November 2008 Archives

reclaiming the L word

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Michael (Up from Conservatism) Lind is asking at Slate "Is it OK to be liberal again, instead of progressive?" Lind writes that he has "always been uncomfortable with this rather soulless and manipulative exercise in rebranding" because "The word 'liberal' is a badge of pride:"

What is more embarrassing in 2008, to be associated with self-described liberals like Roosevelt and Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan, or with conservatives like Reagan and George W. Bush and Tom DeLay?

I'm solidly with Lind on retaining 'Liberal' over adopting 'Progressive," and even more so with his criticisms of conservatism's ideological bankruptcy. Well over a decade ago, Lind wrote about "Why Intellectual Conservatism Died" in the pages of Dissent (Winter 1995, pp. 42-7). Lind clearly saw the decline as it was happening: the rise of Protestant fundamentalists, "mini-con" patronage trumping merit, fealty to GOP ideology being used as a litmus test, and the dependence of conservative magazines on foundation money. The piece isn't online, but it's well worth tracking down a copy; here are the opening and closing lines:

The collapse of intellectual conservatism in America has been as complete as it has been swift.

[...]

Today, as always, it is possible to be an American intellectual who is politically conservative. But conservatism as an intellectual movement in the United States is dead.

If conservatism was intellectually dead in 1995, how should it be described now?

If you didn't read it before Thanksgiving, Sara Robinson's "Ten Myths Conservatives Believe about Progressives" is a gift that can keep giving throughout the family-heavy holiday season:

For a lot of progressives, these festivities also mean that we're about to spend more quality time with our conservative relatives over the next six weeks than is strictly good for our blood pressure, stress levels, or continued sanity.

[...]

As you prepare to head once again into the family fray, it might be useful to note that most of the right wing's favorite anti-liberal slanders are rooted in some deeply-held--and deeply wrong--assumptions about who liberals are, and what we believe. If your relatives, God bless 'em all, insist on going down that road, your best defense this year might be to listen closely for these underlying myths and fables at work--and be prepared to challenge them head-on when they surface in the discussion.

Robinson's list is a great summation of conservatism's false premises about liberalism, and is worth packing in your luggage (if you're visiting right-wing relatives) or mounting on your fridge (if they're visiting you).

Mike Whitney's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" piece at CounterPunch (h/t: Rip Post) speculates that Washington's foot-dragging in rescuing Detroit's "Big Three" automakers (unlike the quick action on behalf of Citi and others in the financial industry) may be tainted by union-busting:

Could it be that the government is working out a secret deal with management to put the company through Chapter 11 (reorganization) just so it can crush the union and eliminate their pension and health care benefits in one fell swoop?

You bet. [...] The auto industry isn't going to be shut down. That's just more fear-mongering like the blather about martial law and WMD. Detroit is going to be transformed into a workers gulag; Siberia on Lake Michigan, which is why Paulson is withholding the $25 billion. It's plain old class warfare.

While the Big Three have been in the news, their workers have been the subject of many news stories about their alleged "gold-plated benefits" and $70/hour jobs; Eric Boehlert debunks the myths here at MediaMatters, observing that the $70 figure was manufactured by (dishonestly) adding the health and pension costs of retirees to the wages and benefits of current workers. Boehlert notes that "having the media echo conservative misinformation and bandy about urban-myth salary figures about allegedly high-on-the-hog GM workers does not constitute a careful review of the facts:

...what's obvious to me is that it's harmful to public discourse when the press, on such a central issue facing our country, fails to clearly state the facts and instead perpetuates misinformation with sloppy reporting -- reporting that seems to hold blue-collar workers to a different standard than their white-collar counterparts.

Is autoworker pay really too much of a hardship for Detroit's automakers to bear? The UAW reports the following:

The total labor cost of a new vehicle produced in the United States is about $2,400, which includes direct, indirect and salaried labor for engines, stamping and assembly at the automakers' plants.

This represents 8.4 percent of the typical $28,451 price of a new vehicle in 2006.

Remember: autoworkers aren't the ones flying around the country in corporate jets, and they didn't make the decisions that drove Detroit to the brink of bankruptcy.

If there's a more poignant example than this NY Daily News report (h/t: no_hypocrisy at DU) of what's wrong with Black Friday, I haven't seen it:

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m. Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

[...]

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk's life. "They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. "People were still coming through."

Only a few stopped.

The blind pursuit of bargains had a huge price today, and I offer my sincere condolences to the worker's friends and family. Please consider celebrating Buy Nothing Day instead of following the lemmings of mindless consumerism.

Paul Waldman writes "Let the Conservative Whining Begin" at American Prospect:

Over the last eight years, many conservatives, particularly the radio and television hosts who enjoy such loud and lucrative megaphones, have been forced to navigate some difficult rhetorical waters. When your side controls the White House, the Congress (as it did until two years ago), the judiciary, and the business world, how do you argue that you're part of an oppressed group being held down by The Man? It isn't easy, but they did it nonetheless.

Conservatives spent the bulk of the last eight years blaming Clinton for everything; Obama is now shouldering the burden of their ire despite the fact that he hasn't been sworn in yet. The eight years in between? They're certainly not Republicans' fault!

Obama's decisive victory is, as Waldman points out, shifting the GOP's fear-mongering (Fairness Doctrine, stockpiling guns, etc.) into overdrive:

It's no coincidence that the uptick in bitching and moaning comes as Republicans have become isolated ideologically, demographically, and geographically. The last factor -- that the GOP is now largely a Southern party -- gives the complaints endless fuel. As the center of gravity within the Republican Party has moved south, it has embraced that variant of Southern culture built on nurturing your sense of grievance and perseverating on your defeats. [...] ...is there a group of people anywhere in the world so obsessed with glorifying and celebrating a war they lost?

With their areas of control now limited to the judiciary, the media, and the business community, conservatives' whining will be somewhat less unjustified, but it will be even more insufferable.

The Nation is running a "Retire Bush" contest, soliciting their readers' answers to the following question:

WHAT WILL W. DO AFTER LEAVING OFFICE?
Send us your answer, disingenuous or otherwise, in 25 words (more or less). The winner will be chosen by a panel of fair-minded judges (Victor Navasky, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Richard Lingeman). First Prize is an original drawing, based on your entry, by famed New Yorker artist Edward Sorel.

Send your suggestions to retirebush@thenation.com before the 31 December deadline.

James (Focus on the Phallus) Dobson is upset over Kathleen Parker's suggestion that the GOP stop kowtowing to their theocratic wing, but Dobson misinterprets her piece to parade his well-developed persecution complex. He argues strenuously against several things that Parker never wrote, claiming that it is "necessary for Christians to stop letting our religious beliefs and values inform our political views and votes:

...getting rid of social conservatives and shelving the values they fight for is the solution to what ails the Republican Party...because there are people of many faiths in the United States, those of the Christian faith must not think or act like Christians when engaging the public square.

Steve Benen noted at Washington Monthly that:

I think he missed Parker's point. Her column didn't argue that Dobson and the religious right should be silenced, but rather, that the Republican Party would be wise to stop listening to them. [...] As far as I can tell, no one wants to infringe on Dobson's ability to promote his far-right, vaguely theocratic agenda. The point here is whether the Republican Party is going to take Dobson's radical demands seriously, and allow the religious right to dictate the party's policy agenda.

If the Christianist wing of the GOP nominates Sarah Palin in 2012, Dobson will be happy...but will ignorance and intransigence translate into electoral success?

Yesterday at the Newsweek/WaPo "On Faith" site, this question was asked:

Obama and Church

President-elect Obama hasn't been to church in three weeks, saying he doesn't want to disrupt the service for others. Reagan and Bush said the same thing, but Carter and Clinton attended church regularly. What's your advice? Where should presidents worship?

I responded that presidents, along with other Christians, should follow the command of Jesus to pray in private:

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
(Matthew 6:6)

alienated atheists

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This post from vjack at Atheist Revolution about "reducing isolation" is excellent advice for theists who are perturbed by atheist visibility:

I've got news for the Christians who are upset about atheist billboards, atheist bus advertisements, and atheist greeting cards. It is not about trying to take "Christ" out of Christmas at all. In fact, it isn't really even about you and your jealous little god at all. It is about letting millions of American atheists know that they are not alone. Nobody likes feeling alienated from the culture in which they live. These various campaigns are simply about normalizing the experience of countless atheists.

If the idea of atheists feeling free to be themselves threatens you for some reason, tough shit. We are here to stay, and we are not willing to keep our opinions to ourselves any more than you are. We are going to be more visible in the next few years, and you can expect to hear more from us. [...] ...we will not apologize for our existence, and we will not stop working to promote education, reason, and skepticism.

And a very merry chriFSMas to you all!

Bloomberg's report yesterday stupefied much of the blogosphere:

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. [...] The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg begins to put this fiasco into historical perspective,

The money that's been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It's nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country's mortgages.

but Barry Ritholtz does an ever better job of assessing "the largest outlay in American history:"

Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures - combined:
• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion (data courtesy of Bianco Research)

[...]

The $4.6165 trillion dollars committed so far is about a trillion dollars ($979 billion dollars) greater than the entire cost of World War II borne by the United States: $3.6 trillion, adjusted for inflation (original cost was $288 billion).

Go figure: WWII was a relative bargain.

caption this photo

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Economist, author, and vociferous critic of the current administration Paul Krugman stands next to Bush during a White House photo-op for Nobel laureates, two more of whom are standing to the right:

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It looks as if Krugman just realized that the contrast in intellectual capacity between him and his neighbor cannot be quantified except by the math used to calculate Bush's deficits.

Andy Borowitz takes issue with Obama's "controversial use of complete sentences:"

Mr. Obama's decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements carries with it certain risks, since after the last eight years many Americans may find his odd speaking style jarring.

According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a president who speaks English as if it were his first language. "Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement," says Mr. Logsdon. "If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist."

[...]

The president-elect's stubborn insistence on using complete sentences has already attracted a rebuke from one of his harshest critics, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

"Talking with complete sentences there and also too talking in a way that ordinary Americans like Joe the Plumber and Tito the Builder can't really do there, I think needing to do that isn't tapping into what Americans are needing also," she said.

hacks

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DHinMI at DailyKos writes (as I did yesterday) about that GOP "Ship of Fools" article from The Economist:

...the conservative movement was largely a reaction to the New Deal, and the "ideas" that came forth to question the New Deal were mostly the product of corporate-funded think tanks like Heritage and The American Enterprise Institute that produce ideologically-driven shoddy work that demeans and discredits empirically sound social science.

Even the most prominent "intellectuals" associated with the GOP have tended to be hacks.

His examples of David Brooks and William Kristol are indeed hacktastic, but the rest of the right-wing op-ed industry (Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter, Dinesh D'Souza, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Charles Krauthammer, Limbaugh the Larger and Limbaugh the Lesser, Dick Morris, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, and George Will) have been foisting the same destructive ideas on us for decades under the guise of newsworthiness.

It's time for a change.

Hebrews vs. Greeks

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If you're as tired of the "Judeo-Christian values" claptrap as I am, read the first two paragraphs of this "Hebrews vs. Greeks" post from Jason Long--an excerpt from his upcoming book. It's refreshing to see such an important point about our cultural heritage being made so forcefully and thoroughly.

Bravo!

Here's a reminder that as badly as Bush's domestic policies have "screwed the pooch," his foreign policy blunders have been even worse:

20081123-bushdoctrine.jpg

The Economist's article about the GOP's "Ship of Fools" is brutal in its assessment of Republican failure:

There are any number of reasons for the Republican Party's defeat on November 4th. But high on the list is the fact that the party lost the battle for brains. Barack Obama won college graduates by two points, a group that George Bush won by six points four years ago. He won voters with postgraduate degrees by 18 points. [...] The Republicans lost the battle of ideas even more comprehensively than they lost the battle for educated votes, marching into the election armed with nothing more than slogans.

[...]

Richard Weaver, one of the founders of modern conservatism, once wrote a book entitled "Ideas have Consequences"; unfortunately, too many Republicans are still refusing to acknowledge that idiocy has consequences, too.

H/t to Ron Chusid at Liberal Values, who observes:

The Republicans not only lost the battle of ideas, but they no longer even have ideas which are relevant to the problems of the twenty-first century. Their policies are based upon a fantasy world build up in their echo chamber which ignores any facts which conflict with their ideology, believing that any sources of information which do not repeat their talking points as fact are showing liberal bias. They dig themselves deeper into the hole by promoting anti-intellectual incompetents such as George Bush and Sarah Palin while attacking those who demand competence and an understand of the issues by government leaders as elitists.

At the Washington Post last week, Kathleen Parker placed the blame for conservatives' electoral failure on the shoulders of "the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP:"

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners. [...]

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle. [...]

...the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base -- or the nation may need a new party.

None of the GOP Christianists want to hear what Parker is saying--or, perhaps, none are capable of hearing it--but she is nonetheless correct. Jonah Goldberg at NRO penned a reasonable but ineffectual critique of Parker's stance, but John Hawkins attempted a more radical defense over at ClownHall that is nearly nonsensical. Hawkins wrote, for example, that McCain:

almost completely ignored issues like gay marriage and abortion on the campaign trail, even though Obama had huge weaknesses on those issues.

Yes, McCain didn't make GOP perennial favorites abortion and same-sex marriage the central issues of his campaign--not because the Democratic positions on those issues were "huge weaknesses" for Obama, but because the Republican positions were huge weaknesses for McCain.

A majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most situations--agreeing with Democrats--with only a small minority (typically 15-20%) demanding that abortion be always illegal (the Republican stance). When it comes to same-sex marriage, roughly two-thirds of Americans are in favor of either full marriage equality or civil unions for same-sex couples, which again puts the GOP in the minority--one which is steadily shrinking.

Hawkins trots out the tired "values voter" meme yet again, but what he doesn't realize is that most Obama voters also voted on the basis of their values: reproductive rights, civil rights, foreign policy, fiscal responsibility, science, the economy, the environment, and the Constitution. The GOP is the minority party in the United States because its positions on important issues are not those of the majority of Americans, and Republicans will continue to lose until they respect American values. Hawkins, however, would have them continue to defer to their Christianist wing:

If people of faith are willing to help the GOP in return for having their interests protected in Washington, the Republican Party would be extraordinarily foolish to turn them away.
I'd love to see the GOP continue its slide into irrelevance by pandering to the extremists, but gordo at Appletree thinks they can fail just as ignominiously by throwing the evangelicals overboard and blindly following the same failed policies:
So let's hope that Kathleen Parker and her fellow "moderates" prevail, and Republicans marginalize Christians while they continue to press for less regulation, fewer social services, fewer rights and legal protections for citizens, higher deficits, more wars, and lower taxes for the wealthy. And let's hope that they also continue to scapegoat immigrants when their policies backfire. With any luck, they'll still be banging the same drum when Obama runs for re-election in 2012.

It's like watching a minivan full of crash-test dummies careening over a precipice...

arrogant?

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The "You're All Wrong" bumper-sticker I posted a few days ago may strike some as atheist arrogance, but consider that the Christian version would look like this,

20081122-youreallwrong-chri.jpg

the Jewish one like this,

20081122-youreallwrong-jewi.jpg

and the Muslim one like this:

20081122-youreallwrong-musl.jpg

Many freethinkers have observed that atheists merely believe in one fewer god than do (most) theists; Richard Dawkins said it well:

I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.
(The God Delusion, p. 77)

AlterNet's Robert Parry declares "The Time Has Come to Create a Real 'Liberal Media':"

Looking back over the past three decades, the cost of the Left's complacency on media - i.e. its failure to create a reliable way to get important facts to the public and to counter the Right's propaganda machine - has been almost beyond calculation.

America's right-leaning media imbalance was a big reason why George W. Bush was able to misgovern the United States for eight years...

Conservatives have been complaining about the "liberal" media for nearly four decades, and the thought of a media environment that accurately portrays reality to the American public--rather than the current reflexively conservative one--has the wingnuts in full panic mode. Whatever will they do if liberal ideas are honestly presented to the public? How can the entire right-wing propaganda phalanx manage to counterbalance two liberals (Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow) on MSNBC every evening? How will they combat the mockery from Comedy Central?

The GOP's cries of terror over the (very unlikely) reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine are laughably overblown, and Anonymous Liberal notes that paranoia is "endemic to modern movement conservatism, whether or not the Republican party happens to be in power. It is a central feature of the conservative world view:"

The sad reality is that this kind of conspiratorial delusion is central to the worldview of most movement conservatives. It doesn't go away when they're in power and return when they're out of power. It's just there all the time.

One of AL's commenters writes, "I would have thought that the Republicans would welcome the Fairness Doctrine, given their constant whine about the 'liberal media:'"

You'd think that they'd be happy since, were it enacted, it would level the playing field for them. But the fact that they're whining about it indicates one of two things:

1. The media really isn't liberal.
2. They don't really want a level playing field.

Or it could be that both are true.

Both conclusions strike me as all-but-indisputable, although I don't anticipate a truly liberal media environment any time in the near future. (I wouldn't want media biased toward liberalism, but I'd love to see more solid and substantive reporting instead of the current sensationalistic shallowness that passes for news these days.)

If the "Coexist" bumper-sticker design is too inoffensive for your car, you might want to consider this one:

20081120-youreallwrong.jpg

No one seems to know where this image originated, but Friendly Atheist found it here.

I recently tried to dissuade a friend from worrying that Obama might be the Anti-Christ:

First: Obama is a Christian, which should disqualify him from being the Anti-Christ (1 John 2:22) Second: Weren't the "End Times" supposed to happen during the lifetime of the disciples? (Wasn't it all a metaphor for the Roman Empire?)

Since then, Newsweek has published an article by Lisa Miller (h/t: Steve Benen at Washington Monthly) examining--in their trademarked shallow manner--the end-times lunacy of Todd (RaptureReady) Strandberg (check out MediaMatters' article on his "repeated anti-GLBT, anti-Muslim, and anti-progressive statements"). Strandberg's inanity is easily comparable to those who believe in astrology or Nostradamus' scribblings, but is much more respectable--due in part to the fawning coverage it receives in the "liberal" media.

In examining the Newsweek piece, I take issue with one of Miller's statement that Strandberg's site is "the best source online for predictions and calculations concerning the end of the world." How could his site be distinguished from any other source of wild-ass guesses about something that hasn't happened? What separates the best source from the worst? Miller lays the historical background like this:

Ever since Jesus Christ was crucified and, according to the Gospels, rose again in glory, his followers have been anticipating the end of history--the time when their Lord will return to earth and reign for a thousand years. The question has always been when. Most Christians don't worry about the end too much; it's an abstract concept, a theological puzzle for late-night pondering. A few, however, have always believed that it is coming--and soon.

Christians of one stripe or another have perennially used biblical texts to predict the imminent "end of history;" one would expect that--sooner of later--they would realize the futility of their attempts and just give up, especially considering the source material from which they're working. I'm not quite ready to write a scorched-earth ridicule like this one over at Jesus' General--although it is quite amusing:

Those who suggest that Obama is the Antichrist have very valid reasons for their belief, based on upon the very specific criteria laid out in scripture.

For example:

Barack Obama rose out of the sea and has seven heads and ten horns.Aside from that, he's like a leopard except with bear's feet and a lion's mouth. and one of his heads was mortally wounded, but then healed.

Dale McGowan tackles Revelation in his "Bookin' through the Bible" series, and is somewhat less caustic:

Imagine if you will my shock and surprise upon learning that John's home island of Patmos has been the Mediterranean's premiere source of hallucinogenic mushrooms for thousands of years.

That makes infinitely more sense than treating Revelation as a serious "theological puzzle." I find it puzzling that such an amalgam of phantasm and delirium is purported to provide insight into the future, and I have great difficulty attempting a serious comment about something so ludicrous.

I was reading OneGoodMove--a site with plenty of thought-provoking links--and clicked through to the Journal of Doubt post "Adios, Conservative Kooks," which led to George Packer's New Yorker article "The Fall of Conservatism" from May. It's wonderful to be able to follow a sequence of hyperlinked thoughts like that; it's like following a trail through bibliographies and footnotes, only much more immediate.

Packer called the GOP's campaign ads "the spasms of nerve endings in an organism that's brain-dead. Among Republicans, there is no energy, no fresh thinking, no ability to capture the concerns and feelings of millions of people." (And we know that McCain's campaign didn't get any better between May and November...) Packer's latest New Yorker piece, "The New Liberalism," is also a good read:

Barack Obama's decisive defeat of John McCain is the most important victory of a Democratic candidate since 1932. It brings to a close another conservative era, one that rose amid the ashes of the New Deal coalition in the late sixties, consolidated its power with the election of Ronald Reagan, in 1980, and immolated itself during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

[...]

November 4, 2008, is one of those infrequent dates when one historical age and one generation, with a distinct political and economic and cultural character, gave way to another age, another generation. The new era that is about to begin under President Obama will be more about public good than about private goods. The meal will be smaller, and have less interesting flavors, but it will be shared more fairly. The great American improvisation called democracy still bends along the curve of history. It has not yet finished astounding the world.

That conclusion reminds me very much of JFK's inaugural address:

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

In another historical echo, I love the Obama-as-FDR illustration accompanying the article:

20081111-newerdeal.jpg

The same idea (Zeitgeist alert!) was used since then for the latest Time cover:

20081116-newnewdeal.jpg


update (7:42pm):
I have to give props to Swopa at FDL for having the same idea all the way back in September:

20081119-obamafdr.jpg

the white knot

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Will the white knot--symbolizing marriage equality--become the red ribbon of the new millennium? Here's their pitch:

Whether you are gay or straight, please show your support by wearing the knot and telling people why you are wearing it. It may seem like a small thing, but imagine the white knot gaining the pervasiveness and instant recognition of the AIDS Ribbon. We can do it!

Wear your white knot to church, to school, to work, to lunch. We will be encouraging celebrities to wear knots during interviews and on red carpets. We will show those who would deny gays and lesbians their fundamental rights that the majority is in fact on our side--on the right side of history.


20081119-whiteknot.jpg

(h/t: Towleroad)

Prince follow-up

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Prince's anti-gay-marriage comment has drawn a great deal of criticism--as well as a claim from an anonymous spokesperson that Prince was "misquoted"--but there has been no official repudiation from His Purpleness.

Until it's important enough for Prince to make a public clarification, I'm going to assume that Claire Hoffman and The New Yorker had it right. Another unnamed spokesperson--this time from The New Yorker--spoke to Wired to report that the magazine "stands by its story." In this "Behind the Scenes" piece, Hoffman provides a little more detail about the exchange:

In your interview, Prince said the following about gay marriage: "God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was like, 'Enough.'" Did you two have a more In-depth conversation about this?

I was a little surprised when he said it, because he has always seemed so unrestricted sexually.

We were having a larger conversation about his belief system and his politics. He told me he didn't have a horse in the November election and that he didn't believe in getting involved with these kind of earthly contests. I had asked him if the fact that Obama was black didn't compel him to get involved.

Andrew Winistorfer at Prefixmag sums it up this way:

So all this means one of two things: either Prince is against gay marriage, and doesn't want his fans to know about that, or he is for gay marriage, and regrets his quote. We probably won't ever know.

I responded:

Since so many Prince fans are now aware of the "sticking it" quote, Prince has a choice:

a). allow the quote to stand (in the public mind, anyway) as his opinion, or
b). make an official statement affirming, clarifying, or repudiating it.

(I'd like to hope that Prince's adoption of the JW religion hasn't poisoned his mind, but I've been overly optimistic before...)

I miss the artist who wasn't afraid to be, at the very least, sexually suggestive:

20081118-phallicguitar.jpg

Newt Gingrich is at it again. He was bloviating about Prop 8 last week on BillO's "Spin Zone" show:

I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion. [...] ...these secular extremists are determined to impose on you acceptance of a series of values that are antithetical, they're the opposite, of what you're taught in Sunday school.

Newt, you're full of shit.

Are "secular extremists" barring Christianists from serving in the military? Are we proposing constitutional amendments to annul their marriages? Or forcing them into same-sex unions?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

The only things we want are liberty and justice, which are hardly "impositions" on anyone else. We want the fourteenth amendment to be observed; we want the Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause to apply to everyone; we want civil equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Repealing DADT and DOMA would be good first steps. Passing ENDA would be another. The idea that any of these things is a "dangerous threat" to anyone is as credibility-straining as...well...a lot of Newt's voluminous verbiage.

People who can't keep their own marriages together (Newt has had three marriages and two divorces so far) shouldn't have any input into revoking the marriage rights of anyone else. You know what isn't "traditional," Newt? Adultery and divorce--but, as usual, it's OK when a Republican does it. (The irony that Newt is discussing "values" with sexual harasser Bill O'Reilly should not be lost on anyone...)

In a sense, though, Newt is correct that the equality agenda is "a series of values that are antithetical [to] what you're taught in Sunday school." Many of our nation's founding principles are indeed opposed to Judeo-Christian religious doctrines and their theocratic monarchical authority. (Compare the Bill of Rights to the Ten Commandments sometime; it should be an eye-opening experience for anyone who believes in the "Christian nation" myth.) Many biblical edicts are countermanded by our (secular) Constitution, and we are a better nation for it. (I'm thinking of our Greco-Roman and Enlightenment heritage: representative government, separation of powers, and the myriad individual freedoms that are--or should be--protected from mob rule.)

If Newt and his fellow fundies want to establish a Christian nation somewhere else, they're welcome to do so. Their desire to force our country to observe bigoted Iron Age dogma is unacceptable.


more commentary on Newt:
Steve Benen at Washington Monthly
Priscilla at News Hounds

Prince talked about same-sex marriage not being "right" with Claire Hoffman of The New Yorker, and (h/t: Towleroad):

When asked about his perspective on social issues--gay marriage, abortion--Prince tapped his Bible and said, "God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, 'Enough.'"

Prince, you can take your Bible and stick it "wherever."

If you're not already reading Failblog, you should be:

20081117-quotationmarks.jpg

(Either he meant it ironically, or he was quoting from another sign...)

The passage of California's anti-marriage Proposition 8 has energized a pro-marriage movement that is no longer willing to tolerate second-class citizenship for LGBT Americans. There were events in some 300 cities across the nation yesterday, with protesters numbering over a million. Andrew Sullivan posted this marvelous photo from the protest in DC:

20081115-rainbow.jpg

One of Sullivan's commenters says it best, explaining the importance of marriage equality for all the blasé straights out there:

I'm not gay. I don't have gay friends or family. This isn't about homosexuality. This is about civil rights. [...] I've got no special affinity for the gay community, but I'm an American and a patriot: I've got a special affinity for my fellow Americans. I'll be damned if I acquiesce to such shameful hate and discrimination.

Bravo! I'm reminded of George Washington's words about the exercise of citizens' "inherent natural rights:"

For happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
(letter to Moses Seixas, 1790)

For more photos, visit:

Box Turtle Bulletin
Join the Impact (old site and new site)
Andrew Sullivan
Slog
Towleroad

The next scheduled event is Day without a Gay on 10 December, which falls on Human Rights Day (and also the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights):

20081116-daywithoutgay.jpg

the GOP that failed

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Just a few years ago, there was plenty of hubristic wankery from the Right-wing pundits about their alleged "permanent majority" in Congress. Over at Salon, Joe Conason enjoys rubbing conservatives' faces in their failure--particularly the odious Grover Norquist, who claimed that "the Republicans are looking at decades of dominance in the House and the Senate." Conason praises the 2002 Judis/Teixeira thesis (which I mentioned yesterday), lays out the demographic situation quite well, but adds a note of caution:

...gloating only goes so far, as Norquist learned the hard way. On Thursday morning, he joined dozens of right-wing leaders in Washington to plan for a conservative comeback -- and what they hope will be the next realignment, without the burden of George W. Bush. Don't misunderestimate them.

For the record, I went through some of my old posts, which predicted the same realignment as Judis & Teixeira:

5 December 2004 "Having been on a nearly unbroken ascent for four full decades, the political Right is at the apex of its power; the Left, having just experienced its "Goldwater moment," is in the midst of some much-needed introspection."

23 June 2007
"When 2006's electoral embarrassment for the GOP becomes 2008's landslide, I suspect that [Andrew Sullivan's The Conservative Soul] will be diligently examined. As more conservatives try to understand how their dream of a permanent majority was so thoroughly dashed on the rocks of reality, a look into the substantive past of conservatism--rather than its degenerated present--will do us all some good."

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Move over, Trane...the Saint John Coltrane Church has some competition! This NPR report (h/t: Richard Dawkins) talks about a church in a converted Albuquerque gas station that celebrates with the music of Beethoven:

Felix Wurman isn't a rabbi, priest or preacher. He plays the cello. He didn't feel at home in church, because he's not religious. But he says he also felt that there was something missing in formal concert halls where he performs. [...]

"Really, the idea is to find spirituality through culture, through the cultural gifts that so many people have suffered for and created over so many generations," Wurman says. "There's so much information there that's useful." [...]

Wurman says he doesn't want the Church of Beethoven to grow into a megachurch, because that would destroy the intimacy that makes it meaningful. But he'd like the idea to get big, and spread, with churches of Bach, Schubert, Mahler and Bernstein sprouting up.

That's a wonderful idea, and I'd love to catch a service at the Church of Beethoven if I'm ever nearby.

America the liberal

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John Judis notes in "America the Liberal" at TNR that the Democratic majority has emerged:

The country is no longer "America the conservative." And, if Obama acts shrewdly to consolidate this new majority, we may soon be "America the liberal."

Judis predicted this six years ago in The Emerging Democratic Majority, where he noted that Americans "increasingly endorse the politics of this progressive centrism:"

They want government to play an active and responsible role in American life, guaranteeing a reasonable level of economic security to Americans rather than leaving them at the mercy of the market and the business cycle. They want to preserve and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, rather than privatize them. They want to modernize and upgrade public education, not abandon it. They want to exploit new biotechnologies and computer technologies to improve the quality of life. They do not want science held hostage to a religious or ideological agenda. And they want the social gains of the sixties consolidated, not rolled back; the wounds of race healed, not inflamed. That's why the Democrats are likely to become the majority party of the early twenty-first century. (p. 177)

amazon.com

Hanson, Victor & John Heath. Who Killed Homes? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (New York: Free Press, 1998)

As stated by the authors, Who Killed Homer? "investigates why the Greeks are so important and why they are so little known" (pp. xv-xvi, Prologue) and makes three arguments:

First, Greek wisdom is not Mediterranean but anti-Mediterranean; Hellenic culture--an idea predicated on race--is not just different from, but entirely antithetical to any civilization of its own time or space. [..]

Second, the demise of Classical learning is both real and quantifiable. [...]

Third, our present generation of Classicists helped to destroy classical education.

(p. xviii-xiv, Prologue)

They decry "the Enlightenment's absolute and haughty confidence in the salvation of man through pure reason" (p. 41) and declare that "believers in modernism (who do not know Thucydides, Plato, and Euripides) have misunderstood the nature of man and the role of culture, and the proper balance between the two." (p. 42) The authors grind a mighty axe against the overblown PC culture of the 1990s university (hilariously--if infuriatingly--so in a "Poor Cyclops" rant on page 55) and rhapsodize excessively over the Greco-Roman military might. They direct their fire, however, primarily at other professors:

Tenure, promotions, leaves, salary, visiting lectureships, positions on editorial boards, prestige--these are the petty recompense for their wholesale destruction of Greek wisdom. (p. 151)

before broadening their attack to encompass our entire culture:

The irony here is that we have increasingly turned in despair to our university to do precisely what it cannot: to correct the fundamental malignancies of our modern culture. But no education--especially a college education--can undo eighteen years of earlier grade-school and parental failure. [...] In other words, without a functioning and effective polis (which we clearly lack now in America) children do not and will not become fully human--as Aristotle takes pains to remind us. (p. 210)

They see education as a potential--although highly unlikely--means of salvation:

The seats in college classes are filled with poorly-trained students of generation X with little factual knowledge and even less skill in verbal or written expression, desperately in search of ethical guidance and eager for a system of explication, not further chaos, disorder, and nihilism. (p. 227)

In the next century, we do not believe that Classics graduate programs will adopt our plan of correction. We do not think that the university will follow our radical ideas of curriculum reform. We are sure that at the present rate, Greek wisdom will be almost unknown to the general public within two decades. (pp. 248-9)

I'm rather fond of the Greeks, and I hope that the authors of Who Killed Homer? are wrong in their assessment.

Now that a Democratic administration is on the way, Michael Reagan is all a-twitter at his new website Reagan Action. He hyperventilates from the very beginning, asserting that "America has its first truly Socialist president" and predicting that "the new radical regime in Washington, D.C. is planning their first legislative attacks on America." As David Neiwert mentioned at Crooks and Liars, Reagan's "EXPOSE LIBERAL CORRUPTION" section of the screed is especially revealing:

With the Democrats back in power in both Congress and the White House, you KNOW that they'll be falling right back into their habits of taking lobbyists' money under the table, trading votes for campaign contributions, spying on and sabotaging Republican legislative plans, covering up their leaders' sexual "flings," and spending taxpayer money on personal expenses like never before. But this time, YOU AND I will be there every step of the way, making sure that no stone is left unturned, every dark corner is filled with light, and every illegal act is paid for with censure, impeachment, recalls, investigations, and jail time for every criminal we expose in Washington, D.C.

Those are all important issues, and I'm glad to see a Republican concerned about them...but where the hell was Reagan during the past eight years? How many Bush administration criminals has he exposed? How much jail time does he support for them?

Or, more likely, is corruption only a problem when it's not committed by conservatives?

"Ode to Joy"

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Harper's discusses Friedrich von Schiller's famed "Ode to Joy" poem, the text sung in the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. As the author reminds us, Beethoven "knew the power of a dream, and he inspired millions with it, to the chagrin of his Hapsburg sponsors:"

Schiller's words are perfectly fused with Beethoven's music. It may indeed be the most successful marriage in the whole shared space of poetry and music. It is a message of striking universality which transcends the boundaries of time and culture. It is well measured in fact to certain turningpoints in the human experience.

The article includes YouTube clips of von Karajan conducting the Ninth, but--for some reason--not the obvious choice of Leonard Bernstein's Christmas 1989 performance (CD and DVD) of the symphony after the Berlin Wall fell. It would have been an especially appropriate choice considering Lenny's substitution of freiheit (freedom) for freude (joy) during that immortal performance.

20081111-thefuturessobright.jpg

Tomorrow, Tom. The Future's So Bright I Can't Bear to Look (New York: Nation Books, 2008)

The Future's So Bright I Can't Bear to Look, Dan Perkins' eighth collection of his This Modern World strip under the pen name "Tom Tomorrow," is just what his readers have come to expect: biting and brutal commentary on contemporary political media. The highlights of this book are the 2005 (pp. 26-7), 2006 (pp. 74-5), and 2007 (pp. 130-1) "Year in Review" strips; in addition to the ones featuring the character "Conservative Jones, Boy Detective." He utilizes the reductio ad absurdum technique to great effect and lampoons the "circular logic" of conservatives quite well, but his arsenal is much broader.

For example, this strip about Alan Greenspan's odious works is about as deadpan as he gets:

20081111-greenspancomedy.jpg

Given his eagerness to attack Democrats for the same failings, I doubt that This Modern World is in danger of run out of material. In times like these, we need Tom Tomorrow as much as ever.

links:
blog "This Modern World" (no RSS feed)
TMW cartoons are available online from Credo and Salon

Nicholas Kristof's op-ed "Obama and the War on Brains" at the NYT opens with this observation:

Barack Obama's election is a milestone in more than his pigmentation. The second most remarkable thing about his election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life. Smart and educated leadership is no panacea, but we've seen recently that the converse -- a White House that scorns expertise and shrugs at nuance -- doesn't get very far either.

Thomas Sowell's attempt at rebuttal ("Intellectuals" at ClownHall) provides several irrelevant anti-intellectual anecdotes, but to little effect:

How have intellectuals managed to be so wrong, so often? By thinking that because they are knowledgeable-- or even expert-- within some narrow band out of the vast spectrum of human concerns, that makes them wise guides to the masses and to the rulers of the nation.

The contrast between a president who is not intellectually curious and one who is has seldom been more clearly shown than that between Bush and Obama. There are problems that are insoluble by intelligence and expertise, but they are vastly outweighed by those that are exacerbated by dogmatic ignorance.

We have--as a nation--voted a Democrat into the White House while simultaneously increasing the Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. The problems facing our nation continue to mount, time is short, and progress must be made immediately on several fronts. There is no longer the threat of a veto--although a filibuster is still a possibility--to hold Democrats back from enacting legislation that would fulfill Obama's campaign promises. If they fail to make major accomplishments in relatively short order, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Obama should remember that, as Joshua Holland proved at AlterNet, "America Is a Center-Left Country," and he should govern accordingly. Obama's administration suffers no lack of concerned and informed advice: the ACLU suggests some "Actions for Restoring America," the EFF has a "Privacy Agenda," Al Gore is promoting a plan for energy independence, and Katrina vanden Heuvel offers a "First 100 Days" list at The Nation.

A great way for Obama to general instant forward momentum, as mentioned in this WaPo article, would be to reverse some 200 of Bush's executive orders:

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues...

We might find out the extent of Bush's illegal wiretapping when the White House changes hands, but the Bush administration is pissing away our tax dollars with all sorts of giveaways in the interim. The latest is a $140 billion gift to bankers, reminding us that 20 January can't come soon enough.

Lieberman's future

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Steve Benen writes at Washington Monthly about Democrats' desire to strip Senator Joe Lieberman (SOB-CT) of his power as chair of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Benen notes that this isn't to avenge Lieberman's support of McCain, but "is actually about a specific power Lieberman is intent on keeping for a specific reason:"

This seems to be routinely overlooked, but take a moment to consider what the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs actually does: it's the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It's an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president's administration.

As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman's House counterpart -- Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee -- was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress. [italics in original; bold added]

Lieberman protected the Busheviks for too long, and he deserves to lose his place on this committee. If he decides to caucus with the Republicans as a result, the Dems shouldn't shed any tears over it--that move is long overdue.

Mike Connery at MyDD provides some great graphs of young-voter turnout. This one is particularly eye-opening:


20081108-youngvoters.jpg

A 200-point EV margin of victory was encouraging, but 400 points is cause for rejoicing, particularly since we know that people get more liberal with age. Should liberals follow conservatives' example and start gloating,

20081108-gloating.jpg

or should we get to work?

(Obama has set an example with his "Office of the President-Elect" website, so we know where he stands...)

fight the H8

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Good As You has a large selection of images (from Nicholas Leggett) to keep attention on the continuing fight against Pro 8 (h/t: Towleroad). Here's my favorite:

20081108-fighttheh8.jpg

You can support the fight by buying a t-shirt. (Proceeds go to Lambda Legal.)

David Neiwert called the 2008 election "The Great Repudiation," but I see it as a continuation of 2006's realignment, and less a complete repudiation of Bushism than a simple rejection of it.

At Appletree, gordo employs plenty of sarcasm to describe Obama's victory:

Americans were informed that Obama is determined to impose Sharia law in the US. We were told of his Afrocentrism and of his and his wife's hatred for whites. Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber warned us that Obama's a socialist. We were told that Obama would allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and allow them to use those weapons to obliterate Israel. John McCain himself warned that Obama would surrender in Iraq.

And yet, Americans voted for Obama. In fact, we gave him a strong mandate, much stronger than the mandate Bush claimed in 2004, the one that the Republicans said justified a complete overhaul of social security and a major expansion of executive power.

I can only conclude that Obama's mandate is to impose socialism and Sharia, to promote the interests of blacks at the expense of whites, to allow Iran to nuke Israel, and to surrender to al Qaeda in Iraq. In fact, his mandate is so strong that it would be positively un-democratic and un-American to ask Obama to compromise as he pursues these goals.

So conservatives, get out of the way. You painted a fair picture of Obama, and Americans decided that's what they wanted. After all, words mean things, and elections have consequences

(I have to wonder: Since Obama is the Anti-Christ, was this election also a rejection of Christianity?)

batshit crazy

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The reliably right-wing WSJ complained about criticism of Bush, decrying "the classless disrespect many Americans have shown the president" and the "relentless attacks" he has so steadfastly endured:

The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have. The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our nation during a very difficult time.

Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty -- a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.

Paul Krugman sarcastically examines their alternate universe, writing that:

Yes, George W. Bush's status as the most disliked man ever to occupy the White House shows that America was not worthy of him. And attacks on Bush gave aid and comfort to his enemies -- unlike the firehose of abuse that will be directed against President Obama, which will of course be an expression of true patriotism.

In addition to the inevitable Illinois Project, I'm awaiting the first sighting of a bumper-sticker reading

WAYNE LAPIERRE
IS MY PRESIDENT

which will be the sign of true GOPatriots, because nothing's more All-American than Faux-News-watching, KKK-Kool-Aid-drinking, dittohead wingnuts when they're obsessing over their guns.

Speaking of an alternate universe, James (Focus on the Phallus) Dobson's "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America" is one of the most batshit-crazy rants I've seen in a long time, although he describes it as:

"a picture of the changes that are likely or at least very possible if Senator Obama is elected and the far-Left segments of the Democratic Party gain control of the White House, the Congress, and perhaps then the Supreme Court."

What does Dobson envision? Here's a sampling:

  • Elementary schools now include compulsory training in varieties of gender identity in Grade 1
  • there are hardly any evangelical teachers in public schools any more.
  • The Bible can no longer be freely preached over radio or television stations
  • churches have no freedom to refuse...wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples
  • It is illegal for private citizens to own guns for self-defense
  • people older than 80 have essentially no access to hospitals or surgical procedures
  • Dozens of Bush officials, from the Cabinet level on down, are in jail, and most of them are also bankrupt from legal costs.

I have to admit that the last one doesn't sound too bad, but the rest of it strains creduility when it's not out-and-out fantasy. I haven't read such paranoid delusions since Tim (Left Behind) LaHaye's Mind Siege.

Over at HuffPo, Jim Wallis has a much more conciliatory response to Dobson's screed, although he still offers some pointed criticisms:

It is shocking how thoroughly biblical teachings against slander--misrepresentations that damage another's reputation--are ignored (Ephesians 4:29-31, Colossians 3:8, Titus 3:2).

[...]

This epistle of fear is perhaps the dying gasp of a discredited heterodoxy of conservative religion and conservative politics.

We can only hope.

a prediction

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I sympathize with the honest and dedicated GOP supporters who were disappointed by the election results, and I appreciate their concern for the future of our nation. There would be far less apprehension on their side of the aisle, however, if so many of them hadn't enthusiastically created and spread lies about Barack Obama. Republicans' anger at seeing Obama win the election will not truly abate until they can come to grips with the real reason they lost: the fear-mongering of McCain's campaign. The GOP's alarmist rhetoric was stoked by their desire to win at any cost--no matter how dishonorably--and this blindness is a cancer on their party that they alone can excise. Without repudiating their own extremists, even at the cost of losing Bible Spice's supporters, there is no way forward for them.

I'm going to go on the record and predict that the long-term Republican reaction to Obama's presidency will fall into these three camps:

  • The first, the center-right, will struggle to honestly examine Obama and will eventually admit that the rumors about him (radical, Muslim, socialist, antichrist, Kenyan, terrorist sympathizer, etc.) were false. I wouldn't be surprised to see the most fair-minded among them pulling the lever for Obama in 2012.
  • The second camp, further to the right, will concede little if any factual ground. They will continue to defend the indefensible smears against Obama, although perhaps less vocally than before. When admonished by fellow Republicans--as by McCain last night during his gracious concession speech--they may be able to keep their baser impulses under control.
  • The remaining faction, the far-right wingnuts, are probably already planning an "Illinois Project" (modeled after the infamous "Arkansas Project" that hobbled the Clinton presidency) to exacerbate the worst tendencies of the McCain campaign. I don't know what can survive in that unhealthy an atmosphere.

a mixed bag

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Obama's status as president-elect is indeed a positive indication of dwindling racial prejudice in America, and an accomplishment of which we can be proud. On a disheartening note, however, many state initiatives on the ballot yesterday have reinforced anti-LGBT discrimination (h/t: ACLU Blog of Rights):

  • Arizona passed a marriage-discrimination initiative
  • Arkansas approved an initiative prohibiting adoptions by unmarried couples (aimed at same-sex couples, whose marriages remain unrecognized)
  • California's marriage-discrimination constitutional amendment (Prop 8) http://www.noonprop8.com/ is ahead in the polls, although its final disposition remains uncertain
  • Florida passed a marriage-discrimination constitutional amendment

Joy tempered by sadness; is this an omen for the next four years?

Here is the nightmare that gave me a very uneasy sleep on election eve:

20081105-nightmare.jpg

Thankfully, the reality looked like this (h/t: Ron Chusid at Liberal Values) when weighted by population:

20081105-reality.jpg

Here's a pair of NYT maps that shows the R-to-D shift:


20081105-shift.jpg

Just like in an automobile, our country is in the right gear and ready to move forward again...with an occasional exception:

20081105-politicslikedriving.jpg

20081104-unamerican.jpg

(h/t: Bob Geiger)

two hours to go...

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edit (7:11pm):
I removed the Google widget that was here earlier...go to this HuffPo page to see the following widgets/maps: CNN, Google, MSNBC, and CBS.

Obamacans

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The number of Obamacans (Obama-supporting Republicans) has steadily increased over the past few months, and their endorsements are far more reality-based than those of the GOP's dead-enders. Here are a few of my favorites...

After decrying "the bluff, empty-headed plain-man's philistinism of McCain" and "his increasingly witless speeches," Christopher Hitchens writes that "it didn't seem possible that things could go any lower or get any dumber" until Palin's mouth opened to dispel any doubt about her unfitness for office:

This is what the Republican Party has done to us this year: It has placed within reach of the Oval Office a woman who is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus. Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured. And those who prate of spiritual warfare and demons are not just "people of faith" but theocratic bullies. On Nov. 4, anyone who cares for the Constitution has a clear duty to repudiate this wickedness and stupidity.

John Dean doesn't mince words, either, writing this about a potential McCain/Palin administration:

Frankly, it scares the hell out of me, for there is only one way to deal with these conservative zealots: Keep them out of power.

This election should be a slam dunk for Barack Obama, who has run a masterful campaign. It was no small undertaking winning the nomination from Hillary Clinton, and in doing so, he has shown without any doubt (in my mind anyway) that he is not only qualified to be president, but that he might be a once-in-a-lifetime leader who can forever change the nation and the world for the better.

If Obama is rejected on November 4th for another authoritarian conservative like McCain, I must ask if Americans are sufficiently intelligent to competently govern themselves.

In the Sunday Times, Andrew Sullivan takes a more measured tone, writing that if Obama is elected "we would be wise to resist euphoria or sentiment. But we would be wilfully blind not to sense the gravity and potential of the moment as well:"

We could have the first black president, with a congressional majority of a size not seen since Lyndon Johnson. We could see a landslide among the young. We could see an unprecedented African-American turnout - a moment when black Americans actively take ownership for the first time of the society in which they have always been such an integral part.

We simply do not know what new realities this moment could unleash. What we do know is that this is history - epic, deep, momentous history.

In a blog post today, Sullivan continued:

Unlike McCain, Obama has never wavered on torture or habeas corpus or on keeping the executive branch under the law. His deep understanding and awareness of the Constitution eclipses McCain's. Coming from the opposing party, he will also be able to restore confidence that what lies within America's secret government - the one constructed by Bush and Cheney beyond any accountability, law or morality - will be ended or cleaned up. He can restore critically needed trust again - and force the Democratic party to take responsibility for a war which we all need to own, and take responsibility for, again.

We cannot win this war without regaining our democratic soul, ending torture, and returning to lawful governance. [...] I endorse Barack Obama because I will not give up on America, because I believe in America, and in her constitution and decency and character and strength.

And the world needs that America now as much as it ever has. Can we start that healing, that rebirth, tomorrow?

Yes. We. Can.

NYC graphic designer Marco Acevedo posted a pair of Obama posters (here and here) in the style of the classic Blue Note jazz album covers (h/t: BAGnewsNotes):

20081102-boq1.jpg

20081102-boq2.jpg

Bravo, Mr Acevedo! I can almost hear Pee Wee Marquette announcing "Ladies and gentlemen, how about a big hand for the president of the United States..."

amazon.com

Davis, Todd. Kurt Vonnegut's Crusade: Or, How a Postmodern Harlequin Preached a New Kind of Humanism (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006)

Considering the brevity of Kurt Vonnegut's Crusade, Todd Davis spends far too much time (approximately the first fifth of the book) discussing Jean-François Lyotard and postmodernism, leaving scant space for his analyses of Vonnegut's novels.

Davis takes this observation

At the center of postmodern humanism is the assertion that life is precious and that every attempt should be made to improve the condition of our planet in order to preserve life. (p. 138)

and applies it to Vonnegut's work. It's an interesting book, and one which I will likely revisit after reading more of Vonnegut's novels; as yet, I've only read Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat's Cradle.

...Hawaii, just as we knew all along.

In response to the persistent right-wing rumors that Obama was born in Kenya--although that smear was debunked months ago--the Director of Hawaii's Department of Health, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, has released this statement (h/t: Ron Chusid at Liberal Values):

There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama's official birth certificate. State law (Hawai'i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.

Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai'i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawai'i State Department of Health has Sen. Obama's original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.

No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii.

The original stone tablet is probably in an exhibit of pre-Columbian antiquities, but here's a paper copy of McCain's birth certificate:


20081102-panama.jpg

It shows that McCain was born in the Panamanian city of Colon, which is "surrounded by, but not part of, the former Panama Canal Zone."

Apparently, John McCain is the presidential candidate who was actually born in a foreign country.

McCain is right!

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At an event in Ohio yesterday, McCain claimed that Obama "began his campaign in the liberal left lane of politics and has never left it."

Here's why McCain is correct:

20081101-slowerminds.jpg

In an interview with Chris Plante at WMAL yesterday morning, Sarah Palin complained about the media coverage of the McCain campaign. In itself, that is nothing new; the Right constantly alleges bias whenever their spin isn't treated as gospel truth. Their persecution complex leads to some astounding feats of projection (Coulter, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Goldberg, et al.), but seldom does it lead to an assertion this counter-factual:

"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."
(audio and transcript here at ThinkProgress)


Glenn Greenwald
takes her to school:

If anything, Palin has this exactly backwards, since one thing that the First Amendment does actually guarantee is a free press. Thus, when the press criticizes a political candidate and a Governor such as Palin, that is a classic example of First Amendment rights being exercised, not abridged.

This isn't only about profound ignorance regarding our basic liberties, though it is obviously that. Palin here is also giving voice to the standard right-wing grievance instinct: that it's inherently unfair when they're criticized. And now, apparently, it's even unconstitutional.

According to Palin, what the Founders intended with the First Amendment was that political candidates for the most powerful offices in the country and Governors of states would be free to say whatever they want without being criticized in the newspapers. In the Palin worldview, the First Amendment was meant to ensure that powerful political officials such as herself would not be "attacked" in the papers. Is it even possible to imagine more breathtaking ignorance from someone holding high office and running for even higher office?

Palin should read the Bill of Rights, including the First Amendment that she so clearly does not understand:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I don't see anything in there about political divas being immune from criticism.

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