January 31, 2008

Why Obama?

Steve asked in the comments for a reason to vote for Obama. I have been wrestling with partisan ship and general angst the last few days. Some of it about personal stuff that is largely unimportant, some just moodiness, some the weather, etc. But I have also had a conversation with a conservative Christian republican who might be considered one of the 29 percenters--you know, those rare Americans who think Bush is doing a "heckuva job." The disconnect between us was jarring. Liberals are essentially socialists and unpatriotic--unless they support the President. Conservative policies don't have any unintended consequences. Republicans make mistakes, but only when they act like Democrats. Sigh.

That is part of what Obama, out of all the candidates brings to the table. I liked John Edwards too. I think he is a good person and has broadened the debate to focus on poverty and the working class. But Obama has a chance--a chance to do something beyond that. To be cliched, voting for him is a vote for some kind of optimism. Bush has taught us for the last 8 years to vote out of fear--fear of what the terrorists will do, and what the Democrats might do. (I can't tell you how many conservaives have suggested as much--they understood that Bush wasn't great, but what Kerry or Gore might do was terrible. Sure, Bush might torture and ignore a Hurricane, but Kerry might have, gasp, addressed climate change.)

Andrew Sullivan, in Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters suggests that the country has been divided over that Baby Boomer generation's central conflict of VN. That certainly was true about 2004's election:
"At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce."
Clinton plays to that divide in a way that her husband, I think, didn't as President--though he certainly has as potential First Husband. McCain is still a legacy of that generation and is more likely to continue failed Republican policies. Obama, whatever you think of his policies, has a chance to return us to something approaching a normal political debate where conservatives and liberals can debate the merits of proposed taxation policy.

Homer and Marge: The Worst President Ever

Just saw this episode and it is actually pretty good. Homer invents grunge rock and becomes a diabetic from drinking too many frappuccinos.

Mukasey: it isn't a crime if the President does it

Salon.com | Mukasey's radical worldview is now the norm: "Mukasey explicitly embraces the most extreme theories of presidential omnipotence and lawlessness and displays as much Cheney-ite contempt for the notion of Congressional oversight as the Vice President himself. He repeatedly endorsed patently illegal behavior -- including torture -- and refused even to pretend that he cared what the Senate thought about any of it. He even told Republican Senators that they have no right to pass a whistleblower law allowing federal employees who learn of lawbreaking to inform Congress about it, because such a law would infringe on the President's constitutional powers. In Mukasey's worldview, the President has unlimited power and Congress has none."

Right wing dialogue

Glenn Greenwald - Political Blogs and Opinions - Salon: "Writing about last night's GOP debate, John Hinderaker of Powerline, Time's 2004 Blog of the Year, shared this observation:

"Businessmen, in my experience, are generally more idealistic than politicians. Businessmen really do make deals with a handshake. No one would dream of doing that with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or the Clintons. . . .
I don't view this as an argument in Romney's favor. As President, he wouldn't be dealing with honorable, law-abiding businesspeople. He would be going up against the Vladimir Putins, Osama bin Ladens and Harry Reids of the world.

That passage was then promptly quoted by National Review's Mark Steyn, who said that Hinderaker 'might be on to something.'"

January 30, 2008

Quote for the day

The Anonymous Liberal says he wishes people would stop blaming Giuliani's collapse on bad campaign strategy:
"Giuliani lost because he's a creepy weirdo, and the more you see him, the more that becomes apparent. Moreover, his entire campaign was built around the fact that he happened to be the mayor of a city that was attacked by terrorists, and even stupid people eventually realized that wasn't a particularly compelling rationale for being president."

Wednesday morning

Or at least I think it it. I am sure glad I missed the SOTU address. I don't think I could have handled watching this man talk. Few seemed to like the speech and thought it was phoned in, or should have been. Sometimes it seems like he understands he is in over his head and is just stalling to pass on his disasters to the next guy. For example, as I read/hear this story, the military budget just signed into law doesn't include the war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, or more accurately, just includes enough to get them through the end of Bush's disaster. The next President will be saddled with a huge problem right off the bat. Thanks George.

And then there are his insidious signing statements. He added one to that military bill too. Says he may not do what the law says. And what was objectionable in the bill?
The President just signed the Defense Authorization Act, which has two provisions that are relevant to contractor accountability. The first, section 841, added through an amendment sponsored by Senators Webb and McCaskill, would establish an independent commission to study the waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting. The second, section 846, would improve whistleblower protection for contractor employees who report abuses by contractors.

The only wrinkle, however, is that the President issued one of his infamous signing statements, singling out these and two other provisions that the White House says "purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief." According to the statement, "[t]he executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President."

Senator Webb has said that he’ll nonetheless move forward quickly to establish the commission.
Yes, by all means, make sure you cover up the corruption of your administration. Yes, by all means, punish whistleblowers as you have already. And who dares to challenge the imperial Bush who can commit America to whatever he wants. Congress, as we have discussed, is a nuisance to King George.


I have been thinking more about the Faludi book and our conversation on women and their supposed natural role. She notes how biased the media coverage was about the victims of the attacks. Widows--and that meant stay-at-home-mom-Widows--were on every talk show and featured and lamented in every magazine. Widowers were largely unnoticed, unless they had young daughters. And as long as those widows kept their domestic role, they were golden. If they dared step out of that mold, as the Jersey Girls did by criticizing the President, they became horrible shrews who enjoyed their tragedy. Some of the widowed firefighters were raised up as suitable victims, but when one had an affair with another firefighter, it hit the fan and she was the villain. Not him. She stepped out of her acceptable grieving role and became some kind of siren. He was a victim of seduction.

And that is part of why I object to this idea of "natural" attached to actions like family abandonment or staying with the kids. Under that model, when the man stays with the family and is responsible, he is really rather heroic, because according to many, he is going against his "natural instincts." After all, he has much less natural connection to the family and the kids. The guy who leaves his family is then actually just weak, but also following his natural instinct. When the woman stays with the kid, she is remaining true to her nature. Human choice starts to get blurred here as do the complexity of these individual human relationships.

January 29, 2008


I did not watch Bush last night. I just can't. Listening to him talk is just more than I can take. Watching him talk is even worse--with the smirk, and the silent laugh, and the shoulder shake. Sigh.

But this is an interesting trend. Actual media fact checking! Who would have thought about something this radical. At least NPR fact checked the speech and suggested that the President was not being honest when he said this about the FISA law:
"Unfortunately, the Congress set the legislation to expire on Feb. 1. This means that if you do not act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America."
The NPR blog disagrees with how the President defines what will expire, but I was most taken with how he described (again) telecom immunity. "The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America." Believed? Doesn't he know? Doesn't anyone know? And if they didn't do anything, why give them immunity? And if they did nothing wrong, why give them immunity?

Speaking of that FISA vote, yesterday Democrats were able to defeat a Republican move that would have guaranteed telecom immunity and all sorts of other hideous provisions. We aren't out of the woods yet, but we have more time, as the blog Obsidian Wings puts it: to fight another day. So if you are inclined to make a phone call, now is the time. But speaking of this train wreck of a bill, our great leader has threatened to veto if congress were to simply pass a one month extension. Glenn Greenwald points out just what that means:
This veto threat is one of the President's most brazen acts ever, so nakedly exposing the fun and games he routinely plays with National Security Threats. After sending Mike McConnell out last August to warn that we will all die without the PAA, Bush now says that he would rather let it expire than give Congress another 30 days. He just comes right out and announces, then, that he will leave us all vulnerable to a Terrorist Attack unless he not only gets everything he wants from Congress -- all his new warrantless eavesdropping powers made permanent plus full immunity for his lawbreaking telecom partners -- but also gets it exactly when he wants it (i.e., now -- not 30 days from now).


I am reading more of the Faludi book. It relates so well to several of the conversations we have had on this blog. She contends that immediately after 9-11, people (and especially conservative commentators) started talking about how needless and even harmful feminism was to our culture. Faced with terrorism, they argued, nurturing little boys or trying to teach healthy conflict resolution was national suicide. Of course we had Falwell's rant that feminism and their "fellow travelers" allowed 9-11 to happen (which he still argued right before his death). The National Review accused feminists of taking the side of terrorists, and another suggested that American multi-culturalism was actually encouraging the spread of radical extremism in the Muslim world. Others charged that feminism had undermined us by making the men more like women--almost indistinguishable. Faludi noted the parallel statement by the Taliban attorney general Maulvi Jalilullah Maulvizada, "who had earlier told a journalist that when women are given freedom, 'men become like women.'" (23-24) Bill Bennett said that feminism had infected generations of men teaching them that violence was "always wrong." Mark Steyn made fun of Oprah and any women calling for peace. Susan Sontag and Barbara Kingsolver were pilloried and hated for suggesting some reasoned response to 9-11--some measure of introspection. Fallwell did it by blaming gays and feminists, and he was chided. Sontag and Kingsolver got death threats. Katha Pollitt was told to "go back to Afghanistan, you bitch."

What was most interesting to me was her contention that in this post 9-11 world, the contributions of women outside the home became almost invisible. Even those women who participated in the rescue effort, or who lost their lives trying to rescue people in the World Trade towers were ignored. Instead, the male fireman was elevated to a superman-like status. The heroes of flight 93 were assumed to be the men, not the women flight attendants or passengers. Police and fire departments across the country started hiring women less and less, because the political climate had changed. The Bush admin no longer even participated in gender discrimination employment suits. The message was clear--you women don't belong out here with the men.

It is that context, I think, that is the backdrop of both Al Mohler's concern about "women graduates" and groups like the Godmen's concern about "wussified men."
Faludi contends that our response to 9-11 was not to look at our culture, our foreign policy, our consumption, etc., but to simply go back to previous narratives to help us. In this case, the dominant narrative was the heroic masculine man and the helpless female. Even when that didn't fit. Not only in the case of those female responders at the WTC, but also in the narrative. The most telling detail, at least for me, was when the Bush people organized a PR film with some people from Hollywood to spin the GWOT. This film (which I completely missed) was called "The Spirit of America" and evidently played in thousands of theaters across the country. A montage of scenes from American cinema celebrating the male hero--and bookended with the opening and closing scenes from the Searchers. For these people, the American hero was Ethan Edwards, a racist killer who rescued his own niece, true, but after he attempted to kill her himself.


January 28, 2008

Post SOTU music

To get the sound of Bushy out of your head.

SOTU anyone?

I live blogged the last one, but don't think I have the stomach for this one. Anyone planning on watching? I think watching him is painful. Perhaps this video from Kathleen Madigan will help. I love her description of Bush's speaking style at the beginning. I tried to find where she describes him as Yosemite Sam, but this was as good as I could do:

Froomkin asks Is Anyone Listening? and has some great little bits from the press about tonight's anticipated inevitable address.
"Michael Abramowitz writes in The Washington Post: 'Tonight's State of the Union address by President Bush had its origins in a conversation between the president and his small crew of speechwriters in late spring or early summer last year. As the speechwriters tell it, Bush called them into the Oval Office and told them he was interested in giving a speech about his governing philosophy."
And America wonders aloud, "wait, he has a governing philosophy? Or any philosophy beyond "blessed are the rich?"
I think this next one is most accurate:
James Carroll writes in his Boston Globe opinion column: "You and everyone you love are riding on a large bus. The bus driver, unskilled and careless, drives too fast, ignores traffic signals, and barrels off the road occasionally. Because the bus is huge, other vehicles swerve to get out of its way, with cars crashing repeatedly. But your driver just keeps going, leaving carnage in his wake. Naturally, you are terrified - but your reactions are irrelevant.

"Finally, the bus itself crashes, killing many. Miraculously, you and your loved ones climb out of the wreckage. A second bus is standing by, and you gratefully scramble aboard. The engine starts up, but then the bus lurches dangerously onto the road, going too fast. Only then do you see that this new bus has the same driver, and he has learned nothing. Welcome to the United States of America. And welcome to the annual State of the Union address."

Dream dinner party

You can blame SOF for this post. She said I should think about my dream dinner party (where you can invite any famous people you want--hell the rules are up to you as it is a fantasy dinner party) and write a post about it. And then I couldn't stop thinking about it. Obsessing. Looking at teevee saying, "should you be at my dinner party?" Sigh. So here goes at least an attempt.

For mine, I am limiting the guests to 6 because we have a small place and I find a smaller group better for the talking and ranting. Plus, I am not catering this fake event, so want a fake group size I can fake-cook for.

And the invites are harder to come up with than I thought. And some people have acted in ways to get themselves uninvited. Bill Clinton, for example, would have been a shoo-in on this list. He is smart, and well-read. I have always wondered what he would think of my own research and teaching areas and suspect he would have something smart to say. But Bill has been such a jerk lately, that I don't think any of my other guests would want him around either. And no one wants a dinner party with that kind of setup. (Plus, the secret service would probably drive on my lawn.)

Another difficulty, of course, is managing the strong personality ratio so you don't have too many people who take the air out of the room. Of course, since this fantasy party includes famous people, that will be difficult. But we will see what we can do.

1) Jon Stewart. I went back and forth between him, Colbert, and Keith Olbermann. I like all three. But for some reason, I think Jon might be the better guest. I share his outrage at our country's decline and just think it would be interesting to share a meal with him as well.

2) Emmylou Harris. I have loved her music for 30 years and have loved the times I heard her harmony on other albums. What I have seen of her personal side suggests she would be a lot of fun at the party and would have a lot of stories to tell. If Emmy is busy, I might invite Kasey Chambers or Kathleen Edwards. Kathleen swears a lot, which could be cool. I was thinking of inviting Steve Earle (and he would always be welcome) and I don't think he can finish a sentence without dropping the f-bomb. That guy can swear. He makes me feel rather amateurish about it.

3) Jeff Tweedy. Any dinner party of mine is going to be music heavy, and I am even now trying to decide if I can invite one more. But Tweedy's music is most intriguing to me right now, and interviews with him reveal a thoughtful person. Not only has he battled with addiction, but he thinks deeply about his own celebrity and does not take himself too seriously. Or so it seems. Who knows, he might be a pain, but I also thought I could get him and Emmylou to sing later. With me, of course.

4) Anne Lamott. I need to read more of her stuff, but really miss her regular column. I remember a few from around 2004 that made me feel just a tiny bit better that someone else felt as awful as I did about the Bush admin. She writes thoughtfully about faith and life and I think would be wonderful company at this little meal. I would also invite Barbara Kingsolver here. I remember crying while reading her book Animal Dreams, which isn't normally a problem, but I was sitting in a Colorado brewpub at the time and I think my waitress was starting to worry about me. According to Faludi, Kingsolver took a lot of grief for writing a thoughtful column after 9-11, and I am positive she would add an intelligent discussion to the party.

5) Paul Newman. Man, I have enjoyed this man's work in films like Hud, The Hustler, The Verdict and Nobody's Fool, and many more. But I have also admired his commitment to helping others. And I love his salad dressing (bring some, eh Paul?) and other causes.

6) Jane Fonda. I went back and forth on this last spot. Susan Sarandon and Madeline Albright were contenders and seem like interesting people. But I could not pass on the opportunity to talk to someone so connected both to the Hollywood of old and the anti-war effort of the 60s. I know conservatives hate her, and that is one reason that I think she would be interesting. She also knew John Wayne and I would be fascinated to talk to her about such a conflicted person.

Ok, that is my list. Anyone want to add or subtract? Then do your own damn fake dinner party!

January 27, 2008

One more

I am reading Susan Faludi's new book on the post 9-11 period, (The Terror Dream). I have read her previous books and think that some of the issues raised by DT and the Fighting Preacher are explained (at least partially) in her last book, Stiffed, where she explores the issue of masculinity in the post-World War II America and how many men have found their role and status diminished.

I am curious how she addresses the post 9-11 world (here is an op-ed with some clues), and have really just started the book. But her introduction included a paragraph on the immediate aftermath of 9-11 that was too good.

It starts with the observation that immediately after, everyone wanted to compare the event to Pearl Harbor and hoped, I think, that this event would bring us all together in some ethic of shared sacrifice. I think most of us thought that. We too thought this might be
"... a long awaited crucible in which self-absorbed Americans would, at long last, be forged into the twenty-first century's stoic army of the latest Greatest Generation. But the summons to actual sacrifice never came. No draft ensued, no Rosie the Riveters were called to duty, no ration cards issued, no victory gardens planted. Most of all, no official moral leadership emerged to challenge Americans to think constructively about our place in the world, to redefine civic commitment and public responsibility. There was no man in a wheelchair in the White House urging on us a reassessment of American strength and weakness. What we had was a chest beater in a borrowed flight suit, instructing us to max out our credit cards for the cause."

I would echo the lack of moral leadership and would further suggest that not only were we not called to think constructively about our place in the world, but were explicitly told not to. Well, unless we were a fat stupid televangelist. Otherwise, any self-reflection on America's role in the world was met with the charge of "blame America firsters" or some such nonsense. Any introspection was bad. There was nothing to learn from how we interacted with the Taliban before, or our role in the developing world. Nothing. Bush instead gave us vapid observations about terrorists hating us for "our freedom," all the while urging his administration to reduce our said freedoms.

It is perhaps the saddest of opportunities lost. A world once united behind us now sees us as one led by a dumb cowboy preacher. Worse, a dumb cowboy preacher who likes to invade countries while swaggering. History will not be kind to this President.


Obama wins big:
"With 99 percent of the electoral precincts reporting, Mr. Obama had 55 percent of the vote, Mrs. Clinton had 27 percent, and Mr. Edwards had 18 percent."
And his speech is, er, Presidential:
“We are up against decades of bitter partisanship that cause politicians to demonize their opponents instead of coming together,” he said. As the crowd cheered, he added: “It’s the kind of partisanship where you’re not even allowed to say that a Republican had an idea — even if it’s one you never agreed with. That kind of politics is bad for our party, it’s bad for our country.”

Sully points to some other interesting trends here, most importantly that Obama won some 52 percent of the non-black vote under 30. Among those over 60, he won only 15%, suggesting that the racist legacy is fading. I hope so.

And here is hoping that we have some new leadership for this country. The last 8 years have been so bad and the previous 8, while by comparison more stable and with less torture and war, not a great time either. I would love someone new to take us away from this partisan mess.


Speaking of the last 8 years, a few notes. One kind of new and one really not so new. The kind of new (this story will explain) has to do with our President's self-vision. Turns out, our President, in addition to reminding his visitors that the Oval office is really "oval" points them all to his favorite painting.

The myth of Mr. Bush as Christian cowboy is symbolized in his favorite painting, which he calls "A Charge To Keep." The painting appears on the back cover of his official campaign biography, A Charge To Keep, whose title is taken from a hymn written by Charles Wesley in 1762. The President talks about the painting and how it symbolizes him and his administration each time he gives a tour of the Oval Office. Mr. Bush is especially pleased when people tell him he looks a little like the Christian cowboy - who, to be fair, he really does resemble.

Perhaps especially funny given the story that Mr. Bush is actually afraid of horses, but the story gets even better.
Mr. Bush claims the painting depicts a Methodist circuit rider, but "The Slipper Tongue" actually concerned a silver-tongued Nebraska horse thief who winds up fleeing, as depicted in Koerner's painting, from a lynch mob.
Of course, art knows no such singular explanation. The President has every right to see in that painting what he wants. But others can still disagree with how he see himself:
Ah, horseshit. He's riding recklessly up a cliff, believing he's on a God-given mission and enjoying it so much that he does not heed whether his horse is about to get crippled on the slick shale underfoot. The President, in macho mode, cannot imagine the possibility of leading his imaginary Christian nation right off a cliff. And so that is just what happens. As the Good Book says, "They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.... In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them." (Deuteronomy 32:28, 35)

January 25, 2008

Friday afternoon stuff--updated

I like clever blog post titles, I just rarely write them. So I must grab them when they appear.
9iu11iani the big loser


And while not quite a blog post title, this review of the new Rambo had a great title:
Hate it when that happens.
Rambo combines an unapologetic return to the grand action-movie tradition of blowing shit up (one explosion is so big, it leaves behind its own miniature mushroom cloud) with a Saw-era interest in close-ups of human viscera. . . .If you like seeing people blown in half, beheaded, and impaled, have a ball (but don't sit next to me on the subway home, please). If you don't, the horror of these images is hardly going to leave you pondering the plight of the Karen in Myanmar. Stallone has said that he hopes the film will raise awareness of the civil war there, but his use of actual news footage of Burmese atrocities as the film opens seems like a pious canard (and an invasion of privacy of the real people whose deaths we witness).


And while we are at Slate, an interesting essay on the role the feds played in perpetuating the sub-prime mess.


Forgot this little gem:
"'American-Style Torture"
The phrase appears in Asia Times. Sigh."

Sully stole my "sigh." But it fits here. Thanks to Bush, Cheney, we are a torturing people.

The Stimulus Swindle (Commentary)

The Stimulus Swindle (Commentary): "President Bush is undoubtedly pleased. He said he wanted 'stimulus' built primarily on tax cuts and no new public investment--more proof of his desire to win the Most Out of Touch President title from Herbert Hoover (at least Hoover proposed new infrastructure with the tax cuts he claimed would prevent the Great Depression).

Let's be clear: There's nothing inherently bad about Washington interacting with Big Business, and nothing wrong with 'stimulus' as a concept. But as this recession intensifies, there's a big problem with politicians catering exclusively to Big Business and an even bigger problem with converting 'stimulus' into yet another code word for 'swindle.'"
What is more, I suspect that the GOP especially believes that the American people are so easy to buy off that a 300 dollar rebate will suffice. No matter that 700 billion for the war is being ignored. No matter that there is no investment in something for the social good. No matter.


As I noted in the comments about yesterday's vote in the Senate, I called several Senate offices to voice my opposition to telecom immunity. I am still wondering how anyone with even a bit of moral sense can vote for this. Of course, the Republicans will vote in lemming style. Sigh.


Speaking of conservatives, The Washington Note suggests that Huckabee will be the VP nominee of choice fro whoever wins the nomination. Yeah, that's right. A lying racist will be on the ticket to appeal to the "moral" base.

Seriously, I don't get it. The religious conservatives don't mind a racist. Where does that come from in their Bible?

That makes me wretch more than sigh.


Interesting poll at Beliefnet on Evangelical political opinions. Some positive trends there. Most prioritize ending torture and saving the environment. That doesn't explain how they continue to vote Republican when the GOP appears to have the slogan of "Torture a baby seal for Jesus" but it suggests that there is a tide of change there. I hope.

But then I read down and found two disturbing questions. #22 asks if they believe that the "the Constitution established the U.S. as a Christian nation?" That is the American Constitution, I hope, and the same one that doesn't even mention God. 54 percent say yes, suggesting that the idiot David Barton is more effective than Gordon Wood or Mark Noll. Sigh.

#23 asks:
George W. Bush has talked about his faith and how it influences his policy positions. Would you like the next president do more of this, less of this, or about the same?
While split between more, less and about the same, more has the most votes. In what world has Bush's faith discussions been positive? Anyone?

January 24, 2008

With friends like his....

Reid Clears Hurdle for Bush-Cheney Spying Bill

I called Reid's office this morning and then a few other Senators this afternoon. Reid's office claims that he opposes telecom immunity. Everything I read suggests otherwise. What kind of person suggests that we should issue a blank check for company actions when we don't even know the extent of their misdeeds? Oh, right. That kind.

January 23, 2008

Feeling jaded and cynical

Reading the news and see that Huck is at it again:
"Mike Huckabee compared America to Nazi Germany. He first implored the audience to renew their 'commitment to Christ' and 'to our nation, to its heritage, as well as to its future,' adding 'do we expect the seculars [sic] to do it? Do we expect the unbelievers to lead us, and if so, how will they lead us and where?'"
See. American needs to be run by a Christian like Huckabee and we shouldn't see that as a call for his version of a theocracy? Oh, and he goes on to compare America to Nazi Germany because of abortion. Nice. I am starting to dislike Huckabee tremendously.


Speaking of people I don't like, Republicans in congress once again upheld Bush's veto of the SCHIP program. As I have said to Steve and others on this blog, I understand concern about government programs. This one helps kids who have parents who can't afford health insurance. But Bush won't do it.


Speaking of Republicans I loathe, a man named Roger Stone has created a 527 group to mock Hillary Clinton. I won't tell you the name, but just check out the group's initials. And they will be selling T-Shirts. It is enough to make you weep.


At least there are some not fooled by Huck.
"Huck's very bright, and he could be a quick study if he applied himself to an in-depth study of policy and political theory. But that's not who he is.
He's spent his entire adult life as a message shaper -- translating ideas into marketable slogans, memorable catch-phrases, and heart-felt passion. He's very good at what he does, but beyond the surface glitter of his rhetoric, there's no there there. This is not a man who can (or would want to) discuss the finer details of Kirkean conservatism; even though he is a seminary-trained preacher, he has little patience for, nor interest in, the complexities of theology that underlie Christian social thought. He's a pragmatist and a technician, not an ideologue or philosopher...
I love the man, but he's almost as superficial as his enemies paint him to be. His destiny is to be, as Ross says, a motivational speaker or talk-show host. It would be wonderful if he broke out of this mold he's created for himself, but don't count on it. That's just not who he is," - a former Huckabee staffer,


Under the "not news" for most of us:
The Associated Press reports the study, published on the website of the Centre for Public Integrity, concluded the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanised public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretences”.

According to the study, 935 false statements were issued by the White House in the two years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The real question is does anyone care? Has anyone learned a damn thing? Will people make the same mistake if given a chance to bomb another country?


January 22, 2008

Photo with a thousand words from Hitting Bedrock

And probably unfair to Bush. But during a photo op for MLK day, Bush hugs a child and, well, you can see:

David Brooks on conservatives

He discusses how pragmatic the Reagan admin was by comparison (though of course he forgets much of the bad policy and attacks on government that Ronnie gave us). But then, Brooks, suggests, the party tightened:
"The definition of who was a true conservative narrowed. It became necessary to pass certain purity tests — on immigration, abortion, taxes and Terri Schiavo.

An oppositional mentality set in: if the liberals worried about global warming, it was necessary to regard it as a hoax. If The New York Times editorial page worried about waterboarding, then the code of conservative correctness required one to think it O.K.

Apostates and deviationists were expelled or found wanting, and the boundaries of acceptable thought narrowed. Moderate Republicans were expelled for squishiness. Millions of coastal suburbanites left the party in disgust." [Emphasis mine]

January 21, 2008

Why are the media ignoring Huckabee

I must say that it has been a while since I agreed with this man, but Chris Hitchens nails it:
Gov. Mike Huckabee made the following unambiguously racist and demagogic appeal in Myrtle Beach, S.C., last week:

You don't like people from outside the state coming in and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole; that's what we'd do.

This is a straightforward racist appeal for the following reasons:

1) The South Carolina flag is a perfectly nice flag, featuring the palmetto plant, about which no "outsider" has ever offered any free advice.

2) The Confederate battle flag, to which Gov. Huckabee was alluding, was first flown over the South Carolina state capitol in 1962, as a deliberately belligerent riposte to the civil rights movement, and is not now, and never has been, the flag of that great state.

3) By a vote of both South Carolina houses in the year 2000, the Confederate battle flag ceased to be flown over the state capitol and now only waves (as quite possibly it should) over the memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers.

January 20, 2008

The church, the individual, and social justice

Thanks to Natalie, I am reading James K. Smith's Who's Afraid of Postmodernism. Smith is trying to explain how post modernism can influence the church in a positive way. I bought it partially because I am one of those historians who is uncomfortable with theory, and thought this would be a good refresher. But I am finding the discussion on church very interesting. Even as I am just starting this book, I found this great discussion about the difference between the individual and the "church."

Page 29. While discussing the problems of the "modern" church, Smith says:
Within the matrix of the modern Christianity, the base "ingredient" is the individual; the church, then is simply a collection of individuals. Conceiving of Christian faith as a private affair between the individual and God--a matter of my asking Jesus to "come into my heart"--modern evangelicalism finds it hard to articulate just how or why the church has any role to play other than providing a place to fellowship with other individuals who have a private relationship with God. With this model in place, what matters is Christianity as a system of truth or ideas, not the church as a living community embodying its head. Modern Christianity tends to think of the church either as a place where individuals come to find answers to their questions or as one more stop where individuals can try to satisfy their consumerist desires."

Perhaps it is this obsession with the individual which holds us back? I am not completely sure how to connect all the dots, but this consumerist tendency that is now central to the church as well, certainly keeps us from addressing larger social and moral issues. I know a lot of Christians who do a lot of "good" in their community. They feed the hungry and donate money and clothes to the poor. They are concerned to help their neighbor during a crisis, and might be some of the first to stop and help someone clearly in need.

Yet, those same Christians, in my opinion, often vote in ways that actually perpetuates some of the social ills. I am sure they would dispute this, but it seems inconceivable to me that Republican tax and economic policies are congruent with their heart for helping people in need. Not that Democrats offer some magic solution, mind you, but voting for tax cuts and a system that rewards wealth and opposes health care for the middle and lower classes seems contradictory.

I think one of the key issues might be individualism and the ability for so many to compartmentalize their lives from that broader context. Individualism, after all, is the rallying cry for the GOP. Moral issues become mostly sexual or drug and alcohol use--economic choices and systemic problems are just "policy." When faced with a person lacking an individual meal, they respond. When faced with a system that rewards corporations who exploit those in need--they are unsure what to do. Compassion, then, competes with the cold, hard, capitalist ethos. Hungry, and I will feed you. But if you are harmed by policies that help me, I will do little. Or perhaps more accurately, I don't know how to do anything because it means asking questions about how I have what I have, and how I live my life.

Bono, in the endorsement for Jim Wallis' new book says:
I had always been skeptical of the church of personal peace and prosperity ... of righteous people standing in a holy huddle while the world rages outside the stained glass.
Bono and Wallis think the tide is changing. I hope they are right.

Opening my Sojourners and I see a review of The Missing Class which explores those who are
the “near poor” or “missing class”—households that fall between the stable middle class and the impoverished. Their household incomes range from $20,000 to $40,000.

Our “missing class” neighbors don’t qualify for, in the words of Newman and Chen, the “dwindling government-provided benefits for the truly poor,” such as public day care, Medicaid, and welfare. But they also lack the means to afford their own quality child care and services. They may have higher incomes, but the stability of homeownership and significant savings eludes them. Those with health insurance are “weakly insured” and have inferior health options. While they may not receive direct subsidies, their security is woven closely to the quality of government spending and institutions—human services, neighborhood schools, libraries, policing, and economic development."

Where is the church discussion about these "near poor?" Where is the framework to talk about how individuals work their asses off and lose ground in a system that values and rewards individualism? How do we have a discussion about the contradictions between a belief system that says we are all equal because of what God thinks of us and an economic system that pits us against each other?

I think the church, as a community, can do much on this and other issues. But it will require a sea change to do so.

January 19, 2008

Saturday night dinner and a movie

We worked tonight on two dinners--one for tomorrow night and one for tonight. French Onion soup (courtesy of Cooks Illustrated--a cooking magazine we cannot recommend enough) and an ad-libbed recipe for chicken tacos that I threw together for tonight.

And a film. SOF picked this one out, and it really caught us both off guard. I believe our friend SD recommended it, though we are a bit unsure. Once is a bit of a musical and mockumentary about an Irish singer (played by Glen Hansard of The Frames) and Czech girlfriend (played by Marketa Irglova--another musician) who perform several songs together in the film. Understated and wonderful, some of the songs are simply magnificent. We watched them again a few times over. And over. The story is simple and actually fades behind the songs.

We have not seen the Huck's low yet--updated--updated again

Or that is how it feels. He raises a dog killing son; cuddles up to the odious John Hagee; opposes evolution even as he clearly doesn't understand basic science; and tries to rewrite his own stance on female submission; said that he wanted to rewrite the constitution to make it line up with God's standards; and I almost forgot continues to claim to have a theology degree that he really doesn't have; and finally told South Carolina racists not only that they should keep their Confederate flag, but should shove a flag pole up the rears of anyone who objected:
"In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag, we'd tell 'em what to do with the pole, that's what we'd do," Huckabee said.
All bad stuff, right? Well, at least for those of us who value basic honesty and have evolved (sorry, Huck) beyond simple racism this guy is a train wreck waiting to happen. But we have not found bottom yet, or at least I fear. Turns out that our friend and former Baptist Minister Mike Huckabee is also a fan of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens:
"Indeed, well before he was a nationally known political star, Huckabee nurtured a relationship with America's largest white supremacist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens. The extent of Huckabee's interaction with the racist group is unclear, but this much is known: he accepted an invitation to speak at the group's annual conference in 1993 and ultimately delivered a videotaped address that was 'extremely well received by the audience.'

Descended from the White Citizens Councils that battled integration in the Jim Crow South, including at Arkansas' Little Rock High School, the Council (or CofCC) has been designated a 'hate group' by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In its 'Statement of Principles,' the CofCC declares, 'We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called 'affirmative action' and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races.'"
Here is hoping that the video surfaces so we can see just what kind of weasel this man is. Even Peggy Noonan sees the problems with this group:
Former Reagan speechwriter and conservative pundit Peggy Noonan pithily declared that anyone involved with the CofCC "does not deserve to be in a leadership position in America."
Huck will fan racism, shout Jesus, and hope that real Christians don't pay attention. The last 7 years suggests that he can get away with it. I still want to believe that conservative Christians are not going to be fooled again. We shall see.

Update: This just in, not only is Huckabee a scumbag, but his denomination is more than willing to look the other way. They
like him:
"“South Carolina should present a real good opportunity for Huckabee because the evangelical community is not only very large, but it’s dominated by Baptists — especially Southern Baptists.” Page, the Southern Baptist president, who has endorsed no candidate, agrees. “Huckabee is surging. He is a humble man. He is a compassionate man, and his message is making an inroad into many hearts.” “My guess, and it’s certainly a guess, is that Huckabee will win,” Page says."
Southern Baptists like the racist liar. Not that I needed any help in my cynicism. But I was foolish enough to believe that the SBC had moved beyond some of this. The fact is, their problem with Bush is not that he tortured--they like that. They didn't mind drowning Katrina, and they certainly don't mind saber-rattling toward more war--they love war (as long as their taxes don't go up). But Southern Baptists, if they have any problem with Bush--it appears--is that he didn't hate the gays enough and wasn't openly racist enough.

I am beyond disgusted.

Updated again
Looks like McCain edged the Huck in SC. I am not sure what to think about that, but Melissa Rogers has more on the early exit polling. Looks like evangelicals and people who say that they have to elect someone who shares their values chose the Huck. General Protestants, Catholics and non-evangelical Christians chose McCain. Evangelicals don't help themselves, do they?

January 18, 2008

Pro-confederate flag group supports the Huck

So glad to see who supports the Huck:
"'Gov. Huckabee understands that all the average guy with a Confederate flag on his pickup truck is saying is, he's proud to be a Southerner ... Mike Huckabee understands we value our heritage, and why. He says it's up to us to decide how. Sen. McCain may have decided that his ancestors, as he puts it, 'were on the wrong side of history when they wore gray.' But in South Carolina, we're proud to be Southerners.'"

Christianity in America

Anglican has an amazing graphic showing the geographical distribution of different denominations.

Friday morning

And I have been sleeping badly for whatever reason. And dreamt that I had the perfect blog post--but now can't remember it.



Reading Eugene Robinson this morning and he says that the hard choices in the election are now. Once we get to the general election, we will have a choice between a Democrat who will most likely promise to work in rescuing families from the sub-prime mess, remove us from Iraq, and try to take our foreign and domestic policy away from what Bush has led us into. In other words, the Democrats will try to be competent and not alienate the rest of the world.

The Republicans, on the other hand, seem stuck with bad or worse choices. Most want to continue Bush's failed economic policies of cutting taxes primarily for the wealthy, deregulating everything in sight--as we did with lenders (thanks, Bush). On Iraq, they are more likely to stay the course, and if the country was foolish enough to elect Rudy--more wars to come.

Robinson is too kind on Huckabee (in my view) and calls him a "mixture of social conservatism and economic populism." I think Huckabee is far more dangerous than that. Perhaps because he is willing to pander to all manner of dangerous people to win? The Cato Institute blog notes the kinds of people Huckabee is willing to raise money with--including some Houston wackjob by the name of Steven Hotze who signed on to this document:
We affirm that the Bible is not only God’s statements to us regarding religion, salvation, eternity, and righteousness, but also the final measurement and depository of certain fundamental facts of reality and basic principles that God wants all mankind to know in the sphere of law, government, economics, business, education, arts and communication, medicine, psychology, and science. All theories and practices of these spheres of life are only true, right, and realistic to the degree that they agree with the Bible.
Reason, take a back seat to a fundy reading of the Bible. To say nothing of Huckabee cozying up to people like Rick Scarborough, who, if I am not mistaken, was the guy who said that God was removing great prophets from our midst (referring to Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy). Sigh. The same guy also said that the hpv vaccine
seems to signify that God's moral law regarding sex
outside of marriage can be transgressed without consequence.

Big Daddy Weave has a great post on the flag debacle that I linked to last night. He suggests that Huckabee actually doesn't believe in the racist position and quotes from an address he gave in Arkansas. But the fact that he would be willing to pander to the southern racists about their flag makes him even worse.

Anyone who thinks that Huckabee would make a good President needs to look at these people he surrounds himself with. Because electing him would be very similar to electing Jerry Falwell (liberals and gays caused 9-11) or John Hagee (bomb Iran now because God wants us to). Huckabee would make us remember longingly for the stupidity of George W. Bush.

January 17, 2008


Mike Huckabee: Let South Carolina Decide About Confederate Flag - Politics on The Huffington Post

Al Mohler on women's education

He reads that in 2017, female graduates will outnumber male by a healthy margin. His response?
Christians committed to a biblical model of marriage and gender relations must look to this social revolution with a deeper level of concern. The most significant concern must be the long-term consequences of a new matriarchal world order. While Christians support the cause of higher education, the biblical worldview puts a higher priority upon the rightly ordered family and church. This dramatic social change will only serve to subvert that purpose.

January 16, 2008

Hmm, how would conservatives respond if this were Clinton--example 2 million

Talking Points Memo | White House recycles backup e-mail tapes

Weird dream

I often dream about famous people. SOF thinks that is funny since she never does. I once chased Manuel Noriega on a motorcycle, and have met and talked with Bill Clinton and Emmylou Harris--all in my dreams.

Last night, I dreamt that I met Mike Huckabee. He asked me my name and then smiled and said he liked it. I then asked him about his views on Christian Reconstructionism. He frowned and said something about maybe me not being much fun after all. There was some tool next to him who tried to take over the conversation. Then the dream ended.

January 15, 2008

Great blog title--updated

Perhaps greatest. Well, maybe on the list with this one from Sarah. Anyway, damn good. And I haven't even read the entire post:

Updated--Mary comes through on her promise.

Say what now?--updated

From a Huck stop yesterday:
"'I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.' - Mike Huckabee, January 14, 2008"

updated: There is more. MSNBC adds to the story:
"Huckabee often refers to the need to amend the constitution on these grounds, but he has never so specifically called for the Constitution to be brought within 'God's standards,' which are themselves debated amongst religious scholars. As a closing statement he asked the room of nearly 500 supporters to 'pray and then work hard, and in that order,' to help him secure a victory in Tuesday's GOP primary."

As Pandagon noted, this man has no business even running for President and would be a disaster in the White House. Huckabee is dangerous.

Morality vs. Politics and stuff

Over at TPMCafe there is a new book discussion with convicted New Hampshire phone jammer Allen Raymond:
"I was never hired by a campaign to be the moral compass. In fact, morality is a slippery slope and not a political dialogue I would willingly enter or incite. I was hired to engineer victory. With so much at stake, morality was not a luxury to be afforded candidates or their staff."
As a Republican campaign operative at the Republican National Committee it was drilled into me that election law attorneys serve the purpose identifying the bright line of the law so it could be taunted but not crossed. Anybody who has a problem with that or doesn’t get it doesn’t understand America. America is about self interest, within the rule of law.
Damn. I hope that isn't the case. But I fear he is right. But if you are interested, check this discussion out. I have followed a few over the years and they are often very interesting and include a wide range of voices. In other words, unlike the right wing sites I see, this one actually includes conservative voices.


Evidently Huck tried to defend his earlier support for the SBC submission policy.
In one moment that could resonate with Christian conservatives who could dominate South Carolina voting, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee forcefully defended an earlier statement backing the biblical admonition that wives should submit to their husbands.

"I'm not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it," Huckabee said. "I don't try to impose that as a governor, and I wouldn't impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly.... "
But did so again by lying. Again.
He went on to explain that the Bible also commands husbands to submit to their wives and that marriage requires each spouse to give 100 percent to the other.
True. And that has always been the progressive response. But that isn't what the SBC voted for. And it isn't what Huck supported then. Evidently, this resonates with conservatives because they don't have a problem with a liar as long as he quotes enough Bible verses?


In other news, Bush's war has left our forces so depleted that we are at risk here on the home front. "But he is pro-military, Streak. Every winger knows that. Just as they know that God prefers Americans to non-Americans and that God sometimes removes his "covering" when we are nice to gay people."


But the realities of yet another massive Bush failure is there for the reading. I am sure they will blame all of this on Clinton, but Bush had the Presidency and complete control of Congress for 5 years. This is his world. We just live in it. And every conservative who defended him owes us an apology. And if you just turn around and vote for Huckabee, you are simply voting for a Bush who can speak in complete sentences.


Speaking of pandering, C&L has our friend Rudy discovering religion.

Not sure we have to say anything else. Except, I wonder if he ends his prayers with "Amen, 9-11"

January 14, 2008

Shorter Bush

I am the decider, and will decide which facts are relevant. Even if those facts are just in my head.
Talking Points Memo | Bush Disowns Iran NIE: "But in private conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week, the president all but disowned the document, said a senior administration official who accompanied Bush on his six-nation trip to the Mideast. 'He told the Israelis that he can't control what the intelligence community says, but that [the NIE's] conclusions don't reflect his own views' about Iran's nuclear-weapons program, said the official, who would discuss intelligence matters only on the condition of anonymity."

A circle in hell all his own

Or how Anglican described Karl Rove. And Rove shows no sign of changing.

January 13, 2008

The economics of social justice?

Coming home from the store, I heard this story on Muhammad Yunus. You may remember him as one of the Nobel prize winners in economics for his work on "micro-lending" where instead of having to borrow large sums, poor people had access to small amounts that they could use to build a small business or do something to help their impoverished state. It reminds me of what Heifer International does with small amounts of money--helping a poor family get a goat or something that could provide subsistence and possibly some extra income or barter. Yunus' new project is what he calls "social businesses;" a concept I am not completely sure of yet. It sounds much like a non-profit except it is a business.

I am a bit tired tonight and coming off of a horrible sinus headache, so I will be brief. But his idea hits me close to home. I have always struggled with the harsh amorality of capitalism, as well as the insatiable way that it demands more and more. Especially once you get into investment capital, a business that only succeeds but does not grow--eventually doesn't even succeed. The investors demand more for their money. That has always bothered me. That and the sense that profit knows not, nor cares how, that profit was made.

Yunus seems to be getting to some idea of adding a morality back into the economic equation. And that strikes me as something worth talking about. Why does the environmental cost of a product not show up in its price? Why does a company benefit from cutting labor costs? What if a company had as one of its goals--along with profit--the sustainable employment of certain numbers of people?

Perhaps this is naive. But it strikes me that in a world where CEOs made 364 times the average worker last year, that something needs to change.

Ok. Off to bed and something for the head.

January 11, 2008

Well, it is a start

David Brooks admits that Republican economic policies might not fit the current reality:
"Supply-side economics had a good run, but continual tax cuts can no longer be the centerpiece of Republican economic policy."
I am still waiting to see where "supply-side" economics did so well. Talking to an economics student friend of mine, he discussed an economist's study that proved that cutting taxes never makes up for the lost revenue. I think we are all agreed that there is such a thing as too much taxes and there is certainly such a thing as government waste. Republican concerns with those (well, they used to be concerned with government waste) are merited, but the fanciful belief that you can cut taxes and raise revenues is myth. Again, I have no doubt that you can squelch and shrink an economy with too much taxation, but the very belief in supply-side economics has started to rival the belief in America as a Christian nation and the existence of the yeti as favorite myths.

Part of that is the fault of Democrats for allowing the dialogue to be so controlled. They allowed the discussion of the public good to be supplanted with the basic rant that "taxes are bad."

At least Brooks admits that this constant call for tax cuts no longer works. I think he misunderstands his own party, as every Republican I see running for President uses tax cuts as a magical elixir and derides anyone who disagrees as someone who "will raise taxes." That is irresponsible--especially in a time when this President has spent 700 Billion dollars on two wars with seemingly no intention of paying for either.

The Economist on Ron Paul

Suggests that the person who wrote those hateful things in his newsletter is still part of Paul's circle of friends.

Huck the liar

Perhaps that is too strong. But as our friend Bruce Prescott notes, he certainly wants to revise SBC history. During a recent debate, he was asked about his denomination's stance on wifely submission. BDW grabbed this from the transcript (it is on Fox and you know how I hate to link there). Notice the dishonest way that Huckabee responds to the question.
HUCKABEE: You know, it's interesting, everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious questions. So let me try to do my best to answer it.
Yes, I am being persecuted by these questions about religion. It isn't as if I spend time preaching during my campaign. Oh, wait.
The whole context of that passage -- and, by the way, it really was spoken to believers, to Christian believers. I'm not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. I don't try to impose that as a governor and I wouldn't impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I'm a president or whether I'm not a president. But the point...... the point, and it comes from a passage of scripture in the New Testament Book of Ephesians is that as wives submit themselves to the husbands, the husbands also submit themselves, and it's not a matter of one being somehow superior over the other. It's both mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.

So with all due respect, it has nothing to do with presidency. I just wanted to clear up that little doctrinal quirk there so that there's nobody who misunderstands that it's really about doing what a marriage ought to do and that's marriage is not a 50/50 deal, where each partner gives 50 percent. Biblically, marriage is 100/100 deal. Each partner gives 100 percent of their devotion to the other and that's why marriage is an important institution, because it teaches us how to love. (APPLAUSE)

Some weird mixed messages there. On one hand, the passage only applies to Christians--so those of you heathens in the audience, don't worry, I won't ask you to be moral like me.

And as Bruce and BDW point out, Huckabee is purposefully distorting the SBC's stance on submission. Had it been equal submission, few people would have disagreed, but the SBC clearly advocated a one-way submission where the wife submits to Hubby because he is in submission to God.
The view of mutual submission was not embraced by the drafting committee of the Family Statement which Huckabee signed his name to. Committee member Dorothy Patterson declared that "When it comes to submitting to my husband even when he's wrong, I just do it. He is accountable to God."
Not only did SBCers assert an unequal submission, some openly derided equality as --gasp-- feminism.
Just a few years ago, Russell Moore, theology dean and academic vice president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary denounced the practice of "mutual submission." Touting "Biblical Patriarchy," Moore argued that evangelicals who practice "mutual submission" in marriage have been influenced by a "thoroughly feminized grassroots theology" which he says is "bubbling up" in academic and denominational life.
Huckabee is once again trying to toe a line--and a line that Bush didn't have to manage. Bush could simply throw out some code words to the faithful and be done with it. But Huck is trying so very hard to convince the church goers that he is their guy that he has to be far more explicit about his faith. But on the other side, he has to assure the rest of America that he isn't a fundamentalist--which of course, he is. Here (and I think that is why his initial response is irritation) he is forced to explain church language to the secular audience. And if they don't follow up, it sounds like the SBC is some bastion of feminine equality.

End of the day--Huckabee is just as much of a politician as Hillary or anyone else. He lies and dissembles and essentially tells the audience what they want to hear--even if that contradicts what he told the church last Sunday.


January 10, 2008

Thursday musings on Hillary and the election

SOF is on the road, so it is just me and the menagerie. Oh, that and computer problems. And calling AT&T only to find myself arguing with a computer voice:

CV: Tell me if you want to pay your bill, or discuss your bill.

Me: Neither

CV: I am sorry, I didn't understand you. Do you want to pay your bill or discuss your bill.

Me: Sigh.


I have had numerous conversations with people about the election. Everything from conservative friends very lukewarm on their field, to liberals deeply worried that Hillary might win the nomination. And I understand the concerns. Few people ignite the right more than Hillary. A friend told me today that she was "scary"--whatever the hell that means.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a big fan. But given the fact that those same people making excuses for George "Torture" Bush, it makes me less than thrilled with our process.

And here is a flash. It doesn't matter who the Democrats put up, the right will go after them. Karl Rove is already making racist comments about Obama ("jive talking," lazy, etc.) and those will only continue. Those moderates or conservatives who tell us now that they "don't have a problem with Obama" will be repeating the "I heard he is a Muslim" mantra in a few months. I remember conservative friends and family telling me in 1992 that they "didn't have a problem with Gore--it was that Clinton they didn't like." Yeah. In 2000, Al Gore had become the anti-Christ. And the same people who thought John Kerry was well-spoken and reasonable (if maybe a bit liberal) in the 90s all of a sudden discovered that he was a horse-faced doofus who actually didn't serve his country.

The right will go after who ever. And I hate to say this, but it won't matter if Hillary is the nominee. We will have to fight back stupidity at every turn.


Tonight I turned on Austin City Limits to find an hour-long Crowded House concert. I really never listened to them that much beyond their hits, but I could not turn the TV off. That Neil Finn can sing. And write.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Bush and the Constitution

Sigh. Bush hates oversight I guess.
George Bush doesn’t like the Constitution. Especially that part where the Senate has to confirm his appointments. Remember when he wanted coal industry executive Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety agency? Stickler was turned down by the Senate twice. So in late 2006 Bush did what he does and gave Stickler a recess appointment. Now that the recess appointment has expired, Bush has found that by putting “acting” at the beginning of a job title, he can appoint people whenever he likes?

January 9, 2008

Volokh on Ron Paul

And I think, a good point:
In other words, Paul's campaign wants to depict its candidate as a naïve, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his behalf. This portrayal might be more believable if extremist views had cropped up in the newsletters only sporadically--or if the newsletters had just been published for a short time. But it is difficult to imagine how Paul could allow material consistently saturated in racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and conspiracy-mongering to be printed under his name for so long if he did not share these views. In that respect, whether or not Paul personally wrote the most offensive passages is almost beside the point. If he disagreed with what was being written under his name, you would think that at some point--over the course of decades--he would have done something about it.

January 8, 2008

Ron Paul on race

Sully has part of it here.

O'Reilly's buffoonery

Get this, O'Reilly: I Had No Choice But To Defend the Constitution. Oh, and he tells the staffer that "the whole world will see what he did." Because the whole world watches the buffoon?

More Huck and stuff

Hearkening back to our discussion on evolution, I read that Huckabee seems to echo the misunderstanding about the word "theory":
"Huckabee said he has no problem with teaching evolution as a theory in the public schools and he doesn't expect schools to teach creationism."
More of the "educated guess" approach to scientific theory. I think that is what bothers me the most about Huckabee's denial of evolution--he doesn't understand the basic arguments. He also suggests that his beliefs have nothing to do with his ability to be President. Yet, as President, he would oversee spending decisions on science--and my zoology friends tell me that grant money has dried up in the last 8 years. People may oppose evolution all they want, but they often ignore the role that the understanding of evolution plays in developing new medicines and understanding our world. Most I talk to are fine with the medicines, they just don't want to accept any connection to evolution.

And, as Chris Mooney suggests, this attack on science has become a cornerstone of the modern Conservative movement.
From Barry Goldwater's anti-intellectualism, through Ronald Reagan’s sympathy for creationism and Newt Gingrich's passion for science "skeptics," on through the present day, Republicans have shown a marked preference for politically inspired fringe theories over the findings of long-established and world-renowned scientific bodies.
That anti-intellectualism has become gospel among the religious right and Mike Huckabee is the logical outcome of that approach. A well-spoken and funny man who denies evolution, and thinks David Barton is the greatest living American historian. An anti-intellectual President? Of course, we only have to look at the current resident of the White House for what that looks like. And it isn't a pretty situation.


Speaking of Bush, he has a very deluded view of his own place in history:
"I can predict that the historians will say that George W. Bush recognized the threats of the 21st century, clearly defined them, and had great faith in the capacity of liberty to transform hopelessness to hope, and laid the foundation for peace by making some awfully difficult decisions," Bush told Yonit Levi of Israel's Channel 2 News.
Bush added, "well, liberty is a good thing, unless you are an American citizen expecting your phone not to be tapped." Ok, I made that one up. But Bush also called himself a "realistic guy."

It is that kind of realism that denies science and believes that cutting taxes is a way to pay for a trillion dollar war.


I post this with fear and trepidation, but the issue of the masculine Christianity is out there and part of our landscape. Bruce Wilson connects the Godmen idea to Christian Reconstructionists and the "Beautiful Girlhood" movement, both led by people like Doug Philips (who, if Huckabee can't get David Barton, would make a great Huckabee-like approach to education and history--in other words, he is an idiot). Philips
blames the "fatherhood problem" on early feminists and 19th Century Unitarians, the Industrial Revolution, and a lack of Olde Tyme Religion. Other parties, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, seem to feel the problem of wussy, irresponsible American males can be combatted via special "manly" Bibles.
Yes, that is right, they have "manly Bibles."

January 7, 2008

Tax cuts--updated

Sorry, had to post this.

Running errands today, I heard two different stories where Republicans--both nationally and here in Ok--are still pushing for tax cuts. Yeah, the deficit is growing and undermining our dollar, but we have to have more tax cuts.

Seriously? Are Republicans that bad at math? I am not good at it, but come on! Even I believe we should pay for things--even when those things are poorly conceived and managed wars. Is there something in the water? Oh, we have a surplus? Tax cuts. Oh, we have a deficit? Tax cuts. Economy is strong, you say? Tax cuts. Economy in the dumper? You know what will cure that? Some more tax cuts.

Just as long as your grandkids have to pay the bill. No wonder Republicans have the reputation for fiscal responsibility.

Updated--Turns out I was channelling Paul Krugman: "
When the economy was (sorta, kinda) strong, it showed that tax cuts work, and so we needed to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Now the economy is falling off a cliff — although according to the White House, nobody is predicting a recession (I seem to know an awful lot of nobodies) — and you know what that means: we’d better make the Bush tax cuts permanent."

Is this good for democracy?

Or another fix in search of a problem? Or is it creating more problems? Jeff Toobin suggests that the court will not fix this one:
As a general matter, in recent years the Court has been reluctant to find what is charged in this case: a violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. (The notable exception, to belabor the issue, was for a plaintiff named George W. Bush.)

Theological superficiality--aka Joel Osteen--and other stuff

H/t to my friend Anglican for this Slate essay on Joel Osteen. Though calling Osteen superficial might be a bit kind. I love it when God causes rich people to get richer.
"For it turns out that the divine hand turns up everywhere, at least in Joel Osteen's life. God upgrades his reservations to first class on a long international flight; God spares his car in a water-planing wipeout on the Houston interstate; God allows Osteen and his wife/co-pastor, Victoria, to flip a property 'for twice as much as we paid for it' in a once-sketchy Houston neighborhood; God swings a critical vote on the Houston zoning board to permit Lakewood to move to its mammoth Compaq Center digs—and God even saw fit 35 years earlier to ensure the engineer who designed the ramps leading to the Compaq Center provided easy parking access for Lakewood. This is a long, long way down the road from the inscrutable, infant-damning theology of this country's Calvinist forebears—it is, rather, a just-in-time economy's vision of salvation, an eerily collapsible spiritual narcissism that downgrades the divine image into the job description for a lifestyle concierge."


In what seems like an Onion headline, we learn that Bush seeks to restore America's tattered image by traveling? Yes, because the best antidote to Bush's creation of anti-American sentiment is, well, more Bush.



Speaking of Bush's America, the economy continues to struggle, especially for those not blessed to be rich. Perhaps all of that legislation aimed at protecting the rich has unintended consequences after all, right?


Glenn Greenwald has a great post in Salon about how conservatives responded to Obama's victory in Iowa. Many, it must be noted, celebrated the win without snark. But others could only do so by invoking racist assumptions about Obama's followers. And it isn't just about race, but about what feels like a real disconnect between reality and the way they see the world. In this case, conservatives like Jonah Goldberg suggest that if Obama were to lose, that
certain segments of American political life will become completely unhinged. I can imagine the fear of this social unraveling actually aiding Obama enormously in 2008.
As Greenwald points out, "unhinged political behavior" actually describes how conservatives have responded. He notes the Republican operatives flown into Florida to riot against the recount, or Rudy Giuliani inciting white cops to riot against then Mayor Dinkins.

This reminds me of how conservatives often talk about political partisanship--as if the major players are on the left. As steves has pointed out here, there are certainly those types on the left, but the list of right-wingers prominently displayed on the media who spew out vitriol on a daily basis is truly staggering.

Or, it reminds me of the people who justified voting for Bush because they feared what John Kerry or Al Gore might do. Might do? That is all well and good unless you look at what Bush and his crew actually have done. Even in 2004, we had ample evidence of incompetence, torture, dissembling, etc. We had growing debt, a poorly managed war with moving goal posts and moving justifications. We had early evidence of constitutional malfeasance, and we had absolute evidence of fiscal irresponsibility. Yet the fear was some lefty doing what? Feeding the poor? Actually attending to insurance reform? Daring to put together a fabric of government that might respond to man-made and natural disasters? Might actually ask the American people to pay for their current wars rather than simply shifting the cost to their grandkids?

Please don't misunderstand. I am peeved, so the scales look a little uneven this morning, but I understand there is much validity to conservative thought. I have said that here before. I remember hearing George McGovern talk about the creative dialogue between conservatives and liberals that informed our politics, and I agree. I also know that many liberal proposals have their own unintended consequences. But when the country has shifted so far to the right, and gotten us in such worse condition, don't you have to stop blaming the left? When even Democrats are right of center (in many cases) and the Republicans were in complete charge for at least 5 of the last 7 years, don't you have to start recognizing that conservatives have made some errors? At the very least, don't you have to stop pointing at some specter of left-wing socialism?

Of course, Jonah Goldberg has himself given us a new book entitled Liberal Fascism with lines like this:
The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

January 6, 2008

McGovern says Impeach Bush

And says these guys are worse than Nixon:
"As former representative Elizabeth Holtzman, who played a key role in the Nixon impeachment proceedings, wrote two years ago, 'it wasn't until the most recent revelations that President Bush directed the wiretapping of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Americans, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) -- and argued that, as Commander in Chief, he had the right in the interests of national security to override our country's laws -- that I felt the same sinking feeling in my stomach as I did during Watergate. . . . A President, any President, who maintains that he is above the law -- and repeatedly violates the law -- thereby commits high crimes and misdemeanors.'"

January 5, 2008


Watching football tonight, and heard Al Michaels joke about waterboarding. He is a Republican troll, but still...

But SOF heard Mara Liassen say that the "insurgents won" in Iowa. Yes. Because Obama and the idiot Huckabee are insurgents.


Speaking of the idiot, Tony said in the comments that Huckabee might pick David Barton as his Sec of Education. I am sorry that Ubub is out of the country for this one! It just cements Huckabee as a moron. Makes me wonder if he would choose Pat Robertson as Sec Def (can pray hurricanes away from us) or large hateful John Hagee (wants to bomb Iran). And I don't even want to think who would oversee government science grants. Perhaps Benny Hinn.

Huckabee makes Romney look better and better.

News review

Did you know there was a Wyoming caucus? Did you know Wyoming had delegates? Did you know Wyoming is a state? :)

Oh, and Romney won it.


Eugene Robinson found some hope in Obama's victory:
The Iowa caucuses showed us the America we like to believe we live in, a country ready to embrace a man with brown skin as its leader.

Jon Swift, as only he can, explains the Iowa caucus
The other big winners were white voters and white members of the party establishment. By voting for Barack Obama, they were able to prove that they are not racist.

Oh, and Obama has a lead in New Hampshire polls.


Talk2Action notes how well the David Barton school has done in convincing most Americans that the founders intended the country to be a Christian nation.


Oh, and this just in, Bill O'Reilly is still an ass.

January 4, 2008

Rudy's response to 6th place in Iowa?

"9-11, 9-11, 9-11"

More troubling Ron Paul news

I think people just want to believe that his assertions of constitutional rule and opposition to the war means that he is a reasonable person. But his track record on race is troubling. We discussed that here about his view on the Civil War, but there appear to be more. Like this:
About blacks in Washington, D.C., Paul wrote, "I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." Paul said Wednesday that his comments came in the context of "current events and statistical reports of the time," and that he opposes racism.
But Orcinus connects him to white supremacists.

Iowa and 2008

Coming home last night from guitar (actually mandolin this time) I heard an interview with Merle Haggard--the same one who wrote "Okie from Muskogee" in the 60s as a response to the Hippie generation, so is hardly a liberal, yet he is completely shocked at where we are as a country. He said if we had another 8 years like this last 8, we wouldn't have a country left.
"Financially, we're broke," Haggard says. "Nobody has any confidence in the man in charge. We're torturing people; we're not known to be that kind of people. People all over the world look up to us, and we're not setting a very good example."
So, that really does make this next election interesting, and that begins in Iowa. And a very interesting Iowa caucus it was. Both Obama and Huckabee won

Josh Marshall says that the caucus reflects the non-establishment candidates from both parties doing well. Sure seems like it.

Sully is unimpressed with Huckabee's win and calls it a win for the Christianists

That's the obvious conclusion of tonight's amazing result. The two Republican leaders are both Christianists to their finger-tips, and the one who actually believes that the country should be run on Biblical lines won. I think he's under-estimated still. This is the party Bush and Rove built. And it isn't done yet.

Amanda from Pandagon is more blunt:
"I’m guessing the Republican party elite is currently experiencing pangs of regret about all the Bible-thumping politicking right now. Turns out the plebes that were supposed to show up and vote for the guy who screamed “Jesus” the loudest are just a little too good at their assigned role."
Huckabee has already proven to be a liar, but he does shout "Jesus" the loudest and the faithful turn out. That scares me just as much now as it did in 2004. Evangelicals haven't learned a damn thing from Bush. Not one damn thing.

But on the Obama side, many are noting the historical nature of his victory. One of Sullivan's readers wrote
My mother, born in Jim Crow Mississippi in 1930, just shook her head - she couldn't believe it.
Sully also quotes Rick Brookhiser from the National Review Online:
"Yes, it's early, yes, a lot could happen. But a man who could not have used certain restrooms forty years ago is in the center ring, not as a freak in the manner of Alberto Fujimori or Sonia Gandhi, nor even as a faction fighter in the style of Jesse Jackson, but as a real player. One of our great national sins is being obliterated, as the years pass, by the virtues of our national system. I don't agree with Obama and I don't particularly like him, but I am proud of this moment,"
I am hesitant to say that our "historical sin is being obliterated," but it is hard to not see this as a positive step.

January 3, 2008

January 1, 2008

Huckabee says "I hate campaign stunts. Here is a stunt to prove it."

Print Story: Analysis: Huckabee may have gone too far on Yahoo! News: "After running an unconventional, surprisingly strong and sometimes strange race to the top tier of the Republican presidential campaign, the former Arkansas governor topped himself Monday with an eyebrow-raising campaign stunt.

He called a news conference to unveil a negative ad that he had just withdrawn from Iowa television stations because, he told a room full of journalists recording the ad, he had a sudden aversion to negative politics. Quite a convenient epiphany.

'If people want to be cynical about it,' Huckabee said, 'they can be cynical about it.'

If he loses Iowa's caucuses on Thursday, New Year's Eve will forever mark the day Huckabee blew it — the day a group of reporters stopped laughing with the witty Republican and laughed at him."