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saturday, november 22, 2003

Heavy Fish
Republicans should be looking hard at what the Brits had to spend to keep the President safe during his recent visit to Britain. And they should be worried.
For example, the finale of President Bush's state trip to Britain was a photo op in Sedgewick. The President and First Lady had a lunch of fish 'n' chips at the Dun Cow Inn with Prime Minister and Mrs. Blair.
Security for the four-hour Sedgewick junket required 1,300 police officers at an estimated cost of £1 million. Guinness should make note of the most expensive fried fish lunch in history.
Meanwhile, Congressional budget negotiators tentatively agreed to pay $50 million for security at New York's and Boston's 2004 political conventions.
The agreement will insert language into a massive omnibus spending measure moving through Congress to direct $25 million to each city to help offset the protection costs associated with hosting the political events.

Rep. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., announced the deal late Friday evening as lawmakers planned to work through the weekend and into next week to pass a number of end-of-the-year spending measures.

"We've worked hard for months in order to ensure our conventions will be properly protected next year," Sweeney said in a statement. "I'm thrilled we were able to make it happen and have safe, successful conventions in New York and Boston." [Devlin Barrett, Associated Press, November 22, 2003]
So let's work this out. If security for a four-hour trip to Sedgewick cost £1 million, that gives us a rate of £250,000 per hour. By means of this handy-dandy currency converter, I calculate that £250,000 equals $425,925 U.S.D.
The 2004 Republican National Convention is scheduled for Monday August 30, to Thursday September 2. That's four days, or 96 hours. If security for the President costs $425,925 per hour, 96 hours of security comes to $40,888,800, which is a lot more than $25,000,000.
I realize this is a rough calculation. The President may not be in New York the entire time, for example. On the other hand, just about any Republican with a recognizable face is going to need major security in New York City, because every activist in the world will be in New York City for that convention, and they will be pissed. If they can't get their hands on Shrub himself, Bill Frist will do in a pinch.
Most Republican convention attendees could slink around incognito with some coaching on how to dress and behave (e.g., no pastels). But I'll guesstimate there are 30 or so top dogs that would be recognized unless they're in burquas. And 30 x $40,888,800 equals $1,226,664,000.

Even worse: I see no indication the Republicans have come to grips with what they're in for if they try to "secure" Madison Square Garden and turn Herald Square and vicinity into a protest-free bubble for four days. Are they going to rope off Midtown? Are they going to close Penn Station (directly below Madison Square Garden)? Are they going to pay hundreds of thousands of businesses and employees for lost revenue and wages and productivity? If so, they'd better add another billion -- $2,266,664,000.

Finally, I think every New Yorker who is the least bit inconvenienced by the GOP Convention should sue the socks off the GOP for being a public nuisance. And that should bring us to ... um, I don't think numbers go that high.

Congress thinks that a mere $25 million will be enough to pay for security at the 2004 GOP National Convention? HA!

12:29 pm | link

Views from Left Blogistan
Bad News. Check out "Iraq = Death" at Anarchy Zero. Hell for Halliburton reports on the mysterious death of a state department official.  Dobbs at Screaming Points reflects on the possible end of liberty as we know it.
Really Bad News. Mudshark weighs in on Jacko, as does Will Pitt on Truthout. Mad Kane has a Brit Trip Humor Roundup. Shock and Awe pokes fun at coverage of the Kennedy assassination anniversary. Visit Rick's Cafe Americain for commentary on Shrub's new ad campaign.
Blogs in the News. Visit Brushtroke for the extraordinary story of a blogger who got her own blog after being booted off Daily Kos. The Politburo Diktat has advice for bloggers.
Good News. Democratic Veteran reports that folks are catching on to Shrub even in Utah!  Costco is giving Walmart competition, according to Pen-Elayne on the Web.
2:22 pm | link

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friday, november 21, 2003

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thursday, november 20, 2003

I Hate Fundies
I was going to write more about partisan hate, and reflect on the difference between hate and anger. But then I found a headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that reminded me how much I hate fundamentalists.
I am not just angry with Fundies; I really hate them. I hate their smug self-righteousness and their ignorance and their dishonesty and their all-fired determination to dominate if not assimilate the rest of us. I even hate what they've done to Christianity, which can be a perfectly fine religion when practiced honestly and sincerely.
I realize that if I were stronger in my practice of Buddhism I wouldn't hate people, so this is an admission of failure on my part. And I acknowledge that I'm responsible for my own emotions. As my old Zen teacher used to say, Nobody else makes you angry. You make yourself angry.
So here is the headline that caused me to piss myself off:  "People of Religious Conviction Endure Yet Another Onslaught." The article is written by a Baptist who whines about how the courts are robbing poor, defenseless Xtians of their Gawd-given right to use the Gubmint to oppress people whose religious convictions differ from theirs.

There is nothing in our nation's founding documents -- the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights -- that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that a judge could not display the Ten Commandments in his courthouse. So where did the courts get the idea?

Perhaps U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black can best be blamed. In order to arrive at some of the damaging church-and-state decisions the court made in the 1950s and 1960s, Black took us on a journey through Thomas Jefferson's writings.

In them, he found a letter Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association extolling the "wall of separation between church and state." Was Jefferson arguing that religious people should not influence government? That would be difficult to believe, considering the fact that two days after writing his famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Jefferson could be found sitting in the halls of Congress, listening to a sermon from Baptist pastor John Leland, one of many religious services held in government buildings during Jefferson's administration. [Robert E. Reccord, "People of Religious Conviction Endure Yet Another Onslaught," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 20, 1003]

Speaking as a person of religious conviction, let me say that Mr. Reccord lacks the critical thinking skills that natural selection gave spinach. And, as Mr. Reccord is a Fundie, he is incapable of telling the truth about the letter to the Danbury Baptists.
(Fundies are dishonest by nature because they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge facts that don't support their dogmas. Rather than engage in honest reflection on their dogmas, they blot out the facts. If they were capable of cognitive honesty, they wouldn't be Fundies.)
Why the Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson. When the Danbury Baptists wrote to President Jefferson they were upset about church-state relations in Connecticut. The state of Connecticut had established the Congregationist Church as the state religion (the establishment clause of the First Amendment applied only to the federal government until the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868). Baptists and other non-Congregationlists paid taxes to maintain Congregationalist churches, a practice that caused the Baptists of 1803 to be downright liberal about religion. So they wrote to Jefferson:
Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty -- That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals -- That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor: But Sir our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are; that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion should reproach their fellow men -- should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dare not assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ. [Danbury Baptist Association, letter to President Jefferson, October 7, 1801]
The paragraph above only makes sense if you understand the historical context, although that hasn't stopped Fundies from tossing out the historical context and imposing their own interpretations.  This passage refers to the Connecticut constitution (a charter adopted on the basis of of Connecticut government at the time of the Revolution) and its religious mandates:
Our ancient charter together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are; that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen.
"Degrading acknowledgments" inconsistent with the rights of free people, such as having a particular version of the Ten Commandments shoved into the faces of free people seeking justice from state courts?
The Danbury Baptists understood that Jefferson could not change what was going on in Connecticut. They wrote seeking his assurance he would not attempt on a federal level what was being done to them on a state level. And so Jefferson replied:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should `make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties. [Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, January 1, 1802]

Now, if you can get past the 18th-century rhetoric, these paragraphs are not difficult to understand. The Danbury Baptists were opposed to to government mandates that required them to respect and pay taxes to support a religion with which they disagreed. And Jefferson wrote back and said, yep, you're right. Government shouldn't do that.

But Fundies and Freepers and their ilk cannot acknowledge the plain meaning expressed here, because (1) they don't agree with it, while (2) it was written by a Founding Father, meaning it must be true. Confronted by a dogmatic impasse, they distort the meaning of what Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists were talking about in these letters so that they don't have to wrestle with messy things like intellectual honesty.

If you google for information on the "wall of separation" metaphor or the Danbury Baptists' letter, you can observe with wonder the many ways Fundies prostitute their intellects in the name of ideology. Examples:

  • Jefferson meant to say the "wall of separation" is between state and federal government, not state and church. [Link]
  • The First Amendment still applies only to the federal government, as if the Fourteenth Amendment* never happened. [Link]
  • Jefferson was just making a political statement to please supporters; he didn't really mean it.** [Link]
  • Jefferson only meant to prohibit government from influencing religion, not religion from influencing government. [Link]

This last point takes us back to Mr. Reccord and his pathetic little martyr complex. Mr. Reccord says, correctly, that in Jefferson's time federal buildings were put to use on Sunday morning for various church services. This indicates, he says, that Jefferson was not hostile to joint activities by religion and state. And that's true. Jefferson didn't have a problem with the use of federal buildings for church services because attending those services was utterly voluntary. And since the buildings were just sitting there empty, putting them to religious use on Sunday morning was not a burden to taxpayers or an interference with government.  

By the same token, the Supreme Court ruled in 1990 that public school buildings may be used for prayer and Bible study groups as long as attendance is voluntary and the activities don't interfere with class schedules. Indeed, equal access must be given to religious groups if the school buildings are used by other kinds of clubs, such as Future Farmers of America or the Girl Scouts.

However, if the religious groups are organized by teachers or public school staff (who are government employees), or if the religious groups are allowed in any way to interfere with classes, or if there is so much as a whiff of coercion to join these groups applied to the student body, then a line is crossed.

Fundies cannot see that line, of course. You can virtually rub their faces with it, and they still won't see it. Because if they saw it, they would have to admit that it is wrong to use government authority to indoctrinate their fellow citizens in their religious dogmas. And they cannot, ever, admit that. Using government to indoctrinate others is, ultimately, what Fundies are all about.

People like former state justice Roy Moore and Mr. Reccord insist the Ten Commandments (their version; Christian denominations and Jews have diverse versions of the 10 Cs they consider authentic) be given a special place of honor above other historic documents as the principle foundation of our laws. This is simply inaccurate. The legal system has many parents, including Roman law and the Code of Hammurabi. The 10 Cs barely rate a footnote in the history of law. lilfudo.gif

But if the Fundies continue to agitate for the Ten Commandments to be enshrined by taxpayer dollars on state property, let me propose a compromise. See that graphic at the top of the right-hand column, showing two tantric deities, shall we say, embracing? Put THAT next to every statue or image of the 10 Cs on public property, and we've got a deal.

Related Links
* Fundies and Freepers are also in denial about the plain meaning of the 14th Amendment, which says "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." And please don't write to me about the Slaughterhouse cases, because Slaughterhouse distorted what the authors of the 14th Amendment intended it to mean. Click here for Findlaw commentary.

9:43 am | link

Hot Links 7:52 am | link

wednesday, november 19, 2003

Views from Left Blogistan
Naughty Brits. The Mudshark points the way to anatomically correct Bush protest posters. WTF Is It Now!!! shows us how our President is winning hearts and minds in Britain (not). For an original perspective on the imbecility that is Bush, see The Gunther Concept.
Sticks and stones. Shock and Awe gives us the story behind the story of a holocaust museum burned down in Indiana. Watch General Wesley Clark fire back at Faux News on iddybud. Eric Alterman at Altercation asks who will do the perp walk first -- Rush, Black, Perle, or Jacko? Joe Conason comments on the antisemitic screed that disappeared from GOPUSA.
Bad connections. Learn how oil means never having to be held accountable on The Peoples' Republic of SeabrookTalking Points Memo reveals the loose collusions among media, government, and intelligence. No More Mister Nice Blog has a new and outrageously original theory behind September 11.
To arms, citizens. See the ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose for some real fightin' words.
Say It Ain't So! Tom Spencer of Thinking It Through is hanging up his blog. The Blogosphere is a poorer place today. Happy trails, Tom!

8:02 pm | link

Do As We Say ...
Coservatives react to hatred of Bush with shock and alarm and chiding. Hate is bad, you know.
Douglas MacKinnon writes in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"Hate" is a strong, obscene and destructive word, and yet it is being uttered with more frequency by many on the left and by many who should know better. The crass and childish name-calling directed at Bush by candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination not only creates more hate and anger but should bring shame to those in that party who would choose statesmanship and honor over insults and partisanship. [Douglas MacKinnon, "Hate Is Everywhere and Gets Us Nowhere," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 19, 2003]

MacKinnon goes on to say (you'll love this), "To be fair, hate was the fuel that energized many on the right during their diatribes against former President Clinton."
Oh, yes, we have to be fair, don't we? After more than a decade of unrelenting, visceral, viscious, destructive hate coming at the Left from the Right, the Democratic Party base finally has roused itself and demanded that its leaders stop being appeasers and fight back, dammit. And the Right is shocked to see the face of hate, proving they rarely look into mirrors. (Or maybe they look but don't cast a reflection. That was a joke.)
Most conservative commentators are able, grudgingly, to admit that partisan hatred flows both ways. However, they rationalize that liberal hate is more evil than conservative hate.

Liberals hate conservatives and vice versa, but there's a difference in the way they view each other. Conservatives believe liberalism is a wrongheaded system of government. Many liberals, however, don't accept conservatism as a system of government at all. For them, conservatives are simply ignorant, or, alternately, greedy and self-serving people who refuse to countenance measures for the common good because they put their own interests above the common good. [Jay Bryant, "Neanderthals, Angevins and Kennedys,", November 19, 2003]

(Call me a nit-picker, but I don't consider either "conservatism" or "liberalism" to be systems of government. A system of government might be a  constitutional monarchy or representative democracy or totalitarian communism. "Conservatism" and "liberalism" are political philosophies or sets of values that help form one's worldview and opinions. Further, these philosophies shift from time to time and context to context. For example, a "conservative" in a monarchy supports the power and authority of the monarch, whereas a "conservative" in the U.S. claims to be in favor of limited government.)

Mr. Bryant goes on to blame the schools of America for liberalism, since schools teach more Marx than von Mises, never mind that American liberals are not Marxists. (And never mind that, unlike von Mises, Marx had an enormous impact on world history. To be "fair," they should get equal time.) Bryant says that since schools teach students to be liberals, liberals are therefore people who just accept what they are taught without thinking about it too much.

And Mr. Bryant has oh, so carefully thought out the distinction between a system of government and a political philosophy, not to mention the gaping chasm between Marxism and American liberalism. Right.

A conservative commentator named Bruce Walker complained in today's American Daily that he gets hate mail from "Leftists." The email he receives from conservatives is "brief, honest and civil," he says. Leftists, on the other hand, do nothing but "insult, snicker and defame." With a keen grasp of political science (not), he continues,

Picture those who question the Leftist monopoly on truth and morality just as a good Leftist working for Himmler would picture a stereotypical Jew before the Nazis savagely murdered the Jew. Anyone who holds a conservative position - after you and your friends have gone to the trouble of lecturing and hectoring him for years and years - must simply be ignorant, dumb, bigoted or evil.

The Leftist ad hominem attack need not be bounded by logic. Hitler and his fellow Leftists had no problem simultaneously describing Jews as stupid and clever, as inferior and powerful. What is good enough for the Leftist leaders of Nazi Germany is good enough for modern Leftists. [Bruce Walker, "Love Letters from Leftists," American Daily, November 19, 2003]

(The "Hitler was a Leftist" meme has been spreading for several years, and I've learned from experience you can't argue those infected out of it, so there's no point in trying. But for the record: Political science puts Hitler and his fascist totalitarians on the Right, not the Left.)

Dear reader, I can see you quivering in righteous indignation, preparing to insult, snicker at, and defame Mr. Walker. I understand exactly how you feel. However, let me suggest that you apply that pent-up energy toward something worthwhile, like grouting the bathroom tile or volunteering for the Dem candidate of your choice. Trust karma that Mr. Walker will receive all the insults, snickers, and defamation he deserves. But if you do email him, be sure to include a link to the Democratic Underground Hate Mailbag archive.

After Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, President Clinton and others asked that the right-wing hate speech that had infested and inspired McVeigh be toned down. Not only did the right-wing hatemongers refuse to take responsibility; they held up Clinton's words as a call to arms to become even more hateful. (Click here for an example.) In fact, one sect of Right-wing haters goes so far as to blame Oklahoma City on Iraq.

There are good reasons -- spiritual, moral, and political -- to avoid indulging in hate. Hating back the haters just causes hate to escalate. But neither can haters be reasoned out of their hatred (especially when they are so delusional they cannot recognize their own hatred as hatred), nor can they be appeased through compromise. So how does one deal with them, assuming they can be dealt with?

And is there an objective measure that distinguishes "hate speech" from legitimate criticism? For example, if I say that Tom DeLay is seriously twisted, is that hate speech or a clinical observation?

Whatever. We liberals seem to have reached an impasse. Hate them back, and we lose. Try to reason with them to appease them, and we lose. However, the spiral of hate cannot continue indefinitely -- in time, the Tao brings all things into balance. Let's just be sure we keep our heads, so that when the flush comes, we don't go down with it.

Related Links and Exhibits

Joel Connelly, "If You Criticize 'Hate' Speech, Be Prepared to Duck," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, November 17, 2003

Richard Poe, "Jew-Baiting Leftists Denounce 'Hate Radio,'" Free Republic, June 7, 2002

Tim Robbins, "Countering a Wave of Hate," Speech to National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 2003 (via Alternet)


10:18 am | link

Hot Links 8:29 am | link

tuesday, november 18, 2003

Travels With George
The US president, George Bush, today boarded Air Force One to fly to London for the most heavily-policed state visit in British history. ...

The capital's mayor, Ken Livingstone, said that a £5m bill to guarantee Mr Bush's safety would add £2 to council tax bills if the government did not fund it.

The Liberal Democrats' mayoral candidate, Simon Hughes, said that the cost of policing the visit could pay for six full-time police officers for every London borough - a total of 200 across London - for a year. [Simon Jeffrey, "Bush Flies in to Fortress London," The Guardian, November 18, 2003]

President Bush is in Britain, our closest ally, and he must remain in an impenetrable protective bubble lest he come to harm or, worse yet, be confronted by protesters. He plans to give a major policy address in Whitehall Palace to a carefully vetted audience, not to open-air crowds as past presidents have done. Exposing his corporeal person to unauthorized Brits is out of the question.
According to Charles Krauthammer, the world hates America (and, by extension, Bush) because the world is jealous of us. "The fact is that the world hates us for our wealth, our success, our power. They hate us into incoherence," he writes in the November 17 issue of Time. "The search for logic in anti-Americanism is fruitless. It is in the air the world breathes. Its roots are envy and self-loathing — by peoples who, yearning for modernity but having failed at it, find their one satisfaction in despising modernity's great exemplar." 
I question whether a nation of people who censor evolution out of textbooks has got the hang of modernity, never mind standing as "modernity's great exemplar." But let's go on ...
Even as Bush tours Britain we are also remembering the 40th anniversary of the assassination of President John Kennedy. And I remember Kennedy's tour of Europe in the summer of 1963, in which he traveled for ten days in open convertibles past throngs of adoring European crowds.
The photo at left shows Kennedy touring Dublin on June 27, 1963 (click here for larger version). Even "old" Germany embraced Kennedy. On that same tour, a million cheering Berliners gathered to hear JFK declare himself to be a sausage ("Ich bin ein Berliner"). Click here for photo.
I understand Charles Krauthammer was once a psychiatrist, which suggests he ought to know something about human nature. If anyone were going to be hated for being powerful and wealthy and modern, it would have been John Kennedy. He even had a movie-star caliber wife! Yet that summer Europe loved him, and he moved safely among millions of common, unscanned people. He had to go to Texas to be murdered.
If anything, people love to love the wealthy and powerful, especially the handsome and wealthy and powerful. How else to explain Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger? The cult of Diana, Princess of Wales? They hate us "for our wealth, our success, our power" just doesn't cut it. There has to be another reason.
Krauthammer does say that America-phobia became more intense after the Cold War ended, leaving the U.S. the world's only superpower. Yet a more recent American President, Bill Clinton, was also greeted by cheerilimerick.jpgng crowds in Europe and the world. The photo at right shows Clinton addressing a crowd in Limerick, Ireland, in September 1998.
Let's face facts: Bush wouldn't dare speak to an open air crowd in Britain or anywhere else in the world. Come to think of it, he hasn't done any such thing in the U.S. for several months, has he? Why is that? Is Bush in greater danger of assassination than Clinton was, or other presidents before him? If so, why would that be true? If not, is Bush a coward?
Back to why "everybody hates us." Krauthammer argues that Bush didn't "squander" the goodwill shown to America after September 11, because such goodwill didn't exist.
Is not the core Democratic complaint that it was overreaching in Iraq that caused the world to turn against us? And yet barely had we buried our 9/11 dead — long before we entered Baghdad — when the French, and the rest of the world, decided that they were not really Americans after all and were back to vilifying American arrogance, unilateralism, hegemony and so on. [ibid.]
Overreaching in Iraq didn't help, but the fact is that Europe hated Bush before September 11, and little he's done since has endeared him to anybody over there. This BBC article from June 2001 tries to put a good spin on Europe's opinion of Bush, but the queasiness shows through.

Of course for Mr Bush, proud of his Texas roots and style, Europe is uncharted territory and he embarked on this first official visit well aware that to many Europeans he has already become a caricature of the ignorant American - a gun-toting, death-dealing, red-necked cowboy thrust into the world's most powerful job by the vagaries of a faulty electoral system. ...

They may not like his message - the whiff of American unilateralism on defence, the environment and economic issues clearly rankles - but at least they know where he stands. [Stephen Sackur, "Touring Europe With President Bush," BBC, June 21, 2001]

Even before he became President, Europeans in particular were uncomfortable with the man they called "Governor Death" because of his apparent delight in executions. The high-handed way Bush as President dismissed cherished international agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocols and nuclear arms treaties, earned the world's disgust.
If the world hates us, it's not because we are wealthy and powerful. I say the real reason is that America under George W. Bush has become arrogant and dangerous. That's a combination guaranteed to turn even our best friends against us.

7:34 pm | link

The Village Voice Stutters
James Ridgeway's "Mondo Washington" column in the Village Voice is usually very good, but this column makes me wonder if the GOP Pod People got him. He presents a sloppy overview of the Democratic candidates' views on Iraq that might have been written by Karl Rove himself. True, he said it was just a glimmer and not a comprehensive overview -- "it's only a glimmer, because most of them are so annoyingly vague" -- but it's a misleading glimmer.
It seems that instead of going to the candidates' web sites, in which at least some of them present detailed policy plans for Iraq, Ridgeway and his helpers picked through NPR interviews of the candidates to glean what their policies might be. 
John Kerry, for example, has a succinct plan on his web site called "John Kerry's Plan to Win the Peace in Iraq."  The Senator states clearly what he thinks ought to be done about the military in Iraq, about reconstruction and security, and about the establishment of an Iraqi government. But instead of encapsulating this plan, Ridgeway presents an NPR quote of Kerry that is, indeed, vague.
Ridgeway implies that this vague statement -- "I think we should be going to the United Nations. I think we should be involving NATO...." -- is the totality of Kerry's Iraq plan. This is just plain inaccurate, and it plays into GOP talking points that the Dems don't have an alternative plan to Bush's. (Just what is Bush's plan, by the way? Does anyone know?)
Ridgeway also repeats the much-debunked smear that Wesley Clark has flip-flopped on the Iraq War. The fact is that (and please make a note of this) Clark was opposed to invading Iraq all along, ambiguities about the Iraq War Resolution notwithstanding. However, as a CNN military commentator he made statements approving of the way some parts of the military operation were conducted. It seems some people lack the critical thinking skills to make the distinction between political policy and what the military did to carry out that policy. It seems some people cannot grasp how it is possible to disagree with one while praising the other. It seems James Ridgeway is one of those people. I am very disappointed.
It is true that a few of the candidates have not gone beyond stating general goals for Iraq rather than plans. But most of them are way ahead of the Bushies in the Plans for Iraq Department.
Also in the VV, Nat Hentoff continues his misguided crusade to "save" Terri Schiavo. He repeats allegations from her parents that her brain injuries were caused by physical abuse from her husband. I'm not familiar enough with the evidence to comment on this. The fact remains that her cerebral cortex has atrophied, which means there is nothing of Terri Schiavo left to "save."
If someone can prove that her brain injuries were from a beating by her husband, then let there be indictments. (At which point watch Mr. Schiavo and the parents switch positions -- he'll want to keep her alive to avoid a murder charge, and the parents will be ready to pull the plug.) But what does that have to do with whether she can be "saved" now?

11:11 am | link

Hot Links, Life Blogs On Edition
Dear Readers, thank you so much for your expressions of sympathy. It's very hard to lose a parent. Some time in the next few days I want to write about my very special Ma.
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The Loyalties of George W. Bush

Terror Alert Level






"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." --Theodore Roosevelt, 1918


The War Prayer

I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!... He has heard the prayer of His servant, your shepherd, & will grant it if such shall be your desire after I His messenger shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause & think.

"God's servant & yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused & taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him who heareth all supplications, the spoken & the unspoken....

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the pastor -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed, silently. And ignorantly & unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is completed into those pregnant words.

"Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended through wastes of their desolated land in rags & hunger & thirst, sport of the sun-flames of summer & the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave & denied it -- for our sakes, who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask of one who is the Spirit of love & who is the ever-faithful refuge & friend of all that are sore beset, & seek His aid with humble & contrite hearts. Grant our prayer, O Lord & Thine shall be the praise & honor & glory now & ever, Amen."

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! -- the messenger of the Most High waits."

·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·

It was believed, afterward, that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

[Mark Twain, 1905]

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My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Numchuku of Reasoned Discussion.

Get yours.

Copyright 2003, 2004 by Barbara O'Brien

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