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"It is better to be drunk with loss and to beat the ground, than to let the deeper things gradually escape."

- I. Compton-Burnett, letter to Francis King (1969)

"Cynical realism – it is the intelligent man’s best excuse for doing nothing in an intolerable situation."

- Aldous Huxley, "Time Must Have a Stop"

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Saturday, 2 April 2005

Topic: Photos

No entries today…

The sun is coming up and we’re off to Carlsbad – a few miles north of San Diego on the coast. Three family birthdays and one big party. Back tomorrow - and tomorrow, late in the afternoon, watch for the new issue of Just Above Sunset, the weekly parent site of this web log.

Posted by Alan at 08:06 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Friday, 1 April 2005

Topic: God and US

Vatican Matters: Who Would Say Something Bad About The Late Pope?

Christopher Hitchens, the hard-drinking acerbic defender of the war(s) and reluctant apologist for George Bush (we need to show that middle-easterners a thing or two and Bush is just the right guy to do that) ? who used to be of the left ? here takes on the Pope!

Oh my.

Papal Power
What no one else will say about John Paul II.
Christopher Hitchens - April 1, 2005, at 2:51 PM PT SLATE.COM

Well, the opening is just nasty ? as his problem is the pope and the Church stood by Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston ? and that?s hard to forgive.
The papacy is not, in theory, a man-made office at all. Its holder is chosen for life, by God himself, to hold the keys of Peter and to be the vicar of Christ on earth. This is yet another of the self-imposed tortures that faith inflicts upon itself. It means that you have to believe that the pope before last, who held on to the job for a matter of weeks before dying (or, according to some, before being murdered) was either unchosen by God in some fit of celestial pique, or left unprotected by heaven against his assassins. And it means that you have to believe that the public agony and humiliation endured by the pontiff was also part of some divine design. In the case of a presidency, or even a monarchy, provision can be made for abdication and succession when physical and mental deliquescence occur. But there could obviously not have been any graceful retirement in the case of John Paul II. The next vicar of Christ could hardly be expected to perform his sacred duties knowing that there was a still-living vicar of Christ, however decrepit, on the scene. Thus, and as with the Schiavo case, every last morsel of misery has been compulsorily extracted from the business of death. For the people who credit the idea, apparently, heaven can wait. Odd.

I leave it to the faith-based to wrestle with all this. Or rather, I would be happy to do so if they would stay out of my life. But there is one detail that sticks with me. A few years ago, it seemed quite probable that Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston would have to face trial for his appalling collusion in the child-rape racket that his diocese had been running. The man had knowingly reassigned dangerous and sadistic criminals to positions where they would be able to exploit the defenseless. He had withheld evidence and made himself an accomplice, before and after the fact, in the one offense that people of all faiths and of none have most united in condemning. (Since I have more than once criticized Maureen Dowd in this space, I should say now that I think she put it best of all. A church that has allowed no latitude in its teachings on masturbation, premarital sex, birth control, and divorce suddenly asks for understanding and "wiggle room" for the most revolting crime on the books.)
What Hitchens doesn't like?

Law fled the jurisdiction and has a sinecure at the Vatican. His job is to ?supervise priestly discipline? of all things. And he is part of the discussion about whether the Church really has to follow local law ? like our laws about molesting children.

The problem?
? it has been conclusively established that the Vatican itself?including his holiness?was a part of the coverup and obstruction of justice that allowed the child-rape scandal to continue for so long.

Yet everybody continues to pretend that this is no problem. We have all?haven't we??outgrown the anti-Catholic paranoia that used to manifest itself in the Know-Nothing Party. We all agree?don't we??that the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 was a landmark event for tolerance and inclusiveness and all that. Only a bigot would suggest that the church puts its believers into a quandary of dual loyalty.
Oh heck, count me in. Sheltering this man is unacceptable.

But I?m not Catholic. So I have no say.

In the rest Hitchens argues the Church is actually working ?to thwart or bend the law in a secular democracy.?

It?s an interesting read. Check it out.

Posted by Alan at 19:00 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005 19:01 PST home

Topic: Bush

The Report: Newsmen Don?t Throw Curveballs

Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, who often comments in the pages, says he thinks somebody should find some way to connect in print this week?s spy report, that showed Bush was getting "lies" and exciting "headlines" in his daily briefings on Iraq, and his statements at the time that the reason he doesn't read newspapers or watch television news because he'd rather get his news from the "objective" folks who put together his daily briefings.

Well, we do have a mess. The presidential commission investigating the intelligence fiasco that preceded the Iraq invasion reported this week that the damage done to US credibility would "take years to undo.? The general idea in the report was that American intelligence was in chaos, often paralyzed by the rivalry of fifteen different agencies and affected by unchallenged assumptions about Baghdad's supposed weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, the 601-page document is a comprehensive assessment of our intelligence failures and identifies breakdowns in dozens of cases involving multiple countries and terrorist organizations.

The conclusion? "The commission found no evidence of political pressure to influence the intelligence community's prewar assessments of Iraq's weapons programs."

George is off the hook. But it does mention that there are the dangers of intelligence leaders becoming too close to the president and risking the loss of objectivity.

Any news there? No.

Was this a whitewash? Some see it that way.

To anyone who says it was a whitewash there is this sarcastic comment here -
I'm shocked, shocked to think that anyone would interpret Dick Cheney's visits to the CIA, W's immediate assignment of blame to Iraq after 9/11 and Don Rumsfeld's, Colin Powell's and Condi Rice's flagrant disregard for facts, evidence and integrity in the run up to war as somehow proving much of the blame lies with senior cabinet members. Next you'll be asserting that the man who preaches personal responsibility and honesty should take a "buck stops here" approach and accept accountability for a war that never should have been fought. Oh and I'm sure you'll want to dredge up the ever changing "101 Best Reasons We Went to War" aided by the MSM [mainstream media] and how facts were interpreted at the White House in the worst possible light in order to justify an unjustifiable attack. Well if you're going to be a spoilsport, we'll just have to empanel another commission--this one to prove there never was a second Iraq war and that this has all been misinformation fed to us by that liberal media. That'll show you.

But who does the president trust for knowing what?s up? Here?s Michael Kinsley from October 16, 2003 explaining it all -
To President Bush, the news is like a cigarette. You can get it filtered or unfiltered. And which way does he prefer it? Well, that depends on the circumstances. When he is trying to send a message to the public, Bush prefers to have it go out unfiltered. He feels, for example, that the "good news about Iraq" is getting filtered out by the national media. "Somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the American people," he said the other day. So, lately he has been talking to local and regional media, whom he trusts to filter less.

But when he is on the receiving end, Bush prefers his news heavily filtered. "I glance at the headlines, just to get kind of a flavor," he told Brit Hume of Fox News last month. But, "I rarely read the stories" because "a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news." Instead, "I get briefed by [White House Chief of Staff] Andy Card and Condi [Rice, the national security adviser] in the morning."

The president concluded, "The best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."
Drat, it SO hard to find good servants these days!

But think about this -
? And where does the Rice-Card News Service obtain its uncontaminated information? Bush conceded his shocking suspicion that Rice and Card "probably read the news themselves." They do? Whatever is next? The president apparently is willing to tolerate the reading of newspapers by his staff members in the privacy of their own homes, as long as they don't flaunt this unseemly habit by bringing the wretched things into the White House or referring to them at staff meetings.

The president noted, though, that Rice and Card also get "news directly from participants on the world stage." ("Hi, Achmed?it's Condi. What's going on there in Baghdad? What's the weather like? And how's traffic? Thanks, I'll go tell the president and call you again in 15 minutes.") The notion that these world-stagers are sources of objective opinion while newspaper reporters are burdened by insuppressible opinions and hidden agendas is another odd one.
Well, you have to assume a functioning, inquisitive press, digging into things ? they call it investigating ? to go with Kinsley here. Does our press still do that?

But assume they had done that ? looking into things and asking probing questions and challenging the official word of the administration. Of course that is hard to imagine, given everyone what deathly afraid of being seen as unpatriotic and on ?the other side? with the bad guys - but try.

Ah, Bush would still have dismissed whatever was uncovered ? as he?d rather listen to the "actual participants on the world stage."

A fat lot of good that did him.

All these participant on the world stage were listening to Curveball.

Who? That would be a fellow who claimed to be an Iraqi chemical engineer who defected to the side of the good guys. That would be us. Unfortunately he was a liar and a drunk. The local paper here, the Los Angeles Times, broke the story on him in March of 2004 ? but he?s key now.

The Times follows up on that on, appropriately enough, April Fools Day.

Intelligence Analysts Whiffed on a 'Curveball'
Greg Miller and Bob Drogin, Friday, April 01, 2005

Cute headline, isn?t it?

Anyway, the details are depressing.

Like this -
Prewar claims by the United States that Iraq was producing biological weapons were based almost entirely on accounts from a defector who was described as "crazy" by his intelligence handlers and a "congenital liar" by his friends.

The defector, code-named "Curveball," spoke with alarming specificity about Iraq's alleged biological weapons programs and fleet of mobile labs. But postwar investigations showed that he wasn't even in the country at times when he claimed to have taken part in illicit weapons work.

Despite persistent doubts about his credibility, Curveball's claims were included in the Bush administration's case for war without so much as a caveat. And when CIA analysts argued after the war that the agency needed to admit it had been duped, they were forced out of their jobs.

The disclosures about Curveball and the extensive role he played in corrupting U.S. intelligence estimates on Iraq were included in a devastating report released Thursday by a commission established by President Bush to evaluate U.S. intelligence on weapons of mass destruction.

? U.S. intelligence agencies' reliance on Curveball and their failure to scrutinize his claims are described in the report as the "primary reason" that the CIA and other spy agencies "fundamentally misjudged the status of Iraq's [biological weapons] programs." No other episode is explored in as much detail, or recounted with as much evident dismay.

"Worse than having no human sources," the commission said, "is being seduced by a human source who is telling lies."
Well, at least Curveball wasn?t an investigative newspaper reporter.

The Times also notes that the CIA never even had access to Curveball. He was controlled by Germany's intelligence service, and they passed along the information they collected to our guys through the Defense Intelligence Agency - and that?s the Pentagon agency that at the time handled information from Iraqi defectors. So, false information, and secondhand too. And it seems the Defense Intelligence Agency used his stuff in a hundred reports or so. And according to the report, the Defense Intelligence Agency "did not even attempt to determine Curveball's veracity."

Oops. Really should have checked.

Oh yeah, that October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate claiming Iraq "has" biological weapons was "based almost exclusively on information obtained" from Curveball.

Not good. That?s what Colin Powell took to the UN.

But this is just classic -
? there were problems with Curveball's claims at an early stage. Some CIA officials noted that Curveball's memory showed significant "improvement" as he pursued a European immigration deal and deteriorated when it was granted.

In May 2000, a Defense Department official assigned to the CIA was allowed to meet with Curveball, apparently to examine the source physically to see whether he bore signs of having survived a biological weapons accident or had been vaccinated for exposure to such agents.

The evaluation was "inconclusive," according to the commission. But the official expressed concern that Curveball had a "hangover" during their meeting and "might be an alcoholic." Further, the official was surprised that Curveball spoke excellent English because the Germans had said he didn't speak the language.

By early 2001, the CIA was getting messages from German intelligence that Curveball was "out of control" and could not be located. Some of Curveball's information was contradicted by other intelligence. His description of a depot for the weapons labs didn't match surveillance images, which showed a wall where Curveball said vehicles were entering and exiting.

As war approached, new problems surfaced. Before Powell's presentation, the CIA pressed for permission to speak directly with Curveball. The head of one of the agency's divisions arranged a lunch with a German intelligence official.

The German official discouraged the idea, saying, "You don't want to see him because he's crazy," according to the commission report. The German went on to suggest that Curveball had suffered a nervous breakdown, that speaking with him would be "a waste of time," and that he might be a "fabricator."
Well, at least Curveball wasn?t a reporter.

Other stuff?
The commission report revealed details about problems with other prominent prewar claims. The CIA asserted that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes to be used as centrifuges in a nuclear weapons program, although authorities have since concluded they were for conventional rockets.

An allegation that Iraq was seeking to acquire uranium from Niger was based on "transparently forged documents" purporting to show a contract between the countries, the commission concluded. There were "flaws in the letterhead, forged signatures, misspelled words, incorrect titles for individuals and government entities," the report said.

The contract document also referred to an alleged meeting "that took place on 'Wednesday, July 7, 2000,' even though July 7, 2000, was a Friday," the report said.
Oh well, we wanted that stuff to be true.

Well, how to explain this all? Bush tried in a news conference this week (transcript here) that was pretty bizarre, as he had to speak of the death of that woman in Florida too.

What he said?
? the work intelligence men and women do is, by nature, secret, which is why the American people never hear about many of their successes. I'm proud of the efforts of our intelligence workers. I am proud of their commitment to the security of our country. And the American people should be proud too.

And that's why this report is important. It'll enable these fine men and women to do their jobs in better fashion, to be able to more likely accomplish their mission, which is to protect the American people. And that's why I'm grateful to the commission for this hard work.
Again, whatever.

But Juan Cole, that University of Michigan professor ? the expert in the Middle East ? was having no part of it, as he says here -
Bush's bizarre press conference on Thursday was according to the Washington Post "on Terri Schiavo and Weapons of Mass Destruction." That US newspapers report this bewildering juxtaposition without so much as a "Huh?" tells you to what estate political discourse in this country has fallen.

It should be obvious that Bush was cynically using the Schiavo tragedy to draw attention away from his massive intelligence failures with regard to alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Just as the Right employed the deaths of innocent Americans on 9/11 as a cover to pursue an unrelated war in Iraq, so Bush is using the death of an innocent woman to direct attention away from a supremely embarrassing report on US intelligence. Back when people used to put gold fillings in their teeth, it gave burglars an incentive occasionally to rob graves. This news conference was a sort of Public Relations grave robbery, and among the blackest moments in the history of the presidency.
Oh my! But Bush did say nice things about our intelligence folks, didn?t he?

That only made Cole angrier -
That is supposed to make it all right that we sent a high-tech army into a poor, weak country and turned it into a failed state, killing 40,000 innocent Iraqis and suffering over 1500 coalition troops dead and over 10,000 US troops wounded, many maimed for life, and spending $300 billion on it? For no reason? When the poor weak state did not in fact have the weapons of mass destruction that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz insisted it had? When they bullied anyone who questioned their evidence for all this, and got their billionaire buddies who own the media to have their anchors and editorialists also bully any dissidents?

Because intelligence work is hard and secret?

How does Bush square all the violence he has unleashed in the world with his praise of "life?" What is the link between war-mongering and being "pro-life?"
Well, yeah, if your read the transcript you?ll find Bush talking about protecting life, as in the Florida pull-the-plug controversy, and alluding to opposing abortion as also protecting life, and to the intelligence report. Are this connected?

Cole thinks so -
It turns out that anti-abortionism is not about life at all. It is about social control. It helps establish a hierarchical society in which men are at the pinnacle and women kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Likewise, the Schiavo case was in part about the religious Right dictating to Michael Schiavo how he must lead his private life.

This campaign is not really about life at all, as the examples of the raped woman or the woman whose pregnancy puts her life in danger demonstrate. It is about control, and the imposition of a minority's values on others.

And that is why the Iraq war is the perfect symbol for the anti-abortionists. Colonial conquest is always a kind of rape, but now the conquered country must bear the fetus of Bush-imposed "liberty" to term. The hierarchy is thus established. Washington is superior to Baghdad, and Iraq is feminized and deprived of certain kinds of choices.

And that is also how the Schiavo case makes sense in the end, because the religious Right feminized Michael Schiavo, made him into the pregnant woman seeking an "abortion," and wished to therefore deprive him of choice in the matter. If hierarchy is gendered, then the persons over which control is sought are always in some sense imagined as powerless women. Powerful non-fundamentalist men and uppity Third World countries that won't do as they are told are ultimately no different from feminist women seeking an abortion. All must be subdued, in the view of the Christian Right.

It is about hierarchy, power and control. It is not about life.
Perhaps you should read the whole Cole item at the link. You?ll see his point.

But Rick, The News Guy in Atlanta, only wanted someone to point out that the man who doesn?t trust those whose job it is to dig up what comes the closest to the truth in any matter would rather trust the secondhand news from Curveball that his staffers tell him about.

Well, there more to it. It?s a matter of hierarchy, power and control. The news guys are too uppity and they must be ridiculed and ignored. Heck, they?re kind of girly-men.

Posted by Alan at 17:14 PST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2005 17:17 PST home

Thursday, 31 March 2005

Topic: God and US

Holy War: The Tiger-by-the-Tail Problem

Was it hyperbole? Last week in Just Above Sunset you could find this - Meme Watch: The Republican Party Self-Destructs Before Our Eyes - "Early Monday morning, March 21 of this year, the Republican Party jumped the shark. The end began, the great unraveling. Everything shifted against them. …"

Well maybe not. But the meme rolls on, in no small part because of the death of Terri Schiavo.

Sidney Blumenthal, from the depths of the Clinton administration, rises again with this –

Political crackup
By intervening in the Schiavo case, Bush moved the religious right into the heart of the GOP. Now there will be hell to pay.
SALON.COM - Thursday, March 31, 2005

Echoing Pilgrims Progress and referencing Cardinal Richelieu in an odd way – Karl Rove is our Cardinal Richelieu? – this is the Tiger-by-the-Tail argument. The Bush administration played to their base of fervent Christian evangelicals and just lost control. As in this -
The Bush administration doesn't have a faith-based initiative; it is a faith-based initiative. When President Bush rushed back to the White House from his Crawford, Texas, ranch to show his urgency to sign the congressional bill on Terri Schiavo, who died Thursday at 41, he demonstrated his faith in the infallibility of his political strategy. Just months earlier in the 2004 presidential election he had proven its efficacy. By joining the flag to the cross, Bush's campaign linked the war on terrorism to the culture war. Under these banners Bush marched as the crusader king against barbarian hordes without and within.

… In unprecedented numbers evangelical Protestants and conservative "faithful" Catholics flocked to the polls to vote for him. Ballot initiatives in 11 swing states against gay marriage helped magnetize these constituencies. By a simple symbolic gesture in the Schiavo case he would become the transcendent holy warrior again, suddenly lifted by "values" from the slough of despond he had found himself in over his Social Security privatization scheme. It never dawned on him or his Cardinal Richelieu (Karl Rove) that the polls, like the heavens, would come crashing in on him.
Well, crashing down may be a tad over the top, but it may not have worked as planned.

Why do it? Because it worked before.
Bush believes that he won his reelection in great part on "values" and that all he needs to do to refresh his power is to invoke them. But in signing a private bill by Congress that could not stand constitutional scrutiny for the sake of gratifying a faction of the Republican base, he has exposed and inverted the raw politics of the culture war. Instead of being blinded by the light of his shining faith, the public was repelled by what it saw as crass exploitation.

After a week of damage, the White House was quietly leaking to the press that Bush had not wanted to return from Crawford after all. His effort to distance himself from the corrosive Schiavo issue had the effect of depicting him as ambivalent and indecisive -- the negative image he had sought to project of John Kerry.
And yes, that seems to be what the polls showed. So he is not talking about the business very much now.

But is Blumenthal correct is saying that Bush had no instinct that he was overreaching?

Consider this -
… In the beginning of his involvement in the Schiavo case, Bush acted on faith that it was a political gift. Why not? The politics of "values" had always enabled him to gain the offensive. For Reagan it had been morning again in America. Now it would be deathwatch in America. But Bush miscalculated the public response and lost control. Bush isn't using the religious right; it is using him.
That could be, but perhaps what we have here is a symbiotic relationship.

Blumenthal is having none of that.
The culture war has imploded inside the Republican Party. The religious fanatics and political freebooters who have flocked to the Schiavo deathwatch can never lose, no matter how extreme their pronouncements. Schiavo has given the religious right an invaluable lever with which to pressure Bush and the Republicans, who can never fully satisfy its demands if they are to sustain a national majority. The inviolability of marriage, states' rights, limited government, respect for the law -- these conservative principles must be cast aside in the struggle for power. Moreover, the Catholic right, a minority within both the American church and the religious right, has used this event to flex its muscles at evangelical Protestants as never before.

The battle over Schiavo is only proximately about Schiavo. The more spectacularly ghoulish the antics surrounding the Florida hospice, the more threatening the message being sent to Bush. A bigger prize looms. The shadow of political blackmail hangs over Bush's Supreme Court nominations. Bush's appointment of justices who meet the approval of the religious right, even if he had intended to appoint them all along, must be interpreted as its triumph in the Schiavo struggle. If he flouts its will, there will be hell for Republicans to pay. Bush has set himself up for appearing terrorized.

The challenge here for Bush. House majority leader Tom DeLay, who pretty much started all this, issued this statement a few hours after the Schiavo death.
Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Schindlers and with Terri Schiavo's friends in this time of deep sorrow.
That’s a threat. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior…"

Tom DeLay, our house majority leader, is now threatening judges, doctors and Terri Schiavo’s husband? Probably just the judges. Judicial activists killed Terri Schiavo, and they will pay?

As our columnist Bob Patterson comments –
Remember the old song about sure things, such as rain in Indianapolis in the summer?

I told you about Ohio being the turning point for Bush.

I've said Terri Schiavo will be a martyr for busting the filibuster. Well, today Hugh Hewitt said something about owing it to Terri to change the filibuster rules so "we" can get good judges in place.

I tell ya, Bush is going to get a third term.
Nope. Perhaps the filibuster will go the way of the Great Auk, and no one will ever again understand what Jimmy Stewart is doing in that old Frank Kapra movie, but things are getting hot on the right. Not everyone on that side is buying into the idea we need Christian, fundamentalist judges upholding God's natural law.

Take Glenn Reynolds here - one unhappy Republican.
Republicans like to point out that you have to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything. The leadership, at least, of the Republican Party has abandoned the principles of small government and federalism that it used to stand for. Trampling traditional limits on governmental power in an earnest desire to do good in high-profile cases has been a hallmark of a certain sort of liberalism, and it's the sort of thing that I thought conservatives eschewed. If I were in charge of making the decision, I might well put the tube back and turn Terri Schiavo over to her family. But I'm not, and the Florida courts are, and they seem to have done a conscientious job. Maybe they came to the right decision, and maybe they didn't; this is a hard case. But respecting the courts' role in the system, and not rushing to overturn all the rules because we don't like the outcome, seems to me to be part of being a member of civilized society rather than a mob. I thought conservatives knew this. Before things are over, they may wish they hadn't forgotten.
He sounds worried. And he’s not the only one.

Take John Danforth, the former Missouri senator who was, until January, this administration’s United Nations ambassador. Earlier in the week he wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times whining about how the Republican Party has become the "political arm of conservative Christians." Yipes!

But Tom Grieve reminds us here -
Danforth is an Episcopal minister who presided at Ronald Reagan's funeral and knelt in prayer and listened to "Onward Christian Soldiers" with Clarence Thomas during the justice's contentious confirmation hearings, but he has never been a favorite of the religious right. As the Washington Post noted in a 2004 profile, Danforth "voted against abortion rights but shied away from a leadership role in the movement." As a senator, he opposed school prayer, opposed the death penalty, and was what his former chief of staff called "an extremely aggressive advocate of the separation of church and state."

Still, Bush considered Danforth as a vice presidential candidate and then turned to him to represent the United States in the United Nations after John Negroponte left for Iraq last year. For such a prominent Republican with such a long relationship with the Bush family to speak out on the GOP's mind-meld with the religious right -- in the New York Times, no less -- has got to sting.
Maybe so, but he is the “other” kind of Republican.

There aren’t many of those speaking out. This whole Schiavo thing, and now her death, has them all spooked.

But he does say this - "The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement."

Grieve adds this -
It's not just the Republicans' intervention in the Schiavo case that's bothering Danforth. It's a series of initiatives, including the Republicans' support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and their opposition to stem cell research. "Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond," Danforth writes. "But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party."
Ah, it’s the larger package that bothers him.

Danforth –
During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.
Not likely now. It may be too late for any of these guys to take back the party. Bush, or really Karl Rove (Richelieu-lite), has given it to the Army of God.

And you know what they think of Episcopalians like Danforth. See this where you will find Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition exlaining matters: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist."

Perhaps, Dan, it’s time to leave the party. You’re not wanted.

Oh yes, the site at the link above also has some choice quotes from Randall Terry, the man the parents of Terri Schiavo selected to speak for them. I guess they didn’t do their homework. Or maybe they did. Terry’s previous views?
"I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good... Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a biblical duty, we are called by God to conquer this country. We don't want equal time. We don't want pluralism."

"Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the Ten Commandments. No apologies."

"When I, or people like me, are running the country, you'd better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we'll execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed."

"There is going to be war, [and Christians may be called to] take up the sword to overthrow the tyrannical regime that oppresses them."
I guess it’s time for a lot of Republicans to choose sides. Rove gave the party to Tom DeLay and these guys.

Now what?

Posted by Alan at 20:16 PST | Post Comment | Permalink

Topic: Election Notes

Anger Management: On Taking Politics Way Too Seriously

You know, the election was last December and there’s still fallout from it.

This is most curious. It seems a Bush supporter lost his temper and was, a few days ago, sentenced after he pled guilty to some unusual charges. He got a bit upset his girlfriend was going to vote for Kerry. I like the part where he asks his girlfriend to kill him, because a vote for Kerry meant he was going to die anyway.

Some folks take politics way too seriously.

Teen pleads guilty to attacking girlfriend for her Kerry support
Missy Stoddard – South Florida (Miami – Palm Beach) Sun-Sentinel - March 31, 2005
Steven Soper had his life all mapped out.

The 18-year-old from Lake Worth had been accepted into the Army and planned to enlist after graduating this spring from Santaluces High School.

But the plan came apart in late October when he attacked his girlfriend after learning she planned to vote for Sen. John Kerry in the presidential election.

Soper pleaded guilty Wednesday to false imprisonment, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, battery and resisting arrest without violence. Circuit Judge Jorge Labarga sentenced Soper to 90 days in jail followed by five years of probation and 100 hours of community service. The judge ordered Soper to write a letter of apology to 18-year-old Stacey Silveira, whom he dated for two years, according to Silveira. Soper is also required to complete a batterers' intervention program, undergo psychological and substance abuse evaluations and complete any recommended treatment.
Yes, but what did he DO?
Silveira's neighbor west of Boynton Beach called 911 on Oct. 26 after seeing Soper carrying Silveira as she screamed "no, no, no," Assistant State Attorney Tim Beckwith said. Soper pointed a knife at Silveira and threatened to kill her, he added. A deputy found evidence of a struggle inside the home, including a broken pot.

Soper dragged Silveira, kicking and screaming, into her house before throwing her to the floor and spitting on her, police reports said. Soper reportedly bit Silveira and then placed a knife in her hand and told her to kill him, because a vote for Kerry would mean he would die anyway.
Okay, he’s a passionate fellow. And his defense attorney commented that this passionate fellow had many relatives in the military, and, sadly enough, “had every intention of going to other parts of the world to defend the United States." So we lost a good soldier? I guess that’s what the defense attorney is implying.

Well, we do learn from the Sun that the fellow has dropped out of high school – but he is now working on his general equivalency diploma. And he still hopes to one day serve in the military. Perhaps there’s a place for him at Guantanamo. He can join this fellow there.

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