November 30, 2007

Heh--Rudy angry


Angry Rudy Refuses To Answer Questions, Aides "Unusually Physical" With Reporters - Politics on The Huffington Post

And that photo is just too damn funny. Rudy is a wackjob and a dangerous one. On foreign policy he sounds like Bush on steroids. Yet as a Mayor and as a person, he exemplifies the morality of a Tom Delay. Ruthless to the core. Sully said it best when he called him "a small man in search of a balcony."

More liberal media

Oh wait.

Glenn Greenwald has been writing about Time magazine (and the aforementioned Joe Klein) and how they have resorted to really poor reporting. In Klein's case, he passed on bad information from GOP insiders as if it were fact and then refused to investigate the truth or fiction of the allegation in the legislation itself. As Leighton pointed out, the WaPo demonstrated equally bad journalism by giving the "Obama as Muslim" rumor some credibility by repeating it. Greenwald describes the failing of the media better than I can:
"This is without question one of the most significant problems in how our establishment media functions. They refuse to subject claims -- particularly claims from the GOP power structure and the right-wing noise machine which they fear -- to any critical scrutiny.

For various reasons, they simply will not investigate such claims and, when warranted, identify such claims as false. The most they are willing to do is simply write down each side's claims and treat them equally, even when one side is blatantly lying. GOP operatives know that this is how the press functions and thus know that they can easily get away with spewing lies, and can even recruit the media into helpfully spreading them (using the predominant 'he-said/she-said' template). That's the same process that led us into Iraq, kept us there for so long, protected endless presidential lawbreaking and enabled all sorts of fact-free smears."
The Daily Show has mocked this process very effectively noting that you can simply say that "some say that Jon Stewart has sex with goats" and then note that "others disagree" and leave it at that--as if every side has equal legitimacy. In that context, the holocaust deniers share equal billing with the documented historians, and the creation scientist is perfectly equal to the biologist who studies the process of evolution every day.

But, as Greenwald notes, there are some good examples out there, and this NYT expose of Giuliani's constant lying on the stump is one.
Had this story been reported in accordance with the prevailing establishment media norms -- the type practiced by Time and defended by Romano -- it would have simply been presented as a mindless recitation of what "each side claims", as in: "Some claim that Giuliani has exaggerated his record of accomplishments as Mayor, while Giuliani campaign aides insist that his statements are accurate." But Cooper took the next step -- the one that distinguishes the basic reporting function from the role of propagandists and stenographers: namely, he investigated the competing claims and identified which ones were factually true and which ones were factually false.

Just more Friday outrage

Tony blogs about sweatshop labor making crucifixes aimed for mega-church gift stores and your local mega-Bible Bookstore:
"The report records The Singer Company that markets the crucifixes, part of the Association for Christian Retail, made $4.63 BILLION last year."
The workers take home around 9 cents an hour.

I wonder if Joel Osteen can smile at this story?

This is disturbing

Joe Klein, who I don't care for, actually, blogs about sitting in a Republican focus group during the most recent debate. The focus people turned little dials to demonstrate how they felt about what was being said at the time.
"In the next segment--the debate between Romney and Mike Huckabee over Huckabee's college scholarships for the deserving children of illegal immigrants--I noticed something really distressing: When Huckabee said, 'After all, these are children of God,' the dials plummeted. And that happened time and again through the evening: Any time any candidate proposed doing anything nice for anyone poor, the dials plummeted (30s). These Republicans were hard.

But there was worse to come: When John McCain started talking about torture--specifically, about waterboarding--the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, which, given the natural averaging of a focus group, is about as low as you can go. Afterwards, Luntz asked the group why they seemed to be in favor of torture. 'I don't have any problem pouring water on the face of a man who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11,' said John Shevlin, a retired federal law enforcement officer. The group applauded, appallingly."
If you want to know why my belief in this country and certainly respect for the GOP is falling, you need look no farther. Anyone who can say that about torture (former federal law officer or no) is uninformed and chooses to remain so. What is more, their moral compass has now joined Stalin and the dictators who employ secret police. They don't value democracy, morality, or anything except hatred towards others.

Damn liberal media

Media Matters - CNN's Brown called MoveOn.org "American insurgents": "BROWN: General David Petraeus made his reputation taking on insurgents in Iraq. But when he came to Capitol Hill in September, he was confronted by American insurgents, a liberal anti-war group called MoveOn.org. MoveOn bought this full-page ad in The New York Times. It accused Petraeus of betraying us by cooking the books on progress in Iraq."
Yeah, that's right. MoveOn.org is just like terrorists who blow people up with IEDs.

Heh

Former ORU President Richard Roberts claimed that God told him to not attack his attackers and to resign.
NewsOK: Roberts says God told him to resign: "The word of the Lord came to me again, and said do not consider the dark days of October, but look to the day of thanks,” Roberts said.

The next message came early Thanksgiving morning, when Roberts was praying. “The Lord spoke to me. He said: ‘Resign tomorrow,’” Roberts said.

Roberts stopped speaking to the crowd for a moment. His breathing became heavy and his tears returned. His voice cracked when he began speaking again. “Every ounce” of his flesh told Roberts not to resign, but he said God persisted with an order to “do it tomorrow.”
Evidently God can be very specific to Roberts, but was not very specific in telling him not to use University funds to fly his family on expensive vacations.

November 29, 2007

The Huckabee dodge

Someone else saw it the same way (What would Jesus Dodge?):
Huckabee was dodging a direct question on the very area -- the intersection of religion and policy -- on which he is building his campaign. The man whose ads call him a "Christian Leader" and who says his faith "defines me" wouldn't answer a pretty simple question on how his faith affects his opinion on a policy issue.

And worse, Huckabee uses his nice guy Pastor act to mask something else--being an ass.
Let's take his answer to a question about NASA sending humans to Mars; in his answer, he said, "Now, whether we need to send somebody to Mars, I don't know. But I'll tell you what: If we do, I've got a few suggestions, and maybe Hillary could be on the first rocket to Mars." Everyone laughed. But the best word to describe that crack is is probably "bitchy." It was just a cheap shot, both ugly and shamelessly pandering. It came from a place of hate within Mike Huckabee's heart and those of the audience whose favor he was seeking. But he said it with a smile, so I guess that means it's OK.
The part that bugs me is that the blogger is right. For all the talk about Christian love and compassion, there is a huge well of hatred in the religious right that belies their putative faith. And what makes that worse is that they believe they are more righteous than the rest of us, and therefore less hateful than the rest of us. Which makes Leighton's comment all the more scary--about the rumor circulating (and given some credence by the Wapo) that Obama is a closet Muslim. Ten bucks says that is cycling through religious right email lists and will become part of the dialogue. Either they will hate Hillary or Obama and try very hard to give us another Pastor in chief.

Thursday morning

SOF has been on the road this week, making me Menagerie Keeper. Besides teaching this week, I also brewed a Christmas beer and completed a few work tasks that had been on my plate.

Now to the news.

Nathan points us to this Anna Quindlen column that illustrates the ridiculous quality of our political dialogue. Religious conservatives demand that their politicians hate gays, abortion and evolution, but don't demand that they actually attend to basic human needs:
"The truth is that America is so rich that political leaders could actually produce some variant of that miracle if they had the will. And, I suppose, if they thought there were votes in it. Enough with the pious sanctimony about gay marriage and abortion. If elected officials want to bring God talk into public life, let it be the bedrock stuff, about charity and mercy and the least of our brethren. Instead of the performance art of the presidential debate, the candidates should come to Holy Apostles and do what good people, people of faith, do there every day—feed the hungry, comfort the weary, soothe the afflicted. And wipe down the tables after each seating. Here's a prayer for every politician: pasta, collard greens, bread, cling peaches. Amen."
My frustration with religious conservatives grows with each day. As I have said numerous times, I believe they have replaced reason with "faith" (which means to them what they believe) and refuse to reassess once they have made up their mind. As a result, they seem completely unwilling to reassess how they decided that Bush was a good Christian and would be a good President. I fear, with some reason, that since they don't believe they erred, there is no reason to look at their process, and so means they will likely vote for whoever the GOP throws up there--anti-science, pro-torture--whatever, all framed in religious rhetoric. Ten bucks says that we will all hear Christians justify voting for Rudy or Romney or Huckabee because they "aren't comfortable" voting for a black or woman for President. "America just isn't ready for that."

Yep, but we have been ready, evidently, for an idiot President who has destroyed our constitution.

Sigh.

*****

Speaking of the competition, Mike Huckabee was asked about the death penalty in the GOP debate last night (no I didn't and wouldn't watch--I don't watch the Democratic debates either) and the question was framed as "What would Jesus Do." Huckabee recognized the disconnect for people who are pro-life, but cheer the death penalty, but then dodged and said that there was a difference between killing someone who was judged guilty and an innocent baby. Fine. But what about the race, class and regional biases to capital punishment? And what about those who might be innocent? Anderson Cooper followed up and restated the WWJD part, to which Huckabee responded:
"Jesus was far too smart to seek public office."
Unbelievable, and telling. I think far too many religious conservatives see some kind of purposeful disconnect between actually living the Christian life and acting in politics. One of my friends has suggested that almost directly--that when Bush does bad stuff in office, it doesn't distract from his Christian faith, because that is "part of the job." Huckabee reiterates that here. Instead of addressing what Jesus might actually have to say about difficult issues, he suggests that Jesus would not be political, but then asserts that his faith in Jesus is what makes him the best candidate.

Sigh.

*****

How about the guy leading in national polls? America's Mayor, or The Man Who Loves 9-11. The media tends to ignore a lot about this guy--including the fact that he chose the World Trade Center as the terrorism command center because it was close to his office and he used the site to carry on his affair with his now wife. Turns out that there is more of that type of corruption:
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

It gets worse. Mr. 9-11 is also accused of actually profiting from relationships to people who sheltered terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
The contradictory and stunning reality is that Giuliani Partners, the consulting company that has made Giuliani rich, feasts at the Qatar trough, doing business with the ministry run by the very member of the royal family identified in news and government reports as having concealed KSM—the terrorist mastermind who wired funds from Qatar to his nephew Ramzi Yousef prior to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, and who also sold the idea of a plane attack on the towers to Osama bin Laden—on his Qatar farm in the mid-1990s.
Just imagine the media outcry if that were Hillary Clinton or John Edwards?

I think that is all I can handle today.

November 28, 2007

Elmo and MaHoosomeone

Olbermann was not impressed with Bush's photo op, and neither am I. I am not convinced that he really cares about this, and if he does, why did it take so long? Why did he dismantle the progress from the last administration in this area?

And seriously, can't the man pronounce anything?

November 27, 2007

Back

Tony gave this blog a compliment tonight--asking if we were going to get back to the posting. Sure, it was nice to be nominated for a blog award, but nicer still to have a steady reader suggest that this blog is necessary to understanding the world. Although, the blog awards are pretty nice. And why haven't more of you nominated us for more awards? What the hell are you all doing out there?

Ok, I am still recovering from the last week. But a couple of news items. From Tony himself a good discussion of Mike Huckabee's recent campaign commercial. It seems that many in the GOP have not learned anything from the Bush administration's manipulation of religious imagery. Or at least Mike Huckabee believes that and thinks that he can woo those voters by claiming that his faith is central to his life. I wonder if he claims Jesus as his favorite political philosopher?

Sigh.

Speaking of Bush, I think we were all a bit surprised that he is hosting a Mideast Summit to find some kind of solution for the Israeli/Palestinian problem. I understand that my conservative friends fear that Bush could do nothing to please me....and this will not change their mind. What took him so damn long? Was it the realization that his term was about over and we were going to only think of him in terms of Katrina and Iraq and torture and signing statements? Perhaps.

I still recall his early months in office. I have described it thusly: "he took office with his middle finger aimed at the rest of the world." Double that if Clinton had done anything in that area. 9-11 gave him an unique opportunity, which he used to invade two countries. Only now, with his administration headed for the Harding category does he turn to something he had ignored for 7 years.

Ok, off to bed. More tomorrow.

November 25, 2007

Light blogging

Thanksgiving week and all. I hope you all had a good one. We have been busy. My folks drove in from Colorado for the smoked turkey and good conversations. Or to see us, I am not sure.

But as I said, we were busy. Thursday, after eating, we went to our friends M&M for desert with the Norman family. When you have two pie makers with the ability of SOF and M's sister S, you know you are in for some great food. On Friday, my Dad and I played golf and snuck in 9 holes before it turned chilly. We all sat around and watched OU wax OSU. We had a real nice week and are thankful for our good friends and family.

I think some news happened while we were busy, but that will have to wait. In the meantime, here is a clip from Wilco's ACL show that is just great. I looked for "Handshake Drugs," but until I find a copy, this version of "Impossible Germany" will have to suffice. Nels Cline is just spectacular on this one.

More later.

November 21, 2007

Isn't this interesting?

Good day before Thanksgiving everyone. Or is it Happy Thanksgiving Eve? I can never keep those straight. All I know is that I am looking forward to some turkey. I have heard about people eating other meats for Thanksgiving--in Communism!--but for us and our house, we say "nyet" to that.

And by the way, here is a special thought for all traveling this week. I always think traveling is stressful, and doing so this week is that much more so. So, if you are flying, stay patient and keep the Ipod charged. If you are driving, take care.

Now for the news of today. I saw a blurb about this last night while cooking, but didn't really understand the implications. Evidently, Scott McClellan is naming names, and one of them is named "W."
“I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the seniormost aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby,” McClellan wrote. “There was one problem. It was not true.” McClellan then absolves himself and makes an inflammatory — and potentially lucrative for his publisher — charge. “I had unknowingly passed along false information,” McClellan wrote. “And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself.' "
Watching this admin at the beginning, they seemed so effective at chilling critics. John Dillulio calls them "machiavellian mayberries" and suggests that they politicize everything--yet a week later he backs down completely. Paul O'Neill says that they planned on invading Iraq from the beginning, he is savaged by the machine.

But you can only brutalize critics so long, and you can only punish people like this when you have complete control. In the early days, they did. But now, with the President hovering at 29%, the political power lies elsewhere.

And now, we just get one more reminder that Bush lies and holds us in complete contempt.

November 20, 2007

Top Albums of 2007--3: Neon Bible


Ubub and Foubub introduced us to the Arcade Fire a few ACL Festivals. We were unprepared for the sound and it took a while to adjust. We soon found ourselves listening to many of the tracks off their first full-length album (Funeral) and then looked forward to hearing the new Neon Bible. It did not disappoint. A very dark album, but also very enjoyable. I love the title song as well as the "(Antichrist television blues)," and "Keep the Car Running." As I said, dark, but also very inventive and interesting. Not, perhaps for everyone.

After I wrote this, I noticed that SOF caught the Arcade Fire on ACL. (The week before was Wilco--including the most amazing version of "Handshake Drugs" that I have ever heard). We sat down and watched the set and were reminded of how interesting this band is and how much we really liked their first album as well.

Great album and well worth the listen.

November 17, 2007

I would have thought it would be: "I don't recall."

Gonzales has advice for Mukasey:
"Always do the right thing. Follow the law. That was always my lodestar, my guiding principle, and I’m sure that will guide General Mukasey."
Yeah. Whatever, Al.

November 16, 2007

Yet another reason to dislike Oklahoma State University

And this little fact had eluded me in the past. But huge donor and benefactor for OSU is none other than T. Boone Pickens, who is none other than one of the wealthy right wingers who financed the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry. Turns out Pickens has offered $1M To Anyone Who Can Prove Ads Were Wrong and John Kerry is taking him up on the offer. Or something. Either way, I am cheering against T. Boone Pickens and OSU.

Friday morning

First of all, Happy Statehood Day. Oklahoma Statehood Day, that is. 100 years old, eh? I still think Oklahoma doesn't look a day over 98.

*****

TPMmuckraker reports that Dems finally stood up against the Bush machine and voted against telecom immunity--at least in committee. The stakes are probably not what Bush suggests:
"AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein says that the reason isn't to spare the telecoms financial indemnity, or a matter of 'fairness,' as administration officials claim. Rather, it's to stop some 40 class-action suits against the companies from revealing how massive, how domestic and how illegal warrantless surveillance was between 2001 and 2007. Revelations from those suits could even, hypothetically at least, lead to criminal charges against administration officials and telecom companies."

****

Martin Schram asks how a Bush/Cheney/Rove campaign would look like if it were run today against a President Clinton (either one) who had allowed bin Laden to get away and then frequently videotape threats and taunts to us from Pakistan (our supposed ally).
"We all know the answer: What Bush-Cheney-Rove and company would have done to either Clinton would have made what they did to one-time Vietnam War POW John McCain, triple-amputee Vietnam veteran Max Cleland and Vietnam Purple Heart medalist John Kerry look like a Crawford, Texas, picnic. They would have accused either Clinton of selling out and ducking out, of cutting and running from the vow to get Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda. . . .

"Bush-Cheney-Rove would have had America believing that a President Clinton who had done all of the above had sold America and our Star-Spangled Banner to the terrorists. They would have had us distrusting and despising a president who had been so weak after talking so tough.

"And they would have been right."

******

Some more evidence that evangelicals might be shifting politically:
"Evangelicals, particularly younger evangelicals, are undergoing a shift in attitudes. Many have little interest in the self-destructive purity of the prophet or the raw pragmatism of the kingmaker. They remain culturally conservative, but uncomfortable with a harshly judgmental tone in their politics. They find the model of the religious right too narrow and are increasingly motivated by a broader range of social concerns, from disease in Africa, to the environment, to racial reconciliation. And they want to be a witness to these values instead of a tool in the power games of others."


******

Now for a bit of humor. Thanks to Jadon for pointing to this piece which suggests I am not the only one who thinks those who love Mel's Passion film AND Bush's torture policy might need to rethink things:
"'The subject of our meeting is crucifixion, or as the crowd is calling it, 'hammer boarding,' Pilate announced. 'There has been an outcry by some that the practice is not worthy of a civilized people and possibly ineffective. Some feel the practice may cause us more trouble in the long run. But are there any options?"

November 14, 2007

Nice

Ah, the GOP. Where the Confederacy lives on.

Oh, and I forgot this one

Remembering that the GOP has become the party of torture apologists, Andrew Sullivan finds this:
"A fascinating nugget from American history, unearthed by guest-blogger Shertaugh at the IsThatLegal? blog. Waterboarding was sometimes used in the Deep South to torture African-Americans and to extract false confessions to alleged crimes. And when it emerged in an appeal as long ago as 1926, even the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled it categorically 'a specie of torture well known to the bench and bar of the country,' and 'barbarous.' They over-turned a guilty verdict for murder by an African-American man against a white man because such methods invalidated any notion of a reliable confession"
A 1920s Mississippi court thought it barbaric, but Cheney thinks it is a water ride and most of America thinks it is part of a television show. We torture now. We defend torture.

Sigh.

Ah, good old politics

And media conglomeration. The New York Times is reporting that Judith Regan (famous for trying to publish OJ's "if I did it" book and having an affair (including carrying on the affair "at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers") with Giuliani friend and millstone/scumbag Bernie Kerik) is alleging that News Corp (famous for America's own millstone and scumbag duo of Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch) tried to influence her testimony on her affair. Why? To protect America's Mayor in his search for the White House. Yeah, that old liberal media was really a problem. Good thing we have replaced it with people like this who manipulate the news purposefully to help out their own horses.

******

We have hopes that Mukasey will be a decent AG, though his insistence on not defining waterboarding suggested that Dick Cheney was watching his testimony with a gun to Mukasey's dog or something. But his decision to reopen the wiretapping probe that Bush originally shut down under Gonzales is positive. At least for now. Of course, compared to Gonzales, this Macbook would make an excellent AG. Time will tell. Cheney's brilliance (and really his only skill as far as I can tell) is to work the system from behind. He won't allow Mukasey to hang him out.

*****

Speaking of the President, I really wonder about Bush. Does he recognize that he is a failed President? Or does he just think that we are all too stupid to understand his greatness? After all, "childrens do learn." Even though he is down in the polls, he has to appeal to the homophobic part of his 29% base and one way was to appoint religious conservatives to positions in government. YOu know, appointing someone opposed to birth control to oversee, well, birth control. But appointing this gay hating doctor to Surgeon General seems unnecessary. And it looks like the fact that the nomination is dead just means that Bush will use a recess appointment. Bush has ruled this country with a middle finger extended to anyone who disagrees, and I think that will be his last gesture as he leaves the White House. He really has contempt for a majority of the country.

*****

Speaking of Bush's America, our friend Jon Swift points to a story that just makes us scratch our heads. Evidently, when the American bridge team won the World championship (evidently there is one) in Shanghai, one held up a hand-written sign that said, "we did not vote for Bush." The American Bridge something organization is actually considering punishing these women:
"'This isn't a free-speech issue,' explains Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, commenting on what the organization refers to as the 'Shanghai Incident.' 'There isn't any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.' A statement released by the USBF reiterates, 'This situation is not about free speech; it is about determining whether the USBF has a responsibility to its membership to impose sanctions on those who have acted contrary to the best interests of the organization and its members.'"
I just remember when conservatives loved to trash Clinton here, overseas, on television, radio, in Country songs, in speeches and ads, from the House floor, or behind a pulpit. The good old days. I am sure that conservatives and corporations will recover that love of dissent when a democrat runs the country. We already see signs of something like this, certainly about Hillary:
"At a campaign event in South Carolina Monday, a female supporter asked John McCain: "How do we beat the bitch?"

If the Arizona senator objected to that particular characterization of Sen. Hillary Clinton, he didn't exactly say so.

Instead, as the room erupted in laughter, McCain said he'd try to offer a "translation." Somebody in the audience shouted out, "I thought she was talking about my ex-wife." There was more laughter all around, and then McCain said: "That's an excellent question."
As TPM and others have noted, this is the same candidate who bent over backwards to apologize for his mother's attack on Mitt Romney's mormonism. Calling Hillary a "bitch" is ok, I guess.

Wow, the GOP just impresses me each and every day.

November 13, 2007

Sigh

"Jesus Died So We Could Be Rich!": "Jesus Died So We Could Be Rich! Declares Biblical Expert and Best Selling Author Dr. Norman Robertson Believes U.S. Investigation on Mega-Church Pastors is Unjust Because God Wants Us to Be Rich"

Bushism

Surfing Slate and saw this old clip with Bush declaring that "childrens do learn," but this time saw something I missed before--missed because the other clips (Daily Show, Olbermann, etc) were from a slightly different angle. In this one, you can watch Margaret Spelling's face as Bush speaks. She keeps a pretty blank face, but it seems like she is wincing inside. Or maybe that is me just hoping that she is wincing. You be the judge.

November 12, 2007

Top Albums 2007--2--The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter


I really liked Josh Ritter's "Animal Years" from last year. His song "Girl in the War" is still a favorite and one I worked up for guitar. And his rambling rant "Thin Blue Line" is simply gloriously angry. Other tracks on that album kind of fell away. Still a great album, but one that I don't listen to as much. (Of course, this annual best list always opens itself to the albums that don't last--but you can't tell that in a year. That is a different exercise--one where some people choose Bob Dylan posters for their desert island.) And, speaking of rambling songs, I love his acoustic version of "Golden Age of Radio."
But much of his stuff is heavily acoustic and folky (technical music term). So, when Ritter released The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, I pushed it to the back of the todo list. Not that I have anything against folky, but have been more in the mood for something with a bit more energy. But his album kept showing up on other people's best of the year, and so I finally broke down and bought it. The other reason I delayed my purchase was that I kept waiting for it to show up on Emusic. (Now that I bought it from Itunes, that means it will show up immediately.)
What an album. The variety of sounds--from almost choral background, to raucous horns and piano, to finger picking folk, to dissonance--this album has it all. Favorite tracks so far include "Open Doors," and "The Temptation of Adam." The "Right Moves" makes me a bit dancy (technical term) and "Still Beating" makes me sad. Like I said, the album has a little of everything.

I am really enjoying this album.

November 11, 2007

Sunday evening

Tired and not ready for the week to begin. But a few notes before I turn in.

****

At the risk of attracting trolls, let me note that Paul Krugman is still upset with Reagan's manipulation of southern racial politics. And no, I am not saying that all white southerners, all Republicans, all Southern Republicans, or all Southern White REpublicans are racist.

Whew.

******

Speaking of Republicans, I am increasingly tired of their (and Joe Lieberman's) saber-rattling with Iran. As is Admiral Fallon, head of Cent Com, who says that we are not prepping for an attack, and right wing rhetoric is not helping!

Now just waiting to hear how Fallon is UnAmerican, weak on terror, or deserving of a Swift-Boating.

*****

After a weekend of football, I found thisversion of Mike Gundy's rant set to Survivor. (Click on the "I am a Man" link below the YouTube clip). Sorry, OSU fans, but I cringe every time I watch that spectacle. It deserves some mocking.

Enough for tonight.

November 9, 2007

Mel Gibson to remake "Passion of the Christ?"

According to Hollywood insiders, Mel Gibson has decided to remake his popular and Easter-required film, The Passion of the Christ. Gibson told a reporter that even though the film was only a few years old, it was time for a remake to capture the different context of the time. "We decided to recast the film with a bit more sympathy toward the Romans and the difficulties they faced keeping a government afloat with threats from within," said Gibson. "Make no mistake, the Jews are still responsible, but we thought that our audience would have more sympathy with the ruling government now."

Gibson admitted that the new remake included controversial scenes of water-boarding and sleep-deprivation. "It only made sense," he said. "Knowing what we know now, the government had every right to question insurgents to find out the depth of the rebellion. A simple scourging and crucifixion would kill the one insurgent, but not the rest. The Roman Government had to know where the others were and what their intentions were."

Gibson refused to discuss the new consultants to the film, but insider rumors have Rudy Giuliani demonstrating his own tactics against mob bosses in New York, and the natural cameo by Dick Cheney as Satan. Michael Mukasey had no comment on whether the new film represented Christianity, and Chuck Shumer voted for it before even seeing the sneak previews.

Now back to the ranting

Once again, Bush takes us into uncharted waters, though this is really more about him than us. Turns out that more people strongly disapprove of him than did Nixon at the height of Watergate. Of course, the poll shows that the Republican base still supports him (that 29% must be able to manufacture their own reality) but Independents are leaving him in droves. The rest of us look at a situation where America has lost moral standing. An America, for example, THAT TORTURES, and has a leader who says to Pervez Musharraf (evidently with a straight face) that a) fighting terror is no reason to undermine your constitution, and 2) 'you can't be President and head of the military at the same time'.

Sigh.

If you want an example of the deluded 29 percenter, look no further than this guy:
"By almost all accounts, this Administration has done more to improve government effectiveness than any previous Administration, ever.' --Clay Johnson, Bush buddy turned deputy director of OMB who also chairs the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which oversees all government inspectors general."
Yes, by all means. Effective. That was the word we were looking for.

*****

Salon.com has some excerpts from a new book on W called The Fall of the House of Bush by Craig Unger. One addresses the story of Bush's conversion experience, and says that the entire "Billy Graham led George to Jesus" is a lie--constructed by his staff. He did have a conversion experience, but just not with Billy. Seems like an odd thing to lie about, but I guess connecting Bush to someone as respected as Billy Graham seemed like a good idea at the time.

More interesting to me was the battles and disagreements between W and his father. I have argued for years that lay at the heart of this little drama, and Unger has some additional info to support it. From appointing Rumsfeld (who Daddy hates) to barring HW's closest friends Scowcroft and Baker from access to the White House, to saying this:
"But now his son had not only reversed his policies, he had taken things a step further. 'The stakes are high ...' the younger Bush told reporters on April 21. 'And the Iraqi people are looking -- they're looking at America and saying, are we going to cut and run again?'"
Again? Nice little shot at Daddy. And we find out that Bush doesn't talk to his Dad about anything of substance. Yeah, it isn't as if Daddy had some experience with the job.

Sigh.

*****

The GOP as party of Family values appears to be fading fast--replaced by the Party of Jack Bauer. As LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks suggests, Torture is the new abortion--but not in a good way.
These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about "values," "human dignity" and the "culture of life." Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?

As Scott Horton reports in his Harper's Magazine blog: "Several days before his first meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Michael Mukasey's Justice Department handlers arranged a private meeting for him with a number of 'movement conservatives.'... They pushed aggressively on the torture question. They wanted Mukasey to pledge that he would toe the administration's line" by not criticizing the administration's approval of waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques, and they wanted him to "protect those who authored the [interrogation] program" by issuing opinions that would keep those responsible for the program from facing criminal prosecution. "


And speaking of torture, Andrew Sullivan notes the Christians who enthusiastically endorse torture and some who even provide some Bible verses to justify such actions. I hope those represent the fringe, but given the tacit approval for torture from people like Dobson, Robertson, Land and others, I fear that Sully is correct when he says:
Christianism - as opposed to Christianity - is quite comfortable with torture, as long as it is wielded by a Master to protect his Servants, and as long as it is used for revenge against what Robertson calls Islamic "bloodlust." When you fuse Christianity with power, it isn't long before Christians start imposing the cross on others rather than taking it up for themselves. God is on their side, remember? And so they can do no wrong. You're either with them or against them, for torture or against America. Get it?


****

From the "funny if it weren't so damn depressingly true" category, Maureen Dowd has a suggested rewrite for Bush's second inaugural. Sounds more accurate than anything he has ever said.
Condi was very worried about Mushy suspending the Constitution, but Vice says Constitutions are for sissies. He doesn’t see anything wrong with Mushy’s press blackout. He thinks we can learn a few lessons from him.

Vice says if we had someone decisive like Mushy in Iraq instead of those floppy Iranian puppets we put in power, we’d be a lot better off.

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will ignore your oppression and excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will not stand with you.

--

In the long run, there is justice without freedom, and there can be human rights once the human rights activists have been thrown in the pokey.

Looks like it is official

And we didn't lose. Completely.

Thanks for the voting and support. We edged out of last place yesterday and held on to that spot. Actually, with all due respect to the other competitors in the "Best of the Top 3501-5000 Blogs," we essentially tied for last place. :) Congrats to Durham-in-Wonderland for beating the rest of us like a drum.

But it was fun, and as trite as it sounds, quite amazing just to be nominated.

November 8, 2007

November 6, 2007

Shameless self-promotion

At Mary's suggestion, I have posted a Weblog Finalist logo to the right. Of course, it doesn't really help that my poor blog is in last place in that category. I blame all of you for that. :) Certainly, I can't be blamed for not inspiring you all to vote repeatedly in this, and all future elections. (Vote For Streak's Blog here)

I certainly can't blame Jon Swift. Not only did he nominate our little blog, but he once again has promoted us on his great blog. And I know he feels my pain as he is not winning in his category either--though he is doing much MUCH better than Streak's Blog. (Vote Jon Swift for Funniest Blog here NOW!)

Huh

Press Briefing by Dana Perino: "MS. PERINO: We do not believe that any extra-constitutional means were necessary in order to help prevent terrorism in the region. And that's why we are deeply disappointed with the actions, and we asked them to not do it.

Q Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?

MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no."

Huh:
The president claims an inherent power to imprison American citizens whom he has determined to be this country's enemies without obtaining a warrant, letting them hear the charges against them, or following other safeguards against wrongful punishment guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Under his administration, the government has engaged in inhumane treatment of prisoners that amounts to torture — and when Congress passed legislation to ban such treatment, he declared he would simply interpret the law his own way. Although the Constitution says treaties are the "supreme law of the land," the president has abrogated them on his own. And, we now know, he ordered a secret program of electronic surveillance of Americans without court warrants.

November 5, 2007

Top albums of 2007--1--Sky Blue Sky


I always start this and rarely finish, but would like to post some of my favorite albums from this year. With that in mind, I will post some here and there on my favorites and if I hit the top ten, that is great. If not, oh well.

No real order, but wanting to talk about those albums that I really like. Top on that list, I think, is Wilco's Sky Blue Sky

I have heard many Wilco fans complain about this album, but I really like it. It is a sharp departure from the last two albums, to be sure, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was more political and global, while A Ghost Is Born was far more about personal pain and anguish. YHF had the amazing songs "Poor Places" and the "Ashes of American Flags" while A Ghost had the deeply personal "Handshake Drugs" about Tweedy's own battles with addiction.

Tweedy himself said that he wanted to make an album that would not make his wife sad, and Sky Blue Sky is that album. Not as dissonant as either of the previous two, SBS retains much of the musical complexity of Wilco's latest work. The album's opening verse sets the tone:
Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won't feel so afraid
I will try to understand
Either way

My personal favorite from this album is the title track, though "Impossible Germany" is also an amazing song.

My top ten will be a tough list. There are some albums out from people I really like--but albums that I really don't know that well. This is not one of those. I have listened to this one a lot, and while it is no YHF or Ghost, it is a very good album and well worth the listen.

November 4, 2007

Scarborough invokes the "kool-aid" metaphor

Yeah, but he didn't mean it about following Bush:
Scarborough said he first met Huckabee more than 30 years ago, while both were students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Scarborough said there was "significant liberalism" on the campus, and students typically responded in one of three ways. Some "drank the 'Kool-Aid'" of the latest liberal fad, others were conservative but tried to avoid conflict, and some "were there on a mission to prepare to change the world and for whom Christ was their first love and winning souls their passion."
It must have been Rick's love of sharing the love of God that led him to endorse George W. Bush, remain silent on torture, AND tour with Tom DeLay:
"'I believe the most damaging thing that Tom DeLay has done in his life is take his faith seriously into public office, which made him a target for all those who despise the cause of Christ,' Scarborough said, introducing DeLay yesterday. When DeLay finished, the host reminded the politician: 'God always does his best work right after a crucifixion.'"
Wow, his discernment is so telling. If I were Mike Huckabee, I would be ever so grateful that someone as idiotic as this man endorsed me.

But then again, if I were Huckabee, I wouldn't be trying to convince the evangelical pro-torture, pro-war, bomb-Iran people to vote for me.

"I suggest that God may be sending us a lifeline," he said. "Who better to lead a nation nearing moral collapse and perhaps World War III than a president who is also a pastor with 10 years of senior executive experience as a governor?"
Sigh. Yeah. I wonder if Ricko considers a President who has turned us into America the Torturing Nation part of that moral collapse. I suspect he does not. Now if only God would send us a lifeline away from pastors like Rick Scarborough.

Hey, what do you know?

Reading Jon Swift and I see that he nominated my blog for "Best of the Top 3501 - 5000 Blogs" in the The 2007 Weblog Awards.

Cool.

While I am at it

Marty Lederman has a great, and succinct retelling of the Daniel Levin story. You will love this--especially the part that Al Gonzales plays in making sure we torture people and that Bush/Cheney/Addington simply disregard any information that does not support their claim.
In short, the story is this: Jack Goldsmith left OLC before he could complete the "replacement" torture opinion. Daniel Levin succeeded him. OLC had previously opined that waterboarding was lawful. Levin apparently (and understandably) was a bit skeptical -- so much so that he asked the military to subject him to waterboarding! (This is not your parents' OLC -- can you imagine what it would take for anyone after this to want to be Assistant Attorney General there?) Naturally, Levin concluded that the procedure was, well, torture, at least "unless performed in a highly limited way," and under guidelines the Administration had failed to implement. (No doubt Levin did suffer severe physical suffering, and that's in a situation far removed from being a detainee.)

At this point, Alberto Gonzales nevertheless insisted that Levin include in his December 30, 2004 opinion the footnote about how the legal analysis did not affect all previously approved techniques! It's not clear why Levin assented to this -- it's an outrageous and inappropriate thing for a White House Counsel to do -- but the footnote was included.

Levin then set about to write another opinion, one that would cut back on the approved techniques (and that would, at a minimum, repudiate or temper the previous OLC advice on waterboarding).

Unfortunately, at this point Gonzales was confirmed as AG -- and he fired Levin, replacing him with Steve Bradbury, who was more than happy to give Gonzales the legal advice they wanted. (No word -- yet -- on whether Bradbury was waterboarded.)

Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

Yeah, I can't let this go. When your own country has become evil, it is hard to just look the other way. Former JAG Evan Wallach writes about teaching soldiers about waterboarding and other torture. There was no mystery about torture--it was illegal. Illegal, that is, until George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, and Alberto Gonzales got their hands on our government:
"The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death.""
So we fought the big war to defeat Fascism only to get a morally challenged President who drank his way through college?

*****

BTW, some have suggested that Bushco can't call torture illegal because it would result in prosecutions throughout the CIA and even the military. But Jack Balkin says that is wrong, and Scott Horton agrees:
"The initial draft makes clear that the White House sought impunity for crimes arising as a result of the use of three techniques that the Bush Administration (and, from the remarkable wording of one of Bush's press conferences, Bush himself) authorized and which constitute grave breaches under Common Article 3: waterboarding, long-time standing (or as it was called by its NKVD inventors, in Russian: stoika) and hypothermia or cold cell. The use of these techniques is a criminal act. The purported authorization of these techniques is a criminal act. The larger effort to employ them constitutes a joint criminal enterprise. "

Balkin nails it:
"The real reason why Judge Mukasey cannot say that waterboarding is illegal is that Administration officials have repeatedly insisted that they do not torture, and that they have acted both legally and honorably. If Judge Mukasey said that waterboarding is illegal, it would require the Bush Administration to admit that it repeatedly lied to the American people and brought shame and dishonor on the United States of America. If Judge Mukasey were to say waterboarding is illegal and not just 'a dunk in the water' in Vice President Cheney's terminology, he would have announced that, as incoming Attorney General, he is entering an Administration of liars and torturers."
George W. Bush's Administration of Liars and Torturers (brought to you by James Dobson and Focus on the Family). Now, there is a t-shirt! It would be comical if it weren't so damn serious. The next time you hear a conservative rant about opposing evil or fascism or islamofascism--just remember that they have aided and abetted the transformation of our judicial system into one that endorses the torture of others.

November 3, 2007

Gregory Djerejian on Mukasey

The Belgravia Dispatch: Schumer/Mukasey: "Chuck Schumer: "No nominee from this administration will agree with us on things like torture and wiretapping...The best we can expect is somebody who will depoliticize the Justice Department and put rule of law first, even when pressured by some of the administration. If Mukasey is that type of person, I’ll support him.” [my emphasis]

Mr. Schumer, "putt(ing) rule of law first" means outlawing torture. I well understand that (especially compared to Gonzalez) Mukasey is a veritable paragon of competence. And I know how desperately the Department of Justice needs fresh leadership of such caliber. But torture speaks directly to the civilizational values of this country in most fundamental fashion. There can be no compromise on this point, even on behalf of a very talented lawyer from your home state. Torture belongs to the pre-Enlightenment era, hundreds of years past. The notion that the U.S. Congress would approve as Attorney General--the chief law enforcement officer of the United States--a man who can not declare an ancient, disgraced torture technique such as water-boarding illegal is simply unacceptable. Please stand firm on behalf of our country on this point."

Former JAG lawyers write Leahy

"Waterboarding is inhumane, it is torture, and it is illegal."Key quote:
This is a critically important issue - but it is not, and never has been, a complex issue, and even to suggest otherwise does a terrible disservice to this nation. All U.S. Government agencies and personnel, and not just America’s military forces, must abide by both the spirit and letter of the controlling provisions of international law. Cruelty and torture - no less than wanton killing - is neither justified nor legal in any circumstance.

Saturday tired

Little worn out. I will post pictures later, but we have been working on a rock path out to the pond. Starting yesterday and then into this morning, I moved (via wheelbarrow) approximately 2 tons of rock. I expected to be very sore this morning but didn't feel too bad. Perhaps my yoga is helping out.

*****

I know I keep talking about torture, but I can't get over it. I cannot get beyond the fact that Bush has turned us into something closer to the former Soviet Union than the America of my youth.

Jack Goldsmith, in his critique of this administration, suggested that the Bush people were scared to death of allowing another attack. Understandable, I guess, though it does not explain some of their actions--like pulling off their search for bin Laden, or capitulating to the chemical industry on security.

But ultimately, the Bush administration's insistence on torture is indefensible. As several have noted, it is immoral and doesn't work. And the Bush people seem to ignore evidence of either. Now this ABC story about "Daniel Levin, then acting assistant attorney general," who underwent waterboarding to understand the experience. He related back to the White House that it was a horrifying experience even though he knew he was not going to die. He concluded that it could be illegal torture, and called on the Bush admin to make very clear guidelines on the use of waterboarding.
The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, "Torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.
There is something pathological about people who simply fire people who disagree with them.

******

Dan Froomkin - Bush: It's Mukasey or Nothing - washingtonpost.com: "Scott Horton blogs for Harpers: 'There has been no shortage of litmus tests in the past: abortion, gay marriage, the flag amendment--whatever hot-button issue the G.O.P. cooks up for its next election campaign. But the torture litmus test is new, and it seems to be key for lawyers. It really is an exercise in Kool Aid drinking. If you're prepared to hedge on whether waterboarding is torture, then you might be counted upon to do anything. Indeed, there is no question about it. Waterboarding is torture and has been understood to be torture in a formal sense for over a hundred years. Soldiers who used it were court-martialed, and the attempted defense of military necessity was smacked down by the Army's Judge Advocate General in 1903. There is no shortage of other precedent. This is why Mukasey's dodge on the issue--first a very primitive dodge, and then a more sophisticated one--is so troubling.'

The Washington Post editorial board writes that Bush yesterday "bemoaned the imperiled state of Mr. Mukasey's nomination without one iota of self-awareness that the nomination is in trouble because of the president's own warped policies on torture."

And yet, the editorial advises: "Those senators who truly want to bring the nation back from the disgrace of Mr. Bush's interrogation policies should do two things. They should confirm Mr. Mukasey, who is far more independent and qualified than either of Mr. Bush's previous two nominees. And they should do something which, for all the rhetoric, they have so far declined to do: ban torture, by passing the National Security with Justice Act sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden (D-Del.)."

But legal blogger Marty Lederman points out that Congress has repeatedly banned torture in the past. In fact, he writes, "if there is any single thing imaginable that the Senate, the Congress, and the world community have not'declined to do,' it is to ban torture categorically."

Lederman adds: "That's not to say it would not also be a good thing to enact the Biden bill, which would specifically require all United States personnel, including the CIA, to use only interrogation techniques authorized by the Army Field Manual. That would be yet another step that would help prevent the Bush Administration from violating the current bans on torture by doing things such as implausibly characterizing its torture as 'not torture.'"
Oh, and Bush compared his critics to those who ignored the rise of Hitler and Lenin.
Yesterday on CNN, Jack Cafferty let loose: "Where does he get this stuff? We're talk about confirmation hearing in congressional committee for a cabinet officer and he's babbling about Lenin and Hitler? I mean -- come on! I'm tired of being told to be afraid. The people are tired of being told to be afraid. Just get off of it. Either win the argument on the merits or go away and leave me alone."
Bush rules like an abusive tyrant. He is not a good person and shame on every Republican who enables his abuse and every Democrat who cowers before it.

November 2, 2007

Thinking Americans? Do they still exist?

Talking Points Memo | Dean on Mukasey
A Last Thought Before the Senate Judiciary Committee Confirms Judge Mukasey
By John W. Dean

As the Senate Democrats complete another sad concession to President Bush, and confirms a nominee who refuses to declare “water-boarding” torture, allow me to offer a brief historical reminder: the Senate Judiciary Committee has conspicuously forgotten that there are direct situational and historical parallels with Judge Mukasey’s nomination to be Attorney General and that of President Richard Nixon nominating Elliot Richardson to be Attorney General during Watergate.

Nixon’s Attorney General had been removed (and was later prosecuted for lying to Congress) – a situation not unlike Alberto Gonzales’s leaving the job under such a cloud. Nixon was under deep suspicion of covering up the true facts relating to the bungled break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate, not to mention widespread rumors that he had engaged in abuses of power and corrupt campaign practices. Today, Bush is under even deeper suspicion for activities far more serious than anything Nixon engaged in for there is evidence Bush has abused the laws of war, violated treaties, and ordered (or approved) the use of torture and political renditions, which are war crimes.

Since Judge Mukasey’s situation is not unlike that facing Elliot Richardson when he was appointed Attorney General during Watergate, why should not the Senate Judiciary Committee similarly make it a quid pro quo for his confirmation that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate war crimes? Richardson was only confirmed when he agreed to appoint a special prosecutor, which, of course, he did. And when Nixon fired that prosecutor, Archibald Cox, it lead to his impeachment.

Before the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee completely cave-in to Bush, at minimum they should demand that Judge Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to investigate if war crimes have been committed. If Mukasey refuses he should be rejected. This, indeed, should be a pre-condition to anyone filling the post of Attorney General under Bush.

If the Democrats in the Senate refuse to demand any such requirement, it will be act that should send chills down the spine of every thinking American.

Sullivan on the illegality of torture

To address the question of whether the Bushies have a point about the definitino of torture and waterboarding. Sully suggests the answer is clear:
"There is a broad and easily understandable legal ban on the infliction ofsevere mental or physical pain or sufferingon any prisoner in wartime as a means to extract 'information.' Yes, to thrash a horse in advanced stages of rigor mortis, as a philosophical matter, this might, in a million-to-one scenario, still allow a president to authorize illegal torture if the entire republic was at stake or if a major city was about to go down in nuclear flames, and we knew we had an individual who knew how to stop it. But the president would still subsequently have to subject himself and all those who did such a thing to legal punishment. That is what the rule of law means, guys. It means there is no exception. We either live in a republic of laws or the imperium of one man. We cannot live simultaneously under both. The oath of the president is to enforce such laws, not to avoid them. And that is why it is insane to say we have no right to demand that the attorney-general nominee assure us in advance that he will uphold the rule of law in office. We do not merely have the right. We have a duty to ensure that an attorney general of the United States will uphold the law.

There is no question whatsoever that "simulated drowning," "water-boarding" or whatever name we give to a technique routinely deployed by the Khmer Rouge is illegal however it is done, whoever does it, and whomever is subjected to it. If the attorney general cannot say this in public without equivocation before he is nominated, then the Congress is indicating that it condones the Bush administration's contempt for the rule of law and routine use of illegal torture. I cannot see how Republicans who impeached a president for perjury in a civil suit cannot see what the issue is here. It is the most bedrock principle of a free society. Do the laws apply to the highest executive authority? Do we live in a tyranny or a republic?

Alas, the president almost certainly will never be prosecuted for the war crimes he has committed. He has already seen to that and so, shamefully, has the Congress by passing a law that retroactively granted him immunity. Surely that is bad enough. To compound that by allowing an attorney general to take office by refusing to say whether he will uphold the law in the face of the Cheney-style Protector-Presidency is inexcusable. This is history in the making. Who will defend the rule of law?"

Oh good god

I think this last year of having to listen to this idiot will be the longest year in human history! Crooks and Liars � Bush %u201CPlaying the 9-11 card%u201D to force the Mukasey nomination through: Attacks Bloggers!
Bush: “The job of Attorney General is essential to the security of America” … “Some in Washington should spend more time responding to the warnings of terrorists like Osama bin Laden, and the requests of our commanders on the ground, and less time responding to the demands of MoveOn.org bloggers and Code Pink protesters.”
Of course, he is the same person who not only disbanded the CIA unit dedicated to finding OBL, but also said

“I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”

And that isn't all. Evidently, Bush is threatening to not appoint another AG if the Senate doesn't confirm Mukasey. Because he is a uniter, right?
USNews.com: Political Bulletin: Friday, November 2, 2007: "Media reports particularly noted Bush's suggestion that if Mukasey is rejected by the Senate, he will not nominate a replacement. The Washington Times titles its front-page story "It's Mukasey Or No One, Bush Warns." NBC Nightly News reported Mukasey's nomination "does look increasingly shaky ahead of next week's vote, and if it does fail, the President suggested today that he may not nominate anybody else, leaving him without an attorney general, potentially, for the rest of his term." ABC World News also reported the President "spent much of his day trying to save the nomination."
By "save" they mean challenge the patriotism of anyone who disagrees with him. This man is not only a bad President--he is a bad person.

And let's just remember that the Senate is upset because Mukasey won't say that waterboarding is torture. He says it is repugnant and if torture, then is illegal, but since he hasn't been briefed, he can't say. The NYT suggests that Mukasey can't be clear, because he would open the door to prosecutions throughout the Bush administration, a fact that Jack Goldsmith said was a constant worry inside the Administration. And with good reason.

Bush and Cheney have made us all complicit in torture. They have undermined our very moral character. Shame on them. And shame on us for allowing them to do this.

November 1, 2007

Baptists support Republicans, not Christians

Another good oped from Ethics Daily.com! by Jeannie Babb Taylor. She compares the Baptist response to Carter v. how they approach Bush. As she notes, most Baptists hate Carter. Not that there weren't problems with his presidency, but the response is telling.
Carter always showed himself to be a statesman, a faithful husband and a strong Christian. He was never caught using lewd words when he did not realize the microphone was on. Carter has published numerous devotional books.

Since age 18, he has taught Sunday school at a Baptist church. Even while in Washington, he taught a Sunday school class there. Do you think our current president even attends church on Sunday? Hint: No.

It's not that Bush's pew is empty. He doesn't have one. The man who claims God speaks to him directly, has no church at all. And don't tell me the free leader of the world can't find time to go to church. If he can find time to spend a third of his presidency on vacation, he can find time to go to the House of God.

Reagan did not bother with church either, even though he was often called the nation's "pastor." Reagan's excuse for being unchurched was that the security detail required to protect him would be a burden, causing parishioners to leave. The Clintons, who were active members of Foundry United Methodist Church during Bill Clinton's term in the White House, had no problem attending.

According to his biographers, Carter may be the most personally devout president America ever had. Yet Baptist leaders inexplicably loathe Carter. Many preachers have called him godless, denying that he was ever a Christian.

Meanwhile, these same people support President Bush as God's man of the hour, even though he has rarely darkens the door of a church, supports killing and torture rather than working for peace, has demonstrated no knowledge of Scripture, and would have trouble coming up with a bedtime prayer without help from Karl Rove.

The fact is, Baptist leaders don't support Baptists. Baptist leaders support Republicans.