Friday, March 30, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: Corporatocracy, Cultural Entropy, Economic Populism, Federal Prosecutor Purge, Paul Krugman
There's a very clever graphic on the cover of The Huffington Post this morning. A Warholesque pattern of 122 images of ex-Gonazales aide Kyle Sampson. One for every memory lapse he reported on the Senate floor yesterday. "I don't remember." Get used to that phrase. We'll be hearing it a lot in the coming weeks and months.
Reagan did it with an actor's flair, but it was Reagan who ushered in this age of executive exceptionalism. "I cannot recall," he said over and over in his Iran-Contra testimony. And with that endearing little nod, that seemed to say, "Why I am just a simple man. A man of the people, baffled by these dark political machinations."
I remember my grandfather cluck, cluck, clucking in disgust. "If he were the CEO of a company," he'd say, "You know how long he'd be tellin' that story? About as long as it took him to grab his things and walk to the front gate." But my grandfather was one of those men in "gray flannel" Paul Krugman writes about. He was the product of that bygone era, when the buck actually stopped somewhere.
This is Reagan's legacy. An era of unaccountability for those who achieve the requisite wealth and influence. A time when men of small skill, but excellent breeding, fail ever upwards and descend, when they do, on golden parachutes. An era when only the little people experience the consequences, not only of their personal failings, but of the colossal failings of their "betters." When average workers of a company like Enron lose their livelihoods, their savings, their homes. But can only stare in rapt amazement as the wheels of justice grind slowly on, bringing few prosecutions and vacating that of a dead architect of corporate failure.
There is no "pound 'em in the ass prison" for even token prosecutions like Scooter Libby. That nice white boy shouldn't see the inside of a jail cell says even his jury. He didn't mean any harm. He was just so forgetful.
Thursday, March 29, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: DC Press Corps, Karl Rove
The token Negro in the background is what really makes it.
Update: Well this has been getting endless, excruciating play all day. Getting thumbs down, mostly. But Paul Slansky on The Huffington Post really nails it.
Where to begin? The repetitive joking about tearing off the heads of small animals by the chief advisor to the man who passed his childhood days blowing up frogs with firecrackers? The repulsive "comedian" making between-the-lines allusions to child molestation? The alleged journalist David Gregory crawling so far up Karl Rove's ass that you can see his head coming out of Rove's mouth?
Pooh-pooh the Bush/Hitler comparisons all you want, but this hideous display of otherworldly shamelessness on the part of EVERYONE ON THE STAGE AND EVERYONE WHO LAUGHED OR APPLAUDED evokes nothing so much as those home movies of Hitler, Goering and pals partying while millions were being annihilated. This clip will be referenced by future historians as a key moment in the ongoing progression of America's forfeiting all claims of moral superiority over any other nation.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (6) Labels: Blogosphere
-- Jane Wagner/Lily Tomlin
Well, this period of unbridled ugliness in the blogosphere continues with no relief in sight. I have now seen behavior I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams; repeated attacks on Maryscott O'Connor for her reaction to BeagleandTabby's publicly posted suicide note. Never mind that her quick action and community outreach resulted in his rescue by police. Never mind that she was in shock and grief upon learning from his delayed posting that her friend was probably already gone. Nope. Whatever she did... not good enough.
So the armchair quarterbacks at Daily Kos, where she posted his, thankfully premature, memoriam, attacked her for being too quick to assume him dead, for making his private life public, on and on and on... Don't bother to look for that diary. It was removed so the vicious comments would not be an assault on BeagleandTabby's senses when he returns. The sniping has been significant enough that Steven D. felt it necessary to publicly defend her here and here.
Worse still, someone ironically nicknamed cronesense, had the audacity to accuse Maryscott of inventing this incident of whole cloth to get attention, based on nothing but some fucked up time stamps. Time stamps. Work on a computer much? Jesus Christ.
You know when I first started reading liberal blogs and message boards, I was admittedly stunned at some of the behavior; the censorship of ideas, autocratic management styles, abusiveness, aggressive thought policing, etc., etc., etc. Several times I showed my husband threads that had left me feeling gobsmacked for one reason or another. He would blink a few times in astonishment and say, "These are liberal sites?" But ultimately I came to the conclusion that, well, people are people wherever you go. A good bit of the drama in the left wing blogosphere owes to the foibles of human nature and is as good an argument for our complex system of checks and balances as anything. We are a nation of laws, not men, for good reason.
Readers of this site are, by now, aware that I write almost as much about the internal dynamics of the blogosphere as the political arena. The metaphors are there. I have to use them. Sure Ann Coulter's narcissism and inability to admit her flawed logic is fascinating, but so is Armando's. Sure Bush's tyrannical style and simple-mindedness is disturbing, but so is Kos's. I could go on, but I already have at length.
But what I've seen over the last several days -- and my reading has necessarily only skimmed the surface -- defies any categorization I can think of. Mind-blowingly nasty stuff.
And finally I must publicly apologize -- and I am doing this through gritted teeth -- to the Blogging Curmudgeon. He is a free agent and he is entitled to go off half-cocked if he wants. It has nothing to do with me. Or shouldn't. I was wrong to blame him, even in part, for the dust up with Marisacat. The fault was hers and hers alone. Not because she conflated the two of us -- such confusion is inevitable -- but because when she was apprised of the truth she continued her vain assault on my character. I find it rather telling that she continues to disparage me for not paying her proper homage by linking to pages in her blog I did not have enough interest in to read, in the first place. (I trust my readers to follow further links and use the google according to their own interest level.) Yet she did not see fit to READ the blog she was defaming. A quick glance at the prominently placed bio would have informed her that the Blogging Curmudgeon had left the building. Pot calling the kettle what now? Blog etiquette, indeed.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Alberto Gonzales, Federal Prosecutor Purge, Orwellian, Stephen Colbert
Alberto Gonzales's Wag the Children tour is getting off to a rocky start. The press seems to be having a little trouble getting into the spirit of things. They just keep prodding and pestering him over this trifling federal prosecutor scandal. Today the fearless protector of our little ones was actually driven from the podium with the carping of Chicago reporters. Can't they read? "Protect Safe Childhood!!!" Can't miss it. It's on a great big, Orwellian backdrop that was paid for with our tax dollars. Doesn't say "Prosecutorgate" over and over in big block letters, now does it? These reporters seem to have forgotten how these things work. Let's review:
Make, announce, type. Put them through a spell check and go home.
-- Stephen Colbert
Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (6) Labels: Blogosphere, Music
For those who do not know it, a regular of My Left Wing, and Maryscott's friend, BeagleandTabby, attempted suicide this morning. Maryscott found a suicide note posted as a diary on MLW. Thanks in part to her quick action, the police were able to get to him in time, and he is now in the hospital.
This has been a sad day and a rather profound climax to an ugly period in the blogosphere.
My thoughts and prayers go out to BeagleandTabby. And to his friends and family.
I don't know what prompted me to look for this video this morning, but now it feels appropriate, somehow. I think of Joni Mitchell, as Ginsburg did of Whitman, as my "courage-teacher." This is in my opinion a breathtaking cover of one of the greatest songs ever written.
Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: Blogosphere
I only just got around to reading through Scribe's excellent post on the troubled dynamics of the blogosphere. I don't know that I accept all of her conclusions but, still, very insightful. If this bit doesn't sum up what's been rippling through the ether the last several days, I don't know what does.
Ok. So one way or another, we find ourselves in these groups that feel and seem to be falling apart at the freaking seams. all around our ears. Some of us panic, not wanting to lose whatever measure of belonging we had found..and attack the hell out of any visible outsiders that might be "causing" this fracturing. Or we may turn on each other. Or we may decide to walk away altogether. All of these are understandable human behaviors given wherever we each are at in our own lives.
But sometimes, this dynamic seems to escalate and takes on a life of it's own. It begins to spread, like a virus, from place to place. Once it gets inside of us, we can end up carry it like any contagious viri, wherever else we go outside our own "group"..and infect others along the way. Until it can reach an epidemic stage.
I didn't delve too deeply into this latest multi-site dust-up. In part because I have been heavily involved in some other writing projects. In part because the little bit I looked at turned my stomach in a way that I haven't experienced in this arena too often... if ever. Still, I made the mistake of sticking in a toe and got sucked inexorably into depths of goo. Oh well. Live and learn.
I may need to take a little break. I can't say right now whether it will be hours, days, or weeks. It depends on just how many ceremonial cleansing baths it takes for me to feel clean again.
Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (5) Labels: Blogosphere, Blogroll Amnesty
Oh well. I've never had anything against Marisat; kind of liked her edgy, angry self. Admired her writing tremendously. But her incivility towards me, personally, in this latest merry mix-up is pretty unforgivable.
Oh and BC, if you're still lurking -- and I know that you are because I do track my stats -- any more of my bridges you wanna burn? I don't think you've done quite enough damage yet. Deleting all my writing... I'm over it. I had back-ups. But really. Any more trouble you'd like to make for me with your big, self-righteous mouth? Maybe, and I'm going to suggest this ever so gently, you're not in the best possible position to be taking everyone else's inventory. Give it a little thought, then don't get back to me.
Sunday, March 25, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (5) Labels: Blogosphere
Ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long.
Like me he is a Ministry fan from way back. And sometimes, when the meta gets just so thick, there's nothing else you can say.
For the past two days, I have been perusing my usual cyber haunts and have been wading through the worst kind of blog-o-sludge. Don't get me wrong. I love a good meta discussion. But this is bad meta. Not the kind that illuminates and lends itself to any deeper understanding of human dynamics and political metaphors. This is the kind of meta that just looks like someone forgot to separate their Siamese bettas after mating.
Here are a few links. It's not a comprehensive list and some of it is just commentary on the blood letting. Read at your own risk. Then listen to some Ministry.
Saturday, March 24, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (2) Labels: Chicken-Hawks, George W. Bush, Iraq, Military, Troops
Regarding active duty troopsIt is DoD policy that:And regarding retired vets:
3.1. The wearing of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces (including retired members and members of Reserve components) is prohibited under any of the following circumstances:
3.1.1. At any meeting or demonstration that is a function of, or sponsored by an organization, association, movement, group, or combination of persons that the Attorney General of the United States has designated, under Executive Order 10450 as amended (reference (c)), as totalitarian, fascist, communist, or subversive, or as having adopted a policy of advocating or approving the commission of acts of force or violence to deny others their rights under the Constitution of the United States, or as seeking to alter the form of Government of the United States by unconstitutional means.
3.1.2. During or in connection with furthering political activities, private employment or commercial interests, when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.
3.1.3. Except when authorized by the approval authorities in subparagraph 4.1.1., when participating in activities such as unofficial public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, rallies or any public demonstration, which may imply Service sanction of the cause for which the demonstration or activity is conducted.3.2. Former members of the Armed Forces, unless under another provision of this Instruction or
under the terms of Section 772 of title 10, United States Code (reference (d)), who served honorably during a declared or undeclared war and whose most recent service was terminated under honorable conditions may wear the uniform in the highest grade held during such war service only on the following occasions and in the course of travel incident thereto:
3.2.1. Military funerals, memorial services, weddings, and inaugurals.
3.2.2. Parades on National or State holidays; or other parades or ceremonies of a patriotic character in which any Active or Reserve United States military unit is taking part.
3.2.3. Wearing of the uniform or any part thereof at any other time or for any other purposes is prohibited.
3.3. Medal of Honor holders may wear the uniform at their pleasure except under the circumstances set forth in paragraph 3.1., above.
There's a reason for these regulations. It's to prevent exactly what is occurring under Bush; the brown-shirting of the US Military. The troops represent all of us, regardless of party affiliation or political viewpoint. They have no business being associated with Republicans, Democrats or any other party. Bush and his stage manager Rove have done everything in their power to cement the image of Bush Republicans as the embodiment of military authority. Bush has become nothing but a tin-horn dictator. You'd think they'd instigated a military coup, instead of an electoral one. Think of it. An administration of chicken-hawks with the audacity to do what Eisenhower, a former 5 star general, never did.
If he wanted to wear a uniform and hang out with the troops so damn much, why the hell didn't he do it in Vietnam when it mattered?
Friday, March 23, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Alberto Gonzales, Federal Prosecutor Purge
The only questions he answered from reporters there, however, showed he hadn't escaped the scandal that has engulfed the capital for weeks _ and led to growing calls for his ouster.
"I'm not going to resign," he said. "I'm going to stay focused on protecting our kids."
Nixon dodged a slush fund scandal and rescued his political career by talking about his dog. Alberto Gonzales hides behind our children, as new details emerge daily about his role in the political, and possibly illegal, ouster of federal prosecutors. Which is more venal? Well, like most things to do with the Bush Administration, I have to give the nod to Gonzales. Yes, the burgeoning corruption of Bushco actually makes me long for the halcyon days of Nixon. Even at the height of Watergate, it was a simpler, more honest time.
Where Nixon relied on a shameless, pull on your heart strings, Norman Rockwellesque picture of a family and their cuddly pup, you can always count on any member of Bushco to go straight for fear. You need me or your children are going to be molested... possibly murdered.
The embattled attorney general is reaching beyond Washington over the next week to try to soothe his remaining prosecutors and show the public he's still working hard to curb crime. He'll also talk with local media in dozens of cities Friday about keeping kids safe from sexual predators.
Stay tuned, folks. Alberto Gonzales may be bringing his "Wag the Children" extravaganza to a city near you.
Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (5) Labels: Blogosphere, Blogroll Amnesty
Skippy has has done a couple of great pieces on how the the great blogroll purge has implications beyond the drop in immediate click-through for those of us with "lesser" blogs. Google site rankings are, of course, based in part on link popularity. So a healthy blogroll is a big part of keeping the greater left wing blogosphere visible to surfers in oh so many ways.
If you've you linked to me, and I haven't linked you back, it's because I don't know about it. Feel free to give me a nudge.
Addendum: And another. Thanks for the link Wilkins Times.
Sunday, March 18, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: Anorexia, Health, Nicole Richie, Nutrition, Paris Hilton
You have to hand it to E! There's a subtle genius to hiring a celebrity who's admitted to suffering from an eating problem to counsel people at a weight loss camp -- one who was hospitalized two weeks ago because she forgot that she's supposed to drink things.
Maybe they can call it Camp Ana. The cadaverous Richie can inspire them all with her tales of how she's been forcing herself to eat high calorie foods so that someday she'll actually cast a shadow. I know how much chunky girls love to hear thin people talk about how they just can't gain weight.
Posted by Curmudgette Labels: Bill Maher, Civil Liberties, Cultural Entropy, Dystopia, Orwellian
I was pondering just yesterday the plight of Mr. Buttle. How many of us are going to end up just like him; tortured to death because of a typo? See I can never decide what's worse. The loss of our civil liberties or the mind numbing incompetence of the people in whom our precarious freedoms are entrusted.
Here's what brought this to mind. Yesterday my internet service was out for most of the day. In my frustration, I called Verizon, who owns all the pipe around here, and keeps it functioning about as well as the duct-work in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil." But when I called them, a customer service rep (the lot of them are the bane of my existence) told me that he could not tell me anything, because when I told him the name on the account, he insisted that I was wrong. I explained, "A bill manages to find its way here every month and we pay it." This confused him terribly. I asked him if the name on the account was the one for which we receive a myriad of calls; the previous owners of our dialing digits... yes. Well that explains why we're getting so many wrong numbers six months later. So I was gaffed off because of a data entry error by the same company that left us without phone service for a month when they botched our order. I loathe Verizon.
I was inconvenienced yesterday because of bureaucratic ineptitude. But it will not be an inconvenience if I am, or someone like me is, secreted away to Egypt in a rendition program, because of typos, or any of the growing number of snafus that plague Americans daily.
This morning I learn from the Washington Post that the FBI has been abusing the Fourth Amendment even more heinously than previously known, in spite of growing concern from its own attorneys.
Under pressure to provide a stronger legal footing, counterterrorism agents last year wrote new letters to phone companies demanding the information the bureau already possessed. At least one senior FBI headquarters official -- whom the bureau declined to name -- signed these "national security letters" without including the required proof that the letters were linked to FBI counterterrorism or espionage investigations, an FBI official said.
The flawed procedures involved the use of emergency demands for records, called "exigent circumstance" letters, which contained false or undocumented claims. They also included national security letters that were issued without FBI rules being followed. Both types of request were served on three phone companies. . . .
A March 9 report by Fine bluntly stated that the FBI's use of the exigency letters "circumvented" the law that governs the FBI's access to personal information about U.S. residents.
The exigency letters, created by the FBI's New York office after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, told telephone providers that the FBI needed information immediately and would follow up with subpoenas later. There is no basis in the law to compel phone companies to turn over information using such letters, Fine found, and in many cases, agents never followed up with the promised subpoenas, he said.
But Fine's report made no mention of the FBI's subsequent efforts to legitimize those actions with improperly prepared national security letters last year.
But whose phone records is the FBI illegally obtaining? Mine or the previous owner of my phone number... Mr. Buttle's or Mr. Tuttle's?
I leave you with the latest from Bill Maher:
And finally, new rule: liberals must stop saying President Bush hasn't asked Americans to sacrifice for the War on Terror. On the contrary, he's asked us to sacrifice something enormous: our civil rights.
My good friend Renee has done the leg work and provides a full transcript of Maher's remarks here.
Saturday, March 17, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Chicken-Hawks, Fred Thompson, Gandhi, Iraq, Military, War on Terra
As protesters rang in the fifth year of Operation Endless Bloody Occupation with demonstrations around the country, Fred Thompson lashed out at that favorite whipping-boy of all chicken-hawks: Mahatma Gandhi. To follow Gandhi's example, he admonishes anti-war activists, would cripple our foreign policy. Like Dubya who recently tried to compare his quest to that of General George Washington, he is completely misunderstanding the lessons of history. Will these angry white men never stop painting themselves and the country they've commandeered as noble underdogs? Oh the righteous anger of the enfranchised!
What the "Law & Order" star doesn't appreciate is that in any Gandhi analogy, we would be the British Empire, not India.
Here are some words of wisdom from the mediocre actor. (Yes. I'm still smarting from the loss of Steven Hill.)
The so-called peace movement certainly has the right to make Gandhi’s way their way, but their efforts to make collective suicide American foreign policy just won’t cut it in this country. When American’s think of heroism, we think of the young American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, risking their lives to prevent another Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein.
Gandhi probably wouldn't approve, but I can live with that.
What both the right-wing hawks and the left-wing peace movement don't get about Gandhi is that he was really a tactician and a master of asymmetric warfare. He knew India could never have defeated the British Empire in open combat and their violent uprisings were resulting needless deaths. Gandhi's strategy made their deaths effective. It was a strategy with two major prongs: economic (boycotts) and military (peaceful civil disobedience). Passive resistance leveraged the morality of the British occupiers. You can only slaughter so many peaceful, unarmed people before your stomach starts to turn from the shame of it.
Thompson also misrepresents Gandhi's role in WWII. While it is true that Gandhi recommended to the British:
I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions.... If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.
He was also a pragmatist:
At every meeting I repeated the warning that unless they felt that in non-violence they had come into possession of a force infinitely superior to the one they had and in the use of which they were adept, they should have nothing to do with non-violence and resume the arms they possessed before. It must never be said of the Khudai Khidmatgars that once so brave, they had become or been made cowards under Badshah Khan's influence. Their bravery consisted not in being good marksmen but in defying death and being ever ready to bare their breasts to the bullets. [emphasis added]
Lest we forget that Gandhi, ever the politician and tactician, was using his possible support of the British as a bargaining chip, twisting the arms of his nation's occupiers.
After lengthy deliberations, Gandhi declared that India could not be party to a war ostensibly being fought for democratic freedom, while that freedom was denied in India herself. As the war progressed, Gandhi increased his demands for independence, drafting a resolution calling for the British to Quit India. This was Gandhi's and the Congress Party's most definitive revolt aimed at securing the British exit from Indian shores.
Fred Thompson should worry less about Code Pink's identification with Gandhi. What should concern the war party would be the possibility that a leader of Gandhi's stature and tactical acumen could emerge in Iraq.
Friday, March 16, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (3) Labels: Kennedy Family, Marilyn
I became all but completely convinced that the Kennedys were involved in Marilyn's death -- and may have even murdered her -- after reading the definitive Marilyn bio Goddess. From the review posted by Amazon.com:
Of the new material presented, the most provocative is Summers's assertion that Monroe's corpse was first discovered by Robert Kennedy and Peter Lawford. The reason for the confusion of facts about her death, says Summers, is that a coverup was conducted to hide Monroe's sexual involvement with both John and Robert Kennedy.
Now we learn that an FBI document implicates both Lawford and RFK in a conspiracy to get rid of the troublesome starlet.
Critically, [the report] raises an alleged conspiracy, apparently overseen by Lawford, for Monroe to unwittingly commit suicide with the drug Seconal, a barbiturate used to treat insomnia and relieve anxiety. The document gives no precise reason why she would be killed but hints it may be linked to her threats to make public her affair with Kennedy, as other conspiracy theories have previously claimed. It states in part: "Peter Lawford, [censored words blacked out] knew from Marilyn's friends that she often made suicide attempts and that she was inclined to fake a suicide attempt in order to arouse sympathy.
"Lawford is reported as having made 'special arrangements' with Marilyn's psychiatrist, Dr Ralph Greenson, from Beverley Hills. The psychiatrist was treating Marilyn for emotional problems and getting her off the use of barbiturates. On her last visit to him he prescribed Seconal tablets and gave her a prescription for 60 of them, which was unusual in quantity especially since he saw her frequently. On the date of her death … her housekeeper put the bottle of pills on the night table. It is reported that the housekeeper and Marilyn's personal secretary and press agent, Pat Newcomb, were co-operating in the plan to induce suicide."
It goes on to say that on the same day, Kennedy had booked out of the Beverley Hills Hotel and flown to San Francisco where he booked into the St Charles Hotel, owned by a friend. "Robert Kennedy made a telephone call from St Charles Hotel, San Francisco, to Peter Lawford to find out if Marilyn was dead yet."
Lawford called and spoke to Monroe "then checked again later to make sure she did not answer". The document claims the housekeeper, Eunice Murray, who had been hired by the actress on the advice of Dr Greenson, then called the psychiatrist.
"Marilyn expected to have her stomach pumped out and get sympathy for her suicide attempt. The psychiatrist left word for Marilyn to take a drive in the fresh air but did not come to see her until after she was known to be dead."
Add that to the giant pile of skeletons tumbling out of the closet this week.
Note: Goddess appears to be out of print, but some used copies are available through the bookstore.
Thursday, March 15, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: 2008, Feminism, Gay/Lesbian, Hillary Clinton
Who replaced Hillary Clinton with an animatronic doll? I liked the old one better. The one who was a chronic Glamour-don't, with the silly headband and doughty clothes. The one who made gaffes about not being Tammy Wynette. She was a real person. I could relate to her. Can we have her back, like in the execrable remake of "The Stepford Wives?" I fear this is like the chilling, original film and that the human Hillary is lost to us forever.
I don't get people who think she's a feminist icon. She's amassed a lot of power, but she's become the living antithesis of feminism; cautious, people-pleasing, self-monitoring... She apparently can't state an opinion that doesn't test well in 10 focus groups. To put it bluntly, she has no courage.
This morning I learned from Chris Durang on The Huffington Post, that she weaseled out of answering yet another direct question.
In the short article -- part of a blog called "The Caucus" on the New York Times website -- Hillary Clinton is asked if she agrees with General Pace that homosexuality is immoral.
What do you think she answered? "No, I don't agree"?
No, what she answered was: "Well I'm going to leave that to others to conclude."
Thanks, Hillary! Really brave. Really forthright.
How hard would it have been for her to say: "Well, I think it is not immoral, and I know many Americans don't think it is and don't want to interfere with consensual adult behavior. But I understand other people believe other things. I hope in time that will change."
Isn't that probably what she actually thinks? Wouldn't that be taking a stand?
For Durang, who was talking straight about bisexuality long before it was cool, that's got to rankle.
Somewhere along the line, beltway Democrats seem to have decided that nothing bad can happen to them if they can make themselves completely inoffensive. And they have not yet learned that when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.
It's a formula that works least of all for Hillary. She wasn't born slick or charming and she can't pull it off without appearing terribly inauthentic. She seems so afraid of being her natural, divisive self, she's become positively insipid. She's more and more like an overly airbrushed photograph, or a plastic surgery disaster. Her entire personality has become like a face immobilized and expunged of character by too much Botox.
Worse than her coy evasions, when asked directly if she thought homosexuality was immoral, is her politically calculated clarification.
"I should have echoed my colleague Senator John Warner's statement forcefully stating that homosexuality is not immoral because that is what I believe," her statement said.
In other words if the big, strong, military, Republican man says it's ok to gay, it must be safe to have that opinion. This from someone who wants to be the first woman President?! A woman who needs a man's imprimatur to state an opinion? She might as well go back to baking cookies.
I'll just die if I don't get this recipe.
I'll just die if I don't get this recipe.
-- The Stepford Wives (1975)
Wednesday, March 14, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Federal Prosecutor Purge
Basically, she has been here six years.
I guess it would have sounded too silly even for Snow to say that the childless spinster wanted to spend more time with her family. Miers has devoted her life to her career... and to George W. Bush. So when she suddenly abandoned both, it smacked of a deeper mystery. And now it has been solved. Miers is a key figure in the firing of all those pesky, "disloyal" federal prosecutors.
Miers announced her resignation on January 4, 2007. A glance at the TPM time-line reminds us that on January 13 we learned that:
The head of the FBI's San Diego office and several former federal prosecutors are publicly questioning the politics behind the Bush administration's effort to force Carole Lam to resign as U.S. Attorney for San Diego.
It was a small but nagging point. No one resigns for no good reason.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (11) Labels: Gay/Lesbian, Homophobia, Military, Sexuality, Troops
Peter Pace says he doesn't want the military to change its policies on homosexuality because it is "immoral." He likens it to adultery, which is prohibited under the UCMJ.
"As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," Pace was quoted as saying.
But General Pace is confused. The UCMJ is not legislating morality. Its purpose is to maintain "good order and discipline." The military is extremely interdependent and if there weren't checks on things like adultery... Well, my husband phrases it as a hypothetical:
"If I sleep with my Marines' wives, my Marines are gonna shoot me in the back."
In other words you have a lot of armed people who have to be able to rely on each other in situations like the heat of battle. The rank structure can't be compromised, fraternization, and the camaraderie can't be shattered by Peyton Place-like dramas of love and deceit. People's lives depend on it.
The UCMJ is a pragmatic document and has nothing to do with any higher moral authority. And the prohibition on homosexuality is as out of date as the exclusion of blacks was once upon a time. Yes it will make some people uncomfortable for a while. They'll get over it. And the rest of the military is not nearly as backwards as General Pace.
A short while ago, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs John Shalikashvili spoke out in favor of the lifting the ban. Among his reasons, a poll that demonstrates a much higher tolerance for homosexuality than General Pace exhibits.
In explaining his shift on the issue, Shalikashvili also cited a new Zogby poll, commissioned by the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, of 545 U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It reported that three quarters said they were comfortable around gay men and lesbians.
The poll, published in December, also said 37 percent opposed allowing gays to serve openly, while 26 percent said they should be allowed and 37 percent were unsure or neutral. Of those who said they were certain that a member of their unit was gay or lesbian, two-thirds did not believe it hurt morale.
But General Pace would rather keep the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy in place. Well sure. We all know how moral hypocrisy is.
Monday, March 12, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (1) Labels: George W. Bush, Plamegate
Sayeth Frank Rich:
EVEN by Washington’s standards, few debates have been more fatuous or wasted more energy than the frenzied speculation over whether President Bush will or will not pardon Scooter Libby. Of course he will.
A president who tries to void laws he doesn’t like by encumbering them with “signing statements” and who regards the Geneva Conventions as a nonbinding technicality isn’t going to start playing by the rules now. His assertion last week that he is “pretty much going to stay out of” the Libby case is as credible as his pre-election vote of confidence in Donald Rumsfeld. The only real question about the pardon is whether Mr. Bush cares enough about his fellow Republicans’ political fortunes to delay it until after Election Day 2008.
Rich goes on to say, in the incisive prose that the New York Times has hidden behind the wall, that Libby knows too well where all the bodies are buried to be cut loose. Cheney's Cheney was there when the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) schemed to land us in the debacle that is Operation Endless Bloody Occupation.
Over at Newsweek Michael Isikoff and Richard Wolffe engage in some of that fatuous speculation.
Out of obligation and duty, Cheney is almost certain to press Bush to pardon his close friend and protégé.
But don't count on Bush to go along—at least not yet. Bush is not big on pardons. In his first six years as president, he has granted just 113, fewer than any president in the last 100 years, says Margaret Love, a former Justice Department pardon attorney. At his first press conference as president in February 2001, Bush set himself apart from Bill Clinton, who had caused a stir with several controversial pardons in his final days. When it came to granting pardons, Bush said, "I'll have the highest of high standards."
The president can pardon anyone at any time. But Bush has abided by long-standing Justice guidelines that spell out who should be eligible. Those rules say a person shouldn't even be considered for a pardon until five years after he's completed his sentence. "I know the way he's approached pardons," says Bush's former press secretary Scott McClellan. "If you boil it down, it's two things. One, that they serve their time. And two, that they express remorse for the crime." By those standards, Libby doesn't make the cut, especially if he pursues an appeal and continues to insist he did nothing wrong.
Yet, according to Isikoff and Wolffe, former White House aides expect him to pardon Libby.
What Isikoff and Wolf don't even address is that Bush has a long history as a merciless criminal justice enthusiast. As Governor of Texas he presided over a record 152 executions, including that of a mentally retarded man. Soft on crime he's not.
Fatuous debate indeed. There is no doubt that Bush will pardon Libby. The only subject for discussion is just how big a hypocrite that makes him.
Sunday, March 11, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: MySpace, Sexual Assault
If Connecticut lawmakers have their way, they're going have to start.
The bill is designed to protect underage children from online predators, Blumenthal said in a statement.
"These sites must verify ages and give parents power to keep their children off these sites," Blumenthal said. "Failing to verify ages means that children are exposed to sexual predators who may be older men lying to seem younger."
He also said he doesn't believe there are technological reasons not to do age verifications. "If we can put a man on the moon -- or invent the Internet -- we can reliably check ages," Blumenthal said.
Clearly Mr. Blumenthal hasn't met the programming wizards of MySpace. They can't program for what the site is supposed to do now. It's the Rube Goldberg machine of the web design world.
Besides. I doubt the "it" destination of social networking will be happy to just check ID. If they go that route, their gonna want to hire bouncers and have lines clear down the cyber block. There'll be guest lists, of course, and the really cute girls will be able to go right in.
Perhaps it's because I'm a parent. Perhaps it's because I'm a survivor, but I totally agree with the spirit of this legislation. What happens on MySpace and sites like it is horrifying. It's happy hunting for predators and other shapeshifters. I have to purge my inbox routinely of invites from webcam girls. So family-friendly, it's not. They should have some mechanism to filter out the creepy bar-flies. I just don't think they'll be able to pull it off.
A bill such as the one proposed in Connecticut "allows you to control the people who are willing to be controlled" but is unlikely to make much of a difference otherwise, said Pete Lindstrom, an analyst at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group. "The notion of the predator is getting lost here. Are we trying to validate the kids who are underage trying to act overage, or the overage adults trying to act like they are underage?"
In most cases, the threat to minors visiting such sites comes not from other minors but from adults, he said. And those individuals are likely able to easily circumvent any age verification process a site might impose, he said. An attacker setting up a profile as his own son for instance would easily defeat age verification checks, he said.
Saturday, March 10, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Economic Populism, Economy, Free Market Fundamentalism, Paul Krugman
I have been very much enjoying my dialog with arcturus. I remain unconvinced that Booman was trafficking in racist subtext in his unfortunate diary. But I do think his analysis was shallow and a little ignorant.
Sometime in early 1992 I was driving alone from Los Angeles to see some friends and celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I remember a particular stretch of Interstate 10 as I passed down from the mountains of Las Cruces into the river valley of El Paso. Off to my right, on the far side of the Rio Grande, stood Ciudad Juarez. It made for a sorry cityscape, with acres and acres of dilapidated housing. By contrast, El Paso was positively sparkling. I wondered to myself how two cities...two cities so far from anywhere, could be so different from each other. And it occurred to me that the answers lay in Mexico City and Washington DC...in the Constitution and rule of law on the one hand and incompetence and corruption on the other.
In our system of government nothing is more important than the separation of powers represented by the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judiciary.
If we lose those checks and balances it will only be a matter of time before we lose everything. There will be nothing to distinguish El Paso from Cuidad Juarez. Our country will lose its unique characteristics that have made it so successful.
One thing Booman ignores is that we had a system of checks and balances long before we had the wealth distribution and social safety nets that kept poverty low and maintained our infrastructure. Our Constitutional Democracy, alone, is not enough to prevent the hemorrhaging of the middle class. Booman, like myself, grew up in the era of middle class America. We missed things like the gilded age and the great depression. It's hard to imagine an America where people live in poverty of the nature we see in Mexico. But to keep that from occurring will require more than the protection... nay, restoration, of our Constitutional process.
To wit fresh Krugman; and not behind the TimesSelect wall. Alternet has published an excerpt from his keynote address conference on The Agenda for Shared Prosperity. Here are some juicy tidbits.
If you look back across the past 80 years or so of the United States, what you see is that in the 1920s, we were for practical purposes still in the gilded age. That may not be the way the historians cut it, but in terms of the actual distribution of income, so far as we can measure it in terms of the role of status and general feel of the society, we were still an extremely unequal royalist society.
By the time World War II was over, we had become the middle-class society that the baby boomers in this audience grew up in. We had become a much more equal society. That high degree of equality began to go away -- depending on exactly which numbers you look at -- during the late 70's, maybe a little earlier than that. And at this point we're basically back to pre-tax and transfer to the levels of inequality that we had in 1929.
So there is this great arc to the middle class, away from gilded age to middle-class society and then back to the new gilded age, which is now what we're living in. And there are really two puzzles about that. One of them is a political puzzle, which is why instead of leaning against these trends, politics has actually reinforced them. Why it is that U.S. politics moved left in the age of a relatively middle-class society, and moved right as society got more unequal?
The impact of left/right politics:
Okay, I think that what we can say is that the political climate matters more for the distribution of income than the economic models that we know how to work with and would seem to suggest more than our models capture. If you ask me practically what I want done now, I think that the most important agenda thing right now is, in fact, to work on the taxes and social insurance side, because that is concrete and you can get stuff.
But there is a lot of reason to believe that a change in the political climate in various ways can do a lot more than you would think just from looking at the taxes and social insurance. Let me give you two pieces of evidence that I looked at. One is that there is some really interesting, though intellectually disturbing, work by my colleague, Larry Bartell who is in the Princeton Politics Department and has just looked at what happens to income growth at different points in the income distribution under administrations of the two parties.
Now there shouldn't be a big difference really because at any given historical period, the visible policies are not all that different. Certainly there is a pretty significant shift from Clinton to Bush and there was, in fact, a pretty significant shift from Bush to Clinton previously. But it's in taxes and it really shouldn't be very obvious at pre-tax distribution of income. And yet what Bartell finds is actually there is a really striking difference. Inequality on average rises under Republicans. At least in the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution, it's stable or falling under Democrats. The top 1 percent just kept on rising right through, but there is at least a surprising, fairly robust correlation.
The other thing I would say is timing. There's a very clear co-movement over time between income inequality and both the political polarization and the rightward tilt of our politics. It's pretty clear that the rising inequality over the past 30 years has been associated with a rightward shift of the political center of gravity, mainly because of the Republican Party shifting to the right.
You might say that's the causation running from income distribution to politics. But if you actually then just start to look at it through history, the timing actually seems to be reversed. The rise of an aggressive or rightwing movement and the rise of a really major assault on the New Deal great society legacy both come before the big shift in income distribution takes place.
And then, of course, there's the union busting.
Obviously, private sector unions were very important in the U.S. 30 years ago and have very nearly -- not completely, but very nearly -- collapsed, and they are down to eight percent of private employment. Why did that happen? You will often see people saying -- well, that's because of de-industrialization, and because of the decline of manufacturing. But that is actually not right. It's not right in two ways.
First of all, arithmetically, most of the decline in unionization is a result not of the decline in manufacturing share, but of the decline of the unionization of manufacturing itself. So the big thing that happens is that there is a collapse of unionization within the manufacturing sector and then of course also a smaller share of manufacturing in the economy, but it's much more dramatic on the collapse within the sector.
The other is that there is no law that says that unionization should be a manufacturing phenomenon. What it really is, to the extent that there is a story, is that large enterprises are more likely to be to be unionized. The reason why the high tend of unionization was also a period when manufacturing was the core of the union movement, is that at that time, large enterprises were largely a manufacturing phenomenon.
Now we have a service economy in which there are a lot of large service sector enterprises. Not to put too fine a point on it, but why exactly couldn't Wal-Mart be unionized? It doesn't face international competition. There is no obvious reason why it wouldn't be possible to have a strong union in Wal-Mart and in the big box sector and other parts of the economy. And just think of how different the whole political economy would look if the service sector enterprises were unionized.
Not necessarily all the effects would be positive, but it would certainly be very, very different. What happened? Why did manufacturing unionization collapse? Why didn't the emerging service sector get unionized? And the answer is actually pretty straightforward and pretty brutal. It's politics and aggressive employer behavior enabled by politics.
I have seen estimates of a fraction of workers who voted for a union and who were fired in the early '80s. They range from a low of one in 20 to a high of one in eight. There is no question that aggressive, often illegal, union busting is the reason the union movement declined. And the change in the political climate that began in the '70s clearly played a role in making that possible.
And my personal favorite, pay disparity:
I went back and was looking at what people said about executive compensation when it was low, just 40 or 50 times the average worker salary. [Here are] some quotes: "Managerial labor contracts are not, in fact, a private matter between employers and employees." "Parties such as employees' labor unions, consumer groups, Congress and the media create forces in the political media that constrain the types of contracts." And so on down the line.
A lot of discussion was of the role of the political climate that was basically hostile to outrageous paychecks and constrained it. Where are these quotes from? They are actually from [economists] Michael Jensen and Kevin Murphy writing, saying people have complained that there are not enough incentives in executive pay. They are saying that what we really need is to have executives get more stock options and stake in the firm -- in other words, all of the stuff that has happened since then.
So back when executive pay was low, 40 or 50 times average pay, it was actually the defenders of higher executive pay that complained that it was actually non-market forces that were constraining executive pay. Now of course that disclosing of pay has happened, the same side of the debate says it's ridiculous to claim that social norms and political forces have any role in this. But I think it's actually quite clear that it did. We can argue about which is the natural market outcome. But the point is, in fact, that we had a society 25 years ago in which there were some constraints imposed by public opinion, by strong unions, by a general sense that there were things that you don't do.
And maybe that led firms to make a decision to think of there being a sort of tradeoff between a "let's have a happy high morale" workforce, or let's have a super star CEO and squeeze the workers for all we can. There were some things that tilted the balance in that decision.
As my neighbor says, "Everything's going up but wages." That's the truth of it. And this creeping rise of a new aristocracy has been happening since the 70's. It's certainly gathered a lot of steam under Bush, but much of it happened through our political process, not by the upending of it. Checks and balances have not been enough to stop the sale of our governmental process to corporate lobbyists. And they will not be enough to prevent the death of our middle class economy.
Thursday, March 08, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (10) Labels: Ann Coulter, Armando, Blogosphere, Daily Kos, John Edwards, Kos, Marilyn
But now, in keeping with the news cycle, my eyes are drawn by the glint of other shiny psychos: Ann Coulter and the artist formerly known as Armando.
I don't think I'm revealing any state secrets when I say that Armando rose phoenix-like from the ashes of his infamous outing as Big Tent Democrat. (Affectionately known as BTD) It looks like we won't have him to kick around anymore and I find that I'm a little sad. Like Coulter, he's just so fun to hate.
As reported earlier the artist penned a GBCW diary. It seems he bridled when it was suggested by the Great and Powerful Kos, that he should make a greater attempt at civility. Perhaps Kos finally realized that banning people right and left for spitting on the sidewalk, while simultaneously letting the artist spew venom at anyone and everyone, was, how say, incongruous. He as much as admitted that he's been hypocritical as hell. From the thread of a thousand and one nights:
If you want to talk "double standards",
fact is you would've been banned a long time ago if you weren't you.
It's a perfect example of sliding-scale standards -- you are such a stellar writer, thinker, and friend that you survived despite behavior that would've zapped a lesser mortal long ago.
I really wish I could have my cake and eat it too in this case -- keep your writing brilliance without the message board meltdowns.
But then, we've long known that there were special rules for special boyz.
As per Booman it's now official. The artist has been shown the door permanently.
Since this is a meta thread, I guess I'll add that Armando has been banned by Markos from Daily Kos. Armando claims it was done at the behest of DHinMI and Plutonium Page. That's just his opinion. Apparently they suddenly noticed that Armando wasn't civil. That's a fine way to reward his loyalty. I used to get angry emails from Armando anytime anyone so much as thought of criticizing Markos and/or Daily Kos. Armando's flamewars jacked up the pageviews at Daily Kos into the stratosphere. I guess he's no longer convenient.
Armando acted unforgivably in the orange threads for several years. He made many enemies. But that is still no reason to try to do him harm or get him fired. And it's a little late to ban him for it.
Interesting perspective. So flame is good if it's "loyal" flame; like if you're serving as a noble knight for his royal majesty, King Kos. Once again. Special rules for special boyz. Whatever.
So the artist formerly known as Armando will no longer have a comfortable, orange platform for his screeds. And it looks like Ann Coulter has also jumped the shark. It seems high profile conservatives have, to borrow Booman's phrase, "suddenly noticed" that she's vile and offensive.
In the melee triggered by her unfortunate use of the word "faggot" to characterize John Edwards, she has now been dropped by four newspapers. (That's as of this writing. I fully expect that number to climb.)
The Times of Shreveport, Louisiana has become the fourth newspapers [sic] to drop Ann Coulter's column as a direct result of her 'faggot' remark aimed at presidential candidate John Edwards.
"Today we move past the rhetoric and unproductive dialogue offered by Ann Coulter. The Times is dropping her column effective immediately." Times Executive Editor Alan English wrote.
"It is her recent 'joke' about John Edwards being considered a 'faggot' that is the back-breaking straw for a decision we've openly discussed for some time," English added.
The Times joins The Oakland Press of Michigan, The Mountain Press of Sevierville, Tennessee and the Lancaster New Era (Pennsylvania) in dropping Coulter. Others may follow suit.
Coulter has become embarrassing enough to conservatives, that we're beginning to see things like this from within their ranks:
Coulter’s vicious word choice tells the world she care [sic] little about the feelings of a large group that often feels marginalized and despised. Her word choice forces conservatives to waste time defending themselves against charges of homophobia rather than advancing conservative ideas.
Within a day of Coulter’s remark John Edwards sent out a fundraising email that used Coulter’s words to raise money for his faltering campaign. She is helping those she claims to oppose. How does that advance any of the causes we hold dear?
Denouncing Coulter is not enough. After her “raghead” remark in 2006 she took some heat. Yet she did not grow and learn. We should have been more forceful. This year she used a gay slur. What is next? If Senator Barack Obama is the de facto Democratic Presidential nominee next year will Coulter feel free to use a racial slur? How does that help conservatism?
It's taken them long enough, but it looks like conservatives have finally noticed that Coulter serves liberals/progressives very well by providing fodder. Her screeds are more of a rallying cry to the left than the right. She even makes for fun party games.
What we're witnessing with Coulter is a tipping point. It's all downhill from here. My husband has long had this theory that when Ann Coulter's career started trending inexorably south, she would pose for Playboy. She can't live without the attention, so the theory goes. We'll know soon whether or not my husband's prediction is accurate. But what will Armando pose for? Shudder.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: Plamegate
Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted Tuesday of obstruction, perjury and lying to the FBI in an investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.
Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was accused of lying and obstructing the investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters.
He was acquitted of one count of lying to the FBI.
Libby had little reaction to the verdict. He stood expressionless as the jury left the room. His lawyer, Theodore Wells, said they were "very disappointed" with the verdict.
They'll appeal. And who knows, Bush may pardon him. God knows this administration cares nothing about appearances, but for today, I'm celebrating. Oh, yeah!
Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (4) Labels: Armando, Blogosphere, Daily Kos, Democratic Party
Exhibit A:Exactly what I did (0 / 0)
when I walked away from MLW and BT. And why I fervently hope the purveyors of impeachment porn at this site will get tired of it and go somewhere else, or else force Markos to boot them and ban that kind of mindless shouting at the rain.
When the signal-to-noise ratio drops to 1 or less, it’s time to move along. That hasn’t happened here yet, but it’s well past that at MLW and BMT–or was when I left both places.
So explain to me why I would particularly want to have them on “my” side? Especially since it just makes it easier for the MSM to mischaracterize blogs and bloggers as a temporary annoyance instead of a true threat to their traditional dominance of the field of news and opinion.
by musing85 on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 11:15:49 AM MST
Exhibit B:People that stand in the way of electing (1+ / 0-)
Democrats because of their addictions to drama and constant conflict have found their homes at MLW, Booman Trib, and other sites filled with malcontents that would like to collectively destroy dkos effectiveness and mission. The malcontents need to be shown the door so that they can not contaminate dkos.
Politics is the business of dkos, personality and discontent is the business of the sites Musing mentioned.
WWYTR? “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” MLK
by PaintyKat on Mon Mar 05, 2007 at 04:22:43 PM PST
Yes, if you're for enforcing the rule of law and impeaching the most criminal administration in American history, you're branded unmutual at Daily Kos. Well I don't want to live in a world where Booman is the gold standard for radical lefty.
Why the Democratic Party and its rabid enforcers in the blogosphere are so opposed to impeachment continues to baffle me. They are "outside the mainstream." Americans hate this President and want him gone yesterday. We're talking about a President who is polling at 29%, who was dissed by diners at a midwestern eatery, and who is considered worse than Satan and Osama bin Laden!!! The time for caution is long past. Impeachment! If Democrats would just demonstrate the political will to build it, trust me, they will come.
In other interesting news at Mo Betta META, it looks like the artist formerly known as Armando is finally being reined in. He has, once again, taken his ball and gone home. His GBCW diary contains this startling bit of honesty:
I am a narcissist to the end.
Yeah. No kidding.
Monday, March 05, 2007Posted by Curmudgette Comments: (0) Labels: 2008, Amanda Marcotte, Barack Obama, Church/State, Civil Liberties, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Religion
Blond? Brunette? Shaft?
-- Bo Chrysalis, "Absolutely Fabulous"
Election 2008 is gearing up to be the most sanctimonious, Bible thumping, separation of church and state be damned, election in my memory. And Democrats are the worst offenders. I made the mistake of turning the TV on today, and was assaulted by Hillary's sad rendition of the "southern preacher character" a good ten times. Pulling off that suit was no mean feat, but her flair for color ends about there.
The style-over-substance news channels declared Obama the winner of the dueling preachers contest, in historic Selma, Alabama. And, yes, I do appreciate that in the black community churches serve a much broader social function than they do in the white-bread world I grew up in. But Martin Luther King didn't harp on religion as much as these two do, and he was a preacher.
But the icing on the cake of my day was opening The Huffington Post to be greeted by a photo of a haloed John Edwards scolding the country for failing Jesus.
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards says Jesus would be appalled at how the United States has ignored the plight of the suffering, and that he believes children should have private time to pray at school.
Edwards, in an interview with the Web site Beliefnet.com, said Jesus would be most upset with the selfishness of Americans and the country's willingness to go to war "when it's not necessary."
"I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs," Edwards told the site. "I think he would be appalled, actually."
Considering that a healthy percentage of Americans don't have reason to care one whit what Jesus would think, isn't there some other moral arbiter we can reference?
And the sanctimony continues:
Edwards told Kuo he stood by a decision to keep two bloggers on his staff despite their provocative writings criticizing the Catholic Church. Edwards said he also found the writing offensive, but "decided to forgive them and stand by them, knowing there would be potential political consequences for that."
Excuse me. Forgive them?! For what? Exercising their First Amendment rights? He was offended. Fine. But making them "wrong" is a whole 'nother matter.
The bitterest irony is that as our national obsession with religiosity is reaching ahistorical heights, the country has come completely un-moored from its moral underpinnings.
Five years of presidential overreaching and Congressional collaboration continue to exact a high toll in human lives, America’s global reputation and the architecture of democracy. Brutality toward prisoners, and the denial of their human rights, have been institutionalized; unlawful spying on Americans continues; and the courts are being closed to legal challenges of these practices.
I'd like to hear our Presidential front-runners talk a little less about God and little more about how they intend to restore the Constitution. See, you don't need to be religious to know that torture is wrong.