Friday, March 31, 2006

Banned Again?

Looks like the dickless wonders at Moonbattery have banned me. Alas...

And it had been a while since I had posted there. But they have apparently instituted comment moderation, so my comments are not being posted. Instead of just telling me I am banned from their little hate-fest, they are just deleting my comments like the punk sissies they are...

Oh well... who's next...

mojo sends

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Don't worry wireheads, Saturday morning, we will be dropping the pimp hand on, among other things, this new Murray Waas piece in the National Journal on Karl Rove's role in covering up the Niger Memo forgery...

And perhaps it is emblematic of how unraveled it is all becoming up on Pennsylvania Avenue that they have to turn to their bitches on the Hill to cook up embarrassing screed on how the Dark Man is coming north to make us all listen to loud, accordion laden Texano music blaring out of lowered vans with metallic Mexican flag stickers on the windows...

This is what they are actually saying now in order to keep your attention on their emotionally broken antics instead of watching the ball...

That's right boys and girls... let's get the prisoners out providing our national slave labor force... And from no less a personage than my personal favorite closet prozac chomper and failed screen writer, Dana "We can't let men marry horses" Rohrabacher.

Can anyone remember when this kind of hideous nonsense was safely confined to very high-end spectrum AM and shortwave radio between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. instead of issuing from the GOP leadership of the freekin' House of Representatives?

Don't get distracted... this is a side show and a sign of their desperation!
Keep your eyes on the ball folks, this is about to get good...

Or very, very bad...

mojo sends

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Please, not this again

Those liberals are at again. So says this Solon, Rob Anderson, at the the New Republic (subscription required). His take is that Jim Brady, the editorial Wonderlick at who hired Ben Domenech to blog his screed on the Post website, made this brilliant hiring decision because he conformed to Brady's, or the Post's, liberal caricature of what Conservatives are. You see, if only we could see the calm reasonable, INTELLECTUAL heart of conservatism, we would know and respect them. Or Something. Bad News Rob, Benji IS a mainstream conservative. And No, this has nothing to do with the folks in Red State America who pull levers for Republicans, this is about who runs the party and what they believe. And they truly believe the spittle laced crap Benji pumps out. Those conservative intellectuals you moon over have been run out of town. Domenench was not only a contributor to a few conservative mags, he was an editor at Regnery, in fact, he edited Michelle Malkin's racist diatribe about internment and Ponneru's upcoming book Satan is a Democrat, or whatever he is calling it today. He is a PLAYER in the conservative ruling elite. That's why he got that gig. He isn't a caricature of a conservative, he is one, and a pretty typical one.

By the way Rob, you can officially FSCK OFF with the "You Blue state elitists don't get conservatives" Bullshit. The editors here at the Wire lived their Teenage and Twentysomthing years in ORange County CA. We know conservatives better than you Rob, no matter how many Safari's you've made to Mayberry to observe Conservatives in their natural habitat. We lived among them, drank their beer, scared their families and worshipped BAAL right next to their MegaChurches. So DO NOT lecture me about Red STATe. I sit across from them at the dinner table regularly. Unlike you who seem to think they all smell and dance like Willy Buckley.

And exactly how do you reconcile critiquing Liberals for caricatures of conservatives when the premise of your article is, GASP, a caricature of Liberals. DOH! Not to mention, Jim Brady and his ombudsmen, Debbie Howel, are not liberals by any definition. Jim despises us, particularly us in the blogsphere. Anyone who "balances out journalists with a crank like Benjie is not a liberal, nor is he someone who should be trusted with the reputation of the Post.

Have you ever been to Rob? It's a cesspool of racism, paranoia and ignorant stupidity. Yes Rob, I said Racism, read the comments on that site and tell me otherwise. Go visit the comments at Atrios or Firedoglake. Who lives their stereotype and who doesn't Rob?

Why the fsck am I still reading TNR? What the FRAK happened to you people? Rob, do me a favor and never tell me what I know about Conservatives. I know them too well, Rob. It's you and the rest of the Mickey Kaus brigade that need an introduction. Take the elevator to Hell and follow the Banjo music. How's that for a caricature?

Pray For Safety, You Mugs!

Via a trail of broken links, we find this executive order at WhiteHouse.Gov (emphasis mine):
Executive Order: Responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security with Respect to Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to help the Federal Government coordinate a national effort to expand opportunities for faith-based and other community organizations and to strengthen their capacity to better meet America's social and community needs, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment of a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Homeland Security.

Sec. 2. Purpose of Center. The purpose of the Center shall be to coordinate agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services.

Sec. 3. Responsibilities of the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In carrying out the purpose set forth in section 2 of this order, the Center shall:

(a) conduct, in coordination with the WHOFBCI Director, a department-wide audit to identify all existing barriers to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the delivery of social and community services by the Department, including but not limited to regulations, rules, orders, procure-ment, and other internal policies and practices, and outreach activities that unlawfully discriminate against, or otherwise discourage or disadvantage the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in Federal programs;

(b) coordinate a comprehensive departmental effort to incorporate faith-based and other community organizations in Department programs and initiatives to the greatest extent possible;

See? Don't let anybody tell you the White House didn't learn from Hurricane Katrina and Rita that something needed to be done to improve government disaster response efforts! The power of prayer will save America from the evildoers who are doing evil everywhere. Thank God the Bush Administration is spending taxpayer dollars to sponsor certain churches as paragovernment organizations within the Ministry of Fatherland Security.

Maybe next, the Bush Administration will give up on fiscal policy and turn to prayer at the Treasury Department.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Digby Explains What's Wrong With The Media Today

Go read all of it. Here's an incomplete sample:
That's very revealing, I think. Deborah Howell, like so many of her brethren, has so internalized rightwing criticism that it doesn't even seem unreasonable anymore. She "understands" it. This man called her a traitor to her face and all it does is make her feel sad.
When was the last time someone called you a traitor to your face just for doing your job? What is the appropriate response to that?

No Coincidences...

I have a hard time believing, as I used to, that "things just happen" in D.C. Actually, I am sure that they do, but the margin of error on those predictors is getting astronomicaly small...

Case in point: Yesterday, RawStory reported a severely underplayed story about Karl Rove magically "discovering" 250 emails from VP Big Time regarding the Plame matter. Pat Fitzgerald has been after these documents for a while now and it looks, at least if this story is true, that he has flipped Rove...

Less than 24 hours later the White House Chief of Staff Andy Card resigns.

Sorry, I just don't believe these things just happen, any more...

mojo sends

A Small But Welcome Step...

We get this from AmericaBlog this morning:
Well, the Pentagon is apparently not happy about what the the White House is doing, and reissued the rules about troops NOT attending partisan political events in uniform. The document reiterating the rules came from Rummy himself, which is interesting since he's as political as the White House. I suspect General Pace, the Joint Chiefs chair, is the one who flipped out and forced Rummy to do this.

I would like to believe that Gen. Pace found his testicles down in that old footlocker where he apparently kept his oath to defend the Constitution and decided to take both out, dust them off, and go break a foot off in the Sec. Def's ass over this...

I would like to believe that...

Either way, it's a small but welcome development...

mojo sends

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Can You Hear Me NOW?"

Today, in the Boston Globe, Charlie Savage writes:
In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

After The New York Times disclosed in December that Bush had authorized the military to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without obtaining warrants, as required by law, Bush said his wartime powers gave him the right to ignore the warrant law.

And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.

Meanwhile, Senator Feinstein says it's premature to censure the President until an investigation is conducted into whether the President is "bypassing" the law. You'll note: the Senator is getting right on that... (Any day now, she'll be calling for hearings. Or something. Does anyone want some apple pie? It's a little stale, but you'll enjoy it. Eat up, before it's all gone, you ungrateful, lying little terrorists.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

That's It. I'm Done.

Updates: 1.0, 2.0.
Via Digby, we find this news of the results of a study done by the University of Minnesota explaining that it's not just my imagination.
MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (3/20/2006) -- American’s increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn’t extend to those who don’t believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota’s department of sociology.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in “sharing their vision of American society.” Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. “Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years,” says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study’s lead researcher.

Edgell also argues that today’s atheists play the role that Catholics, Jews and communists have played in the past—they offer a symbolic moral boundary to membership in American society. “It seems most Americans believe that diversity is fine, as long as every one shares a common ‘core’ of values that make them trustworthy—and in America, that ‘core’ has historically been religious,” says Edgell. Many of the study’s respondents associated atheism with an array of moral indiscretions ranging from criminal behavior to rampant materialism and cultural elitism.

Edgell believes a fear of moral decline and resulting social disorder is behind the findings. “Americans believe they share more than rules and procedures with their fellow citizens—they share an understanding of right and wrong,” she said. “Our findings seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good.”

The researchers also found acceptance or rejection of atheists is related not only to personal religiosity, but also to one’s exposure to diversity, education and political orientation—with more educated, East and West Coast Americans more accepting of atheists than their Midwestern counterparts.

The study is co-authored by assistant professor Joseph Gerteis and associate professor Doug Hartmann. It’s the first in a series of national studies conducted the American Mosaic Project, a three-year project funded by the Minneapolis-based David Edelstein Family Foundation that looks at race, religion and cultural diversity in the contemporary United States. The study will appear in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.
That's it, then... America hates me. You can all just stop pretending otherwise. I get the picture already.

I'll be leaving as soon as I can find a place to live where I'm not loathed and despised for my religious affiliation. In the meantime, if anyone asks, tell them I'm a unitarian.

p.s. No, I will not be coming to your Bon Voyage parties...

Update 1.0: I see this study has made The Washigton Monthly. I just posted the following in comments there.
You know what? I really doubt even a significant fraction of the people called in this poll really gave a fig about the technical distinction between atheism and agnosticism, much less the difference between their "hard" and "soft" variants.

The study hasn't been published yet— just the press release announcing the results. When we see the methodology, we'll know for sure, but my suspicion is that it didn't provide these distinctions in any detail to the respondants before asking them the questions.

More than likely, I'll bet, the prevailing understanding of what "atheism" means in America is actually this: an atheist is someone who refuses to join a church on principle. From that perspective, an atheist and an agnostic are pretty much the same thing.

Read the press release. The study purports to show "findings [that] seem to rest on a view of atheists as self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good." That's a viewpoint that doesn't give a flip whether you are personally conflicted about whether you can prove that God does or doesn't exist. It's actually pretty stark.

The study seems to show that Americans generally think that you don't have to attend any church if you don't feel like it, but you better be theoretically willing to join one. If you aren't, then you're a moral degenerate unfit for membership in civil society.

Are we clear about that, yet? America doesn't care whether you call yourself an atheist, an agnostic, a "bright" or a freethinker, an objectivist, or whatever. If, as a matter of principle, you aren't willing to identify yourself as an adherent of some religion or another, then you're scum— lower than queers, wogs and Al Qaeda. That's what America thinks of atheists.

Update 2.0: Kevin Drum says he received emailed from Andrew Sabl that tries to discredit the George H.W. Bush quote I reprinted in an earlier post on this topic. The quote is from Robert Sherman, who claims to have personally had the exchange with the former President when he was campaigning for reƫlection in 1992. Sherman has long claimed that he never made an audio tape recording of the incident and that all the other members of the Chicago press corps present at the time are refusing to back him up because the Bush has now publicly denied ever making the statement or expressing similar sentiments.

Now comes Andrew Sabl, a Straussian political philosopher at UCLA, telling us that Sherman has changed his story. The claim is that Sherman is now saying he has a tape recording that he has never released. Sabl doesn't explain why Sherman is supposedly refusing to release a tape he has long claimed he never made, nor can I find anywhere that Sherman is actually on the record making the claim Sabl is reporting.

I emailed Kevin Drum about this, and here's the response I got:
Yes, it's possible I've been gulled. This really wasn't that big a deal to me, and I just did some very cursory Googling. If his story is that he didn't make a tape, and that's still his story, then I accept that.

If I get some time, I'll try to contact Robert Sherman and ask him about this claim that Andrew Sabl is making about him.

One thing I would like to note: because of the widespread distrust of atheists in America, as noted in the survey done by the University of Minnesota, it would be natural to expect that discrediting Robert Sherman would be very easy indeed. All you have to do is call him a liar and an atheist. As everyone apparently "knows" in America, atheists are "self-interested individuals who are not concerned with the common good" and don't share a common sense of "right and wrong," i.e. a moral philosophy Americans recognize as compatible with civil society. Therefore, it would be perfectly natural to expect that atheists would have no reason not to tell lies to advance their interests.

Indeed, you could even tell baseless lies about atheists and make them stick by forcing denials out of them that will only further reinforce the untrustworthyness of atheists. I wouldn't put it past a Straussian political philosopher to do that. Hell, I could see how they'd think they were doing society a favor in the process.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Come Tell Us How You Slew
Those Brave Arabs Two By Two

I have nothing coherent to write about this, except to quote the last verse of Black And Tans by Brendan Behan's brother Dominic.
Well the day is coming fast and the time is here at last,
When each yeoman will be cut aside before us,
And if there be a need, sure me kids would sing, "Godspeed,"
With a verse or two of Stephen Behan's chorus...

Q: So, S9— what do you think of the War On State-sponsored Terrorism?
A: I think it would be a good idea.

Torture? You're soaking in it!

From Andrew Sullivans Blog, he provides different perceptions on Waterboarding by comparing testimony from a captured American Pilot in a WWII war crimes prosecution and to a CIA document describing what is allowed by the White House. I think it makes clear what we've been saying on this blog and on the radio show for some time now: The Bush Administration is engaging in acts that the Allies prosecuted people for doing to us. We defined practices like Waterboarding, rightfully, as criminal acts that require punishment and should not be allowed by a civilized and moral people. I guess we're not that anymore.

The Law of War page that Sullivan links provides some background on this issue:

The prosecutor in that case was vehement in arguing that the captured Doolittle fliers had been wrongfully convicted by the Japanese tribunal, in part because they were convicted based on evidence obtained through torture. "The untrustworthiness of any admissions or confessions made under torture," he said, "would clearly vitiate a conviction based thereon."

At the end of the Tokyo War Crimes Trial, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East of which the United States was a leading member (the Tribunal was established by Douglas MacArthur) convicted former Japanese Prime Minister Tojo and numerous other generals and admirals of a panoply of war crimes. Among them was torture:

The practice of torturing prisoners of war and civilian internees prevailed at practically all places occupied by Japanese troops, both in the occupied territories and in Japan. The Japanese indulged in this practice during the entire period of the Pacific War. Methods of torture were employed in all areas so uniformly as to indicate policy both in training and execution. Among these tortures were the water treatment...

The so-called "water treatment" was commonly applied. The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach until he lost consciousness. Pressure was then applied, sometimes by jumping upon his abdomen to force the water out. The usual practice was to revive the victim and successively repeat the process.

These people in the White House and the Pentagon really are pieces of work.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Victory is Victorious...

Here... now read the words of wisdom from Maximum Leader, and know his plan for your personal victory over evil...

"We're making progress because we've got a strategy for victory. And we're making progress, because the men and women of the United States military are showing magnificent courage. And they're making important sacrifices that have brought Iraq to a historic moment..."

Just unpack that first part in your brain... we are making progress because we have a strategy for victory. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind anywhere within the sound of my hoarse, shouting voice that 1984 has come and gone and we are all now living in Oceania?

"Eurasia is our enemy. Eurasia has always been our enemy. East Asia is our ally. East Asia has always been our ally...

I particularly like the second part... "We are making progress because the men and women of the United States military are showing magnificent courage. And they are making important sacrifices..." So progress is being measured by the number of body bags we are filling or the number of military families we are destroying or bankrupting?

So... this is victory and progress?

Make mine vanilla, thanks...

mojo sends

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Brad DeLong Is Clapping Louder

He writes at the end of a long draft for a lunchtime talk about economic policy:
So what would a prudent U.S. government be doing right now?

+ We're in the up-phase of the business cycle, so we should be running a budget surplus in any event, considerations only reinforced by the unsustainable current-account deficit.

+ We should be making it very clear that as a deficit country we value foreigners who want to invest in us--that we are grateful rather than xenophobic when we think about foreign capital.

+ The Federal Reserve should be making it clear that it is more interested in stabilizing measures of domestic prices than of measures that have a high weight on import prices.

+ International consensus on what to do should market prices move, and should demand for the products of 40 million Asian workers in export industries and 10 million American workers in construction and consumer service industries disappear.
Are any of these things happening?

Still, we're probably going to be OK. Opportunities, not crises.
It's the Tinkerbell Economy.

You're Mistaken

Occasionally, I encounter some fool who mistakes me for a Democrat. They see me howling about corrupt, venal, barbaric and morally bankrupt Republicans, and they assume that anyone who isn't a Republican must be a Democrat. They are wrong; I am not a Democrat.

I have many reasons, but I'm reminded of one of them this morning that I don't usually think about.

People like me give the Democrats a bad name just by continuing to live.

Really. All those links in that paragraph above vector off into a Great Whinging among some of the leading lights of what passes for the intelligentsia in the Democratic Party about the pernicious hostility to Religion so common among the "Left" that— somehow— manages to prevent moderate and liberal Christians from feeling comfortable voting for Democrats. As some of those writers take pains to remind our collective audience, people like me don't actually have to be hostile to Religion for the baseless perception of our hostility to be a significant factor in the decline of the Democratic Party.

So. I'm taking this opportunity now to publicly and clearly declaim all association with the Democratic Party. I changed my registration in 1998, and I've generally voted Green where possible ever since. So don't blame me for your psycho-crisis about whether Democrats speak to evangelical Christians with a sufficiently deferential tone to make them feel warm and fuzzy about leaving the Republican Party.

It's not my fncking fault, you goddam wankers!

I'll consider coming back into the fold when my local, state or national Democratic Party proudly and vigorously defends an openly atheist or agnostic candidate for public office from the inevitable smears based on their religious affiliation.
"I don't know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God." —George H. W. Bush [*]
Until you can summon the spine to stand up to Republicans when they say shit like that, you can please stop blaming me for your fnckups. Thank you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Or Is It The Political Wing Of The Marine Corps?

Comrade Joshua follows up today on the story about the Larimer County GOP in Colorado using uniformed marines as stage props at a partisan fundraising event. He links to this article in The Coloradoan that quotes an unnamed spokeswoman— and, may I just say, "WTF? An anonymous spokeswoman for this!!???"— telling us that nobody violated any code.
The uniformed troops who appeared at the Larimer County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner last weekend did not violate military code, said a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Headquarters' public affairs office.

"I don't think there's any trouble to be had," said the spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, citing protocol. "It's a touchy issue because lots of honorees are being invited to things like this. It's a shame people are trying to turn it into more than that."

Organizations from both parties have been asking military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to attend their events to be honored, and the Marine Corps will turn down those requests if the troops are expected to speak, act in an official capacity to assist with the event or endorse a party or candidate, the spokeswoman said.

Strictly being honored at an event, however, is not against regulations, she said.

Officials at the Pentagon deferred to the Marine Corps for a ruling on the appearances.
Joshua hits all the right notes in his followup post. Go read it.

I just want to highlight what this shows. This wasn't a training accident. It isn't a case of a couple of marines forgetting what the regulations permit. The U.S. Marine Corps is telling us that the official policy has changed, regardless of what the regulations may or may not have to say about it. Appearing in uniform at Republican Party events is now part of the official duties of active duty marines. These marines aren't being disciplined for what they've done. They're being rewarded.

Suck on that and see how it tastes going down.

p.s. You know the amusing part of all this? It apparently isn't in technical violation of the U.S. Code governing the conduct of military personnel. Yes, Virginia— the Hatch Act doesn't cover the military. Congress never bothered to outlaw this kind of partisan political activity on the part of the military, since the DOD had a long-standing directive that pretty much covered the relevant prohibitions. Which means— now that the Pentagon has reversed itself, good luck getting the Congress to plug this loophole.

Things that make you go "hmmm"...redux

Why is the Department of Fatherland Security Aparatchik announcing the pending doom of Bird Flu?

Why am I getting this from Michael Chertoff and not NIH or the CDC in Atlanta? CDC has nothing about this in their fairly comprehensive section on H5N1 and the reality of the threat posed by the virus.

mojo sends

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

On The Road To Gilead...

The Mighty Atrios wonders aloud about the thinking process of abortion criminalization proponents:
I really can't figure out why they can't answer this question. Is it simply recognition of the political reality that punishing pregnant women for this stuff won't go down or is that they really are denying women the agency of their actions? People seem to have no problem with the notion of punishing women for, say, doing drugs or drinking alcohol during pregnancy so I can't quite accept that they would have a problem with holding a woman responsible for terminating her pregnancy.
I can answer this from experience interacting with them on a regular basis gained while working the barricades at clinic defense operations. (My experience is somewhat stale since the passage of the Free Access to Clinics Act has made— for better or worse— the need to do clinic defense work somewhat less pressing, but I doubt much has changed.)

It's both and neither. Take them at their word, Atrios— they really aren't thinking about it. They're typically people with a right-wing authoritarian personality, and one of the common aspects of that mode of thinking is a greatly enhanced capacity for managing cognitive dissonance. They have accepted an authority, which is telling them that p1) abortion is a form of homicide other than, yet morally equivalent to, murder, p2) doctors who perform abortions, and the organizations which conspire with them, should be charged with criminal penalties, and p3) women who have abortions are the victims of this criminal enterprise, not the perpetrators.

You're noticing that p1) and p3) are logically inconsistent, but they honestly don't have the capacity to recognize the pertinence of that fact. Both of these ideas arrive to them from their authoritarian hierarchy, and they don't see it as their place to question their authority figures. The inconsistency is easily brushed aside because their authority figures tell them so. The chain of hierarchy flows all the way up from rank and file protestors to the militantly anti-abortion clergy figures who lead the movement. At the leadership levels, and I have spoken with some of them, matters of secular law and policy are of no concern to them. They generally accept the proposition that criminalizing abortion means putting women who have them in prison, and where these leaders are not "pro-life" on the death penalty they accept that some women might be eligible for execution. However, they don't see any need to translate their personal views into policy activism, so the subject never enters the program they are handing out to their rank and file.

If you keep pushing on this wedge, here's what I think will happen: the rank and file will start to get the programming from the leadership that criminalizing abortion means putting women who have abortions in prison, and possibly executing them for the crime. This will serve to further stigmatize women who have legal abortions, and will greatly magnify the political polarization between feminists and their antagonists. I wish I were more optimistic that a coherently feminist constituency on this matter might materialize, but I'm not.

I would caution people to be careful how they use this wedge. You may find it cleaves yourself in unexpected and unwelcome ways. It's like inviting a game of Russian Roulette with someone you think is only pretending to be suicidal. They might really be suicidal, and they might really accept your challenge.

Things that make you go hmm...

Watching a live Senate hearing this morning on Iran and the nuclear question...

Some monkey from the State Department this morning talking about how we're going to keep Iran in the box made mention of a reccently inked deal between the U.S. and the government in Dubai to create a new anti-Iran interest section at our embassy there, to press for regime change in Tehran from the safety of our bunkered barcaloungers in a basement in the UAE?

[c.f. this article]

Two immediate questions spring to mind: 1.Quid pro quo? and 2. Have we lost the ability to do this from Iraq?

mojo sends

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What He Said

As we have noted before, The Rude Pundit is, well— rude. Today, he is a must read (NSFW: graphic writing). Just remember: you were warned.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What Is To Be Done In Iraq

Professor Juan Cole directs your attention to the advice from Joost Hilterman, veteran Iraq analyst with the International Crisis Group. He has a list of four things that must be done to prevent the disintegration of Iraq and the failure of its government. The relevant excerpt, stripped of its supporting arguments follows:
First, Iraq's political and religious leaders should unwaveringly advise their followers and supporters to respond only in nonviolent ways to further sectarian attacks, which are sure to come.

Second, Iraqi leaders should make every effort to form a government of national unity that truly represents the country's diverse constituencies and starts the difficult work of healing these wounds, and of governing. The Bush administration should expend significant political capital to ensure this happens, making clear that its continued support depends on it.

Third, once such a government forms, it should revisit the constitution, revise its most divisive elements and turn it into the national compact it was meant to be. This means preventing the country's de facto breakup by establishing administrative federalism on the basis of provincial boundaries (outside the Kurdish region) and creating a formula for the fair, centrally controlled, independently supervised distribution of oil and gas revenues from current and future fields.

Finally, the U.S. should continue to assist in building Iraq's new security forces, making sure they are inclusive and nonsectarian. At the same time, the government should start disbanding the militias that, along with the insurgents, pose the most dangerous threat to the country's stability.

I have only one question. If the continued support from the U.S. should depend on the Iraqi leaders making every effort to form a government of national unity, and that support should come in the form of assistance in building Iraq's new security forces, what happens if Iraqi leaders decide that continued U.S. "support" isn't worth the price?

What do we do then, eh? Make good on our threat to remove support unless a government of national unity forms? Continue pouring blood and treasure into the project even though it just accelerates the descent into civil war?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Armed Wing of the GOP

The caption on that image over at The Coloradoan is "Marilyn Musgrave introduces Marine Sergeant Brandon Forsyth on Friday during the Larimer County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner." [Photo credit: Peter Heacox/For The Coloradoan]

Comrade Joshua is making a big deal over this, and he's absolutely right.
Bob Novak pretty much put us on notice a couple weeks ago that the White House and the RNC were going to make a habit of using uniformed military personnel as props at Republican political rallies. This despite the fact that it is a plain violation of military regulations banning politicization of the armed forces.
People on our old private MaxHeadRoom rantmail list used act like I was a complete nutjob when I complained about how the U.S. military was fast becoming the armed wing of the GOP. I'm getting pretty damned tired of being right about things I would so very much desperately like to be wrong.

Would the last patriotic American to leave the continental U.S. please lower the flag? Thank you.

Update 1.0:Good grief. Now, Comrade Joshua has posted this picture, as well. Seriously, I ask you, dear readers— is this a sign that the Marines are concentrating their recruiting efforts on Republicans? (I almost never see them standing on a stage with any of my favorite political candidates.)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Conservatarians and "Political Religion"

This is a followup to my earlier post this week, We Are All Liberals Now. I've been calling out American "movement conservatives" as basically equivalent to our Leninists for a while now, and this post stirred up some comment. Before I get into responding to those comments, let me first provide some background.

From the Wikipedia page on Leninism:
In his book "What is to be Done?" (1903), Lenin argued that the proletariat can only achieve a successful revolution consciousness through the efforts of a Communist party that assumes the role of "revolutionary vanguard." Lenin further believed that such a party could only achieve its aims through a form of disciplined organization known as "democratic centralism," where Communist Party officials are elected democratically, but once they are elected and other decisions are made through voting, all party members must follow those decisions.
Does that sound like the way any political parties in America are operating these days? Sure does to me.

In the comments to my earlier post, TheRobb (who blogs here) says, well— he says a lot of things I would say are nonsense, but he does say this:
But the basic thrust of your argument, at least as I see it, is that, as you said "I'm saying it's a political religion."

Pehaps you and I see "religion" in different ways.

For me, "political religion" would confer the status of diety upon Congressional leadership.

Sorry, but unless those people can prove that they created heaven and earth and that they did indeed die upon a cross for me (not to mention raise themselves from the dead), then I am afraid that they don't qualify.

That's what I am seeing when you use the words "political religion". And that's why I view your argument as collapsing under its own weight.
As it happens, I don't particularly like this phrase, and I tend to avoid using it for precisely the reason that it confuses people like TheRobb in the obvious way that he so clearly demonstrates above. Nevertheless, Political Religion is a term of art in sociology that has its own Wikipedia page:
...a political religion is a political ideology with cultural and political power equivalent to those of a religion, and often having many sociological and ideological similarities with religion. Quintessential examples are Marxism and Nazism, but totalitarianism is not a requirement (for example neo-liberalism can be analysed as a political religion).
The term is sometimes treated as synonymous with civil religion, but although some scholars use the terms as equivalent, others see a useful distinction, using "civil religion" as something weaker, which functions more as a socially unifying and essentially conservative force, where a political religion is radically transformational, even apocalyptic.
Both David Neiwert and Glenn Greenwald explicitly referenced this page, and I think it was pretty clear that I was using the term in the way this page describes, so I'd say it's pretty disingenuous of TheRobb to pretend I have staked out a claim I took obvious steps to avoid. (Of course, this isn't the first time I've said that of him.)

However, I wanted to elevate this discussion to the front page, because I think it's worth unpacking something. "For me, 'political religion' would confer the status of diety upon Congressional leadership," he said. I've shown that he's mistaken about that, but let's look at what I'm actually saying his political religion is doing. American "movement conservatarians" are really not trying to deify their political leaders, but they are trying to invest them with the divine right of kings. (It would be nice if the word "reify" worked here, because it rhymes with "deify," but regretably, its root is res not rex, and its meaning doesn't fit quite right.)

TheRobb may not feel comfortable admitting this outside friendly turf, but the President routinely talks like he owes his rule to the will of God, not to the will of the People or any other competing authority. He does it because he knows his base— people like TheRobb, let me make it clear— eat that shit with a spoon. The sentence in Wikipedia about this that ought to make your blood run cold: This doctrine continued with the claim that any attempt to depose a monarch or to restrict his powers ran contrary to the will of God. In other words, while I'm not saying that American conservatarians are confering the status of deity upon their political leaders, I am saying they are happily adopting the radically regressive doctrine that their leaders owe their rule to the will of God, and not to the will of the People.

If you've been paying attention, you probably noticed that I'm now making two seemingly contradictory arguments. On the one hand, I've been calling them Leninists, for their adoption of Communist-like party discipline around the principle of "democratic centralism," i.e. they elect Party officials and take their marching orders from them unquestioningly, even when those orders seem to contradict the political theory that supposedly serves as the foundation of the Party. On the other hand, I'm now saying that they're investing their leaders, particularly the President, with the divine right of kings. If you really think about it— and, no, I'm not holding out much hope that TheRobb will think about this very hard— you'll see how they're really complementary ideas, not contradictory.

The movement conservatives have adopted a "radically transformational" political ideology. They want nothing less than the marriage of economic corporatism, political authoritarianism, and a philosophy of postmodern fundamentalism. (Drieux, there's your PP&E, for you.) That's the "political religion" part. The parallel with Leninism comes when you examine their strategy and tactics. Instead of trying to create the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat, the American Leninists are trying to create the revolutionary dictatorship of the conservatarian cultural identity. The ends are different, but the means and methods are identical.

To close out, I'd like to review something TheDrieux reminded me about over lunch today.

On several occasions, both he and I have encountered evangelical Christians who like to say to atheists (and people with similar beliefs, like me) things like this: "My faith in God is what keeps me from being a mass murderer." Sometimes, they make the implication explicit: that when atheists reject the proposition that God exists, they necessarily must accept the proposition that there is no moral imperative to live virtuously. It's an utterly ridiculous notion, but we keep encountering people who really do believe it, deep in their heart of hearts.

There is a similar mental dysfunction you tend to find among right-wing authoritarians who subscribe to the doctrine of the divine right of kings. They think things like this: "My loyalty to the King (the President, the Chairman, Dear Leader, etc.) is what keeps me from becoming a war criminal." This is a ridiculous notion in precisely the same way, but it's exactly how guys like Donald Rumsfeld rock themselves to sleep at night after presiding over the torture and abuse scandals at the Pentagon. They think to themselves: when liberals reject the proposition that the leader of the nation owes his rule to the will of God, they necessarily must accept the proposition that there is no moral imperative to remain loyal, make a sacrifice, or otherwise loyally serve. It's all basically the same mechanism. The end result is that the Leader has God's blessing to do whatever he deems necessary, and his subjects are either loyal servants or they're enemies of the will of God. There can be no "loyal opposition" where there is the divine right of kings.

I'll Have What They're Having...

Check out this article running on the web edition of American Izvestia.

The quote I would draw to your attention is from a "senior administration official" on the topic of dissension in the GOP ranks.
"We've got a period of time when the news that's dominating the headlines is not good and some Republicans are going to feel free to distance themselves from the president," said a senior White House official who was not authorized to speak on the record. "But at the end of the day, I don't think the breach is deep or lasting because this is the president's strong suit. I think it's about this moment in time. I don't think it's fundamental."
I don't think White House really comprehends how badly their situation is fnckd. They've got almost three whole years to go. If they can't recover the confidence they've lost from their own political support base, then they're going to be impeached. We don't have a parliamentary "vote of no confidence" here. Impeachment is the only way to pitch these guys out of office before their term is up. That will blow mightily for them— I mean, it will blow in the worst way.

Is it just me? That "senior administration official" sounds a lot like a junkie saying to the effect, "Hey, I'm just going through a rough patch, and yeah— I need to get fixed a little more often than usual. I don't think it's a deep or lasting problem, because I can usually handle anything. It's just this is the moment of time I'm in. I don't think I fundamentally have a problem."

Yup. You don't have a problem, Sparky. We're the ones with a problem.