Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The mystery of the lost conservative (soul)

Barring a miracle, or, more accurately, a veritable flood of miracles, the Republican Party in 2008 will end up wearing George W. Bush around its neck as igniomouslly as the Ancient Mariner wore the Albatross.

That is, unless they can fin some way of distancing the Republican party from Bush and his disastrous policies....


They're already doing it. But there is more, in fact, much more to it than a simple campaign ploy.

Let's start the journey by looking at this from yesterday's Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory:

This cry of victimization was the principal theme at the so-called "National Review Institute conservative summit" held this weekend, at which one conservative luminary after the next paraded on stage to lament that the unpopular President and rejected GOP-controlled Congress "abandoned" conservatism and failed for that reason.

As usual, Glenn granulate does an excellent analysis of this rather weighty subject. (Let's face it, discussing political philosophy in depth isn't exactly front-page material for newspapers these days because it actually requires "thinking" and as we all know, "thinking" is hard work.)

While Greewald notes that this theme of victimhood is becoming the favorite theme of Republicans today, that one of the early pioneers of Bush-bashing by "real conservatives" was done by none other than Conservative Blogger par exella'nce, Andrew Sullivan. Glenn takes a little excursion into a review of Sullivan's book, The Conservative Soul which eventually brings us to these points:

One of the principal flaws of Sullivan's book is that it speaks of "political conservatism" in a way that exists only in the abstract but never in reality. The fabled Goldwater/Reagan small-government "conservatism of doubt" which Sullivan hails -- like the purified, magnanimous form of Communism -- exists, for better or worse, only in myth.

He goes on here to a phrase which eventually trips a trigger with me:

All of the attributes which have made the Bush presidency so disastrous are not in conflict with political conservatism as it exists in reality. Those attributes -- vast expansions of federal power to implement moralistic agendas and to perpetuate political power, along with authoritarian faith in the Leader -- are not violations of "conservative principles." Those have become the defining attributes of the Conservative Movement in this country.

But conservatives have to perpetuate the myth, so Sullivan critiques the Bush administration in terms of its "infidelity" to "conservative principles" to wit:

Sullivan's general critique of the Bush administration, and his specific complaint that it has fundamentally deviated from the abstract conservative principles to which people like Lowry (columnist and talking-head Rich Lowry)profess fidelity, is both accurate and persuasive. Along those lines, Sullivan cites the borderline-religious belief in tax cuts, depicted not as sound policy but as a moral good, to be pursued "unrelated to any empirical context of consistent rationale," and thus imposed even in the face of suffocating deficits and the virtually unprecedented expansion of government spending.

What seems so strange to me is that Republicans and conservatives in this country still persist in the myth of the principles of the conservative movement. It is the banner under which they rally the troops for each and every election cycle.

But the conservative principles which they profess to represent are a lie.

The real conservative principles the use of the power of government to implement their moralistic and/or religious ideals, the absolute power of their chief executive, unfettered capitalism (bordering on crony capitalism) free market economics. All of those principles would be roundly defeated by the voting populace so they have to tell the noble lie of "conservative principles" to get elected.

This rang a bell for me, and that was the concept of the noble lie discussed and adopted by the great Professor of Political Science (and father of present day Neocons) Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago. His disciples included, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Rumsfeld, Cheney and even William Kristol. (actually Kristol and Wolfowitz were students of one of Strauss's students who called himself a Straussian) The so-called noble lie is necessary, because, obviously, if the voters knew the real conservative values, the Republicans would never get elected. Here's what Strauss had to say about "noble lies" (according to Wikipedia ):

Noble lies and deadly truths
Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether "noble lies" have any role at all to play in uniting and guiding the polis. Are "myths" needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society? Or can men and women dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche's language, those "deadly truths", flourish freely? Thus, is there a limit to the political, and what can be known absolutely? In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato's Republic that are required for all governments. These include a belief that the state's land belongs to it even though it was likely acquired illegitimately, and that citizenship is rooted in something more than the accidents of birth. Strauss has been interpreted as endorsing "noble lies;" myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society. [1] [2] [3]

So the myth of "conservative principles" is still part of the neocon culture and is being played out today in preparation for the rise of another neocon to the Presidency......another "noble lie" so we can be told more "noble lies" Are they giving us more myths so we can have a "cohesive society"? (In Republican image of course)

Not if I can help it.....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Some jokes just write themselves....

And the answer is,


Yes, it WAS coauthored by the White House Pastry Chef.

see the link here

Catching Up

One of the problems with "going academic" in some of the posts is that they take so long that you have to ignore other things to get the post together....So lets do some catching up, eh?

Goddess40 took the time to remind us that the DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF WISCONSIN STATE CONVENTION, will be held in Milwaukee: Details:

WHEN: Friday, June 29 & Saturday, June 30, 2007
WHERE: Hilton Milwaukee City Center 509 West Wisconsin Avenue Hotel reservations can be made with the Hilton by calling 414-271-7250 or 1-800-445-8667.

Convention delegates and guests can reserve hotel rooms under the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s room block.
If you want to register on line you need the code below: The code for that convention is: DPWI

This should be good. We will be electing a new state party chair (or re-electing maybe). Thre may be a "floor fight" over the rules for the resolutions (I hope). And there is a possibility that some of the candidates for the '08 Presidential Nomination of the Democratic Party will either be there or have representatives or even hospitality rooms. I'm looking forward to it.

I understand that Dave has reserved a block of five (5) rooms for our delegation so if you want to go, get in touch with Dave to grab one of the rooms. The hotel is rumored to be expensive BUT sharing the costs with a room-mate makes it much more palatable.

Expect to see some of the new looks on the Wood County Dems Website posted within a week. I'm working on it and hope to have some changes made and then will try to update it as the need arises. State and CD District have indicated that they would like to have links to all County Organizations on the State Web Site.
(btw: anybody got a link to the 7th CD Web site? They were going with that "hotshot" ISP and it was supposed to be up by now. Anybody know anything?)
Oh yes, one more thing. Those who are expecting that the Web Site will always have up-to-the-minute information on it, or, that you'll be able to have two-way communications on it, you're going to be disappointed....this blog is actually a better means of communicating than a web site and I cordially invite you to jump in with comments any time you feel like it. (I know you're looking, I've got a way of knowing hehehehehe)
Link to Wheeler Report. Some of you requested a linkage to THE WHEELER REPORT on the website. It didn't occur to me that I could do it here I'll try to put it up on the "sidebar" but until then you can use it here..just click the high-lited link above.
Feingold chairing Judiciary Committee to look at Congressional Authority on War Powers. Here's a link to what's going on. I think he's looking at controlling the "purse strings" but I'll have to admit I didn't read the whole emailed article this morning. Apparently Feingold was applauded and received shouts of "Thank you Senator Feingold" from the audience. (Do you get the feeling we're on the verge of something historic?)
Libby Trial. There's a lot of "live blogging" going on from the Libby Trial. If you're into it (a Plame-o-phile as some call themselves) you can follow Marcy (emptywheel) as she "blogs her brains out" from the press center in the courtroom on firedoglake. Click the high-lited text to get to it. As of 10:45 AM Cheney's Chief Legal Counsel, David Addington is testifying....still time to pop the popcorn before Judith Miller takes the stand. This is one the Plame-ologists have been waiting for.... Can you say "perjury"? Photo at right courtesy of Vanity Fair. On edit: Why does the image of "Munchkins" dancing and singing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" keep running through my mind?
About those "250 Insurgents Killed". I didn't "blog" on this for the past two days (the story broke on Sunday Morning) because as with most things that happen Iraq the initial headline is usually proven to be wrong. Well, it was wrong. Turns out that even as the story was breaking, there were three separate narratives about who the "insurgents" were and what the attack was all about. Conventional wisdom was that this was the standard Sunni vs Shiia attack like Bush foretold in his State of the Union speech. But it turns out it was Shiia vs Shiia and worse yet, apparently a millenia faction of Shiia who believe they can bring about the end times by assassinating the top four Shiia Clerics...Al Sistinni in particular. apparently the answer to the question "Who, exactly, are we fighting over there?" is DAMNED NEAR EVERYBODY!
on edit: Over at Dailykos, BarbinMD has a great timeline and synopsis of the battle in Najaf which I described above. Click on the link. Her description of what happened (and when) is much better than mine.
I'll be writing more over at This space reserved....bop on over if you feel ike it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

the Real Danger is....

I did a more detailed analysis here

According to Bill Kristol, it's the job of Congress to ....


As he said on Fox News Yesterday:

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, I loved that Chuck Hagel sound bite we showed where he said if you want a safe job, go sell shoes. Selling shoes is a lot riskier job than being a Republican senator from Nebraska.

And I want to say, in defense of shoe salesmen -- and I hope they'll appreciate that I'm speaking for them here -- they're contributing much more to the public weal than a lot of our senators are today. No, this is Congress at its worst.

John Warner -- there's a great puff piece about my senator from Virginia on the front page of the Washington Post saying what do they want us to do in the Senate, do nothing? That's absolutely right. Absolutely right.

Support the troops. Appropriate the funds. Encourage them. Let Dave Petraeus have a chance to win this war. Don't pass a meaningless resolution that, as Joe Lieberman said -- on the one hand, it's non- binding so it's meaningless, but symbolically, it could only encourage our enemies.

Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory had a very detailed analysis of all this "Churchillian" crap that the Repubs are putting out as a steady diet on the talking heads networks and I riffed on it over at This space reserved...

It seems like this is probably the second time,(at least) that Kristol told us to shut up and support the President. And the theme which the Rpubs have riffed on since 9/11 is starting to be nothing more than a reflex action by every Republican commentator. Greenwals sums it up pretty good here....

We've now arrived at the point where the White House and its followers reflexively characterize any criticism of the Leader's war of any kind as aid to the Enemy and an attack on our troops. They don't even bother any more to pretend that some types of criticism are "acceptable." It is now the duty of every patriotic American to cheer enthusiastically for the President's decisions. Anything else is tantamount to siding with the Enemy.

So any criticism is unpatriotic.
Any Criticism "spits on our troops" (whether it's real or not)

I'll let you read the Greenwall blog for yourself and maybe even my entry but here I wanted to point out that there is a huge danger in remaining silent.

If we mistake silent acceptance of our leaderships comments, plans and actions for patriotism we are being what was termed in Germany in the 1930s as being "a good Gemrman". If we willingly give up our freedoms for a little more security, aren't we like Benjamin Franklin described as "being worthy of neither" (freedo nor security)?

And just how far are you willing to go to support the president? How far are you willing to go to be a "Good American"?

This far?
Spencer Tracy did a superb job of describing it here

sobering....absolutely sobering....

Now that's what I'm talking about

Crossposted from This Space Reserved
Thank you Mimikatz over at The Next Hurrah!

Finally somebody is posting on what I think the most important issues are concerning Iraq.

I posted on the WoodCoDems site some time ago that maybe we (as a country perhaps but maybe as a Democratic Party) should be talking in terms of WHAT Iraq would/will look like AFTER WE LEAVE. And of course, I mean after we leave under the real circumstances, NOT the NeverLand crap that Bush says will happen if we only give him "one more last chance. "(Yes. Yes, I believe that was the title of a crappy country-western song.)

Let's get to Mimikatz's post before this turns into an uncontrollable rant.... Of course, you're free to click on the link and read the whole article but I'll give a blow-by-blow here.

Mimikatz starts out with the question we're all asking. That is, can the doomsday prophesies of Bush and Cheney about what will happen in Iraq if we pull out be true? I'll have to admit, it's been nagging at me too if, for no other reason, than because there has been such a dirth of information or informed commentary on the likely nature of Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal. But Mimikatz comes up with a couple of sources...The first by General William Odom in his prepared remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which were aptly entitled:
Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions

What Can Be Done in Iraq? Anybody want to guess how I really feel about this?After a lengthy preamble describing how we got into this sorry state, Odom says this:

It cannot as long as fails to revise its war aims. Wise leaders in war have many times admitted that their war aims are misguided and then revised them to deal with realities beyond their control. Such leaders make tactical withdrawals, regroup, and revise their aims, and design new strategies to pursue them. Those who cannot make such adjustments eventually face defeat.

Here's a key point:

Since the 1950's, the US aim in this region has been "regional stability" above all others. The strategy for achieving this aim of every administration until the present one has been maintaining a regional balance of power among three regional forces – Arabs, Israelis, and Iranians.

and finally this:

Any new strategy that does realistically promise to achieve regional stability at a cost we can prudently bear, and does not regain the confidence and support of our allies, is doomed to failure. To date, I have seen no awareness that any political leader in this country has gone beyond tactical proposals to offer a different strategic approach to limiting the damage in a war that is turning out to be the greatest strategic disaster in our history.

Got that now? We need to think in terms other than "Good vs Evil" or "Global War on Terror". We need to think in time-tested, successful REGIONAL DIPLOMACY TERMS.

Now, if you've read the other post you know that I've chosen to emphasize something different than Minikatz. Mini (sorry for the nickname) thought a key of Odom's presentation was that the government needed to be strong enough to tax and in all fairness to Odom, he makes a good case for it but in terms of what US policy should be, I think the above quotes are pretty much "spot-on".But there's a second source....actaully a SET of sources gathered by today's San Francisco Chronicle.

For a variety of reasons most of the experts don't see much to the "nightmare scenarios" being proffered by Presidnent Bush and Vice-President Cheney. As General Odom surmised, the experts gathered by the Chronicle agree that the likelihood of instability decreasing as opposed to increasing is most likely for the region if the US withdraws its troops. (Again, I ask you to read the posts to get the details) But there are other scenarios and considerations...take this one for example:

In Iraq, Mueller said, "The most likely scenario, and it's still a fairly bad one, is that the other countries would contain Iraq and there would be a civil war that would gradually work its way out. The idea of it spreading throughout the Middle East and all over the world strikes me as a considerable stretch. Not that it's impossible. But the best analogy would be the long civil war in Lebanon. Other countries meddled in various ways, but they also kept it there, as much as possible

One-by-one the panalists shoot down the "regional conflict" idea and, most importantly, they analyze the possibilities as well as the probabilities that each of the other actors (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) would or could get involved in Iraq if we withdraw.

What I think I like best about the Chronicle piece is that quite rightly states that little has been written about the realistic possibilities and options available to us in Iraq. Read this and comment if you like...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A liberal sense of humor...

our friend Tbogg has a great post for us today and it's also backed up at Sadly, No.

First, take a look at Tbogg and the post entitled :The Danger of Waiting Until Closing Time To Hook Up Illustrated


Then, head on over to Sadly, No. for a little lesson in journalism and an expose on the RWingettes.

Okay. ...I guess I'm ranting

I got a little carried away over at This Space Reserved this morning.

Truth be wouldn't take much to get the rant going here either.

I'll post more the meantime, click the link above and add your comments either here or on This Space Reserved.....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Meet some old ifriends..for the first time

I've been posting about Last Chance Democracy Cafe for some time but I haven't introduced you to "the regulars".....LoLo posted a comment that it would be helpful if we posted an introduction to the main characters so you could sort of keep up with what's going on. You can read the details here but heres a short description.

First the proprietor: Steve

Steve is, well — he’s me, the proprietor of the café and the unofficial scribe for the Three Wise Men.
But that wasn’t always so. There was life before The Last Chance Democracy Café: A life without The Three Wise Men, the large round table, Zach, Republican darts, Liberal Burgers and the Bushspeak Machine. I used to be a lawyer. Actually, I still am, but back then I wasn’t a lawyer simply because I had a piece of paper saying I was one. Back then, I actually played one in a courtroom

And about those Three Wise men.

The Three Wise Men is my term, by the way. Hey, I run a cafe. You were expecting Steinbeck? Anyway, the whole thing with the wise men started by accident. Late one Wednesday, Tom, a retired economics professor, dropped in for a drink. A few minutes later, Winston, who had also just retired after 30 years as a district court judge, sat down at the bar. Then came Horace. Horace, who dropped out of school at age 14, worked most of his life as a trucker, somehow finding the time along the way, in dingy motel rooms and dirty truck stops, to read more history, philosophy and economics than any ten college graduates combined. He finally “hung up my clutch,” as he puts it, the previous June.
Helped along by a few nightcaps, the three strangers struck up a conversation. And befitting The Last Chance Democracy Café, mostly they talked about the declining state of democracy in America. From that night on, it became a regular Wednesday evening affair.

The newcomer (and often inadvertent "straightman") is Zach, who

He started out as just one of the hand full of college students who drop in — a new bunch every Wednesday evening — to experience our colorfulness and gawk at the Three Wise Men. The kids think it’s funny — three old farts, half-crocked, pontificating on the decline of American democracy. They hang around watching the “entertainment” for an hour or two, eat a burger and slam down a beer. Then they’re off, in search of more glandular forms of diversion. But Zach was different. Zach stayed.

There are others...including Donald who plays a leading role in this most current episode.

Ned, a Minister of the United Church of Christ who generally stops in only for lunch...and very deep conversations.

Molly is an interesting person...she's also part owner of the are all the employees ut there is something....well just "something" about Molly as Steve describes it:

Molly, one of the café’s servers (and part owners), works the lounge on Wednesday evenings when the wise men hold their weekly gathering at the large round table. With a tongue that’s more than sharp enough to hold her own against Horace, Tom and Winston, she’s a regular source of wisecracks

Well, there they are...after reading just a few episodes of Last Chance Democracy Cafe, you begin to think of these folks as your neighbors and, in my case, almost my best friends. They remind me so much of my college days where debates with students and professors over a wine cooler was better than almost any other experience on the campus. Truth and educated opinion were valued in college the same way they are today in the Cafe.

See you every other Thursday in the cafe...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Calling the Grammar Nazi!

I know there is at least ONE of you out there who is a "Grammar Nazi" so I'll give you a link to Miss Cellania's post today which I think you'll enjoy.

The Graphic is also from her site and entitled


Short "blurb" on the Libby Trial

I'm not going to go into all the detail but here's a comment I HAD to write on another blog this morning after reviewing reports from the Libby Trial (from Mainstream Media no less!)

I love this.

Cathie Martin confirmed what we've been saying about Russert and Meet The Press for the past six years. Here's the quote from Dana Millbank's article in the Washington Post:

Flashed on the courtroom computer screens were her notes from 2004 about how Cheney could respond to allegations that the Bush administration had played fast and loose with evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions. Option 1: "MTP-VP," she wrote, then listed the pros and cons of a vice presidential appearance on the Sunday show. Under "pro," she wrote: "control message.""I suggested we put the vice president on 'Meet the Press,' which was a tactic we often used," (extra emphasis mine) Martin testified. "It's our best format."

Russert's credibility is COMPLETELY DESTROYED.

Cathie stamped TOADY across his forehead in a big way....he owes the country an apology for impersonating a journalist.

But (as with almost EVERYTHING with the Bush Administration) the Millbank article gets worse from there. Cathie Martin (who happens to be married to the head of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ..incest much?) confirmed some of our deepest and perhaps darkest suspicions about the handling of the media by this administration.

For instance, on some discussion boards there is a dark joke that goes around on Friday mornings about what the "news dump" will be at five o'clock. Turns out, it's no's a clip:

With a candor that is frowned upon at the White House, Martin explained the use of late-Friday statements. "Fewer people pay attention to it late on Friday," she said. "Fewer people pay attention when it's reported on Saturday."

So the "news dump" isn't our imagination's a time-honored technique of the Bush White House. Next I suppose you'll tell me that there's actually favortism shown toward Right Wing reporters.


wait a minute....Millbank says this:

On jurors' monitors were images of Martin's talking points, some labeled "on the record" and others "deep background." She walked the jurors through how the White House coddles friendly writers and freezes out others. To deal with the Wilson controversy, she hastily arranged a Cheney lunch with conservative commentators. And when New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof first wrote about the Niger affair, she explained, "we didn't see any urgency to get to Kristof" because "he frankly attacked the administration fairly regularly."

I don't know why I'm surprised. I have assumed that ever since ABC News made the fateful decision back in the '80s that Television News was a PROFIT CENTER and not a PUBLIC SERVICE that most anchormen (and women ) had become rating whores who would (do ) sell out their integrity for "access" and they only keep that access by becoming STENOGRAPHERS and not JOURNALISTS.

The only good thing is that Martin pulled back the veil and showed us the ugly process by which our information is manipulated.

Read the whole article....but not on a full stomach.


Thursday, January 25, 2007


It's always good to see where your readers are coming from.....

I checked "paths" and found some interesting things....

Some hits are coming from google itself...and a lot of keywords found in the news headlines...

We have two different IP addresses coming from Abbottsford
Several coming from Wisconsin Rapids (Hi Wood County Dems)

Some are coming from overseas....mostly google hits though...not exactly a "following"

Several from New York
Several from New Jersey
One from Oregon
Two from California.

and my favorite hit of all?

Sergeant-at-Arms, US Senate...Washington D.C. a "google search" on FEINGOLD....


(Crossposted from This Space Reserved)


There sure is a lot going on today.....let me try to bring you up to date:

If you haven't seen or read the transcripts from the Cheney interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday, you MUST SEE IT. It's jaw-dropping in almost every sense of the word. Click on the Link above.

In addition to that, the wonderful, wacky world of Right Blogastan is in an uproar over desertions from within the Republican ranks (Chuck Hagel in particular) and they are also swooning over the testimony of General Petraeus (the man taking Abizad's place in Central Command)before the Senate Armed Services Committee; especially the dialogue between our favorite (sarcasm)"Independent Democratic" Senator Joe Lieberman and Petraeus where Lieberman uses McCarthy-like techniques to put words in the good Gerneral's mouth. Glenn Greenwald at unclaimed Territory had a good article on it yesterday, but's become a cause celeb for Right Blogastan.

TBogg has a less academic but nevertheless satisfying description of what's going on here. (Note: you might have to scroll down a bit because posts are flying fast and furious this morning. It's under the title Circular Firing Squad) Thanks to TBOGG for the right......

Actually one of the Commentors from Glenn Greenwald's site, Dave had some of the best comments:

Hagel's impassioned plea was refreshing and I don't know if I've ever seen a politician speak with such candor and passion. His Vietnam experience, as well and true conservative principles, were shining through.In the past week Hagel has (1) claimed that the GOP is not the same party as the one he voted for on a tank in the Mekong Delta in 1967, and (2) made an almost tearful plea to his colleagues that to fail to honestly debate the "surge" when so many lives are at stake is to "fail" the country. While this is refreshing and entirely in line with the foundations of this country, what's troubling is this veteran's comments, rather than sparking a true debate, seem to have started a movement to purge him from the party and cut off his funding.

Like true Machiavellians, they are cutting off the head of the flower that dares to stick its head up, to set an example and quell any other "rebels."

So it looks like the "surge" plan is rapidly growing into a "purge" plan: you either agree with it or we remove your command and even accuse you of treason. You ask for a debate, claiming that you don't doubt the President's motives, and we develop a Loyalty Oath against you.

Well said, Dave. You covered all of it at once....reference to Lieberman's "treason" comment, Cheney's don't debate, don't tell strategy, and finally the Republican "from Surge to Purge" plan.

Our friend Josh Micah Marshall from Talking Points Memo has a great article (on edit: here's Allawi"s assertion that the true purpose of the surge is Iran...Josh through Andrew Sullivan)on the true philosophic and tactical goals of conservatives in the Washington Monthly. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:

In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. Prior to the war, the president himself never quite said this openly. But hawkish neoconservatives within his administration gave strong hints. In February, Undersecretary of State John Bolton told Israeli officials that after defeating Iraq, the United States would "deal with" Iran, Syria, and North Korea.

The scariest part? It was written in 2003!

It's long but it's the kind of brain food we need to keep our sanity these days.

Speaking of sanity of lack thereof, we are pleased to know that our favorite Republican whipping girl (don't even think that!) Katherine Harris has made another debute....this time appearing on the floor of the House of Representatives before the SOTU handing out BUSINESS CARDS! Notice: all comments will be heavily screened to keep the obvious jokes out. Pictures are here

While Republicans are practicing their own version of a "purity pledge" the Scooter Libby Trial is going on in DC. There were a few bombshells in the opening day. Like the Libby defense team stating that Libby was being made the scapegoat for Karl Rove. And that Libby was being "set-up to take the fall" by the CIA. Christy and Marcy (emptywheel) are liveblogging for firedoglake if you want to keep up with it.

I'm also pleased to announce that our good friend, Stephen C. Day has resumed regular installments of his incredible series, Last Chance Democracy Cafe. It is one of the great fictional works on the web (in my opinion) and deserves a much wider readership than it usually gets. Steve's writing is pitch-perfect for our times and deals in a disarmingly honest manner with the dilema that the progressive/liberal community faces in these times. His characters become old friends very quickly and you share their thoughts and travails as you would with your neighbors. The latest episode is here. I won't give the subject matter away.
Just it.

Aside from that ....well....add your own comments....I've given you a lot to chew on....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Okay....I was wrong

(note: cross post from This space reserved...)

on edit: for some reason blogger doesn't want me to post pictures this morning.....grrr...I'll get them up when I can.....e

about Bush's speech....on just about everything.

And quite frankly, I'm really surprised that I was wrong.

From what I've seen of the speech...I couldn't do more than one minute at a time so I've had to depend on transcripts, video clips and commentary...he managed to "control himself" pretty well last night.

Instead of lashing out, he (as characterized by others) he sort of begged to "give his plan a chance to work". That's so a matter of fact, the MSNBC on-line article actually uses the word "pleads" in describing Bush's request.

He offered another veritable "laundry list" of domestic programs but as near as I can tell, those proposed programs have already met with stiff opposition..........FROM REPUBLICANS!

What the blogosphere seems to be buzzing about this morning is newly-elected Senator Jim Webb's (D-Virginia , the sane part) eight minute response to the SOTU. (View it here) He's getting what can only be called "rave" reviews. I listened to it and thought it was done better than ANY Democratic response in recent memory. No doubt about it, Webb is a rising star in the Democratic Party.

I'm beginning to think that Rove simply wanted Bush to get out of the Chambers alive last night so he/they more or less "mailed it in".

Interesting side note to last night's speech.While I was watching the coverage on MSNBC, Tom Brokaw was droning on and on being interrupted only by Tweety (Chris Mathews) making an occassional inane remark but the camera was following Bush out of the House Chambers...Bush was signing autographs on his way out...(The image of fans getting the autograph of the "aging Rockstar" who's on his last hurrah was almost overwhelming) but when Bush reached the hallway, there were a couple of Senators there to greet him and one of them was our own Russ Feingold.
Here's a DUer account of what happened:

Once Bush had left the chamber, the MSNBC cameras caught him meeting and greeting Feingold.
They shook hands with Bush's left hand on the back of Feingold's shoulder.
Feingold then says something and gestures in the other direction with the rolled up piece of paper in his left hand, consisting of maybe 5-8 words.
Bush then says something very very snotty, and Feingold returns with something else, and escorts Bush along in the way he had been walking, with a brush of his hand to Bush's elbow.
Feingold then pivots and walks back in the other direction past the camera with a truly fiery pissed off look on his face.What was said? Any TiVo'ers able to get this and post it?

I saw the exchange and I didn't think is was that dramatic but apparently a number of other posters did. Nobody seems to have picked up on it as of this morning
.Anybody else see that?

What did you think?

So what did you think of the speech?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The State of the Union....

Cross posted from:

Okay...for the "uninitiated" SOTU stands for State of the Union, which, of course is the title of the address that the President of the United States is required by The Constitution to deliver annaully to Congress. Strangely enough, The Constitution doesn't require that the State of the Union Message has to be a speech or delivered in person. Indeed, some Presidents simply sent a written message to Congress rather than appear personally before them but modern practice has been to make it a media event for the incumbent President to out outline his legislative agenda to the public and also use the support of his political party to demonstrate support to that agenda.

That's the way it traditionally works.....

But tonight is going to be a bit different.

Tonight, for the first time in his six years of office, George W. Bush will walk into a chamber that he does not control. His party has been soundly defeated in the midterm elections and as Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post put it:

After six years of striding onto the House floor like a conqueror, President Bush will arrive for Tuesday night's State of the Union Speech deeply unpopular and politically crippled.and (snip):The pomp of the State of the Union address and the deference given to Bush's office will prevent the night from turning into an outright rout.But as a defensive measure, White House speechwriters are said to have crafted a speech that avoids the traditional laundry list of proposals and applause lines that would almost surely have fallen flat -- or even led to boos and groans -- given Bush's new circumstances.

Actually , I don't expect to see a "chastened" George W. Bush address Congress tonight.

Nor do I agree with a lot of pundits who expect that the speech will be low-key, unconfrontational and, in a word, BOOOORIIING!

Nope, I don't expect that at all. It's not George W. Bush's style.

I have to agree with the unnamed blogger who once characterized Bush's political tactics to those of a bar-room drunk who, challenges everybody in the bar to a fight and then, after he gets knocked to the floor, gets us and asks the person who just cleaned his clock, "Had Enough? Want Some More?" And that's what I expect to see tonight.

(prognostication is always dangerous, but what-the-hell, you only go 'round once, eh?)

I totally expect Bush to come out swinging tonight. I expect he will attempt to justify the "surge" (escalation) once again, and try to a political/foreign pollicy "twofer" by blaming all the trouble in Iraq on Iran.
Glenn Greenwald over at Unclaimed Territory also expects something different, but is nonetheless concerned that villanization of Iran is a top proirity of the Bush Administration. He optomistically believes the National Media will apply more critiacal analysis to any claimes against Iran than they did against claims about Iraq. (There is also a very disturbing development in his update..may be worth an entire blog entry later today)
I am told by "experts" who have been briefed that Dubya will dedicate most of his speech to domestic issues and the early leaks indicate that he will come up with another off-the-wall health care proposal that will tax "expensive" health care programs. Here's a laundry list of his proposals on the "domestic" side.

Some other things to watch for:

Watch Nancy Pelosi tonight. She is going to be literally looking over Bush's shoulder. Historic Actually, first time EVER...the Doorman of the House of Representatives will announce (loudly)" MADAM SPEAKERRRRRRRRR! The President of the United States!"

Watch/listen to see if Bush does another "shout-out" to Lieberman. He seems quite fond of doing that. (Idoubt if he'll give another kiss although some have "recommended" itsnark, snark, snark)

Tune in tomorrow and see how many of these I got right. Comment....complain...chastise...whatever......

Monday, January 22, 2007

oh, puuuuullleeeeeeeezzzzeeee....

I'm expected to take this seriously?


Frank Luntz, the man who taught Republicans how to lie so the public would believe them (he even wrote an instructional manual of words to use to "frame" the debate), is now offering advice to Democrats.

No, as he says, "Seriously". Here's a small, small sample from his Huffington Post guest blog:


For two years the Republican Party was adrift in meaningless messaging to support meaningless reform - and have communicated absolutely nothing for the past three months. By comparison, the Democrat majority that took Congress in November was remarkably disciplined and effective in promoting change, reform, and accountability in the weeks following their historic election.

But alas, power does strange things to Democrats: put a gavel in their hands and a camera in their face and they revert to the name-calling that kept them from the majority for a dozen long years. Sure, it's easy to land rhetorical jabs on a staggering opponent - but that doesn't make it effective. The message from the electorate in November was 'work together and compromise.' You need only look at the incumbent governor of California who won a lopsided landslide in an otherwise Democratic sweep. Cooperation works. Compromise wins. But over-heated rhetoric says to the world that you are no different - and no better - than what you replaced.

If there's anything at all to admire about Luntz, it's that he's well-educated, absolutely brilliant in the arts of linguistics and propaganda. This post is a masterpiece of his works.

Remember a week or two ago I referenced a post from Digby that confirmed what I had suspected since the election. That post said that the well-coordinated message coming out of the great Republican Wurlitzer was that the elections wasn't about Republican Corruption, Rejection of George W. Bush, or even a repudiation of the war in was none of these, the Novemeber election (and subsequent Democratic Party landslide) was ALL ABOUT it? In the Huffington post blog, Luntz "kindly reminds" Democrats of this (even if it isn't true) and then goes on to point out case after case where Democrats behaved "badly" or in a partisan manner. He skillfully draw parallels that aren't there to make stir the image, again to FRAME the topic in an unacceptable posture so you will think that the Democrats are just one vote shy of murdering our own troops. Look a this snip and pay attention to the high-lighted sections.

The list goes on. Speaker Pelosi callously suggesting that President Bush is moving quickly to "put troops in harms way" is a short jump away from suggesting that the President is deliberately trying to get our soldiers killed. Likewise, Senator Kennedy saying that U.S. troops are like "police officers in a shooting gallery" smacks of sound-bite flippancy and expediency of the worst kind. We need an intelligent debate, not a sound-bite contest.

It is "a short jump away from suggesting that the President is deliberately trying to get our soldier killed." only because Frank Luntz has now told us it is so. It is a tool of his trade to place the thought in the mind; to paint an indulible image with his words to that perceptions are created and imprinted on the mind. He is doing so masterfully and under the guise of offering "serious" advice to the Democratic Party.

I also high-lighted "We need an intelligent debate, not a sound-bite contest." because the irony is so rich. Here is the man who taught Newt Gingrich and his jolly band of pirates to talk in soundbites who is now telling us we need an "intelligent debate". I'm sorry Frank. I don't believe you.

Your faux centrist crap may be swallowed hook, line and sinker by some but as for me, I "ain't buying it".

The real message of November was "We're Mad As Hell and We're Not Going to Take It Anymore". Democrats need to learn that message and act on it. Fix what has been broken in the last 12 years by the Republican kleptocracy and especially what George W. Bush has broken on the last 6 years. Put an end to the corruption and bring the law-breakers to the justice they so richly deserve.

One of my first political mentors chided me because I was trying to be "politic" in my approach and he hit me with the old, political maxim, The Only thing you find in the middle of the road is yellow stripes and dead skunks!" They're right of course. If you stay in the middle of the road, you're a coward and you're likely to get run over by those who actually have principles......Democrats must follow the words of Shakespeare's McBeth,
Lay on, McDuff! And damned be he who first cries, Hold! Enough!

So "liberals" MUST be nice....

I got a little inspiration from the Book Salon going on over at firedoglake tonight....the guest happens to be Cliff Schecter who has earned his "bones" in the land of Left Blogsylvania by actually standing up to Right wing pundits on National Television. Currently he's working on a book and also collaborating with Glenn Greenwald on a new blogsite dedicated to "The Real John McCain".

If you pop on over to fdl (as us ....ahem regulars it) you'll see that Cliff is no fan of McCain's and this new blogsite is going to be brutal.....

But the discussion is actually deeper than's a snippet....

.... For those of us who cringe at the mealy-mouthed equivocations of most liberal pundits, for those of us who shout at the television every time we watch another spineless lefty wither under the torrent of incoherent abuse that spews out of Ann Coulter like bilge-water, for the people in the audience who wanted to tItalichrottle John Kerry for knuckling under to the character smears of the 2004 campaign, Cliff Schecter is a ray of hope. A tiger in a tea room. A bomb in a china shop.

I have long maintained that it is incumbent on the left to present arguments and narratives that are as metabolically exciting and visceral as the arguments put forth by the right. Again and again, I see left wing pundits and politicians bring knives to the right-wing gun fights and get their asses handed to them by the fast-talking, interrupting, belligerent conservative Opinionati. In a political environment as highly charged and combative as the one that the Republicans have been constructing since Newt Gingrich reared his ugly head in 1994, it's political suicide to cling to some kind of outdated notion that liberals have to be "nice", passive, and accomodating. We all just want to hold hands and sing Kum Ba Yah, right? Get naked and shake our dreadlocks at Bonnaroo, but that's after we all have a long, long talk about our feelings over a pot of fennel twig tea because Everyone's Viewpoint is Valid to a Certain Extent, right?

Yeah, right.

Do you know who Alan Colmes is? He's the "liberal" half of the Fox News Network show "Hannity and Colmes". If you've seen the show you know that the only reason that Colmes is there is to be the foil/whipping boy of nutcase Sean Hannity. It actually took me a while to figure it out because (silly me) I thought the whole idea of the show was to give both sides an equal shot at the isn't...and Alan Colmes is on that show not to be really liberal, but, instead to play what Fox News and Sean Hannity THINK a liberal should be.....that is,

easily cowed into submission.

Now, in all fairness to Alan Colmes, he may be none of those things, but he is playing a role...much like Bob Denver played Gilligan on Gilligan's Island, or, Alan Alda played Hawkeye on M.A.S.H......Alan Colmes plays a LIBERAL ON TV...or at least what we've been stereotyped as....

That's what makes Schecter so special....he breaks the our friends at FDL say, "...he's a shark in the kiddie pool..."

We need more of these.....

Think about this a moment....One of the few reasons people still like anything about George W. Bush is because he's combatative and stands up for what he believes...even if he's wrong....maybe the public would respect Democrats more if they behaved like Schecter. ..take the Republican attack dogs head on and bite them back...

good to think about...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Can somebody explain this to me?

There are a log of contradictions going on in the Administration's policy on Iraq and I'm looking for somebody to "break it down" for me.....

Let's start with this:

Iraqi President Maliki is being supported in office by the Shiia majority.
The leader of the Shiia majority is cleric Al Sadr
Al Sadr controls the most effective private militia in Iraq, the Mahdi Army
The Shiia Militia populate virtually all the Iraqi security forces (including the police)
The Shiia are allegedly behind most of the "death squads" killing Sunni
The Shiia are supported by Iran
The Sunni are retaliating for the killings AND retaliation againt being thrown out of government.
The Sunni control Al Abnar province through militias there
Saudi Arabia supports the Sunni.

So then:

We're supporting Maliki against the Sunni...


We're moving against Sadr's militia leadership....Sadr's army threatens to attack us if we continue the "crackdown" on their forces.

We're moving troops (4000) into Al Abnar province (Fallujah) to fight Sunni militia

There were 21 of our troops killed in Iraq yesterday.....(13 in a helicopter crash) but the distrubing part was this from Informed Comment

The killing of US troops in Shiite Najaf and Karbala has been a rare event since hostilities ending in late August 2004 between the American military and the Mahdi Army of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The resurgence of lethal hostility in this Shiite area almost certainly has to do with the ongoing US crackdown on the Sadr Movement.(extra emphasis is mine)

So what's going on here? What little semblence of order there is is maintained through Maliki's government which will collapse if he loses the support of the we attack the militias...AND the Sunni at the same time?

This is a plan?

Somebody explain this to me. Please.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Slow news thread time?

Somebody asked last night if just a few of us (meaning locals) are using this blog site. The answer appears to be "yes" but it can (and should) be more of us.

If you want an invitation to become a "team blogger" just post in comments and let me know how to email an invitation to you....We have (I think) six on the team but there are now only two of us who jump in from time to time. The "statcounter" however, says that a lot of you...average about 29 per day...are "bopping in" to see what's happening.

If you're not a "team blogger" you can still leave a comment by clicking on the "comments button" and then signing on as anonymous. Leaving a name is optional....either way your opinion is welcomed.

So about that slow news day....

Sort of a letdown after:

Bill O'Reilly was on Stephen Colbert's show last night. A lot of blogs/websites in Left Blogsylvania say that Colbert "hammered" O'Reilly but I watched it (and the reruns) and I think "Bill-Oh" held his own. He knew Colbert's "schtick" and played it pretty well.

Senator Pat Leahy went ballistic on Attorney General Roberto Gonzolas , Glenn Greenwald did the blow-by-blow on the link. I saw that video too and the reports on this one appear to be far more accurated than the Colbert reports. Levin had him stuttering at the end. Click on the link. That's Senators Leahy and Feingold to the right.....from the hearing..another account of it is here.

Jane Hamser is out of surgery and in recovery. It will be days before we know what (if any ) further trreatment she will need. Get well Jane.

The Rude one (The Rude Pundit) observes quite correctly that Bush has no sense of Irony. If he did he wouldn't have had the nerve to declare Sunday, National Respect for Life Day. (sigh.....)

So if you had 15 seconds to speak to the President, what would you say? What would you "whisper" in his ear?
Somebody asked that the other day and I had to think about it. I finally came up with this (which I saw somewhere but can't remember where) which is all too appropriate:

Mr President, you know that book by Orwell? You know, 1984? Well, sir, it's supposed to be a WARNING not an instruction manual.

Tell me, in comments what you'd tell the President if you had 15 seconds.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quick Reminder(s)

Wood County Democrats Monthly Meeting
Tonight 6:30P.M.
American Legion Hall
Pittsville, Wisconsin

Note: Executive Committee Meeting at 5:45 in the basement of the Legion Building...

Also, for the "bloggier" among us...stop over at firedoglake and leave a comment, prayer or best wishes for our good friend in the liberal/progressive community, Jane Hamser. Jane is undergoing surgery for cancer today. It's her third battle against this unholy beast....our prayers are certainly with her..... below is a picture of Jane (on our left), Former President Clinton (in the middle) and Christie Hardin Smith aka "The Redhead" and also of firedoglake (on the right).

Some more perspective....

Prof Cole at Informed Comment gives us some perspective on the bombings, kidnapping and killings that have taken place in Iraq in the last 24 hours or so....the media hasn't carried much about it and to some extent, neither has the blogosphere...It has, however, been terrible....a quick rehash:

125 killed
"Hundreds" wounded
4 GIs Killed

Why is the violence increasing?

Juan Cole's explanation makes sense.

We should be clear why these bombings are taking place. It is because
Bush's policy in Iraq was total victory, along with his Shiite and Kurdish
allies, over the previously dominant Sunni Arabs. Bush did this thing as a zero
sum game, one where there is only one pie and if one person gets a bigger piece,
someone else gets a tiny sliver. The Sunni Arabs-- among the best educated and
most capable people in the country-- were offered the tiny sliver. They won't
accept US troops in their country for the most part, and won't accept reduction
to a small powerless minority. They have succeeded in provoking the Shiites to
form guerrilla groups and engage in reprisal killings, as well, as a way of
destabilizing the country. Bush's allies won't share power and wealth with them,
and Bush himself keeps pushing for what he calls "victory." Today is what his
victory looks like after nearly 4 years, and it is highly unlikely to look
different any time soon.

Zero sum game?

More like 80% solution "sum game". Bush has allied himself with the Shiia and, consequently the Shiia Militia...that's bad news for the Sunni.

What I don't understand, is why Bush would alaign himself with Shiia when that will only serve to antagonize our traditional ally, Saudi Arabia, which is overwhelmingly Sunni. The only immediate explanation seems to be that the Shiia are, from Bush's perspective anyway, the ONLY GAME IN TOWN. Nevermind that the Shiia are natural allies with our other "Axis of Evil" sworn enemy, Iran. Nevermind that it creates more bloodshed, rekindles centuries-old rivalries and ignites more blood revenge.


Absolutely stupid.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Marketing Testosterone....

Glenn Greenwald over at Unclaimed Territory writes a lot of very thoughtful posts that reflect a depth not often found on the web. Most of the time I feel like a freshman Political Student when I read his work but today I found a reason to disagree; at least on some minor points.....but important points nevertheless....

Let's overview, shall we?

Greenwald notes, correctly, I think, that America seems now to choose war over diplomcacy as a first choice, not by any means a last choice. He then goes on to explain why in this paragraph:


There are probably numerous reasons for this. Many claim that the senseless Vietnam disaster instilled in Americans an exaggerated resistance to war, a refusal to recognize it as necessary even when it really was. Whether that is true or not, I think the "wars" the U.S. fought in the 1980s and 1990s led Americans to the opposite extreme. The wars fought by the Reagan administration were covert (in Central America) or absurdly easy and bloodless (in Grenada). But the most consequential force pushing Americans to lose their instinctive resistance to war was probably the First Persian Gulf War -- everyone's favorite. It was the first fully televised war, and it made war seem like nothing more significant than killing bad people by zapping them from the sky with super high-tech, precision weaponry that risked nothing -- war as video game, cheered on safely and clinically from a distance.

and then, concludes, as here:

In our political discourse, there just no longer is a strong presumption against war. In fact, it's almost as though there is a reverse presumption -- that we should proceed to wage wars on whatever countries we dislike or which are defying our orders in some way unless someone can find compelling reasons not to. The burden is now on those who would like not to engage in a series of endless wars to demonstrate why we should not.

I have a slightly different view on the evolution of our easy acceptance of war as a foreign policy tool, or, more accurately, war in place of foreign policy and diplomacy.My view is that Viet Nam poisoned America's soul but it also left our national pride in tatters. Hence, when Ronald Reagan came riding into the White House on his White Horse, with his White Hat, well, hallejuha! We were saved from our National Disgrace of defeat in Viet Nam. To prove it, Reagan flexed his (our) muscles in the ways Greenwald described in the post and that got the national testosterone flowing once again. But the military adventurism of Reagan was just foreplay, Gulf War I was a full blown national orgasm. Greenwald does a great job of exposing that here:

"... But the most consequential force pushing Americans to lose their instinctive resistance to war was probably the First Persian Gulf War -- everyone's favorite. It was the first fully televised war, and it made war seem like nothing more significant than killing bad people by zapping them from the sky with super high-tech, precision weaponry that risked nothing -- war as video game, cheered on safely and clinically from a distance."

The true disgrace of the Bush administration is that they believe that America will yield unlimited political and judicial power to any politician who generates enough testosterone. It has nothing to do with policy and very little to do with philosophy but it has everything to do with POWER. To use this technique to manipulate a nation and (for all practical purposes) hijack its collective soul is immoral beyond description.

Greenwalds comments made many, many good points after his post but this one struck me enough to recommend it to you also.

Recommended reading re: my comment above: End of Victory Culture: Cold War America and the Disillusioning of a Generation by Tom Engelhardt.

And just how does all this affect us? Are we selling testosterone? Is it having an effect? Click on the link below and see what nationally syndicated radio hostess, Laura Ingraham had to say about the popular Fox Network Television series "24".

Get that?

The popularity of the series "24" according to the right wing shows that Americans approve of torturing "terrorists"...because that's the way the hero of "24", Jack, treats "terrorists....I've watched the show once, during the Thanksgiving holidays because my Brother-in-law is a big fan and didn't want to miss the show. It was jaw-dropping in it's machismo, testosterone-dripping, violence all wrapped up in Uber-patriotic ....tripe... It was probably good entertainment but for it to become a "referendum" on American foreign policy is


and yet, maybe that's what we have become.

(Note: "24" is making news again because of their most recent episode where terrorists ignite a smal-yield nuke in it entertainment? Or is it propaganda?)

I've done what I am so fond of doing. Identifying a problem but offering no solution...I'll leave that to you and your comments.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No! I don't care!

All I'm hearing is Golden Globes this and Golden Globes that....

So...who ARE these people anyway?

—Actress, Drama: Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
—Actor, Drama: Hugh Laurie, "House"
—Series, Musical or Comedy: "Ugly Betty," ABC
—Actress, Musical or Comedy: America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
—Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
—Miniseries or movie: "Elizabeth I," HBO
—Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Helen Mirren, "Elizabeth I"
—Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Bill Nighy, "Gideon's Daughter"
—Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Emily Blunt, "Gideon's Daughter"
—Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Jeremy Irons, "Elizabeth I"

Just got my haircut....I need a smoke.....

A Very Different Conservative....

I wanted to post on this yesterday but deferred in observation of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day.

I got the lead from James Wolcott of Vanity Fair who, in turn, directed us to the American Conservative columnists Heather MacDonald(bio here). MacDonald is a different kind of conservative, you see, she's an atheist. In her blog, Gene Expression, she explains why and the discussion is incredibly revealing. Here are some snippets:

I wrote The American Conservative piece out of frustration with the preening piety of conservative pundits. I attended a New York cocktail party in 2003, for example, where a prominent columnist said to the group standing around him: "We all know that what makes Republicans superior to Democrats is their religious faith." This sentiment has been repeated in print ad nauseam, along with its twin: "We all know that morality is not possible without religion." I didn't then have the courage to point out to the prominent columnist that quite a few conservatives and Republicans of the highest standing had no religious faith, without apparent injury to their principles or their behavior.


As I was pondering whether any of these practices could be reconciled with rationality, the religious gloating of the conservative intelligentsia only grew louder. The onset of the Iraq war expanded the domain of religious triumphalism to transatlantic relations: what makes America superior to Europe, we were told by conservative opinionizers, is its religious faith and its willingness to invade Iraq. George Bush made the connection between religious beliefs and the Iraq war explicit, with his childlike claim that freedom was God's gift to humanity and that he was delivering that gift himself by invading Iraq.


So in the American Conservative piece I wanted to offer some resistance to the assumption of conservative religious unanimity. I tried to point out that conservatism has no necessary relation to religious belief, and that rational thought, not revelation, is all that is required to arrive at the fundamental conservative principles of personal responsibility and the rule of law. I find it depressing that every organ of conservative opinion reflexively cheers on creationism and intelligent design, while delivering snide pot shots at the Enlightenment. Which of the astounding fruits of empiricism would these Enlightenment-bashers dispense with: the conquest of cholera and other infectious diseases, emergency room medicine, jet travel, or the internet, to name just a handful of the millions of human triumphs that we take for granted?

I wonder if she'll be "drummed out" of the Republican Party? For all their talk about the "big tent" I doubt if the rather extremist group which controls the party would tolerate such talk from within.

It's a great article/ on the link there's lots more than I posted.

Monday, January 15, 2007

In honor of Dr. King.....

There's a lot of good stuff on the web today that we can talk about. Importantly though, we do need to take the time to seriously observe that this is the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Day. To those of us coming of age in the '60s, Dr King was a towering figure in our lives. He seemed to be everywhere at all times and he held up a mirror to us through which we could examine ourselves, and, in a broader sense, our society.

I was, as most of you know, raised in the South where Dr. King was not ....shall we say....respected? The Yaaa-hooooos! (rednecks in other areas) hated three people vehemently: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Earl Warren. (I can still close my eyes and see the "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards in my home town.) And when our town saw the "outside agitators" came to town, the locals decided to prevent an incident by virtually ignoring them; that included the newspaper, radio and TV outlets who literally conspired to keep them out of public site. Some of the ....ummmmm....."less enlightened" (probably FkA, or Future Klansmen of America)***guys at the high school walked the hallways chanting "Ignore the Niggers with Vig-ha (vigor)" Thus insulting Kennedy and the civil rights movement in a one chant. Sort of a "two-fer".

(***No, there really isn't such an organization, I'm taking extensive literary license)

Most of the younger generations have heard the famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington D.C.. It is perhaps his most famous work. I've given a link to a video of it below. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day. See the video of the "I have a dream" speech here

But there was another speech that was important then and perhaps forgotten until now. We tend to forget that Dr. King saw the war in Viet Nam as a civil rights issue on a scale much, much grander than the movement in the United States. He gave a speech, entitled "Beyond Viet Nam" and it is as relevant today as it was back then. Here are two "snippets" to show you what I mean.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called "enemy," I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

That bears repeating: "The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours."

Is that true of the Iraq war?

Certainly the "great initiative" was/is ours. So does it follow that it is also our initiative to stop it? The alternative, of course is to get caught up in the cycle of Jacobian Tragedy I wrote about last week and seek revenge for revenge, blood for blood until we destroy not just our enemies, but ourselves.

Maybe that's the lesson of Dr. King. Maybe what he wanted us to know all along that we had to have the courage and wisdom to reject the path of violence.

He did.

It cost him his life, but he personally rejected violence.

on edit: I found a link..(video link) that the "Beyond Viet Nam" speech here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yeah....right (rolls eyes)

Our friends at The Onion have a nice "take" on the "Surge" (ESCALATION)

and here's a snippet or two to whet your appetite:

WASHINGTON, DC—Citing a desire to finally make a difference in Iraq, in the past two weeks, more than 800,000 young people from upper-middle- and upper-class families have put aside their education, careers, and physical well-being to enlist in the military, new data from the Department Of Defense shows.


At the on-campus temporary recruitment table at Reed College in Portland, OR, the line of students eager to sign up for active duty stretched around the block Monday. Recruiters across the country reported a similar trend, with scores of young people asking how soon they could be ready to go to battle in Iraq.

"They don't have these recruitment centers where I live," said Daniel Feldman, 26, who resides in the affluent neighborhood of Brookline, MA and recently passed his bar exam. "I didn't realize you could just sign up, but now that I do, all of my friends from law school, yoga class, and temple are going to join, too. And not the Reserves either. We're talking down and dirty, right on the front lines."

I don't think likes us to use the famous emoticons....but if they did I'd display "eyse-rolling emoticons" all over the place.

In the way of commentary I'll offer only this: During Viet Nam, it was always thus. The rich boys walked around town showing off their spiffy National Guard uniforms or recently discovered "Medical Deferrments". The black kids lined up at the bus station for the trip to the induction center. It never was fair.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Al Gore and Condoms?

Sometimes I think the universe is ordered strictly around your own, personal reality. That is, events come together in that strange phenonemon we call coincidence...but it's not really's some kind of cosmic plan.

So last night I finally got to go see An Inconvenient Truth. I've wanted to see it forever (okay, at least since it came out)and last night everything came together and I got to go see it along with some of my bloggier type friends.

I decided I would view the movie with "an open mind"...that is, I would try to approach it with a critical, analytical and objective mind and refrain from gushing over Al Gore or maybe even go off the deep end over global warming. I listened carefully to what he said and tried to absorb the documentation as much as it was presented and form my own opinion...

It thought the data was dumbed down for the general public but since I have two meteorologists in the family I knew what the charts meant and understood some of the concepts better than they were explained in the movie. To me the data is pretty clear, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are at levels greater than they've been in 600,000 years. Worse yet, historically, much more minor variations in the levels have meant huge changes in global climate.

But here's the cosmic crazieness of it all.

Take a look at this article from Huffington Post:

Here's the crazy snippet:

This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert "An Inconvenient Truth."
After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a computer presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists' findings.

Al Gore's documentary about global warming may not be shown unless the teacher also presents an "opposing view."

and the "money quote"?

"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is. ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."


Completely, 100% certified, prime NUTZOID!

It crossed my mind last night while watching the film, that when Gore showed scientists measuring the "ice cores" that traced climate chemical history for 650,000 years, that some of the religious fundamentalists would freak out.....What surprises me is that the above quoted Frosty Hardison says that the earth is 14,000 years old when other fundie cults claim the bible only supports that the earth is 6,000 years old.

But the universe did come to a cosmic convergence for me see the film, evaluate it for myself and then to watch the extrordinary lengths some people will go to deny....


Friday, January 12, 2007

A Reminder about a FREE SHOWING

If you need details, see this post:

The definitive film on Global Warming will be shown free tonight at the First Presbyterian Church in Marshfield at 7PM. (It's the new church on the corner of Adler and Lincoln)/

Again, their licensing agreement will not allow them to give the title of the film but it is widely known by many.....

I've received emails from Sybylla and madashell (from another blog) as well as Broca indicating that they will probably be ....just like some of the debate parties during the campaigns....lots of fun....