October 31, 2007

Just more outrage from these people

Is this what conservatives want from government? Less protection? Because those tasked with protecting consumers from, oh, you know, lead paint in toys or flammable cribs doesn't want to protect us from anything:
'The nation's top official for consumer product safety has asked Congress in recent days to reject legislation intended to strengthen the agency, which polices thousands of consumer goods, from toys to tools."
Compassionate conservatism, evidently, doesn't give a shit if your kids get lead painted toys, or if one of their toys kills them or a friend. That is what conservatism means to Bush and his cronies.



Also from Obsidian Wings this take on our AG nominee. Who, by the way, won't define waterboarding as torture. He says it is repugnant to him personally, but until he finds out what the CIA has been up to, he won't say because he doesn't want to get them in legal trouble.
There is an easy way for Mukasey to get around the fact that he has not been briefed on what the CIA did: just define waterboarding, say whether waterboarding so defined is torture, and add that not having been briefed on what the CIA did, he doesn't know whether or not what they did meets his definition. That Mukasey has not taken this obvious route suggests that he is not motivated by his own uncertainty, but by the desire to keep people he believes have engaged in torture from being punished for their crimes.

That we are even having a debate about this question, and that it is not a foregone conclusion that someone who claims not to know whether waterboarding is torture cannot possibly be confirmed as Attorney General, is a testament to the moral degradation of our country, and of our political discourse.
We prosecuted Japanese for war crimes for using this technique. Everyone knows it is torture.
Imagine what we would think of a country where candidates for high office and nominees for the highest law enforcement position in the country had earnest debates about whether or not the rack was torture ("hey, I do stretching exercises before I go jogging, and it doesn't hurt me!"), or whether disembowelling living prisoners shocked the conscience ("I had my appendix out, and I'm doing just fine!") We would think that the people who said such things had utterly lost their humanity. Yet for some reason, altogether too many of our fellow citizens seem to think that it is perfectly acceptable for politicians and their appointees to have the same debates about waterboarding.
These people make me more than a little ill. And what bothers me more is that people I know see this as just a political disagreement. The first item above about regulation is a political issue. I find the Bush admin's approach ridiculous, but there is an argument to make about regulation and reasonable people can disagree. But, thanks to Bush and Cheney, Americans are arguing about torture like it is discussing different tax plans. People who should know better are parsing, and justifying torture. They are deferring to people with no moral compass.

I have said this before, but I grew up at the end of the cold war. I remember fearing nuclear (sorry, nukular) attack. I learned about our system always in contrast to the Soviet Union. We valued open government, rule of law, rule of the people, and an actual judicial system. They jailed people on a whim and denied them rights. They tortured people.

Now we do all of that. Our President sees the Constitution as a piece of paper he can ignore. And people who should know better shrug.

October 30, 2007

Values voters?

Pass. These values are not very nice:
"If anything, the movement seemed more extreme and paranoid than it did four years ago. Rev. Lou Sheldon, dubbed "Lucky Louie" by his former paymaster Jack Abramoff, told me that homosexuality is a "pathological disorder" and "a groove" that is difficult to escape from. He proceeded to passionately defend his friend, Senator Larry Craig, from allegations of homosexuality.

Star Parker, a former welfare cheat who had multiple abortions, claimed to me that abortion is the leading cause of death among African American women between the ages of 25 and 34. Then she described her wish for the forced quarantine of all "sodomites." Parker was not a lone wacko milling around in the hallway; she was a speaker invited by the Family Research Council.

Neoconservative activist Frank Gaffney appeared at the Summit as well. Before a standing room audience, Gaffney exclaimed that "by not being bigoted and not being racist, [George W.] Bush has embraced Islamofascists on several occasions." Phyllis Schlaffly echoed Gaffney's comments, declaring that there are too many mosques in America."

October 29, 2007

Death Penalty review

Just another list of reasons why capital punishment is immoral in the US:
"Serious problems in state death penalty systems compromise fairness and accuracy in capital punishment cases and justify a nationwide freeze on executions, the American Bar Association says.

Problems cited in a report released Sunday by the lawyers' organization include:

_Spotty collection and preservation of DNA evidence, which has been used to exonerate more than 200 inmates;
_Misidentification by eyewitnesses;
_False confessions from defendants; and
_Persistent racial disparities that make death sentences more likely when victims are white.

The report is a compilation of separate reviews done over the past three years of how the death penalty operates in eight states: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee."

October 28, 2007

Not sure how I missed this

One of my golf partners had this in bumper sticker form, and I realized I had never heard this story. To be fair, I am not sure it happened, but according to some witnesses, Bush responded harshly to some Republicans who opposed the Patriot Act renewal back in 2005.
“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”

Did this happen? I have no idea. But it certainly represents how many of us see him approaching the constitution. This man should have never been president. Never.

October 27, 2007

Rudy the candidate

One of the scarier parts of the positive trends I noted earlier in evangelical voting, is the popularity of Rudy as candidate. Put aside his three marriages and stances on social conservative issues and simply look at what he says about torture.
The Reality-Based Community: Sadist-in-Chief: "They talk about sleep deprivation. I mean, on that theory, I’m getting tortured running for president of the United States. That’s plain silly. That’s silly."
yes, that same tactic was used by the KGB and was guaranteed to lead to psychosis if carried on long enough. And Rudy laughs it off and compares it to a busy schedule.

Religious conservatives, if you actually cared about religious values you would have to look no further to see why voting for Rudy is a horrible idea. That is, if you care about anything except maintaining power.

Change in the Evangelical Movement?

A very interesting piece on evangelical politics in the NYT. Evidently, some of the firebreathers from the right have found resistance from within the evangelical movement. Several hardliner political activist pastors have been pushed out by their congregations.
Fox, who is 47, said he saw some impatient shuffling in the pews, but he was stunned that the church’s lay leaders had turned on him. “They said they were tired of hearing about abortion 52 weeks a year, hearing about all this political stuff!” he told me on a recent Sunday afternoon. “And these were deacons of the church!”

Very interesting trend. And the piece takes us back to that dark place when these same evangelicals believed that Bush was God's own President, or some similar nonsense.
Every time I visited an evangelical church in 2004, it seemed that a member’s brother or cousin had just returned from Iraq with reports that much greater progress was being made than the news media let on. The admiration for President Bush as a man of faith was nearly universal, and some talked of his contest with John Kerry as a spiritual battle. It would have been hard to overstate the Christian conservative leadership’s sense of the presidential race’s historical significance. In the days before the election, Dobson told me he believed the culture war was “rapidly approaching the climax, with everything that we are about on the line” and the election might be “the pivot point.”

But things are shifting beneath the feet of people like Dobson and his little attack dog--Tony Perkins. The younger generation is moving away from them politically and in just a three year time.
White evangelicals under 30 — the future of the church — were once Bush’s biggest fans; now they are less supportive than their elders. And the dissatisfaction extends beyond Bush. For the first time in many years, white evangelical identification with the Republican Party has dipped below 50 percent, with the sharpest falloff again among the young, according to John C. Green, a senior fellow at Pew and an expert on religion and politics. (The defectors by and large say they’ve become independents, not Democrats, according to the polls.)

Some claim the falloff in support for Bush reflects the unrealistic expectations pumped up by conservative Christian leaders. But no one denies the war is a factor. Christianity Today, the evangelical journal, has even posed the question of whether evangelicals should “repent” for their swift support of invading Iraq.

“Even in evangelical circles, we are tired of the war, tired of the body bags,” the Rev. David Welsh, who took over late last year as senior pastor of Wichita’s large Central Christian Church, told me. “I think it is to the point where they are saying: ‘O.K., we have done as much good as we can. Now let’s just get out of there.’ ”
Yes, what "good" they have done. I hope they keep that in mind if Bush opens up another war with Iran. Well done, church.
“There was a time when evangelical churches were becoming largely and almost exclusively the Republican Party at prayer,” said Marvin Olasky, the editor of the evangelical magazine World and an informal adviser to George W. Bush when he was governor. “To some extent — we have to see how much — the Republicans have blown it. That opportunity to lock up that constituency has vanished. The ball now really is in the Democrats’ court.”
At least Olasky is honest about it. But the reality is that the evangelical movement blew it too. They signed on with Bush and now we all reap the consequences.
But at least there are some shifts happening. Frank Page, new SBC President has pledged to make that body less political. He was asked about a Bush-Cheney reception at the 2004 SBC convention for pastors
He sounded appalled. “That will not be happening with me,” he said, repeating it for emphasis. “I have cautioned our denomination to be very careful not to be seen as in lock step with any political party.”
Well, no time like after the disaster to say, "hey, we shouldn't have done that."

But at least there is a shift. Evangelicals are now talking about some social justice issues including poverty and the environment. They still owe me a constitutional government complete with checks and balances, and I would like a damn apology for this war. But this is better than where we were even a year and a half ago.

October 26, 2007

Friday continued

Just a couple of more items. First is another reason why religion in politics is such a bad idea. I used to assume that religious conservatives were moral. I guess I grew up that way. And so many people around me growing up were and are highly moral and principled people. Bush and those religious conservatives supporting him have all undermined that belief. As I have said repeatedly, the fact that religious conservatives have been silent on torture has completely undermined many of my assumptions.

But not all. I have to admit that because Mike Huckabee is a nice guy, funny and charming, I just assumed that he was a highly principled person. I knew I disagreed with him on many issues and shudder that we could have a President who doesn't believe in evolution overseeing how science dollars are spent (as if our current president isn't bad enough), but basically assumed that he would bring a genuine morality to the office. His attack on Hillary over the Moveon Petraeus ad was a warning, but The American Spectator suggests that he has serious ethical problems:
Fourteen times, the ethics commission -- a respected body, not a partisan witch-hunt group -- investigated claims against Huckabee. Five of those times, it officially reprimanded him. And, as only MSNBC among the big national media has reported at any real length, there were lots of other mini-scandals and embarrassments along the way.

He used public money for family restaurant meals, boat expenses, and other personal uses. He tried to claim as his own some $70,000 of furniture donated to the governor's mansion. He repeatedly, and obstinately, against the pleadings even from conservative columnists and editorials, refused to divulge the names of donors to a "charitable" organization he set up while lieutenant governor -- an outfit whose main charitable purpose seemed to be to pay Huckabee to make speeches. Then, as a kicker, he misreported the income itself from the suspicious "charity."

Huckabee has been criticized, reasonably so, for misusing the state airplane for personal reasons. And he and his wife, Janet, actually set up a "wedding gift registry" (they had already been married for years) to which people could donate as the Huckabees left the governorship, in order to furnish their new $525,000 home.
I am sure some of this can be explained. But all of it? And shame on me for simply assuming that a Baptist minister (no offense to Tony) is more moral than the other politicians in this mix.


And speaking of politicians, let me say the first positive thing on this blog about Fred Thompson. His support of Scooter Libby was and is indefensible. And his other defense of the Bush administration tactics makes him unelectable in my mind. But at least he disagrees with Cheney:
"Thompson agreed that he didn't share the views of Vice President Cheney when it comes to the supremacy of the executive branch.

"No, I think the constitution in times of war, especially, is very definitive about that," he said. "The president is the commander in chief, but the Congress has the power of the budget. The power of the purse. So everything has to go through that prism. So it’s divided power in the constitution. Our founding fathers divided that up. Divided it up at the federal level, the idea being that things like Watergate should be made very difficult to happen. So no one branch of the government can misuse power.""
Now if Republicans would only live by these ideals.

More Democratic spine

The TPM DOCUMENT COLLECTION - Letter from Senate Judiciary Committee to Michael Mukasey re: waterboarding

Shorter version. Here is what it is, now why in the hell can't you admit it is torture? Oh right. Cheney told you not to.

Friday morning (updated)

Couple of notes. The weather has turned cool and crisp here in Oklahoma and we are loving it. We invested in some new windows over the last few years and this is our first cold weather will all the windows and attic insulation. Last night, the temp dropped down to the mid 30s and both of us talked about how much warmer it seemed. We are doing the best we can on our own footprint, and that is a nice little bonus.


Coming up on two years of yoga for me this November. I think I expected to be further along in my flexibility, but I also don't think I can see my own progress. I have certainly had less back problems in the last few years, and think that my hamstrings are starting to loosen. I can touch my toes (even cold) which I could not do when I started.

All of that is good, but I must say that the real bonus has been the new friends. Some of the best people I know, I know because of yoga.


Ok, now for the damn news. Andrew Sullivan had the best line describing Rudy Giuliani the other day: "a short man in search of a balcony." Not only has Rudy made an entire career out of 9-11, (At least Toby Keith had a few hit singles prior to using the disaster to sell barbecue) but he seems to be bending over backward to embrace the failed policies of the Bush administration--including hiring neocons to oversee his Middle East policy. Then the other day he was asked about torture and responded:
"It depends on how it's done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it. "
A conservative recently reiterated to me that we have lost moral absolutes (he said based on the Bible) and have slid into moral relativism. I am still waiting to hear how this explains the conservative justification of torture. People who told me that liberals were moral relativists have bent their own moral compass to justify everything from pre-emptive war, to constitutional violations, to the torture of other human beings. I must say, at this point in my life, I am not terribly impressed with conservatives lecturing me on moral relativism.


Speaking of such moral clarity (or lack of it) I am still amazed that Bush and his crowd want to give some kind of blanket immunity to the telecoms, except, of course to cover their own ass. Blatantly counter to our system, of course, and ridiculous given we still don't know the extent of the crimes committed. Bushco says none--of course, they are ass-deep in this. Kind of like the wolf assuring the farmer that the chicken-house security is fine.

So, it is good news, and credit to Chris Dodd, that some Democrats are growing spines. Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Obama Camp Says It: He'll Support Filibuster Of Any Bill Containing Telecom Immunity. I think the Democrats misunderstand their low poll numbers. They are low because they give in to Bush. More bowing and scraping to these idiots won't help their poll numbers.


Update. I think John McCain is a tool, but at least on torture he has been consistent. Melissa Rogers catches his response to Rudy's "its okay if we do it" take:
"“Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot and being used on Buddhist monks as we speak,” said McCain after a campaign stop at Dordt College here.

“People who have worn the uniform and had the experience know that this is a terrible and odious practice and should never be condoned in the U.S. We are a better nation than that.”"

October 24, 2007

No Demagoguery here

Bush defended his torture policy again the other day. Of course, he claims that we don't torture, though he can't define it:
"Q The word “torture.” What’s your definition?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s defined in U.S. law, and we don’t torture.
Q Can you give me your version of it, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever the law says."

But he sure can defend it:
"'"This program has produced critical intelligence that has helped us stop a number of attacks -- including a plot to strike the U.S. Marine camp in Djibouti, a planned attack on the U.S. consulate in Karachi, a plot to hijack a passenger plane and fly it into Library Tower in Los Angeles, California, or a plot to fly passenger planes into Heathrow Airport and buildings into downtown London," Bush said.

"Despite the record of success, and despite the fact that our professionals use lawful techniques, the CIA program has come under renewed criticism in recent weeks. Those who oppose this vital tool in the war on terror need to answer a simple question: Which of the attacks I have just described would they prefer we had not stopped?""
Nevermind that some of those plots have disappeared into neocon fantasy. Just note that this is how Bush's mind works, and always has. Anyone who is not with him is against him. Anyone who disagrees with his policies wants the terrorists to kill people. It is abusive and manipulative language.

Update. And according to a new book Bush and Rumsfeld played an active role in our torture policy--directly ordering aggressive interrogation techniques.


Updated again. Sunday Forum: Two problems with torture. Not to give it away, but the two problems are that torture is wrong, and doesn't work.

Huckabee is starting to bug me

Of course, I am not a Republican and likely won't vote for one until the GOP repudiates the Bush administration's tactics and policies, but Mike Huckabee is really starting to annoy me:
"During the Republican debate, Mike Huckabee said he believes one of the defining issues facing the country is the sanctity of human life. Arguing that the issue is of historical importance, he invoked the Declaration of Independence's rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and said that most of the signers of the declaration were clergymen.

Not even close."
This is the need to appropriate the past for conservative Christianity. That really bugs me. Were Christians involved in early American history? Absolutely. For good and for ill. But this country is not solely the property of conservative Christianity and every time they claim it they do an injustice to our history and to our contemporary political dialogue.

October 23, 2007

Not a bad thing

Via Tony, this concise defense of separation of church and state. When did that become some kind of bad thing?

October 22, 2007

Bush's compassion?

Two stories from C&L that point to serious disconnect between the supposed morality of this President and his policies. First, just a note on how Bush's economy is effecting people not connected to Haliburton:
"The calculus of living paycheck to paycheck in America is getting harder. What used to last four days might last half that long now. Pay the gas bill, but skip breakfast. Eat less for lunch so the kids can have a healthy dinner.

Across the nation, Americans are increasingly unable to stretch their dollars to the next payday as they juggle higher rent, food and energy bills. It's starting to affect middle-income working families as well as the poor, and has reached the point of affecting day-to-day calculations of merchants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 7-Eleven Inc. and Family Dollar Stores Inc.

Food pantries, which distribute foodstuffs to the needy, are reporting severe shortages and reduced government funding at the very time that they are seeing a surge of new people seeking their help."
The ripple effects are also scary. People are cutting fruits and vegetables out of their diet because of the expense, which means that nutrition suffers. And how does the President feel about this? Hoover-esque:
"An unidentified low-income senior explained to the president that, in his last two budgets, he has tried to eliminate the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), terminating food assistance to 420,000 low-income seniors in an average month. Bush joked about not knowing anything about the program, or the budget cuts, before asking, “Why did you ask that question?”

The senior stuck to the point: “With a half-a-million seniors who rely on this food, and the food stamp benefit for seniors who live in poverty, it comes nowhere near this benefit that they receive — how do we make sure that our seniors have the food that they need?”

BUSH: Well, where do you get most of your food from in the food bank? Private donations, right?

Q Well, we’re fortunate, yes.

BUSH: Yes. That’s the way it ought to be. Food banks ought to be supported through the generosity of individuals."
And there is more:
Q The supplemental commodity food program — there’s nothing to replace it with. Food stamps aren’t going to work and we’re talking about folks who live in poverty –

BUSH: Right.

Q They already made all the mistakes which they can’t fix –

BUSH: Yes, look, if somebody is poor, we want to help them. And the fundamental question is what’s the proper balance between federal help and private help. And when it comes to food banks, look, I don’t know the program. Maybe I shouldn’t make this admission, maybe I should try to bull my way through. I don’t know the program; I’m sorry. I’ll be glad to look into it. But just from a philosophical perspective, one of the wonderful things about the country is when there’s a need, the average citizen steps up and helps fill the need through private charity. And your program, I suspect, really functions well because the food bank is a dear cause for people. People say, how can I love my neighbor? Well, one way to love your neighbor is the food bank.

And the truth of the matter is I suspect that if seniors are suffering here in Lancaster County and you put out the call, people are going to help.
This is Bush's answer. If local food banks can't help, then the elderly poor are on their own. As this blogger put it:
This is what the White House used to call the “ownership society.” If you’re a low-income senior who needs food, you “own” your poverty, and it’ll be up to others who “own” food to give you a hand. If they don’t? You’ll “own” your hunger, which no one can take away from you.

I’m being flippant — and given the subject matter, perhaps I shouldn’t be — but I found Bush’s response quite striking. Here was an elderly person who can’t work, but wants to eat to survive. The president not only failed to justify his budget priorities, he also admitted that he doesn’t see any reason for the government to worry about whether seniors living in poverty get food or not — that should be up to the kindness of strangers.

This from the man who made “compassionate conservatism” a basis for his campaign.

Book banning

Sadly, No! points us to a Focus on the Family discussion about "Banned Books Week." Suffice it to say, they don't like that term and ask, "Is Banned Books Week about censorship or parents’ rights?"

This does seem like a fundamental question. Jillian (the blogger from Sadly, No!) answers:
"Let’s help them out here, shall we? Banned Books Week is about censorship. If you don’t want your child to read a book, then you simply forbid them to check it out from the library. If they disobey you and read it anyway, then you have a parenting problem. "
I remember reading "Catcher in the Rye" simply because it was on a banned book list, so perhaps I am not the one to address this. And not being a parent, I can't be too flip about this, but it does appear to be censoring for all, as opposed to saying "I don't want my kids to read this." It reminds me of school prayer where it sure seems like Christian parents (who already get to pray with their kids at home) are not so much wanting them to pray, but that heathen kid from down the street. And maybe it is my lack of parenting experience that makes me ask this, but why do parents fear that their kids will read one book and then reject their parental influence? Does it work that way?

Seriously, I want to know.

October 20, 2007

Romney at "Panderfest"

Tony has blogged about this recently--"that" being evangelicals supporting (or not) Mitt Romney for President with the kicker being his Mormon faith. I am not a fan of the Mormon Church as an institution, and I find the faith not very convincing. But the bigger problem appears to me that evangelical voters are rather, um, whorish. And selectively so. They appear willing to vote for whoever as long as they will give them the bullshit campaign speeches. And look at those topics.
"Romney was right on target for what this crowd wanted to hear. Nothing about Iraq, nothing about reinstating the gold standard, nothing about S-CHIP--just abortion, marriage, porn, and families. He even mentioned the fact that he's Mormon and that some people might think he shouldn't be the GOP candidate for that reason rather jokingly, brushing it off as a non-issue. He's figuring his 'family cred' speaks for itself -- I wish I'd tallied how many times the word left his mouth -- and it fared quite well with the crowd."
Even this far into this disastrous war, and given what we know about climate change, this crowd would frankly re-elect George Bush if they had the option--as long as he quoted a few bible verses and pledged to keep hating the gays. He can undermine healthcare for children and is a hero to this crowd. Yet, Romney panders away. Forget that he is Mormon. Let's just recognize what a flip-flopping panderer he is. And that he is exactly the kind of moral voice these people want.


Chris Dodd for President?

He doesn't really have much of a chance--at least right now. He seems like a decent enough guy, but President? I don't know. But then he shows himself apart from just about everyone by standing up against this telecom immunity bill. He has threatened to put a hold on the bill, but Reid (supposedly on our side) has threatened to go around the hold. Why do the telecoms need immunity? Here is how the President explained it:
"Now, the law needs to be changed, enhanced, by providing the phone companies that allegedly helped us with liability protection. So we found common ground there." (emphasis mine)
What the hell did he mean by "allegedly?" If they didn't help the intelligence community, they sure as hell don't need immunity. And if they did nothing wrong, there is no "allegation" to be "alleged."

Maybe we need to give Chris Dodd another look. I heard elsewhere that he raised nearly $150,000 in small donations since taking this stand which suggests what we have suspected--standing up to the Prez is better than not.

October 19, 2007

The Onion on Presidential candidates

Just too funny.

Poll: Bullshit Is Most Important Issue For 2008 Voters

Stay Classy, McCain. Stay Classy.

Remember when we thought McCain was a good Republican? Well, clearly he isn't.
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain took one look at a nursing school's training mannequin and asked if the dummy's name was Hillary.

Campaigning Thursday at the University of South Carolina Upstate nursing school, McCain couldn't resist a swipe at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"I was very glad to meet the dummy, named 'Hillary,'" McCain said to laughter after a tour of the school. "Is that the name?"

Former Joint Chiefs Chair Crowe dies

I have a William Crowe story that is really kind of embarrassing--to me. He taught at OU for a while and I rode the elevator with him one time. I was a little nervous and said, "You are Admiral Crowe, right?" He nodded. I said "I loved you on Cheers." Referencing, of course, his one appearance on the show. He was very gracious to someone who said such a stupid thing and made some kind of comment about how that one appearance overshadowed his career.

It was a funny moment, though I have always regretted the trivial comment. Like I said, I was nervous. But I genuinely admired the man and it was rather thrilling to be in the elevator with someone of his experience.
Talking Points Memo | Former Joint Chiefs Chair Crowe dies: "In the early 1960s, Crowe turned down a chance for assignment to nuclear submarines to study for a doctorate in politics and international affairs at Princeton. Angered by Crowe's decision, Adm. Hyman Rickover, the autocratic head of the nuclear Navy, turned against him.

For his part, Crowe said the studies transformed him. 'As I studied political science at Princeton, I began to learn that things aren't black and white, they're usually gray,' he said later.

Back in uniform, he angered a Pentagon superior by suggesting a policy change. 'He called me in and said, `We didn't send you to graduate school to come back here with a lot of ideas on how to run the Navy. What we sent you to graduate school for is to come back here and help us perfect and articulate what we want better. But we're not interested in your original thinking.''"
He later endorsed Bill Clinton for President and was angered by Republican attacks on Clinton's lack of service in Vn. I can only imagine what he thought of the Swift Boat ads and the attacks on Max Cleland. This man served Reagan and Bush as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and served his country with distinction. In the modern political world, Rush Limbaugh would call him names, but he is the stuff that makes me proud to be an American. He will be missed.

October 18, 2007

Finally, someone agrees with me, dammit

Thanks to CIL for this story, though I am puzzled why he thought to send it to me:
"Regular swearing at work can help boost team spirit among staff, allowing them to express better their feelings as well as develop social relationships, according to a study by researchers.
Heh. Reading from my relationship/employment/survival manual, are they?

I love swearing. I must admit it. But, as this next graph shows, that doesn't mean it is appropriate everywhere.
The pair said swearing in front of senior staff or customers should be seriously discouraged or banned, but in other circumstances it helped foster solidarity among employees and express frustration, stress or other feelings.

"Employees use swearing on a continuous basis, but not necessarily in a negative, abusive manner," said Baruch, who works in the university's business school in Norwich.
That last point is huge. Big difference between swearing as humor, swearing as frustration, and swearing as abuse. I think we all know the difference.

Ah, maybe now we see why Bush nominated him

TPMmuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Is Waterboarding Torture? Mukasey: Yes, if It's Torture: "Mukasey has firmly established that he's against torture -- yesterday he even compared it to the Holocaust. But what exactly does that mean? Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked Mukasey if he thought waterboarding was Constitutional. 'If waterboarding is torture... torture is not Constitutional,' he replied.

Whitehouse wasn't satisfied. 'That is a massive hedge.... It either is or it isn't.' Doesn't Mukasey have an opinion on whether waterboarding is torture? He went on to describe the technique, which involves using a wet rag to make the detainee feel like he's drowning. Mukasey replied with the same answer: 'If it amounts to torture, then it is not Constitutional.'"
Hmm. Quite a dodge. As long as Bush can continue to redefine torture, then this AG will go along with him.


But hey, the Republicans can hold their heads up high. They upheld Bush's veto of health insurance for poor kids!!!!
: "The final vote was 273 - 156, 16 votes short of the necessary 2/3 to override Bush’s veto. Democrats Jim Marshall and Gene Taylor crossing the aisle to vote against SCHIP and 44 Republicans voting for SCHIP (which is one less than the initial vote)."
Way to go, GOP. Way to stand up for....

October 17, 2007

Ok, a little more

From the same 'I Am Relevant' press conference:
"Newsweek's Richard Wolffe asked Bush exactly the question I would have asked:

"QUESTION: Thank you, sir. A simple question.

"BUSH: Yes?

"QUESTION: What's your definition of --

"BUSH: It may require a simple answer.

Yes, Mr. President, because most of your answers are so deep and thoughtful. Sigh
"QUESTION: What's your definition of the word torture?

"BUSH: Of what?

"QUESTION: The word torture, what's your definition?

"BUSH: That's defined in U.S. law, and we don't torture.
Me thinks thou protest a bit much...
"QUESTION: Can you give me your version of it, sir?

"BUSH: No. Whatever the law says.""
But he knows we don't do it? Is he deluded or is he simply lying?

Later, this funny moment:
Baker asked if Bush should get tougher with Putin -- and "what it would mean for Russian democracy if, when you leave power -- assuming you do in January 2009 -- (laughter) -- that Vladimir Putin is still in power?"

Bush responded vaguely: "My leadership style has been to try to be in a position where I actually can influence people. And one way to do that is to have personal relationships that enable me to sit down and tell people what's on my mind, without fear of rupturing relations."

Bush added that Putin doesn't like it. "You know, nobody likes to be talked to in a way that may point up different flaws in their strategy."
Yes, that is true. Some of them only give their interviews to Fox or hide in "townmeetings" with the 24% of America who thinks Bush is still great.

Bush: 'I Am Relevant'

No real comment needed is there?
Bush: 'I Am Relevant': "Asked how he found himself vetoing a children's health insurance bill that had passed Congress with bipartisan support, Bush insisted that using a veto is 'one way to ensure I am relevant.'"

Only Bush would think this was a good idea

And it should be "idea" since I am no longer convinced the man thinks at all.
WSJ.com : Contraception Foe Named to Contraception Post: "The Department of Health and Human Services appointed Susan Orr--who has spoken out against contraception--to a post responsible for U.S. contraception programs."
First, the WHO just reported that outlawing abortions didn't stop them (duh) but made them more dangerous. Contraceptives were one of the ways to reduce abortions, which I was informed, conservative Christians care about. Evidently, not enough to actually think this through, mind you. And Second, thanks to President Jesus, we get people appointed to the UN who want to blow it up, people appointed to oversee mine safety who want less, and idiots who oppose birth control to oversee the programs on birth control!

And it gets worse. Yesterday, I read that Bush found a group of 29 percenters in Arkansas. Yes, the man who claims to be driven by principle, can't abide having to answer questions from those who doubt him and constantly seeks out people who agree that vetoing health insurance for poor kids is a good idea. And the group he found must have been in line for a lobotomy elsewhere:
"'One man began by commending Mr. Bush 'on your steadfastness and your faith.' Another concluded by saying, 'Thank you for being my president for the last seven years,' with an emphasis on the word 'my.' A third expressed dismay that Mr. Bush could not run for president again. . . ."
Good Holy God. In what universe is this man a good leader? On NPR I heard that his SCHIP veto is likely to be sustained by idiot Republicans and the polling among Republicans backs them up. 6 of 10 think the veto should be upheld because they think the President has information they don't. Seriously? What in the last 7 years tells you that this man has any information that is sound? Has he been right at all?

At this time, I am sure glad that the President thinks Jesus is his favorite political philosopher. Think what he would do otherwise?

Happy Birthday to SOF

You can send her good thoughts on her blog.

October 16, 2007


SOF tricked me into watching part of cheney's law. I knew most of the story. For all the bashing of lefty blogs, Talking Points Memo and others have done a fantastic job of sorting through all the lies. Jack Goldsmith appeared in much of this piece and that should really bother the conservatives who only listen to Lynn Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Goldsmith has great credentials as a conservative, and for him to have problems with this President and Vice President asserting essentially secret "unlimited" powers should bother conservatives. True conservatives.

October 15, 2007

Great quote

A British writer suggests that the greatest threat to Western democracies is from Western democracies.
To portray Islam as a whole as a concerted threat to western security, and to imply that the West’s democratic institutions and freedoms are not proof against that threat, is absurd and close to treason. Then to demand that western freedoms be dismantled and stored away for the duration of a “war on terror” is to wave the flag of surrender.

This defeatism led the American Congress to allow its president to authorise torture and detention without trial in what Senator Robert Byrd called “the slow unravelling of the people’s liberties”. It enabled a British Home Office to curb free speech and habeas corpus. It arms police, fortifies buildings and impedes the free movement of citizens. It makes every Christian suspicious of every Muslim.

Krugman on the right

And I think he is right on how the right has responded to Gore's Nobel Prize:
"And at National Review Online, Iain Murray suggested that the prize should have been shared with “that well-known peace campaigner Osama bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance.” You see, bin Laden once said something about climate change — therefore, anyone who talks about climate change is a friend of the terrorists.

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job — to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda’s recruiters could have hoped for — the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.

The worst thing about Mr. Gore, from the conservative point of view, is that he keeps being right."

October 14, 2007

Income-Inequality Gap Widens

Income-Inequality Gap Widens - WSJ.com: "The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service. That is up sharply from 19% in 2004, and surpasses the previous high of 20.8% set in 2000, at the peak of the previous bull market in stocks.
The bottom 50% earned 12.8% of all income, down from 13.4% in 2004 and a bit less than their 13% share in 2000.

• Widening Gap: The wealthiest Americans' share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and highlighting the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.
• Behind the Numbers: Scholars attribute rising inequality to several factors, including technological change that favors those with more skills, and globalization and advances in communications that enlarge the rewards available to "superstar" performers whether in business, sports or entertainment.
• Political Fallout: The data pose a potential challenge for President Bush and the Republican presidential field. They have sought to play up the strength of the economy and low unemployment, and the role of Mr. Bush's tax cuts in both. Democrats may use the data to exploit middle-class angst about stagnant wages."
Bush said that we had always had income inequality and said that renewing NCLB was the answer. Yeah, because it has done such a good job. And of course, Bush is not willing to perhaps question his tax cuts for the rich.

Bush and our own complicity

Columnist Frank Rich suggests that we can no longer simply blame this on Bush. Yes, he has lied and tortured, but we have allowed it. And every new revelation that he and Cheney approved torture, or ignored intelligence, or are pushing for expanding the war leads not to public outrage, but to a further yawn as Americans look for a new OJ story or naked pictures of Britney Spears. We find out that our torture manual was written by the Gestapo and the KGB, and shrug.
Call me cynical, but when Laura Bush spoke up last week about the human rights atrocities in Burma, it seemed less an act of selfless humanitarianism than another administration maneuver to change the subject from its own abuses.

As Mrs. Bush spoke, two women, both Armenian Christians, were gunned down in Baghdad by contractors underwritten by American taxpayers. On this matter, the White House has been silent. That incident followed the Sept. 16 massacre in Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed by security forces from Blackwater USA, which had already been implicated in nearly 200 other shooting incidents since 2005. There has been no accountability. The State Department, Blackwater’s sugar daddy for most of its billion dollars in contracts, won’t even share its investigative findings with the United States military and the Iraqi government, both of which have deemed the killings criminal.

Rich notes that the American public was fooled into this war by a clever and fear induced campaign that played on our shock of 9-11. He contends that our checks failed--that the press and Congress failed to speak. But now, with all that we know, the American public are as culpable as anyone. Time to hold them accountable for everything from how our troops have been ill-equipped to the free fire zone established for our mercenaries in country, to our continued use of torture techniques. (You didn't think that Bush was telling the truth when he said "we don't torture" did you?)

Sure, the plan was a good one--as far as deluding and deceiving the public.
It was always the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war. Part of this was achieved with the usual Bush-Cheney secretiveness, from the torture memos to the prohibition of photos of military coffins. But the administration also invited our passive complicity by requiring no shared sacrifice. A country that knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch was all too easily persuaded there could be a free war.

Instead of taxing us for Iraq, the White House bought us off with tax cuts. Instead of mobilizing the needed troops, it kept a draft off the table by quietly purchasing its auxiliary army of contractors to finesse the overstretched military’s holes. With the war’s entire weight falling on a small voluntary force, amounting to less than 1 percent of the population, the rest of us were free to look the other way at whatever went down in Iraq.
That may be the phrase that describes America during the Bush war--"They looked the other way." For the first time in our history, our President endorses and defends the torture of other human beings, while saying with a straight smirk that "we don't torture." The American public seems to have forgotten not only the horrors of Nazi Germany, but the more recent knowledge of what the Soviet Union and China did/does to prisoners. I will resent this President for many things, but turning us into our enemies has to be high on the list.
Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It’s up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war’s last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country’s good name.

October 13, 2007

Speaking of Bush

Seems like those those who lost relatives in this disaster deserve a prayer team.
Tears rolled down George W. Bush's cheeks. Twice, Hildi Halley handed him a tissue. Otherwise, she didn't let up on the president.

``I hold you responsible for my husband's death,'' she says she told him as they sat facing one another, alone in a teacher's lounge, their knees almost touching. ``You made a mistake, and it's your responsibility as a Christian man to end this war.''

``I'm really not here to discuss public policy with you,'' she says Bush told her at the meeting in August 2006, two months after her husband, Army National Guard Captain Patrick Damon, died in Afghanistan.

As the president rose to leave after 20 minutes, he said he hoped the visit would help the Falmouth, Maine, woman heal. Halley, 42, replied, ``What would really help my healing is if you'd start finding a way to bring our troops home.''

Bush meets with many relatives, to his credit. What is amazing, however, is that he only seems to hear the resolve of those who mirror his belief in his war. When meeting family members who affirm the war and tell him to continue, that strengthens his resolve, but when he meets with those who are angry about the war, he "doesn't want to talk policy."
Participants and witnesses say the sessions provide a window onto Bush's compassionate side. ``There are few things as heart-wrenching,'' says former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, who attended many meetings. ``Every single time, he'd be moved to tears.''

They also reveal his distaste for engaging those who question his policies. Rather than entering into a substantive debate with angry relatives, he disengages.
Why should he be any different with them than he is any critic of his policies?
Another person who criticized Bush to his face was Elaine Johnson of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Her son, Army specialist Darius Jennings, died with 15 others when their Chinook helicopter was shot down near Fallujah, Iraq, on Nov. 2, 2003.

In her meeting later that month, she says, she repeatedly pressed Bush for a rationale for the war. She says he failed to deliver a satisfactory answer.

`A little Hostile'

``Miss Jones, you sound a little hostile,'' Bush said, according to Jones, who was an industrial quality inspector.

``Of course I feel hostile. My only son was killed and I can't get an answer,'' Jones, 44, says she replied.

Bush moved on to a different cluster of family members in the large meeting room at Fort Carson in Colorado. As Bush departed, Jones says, she tried again.

``Could you tell me what is the mission?'' she called out. Bush didn't respond.

This isn't resolve. It is denial.

Little sluggish this morning

Just worn out, I think. This week I turned in a course development proposal, another application to change a course's status, finished grading two sets of exams and papers, and gave another exam and paper assignment. Oh, and finished up one course. Then I finished the week helping a former student on a documentary project.

We finished the week with a lovely sushi dinner at the home of our good friends. But I am still in first gear this morning, and that may not change until Monday morning. Of the next week.


Saw that former commander Ricardo Sanchez has some sharp criticisms for this war. How long until Fox News and Glenn Beck say he is a traitor?

The Washington Note: "~ In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top American commander called the Bush administration's handling of the war incompetent and warned that the United States was "living a nightmare with no end in sight."
~ "After more than fours years of fighting, America continues its desperate struggle in Iraq without any concerted effort to devise a strategy that will achieve victory in that war-torn country or in the greater conflict against extremism," Mr. Sanchez said, at a gathering here of military reporters and editors.

~ "There was been a glaring and unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders," he said, adding later in his remarks that civilian officials have been "derelict in their duties" and guilty of a "lust for power.""


And evidently there are people within the CIA who think the same thing
it turns out that a former senior CIA legal official quit in protest over the administration’s use of “enhanced interrogations.” This official, whose name I have promised not to publish, previously worked as a deputy IG for investigations under Frederick Hitz, who served as CIA IG between 1990 and 1998. From there, the official moved on the CIA’s Office of General Counsel.

What’s interesting is that this official was generally known as something of a hardliner. I haven’t been able to pin down the date of his departure, which may have occurred a year ago or more. However, the sources tell me he couldn’t stomach what he deemed to be abuses by the Bush Administration and stepped down from his post.
Hardliner who finds Bush/Cheney too much. How does he still have this image?

More telling, perhaps is how this CIA insider explained the divide within the agency.
This person went on to describe a split at the CIA, saying, “There’s an SS group within the agency that’s willing to do anything and there’s a Wehrmacht group that is saying, ‘I’m not gonna touch this stuff’.”
Given that we learned the phrase "enhanced interrogation" from the Nazis, how nice that the entire comparison is in use.


Speaking of Bush and faith, when I searched for that above image, I ran across a website devoted to praying for Bush. In fact, it is called "prayforbush.com." And while I have no problem with people praying for this man (God knows I have prayed that he not invade another country or undermine our Constitution any more), the way they see him is straight out of fantasy land.
"While many politicians flaunt their "faith" and claim to be Christians, not as many live their faith, with Jesus Christ living in them. We believe George W. Bush is a man after God's own heart. He is a man who lives in Christ, and obeys God. Like King David, he is not perfect, but he is repentant, humble, and full of the mighty courage that results from trusting the Lord. We believe George W. Bush is a merciful gift from the Lord to an undeserving people. We ask you to join us in constant prayer for our President, his family, his administration, and his country. "
Created in 2000, this website really displays how much poeple thought they were voting for one of theirs. Or, as they say on their "about" page:
"We believe more prayer went into Election 2000 than for any other election in recent memory, and we believe the only reason George W. Bush is President is because of the prayers of the Saints, and the unmerited favor given to us by God."
Now, with torture, war and attacks on our Constitution, I wonder how many of them still think that Bush is a man of God? As I have said multiple times, when I first heard of the torture allegations, I said this would cause problems with the religious conservative base. And I can't tell you how disappointed I am to be so very wrong about that.

October 11, 2007

Thursday morning blogging

In the middle of a hectic week. Or toward the end. Hell, I can't tell. Anyway, this morning, I am still uncomfortable after last night's Daily Show. I have never liked Lynn Cheney, and seeing her on the show didn't help.

But in the news, I can't help but remind everyone that Bush has turned us into a torture nation. I can't quite get over that. I can't quite put that together with conservative evangelicals rallying around this man as some representative Christian. Who can forget when "values voters" chastized the rest of us, bragged about how church goers voted for Bush in huge numbers, and books like The Faith of George W. Bush were everywhere. Well, evidently the "faith" of George W. Bush allows him to subvert he constitution, American and International law, and have his administration issue an "expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency."


One of Sully's readerswrites in
Number One: The government of the United States of America is torturing human beings.
Number Two: The "evidence" gained from this torture, from any torture, is deeply suspect. We have sold our soul for nothing.
Number Three: We should be willing to die for the freedoms we hold so dear. We should be willing to die for the Constitution. From the beginning, we have asked Americans to spend their lives to preserve the ideals of liberty. Yet today, we hysterically trade those ideals for fleeting security. We tell ourselves not to worry about the Constitution, or habeas corpus, because American lives are worth more than that.
They are not.

Sullivan adds to his reader:

I would add a fourth: we didn't exactly decide these things at all. They were decided for us - and for generations of Americans and Westerners - in secret, by a handful of people, pushed through against the law, against the advice of many decent people in the government, and then lied about systematically. Yes, by re-electing the Decider, we perpetuated it, and we knew what was at stake at the time. But this was ultimately a function of ceding the rule of law to the rule of one man - not for a one-off emergency, but permanently, indefinitely, because this war has no end, and the Republican establishment believes that the president has no limits on his power in a permanent state of war.


In other news, the right wing blogosphere and punditry continues to amaze. Malkin and company continue attacks on the Frost family (who the Democrats used to put a face on the SCHIP program). As I have said, I think the SCHIP program is a solid one and a nice use of government to try and mitigate against the rising cost of healthcare. I am increasingly frustrated at how so many conservatives seem to dismiss the fact that we have nearly 50 million Americans uninsured, and that adds to all our costs. But even if you disagree with the program--criticize the program. Malkin and others have stalked this family to find some reason to undermine their message. They have gone after the messenger, not the program it self. As one moderate put it:
"But no, it’s easier to go after a 12 year-old. After all, these days, anyone who is in the way of an agenda has to be discredited so that no one listens to them anymore. Yet, once upon a time, American society would pull out all stops not to go after a kid. The bar has been lowered yet again. This time it has been lowered so far, it has struck oil amid the sleaze"


Finally, back on the theology of gender, Martin Marty speaks out on the Baptist effort to push women back into the mythical 1950s (Paige Patterson style):
"Because this is a "women-only" curricular track, one is tempted to shout "discrimination" and call in the feds. Yet the separation-of-church-and-state ethos would protect the seminary from legal enforcement. Only God's inspired word in the Bible should count. And precisely here is where one worries about the Bible sources and these Baptists. The seminary courses are on clothing construction, textile design and meal preparation. In the Bible these tasks were as much part of the family and gender roles of men as of women.

Bible-believing Baptists have to ask: How do we square Matthew 6:25-26 with a 23-hour course on "taking thought for what you should wear" or "eat and drink"? What about the resurrected male Jesus cooking fish and baking bread for the disciples on the beach at the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 9-14)? How about the apostle Paul, who made a living as a tentmaker? From what I know about (us) male ministers today, I'd say that if we cannot cook like Jesus, if we cannot sew like Paul, then it's we who need homemaking lessons. How about men-only or mixed gender courses? They'd be inspired, even biblical."

October 10, 2007


Anyone else watch the Jon Stewart with Lynn Cheney? I think that was the most uncomfortable interview I have ever watched. I thought she might asplode when Jon asked her if Dick had trouble admitting when he was wrong at home. And what the hell was she doing on the show? Are we really the demographic for her book?

Freaked me out. Now I hope I can sleep.

Hmm, Bush bad for Christianity?

That's unpossible. A Christian in India thinks that Bush's war policies have set back Christianity in that country:
"President George Bush is the darling of most born again Christians in the US of A. But in India many regard him as a liability to the Christian cause. His identification as a believer and his advocacy of the war that the rest of the world regards as unjust has embarrassed Christians who are in a minority in India."

October 9, 2007

Patriotism and Stupidity

Evidently, Barak Obama dared to not wear an American flag lapel pin. He said:
"'Patriotism to me, isn't what you wear on your lapel,' the Illinois Democrat said in a statement. 'It's what you carry in your heart. I don't need a pin to certify my love for this country.'"
Of course, the idiots at Fox are up in arms. And not only Sean Hannity, but that crew of complete idiots on their morning "show" won't stop questioning Obama's patriotism.

Just when you think these people can't get dumber. Any idiot can wear a lapel pin. And many do. I think it was Samuel Johnson who said that "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel," yet our country wants to define loyalty and competence purely by these superficial displays.


In other news, I believe I dreamt about Rudy Giuliani last night. I am pretty sure he said something and I asked, "is this about 9-11?"

Race again

At the risk of another attack for somehow painting the entire Republican South as racist, I point you to this Talking Points Memo that is just too funny:
"I don't know how Fred Thompson's naming of former Virginia Sen. George Allen as one his three campaign co-chairs can be seen as anything other than a nod and a wink to a certain brand of racially-charged Republican voters.

As for Allen, he's apparently focused on another run for Virginia governor--and on escaping the shadow of his macaca comment:

"I'm trying to help out candidates in Virginia," [Allen] said, mentioning GOP House member Dave Nutter in the New River Valley and "a fella named Omarh Rajah running for the school board in Chesterfield. We've got some really good folks running."
A fella named Omarh Rajah. Does it make me a cynic if I think Allen didn't slip that name in there by accident?

Late Update: The Omarh Rajah campaign website lists his endorsements. Allen's is not among them."

When Republicans attack--updated

Actually, this should be "right wingers" attacking, but the first example is Republican Mike Huckabee. A man, btw, who I would never vote for but have respected. But here (and Colbert had a good bit on him last night) we see that Huckabee responded completely differently to Rush Limbaugh denouncing "phony soldiers" and then calling a wounded vet who did an ad for VoteVets.org a "a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into." You know, like a suicide bomber.

Anyway, Huckabee said that free speech applied to Limbaugh and it wasn't the government's job to tell him what to say. And I agreed completely. As big of a jackass as Limbaugh is, he has the right to be that jackass on the air. (I think Wesley Clark is well within his rights to try to get Limbaugh off Armed Services Radio, but not sure it accomplishes anything).

But wait, let's see how Huckabee responded to the MoveOn.org controversy. He lambasted Hillary Clinton for not supporting a Senate amendment that condemned that MoveOn.org ad. So, while the government rightly should not be involved in telling a jackass talkshow host what or what not to say, they SHOULD tell a group of American citizens what to say in an ad? Come on, Mike.

But then again, Conservatives feel free to challenge the patriotism of the left. See this Chris Wallace interview of Nancy Pelosi
Wallace: You said the other day that you pray for President Bush to change his mind about vetoing SCHIP…Ahhh, do you pray for our soldiers to win in Iraq?

Pelosi: Of, course I do.

Wallace: To win?

Pelosi: Of, course. What a question….
Exactly. What a question.

But that is mild compared to what the right wingers have evidently done in response to a Democrat radio response given by a 12 year old boy who talked about how SCHIP allowed him to get health insurance after a car accident. Right wing bloggers followed by Michelle Malkin went after the kid and his family, saying they were frauds who owned too nice of a house (that they have owned for years and has gone up in value), or went to too nice of a school (on scholarship) or the father owned his own company (which is supposed to make him filthy rich, right?) .

Anonymous Liberal explains why:
"Implicit in the attacks on the Frosts and Michael J. Fox and certain anti-war veterans (and countless other examples) is the notion that if you can someone manage to discredit a spokesperson for a particular policy, then somehow the policy itself will be discredited. That's a really bizarre way of viewing the world, if you think about it. I mean, if Michael J. Fox had been exaggerating his Parkinson's symptoms, as Rush Limbaugh suggested, would that have had any bearing whatsoever on the empirical data suggesting that stem cell research can help lead to treatments for Parkinson's disease? And if it turned out that the Frosts were indeed capable of paying for private health insurance, would that change the undisputed fact that there are thousands of families out there who could not afford health care without S-CHIP? Of course not."

We can credit Bush for at least recognizing that compassion is a good thing, even though he obviously was unable to sustain something approaching "compassionate conservatism." But the veneer of compassion is gone now, replaced by almost open hostility for anyone who isn't conservative enough.

October 8, 2007

UnAmerican idea

Upper Left: "“Just trust us” is not within the American tradition. If anything, it’s an ancient royalist concept of obedience to divinely ordained authority. If all we needed was to trust that our masters were doing the right thing, there would be no need of representation by legislatures, or trial by jury, or a Constitution, or for that matter, the vote."

More Springsteen

This album has caused a bit of a buzz, partially because it is Springsteen, and mostly because it is so political. Salon reviewed it the other day, and yesterday, Bruce found himself on 60 Minutes. I like his music and SOF and I saw him in concert before we were married, so we have a shared connection to his music and even listened to his crappy albums when he disbanded the E Street Band. I thought the Rising was the best post 9-11 album, and just loved his Pete Seeger sessions. I bought Magic last week and think it has some very good songs. I don't think it measures up to his best early work, but it is pretty good. And maybe it is not as good because it is so intensley political. And that is what the 60 Minutes interview focused on. I caught this exchange:
"I guess I would say that what I do is I try to chart the distance between American ideals and American reality. That's how my music is laid out. It's like we've reached a point where it seems that we're so intent on protecting ourselves that we're willing to destroy the best parts of ourselves to do so," Springsteen says.

Asked what he means, Springsteen tells Pelley, "Well, I think that we've seen things happen over the past six years that I don't think anybody ever thought they'd ever see in the United States. When people think of the American identity, they don't think of torture. They don't think of illegal wiretapping. They don't think of voter suppression. They don't think of no habeas corpus. No right to a lawyer … you know. Those are things that are anti-American."

"You know, I think this record is going to be seen as anti-war. And you know there are people watching this interview who are going to say to themselves, 'Bruce Springsteen is no patriot,'" Pelley remarks.

"Well, that's just the language of the day, you know? The modus operandi for anybody who doesn't like somebody, you know, criticizing where we've been or where we're goin'," Springsteen says. "It's unpatriotic at any given moment to sit back and let things pass that are damaging to some place that you love so dearly. And that has given me so much. And that I believe in, I still feel and see us as a beacon of hope and possibility."

and then this:
"What needs to be said, in this country at this moment, in your opinion, what needs to be said?" Pelley asks.

"I think we live in a time when what is true can be made to seem a lie," Springsteen says. "And what is lie can be made to seem true. And I think that the successful manipulation of those things have characterized several of our past elections. That level of hubris and arrogance has got us in the mess that we're in right now. And we're in a mess. But if we subvert, the best things that we're about in the name of protecting our freedoms, if we remove them, then who are we becoming, you know? Who are we, you know? The American idea is a beautiful idea. It needs to be preserved, served, protected and sung out. Sung out."

October 6, 2007

Abbie plays soccer

For a little fun this Saturday. You can't quite hear it on the video, but she growls when she bites the ball.

Church and this war

With apologies to our favorite and respected resident blog pastor, this critique of how many pastors approached the last 7 years:
I know about the pressures placed on ministers. Every parishioner has his or her own definition of what a minister should be, and no one can live up to them all. Most preachers are nice people who are, according to William Willimon, "quivering masses of availability."

But the gospel demands more--the proclamation of the Kingdom of God that runs counter to the world presented to us by the rich and powerful.

The church in the United States seems more concerned with success than faithfulness. Following Jesus can be harmful to business. It can split a church or separate families. So pastors often cower when faced with the possibility of costly discipleship.

Many pastors felt helpless when faced with the force of patriotism before the Iraq war. They knew that Jesus taught nonviolence, but fear and excitement caused by 9/11 made it very difficult to speak up for peace. Considering their own jobs and comfort zones rather than the call of the gospel or the consequences to others, many preachers remained silent, while others used our Lord's name in calling people to arms.

Well, as long as Bush says it is ok...

Bush defends US interrogation methods - Yahoo! News: '"We stick to U.S. law and international obligations," Bush said, without taking questions after a brief picture-taking session.

Speaking emphatically, the president noted that "highly trained professionals" conduct any questioning. "And by the way," he said, "we have gotten information from these high-value detainees that have helped protect you."

"The American people expect their government to take action to protect them from further attack," Bush said. "And that's exactly what this government is doing. And that's exactly what we'll continue to do.'"

Shorter Bush: "You ingrate. We break moral laws and the Constitution only to protect YOU!"

October 5, 2007

I am tired

Attended a history conference today. Kind of. Actually "crashed" a history conference today to see some people and peruse the books. I noticed one little trend. Since I wore no name tag, I confused and interrupted one of the great conference traditions--tag watching. I had done it myself. You see people looking at the name tags of people watching for names of famous historians (yeah, I know). As a recipient of the look, it goes something like this: Person looks at my name tag, wondering if I am worthy of further attention or possibly introduction. Person sees my name and affiliation and immediately moves on to the next person. No need to look at my face to know I am not important.

It is really funny to watch. But today was hilarious. Not only did I lack a name-tag, but I also wore no tie or jacket. But I know I looked comfortable there, because I was not looking for help or looking through the book for the next session. And I think that confused the name-taggers. They didn't know what to think of me.

I think I will do that again. It was empowering.


Couple of items in the blogs and papers. One, if you didn't see Jon Stewart interview Chris Matthews the other night, it was a gem. Jon suggested that a book called "Life's a Campaign" was all about strategy, not about doing good. He said the book was "about sadness."


The Anonymous Liberal has an interesting quote from someone who used to be a Republican on why he was changing:
"Like me. It had nothing to do with Burke, and everything to do with what the party had become. A bunch of bedwetting, loudmouth, corrupt, hypocritical, and incompetent boobs with a mean streak a mile long and no sense of fair play or proportion. . . .

Screw them. I got out. They can have their party. I will vote for Democrats and little L libertarians and isolationists until the crazy people aren’t running the GOP. The threat of higher taxes in the short term isn’t enough to keep me from voting out crazy people and voting for sane people with whom I merely disagree regarding policy. Hillarycare doesn’t scare me as much as Frank Gaffney having a line to the person with the nuclear football or Dobson and company crafting domestic policy."
Heh. Crazies and Dobson and company. Exactly.


Paul Krugman has an interesting observation on why Bush stumbles so much when he speaks, but not all the time:
"Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration."


Finally, after nearly 7 disastrous years, even Republicans are starting to recognize that Bush has not exactly been a uniter. Or even competent.
Talking Points Memo | Bush leaving some problems to successors: "Dowd said Bush has only to look at himself for why he didn't fulfill his promise. His unwillingness to admit mistakes and inattention to building relationships with lawmakers of both parties helped put success out of reach, Dowd said.
'Most of the responsibility _ I don't want to use the word blame _ is at his doorstep. It has to be,' Dowd said. 'In the end, he is the leader, elected twice, with Congress at times in his own party.'"
Funny, when I said that in 2004, conservatives shushed me and focused on John Kerry's flip-flopping.


And finally, this which perhaps suggests that I might have been right when I said back in 04 that Bush was bad for evangelicals. Evidently, young non-Christians see Christians increasingly negatively:
"Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late teens and twenties said they have a 'good impression' of Christianity.

One of the groups hit hardest by the criticism is evangelicals. Such believers have always been viewed with skepticism in the broader culture. However, those negative views are crystallizing and intensifying among young non-Christians. The new study shows that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable views of evangelicals."

Jon Swift on torture

Jon Swift: The Torture Race: "To even call some of these things torture is an insult to torture, according to The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb. "The Times indicts the Bush administration for exposing terrorists captured abroad to 'head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.' Boo hoo," he writes in a piece called "Trivializing Torture."

As Jules Crittenden points out, "Article neglects to mention we are fighting an enemy that considers powerdrills into kneecaps and videotaped beheading of captives business as usual. That in fact, we have yet to face an enemy in the modern era that observes anything approaching the standards we do." The Times, he says, would have us fight the War on Terror with "one hand tied behind back." (Apparently, a malfunction in Mr. Crittenden's word processor rendered him incapable of typing definite articles on the day he wrote this post.)

Mr. Crittenden makes an important point. As long as we can say the terrorists are worse than we are, we have the moral high ground. "

Bush, feh

Eugene Robinson is a pretty reliable columnist and I think his take on the Bush veto is particularly good.
As for me, I don't know what to call the president's rationale but a pack of flat-out lies.

The president said Congress was trying to "federalize health care," even though the program in question is run by the states. The president said that "I don't want the federal government making decisions for doctors and customers," even though the vetoed bill authorizes no such decisions -- the program enrolls children in private, I repeat, private, health insurance plans.

And here's my favorite: "This program expands coverage, federal coverage, up to families earning $83,000 a year. That doesn't sound poor to me." But the bill he vetoed prohibits states from using the program to aid families who make more than three times the federal poverty limit, or about $60,000 a year for a family of four. Most of the aid would go to families earning substantially less.
Robinson makes the obvious point that Bush invoking fiscal responsibility is ridiculous. He rubber stamped every spending bill that the Republicans put forward. But what is even more frustrating is that this man claims to be standing on principle. The same principle, let me remind you, that allowed him to allow Cheney and Addington to turn us into a torturing nation.

Damn glad he is so "principled."


October 4, 2007

Torture, Continued

What some others have to say about the recent relevations about who we are under Bush. I guess the "W" stands for "torture."
Torture, Continued"An essential component of the rule of law is transparency. The laws must be knowable, not only so that people can structure their behavior with fair warning, but also to prevent government officials from engaging in abuses of power. The Bush Administration has used the shibboleths of terrorism and national security to violate this basic principle.

"The Administration said, 'Trust us.' And then this is what they did in secret."

Georgetown University law professor Marty Lederman blogs: "I am increasingly confident that when the history of the Bush Administration is written, this systematic violation of statutory and treaty-based law concerning fundamental war crimes and other horrific offenses will be seen as the blackest mark in our nation's recent history -- not only because of what was done, but because the programs were routinely sanctioned, on an ongoing basis, by numerous esteemed professionals -- lawyers, doctors, psychologists and government officers -- without whose approval such a systematized torture regime could not be sustained."

Blogger Digby writes: "I am still stunned that we are talking about the United States of America issuing dry legal opinions about how much torture you are allowed to inflict on prisoners. Stories like this one are the very definition of the banality of evil --- a bunch of ideologues and bureaucrats blithely committing morally reprehensible acts apparently without conscience or regret."

Blogger Hilzoy writes: "The techniques in question are repugnant. But in many ways, the administration's disregard for the law is worse. When your policies violate treaties you have signed and laws that are on the books, you are not supposed to come up with some clever way of explaining that appearances to the contrary, what you're doing is not illegal at all. You're supposed to stop doing it. When Congress decides to pass a law banning 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' treatment, you are supposed to stop engaging in such treatment, not to redefine 'cruel, inhuman and degrading' so that it doesn't apply to anything you want to do."

Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon: "Congress could aggressively investigate. Criminal prosecutions could be commenced. Our opinion-making elite could sound the alarm. New laws could be passed, reversing the prior endorsements and imposing new restrictions, along with the will to enforce those laws. We still have the ability to vindicate the rule of law and enforce our basic constitutional framework.

"But does anyone actually believe any of that will be the result of these new revelations? We always possess the choice -- still -- to take a stand for the rule of law and our basic national values, but with every new day that we choose not to, those Bush policies become increasingly normalized, increasingly the symbol not only of 'Bushism' but of America."

At least Bush loves Jesus

Or so he claims.

And I should be grading. But have to take a break from some breathtakingly bad papers. Two items that just cry out for discussion and anguish. The first is an old one. Despite all of his claims to Christian beliefs, George Bush has allowed the US to authorize torture. And now, the realization that Bush's justice department issued several secret rulings allowing torture:
"But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard."

And it gets worse. Some have suggested that the inspiration for these techniques came from our former enemies, but read here:
Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

With virtually no experience in interrogations, the C.I.A. had constructed its program in a few harried months by consulting Egyptian and Saudi intelligence officials and copying Soviet interrogation methods long used in training American servicemen to withstand capture. The agency officers questioning prisoners constantly sought advice from lawyers thousands of miles away.
Isn't that just lovely. Copying Soviet methods and learning from the Saudis on better interrogation techniques. Because the Saudis are well known for their respect for civil liberties.

Every new revelation makes me more and more ill. This president has allowed our country to become a torturing nation. WWJD indeed?


But it isn't just in foreign policy. Bush has decided to address spending by trying to end the Iraq war. No, of course not. He ignores the billions and billions spent in this mistake of a war, but has decided to veto an increase in health insurance for children. As Paul Krugman pointed out months ago, Bush's objection is not that this policy would work, but because it would work. It would put more children in health coverage and he opposes that. In addition, Bush changed the rules to further limit those with access to SCHIP. Yes, by all means Some 50 million Americans have no insurance, and our President is adding to the numbers.

I feel ill this morning.

October 3, 2007

Conservative? Or Authoritarian?

I think we know the answer to this question. But Jack Goldsmith, the conservative law professor who worked in the White House for a short period, adds to what we know.
'The Terror Presidency' by Jack Goldsmith - Los Angeles Times:When Goldsmith went to the White House to deliver his first opinion as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he argued that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs the conduct of occupying powers, did in fact cover the U.S. treatment of Iraqi insurgents. Addington exploded, "The president has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections. You cannot question his decision."

On another occasion, in spring 2004, Goldsmith was asked to evaluate an "important counterterrorism initiative." When he told the White House that "the Justice Department could not support the initiative's legality," Addington reacted "in disgust," snapping, "If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands."
Addington is, of course, Dick Cheney's right hand man.

October 1, 2007

Hmm--some very conservative thoughts on Ron Paul and the GOP

We have noted that many conservatives see Bush as someone who has bastardized the concept, and this commentator takes that approach to address why many Christians have not supported Ron Paul. The big reason, he suggests, is Paul's opposition to the war. On that we agree. And we agree that the Bush admin so bungled this approach to war that we have no real clear reason why we went to war, and so no way to quantify why we won or lost it. We agree completely.

We also agree when he suggests that in supporting Bush, we have given up numerous civil rights:
A really odd thing about this war is that, under the guise of fighting terrorism, American citizens have lost many of their Constitutional protections. We are now subjected to unconstitutional surveillance as if we are guilty before proven innocent. Our phones are tapped, our emails read, our banking records monitored, and such. All without a warrant, despite the fact that it's easy for them to obtain a warrant when one is remotely necessary. If anyone (even you or I) is declared an "enemy combatant" (which can be arbitrarily declared by the president) you lose your right to habeas corpus, charges, a speedy jury trial, evidence, appeal, conviction, representation, and the presumption of innocence. You can be arrested without cause or charges given and imprisoned for an indeterminate amount of time. Those are the tactics of the Soviet Gulag or Red China. How comfortable will you feel with these powers in the hands of President Hillary? Why in the world should we willingly give up our freedoms so those nasty terrorists don't take them from us? Why don't all you war-on-Iraq supporters give me all your money before some criminal steals it? It's the same logic.
Where we part company, I realized, is his assumption that this war was illegal. He suggests that all wars since WW2 have been illegal because of the lack of congressional declaration. I understand the point, but would suggest that with all due respect, I am not sure that is the problem here. Had Bush demanded an act of war, given the state of fear that Rove/Cheney/Bush encouraged, I have no doubt the Republican dominated Congress would have obliged. I would further suggest that the authorization that so many people approved--while not technically a declaration, functioned as one.

No, I don't think we can blame this on Bush violating the Constitution--at least in this particular case. We can certainly blame him and his people for misleading the American people, and we can certainly blame him for appealing to people's fear, but ultimately, we have to recognize that our democratic system failed us here. Bush didn't break the law to pass the Patriot Act, but it still passed. Bush didn't break the law to pass the Military Commissions Act either. Both violate basic constitutional protections, but both were approved by our representatives.

For me the issue is the failure of our democratic process. We allowed this man to do this. As much as we will loathe him and what he has done, we have to take responsibility for sitting by while he undermined our system.