America that arrogates all the humanity and virtue in the world. It is a profoundly unreligious flag.

Which brings us back to individuals killed on Sept. 11, and in Virginia, and on the road from Mosul. What we owe them is what we owe every human being who was passed: the best of ourselves. We owe them remembrance, and respect, and clear thinking, and a resolution to make the world a better place. We owe them, in a word, our humanity.

The tragedy of America's response to 9/11 is that it did not reflect the best of America. The moral obscenity of the Iraq war is not only that it betrayed the Iraqi people, who never harmed us. It is that it betrayed the very people in whose name it was launched. It betrayed us all.

There is a way back to the humanity we have lost. We can find it in our compassionate response to the Virginia Tech tragedy, our prayers that solace will somehow come to those who have lost everything. We can find it by paying attention to an entire nation that is suffering because of a war we needlessly started. We can find it by accepting that we now owe the Iraqis everything, and that our hearts and pocketbooks must be theirs for our lifetime.

And we can find it by resolving to never again listen to leaders who believe that American blood is worth more than that of others, and who in the name of God and right lead us into righteous wars. Because there may be necessary wars, but there are no righteous ones. Because Donne was right, and every man's death diminishes us all. Because the Bible is right, and we must not kill. And those who would do good by waging war often end up becoming the very thing they feared: killers.

April 23, 2007


Journalist David Halberstam killed in car crash - CNN.com


That is the only explanation for this President. TPM has the video. Bush says that Gonzales' testimony increased his confidence in his AG. Unbelievable. This man is living in some alternative universe.

Boy, aren't you guys glad you reelected this man?

But it isn't just with his lying incompetent Attorney General. Bush's delusions extend beyond Gonzales. Crooks and Liars point us to a surreal story that could only happen to this President. A Purple Heart winner from central Texas has decided to present his award to Bush for al the emotional and verbal attacks the President has receieved during office.
"We feel like emotional wounds and scars are as hard to carry as physical wounds," Thomas said.

Unbelievable. As C&L points out, the same President who used his powerful connections to avoid service in VN, and as President has underfunded and nearly destroyed our military by taking us into an insane war without providing the proper funding and support (because, remember, Iraqi oil was going to fund it all, and more!) oversaw Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, etc. This man is now receiving a Purple Heart to continue his delusion?

Beyond a sigh. I feel a retch coming on.

More than just firing attorneys

This story is pretty unsettling that the Bush administration might be using the Justice Department to promote the Republican party.
McClatchy Washington Bureau | 04/19/2007 | Campaign against alleged voter fraud fuels political tempest: "For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates."

Former department lawyers, public records and other documents show that since Bush took office, political appointees in the Civil Rights Division have:

-Approved Georgia and Arizona laws that tightened voter ID requirements. A federal judge tossed out the Georgia law as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of poor voters, and a federal appeals court signaled its objections to the Arizona law on similar grounds last fall, but that litigation was delayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until after the election.

-Issued advisory opinions that overstated a 2002 federal election law by asserting that it required states to disqualify new voting registrants if their identification didn't match that in computer databases, prompting at least three states to reject tens of thousands of applicants mistakenly.

-Done little to enforce a provision of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act that requires state public assistance agencies to register voters. The inaction has contributed to a 50 percent decline in annual registrations at those agencies, to 1 million from 2 million.

-Sued at least six states on grounds that they had too many people on their voter rolls. Some eligible voters were removed in the resulting purges.
More and more it appears that the Republicans, while they are shouting "voter fraud, voter fraud," are seeking to disenfranchise voters. Lest we forget, remember the 2004 election when Republicans followed Indian voters around to intimidate them.

I don't trust the GOP leadership right now--on any matter.

April 22, 2007

Rove and Newt

Crooks and Liars: Newt Gingrich blames "Liberalism" for VA Tech massacre


Karl Rove, btw, seems to be a bit of a dick. Shocking, I realize. Sheryl Crow and others tried to talk to him about the science of global warming at the White House Correspondents dinner. Sherly Crow touched his arm at one point, taking Karl into a frenzy. As Josh Marshall joked with his wife, I have to say that I would not freak if Crow touched me on the arm. :)

I played golf today. An enjoyable day except for my own golf play (which was not stellar). One of my golf buddies is absolutely convinced that Rove has broken numerous laws and is deathly afraid that the Senate will actually investigate and go after him. From what I read, Bush thinks the same thing and doesn't want to fire Gonzales because he fears that will be blood in the water to go after Rove. Why not fire both and try to rescue what is left of your Presidency, Mr. Bush? Why not try to do something decent your last two years?

taxes are not all bad

Neither are government programs. And we might be witnessing the first signs of the cost of Republican rule and the rhetoric of slashing government spending at all cost. Look at this disturbing rise in infant mortality in areas most hurt by cuts in Medicare and welfare.

(H/t to Shaun and recognition, as he puts it, that Bill Clinton signed some of this into law. I would submit that he did so at the behest of pressure from the right, and maybe we do need welfare reform, but I am not sure this is the way to do it.)

April 21, 2007

George Tenet is fighting back

Though as Larry Johnson angrily notes, it is a little too late and that Tenet should "give the medal back." I agree, but it is just nice to see some more confirmation of what we have said about this process:
"[David] Ignatius said that the book is:
going be very tough. George Tenet has been doing a slow burn ever since he left the CIA. He's been angrier and angrier as he saw himself being essentially made the fall guy on WMD in Iraq. And he's gonna come back saying he and his agency, the CIA, were pushed, again and again, by Cheney and Cheney's people to give him the answers that they wanted. And he's got chapter and verse on that.'

He added: 'He will tell a story that I think will make people's hair curl. But he's been waiting a long time to tell this....And he'll also say---this is a very important part of this---that, on the question of what would happen in Iraq after the invasion, the CIA pretty consistently warned, 'You have trouble ahead. You will not be able to unite this country. Sunnis and Shiites are gonna be 'at daggers."
We have known that Cheney was involved up to his evil little eyes, but it is nice to hear someone from the inside saying that the VP pushed for the answers he wanted.

Unfortunately, we have to live with the decisions of this horrible president. Worst one in American History and not even close. Fillmore looks brilliant. Andy Johnson looks capable. Grant looks sober.

This is the most powerful man in the world?

From the AP our President speaks:
_"Politics comes and goes, but your principles don't. And everybody wants to be loved — not everybody. ... You never heard anybody say, `I want to be despised, I'm running for office.'"

_"The best thing about my family is my wife. She is a great first lady. I know that sounds not very objective, but that's how I feel. And she's also patient. Putting up with me requires a lot of patience."

_"There are jobs Americans aren't doing. ... If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."

_"There are some similarities, of course" between Iraq and Vietnam. "Death is terrible."

_"I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times."

As he has before, Bush told the story about how his first presidential decision was to pick a rug for the Oval Office, a task he quickly cast to his wife. He told her to make sure the rug reflected optimism "because you can't make decisions unless you're optimistic that the decisions you make will lead to a better tomorrow."

Later, when he talked about his hope for succeeding in Iraq, Bush said, "Remember the rug?"


April 20, 2007

Jamestown Historical revisionism

This is enough to make you lose your Friday afternoon beer. Consider that fair warning, especially among those who might have a background in history. Or a genuine interest. Or be Indian. Or care about what happened to Native peoples. You are warned.

First, Bootleg Blogger, perhaps just to annoy me (:)), sent me this probably because he knows how much I admire the historical knowledge of Pat Robertson:
"Starting in 1607, a missionary thread seems to weave in and out of our nation's history. Do you know what the founding principle of the Virginia Company was back in 1607? Do you know the real reason the English settlers first came here in 1607? Was it to find gold? Discover a passage to the spice islands? Establish plantations? Pursue religious liberty?

As incredible as it sounds, it was missions!"

Hmm. Let's take this slowly. Do you know the real reason the English settlers first came here in 1607?


Was it to find gold?

Hell yes.

Discover a passage to the spice islands?

No. You are stupid.

Establish plantations?

Nope. That certainly wasn't their intention, though John Smith once expressed his desire to rule the Natives like the Spanish did. He meant to kill them until they submitted. You know, just like Jesus would do. Plantations came later and slowly when purchasing human beings became more cost effective than paying for indentured servants who died easily. Oh, and it took a few years before they discovered the Biblical principles of growing tobacco. I think that passage is somewhere toward the back and they were slow readers, what with the "thou" and such.

Persuing religious liberty and establishing missions? Are these people drunk? If only. That would give them an excuse. But it gets worse, and Pat Robertson (besides giving us the legal geniuses from Regent University) is only one of the historical revisionists out there.

Carlos from Jesus Politics alerted me to this horrible screed from WorldNet Daily. I should not be surprised, but this is horrible. Evidently, Doug Philips thinks that our old explanations for explaining the historical past should be the standard. You know, the stuff that exalts the Christian influence. This, btw, is about Jamestown which included some of the worst elements of European settlement on this continent. These people took pleasure in killing Indians, burning their crops, and considered themslelves superior in every way. They are a curious bunch of people to raise up as founders--Christian or other. But let me allow genius Doug Phillips to speak for himself:
And the reason for the historical amnesia of many Americans is clear. First, we have set aside the biblical commands, like those found in the 78th Psalm, for fathers to teach their children the mighty deeds of God in history. Second, we have surrendered our history – without so much as a whimper of a fight – to philosophically motivated revisionists.
As opposed to people like Dougey. I am sure he has no agenda, right? And do the "mighty deeds of God in History" include rampant killing?

Let me guess. I suspect Doug likes the Smiting God. So many do.

Consider also the recent propaganda presented to the children of America care of the friendly evolutionists at National Geographic.

Their May 2007 cover story that just hit the stands is entitled: "Jamestown: The Real Story: How settlers destroyed a native Empire and changed the landscape from the ground up."

National Geographic assures us that: "Much of what we learned in grade school about the New World encountered by the colonists at Jamestown is wrong. Four hundred years later, historians are piecing together the real story."

Away with the undisputed histories we have heard and celebrated for close to 400 years! Away with the historical academic record! It's time for a new history for a better tomorrow.
This is the part that makes me want to scream. Perhaps Dougey prefers the explanation for disease from 400 years ago too? Let's go get those leaches the next time he experiences an infection. History, as the Dougster sees it, was set in stone when it explained history favorable to him.
So just what is the "real story" of Jamestown? Answer: environmental injustice.

Here is what kids can learn from the new history: Christian settlers were "environmental imperialists." They not only brought a host of nasty destructive bugs to the near utopian ecological world of the Native Americans, but they "unsettl[ed] the landscape" and "unleashed what would become a multi-level ecological assault on North America."

What is the proof of these assertions?

I think that is a reasonable question given the fact that such comments are becoming ubiquitous in much of the literature and events associated with the official Jamestown commemoration, as well as articles like this month's National Geographic piece.

The proof? Not much.
The readers of WorldNet Daily might be a few bricks shy of a load, but the rest of us actually might be interested to know that the evidence for that environmental destruction is pretty substantial. Not iron clad in every sense, but certainly more than Dougey here suggests. We know that colonists brought disease and unintended consequences of new plants and animals to the "New" World. No one says they did most of that on purpose. But you wouldn't know that from Dougey.
True, there are many novel, highly speculative theories presented by academics seeking to distinguish themselves with a new concept. Also true, there appears to be a fair amount of reliance on the modern, so-called "oral tradition" of small groups of sometimes embittered and politically motivated individuals. But that is pretty much it.
Dude. Someone who obviously comes from a literal Biblical tradition doesn't get to mock the "oral tradition" since there are no surviving original texts for the Bible either. You are an idiot.

Ah, but the Dougster has an explanation for Jamestown:
Is there an environmental message of Jamestown? Actually, yes.

Prior to the arrival of Christian culture in North America, approximately 1 million people, none of whom were united under a single banner, were sparsely distributed on a vast land mass that was in excess of 3 million square miles. These cultures constantly warred against each other, had no written language, worshipped demons and animal spirits, practiced cannibalism and child sacrifice, had no biblical concept of property ownership, and because of insufficient cultivation of the land, sometimes starved, despite access to vast resources.

For all of their shortcomings and errors, it was the Jamestown settlers who first planted the distinctively Christian vision for dominion over the land through careful stewardship of land resources. This vision was a distinctive of Christian culture and found its origins in the express commands of Scripture.
Read that again. This is a rearticulation of the old idea that Indians weren't really people, they were savages who didn't know shit. Nevermind that Europeans sometimes suffered from starvation and other ills, warred incessantly, and killed people accused of witchcraft. Nevermind that some native cultures were ahead on things like the number zero and had better sanitation and urban infrastructure. Nevermind any of that. In Dougey's mind, they are backward savages and no pesky amount of evidence will dissuade his genius mind.

Yeah, those settlers were Bible-readers, like when the settlers quoted the story of the Amelekites to justify killing Indian children. And, Doug, you might want to look a little closer at the actual beliefs of these settlers before you mock those who worship "demons and animal spirits." And the rest of that sentence suggests that you have no earthly idea where capitalism ends and Christianity begins, nor do you really understand Indian cultures. Nor, evidently, do you care.

And I love the "dominion over the land through careful stewardship of land resources." What the hell is he smoking? Some good old Virgina Gold or is he dipping into the Chronic? These Jamestown settlers were neither "careful" nor "stewards." Let me remind us all that John Smith (when he wasn't advocating killing Indians) had to force these "careful stewards" to work to raise the food to keep them from starving (though many did anyway, by the way Doug--even with such ample resources and taking food from Indians).

Doug's historical knowledge is damn near nonexistant, and his theology, well, sucks. What saddens me is how many kids are given this crap and how many adults read it and endorse it. I respectfully think he should re-read his own post and then punch himself in the mouth for uttering such nonsense. And then repeat.

Conservatives unhinged--again

Tony, in an aptly named post ("Can I scream now?") points to the Conservative Voice where some tool named Brooks Mick suggests that the students should have rushed the shooter. And he isn't the only one. John Derbyshire at the NRO said the same thing:
Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

Idiocy, evidently, rules among the hard core right where the students are to blame for not reenacting some movie they saw somewhere.

Ah, but it isn't just conservative columnists, but also the former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Paige Patterson. I remember him fondly from his role in the conservative takeover of that convention, but according to sources, he echoes the same nonesense in a freaking chapel message! (H/t Big Daddy Weave):
"“Now if you’re a male student, will you just lift your hand for a moment so I can see you? Thank you for that commitment. God forbid that anything happen like this here, but each of you that just raised your hand said, ‘Never be more than two or three shots before I’m on him. Doesn’t matter how many of us he takes out. ‘ See, all you had to do was have six or eight rush him right at that time, and thirty-two people wouldn’t have died. Now folks, let’s make up our minds. I know we live in America where nobody gets involved in anybody else’s situation. That shall not be the rule here. Does everybody understand? You say, well I may be shot. Well, yeah, you may. Are you saved? You’re going to heaven. You know, it’s better than earth . . . Now one more time, how many male students are there? I’m counting on you.”"

Tony wants to scream. I feel rather numb. Ten dollars says that all of these people are big war supporters--probably big fans of John Wayne movies, and still believe that the Duke, Reagan, and W are all "cowboy heroes."

I have been in a lengthy discussion about the 1950s and nostalgia. I argue that most of what people imagine about that decade has been learned from film and television and then shrouded in nostalgia. It has become the dominant goal for traditional values, etc. For many, this has become their reality.

Reading Paige Patterson, I am reminded that these cultural myths have real consequences. Just as many young men went off to Vietnam thinking war was a John Wayne movie, we still have many viewing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan through the same lens. Their "reality" means that students should have rushed an armed shooter wearing a vest. Their "reality" leads to a President saying "bring it on." And the fact that religious conservatives romanticize war just makes me want to cry.

April 19, 2007

I am waiting

I watched more of the Gonzales hearing coverage tonight. And John McCain joking about bombing Iran, and I wonder what the hell is going on.

So, I am waiting for an apology for those of you who looked at George Bush after Abu Ghraib, the little joke about looking for wmd under the desk, or "mission accomplished" and still decided he was qualified to run our country. Because every thing since then has proven you wrong. It has given us Al Gonzales, the man who "couldn't recall" some 70+ time, and let me remind you, that is the guy at the top of our justice system.

I have hinted around before. But I am tired of this. Bush has given us incompetence piled on corruption. I ask people for positive policies and even his supporters have to "think about it."

So, time for you to step up and admit that you elected an incompetent President. Spare me the Monica jokes or anything about Gore or Kerry. Good God, it is very hard at this point to even suggest that those two couldn't have done a marginally better job--and that is if we assume the worst case with both.

The comments are open. Leave them however you want. But watch this AG, then watch the President say he is doing a "heckofajob" and tell me that the country was well served in 2004.

In over his head video

Arlen Specter (republican, remember) is INCREDULOUS at this supposed Attorney General.

Flying monkeys?

Or hell freezing over. But Tom Coburn is a voice of reason?:
"During his questioning, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) told Alberto Gonzales that he should resign.

There 'has to be consequences' for the management and leadership failure under Gonzales' watch. It's 'generous to say that there were misstatements' by Gonzales and others, Coburn said. 'I believe that you ought to suffer the consequences,' he said, adding that Gonzales ought to be judged by the same standards with which he judged the U.S. attorneys.

'The best way to put this behind us is your resignation.'"

In. Over. His. Head

Russ Feingold points out the obvious ridiculous statement that Gonzales "knows for a fact" that nothing improper occurred, but at the same time has no real understanding why those people ended up on the list. Feingold hit him hard with the fact that Gonzales made no effort, requested no progress reports, and took no inititiative to find out why he was firing 7 US Attorneys! Yet Gonzales assures the American people that nothing improper occurred.

In over his head. Just like his boss.

April 17, 2007

How we deal with tragedy

The mass killing at Virginia Tech is just heart breaking. We need time to make sense of this. But the media response is just horrible.

Last night, I was watching Alison Stewart on MSNBC, who I like, but even she was ridiculous. 30+ dead at Va Tech and the speculation on MSNBC (and I assume the others as well) an embarassment. They already have the tag line ("massacre at Virginia Tech") with accompanying music. The amazing fact of modern media is that the less actual facts they have, the more they talk. And then there is the need to blame someone.

But the speculation was amazing. In the absence of details, put someone on who can just make stuff up. Alison was interviewing a former FBI agent asking him what the first steps needed to be. This genius said that the first step was to find out who the shooter was. That was the key. I would have never thought about that. She then asked what we should learn from the press conference. He said that we needed to know what was happening to the victims. And he used to work for the FBI.

April 16, 2007


Pew Survey Finds Most Knowledgeable Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert'-- and Visit Newspaper Sites
"Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.
Virtually bringing up the rear were regular watchers of Fox News. Only 1 in 3 could answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly. Fox topped only network morning show viewers."

From Neko Case' website

Neko Case's News: "DEAR OKLAHOMA CITY...

We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience caused by tonight's performance cancellation (Sat, 4/14). Canceling a show is not at all a usual practice for Neko and the band. Unfortunately, it was the only option given the technical difficulties that could not be overcome. We're going to reschedule another date in OKC as soon as possible. THANK YOU to all of the kind and understanding people waiting outside - we are sorry, but we will see you SOON. XOXO"

April 15, 2007

A few things this morning

First, we showed up to see Neko last night only to be told to go home. Evidently the shows promoters didn't come through with a decent sound system or something. Very disappointing, but we still had a nice evening out with friends.


This morning, I flipped through some channels to find Chris Wallace berating Al Sharpton over the Imus affair again. This time, he demanded to know why Sharpton was not apologizing to the three lacrosse players and then played a clip of Imus on the O'Reilly Show. Now, I know Sharpton is a piece of work, but he is smarter than the average guy, and he very quickly noted that Wallace was asking him to apologize to the lacrosse players for what the DA did.

I also understand that people like Sharpton and Jackson have a lot to answer for in their personal and professional lives. I also understand that bigotry is ubiquitious in our culture and that rap artists throw around the most hateful, mysogynist words, etc. But this line of questioning has essentially allowed people like David Gregory and Chris Wallace to blame black people for racism. As long as they can point to blacks saying things wrong, then the reasoning seems to be, we can't go after Imus.


Oh, and Media Matters has a great list of right wingers who routinely say stuff worse than Imus. Take a look. The Glenn Beck stuff is amazing, but here is good old Rush"
"According to a June 7, 2000, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) article, "As a young broadcaster in the 1970s, Limbaugh once told a black caller: 'Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.' " In the early 1990s, "after becoming nationally syndicated, he mused on the air: 'Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?' " According to FAIR, "[w]hen Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) was in the U.S. Senate, the first black woman ever elected to that body, Limbaugh would play the 'Movin' On Up' theme song from TV's 'Jeffersons' when he mentioned her. Limbaugh sometimes still uses mock dialect -- substituting 'ax' for 'ask'-- when discussing black leaders." FAIR also reported that "[i]n 1992, on his now-defunct TV show, Limbaugh expressed his ire when Spike Lee urged that black schoolchildren get off from school to see his film Malcolm X: 'Spike, if you're going to do that, let's complete the education experience. You should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out.' "


One more quick item. Saw this from the WaPo on abstinence only programs. Another study suggests that it doesn't work--often only delays sexual activity. Which might still be a good move if they were also being taught how to protect themselves when they decide to have sex. But the worst part is that this study finds that the abstinence only people are lying to the kids--telling them that AIDS is spread through tears and sweat, or that condoms fail to protect from pregnancy and AIDS some 31 percent of the time. The real number is 3 percent.


April 14, 2007

Saturday comic and...

I haven't posted much this week, though we have enjoyed a lively debate over the Don Imus situation, the militia movement, and the role of government and taxation in our society. That last one is a tricky topic for this weekend, of course, and is the one weekend where SOF used to claim to be a Republican for just one weekend. Just to show how far the GOP has fallen, she no longer does that.

Speaking of that, as I have argue, the US Attorney scandal continues to unravel and touch areas that I am sure Rove never intended. No one doubts that the President can fire these people, but the evidence suggests that his office pressured them to pursue certain cases or not pursue other cases based on politics. Probably not the first time, but perhaps the first time it has been this brazen. Now we hear that the Bush people used an external mail server to conduct business so they wouldn't have to preserve the emails. Clinton first did this, I understand, because it was clear that they should not use the White House server for campaign purposes. Rove has taken this to another level. I don't think that Bush is evil--I think he is in over his head--but Rove is a new breed of political operative (or perhaps a throwback to the most corrupt era of a Mark Hanna where everything is political. Foreign policy, intelligence, science on health and climate, etc., are all political rather than policy questions. Historians will spend a lot of time deconstructing this administration, I suspect.

Now for the Saturday comic. Similar theme to last week, but it is f*&king cold here today! And I am having difficulty finding motivation for anything beyond napping.


But tonight, we are headed to hear Neko Case perform in the city. We will ride up with friends, enjoy a nice dinner and then head to the show. I have become a fan of hers. For those interested, she has a live concert from Austin City Limits on dvd that is excellent.

I will report more tomorrow. And maybe get back to work...

April 10, 2007

Gwen Ifill skewers Imus

I am a fan of Gwen Ifill and have been for sometime. I think she strikes exactly the right tone here. As other bloggers have noted, the problem is not just Imus but all the right wing hate mongers who still attract mainstream journalists and politicians to grace their shows.

BTW, I love it when defenders of Imus say he isn't racist. I am sorry, but if you make that kind of joke about these black women, you are a racist. Just as you are when you make this kind of comment about someone like Ifill.
Trash Talk Radio - New York Times: "The serial apologies of Mr. Imus, who was suspended yesterday by both NBC News and CBS Radio for his remarks, have failed another test. The sincerity seems forced and suspect because he’s done some version of this several times before.

I know, because he apparently did it to me.

I was covering the White House for this newspaper in 1993, when Mr. Imus’s producer began calling to invite me on his radio program. I didn’t return his calls. I had my hands plenty full covering Bill Clinton.

Soon enough, the phone calls stopped. Then quizzical colleagues began asking me why Don Imus seemed to have a problem with me. I had no idea what they were talking about because I never listened to the program.

It was not until five years later, when Mr. Imus and I were both working under the NBC News umbrella — his show was being simulcast on MSNBC; I was a Capitol Hill correspondent for the network — that I discovered why people were asking those questions. It took Lars-Erik Nelson, a columnist for The New York Daily News, to finally explain what no one else had wanted to repeat.

“Isn’t The Times wonderful,” Mr. Nelson quoted Mr. Imus as saying on the radio. “It lets the cleaning lady cover the White House.”"

April 9, 2007

More of Bush's America?

I keep expecting to run out of outrage--that Bush's continued bungling will somehow start to hit dead nerves. But then I read stories like this and the outrage returns. Professor Walter F. Murphy, noted scholar and decorated veteran found himself on the Terrorist Watch list. Why?
"'On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving.

When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.

I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: 'Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.' I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. 'That'll do it,' the man said. '"

An important point: "Our Liberal Media: Still Not Liberal"

The Anonymous Liberal points out the typical pattern for supposedly liberal media coverage of key issues. In this case, supposed tough interviewer, Tim Russert--or in the Scooter Libby/Dick Cheney world, perfect patsy for Neo-con talking points:
"1) Tim Russert asked a question about Issue X.

2) Kate O'Beirne laid out the Republican position on Issue X, complete with partisan spin and noticeable hostility and scorn directed at any Democrat relevant to the discussion.

3) Judy Woodruff, David Gregory, and Chuck Todd then provided typical play-by-play analysis of the debate surrounding Issue X and offered predictions as to which side would eventually come out on top politically.

Reliably missing from the discussion was any attempt to lay out the Democratic position."

April 8, 2007

The fundamentalization of the Justice Department

What began as an inquiry about 7 fired US Attorneys has turned into a full-fledged scandal calling attention to how Bush sees the Justice Department. One of those fired was to be replaced by a former assistant to Karl Rove who specialized in opposition research. Much of this is perfectly legal, of course, but unseemly and unethical. But each new week brings new questions about these people we have entrusted with our government.

Take Monica Goodling (please) for example. Turns out that she is one of 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's Regent University Law school--one termed "tier four" by those who rate law schools, and one where the goal is to impose a Christian world view on the legal system. Ok, fine. Perhaps they are well-intentioned and nothing says that someone from a 136th ranked law school (only accredited since 96) can do a good job. But it appears that Ashcroft, Bush and Gonzales changed the rules to allow them to hire these particular lawyers to run amok in our justice system. From the Boston Globe:

Many of those who have Regent law degrees, including Goodling, joined the Department of Justice. Their path to employment was further eased in late 2002, when John Ashcroft , then attorney general, changed longstanding rules for hiring lawyers to fill vacancies in the career ranks. Previously, veteran civil servants screened applicants and recommended whom to hire, usually picking top students from elite schools.

In a recent Regent law school newsletter, a 2004 graduate described being interviewed for a job as a trial attorney at the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in October 2003. Asked to name the Supreme Court decision from the past 20 years with which he most disagreed, he cited Lawrence v. Texas, the ruling striking down a law against sodomy because it violated gay people's civil rights.

"When one of the interviewers agreed and said that decision in Lawrence was 'maddening,' I knew I correctly answered the question," wrote the Regent graduate . The administration hired him for the Civil Rights Division's housing section -- the only employment offer he received after graduation, he said.
Bush hired a woman from Regent to run his Personnel office--effectively opening the doors for Regent graduates. The impact? Well, one of them was to hire an inordinate number of untested lawyers to run offices like those devoted to Civil Rights which led to a huge drop in cases filed on voter rights cases.

Bush and his people have made our political system a clone of the 19th century patronage system--one we tried to reform. But I suspect there is some good news here. Regent has flown under the radar screen for sometime even though John Ashcroft teaches there and Jay Sekulow runs the American Center for Law and Justice out of that same school and with the same funding. But the incompetence of the Justice department has the potential of bringing these schools and their approach into some scrutiny.

I once wrote that George Bush has been the worst thing for evangelicals because it has forced them to defend indefensible policies and look the other way while Bush did the most unChristian things. I think that the success of Regent might be bad for evangelicals as well.


I don't normally do Easter well, and am not sure I can explain why. We are trying to remedy that. Last night, SOF and I attended an Easter service at the Episcopal church. Very nice (though I would like an explanation for the incense). As Anglican explained, last night's service is one of the oldest in the church. It was very interesting, including the first time in years that I heard the creation story read through. Listening last night, I was reminded of other creation stories.

I was also reminded of our discussion on the Old Testament God. The service also included the story of the Israelites rescued from Egypt. I understand that the purpose was to retell the story of God saving them from slavery, but the story saddens me as well, and perhaps especially since I know those stories have informed this kind of us v. them, and seems to have written Bush's foreign policy. But that reading seems so narrow and selective. Reading in the Book of Common Prayer, it is amazing how many times the call is to bring justice, seek peace, and to treat every other human being with dignity.

My own Easter experience is mixed. I remember sunrise services--including one where I rode with a couple of older boys to light the fire. I really remember being cold. I remember listening to Handel, singing in the choir, and the nice dinner after. I also remember the high school and college girls showing off their new Easter dresses. Even then that struck me as odd. This morning, while getting coffee at our local Starbucks, we were surrounded by Easter clad church goers--one family in their black Escalade. Sigh.

I remember Joseph Campbell saying that focussing on the literal truth of the stories often resulted in missing the meaning of the story. There is much richness and meaning in these stories. May we find it, and may we truly seek for peace and justice in this world.

April 7, 2007

For this Easter, a nice essay on doubt

From Salon
I slip from my pew and walk out of the church. On the sidewalk I think: Jesus himself was a doubter. He questioned the validity of the established religious order. He doubted his ability to do what he was asked to do and, on the cross, he doubted the loyalty of God.

My conflict, I see now, has not been with any individual church, but with church life in general, a life that began at my baptism in my father's shabby cottage in Sylvan Beach. The idea of church still has a grip on my imagination, but I realize that what I thought was held only inside those walls -- grace and divinity -- are actually located directly and authentically inside myself. Church is not a set of rules or a specific building but a way of life.

But I am not able to break with Christianity, no matter how uncomfortable I am with many of its current manifestations. Biblical imagery and Christ's message of forgiveness continue to haunt me, and I know my own redemption lies in Christian tenets, not in others' religious beliefs. Still, I can interpret the Bible in my own way. I can choose from the creeds that have been passed down, I can make my relationship to God my own, not one that is defined by church doctrine. And I can pray. Of all the gifts Sister Leslie has given me, her Aunt Birdie's Book of Common Prayer has been the most valuable. Thin colored ribbons stick out the bottom. I read Morning Prayer and sometimes Compline. The Compline antiphon is my favorite: Guide us waking, oh Lord and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

April 6, 2007

Friday Streak comic

Have a good weekend.

Our moral standing--or lack of it

The Daily Dish: The British Hostages: "They were blindfolded and experienced a 'mock execution.' This interrogation tactic is disgusting, unlawful and in violation of the Geneva Accords. It has also been practiced in several recorded incidents by the United States military under the command of George W. Bush, after he signed a memo allowing suspension of baseline Geneva Protections in the war on terror. Unlike detainees held by the U.S.., however, the Brits were not apparently subjected to other 'coercive interrogation.' In that respect, Ahmadinejad in this case has upheld a higher moral standard than the American president with respect to detainees. Those are the facts. The moral bright line between them and us has been horribly blurred - by president George W. Bush and his enablers in the torture regime. Advantage: the enemy."
Truly unbelievable. One of the Axis of Evil treated their captives better than we do.

Perhaps the US Attorney scandal is those NOT fired

Faithful Progressive: "Your Evidence is Beyond Thin," 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tells Bush US Attorney on Overruled "Corruption" Case

I have been convinced for sometime that Bush failed to learn the valuable lessons of childhood. Doesn't know how to play with others, didn't learn the whole "boy cries wolf" story, and here I think we see evidence that they didn't learn the lesson of fair play. In Bush's world, if you are losing a football game, the lesson is not to improve your defense and offense, it is to replace the refs with people from your side.

April 5, 2007

Did Bush skip kindergarten?

Saw recently that Bush decided to appoint Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium in a recess appointment. Fox gave 50 grand to the Swift Boat people and was chastized by the target of said group, John Kerry, during the Senate hearings. Bush withdrew Fox because he wasn't going to get out of the Senate, but then decided to use the recess appointment.

Bush has the right to do this, I don't doubt. But this is a good example of him poking people in the eye and then wondering why they don't want to work with him. I have no respect for this man--he has long ago decided that power is more valuable than relationships. Salon.com had a fascinating article on Matthew Dowd, famous recently for suggesting that he has lost faith in Bush. Salon's Sidney Blumenthal suggests that Dowd was more than just a loyal soldier, but THE guy who sent a memo to Rove suggesting that there was no "middle" in the electorate and that Bush should run a divisive campaign. Just that quick, Bush switched from "compassionate conservative" to the "screw you" model of governing. The Fox nomination is just the latest example.

Either way, Bush and Cheney seem to have missed the basic lessons that inform the rest of us--how to get along with others. I remain astounded that moral people I know continue to defend someone like this.


April 4, 2007


SOF just got an email from a friend promoting a Republican candidate. Not abnormal, of course, but the interesting thing was the discussion of the opposition. In this case, the "dangerous Hillary and Osama Barak."

Anyone else getting stuff like this?

April 3, 2007

Another conservative

And this one, I might add, strikes me as among the wackjob (or as my friend S calls them, "wackado") element. But he also thinks that Bush's faith is a scam.
James Dobson - James Dobson Just Doesn't Get It!: It has been the George W. Bush presidency that has helped turn the minds of Christian conservatives away from a politician's actions and policies to his or her rhetoric. Bush has been given a free pass (by Christian conservatives) on his unconstitutional, liberal, big-spending, socialistic, and imperialistic policies, because he "openly talks about his faith."

Never mind that President Bush's presidency more resembles Bill Clinton's than it does Ronald Reagan's. Never mind that if George W. Bush did not have an "R" behind his name, one would assume that he was a protégé of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson. Because Bush "openly talks about his faith," he is accepted, defended, and lauded by the Religious Right.

If that is not shallow, I don't know what is.

April 2, 2007

A Streak comic

Hey, it is my first one. Be nice.

Abstinence? Or scare tactics?

Either way, holy crap! This lady likes to demonstrate pre-marital sex by putting a big chunk of tape on a guy's arm and then yanking it off:
Problem with the kids is they won't yank it off slowly enough at Pandagon: "Miss Tape, all used up by her contact with multiple men, was then dramatically tossed in a trash can to demonstrate the proper use of sexually active women."
As Pandagon suggests, there are numerous similar abstinence teachers out there using pain or disgust to discourage kids from having sex. Make no mistake, I don't mind abstinence taught (alongside other techniques) but don't for an instance think that this kind of approach won't have many unintended consequences. You know, like having kids associate sex with pain or disgust or something otherwise negative. But not to worry, I am sure that when these kids do form sexual unions, they won't have any problem putting people like this woman behind them.


And the hits keep coming

Yet another conservative mad at Bush--this one the author of a book named "Invasion of the Party Snatchers: How the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons Destroyed the GOP."
'"For all the Rove-built facade of his being a 'strong' chief executive, George W. Bush has been, by comparison to even hapless Jimmy Carter, the weakest, most out of touch president in modern times," Gold writes. "Think Dan Quayle in cowboy boots."

Gold is even more withering in his observations of Cheney. "A vice president in control is bad enough. Worse yet is a vice president out of control."

For Gold, Cheney brings to mind the adage of Swiss writer Madame de Stael, who wrote, "Men do not change, they unmask themselves." Cheney has a deep streak of paranoia and megalomania, Gold suggests -- but he says he did not see it at first.

"He was hiding who he really was," Gold says. "He was waiting for an opportunity."

In many ways, Gold's tale of disillusionment is a familiar one. There are plenty of veterans of Reagan and Bush 41 around town who believe Bush and Cheney trashed the institutions and party they helped build from the wreckage of the Goldwater campaign."

How long until the Bushies savage this guy--someone who officed with Lynn (Ugh) Cheney and was asked to write the official bios of the President and First Lady. How long until they decide he is, like Matt Dowd, going through personal issues. In George Bush's world, no rational person thinks he is an idiot. Though, with that logic, some 70% of the country is deluded.

April 1, 2007

And the rest say: "what took you so long?"

Matthew Dowd, an Ex-Aide to the President details his loss of faith. Dowd was a Democrat who lost faith in the Clinton administration and was impressed when he watched Bush operate in Austin. I understand that to a point, but he became part of the poll machine, helping Karl Rove find out how to further divide the country and appeal to the extremes. Oh well, he feels bad about it now. After helping paint John Kerry as a flip flopper, he wrote, but didn't submit an oped piece under the title, "Kerry was right" about the war, that is.
He criticized the president as failing to call the nation to a shared sense of sacrifice at a time of war, failing to reach across the political divide to build consensus and ignoring the will of the people on Iraq. He said he believed the president had not moved aggressively enough to hold anyone accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and that Mr. Bush still approached governing with a “my way or the highway” mentality reinforced by a shrinking circle of trusted aides.
Later he says he was stunned that Bush kept Rumsfeld on after Abu Ghraib--though why he was stunned is beyond me. Bush and Cheney were at the same time working to justify torture.

In 2006, Dowd watched the reelection campaign of Arnold in California and marveled at someone reaching beyond his own party.
"I think we should design campaigns that appeal not to 51 percent of the people,” he said, “but bring the country together as a whole."
During his interview on the Daily Show, not only did John Bolton misread Lincoln and all of American history, but he also displayed the right wing approach to politics. Bolton said that it was Bush's responsibility to do what his supporters wanted, and not what all of America wanted. Bush has governed so narrowly since his election--essentially extending his middle finger to those who voted against him as if we don't deserve representation.

I am glad Dowd is speaking out. But he has a lot of explaining yet to do.