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"Disorder in the house. . . reptile wisdom . . . zombies on the lawn, staggering around; Disorder in the house, there's a flaw in the system, a fly in the ointment's gonna bring the whole thing down."
Warren Zevon

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Pass the Hallucinogens, then the Vaseline 

Okay, maybe I'm channeling Rude Pundit here this morning, but whatever Hindrocket is smoking, I want some. I seldom read these hacks, but I got sucked into this one from the Daou Report's excerpt, and it confirmed my previous opinion that these guys are the worst of the worst. While it starts as a typically self-absorbed Hindrocket post advertising his Sunday school lesson (it's the Book of Ruth), and his appearance Larry Kudlow's radio show (its "syndicated," says Hindrocket), it quickly descends in some of the most giggly, gushing, and embarrassing Bush worship I've seen recently. What is it about that swaggering little phony that turns outwardly normal men into swooning jock sniffers?

Hindrocket's radio spot will apparently be conducted by telephone, which is fitting, because, well, you know, phone sex is trendy these days. And, excited as he is about the prospect of he and Kudlow reaching mutual self-induced orgasm while praising the other's brilliance, Hindrocket just can't wait, so he gives us a premature gush of a Kudlow post from yesterday:

"Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi both know that free-election democracy is the death knell of terrorism. They also know that the potential impact of free Iraqi elections on the rest of the region -- including Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia -- is incalculable. The Iraqi elections will reverberate throughout the entire Muslim world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and the whole South Asian tsunami zone."

For crying out loud, guys, put it back in your pants. "Free-election democracy" didn't stop you right wing nutballs, in the form of Timothy McVeigh, from blowing up our very own Federal Building in Oklahoma. It didn't stop September 11. To quote The Guardian's Peter Preston, "Democracy is no more a panacea in Iraq than in Northern Ireland." Russian-style democracy didn't prevent Beslan; nor will a democratic Palestine quell Arab/Israeli violence. (Indeed, as the Washington Post notes, Middle Eastern democracies don't always behave as Mr. Bush pretends they will.) I could go on with this, but do I really need to? The idea that terrorists like bin Laden and Zarqawi will just throw in the towel after a successful election is just too stupid for words.

But, as if that wasn't enough, Hindrocket fluffs Kudlow a little more:

"Bush’s inaugural vision will be proven right. His speech will be vindicated, and along with it will come a foreign-policy triumph of moral idealism, human rights, and freedom over the cynical “realist” view that after all we have seen in the past 25 years we can still do business with dictators and despots in the name of stability."

Okay, so when do we bomb Saudia Arabia? Pakistan? How about Uzbekistan? When do we invade China, kill their leaders and convert them to democracy?
Hell, guys, you conservatives practically invented the "realist" view, now you're praising Bush for pretending to repudiate it? Now I'll admit, your side is spouting some pretty confusing, inconsistent shit when it comes to "realist" foreign policy, but before you get too excited, you should at least try to understand that in this context, the abandonment of "realism" means the acceptance of wild-eyed neocon ideology.

Then the build up to the money shot, this time with prose by Hindrocket himself:

"President Bush is not content to be the best President since Reagan; he wants to be the greatest President since Lincoln. I still think he has a shot."

I don't think he'll be able to wait for the radio spot. He's not there yet, but he's getting glassy-eyed.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Fundamental Injustice 

While arguing social politics with an avowed fundamentalist last week, I was once again reminded of the fact that biblical literalists are almost always completely oblivious to the fact that the Bible is a compelling voice against earthly social injustice. The themes of Jesus' ministry which echo in the voices of the civil rights movement, the womens' rights movement, the gay rights movement, and the push for affordable healthcare for children, the elderly and the poor, appear to be completely lost on these people. Theologian Marcus Borg believes this is because fundamentalism lacks a sense of context, and its adherents fail to recognize that the various authors of both the Torah and the New Testament often wrote to protest the injustices forced upon them by what are now termed "ancient domination systems." An ancient domination system was characterized by three features:

1) Political oppression. Ordinary people were ruled by powerful and wealthy elites.

2) Economic exploitation by the ruling class. The ruling class enforced an economic system that ensured that annual production of wealth was concentrated in the wealthiest 1 to 5 percent.

3) The ruling class was religiously legitimated. Kings, or the ruling class, ruled by divine right, and all law came from God.

(paraphrased from Marcus Borg, "The Heart of Christianity," p. 130)

Hmmm. Let's think about this: a ruling class of wealthy elites, with taxation schemes which concentrate wealth among the rich, a widening income gap, the denial of rights and benefits to the lower classes, and a leader who claims to act with divine authority.

Doesn't sound so "ancient", does it? It isn't; it's right here, right now. Only this time, the "Christians" are on the wrong side of the struggle.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005



(Nick Anderson cartoon via Josh Marshall and Ezra Klein)

The Muse of the Moose and the Morality of Accessibility 

I know I've linked to the Moose several times this week, but he's got the muse. Yesterday, our resident ruminant warned of the impending divorce action between the religious right and the Bush administration. As The Washington Post reports, the Senate Republicans' top 10 legislative priorities do not include a constitutional ban on gay marriage. As result, some conservative religious groups are threatening to withhold support for Mr. Bush's proposed Social Security overhaul. Quoth the Moose:

"It looks like the Bushies are in the righteous right's dog house over - of all things - marriage. Flowers and a romantic dinner may be necessary. Will Rove be forced to sleep on the couch in the living room? Is marriage counseling necessary to make up for the President's lack of fervor on a gay marriage amendment? Hopefully Dr. Phil is available for this matrimonial crisis because Dr. Dobson is distracted by that nefarious threat to Western Civilization and all values we hold dear - Sponge Bob."

And, having previously quoted the Moose's thoughts on the presidential reaction to the right-to-life march, I should also mention a more studied approach is to be found in an "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Abortion as a Moral Decision," linked by Avedon Carol, which adds the term "accessible" to the familiar "safe, legal, and rare" description. The Letter, published by the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, includes the following language regarding the "moral imperative for access:"

The ability to choose an abortion should not be compromised by economic, educational, class or marital status, age, race, geographic location or inadequate information. Current measures that limit women’s access to abortion services—by denying public funds for low-income women; coercing parental consent and notification as contrasted with providing resources for parental and adolescent counseling; denying international family planning assistance to agencies in developing countries that offer women information about pregnancy options; and
banning medical procedures—are punitive and do nothing to promote moral decision-making.

. . .

We must work together to reduce unintended and unwanted pregnancies and address the
circumstances that result in the decision to have an abortion. Poverty, social inequities, ignorance, sexism, racism, and unsupportive relationships may render a woman virtually powerless to choose freely. We call for a religious and moral commitment to reproductive health and rights; there must be access to comprehensive sexuality education and contraception, including emergency contraception.


I can only concur. This isn't a bumper sticker issue, and my previous post was not intended to treat it only in the overly simplistic context of framing. "Safe, legal, accessible, and rare" is not simply a talking point, it's the moral position.

Sorry for such a long post; I didn't have time to write a shorter one.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Bull Moose II and Bush's Culture of Life 

As the Moose notes, Bush's "pro-life" message could pass for progressive if it applied to the born as well as the unborn:

"You know, we come from many backgrounds -- different backgrounds, but what unites us is our understanding that the essence of civilization is this: The strong have a duty to protect the weak. (Applause.)

"I appreciate so very much your work toward building a culture of life-- (applause) -- a culture that will protect the most innocent among us and the voiceless. We are working to promote a culture of life, to promote compassion for women and their unborn babies. (Applause.) We know -- we know that in a culture that does not protect the most dependent, the handicapped, the elderly, the unloved, or simply inconvenient become increasingly vulnerable. "


But, as we all know, Bush's message doesn't really apply to either the born or the unborn, and like the rest of the man's empty rhetoric, is a complete and total, shameless lie.

And, by the way, Mr. Bush, the "culture of life"? Here's what a Catholic Bishop thinks of your idea of a "culture of life."

(Link to Bishop Gumbleton's comments via Loyal Opposition)

Bull Moose I 

The Bull Moose says what I tried to say below, but does a much better job:

As the Moose previously pointed out, the religious right provides the foot soldiers for the Republican Party while the money men get the goodies. While the President aggressively presses for tax cuts for the rich and social security privatization for the financial services industry, he retreats on a gay marriage constitutional amendment.

Today is the annual anti-abortion march in Washington. Like past Republican Presidents, W. will likely deliver a phone message that will be broadcast to the marchers. It is interesting that "ardently" pro-life Presidents never appear in person at these marches even when they are sometimes just a few blocks away in the White House. After all, W. is not reluctant to appear in person at business groups to tout his tax cut or social security plans.

Some day, perhaps, rank and file social conservatives will realize that they are being used by the Republican bosses. And maybe, Democrats can appeal to them with a politics that is sensitive to the concerns of cultural traditionalists.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Safe, Legal, and Rare 

Anticipating tomorrow's 2005 Right-to-Life March, Loyal Opposition makes some good points on the importance of framing the issue of abortion, and the conservatives' "vested interest" in keeping the issue alive. In 1995, Republicans were obviously delighted to draft a "partial birth" abortion bill that they knew Bill Clinton would veto, rather than attempt a "health of the mother" compromise that would have significantly limited the admittedly abhorrent procedure. But, equally abhorrent is the fact that the conservatives elected to allow the procedure to proceed without federally enforced limits in order to preserve a campaign issue.

As to framing, the post linked above accurately points out that progressives all too often make the mistake of allowing the right to define the liberal side of debate with losing terminology. Liberals don't need to accept the label "pro-choice," and should under no circumstances "support abortion." As Bill Clinton put it, abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare." No democrats I know favor abortion, but they're realistic enough to know that overturning Roe v. Wade, thereby allowing states to legislate the issue is not answer.

My gut feeling is that many conservatives know that, too. And while it is certainly true that many republicans have strong ideological objections to abortion, the power brokers and policy makers of that party seek only to create a position they can sell as "moral" to an electorate seeking easy answers to difficult questions. If their actions are any indication, any concern republican party leaders might have about abortion is secondary to their political goals.

(Loyal Opposition link via The Daou Report)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Feeding the Flames 

During Thursday's inaugural address, Mr. Bush informed the nation that "because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom." Further, Mr. Bush asserted that, "[b]y our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men." Unfortunately, the latter statement is most likely true.

As The Guardian's James Meek reminds us, Bush's rhetorical flourish owes its existence to a quote from "The Devils", a novel by 19th Century novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky. In this work, which deals with a terrorist insurgency against a tyrannical government, one of Dostoevsky's characters comments about the futility of fighting a fire started by terrorists, saying, "The fire is in the minds of men, and not in the roofs of houses."

So true, and so apt. Bush's ever evolving justifications for invading Iraq do nothing but further strengthen the already well-rooted conviction throughout the Muslim world that an aggressively Christian America seeks only their extermination.

The fire is indeed lit, Mr. Bush, and through this administration's imperial hubris, its flames are stoked and well tended. We can only pray that the blaze doesn't become an inferno before a sane administration can put it out.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

World Fears New Bush Era 

From The Guardian:

"George Bush will be sworn in as president of the United States for a second term today in a lavish Washington ceremony, amid mounting international concern that his new administration will make the world a more dangerous place.
A poll of 21 countries published yesterday - reflecting opinion in Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe - showed that a clear majority have grave fears about the next four years.

Fifty-eight per cent of the 22,000 who took part in the poll, commissioned by the BBC World Service, said they expected Mr Bush to have a negative impact on peace and security, compared with only 26% who considered him a positive force.

The survey also indicated for the first time that dislike of Mr Bush is translating into a dislike of Americans in general."


Hmmm, guess all these folks must not have heard the inaugural address, with its inclusive tone and references to unity and reconciliation. Of course, this is the same guy who, four years and countless lives, lies and embarrassments ago, promised to be "uniter, not a divider."

As God's Chosen Leader himself once said: "Fool me once, shame on.. shame on you... eh.. um.. a fooled man can't get fooled again."

Inaugural Eve 

Avedon Carol spots CNN's best headline ever:

Poll: Nation Split on Bush as Uniter or Divider.

Surely some editor somewhere is having a good chuckle.

Oliver Willis has a priceless clip from Fox News in which Vanity Fair's Judy Bachrach ambushes a clueless Fox newswoman with her opinion of the obscene $40 million inauguration the nation will be subjected to tomorrow. (You really should watch this, you won't be sorry).

American Street writer eRobin also has a nice post regarding the excesses of this year's inauguration, in which she reminds us that despite the media's non-coverage of the protests, the 2000 inauguration looked like this:



Monday, January 17, 2005

Others' Reflections on Martin Luther King's Birthday 

The Christian canon would have a lot more credibility with me if several of the Apostle Paul's epistles were replaced with Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." Written partially on scraps of paper in his jail cell, this timeless essay was King's response to a published statement by eight Alabama clergymen which referred to King's civil disobedience movement as "unwise and untimely." If there is a better Christianity-based argument against the passive acceptance of racial discrimination, I've yet to read it. The tone, content and the prose of this masterpiece certainly compares favorably to much of what now constitutes the New Testament. You can read excerpts from the essay and the comments of Simon Rosenberg on his weblog.

Digby builds a well-crafted essay around the insightful, elegant and unrehearsed Bill Clinton speech delivered on the 35th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream Speech" in 1998. Like all of us, Bill Clinton has his personal failings, but I have never doubted the sincerity of his commitment to racial justice, and the Democratic Party would do well to approach the subject as he did, with honesty and passion.


Don't let anybody make you think God chose America as his divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with justice and it seems I can hear God saying to America, "You are too arrogant, and if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I will place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God."

-- Martin Luther King, 4 April 1967

(Thanks to Avedon Carol for bringing this quote to my attention.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Psalm 2004 

Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.

He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.

He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.

He restoreth my fears.

He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.

Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.

Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.

Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.

My health insurance runneth out.

Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,

And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.


(Another version)

(Hat tip to the ever-vigilant JPF)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Apple's Fall from Grace and the Digital Garden of Eden 

I was seriously considering making my next computer purchase a Mac, or "coming over from the dark side," as Mac users like to call a switch from Microsoft based systems. Now I'm not so sure that Apple isn't creating their own dark side in the area of digital music.

For all you NIU's out there (Non-Ipod Units), the iPod isn't just hype. And, it's not just a nifty digital music player, it's a beautifully designed mass storage device with an elegantly simple interface that just happens to have the ability to transform the way you listen to music. Notice I didn't say mp3 player, I said digital music player.

The distinction is important. The iPod works in conjunction with iTunes software, which allows music to be "ripped" to an iPod from a CD, and the iTunes Music Store which allows music to be downloaded to an iPod. ITunes, however, uses Apple's own DRM wrapper, with the result that music downloaded from iTunes won't play on a non-Apple digital music player. Couple this with Apple's considerable market share in the digital music player business, and you've got pretty much the same situation that landed Microsoft in antitrust litigation.

At least that's what Thomas Slattery thinks. Via The Register, we learn that Mr. Slattery has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that "Apple has turned an open and interactive standard into an artifice that prevents consumers from using the portable hard drive digital music player of their choice." In essence, he claims he was "forced" to buy an iPod in order to listen to the music he had downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store.

As Andrew Orlowski notes, although Slattery's argument has been made previously, by Microsoft, no less, he may have an uphill battle convincing a California Court that Apple has a monopoly in a field as young and undefined as the digital music industry.

Still, it just doesn't sit well with me. And it's clear Jobs is serious about it; Apple's new update for iTunes, Version 4.7.1, apparently blocks the popular anti-DRM program Hymn, which previously allowed users to convert music downloaded from iTunes to the more universal mp3 format. It's true that Hymn is basically, well, illegal, based on its ability to thwart copyright protection mechanisms, but that's beside the point. Okay, so Hymn could be used for the unauthorized distribution of digital music, so can software that rips music from CDs and allows you to burn another copy. Like iTunes.

Digital music is in its infancy, and we're still struggling to determine if the old rules should apply, and if not, what the new rules ought to be, but at first glance, this one looks to me like Apple might be taking a page right out of Microsoft's playbook. Say it ain't so, Steve.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Noted in Passing. . . 

Avedon Carol (again) makes a good point when she notes that while everyone keeps talking about "the Armstrong Williams story," the real scoop should be "the administration propaganda and corruption story." Just as "Rathergate" kept the attention on CBS rather than on the undisputed truth of the Killian Memos, once again the left ends up with the important issues lost in translation.

Currently posted on Apostropher's site, is one of his bestest and most righteous rants ever:

"I've been keeping it light here recently because, well, it's been a really bleak period for America these past few months and years and we all need a laugh. But, you know, they bring these f*cking vampires like Negroponte back into the government and then he crawls over the moat and starts enacting the same death squad schemes he got famous for the first time around and after a while I just get disgusted with this entire country. At least, anyhow, the half of you that voted for that prissy, half-witted, trust fund screw-up with his ridiculously fake southern accent and even more ridiculously fake religious pretensions."

Read the whole thing. When he gets going, I swear I see Clapton throwing his head back, soloing over the V chord change in a twelve-bar blues.

Eric Alterman is "really tired of the implicit assumption . . . that 'evangelicals' and other (non-Moslem, of course) religious fundamentalists are more 'moral' than the rest of us." And, it looks like some of the evangelicals themselves are thinking about the notion, especially since their own research proves it's not true. In an article entitled "The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience--Why don't Christians live what they preach?", Christianity Today notes that evangelicals get divorced more often, shack up more readily, and with respect to charitable giving, are generally "stingier" than their non-Christian counterparts:

"In spite of the renewal movement's proud claims to miraculous transformation, the polls showed that members of the movement divorced their spouses just as often as their secular neighbors. They beat their wives as often as their neighbors. They were almost as materialistic and even more racist than their pagan friends. The hard-core skeptics smiled in cynical amusement at this blatant hypocrisy. The general population was puzzled and disgusted. Many of the renewal movement's leaders simply stepped up the tempo of their now enormously successful, highly sophisticated promotional programs. Others wept.

This, alas, is roughly the situation of Western or at least American evangelicalism today.

Scandalous behavior is rapidly destroying American Christianity. By their daily activity, most "Christians" regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate allegiance to money, sex, and self-fulfillment."


Ahem. I mean, Amen.

Hat Tip 

As do most other bloggers, I often link with approval to posts on other sites, but I seldom publish a post dedicated solely to a wholesale endorsement of someone else's weblog. I'm going to have to make an exception for Avedon Carol. Since discovering her site through a post by Digby, I've linked to her site several times now, and there's a reason for that: She's good. Consistently good. And lately she's been so prolific, I can't even keep up with posts linking to her work. Her methodology is to intersperse well written and well researched single-issue essays with broader ranging posts which survey and link to what's being written elsewhere. In the latter posts, she refers readers not just to what's important, but also to what's interesting, and always strikes a good balance between the two.

In fact, I've been meaning to link to three or four things she's published in the last week, but just haven't had the time. So, to the three people and two cats who read this blog, don't wait on me, go read The Sideshow. It should be on everybody's short list.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The New Dumb 

Earlier this week, I heard an NPR piece on Jared Diamond's new book, "Collapse," which details the collapse into ruin of several of earth's great societies. In the course of the interview, he was asked if the Mayans were aware of the fact that their shortsighted environmental policies were dooming them to extinction. His answer was to express his opinion that 70 years from now, historians will likely be asking the same of Americans with respect to their current energy and economic policies: What were they thinking?

Which started me thinking. You know, Hunter S. Thompson was right, when in the aftermath of the 2000 election he stated that "the only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb." He was right, and they're still here, they're still confident, and they're still dumb. But then, you'd have to be wouldn't you? You'd have to be dumb not to realize that they're using two contradictory models of economic growth to sell their Social Security plan, and you'd have to be dumb to believe that the current system is "headed for an iceberg." Especially when administration memos all but admit the impending crisis is but a scare tactic.

But that's just the latest example of the New Dumb. Looking back, you'd have to be dumb to believe that Bush's "clear skies" initiative really resulted in cleaner air, or that taking resources away from State schools is the way to ensure no child is left behind. You'd have to be dumb to believe that Bush had compelling evidence of WMDs in Iraq and the invasion was based on his desire to "liberate" the Iraqi people. Hell, you'd have to be dumb to even think a defiantly ignorant and famously incurious "C" student was even qualified to be President. But there you have it: The Newest Dumb, 59.054,087, actually, give or take a few malfunctioning diebold machines and intimidated minorities.

Then again, maybe I shouldn't be all-inclusive with respect the New Dumb; that's probably not fair. After all, we can categorize them further.

Let's see, there are the truly dumb, the can't-really-help-it dumb, with television-dulled minds easily susceptible to the out-and-out lies of FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, and who buy into the carefully crafted, packaged and projected image of a phony who prances around on aircraft carriers, pretending to have won a war that should have never been fought. It's the ranks of this group that Bush's handlers hope to swell by cutting Pell grants, preventing the possibility of such people actually learning that conservatism is nothing more than a lie. These folks bother me, but not as much as the next group.

Then, there are always the deliberately dumb, the self-interested folk who pretend to believe that tax cuts for the wealthy are the best way to promote economic growth and address practically all of the country's financial issues. These are also the people who will tell you with a straight face that record-breaking deficits, squandered surpluses and record job losses are the hallmarks of effective domestic economic policy. These are the folks who are too quick to tell you how safe their SUV is, how automobile emissions aren't a problem because global warming is a hoax, and how fuel shortages are no problem as long as there are plenty of oil-rich countries inhabited by brown people to invade based on false pretenses.

Then comes my favorite, the ideologically dumb, the rapture-ready conservative Christians who are willing to gamble their children's environmental and economic futures on the belief that they'll all be spirited away into the clouds before their warmongering and shortsighted policies turn the planet into a wasteland. These are the folks who believe that it's moral to promote abstinence-only education programs which are proven to result in more unwanted pregnancies, think that state schools should be required by the federal government to discredit evolution, and serioulsy think that a Democratic administration would ban the Bible, take their guns, and entice their children into homosexual marriages.

As The Good Doctor said, referring to the New Dumb, "It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic."

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Prophet Drudge 

"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."
Revelation 1:3

It is no surprise that the Christian Right sees the Indonesian Tsunami as another sign of an increasingly imminent apocalypse; they've interpreted every natural disaster the same way for the better part of a century. But to what source does your respectable modern Evangelical turn for news of the portents of the end of time? Why, to The Prophet Drudge, of course.

Yes, the Christian Conservative, in a post summarizing the Sunday School class he teaches to young teens, tells us that he tests the waters of eschatology by "clicking through a few recent Drudge headlines," and that he then reached the conclusion that the Earth is a place of "uncertain danger and death." Ahhh. Clever, these Christian Conservatives. And their ingenius news source for events of prophetic importance, hey, I'm impressed. Who knew, when New Testament prophecies were revealed to John and others, that the latter day faithful awaiting the Rapture would turn their watchful eyes to a dishonest, muckracking, homosexual shill for the most corrupt political party ever to inflict its destructive policies on America?

But wait, doesn't the Christian Conservative know that God hates fags? And that the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas is thanking God for the tsunami and 2,000 dead Swedish fags and dykes? Doesn't the Christian Conservative care about God's Word on homosexuality?

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6:15-20.

Rapture Index -3, updated January 10,2005.

(links via The Daou Report)

Radical Feminists and Queers 

While President Bush's appointment of Claude Allen as Domestic Policy Advisor on January 5, 2005 seemed to go relatively unnoticed last week, I'm sure many North Carolina readers remember Allen as the former Jesse Helms' spokesman who, in 1984, accused then Governor Jim Hunt's senatorial campaign of having connections with "radical feminists" and "queers." Allen later explained that he was referring only to the "odd" people associated with Governor Hunt's campaign. Uh-huh, right.

Allen's remarks were the basis for strong questioning from Democrats in 2003, when Bush tried unsuccessfully to nominate Allen for the federal appeals bench. With a Senate confirmation apparently out of reach, Mr. Bush has apparently opted to allow Allen the opportunity to shape domestic policy as a cabinet member rather than a member of the judiciary.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that, "In a written statement, Bush called Allen, 44, a 'valuable member of my administration since 2001, helping to improve the health and welfare of all Americans.'" Well, that's certainly enough for me, how about you?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"Cat-killing, tit-covering, gay-hating freaks" 

If you're still deliberating on your vote for Best Group Blog in The Koufax Awards, the above quote should be reason enough to give some consideration to First Draft. I no longer have time to check out all my favorite blogs on a daily basis, but I try to give this one a click at least several times a week. "The Shadow President" is typical of the great posts published every day by this geat group of writers, and I single it out only because this particular description of the Bush Cabinet made me laugh out loud, which in my current frame of mind can be a difficult undertaking.

(Hat tip to Avedon Carol)

The Grand Exalted Editorial Panjandram Speaks 

I note from The Guardian's Newsblog that the first book penned by celebrated blogger Belle de Jour will be released in the UK on Thursday of next week. This event is of interest to me primarily because the erudite London call girl is apparently not, as has been rumored, Andrew Orlowski. After all, it was Andrew who graciously conferred upon me the honor of Grand Exalted Editorial Panjandram of The Register after I defended him from attacks by the exceedingly-pompous-for-absolutely-no-good-reason-but-probably-a-nice-enough-sort-underneath-it-all Ed Cone. The exchange that led to the grant of my title took place on Ed's blog, was summarized on my other blog, and was linked rather famously here. (Yes, Andrew, I still refer to my title, and have found that it carries more weight than you suggested, although you were correct that it's primary benefit is certainly measured in terms of advancement in the line (queue) at Starbuck's.)

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Twofer From the NYT 

Paul Krugman:

"How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it's O.K. if you're a Republican.

The public became unwilling to believe bad things about those who claim to be defending the nation against terrorism. And the hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels of the right, empowered by the public's credulity, have come out in unprecedented force."



Bob Herbert:

"There are few things more dangerous than a mixture of power, arrogance and incompetence. In the Bush administration, that mixture has been explosive. Forget the meant-to-be-comforting rhetoric surrounding Mr. Gonzales's confirmation hearings. Nothing's changed. As detailed in The Washington Post earlier this month, the administration is making secret plans for the possible lifetime detention of suspected terrorists who will never even be charged."

. . .

"Americans have tended to view the U.S. as the guardian of the highest ideals of justice and fairness. But that is a belief that's getting more and more difficult to sustain. If the Justice Department can be the fiefdom of John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales, those in search of the highest standards of justice have no choice but to look elsewhere.

It's more fruitful now to look overseas. Last month Britain's highest court ruled that the government could not continue to indefinitely detain foreigners suspected of terrorism without charging or trying them. One of the justices wrote that such detentions 'call into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country has until now been very proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.'

That's a sentiment completely lost on an Alberto Gonzales or George W. Bush."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

CNN Cans Tucker Carlson 

The New York Times reports:

Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.


And, of course, included in Stewart's "overall premise" is the accurate observation that Tucker Carlson is a dick.


(From Jesus' General via Rob Schumacher)

Monday, January 03, 2005

WWJD? 

So, with all the attention being paid to the generosity of private American citizens in the wake of the Indonesian Tsunami, where are the "moral values" voters of the religious right? Of course they're at the forefront of the relief effort, right?

AmericaBlog surveys their websites:

Pat Robertson: Nothing.

Jerry Falwell: Nada.

American Family Association: Zilch.

Family Research Council: Not a damn thing.

National Association of Evangelicals: Forget about it.

Anyone see a pattern here? These pharisaical folk better hope their literal beliefs are wrong, and there's no Hell, 'cause if there is, I'm pretty sure their rooms are already reserved.

Local Flavor 

I have absolutely no use for those bloggers who do nothing but blog about blogging. However, as a denizen of the Triad, I would be remiss not to mention that the Greensboro blogging community has recently garnered some national attention. And, though I generally tune out that portion of the blogosphere that continually engages in self-congratulatory discussions as to the world-changing qualities of weblogs, some discussion of the medium is important, and the recent dialogue regarding the possibility of an "open source" Greensboro News & Record is just such a discussion.

Should you be interested in such things, Jay Rosen's post linked above provides a good overview of the issues and the ongoing discussion. The article includes links to several Greensboro blogs, including that of Billy the Blogging Poet, whose comments occasionally appear on this site, Dave Hoggard, and Ed Cone. Another Greensboro blog, Backwards City, is one of my regular reads, as is apparent from my past links to that site.

And while we're on the subject of Greensboro, let me plug the release of Sam Frazier's new recording, "Half a Million Years." Unfortunately, I can't link to an Amazon page offering the record for sale, as it is purely a local release at this point. For those who not familiar with Sam, this recording showcases a truly outstanding songwriter, singer and guitar player. I first heard Sam in the late Nineties when he was performing in a trio with Chris Carroll and Chuck Cotton, although he has been a fixture on the Greensboro music scene for much longer, having played with Tornado and the Mary Lyons Band among others. Sam's guitar playing is legendary, and his songwriting skills certainly do not suffer by comparison. Infused with funk, blues, rock and reggage, the 12 songs on "Half a Million Years" are all gems. If I can get Sam's permission, I'll link to an mp3 of "Shadow", one of my all time favorite tunes, which I've heard Sam perform for years in a variety of ensembles. In the meantime, please buy the record; it's available at BB's Compact Discs in Greensboro. You won't be disappointed.
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