Saturday, November 13

Arianna on "moral values":

And if they are not sure how this is done, they can go back and read Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic convention. He spoke of "faith" and "miracles" and "the belief in things not seen" and the "awesome God" people worship in the Blue states.

"Alongside our famous individualism," he said, "there's another ingredient in the American saga: a belief that we are connected as one people. If there's a child on the South Side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother. . . . It's that fundamental belief -- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper -- that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. 'E pluribus unum.' Out of many, one."

This is perhaps the most spiritual political statement uttered this entire campaign. It should be the starting point for the rebranding of the Democratic Party. For it is only with such real "moral values," from which spring clear political priorities, that you can counter Bush's divisive religiosity -- and win back America's value voters.

Hey, I'm tired of cruising the country. Whoever got the idea that business travel was glamorous? Please tell my kids that it's grueling and uncomfortable. I never see the outside of an airport, a jobsite, or whatever is the next film shot. Hotel pillows are always too big and the beds too firm.

I'll be in Charlotte, NC next week. The good news is that Aguamire, our nephew and ex-Kerry Campaign operative, will be staying with us in Dallas for as long as we can persuade him.

It doesn't bother me that there are younger generation members of our sprawling family to take on our cause and further it -- it fills me with confidence and joy.

I don't think I've mentioned how many business associates, both in-company and outside (principal vendors such as ad agencies I'm currently working with, internet consultants, and meeting planners) have day by day since the election offered me condolences. By yesterday, when the CEO of our commercial construction division popped into my office to crack a stale joke about my political affiliation (he's a sweet, innocent kind of guy who would never deliberately cause pain or even discomfort), I was beginning to feel the strain of good sportsmanship. I have never for one moment tried to pretend that the results of the election didn't matter. I remarked at one point that it seemed for some people that this was something like the day after the NCAA football national championship bowl(as a well-known FSU alum, I have some experience with this).

Like other Democratic voters over the past two weeks, I've gone through at least some of the stages of grief. Unlike some, I honestly regret our lost opportunity to get ourselves out of this GWBush-created mess by electing the efficient, effective John Kerry. As a natural and historical rebel, I early advocated Howard Dean as our party's nominee. But as I researched the candiates' histories and platforms, I came to not only respect and support Kerry, but to believe that he was the right man to lead the nation at this precarious time.

Okay, I'm a "person of faith" so I'll be praying that we'll survive and overcome the next four years under still another Bush administration. I know, as one of those evangelical Christians who actually read the Bible and vote progressive, that the Lord's timetable tends to be more eternal and not so contemporary. But after all, He did create us in His image, so I imagine He expects us to exert a little effort on behalf of the good ourselves, right?

It's not a sin to resist governmental error, despite what John Asscroft says.


It's all up to the Republicans now.

Looking beyond the disappointment of John Kerry's defeat, Democrats should see the silver lining. If Republicans have all the power, they also have all the problems. Kerry would have had the problems without the power, for you can be sure that this Congress, led by Southerners like Tom DeLay, dripping with Christian fundamentalism, would have blocked and blamed him at every turn.
We go through political cycles in America, ones that prevent the tyranny of the majority from becoming real tyranny. The lesson of our history is that our cyclical system, the alternation of power between parties, takes place when one party takes full control and starts to overreach. The self-correcting mechanism is automatic.

Democrats, don't despair. Bush will overreach. The correction will begin.

Let's hope it's not too late when it happens.

UPDATE: Robert Scheer on the same subject:

After all, at some point the Bush White House will have to stop blaming the Clinton administration for its own mistakes. If the Republicans running all three branches of our government continue to pile up outrageous debt, shackle scientific progress with religious fundamentalism, erode civil liberties and thrash about uselessly abroad, the responsibility will be all theirs.

The GOP has met its old bugaboo, incompetent Big Government, and it is them.


Why do the Republicans hate honest, open elections?

Greg Palast, that gem, has the definitive story on the Ohio/New Mexico vote. And as always, it's a fascinating read.

None of this will do us any good, but it needs to be recorded and entered into the public discourse.


Porter Goss, in typical Bush style, is causing a tidal wave at the CIA.

Isn't the work ethic supposed to be a "value" of the GOP? You couldn't prove it by me. Bush, and now his surrogate Goss (among others), are big on the "I don't do windows" kind of thinking (in Goss's case, "I don't do personnel"), i.e., leaving the "details" to surrogates whose capabilities, knowledge, etc. are clearly lacking but who adhere to the party line. This might not be a big deal in the Commerce Department, but in the CIA (caveat: I've never been a fan) during a time of war, it's BIG.

God help us.


Frank Rich on the moral values debate:

The blue ascendancy is nearly as strong among Republicans as it is among Democrats. Those whose "moral values" are invested in cultural heroes like the accused loofah fetishist Bill O'Reilly and the self-gratifying drug consumer Rush Limbaugh are surely joking when they turn apoplectic over MTV. William Bennett's name is now as synonymous with Las Vegas as silicone. The Democrats' Ashton Kutcher is trumped by the Republicans' Britney Spears. Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out.

It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, "The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment." That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't.
"Values," Mr. Frank writes, "always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won." Under this perennial "trick," as he calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry "to clean up its act" - until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes. Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.
According to this argument, the values voters the Democrats must pander to are people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical "Bush votes come to life" apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by "moral absolutes," support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the "working poor." Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met.


This is rich. David Brooks wants the CIA punished for being "political" (read: pro-Kerry or at least anti-Bush) during the campaign season.

Meanwhile, members of Congress and people around the executive branch are wondering what President Bush is going to do to punish the mutineers. A president simply cannot allow a department or agency to go into campaign season opposition and then pay no price for it. If that happens, employees of every agency will feel free to go off and start their own little media campaigns whenever their hearts desire.

Oh, but it was okay for numerous federal agencies to be used as political operations for the GOP, because after all, they serve the pResident, not the citizenry.

Excuse me, but is a coronation going to be part of the inaugural festivities?


Ashcroft blasts judges: Outgoing attorney general says jurists overstepped in reining in President Bush's anti-terrorism plans.

Damn those "activist judges" -- they just don't get it. They're not supposed to interpret the Constitution; they're just supposed to lend legitimacy to whatever fool (or criminal) action the Bush takes.

Friday, November 12

"As democracy is perfected, the office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." --- H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

[Hat tip to Bush Watch]


I should share an emotional moment I experienced earlier this week when I took a camera crew out to D/FW International Airport to film troops arriving from Iraq for R&R. I've got to tell you, no matter what your politics, it's an incredibly moving sight as families rush to greet their loved ones, tears streaming down their faces. One young female soldier and her man ran towards one another, she jumped up and wrapped her legs around his waist, and he just spun her, laughing and crying, until they were both dizzy. One family in particular caught my eye. The mom and dad (I presume) were just holding onto each other and rocking back and forth slowly while three kids under 10 (I'd guess) held hands and circled them like "ring-a-round-the-rosie." One of my crew said, "It's like the kids are protecting their parents' special moment." My lead cameraman had to stop several times (he's an ex-pro football player, so no girlie-man, Arnie) to wipe the tears from his eyes so he could focus.

For me, the hard part was knowing that they're going back into that Bush-created mess. And next time, they just might not get back home.


Keith Olbermann's still on the recount story. Ralph Nader and David Cobb (Green Party) are being helpful. And Keith has something snarky to say about Ann Coulter, always a good thing.


Not much blogging the past few days -- I'm in the middle of a film shoot, and Silmarill is preparing for a title fight (he's a martial arts champion). Didn't get to watch "Saving Private Ryan" last night since Dallas channel WFAA was one of the dozen or so ABC affiliates that refused to run it. The talk radio yahoos are livid, since they're certain it was a deliberate move on the part of our local "liberal media" to make the viewing audience angry with the FCC. I don't know what the motivation was, but I'd be extremely surprised if that view was on target. WFAA is owned by the Belo Corporation, which has a vested interest in continued loosening of the rules to allow increased media concentration/ownership. Also, Belo is not exactly a bastion of liberal fervor -- I know a couple of the board members very well, and they're dyed-in-the-wool conservative Republicans. Belo also owns the Dallas Morning News, which endorsed Bush for "re-election," and has long been known as one of the more conservative Texas dailies.

WFAA, for its part, insisted that it pre-empted the movie because the "F" word is used 40 times (can you believe someone counted?) and they didn't believe it was suitable for our market. The wingers confuse me by insisting that it's OK in this case, that soldiers talk that way, especially in war. I thought they were firmly set against situational morality. Not?

UPDATE: AmericaBlog tells us that the American Family Association is filing a complaint against ABC for airing the film.

Tuesday, November 9


It finally dawned on me.

I'm a minority.

Despite my liberalism, I wasn't brought up to think that way. Granted, I was the white girl in the Southern beach town who, thanks to an enlightened [read: integration] education in my early years on Air Force bases, spoke in favor of civil rights to kids just facing it, the banning of Rebel-flag-waving at sporting events, and John Kennedy as a subteen; joined the multi-cultural "Up With America" national cast as a teen, was told by my dad before I went off to FSU (he knew me so well), "If you're protesting or something and the press show up, cover your face for your mother's sake." In George Wallace Country, I was considered an "eccentric," not "unacceptable," because I came from a socially acceptable family, was an obviously devout and dedicated Baptist, a National Merit scholar, a Student Council officer three years running, and a member of the most popular clique from junior high through graduation (though to this day, I remember my high school days largely in the context of my extra-clique relationships -- I hung out with the debate clubbers, the math nerds, and the rock musicians so much that they are, to this day, my most precious memories. When I won this big stupid beauty contest [I entered wholly to convince myself that a serious health condition I had just endured was behind me and to placate my summer boss, whose wife was chairman of the event and wanted me to enter], you know who I heard from first and most, who were blown away by their intelli-playmate winning a CONVENTIONAL prize and were delighted by it? My math nerd friends, my debate partners.

And even now, in my Fortune-250-male-dominated company, I am allowed my very well-known political views, I'm not quite sure why. I think it's partly because I'm a great entertainer, and the "guys" enjoy having me around, even appreciate a stimulating conversation once in a while. I hope it's at least partly because I'm considered of some financial value to the company, since our new management (although not new to the company) is more focused on return on investment than the previous administration (I should state here that I'm 50-50 on this issue; both administrations, the most recent and the current, are so worthy and admirable, I just wish the USA could have such men/women at the helm).

I'm just (this is a diary, right?), you know, a person who has been popular all her life, within her sphere of influence. I know I affect my circle somewhat. I also know that my circle isn't wide enough to have much effect upon the nation's and the world's problems. And after this past election, I've been humbled beyond belief.

But I always thought that I was still a part of the majority of Americans. Hey, I'm white, an evangelical Christian, a mother of five, and a businesswoman. Aren't I a desirable demographic?


Here's my reality: I'm a Democrat in a red state (Texas). I'm a female executive in the most "manly" of all industries (figure it out -- 17,000 employees, $10+ billion in revenues, and only one female officer -- an almost unnoticed Treasurer -- and only two female "Directors" [one of which is me]. I'm an "evangelical Christian" --i.e., I believe in the Good News that Christ revealed -- who votes Democrat because our worldview and philosophy are more truly aligned with Christ's teachings than the Republicans'. I'm a Democrat in Texas. I support affirmative action (okay, it needs amending, I'm talking principles here). I oppose pre-emptive wars, especially when they are bound to threaten thousands of U.S. lives and limbs and have no rational or honestly U.S.-security-related motivation. I see no need to restrict the rights of any American citizen, whatever their sexual orientation (all of the arguments in favor I've heard/seen so far have consistent with the archaic arguments of pro-slavery; don't expect the Right to acknowledge their legal heritage). I am firmly opposed (and at this point I think it's peripheral but interesting to my argument to reveal that I'm in that well-over-$100k-per-year category) to further tax cuts that explicitly favor shifting the tax burden from the well-to-do to the middle class. I believe that the best way to protect our right to practice our religion whatever it may be, is to keep religious observances completely private and outside any governmental, whether local or national, jurisdiction.

As a person who is so completely in love with God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (hey you guys! learn the VOCABULARY and maybe I'll win you to Christ!), I want to again tell my progressive brethren, "Keep the faith!" and to speak to my other more secular progressive partners, that somehow we truly ARE the party of moral values, of loving and caring for ALL our children, for creating and maintaining in this richest of all nations the most consistently OPEN excellent educational system in the world; that an advanced and economically advantaged society can provide for at least a reasonable safety net for productive-but-disadvantaged citizens (let's not even try to classify ourselves) and a European-style healthcare program; that we have grown up with great pride in our nation's values, as articulated in our Constitution, but are now watching old Twilight Zone episodes in a new light; for trying to understand why 1 in 10 of our black young men aged 25-29 are incarcerated in U.S. prisons and looking for a solution; and in the end, I just want to cry out, and do in my own prayers, "Father, I have no idea what to ask for. I don't have the least idea what we (the USA) should do in regard to Iraq...or so many other things! Please, just bless our nation and help us to find our way to Your Way."

Well, that in additions to my other posts today, should label me among my blog circles as some kind of wacko religionist. Among conservatives, I am generally considered radically lefist.

I don't think I am. I keep thinking of myself as just as me.


More on the evangelical Christians thing:

While many, if not most, so-called evangelicals are conservative, it's not true of all evangelicals. The evangelical right doesn't have a monopoly on "moral values," nor do they have a monopoly on proper and rigorous biblical interpretation.

In fact, having been deeply steeped in a fundamentalist religious tradition my entire life, I'll go so far as to say that these Bible-thumpers are just that -- people who thump on the Bible without bothering to open it up and wrestle with the prophetic tradition contained within.

Progressives, liberals and leftists can't engage them on this because they don't have the vocabulary. They've allowed their fear and ignorance of the Bible to prevent them from seeing that it contains some of the most radically egalitarian, progressive ideals in Western civilization.
[Emphasis mine]
"They love the Bible. But they're not paying attention to whole vast areas of biblical teaching that call for economic justice. You can't be evangelical and associate yourself with Jesus and what he says about the poor and just have no other domestic concerns than tax cuts for wealthy people.

"These are good people. But this is not biblical thinking. We are not the servant of the state. We are the conscience of the state. ... We're not just service providers. We are prophetic interrogators. Why are so many people hungry? ... Why do we have one of six of our children poor, and one of three of these are children of color? 'Why?' is the prophetic question.

"So I want the President to be more evangelical than his domestic policy shows so far in terms of fighting poverty. So I have no trouble with the faith. I want it to be applied. I want a faith that takes Jesus seriously in foreign policy. When Jesus says, 'Blessed are the peacemakers,' what does that mean? ... He doesn't say the 'peace lovers.' Blessed are the peacemakers.

"I think it's not credible to believe that Jesus' command to be peacemakers is best fulfilled by American military supremacy through the imposition of Pax Americana. Do we really think that's what Jesus meant by 'Blessed are the peacemakers?' I think that bears some evangelical reevaluation, in regard to our foreign policy."

Let the Great Evangelical Debate begin. Democrats better dust off their bibles and get in on the conversation -- that is, if they want to sever the unholy alliance between free-market and religious fundamentalism.

This is what helped Bush: he has the vocabulary. He may not walk it, but he can talk it.


While I'm handing out offices, let me say that I agree with Molly Ivins that Bill Clinton should be the new head of the DNC.

First of all, let me rush to join the Bill-Clinton-for-Party-Chair bandwagon (which I believe started with a Los Angles Times editorial). Granted, that means Hillary couldn't run in 2008, which is fine by me since I think she is: (A) too divisive, and (B) I worry about her safety.

So put the Big Dog in at DNC. Let him raise money, recruit candidates and plot strategy. He knows and loves politics: who better? If he doesn't want that deal, he could at least travel about to various states to help strategize.


Unbelievable. This winger makes a case for expelling the blue states from the Union.

Some of us Kerry supporters talk a little about emigrating, and the wingers tell us how pitiful, unAmerican and what sore losers we are. Note that we didn't ask anything of THEM. We consider it a personal decision not to be imposed on anyone but ourselves.

But Repugs just love imposing THEIR wishes on everyone else, especially those who disagree with them. So their solution? Go "America, love it or leave it" one better: "America, love it our way or leave with our foot firmly planted on your backside."

But then what will they do with all us subversives who live in red states? Concentration camps?


I've been toying with this idea, but she beat me to it: Democrats should elect John Kerry to be the new Senate Minority Leader.

John Kerry probably has more influential Republican Senators as close personal friends than any other Democratic Senator. He's the peacemaking type, in the GOOD sense (not sacrificing important principles to do so). He now has an extremely high profile, so news outlets and citizens will pay more attention when he talks. He can take risks other Dem politicians might not (he's incredibly rich, so what can they do to him?). As our presidential nominee, he IS the standard-bearer of our party now. He's a true moderate, certainly not the raving liberal he was made out to be by Karl Rove, so he can relate to all sides (just as long as he TAKES ours!). He's strong on fiscal discipline and national security, the areas where Republicans are most vulnerable (boy, I never thought I'd get to say THAT). And we know the Senate Repugs really aren't going to do much about that execrable social agenda of their base, really. They might like to persuade their hometown folks that they're pious as all-get-out, but they want abortion legal and handy if their minor daughter gets pregnant; they want quickie divorce when the career is over and the idea of a trophy wife looks good; they want their gay nephew/son/daughter/whatever not to suffer prejudice or discrimination. But I digress.

Yeah. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It may not play in Peoria, but he'd be by far the most effective choice. Kerry for Senate Minority Leader.


Check this out. It's a site where people post their pictures with notes apologizing to the world for the U.S. electing Bush. I'm going to add mine when I get home tonight.


I'm disturbed by the chattering I hear on TV, radio and in print, that Democrats need to "go to church" (says Mort Kondracke) and "get religion" to win political races. I'm a devout evangelical Christian JUST LIKE THE ONES WHO VOTED FOR BUSH, and I'm not the only one, who supports the Democratic Party in part because it's fighting to preserve our Constitution. And that includes the separation of church and state, a principle Baptists like me USED to support. Here's a must read on the subject:

I have no idea what Bush's deepest religious convictions are. But to judge by his policies they're far more literalist than Anglican -- and far removed from the tolerant spirituality of his family heritage. His policies on stem-cell research, pushed to their logical conclusion, would make unlawful heresy of (male) adolescent masturbation; and his demagogy on the gay-marriage issue points unmistakably to a world in which the tribal dietary and sexual fetishes of the Old Testament are taken as literally as last week's newspaper headlines. In the light of his recent triumph, I expect to read that the Democrats have missed the bus and must ape the sentiments and superstitions that constitute Bush's base in the Southern and Midwestern heartland. [emphasis mine]
The deists, influenced as they were by the French Enlightenment, pictured a God majestically indifferent to the pettier vanities and ambitions of humankind. We lived, they said, in a Newtonian universe whose creator had wound it up and set it ticking on its own like a great clock, then stood back. How important was deism at America's founding? Very. Whatever claims are now made about American religious origins and doctrines, it can't be denied that deism was the overriding persuasion of our great founding generation -- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and many others. Nor that under the benign influence of this outlook they designed a constitutional system in which church and state were to be eternally separated.

They foresaw that a nation of radically different religious outlooks (where heresy hunters were already zealously at work) would need vigorous safeguards against fraternal jihads and crusades. They witnessed the ruinous force of internecine religious conflict all about them and sought to protect against it. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." -- the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment -- was the result.

Today, alas, those words and their meaning have grown foggy in the minds of many. I was startled, some years ago, to discover that even the great Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan had remembered them incorrectly. He thought the clause read: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion" -- a consequential mix-up of definite and indefinite articles. There are even Supreme Court justices who think, or pretend to think, that what the Establishment Clause does, and all it does, is forbid an established church -- a view that scants the clause's scope no less than its original intent. It was apparently the hope of Madison and other draftsmen to forbid any federal meddling whatsoever with religion, even in those states that still maintained church establishments. But as Madison's auxiliary writings make abundantly clear, the phrase "an establishment of religion" also embraced any and all programs of subvention to religion.
Amnesia about such basics is perhaps to be expected in a hectic post-election season, but the remedies now being hawked in Democratic circles are dubious indeed. The most basic problem is not only the extreme variety of American religious persuasions but also the impossibility of faking religious convictions even in the tinsel world of electronic illusions. What we need is not more of the same but a long-term investment by the Democrats in the underlying good sense of the American people.

When I see pious evangelicals in their cavernous conventicles waving their arms in the air like football referees signaling a touchdown, or Major League Baseball pitchers pointing heavenward in prayerful thanksgiving for a low ERA, I wonder what ever happened to American spiritual modesty. I wonder what became of those Baptists of every stripe who abounded in my small Southern town, and of their conviction that religion was a private conversation with the deity, not something to be worn on the sleeve or boasted of to others, let alone used as a guide to voting.

Perhaps those good people still recalled that even in colonial Virginia (to say nothing of Massachusetts) their ancestors had been enchained and jailed for heresy by civil authorities. I know they were wary of contemporary religious demagogues like Father Charles Coughlin of the Shrine of the Little Flower (known as the "radio priest" in the 1930s), whose anti-FDR tirades were regarded as shocking, even un-American, intrusions of theology into politics. It is reliably said that George Washington spent more Sundays fox hunting than church-going, but what chief executive would dare be accused of such relaxation today? That was then, and this is now.

So, Mr. Jefferson, where are you when the Democrats need you? Any abatement of the gathering wars of sanctimony would demand, to begin with, some passing reference to the book of Job, where we are sternly warned against presuming to know the unsearchable ways of the Almighty. It follows that we should hear less from canting political preachers (including Roman Catholic bishops and elected officials).

I see no prospect just now of an outbreak of spiritual humility in the Bush White House. But should the Democrats imitate its tawdry piosity? Perhaps it is not too late for Democrats to chose the better alternative and remind themselves of older and deeper -- and assuredly more genuine and modest -- American religious traditions.

Democrats need to reach out to "people of faith" for sure, but not by compromising our own beliefs and principles. Instead, we need to help them see that the Democratic Party's agenda and message are more truly compatible with the teachings of Christ than that of the Republicans. True faith isn't a set of "don'ts" and characterized by fear (the Bible says fear is the opposite of faith).

Let me give you an example. Many years ago my mom and dad (pillars of the Southern Baptist Church) visited us in Dallas and noted that our youngest daughter's best friend in the neighborhood was of mixed racial heritage (her mother was white, her dad black). My mother made a politely disparaging remark about interracial marriage. I didn't have a hissy, I just said, "Oh Mama, you better be careful saying things like that. Remember what happened to Miriam when she mocked Moses' wife." When they asked what in the Sam Hill I was talking about, I pulled out my trusted old Amplified Bible and pointed them to the passage relating how when Miriam dissed her brother Moses' wife because she was a Cushite/Ethiopian (read: black), God turned her into a leper (read: snow white) until she repented and was restored. Whoa! they said. I never heard them express such a sentiment again.

THAT's the way to talk to people of faith. Not "politics" as much as "Bible." Next time some Bible-believer tells you that God hates gays and abortion, ask them to show you where it is in the Bible. I guarantee you, they'll only be able to show you scriptures like "I knew you before you were in the womb," in other words, stuff that has been INTERPRETED to mean what somebody wants it to say. Then remark, "I thought you believed the Bible literally." When they assure you that they do, ask why, if God hates abortion and gays, He didn't just say so.

He certainly had enough room (it's a big book) and enough messengers to pass it on, didn't He?


Just heard on the radio that 14 U.S. troops have been killed in the past two days in heavy street fighting in Falluja.

Sami al-Jumaili, a doctor at the hospital who escaped arrest when it was taken by US troops, said the city was running out of medical supplies and only a few clinics remained open.

"There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded," he told Reuters. "There are scores of injured civilians in their homes whom we can't move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands."

Iraq's US-backed interim government sees Falluja and its sister city, Ramadi, as insurgent strongholds that must be retaken in order for nationwide elections to go ahead in January. The US says 1,000 to 6,000 militants - some followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and some loyal to Saddam Hussein - are based in Falluja.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said victory in Falluja would not end the insurgency. "These folks are determined. These are killers. They chop people's heads," Mr Rumsfeld said.
[emphasis mine]

I wonder how that doctor would respond to Rummy's remarks. WE'RE not killers because we don't chop off people's heads, we only decimate the population and raze their cities and towns when we invade a country that doesn't threaten us. We're the good guys, see? Tell that to that 13-year-old child's mom and dad.

Let's see, 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead so far. Maybe if we cut off a few heads THAT would prove we're killers and stop the insurgency. Look for Rummy's next "think piece" memo to raise the issue. They got away with Abu Ghraib, didn't they? What's to stop them now?

Monday, November 8


What is it about Andrew Sullivan? He's given up on Bush at least a dozen times by my count, but he still keeps hoping:

We have all learned that this president's biggest mistakes have occurred when he was convinced he was invincible. Success in Afghanistan led him to construct a war-plan for Iraq that was far too optimistic. Success in the initial phases of the Iraq war led him to the "Mission Accomplished" embarrassment. A clear victory in this election - but no landslide - has now apparently led him to contemplate Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. And we're also told by Karl Rove that "if we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal, and the ideal is that marriage ought to be, and should be, a union of a man and a woman." By inference, the hopes of gay couples to belong to their own family and society are somehow non-existent; and the commitment of one gay person to another is somehow "indecent." On "Meet The Press," Rove also argued that even civil unions backed by "a few local elected officials" should be banned. Bill Bennett must be thrilled. I had hoped that this president might use his victory to unite. But he is dividing more aggressively than ever. [emphasis mine]

What on earth in Bush's past or current life and rhetoric would lead Andy to believe that Bush would try to unite the country? Bush's idea of unity is "you do what you're told and you can play with us." That's not a uniter -- that's a BULLY.


BOP News has an updated Republican Election Theft Roundup.


Talk Radio this morning is buzzing with indignation about the "S" word, as they call it (secession), following Larry O'Donnell's "meltdown" on The McLaughlin Group and Bill Maher's comments on his show ("About those Southern states we fought to keep in the Union -- after due consideration, you can leave after all"). It's so disgusting, you see, and UNPATRIOTIC, to consider leaving the U.S.A. just because of a little thing like the most important election in our modern history leaving us with a "Yellow Rogue of Texas" to ruin the nation and the world with a legacy of ignorance, sloth, greed, corruption, fear, hatred, intolerance, arrogance, division, death and destruction. Republicans would NEVER consider leaving this fair nation if a Democrat won, which proves once again their moral superiority to the sore-loser "elites" in the Democratic Party.

Similar sentiments from the UK:

THEY say that in life you get what you deserve. Well, today America has deservedly got a lawless cowboy to lead them further into carnage and isolation and the unreserved contempt of most of the rest of the world.

This once-great country has pulled up its drawbridge for another four years and stuck a finger up to the billions of us forced to share the same air. And in doing so, it has shown itself to be a fearful, backward-looking and very small nation.

This should have been the day when Americans finally answered their critics by raising their eyes from their own sidewalks and looking outward towards the rest of humanity.

And for a few hours early yesterday, when the exit polls predicted a John Kerry victory, it seemed they had.

But then the horrible, inevitable truth hit home. They had somehow managed to re-elect the most devious, blinkered and reckless leader ever put before them. The Yellow Rogue of Texas.

A self-serving, dim-witted, draft-dodging, gung-ho little rich boy, whose idea of courage is to yell: "I feel good," as he unleashes an awesome fury which slaughters 100,000 innocents for no other reason than greed and vanity.

A dangerous chameleon, his charming exterior provides cover for a power-crazed clique of Doctor Strangeloves whose goal is to increase America's grip on the world's economies and natural resources.

And in foolishly backing him, Americans have given the go-ahead for more unilateral pre-emptive strikes, more world instability and most probably another 9/11.

Why else do you think bin Laden was so happy to scare them to the polls, then made no attempt to scupper the outcome?

There's only one headline in town today, folks: "It Was Osama Wot Won It."

And soon he'll expect pay-back. Well, he can't allow Bush to have his folks whoopin' and a-hollerin' without his own getting a share of the fun, can he?

Heck, guys, I hope you're feeling proud today.

To the tens of millions who voted for John Kerry, my commiserations.

To the overwhelming majority of you who didn't, I simply ask: Have you learnt nothing? Do you despise your own image that much?

Do you care so little about the world beyond your shores? How could you do this to yourselves?

How appalling must one man's record at home and abroad be for you to reject him?

Kerry wasn't the best presidential candidate the Democrats have ever fielded (and he did deserve a kicking for that "reporting for doo-dee" moment), but at least he understood the complexity of the world outside America, and domestic disgraces like the 45 million of his fellow citizens without health cover.

He would have done something to make that country fairer and re-connected it with the wider world.

Instead America chose a man without morals or vision. An economic incompetent who inherited a $2billion surplus from Clinton, gave it in tax cuts to the rich and turned the US into the world's largest debtor nation.

A man who sneers at the rights of other nations. Who has withdrawn from international treaties on the environment and chemical weapons.

A man who flattens sovereign states then hands the rebuilding contracts to his own billionaire party backers.

A man who promotes trade protectionism and backs an Israeli government which continually flouts UN resolutions.

America has chosen a menacingly immature buffoon who likened the pursuit of the 9/11 terrorists to a Wild West, Wanted Dead or Alive man-hunt and, during the Afghanistan war, kept a baseball scorecard in his drawer, notching up hits when news came through of enemy deaths.

A RADICAL Christian fanatic who decided the world was made up of the forces of good and evil, who invented a war on terror, and thus as author of it, believed he had the right to set the rules of engagement.

Which translates to telling his troops to do what the hell they want to the bad guys. As he has at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and countless towns across Iraq.

You have to feel sorry for the millions of Yanks in the big cities like New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco who voted to kick him out.

These are the sophisticated side of the electorate who recognise a gibbon when they see one.

As for the ones who put him in, across the Bible Belt and the South, us outsiders can only feel pity.

Were I a Kerry voter, though, I'd feel deep anger, not only at them returning Bush to power, but for allowing the outside world to lump us all into the same category of moronic muppets.

The self-righteous, gun-totin', military lovin', sister marryin', abortion-hatin', gay-loathin', foreigner-despisin', non-passport ownin' red-necks, who believe God gave America the biggest dick in the world so it could urinate on the rest of us and make their land "free and strong".

You probably won't be surprised to learn of would-be Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn who, on Tuesday, promised to ban abortion and execute any doctors who carried them out.

He also told voters that lesbianism is so rampant in the state's schools that girls were being sent to toilets on their own. Not that any principal could be found to back him up.

These are the people who hijack the word patriot and liken compassion to child-molesting. And they are unknowingly bin Laden's chief recruiting officers.

Al-Qaeda's existence is fuelled by the outpourings of America's Christian right. Bush is its commander-in-chief. And he and bin Laden need each other to survive.

Both need to play Lex Luther to each others' Superman with their own fanatical people. Maybe that's why the mightiest military machine ever assembled has failed to catch the world's most wanted man.

Or is the reason simply that America is incompetent? That behind the bluff they are frightened and clueless, which is why they've stayed with the devil they know.

VISITORS from another planet watching this election would surely not credit the amateurism.

The queues for hours to register a tick; the 17,000 lawyers needed to ensure there was no cheating; the $1.2bn wasted by parties trying to discredit the enemy; the allegations of fraud, intimidation and dirty tricks; the exit polls which were so wildly inaccurate; an Electoral College voting system that makes the Eurovision Song Contest look like a beacon of democracy and efficiency; and the delays and the legal wrangles in announcing the victor.

Yet America would have us believe theirs is the finest democracy in the world. Well, that fine democracy has got the man it deserved. George W Bush.

But is America safer today without Kerry in charge? A man who overnight would have given back to the UN some credibility and authority. Who would have worked out the best way to undo the Iraq mess without fear of losing face.

Instead, the questions facing America today are - how many more thousands of their sons will die as Iraq descends into a new Vietnam? And how many more Vietnams are on the horizon now they have given Bush the mandate to go after Iran, Syria, North Korea or Cuba...?

Today is a sad day for the world, but it's even sadder for the millions of intelligent Americans embarrassed by a gung-ho leader and backed by a banal electorate, half of whom still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.

Yanks had the chance to show the world a better way this week, instead they made a thuggish cowboy ride off into the sunset bathed in glory.

And in doing so it brought Armageddon that little bit closer and re-christened their beloved nation The Home Of The Knave and the Land Of The Freak.

God Help America.

Sunday, November 7


From Lead Balloons, a rational essay of hope:

Democratic Advantages Coming Out of 2004

The ruins are still smoking, and I understand anyone out there who needs a few weeks, or a year, still to grieve.

But here are just a few of the tremendous advantages the Democratic party carries out of 2004:

A crippled president, and party, to run against. Even many of Bush’s own supporters admit that he is a liar. Also, the concept that he, and his party, are incompetent at running the nation (and the optional war in Iraq and the entirely separate war on terror) have taken root so deep that the GOP cannot expunge it. John Kerry’s basic passive-aggressive plan of waiting for Bush (aka President Icarus) to kill himself off did not work, but not because the plan is not sound; the plan is sound, as evidenced by his fall from 75 percent 18 months ago, to 51 percent last week. It just needs more time.

Newly established credibility on the war on terror. John Kerry's considerable legacy to the party is that he persuasively argued that the Democrats are the party that would make America safer. Yes, the GOP retains a lead on the polling on this question, but the lead is greatly diminished, and the momentum is on the Democrats’ side.

Much deeper bench. The Democrats have a host of potential presidential candidates with national campaign experience. Never mentioned elsewhere, but first among these, is Al Gore. We also have John Kerry (who has emerged from the election enhanced, not diminished, in stature), as well as Howard Dean and John Edwards. (Hillary Clinton qualifies as a candidate with national campaign experience, but I don’t think she has national appeal, and I think she is smart enough to know it.)

We also have other attractive options with no national campaign experience, such as Bill Richardson. The GOP, by contrast, has only two chief candidates, neither with national campaign experience. Bill Frist will not make it because he stole and killed cats to practice heart surgery on. Jeb Bush will not make it because his brother, who has spent the past 18 months falling from 75 percent to 51 percent, will continue his slide over the next four years.

Actual, as opposed to claimed, party of moral values. What would Jesus do? Vote Democratic, is the answer. We are the party protecting the old, the young, the out-of-work, the environment.

We represent the economic interests of the vast majority. We want to help people become wealthy; the other party only wants to help those who are already wealthy. This comes through on many fronts: we want to protect and retrain the laid-off; the Republicans don’t; we want to keep tuition down and expand college opportunity; the Republicans assume you can pay full tuition.

Party of fiscal discipline. The Republicans foolishly have abandoned this critical franchise; we own it now, both by default and because the budget was balanced on our last watch. This does not seem like much of a mistake now, because times still are not tough in the sense the 1970s were tough; but guess what? Tough times will return, and when they do, the Republicans rightly will be blamed for having caused it by their profligacy. In the end, this will prove to be by far the most important item on this list.

Bottom line: we have a lot of ammunition. We’ll be back.


In an effort at being a gracious loser:

I would like to devote this column to congratulating the winners.

First and foremost, to the giant pharmaceutical companies: Congratulations. Making Bush the top recipient of your campaign contributions, with nearly $950,000, has paid off. He most assuredly will keep those lower-priced drugs from being imported from Canada and prevent Medicare administrators from negotiating fair prices when the new seniors' drug benefit kicks in. Who cares if Americans can't afford the drugs to stay healthy? The important thing is that your profits will soar.

And so forth for Big Oil, corporate polluters, environmental despoilers and tax avoiders, America's Richest, "moral values" promoters:

We live in a country where the winning coalition is made up of crony capitalists and religious zealots - unethics in business meets the Dark Ages. Certainly, many people who voted for Bush don't fit in either of these categories, but these are the two interests that will be primarily served by his administration. What happened on Nov. 2 is much more than the Democrats losing, it's about the most dangerous and damaging elements in American society winning big. I fear for the next four years . . . and beyond.


Robert Kuttner sends a little warning Bush's way -- Exit Iraq:

President Bush should enjoy his victory celebration while he can. He will soon face the most determined antiwar movement since the 1960s.
The Iraq occupation is one of the worst American blunders ever, as countless experienced diplomats and former intelligence officials keep pointing out.

There is no political support in either party to put in the number of troops necessary to secure the place. We can't even seal Iraq's borders, let alone hunt down insurgents. Our very presence is a recruiting poster for every kind of anti-American militant.

Prominent critics of the war are counseling an early withdrawal. The Cato Institute, a prominent conservative and libertarian think tank, advocates a U.S. pullout.

Hawks insist that America, having made an epic blunder, must nonetheless stay the course, lest Bush's mistaken description of Iraq as a center of world terrorism mutate into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The hawks are right about the risks, but doves are right that the United States needs to exit.


I believe apologies are due to Laura Nyro, Mike -- "Am I Blue":

There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist? [emphasis mine]

I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?
But be fair! (A liberal whine, I know. Sorry.) Don't assert the prerogatives of victory and then claim the compensations of defeat as well. You can't oppress us and simultaneously complain that we are oppressing you.

Well of course you can do this, if you want. Who's to stop you? I just kinda wish you wouldn't. If you don't mind my asking. Thanks. Sorry.


Iraq declares martial law as 23 police killed


Lyn Nofziger, a former top Reagan aide, thinks a mandate is in the eye of the beholder:

While President Bush would like to think that the voters gave him a mandate last Tuesday to push his "compassionate conservative" agenda through Congress, the wish may well be father to the thought. The truth of the matter is that barring such virtual clean sweeps as Richard Nixon's re-election in 1972 and Ronald Reagan's in 1984, political mandates are usually in the eye of the beholder. And there is no certainty that the Republican Party will remain unified when the choice is not between Mr. Bush and a Democrat, but between accepting or rejecting his policies and proposals.
The president and his people are deluding themselves if they think his victory signified general approval of his record, even within the Republican Party. It was fear of Senator John Kerry's liberal record that brought many critical Republicans back into the Bush camp on Election Day even though they were decidedly unhappy with his record of deficit spending, his increases in the size and scope of the federal government, his lax immigration policies and his handling of postwar Iraq.


Evidence is mounting that the vote was rigged.