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Friday, November 12, 2004

"Black Hawk Down," the Sequel

The New York Times reports today that insurgents in Iraq successfully shot down a Black Hawk helicopter just north of Baghdad:
The UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was hit by anti-aircraft fire in Taji, 12 miles north of the capital, the military said, and three of its four crew members were injured.

... This was the third time an American helicopter was shot down this week. On Thursday, in separate incidents to the north and southeast of Falluja, two Super Cobra helicopters were brought down after being fired on from the ground, military officials said. Both Marine pilots and their two-man crews escaped after being picked up by American troops in the area, and one of the pilots was injured, officials said.

On the fifth day of an American campaign against insurgents that began in Falluja, military officials said today that 22 United States troops and 5 Iraqi troops have been killed so far.
On November 5, insurgents downed a U.S. helicopter, killing four Americans.

Strange, but I seem to recall that 11 years ago, congressional Republicans raised a public firestorm and blasted the president after insurgents in Mogadishu downed two Black Hawk helicopters. These days, we're not supposed to mind losing helicopters or human lives as long as our God-fearing leader maintains an appropriate veneer of optimism.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 4:57 PM

The Descent of Man

Though I blogged a related story only a few days ago, I can't believe we're having to fight this fight yet again.

Look, folks, it's simple: are we going to teach kids science? If so, we must teach them that the fact of evolution and the authoritative theory of natural selection are indispensable elements of the science of biology--as it now stands. It's always open to revision based on new evidence, as is everything in science, but, right now, that is the state of the science of biology.

If we want to teach "intelligent design," then we shouldn't pretend we're teaching science.

posted by Arnold P. California at 2:33 PM

Is the "Values Voter" a Myth?

I'm the last person who would normally find anything meaningful in a Charles Krauthammer column, but, hey, there's a first time for everything.

I think Krauthammer makes some compelling points in his most recent column as he challenges the media-ordained conclusion that the 2004 presidential election was decided by the so-called "values voter." He writes:
The way the (exit poll) question was set up, moral values was sure to be ranked disproportionately high. Why? Because it was a multiple-choice question and moral values cover a group of issues, while all the other choices were individual issues.

Chop up the alternatives finely enough, and moral values is sure to get a bare plurality over the others.

Look at the choices:
-- Education, 4 percent
-- Taxes, 5 percent
-- Health Care, 8 percent
-- Iraq, 15 percent
-- Terrorism, 19 percent
-- Economy and Jobs, 20 percent
-- Moral Values, 22 percent

"Moral values" encompasses abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood's influence, the general coarsening of the culture, and, for some, the morality of pre-emptive war.

The way to logically pit this class of issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: "war issues" or "foreign policy issues" (Iraq plus terrorism) and "economic issues" (jobs, taxes, health care, etc).

If you pit group against group, moral values comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent, economic issues variously described at 33 percent, and moral values at 22 percent -- i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others.

And we know that this is the real ranking. After all, the exit poll is just a single poll. We had dozens of polls in the run-up to the election that showed that the chief concerns were the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the economy.

Ah, yes. But the fallback is then to attribute Bush's victory to the gay marriage referendums that pushed Bush over the top, particularly in Ohio.

This is more nonsense .... In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote (from the year 2000) by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum. The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 1:06 PM

The Red States: Not Exactly Pillars of Virtue

As if the fact that they supported Bush wasn’t enough to convince our nation of the moral goodness of all of those red states, conservative chatterbug Michelle Malkin went one step further earlier this week. She posted this chart on her website to convince us that red-state Americans are kinder, more virtuous folk than all of us heathens in the blue states.

But not so fast.

A broader examination of social and economic conditions reveals that the red-state citizens aren’t living up to the traditional, Christian values that they supposedly embrace. Consider the following evidence:
I. Homicide and the Red States

One of the Ten Commandment declares, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” But there’s an awful lot of killing going on in the red states. Using FBI crime statistics, compare homicide rates in medium-sized states (between 4 and 13 electoral votes). Of these 13 red states -- AL, AR, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, NV, OK, SC, TN, UT, VA and WV -- all but two had a 2003 homicide rate that exceeded each of these 6 medium-sized blue states: CT, MA, MN, OR, WA, and WI.

II. What About Their Own Marriages?

Many evangelical voters who helped drive the red states into Bush’s column said they wanted to “protect marriage” and other traditional values. But perhaps heterosexual Christian voters in these red states should work harder at protecting their own marriages.

Based on 2003 data, two-thirds of the 27 red states that reported their 2001 divorce rates had rates that exceeded the national average. And what about the blue states? Only three of the 19 blue states reporting this data had divorce rates above the national average.

III. Call Them the “Blood Red” States

The Bible provides a narrative of a Jesus who both consoles and cares for lepers and others who are ill. One major U.S. Christian denomination has declared, “Health care and healing are concrete manifestations of God’s ongoing care for and redemption of all creation.” But this isn’t much of a priority for the red states.

In fact, statistics on the percentage of uninsured Americans reveal that 15 of the 16 worst-ranking states are red states:

35. Georgia
35. Colorado
37. Arkansas
38. Mississippi
39. North Carolina
39. Arizona
41. Oklahoma
41. Florida
43. Wyoming
44. Idaho
45. California
46. Louisiana
47. Alaska
48. Nevada
49. New Mexico
50. Texas

IV. Teach Your Children Well

The God described in the Old Testament believed that one of his prophets’ most critical tasks was to “teach” and enlighten others. In the book of Judges, Manoah prays that God will send someone to “teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”

Yet, as much as they speak of their devotion to the scriptures, voters in the red states don’t seem to value the men and women who have the critical responsibility of teaching schoolchildren. Based on this annual salary survey, the 16 worst-ranking states in teacher salaries have something in common: they all gave their electoral votes to Bush this November.

V. Defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit

Christian clerics often preach that the human body “is the temple of the Holy Spirit.” Yet, in the heart of red state country (the Bible Belt), that temple isn’t looking so angelic. Cigarette smoking, consumption of high-fat foods, very little exercise and other unhealthy habits explain why the following six red states rank at the bottom of United Health Foundation’s index of personal health:

45. Georgia
46. Arkansas
47. South Carolina
48. Tennessee
49. Mississippi
50. Louisiana

posted by Frederick Maryland at 9:53 AM

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Where Eagles Dare

Courtesy of Wonkette, I bring you something that is a very rare occurance on this blog-- a giggle with a merchandise tie-in. But I personally think it's the best post-election t-shirt I've seen. (OK, it's the only post-election shirt I've seen, but that doesn't diminish its greatness.)

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 4:11 PM

Poor Bastards

So here I am in Berlin for the next couple days, and I'm concentrating as hard as I can on not mentioning the war.

But it's not easy. At the airport, I saw slick posters announcing Jewish Culture Days (the 18th edition, apparently) over the next two weeks. The Germans just can't win: if they didn't commemorate German Jewish culture and history, we'd jump all over them; but when they do, it makes me want to jump all over them anyway.

Not that we Americans have much to recommend ourselves in this field. The idea that we would have a well-funded Holocaust Museum on the Mall in Washington before we had even planned a museum of similar stature devoted to the history of slavery or African-American history more broadly would seem ludicrous if it weren't true.

Maybe it's ludicrous anyway.

posted by Arnold P. California at 1:05 PM

Quick! Someone Register!

And do something like this with it.

Don't discount Ashcroft as a presidential candidate. He's not too old (IIRC, he's 62 now). He's proven his bona fides to the religious conservatives and their pet causes, which would help immensely in the primaries. He's also been thoroughly loyal to Bush, who could direct a lot of donors, staff, consultants, etc. his way if Jeb's not running.

Yeah, he's got huge negatives, and there are plenty of people who simply won't vote for him no matter what. But that's mostly in the general election, not in the primaries. And be careful what you wish for: if you think he'll be a relatively easy opponent in the general election because of all the voters he's already alienated, you may have another think coming.

I know he lost to a dead guy the last time he ran for office. But can we really be sure the Democratic candidate in 2008 will be as effective an adversary as a corpse?

Update: I wonder if we can get one of those no-judge-allowed, no-notice-required searches to check Ashcroft's phone records. If there are recent calls to Jerry Falwell, don't be surprised.

Seeking an advantage in the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed a new coalition to guide an "evangelical revolution."


He added that the new group's mission would be to lobby for anti-abortion conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another "George Bush-type" conservative in 2008.


Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative law group Liberty Counsel in Orlando, Fla., will be the coalition's vice chairman; Jonathan Falwell [Jerry's son] will be its executive director. Theologian Tim LaHaye will be the board chairman.

That wouldn't be the Tim LaHaye, would it? As for Mathew Staver, I have to say it was creative to write that "Marriage is comparable to a nuclear reactor," but I wonder if his contention that Satan worked through Ronald Reagan to pervert marriage was rhetorically wise.

Wake up: the fruitcakes are taking over.

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:53 AM

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Step Forward

The news that Alberto Gonzales will be named Attorney General is welcome. Not that Gonzales is a great guy from a liberal point of view, but he's likely to be a hell of a lot better than Ashcroft, and better than a number of other possible appointees.

Why do I say this?
  1. Gonzales is a good lawyer.
  2. He's much, much saner than Ashcroft (not hard), but also than most of the Bush inner circle (a little bit harder).
  3. He's been a judge, and he seems, whether or not for that reason, to have more respect than the rest of the administration (certainly more than Ashcroft) for the rule of law and the need for judicial independence to check executive power.
  4. He is--and I'm not saying this just because he's Hispanic--the most sensitive to immigrants' rights and interests of any of the Bush inner circle, which matters hugely not only because DOJ runs immigration and Ashcroft centralized power in the AG's hands on this issue, but also because the Ashcroft Justice Department has run roughshod over entire immigrant communities in the name of the War on Terror.
  5. He's smarter than Ashcroft. By itself, that could be a bad thing, but for the previous reasons, I think his intelligence may not be devoted entirely to evil.

Gonzales has previously been mentioned in those "who would Bush appoint to the Supreme Court" stories, and he's been the White House's point man on the fights over lower-court nominees. I don't think that we should be overly worried that the AG appointment is meant to ease his path to the Supreme Court. We've got to deal with the fact that even if the Dems manage to stop Bush from appointing someone really objectionable like Michael Luttig, Bush will still be able to appoint at least a couple of justices that are basically to his liking. Gonzales would be far from the worst possibility; indeed, some of the wingers have insisted that Bush not appoint Gonzales because he's too heterodox. My own suspicion is that Gonzales is off the short list because he's not a guaranteed Scalia/Thomas clone, and Bush would consider a justice who turned out more moderate to be a disastrous waste of an opportunity.

The upshot, in my view: the Gonzales appointment isn't any cause for celebration, but it may be cause for a sigh of relief. After all, we don't have to use our imaginations to picture what a slightly deranged social conservative with no respect for civil liberties would do with the job.

posted by Arnold P. California at 2:47 PM

That Solves That Mystery

Apparently Alberto Gonzales isn't on Bush's short list for the Supreme Court after all.

Gonzales is the new Ashcroft, um, I mean Attorney General.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 2:26 PM

My Conclusion: We're Doomed

In my searching to figure out why we lost last week, I've picked up a few books that seem to be all the rage amongst Democrats, such as "What's The Matter with Kansas?" by Thomas Frank.

That book turned out to be largely useless so I stopped reading half way through and picked up "Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate," by George Lakoff, which received glowing blurbs from people like Arianna Huffington, Robert Reich and George Soros.

The book is filled with advice on framing issues wrapped in a bunch of nonsense about how progressives see the country in terms of a "nurturant parent" model as compared to the Republican's "strict father" model. This may or may not be true, but I find it all rather vapid. Yet, despite this, I decided to give the book a chance.

But then I came across a chapter entitled "Metaphors of Terror" that included the following paragraphs regarding the 9/11 attacks on New York
There are a number of metaphors for buildings. A common visual metaphor is that buildings are heads, with windows as eyes. The metaphor is dormant, there in our brains waiting to be awakened. The image of the plane going into South Tower of the World Trade Center activated it. The tower became a head, with windows as eyes, the edge of the tower the temple. The plane going through it becomes a bullet going through someone's head, the flame pouring from the other side blood spurting out.

Tall buildings are metaphorically people standing erect. As each tower fell, it became a body falling. We are not consciously aware of the metaphorical images, but they are part of the power and the horror we experience when we see them.


This works literally—when we see plane coming toward the building and imagine people in the building, we feel the plane coming toward us; when we see the building toppling toward others, we feel the building toppling toward us. It also works metaphorically: if we see the plane going through the building, and unconsciously we metaphorize the building as a head with the plane going through its temple, then we sense—unconsciously but powerfully—being shot through the temple. If we metaphorize the building as a person and see the building fall to the ground in pieces, then we sense—again unconsciously but powerfully— that we are falling to the ground in pieces.
Good lord! If this is the sort of nonsense progressives are going to be relying on to win back the White House, we may as well resign ourselves to getting trounced in every election for the rest of our natural lives.

From now on, if anybody mentions the name "George Lakoff," I'm just going to say "Don't you mean 'George QUACKoff'?"

[I'm lame]

posted by Eugene Oregon at 2:20 PM


Bob Jones loves the GOP - via the Carpetbagger
In your re-election, God has graciously granted America—though she doesn't deserve it—a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. You have been given a mandate. We the people expect your voice to be like the clear and certain sound of a trumpet. Because you seek the Lord daily, we who know the Lord will follow that kind of voice eagerly.

Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ. Honor the Lord, and He will honor you.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 1:16 PM

Did You Learn Your Lesson?

I didn't - especially regarding judicial nominations
"It's an opportunity for Democrats to show whether they learned anything from the last two elections and whether they're now prepared to work with Republicans on behalf of the American people or if they want to continue obstructing," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the Judiciary Committee.
I also like the Washington Times' analysis of the issue of the filibuster
With 51 Republicans in the Senate, the party needed to pick up nine Democrats to garner the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and force a final vote on a nominee being filibustered by Democrats. After last week's wins, however, Republicans will have 55 senators starting in January and will need to peel off just five Democrats — several of whom have voted with Republicans on nominees in the past.
Several? By my count, it's 2 - one of whom is no longer in the Senate.

The way I see it, Republicans had about 53 Senators willing to invoke cloture and they picked up 5 more during the election.

Of course, they also lost 2 (Campbell and Fitzgerald) and Miller and Breaux (who was willing to vote for cloture at least occasionally) both retired.

So the Republicans will have 56 or so votes for cloture, still short of the 60 necessary and if they couldn't pick off 4 Democrats before, I don't see them doing it now.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 1:04 PM

Daily Darfur

Khartoum and the rebels have signed a security and humanitarian agreement that provides for unrestricted access for humanitarian organizations and establishes a "no-fly" zone over rebel controlled territory. I have yet to find an article that provides much detail on the agreement itself.

Apparently there is a draft resolution being discussed in the Security Council that calls for Britain to contribute troops to a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force for Darfur.

Sudan is claiming that some 270,000 refugees have "voluntarily" returned to their villages.

On a semi-related note, Jan Egeland, United Nations Undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, has this op-ed in the Washington Post
As the world finally turns its gaze toward the horrors in Darfur, an equally terrible situation in northern Uganda continues to go unnoticed. The actions of a fanatical rebel movement, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), have displaced more than 1.6 million people in northern and eastern Uganda, a number even higher than in Darfur. The conflict, which has destroyed lives, communities and rich cultural traditions, cannot be allowed to continue. The international community must help bring it to an end and stanch the hemorrhage of human suffering.

Where else in the world do we see the kidnapping of children in attacks targeting boys and girls? Not long ago, I witnessed firsthand the suffering of families in northern Uganda, and I found it more shocking than anything I had seen in visits to conflict areas. More than 20,000 children have been kidnapped, including 12,000 since 2002. This is a conflict fought by, with and against children. More than 80 percent of the LRA forces are children. They are forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves to their commanders.

In the town of Gulu, I met a young girl who had escaped from the LRA. She told me she had been forced to club and bite another child to death. Like this girl, thousands of other children have been raped, brutalized and drugged. Deprived of even the most elemental humanity, they have been forced to inflict unspeakable violence on others.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:26 AM

For the Gander

The other day I posted something on how the Democrats are always held responsible for every stupid thing said by the likes of Michael Moore but the GOP is never tied to any of the crazy things said by its ultra-conservative base.

Matt Welsh (via Kevin Drum) has a good post on how Democratic candidates seem to be politically obligated to produce some "Sister Souljah" moment where they repudiate their own supporters whereas Bush and company are never asked to stop paling around with the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell
Yeah, you say, but what about Michael Moore wuz at the Democratic Convention in the skybox?? He was there at the invitation of discredited former president Jimmy Carter, the man who tasted the back of Bill Clinton's hand quite often in the mid-1990s. At the Republican Convention, one could find strolling the halls and signing autographs for worshipful Republican delegates the likes of Jerry Falwell. Who, you may recall, reacted to the Sept. 11 massacre by telling a nodding Pat Robertson that:
I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."
Did Bush "miss a Souljah moment" by refusing to allow Falwell his seat at the RNC (which the Souljah-jonesers in the media demanded of Kerry and Moore)? Somehow, this didn't come up.

Anyway, the main point is not to compare competing fringes, but mostly to point out that the Republicans' extremist fringe includes powerful senior elected politicians from their own party. Moore, for all his sitting-next-to-people action at the DNC, was not invited on the podium. Rick Santorum, the senator from Pennsylvania who has described outlawing gay marriage as "the ultimate Homeland security," gave a rousing speech to the Republicans. Tom Coburn, the new Republican Senator from Oklahoma, has advocated the death penalty for abortion doctors, and held up Fidel Castro's forced AIDS camps as a model worth emulating. Jim DeMint, your new Senator from South Carolina, thinks that single pregnant women shouldn't teach in public schools. If Bush wanted to deliver a "Sister Souljah moment," embracing cross-over moderation at the expense of his own party's fringe, he wouldn't need to take a swipe at a non-politician like Ann Coulter -- he could start in the august hall of the Unites States Senate.
Of course, one Republican candidate did once have such a Right Wing "Sister Souljah" moment - John McCain.

After his primary win in New Hampshire, McCain was the most popular candidate in the country among nearly every voting group (except the Religious Right), leading Gore by 22% to Bush's 9% lead.

Of course, the Religious Right mobilized to defeat McCain in South Carolina
Bush can thank one group in particular for his victory. He may want to say, God bless the religious right. They voted nearly 3-to-1 for Bush over McCain. Now look at primary voters who are not members of the religious right. McCain carried them narrowly. If it had not been for the religious right, South Carolina would have been a very different story, and perhaps a very different future for the GOP.
A few weeks later, McCain attempted to distance his campaign from the Religious Right and retake the Republican Party
They are corrupting influences on religion and politics and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.
And that was the end of John McCain.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:02 AM


Adam Yoshida loves the GOP - via Atrios
If anyone needs to work to “bring the country together” it’s those on the left who have divided it so badly. Those who sought to destroy this great man should get down upon their knees and beg the victors for mercy. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll let a few of them linger on for the simple reason that they amuse us. My life’s goal is to see the Democratic Party virtually obliterated and left as a rump of people like Stephanie Herseth who both mostly agree with us anyways and are easy on the eyes.

That’s the future of the Democratic Party: providing Republicans with a number of cute (but not that bright) comfort women.
Comfort Women.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 8:52 AM

Interesting Timing

A final (?) shot from the now-he's-a-federalist-now-he's-not reign of John Ashcroft.

The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday (11/9) to block the nation's only law allowing doctors to help terminally ill patients die more quickly.

The appeal from Attorney General John Ashcroft had been expected since May, when a lower court ruled the federal government could not punish Oregon doctors who prescribed lethal doses of federally controlled drugs.


While not as prominent as abortion, the issue is an important one for conservative Christians, who helped Bush win a second term last week. The government waited until Tuesday, the final day possible, to file paperwork at the high court.

There's no reason (IMHO) to think there's any political calculation behind waiting until after the election to file the petition, in spite of the somewhat insinuating tone of the story's final sentence. We lawyers typically wait until the deadline to file papers, and the Solicitor General's office is a busy place. Besides, merely filing a petition for certiorari isn't that big a step (I'm surprised Supreme Court reporter Gina Holland even filed a story about it), and the administration's attempt to overturn the Oregon law has been well-publicized previously; thus, this filing wouldn't likely have been much noticed if it had come before the election and wouldn't have made much difference if it had been noticed.

Still, as with marriage equality, it's pretty clear that for today's GOP, the rhetorical commitment to states' rights is outweighed by the more fundamental (no pun intended) commitment to religious conservatives' social agenda.

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:31 AM

Advice for the Right

If you want to safeguard the law's non-recognition of same-sex unions, then fix the health-insurance system. It's stories like this one that make the middle-of-the-road crowd think that maybe something should be done about legal discrimination against gays and lesbians.

I've been dating the same man for more than five years. But for some reason it's 'immoral' for him to be on my health insurance plan. So this month, we wiped out a huge chunk of our savings so he could get an emergency surgery. If we were married, insurance would have paid. But, according to the radical right, that kind of equal legal protection is wrong.

When lots of folks agree that this is a bad situation, you end up with laws you don't like. So forestall those laws by ameliorating the problem in other ways.

Anyway, I suspect that at least some of you religious conservatives believe it would be a morally good thing to prevent (straight) families from becoming destitute because they cannot pay for a catastrophic illness or injury. Perhaps a system that didn't make health coverage depend on employment might be a good start on a positive moral agenda (i.e., doing stuff that's good), to go along with the mostly negative agenda that the Christian right is currently identified with (i.e., stopping people from doing stuff that's bad).

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:16 AM

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Call Them Fools, But Not Evil

Most of the commentators, pundits and politicos who are urging that America "unite" and "come together" in the wake of the Nov. 2 election have had a thinly disguised intention: to give President Bush free reign in the upcoming and potentially scarier sequel to his first term. But some columnists and editorial writers who definitely stand on the left side of the fence have offered similar verbiage -- empty words that somehow suggest that virulent opposition to the incumbent's policies loses its legitimacy 24 hours after a presidential election.

The most recent column by the Washington Post's Donna Britt struck me that way. And like other Democrats who endorsed some vague notion of national unity in the aftermath of the election, Britt's appeal was undermined by her own words.

At one point in her column, Britt writes:
In a nation divided, demonizing the "other" -- whether an antiabortion Republican or a war-despising Democrat -- deepens the rift. Those who automatically judge political opponents as evil, stupid or "un-American" aren't just wrong. They're part of the problem. Those who fear strengthened Republican majorities should recognize their humanity -- and find creative, authentic ways to appeal to it.
Yet, later in the column, she writes:
Those who crow about the president winning more votes than any candidate in history fail to mention that Sen. John F. Kerry won the second-most ever. The numbers on both sides represent incredible amounts of energy and conviction that only a fool would underestimate.
First, Britt tells us we must not brand the other side as "evil" or "stupid." Then she effectively brands Republicans who dismiss and disparage Kerry's performance as fools. It doesn't sound like Britt has bought into her own kinder-gentler appeal not to judge political foes.

posted by Frederick Maryland at 5:48 PM

Those Poor Persecuted Christians

Somehow or other I stumbled across a recent report from the Liberty Legal Institute purporting to document hundreds of cases of religious discrimination against Christians from across the country. Apparently the report was even delivered to the Senate and Sen. John Cornyn has kindly made it available on his website.

I decided to skim it and imagine my surprise when one of the first "incidents" I came across was the infamous "Raymond Raines" myth
Elementary school student Raymond Raines was "caught" praying over his meal at school. He was lifted from his seat and reprimanded in from of all the other students. He was then taken to the principal who ordered him to cease praying in school.
That is unfortunate for poor Raymond Raines. But it is even more unfortunate for the folks at Liberty Legal because it is totally untrue.

I also came across a few other "incidents" involving poor little Kelly Denooyer (who wasn't allowed to show a video of her singing in church to her class) and poor little Brittney Settle (who received an "zero" for doing a class project on Jesus.)

Of course, those godless heathens over at Americans United felt compelled to point out that neither of these cases were true either.

But hey, I only made it through page 3 of report's 51 pages. Maybe the rest of it is filled with anecdotes that are actually true.

By the way, isn't it a felony to lie to Congress? Just wondering.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 3:40 PM

It's the Wealth, Stupid

Rick Perlstein has another typically good article in the Village Voice arguing that it wasn't gay marriage or moral values that put Bush over the top - it was the rich.

The introduction is great
Amid the left's general dismay, a major anniversary just came and went without much notice. Thirty-five years ago last week Richard Nixon delivered his famous "Silent Majority" speech. In deep doo-doo after the biggest anti-war march in American history—a march in which middle-class squares far outnumbered wild-eyed hippies—Nixon went on TV before the largest audience ever for a presidential address. A treacherous minority wanted to get out of Vietnam at any cost, he explained (he mentioned a protest sign he saw in, of course, San Francisco: "Lose in Vietnam, Bring the Boys Home"). But the "great silent majority" knew better: that "the minority who hold that point of view and try to impose it on the nation by mounting demonstrations in the street" were not really moral.

We have "values," they do not: The message was Nixon's most enduring contribution to Republican politicking.

Something else happened that week. Telegrams of approval poured into the White House, glowing letters to the editor appeared in newspapers across the nation. Nixon proudly displayed them to reporters, who duly reported a grassroots outpouring of support for the president.

Only later, during the Watergate investigations, was it revealed that the White House ran a sophisticated operation to produce fake telegrams and letters to the editor after major presidential addresses. That's the difference between then and now. Now, the media tell the stories the White House needs told without any external prompting.
Read the rest.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 3:18 PM

The Face of Fear

Lincoln Chafee won't be leaving the GOP any time soon
Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee said yesterday that he will remain in the Republican fold and "work hard to regain the support" of Republicans upset over his Election Day comments on his vote against President Bush and his consideration of a party switch.

Chafee said he would also reach out to Mr. Bush "at the proper time," adding, "I wouldn't blame him if he were angry at me."

Chafee has publicly wavered on his support for the president for more than a year. He first endorsed Mr. Bush, then withdrew the endorsement. Later he renewed his support but finally disclosed what he called a "symbolic protest" vote for former President George H.W. Bush.

In an Election Day interview that raised eyebrows from Rhode Island to Washington, Chafee also said he would not rule out quitting the GOP.

Yesterday the senator said, "I think it's really important to Rhode Island that I caucus with the Republicans," since the voters gave Mr. Bush a second term and bolstered the GOP's majorities in the House and the Senate.
What does Bush winning a second term have to do with the people of Rhode Island?

Considering that Kerry won RI by 21% points and that the state's two Democratic representatives just won re-election by huge margins, I don't think too many people in Rhode Island would be upset if you left the GOP, considering that they just overwhelmingly rejected that party's candidates and agenda.

The only reason that caucusing with the GOP is "really important" to Rhode Island is because the GOP would ensure that the state lost every last bit of pork as retribution for your party switch.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:08 AM

Daily Darfur

As the UN begins its 3-month investigation to determine if genocide is taking place, the rebels are accusing Khartoum of destroying evidence of mass graves in Darfur.

Elsewhere in Sudan, the US intends to warn both sides that offers of aid may be withdrawn if an agreement is not signed soon to end the North-South civil war.

Meanwhile, the international community continues to issue idle threats
Prime Minister Tony Blair said Monday the Sudanese government must end the violence in its western region of Darfur or face possible action by the United Nations.
And the US continues its tough talk regarding Sudan's forced relocation of refugees
"We are not pleased with events of recent days. The forced movement of the camp, we disapprove of," [Colin] Powell said, adding that he wanted the Sudanese government to show more flexibility on security arrangements in talks with Darfur rebels in Abuja, Nigeria.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:24 AM

Rorschach Test

Here is a "cartogram" of the election results put together by Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman from the University of Michigan (via Kevin Drum)
A "cartogram" is
[A] map in which the sizes of states have been rescaled according to their population. That is, states are drawn with a size proportional not to their sheer topographic acreage -- which has little to do with politics -- but to the number of their inhabitants, states with more people appearing larger than states with fewer, regardless of their actual area on the ground. Thus, on such a map, the state of Rhode Island, with its 1.1 million inhabitants, would appear about twice the size of Wyoming, which has half a million, even though Wyoming has 60 times the acreage of Rhode Island.
The purple is used to adjust for the fact that the Republican Red on most maps skews the results since many of the "red" counties are counties in which only a slim majority voted Republican. They've accounted for this by using three colors - red, blue, and purple based on percentage of voters.

Looks like American to me.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 8:49 AM

Attack on Reason

Cobb County, Georgia, puts stickers in its high school biology textbooks describing evolution as "a theory, not a fact" that should be "studied carefully and critically considered." This is an improvement; previously the county banned any discussion of evolution from elementary and middle schools and limited it to elective classes in high school.

The problem is that so far as the science of biology is concerned, evolution is a fact and natural selection a theory that is accepted essentially universally. While I'm not sure about the legal merits of the current lawsuit challenging the stickers as a First Amendment violation, the contention that "alternatives" to evolution have any place in a science class stems from a fundamental misconception about what science is.

Marjorie Rogers describes herself as a "six-day literal creationist" who believes the Bible's account of a world created by God in six days is the absolute authority on the origin of life.

Testifying Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Rogers described Cobb County, Ga., biology textbooks that explain Charles Darwin's theory of evolution as "extremely dishonest."

"They acted like there wasn't even a controversy," she said.

The fact is that there isn't a controversy among competent scientists. Sure, there are disputes over details, such as whether the evidence is better explained by the "punctuated equilibrium" conjecture than by the traditional picture of a more or less continuous and gradual process. But there is no scientific dispute over (1) the basic fact that evolution occurred or (2) that evolution is authoritatively (if provisionally) explained by natural selection.

Those facts aren't changed simply because 45% of American adults tell pollsters they believe that God created all species directly and that evolution played no role. Unless people want to cover textbooks with disclaimers reminding students that the Earth may be flat, that electricity might be carried by a fluid, and that objects might fall toward the ground because that is their telos, these anti-rationalist, anti-scientific reminders that evolution is a "theory" should go.

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:11 AM

Voltaire Is Alive and Well and Living in Rotterdam

A well-known Rotterdam imam has criticised the decision by two Dutch regional television stations not to broadcast the controversial film Submission.

Imam Abdullah Haselhoef said not screening the film would give the signal that murder or terrorism pays.


The film is believed to have been the main motive in the murder of [director Theo] van Gogh, who was shot and stabbed on an Amsterdam street on 2 November....

Haselhoef said Monday there are now "many Dutch people who no longer dare say aloud what they think or what they feel about Muslims and Islam". He urged the stations to broadcast the film in spite of their fear.

But Haselhoef also dismissed the content of the film, complaining that it showed contempt for the Islamic faith. He said the film was "dumb and short-sighted" and that it would have been better had it been made in co-operation with Islamic women's organisations.

Liberalism (classical liberalism, that is) lives, even if it's not universal.

Meanwhile, in a sign that Dutch politics is not quite the same as the American variety, politicians across the political spectrum, including parties in the governing center-right coalition, are criticizing the Deputy Prime Minister's declaration of a "war" on terror and Muslim extremism.

posted by Arnold P. California at 4:27 AM

Monday, November 08, 2004

This is why...

I was Karl Rove this past Halloween.
“There are no permanent majorities in U.S. politics,” he said, but there are periods of several decades where one party rules. “Would I like to see the Republican Party be the dominant party for whatever time history gives it the chance to be? You bet.”
Rove said this after proclaiming that the hurtful, Anti-Family Amendment is at the top of Bush's domestic agenda this coming year. Remember, folks, Bush has a mandate now and whatever father says, goes!

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 2:49 PM

Radical Political Redistribution Plan

I've been thinking a lot lately about what the heck we should do now, speaking to anyone who voted against Bush last week.

I've decided that there is one solution-- the ultimate solution-- to fundamentally change American politics. It would scramble American politics, force politicians to run as who they are, force we the people to know more about a candidate then whether or not they have a (R) or (D) behind their name. Forget the two-party system, let's try the one-party system.

So, if you're a registered Democrat, Green, Indendent, Libertarian you should switch your party registration to Republican. It would confuse things greatly, across the board, some of the deepest divides would instantly be erased. Plus it would be fun-- folks like me would embarass the members of the party who don't want us to be thought of as inhabitinig the same earth, let alone being on the same team. There wouldn't be a unifying platform anymore, no one would know where anyone else stands, people would actually have to ask instead of presume. Plus the election cycle would end at the primaries, giving us all some relief from the endless campaign season. The media would be forced to introduce talking heads as staunch Republicans who support same-sex marriage, abortion rights, gun control, etc. (Oh, the comedy.)

If this could actually happen (ha!) is it conceivable that the majority of our fights could be over actual issues instead of what the other party supposedly, superficially represents? Plus, we would destroy the Republican party by joining it-- and there's something awfully sweet about that idea.

Then we would be one nation, totally dysfunctional, with liberty and justice for most.

posted by Zoe Kentucky at 1:39 PM


Doug Giles loves the GOP
Look, I’m sure that the aforementioned Kerry cabal has a lot to say regarding …

· Buying a Bentley,
· Conducting an orgy,
· The preeminent natural herb for curbing the side effects of herpes,
· How to pick out the right stripper and midget for a ménage à trois,
· Where to get nice leather pants,
· Which silicone company produces the best butt implants,
· Where to buy Viagra by volume,
· How to drink alcohol like Otis on Mayberry RFD,
· How to juggle a wife and girlfriend(s),
· How to mousse one’s hair to stand up like Elsa Lancaster’s in The Bride of Frankenstein,
· Where to get a tattoo on your a**,
· Where to have a tattoo removed from your a**,
· Where to buy a purple velvet spandex cat suit, a good cravat, and felt booties,
· How to redistribute someone else’s wealth to pimps, whores and welfare brats,
· How to rid one’s nation of Judeo-Christian ethics and …
· How to make a mock-u-mentary film filled with complete crap about a standing war-time president.


Instead, all of this has concluded with Bush stomping Kerry like a cockroach. That’s got to leave a mark. Yes, the cocksure Dim-o-crats’ vision for America landed them not in the White House but in the Out House, where they belong.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 11:50 AM

Do Business With Terrorists, Get a $19,000 Fine

That seems to be the conclusion of this AP study
Despite the Bush administration's pledge to battle terrorist financing, the government's average penalty against companies doing business with countries listed as terrorist-sponsoring states fell sharply after the Sept. 11 attacks, an Associated Press analysis of federal records shows.

The average penalty for a company doing business with Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, or Libya dropped nearly threefold, from more than $50,000 in the five years before the 2001 attacks to about $18,700 afterward, according to a computer-assisted analysis of federal records.


Penalties for prohibited business involving Iran were nearly twice as high before the attacks. Before Sept. 11, the average penalty for an Iran transaction was more than $33,500; afterward, the average fine was about $17,300.

Fines for trading with Iraq while Saddam was in power averaged more than $101,000 before the Sept. 11 attacks, then fell by more than a third to about $74,800 afterward.

Companies accused of dealing with Libya paid fines averaging more than $41,000 before the attacks, a figure more than three times higher than the average after the attacks of about $12,800.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 10:36 AM

Daily Darfur

A UN-appointed commission has arrived in Sudan to decide whether genocide has taken place - they have three months to reach a conclusion.

Two members of the American Enterprise Institute say that the administration must apply the "Bush Doctrine" to Sudan
American credibility is at stake in Darfur - with ramifications for the ideological struggle at the heart of the war on terrorism. At a time when Bush has pledged a "forward strategy of freedom" for the Greater Middle East, it would be difficult to argue that there is any clearer manifestation of oppression in the Muslim world today than in Darfur, where at least 70,000 Muslims have been killed and nearly 2 million displaced.
The AU is poised to send more troops to Darfur but is currently prevented from doing so for lack of funds.

Last week, the Washington Post ran this story on Sudan's raids on refugee camps
Residents and relief workers said the troops burned shelters, smashed water pipes, fired tear gas and beat people as they fled half-asleep from their huts. Within five hours, they said, the camp was reduced to ashes and about 100 residents were crammed into the makeshift clinic, seeking first aid for gunshot wounds, burns and bruises.
The Washington Post also ran this editorial
The world faces a choice now, and its nature must not be obscured by more weeks of U.N.-speak about being preoccupied with the problem. Having recognized weeks ago that the killings in Darfur represent genocide and having correctly projected that the death toll will amount to at least 300,000, the Bush administration and its allies must decide how much they care. They can choose to think beyond their flimsy African Union deployment. Or they can choose to accept genocide.
Khartoum is resisting pressure to institute a no-fly zone and is demanding that rebel forces be moved into barracks. But the rebels say they will not negotiate any political deal with the government without Khartoum first agreeing to sign a security pledge that requires the government to disarm the Janjaweed.

posted by Eugene Oregon at 9:38 AM

Can the Center Hold?

AMSTERDAM — Police are linking an early morning bomb attack on an Islamic primary school in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven with the brutal murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh last week.


Meanwhile, Eindhoven Mayor Alexander Sakkers told Radio 1 the bomb attack at the Islamic school was "the work of an idiot". He said the city council must do everything possible to hold Eindhoven's various communities together: "This event must not cause a split."

Sakkers said all Islamic buildings in the city should now be placed under 24-hour guard. Police said there had been no definite indications prior to the bombing that an attack was in the making. An investigation has been launched into the cause of the explosion at the Islamic school.

There were also arson attacks against mosques in Huizen in North Holland, Breda and Rotterdam over the weekend, but the damage in all cases was very minor. Police arrested three people in Huizen and Almere in connection with the Huizen arson attack.

The Union of Moroccan Mosques also reported a fire last week at a mosque under construction in Zuilen, a suburb of Utrecht. Police have since confirmed the incident was an arson attack and investigations continue. No suspects have been identified.


AMSTERDAM — The assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh may have been ordered by a fugitive Spanish terrorist, it has been reported.

Spanish authorities are assisting Dutch justice officials investigate possible links between the arrested suspect, Mohammed B., and Islamic extremists in Spain, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.


It had previously been revealed on 20 October that the Dutch intelligence service AIVD was investigating a Dutch link to eight people arrested for allegedly plotting a bomb attack on the High Court in Madrid. An AIVD spokesman confirmed there was a Dutch link to the suspected Spanish terror cell and that the intelligence service was co-operating closely with Spanish authorities in that investigation.

Sigh. One of the suspects in the van Gogh murder is a Spanish-Moroccan. Suddenly Moors aren't such a funny subject here.

posted by Arnold P. California at 8:28 AM


It's more than a bit jarring. On the radio this morning, I heard a news item about homohuwelijk. A huwelijk is a marriage; I assume you can guess what homo means.

I was talking to my Dutch teacher about the election last week, and I tried to raise the subject of same-sex marriage. I had a hard time figuring out how to say it, but when it became clear what I was trying to say, my teacher fed me the right word: homo.

These two incidents are consistent with what I've seen in movie subtitles, newspapers, and magazines. Homo appears to be a perfectly polite colloquial term, like gay in the U.S. Still, I wince a bit when I hear it.

What I can't figure out is how much of my discomfort comes from the term itself and how much from the fact that the correct plural form is homo's. Dutch nouns ending in vowels are pluralized by adding 's. As a card-carrying "stickler," to use the term from the marvelous Eats, Shoots & Leaves, I am driven up the wall by the common but incorrect use of the apostrophe in English plurals as in Banana's for sale ("Sticklers unite! You have nothing to lose but your sense of proportion, and arguably you didn't have a lot of that to begin with.").

It's kind of like Zwarte Piet. The big kiddie holiday here is not Christmas but St. Nicholas's day, which is December 5. The day and the saint are both called Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas arrives by boat for the holiday, accompanied by his sidekick Zwarte Piet ("Black Peter"). Zwarte Piet gives presents to the good children, so even though he's also in charge of punishing the bad ones, he's basically a good guy. But he's a Moor, and he's invariably portrayed in Al Jolson-style blackface. Just one glance at Z.P. conjures up all kinds of disgraceful images from U.S. history. Here, though, he's not politically incorrect at all, so far as I can tell.

I guess the big question is whether Zwarte Piet is a homo.

posted by Arnold P. California at 6:17 AM

Critical Voting Rights Cases

As many of you know, the Supreme Court Justices regularly have private conferences at which they decide which cases to hear. Today's conference is scheduled to consider a couple of cases regarding felon disenfranchisement laws. This is an area where I happen to have done some work, and I think it's safe to say that most folks in the field, on both sides of the issue, expect the Court to hear at least one of the cases. The issues are whether it violates the Voting Rights Act for states to use felon disenfranchisement laws that disproportionately affect blacks; and, if so, whether Congress had the power to prohibit the states from doing so. The second question should be easy (the answer is "yes") under section 5 of the 14th Amendment and section 2 of the 15th Amendment (and maybe even section 2 of the 13th Amendment), but the conservative majority's "federalism" jurisprudence puts that in doubt.

These cases are very important, and Tony Mauro's Legal Times article explains why. It might seem intuitive to a lot of citizens that people should lose their right to vote when they are convicted of felonies, but in fact it's a terrible idea--not just in theory, but because of systemic racial diparities in the criminal justice system. The problem isn't (or isn't only) that blacks commit more crimes; even when you examine whites and blacks who engage in the same conduct, the blacks end up with felony convictions a lot more often. Take a white 19-year-old and a black 19-year-old who are caught selling a small amount of drugs. Other things being equal, the black kid is more likely to: be arrested, rather than getting a warning; be prosecuted, rather than having the D.A. drop the case after arrest or arraignment; be prosecuted for a felony rather than a misdemeanor; or, if charged with a felony, be offered either no plea bargain or a deal that requires pleading to a felony and not a misdemeanor.

Keep an eye out for these cases. They could seriously affect the rights of literally millions of people.

Update: The Supreme Court denied the petitions to review both cases, somewhat surprisingly. There is still a split among the federal courts of appeals, with the 11th Circuit currently rehearing a case from Florida en banc (in other words, all of the judges on the court are considering it, not just the three-judge panel that heard it originally). The 11th Circuit will probably overrule the panel, which included a visiting judge from another part of the country in its 2-1 majority, and hold that there is no violation of the Voting Rights Act. With the full court hearing it, there's more likelihood of multiple concurring and dissenting opinions, so we'll probably get the "federalist" finding that Congress has no power to abolish racially discriminatory felon-disenfranchisement laws. Also, the case is complicated by the fact that, unlike in the other two cases (from Washington and New York), there's a complicated Equal Protection Clause question arising from the fact that various Florida constitutions have barred people with felony convictions from voting, including the 1868 constitution that apparently did so for the purpose of disenfranchising blacks. If the Supreme Court eventually takes the 11th Circuit case, it may find that the case has too many complications to present the Voting Rights Act questions cleanly. Stay tuned.

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:21 AM

Founding Dude Tells Us "Where's My Country"

Thomas Jefferson, reacting to the notorious (and probably unconstitutional) Sedition Act of 1798 in a letter to a friend, via Ed Still's Votelaw blog:
A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war & long oppressions of enormous public debt. ... If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, & then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake. Better luck, therefore, to us all; and health, happiness, & friendly salutations to yourself.

posted by Arnold P. California at 5:17 AM

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