Christianity, GOP-style

Imagine how the rest of the world, especially the non-Christian world, must think the most important Christian values are in the United States:

I mean, say you’d never read the bible and you were trying to figure out what it’s all about based solely on how it’s represented in public politics. You’d have to assume that Jesus was this, like, insanely angry dude who had a lot of ideas about how the Romans ought to run their government and totally fucking hated gays more than anything. In fact, you would fairly guess that Jesus talked about his theories on sexuality, birthing, and science like 99% of the time, but maybe had, like, a passing hobby where he gave soup cans to lepers on thanksgiving or whatever.

(From Big Picnic via The Poor Man. )

Blog from Iraq

Dahr Jamail is doing the type of reporting that most of the rest of the media won’t or can’t. As sad and scary as these blog entries are I think everyone should take a look and get a rude wake up to the reality of what this “war for democracy” is doing to civilian Iraqis.

I am so appalled that this is being done in the name of this country and in the name of freedom. The stories about Fallujah are especially troubling.

And for anyone that thinks that we are going anywhere after the elections I would just like to remind them of the 14 “enduring” US military bases that are currently under construction.

Regardless of the success or failure of the Iraqi election, we should all be ready for US troops to be in Iraq for a very long time.

The Committee of World Security

I didn’t think Donald Rumsfeld could be any scarier but after reading this article in the Washington Post (reprinted in the Seattle Times) I’m ready for The Rapture. Apparently, our military doesn’t have enough reliable intelligence and Porter Goss in charge of the CIA hasn’t convinced Rummy that the situation is about to change.

“The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld’s written order to end his “near total dependence on CIA” for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary’s direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.”
Continue reading “The Committee of World Security”

IOKIYAR

I have to agree with Robert at LGM when he calls this column, titled “Worse than fiction,” Krugman’s best. Excerpting:

I’ve been thinking of writing a political novel. It will be a bad novel because there won’t be any nuance: the villains won’t just espouse an ideology I disagree with – they’ll be hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels.

In my bad novel, a famous moralist who demanded national outrage over an affair and writes best-selling books about virtue will turn out to be hiding an expensive gambling habit. A talk radio host who advocates harsh penalties for drug violators will turn out to be hiding his own drug addiction.

In my bad novel, crusaders for moral values will be driven by strange obsessions. One senator’s diatribe against gay marriage will link it to “man on dog” sex. Another will rant about the dangers of lesbians in high school bathrooms.

In my bad novel, the president will choose as head of homeland security a “good man” who turns out to have been the subject of an arrest warrant, who turned an apartment set aside for rescue workers into his personal love nest and who stalked at least one of his ex-lovers.

In my bad novel, a TV personality who claims to stand up for regular Americans against the elite will pay a large settlement in a sexual harassment case, in which he used his position of power to – on second thought, that story is too embarrassing even for a bad novel.

In my bad novel, apologists for the administration will charge foreign policy critics with anti-Semitism. But they will be silent when a prominent conservative declares that “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.”

In my bad novel the administration will use the slogan “support the troops” to suppress criticism of its war policy. But it will ignore repeated complaints that the troops lack armor.

The secretary of defense – another “good man,” according to the president – won’t even bother signing letters to the families of soldiers killed in action.

Last but not least, in my bad novel the president, who portrays himself as the defender of good against evil, will preside over the widespread use of torture.

How did we find ourselves living in a bad novel? It was not ever thus. Hypocrites, cranks and scoundrels have always been with us, on both sides of the aisle. But 9/11 created an environment some liberals summarize with the acronym Iokiyar: it’s O.K. if you’re a Republican.

Josh Marshall on W’s big con

Josh at Talking Points Memo has a great post this morning that outlines why the “Social Security Crisis!” is really just the flipside of our huge national debt addiction–and how privatization is really a way of leaving the middle class and working poor with the bill for 25 years of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

The United States has a bit over $7 trillion in accumulated national debt. You can say that’s been built up over the history of the country. But overwhelmingly it was borrowed over what happens to be the span of my lifetime — the last thirty-five years — and especially over the last twenty-five years.

After 1980 we started borrowing money big-time to finance our deficits — in large part because of tax cuts on high-income earners. However you want to slice it, we started spending substantially more than we were taking in in tax revenue.

So where’d we borrow the money?

This is from memory, so I may have the numbers a bit off. But I believe about $4 trillion of that debt was borrowed on the open market — individual Americans have them in their investment portfolios, or pension funds hold them, or the Chinese, Japanese and the Saudis and others have them in bonds.

But about $3 trillion of those dollars we needed to fund the 1980s and 1990s deficits we managed to borrow closer to home. We borrowed it from the Social Security (and a few other government) trust fund(s).

Almost the entirety of President Bush’s Social Security phase-out plan comes down to a simple proposition: finding out how not to pay it back.

Now, admittedly, this is an approach that the president is rather familiar with from his own business career at various failed energy companies. But it is, in so many words, a straight up con — one of vast scale, and one which virtually no one in the media ever frames in just these terms.

Before discussing that aspect of the question, consider a hypothetical. Let’s say there’d not been a Social Security — President Bush’s dreamworld. We’d still have had the same deficits. The difference would be that we’d have had to borrow from private borrowers in the US and abroad.

Think we’d just be able to decide not to pay them back? Not likely. The Joneses and the Smiths with their 401ks probably wouldn’t like that. And the Japanese and Saudis probably wouldn’t like it much either. Of course, defaulting on our entire national debt would also certainly trigger a seismic international financial crisis. So you can probably figure that no one would be a huge fan of it.

So why does the president figure he can get away without making good on the debt to the folks who pay Social Security taxes, who are overwhelmingly low and middle-income wage earners (since no one pays Social Security tax on investment income or wage and salary income over about $85,000 a year)?

Isn’t it obvious? Because he thinks they’re an easy mark.

the king is dead, long live the fool

Jerry Falwell is at it again.

Why, oh why must we take people like this seriously? Isn’t there some sort of legal challenge that can be brought against this type of activity? Isn’t it illegal to enforce a religious test upon public officials? Yes, I know, it is illegal for the government to do it. How do we get this guy to go away?

I want my country back.

Good news! Everything’s fine!

Apparently not a member of the “reality-based community” John Ashcroft announced that he is resigning as Attorney General because “The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.”

I am breathing such a sigh of relief. I’m putting away the bat signal, since there’s nothing to worry about. Think of all the money we no longer have to spend on police, 911, Homeland Security. Everything will now balance out even WITH all those tax cuts for the rich.

how “morality” is crippling our democracy

I found myself at 1:00 am pondering the bizarre result that “morality” was one of the most important drivers for voters at the polls. Equally disturbing is that an overwhelming majority of those waving this particular flag voted for Bush. In this particular election cycle, “morality” became the pollster/network shorthand for divisive social issues; abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, equal pay… “Morality” in the United States has become intolerant, hateful and politically handy. (continued)
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