Filtered news 11/17

"The radical homosexual agenda will not stop until religion is outlawed in this country.
They threaten your very survival. They will not stop until they force their agenda down your throats."
-- Michael Savage, trying so very hard to get some attention,

Mr. Orwell would be sooooo proud "The U.S. government has vowed that Americans will never be hungry again. But they may experience 'very low food security.' "Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. But not this year. Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said 'hungry' is 'not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food security survey.' Nord, a USDA sociologist, said, 'We don't have a measure of that condition.'" (WaPo)

"White rednecks…didn’t show up to vote for us." -- Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL), according to , on the GOP’s defeat in the midterm elections.

Fox guarding the chicken coup (kiss off bipartisanship) "The Bush administration has appointed a new chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked at a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as 'demeaning to women.' "Eric Keroack, medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass., will become deputy assistant secretary for population affairs in the next two weeks, department spokeswoman Christina Pearson said yesterday." (WaPo)

"I’m not going to negotiate my problems with the goddamn press…Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!" -- Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), quoted by , responding to a question from a reporter.

Is this American justice? "The U.S. military called no witnesses, withheld evidence from detainees and usually reached a decision within a day as it determined that hundreds of men detained at Guantanamo Bay were 'enemy combatants,' according to a new report. The analysis of transcripts and records by two lawyers for Guantanamo detainees, aided by more than two dozen law students, found that hearings that determined whether a prisoner should remain in custody gave the accused little opportunity to contest allegations against him. "'These were not hearings. These were shams,' said Mark Denbeaux, an attorney and Seton Hall University law professor who along with his son, Joshua, is the author of the report. They provided an advance copy of the report to The Associated Press late Thursday and planned to release it Friday on the Internet." (AP)

The cleanup job begins Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) that would amend the existing law governing military tribunals of detainees. Among other things, the bill “seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees” and narrow the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to individuals who directly participate in hostilities against the United States.

Begging Bush's puppet masters Former Secretary of State to urge their cooperation in quelling the violent insurgency. The developments suggest the Iraq Study Group “will recommend that President George W. Bush reverse current policy and engage in talks with the leadership in Damascus.”

Smell that? Fresh air! The incoming majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday “vowed to impose intense oversight on the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division next year, telling a Bush administration official in charge of the agency that the next Congress will scrutinize .”

Oh, oh. He'll be looking for work soon The Pentagon announced today that , “where fierce fighting has claimed at least 21 U.S. servicemembers this month.” Reacting to the Pentagon announcement, Shephard Smith said “no one should be surprised by any of this” because it “was clear before the election that changes were essential.” But Smith pointed out, “They had to wait until after the election to make changes for political reasons, which I find disgusting.”

"Tony Blair said in January 2004 that Iraq was about to enter "a very critical six months."
Chuck Hagel said "the next six months will be very critical" in August 2005, and Biden said
"the next six months are going to tell the story" in December 2005. Gen. George Casey said
in early October that "the next six months will determine the future of Iraq." And a certain
New York Times columnist has declared the importance of the "next six months" so many
times that 180 days is now known in some circles as 'a Friedman.' "
--Tim Grieve,

Tricky Dick Thirty three years ago today, in 1973, Richard Nixon : "...people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook." And that settled that.

Unwelcome visitors. delivers the bad news:

The Department Of Homeland Security claimed to have "reliable information" Monday that al-Qaeda is proceeding with a plan to dispatch to the United States 120 million operatives trained to antagonize and disrupt every American household. "These domestic operatives are already highly knowledgeable about their assigned families' daily schedules, eccentricities, and deepest desires," said DHS secretary Michael Chertoff. "All we can say is that they are serious, they are committed, and they have a lot more members than we ever imagined." While Chertoff said people should go about their daily lives as normally as possible, he did urge people to be diligent in reporting any unusual activity or suspicious Arab-looking men in their kitchens, bedrooms, closets or underneath their dinner tables.

 

I give the evildoers assigned to pester and his gang about 5 minutes before they flee...in terror.

"Bush is in Southeast Asia this week and because of the metric system.
his approval rating over there is actually 62 percent." -- David Letterman

Seriously, who gave that idiot David Ignatius a platform to say ridiculously stupid shit like ?

 

The new House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, had a disastrous post-election week in which her first priority seemed to be settling scores rather than solving these big problems. Shame on her!

 

 

Pelosi isn't speaker, Hastert is. Nevermind that Republicans had their own tightly contested elections when, well, they still have control of Congress and could be fixing "these big problems." Memo to these morons -- elections are held now so that when Pelosi takes over in January, she can start solving "these big problems" with the leadership team in place.

Bush in Vietnam He actually :

The president said there was much to be learned from the divisive Vietnam War — the longest conflict in U.S. history — as his administration contemplates new strategies for the increasingly difficult war in Iraq, now in its fourth year. But his critics see parallels with Vietnam — a determined insurgency and a death toll that has drained public support — that spell danger for dragging out U.S. involvement in Iraq.

"It's just going to take a long period of time for the ideology that is hopeful — and that is an ideology of freedom — to overcome an ideology of hate," Bush said after having lunch at his lakeside hotel with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, whose country has been one of America's strongest allies in Iraq, Vietnam and other conflicts.

"We'll succeed," Bush added, "unless we quit."

Prescription drugs With the battle for majority leader out of the way, Nancy Pelosi can now begin to concentrate on her legislative agenda. One of the top items on that agenda is allowing the federal government to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, a common-sense proposal that would result in lower costs for both the government and for senior citizens on Medicare.

But wait. If the feds negotiate prices, then prices will go down. And if prices go down, pharmaceutical companies might make less money. And if pharmaceutical companies make less money, they'll do less basic research and churn out fewer lifesaving drugs. As Jonathan Cohn says in The New Republic, this is "a potent argument."

The most important basic medical and scientific research that leads to major medical breakthroughs usually takes place under government auspices — typically, through grants from the National Institutes of Health. In other words, taxpayers — not drug companies — are the ones financing the most important drug research today. So, even if the pharmaceutical industry did reduce its research and development investment because of declining revenues, what we'd lose probably wouldn't be the next cure for cancer — it would be the next treatment for seasonal allergies, and likely no better than the ones we have already.

Cohn also addresses some of the other arguments for insisting that the government should pay above-market prices for prescription drugs, and finds them all wanting. Read the whole thing.

Corruption watch Last night, David Kurtz (nee TPM's Reader DK) that the New York State Police demoted a 28-year veteran detective following the pre-election leak of a police report detailing a 9-1-1 domestic disturbance call from the house of Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY). Sweeney's attorney insists he was the guy who leaked the police report to the press. So Sweeney got his retribution, it would seem. But he should have been warned -- whom the gods would destroy, they first make angry. And this morning, the story just turned sharply against Sweeney: This morning, the Albany Times-Union that the State Police may have faked a vague version of the original police report filed from the incident, to protect Sweeney in case the document became public:

State Police took steps to "lock up" a 911 report about a call to Congressman John Sweeney's home last year by creating an alternate version that lacked key details, an informed source said Thursday. The full report on the domestic incident was concealed because of concern it could be used against Sweeney during his re-election campaign this fall, the source said. Since the emergency call did not result in any arrest -- Sweeney and his wife, Gaia, called off the alert -- State Police officials created a less specific version to guard against leaks of the original, according to the source.

Part of the cost of Bush's crime "A soldier was sentenced Thursday to 90 years in prison with the possibility of parole for conspiring to rape a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and kill her and her family. Spc. James P. Barker, one of four Fort Campbell soldiers accused in the March 12 rape and killings, pleaded guilty Wednesday and agreed to testify against the others to avoid the death penalty." (AP)

Dragging them, kicking and screaming, into this century "Pentagon guidelines that classified homosexuality as a mental disorder now put it among a list of conditions or 'circumstances' that range from bed-wetting to fear of flying. The new rules are related to the military's retirement practices. The change does not affect the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that prohibits officials from inquiring about the sex lives of service members and requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay. The revision came in response to criticism this year when it was discovered that the guidelines listed homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders. Mental health professionals said Thursday they were not satisfied by the change." (AP)

The lying liars On The Factor Thursday night, Dick Morris called Jack Murtha an "ultra liberal." I'd like to know in what compartment of his Clinton hating mind is stored that disinformation? Read this piece at your own peril. Anybody who's being honest knows that Jack Murtha is a Conservative Democrat. Check out That was one of the questions that had many people uneasy if he did become Majority leader. Morris knows this, but has to smear Murtha because he just can't help throwing some good old fashioned FOX NEWS propaganda O'Reilly's way. This is the type of coverage FOX will be providing the next two years. The

The Bush administration is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II," reports. The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year, which began last month, several lawmakers and congressional staff members said. That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007. Since 2001, Congress has approved $502 billion for the war on terror, roughly two-thirds for Iraq. The latest request, due to reach the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress next spring, would make the war on terror more expensive than the Vietnam War." Flashback: Former Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey was ousted from the administration after he suggested the Iraq conflict could cost $200 billion.

Now on DVD If you missed it in the theaters, Al Gore's is now available on DVD. According to the , the documentary "made the short list" for Academy Awards consideration.

Weak thinking or You're bigoted toward my bigotry, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel carried a perfect example of poor thinking of the anti-gay marriage crowd:

 

Supporters of same-sex marriage generally fall into two groups. The first group supports it purely on grounds of equality and treating others humanely regardless of race, origin, creed, etc. I can't argue with those supporters' motives, only with their judgment and apparent disregard for the importance of the traditional family unit. I place the aforementioned writer in this camp. At least we can talk.

The second group is more subliminal in practice. Those supporters wrap their arguments around the notion of equality, but what they actually want is societal re-engineering, and they'll say or do just about anything to achieve it. They insist that anyone rejecting the notion of same-sex marriage is motivated solely by bigotry. ...What those supporters really want is for the rest of us to dispense with our construct of an acceptable family model. (That's the big deal.) Their imperative to recognize a same-sex union as a marriage has more to do with destroying long-held societal notions of what constitutes a family than it has to do with equality. ..To oppose an expanded definition of marriage does not equate to bigotry. Preserving the nuclear family is a cause most people hold as an immutable necessity for a stable society.

All too often, one can, with impunity, accuse anyone of bigotry or racism. Just cloak your arguments under the protective banner of "diversity" or "inclusiveness." No standard of proof or reason is required.

 

There are several points in the column worth demolishing: that same-sex couples don't face substantial roadblocks in establishing a common life, that heterosexual partnerships are natural and therefore moral, that marriage has been the same for "thousands of years," and that Defense Of Marriage Acts only affect "less than 2% of the population." Come to think of it, this piece is like one big stew of wingnut talking points.

It's also worth pointing out - while not necessarily attacking - the writer's contention that radical supporters of same-sex marriage have the destruction of "long-held societal notions of what constitutes a family." I'd say what they really want is to be included in those notions, or as close to them as they can get, but whatever. The point is that what motivates people like this columnist is a perception that traditional family bonds are under attack in our country. This has been described as a conflict between a "negotiated family" structure and what I'd call a "covenant family." In the first - often described, inaccurately, as the "postmodern" family - roles are changeable, depending on circumstance. Some years Papa goes out to earn a living, some years he stays home and bakes bread. The "covenant family" has roles that more structured: grandpa does this, grandma does that, and they stick around to help Mom and Dad raise Sis and Junior. It's a lot more complex than that, of course, but what we should notice without judging is that those folks who live in a covenant family often feel threatened by the idea of negotiated families. Heather cannot have two mommies - that's not a family.

But here's why I bring this all up: what this columnist is saying, essentially, is that he's not willing to accomodate a different family structure, and because he doesn't bear personal animosity toward those his intransigence affects, it's bigoted to insist that he make such an accomodation.

The long-term trends are away from his position. The whole reason we're seeing a wave of constitutional amendments on the issue is to enshrine the status quo before the votes shift toward legalization of same-sex marriage. Twenty or thirty years from now, I believe the issue will have been decided with the current situation essentially reversed. But between here and there, we'll see many conservatives searching for new reasoning to bolster their arguments. Look for more arguments against the bigotry of diversity.

A clergyman explores "intolerance for intolerance" or You're bigoted toward my bigotry, Part II

My colleagues and I have been chewing over a situation the past couple of weeks. The local hospital built itself a new facility recently, and as part of that new facility, they built a chapel space. And as part of that chapel space - which I'm told is lovely - they brought in a Catholic bishop, a rabbi, and an imam to dedicate symbols of their respective faiths, which are proudly displayed in the chapel.

This struck the local Missouri Synod Lutherans as Wrong and Bad, and they wrote to the hospital administration to say as much. The Missouri Synod, if you'll recall, has something of a stumbling block about anything that resembles ecumenicity, let alone interfaith worship. They ran out one of their adminstrators after he participated in an interfaith service in New York City commemorating 9/11 just days after it happened. Their point on such things is pretty simple: we're right, everybody else is wrong, and until they admit that, we want nothing to do with them. It's not the spiritual path most Americans would choose, but there it is.

Anyway, the Missouri Synod types objected, representing their own feelings and most likely those of some of the more conservative evangelicals in our neck of the woods. The hospital, wanting to hear both sides of the issue, asked for a meeting with them and with some local UCC pastors. (The UCC is often tagged as the representative of ecumenicalism. We're usually happy to oblige.)

You can imagine that things got pretty heated. It was so bad that at the end of the meeting, one pastor gave thanks that they at least had avoided fisticuffs, and it was an honest thanksigiving. That's bad.

The UCC was charged with being "blasphemers," among other things, for wanting to keep the Star of David and crescent moon displayed. They were also heavily criticized for supporting the ministry of the lead chaplain - a Catholic nun. She was identified as the source of all the problems, and we were protecting her.

But it wasn't all lashing out. At another point in the conversation, one of the Missouri Synod pastors articulated his fear that the "weak reeds and smoldering wicks" in his congregation would be led astray by being exposed to symbols of another faith. Might encourage them to experiment or something, I guess. He got the appropriate response: if you're worried about the spiritual state of your members, then you have work to do.

The hospital, meanwhile, asked our group of pastors to write a brief memo to the Board of Directors outlining a proposed remedy for the situation, and that's what we've been working on for the past couple of weeks. We haven't been able to come to as much agreement as we'd like. A few of us think we just tell the Missouri Synod dudes to go jump in the lake. Others want to see if a compromise is possible, while recognizing that the Missouri Synod is not exactly known for its deal-making. Still others want to write pastorally, grieving the division in the body of Christ and seeking healing between the sides.

I myself started out in agreement with the "tell them tough knortchkie" position. Later, I made a different suggestion: tell the hospital we'd support them in their efforts to provide what they thought best for the patients, but we would expect that any remedy be fairly applied.

Because of our disagreement, I think we're going to write separate, personal letters, rather than a single one from the group. One of our members lamented this, asking if we shouldn't try to find some common ground, among ourselves and with the other folks.

I can honor his intention, though I've never been one to believe that unity requires giving up all divergence of opinion. I tell you the whole story because it represents in microcosm a dynamic that we are likely to see played out again and again on a larger scale in our culture. Boiling the question down, it becomes: How - if at all - do we accomodate those who will not accomodate others? We live in a diverse society that is getting more diverse by the day. The fact of the matter is that this hospital wouldn't feel the need to have Jewish and Muslim symbols on display were they not seeing patients from those faiths. Yet there are some people who are not willing to acknowledge difference. Or perhaps put better, they can acknowledge difference, but they insist on a single structure of right and wrong. If you want to be philosophical about it, they don't buy into the post-modern project of multiple overlapping conversations, moral or otherwise. They insist that there's a right way and a wrong way, and the same one applies to everyone.

If you look around for it, this problem pops up all over the place. Let me list some examples, with the understanding that I'm not judging, just naming:

  • Christians who believe that public mores should be in accord with Biblical Teaching, for example, that the schools should teach the Ten Commandments;
  • "English only" advocates;
  • Muslim immigrants who will not integrate into Western society (this is more an issue in Europe);
  • Whites who remain openly or tacitly segregationist;
  • "Hard" atheists who believe that religious belief is active danger to society.

 

I'm sure we could sit around all day and think up examples. I've probably missed some liberal examples, because that's the way these things work. My common sense is your intransigence. The big example cited by conservatives is the supposed "intolerance of intolerance," meaning that liberals push tolerance down everyone's throats. From where I sit, accepting differences of opinion is the price you pay for participating in the conversation, but hey, that's just my perspective.

I don't have a solution to the problem or any great insight. I just wanted to note it, particularly in the context of the results of the 2006 elections. bheuvel67 helpfully pointed me to a couple of on the subject which note that more than ever, the Republican party is a Southern phenomenon. That's going to have a double-whammy effect: first, as the GOP becomes more beholden to a region that is significantly more conservative than the rest of the nation, expect its "intolerant" rhetoric to increase. Second, as the GOP tracks with a region that is culturally distinct from the rest of the nation, expect there to be a lot more questions about what the limits of tolerance and accomodation are. In many ways, this is going to be the question of cultural politics in the 21st century, particularly as we move away from being a majority-white nation to one that is more equally distributed, as well as one in which Christianity is less dominant. Expect to hear it asked again and again.

Published

November 20, 2006 - 8:22am

Author

randomness