Monday, December 4


Dennis Prager said he's asking all who hold office to acknowledge the centrality of The Bible to American history, its "irreplaceable value." Tucker is obviously perplexed. What is Prager asking, that Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat and Congressman-elect (the first Muslim ever to be so elected in the U.S.) who has voiced his intention to bring a Koran with him (not The Bible) to his swearing-in, not to be allowed to take his office? How does that differ from a "religious test" for office, which is forbidden by the Constitution? Prager responds, oh no! He's just saying that Ellison should be "pressured" to acknowledge the Bible as the foundation for American values by bringing a Bible as well as a Koran to his symbolic photo-op after taking his oath of office.

I listened to Prager's radio show this afternoon on my way to a meeting. The last thing I heard him say was, you tell me, doesn't this outrage you? I also heard wingnut Mike Gallagher this morning pick up on the same issue. He, too, was frothing at the mouth at the audacity of an American duly elected by his district to represent them in the House of Representatives, exercising his Constitutionally guaranteed right of religious freedom.

I was astonished at Prager's argument that even a practicing Jew, Hindu or atheist (to cite some of his examples) should be compelled to honor The Bible in their swearing-in. That strikes me as the most base of hypocrisies. The freedom to express our religious faith, or lack of it, was at the heart of the motivations for many of those who first established our nation. The very suggestion that a person should be compelled to publicly acknowledge the supremacy of a single religious document, though the one that above all else I personally revere, that they do not personally adhere to, is an abomination to us as Americans. And personally, as a Christian, it has been my lifelong challenge (though in fantasy) to imagine, would I have the courage to refuse any attempts, even unto death, to compel me to deny my Lord and my faith? I pray that I would not.

And I pray that I would not be party to any similar effort to compel someone of another religion to do so. It's distincly unAmerican and much more of a threat, as Prager characterized Ellison's intentions, to American tradition.

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Tom Brokaw is saying on the Hardball College Tourthat the most successful presidential candidate in '08 will be the one who is perceived as "a uniter, not a divider." He sees contemporary America as exhausted with the divisive politics of the past -- oh, since he didn't specify the period, I'm going to say dozen years, since the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, which puts the responsibility for that divisiveness squarely in the laps of the Republicans.

Hannity and his ilk are rejecting the "play it nice," bipartisan overtures that have been made by Democrats and some few (VERY few) Republicans since the mid-term elections. I agree with Brokaw this far -- these guys are making a big mistake. O'Reilly and Limbaugh are losing audience share. And Republicans of the current "do-nothing Congress" who are shrugging off their responsibilities and leaving, for instance, 9 of 11 key spending bills to the work of the next Congress, will pay at the ballot box for their fecklessness.

I talk to lots of Republicans (more than Democrats), and my sense is that they're simply tired of the divisive rhetoric, they're tired of the influence of the religious right, they're tired of watching their middle-class lifestyles disintegrate while their bosses take home $20 million bonuses. But most of all, they're too tired for anger, the kind of anger that the wingnuts have profited from in the past: against gays, pro-choicers, anti-war folks. Despite the agitation of the Rush Limbaughs, most Americans just don't feel a great personal threat from them after all, and they'd prefer to husband their anger for more important issues that they feel DO personally affect their lives.

Wow! Brokaw just admitted to being a huge fan of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and said there are more facts and more truths in the first six minutes of either show than appear in most political press conferences.

And that's a truth and a fact right there.

Sunday, December 3


Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote in this post that Bush would give Louisiana a "10% levee." A week or so later, I wrote that Bush's failures included "What looks to be the loss of a major, and unique, American city, and a large portion of the gulf coast." When I said something to the same effect to friends or family, I was usually assured that "no way is New Orleans not going to come back." It would be unthinkable, most people said.

I'm horrified now by the story that insurers have informed Louisiana officials that they are pulling out. And why? "They cited the state of the rebuilding of our levee system as the primary reason for their decision," Donelon said.

At such a time, it's stomach-churning to hear the "shower of babble" from Newt Gingrich, who thinks that we need to rethink freedom of speech to protect us from terrorists, lest we "actually lose a city." We've lost one, Mister. Or hadn't you noticed?

First Draft, which has had some of the best blogging on the Gulf Coast and the results of Katrina, has much more. This is a crisis of the first order, and it needn't have been. And if you think it's not going to affect you, think again.

George W. Bush, the gift that just keeps on giving. Merry Christmas, Louisiana.

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I was impressed with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on This Week this morning, so I went back and read his statement announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president.

There are a number of Democrats who I think would make a fine president -- Al Gore, John Edwards, Wes Clark, Tom Vilsack. I hope the nod won't go to Hillary Clinton (I can't forgive or forget her position on the Iraq war), Evan Bayh, Joe Biden (those two I'm pretty cynical about; their votes on the bankruptcy bill disqualifies them for me) or John Kerry (too bad, but he's unelectable).

UPDATE: David Sirota pretty well covers the reasons I didn't include Obama on my list.

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The Sage kept mum during the Sunday morning news shows and then remarked,
"Let's see if I can make sense out of all this talk we've been hearing.

"If everybody agrees that there's no military solution in Iraq, then let's pull out the military.

"If everybody agrees the situation requires a political solution, then let's send them some of our best politicians ... like Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, George Allen, Joe Lieberman, and all of the Bushes."

He's so brilliant.


My head is spinning from listening to the double-talk of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on Meet The Press. Timmeh himself looks exhausted. Shorter version: The president is going to listen to all inputs, the Baker-Hamilton report, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, his military experts, and then decide to stay in Iraq, where we will bring together moderate Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds into a brilliant unity government and then bring all those who operate outside the law to justice.

Frank Rich has it right. Not only the president but his die-hard supporters sound as if they're "completely untethered from reality."

I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his “Bushisms” or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don’t. But I have believed he is a cynic — that he could always distinguish between truth and fiction even as he and Karl Rove sold us their fictions. That’s why, when the president said that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq before the midterms, I just figured it was more of the same: another expedient lie to further his partisan political ends.

But that election has come and gone, and Mr. Bush is more isolated from the real world than ever. That’s scary. Neither he nor his party has anything to gain politically by pretending that Iraq is not in crisis. Yet Mr. Bush clings to his delusions with a near-rage — watch him seethe in his press conference with Mr. Maliki — that can’t be explained away by sheer stubbornness or misguided principles or a pat psychological theory. Whatever the reason, he is slipping into the same zone as Woodrow Wilson did when refusing to face the rejection of the League of Nations, as a sleepless L.B.J. did when micromanaging bombing missions in Vietnam, as Ronald Reagan did when checking out during Iran-Contra.

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