Tuesday, June 27


Walter Shurden's passionate speech to the Baptist Joint Committee for Relious Liberty:

They called it "German Nationalism," but it was really manic patriotism, a knee-jerk devotion to a fourth rate God, born of fear. And then many of the Christians took off and started calling themselves "German Christians." But all the pathos and the passion fell on the first rather than the second word. They were Germans who happened to be Christians rather than Christians who happened to be Germans. They proudly flung swastika across Christ's altar. Good people, Christian people, people like you are, got blinded by the darkness; they were fearful of the light. They no longer knew their real Fuehrer.

Let me be clear at the outset. I am not suggesting that we are on the lip of any kind of political totalitarianism in this country. I don't believe that.

I am suggesting, however, that there are "American Christians" for whom the adjective is more important than the noun.

I am suggesting that some Christian churches in our country have been transformed into political temples and some pastors have embraced the moniker of "patriot pastors."

I am suggesting that devoted theocrats have an eye on the machinery of national and state governments, and that they make no apology for it.

And I am suggesting that a skewed reading of our nation's history is sending forth armies of buck privates scurrying to wreck Jefferson's wall.
Let me tell you why I believe it can happen here, this idolatrous mixing of church and state.

It can happen here because "Generation Joshua" is loose in our country. Have you heard of "Generation Joshua?" It is an effort by Michael Farris, founder of Patrick Henry College, to turn Christian, home-schooled students into political foot soldiers to gain political power in order to subsume everything—entertainment, law, government, and education—under their right wing version of Christianity. Like Joshua of the Hebrew Bible, Generation Joshua's job is to possess the land, to conquer the land, or, in the words of the religious right, "to take back the land." And, according to Michael Harris, in the spring semester of 2004, Patrick Henry College had more interns in the White House than any other college in the nation.2 It can happen here because of a religious right-wing militancy.

It can happen here because by 2004 The Christian Coalition gave 42 out of 100 United States senators a rating of 100%. More than half of the senators received ratings of 83% by the militant Christian Coalition. It can happen here because sincere religious ideologues are rampant in our country, and they mean business.

The survey did not end there, however. It contained more surprises. More shocking still, only one-half of the students surveyed said that a newspaper should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.3

My friends, we are talking about my grandchildren's future here! This is America's tomorrow speaking! One third of them want the freedoms of the First Amendment curbed. And one half of them want newspapers to secure government approval for their stories!! These are astonishing and inconceivable attitudes for high school students in the United States of America. This survey is a terrible, scary phone call in the middle of the night about what has happened and what is happening in our nation. It can happen here because of ignorance of our history.

Hat tip to Dr. Bruce.


This could be huge. If DeLay's name remains on the ballot for his Sugarland congressional seat, it could be a boon to Dem Nick Lampson.

A federal judge hearing a ballot dispute Monday involving former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay said he thinks that DeLay withdrew from the November election, indicating potential trouble for Republicans who want to name a replacement candidate.

"He is not going to participate in the election and he withdrew," said U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, who did not issue an official ruling after a daylong trial regarding DeLay's status as the GOP nominee for the 22nd Congressional District.

I never expected the Democrats to prevail in this, and they still might not. But the judge's statements give me a modicum of hope. Republican voters wanted Tom DeLay despite his "legal troubles," they gave him the primary win, and they ought to be stuck with him.



Richard Cohen is right on today:

Does it matter? Yes, it does. It matters because the Bush administration has already lost almost all credibility when it comes to terrorism. It said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there were none. It said al-Qaeda and Iraq were in cahoots and that was not the case. It has so exaggerated its domestic success in arresting or convicting terrorists that it simply cannot be believed on that score. About a year ago, for instance, President Bush (with Gonzales at his side) asserted that "federal terrorism investigations have resulted in charges against more than 400 suspects, and more than half of those charged have been convicted." The Post looked into that and found that the total number of (broadly defined) "terrorism" convictions was 39.

This compulsion to exaggerate and lie is so much a part of the Bush administration's DNA that it persists even though it has become counterproductive. For instance, the arrest of the seven suspects in Miami essentially coincided with the revelation by the New York Times that the government has "gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans." Almost instantly, the administration did two things: It confirmed the story and complained about it. The Times account only helped terrorists, Cheney said.

Is he right? I wonder. This is a serious matter. After all, Americans are being asked to surrender a measure of privacy and civil liberties in the fight against terrorism -- essentially the argument Cheney has been making. I for one am willing to make some compromises, but I feel downright foolish doing so if the fruit of the enterprise turns out to be seven hapless idiots who would blow up the Sears Tower, if only they could get to Chicago.

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(Greetings from soggy Charlotte, NC.)

What with all the pseudo-patriotic rhetoric and political posturing abounding around Congress and dominating the media the past few weeks it's no wonder the voters are confused. Rove's flag-waving and Zarqawi's death have had some effect.

After reaching a historic low of 33 percent last month, Bush's job approval rating increased five percentage points, buoyed by more favorable views of the way he was handling the situation in Iraq. Currently, 37 percent of the country approves of the job the president is doing in Iraq, up five points from its historic low in May.

But other key measures remained unchanged or down slightly from last month. The percentage of Americans who support Bush's handling of the campaign against terrorism dipped two points, to 51 percent. And 38 percent support the way he is dealing with the economy, unchanged from May.

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Sunday, June 25


Jonathan Alter is right. The way to defeat the Republican anti-"cut and run" strategy is to hang it around their necks. As John Edwards said earlier this week, the Rethugs are better at sloganeering than governing and conducting the war. Instead of dodging the Iraq war question, Dems should be hitting back at Republicans, who have now gone on record as backing Bush to the hilt. "Copy and paste," "rinse, lather and repeat" should be cited ad nauseum until the media catches on to them like the "cut and run" meme. We don't NEED a "plan" for winning a war we should never have fought. We need to hold the president, his administration, and his Republican Congress accountable for the war. They have no other issue. There's no percentage in Democratic leaders talking about the minimum wage, loss of civil liberties, New Orleans/Katrina, the economy or any other of the myriad domestic issues where the voting public already sides with us. We have to talk about the war incessantly, the costs in lives, treasure and international prestige. We have to remind the American people that George W. Bush gave up 2,500+ American lives and hundreds of billions of our taxpayer dollars to give the Iraqis a government that will offer amnesty to insurgents who have killed American G.I.'s.

These are the stakes: if Rove can successfully con Democrats into ignoring Iraq and reciting their laundry list of other priorities, Republicans win. It's shameful that the minimum wage hasn't been raised in nine years and that thousands of ailing Americans will ultimately die because of Bush's position on stem-cell research. But those issues won't get the Congress back for Democrats. Iraq can.

You would think it would be the GOP running away from the war. Instead, in gamblers' parlance, Republicans "doubled down" on Iraq. After the good news about Zarqawi's death, they bet that by uniting behind Bush, they would shift the blame to the squabbling Democrats, even though the Democrats have no power at all to change—or even affect—policy on the ground. Rove's notion is that strong and wrong beats meek and weak.
Of course parrying "cut and run" with "Levin-Reed" won't suffice. But Sen. Joe Biden's riposte to the GOP's symbolic roll-call votes—"The Republicans are now totally united in a failed policy"—is a start. This isn't rocket science. Unless things improve dramatically on the ground in Iraq, Democrats have a powerful argument: If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic.

Isn't that irresponsible? Not in the slightest. It's only under Bush that criticizing the conduct of a war has been depicted as somehow unpatriotic. Lincoln was lambasted by opponents during the Civil War as was FDR during World War II. To take a lesser example, some of the same Sean Hannitys of the world who slam antiwar critics were blasting Bill Clinton's Bosnia policy in 1999 when U.S. planes were in the air over Belgrade.

We'll see this summer if Democrats begin to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and say, "This isn't about us. It's about them." We'll see if, when Karl Rove wants to talk about Iraq, the Democrats respond with three familiar words: "Bring it on."


So Fox is readying a Daily Show ripoff? Starring Laura Ingraham?

I'm not surprised she would tackle this. Laura, whom I listen to fairly often on her radio talk show, thinks she is just hilarious. A staple of her show is her laughing uproariously at her takes on such subjects as Ted Kennedy's weight, Helen Thomas' nose, liberals' names and and speech patterns. And oh my God! She's so funny when she gets critical of Madeline Albright's choice of dress! And her sound effects -- the flushing toilet, the cock crowing -- are SO brilliantly original. Sure Laura should take on Jon Stewart and his staff of first-rate comedy writers! It's a sure-fire winner. Who could doubt it?


Powerful. Heart-breaking.

I know what Jesus WOULDN'T do. He wouldn't tell George W. Bush to invade a country that posed no threat to the U.S. and kill its innocent citizens.